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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.

Using MS Office 2010 or 2013 Puts You at Risk

Office 365 IconsOn October 13, 2020, Office 2010 reached “end of support” (EOS) and Office 2013 lost its connection to the cloud. You may be one of the many small businesses using one of these versions.

It is not uncommon for SMBs to avoid upgrading software. The cause is often a perceived “lack of need” for new features and concerns about cost. Continuing to use software past EOS is risky and will likely stifle productivity.

What This Means

Past EOS, Office 2010 no longer gets security updates and bug fixes. Continuing to use Office 2010 puts you at risk from cyber attacks.

With the loss of cloud connectivity, Office 2013 can no longer access the productivity and collaboration features in Office 365 and Microsoft 365.  More than losing features, your team is missing opportunities to improve the way you work, share, and communicate.

Next Steps

Moving to Office 2019, or to Microsoft 365, upgrades your business to a modern, secure collaboration and productivity suite. Beyond email and file sharing, the suite includes collaboration, conferencing, security, advanced threat protection, and more. Microsoft 365 saves more than 70% over purchasing these solutions separately.

To protect and empower your business, now is the time to act.

 

 

 

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.

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.

What You Don’t Know Can’t Help You

I expect you have heard the old saying:

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” — Anonymous

In the cloud-y world of IT services and solutions, the lesson is better expressed as:

“What you don’t know, can’t help you!” — Allen Falcon

For a long time, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) moved to the cloud to replace existing services with more efficient, secure, and accessible cloud services. This was good for a while, but the landscape has and will continue to change. Now, when we talk to SMBs like yours about current IT services and the cloud, we talk about your business objectives and priorities. We talk about your growth opportunities, challenges to overcome, and how we can help you and your business succeed.

Today’s cloud services reflect your need for business results.

Cloud services, like Microsoft 365 Business, include a range of additional apps new to Office and, in most cases, unique to the cloud.  These apps give you access to value-add tools designed to help your business, such as:

  • Outlook Customer Manager: A simple contact manager and CRM tool that integrates with your existing inbox, calendar, and contacts
  • Bookings: An app that allows customers to easily self-schedule appointments from available time slots
  • Listings: A marketing app to build online pages and presence on Facebook, Google, and other platforms
  • MileIQ: Automated mileage tracking app for expense reports and/or tax filings
  • Connections: An easy-to-use app for simple email marketing tasks and campaigns
  • Flow: Automate processes, work flows, and approvals

These apps are joined by low-cost add-on services that let you to consolidate and simplify your IT environment — and save money.  For example, in Microsoft 365, adding PSTN conferencing gives you a standard telephone bridge for any Skype for Business or Teams conference call.  You can replace paid conferencing and web meeting services like WebEx, Zoom, and GoToMeeting with a tool that truly integrates with Outlook, your inbox, and your calendar.  At a cost of only $4 per user per month, and the ability to limit your purchase to users with a defined need, you can dramatically lower the cost of audio and video conferencing while providing a better experience for organizers and attendees.

Clearly, Microsoft 365 is not simply “Office in the Cloud.”  The value-add apps, low cost add-on services, and more than a half dozen additional security features in Microsoft 365 create a more robust ecosystem for productivity, efficiency, and growth.

The Challenge is Adoption.

Adding value only happens when your team is aware of, and knows how to use, the broad range of capabilities in services like Microsoft 365.  Getting your team from Point A to Point B, and then Point C, takes effort.

Here are some ideas to help you empower your team and enable your business:

  • Don’t Overwhelm:
    • Presenting too many capabilities, or too much training, all at once can overwhelm your team. Instead of understanding how they can do their jobs more efficiently, they may feel lost.
    • Not knowing where to start leads to paralysis.
  • Start with the Familiar:
    • Even the traditional Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.) have features that are unique to the Microsoft 365 versions and ecosystem.
    • Refresh your team’s knowledge of the apps they already use and know, adding these incremental productivity features into the mix.
  • Focus on Capabilities Specific to each Role:
    • Not every person needs every app or feature.
    • Focus on matching specific features, apps, and capabilities to the people on your team that will benefit the most.
    • Lessons and learning should be relevant to each team member’s job.
  • Provide Continuous Learning for Continuous Improvement:
    • Make learning an on-going activity that happens in small, manageable events.
    • 3 to 5 minutes per day, less than 20 minutes per week, can provide team members with ideas and insight they can put to immediate use.
  • Create a Culture of Learning:
    • Incent participation to set clear expectations and establish value for the learning process.
    • Monitor team member participation and progress.
    • Provide feedback and encouragement, particularly to the “leaders” and “laggers”.
    • Encourage team members to share their knowledge with peers.

Getting more value from your existing IT and cloud solutions starts when your team understands what is there for them, and how to use it to their advantage.  Improving adoption improves results, and need not be a major cost or time commitment.


Cumulus Global offers a self-paced, video learning system that tailors content to roles within your organization.  For more information, contact us for a brief call with one of our Cloud Advisors.


 

The Curse and Blessing of Office 365 Licensing

Office 365If you ask IT pros about Office 365 licensing, they are likely to roll their eyes.

If you ask which license is right for you, the conversation will likely start with a heavy sigh. Microsoft has 6 primary Office 365 license options for business, several add-ons, a number of special-purpose licenses, and over a dozen stand-alone and value-add products.

The Curse is Confusion

Between the number of options and the frantic rate of new features and updates, we are not surprised when companies complain that picking the “right license” is confusing. You end up bouncing between tabs and browsers, comparing feature lists that never seem to have enough detail. You struggle to find which add-ons work with each license type. You may not even know where to look for specialty licenses that can save you money. And with the rapid growth of features and functions, you wonder if the web pages you scour for information reflect the latest updates and options.

The Blessing is Customization

You can escape the confusion. And, in doing so, you can customize your Office 365 licensing plan to best meet your needs. With “too many options”, you can mix and match licenses to the needs of your users. You can tailor the feature sets for groups of users and lower your average cost per user at the same time. You can decide when to rely on built-in features or third party solutions to meet specific business requirements. You can decide which users get add-ons and which do not.

The Key is Understanding

The good news: with guidance and understanding of the Office 365 and Microsoft 365 licensing structures, you can plan and implement subscriptions that meet your organization’s needs at the most affordable cost. By looking beyond Microsoft-only options to select third party tools, you can mix in lower cost licenses without sacrificing compliance, threat protection, telephony, and needed features. You can map out a strategy that enables hybrid computing and services and capabilities move to the cloud over time. You can integrate your cloud an on-premise environments into a seamless service.

The better news: you do not need to gbecome an expert.  Our Cloud Advisors, backed by experts from Microsoft, are ready to assess your needs, explore alternatives, and design solutions options. You gain understanding and select the option that best fits with your needs, priorities, and budget.

Your Next Step is ….

If you haven’t settled on a Office 365 or G Suite as your cloud suite, or if you think you should change from one to the other, your next step is our Which Cloud Analysis.  You complete a comprehensive survey and we provide a formal report that assesses your needs and environment and provides specific recommendations. We will also schedule a Cloud Advisor Session to review and discuss our findings and recommendations.

If you have decided, or currently use, Office 365, contact us to schedule a Cloud Advisor Session to review your environment and needs.  We will help you assess, plan, and implement a solution that delivers the value you want and need.


 

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Simplify Security with Microsoft

Infographic Source: Microsoft

Greater security at lower cost with the expertise and power of Microsoft Security solutions.

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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.