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what is sharepoint

Posted by Dennis Junk on Mon, Jul 08, 2013

As your business grows beyond the point where all your employees work in nearby offices, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep everyone on the same page. What SharePoint does is carve out a little nook in the internet where everyone can stay in touch virtually. Pages and information can be arranged by department and role. But each individual worker is kept plugged in to the company as a whole.

Simply put, SharePoint is what you use to create your business’s own place on the web where all your employees can sign in when they get to work. Think of the MSN or Yahoo home pages but geared just to the people who work at your company. You sign in, see company news and announcements, and have access to all your standard web tools like email and calendars. You also have access to all the company documents you may need to read or edit, along with updates on projects currently underway and information on clients.

It’s important to note that SharePoint out-of-the-box and SharePoint as you can get it customized by software developers are two very different things. SharePoint can be customized to encompass almost any aspect of business computing. And it’s really this customizability that makes SharePoint such a powerful tool.

SharePoint is often referred to as an “intranet platform” and a “collaboration tool.” Here’s what those terms mean:

Intranet Platform:

This just means that your SharePoint pages are internally facing—they’re designed for people insideyour company. Employees all sign in to the same place. They all go to the same folders for files and documents. And they can all see schedules, calendars, and contact information for their coworkers. This helps them coordinate their efforts, makes communicating easier, and keeps everyone from getting lost trying to find the information they need. The design of the pages can even be customized to convey brand identity so it serves as a prompt and a reminder of both the company’s mission and its style.

SharePoint is also commonly used to create extranet platforms which enable outside companies you’re partnering with to access relevant pages.

Collaboration Tool:

Documents can be saved on SharePoint instead of on your PC’s hard drive. This keeps you from having to email a copy to everyone who needs to read or edit it. Every time you email an attached document, you’re creating another version of that document. So if you have three people working on it, you end up with three different versions. But if the document is on SharePoint, all three people can locate, view, edit, and save changes to it at the same time—and you never have to worry about different people working on different versions. And this is just one aspect of how SharePoint makes it easier to collaborate. One other area it’s commonly used for is keeping track of records on clients. But scheduling, meetings, and events can all be organized through SharePoint.

This is a highly general description of what SharePoint is and what it does. If you have a particular issue you’re wondering if SharePoint might help you resolve, feel free to contact us through our website.

Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. Box vs. SkyDrive vs. SkyDrive Pro

Posted by Mark Gordon on Wed, Jul 03, 2013
Over the last decade, internet connections have gotten significantly faster, an order of magnitude faster in many cases. This has made remote storage and retrieval of even relatively large files and directories possible. In the last few years, use of remote file storage solutions has taken off. You are more than likely using one yourself. There is money to be made in cloud storage, and today there are a host of cloud storage solutions available that allow you to back up and share files with others, as well as between your own machines. Most of these services offer some level of storage for free and allow you to add more storage for a price.

But just a few are capturing the majority of the marketplace, among them Dropbox, Google Drive, box, and SkyDrive. Below is a survey of what they have to offer and what you may not know about them.

Dropbox

Offering:

  • Cloud-based file storage with the ability to share
  • Soon will allow integrated authentication with Active Directory

Best Qualities:

  • 2 GB free personal storage
  • Simplicity of interface
  • Ease of sign-up and installation
  • The name Dropbox has become nearly synonymous with cloud file storage and sharing

Limitations:

  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • Not a collaboration solution
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time

Cautions:

  • Dropbox has gone viral giving users extra storage for signing up their friends. With so many people using Dropbox with their friends today, your corporate files are most likely up here without any controls unless you have implemented another solution for your users.

Google Drive

Offering:

  • Cloud-based file storage built into the Google universe
  • Integrated with Google Apps

Best Qualities:

  • Free 5 GB personal storage
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Online Editors for Office documents
  • Integration with other Google offerings like Gmail

Limitations:

  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • Online editing is not full fidelity and documents may not look the way you expect on the desktop after editing
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time

Cautions:

  • Google’s user agreement states that they have the right to scan all your content and sell information about you to anyone. They also reserve the right to create derivative works based on files or documents you put in Google Drive

Box

Offering:

  • Cloud-based collaboration suite

Best Qualities:

  • Designed for business
  • Good set of collaboration tools
  • Similar in many ways to SharePoint

Limitations:

  • Expensive
  • Separate set of collaboration tools to learn and manage if your people are used to Office and SharePoint
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time

Cautions:

  • Box is an all-or-nothing solution. If you have sensitive data, you cannot host it on premise and integrate it into your corporate Box environment
  • When implementing any corporate collaboration solution, you should plan before you deploy

SkyDrive

Offering:

  • Cloud-based file storage built into the Microsoft universe
  • Integrated with Outlook.com

Best Qualities:

  • Free 7 GB personal storage
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Full fidelity of online editors for Office documents
  • Integration with other Microsoft offerings
  • Microsoft user privacy agreement gives you full ownership of your files and documents; Microsoft does not scan them or sell data about you

Limitations:

  • Designed as a consumer/personal solution
  • No corporate control of document sharing or retention in personal accounts
  • No auditing, legal discovery in personal accounts
  • No ability to host sensitive files on premise–US Government can blind subpoena your data at any time

Cautions:

  • Even though Microsoft is not reading your documents, the US Government legally can

SkyDrive Pro

Offering:

  • Corporate file management solution
  • Integrated with SharePoint 2013

Best Qualities:

  • Low cost, SkyDrive Pro comes as part of the complete SharePoint Online subscription which is $3.00 user/month
  • 7 GB personal storage for SharePoint Online users
  • Ability to host Online, On-Premises or Hybrid with seamless user experience
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser
  • Online editors for Office documents
  • Full integration with Office and Windows
  • Granular control and monitoring of documents
    • No sharing, corporate sharing or external sharing
    • Full auditing of read, edit, search, etc.
    • Legal hold and discovery
    • Retention policies
  • No ability for US Government to blind subpoena your sensitive documents from on premise or hybrid environments

Limitations:

  • No free option

Cautions:

  • When implementing any corporate collaboration solution, you should plan before you deploy

The table below gives you an idea of the range of the services available:

cloud storage options

By Tony Bradley, PCWorld

Spoofing Security Guy

Minimize Your Exposure to Email Spoofing

Your mother calls you to ask why you keep emailing her about “enhancements,” and your coworkers complain that you won’t stop sending them ads. Does this sound like you?

A friend of mine recently found himself in this situation, as he began to receive a deluge of “bounced” spam email–spam messages that seemed to have been sent from his email account to invalid email addresses and then returned to the supposed sender. But the email address in question is for an account that my friend rarely uses, and he did not knowingly use it to send any spammy email to anyone.

Initially he conjectured that spammers had somehow hijacked the email account. But even after he reset the email account’s password, the bounce messages continued to flow in.

Why was this happening? Were the messages really coming from my friend’s email address, or were their actual senders just using his email address as a spoofed return address in the email headers? What could he do to stop the annoying activity? Was his only option to obliterate the email account and start over with an untouched one?

Compromised or Spoofed?

email security

If you face this situation, your first step should be to determine whether your email account–or your PC itself–is infected or compromised in some way. The most likely culprit is “spoofed” email headers, in which spammers change an email header’s “from” address to make it appear as though the spam originated from your email account, and which in turn causes any bounced email alerts to go to your inbox.

Spammers spoof mail headers in email messages to fool spam filters into letting the message through. The tactic can also increase the spam message’s seeming legitimacy: You’re more likely to open email that purports to come from a person or a company you know than email that comes from a total stranger.

According to Will Irace, director of threat research and services at Fidelis Security Systems, spoofed email headers are quite common. In the case of my friend, Irace says, “If he’s sure he’s changed his password, then it’s most likely as he suspects: the spammer is forging (‘spoofing’) his address and not actually sending the bouncing e-mails from his account.”

Melissa Siems, senior director of product and solutions marketing for McAfee Cloud & Content Security adds: “Most accounts are more likely to be spoofed than compromised, particularly if the owner isn’t using the account. If the account is in use, then it could have been compromised by malware or a phishing attack or even something more subvert like a root kit attack.”

Resolving a Spoofed Email Account

email security

Bounced email alerts sometimes contain details within their message headers that can help identify the messages’ true origin. Most often, they come from PCs infected with a botnet or compromised in some other way, so your chances of tracking down the actual spam purveyor are very slim.

If you can see in the headers the IP address for the computer that sent the spam, you may be able to determine where the messages came from. You can then contact that PC’s Internet service provider and have that IP address blocked. In the short term, that may stop the email spoofing and the bounced messages; but overall it’s a bit of a fool’s errand. The ISP may not help you; and even if it does, there’s nothing to stop the spammer from simply spoofing your email account from a compromised PC that has a different IP address.

If you don’t normally use the email account in question, the most sensible tactic is to delete the account and start anew. Of course, for business email accounts and for primary personal email accounts that you’ve used for years, you may decide that jettisoning the account isn’t an acceptable option.

Avoiding Spoofed Email Accounts

email security

Unfortunately, you can’t do much to stop spoofing once it starts–or to avoid having spammers harvest your email address in the first place. Irace offers some sarcastic advice on how to make your email address harvest-proof: “Don’t do anything interesting [online], and never share your email address with anybody [else].”

Nevertheless, Siems says that adopting some commonsense security practices can reduce your email account’s exposure. For instance, she suggests, use your primary email account to communicate only with people you know and trust. If one of those contacts gets infected or compromised, attackers may still harvest and use your email address, but the risk should be much lower.

Also, when sharing an email address with a website or posting information in a public online forum, use a throwaway email account, such as one from Gmail or Hotmail, that you won’t mind deleting later on.

These steps amount to hazard mitigation, though. There’s simply no fool-proof way to prevent spammers from using your email address in spoofed message headers on spam email.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/253305/minimize_your_exposure_to_email_spoofing.html

@justrick

During a recent trip I stayed at a hotel offering free Wi-Fi—always a nice perk. Just one problem: the network was terrible. The connection speed reminded me of my old dial-up modem, but without the consistency.

Needless to say, it was impossible for me to get my work done, and that was a problem. Fortunately, I’m a Boy Scout when it comes to tech obstacles: always prepared. When faced with flaky hotel Wi-Fi, I try one or more of these six fixes:

1. Ask the front desk to reset the router  If you can’t get or stay connected, it might just be a router issue. Call the front desk, tell them you can’t get on their network, and ask them to reset the hotel router. Wait 5-10 minutes and then try again to connect.

2. Check for an Ethernet option  Some hotel rooms have an Ethernet port or cord that would allow your laptop to bypass Wi-Fi altogether and just jack into the network. If you need to share that connection with, say, your tablet, try Connectify Hotspot, which acts as a software router on your laptop. Alternately, pack a travel router like the TP-LINK TL-WR702N.

3. Try the lobby  It’s possible the bad connection is simply the result of your room’s distance from the nearest Wi-Fi repeater. Try moving to a conference room or the lobby to see if the situation improves.

4. Pack a pay-as-you-go hotspot  A mobile hotspot gives you Internet access anytime, anywhere. But if you buy one from one of the big carriers, you might get stuck with yet another two-year contract and hefty monthly fees. For occasional and/or “emergency” service, consider a pay-as-you-go hotspot.

For example, DataJack, TruConnect, and Virgin Mobile offer no-contract MiFi hotspots for under $100, with pay-as-you-go data plans that won’t break the bank. Or you can grab a Photon hotspot from FreedomPop, which includes 500MB of free, no-strings-attached data per month (assuming there’s coverage in your area—here in metro Detroit, there’s not).

5. Use your phone’s hotspot feature  Most Android phones and all the latest iPhones have a mobile-hotspot (a.k.a. tethering) feature, which can come in mighty handy in a pinch. On my iPhone, for example, it’s a simple matter of venturing into the settings and enabling Personal Hotspot, which shares my 4G connection with nearby devices.

Check with your carrier to see what options are available on your phone, and how much they might add to your monthly bill. Just remember that you’ll not only drain your battery in a hurry, you’ll also face potentially steep data charges compared with what you usually incur.

6. Find the nearest Starbucks  If all else fails, try a little wardriving: Use your favorite Wi-Fi-finder app to locate the nearest coffee shop, library, or even another hotel that offers wireless Internet, then set up shop to get your work done. While you’re at it, check out VPN tools that will help secure your data.

Have another brilliant way to deal with flaky Wi-Fi when traveling? Tell me about it in the comments.