SMS-based two-factor authentication, where the user typically receives a passcode text message to their smartphone that acts as a secondary confirmation of who they are, has been a staple of online banking and many other secure online services needing two-factor authentication (2FA) for over a decade.
However many now believes even SMS can be intercepted, and would rather sign users onto authenticator apps or issue secure keys with encoded passcode generation.
Official Microsoft statistics state that users who enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on their accounts to verify identity block 99.9% of all automated account breaches. Using SMS-based two-factor authentication should not ‘stop’ doing so (despite the flaws of SMS, any 2FA is better than none) but users should consider swapping to other methods.
However this modification to Microsoft’s advice will see more of a driving force behind MFA as specifically biometric, authenticator app or secure-key based, rather than relying on mobile networks for one-time passcodes.
For cybersecurity expertise and support, please contact out IT team today.
Google Drive trash will soon impose a new 30-day automatic deletion deadline on trashed files.
At present users may delete files, but these are retained indefinitely in their Google Drive trash until deleted manually – causing a loss of storage space, encouraging hoarding of files, and convincing users that they need not worry about file retention limits.
The change, which begins on October 13th, brings Google Drive more into line with Gmail and other free Google Services – as well as rivals such as Microsoft OneDrive and Dropox – which also auto-empty trashed files after set periods. New warnings inside Google Drive will notify all users.
You can learn more on the GSuite updates blog, published here. As before, G-Suite admins will have the ability to recover post-trash deletion for a further 25 days, although this is a hard limit and only available for active users.
Lineal Software Solutions Ltd. has become the only current VMware Enterprise Partner across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.
Enterprise Partners can both provide and implement the most advanced and specialised VMware solutions to the market – including cloud infrastructure and mobile device management solutions alongside datacentre products.
Previously one of the South West’s few VMware Professional Solution Providers, Lineal achieved the coveted status of Enterprise Solution Partner after engineers and other staff successfully passed an extensive series of examinations to qualify for the highly sought-after industry accreditation. VMware Partners are expected to maintain current subject knowledge and the 2018 series of assessments are particularly challenging, requiring considerable experience and understanding to achieve the high standards set by VMware.
Lineal’s Managing Director Mike Matthews explained: “VMware’s virtualisation solutions are renowned as some of the world’s most sophisticated, most demanded, and most secure technology.”
“The ability to manage virtualised computing, network infrastructure, storage and more has made VMware the worldwide market-leader for cloud-based computing and software-defined data centres.”
“In particular, we’re very excited to be offering VMware Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions built on the latest Workspace ONE platform to organisations that need device security and compliance assurance measures in place.”
“This is an emerging requirement for more and more organisations of all sizes, and as a VMware partner in Devon, we look forward to delivering real innovation using VMWare to build the next generation of datacentre, MDM and application delivery platforms for our clients.”
For VMWare expertise and support, contact our IT Support team today.
Google looks set to replace Google Drive with Google One, a broader ranging storage service designed to incorporate storage across a whole range of Google services.
Google One will be available with up to 15GB storage for free (as with Google Drive now), $1.99 a month for 100GB, $2.99 for 200GB, 2TB for $9.99. It’s not yet clear whether these prices will be adjusted for UK users.
Drive users will be migrated to the new service over the ‘coming months’ and can stay updated by email by subscribing with Google here.
Google Drive has been able to handle direct sync from Android’s photos app, and more advanced tasks like full PC backup, or on-demand file sync on the business version, for a while now – but the new platform unifies the offering under a shared storage allowance.
There are also other nods to a more ‘iCloud like’ service – including shared plans for families, a support service, and promotional customer benefits like discounts for other products.
For now, the new app appears to be a unifying ‘personal’ platform (rather than a more formal ‘work’ platform like Microsoft Office 365.) Google are hoping to centralise your personal life such that desktop PC files, data and media generated by a whole pantheon of Android apps all will are share a central storage plan. The tech giant’s target of making ‘life simpler and less cluttered’ with Google One is being kept at arms-length from G-Suite business customers.
One simple way to get more out of Google? If you’re using Android, this could make a lot of sense.
For assistance and advice in adopting cloud-based technologies: contact Lineal today.
Many of the big names in software, including Microsoft’s Office 365, Google’s G-Suite and other popular products such as ESET’s antivirus range, have been offered with significant discounts for the education sector through partner resellers, in the hope of capturing the next generation of technology users early, and contributing to wider learning.
In each case, the gesture is undoubtedly a worthy public relations boost, with Adobe also pledging to support workshop schemes to show educators how to teach with Adobe’s suite of creative apps in the classroom.
In both cases early access is especially important for Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes Photoshop, Lightroom, InDesign and many other leading creative apps, because of the very high high barrier to entry: both creatively and by cost – despite the software brand being simply unrivaled across the creative sector.
Adobe clearly hopes the dramatically reduced Adobe discount pricing will wet the appetite of larger organisations, and introduce high quality design apps to a much wider audience at an earlier age.
Google Drive client will be replaced with separate Personal and Business applications from March 2018 – here’s what you need to know.
Officially deprecated already according to Google, the existing Google Drive desktop folder (an automatic excuse for an argument among team Lineal) will instead be led-by its existing backup and sync facility in the personal edition of the new software, becoming Google ‘Backup and Sync’.
New users will already be prompted to install the inelegantly named ‘Backup and Sync’ when downloading Google Drive’s old desktop client.
Functionally similar once you become familiar with where the application resides and make a desktop shortcut for the file, backup and sync computer backup can be denied if you’d prefer to configure your Google Drive client to run like the old version.
Attentive Google Drive users will note the software itself has only changed emphasis – Google Drive has had the ability to backup an entire PC or Mac’s designated folders for some time, but the new client prioritises this such that users are encouraged to work this way by default, and put ever more of their data into the cloud automatically.
Cloud-based files will be available if you are connected to the internet, but won’t automatically sync a local copy unless prompted to – helping larger organisations cut down on both the amount of both network traffic and unnecessary storage use on user devices. Your laptop just became a kind of Chromebook: very efficient for space and allowing much better use of high-performing SSD storage on ultra-portable devices.
Team Lineal are particularly impressed by Drive File Stream, but can’t help but feel the distinction will be confusing to less-technical users. Where Google Drive shines is in it’s simplicity: and this might become a little tarnished from next year.
Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform has taken the business world by storm, adding a record 120 thousand customers every month last year, 6 million total users, and holding an estimated 1.4 million SQL databases.
If you’re not technical, you could be forgiven for being unsure of what it actually is or how it works. We can’t hope to cover the over six hundred potential applications, but here’s a crash course guide to understanding Azure.
What is it?
Microsoft Azure is a business ‘cloud computing’ service created by Microsoft for operating IT applications and services from the cloud.
Everything run, tested, built, shared, stored (and more) from Azure exists in one or more of a number of secure Microsoft data centres around the World (or via a local service if you prefer.)
OK, but what is it actually?
Think servers. Lots and lots of servers. Locked down, climate controlled warehouses full of servers humming away running every computing process imaginable from email to databases, virtual desktops to machine learning, file storage to phone apps.
Customers who purchase Microsoft Azure services get access, via the internet, to a tiny fraction of this worldwide supercomputing infrastructure, with the option to run a huge variety of potential services in the cloud.
Azure itself has no-upfront charges, and is instead billed by the minute based on usage and the computing demands of the service purchased.
Why is that good?
This is instant access computing. Need 50 extra virtual servers by this afternoon? Tap a few buttons and they’re available.
The staggering economies of scale means Microsoft always has practically unlimited scalable computing power available, on demand, at subscription pricing.
The ability to spin up temporary services (impossibly impractical if you tried to resort to urgently buying physical hardware) and remove them again, allows businesses to react instantly and cost-effectively to even the most wildly fluctuating IT demands.
Even more mundane computing processes – such as large numbers of hosted desktop sessions can be delivered from Azure, without being such a logistical challenge.
OK, but what if it goes wrong?
Azure is reliable. Crazily reliable. Microsoft’s uptime statistics are as dependable as you would expect from their leading enterprise cloud service – in 2015 achieving a remarkable 99.9936% of annual uptime.
Much as with other Microsoft Cloud services (like Office 365’s OneDrive) an array of backup procedures ensures copies of data stored are protected and duplicates available for recovery. Virtualisation, where everything runs in an isolated software environment kept independent of the physical hardware, means individual drives and servers are expendable – your IT lives on, supported by the rest of the hundreds of remaining server racks.
Microsoft are discrete about their security, but in a data centre empire where every email is tested through a minimum of 3 independent antivirus services, it’s safe to say both physical and digital security is extremely tight. Centralised infrastructure also gives Azure (and every Azure customer) the kind of specialist professional and cybersecurity defences unavailable to all but the very largest enterprise corporations.
Need access to the remaining 0.0064% of the year? Remember that for at least half of the World’s inhabitants, it’s likely these 29 minutes of annual downtime will fall whilst you’re asleep.
Do I need a computing PHD to use it?
Yes and no. Anyone can, in theory, get started with a free account (and $150 of free credits) today from Azure’s website, and test out the service.
The interface is relatively intuitive and, like all Microsoft’s cloud services, works consistently across tablet and mobile devices if you wish to play about with Microsoft’s cloud until your free credits have expired.
However, in reality what you demand of the infrastructure is likely to require a more complex setup. Unless you’re a true enthusiast with some special requirements, Azure’s cloud infrastructure is like a private helicopter: not really optimal for personal use (and there are far more sensible options available)
Cost by the minute also means that, when choosing from the bewildering array of virtual machine specs and other services available, it would be easy to overspend if you’re not careful. Indeed part of Azure’s business model is based on ambitious, technology-hungry companies biting off slightly more than they can chew.
To make sure your Azure deployment is both effective and proportional to your budget, call the experts.
Lineal are a Gold Microsoft Partner – contact us today: 01271 375999
Lineal’s foreign correspondent this week travelled to London for the Gamma Roadshow 2017: where a host of Gamma’s most interesting new products and services were showcased to a capacity crowd at the Barbican.
Gamma’s extremely flexible cloud-based telecoms offering has been one of Lineal’s most popular new products, and has taken the wider business telecoms sector by storm: with more than a quarter of a million Gamma Horizon phones now in use across the UK.
As a Accredited Gamma Partner, we were most impressed with:
Special pricing for the educational and charity sectors – keeping Horizon phone systems competitive in sectors where cost-effectiveness is especially important.
Cloud compute – Gamma’s partnership with Amazon web services offers the chance for companies who had previously moved their PBX to the cloud to begin virtualising other server assets as well, where the limits of technical knowledge would have held many back. It’s early days for Gamma’s Cloud Compute, but expect this to begin making waves in the IT world.
New integrator options: the full list of CRM systems which integrate directly with ‘call-to-click’, shared contacts directories and more, is now exhaustive, with Gamma adding TAPI integration – it’s hard to imagine that Horizon won’t fit your existing software.
Converged – Gamma mobile enters the big leagues, with Gamma Sims that run a ‘roaming in the UK’ system named ‘Multinet’ and using the native dialler of the phone. Without the need for an App, this is true mobility, and your mobile really will be a true extension of your Gamma landline.
PCI Compliance – the extraordinary flexibility of Gamma Horizon phone systems had only been held back in more sensitive environments by it’s own call recording, which hadn’t been PCI compliant. New tools for PCI compliance change this, and opens up Gamma’s phone systems to payment centres for the first time.
The Gamma Roadshow is a chance for UK Gamma Partners to give feedback and receive news on Gamma’s latest developments – with this year’s roadshow, Gamma have clearly acted on that feedback and their voice, data, mobile and cloud computing platforms are stronger for it.
Microsoft’s Office 365 Team have announced the availability of multiple UK data centres for customer data.
The move follows increasingly strict rules on data compliance in the financial, security, health and public sectors – with more cloud IT users looking to ensure their data remains safely located in the UK.
Prospective customers considering the implications of Office 365 are able to view the locations of Microsoft’s uk data centres with this online ‘Where Is My Data?’ map, which now displays both the additional data centres and the Microsoft cloud services they support, in both London and Durham, with a third site anticipated for Cardiff.
Office365 and Azure Users will also have the ability to ‘re-locate’ their data from regional data centres (in most cases based within mainland Europe) to the new UK service.
In addition to the security and legal advantages for protecting sensitive data, cloud users of Office 365 are likely to benefit from lower costs, online backups and collaborative, remote access to files.
For now, the ability to re-locate Office365 or Azure data to the UK is likely to be restricted, with priority expected to be given to high-profile UK public sector customers including NHS Trusts and the Ministry of Defence – the latter mirroring many customers belated move to the cloud, upgrading legacy on-site systems in use since 2005.
The new infrastructure has been widely praised, with Microsoft clearly investing heavily in addressing the doubts many have about moving their IT to the cloud; reducing Office365 downtime to just 4 hours per year, and now re-locating data within country of origin for compliance with a high standard of data protection.
Contact Lineal for advice on moving to the cloud, or for a free trial of Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium, click here.
Here at Lineal some of our most popular services are cloud-based, but this invaluable business tool doesn’t come entirely without pitfalls.
Cloud computing, storing your data and performing other IT functions over a shared ‘Cloud’ hosted by a third party, provides a wealth of possibilities. Accessible over an internet connection, storing files in the cloud means that a safe record of your data is kept on a remote servers should anything happen to your PC’s hard drive. For smaller businesses the small monthly investment in cloud computing avoids a huge capital expense for hardware, and gives a quicker return on investment.
Securing documents in the cloud also mean they can be easily accessed by team members in different locations or from different devices. Cloud-based services like Microsoft’s Office 365 even allow teams of users to collaboratively edit said shared files in real time from different places.
Yet Cloud computing has drawbacks too: for anyone dealing with very large data sizes (graphic design work, 3D modelling, video files and similar) most cloud systems will not be practical given long upload times. If your business is located somewhere with less reliable internet, over-reliance on cloud services may even hinder your business continuity if something fails.
If you’re storing confidential personal information, financial or medical details abroad, will your provider comply with UK data protection laws? How about your organisation’s own security procedures?
Above all – just how ‘remote’ should remote backup be? This is both the strength and weakness of cloud services – an unknown, distant server provides a safe backup vault for data until you need to manually access it. Storing your data in Germany, the United States or even further afield may be a cheap fix, until you need to book flights to access the hardware!
Our Verdict? Cloud computing is at its strongest when business users plan for contingencies. Never choose a provider so distant you can’t speak to a real person, or will have difficulty physically recovering backups if the very worst happens. Here at Lineal we know that we can always courier a physical backup to your business in the event that your IT suffers an unlikely disaster.