Windows 7 and Server 2008 support will expire (2020)

It will be the end for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 / R2 and Small Business Server (SBS 2011) in January 2020. This means that Microsoft will put an end to security updates, bug fixes, and support for all these operating systems.

Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was launched on October 22, 2009. When this 10-year period ends, Microsoft will discontinue Windows 7 support so that they can focus their investment on supporting newer technologies. This is standard practice for each product/service they launch.

Microsoft introduced Windows 7 in July 2009. Several enterprise customers deployed Windows 7 months before Windows 10 was launched in July 2015. Microsoft officials said as of last October that more than half of all Windows devices in the enterprise area were running on Windows 10, with the rest running Windows 7 and other older versions of Windows. Yet the support clock has ticked on.

Security updates beyond January 2020

Microsoft officials have announced that Windows 7 users can continue to get security updates beyond the January 14, 2020 date.

NOTE: There are two ways, and both are designed for business customers, not consumers.

Microsoft has announced that will sell paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESUs) on a per-device basis with the price increasing each year until January 2023. These updates will be available to all Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise users with volume-licensing programs. On top of that, all customers who use Windows Software Assurance and/or Windows 10 Enterprise or Education subscriptions will get discounts.

Microsoft has agreed to provide ESUs for no additional costs to customers who utilize Windows Virtual Desktop service (WVD) which allows users to virtualize Windows 7 and 10, Office 365 ProPlus apps and third-party apps, running them remotely from Azure virtual machines.

Customers who want to virtualize Windows 7 after Microsoft support ends in January 2020 will be able to do so for three years with WVD.

Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 7

Microsoft will stop providing support and updates for Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 7 starting with January 15, 2020. Nevertheless, all customers paying for Extended Security Updates will continue to get support for three more years. In addition to Office 365 ProPlus, there are several more products that Microsoft will end support on January 2020, for example Exchange Server 2010, Windows Server 2008 / R2, and Windows 7 for Embedded Systems (except for Windows Embedded Standard 7).

NOTE: Windows 8.1 customers will continue to get security updates from Microsoft for free until January 10, 2023. Windows 10 users will get free support based on the date when their version of Windows 10 was released. Check Windows lifecycle support page from Microsoft for more details.

Although there’s nothing to keep your business from utilizing these retired operating systems even after their End of Life (EOL) in January 2020, it would be best to keep them up to date to reduce the risk of a successful cyber-attack.  We expect Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 / R2 and Small Business Server (SBS 2011) will be specifically targeted by hackers due to the known vulnerabilities post January 2020.

Security Tips for Windows 10

With Windows 10 most recent update (May 2019), Microsoft has worked hard to enhance the security of its operating system. Windows 10 now has more built-in security features than ever before to help its users safeguard against viruses, phishing, and malware attacks.

Unfortunately, if you are just relying on an antivirus app to protect you from all possible threats, you are putting yourself and your business in danger. Your business should not only have antivirus, but advanced spam filtering, back-up and training solutions implemented as well. However, we have put together a list with several tips to improve Windows 10 security and protect your data.

Don’t Disable User Account Control (UAC)

UAC is a native feature of Windows that helps prevent viruses or malicious programs from changing your system without your permission. So, you can choose to allow a program to run or not.

NOTE: Microsoft firstly integrated User Account Control in Windows Vista, but an improved version was implemented on Windows 10.

You can manage UAC from Control Panel > User Accounts > User Accounts > Change user account control settings.

User Account Control Settings

Turn off ad tracking

Many users wonder what data is being gathered about them as they browse the Internet. That information usually creates a profile of a person’s interests that is used by a variety of organizations for advertising. Windows 10 does this with the use of an advertising ID. It doesn’t just gather information about the user’s web sessions, but also about the Windows 10 apps he/she uses. You can turn the advertising ID off if you want to keep your web sessions private.

To turn off Ad tracking go to Privacy > General. Right under the title “Change privacy options” is the slider that controls the advertising ID. Click and turn it off. You’ll still receive ads, but they will be generic rather than targeted, and your interests won’t be tracked anymore.

Turn off location tracking

With location tracking feature activated, Windows 10 will know where you are. Some users will keep location tracking on because it helps the operating system give them accurate information about nearby restaurants and hotels, local weather etc. But this feature can be exploited by certain applications once they get access to your location which can be dangerous because it makes you vulnerable. Location tracking is turned on by default on Windows 10 computers.

To turn it off, open Settings and go to Privacy > Location. Click “Change” and then move the slider from On to Off. By doing that you will turn off location tracking for all users.

You can also turn it off on a user-by-user basis. If there are several people with different accounts using the same computer, each of them can turn location tracking on and off. To do that for any single account, sign into the account, go to Location Privacy Settings and instead of clicking Change, go to the slider below the word “Location service” and adjust it as you want.

Encrypt your hard drive

Even if you set a password to your Windows account, hackers can still get access to your private documents. They can easily do it by booting into their own operating system Linux. For example, from a special disc or USB flash drive. To prevent a data breach, you can either use the Windows 10 Bit Locker feature or a dedicated, more complex solution to protect your data.

Check Windows 10’s privacy settings

Microsoft allows users to choose between Privacy options. Keeping all settings enabled can become an issue when you are connected to the Internet because certain information about you and your computer will be shared with Microsoft. So, it’s best to review and disable those options in case you don’t feel like sharing information with Microsoft. To do this type Settings on the Search bar, click Privacy and turn off Windows 10 privacy settings.

Privacy options

Finally, be careful when downloading suspicious programs because a lot of viruses and malicious applications are integrated into free software.

Is your cloud data secure?

Nowadays, 1 in 3 companies using SaaS applications have lost confidential business information, and according to Datto accidental deletion is the most basic cause of cloud data loss, but it is also the most common.

Organizations face a significant liability if users delete or overwrite files, emails, or a record unintentionally, or if some employees leave the company and take sensitive files with them.

As businesses increasingly move data into cloud-based applications, many think that Microsoft or Google’s native security options are enough to keep their sensitive data secure.

Well, not really.

While a SaaS application is always available and accessible from anywhere, it doesn’t offer advanced protection against unexpected data loss and have limited capabilities for recovery. SaaS providers protect you from hardware and software failures, natural disasters, and power outages. They don’t protect you from human error or malicious acts.  Unfortunately, that could escalate into something serious.

Therefore, you need…

A Simple, Automated, and Secure Solution for your Cloud Data

Our SaaS Protection backup and recovery solution for Office 365 and GSuite separates your critical data from the environment and the user who created it, allowing you to take control of your business once again.

Our data protection solution delivers reliable and easy backups, speedy recovery, and secured data for your compliance and regulatory needs.

Organizations that don’t enforce data encryption will be more exposed to data-confidentiality issues. For instance, cyber attackers might steal data from compromised accounts or gain unauthorized access to data if it is saved in Clear Format.

Fast Recovery from Data Loss

If an employee deletes a very important document from OneDrive or an entire folder of important emails by accident, and the retention period in the Recycle Bin has expired, Microsoft or Google will not be able to recover that data. Even if those files are within your retention period, locating and restoring certain data can cost you a lot of time.

ComputerSupport will keep your data regardless of your retention plan and allows you to easily recover your files. Our reliable backups and efficient restore/export features will keep your data safe, so you never have to worry about losing your SaaS data anymore.

To Recover from Ransomware Attacks in the Cloud

NOTE: In 2017, ransomware attacks were unprecedented – WannaCry in May, ExPetr in June, and BadRabbit in late October. Mobile ransomware has risen by over 250% in 2017 and maintained the trend in 2018.

Statistically, ransomware attacks, especially in the cloud, are on the rise. Unfortunately, the question is no longer if an attack will happen, but when. However, businesses can prevent such attacks from causing massive damage relatively easily.

By backing up data, in a granular way, at regular time intervals, you can roll back your data to a point in time before the infection occurred to recover un-encrypted emails and files.

NOTE: We back up your data in compliance with Service Organization Control (SOC1/ SSAE 16 and SOC2).

As you probably know, organizations must prove that they are diligent and using correct security controls to improve data security in order to comply with industry regulations.

Employee Lifecycle Management

We enable a plain transition for employees as they cycle in and out of your organization and keep the data they created. Our solution allows admins to get access and replace departed employee data to a new account, download files directly, or simply archive a user’s dataset until the company hires a replacement.

Bottom line, your data deserves more than industry standard security

We always go the extra mile to make sure your SaaS data is secure, easily recoverable, and protected. Therefore, we provide a wide range of security services that focus on people, process, and technology. These services include security awareness training, advanced phishing and spam protection, Office 365 back-up and recovery, and network security services.