Office Document Strategies Blog

Lee Kirkby

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Pay Attention To Avoid Ransomware

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 @ 07:12 AM

At the risk of appearing to hammer the topic to death it is time to take another crack at warnings about Ransomware Malware attacks.  

This time of year is potentially even more challenging to IT managers and users alike as everyone is rushing to get things done before the holiday season really locks in.  It means that normal caution can easily be thrown away as people try to clear their email, deal with online activities and perhaps not take that extra two seconds that avoidance can take.

Why now?  Simply because the predators can.  A recent IT World Canada article outlines how late last month Carlton University had over 3000 of their computers affected, some in research labs by an attempted ransom ware attack.  It appears that the IT people got it under control pretty quickly and it was isolated to only a portion of the university network.

It did mean however that thousands of students, faculty and administrators were unable to use the network for a period of time while the details of the attack were sorted through.  Eventually, users were advised they could login to their network but many hours of productive time was lost due to the issues.

Another attack in Calgary saw that university paying out $20,000 to the ransomers.  Again much time and effort was expended to deal with the circumstances.  These are just two of the known instances where Canadian organizations have been impacted by such attacks.

The are for certain many others where users and organizations have not publicized their problems with malware.

 For some reason Canada is reported as being more prepared to send compensation for removing the attack when compared to other jurisdictions.  Why this would be the case is subject to speculation but unfortunately if it gets known in the perpetrators world it could lead to Canadian targets becoming even more frequent.

What do you do?

The first line of defense is the users on the network.  Encouraging everyone to take a little time to investigate whether an email from an unfamiliar source is legit.  If a user is not CERTAIN of the sender then the default response should be to NO OPEN IT.  Either delete it and take the chance someone legit has to try again, or contact IT support to have it checked out.  

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Topics: data security, network security, IT Scams

Datto Drive A New Secure File Share Service

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 @ 08:11 AM

If you have been a user of DropBox, Google Drive, Boxx etc. then you should look at Datto Drive right away.

Sign Me Up For MY 1TB FREE

As part of their introductory offer the first 1 million signups will receive one year's access to 1Terrabyte of storage FREE.  This permits substantial use of the service to easily test whether your need is worth considering a paid subscription thereafter available at a low $10 month for unlimited users after first year.

There are many file sharing services available that start as a primarily consumer focused product and which can expand into a business and enterprise solution.  For most of these there are limitations built in either from a cost or a security based approach.  In addition for Canadian based businesses there are concerns with data jurisdiction since being able to specify where you data is stored is not necessarily one of the features of most of them.

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Topics: data security, digital tools, digital filing

Black Friday For The Print Industry?

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 @ 08:11 AM

In the next few days and all of next week we are going to continue to be inundated with ads for all kinds of Black Friday related promotions, offers and specials.  In addition the popular media will be telling stories of all kinds of things people are doing to be sure they get to take advantage of the Black Friday deals whether it is camping out to be first in line, working as a team to make sure they get to all of their preferred sales or simply stories about how important this period is to the success of retailers. 

Of course in Canada Black Friday is not as key to everyone's lives as it is in the US since the sales are not as giant, the weekend is not always the biggest sales day of the retail year and the focus is a little less hectic since we have already celebrated our Thanksgiving and our retailers usually save their best for Boxing Day.

Then there is Cyber Monday next week which kicks off the primary online sales period designed to match Black Friday and extend the frenzy into the online sales fields.

Commercial markets don't fully mimic retail

For businesses focused on the commercial market and who sell primarily to other businesses Black Friday is not quite the same.  Since most commercial business is less emotionally driven than consumer sales the excitement of a Black Friday is pretty hard to build and is hard to replicate across varied industries.

There are however periods in every business type where opportunities can exist both for sellers and for purchasers to create something with a part of the energy that seems to fill the Black Friday period.

Think of Open Houses, Anniversary Sales, Industry Workshops, Trade Shows as some of the commercially supported Black Friday proxies designed to bring buyers and sellers together in ways to make deals happen.

Characteristics

To become a Black Friday proxy the activity needs to exhibit some specific characteristics:

  • Offer enough special value to get people talking about it
  • Be time sensitive, with only a short duration to take up the promo
  • Offer limited range of special promotion items or services
  • Be publicly promoted at least to a set target potential group of purchasers
  • Provide unique value that is not going to be replicated soon again
  • Focus on rapid deployment and as close to instant return as possible.

 

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Topics: sales

Wind Power May Have Value Without Subsidy | Microsoft Buy

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 @ 08:11 AM

Recent announcements about Microsoft contracting for massive amounts of wind generated power to run several of its data centres causes me to think that this kind of  renewable energy just may have a good life without massive government structured subsidies.  

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Topics: technology tools, Canadian Legislation, Environment, Canadian Pricing

3D Printing Is Much More Than We Might Think

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 @ 08:11 AM

When 3D printing was first talked about what we saw was neat production of small plastic parts that might be used to assembly a toy, a display or some sort of interesting art object. Today this type of use is become pretty mainstream with small 3D printers being introduced for home or office use either for educational benefit or for design display. 

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Topics: technology tools, Printer

Paying For Online Mobility

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 @ 07:11 AM

Anyone who travels frequently whether on business or for pleasure quickly confronts the challenge of determining the right solution to obtaining online flexibility especially for data. 

Most roaming plans restrict substantially, the level of data that you can use and the upcharges for going over the plan can be large.  For that reason people often start seeking out free wifi in all kinds of locations.  Unfortunately, free wifi can be pretty cumbersome.

I recently experienced this on a personal trip where we were using campgrounds to stay over night.  Virtually all of them offered some sort of 'free' wifi on their site.  The quality and usability of their connections varied substantially and did not equate to the price of the stay.  In fact the poorest connection was in the campground where we paid the highest rate per night and the best connection was in the one where we obtained and end of season discount rate for staying.  Luckily our daily connection needs were pretty low and could be met with a roaming plan on my cell phone which sufficed for our travel planning.  If more intensive needs had been prevalent something different would have been important. 

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Topics: IT connectivity, mobility

Canadian Credit Cards For Sale

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 08:10 AM

Regular readers of this blog will know that we spend a fair bit of time dealing with warnings, updates and suggestions on dealing with IT security and data protection.  At times it seems like we never talk about anything else and I wish we didn't need to cover this topic so heavily.  

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Topics: data security, Canadian IT

HP Acquires Samsung Printer Business

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 @ 08:10 AM

Just about a month ago HP and Samsung announced a deal that will see HP acquiring Samsung's printer business which is said to be about $1.8 billion US annually.  It appears that after many years producing print products as an OEM supplier and then a few years doing so under its own name Samsung has decided that it should focus on other aspects of its electronic industry.  

In the announcement HP has said this is the largest print related purchase that it has ever made.

HP has long used Canon engines for many of its laser printers and with this deal it gains the potential to move much of its engine production and R&D to the Samsung based designs.

I observe that it is only a few years that Samsung has been producing and selling its own brand of A3 (traditional 11 x 17 copier sized) products and it may be access to this area is one of the keys for HP.  Over the past ten years or so HP has struggled trying to find a fit with multifunction printer devices under its brand which can take control of the office print market like they have successfully done with their laser printer models which are primarily A4 (letter/legal) sized.

By acquiring Samsung they instantly obtain a recognized set of full bore A3 office multifunction devices in both colour and mono which can be branded HP and could complement other units in their offerings.  For those dealers which have been selling Samsung equipment it presents a bit of a challenge, but not one they will not have handled before.  Potentially they may have a broader set of options presented as HP fills out the line.  For most they will be dual branded and will have another line to use to fulfill customer needs.

Industry Changes Ongoing

This acquisition is just another step in a steady shift in the print market as the volume of paper changes and the moves to a more electronic or digital document world continue.

Konica Minolta was created through the merger of two separate brands in 2003.  Ricoh has built up its operations through a string of brand purchases over the years, Ricoh acquired Savin, Gestetner, Lanier, Rex-Rotary, Monroe, Nashuatec, IKON and most recently IBM Printing Systems Division / Infoprint Solutions Company.  

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Topics: MFP, Printer, Copier

Canadian Government Data Breaches Increase In Number

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 @ 07:10 AM

“As in years before, ‘accidental disclosure’ was the most common cause cited for breaches,” ..... “highlighting the need for institutions to ensure proper procedures are in place to protect Canadians’ personal information."  

This paragraph begins a report in IT World Canada outlining the summary of the Canadian Government experience in the period ending March 2016.  It shows that government information continues to be a target for hackers and others seeking to take advantage of the massive amounts of information that is collected by governments at all levels.  While the report referenced deals primarily with federal government information we can be sure that similar issues can arise in the broader public sector including provinces, municipalities and government agencies like education and hospitals.

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Topics: data security, network security

AP Automation In The Cloud | Introductory Video

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Oct 5, 2016 @ 07:10 AM

As we have discussed in a couple of previous articles AP Automation is one of the fields which can offer significant benefit to most businesses.  Currently the average business is still handling at least 50 percent of its accounts payable in a paper format taking time, aggravation and risk when compared to the potential of a more streamlined process using newer technologies.  

One of the things which holds many potential adopters back is the concern over installing, maintaining infrastructure and financing the cost of setting up a solution for AP.  Like any software implementation it is a challenge to figure out if the returns are going to offset the costs of the hardware, software and the administration of the potential solution.  In light of this inertia often prevails and the status quo becomes the default option.

Enter the cloud

One of the reasons that so much interest and attention has developed over the past few years around cloud computing  is the potential to reduce the pressure for this default inertia when new system potential is identified.  

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Topics: document management, AP Automation