We recently discussed the aspect of branding and how the AMS Connect software can help you establish and present your brand through our customized extranet site, resulting in the successful management of your business and providing a connection with your clients that is uniquely yours. Not only is the AMS Connect software completely brandable and customizable in this regard, it also allows you the opportunity to develop solid relationships with your clients and customers.
Strong client connections mean security. AMS Connect understands the need for your customers to feel like their data is safeguarded and protected by you. From an end-user perspective, your customers can relax feeling that when they retrieve or upload documents, or work on tasks utilizing our project management feature, they have never left software outside of the control of your organization.
This brandable and customizable aspect of our software provides you with a site that is under your complete control. From login credentials to the look and usability of the site, you can be the administrator of your own site. Unlike many file and collaboration sites, AMS Connect is branded to you rather than branded to whoever the site provider is. AMS Connect also gives you full power to manage the site rather than handing over risky security protocols to a faceless organization with unreadable end-user agreements.
AMS Connect’s top priority is your data security as well as the reliability of your customized site. All of this provides your clients with the security of knowing that you are working directly with them rather than with or through an unknown or potentially risky document sharing space.
Contact us today to see how our truly secure and customizable collaboration can help build your brand and relationship with your clients.
We are listening to you and regularly updating our secure extranet software accordingly. Our goal is to provide our customers the most secure, flexible and usable extranet software in the market. As part of this goal we are always looking for ways to improve not only the stability and security of the software but also the end-user experience. To that end we are in the final stages of beta testing of our latest version of the AMS Connect software. Listed below are some of the major enhancements you can expect to see once you upgrade your site to version 6.7.
- Drag and drop functionality – This functionality now allows for files to be dragged onto folders or document lists, or within the Add document screen for upload. From Add document, dropped files can also be removed before submitting to remove any inadvertently added.
- Additional “Display as” options – You are now able to select “Secure PDF” and “Image” within the document profile.
- Secure PDF option will allow the owner to apply a password to any document that can be converted to PDF (password will be available to users viewing the document).
- Image option will render the Document as a paged set of images for end users with limited permissions. This feature is an improvement over the former security of Adobe “FlashPaper” and will prevent downloading or copying the text from the document.
- Document Expiration Date – you now have an optional Retention setting (depending on your Workspace Preference setting) that would allow document to be automatically deleted from the system when that date elapses. Once your workspace is set up you can now select “Document Expires” with a “Document Expiration Date”.
In addition to the above enhancements, AMS Collaborator will be adding a complete update to the notes and discussion features within the AMS Connect software. Final testing and verification are expected to be completed by February 2017.
AMS Collaborator has scheduled two live demos for the new features at 9:00 AM Pacific Time on Tuesday January 17th and Thursday January 19th. The live demo is anticipated to take approximately 15 minutes. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join one of our demos.
Don’t forget to contact AMS Collaborator to schedule your AMS Connect site for upgrade.
Flexible security almost sounds like an oxymoron. How can you provide the flexibility you need while maintaining security? In our blog post on 10/14/16 (The Balancing Act of Security), we discussed the need to balance security with the usability of software. AMS Connect is designed to be flexible enough to adapt to your individual security needs; we offer a variety of features that you can adapt to your specific requirements.
- Dual-Factor Authentication – This feature, when turned on, requires users to verify their identity through a unique code sent via text or email. This feature can also remember (if enabled and the user selects it) a particular computer/browser so that the user only has to authentic once for a designated time frame.
- Granular Security – Since its inception, AMS Connect was designed to provide security down to the individual item. Meaning that in order for a user to access a specific item in the software, they have to be granted access. Additionally, if the user doesn’t have any permissions to an item (even a matter/workspace) the user won’t be able to see the item. This is perhaps the main feature (in addition to custom branding) that makes AMS Connect stand alone, very few if any SaaS collaboration solutions offer this kind of security.
- Groups – To ease the setup of new users, an administrator can create a group for each matter. For example, under Client A’s workspace you can have a group called “Firm” for those within your organization, a group called Client A Executives for the executives who need high level access to their information, and a group called Client A Admin for the administrative team at Client A.
- Password Rules – The AMS Connect software allows administrators to set up customized password rules. Do you want a simple 4-digit pin or do you want a 20 character, upper case letter, lower case letter, special character, etc.? AMS Connect can match to your password requirements, even setting password expiration and preventing repeat passwords (up to a number of your choosing). Additionally, AMS Connect allows you to set your account lockout fail number (e.g. user inputs wrong password three times, the account is locked).
- Password Forget – In the event you have users that have a tendency to forget their password, you can turn on a feature that allows the user to have their password reset automatically. The user simply clicks on forget password and inputs their email address (the one in the AMS Connect System) and their user id. An email is generated to the user with password reset instructions.
There are many other features that are customizable as related to security. If you need to step up to the best and most flexible security contact us today.
Intranets are designed to be secure from the outside world, but rarely offer any differentiating security once inside since they are designed for sharing information. An extranet though, is designed explicitly for sharing information with others outside the organization. These could be clients, business partners, shareholders, key vendors, or any other entity where secure communication is required. Because the audience may widely vary, the ability to securely manage the content on a granular and role-based level is critical. For example, an executive may want to manage content that a business partner can view, but the business partner should not have rights to make changes to that content.
As software continues to become more sophisticated, the lines between these two begin to blur. Software packages that began as intranet solutions now provide limited extranet functionality; some major Document Management Systems fall into this category, as does Microsoft SharePoint*. However, there are some major considerations that need to be looked at before using an intranet tool to provide access to outside users:
- First, and perhaps the most important, is that as an intranet solution, these software packages reside within your local network. In order to share information with outside users, access to the local network must be granted.
- Second, the management for intranet solutions assumes security is based on the network. This means that even if external access is possible, it either means adding external users to your local network — with all the security concerns that implies — or bolting on some form of external user management tool along with the extra management and configuration that it requires.
- Third, the management and configuration of an intranet solution often depends on server administration rights and tools. For example, to create portals in SharePoint*, a network administrator must login to the server and create the portal, configure and customize it for the specific users, then assign it to the user to manage the content.
Extranet systems on the other hand, are designed from the ground up for external access:
- User management and configuration is integrated and not dependent on any external system.
- Configuration and management is designed to be performed from within the software, eliminating the dependency on network administrators and complex network authentication requirements.
- Finally, the extranet solution can be hosted completely outside the company network, eliminating many of the security concerns raised with a locally hosted application.
Picking a solution
Intranet and extranet solutions both provide invaluable services that can be used by virtually any organization — particularly as security and access control concerns have increased in the last few years. However, it is also important to understand the distinctions between these two solutions, and the strengths and weaknesses each provides. For local access with tight integration with network security, an intranet is the best option. For securely sharing and controlling access to data with outside users (whether business partners, vendors, or clients), a dedicated extranet solution is a better choice than opening your network to outside access.
*Microsoft and SharePoint are Registered Trademarks of Microsoft Corporation
Ask this question, “Where does my file go?” Can the provider provide an audit trail—not just to the individuals with whom you have chosen to share your file, but perhaps more importantly, individuals and organizations you have not chosen to share with. When a file is deleted, is it gone? What surprises may be found six months from now—or six years? Even if the file is not directly shared, what about the content? Providers routinely scrape file content so that full-text searching can be performed. But other purposes can be applied to that scraped content as well: tagging and matching files, recommendations to related services (advertising), and even notifications.
For most service providers, file sharing and collaboration is nothing more than a commodity service. Accessibility trumps security. It is easier to answer the question, “Can I access I my files?” than it is to ask the question, “Who else can access my files?” If the provider cannot or will not answer that second question, then seriously consider what information you are willing to post.
Articles are becoming increasingly common raising this question. Virtually all of the major providers have undergone some form of review and critique. With a commodity service, agreements are limited and often in the favor of the service provider. Some providers have admitted to back-end sharing of data. Some scan the content of all files posted to provide additional services such as directed advertisements and connecting interested parties.
Any service provider that offers “free” or “freemium” service is likely making up the cost through one of these methods. Careful review of the service agreement often demonstrates exactly what rights to security and privacy the end-user is giving up when posting content to these providers.