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Service Update: Microsoft 365 Fees Increase on January 1, 2023

Cumulus Global 15 Years of ServiceService Update: Microsoft 365 Fees Increase on January 1, 2023.

As previously announced by Microsoft, Microsoft 365 Fees Increase on January 1, 2023.  In addition to increased fees for specific licenses, Microsoft is changing the structure of annual agreements and adding a 20% surcharge for month-to-month licensing.

Why Now?

Microsoft has been working towards these changes for more than a year. They company pushed back the deadline several times as the change coincided with major changes to Microsoft’s partner program. Microsoft has notified customers and partners that all subscriptions will be on the new pricing as of January 1, 2023.

For our customers, Cumulus Global has delayed the impact and fee increases for as long as possible.  We are communicating with our customers individually to address the final deadline.

New Terms and Conditions

With the pricing changes, Microsoft is also changing some of the terms and conditions for the services.  Historically, Microsoft has not enforced commitments on annual agreements; customer were free to change user counts and even cancel without penalty. Going forward, Microsoft will enforce annual subscriptions and terms as firm commitments. Customers may change or cancel within three (3) days of starting an annual term. Customer commit to the number of licenses for the full year. Microsoft is offering a three year commitment option as well, which secures pricing for that period.

If you need or want the flexibility of increasing and decreasing user counts at any time, you will need to opt for month-to-month licenses.  Monthly licensing lacks the commitment but includes a 20% surcharge over fees for an annual commitment.

License Pricing Changes

The following are the fee changes for annual licensing. All fees are listed as per user per month.

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
    • Annual: From $5 to $6
    • Monthly: $7.20
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
    • Annual: From $20 to $22
    • Monthly:  $26.40
  • Office 365 E1
    • Annual: From $8 to $10
    • Monthly: $12
  • Office 365 E3
    • Annual: From $20 to $23
    • Monthly: $27.6
  • Office 365 E5
    • Annual: From $35 to $38
    • Monthly: $45.60
  • Microsoft 365 E3
    • Annual: From $32 to $36
    • Monthly: $43.20

All other Microsoft 365 and Office 365 license fees remain this same with an annual commitment; monthly fees will reflect the 20% surcharge.

Next Steps

Our team is contacting each our customers impacted by the pricing to discuss their options and plan their services going forward.

As we are here to assist any small business with their cloud services, feel free to contact us by email, via our website, or by scheduling time directly with one of our Cloud Advisors to discuss your options and path forward.

Service Update: Advanced Threat Protection

Service Update Announcement

Beginning July 1, 2022, Cumulus Global is adding Advanced Threat Protection services to all clients using Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.

With more than 40% of cyber attacks targeting small businesses and two thirds of attacks using email, Advanced Threat Protection is no longer an option. The stakes are too high. Recovery takes an average of 21 days and 60% of small businesses fail within six months of a successful attack.

To minimize the impact, we are waiving the standard setup fee and discounting the service by 20% for customers with an annual commitment. The fee will be reflected on your annual invoice or monthly invoices, as appropriate.

You may opt out of the Advanced Threat Protection service. To opt-out, please notify us by email prior to May 25, 2022. If you elect to opt-out, please review the terms of our Service Level Agreement as posted on our website.

Please contact us or schedule time with one of our cloud advisors if you have any questions.

Deadline 3/1/22: Microsoft 365 Price Increase

Microsoft 365

On March 1, 2022, the pricing for Microsoft 365 will increase.  Depending on your current subscription and licensing, you will see a Microsoft 365 price increase ranging between 10% and 25%. You can, however, minimize or avoid the increase.

Details

Monthly per user pricing with an annual commitment* will increase as follows:

  • Subscription
  • M365 Business Basic
  • M365 Business Standard
  • M365 Business Premium
  • O365 E1
  • O365 E3
  • M365 E3
  • Current Fee / User / Month
  • $5
  • $12.50
  • $20
  • $8
  • $20
  • $32
  • New Fee / User / Month
  • $6
  • $12.50
  • $22
  • $10
  • $23
  • $36

*Pricing for monthly commitment (no annual commitment) will include a 20% surcharge.

What is the Impact?

Historically, Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions were sold with an annual commitment.  Within the annual commitment, you could adjust the number of licenses up or down on a monthly basis. Microsoft now classifies these types of subscriptions as “Monthly Subscriptions”.

Going forward, you can choose an “Annual Subscription”. With an “Annual Subscription”, your current license count becomes your minimum purchase commitment for the next 12 months. You may add licenses during the year, but you cannot remove any licenses until your annual renewal.

A “Monthly Subscription” allows you to increase or decrease you licenses monthly.

Annual Subscription pricing will increase as noted in the table, above.  If you are a monthly subscription, you will pay an additional 20% per license.

Minimize the Impact

You can minimize, or completely avoid, the Microsoft 365 Price Increase by assessing your subscription licenses and usage, and:

  • Transition to an Annual Commitment before February 28, 2022.
    • Continue with monthly or annual invoicing
  • Remove past employee accounts by either:
    • Exporting and deleting

Act Now!

Schedule time with one of our Cloud Advisors.  We will assess your current subscription, the impact of your transition, discuss subscription and licensing options, and determine if you qualify for incentive discounts.

 


The Kaseya Attack Effect

Data Protection & SecurityThe Kaseya attack demonstrates how cyber crime is a big, organized business.  How big? You can subscribe to “Ransomware as a Service” and outsource attacks on your intended targets.  How organized? Hacker groups and service providers, such as the REvil Ransomware Group and DarkSide, actively manage their brands and reputations.  The REvil attack on Kaseya shows us that cyber criminals are technically advanced and operationally sophisticated. The nature of the attack, and its scope, should scare you.

By using known vulnerabilities in Kaseya’s VSA Remote Monitoring and Management system, REvil was able to create an automated ransomware distribution network. They used the very systems that Managed Service Providers (MSPs) use to monitor and manage customer servers, computers, and networks.

The Impact

MSPs update their Kaseya VSA servers automatically installed the Ransomware on their customers’ systems, as well as their own. Best estimates are that up to  1,500 small and medium-sized companies are victims. While this number seems small, those 1,500 business face an existential threat. Remember: more than half of businesses victimized by ransomware fail within six months.

Most MSPs shut down their Kaseya VSA services before spreading the ransomware. These firms had no ability to monitor, manage, or remotely support their customers. Customers facing IT issues were met with longer diagnostic and resolution times, resulting in business disruption, lost productivity , and the possibility of data loss.

As a managed cloud service provider, Cumulus Global does not use the Kaseya VSA system.  Our clients were not at risk, via our services, from this attack.

The Lessons

We were on the sidelines for the Kaseya attack. We understand, however, that the way in which may cloud services are managed create connections between vendors, resellers, partners, and customers. While these connections do not generally provide any access to customer data, they do provide access to management functions and information about users.  This information, in turn, could be used to improve the effectiveness of phishing attacks, spoof identities, and gain access to systems.

As a trusted IT advisor and a managed cloud service provider, we are part of a connected supply chain. We take our responsibility to secure our part of that chain seriously. While we follow commercially accepted best practices for security and privacy, the Kaseya attack warns us to step back and re-evaluate our strategy, policies, and procedures.

Our Next Steps

Cumulus Global is conducting an internal review of all of our internal and operational systems, including vendor portals and services we use to order, provision, manage, and support cloud services. As part of this review we are examining our policies and procedures related to:

  • Identity management and protection
  • Access to the systems
  • System level permissions related to function and data
  • Roles and responsibilities with respect to security and privacy
  • Business continuity plans and capabilities

Through this process, we are challenging our assumptions, re-assessing how we operate security and effectively, and raising our expectations for how well we protect ourselves and our customers.

We will also be making recommendations to our clients, and the broader community, on steps they can take to improve their security profile and protections.

Your Next Steps

As a user of cloud services, and technology in general, have responsibilities as well.

We Can Help

To assess your cyber security status, discuss your risks and needs, and identify solutions that fit your business and your budget, contact us to schedule a complimentary session with one of our Cloud Advisors.

The State of SMB Cyber Security

Data Protection & SecurityGone are the days when cybercrime was exclusively a big business problem. In the modern workplace, all businesses are at risk, regardless of their size or industry. Today, we recognize that implementing a cyber security program, much like hiring people and growing sales, is an essential part of running our companies.

With 43% of cyberattacks targeted at SMBs, it’s not surprising that many have identified cybersecurity as a priority. And while most of us have deployed protections, it is challenging to know if you have the right balance of protection relative to your risk.

Here are 4 key findings from research conducted by Microsoft:

01 Businesses understand that cybercrime is a problem, but understate the severity of the threat and overestimate their preparedness

The vast majority of businesses (85%) cite cybercrime as a concern, and more than half (56%) believe it is a top priority. Businesses are backing up this belief with action. Most have begun to invest both time and dollars into protecting their company from hackers and other malicious actors.

However, when you look a little deeper, it becomes clear that many have underestimated their risk. 74% of businesses don’t believe they are likely to be attacked at all and that corporations are two times as likely to be attacked.

90% of businesses say they have the right protections in place to prevent an attack, and those with more than 50 employees are even more confident. It is encouraging that businesses are investing in security, but the reality is that they are at greater risk than they think. Nearly half (41%) have been attacked

02 Small and medium-sized businesses are just as likely to be attacked as large corporations

For solutions that do cost money, businesses allocate about 15% of IT budgets go to cybersecurity,  and  21% plan to increase how much they spend protecting the company. Businesses recognize that this investment is worth it because three out of four know that it costs more to recover from an attack than it does to prevent one.

03 Employees can be a business’s biggest protection and also their biggest threat

As a small business owner, you face many of the same threats as larger businesses, but also unique challenges.

Given the number of security events tied to employees, businesses run the risk of underestimating the threat of employees leaking data or  sharing sensitive information, whether maliciously or accidentally.

Insider threats take several forms. Employees or partners may find it more convenient to transfer sensitive data using personal email or an unsecure cloud drive, not realizing the risk to your company. In fact, 30% of security events are attributed to careless or uninformed employees. More alarming is the roughly 36% of attacks where a malicious employee steals sensitive data.

04 Businesses have begun taking steps to protect themselves and there is a set of solutions and practices available to them

Most small and midsize businesses don’t have the same scale of resources to combat security threats and implement cyber security solutions as larger entities.

Fortunately, there are right-sized solutions and strategies designed to overcome the unique vulnerabilities of smaller companies. An effective security strategy doesn’t have to be expensive—or time-consuming. With a few simple, no-cost/low-cost steps, you can make a significant  impact on your company’s overall security profile. The key is to match security to your business needs and your budget.

To assess your cyber security status, discuss your risks and needs, and identify solutions that fit your business and your budget, contact us to schedule a complimentary session with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Top 3 Types of IT Security Threats and How to Prevent Them

Data Protection & SecuritySecurity Threats: 3 You Know and 1 You Should

Security threats take many forms. Most owners of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are aware of the need to defend against the top three — viruses, ransomware, and phishing attacks — but their organizations are generally not as prepared to deal with the risks related to employees leaking data or sharing sensitive information, whether maliciously or accidentally.

Top 3 Types of IT Security Threats

1. Viruses

According to research conducted by Microsoft, infection by a computer virus is the most commonly cited among security threats facing businesses. Preventing viruses requires an integrated approach to endpoint and identity management.

How to Prevent Viruses:

  • Deploy next-gen antivirus software, with advanced threat protection, installed and updated, on all devices
  • Use web filtering and monitoring services to prevent infection, even from trusted sites
  • Roll out mobile device management to secure work devices (including laptops and desktops), as well as personal devices used for work
  • Enforce the use of multi-factor authentication as part of an integrated identity and access management solution

2. Ransomware IT Security Threats

Ransomware is a type of malware that restricts access, encrypts files, or even stops you from using your systems. Like viruses, ransomware can enter the company through insecure endpoints or unsuspecting users.

While virus protections also protect against ransomware, no protection is perfect. You need to be ready to respond and recover in the event of a successful cyber attack. This includes implementing solutions and services, and ensuring you have the proper protocols in place.

How to Prevent Ransomware Security Threats

  • Backup your data and system images, in the cloud, to ensure your ability to restore and recover
  • Encrypt all data, at rest and in motion
  • Deploy business continuity services to spin-up copies of servers in parallel with remediation
  • Pre-arrange access to forensic, legal, and communications resources to ensure a proper business response
  • Acquire cyber insurance to cover remediation, recovery, and regulatory costs, along with lost revenue
  • Focus on the four pillars of cloud security, and continue to review them on a yearly basis

3. Phishing Attacks

The majority, 67 percent, of cybersecurity professionals surveyed consider phishing attacks to be the greatest security threat facing your business and employees. Take the proper steps today to protect your people, your data, and your business.

How to Prevent Phishing Attacks:

  • Configure advanced threat protection services to identify and block attacks via email using links and/or attachments
  • Monitor inbound and outbound email traffic
  • Provide your team with awareness training to recognize problem emails, and how to respond/act
  • Instruct your team to report suspicious messages, links, and attachments
  • Deploy domain level services to prevent identity-spoofing

1 Additional IT Security Threat You Should Know

!! Internal Leaks & Threats

Insider security threats are often overlooked, and small and midsize businesses are generally unprepared to deal with these IT security threats, accidental or malicious. Surveys indicate that 53% of organizations have experienced insider attacks against their organization.

These risks take several forms. About 37% of internal leaks can be attributed to careless or uninformed employees. In many cases, these employees are using personal, less secure or unsecured services to conduct business.  Whether consumer versions of email or cloud drives for sync and share, these “shadow IT” services pose a significant risk.

While the majority of internal leaks and threats are unintentional, 36% of internal leaks are identified as attacks by a malicious employee.

To prevent data leaks and breaches, you should:

  • Actively manage access and permissions to networks, systems, applications, and data; periodically review permissions for compliance
  • Leverage features within your systems that help you manage and protect confidential and proprietary information
  • Deploy information protection solutions, such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and document/message level encryption, to block sensitive data from leaving your control
  • Implement proper cyber insurance and breach response protocols

>> Take Action Against IT Security Threats

All of the suggestions, above, fall within our CPR best-practice model for data protection and cyber security: Communicate & Educate; Prevent & Protect; Respond & Recover.

To assess your cyber security status, discuss your risks and needs, and identify solutions that fit your business and your budget, contact us to schedule a complimentary session with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Productivity Suite Assessment Helps Small Businesses Choose or Improve their Cloud

May 25, 2021 – Westborough, MA – Cumulus Global is pleased to announce the launch of its new Productivity Suite Assessment, a consulting service that helps small and midsize businesses (SMBs) determine which productivity suite best meets their needs and how to fully utilize the suite to improve productivity and support business goals. Whether considering, or currently using Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, the productivity suite is the foundation for IT services. The right match is about more than the marketing hype and basic features. The right match integrates with how you work and other systems to support business goals, needs, priorities, and budget.

“For businesses not yet in the cloud, we guide them to the best fit and solution,” stated Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global. “For those only using some of the Microsoft and Google suite services, we help them fully adopt, utilize, and leverage capabilities.”

The Productivity Suite Assessment gives businesses:

  • A comprehensive review of current technology platforms and how well they are serving the business
  • Expert analysis of challenges, gaps, and opportunities to improve productivity and efficiencies
  • Recommendations: “what” technologies are a best fit and “how” to leverage them for greatest impact and value
  • Savings on implementation of recommendations.

“We help businesses decide if Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace best aligns with their operations and technologies. More impactfully, we identify under-utilized capabilities and guide adoption,” noted Falcon. “Using these recommendations, businesses improve processes, empower employees and teams, reduce costs, and enable growth.”

The Productivity Suite Assessment follows Cumulus Global’s best-practice methods.  The three phase project includes: detailed discovery, thorough analysis; and recommendations with guidance on implementation and adoption.  Cumulus Global partners with both Microsoft and Google, providing objective analysis and recommendations. Founded in 2006, Cumulus Global has 15 years experience delivery cloud solutions to small and midsize businesses.

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.

 

 

 

Customer Notice Update: Email Advanced Threat Protection

Data ProtectionGiven the demand and need to improve your protection from the devastating impact of ransomware, crypto attacks, and other forms of cyber attacks we are extending the Advanced Threat Protection Priority Opt-in discount period through March, 2020. We understand that adding a service, even a critical service, impacts your budget and costs. Our Priority Opt-In discounts, and other measures (see below), intend to minimize the impact.

Email Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Multi-factor authentication (MFA) are necessary, baseline services for protecting your business

Beginning April 1, 2020, we require Advanced Threat Protection for all of our customers’ email service, unless you specifically opt out. Opting out is appropriate if you already have an advanced threat protection service in place.

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

Customer Notice: Email Advanced Threat Protection

Data Protection

(Updated January 20, 2020)

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 April 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

library

State of Security for Small and Midsize Businesses

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Protect Your Business – Top 3 Security Threats

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Crash Course in Office 365

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Unblocking Workplace Collaboration

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Webcasts

Small Business Guide to Cyber Threats, Security, and Response

(6/15/2021) – A practical guide to cyber threats and security. We will share data that quantifies the most prevalent types of risks and will outline practical, reasonable, and affordable steps you can take to both protect your business and, should an attack succeed, respond and recover.

Productivity Suites: Google and Microsoft Revisited

(5/18/2021) – Take a fresh look at Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 and how each might best serve your business. Rather than a feature-by-feature comparison, we take a strategic look at positioning, architecture, services, subscription options, and integrations.