During Microsoft’s BUILD 2016 conference the company announced that Windows 10 will receive a new upgrade later this year called the ‘Anniversary Update’.

While Microsoft didn’t disclose the exact date, Windows 10 will turn one on July 21 which is the rumoured date the new update will be made available.

According to Microsoft, some of the improvements and features coming with Windows 10 Anniversary Update will significantly enhance user experience across all devices and platforms. Microsoft is gearing up to deliver new features on the Start menu, Action Centre and Cortana.

Some of the new features and biggest changes include:

Changes to the Start Menu

Microsoft is altering the Start Menu yet again, this time by amending the navigation menu by adding a hamburger button to the top-left corner, and relocating the user profile button to the bottom of navigation column above the Power and Settings buttons.

The “All apps” button and list has been replaced with a single list view which includes the “Most used” and “All apps” items.

Chaseable Live Tiles

Live Tiles will include a new feature, which the company describes as “Chaseable Live Tiles” that allows users to click a story, picture, or content in the preview and open the app on that content, instead of just opening the app.

Taskbar Notification Badges

In the Anniversary Update, notification badges will appear on the taskbar.

The new feature will be available on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, making it easy for users to see their notifications at a glance, without opening the app. While this is an exciting new feature, it will be up to developers to add the functionality into their apps.

Action Centre

In the next major update of Windows 10, Microsoft is focusing on making Action Center more useful than ever before.

There will be a new updated user-interface with adaptive toast notifications to bring more engagement with large images and more content, and there will be widgets with richer information.

Action Centre will depend heavily on the cloud, meaning that your notifications will automatically sync across devices, even if you have an Android phone.

Microsoft is introducing “Notification Mirroring”, which will be the feature responsible for syncing your phone notifications across all your devices, even when you don’t have the same app installed on the rest of your devices.

The new feature has the ability to dismiss a notification across all of your devices universally, meaning you can dismiss a news alert on your PC and it will in turn remove the notification on your mobile.

Likewise, users too can opt in or out of the feature as well as mute notifications through settings in Cortana or within the app itself.

Cortana

Users will now be able to use Cortana before logging into their account. The update will feature a new version of Cortana available on the lock screen which once enabled, will be able to perform tasks like make a note, set reminders and play music.

With the new update, Cortana will also be able to schedule appointments in Outlook and will be able to understand natural conversations and automatically include additional information into the conversation.

Windows Ink

One of the biggest improvements in Windows 10 Anniversary Update is the improvement in stylus support, which Microsoft now calls ‘Windows Ink’.

Windows Ink now includes Ink Workspace, which is the central hub to start using your Surface Pen or any other supported pen with features such as sticky notes, Sketchpad, Screen Sketch, and more.

With the Ink Workspace, users will be able to access and write messages on sticky notes, which Cortana can automatically translate and convert into reminders or calendar appointments.

Microsoft is also building a digital ruler that will allow users to draw lines with more precision.

Windows Hello

With the Anniversary update, Windows Hello enables users to unlock their PC by tapping their Windows Hello enabled phone. Beyond the hardware, Windows Hello will also give users instant access to paired apps and protected websites on Microsoft Edge – all while maintaining enterprise-level security.

There’s no denying the importance of keeping your personal information safe online, especially when it comes to social media.

LinkedIn is a social media platform where a lot of personal information such as current job and career history is shared online for the world to see, but do you know how much of your profile has been made public? Can others see when you’ve viewed their profile?

If you are unsure, it may be a good time to review your privacy settings. After all, it is important to understand your privacy and security settings in order to make smart decisions about what information to share, which links to click and what features to opt-in to.

Here are 5 ways to protect your LinkedIn account:

  1. Update your Privacy Settings to understand how you’re sharing your information.

In addition to the security features that are built into LinkedIn to protect users’ information, there are some additional privacy settings you can turn on or off, depending on what you want to share, display, and receive. Take a look at your settings today to make sure they are right for how you want to be using your LinkedIn account.

These setting options include:

  • Turn on/off your activity broadcasts:If you don’t want your connections to see when you make changes to your profile, follow companies, or recommend connections, uncheck this option.
  • Select what others can see when you’ve viewed their profile:When you view other profiles on LinkedIn, those people can see your name, photo, and headline. If you want a higher level of privacy, you can choose to display anonymous profile information, or show up as an anonymous LinkedIn member, to people whose pages you’ve visited.
  • Select who can see your connections:You can share your connections’ names with your other first-degree connections, or you can make your connections list visible only to you.
  • Change your profile photo and visibility:You can choose to have your photo displayed to only your first-degree connections, your network, or everyone who views your profile
  1. Opt into Two-Step Verification to protect your account from hackers

Two-step verification requires a person to use more than one form of verification to access an account, usually by “knowing something” such as a password and by “having something” such as a mobile device. Two-step verification is a much stronger form of account protection that can greatly reduce identity theft and unauthorized access to sensitive information. This is because most accounts become compromised from new or unknown computers or devices.

LinkedIn offers members the ability to turn on two-step verification for their accounts, which will require an account password and a pin sent to your phone via SMS whenever you sign in from a new device that LinkedIn doesn’t recognize.

  1. Opt into Secure Browsing (HTTPS) for extra protection against unauthorized access to your internet activity

A good indicator of a protected connection on a website is an https:// connection. While LinkedIn automatically secures a connection when you are on certain pages that require sensitive information (such as using a credit card), you also have the option to turn on this protected connection across all pages on LinkedIn.

  1. Update your password regularly

Ensuring your password is difficult to guess and updated regularly is very important in upholding your personal details. The following password tips do not relate solely to LinkedIn and should be considered for all of your online and electronic accounts:

  • Change your password every few months
  • Don’t use the same password on all of the sites you visit
  • Don’t use a word from the dictionary
  • Think of a meaningful phrase, songs or quotes and turn it into a complex password using the first letter of each word
  • Randomly add capital letters, punctuation or symbols
  • Substitute numbers for letters that look similar (for example, substitute “0” for “o” or “3” for “E”
  • Never give your password to others or write it down
  • Sign out of your account after you use a publicly shared computer
  1. Watch out for phishing emails and spam emails requesting personal or sensitive information.

Phishing is a common tactic that criminals use to try and steal your information – and your money – so you should always be on the lookout for fraudulent emails.

LinkedIn will never ask for your sensitive personal or financial information via email. To confirm whether a message is legitimate, here are a few things you can look out for:

  • All valid LinkedIn messages will contain a security footer
  • In general, it’s not a good practice to open any attachments or click any links in an email that seems suspicious, or is from a person or company you don’t know

Here are some indicators which should raise your suspicions that the email claiming to be from LinkedIn is not legitimate:

  • The message is telling you to open an email attachment or install a software update. LinkedIn will neverask you to do this.
  • The message contains bad spelling and grammar.
  • The message contains a threat of some kind. For example, if the email threatens to deactivate your account if you don’t act immediately.

Today’s cyber criminals are becoming more creative than ever in their attempts to access and exploit your sensitive information.  One of the emerging trends in scam activity is known as scareware, which sees a hacker tap into one of humankind’s most basic instincts: Fear.

Scareware can take many different forms such as ‘Windows Updates’ and urgent sounding emails. Despite this, the most common platform for scareware is popups.

Pop-ups often look exactly like legitimate operating system messages, such as those you would receive from Windows or antivirus companies.  In most cases these pop-ups announce that they’ve detected problems with your system, urging you to purchase and run software to solve them. In reality, the problems are fictional and you could be downloading harmful malware onto your computer.

How can you avoid scareware?

Take note of the language used: 

More often than not, the language used in scareware is over exaggerated. Be cautious of prompts such as ‘Warning! Your computer is at risk! Download this urgently!’

These kinds of instructions are designed to create panic and trick you into providing credit card details to pay for the service, or downloading the software which can harm your computer.

Think first, click second:

Regardless of how urgent the message may seem, the best thing to do is ignore it. To remove scareware messages, right click on the pop up in the task bar and choose ‘close’. Or do it manually using Ctrl-Alt-Delete

Purchase antivirus software:

In order to avoid scareware altogether, ensure you have antivirus software installed onto your computer. Reputable products such as Norton and AVG include popup blockers, which you can configure to prevent pop-ups from sites you haven’t specifically authorised.

Manage your security protection settings:

Manage your protection settings so that your antivirus software puts an icon next to safe sites in the search results pages and highlights potentially dangerous sites. By doing so, you can avoid clicking on sites that your virus protection software thinks are dodgy.

Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family from all over the world. While this may be the case, Facebook users have discovered a secret inbox accessible on the web or Facebook Messenger apps for smartphones and tablets.

The secret folder is part of Facebook’s filtering system, designed to catch spam and other unwanted messages.

Just last week users from all over the world have discovered their ‘filtered’ inbox is full of legitimate messages that never made it to their primary inbox.

One man in the UK even missed a message telling him to come and see his dying estranged dad in hospital – TWO YEARS after it was sent!

So, how can you access your filtered messages?

For the web version of Facebook:

  1. Click on the Messages button at the top of the page, and then click on Message Requests.
  2. Clicking on See filtered requests will reveal the hidden inbox and any messages that were sent to you but automatically filtered out of your main inbox by Facebook.

For iOS and Android

  1. Open your Messenger app and tab settings at the bottom
  2. Scroll down and tap on people
  3. Tap message requests>See filtered requests
  4. The process for getting here on Android will vary depending on the version of the OS you’re running, but just find People and go from there.

While it’s likely most of your filtered messages are  from spammers, strangers, or scammers, it is worth checking your filtered messages every once in a while- you never know what you may find.

With the March 21 release of the 4-inch iPhone SE now behind us, it is time to turn our attention to the long awaited iPhone 7, which is expected to be released later in the year.

While Apple have not officially released any information about the new iPhone, there have been many rumours circulating about the new phone’s specs, design and battery life.

Here at Synapse we have compiled a list of the most popular iPhone rumours:

The iPhone 7 will include an all-new iPhone design:

Sites including Mac Rumours and Mac World are convinced that the iPhone 7 will have a completely new design.

Since the 3GS launched in 2009, Apple has used an alternating ‘S’ naming formula to mark years where the iPhone does not have a major redesign, saving its numbered upgrades for years where design changes are introduced.

Due to the fact that both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus were released in 2014, with the “S’ models released last year, it is expected that the next-generation iPhone is to be called the iPhone 7.

Apple will continue releasing two versions of each iPhone:

As consumer needs continue to change, it is predicted that Apple will continue to release two versions of each iPhone.

Apple is said to be planning to stick to the 4.7- and 5.5-inch screen sizes which were first introduced with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.  Therefore, we can expect to see an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 Plus released this year.

The iPhone 7is set to be released in mid-September

The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus were unveiled on 9 September 2015 and released to the public on 25 September, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were unveiled on 9 September 2014 and released on 19 September.

The same September trend dates back to 2013 when the iPhone 5 was released.

If things play out as they have been for the past 3 years, it is likely that the iPhone 7 reveal will be between the 6th to the 14th of September.

The iPhone 7 is predicted to be even thinner

Mac Rumours predicts that Apple is aiming to make the iPhone 7 thinner, perhaps through the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack which would be replaced by a thinner lightening port.

Eliminating the headphone jack will give Apple more internal space for other components, and Apple will also keep the device slim with the continued use of in-cell panels and TFT-LCD display technology.

There have been some rumours floating around speculating that Apple may replace the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 with a second speaker for stereo audio.

With no headphone jack, wired headphones will connect to the iPhone 7 using its Lightning port and Bluetooth headphones will connect wirelessly. Apple is rumoured to be working on Lightning-equipped EarPods to sell in conjunction with the iPhone 7.

The iPhone 7 will have a (slightly) longer battery life

One of the minor issues that reviewers had with the iPhone 6S was that it had a smaller battery than the iPhone 6, which meant that battery life from a single charge was reduced. Well, Apple has clearly taken complaints from users to heart and as the iPhone 7 is rumoured to have a larger battery size.

Leaked shots were featured on MacRumours allegedly show the new battery for the iPhone 7. You can clearly see in the image below that the battery is a 7.04watt-hour model, which is up from the 6.61watt-hour model on the iPhone 6S and similar to the 7.01watt-hour battery on the iPhone 6.

While we will just have to wait until we hear official word from Apple, it is likely that more rumours and leaks will be uncovered before the predicted September release date

There is no doubt that outsourcing your business’ IT to a specialized IT consulting company, can save you both time and money.

Regardless of what industry you are in, technology most likely plays an integral role in the day-to-day operation of your company. Have you considered what would happen if you weren’t getting the most out of your IT system?

For some clients, IT can be like an onion; protected by layers of problems and expenses that no one can seem to solve before the next layer is uncovered. While this can be a common feeling amongst executives, it shouldn’t have to be this way.

A well-managed IT system doesn’t have to break your budget- it should strengthen your business’ day to day routine, enhance productivity and boost subsequent profit.

When it comes to ‘all in’ managed IT services, or IT support agreements, there are 5 critical questions which can make or break the relationship between you and your IT service provider:

1. What does ‘all in’ truly mean?

Support agreements and ‘all in’ managed IT service agreements should be clear and leave no question unanswered. Ensuring that you understand exactly what is included in your agreement is vital as additional fees and/or items that aren’t clearly understood should notequate to additional charges every month. If everything is included, why would there be any extra bills?  Your service level agreement should fit the day to day needs of your business, with a clear and predictable cost each month.

2. How long will they take to resolve a problem?

When your IT systems are down your entire business suffers, so it is essential to clarify with an IT team how long it will take them to respond to your support request, and also how long it will take them to resolve it. Many IT services state that they have a rapid response time, but this does not mean they can solve the problem straight away. The solution might be hours or days away, so talk about timing in your IT support agreement, well before a problem actually occurs.

3. When do they operate?

Gone are the days when everyone works 9am-5pm. Information technology is crucial for businesses at all hours of the day, and you will need to confirm when your IT team operates. Even if they do not provide a service 24 hours a day, it is wise to partner with a team that works similar hours to your own business. Waiting for technical support can be costly for your business, so think about this concern ahead of time.

4. Are they using the latest and most efficient technology?

This is very simple to figure out.  If you are seeing or hearing from engineers when it comes to updates, patches, basic maintenance and reboots, the 90s are calling, and they want their IT support team back!  Intelligent systems management is driven by advanced technology, delivered through proven processes and tools overseen by tech experts. As a result of this mature technology, your IT provider should be able to handle much of your work remotely and without any interruption to you. When your IT department is using advanced and modern technology, efficiency and productivity amongst your workplace should dramatically increase.

5. Am I secure?

If you need to ask, then you probably aren’t.  Professional, modern IT providers use premium security software and management systems to relentlessly support basic IT administration and delivery.  Security is at the heart of any IT and business infrastructure so demanding security and compliance services are a must.

As the complexities of the technology you use to run your business increase, so do the vast amount of options, price points and opinions surrounding IT support.  While this may be the case, IT support does not have to be confusing or costly. With the right communication, strategic plan and service provider, you can optimise technology solutions inside of your organisation.

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) is a type of technology that allows users to make calls using the internet rather than a conventional or analogue phone system.

There are numerous advantages of VoIP systems, and as a result many small and medium-sized businesses are making the switch from traditional systems over to VoIP business phone systems.

Some of the benefits of VoIP include:

Lower Costs

One of the most attractive features of VoIP is its cost saving potential. Unlike public telephone networks, VoIP voice traffic travels over the internet and other private data network lines.

For businesses, VoIP reduces the cost for equipment, lines, staff and maintenance as all of the organization’s voice and data traffic is integrated into one physical network.  Calls themselves are also considerably cheaper, especially if your business makes a lot of international calls.

Increased Flexibility and Mobility

Internet telephony does more than just lower costs, it also enables the user to integrate software programs such as e-mail, e-fax, and remote conferencing over the internet via telephone. With VoIP, you can also do things like place outbound calls through Outlook or other email clients, or bring up a customer record with that customer’s inbound calls. Voice mail accounts are accessible through email for workers who travel, and you can even get voice mail transcription with some hosted VoIP phone systems. This feature transcribes voicemail messages into text and sends them to your email account, so you don’t have to worry about taking notes while you’re speaking on the phone.

Businesses can also invest in wireless VoIP technology too so that users can make low cost calls from anywhere with an internet connection. This feature is extremely useful for employees who are always on the move and need to access the business phone system from wherever they are.

Greater Productivity

VoIP technology can increase the overall productivity of an organisation enormously. The ability for employees to multitask without interruption can not only save time, but the funds usually spent on traditional phone bills can be allocated to other aspects of the business.

Scalability

The scalability of VoIP infrastructure makes it easy to add new components with minimal hassle. Since the transfer of voice to digital signals occurs using software instead of hardware, it makes it easier to alter and maintain the entire system to suit your business’ changing needs.

If you have a traditional telephone system, estimating how many lines you will need can be quite a costly prediction, as you could be paying for phone lines you don’t use.

With VoIP for your business, you can add a line as soon as you add a new employee, and when an employee leaves, you can easily reassign or remove the line.  VoIP is completely scalable, meaning you’ll always have the right number of phone lines for your specific business needs.

Call Features are supported

As VoIP phone systems are internet based, you may be wondering whether all of the traditional call system features are included. VoIP systems do in fact include all of the features you would expect from your traditional phone system; call hold, call transfer, conference calling, find me/ follow me and auto attended phone menus.

Here at Synapse IT we are proud partners of 3CX, the winner of the best SME on premise system award.

If you would like to hear more about VoIP please contact us now, or read our latest article about the new features of 3CX’s latest package.

A recent influx of fraudulent emails is sweeping across the globe, causing unsuspecting payroll and HR professionals to wire money to scammers.

In today’s day and age, most companies have effective internet security which is making it even harder for malicious content and scamming attempts to succeed. In most cases, it is easier for criminals to trick employees into running a program or transferring money, rather than relying on complex viruses to do the job for them.

That is exactly what is happening at the moment, as criminals are scamming unsuspecting employees into handing over money.

The email scams are designed to obtain the personal information of company employees and use the data to commit various types of fraud and identity theft. The criminals sending the emails are obtaining employee information such as position title, email address and phone number, through accessing company websites and using information from the ‘Our Team’ section, to pose as employees.

These spoofing techniques are used to make it appear that messages were really sent by the targeted company’s CEO. The purpose of these types of emails is to get the recipient to process ‘urgent’ payments for a non-existent good or service by way of a wire of credit transfer.

One of the tactics that scammers use is by registering domains very similar to the target domain. For example, registering emma@yourdoman instead of emma@yourdomain in the hopes that the recipient may not notice the slight difference in domain name and think it is from a trusted sender.

According to Symantec, scammers are sending the emails out on the same day that they are registering the domains- this is likely in the hope that they can extract payment before the domain is reported and subsequently suspended.

There have also been variants where the scammers spoof the “From” address to make it look as though the email is coming from the management, even though the true sender’s address is different. The ‘Reply-To’ address can usually be seen when the user clicks reply.

How to easily avoid these types of scams:

Delete your website’s ‘Our Team’ section

One of the best things you can do in order to prevent this kind of scam, is to delete your website’s ‘Our Team’ section.

Often businesses include an Our Team section which not only includes employees’ positions and titles, but also their contact information such as direct lines and email addresses.

Including the above information on your website leaves you open to these “bogus boss” scams as fraudsters will be able to identify the name and position of senior executives and admin/payroll employees very easily.

Contact the sender directly to ensure their request is a legitimate one

If you receive a wire transfer request that seems urgent or out of the ordinary, always check that the sender is who they say they are. Asking your CEO in person, or giving them a quick call is a simple way to ensure the request is in fact legitimate.

Check the sender address

If you receive an email with a thread that you’ve supposedly been sent before, check with the person who has supposedly sent the email. Reply to the sender but obtain their email address using your company’s address book in your email client.

While these kinds of emails are very low-tech and a big departure from the large, automated malware attacks that are most prevalent, companies as big as Michelin and Nestle have fallen victim to these kinds of scams. If you are ever unsure of the legitimacy of an email, you can always give us a call on 1300 903 405- we will be happy to investigate for you.

Cloud-based services have seeped into our everyday lives, both at home and in the office, according toStatista the global cloud based market grew by approximately 13.7% last year alone!

Due to the inherent flexibility, expertise and cost-efficiency which cloud computing can offer to small and medium sized enterprises, it is not surprising that cloud computing is growing in popularity.

Even though some organisations are becoming increasingly wise to the fact that it is something that they at least should consider adopting, others are still nervous about implementing a cloud based system into their organisation.

Below are just some of the common misconceptions about cloud-based services:

Unreliable

As with traditional on premise solutions, business continuity can be interrupted on cloud-based platforms. But for businesses that have a backup strategy in place, the cloud can actually be more reliable than other types of infrastructure platforms. With the cloud, data can be backed up to multiple locations and services, providing an additional level of protection through redundancy.

Cloud providers typically invest in redundant equipment because they know that equipment will fail and they know that you need to keep working through these failures. The redundancy is there to keep you working even when things do go wrong. This enables cloud providers to guarantee levels of reliability, usually with penalties to them if they do not meet these guaranteed levels.

It’s Fundamentally Insecure

As the importance of technology continues to grow, the imminent threat of security breaches, viruses and other malicious attacks also increases.

Without a strong knowledge of cloud-based services, it is understandable for some small businesses to be cautious about cloud computing. The idea that cloud computing is fundamentally more insecure than local storage or physical servers to store data however, is simply false.

Physical security is only as good as the room where you keep your server. Unless you have your server hard drives encrypted, it is possible for anyone who has the server to access all of the data stored on it. Physical security is therefore a major concern; how long would it take a thief to break into your office and walk off with your server?

Cloud providers have varying levels of security but most good cloud service providers will store your information in a data centre facility. Date centres are typically protected by fences, cameras and 24/7 security guards, where swipe cards and scanners must be used to gain access inside of the facility.

From a logical perspective, it is critical to secure your data from possible breaches over the network or internet. Some cloud providers will store your data on shared systems where there have been instances where cloud users have found it possible to access others’ data. This is obviously a major concern. It is therefore important to ensure that whether you deploy data in house or in the cloud that the data is adequately protected by the appropriate access policies as well as intrusion prevention systems.

It’s Expensive

Upon first glance it may seem that cloud services are an expensive option, however they can save you money (and time) in a variety of ways.

Cloud services allow businesses to more accurately plan their IT budgets, because pricing is typically clear and charged at a predictable fixed monthly fee. Due to the fact that cloud systems can also be easily scaled to meet your business’ changing requirements, there is no need to pay for additional hardware and licenses.

Time savings also come into play since the backend management of cloud services is provided by the software vendor. With no server to set up, deployment becomes a far simpler process for IT administrators. This frees up resources and lowers costs, while also increasing productivity. Cloud-based services save time, and time is money.

Less Flexibility and Control

Unlike traditional systems which require users to be at their desks to access work files, cloud services facilitate collaboration and easy exchange of information.

Cloud services allow IT admins and other staff to work remotely from anywhere with an internet connection. In addition, the cloud provides organizations with a more scalable and flexible platform. New services and additional capacity are possible within minutes, so IT can dependably keep pace with business demands and enable the business to grow.

In an age in which businesses are under increasing pressure to receive greater value with fewer resources, cloud-based services are difficult  to ignore. There will always be doubters and those who prefer on premises systems, but for those who are ready to take advantage of cloud-based services, capabilities that might otherwise be inaccessible are suddenly within reach.

It has come to our attention that a new scam is circulating via email which is affecting local Melbourne businesses.

The attacker targets business websites and obtains information on staff members, in an attempt to impersonate employees and get money out of unsuspecting business owners.

If you have an “Our Team” section on your website, the attacker can obtain information on who the boss and financial manager is, and then send an email posing as the boss, asking the financial manager to transfer funds.

Usually, emails start with something along the lines of ‘Hi, I need you to transfer some money for me to this account”.

In most cases, the emails do not look legitimate, however some are well written and can cause unsuspecting employees to fall victim to the scam.

While this is not a technical breach, it is important to be aware of potential scams and phishing attempts.

If you ever receive an email you are unsure about and would like to verify its validity, feel free to contact us on 1300 903 405