November 17, 2017
It has been a while since we’ve upgraded the ExchangeDefender UI but as you’ve seen with our other products and services, we’ve got something big coming over the next quarter: redo of all of our web interfaces to be more responsive and more useful. We’re starting with Encryption simply because it’s our most popular service. Allow me to unpack this upgrade as it’s a lot more comprehensive than it seems.
First thing you’ll notice is that ExchangeDefender will begin integration with 2FA/OTP for an additional layer of security. Two factor authentication, one time / disposable passwords, security tokens and so forth allow the users to login and use the service only if they have their password as well as a company issues OTP device. If your users tend to use the same password on multiple sites or like weak passwords that they never change please give us a call and let us set you up with a device.
On the exact opposite spectrum of concern, there are recipients of encrypted messages that generally don’t want to provide their email, name, etc or fill out long forms. For sites that interact with third party recipients (Encryption, Web File Sharing, Local Cloud, etc) we’ll now allow social media authentication as a login.
Inside the product itself you will find a fully functional email client with a responsive interface that quickly loads data without page refresh or long delays.
Since we have so many clients that actually live inside these interfaces and do bulk of their work there, we even have a lighter mode that hides a lot of the navigation and branding and helps you preserve some screen real estate.
We’ve made massive improvements to the functionality of the product as well. With so many of our encryption clients (and corporate clients) demanding a more functional email experience we’ve decided to eliminate Outlook and Gmail from the equation entirely. With the new encryption product you’ll be able to send emails, attachments, respond, forward messages and print from the site directly.
All these features are coming next week but we’re far from over: our Enterprise Encryption is getting a massive facelift as well. You’ll soon be able to create a full Compliance and Policy manager role that will be able to inspect and report on what is going through the encryption system. You’ll also be able to create specific encryption policies that will help route messages within the organization for manager approval, HR screening (man-in-the-middle role), content traps and much more very soon.
We hope you like it.. because it’s coming to the entire ExchangeDefender / Shockey Monkey universe. Our more ambitious goal is to build an entire application suite where organizations can more effectively manage their mail flow securely but also turn it into an actionable and accountable platform that doesn’t obsess with “inbox zero” and anxiety over email overload. The future looks bright.
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November 3, 2017
Sometimes perspective matters. Allow me to offer you mine as the CEO of ExchangeDefender.
Last week we held a huge webinar to announce the biggest addition to our business in over a decade. One that will see our business grow exponentially over the next few years. The response from the people that have attended the webinar has been fantastic. But if we’re being honest, we had more partners apologize for not being able to attend the webinar and ask for the recording than we had in attendance for the webinar. As always, we provide a direct link to it a few days after the event but this time we did something different.
Recognizing that our partners are swamped and busy running their business, we went a few extra steps. We called every single attendee that came to the webinar. Less than 5% answered the phone or returned the voicemail. We shot a quick 5 minute video to summarize the content of the webinar for people that are too busy. We created flyers.
Today I wrote up a bullet list summary of our webinar, again for everyone’s convenience, but I buried the big announcement as a single line bullet point half the way through the writeup and asked the marketing department to use half the newsletter to highlight our marketing and advertising efforts.
I have no doubt our new support service will be a smash hit. In fact, we’ve already been overwhelmed with the response to it. Not only will it make partners that offer these services instantly more profitable (because we’re doing the work) but it will open up a marketplace for partners that didn’t have an expertise in email security, compliance, encryption and other “real business concerns” a venue to provide the service now that someone else is going to stand behind it. I’m not worried about us, we’re doing great.
I am, however, worried about many of you. I totally understand not being able to get to a webinar, an hour is too much to ask. But if you can’t answer the phone or return a voicemail.. what are you doing to give yourself a chance to grow a business? If you’re too busy to answer the phone or see what the vendor you already work with can do to make you more effective and profitable, how are you going to implement and promote those solutions that are designed to help you? If you’re too busy with work to actually improve your work and to make it profitable, then how do you grow? How do you improve your odds to survive and thrive in an environment where big players are working tirelessly to eliminate and displace you? How do you learn about delivering the new services clients need and how do you talk to them before someone else reaches them?
We owe our business to our partners. Loyalty is a pretty big thing for me personally because I’m here thanks to the thousands of people that chose to trust us. Our business responsibility is to have your best interest in mind.
And with that, I wanted to highlight marketing. The IT world is changing and the concerns businesses face with their technology are going beyond uptime and reliability. I have assembled a great team at ExchangeDefender not just to help you deliver these services but to educate you and to help you promote that service to the business community you serve. Helping you double profits on our services next year is a short term goal. Making sure you remain relevant, profitable and successful 3-5 years from now – that’s where my mind is at.
P.S. I don’t mean to criticize anyone; I understand the time is scarce and you have a million webinars, phone calls, emails, voicemails and social media notifications. You know best how to spend your time and the last thing on my mind is trying to offend or guilt you about not attending the webinar – if you read this that way I apologize and I hope you give it another shot. Truth is, we track this stuff: partners that show up for our webinars, that take the time to consider the solutions and work with us to implement them do 23x better financially a year out (from Aug 2016 to Aug 2017) than those that don’t show up or answer the phone. Those are the numbers I know and the numbers I can track. I want that kind of success for all my partners. I have no doubt we’ll be killing it with support next year – but I feel like my responsibility to you, to all of our partners, is to help you grow. And I can do that much better through marketing efforts than we are doing right now. Hence the highlight.
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October 13, 2017
We’ve never invested as much as we have in 2017 when it comes to infrastructure and now that those massive upgrades are nearing completion, you’ll start seeing an avalanche of new features and services we’ve been working on all year starting to show up. I wanted to write this blog post to address one that is the largest piece of annoyance for our clients and that is whitelisting bounce emails and domains.
A little bit of background: Every time you see a bounce*@ email address is the last time you will see that address. These disposable, script generated addresses are only valid for a short period of time and are used by the mailing list companies to track bouncebacks and replies to their campaigns. On is generated for every single email sent out and if you look closely at them they usually have a random string or your email encoded in the user part of the email address. Whitelisting them, as so many people often try, is to put it simply: pointless. Naturally when the next email comes in from “the same sender” it’s going to have a completely different from address and the old whitelist entry will not fire. This tends to get really annoying really fast for clients that don’t understand what is going on behind the scenes.
To make things easier and assure delivery in the future, ExchangeDefender will now detect when you’re attempting to whitelist a bounce/disposable address and offer to whitelist the entire domain for you. We’ve stripped out the product branding so you can forward this to your clients or include in your own documentation/newsletter. When they click on a Trust link in an email report they will see this prompt:
And if they go through our online portal and attempt to whitelist a temporary bounce email, they will see this:
Is that all? Well, not quite. You see, most of these bounce lists are coming from legitimate sources such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, SalesForce, etc. Later this fall we will be releasing a new “Newsletter” feature but in the meantime our new managed whitelist (enterprise-wide) will make sure these bounce messages getting caught in SPAM folders due to their contents (but from legitimate sources) are no longer something your clients have to worry about fishing out. So yay, less work for everyone involved!
One more thing
While we’re on the “less work” train, infections and filename/filetype policy violations will no longer involve going through our team to release messages. You can now release infected or policy violating attachments/messages on your own through the Domain login at https://admin.exchangedefender.com. (psst. You can even let your clients / CIO types access this since it’s a domain-level feature, not an MSP-level feature)
Proceed with caution though, delegating access to this content is still a terrible idea though and please make sure you have adequate sandbox/antivirus/anti-rootkit software installed anywhere you download these. For every legitimate release request we get there are dozens of “No, my client does a lot of business with UPS and they definitely need that .exe that UPS emailed them.”
We hope these new features make you more productive and safer online. We’re really excited about everything else we have coming up!
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September 6, 2017
I held a quick webinar to get all of our partners and clients in the way of Hurricane Irma up to speed and all the contingencies you need to make in advance of the storm. In Florida and Texas we unfortunately get plenty of time to practice and live roll with disasters but if you have new staff, this is something you need to be doing with your clients continuously. If you don’t feel like watching a 12 minute video, here is a brief writeup.
First of all: We’ll be here. 24/7. If you’re in the path of the storm you will likely face severe outages, downtime, lack of reception, eventual lack of battery power and network congestion in a disaster area. Here are things to keep in mind and get on top of as far as we are concerned.
In the event our support portal ever goes offline, the secondary infrastructure in Los Angeles will pick up the load at:
In the event of an outage, we probably aren’t the only vendor you need to stay on top of. So if you do social media, you can track our activity and advisories here:
In the event that the net goes down, and it usually does, make sure you can get in touch with us. Our numbers are 877-546-0316 or 407-465-6800
In the event that you lose network connectivity or your LTE/4G suddenly becomes Edge/GPRS, you will likely be calling us for support and network changes. We’ll need your PIN to make any account or configuration changes to make sure you and your techs have that ready now. If you haven’t seen your pin in a while or if you’d like to reset it, it’s at support.ownwebnow.com under your contact preferences.
In the event that your power goes down, Exchange/ActiveSync will chew through your battery quickly. Make sure you setup your ExchangeDefender LiveArchive IMAP/SMTP now. Make sure you test the IMAP-SSL/SMTP-SSL part in the event that your mobile carrier blocks 587. We have a few LiveArchive frontends so if you’ve only ever heard of https://livearchive.exchangedefender.com you’ll want to login into the admin portal and find out which LiveArchive client access server you should be using. Do yourself a favor and set your LiveArchive-To-Go account, it’s free and it can sit on your phone dormant, just flip it on when you need it. Not only will it use far less bandwidth than Exchange/EAS, it will make your battery last a lot longer.
Finally, print out the client auth dump. This will give you all the credentials you’ll need to provide to your clients to get them back to work if their servers or networks go offline. Trust me, you want to do this now. I have fielded countless panicked calls from IT people charging their cell phone in the trunk of their car trying to get credentials reset and configured for their clients – plan this now.
Some other ideas and suggestions:
1. Any important data that you imagine you’ll need on the go: Encrypt it and take it with you on physical media. For really important stuff like insurance, routing, VPN, etc make sure it’s printed out and you have all the relevant phone numbers.
2. Take pictures of all the gear you’re leaving behind and do a video walkthrough of the setup. Trust me, you’ll forget to take a picture of something.
3. I’d like to repeat #1: Print a hard copy of contact points, client info, anything you will need to obtain assuming both computers and networks are unavailable or batteries drained.
4. Agree on a cloud based chat system to keep in touch with your staff. This is essential.
5. Publish and announce an offside advisory site. As you start restoring services, you need to keep your clients in the loop – nothing worse than recovering from a disaster and simultaneously having to listen to someone whine or nag for an ETA that is just slowing you down. Make sure you have a Twitter or Facebook account to point them to for an update. You probably don’t want to call a thousand people back. Expect their phones to be off too because they probably have power issues as well.
6. I cannot stress this enough: Reconsider your name server infrastructure. If your DNS is provided by the same company, or if all your name servers are on the same network, subnet, etc and it goes down you are dead.
7. Setup a cloud failover crash site. If you own your own mail server, setup mailboxes just in case – if you’re going to be down for days you’ll probably want to use email in the meantime. If you’re wrong worst case scenario is you’re out a month worth of email hosting.
8. Fly someone far away. I heard Utah is beautiful and relatively hurricane-proof.
9. This one is personal: setup a remote VPN server. If all your routes, trusted networks and servers are offline you’ll have a hard time getting to the infrastructure you’re expected to manage – your clients may come back online before you do. Stand up an openvpn cloud instance with a static IP address for the time being and trust it across your network.
10. This is a bummer, and almost illegal for me to say as a Floridian, but as this is a category 5 storm it’s a really good idea to stay sober. You may be needed at a moments notice, if things get really bad you’ll really want to be aware of your surroundings and have full capacity to handle multiple outages and issues at once. Many of you are IT solution providers and someone is paying you to think about #1 – #9 I mentioned here… I’ve seen things explode well before the hurricane comes in and days after the storm passes.
Stay safe. Plan and prepare accordingly but rest assured that we’re here for you. And some of us are in Utah too. 🙂
P.S. Yes, our logo is a hurricane. Yes, we noticed 🙂
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April 4, 2016
A major feature folks have been requesting from ExchangeDefender for a long time is better password policies. The first step in that direction is going to be having the ability to support password expiration. We have moved forward with this request as we realize the importance of forcing password changes on a security platform. One feature that was implemented recently that you guys might have seen pop up in your admin portal is domain Password Expiration.
If you navigate to a specific domain’s configuration you can see you now have the option to implement 30, 60, or 90 day password expiration for all the users on a domain. Initially when the feature is enabled it will tag all the current accounts on the domain / domain aliases, then depending on what option you selected 30,60,90 days out upon logging into the admin portal it’ll require the user’s to change their password before allowing any other functionality. Clients can be proactive about changing their password regularly and avoid the prompt by using the Password Change in their own settings after logging into the portal.
However, I think we know that that will not generally be the case. Once their password has expired upon logging into the Admin Portal they will be redirected to change their password before they will be allowed to login.
If you have any questions regarding this feature email me at email@example.com
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March 3, 2016
There has been a lot of news coverage of the new wave of ransomware infecting businesses, encrypting hard drives and data on network shares and creating a “ransom” demand in order to unencrypt it. Initially these viruses traveled as typical viruses do – as executable attachments or inside zip files. Most popular of these was CryptoLocker which has made millions of dollars from businesses that didn’t have adequate protection, most recently from a Hollywood hospital that paid $17,000 to get it’s data back. But ransomware has taken a more evil turn – traveling not as an executable that users have been trained to avoid but as a macro inside Word and Excel documents that users often open without a second thought.
As with any threat, it’s important to layer protection and defend your business with a good firewall, good desktop security product as well as a perimeter scanning service we provide through ExchangeDefender.
ExchangeDefender Layered Protection
Before we discuss how ExchangeDefender protects you from ransomware, the most important aspect of IT security isn’t prevention – it’s education:
If you receive an attachment of any kind from a source you don’t recognize: do not open it.
If you receive an attachment from a source that you do recognize but it looks and feels suspicious: do not open it. If the email address looks wrong, if there are misspelled words, unusual formatting or unusual activity: stop.
But let’s talk about prevention. Our partners have many options of using ExchangeDefender to stop the spread of dangerous malware.
Attachment & Content Type Blocking: The following process is the most flawless, but most disruptive, way to address an epidemic. You can choose to let ExchangeDefender block attachments that are used by Microsoft Office documents. We do not recommend this route but it’s nice to know it’s there for the events in which people are getting infected and virus scanning has not been able to pick up threats faster than they are infecting systems.
OLE Virus Filtering: ExchangeDefender will block macro (.vbs) attachments outright. But with the rise of Locky ransomware we now also scan Microsoft Office documents and look for infected and dangerous malware placed in those.
Known Threat Sources: ExchangeDefender also blocks dangerous content before it’s even an issue. Most of the threatening content is sent from the same sources that are popular with spammers, hackers and malware distributors: hacked PCs, servers, and blog sites. We maintain a realtime list of networks that spread dangerous content and routinely block their ability to infect our users.
Firewall & Site Blocking: Ultimately, the largest single source of infections isn’t the ExchangeDefender protected or hosted mailbox – it comes through Yahoo mail, Gmail and other non-business email service. If you aren’t blocking those at your work you need to be.
What else can be done?
As mentioned above, client education is the #1 way to address these. Contact our marketing department and ask them to build you a branded best practices flyer for email and Outlook (Hosted Exchange clients only). There are very simple ways to tell when a message is not from your bank or from UPS.
Establish a regularly scheduled backup system for all critical client PCs.
Layer your antivirus protection. No, one AV vendor is not enough and ExchangeDefender uses several commercial and dozens of proprietary data sources to detect and isolate dangerous content. No matter how much you love your single AV vendor and they claim they are the best – like everyone else they will have an infection evade their scan. If you only have one AV engine, consider adding something like ClamAV to your arsenal.
Establish a review of policies and security implementations. We often see that partners rarely configure ExchangeDefender or monitor it in a way that gives them actionable intelligence. The same can be said for client PCs: Are you monitoring your AV implementations? Are you checking that users aren’t turning off AV or firewalls? Are you looking at strange traffic patterns, use of private proxy or VPN networks to evade network security policies?
CryptoLocker and Locky are neither the first nor the most dangerous threats networks face. But with ExchangeDefender, education and layered security we can keep most online outbreaks from affecting business operations.
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February 13, 2015
Today I’ve published an update for LocalCloud, which addresses a few issues that would result in a failure to upload a file. This issue would only occur under certain conditions and was only prevalent in large files It’s turns out this was a result of a known bug inside the .NET framework and how it handles event notifications for the filing system. In addition to resolving this bug, I’ve also implemented a few performance enhancements that should make the application run smoother.
If you’re running a previous version make sure to uninstall it first. However, we’ve upgraded to a new installation platform and all future updates will be patched automatically.
Several months ago we added the LocalCloud feature set into our ExchangeDefender mobile application for both the iPhone and Android. Now you have the ability to access your files from your desktop, mobile workstation and practically any mobile device!
If you have never heard of LocalCloud, it’s a cloud based storage solution for documents. It recognizes multiple file types and is 100% compatible with office applications. You can share documents between computers and even allow other individuals access to your files. With multiple access points comes great responsibility, for this we have access control. This feature allows you or another individual to “check-out” files to prevent accidental overwrites while the data is exchanged in the cloud.
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February 10, 2015
Throughout the day we receive hundreds of requests for new services and existing account modifications. Luckily we automated this process from a very early stage and this helped to prevent 99% of account provisioning errors. Believe it or not, there was once a time where everything was processed manually!
However on occasion when there is a hiccup, then it’s simple a matter of locating the source of the issue. While issues on our end are rather easy to diagnose and fix, it’s not always as simple on the partner’s side. There can be a handful of issues that can arise if the account is not properly configured or contains an invalid parameter.
This is why we’ve implemented a well overdue feature integrated directly inside the service manager. If you select the drop down box next to any Hosted Exchange account, you will see a new option called “Check Configuration”.
After selecting this option you will be brought directly to the “Check Configuration” page. It will automatically populate the email address from the previous screen and run the initial check. Also keep in mind that you are able to test other accounts without leaving this page.
It will perform several checks including: Syntax, Server Location, Provisioning, MX Record, Autodiscover and validates that the account is protected by ExchangeDefender. In the event an issue arises you have the option to either “Email” or “Open Ticket” which will automatically include the onscreen results.
We believe that solving the issue promptly makes for a better long term relationship. So if there are any features or adjustments we can make to help smooth the transaction between you and your clients, don’t hesitate to let us know! Our support staff eagerly awaits the opportunity to speak with you about how we can continue to improve our process!
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February 2, 2015
Over the years we’ve always had a desire to increase the aspects of reporting in several areas. However due to time restraints and prioritizing our efforts towards ensuring we made our platform completely stable and continuing to provide a rock solid solution, we had to defer until later.
This has been the case for the last few years. We all worked insane hours to ensure that everyone had an awesome product, that they would be proud to call their own! Now we are enjoying the fruits of our labor and focusing on creating more of the eye popping visual features that will really help showcase our product!
As a result, I’m proud to showcase one of our latest ExchangeDefender features.
While signed in as a (Service Provider) account, you can view the licensing page located under: Licensing->Management. Here you could see the total seat count for the desired domain at a glance. We’ve expanded this to also include the ability to list each individual account under the domains. This is a toggle-able option that is off by default to help limit the initial page load for those who don’t want the extra information.
Not only that, you also have the ability to save and download a PDF of the current view. This has been highly requested by several users as to provide them the ability to keep archived copies of their seat counts each month for financial records. Other users have simply expressed the need to print these reports, which we have also implemented with one click access.
Lastly we understand that our partner’s clients also like to be kept in the loop about their spam information from time to time. Listed next to every domain is the ability to view and print the current SPAM statistics for that account. All of this information is simply one click away, quick and easy access to the information your clients want to see!
Stay tuned we’re working on even more exciting features to help ease the load of bringing a new client on-board and continuing to manage that account!
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December 2, 2014
Over the past few weeks, we’ve improved some core functionality inside of our Outlook SMTP Security Platform. We’ve reviewed customer feedback on a few issues, features requests and overall usability. In addition to the software improvements, we’ve introduced a new feature available to all ExchangeDefender Pro customers (not available in Essentials).
This new feature is called the Robot Filter. The feature allows for automatic processing of newsletters into a sub folder within your inbox. Messages that are deemed to match the extensive rule set are quickly processed and sent to this folder.
This works for existing (unread) messages and new messages that arrive after Outlook has been launched. Also if you come across a message that was missed, you can use the “Flag Robot” button to report that sender and catch future messages. Now when you come into work, you don’t have to spend hours going through your daily newsletters. However these messages will still exist perfectly save inside of the Robot Filter folder to be reviewed at your convenience. In the event you locate a message that you don’t want flagged, you may click the button that says “Always Inbox” to have the rules skip the designated sender.
You may also use the “Report Spam” anywhere inside of your inbox to quickly flag a message and submit the headers to us for improved filter results.
Use our product and if your not happy tell us how to improve, that’s all we ask!
Your feedback shapes our future developments, so tell us what you need.
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