As we bid farewell to another year, it's the perfect time to reflect on the past and set our sights on the future. For IT departments, embracing the new year often involves reevaluating strategies, streamlining processes, and leveraging innovative solutions.

As a passionate team of IT experts that champion all the ways in which bolstering IT can benefit businesses everywhere, we're so excited to guide you through some New Year resolutions that can revitalize your IT approach and bring success in 2024.

 

AI Integration for IT Advancement

Resolution: Embrace the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in our IT operations to enhance efficiency and decision-making processes.

Why: AI technologies, such as machine learning and predictive analytics, can revolutionize how we manage and optimize IT resources. By leveraging AI, we can automate routine tasks, gain insights from data, and make proactive decisions that contribute to the overall success of our IT initiatives.

 

Automation for Streamlined Operations

Resolution: Embrace automation to streamline repetitive tasks and enhance operational efficiency.

Why: Automation can significantly reduce manual efforts, minimize errors, and accelerate processes. By identifying opportunities for automation in routine tasks, we can free up valuable time for our IT teams to focus on more strategic initiatives, leading to a more agile and responsive IT environment.

 

Embrace Cloud Optimization

Resolution: In 2024, commit to optimizing our cloud infrastructure for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Why: Cloud technology is dynamic and ever evolving. Ensuring that our cloud services are optimized will enhance performance, reduce costs, and allow us to take full advantage of the latest features.

 

Enhance Cybersecurity Measures

Resolution: Strengthen our cybersecurity posture to safeguard against evolving threats.

Why: As cyber threats become more sophisticated, prioritizing cybersecurity is crucial. Implementing robust measures, such as regular security audits and employee training, will fortify our defenses.

 

Implement Proactive Monitoring

Resolution: Transition to proactive monitoring for early issue detection and swift resolution.

Why: Reactive approaches can lead to downtime and disruptions. Proactive monitoring ensures that potential issues are identified and addressed before they impact operations.

 

Upgrade Legacy Systems

Resolution: Develop a plan to systematically upgrade legacy systems to modern, efficient solutions.

Why: Outdated systems pose security risks and hinder performance. Upgrading to the latest technologies ensures we stay competitive, secure, and aligned with industry standards.

 

Optimize IT Budgets

Resolution: Conduct a thorough review of IT budgets to identify cost-saving opportunities without compromising performance.

Why: Efficient budget allocation is essential for achieving business objectives. Identifying and eliminating unnecessary expenses will optimize our IT spend.

Interested in learning more? Check out our blog on Software Sprawl.

 

Promote Collaboration Tools

Resolution: Implement or enhance collaboration tools to boost team productivity.

Why: Effective communication and collaboration are cornerstones of success. Integrating advanced collaboration tools will empower our teams to work seamlessly, irrespective of location.

You can learn more by reading our blog on Microsoft viva or click here to see all of the powerful collaboration tools and services we offer to amplify your team’s engagement and productivity.

 

Invest in Employee Training

Resolution: Prioritize ongoing training to keep our IT teams well-versed in the latest technologies.

Why: The tech landscape evolves rapidly. Investing in continuous training ensures that our teams are equipped with the skills needed to navigate emerging trends.

Here are some resources for internal training:

You can also access our past webinars for expert walkthrough on various tools and technologies that all IT teams should know.

 

Explore New Microsoft Solutions

Resolution: Stay abreast of the latest Microsoft solutions and integrate them into our IT ecosystem.

Why: Microsoft offers a suite of powerful solutions. Regularly exploring and adopting new tools can enhance productivity and keep us at the forefront of technological innovation.

Learn more about Microsoft tools and services that you can access through our trusted team.

As we step into 2024, let's embark on a journey of IT excellence. These resolutions serve as a roadmap for a successful and technologically advanced year. If you're ready to turn these resolutions into reality, our team at Managed Solution is here to support you every step of the way. Here's to a year of innovation, efficiency, and IT success!

 

More Resources

Cloud computing has emerged as a game-changer for businesses, enabling companies to scale, secure, and streamline their operations more efficiently than ever. Among the cloud giants, Microsoft Azure has risen to prominence as a go-to platform for organizations worldwide. In this blog, we'll delve into what Azure is, to help users and companies looking for cloud opportunities understand how it can benefit them.

 

What is Microsoft Azure?Microsoft Azure logo

Azure is Microsoft's cloud computing platform and infrastructure. It provides a vast array of cloud services, including computing, analytics, databases, networking, storage, and more through global data centers. It also empowers organizations with the flexibility to build, deploy, and manage applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers globally.

Key Features and Services

Azure Virtual Machines

Azure offers virtual machines that allow businesses to run applications in the cloud, providing scalable and flexible computing power without the need for physical hardware.

Hybrid Cloud Capabilities

Azure's hybrid cloud solutions enable seamless integration between on-premises and cloud environments. This flexibility allows MSPs to cater to clients with varied infrastructure requirements, ensuring a smooth transition to the cloud.

Single-pane Operations

Microsoft Azure's single-pane operations via the Operation Management Suite (OMS) offer seamless monitoring and management of hybrid environments, including virtual machines, storage, network services, logs, and insights. OMS prioritizes security, providing comprehensive solutions for hybrid infrastructure challenges.

Computational services

  1. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): Azure offers virtual machines, storage, and networking resources, allowing businesses to migrate their existing on-premises infrastructure to the cloud, reducing hardware costs, and enhancing scalability.
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS): Developers can leverage Azure's PaaS offerings to build, deploy, and manage applications without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. This enables quicker development cycles and enhanced collaboration.
  3. Software as a Service (SaaS): Azure hosts a variety of SaaS solutions, including Office 365, Dynamics 365, and more, which simplify application access and management.

Azure Blob Storage

This service enables secure and cost-effective storage of large amounts of unstructured data, ideal for backups, media files, and application data.

Azure SQL Database

A fully managed relational database service, Azure SQL Database offers high-performance, secure, and scalable database solutions for various applications.

Azure AI and Machine Learning

Businesses can leverage Azure’s artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to gain valuable insights, automate processes, and create intelligent applications.

Azure IoT Hub

For companies delving into the realm of IoT, Azure IoT Hub facilitates seamless communication between IoT applications and devices, enabling real-time monitoring and control.

 

Why Azure Matters for Businesses: Key Benefits

key benefits

Scalability

Azure's elasticity allows businesses to scale resources up or down on-demand. It caters to the dynamic needs of companies without forcing them to invest in expensive hardware. Whether it's handling a sudden surge in web traffic or expanding storage capabilities, Azure provides the necessary scalability to support business growth.

Global Reach and Reliability

Azure boasts a global network of data centers, ensuring high availability and redundancy (i.e. ensures that accounts meet their durability targets). This infrastructure minimizes downtime and data loss, which is crucial for businesses in the digital age where loss of data can cost millions.

Not to mention that with Azure’s world-wide distribution of data centers, businesses can expand into global markets with more ease. This can greatly advance growth opportunities for a number of businesses and therein lead to greater innovation when competing in new markets.

Security and Compliance

Security is paramount in the digital age, and Azure prioritizes it. Azure's robust security features include threat detection, identity and access management, encryption, and compliance certifications like ISO 27001 and SOC 2. With Azure, organizations can rest assured that their data is secure and compliant with industry standards.

Cost Effectiveness

With a variety of licensing and pricing models, organizations have the option to leverage Azure’s revenue-boosting productivity enhancements while paying only for the resources they consume. It also provides flexibility in allowing businesses to scale their resources up or down based on demand.

compare cost of Azure to AWS

credit: Microsoft

Furthermore, Azure offers an array of tools and services designed to assist businesses in maximizing their cloud expenditure, such as cost management and resource optimization tools. These resources empower organizations to supervise and manage their Azure expenses.

With flexibility and cost-management features, Azure enables companies to optimize their IT budgets, minimizing wastage while providing the resources necessary to meet their specific needs.

Check out this in-depth forum post that demonstrates how Azure is one of the most cost-effective cloud infrastructures.

Analytics and Business Intelligence

Microsoft Azure offers powerful analytics and business intelligence tools for data-driven insights. Services like Azure Machine Learning and Power BI enable businesses to analyze data, enhancing decision-making processes. Furthermore, Azure seamlessly integrates with Microsoft products like Dynamics 365 and Office, ensuring a smooth user experience and boosting productivity.

Collaboration and Productivity

Microsoft Azure offers diverse tools and services aimed at enhancing business collaboration and productivity. Azure Active Directory enables streamlined management of user accounts and access control for cloud applications, enhancing security measures and simplifying user administration.

Additionally, Azure provides a suite of collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. These platforms facilitate real-time collaboration on documents and projects, fostering increased productivity and teamwork among employees.

Innovation and Integration

Azure continuously evolves, offering cutting-edge technologies such as AI, machine learning, and IoT. For businesses, this means they can stay ahead of the curve by integrating these innovative technologies into their operations, driving efficiency and competitiveness.

 

More than Just a Cloud Platform

Microsoft Azure is more than just a cloud platform; it's a catalyst for innovation and transformation in the modern business landscape. Businesses have a unique opportunity to leverage Azure's capabilities to meet their dynamic IT needs. Namely, because Azure offers scalability, reliability, security, cost-efficiency, and access to cutting-edge technologies.

As businesses continue to navigate the digital frontier, Azure stands as a powerful ally, helping them achieve their goals and thrive in the digital age. Embracing Azure is not just a choice; it's a strategic imperative for all businesses.

 


Learn More + Free upcoming webinar

If you're ready to talk more about Microsoft Azure with a qualified expert, send us a contact request here and we'll set up a time to chat with you. For a deeper dive into the platform, join us on October 25th for part two of our free Azure Webinar series.

 

In today's digitally driven world, businesses face ever-increasing cyber threats that can compromise sensitive data, disrupt operations, and damage their reputation and credibility. While many organizations invest heavily in robust cybersecurity measures, they often overlook one critical component: training their end users.

 

End users, whether they be employees or customers, are the first line of defense against cyber threats -- which is why proper training and awareness is so imperative. A popular platform for this exact endeavor, KnowBe4, understands that strengthening end-users’ awareness and safety precautions is key for fortifying a business’ security posture.

 

KnowBe4 was founded in 2010 by Stu Sjouwerman, a cybersecurity expert with over 30 years of experience in the industry. Since its inception, the platform has helped thousands of organizations improve their security posture and protect against cyber threats.

 

In this blog, we will discuss the importance of security awareness training and phishing simulations, and how, with these tools and tactics, KnowBe4 can help organizations set their end-users up for success and achieve their security goals.

 

The Importance of Security Awareness Training

 

In today's digital age, cyber threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated and frequent. Hackers are constantly looking for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in an organization's security system, and one of the most effective ways to do this is through social engineering.

 

Social engineering is the use of psychological manipulation to trick people into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that compromise security. Security awareness training is essential for organizations to protect themselves against these specific types of attacks.

 

By educating employees on how to identify and respond to potential security threats, organizations can reduce the likelihood of successful attacks and mitigate the damage caused by any breaches that do occur.

 

Security awareness training should cover a range of topics, including:

 

Phishing

Phishing is the most common form of social engineering attack, and it involves sending fraudulent emails that appear to be from a legitimate source to trick users into clicking on a malicious link or downloading malware. Employees should thoroughly understand how to identify phishing emails and how to navigate an attempted attack properly.

 

Password Security

Weak passwords are a major security vulnerability. That is making sure employees understand the importance of strong passwords, and how to create them and keep them secure should be a priority.

 

Mobile Device Security

With the rise of remote work, mobile devices have become an increasingly larger target for cyber criminals. Helping employees secure their mobile devices and use them safely is instrumental for keeping both their personal and professional data safe.

 

Social Media Security

Today, we’re seeing social media platforms become goldmine of personal information for cyber criminals. All employees, and especially those who have access to a company’s social platform accounts, should be taught how to use social media in a safe and secure way.

 

The Importance of Phishing Simulations

 

We mentioned the importance of training for phishing attacks. One great way to counter these kinds of threats is with phishing simulations. Phishing simulations are mock phishing attacks that are used to test an organization's security awareness training program.

 

By simulating real-world phishing attacks, organizations can identify areas where employees need additional training and improve their overall security posture. Phishing simulations should be designed to be realistic and challenging, and they should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure that employees remain vigilant and up to date with the latest threats.

 

The Impact of Security Awareness Training and Simulations for End Users

 

Let’s take a look at the specific impact of this training and why it is so beneficial for both individual employees and organizations at large.

 

Heightened Awareness and Vigilance

End users are the biggest target for various cyberattacks. Educating users about the latest tactics used by cybercriminals helps them remain vigilant and empowers them to make informed decisions when encountering potential risks.

 

Mitigating Human Error

Human error is a leading cause of security breaches. This is because end users, often unknowingly, engage in risky behaviors like clicking on malicious links or downloading suspicious attachments.

 

Through comprehensive cybersecurity training, businesses can teach their workforce how to recognize these risks, adopt safer practices, and minimize human error. In doing so, organizations can significantly reduce the likelihood of successful cyberattacks and subsequent data breaches.

 

Safeguarding Customer Data

Organizations entrusted with customer data bear a responsibility to protect it from unauthorized access. Training end users, particularly employees who handle customer information, reinforces the importance of data security and the potential consequences of mishandling sensitive data.

 

This benefit not only lends protection of the organization’s data in and of itself, but also to the reputation and credibility of said organization as well. By educating employees on data protection best practices through regular training, businesses can create a culture of security that safeguards customer data.

 

Strengthening Incident Response

Effective cybersecurity training not only focuses on preventing attacks but also prepares end users to respond appropriately in the event of a breach. Training programs can include guidance on incident reporting procedures, recognizing signs of a breach, and immediate response actions.

 

When end users are adequately trained and given the proper tools, they become an integral part of the incident response process, allowing organizations to mitigate the impact of an attack swiftly and effectively.

 

Reinforcing Regulatory Compliance

Compliance with industry-specific regulations and data protection laws is essential for businesses operating in today's legal landscape. Training end users on the relevant regulatory requirements --especially in an engaging and interesting way -- ensures that they understand their obligations and the potential consequences of non-compliance.

 

By integrating compliance-focused training that actually engages end users into cybersecurity programs, organizations can greatly reduce the risk of regulatory penalties and reputational damage resulting from data breaches and compliancy issues.

 

Fostering a Culture of Security

Cybersecurity is not solely an IT department's responsibility; it is a shared responsibility across the entire organization. By training end users in a continuous way, businesses foster a culture of security where every individual understands their role in protecting sensitive information.

 

This culture shift ensures that cybersecurity becomes ingrained in daily routines, leading to a proactive and vigilant approach towards potential threats.

 

How KnowBe4 Can Help

 

KnowBe4 offers a comprehensive security awareness training and phishing simulation solution. The platform helps organizations of all sizes improve their security posture and even incorporates AI. There are a range of features and tools included that make security awareness training and phishing simulations easy, engaging, and effective.

 

Here are some of the key features of the KnowBe4 platform:

 

Pre-built training content

With KnowBe4’s pre-built training content, you’re able to provide your organization with a multitude of resources and training on a variety of security awareness topics. This content is available in multiple formats including videos, interactive modules, and quizzes. It can also be customized to meet the specific needs of each organization.

 

Phishing simulation templates

KnowBe4 offers a range of phishing simulation templates that mimic real-world phishing attacks. These templates can be customized to fit the specific needs of your organization. They can also include a range of different scenarios and attack types.

 

Reporting and analytics

KnowBe4's platform includes robust reporting and analytics tools. These tools provide organizations with detailed insights into the effectiveness of their security awareness training program. Track employee progress, identify areas where additional training is needed, and measure the overall effectiveness of the program.

 

Automated campaigns

Access KnowBe4's automated campaigns! These campaigns enable advanced scheduling to ensure that employees receive regular training. This allows your team to stay engaged and maintain their level of security awareness so that they’re always ready.

Knowbe4 security. Knowbe4 security.

Continuous Education

This powerful platform provides ongoing security education and awareness to end users. This is essential in a rapidly changing threat landscape, where new threats and attack methods are constantly emerging.

 

We're living in an era where cyber threats are prevalent and evolving at rapid speed. Businesses cannot afford to overlook the importance of training their end users. By investing in comprehensive training programs, organizations empower their employees and customers to be proactive in identifying and mitigating risks.

 

This is because effective training enhances awareness, reduces human error, protects customer data, strengthens incident response capabilities, and ensures compliance. Ultimately, training end users becomes an invaluable asset in fortifying an organization's overall cybersecurity posture.

 

KnowBe4's platform helps businesses create a culture of security and end user empowerment. Contact us here to learn more about implementing this invaluable resource into your cybersecurity strategy today!

KnowBe4 Security.  

Simplifying Security: 6 Easy Steps to Keep your Information Safe

Simplifying security.

Today, we store an incredible amount of sensitive information online, including financial data, personal information, and more. It's essential that we take steps to protect that data, but it's easy get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fearmongering information and ignore or down right forget to take basic security measures.

This leaves countless individuals and organizations more susceptible to cyberattacks. In this blog, we're simplifying security measures for overwhelmed or forgetful users to help take the power back into their own hands in keeping their data and email secure.

 

Creating Passwords: Strong but Memorable

One of the easiest ways to protect your data is to use strong passwords. A strong password should be at least 8 characters long, include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Try not to use easily guessable passwords, such as "password1" or "123456," and although its hard, avoid using the same password across multiple accounts.

If you’re more prone to using simple or repeated passwords, and have trouble remembering stronger passwords, consider using a password manager. These tools securely store your passwords and can automatically fill them in for you when you log in to your accounts.

 

The Power of Password Managers

Simplifying security doesn't necessarily mean simplifying your passwords. In fact, one of the biggest risks to your data is using weak passwords. Weak passwords can be easily cracked by hackers, leaving you vulnerable to identity theft, financial loss, and more. However, it can be hard to remember complex passwords for every account, especially if you have many different accounts. This is what makes password managers such spectacular tools.

Password managers store all of your passwords securely, so you can secure your data with unique, strong passwords without having to remember each and every one. They work by creating complex, random passwords for your accounts and storing them in an encrypted database. All you need is one strong master password to access your password manager.

There are many different password managers available, and some are even free. It is important to choose a reputable password manager and use a strong, unique master password to protect your data.

To further your data protection and streamline your security, utilizing a standalone application such as Microsoft Authenticator can bridge your password management while also providing two-step authentication to give your security an extra boost -- without having to do extra work.

 

Two-factor Authentication: Annoying, but so Important

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security that requires you to enter a code in addition to your password to log in to your accounts. This code is typically sent to your phone or email.

You can set up 2FA through online services, such as social media platforms, email providers, and financial institutions. Unfortunately, many users opt-out of two-factor authentication due to the inconvenience of it. However, these set-ups can significantly increase the safety of your and/or your organizations data.

Thankfully applications like Microsoft Authenticator have streamlined this process so that you can bridge your password management, easily register 2FA to your devices, and keep your data safe with built in safety tools like one-time passcodes and push notifications.

 

Keep Your Software Up to Date

Keeping your software up to date is important because updates often include security patches that fix vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. It can be easy to forget to update your software, especially if you have many different programs on your computer or device.

This is why it's a good idea to set up automatic updates if possible. Most software programs, including operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus programs, have automatic update options. To enable automatic updates, go to your settings or preferences and look for an option to turn them on.

If this isn’t an option for you, we suggest setting up monthly notifications on your calendar or even creating something as simple as a sticky note reminder so that you continuously check-in with your system’s updates.

 

Be Careful with Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, which makes it easy for hackers to intercept data. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, avoid accessing sensitive information like bank accounts or social media accounts. Instead, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data and protect your privacy.

Using a VPN

A VPN is a tool that encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a secure server. This makes it harder for hackers to intercept your data and steal your information.

Even though it may seem like an excessive step, the theme of today’s blog is that anything that seems excessive, is probably a greatly beneficial if not necessary step. This is especially true for those who enjoy working remotely from coffee shops or restaurants.

There are many different VPN services available, so be sure you pick the best one to meet your needs. For businesses or remote workers, we recommend Microsoft’s Azure VPN.

Microsoft Azure VPN is a virtual private network (VPN) solution that enables secure remote access to Azure resources. With Azure VPN, users can connect to virtual machines, cloud services, and other Azure resources securely from anywhere.

Forgetting passwords and losing data can be an incredibly frustrating experience. To prevent data loss, be sure to backup your data regularly. This can be done automatically by using a cloud backup service or an external hard drive.

Cloud backup services automatically backup your data to the cloud, so you can. access it from anywhere and on any device. External hard drives are physical devices that you can connect to your computer or device and use to backup your data manually.

Similarly, to our point about system updates, if you’re unable to automate your backup process for whatever reason, be sure to set reminders for yourself. It is important to backup your data regularly to prevent data loss in case of a hardware failure, theft, or other disaster.

If you are a current Microsoft user, or are considering switching, be sure to take advantage of Azure Backup. For companies especially this is a cost-effective, secure, one-click backup solution that’s scalable based on your backup storage needs.

 

Stay in the Know

The more you know about data security, the better you will be at protecting your data. Take the time to educate yourself on best practices for data security and stay in the loop on new types of attacks and technology. A great way to motivate yourself to do this is to get creative about the way you think of data protection.

Although it can feel like an abstract topic, once you become more familiar with how security and data protection works, you’ll be surprised to learn just how fascinating our current ever-changing climate is.

Sign-up for our newsletter here for monthly updates and insights into the world of tech and data protection. Or! If you’re interested in learning how start simplifying security by implementing any of the tools we mentioned, contact us here and we’ll reach out to get you started.

simplifying security

A Comprehensive Guide to Microsoft Security

 

In today's digital age, cybersecurity has become a crucial aspect of our lives. With more and more businesses and individuals relying on technology, the threat of cyber-attacks has increased significantly.

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to exploit vulnerabilities in software and hardware, steal sensitive information, and disrupt operations. Thankfully, businesses like Microsoft offer incredible tools and resources to keep your organizations data safe.

 

The State of Cybersecurity

 As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, the threat of cybercrime looms larger than ever before. Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and the damage they cause can be catastrophic, both financially and reputationally.

In 2024, the cybersecurity landscape is expected to evolve even further, with new threats emerging and existing ones becoming more potent. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime is expected to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015.

The report also states that ransomware attacks are expected to occur every 11 seconds by 2023. These attacks can be devastating for businesses, as they can result in significant financial losses, downtime, and again, reputational damage.

According to a report by Microsoft, phishing attacks continue to be the most common type of cyberattack, with a 65% increase in phishing attacks in 2022 compared to the previous year. Phishing attacks involve cybercriminals posing as legitimate entities to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information or downloading malware.

Furthermore, this survey by Varonis found that 53% of companies experienced a data breach in 2022 – an increase of 41% since 2021. This statistic underscores the importance of having robust cybersecurity measures, as even the most secure organizations are vulnerable to cyber threats.

Overall, these data points demonstrate the growing threat of cybercrime and the need for individuals and organizations to take proactive measures to protect themselves against these threats.

This is where having a top-notch security system comes in. There is no single "best" cybersecurity platform that works for all organizations, but you can find one that works best for you!

 

Picking the Right Security Technology

Different businesses have different cybersecurity needs based on their size, industry, and types of data and systems they handle. The cybersecurity platform that works best for one organization may not work for another.

There are several leading cybersecurity platforms in the market that offer comprehensive security solutions for businesses of all sizes, and as a partner with hands-on experience, we recommend standardizing on a single platform and using tools that work seamlessly with existing technologies. If a business is leveraging the Microsoft Platform, then Microsoft security tools may just amaze you!

Microsoft has been a leader in the tech industry for over four decades, and its commitment to security is unwavering.

Microsoft security offers a comprehensive cybersecurity platform with advanced threat protection, identity and access management, compliance tools, security automation, and integration with other Microsoft products such as Microsoft 365 and Azure.

The platform also leverages machine learning and AI to provide real-time threat detection and response, helping businesses stay ahead of the latest cyber threats.

Let's take a closer look at some of the features of Microsoft Security and how they can benefit you.

 

Windows Based Protections

Microsoft offers a variety of options that we’ll be looking at today. From built-in technology (i.e. Windows based security features), to licensing opportunities, to cloud options – Microsoft has you covered.

For those already using or considering switching to Microsoft hardware, we’ll start with the security features from Windows 11 to help you dig a little deeper.

 

Microsoft Defender Antivirus

Microsoft Defender Antivirus is Microsoft’s next-generation protection for Windows 11. This built-in feature provides real-time protection against viruses, malware, and other types of malicious software.

It is designed to scan your device automatically and remove any threats that it finds. Microsoft Defender Antivirus uses advanced machine learning algorithms to detect and block malware.

It also has a cloud-based protection system that ensures that your device is always up to date with the latest security patches and definitions.

 

Microsoft Firewall

Microsoft Firewall is made to help prevent criminals, hackers, or malicious software from gaining access to your PC through the internet or a network. It is another built-in feature of Windows 11 that provides advanced security protection.

It monitors inbound and outbound traffic and blocks any unauthorized connections to your device. This tool also provides granular control over which applications can access the internet, which can help prevent malware from spreading.

Additionally, it has an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to configure and manage your firewall settings.

 

Microsoft Defender SmartScreen

Microsoft Defender SmartScreen is another security feature that is built into Windows 11. This feature is geared to protect users from phishing and malware attacks while browsing the web.

SmartScreen works by checking the URLs of websites you visit against a continuously updated list of known malicious sites and downloads. If it detects that a site or download is potentially dangerous, it will display a warning message that advises you against visiting the site or downloading the file.

SmartScreen also uses machine learning algorithms to analyze web pages and files for suspicious behavior, helping to identify new threats that may not yet be on its list of known threats.

 

Licensing Options

If you don’t have Microsoft hardware, fear not! You can still get these incredible technologies through licensing. If you work with a managed services or software provider, be sure to ask them about the following to protect your organization today.

 

Microsoft 365 Defender

Microsoft 365 Defender is a comprehensive security solution that provides advanced protection for Microsoft's cloud-based services, including Microsoft 365 and Azure. It uses AI and machine learning to detect and respond to threats across multiple endpoints, including email, endpoints, and identities.

Microsoft 365 Defender also provides advanced threat protection features such as email filtering, anti-phishing protection, and identity protection. It also has a user-friendly dashboard that provides real-time visibility into your security posture.

 

Cloud Based Security

Microsoft also offers incredibly powerful cloud-based security solutions through Azure for companies who have or are considering migrating their data to the cloud.

 

Azure Defender

Azure Defender is a security solution for organizations that use Microsoft's Azure cloud platform. It provides advanced threat protection for your Azure resources, including virtual machines, containers, and serverless functions.

Azure Defender uses machine learning algorithms to detect and respond to threats across your entire Azure environment. It also provides real-time visibility into your security posture and alerts you to any potential threats.

 

Microsoft Identity Manager

Microsoft Identity Manager is a comprehensive identity and access management solution that helps you manage user identities and access to resources. It provides a centralized management console that makes it easy to manage user identities, roles, and permissions across your organization.

Microsoft Identity Manager also provides advanced authentication features such as multi-factor authentication and conditional access. It also integrates with Microsoft 365 Defender to provide advanced threat protection for your identities.

 

Key Benefits of Microsoft Security

Protect Against Advanced Threats

Microsoft Security offers advanced threat protection for email, endpoints, and cloud-based services such as Microsoft 365 and Azure. This protection helps prevent phishing attacks, malware, and other types of cyber threats that can compromise a business's data and systems.

Identity and Access Management

With the rise of remote work and the cloud, identity and access management have become more critical than ever. Microsoft Security provides a centralized management console through Microsoft Identity Manager that makes it easy to manage user identities, roles, and permissions across an organization, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

Many industries have specific compliance and regulatory requirements, such as HIPAA in healthcare or PCI-DSS in the financial industry. Microsoft Security helps businesses meet these requirements by providing compliance tools and features, such as data encryption, auditing, and access controls.

Security Automation

Microsoft Security leverages machine learning and AI to provide real-time threat detection and response. This automation helps reduce the workload on IT and security teams, allowing them to focus on higher-level tasks and initiatives.

Integration with Other Microsoft Products

Microsoft Security integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft 365 and Azure. This integration allows businesses to leverage a comprehensive suite of security solutions that work together seamlessly, providing a more holistic approach to cybersecurity.

 

Microsoft Security Success Stories

ASOS

ASOS is a global online fashion and beauty retailer that serves customers in over 240 countries. As a company that handles a vast amount of sensitive customer data, ASOS needed to ensure that its systems and data were secure.

To do this, ASOS implemented Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and Microsoft Cloud App Security. These solutions provided ASOS with comprehensive identity and access management, as well as advanced threat protection for its cloud-based services. As a result, ASOS was able to improve its security posture and protect its customers' data from cyber threats.

M-KOPA

M-KOPA is a Kenyan-based company that provides solar energy to off-grid communities in East Africa. To ensure the security of its customer data and systems, M-KOPA implemented Microsoft Intune and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint.

These solutions provided M-KOPA with a comprehensive mobile device management and endpoint security solution. As a result, M-KOPA was able to reduce the risk of cyber threats and ensure the security of its customer data and systems.

The American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society is a nonprofit organization that funds cancer research, provides patient support, and advocates for cancer prevention policies. To protect its data and systems, the American Cancer Society implemented Microsoft Azure Information Protection (AIP) and Microsoft Cloud App Security.

These solutions provided the American Cancer Society with comprehensive data protection and advanced threat detection and response capabilities. As a result, the American Cancer Society was able to improve its security posture and protect its data and systems from cyber threats.

Overall, these success stories demonstrate how Microsoft Security solutions can help organizations of all sizes and industries improve their security posture, protect their data and systems, and reduce the risk of cyber threats.

 

Final Notes

Although security is a critical part of your business’ tech infrastructure – you don’t need to be living in fear. Yes, cybercrime is rising and will continue to rise as the digital world grows, but security solutions will continue to grow with it.

By leveraging the power of Microsoft Security, businesses can better defend against cyber-attacks and ensure the security of their most valuable assets,

If you are looking for a reliable and effective security solution, Microsoft Security is a great choice. With its advanced machine learning algorithms, cloud-based protection system, and intuitive-user interface, Microsoft Security provides the security you need to stay protected.

Deploying a new security solution can be difficult, but our team can help. Contact us today to chat with one of our experts and see how easy and painless this process can look like for you!

Microsoft’s Viva Connections is one of four facets of the Microsoft Viva Suite along with Viva Insights, Viva Learnings, and Viva Topics. Viva connections, specifically, is an application that drills into the employee experience to enable connection and engagement like never before.

With remote and hybrid work settings becoming the norm, connecting your team and preventing isolation is more important than ever. Read on to learn more about how this powerful tool works and how you can implement it to better your organizations culture.

The Objective

Viva connections’ goal is oriented around (drum roll please) …keeping people connected! It does this by offering users a a personalized view of news, conversations and groups with the same applications and devices they already utilize in their day to day, giving your employees have everything they need to stay engaged.

This application also focuses on enabling team members to contribute their ideas easily and freely, to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Not only are you sure to gather key insights from your team, but you can drill deeper into them with polls and surveys.

These features and capabilities are imperative tools that allow you to create a culture where everyone feels their voice is heard and build trust in a fun and easy way!

Furthermore, Viva Connections lets you curate your dashboards to provide fast and easy access to company resources, such as events, holidays, even health and wellness reminders! With Microsoft Viva Connections, you can have all the benefits of a remote workspace, while still maintaining that ‘togetherness’ feeling of an in-office setting.

Primary Benefits

  • Expands upon already existing Microsoft capabilities to help you specifically target the growth of your company even in a remote setting.
  • Deliver information to team members on desktop and mobile devices.
  • Curate content and tools that best fit your team’s needs.

What Makes Connections Different?

Viva Connections amalgamates content from Microsoft 365 services like SharePoint, Teams, Yammer and more—into a fully-integrated and personalized, singular view for every employee. You can even integrate Viva Connections with other services such as stocks, weather forecasts, and vacation/ holiday schedules to boost engagement beyond Microsoft 365 content.

What ultimately sets Viva Connections apart from other engagement platforms is how customizable and scalable the service is. With Viva Connections, you can build your apps for specific objectives (as needed) and continue to personalize content to improve users’ overall experience as your company grows!

What all is Included?

Viva Connections combines the power of your SharePoint intranet with Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Stream, and other Microsoft 365 applications to allow companies to create and display more intentional content for their employees. These functionalities are delivered through three primary aspects of the application: Dashboard, Feed, and Resources.

Dashboard

As we mentioned, the Viva Connections Dashboard lets you to create a customized experience with Dashboard cards that give your employee's access to the most useful content, tools, and task lists for them. It is essentially a digital toolbelt for your team that allows you to pick the best resources for your current needs -- and change them out as you grow and evolve.

Feed

The Feed on Viva Connections allows users to connect from a tailored view and explore important announcements and relevant information -- and join in on conversations throughout the organization. You can optimize your Feed by delivering SharePoint and Yammer communities together.

Resources

Resources are the navigational links that are set up and customized in the SharePoint app bar from the home site. These resources will get displayed on both the desktop and mobile instances of Viva Connections.

In the mobile app, users can view resources by selecting the Resources tab. This type of functioning provides users with a familiar navigation structure and allows them to open sites, pages, news, and more—right from their mobile devices.

How to Increase Engagement with Viva Connections

It’s no secret that better engagement leads to higher creativity and productivity. However, a huge challenge for businesses in the remote era we find ourselves in, is developing a culture where that kind of engagement flourishes.

What we (and obviously, Microsoft), have found, is that by connecting and unifying your employee’s, you can build that spectacular culture and enthusiasm in your workplace. Viva Connections allows you to do just that in following ways:

  1. Personalize

Delivering a modern, custom experience by pushing relevant content, information, and resources to your users in one place, enables a more purposeful way for your team to engage.

  1. Simplify

Personalizing your engagement platform not only makes the experience more tailored to your team members, but it also makes it easier for them. By customizing the dashboard to your preferred settings for navigation, appearance, and etcetera… you can simplify and therefore streamline communication throughout the application.

  1. Target

Keep your eyes on the prize, so-to-speak. If your goal is to build connection and unity within your company, then you need to get involved with resources that are built to specifically target that.

Ultimately, finding an application or tool that fits your teams’ specific needs for improved connection can be a major step to reaching your engagement goals.

How to Implement

Viva Connections integrates seamlessly into with Microsoft Teams where users will be able to access it. Your organization can easily deploy Viva Connections by building onto existing capabilities in Microsoft 365. Click here and let us help you and your team adopt viva connections today!

 

Outsourced IT: Maintaining Growth During Economic Downturn

Since the pandemic began in 2020, businesses have faced one financial strain after another. The economic state we’ve found ourselves today has certainly raised concerns. Although we are not currently in a recession -- most experts agree that we may be heading for one in the following year.

That being said, no one can really predict the future – especially not when it comes to economics. However, we can prepare for it. Regardless of what is thrown your way, rest assured that there are tools and resources that can help you can tighten the financial belt while also increasing revenue.

One key area of opportunity is in your very own IT infrastructure! In fact, there are many ways that you can leverage and optimize IT assets for growth, even during economic downturns.

Reduce Costs

Reducing costs are important for an onslaught of obvious reasons, but you may be surprised to find just how much an outsourced IT infrastructure fit can help your company’s cost-reduction.

Having fully staffed senior expertise in-house can be expensive. By outsourcing, you can provide your team and clients with the support of knowledgeable IT professionals at an affordable price. You can even find a plan that is customized to your business’s specific needs – learn more here!

Leveraging a quality MSP is not only a wise-investment in-and-of itself, but the money you save by making this calculated switch is then free to be invested further into revenue-building initiatives. More on than below.

Maintain and Increase Revenue

As we mentioned, saving money by utilizing external IT will allow you to re-invest that money into your revenue operations. But furthermore, by putting necessary but mundane tasks into the hands of outsourced IT support, you and your team are free to build upon key strategic ideas to bring in even more (you guessed it) revenue.

This makes outsourced IT a wise investment of both time and money, and only enables your company more access to resources that will allow it to thrive in any climate. Not to mention, you’ll be advancing your customer service during a time-period where nurturing long-term business relations is especially crucial.

With a quality MSP, you’ll still be able to meet your IT needs and while also satisfying the needs of your customers. Quality IT technicians with excellent customer support are a critical part of maintaining the business of clients.

It is important to note that where you outsource to is a critical part of your success. International IT companies are notoriously unsatisfactory for callers. Likewise, a spread-thin in-house IT team simply won’t be able to meet the demanding needs of customers.

That is why we encourage you to look for companies who can offer 24/7*365 support on a national level. This quality service allows you to really boost your position in the eyes of clients, form those lasting relations, and reap in new business via word-to-mouth marketing from satisfied clients.

Protect Data During Vulnerable Times

Not only does having the support of an MSP allow you to capitalize on areas of opportunity, but it also ensures that your key data is protected. It’s no secret that hackers are increasing their attacks daily, and they know that economic stress leaves companies vulnerable and spread thin.

Thriving though economic decline makes maintaining security, compliance, data protection all-the-more important. This can be achieved with a pro-active IT management approach when you leverage the support of outsourced IT experts.

In short, working with an MSP will enable to you focus on the important strategic decisions while also ensuring your data is secured.

In conclusion, as we go forward into the economic unknown of 2023 considering IT outsourcing can give you a leg up in the game. The right managed service provider can allow you to reduce costs, increase revenue, and keep that precious data protected in even the most tumultuous climate.

Also do keep in mind that even outside of economic crisis these benefits remain true for clients that utilize an MSP.Outsourced IT Service blog featured image depicting group of helpdesk workers at their desks.

“Our switch to Managed Solution was like a breath of fresh air. They carefully and competently analyzed our entire ecosystem and suggested changes (not one option, but multiple) to better our systems. There were a number of cost efficiencies put into place…”– Jeffrey G. Penta, CEO, San Diego Eye Bank”

(more…)

Featured image for Managed Solution blog titled "Microsoft 365 vs. Google workspace. Image of work team members gathered around a tablet.

Microsoft 365 vs. Google Workspace: The Best Option for Your Business

Choosing the right productivity platform for your business is no easy feat, especially when it comes to Microsoft 365 vs. Google Workspace. Unlike personal use, there are many aspects to consider beyond user-preference and comfortability. You want a platform that can not only meet your needs of today but grow with you as your company expands. There’s also the matter of efficiency, compatibility, pricing and more to weigh out.

Between Google and Microsoft, there is truly no obvious answer. There are, however, some key unique differences that may help you decide which option is ultimately best for your business.

As an MSP, Managed solution has worked with hundreds of businesses and helped them navigate the world of digital workspaces to find the right fit for them. In this article we’ll walk you through the two suites and clarify the differences so that you can move forward with the best option for you.

Products Overview

Let’s start with the basics. Below is a concise list of some of the more prominent products from both Google and Microsoft offices:

google workspace image featuring the key tools included in google workspace

Google:

Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites, etc…

       

Microsoft:

Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Planner, Viva, etc…

Of these products and applications, the work-based apps tend to be the first things businesses look at when faced with the great Microsoft v. Google dilemma. Between Docs and Word, Sheets and Excel, or Slides and PowerPoint – the general understanding is that Google’s offerings are more collaborative and user-friendly, while Microsoft tends to be the best choice for users needing powerful and robust solutions. For a more in-depth comparison of these applications, see what the experts at computerworld.com have to say!

Something else to consider here is that Microsoft’s Office Packages have the advantage of longevity. Therefore, if you utilize Google workplace, you will still likely work with other companies who utilize Microsoft Office Applications – to solve for this many companies on Google Workplace make separate local purchases of non-cloud-based Microsoft applications to be able to share and convert files with other Microsoft users.

To further consider which option will work better for you, consider your company-size and level of B2B communications. Do you need a more powerful, streamlined process provided by Microsoft 365 applications? Or will your team be able to work better with the more collaborative and accessible Google Workplace browser-based apps?

Email

Both Outlook and Gmail are renowned email applications. Here, the distinguishing factors boil down to simplicity vs. utility.

Gmail is the simpler option. To begin, it has much less tools on its interface compared to Outlook’s which some users prefer for easier navigation. However, with its new simplified Ribbon, Outlook has certainly made headway in becoming more user-friendly.

Outlook has all the email, contact and calendar features you can imagine. Microsoft has built-in capabilities you’ve likely never even thought of into this program. Whatever you need to accomplish within your email system, you can do it with Outlook.

The choice therefore mainly depends on how you and your team use email, and how much time you’re willing to spend learning new features. If you don’t have extensive or complex needs for your emailing service, Gmail will suit you just fine. Alternatively, if you and your team need more tools and utility for email, or if people in your organization have varying needs, consider opting for Outlook.

Data Security and Management

A key decision-making aspect that is often missed is the management and protection of your data. With the global increase in remote workers, cyber security is more important than ever. In fact, we have seen unprecedented increases in phishing attacks since 2020[link to data].

Security should therefore be top-of-mind in your decision-making process. Even the best user-features can’t make up for insufficient security. The golden rule here is that finding the right security resources for your business means finding the best security resources.

Here's what the experts at Computerworld.com had to say on the topic of security:

“…The simplified view in the Microsoft 365 admin center beats anything in Google Workspace because of how easily it lets you accomplish the most common tasks, including and editing new and existing users, changing licenses, paying bills, and installing Office on devices.

Interfaces aside, Microsoft 365 offers better admin account security, superior mobile administration, and more management controls. Both suites protect your data with enterprise-grade security and offer a central security center for managing user permissions and protections…”.

Because security is such a critical feature, we’ve got to stick with the experts here and agree that Microsoft is the reigning champion of security and safety. However, we have plenty of resources to help you take a deeper look at security between google and Microsoft.

Collaboration and Productivity

Another huge factor for many businesses is collaboration, especially in today’s digital age where so many employees are working from home. Both Google and Microsoft offer popular solutions, so the question here really boils down to your team's needs and preferences.

Microsoft Teams offers a virtually all-in-one solution that combines chats, digital meetings, and custom workspaces, while also offering seamless integration with other products like Outlook, SharePoint, and OneDrive. This makes Microsoft the best choice for users who prefer a more robust chat-centered solution to focus their collaborative efforts around.

Google, on the other hand, their communication applications focus on intuitive functionality and real-time collaboration. Because of the simplicity and user-friendly quality behind the interface, many people feel that Google ranks higher for collaboration.

Although Google is initially more effective for collaboration, productivity is ultimately hindered businesses begin to scale and find themselves needing more detailed work practices. Not to mention, storage of data and information becomes one of the key issues Google users face. Collaboration and productivity become hard to maintain when you can’t access lost or disorganized information.

Summary

Although so much of the great Microsoft 365 vs. Google Workspace debate boils down to personal preference of functionality – there are also certain aspects from each solution that cater better to certain demographics. Typically, many start-up/small businesses find that Google is an easier and cheaper fit for their needs due to its accessibility and collaborative capabilities.

However, as these businesses scale to more mid-market and even enterprise-level sizes – Microsoft’s robust solution packages streamline storage and communication processes better – while also providing a higher level of security and support.

Want to learn more about workplace solutions? Join our newsletter here and stay in the know!

Contact us Today!

Chat with an expert about your business’s technology needs.