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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Synapsys notes – Intro to Marketing for Non-Marketers

By 2021

2021-02-11  At the end of November last year, Acronis launched an excellent online marketing course for its MSP partners. Titled “Marketing Fundamentals (for Non-Marketers)” it runs for six video sessions and includes useful download materials. What we really like about the course is that it’s especially geared for MSPs and understands the context in which you operate.

The course is presented by US marketing expert Louis Gudema, who takes a straightforward, common sense approach to marketing. He shares a lot of advice about what you can do today to see immediate results, even if you are time and budget scarce.

But we know that at the end of November, most of us were winding down for the year (especially in the southern hemisphere where we were heading into summer). So, in case you put the course on your to-do list, and then kept bumping it down, we’ve got you covered.

Over the next six weeks Synapsys will be your online study group. We’ll watch the videos and review the associated collateral to let you know what we thought and why we think you should watch the week’s session. We’re not going to summarise the material for you, sorry! But hopefully the blog posts will give you the nudge to grab a coffee, plug in your headset and watch the videos, which are all direct and to the point – you won’t be wading through hours of material to get to the important nuggets of information. And then start marketing your business in 2021.

Let’s begin.

Bullseye Marketing infographic & virtual session 1

Once you have signed up for the course you’ll start receiving emails with the links you need. The first two work as a pair: an infographic outlining Bullseye Marketing, which is what Gudema calls his marketing framework, and a link to the first online session, which is just under 25 minutes long.

The infographic and video give you an overview of the Bullseye Marketing framework and will help you orientate yourself to the course. We love this framework because it cuts through the clutter and options available today and gives you a very clear plan for prioritising what to do and where you should focus your efforts.

It’s definitely not all theory and marketing jargon. Gudema explains things very clearly with a lot of context and practical advice. The Bullseye Marketing framework is very pragmatic: Gudema explains why marketing can be so challenging for MSPs today and gives recommendations with this in mind. One thing is clear though, the companies that do the most to promote their services are the companies that grow the fastest.

Enjoy the session and meet us back here next week for session two, which focuses on optimising what you’ve already got.

 

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 11 February 2021

So long, Adobe Flash Player! But make sure it’s also farewell for good

By 2021

2021-01-27  It’s not as if we weren’t warned. We’ve had three years’ notice that Adobe would be discontinuing Flash Player and stop supporting Flash content at the end of 2020. Yet it seems that some organisations — notably the South African tax authority — are still in the process of shifting content from Adobe Flash to an open-source standard such as HTML5. Meanwhile, all major web browsers permanently removed support for Flash in January 2021.

As an Acronis cyberthreat update from early January pointed out, Adobe Flash Player reaching its end-of-life could leave users with a potential security risk. Flash Player needs to be manually uninstalled from laptops and computers — including that forgotten machine down in the basement, or the old laptop retrieved from the back of the cupboard for your kids to do their online learning on. No further updates or patches are going to be released by Adobe and this makes legacy instances of Flash Player a gift to cyber criminals. A common tactic of cyber criminals is to target old, unsupported, yet still active software that hasn’t been updated in line with the current threat landscape.

Ways the now unsupported Adobe Flash Player can be a security risk:

  1. Criminals send fake updates to the user, who, thinking they are doing the right thing because they are always being reminded to install all patches and updates immediately, download the malware onto their devices.
  2. Likewise, unauthorised versions of Flash Player on third party sites are likely to be malicious. Adobe has removed its Flash Player download pages and doesn’t make previous versions available from its site.
  3. Googling workarounds, such as keeping an older version of Firefox and the most recent version of Flash, is also not recommended from a security point of view.

What to do:

  1. Uninstall all instances of Adobe Flash Player on all machines that have access to your corporate network.
  2. Treat any new notifications or versions of Flash Player upgrades as malicious.
  3. Migrate any applications or content using Adobe Flash as soon as possible to an open standard such as HTML5, WebGL or WebAssembly.
  4. Ensure you keep your web browsers up to date to avoid unsecure or compromised Flash content.

Top tip: Acronis Cyber Protect makes it easy to keep the systems you look after secure by flagging outdated applications and helping you track down all instances of unwanted software, such as Adobe Flash.

Written for publication on the Synapsys website on 27 January 2021

cyberthreats

Ransomware is big business

By 2021

2021-01-20

By Peter French, Synapsys Managing Director

Between $400 billion and $800 billion. That’s how large global cyber crime revenues are according to Acronis founder and CEO, Serguei “SB” Beloussov, speaking at the Acronis Global Cyber Summit 2020.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how sophisticated and formalised cyber criminals have become. If you still get the picture of a lone black hat hacker in a basement somewhere, you need to update this to extremely motivated, very smart, and most importantly, highly organised criminal teams. Think customer service chats via IM, collaboration tools, channel and affiliate programmes, discounts for early payment and B2B offerings, rather than a teenager earning beer money.

Automation – serving good and bad alike

Ironically, this increasing sophistication of cyber crime is being driven by the same digitalisation process that is not only driving our digital business evolution, but also creating the valuable data that attackers target. For instance, ransomware attacks became that much easier to pull off with impunity thanks to the anonymity of cyber currency. Criminals have also tapped into offering software on an as a service basis to extend their reach and earning potential. Malware as a service also makes it possible for third parties to launch attacks without needing to do any programming, making cyber crime that much more accessible.

Automation means criminals can quickly evolve their technology as victims start to defend themselves, as well as increase their attack frequency. And criminals are using bespoke technology to single out high value targets as well as specific file types, such as tax files. On top of this, the more criminals earn from successful attacks, the more they have available to spend on developing enhanced technology.

Now add in the complexities of 2020, with a rapid global shift to working from home during the pandemic, and you have a perfect storm for the rapid evolution of cyber crime in all its forms, and especially ransomware attacks.

New tactics, new twists

The Acronis Cyberthreats Report 2020 identifies ransomware as the number one cyber threat in 2020 and describes a new twist on the typical profile of an attack. Now, as well as encrypting data, criminals also exfiltrate it and, in a second stage of the attack, release confidential data to show the organisation the criminals mean business and increase their chance of a larger payout.

Much has already been written about the individual attacks that took place last year – you can read more in the report above, and also by following Acronis’s CPOC updates, which provide a wealth of information.

I thought it would be interesting to take a deeper dive into some of the new tactics cyber criminals are using during ransomware attacks – all of which point to the sheer level of organisation and professionalism they have achieved.

The carrot and the stick

At the outset of an attack, and as long as victims comply with requests, criminals turn on the charm, even offering discounts for speedy payment and offering technical support by chat. In an astonishing instant message exchange between travel company CWT and its hackers in mid-2020, published by Reuters, the criminals negotiated fairly amicably with the company representative, saying it was only business, and complementing the company on its professionalism. The hacker ensures the company representative has taken down the decryption details accurately, but offers to keep the chat open in case they have any technical difficulties.

But when companies don’t comply and start to restore data from backups, the criminals turn nasty very quickly. Some hire call centres to cold call companies and use threats to bully them into engaging with the hackers. Another tactic is to buy Facebook posts that publicly shame the company, accusing it of not caring about customer information. This happened to beverage company Campari Group when it refused to negotiate over demands for $15 million in Bitcoin in exchange for 2TB of its data.

And, as already mentioned, criminals attempt a double dip: first demanding a ransom to unlock your network, and then threatening to release private data they have already exfiltrated unless a second ransom is paid. A particularly nasty new version of this is to also threaten the individuals whose data it is, especially if it’s medical data, and demand payment for the data to be kept private. Of course, then you need to trust that criminals do in fact delete the data when they say they do. Another revenue stream for criminals is to auction off the data on leak sites on the dark Web.

To pay or not to pay

While paying (or not paying) a ransom is purely your decision, what should be clear from the above is that even if you do pay up, the damage has been done as soon as data is exfiltrated, even if you do get your systems back up and running within minimal disruption. If you choose to pay, be aware that you perpetuate ransomware attacks, fund criminals, and there is no guarantee you will get your data back intact, or even at all.

It is clear then that the first priority needs to be identifying and stopping attacks before your data can be stolen and your system locked out. And to do that, you need multi-layered cyber protection that taps into automation, AI and machine learning to outfox even the smartest, most organised, most professional cyber criminals.

Get in touch with us and start your #CyberFit journey today.

This article was first published on ITWeb on 20 January 2021