Google I/O

On May 17th, Google announced their newest innovation to the technology world. This time around, Google has decided to put AI on the forefront of its latest devices. Follow along for the highlights of the conference!

  • Assistant interfaces – This new addition allows you to type into Google Assistant, or even plugs-in input straight from Google Lens such as images. For example, this makes it easier and much more helpful to translate it several different languages. Simply point your camera at a menu that is made in a different language, and Google Translate will translate it to your primary language.
  • Google Lens – Google Lens will have a set of services that are vision-based and will identity the object by a point of a camera. You are also able to point it at a Wi-Fi bar code, and it will automatically log you into the network.
  • Google Assistant – Google Assistant has made researching and quick references a joy for Google and Android users. However, with this new update, Google Assistant will now be available on the iPhone as an app.
  • AI-driven face recognition will now perform better in Google Photos at recognizing people.  With Google Lens, the form of image-recognition will be easy to use through your smartphone by using computer vision.
  • Google Home – The Google Home update provides proactive assistance that will give you info before you need it. In other words, users will be able call hands free to US and Canada lines for free, add Soundcloud and Deezer to already existing music services such as Spotify, HBONow, Hulu and others will be added to the TV casting partners. It will also allow you to send directions to your phone on a ‘let’s go’ command and send your calendar or weather report to your TV.

With these additional features, Google continues to make smartphone devices easier and more functional to use on a daily bases.

 

Protecting Your Small Business from Cyber Crimes

In the last few months cyber crimes have been all over the news with the WannaCry Ransomware and other hacking events. It may seem like millions of miles away from your small business, but small and medium sized companies are just as vulnerable as larger corporations. You wouldn’t leave the door to your office wide open all day and night right? You take reasonable precautions to keep your business safe and secure, so be sure to do the same with your website and online data as well. Here are a few tips to protect your small business from cyber hacking and online dangers.

  • Stay Updated – Hacker News online suggests maintaining software and applications that are updated. The newer the updates the better as they will have the latest security.
  • Toughen Up Access ControlThe admin level of your website is an easy way into everything you do not want a hacker to see. Enforce user names and passwords that can not be guessed. Limit the number of login attempts within a certain time, even with password resets, because email accounts can be hacked as well. Never send login details by email, in case an unauthorized user has gained access to the account.
  • Tighten Network Security – Computer users in your office may be inadvertently providing an easy access route to your website servers. Ensure that logins expire after a short period of inactivity. Passwords should be changed frequently.Passwords should be strong and NEVER written down. All devices should be plugged into the network and scanned for malware each time they are attached.
  • Back Up Often – Back up your files on a regular basis to avoid losing data in the case of a breach.
  • Install the Highest Security – Your business should have the highest security protocols from software to employee protocols. If you have questions on how to protect your small business from cyber crimes call M&H Consultants.

Laptops at Risk While Traveling

In our global economy many businesses travel expensively to maintain client relations and to take part in conferences on the “latest and greatest” technology for your field of expertise. While the ease of travel is wonderful, your laptop is at risk every time you go mobile. Here are a few ways to protect not only your hardware but software as well.

  • To prevent physical damage or theft, use a sturdy, weatherproof, padded bag that doesn’t necessarily look like a computer bag. Backpacks are exceptionally good at hiding technology and the have added room for power cords and other needs when traveling by plane.
  • Always keep your laptop in view and in your possession. Just a few seconds and you could be missing a lot of data and your means of working while you travel.
  • Use passcodes and authentication passwords so that you are the only one that can use the device.
  • Before each trip back up the files that are currently on your laptop. Use password-locking programs and encryption programs.
  • Make sure your virus protection is up-to-date.
  • Avoid checking your laptop as baggage, rather use it as your carry on piece. Keep it nearby either in your lap or below your feet. Let your laptop go through the x-ray machine but keep an eye on it while it does.
  • When using WiFi while traveling attempt to use secured locations rather than public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Avoid having your laptop stay in an area that is very cold or very hot for too long. That includes cars and trunks of cars while traveling.
  • After you return from your trip update files and data and have a test done to be sure you have not picked up any unwanted viruses.

Online Safety

 

At M&H Consulting, we work alongside many small and medium sized businesses. Many of these business are managed by entrepreneurs who also balance work and family life. Many of them ask our expert advice on online safety for the employees, but keep their children safe as well.  

Whether you are an employee of a company that works online or a teen surfing the net, here are a few ways to protect yourself online.

  • Never give out personal information whether it is your phone number, address, or parents names without ensuring you are on a secure site.
  • Never post something that could come back to hurt you later whether you are in the working world trying to get a job.
  • Check for authenticity before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly hurt the computer or mobile device or potentially jeopardize privacy.
  • Do not post risque images on business or personal sites.
  • Be true to who you are.
  • Never open emails that you suspect are from a stranger or could potentially have a virus attached.
  • Monitor who has access to different accounts and who your children are dialoguing with on a daily basis.
  • Talk to employees as well as you own children about cyberbullying and signs of an online predator.
  • Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678 if you’re aware of the transmission, use, or viewing of child pornography online. Contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI if your child has received child pornography via the Internet.

Keeping Your Personal Information Secure

 

Today’s modern employee carries their work with them everywhere they go via smartphones, tablets or laptops. Mainly this can be seen as a convenience, but for employees that carry around not only their work files on their mobile devices, but also personal information this may be a dangerous practice. Here are a few suggestions to keep your personal information secure especially if you keep personal files, data, photos or financial information on your work devices.  

 

  • Beware of Impersonators Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service.
  • Encrypt Your Data – Keep your browser secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
  • Use Security Software – Install antivirus software, antispyware software, and a firewall. Set your preference to update these protections often. Have your IT Department or Consultants like M&H update your security regularly.
  • Lock your Device – Your laptop, phone or table should be locked when you are not using it. Do not use automatic sign ins instead use personal identification protocols.
  • Be Wise About Wi-Fi – Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place, see if your information will be protected. If you use an encrypted website, it protects only the information you send to and from that site. If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.

 

Call M&H Consulting if you have questions about your personal or business data and security.

 

 

Latest Cyber Attack

Just weeks after the WannaCry ransomware was announced, the world has seen yet another disruptive cyber attack. June 27, 2017 a more sophisticated global ransomware attack crippled computers from Eastern Europe to North America. What seems to have originated from a tax software provider in the Ukraine has spread across the continent of Europe and has even impacted Australia and the United States.

 

This attack impacted thousands of computers in a wide range of businesses such as: computers that operated ATMs, radiation monitoring machines at the damaged Chernobyl nuclear plant, and even computers that run chocolate production at the Cadbury company in Australia. What at first appeared to be an amatuer attack is now seen as a much more sophisticated attack that locks up files and demands ransom for access from tens of thousands of computers.

CNN is reporting that this, “ ransomware virus is a worm that infects networks by moving from computer to computer. It uses a hacking tool called EternalBlue, which takes advantage of a weakness in Microsoft Windows. Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) released a patch for the flaw in March, but not all companies have used it. EternalBlue was in a batch of hacking tools leaked earlier this year that are believed to have belonged to the U.S. National Security Agency.”

 

Early research into this attack shows that the cyber criminals hope to to destroy and damage. Unlike the WannaCry attack this latest attack has no easy kill switch. There have only been reports of a kill switch for one version and it is not known if that will be effective. Check back with us as we continue to cover this event.

 

 

Amazon Echo Update

Updates are being made to everyone’s favorite: Amazon Echo.

Voice calling and messaging are now becoming a possibility straight from Amazon Echo. On May 9th, Amazon announced the launch of the touchscreen Echo Show, which will have features that work on the standard Echo speaker and Echo Dot.

This feature includes everything such as asking Alexa to call someone straight from your contacts, which will result in their Alexa device to begin ringing. Fortunately, Amazon is increasing this update to both iOS and Android users with the Alexa app.

With the new update, Echo Show will also have features such as video calls, which will also be included and work with the Alexa app for both, iOS and Android uses too. This feature, however, will add something unique: Drop In. This will allow approved contacts to automatically start a video call, which also include automatically turning on the recipient’s camera and mic which is perfect to check on elderly relatives or your little ones.

The next additional cool feature is voice messaging, which allows your friends and family members to interact with you and each other through messages. This is a bit more useful because you are able to send a voice message without actually calling someone first. Instead, you simply ask Alexa to message whoever you like about whatever you want. Messages can be sent and received through the Alexa app, or from Echo devices, which will have a green light glow on the device when new messages are unread.

These cool updates will make Amazon Echo much more useful and easier to use. Leaving you completely hands–free in voice calling and voice messaging.

Windows 10 Fall Creators

Among several new projects and updates that Microsoft has in the works, they recently released a major new update. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is set to have a release this September.

The Fall Creators Update will be the official debut of Microsoft’s Fluent Design System, previously known as Project Neon. This interface allows building apps that can work across several devices and input types. Although, there are more features to come, this update will bring a new focus to bring Windows experiences to Android and iOS devices.

With this new update, it is including four key new additions:

  • Timeline – Timeline is a feature that helps improve the task view area to provide a list of apps and workspaces that were in use previously in your device or on your devices as well.
  • Pick up where you left off – This new feature combines with Timeline, as it allows you to resume apps and sessions on multiple devices. This feature will specifically be useful and helpful on mobile devices.
  • OneDrive files On-Demand – Similar to Microsoft’s placeholder files, this feature will let you easily fetch files from OneDrive without having to sync them or download entire folders all at once. Instead, OneDrive allows users to pick out data from the cloud whenever it is needed–making it faster and easier. With this feature, it will help decrease the amount of space required for the files, as you’ll mostly use this feature while online and only meant to pull out the files that are needed at the moment.
  • Clipboard – Similar to Apple’s universal clipboard, the clipboard feature will help roam across Windows, iOS, and Android as it will allow users to copy content from a PC and paste it straight on a phone.

Majority of these features work and compliment each other as it makes experiences for users much easier and better to use. However, more features will continue to be developed and released as the release date gets closer.

 

Tips on Being Aware of Hacking

Hacking incidents are inevitable and one can never know if you or someone you know will fall victim to it. There are, however, several different ways to stay safe and stay on top hackers before the hacking is even done.

A few of the best ways to do so are:

  • Stay suspicious of emails – Email is used as a great communication platform, but this also makes it a huge security risk. Many cyberattacks happen through email. Phishing sends innocent emails that are meant to trick their victims. It leads them to a fake website asking for updates on their personal information. The best way to stay aware of emails is to check the sender and make sure it is someone you know. You can also check the IP address of the sender.
  • Link locations – Link locations is a huge one. Unknown messages always contain links to unknown sites. When visiting an unknown site it can have major consequences and it usually tends to mimic a familiar site, or it can also simply be unsecure and infected with malware the minute you visit. The best way to know where it is taking you is to copy and paste the link location into a new browser to check what site is on the other side. It is important to know that encrypted sites are always the safest one to visit. You will see HTTPS in the URL, as well as a lock icon on your browser.
  • Two-factor authentication – Two-factor authentication requires users to help enter several entry confirmations such as a code texted to a phone, before entering your password. This is a great way to stop attackers from stealing passwords. Most places now have made it as a standard for logging in.
  • Sharing personal data on Wi-Fi – It is best to stay away from checking your personal information such as checking your bank account, or buying a plane ticket when using internet in coffee shops, libraries or any free public Wi-Fi.

With these helpful tips you will be well prepared to in case of any phishing attack that occurs.

 

Google’s Latest Phishing Hack

Early last month, Google fell under attack in a huge phishing operation.

Many received an email that looked similar to an invitation to join a Google Doc from someone they knew on their mailing list. However, once they clicked the link to open the file, you were then directed to grant access to an app that looks like Google Docs. Instead, this was actually a program that sends spam emails to everyone you have previously mailed.

Specifically, this spam email included the following:

  • Used the name “Google Docs”
  • Used the existing Google login system
  • Bypassed any 2 factor authentication or login alerts
  • Only detectable as fake if you click “Google Docs’ while granting permission
  • Replicates itself by sending itself to all your contacts

This process of sending an email to trick someone into granting access into their personal information is called phishing. It is usually done for malicious reasons, just like stealing a credit card information or tricking someone into sharing their password.

Google released an official statement in which they mention they did indeed resolved the issue. They have removed the fake pages, updated all of their Safe Browsing preferences and system. As a result, they continue to encourage their uses to report phishing emails within their Gmail.

If you have or ever do receive an email like this, do not open it. Always remember to:

  • Change your password every three months
  • Make sure your passwords are long with lower and upper cases letters, as well as special characters such as several symbols and/or numbers
  • Make yourself familiar with the style and fonts and specific uses of Google Docs as it can be incredibly helpful when needed to detect a fake.