CISA – Scam and Fraud alert for 2020 hurricane season

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Fraudulent or infected email scams & fake websites are often setup after any major disaster, especially major hurricanes.  It is always important to have robust technical defenses & follow best practices in all online activities.

June 1 marks the official start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warns users to remain on alert for malicious cyber activity targeting potential disaster victims and charitable donors following a hurricane. Fraudulent emails—often containing malicious links or attachments—are common after major natural disasters. Exercise caution in handling emails with hurricane-related subject lines, attachments, or hyperlinks. In addition, be wary of social media pleas, texts, or door-to-door solicitations relating to severe weather events.

To avoid becoming victims of malicious activity, users and administrators should review the following resources and take preventative measures.

Windows 10 security – packet sniffer techniques

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Windows 10 offers a built-in packet sniffer that is valuable for security monitoring & forensics.  SANS ISC shares techniques on capture & collection of network “packets” which can also be isolated for key TCP/IP ports to help better home in on potential issues.

Microsoft released with the October 2018 Update a built-in packet sniffer for Windows 10 located in C:\Windows\system32\PktMon.exe. At ISC we like packets and this is one of the multiple ways to capture packets and send us a copy for analysis. Rob previously published another way of capturing packets in Windows here. If Windows 10 was compromised, this application would be a prime target by malicious actors and it need to be monitored, protected or removed in an enterprise.  In order to collect packets you need to launch a Windows 10 command prompt as admin before using PktMon.

Leadership – Motivating employees after layoffs

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The Harvard Business Review shares 4 key leadership techniques are shared in depth in this excellent article:

1. Remember that work and life are interconnected — Coworkers can become some of our closest friends … Losing a coworker to a layoff evokes feelings of grief, guilt, anger, uncertainty, denial, regret, and so much more.
2. Be candid — managers should help them see the reasons for the company’s downsizing decisions and explain other options … management is reshaping the company for future stability and growth while treating people with dignity
3. Communicate consistently and transparently — you may be tempted to avoid these difficult topics, but doing so can further erode trust in management and the company. Frequent, open communication is critical to reassuring employees in a crisis
4. Connect work to purpose — shift their focus back to their jobs & reorient them toward individual and group purpose. People find meaning when they see a clear connection between what they value and what they spend time doing

IT Management – New Work from Home designs and planning

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The virus pandemic created an emergency rush for “work from home” (WFH) setup & adaptation for employees. And overall most WFH migrations have been highly successful.  And as the world re-opens safely & cautiously in months ahead — new designs, controls, and leadership are needed as many will continue on WFH basis.  This excellent article from eWeek encourages IT managers to plan ahead now for these forthcoming changes:

How IT Leaders See the New Work Normal — Is this the path of other businesses in other sectors for the future? What exactly has the COVID-19 pandemic done to our business norms? What will work look like when the pandemic slowly but eventually begins to slow down?  …. Project management is expected to change in a post pandemic world. We’re currently in the midst of a huge challenge for most organizations. Even for those that are set up to have an entirely remote, distributed workforce are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of this pandemic crisis. For better or worse, this period of uncertainty and major change is likely to make a lasting impact on the way different companies interact with one another and the ways in which organizations operate.

GDPR – Privacy progress after 1st two years

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Progress in privacy protection is central theme of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.  GDPR is evaluated on it’s 2nd anniversary:

It’s been exactly two years since the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, was put into force by the European Union on May 25, 2018.   eWEEK has covered the genesis, institution and passage of this pioneering international data privacy law since long before that date became a milestone in data protection and privacy history. Take a look at our list of articles on this topic to understand why this legislation is so important to the world’s IT business and international commerce in general.  Here’s the official statement from the European Union on the significance of the GDPR on its second anniversary.

Microsoft 365 – Enterprise Licensing optimization May 2020

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As the use of Microsoft 365 expands in business world, some valuable licensing optimization guidelines are shared in article by eWeek:

How to Re-evaluate Microsoft 365 Licenses for Your Enterprise — By following these five points for proper management of M365 licenses, organizations will save money and boost ROI. This is a powerful survival combination in this time of uncertainty. As the infamous American-Austrian consultant Peter Drucker coined: what gets measured gets managed.

Data Point No. 1: Identify who’s using M365 and how it’s being used.
Data Point No. 2: Educate employees on all M365 capabilities to ensure it’s leveraged to the fullest.
Data Point No. 3: Figure out how many M365 licenses are actually in use
Data Point No. 4: Put processes in place to regulate licenses and keep them in check.
Data Point No. 5: Take advantage of users purchasing their own licenses without losing central control.

Windows 10 v2004 – Removed features from past versions

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GHacks shares informative summary of features removed in Windows 10 version 2004.

Here is the list of features that got removed and deprecated in Windows 10 version 2004.

1. Cortana integration — Cortana is not gone but the native integration of Cortana has been removed. It is replaced by a Microsoft Store application that lacks many “consumer skills” such as music or connected home of the native Cortana. The new Cortana application introduces a chat-based user interface to interact with Cortana using typed or spoken natural language queries, tighter security as it requires being signed in with a work, school or Microsoft Account, and the ability to move the Cortana window.
2. Windows To Go — Was deprecated in Windows 10 version 1903 and has now been removed completely. Windows To Go let you copy the Windows operating system to a USB drive.
3. Mobile Plans and Messaging apps — While the apps are still supported, they are no longer distributed with Windows 10. OEMs may include these applications in Windows images for cellular enabled devices.

Deprecated Features

1. Microsoft Edge (classic) — The classic version of Microsoft Edge is no longer under active development. Microsoft released the Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge earlier this year and will focus development on that version.
2. Dynamic Disks — Designed to introduce features that basic disks do not support such as the ability to create volumes that span multiple disks or the ability to create fault-tolerant volumes. Microsoft plans to replace Dynamic Disks “fully” by Storage Spaces in future releases.
3. Companion Device Framework — The framework is no longer under active development. It was designed to improve the authentication experience, e.g. by providing biometrics for Windows Hello even if the Windows 10 device does not support the required functionality (e.g. no webcam or fingerprint reader).

Microsoft MSN – Increased Artificial Intelligence use May 2020

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Microsoft won’t renew the contracts for dozens of news production contractors working at MSN and plans to use artificial intelligence to replace them, several people close to the situation confirmed on Friday. AI will replace the production work they’d been doing. That work includes using algorithms to identify trending news stories from dozens of publishing partners and to help optimize the content by rewriting headlines or adding better accompanying photographs or slide shows. “It’s been semi-automated for a few months but now it’s full speed ahead,’’ one of the terminated contractors said. “It’s demoralizing to think machines can replace us but there you go.’’

Apple – 13-inch MacBook Pro review May 2020

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Business Insider reviews Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro. It is designed for Mac users, who don’t want a huge laptop

Apple’s newest MacBook Pro is a smart option for Mac loyalists looking to replace their aging laptop with a machine that’s powerful and lightweight. But, as is typically the case with Apple products, it’s not the best deal compared to the competition.

1. Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro now comes with the company’s revamped Magic Keyboard, addressing its biggest drawback.
2. It replaces Apple’s trademark Butterfly keyboard, which feels flatter and stiffer in comparison and has been prone to malfunctions.
3. Overall, the MacBook Pro is a solid choice for Mac fans that are looking to get some serious work done, but don’t want a laptop that’s as large as the 16-inch Pro.
4. However, you’ll have to spend extra money to get the newest processors from Intel, which come standard on most competing Windows machines.

Pros:   Excellent keyboard, fast performance, quality audio
Cons:  Older processors in the base model

Smartphone Security – Blocking unwanted calls May 2020

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Detailed techniques on “how to block” annoying calls and texts for Apple iPhone or Android smartphone systems are shared by PC Magazine:

There are all sorts of reasons to block a number: an ex who won’t stop calling, telemarketers who can’t take a hint, scammers, or an aunt who wants to see why you’re still not married. When your phone has buzzed one more time than you can take, you know it’s time to block that number. But how? Here are the steps to take by popular operating systems and carriers.  The first way to reduce the number of unwanted calls coming to your phone is to put yourself into the National Do Not Call Registry. On, you can register your phone number

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