Posts

The End of Postini is Really Happening

Postini_logoAfter nearly three years of planning, data migration, and enhancements to the spam/virus protection within Google Apps, June 15, 2015 marks the day when Postini email security and compliance solutions truly ceases to exist. As of the 15th, mail flow through Postini systems will halt.

Customers that have not updated their MX records will stop receiving email; messages will bounce back to the sender

For customer migrating from Google Message Discovery (aka Postini archiving), the MX records need to change, even if the data migration or validation processes are still active.


Have questions, contact our service team for help.


 

 

Return of the Message Center and More


As Google continues to migrate Google Message Security and Message Discovery customers from the old Postini infrastructure, our clients have been concerned about functional and performance equivalency.   While filters and settings have been comparable for a while, and Google had previously added the quarantine notification, Google today announced the new Message Center.

Specifically for users that forward some or all of their email to on-premise servers or other email services, the Message Center lets users and administrators:

  • View and search 30 days of clean/spam mail
  • Mark single or multiple messages as spam or not spam
  • Deliver messages that are not spam to the on-premise mailbox
  • Add and remove contacts for whitelisting purposes
  • Bookmark URLs for searches and individual messages

This expanded functionality coincides with a series of upgrades to the SMTP relay service in Google Apps.   These updates help administrators in several ways:

  • Multiple authentication configurations: Admins can now configure multiple sets of authentication rules. For instance, you can specify that messages sent from one IP address are always allowed, messages from another IP address are only allowed if encrypted with TLS, and messages from another IP address range require SMTP AUTH.
  • SMTP AUTH: This newly supported authentication method uses Google “application-specific passwords” to allow admins to configure clients to authenticate to the relay service. This feature is available for registered Google Apps users only.
  • IP range description field: To manage IP addresses more efficiently, admins can enter descriptions in text fields for each IP address or range that you use to set authentication rules.
  • Selective enable/disable of IP ranges: Admins can selectively enable/disable IP ranges approved for relay as needed
  • Increased rate-limits for certain customers: In special circumstances, admins may increase the rate limits of 2,000 emails/user/day and 2,000 recipients/user/day by calling customer support. Requests need justification and are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

With these enhancements, Google continues to increase the robustness of the Google Apps Platform, and reduces the need for most GMS and GMD customers to move to other spam, virus, and archiving solutions.

 

 

 

Google Apps Vault for Education has Arrived

vault-icon-150x150We are pleased to announce the Google Vault is available for K-12 schools and districts, and higher education institutions.  And, the price is right.

Google Apps Vault

Google Apps Vault provides in-place archiving for Gmail and Talk.  Archiving for Google Docs content is expected in the not too distant future.  Google Apps Vault is fully integrated with Google Apps, using the cPanel for management.  Like Postini/Google Message Archive & Discovery, there is no space limit for Vault accounts.  Unlike Postini, retention is indefinite — no more limitation at 10 years retention.

EDU Pricing

For K-12 Schools, Google Apps Vault lists at $10 per user per year.  Coverage must be purchased for all faculty/staff accounts; student accounts are provided at no cost.   This represents a savings of $1 per user per year (for most schools) that would otherwise use Google Message Discovery 10 Year Retention for faculty and staff emails; and a significant cost savings for student accounts.

Things to Know

As with any change, there are some considerations.  Google Apps Vault preserves data so long as the underlying Google Apps account exists.  If you need to maintain records after an employee leaves, then the Google Apps account should be suspended and not deleted. This does mean that you will continue to pay for the account when maintaining and archive.

What if you are running Postini, aka Google Message Archive & Discovery?

If you are running Message Archive & Discovery, Google will migrate your service to the new Google Apps Vault platform.  Currently, these transitions are beginning with commercial (Business) customers.  When it is time to transition, Google will handle all of the data migration and we, Cumulus Global, will be working with you to make sure you can take advantage of the new features and capabilities.

Postini is Moving, But Not Going Away

Earlier this month, Google announced a major change for users of Postini email security services, including the Google Message Security and Message Archive & Discovery Services.  If you listen to the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) spewing from competitors, you would think that Google is about to abandon some its best customers.

Here are the facts:

  • Google is moving Postini services from the legacy Postini data centers onto Google’s more advanced infrastructure.
  • Before the migrations begin, Google is adding functionality to Google Apps’ spam and virus services that are not yet present:
    • Policy-Based TLS Encryption is in the current Scheduled Release Track
    • Daily Quarantine Summary messages and expanded blatant spam protection are planned
  • Postini users will have the same features and services after the migration that they have today.
  • The Postini Administration Console will be replaced by cPanel settings and modules that will simplify the interface and make management of the services more intuitive.
  • Migrations will begin in the first quarter of 2013, starting with Google Message Security customers.  Message Archive & Discovery services will migrate to Google Apps Vault.  These migration will happen later.
  • Google will publish a migration path for Google Message Encryption users in the near future.
  • Pricing for services will remain the same.
  • After the migration, Postini customers will have access to additional features, including Google Apps services other than Gmail.  Message Archive & Discovery customers will be able to archive instant messages sent/received via Google Talk and, in the future, documents stored in Google Docs.

Our Analysis:

When Google migrated Google Apps customers running the embedded Postini services to the new spam/virus protection in Google Apps, customers did notice a difference.  Most notable were differences in the scope of blatant spam filtering and the elimination of the daily quarantine summary.

For users of “stand-alone” Postini services, Google is filling in the functionality gaps and has committed to fully equivalent services.  Beyond that, Google is providing Postini users with added features and benefits of Google’s infrastructure.  Whether or not a company is interested in access to Google Docs and other services, the Google Apps infrastructure will provide greater performance and reliability.

Our Recommendation:

We recommend companies stay with Postini and go through the migration process.  With comparable features and functions, access to additional services, and simplified management tools, companies should benefit from the changes.  The scope and quality of services are worth waiting for and trying, before deciding if there is any need to look elsewhere.

 

Tuesday Take-Away: 6 Ways to Protect IP within Google Apps

While some remain suspect of security and privacy with cloud computing, Google Apps actually offers ways to help protect and preserve a company’s Intellectual Property (“IP”) that are not readily available in traditional, in-house systems.  Why worry about IP? Because as business becomes more electronic, your contracts, agreements, change orders, and work product are more likely to be written, reviewed, updated, and negotiated on-line. Protecting your documents, data, and information means protecting your business.

Let’s Get Technical

Google Apps’ underlying data management is Write Once; Ready Many (aka “WORM”). In other words, once information is saved in Google’s system it cannot be altered.  Unlike MS Exchange or a Windows File Server on which a Domain Administrator can alter any existing content anywhere, once data is saved in Google Apps, it cannot be modified.

Granted, you can reply to an email and modify the embedded copy of the original message. But, the original message is still saved as it was received.  Similarly, you can open a Google Doc and modify the content, but the revision history is there and you can go back to a prior versions.

The big risk to WORM is the power to delete … but we have a solution for that too.

Here are Six Ways To Protect Your IP with Google Apps:

 

1) Comments in Google Docs

Even if you switch to MS Word for your final formatting, draft your documents in Google Docs using the “Insert Comment” feature.  By keeping editing writes to yourself and giving comments only permission to your associates, you have full control of the document’s contents.  You associates — be they co-workers, a client, or opposing council — have the ability to highlight portions of the document and comment.  Whether they ask questions or suggest alternate wording, you can reply in-kind via comment as you edit the document.

Once final agreement is reached, you can “resolve” the comment.  While it disappears from view, it is part of the permanent history of the document.

Imagine two lawyers discussing and agreeing to the intent of a contract clause.  If an issue were to come up at some point in the future, any discussion of the ‘original intent’ of the clause would be cut short by the comment thread saved at the time.

2) Message Discovery (now); Google Vault (soon)

As noted above, the big risk to IP in Google Docs is deletion.  Google Message Discovery (GMD) available to all Google Apps users,  provide a secure, compliant archive of all inbound, outbound, and internal email messages with retention of up to 10 years.  The service provides search and e-discovery tools as well.

Imagine a client refusing to pay for work that was not “officially authorized”.  With GMD in place, you can produce the email thread discussing the work and providing the authorization.

Google Vault, available to new Google Apps customers now and all Google Apps users in the near future, extends the archiving ability of Google Apps in several ways.   Google Vault recognizes that you IP is not just in email and that your retention needs will vary.  Google Vault lets you:

  • Archive email, instant messages, and documents
  • Provide unlimited retention of archived information
  • Take advantage of the WORM underpinnings of Google Apps to maintain and protect your IP.

3) Google Drive and Docs

In our increasingly electronic world, more work gets done on the go.  By implementing Google Drive, your users have the ability to work locally while synchronizing and saving files automatically in Google Docs.  Beyond providing a convenient way to work — online or offline — Google Drive provides a level of protection for your IP from local hardware issues.  Combined with a backup/recovery strategy (see below), you have even better data protection.

Also, by adding additional space, you can also strategically create a secure file sharing structure where ownership of folders and files mimics traditional file server models.

4) Protected Folders

One way to protect IP is to ensure that final documents are tamper-proof and protected from deletion.  You can prevent critical documents from being editing or deleted by setting up protected folders.  These folders provide defined view permission, but will prevent users from tampering or removing critical information from within Google Docs.

CloudLock is one such service that lets you create protected folders.  In doing so, you can also determine who can add files to these folders, who can view folder content, and which administrative account manages the folders.

5) Backup / Restore

While Google Apps prevents data loss from hardware/software issues and provides version histories, Google Apps cannot prevent user mistakes or acts of malice.  Files not protected from deletion (see above) are vulnerable.  Additionally, you still need to protect against problems that can occur on any file server, such as uploading and sharing virus-infected files.

Given that in users have critical data in each of the Google Apps services, tools like Backupify offer a broad range of protection.  Backupify protects user content in email, calendar, contacts, docs, and sites.

6) Permissions Monitoring

Google Apps makes collaboration easy.  And, while you can restrict users ability to share to some extent, understanding the visibility of IP within and outside your business, and monitoring your documents for changes in exposure is an emerging best practice.

A key element of the CloudLock service are the ability to monitor changes in document permissions, the ability to change document ownership, and the emerging ability to set alerts based on keywords and business rules.

Wrap Up

When moving your data from in-house systems to Google Apps or other cloud services, you want and need to make sure that your data is at least, if not more, secure and private. Just as with in-house systems, you have tools and services available to manage and protect your intellectual property when using cloud solutions.  Google Apps provides a great foundation with an infrastructure designed to protect data with every save.  Integrated, third party tools like CloudLock and Backupify, along with new features in Google Apps itself, provide a manageable, secure, ecosystem.

Good News for EDUs

We have some good news for educational institutions using Google Apps.  Google has increased the inbox size from 7.5GB to 25GB per user, giving your users the same level of service as businesses.

In addition, Cumulus Global can now offer Google’s famous educational discounts for all Postini services, including Google Message Security and Message Archive & Discovery services.  These discounts are valid if you use Google Postini services with your in-house email servers or Google Apps for Education.

Contact us for more information and pricing.

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.

Cloud Protects Small City from Hurricanes

How, you may ask, can a Cloud protect a small Florida city from Hurricanes?  Just ask the IT team supporting the City of Defuniak Springs and their police force.

In the face of Hurricanes and new regulations requiring public access to email, the City of Defuniak Springs, Florida, needed a disaster-safe email service with message archiving and discovery. Horizon’s Google Apps Premier Edition / Message Discovery bundle delivered availability, secure access, mobile user integration, and audit-ready archives.

The Challenge:Customer Profile

The City of Defuniak Springs, FL, like many municipalities, found itself searching for a new email solution. Deemed part of the public record, the city must preserve and be able to recall messages upon request. As important, the city and its police force needed to ensure email and critical documents would be available during Hurricanes and other major events.

The Solution:

In choosing Google Apps Premier Edition, the town and its police force have a secure, hosted email service that resides well out of harm’s way. Accessible from any Internet-connected device, users can work from vehicles, cell phones and PDAs during power outages. Bundled with Message Discovery, the city and police have an audit-ready archive of all email, meeting all regulatory requirements. As part of the package, Google Sites provide a secure, hosted location for critical documents when on-premise servers are unavailable. From decision to go-live in less than a week, the Google Apps Premier Edition and Message Discovery bundle costs a small fraction of other on-premise and hosted solutions.