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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

Myth Busting

Myth-Busting Monday: Office 365 is not just Office “Online”

Office 365Even with the growing adoption, many still see Microsoft Office 365 as “Office in the Cloud”.

In fact, Office 365 is an entirely different suite of services.  Yes, Office 365 Business Premium and Enterprise licenses include the MS Office apps we know and use — Outlook, Work, Excel, Powerpoint, and more.  But Office 365 is not just a suite of productivity tools.

Microsoft Office 365 is a business communication, collaboration, and information management ecosystem.

Office 365 licenses can include:

  • OneNote – Multimedia note taking from any platform
  • SharePoint – Collaboration platform for file sharing, intranets, document management, workflows, and information management
  • OneDrive – Personal and shared file storage
  • Skype for Business – Voice, secure IM, video meetings, and presence management
  • Yammer – Social collaboration for business
  • Power BI – Wizard driven business analytics
  • Sway – Web 2.0 publishing to tell your story
  • Planner – Project and task management

As important as the suite of tools, Office 365 can change the way your team works together.  With your data secure and in the cloud, you share information rather than attaching files to endless chains of emails. Your team has the ability to work anytime, from anywhere, from nearly any device. Your people are connected because the data and information they use is connected.

So if you haven’t moved into the cloud, stop thinking of Office 365 as hosted email and some apps. Start thinking about how you want to improve your business. Then use Office 365 to make it happen.

Already on Office 365 and feel like you’re not using it to its fullest potential? Ask us about our adoption and engagement programs.


This is the first of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.  Contact Us for more information or a free Cloud Advisor session.


 

Tuesday Take-Away: Gain Control of Your Email – Inbox Zero Academy

Sanbox Chalkboard
Email Overload is a Global Epidemic !

According to a recent McKinsey study, an average person spends 13 hours/week reading and replying to emails, a completely reactive activity, which is not part of anyone’s job description. What a waste of time!

The team at Sanebox has spent the last 5 years helping professionals fall in love with their email again. They’ve done a ton of research, talked to thousands of customers and compiled their findings into a series of bite-sized lessons. Most of them are extremely easy, while others will take some discipline.

Inbox Zero Academy is here to help you get to Inbox Zero every day!

Get 1 bite-sized lesson in your inbox every day, for 10 days. No more, no less.

Click here to sign up for the Inbox Zero Academy today.


For more information about Sanebox, our preferred Inbox Zero solution, click here.


 

5 Ways Google Apps Will Help Your Business

 

Not just an email service, Google Apps is a business platform that enables efficiency and productivity by giving your team better communication and collaboration tools.

In less than 12 minutes, Cumulus Global’s CEO Allen Falcon identifies 5 ways that Google Apps will help your business.

1) Improved Communications

2) Collaboration — More and Better

3) Secure Access — from anywhere at anytime

4) Business Continuity

5) Lower Operating Costs — instead of CapEx + OpEx 

The video is a recording of Allen’s Standing Room Only seminar at the Central Mass Business Expo in September 2014.  Click Here to view the recording and contact us for more information and a free assessment of your business’ cloud potential.


 

 

Moving from SBS? 6 Questions to Ask

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Back in 2012, Microsoft announced the end of life for the Small Business Server (SBS) product line (see SBS End of Life: Microsoft Punishes Small Businesses).  As with any retiring technologies, some organizations will wait to move until there is a current need.  If something works, why fix it?

With Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 reach end of life as well, many are taking a new look at whether now is the time to move.

Here are 6 questions to ask before you make the move.

1) Does cloud-based email work for your business?

While many focus on why you should NOT move to cloud-based email, services like Google Apps for Business provide the security and privacy controls — and support encryption and other services — needed to meet pretty much any data protection requirement.

Focus on the value cloud-based email can provide to your business.

  • Secure access to email, from any device, at any time
  • Built in spam/virus protection
  • No monthly updates
  • No local queue errors
  • No VPN or additional web server needed
  • Affordable options for archiving, encryption, and backup/restore

2) What is the total cost of ownership?

When upgrading from SBS, organizations will need to purchase new 64-bit server hardware with additional disk space, new versions of Windows Server, new Windows CALs, Exchange Server Licenses, new Exchange CALs.  They will also need to purchase or upgrade their spam/virus protection solution and backup/recovery system.

Beyond the purchase, Microsoft still requires administrators to update software monthly — often multiple times each month — in order to maintain security patches and updates.

Moving to the cloud, organizations skip the large capital expenditure.  Cloud-based email solutions are operating expenses.  Costs are tied to the number of users, not to the amount of capacity you may use in the future.

When moving organizations to Google Apps for Business, we see customers saving 30% to as much as 70% over 3 year and 5 year TCO cycles.

3) How much disruption will end users experience?

Yes, some users are afraid to move away from MS Outlook and your existing web access for email.  When surveying users, however, we find that in most organizations, 60% to 80% already use cloud-based email services, like Gmail, personally.  The change in user experience is likely less than initial perceptions.

But, moving is a change and can have an impact.

As we move organizations to Google Apps, we include communications about the changes and opportunities for users to learn how to best use the new tools.  We make self-help learning systems — video and interactive — available to users.  We also offer customized workshops and “web office hours”.  In short, many methods exist to help users make the transition and understand how they can do more with their new email service.

4) Is the replacement system you’re considering easy to administer?

If planning to stay in-house, the answer will be “No!”.  New versions of MS Exchange include features and complexity designed to serve the needs of larger enterprises.  For small and mid-size enterprises, they live with the additional administrative burden.

Moving to cloud-based email dramatically reduces administrative requirements.  Without hardware, operating systems, and Exchange software, management of Google Apps for Business focuses on user settings and support.

5) Is the vendor committed to small and mid-sized businesses?

By deeds more than words, Microsoft is focused on large enterprises.  Recent licensing changes have removed the most affordable Windows and Exchange options for small and mid-size enterprises, increasing minimum costs by as much as 100%.

Cumulus Global, as a Google Apps Premier SMB Partner, is focuses exclusively on businesses and nonprofits with 1 to 500 employees.  We also serve K-12 education, smaller higher education, and local/regional governments.  We tailor our services to the needs of small and mid-size enterprises, understanding needs, priorities, and budgets.

6) Is the change a better value?

When moving from any in-house MS Exchange solution to Google Apps for Business, you are gaining more than a secure, reliable email service.  Google Apps is a small business productivity platform, with:

  • Integrated personal and shared calendars
  • Secure Instant Messaging
  • Voice / Video conferencing
  • Hangouts — video meetings with shared documents and desktops
  • Google Docs productivity tools — word processing, spreadsheets, and more
  • Drive for storage of Google-based and legacy files of any type
  • Local Drive sync and share, providing integration for MS Office users
  • Secure web Sites, for your intranet, projects, and customer portals
  • Integration with hundreds of business applications and services.

With more than email to offer, solutions like Google Apps for Business deliver greater value, even if additional features are not used immediately.

Cumulus Global offers Emergency Email and File Services to Businesses

Hurricane SandyCumulus Global (www.cumulusglobal.com) announced an emergency assistance program for small and mid-size businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  Cumulus Global will provision replacement email and file services to help get businesses up and running.  As part of the program, companies will paid reduced activation fees and will contract for services on a month-to-month basis.  Businesses can be up and running, back in business, in a matter of hours.

“Small and mid-size businesses are the backbone of our economy and are often the hardest hit by natural disasters,” stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “This program is not about making money, it is about saving businesses and jobs.”

Leveraging Google Apps, Cumulus Global can have businesses up and running with email, voice/video conferencing, file services, and more in a matter of hours.

Companies in any of the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy or its aftermath are eligible for 30% discounts on activation and service fees.  Services start at $10 per month and run on a month-to-month basis with no long term contract.

Businesses interested in the program should contact sales@cumulusglobal.com immediately.

 

Guest Post: What is my Gmail account really worth?

Originally posted on the by Jay Garmon, here is a way to assess the value of your Google Apps account … or at least just the email.

What, exactly, is your Gmail account worth to you?

That’s a complicated question but, at first blush, we’d guess about …roughly…$3,588.85.

That’s the value of the time invested in the average Gmail account, given how many emailsFile:Moneyenvelopeemail.png the average Gmail user has written (5,768), how long it takes to write the average email (one minute, 43 seconds), and the most recent U.S. Depart of Labor statistics on average annual salary ($45,230). In other words, if the average Gmail user were paid to recreate all the Gmail messages he or she’s ever written, it would cost $3,588.85.

How much is your Gmail account worth to you (and how do you stack up to the average Gmail user)? We built a Gmail Value Calculator to help you find out.

Just log in with your Gmail account, input your salary data, and the Gmail Value Calculator will determine:

  • How much your Gmail account is worth to you, in dollars
  • How many messages you send and receive per day
  • How much Gmail storage you use per day
  • Your average Gmail message size
  • Your Gmail Personality Index, which compares your Gmail usage to the average and determines whether you’re more extroverted or verbose than the typical Gmail user

Head over to Gmail-Value.Backupify.com, click the Autofill with Google button (it’s much easier than manually filling out your data), specify your salary, and in seconds you’ll learn what your Gmail account is worth to you.

It’s important to note that this number — how much of your time have you’ve spent writing emails multiplied by how much your time is worth — determines the minimum value of your Gmail account. In truth, your Gmail account is probably worth a lot more.

The $3,588.85 average figure doesn’t include the value of all the email you’ve received, the value of the time spent reading email, the value of any attachments included in your emails, or the simple fact that some emails are simply irreplaceable — especially if you lose them at the worst possible moment. (We’ve got a whole whitepaper devoted to parsing out the math on this issue.)

The average Gmail account is worth at least $3,588.85, but very likely a great deal more. Still, even that minimum figure is pretty impressive — as our Gmail Value Infographic explains. The text-friendly highlights are:

  • Your Gmail is worth $3,588.85, and increases by about $1,196 per year
  • You “spend” as much in Gmail every year as you do on your car
  • Your Gmail is worth five times as much as your laptop
  • Your Gmail represents over four weeks of wages
  • You store one old-school floppy disk (1.44 MB) of Gmail data every day

The complete Gmail Value Infographic is below. Click the image to view it all full size.

 

Inbox Size versus Email Relevance

Now that many email services are matching Google Apps’ 25GB inbox, the IT folks areA Clean Inbox wondering if users really need that much space and if mailbox limits are still a good practice.  For most companies, the answer lies in how users use email.

Most emails lose value over time.  Like most conversations, the value of the discussion itself fades once the conclusion or result is reached.  Granted, emails dealing with legal, contract, or financial issues have historical value and should be kept around.  But think about the back-and-forth emails for scheduling a lunch meeting and picking a location.  The conversation is fine; the end result is what really matters.

Use and content are more important than size. For users that do not have mobile access to documents, saving emails with attachments may be the only way to access important information in a timely manner.  For these users, large mailboxes seem useful.

For users addressing customer service issues, emails from past cases create unnecessary clutter in the inbox and folders that can lead to disorganization and inefficiencies.  For these users, limiting inbox sizes forces organization.  Combined with an archive, customer related information is not lost while users have a cleaner environment.

And while some users believe that they need to keep everything and that they will need access to any past email at any point in the future, reality dictates that the need to go back to old emails is very limited.  For these users, the discussion is philosophical more than pragmatic.

The challenge for the IT team, is that nearly every organization has all types of users.

You can provide a common solution. Instead of focusing on “how much” space to provide users, focus on “information value”.  Users should have immediate access to information contained in emails that they need to perform efficiently and effectively.

Taking this point of view, email services can meet all user needs when:

  • Users have local, remote, and mobile access to collaboration tools and shared file services, eliminating the need for sending documents as attachments.
  • The system automatically archives email messages, potentially indefinitely, for future viewing by the end user.
  • Users can automatically groom they size of their inbox and email folders based on age, rather than volume, letting users keep and focus on information with the greatest value.

Creating an email service with these attributes eliminates concerns about remote/mobile access, sending/receiving messages with large attachments, and user efficiency.

The good news: The integrated tools within Google Apps — Gmail, Docs, Drive, and remote services — along with Google Apps Vault (or Message Archive & Discovery) deliver this ecosystem without complex configuration and expensive infrastructure.

An Epidemic is Underway

Hopefully, you did not notice.  Hopefully, your computer has been inoculated from zero-day viruses and the viruses that follow them.  If not, today is the day to update your virus protection and deep scan your systems.

Why? A virus outbreak continues to plague the Internet.

Starting Friday afternoon EST, we began seeing an large increase in the number of Virus Outbreak warnings for our clients covered by Google Postini Services (as part of Google Apps or protecting their internal email servers).  A Virus Outbreak alert reaches us when a large number of virus infected emails are being sent and blocked.

We cover thousands of mailboxes for hundreds of companies.  In a typical day, we see about five (5)  Virus Outbreak alerts.  Since Friday, we are seeing about 400 per day, an increase of nearly 8000%.  Unprotected systems are more than vulnerable, they are targets.

If you have questions about your level of protection, or you know of a business that needs better protection from spam and viruses, please contact us.  We are happy to help.

Horizon Info Services Receives FCC E-Rate Certification

Libraries, Schools, and Rural Health Facilities can receive funding for up to 90% of the cost of
Google Apps, Google Postini Services, and related professional services purchased through
Horizon

Libraries, Schools, and Rural Health Facilities can receive funding for up to 90% of the cost of  Google Apps, Google Postini Services, and related professional services purchased through Horizon

WESTBOROUGH, MA – August 4, 2010 – Horizon Info Services, LLC announced that it is the first Google Apps Authorized Reseller to receive certification for the FCC E-Rate program.  With E-RATE certification, eligible libraries, schools, and rural health facilities can receive reimbursements from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) for Google Apps, Google Postini Services, and related implementation and support services purchased through Horizon.  Depending on the organization’s eligibility, reimbursements can range from 20% up to 90% of the service fees.

“This is a great opportunity for eligible entities,” stated Allen Falcon, Horizon’s founder and CEO.  “Through this program we help budget-strapped organizations save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on email, communication, and collaboration services.”

By migrating to Google Apps, organizations gain more than subsidized email services, they get a range of communication and collaboration services.  The value proposition is far greater than other solutions. “You can use E-Rate funds to subsidize the cost of a Microsoft Exchange service and you get email and calendars,” notes Falcon.  “Switch to Google Apps, and you get email and calendars plus shared online documents; word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet tools; free voice/video conferencing; secure web sites for classrooms and project teams; and many other services.”  Because these additional services are free components of the Google Apps suite, they are covered under the E-Rate program. With other solutions, these services may not be eligible for reimbursement.

To promote the availability of funding for Google Apps, Horizon is hosting a series of webinars that cover the basics of the FCC E-Rate program and the steps libraries, schools, and rural medical facilities must follow to obtain funding for Google Apps and related services.  According to Falcon, Horizon also works closely with Google’s direct sales force and other resellers to connect eligible organizations to available funds.  Interested organizations can contact Horizon by email at info@horizoninfoservices.com or by phone at 866-356-1202.

About the E-RATE Program.  Administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the program uses fees collected on every phone bill in the United States to equalize the cost of many telecommunication services for low income and rural communities.  In addition to consumer subsidies, the Universal Service Fund helps libraries, schools, and rural medical facilities upgrade and maintain a range of communication services and technologies, including email and related services.

About Google Apps.  Google Apps is a secure, integrated suite of communication and collaboration tools, including email, calendars, contacts, groups, office productivity tools, online document sharing,  secure collaboration web sites, video, and more.  Google and Horizon offer special pricing and discounts for schools, non-profit organizations, and governmental organizations.

About Horizon Info Services, LLC.  Horizon Info Services (http://www.horizoninfoservices.com) offers a range of cloud computing solutions to businesses and organizations with 1 to 500 users.  Horizon is an Authorized Reseller of Google Apps and Google Postini Services, in addition to a range of online backup, web security, and cloud storage solutions.