25 Aug

Office 2007 End of Life roadmap – Part I

On October 10, 2017, Office 2007 will reach End of Life. If you haven’t already begun to upgrade your Office 2007 environment, we recommend you start now. It is high time. Being Microsoft Certified Partner, Network It Easy can provide useful deployment benefits for cloud migrations and for on-premises upgrades.

So what does End of Life mean?

Office 2007, like almost all Microsoft products, has a support lifecycle during which company provides new features, bug fixes, security fixes, and so on. Such a lifecycle typically lasts for 10 years from the date of the product’s initial release, and the end of this lifecycle is known as the product’s End of Life. When Office 2007 reaches its End of Life on October 10, 2017, Microsoft will no longer provide:

  • Technical support for issues
  • Bug fixes for issues that are discovered
  • Security fixes for vulnerabilities that are discovered

In addition, as of October 31, 2017, Outlook 2007 will be unable to connect to Office 365 mailboxes, which means Outlook 2007 clients using Office 365 will not be able to receive and send mail. Because of the changes listed above, we strongly recommend that you upgrade as soon as possible.

This is a good time to explore your options and prepare an upgrade plan. You can:

  • Upgrade to Office 365 ProPlus, the subscription version of Office that comes with many Office 365 plans.
  • Upgrade to Office 2016, which is sold as a one-time purchase and available for one computer per license.
  • Upgrade to an earlier version of Office, such as Office 2013.

If you think you cannot manage that process on your own, contact us and will be happy to help. In our next post, we’ll show you what Office 365 ProPlus is, so stay tuned.

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14 Aug

The Importance of Regular Network Security Assessments

We often forget that periodically assessing our IT security is an important part of our organization’s preventive maintenance plan. Security is mostly an invisible attribute, we tend to set it up and then forget about it. But each of us has our blind spots, causing us to miss things. Our infrastructure changes over time, possibly opening it up to new vulnerabilities. And new methods of attack are invented daily, so what was secure yesterday may not be secure today. Think of your company as of your car with a list of scheduled maintenance tasks and create a similar list of security features to be checked on a regular basis. Undoubtedly you can perform some of them yourself, but nothing can replace an independent expertize.

An increasing number of organizations are bound by governmental regulations that dictate what security measures you should have in place and how they should be audited. HIPAA, PCI, FISMA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Gramm-Leach-Bliley all dictate how to secure different types of data and the systems that manage it. They also require regular security posture assessments, though they vary on specific requirements and time frames.

There are many benefits to doing periodic assessments beyond simply complying with government regulations. Undertaking regular assessments can help you to:

  • Find out whether your security has already been compromised. According to FBI there are two kinds of companies; those that have been hacked and those that don’t know they were hacked.
  • Stay on top of the latest security threats — with new attacks coming on the scene every day, you could become vulnerable even if nothing has changed since your last assessment!
  • Educate your employees – increase their awareness and understanding of security issues.
  • Let your customers know that security is important to you and that you care about them and their data.

 

Here are some categories that you need to pay attention to, if you want to make sure that your network security assessments are done diligently:

  • Check out in which ways your security can be compromised from the inside or outside, from both internal and external sources of attack. It is not enough to audit your firewall rules, you need to know if hackers can gather information through a company directory posted on the Internet.
  • Check how well have you been keeping up with patches? These are areas you need to pay attention to: operating systems on servers and workstations; infrastructure services such as email and DNS; enterprise applications including Web applications and databases; and desktop productivity applications. So, are you following your patch policies?
  • Assess and re-assess how your network is defended at its perimeter, and how well it is segmented internally to limit the damage that can be caused by prying eyes or errant applications. Audit both your device configurations and your update procedures and policies.
  • Write down your security policies to give your employees guidance and you a benchmark with which to compare your performance.
  • Use encryption to secure internal and external communication, including between layers of software.
  • Viruses can come from practically anywhere: from an employee’s home laptop, from visiting a malicious Web site, from an infected USB drive. How well is your antivirus software working, and how prepared are you to stop viruses if your countermeasures fail?
  • Develop a policy that dictates how complex user passwords must be and when users are forced to change them. Make sure you are auditing it periodically by running password-cracking software.
  • Assess how well your organization works, how well your procedures are documented, and how well your staff members keep up to date with their field.
  • Remember that backups are important part of your security strategy; verify that they work by actually restoring your data.
  • You may be bound by governmental regulations dictating how you secure and manage your business data and your customer information. Whether your organization falls under HIPAA, FISMA or PCI DSS you need to do a risk assessment. Self-assessment is surely a good thing, but in order to prepare for a full compliance audit it’s important to get an independent outside consultant to perform this critical assessment.

 

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03 Aug

Introducing Microsoft 365

Last month at Inspire, Microsoft unveiled Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, delivering a complete, intelligent and secure solution to empower employees. It represents a fundamental shift in how we will design, build and go to market to address our customers’ needs for a modern workplace.

With more than 100 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365, and more than 500 million Windows 10 devices in use, Microsoft is in a unique position to help companies empower their employees, unlocking business growth and innovation. To address the commercial needs from the largest enterprise to the smallest business, the company is introducing Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Business.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is designed for large organizations and integrates Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise and Enterprise Mobility + Security to empower employees to be creative and work together, securely. Microsoft 365 Enterprise:

  • Unlocks creativity by enabling people to work naturally with ink, voice and touch, all backed by tools that utilize AI and machine learning.
  • Provides the broadest and deepest set of apps and services with a universal toolkit for teamwork, giving people flexibility and choice in how they connect, share and communicate.
  • Simplifies IT by unifying management across users, devices, apps and services.
  • Helps safeguard customer data, company data and intellectual property with built-in, intelligent security.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is offered in two plans—Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5. Both are available for purchase as of August 1, 2017.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is built on the foundation of the highly successful Secure Productive Enterprise, which grew seats by triple digits in the last year. Going forward, Microsoft 365 Enterprise replaces Secure Productive Enterprise to double-down on the new customer promise of empowering employees to be creative and work together, securely.

Microsoft 365 Business is designed for small- to medium-sized businesses with up to 300 users and integrates Office 365 Business Premium with tailored security and management features from Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. It offers services to empower employees, safeguard the business and simplify IT management. Microsoft 365 Business:

  • Helps companies achieve more together by better connecting employees, customers and suppliers.
  • Empowers employees to get work done from anywhere, on any device.
  • Protects company data across devices with always-on security.
  • Simplifies the set-up and management of employee devices and services with a single IT console.

Microsoft 365 Business is available in public preview starting August 2, 2017. It will become generally available on a worldwide basis in the fall (CYQ3) of 2017.

As a part of Microsoft commitment to small-to-medium sized customers, they’re also announcing the preview of three tailored applications that are coming to Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business:

  • Microsoft Connections—A simple-to-use email marketing service.
  • Microsoft Listings—An easy way to publish your business information on top sites.
  • Microsoft Invoicing—A new way to create professional invoices and get paid fast.

 

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