TBG Blog

26Jul

Recently I have had a few instances where a good backup or snapshot saved me or my clients. It got me to thinking, how many people still go with untested or use old technology to backup

their data?

The first instance is someone powered off the SAN and the VMware environment. When it came backup the critical server that was running their business did not boot. They attempted to go back to an early snapshot and it was also corrupted. They were taking hourly snapshots, so the snapshot at 8 am worked and they were back up and running. They were lucky, I think it had been quite some time since they verified their backup and they could have had some large data loss. Make sure you are verifying your backups are working.

The second instance was a SAN where a RAID card corrupted. This took down about 10 servers, most of the servers where redundant elsewhere, but email was down as the redundant copy had an issue. They again where able to restore and have the majority of the environment up and running fairly quickly. They also had 2 different types of backups to go back to.

Both of these cases the clients used very good products that saved them from having data losses among other things. My question, is do you trust your backup? When is the last time you did a restore from your backup system? Do you have more than one method for recovery? Are you still using tape? Do you have a way for fast recovery?

If you cannot answer these questions, you should be worried. They are fundamental items needed for a successful back and recovery in case of a disaster.

We at TBJ provide backup audits and can help with your disaster recovery plans. We can also manage your backups for you. Call me at 262-373-9070.

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13Jul

Approximately 450,000 usernames/emails and passwords were compromised by a hacker using a well known exploit on what appears to be a Yahoo Voice Service web site.

You can easily search to see if you were compromised by going to this website: http://labs.sucuri.net/?yahooleak and entering your Yahoo email address.  If you are part of the leak, you need to immidiately change your password as well as any other accounts which use that password.

Additionally, if you have linked any other emails to that account, you should change those passwords also. This example is why you do not want to share passwords between accounts.

 

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13Jul

I have found that most small business is lax on security and cybercriminals are starting to target them.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, a company Called Lifestyle Forms & Displays Inc. had 1.2 million dollars stolen in a matter of a few hours from online transactions. An interesting static from the Verizon Communications Forensic analysis report is that 72% of the 855 data security breaches that Verizon analyzed had fewer than 100 employees. Another interesting stat is 500 companies of various sizes, 76% of them reported some sort of cyber security incident.

Small Business cannot ignore network security; they are just as targeted and more vulnerable than larger companies their size.

I have listed some steps that every small business owner should consider

  • Purchase a good firewall  with URL filtering and also threat production – Your firewall should      prevent access to spyware and malware sites. It should also review the web traffic and look for suspicious content.
  • Anti-Virus – All Computers   need to make sure that they have an updated Virus scanner that is scanning  the computer for threats

 

  • Dedicate a Computer to online banking. – If you do online banking, have a computer dedicated to  doing only that. Do not use it to browse the internet for research or even  open email on it. It will help from getting garbage on that computer.

 

  • Purchase an Insurance  Policy – Most banks will not cover you for a loss such as this. That is  something that insurance is for. You can purchase polices for computer fraud. They are not cheap, but worth it if you need it.

 

  • Put in controls to     transfer money – If it is a large sum of money being transferred, have some sort of control to transfer it, such as approval from 2 different      people or a phone call form an authorized person.

You should do a review and see if your company is following some of these security best practices.

I do offer some managed security services that can help you prevent a loss such as this. My managed firewall service is like an insurance program. I can help keep the bad guys out and also offer advice on how to better secure your network.  Just send us an email or give us a call.

 

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05Jul

I figured this would be a good topic to discuss as I feel this is a much overlooked subject for most IT organizations and businesses in general.

In fact, the last business that I ran I at times ignored this key element. Why do you ask are they so important?  It is really two main points I am going to highlight below

Standardization

This is really key. Without some sort of process and procedure you are going to get different ways and different results doing tasks. While it is ok to vary how you accomplish the task, the end result should look the same. If you just tell someone to go create a user, it might look different than how you do it or want it done. The person who created it is not wrong; you are for not having a process to follow.

It also makes it much easier to hand off items that you do not want to do anymore. If you document your process, you can hand it off and tell someone to follow it. They might have questions, but it will be fewer questions than if you told them to just do it.

As you grow your business or department, it will become much easier to add professional’s and get them functioning much quicker. It will also cut down on the mistakes they make and how much time it takes to train them.

Getting More Done

Once you write the process, you can hand things ok and focus on more productive items. This will allow you and your business and department to get more done. That will get more off of your plate and on to others plates.

Think about it, how many items are you still doing because you did not document it and hand it off to someone else? Was the reason because you did not want to document it? Trust me, it will take some time upfront to document it, but it will save you time in the long run.

Start embracing Standards and Processes, it will allow you to get more done.

 

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03Jul

Demand for wireless access is expected to soar this year and beyond. Analysts have predicted an increase of 300% in wireless demand in your organization. The question is are you ready for it?

Expanding Your Coverage

Your locations more than likely have some wireless coverage, but they will have a hard time keeping up to the number of devices attempting to connect to them.

Increasing the number of access points and turning the power down on some of the existing access points will provide better overall coverage and also satisfy the new demand. You also need to make sure you design your wireless network for the device types it will service. Wireless VOIP phones have a different coverage model than laptops. They need more access points at less power so they can roam without dropping the call.

If you only have a dozen or so devices two access points should be able to provide adequate coverage for a 1500 to 2000 square foot building.

Access Point Placement

You want to make sure you place your access points carefully. You do not want to mount them on structural metal; it can cause issues with the signal. You also want to make sure that you check the construction of your walls. Some buildings have sand in the walls, which can decrease signal and require additional access points.

Also make sure you leave some extra cable so if you need to move the access point, you can.

Security

Wireless is much less secure than a wired network. Anyone with a device can find your network and attempt to break in. For you private wireless network, use WPA2 Enterprise security. This will require a username and password and not a key that is easily guessed. It also rotates the wireless keys providing another level of security.

At the very least, you should not use WEP as it can be cracked in less than 1 hour in a heavily utilized network.

If you need help with wireless, email us a info@tbjconsulting.com

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28Jun

If you shop online, you want to make sure that you are using a credit card instead of a debit card to protect your bank account from online attacks and scammers.

The advantage your credit card has over your debit card is you only have a $50 loss if it is stolen and most times your insurance or credit card company will cover it. With a debt card the funds come directly out of your bank account. You might have trouble disputing the charges or recoverying the money if you are unhappy with the service. If your card is stolen, you could have your bank account drained before you know it.

1. Use Familiar Websites
Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip off. We all know Amazon.com and that it carries everything under the sun; likewise, just about every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Best Buy to Home Depot. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Yes, the sales on these sites might look enticing, but that’s how they trick you into giving up your info.

2. Look for the Lock
Never ever, ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. It depends on your browser.
Never, ever give anyone your credit card over email. Ever.

3. Don’t Tell All
No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, if crooks get them, combined with your credit card number for purchases, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity. When possible, default to giving up the least amount of information.

4. Check Statements
Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges, even originating from sites like PayPal. (After all, there’s more than one way to get to your money.)
If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems, however; after that, you might be liable for the charges anyway.

5. Inoculate Your PC
Swindlers don’t just sit around waiting for you to give them data; sometimes they give you a little something extra to help things along. You need to protect against malware with regular updates to your anti-virus program. PCMag recommends Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus(4.5 stars, Editors’ Choice, $39.95 direct), which has extras to help fight ID theft, or at the very least the free Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0(4.5 stars, Editors’ Choice).

6. Use Strong Passwords
We like to beat this dead horse about making sure to utilize uncrackable passwords, but it’s never more important than when banking and shopping online. Our tips for creating a unique passwordcan come in handy during a time of year when shopping around probably means creating new accounts on all sorts of e-commerce sites.

7. Think Mobile
The National Retail Federation says that 5.7 percent of adults will use their mobile devices to do comparison shopping before making a purchase. (And 32.1 percent will comparison shop online with a computer, as well.) There’s no real need to be any more nervous about shopping on a mobile device than online. The trick is to use apps provided directly by the retailers, like Amazon, Target, etc. Use the apps to find what you want and then make the purchase directly, without going to the store or the website. (For more complete information, be sure to also read our tips for shopping safely on a mobile device.)

8. Avoid Public Terminals
Hopefully we don’t have to tell you it’s a bad idea to use a public computer to make purchases, but we still will. If you do, just remember to log out every time you use a public terminal, even if you were just checking email.
What about using your own laptop to shop while you’re out? It’s one thing to hand over a credit card to get swiped at the checkout, but when you must enter the number and expiration date on a website while sitting in a public cafe, you’re giving an over-the-shoulder snooper plenty of time to see the goods. At the very least, think like a gangster: Sit in the back, facing the door.

9. Privatize Your Wi-Fi
If you do decide to go out with the laptop to shop, you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection. Only use the wireless if you access the Web over a virtual private network (VPN) connection. If you don’t get one from your employer, you can set up a free one with AnchorFree Hotspot Shield, if you’re willing to put up with the ads, or pay $4.99 a month or $44.99 a year to skip the ads. There’s even an iOS app version of Hotspot Shield, but that will cost you $.99 per month or $9.99 a year after the first seven days.

By the way, now is not a good time to try out a hotspot you’re unfamiliar with. Stick to known networks, even if they’re free, like those found at Starbucks or Barnes & Noble stores that is powered by AT&T. Look for the network named “attwifi,” then open a browser to click into the “walled garden” to get final access. You can also find free Wi-Fi at McDonalds, Panera Bread, and FedEx Office locations, not to mention libraries and local cafes.

10. Count the Cards
Gift cards are the most requested holiday gift every year, and this year will be no exception. Stick to the source when you buy one; scammers like to auction off gift cards on sites like eBay with little or no funds on them.

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26Jun

I have numerous clients that are looking at BYOD, but they don’t have an idea of where to start. I will give you some high level guidelines of what to consider with a BYOD project.

Network Access Control – NAC

The first and foremost thing you need to consider is how are you going to secure your network? Since you are going to have a flood of machines that are not corporate owned or managed, you will want to be sure that you have the ability to place machines on the correct network and also possibly scan them to ensure that they do not have some sort of malware or spyware on them

Wireless

If you do not have wireless deployed today of if it is only in key areas, you might want to consider expanding your wireless access. Most devices they days have wireless built into them. Some such as tablets that is the only way that you are going to connect them. So if you are going to allow tablets and notebooks, you will need to provide wireless

Virtual Desktops/Terminal Services/Citrix

You are going to have to have something for the person to access. One of the easy ways to handle this is to have them access remote desktop or remote applications. This will allow you to deliver the same experience no matter what technology they are using.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

If you are going to have users with devices such as IPADS, Droid devices and smart phones. MDM software will be needed. MDM software will allow you to remotely wipe and also control what is installed on the mobile devices. It will also help you enforce corporate policies while still allowing users to access their own applications.

BYOD is not hard, but you have to make sure you have the correct plan in place…

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19Jun

A new wireless standard should be ratified next year, 802.11 ac. They expect to have chipsets shipping early next year, with the standard ratified at the end of 2013. Some consumer products are already shipping, but they are pre-standard and may not be upgradeable to the released standard.

802.11 ac will have some changes to it. The first change is it will only run in the 5 GHZ spectrum. To get the speed that was needed, they needed to move into that spectrum.  802.11 AC will support over 1 GB when phase 2 of the standard is implemented.

Some things to consider with this new wireless standard. First and foremost, you will need an upgraded wireless card to take advantage of the speed. Experts figure that the IPAD4 will include 802.11 AC support and notebook manufactures will be shipping it next year.

You will have to maintain a dual network to support clients that run in the 2.4 GHZ spectrum. Most of the manufactures will release access points with dual radios in them or you will place 802.11AC in certain locations

Also, to get the full speed, you will need 1 GB uplinks to the Access Points along with power over Ethernet plus. They figure the access points will draw at least 30 watts of power. You will need either Power injectors or a POE+ switch.

Finally, a site survey or redesign of your wireless will more than likely be necessary once 802.11 ac becomes a viable shipping product. Much like in the 2.4 wireless spectrum  channels 1, 6, 11 were not overlapping, it will be the same with 802.11ac they are designing a wider band which will require multiple channels in the 5GHZ spectrum, meaning channel placement is important.  With some Vendors, such as Meru, you do not need to worry about channel placement.

If you are making a wireless decision, make sure you ask about 802.11 AC.

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15Jun

I have been running mostly in the cloud for the past year. I have a few items I did not put in the cloud such as my accounting program and also my quoting system. With my security background, I do not like my books in the cloud and have to depend on someone else to secure them.  My quoting system does not offer a cloud product yet, but if it ever does I would be willing to look at it.

The thing I have found about cloud solutions is they are much easier to manage and allows you to focus on the things that make you successful.  Not all applications make sense to put to the cloud. Next Month I will discuss the different cloud types as you can also have a cloud that is hosted on your own hardware.

Also if you would like a cloud assessment, please contact me at james@tbjconsulting.com

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13Jun

If you shop online, you want to make sure that you are using a credit card instead of a debit card to protect your bank account from online attacks and scammers.

The advantage your credit card has over your debit card is you only have a $50 loss if it is stolen and most times your insurance or credit card company will cover it. With a debt card the funds come directly out of your bank account. You might have trouble disputing the charges or recoverying the money if you are unhappy with the service. If you card is stolen, you could have your bank account drained before you know it.

1. Use Familiar Websites
Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results can be rigged to lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip off. We all know Amazon.com and that it carries everything under the sun; likewise, just about every major retail outlet has an online store, from Target to Best Buy to Home Depot. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example)—those are the oldest tricks in the book. Yes, the sales on these sites might look enticing, but that’s how they trick you into giving up your info.

2. Look for the Lock
Never ever, ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar. It depends on your browser.

Never, ever give anyone your credit card over email. Ever.

3. Don’t Tell All
No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, if crooks get them, combined with your credit card number for purchases, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity. When possible, default to giving up the least amount of information.

4. Check Statements
Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season and look at electronic statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges, even originating from sites like PayPal. (After all, there’s more than one way to get to your money.)

If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems, however; after that, you might be liable for the charges anyway.

5. Inoculate Your PC
Swindlers don’t just sit around waiting for you to give them data; sometimes they give you a little something extra to help things along. You need to protect against malware with regular updates to your anti-virus program. PCMag recommends Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus (4.5 stars, Editors’ Choice, $39.95 direct), which has extras to help fight ID theft, or at the very least the free Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0 (4.5 stars, Editors’ Choice).

6. Use Strong Passwords
We like to beat this dead horse about making sure to utilize uncrackable passwords, but it’s never more important than when banking and shopping online. Our tips for creating a unique password can come in handy during a time of year when shopping around probably means creating new accounts on all sorts of e-commerce sites.

7. Think Mobile
The National Retail Federation says that 5.7 percent of adults will use their mobile devices to do comparison shopping before making a purchase. (And 32.1 percent will comparison shop online with a computer, as well.) There’s no real need to be any more nervous about shopping on a mobile device than online. The trick is to use apps provided directly by the retailers, like Amazon, Target, etc. Use the apps to find what you want and then make the purchase directly, without going to the store or the website. (For more complete information, be sure to also read our tips for shopping safely on a mobile device.)

8. Avoid Public Terminals
Hopefully we don’t have to tell you it’s a bad idea to use a public computer to make purchases, but we still will. If you do, just remember to log out every time you use a public terminal, even if you were just checking email.

What about using your own laptop to shop while you’re out? It’s one thing to hand over a credit card to get swiped at the checkout, but when you must enter the number and expiration date on a website while sitting in a public cafe, you’re giving an over-the-shoulder snooper plenty of time to see the goods. At the very least, think like a gangster: Sit in the back, facing the door.

 

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