Asset Management

Don’t Ignore Security Activity That Could Help the Most

We tend to think of security as the tools—like email scanning, malware, and antivirus protection—we have in place to secure our network. But did you know that the process of asset management helps you minimize the threat landscape too?

Management of software and hardware has historically been treated as a cost-minimizing function, where tracking assets could be the difference between driving or reducing value, from an organizational perspective. However, even the best security plan is only as strong as its weakest link. If IT administrators are unaware where assets reside, the software running on them, and who has access, they are at risk.

Understanding the device, as well as the data, is what matters here. Having an in-depth knowledge of the network of devices and their data is the first step in protecting it. Often, organizations have the tools in place to support and maintain the device, but once in place on the network, it can be easy to set it and forget it until it need repair, replacement, or up for review. Conducting asset management on a regular basis should be a fundamental function for your security plan and can strengthen the security tools you already have in place. Remember, asset management has to be continuous for it to be truly effective.

When you’re conducting continuous asset management you can always answer the following questions should an incident occur:

  • What devices are currently connected to the internet?
  • How many total systems do you have?
  • Where is your data?
  • How many vendors do you have?
  • Which vendors have what kind of your data?

Companies struggle with consistent and mature asset management because they often don’t have the time or dedicated resources to stay on top of it. However, an IT asset management program can add value by reducing costs, improving operational efficiency, determining full cost, and providing a forecast for future investments. Oversight and governance help to solidify policies and procedures already in place.

ConnectWise Automate® complements and strengthens security tools and processes by significantly improving the ability to discover, inventory, manage, and report. Additional tool sets–like antivirus and malware protection—can be added to help further protect data and reduce operational risk.

recent study of the Total Economic Impact of ConnectWise showed, “Organizations estimated that they could shorten engineers’ involvement by 60%, thus cutting the cost of hardware maintenance by $1.2 million.”


This article was provided by our service partner : Connectwise.

msp evolving threats

MSP Responding to Risk in an Evolving Threat Landscape

There’s a reason major industry players have been discussing cybersecurity more and more: the stakes are at an all-time high for virtually every business today. Cybersecurity is not a matter businesses can afford to push off or misunderstand—especially small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which have emerged as prime targets for cyberattacks. The risk level for this group in particular has increased exponentially, with 57% of SMBs reporting an increase in attack volume over the past 12 months, and the current reality—while serious—is actually quite straightforward for managed service providers (MSPs):

  • Your SMB clients will be attacked.
  • Basic security will not stop an attack.
  • The MSP will be held accountable.

While MSPs may have historically set up clients with “effective” security measures, the threat landscape is changing and the evolution of risk needs to be properly, and immediately, addressed. This means redefining how your clients think about risk and encouraging them to respond to the significant increase in attack volume with security measures that will actually prove effective in today’s threat environment.

Even if the security tools you’ve been leveraging are 99.99% effective, risk has evolved from minimal to material due simply to the fact that there are far more security events per year than ever before.

Again, the state of cybersecurity today is pretty straightforward: with advanced threats like rapidly evolving and hyper-targeted malware, ransomware, and user-enabled breaches, foundational security tools aren’t enough to keep SMB clients secure. Their data is valuable, and there is real risk of a breach if they remain vulnerable.Additional layers of security need to be added to the equation to provide holistic protection. Otherwise, your opportunity to fulfill the role as your clients’ managed security services providerwill be missed, and your SMB clients could be exposed to existential risk.

Steps for Responding to Heightened Risk as an MSP

Step 1: Understand Risk

Start by discussing “acceptable risk.” Your client should understand that there will always be some level of risk in today’s cyber landscape. Working together to define a businesses’ acceptable risk, and to determine what it will take to maintain an acceptable risk level, will solidify your partnership. Keep in mind that security needs to be both proactive and reactive in its capabilities for risk levels to remain in check.

Step 2: Establish Your Security Strategy

Once you’ve identified where the gaps in your client’s protection lie, map them to the type of security services that will keep those risks constantly managed. Providing regular visibility into security gaps, offering cybersecurity training,and leveraging more advanced and comprehensive security tools will ultimately get the client to their desired state of protection—and that should be clearly communicated upfront.

Step 3: Prepare for the Worst

At this point, it’s not a question of ifSMBs will experience a cyberattack, but when. That’s why it’s important to establish ongoing, communicative relationships with all clients. Assure clients that your security services will improve their risk level over time, and that you will maintain acceptable risk levels by consistently identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating gaps in coverage. This essentially justifies additional costs and opens you to upsell opportunities over the course of your relationship.

Step 4: Live up to Your Promises Through People, Processes, and Technology

Keeping your security solutions well-defined and client communication clear will help validate your offering. Through a combination of advanced software and services, you can build a framework that maps to your clients’ specific security needs so you’re providing the technologies that are now essential for securing their business from modern attacks.

Once you understand how to effectively respond to new and shifting risks, you’ll be in the best possible position to keep your clients secure and avoid potentially debilitating breaches.

Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 and what we need to do now: Migrate and Upgrade!

IT pros around the world were happy to hear that Windows Server 2019 is now generally available and since there have been some changes to the release. This is a huge milestone, and I would like to offer congratulations to the Microsoft team for launching the latest release of this amazing platform as a big highlight of Microsoft Ignite.

As important as this new operating system is now, there is an important subtle point that I think needs to be raised now (and don’t worry – Veeam can help). This is the fact that both SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will soon have extended support ending. This can be a significant topic to tackle as many organizations have applications deployed on these systems.

What is the right thing to do today to prepare for leveraging Windows Server 2019? I’m convinced there is no single answer on the best way to address these systems; rather the right approach is to identify options that are suitable for each workload. This may also match some questions you may have. Should I move the workload to Azure? How do I safely upgrade my domain functional level? Should I use Azure SQL? Should I take physical Windows Server 2008 R2 systems and virtualize them or move to Azure? Should I migrate to the latest Hyper-V platform? What do I do if I don’t have the source code? These are all indeed natural questions to have now.

These are questions we need to ask today to move to Windows Server 2019, but how do we get there without any surprises? Let me re-introduce you to the Veeam DataLab. This technology was first launched by Veeam in 2010 and has evolved in every release and update since. Today, this technology is just what many organizations need to safely perform tests in an isolated environment to ensure that there are no surprises in production. The figure below shows a data lab:

windows 2008 eol

Let’s deconstruct this a bit first. An application group is an application you care about — and it can include multiple VMs. The proxy appliance isolates the DataLab from the production network yet reproduces the IP space in the private network without interference via a masquerade IP address. With this configuration, the DataLab allows Veeam users to test changes to systems without risk to production. This can include upgrading to Windows Server 2019, changing database versions, and more. Over the next weeks and month or so, I’ll be writing a more comprehensive document in whitepaper format that will take you through the process of setting up a DataLab and doing specific task-like upgrading to Windows Server 2019 or a newer version of SQL Server as well as migrating to Azure.

Another key technology where Veeam can help is the ability to restore Veeam backups to Microsoft Azure. This technology has been available for a long while and is now built into Veeam Backup & Replication. This is a great way to get workloads into Azure with ease starting from a Veeam backup. Additionally, you can easily test other changes to Windows and SQL Server with this process — put it into an Azure test environment to test the migration process, connectivity and more. If that’s a success, repeat the process as part of a planned migration to Azure. This cloud mobility technique is very powerful and is shown below for Azure:

Windows 2008 EOL

Why Azure?

This is because Microsoft announced that Extended Security Updates will be available for FREE in Azure for Windows server 2008 R2 for an additional three years after the end of the support deadline. Customers can rehost these workloads to Azure with no application code changes, giving them more time to plan for their future upgrades. Read more here.

What also is great about moving workloads to Azure is that this applies to almost anything that Veeam can back up. Windows Servers, Linux Agents, vSphere VMs, Hyper-V VMs and more!

Migrating to the latest platforms are a great way to stay in a supported configuration for critical applications in the data center. The difference is being able to do the migration without any surprises and with complete confidence. This is where Veeam’s DataLabs and Veeam Recovery to Microsoft Azure can work in conjunction to provide you a seamless experience in migrating to the latest SQL and Windows Server platforms.

Have you started testing Windows Server 2019? How many Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 systems do you have? Let’s get DataLabbing!

Considerations in a multi-cloud world

With the infrastructure world in constant flux, more and more businesses are adopting a multi-cloud deployment model. The challenges from this are becoming more complex and, in some cases, cumbersome. Consider the impact on the data alone. 10 years ago, all anyone worried about was if the SAN would stay up, and if it didn’t, would their data be protected. Fast forward to today, even a small business can have data scattered across the globe. Maybe they have a few vSphere hosts in an HQ, with branch offices using workloads running in the cloud or Software as a Service-based applications. Maybe backups are stored in an object storage repository (somewhere — but only one guy knows where). This is happening in the smallest of businesses, so as a business grows and scales, the challenges become even more complex.

Potential pitfalls

Now this blog is not about how Veeam manages data in a multi-cloud world, it’s more about how to understand the challenges and the potential pitfalls. Take a look at the diagram below:

cloud services

Veeam supports a number of public clouds and different platforms. This is a typical scenario in a modern business. Picture the scene: workloads are running on top of a hypervisor like VMware vSphere or Nutanix, with some services running in AWS. The company is leveraging Microsoft Office 365 for its email services (people rarely build Exchange environments anymore) with Active Directory extended into Azure. Throw in some SAP or Oracle workloads, and your data management solution has just gone from “I back up my SAN every night to tape” to “where is my data now, and how do I restore it in the event of a failure?” If worrying about business continuity didn’t keep you awake 10 years ago, it surely does now. This is the impact of modern life. The more agility we provide on the front end for an IT consumer, the more complexity there has to be on the back end.

With the ever-growing complexity, global reach and scale of public clouds, as well as a more hands-off approach from IT admins, this is a real challenge to protect a business, not only from an outage, but from a full-scale business failure.

Managing a multi-cloud environment

When looking to manage a multi-cloud environment, it is important to understand these complexities, and how to avoid costly mistakes. The simplistic approach to any environment, whether it is running on premises or in the cloud, is to consider all the options. Sounds obvious, but that has not always been the case. Where or how you deploy a workload is becoming irrelevant, but how you protect that workload still is. Think about the public cloud: if you deploy a virtual machine, and set the firewall ports to any:any, (that would never happen would it?), you can be pretty sure someone will gain access to that virtual machine at some point. Making sure that workload is protected and recoverable is critical in this instance. The same considerations and requirements always apply whether running on premises or off premises.  How do you protect the data and how do you recover the data in the event of a failure or security breach?

What to consider when choosing a cloud platform?

This is something often overlooked, but it has become clear in recent years that organizations do not choose a cloud platform for single, specific reasons like cost savings, higher performance and quicker service times, but rather because the cloud is the right platform for a specific application. Sure, individual reason benefits may come into play, but you should always question the “why” on any platform selection.

When you’re looking at data management platforms, consider not only what your environment looks like today, but also what will it look like tomorrow. Does the platform you’re purchasing today have a roadmap for the future? If you can see that the company has a clear vision and understanding of what is happening in the industry, then you can feel safe trusting that platform to manage your data anywhere in the world, on any platform. If a roadmap is not forthcoming, or they just don’t get the vision you are sharing about your own environment, perhaps it’s time to look at other vendors. It’s definitely something to think about next time you’re choosing a data management solution or platform.


This article was provided by our service partner: veeam.com

Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Earlier today, Yusuf Mehdi announced the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, the newest feature update for Windows 10. I’m excited to share our October 2018 Update rollout plans, how you can get the update today, plus some new update experience enhancements.

How to get the Windows 10 October 2018 Update

As with prior Windows 10 feature rollouts, our goal is to deliver the October 2018 Update in a phased and controlled rollout to provide a great update experience for all. We are beginning the global rollout out via Windows Update in the coming weeks.  As with previous rollouts, we will use real-time feedback and telemetry to update your device when data shows your device is ready and will have a great experience. You don’t have to do anything to get the update; it will roll out automatically to you through Windows Update.

Once the update is downloaded to your device and ready to be installed we’ll notify you.  You are then able to pick a time that won’t disrupt you to finish the installation and reboot.   We are continually working to improve the update experience with each new release of Windows 10.

Windows updates

The last Windows 10 feature update rollout, the April 2018 Update, utilized machine learning (ML) to identify devices that were ready to update, incorporating key attributes like compatibility data. By leveraging machine learning we were able to safely rollout quickly, and as a result the April 2018 Update is now the most widely used version of Windows 10.  Further, our artificial intelligence/ML targeted rollout approach led to the lowest call and online support requests for any release of Windows 10.

With the October 2018 Update, we are expanding our use of machine learning and intelligently selecting devices that our data and feedback predict will have a smooth update experience. We will be further enhancing the performance of our machine learning model by incorporating more device signals such as improved driver telemetry and weighting of key features such as anti-malware software as we broaden the phased rollout. As we did with the April 2018 Update, we will be proactively monitoring all available feedback and update experience data, making the appropriate product updates when we detect issues, and adjusting the rate of rollout as needed to assure all devices have the best possible update experience.

Want the Windows 10 October 2018 Update today? Start by manually checking for updates

While we encourage you to wait until the update is offered to your device, if you’re an advanced user on an actively serviced version of Windows 10 and would like to install the Windows 10 October 2018 Update now, you can do so by manually checking for updates. In the Search box in the taskbar, type “Check for updates.” Once there, simply click “Check for updates” to begin the download and installation process. We are also streamlining the ability for users who seek to manually check for updates by limiting this to devices with no known key blocking issues, based on our ML model.  If we detect that your device has a compatibility issue, we will not install the update until that issue is resolved, even if you “Check for updates.”  You can also watch this video that outlines how to get the October 2018 Update.

windows 10 update settingswindows 10 update settings 2

If you’re using a Windows 10 PC at work, you will need to check with your IT administrator for details on your organization’s specific plans to update.

Improving the update experience

We have heard clear feedback that while our users appreciate that updates keep their devices secure, they find the update experience can sometimes be disruptive.  The October Update includes several improvements to the update experience to offer more control and further reduce disruptions.

Intelligent scheduling of update activity: For our many mobile users on laptops and 2-in-1 devices, we have improved Window’s ability to know when a device will not be in use and perform certain update activities then, so as not to disrupt the user. This ability to update at night when plugged in and not on battery power will help hide update activity and minimize user disruption from updates. To further minimize disruption (in case your system is updating overnight), Windows also silences audio when it wakes for Windows Updates.   If your device hasn’t updated for several nights, we will then suggest you plug in your device so that we can update at night.

windows 10 update nightime

Intelligent reboot scheduling:  Windows Update will now automatically determine the least disruptive opportunity, outside of Active Hours, and will use an enhanced machine-learning-powered activity check that can determine if a user is going to be away for a while or is only stepping away temporarily.

Faster updates, less down time:  We’ve also made further improvements to the feature update installation process and are targeting to further shorten the amount of time your device is offline during updates by up to 31% compared to the Windows 10 April 2018 Update (based on results from the Windows Insider Program) during the rollout of the October Update.

Smaller downloads:  In the October Update we are introducing a new update package delivery design for monthly quality updates that creates a compact update package for easier and faster deployment.  Users will benefit from the new small update size when installing applicable quality updates as they are 40% more efficient.

Enhanced privacy controls

We continue to focus on putting our customers in control so in the October Update we are enhancing the privacy choice and controls available to users to manage their privacy.  We are now enabling each new account on a device to personally tailor the main privacy settings, instead of only the initial user who sets up the device.   Furthermore, during new device setup, we now offer an activity history page that allows users the opportunity to opt in to sending activity history to Microsoft, to help improve cross device experiences.  This allows users to pick up where they left off in various activities (such as a working on a Word document) on their other devices (Learn more about activity history).

Additionally, we are splitting Inking & typing personalization out from the Speech privacy page.  This enables more granular control of your inking and typing personalization data by managing it separately from your online speech recognition data. Learn more about online speech recognition and inking & typing personalization.

nking typing personalization.

Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) released

For our commercial customers, the release of the Windows 10, version 1809 on October 2, 2018 marks the start of the servicing timeline for the Semi-Annual Channel (“Targeted”) release; and beginning with this release, all future feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions that release around September will have a 30 month servicing timeline.  Just as we’re immediately beginning rolling out the October Update in phases to consumers, we recommend IT administrators do the same within their organizations to validate that apps, devices, and infrastructure used by their organization work well with the new release before broadly deploying. We use data to guide our phased consumer rollout and encourage commercial customers to do the same through Windows AnalyticsThe update is now available through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)Windows Update for Business (WUfB) and System Center Configuration Manager’s (SCCM) phased deployment.  For an overview of what’s new and what’s changed, please see What’s new for IT pros in Windows 10, version 1809.

Continuously evolving Windows 10 and the update experience

We’re excited to bring you the latest Windows 10 Features and improvements and hope that you enjoy the improved update experience.    Please provide us feedback as we continue our journey to evolve the update experience, so that our great new product and security features and other enhancements arrive without disruption.


This article was provided by our service partner : Microsoft.com