Network Wrangler – Tech Blog IT Tips, tricks, tutorials and just interesting stuff for IT folks. Tue, 23 May 2017 14:08:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Phone Security Mistakes you’re probably making Tue, 23 May 2017 14:08:01 +0000

In this enlightened technological age, we all think we’re clued up on tech security, don’t we? We know to secure our PCs and laptops with passwords, two-step verification, anti-virus software, firewalls and anti-spyware and keep a check on our browser security settings. We’ve read the data breach horror stories and the torrid tales of hard drives being wiped clean by ransomware and we’re savvy enough to have all the tools in place to make our digital fortress impregnable. We’re proud that those rookie mistakes in digital security could never happen to us.


However, despite the fact that for many of us, a huge amount of personal data (our whole lives in effect) is stored on our mobile phones, we often don’t subject our mobile devices to the same super-strict security protocols we are so conscientious of keeping up to date on our PC’s and laptops. Mobile phone security mistakes can be just as costly as those on your other devices, and there are 5 common mistakes that you are probably making right now.

1. Not using a password

This one seems like a no-brainer, but, shockingly, 30% of mobile phone users do not have a password, pin lock or other form of access protection set up on their phone. Be sure to use at least a four-digit code, or, for extra peace of mind set a longer password. The way to do this varies by model of phone, but is generally under the “settings” section. Some phones will scan your fingerprint instead of an alphanumerical code. However, security experts like to remind us that you can always reset a password if you need to; you can’t change your fingerprint.

2. Trusting public Wi-Fi

Fraudsters can easily create an open Wi-Fi network that has a similar name to that of a coffee shop, and capture private data from the people who unwittingly use it. If you must use open Wi-Fi, browse the Internet only, and make sure the sites you visit display in the search bar with “https.” Don’t make purchases, or sign into bank and credit card accounts—save those tasks for when you’re at home.

3. Sharing your location

Your phone uses a combination of cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS networks to pinpoint its location at all times. This comes in handy for finding the nearest pub or using Google Maps, but it also means that your location data is accessible to anyone with your phone and the wrong intentions. If the idea of someone being able to track where you live, work and play is disturbing to you for whatever reason, disable your phone’s location services.


Don’t announce, “I’m not home!” on Facebook and Twitter. Time Magazine estimates that 78 percent of burglars use social media to choose the location of their next victim, so avoid real-time posts about holidays. If you’re dying to share that photo of the Maldives or a giant margarita, email it to a select few, rather than broadcasting it via social media. Set your Facebook privacy setting so that you can review tagged posts from friends and relatives before they go up on your timeline. Once you’re back home, feel free to share your pics, blog about your fabulous trip, and post to Instagram. Just use the hashtag “#latergram” to indicate that your photos are post-dated.

4. Downloading dodgy apps – and not updating existing ones

Only download apps from official, trustworthy app stores (like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store). Check an app’s rating and read the reviews to make sure it’s widely used and respected before you take any action.


Similarly, you should ensure you enable updates for all you apps. Apps update often for a reason. Sometimes people, fail to or ignore updating their phones for long periods of time. These updates are not only features updates, but security updates. Many hackers thrive on the fact people do not update their apps or phones and take advantage of bugs in them to steal your data.

5. Blurring the lines between personal and professional devices

Bring your own device (BYOD) has gained popularity over the last few years, especially in the startup business market. An increase in mobile and remote working practices means nobody wants to carry multiple smartphones and constantly utilise different mobile operating systems to check email and manage calendars. However, the security risk is often overshadowed by convenience. Employees’ personal devices may have access to and store confidential corporate data directly on the device. When an employee leaves an organisation, that information is still present on their device and can be accessed indefinitely. In terms of data security this is a major mistake. Ensure that you are up to date with your organisation’s policies surrounding the use of personal devices for business use and adhere to them at all costs so that you are not personally compromising security.

]]> 0
A guide to Windows 10 for you mobile phone Tue, 16 May 2017 15:00:23 +0000

While Andriod and IOS remain dominant in the mobile operating system market, in recent years Microsoft has expanded its offering of phones supporting Windows. With the advent of Windows 10 mobile, it is likely that its market share will continue to increase. In this guide we cover the basics you should know if considering a phone using Windows 10.

Check your phone is supported and initiate the upgrade

It seems obvious, but before either buying a phone or attempting to upgrade an existing phone to Windows 10, you should first check whether your phone is supported. Once you have checked you’ll need to install the Windows 10 Upgrade Advisor app from the app store. This prepares the device for the upgrade, which is then installed as a standard phone OS update. If your phone isn’t among those for which Windows 10 has been released, with some other models you can still enjoy the benefits of the new OS via the Windows Insider Program, though doing so installs the OS as pre-release software, meaning it may not be as stable and speedy as released software.

Finding your way around – a guide to some of our favorite features

Once you’ve installed Windows 10, it’s time to have a play with the new features Windows 10 has to offer. Here are a few of our favourites:


Like Android, Windows 10 Mobile lets third-party apps (such as weather apps) take over the lock screen image. You can also choose quick-status icons to appear on the lock screen, such as your numbers of emails and messages. You can swipe down from the top to see your notifications and quick-access tiles. Notifications on the lock screen can be set to private, per app, so that, for example, a Facebook message’s text doesn’t appear on it.


Passing the lock screen, you get to the tile-based interface. You can group tiles by dragging one on top of another, just as on iOS and most Android phones. Swipe left from the home screen, and you reveal all app tiles.

Windows Hello

Windows 10 Mobile lets you log in with your face, using Windows Hello. The phones that support it actually scan your iris, so they can’t be tricked by someone holding a picture of your face up to the phone, since it uses infrared illumination and detection.

Included Apps

Powerful new included apps are available with Windows 10 Mobile. The Photos app can automatically create albums, and offers a Living Photos feature. The Windows Phone camera app also lets photo buffs choose manual settings like shutter speed and f-stop.

Mail App

The new Outlook Mobile mail app is a big improvement over that in Windows Phone 8.1: You can swipe left and right to archive and flag messages and the app now supports multiple mail accounts from any mail provider including Gmail and Yahoo as well as or your Exchange or private mail server. Switching among accounts is simple whether you’re reading or sending.


Maps in Windows 10 Mobile include turn-by-turn spoken directions for driving, public transport, or walking. You can ask virtual assistant Cortana to get you directions to a destination, and Maps will get you going. You can also download maps for offline navigation, and turn off the warning beeps should you exceed the speed limit.


Music and video are also provided by Microsoft apps—Groove and Movies & TV. With Groove, you get unlimited access to any music you want to play, not only on the phone, but on Windows 10 PCs, iOS and Android devices, and Xbox. Movies & TV lets you rent or buy titles individually.

Microsoft Office

Mobile versions of Microsoft Office apps—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote—come free with Windows 10 Mobile, and your documents for all these sync with OneDrive. The interfaces are surprisingly functional, given the small screen size. They even include Office 2016’s real-time collaboration and its Smart Lookup feature, which accesses Web knowledge on selected text without taking you out of the app.


Windows 10 Mobile’s app store has been spruced up since the last version, and more closely resembles the store on Windows 10 for desktops. Featured and top apps are clearly accessible, and a left-side hamburger menu now shunts you to Apps, Games, Music, Movies & TV, My Library, Updates, or Payment methods.


Cortana can be accessed in three way – tapping her tile, holding down the search magnifying glass button that’s always pre-set at the bottom right of the screen, or you can turn on listening for you to say “Hey Cortana!” Unlike Apple Siri and Google Now, however, you tell Cortana exactly how much personal information you want to share with her, using the Notebook. This includes 15 sections for your interest info, such as food you like, sports, health, travel, special days, and places. Filling in the last with your work and home addresses is what enables her to predict your commute.

]]> 0
How to check for MS17-010 and other HotFixes Fri, 12 May 2017 22:13:44 +0000

Sometimes you need to check on the status of your applied updates and quickly. With news of the WannaCrypt/WannaCry Ransomware spreading via the MS17-010 vulnerability around the globe it’s a good idea to double check that all your updates are applied correctly.


The following is a quick PowerShell Execute Script monitor that you can add to Server Monitor to check for the presence of the HotFixes needed to mitigate MS17-010:


# KB4012598 KB4018466- Windows Server 2008
# KB4012217 KB4015551 KB4019216 - Windows Server 2012
# KB4012216 KB4015550 KB4019215 - Windows Server 2012 R2
# KB4013429 KB4019472 KB4015217 KB4015438 KB4016635 - Windows Server 2016

# List of all HotFixes containing the patch
$hotfixes = "KB4012598", "KB4018466", "KB4012217", "KB4015551", "KB4019216", "KB4012216", "KB4015550", "KB4019215", "KB4013429", "KB4019472", "KB4015217", "KB4015438", "KB4016635"

# Search for the HotFixes
$hotfix = Get-HotFix -ComputerName $mon.ComputerName | Where-Object {$hotfixes -contains $_.HotfixID} | Select-Object -property "HotFixID"

# See if the HotFix was found
if ($hotfix) {
    $mon.FireActions = $false
    $mon.Details = "Found HotFix: " + $hotfix.HotFixID
    # a blank value removes the property 
    $mon.SetComputerCustomPropByID(0, "NEEDS-MS17-010-FIX", "")
} else {
    $mon.FireActions = $true
    $mon.Details = "Didn't Find HotFix"
    $mon.SetComputerCustomPropByID(0, "NEEDS-MS17-010-FIX", "YES") 


The script should work in either Powershell v2 or v4 and contains all the Hot Fix numbers as of 5/16/2017 that contain the MS17-010 patch (each rollup update will replace the existing HotFix with a new KB number).

If you are using another version of Windows not listed above or if you’re trying to apply this to another vulnerability, the process for getting the KB numbers for the $hotfixes variable is:

  • 1 – Go to the Vulnerability’s page and locate the original KB number(s) for your systems
  • 2 – Use the original KB number(s) for the $hotfixes variable in the script above
  • 3 – Go to the Windows Update Catalog and search for the KB number
  • 4- Click the matching update(s)
  • 5 – Under the Package Details, add any KB numbers in the “This update has been replaced by the following updates” box to the $hotfixes variable
  • 6 – Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each additional Hot Fix number until you get to the Hot Fix number(s) that haven’t been replaced yet.
  • 7 – You should now have the full list of KB numbers that mitigate the vulnerability and you can deploy the script.

This is only a quick way to assess what systems are missing the fix right now. The current KB numbers will eventually be replaced as new Rollup updates get released and replace the previous ones. You can keep the HotFix List up to date by adding new KB Numbers to the $hotfixes variable, but hopefully once you know which systems are vulnerable you can make sure that they’re patched and remove the monitor entirely.


This script will fire alerts for each server that is missing the HotFix.  It also sets a Custom Property on the server. With the Custom Property set, you could create a Dynamic Group that will automatically contain all of the servers that need the HotFix.


list of servers needing MS17-010 HotFix



With the Dynamic Server List in place, you can create a Dynamic Group to easily see the servers that need to be updated.

Needs MS17-010 patch group


Finally, you can also run an Inventory Details report to get a list of affected server.


]]> 25
A 5 Step guide to getting started in DevOps Wed, 10 May 2017 13:51:04 +0000

DevOps traits for managing network infrastructureSo you’re a convert. You understand the value of DevOps, and how it can enhance your operations, and you’re ready to take the plunge and redraw your organisation’s processes along DevOps lines. But how on earth do you get started, and what critical information do you need to have before you can successfully implement a DevOps strategy? Without adequate preparation and without the correct tools to foster collaboration, you might be overwhelmed at the prospect of completely revamping your development and deployment operations.


Fortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule for what makes DevOps work. Critically, DevOps requires a high degree of collaboration, but how you achieve that objective is entirely up to you and will differ hugely according to what makes sense for your organisation and your internal operation procedures. Whatever setup you choose however, there are a few universal conventions you can follow to make the planning, implementation and long term success of your DevOps strategy run smoothly. Follow our 5 step guide to get you started on the way to DevOps success.


1. Define what DevOps means for your organisation

DevOps processes vary hugely in investment and sophistication, so your first task should be to define what DevOps means for you and your organisation. This definition will allow you to determine which changes will be required to deploy the process and set expectations as to how your DevOps strategy will affect your organisation’s outcomes. For example, if you are low on resources, you might want to implement daily meetings between teams to start information sharing. Alternatively, if you have the leeway to implement collaboration tools and a joint development environment, you may consider a larger revamp of processes, with the introduction of cutting edge technology to make the transition of DevOps work more effectively.

2. Start with a trial – Build a pilot DevOps team

Eventually, you’ll want your entire organisation to be a part of your DevOps strategy, but starting small with a pilot team will help to minimise risk and learn some important lessons – what works for you and what needs refining. Create a dedicated team of developers and engineers who are willing to execute your DevOps vision by testing new processes and tools and make them the trailblazers for the process. Your pilot team can then give valuable feedback as to how the strategy is working and what needs refining before a wider rollout can take place. An enthusiastic pilot team can act as ambassadors for your DevOps strategy and eventually teach best practice to other members of your organisation.


Using a small team as a pilot will also start to enable you to build a clear picture of what your DevOps team structure would ideally look like. There are a number of templates you could consider when developing your team structure – the best structure for you will depend entirely on your organisation’s size, the nature of your operations and your modus operandi. A degree of trial and error may be required, which is why starting with a small pilot is vital.

3. Match the tools you use to your DevOps visions

Collaboration rather than technology is the central component of DevOps, but that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the technological aspects completely – doing so could mean that you deploy an innovative process only to have it fail because you don’t have the tools to support it. Your team is often best placed to assess what technology is required, so with your team’s input, determine what tools you’ll need to enable collaborative development across your organisation. Ask for team input prior to your pilot, at the pilot stage and post pilot, then choose your DevOps tools carefully according to the size of your team and the nature of your operations. This well help smooth the path in the implementation of your new DevOps strategy. Once your DevOps strategy has been rolled out across your organisation, keep monitoring the tools you are using for effectiveness and update them as needed.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communicate to everyone. Operate a democracy rather than a dictatorship and consider the input of all team members rather than presenting a DevOps mandate as a fait accompli. Once you have your process in place, communicate why and how the methodology will benefit participants before it is deployed.


A you begin to integrate teams and processes, be sure to keep communication going. And be honest – rather than brushing failures under the rug, communicate where processes go awry and what lessons can be learned to make your processes more effective. Continuous and effective communication will help ally any worries about the implementation of new processes, monitor effectiveness and foster enthusiasm in your team.

5. Remain flexible

Don’t be too rigid and don’t become so ingrained in your strategy that you are blind to its failings. There is no one-size-fits-all for DevOps. Be prepared to adopt more or fewer DevOps tactics as you experiment with the processes in your organisation, and don’t be afraid to discard anything that is not working.

]]> 0
Thinking of becoming a DevOps Manager? Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:22:43 +0000

The emergence of Dev Ops Managers as a distinct role is a relatively new one. The term DevOps was first coined in 2009 by Patrick Debois, who became one of its chief proponents. Since then, the role of the DevOps Manager has evolved significantly.

So what exactly is a DevOps Manager?

Simply put, DevOps is a combination of software development and operations—and as its name suggests, it’s a melding of these two disciplines in order to emphasise communication, collaboration, and cohesion between the traditionally separate developer and IT operations teams.


Rather than seeing these as two distinct groups who are responsible for their specific tasks but don’t really work together, the DevOps methodology recognises the interdependence of the two groups. By integrating these functions as one team or department, DevOps helps an organisation deploy software more frequently, while maintaining service stability and gaining the speed necessary for more innovation.


As a DevOps manager, you’ll need to work with both teams to manage this relationship, creating an environment of effective communication, information sharing and collaboration to maximise both teams’ outputs.

What skills will I need to become a DevOps Manager

To be an effective DevOps manager you’ll need a mix of technical skills and soft skills. Let’s take a look at the technical skills you’ll require, as these will be essential in securing and succeeding in a DevOps role.

Technical Skills required for a DevOps Manager Role

1. You’ll need a sound understanding of modern software engineering

To work effectively, DevOps Managers need programming and systems architectural skills. While there’s no firm requirement to understand a specific programming language you will need to understand programming algorithms and robust systems design.

2. You’ll need to be familiar with modern software architecture

You’ll need to have a good overview of modern software architecture. This includes cloud deployment and administration as well as distributed systems. DevOps Managers will need to familiarise themselves with cloud instances and services, as well as lower-level software infrastructure such as Linux distributions and databases when deployed in a cloud.

3. You’ll need to be confident in managing security incident responses

Security and safety in the new DevOps environment needs to embrace new ways of addressing security and QA. You should be able to lead a team during an incident and work with the team to evaluate your security processes. You’ll also need to work with your team to develop more relevant and effective methods which are suitable for the complex infrastructure environments you’ll be managing.

Soft skills which are desirable for a DevOps role

1. You’ll need to communicate clearly and concisely

Possibly one of the most often cited soft skills for virtually any role, as a DevOps manager it is vital that you are a confident, empathetic and effective communicator. At times you and your team will be under immense pressure and you will need to ensure that you can communicate and give instructions clearly whilst understanding the pressure your team might be feeling.

2. You’ll need to bring new collaboration techniques to the table

New collaboration techniques are essential, and DevOps will need to learn effective, distributed collaboration techniques which will hold the team firm during any crises or tough situations that arise. Good collaboration techniques also give your team the ability to identify and brainstorm infrastructure changes, ensuring that all team members can easily contribute to the discussion.

3. You’ll need to demonstrate a flexible mind set

The willingness to make changes and to evaluate alternate options is key to DevOps. At times, projects are going to fail, and as a manager you’ll often need to be accountable for that failure. Be willing to accept the situation when things don’t go as planned and don’t be afraid to change your mind and look for better options.

So, I have all the skills, how can I find and apply for a job as a DevOps Manager?

There are a number of ways you can go about sourcing and applying for an appropriate DevOps Management Role. The big players in recruitment all regularly post DevOps jobs. DevOps Professional Groups on social media can be a wealth of information and advice on where to look and how to tackle the application process, and also offer a wealth of insight into the different roles within the DevOps environment. Lastly, once you’ve secured an interview, there are a variety of webinars available which can help clue you in on the current hot topics in DevOps and help you stand out from the field.

Over to you

We’ve outlined the main duties of a DevOps manager, covered the skills you’ll need and highlighted further sources of information. Now it’s down to you – arm yourself with all the facts and figures, prepare and check your application thoroughly and don’t forget to brush up on your interview technique. Good luck!

Version 7 Beta Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:12:47 +0000

We use the term “Beta” because that is what most people are familiar with, but by the time we go to “Beta”, our products are very solid and have been tested for months already.

PA Storage Monitor

PA Storage Monitor entered Beta for version 7 today.  


So we invite you to check out PA Storage Monitor version 7 Beta/Preview 🙂

PA Server Monitor

PA Server Monitor has been in Beta for almost two months now.  We’re getting close to a final release.  If you have input about version 7 and its features, we would love to hear about it!


PA Server Monitor version 7 Beta/Preview


Optimising Windows 10 for a longer battery life Tue, 18 Apr 2017 16:19:09 +0000

Since the advent of Windows 10, there has been a lot of publicity about the power draining nature of the platform. Whilst recent updates have ironed out some of the problems with battery drain, there are still significant issues when running Windows 10 on a laptops, tablets and PCs on standby. Here we look at some simple fixes you can easily carry out yourself to optimise the battery life of your device.

Ensure you’re fully updated

First, make sure you have downloaded the latest update. As we’ve mentioned, Microsoft addressed some battery life issues in recent updates, but if you’re not running the latest version you’re not going to benefit. Making sure you’re running the latest version of Windows 10 will optimise the battery life on most tablets, laptops and connected standby PCs by lowering the priority of non essential background processes.

Check whether Cortana is to blame

Windows 10’s attentive virtual assistant, Cortana has often been blamed for Windows 10’s poor battery performance. There is a sound reason for this as Cortana is constantly actively listening for someone to say, “Hey Cortana.” This active listening can be handy, but it consumes battery power. Fortunately, it is easy to turn off active listening in Cortana. Open Cortana, go to the Notebook, and click on the Settings option. The Settings screen contains a slide bar that you can use to turn “Hey Cortana” on or off.

Check what you may be unknowingly running in the background

Take a look at apps that are running in the background. Windows 10 is designed to allow background apps to download data from the internet as a way of providing up-to-date information. For example, a weather app might automatically download the latest weather data to your device periodically throughout the day.


The functionality for apps to run in the background can provide useful information, but it also drains the battery much more quickly. You can disable this type of activity on a per-app basis as follows:

Start in the Settings app

Click or tap System, then Battery to open an Overview page that tells you how much estimated battery life is left.

Tap Battery usage by app

A list will pop up showing battery use across all apps (including Windows desktop programs).

Check which apps are chief battery draining offenders

Scroll through the list to see which apps are the most power-hungry. Tap any item in the list to see what percentage of battery usage occurred in the background, when you might not have even been aware of it. Disable these apps or limit their ability to run in the background.

Disable unnecessary notifications

Just like iOS or Android, Windows 10 now sports a notification centre which gives you a good overview of new emails, updates, plugged in devices and more. Unfortunately, this area quickly becomes too crowded and can contribute to performance and battery drain as Windows 10 is frequently working to keep a check on all the apps for new notifications.


The fewer notifications you enable, the less impact it will have on your device’s performance (and battery life on tablets and laptops). To disable unwanted notifications:

Click on the Start button

Click on Settings. Go to System and Notifications and settings.

To turn off all notifications

Flip the switch on Show app notifications. However, you can also turn off your notifications one by one to ensure you keep updated with anything you wish to be alerted to, such as new email.

Turn off Windows Tips

You may have noticed that Windows 10 sometimes shows you tips and tricks for various features, such as how to get apps from the store. The app behind this is called ‘Show me tips’ which, for some reason, may cause high processor and RAM usage – you’ll notice that if your PC or laptop keeps spinning its fan and is very slow.


Microsoft are working on a fix for this long-term, but here’s how to prevent it from happening in the meantime:

Open up the notification settings

Switch off Show me tips about Windows.

Turn off dynamic colour adaptation

The new Windows user interface tries to automatically adjust the colour of the window frame and taskbar to the desktop wallpaper. However, there’s a bug which could increase CPU usage quite drastically and reduce your overall performance when this is enabled.


If you feel your PC is running slow, try the following:

Go to the Start menu

Click on Settings, then Personalization.

Go to Colours

Switch off Automatically pick an accent colour from my background.

Final thoughts

Just as with smartphones, as the capabilities of laptops and tablets expand there are bound to be some issues surrounding battery drain. As platforms such as Windows 10 evolve, (and a further update is planned very soon) developers will no doubt clear up many of these issues, but it’s important that you as the user also ensure you have carried out some basic housekeeping tasks as outlined above to keep your device working at its full capability.

Making the most of Office 365 Security tools Tue, 11 Apr 2017 19:09:07 +0000

Moving to a cloud based service such as Office 365? Many organisations contemplating a move to a cloud based service are rightly concerned about security. With new threats being introduced on a regular basis, organisations need to use all the tools they have at their disposal to secure their data. Official Government Guidance on the security considerations of using Office 365 details the factors which organisations should consider when moving to a cloud based service to ensure that they are compliant with data protection and data management legislation. Fortunately, Office 365 has some handy inbuilt features which help ensure that you are security compliant and offer peace of mind that your data is safe. We take a look at the Office 365 Security Tools you should make the most of to protect your company.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Your company should already have a data loss prevention strategy in place to ensure that confidential or personal data can’t be uploaded, shared or emailed. In Office 365, DLP is available in SharePoint Online and Exchange, and can also be integrated into Enterprise Search. With this, you can create policies to restrict content being saved to certain locations, such as One Drive for Business and SharePoint Online sites. By configuring DLP to run in “test” mode, it will report on where your users are downloading and storing their data, without being enabled.


Another powerful option is to use a product like PA File Sight, which can audit and alert you to who is accessing your files, whether they are Office 365 documents or not.  You’ll find out the user account and the IP address/computer the user was on when read, writing or deleting the files.

Rights Management

Using the inbuilt rights management feature in Office 365 protects documents and email with encryption and an associated usage policy. Documents can then only be used by the intended recipients for the intended purpose. You can set up content expiration rules and set offline access settings, as well as set policies at the document level so that unauthorised users can’t open a Word document saved to a shared drive, for example.

Office 365 Message Encryption

Message encryption in Office 365 requires the recipient to log in to read and reply to the encrypted message. It typically works through a one-time passcode to access the email in question, and you can customise the email notification and portal that users interact with.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Mobile device management helps protect data on end user devices. MDM allows you to set up conditional access, user level policies, manage the users’ devices, and fully or selectively wipe the device if necessary.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication requires more than just a user name and password to authenticate to Office 365. It can be set up on a user-by-user basis. Users must login with a user name and password, and then they’ll either receive a phone call or text message (depending on the configuration) and they must answer the call or enter the access code received via text into the browser. IP addresses can be whitelisted, meaning when users are in your office, they don’t need to use multi-factor authentication, but if they’re out to lunch, it will be required

Advanced Threat Protection

Exchange Online Protection currently covers all Exchange Online mailboxes as part of their subscription. Advanced threat protection will be available later this year as an additional subscription to protect your tenant from advanced threats such as spear-fishing and zero-day malware attacks.

Client Security

Don’t overlook security on the client machines that will access your Office 365 environment. Make sure security patches on the client machines are up to date. You can also set client policy rules using Active Directory Federation Services that restricts users from logging in if they are on a given range of IP addresses.

Office Client Deployment

Office client deployment keeps client versions of Office up to date through the latest security updates. You do have flexibility with regard to updates, for example you can opt in to feature and bug fixes quarterly. You can control your Office deployments using an XML-based deployment process called Click2Run.

Sharing Content

The admin portal offers the option to enable or disable content sharing. You can turn sharing on or off for different apps within Office 365, including Sites, Calendar, Skype for Business and Integrated Apps. Reports are available that show what has been shared with whom, and you can revoke sharing directly from the admin centre without needing to go directly into the app’s settings.

In conclusion

We’ve provided a brief overview of the Office 365 Security Tools you should make the most of. However, the needs of every organisation are different, and you should always ensure that you adapt security settings to your requirements rather than assuming that the default options offer a satisfactory level of protection. Lastly, as all cloud based services evolve developers will add greater levels of security along with enhanced customisation options, so you should always ensure that you are using the latest version of Office 365 or other cloud based service so as to benefit from new features as they are rolled out.

7 reasons to upgrade to Windows 10 Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:26:23 +0000

Not upgraded to Windows 10 yet, and unsure whether you should make the switch or not? Here we’ll examine the reasons why now is the time to consider switching up, whilst also revealing some of the pitfalls that may make you think twice.


There are many good reasons why you should upgrade, our top reasons to upgrade are as follows:

1. It’s faster– mostly

Windows 10 (and Windows 8 before it) are likely to perform better on your PC. Windows10 boots much quicker, power management is more efficient and it’s been tweaked to feel more responsive too.


That said, there are no obvious improvements to gaming performance, although there are lots of new features to enjoy, particularly for Xbox users.

2. The desktop is much improved

You’ll notice Windows 10 follows on from Windows 8 in applying a flat, somewhat minimalist theme compared to Windows 7’s translucent effects. This actually makes better use of screen space (window borders are smaller) and is less demanding on system resources.

3. There are lots of new tools

Windows 10 retains the best bits of Windows 7’s desktop – Aero Peek for one – but introduces some handy tools of its own.


There’s Task View, which lets you view all open windows and spread them across multiple virtual desktops to reduce clutter. The new Action Centre is also an improvement, providing real-time notifications in a handy slide-out panel from the right-hand side of the desktop.

4. Windows 10 has successfully retained the best bits of Windows 8

Get past the frankly awful Start screen and Modern UI focus, and Windows 8’s desktop contained a raft of improvements, all still present here.


There’s the brilliant File Explorer tool for browsing, managing and transferring files, for example, plus File History, which offers an alternative way of backing up your photos, documents and other key files. Don’t worry though, because the old Backup tool has made the jump from Windows 7 too if you’d rather stick with that.

5. ….and has made the worst bits of Windows 8 more palatable

Certain features in Windows 8 have been reimagined too – the App Store remains (now Windows Store), but apps run in their own resizable windows like regular programs rather than monopolising the screen (you can still run apps this way if you like by switching on Tablet Mode from the Action Centre).

6. The Start Menu is back

The Start menu is back in Windows 10, combining the best bits of both – the left-hand pane provides all the key shortcuts you need, and while the right-hand pane may not look stunningly attractive, it does provide a convenient customisable spot for pinning your most frequently used shortcuts.


There is also a useful Quick Access menu (right-click the Start button to open it).

7. Search made easy

Windows 10 places its search tool in full view on the Taskbar. This works in a similar way to the search box on the old Start menu, but covers your entire PC and makes it easy to refine your search as well as extend it to the web.


Search also comes with Cortana, Microsoft’s new virtual assistant, which can monitor your daily schedule to provide timely and helpful advice, news and updates.


What might put you off………some of the bits of Windows 10 we’re not so keen on..

1. Privacy

Windows 10 seems to want to collect and share a lot of data about you by default. You can disable these settings, but they’re scattered about the system. Use a free program like O&O ShutUp10 to tame them all from one convenient place.

2. Advertising

For reasons we can’t imagine, Microsoft has decided it’s a good idea to show a few ads on the login screen, and even from within Windows Explorer.  Luckily, at least for the Explorer location, this advertising can be disabled for now.

3. Windows Update

All updates are now applied automatically as soon as they’re available – Windows 10 Pro users can defer non-security updates for up to a month, but Home users don’t get this feature. But there are ways and means around it…

4. Microsoft Account

Windows 8 introduced the concept of logging in with your Microsoft Account to sync settings between different devices. Windows 10 supports this – and certain features work best with a Microsoft Account (such as OneDrive or calendar integration).


Not convinced? You can continue to use your traditional user account, and log in to your Microsoft Account only for specific apps.

5. Lost features

Some functionality has been removed in Windows 10, but you can replace most of the following with free software: Windows Media Center, a DVD video player, desktop gadgets, and the Microsoft games (Solitaire, Minesweeper and Hearts).


Windows 10 is definitely an improvement over Windows 7 – there are problems, but they can be fixed, and remember – you can always roll back if you discover it’s not to your taste.

Installing VSphere Hypervisor (VMWare ESXi 6.5) on an Intel NUC Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:12:34 +0000

We test our software a lot, and it helps to have a large network.  We don’t have thousands of servers like many customers, but we can simulate a large network which gives us better real-world testing.  It’s time to expand our environment again, but we didn’t want to setup another large server for VMs that ultimately do very little.  Using one of the new “Mini-PCs” seemed like a good idea, so we’ll show you what we did.


The goal was to get a VMWare ESXi 6.5 system running for about $700.


We went to our friendly local Microcenter and asked about an Intel NUC.  The models they had in stock came with either a Pentium, i5 or i7 processor, and no memory or disk.  Perfect!


We got the i5 model (NUC6i5SYH), 32GB of RAM, and a 512GB M.2 SSD drive.  You’ll see these really are small devices (banana not available, so screwdriver for size comparison).  The cost was right around our $700 goal (sorry, I don’t have the receipt handy).




Installing the RAM and SSD drive was a snap.  You basically loosen 4 screws on the bottom and lift the top off.


You can see where the RAM and M.2 SSD drive were installed.  Installing an M.2 drive requires a special screw to keep it in place.  I don’t recall whether it came with the NUC or the drive, but we ended up having one.



Time to put it back together, and connect to keyboard and mouse (USB), video (HDMI), and power (included with NUC).  I can thank Quinn for the nice backdrop 🙂



You’ll see a small red thumb drive connected to the front.  We downloaded the free VMWare ESXi 6.5 (which apparently is now called vSphere Hypervisor) and burned the ISO onto the USB drive.  Once the power was on, we went to the NUC boot screen, the boot menu (press F10), and finally to the VMWare installer welcome screen.





The screen doesn’t look great in the images above.  I’m not sure what I did, but after rebooting, everything was smooth and clear.


The only real choice we had to make was which drive to install VMWare onto, and naturally we choose the internal M.2 SSD drive we had installed.



The installation was as smooth and simple as could be, and when we were done, we had a new VMWare host!  Time to load up a bunch of tiny VMs 🙂