Posts Tagged ‘Office 365’

New Ransomware Threats and How to Defend Against It

Posted on: February 23rd, 2018 by jiml | No Comments

In what should not be a surprise to anyone reading this, 2017 surveys have shown that ransomware attacks against businesses like yours increased in 2017 over 2016. (4.3 times as many to be exact) The hackers behind these attacks have been so successful in monetizing their attacks that they have tremendous resources at their disposal to hone their craft. The end results are attacks that are more sophisticated and more destructive. If you are unsure what ransomware is, please see our video.

2017 saw attacks like WannaCry that did not use the traditional methods of infecting computers. Email attachments and links are still the most common method of contracting ransomware, but we are seeing different threat vectors targeting businesses. In the case of WannaCry, it attacked vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system. Users did not need to click on a bad attachment or go to a bad web site to be infected. They simply had to be targeted and not have installed the patches that Microsoft provided for the vulnerability.

2018 has seen a rise in ransomcloud viruses which attack cloud services like Microsoft Office 365, a popular email platform. Users would receive an email appearing to be from Microsoft and prompt the user for credentials. Once provided, all of the users’ email would be encrypted and unreadable without the decryption key, which the hackers held for ransom.

We, of course, encourage users to never, never, never (you get the point) pay the ransom. Paying the ransom perpetuates the cycle by giving the bad people more resources to put toward their scams. Once you have contracted a ransomware virus, restoring from backup is the best way to recover your data. Cleaning the infection out of your system should of course be the first step in remediation, followed by restore. For ransomcloud viruses affecting Office 365 it is important to note that businesses have options. There are reliable and cost-effective solutions for providing comprehensive backups to your Office 365 (or Google’s G Suite) data. Having this extra layer of protection can come in handy for other reasons in addition to malware as well. Want to recover an email from two months ago? How are you going to do that? With our solution, a simple phone call or email gets the process started. Too much business is conducted via email in today’s world to leave your email recovery to chance.

To hear more, call us at 888-600-4560, email us, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.







Farewell to Exchange 2007

Posted on: August 29th, 2016 by jiml | No Comments

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 was a tremendous leap forward for Microsoft’s industry-leading email and collaboration platform. Exchange 2007 introduced things like failover and disaster recovery features, PowerShell in the Exchange Management Shell (EMS), the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) based Exchange Management Console (EMC), Unified Messaging, 64-bit architecture, Exchange Web Services, compliance features, transport rules, retention management, and many other key features. Many businesses worldwide still use Exchange 2007 for the email and collaboration features that their business relies on.

Exchange 2007 will be ten years old next year and, like many Microsoft products before it, is reaching the end of its support life. Microsoft will be terminating extended support for Exchange 2007 on April 11, 2017. Termination of extended support means that there will be no monthly patches for security problems, bugs, etc. In short, as of April 11, 2017, the Exchange 2007 you’re running will be the Exchange 2007 you’re running forever – unchanging and no longer protected.

The potential exposure to your business by running Exchange 2007 after April 11, 2017, can not be overstated. In order to provide email services, Exchange 2007 must be exposed to the Internet; inbound and outbound email has to be transferred, smartphones have to connect, users have to connect to Outlook Web Access or Outlook Anywhere for remote work, etc. These features require that your Exchange 2007 infrastructure be exposed to the public Internet. As of April 11, 2017, your exposed Exchange 2007 infrastructure will never receive another security update from Microsoft.

If your business still relies on Exchange 2007, it’s time to start considering your options. It takes time to plan and execute a migration, whether that migration is to a newer version of on-premises Exchange Server, Office 365, Hosted Exchange, or any alternative. Whichever direction to plan to take, the time to start working on it is now.

What are some of your options?

Upgrade to Exchange Server 2010 – This is the most direct and least painful choice, but if you opt for this path you should consider it a very short term solution. Exchange 2010 is N-2 (two versions older than N, the current version of Exchange) and already in extended support itself. Upgrading from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010 will only buy you a few years before you have to upgrade again. Is that really what you want to do? Probably not.

Upgrade to Exchange Server 2013 – Exchange 2013 is arguably the go-to Exchange version right now. It has been in mainstream use for several years, has had several updates, and is proving its worth and reliability. It is compatible with Exchange 2007 so you can upgrade your Exchange organization from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2013 without any significant complexity (e.g. multi-step migrations, feature compatibility issues, etc.). Exchange 2013 has a long support lifecycle still ahead of it; it has two years of mainstream support plus another five of extended support remaining. However, it is still an N-1 product, and if you’re going to spend your money on a migration, it might be best to go to an N product (Exchange 2016) rather than continue to be behind the curve.

Upgrade to Exchange Server 2016 – Exchange 2016, while a newcomer to on-premises installation, has more mainstream use behind it via Office 365, which is used by millions of users and provides the foundation upon which the on-premises release of Exchange 2016 is based. Any concerns about Exchange 2016 being “too new” for production use don’t take into account that the software has been through many rounds of testing and hard production use in the cloud before being delivered to enterprises for on-premises use.

However, the biggest challenge for Exchange 2016 is that there is no way to upgrade directly from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2016. Since Exchange 2016 is N, and Exchange 2007 is N-3, Microsoft doesn’t support any direct migration options. If Exchange 2016 is your goal, you have to go through a “double-hop” migration – upgrade your organization to either Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013, migrate all your users from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010/2013, decommission all your Exchange 2007 servers, and start all over again to upgrade your Exchange 2010/2013 organization to Exchange 2016. Other option is to create a “resource forest,” which has many advantages but also introduces complexity into your IT infrastructure.

Migrate to The Cloud – Office 365 / Hosted Exchange – If your business is still running Exchange 2007, that might be a sign that keeping your Exchange infrastructure current hasn’t been a priority. Whether it’s an issue of cost or manpower, your business is running its communications on ten-year-old software. Moving your email infrastructure to the cloud removes this concern from your radar – permanently. Once you move your email infrastructure to the cloud, you will never have to do another Exchange migration ever again.

Colden Company has always recommended email as a perfect fit for the cloud. Whether you prefer Microsoft Office 365 for best-of-breed features capabilities (with more being added every day) that you couldn’t offer your users at any cost, or you prefer a simple Hosted Exchange (i.e. email only) solution, moving your email infrastructure to the cloud removes the ongoing concern regarding Exchange maintenance and upgrades from your business permanently.

A discussion of the perceived risks associated with cloud computing is beyond the scope of this post, but rest assured that if your concerns revolve around reliability, compliance, security, backup, or any other concerns you might have, Colden Company is ready to put your fears to rest. We have moved many businesses to cloud email and they will never look back.

In summary, if you’re still running your business on Exchange 2007, you have options. What you’re running out of is time. April 11, 2017 is not that far away, and major upgrades can take six months to a year or more to do under normal circumstances; you simply don’t have that much time anymore. Don’t underestimate either the importance of doing this or the timelines required, or think that this will be quick and painless. Upgrading from ten-year-old software is a very major event and needs to be handled carefully.

The good new is that you have Colden Company to help. We have performed many successful Exchange migrations – both on-premises and to the cloud – for businesses of many sizes and in many markets. Start planning your exit from Exchange 2007 today by calling Colden Company at 888-600-4560, email us, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.







Have You Considered Office 365?

Posted on: May 27th, 2016 by jiml | No Comments

As many companies and workers are embracing mobile computing and working on multiple devices, it may be time to take a fresh look at how email and documents are accessed. For these workers it is worth considering Office 365 for email and Office licensing solutions. There is a lot of information to be aware of when considering this option. There are many versions of Office 365 and not all implementations of it are equal.

Let’s start with the basics: What is Office 365? It is Microsoft’s cloud based email solution at its core. Let’s stop here and examine this core solution for its benefits and drawbacks. With Office 365 being a cloud-based service, it means your email will reside at Microsoft’s various data centers and not locally on an in-house Exchange server. This brings up the question of security. Is your email more secure in house or hosted by Microsoft? Some will argue that Microsoft is a bigger target and therefore your data is more at risk. The counter argument to this is that Microsoft has the resources to put into protecting your data. Statistically, small to medium sized businesses are three times more often compromised by hacking attempts for the simple reasons that there are more of them and they have less effective security measures in place. Hackers will often bypass well-secured infrastructures to find easier prey.

Putting the security issue aside, email is a good fit for the cloud. The cloud provides high availability for critical applications, in this case Microsoft Office 365 guarantees 99.9% uptime. In today’s world, access to email is critical. Lost email means lost business.

Email also needs to be available on a variety of platforms, such as mobile devices as well as office computers. Office 365 provides expanding mobility with Office-to-go so Microsoft Office documents can be opened on a mobile device. Access to data on mobile devices in becoming increasingly important as mobile devices continue to outsell traditional desktops.

In addition to the core email service, an Office 365 subscription offers other benefits. One of these is Microsoft Office licensing. The Software-as-a-Service model replaces the upfront expense of buying Microsoft Office with a monthly subscription. As long as the subscription is valid, your access to the software will continue AND be updated as newer releases come out- no more need to buy new versions every few years to stay current. The subscription also allows you to install the Office Software on up to five devices. If you have a work computer, home computer and a tablet, all can download the Office software and use the programs within the license agreement.

Microsoft One-Drive for Business is an additional feature that provides cloud storage for documents. There are limitations of One-Drive but it will provide you with up to one terabytes of storage space for documents in Microsoft’s cloud.

A final consideration when deciding if Office 365 is right for your business is whether or not you require email backup and/or archiving. This is often overlooked as a consideration during the analysis but it an important point to consider. Colden Company can provide solutions for backup and archiving particularly if you are working in a regulated industry where email legal holds are common or at least occasionally required.

As with most technology these days, there are many choices to consider with Office 365. There are email only options, Office Licensing options, and many business class options which should be thoroughly reviewed to make the right choice for your business. This is where Colden Company can help. We are experts in navigating the complexity of options, choosing the proper solution and implementing it on-time and on-budget.

To get the process started, contact Colden Company at 888-600-4560, email us, or see us on Facebook or Twitter.







What Kind of Cloud Does Your Business Have?

Posted on: June 28th, 2013 by jiml | No Comments

Cloud computing and its place in the business world can be a confusing topic for even the most IT-savvy business people. Should we be using the cloud?  What should we be using the cloud for? Is it cost-efficient for our business to use the cloud?  These are all legitimate questions that business decision makers face every day.  The wrong decision can turn your cloud into a thunder cloud for the business!

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Which is your cloud?

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At Colden Company Inc., we have experience helping businesses not only implement cloud solutions, but in helping businesses decide on which cloud services are a fit for their business. We can help you navigate around the clouds, to stay with the analogy. Our role as trusted advisor to our clients is one we take pride in; after all if our customers are doing well, we do well.  Our customers think of us as an extension of their business and as their “Virtual CIO,” if you will.

Our position in favor of email in the cloud has been regularly communicated in our blog postings, so it should be no surprise where we stand on that topic.  Email needs to be highly available – which the cloud provides – and it does not require the same persistent connection that many line of business (LoB) applications require, making it a great fit. There are many options for email in the cloud and we have advised our customers on a range of solutions from Google Apps to Office 365 to Hosted Exchange. Each has it benefits and Colden Company can deliver any of these solutions to your business with the skill and expertise needed to reduce downtime and maximize efficiency.

Office 365 in particular has been generating interest because of its inclusion of Microsoft Office 2013 licensing in its offerings. In fact, each license of certain versions of Office 365 allows installation of Office 2013 on up to five computers. Microsoft Office becomes a subscription-based purchase rather than an up-front out-of-pocket expense as it has been traditionally. As with any Microsoft product, there are a confusing range of options to navigate when considering Office 365.  Our experts can help.

Email and productivity applications are only scratching the surface; there is a wide range of services that can be moved to the cloud. Colden Company can help your business move, for example, your phone system, shared file storage, backups, and even comprehensive disaster recovery to the cloud. Cloud alternatives to traditional on-premises solutions are easier to manage and maintain and require significantly less up-front investment. Cloud solutions bring formerly enterprise-class IT services into the range of affordability for small and medium businesses.

If your business is not utilizing the cloud effectively and you would like assistance turning that thunder cloud into a fair weather cloud, contact us today at (888) 600-4560 or at info@coldencompany.com, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.