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Apple computers have long touted enhanced security measures as compared to their PC counterparts. The truth? Macs can be just as vulnerable as PCs.

Apple’s closed system: once a strength, now a downfall

Though their closed system is an advantage over Microsoft, it has recently proven to be a massive downfall. The T2 equipped Macs, meant to be their most secure version yet, has proven vulnerable. Hackers have found that with physical access, security encryption can be compromised entirely.

Usually, Apple would issue a patch (an update) to fortify any openings, but this specific weak spot lives in the hardware of the machines, not the software of the operating system. Hackers can use what is called the Blackbird exploit to boot with root access to the SEP chip in your Mac which stores your most sensitive data: encryption, passcodes, ApplePay, biometric data, etc.

In simpler terms, all Macs with the T2 chip are seriously hackable, and Apple can’t fix it.

What about Macs that don’t have the T2 chip?

Even though this hardware vulnerability is a specific case, Macs have always been and will be susceptible to cybercrime. Though cybercriminals are typically focused on PCs since they are more widely adopted, the rising popularity of Macs is proving to draw their attention. We are seeing more system-agnostic attacks meaning they can be effective on both Macs and PCs.

Beyond the T2 chip vulnerability, all Macs are susceptible to viruses, malware, and web threats. Here are some busted myths:

1. Macs don’t get malware. Even though the system has certain safeguards, users are ultimately the vulnerability when it comes to malware. Actions like opening an unknown attachment, downloading software from malicious sites, or clicking on bad online ads can land you with malware that can sap your system's productivity or worse.

2. Macs don’t need security software. Again, the system is at the mercy of the user. Users can be fooled by phishing emails or prompted to download bad software. Security solutions will stop you before you do something detrimental.

3. My Information is safe on my Mac. Though many cybercriminal attacks are geared towards Pcs, device theft skews towards Mac computers and devices as they are easily identified and highly priced. Make sure that your devices have Find My Mac set up, are password protected, and go through regular data backups to an external storage space.

Should I stop using Macs? How do I protect my device?

We are not at all suggesting that Macs are not suitable for personal or business use. We see the discovery of the T2 chip vulnerability as a timely example to underscore that no matter what devices you are using, you need to take precautions to protect yourself or your business from cybercrime. Here are some basic steps to protect your device:

1. Install security software. Period. There are so many options, finding one with adequate strength and at a reasonable price point is fairly simple. If you run into any issues, we encourage you to give us a call (book a call link), and we would be happy to help you out.

2. Keep on top of software updates. The reason for updates is to improve your device. Though it can be a minor annoyance, keeping your devices up to date ensures you have the most recent security patches and big fixes.

3. Invest in education and training. Especially for businesses, training your employees on how to adhere to security policies and recognize cyberthreats will exponentially decrease their likelihood to put your information at risk.

4. Work with an IT professional. An IT provider can help ensure that you aren’t leaving any holes in your defences, advise you on which tools or software would work best for your organization, and help provide solutions to any IT problems you are facing. Here at Sensible we love giving our clients back their peace of mind, knowing that with all the potential threats out there, we can expertly protect their information and help craft solutions for any problems they encounter. If you need IT assistance, give us a call.

A glaring security mistake has been discovered in Apple’s most recent desktop operating system. It’s not the sort of vulnerability that requires complicated malware or IT knowledge; anyone can learn this exploit in a matter of minutes to steal your password. Here’s how to stop that from happening.

What is the bug?

The vulnerability pertains to sweeping changes in how macOS stores files. In the High Sierra update, the Apple File System (APFS) was introduced to make opening and saving files much faster. As an added bonus, APFS also added advanced features like drive encryption.

However, users who add a second encrypted APFS partition to their computer’s drive aren’t keeping their data safe from prying eyes.

Let’s imagine you want to create a separate storage partition for your work files. The data contains sensitive information so you encrypt the drive and add a password.

If in the course of setting the password you were to provide a password hint, High Sierra will display your password when anyone clicks Show Hint when accessing the drive. You can see how it’s done in this 45-second video.

When anyone can retrieve your password in a matter of seconds, encryption becomes completely pointless.

How to fix this vulnerability

Sadly, the update for encrypted APFS drives requires much more than installing a patch. As such, we do not recommend trying to fix this issue without professional help if your encrypted partition has irreplaceable data. It is a complicated process and could result in data loss.

Apple procedures for fixing the issue if you’ve already encrypted a drive include:

  1. Installing the most recent macOS update
  2. Backing up the encrypted drive
  3. “Unmounting” and erasing the original drive
  4. Creating a new encrypted APFS drive
  5. Entering a new password and password hint
  6. Restoring the backup from Step 2 to the updated partition

Apple’s macOS is a great operating system. It is reliable, secure, and user friendly -- but like any piece of software, it’s not perfect. Don’t make the mistake of assuming macOS is safe enough to protect your data without outside help. For help encrypting your drives or securing your Macs, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

As you may be aware, Apple launched iOS 11 last Tuesday, 19th September, 2017

However, there is a bug in the latest iOS which affects the native Apple Mail app (Mail.app) on your iPhone or iPad which will prevent you from sending or replying to emails.

You might see an error message that says "Cannot Send Mail. The message was rejected by the server."

This will affect you if your email account is hosted by Microsoft on Outlook.com or Office 365, or an Exchange Server 2016 running on Windows Server 2016 you will have this issue.

Although, Apple and Microsoft are trying to resolve this issue - there has been nothing released yet.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

You have these immediate options:

  1. Delay upgrading to iOS 11
  2. Too Late ?
    1. Install the Microsoft Outlook app from the app store (it doesn't have this issue)

OR

B. Rollback to a previous version of iOS

Call us if you are stuck and still having any issues on 1300-SENSIBLE (736-742)

A common reason for running the Windows operating system (OS) on a Mac computer is to bypass compatibility issues. Virtualization is the only way to efficiently install OS-specific software on any machine, so let’s go over some of the ways this solution creates synergy between the two platforms.

Configure an entire machine with a few clicks

With programs like VMware and Parallels, installing Microsoft’s OS on your Mac is almost as easy as creating a new document in Office. The process varies between vendors, but it’s usually akin to clicking File and New and then choosing between Windows XP, 7, 8 or 10, and typing in your product key.

Deciding how much hard drive space and RAM get devoted to your virtual machine is also simple and user-friendly. For example, allocating memory to your Windows partition is done by sliding a marker along a scale that is color-coded based on the recommendations of your virtualization software.

Once you've completed these simple steps, click Finish and the rest will be configured for you.

Picture-in-picture computing

Older OS virtualization solutions forced you to choose which platform you would use by presenting the options while the computer was still booting up. Once you picked one operating system, there was no way to switch without restarting the whole computer.

Now, you can open Windows as if it were just another desktop application. This is especially useful when you need to work in both OSs simultaneously. Just adjust your Windows screen to half the size of your monitor and use the other half for MacOS applications.

Another reason this is so important is because it allows you to run multiple versions of Windows at the same time. Half of your screen could be running an outdated application in Windows XP while the other half is working in Windows 10.

Touchbar support

The customizable touchscreen that was added to Apple’s most recent line of laptops is a great way to create shortcuts and increase productivity. Virtualization applications have added Touch Bar support so you can use it to interact with Windows applications.

For example, a Touch Bar button for opening Cortana -- Microsoft’s AI assistant -- is included in the Parallels virtualization software. Alternatively, you can also use Apple’s keyboard touch screen to toggle between virtual OSs or interact with your Mac while still working in Windows.

Single Application Mode

Containers are a popular subset of virtualization solutions that allow you to give users access to a single application rather than an entire OS. Unfortunately, they are incredibly difficult to set up and manage. Updates to Mac virtualization software have simplified the process with a “Single Application Mode” whereby administrators can grant employees access to preconfigured Windows partitions with only one program installed.

Snapshots

Regardless of whether you’re a certified virtualization professional or a consumer trying to make it work with low-cost software, everyone makes mistakes. With saved configurations of Windows installs known as Snapshots, you can start over without having to set up everything from scratch.

If one of your Windows partitions becomes infected with malware, loading a Snapshot rolls everything back to its original state so you don’t have to configure the virtual hardware or retype the Windows product key. Best of all, restoring a Snapshot is much quicker than a fresh install.

Taking advantage of everything virtualization has to offer involves a lot of IT planning and maintenance. Fortunately, it’s all within reach for small- and medium-sized businesses that partner with a managed IT services provider. Contact us today to learn more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

The future of TV is apps, according to Apple and today, in Australia this future seems to have become a reality. Today marks the day that the new Apple TV (4th Generation) has been released in Australia. If you are not aware, Apple TV is a digital media player that works as a small entertainment appliance that can receive digital content over the internet. This device is connected to your TV. It also allows you to stream content from your Apple devices (iPhone / iPad) to the TV screen.

So what's new in the new 4th Generation Apple TV?

Well, firstly, you can customise your TV to not only include free and pay TV channels but also choose from a broad selection of apps that includes everything from games to travel accommodation services.

Apple TV 4th Generation

Apple believe that the Apple TV isn’t just an upgraded set-top box, but it’s the first “true” TV that articulates Apple’s vision of what the TV viewing experience should be. The Apple TV has it's own app store, so you can download as much content as your heart desires. There is also an ability to search for the content you wish to view across different providers. Searching will now tell you if the content is available through both iTunes and Netflix and lets you choose which service you want. The global search works only for iTunes and Netflix in Australia at this time.

Also the ability to play games on the Apple TV is a new feature made possible by Apple’s powerful A8 chip, and a  new remote control with an internal accelerometer and gyroscope. This means that when you tilt the controls and move it around in your hands things happen onscreen which makes gameplay very quick and responsive

Also, the new Apple TV’s Siri Remote allows you to issue voice commands to the inbuilt microphone in the TV remote control. Siri is able to respond to natural language requests such as “Find me movies with Nicole Kidman....". The remote control doesn’t need regular batteries which is a bonus. Instead, you charge it by connecting the remote to your computer using the lightning-to-USB cable (iPhone 5th Generation or higher cable) provided in the box.

The New Apple TV Interface - Source 9to5mac.com

So, on face value the 4th Generation Apple TV seems to be far superior to the old Apple TV. It’s intuitive, uncomplicated, and systematically thoughtful. Think - Apple's great design again. Only time will tell how much of a monumental product this is, however it is fair to say that this may be the beginning of the future of TV.

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