Author Archive: Nick Hale

January 13, 2010

Always Have a Backup Plan...

Everyone always says it’s a good idea to have a backup plan just in case your primary plan bites the dust. I couldn’t agree more. Recently my personal Xbox 360 failed and this has caused plenty of grief in my household. I used my Xbox to stream content from Windows Media Player on my desktop to the TV (via Media Center edition of Windows XP). This has worked great and has been able to provide me with a means to entertain my child. Of course, this going out has caused a screaming baby because now she can’t watch her “movies”.

Now, had I had a proper backup plan, this wouldn’t be an issue. See, I put all of my trust into a single device and/or single method to accomplish something. When this device failed, my operation came to a halt. I didn’t listen to the advice I’m always telling our customers… have a backup or backup plan. This is where our “extra services” come into play. Not only do we offer backup solutions (eVault, NAS…) but we also offer solutions that allow you access to high-availability configurations (Citrix XenServer, for example). With XenServer you can configure a cluster of systems and setup automatic failover. This would prevent any major outages of your website/services. If this isn’t something you think would work for you, utilizing eVault backups might. We now offer eVault Bare Metal Restore. Now, the problem is somehow applying these to my Xbox so my kiddo can go back to watching her movies... Long story short, don’t rely on a single solution. Always have a backup plan or system in place to prevent headaches in the future. You won’t regret it if you do.

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December 3, 2009

Hey, I just got an email saying I won a million dollars! *Click* Wait, what just happened to my computer?

This is usually how it starts. Some shady person sends out spam telling people they have one a million dollars or a free laptop or mp3 player with a link a form they need to fill out to claim their prize. Only you don’t win an mp3 player or laptop. You win an infected computer that is now a drone in a much larger botnet. This botnet is either for direct malicious purposes (Denial-of-Service attacks) or indirect malicious purposes (spam, phishing, etc). How do you stop this from happening to you and you becoming “that guy”? Don’t click links in email unless you’re 100% sure who it’s from and what it’s for. That’s the basic rule to remember. Secondly, make sure you have an anti-virus program that’s capable of scanning email and keeping your system protected from malicious browser exploits. Thirdly, (and this should go without being said, but I’m saying it anyways) make sure your computer (and all software) is up-to-date. Sure, there’s the occasional bug and 0-day exploit on up-to-date systems, but there’s a whole slew of exploits and things that can be done to an un-patched system. Keep your systems up-to-date and you reduce the “known” exploits from literally thousands to maybe a few.

Think about this, 80% of the world’s email is considered spam. Of that 80%, the vast majority (more than 75%) is sent using infected computers (drones). If everyone would re-think blindly clicking links in emails and on webpages (social networking sites have a history of people trying to fool users into clicking bad links) then the spammers wouldn’t have drones available to them to send spam. Interesting thought, isn’t it? Let’s stop spam by being smart internet users and denying the “bad guys” the resources they need to send out the spam.

December 1, 2009

Holiday Seasons and Holiday Shopping

It’s that time of year again. No, not time to spread joy and cheer to your family (it can be that, too), but rather the time of waiting in long lines when it’s freezing outside hoping to get a good deal or the perfect gift. It’s the holiday shopping season. With the holiday shopping season comes the holiday “holy cow it’s freezing cold out here” or the holiday “hey! that person just cut in line” season as well. Of course, one thing people need to remember this time of year is that it’s not about the shopping and spending money (Money? What money?) but rather it’s about spending time with family and looking back at the year that has passed. Of course, retailers and scammers would like you to think otherwise. They’re trying their hardest to get you to part with your hard earned money. What does this mean to you? It means that you have to watch out who you’re buying from and what websites you are giving your personal information to. This is the perfect season for scammers to get your grandparents to give up their personal information (and with it everything in their bank accounts). Of course, this is easily avoided. Most reputable websites will have SSL certificates from a reputable vendor. Being a customer of SoftLayer you are already aware of a (fairly) new service we offer… A short while back SoftLayer began to offer VeriSign and GeoTrust SSL certificates (for more information: http://www.softlayer.com/partners_geotrust.html). Simply making sure that the site you are buying from has a certificate installed like the ones we offer will help ensure that your information isn’t going to some thief hiding in his basement. What’s the moral of this story? (All Holiday stories have a moral…) Stay safe, be careful, and enjoy the holidays!

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