All posts by Gary Johnston

Save Money and Time with data archiving

How to save money and time with Archive and Backup solutions

Data archiving and backup are related but not the same thing. We can demonstrate this by providing a case study based on a recent data archiving strategy project we have undertaken for a customer in West Sussex.

The customer uses an online virtualised environment to run accountancy and payroll software.

How much data is too much data?

The customer is charged per GB for data stored (around 1500GB (1.5TB)) on the virtual server; a large proportion of that data is historical data related to clients, which must be retained for Compliance but is not required for day-to-day operations. Does that sound familiar?

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How to achieve regulatory compliance and meet requirements for long-term retention with archived data.

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By setting up an automated data archiving, we can ensure that data that hasn’t been accessed for a set period (in the customer’s case, we decided on 18 months) will be loaded to the online data storage archive and stubbed.

The stub created by data archiving resembles the original document but differs because it takes up minimal space on the drive. However, the stub enables a user access to retrieve specific records sent to the data archive with minimal delay while they are restored to their original location.

Talk to us about the lower costs and other benefits of our archiving solution

The essential difference between archive data and backup data.

Here lies the difference between Archive data and Backup data; archive data deals with data that is no longer required for day-to-day operations but may need access in the future for compliance requirements or if the data becomes critical to access for another reason, such as a repeat order.

On the other hand, backup data will restore access to a crashed computer, server or Storage device such as NAS (Network Attached Storage) or a document that has been lost, deleted, or corrupted.

A backup will also save you in the event of an encryption attack. These attacks happen in virtual environments and even SaaS platforms such as M365, so they should also be backed up.

The essential difference between data archiving and backup is that data archiving removes the data from the hardware or disk systems and places it into a destination for long-term archive storage, resulting in lower costs and less requirement for ongoing investment in hardware.

A backup replicates the data to another location to enable disaster recovery, restoration of the data, or retrieval of specific files.

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A data archiving strategy

By setting up an automated process to archive data that hasn’t been accessed in 18 months, the 1.5TB of live data was reduced to 600 GB. The cost of archival data storage is around one-quarter of the cost of live storage, so data archiving is a great solution for long-term retention that is readily accessible while achieving regulatory Compliance.

As time passes, more data will be added to the archive, and older data will be progressively added to the data repository as it meets the 18-month age criteria we have set.

Interestingly, the data archiving process also reduced the cost and time spent backing up the customer’s online virtualised environment to archives designed to hold data for long periods.

Many of the same arguments also apply in a physical environment, as data archiving of historically rarely accessed data means that additional storage costs can be delayed if not avoided.

Receive our guide to the benefits of archiving and backing up your data with Onedrive, Acronis, and Wasabi archive data.

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Even Cloud Providers need disaster recovery.

Data encryption cyber attacks are a major risk for all businesses.

This happened to our customer’s virtual platform. As a result, they lost service for two days while the supplier restored service.

Unfortunately, some data was lost; it could have been worse; encryption attacks have been fatal to suppliers and probably many associated clients.

Having experienced considerable downtime, the customer approached us to create a backup of the virtual environment independent of the supplier.

We can now recreate their services in hours rather than days.

What is the difference between data archiving and data backup?

Many people confuse the terms archive and backup, but they are different.

An archive is long-term data storage used to retain data you don’t need to access frequently but want to keep for future reference or compliance reasons.

Backups are short-term copies of data you need to restore in case of a disaster, such as a hardware failure, a ransomware attack, or a human error.

Secure data archiving and backing up your data is important for protecting your information and saving money and time.

How can data archiving tools save you money?

One of the main benefits of archiving your data is that it can free up disk space on your servers and desktops, saving you money on upgrading your hardware.

Moving your data to a data archiving solution can reduce storage costs by reducing the storage space needed on your devices and lowering your power and cooling costs.

Onedrive is a Microsoft online storage service that can help you archive your data easily and securely. Onedrive can be configured to move your data to the archive and leave a fingerprint behind that takes minimal disk space.

How can a backup save you time?

Another benefit of creating data backups is saving you time in a disaster. A backup can allow you to restore a whole physical machine or a version of a document, which can save you hours or days of work.

A backup can also ensure that you can get back up and running in case of a hardware failure or an encryption attack.

Acronis can create a full image backup of your system, which can be restored to any hardware or virtual machine.

Data Backup & Disaster recovery

How to choose the best data archiving and backup solutions for your needs?

Many archive and backup solutions are available in the market, but not all are created equal. When choosing the best solutions for your needs, you must consider several factors: data integrity, costs, security, reliability, scalability, and ease of use. One of the best archive solutions in the market is Wasabi.

Wasabi is an online storage service that offers low-cost, high-performance, and secure data archiving.

It is 80% cheaper than other cloud storage services and has no fees for egress or API requests. Wasabi is also 6 times faster than other online storage services and offers durability and encryption at rest and in transit.

Wasabi is also easy to use and compatible with any S3-compatible application or device, making it the perfect solution for data archiving.

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To sum up, archiving and backing up your data is essential for saving money and time and protecting your information from disaster.

OneDrive, Acronis, and Wasabi are some of the best solutions for archiving and backing up your data.

These solutions allow you to enjoy the peace of mind that your data is safely stored and accessible at all times.

8 The benefits of archiving data.

  • Cost-Effective Storage: Migrating seldom accessed data to Wasabi Cloud NAS can significantly reduce primary storage costs.
  • Improved Performance: Avoiding low performance by offloading data that is infrequently accessed to your data archive storage can enhance system performance by freeing up local storage resources.
  • Automated Data Management: Wasabi Cloud NAS automates data assignment to the most cost-effective storage tier based on user-defined policies while achieving exceptional retrieval times
  • Seamless Integration: It allows for transparent data migration data management and synchronisation between local storage and the cloud, making it a flexible solution for various workflow challenges.
  • Extended Storage Capacity: Connect existing on-premises NAS (SAN or DAS) to Wasabi hot cloud storage to extend primary storage into online data storage, a highly scalable solution avoiding exponential growth of virtual or physical storage and considerably lower data retention costs.
  • Data Accessibility: Archived files are replaced with virtual stub files, allowing users seamless access to archived data without interruption by storing historical data long-term in archives.
  • Meet Compliance Requirements and Searchability: A compliance role enables FULL-TEXT content search, allowing data to be searched and files recovered within seconds.
  • Simplicity and Reliability: Wasabi Cloud NAS is designed to be simple to use, providing organisations with the reliability and scalability they need for their data storage

    Low-cost approaches to archiving Email messages

    Your SaaS backup solution will recover from a disaster in the event of data encryption or a rogue user. However, it can also effectively archive old mailboxes as users leave the organisation, saving on licensing costs.

  • Talk to us about Managed IT services

how good is my password

How Secure Is My Password? | Are passwords enough on their own?

The importance of having secure passwords and, if 2-factor authentication is an option, turning it on cannot be overstated.

This week, I had the opportunity to see firsthand just how frustrating it is to deal with an account hijack.

On Friday, the customer contacted me, as one of the retired partners had unfortunately been victim to a hijacked personal email account.

Password strength,

The hijacking was discovered when spam was sent from the compromised account, some of which was directed toward the retired partner’s old company.

Taking back control

First, I had to regain control of the hijacked accounts. Fortunately, the recovery mobile hadn’t been changed, so I could easily regain access.

If the hackers had updated the recovery options, it would have been challenging to regain control.

The hijackers changed the Reply-to address to a Hotmail address they controlled. Fortunately, this was relatively easy to spot and rectify.

Contact us for a free Dark Web privacy assessment.

It’s worth highlighting that all emails sent during the period under the hijacker’s control would have come from the legitimate account holder, and anyone who had responded would have responded to the hijacker’s account, ideal if you are planning a Phishing attack.

Less obvious was that the hijacker had created a rule labelled (..), which forwarded all emails sent to the legitimate account to the hijacker.

Fortunately, they had neglected to tick the box saying to leave a copy in the inbox, so new emails didn’t appear. So, it was evident that something was going on, and we removed the rule.

However, the hijacker received a copy of all incoming emails for the period the account was under their control.

It would have been infinitely worse had they hijacked a Microsoft, Dropbox or Google user, as they also have data access.

Remember this ploy: a more subtle hacker who managed to control the account without being spotted using a compromised password and the fact that 2-factor Authentication isn’t in place could have used this technique to receive any emails that came in intended for the victim for a longer period.

It is not a stretch of the imagination to see how this could have resulted in a severe data breach if it had been a compromised business user’s email, Microsoft.

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Know your password strength, password best practices

  1. The password used by our customer appeared in a list of known security breaches.
  2. Use strong passwords. Longer passwords using special characters and symbols such as $%&* are better. Don’t ever use weak passwords. In this case, it was too simple.
  3. Reusing passwords: The client didn’t have unique passwords, and passwords had been reused across multiple sites.
  4. The customer had not strengthened their security by turning on 2-factor authentication.
  5. Passwords are not an effective deterrent, but an account with 2FA enabled will be secure against all but the most determined hackers.

    As a result, other services using the breached password, including Facebook, Apple ID, and a Microsoft personal subscription, were also at risk of being hijacked by the hacker.

How To Create Secure Passwords and Increase Password Strength.

Hopefully, everyone now realises that password strength is related to complexity and length. Good habits and a few rules are enough to make a strong password, but passwords alone aren’t enough to secure accounts.

How good is my password? In isolation, the answer in almost all cases is not good enough.

Most passwords will take a few minutes to a few hours to crack using modern processing.

Without additional security, accounts using 16-character passwords will be cracked in a few hours, and as it’s a process known as brute force, it won’t get bored and go away.

See this article from the Daily Mail online to see exactly how quickly passwords are cracked.

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I recommend Keeper Password Manager. Keeper creates secure passwords quickly.

The password checker monitors for compromised passwords and will let you know if your password has been reused.

This is usually the case early on when you first adopt a password manager, as Keeper has a really effective import function that pulls stored credentials from your browser.

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Keeper will even notify you of data breaches if a credential belonging to you appears on a known compromised password list.

Monitoring for data breaches and credential theft is easy to implement and cost-effective.

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We provide a monitoring service that checks our customers’ domains and reports on any data breaches containing sensitive customer information, such as compromised passwords.

Why Is Strong Password Security Important?

Password Security is the first link in the security chain we create to protect our digital lives.

Other Ways To Protect Yourself Online

Heimdal database of known bad Internet websites protects your browser

We create a layered approach to security, starting with educating the client on what constitutes a strong password.

How good is my password?

Use a complex password of at least 12 characters long, but 14 or more is better. A combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Don’t use a word that can be found in a dictionary or the name of a person, character, product, or organisation; don’t use the same password for multiple online accounts.

When browsing the Internet, it is vital to recognise risky situations and practices, but we are all fallible.

Hence, we implement technical solutions such as Heimdals web filtering solution and Conceal Browse that intervene if we accidentally visit a dangerous website.

The Impact of Stolen Passwords.

Stolen passwords are the most common cause of account compromise. Compromised accounts are often used in phishing campaigns and to send spam.

 

Why you should be using AI in your business

Real Business benefits of artificial intelligence

The next few years in IT will be fascinating as AI will be genuinely transformative for many of the tools we currently use to run our businesses.

Artificial intelligence will also increasingly turn up on our phones and tablets and get involved in our leisure; imagine a personal assistant curating music and entertainment, suggesting recipes and getting the online shopping list ready. A practical and social secretary, though initially without the charm of Jeeves.

Implementing AI is not replacing human capabilities but creating a better customer experience.

The best advice for anyone looking to succeed and progress, whether in your career or business, is to look at how artificial intelligence will affect what and how you go about your activities, understand it, and embrace it.

As technology develops, the danger to jobs and companies will come from the fact that people who resist digital personal assistants and don’t learn to work with AI won’t be as efficient as their colleagues who have. Companies that don’t embrace artificial intelligence won’t be as competitive as those that understand how to use AI, train their employees to use it, and plan to fully embrace a future where AI will assist in most facets of the business.

One of the ways we will see productivity increase with AI in business is by having an AI colleague and assistant, which will significantly benefit many of us who currently feel we are struggling with information overload.

‘AI won’t steal your job, but people using it may’ – BBC News

To demonstrate the growth of AI, I have compared other technologies that in their time were seen as disruptive, and it is obvious the ramp-up of Artificial Intelligence is more significant than any of the previous events

Some of this is down to hype and overpromising, so I can almost guarantee we will hit a disenchantment period during quarter two of 2024, where people will ask what all the fuss was about.

Then, we will enter into the period where AI technology becomes an established part of business processes, assisting with repetitive tasks and is just part of what and how we do things, and we may wonder how we got on before.

Copilot vs Other Technical Innovations: A Growth Comparison

Written by Me and my AI

I won’t hide the fact that this blog was written in co-operation with my AI Copilot, or Bernie as I like to call it, in homage to another slightly more accomplished exponent of the co-writer genre, Bernie Taupin, who famously writes the lyrics to Elton Johns’s music.

Take me to the Copilot.

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Microsoft’s Copilot is an Artificial Intelligence assistant embedded in browsers, the Windows 11 operating system and the M365 (Office) Application Suite. The Copilot system helps programmers write code faster and better.

It was launched in June 2021 as a technical preview and has attracted over 250,000 developers who have generated over 200 million lines of code.

But how does CoPilot compare with other technical innovations transforming the computing and communication world? In this document, we will look at the growth rate of Copilot and contrast it with email, the Internet, and social media.

The Internet

The Internet sparked the rapid development of everything we know as the digital revolution. Yes, we had computers before that, and some companies had networks, but the Internet made it rock, and access to websites made it sexy. So, while it was strictly not the beginning of the digital revolution, and we had previously seen some hints of what was to come, does anyone remember Ceefax? The content is instantly available on the Internet, and the advent of speedy Internet access hooked us all.

The Internet is a global network of interconnected computers and devices that exchange information using standard protocols. Its origin can be traced back to ARPANET, launched in 1969 by the US Department of Defense. Today, the Internet allows users to easily access and share various data types, such as web pages, files, images, videos, and audio.

So, at that point, we had the wires but very little accessible content unless you were a geek, but that changed in 1990.

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, a system of hypertext documents that can be accessed via the Internet.

The World Wide Web made the Internet more accessible and user-friendly. In 1993, there were only about 14 million internet users worldwide. By 1995, there were about 40 million. By 2000, there were about 400 million.

By 2010, there were about 2 billion. And by 2020, there were about 4.6 billion. The Internet has grown at an average annual rate of about 45% since 1993.

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AI Technology will radically change how we interact with the Internet.

You will have probably noticed that both Google Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge have AI tools added to them, Google Bard & Microsoft Copilot, which you can use to create content and analyse data.

Artificial intelligence in the form of assistants will radically change how we interact with the Internet. Artificial intelligence in business benefits us by giving us AI tools to understand customer behaviour better, providing a real competitive advantage.

Data security will be improved in the browser by leveraging AI tools to check web pages before we consume them, sandbox suspect activities, and fraud detection that intervenes before we click on rogue links.

See how Conceal Browse protects you and your business.

 Email

Email is one of the oldest and most widely used forms of electronic communication.

The first email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson, a computer engineer who worked on the ARPANET, the Internet’s precursor. He used the @ symbol to separate the user and host names. By 1973, about 75% of the ARPANET traffic was email. However, it took several years for email to become popular among the public. In 1989, there were only about 400,000 email users worldwide.

The advent of the World Wide Web and the commercialisation of the Internet in the early 1990s boosted the growth of email. By 1995, there were about 16 million email users. By 2000, there were about 400 million. By 2010, there were about 1.9 billion. And by 2020, there were about 4 billion. The email has grown at an average annual rate of about 40% since 1989.

Email is the workhorse of the digital age; it may be the oldest technology, and it often creaks my copy of Microsoft Outlook, but for all its problems, it is trendy.

Interestingly, the curse of the Internet age Spam email also has a long history. The first spam messages were sent in 1978 by the Digital Equipment Corporation before most of us even knew email was a thing.

Ever since efforts have been made to clean up the mail stream, the latest initiative being the adoption and adherence to DMARC, which Google, Microsoft and Apple are currently championing.

How we can help keep you on track with DMARC https://tamitesecureit.com/valimail-dmarc-what-to-do-with-dmarc-reports/

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are increasingly used in spam filtering services.

Expect to see artificial intelligence in business used to provide a better understanding of our email usage and preferences to protect us from spam better by using machine learning algorithms and helping us with repetitive tasks.

Microsoft has introduced New Outlook, which you must adopt to work with Copilot to manage your email.

Giving us help with our email interactions is an excellent example of the positive effect on productivity through improvements brought by machine learning—AI in business benefits significantly from the arrival of the Copilot assistant.

How we use AI systems to help you with Spam: The Heimdal Spam filtering product now uses AI systems to remove spam.

 

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Copilot AI in New Outlook is an example of productive AI in business.

New Outlook is a modern version of the Outlook email client with a redesigned interface and new features. One of the key features of New Outlook is its integration with Microsoft’s Copilot AI assistant. With Copilot added, New Outlook users can benefit from Artificial intelligence-powered features such as:

  • Email categorisation and prioritisation: Copilot can help users organise their inboxes by automatically categorising and prioritising emails based on their content and importance.
  • Smart replies and suggestions: Copilot can suggest quick email replies, saving users time and effort composing responses.
  • Meeting scheduling: Copilot can assist users in scheduling meetings by finding mutually available times for all participants and sending out invitations.
  • Task management: Copilot can help users keep track of their tasks and deadlines by creating and managing to-do lists within New Outlook. Integrating Copilot with New Outlook can significantly enhance users’ productivity and efficiency in managing their emails and tasks.

Social Media

Social media refers to online platforms allowing users to create and share text, images, videos, and audio content. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok originated in the early 2000s and have since evolved to introduce new features and platforms catering to various niches and communities.

As of January 2021, there were about 4.2 billion social media users worldwide, facilitating communication, collaboration, self-expression, learning, content creation and consumption, social and political engagement, and entertainment.

Social media has become a robust and influential medium for various purposes, such as marketing, advertising, branding, customer experience, and personal development.

Social media has transformed communication, collaboration, self-expression, learning, content creation, social and political engagement, and entertainment. It poses new opportunities and challenges for businesses, governments, and society.

One of the downsides of the proliferation of social media platforms is one of control and regulation. It has also raised some ethical and legal concerns, such as privacy, security, misinformation, cyberbullying, addiction, and regulation.

AI systems will be increasingly used to protect your privacy and create a secure environment for everyone.

AI systems are being added to these services, and we will increasingly see machine learning playing a part in AI tools protecting us and our children from some of the harmful and problematic aspects of Social Media.

Social media is a dynamic and complex phenomenon that requires constant research and innovation to understand and harness its potential and implications.

Effective customer relationship management by integrating artificial intelligence into your CRM will help you manage your social media activities, understand customer behavior and monitor the effectiveness of campaigns. Using AI assistants to improve the customer experience, giving them instant access to product information, and processing customer requests is an example of how AI in business is used for process automation.

Copilot

Microsoft’s Copilot AI systems transform how people work and learn, giving the businesses that adopt it a significant competitive advantage.

NLP or Natural Language Processing makes AI tools such as Copilot and Bard powerful as they use natural language. You can ask it questions in everyday English or your preferred language, and it will understand your request and, best of all, give responses in something approaching natural language.

M365 Copilot is a suite of tools and services that leverages Copilot’s code generation capabilities to enhance productivity and creativity across Microsoft applications.

M365 Copilot was launched in September 2021 and has already been adopted by over 50,000 users who have generated over 10 million lines of code for various tasks and projects.

M365 Copilot works with Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, OneNote, and SharePoint to provide smart suggestions and solutions for common and complex problems. For example, M365 Copilot can help users create dynamic charts and graphs in Excel, design engaging presentations in PowerPoint, write professional emails and reports in Word, automate workflows and processes in SharePoint, and collaborate effectively in Teams.

M365 Copilot can also understand natural language queries and comments and generate code snippets accordingly.

M365 Copilot empowers users to achieve more with less effort and time while learning new skills and improving their code quality.

M365 Copilot is a valuable tool for developers, students, teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who wants to leverage the power of AI and code to enhance their work and learning outcomes.

GitHub Copilot is an AI system that helps programmers write code faster and better. It was launched in June 2021 as a technical preview and has attracted over 250,000 developers who have generated over 200 million lines of code. Copilot is powered by a deep learning model called Codex, which was trained on billions of lines of code from public sources, such as GitHub. Copilot can suggest code completions, refactoring, tests, and documentation for various programming languages and frameworks.

How Copilot uses natural language processing to bring productivity to your business

  • Copilot can also generate code from natural language descriptions or comments.
  • Copilot is integrated with Visual Studio Code, a popular code editor, and GitHub, a leading platform for hosting and collaborating on code projects.
  • Copilot is designed to be a coding assistant, not a replacement, for programmers. It aims to enhance their productivity, creativity, and quality, enhancing, not replacing, human capabilities.
  • Copilot is still in its early stages and has some limitations and challenges, such as handling edge cases, ensuring security and privacy, and avoiding bias and errors.
  • Copilot AI technology is expected to improve as more developers use it and provide feedback. Copilot is a novel and innovative technical innovation that has the potential to revolutionise the field of software development.

It is too soon to estimate its growth rate, but it will likely be very high, given the demand and interest from the developer community.

Growth Comparison

To compare the growth of the Copilot with other technical innovations, we can use a graph that shows the number of users over time. The graph below is based on the data from the previous sections. It assumes that Copilot will grow at an annual rate of 100%, which is a conservative estimate given its current popularity and potential. The graph uses a logarithmic scale to show the exponential growth of the technologies.

 

Microsoft Copilot

Getting Started with Microsoft M365 Copilot

Copilot Artificial Intelligence can help you with repetitive tasks, works using natural language description, can generate suggestions, offer multiple suggestions, Microsoft M365 Copilot

Microsoft M365 Copilot is now available to all UK businesses. Have you begun your AI journey? The technology benefits more than just accountants, travel companies, Estate Agents, and Service Engineering Companies.

The thing to grasp about Copilot is that not only will it help you within your M365 applications, assisting with tasks such as drafting emails, creating presentations, etc.

We have been assisting our customers with adopting Microsoft M365 Copilot and are now increasingly involved in its evolution within the business.

As Businesses realise that Copilot goes beyond being a personal assistant, Copilot can be embedded into functions within the business; with Copilot Studio, we create specific versions of Copilot to help with particular functions within the company based on your content.

Contact me to discuss M365 Copilot.

Build your own Microsoft M365 Copilot

Build your own assistant for Human Resources, a resource for customer services or make a help assistant where engineers can share their experience and best practices.

Copilot is a powerful tool that can help businesses of all sizes improve their productivity and efficiency. It can assist with tasks such as drafting emails and creating presentations within M365 applications, and it can also be used to generate custom Copilots for specific business needs.

For example, a Human Resources department could use Copilot to create an assistant that helps with tasks such as onboarding new employees, managing employee records, and answering common HR-related questions. A customer service team could use Copilot to create a resource that quickly and accurately answers customer inquiries, reducing response times and improving customer satisfaction.

In addition, engineers could use Copilot to create a help assistant to share their experiences and best practices with others in the organisation. This helps to improve collaboration and knowledge sharing, leading to more efficient problem-solving and innovation.

The Tamite Secure IT Microsoft M365 Copilot Whitepaper

Here are some examples of how businesses are using Microsoft M365 Copilot:

  • A travel company in Sussex uses Copilot to create an assistant that helps customers plan their trips, providing personalised recommendations for flights, hotels, and activities based on their preferences and budget.
  • An accounting firm in Haywards Heath uses Copilot to create an assistant that helps generate financial reports, manage client records, and answer common accounting-related questions.
  • A service engineering company in Brighton uses Copilot to create an assistant that helps engineers diagnose and troubleshoot technical issues. The assistant provides step-by-step guidance and access to relevant documentation.
  • A group of Estate Agents in Brighton use Copilot to draft emails and help answer questions about Renting and buying property.

These are just a few examples of how businesses can use M365 Copilot to improve their operations and achieve their goals. With its ability to understand and generate natural language, Copilot is a powerful tool that can help businesses of all types to work smarter and more efficiently.

Using Copilot Chat

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Microsoft has recently rationalised their AI products under the Copilot brand, so for clarity, I had Copilot define precisely what it is for us.

  1. What is Copilot Chat (Formerly Bing Chat)?
    • Copilot Chat is an additional feature integrated into the Bing search engine. It allows users to search for information on the internet using an AI-powered chatbot.
    • Previously known as Bing Chat, Copilot in Bing leverages the foundation of ChatGPT and enhances it with large language model (LLM) capabilities.
    • The chatbot is designed to understand complex and natural language queries, making it easier for users to find relevant information.
  2. Features and Capabilities:
    • Search Queries: You can use Copilot Chat to search for information online. It taps into the vast amount of data collected from millions of daily searches on the Microsoft Bing platform.
    • Content Generation: Copilot in Bing can also generate content such as reports, images, outlines, and poems based on information from the internet and Microsoft’s database of Bing search results.
  3. Accessing Copilot Chat:
    • Bing Website: You can access Copilot Chat directly from the Bing home page. Click the “Chat” link in the upper menu to start a conversation.
    • Microsoft Edge Browser: To use the Microsoft Edge web browser, open any webpage and click the Bing sidebar button in the upper right corner. Then, select a conversation style to engage with Copilot Chat.
  4. Cost: For consumers, Copilot Chat is part of the free Bing search engine. You can use it without any additional charges.

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And finally, What is GitHub Copilot?

 

  • GitHub Copilot is an Artificial Intelligence-powered tool that helps software developers generate code more efficiently and intelligently. It offers real-time suggestions and autocompletion, generates code snippets, and provides documentation assistance. It supports multiple programming languages, including Python, JavaScript, TypeScript, Ruby, Go, C#, and C++.

Enable GitHub copilot

  • To enable GitHub Copilot, you need to install the GitHub Copilot extension in Visual Studio Code. You can find the extension in the Visual Studio Code Marketplace by searching for “GitHub Copilot extension” and clicking the install button. Once installed, you’ll need an active GitHub Copilot subscription to use it. If you haven’t activated your free trial, the extension will prompt you to do so within VS Code. Sign in to your GitHub account and follow the instructions to activate your trial.

 

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Verified students and maintainers of popular open-source projects on GitHub. Benefit from a free GitHub Copilot subscription. It’s primarily designed for software developers, whether beginners or experienced professionals. Students learning programming can benefit from Copilot’s guidance and code examples, while open-source contributors can accelerate their contributions to projects by suggesting code improvements and fixes. Collaborative development teams can use GitHub Copilot to streamline workflow and enhance productivity.

The GitHub copilot extension

The GitHub Copilot plugin is an extension for Visual Studio Code. To use it, follow these steps: install VS Code from the official website, install the GitHub Copilot plugin in VS Code’s Extensions view, sign in with your GitHub account, and activate Copilot. Once installed, Copilot will be active whenever you generate code in VS Code.

In summary, GitHub Copilot is a powerful tool that combines AI, code generation, and autocompletion to enhance the coding experience. Whether you’re a solo developer, part of a team, or a student, Copilot can significantly boost your productivity and creativity in writing code-generated.

M365 Copilot as a product is already impressive, and hopefully, this is just the beginning. For Copilot to work effectively for your business, it will need what is termed grounding.

“Microsoft M365 Copilot. What is Grounding, and why is SharePoint the key?”

  • Grounding ensures the generated output’s quality, accuracy, and relevance by providing LLMs with contextual information specific to a particular use case.
  • While LLMs come with enormous amounts of general knowledge, this knowledge is general and not tailored to specific cases.
  • We must “ground” the models in our specific use case context to obtain accurate and relevant output.

Motivation for Grounding:

  • LLMs are not databases, even though they possess a wealth of knowledge. They are designed as general reasoning and text engines.
  • Their knowledge is stale, as they are trained only up to a certain point in time and don’t continuously update.
  • Large Language Models can only access public information and are unaware of relevant content beyond corporate firewalls, private data, or use-case-specific information.
  • Grounding is the key to unlocking LLMs’ full potential. We can achieve unparalleled results by combining their powerful general capabilities with specific information relevant to our use cases. With grounding, we can take our AI-powered solutions, such as M365 Copilot, to the next level and revolutionize the way we work.

Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG):

  • RAG is the primary technique for grounding.
  • When responding to a prompt, a language model retrieves relevant information to complete the task at hand.
  • RAG ensures that the generated output incorporates the necessary context and data.

Fine-tuning (Honorable Mention):

  • Fine-tuning is another technique related to grounding.
  • Additional training steps are required to incorporate task-relevant information into a new version of the model.
  • However, fine-tuning has become less relevant due to its time-consuming nature and limited improvement in accuracy.

SharePoint, OneDrive, and Data Sources:

  • Microsoft M365 Copilot can use authenticated content from SharePoint or OneDrive for Business as a source for generative answers.
  • When a user asks a question, M365 Copilot searches the specified SharePoint or OneDrive URLs and sub-paths to retrieve relevant content.
  • This content is then summarised into targeted responses.
  • Authentication is required for content analysis and retrieval.
  • Microsoft Graph connectors can also integrate external data sources with Copilot, pre-indexing read-only information for retrieval.

In summary, Grounding M365 Copilot’s responses in specific information from SharePoint and OneDrive ensures contextually relevant and accurate replies specific to your business.

Essentials for Using SharePoint Effectively

How to improve your productivity and security with SharePoint

What Is Microsoft SharePoint?

Microsoft SharePoint is a cloud-based platform that allows you to create, store, share, and manage documents and information across your organisation. SharePoint is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of applications, which means you can integrate it with other tools like Outlook, Teams, Word, Excel, and more.

  • SharePoint is designed to help you work smarter and faster by enabling you to:
  • Access your files from anywhere, on any device, with secure and reliable cloud storage.
  • Collaborate with your colleagues in real-time, with co-authoring, commenting, and versioning features.
  • Organise your documents and information in libraries, sites, and hubs with metadata, tags, and search capabilities.
  • Customise your SharePoint experience with web parts, apps, workflows, and branding options.
  • Streamline your business processes with forms, automation, and integration with Power Platform.

Why Use SharePoint? The Benefits of SharePoint for Your Business

  • SharePoint can help you improve your productivity, efficiency, and communication by offering you the following benefits:
  • Reduce the need for paper, email attachments, and multiple copies of the same document to save time and money.
  •  Enhance your security and compliance by controlling who can access, edit, and share your files and applying retention and deletion policies.
  •  Boost your innovation and creativity by encouraging employee teamwork, feedback, and knowledge sharing.
  • Scale your business growth by adapting SharePoint to your changing needs and goals and leveraging the power of Microsoft 365.

1. Consistency is the key to a successful approach to naming files

In SharePoint, as in life, consistency is the key to success.

Many users are confused about how OneDrive and SharePoint relate to each other. The main point to remember is that OneDrive is designed as a personal repository for documents and can, if set up correctly, synchronise your personal Documents, Pictures, etc., from your computer to the Microsoft OneDrive Cloud storage.

It’s helpful if you work across several devices and can also be set up to create a basic backup.

SharePoint is a mature business area that centralises document storage and sharing across the business.

You may store numerous documents in OneDrive and SharePoint, so consistency in file naming is essential. If you don’t, you will soon find that searching for the current version of the document you need to access or work on is problematic.

If you get it wrong, search results will contain obscure filenames. As a result, you will need to open each file to find your desired one. Finding a specific file from thousands of documents can become impossible if different departments and colleagues follow different naming styles.

Create a short guide to file naming used company-wide and add it to your new starters training.

Use consistent and descriptive file names to make identifying and finding your documents more accessible. Avoid using vague or obscure names that can confuse you and your teammates. For example, instead of “Report.docx, “use “Quarterly Sales Report 2024 Q1.docx. ”

If you have migrated to SharePoint from a physical file server, the new folder and file structure can be especially problematic if the file server relies on folders and subfolders to define departmental working spaces.

SharePoint prefers a flatter file structure, which will cause issues later on if you have just moved documents from your old file server environment without a process for housekeeping.

2. Tagging Documents

You may still experience issues finding the required document despite following a single naming convention. Tag your documents to get the best results and make Microsoft Search show you more specific and relevant results.

Tagging is best viewed as a way to identify the business area that owns the document, such as Sales, Marketing, Accounts, Credit Control, Human Resources, etc.

Tag your documents with relevant and specific metadata to enhance your search and filtering options.

Metadata is additional information that describes your documents, such as date, author, department, project, etc. To add metadata, you can create columns in your library and assign values to your documents. For example, you can add a column for “Status” and tag your documents as “Draft”, “In Review”, or “Final”.

3. Manage Access Request

Illustration of granting access to files and folders

Imagine you shared a link with a colleague via email and left for the day. When that person tries to open the link, they find they don’t have access to that file. They can ask for file access, but they have no clue who can share approval and the turnaround time. Sometimes, multiple team site owners can get notifications about file access requests.

It’s also possible that everyone will think that others will accept the request. As a result, the person who asked for access might never get a reply. To avoid such issues, you can set up a specific support email to address such requests.

4. Restrict Library Permission

Mass permission to access the library is harmful to data security. To avoid such scenarios, restrict access to the library on any SharePoint site.

The principle of restricting access to the least possible, often called the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP), is a computer security concept in which users are given the minimum access levels necessary to complete their job functions. This principle is applied to help minimise potential damage if an account is compromised, as the amount of harm that can be done is limited by the privileges of the compromised account.

This principle becomes crucial in the context of SharePoint and specifically regarding library permissions. Here’s why:

1.      Data Security: Limiting access reduces the risk of sensitive data being accessed by unauthorised individuals. This is particularly important for libraries that contain sensitive information, such as those that an HR team might use. If everyone in your organisation had access to this library, it could lead to unauthorised access or accidental data leaks.

2.      Data Privacy: Restricting access also helps keep personal data private. This is particularly important given privacy laws such as GDPR require organisations to protect personal data.

3.      Reduced Risk of Data Manipulation: With fewer individuals accessing the data, there is a reduced risk of the data being accidentally or maliciously altered or deleted.

4.      Easier Management: A library with fewer people with access is easier to manage. It’s simpler to track who can access what and monitor for unusual activity.

It’s essential to restrict library permissions.

Therefore, it’s essential to restrict library permissions on any SharePoint site. If you have libraries that only specific teams need to access, such as the HR team, you should limit access to just those individuals. This can be done by naming the library and mentioning its special status in its description, then adjusting its permissions accordingly. This way, you ensure that your SharePoint site is secure, data privacy is maintained, and your organisation complies with relevant data protection regulations.

If you have libraries only the HR team needs to access, you can limit others’ access to that SharePoint site. To do so, name the library and mention its special status in its description.

It’ll help you locate all files that belong to the same category. To add a tag, go to a library and add a new category field like date of creation, last modified, etc. For every document, include the corresponding data that will work as the tag. This way, you’ll get precise results from SharePoint.

Getting your Security Right in M365 Copilot

As you can see, getting SharePoint right can be a complex business. This is why Tamite uses tools to simplify the process of ensuring security.

We manage our customers using Octiga, which provides affordable and automated cybersecurity for businesses of all sizes.

We recognise the complexity associated with adequately configuring security in Microsoft M365, not to mention the considerable time it takes.

Our product addresses all of these needs. It reduces time and complexity using easy-to-understand interactive wizards and automation. It also keeps you safe by monitoring, alerting, and remediating security risks and incidents.

Octiga M365 integrates directly online with your Office 365 in one click and requires no technical expertise.

Contact us to arrange a demo.

5. Using Folders

Use folders sparingly and prefer flat structures over nested ones. Try to avoid folders with multiple subfolders and sub-subfolders, “Implementing” – spelt with an “e” instead of an “i” – is the correct spelling of the word. as these slow down and may even stop searches.

Folders can complicate your library, limiting your visibility and document access. Instead of using folders, you can use metadata, views, and filters to group and sort your documents. For example, instead of creating a folder for each month, you can create a view that shows your documents by month based on the metadata column “Created”.

6. Secure Documents Using Lock Feature

SharePoint allows you to share files and documents with your team members, but sometimes, you may want to prevent others from editing or modifying them. For example, you may have a final version of a report that you don’t want anyone to change, or you may have a draft that you are still working on and don’t want anyone to see.

You can use the lock feature to secure your documents in these cases.

The lock feature lets you mark a document as read-only so no one can change it without your permission. You can unlock a document when you are ready to share it or allow others to edit it.

When a document is locked, SharePoint will display a lock icon next to its name so everyone can see its status. You can also add a lock setting to the workflow to automatically lock a document when approved or completed.

Users must have the appropriate permissions on the document library to lock or unlock a document. You can lock or unlock a document by following these steps:

Select the document that you want to lock or unlock.

Click on the ellipsis (…) next to the document name and choose Manage Locks from the menu.

In the Manage Locks dialogue box, choose Lock or Unlock, depending on what you want to do.

Click OK to confirm your choice.

7. Have a policy document retention

A common mistake made by smaller businesses and even some big ones is to fail to have clear retention policies for documents, resulting in bloated data storage, extra backup costs and even increased risk from data security breaches; getting it right should be high on your list of priorities.

A document retention policy in SharePoint applies rules to documents that determine how long they are kept before being disposed of. This is particularly important for organisations that must comply with legal or industry regulations regarding document retention.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how it works:

Creation of Retention Labels: These labels specify the retention period for the documents

The sites to which the retention labels will be applied. Labelling the Content: The documents are tagged with the appropriate Retention Labels.

For example, due to industry regulations, some documents must be retained for at least seven years, after which they can be deleted. This is a common requirement in many industries for legal compliance.

All files stored in SharePoint or OneDrive sites can be retained by applying a retention policy or retention label. When a retention policy is used, all files in document libraries, which include any automatically created SharePoint document libraries, such as Site Assets, can be deleted.

Please note that the retention settings do not apply to organising structures that include libraries, lists, and folders. To.

It’s important to remember that the destruction of records will be suspended if there is any possibility of anticipated litigation or regulatory investigation. Also, under UK GDPR and the DPA 2018, personal data processed by HMRC must not be retained longer than necessary for its lawful purpose.

8. Quickly Copy Lists and Libraries

One of the benefits of using SharePoint is that you can create lists and libraries to store and organise your data. Lists and libraries are collections of items with the same metadata, such as columns, views, and settings. You can use lists and libraries to manage tasks, events, contacts, documents, etc.

Creating a list or a library from scratch can take a lot of time and effort, especially if you must configure its metadata and views. If you have to create similar lists or libraries for different projects or sites, you may want to copy an existing list or library instead of starting from scratch. This way, you can save time and maintain consistency across your SharePoint sites.

SharePoint allows you to copy a list or library from any site you can access. You can copy almost the entire configuration of the list or library, including its columns, views, settings, and content. However, some features, such as workflows, alerts, and permissions, are not copied. You can copy a list or a library by following these steps:

  1. Go to the site containing the list or library you want to copy.
  2. Click on the Settings icon and choose Site Settings from the menu.
  3. Under Site Administration, click on Content and Structure.
  4. In the Content and Structure page, navigate to the list or library you want to copy.
  5. Choose Copy from the menu and select the destination site and location where you want to copy the list or library.
  6. Select the list or library and click on the Actions menu.
  7. Click OK to start the copying process.

9. Learn to Restore Lost Library Data

SharePoint libraries are designed to store and protect your data, but sometimes, you may lose some of it due to accidental deletion, corruption, or overwriting. For example, you may delete a file by mistake, or someone may overwrite a file with an older version. In these cases, you may want to restore your lost data from a backup or a previous version.

SharePoint provides several options for restoring your lost library data, depending on the situation and the time frame. You can restore your data from the Recycle Bin, a previous version, or a backup. However, you need the appropriate permissions and access to the library and the data you want to restore.

To restore your data from the Recycle Bin, you can follow these steps:

  1. Go to the library containing the data you want to restore.
  2. Click on the Settings icon and choose Library settings from the menu.
  3. Under Permissions and Management, click on Recycle bin.
  4. Select the data you want to restore in the Recycle bin page and click Restore Selection.
  5. Click OK to confirm your choice.
  6. To restore your data from a previous version, you can follow these steps:
  7. Go to the library containing the data you want to restore.
  8. Select the data you want to restore and click on the ellipsis (…) next to the data name.
  9. Choose Version History from the menu.
  10. In the Version history page, select the version you want to restore and click Restore.
  11. Click OK to confirm your choice.

Restoring From a SaaS backup

To restore your data from a backup, you need to contact your IT administrator and request that they restore it. You need to provide them with the following information:

The name and URL of the library containing the data you want to restore.

The name and type of the data that you want to restore.

The date and time when the data was last available.

So why must I back up M365 and my other cloud services?

It’s important to remember that SaaS platform providers, like Microsoft Office 365, are responsible for application uptime and the underlying infrastructure. They do this exceptionally effectively, but….

The customer is responsible for managing and protecting their vital business data; deploying your own M 365 backup can fill the gaps and shortcomings. You can save costs by fully archiving redundant user accounts outside the platform.

Having a comprehensive backup simplifies the task of meeting your compliance obligations.

·        Provide more accessible access to and restoration of lost data so your internal customers will love you.

·         Protect your precious data from internal threats such as accidental or malicious deletion of files and the growing threat posed by Ransomware.

A recent US study showed that one in three users had experienced data loss in the cloud. The most common cause is users simply deleting files or emails by accident.

 10. Know When to Use Different Types of Sites

While using SharePoint, you’ll come across two significant site templates. These are called the team site and the communication site. Both types have different uses, and you must choose one based on your project.

Using a communication site is a great idea if you want to share an announcement or promotion with your teammates. It’s ideal when you have more readers/employees than contributors.

The team site is suitable for project collaboration with a small team and when there are numerous contributors.

One SharePoint feature you might be aware of is creating personalised views based on your choice. Additionally, SharePoint offers several filters and toggles for document management. It lets you display extra metadata details, filter files of your choice, sort files in various orders, group files in one or multiple groups, etc.

Every team member can create a personalised view accessible only to them. It doesn’t hamper the library view for everyone. Moreover, you can create a public view if you have teammates with similar display requirements.

Key points

Plan your structure: Before you start creating sites, lists, and libraries, have a clear plan of how you want your SharePoint environment to be structured. This includes understanding your organisation’s needs and how information should be categorised and accessed.

Manage permissions: SharePoint allows for granular control over who can access what information. Properly manage permissions to ensure sensitive information is only accessible to authorised individuals.

Regularly back up your data: While SharePoint has some built-in recovery features, it’s crucial to back up your data regularly to prevent loss.

Keep it organised: Review and clean your SharePoint environment regularly. This includes archiving old documents, deleting unnecessary items, and ensuring everything is categorised correctly.

Train your users: SharePoint has many features and can be complex. Make sure your users are adequately trained to use SharePoint effectively.

Implement governance: Establish clear policies and procedures for using SharePoint in your organisation. This includes naming conventions, handling versioning, and who has the authority to create new sites.

Remember, SharePoint is a powerful tool, but like any tool, its effectiveness depends on how well it’s used. Proper planning, management, and training can help ensure you get the most out of your SharePoint environment.

How to use Microsoft 365 Copilot to automate email responses

Developing great Microsoft Copliot experiences

We are working with a customer who happens to be an Estate Agent on ways to use Microsoft Copilot AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities to automate their business processes, making them more efficient and saving their agent’s time.

The prominent place to get started is email and Outlook; one of the problems for the business is that the Office is staffed Monday to Saturday, 9:00 to 5:30, and for understandable reasons, a large proportion of the business clients look at properties outside of these hours.

Responding to Customers even when the office isn’t staffed

As a result, many emails are received during out-of-hours office hours, and responses are made when staff arrive the following day.

One obvious solution is to introduce a Chatbot to work with FAQs and answer questions that don’t require additional input from a human, but this, though related, is a different project that we will cover in a future blog post.

The AI capabilities of Microsoft Copilot will enable the client to interact with a customer even when the Office is not staffed; being able to ensure the customer has answered queries and filled out forms before they deal with the agents will mean they are not only working more efficiently but also appearing more efficient to your customers.

When you combine AI with existing technologies, the result is a powerful mix.

By leveraging the scheduled auto responses and existing rules in Microsoft Exchange, we can create innovative solutions that will make a significant impact.

Of course, many businesses in other lines of business will have similar issues to solve, so when you read “Estate Agent”, imagine a similar scenario and how AI can empower your business.

How to use Microsoft Copilot to automate email responses

This blog is intended to guide estate agents and others who want to streamline communication with potential renters and purchasers. In addition to email, we should consider other ways our business may communicate with our clients, such as WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams.

Copilot for Microsoft 365, Windows Copilot, access Copilot, Microsoft Copilot, Productivity Apps, Enterprise Customers

The addition of Copilot to Teams is a route to a whole new level of productivity.

Microsoft Copilot is now an integral part of Microsoft Teams, which offers businesses opportunities to create more efficient processes.

Within Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Copilot provides an AI-powered virtual assistant that can help users with a variety of functions within Microsoft Teams.

Some examples of Microsoft Copilot functions in Microsoft Teams include:

  • Scheduling and managing meetings: Microsoft Copilot can help you schedule, reschedule, and cancel meetings, as well as send reminders and follow-ups to attendees.
  • Finding and sharing information: Microsoft Copilot can help you find and share information from your emails, files, and other Microsoft 365 apps, making it easier to collaborate with your team.
  • Managing tasks and to-dos: Microsoft Copilot can help you keep track of your tasks, and to-dos and even create and assign tasks to others on your behalf.
  • Answering questions: Copilot can use information from the Microsoft Graph and other sources to answer a wide range of questions about your work, team, and organisation.
  • Copilot can provide insights and suggestions to help you work more efficiently based on your work patterns and habits.
  • Business chat is a feature of Microsoft Teams that allows users to communicate with each other in a chat-based interface. It is designed for use within an organisation and provides a range of tools and features to help teams collaborate and stay connected.

Use Copilot for Microsoft 365 to summarise Teams meetings.

Microsoft Teams have a built-in feature that allows you to record and transcribe meetings. To use this feature, you can start a meeting recording by clicking the “More actions” button and selecting “Start recording.”

Once the meeting is over, the recording will be processed, and a transcript will be generated. You can access the recording and transcript in the meeting chat in the Microsoft Stream app. You can then use the transcript to create a summary of the meeting.

As previously stated, the MS Graph enables you to collate customer conversations and documents across the environment.

What is Microsoft 365 Copilot?

Copilot is Microsoft’s big AI idea to give every individual a virtual personal assistant to enhance productivity by creating more quickly, creatively, and accurately while working within the Microsoft Application Suite. (Word, Excel, Teams, Outlook, etc).

In addition, you will now find Copilot in Microsoft Edge and Windows Copilot in Windows 11, and apparently,

Windows Copilot will soon be available for Windows 10. Part of Microsoft’s pitch is also to alleviate the burden of information overload that we all occasionally struggle with.

One way we can make ourselves and our colleagues Microsoft Copilot fit and ready for when we have access to the next big thing is to learn how to get the most out of it.

Microsoft 365 has Copilot embedded in New Outlook.

One of the helpful assistant functions is a feature that helps you create and send personalised and relevant email responses to your customers based on the context and intent of their inquiries.

Copilot features include suggesting actions and attachments to help you achieve your goals, such as booking a viewing, sending a contract, or following up on feedback.

Get our White Paper on the adoption of Copilot

How to set up Microsoft 365 Copilot for your email account?

To access Copilot, you must have a Microsoft 365 subscription and an Outlook email account. You can enable Copilot from the Settings menu in Outlook under the Copilot tab. You can choose the scenarios and domains you want Copilot to assist you with, such as real estate, travel, or education. You can also customise the tone and style of your email responses, such as formal, casual, or friendly.

How do we use Microsoft 365 Copilot to respond to inquiries from potential renters?

·         Open the email and click on the Copilot icon in the toolbar.

When you receive an email from a customer interested in renting a property you have listed on a website, you can use Copilot to quickly and easily reply with the relevant information and actions. Here are the steps to follow:

·         Copilot will analyse the email and generate a suggested response that matches your tone and style preferences. You can review and edit the response before sending it.

·         The suggested response will include a link to a document the customer must fill out with their personal and financial details, such as name, address, income, and references. The document will be stored in your OneDrive account and shared with the customer with the appropriate permissions.

The data will be stored securely by default

·         The supplied information will be encrypted to ensure that it remains confidential and can only be viewed to ensure the potential client meets the criteria required for the let.

·         The data will only be retained for the minimum period required to meet the legal and compliance requirements.

·         The suggested response will also include a link to a shared calendar you created with Microsoft Booking. The customer can choose a date and time to view the prope in this calendar. The calendar will sync with your Outlook calendar and send you and the customer a confirmation and a reminder of the appointment.

·         If the customer replies to your email and confirms the viewing, Copilot will suggest a follow-up email that thanks them for their interest and provides more information about the property, such as location, features, and amenities.

·         If the customer does not reply to your email within a certain period, Copilot will suggest a follow-up email reminding them of the document and the calendar link and asking them if they have any questions or concerns.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 was developed using OpenAI’s GPT-3 technology.

Microsoft Copilot is based on OpenAI’s GPT-3 technology, which allows it to work with many applications and CRMs using plugins and APIs that are readily available or easy to develop.

This means that Copilot can be integrated with a wide range of tools and systems to provide users a seamless and efficient experiences.

However, it is essential to note that the plugins’ availability and ease of development may vary depending on the application or CRM in question.

How Microsoft Copilot uses Graph to make its responses and suggestions relevant.

Microsoft Graph is a powerful tool that links your various Microsoft account applications, including SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, and email conversations.

It collects data from these applications and provides it to Microsoft 365 Copilot. This allows Copilot to access your data and provide personalised and relevant information to help you work more efficiently.

For example, it can help you find and summarise important documents, keep track of your conversations, generate drafts of emails and documents, and even search your data for answers to your questions.

MS Graph is regularly updated to ensure that you always have access to the most up-to-date information, allowing you to stay on top of your work and increase productivity.

What are Large Language models (LLMs), and how do they relate to the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft Copilot

Microsoft Copilot uses large language models (LLMs) to interpret the information within the Microsoft Graph.

This is achieved by combining the power of LLMs with the data available in the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 apps.

The LLMs are trained on vast amounts of text data, allowing them to understand and generate human-like text.

When you interact with Microsoft Copilot AI assistant, it uses these models to understand your natural language prompts and generate relevant responses based on the information available in the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 apps.

This allows Copilot to provide you with personalised and relevant information to help you work more efficiently.

The Role of Generative AI in Copilot for Microsoft 365

Copilot for Microsoft 365 uses Generative AI. Generative AI can create new content, such as text, images, or even music, based on a given input from sources within the Graph. It is used to create realistic and coherent content that is, in many cases, similar to human-generated content.

In the context of Microsoft Copilot, generative AI is used to enhance productivity by assisting users in popular daily applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and the Power Platform.

Through Large Language Model (LLM) technology, Microsoft has integrated ‘Business Chat,’ which allows users to initiate actions across all Microsoft 365 apps using natural language prompts.

For example, by making Copilot’s experiences seamless in Word, Copilot can assist in drafting, revising, summarising, and generating documents. In Excel, it can help users spot patterns and create striking data visualisations. In PowerPoint, it can transform ideas into comprehensive presentations.

Get our White Paper on the adoption of Copilot

Microsoft Copilot is secure by design.

Security is an inherent feature of both Microsoft Graph and Copilot for Microsoft 365.

Graph provides secure access to data and resources within the Microsoft ecosystem, while Microsoft 365 Copilot offers enterprise-grade security, privacy, compliance, and responsible AI to protect your data.

According to a white paper by Gary Johnston, Microsoft Copilot is available in three plans, each with different security features.

For example, the Bing Chat Enterprise plan adds commercial data protection to Copilot in Windows, so your chat data is not saved, Microsoft has no eyes-on access, and your data is not used to train the large language models LLMs.

Other Microsoft AI products

Microsoft Loop is a new app in Microsoft 365 that allows users to collaborate and create content in real time. It is designed to be a flexible canvas that can be used to capture, organise, and share information.

In the context of Microsoft 365 Copilot, Microsoft Loop can be used to brainstorm strategies and ideas with the help of AI.

For example, a user can ask Copilot to brainstorm strategies to increase user engagement with their product, and Copilot will generate ideas and suggestions within the Loop app

Bing Chat is an AI-powered chatbot service provided by Microsoft. It allows users to ask questions conversationally and get answers from Bing. Bing Chat uses natural language processing and machine learning to understand user queries and provide relevant responses.

Bing Chat Enterprise is a paid version of Bing Chat designed for businesses and organisations. It offers additional features and capabilities, including commercial data protection, to help enterprises communicate and collaborate more effectively.

These services are designed to work together to provide users with seamless and integrated communication and collaboration experiences.

Safely deploying Copilot for Microsoft 365 in your organisation.

Microsoft advises that organisations must establish strong content management practices before using M365 Copilot.

Proper content management is essential as the efficiency of the Microsoft Graph index depends on the data available; old, irrelevant, and inaccurate content will degrade the results.

Good content enhances the AI’s ability to retrieve relevant and valuable information.

Complete these content management tasks before your organisation rolls out Copilot for Microsoft 365:

·         Prepare your information and get it ready for search.

·         Review and monitor to establish a policy that implements ‘just enough’ (minimum) access for each user and ensure sensitive information is protected at all times.

·         Check your data and monitor it to eliminate and prevent over-sharing.

·         Review, update and monitor file-level controls (through policy).

·         Review and update your Team or Site level policies.

Save time, increase productivity, embrace AI

AI will almost certainly be the driver for creating large quantities of content relating to your business and activities. Management of this data will need consideration; review and update your retention and hygiene strategy.

While adopting Copilot for Microsoft 365 may sound daunting, it should be a case of building on your existing strategy.

We provide a range of products that will help you solve many issues. We are happy to discuss your requirements and assist you with a successful implementation.

Developing more and boost productivity using intelligent tools

The Microsoft Power Platform

Is a suite of tools that enables businesses to analyse, act, and automate data and processes. It includes Power BI for data visualisation and analysis, Power Apps for building custom business applications,

The Power Platform

It is built on top of Microsoft’s Dataverse, a secure and scalable data platform that enables businesses to store and manage their data. With the Power Platform, companies can quickly build custom solutions to meet their unique needs without extensive coding or technical expertise.

How do you integrate Microsoft 365 Copilot with Dynamics CRM?

If you use Dynamics CRM to manage your customer relationships, you can integrate it with Microsoft Copilot to keep track of your email interactions and actions. You can do this by installing the Dynamics 365 App for Outlook from Microsoft AppSource. This will allow you to:

·         View and update customer records from Outlook without switching to Dynamics CRM.

·         Create new customer records from Outlook based on the email sender or recipient.

·         Track and log your email activities and attachments in Dynamics CRM.

·         Create and update tasks, appointments, and opportunities in Dynamics CRM from Outlook.

·         Use Copilot to draft emails and send email responses consistent with your Dynamics CRM data and workflows.

Microsoft Copilot is worth embracing.

I strongly believe that businesses can benefit from their technological investments by adopting AI, specifically Microsoft Copilot.

Employees and employers need not be concerned about the changes that AI will bring to the workplace, as having a personal assistant on every desktop can enhance productivity and improve security by reducing digital overload.

Users will find Copilot AI simplifies and accurately summarizes information, saving time searching for documents and content.

It also provides tailored recommendations and assists in creating content such as presentations, Word documents, Excel workbooks, PowerPoint presentations and summarize emails.

By utilizing Microsoft Copilot features, users can overcome the initial difficulties of creating a document and hopefully contribute to a more satisfying work environment where AI personal assistants become valued members of the team.

However, it is vital to ensure that the environment in which Microsoft Copilot is introduced is secure.

If the file and folder structure is too open without proper access controls, the principle of least privilege – a basic control – will not be effective, and business security will be greatly improved by embracing it.

For more information, please read the NCSC article on employing the Principles of least privilege.

Introducing The Valimail DMARC Report Analyzer Service

The Email ecosystem is having something of an upgrade next month; the reason for the upgrade is simple and compelling. The fact is that it is too easy to spoof or fake email addresses.

For more information, see the NCSC’s in-depth explanation of the new DMARC rules

All of us have seen emails in our inbox that are trying to induce us into clicking on a link and lots of emails advertising things we aren’t interested in. The unwanted, unsolicited advertising emails are what we refer to as Spam, a subset of carefully targeted and crafted emails that directly target you as an individual. These are the dangerous ones that we refer to as Phishing. When they are successful, sadly, they have often put into train a series of events that can end up with cybercriminals gaining access to your system and, ultimately, your data.

The techniques often employed to trick users by impersonating legitimate, trusted sources of email that often originate from compromised email accounts are called Business Email Compromise. (BEC).

Fake emails put your company at risk. BEC is responsible for 60% of fraud (tamitesecureit.com) because if I can send an email and it looks like it came from an internal email address or someone you trust, you are more likely to act on it.

The changes are focusing on making it more difficult to impersonate valid email addresses

The approach being put into place by Yahoo, Google, and the rest in February employs a system of checks on records that DMARC Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance employ. DMARC is an email authentication protocol. It is designed to give email domain owners the ability to protect their domain from unauthorized use, so the solution lies in the DNS records that every domain (your.com) uses to perform various technical functions.

To find out if you are DMARC compliant. Get a free evaluation using our DMARC report analyzer.

The need to implement DMARC

Being DMARC compliant involves setting up and monitoring a group of DNS records that perform the vital function of verifying that the email received originates from the purported sender.

DMARC is all about putting in a mechanism to prevent criminals and spammers from being able to create emails that look as if they come from a domain but are fake.

You may have read that the DMARC requirement being rolled out by Yahoo and Google only applies to large mail senders (Over 5,000 per day), but here is the rub.

The threshold will inevitably be reduced, and because larger companies will have complied with DMARC, making faking their email difficult for the Cybercriminals, as a result, inevitably, Cybercriminals will shift their focus to companies who aren’t DMARC compliant, the SMEs.

So my advice is that less Spam is a good thing, and making life more complicated for cybercriminals is in everyone’s interest, whatever size of business we run.

See how we can make your business DMARC-compliant and keep it compliant. Get a free evaluation using our DMARC report analyzer.

 

email delivery

Mail Authentication. (The technical stuff)

The first policy update affects your domain architecture. You now must use SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) to authenticate your emails and prove they’re coming from a legitimate source.

SPF

SPF is an email authentication protocol that allows the owner of a domain to specify which mail servers they use to send mail from that domain. SPF records are published in DNS (Domain Name System) records and are used to verify that incoming mail from a domain comes from an IP address authorized by that domain’s administrators.

DKIM

DKIM is another email authentication protocol that allows the owner of a domain to attach a digital signature to outgoing emails. The signature is verified by the recipient’s mail server, which checks the signature against the public key published in the domain’s DNS records.

DMARC

DMARC is a protocol that works with SPF and DKIM to authenticate email senders and prevent spoofing and Phishing. Once set up, DMARC ensures that the destination email systems trust messages sent from your domain. Using DMARC with SPF and DKIM gives organizations more protection against spoofing and phishing emails.

Find out if you are DMARC compliant. Get a free evaluation using our DMARC report analyzer.

Improving email security by implementing DMARC, SPF, and DKIM can leave you with the problem of what to do with DMARC reports.

 

DMARC reporting analyzer, dmarc record, xml feedback, xml files

The UK National Cyber Security Centre provides helpful guidance (Email security and anti-spoofing) on the records you should implement to be compliant and avoid using your domain for spamming and Phishing campaigns.

If you have created a DMARC record, you will know that DMARC provides reports in an XML format that should be monitored to ensure smooth operation.

Valimail DMARC Report Analyzer.

 

dmarc reporting, dmarc analyzer, dmarc record, dmarc aggregate reports, email deliverability, dmarc check

DMARC report analyzer tools continuously monitor DMARC XML reports to ensure proper authentication of legitimate emails. Large providers, such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc., are already implementing DMARC. Your mail servers can receive reports from domains that show the email traffic, including the pass/fail rate of DMARC evaluation, email sources, and other relevant data.

Contact us to arrange your trial

Shadow IT?

One of the issues customers often experience is being unaware of all the email sources working on and within the business.

Often, Invoices or credit control are being performed for the business by a supplier or contractor; you may use Mailgun or Mailchimp for email mailshots.

These sources are often forgotten or were set up by a team within the business without the IT department’s knowledge, a practice known as Shadow IT.

Monitoring is the first step.

When using multiple email-sending sources, each will require its own SPF mechanism to be included in your SPF record; you can quickly exceed the lookups limit and cause a “perm error” result.

By using our DMARC service to manage DMARC and SPF, you can:

  • Have unlimited SPF DNS lookups
  • Optimise your SPF record
  • Add, remove, and update unlimited email service providers
  • Mitigate and avoid outgoing email loss caused by “permerror.”

The answer to what to do with DMARC reports.

Managed DMARC

With Managed DMARC, you can control your DMARC record(s) from your DMARC portal.

With Managed DMARC report analyzer, you can:

  • Manage the DMARC policy of your domains and subdomains on our platform simply and effectively.
  • Manage your RUA and RUF tags. (These reports are converted into data on your dashboard).
  • Manage your SPF and DKIM alignment mode.
  • Investigate what DMARC policy will be applied to your email.
  • Get a configuration overview with email authentication from your email-sending services. DMARC report analyzer tools continuously monitor DMARC XML reports to ensure proper authentication of legitimate emails. 

    Valimail, dmarc report analyzer, dmarc reports, dmarc analyzer, dmarc compliance, domain's dmarc record, dmarc failures

The Impact of DMARC Changes on Spam Filtering:

We can expect the world of Spam filtering to benefit from the changes being made to the landscape of email authentication protocols, specifically the upcoming changes to Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, & Conformance (DMARC), which are poised to impact how spam filtering solutions handle email significantly.

Enhanced Email Security:

DMARC’s stricter alignment policies will force senders to authenticate their emails using SPF, DKIM, or both. This significantly tightens the security net, making it harder for spammers to spoof legitimate domains and infiltrate inboxes. Spam filters can leverage these stricter checks to identify and block unauthorized emails more accurately, potentially reducing spam volume.

Improved User Experience:

DMARC changes can enhance user trust and email engagement by reducing spam influx. Fewer unwanted messages translate to cleaner, safer inboxes, streamlining communication and boosting productivity. Additionally, with increased sender accountability, users can feel more confident about the legitimacy of their emails.

Challenges and Considerations:

While DMARC promises a cleaner email ecosystem, its implementation presents particular challenges. The stricter policies might initially increase email bounce rates for legitimate senders who haven’t properly configured their DMARC records. Additionally, spammers will target smaller organisations that haven’t implemented DMARC. Cybercriminals might resort to more sophisticated techniques to bypass authentication protocols, necessitating continuous adaptation and improvement from spam filtering solutions.

Conclusion:

The DMARC changes represent a significant step towards a more secure and reliable email environment. While initial challenges exist, the long-term benefits for users and email service providers are undeniable. Spam filtering solutions must evolve to adapt to the stricter authentication protocols. Still, the resulting reduced Spam and improved user experience promise a brighter future for email communication.

Contact us to arrange your trial

 

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Tamite – Valimail Automated solution

Valimail is a cloud-based email authentication platform that fully automates DMARC configuration and policy management. With Valimail, you can enforce DMARC quickly and painlessly without needing an internal IT staff. Our email authentication platform replaces manual effort and guesswork with automation.

Automated solution

Valimail takes on most of the workload, so you don’t have to worry about identifying services or changing your DNS configuration. You can get free visibility into the services by sending emails as you do and taking quick action based on easy-to-do lists and automated workflows on the platform. Our DMARC solution will notify you of any concerns so you can relax knowing your domains are protected.

The Valimail approach

To get started, you only need to make a single DNS update to point your DMARC record to the Valimail Sender Identity Platform. Valimail’s interactive interface displays email-sending services by name, making identifying and managing them easy. You can select the sending services you want to allow to send as your domain and make changes in the drop-down menu if needed. We can even help you find the legitimate owners of the services that we discover. Remember, you are either at full DMARC enforcement or you aren’t, and there is no middle ground in keeping your domains protected.

what to do with DMARC reports

The requirement to implement DMARC on domains is going to cause lots of companies difficulties as only a fraction, less than 70%, are compliant, and once you set DMARC in place, you are faced with the necessity of dealing with the data, what to do with DMARC reports?

Do you know if your domains are DMARC compliant and what to do with DMARC reports?

Make no mistake, this is a good and necessary move, and as a result, Email security is about to get better with the rollout of stricter DMARC compliance by major email platforms such as Google and Yahoo, and supported by many corporations.

In summary, DMARC is a powerful tool that helps protect your domain from being spoofed (impersonated) by verifying the authenticity of email messages sent from your domain and preventing unauthorized access to your email accounts.

Without a strict and accurate reject policy, attackers can easily:

  • Spoof customer emails
  • Send convincing phishing messages using your domain
  • Steal data and credentials

what to do with dmarc check

An alarmingly high number of cyber breaches use spoofed domains to help them to trick their victims.

The reason for this update is simple – it is too easy for cybercriminals to impersonate legitimate domains and send us illegitimate emails that appear to be from legitimate businesses.

DMARC compliance provides us with additional proof that the emails we receive are legitimate and will prevent our brands from being hijacked to carry out phishing attacks on our customers and suppliers.

If you’re not sure whether you’re DMARC compliant, we can check for you. DMARC settings are designed to verify sender identity and prevent unauthorized emails from domains from being delivered.

Without a strict and accurate reject policy, attackers can easily spoof customer emails, send convincing phishing messages, and steal data and credentials.

Google and Microsoft will start blocking all non-DMARC emails on the 1st of February to clamp down on threats initially for high-volume email senders, but this is only the first phase, and they will extend the update to cover everyone in the near future.

“We have expertise in resolving email issues and also offer our customers a DMARC report management service.” Get your free DMARC compliance report. 

 

AI Key to be added to Microsoft Keyboard

Microsoft is big into AI. The latest example announced this week is a new key that will be added to its keyboard; the first new addition in 30 years, the AI Key, will give users access to Copilot, the Microsoft AI assistant.

The AI Key to be added to the Microsoft Keyboard is an example of Microsoft’s commitment to AI

In a blog post Microsoft executive vice president Yusuf Mehdi said it was a “transformative” moment and compared it to the addition of the Windows key nearly 30 years ago.

In this example, the addition of the Microsoft new AI key underlines the importance that Microsoft is placing on the development of its AI tools;

Microsoft is, in effect, posting notice of an intent to be at the forefront of the generative AI revolution.

Microsoft Copilot is an AI assistant that helps you work smarter and faster using the power of Artificial Intelligence.

AI can help you with tasks like writing, summarising, creating presentations, hosting webinars, and more. It also provides enterprise-grade security, privacy, compliance, and responsible AI to protect your data.

 Copilot is available in three plans:

Microsoft Copilot AI in Windows: The first example is this free plan allows you to access Copilot on the taskbar or with the Win+C keyboard shortcut. It can answer simple questions and help you with web and mobile Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook versions.

Microsoft Copilot AI key example of their commitment to Artificial Intelligence

Get our White Paper on the adoption of Copilot

Bing Chat Enterprise: This paid plan costs £5 per user per month. It adds commercial data protection to Copilot in Windows, so your chat data is not saved.

Microsoft states it has no eyes-on access, and your data is not used to train the large language models (LLM).

Microsoft 365 Copilot AI: This is the most advanced example that costs £30 per user per month. It builds on Bing Chat Enterprise and includes Microsoft 365 Chat, the new hero experience for Microsoft 365 Copilot.

Copilot will solve your most complex problems at work by using your data —all your emails, meetings, chats, documents, and more, plus the web.

Read our blog post on how to get ready for Copilot

Microsoft Copilot AI is also integrated into the Microsoft 365 Apps that millions use daily—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and more.

The New Years Microsoft AI Revolution

Getting your business and co-workers ready to adopt Microsoft Copilot (AI) assistant involves some advanced preparation and training.

Make Your New Year Microsoft AI Revolution

Beyond the obvious need to make sure your technical environment (See our previous blog on the subject) is up to the task, Copilot artificial intelligence (AI) is a classic example of the adage rubbish in equals rubbish out, so think on.

You might also want to make sure everyone has access to Bing Chat available in Windows 11, your browser and in something of a surprise move from Microsoft Windows 10.

How to frame your queries on Microsoft Copilot.

Getting used to framing your query to Bing chat (assuming, like most of the world, you aren’t lucky enough to have access to Microsoft’s M365 Copilot); in the meantime, get a feel for the ways you can use AI to help with your daily tasks, you’ll soon see why when it’s embedded into your apps it will be a massive boon to your productivity, especially for SME’s.

Tamite Secure IT Microsoft Copilot adoption white paper

Microsoft AI Copilot, M365 Sharepoint security and Copilot go hand in hand

Certainly, a degree in something like philosophy might be a huge advantage as the ability to formulate and refine your queries is the crucial skill you should aim to acquire; technical knowledge is a minimal requirement, so we can say goodbye to the classic image of the IT man with no people skills tomorrow’s technician will need a good line in rhetoric.

Getting the most out of the new generation of AI-driven technology will be more akin to your conversations with Alexa; if you don’t frame the request carefully, you may end up with The Birdy song.

Getting the best answer is a skill you should practice, and the key to success is framing your request correctly.

To create ideal queries for Microsoft Copilot or your chosen AI assistant, you can follow the below steps:

1.      State the goal: Begin by stating the goal of the query clearly and concisely. This will help Copilot understand what you are trying to achieve and provide more accurate suggestions. Incidentally, this stage is often valuable because you must crystalise your thinking on the subject.

2.      Provide context: Provide some context around the data you are working with. This may include information about the tables, columns, and relationships between them. For a more generalised query, Information about the target audience may prove helpful. The more context you provide, the better Microsoft Copilot (AI) will be able to understand your query.

3.      Use comments: Use some comments to provide additional information about the query. This can include information about the logic behind the query, any assumptions you are making, or any constraints that need to be considered; for instance, in this case, I might have commented give me four rules to help create queries for AI assistants.

4.      Iterate: Query design is often an iterative process. Start with a basic query, run it, take a look at the results, fix it, then add more logic, rerun it, and so on. Copilot can help speed up this process by providing suggestions along the way.

Microsoft announce Microsoft AI key will be added to keyboards.

Combatting Holiday Cybercrime with AI: A Seasonal Guide to Stopping Spam Emails

As the festive season approaches, we’re all on high alert for the unwelcome gift of spam emails, social media scams, and romance fraud. Cybercriminals are ramping up their efforts to exploit the holiday cheer. But fear not; the AI revolution in cybersecurity products is our shining star, offering enhanced detection capabilities to shield us from these digital grinches.

This week, digital giants Amazon and Google pledged action on fraud; for the full BBC story, follow this link.

We believe this and other moves by the industry (see yesterday’s blog on the Yahoo and Google DMARC updates) are necessary steps forward; however, continually improving our defences is our focus and the approach we advocate to our customers.

Defending against spam emails and web-based fraud.

We recommend two solutions to our customers, which seem to be leveraging artificial Intelligence to enhance their solutions.

Conceal Browser-based security.

Firstly, Conceal is a lightweight browser add-on. The AI-powered capabilities seamlessly identify and neutralise emerging threats, ensuring comprehensive protection in the ever-evolving cyber landscape.

ConcealBrowse is the answer. It is a lightweight, versatile, and secure browser extension that is meticulously engineered to meet the needs of modern workers.

It serves as your frontline defence, monitoring and detecting potentially harmful URLs to ensure your safety within your organisation’s network. If a website is in doubt, ConcealBrowse uses its isolated and dynamic routing network to safeguard your identity and protect your organisation’s network from potential threats.

 Heimdal®’s Outliers Detection: The AI Guardian Against Email Scams

At the forefront of this battle is Heimdal®, recently unveiled “Outliers Detection,” an AI-driven feature that fortifies its Email Fraud Protection platform. This innovative tool employs anomaly detection and pattern recognition, distinguishing safe correspondence from malicious threats and spam emails with remarkable precision.

The Heimdal® XDR Platform: Vigilant AI-Powered Email Defenses

Outliers Detection is a robust defender against email dangers such as Business Email Compromise (BEC), CEO Fraud, and impersonation attacks. By weaving AI into the fabric of its Email Fraud Protection platform, Heimdal® arms its clients and partners with a proactive and powerful weapon against cybercrime.

spam emails detection

Why Outliers Detection is a Game-Changer

Launching at a critical time when spam emails, email fraud and financial fraud are becoming increasingly complex, outlier detection is a vital tool. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reports staggering losses due to business email compromise, highlighting the urgent need for AI’s predictive prowess in cybersecurity.

The Heimdal® Approach: AI at the Core of Cybersecurity

Valentin Rusu, Ph.D., Head of Artificial Intelligence at Heimdal®, asserts that AI is essential for modern cybersecurity strategies. The old reactive defence models are obsolete; proactive AI-based solutions are the future in our fight against sophisticated cyber threats.