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Telephone – Safety and Privacy tips from security awareness program

At my local church, our youth have done an awesome job in skits and awareness related to dangers of Internet, social engineering, and telephone scams.  This may be some of best security awareness I’ve seen.  Below are a few ideas shared based on past experience in field of security.  This coming Sunday will be part two of the special series, where our youth present more safety tips designed for all audiences and enacted with skits.    

1. An incoming identifier is a MUST on your phone for land line phones

2. Never answer any unknown calls for a telephone number you have never seen or a call from complete stranger (as you do not know who is on other end) 

3. If you see a series of out-of-state calls, it’s bad guys with automated robo-dialers looking for CELL PHONE #s … when you answer, you won’t hear anything & they may hang up.  Those #s get put on list and volume of calls will increase

4. Never give out any personal or credit card info on phone (unless you initiate call and were planning to purchase something)

5. Even telephone surveys may be dangerous for data mining & identity theft (you truly do not know who is on other end)

6. It is a good discipline to take long breaks and be less available by phone (sharing in context of folks who spend too much time there and carelessness can occur)

7. If someone calling claims to be IRS, Bank, FedEx Microsoft, etc. are demanding you do something – never comply unless you were expecting call in advance (and even then never give out sensitive information or passwords

8. Never let an outsider remotely connect to your PC while on phone, as often they implant spyware or malware

9. “Think before you click” is great axiom to keep in mind for email and websites (same principle applies while on the phone)

10. Be careful in calling back any number left on answering machine, as the long distance rates may be excessive

Additional resources include:

https://police.utexas.edu/prevention/telephone.html

http://www.connectsafely.org/cellphone-safety-tips/

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/01/13/10-ways-to-keep-your-phone-safe

Google – announces Google Cloud and G-Suite

Google has renamed and rebranded it’s cloud computing services. Instead of “Google Cloud Services” or “Google Cloud Platform”, it will simply be known as “Google Cloud”.  Related links are noted below

http://www.pcmag.com/news/348336/googles-cloud-services-get-new-names

https://cloudplatform.googleblog.com/2016/09/Google-Cloud-Platform-sets-a-course-for-new-horizons.html

https://cloud.googleblog.com/2016/09/introducing-Google-Cloud.html

For starters, Google’s cloud platform—”our user facing collaboration and productivity applications”— is now known as Google Cloud. It encompasses all the company’s cloud technologies and products: its “user-facing collaboration and productivity applications” (think, Gmail and Docs); machine learning tools and APIs; enterprise maps APIs; and all Android phones, tablets, and Chromebooks that access the cloud. Apps for Work, meanwhile, is also getting a new name: G Suite.

Microsoft Edge browser – Windows Defender Application Guard

Microsoft is virtualizing the Edge browser in Window 10 to improve safety for users as shared below:

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2016/09/26/new-windows-10-and-office-365-features-for-the-secure-productive-enterprise/

Today we announced a new addition to the extensive Windows 10 security stack with a revolutionary security improvement to Microsoft Edge. Windows Defender Application Guard uses virtualization-based security technology to protect against advanced attacks coming from the Internet, helping to protect the enterprise’s devices, employees, data and even their corporate networks. This level of protection has never been more important, as the majority of attacks start in the browser.

Unlike other browsers that use software-based sandboxes, which still provide a pathway for malware and vulnerability exploits, Microsoft Edge’s use of Application Guard isolates the browser and employee activity using a hardware-based container to prevent malicious code from impacting the device and moving across the enterprise network. This robust security service helps protect enterprises from malware, viruses, vulnerabilities, and even zero-day attacks. Once enabled, enterprise administrators can configure a trusted network site list policy and distribute the group policy to any devices it wishes to protect with Application Guard. Even if an untrusted site successfully loads malware, the malware is unable to reach beyond the isolated container to steal data or permanently compromise devices or the network. Once the employee exits their Microsoft Edge browsing session, any malware is erased, preventing further attacks.

Digital Cameras – Top 2016 Awards by PC Magazine

PC Magazine shares an in-depth review of their 2016 Readers Choice Awards for Digital Cameras and Camcorders

http://www.pcmag.com/article/348243/readers-choice-awards-2016-digital-cameras-and-camcorders

Recent product introductions like Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus with two lenses, a Hasselblad camera add-on to the Motorolo Moto Z, and a Huawei’s partnership with Leica might lead you to believe that all of the interesting developments in photography are focused on smartphone photography. You’d be wrong.

There are many good reasons to use a traditional camera or camcorder instead of your smartphone. Zoom lenses get you much closer to the action without degrading images. Larger sensors capture sharper images and more detail and provide greater light sensitivity for shooting in low-light situations. Interchangeable lenses and other accessories outfit your rig just the way you need for the situation.

In this month’s PCMag Readers’ Choice Survey, we asked you to tell us about the camera and camcorders that you currently use. As always, we wanted to know how satisfied you are with various aspects of the camera’s use: are you satisfied with the camera overall? Is the device reliable? Is it easy to set up and use? How satisfied are you with the device for taking photos? Shooting videos? Would you recommend the brand of camera or camcorder to someone else?

We found tremendous parity among the top companies this year. Their customers are generally very satisfied, although different companies excel in different areas. Still, none of these manufacturers can rest on their laurels.

Microsoft Azure Cloud Technology – Future Expansion Plans

At the Ignite conference, Microsoft shares it’s future expansion plans for Azure Cloud data center growth as noted below:

https://redmondmag.com/articles/2016/09/27/worldwide-expansion-plans-for-azure.aspx

Microsoft Azure is the second-largest global public cloud by customer revenues, according to independent analyst estimates, and Microsoft now claims an Azure presence in twice as many regions as the public cloud market-leading Amazon Web Services (AWS). “Over the last several years we’ve been hard at work expanding it to run literally all over the world,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for the Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Group, in an Ignite keynote Monday. “We now have 34 unique Azure regions around the world.”

Guthrie described Azure regions as clusters of multiple datacenters that are geographically close to customers to allow them to access data and computing power faster.  The list includes 30 generally available regions, including a pair that just opened in Germany, where Microsoft previously didn’t have a presence. “The Microsoft Cloud is also the only global cloud vendor licensed to operate legally in China, and the only to offer full data sovereignty in Germany, using our data trustee model,” Guthrie said.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/regions/

Azure is generally available in 30 regions around the world, and has announced plans for 4 additional regions. Geographic expansion is a priority for Azure because it enables our customers to achieve higher performance and it support their requirements and preferences regarding data location.

Leadership – Practical examples outside the office

John Maxwell shares a good leadership article related on need to take these essential skills outside the office into society itself:

http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/taking-your-leadership-out-of-the-office

This has all kinds of practical applications in a business or office setting. You lead out when you change the status quo. You lead out when you encourage others to follow your lead by growing and stretching themselves. You lead out when you challenge sloppy thinking, poor planning, or half-hearted effort.   In our modern culture, there is a leadership vacuum. We are desperate for leaders. The world needs men and women of character and integrity willing to step up to the plate and lead others well. I see three areas where our society is in desperate need of fully-formed leaders:

1. Families — I’ve come across a superstar business leader whose family was in shambles. I think being a leader at home is as important as being a leader at work. In fact, your home and family is probably the biggest sphere of influence you have as a leader. It’s where you will find the most teachable moments, the most opportunities for growth, and the most potential for developing other leaders who can help shape the world.

2. Community — There are hundreds of people who live within minutes of you who struggle with life. They dream of things that could make the community stronger, if only someone would listen. It begins by valuing people. Just like you invest in the people who share your office space, look for ways to value the people you run into on a day-to-day basis near your home.  Make a positive impact within your community, and others will follow your lead.

3. Government — The most obvious way of leading your government is by exercising your right to vote. Leadership is influence, and voting is one of the most influential things you can do. And as a good leader, you need to exercise that right. But you also have influence through your voice. You can email your representatives, make a phone call, and in some cases utilize social media to make your thoughts known to those who are elected to represent you. And you should.

Microsoft Windows 10 – Achieves 400 million user milestone

The latest count of Windows 10 devices was just shared at Microsoft’s Ignite conference:

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/microsoft/microsoft-says-400-million-devices-using-windows-10/

ATLANTA — Microsoft says there are 400 million devices running Windows 10, the operating system the company released in July 2015.  That’s up from 350 million in June.  The updated figure, timed to the start of Microsoft’s Ignite information technology worker conference, is the first update since the company backed off the timeline for its goal to get 1 billion devices using the new operating system.

Windows 10 was designed to give users a similar look and feel on devices from laptops to tablets and smartphones. The original usage goals for the operating system includied assumptions about smartphone sales that proved overly optimistic after Microsoft sharply curtailed the smartphone hardware business it bought from Nokia in 2014.

Microsoft Cloud technology – Field Programmable Gate Arrays

The new FGPA technology is a highly specialized computer chip that can be custom programmed for highly demanding cloud based applications as described below:

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/microsoft/microsoft-opens-a-gate-to-powerful-computing/

One of Microsoft’s major announcements this week at Ignite, the Redmond company’s annual information technology worker conference, was essentially a better supercomputer.  Burger, in a simulated demo on Monday, showed how field programmable gate arrays (FGPAs), a type of computer chip that can be reprogrammed for specific tasks after they leave the factory floor, were adding firepower to Microsoft’s network of on-demand computing power.

Using all of the power of Microsoft’s data centers worldwide, the company could translate all 5 million articles on the English language Wikipedia in less than a tenth of a second. The company during the past two years has quietly been installing FGPAs on the new servers Microsoft added to its global fleet of data centers. They’re currently helping to rank results in the Bing search engine and speed the performance of Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing network.

Microsoft is alone among major cloud-computing players in widely deploying FPGA technology, Burger said, though Chinese search giant Baidu is experimenting with FPGA-powered machine-learning applications, and IBM and Oracle have used the devices on a smaller scale.

Leadership – Techniques to check on health of the team

John Maxwell shares an informative leadership article related on how to influence team members who report to you. He uses the analogy of a health checkup:

http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/a-quick-checkup-on-leading-down

Well, today I want to touch on the concept of leading your followers, but instead of teaching you what to do, I want to help you examine what you’re already doing. I’m calling it The Leadership Checkup, and it’s for anyone who leads a team. No matter how big your team is, it’s beneficial for you as a leader to take some time and assess how well you’re leading those that follow you. That’s why I have three simple tests to help you gauge the health of your leadership and point you towards opportunities for greater health.  And don’t worry – unlike your annual physical, this won’t take long at all.

1. Check the Temperature — If you want to find out where you are as a leader, then take the temperature of your team. Ask yourself these questions:

*  Are people avoiding me in the office?
*  Is there increased conflict among the team?
*  Are people leaving or disengaging?

If you answer any question as “YES”, it’s time to get out of your world and into theirs in order to get to know the people on your team better and build relationships. T

2. Step on the Scales — From time to time, if you want to assess your weight as a leader, ask yourself the following questions about your team:

*  Do people come to me with problems and solutions?
*  Do people show initiative and engagement?
*  Do people produce at their highest level because of my confidence and encouragement?

If you can’t answer affirmatively to most of those questions, chances are your leadership is lightweight where it really matters. Seeing the best in people and believing the best of people is the surest way to get the best from people.

3. Take a Stress Test  — As a leader, you need to perform a stress test from time to time to make sure the heart of your team is healthy. This means assessing the intangibles of good leadership, those aspects that relate to mission and vision. You should ask yourself the following questions:

*  Are people operating in their strength zones?
*  Do people show that they understand and embrace the vision of the organization?
*  Are people doing work they feel matters?

When your people are working with their heart and soul, your team is able to not only do more, they will do it better. The healthier the heart of a team, the more you can push that team to go farther, faster, and higher.

BlackBerry – Ends manufacturing process for smart phones

BlackBerry has just announced it will stop making smartphones and instead outsource hardware manufacturing with its partners.

http://www.pcmag.com/news/348261/blackberry-to-stop-making-phones

BlackBerry on Wednesday said it will stop making smartphones, and will instead leave hardware-related efforts to its partners.  “The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners. This allows us to reduce capital requirements and enhance return on invested capital,” CEO John Chen said as part of the company’s second quarter earnings announcement.

“Our new Mobility Solutions strategy is showing signs of momentum, including our first major device software licensing agreement with a telecom joint venture in Indonesia,” he continued. “Under this strategy, we are focusing on software development, including security and applications.”

Once a mobile phone giant, BlackBerry has struggled to keep up after the explosion of Android and iOS. Adding insult to injury was the delayed rollout of BlackBerry 10 and disastrous launch of its PlayBook tablet.  The ailing firm tried going back to basics with the new BlackBerry Classic (pictured) and square BlackBerry Passport in 2014. Last year, the company embraced Android with the BlackBerry Priv in hopes that the popular mobile OS would attract customers, but it was no match for the likes of Samsung or Apple.