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4 More Protections for Your Business

Data protection iconIn our last blog post, we identified 3 must-have protections for any business using Google Workspace or Microsoft 365.

  • Backup/Recovery
  • Advanced Threat Protection
  • Multi-Factor Authentication

In combination, these protections help prevent successful attacks and give you the ability to recover should an attack be successful.

Here are 4 more protections for your business

Putting these protections in place improves your ability to prevent attacks, and your ability to survive.

1 Next-Gen Endpoint Protection

Basic anti-virus protection is not enough. Scanning files for known or similar patterns will not protect you from modern malware or ransomware.

Next-Gen Endpoint Protection solutions use advanced heuristics, behavior analysis, and machine learning to assess threats in real-time.  These solutions identify attacks, prevent them from running, and roll-back damaging activity.

2 DNS and Web Protection

Cyber attacks are not all breaches. Attackers can use DNS to block your use of the Internet or to impersonate you and your business. Both types of attacks hurt your business and your reputation.

Between 15% and 20% of malware is downloaded without your knowledge from websites. This malware is often hidden in third party content on websites your trust.

DNS protection creates a protective barrier that prevents others using your DNS service against you. Web Protection blocks dangerous web sites and prevents malware downloads to your devices.

3 Employee Communication and Education

Ignorance is not bliss. Employees who know are less likely to make a mistake and trigger an attack or breach. You want your team to understand:

  • The danger of cyber attacks and how to avoid them
  • The likely damage form cyber attacks
  • What to look for
  • What not to do

Employee communication and education is key to creating an aware and resilient team. Combined with testing and guidance, a communication and education program reinforces positive behaviors with on-going guidance and support.

4 Business Continuity for On-Premise Systems

Most small and midsize businesses still have some on-premise systems. The connectivity and integration across systems creates an increased risk for damage and loss. Even with backup/recovery in place, restoring systems, databases, applications, and data can take days. You want, and need, to be back in business quickly — in minutes or hours.

Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BCDR) solutions enable you to resume operations within minutes using images of your systems running in cloud data centers. With BCDR in place, your business runs smoothly while you recover your on-premise systems.

Failing to protect your data and systems is a failure to protect your business.  Contact us for a free assessment of your data and business protection needs.

3 Must-Have Protections for Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace

Data protection iconMicrosoft 365 and Google Workspace protect your data using a shared responsibility model.  They provide redundancy and backup to ensure your service is performing, available, reliable, and secure.  You are responsible for controlling access, managing permission, and protecting your data from loss.

Here  are 3 Must-Have Protections for your Microsoft or Google Cloud Services

 

1Backup Protection for your Data

Data in the cloud is just like data stored on local servers and workstations. Information in in Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace can be lost due to accidents or malicious acts.

  • User action — overwrites and deletes — can destroy content and files, whether accidental or deliberate.
  • Malware and ransomware corrupt files that sync to OneDrive, SharePoint, and Google Drive, can damage or delete your files.
  • Integrated third party apps can damage or delete information.

You need, and want, the ability to restore files, emails, contacts, and other information. A secure backup/recovery solution protects your data, and your business.

2Advanced Threat Protection

Cyber attacks come in many forms. The most common and most effective attacks still use email. Cyber criminals use behavior science and advanced phishing techniques to access your systems, collect personal information, steal data, and ransom your business.

Advanced Threat Protection (“ATP”) is more than “spam and virus protection.” ATP uses machine learning, advanced analytics and heuristics, and behavior analysis to identify and prevent cyber attacks from reaching your inbox. Methods like sandboxing safely test links and attachments before delivery.

Even an educated and aware team can and will fall prey to attacks. Prevention is key.

3  Multi-Factor Authentication

Your team members are human. While they may understand and respect the need for robust and unique passwords, human nature always tries to balance convenience.  Studies show that 70% of us will use the same, or substantially similar, passwords across systems. A hack or breach in a third-party tool poses a significant risk to your employees’ work identities.

A compromised identity does not enable access when you have additional authentication steps. Authenticator apps, dynamic security codes, and security tags/fobs each add physical verification to your digital access.

With cyber attacks on the rise, better protection is worth the minor inconvenience of multi factor authentication. Multi factor authentication delivers one of the best protections against breaches and unauthorized access.

Failing to protect your data in Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 is a failure to protect your business.  Contact us for a free assessment of your data and business protection needs.

Be Careful with your COVID-19 Cuts

Almost all of our businesses are feeling the impact of COVID-19.  Revenues and cash flows are down and some costs are rising.  We are all looking for ways to cut expenses. Information technology and services can be a good place to find savings.

As you look to reduce costs, be careful about what services you cut.  Cutting services seen as ancillary or support can save you money in the short term.  Looking forward, cutting any of these services creates real risks that larger problems with bigger costs will impact your business.

Cloud Backup Services

It is tempting to drop your cloud backup service, particularly if you have rarely had to restore, the likelihood you will need to recover lost or damaged content is increasing.  The increased use of home computers and “shadow IT” services, along with an increase in cyber attacks, leads to more accidental and intentional damage and loss. And with more work being done remotely, the reliance on your electronic files, and cloud-resident data in particular, is higher than ever.

Advanced Threat Protection

Almost all email services, including Microsoft 365 and G Suite, have sophisticated malware and virus protections built-in.  They are not, however, your best defense against rapidly changing cyber attacks.  Advanced threat protection provides the extra measure of protection against sophisticated attacks that take advantage of human nature and behaviors and new (zero-hour) attacks. By validating sources and links, and testing links and attachments in a safe sandbox, advanced threat protection can prevent the carnage of ransomware and identity theft.  With a significant spike in phishing attacks, now is not the time to lower your guard.

Service and Support Agreements

It can easy to overlook the value of service and support agreements, particularly if you do not feel that you use them often enough.  Don’t measure the value of these agreements by the cost per call or cost per hour. The value is the time, money, and aggravation saved by having resources on-call that can identify and solve problems, train and guide your users, make system changes, and manage your services. The value is not just in the 15 minutes help, it is having access to resources with the knowledge and experience to address the issue in 15 minutes instead of 15 hours.

By selecting your cuts carefully, you can save money while protecting your business.

See our companion post for more about Where to Look for IT Savings.


For help evaluating your IT environment for efficiency, please contact us to schedule a free Cloud Advisor session, or take a look at our Recovery Road Map Assessment.


 

 

Ensure Your Team is Working from Home Safely

(Published 4/21/20)


The rush to get your employees setup and working from home is over; now is the time to take a step back and make sure your team is working effectively and that you are protecting your data and that of your customers.

Here is a simple checklist:

Give Employees Business Software

If you have MS Office licensed through an Office 365 subscription, you have the ability to install each user’s license on multiple computers and devices. Use this licensing to make sure your team does not run into version compatibility issues.  If you have an Office 365 subscription, you can also ensure employees are logged into your domain/tenant and files are automatically backed up to OneDrive or SharePoint file systems.

Give Employees Endpoint Protection

If employees are using home computers for work, the non-work activity on that machine poses a malware and ransomware risk to your business.  Even if your employee has a consumer antivirus tool in place, you should layer next-gen, advanced threat protection.  Solutions like Webroot are designed to coexist with local protections. The solution also gives you control over the security footprint of machines accessing your systems and data.

Give Employees Web Filtering / DNS Protection

Between 20% and 35% of malware attacks originate from infected websites and DNS attacks.  Adding web filtering/DNS protection allows your employees and their families to safely surf without putting your business at risk.

Properly Configure Desktop File Sync Utilities

Whether using Office 365 or G Suite, enabling a desktop sync tool gives your employees seamless access to your cloud-based files. Rather than syncing, configure the agent to serve as a mapping tool. Files cache locally while in use for performance; data remains securely in your cloud; users have easy and familiar access.

Put a Policy in Place

Make sure you have an appropriate policy in place, to protect your employees and your business. We are sharing a simple draft policy you can use and adapt to your needs.

Partnering for G Suite Productivity

Partner for ProductivityG Suite is more than an email, calendar, and simple file sharing service.  G Suite is a productivity suite that serves as a platform for a range of tools that helps your team, and your business, work more effectively.

9 ways your team can be more productive with G Suite:

  1. Share Files, Not Copies:
    Stop sending attachments. Stop wasting time figuring out of the copy of the file in you inbox, on your local drive, or on a shared folder is the most current. Whether you use Google Docs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations or you continuing using Microsoft Office, Google Drive and Team Drives serves your files rather than just sharing them.  People share via link, so all comments, suggestions, and edits are made within a single copy of the file. Versioning keeps this orderly and gives you the ability to look back and compare.
  2. Serve Files, Not File Servers:
    Use Team Drives and Drive File Stream to provide users with “explorer” access to files from Macs, PCs, and local software. Store files under central ownership and managed permissions; avoid performance and capacity problems with unlimited storage. Allow team members to work remotely and securely on computers, tablets, and mobile devices without VPNs and remote desktop services slowing things down.
  3. Communicate, Don’t Just Text:
    Most laptops now have microphones, speakers, and Bluetooth features similar to your smartphones and tablets. Have face to face conversations using Hangouts Meet instead of long email threads, phone tag, or text messaging. Communication is 55% non-verbal. Let you employees see and hear each other, your vendors, and your customers. You can share screens to live document reviews and discussions. Why pay extra for a conferencing service?
  4. Collaboration, Don’t Just Comment:
    True, Google Docs allow contributors to comment and suggest edits. You can also collaborate in real-time or as each participant is able. Version history lets you look back at who contributed, when, and where. You can name versions to track official revisions or specific working copies of documents.
  5. Schedule Productivity, Not Just Appointments:
    Your personal and shared calendars track your time as well as project or team activities. Resource calendars let you book rooms or any scheduled resource. Integrated with Hangout Meets, automatically include voice and video conferencing for the human touch. Integrated with Chrome for Meetings and you have 1-click video conferencing with screen sharing in your conference rooms.
  6. Manage Customer Relationships, Not Data:
    Integrated CRM applications, automatically pull person and company data into your CRM records and automatically track inbound and outbound emails with your prospects. Side panel gives you “pane of glass” access and context from within your Gmail inbox.
  7. Manage Communications, Not Data:
    Integrated sales and marketing tools, empower you team to better manage marketing, sales, and service communications without leaving your Gmail inbox.  Templates, mail merge, and tracking save time and energy as you drive your sales pipeline forward.
  8. Automate Tasks, Not People:
    Automate workflows and repetitive tasks, and build simple apps to boost productivity with AppMaker. The Low-code/no-code tool means you don’t need a cadre of programmers. Free up task time for more valuable activities.
  9. Protect Your Business; Not Just Data:
    Compliant archiving and e-discovery covers your email communications and your documents. Integrated solutions provide third party backup/recovery protection from accidental or intentional damage and loss. Cloud-to-cloud backup is less costly and requires less admin effort than traditional file server protection services.

Get the most value from your G Suite platform:

  • Verify you are on the right version of G Suite, with the capabilities that best meet your needs
  • Help your team learn how to use the G Suite apps to their fullest
  • Integrate 3rd party solutions for line of business needs, such as marketing, sales, and service

Please contact us for a free Cloud Advisor session to discuss getting the most value from G Suite.


 

Celebrate Data Privacy Day with a Free Workshop

Privacy RefYou may or may not know that International Data Privacy Day is January 28.  To celebrate, our strategic partner, Privacy Ref, is offering a free 2 hour workshop on Privacy Program Fundamentals.

Join us on January 25, 2017 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM EST for this valuable session.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Defining privacy
  • Foundational privacy concepts
  • Components of a privacy program
  • Privacy frameworks
  • Managing privacy risk
  • Metrics for privacy
  • Training & awareness activities

Please click here to register!


Interested in ensuring your business is protected?  Explore our Privacy Solutions, including our Privacy Assessment and Planning and our Privacy Training services.


 

The Cost of Ransomware

The cyber criminals behind ransomware see their efforts as a volume business.  Charge too much, and victims will not pay. Targeting businesses and organizations in wealthier countries and in cities where people and businesses are most likely able to pay, the typical ransom is often about $500.  More recently, we have heard of ransoms between 1 and 2 bitcoin (about US$600 to US$1300).

The ransom is only part of the cost

Every victim loses productivity from the start of the attack until it is fully resolved. Whether or not you pay, you still need to conduct a full sweep of all of your systems to ensure the ransomware has been removed. Otherwise, you risk reinfection.

For organizations that pay the ransom, they still suffer the time and cost of decrypting and validating files, a process that can consume days or weeks of IT resources. If you choose not to pay, you have the cost of recovering data from before the attacks and re-creating lost information across all of your servers, systems, and applications. We recently spoke with a company that lost less than 6 months of data. After three months, they are still working to recreate lost files and transactions as they have no way of knowing if they have missed any.

A ransomware attack can cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean up. Attacks may also damage valuable customer and vendor relationships and result in higher bookkeeping, accounting, and legal fees.

A dollar of prevention ….

The costs associated with prevention and the ability to recover quickly (should an attack breach your defenses) is relatively minor. The value of prevention and preparation is well worth the cost.

Learn more …

You can protect your business against ransomware attacks. In our new eBook, a Business Guide to Ransomware, you will learn how malware spreads, the different types of ransomware proliferating today, and what you can do to avoid or recover from an attack. Hiding your head in the sand does not work, because today’s ransom seekers play dirty. Make sure your organization is prepared.


For a 1:1 consultation and assessment of your risk, contact us today.


A Better Cloud Admin Solution

BetterCloud Logo
With over 200 new features add yearly, the capability of Google Apps is growing in features and capabilities. Across our customer base, we see adoption and use of these features by individuals and teams growing as well.

You want and need to understand how Google Apps is being used, and working, for your business. With more collaboration and data in the cloud, you want to ensure that documents are properly shared, with appropriate privacy and protections. At the same time, we want to keep administration simple and efficient.

We have a solution:

BetterCloud recently release a new tiered service designed to solve each of these issues, and you can try it for free.

BetterCloud Basic is a Domain Health Center for your Google Apps domain, letting you monitor activity, define alerts, and analyze usage.

BetterCloud Pro is a robust suite of administration and management tools for Google Apps that simply admin tasks with an expanded set of controls that save you time and effort.

BetterCloud Enterprise adds auditing, discovery, compliance, and data loss prevention features, giving you the ability to monitor, manage, and mitigate data permissions and exposures in real time.

 

You can try BetterCloud for free, and without obligation.  Here’s our offer:

We will …

  • Install BetterCloud Basic for free in your Google Apps domain
  • Activate a no-obligation, 30 day trial of the BetterCloud Enterprise and Pro Features
  • Over the course of the free trial, we will highlight and demonstrate key features, including running a basic data security audit report for your review

At the end of the the trial, you decide if the cost/benefit of BetterCloud Pro or Enterprise is appropriate for your domain, and we will keep you subscribed. If not, you can keep using BetterCloud Basic for free.

To keep it simple, you can request the trial with two clicks.  Click here* to open a request email, then click Send.  Our team will promptly respond and activate your free trial.


*If you purchased Google Apps directly from Google, or another partner, we can still provide the trial. We also offer license discounts and other incentives for moving your account over to us. Contact us if you are interested in the savings and/or our services.


 

USPS Data Breach: What SMBs Can Learn


As a small or mid-size business, you probably do not worry about hackers and data breaches. Your information is safely stored in-house or in a secure cloud service.  You do not have trade secrets or intellectual property coveted by foreign governments or industry. You accept credit cards, but those transactions are processed, saved, and secured by the credit card processor … you do not even have credit card numbers in your files or systems. It is not unreasonable for you to think that you are not a data breach target.

You are wrong.

The recent data breach at the US Postal Service should, however, serve as a wake up call. Hackers breached USPS systems not for customer data or credit card information; the hackers stole HR records for hundreds of thousands of postal employees and retirees (customer data was just a bonus). And, while the hackers were not able to go on an immediate debit-card spending spree, they captured all of the data necessary to steal identities — names, addresses, social security numbers, and more.

Regardless of your size, any personally identifiable information in your possession is an incentive for criminals. And you don’t need to be big to be caught. A stolen laptop, compromised account, or lost USB stick can enable data breaches in systems you think are secure.

Malware is the inbound marketing tool for hackers and identity thieves. 

When malware spreads, it makes its way onto business computers that the hackers may never have known existed. Malware often sits in wait, capturing passwords or other information and communicating the information to servers half way around the world. Hackers can then use this information to assess the value of the target and to gain more access to even more data. Hackers may also sell this information to other criminals.

Your business needs protection in place, and awareness of the scope of the problem is the first step.  Permissions monitoring and management, web filtering, device protection, endpoint protection, mobile device management, and user data protection may all be components of your solution.


Please contact us for a complimentary review of your current data protection coverage.

 

Restore Google Drive Files Offers Some (but not enough?) Protection

google drive
Among the myriad of new features and upgrades announced at Google I/O this week, Google added the ability to restore users’ Drive files that have been deleted from the Trash folder.

While offering some protection, the feature is limited in its scope.

  • You cannot restore individual files; you can only restore all files deleted within a date range you provide.  The minimum date range is 1 day (24 hours).
  • You can only restore files for individual users, one at a time.
  • You can only restore files that were deleted from Trash within 25 days.
  • When restoring files, the permissions are not restored.  Only the user will have access to the files.

With these limitations, we do not expect the ability to restore a user’s Google Drive files will be of great use to most organizations.  With a limited retention period and lack of granularity, the tool provides a big shovel when most users need a spoon.

The solution also depends on users’ ability to recover information from the Trash folder, a process we find difficult at times due to the limited ability to search Trash in Drive.

True backup/recovery solutions give users and administrators that critical features that deliver more usability and effectiveness:

  • Flexible retention:  Allow organizations to implement policies related document and records management, including extended retention and removal of data past retention windows.
  • File-Level / Item-Level Restore: Most data loss and restore needs result from human error or action and impact fewer than 5 files.  Acceptable restore capabilities include the ability to restore individual files (or entire accounts) and should include the ability to select file by version or point in time.
  • Protect Meta Data:  Protect the meta data as well as the files themselves.  File ownership, permissions, etc. should be preserved and recoverable with the file.
  • Data Export:  Provide the ability to export data so that it may be migrated to other accounts and/or other systems.
  • Administrative Control:  Identify and allow backup/restore administrators that are not full domain administrators.

Absent many of these features, the ability within Google Apps to restore a user’s Drive files is a limited feature that will not meet most organizations’ needs for data protection.

Third party backup/restore solutions are still a necessary and appropriate component of a robust Google Apps environment.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to explore backup/recovery options and solutions.

library

SaaS Protection Buyer’s Guide

eBook Source: Cumulus Global

Microsoft, Google, and other cloud providers backup their infrastructure. They ensure that their services are running and accessible. You, however, are responsible for managing, securing, and protecting your data.

This eBook guides you through common myths about cloud services, why SaaS protection is important, and selecting your SaaS protection solution.

Please confirm you information below to view and download the eBook.