Lineal awarded Cyber Essentials Plus Certificate

Lineal are proud to announce that we have officially achieved Cyber Essentials Plus certification.

Our operations passed a number of essential vigorous vulnerability tests of our cyber security with flying colours. Cyber Essentials Plus is the advanced level of certification offered by the government-accredited Cyber Essentials scheme; supported by the UK National Cyber Security Centre – a public facing arm of GCHQ.

The external audit of a sample of our systems saw a 100% pass rate across all PC and devices – thanks to the hard work of our in-house Cybersecurity team who worked tirelessly to ensure our success.

Attainment of CE Plus certification showcases our dedication to protect and respond to the needs of our customers. This allows us to not only have peace of mind about the high standard of Lineal’s cyber protection, but also presents opportunities for us to more effectively assist your business in achieving the Cyber Essentials certificate.

Hackers’ methods have evolved in recent years, leading to a huge rise in phishing and malware attacks with over 86% of businesses experiencing some form of cyber attack since 2017. The need for a comprehensive cyber security standards within your organisation has never been greater.

Suitable for businesses of all sizes and sectors, Cyber Essentials certification helps to demonstrate that your organisation takes cybersecurity and its clients’ data protection seriously – ensuring trust from your customers.

Contact us today to assist with your organisation’s application and ongoing compliance. You can refocus on your core business, safe in the knowledge experienced technicians will be able to help you meet the requirements for successful certification or re-certification.


UK’s PSTN network phase out gains momentum

Openreach’s progression to phase out the PSTN network as “End of Life” and cease it by 2025 has picked up speed, with new test switch off locations revealed.

The network subsidiary of BT have continued their transfer of customers away from legacy analogue Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to a new fully digital network. The rollout aims to shift all clients to phone lines operating on the Internet Protocol (IP) route by 2025.

A list of services being decommissioned include analogue phone lines, ADSL and FTTC ‘superfast’ broadband connections, ISDN phone lines and other services such as traffic lights, motorway signs, analogue fax and alarms lines.

The IP routing system is in correlation with the nation-wide shift to fibre to the premise (FTTP) broadband to around 15 million homes and businesses that will rely on fibre optic cabling for the entire journey from the exchange.

Although 2025 feels a long time away, many businesses have already made the switch to an all-digital model with their communications setup moving to the cloud, calls being conducted over IP routing and enabling the opportunity for advanced video calling.

Lineal are here to make this migration over to a digital future as smooth as possible. Check with us to assess which analogue phone line services your business or organisation still uses and to find out whether your area is part of a published FTTP roll out in the near future.

Additionally, Openreach have announced 86 new copper network switch-off locations covering approximately 500,000 UK premises. This marks a rapid expansion from the original two test locations of Mildenhall and Salisbury where legacy PTSN services and its associated WLR hardware were removed from the commercial market.

James Lilley, director of managed customer migrations at Openreach stated that “ultimately, the plan is to withdraw all services that rely on the old PSTN by December 2025 and, from that point on, communications providers will own the delivery of voice services. We are upgrading the UK’s digital infrastructure as we build our full-fibre network to 25 million homes and businesses by 2026”.

To learn more about how Lineal can help your business or organisation’s migration to the digital future, follow the link for details or drop us a message on [email protected]


The Haunting of ‘PrintNightmare’ – Windows patches released

Microsoft have delivered emergency out-of-band patches for the PrintNightmare zero day print spooler vulnerability with more on the horizon.

The bug, CVE-2021-34527, is existent in all versions of Windows and exploits a remote code execution vulnerability where the Windows Print Spooler service improperly performs privileged file operations.

This vulnerability means that a cyber attacker could run arbitrary code leading to instilling programs; view, change or delete data and even go so far as to create new accounts with full user system rights for exploitative purposes on the system.

A cautionary Microsoft statement released outlined the situation with “the security updates released on and after July 6, 2021 contain protections for CVE-2021-1675 and the additional remote code execution exploit in the Windows Print Spooler service known as ‘PrintNightmare’, documented in CVE-2021-34527.”

Patches released are available for Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, a variety of supported versions of Windows 10 and the no longer supported Windows 7.

However, Microsoft announced that security updates are not currently available for Windows 10 version 1607, Windows Server 2012 or 2016 and urges prompt installation of its patches to deter any attacks via the domain controller when made available in due course. Microsoft also offer workarounds to those unable to download the July patches including the shutting down of the Print Spooler Service and the disabling of inbound remote printing through group policy.

The proof of concept (PoC) was accidentally released by Chinese technology group Sangfor on GitHub, but was cloned and cached before the researchers realised their mistake and took down the PoC. The group were under the impression that the exploit had already been patched as part of Microsoft’s CVE-2021-1675 patch – a patch that Microsoft confirmed was distinct about a different attack vector and vulnerability issue associated with RpcAddPrinterEx.

The situation is continually updating and the latest news on Windows patch releases can be found here.


Windows 11: everything you need to know about Microsoft’s latest OS

Windows’ latest operating system offering was unveiled today at their virtual event, boasting the arrival of the “next generation of Windows”.

The announcement comes somewhat of a shock to the tech world who were told that Windows 10 would be the final version of the Windows OS with over 1.3 billion user devices.

However due to the rapidly changing, hybrid working environment emerging from the pandemic and the announcement that Windows 10 would no longer receive extended support past 2025, it appears that Microsoft are updating the OS platform to incorporate the working from home demands from its users.

Microsoft CEO Natya Sadella agreed saying “We need to be empowered to choose the applications we run, the content we consume, the people we connect to, and even how we allocate our own attention”. He further stated that “operating systems and devices should mould to our needs, not the other way around.”

New centralised task bar interface layout in night mode

These demands are being met with features such as tighter integration with Microsoft Teams directly into the centralised task bar (a significant shift away from the attachments to Skype) and the blending of the Xbox Series X’s Auto HDR graphical enhancements along with Xbox Games Pass; both come pre-installed.

The focus of Windows 11 revolves around the simplification of the standard Windows user interface whilst increasing performance and multitasking functionality. Microsoft executive, Panos Panay revealed that Windows 11 Updates are 40% smaller that its OS predecessors and gone are the days of work being interrupted by Windows Updates as they now are downloaded and installed without the need for system shutdown.

Snap Layouts for compartmentalisation of multiple screens

Additionally, the new ‘Snap Layouts’ promote easier movement of apps to defined compartments of the screen for easier multitasking and the OS will remember collections of apps open on external monitors when the PC/Laptop is unplugged thanks to ‘Snap Groups’ – mirroring certain characteristics of the cancelled, dual screen Windows 10X project.

A further major change comes as part of the Microsoft Store which, through Microsoft’s partnership with Intel and Amazon, now allows developers to distribute their apps through the Microsoft Store without sharing revenue and Windows systems will be able to support Android apps using the Amazon AppStore. Developers can even use their own payment systems within the Microsoft Store.

Before today’s virtual launch, a first build of the OS was leaked allowing for a quick glimpse of the evolved ‘Sun Valley’ interface – with a Start Menu in the centre of the main task bar with a return of Windows Widgets in the form of an AI-powered personalised feed. Widget types include a news feed, maps and weather. This evolution of Widgets signals the quiet removal of the controversial Live Tiles introduced with Windows 8.

Windows 11 will be available as a free update to existing Windows 10 users requiring 64 GBs of storage and 4GBs of RAM, but only for ‘eligible PCs’ – those with two or more cores and a clock speed of 1GHz or higher.

A preview early test version of the new system will be released for app developers as part of the Windows Insider beta testing programme in the beginning of July 2021. A public access version is expected to be made available in October 2021 without new hardware speculated to be released alongside.

 


Google Workspace Individual announced – new teleconferencing functionalities for SMBs

Google Workspace, previously known as G Suite, was launched back in October 2020 and served as a combination of Google’s apps such as Docs, Slides and Gmail which was only available for businesses and enterprises initially who paid a subscription fee for a G Suite business account.

The standard Workspace productivity site service has now been made free to everyone with a Google account and this is set to see growth to the already three billion strong Workspace users currently as Google attempt to rival both Microsoft Teams and Zoom in the videoconferencing and workplace collaboration market spheres.

Workspace’s recent updates have included a plethora of new functionalities including changes to Google Meet to enable collaboration equity, the development of ‘Rooms’ in Google Chat to ‘Spaces’ and new privacy/security settings across Workspace.

A highlight of the new security features introduced is that Google will offer users client-side encryption where they will be able to shield their data with encryption keys they possess making the data indecipherable to Google themselves or potential cyber criminals.

One major feature of the 14th June update rollout was the announcement of Google Workspace Individual. Priced at $9.99 per month, Workspace Individual expands the productivity suite’s availability to small businesses with options to upgrade their Gmail accounts for calendaring, email newsletter and video chat capabilities.

Google states that Workspace Individual allows the user to “create a secure collaboration space in Google Chat to keep everyone up-to-date, share ideas, and keep track of all your important info in one place, from videos and pictures of your last trip to a Google Sheet of your family’s annual budget”

Workspace Individual is deploying out soon to six markets, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and Japan.


Fastly internet outages affecting Europe and North America

A number of retail, news and social media websites experienced internet downtime caused by an outage at the global website cloud hosting service, Fastly.

For an hour from 11am BST today, users of Fastly’s hosting service including gov.uk, PayPal, Amazon and a whole host of other major company websites were greeted with and “Error 503 Service Unavailable” detailing problems with the cache server.

By 12.09pm BST, Fastly released a statement saying that their global network was coming back online and that it had been “investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN [content delivery network] services”. However, users were still met with slow loading times and sporadic access to multiple companies’ websites.

Error 503 message that greeted those trying to access the affected websites

When functioning correctly, CDNs such as Fastly aim to improve website security from denial-of-service attacks and reduce loading time for images, videos and HTML pages whilst managing sudden web traffic clusters for their customers’ websites.

ESET commented on the outage and its implication going forward with “whether it be malicious or otherwise, this highlights the importance and significance of these vast hosting companies and what they represent” – adding weight to the growing responsibility that these CDN providers have over global Internet control and access.

The outage raises security concerns over the over-centralisation of the internet in the hands of a few major hosting providers and asks questions about its reliability in the future should a larger scale problem like this occur again – demonstrating that we have not learned our lesson from the past hosting service outages as exemplified by the Cloudfare crash of 2019.

Full list of all websites affected below:

AFR, Age, Amazon, Boots, BuzzFeed, CNN, Deliveroo, Etsy, Evening Standard, Financial Times, Giphy, Horse and Hound, IGN, Imgur, Independent, Kickstarter, Le Monde, New York Times, PayPal, Pinterest, Reddit, Royal Mail, SMH, Spotify, Taboola, The Guardian, The Verge, Twitch, Twitter, UK Government website (including HM Revenue and Customs), Vimeo and Weightwatchers

 


eBay rules out PayPal as a seller payment option

eBay has announced that from 1st June, sellers will not be able to manage monthly billing statements or incoming payment transactions on PayPal after the two companies ended their 19-year partnership.

In a statement, eBay explained that they “now manage the end-to-end selling experience on our marketplace, including payments” and that sellers who do not update their payment details will “lose their eligibility for future selling fee promotions”.

Buyers will still have the option to make payments via PayPal, but the money will be sent directly to the bank account of the seller rather than their PayPal account raising concerns over the security of future online purchasing on the site. The move also means that buyers will automatically have access to every payment option available – including credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and PayPal Credit.

Sellers no longer have to pay attributed PayPal fees; however, eBay will increase its fees slightly as sellers need to connect their actual bank account to their eBay account. The new fee system is now 12.8% of the final payment amount including delivery plus 30p in the UK while the old system was 10% for eBay plus PayPal’s fees, plus UK 30p.

Additionally, one of the biggest impacts will be time for payments to clear – most payments will now take two business to make their way into the seller’s bank account rather than the PayPal standard of same day receipt.

This is the latest in a long line of eBay’s decisions that has been accused of favouring buyers – in this case at the expense of the seller. Fearful sellers have speculated over the worry over eBay having direct access to their bank account and the increasing potential bias that eBay has towards protecting buyers thus further opening the door for fraudsters to buy a product on eBay, swap it for a damaged or different item, and return the package demanding a refund.

The video below demonstrates the ‘simplification’ of the eBay payment process:


FragAttacks: how they can devastate your WiFi devices

A new set of fragmentation vulnerabilities have been discovered which have the capacity to affect all WiFi enabled devices dating back to 1997.

There have been 12 identified separate vulnerabilities discovered by New York University Abu Dhabi researcher Mathy Vanhoef, named FragAttacks (fragmentation and aggression attacks) which have a dangerous data exfiltration potential to gather information about the owner of a WiFi enabled device and export it to a within-range attacker or to run malicious code to compromise the device; bypassing WEP and WPA security protocols.

Vanhoef announced that more than 75 tested Wi-Fi devices are affected by at least one of the FragAttacks vulnerabilities, but a majority of the devices are impacted by multiple CVEs. These tested devices included Huawei, Google, Samsung and Apple for mobile devices; computers from Dell, Apple and MSI; Xiaomi and Canon IoT devices; Asus, Linksys and D-Link routers; and Aruba, Lancom and Cisco access points.

Furthermore, the identified CVEs had the capacity to erroneously reassemble fragments encrypted under different keys, process fragmented as full frames and not clear fragments from memory when (re)connecting to a network. These vulnerabilities are named ‘FragAttacks’ due to the issues on how the WiFi network dissipates and then reorders data for easier transmission before reassembly at the receiving endpoint device.

Despite the existence of these unearthed vulnerabilities, WiFi Alliance released a statement saying that “There is no evidence of these vulnerabilities being used against WiFi users maliciously” and suggests protection methods to users through downloading “routine device updates that enable the detection of suspect transmissions or improve adherence to security implementations”

The video below demonstrates how the 12 discovered vulnerabilities can be used as a stepping stone to launch advanced malware attacks:


Security updates released for Adobe Reader zero-day vulnerability to arbitrary code execution

Adobe is warning customers of a critical zero-day bug that is active in the wild affecting its Adobe Acrobat PDF reader software.

The bug, tracked as CVE-2021-28550, affects eight versions of Adobe software (full list below) and exploits vulnerabilities in the software including arbitrary code execution, memory leaks and exposure of private information.

10 critical and four important vulnerabilities were addressed in Adobe Reader and Acrobat in addition to five critical flaws in Adobe Illustrator that were resolved by Tuesday’s security patch release. The technical specific details of the bug were not available to Adobe software users until after the 43 patch fixes were downloaded which meant that before manual user installation, the zero-day bug allowed for hackers to execute virtually any command on targeted systems.

Users can download these new security fixes by initiating the auto update feature of Acrobat and Reader by going to Help –> Check for Updates and installing via the Adobe Download Centre. This will remove the user intervention necessity to manually install security updates and allows Adobe products to update automatically upon detection of patch releases.

List of affected Adobe software versions:

– Acrobat DC, 2021.001.20150  and earlier versions - Windows

– Acrobat Reader DC, 2021.001.20150  and earlier versions – Windows

– Acrobat DC, 2021.001.20149  and earlier versions - macOS

– Acrobat Reader DC, 2021.001.20149  and earlier versions – macOS

– Acrobat 2020, 2020.001.30020 and earlier versions – Windows & macOS

– Acrobat Reader 2020, 2020.001.30020 and earlier versions – Windows & macOS

– Acrobat 2017, 2017.011.30194  and earlier versions – Windows & macOS

– Acrobat Reader 2017, 2017.011.30194  and earlier versions – Windows & macOS


7.5 Million at risk from out-of-date ISP routers

Consumer watchdog Which? have investigated 13 legacy router models supplied by leading UK internet service providers (ISPs) including EE, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone – a report discovered that around 7.5 million internet users are at risk from out-of-date hardware.

Out of the 13 router models investigated, 9 presented pressing security flaws that are unlikely to be in compliance with upcoming UK government legislation around tackling the security of connected devices.

The new legislation is in response to government figures showing that 49% of UK residents have purchased at least one smart device since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Due to this huge increased national scope of vulnerability to potential cyber-attacks, the proposed legislation will ban easy to guess default passwords across all, enforces policies to make it easier to report software bugs that can be exploited by hackers on legacy or modern hardware.

Kate Bevan, Which?’s Computing Editor, commented that “proposed new government laws to tackle devices with poor security can’t come soon enough – and must be backed by strong enforcement.” Which? are simultaneously pushing for increased transparency from ISPs about how customers automatically or manually update their routers and how they should actively upgrade existing customers who are identified as being in the ‘at risk’ category.

Of those 7.5 million affected, 6 million users currently possess ISP hardware that has not been updated since 2018 and a few instances even as far back as 2016 – meaning that these vulnerable devices have not received security updates for defence against the latest threats posed by cybercrime.

A cluster of three main problems with ISP legacy hardware were identified by Which? ranging from weak default passwords that allow cybercriminals unlimited access to a router from anywhere, a lack of firmware updates and a local network vulnerability issue with EE Brightbox 2 giving potential hackers full control of the router to install malware or malicious spyware.

In response, Virgin Media have openly rejected Which?’s report conclusions; saying that 9 out of 10 customers are using their latest router models and are benefiting from regular router security updates. This sentiment was mirrored by BT Group (owners of EE), TalkTalk and Vodafone who announced that the HHG2500 device included in the Which? report has not been supplied since August 2019.

Devices with weak default passwords: TalkTalk HG635, TalkTalk HG523a, TalkTalk HG533, Virgin Media Super Hub 2, Vodafone HHG2500, Sky SR101 and Sky SR102.

Routers affected by lack of updates: Virgin Media Super Hub, Virgin Media Super Hub 2, Sky SR101, Sky SR102, TalkTalk HG523a, TalkTalk HG533 and TalkTalk HG635.

Routers that passed the Which? security tests: BT Home Hub 3B, BT Home Hub 4A, BT Home Hub 5B and Plusnet Hub Zero 2704N


Microsoft Teams now has over 145 million daily users

Microsoft, continuing the trend of growth in online communications during the COVID-19 pandemic, has informed on social media that their telecommunications app Microsoft Teams now has over 145 million daily users.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams amassed an estimated 32 million daily active users – with an increase to 75 million users as the reliance on digital tools from the need to work at home dramatically amplified.

The figure is estimated to be about a 26% growth since October 2020 where there was an average of 115 million active users daily. This rapid growth in users has been paralleled with the expansion and inclusion of new features to the telecommunications app including the continual development of Teams Connect which allows the user to share channels with anyone internally or externally to their organisation, virtual meeting whiteboards and background effects for working at home environments; to name a few.

In relation to its competitors, Zoom revealed they had 300 million daily participants and Google Meet displayed 100 million daily participants. It must be noted that both these apps do not record daily users individually, but rather daily participants which implies that a single user could be logged several times if they attend multiple meetings during one given day. However, all these apps have undoubtedly experienced a rapid upsurge in user counts throughout 2020 and 2021 regardless of their user calculation systems.

CEO Natya Sadella states that the “digital adoption curves aren’t slowing down. They’re accelerating and it’s just the beginning”.

Future plans for feature incorporation into Teams include the interoperability with the new Microsoft Mesh, powered by Azure, which promises to be the office meeting’s digital leap into mixed reality technology combining both the physical and virtual world into one shared interactive environment.

For the Teams app itself, Microsoft has promised a host of new capabilities including end to end user encryption for one-on-one voice calls, ability to lock meetings to prevent unauthorised guests from attending and business branded lobbies where admins will be able to add custom logos to their Teams experience.


Apple 2021: Spring Loaded Event

In yesterday’s Spring Loaded Event, Apple unveiled its 2021 offering to the world of technology: including the new iMac, iPad Pro and AirTag.

The iMac 2021, starting a $1499, arrives with Apple’s M1 chip which replaces the Intel Comet Lake processors from the previous year’s model – boasting 4 FireStorm and separate IceStorm CPU cores, 16 billion transistors and promises up to 3.9x faster video processing and 7.1x faster image processing.

Furthermore, the chassis has been completely redesigned with a 50% reduction in width at only ‘11.5 mm thin’ which comes in a spectrum of vibrant colours. The display is at an all-new generous 24 inches consisting of 11.3 million pixels on a 4.5k retina display – a 1080p camera is also included within the new chassis design.

Similarly, the iPad Pro 2021, now functions with the M1 Chip powering a Liquid Retina XDR display; exhibited on a 12.9-inch model screen. Starting at $749, the iPad Pro now has Thunderbolt and USB4 support which allows for increased manual connectivity to external storage, camera and accessories. The 2021 model also boasts a 12MP Ultra-Wide front camera with a 122-degree field of view enabling face tracking and camera panning for enhanced video calling.

 

The launch of the highly anticipated AirTag was an event highlight. AirTags are clip on accessories to track the items you attach them to using the Find My Network on Apple devices. These are set to be released on April 30th, 2021 and to have a price tag of £29. Apple pitch this as an expansion of the ‘Find My’ biome where the “AirTag will provide customers with another way to leverage the power of the Apple ecosystem and enhance the versatility of iPhone” – Kaiaan Drance, Vice President of Apple’s Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing.

Apple Card now allows spouses to share and merge their credit lines, have equal rights on their account and allow for over 13-year-olds to be added into the account with optional spending limits as part of the Apple Card Family. It must be noted that the Apple Card currently only operates in the US.

Apple Podcasts received a redesign of its app interface alongside a new feature: Apple Podcast Subscriptions for new podcasts, ad free listening, early access and content creator support opportunities.

The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini are now available in a purple spray colour – this is in addition to launching the MagSafe Leather Case and new Leather Sleeve in the same Deep Violet Colour Scheme.


NHS COVID-19 update blocked for breaching privacy rules

The NHS COVID-19 app, run by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), has had its latest update blocked due to a breach in the privacy terms outlined by Apple and Google.

NHS Coronavirus app, available on Apple and Android devices, was designed to include a new feature that would allow users (upon showing a positive COVID test result) to upload a list of all locations and establishments they have visited using a phone scan QR code.

The Exposure Notification System built into the app’s software would then alert other users who had entered the same venue to monitor their symptoms or to immediately be tested. This update relies on location tracking for its function – a tracking type heavily reliant on Bluetooth monitoring of surrounding devices with the app installed – outlawed by Apple and Google privacy agreements.

This is the latest in a calamitous string of COVID app mishaps by the UK Government who had only recently scrapped plans for their own rival system to the Apple and Android contact tracing system.

Total development of the UK based rival tracking app cost £12 million over a 3 month period, but was eventually rejected due to battery life issues, privacy concerns over Bluetooth’s potentially invasive interaction with, and data collection from, other apps installed on the device such as Facebook and Twitter. As a consequence, the Apple and Android app was adopted even with the concerns over restrictions of location data.

As the UK returns to a quasi-normal state with Phase 2 of lockdown lifting measures being rolled out today, this news comes as a blow for the Department of Health who have released a statement reassuring the public that the update blockage does not affect the overall functionality of the NHS COVID-19 app and that there are “discussions ongoing with our partners to provide beneficial updates to the app which protect the public”

Instead of the updated version, the previous form of the app will still be obtainable in both the Google Play and iOS App Stores.


32,000 Microsoft Exchange servers still at risk from Hafnium cyber breaches

Microsoft has announced that up to 92% of all stand-alone Exchange servers have been patched, following a mass data breach by Chinese state-sponsored Hafnium cybercrime group.

A mass attack on zero-day Exchange servers through four security vulnerabilities was identified and exploited by Hafnium in early March. Those with at risk servers, according to Microsoft VP Tom Burt, are recognised as 400,000 on-premise Exchange servers belonging to multiple government and corporate data centres including defence contractors, schools and other entities globally.

Consequently, the ProxyLogon security fixes released on 2nd March have mitigated this number significantly with 92% of Exchange servers now protected under the new patches. Nevertheless, Microsoft states that around 32,000 servers remained unpatched and vulnerable to Hafnium cybercrime including theft of confidential sensitive data together with installation of ransomware and ‘corrupted web shells’, such as China Chopper, allowing unrestricted external access to the unpatched Exchange servers.

These security fixes are in conjunction with Microsoft’s Exchange on-premises mitigation tool (EOMT) which installs defender scripts and dependency downloads whilst automatically running the Safety Scanner; troubleshooting any identified problems on the Exchange servers.

However, the patches do not protect servers that have already been compromised from further exploitation, therefore Microsoft has advised that organisations administrators scan their stand-alone networks for potentially installed malicious software and scripts in addition to the scans of EOMT.

The attacks themselves have raised questions over the security maintenance of in-house email servers and adds weight to the growing adoption of cloud-based internet email.


The Virtual Mirage of Microsoft Mesh

Mesh, powered by Azure, is Microsoft’s latest in fourth wave mixed reality amalgamating both the physical and digital world into one multi-layered interactive, shared environment.

Mesh has the capacity, through the use of head mounted units (HMDs) or on-screen devices, to allow multiple individuals across different spatial-physical environments to conduct collaborative meetings, host virtual social events, and allow for group exploration of development ideas.

Individuals ‘log in’ to the shared holographic space as virtual avatars that, upon wearing the HoloLens headset, can interact with the digital project world in front of them, and their changes can be seen by other members of the Mesh meeting. The scope of Mesh’s application in the medical healthcare and engineering industries is phenomenal – especially in their retrospective education and learning sectors. Mesh allows for real-time capture of moving 3D images and utilises visual cartographies to map those images into a functional skeletal model with tracking for key points.

Microsoft CEO Natya Sadella explains that this new digital leap in mixed reality technology is in parallel to that of the “jump from single player to multiplayer gaming” for the world of business meetings. Mesh provides huge potential for cost saving and ease of access for content sharing as company developers can create apps within the software to tailor Mesh to suit their social or business requirements.

Mesh is protected by a comprehensive host of security features including privacy compliance, session management and secure sign-ins with a reliance on Microsoft Live ID for admittance. Additional Mesh security software will be released in conjunction with Mesh emerging from its preview phase in future updates.

Microsoft offers, in current preview form, two apps that are compatible: HoloLens 2 and AltSpaceVR which both act as support applications for the Mesh – providing graphical and administrative enhancements. There are further upcoming plans to integrate current Microsoft apps such as Teams and Dynamics 365 to include the Mesh experience.

Mesh is available in preview form, along with its supporting software apps at: Microsoft Mesh