It took a long time for my brother, who is the IT expert (aka: Microsoft Network Engineer) in my office, to convince me that I should move from our own in-office Microsoft Exchange (email) server to a cloud-based solution. When we finally made the change, he chose Office 365 Exchange email hosting services as our solution. I had my doubts, what if an email gets corrupted going from here to there? What if we send something out in error? What if, what if, what if? I am sure that some of you may have had the same questions or concerns.
In my recent article, I wrote about ‘now that you have migrated to the cloud’ asking these questions.
When it comes to security, are you safe from Email-borne threats just because you are using a cloud email server (service)?
Are emails moving from cloud to your local environment, be that single computer or vast local network, adequately encrypted and data leak protected to insure that any sensitive data is ‘kept secret’?
Are you certain that your emails and documents are being properly kept in accordance with compliance requirements?
And what about the physical security of your ‘cloud data’… how is that going for you since your migration?
For years we were told to ‘backup our local data to a cloud provider’, now that our data is in the cloud are we ‘backing up our cloud data to somewhere else’ irrespective of what/where/when our cloud provider may be backing up our data?
Now I am not really smart enough in this stuff to know the answers to these questions, but when he and I were discussing the various issues of email and document security, he said, “don’t you remember I told you we needed another Barracuda.”
Looking at my wall, I thought "Oh, I get to go deep sea fishing again,” (NOT) even though I have a nice trophy Barracuda on the wall, along with some lovely Brown Trout trophies. No I knew he meant another ‘something’ from Barracuda networking. So I am really saying, "we just got rid of an Exchange Server and now we have to buy another Barracuda to go in the cabinet." He quickly explained, this Barracuda patrols our interests in the cloud, like a pet in the ocean swimming in your vicinity to keep the sharks away (shark bate in other words).
Nevertheless, for our own protection against email threats, routed via our Office 365 Exchange hosted email, my brother Malcom chose Barracuda Email Security Services (Barracuda ESS), a cloud-based email service that is reasonably priced for any size business. They have a version that works with any email configuration including hosted (specifically Office 365 Exchange) services, on-premise Exchange server (why were we not using it before we went to the cloud, that is what I want to know, I can actually find my 10 year-old emails now), and even hybrid configurations making use of both local and hosted functionality.
Our pet Barracuda provides protection against all the Big Bads out there in the pond including phishing, advanced threats, and other targeted email attacks. Spam and viruses are blocked using three levels of anti-virus protection and Barracuda’s continuously updated spam definitions and malware detection. Some high level security stuff I can’t even pronounce can supposedly identify known and suspected attacks, and suspicious URLs so they can be redirected, which means I’m protected from all the ‘hate male’ malware that discontented readers throw in my direction. They even have a special way of dealing with questionable attachments that prevent them from being opened even when the rest of the email is malware free.
Barracuda has been providing our firm with firewall protection for years, so I am confident (at least as confident as I am about anything cloud) in this new ‘cloud’ based form of security, but the security aspects are not the only good thing about our ‘cuda’.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and so does our Barracuda ESS. It’s designed to provide email delivery to an alternate mail server when the primary server (like the one at Microsoft) is unavailable. If both destinations are unavailable, our Barracuda ESS will actually spool our emails for up to 96 hours. During this time, I can actually log into the service to get my emails, even from my iPad. Then when things resume normality, like they hardly ARE EVER ‘normal’ around my office, our pet Barracuda will deliver all those the spooled emails to each appropriate recipient. (Gosh no, please send them to someone else, anyone else…. I don’t want them.)
Malcom likes the fact that he can pre-configure and customized rules to prevent data from being sent via email, whether the intent is accidental or malicious. (He has learned that I really shouldn’t send emails out with ‘you stupid idiot’ in the subject line; so he set-up a rule that sends me back those emails with a big message, “You are a stupid idiot for trying to send a ‘stupid idiot’ email.”) He can even configure policies that satisfy email compliance filtering for government regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX). (I’m not sure if he has a certain ‘color’ policies for those socks or not.) We have even better Email encryption now than with our former Exchange server, this ensures that all my confidential and information is securely sent to my intended recipients, and only those who are worthy.
Little did I know, until the first invoice hit my credit-card, that Malcom also chose to make use of our pet Barracuda’s cousin, their Cloud Archiving Service which integrates with Office 365 to create an indexed cloud-based archive. (It's like a back-up of a back-up, of a back-up.) The indexed archived cloud-based data can also be rule driven so that we are certain our emails and documents are being retained as long as we need them to be, But the indexed archives also provides faster and simpler searches (Oh, I think I mentioned that earlier.) I can even set permissions and place holds on export functionalities. If I had an auditor I am sure they would be happy, but I certainly don’t plan on getting one just so I can finally make one happy, either.
.This Barracuda makes it easy to find emails on Office 365 Exchange even when Outlook previously reported, ‘not found’ or ‘we are having a hard time finding your search request.’ Within milliseconds the Outlook based add-in has not only found but displayed the email I was needing. If Barracuda can’t find it on Microsoft’s cloud (for whatever reason), then it immediately searches their own cloud-based ‘archiving service’ for my emails. This interface not only shortens response times, but like I said, ensures that my email messages are found when needed no matter where they are resident. I like things fast, when I want them, “I want them now. and I bet you do too.”
The Barracuda Cloud-based Archiving Service also eliminates the risk of deletion of my emails from the Microsoft Cloud by retaining a copy in accordance with the configured policies on the Barracuda secure archive. This ensures that emails are kept for as long as needed. Another thing that Malcom tells me ‘is the bomb’ is role-based access and audit trails that help ensure only authorized personnel have access to the archives. Supposedly I can always find out who did what with which email(s), even if they have attempted to ‘eliminate’ the trail of their activities. Really I don’t have a clue about how to do that, it’s a good thing that I have my brother Malcom handy when I need him. (Makes me wonder if Barracuda offers some kind of a back-up for 'IT brothers'...)
So if you have concerns about your cloud based data, including your hosted exchange server email, then maybe you want to build a big salt-water fish tank and get you a pet Barracuda who can help relieve your fears of ‘what’s going on in that cloud’.