Author page: admin

5 Things to Try in Windows 10 after the October 2018 Update Is Installed
5 Things to Try in Windows 10 after the October 2018 Update Is Installed

The Windows 10 October 2018 Update includes many new features and enhancements. Here are five notable ones that you might find useful.

Microsoft officially released another major update for Windows 10 on October 2, 2018. Like previous updates, the Windows 10 October 2018 Update includes many new features and enhancements. Here are five notable ones you might want to try once the update is installed on your computer:

  1. Souped-Up Clipboard

The October 2018 Update soups up the Windows Clipboard with new history and syncing features. Thanks to the history feature, you can now copy and store multiple items (text and images) on the Clipboard. When you want to paste one of those items, you simply press Win+V to open up the Clipboard’s history window and select the item you want to paste. (If you are unfamiliar with keyboard shortcuts, Win+V indicates that you press the Windows key and the letter v on your keyboard at the same time.)

With the syncing feature, you can copy text and images on one Windows 10 computer and paste them on another one. This can come in handy if you regularly use multiple devices, such as a Windows 10 desktop computer and a Windows 10 laptop computer.

Before you can take advantage of the history and syncing features, though, you need to enable them in in Windows 10’s Settings app. You can find them by clicking “System” in the Settings app and selecting the “Clipboard” option.

  1. “Make text bigger” Slider

Before the October 2018 Update, you could make text bigger in Windows 10 by changing the overall scaling. This made everything bigger, including text and images. With the new “Make text bigger” slider introduced in the October 2018 Update, you can make just the text larger. The overall scaling remains the same. (You can still change the overall scaling, though, if desired.)

You can find the “Make text bigger” slider in the Settings app. After you open the app, select “Ease of Access” and click the “Display” option.

  1. Snip & Sketch App

The new Snip & Sketch app lets you capture and mark up screenshots. It combines the functionality found in Windows 10’s Snipping Tool and the Screen Sketch app (which was originally part of Windows Ink Workspace).

Snip & Sketch lets you take rectangular, freeform, and full-screen shots of items on your screen. Once created, you can use a stylus (on touch-enabled devices) or a mouse to annotate the screenshot. There are various markup tools, such as a pencil and a marker, which you can customize by changing their color and thickness.

Although Snip & Sketch was designed to replace the Snipping Tool, the Snipping Tool will still be present after the October 2018 Update is installed, according to Microsoft. In the future, though, the Snipping Tool will likely disappear from Windows 10.

  1. Your Phone App

After the October 2018 Update is installed, you will have an app named Your Phone on your Windows 10 computer. The app lets you link and sync a Google Android smartphone with your Windows 10 computer. When you do so, you can view and send Android text messages from your computer. You can also access your phone’s photos, which means you do not have to email photos to yourself to get them on your computer.

If this seems familiar, you are not having a case of de ja vu. Your Phone has been available in Microsoft’s App Store since August 2018. Plus, since the Fall Creators Update (which was released in October 2017), you have been able to link an Android phone or Apple iPhone to a Windows 10 computer in order to send web pages from your phone to your computer. This enables you to see the web pages on a larger screen without having to email yourself a link or manually search for the sites. You can continue to do this through the Your Phone app introduced in the October 2018 Update.

You can install the Your Phone app on an iPhone. However, sending web pages is pretty much all you can do at the present time. You cannot access photos or send text messages from your computer like you can with an Android phone. This might change in the future, though.

  1. Power Usage Tracking in Task Manager

You can now see how much power each app and process is consuming on your Windows 10 computer, thanks to the October 2018 Update. Two columns have been added to the “Processes” tab in Task Manager:

  • “Power Usage”, which conveys how much power each app and process is currently using
  • “Power Usage Trend”, which indicates how much power each app and process has used in the past two minutes

Task Manager does not give you an exact measurement but rather an indicator such as “Very Low” and “Low”. This information can be helpful when you want to get an idea of how much power your apps are consuming. Plus, the new power usage columns might flag when a cryptojacking script is siphoning a computer’s processing power. In this type of attack, cybercriminals steal computers’ processing power to mine cryptocurrencies.

1 Out of Every 101 Emails Is Sent by a Hacker
1 Out of Every 101 Emails Is Sent by a Hacker

Does your business receive hundreds of emails each day? If so, there is a good chance some of them have been sent by hackers. Find out how to protect your business from malicious emails.

Most businesses receive hundreds of emails each day — and there is a good chance some of them have been sent by hackers. After analyzing more than 500 million emails sent in the first half of 2018, FireEye researchers found that 1 out of every 101 emails sent is malicious. Spam is not included in this count. It includes only those emails sent by cybercriminals with the express purpose of pilfering money, stealing data, or compromising systems.

The vast majority (90%) of the malicious emails do not contain any malware, but they are far from being benign. They can be just as dangerous as those containing malware.

Hackers Are Using Both Old and New Tricks in Malware-Less Emails

Not surprisingly, around 80% of the malware-less emails were phishing attacks. In this type of attack, cybercriminals try to trick recipients into performing an action, such as clicking a link that leads to a malicious website. Phishing emails are generic so that they can be sent to a large number of targets, which is why the researchers found so many of them.

The remaining 20% of the malware-less emails were impersonation scams. These highly personalized emails try to con recipients into transferring money or revealing sensitive information. Cybercriminals spend a lot of time researching their targets in order to create legitimate-looking emails. Because these emails appear to be normal traffic, it is harder for email security solutions to detect them.

One of the cybercriminals’ favorite type of impersonation email is the business email compromise (BEC) scam. In this type of attack, cybercriminals masquerade as executives, supplier representatives, and other business professionals to con companies out of money. In 2017, hackers stole more than $675 million from US businesses using BEC scams.

While the researchers found that hackers were still using old favorites like the BEC scam, they also discovered a new type of impersonation scam: impersonation emails that led to phishing sites, where login credentials were harvested or malware was uploaded to victims’ computers. By including phishing links, hackers can send out vaguer emails to a larger number of targets. Because these emails still include some personalization, the recipients are more likely to think the emails are from trusted sources and click the link compared to generic phishing attacks. As a result, the email open rate for this new type of impersonation email is similar to that for highly personalized impersonation emails, according to the researchers.

Common Ways in Which Hackers Try to Deceive Recipients

In both the new and old types of impersonation emails, the cybercriminals typically manipulate the entry in the “From” field to trick recipients into believing the messages are from legitimate senders. The techniques include:

  • Spoofing the display name of an email address (e.g., Jane Doe)
  • Spoofing the username (the portion before the @ sign) of an email address (e.g., JaneDoe@)
  • Creating and using a domain (the portion after the @ sign) that is similar to a legitimate one (e.g.,,

How to Protect Your Business from Malicious Emails

To protect your business from impersonation and phishing attacks as well as emails containing malware, you can use the stop, educate, and mitigate strategy:

Stop as many malicious emails as you can from reaching employees. To do so, you need to keep your company’s email filtering and anti-malware tools up-to-date. They can capture many phishing and malware-laden emails. You might even want to explore getting an email security solution that uses advanced technologies to catch malicious emails. In addition, make sure that employees’ email addresses and other potentially sensitive information (e.g., job titles) are not publicly available.

Educate employees so they can spot any malicious emails that reach their inboxes. While email filters often snag phishing attacks, they are not as good at stopping impersonation emails. Plus, most anti-malware software is only effective against known malware strains. Thus, it is important to educate employees about the types of malicious emails they might encounter and how to spot them (e.g., check for spoofed names in an email’s “From” field). As part of this training, be sure to inform them about the risks associated with clicking email links and opening email attachments. Plus, let them know how hackers find the information they need to personalize impersonation emails (e.g., social engineering).

Mitigate the effects of successful email attacks. Cybercriminals keep coming up with new ways to pilfer money, steal data, and compromise systems using email, so your company might fall victim to an attack despite everyone’s best efforts to prevent it. Taking a few preemptive measures might help mitigate the effects of a successful email attack. For example, since obtaining login credentials is the goal of many phishing emails, you should make sure each business account has a unique, strong password. That way, if a phishing scam provides hackers with the password for one account, they won’t be able to access any other accounts with it. Equally important, you need to perform backups regularly and make sure they can be restored. This will enable you to get your data back if an employee inadvertently initiates a ransomware attack by clicking a link in an impersonation email.

The Individual Steps

The individual steps for implementing the stop, educate, and mitigate strategy will vary depending on your business’s needs. We can help you develop and implement a comprehensive plan to defend against malicious emails.

US Data Breach Victims Can Now Request Credit Freezes for Free
US Data Breach Victims Can Now Request Credit Freezes for Free

Thanks to a new federal law, US citizens no longer have to pay fees to freeze access to their credit reports. If you have been a victim of a data breach, you should consider taking advantage of this new policy. Here is what you need to know and do.

Data breaches are common nowadays in the United States. Victims of this type of cyberattack are at risk of identity theft, especially if the stolen data includes their social security numbers, as was the case in the massive Equifax data breach in 2017. Cybercriminals like to use this information to open new financial accounts (e.g., credit cards, loans) in the victims’ names. To make matter worse, the stolen data is often stored on the dark web for years, so the victims are at risk for a long time.

One way in which data breach victims can protect themselves is to restrict access to their credit reports, which is known as freezing them. A credit freeze can stop identity thieves from opening new accounts because lenders typically won’t approve an application if they cannot check the person’s credit reports.

In the past, people often had to pay to freeze and unfreeze reports at each credit bureau, which stopped many people from doing so. Fortunately, this has changed in the United States, thanks to a new federal law that went into effect on September 21, 2018. People can now freeze and unfreeze their credit reports at the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free.

If you were one of the 143 million US consumers who had their social security numbers stolen in the Equifax breach or you were the victim of another data breach, you should consider taking advantage of this new law. Here is what you need to know and do.

What You Need to Know

Before you freeze your credit reports, it is important to know the following:

  • A credit freeze won’t stop cybercriminals from making charges to your existing accounts (e.g., credit card accounts) if the stolen data included those account numbers. So, you will need to continue monitoring your account statements for suspicious activity.
  • Some groups will still have access to frozen reports, such as existing creditors and debt collectors.
  • A credit freeze won’t affect your credit score. Nor will it prevent you from getting your free annual credit reports. (US citizens have the right to obtain free copies of their Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion reports once a year.)
  • A credit freeze remains in place until you ask the credit bureau to temporarily lift it or permanently remove it. This is important to keep in mind if you want to fill out a credit card application, get car insurance, or apply for a job. If you make the request online or by phone, the credit bureau must lift the freeze within an hour. If the request is made by mail, the bureau has up to three business days to lift the freeze after it receives the request.
  • All three credit bureaus offer services such as credit monitoring and identity-theft protection. It is important not to confuse credit freezes with these services, as the services typically have monthly fees. You need to be sure that you are requesting a credit freeze, which is sometimes called a security freeze.

If you do not want the hassle of freezing and unfreezing your credit reports, another option is to request a fraud alert, which is also free. With a fraud alert, lenders can get copies of your credit reports as long as they take steps to verify your identity. The new law lengthens how long a fraud alert remains in place from 90 days to one year. However, if you are an identity theft victim, you can get an extended fraud alert, which can be in place for seven years.

What You Need to Do

If you decide to freeze your credit reports, you need to do so at each credit bureau You can request a credit freeze online, by phone, or by mail. Here is each bureau’s website and telephone number:

When requesting a credit freeze, you need to provide your name, current address, social security number, and date of birth. You might also need to provide other information to confirm your identity, such as your previous address or existing credit cards. Once the freeze is in place, you will be given a personal identification number (PIN). You need to remember the PIN because you will need it to temporarily lift or permanently remove the freeze.

You can also use the contact information just given to set up fraud alerts. However, in this case, you only have to contact one of the credit bureaus. That bureau will then let the other two bureaus know they have to set up a fraud alert for your credit reports.

iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR: Which Would Work Best for Your Business?
iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR: Which Would Work Best for Your Business?

Discover what the three models have in common and how they differ from each other.

If your business is in the market for new iPhones for employees, you are in luck. You have three new models from which to choose. Apple rolled out two new models — the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max — on September 21, 2018. The third model — the iPhone XR — is scheduled for release on October 26, 2018.

The XR model is an entry-level smartphone, so it is less expensive (starts at $749) than the flagship XS and XS Max models (start at $999 and $1,099, respectively). But, as with any IT asset, you need to consider more than just the cost. Here are some points to keep in mind when deciding which model would work best for your business.

What the Models Have in Common

The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR have more than just the iOS 12 operating system in common. Here are some of the features they share:

A12 Bionic chip. The new A12 chip has a six-core central processing unit (CPU), a four-core graphics processing unit (GPU), and a neural engine. According to Apple, the A12 chip can process 5 trillion operations per second, making it 15% faster than its predecessor (A11) while using up to 50% less power. The neural engine uses real-time machine learning, which enables the smartphones to recognize patterns, make predictions, and learn from experience.

Dual subscriber identification module (SIM) technology. The devices are designed to have one physical SIM card (nano-SIM) and one digital SIM (eSIM). As a result, you can have two phone numbers or two phone plans on the same device without having to physically swap SIM cards. This can come in handy, for example, if you want to have separate phone numbers for business and personal calls. If you are anxious to use this new feature, you will have to wait, though. The eSIM will be delivered through a software update later in 2018. Plus, some carriers might not support eSIM.

Intel XMM7560 modem. Thanks to the new Intel XMM7560 modem, the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR will work with all four major US carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon). In the past, the iPhones offered by AT&T and T-Mobile did not work on Sprint and Verizon networks.

Face ID authentication. With Face ID, you can use your face instead of a password to unlock your iPhone and log in to apps. Although this feature has been around since 2017, it is faster in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. Face ID uses the TrueDepth camera to scan your face and the neural engine’s machine learning capabilities to recognize you, even if you are donning a hat or wearing glasses instead of contacts.

How the Models Differ

There are many ways in which the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR differ from each other. Here are five of the most notable differences:

Display type. The display type is probably the biggest differentiator between Apple’s flagship and entry-level iPhones. The XS and XS Max models have organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens, while the XR model has a liquid-crystal display (LCD) screen. OLED displays provide more vibrant colors, offer better contrast, and have higher resolution than LCD screens. The XS Max model has a slightly higher resolution (2688×1242 at 458 pixels per inch, or ppi) than the XS model (2436×1125 at 458 ppi). The resolution of the iPhone XR is 1792×828 at 326 ppi.

Display size. Based on price, you might expect that the most-expensive model (XS Max) has the largest screen while the least-expensive model (XR) has the smallest one. But that is not the case. While the iPhone XS Max does have the largest screen (6.5 inches), the iPhone XR comes in second with a screen size of 6.1 inches. The iPhone XS’s screen is 5.8 inches.

Battery life. While the iPhone XR’s LCD screen might not be as flashy as the OLED displays in the iPhone XS and XS Max, it has one redeeming value: It consumes less battery power. This power savings — combined with the fact that the iPhone XR’s battery is slightly larger than the one in the iPhone XS — means that you will likely have to charge the iPhone XR less often than the other two models (especially the XS). table 1 compares how long each model’s charge will last when using it for various activities.

table 1: How Long Each iPhone Model Lasts on a Battery Charge

iPhone XS

(2,658 mAh lithium ion battery)
iPhone XS Max

(3,174 mAh lithium ion battery)
Talking Up to 25 hours Up to 20 hours Up to 25 hours
Using the Internet Up to 15 hours Up to 12 hours Up to 13 hours
Playing videos Up to 16 hours Up to 14 hours Up to 15 hours
Playing audio files Up to 65 hours Up to 60 hours Up to 65 hours

Memory capacity. For the first time, Apple is offering smartphones with 512 gigabytes (GB) of storage. This storage capacity is available in the XS and XS Max models. Each model offers three storage options. table 2 shows those options and how much they cost.

table 2. Storage Options for Each iPhone Model

iPhone XR

iPhone XS

iPhone XS Max

64 GB




128 GB


256 GB




512 GB



Cameras. The iPhone XS and XS Max have three cameras. On the front, they have the TrueDepth 7 megapixel (MP) camera. On the back, there are the dual wide-angle and telephoto 12MP cameras. The iPhone XR has only two cameras. It has the TrueDepth 7MP camera on the front and a 12MP camera on the back.

Still Not Sure?

The best phone for your business will be the one that meets your employees’ needs at the lowest price point. For example, if your employees need a phone with a large memory capacity so they can store a lot of business data, then one of the flagship models might work best since they offer 512 GB of storage. However, if your employees do not need that much storage, the iPhone XR might be the best buy. Although it does not have an OLED screen or the dual wide-angle and telephoto 12MP cameras, it offers the same powerful A12 chip found in the iPhone XS and XS Max.

If you are still uncertain as to which iPhone model would be best, contact us. We can explain the differences in more depth so you can make an informed choice.

Are Your Employees a Security Liability or a Security Asset?
Are Your Employees a Security Liability or a Security Asset?

While many companies realize they should provide IT security training, they often do not know where to begin. If your business is one of them, here are some suggestions to get you started.

The actions of careless and uninformed employees are a leading cause of serious IT security breaches, second only to malware attacks, according to a study by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International. Even when a security incident is caused by malware, employees’ actions are often a contributing factor.

These study findings point to the need for IT security training. This training can mean the difference between employees being a security liability or a security asset. While many businesses know they should be training their employees, they often do not know how often to provide the training, what to cover, and how to make it effective.

How Often

When it comes to IT security training, taking a “one and done” approach is not advisable. Instead, companies need to provide ongoing training because cybercriminals are constantly changing their tactics and devising new cyberthreats. The organization that oversees the United States’ Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) recommends monthly security updates in addition to bi-annual training. Yet, only a quarter of employees receive cybersecurity training at least once a month, according to a Finn Partners survey.

Although there are expenses associated with providing ongoing training, the costs incurred from a serious IT security incident would be much higher. In 2017 alone, phishing and business email compromise (BEC) scams set US companies back $705 million.

What to Include

Your training program should be tailored to meet your company’s needs. It should cover the specific types of IT security risks that your employees might face on the job. The program also needs to address the security requirements employees are expected to meet. This is particularly important if your business must comply with any industry or government regulations such as HIPAA or the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Topics commonly covered in IT security training include:

  • The need for strong, unique passwords and how to create them
  • The different types of malware (e.g., ransomware, spyware) and how they are spread
  • Email security, including how to spot phishing emails and BEC scams
  • What employees should do if they receive a suspicious email or encounter another type of IT security problem
  • How to safely use the Internet
  • Social engineering threats
  • How to use mobile devices securely
  • Physical IT security measures being used
  • Your company’s IT security policies

All employees — including managers and executives — should receive basic security training. Some employees might need additional instruction that is specific to their particular jobs.

How to Make the Training More Effective

The IT security training will be pointless if your employees do not remember any of it. Fortunately, there are several ways to help make your IT security training more memorable and effective. For starters, you should hold short training sessions rather than marathon meetings. Bombarding employees with information for many hours will result in information overload, which means they will likely forget most of it. Providing ongoing training in small chunks is a more effective way to get employees to retain information. Plus, it will be easier for them to fit shorter training sessions into their work schedules.

Including hands-on activities in the training sessions will also help employees remember the information presented. For example, in addition to discussing on how to spot phishing scams, you could place the employees into small groups, give them copies of emails, and have them pick out the ones they think are phishing scams.

Another way to increase the effectiveness of your training is to make the information relevant to employees on a personal level. For example, a good way to get employees interested how to use company-owned mobile devices securely is to start by discussing how they can protect their personal smartphones (e.g., only use hotspots known to be safe and reliable). Once they learn good security habits in their personal lives, they will be more likely to practice them at work.

Finally, after employees have completed their training on a particular topic, you might consider testing what they have learned. For instance, after covering how to spot phishing emails, you could send out a fake phishing email with a suspicious link. If clicked, the link could lead to a safe web page that states the phishing email was an IT security training exercise. This type of testing can reinforce what employees have learned. It can also help determine the effectiveness of the training.

It is important to follow up with employees after the test, especially with the individuals who clicked the suspicious link. However, you should never embarrass or scold these employees during this discussion. Instead, you should offer them additional training and resources.

Your Employees Are an Important Part of Your Line of Defense

Educating employees about IT security is important. With training, they can bolster your line of defense against cyberattacks rather than be a weak link in it. To make this happen, you need to develop an effective IT training program that will teach your employees what they need to know to help keep your business secure. If you are uncertain of what to include, contact us. We can suggest topics based on your business’s IT environment.

Thousands of WordPress Websites Hijacked
Thousands of WordPress Websites Hijacked

Cybercriminals hijacked thousands of WordPress websites in September 2018. Learn how hackers carried out these attacks and what you can do to protect your business’s website.

Hackers hijacked thousands of websites in September 2018 and installed malicious code in them. All the sites were using the WordPress content management system. WordPress sites are a popular target for cybercriminals because they are so common.

The September Attacks

The security researchers who discovered the barrage of attacks in September believe that the cybercriminals accessed the sites through outdated WordPress plugins and themes. Once the hackers gained access, they modified the sites’ code for malicious purposes. For example, in some cases, the code sent site visitors to tech support scam pages. The cybercriminals also planted backdoors in the sites so they could easily access them in the future.

Don’t Become the Next Victim

Many small and midsized businesses use WordPress because it is free yet full-featured. If your business is one of them, you need to protect your WordPress site. A good place to start is to:

  • Keep the number of plugins and themes to a minimum. Each plugin and theme you use increases your site’s attack surface, so only use the ones your site needs.
  • Keep your site’s plugins and themes updated. It is important to install any updates released for your site’s plugins and themes. Besides providing new and improved features, the updates often patch any recently discovered security vulnerabilities. Outdated plugins and themes can give hackers the opening they need to access your site.
  • Update the WordPress CMS software. Although the hackers exploited outdated plugins and themes in the September 2018 attacks, they sometimes exploit vulnerabilities in the core WordPress software instead. Thus, you need to keep the core software updated.
  • Make sure your hosting service is doing its part. Your hosting service needs to keep its security measures up-to-date and regularly update its infrastructure. Failure to do so will leave your site vulnerable to cyberattacks.

There are also other measures you can take. For example, if visitors log in to any part of your WordPress site, you should implement a password policy or possibly use a two-step authentication system. We can evaluate your site and devise a customized plan to protect it from hackers.

How to See Which Files Are Taking Up the Most Space in Windows 10
How to See Which Files Are Taking Up the Most Space in Windows 10

The longer you have your computer, the more files you will accumulate on it. Here is how you can find out how much space you have left on the hard drive of your Windows 10 computer and which files are taking up the most space.

Although large hard drives are the norm nowadays, it is still a good idea to know how much space you have left on your hard drive and which files are taking up the most space.

You can quickly find out how much room you have left on your hard drive using Windows 10’s File Explorer, but it does not give you any clue as to which files are hogging all the space. The “Storage” page in the Settings app provides both pieces of information. It specifies the amount of free space available and lets you explore how much space your documents, pictures, and other types of files are consuming. Equally important, it lets you drill down to the file level, so you can view and manage those files.

How to Access the “Storage” page

Getting to the “Storage” page in the Settings app is easy. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Start menu by clicking the Windows button.
  2. Click the gear icon in the lower left corner of the Start menu to open the Settings app.
  3. Choose “System” in the Settings app.
  4. Select “Storage” in the left pane.
  5. Click “This PC (C:)” in the “Local storage” section.

You will see a list of file types, ranked by the amount of space they consume, as Figure 1 shows.

While many of the categories are self-explanatory (e.g., “Mail”, “Pictures”, “Music”, “Videos”), some are not. For instance, the “Other” category is vague. If you click that category heading, you will be taken to a page that notes the category is a catchall for files and folders that Windows 10 couldn’t characterize.

Each category page lets you view and manage the files in them. The only exception is the page for the “System & reserved” category. It just briefly describes the types of files found in this category because removing them would harm your computer. It does, though, give you the option to manage the system restore process.

What You Can Do If You Want to Free Up Space

If you want to free up space on your hard drive, you have several options, including:

  • Deleting unused and duplicate files.
  • Moving files you seldomly use to the cloud (or another storage medium).
  • Uninstalling apps you do not use.
  • Using the “Free up space now” option on the “Storage” page to reclaim space.

Deleting unused and duplicate files is fairly straightforward. The other options are more involved. If you need help moving files to the cloud, uninstalling unwanted apps, or using the “Free up space now” option, let us know.

Find Out What Data Microsoft Is Saving about You
Find Out What Data Microsoft Is Saving about You

If you use Windows 10 and have a Microsoft account, you can easily see the types of data that Microsoft has stored about you. Learn where you can find this data and how to delete it.


Like Google, Apple, and other tech giants, Microsoft collects and saves information about the people who use its products and services. If you use Windows 10 and have a Microsoft account, you can easily see the types of data that Microsoft is storing about you in the “Activity history” page of the Privacy Dashboard. You can also delete the stored data from this page.


How to Access Your Activity History


To get to the “Activity history” page, follow these steps:


    1. Go to the Microsoft Privacy web page.


    1. Log in with your Microsoft account credentials.


    1. Click the “Activity history” tab in the Privacy Dashboard.


On the left side of the “Activity history” page, you will see the following six categories. When you click them, here are the types of data you might see:


    • “Apps and services” The Microsoft apps and services you use each day will likely be listed here. For example, the listing might show that you used Bing, Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft Word, and MSN Web on September 1, 2018.


    • “Voice” — If you use voice commands with Windows, Cortana, or other voice-enabled Microsoft products and services, the company saves your audio recordings. Information about those recordings will be shown here.


    • “Search” — If you use the Bing search engine on any web browser, you will see the search terms you used and when the searches took place.


    • “Browse” — Your web browsing history will be displayed if you use Microsoft Edge and Cortana’s “Browsing history” option is enabled in Windows 10.


    • “Media” — Data about your media activity will be shown if you watch movies or TV programs using a Microsoft app or service.


    • “Locations” — Maps showing your locations each day will be displayed. To create these maps, Microsoft uses the locations you provide and the locations it detects using technologies such as GPS.


You can download a copy of your activity history from the dashboard’s “Download your data” page.


How to Delete the Stored Data


If you do not like the amount of information being stored about you, you can delete it directly from the “Activity history” page. You have the ability to delete individual data records by clicking the “Clear” link embedded in each one. However, this could be time-consuming if there are numerous records in a category. In that case, you might want to take advantage of the “Clear activity” link in the top right corner of the page. Clicking this option will delete all the data records in that category.


Changing Your Privacy Settings


The Privacy Dashboard provides you with information on how to change your privacy settings in Windows 10 and various Microsoft apps and services so that less data will be collected and stored about you in the future. However, this information is scattered throughout the “Overview”, “Activity history”, “Cortana’s Notebook”, and “Ad settings” pages in the dashboard. If you need help finding the privacy settings you want to change or you do not want to take the time to make the changes, contact us.


Why Using Gmail’s Confidential Mode Is Not a Good Idea for Businesses
Why Using Gmail’s Confidential Mode Is Not a Good Idea for Businesses


As part of Gmail’s redesign in 2018, Google introduced the Confidential Mode to protect sensitive information sent by email. Learn how it works and why you should avoid using it in your business.


As part of Gmail’s redesign in 2018, Google introduced the Confidential Mode to protect sensitive information sent by email. However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international nonprofit digital rights group, notes that calling this new mode “confidential” is misleading as it lacks the privacy features needed to be considered a reliable and secure communications option for most users.


To understand the potential problems with Gmail’s Confidential Mode, your first need to understand how it works.


How the Confidential Mode Works


Gmail’s Confidential Mode is designed to protect sensitive information by:


    • Allowing you to set an expiration date for an email, thereby limiting the amount of time the recipient has to view it


    • Allowing you to immediately revoke access to an email you already sent, regardless of its expiration date


    • Preventing the email’s recipient from forwarding, copying, printing or downloading the email’s contents


    • Requiring the recipient to enter a one-time passcode to view the email (this is optional)


The Confidential Mode is possible because Google stores the email’s message (the body of the email) and any attachments on its servers, creating a link to the stored information. It then sends the email’s subject line and link to the recipient using a standard email protocol (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, or SMTP).


What the recipient sees depends on the email address to which the message was sent. If the email is sent to a Gmail address, the message and attachments will automatically render. The email will appear like any other, except it will include a note like that shown in Figure 1.



If the email is sent to a non-Gmail address, the recipient will be sent the link, which they can click to access the message, as Figure 2 shows.


The Potential Problems


Some security experts warn that emails sent using the Confidential Mode might not be private nor secure. One of the EFF’s main concerns is that Google can read the confidential emails people send because end-to-end encryption is not used. In addition, the EFF is concerned that Google has the technical capability to store these emails indefinitely, regardless of their expiration date. Google is not sharing any information about how long they are keeping them. “We’re not able to comment on internal procedures,” stated one Google official.


Online copies of expired confidential emails might also exist in a different location: in the “Sent” folders of the people who emailed the messages. When a Gmail user sends a confidential email, the full email (including the body of the email and any attachments) remains in the person’s “Sent” folder until it is manually deleted.


Another concern with confidential emails is the ease in which the recipients can share the messages, despite the forward, download, and copy options being disabled in confidential emails. A recipient could simply take a screenshot or photo of the email’s message and share it with others. So, using the Confidential Mode to provide proprietary or sensitive business data is not a good idea.


Furthermore, using the Confidential Mode might violate a company’s email retention policy. Failing to adhere to this policy could potentially put the business in harm’s way if it must comply with regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) in the United States.


Finally, all businesses — even those that do not use the Confidential mode — need to watch for phishing attacks that use spoofed confidential emails. The emails sent to non-Gmail addresses (like the one in Figure 2) would be ideal for spoofing since they tell recipients to click a link to view the confidential message.



Better Alternatives


Because of all the potential problems, you might want to avoid using Gmail’s Confidential Mode. There are more secure ways to share sensitive information with people outside your company, including:


    • Encryption


    • Using an email to let someone know the information is available and having that person log in to an access-controlled share on a company’s network or server


We can help you set up a secure system that will protect your business’s data.


Is the Desktop Computer Becoming Obsolete or Is It Here to Stay?
Is the Desktop Computer Becoming Obsolete or Is It Here to Stay?

The fate of the desktop computer has been the topic of debate for several years. Knowing both sides of the argument can be beneficial when you need to purchase new computing devices for your business.

Will desktop computers be joining electric typewriters, rotary phones, floppy disks, and cassette tapes in the technology graveyard? This question has been the subject of debate for several years. If you search the Internet, you will find discussions both supporting and rebutting the idea that the desktop computer is slowly dying. Knowing both sides of the argument can be beneficial when your business needs to replace computing devices or add new ones.

Why Some People Believe the Desktop Computer’s Days Are Numbered

Some people believe it is only a matter of time before desktop computers become obsolete, replaced by smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. They often bring up the following points when stating their case:

  • Desktop computers do not provide the portability that people desire nowadays. Mobile devices give users the freedom to access emails, run apps, and access the Internet whenever and wherever they want. The same cannot be said for desktop computers.
  • Desktop solutions take up much more space than mobile devices. Although desktop computers and their monitors have gotten smaller over the years, they still require a lot more desktop real-estate than mobile devices.
  • Mobile devices are becoming more capable and powerful. Despite their small size, mobile devices are becoming increasingly capable and powerful, thanks to hardware and software improvements, enhanced graphics, and boosts in memory capacity. According to industry experts, top-of-the-line smartphones and tablets can be as powerful as mid-range desktop computers if the mobile devices have multicore processors, large amounts of RAM, and powerful graphics hardware.
  • Desktop computer sales have been steadily declining. In 2010, 157 million desktop computers were shipped worldwide, according to Statista. In 2017, only 97.8 million shipped — more than a 35% drop in sales in just 7 years.

Why Some People Believe the Desktop Computer Is Here to Stay

Some people are not convinced that the desktop computer’s days are numbered. They believe it will stick around for many years for several reasons:

  • Desktop computers are easier to customize than mobile devices. For instance, desktop computers often come with many USB and other types of ports, enabling users to easily add peripherals. Similarly, most desktop computers offer features such as memory card slots so that users can increase the machines’ memory capacity. Few mobile devices offer a plethora of ports and expandable storage.
  • Most companies still use desktop computers. According to a 2018 Spiceworks study, 68% of businesses are using desktop computers as their primary computing device. Only 1 percent are using tablets for this purpose.
  • Desktop computers typically last longer than mobile solutions. Thanks to their fairly sturdy construction and repairability, the average life expectancy of desktop computers is 4.5 years, compared to only 2.5 years for smartphones. However, the Spiceworks survey found that companies tend to use both their desktop and mobile solutions longer in real life. Seventy percent typically use their desktop computers for 5 or more years and 24% use them for 7 or more years. As for smartphones, 42% use them for two years or less and 41% use them for three to four years.
  • Mobile devices sometimes do not have what it takes to effectively run apps. All apps are not created equal. Some apps (e.g., business apps, gaming apps) need to run on a high-performance machine to work properly. Although mobile devices are getting more powerful, desktop computers have the performance edge because they are powered by electricity rather than batteries, according to experts. Plus, some apps are easier to use on desktop computers because these machines have large screens, external keyboards, and other amenities.

The Bottom Line

When you list the reasons why some people believe the desktop computer is dying next to the reasons why other people think it is here to stay, it becomes evident that there is currently no clear-cut evidence indicating that one group is right and the other wrong. And that is a good thing. It means you can concentrate on what is really important — finding the computing device that best meets the needs of your business.