Blog Archives

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.

 

How to Break Into Security

Great series starting over at Krebs on Security on how to get into the field.

At least once a month, sometimes more, readers write in to ask how they can break into the field of computer security. Some of the emails are from people in jobs that have nothing to do with security, but who are fascinated enough by the field to contemplate a career change. Others are already in an information technology position but are itching to segue into security. I always respond with my own set of stock answers, but each time I do this, I can’t help but feel my advice is incomplete, or at least not terribly well-rounded.

I decided to ask some of the brightest minds in the security industry today what advice they’d give. Almost everyone I asked said they, too, frequently get asked the very same question, but each had surprisingly different takes on the subject. Today is the first installment in a series of responses to this question. When the last of the advice columns have run, I’ll create an archive of them all that will be anchored somewhere prominently on the home page. That way, the next time someone asks how they can break into security, I’ll have more to offer than just my admittedly narrow perspectives on the matter.

Read the whole interview:  How to Break Into Security, Ptacek Edition — Krebs on Security.

CompTia Security

 

Security is a major aspect of IT.  One of the great ways to take one’s IT security training to the next level is to obtain a CompTIA certification.  Here’s part of a great interview that Techopedia recently did with CompTIA’s director of product management, Carol Balkcom.

Techopedia: Many know CompTIA for its A+ certification. Tell us about your other security offerings.
Carol Balkcom: CompTIA Security+ is our first exam devoted entirely to security, and it was originally launched in 2002. All of our exams are “vendor neutral”, meaning that they aren’t tied to any one vendor’s products – and Security+ is no exception.
CompTIA A+ and Network+ also have security components in them, because of course today’s support technicians and network administrators must also be knowledgeable about security. As an aside, all three of these exams (A+, Network+, Security+) are on the U.S. Department of Defense Directive 8570 that requires certification for information assurance personnel. As a result, a large number of professionals have taken these certifications over the last few years.
To get back to our security offerings, earlier this year we formally launched the first in CompTIA’s “Mastery” series of exams, our CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP).

Techopedia: Tell us more about Security+. What major subject areas are covered and who is the primary audience?
Carol Balkcom: The primary audience for Security+ is IT professionals with two or more years of hands-on, technical information security experience. There are Security+ certified professionals in all types of organizations, from the U.S. Navy to General Mills to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. As to the subject areas in Security+, the broad knowledge “domains” are network security, compliance and operational security, threats and vulnerabilities, application, data and host security, access control and identity management, and cryptography.

Techopedia: What about CASP? Can you tell us more about the designation?
Carol Balkcom: For the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP), we recommend at least 10 years in IT and five years of hands-on technical security experience. It is intended for the security architect working in a large, multi-location organization. The CASP also looks at the security implications of business decisions, such as the acquisition of one company by another, as an example.

Be sure to check out the rest of interview, which includes Ms. Balkcom’s take on the certification vs. experience question.

What constitutes a “qualified” IT candidate?

Interesting what General Dynamics looks for in determining if  a candidate is “qualified”.

General Dynamics Information Technology (IT) Staffing Lead Robert Cellich, based in Tampa, Fla., seeks qualified individuals to fill on average 300 positions a year to support General Dynamics IT’s military services sector. But what constitutes a candidate as “qualified”? The right combination of hard and soft skills, credentials and attitude.

Roughly nine out of 10 jobs that Cellich fills require security clearances, a determination by the United States government that a person or company is eligible for access to classified information. “Cleared individuals aren’t hard to find,” he says. “What’s difficult to find is a cleared individual who has the right qualifications for the position.”

“I’m looking for individuals who have polished hard and soft skills,” he says.

For ‘hard skills,’ Cellich looks for demonstrated, hands-on proficiency in the technical areas the job he is seeking to fill. When considering a candidate for a higher level role, he scrutinizes the positions listed in the candidate’s resume—the type of position, the type of company, and length of tenure—to see if the person has relevant, quality experience.

“I’m not going to hire somebody for a senior role who has only a year or two of experience because they’re just not ready for that type of role yet,” Cellich says. When filling a system administrator position, for example, Cellich will prefer candidates who have performed that role. “Whereas the person who has been in a help desk role for 10 years—whose resume shows no discernable system administration experience, lacks steps taken to grow into system administration, fails to demonstrate an effort to get their MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certification)—is still at the help desk level and is unlikely to be prepared for system administration.”

Training and certifications can be huge, especially if a candidate lacks experience.

IT-related training, certifications and degrees can help candidates with less experience. For Cellich, an IT certification gives the candidate credibility by demonstrating that the individual has the capacity and the motivation to learn the trade. “Our customers often want individuals with certifications, because it shows that the person has the capability of doing a specific type of work.”

Cellich has one caveat: “Don’t just go and take the training and not get the certification. It’s almost a negative, because my first question will always be ‘Why didn’t you get the certification?’”

Entry level candidates with an IT certification can still have difficulty obtaining full-time IT work experience in a tough economy, and Cellich recommends that IT job hunters volunteer or obtain a part-time position working with IT as an alternative. “Anything you can put down on resume shows that you have used some of the things you have learned will put you a step ahead of the person who hasn’t done that.”

It’s highly likely that the way General Dynamics defines “qualified” is the way many companies do.  So be sure to stay-up-to-date on skills and knowledge.  At the same time utilize various avenues to gain experience if you don’t have it.

Head over to the source for some tips on that resume.

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New Network+ Exam Strengthens Objectives

It’s that time again where CompTIA updates its’ Network+ exam.

CompTIA released its updated CompTIA Network+ exam (English only, initially) on Dec. 1. The revised Network+ objectives address virtual networking and give increased attention to network security and coverage of the seven-layer OSI (Open System Interconnection) model. Click here to download a breakdown of exactly what is covered on the new exam.

Here’s what ComTIA’s research showed:

CompTIA research on US Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) found that network efficiency and robustness were among the top items SMBs plan to address immediately, paving the way for other strategies such as cloud computing or unified communications.

Forty-eight percent of server technicians surveyed by CompTIA say that deeper networking knowledge is required when supporting servers in a cloud environment.

Among server technicians and managers of server technicians, 28% say that virtualization is a current focus, but 60% say that it is becoming a larger focus.

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Tips to a successful IT job interview

So you’ve applied for that IT job and you’ve made it to the interview stage.  Here are some tips from Venture Loop CEO Jeremy McCarthy on how to make it a successful interview.

Regardless of how you view this prospective opportunity, always do your best in the interview for you never know where it may lead you. Some of his other suggested tips:

1) Research: With everything literally at our fingertips today, it’s close to blasphemy to enter an interview without having searched and studied as much about the history, fact and figures of the company with whom you are interviewing as possible. Savy online searching can turn up valuable information to prove to an employer they’d be hiring an expert in their industry.

2) Review your triumphs and faults: You can almost guarantee that typical questions such as your vision for five years down the road, strengths, weaknesses, tough work situations and best type of person to work for will be asked, so why not write down your answers ahead of time to review rather than spin your wheels while sitting in ‘hot seat.’

3) Behavioral question awareness: More firms rely on behavioral interviewing techniques to see how candidates answer when asked for specific examples of past professional situations. McCarthy presents some typical queries to prepare for ahead of time:

  • How you handled not meeting a deadline
  • How you dealt with conflict with a co-worker or boss
  • What you did when someone else’s actions caused failure
  • When did you show initiative
  • What did you do when a customer was upset with you
  • What did you do when a co-worker blamed you unfairly for something

For the rest of Mr. McCarthy’s tips check out the source.

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Social Networking the most important technology of 2011

That would be social networking in general, not one aspect that is the most important technology of the past year.

From the “Arab Spring” to BYOD, social networking was clearly the most important “technology” of 2011. I’m not talking specifically about any one platform. Sure, Twitter is important if you want to keep tabs on the latest movements of people important in your life. Facebook is perfect for lurking around and leering at people’s (more or less) personal lives. LinkedIn has become the de facto standard for business-based networking. We’ve all heard the stories about Wikileaks, Anonymous, and how technology seems to play a role in building up and breaking down political figures of the day.

I’m talking about all of the related technologies that make social networking possible. Social networking as we currently know it wouldn’t exist without virtualization, HTML5, and all of those  “as a service” offerings such as Amazon’s EC2. And don’t forget all of those mobile devices, including the shiny, new and ever-so compelling Android or iPad you just got for Christmas. All of these cloud-based technologies are behind social networking.

So, while I could have just written about one technology or device is the technology of 2011, that wouldn’t reflect the current zeitgeist. Right now, social networking is the technology of the year. It’s not any one implementation of virtualization (sorry VMWare). It’s not any one SaaS or PaaS implementation.

So how does that affect one’s career path in IT?  As with any aspect you should have focus.

For your career, focus on the individual pieces that make social networking possible. Are you interested in becoming a virtualization guru? Then learn about how virtualization makes social networking possible. Interested in what Cisco is developing to make voice, video and data more efficient? Then focus on how these things are implemented in the cloud and in regards to social networking.

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Secrets of Successful Tech Contractors

Very interesting.  If you are an IT contractor what are your thoughts?  Would you agree?

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Dump IT assets and move to cloud?

An interesting prediction by Gartner.

Cloud computing will become so pervasive that by 2012, one out of five businesses will own no IT assets at all, the analyst firm Gartner is predicting.

The shift toward cloud services hosted outside the enterprise’s firewall will necessitate a major shift in the IT hardware markets, and shrink IT staff, Gartner said.

“The need for computing hardware, either in a data center or on an employee‘s desk, will not go away,” Gartner said. “However, if the ownership of hardware shifts to third parties, then there will be major shifts throughout every facet of the IT hardware industry. For example, enterprise IT budgets will either be shrunk or reallocated to more-strategic projects; enterprise IT staff will either be reduced or reskilled to meet new requirements, and/or hardware distribution will have to change radically to meet the requirements of the new IT hardware buying points.”

If Gartner is correct, the shift will have serious implications for IT professionals, but presumably many new jobs would be created in order to build the next wave of cloud services.

But it’s not just cloud computing that is driving a movement toward “decreased IT hardware assets,” in Gartner’s words. Virtualization and employees running personal desktops and laptops on corporate networks are also reducing the need for company-owned hardware. (Source: InfoWorld)

Check the source link above to see other Gartner predictions.

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Strong IT job outlook

It looks like the IT security field is the place to be for 2010 and beyond when it comes to the job market.

“Security is the place to be in 2010 and for the foreseeable future,” says David Foote, CEO of Foote Partners, an IT research firm in Vero Beach, Florida. At a time when the average values of most certifications are falling, security-related certifications have continually increased in average value and pay, he says.

Job growth in this area has also been driven by corporations separating operational security and strategic risk management tasks. “All of a sudden, you have to have IT people in the room when you’re talking about overall enterprise risk,” Foote says.

Robert Half Technology data suggests the starting salary range for an information systems security manager will be $96,500 to $130,750 in 2010. Foote’s data says the job is averaging $102,200 to $143,700.

Web/application development and network administration are going to be hot fields as well.

Application developers and Web developers will be in demand in 2010 as companies try to leverage social media and interactive Web sites.

Starting salaries for senior Web developers will be $78,000 to $109,500 in 2010, Robert Half Technology predicts. The hottest skills related to social media include: Microsoft Commerce Server, Java, SOAP, Python, Microsoft SharePoint, C, SQL and Sybase Adaptive Server, Foote says.

Social media initiatives also generate jobs for support technicians and help-desk pros, says Kathy Northamer, Robert Half Technology senior vice president. The staffing firm’s survey projects starting salaries of $28,500 to $39,000 for entry-level help-desk jobs, while Foote says the range will be $38,600 to $54,250.

Cloud computing, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Software as a Service (SaaS) have significantly increased the complexity of networks. That trend will continue in 2010.

Chief information officers interviewed for the first-quarter Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report cited network administration as the most in-demand skill set.

Network administrators can expect to see starting salaries ranging from $54,500 to $80,250 in 2010, Robert Half Technology predicts. (Source: 2010 IT Salary & Jobs Outlook – Monster.com)

Looks like there should be numerous opportunities once I finish the Bachelor degree in Information Systems Security in a few months.

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