7 easy ways to prevent data loss in Office 365

For businesses, data security is critical. If this information is lost or stolen, it could lead to crippling financial losses, legal disputes, and more importantly, loss of customer trust. While Microsoft Office 365 comes with some security and compliance tools, it still needs the support of data protection best practices. Here are seven you should consider.

Take advantage of policy alerts
Establishing policy notifications in Office 365’s Compliance Center can help you meet your company’s data security obligations. For instance, policy tips can warn employees about sending confidential information anytime they’re about to send messages to contacts who aren’t listed in the company network. These preemptive warnings can prevent data leaks and also educate users on safer data sharing practices.

Secure mobile devices
Since personal smartphones and tablets are often used to access work email, calendar, contacts, and documents, securing them should be a critical part of protecting your organization’s data. Installing mobile device management features for Office 365 enables you to manage security policies and access permissions/restrictions, and remotely wipe sensitive data from mobile devices if they’re lost or stolen.

Use multi-factor authentication
Don’t rely on a single password to safeguard your Office 365 accounts. To reduce the risk of account hijacking, you must enable multi-factor authentication. This feature makes it difficult for hackers to access your account since they not only have to guess user passwords, but also provide a second authentication factor like a temporary SMS code.

Apply session timeouts
Many employees usually forget to log out of their Office 365 accounts and keep their computers or mobile devices unlocked. This could give unauthorized users unfettered access to company accounts, allowing them to steal sensitive data. By applying session timeouts to Office 365, email accounts, and internal networks, the system will automatically log users out after 10 minutes, preventing hackers from opening company workstations and accessing private information.

Avoid public calendar sharing
Office 365’s calendar sharing features allow employees to share and sync their schedules with their colleagues. However, publicly sharing this information is a bad idea because it helps attackers understand how your company works, determine who’s away, and identify vulnerable users. For instance, if security administrators are publicly listed as “Away on vacation,” an attacker may see this as an opportunity to unleash malware on unattended computers.

Employ role-based access controls
Another Office 365 feature that will limit the flow of sensitive data across your company is access management. This lets you determine which user (or users) have access to specific files in your company. For example, front-of-house staff won’t be able to read or edit executive-level documents, minimizing data leaks.

Encrypt emails
Encrypting classified information is your last line of defense to secure your data. If hackers intercept your emails, encryption tools will make files unreadable to unauthorized recipients. This is a must-have for Office 365, where files and emails are shared on a regular basis.

While Office 365 offers users the ability to share data and collaborate, you must be aware of potential data security risks at all times. When you work with us, we will make sure your business keeps up with ever-changing data security and compliance obligations. If you need help securing Office 365, we can assist you, too! Contact us today for details.

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Avoid data loss in Office 365

Microsoft understands the value of business data and the costly repercussions of losing it. That’s why they’ve released a slew of security and compliance tools for Office 365 subscribers. But given the increasing sophistication and frequency of data breaches, these cloud security solutions aren’t enough to protect your files. You’ll need to follow these seven security tips to prevent data loss in Office 365.

Take advantage of policy alerts
Establishing policy notifications in Office 365’s Compliance Center can help you meet your company’s data security obligations. For instance, policy tips can warn employees about sending confidential information anytime they’re about to send messages to contacts who aren’t listed in the company network. These preemptive warnings can prevent data leaks and also educate users on safer data sharing practices.

Secure mobile devices
Since personal smartphones and tablets are often used to access work email, calendar, contacts, and documents, securing them should be a critical part of protecting your organization’s data. Installing mobile device management features for Office 365 enables you to manage security policies and access permissions/restrictions, and remotely wipe sensitive data from mobile devices if they’re lost or stolen.

Use multi-factor authentication
Don’t rely on a single password to safeguard your Office 365 accounts. To reduce the risk of account hijacking, you must enable multi-factor authentication. This feature makes it difficult for hackers to access your account since they not only have to guess user passwords, but also provide a second authentication factor like a temporary SMS code.

Apply session timeouts
Many employees usually forget to log out of their Office 365 accounts and keep their computers or mobile devices unlocked. This could give unauthorized users unfettered access to company accounts, allowing them to steal sensitive data. By applying session timeouts to Office 365, email accounts, and internal networks, the system will automatically log users out after 10 minutes, preventing hackers from opening company workstations and accessing private information.

Avoid public calendar sharing
Office 365’s calendar sharing features allow employees to share and sync their schedules with their colleagues. However, publicly sharing this information is a bad idea because it helps attackers understand how your company works, determine who’s away, and identify vulnerable users. For instance, if security administrators are publicly listed as “Away on vacation,” an attacker may see this as an opportunity to unleash malware on unattended computers.

Employ role-based access controls
Another Office 365 feature that will limit the flow of sensitive data across your company is access management. This lets you determine which user (or users) have access to specific files in your company. For example, front-of-house staff won’t be able to read or edit executive-level documents, minimizing data leaks.

Encrypt emails
Encrypting classified information is your last line of defense to secure your data. If hackers intercept your emails, encryption tools will make files unreadable to unauthorized recipients. This is a must-have for Office 365, where files and emails are shared on a regular basis.

While Office 365 offers users the ability to share data and collaborate, you must be aware of potential data security risks at all times. When you work with us, we will make sure your business keeps up with ever-changing data security and compliance obligations. If you need help securing Office 365, we can assist you, too! Contact us today for details.

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How to protect your Office 365 data

Office 365 is a complete cloud solution that allows you to store thousands of files and collaborate on them, too. In addition to its productivity features, the service comes with security and compliance solutions that will help businesses avoid the crushing financial and legal repercussions of data loss. However, even with its comprehensive security tools, the service has some data security risks that need to be addressed. The following tips will keep your business data private and secure.

Take advantage of policy alerts
Establishing policy notifications in Office 365’s Compliance Center can help you meet your company’s data security obligations. For instance, policy tips can warn employees about sending confidential information anytime they’re about to send messages to contacts who aren’t listed in the company network. These preemptive warnings can prevent data leaks and also educate users on safer data sharing practices.

Secure mobile devices
Since personal smartphones and tablets are often used to access work email, calendar, contacts, and documents, securing them should be a critical part of protecting your organization’s data. Installing mobile device management features for Office 365 enables you to manage security policies and access permissions/restrictions, and remotely wipe sensitive data from mobile devices if they’re lost or stolen.

Use multi-factor authentication
Don’t rely on a single password to safeguard your Office 365 accounts. To reduce the risk of account hijacking, you must enable multi-factor authentication. This feature makes it difficult for hackers to access your account since they not only have to guess user passwords, but also provide a second authentication factor like a temporary SMS code.

Apply session timeouts
Many employees usually forget to log out of their Office 365 accounts and keep their computers or mobile devices unlocked. This could give unauthorized users unfettered access to company accounts, allowing them to steal sensitive data. By applying session timeouts to Office 365, email accounts, and internal networks, the system will automatically log users out after 10 minutes, preventing hackers from opening company workstations and accessing private information.

Avoid public calendar sharing
Office 365’s calendar sharing features allow employees to share and sync their schedules with their colleagues. However, publicly sharing this information is a bad idea because it helps attackers understand how your company works, determine who’s away, and identify vulnerable users. For instance, if security administrators are publicly listed as “Away on vacation,” an attacker may see this as an opportunity to unleash malware on unattended computers.

Employ role-based access controls
Another Office 365 feature that will limit the flow of sensitive data across your company is access management. This lets you determine which user (or users) have access to specific files in your company. For example, front-of-house staff won’t be able to read or edit executive-level documents, minimizing data leaks.

Encrypt emails
Encrypting classified information is your last line of defense to secure your data. If hackers intercept your emails, encryption tools will make files unreadable to unauthorized recipients. This is a must-have for Office 365, where files and emails are shared on a regular basis.

While Office 365 offers users the ability to share data and collaborate, you must be aware of potential data security risks at all times. When you work with us, we will make sure your business keeps up with ever-changing data security and compliance obligations. If you need help securing Office 365, we can assist you, too! Contact us today for details.

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When Microsoft stops supporting Windows

Microsoft only supports each version of Window for a certain period and the end of its support for a software product can be a significant challenge for businesses. Currently, Windows 7 is on “extended support” until January 14, 2020. What does it mean when Microsoft terminates support of your Windows version? Let’s have a closer look.

No more security updates

End of support for Windows means Microsoft stops issuing security updates for that operating system (OS). For example, Windows Vista and Windows XP can no longer receive security updates despite the substantial security holes found in them.

On January 14, 2020, the same will be true for Windows 7. From there, you’ll be on your own. You can still use antivirus tools and other security software for protection, but they won’t be enough to defend against bigger threats. Security software will also gradually drop support for older versions of Windows. Large organizations can sign “custom support” contracts to keep getting security updates while they transition to a new OS. But Microsoft will ratchet up the price going forward to encourage those organizations to move to a new version of Windows.

Software companies will halt support too

When Microsoft ends support for an OS, that’s also the signal for third-party companies to stop supporting that particular version of Windows with their own software and hardware. This doesn’t happen immediately but it does eventually.

For example, Windows XP support ended on April 8, 2014, but Chrome didn’t stop supporting Windows XP until April 2016, two years later. Mozilla Firefox stopped supporting Windows XP in June 2018. Steam will officially drop support for Windows XP and Windows Vista on January 1, 2019. On the other hand, software companies dropped support for Windows Vista more quickly, as it was much less popular than Windows XP.

New hardware may not work

New hardware components and peripherals will stop working on your system too. These need hardware drivers, and manufacturers might not create those hardware drivers for your old, out-of-date OS.

Presently, the latest Intel CPU platforms don’t even support Windows 7 and 8.1. However, the operating systems are technically still in “extended support.” You can keep using your old OS with your current software and hardware, but you have no guarantees of future updates or compatibility.

When will Microsoft end support?

Microsoft has a well-defined support lifecycle for its software products. They come ahead of time so they’re never a surprise. The agreement includes the assurance that Microsoft is committed to providing products with improved security. While they may be unable to provide security updates for older products, they do advise customers to install the latest product releases, security updates, as well as service packs to remain as secure as possible.

Upgrading is better than using unsupported Windows

The support lifecycle is rapidly fading away as Microsoft shifts to its Windows as a service and Office 365 subscription models. If you want to prevent security frustrations, it’s best to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Should you need help in upgrading, or have further concerns about your current Windows, give us a call.

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Preparing for Windows end of support

According to NetMarketShare’s September 2018 data, 40.88% of users are still using Windows 7. The popular operating system (OS) is currently on extended support, but only until January 14, 2020. For Windows 10, the support clock runs out sooner than you might expect. Learn how the end of support for your Windows version can affect you, and why making an upgrade will be an absolutely important task to keep your PC safe.

No more security updates

End of support for Windows means Microsoft stops issuing security updates for that operating system (OS). For example, Windows Vista and Windows XP can no longer receive security updates despite the substantial security holes found in them.

On January 14, 2020, the same will be true for Windows 7. From there, you’ll be on your own. You can still use antivirus tools and other security software for protection, but they won’t be enough to defend against bigger threats. Security software will also gradually drop support for older versions of Windows. Large organizations can sign “custom support” contracts to keep getting security updates while they transition to a new OS. But Microsoft will ratchet up the price going forward to encourage those organizations to move to a new version of Windows.

Software companies will halt support too

When Microsoft ends support for an OS, that’s also the signal for third-party companies to stop supporting that particular version of Windows with their own software and hardware. This doesn’t happen immediately but it does eventually.

For example, Windows XP support ended on April 8, 2014, but Chrome didn’t stop supporting Windows XP until April 2016, two years later. Mozilla Firefox stopped supporting Windows XP in June 2018. Steam will officially drop support for Windows XP and Windows Vista on January 1, 2019. On the other hand, software companies dropped support for Windows Vista more quickly, as it was much less popular than Windows XP.

New hardware may not work

New hardware components and peripherals will stop working on your system too. These need hardware drivers, and manufacturers might not create those hardware drivers for your old, out-of-date OS.

Presently, the latest Intel CPU platforms don’t even support Windows 7 and 8.1. However, the operating systems are technically still in “extended support.” You can keep using your old OS with your current software and hardware, but you have no guarantees of future updates or compatibility.

When will Microsoft end support?

Microsoft has a well-defined support lifecycle for its software products. They come ahead of time so they’re never a surprise. The agreement includes the assurance that Microsoft is committed to providing products with improved security. While they may be unable to provide security updates for older products, they do advise customers to install the latest product releases, security updates, as well as service packs to remain as secure as possible.

Upgrading is better than using unsupported Windows

The support lifecycle is rapidly fading away as Microsoft shifts to its Windows as a service and Office 365 subscription models. If you want to prevent security frustrations, it’s best to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Should you need help in upgrading, or have further concerns about your current Windows, give us a call.

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How does end of support affect Windows users?

Windows 7 was one of Microsoft’s popular and best-loved operating systems (OS), and most of us are still using it. But like the OSs before it, Windows 7 will eventually reach the end of its lifecycle. Mainstream end of support for Windows came into effect on January 13, 2015, but extended support won’t end until January 14, 2020. Find out what this means for you.

No more security updates

End of support for Windows means Microsoft stops issuing security updates for that operating system (OS). For example, Windows Vista and Windows XP can no longer receive security updates despite the substantial security holes found in them.

On January 14, 2020, the same will be true for Windows 7. From there, you’ll be on your own. You can still use antivirus tools and other security software for protection, but they won’t be enough to defend against bigger threats. Security software will also gradually drop support for older versions of Windows. Large organizations can sign “custom support” contracts to keep getting security updates while they transition to a new OS. But Microsoft will ratchet up the price going forward to encourage those organizations to move to a new version of Windows.

Software companies will halt support too

When Microsoft ends support for an OS, that’s also the signal for third-party companies to stop supporting that particular version of Windows with their own software and hardware. This doesn’t happen immediately but it does eventually.

For example, Windows XP support ended on April 8, 2014, but Chrome didn’t stop supporting Windows XP until April 2016, two years later. Mozilla Firefox stopped supporting Windows XP in June 2018. Steam will officially drop support for Windows XP and Windows Vista on January 1, 2019. On the other hand, software companies dropped support for Windows Vista more quickly, as it was much less popular than Windows XP.

New hardware may not work

New hardware components and peripherals will stop working on your system too. These need hardware drivers, and manufacturers might not create those hardware drivers for your old, out-of-date OS.

Presently, the latest Intel CPU platforms don’t even support Windows 7 and 8.1. However, the operating systems are technically still in “extended support.” You can keep using your old OS with your current software and hardware, but you have no guarantees of future updates or compatibility.

When will Microsoft end support?

Microsoft has a well-defined support lifecycle for its software products. They come ahead of time so they’re never a surprise. The agreement includes the assurance that Microsoft is committed to providing products with improved security. While they may be unable to provide security updates for older products, they do advise customers to install the latest product releases, security updates, as well as service packs to remain as secure as possible.

Upgrading is better than using unsupported Windows

The support lifecycle is rapidly fading away as Microsoft shifts to its Windows as a service and Office 365 subscription models. If you want to prevent security frustrations, it’s best to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. Should you need help in upgrading, or have further concerns about your current Windows, give us a call.

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The lowdown on cloud security

If you’re thinking of transitioning your business to the cloud, consider the security of the platform. While providers would like us to believe that the friendly, fluffy cloud image used to market the service means it is automatically secure, the reality is far different. Just ask one of the nearly seven million Dropbox users who had their accounts hacked. This is not meant to scare you, but to make you aware that cloud security needs to be taken seriously especially if you’re a business owner. To help you make a smooth and safe transition, we’ve put together a list of precautionary measures you can take to ensure cloud security.

Ask your IT provider what cloud security policies they have in place

This is probably the single most important security measure you can take. Find a trusted IT provider and have a candid conversation with them about their cloud security policies.

Ask where the physical cloud servers are located

When you have “the conversation,” don’t forget to ask about this. Believe it or not, some cloud servers may not even be located in your own country. Wherever they are, it’s wise to make sure they’re located in a safe data center with proper security afforded to them.

Create unique usernames and passwords

Your login credentials represent one of the cloud’s main security vulnerabilities. Think of a better password than “12345” or “football.”

Use industry standard encryption and authentication protocols

IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) is a reliable technology choice.

Encrypt data before it’s uploaded to the cloud

Encryption is a must, and can be done by you or your cloud service provider. Should hackers manage to access your data, they’ll find it useless because they can’t make heads or tails of it.

When it comes to trusting the security protocol of a cloud service provider, transparency is key. They should take security seriously, be able to explain their security policies clearly, and be willing to answer any questions. If they can’t do one of these, that’s a red flag telling you to find another vendor.

Are you ready to talk cloud security and transition your business into the cloud? Call us today. We’re happy to answer all your questions.

 

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5 cloud security tips for business owners

Cloud computing marketing can be deceiving. When you see an image of the cloud, it’s often a happy, bubbly, white puffball floating delightfully in front of a blue sky background. Its presence is both calming and reassuring, which makes you believe that anything is possible. Security would never be an issue, right? Ask one of the nearly seven million Dropbox users who had their accounts hacked, and they’ll give you a definitive answer. Sure, not every cloud provider has had security breaches, but that doesn’t mean we can take cloud security lightly. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself as a business owner.

Ask your IT provider what cloud security policies they have in place

This is probably the single most important security measure you can take. Find a trusted IT provider and have a candid conversation with them about their cloud security policies.

Ask where the physical cloud servers are located

When you have “the conversation,” don’t forget to ask about this. Believe it or not, some cloud servers may not even be located in your own country. Wherever they are, it’s wise to make sure they’re located in a safe data center with proper security afforded to them.

Create unique usernames and passwords

Your login credentials represent one of the cloud’s main security vulnerabilities. Think of a better password than “12345” or “football.”

Use industry standard encryption and authentication protocols

IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) is a reliable technology choice.

Encrypt data before it’s uploaded to the cloud

Encryption is a must, and can be done by you or your cloud service provider. Should hackers manage to access your data, they’ll find it useless because they can’t make heads or tails of it.

When it comes to trusting the security protocol of a cloud service provider, transparency is key. They should take security seriously, be able to explain their security policies clearly, and be willing to answer any questions. If they can’t do one of these, that’s a red flag telling you to find another vendor.

Are you ready to talk cloud security and transition your business into the cloud? Call us today. We’re happy to answer all your questions.

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Cloud migration made safe and secure

While many IT providers tout the revolutionary benefits of the cloud, very few address the security aspect of it. The fact is, when you’re using a cloud service, you’re moving information out of your hands and into a third party. So doesn’t it make sense to take precautions? Dropbox alone has had the accounts of nearly seven million users hacked. That being said, it’s wise to take precautions and ask the right questions to a cloud computing provider. That’s why we’ve compiled a to-do list to ensure cloud security.

Ask your IT provider what cloud security policies they have in place

This is probably the single most important security measure you can take. Find a trusted IT provider and have a candid conversation with them about their cloud security policies.

Ask where the physical cloud servers are located

When you have “the conversation,” don’t forget to ask about this. Believe it or not, some cloud servers may not even be located in your own country. Wherever they are, it’s wise to make sure they’re located in a safe data center with proper security afforded to them.

Create unique usernames and passwords

Your login credentials represent one of the cloud’s main security vulnerabilities. Think of a better password than “12345” or “football.”

Use industry standard encryption and authentication protocols

IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) is a reliable technology choice.

Encrypt data before it’s uploaded to the cloud

Encryption is a must, and can be done by you or your cloud service provider. Should hackers manage to access your data, they’ll find it useless because they can’t make heads or tails of it.

When it comes to trusting the security protocol of a cloud service provider, transparency is key. They should take security seriously, be able to explain their security policies clearly, and be willing to answer any questions. If they can’t do one of these, that’s a red flag telling you to find another vendor.

Are you ready to talk cloud security and transition your business into the cloud? Call us today. We’re happy to answer all your questions.

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The perfect social media match for your SMB

Social media marketing can be tricky simply because there are so many platforms to choose from. Your first instinct might be to choose Facebook because it is the biggest name in the industry and has the widest reach, but just because it’s effective for other businesses doesn’t mean it will also match your business goals. Every business is different, so decision makers should familiarize themselves with all the available platforms before choosing one to invest in.

Facebook

Research shows that 77% of consumers in the US have social media profiles and that Facebook is the most utilized social media platform by users younger than 50 years old. With over two billion users, Facebook offers the biggest audience and is the perfect place for companies that are looking to increase their brand awareness.

Apart from the huge user base, Facebook also increases customers’ trust by lending otherwise stiff businesses a human touch. Although you don’t have to invest heavily in this platform, you should at least create a basic page. Setting up your company’s page takes only a few minutes and not having one could affect your reputation.

YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world with over 1.9 billion registered users. When properly utilized, it can bring in new customers and help you retain old ones. To increase your brand visibility and help viewers to get to know your company better, create a channel with videos about the products or services that you’re offering.

You can also encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel so they’ll be in the loop every time you upload a new video. Another huge advantage of using YouTube is that Google owns it, and videos from the site are more likely to appear on the first page of search results than other organic content.

Instagram

Launched in 2010, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms today. It boasts one billion registered users, mostly on the younger end of the scale (18-24 years old). Instagram is primarily for sharing photos and short videos, but it recently launched IGTV, an in-app tool for users and businesses to upload long-form videos.

Keep in mind that most users prefer to use Instagram for fun and creative content. The platform is known for beautiful photos, so choose aesthetic content over standoffish or corporate content.

To hit two birds with one stone, integrate your Instagram account with your Facebook page so every new picture or video on your profile will automatically post to your Facebook page.

Snapchat

Another trendy social media platform is Snapchat, which allows its 300+ million monthly users to share photos and videos that disappear within 24 hours. Businesses can use this platform to reach younger audiences through Snap ads, sponsored geofilters, and sponsored lenses.

Snap ads are 10-second full-screen videos with embedded links and calls to action that will appear on the timelines of targeted viewers. Sponsored geofilters and sponsored lenses, meanwhile, are custom filters that may contain elements relating to one’s brand. All these marketing options are available through AdManager, the app’s advertising platform.

Twitter

Twitter has 328 million active daily users. This number may be small compared to the other social media platforms on this list, but that’s precisely its charm: it gives users the feeling of security and coziness that comes from chatting with businesses directly and publicly. In fact, a whopping 85% of SMBs have Twitter accounts that they use to engage with current and potential customers. And because Twitter only allows up to 280 characters per tweet (excluding links), conversations between parties are straight to the point and results-oriented.

If you have more questions about social media platforms and how to use them strategically, contact us today.

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