Secure, Cloud-Based Identity Management with Teamstack (Review)

HR is a challenge, but in the digital age where decentralized teams work asynchronously across actual hundreds of apps–each requiring a separate login–securely managing credentials can become paralyzing. Enter Teamstack: the automated, cloud-based identity management tool trusted around the globe by startups and Fortune 500 companies alike.

Secure, Cloud-Based Identity Management with Teamstack

So, what can Teamstack do for you? Put as simply as possible: it reduces the logistical overhead and risk involved in ensuring each member of your team has access to the mission-critical apps they need, when they need it (and not a moment longer).

Whether you’re onboarding a new hire, saying goodbye to former team members, or restructuring working groups on the fly to fit new projects, Teamstack has you covered. You’ll always have full control over who has access to what, and in real time. Imagine: provisioning and authentication made easy, without the need for expensive IT solutions or a bloated HR department.

If that caught your attention, let’s take a closer look at Teamstack.

Short on time? Here’s Teamstack in a nutshell

Like any solution you’ll actually use, Teamstack operates on the cloud. Here, you have a central location where you can choose which users go in what group, then set group permissions to access the apps they’ll need to complete the project at hand. What’s more, Teamstack fully integrates with over 500 of the world’s most-used apps, including G Suite, AWS, and Slack (with new apps added on a regular basis).

While Teamstack’s streamlined interface is simple to use, it offers incredible depth of customization. With a single click, you can customize multiple authentication factors, provisioning, and even SAML-powered password-free logins.

Running a small startup on a shoestring budget? Teamstack is available to you 100% free of charge and obligation. Everyone else from SMBs to Enterprise enjoys competitive rates and customized packages. Whatever the case, you’ll find friendly faces and knowledgeable minds at Teamstack Support ready to address your needs.

Digging deeper – Teamstack’s key benefits and features

Teamstack empowers teams and enhances company security within six main buckets:

1. Cloud Directory

Ready to assemble your dream team? Teamstack’s Cloud Directory centralizes your efforts into one secure, convenient web interface. Mix and match user profiles into and out of groups, setting permission levels and authentication methods as needed. You can create blanket permissions across teams, designate group access to specific apps, or both. Worried about security? Don’t be–all user information and passwords are locked behind military-grade encryption, available only to whom you designate access.

Need to suspend a user for any reason (vacation, sick, abducted by aliens)? With a single click, you can revoke access to anyone at any time. What’s more, Teamstack makes it easy to keep track of everyone’s status (Active, Suspended, Invited, Archived) and activity through comprehensive user logs.

As the scope of your project evolves along with your need for various personnel, Cloud Directory automatically synchronizes user data to keep up. Teamstack’s handling of permissions, authentication, compliance, and group management is as fluid and flexible as you need it to be.

2. One-Click Provisioning

Flexibility is one thing, simplicity is another. Teamstack knows this, and puts a heavy emphasis on making everything as easy to use as possible. Whether you’re adding or removing individual permissions associated with user accounts or groups, or making sweeping changes that affect everyone, it’s all handled with the same simple mouse-click. No fiddling around in some arcane backend filled with indecipherable code–Teamstack is 100% visual, and solidly geared towards making busy administrators less busy.

Simply add a user to a group, and watch as the magic of automation instantaneously applies all relevant provisioning. The opposite is also true, you can deprovision users or even entire groups as needed without having to worry about about rogue sign-ins. It all happens instantaneously as well–no need to wait for IT or HR to get around to it.

With Teamstack, onboarding and offboarding have never been so efficient. Imagine streamlining the process down to a measure of milliseconds–what might you accomplish with all that freed-up time?

3. Single Sign-On (SSO)

Gone are the days when dozens of employees must keep track of hundreds of different passwords. With Teamstack, you can connect a single user account to over 500 apps with just one password in an instant. Or even better, you can create a group associated with a suite of apps, the rotate individual accounts into or out of those groups as needed. This removes a ton manual labor while mitigating human error, and thus reduces the risk of sensitive credentials falling into the wrong hands.

SSO isn’t just a boon to cautious administrators, either. End-users have a single unifying portal in Teamstack’s handy browser extension, through which they have ready access to every app needed to complete the task at hand. No more emailing IT to reset forgotten passwords. Truly, Teamstack’s Single Sign-On is your passport to productivity.

4. Multi-Factor Authentication

Some projects entail more sensitive data than others. Too much security across the board will cost you in productivity, while inadequate authentication may cost you even more dearly.

With Teamstack, you have the power to tailor the perfect multi-factor authentication method or methods to suit the application. Individual users and/or groups may need to satisfy any or all of the following to gain access:

  • WebAuthn (FIDO2)
  • TOTP
  • SMS codes
  • Answer security questions
  • Recovery codes

In addition to the MFA methods above, you can further restrict access on the basis of IP address, biometrics, geo-location, and more.

Enterprise-grade security, simplified

Whenever there is a failed login attempt in any context, you’ll know about it. Teamstack is committed to protecting your company with comprehensive incident reporting and audit trails.

5. SAML Applications

What’s better than having a single password for app access? No passwords, which is precisely what Teamstack’s SAML integration allows. Not every app supports this feature, but there are some giants like G Suite, Dropbox, GitHub, Salesforce, Zoom and more.

Once again, access to supported SAML applications are easily configurable with one-click provisioning. Because you completely control who does and doesn’t have app privileges, you can avoid potential security breaches by end-users choosing insecure, weak passwords. Your IT department will be thankful, as well.

6. Form-Based Applications

Teamstack’s browser extension is truly robust, and is able to extend single sign-on functionality even to form-based applications. The experience for the end-user remains the same: simply input credentials, then Teamstack enables seamless access to all assigned applications, form-based or otherwise.

What’s more, Teamstack allows administrators to completely remove the ability for users in a group to view login credentials, drastically reducing the risk of nefarious actors stealing sensitive information. Of course, this can be customized to allow nuanced access to specific group members, as well.

Finally, if you’d rather remove the option for team members to create passwords of dubious security, you can simply generate anonymous credentials for them.

Getting started with Teamstack

Teamstack has an incredibly intuitive interface that virtually anyone can understand at a glance. Even so, we’ll take a few minutes to walk you through initial setup.

Adding and configuring apps

After signing up for Teamstack, you’ll gain access to your dashboard. Your first order of business should be adding an application to your Teamstack organization. Simply click “Applications” > “Add Application” in the top-right corner. This will bring up a page positively bustling with available applications. (At the time of writing, there are 571 apps, though you can expect that number to be even bigger in the future).

From here, you can narrow the results by category in the left-hand column, or simply navigate alphabetically in the main window. Once you’ve made your selection, you’ll see an array of options to configure the app’s nickname, how access will be handled by type (SAML, Provisioning, Form Based Auth) as available, and finally two fields to enter either Admin or user credentials.

Note: Even if you’re not sure which of the three types you’ll choose, go ahead and enter the credentials to add the app–you can always edit it later. (By default, the app is now “active”, though you can also deactivate it later, too.)

Managing users and groups

Next, you’ll need to associate users with your chosen app. Once again, navigate to “Applications”, then select your app. From there, click “Users” > “Assign” to choose a user from the resultant dropdown menu. Voila! It really is that easy.

Alternatively, you can invite users via email or import bulk data from a CSV file. Both options are conveniently nested under the aptly named “Users” menu option.

Note: There are three user roles you can define: Admins, Managers, and Users. Managers have all the privileges of Admins, except they can’t manage organizations. Users are always beholden to the rules the previous two roles set.

The process is similar for associating entire groups with applications. Go “Applications” > “Groups” > “Add Group”. From there, you’ll see several text fields where you can specify your group’s nickname, a description, plus any miscellaneous notes. If you’re associating this group with an app with Form Based Authentication, this is where you can designate whether users are allowed to see sensitive credentials or not.

Note: By default, all new users, managers, and admins join the “Everybody” group. Like any other group, you can manage which apps are associated with it, and how.

Associating users, groups, and apps

Once you’ve created your group(s), you’ll need to add users. At this point, you may not be entirely surprised to learn that this is yet another simple, visually self-guided process. Go “Groups” > select your group > “Users” > “Add” > select all who apply.

Note: If you ever want to delete a user or group, simply return to the dropdown menu where you previously added these items, click the checkbox next to your query, then hit “Un-Assign” or “Remove”, respectively. Alternatively, you can choose to “Suspend” users to prevent them from logging into your Teamstack organization without deleting their user profile.

Finally, it’s time to assign an application to your newly populated group. Simply click “Groups” then hit “Applications” under your desired group name, then “Assign”.

If that seemed easy, it’s because it is. Teamstack has taken out all the guesswork, so you can focus your precious mental bandwidth on more pressing and productive tasks.

Advanced security settings

With your users, groups, and apps getting to know one another, now it’s time to get into the good stuff. While we won’t provide an exhaustive guide, we’ll hit on some key points.

First, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about Teamstack’s MFA methods. For an exhaustive explanation, check out their handy collection of articles on Security. Otherwise, simply keep in mind that Admins can set MFA for individual users and across entire organizations.

Similarly, you can toggle various security policies on or off for users and applications, though the latter requires an add-on to your Teamstack subscription to use.

Finally, if you have any trouble integrating your SAML applications, check out their page of app-specific guides.

About the browser extension

We’ve already covered most of what you need to know about Teamstack’s browser extension, but we’ll summarize it here for easy reference. First, you’ll want to ensure your users have compatible browsers installed. These include:

  • Chrome 57+
  • Firefox 64+
  • Edge 80+
  • Opera 50+
  • Brave 1.3+
  • Yandex 20+

Note: Internet Explorer and Safari are not, at the time of writing, supported by Teamstack.

Essentially, once users log into the browser extension, they’ll navigate to their own Teamstack dashboard. Here under “My Applications”, they’ll see all the apps you’ve associated with their user account and/or group(s). Clicking on the logo of any of these apps will allow ready access according to the credentials, provisions, policies, MFA methods or SAML-powered passwordless entry you’ve assigned.

Just like the rest of Teamstack’s offering, the dashboard is simple, secure, uncluttered, and just works.

Pricing

Teamstack is available in four tiers.

Free Plan

The Free Plan is exactly that–completely free, so long as your organization has 5 or fewer users. You get integration with one SAML app, 4 FBA apps, plus basic MFA. Even if you’re unsure whether Teamstack is right for you, we recommend you give it a shot because there’s absolutely no obligation–they don’t even collect your payment information “just in case” like so many other SaaS products.

You won’t get too much in the way of advanced customer support, but we doubt you’ll need it at this tier (especially considering the extensive collection of guidance articles freely available on the Teamstack website).

Basic

Moving up a tier, you have the Basic package priced at $3 per user, per month. Your Teamstack organization can accommodate up to 25 users, 5 SAML apps, 50 FBA apps, SSO, and full functionality on both desktop and mobile devices. You’ll also get personalized customer support when you need it

Professional

At $4 per user per month, the Professional tier is for companies in need of some serious horsepower. You get 200 users, 20 SAML apps, 100 FBA apps, SSO, desktop and mobile support, plus priority support. Not too shabby for just an extra dollar per unit.

Add-ons

With both the Basic and Professional tiers, you have the option to include the following add-ons, each at an additional $2/user/month:

  • Custom MFA
  • Extended Audit Trail
  • Security Policies

Enterprise

Finally, we arrive at the Enterprise tier, where customization is king, and limitations on apps and users go right out the window. Instead of specific pricing, you work closely with Teamstack support to define your needs and craft custom security policies, codifying it all into an SLA.

Conclusion

Teamstack is something of a unicorn, as far as cloud-based identity management solutions for startups, SMBs, and enterprises go. With robust, flexible, and secure functionality, a streamlined back- and front-end interface and competitive pricing, we wholeheartedly give Teamstack our recommendation.

In short, Teamstack takes what is complicated, and makes it simple. Your business stands to benefit from increased productivity, reduced human error, and greatly improved security. Don’t sleep on Teamstack!

Do you use SAML, FMA, or form-based apps in your organization? How do you see Teamstack making your business run smoother? Got any questions about the service? Leave us a comment below.

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Testing for COVID-19: Screening tool to help decide when to get tested

One of the most important tools in the fight against COVID-19 is testing. Tests need to be conducted on the general population, and the more tests that are done, the better the pandemic can be controlled. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy. This is a brand new virus and test kits for it have had to be developed. In the 3-4 months since the virus has spread, there has been significant improvement in how efficient a test is, and production has been ramped up. While there are more testing kits available today than there were a month ago, the world is collectively short. As such, the tests are only being conducted when there is a high chance of someone being infected.

This begs the question of when to get tested for COVID-19. Apple has released an online tool that helps you determine whether or not you should get tested. If you’re worried you’re showing symptoms, try the tool out.

About the tool

Apple’s COVID-19 tool is an online tool which means anyone, on any sort of device, can use it. The suggestions give you a course of action on whether or not you should get tested, or if you should self-isolate, among other things. They are consistent with what the CDC in USA recommends. If you live in a country where mass tests are being done, and everyone is being encouraged to get tested, you should follow your local guidelines over this tool’s suggestions. Get tested if a test is available.

Apple COVID-19 screening tool

Visit the tool in any web browser. It is optimized for mobile browsers. Click the ‘Start Screening’ button.

The tool will ask you a series of questions. These questions are the same type of questions that you will be asked if you were to call the national COVID-19 helpline in your area.

Specifically, the tool asks if you or someone else has one of the five advanced stage symptoms in which case you’re encouraged to call for help immediately. If not, it will ask,

  • What age demographic you fall under
  • If you’re experiencing other symptoms such as a sore throat, aches, fever, etc.
  • If you have any pre-existing conditions
  • If you have traveled internationally
  • If in the last 14 days, you have been in an area where COVID-19 is widespread
  • If you live with or have been near someone with COVID-19 i.e., if you’ve been exposed to it directly
  • If you work in a health care facility or a similar

Once you’ve gone through the questions, the tool will advise you on what the best course of action is. You can still call your local helpline or hospital. They will likely ask you these same questions and provide a similar course of action.

Remember that even if you are not eligible for a test, you still need to remain in lockdown and socially distance yourself. You may not be sick but you could be a carrier nevertheless and you might infect others who are more vulnerable to the disease. Wash your hands regularly, and use hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available.

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How to fix ‘this file is not commonly downloaded and may be dangerous’ error in Chrome

Chrome has a built-in anti-virus that scans files that you download. Sometimes, when you’re downloading a seemingly harmless file, Chrome will block it saying the file is not commonly downloaded and may be dangerous. This mostly happens with scripts, executables, and zipped files. Here’s how you can fix it.

When you choose to ignore Chrome’s warning,  you run the risk of downloading a malicious file. The file won’t run automatically once it is downloaded but remember that it could be malicious.

Fix ‘file is not commonly downloaded and may be dangerous’

The file is blocked once it’s downloaded and you see a ‘Discard’ button next to it on the Downloads bar. Click the dropdown arrow next to it and select the ‘Keep’ option. This will save the file to your local disk.

The next thing to do is to scan it. Chrome often reports false-positives so you can either use a desktop anti-virus or you can scan the app with VirusTotal.

If VirusTotal or your desktop anti-virus also flags the file as dangerous, it is a very bad idea to still run it. If you used VirusTotal, you will have to manually delete the file yourself. If you scanned it with a desktop antivirus app, it likely deleted it for you or quarantined it. If the file has been quarantined, you should remove it from your system.

False-positives

If you still suspect the file is getting a false positive i.e., it is being flagged as malicious when it shouldn’t be, you can do one of two things. First, check that you’re downloading the app from the right place. For example, if you’re trying to download VLC player and it gets flagged, make sure you are getting it from the official  VLC player website and not from an online repository.

The second thing you can do is you can get in touch with the developer and let them know their app is being flagged. This of course won’t do much immediately. You will have to wait for the developer to respond and it is possible they choose not to do anything about it. In that case, you will need to find a different app that does the same job. It’s not easy but it is better than infecting your system.

If you’re thinking of risking the file even though Chrome, VirusTotal, and a desktop anti-virus app have all flagged it, try to run it in a sandbox to minimize the damage it will do.

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How to stop Google Hangouts from running automatically

Google Hangouts is a popular tool for online meetings and it’s being used quite a bit at the moment. The tool works via Chrome and is basically a Chrome app that’s tied to the same Google account that you use in the browser. It runs automatically when you launch Chrome, and it continues to run in the background even if you do not open it yourself. If you’d like to exit Google Hangouts, or stop it from running automatically, you need to tweak its settings. Here are the settings you need to change.

Google Hangouts running when Chrome is closed

Google Hangouts will run even if Chrome is closed. This is the default behavior but it’s easy to change. Open Chrome and click the more options button at the top right. Select Settings from the menu. On the Settings page, scroll to the very end and click the ‘Advanced’ option.

Scroll down to the ‘System’ section and turn off the ‘Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed’ option. Google Hangouts will not run unless you have Chrome open. If you close Chrome, Hangouts will also be closed.

Stop Hangouts from running at Startup

When you open Chrome, it will automatically open Hangouts. If you’d like to prevent that from happening, you need to change a small setting in Hangouts. Open Hangouts and click the hamburger icon at the top left. This will open the Options. Scroll down to the ‘Hangouts app settings’ section and uncheck the ‘Start Hangouts app when Chrome starts’ option.

Exit Hangouts

Now that you’ve stopped Hangouts from running automatically, and from running in the background, you might also want to exit it at will. To exit Hangouts, you need to open the app and click the Hamburger icon. On the Options page, scroll to the end, and click ‘Exit’.

This will exit Hangouts, effectively signing you out of the app. You will not have to close Chrome in order to get rid of it. The app’s icon will continue to appear in the system tray. If you click the icon, it will launch the app and sign you in automatically. If you visit Gmail in your browser, you will be signed into Hangouts on the Gmail web page.

As far as hiding Hangouts from the system tray goes, you can hide it in the overflow menu on Windows 10. On macOS, you can use a third-party app to hide icons in an overflow menu.

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How to test mouse buttons

A mouse is a fairly simple peripheral that most people use every day. They’re plug & play devices and you only need a specific driver for them if the mouse is a gaming mouse with more than the traditional two buttons an ordinary mouse has. The gaming mouse might still work as a basic mouse without its proprietary drivers. These devices are sturdy and tend to last years. If a button on your mouse has suddenly stopped working, you might want to check if it’s a hardware problem or a software one. Here’s how you can test mouse buttons.

Test mouse buttons

You can test if all your mouse buttons are working with a web app. There are quite a few of them. If you have a simple mouse i.e., the kind with two buttons (left and right), and a scroll wheel, use Mouse Test.

Visit the website and position your cursor over the mouse diagram. Click the buttons on your mouse, click with the mouse wheel, and scroll a bit.

If a button you click doesn’t light up on the diagram, it means that particular button isn’t working. This app appears to be able to test for a gaming mouse as well since the diagram depicts a mouse with more than just the usual two buttons.

If the buttons are all working but it doesn’t register in an app, you might want to check if an event is triggered when you click a button. We recommend using the Browser Mouse Event Test Page.

The website can detect when a mouse button is pressed when it is released, and what event is registered. You can use it to test all the buttons on your mouse, including the middle click. It will not check the mouse’s scroll.

If the mouse buttons are all working but they won’t work in a particular app, it is possible that the app is blocking it. This isn’t something that apps normally do so if you have an app like that on your system, check its settings. There may be a specific option for enabling mouse functionality in it.

If the mouse buttons aren’t registered on either of the websites, your mouse is probably broken. You can try having it repaired. They aren’t complicated to fix and it shouldn’t be too expensive. You can also buy a new mouse depending on what is more cost-efficient for you.

Need to test a keyboard’s buttons? There are web apps for it too.

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