Its the final days of 2016 and we thought it might be a good time to revisit a few of the key stories of this past year before we moved into 2017.Read More
Office Document Strategies Blog
Any organization that has set out to build a new website after having built its presence over time will acknowledge that creating the revised site can be a difficult and monstrous task. When that new site is designed to become the online portal to the government of Canada it is easy to see that it will become controversial and will be a major challenge.Read More
Canadian cloud services users have always had to be cautious in their choice of providers if they want to make sure that their data remains in Canada and subject to Canadian legislative jurisdiction.Read More
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.
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.Read More
If you have been a user of DropBox, Google Drive, Boxx etc. then you should look at Datto Drive right away.
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.Read More
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.
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.
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More