Why business users might consider an Ultrabook over a Tablet.

It seems that tablet computers are in the news daily, from Apple’s iPad (iOS) to Microsoft’s Surface (Windows RT) to Samsung’s Galaxy (Droid).  I like a tablet for viewing, but typing on a bare tablet is not the same as using a full keyboard.  Also, compatibility with office-productivity applications is limited on most tablets.
Ultrabooks are not getting the same press, but for those who want that keyboard and a few ports with their computer, ultrabooks are smaller, thinner, and lighter than notebook computers; they come with Microsoft Windows 8 (or can be legally downgraded to Windows 7) for full compatibility with your office applications.
Tablets have a clear advantage on weight, price, and screen resolution; perfect for viewing (inexpensively) movies, reading books, checking reports, etc.  Ultrabooks usually have greater storage capacity and can support legacy items like DVDs, making them a better replacement for your notebook or desktop computer.
Basically, it comes down to usage and preference; both ultrabooks and tablets continue to evolve, taking features from one another.  There are more tablets out there, but ultrabooks, many now with the touch-screen capabilities of Windows 8, are evolving and coming on strong.
InformationWeek has an informative article Tablet Vs. Ultrabook: 10 Ways to Choose by Jeff Bertolucci on choosing between a tablet and an ultrabook. 
ComputerWorld has the article 3 Windows 8 ultrabooks: Lightweight and powerful  by Brian Nadel who briefly compares ultrabooks (favorably) to tablets before reviewing ultrabook models from HP, Sony, and Toshiba.

System Builders Await Surface’s Impact

Gavin Livingstone, President of Bryley Systems, talks to Channel Pro Networkabout Microsoft’s Surface tablet.  Read the full article System Builders Await Surface’s Impact

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Garin Livingstone Passes his Windows 7 Exam!

Congrats Garin Livingstone, Bryley Systems Senior Tech, for successfully completing and passing your Windows 7 configuring class and test!!! image

Studies suggest cyber-security overconfidence in small/medium businesses

In a recent survey by Symantec and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), most small and medium-sized businesses participating felt they were safe from cyber threats, although just 17% of the 1,015 companies had a formal plan for cyber security.  Other contradictory items:

  • Although 77% recognized that strong cyber security was important for their brand, 59% had no plan on how to respond to a data breach.
  • Only 13% had a written Internet policy, but 62% believed that their employees knew the company’s Internet policy and practices.

 

Visit Small biz survey: No cybersecurity plans — no worries. What? for the full CNet article by Charles Cooper.

 

In a separate survey during the fall of 2011, research firm Opinion Matterspolled 200 IT decision makers working in companies of five to 250 employees.  Although almost 88% had web-monitoring/filtering software, over 40% of respondents have had a security breach due to unsafe web browsing.

 

Visit 40% of SMB have had a security breach due to unsafe Web surfingfor the full ConnectIT article by Mark Cox.

 

Both studies suggest that these businesses are not as secure as they think.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), October is the month to promote Cyber Security Awareness, which “…encourages people to do their part to make their online lives safe and secure.”

 

The NCSA’s philosophy is that safe browsing is a shared responsibility: “Everyone has a role in securing their part of cyber space, including the devices and networks they use.”  NCASM provides a focal point for participants to educate others about safe and secure usage.  Its three-part mantra:

  • Stop – Understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems
  • Think – Consider how your usage of the Internet could impact others
  • Connect – Proceed with confidence now that you know what to expect

 

The official presidential proclamation states that NCASM is the time to “…recommit to ensuring that our information and infrastructure remain secure, reliable, and resilient”.

 

Business users may visit Keep My Business Safe for details on how to secure their businesses.  There are safety tips for individuals and some free security-checkup tools.

Cybercrime targets smaller organizations

A recent Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) from Verizon notes that 98% of data breaches stemmed from external sources using hacking techniques (81%) and malware (69%).  About 79% of the data breaches were directed at “targets of opportunity”, typically smaller organizations that are vulnerable through an “exploitable weakness”; most attacks were performed using relatively unsophisticated methods.

Of the breaches investigated, 94% involved computer-network servers; 85% took weeks or longer to discover.  Of those discovered, “97% were avoidable through simple or intermediate controls”.

Wade Baker, Verizon’s security research director, told London’s The Inquirer that cyber-criminals target small and mid-sized organizations since larger enterprises are well defended.

Basic suggestions:

  • Scan emails for malware and threats
  • Require complex passwords that change frequently
  • Restrict access-control and review event logs periodically
  • Deploy a physical firewall and maintain/update it periodically
  • Restrict web-surfing, especially on computers with access to sensitive data
  • Install malware-prevention software, update it continuously, and scan often
  • Train employees on proper security policies and common threats

(Note: These are areas where Bryley Systems can help; please call us at 978.562.6077 or email Info@Bryley.com.)

See CSO’s Thwarted by Security at enterprises, cyber criminals target SMBs for comments and suggestions.

 

Visit http://www.verizonbusiness.com/resources/reports/rp_data-breach-investigations-report-2012_en_xg.pdf  summary.

Migrating Postini users to Google Apps for Business; also, an alternative

As mentioned in our August 2012 Bryley Tips and Information, Google has moved Google Message Security (GMS)/Postini into Google Apps for Business and will migrate all GMS/Postini customers to Google Apps for Business by the end of 2013.

 

Google will migrate GMS/Postini users gradually, focusing initially on its large, direct-billed customers and eventually tackling those customers purchasing through GMS/Postini resellers (Bryley Systems is a GMS/Postini reseller.).  By December 31, 2013, all former GMS/Postini customers should be migrated.

 

Google has not yet disclosed significant details about this migration process, but we believe that it will require, at a minimum, these steps for each customer:

  • Setup a Google Apps for Business account
  • Export GMS/Postini rules and import them into Google Apps for Business
  • Migrate user accounts from GMS/Postini to Google Apps for Business
  • Change the MX Record for the email-server address

 

If you use Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes for your email, the email-protection-and-filtering component of Google Apps for Business will be available at the same price through your agreement term.  However, your price could increase if you add any other Google Apps for Business features to your account.

 

McAfee, a security company owned by Intel Corporation, offers an alternative to those that do not wish to migrate to Google Apps for Business.  Their service is McAfee® SaaS Email Protection and Continuity(MEPC).  (Bryley Systems is a long-term reseller of MEPC and other McAfee security products.)

 

MEPC features include:

  • Spam filtering,
  • Protection against malware and SMTP-based attacks, and
  • Continuity.  (Continuity provides web-based access to email, both receiving as well as sending, when your email server is down.  Also, once your email server is running, your web-based emails automatically resynchronize with your email server.)

 

McAfee also offers:

  • McAfee® SaaS Web Protection – Web-content filtering
  • McAfee® SaaS Email Archiving – Stand-along email archiving
  • McAfee® SaaS Email Encryption Service – Email encryption add-on to MEPC

 

For details, please call us at 978.562.6077.  Or, email Sales@Bryley.com.

Windows Server options

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 will be released September 4th.  Microsoft streamlined server-edition options to four and discontinued Home Server, Small Business Server, and Enterprise Edition.

 

Windows Server 2012 editions:

  • Foundation – Up to 15 users; OEM-only, so purchased with hardware
  • Essentials – Up to 25 users with cloud-enablement features
  • Standard – Unlimited users; includes two virtual instances
  • Data Center – Unlimited users and virtual instances

 

Server discontinuations:

  • Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2011 will be discontinued on June 30, 2013.  To get SBS functionality, you will need to purchase Windows Server and Exchange Server separately.  (Software Assurance, Microsoft’s maintenance option, for SBS has been discontinued as of July 31, 2012.)
  • Windows Enterprise Server has been discontinued
  • Windows Home Server has been discontinued

 

Specific editions with pricing are noted atWindows Server 2012 Editions.

Protect your mobile device – Part 3: Enforcement, Tools, and First Steps

We have explored the importance of setting policies and training users on mobile device security and management; now, we wrap-up with how to enforce these policies, recommended tools, and first steps to mobile device security.

 

Enforcement

 

Enforcement is usually assisted through a Mobile Device Management (MDM) tool; typically a software-based application that requires an agent be installed to the mobile device.  Once installed, this agent connects back (remotely) to a central console from which an administrator can monitor, manage, and secure the mobile device and also support its user.

 

MDM features typically include:

  • Enforce user security policy:

o   Require complex password with frequent changes

o   Permit remote access only via SSL or VPN

o   Lock-down browser settings

o   Enable encryption

  • Recover lost or stolen devices:

o   Activate alarm (set off an audible alarm on the device)

o   Enable track and locate (track and locate the device via GPS)

o   Permit remote wipe (complete erasure of the device as a last resort)

  • Control mobile device applications:

o   Recognize and prevent installation of unauthorized applications

o   Permit whitelisting and blacklisting of application

o   Restrict or block application stores

  • Remotely deploy and configure applications (email, etc.)
  • Audit the mobile device for installed software, configuration, and capacity

 

ComputerWorld has a comprehensive article on the challenges of MDM. View it at

Mobile device management: Getting started.

 

To support our mobile device clients, we use the MDM capabilities built intoKaseya, our Remote Monitoring and Management tool.  Other MDM providers include:

  • AirWatch
  • LabTech
  • MobileIron
  • Symantec
  • Zenprise

 

While MDM provides a comprehensive tool, it can be costly to procure and support.  Many companies utilize a trusted business partner (like Bryley) to provide MDM tooling, monitoring, and support for their mobile devices on an ongoing basis with pricing that ranges from $15 (in quantity) to $75 per device per month.

 

Non-MDM Tools

 

Alternatively, Microsoft Exchange 2010 offers many MDM-type features through Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), an included protocol that licenses by end-user or end-device Client Access License (CAL).  The Exchange 2010 Standard CAL licenses:

  • Password security policies
  • Encryption required
  • Remote wipe

 

The Exchange 2010 Enterprise Add-On CAL licenses advanced features including:

  • Allow/disallow Internet browser, consumer email, unsigned installation, etc.
  • Allow/disallow removable storage, Wi-Fi, Internet sharing, etc.
  • Allow/block specific applications
  • Per-user journaling
  • Integrated archive

 

Exchange Server Standard 2010 is $709; Standard CALs are $68 each while the Enterprise Add-On CAL is an additional $42 each (based on list prices for business).

 

Main difference between MDM and EAS: Most MDM tools provide greater control over the mobile device during its lifecycle and can provide control over the device even before email is configured.

 

Other recommended tools include:

  • Anti-malware: AVG Mobilation – From free to $9.99 for Pro version
  • Protect and find phone via key-case fob – Kensington Bungee Air at $79.99

 

First step suggestions

 

These are our minimum, first-step suggestions:

  • Deploy anti-malware software immediately and manage it continuously
  • Require password to activate the device with a low auto-lock time
  • Update mobile devices through vendor-approved patching
  • Enable on-board encryption if handling sensitive data

 

Visit 10 Steps to Secure Your Mobile Device for detailed recommendations on securing your mobile device.