Category Archives: What’s Hot

Microsoft Announces Skype for Business End of Life

Below is the official announcement that Skype for Business will be “retired” in July of 2021.  The newer and more feature rich Teams is replacing Skype for Business.  Skype (the free consumer app) will not be affected by this announcement.

At General Networks we have migrated ourselves and many customers to Teams and the transition is pretty straight forward.  Because Teams is a different interface to the same (mostly) features, some user training is required.  We have conducted many user training sessions for our clients and the Skype features take just a few minutes to go over.  Most of the training ends up focusing on the new features of Teams.

So what’s still missing from Teams that Skype for Business has?

1)     Skype has support for multiple windows and Teams operates in a single window.  There are workarounds but sometimes multiple windows are really what’s needed.
2)     Skype for Business can message with the consumer Skype.  Teams can not yet.

There are other minor things (mostly in the administration of Teams) but those are convenience issues not functional issues.  Microsoft says they are working on solving both the the above issues.  Teams, having so many features, has more “bugs” then the older Skype for Business.  We will update this blog with more information as it becomes available.

 

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PowerApps in a Day – Free Training Workshop

In partnership with Microsoft, General Networks will be leading two free App in a Day (AIAD) workshops in Southern California.

These free workshops provide IT and business decision-makers with the skills to build great business apps using Microsoft PowerApps without writing code.

app in a day - irvine ca                             app in a day - los angeles ca

Why Attend?

As a business leader, it’s now necessary to react quickly to the changing market without becoming dependent on developing a static software solution. You need the ability to build a solution that quickly addresses your business needs. With the Microsoft Power Platform, you can build numerous business apps without writing code.

Benefits of PowerApps

  • Digitize business processes, work more efficiently and become more paperless
    With PowerApps, you will enable power-users in line of business roles to easily build and deploy custom business apps in both Canvas and Model-driven style of apps.
  • Easily connect all your applications and share data
    With Common Data Service for Apps, you can easily bring your data together and quickly create powerful apps using a compliant and scalable data service and app platform integrated right into PowerApps.
  • Automate and optimize your business processes
    Finally, with Microsoft Flow as your business service, your line of business specialists and IT pros can build automated workflows intuitively.

At the end of the training workshop, you will be able to:

  • Create custom business applications without writing code.
  • Learn how to build sophisticated business processes and complex data relationships within your applications.
  • Learn how to connect your app to a variety of data sources to bring it to life.
  • Share your apps inside your organization securely.

Who Should Attend?

IT and Business Leaders who:

  • Are currently evaluating the Power Platform for solutions in the next 3-6 months
  • Seek to understand the value of PowerApps, Flow and CDS for Applications
  • Have deployed the Power Platform and are seeking guidance/training
  • Would like to connect with an experienced PowerApps Partner in Southern CA

About App in a Day (AIAD) Workshops

General Networks will be conducting the App in a Day workshops at the Microsoft offices in Irvine, CA on September 9th and in Los Angeles on September 23rd.  These free events run from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  Limited to 60 attendees, each AIAD workshop is an interactive, hands-on lab-style training event.  You bring your device and we supply the materials, training, and lunch.

Register Now:

For more information on the App in a Day event or to discuss customized PowerApps training or services for your organization, please contact Cathy Ashbaugh at cashbaugh@gennet.com


General Networks is a Microsoft Gold Partner, specializing and certified in PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, https://gennet.com/powerapps-consulting-services/

Microsoft Gold Partner

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Making Security Easy – Get Rid of Passwords

The security landscape has changed

The truth to security is: Passwords alone can no longer protect your data.  If your not using a multi-layer security system your going to get hacked sooner or later.  I think everyone has heard that getting hacked can be extremely expensive.  But, are you aware that it is also currently one of the leading causes of business failure.

What can be done?

The first step is to deploy Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to your login accounts controlling email, financial and file systems.   While no security system is perfect, MFA raises the bar on protecting your system.

The next step is to deploy Single Sign On (SSO).  SSO makes life easy for employees as they can use a single sign-on to login in to all of your organizations resources.

Education of “social engineering” attacks and other current risk is important.  Everyone that touches your organizations data needs to know how they fit in to keeping the system secure.

And our final recommendation:

Get rid of passwords

Replace passwords with facial recognition or fingerprint readers.  This gets rid of the need to remember complex passwords, password management software and re-using the same password over and over.  Suddenly security becomes easy for everyone.  No more forgotten passwords,

Let us help you make the transition easy

General Networks can help you deploy the right set of technology services that meats your security requirements and your budget.

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Microsoft Updates Outlook for the Web: Adding AI and Other New Features

New Features Coming to OWA to Compete with Gmail

microsoftoutlookwebdesignjul19.jpg

Faster with “Modern Experience” for both email and calendar are the main changes.  But there is a lot under the covers.  A dark mode is coming (as displayed) too.  A snooze feature that will make a message as “unread” at a later date and put it at the top of your inbox.  A button to convert an email into a meeting.  And more…

Microsoft adds AI features.  Including one that will suggest potential attachments you might want to include.

Teams integration is also being added.

Look for the updates to start rolling out in late July.

 

Reference Article From CNET: Microsoft’s new-look web Outlook takes on Gmail: Dark mode plus these new features

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General Networks Named a Top Business Services Company by Clutch for 2019!

General Networks is proud to announce that we have been named as one of the top providers of business services in the world by Clutch! We are also excited to say that we have been doing well in a few of Clutch’s more competitive categories, their rankings of the best Microsoft Office 365 consultants, Microsoft SharePoint consultants, and OpenText ECM consultants.

We deliver technology consulting services for customers who need to manage and process critical business content. We bring together business strategy, specialized application expertise, and creative and technology professionals to solve business problems. We help our clients create effective solutions for automating any document intensive business process, from simple electronic libraries to complex document assembly and workflow. Our depth of experience reduces the time and risk of implementing IT solutions.

Clutch takes its reviews seriously, conducting phone interviews with a company’s past clients and getting honest feedback on the quality of their work. These reviews can all be found on our Clutch reviews page, but we wanted to include some of the nice things our clients have said about us here.

“I appreciate their ability to summarize information and suggest actionable solutions.” – IT Director, Research Center

“They are very professional, knowledgeable, and friendly and easy to work with. We’re very happy that we found them.” – Administrator, CF Kent

“General Networks’ responsiveness and accessibility sets them apart; we’ve had a harder time getting prompt support from other providers.” – Vice President, Real Estate Firm

We were also ranked as one of the best ECM consultants by Clutch’s sister site, The Manifest. We were featured for an email migration we performed for a large scale research group in California.

We are honored to receive this recognition. We do everything we can to help our clients succeed, and knowing that they appreciate our work so much is incredible. We will continue to improve and innovate, always keeping our clients ahead of the curve.

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[Policy Template] Should Failing Phishing Tests Be a Fireable Offense?

Thanks to KnowBe4 for this great policy tip!

Firing employees for failing phishing tests can be extremely counterproductive and can damage an organization’s overall security posture. That, at any rate, is what two security experts told Brian Krebs recently, and we agree with them.

Companies sometimes think punitive policies will make employees take phishing more seriously, but these policies actually discourage cooperation and openness. It is much more productive to reward desired behavior.

John LaCour, founder and CTO of PhishLabs, told Krebs that punishment isn’t an effective response to failed phishing tests because it makes employees feel they’ve been manipulated.

“It really demotivates people, and it doesn’t really teach them anything about how to be more diligent about phishing attacks,” LaCour said. “Each phishing simulation program needs to be accompanied by a robust training program, where you teach employees what to do when they see something phishy. Otherwise, it just creates resentment among employees.”

Punishing Employees Has Negative Security Repercussions

In addition to creating an unhealthy work environment, punishing employees for failing phishing tests will have negative repercussions for your organization’s security. When an employee does fall for a phishing email, whether real or simulated, the most important thing they can do is report the incident so that the attack can be mitigated. Rohyt Belani, CEO of Cofense, said that organizations should have training programs that encourage employees to report failed phishing tests.

“So what happens a lot of times is a person may click on link in a real phishing email, and three seconds later realize, ‘Oops, I shouldn’t have clicked, let me report it anyway’,” Belani told Krebs. “But if that person knew there was a punitive angle to doing so, they’re more likely not to report it and to say, ‘You know what, I didn’t do it. Where’s the proof I clicked on the link?’”

LaCour says that positive reinforcement and recognition is a key element in improving employees’ phishing resistance. He said that posting the scores for each department’s phishing tests can make employees take the tests seriously and improve cooperation. He added that small rewards and lighthearted penalties, like having the lowest-scoring department buy lunch for everyone, can also help by making it feel like a good-natured competition.

An organization’s employees are its most important assets, and they need to be treated fairly and with respect. However, employees that are chronically click- happy become an active liability for your network security. New-school security awareness training can build a culture of security within your organization by providing education programs that are effective and make your employees feel valued.

Part of that fair treatment is a published security policy—which hundreds of organizations use today—to create a clean, clear, level playing field with known consequences for repeated click behavior. Here is a “find/replace” Policy Template Doc that you can use for your own organization:
https://blog.knowbe4.com/policy-template-should-failing-phishing-tests-be-a-fireable-offense

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The Problem With Passwords

Microsoft is now saying passwords are not good security.

What is the problem?
1) People will write down passwords if they are too complex.
2) Hackers have great tools to get uninformed people to give up their passwords unintentionally.
3) Even the best passwords can be hacked.

What are the solutions?
1) Stop forcing passwords expirations and replace with a password manager (LastPass, Keeper Security, etc.).
2) Turn on Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on all services.
3) Setup Single Sign-On (SSO)
4) Use bio recognition as a factor for MFA (Finger Print Reader, Facial Recognition, etc.)

Get the security add-on
Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS). EMS can protect Office 365, G Suite and traditional on-premise Windows Server solutions (RDS and File Sharing). Bundled in you get not only the feature above but Mobile Device Management, Managed Antivirus, email and file encryption, and many other security solutions. You can do some truly amazing things with EMS like firewall corporate data from personal data on BYOD devices.

Get fingerprint readers for mobile devices. USB fingerprint readers are available for under $50. There are even Bluetooth fingerprint readers available that can protect not only computers but corporate data on mobile devices (phone and tablets) when used in conjunction with EMS.

Of course, General Networks Corporation (GNC) is here to help with engineers trained on deployment of multiple security tools and training options.

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Using Multiple Cloud Apps? Secure all your data with Cloud App Security

General Networks can help you secure multiple cloud apps with Microsoft Cloud App Security! 

Check out this video

Microsoft Cloud App Security is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), powered by a unique approach to deliver state-of-the-art security for multi-cloud environments, via native integrations. It is designed with security professionals in mind – providing simplicity of deployment, centralized management, and innovative automation capabilities.

Contact us at tssales@gennet.com

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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
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What’s New in SharePoint Communication Sites

What’s New in SharePoint Communication Sites – Branding, Layouts and Customizations

This past January, SharePoint Saturday-San Diego attendees were treated to a number of informative and inspiring presentations  and the exchange ideas with colleagues and Microsoft MVP’s.  Leading experts in the SharePoint Community were in attendance from Southern CA and throughout the US. With temperatures in the 70’s on a bright sunny Southern CA winter day, it was likely a treat for the folks that visited from the Midwest and East Coast as well!
Continue reading…

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