Blog

January 29th, 2015

Security_Jan28_BMost of us have suffered the horrors of a computer virus at some point, and we know the damage that can be caused by these security infections. Our work gets disrupted as IT systems go down and, if we’re really unlucky, sensitive and valuable data might be lost or even leaked. But there’s a silver lining to most viruses, worms and other such malware, in that they can at least be tracked down and removed. Well, not always - enter the invisible Poweliks, which even your most sophisticated anti-virus software might not be able to protect you against. So, what do you need to know and how can you protect yourself?

What is Poweliks?

Security firm Symantec describes Poweliks as a trojan horse that performs malicious activities on the compromised computer. But it’s no ordinary trojan - unlike the majority, which infect your computer with malicious files, Poweliks is a silent and invisible threat that hides away in the memory registry of your system. It’s not entirely new for a virus to seek to cover its tracks by making itself "file-less" but, in contrast with Poweliks, most are wiped when you restart your computer and its memory is cleared. Worse still, Poweliks hijacks the legitimate processes and applications running on your network, inserting its code into them where it can largely evade detection.

First discovered back in August 2014, Poweliks has therefore created something of a headache for firms behind conventional security solutions like anti-virus software. Symantec and others have admittedly managed a number of updates to their protection in response to the threat posed by Poweliks. But although very minor records of the presence of the trojan are left behind by way, for instance, of registry logs, the signs of its destructive presence are much lower key than the computer world is used to, meaning Poweliks is unlikely to show up on most system scans.

Poweliks has links to Kazakhstan, the home of two servers the malware connects to once it is up and running from within your computer. The servers in Kazakhstan then send commands to the bug to tell it what to do next. In theory, this then makes way for the tool to be used to download other undesirable programs that could infect your system without your knowledge. It could equally be used to steal and disseminate data from your network.

How can I best protect myself?

As well as the anti-virus updates that have gradually been released - but which are still likely to have only a limited impact on threats of this type compared with those of the past - a number of Poweliks removal guides are now available online. Nevertheless, prevention as ever, remains better than cure. One method reported to have been employed in the distribution of the Poweliks infection is embedding it in a Microsoft Word document, which is then sent as an attachment to spam emails, and which the attackers hope your curiosity will lead you to open. Among the senders that these spam messages have masqueraded as being from are the United States Postal Service and Canada Post. Of course the best advice remains to be suspicious of any and every email attachment you open, particularly if you weren’t expecting mail or it's from someone you don’t know.

Should I be concerned?

In fact, revisiting your everyday security precautions is probably pretty good advice all round, since experts predict that this type of threat is likely to become ever more common as attackers seek to exploit the techniques of Poweliks in order for their infiltration to remain unnoticed for as long as possible. Sure enough, a number of copycat threats have already been detected by security specialists as of the start of 2015.

General awareness around web sites you choose to visit is also recommendable in particular, since others have also reported the bug making its way onto their systems thanks to so-called ‘drive-by download attacks’ - whereby simply visiting a malicious web site is enough to trigger the infection, and actively downloading a file isn’t even necessary. As a result, organizations may wish to consider more comprehensive filtering of internet access, or at the very least reactive blocking of known malicious sites, in order to prevent employees from inadvertently infecting a company network.

To find out more about IT security solutions and protecting your technology from attack, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 28th, 2015

GoogleApps_Jan27_BWe all use apps on our smartphones to simplify daily tasks and generally make our lives easier. As a business owner too, you might already be using the Google apps suite - including Drive, Gmail, Calendar and others - to more efficiently manage files, contacts and processes. But there are plenty more apps with their roots in the Google factory that can help you to be more productive in and outside of work. These five are among those for which you might want to hotfoot it to the App Store or Google Play.

Google Wallet

For a long time PayPal has been the default digital payment system - the one that instantly comes to mind when you think of paying for goods or services online. Now that has begun to change, with the launch of Google Wallet and more recently Apple Pay, which are designed to make it easy for consumers to make payments with just a couple of taps on both mobile devices and more conventional platforms. In the latest change to this developing sector, Google Wallet has teamed up with payment processor WePay, which provides the technology behind invoicing programs, e-commerce platforms and charitable donation and crowdfunding sites. The move expands the reach of Google Wallet - and Apple is said to be not far behind, with a similar deal - and makes now a good time to equip yourself with one or both apps. Expect mobile platforms like these to play an increasingly visible role in both online transactions and physical, face-to-face purchases in retail outlets and elsewhere.

Google Gesture Search

Need to quickly track down contacts, messages, applications and other data and files on your phone? Google Gesture Search may only be available for Android devices at the moment, but it can speed up the process of searching for that elusive file or folder. The app allows you to use your finger to draw letters, numbers or symbols on your phone’s screen to identify the item you are searching for. The app is also intelligent in that the more you use it, the more it learns from your search history and makes better, more accurate guesses at what you’re hunting for. Clunky text searches that either yield hundreds of irrelevant results, or none at all, are a thing of the past.

Google Waze

Waze is designed to help you avoid traffic jams and smooth the pain of your travels, while it also allowing you to out for pesky speed cameras. However, it isn’t proving as popular with law enforcement. Perhaps understandably in the wake of recent shootings, authorities fear the police finding feature of the app - primarily intended to give a heads-up on speed traps - could make it all too easy for those so inclined to locate and attack police. All the same, because the app is based on crowdsourced data about congestion and cameras as submitted by users, it isn’t a totally comprehensive map and doesn’t contain anything that couldn’t already be spread by word of mouth. But it’s probably enough to make your next journey that little bit easier.

Google Translate

Okay, so you already know about this popular translation app, which can help you switch text between around eighty languages. You might even be aware that the app already offers support for voice-to-text translation, whereby you can speak or play a recording of a foreign language into your microphone and have Google instantly translate it into the language of your choice. But at the moment, you have to know which language the original recording is in, in order to select it from within the app - and that is what is about to change. Though there is currently no definite timeframe for release, it is reported that Google is expecting to roll out new features to enable the app to automatically detect a number of common languages and translate without the need for any further human input.

Google Authenticator

It’s not only your laptop that should be protected with a secure password - with the number of apps and volume of data likely held in the cloud via your Google account, an intruder gaining access could leave you and your organization at serious risk of a data leak or other security breach. More secure than a regular password alone, Google Authenticator makes it easy for you to put into place two-step verification - which security experts recommend should be standard practice. Once you have this app fighting your corner, logging in to your Google account involves entering your regular password alongside a random code generated by the app - making it far harder for outsiders to break their way in. And because the code is actually generated on the device itself rather than sent from a Google server, it doesn’t even matter if your phone is offline or lacking mobile connection at the time.

Want to learn more about how Google Apps can transform your business and help you work more efficiently? Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 27th, 2015

iPhone_Jan27_B

We’re all busy. Our schedules are loaded with work, fitness regimes, kids’ soccer practices - it’s enough to make your head spin. So when your son or daughter gets sick, how do you squeeze their care into your day? The iPhone’s latest health apps and accessories may be the solution you’ve been searching for, giving you the ability to book a virtual doctor appointment from home and even keep track of your own medical history to speed up those in-person doctor visits. For three ways the iPhone is revolutionizing health care, read on.

At-home ear infection diagnosis

If you have a young child, you'll already know that ear infections are a common nuisance. By the age of 3, roughly 80% of all children have suffered from this affliction. And this problem alone costs the medical industry roughly 3.5 billion dollars annually.

In today’s world, full of long work hours and overloaded schedules, it can be difficult to find the time to visit a doctor. And if you live in a remote area, the challenge is even greater. But when little Johnny’s ear infection means you're waking up at night to deal with a screaming toddler, you know that something needs to be done. The iPhone’s new Oto Home device could be your solution.

For $79 you can bring the technology of an otoscope (the device your doctor uses to look into your ear at a checkup) directly into your home. Not the whole thing of course. Instead, the Oto Home is just the small black cone-like part at the tip of the otoscope that the doctor inserts into your ear. Now you can attach this tool to your iPhone’s camera, and use it to take a video of the inside of your child’s ear, which can then be sent to your doctor via email. For a $49 fee, your doctor can diagnose and provide a prescription almost instantly.

At this time, the device is only available in California, but will likely be approved for use in more states soon.

Medical history for quicker doctor appointments

Whether you need to keep a close eye on a sick relative’s temperature or want to have a record of your own medical history, iPhone’s new Swaive app can help. Like the Oto Home device, the Swaive also involves your ear. But instead of diagnosing ear infections, the Swaive acts as an in-ear thermometer.

In combination with Apple’s Health app, the Swaive can keep track of your temperature over weeks, months or years. With this app, you can also record any kind of recurring physical symptom or medication you’re taking. This information can then be sent to your physician.

Even better, the next time you pop in for an in-person doctor visit, this info can speed up the process as it acts as a recent medical history.

Virtual doctor appointments from anywhere

But if you’d rather not visit the doctor at all, now you can make a virtual appointment through an app called Amwell. This allows you to Facetime with your physician at anytime, with no appointment necessary.

The way Amwell works is simple. A patient can open the app and scroll through the physicians who are part of the Amwell network. Just like other online health databases, you’ll be able to see the doctor’s years in practice, education and patient rating. Once you’ve made your choice, you can sign up for a $49 virtual visit where a doctor can provide instant feedback, diagnosis and treatment. Best of all, Amwell visits are covered by some insurance providers. So once you get your printable receipt, you can still get reimbursed.

Looking for more tips on how your iPhone can make life easier? Contact us today and learn how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
January 23rd, 2015

Office365_Jan21_BThe cloud is hovering over many businesses, especially those who want to benefit from enhanced collaboration that Office 365 promises. Whilst data is protected in the cloud, issues can still arise with risks at the user end. The latest good news is that Spanning is looking to look after Office 365 data in 2015 and provide an extra layer of protection to this cloud platform.

Data backup provider Spanning is widening its ambit to include Office 365 this coming year. With an increasing amount of data located in cloud applications, this expansion will likely be welcomed by business bosses all over the world.

Isn't my data protected in the cloud? Well, yes it is, but not 100%, and it is this gap that users need to be wary of. A 2014 report by IT hardware storage providers, EMC, who recently acquired Spanning, points to a 400% rise in data loss since 2012. With platforms such as Office 365, each end-user represents an opportunity for data to be compromised. In other words, it is not the solid core of the cloud and its backup and recovery services that is the issue, but this increase in cloud-based collaboration and file sharing.

How can data be lost? Each cloud provider offers certain protections and terms which it is vital you understand first and foremost. On top of this, an awareness of how data is at risk from user influence is essential too. Some data loss issues include:

  • Accidentally deleting files.
  • Intentionally deleting files with malicious intent.
  • File corruption and data wipes due to tech glitches.
  • Retrieving files deleted over 30 days previously or locating a previous file version due to errors in current documents.
What will Spanning offer Office 365 users? Spanning allows for automated and manual daily backups of mail, calendar and contacts, whilst ensuring there is a copy of data from applications and cloud files. Other benefits include:
  • Ability to find previous backups and restore these.
  • Ability for data restoration, from one Office 365 account to another to allow for smoother and security-conscious recruitment and end-of-employment changes.
  • Protection through 256 bit encryption with intrusion detection.
  • Data control with compartmentalized access.
When it comes to data loss there is clear and present danger that could spell financial ruin for your business. There is always need for a copy of your data so that recovery is possible. To ignore cloud security and not consider data protection for Office 365 could be costly and for many businesses even deliver a fatal blow.

According to some recent statistics from IDG Research, 58% of businesses surveyed had suffered some hosted software data loss in the last year and 31% were debating whether to invest in backup and recovery for this data. Cloud data storage protection does not cover human error or problems with system configurations, nor IT service management process errors.

Find out how to protect your Office 365 data by getting in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
January 22nd, 2015

socialmedia_Jan20_BIn today’s digital world, social media has become a vital tool that effectively helps accelerate business development and the relationship-building process between different organizations. And with solid communication being at the core of business development, let’s take a look at how social media can help drive partnering processes for the better.

In most cases, a business development manager already has an idea of the kind of company with which to partner. Their next step is to contact that company via a phone call or email. However, this can be an unreliable way to reach out, especially when your potential partner has never heard of you. Social media speeds up this process by identifying the best person to contact, as well as determining if you have any mutual connections.

Simply put, social media lets you understand the background of different companies and gives you an idea of the different players involved, before you even engage in a dialogue. With this in mind, let’s take a look at four ways you can utilize information available on social media to enhance your business development success.

  1. Social media is an extra pair of eyes Social media allows you to see first-hand what potential partners, competitors, and customers are doing, which is a major asset when it comes to your business development and performance. This can also reveal business-relationship possibilities or even warn where it is best to stay away. It’s crucial to position yourself and your company as industry experts by sharing mind-blowing content as well as highlighting recent successes.
  2. There’s no universal message in social media The way people behave and connect across different social media platforms varies, therefore it is important to adjust accordingly. For instance, you might use Twitter to promote ongoing marketing campaigns, share content, and direct customer service requests. You may use Facebook for larger marketing initiatives, such as showcasing a company’s culture and resources. It’s important to remember that there’s no universal rule to utilizing social media and that it is beneficial to be flexible. Think about what your individual goals are and work out which social media platform is the best avenue to explore.
  3. Leverage employee relationships If you’re looking to connect with an individual in a specific company, make it a habit to check and see if anyone in your company has a pre-existing relationship with that person. Social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn make it fairly easy to spot mutual connections, so it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking. Whether you ask your colleague to help make an introduction or to arrange a meeting, a mutual connection gives you the competitive edge in effective business development.
  4. Use social media as a touchpoint Social media is not only essential to business development, but also complements other more traditional practices, such as when you’ve sent an email or voicemail to a business prospect that has gone unanswered. It’s understandable that people get so busy they can delay, forget or pass over an inquiry, but instead of passively waiting for a reply, why not make it standard practice to follow up separately via LinkedIn or other social media platforms? This way you can build additional opportunities with potential partners, increase the likelihood of a response, and even forge a future business relationship.
The fundamentals of business development are strong relationships with a partner or companies with a good reputation, who will have a positive impact on your business, such as marketing an initiative collaboratively. Social media can get this whole process started, so the next time you’re looking to contact a business prospect or potential partner, start by visiting their social media channels to get the heads up to help you in your quest.

Looking to learn more about the benefits of social media in business? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 21st, 2015

Facebook_Jan20_BA close friend just messaged you on Facebook. You log on to view it, and suddenly you're overwhelmed with high school friends (who you haven’t seen in years) boasting about their new diet and cryptic updates from your unemployed cousin. Next thing you know, you’re responding to game requests from your daughter’s playmate. And suddenly a half hour has passed...yet your message from your actual friend still awaits. If all this sound mentally exhausting, here are five tips to take control of your Facebook News Feed for good.

1. Become good friends with the "Unfollow" button

If you haven't heard, there's this amazing little tab that instantly allows a person to disappear from your News Feed. It's called the "Unfollow" tab, and you'll soon become best buddies with it.

Don't worry though, when you unfollow someone, you’re not unfriending him or her. And they'll never even know you did it (unless you tell them). It just keeps their TMI and updates about visiting the grocery store out of your feed.

To unfollow a person, click on the drop-down arrow in the top right corner of whomever's post and click "Unfollow [Name]"

An alternative option is to visit said person's profile and click on the "Following" button at the bottom-right corner of their cover photo. Once you click, it will change from "Following" to "Follow." Goodbye happy hashtag Sarah. #solongSarah #won'tbemissed

2. Avoid content from Facebook Pages

What if you don't want to unfollow someone but are sick of all the links they share? Not a problem. No more seeing surveys from Anotherdumbsurvey.net about which Hunger Games character you are or what baked good best describes your personality.

If you want to say goodbye to a page's content you're not interested in, click on that same top-right arrow in the upper right hand corner of the post and hit the "Hide all from [Page Name]" option.

3. Tell Facebook what posts annoy you

Sometimes you need to speak directly to the Facebook gods. Maybe you’re tired of seeing all those Facebook check ins, event spam, and baby pictures of little Tommy’s first experience eating cake...

To stop seeing posts you're not interested in, hit that same drop-down arrow and select "I don't want to see this." In theory, and if you do it enough times to the same type of content, this should put an end to all those baby updates for good.

4. Complete a Facebook survey

Yes, they do exist. And well, they kind of seem to work. We've tested this feature out, and it appears that some of the more spammy/annoying posts have disappeared. So back to the top-right arrow we go.

Click on it and the very last option is "Take a survey to make News Feed better." You'll click through 15 screenshots and rate how much they look like an advertisement.

5. Adjust your News Feed preferences

At the top of your home page is a little arrow that, when clicked on, shows you the option to choose your "News Feed Preferences." When you open it, you'll see the content you’ve viewed most and what you're currently following. Opt out of what you don’t want to see anymore.

Don’t get sucked into the online lives of people you rarely see in real life. Take action and control your News Feed today. If you're looking to learn more about Facebook and its features, contact us and learn how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook
January 20th, 2015

AppleMacOS_Jan16_BMacs are full of great tools and shortcuts to help drive productivity and increase the speed at which you work. And if you know about the built-in tricks available to make your life easier, computers can help in speeding you along and allow you to achieve your goals more quickly. A new year presents a new chance to pick up skills like this, or to brush up on those you already know but have fallen out of the habit of using. These three Mac tips will have you working at lightning speed!

Make searching easier

Need to hunt down a file? You can make the process easier by not searching for just one word, or even a series of words in sequence, but by instead searching for a logical combination of terms as a Boolean expression. Boolean expressions combine search terms with conditions like ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ to specify whether you want results that contain all, or only some, of your search terms. These expressions are supported by native Mac apps including Spotlight, Mail and Calendar, and by plenty of third-party apps too.

For instance, if you wanted to track down client invoices that have not yet been marked as paid, you might begin by searching for files containing the word ‘invoice’. This term alone would bring up plenty of results you had no interest in, but by using a Boolean expression which takes the terms ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ to create a logical statement, you could run a search for ‘invoice NOT paid’.

Protect your passwords

We’ve all heard the recommendation that our passwords should be long, difficult to guess and full of unnatural-feeling characters like mixed-case letters, numbers and punctuation - easier said than put into practice. Add to that the fact that, if we want to be truly secure, we shouldn’t use the same password for more than one account, and suddenly creating hack-roof passwords becomes a real challenge. Even once you’ve invented them, how on earth are you supposed to remember all of these different passwords?

Well, there’s an app for that. Or several, to be precise - the Apple-specific iCloud Keychain syncs your passwords across your devices and then fills them in when necessary, remembering what you can’t. On other operating systems, 1Password and LastPass are good alternatives.

Simplify your coding

Does your day-to-day work involve writing of some kind? You can make your job simpler by forgetting often difficult to read HTML code in favour of much friendlier, more attractive and easier to work with Markdown code. Based on plain text, Markdown is compatible with almost all word processors, meaning you don’t need to worry about using a specific text editor for fear of risking the corruption of your code. Simplified codes, such as Marketing to create a hyperlink, are transformed into formatted documents by a converter that takes the effort out of writing.

Numerous versions of Markdown have expanded upon the original idea to add additional features and bring further design richness to your finished document, but all of them offer the basics you’ll need to produce in your writing. Examples of apps that act as dedicated Markdown editors are Marked 2, iA Writer and Editorial.

If you’re looking to learn more about productivity tips or other Mac features, get in touch today and see what we can do to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
January 14th, 2015

GoogleApps_Jan12_BDoes your approach to email need a thorough detox? If email feels like a black hole into which too much of your time disappears, it could be time to re-think your approach. With these productivity hacks for Gmail, you can turn things around and put email to work for you again - freeing up valuable time to concentrate on running your business.

Customize your email address and harness filters

Did you know that, if you use Gmail, you can customize your existing email address? Whether you have a regular @gmail.com or @company.com address, you can adjust your username depending on who you are giving it to and what you are likely to receive. For example, if your basic address is theboss@company.com, you could give theboss+friends@company.com to friends and use theboss+blog@company.com to invite blog comments.

Combine this feature with Gmail’s native filters to add labels to emails depending on which address they are sent to - so you can keep work and play separate, or file blog comments to deal with at a set time. Don’t want to see Facebook email notifications? Change your profile to use the email address theboss+spam@company.com and set up a filter to direct those messages to the trash. Your email is compartmentalized and you can see what you need to, when you really need to.

Can frequent responses to save time

Do you get similar email enquiries every day? If you currently pen a fresh reply to each message that arrives, then kick that habit right now and save yourself a heap of time. Gmail’s built in Canned Responses function allows you to store messages that you frequently send so they are ready to use at the touch of a button.

Enable Canned Responses from the Labs tab of the Gmail settings page, then when composing a new message just click the arrow icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and select Canned Responses. From here you can use an existing canned response or add a new one. Then just hit send!

Schedule emails and reminders with Boomerang

The Boomerang add-on, which comes as a web extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers and as an Android app, enables you to bounce new emails right out of your inbox and schedule their return when it suits you. The emails are stored remotely, freeing you up to concentrate on more urgent tasks.

Likewise, if you need to send one or more emails at a specific time but won’t be at your desk, with Boomerang you can schedule the emails in advance to send automatically when you need them to. You can also put this feature to use to schedule emails to send to yourself that act as task reminders.

Quick question? Chat instead

Don’t underestimate the value of Gmail’s chat system, or Hangouts as it is known in the age of Google+. Save yourself the time spent composing a long-form email, and the back-and-forth of conversation between recipients, by penning a brief chat message when you just need to ask a question.

Chances are too that colleagues will be less daunted by an instant message than an email, and more likely to respond right away than put it off. Hangouts need not be limited to one-to-one conversations - to start a group chat, open a chat with one colleague and then click the stick person icon beneath their name. You’ll see a list of contacts that you can add to the conversation.

Treat your email like a relay race

Of course, the best way to save time on email is to limit the amount of time you spend on it - one great way is by using the browser extension Mail Timer. This nifty add-on allows you to set yourself a maximum amount of time - say two minutes - to respond to each email. After that, a pop-up message will let you know you’re out of time and encourage you to continue to your next message. Not only will Mail Timer train you to be more concise in crafting emails, but it is a great way to get into the habit of swiftly clearing your inbox of messages that only need a brief reply - you can archive others to deal with at a set time (or use Boomerang to bring them back automatically when it suits you).

If you would like to learn more about using Gmail, or any other Google app, please get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 14th, 2015

Security_Jan12_CThe scale of the recent security breaches at Sony, which led to the cancellation of The Interview’s theatrical release, can make the company’s problems seem beyond the realm of the average small business. But the security mishaps that created the circumstances for the hack are as applicable to modest local and regional companies as they are to multimillion dollar corporations. These three tips will take you back to security basics and help avert your own big-screen drama.

Don’t let basic security habits slip

Our modern-day instinct tells us that the answer to potential security breaches is to install new layers of antivirus software, firewalls and further encryption systems. While these are all worthy additions to your company’s armor of security shields, they will do little to help if good old-fashioned protective habits are allowed to slide.

Instill a disciplined, security-conscious mentality in your organization, and keep the messages simple so that staff remember and follow them. Focus on regularly changing passwords and keeping them secret, being vigilant about avoiding unexpected links in email messages, and limiting network access for the likes of external contractors to that which is absolutely necessary.

One of the ways hackers made their way into the Sony network was by tricking administrators into thinking they had a legitimate need for access: teach your staff to be careful, and praise cautiousness even if it turns out access is warranted. Encourage staff to flag up potential security lapses, and make sure they know that reports will be followed up and loopholes closed.

Take a flexible and agile approach to IT

IT changes, and so do the ways best suited to keeping it safe. This means it is vitally important to keep your IT systems up to date, and where necessary to do away with outdated practices that could leave your business technology exposed. This involves more than just ensuring that your network is running updated antivirus software to catch the latest bugs and worms - it means staying abreast of emerging methods to mitigate potential threats from hackers worldwide.

All of this uses staff and resources that your small business might not have - which is where outsourced managed services come in. Using a managed service provider as an add-on to your own IT team can give you extra flexibility and the ability to keep abreast of industry security developments, even when you lack the time to do so yourself.

Equally, know when it is time to ditch data - think of emerging social networks like Snapchat, which set messages to self-destruct after a set time, as your cue to make your data retention policy less permanent, particularly in relation to email. If you no longer have a business need or a regulatory requirement to retain information, then delete it - in the process you can limit the possible damage even if the worst should occur and you fall victim to an external attack.

Backup, backup, backup

The last thing you want in the event of a security breach is for it to hit your day-to-day operations - the potential damage caused by the hack itself is likely to give you enough to worry about. But that is exactly the situation Sony found itself in after its latest hack, with its email system down and staff forced to return to the days of pen, paper and even the fax machine.

As well as ensuring alternative means of communication remain open to your business in the aftermath of a possible attack, it is also vital to make sure that you retain access to the information most critical to your work. Regular, secured backups help ensure that, whatever happens, the show is able to go on and your firm’s productivity and revenue are not unduly hit. Engaging professionals to undertake your backups on a managed service basis also means this can happen routinely and without fail, while you stay focused on running your business.

Want to learn more about how to reduce your IT network’s vulnerability to attack? Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 13th, 2015

office365_jan12_BThe way that we are sharing important and often sensitive information is changing, with a growing focus on enhanced collaborative tools. Office 365 users are increasingly sharing data using SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Windows File Share and also Office apps. Data loss prevention is now set to expand to give greater control over this type of collaborative data in real-time.

Beyond email security

There has long been an awareness of security when it comes to email content and Office 365 incorporated data loss prevention in Exchange and Outlook, as well as Outlook Web App. It is understandable that when you write an email you don't want the information within it to be seen by anyone else, and whilst Google maintains its email scanning policies, data loss prevention tools can help stop hackers from getting a glimpse of your private data. This is all well and good but sharing critical data via email is not the only way to exchange information and Microsoft's latest data loss prevention strategy recognizes these changes.

Collaboration needs to be safe

Microsoft has enhanced collaboration capabilities with Office 365 but along with these new ways of sharing data, there needs to be solid security measures in place too. Documents in Word and spreadsheets in Excel are created using applications and then shared via various collaboration tools. To ensure this data is safe, access restrictions and permissions need to be activated.

Data loss prevention in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business

Recently eDiscovery has allowed users of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business to identify sensitive information within collaborative content. This security is set to expand to policies on restricting and blocking access, user education and to include email notifications.

Data loss prevention in Windows File Share

Windows File Server already has file classification infrastructure in place, whereby the server scans files to identify sensitive data. This data is then tagged and classified according to the definitions users set, with an ability to initiate action on these identified or classified files. The latest security, or data loss prevention, measures involve this content classification being extended to Office files in Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. In time, this will continue to grow to include centrally managed policies and allow for greater user education within companies.

Data loss prevention in Office applications

This protection is being expanded to Microsoft applications so that when content is created users will be able to set up policies with regard to sharing permissions at the same time. Tips connected to the policies that have been established will then be offered as well. Initially, Excel will benefit from this expansion, with Word and PowerPoint being included later in the year.

The importance of data loss prevention

With so many different ways to create and share content, it is essential that business leaders can take advantage of a stable strategy for preventing data loss. If sensitive and crucial information is allowed to leak out this could potentially be incredibly damaging to a business and put productivity and profitability in jeopardy. With greater collaborative tools comes greater risk and the latest plans for Office 365 data loss prevention are a welcome layer of security to protect against data dangers.

Find out more about how Office 365 can benefit your business. Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365