Windows 10 Enforces Updates on Home Users

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Earlier this month, The Register revealed that Windows updates will now be mandatory. This was determined after reading the End User License Agreement on the Windows 10 Preview for the home version.  Microsoft has been moving in this direction for years. In past operating systems, during the installation phase, Microsoft would prompt to allow updates to install without any further notification. You always had the option to turn that off or choose to download the updates, but not install them. That is no longer going to be the case for home users.

The exact wording in the EULA comes from build 10240 and states the following:

The software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you.

You may obtain updates only from Microsoft or authorised sources, and Microsoft may need to update your system to provide you with those updates.

By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice.

On one hand, this is good for end users, as most home users do not take the time to install their updates. On the other hand, the issue that some home users will run into is if Microsoft rolls out updates without the end user knowing, this could have the potential to break applications.  Microsoft is prepared to take that risk in order to stay current with the latest technology and keep its end users protected from threats, as the world becomes increasingly unsafe in the cyber community.

Microsoft is currently only rolling out automatic updates on its home versions of Windows 10. The Pro and Ultimate versions will still give users the option to download or install if they choose to. This is a smart idea, as most Pro and Ultimate users likely need to pay attention to updates and take care of them accordingly. Most Businesses rely on the Pro or Ultimate versions, as Microsoft Windows’ Professional Operating Systems and above are the only ones that can connect to domain controllers.

Businesses rely on many different ways to update their systems and these methods will likely still be as relevant as ever. Microsoft still packages its server with the role of Windows Software Update Services, or WSUS for short. There are also many different third party applications that help keep track of updates and ensure they get deployed out to all machines in a network. GFI is a company that makes a product called LanGuard, which not only handles patch management for Windows devices, but also covers Apple products and gives great reporting on the status of devices, among other features. With products such as these, it gives businesses a much more complete overlook into ensuring their machines are up-to-date.

The job of patch management for businesses is very critical. It can be a full time job, depending on the amount and complexity of the devices involved, but ensuring your network is fully secure and up to date is critical to ensuring the safety of your employees and your data.

If you are interested in the options that Everon employs in regards to patch management, give our offices a call at 1-888-244-1748.

Product Review: Lumia 1520 – My new cell phone

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It was late February 2015, and I faced a pivotal life-moment. Time to get a new cell phone.

For some people this is not a big deal, a once-a-year (or more) thing. But for me, I got my first cell phone in 1997 and could count on one hand the number of devices I’ve owned. (Yes, I’ve continuously owned a cell phone in that time. That’s how long I keep them.) And since it’d been four years since my last one, Phone #6 was kind of a big purchase.

I was going to wait it out until Microsoft released Windows 10, but my current phone was on its own schedule. It began increasingly wimping out on me, shutting itself off and restarting at random times—inconvenient and annoying. Luckily, I learned that even if I got a Windows 8.1 device now, 10 would be a free upgrade later.

I’d had my Samsung Focus, running Windows 7.5 (its maximum upgrade), since mid-2011. Back then its 4” screen was larger than any iPhone screen until late 2013, when the iPhone 5 finally caught up to match it. And it wasn’t until the iPhone 6, released last October, that Apple screens were finally larger than mine. But now I was also four years behind with the technology. Smart phones had gotten way smarter.

lumia 1520 pic

Way bigger than a 4″ screen.

I went to the AT&T store and bought a Lumia 1520 with a 6” screen. A phablet. Or, a TV, as my friends have dubbed it. The 1520 was released in October 2014. Everyone agreed its camera rocked. Lumia is, after all, from Nokia, a camera company, whose cell phone division was bought by Microsoft. The phone’s other powerful specs were pretty awesome, too.

But detractors complained. It was a Windows device, so there were less apps available. Plus, last fall, everyone thought it was a behemoth.

Flash-forward to spring, however, and 6” was suddenly the new flagship size for everyone from Apple to Samsung. Funny, how a few months changed everything.

It was a huge leap to go from a 4” screen to a 6” one, but it was amazing how quickly I got used to it. The transition from Windows to Windows was seamless, since all of my data, contacts, photos, and documents were already stored in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud. Within a few hours, I’d completely adjusted to both the larger size and the upgraded OS.

It’s been almost four months since my purchase, and I’m still happy. There are probably features on my Lumia that I’ll never use, like Project My Screen, or the built-in Office 360 suite. But things like texting are easier with the bigger keys. And my new friend, Cortana, lets me voice-text and finds destinations for me while I keep my eyes on the road. Also, she mutes people who call or text me during “Quiet Hours,” responding with a polite return-text that I’m busy. So I can get my beauty sleep. Yes, this was definitely a good purchase!

If you need help with your technology shopping, or troubleshooting your Windows (or iOS, or Android) devices, give us a call at Everon. 888-244-1748. Or email us at info@everonit.com.

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New “Tech Support” Scam for Mac Users

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Recently we have been hearing news stories about how Mac computers are being compromised. But there is another, more subtle compromise that has also been going on. The common element to these other issues happens when users visit a site in Safari, and they get a warning page pop-up:

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The message will continue to pop up about the infection – even if you hit okay, it will reappear about a second later – and you can not get it off your screen until you call, according to the information in the image. From this, most users are concerned because they believe that their computer is infected. But what is really going on is the work of scammers. (If you call the number, they will ask you to pay a few hundred dollars to have their “technicians” remove your “virus.”) Here are some steps to get rid of these messages, as your computer has not been infected, it is your browser that has been compromised and is getting re-directed, and a web program that runs once you get to this site, that has caused the problem.

Steps to get rid of the message:

  1. Force Quit from Safari. In order to do this you can Force Quit a couple of ways. Go the the Apple icon with Safari as the program highlighted.forcequit
  2. Another option is to open the Force Quit Applications menu. (Combination of keys: Alt/Option + Command + ESC will bring up the Force Quit Menu.)
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The reason the popups keep happening even after you close multiple times is because Safari re-opens the last session by default. In order to remove the message, we need to open Safari in a new session. To do that, hold down the Shift key, then click on the Safari icon. This will bring Safari up with no more error message. To clean this from your system, you need to clear out your browsing history.

  • Choose History > Show History, select history entries and daily sets of entries, then press Delete.

For the most part Macs do not get viruses or malware easily because of the security features that Apple has implemented. There are still some that are getting around that, but most of the time the application has to get your permission to install on your system.

If you are concerned about viruses, malware, or other potential dangers on your work Mac or PC, give us a call at Everon. Our techs are available for our clients 24/7, 365. Call us at 888-244-1748. Or email us at info@everonit.com. We’re here for you.

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New iPhone/Mac Vulnerabilities That Can Impact Your Business

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Recently Apple was hit with two big issues in the same month. These gave rise to concerns that Apple products might not be as secure as most think. The first of the two came in the form of a text message that can be sent to Apple iPhones.

The text, which is entirely in Arabic, can be sent to anyone with an iPhone, and it will immediately shut down the phone. While this is more of an annoying bug than a security concern (although it definitely can be viewed as a security concern, depending on the owner of the phone and his/her need for uptime), it doesn’t seem to be harmful to the devices. Users in the  Reddit.com forums found the bug, and it appears they did so by accident.

Credit: parts of this image are reproduced with permission from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unibody_Macbook.JPG.

Credit: parts of this image are reproduced with permission from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unibody_Macbook.JPG.

If your phone receives the dreaded text message, you will need to turn on your phone and delete that message. One workaround to the text issue is to go into the settings,and turn off text message previews that appear on the home screen. Apple is aware of the bug and will resolve the issue in its latest update, which should be coming very soon.

The second security concern, and one that is very critical to businesses is the latest exploit which allows someone to put a permanent backdoor onto your Mac by rewriting the firmware for the BIOS to allow remote connection to the device. This affects all Macs older than mid-2014.

The reason this security concern is so troubling is, unlike other types of exploits, where if you were to be hacked you could wipe your hard drive and start clean with the appropriate updates, this targets the BIOS, meaning no matter how often you wipe your hard drive, hackers can exploit the vulnerability over and over again.

The vulnerability can be enacted as soon as a machine is woken from Sleep Mode. The security researcher who found the exploit, Pedro Vilaca, stated you can stop your machine from going into Sleep Mode to bypass the exploit. However, Apple is aware of the exploit and should patch it soon. Vilaca also stated that this is very similar to last year’s “Thunderstrike Proof-of-Concept” exploit.

While nothing will protect against this current exploit (i.e. antivirus, anti-malware), it does show that as Macs become more popular, holes are being found in the OS and, in this case, in the hardware itself. Business owners must be aware of both where their employees go on the Internet and how to protect their assets from hacking attempts.

Everon offers antivirus for Macs, as well as PCs, with a product called Webroot Secure Anywhere. We can assist in setting up hardware proxies that will prevent unauthorized access to the Internet. If you have any questions about what we can do for your Apple environment, feel free to call our techs at 1-888-244-1748 (or email at info@everonit.com). We’re here for you. Twenty-four/seven, 365.

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How to Get iOS Devices to Work with Windows Servers

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A while ago a client asked, “How can I use my Apple iPad with my documents at work?” 

Initially, it seemed like an easy question. Windows computers and iPads are both very popular products; of course there would be an easy solution. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be.

These two large competitors are not very interested in working together. My client, who had his shares on a Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Server and wanted his Apple iPad to access those shares, had presented a challenge.

There were obvious solutions. You could use any number of remote desktop apps, such as Teamviewer, to get into your company’s terminal server, to work on the server’s desktop. But my client did not want to remote-in to anything. He wanted to access the documents without needing any device. He wanted to be able to use his domain credentials to authenticate and access shares.

I realized my solution needed to be broken out into a few parts. The first was to get an iOS device onto a Windows domain network. That’s actually the easiest part out of this entire process; every iOS device has a VPN tool built-in. As long as your network has RRAS (PPTP on port 1723), you can join the device to the network. If you are inside the network and have WiFi, even easier. To find the VPN tool on your iOS device, go to Settings –> VPN. It will request your information for connecting, simple as that. WiFi is in the exact same location (Settings –> WiFi).

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FileBrowser

Once connected to the network, you need to browse SMB shares. Unfortunately, Apple decided not to build this portion into their devices. You need a separate app. I tried out many, but the one I liked most was FileBrowser ($5.99). For any business looking to complete this task, it’s worth the price. FileBrowser allows you to set up locations in your iOS device, called Remote Servers, and connect to see all shares to which your domain credentials have access. For my example we joined a VPN, then mapped a “Remote Server” to an internal IP address where his file server existed, and then reviewed the various shares related to that file server.

If you have your shares locked down in the appropriate security groups, you will only see the shares to which you have access. (FileBrowser doesn’t get around any security flaws that could be present. It’s all based on your domain credentials.

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Google Docs

My client loved this, but he added one last piece to the puzzle. His company didn’t want to just view the files, they wanted to edit them, too. After much searching, I found the best tool for this job in another app (a free one) called QuickOffice, by Google (later replaced by a more powerful version of Office editing, Google Docs.) With Google Docs you can pull up any of the FileBrowser-searched documents, edit them with tools very similar to Microsoft’s Office suite, and then place them back on the server.

Although it sounds complicated, all the apps worked together seamlessly to allow my client’s company to review and edit files in their Windows environment, thus allowing them to integrate Apple devices into their Windows domain. And in the end, my client was happy.

For more information on how you can integrate your Apple products into a Windows domain, call Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

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