• How to Become a Microsoft Office Insider

    How to Become a Microsoft Office Insider

    One of the great perks of being an Office 365 subscriber is the constant flow of updates and new features that become available. However, there is an even deeper level of exclusivity with new Office updates in the touted Office Insider program. Office Insiders are early access to beta versions of new features and can provide valuable feedback to Microsoft to make adjustments before the actual launch of the update.   

    Office Insider is available for all major platforms, including Windows, Mac, Windows Mobile, Android, and iOS. Windows and Windows mobile users are given two options for how they would like to engage with their updates:

    • Office Insider Slow: This version provides Office Insiders with early access to fully supported builds, but will only tolerate minimal risk while also providing feedback to Microsoft for an improved Office experience
    • Office Insider Fast: This version is best for Office Insiders who wish to use the earliest preview builds that do not yet have support; these rough builds are released more frequently so Insiders can provide feedback to Microsoft to iron out the initial bugs and identify more issues

    Become An Office Insider

    So how do Office 365 users become Office Insiders? Simply visit the Office Insider page and select your preferred platform (Windows Desk, Mac, Windows 10 Mobile, Android, or iOS), and then select ‘How can I opt in?’ under the Frequently asked questions section. The link will take you to the signup screen where you can opt to receive early updates and provide your feedback to Microsoft team.

    Once selected, each respective platform tab will give you detailed instructions on how to become a member of the Office Insiders where you will have a chance to play around with the new features or apps. NOTE: Be aware that Office Insider Fast is being released slowly, so those who take that option for Windows products may have to wait to get it.

    For any questions on signing up for Office Insider, contact us today!

  • Tips for Avoiding Microsoft Tech Support Scams

    Tips for Avoiding Microsoft Tech Support Scams

    With the latest waves of cyber attacks taking place across the world, it is important to note that Microsoft tech support scams are much more common and can rob you of your identity, money, and personal information if you don’t know what to look for. Unlike the recent WannaCry and Petya ransomware attacks happening worldwide, these tech support scams are less obvious that they are scams for people unfamiliar with how real tech support works for Microsoft and other companies.

    These tech support scams can come by phone, email, or screen pop-ups that can lock up your computer. It should be noted that Microsoft does not contact people out of the blue about technical issues, nor are they constantly monitoring computers constantly for problems. You must first contact their legitimate tech support number to begin a dialogue with a real Microsoft support rep. However, scammers tend to target older people because they are perceived to be less knowledgeable about technology and computers in general and thereby are more likely to fall for the deception.

    While the delivery methods can vary, each inevitably asks for the same things: access to your computer or your personal information that you provide to them voluntarily. Here is the setup of each method:

    Tech Support Scam by Phone

    This form of the tech support scams is the most common as it allows the scammers to use direct verbal scare tactics on the intended victim by using multiple steps and your computer system against you in the hopes that you get confused do not understand what is happening. The scammers will call you directly by phone claiming to be a representative of Microsoft that has detected malicious software on your computer, and that they will lead you through the process of removing it.

    Over the phone, the scammer will ask you to go through different settings, and task managing windows make it appear as if anything you find is very hazardous. They will then ask you to either download their fake antivirus software or give them remote access to your computer to try and obtain your personal and financial information. Alternatively, they may also direct you to a false landing page in which they will ask you to fill in your credit or debit card information to be “paid for their services.”

    Tech Support Scam by Email

    Email scams start by sending you a seemingly credible yet deceitful email to your inbox claiming to be from Microsoft. The subject line may have an alarming message within it, saying things like the following:

    • Warning! Your system is infected! Contact us immediately!
    • Microsoft Team: Your computer may be at risk!
    • [###] threats found on your computer! Contact us to fix ASAP!

    The point of these subject lines is to create a false sense of urgency and panic among people who are unfamiliar with how cyber threats are detected and dealt with. In reality, there is no threat to your machine, but the tech support scammers want you to think there is to draw you in.

    If you open the email, one of two things may happen: you’ll either be directed straight to a false landing page or just be given email text claiming to the Microsoft support team (even using Microsoft imagery branding). The message will inform you that your computer is infected by malicious software and that you do one or all of the following:

    • Contact them immediately to get the issue resolved via a fake support number to call
    • Download 3rd-party “antivirus software” to remove the non-existent threats to your computer, but in reality is a program designed to make it appear as if they are removing harmful malware while installing viruses in secret; if you download a 3rd-party program, it will give the tech support scammers access to your machine to search for personal and financial information
    • Download a screen sharing program in which the scammers can take control of your computer and access your files; they can also delete your files if they want to further harm you (the importance of backing up your files cannot be understated)  

    Tech Support Scam by Screen Pop-Up

    Similar to the email scam, a screen pop up can ask you do do all of the same actions, i.e. contact the scammer by phone or download software from a malicious web page. The difference in approach for pop-ups is that they may do one or all of these things:

    • The pop-up window will still allow you to use most of your computer systems but will keep popping back up if your exit out of the window until you perform the action described in the window (contact the scammers or click on their link)
    • The pop-up window will lock your computer and claim that your computer has been “infected” and needs these tech support scammers to fix it for you

    In all these scenarios, the tech support scams will inevitably ask you to either pay them for their “services” or ask for direct access to your computer. Microsoft maintains this stance on its outreach for technical support:

    “Remember, Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you.”

    Red Flags to Look For

    Whether you are a computer whiz or a novice, there are some definite signs that you are being targeted by tech support scammers:

    • They are contacting you first without any prior action by you to Microsoft
    • They are asking you to enter your financial information into a separate landing page
    • They are telling you that you must purchase software from them or pay them for their services
    • They are asking for direct access to your computer
    • They are trying to direct you to an unverified website

    If you are contacted by anyone claiming to be from Microsoft that wants to “help you remove malicious software,” hang up. If you do not hang up at first, DO NOT do any of the following:

    • Give them access to your computer
    • Purchase anything from them from any source
    • Provide any personal or financial information

    If you are ever the victim of one of these tech support scams, contact Microsoft to pass on the data to local authorities so they can strengthen their ability to fight the mass fraud prevalent in many countries around the world. Contact Tech.CC for more tips on avoiding tech support scams.

  • Data Protection Tips to Stay Safe In the Cloud

    Data Protection Tips to Stay Safe In the Cloud

    Data protection can be more difficult if WE are the biggest danger to our own data.

    Data protection is on the minds of many business owners and IT personnel lately with the recent ransomware and cyber attacks happening all over the place. Many companies are switching over to cloud services to store their data on much more secure servers than their own on-premises machines can provide. Users of Office 365 use Microsoft’s own hardened servers to protect their sensitive data, allowing admins to focus on managing applications rather than the day-to-day tasks. While cloud storage on OneDrive is very secure from external threats, sometimes the worst threat to your data can be carelessness from your own organization.

    While there is always a chance for hackers to get into your account, that typically is a result of poor security on a physical terminal where the access to the cloud account is available. The real culprit for a majority of data loss in the cloud stems from users accidentally deleting or overwriting files in addition to files being overwritten by another application. The problem is that while software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud providers backup data on their servers, they don’t typically safeguard against accidental data loss. Accidental deletions are unpredictable and typically aren’t malicious in nature, so it is hard to safeguard against user error who has authorized access in the first place.

    Protecting Your Data

    However, you do not have to systematically walk on eggshells when dealing with sensitive data within your own account. There are many steps you can take today to lessen the chances of losing data due to mistakes by your users. Microsoft has their own set of data loss prevention policies, but here are some great ways to keep your data intact when using Office 365 OneDrive storage:

    • Use a 3rd-Party Backup – Backup your data locally or onto another cloud storage separate from OneDrive. Having additional copies of your data in case the original gets lost or corrupted can only help you should you not be able to recover your data.
    • Avoid Storing Sensitive Information – Avoid storing very sensitive data like credit card information or passwords on the cloud. If proper precautions aren’t taken, it can lead to potential data leakage.
    • Use Cloud Providers That Offer Encryption – Encryption provides double security since your files will have to be decrypted to gain access. It protects your data from service providers or other snooping entities that do not have authorization.
    • Use Security Software – If your computer isn’t sufficiently protected, hackers can easily gain access to your cloud account remotely. Make sure that your machine is shielded from spyware, ransomware, and other malicious attempts at getting access to your device.
    • Create a Stronger Password – Using passwords that are too easy to guess by outside attackers or other users can have bad consequences. Avoid making passwords that relate to you personally or relate to something others associate with you. For example, if you have a spouse or child, do not use their names as your password. Create passwords that are more randomized to minimize your risk.

    Contact Tech.CC today to learn more about data protection from accidental deletion or overwriting.