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ExchangeDefender is opening a wider beta test of our whitelisting functionality, which allows IT Solution Providers to whitelist sender mail servers that have broken DNS (missing PTR, mismatched A/PTR records) and poor sender reputation (hosts listed on multiple RBL blacklists).

If you have a sender you would like to whitelist against these essential network tests, please open a ticket at support.ownwebnow.com with subject “Whitelist PTR/RBL: IP Address” and provide as much information in the ticket so we can accommodate this specific request. Only hard non-negotiable rejections to whitelist will be for unknown address space and dialup/consumer cable IP addresses (because due to their nature those are typically dynamically assigned address spaces that shouldn’t be relaying mail at all, they should be using their ISP mail server provided smarthost)

Requests will be reviewed and either approved (and enrolled) or rejected within 24 hours by our CSO.

Background: Inability to previously whitelist broken DNS and dynamic IP address space is rooted in our mission statement. We are here, beyond everything else, to help secure the email. We know our partners, IT Solution Providers, VARs, MSPs, etc do not have the skill set, the time to properly research underlying issues, enough data and statistical models to evaluate sender IP reputation, or even the incentive to discern how big of a security threat and compromise a specific IP address with broken DNS or poor reputation may pose to your client.

In fact, you pay us to worry about those things and keep your clients secure. But, sometimes clients like to think they know better than their technology experts, generally accepted security standards on the Internet, and ExchangeDefender. And the client is always right. But, when they get infected attachments, broadcast storm, password dumps, or other security compromises because they insisted on lowering their security – then ExchangeDefender is on the hook for securing them. And we don’t get to say “told you so” nor do we have any rapid means to fix the issue.

Since my retirement, all of those hard-line policies designed to keep clients safe beyond whatever “specific business case requirement” they may have, are slowly going away. Good news for the client, good news for the partners. Good news for us, because going forward we will start providing Email Security Engineering services – so when you get a security compromise or an usual issue and you’ve asked us to compromise your security – we will be able to address the issue on your behalf.

I choose to look at this as a positive – we will help our clients meet their business needs and get the mail they desperately need – and if something breaks we will be there to help assist with the cleanup (for a fee, of course). This, among many other service related things, is just the part of the ExchangeDefender being more responsive and service oriented when it comes to our clients demands as opposed to our expert opinion as a security policy.

Sign up for the Webinar, click here!

As promised in the last webinar, we’re moving as aggressively as possible to make sure our partners have as flexible of a tool as we can imagine to communicate with clients in the event of an IT catastrophe. Or, in our case, to further increase transparency and collaboration with all our ExchangeDefender service providers so you can get better insight into our network and when we’re dealing with a lot. That said, I believe that the product/service is now production ready and we’ve already tied it up in our ExchangeDefender Enterprise product so you’ll know as we know. 🙂

Remember, ExchangeDefender’s AnythingDown.com , or https://yourserviceproviderid.xdnoc.com – is your own brandable, real-time alert system that covers ExchangeDefender managed resources as well as your own custom defined events. 

Let’s go on a little tour, shall we?

First, here is the nearly-final look of the site. It will of course feature your logo, your contact information, and your own services but you can see that there is now a sign in section as well as nested posts – so when something is updated it’s done so in-line and can be read normally (as opposed to just seeing the latest update and not knowing what it’s about at all).

Sign in screen is for you, just provide your service provider ID and password and you’re in your own portal.

As for your users that want real-time updates via email or RSS/blog, we have a signup page (I know, I know, it’s idiotic but GDPR and EU have put this obstacle in place where we need contracts and disclosures about signing up for an email list).

Once you’ve signed in as the service provider, you will have access to manage and create new service advisories. Just click on the Add New button in the upper right corner. If you’re managing a larger NOC and have a ton of fires going on (you’re among friends, #respect) you can also search current open advisories and make sure you update the correct one.

New advisory posting is pretty flexible and gives you actually quite a bit of power to include images, links, and other multimedia. As network geeks we’re used to plain text, ASCII, 80 columns across black on white kind of alerts but in the 21st century with lots of things going on sometimes you can throw out a quick alert with a screenshot of what’s going on rather than trying to document every single detail (for example, a cloud of daily network/ISP outages as an explanation why things are moving slow or getting delayed or buffered)

And of course, you can update every service advisory.

As mentioned last month, ExchangeDefender XDNOC </a> service is all about helping us work better with the people that pay us to help protect their networks and users. I have some rather personal thoughts on that subject, which will be a matter of another post. However, when you design software and when you serve as the gatekeeper, your primary responsibility to the people you’re protecting and waking up to keep safe every day is not just to keep things going but also to keep everyone aware of what is going on to improve things – because hackers don’t take days off.

When things malfunction at other companies, they blame vendors and equipment. When things malfunction at ExchangeDefender, we build products and services so we never have to deal with the problem in the first place. As a result of a DDoS attack last month, I am happy to introduce you to our new service that will improve one area in which we undoubtedly suck the most: communication.

Say hello to AnythingDown.com:



It’s an offsite NOC alert site that’s branded for you.

At ExchangeDefender we do a pretty amazing job communicating and working with our partners, it’s actually our #1 selling point, that you can come to our offices and data centers, you can work with our team and get things done. But when something breaks, that same business friendliness and accessibility is an achilles heel – clients swamp the phones demanding to be briefed on every detail, “Friends of Vlad” call every staff cell phone they can find, the staff that is there to help/coordinate/assist in technical work cannot efficiently correspond and inform every user particularly when things go down and everything isn’t working as it should.

This is where ExchangeDefender XDNOC (aka “AnythingDown.com”) helps.

It’s off site. Doesn’t rely on our networks at all.
It’s on it’s own name space. Not dependent on our DNS/registrars.
It’s branded. Your name, your image, your message.

That last bit is pretty important – we realize that our larger clients have many employees that have never heard of ExchangeDefender, ditto for our partners that don’t want to reveal ExchangeDefender is behind their branded email offering.

Not to worry, your site is already branded and you have your own Service Provider XDNOC: https://<yourExchangeDefenderSPId>.xdnoc.com

It’s yours, it’s yours for free, and we’re just getting started. For the next week or two, the site will host ExchangeDefender content only as we add in the mechanism for RSS subscriptions, linking, SMS/txt alerts, and email notifications.

But this is just the beginning. As an ExchangeDefender subscriber you will have access to this site to tweak it as necessary and to add your own NOC alerts. That’s right, we’re not just building this for ourselves, we see it as a role of central accountability for everyone that relies on our services and all the services you use to deliver a solution. We all want to keep the client happy and informed and this will help out a lot towards that goal.

Our expectation is also to have our proprietary monitoring and alert feeds published on AnythingDown.com going forward so you can see or anticipate the issues that our infrastructure is seeing even before there are tickets or human confirmation of the problems. For many that will be way, way, way too much data but we feel it’s better to present it and get more eyes on it than hide it and hope it’s handled through automation or our staff activity.

In closing, I hope this helps. I know outages and service interruptions or performance issues or networking issues all suck, nobody wants them. They come with the territory and everyone knows it – so it’s not about technology malfunctions, it’s about your communication about the IT work that is done to make it as flawless as possible. We thank you for your business and for your continued support of ExchangeDefender that makes stuff like this possible.

ExchangeDefender has been SMB friendly – to a fault, but the era of terrible passwords and plain text passwords is finally over. Not a single piece of ExchangeDefender stores (or offers) user credentials in plain text anymore. We’ve made the transition exceptionally smooth as well, requiring no changes or IT intervention at all.

But we cannot encourage it enough. And over the next year you will see us introduce several features meant to help you lock down ExchangeDefender and use it to lock down your overall IT security strategy. We’re happy to introduce password age configuration that allows you to force users to reset their passwords automatically.

This setting can be accessed from the Domain Administrator > Policies > Features section of admin.exchangedefender.com

When the password is older than your preset number of days (by default, 90) the user will see an ugly red notice telling them to update their password.

If you set the password expiration to 0 days you will turn this feature off entirely but we cannot discourage it more. The feature is there to help your users avoid having their accounts compromised.

If you implement some of these stronger security features we’ve also got you when it comes to minimizing account management – users can reset their password at any time if they have their PIN on them. So even if their mail server is down, having their PIN handy will let them reset the password without additional authentication. Forgot your pin? No problem, we can email you a reset link to a known email address.

As you can tell, ExchangeDefender will go the extra step of helping your users configure a strong password. It will also keep memory of recent passwords so that they can’t just rotate it back and forth between the same two passwords they use elsewhere.

As you’ve seen with mass password resets , access to advanced access logging , known trusted devices and IP restrictions , we are adding more, and more, of our enterprise features to the ExchangeDefender Pro product.

To hear about all these new security features in more detail please check out the webinar  that covers our current security portfolio and how these features make sense.

 

Password Policies

You’ve seen us blog endlessly about improved security that is being rolled out with all the brand new features across our entire product and service portfolio. Trust us, this is not a simple process of just changing the password complexity requirements, people hate password changes and for the most part have become predictable in what their current and next password will be. Add to it the fact that almost everyone uses the exact same password all over the web and not a single day passes by without at least one major provider having a data breach. Sometimes it becomes comical – even LifeLock had a security issue today where they exposed a bunch of data and had to take their site offline!

So passwords suck and short of using our One Time Password / Two Factor Authentication service, it’s going to remain that way. The cool thing about ExchangeDefender, and all of our service, is that we’re going to help you better manage security and password expiration so that your users and services can remain protected and still user friendly.

New password policy at ExchangeDefender, for all of our services going forward, will be a required mixture of upper case, lower case, numbers and special characters with minimum length of 9 characters.

That is just the beginning. Some services will require a transparent OTP/2FA using your email address or cell phone as an additional real-time identity verification process. If you are about to make a large-scale change, we want to make sure it’s you and not just someone that got your password. Calling in will now require PIN or txt verification as will any service request changes – the cool thing is, if you can provide us with that information we can do just about everything you want or need through phone and chat.

The reality of security on the web is that it’s as weak as the laziest user – and it only takes one careless one to mess up the entire organization. We are on your side, we are on your team – that’s why you hire ExchangeDefender – so we’re stepping things up in terms of support and management functionality to help identify, train, and assist users when they run into an issue. Passwords and password changes may continue to suck until the end of time – but we are currently making huge changes in the way we handle support in order to help our partners and CIO’s become more productive by letting us both better secure and support users.

Have you been putting off offering or relying on Compliance Archiving to meet regulatory compliance requirements? If so, you’re among friends as most businesses tend to view it as a form of a backup until they receive a letter from a law firm. Recently we published a quick and informal techie-free post about business continuity and we wanted to do the same for archiving because the #1 thing that will keep you out of trouble is making sure your entire organization is on the same page.

With that in mind, here are three steps that your organization needs to follow to get started with Compliance Archiving:

  Step 1: Understand how your organization communicates

If you only knew what everyone did and what they had access to, things like security and compliance would be a non-issue. In the real world, organizations have a revolving door of staff, vendors, clients, laws, and projects that is constantly spinning. The notion that you can get something to manage it all, held together by IT staff and automation, is nothing short of a fantasy. Or rather, a nightmare, because you’ll get in trouble over one thing that was missed and went wrong not a million things that went right.
Our Compliance Archiving touches every message in your organization: doesn’t matter if it’s a message you sent to a client, a message you received from a vendor, or an interoffice email you sent to a coworker – we get them all. The important thing in step one is identifying the people and making sure that the way you communicate is set in stone: “We communicate with everyone through @ownwebnow.com email addresses, every ticket, every update, every inquiry, every quote, every bill pay – everything either comes from or is cc’d to an @ownwebnow.com address.”

 

  Step 2: Get a grip on your devices, apps, and processes

Convenience is the enemy of order. And if you’re going to run a business, you cannot have everyone do exactly what they want to do. Yes, Subway will make your sandwich any way you want them to, but if you walk in and order a key lime cheesecake you’re going to be hungry. Same method applies to all the devices, apps, processes, etc. The simplest, most common sense, most effortless thing to do is to just give everyone that works on your behalf an email address on your infrastructure and have them use that email for all company communications.
If they use something else, and for some reason you wish to permit that rule change in your business, request that everything is cc’d to a local shared mailbox where you can keep ownership of it. Don’t make a big deal out of it – we get our office beer and red solo cups from Costco – and believe me we don’t have a massive asset inventory tracking system around it with people signing off on stuff left and right. We just take a picture of the receipt/order form and email to a receipts@ address – done.

  Step 3: Get a regulatory compliance plan

The worst thing you can possibly do is start thinking about a plan when you’ve received a request for information or a legal hold. The good news is, step #3 is the simplest one because it’s just a matter of calling us at 877-546-0316 and talking to someone about implementing the Compliance Archiving solution. The complexity isn’t in the technology, it’s with the people and the constant sprawl of apps and devices that hold vital corporate information.

The great news about what we offer with our partners is that anything going in and out of your company can be screened, monitored, reported, and produced on demand or automatically for just a few bucks a month. The biggest challenge is knowing what to do – and you have to actually get started.

We look forward to serving you and making regulatory Compliance Archiving a breeze.

ExchangeDefender Compliance Archive was designed as a blend of services and products to help organizations achieve regulatory compliance.  This complex process is always evolving with new regulatory requirements, changes in organization structure, and unique reporting requirements.

 

At ExchangeDefender we specialize in helping organizations with their eDiscovery needs. Here are the biggest fallacies we hear all the time:

 

“We have a backup”

Email backups are not sufficient for nearly any modern regulatory compliance requirements for email retention. Not only can the messages be deleted before backups run, but running reports across the entire organization is next to impossible, not to mention excessively expensive. We recently assisted a partner managing a small 15 employee office in their backup and restore process to locate a message from 5 years ago, costing the organization over $18,000 in IT labor alone.

 “We have a product/compliance service” 

Having a product or a service subscription is different from being in compliance with regulatory requirements. The difference between having a product and being in compliance is similar to “We have a CPA” and “We have filed our tax returns on time” – mistaking the two can be costly and dangerous.

“We are never going to need that” 

Most organizations downplay the importance of long term email archiving and eDiscovery. An overwhelming majority of subscribers to our eDiscovery service don’t have a specific regulatory requirement at all, they do it to effectively defend themselves from legal threats that are all too common these days. With email being the gateway for all corporate communication, it is the first place record retentions, legal holds, and subpoenas are issued for electronic records and there needs to be a system in place to effectively deliver that information.

“What we have is enough”

Regulatory compliance goes far beyond poorly interpreted recommendations and laws. It is a process of producing reports, identifying problems, and assuring that corporate communications policies are being followed, or at least addressed, in case there is an issue. If the organization does not have people in charge of managing the compliance on a monthly basis or there are no current reports searching for dangerous or sensitive content or there is no ongoing maintenance or an established incident record – the organization is likely out of compliance even if they purchased the right software or signed up for the right service at one point.

“We have a someone managing that”

Someone is not a good person to rely on when you get a subpoena and they are even more difficult to get into a courtroom. Plus, how much would you trust them to demonstrate expertise and defend the implementation of the compliance archiving and eDiscovery solution? Many organizations make a mistake of thinking that just signing up for a service or purchasing a product is sufficient for compliance but it’s really just a starting point. You need the personnel, product, service, and reporting to fully achieve regulatory compliance.

ExchangeDefender Compliance Archiving and eDiscovery are a part of a professional service that helps get your organization and its means of communication on path to achieving regulatory compliance. Whenever someone is fully confident that they have their compliance in order we simply ask them to “show me your last Compliance Officer Report” and almost everyone struggles to produce the report or even name the Compliance Officer, the processes being used for archiving, the type of data protection, or the way in which the entire process is tested and audited. With ExchangeDefender Compliance Archiving, you not only get a service, you get a partner that will work with you every step of the way in achieving your regulatory and organizational needs for proper record keeping.

Signing up for the Compliance Archiving service is the first step in reaching regulatory compliance when it comes to email retention and eDiscovery. The following five steps will put you on the right path of achieving and maintaining that compliance:

 

1.Understand what you need to keep and for how long.

Your regulatory/oversight body will provide details about how long you are required to hold on to your email. In our experience with Compliance Archiving, you also need to pay attention to the Statue of Limitations that your business may be liable for. Very often the discovery process for lawsuits includes legal hold requests and record requests that are longer than regulatory requirement.

2. Get the right product and implement it correctly.

Your compliance has to be all encompassing – all email must be archived. With ExchangeDefender Compliance Archiving all of your inbound, outbound, and interoffice email is collected, archived and protected in the cloud. You can search for any document at any time and be certain that it has not been tampered with and that no emails have been deleted – something that sets our eDiscovery/archiving apart from backup solutions.

3. Keep an eye on it to make sure it works

Just setting up a compliance archiving solution is not sufficient enough. there is no protection for technical negligence in regulations. You are expected to keep your mail server and everything connected to it secure. Penalties for data loss, compromised credentials, and data leakage are severe and are not a valid excuse for not having compliance.

4. Create Compliance Officer reports frequently.

Compliance Officer within your organization must create reports on a monthly basis to assure no confidential information is allowed to leave the organization. Some industries have an even more specific and severe restriction on the type of communication that can take place over email and what sort of information can be sent – compliance officers run eDiscovery reports to assure nothing confidential is being shared and address problems and exceptions routinely

5. Routinely audit the entire system to maintain compliance.

Organizations grow and change over time and remaining compliant with new regulations is key. ExchangeDefender Compliance Archiving service often sends out advisories, best practices, tips and suggestions to adjust your process because you are always expected to be in full compliance with the latest requirements. Every time you add a new employee or change your mail server configuration or new lines of business – compliance must extend to cover these new records that may be of interest to someone down the road.

“One of the biggest mistakes organizations make with regulatory compliance is thinking that it’s a service, product or a one-time effort: quite the opposite!”

 

Achieving regulatory compliance means implementing the right product, conducting routine audits, complying with changes in regulations and having full control of the environment where messages are stored as employees come and go.

In the event of an audit, you will be asked to produce record and you will be judged on your ability to provide specific records that are requested, not the best effort you made in trying to achieve compliance. Considering the fines and legal complications, it makes sense to revisit the five steps outlined here annually and make adjustments as necessary.

Here is something that MSPs always get wrong when it comes to proposing Encryption and Archiving (HIPAA, compliance, eDiscovery): You can’t be something you’re not BUT you have to know the service you’re proposing. More on this topic tomorrow (if I can sneak it by the marketing)

Posted by ExchangeDefender on Thursday, April 5, 2018

Here is something that MSPs always get wrong when it comes to proposing Encryption and Archiving (HIPAA, compliance, eDiscovery): You can’t be something you’re not BUT you have to know the service you’re proposing.

Want to see part TWO of this video?
Disclaimer: There is tasteful profanity and light nudity to really drive the point of how to better interact with your clients. 🙂


ExchangeDefender: Become a Partner

65% of all emails sent are spam, what’s the solution?

At ExchangeDefender we kill SPAM for a living. We spend a ton of time and energy identifying, filtering, and destroying junk mail. If you’ve ever wondered how you could make your email experience better, even without the massive layered security that ExchangeDefender provides, these are the steps you could take today:

1. Configure strict SPF/DKIM DNS records

SPF and DKIM (DMARC) can help you protect your domain name from being used in SPAM mailbombs. Spammers will often use real email addresses and domains to send forged “spoofed” email messages and SPF/DKIM provide a mechanism for identifying which email server/platform you use. By setting up an SPF/DKIM you can tell places that are receiving email from your domain what to do if the message wasn’t actually sent from you. If your inbox is full of email bounces and non-delivery receipts, someone is using your email address to send junk mail and an SPF/DKIM record will practically eliminate bouncebacks.

2. Get rid of generic email aliases
At ExchangeDefender we manually process SPAM complaints from our customers – that’s how we train our system to eliminate messages that otherwise make it through because they are legitimate in every way we can automatically process them. The number one way to get a ton of annoying email that may be on the borderine between legitimate commercial mail and an unsolicited one: generic email aliases. If you get info@, sales@, admin@ or so on, you are painting a giant bullseye on your Inbox and practically begging to be spammed.

3. Unsubscribe from newsletters
I know, I know, everyone that has your email address supports CAN-SPAM , would never send you unsolicited mail, would never sell their client list… and even if you believe all those lies most of the time, people still get hacked. All the time! As do their ISPs and infrastructure along the way. If you want to reduce the amount of junk mail you deal with, simply reduce the number of places that have your email address. Simple!

4. Don’t click on everything in your Inbox
Sometimes SPAM gets through. Sometimes dangerous stuff from your friends and colleagues gets forwarded around. Sometimes your antivirus isn’t up to date. Sometimes the firewall virus protection is misconfigured our expired. Things happen: none are a good excuse for the simplest thing you can do: avoid clicking on anything in messages that look or seem suspicious.

5. Do not blindly whitelist major ISPs
The second biggest source of SPAM complaints at ExchangeDefender is actually completely self-inflicted: people whitelist major email providers and wonder why blatant junk mail keeps on “slipping through” as whitelisted. Go through your whitelist entries in Outlook, etc and make sure you aren’t whitelisting Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Verizon, AT&T, Hotmail or any of the widely used and abused email domains. Spammers know your email admin doesn’t want to deal with complaints about messages you’re getting from these platforms so they treat them more leniently – so spammers simply abuse them.

It’s really that simple – following these steps will cut your junk mail pile in half within a day. If you want to reduce it to less than 1%, ExchangeDefender is here for you for less than a buck a month or you can layer it and add more protection if you need it because time is money: but no amount of technology and automation can replace just a little bit of common sense.

Federal Trade Commission
CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business
The official website of the Federal Trade Commission, protecting America’s consumers for over 100 years.