Prevent phishing attacks with these Microsoft 365 Defender features

Microsoft is a provider of powerful and intuitive tools that improve efficiency, productivity, and security. And as phishing attacks become more sophisticated and prevalent, Microsoft is taking steps to protect its users, one of which is releasing powerful cybersecurity tools via Microsoft 365 Defender. Here are some of them.

1. Anti-phishing

The most dangerous types of phishing scams involve emails that are disguised to appear like it’s from an entity. An attacker may use cunning tactics, such as referring to the victims by their nickname. They may even take over actual email accounts and use these to trick their victims.

Through machine learning, Defender creates a list of contacts that users normally communicate with. It then employs an array of tools, including standard anti-malware solutions, to differentiate acceptable from suspicious behaviors.

2. Anti-spam

Since common phishing campaigns utilize spam emails to victimize people, blocking spam is a great way to protect your company from such attacks.

Defender’s anti-spam technology addresses the issue by examining both an email’s source and its contents. If an email is found to come from an untrustworthy source or has suspicious contents, it is automatically sent to the Spam folder. What’s more, this feature regularly checks the activity of people in your company to ensure that none of them sends out spam emails.

3. Anti-malware

Malware, such as ransomware and spyware, can spread via phishing emails. Ransomware locks systems and files from users until a ransom is paid. Spyware, on the other hand, steals data by recording keystrokes, copying clipboards, and taking screenshots, among other methods.

Defender employs a multilayered defense against both known and unknown types of malware. This covers the different stages of email transmission security, including filtering potentially harmful attachments, and real-time threat response. Microsoft also regularly deploys new definition updates to keep its defenses armed against the latest threats.

4. Sandbox

It’s not uncommon for some users to accidentally open a malicious email attachment, especially if they’re not careful.

Defender resolves this issue by opening all attachments in a sandbox first. This sandbox is an isolated environment, so if the attachment is malicious, it will only infect the sandbox and not your actual system. Microsoft will then warn you not to open the file. If it’s safe, you will be able to open it normally.

5. Safe Links

Instead of attachments, some phishing emails contain URLs that lead to fraudulent websites — often made to look like legitimate ones — that require victims to provide their personal information. Some of these URLs also lead to pages that download malware into a computer.

Through a process called URL detonation, Safe Links protects users by scanning the links in their emails and checking for malicious behavior, such as the transmission of malware. If the link opens a malicious website, Microsoft Defender will warn users not to visit it. Otherwise, users can open the destination URL normally. Even so, the service will rescan the link in the succeeding days and report any suspicious changes.

What’s great about Safe Links is that it also scans links in emails from people within your company and works on files uploaded to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.

6. User Submissions

Defender allows you to set a specific mailbox to send emails you deem a threat. The User Submissions feature lets you set criteria for both malicious and safe email and identify mailboxes besides your spam folder to keep these messages in. This feature gives your administrators greater control over which emails to flag and which to report to Microsoft.

7. Enhanced Filtering

If your company uses third-party services to route emails to your on-premises environment before they are sent to Microsoft 365, you will benefit from Enhanced Filtering for Connectors. Defender uses inbound connectors to determine the trustworthiness of email sources. The more complex your routing scenario is, the more likely that an email’s inbound connectors will not reflect its real source.

Enhanced Filtering preserves authentication signals that may have been lost over the course of routing emails. This maximizes the effectiveness of Microsoft 365’s overall filtering capabilities, helping it detect spam and phishing emails.

If you need an email service that promotes efficiency while protecting your business, we can deploy and manage Microsoft 365 for you. Call us today to get started.

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5 Website conversion ideas for your business

Do you need a website that’ll convince people to sign up for your services or buy your product? The solution to conversion is simpler than you think. Here are five easy website essentials that will surely encourage conversion.

1. Optimize your website for mobile devices

More people are now surfing the web via smartphones and tablets. If you want a piece of this traffic, you need to make your website’s design responsive to all mobile devices.

To give your visitors a seamless mobile experience, make sure your website design fits the screen of any device. Additionally, all elements of your website, including inner pages, resources, and call-to-action buttons should be easily accessible. If not, visitors will get frustrated and move to another site.

2. Make it easy for customers to contact you

Displaying your phone number in the upper-right corner of every page and providing a simple contact form is crucial for conversions. While some people prefer not to give up their email address for fear it will be picked off by spambots, it can serve as another contact option for those who hate web forms. At the very least, your customers will have more than one way to contact you.

3. Keep it simple

People don’t always have time to navigate a complicated website, dig through dozens of pages to find a contact number, or figure out what it is that you’re selling. So when it comes to design, simplicity makes sense. When producing a simple website, every page, word, and image you create must have a singular purpose: to get visitors to contact you. Don’t distract them with excessive information, silly games, or flashy animations. Instead, have a nice clean layout so they can quickly understand what you’re offering and can contact you in just a click.

4. Include original photos whenever possible

Imagine having to choose between two different websites that sell the same thing and look virtually the same. The key difference is that one uses real photos of the owner and his or her staff, while the other uses stock images of business people.

By using original and authentic photos, visitors can get a better sense of your company as well as its products and services. It also gives you better control over how you can compose your photos and determine how you want your company to be perceived. So the next time you need images for your website, invest some time and money in having quality pictures taken by a professional photographer.

5. Move social media icons to the bottom of the page

Everyone loves throwing social media icons on their websites. And while it’s not a bad idea to show your credibility, putting social media icons at the top of the page makes your visitors more likely to click on them immediately. When this happens, you just gave them a reason to leave your site and never return, and we all know how easy it is to get distracted on social media.

Instead, place your social media icons at the bottom of the page or in the footer area. Remember, the goal of your website is to convert. If your visitors leave before they get a chance to explore your services, content, and offerings, you’ve lost them before you even had them.

For more tips on enhancing your digital presence, give us a call and leverage our IT expertise for your business today.

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3 Disaster recovery myths, debunked

With advancements in cloud computing, disaster recovery (DR) has become more efficient and affordable than ever. However, many business owners still cling to some DR myths that can safely be disregarded, such as these three.

Myth 1: Tape backups are the best DR solution

Tape backups are physical objects that deteriorate over time. Try listening to a cassette tape from the ’90s. Its sound may be distorted already, or it probably doesn’t work at all. Similarly, your tape backups will start to fail over time. At first, only a few files may be affected, but you will gradually lose all your data.

It is also a common practice to store another set of tape backups outside your premises to secure them in case a natural disaster befalls your office. However, if your storage spaces themselves are unsafe from natural disasters, this could pose a problem.

Unlike tape backups, cloud-based backups are safe from deterioration. They are also stored in multiple secured locations that are protected from natural disasters, so your data backups are as safe as they can be.

What’s more, cloud-based backups save you time in many ways. Data is automatically backed up online, so you don’t need to manually copy information onto your tapes. You also won’t need to manage boxes of tapes, freeing you to focus on more valuable tasks.

Myth 2: The RTOs you want are too expensive

Essential to any DR plan is its recovery time objective (RTO), which is the ideal period when everything must be up and running again to avoid serious losses. Before the cloud, a “swift” recovery time would take days and cost up to six figures.

Cloud and virtualization solutions have made this much faster and affordable than ever before. Most DR providers can back up your critical data in an hour or two. And if you ever need to recover data, most services can do so in less than a day.

Myth 3: Disaster recovery is for big businesses, not SMBs

Due to the astronomical costs previously associated with DR, only big businesses could afford backup and recovery solutions. Thanks to the cloud, however, these have become more affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). From dental offices to small retail operations, SMBs can now take advantage of the best DR solutions in the market. Advances in IT and the cloud have also eliminated the obstacles of complexity, costs, and insufficient IT resources.

We hope that by dispelling these myths, you’d be convinced to implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP) for your business. Thanks to improvements in data storage technologies, it is now more affordable and efficient to implement a DRP, in turn making it easier to ensure BC. If you’d like to learn how our DR solutions can safeguard your business, send us a message and we’ll fill you in.

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Ignore these outdated disaster recovery myths

Disaster recovery (DR) used to be an expensive solution that relied predominantly on tape backups. Today, cloud computing has dramatically changed the DR landscape, affording even small- and medium-sized businesses cheaper and more reliable DR solutions. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of misconceptions about DR. Here are three myths that no longer apply.

Myth 1: Tape backups are the best DR solution

Tape backups are physical objects that deteriorate over time. Try listening to a cassette tape from the ’90s. Its sound may be distorted already, or it probably doesn’t work at all. Similarly, your tape backups will start to fail over time. At first, only a few files may be affected, but you will gradually lose all your data.

It is also a common practice to store another set of tape backups outside your premises to secure them in case a natural disaster befalls your office. However, if your storage spaces themselves are unsafe from natural disasters, this could pose a problem.

Unlike tape backups, cloud-based backups are safe from deterioration. They are also stored in multiple secured locations that are protected from natural disasters, so your data backups are as safe as they can be.

What’s more, cloud-based backups save you time in many ways. Data is automatically backed up online, so you don’t need to manually copy information onto your tapes. You also won’t need to manage boxes of tapes, freeing you to focus on more valuable tasks.

Myth 2: The RTOs you want are too expensive

Essential to any DR plan is its recovery time objective (RTO), which is the ideal period when everything must be up and running again to avoid serious losses. Before the cloud, a “swift” recovery time would take days and cost up to six figures.

Cloud and virtualization solutions have made this much faster and affordable than ever before. Most DR providers can back up your critical data in an hour or two. And if you ever need to recover data, most services can do so in less than a day.

Myth 3: Disaster recovery is for big businesses, not SMBs

Due to the astronomical costs previously associated with DR, only big businesses could afford backup and recovery solutions. Thanks to the cloud, however, these have become more affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). From dental offices to small retail operations, SMBs can now take advantage of the best DR solutions in the market. Advances in IT and the cloud have also eliminated the obstacles of complexity, costs, and insufficient IT resources.

We hope that by dispelling these myths, you’d be convinced to implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP) for your business. Thanks to improvements in data storage technologies, it is now more affordable and efficient to implement a DRP, in turn making it easier to ensure BC. If you’d like to learn how our DR solutions can safeguard your business, send us a message and we’ll fill you in.

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The latest innovations in Windows 11

With Windows 10 installed in over a billion devices, the success of this operating system (OS) is going to be hard to replicate. However, that isn’t stopping Microsoft from trying to prove itself once again with its new OS, Windows 11. The new OS has new features that can help business owners and managers keep their IT infrastructure competitive.

Security features

Windows 11 continues what its predecessor has been doing, which is to provide apps that boost security and grant control over security and privacy settings.

OS level: Security baselines

Security requirements differ among different industries and organizations. For instance, a hospital must be HIPAA-compliant and maintain the privacy of patients’ health information, whereas a phone manufacturer would want to safeguard the fruits of its R&D department. Given the multitude of controls to set, security baselines help firms configure their own granular security settings and apply industry standards.

App level: Windows application security

When malware-laced apps and files are opened, malicious code may be executed alongside innocuous programming. Microsoft is well aware of how hackers abuse Office macros and turn these into cyberattack vectors, so it developed Windows application security to thwart such threats.

Device level: Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and Endpoint Manager

Defender for Endpoint is a security platform that keeps networks protected by detecting, analyzing, and responding to all types of cyberthreats. On the other hand, Endpoint Manager is an administrative tool for enforcing security compliance policies across all devices on your network. It helps an IT admin prevent data breaches and minimize their impact by isolating compromised devices.

User and identity level: Windows Hello for Business

As a security tool, passwords are obsolete because of how these have become easy to steal. Windows Hello for Business protects your organization at the end-user level by replacing passwords with biometrics or PINs that are kept locally in users’ devices.

Hybrid work innovations, productivity enhancements, and other helpful features

These innovations help users accomplish their tasks and provide nice-to-have conveniences:

Virtual desktops

Whether employees use company-issued devices or their own, they tend to use these for both work and personal tasks. Personal apps, files, and activities increase your organization’s exposure to cybersecurity risks, while the converse is also true: work apps, files, and activities may also expose an employee’s personal accounts to cybersecurity risks.

With virtual desktops, users can compartmentalize the professional and the personal by creating a separate desktop for each one. This separation helps limit the impact of a cybersecurity event to the affected desktop. Plus, compartmentalization has the added benefit of helping employees avoid personal distractions while at work, and unplug from work when their shift is over.

Windows Autopilot

Autopilot automatically takes care of preparing a Windows PC or HoloLens 2 for use whenever you issue one to an employee. Just have the employee sign in to their account, then Autopilot automatically does the following in the background:

  • Enrolls the device into Endpoint Manager, which then deploys work apps like Microsoft Teams
  • Applies policies and settings
  • Has the device join either Azure Active Directory or Active Directory

Autopilot can also be used to reset, repurpose, and recover machines.

Everything mentioned thus far can all be done without ever involving your IT admins, thereby allowing them to focus more on higher-value tasks.

Widgets

If there’s info that you consume regularly, such as news and weather reports, it’d be convenient to have a repository you can open with just one click. That’s what Widgets is for. Simply click on its icon on the taskbar to access your very own personalized information feed — no need to manually search in web browsers.

Widgets can also contain small apps like calendars and calculators. These apps are ready to be used and do not need to be launched separately.

Snap layouts

Snap layouts allow users to arrange app windows for when they’re using multiple apps simultaneously on a single screen. To illustrate, a data analyst may place two data sources on the left side of the screen while they work on their report in a spreadsheet on the right side.

Users can save a particular grouping of apps or layout into a Snap Group. This means that they can save a Snap Group for every task that requires a different set of apps. Therefore, when a user wants to perform a certain task, they can just open the related Snap Group to select the apps they need for that task. This is much faster than opening apps individually and setting your preferred layout every time. Furthermore, if a user has created multiple Snap Groups, they can easily switch to another Group when they have to perform a different task.

Power Automate

With Power Automate, users with practically no coding experience can leverage robotic process automation or RPA to automate repetitive processes and make their work tasks a lot easier. All a user has to do is to select from Power Automate’s 400-plus premade actions and utilize a recorder to keep track of keyboard functions and mouse actions. To illustrate, you can create automated email alerts that notify your team whenever a client submits a form, or you can automatically place purchase orders whenever supplies breach minimum quantity thresholds.

If you wish to deploy Windows 11 in your organization, let our IT experts help you out. Tell us more about your business requirements today.

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What is proactive cybersecurity, and how do you implement it?

To keep cyberthreats at bay, you need proactive cybersecurity solutions in your arsenal. They identify and contain threats before they wreak havoc on your systems and cause significant productivity and financial losses. Here’s all you need to know about proactive cybersecurity and how to implement it.

What is proactive cybersecurity?

Traditional cybersecurity is reactive — your IT team or managed IT services provider (MSP) will be alerted of a cyberattack after it has happened, leaving them to alleviate the impacts. In contrast, proactive cybersecurity is preventative — it takes into account all potential threats and seeks to identify vulnerabilities so that they can be addressed before they lead to larger, downtime-causing issues.

Many organizations have adopted proactive cybersecurity measures along with reactive ones and are now reaping the benefits, including the ability to stay one step ahead of cyberthreats and improved data compliance.

How to implement proactive cybersecurity

In adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity in your organization, you must follow these steps:

  1. Understand the threats you’re facing
    Before you can work toward preventing cyberattacks, you must know exactly what you’re up against. Seek the help of your in-house IT staff or MSP in identifying the types of attacks that are most common in your industry.
  2. Reevaluate what it is you’re protecting
    Once you have a list of the biggest threats to your organization, you need to take stock of how each can damage the various components of your network. Map out every company device that connects to the internet, what type of data they have access to (regulated, mission-critical, low-importance, etc.), and what services are currently protecting those devices.
  3. Choose proactive cybersecurity measures to put in place
    Depending on the risks and assets uncovered in steps 1 and 2, your IT team or MSP may recommend any of the following measures:
Proactive measure What it entails
Security awareness seminars for all internal stakeholders Train everyone from the receptionist to the CEO about effective security practices such as password management, proper mobile device usage, and spam awareness.
Updated anti-malware software or cloud-based service Protect your data and systems against the latest and most menacing malware.
Routine software patches and upgrades Minimize the chances of leaving a backdoor to your network open.
Web filtering services Blacklist dangerous and inappropriate sites for anyone on your network.
Perimeter defenses (e.g., intrusion prevention systems and hardware firewalls) Scrutinize everything trying to sneak its way in through the borders of your network.
Policy of least privilege Limit users’ access only to the data they need to fulfill their tasks.
Data segmentation Rank data according to sensitivity and build micro-perimeters around high-value datasets.
Full-disk encryption Make data stored in computers and portable devices unreadable so that if these machines are stolen, the files they have inside remain secure.
Virtual private networks Make data transmitted across unsecured connections unreadable so that intercepting it would become futile.
Strict access controls Prevent unauthorized access to accounts by using strong passwords, multifactor authentication, and auto screen locks and logouts for idle users. 
AI-powered network monitoring Identify suspicious user and software behaviors such as employees accessing files outside their departments.

If you’re looking to implement a proactive cybersecurity strategy to protect your business’s critical systems, give our professionals a call today. We’ll assess your needs and recommend the best, most effective solutions to address them.

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A brief guide on how to pick a computer mouse

You might be looking to upgrade your mouse either because yours is old, incompatible with your PC, or simply because it’s broken. While a trackpad is fine and useful, it doesn’t compare to the convenience of using a mouse. If you’re replacing an old mouse, it’s well worth buying a new one that will suit your needs and last for years. This guide can help in choosing the right mouse for you.

Cabled or wireless?

First of all, when planning to purchase a new mouse, it’s important to consider whether to get a wired or a wireless mouse.

A wireless mouse is generally more comfortable to use since your range of movement isn’t limited by a cable, and it’s portable. However, a wireless mouse can have latency and connectivity issues, making it frustrating to use at times. Sometimes, a wireless mouse can also interfere with other wireless devices nearby. Using it requires batteries, which can cause problems when the battery gets drained. And if you use the same mouse for both work and home computers, you run the risk of losing the tiny USB receiver for your wireless mouse when you travel to and from the office.

On the other hand, a wired mouse is cheaper and easy to plug and play. One major problem you’ll have to worry about is dealing with tangled wires. So when you’re deciding on a new mouse, think about whether you’re looking for comfort or convenience.

Ergonomics matters

You’re going to be using the new mouse for a while, so it’s important to choose one that feels comfortable in your hands. When deciding on the right mouse, focus on the size and the grip of the device. The size of the mouse usually comes down to hand size; someone with smaller hands will find a larger mouse quite unwieldy.

Certain mice can also accommodate different types of grips — fingertip grip, palm grip, and claw grip. Users who want high-precision control of their cursor should opt for a mouse with fingertip grip, those who value comfort should get a palm grip mouse, and if you want both control and comfort, the claw grip mouse is the way to go. Many gaming mice have unusual designs aimed at improving response time and usage efficiency, so look into those as well.

Dots per inch (dpi)

Higher sensitivity is necessary for precise mouse movements, especially if you’re editing images, videos, or audio files. A mouse with 1200 dpi or greater guarantees finer, sharper control.

Although mouse specifications like dots per inch might be the last thing on your mind when it comes to buying new hardware, it still pays to consider your own comfort. A good mouse with the right fit can make you more efficient and reduce the risk of injury.

If you need assistance setting up the best hardware for your company, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

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5 Tips to prevent VoIP downtime

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony systems are more mobile, have greater functionality, and cost less than traditional landline phones. But like any type of IT, VoIP is vulnerable to disruptions caused by equipment failure, disasters, and cyberattacks. To make your VoIP systems more resistant to unforeseen and adverse events, follow these tips.

Choose your provider wisely

When choosing which VoIP system to adopt for your company, carefully evaluate the service level agreements offered by each provider. Inquire about the provider’s security and availability guarantees and how these will be achieved.

Ideally, you must partner with the firm that can host your VoIP systems in facilities that are safe from local disasters such as flash floods or earthquakes. Your provider should also employ advanced network security solutions to protect your calls and data.

Invest in VoIP monitoring services

Before implementing any of the next two VoIP continuity solutions, install a third-party VoIP monitoring service to keep tabs on the status of your phone system. This tool will identify all network issues disrupting your phone system, enabling you to resolve them quickly.

Have a backup broadband line

Since VoIP solutions are dependent on internet connections, you should have a backup or alternate internet service provider (ISP) in case your main network goes down.

Have one ISP dedicated to your VoIP service and another supporting your main computer network. Once you’ve installed both networks, you can then program them to automatically transfer services to the other should one network fail. Thus, if your main phone network goes down, your VoIP solution switches to the other network and suffers no interruptions.

Of course, subscribing to two separate ISPs will increase your internet expenses. But if you perform a cost-benefit analysis, you’ll find that the cost to maintain both is far less than the cost of downtime in case your only ISP were to fail.

Route calls to mobile devices

Cloud-based VoIP solutions allow you to choose where you receive your calls with call forwarding — a feature that automatically reroutes incoming calls to other company-registered devices. This enables staff to receive work-related calls when they’re out of the office on a remote assignment, working at home, or when your main office is hit by a local disaster or network outage.

To benefit from this feature, register all employee mobile devices to your VoIP system and configure such devices to receive rerouted calls. Don’t forget to set policies for remote working. For instance, you should forbid staff from connecting to public Wi-Fi networks because this can put them at risk of cybercriminals eavesdropping on VoIP conversations.

Test your continuity measures regularly

There’s little value in VoIP continuity and disaster recovery strategies if they end up failing when you need them the most. Test your VoIP service and check whether contact details are up to date, call forwarding features are routing calls to the right devices, and your backup internet service works. Ultimately, your goal is to find flaws in your strategies and make the necessary adjustments to avoid potential hiccups from occurring in the future.

If managing VoIP is too time-consuming and complex, call our professionals today. We design, implement, test, and monitor powerful, disaster-proof VoIP phone systems to ensure your communications are always online.

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Maximize your Microsoft Word subscription with these tips

Microsoft Word is synonymous with document processing, which isn’t a surprise given its ubiquity and reputation for being user-friendly. Yet, many users are still surprised to learn that it has plenty of useful features, albeit ones that are hiding in plain sight. Here are some of them.

Work online

Don’t have the Word app on your computer, tablet, or smartphone? Go to office.com, sign in with your Microsoft account, and open Word Online, the web version of Word. This is particularly useful for users who have limited free storage space on their devices, as the Word app can be pretty hefty in terms of storage space (2.11 GB for Windows and 1.2 GB for Mac). It allows for the same level of functionality without the storage burden.

Collaborate effectively

You and your colleagues can now edit the same Word document simultaneously and in real time. Simply save the document to your Microsoft OneDrive account, click Share, and send the link to the file to your coworkers. People with the link can access and edit the document using the Word desktop app or Word Online.

Maintain editorial control

Use the Track Changes function of Word to monitor all edits made to your document. To turn on Track Changes, click on the Review tab, and then select Track Changes. You will then be able to view all changes made to the file by every user, and you will also have the ability to reject or accept suggestions and edits as you see fit.

Use Smart Lookup for research

The Smart Lookup feature helps you do online research while you’re working on a document — no need to open another tab and type in a query. Simply highlight and right-click the word or phrase you want to look up, and select Smart Lookup from the menu that appears. Word uses Microsoft’s Bing search engine to conduct a search on the selected word or phrase, and displays the results in a pane that appears on the right side of your screen.

Format your documents

The Styles gallery contains predefined formatting options for text. You can also add your own styles, or those you use frequently, to the gallery. By saving your own style preferences, you can apply them anytime without having to manually format everything. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select the text you want to format as a new style (e.g., a heading or a certain phrase).
  2. Specify the formatting you want on the mini toolbar that appears. For instance, click Bold and Red if you want the text to appear as such.
  3. Click the More arrow in the lower-right corner of the Styles gallery. Select Create a Style. This will open the Create New Style from Formatting dialog box.
  4. Give the style a name and click OK. Your new style will appear in the Styles gallery, ready for you to use anytime.

Search and use images quickly

With Word, there’s no need to open your browser to look for images for your document. Just place the cursor in the area where you want to insert the photo, click the Insert tab and select Online pictures (type “clip art” in the search box if that’s what you need), select an image, then click Insert.

Edit PDFs

Word’s PDF editing function allows you to make quick changes to PDF files without having to download and use a PDF editing app or software. But before you can edit a PDF file in Word, you have to convert it to a file format that Word can display. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Click File > Open > Browse
  2. Choose the PDF file you want to edit, then click Open
  3. Click OK to make a copy of the PDF file and convert its contents into a format that can be opened in Word. (Note: The original PDF will be preserved.)
  4. Make edits to the copy of the PDF file.
  5. When you’re done, click File > Save as > PDF

Microsoft is constantly rolling out nifty new features for its popular word processor. To stay updated on the latest Word features and functionalities, reach out to our Microsoft experts now.

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Internet bandwidth requirements for remote workers

Working from home is here to stay, and more businesses will continue to implement either a fully remote work policy or adopt a hybrid work model strategy. Some employees, however, may find it difficult to be as productive at home as they are at the office, especially if they don’t have sufficient internet bandwidth. But how much internet bandwidth is necessary to be able to work smoothly?

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the maximum data transfer rate possible in a network or internet connection. It indicates the amount of data that can be sent over a connection in a given amount of time, and is usually expressed in bits per second (bps).

Imagine two computers with the same internet speed at 100 megabits per second (Mbps): the first computer only has a 50 Mbps bandwidth, while the second one has 100 Mbps. If they were to download the same packet with 500 megabits (Mb), the first computer would be able to do it in 10 seconds, while the second one could do it in just 5.

This is because the first computer’s bandwidth is capped at 50 Mbps — even with a high-speed internet service, the limit of transfer would still be low. Therefore, the higher the bandwidth, the more data can be sent over a connection, contributing to faster uploads and downloads and a better internet experience overall.

How much bandwidth do you need for remote working?

To answer this question, you need to factor in the type of work that you do and the apps that you use. If your job mostly consists of sending emails, editing and writing on Google Docs, and communicating on Slack, then you can do your job with ease even with a low bandwidth. On the other hand, if your day-to-day tasks consist of frequently attending meetings through video calls, then you’d need a plan with higher bandwidth.

Once you have a clear picture of how much data you send and receive on an average workday, you can start looking for plans that can support your needs. And while you don’t need to conduct virtual meetings in 4K quality, you also won’t want your clients and colleagues to appear pixelated during a meeting. Neither would you want a session that gets choppy or cut off mid-conversation.

Here are the minimum requirements for the most common video chat apps used by remote workers today:

For 1:1 video calling:

    • 600 Kbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • 1.2 Mbps (up/down) for 720p HD video
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (upspeed)

For group video calling:

    • 800 Kbps/1.0 Mbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • For 720p HD video: 1.5 Mbps (up/down)
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 2.5 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 3.0 Mbps (upspeed)

HD video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 3.2 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 2.6 Mbps with two participants; 3.2 Mbps with five participants; and 4.0 Mbps with 10 participants

Standard definition (SD) video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 1 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 1 Mbps with two participants; 1.5 Mbps with five participants; and 2 Mbps with 10 participants

Video calling:

    • HD: 1.2 Mbps (up/down)
    • SD: 400 Kbps (up/down)
    • The more participants, the higher the bandwidth requirement for downloads: 512 Kbps for three participants; 2 Mbps for five participants; and 4 Mbps for seven people. Upload requirements remain constant at 128 Kbps.

Teams requires the same upload and download internet bandwidth for the following scenarios:

    • At least 30 Kbps for peer-to-peer audio calling
    • At least 1.2 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 720p
    • At least 1.5 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 1080p
    • At least 500 Kbps/1 Mbps for group video calling

If you’re worried about your internet bandwidth, you can opt for audio calls instead of video calls. This considerably helps lower the information you need to upload and download.

For more tips and solutions on how you can work from home without a hitch, call us. We’d be happy to help.

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