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Stay safe from cybercriminals

The takeaway for MSPs from the Virgin Active & Colonial Pipeline attacks

By 2021

2021-05-28  Cyber protection is not only digital protection. If this wasn’t clear before, two recent high profile attacks, one in South Africa and one in the US, should make this apparent.

The ongoing fallout from the cyberattacks on Virgin Active and Colonial Pipeline is a stark reminder that digital and online technology are inextricably part of our real-world, analogue lives. The unspecified cyberattack on fitness company Virgin Active kept all its online systems offline for two weeks, including its online booking system. And the attack on Colonial Pipeline by ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) organisation DarkSide kept one of the biggest pipelines in the country offline, resulting in the fuel price rising and fuel stations running out of supplies. The company was able to restore services almost a week later after it reportedly paid an estimated $5 million ransom.

While not being able to book your HIIT class online is not as serious as fuel shortages and price hikes, both of these attacks demonstrate the real-world impact of cyberattacks on our day-to-day lives. While Virgin Active was quick to point out that no customer data had been compromised, its customer service is being significantly affected, which will no doubt impact its brand and reputation.

In the case of the Colonial Pipeline attack, the cyber criminals stole 100GB. In the past, DarkSide’s tactics have been to lock companies out of their systems and hold data for ransom. In addition, if the ransom is not paid, the criminal group threatens to publish the data publicly, and also make it available to investors and analysts before the exfiltrated data is shared more widely.

In both attacks, it is noteworthy how long both digital and real-world systems have been offline. The pipeline attack specifically points to the blurring of lines between business IT and OT. Even though DarkSide didn’t attack the pipeline’s OT infrastructure directly, it was taken down by Colonial Pipeline to contain the attack.

What does this mean for MSPs?

These recent attacks continue a trend already accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With cybercriminals tapping into the latest technology, the ability to carry out sophisticated attacks has become more accessible and cost effective. Around the world, companies of all sizes are equally at risk. But as attacks have become more advanced and IT environments have become more complex, too often this has resulted in a “tool for every risk” security approach.

For MSPs this increases information overload, complexity, costs, and demands for specialist skills. Despite this hard work, this approach doesn’t offer the MSPs’ clients seamless protection. A patchwork approach to cybersecurity is like adding more horses to your stagecoach and trying to outrace a Ferrari. It doesn’t work because the modern threat landscape has evolved and matured beyond the traditional way of doing things. Instead, MSPs need to tap into innovative approaches to cyber protection and work smarter, not harder to offer seamless cyber protection with integrated cybersecurity, data protection and accessibility to data.

Acronis Cyber Protection Solutions unify modern data protection, cybersecurity, and endpoint management capabilities into a single platform, console, and user experience. Visit the Acronis website to find out more.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 28 May 2021

cyberthreats image hacker

What you can learn from the Accellion FTA hack

By 2021

2021-05-05  A recent cyberthreat update from Acronis Cyber Protection Operations Centers (CPOCs) featured the ongoing fallout from the attacks on Accellion’s legacy FTA product. Multinational energy giant Royal Dutch Shell is one of the latest high-profile victims of the attacks, which have been attributed to the FIN11 financial crime group and the Cl0p extortion gang. Shell had been using Accellion’s file transfer service to securely transfer large files. The company said attackers gained access to corporate and personal data, although not the core IT systems.

This attack is another stark reminder of a couple of key themes in cyber protection today.

1. Migrate away from end of life systems

Several years ago, Accellion announced it would stop supporting FTA this April and asked customers to migrate to its Kiteworks platform. Although Accellion did release multiple patches for FTA when the attacks started, as with Adobe’s discontinuation of Flash Player this year, it is always advisable to move away from legacy technology in a timely fashion because it can pose a security risk once support ends.

2. Apply patches immediately

As mentioned, Accellion did release a series of patches for this vulnerability late last year and again in 2021, yet successful attacks continued. This tracks with the recent Acronis Cyber Protection Week Global Report 2021, which found that one-third of personal IT users take a week or more to patch vulnerabilities after being notified that an update is available. Of those, 5% take longer than a month to perform these recommended updates. Further, almost one-third of organisations either didn’t, or weren’t sure if they did, have automated patch management technologies in place.

3. Size of the attack surface

The Accellion attack also highlights just how vast the potential attack surface is and on how many fronts cyber protection needs to work. It’s not surprising then that according to the Acronis Cyber Protection Week 2021 EMEA Deepdive, one in five organisations in the EMEA region is running more than 10 different cybersecurity and data protection solutions and agents simultaneously. Further, 43% run between six and 10. But despite this multitude of security capabilities, half of the organisations surveyed still suffered data loss and downtime last year. This points to the ineffectiveness of a patchwork defence approach to modern IT challenges. More solutions don’t always result in more protection, although they do add cost, complexity and demands on time and limited resources.

4. Use the right tool for the job

It is worth pointing out the difference between file sync & share and secure file transfer services. File sync & share services are ideal for day-to-day collaboration and sharing smaller, non-sensitive files. For larger, more sensitive files, secure file transfer services should be used, which involve more controlled, one-off transfers, rather than storing files in a central location. Even when file sync & share services are adequate, users should be cautious about how widely they grant access and, if possible, use a service that can include an expiry date on access.

  • Acronis MassTransit offers a fast, easy, and secure file transfer solution that meets the highest security standards and compliance requirements.
  • Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud offers, among other features, secure file sync & share capabilities that enable teams to collaborate, while IT maintains control over data security and compliance.

Acronis Cyber Protection Solutions unify modern data protection, cybersecurity, and endpoint management capabilities into a single platform, console, and user experience. Visit the Acronis website to find out more.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 5 May 2021

backup is part of an integrated approach

Work smarter, not harder, for seamless cyber protection

By 2021

2021-04-29  It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone reading this that cybercrime had ramped up massively in the last year. According to the FBI, cyberattacks are up by a massive 400% since the start of the pandemic. And certainly, companies of all sizes have increased their efforts to protect themselves. But a strange paradox has emerged: despite this heightened security activity, for many people and companies, their level of cyber protection is in fact lower than the previous year. This is according to the Acronis Cyber Protection Week Global Report 2021.

Paradoxes abound

An example of this paradox highlighted in the report is that although more IT professionals are carrying out backups compared to last year, the frequency of their backups remains the same, leaving them open to the loss of days, or weeks, of work when they need to recover from their most recent backup. Further, the use of backup best practices has declined this year, leaving companies at risk of data loss and potential compliance issues. It is clear that increased security activity without attention to best practices is not effective in protecting organisations and individuals.

More tools does not equal more protection

Another very telling statistic is that more than 20% of organisations use 11 or more security and protection tool and agents to defend their data, applications, and systems. So yes, on the one hand IT professionals have stocked their IT stacks with all of the recommended cybersecurity technologies. However, half the organisations surveyed still suffered data loss that resulted in downtime. And the number of organisations experiencing data loss increased by 7% from last year. More security solutions doesn’t mean more protection.

This paradox, the Acronis report says, points to the ineffectiveness of a patchwork defence approach to modern IT challenges. Further, the complexity of multiple cybersecurity technologies introduces mistakes that can be costly. So, despite IT professionals spending more, doing more, and working harder, gaps remain in today’s protection strategies.

Tried and tested approaches no longer effective

This is because the modern threat landscape has evolved to such an extent that the tried and tested approaches that have worked in the past are no longer enough. Instead of doing more — adding costs, complexity, and skill requirements — individuals, organisations, and the MSPs that support them need to rethink their approach to cyber protection. They need to work smarter, not harder to simplify their approach, connect disparate capabilities for seamless protection, and remain updated about the status of their defence.

Acronis Cyber Protection Solutions deliver all of this, unifying modern data protection, cybersecurity, and endpoint management capabilities into a single platform, console, and user experience. Visit the Acronis website to find out more.

And download the full report here.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 29 April 2021

image of castle representing protection

Cyber protection in EMEA – what you need to know

By 2021

2021-04-14 Here are the ten most interesting and enlightening stats you need to know from the Acronis Cyber Protection Week 2021 EMEA Deepdive report:

Stats pertaining to IT professionals

  1. The top three cyberthreat concerns for IT professionals in EMEA are:
    • Malware
    • Data theft
    • Phishing attacks
  2. The 2021 IT priorities for the region include:
    • Enhanced data privacy and compliance
    • Modernised cybersecurity stacks
    • Improved support for remote-work environments
  3. One in five organisations are running more than 10 different cybersecurity and data protection solutions and agents simultaneously. Further, 43% run between six and 10.
  4. Despite this multitude of capabilities, half of the organisations surveyed still suffered data loss and downtime last year.

Stats pertaining to personal IT users

  1. The top three cyber protection concerns for IT users are:
    1. Data theft
    2. Malware
    3. Phishing
  2. Almost nine out of 10 personal IT users don’t follow backup best practices such as the 3-2-1 rule, and nearly three out of four have had to recover from unoptimised backups.
  3. 32% of personal IT users don’t install security patches on the day they are released.
  4. A massive seven out of 10 IT users don’t use anti-malware services or anti-malware that includes zero-day attack protection.
  5. 66% of users don’t know if their data has been accessed or modified without their permission.
  6. Unsurprisingly, more than eight out of 10 people are using their IT devices more this year, with 10% admitting to using them twice as much.

Bonus number 11 from the global report: The FBI has reported a 400% increase in cyberattacks since the start of the pandemic, and 31% of organisations are attacked by cybercriminals at least once a day.

For the EMEA report, Acronis surveyed IT professionals and users in South Africa, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands, Sweden, UK, United Arab Emirates. For the full deepdive and the global report visit the Acronis website.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 14 April 2021

image of woman watching webinar

Synapsys notes part six – Scaling your marketing initiatives

By 2021

2021-03-31  Congratulations, we’ve reached the final session of Acronis’s online marketing course for its MSP partners titled “Marketing Fundamentals (for Non-Marketers)”.  And to jump straight to the end of the online video session, two things should now be very clear:

  1. companies that market more and better grow faster; and,
  2. it’s complicated (but don’t worry, you’re already ahead of the game by doing this course).

This is according to US marketing expert Louis Gudema who hosted the course and who developed Bullseye Marketing, the marketing framework that the course is based on.

Putting your marketing to work

In this session, Gudema gives a quick recap of the previous sessions, including what to do and how to do it. He then moves on to offering guidelines for choosing the most helpful marketing technology tools. With more than 7,000 martech tools available, this is essential advice.

From there we move into the meat of the session, taking a look at marketing data and analytics where you’ll find out about

  • key metrics you should be tracking;
  • building your marketing team in a way that works for your organisation; and
  • agile marketing methods.

Although we are starting to move into territory that may feel very foreign to non-marketers, this new information builds on what we have already learnt, which provides context and confidence. Plus the good news is you don’t need to do it all, or do it all yourself. As usual Gudema’s information is both tailored to your situation, and very practical.

 

Are you an Acronis partner and did you miss the information about the course? Let us know and we’ll arrange a resend.

Not an Acronis partner yet? Get in touch with us and start your #CyberFit journey today.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 31 March 2021

Synapsys interim logo

Acronis Acquires Synapsys

By 2021

2021-03-23  Our mission at Synapsys was always to bring Acronis to Africa – well, it’s happened! You may already have seen the announcement in the news or on social media, but we wanted to share it here too.

As part of its accelerated growth plan, Acronis identified Africa as a strategic growth market and is investing in our region by establishing a permanent presence on the ground. To fast track this, Acronis announced on 16 March 2021 that it has acquired the Synapsys group of companies: Synapsys Systems (Pty) Ltd and Synapsys Distribution (Pty) Ltd.

Peter French, Synapsys’s Managing Director, is now Acronis General Manager for the Middle East/Africa market. This is what he had to say about the news:

“This deal feels like a natural extension to our long-standing relationship with Acronis. Partnerships are about relationships which are about people: we are looking forward to continuing to support MSPs across Africa in keeping the ecosystem cyber protected, now as part of Acronis. And former Synapsys partners can look forward to a closer relationship with Acronis, working through the same core team on the ground whom they have grown to trust over the years.”

Photo of the Synapsys team

Team Synapysy, now part of Acronis

What you need to know about the deal

  1. The team

You’ll continue working with the same team you got to know at Synapsys. Plus, you’ll benefit from the support of a product you need and love from a strong, innovative company. At Synapsys, we have always positioned ourselves as the go-to for anything related to Acronis, and now with this integration, the organisational fence between us is removed, which translates to a win for partners and customers.

  1. Transition period

As you’d expect, there is a transition period planned, after which Synapsys will be fully integrated into Acronis. We will manage this transition carefully, so it has limited operational impact on our partners, and for now things remain business as usual. As operational details are worked out, we’ll communicate them to you, but if you have any questions today, please get in touch.

You can read more about the news here.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 23 March 2021

image of woman watching webinar

Synapsys notes part five – The magic really starts here

By 2021

2021-03-12  Now that you have the fundamentals of Bullseye Marketing in place, this week’s session of “Marketing Fundamentals (for Non-Marketers)” opens the treasure chest that is Acronis’s Partner marketing material. This is a wealth of sales and marketing collateral that is ready for you to use to put your marketing strategy into action.

Acronis Partner Portal

In this week’s video training session, Gudema provides a quick overview of what is available on the Acronis Partner Portal. But as he suggests, you really need to go onto the portal, orientate yourself and see what is possible.

More importantly, however, Gudema unlocks the entire marketing course by explaining how you can use these marketing materials to implement the strategies and tactics that have already been covered in the previous sessions. He talks us through a lead generation campaign to illustrate how the principles and tools work together across multiple channels.

Acronis really has done the heavy lifting for its partners with these resources. As US marketing expert Louis Gudema says, there are literally hundreds of resources in the library on the partner portal. These range from marketing campaigns and starter kits, to events and webinar material, to branding and logos. In fact, if you can think of it, it’s probably included under the marketing tab on the Acronis Partner Portal.

Moreover, Acronis has set things up so that with a very small amount of work, for instance adding your logo to an email template, you’ll be ready to roll with professional sales and marketing resources.

This 12-minute video packs a lot of punch, so don’t miss it for an overview of how these partner resources can help you accelerate your marketing and get the best ROI from your activities.

 

Are you an Acronis partner and did you miss the information about the course? Get in touch with us and we’ll arrange a resend.

Not an Acronis partner yet? Get in touch with us and start your #CyberFit journey today.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 12 March 2021

image of woman watching webinar

Synapsys notes part four – It’s a marathon and a sprint

By 2021

2021-03-04  This week’s session of “Marketing Fundamentals (for Non-Marketers)”, Acronis’s online marketing course for its MSP partners, changes gear. Up until now the course has focussed on quick marketing wins, including optimising your existing marketing material and customer relationships and then getting in front of new customers who are ready to buy today. This was the sprint stage, which aims to deliver quick results and lead directly to sales.

Sprint + marathon = long term wins

You need to keep doing this. But now you also need to layer on the marathon training in order to build your brand and ensure awareness and sales into the future. In the fourth video session, “Marketing for long-term growth”, US marketing expert Louis Gudema introduces the next stage of his Bullseye Marketing framework.

In this session he covers eight important tactics that you can use to:

  • build your brand,
  • drive brand awareness, and
  • gain trust

over the long-term.

As usual the information is clear and concise, and peppered with practical tips, examples and stories that will provide inspiration for your own ideas for your company. 

Content is still key

Content is a large part of many of these tactics, so a useful complement to this session is the “5 Steps to content marketing” datasheet that Acronis emailed the week prior to sending the email with this video session’s link. Also, don’t forget the work you have done on your customer personas during last week’s session. You’ll be needing these insights to match your content to your customers and prospects.

If this sounds a bit overwhelming, remember that you are building on a solid foundation from the first half of the course. Plus Gudema gives useful advice on how to stay focussed and prioritise your activities — always with an eye on getting the most out of your marketing efforts and spend.

Enjoy the session and see you back here next week for a look at the marketing tools you have access to as an Acronis partner.

Acronis partners should have received a sign-up email on 26 November 2020. Get in touch with us if you didn’t and we’ll arrange a resend.

Not an Acronis partner yet? Get in touch with us and start your #CyberFit journey today.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 4 March 2021

image of woman watching webinar

Synapsys notes part three – Customers are people too

By 2021

2021-02-25  This week’s Synapsys notes post is all about finding and targeting your ideal customers who are ready to buy now or in the next few months. We’ll look at the buyer persona worksheet and episode three of Acronis’s “Marketing Fundamentals (for Non-Marketers)”, which is titled: “Finding people ready to buy”.

If you are backtracking through your emails to find these, they were emailed out separately by Acronis.

The course shifts gear from mining the relationships and activities you already have in place, to finding more customers. What we really like about this section of the course is that it reminds us that we are always marketing and selling to people. As US marketing expert Louis Gudema, who presents the course, says in episode three, even in business-to-business marketing, people still make decisions primarily based on emotions. Another thing we like is the laser-focus on understanding who your ideal customers are, and then getting in front of them when they are in the process of making a buying decision. This helps cut through the noise of all the things you could be doing, to highlight the things you should be doing.

Step one – buyer personas

Step one is to complete the buyer persona worksheet with your team. Even if you think you know exactly who your customers are, this exercise is always worthwhile as it uncovers insights from the rest of your team and helps document information that is in your head. Inevitably unexpected connections and insights will emerge from the process.

Once you have painted the picture of your ideal customers — you are likely to have more than one — watch episode three of the course for three very clear tactics around getting in front of people who match this profile.

As usual we appreciate Gudema’s practical, pragmatic advice, and in this episode he gets real about when you should stop trying to do things yourself and call in specialist support. (Hint: Google ad campaigns are essential, but are complicated to get right.) Also, with his Bullseye Marketing framework, Gudema doesn’t require you to reinvent the wheel. He explains how you can draw on customer data you probably already have access to, before spending money on third party data.

This 10-minute video packs a lot of punch, so get started on it and your buyer personas today.

Missed our notes on the first and second sessions? Find them here and here.

Acronis partners should have received a sign-up email on 26 November 2020. Get in touch with us if you didn’t and we’ll arrange a resend.

Not an Acronis partner yet? Get in touch with us and start your #CyberFit journey today.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 25 February 2021

image of woman watching webinar

Synapsys notes part two – Squeezing all the juice from your lemons

By 2021

2021-02-18  We loved the subject line of the email that introduced the second session of Acronis’s “Marketing Fundamentals (for Non-Marketers)” so much that we used it for the title of this blog post.

So often, when starting something new, the overwhelm of thinking you are starting from scratch can be a challenge. But, as the title points out, this session takes a look at what you are already doing – formally or informally – to market your business and attract customers, and how you can harness this to start seeing quick results and grow your business.

Episode two: Optimizing existing marketing materials + worksheet

In this second session of Acronis’s online marketing course for its MSP partners, US marketing expert Louis Gudema expands on his Bullseye Marketing framework to look at optimising your existing marketing materials to grow your business faster. There’s a 44-minute video and customer persona worksheet (these were sent out in separate emails from Acronis). The video takes you through a logical, step-by-step process that helps you think about what you already know and do to attract customers and then it builds on this.

You’ll start with your existing customers and website and end up in a fairly complex digital marketing space, but Gudema gives you heaps of context and advice for navigating this. And you’ll end up where everyone wants to be: how to convert all this activity into sales using account based marketing.

See results within 3 – 6 months

As usual, Gudema mixes examples and anecdotes into the theory which helps make it come alive. He also offers a wealth of practical tips and tools that are all geared to help you see results in three to six months. 

So while this is the longest video of the six in the series, we encourage you to set aside some time to dive into it. It is an essential overview of the marketing landscape today, and sets the scene for some of the tactics introduced later in the course. Plus, it promises short term results through using and optimising things that you already do. 

Enjoy the session and meet us back here next week for session three, which looks at how to get your message out to people who are ready to receive it.

Missed our notes on the first session? Find them here.

Acronis partners should have received a sign-up email on 26 November 2020. Get in touch with us if you didn’t and we’ll arrange a resend.

Not an Acronis partner yet? Get in touch with us and start your #CyberFit journey today.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 18 February 2021