Managing Chrome Education Upgrade Price Increase

On January 22, 2020, Google is informing all Chrome Education Upgrade (aka Chrome Management Service) users that that perpetual per-device license price is increasing from $30 to $38 dollars, effective March 9, 2020.

While Google is not unreasonable in raising prices to ensure continued innovation and feature expansion, the timing of the increase is problematic for many schools.  With fiscal years starting July 1, schools and districts have drafted or completed their budgets for the upcoming year.  The timing of the increase impacts purchases planned for the end of this fiscal/school year as well.

Cumulus Global will help you manage the price increase.

You can order your Chrome Education Upgrade / Management licenses now, before the price increase.  Based on your quantity, we are offering discounts up to 10% or more off the current $30 price.  If you are unable to purchase the licenses now, you can also request a binding quote and receive similar discounts off the $38 price through August 31, 2020.

Please complete the form, below, and request your quote.


Request your quote …

5 Ways We Can Lower Your Chrome Device Costs

As part of our ChromeCycle Program, we help you manage the total cost of ownership of your Chrome devices. Here are five (5) ways we can lower the purchase cost for your next round of Chrome devices.

  1. Preregister Your Purchase: We can often secure preferred pricing when we preregister your intended purchase with your preferred Chrome device manufacturer. Letting your manufacturer know now how many units you plan to buy later helps them plan production and distribution. Some of those savings come back to you.
     
  2. Competitive Bidding: If you do not have a preferred Chrome device manufacturer, we can bid your intended purchased out across manufacturers and distributors to obtain the best purchase price possible.
  3. Trade-In: Trading in devices at the end of their life cycle can lower the cost of refreshing your devices by as much as 20%. We can estimate trade-in value now, to help with your budgets for purchases later in the year.
     
  4. Buy-Back: Even if you are not buying your refresh fleet from us, we can buy back devices you are retiring. The international market for used devices and parts can save you money.
  5. Financing Services: We work with multiple finance partners to offer both finance and fair market value leasing options. We can put your purchase financing out to bid to help get the best rate and terms possible.

Click here to learn more about our ChromeCycle services, or contact us for a no-obligation Cloud Advisor consultation.


 

7 Ways Downtime Hurts Your Business

A recent survey found that 40% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) experiences 8 or more hours of downtime due to a severe security breach within the past year. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of SMBs who experience a significant data breach go out of business within six months. These statistics are sobering. For many SMBs, however, the risks still feel foreign and not something that warrants action. To protect your business requires some knowledge and good advice, intent, action, small investments.

It is easier to rely on myths such as, “We are not a target for cyber attackers”, “We can run on pen and paper until we recover”, and “Our customers will understand” than it is to assess your risks and take action. Nevertheless, the risks are real and the number of SMBs hurt by downtime continues to rise.

Here are seven ways downtime can damage your business:

  1. Monetary Cost — Downtime leads to lost sales and lost productivity impacting top-line revenue and your bottom line. These costs hit your pocket in addition to the cost of recovery and returning to normal operations.
  2. Customer Trust — When you are unable to serve your customers, they lose faith in your business. While downtime for natural disasters is understandable, today’s customers have little tolerance for disruptions due to cyber attacks and breaches. Lost trust means lost customers.
  3. Brand Damage — Your brand identity and reputation drives customer loyalty and growth. Service disruptions from technology failures or breaches sends a message that your business may be poorly managed and is unreliable. These messages lead to loss of goodwill and create negative impressions of your business in the minds of your customers.
  4. Employee Morale — Disasters due to data loss or breaches means employees need to perform double duties. Employees spend time on recovery while working to keep the business operational. It often requires additional work hours. Recovery can be stressful and demoralizing.
  5. Business Value — Businesses that suffer data breaches and service disruptions are perceived as poorly managed. With the potential financial liability, public companies can see stock prices fall. All companies can suffer a loss of business value.
  6. Legal Action — Downtime creates the risk of legal action. This is particularly true for downtime that is perceived as preventable. System failures, data loss, security breaches, and other incidents can put your business in breach of contract. You may also be in violation of state and federal regulations.
  7. Compliance Fines & Penalties — As information privacy and security regulations expand, data loss and breaches create the real potential for fines and penalties related to regulatory compliance, privacy, and data retention requirements.

These risks carry the potential for lasting damage. Whether by increased financial burdens or winning back customers, the impact of downtime extends well beyond getting yourself up and running again.

Is your business worth protecting?

Protecting your business will not break the bank. We offer practical, affordable solutions that help you and your team understand the risks, prevent problems from happening, and continue operating in the event something bad does happen.

If your business is worth protecting, contact us for a complimentary Cloud Advisor session to discuss how we can improve your business’ resiliency.


 

Data Protection

Customer Notice: Email Advanced Threat Protection

Data Protection

We continue to witness the devastating impact of ransomware, crypto attacks, and other forms of cyber attacks on our customers.  The recovery cost and frequency of attacks are increasing at alarming rates. The average cost for a small or midsize business (SMB) to fully recovery from a cyber attack has increased to between $145,000 and $180,000. This includes loss of direct business, remediation costs, damage to reputation, and employee downtime.  At the same time, the number of ransomware attacks so far in 2019 has doubled when compared with the same period in 2018.

As a managed cloud service provider, you have heard from us that you “should” have more protections in place. Our position is changing: these protections are a “must”.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and email Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) are necessary, baseline services for protecting your business. 

Beginning January 1, 2020, we will require and will begin adding Advanced Threat Protection to all of our customers’ email service unless you specifically opt out. If you opt out, the cost of our data recovery efforts will not be covered under our unlimited support plans (See our Support Services SLA). When we add ATP to your service, we will discuss with you when we can add MFA.

We will mitigate the cost.

We are sensitive to your budget.

  • ATP requires a technical setup and typically incurs a setup fee along with the monthly or annual subscription.  We are discounting both the setup and subscription fees for all customers. For customers requesting Priority Opt-In, we will waive the ATP related setup fees completely.
  • MFA implementation is covered by our support plans as an administrative change.  If you do not have on of our support plans, we will provide an affordable, discounted quote for the project.
  • For customers without an unlimited support plan and/or those that choose to Opt-Out, we will discount our hourly fees for recovery work.

For more information on specific discounts and pricing, and to let us know if you want to Opt-In, to have Priority Opt-In, or to Opt-Out, please visit this web page and complete the form.

We realize that this is a significant change for most of our customers.  We also understand the importance of these protections.  Please contact us with questions or concerns

Thank you for being part of our community,
Allen Falcon
CEO & Pragmatic Evangelist

Cloud Management

Security Drives Need for Cloud Management

Cloud ManagementIn a recently published report, one of Forrester Research’s five key cloud predictions for 2020 is that cloud management providers will tackle cloud security.  With the Capital One breach, the first major breach in a public cloud, the industry has a new focus on security public cloud services. Small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are more likely to use public cloud services over specialty providers and private clouds. As such, SMBs need to focus on cloud management.

Effective cloud management can prevent holes in your security protections and save you money.

Cloud management, as a practice, formalizes access, licensing, usage, security, and spending for your cloud services. Instead of focusing on each cloud application or service independently, Cloud Management as a practice oversees and manages the big picture.

Seven key components of Cloud Management are:

  1. Document which cloud services are needed and used based on each person’s role within the organization
  2. Based on need, determine the level of access for each person/group based on their roles and responsibilities
  3. Understand and document subscription and licensing rules for each service, to ensure you can optimize subscriptions and spend
  4. Create standardized on-boarding work flows to ensure new employees and those changing roles are
    • Provided access to only the cloud services they need
    • Are assigned appropriate access to features, functionality, and data within each system
    • Access to data is consistent across cloud services
  5. Create standardized off-boarding work flows to ensure:
    • All cloud services accounts are deactivated, preventing orphan accounts from being left open
    • Data within each cloud service is archived or transferred to other user(s), preventing data loss
    • Cloud subscriptions/licenses are modified to prevent unnecessary costs
  6. Track licensing and subscriptions to:
    • Adjust your subscriptions to match your need, as allowed by each cloud service
    • Identify and remove unused licenses
    • Understand and manage your spending
  7. Actively search for, identify, and manage use of unauthorized cloud services to:
    • Minimize or eliminate “Shadow IT” risks with respect to security, data loss, and compliance
    • Identify and move users from duplicate services to authorized services
    • Provide training on authorized apps and services, preventing the need to use other services
    • Identify cloud services needed or wanted by staff, but not yet available through and authorized app or service

By applying the basic tenants of cloud management you can reduce your security risks, optimize your services and licensing, and better manage your spend.


Cumulus Global offers Cloud Management tools and services.  Contact us for a free, no obligation Cloud Advisor session to learn more.


 

Chrome Device Lifecycle Update

Like any hardware, Chrome devices have a useful life.  Per Google’s policies:

  • Every Chrome device receives regular updates from Google until it reaches its Auto Update Expiration (“AUE”) date, subject to support from component manufacturers. When a device reaches AUE, automatic software updates from Google will no longer be provided.

  • Chrome devices that have not reached their AUE date will continue to receive OS updates and function with Chrome Education Upgrade and Chrome Enterprise Upgrade (a.k.a Chrome management licensing). After the AUE date is reached, existing and future policies may not work as intended, and technical support will not be provided.

  • Google will publish a model’s AUE date after its release, giving buyers time to make purchase decisions. Please check the AUE date when making a purchasing decision.

For your convenience, we are providing a link to Google’s Chrome Device Auto Update Policy here on our site.

Best Practices

Cyber Protection: Time for New Best Practices

Best PracticesAccording to a recent survey* of IT service providers, ransomware attack downtime costs 23 times more than requested ransom. The average ransom for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) victims jumped 37% to $5,900 from 2018 to 2019.  The average cost of ransomware downtime jumped from $46,800 to $141,000, and increase of more than 200%.

To add to your concerns, SMBs fall victim to cyber crime and ransomware attacks even when they have traditional antivirus, email/spam, ad/pop-up blockers, and endpoint protection in place.  67% of IT service providers report their SMB customers fall victim to phishing emails; 30% report that most customers still rely on weak passwords and access management.

Traditional cyber security solutions are no match for many cyber attackers. We need a new approach to ransomware, with business continuity at the core.

Using business continuity as a guiding principle drives new best practices for preventing and responding to cyber security attacks. With a business continuity mindset, you focus on what is needed to keep the business running, and how quickly you can “return to operations”.  When we discuss business continuity, we understand that we need to take steps to prevent disruption, mitigate the scope of potential disruptions, respond effectively when disruptions happen, and have the systems and processes in place to recover quickly.

For over a year, we have promoted and refined our CPR model:

Communicate and Educate: Involve everybody in the solution by educating your team on the risks, how to spot and report fraudulent content, and how their behavior can prevent or help an attack.

Protect and Prevent: Implement multi-layer, multi-vector protections that focuses on your people (identities), data, applications, and systems. Our data, our businesses, no longer sit comfortably hidden in a computer room behind a firewall.

Respond and Recover: No defense is perfect. Have services in solutions in place that let you recover and return to operations within a time frame that protects the health of your business. More than getting data and systems back on line, put in place the forensics, legal, public relations, and customer service resources you will likely need in a cyber attack emergency.

Time for Action

Here are 10 Actions you can initiate today to improve your cyber protection:

  1. Ensure your computing environment is protected across multiple attack vectors: Identity, Endpoints, User Data, Cloud Apps, and Infrastructure.
  2. Deploy multi-factor authentication, advanced threat protection, next-gen endpoint protection, and DNS/web protection across your ecosystem for a comprehensive baseline or protection.
  3. Encrypt your data at rest and in transit.
  4. Educate your team on the risk and how their actions can impact the business.
  5. Actively manage your cloud and “as-a-Service” subscriptions, standardize on-boarding and off-boarding of staff and contractors based on role, application needs, and appropriate access to data.
  6. Understand how your team uses your business and unauthorized (“shadow IT”) applications and services.  Reign in shadow IT by ensuring your business systems provide staff with the necessary capabilities.
  7. Test your staff’s behavior related to cyber attacks and follow up with additional coaching and guidance. Discipline and, if needed, terminate those who are unwilling or unable to adapt to the current realities of behavior and risk.
  8. Upgrade from data backup/recovery to a business continuity solution that will get you up and running in minutes or hours, instead of days, should an attack get past your defenses.
  9. Arrange in advance for the legal, forensic, PR, communications, and customer service resources you need to respond to an attack with a potential or actual data breach.  Prepaid breach response services give you nearly instant access, reducing your risks and liability while bundling in baseline cyber insurance coverage.
  10. Get cyber insurance, either a baseline policy bundled with Breach Response services and/or a fully underwritten policy from your business insurance provider.

Please contact us for more information about your cyber protection, available assessments, and solutions. We are happy to schedule a free, no obligation Cloud Advisor Session.

* Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report. Datto, Inc. Oct. 2019.


 

Cyber Attack

Cyber Insurance or Breach Response?

Cyber AttackThere is a large discussion, and no small amount of pressure, for businesses to obtain cyber insurance policies.  Articles appear in a range business and technology publications, from the Memphis Business Journal to the Wall Street Journal, and from Inc. Magazine to Forbes. But getting the right cyber insurance policy is not easy, and can be costly. And while cyber insurance helps cover damages, many policies do not provide immediate assistance with managing your response to an attack or data breach.

For SMBs, three key cyber insurance considerations are the barriers to entry, coverage exclusions, and coverage delays.

  • Barriers to Entry
    • Most cyber insurance policies go through underwriting to determine coverage limits and premiums. This means the insurer will want to review and audit your security related policies, procedures, and technologies. Insurance carriers may also demand that you invest in new or additional measures in order to qualify for a policy or to ensure the premiums will be affordable.  For many small and midsize businesses (SMBs), this process requires specialized skills, time, and money. Many SMBs will need to spend over $5,000, with some spending up to $20,000, in order to pass the underwriting process.
  • Coverage Exclusions
    • Cyber insurance claims are routinely reduced or declined due to non-compliance with policy requirements.  Even after the underwriting process, most cyber insurance policies include dozens of security requirements that must be in place and properly maintained.  Any gap or misstep can be costly.
  • Coverage Delays
    • If your business is the victim of a cyber attack, your response has legal requirements and requires specific technical expertise. Claims processing can delay your ability to secure the resources you need for hours or days.

Clearly, cyber insurance one piece of the solution, along with appropriate security measures.

Having a Breach Response plan and resources in place will save you time and money.

In any cyber attack, start by assuming the attackers have stolen information.  If an attack can encrypt your files, it can steal under-protected files and data from your systems.  With a data breach, federal and state laws dictate a range of reporting and communication requirements that, if missed, can trigger fines and legal action. With a data breach, you need a range of expert resources and you need them quickly.

  • Legal Expertise fluent in cyber security laws and regulations helps ensure you comply with reporting and communication requirements to minimize your legal and financial exposure.
  • Forensics Expertise can identify the cause, timing, and scope of the attack and any breach, and can help validate that the issues allowing the breach have been resolved.
  • Public Relations Services will help you communicate with employees, vendors, customers, and as is often the case — the press. Providing accurate and appropriate information can protect your business relationships and your public reputation.
  • Contact Center Services provide a place for customers, vendors, and associates to call for timely and accurate information.  You are further protecting your business relationships and reputation.
  • Credit Monitoring for individuals whose personal or business information may have been compromised can reduce litigation risk and may be required by law.

While cyber insurance policies generally cover these services, most do so as part of the claims approval process. As such, you may be out of pocket for thousands of dollars and fighting for reimbursement once your claim is processed.

By subscribing to a Breach Response service, the resources and expertise you need are available instantly,  7×24, without any additional cost over the monthly or annual fee.  These services often include basic cyber insurance policies that do not require any underwriting.  For many SMBs, the annual cost of this type of Breach Response service, with basic cyber insurance coverage, is significantly less than the cost of the underwriting process for a traditional cyber insurance policy.  Additionally, you can use this policy for coverage until they completing a policy with underwriting, or to cover initial loss coverage under a higher deductible (lower premium) traditional cyber insurance policy.


For more information about Breach Response Services and affordable Cyber Insurance, please contact us for a no obligation Cloud Advisor call.


 

Cloud Strategy

Tech Leadership: Focus on Business Success

Cloud StrategyThe tag line of a recent ZDNet article says it all:

Tech leaders have to support how their business generates revenues and profits if they are to be taken seriously.

As reported in the article, KMPG reports that 76% of CEOs want their technology projects to “make” rather than “save” money.  And while this data is from a survey of large and mid-market enterprises, we understand the small and midsize business owners and decisions makers want the same results. Cloud gives you the ability to reduce resources needed to manage and maintain IT infrastructure, which can free up resources for IT solutions closer to the revenue stream.

Your mindset as a business leader should remain on Business Outcomes; your IT service provider should have the same focus.

Whether you are the IT decision maker, you have a CIO or IT Director, or you rely on an IT service provider for strategic guidance and tactical solutions, here are some ways to rethink and redirect your IT direction and value.

  • Identify the biggest challenges in your organization: Start by understanding what your business wants to achieve and the most critical roadblocks. These are most often business, not technology, issues. Technology, however, provides the tools needed to overcome challenges and enable opportunities.  Let desired business results guide your technology strategy and drive specific projects.
  • Focus on how to develop new business models: Think beyond how a new technology can cut costs.  Explore and evaluate how emerging technologies, such as AI and Machine Learning, can enable your business to rethink “how” you work and how you manage revenue streams.
  • Use information to create a more efficiency: Take advantage of new business intelligence tools that empower you to convert your data into useful, actionable information.
  • Remember that “Digital Transformation” is a process, not a solution. Rethinking your business processes to better leverage cloud and new technologies continuous effort. Remember that new apps, tools, and templates need to adapt as you learn more and as your business needs and priorities change.
  • Pick the right partner: We are past the “one and done” era of IT solutions. Your environment needs to evolve with you business, your employees, and your partners.  Pick a partner that can stay with you for the long-haul.

Cumulus Global focuses on “Cloud Forward” IT solutions that support your desired business outcomes.  Contact us for a complimentary Cloud Advisor session to discuss your business goals, challenges, and priorities.


 

Automation Cyber Security

Manufacturers Beware: Attacks on Industrial Equipment are on the Rise

Automation Cyber SecurityWe have seen the issue ourselves: A malware attack crosses the bridge from your network PCs to the controllers in your industrial machines. Your shop floor comes to a halt until you can recover. The effort is painful as you deal with embedded and stand-aside controllers running out-dated versions of Windows, limited network options, and compatibility issues.

The risk is so great, that ZDNet is reporting that the world’s largest and most well-known hacking contest, Pwn2Own, will focus on software for industrial equipment.  Reflecting the reality of current threats, the sponsoring organizations and the “white hat” hackers themselves see an urgent need to bring the issue of protecting your industrial equipment to the forefront.

Fortunately, best practices can help protect your operations.

While it is not always possible to protect your industrial equipment with “next gen” endpoint protection, you can take steps to protect yourselves from potentially devastating attacks and accidents.

  • Segregate
    • The network on which your production systems run should be physically or logically separate from other networks — office, voice, etc. — running in your business.
  • Isolate
    • Unless the equipment needs to communicate with the manufacturer, cloud-based systems, or other locations, the production systems network should not have paths to the outside world.
    • If the equipment needs to communicate externally, setup secure VPNs for all traffic.
  • Maintain
    • Whenever possible, update and maintain your industrial systems to run current versions of the manufacturer’s software and the underlying operating system.  Too many production machines are running obsolete versions of Windows that cannot be secured from attack.
  • Scan
    • Before moving any software or programming to a system, explicitly scan the files for malware.
  • Educate
    • Communicate with your employees about the risks and steps they can take to prevent a cyber attack to your industrial equipment as well as their computers and other devices.

Please contact us for more information or to assess your risk and discuss solutions.