Ransomware Attack! An Insidious New Malware Threat

ransomware attacks are on the rise
In recent months the new “ransomware attack” threat

has leapt onto mainstream news and for good reason

The volume of reported ransomware attacks planet-wide increased by over 800 per cent in the past 12 months ending July 2014 according to antivirus maker, Panda. Concern is such that in June of this year, the Australian Federal Police spoke to media urging local businesses to report any instances of a ransomware attack.

Also in June, the FBI made a high profile announcement of the successful “disruption” of a major, global ransomware attack ring. Unfortunately, it took less than two months for the criminal network to get back up and running in full swing.

The concept of a ransomware attack is dreadfully simple: Malware is surreptitiously installed on your PC and then takes control and locks you out, encrypting your most valuable data. A ransom note then appears on your computer – either via email or web page – demanding a ransom, or your data and applications will remain inaccessible.

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Webinar: Thurs 8/28 : Ditch That Old Office Server –
– Empower Your Business with Private Cloud Servers

cloud-servers 2
Cloud-hosted virtual private servers are challenging
the innate limits of 20th century localized computers

… while maintaining a familiar appearance and settings you’re comfortable with.

Register for Webinar Thurs 8/28 @ 11AM-12PM PDT
 - Empower Your Business with Private Cloud Servers!

Cloud Computing Virtual Private Server Solutions

Keeping your business efficient, secure, and ahead of the competition is getting more complex every day. Join Kacee Johnson as she examines Private Cloud Server options and implementation pitfalls.

Key Webinar Objectives:

  • The Pros & Cons of Outsourcing Your Server
  • User experience of accessing data and applications anytime, anywhere from any device
  • BYOD Rules & Risk Mitigation
  • How offering QuickBooks & Sage hosting services creates new revenue stream and reduces version control on licensing
  • Cloud offers built in disaster recovery plan? What about local?

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Cloud Migration or Pizza, the Devil’s Always in the Details

smart cloud migration is like pizza deliveryFour years ago SMBs really started becoming enamored with the breakthroughs that cloud migration promised. First mover SMBs had accepted the marketing message (and hype)—and began transferring over email, data, and entire office server functions to realize the obvious advantages.

Fast-forward 24 months and you could hear rumblings of a different sort, about some cloud providers—primarily because the service itself, its delivery, and what defines a comprehensive IT environment were misunderstood by both vendor and client alike. Cloud migration, as it turns out, does not always end well when combined with a remote vendor agreement.

Cloud Migration, Like Pizza Delivery?

For fun we’ve simplified the full gestalt of cloud migration, likening it to pizza.

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The New Cloud IT Ecosystem:
Hidden Complexity and Risk Assuaged by Due Diligence

Cloud IT risk has unique characteristics owing to the increased interconnectivityThe new cloud IT ecosystem has brought us heretofore unimagined capability and capacity for even the smallest of companies – newfound abilities to compete, build brand recognition and reach new market penetration. There are also new risks that must be circumnavigated …

The old mantra for businesses, “location, location, location”, has given way to connectivity– which now translates to new opportunity.  As technology rapidly evolves, businesses and consumers increasingly connect irrespective of place and time.cloud summit explains cloud IT risks of a paperless office

The New Cloud IT Ecosystem

Where businesses once easily identified their respective vendors and service providers, the identification of providers within the new service ‘delivery chain’ are no longer so easily recognized.   Among the benefits of the new cloud IT ecosystem is the ability to reach beyond historical boundaries.

Thus the risk for many businesses today lay in not fully understanding with whom, and in how,  the traditional technological borders are being dissolved.

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Cloud Based Storage: New Intuit Infographic Says It All

Cloud-Storage 2Where’s the safest place to store your crucial business files and data?
Not on your local hardware, which can fail, or in physical file cabinets.

Nowadays, to insure you’ll keep them secure forever, you move them to cloud based storage. Here’s a new infographic from Intuit® Tax Online that demonstrates why cloud based storage is safe, secure and accessible from anywhere at anytime

cloud summit explains cloud based storage optionsCloud based storage can
eliminate Russian Roulette

Many SMBs often play Russian roulette with their data and files, choosing the most basic storage and archiving procedures. Or even non-existent.

Cloud based storage services are actually far safer than those fearful suggest, if maintained properly. In truth, cloud storage services are helping many SMBs establish rock-solid business continuity plans for the very first time ever. In most cases, these solutions are far more cost-effective and secure than traditional on-site solutions.

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Cloud Computing Migration (part-2):
-When Is It Really Time To Make The Leap?

cloud computing migration is part of the general evolution of businessSMBs face critical IT challenges today. Not only must they deploy and operate their business software applications with agility, their IT infrastructures must scale to support growth while preserving quality of service – and always in a cost-effective fashion.

See also: Sleeter Group Cloud9 Migration – One Year later

cloud summit explains cloud computing migration

Cloud computing migration, a magic bullet?

Migration to cloud computing has been heralded as the new magic bullet to assuage these perennial challenges of business growth, yet there exists scores of explanations as to what is actually entailed.  Fundamentally, cloud computing migration is a step forward into a new business paradigm. It is the provision of on-demand software and infrastructure as service via the Web.

Your cloud migration can be to either public or private cloud provisions, or a hybrid combining both, each mode with distinctive advantages, while delivering increased efficiencies, markedly improved availability and superb agility in business performance.

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Cloud Risk? | IDC White Paper Assessment:
– Not Using Cloud Now Main Risk to Business Productivity

cloud-risk 2According to a new report (below) from a prominent market intelligence think
tank, Not using Cloud is now the greatest cloud risk to business productivity

Cloud risk stems primarily from not using cloud now“Cloud risk hype continues to mount,” reports David Bradshaw, a market researcher at International Data Corporation  (IDC), “But underneath the hype, enterprise IT really is evolving. There are essentially two categories of cloud services — public cloud services are available to anyone with the means to pay, while private cloud services are dedicated to a single customer or smaller and larger groups, niches or verticals of customers.”

As part of its research, triggered by one of UK’s leading IT providers  Computacenter, IDC discovered that 90% of corporate data center capacity is unused; 23% of organizations have multiple Cloud services in full-scale use; and 80% of employees use consumer Cloud services to fill a corporate IT gap. 

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Happy SysAdmin Day to our Great Cloud9 Tech Team!

sysadmin day is big at cloud9It’s the 25th of July, which means it’s Systems Administrators Appreciation Day once more. SysAdmin Day is a special day each year where SysAdmins around the planet say to each other “Wow, we can hardly believe that we all made IT yet another year”, and everyone else forgets that this has been a thing for 14 years.

sysadmin day at cloud9, cheers mates!In spite of the inevitable apathy of SysAdmins’ coworkers and employers, IT vendors large and small have embraced this internet holiday soiree with glee.

The modern tradition of SysAdmins Day was created by Ted Kekatos and first celebrated on 28 July, 2000. It is celebrated on the last Friday in July and is supposed to include demonstrations of appreciation for the systems administrators who are critical to keeping the digital infrastructure supporting our entire society up and running.

Happy Day, TJ, Gerald, Brent, Dakota, Kent and all our great Cloud9 tech admin and support team, this one’s for YOU!  (Our attempts to get Hallmark Cards to recognize SysAdmin Day as a Hallmark Holiday have yet to be realized)

Cloud Computing Anxiety:
Overcoming Your Fears of a New Paradigm

Cloud Computing Anxiety is prevalent today

Pavlov and Cloud Computing Anxiety: How Might We
Ever Reconcile Our New Paradigm Fears & Phobias?

It is intriguing to ponder why some wrestle with cloud computing anxiety and the new paradigm of cloud-based data management. It often seems more secure to have our most important files and software applications in close physical proximity to our station where we can be comfortable that the server where it all resides is nearby. Similar to ‘Pavlov’s dogs’ we are pre-conditioned towards the familiar as the safer option.  For instance when we believe we must own the applications and the location where they reside “because its safer and more convenient that way.”

See also – Server Still Under The Mattress?

cloud summit explains paperless office steps“After all we own our home, our vehicles, and our money. And yet even that is not the truth in its entirety,” writes Don Cleveland at the industry newsletter CloudTweaks.  “For most of us, however, the mortgage holder can be considered at least a part owner who requires us to have insurance and make payments.  And if all of us decided to visit our money at the bank on the same day we would be disappointed yet we rest assured that the government has guaranteed it, and the banks are taking care of it.”

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Small Business Data Loss Protection –
Infographic Shows Data Breach Can End Your Business

Infographic: Lack of small business data loss protection can be catostrophic
Cloud security and small business data loss cost are subjects that
we have covered frequently at the Cloud9 SMB blog over the years

a small business data loss reality check is in storeWhile it might appear like your small business has far more data than you’ll ever know what to do with, your small business data loss could be expensive and even catastrophic. According to a new poll and infographic from digital copy tech giant Stratix Systems, small business tech pros estimate that lacking adequate small business data loss protection could cost their businesses an average of $450,000.

“This underscores the point that a company’s data is crucial to the business. And secondly, many or most businesses, but not all, understand that their data is vital, in spite of the fact that they often are not backing it up daily,” says Robert J. Chandler, Cloud9 Real Time President and Founder.

cloud summit explains small business data loss protectionIn fact, when it comes to small business data loss protection, most IT professionals are not being excessively vigilant. Less than 30% of IT pros polled indicated that they had completed a full backup that day, and shockingly nearly 20% said that their most recent backup was in in the prior month.

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Survey: The Managed Cloud Providers Solution –
Oddly, In-House Server Pros Know Little About ‘IT’

According to a new poll from Spiceworks, a lion share
of IT professionals overlook managed cloud providers 

smb managed cloud providers are little known by in-house IT pros

Click for poll results

The new survey indicates that the majority of in-house IT professionals still know little about this newer approach to managed hosted services like data storage. The survey indicated that nearly 80% of IT pros administer their infrastructure with an on-premise solution – this includes private cloud solutions and data centers. Of that, nearly 60% indicated that they were only “somewhat familiar” with managed cloud providers.

Presently, there are a myriad of ways to establish an optimal IT environ. In reality, what is optimal for one business may not be so for another. So while some businesses elect to remain loyal to in-house servers and IT infrastructure, others leap into cloud computing.  Both broad solution paths are increasingly complex and deploying each is not without its challenges. Interestingly, many of the hurdles mentioned by those with an in-house solution could be resolved by partnering with the right managed cloud services provider.

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Small Business Cloud Migration (part 1):
– You Should Really Look Before You Leap

small business cloud migration key considerationsEmerging cloud based technologies and services uniquely designed to
help small businesses prosper are appearing at an unprecedented rate

cloud summit explains small business cloud migrationLast year the Wall Street Journal reported that there were 30 million (approx) small businesses in North America. Clearly, SMBs are the foundation of our economy, and we’ve seen emerging cloud based technologies and services uniquely designed to help them prosper at an unprecedented rate and accelerating.

In 2013, Louis Columbus authored a piece in Forbes exploring forecasts and predictions for SMB cloud computing. According to Columbus, small business cloud adoption will hit 35% by 2015.

> See also: Sleeter Group’s Migration to Cloud … Cloud9 That Is

Small business cloud migration advantages

Small business cloud migration ushers a host of advantages: lowered costs, more exhaustive support of IT resources and organizational agility to name a few. But even if you are already “cloud sold,” how does a small business owner determine which cloud provider to trust with your critical small business cloud migration?

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Webinar Wed July 30th:
Anytime/Anywhere QuickBooks Desktop in the Cloud

Accounting Hosting Cloud Webinar the future of QuickBooks QuickBooks 2014 desktop versions and 500+ other business applications
via customized, managed cloud hosting is a real game changer. What else is in store?
Join the Cloud9 Webinar and get up to speed fast!

Register for Webinar -
QuickBooks Desktop in the Cloud
Wed July 30th, 2014 @ 11AM-12PM Pacific Time

Intuit has many options for small to medium sized business owners in terms of accounting software choices including different flavors and versions of QuickBooks Desktop such as QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Premier Accountants Edition, POS and Enterprise 2014 are now all available in the United States to host AND Lease! Save time and money while gaining the benefits of working in the Cloud. Find out on this free webinar, the new features of QuickBooks 2014 and how you can Lease all the versions of QuickBooks desktop editions, have anytime, anywhere access while turning all the IT responsibilities like backups, updates, server maintenance etc to Cloud9.

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Cloud Hosted CRM Systems
Infographic: How and Why this is a Game Changer

cloud hosted CRM can revolutionize your businessSimply put, cloud hosted CRM is becoming a game-changer -
– it’s easy to see why, as the infographic below demonstrates

Many companies rightly identify their customer relationship management (CRM) system as an essential business tool. And in 2014, mobile friendly cloud hosted CRM systems are projected to increase in use over five-fold. 

cloud hosted CRM customer lifecycle trackingAnd because certain cloud service providers can set up and maintain the CRM system, firms are able to concentrate on what matters most—the content and services that the CRM system provides. From lowered operational costs to the capability to track the entire customer lifecycle, the benefits of cloud hosted CRM are plentiful.

What can cloud hosted CRM do for your SMB?

Optimally deployed, the right cloud hosted CRM systems help businesses keep track of their customers and provide more efficient ways to market and sell to them.

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Cloud-Based Tax Practice Guide –
– Leveraging Digital Tax Document Automation

cloud-based tax practice document automation is DA bomb!Cloud-based tax preparation document automation solutions allow
practices to move into entirely cloud-based tax practice modalities

digital tax prep guideTax preparation has evolved considerably from the old era of service bureaus, couriers and paper forms. Computer-based tax applications permitted tax returns to be prepared entirely in-house. And now, thanks to advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR), source documents like W-2s, K1s and brokerage statements can be scanned and automatically bookmarked and organized.  From that the critical tax data can be directly exported to tax software without redundant manual entry.

- See also: White Paper: Digital Tax Practice Cloud

If your goal is improved efficiency, the time and work you save not needing to organize your files and data into tax software is crucial, but it isn’t the most critical part of a modern cloud-based tax practice.

Cloud-Based Tax Practice Files and Workflow

With most cloud-based tax practice document automation systems the process begins like this: First you scan the paper docs from your tax client and then you process the scanned files through OCR.  The end result is an organized PDF file that can be opened in a PDF editor like Adobe Acrobat or Nitro PDF.  

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AICPA Files Suit Against The IRS –
Association Seeks to Halt Arbritrary Tax Preparer Rules

aicpa lawsuit aginst IRS announcedAmerica’s biggest trade group of CPAs & accounting professionals
has drawn a line into the sand against the Internal Revenue Service

Barry Melancon AICPA PresidentThe IRS’s new rule regulating tax return preparers is an unlawful exercise of government power,” Barry Melancon, president of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), said in a statement.At a minimum, the IRS must conduct a legitimate notice-and-comment rulemaking before proceeding.”

Yesterday, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) sued the Internal Revenue Service in federal court, stating that the Agency’s recent launch of a new so-called “voluntary” tax preparer regulation scheme is not lawful. The AICPA has been quite adamant on this position over the past several months , saying that it constitutes “de facto mandatory.”

The AICPA has been a steadfast supporter of the IRS’s overall goals of enhancing compliance by tax return preparers and elevating ethical conduct,” said Melancon..  But Melancon also posits that this issue crosses the line.

By implementing a purportedly ‘voluntary’ program that is mandatory in effect, the rule is an end-run around Loving v. IRS, a federal court ruling which struck down the IRS’s earlier attempt to regulate tax return preparers,” Melancon continued. “The IRS simply does not have the authority to proceed with the new rule. By doubling the number of categories of tax return preparers to eight, the rule will also confuse consumers. Worse yet, the new rule will do nothing to address the problem of unethical or fraudulent tax return preparers – which should be a top priority.

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How Business Application Hosting Minimizes Headaches

Business application hosting alleviates software and IT headaches!

In recent years, cloud-hosted virtual server solutions and services have accelerated in popularity, for good reason, and many or most SMBs and financial firms are at least investigating this new paradigm for financial, business and IT management.

cloud summit explains business application hostingBusiness application hosting provides that your company’s business software applications and data are kept online in high-security data-centers rather than installed locally on your laptop or office server computer. Cloud-based application hosting from Cloud9 Real Time provides a range of advantages that your business can realize near instantly.

Reduced Business Application Maintenance

Application maintenance responsibilities, including security patches, the testing and deployment of which are handled by Cloud9 Real Time, is a fundamental business application hosting advantage.

Cloud9 virtual server and business software hosting solutions enable you to leverage, integrate, customize and deploy business applications as your business requires, and are fully supported by industry-recognized security and disaster recovery standards; delivering great flexibility, amelioration of risk, capital savings and rapid access to your office data and software.

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