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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.

Evaulating SaaS Backup Solutions

Data protection icon

You have many choices when choosing your SaaS backup solution for Google Workspace (G Suite), Microsoft 365, Salesforce.com, and other cloud services.

When picking your solution, look for the data protection capabilities you need. At a minimum, a SaaS backup solution should offer the following.

Comprehensive Protection

Some SaaS backup solutions only protect email, files, and folders. Look for solutions that offer protection for contacts, shared drives, collaboration and chat tools, and calendars. Solutions with these features are far more effective at maintaining business continuity. And, the cost is often comparable.

Frequent Backups

More frequent backups let you to restore to a more recent point in time, minimizing data loss. Restores are faster and easier with less manual effort to perform restores. Services that backup multiple times per day will provide better results than those that only backup daily.

Access During Outages

Look for and choose a SaaS backup service that lets you export and access your data in the event of an outage. While limited in scope, the ability to use data should Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 be unavailable can help you keep essential work on-track.

Security & Compliance

The SaaS backup service you choose should be secure, with data encrypted at rest and in motion.  Additionally, services that meet SOC1/SSAE-16 and SOC 2 Type II reporting standards will help you meet HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, SEC, and other regulatory compliance requirements.

Your Next Step:

We recommend you protect all data in Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 with a secure and robust backup/recovery solution.  Protecting your cloud-resident data is no different than protecting data hosted on servers and systems in your office. We can help you make the right choice.

For more information, view and download our eBook, SaaS Protection Buyers Guide.

Learn more about Cumulus Global’s data protection and security solutions, contact us to discuss you needs and options, or schedule a complimentary cloud advisor appointment.

3 Reasons for SaaS Data Protection

Data protection iconSaaS data is not immune to permanent data loss. Microsoft and Google make no guarantees when it comes to restoring deleted data, whether from human error or a malicious act. While Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) may make collaboration more efficient, data protection and management is a shared responsibility. Both Google and Microsoft include some basic recovery capabilities, but they not enough to protect your business.

Here are 3 major reasons to add SaaS data protection to your Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace solution.

1: Data Loss Due to Permanent Deletion

If an employee accidentally deletes a critical spreadsheet from OneDrive or Google Drive, or a deleted folder of important emails passes the retention period in Trash, neither Microsoft nor Google will be able to recover your data.

Even if those files are within your retention period, locating and restoring lost data can cost you more time than you can afford.

2: Data Loss Due to a Ransomware Attack

If your business suffers a ransomware attack, you cannot roll-back your data to a point-in-time before the attack without a backup solution. Your data is likely gone forever.

More than losing valuable business data, you will face potentially crippling costs.  You may choose to pay the ransom (without any guarantee your files will be unlocked). You may work to rebuild your lost data. Either way, you will spend significant money, time, and lost productivity trying to save your business.

3. Time and Money Lost in Recovering Files

Retaining critical user data when employees leave your company is costly without a backup solution in place. The time spent to recover data might be more than what your business can afford. SaaS Data Protection lets you retain past employee data without the need to keep their Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace account active. You save time and money.

Whether you lose data or time, the impact to your bottom line can be significant. To address this challenge, you need a secure solution for this growing reliance on the cloud.

Learn more about Cumulus Global’s data protection and security solutions. To ensure your business continues to run smoothly, schedule a complimentary cloud advisor appointment.

Service Update: Datto SaaS Protection

Service Update: Datto SaaS Protection. The latest Datto SaaS Protection platform is now available to all of our costumers. For more recent customers, you are already on the newest platform.  For our longer term SaaS Protection (aka Backupify) customers, the transition process will begin as early as February 1, 2021. The process will complete before May 31, 2021.

Benefit:

With this move, all Datto SaaS Protection customers will have access to the latest features. These include protection for Microsoft Teams and Google Shared Drives, and the Daily Backup Success Report.

Process:

To ensure a smooth transition, any data on the legacy platform will be archived in one of Datto’s secure Microsoft Azure instances. A fresh backup set will initiate on the new platform. We can assist you in exporting your legacy backup data if you prefer to not have it stored by Datto on Microsoft Azure.

There are some unique aspects of the transition for some of our customers, our Service Team will contact you as needed to discuss your transition.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns.

Google Vault – What, How, and Why

Google VaultGoogle Vault is a compliant archive and e-discovery service.  Historically, Vault is an add-on for G Suite Basic and is included with G Suite Business and Enterprise.

As Google transitions to the new Google Workspace, Google includes Vault in Google all Workspace Enterprise subscriptions and Google Workspace Business Plus.  Vault is not available as an add-on for the Google Workspace Business Starter and  Standard subscriptions at this time.

To decide if you need, or want, Vault, understand the What, How, and Why.

What Google Vault Does

Vault is a compliant archive/e-discovery service for Google Workspace.  The service captures all email, documents, and chats, even if they have been deleted by the user.  As such, Vault meets federal and state regulations for legal discovery.  Vault features include:

  • Archive:
    • Inbound, outbound, and internal email messages
    • Documents
    • Internal and external chat messages
  • “Matters”:
    • Search and gather all relevant materials
    • Save searches and results
  • Legal Holds:
    • Retain relevant data regardless of retention period
    • Prevent removal of data until a “Matter” is resolved
  • Audit Trails:
    • Capture activities
    • Document searches and exports
  • Reports:
    • Export data related to a “Matter” for delivery
    • Documentation that validates data integrity

How Vault differs from Backup

While Vault and backup systems both preserve and protect data, they serve very different purposes and functions.

Vault is intended to keep, find, export, and deliver data in a way that complies with Federal and State laws for legal discovery.

Backup systems are designed to preserve and restore information that has been lost or damaged.

In Vault, you can retrieve individual items and small batches of data. Doing so, however, does not restore the data to its prior location. Nor does Vault preserve meta data, such as date last modified and permissions.

Backup systems cannot guarantee that you have preserved all of your data.  Most backups are configured to remove deleted items from backup files after set periods of time.  Backup systems also prune data into weekly and monthly snapshots, resulting in a potential loss of versions.

Why You May Need or Want Vault

The driving factor for most businesses and organizations is regulatory compliance.  A range of laws and industry regulations require businesses to maintain records, including but not limited to:

  • Sarbanes/Oxley
  • Freedom of Information / Public Records
  • SEC-17
  • FINRA
  • PCI-DSS
  • HIPAA

If you are not subject to these regulations, you may want Vault in order to maintain data for:

  • Policy enforcement
  • Contact and legal negotiations
  • Personnel matters
  • Quality control

We recommend that your Google Workspace (G Suite) subscription is protected  by a backup/recovery solution.  You may not need or want Vault.  If you do not have a regulatory need, assess the value proposition of the added business protection and cost.

Learn more about Cumulus Global’s data protection and security solutions, contact us with any questions, or schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisor appointment.

SaaS Backup – 4 Dangerous Misconceptions

SaaS Backup is just as important, and necessary, as backups for data hosted on in-house servers and systems.

Data protection iconWith more remote work, our reliance on SaaS applications and services such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace has become more critical to our success. Easy access to files and folders from anywhere and the integrated collaboration tools keep our teams connected and productive.

Here are 4 common, but dangerous, myths and misconceptions about SaaS applications and services that will put your data and your business at risk.

Myth 1: SaaS Applications do not Require Backup

While SaaS applications protect against data loss in their cloud servers, this does not protect against user error, accidental and malicious deletion, or ransomware attacks. And while accidental deletion of files is by far the most
common form of data loss in SaaS apps, ransomware can be the most damaging. Ransomware is designed to spread across networks and into SaaS applications, impacting many users.

Ransomware isn’t only an on-premises problem. It can and does spread into the cloud, especially when using the OneDrive and/or Drive File Sync clients.

You need a way to quickly revert files, folders, settings, and permissions in the event of an attack.

Myth 2: File Sync is a Backup

While file sync tools like Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive File Sync do create a second copy of files and folders, they do not replace backup. File sync automatically copies changes to synchronized files. If a file or folder is infected with ransomware, the malware will automatically be copied to all synced versions of that file.

File sync services do offer some restore capabilities via versioning, but they fall short of a true SaaS backup solution.

  • If a file is deleted, older versions of the file are also deleted
  • End users control backup and recovery, so you have no control over coverage or process
  • Large restores are a time-consuming, manual process.

Beyond simply lacking the restore capabilities of a backup solution, file sync and share can introduce ransomware to Microsoft 365 or Google Drive. File sync and backup are not competitive solutions, rather they can and should be used together.

File sync and share tools are for productivity; backup is for data protection and fast restore.

Myth 3: SaaS Applications are Always Available

While SaaS apps are highly reliable, outages do occur. In 2020 alone, Microsoft 365 suffered five significant outages in the space of six weeks. Last year, Google Workspace suffered a global outage, leaving users with no access to for several hours.

Outages and slow restore times are not just an inconvenience. When you cannot access important business data, productivity falls and revenue suffers. Creating backups that are independent of a SaaS provider’s cloud servers is the only way to ensure access to essential files in the event of an extended outage.

Myth 4: Microsoft and Google are Responsible for Backup

Microsoft and Google ensure they will not lose your cloud data. However, they do not take responsibility for restoring data if you lose it. This is why Microsoft recommends third party backups for Microsoft 365 data, having defined the concept of the Shared Responsibility Model.

In the Shared Responsibility Model:

  • Microsoft and Google protect your data against:
    • Service interruptions due to hardware or software failure
    • Loss of service due to natural disaster or power outage
  • You must protect your data against:
    • Accidental deletion and damage
    • Hackers, ransomware attacks, other malware
    • Malicious insiders

The Shared Responsibility Model places the onus of data protection squarely on you. Google and Microsoft are responsible for keeping their systems up and running; you are responsible for preserving and securing your data.

To review your data protections, and your ability to recover from accidental or malicious loss, contact us or schedule an appointment with our Cloud Advisors.

Google Workspace: Key Transition Dates

Google workspaceWith the restructuring of G Suite into Google Workspace, Google is providing more service tiers and subscription options and you will need to decide which subscription best meets your needs and budget.

Here are some key dates to keep in mind as you plan your transition.

Your Renewal Date

Cumulus Global

  • If your G Suite subscription is an annual, promotional, or multi-year commitment, whether you pay annually or monthly, your renewal date determines when you need to transition from G Suite to Google Workspace.

December 31, 2020

  • Incentive discounts for early moves to Google Workspace expire. We must complete the change by this date for discounts to apply.  Discounts are available for 1, 2, and 3 year commitments. (Learn more …)
  • Vault Former Employee (VFE) licenses for non-Postini customers expire.  Licenses will convert to paid Archive User (AU) licenses. (see our blog post on this topic)

January 15, 2020

  • If your renewal date is before January 15, 2020, you have the option of renewing your G Suite subscription for one more year or transitioning to Google Workspace.
  • If your renewal date is after January 15, 2020, you must switch to a Google Workspace subscription at renewal if you have not already done so.

March 31. 2020

  • This is the last date G Suite Customers on monthly flex plans can continue with their G Suite subscription. If your G Suite subscription is a monthly flex and you have not yet switched to a Google Workspace subscription, the transition will happen automatically on April 1, 2020.

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  • Vault Former Employee (VFE) licenses for past-Postini customers will deprecate. While the date is not yet set, Google will provide at least 60 days notice prior to moving VFE licenses to paid Archive User licenses.  We strongly recommend that you start planning for this transition. (see our blog post on this topic)

To discuss Google Workspace subscription is best for your business, explore the incentive discounts, or get answers to your questions, please email us or submit this form. We will arrange a call with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Google Workspace: Vault Former Employee Licensing

Google VaultCoinciding with the announcement of the move to Google Workspace, Google also announced that Vault Former Employee, or VFE, licensing will deprecate and no longer be available.  While Google is offering Archive User, or AU, licensing, the licenses will no longer be free.

What are VFE licenses?

VFEIn G Suite, in order to preserve data in Vault for former employees, you needed to keep the user’s account active. As this could be expensive for many businesses, Google provided relief with free VFE licenses that maintain the archive without having to pay for the user account.

For customers that came to G Suite as former Postini customers, VFE licenses are a separate, free subscription.  For other customers, VFE licenses were provided as additional, free G Suite Basic, Business, or Standard Licenses.

Note that the vast majority of customers with VFE licensing, particularly small and midsize businesses, are former Postini customers.

What are AU licenses?

In Google Workspace, Archive User licenses allow you to maintain your vault archive for past users without paying for a full Google Workspace license.  Depending on your subscription, AU licenses will cost between $4 and $7 per user per month ($48-$84 per year).  This is significantly less than the $18 to $30 per user per year to keep an active license.

As of this blog post AU licenses are only available with the Google Workspace Enterprise Plus subscription. We expect AU licensing to be added to Enterprise Standard and Business Plus subscriptions some time in 2020 Q1.

When do VFE licenses go away?

For Former Postini Customers:

The end date for VFE licensing for former Postini Customers has not been set.  Google will provide these customers with at least 60 days notice before the licenses expire.  By default these VFE licenses will automatically transition to paid AU licenses.

At this time, we do not expect these VFE licenses to end prior the addition of AU licenses to other Enterprise and Business subscriptions. As such, our best estimate is that this change will happen no earlier than 2020 Q3.

For non-Postini Customers:

The end date for non-Postini customers is December 31, 2020.  At this time, VFE licenses will convert to paid AU licenses. Customers will need to move to the Google Workspace Enterprise Plus subscription for this to occur.

What are YOUR Options:

Non-Postini Customers

Non-Postini customers have until the end of the year to migrate data out of the VFE accounts to another location or service, or to prepare for the transition to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus and AU licensing.  Both options involve cost, either labor and tools to move the data or new subscription fees.  If you want to migrate your data out of VFEs, you have multiple options. The best option will depend on the number of users and amount of data.

Former Postini Customers

We recommend former Postini customers with VFE licensing begin their planning process now.

Since VFE licenses are a separate “product”, you can take advantage of our incentive discounts for moving from G Suite to Google Workspace before the end of the year.

Looking forward, you want to decide what VFE data you need or want to keep, and whether it is worthwhile to move the data or pay for the AU licensing when the transition happens.

Your Next Step:

The best way to move forward is to contact us and speak with one of our Cloud Advisors. We can help you assess your situation, discuss options, and pick the solution that best meets your requirements and budget.

 

 

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.

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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.