A bill in Congress has been brewing since October 2020 and finally passed in December 2020. Representative David Scott introduced H.R.8620 which is stated to:
“To permit payments for certain business software or cloud computing services as allowable uses of a loan made under the Paycheck Protection Program of the Small Business Administration.”
What PPP can do for you
This bill was an amendment to the Small Business Act that changes the definition of how PPP loan moneys can be used. The changes are as follows:
“the term ‘covered operations expenditure’ means a payment for any business software or cloud computing service that facilitates business operations, product or service delivery, the processing, payment, or tracking of payroll expenses, human resources, sales and billing functions, or accounting or tracking of supplies, inventory, records and expenses”
So what does this mean for your business? That you can apply for the PPP funds then use them to upgrade your out-of-date software that runs your company or use the funds to move your business into the cloud. There has never been a better time or excuse to discuss the possibilities of moving your business to the cloud and implementing those upgrades that have waited so long. By doing so you will position your company better for the Work From Home trend and be prepared for business expansion once the pandemic is over.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has agreed with Zoom to settle their allegations that it “engaged in a series of deceptive and unfair practices that undermined the security of its users.”
The conditions put forth by the settlement The FTC complaint said that:
Since at least 2016, the company misled users by touting that it offered “end-to-end, 256-bit encryption” to secure users’ communications, when in fact it provided a lower level of security, i.e., it encrypted communications but stored the encryption keys on its servers
The company misled users by saying that recorded meetings that were stored on the company’s cloud storage were encrypted immediately after the meeting ended, which was untrue in some cases
In July 2018, the company compromised the security of some users when it secretly installed a hidden web server on Macs that helped with frictionless installation of the Zoom application
The settlement does not oblige Zoom to admit fault or pay a fine, but obligates it to:
Refrain from misrepresenting privacy and security practices, including about how it collects, uses, maintains, or discloses personal information; its security features; and the extent to which users can control the privacy or security of their personal information
Implement a comprehensive information security program and obtain biennial assessments of its security program by an independent third party and notify the FTC if it experiences a data breach
Implement a vulnerability management program
Assess and document on an annual basis any potential internal and external security risks and develop ways to safeguard against such risks Deploy safeguards such as MFA to protect against unauthorized access to its network; institute data deletion controls; and take steps to prevent the use of known compromised user credentials
Review any software updates for security flaws and ensure the updates will not hamper third-party security features
Quoted from https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2020/11/10/ftc-zoom/
If your company is going to use video conferencing to assist with work from home or to remotely connect with clients, then contact us for assistance.
A company named Arctic Wolf, a leader in enterprise security operation centers, published a report that states that the number of corporate credentials with plaintext passwords on the dark web has increased by 429% since March.
There are also startling statistics on the increase in email phishing attempts and the use of unsecure public wireless connections. These numbers are like due to the Work From Home employees using their own insecure computers and cyber criminals trying to take advantage of the trend. It appears that security measures that are used in the office need to be extended to the Work From Home network as well.
If your company is currently or is going to have Work From Home users, then contact us for assistance.
Here are some lessons learned from a recent recovery of a server with the following error:
Lesson #1 – Blinking Hard Drives
So when I got to the customer site the Dell server had blinking hard drive lights on two of the drives. Based on the support article about it the lights meant -“Identifying drive or preparing for removal.” and digging into the RAID controller I found the worst possible scenario for a RAID-5 array – two dead hard drives. I removed the two dead drives, cleared the configuration on the RAID controller, built a new RAID-5 array out of the remaining drives (4 out of 6), and did a fast initialize.
Lesson #2 – Drive letters on Windows Server Backup
Not sure if anyone else has noticed, but when Windows Server Backup is setup to use an external drive it likes to hide the drive by not assigning it a drive letter. This caused a few issues with the restore done from Windows Server 2012 R2 USB boot media as it couldn’t find the drive. I had to connect the external drive to my laptop then give it a drive letter. Plugged it back into the server and rebooted.
Lesson #3 – Patience is a virtue in Scanning for System Image Disks
Following the basic instructions for doing a Windows Server Backup 2012 Restore via Windows Server 2012 R2 USB boot media it came to the point where it does the scanning for System Image Disks. Turns out this can take hours depending on the speed of the drive plus the size and quantity of restores you have on the external drive. Just wait for the process to complete.
Lesson #4 – UEFI or Legacy BIOS matters
So you waited all that time for the Scanning for System Image Disks to complete and now that precious moment arrives when you realize that the Windows Server 2012 R2 USB boot media that you created was UEFI instead of legacy BIOS and the restore fails telling you so. Make sure that when you create the Windows Server 2012 R2 USB boot media that you change the settings to match the system that you are trying to restore.
Hope that these lessons help a few other Windows Server admins, who are trying to do a Windows Server Backup 2012 Restore, save some time and frustration. If you are looking for a better way to do backup and restore then contact us for details.
Farmhouse Networking continues to make strides in providing our customers with the best, most cost effective, and environmentally friendly computing experience possible. Part of that process is what has come to be known as Lifecycle Management. Each piece of hardware has an expected amount of time in which it is cost effective to use and support it. Once this time frame has been exceeded the cost of supporting the device becomes greater than the cost as shown in the following graph:
FHN Lifecycle Management
So the question remains what to do with the old computers when the time comes to replace them. Previously here in Grants Pass, OR we could support a local charity by taking them to Southern Oregon Aspire to have the computers dismantled and hard drives shredded. Now that their doors are closed we are stuck with dropping them off at the local dump, but what if you could make money while being responsible with the environment?
Farmhouse Networking is now partnering with a company called Arcoa, who do just that. Here is what they do in their R2 rated responsible recycling facility:
“We help you recover value from retired electronic equipment through responsible methods of reuse and recycling. Resale offers the best potential for value recovery, but the fast pace of innovations in technology and short product life cycles can limit equipment’s potential for reuse. From there, the best option may be to recycle the items in an environmentally friendly manner. We’ve built a robust de-manufacturing process to offer additional options for asset value recovery by disassembling equipment for commodity grade materials, which can be diverted from landfills and be used to create new materials.”
Hard drives will be electronically wiped, magnetically degaussed, or shredded based on need. The rest of the parts will be dismantled and sold with part of the profit returning to your company to help offset the cost of buying new computers. What could be better than making money on the buy?
If your company is heading towards a hardware refresh, then make the environmentally sound choice by contacting us for assistance.
Many of our customers have been experiencing some of their users having Outlook crashing immediately after opening. We even had other tech companies call to find out how we were fixing it, so we investigated and found the following known issue from Microsoft:
Users experiencing Outlook connection issues and crashes EX218604, Exchange Online, Last updated: July 15, 2020 10:12 AM Start time: July 15, 2020 9:18 AM User impact: Users may experience crashes or may be unable to access Exchange Online via Outlook. Current status: Our initial review of the available data indicates that recently deployed updates are the likely source of the problem. We’re performing an analysis of all recent service updates to isolate the underlying cause of the problem and to determine the most expedient means to restore service.
We will be keeping our monthly clients up to date on this issue.
According to the Microsoft Office 365 development roadmap, an exciting new feature is coming to Microsoft Teams:
“Cortana is coming to the Teams mobile app, using AI and the Microsoft Graph to provide voice assistance in Teams. To stay connected to your team even when you have your hands full, click the microphone button on the top right and ask Cortana to make a call, join a meeting, send chat messages, share files, and more. These voice assistance experiences are delivered using Cortana enterprise-grade services that meet Microsoft 365 privacy, security and compliance commitments. Cortana will be available in the Teams mobile app on iOS and Android in the coming weeks for Microsoft 365 Enterprise users in the U.S. in English.”
If your company is looking to collaborate with your office effectively, then contact us for assistance.
Office 365 has had the option to create resources, either equipment or rooms, that can be scheduled. Setup is fairly easy inside the Office 365 Admin console and you get to choose several options:
Select Room or Equipment, give it a name, an email address (no license required), and set the capacity. Once setup it is easy to use:
How can you tell when the room or equipment is available?
Open Outlook and create a new meeting. Add the room or equipment to the meeting as if it were a person and select Scheduling Assistant to see a live calendar view of the room or equipment’s availability. If the hour slot is clear, it’s available; if it’s blue, it’s reserved.
If your company needs help setting up Office 365 Equipment & Room Calendars, then contact us for assistance.
This question came to light while talking to a vendor about backups. It turns out that Microsoft does not backup any of your Office 365 data, but does have aggressive redundancy in place. This is both good and bad, here is why:
Microsoft has several levels of redundancy / resiliency / protection to keep email data from being corrupted, keep multiple copies of all email data, and scan emails for security threats. If there is ever any data issues then their systems automatically detect the problem and work to fix them or when threats are detected they are automatically remediated. There is also a recycle bin for emails and users that lasts from 30 to 90 days. Once that time is over there is no recourse for getting the data back.
Sharepoint & OneDrive
Microsoft here again has deep redundancy to protect your data from corruption, but they do nothing to check for malware or cryptoware. There is something called versioning that can help with some cryptoware, but not all. There is also a recycle bin for these services that could possibly help.
There are several apparent gaps in coverage that Microsoft does not deal with, but there are third-party services that have stepped in to do just that. If your company is looking to keep their Office 365 data safe from internal and external threats, then contact us for assistance.
In this unprecedented time that we are currently experiencing, you have had to set your team up to work remotely, often without thinking about how they might actually get work done, let alone security of all things. Our employee checklist and no-cost cybersecurity training course will provide your team with the tools they need to ensure that they are safe and productive – right out of the gate. These free resources are part of our initiative to keep our community safe and working during this time of crisis, without the additional disruption and financial impact of a breach.
Don’t let a change in circumstance allow for a change in cybersecurity standards.