The Small Business’s Guide to Secure Email

It probably comes as no surprise to most business owners that email is a primary way hackers can gain access to sensitive company data and information. But it may alarm you to know that small businesses are particularly vulnerable. Specifically, overall cyber-attacks on companies with 250 or fewer employees doubled in the first six months of last year—and the loss per attack was more than $188,000 on average. The effect of cyber-attacks on the American economy as a whole is a high cost of $100 billion annually, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

That’s one reason the great Sony email hack of 2014 was such a big deal—it left every business wondering how they could avoid the same fate. It stands to reason that if such a large company, with multiple layers of security, can be hacked, small businesses with fewer resources have no hope, right?

Maybe not. There are many ways to ensure your business is protected through secure email. Since your business’s security is only as strong as your weakest link, the secret is to get employees involved and invested in the success of your security. Here are seven tips to get you started.

  1. Make it a top priority to create and implement a cybersecurity plan.

Of course, this involves more than simply considering how to ensure secure email service—it should also include strategies for keeping your website, payment information, and other information safe—but addressing email security should be a main part of your plan. The Federal Communications Commission created a handy tool, the Small Biz Cyber Planner 2.0, to assist you in creating a customized plan.

  1. Consider email encryption.

Email encryption helps to protect personal information from hackers by only permitting certain users to access and read your emails. There are several methods of email encryption depending on the level of security—and convenience—you require. For example, you could download or purchase extra software that will plug in to your Microsoft Outlook. Gpg4win is one such free privacy email guard software for Windows. Or, you could install an email certificate like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), which allows your employees to share a public key with anyone who wants to send them an email and use a private key to decrypt any emails they receive. Another simple solution is to use a third-party encrypted email service.

  1. Ensure passwords are secure.

All employees should have their own password for their work computer and email system. These passwords should be reset every three months; also consider requiring multifactor authentication when employees change their passwords. The strongest passwords consist of at least 12 characters and a combination of numbers, symbols, lower-case letters, and capital letters. Passwords should not be something obvious (e.g., birthdays, children’s names, etc.) but should be memorable. In other words, employees should steer clear of the two most common—and worst—passwords of 2014: “password” and “123456.”

Also, employees should not use the same password for multiple accounts or websites. Consider allowing the use of a password manager or single sign on function. Some great solutions for small businesses looking for tools to store codes, bank accounts, email accounts, PIN numbers, and other account information in one place include CommonKey, LastPass, and Password Genie.

How do you know whether your password has been compromised? Sign up for watchdog services like PwnedList or Breach Alarm, which monitor leaked passwords and will report automatically to you if any of your email addresses are vulnerable.

  1. Develop an email retention policy that makes sense.

With the cost of storage today, there’s no point in keeping old emails that are no longer useful. Ask employees to purge emails that do not support business efforts and implement a policy to ensure compliance. Many companies institute a 60-90-day standard, with steps toward automatic archiving and permanent removal after a set time period. Remembering to delete emails that don’t comply with this standard can be difficult for some employees, so frequent reminders may be necessary.

  1. Train employees in email security.

Employees play a crucial role in keeping data secure through email. They should be trained on what types of behaviors to refrain from and what types of emails to avoid. Unfortunately, according to InfoSight, nearly half of all companies spend less than 1 percent of their security budget on programs that train employees on how to be aware of security threats. Yet 64 percent of organizations experienced some level of financial loss due to computer breaches and 85 percent detected computer viruses. Wouldn’t it be worth the low cost of training to mitigate the potentially large cost of a hack?

Specifically, employees should be trained to comply with the following rules:

  • Never open links or attachments from unknown persons.
  • Don’t respond to emails that request a password change and require you to divulge personal information—no matter how official the source appears.
  • Ensure antivirus and anti-spy software is updated on your computer.
  • Encrypt any emails containing sensitive data before sending.
  • Don’t use your company email address to send and receive personal emails.
  • Don’t automatically forward company emails to a third-party email system.

In addition, some companies have found success in instituting programs that test employees with phishing campaigns, spear-phishing emails, and other cybersecurity threats and then reward them when they pass these tests.

  1. Maintain strict standards for company-related mobile device usage.

When using a company-issued mobile device, or a personal mobile device where you send and receive company emails, employees should encrypt data, keep the device password-protected, and install approved security apps so hackers cannot access devices via shared WiFi networks.

  1. Avoid common pitfalls when securing email.

Besides all of the things we’ve already discussed, email can remain unsecured in other ways as well. Be sure to consider the following:

  • All computers—not just a few—should use email encryption. There’s no point in encrypting emails unless the same standard is applied across the board.
  • Unlocked computers should never be left unattended. Make it company policy for employees to lock their computers (which should be password-protected at login) before getting up from their desks.
  • Store emails in a secure location behind a firewall. Do not allow employees to store copies of emails in their personal cloud or any other such location.

By being purposeful when creating policies involving your small business’s emails, you will head off a lot of issues before they even come to pass. Get employees on board and reward them for assisting in developing an environment where information is secure. Together, it’s possible to keep employee, customer, and business data safe—one email at a time.

Reference: Microsoft Office Blog:

Nintex Process, Workflow and Forms Webinar Event Announcement

Atidan is pleased to announce two webinar events focusing on connecting people, processes and content with Nintex for Microsoft SharePoint

Business Processes Everywhere with Nintex Forms for SharePoint   

May 21, 1PM Eastern

Register Here!

Nintex Forms is a web based designer that enables forms to be created within SharePoint quickly and easily. Forms can then be consumed on most common mobile devices from the internet, anywhere and anytime. Nintex Forms integrates seamlessly with Nintex Workflow to automate business processes and deliver rich SharePoint applications.

Connect People, Processes andContent with Nintex for Microsoft SharePoint

June 9, 2PM Eastern

Register Here!

Experience the power of connecting your critical processes, people and content as we demonstrate the Nintex platform for Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365.Workflow automation gets to the point. Why rethink your entire company based on abstract concepts every time you want to improve a process? Model your processes to your business rather than the other way around. Workflow solutions help you coordinate the activity of your people and the access to your content directly through your business processes. The work that makes up these processes flows from place to place and from person to person.Automate Every Process, from the Everyday to the ElaborateIt’s not enough to automate just your most elaborate processes, though you can easily do that too. Work happens everywhere, after all, and automating everyday processes adds up to significant time and money savings, and greater compliance and accuracy. Assign tasks. Gather input. Publish documents. Document opportunities. Approve requests and much more!

nintex-products-create-process-friendly-forms-Atidan automate-processes-Nintex-Atidan about-workflow-automation-choose-nintex - Atidan nintex-products-manage-work-anywhere-Atidan

Enterprise Mobility Suite Launch from Atidan – Identity and Information Protection for SMB

Enterprise Mobility, Identity and Information Protection Suite that was originally only available to Enterprise customers and at a fairly high cost.

The offering includes Intune for Desktop and Mobile device management, Azure Active Directory Premium for single sign on and identity management (cloud applications such as HR, Health, Finance, Marketing, Social, etc.)  and Azure Rights Management for information protection.

Enterprise Mobility Suite Launch Presentation

Pricing is $7.60 per user per month and you may license this for any number of users (the executive team to start, a small group/division or everyone). Set up is customized for every company and we can get you started quickly. Atidan offers a complete administration, support and monitoring service.

Please contact us for a customized briefing, demonstration and implementation plan.

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite - Atidan

Short demo videos: 

Managing Mobile Office Apps Video Demonstration

Protecting a Document with Azure Rights Management Video Demonstration

Multifactor Authentication Video Demonstration

Additional Resources:

List of Applications in the single sign on marketplace

Poster Explaining Azure identity and access management

Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite Website

Skype for Business – The New Lync Arriving April 14th

Microsoft announced that Skype for Business is going to bedeployed starting on April 14th as part of the monthly Officeupdates. Introducing Skype for Business – Presented by Atidan

Enclosed is some helpful information and resources to helpget ready…an introductory presentation is enclosed and here are links to twogood videos:

Skypefor Business Quick Introduction Video

Whatis New in Skype for Business Video

Microsoft’sBlog announcement

Note: there are policy settings that can allow you tocontrol rollout of the new interface through Powershell settings – pleasecontact us as soon as possible for information and instructions


CLICKHERE to download a full package of training and communication materialsincluding email templates, videos, posters, and customizable guides in PDF andPowerPoint formats (658MB ZIP file).


Suggest you create a new Video channel for internal trainingor create a new SharePoint Online site specifically for Skype for Business:

Skype for Business Video Channel in Office 365

Enclosed are key links to live web pages for additional content:

Hello, Skype for Business Lync is now Skype for Business — see what’s new

What’s Skype for Business?

Change your picture

Find someone Add a contact from your org or the Skype directory
IM Send an IM
Call someone Make and receive a video call

Make a call using your PBX desk phone for audio

Meet and share Set up a Skype for Business meeting in Outlook

Join a Skype for Business meeting

Call into a meeting on your mobile or other phone

Set up audio and video

Set up and test Skype for Business audio and video

Coming later this summer and in fall of 2015 will beenhancements to enterprise voice which may allow you to eliminate PBX phonesand PBX systems including the ability to make and receive calls worldwide. There is going to be an enhanced Azure networking feature allowing directconnections from your company into Office 365 to ensure a high quality voiceand video experience…this is called ExpressRoute.

As always, the Atidan team is here to support you and if wecan assist you with Skype for Business or any other questions please utilizeyour standard support channel for help!

Early Preview of Microsoft Power BI Designer – Interactive Charts, Graphs, Maps and Data Query

Microsoft Power BI Designer is built for the analyst. It combines state-of-the-art interactive charts, maps, and graphs, with industry-leading data query built-in. Create and upload your reports to Power BI preview to keep a continuous pulse on our business and access them on a mobile device. Power BI Designer helps you empower others with timely critical insights, anytime, anywhere.

Build reports for Power BI

Rich data transformation and visual analytics experiences help you build reports for Power BI.

Download HERE

Power BI Designer is a dedicated report authoring tool for the Power BI Preview service. The Power BI Designer provides rich data transformation and visual analytics in a unified, seamless experience. The Power BI Designer enables you to create impactful reports with state-of-the-art interactive charts, maps, graphs, and data transformations. Upload your reports to the Power BI preview and empower others with timely critical insights on any device, anywhere.

Help build the future of Power BI

Download an early preview of the Power BI Designer and give us feedback on how we can make your day easier. We’re planning frequent updates so you’ll get the latest changes delivered right to you.

Connect to all your data

Excel spreadsheets, on-premises data sources, Hadoop datasets, streaming data, and cloud services — Power BI brings all your data together so you can start analyzing it in seconds.

Your data made beautiful

Power BI puts visual analytics at your fingertips with intuitive report authoring. Drag and drop to place content exactly where you want it on the flexible and fluid Designer canvas. Quickly discover patterns as you explore a single, unified view of linked, interactive visualizations.

Transform and clean data

Getting your data ready to analyze is hard. We’re on a mission to make it much easier. Try the data shaping and modeling capabilities of Power BI and take back hours in your busy day.

Complete analytics life-cycle

The Power BI Designer is an elegant end-to-end solution for building analytics for the Power BI preview. The Designer has all the capabilities to quickly connect, shape, visualize, and share data insights through Power BI.

Design once, view anywhere

We know you need to get data into the hands of decision makers when and where they need it. Power BI makes publishing and sharing your beautiful interactive reports easy.

OneNote is now (even more) free!


Starting today you’ll be able to access the full power of OneNote on your PC, including these features previously reserved for paid editions:

  • Password protected sections—Add a password to protect sensitive information.
  • Page history—Easily see or go back to prior versions of a page.
  • Audio and video recording—Take notes while recording, and easily jump to the relevant section later.
  • Audio search—Search for a word in a voice or video recording.
  • Embedded files—Insert Office documents or other files directly in your notebook.

The free edition of OneNote stores your notes on OneDrive for easy access across all your devices and works whether you’re online or offline.  With your free Microsoft account, you’ll get 15 GB of OneDrive space for free and no limits on the number of notes you can create or sync.

OneNote 2013 runs on Windows 7 and Windows 8 and is available for free from

Power Map for Excel–February update for Office 365

New Power Map for Excel Features

Data cards–Tooltips the way you want them!

Data cards extends the Power Map tooltip to let you display more contextual information about the data on your map. This becomes powerful when you need to quickly drill down into the details behind the columns and pie chart visualizations, like showing a list of Olympic events and associated medal count spanning a time period for a specific country. Just hover over or click any visualization on the map and a data card is displayed with easily readable information about the geo, height, category and time related to the data point.

Power Map Feb 1

You can also customize the data cards to fit your data exploration and presentation needs. Some of the options available are:

  • Add/remove/change aggregation of data fields
  • Add a title (e.g. location name)
  • Re-order the data fields
  • Rename the data field headers
  • Select from a set of layout templates

Below is an example of a customized data card. Notice that event a series of data (from aggregate values) can be displayed, allowing you to drill down into the more interesting details of the data on your map.

Power Map Feb 2

Learn more about how to create and customize data cards and let us know what you think about this new feature.

Heat map improvements

Using heat map visualizations in Power Map tours is great way to see trends and outliers in your data through a color scale. Below is a tour scene with traditional heat map visualizations. This month’s update comes with a few cool new ways you can use heat maps to represent the data just the way you want.

Changing aggregation type

The traditional heat map only showed sum data. Now you can use heat maps to represent other aggregation types, like average. By changing the aggregation type, an option in the Layer Options tab, we were able to display the average cost of new construction projects in the greater Seattle Area.

Power Map Feb 3

Power Map Feb 4

Customizing the color scale

The traditional heat map displayed points with a color scale ranging from blue to green, yellow and red. To better represent your data, it may be more effective to display your data across just a portion of this color scale or choose an entirely different color scale all together. Also under the Layer Options tab, you will find an option to change the color of your heat map visualizations. Select Custom in the drop down and then just choose the colors you want to include. Using the same tour scene, we changed the heat map colors to just blue and red.

Power Map Feb 5

With these new customizations, what you can do with heat map visualizations is really limited to the data you have. Imagine an accumulated image of precipitation measurements of over 30 years can be made to look like with these options in Power Map.

Power Map Feb 6


Power Map for Excel is available with any Office 365 subscription that includes Office desktop apps. To use Power Map, open Excel and go to Insert > Map.

If you have automatic updates enabled for your Office 365 subscription, you should receive this Power Map update soon. If you don’t have automatic updates enabled in Excel, go to File > Account > Update Options > Update Now.

Learn about all the powerful analytics and visualization features in Excel and take your analysis further by sharing and collaborating on business insights with colleagues using Power BI.