Filter: Email

hosted exchange

Benefits of Hosted Exchange 2016

Hosted exchange is quickly becoming increasingly popular as the most vital communication tool in business today is email. Everyone knows of Microsoft Exchange as the world’s leading platform for business communication and collaboration, with more than 470 million mailboxes worldwide leveraging Exchange to utilize the combined power of email, calendar and contacts. The cost of implementing and maintaining a stable and reliable email & group collaboration services can prove to be prohibitively expensive–especially with the overhead costs of buying a server, paying for licenses, and installation.

A Hosted exchange Solution allows businesses, both large or small, to utilize enterprise level messaging in order to access emails and notes on the server from anywhere in the world, with a few clicks from any web browser. You will be able to see your Outlook with calendar dates, meeting schedules and any relevant notes even when you are out of the office. Microsoft Exchange Server provides you with a smarter working environment thanks to mobility, collaboration, and group scheduling features—all without having to purchase expensive infrastructure and licenses.

When deciding on the type of exchange server to best suit your company, the most important factor to take into consideration is the size of your business. If you are running an enterprise with more than 50 employees, then it may be better to choose a local, in-house server as it will be more cost-effective. If a medium or small business does  not have the budget for a local exchange server but still desires the same support and functionality, then Hosted Exchange Server may be the right fit. With Hosted Exchange you are basically renting an off-site server in a secure location for office processes to work smoothly on-site. It is designed for organizations to tap into cloud services with no fees upfront, while keeping their mailboxes on premises.

Top Benefits of Using Exchange 2016 Hosting

There are many benefits for businesses to use Microsoft Exchange 2016.  We especially like the server for its pricing, productivity, personalization, all-time/any-time access, and security benefits.

Pricing. The cost of setting up a hosted version of Exchange 2016 is minimal. It allows businesses to lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by using the provider’s hardware, infrastructure, and personnel. All services that your business will require, from hardware redundancy, data redundancy, to managed support, is factored into a low, monthly rate. Additionally, there are no charges for upgrade, replacement or maintenance on physical hardware that supports your exchange server.

Productivity. With Hosted Exchange, teams can collaborate easily and efficiently on projects using Microsoft applications and services, such as Outlook. Users can easily manage distribution lists, track messages, and edit personal information-tasks; which represent a large portion of help desk calls in many organizations. Using Global Address and Distribution Lists your employees will be able to share company contacts and distribution with everyone on the roster. Shared calendars allow you to see when team members may be free for meetings.

Personalization. Hosted Exchange enables a personalized experience for businesses and their employees and other users  right from the beginning. You can still make changes quickly and easily when necessary. Businesses also receive specialized technical support 24/7 directly from your provider. If there are any problems with the services functionality, the provider is able to address and resolve your issues immediately.

All-time, Anytime, Anywhere Access. With Exchange 2016, business can be conducted not just from the office, but from anywhere your day takes you. You have access to all of your information at all times, from anywhere in the world. Exchange 2016 allows everyone on your team access to mission critical data and communications from anywhere with any internet connection through Outlook, Outlook Web Access (OWA), and mobile devices (ActiveSync).
Security.  With hosted Exchange 2016, the secure connection between your Outlook client and the Exchange server surpasses all the major security requirements. There is standard spam and virus filtering with every mailbox. There may also be other safety measures incorporated like remote device wipe to keep your data and information secure, both on your desktop and even on mobile devices. Also, most hosting providers ensure that all emails and information to the Exchange is encrypted to keep sensitive company communications safe from prying eyes.

Standout Features of Exchange Server 2016

The new multi-role mail server product from Microsoft, Exchange 2016, has been forged in the cloud and it combines innovations in architecture with a focus on hybrid solutions for enterprise customers, web-based Outlook, improved document collaboration, eDiscovery functionality, data loss prevention upgrades, collaboration and search.

1. Architecture Changes

The Client Access server role has been removed from Exchange Server 2016 to reduce the number of servers needed to run Exchange. Hub Transport, Unified Messaging and Client Access Role have been merged to Mailbox Role, which has a client access services component.

Database failover times have been substantially reduced in comparison to Exchange Server 2013 by adding mailbox servers to a Database Availability Group, for high-availability protection to Exchange Server deployments.

MAPI over HTTP is the default email protocol in Exchange 2016, for Outlook to connect and communicate with Exchange server more securely. If outlook client does not support this protocol, it can also connect using Outlook Anywhere with either MAPI over HTTP or RPC over HTTP.

2. Server Improvements

Exchange Server 2016 has simpler deployments, with reliability improvements and reduced wide area network (WAN) costs. There is also BitLocker protection of data at rest and extensive support for larger disks in Exchange Server 2016.  It has a database divergence detection feature to identify corruptions, and also the ability to initiate some automated repair features, for quicker recovery from failures.

The new Exchange Server 2016 has an improved data loss prevention scheme, with added templates for other countries to identify, monitor, and protect 80 different types of sensitive information.

Exchange Server 2016’s eDiscovery has a superior new search architecture that distributes search work across multiple servers, for more accurate and complete results. Microsoft has introduced e-discovery search tools called Compliance Search for running a single search across large numbers of mailboxes in an organization, using analytics based on its Equivio acquisition.

Another great improvement is that Exchange Server 2016 also has new audit log capabilities for better integration with third-party software products. The Hybrid Configuration Wizard in Exchange 2016 has become a cloud-based application that can be downloaded and installed. It quickly supports changes in the Office 365 service and has improved diagnostics and troubleshooting capabilities. It is easier to synchronize multi-forest hybrid deployments with on-premises Active Directory Connect.

3. Client Improvements

Microsoft has improved both the Outlook desktop client and the Outlook Web App client for document collaboration and mobile productivity. Outlook on the web supports Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer 11 and latest versions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari Browsers.

New functions such as Sweep, Undo, Pins and Flags have been added together with features that include creating calendar events, inline reply, single-line inbox view, composing, search, pop out emojis, and thirteen new themes with graphic designs, switching folders, as well as improved HTML rendering. Users can add contacts from their LinkedIn accounts in outlook on the Web.

Instead of having to attach a file to the message on Outlook 2016 or on Outlook on the web, users can attach it to OneDrive for Business, to utilize co-authoring features built into these products. If any user receives an email with Word, Excel, or PowerPoint that file is stored on OneDrive for Business, the user can view and edit that file in Outlook on the web alongside the message. The user should have an Office client license to edit the attachment though.

The “smart in-box” in Outlook makes finding e-mails and attached documents easier, with Search now providing suggestions based on mailbox data and key words from email content.

You get limitless number of email addresses, with large disc space for each mailbox, which means you never have to delete important emails from your inbox.

Make the Smart Choice with Hosted Exchange 2016 for Your Business

If your business wants to keep up with the technological advances of the modern workspace, then Hosted Exchange 2016 makes for a smart and affordable choice. Communicating has never been more effective and secure!

Spam-Proofing Your Site To Save Your Inbox From Unwanted Email

Spam mail, including unsolicited commercial email and unwanted bulk email, is an endemic problem that plagues our inboxes daily. This menace costs businesses billions of dollars worth of lost working time, resources, and expenditure on anti-spam measures. Each day most of us receive more spam than real email.  These unwanted emails offer dubious products, doubtful financial services, promotions for prescription drugs, and invitations to pornographic websites. Despite advances in tools to protect against spam, the truth is, you just cannot escape it — and it hurts. Spam wastes resources, takes up bandwidth, increases frivolous internet traffic, and burns legitimate marketers because people tend to dismiss genuine emails when overwhelmed with spam.

Why Are You Getting So Much Spam?

To stop spam dead in its tracks, it is vital to understand how spammers target an email address to send unsolicited mail. There are two ways spammers find valid email addresses that they then turn into a spam list.

  • Dictionary Harvest Attack: Spammers send mail to general mailbox names such as admin@mydomain.com. This technique can be nullified by using unique email account names instead of general accounts.  Replace admin@mydomain.com with mycompany.admin@mydomain.com
  • Email Harvesting:  This technique is the preferred method for identifying valid and responsive email addresses. Spammers can harvest email addresses by stealing them from websites using “spambots” to automatically crawl web pages looking for forms, comments, user logins, and valid email addresses and add them to their mailing lists. Spam lists of active emails are then traded in bulk to make the email address available to more spammers over time, resulting in thousands of spam messages.

Email harvesting is devastating and you can end up receiving large amounts of spam if you are placed on these lists. Though the law specifically states that you have to opt-in to mailing lists and also be able to unsubscribe from the list, spammers ignore the law with impudence.

Most websites have their email advertised on the contact page for their clients, customers, or visitors to get in touch easily. Chances are if you have your email written plainly out there, or you are using a ’mailto’ link then you are probably getting a constant barrage of voluminous, offensive, and unsolicited emails. Spammers are becoming more creative in designing new ways of finding vulnerabilities in traditional anti-spam methods; therefore, webmasters must be constantly improving the anti-spam tactics for their own websites.

Avoiding Spam When Posting an Email Address

How can you stop these annoying automated spambots from compromising your website and sending email spam to the website owner?  There are a number of tips and tricks you can effectively use to prevent spambots from putting your email address on spammers’ lists, while still giving your visitors ways to easily get in touch with you.

Address “Munging”

Address munging is the practice of disguising an email address to prevent it from being automatically collected by unsolicited bulk email providers.

Use Plain Text

To prevent spambots from harvesting addresses on your web pages, you can hide them. The common practice is to place your email address on a page by using a link for people to click on.  While it is easy for your users, spambots can still see emails hidden behind an html link. Spambots generally look for patterns of text to identify them as an email address. Email addresses always contain an @ so spambots scan the page to find the @ symbol. An effective technique for disguising your email address from spambots is by eliminating the @ symbol from addresses and substituting it with words. For example-
youremail-at-example.com
youremail(at)example.com
youremail AT example DOT com
Admittedly, this is not how most web users are used to seeing email addresses and it may prove inconvenient for some users who may not recognize it as a valid email address.  However, employing this technique will keep the pesky spam crawlers away, and most human visitors will easily be able to replace the words with the correct symbols and contact you.

Use ASCII Character Codes

It is also possible to completely disguise an email address with its corresponding ASCII codes.  Human users will be able to see the addresses without any apparent munging. So for example, to represent the @ symbol, you can use the machine language for representing characters on a web page @ (ampersand number-sign six four semi-colon).
youremail@example.com
youremail@example.com

To any human visitor the following formatted addresses will all appear the same, if they are included in the HTML of your site because their browsers automatically translate the character code; however, most spambots will not be able to recognize the codes.  That said, some address-harvesting spambots can already read ASCII character codes.

Disguise Your Email Address By Adding Javascript Code

With more advanced spam harvesting techniques being used today, munging your email address alone will not be enough to stop spambots from misusing your email. Rather than simply writing your email address straight out, consider the user-friendly way of veiling your email address with JavaScript to guard it from spambots.  To do this you would insert the code into an HTML Snippet on the page so that the email address still appears as a clickable link to the users. You must have Javascript enabled in your browser for the email address to appear like a normal, clickable email address. The code separates the different elements of your address, so bots can’t extract it. Harvesters trying to interpret the Javascript run the risk of being stuck in infinite loops or crashing from malformed Javascript.

Post Your Email Address As An Image

You can hide your email address in an image by using popular graphics imaging programs to encode your email address as a GIF, PNG, JPEG, or other standard web format. You can also post your email as an image using free online Email-Address-to-Image converters. Forego the “mailto” link on the image. Spambots are not likely to be capable of optical character recognition needed to process the contents of images. The downside is that users still need to retype the email address in order to send you a message and visually impaired visitors may not be able to access your address.

Identifying and Blocking Spambots

Spambots can modify their behavior to fight off munging techniques.  The next likely defense is to identify visitors that are likely to be spambots and deny them access to your page or simply not make your email address visible to them at all.

Add A Contact Form

Users on text-based browsers like Lynx will not be able to see your email addresses. It’s a good idea to have an alternate means for users to be able to get in touch with you.  A “contact us” form allows users to email you through the website.  A well-constructed contact form does not publish your email address to the public and all communication made through contact forms are sent indirectly to you through your content management system. Adding a contact form keeps spammers away but unfortunately spambots may still be able to send you email this way. You can secure your web forms by using validation methods to prevent spambots from filling out forms. The best method is using CAPTCHA links on your webforms and using hidden Honeypots to check if you are a real human and to filter out automated bots from extracting your address to add to their list.

Check The Referer String

The referer string provides an indication as to how your visitors linked over to your website.  Generally, spambots do not set the referer string, or they have it set to some third-party’s URL, so you can spot robots by looking for referer strings that come from a remote website in order to limit their access to any email addresses on your page.

Set Up A Robots TXT File

Site owners can set out instructions using a robots.txt file to restrict robots from accessing your website. In order to determine the robots to block, you should do some research on the robots likely to invade your site.  If there is not enough reliable information about a robot or its function seems questionable, simply block it by using the robots.txt file.  You can control how your site is crawled with the robots.txt file using the ‘User-agent’ rule to set who the rule applies to.  You can also use ‘Disallow’ to specify the files or folders that are not allowed to be crawled.

Use Mod_Rewrite

In case a robot is found not obeying the robots.txt file you can use mod_rewrite to block bots from finding your email. You can check with the server administrator of your primary hosting company to find out if you have mod_rewrite installed and the permissions to edit the .htaccess file.  If you do not have this permission you will not be able to use mod_rewrite.

A Little Effort Goes A Long Way

Most spam prevention techniques are about staying ahead of the curve.  While they may not be able to completely protect your email address from spammers, they will certainly reduce the offenses. Keep your primary address off public websites and post alternative addresses that you do not mind being compromised. Cleaning up spam promptly will discourage spammers, who will move on to easier targets. Most importantly, always stay up to date with the latest methods of fighting spam.

domain names for email

Registering Domain Names for Email Solutions Personal and Business.

Every company needs a memorable domain name so that people can find their website easily. A domain name is what is typed into the address bar to locate your website, such as www.lunarpages.com and it is also used in company email addresses which is why domain names for email is so important, such as tom@domainname.com. Without a suitably professional domain name, it will be difficult to set up either a website or personalized email solution to reflect your business brand.

Types of Domain Names

Switching domain names later can get tricky as it is hard to reband and rename your domain names for email. Since you will be stuck with your online domain name for a long time, be wise in your choice. Your domain name will become part of your brand, as it will be important to users finding you online and it will be listed on all of your company stationary and literature.

Domain names are classified by extensions like .com, .net, .biz or .org. Some name extensions are linked to countries such as .uk for the United Kingdom or .de for Germany. There are no restrictions on who can buy specific domain names. The most popular and familiar domain names that lend credibility to websites are .com, .org, and .net. It is worthwhile for businesses to keep their domain name short & simple and – depending on the availability – find one of these extensions.

Choosing Your Domain Name

Your company’s domain name forms a crucial part of your online presence and branding. Domain names should ideally be easy to remember and intuitive, rather than being too creative or using tricky elements such as hyphens also domain names for email should be something easily remembered. If you want to be creative, select something broad to cover future expansion; otherwise, be specific to what you do if you don’t use your business name as your domain.

Keep in mind that the registration fee for a domain is a recurring cost, as you’re only buying the right to use it for a period of time. Do not fall for super cheap deals for the first year, followed by price increases for the years after. Find a provider who offers you freedom to use the domain name however you may choose to and does not charge you to transfer your domain elsewhere. This way you can buy the domain name from one company and set it up to work with your website and email system supported by another company. It is important to note that the domain name should always be registered in your company’s name, even if an outside IT supplier is registering it for you. You always want to retain ownership of your domain.

Get Email Solutions

Once you have wisely chosen a domain name, the next thing to consider is your email. The success of any business depends on a communication network. Unfortunately, businesses often make the mistake of using unreliable free online email services. These services may not work across all platforms and are likely to attract viruses & spam. When setting up a business email system, it is best to estimate how many email addresses you will need and how you want to access your email. For example, in addition to having your email on your computer, you may want to access it remotely or on a mobile device. Many email services also have a limit to the size of attachments and the number of messages you can store. These are all important things to consider when deciding on a system.

Business Email Options

  1. Use a free email service– examples include Hotmail or Gmail. These choices may limit options for businesses; however, they may be adequate for your needs. There are paid versions with some extra business features too. You will have to manage these options yourself in most cases, and the domain name will not reflect your business.
  2. Buy an email service package- use a web hosting firm who will set you up on a hosted email system that is both inexpensive and frees you from worry about the technical side of things. You may also purchase the premier hosted business option, Outlook Exchange, through a web host. This option does allow you to use your business domain and is probably the best option for most companies to choose domain names for email.
  3. Host it yourself- on a networked server. Get the flexibility of a company email system and create as many email addresses at no extra cost. However, you may need to outsource the job to an IT supplier. For many companies, this is not the best option, unless you have hundreds of email addresses, as it requires fairly constant management for security and uptime.

Once the email system is set up, users will need a way to access their email. This requires accessing email through webmail, or by installing email software on each computer or using an office suite. The most commonly used business email software is Microsoft Outlook.

Your email solutions may be customized with a built in range of services such as spam and virus filtering, hosting, groupware tools, archiving Outlook Web or mobile Access, and fax to email solutions that can be scaled up or down according to your needs.

Let’s Get Started

Registering a domain name and setting up an email solution for your business can be a tedious task for some people. Businesses need to concentrate on critical jobs at hand rather than technical chores. For the success of your business and to ensure your domain names for email system fits your needs, you may consider an external hosting provider that can get the job done for you. This will in turn give you peace of mind that the job is in the right hands and getting done correctly.

If you choose an external hosting provider to help you, your job is essentially limited to providing the email addresses you need to use, the access that is needed, and the features you want included. After that, all work is done for you, your email is set up, and you’ve put the management and security of your email in the hands of IT professionals. And you can get focused on growing your business.

How to Create Credible Mailing Lists That Won’t End Up in Spam

Email as a means of communication and as a marketing channel are still relevant today. Legitimate email marketers contact subscribers and prospects via email to convert them into buyers on a daily basis. But it is not unusual for some email campaigns to get spam filtered thus ruining your database marketing efforts. Running into spam filters can adversely affect your business because intended recipients won’t be able to read your emails, your bounce rates will go up, and your email open rate and click-through-rate (CTR) will decrease. All of this can even result in your email service provider suspending your account.   To avoid this it is important to understand how spam filters work and the technical specifications that may be hurting your email deliverability.

The Email Journey

An email message embarks on a long journey to the recipient’s Inbox.  There is a lot that happens after the “send” button is clicked or after an automatic script starts sending bulk mail.
The message is routed to your mail server, which can block the email from ever leaving your server if there is a lengthy attachment (often no more than 25 MB per message) or if your business has reached the daily limit of sending emails (generally about 100 emails sent per day).

The recipient’s mail server can also bounce the email, if your IP or domain is blacklisted, if it detects any viruses, or identifies what it perceives to be spammy content. We will talk a little more about how you can avoid this in the “Content” section below.

The last pit stop is your target market’s email client, which has built-in spam filters to block any email because of viruses and spam-like content.

What is Spam?

We know that the email journey can be very short if the sender or recipient’s email server identifies what it believes to be spam.  But what is spam?  Spam is unsolicited, irrelevant bulk email, sent to a list of people without their consent. Sending targeted marketing emails to a purchased list of email addresses will add up to nothing if your email lands in the Spam folder. Your email marketing campaign runs the risk of being marked as spam and spoiling your company reputation with your ISP or email service provider, if you do not regularly verify your email list for valid email addresses and also get explicit permission to contact prospects.
Legitimate marketers can beat spam filters and still get their emails into the recipient’s inbox by setting up the technical specifics correctly, keeping an eye on the email’s content, avoiding spammy copy, and ensuring engagement (opens and clicks). A good email list should be about sending permission-based messages to customers and subscribers, with information about relevant products or services they may be interested in. Following some of these principles can help turn your ‘bad’ list around.

Technical Specifics

Spam filters run checks for appropriate email authentication and your sending IP’s reputation before delivering your emails or choosing to discard them as spam. Your email server should support these protocols (DKIM, SPF, Sender-ID, and Domain Keys) and ensure they are properly implemented.

ISPs and spam filter providers check for the two most common authentication standards (SPF and DKIM) to help verify whether the email comes from a trusted source.  Your freebie email address may be putting your email delivery rates at risk because of the lack of email authentication.  

Spam filters look at your sending IP reputation before deciding on the fate of your emails. To prevent being blacklisted, it is essential to maintain a good IP reputation by implementing Permission-Based Marketing techniques, warming up your IP address and ensuring proper list management.

If your email server is on a blacklist, you will definitely have deliverability issues. Monitor blacklists and set up alerts. If you haven’t abused the rules, request removal by emailing the ISP abuse address. 

Spam-less Content

A few missteps with your email content can trigger spam filters.  Avoid these common mistakes that can really hurt your deliverability.

  1. Never use spam trigger words and phrases in the subject or body of your emails, especially ones that make your email sound like advertisements and promotions.  Some of those trigger word are Free, Act Now, One Time, Sample, As Seen On, and many more.  Bulk emails can get you blocked by using too many keywords that trigger spam filters, bots or individuals.
  2. Avoid including ‘interactive content’ in your emails or email codes like JavaScript, forms and RSS feeds, as they could be marked as spam
  3. Check your email source code for sloppy email HTML particularly when copy-pasting from Microsoft Word.  Include a text version of your email when sending HTML emails as it helps avoid spam filters and is helpful for recipients who cannot view HTML emails.
  4. Skip dodgy text formatting like using all CAPS, punctuation in the subject line, using too many font colors and large font sizes. They annoy recipients and also trigger spam filters.
  5. The use of too many images as compared to text in an HTML email can be considered spam. Email clients block images by default, so it is best not to include images at all. But if you must, then include two lines of text for every graphic included, optimize your images and include alt tags.
  6. Limit the number of domains linked in an email and do not use URL shortners in your emails. 

Marketing emails most definitely should contain your physical address and an unsubscribe link to opt out of messages.  

List Management

List management is vital in re-engaging inactive prospects and deleting invalid IDs so that you look good to mail servers and email providers.

Have a sunset policy for unengaged prospects. Try to re-engage inactive users with compelling email messages or ask for feedback. If you can’t reengage them or if the email address has become invalid remove them immediately from your list.  Setup an opt-in form on the site or landing page for people to subscribe easily and lure them in with an offer for free download, e-book, PDF white papers, access to podcasts, etc. Ask to be placed on their white list.

Segment email addresses to create fresh email lists. Verify your email list for bad domains and invalid email addresses to reduce bounce rates. Monitor and remove hard bounce emails from your contact list and database. 

Any time you ask your audience to submit their email address, whether it is for a newsletter, a step in the registration process or any other reason, add a step in the process where they have to verify their email address at the time they enter it into the form.  This simple step helps to reduce bounce backs as a result of invalid email addresses and helps keep your list clean. 

Get Your Message Through

Email marketing may not be glamorous, but it is still one of the best ways to reach out to clients and prospects alike. Demographic and psychographic segmentation makes it possible to further tailor email campaigns to your list.  The more personalized to your target segments, the greater the response rate. As a business, it is likely that you are sending large amounts of email.  For successful email marketing campaigns avoid red flags mentioned above to make sure your email messages reach their destination.

Are We Winning the Battle Against Junk Mail?

Anyone who uses email on a regular basis knows just how aggravating spam can be. Electronic junk mail has been a huge problem for years, and while spam filters can be helpful, they can also keep users from receiving legitimate email messages in a timely manner.

Finding effective ways to decrease the amount of junk mail received is important, because spam can be a drain on productivity and is a security risk if users click on links that can lead to viruses and other malware.

A 2013 report from security technology company McAfee on threats, says “snowshoe” spam will continue to increase.

“When a shady marketing company approaches your marketing people and tells them that they have a list of email addresses that have already opted into receiving whatever advertising you want to send them, it should set off alarm bells,” the report says. “Unfortunately, those bells don’t ring often enough.”

Well-known companies that sell a variety of products have signed on with these advertisers, which blast out millions of blatantly illegal spam messages every day, the report says. “Recipients have their inboxes bombarded with these spam messages and are unable to opt out of them.”

Because this type of activity is not as malicious as the most newsworthy hacking attacks and malware, authorities have mostly ignored it. Still, this practice of snowshoe spamming has exploded during the past two years and is currently one of the biggest problems in the spam world, according to McAfee.

The Silver Lining in the Spam-Filled Skies

The latest news on the spam front is promising. Data from Kaspersky Lab, an IT security provider, shows that email spam dropped in 2013 compared with 2012. The company reports that the proportion of spam in email flows was 69.6 percent in 2013, which is 2.5 percent lower than in 2012.

Just over 3 percent of emails contained malicious attachments, which is 0.2 percentage points lower than in 2012.

Other key findings from the Kaspersky report: 32 percent of phishing attacks targeted social networks; the greatest amount of spam, 23 percent, was sent from China; and 75 percent of spam emails sent in 2013 were no larger than 1KB.

“The amount of spam in mail traffic has been declining since 2010; it is a clear tendency,” says Darya Loseva, head of content analysis and research at Kaspersky Lab.

The volume of spam that is advertising legitimate goods and services is gradually decreasing, the Kaspersky report notes. Advertisers increasingly prefer legitimate advertising to spam; more varied types of online advertising are becoming available, and they generate higher response rates at lower costs than spam can offer.

At the same time, in some spam categories, commercial advertising is being gradually displaced by criminal mailings. A typical example comes from the travel and tourism area. This category used to account for 5 to 10 percent of all spam traffic and was made up entirely of various offers for trips, tours and tickets, Kaspersky says.

Today, commercial advertising in spam is rare, “but we see numerous malicious emails exploiting the subject of travel and leisure,” the report says. Fake confirmations of hotel or airplane ticket reservations have become a common part of spam, and the company saw such messages in spam traffic throughout the year.

“While a couple of years ago spam might help people to book a tour package, ticket or hotel room, today’s spam email will more likely than not offer the recipient malware rather than an ad for a tour company,” the report says.

What is causing the decline in spam year over year? “Nowadays, there are many convenient, cheap and legal ways [on the Internet] to promote goods and services, like social networks’ ads or coupon services,” Loseva says. “So people who want to promote their goods do have some legal options.”

The problem with spam, according to Loseva, is that most of it promotes illegal goods, such as medicine without prescriptions, counterfeit goods, pirated software and so on.

“Besides, a large part of spam is actually scam, phishing and other fraud,” she says. “And furthermore, there is malware spam, the goal of which is to spread malicious programs. All of these kinds of spam can’t migrate to the legal platforms, because the very content of them is illegal.”

According to Kaspersky, the cost per click in social networks is much cheaper than in spam, because most spam — as much as 99 percent — is blocked by antispam filters. Most of the remaining spam that gets through is deleted by users, Loseva says.

X DMARCs the Spot

It’s not likely that the spam volume will ever fall below 50 percent, Loseva says. “Not in the nearest future anyway,” she says. “Even if all legal ads will migrate to other platforms, the amount of illegal spam is more than 50 percent and it will not decline.”

To address the ongoing spam incidents, organizations will need to continue to rely on technology such as email filters.

“Any organization and any email provider nowadays use antispam filters,” Loseva says. “All antispam vendors have their own technologies based on quantitative methods, cloud computing, IP [Internet protocol] reputation and content of spam emails.”

As for emerging methods to help fight against spam, she mentions Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) as one of the promising technologies.

DMARC is a technical specification created by a group of organizations trying to reduce the potential for email-based abuse by solving long-standing operational, deployment and reporting issues related to email authentication protocols.

DMARC standardizes how email receivers perform email authentication using the well-known Send Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) mechanisms, according to DMARC.org, a site that promotes the standard.

“This means that senders will experience consistent authentication results for their messages at AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and any other email receiver implementing DMARC,” the site says. “We hope this will encourage senders to more broadly authenticate their outbound email, which can make email a more reliable way to communicate.”

[image: pixtawan/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]

5 Underappreciated Things Hosted Exchange Can Do for Your Company

Microsoft Outlook remains the go-to email application for desktops, according to data from Campaign Monitor, with 20 percent of users choosing the Exchange-powered mail service.

This is no surprise; many companies have a long history with Microsoft and its email client. But it’s worth taking a look at the power behind the throne. Here are five things you might not know about a Hosted Exchange deployment and what it can offer.

Exchange, Explained

Think of the Microsoft Exchange server as the brains behind any Outlook operation. Exchange 2013 (as well as 2010, 2007 and 2003) powers a host of services; Outlook is simply the most popular. According to PCMag.com, “Exchange Server supports global mailbox standards and can send to and receive mail from all POP3 and IMAP4 client programs. Exchange Server also supports Web-based access and smartphone access.” In other words, you need Exchange for Outlook to work, but email is just the tip of the iceberg.

Getting in on Outsourcing

You have two choices when it comes to a Microsoft Exchange server: Buy a license and host it on a local server stack; or outsource the server to a third-party provider, such as a web host. Exchange can be a complex product to manage and although it’s possible to reduce this complexity by collapsing an entire deployment into a single server, that can lead to issues with security and reliability. As a result, companies often choose to outsource their Exchange server to a trusted provider, lessening the burden on internal resources.

CIO.com makes the case for performance: In the event a company’s data center is compromised, hosted Exchange servers won’t be affected. What’s more, patches and upgrades to the mail server won’t bog down local infrastructure. Meanwhile, a Toolbox.com article cites research from Gartner, which estimates that 80 percent of midsize businesses (300 employees or less) could save money with an outsourced email deployment.

Furthermore, data compliance has become an increasingly high priority for businesses, making email retention an essential part of any records-management strategy — and prohibitively expensive to do on-site. Even Microsoft has started (sort of) outsourcing itself with the new Outlook Web App (OWA). Instead of relying on a desktop client, companies can now choose to use OWA, which includes a simplified user interface and the ability to access email, even when the user is offline.

Five Alive

Outsourced or in-house, Exchange 2013 does more than Outlook suggests, including the following:

  • Data syncing with mobile devices using ActiveSync: This includes BlackBerrys, iPhones, Androids and Windows 7 devices.
  • Applications: Found in the Organization feature of the new Exchange Admin Center is an “Apps” tab, which lets you configure specialized applications for users. While co-workers can discover these apps independently, using the Apps tab lets you preconfigure profiles to include Bing Maps or LinkedIn, just to name a few.
  • Antimalware and antispam: Exchange 2013 includes malware detection, which can automatically react to suspicious messages and alert both the sender and the receiver. Spam detection, meanwhile, uses a multilayer process to guard against phishing and other threats.
  • Control over transport rules: This lets you take action on messages from specific IP address ranges or emails that include executable content. Clicking on the Mail Flow command under the Rules section of the Exchange Admin Center gives you access to the New Rule wizard. Here, you can create rules to block by email content, sender, recipient or attachment.
  • E-discovery tools: In the event of a legal challenge or an audit, Exchange’s In-Place eDiscovery tool lets you perform discovery searches for relevant content in all mailboxes. In addition, you can use role-based access control to give non-IT personnel access to this tool without granting them admin-level control.

These hidden gems prove that Exchange is a powerful, flexible tool — and one that does far more than just find your mail.

[image: Peshkova/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]

Hosted Exchange Meets the Scale and Mobile Needs of Modern IT

Hosted email solutions provide competitive businesses with rapid scalability and global access to collaboration tools. While some companies are moving to broad productivity suites, like Google Docs and Zoho, more are staying with specialized enterprise services, such as Microsoft’s hosted Exchange program.

But mobile devices have led to an important shift in the way business is being done. So what does the move from desktop to mobile mean for hosted Exchange workers on the go?

Setting Up Hosted Exchange for Use on Mobile

Lunarpages integrates with Microsoft’s hosted Exchange for mobile devices with a few simple steps, according to Brandon Sharp, a solutions specialist at Lunarpages. After signing up for the service, customers receive instructions to set up a new Exchange email account on their dedicated smartphones.

Setting up an account is as easy as setting up email on Outlook, according to Sharp. Once you enter your main email address, contacts and calendar appointments, you can use Microsoft’s ActiveSync application to update all events in real time on your phone, as well as “all other devices and desktops on which you have configured your Lunarpages Hosted Exchange Email Solution,” he says.

The main function of MS Exchange’s ActiveSync is to improve productivity and keep data updated and accurate. So if a worker changes an appointment on his or her phone while waiting for a taxi at the airport, the change will show up on the desktop computer when the employee arrives at the office. By keeping important events and tasks in sync, workers can avoid the busy work of updating their calendars on multiple platforms across several devices.

“In order for the technology and solution to stay relevant for todays business users, cross-device and cross-platform compatibility is crucial,” Sharp emphasizes.

The Case for Hosted Exchange

Optimizing a similarly robust enterprise-level messaging solution at a reasonable price for a company without Exchange would be difficult. In fact, the main benefit of using MS Exchange with a web host like Lunarpages is that it enables a company to economically scale Microsoft’s high-end software to its customers. For example, the Lunarpages business-class email program is “fully redundant, monitored 24x7x365 and has a 99.9 percent uptime for less than the cost of a latte per month,” Sharp says.

Additionally, according to a 2009 Osterman Research white paper, The Case for Hosted Exchange, a hosted Exchange service reduces the possibility of cost spikes when a business inevitably grows its customer base and is forced to upgrade infrastructure.

Beyond the hard dollar-savings, hosted Exchange can save companies time on IT maintenance. A 2011 white paper commissioned by Microsoft indicated that “IT staff is able to save four hours per week from routine activities associated with keeping its on-premises email system running.”

Hosted Exchange for All

Among the many enterprise features available through Lunarpages’ hosted Exchange are reliable security features, which extend to mobile devices and include IP address, spam and virus protection and constant monitoring and updates that would require a dedicated, well-paid IT administrator to replicate outside of an outsourced solution. Hosted Exchange’s virus protection and triple spam filtering is also customizable and attunes to specific business needs over time.

“[ActiveSync is] customizable by each user in order to ‘teach’ the spam filter what is junk and what is not, to ensure that you are getting only the messages you want and need,” Sharp says.

Users might wonder why a small to medium-sized company really needs a large, dedicated email hosting and collaboration service when free options abound. According to Sharp, flexibility is the best part of a hosted Exchange solution. “A solution can be crafted for each individual business that ranges in size and cost to ensure that the specific needs of the business are being met,” he says.

Reliability is the Holy Grail of modern IT and hosted Exchange ensures that employees can get the messages they need, anytime, anywhere — even on their phones.

[image: Igor Stevanovic/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]

Email: Can’t Live with It, Can’t Live Without It

“Email is down!”

Depending on your point of view — and your job description — hearing that phrase is either a cause for celebration or a reason to burst into tears.

On one side, stopping the noise, distraction and clutter that is the email inbox means workers aren’t being governed by their email clients. But on the flip side, workers are now cut off from a vital source of communication and information, which means productivity will be dramatically reduced. Email is one of those double-edged swords when it comes to productivity: Too much time spent on email can detract from work, but work is harder to get done without it.

So how can companies get the upside of email while leaving behind as much of the downside as possible?

Although it’s true that social media and real-time messaging have gained prominence, email remains a critical form of communication, despite naysayers predicting its demise. There are two opposing views of how email has developed as a communication medium: some say that email has not changed over the years, yet other people maintain that email has steadily evolved.

Email’s origins can be traced back to the 1960s, to MIT’s Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS), which allowed users to store and share files on a single disk system. They could remotely dial in to access these files, which was rudimentary at best, modern day email is actually quite similar. Today, users connect to servers that store electronic messages and can share and edit the files (think reply, forward and compose message).

The benefits of email make it an attractive communication platform for businesses (of course, only if you fully filter out all of the spam, phishing and nonrelevant messages).

Email:

  • Is instantaneous
  • Is conversational
  • Creates a digital paper trail
  • Can be archived
  • Is ubiquitous
  • Is easily understood

What Email Challenges Do Businesses Face?

When email goes down, companies need to offer alternate communication methods to keep work flowing. While frustrations may arise for the end user, businesses must think about the impact on IT departments when confronted with an outage.

Most IT departments plan for the worst, but sometimes the unexpected happens. When you consider the magnitude of email management, having one or more people devoted to maintaining a self-hosted email solution is critical. IT departments who host their own email need to focus on the following:

  • Regular maintenance
  • Patches and upgrades
  • Backups
  • Compatibility with email clients (desktop and mobile)
  • Ensuring 24/7 availability
  • Maintaining the physical hardware

If any of these core functions is impacted, businesses are affected. Unfortunately, more often than not, some shortcuts are taken when it comes to hosting and managing email in-house. Even worse, ensuring that you have contingency plans that actually work and testing those plans means email downtime. You might say this work can be done “after hours,” but email is 24/7, and workers frequently insist on 100 percent uptime.

Hosted and Managed Email vs. Doing It Yourself

So what options are available for businesses when it comes to having a bulletproof email solution? There are two ways:

  1. On-premises
  2. Hosted and managed solution

If, for example, you host a Microsoft Email Exchange in your data center, you have to ensure that you have email experts on staff, that they are available at all times, that they have contingency and disaster-recovery processes in place and that they are not tasked with too many other IT activities within the organization.

Using a managed and hosted email solution means that you can put all of these responsibilities into the hands of experts who focus solely on email solutions. When you choose a cloud-based or hosted solution, your workers get the satisfaction of knowing that their email will simply work. And IT departments can focus on other IT challenges, ensuring business growth and continuity.

According to an article in StartupNation.com, the ROI of a hosted email solution can be more than 1,000 percent. When you couple this with the fact that a Gartner and Symantec study suggests that up to 75 percent of a company’s intellectual property resides within email, ensuring email availability is critical.

Companies need to balance the pros and cons of each option. Having your email in-house means that you potentially have more control over the implementation and management, but it also means staffing accordingly to support that business objective. Additionally, by outsourcing your email, you decrease your Capex by not having to maintain the hardware required for email.

Do it yourself or have a hosted and managed solution — the choice is yours. But the bottom line is that a well-tuned email system is a core function of a happy business. Happy workers translate to happy customers and a better bottom line. Isn’t that what your company wants in the end?

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]

Email Archiving

In today’s day and age there is more data than ever before, data which represents a significant portion of workforce output. Protecting that information from unexpected disasters is not only prudent, but in many cases, mandatory for legal and regulatory reasons. At a time when so much of a business is run on electronic communications, retaining those conversations and contracts can make all of the difference. But to effectively preserve information, any enterprise must balance the cost of that protection against the value of that data.

Quickly respond to audits and eDiscovery requests, recover lost or deleted files and speed investigations of any kind. Protect intellectual property and preserve communications from former employees for future use.

With our email archiving solution you can store every message because you never know when it will be needed, and when it’s needed you can search every message.

Top features of Email Archiving

Email Archiving’s features include:

  • 100% data capture across devices and platforms (including POP/IMAP accounts)
  • Compliance with regulations including FRCP, SEC, GLBA, HIPAA, HITECH and SOX
  • Simple, flexible searching, filtering, tagging and recovery methods
  • Encryption of data both in-transit and at-rest
  • Extend end-user archive access through our online portal or within Microsoft Outlook
  • Worry-free security and reliability
  • Plan flexibility: add archiving for every mailbox or just specific ones
  • Full indexing and extraction of more than 500 different file types
  • Implement a “legal hold” to identify, segregate and preserve relevant data
  • Export to .PST, File, Text, PDF or HTML
  • Restore single item or send to new mailbox

Lunarpages offers email archiving through our Microsoft Exchange email hosting services.

 

Google Drive Cloud Storage Off and Running

Google Drive, the much anticipated online storage offering has been released and includes unique search capabilities and convenient integration with other Google services such as Docs and Google+. Google Drive allows users to store information in a virtual “cloud” and is very similar to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Apple’s iCloud and Dropbox.

Some consider Google Drive to just be a new and shiny version of Google Docs allowing users to store documents, images, videos and pictures all in one place. However, we do not believe that is a fair assessment as it definitely has new and unique features as we’ve outlined for you here:

  • Impressive search function. Google Drive helps you find files faster as users are able to search for content by keyword and filter by file type, owner and more. Google Drive can even recognize objects in your images and text in scanned documents.
  • Sync documents on mobile devices and allow changes to be tracked and saved easily. Essentially, any edits made from one device will automatically appear on the other. Additionally, because it records changes made users can go back 30 days and review what has been edited. This can be particularly helpful if trying to catch a past mistake in a class assignment or find a particular change made in a business project.
  • Open over 30 file types right in your browser—including HD video, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, even if you don’t have the program installed on your computer.
  • Eliminate send and receive errors from bulky email attachments. Send a link from Google Drive in Gmail and everyone has the same file, same version—automatically. Search for content by keyword and filter by file type, owner and more.
  • Google Drive also has a social component. In addition to providing file storage space, the program makes it easier than ever before to share information with others. Whether it’s sharing a picture with friends or working on projects with colleagues, Google Drive connects all participants together, even if they’re using different devices.

Google Drive features 5GB free online storage and the ability to buy more storage such as 25GB for $2.50 per month up to a maximum 16TB for $800 per month. Similar to Dropbox, Google Drive installs a folder on your Mac or PC, then you just drag-and-drop files into the new folder and the contents automatically sync to the cloud, including other computers with Google Drive installed. Google Drive offers more free storage than the 2GB you get from Dropbox, but less than the free 7GB Microsoft offers with SkyDrive.

Google Drive provides some unique features that will help people store, collaborate and share information online. Most people should find it easy to use, affordable, and we anticipate a successful product launch as millions of Google and Android users quickly adopt Google Drive.

How has your experience been with Google Drive? Will you stop using your current online storage and collaboration providers?

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]

Cortex Control Panel for Exchange 2010 Services

Lunarpages Microsoft® Exchange™ 2010 platform is receiving a new control Panel!

The new control panel in use for our Exchange services is called EMScortex®. Cortex allows our customers to manage their email accounts and features easier than ever before. The interface is friendlier and easier to navigate while maintaining accounts.

  • Allows a single user identity to be provisioned with many hosted applications
  • Has an easy to use web based interface which can be used by users with little IT expertise with negligible training.

EMScortex offers the end user the ability to manage all subscribed services (Exchange, SharePoint and Blackberry) with only a few clicks of the mouse. One of the key benefits Cortex provides is the ability to delegate administrative tasks to the end-customer. This allows service providers to provide a more efficient service with minimal support staff.

Customer administrators can themselves perform most of the user administration required for their own organization. Managing user accounts, provisioning services or managing their organization’s own services (e.g. Hosted Exchange contacts or distribution lists) is performed through the easy to use web interface. Training needs are minimized and usually not required.

  • Allows customers to import users in bulk through an Excel file
  • Create as many administrator users as necessary
  • Control service specific administrative permissions
  • Configure email alerts for expiring passwords or unused accounts

Some examples of the standard features available to a customer administrator include:

  • Create new users
  • Provision services to users, e.g. Give a user a mailbox or grant access to a SharePoint site
  • Disable a user’s account, stopping them from accessing any hosted services
  • Unlock accounts
  • Reset user passwords
  • Copy an existing user, complete with all configured services.

Simple administration functionality is available to all user accounts provisioned in the system. Changing a password or downloading a configuration file for Microsoft Outlook can be achieved by logging in to the same Cortex system.

Users can typically:

  • Change their existing password
  • Unlock user accounts and reset passwords for other users (full and partial administrators)
  • View configuration information screens or download required setup files
  • Provide customized content to users based on the services they are subscribed to
  • View any reports published to the user.

Manage services and users

Cortex allows you to manage services and users for all of your customers and sub-customers (for reseller).

  • Able to create multiple instances of a service for a customer
  • Configure resource settings per service; limit the maximum number of users that a customer can provision with a service
  • Impersonate another user to investigate any user related issues – from their perspective
  • View password expiry and Active Directory account status
  • Disable or enable customers and users quickly

Provisioning Status Indicators

Provisioning tasks are queued and handled out-of-process. This keeps the user interface responsive and allows users to get on with other tasks rather than waiting for slow provisioning tasks to complete. Cortex provides provisioning status indicators to keep the user updated with progress.

  • Real time updates on status of provisioning requests
  • Drill down to quickly determine the cause of any problems
  • Continue to work while Cortex completes provisioning processes.

  • Customers can enable their own users for BlackBerry
  • Cortex ensures BlackBerry can only be provisioned to existing Exchange enabled users

Provision BlackBerry to End-users

Cortex offers an easy to use solution that allows customer to manage their own BlackBerry Service and provision existing Exchange users with the BlackBerry service.

  • Provisioning a user to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server can be performed in a matter of seconds
  • Cortex will send a notification email to the user’s email account, detailing their BlackBerry user logon details

Management of existing users’ BlackBerry accounts

Cortex allows standard BlackBerry Management functions to be delegated to the customer, allowing them to effectively manage their users’ BlackBerry accounts.

  • Supports BlackBerry device wipe-out functionality
  • Ability to remove BlackBerry PIN, Statistics and user defined filters
  • Individual users’ BlackBerry usage statistics are displayed

Configuring Outlook to connect to Exchange

Users can start using their mailboxes in a matter of minutes. Follow a simple wizard and Cortex will generate a customized set up file for configuring Outlook.

  • Configure Outlook to access the server via any available protocol
  • Download customized setup file to configure Outlook in seconds
  • Automatically enters password to avoid prompts each time Outlook is started

Microsoft® Sharepoint™ Services

  • End customers can easily control access to SharePoint sites
  • Users have a common Active Directory identity for SharePoint and other hosted services such as Exchange

Provision SharePoint to End-users

 

Cortex controls which users have access to each SharePoint Site. The customer administrator can easily provision a user to any of their SharePoint sites. Site roles are automatically retrieved from the SharePoint site in real time and displayed for selection.

  • Select the SharePoint Instance; the URL for the site will be displayed as the Instance Name
  • Select whether the user is an administrator
  • Choose the appropriate SharePoint roles for the user

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]