How to detect suspicious activity right away – Advanced Threat Analytics

Today, the topic of cyber-security has moved from IT and the datacenter to the highest levels of the boardroom. Attacks and threats have grown substantially more sophisticated in frequency and severity. Attackers reside within a network an average of 8 months before they are even detected. In the vast majority of attacks, they compromise user credentials and they are increasingly using legitimate IT tools rather than malware. This post has a look at this and how Advanced Threat Analytics can help.

Employees today use several devices across a variety of locations to access constantly changing set of resources. This complex activity creates a blindspot in user behaviour, opening up your network for malicious attackers. This clip tells you more about this and how to better identify advanced threats.

Get peace of mind all day with advanced threat protection

  • Detect threats fast with behavioural analytics

No need to create rules, fine-tune, or monitor a flood of security reports with self-learning and advanced, ready-to-analyse intelligence.

  • Adapt as fast as your attackers

Rely on continually updated learning that adapts to the changing nature of your users and business.

  • Focus on only important events

Review the attack timeline for a clear and convenient view of suspicious activity or persistent threats.

  • Reduce false positive fatigue

Receive alerts only after suspicious activities are contextually aggregated and verified.

  • Prioritise and plan for next steps

Get recommendations for investigation and remediation of each suspicious activity.

For more information on Advanced Threat Analytics, click here.

All about Microsoft Azure – An introduction

What is Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services that developers and IT professionals use to build, deploy, and manage applications through a global network of datacenters. With Azure, you get the freedom to build and deploy wherever you want, using the tools, applications, and frameworks of your choice.

It’s a cloud computing service which enables the building, deploying, and managing of services through a network of data centres managed by Microsoft. It provides a platform for service, as well as the infrastructure for it, in addition to providing the software. Azure supports various tools, programming languages and systems, whether these are Microsoft-based or third-party systems or software.

Why should your business use it?

With a host of services offered, Microsoft Azure has certainly embraced the cloud environment and has thus ensured the relevancy of Microsoft in the digital age. Azure makes it possible to launch virtual Windows or Linux machines, develop sites using, for instance, Node.js or PHP because of the hosting service offered. These sites can be uploaded through special user-friendly portals, or can be deployed using, for instance, Git or FTP. It is also possible to deploy WebJobs to a Web App, enabling background processing functionality.

Microsoft Azure has made it possible to use a specialised app for the development and distribution of mobile apps, while user behaviour analytics can be collected in real time with the Mobile Engagement technology. Equally impressive is the range of storage services and applications. Table Service makes it possible to store structured text in specific portioned collections, Queue Service enables asynchronous communication by message through a queue system, and Storage Services enable storage and accessing and retrieving of data in the virtual world. With Azure Search, it is possible to do text searches and StorSimple enables management of storage tasks between cloud storage and on-site devices. The SQL DataWarehouse service can handle data-intensive queries.

Analytics, content protection, streaming, and encoding are possible with the PaaS service. With Azure Automation, it is possible to automate the manual repetitive tasks normally performed in enterprise and cloud environments. This is an especially useful feature, as it saves time and increases accuracy of repetitive administrative work. Microsoft Azure is the answer for businesses that have to do their computing in the cloud environment.

In real life?

Here’s a case study from a London-based company that uses Azure to deliver real-time data science.

Will it break my budget?

With Microsoft Azure’s pay-as-you-go pricing model, it is possible for the company to effectively manage its cloud and IT costs. The company only pays for what it needs. In addition, the ability to save on infrastructure costs related to hardware and IT management and support makes Azure an even more attractive solution for modern businesses. Contact us for pricing.

Where do I start?

Give us a call for help in selecting a cloud solution that will meet your company’s requirements.

 

5 reasons why you should consider Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 for your business

Do you find yourself considering how data can be personalized to reflect why people do things, as opposed to simply what they do? Can you imagine a live 360º view of your business, for example, a real-time work map of team engagement and surface trending topics and interaction around these topics? We can. Here’s our top 5 reasons why you should consider Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 for your business.

Communications

Your communications are made easier by some of the following features:

  • Skype Meeting Broadcast allows up to 10000 people to view your online meetings on virtually any device.
  • Dial-in conferencing on almost any device for users “on the go”
  • Cloud PBX allows you to search, assign and manage all your company’s phone numbers in the cloud

Analytics

Gather meaningful insights.

  • Delve analytics is a personal dashboard that shows how you use your time and also allows you to set goals to improve. Rich interactive dashboards highlighting key trends such as reach, influence and work-life balance across an individual and team’s engagement with internal and external teams.
  • Power BI Pro gives you a live look at your company’s numbers. It’s a cloud-based business analytics service that gives you a single view of your most critical business data. Power BI enables non-technical users to visualize and analyse data with greater speed, efficiency and understanding with live dashboards and interactive reports

Security

Enterprise E5 has several security features, including Advanced Threat Protection, which protects users against unknown and sophisticated threats hidden in emails, attachments, and URLs.

Value

There is so much more that E5 offers over and above what we’ve listed here, with an incredibly affordable price tag.

It’s Microsoft Office

It’s the apps and services that your employees want and are comfortable with.

Power your business. Chat to us for more info and pricing.

New Windows 10 features enhance security and productivity at Microsoft

In this post we talk about Microsoft IT enabled Azure Active Directory Join and other Windows 10 features that enhance security and productivity, including Windows Hello for Business, Credential Guard, and Enterprise State Roaming.

Enhanced security

The Windows 10 November update offers two new features for improving security. A combination of cryptographic keys that are uniquely tied to a user and device, and facial or fingerprint recognition, provide a more convenient way to sign in with strong authentication.

Windows Hello for Business

The Windows Hello for Business (formerly known as Microsoft Passport for Work) feature for Windows 10 helps Microsoft employees and other corporate network users to securely sign in to their PCs. Windows Hello for Business simplifies signing in to on-premises and cloud resources without using a password. Using Windows Hello, Microsoft network users can sign in to their Windows 10 devices with just a look or a touch if the device is equipped with compatible hardware.

Windows Hello for Business creates a certificate-based credential on a device, which is unlocked by a PIN or biometric (fingerprint or facial recognition). This is more secure than a password, because the PIN is tied to the device, and only the user knows the PIN. With Windows Hello for Business, Microsoft has a convenient and secure authentication method. Other benefits include:

  • Easy certificate renewal. Microsoft corporate network users receive a prompt to verify their PIN when their certificate needs renewal. The certificate is renewed in the background rather than the cumbersome certificate renewal process that existed before.
  • Single sign-on. Windows Hello for Business reduces the number of requests for credentials and gives users a single sign-on experience. Microsoft users saw a significant decrease in the number of times they had to sign in during their daily work.
  • Simplified remote access. When Microsoft network users use their PIN, they can connect remotely using the Microsoft IT VPN client without the need for a smart card.
  • Biometric sign in. With compatible biometric hardware, Microsoft corporate network users can set up Windows Hello and sign in with only a swipe of their finger or a quick look at the device’s camera. This enterprise-grade security meets the requirements of Microsoft IT.

Before Microsoft IT deployed Windows Hello for Business, users who accessed the corporate network remotely had a user name and password to sign in. Every time they needed access to resources such as Microsoft SharePoint or Visual Studio, users had to provide a smart card or username and password again.

Credential Guard

Credential threat attacks are one of the biggest security threats to an organization. In 2014, a number of major companies were victims of an attacker gaining unauthorized access to user credentials. According to the Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, participating partners confirmed over 2,000 data breaches worldwide. This report estimated the average loss to an organization, for a breach of 1,000 records, was between $52,000 and $87,000.

Credential Guard increases the security of derived domain credentials by using platform security features, including Secure Boot and virtualization. Securing derived domain credentials with virtualization-based security blocks the credential theft attack techniques and tools used in many targeted attacks. Credential Guard uses Virtual Secure Mode to store hashes and tokens in a way that makes unauthorized access difficult. At Microsoft, we added Credential Guard to take advantage of this additional security protection and deployed it using a phased approach. After testing it in the hardware lab to ensure compatibility, the feature was enabled globally using group policy. There were no related help desk calls, validating a seamless adoption.

We enjoy the simple manageability of Credential Guard using group policy, but you can also use Windows PowerShell or Windows Management Instrumentation. Credential Guard has a very transparent installation and deployment is simple: go to Group Policy, enable Credential Guard, and push to the domains. Credential Guard is enabled the next time a corporate network user restarts their machine. Microsoft continues to monitor the state of Credential Guard with System Center Configuration Manager, visualized in the Power BI dashboard and are on track for 100 percent adoption for all compatible machines.

Improved productivity

In addition to protecting the enterprise, Windows 10 helps Microsoft network users work the way that they want to work. Now you can achieve greater productivity in your organization. When you prepared for Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 11, you already did most of the heavy lifting for your migration to Windows 10 and these great features.

Azure Active Directory Join

Microsoft has enabled Azure Active Directory (AD) Join for Windows 10 because it brings significant flexibility to users and offers benefits such as single sign-on.

Corporate network users are able to automatically join Azure AD during the initial startup. Azure AD Join will register their device in our directory and enroll it in the Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution and Microsoft Intune, which is part of the Enterprise Mobility Suite. In addition to PCs and Windows devices, any mobile device can be joined, allowing users to work on the device of their choice. With the combination of Azure AD Join and Microsoft Intune, there is more control over corporate data on the device, and user data is no longer controlled by them. This has reduced resistance by users and encouraged wider adoption.

As an example of the benefits of Windows 10 integration with Azure AD Join, Microsoft rolled out virtual private network (VPN) settings. For non-domain-joined PCs to access corporate resources, the process is greatly simplified. With Windows 10 and Azure AD Join, the PC is enrolled automatically with Microsoft Intune in a matter of seconds and the user is presented with a number of configurations, including VPN settings. Previously, users had to install a VPN client from IT Manager, and then use a smart card or other device to do strong authentication and connect to VPN. Now, with Azure AD Join, users automatically get a VPN connection along with Windows Hello for Business and security settings.

Data geolocation and privacy concerns are addressed through points of presence in data centers around the world using MDM and Microsoft Intune. An added benefit of enabling Azure AD Join is the ability to use Enterprise State Roaming.

Enterprise State Roaming

With the Windows 10 November update on Azure AD Premium, Microsoft wanted to take advantage of the Enterprise State Roaming (ESR) feature, which synchronises users’ corporate Windows and application data settings to Microsoft Azure. With this feature, their settings roam across all Windows devices, reducing the time needed for configuring a new device. And it provides a separation between personal and corporate user settings, protecting user privacy. In addition, Azure Rights Management Services (RMS) encrypts settings on the Windows 10 device and stays encrypted in the cloud providing added security.

Incompatible desktop software and outdated infrastructure disrupt Office 365 migrations

Incompatible desktop software and outdated infrastructure are among the most common disruptions to successful, on time Office 365 migrations.

  • An estimated 31% of user desktops are running operating system versions not supported by Office 365
  • An estimated 20% of user desktops are running Office software versions not compatible with Office Pro Plus
  • An estimated 43% of user desktops are running browser versions not supported for Office 365

With BitTitan HealthCheck for Office 365 you can easily and remotely assess your customer’s entire corporate network for Office 365 migration readiness. Through the MSPComplete platform, you’ll deploy the lightweight Device Management Agent to relevant on-premises and remote workstations, servers, and devices to collect critical data concerning incompatibilities that may affect your project. Reporting is available in real-time and the data can be easily exported for customers.

This pre-migration assessment enables you to remedy any compatibility and infrastructure issues prior to beginning your cloud deployment project and ensures your cloud project is a success. When integrated into your selling strategy, you can accurately design and plan cloud deployment projects as well as uncover new sales opportunities.

  • Plan better and eliminate surprises
  • Develop a complete pre-migration readiness plan
  • Close your Office 365 deals faster
  • Plan resources better by incorporating desktop and infrastructure remediation
  • Meet migration deadlines and eliminate disruptive surprises and delays

Learn more about our BitTitan offering.

The Ins and Outs of Automated Public Folder Migration

When moving to the cloud, it’s a massive timesaver to automatically migrate public folders, too. You need to be able to move your customer’s shared mail folders, calendars, contacts, journals, notes, and tasks as an easy addition to your cloud migration project. Thankfully, BitTitan offers an automated public folder migration service to help reduce the complexity and complications of the migration progress.

How does it work?

Traditional methods of migrating legacy public folders to Office 365 and other platforms don’t plan for the unexpected—large folder sizes, multiple file types in one folder, and hybrid deployments, among others. This leaves the door open for problems and delays, such as lost or unrecoverable data, extensive periods of user downtime, or exceeding project timelines and budget.

Automating your public folder migration helps you avoid common pitfalls so that you save time, eliminate surprises, and ensure a smooth migration to the cloud for your customers.

Prescriptive guidance and automated tasks removes the learning curve for performing a public folder migration.

What are the benefits?

  • Folder filtering
  • Maintain existing folder hierarchy
  • Folder transformations
  • Permissions translation
  • Migration from any of our global data centers •24/7 technical support
  • No time limit on migration
  • Advanced migration filtering by date, folders and more
  • Accessible by browser, PowerShell or API
  • Prescriptive guidance and automation through MSPComplete

It’s fast, effective migration for important shared folders—so you can make it easy for customers to take advantage of the cloud to collect, organize, and share documents and information across their organisations.

Cloud Security – a look at security in public, private and on-premise solutions

When updating IT solutions, cloud security is an immediate problem that comes to mind alongside cost and time.
In a previous post, we mentioned the outstanding security measures and procedures built into Azure. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the security risks associated with public, private, and on-premises solutions. When building your IT solution, you’ll be choosing between them.

With good cloud security measures in place, the location of your data matters less than how you access it. This is where securing networks, restricting access, and monitoring access come into play.

Below we explore some of the risks and benefits associated with each of your cloud options.

PUBLIC CLOUD SOLUTIONS

Risks Benefits
· Data is stored on a shared server and maintained by provider

· Users agree to terms of use and providers have access to data on servers

· Network outages: Relies on access to internet in order for access to your data

· Difficult to see where the data resides

· Providers notify users of security breaches

· For non-sensitive data, it’s cheap and easy to set-up

· Can scale up or down as needed and pay accordingly

· No cost of ownership, maintenance or upgrades – just operating cost

 

PRIVATE CLOUD SOLUTION

Risks Benefits
· Data can be stored off prem, in a partitioned server owned by a host

· Existing security tools can be affected when data volume increases

· Meeting compliance requirements changes with two different regulatory environments

· Replicate servers and data in even of disaster recovery

· Configure on-prem and cloud servers can communicate on a private network.

· Securely scale up or down as needed, including during maintenance

 

HYBRID/ ON-PREM SOLUTIONS

Risks Benefits
· Siloed data can’t be recovered in the event of hardware damage or corruption

· Employees can threaten security with malicious intent or misunderstanding

· May take time to notice security breaches, leaving you vulnerable

 

· Security is under your discretion, as are your employees

· Complete ownership of data and server

· Easier compliance with industry regulations

Take the time to examine your IT and understand if it meets the cloud security standards that concern you right now. This step is the most important way to decide what you need from a cloud solution. If you need help, assessments are a great step towards identifying vulnerabilities, the best solutions, and migration-ready workloads.

Contact us for an assessment to build a more secure IT future.

Think ahead! With Azure.

Businesses can’t ask where they want to be in 5 years without considering where they want their tech to be as well. The way we handle our IT solutions has a direct impact on how we handle business, growth, and disaster.

How do we build solutions now that will work later? By building solutions that can evolve over time! The need to build forward-thinking solutions with existing hardware is why understanding Azure is key to your next step.

Let’s take a look at IaaS and PaaS, the two basic services Azure offers users.

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform. Users can buy service for storage, hosting, or running application on-demand from its global network of datacenters houses servers, storage, and software. It supports the largest number of operating systems, devices, databases languages, and tools. Azure’s primary options are IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS (Platform as a Service)

Depending on your business, one of the above may be more appealing than the other. Learning about both should help you see how your current solutions can benefit from Azure’s features.

Even for those of us with infrastructure in place, there are excellent options to leverage our on-site assets, benefit from off-site infrastructure and still be thinking 5 years ahead.

How one cloud rose above the others: Microsoft Azure

We work with customers to select the best services to support their IT and to make it secure on a daily basis. It’s our job to know the difference between a trend and solutions worth adopting.

In this cloud market, we recommend Microsoft Azure because they’re an efficient, secure, flexible, and cost-effective method for data storage and IT infrastructure. Building the right cloud solution for your business is how you get the most out of the cloud at the best cost, with the least hassle. 

Whether beginning your move to the cloud or building out an existing solution, here’s why we think Azure is the best foundation for your custom cloud solution.

Azure’s Security outstrips its competitors by taking an “assume breach” approach to its cloud. Its focus on compliance, privacy, and threat detection are hard to beat. Answer the following questions and see if your security stacks up to the features we list below.
“What does your security look like? Who runs it and what does it protect?” Does it match:

· 24/7 global incident response team monitoring servers

· Certificate and Private Key Management

· Encryption protected communications

· Identity and access management

· Firewalls, partitioned Local Area Networks, and Network Security Groups

· Intrusion detection and distributed denial of service

If you’re interested in a technical summary of 10 critical security functions Azure uses, you can learn more here. For an overview of even more security features, click here.
In terms of privacy, Azure adheres to the international standard for cloud privacy, ISO 27018, publishes transparency reports, and publishes law enforcement guidelines. Microsoft also tells users about government data requests and requires a warrant for content.

A lot of customers worry about compliance, but Azure offers guidelines for compliance by service, location, and industry. No matter what Azure option you choose, there’s help.

Azure offers a wide range of support. We don’t just mean technical or billing support when you need it. IT support comes in the form of automatic patches, security updates, and upgrades. For running workloads, Azure supports the broadest number of cloud solutions, operating systems, software, development languages, and devices.

Azure integrates with existing Microsoft licenses, SQL servers, and Sharepoint. It also supports different OS, development languages, frameworks and third party technologies.

Cost is up to you.
Since Azure is a cloud, you pay for what you’re using and can use more or less. It’s important to work with a professional if you’re looking to build the most cost-efficient model for your business, as some workloads may be more expensive than others.

The ability to research, right-size, ultimately build a secure, efficient and cost-conscious infrastructure makes this a worthwhile move for many—especially when compared to the maintenance and service costs of running infrastructure on-premises.

Some customers worry that switching to Azure will mean moving everything they have and stop their search there. Not only is this untrue, but it misses the opportunity to explore the different Azure options for storage, infrastructure, and deployment. Plus, it’s a huge missed opportunity to develop better disaster recovery and preparedness.

Go on this Azure journey with us

 

Channel must retool its sales force to sell to the cloud customer

The idea of selling an outcome – a solution to a customer’s need or a problem – rather than selling a tool or product, isn’t new. Harvard University marketing professor Theodore Levitt is said to have told his students several decades back that people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill – they want to buy a quarter-inch hole.

Yet, as much as ICT vendors and their channel partners have spoken about it over the past 20 years, they have struggled to make the transition from selling technology products to selling business solutions. As their customers of all sizes start to move to the cloud, resellers not only have the opportunity to get it right, but also the imperative.

The main reason it was hard, in the past, to sell ICT as a solution rather than as discrete products and services, was that customers’ IT environments were complex, with many moving parts and many linkages between their applications and infrastructure. Coming into this environment, a salesperson would need to look at which tools in the toolbox were compatible with the customer’s services and processes.

Cloud changes the picture

He or she would be interacting with an IT department that would assume the responsibility of purchasing products and services from multiple vendors and service providers, and putting them together as a set of business services and applications for end-users.

Now, with the rise of the cloud, the picture has changed.

Today, a sales team that wants to get up and running with a basic cloud customer relationship management solution can subscribe to a cloud platform and be up and running in days. That is a world of difference from the days the sales manager would ask IT for help, which in turn would start procurement of the application and the underlying infrastructure.

The cloud, then, is an opportunity for ICT resellers to embrace solutions selling rather than continuing to sell technology. But, many are finding the old habits hard to break.

One reason for this is simply that ICT salespeople have yet to adapt to the new world. They still think of themselves as selling big-ticket products in long sales cycles, with the hope of a big revenue boost when a sale is closed. They still regard the IT manager or the CIO as their primary customer in the business. But in many mid-market and large enterprises, line departments such as finance, marketing, logistics and sales are taking charge of their own business applications.

They might consult with IT about technical standards or integration, but they want to be in the driver’s seat for purchasing decisions.

Speeds, feeds, brands don’t matter

What this means for salespeople at IT resellers is that they should change how they sell, who they sell to and the way they think about revenue. The first point is that it’s no longer about speeds, feeds and brands since users buy applications and services that answer business needs when they subscribe to a cloud service.

They don’t buy a marketing automation suite and the underlying technology, they buy a way to streamline communication with customers, measure marketing performance and optimise conversions. They don’t buy an accounting package, they want to issue invoices and track payments.

Secondly, the technology has become simpler and more transparent, so business users are driving many of their own cloud application purchases. And thirdly, rather than hoping for a big commission after selling a large system to a customer over a six-month RFP cycle, salespeople need to become accustomed to an annuity model.

This means we’re moving towards a more consultative sales approach, one focused on asking what challenges the business user is trying to address. This means many of the most successful cloud salespeople are those with experience in fields such as financial services, where you’re helping someone manage their lifestyle and legacy rather than selling them policies and investments.

To succeed in the world of the cloud, ICT resellers need to unlearn much of what worked so well for them in the past. For many, this will be hard work, but it is essential in a world where the cloud customer wants to buy business services rather than servers and software licences.