Microsoft Teams is a hub where a team or group of colleagues can find both the tools and content they need to get a collaborative task done. One of its key features that currently sets it apart from its competitors is that it lets users share and view documents created in Office 365 applications such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. Skype is also built into Teams, allowing users to make and receive video HD conference calls within the program.

Teams seamlessly integrates with Microsoft 365 and works in your web browser, in the Teams apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Windows 10 Mobile. All access points use the familiar Office 365 sign-in process, including multi-factor authentication to ensure the security of your content at all times.

One feature that has been letting Teams down since its release last year is its inability to allow external users without a corporate account to be added to it. However, Microsoft has recently introduced the ability to invite any guest collaborator to a chat room without requiring an Active Directory account. This game-changing feature means Microsoft Teams could soon become the preferred platform ahead of Slack used by organisations for workplace chat, meetings and project collaboration.

The addition of this feature will make the app more competitive and will allow users to add any external contributor to collaborate with them, whether it be a client, freelancer, business partner or business associate, you will simply be able to select Add Members in the menu and provide the email address of the person you are wanting to add.

With its integrated Office 365 apps, customisation abilities and enterprise security, compliance and manageability, Microsoft Teams looks set to tackle its main rival Slack for the top spot in the market.

For many small business owners, reporting a data breach can be the last thing on their mind. However, new laws that have recently come into effect mean that non-disclosure of any data breach can result in crippling fines for these businesses.

What is a Data Breach?

A data breach occurs when personal information that an entity holds is subject to any unauthorised access or disclosure of personal information, or loss of personal information. A breach can occur when a device containing customers’ personal information is lost or stolen, a sensitive database is hacked or when personal information is mistakenly provided to the wrong person.

New Laws

The Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme of the Privacy Act has established new reporting requirements effective from the 22nd of February 2018. The new laws mandate that small businesses covered by the Australian Privacy Act 1988 must report all eligible data breaches to authorities and also members of the public if it believes or is aware that data has been compromised.

With penalties of up to $360,000 for individuals and $1.8 million for organisations, the impact of not reporting a data breach can be devastating to small businesses.

What Do Small Businesses Need to Do?

As data breaches can have serious consequences, it is imperative that small businesses have robust systems and procedures in place to identify a data breach and respond effectively.

Every device on an organisation’s network is at risk, including printing and imaging devices. There’s also security blind spots that businesses need to be aware of, such as data that is read from a device’s screen without permission, for example when you open your laptop or smartphone on the train on the way home from work.

Here are some key tips on how to prepare for the new laws:

  • Prepare a Data Breach Response Plan
  • Identify at-risk data, where its kept and where it is being used – ensure all data is stored securely and with encryption
  • Train staff to implement your plan
  • Have a security policy in place for employees that work remotely and take their work devices home

In a world where data breaches are becoming more common, small businesses should be taking steps now to ensure the safety of their data to prevent a data breach from occurring in the first place. By being prepared, businesses can eliminate the risk of serious damage to both their brand and the customer’s livelihood.

If you would like to discuss how we can help to protect you against a data breach, please contact us.

Multi-Factor Authentication is a way to authenticate user sign-ins by adding an additional layer of security to a standard username and password login. By adding this additional layer, users can be safeguarded against potential database attacks. If an attacker manages to obtain user passwords, they are useless unless the attacker also has access to the devices linked to the Multi-Factor Authentication account.

Microsoft has released their own two-step verification solution called Azure Multi-Factor Authentication, which works exclusively with Office 365 applications at no extra cost. It is a simple solution that only adds a few more seconds to the user sign-in process. Verification methods range from a phone call, text message, via mobile app notification, mobile app verification code or even third party OATH tokens.

Azure Multi-Factor Authentication can be set up in just a few simple clicks and allows users to manage their own devices. It is also scalable, reliable and provides constant protection using the highest industry standards. When a user attempts to sign in to their Office 365 account with their username and password, an additional verification is sent to them. If they are unable to complete this second step, they will be unable to sign in.

The three most common authentication factor categories are:

  • The Knowledge Factor – something you know, such as a password
  • The Possession Factor – something you have, such as a smartphone
  • The Inherence Factor – something you are, such as fingerprints

With more and more database breaches being reported each year, password-based security is no longer a suitable option for any business dealing with sensitive information. Adding Multi-Factor Authentication to your applications and resources is one of the best ways to prevent unauthorised users accessing your data.

If you would like to discuss how we can help you with setting up Multi-Factor Authentication, please contact us.

MalwareBytes AntiMalware for Business is now end of life. As a result, we are removing this system from our toolset.

We are strengthening our relationship with Webroot which provides best in class antivirus, anti-malware, anti-ransomware, anti-phishing, and zero-day threat protection to keep your network safe.

Please email any queries through to:

support@itconsultants.com.au

It’s an exciting time in the world of cryptocurrency, as Bitcoin continues to skyrocket. As of the writing of this article, a single Bitcoin is valued at $22,414.02 AUD. Despite the enormous value of a bitcoin, it’s important to remember that Bitcoins are divisible down to 8 decimal places, making the purchase of Bitcoin Fractions a more viable entryway for newcomers to the cryptocurrency market.

What can I buy with Bitcoin?

Prior to the cryptocurrency boom, virtual currencies like Bitcoin had been primarily used in peer-to-peer transactions. But, as Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies become mainstream, more businesses have begun accepting them in exchange them for goods and services.

  • In 2013, the Old Fitzroy Hotel became the first bar in Australia to accept Bitcoins
  • Online travel booking sites such as Expedia and CheapAir.com accept Bitcoins
  • Heifer International and other charities have also begun accepting Bitcoins as donations
  • You can purchase furniture and home décor with Bitcoin from Overstock.com

Bitcoin over the Holidays

If you have Bitcoin to spend over the holidays, you might consider purchasing gifts for your friends and family over the web for items such as:

  • Artisan foods and crafts can be bought through peer-to-peer transactions, or through sites like Buyer’s Best Friend
  • Exchange Bitcoin for gift cards through Gyft
  • Use a SnapCard to purchase books directly from Amazon with Bitcoin

How do I obtain Bitcoins?

New Bitcoins are generated through a ‘mining’ process. This involves your computer being sent an equation to solve. The difficulty of the equation is what regulates the amount of Bitcoin mined at any one time, increasing and decreasing in difficulty. When the equation is solved it yields a 25 digit number that is then exchanged for a block of twenty-five Bitcoins.

Alternatively, you can purchase Bitcoins or Bitcoin Fractions outright from Bitcoin, or sites that exchange Bitcoins for local currency, such as Bitstamp. In total, there are only twenty-five million Bitcoins that can ever be mined, with only a fraction of them being uncovered as of this moment.

With Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies becoming more mainstream, we have seen them become an acceptable form of payment for a variety of things. From beer at the Old Fitzroy to gifts for your loved ones, the range of things you can buy now is vast and increasing every day.

Earlier this year, two large-scale ransomware attacks,WannaCry and Petya, wreaked havoc around the world. Making headlines this week, is the emergence of a new dangerous ransomware, dubbed ‘Bad Rabbit’, a suspected variant of the Petya attack.

With several Russian media outlets and Ukraine’s Odessa International Airport infected first, the malware has now reached the US, Germany and Turkey. As Bad Rabbit continues to spread, make sure you understand how this new cyber-attack operates, and just how to avoid it.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that holds files “hostage” on a computer using encryption. Encryption converts files into another format which can only be decoded by a specific key. Once the ransomware is installed, it displays a message, claiming the computer will remain locked until a certain dollar amount is paid within a certain time frame. Cyber criminals then hold your files ransom by promising to provide the decryption key after payment is made.

What is Bad Rabbit?

The ‘Bad Rabbit’ attack occurs when a target visits a legitimate website, which in turn has a malware dropper downloaded onto it from an attackers infrastructure. A malware dropper is a type of hidden malware, which launches viruses after they are manually installed. In this case, Bad Rabbit masquerades as an Adobe Flash update on a website, which allows the malware to be installed after a user innocently clicks it. Once installed, the ransomware encrypts a victim’s files and disk, leaving their data completely unaccessible or recoverable.

Once infected, victims are directed to a ransom demanding 0.05 bitcoin – currently AUD $389 – to be paid within 40 days. Worryingly, experts have found some of the code found in Bad Rabbit was seen in the Petya attack this June. Other similarities include the use of the same list of domains, along with the techniques used to spread the malware through networks.

How to avoid it

To protect yourself against Bad Rabbit and future malware attacks, ensure you install the latest security software patch, continue to back up data and use proper antivirus software services. Thankfully, Webroot have announced their SecureAnywhere Endpoint Protectionsolution already protects against this ransomware variant through their Threat Intelligence Network.

new trick has also been discovered by security researcher, Amit Serper who explains all you need to do is create two files and remove all permissions for them. This means that even if you come into contact with Bad Rabbit, it will not be able to cause any damage.

With three dangerous ransomware attacks spreading globally this year, it’s important to keep yourself educated about the latest ways to secure your data. If you need assistance in implementing a data security plan, contact us today.

The highly anticipated iPhone X has been labelled a ‘game-changing’ device after a massive information leak earlier this year.  Commemorating the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, Apple announced iPhone X pre-orders will be available from October 27th, and shipping to begin on November 3rd.

The iPhone X is set to be the most expensive model we’ve seen from Apple to date. With less than a month to go until it arrives, we’ve compiled everything we know about the device to help you decide whether it’s worth the hype.

iPhone 8 vs iPhone X

So, you’re in the market for a new phone. Do you wait for the new iPhone X, or opt for the cheaper iPhone 8? Delivering a longer battery life than its counterpart, the iPhone X offers 21 hours of talk time on wireless, compared to the iPhone 8, which only offers 14 hours.

With a super retina display, the iPhone X features a 5.8 inch display size, with a 458 pixel density. Comparatively, the iPhone 8 offers a 4.7 inch display size, with a 326 pixel density. Below we’ve compiled the top 5 other features and capabilities that won’t be accessible to iPhone 8 owners.

Top 5 Features

1. Camera Upgrade

Many of the iPhone X’s new features are made possible by Apple’s new TrueDepth camera system. This system contains an infrared camera, flood illuminator, proximity scanner, ambient light sensor, speaker, microphone, 7-megapixel camera, and dot projector. You can also take your selfie game to the next level, with this iPhone the only one able to take front-facing portrait mode images.

2. Facial recognition

Up to 20 times more secure than touch ID, the iPhone X uses advanced facial recognition technology to unlock the phone. A range of sensors read the user’s face in three dimensions, resulting in a mathematical model of your face, and uses it as a password.

After this Face ID was leaked to the public, some concerns have been raised over surveillance and user privacy. Apple has eased these concerns, announcing its facial-recognition data is stored in a secure and separate area of the device. This means data is not transferred to the cloud, therefore will not increase your risk of security issues.

3. Animoji

Introducing Animoji, the animated emoji that accurately mimics your facial expressions. Although an iPhone X is not required to view an animoji, only the iPhone X can create them (thanks to the TrueDepth camera!). With 12 characters to choose from, such as a panda, robot and alien, you can expect these to appear in your iMessage chats soon.

4. Multi-function Side Button

Making way for the iPhone X’s super retina display is the removal of the home button. Taking it’s place is the new multi-functional and customizable side button. This button will have three default functions – Siri, Wallet/Apple Pay and Emergency SOS. A virtual home button is still available, with users swiping up from the bottom of their screen to access it.

5. Bionic Chip

The iPhone X boasts the new A11 Bionic chip, the most powerful and smartest chip ever available in a smartphone. Offering industry leading performance and energy efficiency, this chip allows the iPhone X to last two hours longer than the iPhone 7, while delivering up to 30 per cent faster graphic performance than its predecessors.

The Final Verdict

The iPhone X will be available in two models, with optional monthly payment plans. Prices for the 64GB model will start at AU $1,579, while the 256GB model will cost upwards of AU $1,829. Here at Synapse IT Consultants, we think if you’re looking for an upgrade, the iPhone X is worth the price tag. Loaded with new features, the phone will be the first fundamental change of iPhone design since it’s original 2007 launch.

Smartphone use is set to be revolutionised with the latest iPhone X on it’s way. If you decide to take the plunge, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed!

A security flaw made a concerning appearance this week after the bug, dubbed a ‘Krack attack’, wasdiscovered by Belgian researchers. Targeting Wi-Fi encryption, the bug can access safely encrypted information such as emails, passwords and credit card numbers.

These researchers have predicted every device that connects to Wi-Fi is at risk of a Krack attack. Other security experts believe the bug will take decades to be completely eradicated. We outline everything you need to know about this flaw and how to reduce your risk of an attack.

What is a Krack Attack?

A ‘Key Reinstallation Attack’ or ‘Krack attack’, is a security encryption flaw in the WPA2 system. This system secures a Wi-Fi connection between a router and a device. When a device connects with a router, the internet can be accessed and an encryption key is then generated. This key is what makes your data ‘uncrackable’ to anyone who might intercept it.

However, at this point, hackers can trick this encryption key to be reinstalled, resetting it to zero. Resetting this causes the session to become unencrypted, and exposes sensitive user data. Malicious software can also be inserted into legitimate websites, leaving any user who visits the site at risk of data exposure.

4 Ways to Protect Yourself

1. Update your device

Updating your device with the latest security patch is the leading way to prevent a Krack attack. Vulnerable devices include anything which plays a part in your Wi-Fi network, such as computers, phones, TVs and printers. Android mobile user? Unfortunately you’re at the highest risk of an attack, as they are the hardest and slowest devices to patch, however it’s still important to patch your device as soon as you can.

Companies have been responding in different ways to the new bug, check the status of your security patch below –

2. Update your router’s firmware

Install the latest security update for your router as soon as it becomes available. Router manufacturers such as Cisco already have  fixes available for their affected products.

3. Avoid public Wi-Fi

It’s best to avoid all public Wi-Fi until a patch is installed. Without any clear idea of who is on the network or how it is being used, you leave yourself open to an attack.

4. Only Access Secure Websites

Only access websites with HTTPS in their address. This will add another layer of protection and ensure you are only connecting to secure websites.

As technology advances, so do the methods of predatory hackers. Regularly update your device to ensure your data is securely protected.

Picking the right computer can be a surprisingly daunting experience for many of us.  Costing hundreds to thousands of dollars, many are left concerned – is this a good investment? Am I throwing away my money? How do I know exactly what I need? We are here to help!

There are many ways in which you can choose the most cost effective, durable and suitable computer for your needs. Continue below to find out the top 5 factors every customer must consider before making the final decision!

  1. BATTERY LIFE

When purchasing your new computer, consider your everyday needs. Do you work remotely, maybe you stream lots of online videos, or do you simply hate when your computer’s battery dies on you? In these cases, it’s best to have a device with a long-lasting and adequate battery life. To check, find the rating of the battery in Watt-hours (Wh). The higher the number is, the longer the battery will last!

  1. BUILD QUALITY

We’ve all had that horrible moment when the computer you were so excited to buy, is knocked, exposed to the elements or even stepped on and left damaged! Repairs can cost you an arm and a leg, so it’s important to ask the provider how much durability testing the computer has undergone prior to being sold.

  1. DESKTOP OR LAPTOP?

The (technological) age old debate – which is better, the laptop or desktop? At the end of the day, they both have their pros and cons. Check below to see the differences between each device to decide which is most suitable for you!

Laptop Desktop
·         Great for those needing to work from many different locations

·         Fits many components, whilst taking up less space

·         Generally more expensive

·         Easier to keep cool resulting in longer lifespan

·         Generally maintains higher performance levels for longer

·         Use is restricted to where the PC is installed

 

  1. THE PROCESSOR

The processor can be described as the ‘brain’ of the computer, responsible for the computer’s speed, efficiency, performance and even more. To ensure your computer is functioning as it’s best, you need a fully equipped processor, which lies in its number of cores and speed.

The ‘speed’ of the processor indicates how much data it can process and in how much time, while the number of ‘cores’ indicates the level of multitasking the computer can handle. Whether you require a computer which can handle multiple programs at the same time, at an amazing speed or the complete opposite, always check the processors speed and cores with your provider.

  1. CHECK THE PERIPHERALS

When Apple’s ‘Macbook Air’ arrived, many were left shocked (after purchase) that it in fact did not have a FireWire port. Before purchasing your new computer, be sure to fully inspect whether the devices peripherals has everything you will need, such as multiple USB ports and a DVD drive!

Picking the right computer can be daunting, but if you take into consideration these 5 factors you can easily make the right purchase!

Australians have been warned to expect drastically slower internet speeds. The culprit? Two typhoons which ravaged Hong Kong last month have caused considerable damage to a number of submarine cables between Hong Kong and Sydney.

Typhoon Hato, followed by Typhoon Pakhar were the most powerful storms to hit Hong Kong in 5 years, causing thousands of evacuations and issuing a stage 10 hurricane signal. Continue below to discover exactly what what damage was caused and what this means for you!

What is a submarine cable?

A submarine cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean. The first submarine communications cables were laid in the 1850’s, which carried telegraphy traffic.

The SEA-ME-WE3

The main cable breakage causing the biggest impact occurred approximately 54 kilometres off the coast of Hong Kong and is known as the ‘SEA-ME-WE3’ (South East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe). The longest telecoms cable in the world, the SEA-ME-WE3 spans an amazing 39,000km from Germany to Australia and Japan.

When will my Internet be back to normal?

Although submarine repair teams are currently working to repair the damage, Australian’s can’t expect Internet speeds to return back to normal until the 13th of October 2017. However, don’t lock this date in just yet, as wholesale operators have confirmed these dates ‘tend to change over time due to the nature of repairs’.

The future of Australia’s Internet

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the ageing cable has created difficulties, with many faults experienced in 2013 and 2015! Moreover, a segment of the SEA-ME-W3 takes a route through Indonesia, an area which is prone to serious earthquakes. In recent years, several companies have been vying to build a new cable, reducing the dependence on the SEA-ME-W3 infrastructure.

Big hitting companies such as Telstra and Google have unveiled plansto begin construction of ‘Indigo’ a cable to be built between Perth and Singapore. Estimated to cost over US$100 million, the consortium’s claim Indigo will be better protected against damage and completed in 2018!

So there you have it, the complete breakdown of the damaging typhoons which hit Hong Kong earlier this month. Slow Internet speeds can be incredibly frustrating, however rest-assured relief is on it’s way!