IT Solutions

Blog, Check Point, Cloud, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

The Cyber Security Threats You Need to Plan for in 2019


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It’s that time of year again; time to be weary of scary things jumping out on your screen when you’re least expecting it, of monsters following you into your dreams and escaping from your [data] closet. I’m referring, of course, to National Cyber Security Month, the month to take extra care when it comes to protecting your organisation from cyber-gremlins. And I’m sure you’ve been hearing about it non-stop for the last three weeks; participating in the office games, including ‘bobbing for malware’, ‘pin the data on the phishing attempt’ and ‘pass the ransomware’. All party classics. Regardless, it’s an important issue that gets pushed to the side all too often throughout the year. So now is the time to make that extra bit of effort to make sure that you’re protected should the Big Bad Cyber-attack knock on your door (or make you realise just how badly your straw house was lacking).

To switch things up a bit, I thought it would be clever to start thinking about what lies ahead, when the dark, cold nights and endless Christmas parties make way for snow in April. Now is a good time to start planning for 2019, and what the cyber landscape might look like next year. I’ve dusted off my crystal ball and called upon the spirit of Google to tell me exactly what cyber security threats we’re most likely to hear about next year. So buckle up, take notes, and be prepared to impress your boss with your savvy goal-setting ambitions. You’re welcome in advance.

It seems like the world spent the entirety of 2018 running around trying to put out phishing fires. Unless you live under a rock, or are lucky enough to spend your days on a wifi-less beach, you can’t have missed the crazy number of phishing attacks that were publicised. Every second cyber security article had details of attacks and startling statistics (76% of businesses reported being a victim of an attack in 2018 so far). Alas, while phishing has been around since 1980, it has just been ramping up in popularity and severity over the last year or so. When it comes to internal threats, it’s by far the easiest way to get access to sensitive information. According to a Verizon report, 30% of phishing attacks get opened by American users, with 12% of those targeted by the emails clicking on the infected links or attachments. The element of human error makes it that much more appealing. Unfortunately, the only solution to phishing (for the time being anyway) is to train your users to be extra vigilant when opening emails from external sources, and make sure your spam filters are extra strong.

Here’s an interesting (albeit worrying) one; your new smartphone being compromised before it even gets in your hands. Malware is another one of those evil little buggers that can really cause trouble if you’re not very careful. Like phishing, it’s becoming a prevalent part of the internet landscape that users have to be wary about, kind of like not playing in traffic and eating your vegetables. In a society where being always-on is a necessity, mobile phones have become replacements for desktop computers. Think about it, what do you store or have access to on your laptop that you don’t on your phone? The data your phone collects on a daily basis is a very attractive target for cybercriminals. But the modern cybercriminal doesn’t have to stand on a street corner and ‘accidentally’ bump against you to steal your mobile, and ergo your data. Apps are an easy hands-free way to bypass security measures and cause trouble without even clicking on a malicious link. There have even been reports of smartphones leaving the factory floor with malware built in! This malware, called Cosiloon, can send users to download dodgy apps that they didn’t intend on accessing. The app is passive, only visible to the user in the settings section, but then connects with a website to grab the payloads that hackers want to install on the phone.

Speaking of phones, surprise, surprise; cryptocurrency is going to continue to be a massive deal in 2019. And since it is, the dollar signs in the eyes of hackers are getting even bigger. Cryptomining was a new trend for 2018, but without a doubt will gain traction during the next year. Uber-clever cybercriminals infect machines to commandeer their CPU power and steal Bitcoin. What we will most likely see in 2019 is the rise of cryptomining through mobile devices. Since cybercriminals need the infected device to be running to access the processing power, it only makes sense for them to move onto always-on mobile devices. Clever, huh? Many hackers simply create useful and legitimate apps, such as calculators, music videos or voice recording technology, and then embed a script that allows the cryptomining plugin to work silently in the background (don’t start getting any ideas). Since the nature of mobile is to simply make everything so damn complicated and finicky, you probably wouldn’t even notice the extra tab on your browser. The only thing that would indicate that you were a potential victim would be the quick-draining battery. But let’s face it, how often would you attribute awful battery life to a hacker, rather than just having an older phone? “You’d need terrible mobile security!” you might guffaw, pitying the idiot commoner that wouldn’t think of protecting their mobile devices (oops, that would be me). Alas, cryptomining doesn’t technically compromise the security of the device, as it doesn’t bypass security systems or install any rogue software. If you think you’re being clever by installing app-only or endpoint-based security solutions, you won’t be the one laughing (I don’t feel so bad then).

CheckPoint’s SandBlast Mobile is one fabulous piece of software that can and will protect your mobile devices. It protects users from threats to the OS, apps and network, and boasts the industry’s highest threat catch rate. Zero-day malware, using a software vulnerability for which there isn’t any available fix or defence at the moment, is being created and released onto unsuspecting victims every day. SandBlast Mobile blocks zero-day malware (I think it’s magic, actually), and prevents phishing on your apps. If you’re worried about infected devices accessing corporate data, it will intuitively block the device, while also blocking infected devices from sending on sensitive data to botnets. Possibly the most innovative feature of SandBlast Mobile is how it mitigates threats without having to rely on a management platform, which means that you’re protected even when you might not be on the ball (mobile attacks can also happen after late nights- you can’t have Spidey senses all the time!). Regardless of what you do or access on your mobile, if you work from your phone- even if it’s just to reply to emails- SandBlast Mobile is the all-encompassing solution for you. Well then, we can pretty much strike off two of those potential 2019 issues with just one technology!

We’re all for embracing the future here at Cetus. There is so much to look forward to, and so many awesome new technologies- both malicious and not- that will come about, regardless of how well you try to prepare. Working with CheckPoint, we feel reassured that our cyber security is covered, regardless of time, place or device. If you’re interested in what our experts have to say about all the cool things that CheckPoint offer, you can have a chat with them with here. And don’t forget to tell us what you think; what will 2019 have to offer by way of cyber security threats?

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Improving your Network Security; it Doesn’t Have to be a Scary Business


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It’s finally October! Time for the quintessential Pumpkin Spice Latté from Starbucks, complaining about the sudden early evenings and frantic last-minute costume shopping for the office Halloween party. It also happens to be International Cyber Security Month; a friendly reminder to take extra care when it comes to your cyber security, lest a cyber-Dracula should invade and exsanguinate you of all of your rich, iron-filled data. Here at Cetus, we’re always up for a bit of spooky fun, but when it comes to security we’re serious. This week, in honour of Anti-Malware,-Ransomware,-Phishing,-And-All-Things-Evil Month (it’s original title wasn’t quite catchy enough), I’m going to try and make improving your network security a little bit more fun. I’m only 125 words in, so there can be no promises.

Along with an effective cyber security policy, creating a plan in the case of a cyber-attack, using micro-segmentation to minimise the damage of said cyber-attack, making sure that you have ample backups in place to maintain your business after a cyber-attack, and many, many more stress-inducing topics for you to worry about, making sure your network security is up to scratch is also crucial for your business. (If you’re looking at that list and wondering what on earth you’ve been missing, they all link to delightfully hilarious posts that will alleviate all of your fears.) Your network is the glue that holds the entirety of your organisation together. Or, in this instance, it’s the stitching that holds the body parts of your Frankenstein Monster of an organisation in place. Ever try sharing a digital document with Stacy from HR in the next building without a network? It would be faster to train a carrier pigeon to knock on her window- but that wouldn’t be without the risk of interception. Or practise morse code- unless Stacy is on the other side of the building. If you’re lucky enough to be by a window directly across from her, there’s always the option of folding up a paper airplane or, my favourite, using a tin can telephone. And those are all well and good, but what about if Stacy’s office is in another country- or continent? An ultra-sophisticated, time-locked carrier pigeon is the only way to go. Unless you have a secure network, that is.

But ‘pub tonight?’ emails aren’t the only things your network adds to your business (though it might be one of the most important ones). Think of all of the many files that are stored on your organisation’s shared network drive, and all of the instances you need to access one. Last-minute edits to the document that your sleepy, unsupervised intern prepared for your board meeting? Holiday request form? I guarantee you, you pop in there at least once a day to spend half an hour looking for a document someone else created. Without your network, you’d be a building of USBs wandering around the office. Your extremely helpful Outlook calendar that allows you to own the time of your colleagues (but also allows them to rule over yours) is thanks to your secure network, too. Want to work in a café/building site/park bench (near a Wi-Fi source; it’s not that magical)/car park? Feel free to use whatever open Wi-Fi network you want without the worry of a cyber-creep stealing all of your organisation’s secrets. And a lack of network security cost UK small businesses a collective, but nevertheless horrific, £11bn in 2016. So, how do you take care of your Frankenstein Monster?

If your network is Frankenstein Monster’s stitching, then a healthy network security policy is the age-defying, pollution-barrier moisturiser that keeps everything supple. A clear, simple and comprehensive network policy makes everything work smoothly. All it takes is a written document that outlines user policies; who is allowed to access the network, what privileges and limitations do they have, etc. There’s no point letting just anyone who happens to be working for the organisation into every file; unless you’re sending her paper airplanes, Stacy from HR shouldn’t be included in the notes of the main board meeting. A good risk assessment test, identifying important data sets and creating a disaster recovery plan is all that is needed to make sure your network security policy is ready to go! It’s also a good idea to organise drills within your IT department to make sure that the new implementations have been well received by your users, and to identify if they need further training.

A lot of organisations do well to make sure that their network is safe, by investing in the most expensive, most sophisticated and most snazzy infrastructure to keep the outside out. However, where they fail is usually keeping the ‘snazzy’ up to date. We already know that loopholes from unpatched networks can cause some serious security breaches (WannaCry, anyone?), so it’s crucial that your IT department acts on whatever updates may come about. If, for example, Frankenstein’s Monster were to lose a finger or nose, you wouldn’t leave it be, right? So, patch, patch, patch. Speaking of, bad passwords are like skin erosion. Let that fester and it won’t take long until the bad outside germs (cyber threats, in this example) pierce through and infect the entire body. In the age of Gen-V cyber-attacks, it’s important that your password policy is up to the security demands of your organisation. Maybe think about multi-factor authentication? I’ve already written loads on that, but to make it brief, think about making passwords expire every 60 to 90 days, just to be safe.

It’s time to don your favourite lab coat and get into your Dr Frankenstein head space, because now we’re talking about auditing and mapping. Place your monster on the slab and open him up! Know everything about your entire network’s infrastructure; what servers, printers, computers, devices and users are connected? How to they connect, and how do they maintain their connectivity throughout the network? Look for vulnerabilities that could end up causing you trouble in the long run. Keep an eye out for ways you could improve security, performance and reliability. Basically, see if you can replace a few weakened patches of skin with some robust tin and give it a zap to bring it to life.

Last but not least, Dr Frankenstein would hardly have created his monster without making sure he had plenty of backup arms and legs, just in case. And neither should you. Chances are, a hacker will find their way into your system. Which sounds a whole lot less scary if you’ve already read all about micro-segmentation and you’re compartmentalising your network. Regardless, it would be best to make sure you’ll never be caught out if it were to happen. As always, we’ve got you sorted, since we always take backup seriously.

IT’S ALIVE! Now that we have all of that sorted (that wasn’t as torturous as you’d thought, was it?), we’d love to hear what you think. Is Frankenstein’s Monster the best monster comparison of your network? Have you suddenly realised that maybe you need to take another quick look into your security? Have a Halloweeny chat with our experts to see what we can do for you, and decide what you’re going to dress up as this year.

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Speaking of, I’ve finally decided on my costume for the office party; Cyber-Dracula. Sorted.

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Citrix, IT Solutions, News, Technology, Uncategorized

IPEXPO 2018: A Newbie’s Perspective


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As part of the marketing department, I’m privy to a lot of the cool and interesting things we at Cetus get ourselves into. From Christmas parties to our workshops, and everything in between, I hear of all the things we do- sometimes I can’t sleep from the excitement (though that could be from the coffee I’m drip-fed in the office). So when I popped into an IPEXPO organising meeting last month I didn’t think too much of it. IPEXPO is a utopia for all things IT solutions, cloud solutions, cyber security…. If it has something to do with running the IT in your organisation, there will be a company there with more experience and knowledge than you could possibly need. We’ve been exhibiting at IPEXPO since 2011, so it’s something that I’d heard about since I started at Cetus in February. I piped up with the mandatory odd line to justify my presence while I practiced my ‘I’m-totally-contributing-to-this-conversation’ face as I fell into standby mode. That was, until Mike English, our Managing Director, mentioned something about blogs. That rebooted me up real fast. It was with shock, horror, and a tiny bit of excitement that my name was etched on the list to go to the event.

That excitement faded away completely as I stood in the middle of Euston Station. My first ever time in London (I’m a poor girl hauled out of the Irish countryside) and I was not prepared for it. People, everywhere. They swarmed around me, dragging behind suitcases and children alike, totally oblivious of the commotion that was ripping through my mind. I very nearly pulled a sickie there and then, but for the fact that I’d already let the Marketing Head know that I was on the train into London. Bugger. But Euston wasn’t even the worst part. It was dragging myself and five kilos of ‘just in case’ pages of collateral all the way to the ExCeL convention centre on the edge of the city. And I was going to have to use the transportation of nightmares that makes men cry, brakes souls and causes couples to break; The Tube. To be honest, the worst was just finding my way around King’s Cross as I tried to figure out where to buy a ticket, and what constituted the difference between the train and the Tube entrances. I was a human Sim character for about 20 minutes, wandering around in circles trying to figure out why I was there and how to get out.

Two hours*, a packed Tube and a cheerful Twirl bar later, I found myself at ExCeL. It’s a marvellous, imposing building, shoved at what feels like the other end of the world. If I thought Euston station was bad, I was in for a bigger shock. The convention space was packed with nerds as far as the eye could see. And the place was incredible. Flashing lights, red carpets- I felt like I was in Hollywood. The elaborate stands were stocked full of toothy smiles, chocolates, pens, and enough collateral to build the DLR line all the way back to Euston. And the room was massive.

I waded through the throng of matching t-shirts and rucksacks, trying to find my way to the Citrix Partner Zone to find our stand. We were delighted to be displaying alongside Citrix again this year, especially with the introduction of our new instrato brand. With instrato, we work with Citrix and Microsoft Azure to revolutionise the journey to the cloud. We were even more excited to introduce our new project to the thousands of delegates that were in attendance, getting to chat with them and see how instrato could make their cloud journey simpler. And when I finally rocked up to the stand, it was clear that it was catching the eye of plenty of people. Thank god the girls had all bought matching blouses in Cetus purple, it made them so much easier to spot in the crowd that had manifested.

This year, we were especially excited to have a speaker at the event. In April, we won the highly fought-after Lewisham and Greenwich NHS tender. It’s a big deal for us at Cetus, one of the most prestigious projects we’ve ever taken on. Six months later and we’ve well and truly sunk our teeth into it. With healthcare IT hugely under-reported on, it made sense to introduce the instrato project in the theatre. Thankfully, I had made it just in time for our speaker slot, held in the App Virtualisation & Mobile Workspaces Theatre, which was just behind our stand. As always, our Business Development Director, Paul Kiveal, gave a brief introduction to Cetus and instrato, as relaxed and well-spoken in front of the packed theatre as he is during team meetings. As much as Paul could have detailed what benefits and improvements we are delivering to the NHS, he handed the reins over to Justin Beardsmore, Chief Technology Officer for the Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, who was more than happy to talk in depth about the project and why the Trust chose to work with us. Impeccably dressed, he stood at the top of the lecture theatre watching the chairs getting filled up as delegates made their way in.

An experienced senior technology leader, Justin captivated the audience with the situation of the NHS and what we are doing to improve the lives of not only the working staff, but also the patients that rely on the service. Justin went into detail about the community NHS staff, those incredible people who work remotely to provide a top-tier healthcare service to patients who aren’t able, or don’t need, to attend hospital. As you can imagine, the paperwork and procedures that has to be completed for each patient, regardless of location, can really pile up, so an innovative solution has to be sought.

It was a quick and captivating 30 minutes, and it was a delight to see delegates coming up to Paul and Justin after the lecture for their know-how and suggestions for their own projects. Our stand was swamped directly after the lecture as well, whispers of our successful lecture having spread around the convention, and everyone wanted to find out more about our exciting Citrix-Azure-instrato partnership. Essentially a human lump of a paperweight at the stand, I decided against striking up conversations with delegates and scaring them away with my limited IT knowledge. I played ‘undercover blogger’ and wandered around the convention, popping into cybersecurity lectures and avoiding eye contact with everyone I met (god forbid I get kicked out for being too stupid).

Alas, it was only too soon before I got the dreaded ‘let’s go make our way to the Tube :)’ text and had to say goodbye to the ExCeL centre. Weary that our beds were still another six hours away, we piled into the Tube (why on earth is it so short?) along with hundreds of other delegates who decided rush hour was the prime time to leave before they came back again the next day to do it all over again.

Did you go to IPEXPO this year? We hope you managed to pop by our stand for a chat (I swear, everyone else is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable in IT) and found out more about instrato and what exciting projects we have planned. If you didn’t make it to London, or just didn’t have the chance to come say hi, we still have the same experts (minus Justin, I’m afraid) on-hand to talk through your upcoming projects, and they’re easily available here. As for us, we’re going back to the drawing board to start planning for next year, can’t wait to see you there.

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*It took me two hours because I can’t read CityMapper and I refuse to ask for directions. It should only take 30 to 40 minutes.

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, IT Solutions, News, Technology, Uncategorized

instrato or Lexus?


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Toyota is the world’s second largest automotive manufacturer, and in 2017 was standing as the fifth largest global company by revenue. So why did such a successful company create another totally new brand – Lexus, in a highly saturated and ultra-competitive marketplace?

Lexus was an idea from the Japanese car manufacturer, not to enter a new diverse market sector, but to show the world just how good they are at manufacturing high-quality vehicles, appealing to both existing and new customers alike. They believed they needed a fresh, more relevant brand which was built on their already trusted and proven heritage, a brand which appealed to a wider audience with perhaps a different use case. Strangely, many didn’t regard Toyota as a world-leading brand, so this perception had to change.

Toyota responded to their customers, bringing together many years of success, quality, experience and proven customer satisfaction in an exciting, new, forward-thinking premium brand.

We live in the Cloud-era; not a day goes by without the word Cloud in whatever context. We see large multi-national vendors placing their ‘cloud-bets’ with their entire reputation. I guess if they are, well it must be good, right?! I’d rather test such a theory, so we did and have been for several years… We’ve also seen a flurry of the new kids on the block, ‘born in the cloud’ they say! Such organisations claiming to harness the power of the public cloud, yet with limited experience and actual solution design heritage. Why would an organisation place all their commercial eggs in a basket of hope?!

Here at Cetus, we have been designing, building, implementing and supporting infrastructure solutions for almost twenty years and haven’t times changed eh, especially in our industry?! Cetus adopted Cloud strategies many years ago and have successfully built and run our own private cloud platform – Continuum C3 for over six years now for our customers; the public cloud providers were not the appropriate choice for this, not back then anyway, but watch this space…

Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Cloud are the alleged leaders today, the weapons of choice one may say.

As a true Solutions-House, Cetus actively respond to customers challenges and market forces, and we too must place our bets! Our solution stack is so, by design, a well-developed and focused set of products and solutions to drive business outcomes and address real business challenges. Enter stage right, the Public Cloud to our strategic catalogue and its time to refresh our thoughts!

Instrato is Cetus’s new fresh and relevant approach in the journey to the Cloud, ‘on-point’ and developed with a focused set of technologies, capitalising and leveraging Cloud Infrastructure combined with Cetus’s experienced 17-year heritage in delivering successful customer solutions. Cetus have delivered successful public cloud projects which, combined with the Cetus Team’s knowledge and experience, set us apart from many ‘new to the cloud’ organisations. “Real, proven and trusted experience is hard to find…” states a valued Cetus customer.

Instrato redefines Cetus’s approach to your journey to the cloud and the ultimate goal of SaaS. Instrato is a compelling set of technologies and solutions which, akin to Cetus, deliver on our proven experience and knowledge to assist customers into the world of the cloud. “We’re proudly letting the market know we have deep and unparalleled experience in the world of cloud computing, combining our years of infrastructure solution success to deliver to our customers” says Colleen O’Brien, Head of Marketing at Cetus.

So here we have it!
Instrato builds on our heritage and experience of listening to customers, designing successful solutions and delivering business outcomes by adopting and integrating Cloud and SaaS technologies! Experience counts…

This is a strange blog for me, this time I am discussing and marketing a fresh, new and exciting brand, Instrato, but just think about that should you step into a Lexus; it may be new but its built-on years of experience and proven success, wouldn’t you want that underpinning your business decisions in such a competitive world?
C’mon in instrato!
Find out more at hello@instrato.co.uk and visit www.instrato.co.uk

Mike.pngMike English – Managing Director
Since forming Cetus in 2001, Mike drives change and development to ensure Cetus empower and deliver real value to our customers, enabling successful business outcomes.

 

Blog, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Don’t Build Sandcastles – Build a Boat Instead


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I went to a castle once. It was solid, built to withstand everything that its enemies (perceived and real), and the British weather, could throw at it. Walls two meters thick to resist every imaginable attack; a moat and drawbridge to control who could access its inner sanctum; skilled people to ensure that the castle was watered, fed and protected (they’d gone by the time I got there, but I could sort of ‘feel’ their presence). Everything about it screamed permanency and timelessness.

I build an infrastructure once. It was solid, built to withstand everything that my organisation could throw at it. Servers piled two meters high; perimeter security to control who could access its near sanctum; a highly trained team to ensure that the infrastructure was watered, fed and protected. Everything about it screamed permanency and timelessness.

When measured on a timescale of traditional budget cycles; my IT infrastructure was, sort of, timeless. It lasted the five years I needed it to, without too much of a struggle.
Today, traditional IT infrastructures are still like castles; it’s just that they’re more like, well, sandcastles. What was once able to weather the storms, is now increasingly crumbling the first time the tide of change comes in. The once thick walls crumble from the base under the pressure of the waves. The moat and drawbridge become the first point of failure, rather than the last line of defence. The people can prove to be one of its major weaknesses, rather than its greatest strengths.

So, where am I going with this? I would suggest that, if the tides of change are the greatest threat to your infrastructure, you should think of building a boat, not a castle.
As waves (of change) constantly batter your infrastructure (think Digital Transformation, Agile Working, Hybrid Cloud etc.); a ‘boat’ would be a better way to ride the waves. A boat will allow you to use the tide to your advantage, allowing you to move with the times; to take advantage of new opportunities; to keep your ‘crew’ safe and to reach the destinations that your organisation sets on a moment-by-moment basis, not on a five-year basis.

So, what should you call your new boat? Since Boaty-McBoat-Face has been taken, how about ‘SS Hybrid Cloud’? That’s what we recommend. Our Hybrid Cloud solutions leverage the ever-increasing waves of technological change. They allow you to build an IT strategy that embraces change; not try to withstand it.

Here at Cetus, we’ve created ‘instrato’ to help our customers with their cloud journey. We provide hybrid-cloud design, build, migration, optimisation and management services to allow you to navigate your way through change.

Actually, ‘SS instrato” would be a good name for a boat. Why not have a chat with one of our experts to hear how we can get you off the shoreline, and on your cloud journey?

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Blog, Cetus Solutions, Check Point, Cloud, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Cyber Criminals are at Gen-V; Are You?


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Since the dawn of the internet, we’ve learned that keeping our sensitive information under lock and key is important. Even more so nowadays, with the explosion of ecommerce asking for everything short of your National Insurance number. And nine times out of ten you can choose to save your card details for the next time you’re feeling too lazy to get out of bed to grab your wallet. If you really think about it, that’s probably not the best thing to do. But while putting our bank accounts at risk, you’d expect big corporations who have entire qualified, skilled and experienced IT teams to have a handle on their security, right?

Oh boy, could you be any more wrong. In a recent CheckPoint survey, 97% of the organisations that were assessed were not prepared for a Gen-V cyber attack. The thing is, cyber-attacks and security protections have evolved significantly in the last 30 years, but not at equal levels. Currently, organisations are at Gen-III. We fell into Gen-III in the early 2000s, when attackers learned to leverage vulnerabilities in the components of an IT infrastructure. This includes operating systems, hardware and applications. A fantastic example was the SQLSlammer worm. Since then, Gen-IV has emerged in 2010 as cyber criminals became more sophisticated, targeting the world of finance, where sandboxing and anti-bot were the main protections.

Back in 2017, the dreaded Gen-V cyber attack made a roaring entrance with the world-shattering WannaCry ransomware attack. We’re looking at large-scale, multi-vector attacks, using uber-sophisticated attack tools. It’s safe to say that we’re not in Kansas anymore. These attacks are major, generally using ‘state-sponsored’ technologies that can target networks across countries, companies and even continents. Cyber criminals are getting their hands on these technologies from simple leaks or as a result of reverse engineering, and cause major reputational damage for the organisations affected.

So what can be done? The risk of a security threat is omnipresent. No matter what you do, your organisation will be exposed in one way or another (unless you favour the slate-and-chalk method of working).

Check Point’s Infinity is one of the best ways to handle the stress of cyber security. Focusing on prevention instead of detection, it’s a hyper-aware platform that provides consolidated security across networks, cloud and mobile. Combining a single security platform, pre-emptive threat protection capabilities and a unified system for management. With the release of R80.10, it features plenty of clever capabilities and enhancements which include unique policy layers, security multi-zones and boosted performance, to ensure security management. With the move to cloud earmarked for most organisations, the integrated Check Point vSEC Cloud Security’s comprehensive portfolio integrates with both private and public cloud platforms, so you’re covered regardless of your cloud preferences.

Infinity also boasts an impressive threat prevention in the form of anti-ransomware technology that enables businesses to remain protected against even the most sophisticated ransomware and cyber extortion. If your organisation is big into mobile (whose isn’t?), SandBlast mobile has the intelligence to detect both known and unknown malware, effectively blocking it before it becomes a problem. You’ll never have to worry about poisoned wi-fi networks, ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks or SMS phishing. There are so many nifty features of Infinity that make it a clever investment for an organisation, no matter its size. Centre stage, it has centralised management and role-based administration that allows it to apply to all organisation use cases.

Gen-V will certainly not be the last upgrade in cyber security. As technology improves, expanding and intruding into more and more of our lives, the sophistication of cyber criminals will progress just as fast. It won’t be long until I’m writing about a major Gen-VI cyber-attack and its implications affecting another group of international organisations. So now is the time to start getting ahead of the hackers. We work hand-in-hand with Check Point to ensure that your infrastructure is at the highest level of cyber security so you don’t need to worry about that.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

Saying Goodbye to your Legacy Systems


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If, when you were six, someone had asked you what 2018 would look like, how far off would you have been? In the last 20 or 30 years, the world of tech- and therefore the world around us- has been changing exponentially. And what person hasn’t been amazed by what we’ve achieved as a human race? But with innovation to that degree, we now live in a world where what we have is never good enough, and where money exists in creating the future. Before we get bored of a new technology, something bigger and better has been produced. People camp out in all weathers to be the first to get their hands on the latest gadgets. We all know someone who insists on buying the latest iPhone, spending thousands every year, purely to be able to say that they have it. Let’s face it, new gadgets can be exciting; moving images on a screen? Having a camera in our phones? Storing something in the cloud? What magical sorcery is this?

But with that comes a lot of change. And no one likes change. It’s a fact of life. Little innovations, yes, but big, huge, drastic change is never welcome. Unfortunately, in the world of tech, human instinct is rarely prioritised (this is why our screen-addicted children with all of the child-friendly apps have lesser social skills than us). Such is the case with legacy systems. When they first were created, they constituted a benchmark in the world of business and industrialisation. Suddenly, IT was more than manually putting numbers into a computer to systematically create graphs, it was running critical business operations such as general ledgers, inventory management and other back office systems. With legacy systems, key business activities could be done quickly and automatically, changing the focus of employees from mundane tasks to improving the organisation.

It will be zero surprise that the latest big, bold and brilliant innovation of the last ten years has been cloud. Organisations are waking up to the realisation that to stay ahead of the curve, and indeed keep up with the demands of customers, cloud and a cloud strategy is a major priority. We are smack-bang in the middle of the digital transformation revolution, and cloud is the ultimate destination, an essential business driver that is completely altering the world of industry. But one of the biggest challenges that face organisations yearning for cloud is their legacy systems. These siloed, inefficient and uneconomical systems are a towering behemoth to digital transformation that refuse to come into the 21st century.

They’re just plain difficult
One of the biggest barriers for migrating to cloud is the simple difficulty that a legacy system poses. One might think that maintenance costs would be minimal. With less upgrading, patching and training, legacy systems should be easy to replace and never think of again, right? Alas. Support for updates have become more challenging to come across as they reach end-of-life, and the ones that are available are usually quite expensive because of this. Legacy systems are also complex, fragile and about as flexible as concrete. Because they were created for another time, with a completely different set of parameters, they’re just disastrous in the face of the new, application-centric systems.

Security is not a priority
Oh boy, is security a problem when it comes to legacy systems. If your Data Protection Officer isn’t going prematurely grey and chain-smoking as soon as they walk into the building then someone should be worried. There wasn’t so much as a whisper of GDPR when legacy systems first became a thing, and because of this they’re way behind. This is an obvious one; updates and changes in IT are done to keep up and ahead of evolving security threats. After Wannacry, we know that cyber criminals are at Generation V when it comes to technical capabilities, and as it stands, even with improved cloud security most organisations are still at Gen III. Legacy systems are so behind they almost don’t figure on the Gen chart. And if you’re lucky enough to have a developer that’s willing to mastermind an update capable of patching major holes like Wannacry, it would be so late that the next disaster would be impending. Essentially, your legacy system is a disaster waiting to happen. But we can fix it, I promise.

It’s way behind on like, everything
If you are B2C and you’re relying on your legacy system to be in with the hip young consumers of today, you’re going to be in for a shock. Chances are, your competition may or may not be that new breed of internet-built company that began in a world where having an in-house data centre isn’t a thing. If anything, they probably don’t even know what a legacy system is. They didn’t exist when dial-up internet was the only option. Hell, they probably don’t even remember the pain of following the weak wifi signal to the top of the stairs to send an email only to sneeze and lose it again. So while they’re moving from new app to new update, optimising their performance with the latest Instagram or Windows 10 features, chatting away on instant messaging that you can’t achieve, your legacy system is restricting you and your potential.

You don’t have to be a prisoner of your legacy system, nor does it have to be super complicated. The thought of switching to a whole new way of doing something might seem scary, I know. It’s not easy to put all of your faith into an idea that you’ve never dealt with before, and the risks that you take while moving over. Luckily, here at Cetus, we’re pros. Register now for a free consultation with one of our senior solutions architects, they love a good challenge!

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Hybrid Cloud Orchestration pt 2: Hyperconvergence


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And we’re back! Who’s ready for Hybrid Cloud Orchestration part two?? If you’re not in the know (hey, we have a handy Twitter that you can follow to keep up to date with all of our blog posts), I was challenged a couple of weeks back to write a blog post on the elusive topic of hybrid cloud orchestration. After some grumbling, hair-pulling and half the day chain smoking in the sunshine, I finally got into the mood*. Surprisingly, orchestration wasn’t something completely made up by one of our alabaster techies who live in the server room**. It is an actual thing, and it’s a cool one too. I got a bit too excited with it and decided that splitting it into two posts would be nicer for everyone involved. So here we go, hybrid cloud orchestration and hyperconvergence. Go grab a coffee/tea, sit back and do try to contain your excitement.

Quick flashback to part one (for those of you who didn’t do your homework- I see you); in a nutshell, hybrid cloud orchestration is the answer to complexity. Too many sheep, not enough fences is the basic idea. Cloud enablement, if you want something more technical. More organisation, less panicking. Your IT team just needs to throw single sign on, MFA, mobility management and automated hybrid cloud provisioning at it and the complexity should all go away. Kind of. I’d recommend having a chat with one of our experts before you go throw anything anywhere though.

So, what’s the story with hyperconvergence? It’s a fairly new trend, combining compute, storage and networking in a software-driven appliance. Like orchestration, its main goal is to reduce complexity, so they’re a match made in heaven, really. It also adds greater levels of automation. The thing with orchestration is that with time it can be moulded into an effective solution. Hyperconvergence is a bit more elegant, providing practical solutions for organisations who want to manage and scale their own hardware from in-house. Don’t get me wrong, hybrid cloud orchestration is amazing. I don’t know why every IT solutions organisation doesn’t employ someone to shout it from the rooftops. However, while it is fantastic, it doesn’t provide the same level of technical infrastructure as hyperconvergence.

When it comes to the private cloud bit of hybrid cloud; hyperconvergence is another way approaching hybrid cloud orchestration. It eliminates the need for local hypervisor maintenance, or thinking about the hardware compatibility by installing on metal. It allows the customer to manage their local resources just like any other cloud resource, while also abolishing the need for disordered orchestration tools that are scattered across your infrastructure. Combining orchestration and hyperconvergence reduces time-intensive deployments for your engineers, removing the issue of virtualisation compatibility between old and new hardware.

If talking cloud and hyperconvergence excites you, make sure to have a chat with out HCI-mad experts!

*Grumbling, hair pulling and chain smoking is for comedic effect, I LOVE MY JOB!
**I’m running out of techie stereotypes, sorry.

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

Blog, Citrix, Cloud, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

The Importance of Analytics


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For a lot of people, analytics can be boring. When you have something like a hybrid cloud solution, you just want it to work and let you get on with what you need to do. Monitoring and responding to security and performance issues are important, but can be tedious. And let’s face it, if something is tedious, chances are you’re just going to put it on the long finger and hope that the last half an hour of the work day will be enough to get it sorted. To help with all this, let me introduce you to Citrix Application Delivery Management.

NetScaler is a highly intuitive piece of software, providing centralised network management, automation, analytics, orchestration (not quite sure about hybrid cloud orchestration? I’ve already written a great blog on the subject)…. All of these tools can help you to support the various applications deployed across your hybrid cloud and containerised infrastructures. You might find yourself asking these questions; is whatever Alan is doing on the network any different from what he would normally be doing? Does a particular workload normally speak to this other workload? Has user experience changed over time? What applications and data are being used the most? These are all questions that, for one reason or another, can be important to ask. With Citrix Cloud Analytics, our clients can ask these important questions (and plenty more). By deploying Application Delivery Management, it is possible to gain a deeper insight into what is happening in your hybrid cloud environment.

The world of business is ever-changing and always innovative. There are new and cool apps appearing every day, promising to not only make your tasks easier, but also keep you customers happy. That’s why it’s so important to embrace digital transformation. This digital transformation is changing the way that applications, much like the ones you use every day, are being developed and deployed. The last thing you want is application downtime, since it will cost you money, and lots of it. One of the biggest innovations in the world of tech? You guessed it; cloud. This wonderful, futuristic phenomenon allows the much more simplistic deployment of applications and data centres. And Citrix Application Delivery Management will help you to embrace all of the possibilities of cloud to make that big job of analytics as easy as possible. Who knows, you might be able to actually go on holiday for once and leave the crucial job of monitoring to your assistant. I swear, it’s possible.

There have been so many changes in recent years in application architectures, which have been prompting the need for changes in application delivery services technology. With increasing demands, applications have become much more complex, which results in more complicated availability and troubleshooting. Add in the cloud, and all of this becomes more difficult. Thankfully, Citrix Application Delivery Management is here to meet the needs of your IT team. We’re all trying to move to transform our IT infrastructures by moving to cloud. And with that, Application Delivery Management  provides much more control and visibility.

Citrix Application Delivery Management allows you to proactively manage user and application security threats, improve application performance and support continuous operations through actionable insights collected across Citrix offerings. It has been enhanced to provide valuable insight into the performance and security of your application delivery infrastructure from an application perspective, defining how they map onto the ADC configuration. This makes it easier for you to determine the state of an application, and therefore use an application-centric approach to easily collaborate with application owners. With its new application health score, Application Delivery Management summarises how well an application is performing based on an industry-standard APDEX scoring. This allows you to investigate instances of user satisfaction as well as other performance metrics and assessments of security threats.

If you’re looking for seamless integration with many leading orchestration platforms that you deploy to automate your data centre infrastructure, NetScaler has it all. More and more data centres are moving towards the cloud, working towards a fully SaaS-based infrastructure model (and I bet yours is too). With that, automating all of those supporting services will become more important. Citrix Application Delivery Management is API-driven, enabling orchestration and analytics across a lot of third-party platforms. It also allows easy management and orchestration of containerised services as well as automating NetScaler lifecycle management and provisioning. That’s a lot of automation that should make your life that much easier. You’re welcome.

If you want to keep up-to-date with what’s going on with Citrix, make sure to keep an eye on our events page where we regularly share workshops and webinars to keep you in the know!

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Hidden Costs and How to Avoid Them


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I was hit by a ‘hidden’ car once. I’d just dropped my daughter off at nursery and was turning right onto the main road, when I was unexpectedly hit by a car that was ‘hiding’ behind a bus. Dramatic stuff.

Having swapped insurance details I pondered how to explain the incident to my insurance company. I was pretty sure that my ‘hidden car’ explanation would be received with a degree of scepticism; mostly because the car wasn’t hidden – it was obscured, and I should have checked properly.

And so it is with ‘hidden costs’. They’re not usually hidden; instead they’re more usually obscure, unanticipated or, perhaps, buried within so much legal jargon that only a very diligent artificial intelligence program would find them. They can include: cloud network costs, annual software subscriptions, unexpected dependencies on other technologies and consumption-based pricing – to name but a few.

So, let’s start by renaming this blog to: “How to anticipate, mitigate and manage obscure, poorly correlated, unclear or unexpected costs”. That’s more like it.
We’ve been helping clients to, erm … anticipate, mitigate and manage obscure, poorly correlated, unclear or unexpected costs for over 17 years now; and we’ve learned a few things in the process. Here are a few simple steps that can help you to do the same:

Build a ‘Real World’ Business Case
Most vendors will be able to point you to their own ‘TCO/ROI Tool’. You know the drill: enter some statistics about how much you pay people and, as if by magic, their product will save you money.

That’s not how we do it. We work with clients to produce a real-world business case that reflects their circumstances; identifies all real (i.e. saveable) costs; and turns their business objectives into a technology set that delivers on these. The result is a highly personalised business case that can be used internally to engage stakeholders at all levels.

Avoid Vendor Lock-In
Choose technology vendors who embrace the principle of open systems; who recognise that their technology alone will not be the answer to all of your problems. By choosing the right technology partner, you can retain control of how you deploy significant elements of your infrastructure solution as circumstances change. Take Citrix for example: they work with partners, such as Microsoft, to ensure that their products are able to integrate, and to be optimised post implementation; allowing their clients to react to changing business requirements as the years unfold.

Make Optimisation a BAU Activity
3 years is a very long time in today’s IT landscape. Decisions made at the outset of a project can be out of date before implementation has even started. From new hardware releases to Microsoft’s constantly changing Azure server instance portfolio; it’s important to prioritise your ability to adopt change as a routine business as usual activity. If you’re not optimising the configuration of your infrastructure then you’re vulnerable to unanticipated costs.

At Cetus, we offer solution lifecycle services that encompass all of the above: our design, implementation, support and ongoing management services allow you to relax, safe in the knowledge that no ‘hidden’ costs will derail your IT or business strategies. Why not give us a call and find out how we can help you to plan your IT future with confidence?

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