Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update?

Installing Windows 11

Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update? Here’s a Quick Guide

Microsoft’s new operating system has generated considerable interest from users and tech experts. Windows 11 brings many key new features that enhance the overall user experience. From October 5, 2021, Microsoft will roll out the update to eligible Windows 7 and 10 users. The OS will also become standard in new devices.

Once the rollout commences, you can upgrade your personal computer using the default Windows update feature. However, the upgrade is only available for computers that meet the minimum system requirements. If your PC does not meet the requirements, you can opt to implement the recommended workaround. However, the workaround uses solutions outside of the Windows ecosystem.

On the other hand, the Windows Insider Program is already offering access to a preview build. This preview is available exclusively to Windows Insider Program members. Microsoft recently released an ISO file to allow members to install the new operating system directly. As a first build, the preview version does not come with a complete set of Windows 11 features.

Installing Windows 11

Downloading Windows 11 Using an ISO File

If you opt to download the Windows 11 preview build, you can copy the operating system directly from the file to a compact disc or a USB drive. With the external drive, it becomes easier to install Windows 11 to a virtual machine, dual-boot system, or personal computer.

Since this option is only available to Windows Insider Program members, you need to register if you are not already a member. Once registered, you are eligible to download the ISO file via the Windows Insider Preview downloads page. Microsoft offers two preview versions from which to choose: the Beta channel and the Dev channel.

With the Dev channel, you gain access to the latest updates and Windows 11 features. On the downside, this preview build is typically buggier. For a more stable version, opt for the Beta channel. The downloads page allows you to choose a product language before proceeding with the download.

Installing the ISO File

The installation process varies, depending on the target device. You can install the file directly to a virtual machine using the VM application. Meanwhile, the installation process differs significantly when the target device is a dedicated PC or a dual-boot system. In this case, you need to copy the file to removable media using the Windows USB/DVD download tool. Experts recommend this utility because it makes your DVD or USB drive bootable.

It is vital to choose an external drive with adequate space to accommodate approximately 5GB. Thus, consider using a USB drive rather than a DVD. Standard DVDs typically come with roughly 4.8GB of storage space. Dual-layer variants provide up to 8.5GB of space.

Downloading Windows 11 After the Official Release Date

If you opt to wait for the official Windows 11 rollout, you can upgrade your PC the traditional way. Microsoft allows you to download the files via the Windows update feature. You simply click the install updates button in Windows 7 or check the updates button in Windows 10, and you will get a new OS.

However, the new OS may become available on your device several months after the official rollout date. So the quickest way to get your hands on the final build is to buy a new computer.

Microsoft will complete the rollout process by mid-2022. Factors that determine when Windows 11 will be available for your PC include age and hardware. In addition, the free upgrade is only available to licensed Windows 7 and 10 operating systems.

What to Expect From Windows 11

The upgrade brings many useful features, such as access to Android apps via the Microsoft Store. In addition, you can also look forward to enhanced communication capabilities, thanks to the integrated Microsoft Teams app. Windows 11 also boasts a revamped design, incorporating pastel colors, a centralized Start button, and a new startup sound.

Microsoft also introduces a wide selection of new desktop tools, including widgets. The new OS simplifies virtual desktop creation for added convenience. On the gaming front, Windows 11 leverages the full power of advanced technologies for a superior gaming experience.

Examples of the gaming technologies that unlock your device’s full gaming potential include DirectX 12 Ultimate, Direct Storage, and Auto HDR. These technologies enhance graphics quality and loading time for a captivating visual experience.

If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them

Computer Network Firewall Cisco

If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them

A security flaw discovered in RV110W, RV130, RV130W, and RV215W Cisco routers creates significant vulnerabilities. Traditionally, these UPnP (universal plug and play) routers would receive security updates from the vendor. However, Cisco recently announced that it has no plans to release a security patch for the devices. As a result, the company recommends replacing the routers.

Security experts noted that the four devices fell victim to the remote command execution vulnerability. Improper validation of inputs triggers the vulnerability (CVE-2021-1459), which has a common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS) score of 9.8 out of 10. This issue affects the router’s management interface.

If you fail to replace the routers, you create an opportunity for a cybercriminal to execute code on the router. The remote attacker can exploit the device without authentication by delivering specially designed HTTP requests. In such cases, the bad actor assumes the root user status on the underlying operating system. As a result, it becomes easier to execute arbitrary code or launch a denial of service (DoS) attack.

Experts believe that replacing the routers forms part of a more comprehensive cybersecurity measure to harden network defenses. Failing to heed the recommendation is not an option, irrespective of company size.

Computer Network Firewall Cisco

End of Support

Cisco is not releasing a security patch because the routers are nearing the end of their working life. Additionally, support is ending for the devices. Although there are no known exploitation instances and proof of concept exploits, you should take risks posed by the security flaw seriously. If you need more time before replacing the devices, consider disabling the virtual private network (VPN) service. Doing so mitigates the risk of an attacker remotely exploiting this feature.

According to Cisco, you can determine the status of the VPN by opening the web-based management interface. In the Basic Settings, find the UPnP feature and tick the Disable box.

Benefits of Using a Business-Class VPN Router

A VPN router is a practical solution for small businesses looking to ensure secure communication. By investing in this type of device, you take advantage of a VPN tunnel that safeguards communication between two networks. The router can also handle secure connections for remote teams, irrespective of location.

Some manufacturers offer devices that enable your team to manage VPN functions centrally. It is also possible to configure individual routers to suit your specific needs. The ideal devices come with failover and load balancing capabilities. If you need more flexibility, opt for devices that run open-source software.

Doing so makes it easier to replace the router’s OS and create additional features. On the downside, this option is not ideal for all businesses. Thus, choose your router carefully.

Advanced routers support up to 45 tunnels and come with robust firewalls to filter traffic in both directions. They also set minimum password complexity standards and incorporate encryption keys. Vendors like Cisco offers wide-ranging VPN routers for small businesses. The devices are more affordable and secure. Some business-class VPN routers are easier to configure, while others require advanced tech skills to set up and manage.

On the other hand, mesh wireless network solutions maximize coverage using nodes and satellite modules. These modules and satellites expand coverage throughout your business premises.

How to Bolster WiFi Network Security

A business WiFi network is an essential component of doing business in today’s connected world. However, an unsecured network compromises your company’s ability to operate smoothly. Cybercriminals can launch denial of service attacks or steal sensitive business information. Thankfully, there are various ways to safeguard your WiFi network.

One of the effective ways to improve security is to keep your router’s OS up to date. Also, replace any routers nearing their end of life or support. By keeping the devices up to date, you take advantage of the router vendor’s security patches and bug fixes.

Additional measures include:

  • Invest in a business-class VPN router with advanced security features
  • Harden cyberdefenses by doubling your firewall
  • Store the route in a physically secure area
  • Employ advanced encryption protocols
  • Eliminate unofficial access points
  • Disable WiFi Protected Setup or WPS

On another level, it is crucial to ensure that your router’s firewall is active. Some routers require manual activation. The manufacturer may list the firewall under network address translation (NAT) or stateful packet inspection (SPI). You can find the feature in the device’s settings.

Do You Want to Speed Up Your Computer?

Speed Up Computer

Do You Want to Speed Up Your Computer? Here are Top Tips

A slow computer can undermine productivity and become a source of frustration. Fortunately, there are several ways to boost speed and overall performance, irrespective of whether your computer is relatively new or older. You can achieve the desired performance by following specific tips unless your device is experiencing considerable hardware problems.

Installing the latest version of the operating system (OS) is one of the best ways to supercharge your device’s performance. Updating the OS also allows the system to search, download, and install the latest device drivers.

Here are proven ways to boost your computer’s processing power.

Speed Up Computer

Uninstall Redundant Applications

Software or applications that you no longer need consume system resources unnecessarily. Uninstalling redundant apps frees up space and system resources, contributing to improved performance. Dormant apps occupy critical space in your computer’s directory structure and registry. For this reason, you need to uninstall the software properly via the control panel.

To get rid of unwanted files and other unnecessary registry entries, consider using apps like CCleaner. These programs can remove unwanted apps, even if they do not appear in the control panel. Proper removal is vital if you want to prevent them from reloading after rebooting.

Defragment the Hard Drive

Defragmentation provides an effective way to reorganize information on your computer’s hard drive. In doing so, you gather scattered pieces of data and combine them in proper order. Operating systems are constantly dealing with files being written, resized, and deleted. These activities result in considerable fragmentation. The best part about defragmentation is that you boost PC performance.

Add More RAM

Increasing random access memory (RAM) is another surefire way to speed up a slow PC. However, this option is viable on some gaming and business laptops. Most detachable and convertible laptops cannot add RAM. On the other hand, desktop computers make it easier to increase RAM to suit your needs.

Delete Temporary Files

Temporary files can hog your computer’s performance and undermine your productivity. You should consider deleting them from the PC. However, you may need to skip some files if the system prevents you from removing them. This approach frees critical space on the hard drive, boosting overall performance. Emptying the entire temporary internet files directory is possible, but you need to exercise caution.

Reduce Startup Programs

Startup processes play an integral role in your computer’s performance. Launching a high number of applications during startup eats up system resources. Thus, you should manage your PC’s startup processes to limit active programs during booting. However, it is vital to choose carefully the programs you disable.

Applications like antivirus programs deserve to launch during startup, while word processors and browsers are removable from the list. Ultimately, the final list depends on your specific needs. You can manage startup processes via the task manager in Windows 10.

Scan for Malware

Viruses and spyware can compromise your device’s performance. Thus, scan the computer regularly using antivirus programs like Comodo, Norton, Windows Defender, and Avast. You should select the ideal software carefully to avoid installing a heavy antivirus program that slows down your PC.

Ideally, you need a light program that scans the system efficiently without occupying large spaces on your computer. Some applications can protect your PC and monitor performance. These programs are capable of resolving performance issues.

Choose the Right Browser

Your choice of a browser is also crucial in achieving the desired processing speed. Browsers like Chrome are resource-intensive, compromising overall PC performance. The ideal browser does not affect your computer’s speed, even if you open multiple tabs. As a result, you also enjoy improved browsing and page loading speeds.

Opt for Startup Solid-State Drive (SSD)

A startup solid-state drive (SSD) aids your processor in handling resource-intensive tasks. In doing so, it boosts performance, allowing you to run multiple applications simultaneously. Photo and video editing software eat up a significant amount of memory. Thankfully, SSD enhances your PC’s processing power, making it easier to run these applications without undermining performance.

A solid-state drive enables resource-intensive apps to load faster and run optimally. You can install it on a desktop computer or a laptop. SSD can operate internally or externally, depending on your device’s hardware status.

External units connect to your device via a USB port. Once you install an SSD, your computer performs better at startup.

Employee Surveillance: Amazon Exploring the Feasibility of Keystroke Tracking Plan

Amazon Keylogger

Amazon Exploring the Feasibility of Keystroke Tracking Plan

An internal document obtained by Motherboard revealed Amazon’s plan to track employee’s keystroke entries. The tech and e-commerce giant plans to curb ever-increasing data leaks using this type of surveillance. Imposters, rogue employees, and hackers routinely compromise customers’ confidential information.

Amazon is considering deploying advanced keystroke tracking tools. A company known as BehavioSec is working with the e-commerce firm to license specialized tools capable of enhancing system surveillance. The vendor’s software relies on behavioral biometrics to determine the nature of user activity. Behavioral biometrics eliminates the need to depend on static data or personally identifiable information.

Profiles generated by BehavioSec’s software make it easier to detect suspicious activity. Amazon shortlisted BehavioSec’s product based on privacy considerations. Other tools considered by the firm presented privacy challenges linked to keystroke data collection.

Amazon Keylogger

Closing Security Gaps

According to the internal document, Amazon detected several breaches that compromised customers’ sensitive data. In one of the incidents, an imposter illegally accessed customer data by posing as a service agent. For this reason, the company is looking to deploy an effective IT security solution to verify users’ identities and monitor device usage.

The security gaps present a serious threat that could damage customers’ confidence and Amazon’s reputation. Data exfiltration is a major concern for the management team since many employees work from home. Amazon plans to thwart threats that arise under various conditions, including unauthorized access via a device that an employee forgot to lock.

It aims to eliminate imposter takeover by 2022 since employee and customer data security is a top priority. The company stated that it regularly explores and tests wide-ranging cybersecurity technologies to bolster data protection measures. However, it is mindful of the need to achieve a delicate balance between monitoring employee activity and remaining compliant with privacy laws.

Managing Employee Activity

The internal document also revealed that outsourced workers in the Philippines and India present a higher risk of data exfiltration. Most of the recorded incidents happen in these countries. Hence, Amazon is hoping that BehavioSec’s solution will address the problem.

In general, companies rely on the employee-manager team to enhance security controls. However, the remote work trend introduced a new dynamic that compromised companies’ basic security controls. When employees work from home, it becomes difficult to detect all unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Under such circumstances, companies need to find viable solutions to compensate for the reduced controls. Experts believe that keystroke monitoring is a security feature that remote workers should expect to find on company devices in the future. BehavioSec’s profiling mechanism plays an essential role in helping companies detect sophisticated cyber attacks.

Highly skilled hackers often gain access to corporate systems and remain undetected for lengthy periods. Behavioral profiling detects such intrusions by monitoring anomalous patterns and user behaviors. This approach detects patterns in one or more connected devices. For instance, security software will raise a red flag if a video surveillance camera connects to a suspicious domain.

In Amazon’s case, behavioral profiling makes it easier to identify compromised devices. Many of the company’s customer service agents work remotely in shared residences. Meanwhile, some agents store their devices on properties with poor physical security.

Employee Surveillance Key Considerations

Federal law allows businesses to monitor their employees’ activities under specific circumstances. Several states also provide regulatory guidelines on the subject. However, transparency is a key component of employee monitoring practices. Failing to inform employees about workplace or digital surveillance may result in legal action.

In some cases, the law does not compel companies to inform employees about surveillance activities. The (ECPA) Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 legalizes surveillance for organizations with a legitimate business reason to monitor employees. As such, employers can view emails composed and sent by employees.

On the other hand, a different regulatory framework deals with web activity surveillance. It allows companies to track keystrokes and web browsing activity on corporate devices and networks. Employers should use information from the monitoring activities for internal purposes only. Sharing information with third parties is against the law.

Similarly, the law compels employers to safeguard the collected information to prevent unauthorized access. Employees can initiate legal action against an employer if with sensitive information leaks following a data breach.

These regulatory requirements necessitate a cautious deployment of keystroke tracking tools and other surveillance software. Thus, Amazon is treading carefully when it comes to the employee monitoring tool it wants to use.

What Will the Windows 11 Experience Be Like?

Windows 11

What Will the Windows 11 Experience Be Like?

Windows 11 comes loaded with wide-ranging new features, such as a revamped start menu. You can also expect to find a Microsoft Store with Android apps. This new edition also boasts a cleaner tray area and a redesigned start button. These features represent a simplified version of Windows 10, excluding live tiles.

Although the start menu comes in a central position, you can opt to move it back to the left side of the screen. In addition, Windows 11 includes a dark mode from which to choose. Microsoft has made this version easier to restart and shut down. You can also now pin your favorite apps and recent files for quick access.

A key feature of the new operating system is the ability to use Android apps via your desktop. This capability allows you to connect your desktop device to your smartphone.

Overall, the experience is ultra-modern and distinctly user-centric. Even the small details, such as the start menu positioning, focus on you, the user. The new design also highlights Windows 11’s central role in your digital life. Microsoft switched focus from offering a functional and practical OS to something more personal and emotional.

Windows 11

Enhanced Productivity and Ease of Use

Windows 11’s simplified design inspires you to become more creative and productive. Thanks to minor changes to the fonts, sound, and icons, the OS empowers you to gain more control of your digital activities. You can access files stored in the cloud via the start button, irrespective of the device you use. The best part is that it is possible to access files you worked on a mobile device.

Windows 11 provides a more efficient way to multitask and boost productivity with snap groups, desktops, and layouts. These new features help you stay well-organized by creating different desktops based on particular projects or themes.

Easier and More Convenient Ways to Connect

Staying in touch with loved ones and colleagues is easier with the Windows 11 OS. The operating system incorporates Microsoft Teams for your convenience. Teams is a video conferencing that enables you to communicate with your contacts, regardless of the device they use. Thus, you can connect to friends and family from your desktop, even if they are on Android or iOS.

Another key capability is connecting with people who have yet to install the MS Teams video-conferencing application. In such cases, you communicate via a two-way short message service (SMS). The app allows you to mute and unmute the chats from the taskbar.

This level of flexibility eliminates communication barriers associated with different platforms and devices.

A Faster and Easier to Use Microsoft Store

With Windows 11, expect a refreshingly faster and simpler MS Store experience. The store comes with a more refined appearance and improved content search function. You can now discover a wide selection of content with relative ease. Microsoft also plans to include Visual Studio, Zoom, Adobe Creative Cloud, Canva, and Disney+.

The most significant part is the introduction of Android apps in the Microsoft Store. This capability will undoubtedly revolutionize the way you use and interact with your desktop and mobile devices. You can download your favorite apps via the Amazon Appstore. Additionally, Windows 11 allows you to capture videos and upload them from TikTok.

Easier Access to News and Information

Widgets in Windows 11 provide access to information and news you need. The news feeds leverage artificial intelligence to deliver curated stories. In addition, Microsoft Edge enhances your browsing experience and faster access to critical information. You can take advantage of the widgets and faster browsing experience to refresh by reading the latest news.

Transparent, personalized feeds slide over the screen to minimize disruption. Widgets also play an integral role in expanding and personalizing content delivery options within the Windows ecosystem for publishers and content creators.

Superior Gaming Experiences

If you enjoy playing games on your desktop, you will appreciate changes in Windows 11. The operating system unlocks your device’s full potential by optimizing hardware performance. This capability allows your PC to work optimally with the latest gaming technology, such as DirectStorage, Auto HDR, and DirectX 12 Ultimate.

DirectStorage improves processing speed and delivers detailed gaming experiences. Thus, your games load much faster than on Windows 10. Meanwhile, DirectX 12 Ultimate boosts the frame rate to ensure immersive graphics. On the other hand, Auto HDR plays a critical role in delivering more vivid colors.

 

The Role of RAM in Computer Performance

Computer RAM Performance

Understanding The Role of RAM in Computer Performance

Random-access memory (RAM) plays an integral role in mobile devices and desktop computers. It determines the operating capacity of a device at any given time. A computer processes data using RAM as a digital workspace for placing programs temporarily. In turn, your computer’s processor gains access to the relevant data quickly and easily.

Larger RAM space translates to more computing power, thanks to the larger space available to active programs. The computer processes information faster than a device with less RAM. For this reason, your PC can benefit from adding more RAM. You will find it easier to interact with resource-intensive apps and programs like video editing tools.

As a result, your computer can still operate optimally, even when running two or more heavy programs. With increased RAM, the apps can function properly without competing for workspace. The operating system (OS) no longer needs to perform increased code and data swapping between the resource access memory and the hard drive. Swapping is a common cause of poor processing performance.

Also, increased RAM enhances your ability to multitask using resource-intensive apps like Photoshop and Outlook. You can switch from one program to another without the operating system resorting to the page file to write the process memory. The page file relies on a slower hard drive for data storage.

Computer RAM Performance

Key RAM Parameters

Data transfer rate is an essential component of your computer’s random access memory speed. It refers to the amount of data processed by the central processing unit (CPU). On the other hand, most random access memory is double data rate (DDR) RAM. You can determine the RAM’s generation by the number appearing after the acronym, such as DDR4.

Additionally, RAM comes with a number indicating speed in megahertz (MHz). You can find devices with RAM speeds varying between DDR4-1600 and DDR4-3200. In the latter case, the RAM is the fourth generation with a data rate speed of 3,200MHz. It is vital to install random access memory in matched memory module pairs to maximize speed.

If your device comes with single memory or mismatched modules, you can expect 50 percent less than the specified data rate. For instance, DDR4-3200 operates at just 1,600MHz.

Another key component of RAM is timing or latency rate. This aspect is more complex than the data transfer rate. Computing devices come with timing or latency rate specifications formatted as 7-8-8-24. This set of numbers indicates the time random access memory takes to handle specific computing functions. Faster RAM has smaller numbers.

How to Determine Your RAM Requirements

The nature of programs you run on your computer or smartphone determines the ideal RAM you need to maximize processing power and overall performance. Most personal computers and workstations running apps like Excel and Word can function optimally with 8 GB of system memory.

To check your PC’s status, open the Task Manager. Doing so allows you to determine whether RAM is experiencing any overload. Most computers come with RAM of between 4 and 8 GB. Depending on your day-to-day activities, you may not need 16 GB of random access memory.

If your PC slows down as you work with multiple open browser tabs or streaming video content, you should consider upgrading the device’s RAM. Forcing the computer to rely on the hard drive does not yield the best performance. Without any overload, your PC’s RAM can perform at top speed.

You can optimize performance by reducing unnecessary programs (crapware or bloatware). Also, limit the number of background apps on your desktop or laptop device. In doing so, you make room for critical programs and day-to-day functions.

If you regularly run resource-intensive programs like Final Cut Pro or Photoshop, upgrade your computer to 32 GB of RAM. Opting for 16 GB RAM limits your wiggle room. With 32 GB of RAM, you can run photo editors together, and multiple browser tabs simultaneously.

For gaming, you need to consider 16 GB of RAM. This capacity allows you to play a game without any other background programs. However, you should opt for 32 GB of RAM if you want to run other programs while playing optimized games like Grand Theft Auto V. The best part is that gaming computers are highly customizable.

Keep in mind that adding more random memory access is useful when running multiple apps simultaneously. On the other hand, increased RAM does not affect the performance of individual programs.

Why Ransomware Attacks Are Increasing Globally

Ransomware Attacks Globally

Ransomware Attacks Increase Globally

A spate of ransomware attacks aimed at United States companies, government agencies, and critical infrastructure has raised serious cybersecurity concerns. Bad actors recently attempted to attack the Republican National Committee.

A recent supply-chain attack on Kaseya’s VSA software had the potential to compromise the security of up to one million companies. This breach highlighted the need to enhance the cybersecurity capabilities of individual companies. As a result, private and public organizations are working tirelessly in collaboration with the government to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

Other attacks demonstrated the vulnerability of America’s critical infrastructure. For instance, Colonial Pipeline stalled its day-to-day operations following a ransomware attack on its systems. The event resulted in widespread panic as consumers feared imminent gas shortages throughout the United States.

Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid millions of dollars of ransom money in cryptocurrency to cybercriminals. On the upside, the federal government recovered a portion of the ransom amount.

Interventions

Several federal agencies collaborated with other stakeholders to launch new cybersecurity initiatives. These interventions resulted in the launch of a portal to help American companies and communities find effective ways to stop ransomware attacks. StopRansomware.gov provides access to comprehensive ransomware resources. By taking advantage of the portal, organizations and individuals can learn to mitigate the risks posed by ransomware attacks.

Centralized ransomware resources eliminate the need for organizations and individuals to scour the internet for information. StopRansomware.gov aggregates information drawn from a wide selection of sources, including intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and tech experts.

Practical Measures to Stop Ransomware Attacks

Robust protections are necessary when looking to prevent ransomware attacks. In addition, organizations must maintain a proactive approach to maximize cyber defenses.

Here are specific interventions that can reduce the risk of attacks.

Develop Robust Cybersecurity Policies

You need to prepare for unexpected cybersecurity events by drafting robust policies. This approach ensures that your entire team, particularly the IT department staff, understands and follows specific security protocols. In addition, an effective policy defines roles and processes that apply in the event of an attack. Notifying specific stakeholders, such as vendors and partners, is an example of an essential step.

More importantly, your organization’s cybersecurity policy should guide staff on handling high-risk situations like suspicious emails.

Hardening Endpoints

By hardening endpoints, you close gaps that may exist in your systems. Default configurations often leave a few vulnerable points. For this reason, it is vital to rely on CIS Benchmarks, allowing you to implement standard configurations. In turn, you block malicious downloads and access to risky websites. These configurations help limit your organization’s exposure to ransomware risk.

Review Port Settings

To prevent ransomware from exploiting port settings and compromising your network security, consider restricting connections to trusted hosts. Leaving port 445 (server message block (SMB)) and port 3389 (remote desktop protocol (RDP)) open creates a vulnerability. You should review port configurations for your organization’s cloud and on-premise environments. Experts recommend disabling dormant ports.

Bolster Email Security

Bad actors typically compromise security by delivering ransomware via email. To counteract the threat, you need to secure email gateways. You can protect your infrastructure using advanced solutions, including post-delivery protection technologies. These technologies leverage artificial intelligence to detect and counteract phishing attacks.

You can count on the solutions to filter email messages through attachment sandboxing and URL defenses.

User Awareness Training

A vigilant workforce provides a crucial defensive layer against ransomware attacks. With user awareness training, your staff can learn how to identify and report suspicious files, emails, or activity. Additionally, employees can stop engaging in risky activities, such as visiting unsafe websites via their workstations.

This type of training enhances user awareness, thanks to phishing simulation sessions. Your system administrators use specially designed technologies to deliver mock phishing emails to staff members. In turn, employees can practice identifying suspicious emails.

Deploy Web Filtering Technologies

Web filtering and isolation measures help protect your infrastructure by blocking access to unsafe websites. The technologies can also detect and stop malicious file downloads. In doing so, you prevent ransomware attacks, which may come in the form of viruses.

When configured properly, web or DNS filters can block malware and ads more aggressively. Another useful measure is deploying isolation technologies capable of isolating users’ browsing activity through secure servers. Isolation ensures that the content delivered to users’ workstations is safe. Malicious software executed in the secure server cannot leave the containment area, protecting your organization’s infrastructure.

This approach is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to prevent ransomware attacks.

A Basic Guide to the New Microsoft Teams Client (2.0) and Windows 11

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams and Windows 11

Microsoft recently announced the introduction of Windows 11, which comes with the MS Teams video conferencing app. The revamped operating system has a refreshing new start menu, and a user interfaces design. It can also run Android apps.

The availability of Teams provides a more convenient way for users to communicate with colleagues, friends, and family. To start chatting, users simply need to open a chat window. This new feature allows individuals to add contacts and communicate through group or individual chats.

With Teams, you can connect with people without worrying about security issues. On the other hand, the Windows 11 integration enables screen sharing, video calling, and meetings. More importantly, you can connect for free.

Microsoft Teams

Key New Microsoft Teams Client (2.0) Features

Microsoft Teams 2.0 dropped Electron and now relies on Edge Webview 2, eliminating the need for a browser address bar. Instead, you can run Teams via a separate window. These changes create a native app experience in Windows 11. The Edge browser now has limited utility in the app.

According to reports, Teams 2.0 provides a smoother, faster experience compared to the current desktop application. The improved speed and functionality are more noticeable on lower-end devices. You can enjoy optimal performance, even if you use a Core 13 (10th-gen) and 4GB of RAM,

Reduced Memory Usage

Another key improvement is the reduced memory usage by the Teams 2.0 app. It launches faster, reducing the waiting time for the loading screen to initialize. WebView 2 integration and MS Edge background processes enhance performance and taper down memory usage.

Teams 2.0 also comes with an adaptive interface to streamline app window resizing. Additionally, the video conferencing application integrates with all Windows 10 features. Integration ensures that Teams is compatible with native notifications and other features.

Improved Performance

When it comes to the new Teams client, Microsoft developers focused on performance and consumers’ needs. On the other hand, the client will stay up to date, thanks to Edge WebView. In turn, the video conferencing app remains secure with the latest updates. The client supports enhanced PowerPoint integration and multiple accounts.

Microsoft Teams 2.0 takes advantage of embedded web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. Likewise, the app taps into the power of the Chromium rendering engine.

Connections via Teams 2.0 allow you to communicate with personal contacts, even if they have not yet downloaded and installed the app. In such cases, you can communicate via a two-way short message service (SMS)

What You Need to Know About Windows 11

With Windows 11, Microsoft has redesigned the popular operating system to enhance ease of use, creativity, and productivity. It comes with a clean, fresh appearance. Also, the design maximizes user control.

You can find Start easier, thanks to its central placement. This prominent feature also displays your recent files by connecting to the cloud and Microsoft 365. As a result, it becomes easier to access recent files, irrespective of the device or platform you use. It is also possible to access files viewed on an iOS or Android device.

Enhanced Flexibility

Another set of new features in Windows 11 include snap layouts, desktops, and snap groups. These features enhance flexibility by enabling you to multitask more efficiently. You no longer need to worry about getting lost in the maze of multiple windows. Instead, you can conveniently optimize the screen and organize multiple open windows on your device.

Windows 11 allows you to create multiple desktops to maximize flexibility and organization. Each desktop focuses on a specific professional or personal aspect. You can customize the desktops to suit your preferences or a particular theme. With multiple desktops, you can assign separate spaces for gaming, school, or work.

The best part about the redesigned operating system is that it simplifies the user experience. It eliminates the need to grapple with complex functionality and features. In turn, you can focus on boosting productivity or enjoying leisure activities.

Improved Communication With MS Teams

Integrated Microsoft Teams provides a faster, convenient way to stay in touch with colleagues, friends, and family. You can now rely on an improved Teams 2.0 app to communicate with people regardless of location. In addition, Windows 11 comes with a chat feature accessible via the taskbar. This feature connects you through video, voice, text, and chat.

You can reach out to your contacts without worrying about the device they use. MS Teams’ chat feature allows you to connect, even if your contacts use iOS or Android mobile devices. Two-way SMS connections are also possible, thanks to the power of Teams 2.0.

How New Windows Server 2022 Features Improve Hybrid Integration and Security

Windows Server 2022

How New Windows Server 2022 Features Improve Hybrid Integration and Security

Microsoft recently announced the preview of the latest Windows Server. The new release comes with several key features, such as Azure automanage (hotpatching) and virtualization-based security (VBS). Windows Server 2022 allows users to leverage the cloud to maximize uptime and keep virtual machines (VMs) up to date. It introduces enhanced security features and Azure hybrid integration and management.

Windows Server now has an Azure edition, thanks to Microsoft’s plans to promote Azure as the ideal platform for hosting the 2022 release. The integrated edition provides access to features unavailable outside of Azure Stack and the public cloud. In addition, you can also expect enhanced integration with various cloud services, such as Azure App Service. Windows Admin Center (WAC) and Azure Automanage.

Windows Server 2022

Security Enhancements

Microsoft has enrolled Windows Server 2022 into its Secured-Core program. The 2022 release derives several security benefits from the program’s features. These benefits include the secure operating system, firmware, and hardware features, which provide robust protection against sophisticated cyber attacks.

Secured-Core servers maximize security, thanks to the advanced protection measures deployed at the software and hardware layers. The security features include Windows Defender System Guard. According to Microsoft, companies can take advantage of verifiable security solutions to maintain the integrity of operating systems. These measures harden defenses against firmware attacks.

Windows Server 2022 ensures faster and secure connectivity because it enables TLS 1.3 by default. This configuration protects your organization from attacks by safeguarding HTTPS connections. On the other hand, the 2022 release comes with DNS over HTTPS (DoH) and Secure DNS.

Microsoft improved fileserver features to maximize security for connections using SMB AES-256 encryption. Likewise, internal cluster communication relies on East-West SMB encryption controls. The best part about the enhanced connection security in Windows Server 2022 is that encryption does not affect performance. This benefit is particularly true for the Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA).

Additional Security Improvements in Windows Server 2022

  • Virtualization-based security (VBS): Leverages the hardware virtualization capabilities of Hyper-V technology to protect control flow guard (CFG) bitmap modification. VBS also verifies the validity of EV certificates.
  • Memory protection: Helps secure technologies that store sensitive data in memory while the system is operational. Malicious software in a drive plugged into a port cannot read data stored by security solutions like Bitlocker. Boot direct memory access (DMA) prevents such attacks.
  • SMB VPN for remote workers: This feature is critical for high-security organizations looking to maximize network protection for mobile users. Meanwhile, SMB over QUIC employs TLS 1.3 encrypted tunnel to avoid exposing server message block (SMB) traffic to the network. The best part is that functions like authorization and authentication work optimally inside the tunnel.

Azure Hybrid Capabilities in Windows Server 2022

The 2022 release makes it easier to expand your data centers to Azure without compromising agility and efficiency. Additional capabilities you should know about include improved admin center reporting, application compatibility, enhanced server management, and streamlined update installation.

Windows Admin Center

You can now report the state of secure-core features via the Windows admin center. It is also possible to allow some customers to activate specific features.

Azure Arc Enabled Windows Servers

With Azure Arc, the 2022 release integrates multi-cloud and on-premise Windows Servers with Azure. The integration streamlines the management experience to ensure consistency with Azure virtual machine administration. Once you connect a hybrid machine to Azure, it operates as a resource and a connected machine.

Application Platform Improvements

Microsoft improved several platform functions for Windows containers. As a result, you can expect a better experience for the container with Kubernetes and app compatibility. More importantly, the tech giant significantly reduced the image size in the Windows container. This change translates to reduced startup time and improved overall performance.

Azure Automanage – Hotpatch

Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition is compatible with Hotpatch, a component of Azure Automanage. This new feature eliminates the need to reboot after installing updates on the Azure Edition virtual machines (VMs).

Additional Key Features

Other notable Windows Server 2022 features include nested virtualization for AMD processors, improved storage migration service, and SMB compression. With the nested virtualization, you can operate a Hyper-V inside a virtual machine, thanks to AMD processors. This capability expands hardware options for your organization’s environments.

In addition, you can now compress server message block (SMB) files during transmission over the network. This functionality is available to users and applications; it eliminates the need to handle file compression manually.

Uncovering the Complexity and Potential Future Trends of Cyber Threats Faced by the U.S.

Cyber Attacks

Uncovering the Complexity and Potential Future Trends of Cyber Threats Faced by the U.S.

America’s critical infrastructure, the Federal government, and commercial institutions are undoubtedly under attack. The sophisticated cyber threats facing the country emanate from various parts of the world. A wide selection of state actors and hacker groups are working tirelessly to paralyze critical infrastructure, steal sensitive information, and conduct cyber warfare.

These threats are also directed at individuals. Cybercriminals hack into computers, smartphones, and databases to steal social security numbers, credit card details, and login credentials.

Recent Attacks

In recent months, the U.S. has experienced a spate of ransomware attacks aimed at critical infrastructure, government agencies, and prominent companies. The targets include the Colonial Pipeline, municipal servers, and a meat-producing company, JBS. According to reports, attackers netted ransom money worth approximately $350 million in 2020 alone. Victims paid the ransom using digital currencies – mainly Bitcoin.

Ransomware attacks also affected healthcare centers, police departments, educational institutions, and the state government in 2020.

The United States witnessed a sharp rise in ransomware attacks following the Colonial Pipeline hacking. Cities and ferries took hits as bad actors intensified their illegal activities.

According to recent reports, hacker groups have been targeting federal networks for many years. More than three billion attacks occur in the United States annually. On the other hand, the cost of hardening the security of networks is significantly high. A Bloomberg study revealed that government agencies could block up to 95 percent of attacks by increasing cybersecurity budgets sevenfold.

Sources of Attacks

A report presented to Congress in 2011 showed that China and Russia employ hacking to steal sensitive technology and economic information. The report stated that these two countries adopted the strategy as part of their national policies. Information stolen from the United States helps Russia and China gain a competitive advantage. Both countries view the U.S. as a strategic competitor.

China boasts the most advanced cyber espionage and warfare capabilities. It leverages its extensive resources to launch aggressive cyberattacks on the United States and other countries. The Asian country hosts countless hacker groups and cyber warfare military units. These groups and units work tirelessly to deploy logic bombs in strategic U.S. targets.

Meanwhile, Russia takes advantage of its technological prowess to launch sophisticated attacks against specific targets. The country allegedly launched attacks against Estonia and Georgia’s government and banking websites.

Response

The Colonial Pipeline incident triggered serious concerns about cybersecurity in the oil industry. It forced President Joe Biden to sign an executive order to harden cyber defenses of the nation’s businesses, government agencies, and critical infrastructure.

Congress approved a bill to invest $500 billion in local and state cybersecurity. However, various stakeholders still need to implement more changes before the crisis comes under control. Some experts recommend enforcing strict cybersecurity guidelines for privately owned critical infrastructure.

Approximately 85 percent of critical infrastructure in the United States is in private hands. The companies operate water systems, electric grids, and pipelines. A significant portion of the critical infrastructure is vulnerable to ransomware attacks and other cyber threats.

On the other hand, experts consider the ransomware problem as far from over. As such, private companies and the government need to invest heavily in robust measures to thwart future threats.

Complexity

Law enforcement agencies face considerable challenges when it comes to stopping the spate of cyberattacks. Hacking groups and state actors employ highly sophisticated tactics from multiple locations worldwide. In some cases, governments help protect criminals from prosecution or extradition.

Limited consequences to cybercrime contribute to the rising cases. As a result, American law enforcers explore legal and diplomatic channels to arrest the bad actors. The attackers’ capabilities also present another challenge to intervention efforts by local authorities.

Criminals prefer ransom payments in cryptocurrencies due to anonymity benefits. Colonial Pipeline paid $4.4 million in Bitcoin to recover its systems. Although the FBI confiscated some of the Bitcoin, bad actors claimed some degree of success.

Many cyber criminals use hacking tool kits sold on the dark web. It is also ironic that the National Security Agency (NSA) developed some tools employed by hackers. The tools ended up in the wrong hands after a hacking group known as Shadow Brokers allegedly infiltrated another group run by the NSA.

Shadow Brokers released the tool that helped other cybercriminals unleash the WannaCry ransomware attack. More than 45,000 targets in 99 countries took hits in the attack. United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) was one of the most prominent targets.