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Cheap Cloud storage, but at what cost?

Published:

Google made headlines around the world last week after slashing the costs of online file storage using their Google Drive product. For as little as $1.99 per month, users can now buy 100GB of Cloud storage for their files.

With prices like that, Google Drive is a no-brainer right? Actually, maybe not.

The Google Terms of Service

Google offers a number of useful tools and services either completely free, or at a very small cost. They pay for these loss-leading services by generating a detailed picture of their customers that can then be used to sell highly targeted advertising by marketers.

Under the general Google Terms of Service (which everyone agrees to when they sign up for a Google account), any files stored in the Google Drive or Apps services can be accessed by the company to "improve our Services, and to develop new ones". For consumers, these terms may be perfectly acceptable. For businesses however, there may be significant implications.

What's yours, stays yours

Google is keen to stress that the Intellectual Property rights to any files stored in Drive remain yours forever. However using Google Drive means that all users, including businesses, grant Google a license to:

"use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works , communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content."

On the plus side, businesses signing up for a paid Google Apps account are promised "confidentiality" for their data in a supplementary agreement. The two different agreements seem to contradict each other, adding an unwelcome layer of ambiguity into the mix.

Which terms of service override the other? Are the Apps for Business terms supplemental or do they take precedence? Just how much of your rights are you signing over when you sign up? The only thing that is clear is that users of the free Google services, including businesses, can have no expectation of privacy.

With so many unanswered questions, Google Apps could actually become a legal minefield for business users and their clients.

Microsoft Office 365 on the other hand is much more straightforward. At no point does the OneDrive Terms of Service grant Microsoft permission to distribute their customers' content for instance.

"3.3. What does Microsoft do with my content? When you upload your content to the services, you agree that it may be used, modified, adapted, saved, reproduced, distributed and displayed to the extent necessary to protect you and to provide, protect and improve Microsoft products and services. For example, we may occasionally use automated means to isolate information from email, chats or photos in order to help detect and protect against spam and malware, or to improve the services with new features that makes them easier to use. When processing your content, Microsoft takes steps to help preserve your privacy."

By having a clear definition of what Microsoft will and will not do with your company data, you can move forward confidently with Office 365.

A potential business problem

The Google Terms of Service prove just how important it is to check what you are agreeing to when signing up for a service - especially one offered for free. This is doubly true when considering that Microsoft's Office 365 service, and accompanying  OneDrive file storage solution, do not require users to hand over access rights to their content. Additionally data deleted from OneDrive stays deleted - Microsoft does not retain any copies for their own use.

From a business point of view, Microsoft Office 365 is a far safer choice for businesses looking to take advantage of Cloud-based productivity software.

If you would like to know more about the advantages offered by Microsoft's Cloud services, give Get Support a call today on 01865 594000.


Bye Bye Windows XP

Published:

Windows XP - The EndAfter nearly 14 years of service (and three replacement operating system releases), Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on Windows XP. From April 8th Microsoft will no longer offer support for the operating system, leaving millions of businesses across the world at risk of significant risk of data loss or cybercrime.

You probably never deal directly with Microsoft, so why does this announcement affect you? Because once the "extended support" period ends on April 8th, Microsoft will no longer provide any updates or security patches for Windows XP. The operating system will be officially retired and no further work will be done to secure or improve it.

Avoiding problems

With less than three weeks until XP becomes unsupported, businesses have a very narrow window of opportunity to get their affairs in order. Here are the steps you need to take as a matter of urgency.

1. Get your machines patched

Microsoft has been releasing service packs, updates and patches for years now and it is critical that all of your business (and home) machines are fully up-to-date. Use the Windows Update tool to get your machines fully patched and up to date, to make sure you get the benefits of the updates available.

2. Get your antivirus in order

The end of support means that security holes in Windows XP will not be patched after April 8th. Security experts believe hackers and virus writers will then deliberately target Windows XP machines because they are more vulnerable to attack. Ensure you have a reputable antivirus solution installed and running on all of your computers now. Make sure that your computers are set to collect antivirus updates automatically to reduce the chance of acquiring a malware infection in between software upgrades.

3. Plan to upgrade

Sticking with XP after April 8th is not a sensible proposition because it places your corporate data in danger of loss, theft or corruption - could your business really afford the downtime? Instead you need to begin working on their plans to upgrade to a new version of Windows as soon as possible. In many cases this will mean upgrading computer hardware to fully support the resource demands of Windows 8.1.

 

Obviously a company-wide system upgrade may involve significant capital expenditure, but it is important to get planning and budget sorted out as quickly as possible. The new features of Windows 8.1 provide additional security for company data, along with tools to improve productivity, helping to repay some of the investment in upgrading.

These three steps should help keep any XP computers you have running relatively smoothly for now. You must remember that these guidelines are just a temporary measure, buying you some time until an upgrade to a new version of Windows can be performed.

If you need help getting your legacy Windows XP PCs into shape before April 8th, or would like to discuss the upgrade options available, give the Get Support IT Services team a call today on 01865 594000, drop us an email to info@getsupport.co.uk or use the contact form below.


Security: LinkedIn Hacked

Published:

A story has just broken that LinkedIn has been hacked and a file posting some (6.5 million) users passwords in encrypted form have been posted on a Russian web forum.

This isn't as bad as the passwords being in plain text but that can still be decrypted / guessed by hackers.

Linked in has not been able to confirm or deny that this information is correct. According to @LinkedIn "Our team is currently looking into reports of stolen passwords. Stay tuned for more"

What this means is that your password for Linked in may not be safe.

If your password is in the list that's been published and it's decrypted, someone may gain access your linked in account. Worse still, if you have used your LinkedIn password elsewhere, those accounts could be at risk too.

Our advice is to change your Linked In password and if you are using the same password on other websites to change those too.


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