31 Oct

Cisco Introduces AI Services

Modern IT systems are generating more data than ever before, and humans can’t keep up. Thankfully, certain tasks have already been offloaded to machines. Even better, Cisco may have a long-term solution to IT management complexities.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are extremely useful in helping us sift through massive amounts of information, and networking behemoth Cisco recently announced that they will be incorporating these technologies with two of their services.

 

Business Critical Services

 

This suite of services uses AI-powered automation, compliance, security, and machine learning analytics tools to reduce the complexity of IT systems management. It helps monitor the health of your business services and mitigate risks via automated compliance and remediation audits.

You can also replicate your network to improve reliability between your hardware and software components, and deploy features with automation capabilities.

 

Cisco High Value Services

 

This product support model provides network, software, and solution support using advanced analytics and best practices to access infrastructure performance and remediate issues. Cisco aims to improve business continuity and reduce resource constraints with remote monitoring, automated incident detection, and high SLAs.

Some of the services you can expect include software analysis, workflow integration, customer benchmarking, and predictive network analysis.

Using cutting-edge technologies as well as networking and hardware expertise, Cisco is gearing up its attempt to predict IT failures before they happen. That said, we assume it’s only a matter of time before other major developers follow suit, and when they do, you’ll be the first to know.

 

If you’d like to learn more about how to predict IT failures before they happen, or stay protected and operational when they do, just give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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14 Nov

CryptoWall: A Serious Security Threat

Last year saw a number of highly publicized security threats that many companies struggled to deal with. One of those was a nasty bit of malware called Cryptolocker, which held your files for ransom. While this has now largely been dealt with, news is surfacing of a second version – called CryptoWall – that has begun to infect users.

What is Crypto malware?

Crypto malware is a type of trojan horse that when installed onto computers or devices, holds the data and system hostage. This is done by locking valuable or important files with a strong encryption. You then receive a pop-up informing you that you have a set amount of time to pay for a key which will unlock the encryption. If you don’t pay before the deadline, your files are deleted.

When this malware surfaced last year, many users were understandably concerned and took strong precautions to ensure they did not get infected. Despite these efforts, it was not dealt with until this year, when security experts introduced a number of online portals that can un-encrypt files affected by Cryptolocker, essentially neutralizing the threat. Case closed? Not exactly. A recently updated version is threatening users once again.

Cryptolocker 2.0, aka. CryptoWall

Because of efforts by security firms to neutralize the Cryptolocker threat, the various developers of the malware have come back with an improved version, CryptoWall, and it is a threat of which everyone should be aware.

With CryptoWall, the transmission and infection methods remain the same as they did with the first version: It is most commonly found in zipped folders and PDF files sent over email. Most emails with the malware are disguised as invoices, bills, complaints, and other business messages that users are likely to open.

The developers did make some “improvements” to the malware that make it more difficult to deal with for most users. These changes include:

•Unique IDs are used for payment. These are addresses used to verify that the payment is unique and from one person only. If the address is used by another user, payment will now be rejected. This is different from the first version where one person who paid could share the unlock code with other infected users.

•CryptoWall can securely delete files: In the older version of this threat, files were deleted if the ransom was not paid, but they could still be recovered with some effort. In the new version the encryption has increased security which ensures the file is deleted. This leaves you with either the option of paying the ransom or retrieving the file from a backup.

•Payment servers cannot be blocked. With CryptoLocker, when authorities and security experts found the addresses of the servers that accepted payments they were able to add these to blacklists, thus ensuring no traffic would come from, or go to, these servers again. Essentially, this made it impossible for the malware to actually work. Now, it has been found that the developers are using their own servers and gateways which essentially makes them exponentially more difficult to find and ban.

How do I prevent my systems and devices from being infected?

Unlike other viruses and malware, CryptoWall does not go after passwords or account names, so the usual changing of your passwords won’t really help. The best ways to prevent this from getting onto your systems is:

•Do not open any suspicious attachments – Look at each and every email attachment that comes into your inbox. If you spot anything that looks odd, such as say a spelling mistake in the name, or a long string of characters together, then it is best to avoid opening it.

•Do not open emails from unknown sources – Be extra careful about emails from unknown sources, especially ones that say they provide business oriented information e.g., bank statements from banks you don’t have an account with or bills from a utilities company you do not use. Chances are high that they contain some form of malware. Even if the email appears to be from a company with whom you have dealings, it is best to simply access the account in question to check your messages or to call the company directly to check the validity of the email.

Should your files be attacked and encrypted by this malware, the first thing you should do is to contact us (EIT Networks). We can work with you to help find a solution that may keep you from having to pay the ransom to recover your files. CryptoWall may be incredibly difficult to deal with, but do not try to fight it alone.

If you are looking to learn more about CryptoWall malware and how to boost your security to protect your data and systems, contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net. We could be your first line of defense against this dangerous threat.

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31 Oct

Ten Cloud Terms Defined

When looking at cloud solutions, or deciding which cloud service to integrate into business operations, you will often come across a wide variety of terms that can be confusing. This is especially true when talking to some IT experts. To help make things easier, here are some simple definitions for 10 commonly used cloud terms.

1. Cloud app

A cloud app, or cloud application, is any application that is supported by a cloud service, or is accessed over the Internet. The key difference from other apps is that the vast majority of cloud apps are not installed on a device, rather they are accessed via a Web browser.

Some mobile apps are cloud-based, whereby an app is installed on the device and allows you to access data that is stored in the cloud.

2. Cloud burst

Cloud burst is a term used to reference a specific setup that many companies employ. Essentially, this is the idea of implementing a private cloud solution that provides for most usage requirements. When demand exceeds capacity, the company can integrate a public solution to cover the excess demand thereby “bursting” into another cloud.

A good example of this is when a company uses a private cloud solution to store data. When the threshold for maximum data storage is reached, they can implement a public cloud solution to increase overall storage. All essential information stays in a private cloud, while non-essential information is moved to the public cloud.

3. Cloud

The cloud is any service or solution that is delivered to a user via their Internet or network connection. To many, this term has come to be associated with the Internet.

4. Cloud management

Cloud management is often used to refer to a set of software or administrative panels that are specifically designed to allow business managers, owners, and IT teams to monitor and manage their cloud-based solutions. This often includes data, applications, and cloud services.

These tools are of strategic importance because they help to ensure that your cloud resources are functioning optimally and that users are able to interact with them properly. They also allow you to audit who has access to what and even add new accounts when needed.

5. Cloud provisioning

Cloud provisioning is the actual deployment of a cloud strategy. This often includes the selection of solutions and then which data and solutions will reside on either public or private clouds. Services are then deployed and data is migrated, usually with the help of an IT partner.

During the provisioning process, IT partners will also take the time to develop processes regarding how you will interface with the cloud solutions you will be implementing and set who has access to solutions.

6. Cloud storming

Cloud storming is the act of connecting multiple cloud services into a useable platform for your business. Some companies also use this term to refer to the idea of brainstorming about the cloud and how to use, or implement, it in daily operations.

A good example of cloud storming is where a company implements a cloud-based CRM solution from one provider, a cloud-based productivity suite, and cloud-based email at roughly the same time in order to better support operations while reducing operating costs.

8. Public cloud

Public cloud services and solutions are just that: public. They are available for any person or company to purchase or subscribe to and implement. With these services, all data or apps are hosted outside of the company and accessed over the usual Internet connections.

Public cloud services are usually the most common type of cloud implemented by companies who are first moving over to the cloud.

8. Private cloud

A private cloud is any cloud solution that is hosted by a company’s own resources. This could be on servers kept on-site, or rented servers that are then configured so that the solution is only available to the company, not the public.

While mainly large companies will employ private clouds, smaller companies looking for a niche cloud solution are starting to implement these as well.

9. Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud is a solution implemented by companies that has elements of both public and private cloud solutions. Essential data or business processes are hosted or delivered by a company’s own cloud service, while less essential services are delivered by public clouds.

Many larger companies employ this model of cloud computing for data storage as it allows them greater control over where their data is being stored, while ensuring that essential or highly regulated data can be stored in a secure manner; managed by the company.

10. Cloud portability

This is the level at which data maintained or stored in one cloud service can be moved to another. It is also used by experts when moving whole systems, such as apps, from one provider to another. If the overall portability is low, then it will be difficult for the user to move either apps or data from that provider.

Another similar term used by experts is ‘Vendor lock-in’, which is used to describe a dependency on a certain cloud provider and the general difficulty of moving away from this provider due to lack of other solutions or mechanisms that enable transfer. For many companies, it is a good idea to look for a provider that won’t lock you into their cloud, or at the very least offers some portability options.

If you want to know more about how the cloud can benefit your business then connect with us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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21 Nov
06 Jan

Unsend Emails Sent Using Gmail

Have you ever sent an email and then immediately regretted sending it? If you are using Gmail as your mail client, you can do just that with an interesting but buried option in Gmail settings.

To enable this feature, go to Mail Settings in Gmail (upper right corner, under the gear icon). Navigate to the “Labs” tab. In the labs search box, look for “Undo Send” and choose Enable, then save. Now in Mail Settings you will see an option to “Undo Send: Send cancellation period: __ seconds.” Enter the number of seconds that Gmail will allow you to change your mind in the future (try 10 seconds).

With this enabled, the next time you send an email, you’ll be able to “Cancel” it from being sent out, as long as it is within the time frame you specified.

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26 Oct

Conduct Yourself Properly Online

If you are thinking about posting those wild pictures from the office booze cruiseyou may want to think twice. In today’s increasingly hyper-connected world, you never know how long those images will be online, who can see them, and where they may end up. It therefore becomes increasingly important to be smart about exactly what and how much you post online. After all, what you put up in cyberspace today may come back to haunt you later on.

There is no denying that the Internet (and especially online social media such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter) has brought about great change in people’s behaviormany of them for the better. These tools have allowed easier information sharing, greater collaboration, and the fostering of communities like never before. However, these tools also have a darker side, and if not used properly they can be a source of problems for you or your organization later on.

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