Category Archives: Technology News

IT Disaster Recovery and Tech Trends

 

As we’ve seen in recent years, natural disasters can lead to long-term downtime for organizations. Because earthquakes, hurricanes, snow storms, or other events can put data centers and other corporate facilities out of commission for a while, it’s vital that companies have in place a comprehensive disaster recovery plan.

Disaster recovery (DR) is a subset of business continuity (BC), and like BC, it’s being influenced by some of the key trends in the IT industry, foremost among them:

  • Cloud services
  • Server and desktop virtualization
  • The proliferation of mobile devices in the workforce
  • The growing popularity of social networking as a business tool

These trends are forcing many organizations to rethink how they plan, test, and execute their DR strategies. CSO previously looked at how these trends are specifically affecting IT business continuity; as with BC, much of the impact they are having on DR is for the better. Still, IT and security executives need to consider how these developments can best be leveraged so that they improve, rather than complicate, DR efforts.

Source: 4 tech trends in IT disaster recovery | Data Center – InfoWorld.

Head over to the source and see how IT disaster recovery is being impacted by each of the four.

 

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Hacking – The Card Game

 

An interesting and fun way to teach ethical hacking.

Control-Alt-Hack is based on Steve Jackson Games’ Ninja Burger, but from the characters to the mission cards to the entropy cards, the demystification of white hat computer security is the name of this game. Game co-designer, security researcher, and University of Washington Computer Security and Privacy Research Lab honorary member Adam Shostack said at the Black Hat 2012 confab here that when it comes to teaching ethical hacking, also known as white hat hacking, not enough educators “use carrots, not sticks.”

“Humor creates an open atmosphere,” that helps break down the shyness of learning, he said during the conference session about the game. He explained that people are more likely to ask questions about things that they think they should’ve already learned if it’s part of a game.

Games, he noted, have a spectrum from being as easy to learn as Go or dice games, all the way through Dungeons and Dragons or Settlers of Catan. Choosing a game to base Control-Alt-Hack on that involved humor and a bit of complexity would help keep the subject matter interesting for the target audience of teens and young adults.

In Control-Alt-Hack, you work as a researcher for a computer security company that gets hired to stress-test other companies. The deck of 156 cards includes 16 “person” cards to give you an identity during the game. The characters were given realistic traits, so there are no stereotypes of the obese, unkempt researcher covered in potato chip debris and pizza grease. Instead, you can play as one of eight men or eight women who have interests as varied as martial arts or rock climbing, and all are snazzily dressed in their artwork.

Source: Hacking, the card game, debuts at Black Hat | Security & Privacy – CNET News.

Look for it on store shelves later this year.

 

“Consumers backing up information more frequently”

 

Do you backup your data on a regular basis?

A new survey from a leading online backup provider found that PC and Mac users are backing up sensitive files and documents more regularly than they have in the past. Approximately 10 percent of computer users now back up their systems daily, compared to only 6 percent in 2011.

“These are the best results we’ve seen since we started tracking data backup five years ago,” online backup expert Gleb Budman said.

While not everyone backs up his or her computer on a daily basis, many people are doing so more frequently than in the past. The study noted that approximately 20 percent of computer users back up sensitive documents and applications roughly once a week, compared to only 14 percent in 2011 and 2 percent in 2008. Another 36 percent of survey respondents said they duplicate sensitive files roughly once a month, compared to only 26 percent who did so in 2008.

“It’s great to see that the desire to protect photos, videos, music and other data is becoming an everyday part of using a computer,” Budman said.

The survey also revealed, however, that roughly 29 percent of U.S. computer users have never used online backup tools to bolster data protection and minimize the chances of unnecessary data loss. The study noted that this trend varies between age groups, as roughly 35 percent of individuals older than 55 never use remote backup, while only 24 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds neglect to duplicate sensitive documents.

Source: Consumers backing up information more frequently – Online Backup News.

If you are backing up your data, what tool(s) do you use?

 

Microsoft Issues Patches For Zero-Day Bug & 15 Other Flaws

Numerous flaws were addressed via patches Tuesday by Microsoft.

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

The company also addressed at least 15 other flaws in its software, and urged customers to quit using the desktop Sidebar and Gadget capabilities offered in Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

By far the most urgent of the updates is MS12-043, which fixes a critical vulnerability in Microsoft XML Core Services that miscreants and malware alike have been using to break into vulnerable systems. Microsoft had already warned about limited, targeted attacks using this flaw, but late last month an exploit built to attack the XML bug was added to the BlackHole Exploit Kit, an automated browser exploit tool that is very popular in the criminal underground right now.

Other critical patch bundles include a fix for a dangerous flaw in the Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) of Windows, and an update to address a pair of vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer.

Microsoft also released a FixIt tool to help network administrators block the use of Gadgets and the Sidebar on Windows 7 and Windows Vista systems. “We’ve discovered that some Vista and Win7 gadgets don’t adhere to secure coding practices and should be regarded as causing risk to the systems on which they’re run,” Microsoft said in a blog posting, without offering much more detail about any specific findings.

Source: Microsoft Patches Zero-Day Bug & 15 Other Flaws — Krebs on Security.

Is Your Blog Over-optimized?

In the world of search engine optimization …

Well, that “level playing ground” is here with the April 24th release of the Penguin algorithm update, which has affected an estimated 3% of all search queries. If you saw your blog traffic dip unexpectedly on this date, it’s possible you’ve been “pecked” by the Google Penguin—an indication that your blog is considered to be over-optimized in the eyes of the search giant.

Of course, knowing that you’ve been affected and taking remedial actions to recover from a Penguin penalty are two different things. Because of Google’s natural reticence when it comes to revealing the exact parameters that cause a site to be flagged for over-optimization, it’s impossible to know exactly which factors led to your site’s penalty.

The key to determining how to move forward following a Penguin attack lies in identifying potential over-optimization flags that can be quantified and measured by the search engines. Remember, the Googlebot can’t manually assess the quality of every website online. Instead, it must rely on measurable signals that can be used to infer objective value.

Source:  Is Your Blog Over-optimized? : @ProBlogger.

Windows 8 Pro Upgrade: Your FAQs Answered

Looks like Microsoft is making a big push to get users to upgrade later this year.

When Windows 8 launches later this year you’ll be able to upgrade to the pro version of Microsoft’s newest desktop OS for just $40 for a limited time. The deal will apply to a broad base of current Windows users including those running Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft had a similar offer during the launch of Windows 7 but this one is cheaper than its predecessor. (Windows 7 upgrades ranged from $50-$100 at launch.)

Another big difference between the Windows 7 and Windows 8 upgrade deals is that you get the pro version instead of the base version of Windows 8. And if you’re a Windows Media Center fan, Microsoft’s Windows 8 upgrade deal will let you download the entertainment center program for free (more on that later).

If you plan on upgrading to Windows 8, here’s what you need to know about Microsoft’s limited-time upgrade deal.

Source: Windows 8 Pro Upgrade: Your FAQs Answered CIO.com.

Ticketmaster Books a Private Cloud with Cisco

The third largest e-commerce company in North America is moving much of its operations to the cloud.

Live Nation Entertainment, which operates online ticket sales site Ticketmaster and three other entertainment-related businesses, is clouding up its Ticketmaster and Live Nation Concert and Network operations to achieve the efficiencies of virtualization and speed time-to-market with new offerings. The company is in the very early stages of its private cloud implementation, however, so efficiencies are currently difficult to quantify.

But it’s a sizable undertaking. Live Nation has 7,000 employees in 153 offices spread across 18 countries. Its revenue in 2011 was $5.4 billion, of which Ticketmaster accounted for $1.56 billion and other Live Nation operations $3.8 billion.

Source:  Ticketmaster Books a Private Cloud with Cisco CIO.com.

It will be interesting to see the efficiencies once the implementation has been completed.

Tablets to Surpass Notebook Growth in 2016

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Interesting, but not surprising.

The demand for tablet computers such as the iPad is growing so quickly that shipments of them are projected to surpass notebook shipments by 2016.According to market research firm NPD DisplaySearch, the mobile PC category is poised to soar from 347 million units in 2012 to more than 809 million by 2017. Tablets will be leading the way for that massive growth in the next few years.Tablet shipments are expected to grow from 121 million units to 416 million units by 2017, compared to 208 million shipments in 2012 to 393 million shipments in five years. Tablets will likely surpass notebook shipments in 2016.

Source: Tablets to Surpass Notebook Growth in 2016.

“Top sites are covertly cramming cookies down users’ throats”

If you don’t like cookies …

“The number of websites that allow visitors to be tracked by third parties may be surprising to some, but as consumers begin to understand that their online behavior can be recorded, enterprises will have to work even harder to ensure that consumers’ privacy expectations are met,” said Ray Everett, Keynote’s director of privacy services.

According to Keynote, much of the data that companies collect via cookies is used for behavioral advertising. Third-party trackers place cookies to track a user’s clicks and path through the Web and to know what a visitor buys at any given site.

The problem here is, users don’t have a clear way of knowing which third parties are planting cookies, how they’re using the data they collect (beyond, say, providing more expensive travel offers to Mac users), or how well those third parties are protecting potentially sensitive data. Given that users are becoming increasingly concerned about their online privacy, site operators may feel greater pressure from customers, advocacy groups, and the feds to do a better job.

Consider this:

Looking at the 2,500 most popular websites, the researchers discovered that 87 percent had cookies and found a total of 442,055 cookies in all.

In other words there’s lots of baking and distributing of cookies going on.

Read more:  Top sites are covertly cramming cookies down users’ throats | Internet privacy – InfoWorld.

Why did Microsoft scrap the start button in Windows 8?

An interesting change:

Of all the confounding changes made in the latest Windows 8 consumer preview, few upset people quite as much as .

But what hasn’t been clear is why Microsoft removed the feature, which has been a central pillar of Windows for over a 15 years.

The answer might be obvious: People weren’t using it. In an interview with PCPro, Microsoft program manager Chaitanya Sareen said that as users began pinning more applications to the taskbar, start button usage took a major hit. Instead of going to Start menu to access applications, users were just clicking shortcuts. The taskbar was just too fast and convenient.

Find out what Microsoft put in it’s place:  Why did Microsoft scrap the start button in Windows 8? People weren’t using it | VentureBeat.

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