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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.


 

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.

 

Backing up Google Apps: A Smart Idea or a Needed Service?

As companies move their systems and data from on-premise servers into cloud computing solutions, companies maintain control of their data.  Control over the systems that house the data, however, belongs to the cloud provider.  The same is true for businesses moving to Google Apps.

When businesses move to Google Apps, they are trusting Google’s fault-tolerant, grid-based architecture to run with any disruptions due to hardware or software failures.  But a reliable system cannot prevent all forms of data loss.

  • 75% of incidents involving sensitive data lossare caused by human error, according to the IT Policy Compliance Group, as reported in PC World.
  • 32% of data loss is due to user error, according to Gartner surveys, cited by the SANS Institute.
  • 70% of companies go out of business after a major data loss, according to DTI as cited by the SANS Institute.

While Google protects you from data loss due to system failure, Google cannot protect you from data loss due to user error (or malicious act).

Nor can Google protect you from data loss or corruption caused by third party applications. These applications pose new and different risks as these application range from integrated applications installed through the Google Apps cPanel to tablet and smart phone apps users may install themselves on personal devices.  In the emerging world of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), monitoring and managing third party applications is a challenge.

Given the risks, backing up your data in Google Apps seems smart, but is it necessary and worth the expense?

If information is lost or damaged, the cost can be staggering.  Lost contract amendments may prevent a business from getting paid in full; Missing emails can create customer service nightmares;  Corrupt data can cause employees and customers to lose confidence in your business.

And beyond tangible losses, the cost of recovery adds up quickly.  Losing a day’s worth of work costs more than the lost day.  Recovery takes time and resources and disrupt your normal business activities.  A loss of one day of work that takes one day to recovery, actually costs your business 3 to 5 days of lost productivity.

In comparison, protecting your data in Google Apps from user error and third party applications costs between $3 and $8 per user per month.  Given the value of your data, the cost and impact of lost data, and the cost of recovery, backing up your data in Google Apps is an affordable insurance policy.

Affordable protection for your data is a service you should want and probably need.