Office 365: Is your data as protected as you think?

THERE’S NO DENYING THAT OFFICE 365 has certainly revolutionised the way users are able to work. The ability to work anytime, from anywhere has given employees control over their working day. Applications such as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive are all accessible in one place. As the platform can be billed monthly per user, O365 is also a bonus for companies who have fluctuations in their user counts on a regular basis.

All sounds pretty good, right? However, were you aware that the data held is not actually backed up by Microsoft? In the event of data loss or a breach, you can’t rely on the O365 platform to restore. If you weren’t aware of this, you should now be asking yourself:

What can I do to ensure the security and safety of my data?

 

Office 365 offers geo-redundancy which can often be mistaken for a full backup. This only protects against the Microsoft site and hardware failure so users can continue working in either of these scenarios. You won’t be able to restore data that is lost, deleted or maliciously attacked.

Retention policies are limited, and when deleting a user you also delete their data held on their personal SharePoint and OneDrive so you won’t be able to refer back for very long. ExchangeOnline has limited recovery functions and cannot handle serious attacks.

It is YOUR data, YOU control it and YOU need to have the correct backups in place to protect it and your business.

Veeam® Backup for Microsoft Office 365 eliminates the risk of losing data and gives you control over your backup policy. 

Benefits include:

  • Protecting your data from deletion and security threats
  • Access backup archives
  • Store data according to long-term retention policies that quite your compliance or regulatory needs
  • Multi-repository/multi-tenant architecture
  • Quick search and restore of individual files
  • Backup hybrid email and SharePoint deployments

You have a lot of flexibility and control over the backup policy, it can be set to weekly, daily or even as often as every five minutes! Copies can also be stored in a location of your choice; on-premise, public Cloud or a local data centre provider.

The product is licensed per user, so only pay for the amount of employees you actually have using the platform on a monthly basis.

 

If you would like more information or a quotation, please contact us today. 

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Maximising Data Availability

DATA AVAILABILITY has become paramount to the success of an organisation. Reliability as well as performance and manageability are critical to ensuring as much data up-time as possible.

The first step in maximising your data availability is to have a good backup in place that takes into account your whole infrastructure, Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Think you’re protected with just one backup however?

Legacy approaches to data backup and recovery are simply outdated and ineffective. Gone are the days where a single on-premise backup would tick any compliance boxes. To ensure the security and availability of data, backing up to an offsite location as well as the first on-premise should be considered. This can be achieved through a replication job. This has two major benefits:

a) Helps work towards a disaster recovery scenario. Should the initial site be affected by a hardware failure, or complete site failure, the backup offsite will not be affected and could be restored to another location ensuring business continuity.

b) Should data be compromised (accidentally or maliciously, the offsite backup copy would ensure some security and not be affected. A restore could occur, giving peace of mind that a second unaffected copy is available to fall back on.

 

Veeam® Backup & Replication™

Veeam® Backup & Replication™ is straight forward, cost effective and increases service recovery SLA’s with Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) in seconds and minutes rather than outdated hours/days. High speed recovery allows instant file recovery and can fully recover a failed virtual machine in under 15 minutes, minimising the amount of working time lost.

Advanced replication can be used, with replication able to be set to occur as little as every 15 minutes. Essential if you cannot afford for your business to lose even an hour of work. Secure end-to-end encryption achieves security and confidentiality. Pretty straight forward!

 

Recover faster than ever, improve data protection and save money with the Veeam Backup and Replication product. To discuss your requirements or find out more information, please contact us today

Best Data Security Practices

PREVENTION IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN A CURE. Not only does this apply to hygiene to prevent illness, but also to data security. Preventing any breach, accidental data loss or cyber attack will always trump over attempting to mop up the pieces afterwards.

Take a look at our quick take on what you can do to bring your security up to scratch..

 

1.Securing Data

Protecting data is more critical than ever. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Study, data breaches cost UK businesses an average of £2.48 million. This number doesn’t just include fines that could have been imposed, but also includes legal expenses, reputation damage, loss of customers and job losses.

Having a backup policy in place is one of the most important considerations that should be made. Should data be accidentally deleted, or maliciously encrypted, you have the full data backup to prevent loss. An additional security layer would involve having this data replicated to a separate offsite location which can be used in a disaster recovery scenario.

Ensure your infrastructure security is as robust as possible by installing and maintaining firewalls, anti-virus software and breach/event monitoring. Physical controls such as access procedures should also be considered, with ID needed for authentication and fob access.

Make use of network monitoring software, so network administrators are alerted to new network connections, crashed or overloaded servers so the continuity of data can be ensured.

 

2. Securing Mobile Devices 

79% of respondents to a RingCentral survey stated their Smartphone as the phone that they used most to conduct business with. Add this to the rise in remote working (an estimate in 2016 placed the number at 1.5 million home-workers) and it makes it all the more difficult to secure all remote devices as well as the systems and data they access. Of course the advantages outweigh the negatives, and it is possible to manage the risks:

  • Locking up devices when not in use and keeping them in sight when in a public place to deter thieves.
  • Have a robust password policy in place to prevent unwanted access in the event of a theft, including the banning of auto-saving passwords. If possible, fingerprint verification should also be used.
  • Invest in two-step authentication to further strengthen credentials.
  • Advise against the use of public WiFi if at all possible. It’s pretty easy for hackers to compromise these unsecured networks, so ensure mobile devices are configured to connect via VPN. It’s also best practice to only allow employees to use public WiFi when accessing non-critical business work, or ban it altogether.
  • Implement a mobile device management platform, so patch and firmware updates can still be installed and monitoring still occur.
  • Encrypt data on smartphones and laptops, so if they are lost or stolen access to the data on the device will be scrambled.

Implementing and communicating a robust mobile device and remote working policy to all employees gives them guidelines to follow and also covers any HR implications.

 

3. Winning Against Malware 

Malware is the most common form of cyber crime impacting UK businesses, making up 18% of all cyber attacks. Always be sure to protect against any vulnerabilities.

Maintaining a patch management program across all network devices, browsers and software plasters over security vulnerabilities that have been discovered so they cannot be exploited. A good patch management program will also include remote devices and mobile phones.

Don’t fall victim to phishing. Emails may look like they are from banks, a member of management or CEO’s but always check the senders address to be sure. More details of how to protect against phishing can be found here.

USB’s are an easy way to introduce viruses onto IT networks. Restrict USB use, or if these are important for employees to use in their line of work have them checked by your IT team before use to ensure they are not infected.

Of course, using firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software will provide a multi-layered approach to help keep you protected from all the nasty fallout a malware attack can bring.

 

4. Password Security & Encryption

Having a good password policy in place is the start of ensuring access is only granted to the correct employees. However, you cannot rely purely on credentials alone.

Two-factor authentication requires users to have an extra token or code to add to the end of their usual credentials. There are many different products available that cover various software and applications such as OWA.

Regularly changing all passwords (every 60 – 90 days for AD accounts, consider every 30 for critical systems or those containing personal data) is so simple to build into a password policy, but can often be overlooked!

Encryption can be used when data is in transit on removable media such as external hard drives, but also for emails. Encryption scrambles the data so only the recipient can see it, so if devices are stolen data cannot be accessed.

 

5. Employee Awareness 

Employees are a businesses best assets, and are also the key that make or break infrastructure security. All employees should be aware of the risks their actions can have and what they can do during working practices to prevent security compromises.

All policies and procedures should be documented and regularly provided to all employees, especially to remote workers who may not be in the office much. It’s also a good idea to have these documents in a central location such as SharePoint so everyone can access the latest copies.

A structured training plan for all new starters and refresher courses for existing employees must occur to ensure all employees understand phishing attacks, scams and best practices when determining if an email is legitimate.

Is it especially important that IT staff are given time and training to keep up to date with the latest security threats and hacker strategies so they can in turn implement controls to deter such risks.

 

Netshield can provide an overview of your security including penetration testing, vulnerability assessments and provide recommendations based on backups, software and best IT practices. Contact us today for more information. 

Which hosting service is the best fit?

Take a look at hosting providers and the services they offer, and it can feel like a minefield of choices! Here’s our breakdown of the most popular options, cloud and dedicated to hopefully lend a helping hand!

 

Cloud

‘Cloud Hosting’ involves your environment being held on a shared virtual network. This option is very cost effective as you only pay for what you use.

Despite the sharing of hardware, the performance, security and control is still exactly the same as on-premise. Perhaps the biggest benefit of cloud hosting is the ability to scale up and down the resources you need within seconds. This is especially important for companies that regularly change their user numbers or have plans to expand and makes the whole process a lot quicker.

Not only can the costs of outright hardware purchase be saved, the rolling costs of additional office space for cabs, power, cooling and provision of internet connectivity can also be lowered. Often these costs are not factored in when making the choice between on-premise or hosted but can take up quite a chunk of outgoings!

Dependant on the service agreement, the hosting provider could also handle backups, patching, upgrades and general maintenance, removing the pressure from any in-house IT staff allowing more important tasks be dealt with.

 

Dedicated

This option involves the rental or purchase of hardware on which is yours, so no other business will ‘share’ the environment with you. Dedicated hosting is more suited to companies who have a steady capacity demand that is unlikely to change over time, or those with exceptionally high level of security needs.

Unless support is provided as an ‘add on’ service, a downside is still needing an in house IT team to handle patches, upgrades and general support issues. Lead times for any additional resource is also considerably longer than cloud hosting, as extra hardware may need to be ordered.

For high availability and DR environments, the costs can also be very high with double the hardware, software and man hours needed to arrange the setup, maintenance and support.

Support may not be included as part of the service agreement for dedicated environments; not an issue should you still have an in-house IT team, but another cost to think about should you be relying on the data centre provider for this!

 

The Choice is Yours..

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for hosted options, as every business has different needs. Netshield can help you, and also provide exactly what you require. For more information about our cloud and dedicated hosting options, contact us today. 

Vulnerability Assessments vs Penetration Testing

Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing are important tools to secure and protect your IT infrastructure. Often, they get confused with each other but both play very different roles in overall network security.

So, what’s the difference and which should your business be using?

 

Vulnerability Assessments

Vulnerability assessments are automated reports that search for known vulnerabilities within software, such as missing patches and outdated configuration, protocols, certificates and services. The output of this report would show any known vulnerability that exist within the network. Reports can be lengthy as the assessments take quite a comprehensive look at the network and applications.

The assessments can be ran on any number of devices throughout a network and is wide in scope. The results can then be used to remove potential risks before they could be exploited.

It is recommended to perform scans quarterly and every new device once configured, or if a major configuration change has taken place.

 

Penetration Tests

In comparison, penetration testing actively exploits weaknesses within the environment. An experienced person would carry out the testing, acting as an attacker by exploiting weaknesses within the network or applications otherwise known as ‘ethical hacking’. As a tester is needed, this testing cannot be automated.

The main aim of penetration testing is to identify insecure and weak security settings and configuration that a business outsider would be able to use to access the data held behind the defences such as un-encrypted passwords. The tester would probe an open port and see how far it can be exploited. Large networks can take anywhere from days to weeks to complete a full test. It is therefore best practice to have the testing performed by a fully qualified 3rd party; this also ensures a fully unbiased, objective report being developed.

Penetration testing doesn’t need to be performed as regularly as vulnerability assessments, instead only once a year or if internet facing equipment has a large change made.

 

What Should My Business Use?

In summary, a vulnerability assessment is used to detect when an unlocked door could let a burglar enter your business. A penetration test would role play as the burglar and see how far he’s able to get before a locked door stops him in his tracks.

Both tools should be used in conjunction and work together to provide the best outcome. Vulnerability assessments are designed to act as a detective tool; penetration testing is built to be a preventative measure.

Penetration testing is a lot more costly compared to vulnerability by itself, but this is due to the in-depth nature of the scanning as the tester may discover a new vulnerability or a security flaw that is not very well known.

 

IT’s important to know the difference between each test as each are important in their own way. To find out if Netshield can be of assistance, please contact us here