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Volume 27, Issue 4

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Jon Seals

Friday, 19 December 2014 00:00

2014: The Perfect Malware Storm

IT security may be an MSP’s core offering or one of several lines of business. But regardless of its business model, a service provider should take stock of the current threat landscape. MSPs need to know what’s out there if they hope to help clients mitigate their security risks.

What are your customers up against? In 2014, they endured the perfect malware storm. Consider the following:

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http://mspmentor.net/blog/2014-perfect-malware-storm

Friday, 19 December 2014 00:00

How to Turn Open Data into Real Money

I recently interviewed a technology start-up that claimed they were already profitable, with only a few clients and a few months out the door. I have no way to verify or deny that, but I can tell you this: The entire product is built around open data.

In fact, its founders adamantly refused to let me call it a technology company, which is just one of many reasons I’m not revealing its name.

“Our product is the data,” one VP repeatedly told me.

That’s a bit of a bold claim for a company based on government-released data and other open data sets. If it were really the data, and everybody has access to the data, then what’s the point?

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/how-to-turn-open-data-into-real-money.html

Security pros got the Target breach for Christmas last year. The breach hit the retailer during its busiest time of the year and cost them millions in lost business. For security pros desperate for more budget and business prioritization, you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect present - it’s as is if Santa himself came down the chimney and placed a beautifully wrapped gift box topped with a bow right under your own tree. This year it looked as if all we were getting was a lump of coal - but then Sony swooped in to save us like a Grinch realizing the true meaning of Christmas.
 
The Sony Picture Entertainment (SPE) breach is still unfolding, but what we know so far is that a hacktivist group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace (GoP) attacked Sony in retribution for the production of a movie, “The Interview,” which uses the planned assassination of North Korea’s leader as comedic fodder. The hacktivists supposedly stole 100 TBs of data that they are gleefully leaking bit by bit (imagine Jingle Bells as the soundtrack). The attack itself affected the availability of SPE’s IT infrastructure, forcing the company to halt production on several movies.
 
We’ll be releasing a more detailed analysis for clients later this afternoon, but at a high level, there are several reasons why this attack is in the news every day, why it will prove to be yet another turning point in the security industry, and why security is so integral to the business technology (BT) agenda:
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(TNS) — Think the Napa fault stopped moving after producing a 6.0 earthquake in August? Think again.

The fault that caused that Napa quake is forecast to move an additional 2 to 6 inches in the next three years in a hard-hit residential area, a top federal scientist said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco on Tuesday.

It is the first time scientists have formally forecast the gradual shifting of the ground in a residential area after an earthquake.

“Until the South Napa earthquake happened, we had not clearly foreseen just what a problem that could be,” U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Ken Hudnut said.

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http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/After-Big-Quake-Napa-Calif-Fault-Could-Move.html

It is fascinating to watch a new class of software be born. This doesn’t seem to happen that often anymore, but every once in a while a customer or a vendor discovers a gap in the current offerings and fills that gap with something we have never seen before. I recently ran into an event like this at BMC Engage. BMC has a write-up that subtly points to the impending creation of this new security automation product class. And last week, I spoke to Tony Stevens, who works for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget at the State of Michigan and is helping husband the birth of this class. Let’s talk about that this week.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/unfiltered-opinion/bmc-and-heartbleed-create-new-securityops-software-class.html

Have you ever thought about all the information your appliances tell you? The world is moving toward presenting instant data about every aspect of life. For example, there is now an electric toothbrush with Bluetooth capabilities that can record your brush strokes and let you chart your dental hygiene activities on a smartphone app. Home sensor products not only tell you if your teenager is trying to sneak out at night, but also how many times someone has been dipping into the cookie jar. And many of us can’t even exercise anymore without a fitness band and apps that record every step, every calorie expended, and every turn in our sleep.

While some of that real-time data is great to have, we’re also reaching a point of TMI … “too much information,” or data overload. How much is too much real-time data? Only you can answer that for your personal data needs, but I do know there is one area where there is never enough real-time data. That is in your company’s disaster recovery plan.

Think about a disaster striking your business. You could have all your subject matter experts in place, but if they can’t access data or if your recovery strategy isn’t complete, nothing will work. The consequences could be nothing short of catastrophic: for the vast majority of companies, once they have to shut down because of server problems or another disaster, they aren’t able to recover in a timely fashion. And let’s face it … a faltering or incomplete recovery can spell death for a business.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/sungardas/2014/12/18/theres-no-such-thing-as-tmi-too-much-information-when-it-comes-to-disaster-recovery-dr/

To customers, the cloud often seems like an ideally flexible application and data storage solution. On the other hand, starting as a cloud provider often requires very deep pockets. As a result, not every provider stays the course. And if under-capitalisation doesn’t kill a provider off, there is always the danger of a marketing failure that persuades backers to pull the plug. The irony of the situation is that many customers want to make their cloud provider a strategic part of their disaster planning. However, customers must then also extend their plan to include the possibility that the provider itself is the disaster.

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http://www.opscentre.com.au/blog/what-happens-when-your-cloud-provider-goes-out-of-business/

Thursday, 18 December 2014 00:00

Even in the Cloud B&R Still Needs TLC

Data is the lifeblood of the modern enterprise, and as with most complex organisms, loss of blood can lead to weakness and death.

So it is no wonder that data recovery has emerged as a top priority as the enterprise finds itself trusting third-party providers for the care and maintenance of their lifeblood to an ever greater degree.

According to Veeam Software, application and data downtime is costing the average enterprise about $2 million per year, with the vast majority of that cost attributed to the failure to recover data in a reasonable amount of time. This usually presents a double-edged sword for IT, though, as the pressure to improve recovery times is often accompanied by the reluctance of the front office to invest in adequate backup and recovery (B&R) infrastructure. This also affects permanent data loss, as many organizations maintain backup windows and restore points that fail to account for the massive accumulation of potentially critical data in a relatively short time.

The cloud has done a lot to relieve the burden, financial and otherwise, of wide-scale B&R. In fact, this is one of the primary drivers of IaaS, according to ResearchandMarkets, in that it provides a ready platform to not only integrate backed-up data into dynamic production environments, but to maintain a duplicate IT infrastructure should primary resources go dark. IaaS also puts these capabilities within reach of the small-to-midsize enterprise.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/infrastructure/even-in-the-cloud-br-still-needs-tlc.html

Thursday, 18 December 2014 00:00

It’s 2015 – Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

The “Internet of Things” will take further hold and become more fully embedded as a reality in our society. However, a tipping point is likely to be reached in 2015 as public awareness of the potential for these technologies to violate personal privacy increases. This will lead to an associated public outcry for stricter controls and government legislation regarding how people, organizations and government collect and use this information. The public will no longer be satisfied to leave technology companies and users to self-police their uses of their personal data.

Surveillance and other technologies that permit the collection of data about people will continue to proliferate. Analytical tools are emerging to interpret this information, and to merge and use it in an increasingly integrated fashion to permit continuous monitoring of locational and other information about specific people and groups. Drones that are freely available in the open marketplace can be programmed to follow people and objects using GSM and other technologies as tracking beacons. Miniature homing devices that will facilitate tracking of locational information of objects and people are also freely available. Phone companies routinely collect data from everyone making cell calls on their networks. Because many phones have chips that stay on even after a battery has been removed, tracking powered-down phones is within the realm of possibility.

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http://blog.cutter.com/2014/12/17/its-2015-do-you-know-where-your-data-is/

VMware predicted software-defined data centers (SDDC) would “hit it big” in 2013. Spoiler: That didn’t happen.

Nonetheless, the concept hasn’t gone away. In fact, IT Business Edge’s Infrastructure blogger, Arthur Cole, wrote about SDCCs several times this year, including a November article in which he called the idea “a work in progress.” He did a great job of summing up SDCCs and the current opinion of them.

Still, it begs the question: Could 2015 be the year that SDCCs actually, finally, take off? Michael Hay thinks so.

Hay is the vice president of Product Planning at Hitachi Data Systems and chief engineer for the Information Technology Platform Division (ITPD). In a recent Information Week column, Hay predicted that SDCCs will be one of three disruptive trends in the coming year.

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http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/integration/managing-the-data-in-software-defined-data-centers.html