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Microsoft Teams or Zoom? A salesman offers his stunning verdict

If you thought the two videoconferencing tools were more or less the same, listen to those who sometimes have to spend more than eight hours a day on video calls.




A cultural phenomenon?

Screenshot by ZDNet

Lockdown is easing here in California, so I’ve taken the chance to spend a little more distanced time with actual human beings other than my wife.

Last week, I enjoyed a careful drink — or two — with a high-ranking software salesman and a senior executive of a household name in (what might loosely be called) fashion.

Somehow, the conversation got around to Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

To my mind, there’s little difference. I use both. Both work. I see faces, I hear voices and I occasionally smile, while admiring other people’s taste in wall-adornings and casual wear.

Zooming Passions.

Yet suddenly the software salesman — let’s call him Emanuel — offered uncommon vehemence: “Oh, Zoom is a lot better than Teams.”

It is?

“It looks better,” said Emanuel. “It’s got more options for how the participants are arranged on the screen. Everything about it is more intuitive.”

This seemed like a passionate subject for him, so I probed further.

“So which one do you use more often?” I asked.

“Teams,” he replied. “I used Teams first and it was the default because my company uses Microsoft Outlook and there’s always a link right there to add a Teams meeting.”

“So even though you think Zoom is better, you’ll always use Teams?”

“I’m on video calls eight hours a day. I just do what’s easiest.”

“So how do you know Zoom is better?”

“Some of the clients I work with use Zoom,” he said. “They send the link. Zoom is brighter and crisper.”

“And you’re just too lazy to use it all the time?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Some of my meetings are in the middle of the night. You want me to think then?”

Still, though, his passion was peculiar: “Teams is the dumbed-down version of Zoom. Teams is what Big 5 is to Dick’s Sporting Goods.”

Emanuel is something of a sports enthusiast. He often sees things in sports metaphors. But equating Teams to Big 5 — something of a ragtag sporting goods store — seems a little harsh.

Zoom Is Fashionable, Teams Is Barely Tolerable?

At this point the fashion executive — let’s call her Letitia — offered her own metaphor: “Zoom to Teams is like Sephora to Ulta. Or Lululemon to Athleta.”

I was further taken aback by this brand name tsunami. I had no idea so-called power users had such powerful emotions.

Letitia is also forced to be on video for a substantial part of her day. She explained that her company, like Emanuel’s, uses Microsoft Outlook.

“So you use Teams, too, because it’s easier?”

“We’re all Zoom,” she replied.


“We got the plugin and we always used Zoom from the very beginning of the pandemic.”

“Do you remember how this began?”

“I have no idea,” she said.

The feelings in the company about its choice are just as strong as her own: “There is this guy we all really don’t like and he always tries to make Teams meetings. He’s an anomalous cove.”

Honestly, she didn’t say cove at all, but I cling to slivers of decorum around here.

Letitia continued: “As I see it, it’s a cultural decision. I mean, Sephora or Ulta? Seriously? A no-brainer.”

Suddenly, Letitia began to sing “All I Wanna Do Is Zoom, Zoom, Zoom,” from the Wreck-X-N-Effect classic “Rump Shaker.” Did I mention she works in (what might loosely be called) fashion?

Everyone Knows Zoom, Don’t They?

I was tempted to consider whether all this time spent on Teams and Zoom had addled my friends’ minds, but then my wife offered her own cultural perspective.

“We’re on Microsoft Outlook too. We have Teams meetings,” she said, referring to her deliberations with scientific colleagues.

She is, though, an alcohol researcher. Some of her research — her Drink Less For Your Breasts campaign launched last week — involves talking to women aged between 18 and 25.

“I always ask them to talk via Zoom,” she said. “If I told them we’d be chatting on Teams, I don’t think they’d know what I was talking about. Everyone knows Zoom.”

The pandemic has thrown two relatively new brands into people’s lives with an uncommon intensity.

Through some strange quirk of culture, some people appear to be taking deep-seated sides. It’s reminiscent of Apple vs Microsoft in (mostly) olden times.

And again, as in (mostly) olden times, I sense that some people may instinctively rebel against Teams because it’s being forced upon them by the interminable suite that is Microsoft.

By contrast, Zoom is seen as sweet. Many don’t seem aware that it had considerable privacy issues — something Microsoft subtly pointed out — for quite some time. Some are still suspicious of Zoom’s ties to China.

Yet Letitia, who occasionally has to have difficult meetings with staff, did point to what she believes is a Zoom advantage: “Zoom has more security protocols. You can lock the room so no one comes in.”

So much of brand preference lies in what people believe about a brand from the very beginning. As long as that brand doesn’t let them down, they hold on to those beliefs and don’t bother even wondering whether a rival may now have a comparable product.

Both Emanuel and Letitia firmly believe that, as Emanuel described it: “Teams is always playing catchup.”

They used to say that about Apple, too. Not Emanuel and Letitia, but, oh, people who didn’t like Apple.

For me, I’ll happily continue to use both Teams and Zoom. I fear, though, that I’ll now have the image of Teams as Big 5 Sporting Goods lasered into my innards.

That is, as my wife would say, no bueno.

To my mind, there’s little difference. I use both. Both work. I see faces, I hear voices and I occasionally smile, while admiring other people’s taste in wall-adornings and casual wear.




National Australia Bank keeping staff connected with Google Pixel rollout

More than 2,000 Google Pixel devices were issued to NAB’s customer contact teams to enable them to support customers remotely.



15664-android-nab-blog-v2-max-1000x1000.png Image: Google

When National Australia Bank (NAB) recently revised its device strategy to look at new ways it could support the mobility of its employees and reduce the time and cost of support legacy devices across multiple platforms, the big bank partnered with Google to issue more than 2,000 Pixel devices to its customer contact teams.

Each device, managed with Android enterprise, was rolled out by Vodafone using “zero-touch” enrolment to set up the devices and configure each one with the necessary applications.

“With zero-touch enrolment, each Pixel setup was 20 minutes faster than our previous device enrolments, saving our IT team and colleagues over 500 hours during the initiative. With our communication and collaboration apps available right out of the box, our teams could get to work right away to help customers,” NAB Mobility manager Simon Thoday said.

Another consideration of the rollout was how customer data was going to remain secure, with Thoday pointing out that using Android Enterprise provided the solution to that question.

“Pixel security updates from Google provide a reliable cadence of ongoing protection as threats evolve, and the work profile hits the right balance between security and privacy for our teams,” Thoday said.

“Our contact centre teams use Pixel devices that are fully managed, which allows us to provide the necessary security controls, and wipe and re-enroll them when transferred to a new employee,” he said.

“Branch managers use Pixels with the work profile, separating work and personal applications. This gives employees the ability to use the device in a personal capacity while our IT team manages and ensures data security over the work profile.”

Additionally, with managed Google Play, NAB can assign the apps that are necessary on its managed devices.

“Providing our teams the flexibility to assign apps to the right teams is a major time saver and ensures everyone has the resources they need,” Thoday said.

“Branch managers can look up customer service records or answer a ping more quickly from their Pixel, instead of returning back to their desk and logging back on to their desktop computer. Android Enterprise has been a catalyst in a more mobile and responsive environment for our various teams.”

Earlier this month, the red and black bank completed its transition to TPG to deliver fixed and mobile network services across the bank.

The transition follows a deal struck between the two companies in September for the newly merged telecommunications giant to deliver fixed network services across NAB’s corporate offices, business banking centres, and branches, as well as providing mobile connectivity to the majority of the NAB workforce.

Vodafone delivered the solution to more than 80% of NAB’s mobile fleet across corporate offices and branches in metro and major regional areas. The company said Vodafone, alongside Google, would also be providing those who opt for a company phone with the Pixel 4a.

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Another consideration of the rollout was how customer data was going to remain secure, with Thoday pointing out that using Android Enterprise provided the solution to that question.



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Crackonosh malware abuses Windows Safe mode to quietly mine for cryptocurrency

The malware is thought to have generated millions of dollars in just a few short years.



Researchers have discovered a strain of cryptocurrency-mining malware that abuses Windows Safe mode during attacks.

The malware, dubbed Crackonosh by researchers at Avast, spreads through pirated and cracked software, often found through torrents, forums, and “warez” websites.

After finding reports on Reddit of Avast antivirus users querying the sudden loss of the antivirus software from their system files, the team conducted an investigation into the situation, realizing it was due to a malware infection.

Crackonosh has been in circulation since at least June 2018. Once a victim executes a file they believe to be a cracked version of legitimate software, the malware is also deployed.

The infection chain begins with the drop of an installer and a script that modifies the Windows registry to allow the main malware executable to run in Safe mode. The infected system is set to boot in Safe Mode on its next startup.

“While the Windows system is in safe mode antivirus software doesn’t work,” the researchers say. “This can enable the malicious Serviceinstaller.exe to easily disable and delete Windows Defender. It also uses WQL to query all antivirus software installed SELECT * FROM AntiVirusProduct.”

Crackonosh will scan for the existence of antivirus programs — including Avast, Kaspersky, McAfee’s scanner, Norton, and Bitdefender — and will attempt to disable or delete them. Log system files are then wiped to cover its tracks.

In addition, Crackonosh will attempt to stop Windows Update and will replace Windows Security with a fake green tick tray icon.

The final step of the journey is the deployment of XMRig, a cryptocurrency miner that leverages system power and resources to mine the Monero (XMR) cryptocurrency.

Overall, Avast says that Crackonosh has generated at least $2 million for its operators in Monero at today’s prices, with over 9000 XMR coins having been mined.

Approximately 1,000 devices are being hit each day and over 222,000 machines have been infected worldwide.

In total, 30 variants of the malware have been identified, with the latest version being released in November 2020.

“As long as people continue to download cracked software, attacks like these will continue and continue to be profitable for attackers,” Avast says. “The key take-away from this is that you really can’t get something for nothing and when you try to steal software, odds are someone is trying to steal from you.”

Previous and related coverage

Have a tip? Get in touch securely via WhatsApp | Signal at +447713 025 499, or over at Keybase: charlie0

Crackonosh has been in circulation since at least June 2018. Once a victim executes a file they believe to be a cracked version of legitimate software, the malware is also deployed.



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South Australia splashes out on space, defence, and cybersecurity in 2021-22 Budget

The South Australian government believes tech-focused sectors such as defence, space, and cybersecurity will have a key role to play in the state’s future.



In taking a forward-looking approach into what the future of South Australia will look like, the South Australian government has announced it will bolster investment in tech-focused sectors such as defence, space, and cybersecurity as it hands down the 2021-22 Budget [PDF].

“This Budget is our blueprint for a stronger South Australia, creating jobs, building what matters and delivering better services to further secure our growing global reputation as one of the safest and most attractive places in the world to live, work, and raise a family,” Treasurer Rob Lucas said on Tuesday.

Some of the specific funding announcements include AU$20.8 million to upgrade the existing buildings at Lot Fourteen to make way for the expansion of space, digital, hi-tech, and cyber companies, with a particular focus on companies involved in small satellite development.

Separately, AU$6.6 million will be contributed over five years to assist with the SASAT1 Space Services Mission, which will see a local manufacturer launch a small satellite in mid-2022 as well as deliver space-derived services to the state.

South Australia’s Defence and Space Landing Pad program has also received a boost, with the state government saying it will deliver AU$860,000 over three years for the program that is used to support international defence and space companies that bring new, sought-after capability to South Australia.

Local artificial intelligence and health technology companies are set to receive additional support through a AU$1.6 million allocation delivered over four years. Under this investment, AU$985,000 will be used for grants to support AI and health technology companies through matching co-funding for health application pilots, and $589,000 to deliver project support activities, including investment concierge services.

Meanwhile, AU$2.6 million will be earmarked to support small businesses developing digital and cyber security capabilities as well as other capabilities to enter the national market.

The Budget papers also indicated AU$21.1 million over three years will be dedicated towards the implementation of stages three and four of the South Australia Police Shield project, which involves linking South Australia Police’s data and records management system directly with other justice sector agencies. The state government touted the move will improve collaboration and data sharing capabilities.

In a bid to boost bushfire response, the 2021-22 Budget revealed that it will contribute AU$7.7 million over four years towards the ongoing management, support, and maintenance of automatic vehicle location systems (AVL) used by the emergency services sector. AVL provides real time location information of firefighting and other emergency response vehicles during incidents. AVL is expected to be installed in approximately 1,400 vehicles at a total cost of AU$12.7 million.

Additionally, the 2021-22 Budget indicated support for the state government’s commitment to improving digital services for citizens remains ongoing through its AU$120 million Digital Restart Fund, noting that AU$4.3 million in 2021-22 will be put towards the South Australian government’s online services portal, AU$5.5 million over two years for the expansion of the residential aged care enterprise system, AU$1.3 million over two years for the child and family services information systems, and AU$500,000 in 2021-22 for the Safeguarding smartphone app.

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