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Microsoft 365 Spotlight focus: OneDrive

Microsoft 365 has so many different products that users often feel overwhelmed with not knowing which ones to use and how to use them and then end up not using many of them at all. In this blog series we will spotlight each of the Office products and break them down to show you the benefits of using each one and how you can incorporate them into your business to help you to work more efficiently.

OneDrive is the Office cloud service that connects you to all your files. You can store and protect your files, share them with others and access them at any time of the day from any location and from any device. You can share photos, Office documents, other files and entire folders.

One of the biggest benefits to your business is OneDrive’s file sharing and collaboration. This can transform how you work in your business, particularly now that most of us are working remotely and from home. You will no longer have to email large attachments or try to keep track of multiple versions, you can simply save your file to OneDrive, share the file with the relevant people and you will always have the most up-to-date version. This will eliminate any worries of not working on the latest version. There is also an option to view the version history and restore older versions of files if needed at any point.

There is also real-time co-authoring on documents saved on OneDrive, meaning you can work on files at the same time with colleagues and external people. You will be able to see their changes and they will be able to see yours, as you make them. This will increase productivity and will really help to speed up the length of time it takes to get work completed.

If you are worried about keeping your information secure, the files and folders you store in OneDrive are private until you decide to share them. OneDrive files and folders can be shared with colleagues in your business as well as externally, but again, this is completely within your control as you can see who a OneDrive file is shared with and stop sharing any time. You can also restrict the level of access.

OneDrive can also be used to connect you to your files in Microsoft SharePoint and Teams, which we will also cover as part of this series.

If you are not using OneDrive yet, it is definitely worth seriously considering starting to use it within your business. It can transform the way you work with your team and external people. If you feel overwhelmed by all the different features of OneDrive and are confused about how to use it to its full potential, our team at Ilkley IT can help you. We will talk you through every aspect of OneDrive, explaining each feature and how it works to ensure you are up and running and using OneDrive in no time!

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat with you!

Skype for Business (End of Life) – 31 July 2021

Mark the 31 July 2021 in your calendar, a year today is the date that Microsoft announced Skype for Business Online will be retired.  From the 1 September 2019, all new Office 365 customers have been onboarded directly to Microsoft Teams as the default for chats, meetings and calls.

Microsoft Teams has been available now for a number of years and has been gaining favour with users by offering much more functionality than before.  During this recent period of lockdown, Microsoft Teams has really come to the fore with many people relying on it for daily communication and collaboration with their teams and customers.  This is likely to continue with many people continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future and wanting to stay connected with colleagues and customers on a regular basis.

Here are a few pointers on how the functionality of Teams will be of more benefit to you and your business than Skype for Business:

  1. In Teams, the chat log is “persistent” and will be retained for as long as you need it. In addition to the chat itself, all images, files, and links that are sent are kept within the app which makes referencing that data much easier to find in one place.  In Skype for Business, at the end of the day, when the chat is closed, the conversation is no longer available within the app and all archives are kept in Outlook or Exchange.
  2. Team messaging is currently available within both Teams and Skype and both allow multiple contacts to join a group chat. Teams has expanded this functionality and you can now create different “teams and channels” where you can organise chats and shared files by department, project etc.  This provides a very useful searchable archive of all relevant information that users might need to access at some point in the future.
  3. One of the key functions of both applications is the ability to host video conferences. The primary features of Skype for Business Online are all included in Teams, such as call recording, screen sharing, and file uploading.  Teams have added some useful options:
    • Background blur and virtual backgrounds for video
    • Live captions
    • Full meeting recording
    • Live events with access available to users outside of Teams

One of the biggest benefits of Teams, which is key and has proven to be transformational for businesses, is the integration of 3rd party apps and custom power app flexibility. With this functionality, all your daily work functions can be consolidated into one place and be completely streamlined within Teams.

Also, within Teams you can edit documents such as Word or Excel files without having to open those applications separately.  This allows you to collaborate on documents together in real time in the cloud, rather than emailing documents back and forth and saving local copies on machines.  This makes sharing of information and data simple and easy.  All files that are worked on will be added to a collaborative SharePoint site which will allow all the benefits of SharePoint to be deployed in one location.  If you are still wondering about the benefits of moving your business to the cloud, read our blog post here about how the cloud can help your business.

And finally, on Teams, you can give users temporary guest access even if they don’t have Teams and you can also add users who use Teams in external organisations.

Ultimately, Teams includes all the functionality that Skype for Business offers and so much more.  Don’t wait until the 31 July 2021 and be forced into a situation of having to use Teams with no experience of it or any idea how to use it.  If you have been using Skype for Business for a long period of time, it can all seem a bit overwhelming making sure Microsoft Teams is set up correctly and knowing how to use it.  Ilkley IT know all the tips and tricks to help you to set up Teams so that you can use it effectively.  They will take you through each step to ensure that everything is configured correctly so that you use Teams to its full potential.

There is still time to get fully up and running on Teams, but don’t leave it until the last minute, if you are still unsure about switching (before you are forced to!) and want further information on how Teams can be used effectively by each department in your business, read our blog post about it here.

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat about how we can help you get fully set up and operational using Microsoft Teams and in plenty of time before the Skype for Business retirement date!

Just how important is Email Security?

Cyberattacks are rapidly increasing every day with hackers becoming more and more sophisticated and the scams more elaborate than ever before.  It is reported that in 2019, around a third of businesses in the UK identified at least one breach or attack each month. The most common types are phishing attacks comprising 80% along with impersonating emails, viruses, spyware or malware including ransomware.

Let’s look at the jargon being used surrounding these attacks so we can really understand this threat.  Malware is a word used to describe any type of malicious software which usually piggybacks on an email or document containing links, Ransomware is typically spread through phishing emails and Phishing is the use of technology to lure victims into providing sensitive and personal information.

5 ways to identify a phishing email:

  1. If the email asks you to confirm personal information, such as banking details or login credentials, information that you would not usually provide.
  2. The web and email addresses do not look genuine – at a quick glance these might look correct but on closer inspection, they will be slightly varied but intended to look genuine. Hover over any links in the body of the email as these might be malicious.
  3. It is poorly written – if the email is full of spelling and grammatical errors, there is a strong possibility it is a phishing email. Legitimate emails from companies will be written professionally and checked for spelling and grammatical errors.
  4. There is a suspicious attachment – it is always good practice to scan attachments using antivirus software particularly if you receive an email out of the blue with an attachment that you weren’t expecting.
  5. The email is designed to make you panic – it is common that phishing emails will incite panic in the recipient as it will ask for immediate action to be taken on personal items such as bank accounts.

Office 365 has a solution to help protect your emails, files and online storage.  Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) protects your mailboxes, files, online storage, and applications against new, sophisticated attacks. It offers protection for all the major Microsoft apps such as Microsoft Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) offers the following benefits:

  1. Safe Attachments: ATP protects you against unsafe attachments and provides you with a malware-free, cleaner inbox.
  2. Safe Links: ATP blocks users from clicking on malicious links.  If a link they click on is unsafe, the user will either be informed that the site’s been blocked or warned not to visit it.
  3. Spoof Intelligence: This detects when a sender appears to be sending an email on behalf of one or more user accounts within one of your organisation’s domains.  It enables you to review all senders who are spoofing your domain, and then choose to allow the sender to continue or block the sender.
  4. Quarantine: Messages identified by the Office 365 service as spam, phishing mail or potentially containing malware can be sent to quarantine.

The impact of a cyberattack is not only time consuming but costly. One accidental or careless click by an employee has the potential to compromise your entire network.  Office 365 Advance Threat Protection offers industry-leading, comprehensive protection, can your business really afford to be without it?

No one is safe from these attacks, all businesses are a potential target and need to remain vigilant, don’t wait until you have been the victim of a cybercrime to take action.    Ilkley IT Services can help you to get the protection you need so that you can have peace of mind and get on with running your business.  Contact us today to find out more.

Using Microsoft Teams in each Department

With many of us continuing to work from home, and the likelihood of this carrying on into the future, the use of video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams has become a daily occurrence.  Also, for people who are going back to the office and having to follow social distancing regulations, using Teams really helps departments across companies to continue to successfully collaborate and continue working effectively.  If you have never used Teams before or have perhaps only used the chat facility, it can feel overwhelming to make the transition to using all the different parts of the software.

Let’s have a look at how Microsoft Teams can help each department individually and improve team collaboration:

Marketing

Marketing teams need to create and collaborate with many groups of people both within the company and outside of it.  Teams provides a shared workspace for all conversations, files and third-party services.  Teams makes it very easy to manage marketing campaigns, social channels, collaborate on content creation and plan events.

Top Tip: Add Adobe Creative Cloud Directly into Teams: https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/product/office/WA104381222?tab=Overview

Sales

Teams can help sales teams to deal with enquiries and quickly build quotations and proposals with input from different stakeholders.  Collaboration, reporting, and knowledge sharing can happen in one place, helping sales professionals everywhere – in the home office and the field – work together to meet sales objectives.

Top Tip: Use with PowerBI to create a dashboard for data relating to forecast and actual sales https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/

Finance

Finance teams need to collaborate on aggregating and reporting on data while conducting business reviews on a regular basis. Teams provides a central hub in which all files, data, conversations and meetings can happen in a single place, safely and securely.

Top Tip: Use file sharing to share monthly or quarterly reports with management or company owners.

Human Resources

Teams can help the HR team to manage recruitment and employee onboarding activities, including sharing CVs and interview notes, keeping track of candidate information, communicating employment decisions, and sharing new employee documents.

Top Tip: https://www.simpleinout.com/ and https://www.attendancebot.com/ are great addons to Teams that help keep track of your team.

IT

Teams provides the IT team with a single hub to collaborate, plan, execute, and manage all phases of infrastructure deployments and rollouts.  It is a very useful tool to help drive transformation and change management across the organisation.

Top Tip: Utilise the chat feature to answer questions your team may have about new systems.

Engineering

Engineers move quickly between ideas, development and deployment of a concept when delivering new features. Teams is integrated with developer tools, enabling continuous discussion across a distributed team to keep projects on track.

Top Tip: Utilise Planner to manage projects and OneNote to organised notes.

Project Management

Project managers often use a myriad of planning, meeting, and communication tools and services. Teams enables collaboration in one central hub with all the tools to organise and share project files, manage stakeholder meetings, and track progress for multiple projects.

Top Tip: Use Microsoft Planner to better manage projects within your team https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/business/task-management-software

If you would like more information about how Teams can be used within your business, download this helpful guide.

It can all seem a bit overwhelming making sure Microsoft Teams is set up correctly, but Ilkley IT know all the tips and tricks to help you to set up Teams so that you can use it effectively.  They will take you through each step to ensure that everything is configured correctly so that you use Teams to its full potential.

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat about how we can help!

5 Top Tips for Working from Home

With the events of the last 3 months, it feels as if almost overnight everything changed.  Businesses have had to be flexible and adjust to the changing environment.  Many people found themselves, for the first time, having to adjust to working remotely and from home.  If it is the first time you are working from home or even if you have worked from home before, but now it is for an extended period, how can you make sure that your workspace is set up effectively to enable you to be the most productive, stay connected with your colleagues and to manage your time efficiently?

Here are our 5 top tips for working from home:

Set up your physical workspace:

This is the most important tip – choose a designated workspace specifically for where you will work, separate from personal space, this will minimise disruptions for you.  This space should have good ventilation and lighting and a proper desk and office chair.  It is important to sit at your desk correctly and have your screen as close to in line with eye level as possible and to have the correct posture.   You will need a secure, password-protected Wi-Fi network and when using a wireless connection, you will need to consider your distance from the router as this may affect the quality of your connection. If you do have the space in your workspace, extra monitors can really increase productivity and help you to get more work done.

Set up your virtual workspace:

Working in the cloud allows you to collaborate and stay productive online from wherever you are working.  Microsoft has products such as OneDrive, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel and Word which make collaborating with colleagues and syncing documents very easy.  With these tools you can make your documents virtual and accessible on the web across all devices.  Always make sure you back up the documents you are working on in the cloud.

How to stay focused:

For many people it is the first time you are working from home and so it might feel very strange and take a while to get used to it.  It is important to create a routine, wake up at the same time every day and give yourself enough time to do everything you need to do before starting work.  Set an ‘end time’ and finish work at the same time every evening so that you can relax before going to sleep.  Tidy up after the day and create to-do lists for the next day.  Block off time for specific tasks.  If you find it difficult to concentrate, try working in 25-minute chunks.  There are many ways to do this, one such app is the Pomodoro Technique (https://bit.ly/2MW5vib) which you can use to manage your time.

Look after your wellbeing:

Have a lunch break and regular screen breaks.  Make time for exercise whether it is 10 minutes or 60 minutes.  Go for a walk and get some fresh air whilst making a call.  It is easy to keep snacking during the day but plan healthy and nutritious meals and stick to designated mealtimes.  Celebrate your achievements throughout the day, for example if you tick something off your to-do list, celebrate it, if you complete a difficult task that you have been putting off, congratulate yourself.  This will keep you motivated to keep powering through your to-do list!  Why not try meditation, this technique can really help to keep you calm, manage stress levels and sleep better.

Remote communication:

It is easier now more than ever to keep connected to your colleagues and clients using one of the many video conferencing platforms such a Microsoft Teams.  Make it a habit to connect frequently with your colleagues either daily or weekly.  Looking specifically at the platform Microsoft Teams, it allows you to record a presentation to a client or training with colleagues, which you can then share afterwards, it also gives you the facility to share your screen during meetings and facilitates  collaboration through the chat facility, making it easy to send a quick message or share a document, updates etc.  Using a camera on video calls helps you to connect with colleagues and clients, read our 5 Top Tips for Successful Video Conferencing for more about this topic.

If you need help with adjusting to working from home, setting up a secure workspace and solving Wi-Fi or printer issues, then the team at Ilkley IT can help you to make sure you are set up to work effectively and productively.  Ilkley IT can also offer advice and recommendations on the Microsoft Products mentioned and get you up and running and using them very quickly and easily.  Contact us today, we would love to have a chat about how we can help!

Why you should be using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for everything

In this digital age we live in, it seems that there is no end to the attacks that hackers are coming up with and using to target businesses and innocent people.  The malicious attacks and data breaches continue to be more sophisticated and elaborate than ever before and cybercrime shows no signs of slowing down!  Thankfully, there is action that businesses can take to protect themselves and add an additional level of security to protect their online accounts and systems and this is where Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) comes in.  

 What is 2FA? 

 2FA is a second layer of security to protect an account or system.  When you log on to an account or system, you will need to go through two layers of security before being granted access. This might be in the form of code generated via an app or sent as a text message.  

 Why should I use 2FA? 

In general, people tend to use passwords that are very easy to remember or use the same password for multiple accounts.   If a security question is requested during an account set up, usually this is also information that can easily be found out through all your interactions on social networks and other activities online.  This makes life very easy for hackers and leaves your accounts and systems very exposed to cyber-attacks.   Cyber attackers can also use software on their systems to try and crack your password.  The weaker the password, the easier it is for them to crack it.  

The first important thing to do is to use stronger passwords and this is where a password manager is very useful.  2FA then provides you with an extra layer of protection.  It might be easy for cyber criminals to try and guess your password, but it will be very hard for them to guess the second authentication factor as the code changes every 30 seconds.  This drastically reduces the chances of you being hacked.  In an article written by Microsoft, they report that users who enable 2FA for their accounts will end up blocking 99.9% of automated attacks.  

 How to get 2FA working 

There are a few different 2FA methods that can be used, it might be a code issued by your bank when you are using internet banking or a one-time password (OTP) which is sent to your mobile phone.  Authentication apps are a more secure option to use than text message codes as it is easier for a hacker to gain access to text messages than it is for them to gain physical access to your phone and generate a code without you knowing it.  

 Ilkley IT recommend using the Microsoft authenticator app for your Microsoft accounts and Authy for all your other accounts.  One of the advantages of using Authy is that you can use the app on your phone and your other devices such as desktops or laptops. 

 Which sites allow 2FA 

More and more sites are adding the additional level of protection and supporting 2FA when you log on to your accounts on their sites.  You can check which websites offer 2FA by visiting this site https://twofactorauth.org/. 

You can see if 2FA is enabled on your Office 365 account by logging in here: https://aka.ms/mfasetup. If it’s enabled you will be given options to setup 2FA.  

Don’t wait until you have been a victim of a hack or data breach, to introduce 2FA into your businesstake action today.  The team at Ilkley IT can help and can talk you through the steps to enable 2FA on all your Microsoft 365 accounts.  Contact us today to get this essential second layer of security setup, you will be so relieved you did