Skype for Business Gets Better on Your iPhone

If you are a Skype for Business user – listen up – it just got better on your iPhone.

Skype for Business Offers Deeper Integration with iOS 10

Thanks to new integration capabilities in iOS 10, Skype for Business calls can work the same way as the native calling experience on Apple’s devices. This, Microsoft says, means you can now seamlessly extend your personal device as a business phone.

So, what does this mean to users?

Lock screen support. You can now accept an incoming Skype for Business call directly from the lock screen. So you no longer need to sign-in and launch the app to receive calls. Skype for Business calls will appear and behave just as regular cellular calls do—including being able to see the caller’s name on the lock screen, Microsoft notes.

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Integrate Skype for Business into your device’s call interface. Now, you can access Skype for Business from the calling interface with just one touch: There’s a new Skype for Business button right in the iOS screen for calls.

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Switch between cellular calls, Skype for Business calls, and other VoIP calls. You can now switch between calls across Skype for Business, your personal cellular line and other VoIP applications that support this new iOS 10 functionality. “If you are in an important Skype for Business conversation and receive an incoming cellular call, you can send the second call to voicemail or put the Skype for Business call on hold to accept the incoming cellular call,” Microsoft notes. “You’ll also see Skype for Business calls in your phone’s call history.”

Handle incoming cellular calls while using Skype for Business. While you’re using Skype for Business, you can now send incoming cellular calls to voicemail or put the Skype for Business call on hold to accept the incoming cellular call.

IT control. The new Skype for Business features are enabled by default on IOS 10. But IT admins who prefer to disable this functionality can do so to a granular level. For example, you may not wish for Skype for Business calls to appear in the native iOS call log.

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Skype for Business is available for iPhone and iPad from the Apple App Store.

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Staying Safe Online This Holiday Season

Its officially the holiday season and that means many of us will be shopping online and looking for deals. As always caution should be exercised when shopping online. During the holidays – with all the hustle bustle we can be prone to making mistakes and with that our security is at risk of being exposed.

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Here are some tips for staying safe online this holiday season.

Shop from a secure computer

A computer that isn’t protected by a full-fledged security software suite is more likely to be compromised by malware. Otherwise, all data entered into or transmitted from that computer is at risk, including all forms of personally identifiable information, credit-card numbers and bank accounts.

Shop using a secure connection

Data can be at risk during transit if an attacker controls the network or uses packet-sniffing software. Protocols such as HTTPS, or secure Web browsing, encrypt communications, but in some advanced attacks even those could fall to a “man-in-the-middle” attack. Nonetheless, always look for the HTTPS lock symbol in your browser address window when performing an online purchase.

Use trusted vendors.

Any website can be attacked by hackers, but limiting your shopping to established and trusted vendors limits your exposure. Bookmark the most trusted online retail sites to make sure you don’t get redirected to fakes.

Don’t fall for ‘too-good-to-be-true’ deals.

Cyber Monday features a lot of incredible, legitimate deals offered by trusted mainstream retailers. But cybercriminals will prey on shoppers’ desire for the lowest prices and will try to slip in a lot of fake deals. Watch out especially for email and text messages promising fantastic savings — clicking on links in the messages could lead to scams, phishing sites or sites distributing malware.

Plan ahead and don’t be rushed.

Cyberattacks take but a split second to occur. Sometimes all that’s required is clicking on a link in an email. Look for clues to malicious links, such as an extra “.cc” at the end of what would otherwise be a trusted domain name. Take the time to make sure you’re on the correct website.

Review credit-card and bank statements regularly during the shopping season.

Malware can infect credit-card readers in stores, and unscrupulous cashiers often steal card numbers as well. If you find a transaction that doesn’t match your purchases, your account may have been compromised. If so, contact your bank or card issuer.

Use unique passwords and logon information for every site you visit.

Yes, it’s a pain to remember all those passwords. But if one of them is stolen, a cybercrook will try using it on other websites. Passwords should be as long as possible and contain a mix of upper- and lower-case characters, numbers, punctuation and symbols — and they shouldn’t be reused, especially for any website that handles your money. If you have trouble handling them all, use a password manager such as LastPass (my favorite).

If you’re shopping from a tablet or smartphone on Cyber Monday, use a trusted vendor’s app, not a web browser.

Vendors have more control over their own apps than they do over mobile browsers, which often don’t display the web addresses of the sites to which you’re giving your credit-card information.

Never install software on your mobile device from a website link or code.

Software from locations other than the device’s official “store,” such as Apple’s iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store, has a greater chance of being malicious.

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OneDrive for Business Gets a Helper

onedriveIf you are a OneDrive for Business user you surely know that it can be troublesome sometimes. Syncing occasionally gets snagged and it can be difficult to troubleshoot what is going on. Finally it looks like Microsoft is taking this issue seriously.

It appears that last week Microsoft added a new and largely unheralded capability to the Office 365 checker tool.

A change to Microsoft’s main troubleshooting article for OneDrive for Business, KB 3125202, added a reference to an option in the Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 tool that can be used to scan for files that are too big, file and folder names that have invalid characters, for path names that exceed the length limit, and several other headache-inducing problems. This appears to be a new capability for the Office 365 checker tool.

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Screenshot of Microsoft’s new Support Tool

Here’s what the new information says:

Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 

 

 

The Microsoft Support and Recovery Assistant for Office 365 is a tool that can diagnose and fix many common Office 365 problems. The OneDrive for Business option “I’m having a problem with OneDrive for Business” now scans for the following issues:

  • Checks the option to manually or automatically update the NGSC+B to its latest version.
  • Reports all files that have sizes exceeding the limit.
  • Reports all files that have invalid characters in the names.
  • Reports all folders that have invalid characters or strings in the names.
  • Reports all paths exceeding the limit and provides a link to this KB article.

The tool is available from http://diagnostics.outlook.com. When you run this tool, the initial page will display several options, including the new option for OneDrive for Business: “I’m having a problem with OneDrive for Business.”

This looks like an excellent tool for anyone troubleshooting OneDrive for Business problems. I dowloanded it this morning and although I was not experiencing any OneDrive issues at the time it looks to be a promising tool when working with OneDrive issues.

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Facebook To Launch Wi-Fi Finder

Facebook really – really wants you visiting their service and a new feature about to launch may actually be pretty awesome. It is called Wi-Fi finder.

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The Wi-Fi finder feature has reportedly started showing up in the Facebook app via the menu for some users. It is located along with other location based options like “Nearby Places” and “Device Requests.” An option labeled “Enable Wi-Fi” is included in the menu for users who can access the feature. Toggling the setting on will allow the app to search nearby locations for Wi-Fi.

For those with access to the Wi-Fi finder, a splash page is presented to them that encourages them to enable the feature so Facebook can “build a history of precise locations received through your device.” It also notes tracked information can be deleted through a user’s activity log.

Once enabled, the feature generates a map of nearby locations where Wi-Fi is available, and provides details about and directions to those hot spots. It could be a handy tool for anyone looking for a place to stop to recharge and save some data along the way.

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Screenshot of a lucky Facebook user with the “Wi-fi Finder” available.

As of this post the feature appears to be available only to a limited group of users but it should be rolling out to everyone soon. I do not have this available to me yet.

Keep an eye out for this if you are a Facebook user on your mobile device.

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Facebook Messenger Conduit for New Malware

Earlier this week hackers temporarily found a way to bypass Facebook filtering systems to deliver malicious Chrome extensions to users. These then opened up the way for even worse malware downloaders that are capable of delivering a range of Trojans and other programs to your desktop. The .svg files sent to users got around Facebook’s file extension filter. This is because .svg are a relatively new file format and as a result hackers have room to experiment with it against existing filtering systems.

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The image leads to a fake YouTube item, which demands you add a codec to view the video on Chrome. Once this is done permission is given to read and change all your data on the websites you visit. This also can download other malware to your machine.

Anyone who encounters the suspicious .svg files should disable JavaScript in their browser, block Wscript, or set any files with the extensions .svg, .js, and .jse to open only in Notepad — the latter technique defeats the code’s ability to execute itself in your browser when you click on the image.

Protecting Yourself with Good Habits

As always, you should avoid clicking on unsolicited messages in either Facebook Messenger, your email client, or in your SMS as was the case a few days ago with a fake Apple ID phishing attacks through text messages.

Stolen Credentials and Worse

At a minimum, this .svg trick stole users’ credentials on the social media platform to propagate itself through their contact lists. At worst, it is installing malware downloaders, with these then potentially acting as vectors for advanced ransomware like Locky that infects and locks people out of their computers.

Ransomware

Ransomware does exactly what its name says. When a user downloads the malicious program, it locks them out of their files and system by encrypting the content, and then notifying users that the only way to recover their desktop is by paying the hackers for a solution.

This would appear to be the case with the .svg files coming through Facebook, which is now filtering the content and conducting its own investigation.

 

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Facebook Hopes to Address Fake News Problem

This past presidential election highlighted the very real problem of “fake news” polluting social media sites like Facebook. Although the election highlighted the “fake news” problem it appears many peoples actually receive their news through their social media news feed. The problem here is that social media sites are not designed for this purpose and legitimate news sources are often difficult to separate through algorithms from news sources that are less then truthful and often misleading.

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Facebook had originally denied this as a problem but this may have changed.

Facebook is now considering flagging to its users when a piece of content posted to Facebook has been reported as false by Facebook users or entities outside of Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post published Friday night.

To flag these fake posts, Facebook may label them as false when they appear in people’s feeds and/or alert people that a post has been flagged as false when they click to check out or share the post, according to Zuckerberg.

The hypothetical-for-now false-flagging system’s disclosure follows intensifying criticism of Facebook’s role in fueling falsehoods during this year’s presidential election. While Zuckerberg has tried to downplay Facebook’s role in influencing the election and the volume of fake news stories on Facebook, the fact is that the social network can serve as the ultimate rumor mill. According to a BuzzFeed analysis published last week, the most popular fake news stories often outperformed the most popular legitimate news stories, in terms of receiving shares, comments and likes on Facebook.

In addition to making people aware when they’re viewing a fake story, Facebook is working to improve its own ability to identify fake stories in order to reduce its distribution of those stories in people’s news feeds and in the “related articles” selections it displays beneath links.

Facebook is also exploring how to make it easier for people to report a Facebook post as false to Facebook. Right now, to report a post on Facebook as false, you need to 1) click the arrow in the post’s top-right corner, 2) click “Report post,” 3) click “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook” and 4) click “It’s a false news story.” It is unclear how much this process actually helps which is why Facebook’s post at the end of last week was so hopeful.

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Facebook Improves Safety Check Service

Facebook’s Safety Check is a new powerful tool to help users find out if their loved ones are okay in case they’re in an area struck by a natural disaster or crisis. It’s great, except for the fact that people have to wait for Facebook to manually turn it on.

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Good news. That’s about to change: The social network will now allow its community to trigger the feature. Facebook recently explained:

When a lot of people post about an incident from the affected area, they may be asked if they’re safe. Once marked safe, a person can then invite friends to do the same.

The change comes more than two years after Facebook first launched Safety Check in 2014. It’s been triggered in the aftermath of events like the Philippines’ Typhoon Ruby in December 2014. The company began testing community-triggered checks this past June.

Facebook is also introducing a complementary new feature called Community Help, which its describes as “a place where people can give and get help for things like shelter, food and supplies.”

Facebook has previously been criticized for its selective response when it came to activating Safety Checks: In March, it failed to turn on the feature after an attack in Cote d’Ivoire after gunmen killed 16 people in a resort town near the capital of Abidjan.

Today’s announcements point to a step in the right direction. It is with exciting initiatives that social media services will continue to grow and become further integrated in our lives.

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Private Browsing with Firefox on Your iPhone

If you’re concerned about keeping your online privacy and don’t want sites to follow you around the Web, you’ll want to give Mozilla’s new iOS app a go.

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Firefox Focus is a no-frills browser that blocks trackers to keep you from seeing unwanted ads. It also lets you erase your history, passwords and cookies easily.

The company says that blocking trackers might also improve performance on certain tracker-filled sites. It’s worth noting that some sites that rely on tracking to work may not function properly, but Focus can fix that by opening them in either Firefox or Safari.

Should you use it? Well, you’re certainly entitled to your privacy online, and this browser makes it easier to block tracking than other options – including Mozilla’s content blocker for Safari (which is called, um, Focus by Firefox).

Try Firefox Focus by grabbing it from the App Store.

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iOS 10.2 Beta Arrives

Public iOS beta testers have received iOS 10.2. I upgraded my iPhone 7 to iOS 10.2 this weekend and found that this continues to improve the iPhone’s newest operating system.

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iOS 10.2 beta includes several upcoming features like a preview of the new TV app, Unicode 9.0 emoji, iPhone 7 wallpapers, and new camera features.

iOS 10.2 will be released to everyone next month.

These are the changes discovered in iOS 10.2 beta so far:

  • Three new wallpapers in iOS 10.2 beta (only for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus)
  • New widget for Videos app
  • New Preserve Camera setting
  • New emoji (looks like Unicode 9.0 update/also on macOS 10.12.2, watchOS   3.1.1)
  • New ‘Press and Hold to Speak’ menu under Home Button Accessibility settings
  • New ‘Celebration’ Messages screen effect
  • New ‘Show Star Ratings’ option under Music Settings
  • New headphone icon in status bar for Bluetooth audio devices (previously seen with the Beats Solo3)
  • TV app now included on iOS 10.2 beta, Videos app still present
  • TV widget joins Videos widget
  • SOS feature similar to Apple Watch when clicking power button 5x (which may be a requirement in India next year)
  • Music now points to relocated shuffle and repeat controls (which have a button look now)

If you have upgraded to iOS 10 I highly recommend installing this when it is made available early next month to everyone.

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Did Facebook Sway the Election?

We live in a new world. A world in which we are all connected. Social media is a major player in how we communicate with each other. A more disturbing trend here however is that many seem to be relying on social media as their news source. If this is so, this may have actually played a role in our presidential election.

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Facebook is under fire for its role in disseminating fake news stories, particularly pro-Trump stories, in the days and weeks leading up the election. A lot of people get news from Facebook – two-thirds of U.S. adults, in fact – and some have questioned Facebook’s role in helping spread that false information ahead of what was one of the most polarizing elections of all time.

Facebook has long argued that it’s not a media company – it’s just a tech company that helps distribute media. That’s not actually true, though, and the bigger problem here is that Facebook doesn’t seem to appreciate its role as a platform that delivers news to 1.8 billion people around the world.

It’s not whether or not fake news ultimately impacted this election, but whether or not Facebook has a greater responsibility to make sure the news it carries and spreads is accurate.

A technology blog is no place for political commentary so we won’t start now. However one fact is certain. Relying on social media as a news source is a very dangerous thing.

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