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  1. Microsoft Offers Up To $30K For Teams Bugs A bug-bounty program launched for the Teams desktop videoconferencing and collaboration application has big payouts for finding security holes. Microsoft wants to send the message the company is serious about the security of its popular Teams desktop application and it’s willing to put some cash behind the talk. A new bug-bounty program offers up to $30,000 for security vulnerabilities, with top payouts going to those with the most potential to expose Teams user data. “The Teams desktop client is the first in-scope application under the new Apps Bounty Program, we look forward to sharing updates as we bring additional apps into this bounty program scope,” the program manager Lynn Miyashita said in her statement about the launch. Researchers can claim five scenario-based awards under the new Apps Bounty Program, ranging from $6,000 to $30,000, with the highest payouts available for “vulnerabilities that have the highest potential impact on customer privacy and security,” the company said. General bounties are awarded between $500 and $15,000, with other incentives: Standout bug hunters can earn a spot on Microsoft’s “Researcher Recognition Program” and eligibility for the yearly MSRC Most Valuable Security Researcher list, Miyashita explained. Security researchers with Teams online vulnerabilities to report will still submit those through the Online Services Program, the announcement added. Bug-Bounty Programs Inspire Customer Confidence Beyond offering a nice payday for security researchers, the move to dedicate a bug-bounty program gives Microsoft some brand support to customers, judging from a recent survey. Conducted by the Ponemon Institute and commissioned by Intel, the poll found that three-quarters of IT pros in charge of purchasing tech prefer to buy from vendors who are proactive about security. Bug-bounty programs are increasingly part of that package. “Security doesn’t just happen,” Suzy Greenberg, vice president, Intel Product Assurance and Security, said about the Poneman Institute survey findings. “If you are not finding vulnerabilities, then you are not looking hard enough.” Certainly, the cloud-collaboration market has seen plenty of security bugs and breaches in recent months, particularly following lockdowns, when these services became vital to everyday business. Collaboration App Security Storm Teams has been used in phishing lure scams, and last fall attackers used fake Teams updates to target users with malware. Rival cloud-collab service Zoom has also had its share of embarrassing security fails, including a vanity URL zero-day flaw discovered last July, re-occurring Zoom bombings, impersonation attacks and this month’s Zoom screen-sharing glitch, which “briefly” leaked sensitive data. The launch of Microsoft’s bug bounty program will both help root out these flaws before they become headlines and signal a renewed commitment to proactive security. “Partnering with the security research community is an important part of Microsoft’s holistic approach to defending against security threats,” Microsoft’s Miyashita wrote. Source: Microsoft Offers Up To $30K For Teams Bugs
  2. Google is working on an initiative to streamline its suite of mobile and browser-based apps for businesses into a singular experience, according to The Information. The app would combine Gmail, Drive, Hangouts Meet, and Hangouts Chat all in one interface, and would provide easier hooks into products like Google Calendar. Google is notorious for its confusing collection of communication apps, from Hangouts Classic to Hangouts Meet and Duo, as well as others that have been killed off (Wave: never forget), and has stumbled with integration before. Competition is good, obviously — The company’s unification is clearly designed to push back against Microsoft's growth of its Teams product with larger, more established companies. Additionally, Slack has become the de facto method of realtime collaboration and communication among startups. Slack has made integrations with Google products simple while pushing users away from traditional chat like Hangouts, while Microsoft has gone through a renaissance of sorts, releasing a bevy of redesigned communications apps, like Outlook, to positive reviews. The details — The app is expected to be exclusive to G Suite, meaning it would primarily be available to enterprise businesses using Google’s apps rather than the general public. It’s intended to help Google better compete against increasing competition from Microsoft, which through its Teams product has combined a suite of functions including workplace chat and VoIP calling into one app. Teams has been growing quickly in part because it's included with Office 365. Microsoft says it has 20 million monthly active users, more than its main rival Slack (although there’s some debate about whether Microsoft’s users are truly active). It’s unclear exactly how smashing a bunch of separate apps into one would be beneficial, but The Information posits the move would make it easier for IT managers to manage the apps used by their employees because they’d have fewer to monitor. Google already provides a dashboard for admins to manage teams through its G Suite apps console, but this new effort will apparently take a more holistic approach. Owning big business — Developing software that large companies embrace is crucial because businesses, of course, are willing to pay handsomely for a managed offering, and are often unwilling to switch platforms once settled in. It also offers an inroad to selling cloud server space, one of Google's fastest growing businesses. Besides the unified enterprise app, Google also recently announced it’s killing off App Maker, a drag-and-drop tool for G Suite businesses to create custom internal apps. These apps could do things like host internal forum discussions or provide employees with easy to use forms for submitting information to a database. The company recently acquired a company called App Sheet that does largely the same thing, however. Source
  3. Microsoft Teams updated with live captions, more on Android and iOS The Microsoft Teams app on Android and iOS is getting new features to help increase the functionality of the app (spotted by OnMSFT). On the heels of the Redmond giant offering premium-tier features to all Teams users for free, the service an increase of 12 million new users. The move is aimed at providing users with more features, especially those that are working from home due to the Coronavirus outspread. The new features include the ability to turn on live captions during a Teams meeting. This feature works even with group calls. With a majority of users working from home to contain the spread of the virus, this feature is especially helpful for when there is a lot of background noise during a call, making it difficult for users to hear attendees speak. Other additions include the ability to view content shared between users when joining a meeting, right from the mobile device. iOS users can also quickly make a call by long-pressing the app icon and using the shortcut on the home screen. Here is the full changelog for the Android app: Turn on live captions during a meeting or group call View shared content when you join a meeting via a cellular phone call PSTN callers will hear music while they are on hold Bug fixes and performance improvements The changelog for the iOS app is as follows: Turn on live captions during a meeting or group call View shared content when you join a meeting via a cellular phone call PSTN callers will hear music while they are on hold Get a link to channels to share with others Long press the app icon for a shortcut to make a call Get a tone and vibration alert for incoming calls while on a call Bug fixes and performance improvements While the iOS app seems to have begun receiving the update today, the Android version of Teams began receiving the new features sometime last week. You can head to the Google Play Store here or the Apple App Store here to download the app. Source: Microsoft Teams updated with live captions, more on Android and iOS (Neowin)
  4. Microsoft unveils Teams-equipped 365 subscription for front-line workers The new plan, priced at at $4 per user per month, gets the Microsoft 365 F1 moniker and is due to arrive April 1. Thinkstock / Xresch / Microsoft Microsoft has announced a new Microsoft 365 plan that will serve as the bottom rung for a group it has dubbed "firstline workers," people who take calls, ring up sales, interact with customers and spend their shift on factory floors or in the field. The subscription, unveiled last week, will be labeled Microsoft 365 F1 and is to go on sale April 1. Because that product title was already taken - a same-named subscription launched two and a half years ago in September 2017 - the previous Microsoft 365 F1 was rebranded as Microsoft 365 F3. (Microsoft has an aversion to even-numbered IDs for its subscriptions.) Not surprisingly considering its lower-numbered name, Microsoft 365 F1 contains fewer components, offers less functionality and costs less than the new F3 (née F1). Microsoft 365 F1 costs $4 per user per month, less than half the $10 per user per month of its older, bigger sibling. (That $10 for what's now marked as F3 was the same as its launch price in 2017.) That price is the same as Office 365 F3, which was also renamed from its previous F1 designation. That subscription offers many of the same bits as the new Microsoft 365 F1 but lacks some of what the latter contains and includes some of what the rival doesn't. Among the former: Office 365 F3 doesn't have access to Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), the comprehensive security and management platform that's in Microsoft 365 F1. Microsoft 365 F1, meanwhile, doesn't include OneDrive for Business storage space or rights to Windows Virtual Desktop, which is available in both Microsoft 365 F3 and Office 365 F3. Another step-down for Microsoft 365 F1 is that the access to online Office and Office Mobile apps is read-only: Workers on F1 will be able to read missives in Word or PowerPoint format, for instance, but cannot create their own. Microsoft The new Microsoft 365 F1 subscription costs less than half of the original - which has been renamed as "F3," spelled out in the middle of the three columns - but lacks many of the components in the higher-priced plan. The original price of Microsoft 365 F1 (now F3...yes, this is confusing) of $10 per user per month was one of the things that stuck out when Redmond debuted the subscription in 2017, for it was more than twice the price of the somewhat-similar Office 365 F1 (which will be dubbed F3 on April 1; more confusion, yes, we know). For $48 annually ($4 per user per month), companies will be able to equip an employee with either Microsoft 365 F1 (the new subscription) or Office 365 F3. There is no plan that combines the two. Instead, Microsoft left the rebranded Microsoft 365 F3, née F1, in that spot, which for the now-and-former $120 a year ($10 per user per month), contains every bit of both, plus a license to Windows 10 and Virtual Desktop rights. Teams, Teams and more Teams Given the COVID-19 pandemic's upending of the workplace and work, Microsoft also made much of the enhanced Teams component in 365 F1. "We are also expanding the Microsoft Teams value included in our Firstline plans (Microsoft 365 F1, Office 365 F3, and Microsoft 365 F3) to include full audio/video capabilities, meeting rights, Walkie Talkie, and adding enhanced identity and access management features," Microsoft's announcement of F1 read. Although the original Microsoft 365 F1 (again, for the last time, it's now F3) included a Teams component, it was a restricted version of the collaboration platform, notably allowing only one-to-one audio/video conversations. Teams in the new F1 - as well as in the renamed version, named F3, and Office 365 F3 - now includes the complete Teams skillset. That should be a selling point for Microsoft 365 F1 and F3, what with the explosion in Teams use as employers have sent workers home. That is, if the front-line employees are still working in some fashion as state after state orders complete lockdowns. Source: Microsoft unveils Teams-equipped 365 subscription for front-line workers (Computerworld - Gregg Keizer)
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