There is so much to absorb at RSA Conference.  The largest gathering of security vendors, solution providers and practitioners in the U.S. certainly didn’t disappoint as the Moscone Center was buzzing with security education and of course lots of thought provoking conversations.

Many of the people I spoke with shared similar concerns of data breach risk, tighter compliance and auditing requirements, and their lack of visibility and control over the tools that people are using inside their organization to share files and data with other people.  IT leaders are feeling pressure (and rightfully so) to regain control over how people share files with other people.  It was also great hear so many people talking about migrating to the public and private clouds in order to take advantage of benefits such as quick provisioning and elasticity.

My favorite conversations at conferences are usually the ones I have with current customers…. And RSA was no exception.  Quite frankly, the key insights I learn from talking with customers help me do my job better.  Many thanks to the dozen or so Ipswitch customers that stopped by our booth and shared stories of how they have successfully consolidated and replaced the various homegrown file transfer tools and scripts, various vendor products, and manual processes they had been relying on with an Ipswitch MFT solution, resulting in improved efficiencies in their business processes as well as a simplified way to demonstrate compliance and consistently enforce security policies for all their file transfer and file sharing activities.

Leap Day occurs almost every four years on February 29th, and this year it’s finally a Leap Year! Leap years are years with 366 days as opposed to the usual 365, but why are Leap Days necessary? Leap Day are necessary because the actual length of a year is 365.242 days, not the standard 365, so by adding this day every four years, we are closer to keeping the calendar aligned with the earth’s annual trip around the sun, which takes about 365 and ¼ days. 

In addition to those individuals born on Leap Day anxiously awaiting the 29th to finally show up on the calendar this year, some businesses also have special plans.  For instance, Disney parks are celebrating the Leap Year with ‘One More Disney Day’ at Walt Disney World.  On February 29, Magic Kingdom Park and Disneyland Park will be open for 24 Hours to celebrate the day for the first time ever.

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Join the WhatsUp Guru, Jason Williams, and Andrew Dixon, VP of Marketing and Operations, IGLOO Software on Thursday, March 1, 2012 2pm-3pm EST as they discuss ‘Reaching Today’s Social Customer: New Tools & Strategies for Engaging & Retaining B2B Customers’. 

You will hear:
• How to establish, moderate, and nurture a social customer experience that is mutually rewarding and beneficial to both your customers and your business
• How to use social strategies and technologies to improve customer engagement, retention and support
• How to glean insights and measure the impact and results of social interactions with your customers

Register Now: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/812279706

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Last week I had the pleasure of joining Brian Jacobs, Senior Product Manager, at AITP (Association of Information Technology Professionals) Atlanta Chapter’s monthly dinner event.  If you haven’t heard of AITP before, I strongly recommend looking into and joining this community of IT professionals.  To give you just a little background, this is one of the longest running technology communities I have ever heard of.  The group was founded in Chicago by a group of machine accountants in 1951 and was originally called NMAA (National Machine Accountants Association).  Eleven years later, the members recognized the changing landscape of information processing, brought about by the introduction of the computer, and decided to change the name of the organization to the more progressive Data Processing Management Association (DPMA).  As the information technology industry continued to evolve, so did the organization, and in 1996 became the Association of Technology Professionals (AITP).  This is just a tiny glimpse into the history behind this organization.  I urge you to take a few minutes to read the full history of accomplishments and progression at the main AITP web site (links below).

Prior to the meeting actually starting, the majority of the members in attendance that night, made an effort to come over to us, introduce themselves and thank us for being there.  Now, I have spoken to many groups and I can honestly say that it is rare for an entire group to be so welcoming.  Typically, I am welcomed by the host of the event and they will always thank me for being there, but then when you scan the room, most folks have that look in their eye that screams “now what is this guy going to try and sell us tonight?”  Now I can only speak for the Atlanta Chapter, but these folks were genuinely interested in what ever Brian and I were going to yap about for 90 minutes that evening.

So what exactly did we talk about?  Brian started the evening off discussing the evolution of network monitoring technologies and techniques.  He brought up points around data hoarding, compliance regulations, what information is available from the different OSI layers and for everyone in attendance playing buzzword bingo, he also brought up the topic of SPOG (Single Pane of Glass).  Brian wrapped up his time talking about the major areas of Network Management.  Most of these areas can be easily mapped back to the OSI model, but at one point he told the audience that he was going to diverge from OSI and introduce them to the BMJ (Brian M Jacobs) Management Stack.  Just like OSI, the BMJ Management Stack consists of 7 layers; Network Discovery, Configuration Management, IP Address Management, Log Management, Virtualization Management, Traffic Analytics, Application Management and finally User Experience Monitoring.  My offering to the audience that night, besides the WUG swag, was to dive deeper into each layer of the BMJ Management Stack and give them 2 pieces of data for each layer.  The first piece would be a better understand of the benefits of paying attention to each of the layers.  The second was a list of things they needed to consider when looking for a new or even evaluating their current systems.

The response from the audience was great.  So much so, that we ended up sticking around for about an hour or so having side conversations about the various layers in the Stack.  On the drive home, the thought occurred to me that we should offer this material on a more broader scale.  So now I turn to you.  Would you be interested in attending a webinar or a series of webinars to learn more about the evolution of network management technologies and the BMJ Management Stack?

Looking forward to reading your comments.  And don’t forget to come say hi to me over on WUGspace.

AITP Links

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Are you attending RSA Conference next week in San Francisco?  If so, stop by booth #629 at the Moscone Center and say hello the Ipswitch team.

This will be my third year attending RSA.  Not only and I’m looking forward to talking about how Ipswitch’s portfolio of Managed File Transfer solutions can solve the problems you’re experiencing with your current file transfer and B2B environment….  But I’m also looking forward to learning about topics like security attacks, data breaches, mobile threats, cloud security, and compliance along with the other 15,000+ people attending the largest security conference in North America.

If you’re going to be at RSA this year, stop by our Ipswitch booth (#629) to learn how we can help you:

  • Mitigate security risks and data breach exposure.  We’ll show you how to secure and control all files/data moving between systems and people — both internally and externally
  • Reduce complexity by consolidating and replacing the various file transfer products, homegrown solutions, hard to maintain scripts, and tools people use to share files
  • Increases productivity and efficiency by automating manual and labor-intensive workflows with a simple point-and-click interface – No scripting required
  • Provide visibility and auditability into all data transfer and file sharing activities, including files, events, people, policies and processes

We hope to see you there.

Over 450,000 computers – including half of the Fortune 500 companies and over 50% of government entities – are still infected with the DNSChanger malware. Don’t be one of them! 

As you’ve probably heard (or maybe even experienced) the DNSChanger is a Trojan horse that changes the DNS settings on computers and routers to send users to malicious sites, which then steal personal information and generate illegal ad revenue for the scammers (we’re exhausted just thinking about it). In November 2011, the FBI took over the botnet’s rogue servers and replaced them; however, on March 8th the FBI will be shutting down the servers they put up in replacement of the rogue ones.

On March 8th, any machine still infected with the malware will be unable to get on the Web, send emails, or do anything else online. Luckily, WhatsUp Gold can help!

Flow Monitor will detect if any devices are still infected on your network. You can build a group containing the IP addresses listed below, and then add an alert for DNS traffic to this group. If you are infected with the DNSChanger, you can then run a report for all infected devices.

Potentially Rogue DNS Servers 

–85.255.112.0 – 85.255.127.255

–67.210.0.0 – 67.210.15.255

–93.188.160.0 – 93.188.167.255

–77.67.83.0 – 77.67.83.255

–213.109.64.0 – 213.109.79.255

–64.28.176.0 – 64.28.191.255

 

Take action before it’s too late – Find out if any of your devices are infected with your free 30-day trial of WhatsUp Gold!

The WhatsUp Gold team is happy to announce that Caitlin Buxton, Director of North American Channel Sales at Ipswitch Network Management Division, has been named one of CRN’s 2012 Channel Chiefs.  This prestigious list of the most influential and powerful leaders in the IT channel recognizes those executives directly responsible for driving channel sales and growth within their organization, while evangelizing and defending the importance of the channel throughout the entire IT Industry.

Caitlin Buxton recently returned to Ipswitch, Inc.’s Network Management Division after six years and is responsible for setting WhatsUp Gold’s North American Channel strategy and managing the channel organization to successfully execute on it. Caitlin joined the division from AVG Technologies where she served as Director of Channel Sales. In 2010, Caitlin was recognized by CRN as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women of the Channel. Since her return to Ipswitch, Buxton has restructured the direct sales team for full alignment with the channel account managers, including incentives for working with channel partners on finding and closing business. She has also led major recruitment efforts in the VAR and Solution Provider market. As part of this strategy, Ipswitch, Inc. will be launching a new partner program in 2012 with a more lucrative margin structure for Gold and Silver Partners based on performance, a new partner portal which will provide enhanced deal registration and lead referral programs, in addition to in-depth sales and technical certification programs.

Selected by CRN’s editorial staff, the 2012 Channel Chiefs list is featured in the February issue of CRN Magazine and will be featured online at www.crn.com.

WhatsUp IP Address Manager allows you to plan, document, and understand your entire IP space with an easy to use, cost effective, enterprise-ready IP address management solution. To learn more, visit: http://www.whatsupgold.com/ip-address-management/

As a product manager of an integrated solution suite, it’s interesting to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between traditional systems management (OS deployment, inventory, software delivery, patching, monitoring) and its major trends (security, virtualization, cloud, efficient data centers) with network management (deployment and configuration, backup/restore, monitoring, traffic analysis, Quality of Service) and networking trends (mobile devices, cloud, virtualization, larger networking demands). There are many similarities between these two IT focus areas and I will “blog” about several aspects as I tie-in and compare systems management with network management over the next year. One similarity that is particularly easy to spot and “leaps off the page” for me relates to discovery. In fact, it ALL starts with discovery.

By obtaining a complete and accurate discovery of your networking “stuff,” you will gain immediate benefits. The first premise here is that, until you know what you have (i.e. your stuff), where it is, and how it is connected, you cannot determine the best course of action to improve services, plan for new capacity, uptime, planned outages, or anything for that matter. Performing a regularly scheduled discovery of your devices will provide benefits that trickle into every other aspect of network management, and IT services in general.

The second premise is that the discovery process should be automated. Let’s face it, we live in a day and age where automation can and should be your best friend. Automation allows an IT administrator to remove the mundane and really boring daily tasks from his/her “to-do” list and to focus on things that add value. Back in the late 90’s, while working in IT at a local private liberal arts college, we performed what I call a “clipboard” inventory 2 times a year. The fact was that our manual inventory was inaccurate the moment we left the professor’s office. Add to that the notion that we could only gather some of the most basic inventory details: CPU, RAM, Network card, Add/Remove Programs. The level of detail that can be obtained today in an automated fashion is very complete and can be adapted to gather almost any piece of electronically stored information on a device. Don’t waste any more time doing manual discovery/inventories!

The third premise is that you need a management system that provides “out-of-the-box” reporting and mapping capabilities that easily and intuitively show discovered devices, their attributes, and their connectivity.  The system should allow the flexibility to generate your own custom reports as needed. As a really cool bonus feature, the reports and maps should also dynamically update as new discoveries are performed so that you not only know how your network looks like right now but also easily visualize to how it is performing.

Imagine going from a world of clipboard inventory, 2 times a year, to a fully automated discovery complete with a dynamically updated map of your network. Does it get any better than that? Possibly not, but then again the only constant with technology is change.

As we begin our discussion on how to provide great IT services, I hope you will start to think about, and hopefully act upon, the premise that “it ALL starts with discovery”.

P.S. As a public service announcement, I am providing you with a product link that can dramatically assist with the process of discovery/mapping and meets every requirement I describe above.  Visit WhatsUpGold Network Discovery for more details.

LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER & WIN!

IT Management Best Practices in Europe – Live Webinar

  • Tuesday, February 21st
  • 1pm GMT
  • REGISTER

Join us for some best practices on making the most of your infrastructure, and learn how IT management is a holistic approach involving not just deep network visibility, but many other areas including log data retention and configuration management. We’ll cover:

  • Data retention best practices to address Data Protection legislation
  • Network security best practices
  • Layer 2 discovery and mapping
  • Network/traffic monitoring
  • And more!

One lucky recipient of a $100 Amazon gift card will be announced at the end of the webinar!

REGISTER NOW!

IT Management Best Practices in Europe – Live Webinar

  • Tuesday, February 21st
  • 1pm GMT
  • REGISTER

The economic crisis has taken a harsh toll on Europe, and the IT department is no different. As an IT manager, you are forced to do more with less, bringing agile solutions into the mix that emphasize automation while cutting down on the bottom line.

Join us for some best practices on making the most of your infrastructure, and learn how IT management is a holistic approach involving not just deep network visibility, but many other areas including log data retention and configuration management. We’ll cover:

  • Data retention best practices to address Data Protection legislation
  • Network security best practices
  • Layer 2 discovery and mapping
  • Network/traffic monitoring
  • And more!

One lucky recipient of a $100 Amazon gift card will be announced at the end of the webinar!

REGISTER NOW!

Education IT systems seem to have a large target on their back these days.  According to an October, 2010 McAfee study, universities and colleges rank number 1 in the ‘Top 10 Riskiest Places to Give Your Social Security Number’.  Cyber crooks are attracted to the vast pools of personal data available on university and educational IT systems.  And unlike typical commercial organizations, universities and schools can’t simply lock the doors in the evening and feel assured that their network is somewhat secure.  Open buildings and computer lab environments complicate the physical security policies for these institutions.  As a result, “State schools and universities are among the most likely government agencies to suffer data breaches.”

Breaches seem to be a continuous part of the news headlines these days, but one article in particular caught my eye in the last few weeks.  In mid-January, a California city college notified more than 13,000 students and employees about a specific breach that was discovered in late November.  The breach was identified when the IT department found gaps in the data logs of a server that was located in a campus computer lab.  After investigating these gaps, they found a virus that had existed on the college’s system since 1999…more than a decade.  And during the investigation, they found transmissions that had been sent to Russia, China and several other countries; however the college hasn’t confirmed what type of data was sent in these transmissions.

As our schools add new devices to the network, making it more complex, it is harder to manage and control.  How can education institutions that are struggling to control costs mitigate these risks within their expanding networks while protecting their student and employee’s data?  Abnormal behavior often provides the best insight to network administrators needing prevent breaches and system failures. Cost-effective solutions exist that can help institutions watch their network for unusual behavior that may include:

  • Unconventional network traffic patterns
  • Unauthorized access attempts
  • Resource utilization spikes
  • Unauthorized configuration changes

To learn more about these IT Management best practices for Education, please listen to our latest webcast that provides insight into mitigating data breach risks or download our best-practice white paper.