Home Security: Why You Should Put IoT Devices on a Guest Wi-Fi Network

Home Security: Why You Should Put IoT Devices on a Guest Wi-Fi Network

The number of internet-connected devices in homes has been growing. It’s increased exponentially over the last decade. A typical home now has 10.37 devices connected to the internet. PCs and mobile devices make up a little over half of those and the rest are IoT devices.

IoT stands for Internet of Things. It means any other type of “smart device” that connects online. IoT devices in a home can be everything from your streaming stick to your smart refrigerator. Smart baby monitors and Alexa voice assistants are also IoT.

There’s also been another change that has happened over the last couple of years. It has been the increase in remote and hybrid work. The pandemic caused a major shift in where we work, turning the standard office paradigm on its head.

Now, working remotely has become the norm for many companies around the world. This has put increased scrutiny on the security of all those IoT devices. They are now sharing a Wi-Fi network with business data and devices.

Here are two alarming statistics that illustrate the issue with IoT security:

  • During the first six months of 2021, the number of IoT cyberattacks was up by 135% over the prior year.
  • It’s estimated that over 25% of cyberattacks against businesses involve IoT devices

Hackers Use IoT Devices to Get to Computers & Smartphones

Smart devices are a risk to any other device on a network. They are typically easier to breach. So, hackers will use them as a gateway into more sensitive devices.

A criminal may not care about the shopping list stored in your smart refrigerator. But they’ll breach that IoT device to see what other devices are on the same network.

The hacker can then use sharing and permissions that are often present on home networks. Through these, they gain access to your work computer or mobile device. These devices hold important data, and access to personal details.

Why are IoT devices less secure than computers and smartphones? Here are a few reasons:

  • They usually won’t have antivirus or anti-malware capabilities
  • Users often don’t update IoT devices regularly
  • They have basic interfaces which can hide a breach of the device
  • People often don’t change the default device username and password.
  • Sharing settings on IoT devices make them easier to hack

Improve Security by Putting IoT on a Separate Wi-Fi Network

Just about all modern routers will have the ability to set up a second Wi-Fi network, called a “guest network.” This shows up when you connect to Wi-Fi as a separate Wi-Fi that a device can use to get online.

By putting all your IoT devices on a separate network you improve security. You cut that bridge that hackers use to go from an IoT device to another device on the same network. Such as those that hold sensitive information (computers and mobile devices).

In fact, when you separate those two (IoT devices and sensitive-info devices) a hacker can’t see all. If they breach one of your smart devices, they can’t tell you have a PC or smartphone. This is because they’re on the other network.

This is an important layer of security to use. Whether you’re a remote worker or use your computer for home budgeting and banking, it can help. All PCs and smartphones usually contain access to online banking or personal information.

Here are the steps to take to separate your IoT devices. (Note, you can also have this done by us, we’ll be happy to handle all these steps for you.)

  • Step 1: Log into your router settings.
  • Step 2: Look for an area that allows you to set up a guest network. This will be different for each router, so you may need to access a help guide online.
  • Step 3: Set up the guest network according to the router prompts. Make sure to use a strong password.
  • Step 4: Edit the password for your existing network. This keeps IoT devices from automatically reconnecting to it.
  • Step 5: Connect all IoT devices in your home to the new guest network.
  • Step 6: Reconnect your sensitive devices (computers, smartphones) to the preexisting network. Use the new password.

As you add any new devices to your home network, make sure to connect them to the appropriate network. This keeps the layer of security effective.

One more tip: When naming your Wi-Fi networks, don’t use descriptive names. This includes things like “IoT network” or your name, address, or router model name.

It’s best to use names that won’t give the hackers valuable information they can use in attacks.

Need Help Upgrading Your Home Cybersecurity?

With so many remote workers, hackers have begun targeting home networks. They know they can contain sensitive business as well as personal data. Don’t leave yourself open to a breach. Contact us at Tomorrows Today in Nottingham to schedule a home internet security review today!

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

5 Exciting Ways Microsoft 365 Can Enable the Hybrid Office

5 Exciting Ways Microsoft 365 Can Enable the Hybrid Office

“Hybrid office” is the new buzzword you’ll hear used in business discussions. It’s the mix of having employees both working at the office and working from home. This has become more than a buzzword and is now the reality for many companies.

There was a survey of employees with remote-capable jobs. The survey found that as of February of 2022, 42% of them were working a hybrid schedule. And 39% were working from home full time.

The global pandemic brought on this hybrid office transition. It forced companies to operate with teams that could no longer safely come to the office. During this time, employers and employees experienced the benefits of hybrid work firsthand.

 

These benefits of remote teams included cost savings for both workers and employers. It also allowed the company to operate with more flexibility. Improved worker morale was another advantage.

One fact surprised many employers that feared remote work would tank productivity.  It actually increased in many circumstances.

63% of high-growth companies use a “productivity anywhere” hybrid work approach.

In order for hybrid teams to be productive they need to stay connected.  No matter where they work, the right technology tools should enable them.

One of the leaders in this space has been Microsoft. The company plans to add several exciting updates this year. These will provide more tools for companies to enable their hybrid teams.

Here are some of the ways you can use Microsoft 365 to optimize a productive hybrid office. Note, that some of these features are already out, and others should release later this year.

1. Microsoft Teams & Expanded Features

Microsoft Teams is much more than a team messaging app. The application combines the best features of virtual video meetings and messaging channels. It brings them together into a platform designed to be a secure online work hub.

MS Teams has come a long way in the last five years. And the company continues to add more features to enable hybrid offices. Some of the recent feature updates include:

  • The ability to do webinar registration
  • Presenter modes that provide a more professional virtual presence
  • Increased security through features like smart links and smart attachments
  • A full business VoIP phone system add-on
  • The addition of a “metaverse” component called Mesh for Teams

2. New Meeting Options for RSVP in Outlook

One of the challenges, when everyone isn’t working in the same place, is how to know when to “clock in” and “clock out.” As well as how to let colleagues know whether you are working at home next week or the office.

To help hybrid teams better coordinate, Outlook is getting an update. It will allow users to RSVP to meetings. This can let team members know whether they are attending virtually or in person.

3. Better Framing for More Engaging Meetings

One thing that can distract from the purpose of a meeting is someone’s background at home. Positioning of the camera can also be problematic. One person might have their face taking up 80% of the video screen. Another may only take up 20% because they’re sitting farther away from their PC’s camera.

A new Surface Hub 2S Smart Camera will allow for better face framing. This will affect when people are meeting virtually in Microsoft Teams. Features include adjusting the room view so people’s faces will be clearer. As well as having more consistent sizing.

The video display will also automatically adjust as people join or leave a physical room.

3. Get Better Control of Your Video Using PowerPoint to Present

People often share a screen in a video call and present a PowerPoint presentation. It can be difficult to keep everyone as engaged as when you’re presenting in person.

For example, in person, you can maintain eye contact. People can clearly see your facial expressions as you emphasize various things. That’s not always the case when presenting virtually. The app may push your video feed into a tiny box.

There’s a new upcoming feature for Teams called Cameo. It will allow you to seamlessly integrate PowerPoint with MS teams. You can decide exactly how you want your video feed to appear in relation to your presentation.

Another addition is Recording Studio. This new feature for PowerPoint allows you to record professional-looking on-demand videos. You can do it right inside the app.

5. Get Help With Your Presentation Skills

Microsoft has poured a lot of AI capabilities into Microsoft 365 over the last several years. One that will soon help you deliver better virtual presentations is Speaker Coach.

This is a private and personalized coach. It can help you hone your presentation skills. This improves your switch to the differences between presenting online versus in person.

Some of the feedback it can provide include:

  • Use of repetitive language
  • Use of filler words (Ummm)
  • Speaking pace
  • Pausing for input
  • Intonation
  • Speaker overlaps
  • And more

 

Ask Us About Improving Your Hybrid Office Capabilities with Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 has a ton of helpful features. But it does help to have an expert guide to help you navigate these capabilities. Contact Tomorrows Today to help set up a chat about how Microsoft 365 can help your business grow.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

 

Are Two Monitors Really More Productive Than One?

Are Two Monitors Really More Productive Than One?

Most of us have experienced clicking around to find the window we actually need in a layer of different applications. This is one of the things that eats up time during the day and that using dual screens can help eliminate.

According to a study by software developer Mavenlink, 73% of surveyed businesses say they spend over an hour per day on average just switching between different apps.

PRODUCTIVITY RESEARCH ON DUAL-SCREENS

So just how much can using a second monitor improve productivity? Probably more than you realize.

Jon Peddie Research looked at the benefit of using two screens connected to a desktop computer or laptop for several years. It found that overall, employees in all types of jobs can improve productivity by an average of 42%.

From three studies conducted over 15 years, it also found that between 2002 and 2017, there’s been a significant rise in the use of two monitors, with a compound annual growth rate of 10%.

The company’s namesake put it simply saying, “The more you can see, the more you can do.”

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF ADDING A 2nd SCREEN?

DO MORE IN LESS TIME

The biggest advantage to using a second monitor is that you can do more in less time because you’re not struggling to get to the windows you need when you need them.

With an additional monitor, you can keep programs like email always open on one screen while you work in other programs on the second screen. You’re able to work more fluidly, getting to all your apps when you need them.

EXPANDS SCREEN SPACE FOR LAPTOPS

Laptops are great for portability, especially when traveling or moving between home and work (as many employees do these days). But the more portable the laptop, the smaller the screen space.

One big drawback of using a laptop is that they will have a smaller monitor. There is also the difficulty in positioning. When using them on a desk, people will often try to prop them up, but the person is still staring down at the screen in most cases.

Connecting your laptop to a monitor can significantly improve the experience and make it like working on a normal desktop PC. You can either choose to mirror your entire screen or still make use of the laptop screen for some activities while using the larger screen for others.

SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISONS ARE EASIER

There are a lot of tasks that require looking at data in two windows. You may be editing and comparing a finished design with the original instructions. Or you may have to pull details from notes to include in a PowerPoint presentation.

Trying to get two windows up on a single screen side-by-side can be frustrating. You may try to resize the windows just so, only to have your configuration lost when you have to maximize a screen to click a menu item or scroll.

With two monitors, you have the screen real estate you need to fully open both windows and have them right next to each other so you can easily do your work.

MORE FREEDOM DURING VIDEO CALLS

Have you ever been screen sharing on a video call and needed to check an email or review notes? It’s difficult to do that when everyone can see your screen. We often “sanitize” our screens (like turning off alerts, etc.) before we go into a meeting to ensure nothing that should not appear is popping up.

With dual screens, you can choose which screen you want to share during meetings, and still have apps open on the other screen that no one can see. This is a big advantage if you need to check for an email or message someone while you’re sharing your screen.

FAIRLY INEXPENSIVE PRODUCTIVITY BOOSTER

Purchasing another display is a fairly low investment when looking at technology. A monitor can be purchased from anywhere between $125 to $250 on average. And with a 42% average productivity boost, it can have a pretty sweet ROI.

There is also no big learning curve with this upgrade. Once the monitor is plugged in and the PC is set to see the additional screen, it’s good to go. Users can simply drag apps and documents from one screen to another as if they had one large screen.

NEED HELP IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY?

Are you a SME based in Nottingham? Talk to us at Tomrrows Today to find out the different options you have for purchasing and setting up a monitor.

There are several productivity boosts that you can get using the right technology tools, and they don’t have to cost a fortune. Ask us how we can help you!

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Which Form of MFA Is the Most Secure? Which Is the Most Convenient?

Which Form of MFA Is the Most Secure? Which Is the Most Convenient?

Credential theft is now at an all-time high and is responsible for more data breaches than any other type of attack.

With data and business processes now largely cloud-based, a user’s password is the quickest and easiest way to conduct many different types of dangerous activities.

Being logged in as a user (especially if they have admin privileges) can allow a criminal to send out phishing emails from your company account to your staff and customers. The hacker can also infect your cloud data with ransomware and demand thousands of dollars to give it back.

How do you protect your online accounts, data, and business operations? One of the best ways is with multi-factor authentication (MFA).

It provides a significant barrier to cybercriminals even if they have a legitimate user credential to log in. This is because they most likely will not have access to the device that receives the MFA code required to complete the authentication process.

WHAT ARE THE THREE MAIN METHODS OF MFA?

When you implement multi-factor authentication at your business, it’s important to compare the three main methods of MFA and not just assume all methods are the same. There are key differences that make some more secure than others and some more convenient.

Let’s take a look at what these three methods are:

SMS-BASED

The form of MFA that people are most familiar with is SMS-based. This one uses text messaging to authenticate the user.

The user will typically enter their mobile number when setting up MFA. Then, whenever they log into their account, they will receive a text message with a time-sensitive code that must be entered.

ON-DEVICE PROMPT IN AN APP

Another type of multi-factor authentication will use a special app to push through the code. The user still generates the MFA code at login, but rather than receiving the code via SMS, it’s received through the app.

This is usually done via a push notification, and it can be used with a mobile app or desktop app in many cases.

SECURITY KEY

The third key method of MFA involves using a separate security key that you can insert into a PC or mobile device to authenticate the login. The key itself is purchased at the time the MFA solution is set up and will be the thing that receives the authentication code and implements it automatically.

The MFA security key is typically smaller than a traditional thumb drive and must be carried by the user to authenticate when they log into a system.

Now, let’s look at the differences between these three methods.

MOST CONVENIENT FORM OF MFA?

Users can often feel that MFA is slowing them down. This can be worse if they need to learn a new app or try to remember a tiny security key (what if they lose that key?).

This user inconvenience can cause companies to leave their cloud accounts less protected by not using multi-factor authentication.

If you face user pushback and are looking for the most convenient form of MFA, it would be the SMS-based MFA.

Most people are already used to getting text messages on their phones so there is no new interface to learn and no app to install.

MOST SECURE FORM OF MFA?

If your company handles sensitive data in a cloud platform, such as your online accounting solution, then it may be in your best interest to go for security.

The most secure form of MFA is the security key.

The security key, being a separate device altogether, won’t leave your accounts unprotected in the event of a mobile phone being lost or stolen. Both the SMS-based and app-based versions would leave your accounts at risk in this scenario.

The SMS-based is actually the least secure because there is malware out there now that can clone a SIM card, which would allow a hacker to get those MFA text messages.

A Google study looked at the effectiveness of these three methods of MFA at blocking three different types of attacks. The security key was the most secure overall.

Percentage of attacks blocked:

  • SMS-based: between 76 – 100%
  • On-device app prompt: between 90 – 100%
  • Security key: 100% for all three attack types

WHAT’S IN BETWEEN?

So, where does the app with an on-device prompt fit in? Right in between the other two MFA methods.

Using an MFA application that delivers the code via push notification is more secure than the SMS-based MFA. It’s also more convenient than needing to carry around a separate security key that could quickly become lost or misplaced.

LOOKING FOR HELP SETTING UP MFA AT YOUR COMPANY

Multi-factor authentication is a “must-have” solution in today’s threat climate. Contact Tomorrows Today to discuss your barrier points and come up with a solution together to keep your cloud environment better secured.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Signs That Your Computer May Be Infected with Malware

Signs That Your Computer May Be Infected with Malware

We at Tomorrows Today have recently discovered that approximately 34% of businesses take a week or longer to regain access to their data and systems once hit with a malware attack.

Malware is an umbrella term that encompasses many different types of malicious code. It can include:

  • Viruses
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
  • Trojans
  • Adware
  • Key loggers
  • And more

The longer that malware sits on your system unchecked, the more damage it can do. Most forms of malware have a directive built in to spread to as many systems as possible. So, if not caught and removed right away, one computer could end up infecting 10 more on the same network in no time.

Early detection is key so you can disconnect an infected device from your network and have it properly cleaned by a company like Tomorrows Today

Keep an eye out for these key warning signs of malware infection so you can jump into action and reduce your risk.

STRANGE POPUPS ON YOUR DESKTOP

Some forms of malware can take on the disguise of being an antivirus app or warranty notice that pops up on your screen. Hackers try to mimic things that users may have seen from a legitimate program, so they’ll be more apt to click without thinking.

If you begin to see a strange “renew your antivirus” subscription alert or a warranty renewal that doesn’t quite make sense, these could be signs that your PC has been infected with adware or another type of malware.

NEW SLUGGISH BEHAVIOR

Computers can become sluggish for a number of reasons, including having too many browser tabs open at once or running a memory-intensive program. But you’ll typically know your computer and the types of things that slow it down.

If you notice new sluggish behavior that is out of the ordinary, this could be an infection. One example would be if you don’t have any programs open except notepad or another simple app, and yet you experience freezing.

When malware is running in the background, it can often eat up system resources and cause your system to get sluggish.

APPLICATIONS START CRASHING

 

Applications should not just crash out of the blue. There is always a reason. Either the software is faulty, there’s been an issue with an update, or something else may be messing with that application’s files.

If you suddenly experience apps crashing, requiring you to restart the app or reboot your system, this is another telltale sign that a virus, trojan, or other malicious code has been introduced.

 

YOUR BROWSER HOME PAGE IS REDIRECTED

If you open your browser and land on a homepage that is not the one you normally see, have your PC scanned for malware right away. Redirecting a home page is a common ploy of certain types of malware.

The malware will infect your system and change the system setting for your default browser home page. This may lead you to a site filled with popup ads or to another type of phishing site.

Just trying to change your homepage back in your settings won’t fix the situation. It’s important to have the malware removed.

 

SUDDEN REBOOTS

Another annoying trait of certain types of malicious code is to make your system reboot without warning.

This can cause you to lose the work you’ve just done and can make it difficult to get anything done. This may happen when malware is changing core system files behind the scenes. With files corrupted, your system becomes unstable and can often reboot unexpectedly.

 

YOU’RE MISSING HARD DRIVE SPACE

If you find that a good deal of your hard drive space that used to be open is now gone, it could be a malware infection taking up your space. Some types of malware may make copies of files or introduce new files into your system.

They will cleverly hide, so don’t expect to see the word “malware” on a file search. Instead, the dangerous activities will usually be masked by a generic-sounding name that you mistake for a normal system file.

 

YOU RUN ACROSS CORRUPTED FILES

If you open a file and find it corrupted, this could be a red flag that ransomware or another form of malware has infected your system.

While files can occasionally become corrupt for other reasons, this is a serious issue that deserves a thorough malware scan if you see it.

 

PC “PROCESSING SOUNDS” WHEN THERE SHOULDN’T BE

Most of us are familiar with those “thinking sounds” when our computer is processing something memory intensive. You’ll usually hear a type of whirring that will go away once you finish that activity.

If you begin hearing this processing sound when you’re not doing anything particularly intense on your computer, this could be a sign that malware is running in the background and it should be checked out.

 

GET EXPERT MALWARE SCANNING & REMOVAL

Free online malware and virus scans aren’t very reliable. Instead, contact us at Tomorrows Today to ensure your entire system is cleaned properly.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.