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The Kaseya Attack Effect

Data Protection & SecurityThe Kaseya attack demonstrates how cyber crime is a big, organized business.  How big? You can subscribe to “Ransomware as a Service” and outsource attacks on your intended targets.  How organized? Hacker groups and service providers, such as the REvil Ransomware Group and DarkSide, actively manage their brands and reputations.  The REvil attack on Kaseya shows us that cyber criminals are technically advanced and operationally sophisticated. The nature of the attack, and its scope, should scare you.

By using known vulnerabilities in Kaseya’s VSA Remote Monitoring and Management system, REvil was able to create an automated ransomware distribution network. They used the very systems that Managed Service Providers (MSPs) use to monitor and manage customer servers, computers, and networks.

The Impact

MSPs update their Kaseya VSA servers automatically installed the Ransomware on their customers’ systems, as well as their own. Best estimates are that up to  1,500 small and medium-sized companies are victims. While this number seems small, those 1,500 business face an existential threat. Remember: more than half of businesses victimized by ransomware fail within six months.

Most MSPs shut down their Kaseya VSA services before spreading the ransomware. These firms had no ability to monitor, manage, or remotely support their customers. Customers facing IT issues were met with longer diagnostic and resolution times, resulting in business disruption, lost productivity , and the possibility of data loss.

As a managed cloud service provider, Cumulus Global does not use the Kaseya VSA system.  Our clients were not at risk, via our services, from this attack.

The Lessons

We were on the sidelines for the Kaseya attack. We understand, however, that the way in which may cloud services are managed create connections between vendors, resellers, partners, and customers. While these connections do not generally provide any access to customer data, they do provide access to management functions and information about users.  This information, in turn, could be used to improve the effectiveness of phishing attacks, spoof identities, and gain access to systems.

As a trusted IT advisor and a managed cloud service provider, we are part of a connected supply chain. We take our responsibility to secure our part of that chain seriously. While we follow commercially accepted best practices for security and privacy, the Kaseya attack warns us to step back and re-evaluate our strategy, policies, and procedures.

Our Next Steps

Cumulus Global is conducting an internal review of all of our internal and operational systems, including vendor portals and services we use to order, provision, manage, and support cloud services. As part of this review we are examining our policies and procedures related to:

  • Identity management and protection
  • Access to the systems
  • System level permissions related to function and data
  • Roles and responsibilities with respect to security and privacy
  • Business continuity plans and capabilities

Through this process, we are challenging our assumptions, re-assessing how we operate security and effectively, and raising our expectations for how well we protect ourselves and our customers.

We will also be making recommendations to our clients, and the broader community, on steps they can take to improve their security profile and protections.

Your Next Steps

As a user of cloud services, and technology in general, have responsibilities as well.

We Can Help

To assess your cyber security status, discuss your risks and needs, and identify solutions that fit your business and your budget, contact us to schedule a complimentary session with one of our Cloud Advisors.

The State of SMB Cyber Security

Data Protection & SecurityGone are the days when cybercrime was exclusively a big business problem. In the modern workplace, all businesses are at risk, regardless of their size or industry. Today, we recognize that implementing a cyber security program, much like hiring people and growing sales, is an essential part of running our companies.

With 43% of cyberattacks targeted at SMBs, it’s not surprising that many have identified cybersecurity as a priority. And while most of us have deployed protections, it is challenging to know if you have the right balance of protection relative to your risk.

Here are 4 key findings from research conducted by Microsoft:

01 Businesses understand that cybercrime is a problem, but understate the severity of the threat and overestimate their preparedness

The vast majority of businesses (85%) cite cybercrime as a concern, and more than half (56%) believe it is a top priority. Businesses are backing up this belief with action. Most have begun to invest both time and dollars into protecting their company from hackers and other malicious actors.

However, when you look a little deeper, it becomes clear that many have underestimated their risk. 74% of businesses don’t believe they are likely to be attacked at all and that corporations are two times as likely to be attacked.

90% of businesses say they have the right protections in place to prevent an attack, and those with more than 50 employees are even more confident. It is encouraging that businesses are investing in security, but the reality is that they are at greater risk than they think. Nearly half (41%) have been attacked

02 Small and medium-sized businesses are just as likely to be attacked as large corporations

For solutions that do cost money, businesses allocate about 15% of IT budgets go to cybersecurity,  and  21% plan to increase how much they spend protecting the company. Businesses recognize that this investment is worth it because three out of four know that it costs more to recover from an attack than it does to prevent one.

03 Employees can be a business’s biggest protection and also their biggest threat

As a small business owner, you face many of the same threats as larger businesses, but also unique challenges.

Given the number of security events tied to employees, businesses run the risk of underestimating the threat of employees leaking data or  sharing sensitive information, whether maliciously or accidentally.

Insider threats take several forms. Employees or partners may find it more convenient to transfer sensitive data using personal email or an unsecure cloud drive, not realizing the risk to your company. In fact, 30% of security events are attributed to careless or uninformed employees. More alarming is the roughly 36% of attacks where a malicious employee steals sensitive data.

04 Businesses have begun taking steps to protect themselves and there is a set of solutions and practices available to them

Most small and midsize businesses don’t have the same scale of resources to combat security threats and implement cyber security solutions as larger entities.

Fortunately, there are right-sized solutions and strategies designed to overcome the unique vulnerabilities of smaller companies. An effective security strategy doesn’t have to be expensive—or time-consuming. With a few simple, no-cost/low-cost steps, you can make a significant  impact on your company’s overall security profile. The key is to match security to your business needs and your budget.

To assess your cyber security status, discuss your risks and needs, and identify solutions that fit your business and your budget, contact us to schedule a complimentary session with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Security Threats: 3 You Know and 1 You Should

Data Protection & SecuritySecurity threats take many forms. Most owners of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are aware of the need to defend against the top three — viruses, ransomware, and phishing attacks — but their organizations are generally not as prepared to deal with the risks related to employees leaking data or sharing sensitive information, whether maliciously or accidentally.

1 Viruses

According to research conducted by Microsoft, infection by a computer virus is the most commonly cited among security threats facing businesses. Preventing viruses requires an integrated approach to endpoint and identity management, including:

  • Deploy next-gen antivirus software, with advanced threat protection, installed and updated, on all devices
  • Use web filtering and monitoring services to prevent infection, even from trusted sites
  • Roll out mobile device management to secure work devices (including laptops and desktops), as well as personal devices used for work
  • Enforce the use of multi-factor authentication as part of an integrated identity and access management solution

2 Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access, encrypts files, or even stops you from using your systems. Like viruses, ransomware can enter the company through insecure endpoints or unsuspecting users.

While virus protections also protect against ransomware, no protection is perfect. You need to be ready to respond and recover in the event of a successful cyber attack. Here are some solutions and services you should have in place:

  • Backup your data and system images, in the cloud, to ensure your ability to restore and recover
  • Encrypt all data, at rest and in motion
  • Deploy business continuity services to spin-up copies of servers in parallel with remediation
  • Pre-arrange access to forensic, legal, and communications resources to ensure a proper business response
  • Acquire cyber insurance to cover remediation, recovery, and regulatory costs, along with lost revenue

3 Phishing Attacks

The majority, 67 percent, of cybersecurity professionals surveyed consider phishing to be the greatest security threat facing your business and employees. To protect your people, your data, and your business:

  • Configure advanced threat protection services to identify and block attacks via email using links and/or attachments
  • Monitor inbound and outbound email traffic
  • Provide your team with awareness training to recognize problem emails, and how to respond/act
  • Instruct your team to report suspicious messages, links, and attachments
  • Deploy domain level services to prevent identity-spoofing

!! Internal Leaks & Threats

Insider security threats are often overlooked. Surveys indicate that 53% of organizations have experienced insider attacks against their organization.

These risks take several forms. About 37% of internal leaks can be attributed to careless or uninformed employees. In many cases, these employees are using personal, less secure or unsecured services to conduct business.  Whether consumer versions of email or cloud drives for sync and share, these “shadow IT” services pose a significant risk.

While the majority of internal leaks and threats are unintentional, 36% of internal leaks are identified as attacks by a malicious employee.

To prevent data leaks and breaches, you should:

  • Actively manage access and permissions to networks, systems, applications, and data; periodically review permissions for compliance
  • Leverage features within your systems that help you manage and protect confidential and proprietary information
  • Deploy information protection solutions, such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and document/message level encryption, to block sensitive data from leaving your control

>> Take Action

All of the suggestions, above, fall within our CPR best-practice model for cyber security: Communicate & Educate; Prevent & Protect; Respond & Recover.

To assess your cyber security status, discuss your risks and needs, and identify solutions that fit your business and your budget, contact us to schedule a complimentary session with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Using MS Office 2010 or 2013 Puts You at Risk

Office 365 IconsOn October 13, 2020, Office 2010 reached “end of support” (EOS) and Office 2013 lost its connection to the cloud. You may be one of the many small businesses using one of these versions.

It is not uncommon for SMBs to avoid upgrading software. The cause is often a perceived “lack of need” for new features and concerns about cost. Continuing to use software past EOS is risky and will likely stifle productivity.

What This Means

Past EOS, Office 2010 no longer gets security updates and bug fixes. Continuing to use Office 2010 puts you at risk from cyber attacks.

With the loss of cloud connectivity, Office 2013 can no longer access the productivity and collaboration features in Office 365 and Microsoft 365.  More than losing features, your team is missing opportunities to improve the way you work, share, and communicate.

Next Steps

Moving to Office 2019, or to Microsoft 365, upgrades your business to a modern, secure collaboration and productivity suite. Beyond email and file sharing, the suite includes collaboration, conferencing, security, advanced threat protection, and more. Microsoft 365 saves more than 70% over purchasing these solutions separately.

To protect and empower your business, now is the time to act.

 

 

 

Google Workspace: The Marvelous, the Meh, and the Money

Last week, Google made one of the biggest announcements in the 12 year history of its business productivity suite history.  G Suite is now Google Workspace. More than a name and branding change, Google Workspace represents a wholesale realignment of the productivity suite. Offering Business and Enterprise product tiers, each with multiple licensing and package options, Google Workspace is structured to match the way businesses are running today, and expect to run in the future.

With any major change, the opportunity and the impact of Google Workspace varies by business.  As we focus on small and mid-size enterprises, in this post we take a look at the Marvelous, the Meh, and the Money of Google Workspace Business editions.

The Marvelous

Google Workspace Business editions align well with the features and capabilities used by businesses with 300 or fewer employees.

  • Business Starter: This edition is a continuation of the former G Suite Basic service.   Users have 30GB of email, document, and photo storage, up to 100 participants per meeting in Google Meet, support for single sign-on, and basic device management, reports, and audit logs.
  • Business StandardThis edition increases storage to 2TB per user, allows up to 150 participants in Google Meets, and adds Shared Drives with advanced permissions, approvals, and metadata.  Business Standard also includes internal Cloud Search, advanced Drive auditing and reports, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Drive.
  • Business PremiumThe Business Premium edition is the most similar to the current G Suite Business subscription with 5TB of email, file, and photo storage per user, Shared Drives, and Vault for email and IM eDiscovery and Archiving. Users can include up to 250 participants in Google Meets. This edition also includes secure LDAP services and a set of advanced endpoint management services.

With this realignment, you can now mix licenses within your domain.  Doing so lets you optimize capabilities and costs to the needs of individual users and teams.

Google is focusing on the collaboration and work environment support most businesses need. The ability to manage document approvals and create custom metadata labels and fields in the Standard and Premium subscriptions are the types of features we expect businesses to use to improve collaboration, work flows, and efficiencies.

The Meh

For organizations currently on G Suite Business, moving to Workplace Business Standard and Premium Editions means losing unlimited storage.  While the vast majority of small and midsize businesses do not need more than 2TB or 5TB of storage, respectively, some businesses may need to move up to the Enterprise tier.

Most of our customers on G Suite Business need Vault archiving for regulatory compliance or to comply with and manage internal policies.  These organizations will need to move to Business Premium or will need Business Standard with Vault as an add-on.

As with most changes, customers will have decisions to make about when to move to the new subscriptions. While you can choose to move to a Google Workspace subscription at any time, the current G Suite subscriptions will only remain available through March 2021.

  • If you are on the monthly flex plan, you can continue to use your current G Suite service until the end of March 2021.  You will need to select and move to a Google Workspace subscription before March 31, 2021.
  • If you are on an annual plan and your renewal date is before March 31, 2021, you can either renew your current service for 1 year or switch to a Google Workspace subscription.
  • If you are on an annual plan and your renewal date is after March 31, 2021, you will need to move to a Google Workspace subscription upon renewal.

The Money

While moving from G Suite Basic to Workspace Business Starter does not impact your costs, moving from G Suite Business to Workspace Business Starter and Premium Editions will increase costs for most G Suite Business subscribers.

For G Suite Basic subscribers, your cost of $6/user per month ($72/year) remains the same with Workspace Business Starter.

For G Suite Business subscribers, your cost of $12/user per month ($144/year) may change as follows:

    • Change to Workspace Business Standard at $12/user per month ($144/year) PLUS the cost of Vault for users requiring Archive/eDiscovery coverage
    • Change to Workspace Business Premium at $18/user per month ($216/year) for complete Vault coverage and the additional features
    • Remain at $12/user per month ($144/year) if you no longer need or want Vault coverage

In April 2019, Google changed and increased pricing for G Suite Basic and Business editions.  To mitigate the financial impact, Google authorized promotional discounts for upgrades and for renewals extended term commitments. For many businesses that took advantage of these upgrades, you saw a modest price increase in 2019, an expected step to standard G Suite pricing in 2020, and may not face another increase in 2021. We are sensitive to the budget impact and are offering options to avoid or mitigate the additional costs.

Your Next Step:

Your best next step is to contact us and schedule a Cloud Advsior session. We will review your current subscription and usage, discuss your options and costs, and recommend a preferred solution that best fits your business’ needs, priorities, and budgets.  For most, the choice will be which Google Workspace subscription is best. For some, particularly those still using MS Office desktop applications, switching platforms to Microsoft 365 may provide a better alternative.  Our team is here to listen, understand, guide, and execute. Let our expertise inform your decisions and support your actions and goals.

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.


 

What You Don’t Know Can’t Help You

I expect you have heard the old saying:

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” — Anonymous

In the cloud-y world of IT services and solutions, the lesson is better expressed as:

“What you don’t know, can’t help you!” — Allen Falcon

For a long time, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) moved to the cloud to replace existing services with more efficient, secure, and accessible cloud services. This was good for a while, but the landscape has and will continue to change. Now, when we talk to SMBs like yours about current IT services and the cloud, we talk about your business objectives and priorities. We talk about your growth opportunities, challenges to overcome, and how we can help you and your business succeed.

Today’s cloud services reflect your need for business results.

Cloud services, like Microsoft 365 Business, include a range of additional apps new to Office and, in most cases, unique to the cloud.  These apps give you access to value-add tools designed to help your business, such as:

  • Outlook Customer Manager: A simple contact manager and CRM tool that integrates with your existing inbox, calendar, and contacts
  • Bookings: An app that allows customers to easily self-schedule appointments from available time slots
  • Listings: A marketing app to build online pages and presence on Facebook, Google, and other platforms
  • MileIQ: Automated mileage tracking app for expense reports and/or tax filings
  • Connections: An easy-to-use app for simple email marketing tasks and campaigns
  • Flow: Automate processes, work flows, and approvals

These apps are joined by low-cost add-on services that let you to consolidate and simplify your IT environment — and save money.  For example, in Microsoft 365, adding PSTN conferencing gives you a standard telephone bridge for any Skype for Business or Teams conference call.  You can replace paid conferencing and web meeting services like WebEx, Zoom, and GoToMeeting with a tool that truly integrates with Outlook, your inbox, and your calendar.  At a cost of only $4 per user per month, and the ability to limit your purchase to users with a defined need, you can dramatically lower the cost of audio and video conferencing while providing a better experience for organizers and attendees.

Clearly, Microsoft 365 is not simply “Office in the Cloud.”  The value-add apps, low cost add-on services, and more than a half dozen additional security features in Microsoft 365 create a more robust ecosystem for productivity, efficiency, and growth.

The Challenge is Adoption.

Adding value only happens when your team is aware of, and knows how to use, the broad range of capabilities in services like Microsoft 365.  Getting your team from Point A to Point B, and then Point C, takes effort.

Here are some ideas to help you empower your team and enable your business:

  • Don’t Overwhelm:
    • Presenting too many capabilities, or too much training, all at once can overwhelm your team. Instead of understanding how they can do their jobs more efficiently, they may feel lost.
    • Not knowing where to start leads to paralysis.
  • Start with the Familiar:
    • Even the traditional Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.) have features that are unique to the Microsoft 365 versions and ecosystem.
    • Refresh your team’s knowledge of the apps they already use and know, adding these incremental productivity features into the mix.
  • Focus on Capabilities Specific to each Role:
    • Not every person needs every app or feature.
    • Focus on matching specific features, apps, and capabilities to the people on your team that will benefit the most.
    • Lessons and learning should be relevant to each team member’s job.
  • Provide Continuous Learning for Continuous Improvement:
    • Make learning an on-going activity that happens in small, manageable events.
    • 3 to 5 minutes per day, less than 20 minutes per week, can provide team members with ideas and insight they can put to immediate use.
  • Create a Culture of Learning:
    • Incent participation to set clear expectations and establish value for the learning process.
    • Monitor team member participation and progress.
    • Provide feedback and encouragement, particularly to the “leaders” and “laggers”.
    • Encourage team members to share their knowledge with peers.

Getting more value from your existing IT and cloud solutions starts when your team understands what is there for them, and how to use it to their advantage.  Improving adoption improves results, and need not be a major cost or time commitment.


Cumulus Global offers a self-paced, video learning system that tailors content to roles within your organization.  For more information, contact us for a brief call with one of our Cloud Advisors.


 

Pending Storm; Pending Doom

A quick scan of the weather headlines late on Thursday afternoon: a “Nor’easter” storm going through rapid escalation, know as “Bombogenisis”, looks ready to hit New England tomorrow with rain, snow and hurricane force wind gusts. Now it is Sunday, and many small and midsize businesses along the northeastern coast are wondering when, or if, they will be able to reopen. The impact of disasters is increasing. We can argue about climate change versus weather. We can discuss our aging infrastructure. We can debate whether to plan for disaster causes or effects. If we do not, however, make our businesses more resilient, the quantity and severity of disruptions will continue to grow.

The coming storm should not foretell coming doom.

By taking advantage of proven cloud services, most small and midsize businesses can protect themselves from disruption. Many businesses in coastal areas of New England may be without power and other utilities for 2 to 4 days. Businesses with no continuity plan are down and out. Given that about 50% of businesses shut down for a week will fail within six months, “down and out” can be fatal. If you rely on VPN or remote desktop to on-premise systems, you are still at risk — no power means no on-premise networks or servers.

Businesses with key systems in the cloud, however, can be up and running if employees have power and Internet access.

So what are your next steps?

First, measure the impact on your business of a disruption lasting one day, three days, and five days?  As you do, consider the full cost of recovery, including post-disaster productivity loss as your work to recover lost data and time while keeping things moving forward.

Second, consider the value of keeping your business running rather than having to recover and regroup. Beyond the dollars and cents, understand the value to your customers, to your reputation.

Third, contact us for a complimentary Cloud Advisor Session to discuss your cloud and continuity strategies.

Moving Cloud Gets Real

SMB Cloud Tipping PointCloud Computing is reaching a tipping point for small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) as the number and value of cloud-based applications and systems surpasses those running on site. Beyond email, SMBs use Software-as-a-Service solutions for customer relationship management, operations, finance, customer service, and vendor/supply chain management. SMBs want better integration between SaaS solutions and custom-built solutions to further enhance operations, marketing, sales, and the bottom line. Over the next few years, bots, machine learning/AI, and business intelligence will become the norm for SMBs as well as larger enterprises.

SMBs are moving core systems, infrastructure, and services to the cloud.

If all you have left on premise are your Active Directory services, some of your file and print servers/services, and a few business applications, moving your remaining IT services to the cloud makes sense. You can provide the same applications, data, and services without maintaining the physical infrastructure while enabling better integration of systems, processes, and information.

3 Strategies

You have three basic strategies to choose from when moving apps and systems to the cloud:

  • Beautify
    • Also referred to as “lift and load”, this strategy works best when you have (1) a custom-built application; (2) a customized system that cannot migrate to the vendor’s SaaS offering; and/or (3) a solution you do not want to further modify or rebuild as a cloud app.
    • In this scenario, we create cloud-based networks and servers to host and run your existing systems “as-is” with remote, secure access.
    • This option is an effective interim step to a more complete cloud solution.
  • Buy
    • In this scenario, you “buy” a SaaS solution from your current software vendor or move from your existing system to a new SaaS solution.
    • Your ability to “buy” depends on the capabilities of the SaaS solution(s) versus your current system usage and needs. For example, many businesses find that the SaaS version of Quickbooks lacks features and reports that they need an use.
  • Build
    • As the name implies, build means you are replacing an app or system with a new, cloud-based solution.
    • With the current evolution in bots, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and tools, many of your existing processes can be automated by cloud-native services with little or no traditional programming.
    • No-code and low-code solutions are the wave of the future.

Next Steps

Which strategy, or combination of strategies, is best for your business depends on several factors, starting with business goals, objectives, and priorities. Current capabilities, needed features/functions, competitive positioning, internal culture, cost, and value all come into play. When you properly plan and execute your cloud migration, you should see tangible and intangible benefits.


Contact us to discuss the possibilities and opportunities for your business.


 

The Curse and Blessing of Office 365 Licensing

Office 365If you ask IT pros about Office 365 licensing, they are likely to roll their eyes.

If you ask which license is right for you, the conversation will likely start with a heavy sigh. Microsoft has 6 primary Office 365 license options for business, several add-ons, a number of special-purpose licenses, and over a dozen stand-alone and value-add products.

The Curse is Confusion

Between the number of options and the frantic rate of new features and updates, we are not surprised when companies complain that picking the “right license” is confusing. You end up bouncing between tabs and browsers, comparing feature lists that never seem to have enough detail. You struggle to find which add-ons work with each license type. You may not even know where to look for specialty licenses that can save you money. And with the rapid growth of features and functions, you wonder if the web pages you scour for information reflect the latest updates and options.

The Blessing is Customization

You can escape the confusion. And, in doing so, you can customize your Office 365 licensing plan to best meet your needs. With “too many options”, you can mix and match licenses to the needs of your users. You can tailor the feature sets for groups of users and lower your average cost per user at the same time. You can decide when to rely on built-in features or third party solutions to meet specific business requirements. You can decide which users get add-ons and which do not.

The Key is Understanding

The good news: with guidance and understanding of the Office 365 and Microsoft 365 licensing structures, you can plan and implement subscriptions that meet your organization’s needs at the most affordable cost. By looking beyond Microsoft-only options to select third party tools, you can mix in lower cost licenses without sacrificing compliance, threat protection, telephony, and needed features. You can map out a strategy that enables hybrid computing and services and capabilities move to the cloud over time. You can integrate your cloud an on-premise environments into a seamless service.

The better news: you do not need to gbecome an expert.  Our Cloud Advisors, backed by experts from Microsoft, are ready to assess your needs, explore alternatives, and design solutions options. You gain understanding and select the option that best fits with your needs, priorities, and budget.

Your Next Step is ….

If you haven’t settled on a Office 365 or G Suite as your cloud suite, or if you think you should change from one to the other, your next step is our Which Cloud Analysis.  You complete a comprehensive survey and we provide a formal report that assesses your needs and environment and provides specific recommendations. We will also schedule a Cloud Advisor Session to review and discuss our findings and recommendations.

If you have decided, or currently use, Office 365, contact us to schedule a Cloud Advisor Session to review your environment and needs.  We will help you assess, plan, and implement a solution that delivers the value you want and need.


 

library

State of Security for Small and Midsize Businesses

State of Security for SMBseBook | Source: Microsoft

If you work at a small or medium-sized business (SMB), you probably juggle multiple roles, including cyber security.

Gone are the days when cybercrime was exclusively a big business problem. In the modern workplace, all businesses are at risk regardless of their size or industry. Businesses recognize that a cyber security  program is an essential part of running a company.

This eBook identifies key findings from studies and surveys for small and midsize businesses and makes recommendations to ensure your business is protected, and can recover, from cyber attacks.

Please confirm the information, below, to view and download the ebook



Protect Your Business – Top 3 Security Threats

Protect Your BusinesseBook | Source: Microsoft

Security threats take many forms. Most owners of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are aware of the need to defend against the top three — viruses, ransomware, and phishing attacks — but their organizations are generally not as prepared to deal with the risks related to employees leaking data or sharing sensitive information, whether maliciously or accidentally.

You face many of the same threats as larger organizations, but also the unique challenges around budgeting and setting priorities as the leader of a small or medium-sized business.

This eBook explores how you can safeguard your business against the top three security threats, plus the one threat your business is probably overlooking.

Please confirm the information, below, to view and download the ebook



Crash Course in Office 365

Office 365 Crash CourseeBook | Source: Microsoft

How Microsoft 365 and Office 365 can help you grow your business.

You already know the productivity power of Office applications like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Full adoption empowers you to access your content from any device, coauthor with anyone in real time (regardless of whether or not they’ve purchased a copy of Office), and use the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to create more impactful content with less effort.

This eBook is a six step crash course in empowering your team by leveraging the capabilities and features of Office 365 and Microsoft 365.

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Global Year in Breach – 2021

eBook | Source: ID Agent

Fundamental changes in the way we lived and worked made 2020 a wild year for cybersecurity professionals. The resilience of every company was tested in the midst of a pandemic-induced, volatile economy as threats snowballed in the wake of a rapid shift to remote workforce support.

Adding to, and perhaps fueled by, those challenges, a cybercrime boom that included record-breaking phishing and ransomware threats ratcheted up the stress. Sectors unaccustomed to being targeted by cybercriminals suddenly found themselves under siege while unprepared companies quickly learned the cost of failing to take cybersecurity seriously.

The Global Year in Breach 2021 report, gathers and analyzes data from industry-leading cybersecurity
solutions, combined with illuminating industry statistics to give you a clear picture of how the data breach landscape evolved in 2020.

Through this lens, this report provides insights into how global events can rapidly transform the cybersecurity landscape. The report forecasts continuing and emerging cybersecurity trends for 2021 and provides helpful advice about smart risk mitigations that fit every business and every budget.

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Google Workspace Security

Google Workspace SecurityeBook | Source: Google

We fully understand the security implications of powering your business in the cloud.

Because Google and our enterprise services run on the same infrastructure, your organization will benefit from the protections we have built and use every day.

      • Secure by design
      • Product security innovation
      • Compliance, eDiscovery, and analytics
      • Transparency

Our robust global infrastructure, along with over 700 security professionals and our drive to innovate, enables Google to  stay ahead of the curve and offer a highly secure, reliable, and compliant environment.

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Make it Work: The Future of Collaboration and Productivity

Make it WorkeBook | Source: Google

Many of the technologies , trends , and cultural norms that will shape tomorrow’s workplaces are already transforming forward thinking organizations around the world. In other words , the future of work is here it’s just not evenly distributed.

This report identifies three important and impactful changes businesses  can make to catch up with competitors that are already working in the  future:

  • Give people the tools to save time and work faster
  • Empower people to access knowledge and share ideas
  • Let people work how they want: flexibly and collaboratively

Armed with these three strategies , businesses can improve productivity and encourage innovation while better  meeting the needs of their customers and their employees now and in the decade (or more) ahead.

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Unblocking Workplace Collaboration

Unblocking Workplace CollaborationeBook | Source: Microsoft

A lack of workplace collaboration – a work environment that doesn’t encourage teamwork – is one of the top 5 reasons people quit their jobs.

Today’s workforce is more collaborative than ever. Unfortunately, though, many modern workplaces lack the tools to make collaboration efficient, effective, and enjoyable.

The solution lies in building workplace collaboration. Strategically break down collaboration blockers so that teams can work together with ease. To accomplish that, business are turning to  collaboration suites that allow employees to communicate and share through a single platform.

This eBook explores 5 collaboration blocks that likely impact your business and outlines solutions, featuring the capabilities and features of Office 365 and Microsoft 365.

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Google Workspace Migration Guide

Google Workspace Migration GuideeBook | Source: Google

Whatever your business’s reasons for considering a switch in collaboration tools — a merger or acquisition, the desire to become a  more collaborative, innovative and transparent organization, or simply a  technology audit — change can provoke anxiety and disruption, even  when it is for the better.

What are your goals, and what makes one technology solution the best fit?

Here are some insights that can help facilitate a smooth transition to new workplace productivity tools at all stages — with specifics on Google Workspace — from decision to preparation to deployment to upkeep.

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Six Types of Remote Workers and How to Support Them

Six Types of Remote WorkerseBook | Source: Microsoft

Great teams build great companies. And remote workers will be part of your team.

How do you best use technology to keep your employees and business as efficient as possible? Understand the six types of remote workers who impact your team and

  • Evaluate their technical needs
  • Assess their remote work styles
  • Help them simplify and enhance their work, across devices

Solutions like Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium bring new levels of productivity to your business.

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The Ultimate Meeting Guide

Ultimate Meeting GuideeBook | Source: Microsoft

Do you want, or need, better meetings?

Meetings remain an essential part of doing business as they ensure your teams stay on the same page with the information they need to get things done.

Unfortunately, meetings get a bad rap for taking up time and resources — ultimately costing your business. Many businesses experience a sizable gap between the increasing number of meetings and the value derived from the time spent in these meetings.

What can you do? The simple answer for better meetings is to:

  • Conduct simple, direct meetings
  • Focus on clear action items
  • Ensure time spent feels convenient and useful for your employees.

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