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Cybersecurity: Safety and Cost Equilibrium

October 21, 2019 Leave a comment

by Dean Chester

Cybersecurity has been a hot topic for quite a while and it’s not likely to change any time soon.

Equilibrium

“Equilibrium” by Guido Sorarù is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Every new day brings more data breaches and more online scams. No single entity is completely safe, it seems: hackers target both private individuals and companies. The size of an organization doesn’t matter either because the security of even the largest of them such as Yahoo and eBay can become compromised.

Not all cybercriminals are ambitious enough to go after corporate giants. Sadly, some also have smaller businesses covered. And when the security of those gets breached, the losses may look negligible to companies that deal with billions of dollars. For a small, family-run enterprise, such losses often become insurmountable and lead to it going out of business.

One of the main reasons why small companies are such an attractive target for hackers lies exactly in their size. Because of it, these businesses can’t afford to spend a lot of money on their Internet security. They can’t afford large teams of security specialists that – for all the owners know – may never actually prove useful. Obviously, such an idea is wrong, but as long as there are no apparent breaches (which situation can very well be a result of the said specialists’ work), it’s hard for some people to see value in supporting such a team.

It’s possible, of course, to find free or low-cost solutions and to save on one’s cybersecurity. But is it a responsible thing to do?

It’s been said time and again that when something is free, it’s because you are the product. Money spent on providing that free solution must come from somewhere, after all.

There are a few ways in which money can be made off of customers who use free cybersecurity software:

  • They can be shown ads coming from third-party vendors. The frequency of it can vary from “relatively unobtrusive” to “all the time”.
  • Speaking of advertisers, the customers’ private info can be sold to them to expand their bases of people to target. This is especially true for shadier providers of free services such as virtual private networks and the like, that is, services that have access to the users’ Internet activity. The information gathered by such a “free” service can be then used to better understand what ads to show to their client base.
  • As a more extreme example of the above, free users’ Internet bandwidth is known to have been sold to a third party that used it for its own purposes, and those purposes weren’t benign. In fact, they included creating a botnet and conducting DDoS attacks on certain websites.
  • Pestering free users with ads has another purpose as well: it’s easy to get tired of such an inconvenience so much that getting a paid version of the same service will seem like a cheaper option.
  • Related to the last one, free versions of antivirus and other computer security software most often do not have all the features that the paid ones do, making their users consider investing money into them.

Besides that, there are definite concerns about the levels of security and protection that those free solutions can provide. As they are free, it’s somewhat unreasonable to expect them to have the best technology available.

If it’s a private individual we’re talking about, it’s obviously up to them to decide if they want to skimp on their security or not. However, as far as companies are concerned, things are more complicated.

If a business becomes a target of a data breach, it doesn’t only endanger that business. Its clients’ personal data may also be obtained by the perpetrator, and that’s bad news for both the clients and the company’s reputation.

That’s why I don’t think it’s the best decision for a business to rely exclusively on free cybersecurity software. It may be enough to protect it but the chances are not terribly high.

However, the question of money still stands. Yes, in the case of a breach the company is going to lose even more, but it doesn’t make the wherewithal to get professional security tools just magically appear. So what can be done?

  • Reinforcing the weakest link of cybersecurity: to make sure employees won’t click any suspicious links or tell anyone their passwords is supremely important. It can be done by anyone with a good grasp of IT security, really, but ideally, it should be entrusted to professionals.
  • System penetration testing: while it should be performed regularly, it doesn’t require having permanent staff and can be done\by a security company.
  • Getting cybersecurity tools at a discount: almost all major software manufacturers hold a sale from time to time, allowing small businesses to save quite a lot if they’re buying many copies at once.
  • Getting a data breach insurance: if a breach does happen, this can help with covering the losses and subsequent expenses, including those inflicted by reputation damage.

Although finding the balance between security and keeping costs neutral is not an easy task for smaller businesses, it is necessary to take care of it. In the long run, the potential price of negligence is going to be much higher than spending on protection.

Dean Chester is a cybersecurity expert and author. He is absorbed in online security and takes all measures to ensure that non-tech-savvy users can be protected on the Internet.

The Beginners Guide To Understanding Tools Available To You Through AWS

February 27, 2019 Comments off

There are thousands of “How to’s”, and “Basics 101” guides for programmers out there who are interested in learning code and developing skill sets. However, from a business perspective, you don’t want to know the algorithms, and blocks of code. All you want to know is…

Does this help my business become more profitable, right?

Which is perhaps why you are reading up on Amazon Web Services. You know all about the delays between your Developer and Operation teams. You are tired of customers waiting, and the project line falling behind.

Well, the good news is that is exactly what Amazon Web Services is designed to fix. Through this article, we will be going over all the basics you need to know moving forward with your interest in AWS, and Cloud Computing.

What Is AWS In Laymen’s Terms?

To keep things simple, think of AWS as a platform where you can utilize the various services, tools, and advantages the cloud is famous for.

In other words, it’s really just a gigantic bundle of cloud computing services readily available on an easy to use platform.

So, why is it so great? What’s the catch…

Well, some of the major advantages of AWS are:

  • Easy to use
  • Limitless Capacity
  • Provides Speed And Agility For Your Services
  • Secure and reliable platform to work on.

But of course, if there were no downfalls of using AWS it would be to good to be true. If you are seriously considering investing in AWS, it’s important to mention some of the downfalls to be on the lookout for. Including:

  • Limitations of Amazon EC2
  • There is a fee for technical support.
  • General issues known in Cloud Computing
  • There are some limitations on what you can do security wise.

AWS Services Available To Implement

So, Cloud Computing has several elements that can individually be broken down. So, let’s get into it.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Basically, when we break it down this is the technology/computer that we use to host our data. Of course, there are different types available in terms of size and performance. Think of it as renting a server from Amazon on an hourly basis. The two big benefits of investing in this include Auto Scaling to prevent overloads and Elastic Load Balancing.

What Is Auto Scaling?

Every business/service is different. Some may need a ton of space and RAM available to deal with large quantities of traffic. Whereas others will need lower performance computing. Auto Scaling is basically the ability to increase the capacity either up or down depending on your needs.

This helps reduce spikes in performance due to higher traffic while still keeping everything budget friendly to maximize your businesses triple bottom line.

What Is AWS Elastic Load Balancing

When you are trapped under a mountain of work, oftentimes you reach out for help to ensure that everything gets done by the deadline, right?

Well, Elastic Load Shedding is basically the same principle. If one server is overloaded with the traffic coming in, another server will be implemented to keep services running seamlessly.

AWS Identity And Access Management (IAM)

It’s all good to have a secure server where users can do what they want. However, it would be a bit redundant, if not darn right dangerous to not be able to control and set limitations for these users.

Which is where IAM comes into the picture. Think of this as the bodyguard to the entire platform. Using this, you can set levels of permissions. Control different blocks of resources, and so forth.

AWS S3

This service is pretty straightforward. It’s the media center for AWS. Using this tool, we can store images and other similar data. This can also be used to manage and transfer data files between different platforms.

AWS Glacier

AWS Glacier and AWS S3 work in conjunction. Do you know how we always rant on to customers, friends, and even family members about how darn important it is to keep backups of everything? Well, business is no different. Glacier serves as a backup service for all of your data, images, and other business-critical information.

AWS Lambda

Ever wished you had a singular computer for running scripts and a completely different one to see the results and make any necessary tweaks? I bet you have, I know I have.

Well, that’s exactly what Lambda is for. It was designed to solely run scripts and nothing else.

And there you have it. Of course, there are plenty of other tools to list that you get through signing up on AWS. However, these are some of the most critical tools for you to know when looking to invest.

Contributed by Tom English of CloudConformity

SpiceWorld 2018’s Spice Buddies and Cool Vendors (video)

October 17, 2018 Comments off

SpiceWorld 2018Hey frugal networkers, I hope you’re having a great October. Yes, it’s been a while since I posted but that hiatus ends today. I went to SpiceWorld 2018 last week and spoke to a lot of cool people, saw Frank Abagnale speak, and met up with the planet’s coolest vendors. SpiceWorld is the annual tech conference hosted by Austin’s own Spiceworks. If you go to one tech conference per year, this needs to be that one. Check out Spiceworks and its array of free software and awesome community.

This year’s cool vendors are:

I hope you’ll check out my cool vendors list and try out their products and services. I selected from the long list of vendors that attended and thought that these had something special to offer. I love startups and this year, Automox, Backblaze, and Infocyte got my attention. Of course, my “Vendor to Watch” is Pulseway. Trusted Tech Team is an MSP that gets a lot of 5-star reviews. Let me know what you think of my selections.

Thanks to the Spiceworks marketing and executive teams for another great SpiceWorld!

*Disclaimer: I didn’t choose who did the spotlight interviews. The vendors self-selected.

National Geographic Documentary: JANE (Review)

March 10, 2018 Comments off

Jane and HugoJANE
Writer/Director: Brett Morgen
Archival Footage: Hugo van Lawick
Music: Philip Glass
Premiere: Monday, March 12, 2018, 8/7 C National Geographic and NAT GEO WILD.
Length: 90 minutes

I had the rare pleasure of reviewing JANE, the documentary of Jane Goodall by Brett Morgen. Many who’ve seen this multi-award winning doc have called it the “best documentary ever,” which I personally believe is a bit hyperbolic. Don’t get me wrong, JANE is a great documentary and you’ll learn things about Jane Goodall that you never knew before within the opening credits of the film, but the extreme hype might leave you disappointed. It’s a great documentary and is a “must see” because of its historical and scientific importance.

The film documents Jane’s earliest days in Gombe (Tanzania) from 1960 onward. At only 26 years old, Jane begins her highly acclaimed, and somewhat controversial, studies of chimpanzees in their natural surroundings. The documentary was excerpted from more than 100 hours of film stored for 50 years in National Geographic archives.

Much of the documentaries’ never before seen footage was shot by National Geographic filmmaker Hugo van Lawick, who becomes her love interest, husband, and father to her son, Grub. I’ll bet that, like me, you didn’t know any of that about her personal life. As the documentary rolls on, you learn a lot about Jane, her methodology, her love of the chimpanzees, her desire to become a trusted friend to the chimpanzees, and her struggles with life in Gombe.

Many times during the film, my daughter (a huge Jane Goodall fan) and I both exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that!” It’s a wonderful film full of beautiful shots of the Gombe forest, of Jane, and of her work with the chimps.

JANE will educate, entertain, and enlighten those who have even the smallest interest in Jane Goodall and her work.

Accolades to Hugo van Lawick for his excellent film work, his persistence, and his dedication to Jane’s story. Brett Morgen did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Jane, Hugo, and their time in Gombe.

Rating: 10/10

Recommendation: Watch this beautiful documentary.

6 Signs That It’s Time to Upgrade Your PC

January 17, 2018 Comments off

Your computer, no matter how powerful it is right now, will eventually succumb to obsolescence. That’s the natural life cycle of electronics, after all. One day, you’ll want to upgrade your rig – whether piecemeal or complete package – when your current one is inadequate for your needs. So, when is the best time to upgrade your computer? Here are some cautionary signs that signal the right time to do so.

  1. It takes forever to boot up.

Something is generally amiss when your PC is slow at startup. Generally, it’s an issue with too many applications being queued to run at the start. Sometimes, it’s a driver or installation thing that goes away after it’s completed. If it’s not an application or driver issue, as you’ll find out after a clean reformat, then it’s your hardware giving way.

  1. It’s generally slow at everything.

Related to #1, it may be time to upgrade your PC when everything you do is seriously sluggish. Opening your office application is slow as molasses? You can’t play Full HD videos and you’re experiencing stuttering during playback? When you launch your favorite game, it stays on the loading screen forever? A clean reformat or some cleaning and driver upgrading might do the trick and fix these problems. However, if they linger afterward, it’s time to upgrade your rig.

  1. Your storage is maxed out.

You can’t download new 1080p videos to your hard drive anymore. You can’t install new applications and games because you lack disk space. It’s high time you get new hardware then. If you’re lucky enough, you can install a new storage drive or two on your PC, if your hardware can still handle it. Another alternative would be to invest in portable hard drives, though, they’re typically more expensive than regular drives.

  1. You can’t play the latest games.

If you can’t play the latest and greatest games at the most minimum recommended specs, you’re badly in need of upgrades. At that point, given how dated your computer is, you’re better off building a new gaming rig. Rather than work with old, dated parts which may or may not be funky after years of wear and tear, it’s best to go all new for maximum compatibility and durability.

  1. You can’t install anything anymore.

It’s bad when you can’t install the latest version of your operating system. Sure, you can still run your rig with older drivers and applications. You can still play certain games with it. However, if you need the most updated software and want to play the newest titles, you’ll want a new computer with the recommended specs.

  1. You spend most of your time fixing it.

Whenever you do video editing, your PC crashes while you’re rendering. A graphically-intensive scene in your favorite game bluescreens your PC and forcibly restarts it. Your rig experiences random reboots for no discernable reason. Despite all your maintenance and spring cleaning, it’s still on the fritz. You’ve spent countless hours testing and gauging your hardware’s reliability, and yet you still haven’t found a solution. It’s time to move on.

How To Take Proper Care of Your iPad

December 6, 2017 Comments off

iPad in useArticle contributed by Tara Desquitado.

Like most gadgets, your iPad needs to be taken care of to keep it running well. Although it does not require as much care as a laptop or desktop, it still needs a little bit of maintenance. In this article, we have listed down ways for you to take proper care of your iPad and keep it in check so that it can be of use to you for as long as it can.

Don’t leave it charging
You shouldn’t be leaving your iPad to charge all day and night. Overcharging it will only reduce its battery life. Avoid completely draining its battery as well. It’s best to let the battery down to 5% or less and then plug it in to charge. To help get the most out of your iPad’s battery life, you should also shut it down every now and then. Powering it down once a week can help extend its life.

Keep iOS Updated
Updating your iPad not only gives it more features, it also downloads the latest security updates too. Since iOS products are becoming more ubiquitous, there has been an increase in malware directed to target it. Updating your iPad equips it with better defenses. It also fixes old bugs found in the previous versions, making your iPad to run more effectively.

Add a passcode
Keeping your iPad secure from others is very important. Others may reconfigure its settings or come across personal or sensitive information. Adding a passcode can remedy this. It allows you to leave your iPad without having to worry about someone using it without your permission. If you can, you should also add biometric protection to your iPad. This ensures its security to privacy even more.

Use a screen protector
Although an iPad’s screen is made of a relatively durable material, it is the area of the iPad that is most likely to get damaged first since it receives the most contact. Using a screen protector is one way to safeguard your iPad’s screen from unwanted scratches and cracks. Make sure to apply it after its screen has been thoroughly cleaned as well. It is best to apply the screen after washing your hands so that oils will not end up on the screen when the protector is being placed.

Use a protective case
Since the iPad is designed to be extremely thin, a simple accidental drop may severely damage it. The best preventive measure is to suit it up with a protective case. There is a great selection of iPad cases to choose from. It is suggested to pick one that is made of durable material and fits the iPad’s form. Avoid loose-fitting cases as they are usually used for aesthetic purposes and provide little protection for the iPad.

Conclusion
Maintaining your iPad isn’t a process that falls under a long and tedious checklist. All you have to know is the hazards that are most likely to damage it and keep it away from those. Make sure you keep it protected, avoid overcharging it, keep it away from moisture and extreme temperatures and you’re good to go. Make it a point to clean it every now and then when you can find the time to do so as well and you’ll have your iPad running smoothly and effectively.

Be sure to visit macfixit.com.au for all your favorite Apple and Apple-compatible products and accessories.

DH2i CEO Don Boxley announces a new DxEnterprise (Podcast)

September 20, 2017 Comments off

DH2iDH2i CEO and co-founder Don Boxley and I had a good discussion about the new version (v17) of DxEnterprise. Don explains that this major upgrade is something you’ll want if you’re a current DxEnterprise user and something you want to consider if you’re not. DxEnterprise is a multi-platform, smart availability platform for your virtual machines. If you want to know what smart availability is and all of version 17’s new enterprise features are, listen to the podcast. Technical folks will love the new platform and its extreme availability features. I have to say that I’m impressed and if you know me, you know that’s not an easy thing to do.

Don Boxley, DH2i CEO and Co-founderThe new version gives you Linux, Windows, and Docker smart availability with reduced complexity. Business continuity, as we say in the podcast, is an essential feature of any service these days and that’s exactly what you’ll get with DxEnterprise v.17.

From a system administrator point-of-view, I can live with less complexity, more uptime, greater flexibility, and broader support for my enterprise systems.

Podcast details:

Length: 32:45 mins. Format: MP3. Rating: G for all audiences.

Thanks and apologies to both Don and Nicole for being very flexible and accommodating for this interview and subsequent posting.

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