The New Normal: When work-from-home means the boss is watching

Credit to Author: Matthew Finnegan| Date: Thu, 29 Oct 2020 03:00:00 -0700

In the midst of a pandemic that’s led to unprecedented levels of remote working, digital tools to monitor employees in real time are gaining popularity among companies looking for new ways to track employee productivity. At the same time, the trend raises concerns about employee privacy and how far companies should be allowed to go to keep tabs on their workers.

Applications such as StaffCop, Teramind, Hubstaff, CleverControl, and Time Doctor include real-time activity tracking, can take screenshots of workers’ computers at regular intervals, do keystroke logging, and record screens. In some cases, the tracking tools can be installed without the knowledge of employees. Companies say they’re focused on transparency and productivity, but privacy groups decry draconian “Big Brother” moves made possible by technology. (Computerworld reached out to several of the vendors for comment; they either did not return messages or could not provide someone to discuss their software.)

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A phenomenal Android privacy feature you probably forget to use

Credit to Author: JR Raphael| Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2020 08:51:00 -0700

It’s amazing how many useful Android features get buried in the operating system and then forgotten over time.

When you stop and think about it, it’s also kind of inevitable: With every passing year, Android grows increasingly robust and complex, as more advanced options make their way into the software. So it’s only logical that certain elements will become out of sight and out of mind and get lost in the shuffle somewhere along the way.

One such item jumped out at me the other day, triggering an immediate “AHAH!” in this rusty ol’ noggin of mine as I remembered its existence and then scolded myself for forgetting to use it all this time. It’s a little somethin’ called Android Guest Mode, and it first showed up way back in the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) era of 2014.

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Microsoft puts Application Guard for Office into public preview

Credit to Author: Gregg Keizer| Date: Wed, 09 Sep 2020 13:34:00 -0700

Microsoft has launched a public preview of “Microsoft Defender Application Guard for Office,” a defensive technology that quarantines untrusted Office documents so that attack code carried by malicious files can’t reach the operating system or its applications.

On Monday, a senior cybersecurity engineer with the Redmond, Wash. company explained how Application Guard for Office worked and more importantly, walked customers through its operation – something that existing documentation omitted when the public preview was launched late last month.

“Microsoft Office will open files from potentially unsafe locations in Microsoft Defender Application Guard, a secure container, that is isolated from the device through hardware-based virtualization,” John Barbare wrote in a post to a Microsoft blog. “When Microsoft Office opens files in Microsoft Defender Application Guard, a user can then securely read, edit, print, and save the files without having to re-open files outside of the container.”

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Google to trial drastically truncated URLs in Chrome in anti-phishing move

Credit to Author: Gregg Keizer| Date: Thu, 20 Aug 2020 04:33:00 -0700

Google will run a trial with Chrome 86, the browser set to release in October, that will hide much of a site’s URL as a way to foil phishing attacks.

“We’re … going to experiment with how URLs are shown in the address bar on desktop platforms,” Emily Stark, Eric Mill and Shweta Panditrao, all members of Chrome’s security team, wrote in an Aug. 12 post to a company blog. “Our goal is to understand — through real-world usage — whether showing URLs this way helps users realize they’re visiting a malicious website, and protects them from phishing and social engineering attacks.”

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At Microsoft Inspire, the new Edge browser took center stage

Credit to Author: Rob Enderle| Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2020 07:31:00 -0700

Disclosure:  Microsoft is a client of the author.

In the new Microsoft, Azure has – to a certain extent – taken over the center stage from the company’s Windows Server platform, and the new Chromium Edge Browser has taken center stage from Windows. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this result as the market rapidly turns from focusing on local hardware to using the Cloud as its primary place to do computing. 

As a result, each new browser update now feels a bit like what the old Windows refresh cycles used to feel like – but without the old compatibility drama. 

Microsoft Inspire took place this week, so let’s talk about the browser’s new features, mostly focused on business users (now mostly working from home) that look compelling. 

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Amid the pandemic, using trust to fight shadow IT

Credit to Author: Ryan Faas| Date: Wed, 20 May 2020 03:00:00 -0700

Shadow IT, where workers sometimes go rogue in their efforts to solve business problems, can create challenges – and opportunities – for companies in the best of times. With the COVID-19 pandemic still unfolding, these are not the best of times. With most employees and executives still working from home, the big issue for administrators and IT pros still centers on how to make things work in today’s trying circumstances.

Every major platform has controls IT can use, some of them as blunt as a hammer and others that offer surgical precision. At either end of that spectrum lie two common questions: How restrictive does IT need to be and is there a way to fully communicate areas of risk while making business more secure.

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(Insider Story)

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Vivaldi joins anti-tracking browser brotherhood

Credit to Author: Gregg Keizer| Date: Thu, 23 Apr 2020 03:00:00 -0700

Niche browser maker Vivaldi Technologies this week released version 3.0 of its eponymous application, which included integrated ad- and tracker-blockers.

Both tools were disabled by default in the new version, which was released Wednesday. “We believe that many users would not wish to prevent the sites they like to visit from generating revenue, and for that reason, we don’t enable Ad blocker by default,” wrote Jon von Tetzchner, co-founder and CEO of Vivaldi, in a post to a company blog.

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The coronavirus is revealing our technology blunders

Credit to Author: Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols| Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2020 03:00:00 -0700

You’ve lost your job and now you face an obsolete, sluggish unemployment system that feels like it was written in the 1950s. Actually, it’s more than a feeling. If you’re in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut, your unemployment system was written in 60-year-old Cobol. Meanwhile, if you want to apply for unemployment benefits online in Washington, D.C., the system insists you use Internet Explorer. As I recall, IE was put out to pasture five years ago.

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