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World Backup Day 2019: Losing Data in the Cloud


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Happy World Backup Day 2019 everyone! Or, as we call it here at Cetus, World ‘Your Systems Shouldn’t Have Gone Down In The First Place’ Day. We say that, because backups are probably one of the most important things you can do your organisation. You know how you feel when you’re strapped for cash and you’d forgotten that you’d popped a £20 into the little zip-up pocket in your bag ages ago? It’s like a little present to future you from past you. Those kinds of presents are important to show yourself how much you care about you. It’s the ultimate love, really. And trust me, you’ll get that same fuzzy feeling- and a whole tonne of relief- when disaster strikes and you’re the one who planned for it. It’s nice to be the hero of the office every once in a while. So, now that you’ve received the obligatory Public Service Announcement (backup today so that you won’t be the April’s Fool tomorrow), lets get into the gritty stuff; losing your data in the cloud.

“What?!” you mutter at me. I’m not crazy, stick with me on this. Trust me, I’m as horrified as you are. Surely, surely, the whole point of the cloud is to pop important stuff in there and sit back and relax as your office/laptop/briefcase burns, knowing that all you have to do is get your hands on another device, log in, and forget about the flames behind you. Ah, you’d be mistaken. Losing your data- even when it’s stored in the cloud- is entirely possible, and it happens more often that you think. And it’s not just Google Drive or Dropbox, it’s your favourite, and critical, SaaS apps.

It happens to all of us; you’re looking through a cluttered folder of documents trying to find something specific and it just gets a bit too much. There are some really useless files in there, clogging up your workspace. Half of the useless ones haven’t been edited or opened in the last five years. Why keep them? There, all deleted. You’re feeling more zen already. If deleting useless files feels this good, maybe it’s time to turn to the minimalist life. Who needs forty different suits? Two will do. Same with shoes. Donate all those old books, DVDs, CDs, the box of unwanted presents from your evil mother in law. You feel the calm setting in, life is that much brighter. Until your manager/supervisor/boss asks you for a particularly important file that you realise, in sudden horror, you deleted in a moment of deranged thinking. Oops. Maybe you need that clutter after all. Other times, you might be collaborating on a project in Sharefile and someone doesn’t pay attention and clicks ‘trash’. Or, that project that you started 12 months ago and was scrapped? Well it turns out it’s received another green light. Too bad you deleted all the work in a moment of frustration and defiance.

But sometimes it’s not you, it’s the SaaS app itself. No, it doesn’t have an agenda against you. They hold large amounts of data that are bombarded with edits and additions. Overwriting is a pretty common issue for SaaS applications, especially when large data sets are imported into the app via a bulk upload. There can also be an issue or two when third-party applications are used to manage the data inside the base SaaS app. A bit like having two opposing football teams. They’re there to do a job, but they’ll slide tackle each other every so often to show dominance.

And then there’s always that absolute twit in the corner who’s always up to something. You know the one; comes in late, the first one out, takes an extra twenty minutes on their break. Does the absolute minimum just to keep the Powers That Be happy. Well, this very person could also delete their own files. Why? Maybe they quit. Or maybe they think that they’re going to get kicked out. Or maybe the feud between them and your manager (the basis of all the office gossip) has reached the point where they just delete important documents out of spite. Whatever it is, those files are unrecoverable, they’re going to hop on over to the next job, and you’re the one who will have to run around picking up the pieces and trying to fit them all together again, before the customer/your scary boss finds out. Not all ‘accidental deletion’ is accidental.

Organisations like yours are so reliant on your IT infrastructure and you depend on seamless access to it anytime. If it all went down you’d probably end up with an office full of expensive, and sleek-looking, paperweights. And the amount of business data your organisation will realistically produce in the next ten years will grow exponentially. With every file created in your business, the more complex and important your infrastructure becomes. And it’s the very same instance for cloud. As I wrote before, at Cetus we take backup and Disaster Recovery very seriously. So much so that we actually have a whole branch to our organisation, Continuum, which is devoted to DRaaS and backups. Traditional disaster recovery methods are basically a series of fallible, interconnected steps. Think about tapes; they don’t exactly stand up over time. Increasing backup windows prevent complete backups being produced. The availability of sufficient compute and storage resource to provide a complete recovery target. Skilled resources not available to enact a recovery or conduct regular tests of the disaster recovery plan. It’s a domino effect of time delays and uncertainty in the case of a disaster. With Continuum, you can tick off several key functions that your organisation needs. We provide a fully-managed failover, regardless of whatever level of backup, archiving and disaster recovery you require. Testing is important, no matter where your data is stored. Continuum completes tests on whatever regularity you require, using a combination of automation and specialist knowledge of your environment. It’s also scalable (what isn’t in the ideal cloud world?), so Continuum will grow with you as your organisation grows over time. By providing business continuity and disaster recovery, you know that, even in the cloud, your data is safe.

Now that I’ve set the panic in you, (and hopefully given you the magic antidote), have a chat with our Continuum backup specialists, tell them that I sent you, and know that you’ll never be an April’s Fool again!

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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, Continuum, IT Solutions, Security, Technology, Uncategorized

How to Develop an Effective Cyber Security Strategy


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We thought 2017 was particularly bad for cyber security threats. WannaCry (on which I’ve only just gone and written a one-year update), Peyta/NotPeyta…. The monthly rate of ransomware attacks against UK organisations increased up to 10 times the rate of 2016. But 2018 is set to beat every record made in 2017. In January alone, there were 7,073,069 attacks on UK organisations, and that number is set to soar throughout the rest of the year. The threat that a cyber attack poses is only getting worse. There were constant instances of security breaches being plastered over the news in the first half of this year alone; Ticketmaster, University of Greenwich and Timehop are only a handful of high-profile examples. So it’s not really a surprise that security and risk management were rated the most important priority in 2018 for CIOs in NASCIO’s November 2017 survey.

Panicked? Sorry, you weren’t supposed to be. In reality, all organisations- big or small- should expect a security breach at some time or another. There’s no way of avoiding it, but there is a way of being prepared. I’ll stop waffling on and get to the good stuff; how you can develop a cyber security policy and improve your best practices so that when disaster strikes, you’ll already be sorted. Mostly. (And if you do happen to face/be facing a security breach I’ve got you covered)

If you’ve got software and systems, update!
It’s really a no-brainer; IT needs to be updated regularly. Maybe in the 90s or early 00s you could get away with only updating whenever you happened to fancy the latest version of Windows to replace your current Windows 95, but it’s not the case now. With the internet, automatic updates are here to stay- whether we find them an annoyance or life-saving. Windows 10 only has two major updates a year and countless little ones that improve so much about the platform- including its security. After all, it was a dodgy unpatched Windows system that started the whole WannaCry debacle. So guys, make sure you update!

Understand the cyber security risk in relation to your organisation
Your organisation depends on a lot of things. Digital processes, data, systems, and your employees mastering the trick of gossiping and doing their work. All of these (minus the employee issue) are vulnerable to being manipulated. The whole point of a robust cyber security strategy is to protect them against fraud, theft of sensitive data and business disruption- along with the risk to your reputation along with it all. Your entire organisation has to work together to protect these vital processes from the threat. Thankfully, here at Cetus, we understand just how important it is to keep everything ticking along smoothly. In fact, we offer a complimentary security posture review to ensure that your business has the necessary security that it needs. We analyse where your organisation is exposed to security risks and provide you with recommendations on how to address them. Our finished report will analyse your network traffic to detect security threats; malware infections, usage of high-risk web applications, intrusion attempts, loss of sensitive data…. The list goes on. It will also evaluate your organisation’s end-point security, focusing on mobile management, user rights management, advanced end-point protection, patch and user rights management, and enterprise file sync and share. Importantly, the report will assess any threats posed from within your infrastructure – east-west traffic, privileged user access and user access rights. Basically, your entire infrastructure will be analysed to make sure that as little of the bad stuff as possible can breach your systems.

Taking a look at your social engineering
This is an interesting one. If you’ve never heard of this before, it’s basically GDPR handling in the office. We’ve all been panicking as we worked towards the deadline on May 25th, but privacy protection doesn’t just end there. Social engineering can be the simple calling out of a password to another co-worker behind them, or the more serious incident of pulling up a website at work and volunteering passwords and other vital information that can end up in the wrong hands. Hell, someone on the end of a phone saying the right things with the right amount of confidence could potentially sweet-talk the more trusting to give out a piece of information- and sometimes that’s all they’ll need.

Perform regular data backups
I’ll try and keep this one quick because here at Cetus we rabbit on about them all the time. Backups are great. Should you have the misfortune of having a ransomware attack, having a copy of the data that’s held hostage can be a life saver. Firstly, you’ll know exactly what data the hackers have- or if they gained access to personal information that could cause problems-, and you won’t have to worry about data loss regardless of whether you pay the ransom or not. Backups; if you haven’t got them sorted what are you waiting for?! With so many types of backups to choose from, from tape to replication (we suggest keeping up with the times and trying out Continuum), there’s no excuse not to have that sweet disaster recovery/business continuity plan in place.

Lock everything up tight
There’s no point in having the best firewalls money can buy, along with the most secure cyber security solution, and cyber attack just-in-case plan of action if a criminal can just waltz through the front door and calmly collect all of your information on a USB. If your sever room (or server part of the floor as the case may be) isn’t locked up tighter than Alcatraz then eventually there’ll be a problem. Remember, not everyone in the office needs access to the servers!

These are the most basic points to note for a cyber security strategy. Cyber threats are real and preventing attacks will always be a better alternative to reacting to one after it has breached your infrastructure. One of the most important in the list is understanding the cyber security risk in relation to your business. Make sure to book a complimentary security posture review today, and take the biggest step towards securing your infrastructure or speak to one of our cyber security experts today.

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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, Check Point, Cloud, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Security, VMware

WannaCry: What We’ve Learned One Year On


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It felt like the world was held to ransom. All over the globe – an astounding 150 countries in fact -, little red boxes popped up on computer screens, causing dread and havoc. ‘Ooops, your files have been encrypted!’ they read, asking for between $300 and $600 (£230 to £470) in bitcoin for the safe release of the files. On Friday May 12th 2017 nations of the world collectively gasped as these faced the most devastating and widespread cyber security incident at that time. Over 200,000 machines were affected, with the perpetrators scamming over $112,000.

In Britain, the NHS was hit the hardest. The little red WannaCry pop-up appeared at 1pm on the screens of only four trusts, demanding the ransom. By 4pm, when the ‘kill switch’ was accidentally found, it had spread to 16 trusts. The cyber-attack threat was officially ‘stepped down’ by NHS England a week later, but not before the affected reached a staggering 80 out of 236 hospital trusts as well as 603 primary care and affiliate NHS organisations. Public health in the UK was seriously affected, since the ransomware attack resulted in thousands of cancelled appointments, infected systems and the diversion of A&E patients to other hospitals.

In hindsight, and a little bit of digging, it was a disaster waiting to happen. The NHS had been warned as far back as 2014 that their level of cyber security just wouldn’t cut it. With a failure to undertake the most basic of IT security procedures, which included patching and updating software, as well as not putting a strategy in place to properly deal with a cyber security incident, it’s a miracle that it didn’t happen sooner. But it was a huge wake-up call, not only to the NHS but to businesses globally. No longer would cyber security rest on the hopes of a flimsy firewall that hadn’t been updated in several years – this is a real risk, with significant consequences. So, in the year since WannaCry, what exactly have we learned?

It’s horrifying to think that WannaCry was a Gen-V cyber threat, while according to Check Point’s Cyber Security Generations Survey from March 2018, only 10% of IT security professionals are at Gen-IV and, worse still, only 3% are at Gen-V.

According to a recent report by cyber security firm Tanium, most organisations would still be unprepared should another incident like WannaCry happen again. The survey of 500 frontline IT security workers in the UK is shocking; 40% admit that their organisation is even more exposed than last year. Only 31% confessed that their organisation had invested in new security systems since WannaCry. As I stated already slightly higher up, it was basic IT security procedures that were the gateway for WannaCry, yet a staggering 66% of the IT security workers admitted that they still hadn’t improved their patch management process.

The results are definitive; it’s time to start safeguarding against further, potentially more devastating, cyber-attacks.

It’s all about the patching
WannaCry sneaked through a Windows weakness where there was a lack of security. Shockingly, it had been discovered and there had been a patch for the offending loophole two months before the attack. I know having to update is a major pain, but guys, it just needs to be done. WannaCry was a Microsoft Windows ransomware, a software that locked the files by encrypting them. This particular ransomware was particularly nasty because it was network enabled, which allowed it to essentially spread like a virus throughout not only the local network, but the internet as well. What your organisation needs right now is a patch management solution in place to patch for known vulnerabilities as soon as they arise, so that no little malware buggers can infiltrate your systems.

Backup, backup again, and verify
Had your organisation been hit with the WannaCry malware and you’d had all of your data backed up, you’d have been laughing – for the most part. Regardless of encrypting malware potentially hitting you, backups are critical for all things disaster recovery and business continuity. Whether it be tape or cloud (like Cetus Continuum), all of your data needs to be replicated somewhere safe. Regardless of where you store it (and we really do suggest cloud), it should all be encrypted. Security is, after all of this, a priority.

Use all of the threat intelligence and prevention
If you haven’t heard, micro-segmentation is really in right now. Which is really great in the face of cyber security. Life may be like a box of chocolates, but your data centre needs to be more like a hotel and protect itself from east/west traffic. This next point is important; invest in some good threat intelligence and threat security. At the moment, we’re working with Check Point and VMware to highlight how merging Infinity and NSX can create the ideal security solution to protect you.

Figure out where you stand with a security posture review
There are hundreds of ways to fall foul of a cyber-attack in this day and age. With work no longer confined to the office, mobile workspaces have become all the rage – and for good reasons. Being able to work while on the field instead of having to wait to get back to the office, being able to work from home, or just simply being able to sort out an urgent matter when on holiday is revolutionary. And everyone’s trying to get into it. However, using some random Wi-Fi is always a risk. Honestly, you’ve not lived until you stand outside an O2 store trying to rob a second of Wi-Fi to send an email. In the rain. But how secure is that? A security posture review is essential to identify where your security has slipped. And it just so happens that we offer complimentary security posture reviews, where we analyse network traffic to detect a variety of security threats, evaluate end-point security, assess any threats that lurk in your infrastructure as well as other crucial little things. Have a chat with our experts to see where the danger can find a way in.

One thing is for definite; cyber security has never been so important, and making sure that your IT reflects that is the way to protect yourself as much as possible from an attack. It’s important to be proactive in your cyber security, or you’ll be reacting to a security breach instead.

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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, Continuum, Technology, Uncategorized

Keeping Up With The Backup Trend


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It’s 2018. IT is evolving at the speed of light. Our mobile phones can do just about everything and still fit in the palm of our hands. We’re talking about 5G data and the possibility of never having to think about broadband again. Scientists are predicting holidays on Mars, being able to travel in drones and creating huge underwater cities- that we could live in. So obviously, in our little corner of computing, all things IT solutions are moving at the speed of light, right?

Right! IT solutions are keeping up and ahead of trends and security risks, while creating new and improved ways to work and use our mobile devices- and this is every day. And this includes backups.

Disaster recovery, business continuity, backups; we all know how important it is to have copies of our data ‘just in case’. And the most prolific of those is,- and has been for over sixty years-; the humble tape. But why? Surely, surely, some IT geek out there has come up with something better, cheaper, more reliable- I don’t know, digital? It’s crazy that in a world where Netflix replaces DVDs and Sky, and Spotify replaces cassette/vinyl/CD collections, we can still be storing our entire businesses onto tape en masse. Especially when we have other options to keep things safe; USB, replication, CDs? So why, with all the new advances in tech, are we still using tape?

Tape does have its limitations, there’s no doubt about that. If a file gets corrupt, you’re stuck; any error and your data will be unrecoverable. Tape can be lost; fire and floods will most definitely disagree with them. If you haven’t a good enough backup you could lose a significant amount of data. Hardware failure, poof. Gone. And if you want to be extra safe and store your backup tapes in a separate location, say to avoid losing everything in the case of a building flood or fire, the time it would take to transport all of those servers would be a cost in and of itself.

Thankfully, the future has arrived. The answer to the modern question; replication.

Replication is the copying of an organisation’s data and then moving it between that organisation’s sites. Unlike a tape backup, replication only stores a ‘snapshot’, keeping the most recent copy saved, instead of the file’s history. But, while it is expensive, it is more in tune with business continuity; should your original system go down, it can take only milliseconds (if you’ve a good one) to switch to the second site- even if it’s hundreds of miles away. You shouldn’t even notice the switch. For all businesses, this is a crucial factor; time offline can cost hundreds of thousands, even if only for a few hours.

Continuum is Cetus Solutions’ answer to all things backup. It comprises four distinct but interconnected elements to give you the best experience in backup. A local Veeam backup solution will gather backups and provide you with a local backup and restore repository. A local cloud backup will provide you with the optimum offsite cloud location for the local repository to target. A backup archive provides a long-term, deep archive repository for replicated backups. And finally, hot running provides the ability for the client’s infrastructure to be run in the Cetus Continuum Cloud. It was designed with your business needs in mind, addressing business continuity challenges that you haven’t even thought of yet;

1. Full infrastructure recovery- and not just data.
For every well-defined disaster recovery plan, there is a focus on data. And this is the focus of Continuum; recovering and protecting the underlying server and desktop infrastructure to make sure that your data remains secure and accessible is one of our top priorities after a disaster, just as much as getting your business back on its feet.

2. We test. A lot.
Testing once a year is no good. You know that, we know that. In the face of a disaster, knowing that everything was hunky-dory when we tested it out a year ago just isn’t going to cut it when you’re having issues now. So we automatically verify and check the integrity of each virtual backup server on its way to the cloud. On top of that, we perform a full recovery test on a regular basis to suit your business needs, that way you just know that if something were to happen, we’ll have you back up and running with minimal disruption. That’s true peace of mind.

3. Fully. Managed. Service.
You read that correctly. Cetus Continuum provides you with not only the state-of-the-art technology, but a whole team of IT professionals who are working behind the scenes to make your business float. We’re on hand 24 hours a day to make sure that your replications and backups are completed successfully each day, and initiate the recovery process in the face of a disaster. So you know that we’re behind you at all times, ready and waiting to come save the day. You could almost call us superheroes.

4. A holistic backup and recovery solution.
What we do at Continuum isn’t rocket science, it’s basic sense. Our ‘secret’? We combine a local backup repository with our secure cloud repository. Tah dah! Because we do it this way, Cetus Continuum provides local file and VM restoration- either under your control or ours, whichever suits you best-, restoration from our cloud or full infrastructure and workspace recovery in our cloud.

We do rave and rave about backups at Cetus. We know that while it is such an important part of your IT, it’s one of those niggly bits that you can easily ignore and put on the long finger- until disaster strikes and you kick yourself for not having sorted it out sooner.
So have a quick chat about Continuum with our experts today and step into the 21st century’s answer to backup.

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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.

Uncategorized

Had Your Disaster Yet? Well That’s OK Then, Isn’t It?


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We have all done it. At one point or another, we have all personally been a victim of losing data, a document, contact numbers, or even an entire desktop through ignorance to take backing up seriously. It can be a painful mistake to make, but try to imagine what the consequence would be if an entire business did not have a backup solution in place – the disruption is incomprehensible and costly.

For that reason, disaster recovery (DR) is an increasingly prevalent topic in IT today. When businesses speak about disaster recovery often it is insinuated that these solutions are in place ‘just in case’ of natural disaster or terrorist attack for example, but in actual fact, disaster recovery is about mitigating the detrimental impact of any unplanned incident – whether this be a cyber-attack, equipment failure, or even human error.

The reality is such that businesses have become reliant on their IT infrastructure, and seamless access to data, applications and desktop. So much so, it is unthinkable to operate without – for any length of time. Backup and DR solutions are in place to provide the utmost assurance to businesses that they can recover to ‘business as usual’ in an efficient way to minimise disruption to the wider business.

It therefore comes as no surprise that an increasing number of conversations we are having at the moment are centred on backup, archiving and DR. We predict that over the next 10 years this will become even more important as the amount of data businesses are creating and consuming will grow at an alarming rate. It’s anticipated that the number of files used by a single business will multiply by a factor of 75, whilst the amount of data that businesses consume will exceed 50 times what it is today.

As a result, a business’s footprint of intellectual property and data will form the lifeblood of business operations and access to these will be even more critical than it is today. Losing access to this will absolutely not be an option for many businesses.

An untested backup is not worth anything.
Bearing this in mind, even more surprising than no DR strategy at all is an untested DR strategy. Regularly we ask businesses how often they are able to conduct a full (and realistic) enactment of their business continuity plan. The overwhelming response is that the majority have not tested their DR solution due to resource, time and cost constraints and, consequently, have no idea whether the solution would meet expectations in the event of an actual outage.

However, the increasingly complex our IT solutions get – with an increasingly assortment of servers, data, applications and desktops – in many cases will result in a decreased ability to recover from an incident. Forrester research suggests that in 2007, 30% of businesses could recover from disruption in less than one hour, compared to only 2% in the increasingly complex and IT-centric environments we operate in today.

Transforming recovery objectives into actuals.
From the businesses we speak to, many appear to be hanging their hat on ‘recovery time objectives’ and ‘recovery point objectives’ however, why have an objective – that in most cases is never ratified – when you can have an actual? This is where Continuum is different…

Continuum – Cetus’ managed backup, archiving and DR service – provides recovery assurance in the shape of recovery time actuals. With a minimum of monthly testing, Continuum automates and tests DR procedures that allow flawless failover in the event of an incident – whilst giving you quantitative evidence of how long you would take to recover from an unplanned incident.

A single solution for the ultimate assurance.
Whilst many solutions on the market provide a level of protection for a business’s server infrastructure – consequently allowing them to recover back-end functionality – many fail to consider their users’ desktop environment and the importance of having up-to-date client software to connect to the back-end servers.

Continuum allows user desktops to protected in the same manner is the server infrastructure; enabling complete testing and restoration of this critical element. Based on simple regular subscriptions, our cloud-based solution gives you the confidence that your backup requirements are fulfilled from a secure location, backed by accurate SLAs, trusted technology, expertise and experience – providing you with scalable solution that will mitigate risk and uncertainty for your business.

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