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Email Encryption is Not Compliance

Security Key
While providing a reasonable level of protection from inappropriate access to your data, the built-in encryption is not sufficient to meet information privacy regulations. Laws such as the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), and industry regulations including the Personal Card Information (“PCI”) standards require more than data encryption.

Privacy laws and regulations typically include three components:

  1. Policies and procedures that, when followed, provide appropriate data protections
  2. A means to monitor compliance, with the ability to detect and mitigate potential violations of the policies and procedures
  3. A defined response and resolution procedure in the event of a breach

As explained in our eBook, Email Encryption in Google Apps, Technology can support the implementation of these three components, but does not offer a full solution on its own.


Contact us to assess your email encryption needs and to define an affordable solution.


 

Beyond Restore: Use Cases for Google Apps Backup

Backup Man

As we have noted several times in prior posts and webcasts, Google’s internal backup systems are designed to protect you should Google have hardware or software issues. You, however, are responsible for protecting your data in Google Apps from user deletions, user overwrites, malware, hackers, and other risks.

We have identified several use cases for backup/recovery in Google Apps that you cannot do from the Admin console.

A good Google Apps backup solution does more than restore

Preserve Data From Past Employees

  • If you want to preserve data from past employees, and need more than emails, your only option is to continue paying for the suspended Google Apps accounts.
  • With the ability to restore data to others, you can keep the backup as an archive and delete the Google Apps accounts.
  • An added benefit: the cost is less than 1/2 of a Google Apps for Work license and less than 1/4 of a Google Apps Unlimited license.

Transfer Data to New Owners

  • While you can transfer document ownership though the Admin Console and ownership of Sites data through APIs, these transfers are “all or nothing” and are destructive (they remove the data from the original account).
  • With the ability to restore data selectively and to others, you can transfer specific files, folders, sites data, emails, etc. to different people as needed.
  • An added benefit: You can transfer data between employees as they change positions and responsibilities.

Archive Documents (and other data)

  • While Google Apps Vault has eDiscovery searches for Gmail and Drive, Vault only archives Gmail.
  • A third party backup solution can preserve and archive documents, as well as email, calendars, contacts, and sites data in support of your document retention policies or regulations.
  • While a user can still delete a document and empty it from Trash before the backup, most users are unaware of the steps to take. With multiple backups per day, you are protected from losses other than those of a determined malicious actor.

Escape Hatch

  • As a “best-practice”, backups should not be stored in the systems being backed up without altering the format or content.
  • The right backup solution keeps your data in a separate location/service and restores data in its original format.
  • An added benefit: With an export feature, your backups become an easier way to extract data from Google Apps.

 

We offer multiple backup solutions for Google Apps, click here to learn more about our preferred solution.


 

Don’t Let Outdated Technology Slow Your Business Down

Old Tech
This is the first in a multi-part series providing ideas and guidance for companies looking to modernize their business with cloud and mobile solutions.


For many small business owners, it is easy to put off technology decisions for more pressing day to day matters. Sometimes, however, “If it ain’t broke; don’t fix it!” can do more harm than good. Outdated IT slows you down and costs you money in lost productivity and missed opportunities. Your technology also sends a message to your customers about how well your business can serve theirs. In today’s cloud and mobile world, your small business has affordable access to the same caliber tools and services as large enterprises. If your business is not taking advantage of the close and mobility, your competition is and you are falling behind.

Go Big or Go Home?

Moving to the cloud does not need to be an “all or nothing” proposition. Most small businesses start with email and move on to file sharing/collaboration. Business apps, like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Accounting can also be good places to start, delivering a high return and value for the migration effort and spend.

For some, going cloud and mobile is easiest to accomplish with the latest version of tools and software that you already use. For others, moving to the cloud and mobile is an opportunity to change the way your team works, so moving your team to new tools is best.

Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365?

This is the question we are asked most often by fellow small business owners and IT leaders. Google Apps or Office 365?

Our answer is: YES.

We are not saying your choice doesn’t matter. We are saying that Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 fit different businesses differently. Microsoft Office 365 extends the Microsoft Office ecosystem with collaboration, communication, and data/information tools that will never exist in your desktop version of Office.  Google Apps integrates broadly with most of the newer, cloud and mobile first tools preferred by small business. And, we have five ways to integrate your MS Office desktop software with Google Apps, so you don’t need to abandon the tools you already know.

Both ecosystems help you get stuff done faster, communicate more efficiently, and make mobility easier. Which solution is best for you depends on a factors ranging from where your team works and how you want to improve communications and collaboration to which line of business systems are critical to your success. By looking at your full IT environment, you can pick the cloud productivity platform and other cloud services that make the most sense, and delivery the greatest return.

Footprints, Workloads, and Clouds

Beyond your basic productivity suite (email, documents, spreadsheets, files, etc) and collaboration tools (voice, chat, conferencing, document sharing), more small businesses are moving other workloads from their on premise footprint into the cloud. Do not get flustered by the jargon! Workloads are simply applications or data processing; your footprint is the physical IT systems you use; and the cloud is, well, any cloud or hosted service where you can run your workloads.

For small businesses like yours, moving other applications into the cloud will improve security and reliability, offer better business continuity, and mitigate or lower costs. And while some applications don’t have a cloud version you can use (i.e., Quickbooks Online lacks features and reports most of our costomers want or need), you can move those systems onto cloud server with remote desktop access.

We All Have Our Job to Do

Your job is your business and serving your customers. Our job is to make sure your IT helps you do your job better and more efficiently.

Talk to us about your business, your goals, objectives, and priorities. Challenge us to find ways to help you reach your goals. We will bring our vision, enthusiasm, expertise, experience, and pragmatism, along with our commitment to either add value, or get out of the way.

Complete the form; let’s start the conversation!


Be Able to Recover

Backup Man
Accidents will happen. And while accidents that damage or destroy data are more common, malicious attacks will happen as well.  The rate of ransomware is on the rise and large companies are not the only targets. Whether by phishing attack, advanced persistent threat, or other means your company is seen as having data valuable enough to extort a ransom, you are a target.

In short, if you are reading this, you are a potential target.

While improving your endpoint protection and educating users can greatly minimize your risk, no malware solution can provide you with a guarantee against ransomware. So, if you are hit, you need to be able to recover.

For your on-premise systems, you most likely have a backup/recovery solution. In the event of ransomware, you can delete the encrypted files and restore from a point in time prior to the attack. Yes, you lose data, but a solid backup plan can minimize the loss and the impact.

Your cloud data needs the same protection. You want the same recovery process.  

Traditional and cloud backup services can be installed and connected to cloud servers in much the same way as they work for on-premise servers. For cloud file services, like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, traditional backup solutions will not work as they cannot connect to the service. The same holds true for data in SaaS applications like Salesforce.com.  You need a specialized solution.

Our Recommendation

For most of our Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 clients, we recommend Backupify as our preferred solution for several reasons:

  • Multiple backups per day for some or all users
  • Unlimited backup space
  • Unlimited backup retention
  • Multiple admin accounts with delegation
  • Powerful search
  • Fast restores
  • The ability to archive data for past users (Google Apps)

Our Offer

Try Backupify for free for 21 days. If you like what you see, we can save you money on license and support.  If not, we discontinue the service.

Interested? Let us know.

Third Party Apps: The Overlooked Data Risk

Privacy Button
It is easy to overlook. You see a cool app and install it on your phone. You see the prompt asking you for permissions. It is not clear what the app wants to access or why, but you want the app. You click “Grant” or “Allow” and away you go. Some third party now has access to your contacts, you schedule, and maybe even your files. 
Whether mobile apps, browser extensions, or freemium apps, your user community is installing apps and tools and granting access to your data. And while most apps are harmless and well-behaved, one rogue app can be a disaster.

Not all Apps are Trustworthy

Not every app, and not every app provider, is trustworthy.  And since most apps need access to some of your data in order to function, permissions should not be granted without some forethought. Preventing individual users from installing apps and granting permissions, however, is nearly impossible. Most small and midsize organizations have neither the money or resources to micromanage browsers and mobile devices — especially in our BYOD world.

There is a better way

Fortunately, for those of us running Google Apps and other cloud services, we have affordable solutions for monitoring and managing third party app access to your data.

Our Recommendation

If you are running Google Apps, we generally recommend BetterCloud Enterprise as our preferred solution for several reasons:

  • The Domain Health and Insight Center provides you with activity reports, alerts, and advanced reporting
  • Bettercloud includes a robust suite of Google Apps admin tools that are not available in the Google Apps Admin Console, including bulk actions, dynamic groups, and a user deprovisioning wizard
  • BetterCloud monitors and lets you manage third party app access to any data within Google Apps, and provides a trust rating to help you determine which applications pose a risk
  • BetterCloud monitors activity in Drive against business rules to ensure compliance with data privacy policies and regulations. BetterCloud will proactively modify permissions and send alerts to prevent accidental or intentional violations.

Our Offer

While there is a minimum fee for BetterCloud Enterprise, you can try BetterCloud for free for up to 30 days.  If you like what you see, we will waive the setup fees.  If not, you can keep running the Domain Health and Insight Center for free.

 

Spring Cleaning Past Employee Accounts

Cover.eBook.Guide to Google Apps License Management
It may be the second day of Spring here in New England, but the kids are home from school and the plows were out early. Nothing like a post-winter snow to trigger the spring cleaning bug in us all. For those that work in the cloud, the start of Spring is a great time to review our licenses and our needs and to make sure we are cleaned up and ready for new growth. If you are using Google Apps For Work (GAFW) or Google Apps Unlimited (GAU), now is a great time to clean out accounts for past employees.

Easier Said Than Done

Google Apps has a simple licensing model.  Pay $50 or $120 per user per year, respectively, and users have access to everything Google Apps has to offer.  The challenge comes in when employees leave. If you want to preserve their data, your options within Google Apps are limited, and can become costly. Specifically, you can expect to pay:

  • $50 per user per year to keep a past employee’s GAFW account
  • $100 per user per year if you also have Vault
  • $120 per user per year to keep a suspended GAU account

You Do Have Options

As noted in our recent eBook, A Guide to Google Apps License Management, we discuss several strategies, including: using an “archive” account, sync & store, and cloud backup.  Both the “archive” and “sync & store” approaches are inexpensive, they are not very cost effective. If you are keeping past employees’ data, you want the information to be easy to find an usable.  These solutions can make finding and retrieving information difficult and can alter the format and formatting of documents.

Our recommended solution uses cloud backup. Backup past users to a 3rd party service that lets you restore the data to any active user if and when you need it.  It is easy to keep calendar entries, contacts, files, and emails. File formats and formatting are preserved. Finding information is easy with robust search tools.

And, the cost is affordable. Backupify for Google Apps lets your create and keep an employee archive for $24 (or less!) per account per year. This is half the cost of protecting active users, and 50% to 80% less than keeping the Google Apps accounts active.  And, you avoid the risk of damaging or losing data while shuffling information to other users or into “archive” accounts.

Contact Us

To learn more about our proven solution, along with current special offers, please contact us.

Cloud Competition Has Growing Impact for SMBs

redmoney

Over the past few years, major cloud providers have been aggressively competing. At times, it’s been an all out price war with Microsoft, Amazon, Google and others lowering prices to beat the others. But it’s also been a race for new features and capabilities, as innovation and unique services can attract and retain customers.

The challenge for small and mid-size businesses, however, is that much of the competition as been focused on the Infrastructure and Platform as a Service (IaaS and PaaS) segments of cloud computing. And while lower prices on cloud processing and storage are great, most SMBs are using Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions.

Change is happening and you can benefit.

As an incentive for companies with Enterprise Agreement (EA) pricing to move off Microsoft, Google started things off by offering Google Apps for free until customers’ EA agreements end. The program, available to companies with 150 or more licensed users, removes the “double pay” period for companies that want to “go Google”.

More recently, Microsoft lowered the minimum licensed user count from 150 to 50 for its FastTrack program, which provides Microsoft partners with resources and customers with rebates to cover the cost of migration.  Companies with 50 or more licensed users can save up to 75% (or more) on their deployment and migration.

Enter Cumulus Global and More Savings

Focused on serving small and mid-size businesses, these programs are good, but not good enough. So, we are adding to the deals.

New to Google Apps for Work

  • Google Apps for Free through the end of your Microsoft EA term (150 license minimum)
  • 14 months for the price of 12 (5 license minimum, 12 month renewal terms)

New to Microsoft Office 365

  • FastTrack discounts and rebates (50 license minimum)
  • Migration savings of 35% to 70% (5 to 50 licenses)

From Direct to Partner

  • Existing Microsoft O365 and Google Apps for Work customers can save up to 10% on licensing and up to 20% on support and other services through our Switch & Save program.

The Next Step is Yours

To learn more about which discount is best for you, fill out the form, below, and speak with a Cloud Advisor.

News from Cumulus Global

Cumulus Global Answers the Call to Customize Google for Work

As part of a new service announcement and launch, Cumulus Global is answering the call to customize Google for Work. Google for Work is a great platform for business communication and collaboration. But many businesses want or need more. For some, add-ons and third party tools and applications meet their needs. With the launch of its Google for Work Customization services, Cumulus Global is using the power of Google Script, App Engine, and Google Cloud Platform to develop and deliver custom-built solutions.

“The range of possibilities is nearly limitless,” notes Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global. “Large enterprises have tapped the customization features in Google for Work for years. We are bringing these capabilities to small and mid-size organizations who previously assumed custom projects would be priced out of reach.”

Google for Work Customization Services is for projects ranging from data manipulation scripts within Google Sheets and simple workflow management tools, to complex database and data analysis applications. Projects are generally fixed-price with cost and quality guarantees.

Businesses can learn more on Cumulus Global’s web site or by calling Cumulus Global and speaking to a Cloud Advisor.