SMB Cloud Security – A Promise Always Kept

smb cloud security is a promise that is always kept by Cloud9Why is SMB cloud security the single biggest hesitation for small
businesses considering the move over to cloud-based solutions?

Small business owners tend to look at SMB cloud security as inherently riskier because they “don’t control and manage security” concerning the servers holding their data. But if we actually review the stats, it becomes instantly obvious that most small businesses would be far more secure putting their data in the (right) cloud.

See also: The 10 Key Things To Look For in Cloud Service Providers

As SMB cloud security and service providers, it’s our full-time mission to manage physical and digital security protocol and infrastructure; rarely if ever does an SMB possess the knowledge, expertise and resources for advanced surveillance systems and cutting-edge encryption methods, third-party security certs and regular auditing and testing against attacks.

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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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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 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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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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Internet Explorer Security Update

Internet Explorer security alertYou may have recently been made aware of a potential Internet Explorer security threat affecting users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), versions 6-11. At the time of this publication, Microsoft has not released information about a patch that will remove this threat but they have confirmed that browsers currently running on Windows XP will not be included in the patch when it is released. This decision is in line with the recent 4/18/14 deadline that passed where Microsoft no longer supports their XP operating system.

All Cloud9 Real Time servers run on Windows Server 2008 R2 or newer, which are included in verbiage directly from the Microsoft Security Advisory notice that states:

“By default, Internet Explorer on Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2 runs in a restricted mode that is known as Enhanced Security Configuration. This mode mitigates this vulnerability”

With this information regarding our infrastructure operations  confirmed, we would like to focus on presenting best practices for individual users to minimize the risk of potential vulnerability.

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Webinar Thurs Dec 19th: Enjoy Total Peace-of-Mind
– Essentials of a Business Disaster Recovery Plan

Business data disasters come in many different forms:

Business Disaster Recovery Plan

Fires and floods and hurricanes oh my! Could your business survive a disaster? Join Cloud9 Real Time and learn how to put a business disaster recovery plan and cloud strategy in place and how it could save your business during a worst case scenario.

Free Webinar | Plan for the Worst
How to Avert Disaster with a Cloud Strategy

Thurs Dec 19, 2013 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST

Local server crashes, hard drive failures, disgruntled employees and of course the all too unfortunate natural disasters. When the storm hits – how prepared is your business or practice? And what about your clients or customers?

Every company should have a Business Disaster Recovery Plan.
– Here are the essentials to get you started:

1. Offsite backup of all business data. Tape backups are not reliable. Backups need to be regularly scheduled and automatic.

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QuickBooks Cloud Backup, Best Practices!

[Editor's note: Best practices advice from a real pro:  All Cloud customers using QuickBooks should avoid the risk of a problematic bloated TLG file by running an occasional manual backup and verification. Los Altos CPA and accounting technologist Victoria Cameron provides a good tutorial just added to Cloud9's support Knowledge Base.  Sure we spoil you with a fully managed custom solution, and everything is always backed up and disaster ready, but don't forget, the basics still apply!]*

One of the best parts of Cloud9’s hosted QuickBooks service is that your data is always backed up, painlessly, every night. So now you never need to use the backup routine in QuickBooks for making periodic backups – Right? Wrong!

Victoria Cameron QuickBooks Cloud Backup guest post at Cloud9 Real Time

QuickBooks Cloud Backup Done Correctly

Best practices in maintaining a healthy QuickBooks file on Cloud9 still dictates performing a manual QuickBooks Cloud Backup on a regular basis. Not using the actual QuickBooks Cloud Backup process can lead to trouble with your data file down the road. The reason for it are three little letters – TLG.

The .TLG file is one of several files that QuickBooks creates every time you open your company file in a new place. The main file has the extension .QBW. Then there is a .QBW.ND file which helps the QuickBooks Database Server manage access to the file.

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Is Your Office WiFi Security Vulnerable to Hacking? How?

office wifi password hackingA recent article in Ars Technica rekindled a healthy nerve with many professionals and business owners regarding general password and office WiFi security… 

Passwords are the keys that secure virtually everything nowadays. Use a weak password and the outcome could be disastrous.  And one of the areas where passwords are the weakest are the standard issue office and home WiFi networks now universally ubiquitous.

 office wifi security alertRelatedly, at our Cloud Summit last November, K2’s Randy Johnston stressed the increased importance of stronger passwords and passwording our smart phones and tablets as well.

Earlier this month Cloud9 execs attended the ABA Tech conference and one of the more provocative presentations was that of John Simek, VP at Sensei Enterprises, who demonstrated the relative ease of cracking most office WiFi security using a $99 device called the Pineapple Mark IV to identify local WiFi networks and their weaknesses.

 hacking wifi security with pinappleAs reported in ABA Journal, Simek noted that, using the device at home, he was able to track Internet activities of his neighbor who works for a security firm hired by the federal government.  The Pineapple (available from HakShop) is ostensibly being marketed for “penetration testing” on office WiFi security (no questions asked).

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Facing Cloud Computing Security Threats

Robert J. Chandler Cloud ComputingOnce we began talking about the cloud, there were 3 areas of principal concern: security, availability & reliability…

First appeared: CPA Practice Advisor / April 3, 2013

CPA Practice Advisor Cloud SecurityEver since we began talking about the cloud, there have been three areas of concern: security, availability and reliability. That’s why I’m not at all surprised that most accountants are still concerned about the security of their firm’s information and, of course, the security of their clients’ data.

A recent article in the Washington Post, “Pentagon to Boost Cybersecurity Force,” caught my attention. The intent is to expand the staffing of the Defense Department’s Cyber Command to protect U.S. computer systems against foreign threats:

“The plan calls for the creation of three types of forces under the Cyber Command: “national mission forces” to protect computer systems that undergird electrical grids, power plants and other infrastructure deemed critical to national and economic security; “combat mission forces” to help commanders abroad plan and execute attacks or other offensive operations; and “cyber protection forces” to fortify the Defense Department’s networks.”

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Cloud Services for Law Firms Gaining Popularity

Cloud Services for Law Firms and Law Firm Cloud Computing Servers from Cloud9 Real Time

Cloud Services for Law Firms is gaining traction among attorneys for several good reasons.

Advocates and early adapters of Cloud Services for Law Firms maintain that its chief  advantages include economy, simplicity and accessibility.

Get the white paper: Cloud9 Legal Cloud Report

See also: Interest in Paperless Law Firm Capabilities Picking Up

Cloud Services for Law Firms now include legal practice management solutions, document management and data storage, secure document and information platforms, hosted secure email exchanges, digital dictation services and billing/time tracking.  Cloud-based SME platforms are innovative, economical and increasingly viable for legal practices of all sizes.

Cloud Services for Law Firms Advantages

Law firm cloud computing advantages include reduced overhead due to decreased IT costs, increased ease of IT maintenance and support,

Taking advantage of law firm cloud computing allows attorneys to focus on providing legal services while the cloud provider updates, upgrades and maintains the practice management, accounting, time tracking, and other applications on both a regular and emergency basis.

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The 10 Key Things To Look For in Cloud Service Providers

cloud service providers must be checked out carefully

Good Cloud Service Providers : Ten Attributes 

Small business cloud computing is growing rapidly with increasing number of new players.  If you are just beginning to look for cloud service providers, here are the top considerations you should hold firmly in mind.

See also: Just How Secure Is Your Cloud?

1. Top Technical Expertise

Cloud service providers should not be approached like a commodity:  it is not as elementary as providing you with the lowest rate computer in a server farm.  Reliable cloud computing demands much technical expertise to initiate the right system that warranties sufficient security for your data and allows you to run your business without interruption.  Key consideration should be placed on the quality of the cloud service provider’s support team and their technical adroitness.

*Sources: CloudTweaks and Sleeter Goup

2. Trust

You will be migrating confidential enterprise data to a third-party server. You really must able to trust the cloud computing provider.  Query their representatives and determine if they are they team with whom you can trust your confidential corporate data. Ask for references and client testimonials. Research cloud service providers completely before trusting them with your resources. Also, look for their industry accreditations and awards.

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Cloud9 Hosting Raised the Security Bar:
– Goodbye SAS 70, Hello Cloud Computing SSAE 16

cloud-computing SSAE 16 certified

Goodbye SAS 70, Hello Cloud Computing SSAE 16: Cloud9 Real Time Application Hosting Raises the Security Bar

SAS 70 has been touted on a number of websites for businesses offering data center services.  It has been the equivalent of the “Good Housekeeping” stamp of approval since its inception as a cornerstone audit in 1992.  The SAS 70 type of audit, that’s been around since the early 1990s, has been retired and replaced with cloud computing SSAE 16 (Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements #16) certified

cloud ccomputing ssae16Cloud9 Real Time’s AIS Data Center recently announced its successful completion of the cloud computing SSAE 16 SOC 1 Type 2 and the SSAE 16 SOC 2 Type 2 audits for the company’s San Diego facility.  These third-party audits of the AIS data center services serve to further demonstrate the commitment made to provide a high level of standards for compliance and security.

Per the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (“AICPA”) Standards for Attestation Engagements (SSAE) No. 16, the SOC 1 report is geared towards reporting on the Internal Control over Financial Reporting and is designed to be a reporting standard for a business’s  financial reports, highlighting its financial accounting and reporting practice. The SOC 2 report covers the suitability of the design and operating effectiveness of controls to meet the criteria for the security and availability principles set forth by the Trust Services Principles.

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Where Is YOUR Data Stored?

Where You Store Your Data Does Matter, Have You Considered The Cloud?

Cloud Data Storage Cloud Computing

Image source: AIS

Data storage demand is expanding at an exponential  pace.  In a recent Aberdeen Study (“How Much Of Your Data Should Be In The Public Cloud?”), companies polled indicated that typical data storage needs were rising at a rate of over 30% per year. This is a trend that is forcing IT managers to review their current IT infrastructure and proactively obtain increasingly cost effective ways to store the increased data safely and with the same or better level of access that they enjoy today.

“The primary pressure of moving data to the public cloud is the need to get the data off-site and readily available for disaster recovery. The secondary pressure causing this shift is the increasing cost and complexity of most IT environments especially those firms with fast growing IT environments. Best in class companies have been actively shifting a portion of their storage pool to public storage cloud providers to leverage their robust data management and security processes. Data security concerns are not stopping firms from using public cloud storage because they are encrypting their data in transit and while it is stored on cloud disk drives,” writes Tim Caulfield, CEO at Cloud9’s AIS™ Data Center.

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A Brief History of Cloud Computing*

Cloud Computing Diagram

In 1900, Mercedes Benz forecasted that the total demand for cars worldwide would never exceed 500,000. Why? – because there were “not enough chauffeurs” available.

That same year a panel of British experts concluded that “The telephone may be appropriate for our American cousins, but not here, because we have a sufficient number of messenger boys.”

*Sources include: Wikipedia and Wired

So What is “Cloud Computing?” 

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a leased or otherwise metered service over the Internet.

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Office Server Security Still Under the Mattress?

Office Server Security Under-the-Mattress I get asked daily about office server security and the Cloud and I welcome these questions as it is not only important for users to understand but also opens the discussion about moving to the Cloud, meaning progress for the acceptance of our technologies.

Office Server Security: Truly Secure in the Cloud?  

Recently I was speaking at a seminar and during the lunch break a gentleman said to me, “I don’t know, I just feel so much better about office server security knowing I can go in the back room of my office and see my server.” This thought and sense of security is not only misguided but it also seemed almost antiquated in today’s modern society. I responded by asking him if he still keeps his money under his mattress and he said, “Of course not” and I think he understood from there where I was going with this. Continue reading

Time Out! When Load Speed Isn’t Everything

When Cloud Hosted Application & Load Speed Isn’t Everything

It’s funny the things that are “deal breakers” for firms looking to move to the Cloud. Recently, a colleague asked me about the approximate connect time with hosted solutions. “Is it 3 minutes, 2.5, under two minutes?” I believe this was her exact question. In fact, she had been testing multiple hosted solutions and recording and evaluating connectivity speeds. She was so focused on this one small factor that she was completely missing the true value that cloud-based applications offer.

Cloud Application Load TimeThe benefits of moving to web-based cloud solutions far out weigh the extra seconds it may take to connect—

Especially when you consider the overall time saved by operating in a virtual environment. The Cloud eliminates the need to manually backup client data, update and maintain software onsite, or coordinate data exchange with clients. Trust me…this adds up to hours of time savings! But wait! There’s more. Within my cloud system, I can collaborate with my clients in real time— accessing files and data simultaneously, while assured that I’m always working with the most current data. I no longer have to ask a client to close a file when I need to get into it, or log in after hours to avoid disrupting the client’s workflow.

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