Category Archives: Recent Posts

Microsoft 365 and What’s New in February 2021

office 365 - Communications & Collaborationteams - Communications & Collaboration

New Features (Teams Mostly)

Microsoft has been busy rolling out new features to the Microsoft 365 platform.  Most of these are in Teams.   Lists, Forms and OneDrive new features could be viewed as “not-Teams”.   Only the OneDrive “Dark Mode” and Lists “iOS App” updates are clearly not going to be used in Teams.

Most of these are immeadiatly available all should be by the end of February.

Features and Brief Summaries

  • Presenter View – Teams now displays PowerPoint in a presenter view for the presenter.  Everyone else sees the normal slides.
  • Approvals – You can now manage approvals via Teams.
  • Channel Calendar – Adding a calendar to a channel a great way to keep channel specific dates organized.
  • Managed Chat in Meetings – in “Meeting Settings” the organizer can new restrict chat either only during the meeting or no chant allowed.
  • Call App Update rolling out Feb. – This is supposed to have a newly organized layout that makes managing calls easier.
  • Planner updates
    • Background Image – Predetermined backgrounds can be added to Planner.
    • File Recommendations – An AI engine supplies recommended files you might was to attach to tasks in Planner
  • Lists
    • Rules for Lists – Rules that can take action on events in Lists can be added to a list.
    • New iOS App
  • Forms
    •  Response Alerts – The originator of a form can add a feature that gives submitters a response via email or PDF for anonymous posters.
    • Formatting for Questions – Questions can now have formatted text.
  • OneDrive – Browser Dark Mode

Here are some links for more information:

Collaboration Coach on YouTube

Microsoft’s official what’s new

General Networks team can help your team understand and use these features.
Contact us with the form below to find out how!

Share this

Why Most MSPs including General Networks Prefer Microsoft over Others

Microsoft Gold Partner
Today a customer asked me about the value that we were bringing and how to they can justify paying for our services.  The way Managed Service Providers (MSPs) justify their value to clients is to offer services at a price below what the client can get that same service for.  In the case of this customer, they about 30 staff members.  Hiring an IT engineer, project manager and helpdesk would just never be an affordable option.  But, as their MSP we can offer that service at a price below what any one of those positions would cost by having many clients share the expense.

Then the MSP company does it’s best to balance service and costs to make sure they are completive with other MSPs.  Part of what makes MSPs completive is standardized processes and solutions.  The more customers have the same set of services, the lower the MSP can make our price to the customer.  Think of it like a large company with multiple divisions.   The IT department (the MSP in this case) controls what solutions are allowed as they have to budget for every solution in use at the company.  While MSPs are not as monolithic as an IT department, they have some of the same pressures.

Here is where Microsoft comes in.  The reality is simple, over 90% of the computers in the small business market (below 500 employees) MSPs tend to  serve are Windows based.  An even higher percentage of the on-premises servers MSP’s clients have are Windows based.  The vast majority of email systems clients have are Microsoft Exchange based.  So while some MSPs support other platforms (i.e., G Suite, AWS and Macs), they add costs in training staff and providing support to customers and therefor raise the average costs for all customers.  So most MSPs are naturally going to advise all clients to go with Microsoft.

General Networks understand that some client have specific needs not met by Microsoft and we support other platforms.  But with other platforms representing a very small percentage of our client base by user volume, the incentives are obvious.

When customers go to other platforms, MSPs are in the position of evaluating if they can afford to offer services to that customer at the same rate as other customers.  If a customer is more expensive to support, the MSP must  charge them more and the price becomes less completive.  As most of the systems in use are Microsoft based, the incentives become clear.

Share this

Why do you want your security in the clould?

GenCare Security: Is this your security pla?

Security has been a 2 edged sword for both IT Staff and IT Users.  You need it but it made using your tools harder.  That all changes with cloud managed security.

  • Loved by Users
  • Loved by IT
  • Trusted by All

General Networks can help you coordinate security across multiple platforms, using multiple apps and manage them all from a single plane of glass.  At the same time we can reduce the impact on your staff.   Making application sign ins secure and easy.

  • Single Signon
  • Passwordless Signon
  • App Portal for all your apps (Cloud and Line of Business)
  • When an employee leaves, just one place to restrict access.
  • Self Service Password Reset
  • Encrypt Data Everywhere (at rest and in transit)

The list of great features is much longer.  Contact us for more information.

 

Share this

Work From Home with Teams

Microsoft Teams helps employees do more, no matter where they work.
General Networks helps setup, learn and use Teams.
Work from Home (WFH) is easy when Teams is your WFH platform!

The modern workplace is everywhere. In the office. Out of the office. On the road. An increasing number of American workers work remotely at least some of the time. Plus, today’s teams are made up of diverse groups of employees and suppliers. Flexible work options pay big benefits for small- and medium-size businesses: those that embrace remote work cut full-time remote employee expenses and increase productivity.

To deliver on the promise of mobility and flexibility, your business needs a collaboration solution that works anywhere, whether you have 3 employees or 300.

Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork in Microsoft 365 that allows you to easily extend secure collaboration tools to remote workers and outside suppliers.

Microsoft Teams Teamwork Assessment
Bring teams together wherever they work

  • Chat, meetings, notes, documents and apps are available to team members anywhere
  • Easily add remote employees, contractors and vendors to teams
  • Team members can access collaboration tools from any location and any device
  • Customize your workspace to access to apps from Microsoft and third-party partner services anywhere
  • Convert your phones to Teams to make voice as easy at chat.  One to one, conference calls, or One to Many presentations.  Teams voice has the technology needed to make you productive.

teams - Communications & Collaboration
If you’re ready to learn how the modern workplace can make your business more mobile, please contact us at 818-249-1962 or visit www.gennet.com today.

Get your free Teams evaluation today!

Share this

Covid-19 and Security: What’s Changed?

What’s the landscape for security in the Work From Home (WFH) era or Covid-19

While the basics of security and the threats have not changed much, the landscape has changed significantly.  While most organizations are not working from the office, the normal situation of “build a security wall” and put important resources behind it is changed.  These same organizations are having staff work from their personal computers where intuitional security (firewall, antivirus, passwords, etc.) do not protect the systems.  Most organizations have not considered these changes as they rushed to get critical staff connected to the data, they need to keep the organization running.  That combined with people’s desire to be connected and know what is going on around them combines to make social engineering threats much higher than they were in the past.

What can you do to help?

IT staff and consultants can deploy what called “Zero Trust” security solutions that make sure that identity and data are protected no matter where that data goes.  What is great about this is Zero Trust solutions can make WFH easier than ever before.  Passwords can be eliminated, and security escalated as all important information and communications are encrypted.  So even if a hacker, virus, or crypto locker gets into a staff members computer, the attack will have no access to cooperate data.

If you are interested in knowing more, you can sign up for a free security evaluation for the office and home computers and we can send you some reports.  Book a free 30 Minute Security Review

Share this
microsoft teams microsoft ignite 2018 recap

Microsoft Teams, PSTN Conferencing and Bypassing “The Lobby”

If you using Teams for PSTN Conferencing (Telephone Dial In), you have probably noticed that anyone that is not a member of your Office 365 tenant must be manually admitted from the Lobby by someone who is part of your company. Skype for Business meeting allow the meeting creator to turn this off for a specific meeting and to set the “bypass lobby” as a default feature. However this feature has not yet been added to the Teams client or the Outlook Desktop Client.

And worse yet if everyone is dialing in (member or not) the same issue applies. We have had customers reject PSTN Conferencing as usable because of this problem. However, there is a workaround finally. It requires using PowerShell and its all or nothing but we have bypassed the lobby here at General Networks so we can use Teams as our primary PSTN conferencing tool.

Below are the notes from our engineer that got this working.

If your not a General Networks client to do this for you email tssales@gennet.com and we will let you know the costs. Current clients can email or call the helpdesk.

I’ve updated our meeting policy so that when you scheduled a teams call, anonymous callers can dial in and will be joined to the meeting immediately (no lobby, no admin pin necessary). Here’s how to do it.

  1. Install the Skype for Business Online Connector Module. This module in PowerShell is used to update Meeting Policies in O365 https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39366
  2. Restart your computer
  3. Open a PowerShell window in Administrator mode
  4. Run this command: Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector
    1. If you have trouble running scripts due to your execution policy you’ll need to update your execution policy. See here for details: https:/go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=135170
    2. If it asks you to start WinRM service say Yes
  5. Execute this command: $credential = Get-Credential
    1. Type in credentials of a O365 Tenant Admin (may only need rights to Teams but not sure)
  6. Execute this command: $session = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $credential -Verbose
  7. Execute this command: Import-PSSession $session
  8. You can now execute commands to interact with the Meeting Policies. Execute this command to see a list of your meeting policies: Get-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy
  9. Find the policy you want to update (i.e. Global)
  10. Execute this command using the policy name in place of GLOBAL: Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity GLOBAL -AllowAnonymousUsersToStartMeeting 1 -AllowPSTNUsersToBypassLobby 1 -AutoAdmittedUsers “Everyone”
    1. This will allow phone users to bypass the lobby as well as allow them (anonymous users) to start the meeting.
    2. Additional settings on this command can be found here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/module/skype/set-csteamsmeetingpolicy?view=skype-ps
Share this

Apple iOS 12.1.2 Causes iPhone WiFi Problems

iPhone WiFi Problem:

If your having iPhone WiFi issues, it’s not a setting.  Apple pushed out iOS 12.1.2 and it’s breaking WiFi.

The most common issue is what this Pennsylvania poster encountered:  “@AppleSupport iOS 12.1.2 update broke WiFi sign in on the iPhone SE. Getting a random PW is incorrect even when was signed on to said WiFi. #MightWantToFixThat”

Apple is remaining silent about the issue but hopefully will release a fix shortly.  In the meantime, if you have not upgraded to 12.1.2 hold off.

“With millions of users around the world still upgrading to iOS 12.1.2 despite warnings (including one Maine, US user taking matters into his own hands), it has now emerged that the update is breaking WiFi as well. Worse still, a lot of users hit with the cellular data bug are suffering from broken WiFi on top, turning their iPhones into expensive paperweights.

Apple iOS 12.1.2 is breaking WiFi and mobile data for users around the worldApple

Once again, complaints from users about the iOS 12.1.2 WiFi problems can be found in every major continent: from North America and South America to Europe and Asia. Furthermore, like the mobile data bug, iPhone owners in the United States are suffering more than most.”

Original Post by 

Share this

RELEASE: Security Baseline (FINAL) for Windows 10 v1809 and Windows Server 2019

by kurtsh 

 

New security baseline for our OSs was released:
Microsoft is pleased to announce the final release of the security configuration baseline settings for Windows 10 October 2018 Update (a.k.a., version 1809, “Redstone 5” or “RS5”), and for Windows Server 2019.
For now, download the content here: Windows-10-1809-Security-Baseline-FINAL. It will be posted to the Security Compliance Toolkit download site very soon.

Read the entire blog announcement here:
• RELEASE: Security baseline (FINAL) for Windows 10 v1809 and Windows Server 2019
kurtsh | November 29, 2018 at 2:48 am | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/p15CWC-517

This announcement should indicate that the “October” release of Windows 10 will released to manufacture (RTM) soon. New features include Autopilot, Kiosk Mode, many security features.  Here’s a list of features coming in Windows 10 Release 1809.

Read the entire blog announcement here:
     RELEASE: Security baseline (FINAL) for Windows 10 v1809 and Windows Server 2019

Microsoft Gold Partner

Share this

How to Spot Phishing Messages Like a Pro

Update to STAY SAFE FROM PHISHING. 5 Ways to Stay Safe

June 2018 Volume 13 Issue 06

From the desk of Thomas F. Duffy, MS-ISAC Chair

The Federal Trade Commission’s definition of phishing is “when a scammer uses fraudulent emails or texts, or copycat websites, to get you to share valuable personal information.”[1] When a user falls for a phishing message, the malicious actor achieves their purpose of getting the victim to hand over sensitive information such as login names and passwords. Though we count on technologies and controls to minimize threats, phishing exploits users through social engineering, which allows the malicious actors to side step these protections. This is why it is important that everyone learn to spot these fraudulent messages. Let’s take a look at some example emails of phishing messages.

Message #1

Subject: Low Cost Dream Vacation loans!!!

Dear John,

We understand that money can be tight and you may not be able to afford to go on vacation this year.   However, we have a solution. My company, World Bank and Trust is willing to offer low cost loans to get your through the vacation season. Interest rates are as low at 3% for 2 years. If you are interested in getting a loan, please fill out the attached contact form and send it back to us. We contact you within 2 days to arrange a deposit into your checking account.

Please email your completed form to VacationLoans@worldbankandtrust.com.

Your dream vacation is just a few clicks away!

Dr. Stephen Strange

World Bank and Trust

177a Bleecker Street, New York, NY10012

What did you notice in message #1? 

In this message, you can see that the phisher wants to give us a low-cost loan with no credit check. They say we just need to send them our information and they will give us money, right? Not only does it seem too good to be true, but also when you hover the cursor over the email address to examine it further, you see that the link actually has a different destination. It is the email address of the attacker. Lastly, as much as you might like Dr. Strange, he’s probably not working for a bank part-time.

Message #2

Subject: Free Amazon Gift Card!!!

Dear Sally,

You name has been randomly selected to win a $1000 Amozan gift card. In order to collect your prize, you need to log in with your Amazon account at the link below and update your contact information so we can put your prize in the mail. This is a limited time offer, so please respond to the request within 2 business days.  Failure to respond will forfeit your prize and we will select another winner.

www.amozan.com/giftredemption2321

What did you notice in message #2? 

Aside from this seeming too good to be true, you can see that “Amazon” is misspelled as “Amozan” on the link provided. If you read this quickly, you may think you are responding to the real company to get your gift certificate. In reality, you are providing your information to the attacker. For the purposes of this example, the link actually navigates to the Center for Internet Security, which is a trustworthy site.

Message #3

Subject: Urgent – Take Action Before Your Email Account is Deactivated

Dear User,

Following changes to our Microsoft email systems, each user must authenticate their account to prevent it from being deactivated. You can accomplish this by heading to the link below and entering your Microsoft Outlook email account credentials, and then we will know your account is active and should remain so.

https://www.microsoft.com/

Thank you,

Information Technology

Helpdesk Support Team

What did you notice in message #3?

This email is fairly well crafted without errors. Note that it establishes a sense of urgency that the malicious actor hopes will cloud your judgment and threatens the deactivation of your email account. Additionally, the link at the bottom looks like a link to Microsoft, yet it is, in fact, heading somewhere else! Luckily, for the purposes of this example, that link simply leads to the Center for Internet Security, which is a legitimate site.

With these three examples considered, here are some basic recommendations to help protect you from becoming a phishing victim:

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is;
  • Hover your cursor over links in messages to find where the link is actually going;
  • Look for misspellings and poor grammar, which can be good signs a message is a fraud;
  • And, never respond to an email requesting sensitive personal information (birthday, Social Security Number, username/password, etc.).

 

Additional information and a phishing game can be found on the FTC’s website, https://www.ftc.gov/.

 

Share this