There is no doubt that Microsoft Office 365 is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to programs that are being used in today’s modern office. With timely updates and releases of new features, users and competitors alike find it hard to keep up. But are you confident that you are harnessing the power of Office 365 the right way? If the answer is no, then read this article to get some top tips.

When an enterprise purchases certain Microsoft Online services such as Office 365, there is usually a Microsoft Partner of Record that is linked to the enterprise account. One of those is MessageOps. According to Chris Pyle, CEO of MessageOps, based on the data and feedback that they have gathered from Office 365 customers, they have concluded that not all business owners understand the true power of Office 365 and know which apps are most useful.

Top 5 Office 365 apps for the modern workspace

1. Sway

Although still in its early stages, one app that is quickly becoming popular is Sway. This is a presentation program that is being used for website creation where users can fuse together text and media. This program, which is included in the Microsoft Office app arsenal, is widely gaining popularity among the business owners and employees who’ve taken it up.

2. OneDrive for Business

If you’re familiar with Dropbox, then you probably know how OneDrive for Business works. It is a single location where users can save, sync, and share their files anytime, anywhere. Some businesses use this together with Dropbox, which is a paid app. Businesses that do this essentially double their cost as they are already paying for the same functionality as OneDrive, an app that is already included in most Office 365 plans.

3. Skype for Business

Hard to believe but there are still a lot of enterprises who pay for additional meeting and communication solutions that they have already paid for with Skype for Business. This app, which is already included in many Office 365 plans, goes beyond meeting and call purposes. It can also let you know which of your contacts is currently online, and you can also launch communications from Word and Powerpoint. What’s more, your communication is kept safe with the use of encryption and authentication processes.

4. Office 365 Groups

This app is very much popular with enterprises that require sharing of ideas from a group working on a project. It provides for a single place where the group can share documents, communication, and notes. This is predicted to become a complete replacement for SharePoint team sites as it is more user-friendly, more manageable and can be set up easily, although it is just as functional as SharePoint.

5. Intranets

With the help of SharePoint Online, intranets are making a comeback. The SharePoint intranet not only enhances communication and collaboration in the office, but the end-result is an effective streamlining and organized storage of information.

Harness the power of the Office 365 in your business. We have experts on standby anticipating your every question and ready to help you with the setting up, maintenance and management of your IT infrastructure. Give us a call.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory. SOURCE

Ways to Repel Ransomware


Let’s put aside for a moment the mega data breaches that resulted in millions of confidential customer records going out the door. If 2015 is to be remembered for one thing in the world of cybersecurity, it might be the year ransomware hit the big time.

Ransomware is “kidnapping” malware that has been plaguing home users and businesses for many years, but which has significantly spiked over the past 24 to 36 months to become a hugely profitable racket for cybercriminals – and a source of great tension for IT and security professionals. The threat initially gained notoriety for its maddening ability to freeze individual keyboards and computers – usually with bogus statements from the FBI concerning child pornography – but in recent years it has evolved to encrypt sensitive data files, with the attackers the only ones holding the private keys to unlock them. The most recent strains of ransomware are going even one step further: They are being bundled with password stealers that are used to exploit weak website security.

The fraudsters won’t release the key, of course, until you make a payment, usually requested in bitcoins. The going-rate is around $500, but the shakedown can stretch into the several thousands of dollars for victims – never mind the costs associated with downtime and recovery, as well as potential legal and customer-related costs. Because the attack is so crippling, many businesses end up deciding to pay the ransom – an outcome that even the FBI hasn’t encouraged against. The most common ransomware family is CryptoWall, which the Internet Crime Complaint Center in the United States estimates was responsible for nearly 1,000 complaints between April 2014 and June 2015, with those victims reporting some $18 million in losses. TeslaCrypt and CBT Locker are two other families that are popular. Reveton and Chimera are still around, but somewhat outdated.

Purveyors of ransomware typically stop short of exfiltrating compromised data as we’ve become accustomed to with traditional data breaches. Instead, they aspire for a quick hit and an even quicker reward. Once compensated, they usually live up to their end of the bargain and release the data from their control – If they didn’t, nobody would ever pay the ransom – although that’s no guarantee they’ve abandoned their foothold in the target environment.

Ask any security expert why ransomware has become so popular and they’ll give you roughly the same answer: It’s not a complicated scam requiring different players handling specific tasks (as you might find in a credit card breach operation). It often results in quick cash – Trustwave researchers estimated the return on investment for ransomware attackers is a whopping 1,425 percent – and most of all, it works. The threat is often difficult to detect and even harder to remove once it has infiltrated a target, which, by the way, doesn’t just include PCs, but also mobile devices (where the threat is growing fast),Linux-based systems and even medical devices.

What steps can you take to rebuff a ransomware attack? Try these seven recommendation

1. Back up Your Data

This allows you to quickly recover from an incident. Be sure to regularly replicate file changes in your production environment, so your fallback point is an acceptable amount of time for your organization in case of an attack.

2. Disconnect from the Internet

At the first sign of a malware infection, detach the compromised machine from the network, cutting off the attacker’s control of it. However, take note that this will not stop the encryption process if it’s already been initiated by the ransomware.

3. Run Anti-Malware

It’s not enough to simply have anti-virus running on your desktops. You also need live anti-malware capabilities that can conduct real-time code analysis and dynamic URL categorization.

4. Spread Security Awareness

Ransomware scams tend to begin like most malware infections – with an end-user clicking or opening something malicious. Preach the importance of social engineering defense.

5. Deploy Advanced Email Security

To complement awareness with technology, you should adopt an email security gateway that incorporates threat intelligence to effectively thwart emails that contain malicious URLs.

6. Patch Your Software and Systems

Malware often requires an unpatched vulnerability to run, so ensure that your entire environment is updated with the latest security fixes. Vulnerability scans and security testing help businesses identify their network-connected assets and learn how those assets are vulnerable to attack.

7. Report the Event

If you’re a victim of a ransomware attack, you need to kick in incident response, which should include contacting the authorities and/or filing a complaint with IC3.

Published with consideration from Trustwave. SOURCE

Potential IT security issues in 2016 – As a small or medium-sized business owner or manager, it’s only to be expected that you want to keep your company safe from cyber attacks and hacking attempts. But how much do you really know about online safety? With massive corporations such as Sony falling victim to attack, cyber security has never been more in the public eye. And that makes it the ideal time to learn just what it is you need to be doing to keep your business secure in 2016.

If you think that only big corporations and prominent organizations are targeted by cyber criminals, you are making a deadly mistake. It might be tempting to sweep cyber crime under the carpet and assume that you are flying below the average hacker’s radar, but that simply isn’t true. In fact, it’s the polar opposite, since smaller enterprises are actually far more likely to be at risk than larger ones, owing to their typically less sturdy security postures.

So where does that leave you as a small or medium-sized business owner or manager? Does it mean you need to be taking your cyber security even more seriously? You can bet your bottom dollar it does, as industry experts predict that 2016 is only going to become more of a minefield when it comes to online crime.

The headline trend that IT security professionals pinpointed this year was that no longer were criminals hacking into websites purely to bolster their bank accounts. 2015 has seen the emergence of another strain of hackers, launching cyber attacks as part of a moral crusade. These people are not purely after money although in some cases this may also be a contributing factor – instead, their claimed motivation is revenge, or righting what they perceive as wrong. It is this diversification in the hacking community that has led security watchers to predict that, as we enter 2016, we are likely to see some different behavior from hackers.
Among the unpleasant predictions being made, a number of experts agree that hacks of a destructive nature will be on the rise. The fact that hackers are using attacks for retribution rather than simple monetary gain means that a wider cross-section of organizations may well find themselves being preyed upon, all the way from government agencies – traditionally ignored by hackers – to online retailers and other commercial websites.

Remember when Snapchat got hacked back in October 2014, and the hackers threatened to make public as many as 200,000 photos? Well, the bad news is that apps are going to continue to be targeted. In particular, those mobile apps that request access to your list of contacts, emails and messages can, in the wrong hands, be used to create the kind of portal that enables a cyber criminal to steal data or gain access to a company’s entire network. All this means that in 2016, hackers could be taking advantage of apps to do more than just steal your social media photos – they might have in mind the takedown of your entire company.

As a local business owner, social engineering – a means of tricking an individual into disclosing revealing or personal information about themselves or their company – is something you definitely need to be concerned about. You might pride yourself on being too savvy to fall for a cyber criminal’s tricks, but what about your employees? Can you be sure that each and every one of them exhibits the same amount of self control, cynicism, and wariness that you do? Not only that but, as we enter a new era of online threats, the criminals that use social engineering are growing in confidence and creativity. Dodgy emails from a bizarrely named sender containing a link to an unheard-of website are yesterday’s news. Modern social engineering is highly evolved and extremely cunning, and has the potential to convince even the most streetwise internet user.

How confident are you that your entire team of employees would be completely infallible in the face of a stealth attack from a seemingly innocent source? Could you trust them to restrain from divulging not only their personal details but also information pertaining to your company? Multiply the number of employees in your company by the number of phone apps they potentially use, and add to that the fact that any one of them could at any time be targeted by a social engineering scam, and the end result is a less-than-perfect security posture.

The sad fact is that there are people who want to do you harm – regardless of whether you hold confidential information about celebrity salaries, or are privy to a database full of cheating spouses. People, no matter how well meaning or vigilant, are the weakest link in any security chain, which means that ensuring your business’s safety necessitates educating your staff and ensuring that your network is impenetrable.

Professional training and a vulnerability assessment are two great places to start, so why not get in touch with us? We’ll make sure your business is as hack-proof as it can be.