Today Sony brings us the SmartWig, the latest in wearable technology. It has filed a patent application and claims it can be worn “in addition to natural hair”. It will be able to process data. And communicate wirelessly with other external devices. Wearable technology has gone to Sony’s head.

Consumers could use the SmartWig to navigate roads or check blood pressure. The wig will also have practical uses in business. Sony says it can change slides in a presentation by simply raising an eyebrow.

wearable technology
Who’s going to be the spokesperson for the SmartWig?

As silly as it sounds, companies like Google, Sony and Samsung are working under the belief that wearable technology will be a money maker.  Gartner predicts the global wearable computing market could be worth $10 billion in just two years. Juniper Research estimates the market will reach $19 billion in five years.

How does this apply to you? Here are a few ways wearable technology could impact your network.

BYOD

Consider SmartWigs, watches, glasses and gloves as commonplace as iPhones and Droids. I wear my Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch to work everyday. Wearable gadgets need to pair with an original device like a phone or tablet. This will essentially multiply the number of devices accessing your network. Your wireless bandwidth may take a hit. It will be important to monitor networks for bandwidth hoarders. You don’t want wearable technology slowing down access to critical business applications.

Security

Google Glass enables the wearer to record everything that he/she sees. Similarly, smartwatches have cameras and recording facilities. Discreetly transferring sensitive data outside the network could become as easy as a flick of the wrist or the scratch of an ear. Event and log management could be used for real-time and forensic analysis.

Don’t wig out. Wearable technology is not at the top of many Christmas wish lists this year. What if Gartner and Juniper are close to correct? It may be worth a pause to think about how it may affect network performance and security.

 

 

 

 

 

IT professionals seek affordable network monitoring solutions. They’re not interested in trusting free tools to do the work*. Nor do they need to pay a lot of money to get what they need.

How do we know this? Well, we talk to our customers a lot and listen to what they have to say. We also issued a survey through Redmond Magazine taken by more than 300 IT pros who work for organizations with 100+ employees. The survey focused on IT monitoring technology and related priorities.

IT monitoring
Source: 2013 Redmond Magazine IT Management Survey

Only 15 percent of all respondents use free IT monitoring tools, while 63 percent purchase them and install them onsite. Only 14 percent use IT monitoring software as a service.

When it came down to price, 65 percent noted it was “very important” in their decision making process because of a limited budget. 31 percent noted that price is “somewhat important”. These folks are willing to trade off functionality for price. Four percent don’t look at the price tag as long as the product gives them what they want. They might want to call IBM or CA.

We asked the IT pros to share their highest IT monitoring priorities:

  • Consolidation of monitoring tools into a single view: 32%
  • More sophisticated management of important applications: 26%
  • Better control over bandwidth: 25%
  • Better management of wireless networks: 16%
  • All of the above: 40%

The last figure caught our attention. A good number of respondents considered tool consolidation, better application management, and better wireless control to be one single priority.

We also asked the pros to share their biggest IT monitoring headaches:

  • Lack of a unified view: 30 %
  • Getting the most out of their tools: 27%
  • Coordinating information from different tools: 23%
  • Isolating root cause: 10%
  • Not an issue, IT monitoring is consolidated: 10%

You can’t underestimate the importance of a gaining a single view into your network.

*Allow me to be more clear here. For companies with under 100 employees, free network monitoring tools can do a fine job.

 

pgp file transfer encyrptionWhen you’re moving files containing sensitive information, you want to make sure it’s encrypted and not available to prying eyes, whether the data is at rest or in motion. A proven way to protect files before, during, and after transfer is via PGP file encryption. In this post, I’ll go through key considerations for PGP, as well as the importance of integrity checking.

First a brief definition of PGP: this program for encryption and decryption uses a public key model. In this model, one party shares the key with other parties to encrypt the data, and then uses the private key to decrypt the data. Here is an expanded definition of PGP.

Now on to five areas to consider for PGP:

1) Don’t let PGP bog down processes. Perhaps your company wants to maintain its current processes involving PGP or needs to continue supporting PGP because your business partners use it. No matter how PGP is being used as part of the file-transfer process, it’s important to ensure that the process doesn’t get slowed down because of the signing, encryption, decryption and key exchange steps.

2) Make it easy to use PGP. Many PGP libraries – and the associated encrypting/decrypting process – are command-line driven. As a result, it can be tedious to use them. But some products allow you to manage PGP from a GUI, which is a desirable option for most organizations and users who need to manage the process.

3) Ensure interoperability. In addition, you want to ensure you can easily and securely share files with any company. To do that, you not only need to support their encryption method of choice, but all possible encryption libraries. The OpenPGP file encryption standard enables interoperability between most libraries, and is the preferred choice these days for PGP, so look for a solution that supports this.

4) PGP is optional. Organizations that adopt managed file transfer often recognize the ability to eliminate PGP encryption from the equation because they understand their files are being secured at the transport layer. That said, make sure your solution is using the strongest possible SSL or TLS ciphers during data transport.

5) Rule out file tampering. Part of ensuring files are securely transferred is to be able to validate that transferred files have not been compromised in any way either before, during or after transfer. Integrity checking uses hashing to verify that the file sent from the source is the same file received. In other words, it allows you confirm that the file’s contents have not changed between the time it was sent and received – or during its subsequent storage.

You can perform integrity checking when using PGP if the sender signs the data. Look for a solution that lets you log all authentication integrity-checking details so you have an audit trail.

Managed File Transfer & PGP
Advanced file transfer solutions take measures to address these concerns. Specifically, Managed File Transfer (MFT) systems can aid with PGP encryption and decryption by offering easy-to-use key management that allows administrators to import, export and create keys from a simple user interface. From there, these solutions should allow administrators to easily create automated processes with just a couple clicks to encrypt or decrypt files on a scheduled or event-driven basis. And they should make it possible to do all this while being fully audited and logged in one system.

Want to learn more about encryption, person-to-person file transfer, compliance, logging, and central management? Download this free eBook .

By the time a network manager at a Midwestern U.S. non-profit organization called us for help, his 5 year-old wireless infrastructure was buckling under BYOD. Employees trying to work during lunch were complaining that their applications were slowing or even failing to operate.

AirBender-BYODHe suspected the people who were trying to work were being affected by others listening to Pandora or watching YouTube from their personal devices while having lunch. But he just didn’t the ability have to confirm it. If he couldn’t control the use of wireless bandwidth he’d have to start paying his ISP a lot more money just to keep up.

An Ipswitch sales engineer listened to his story and suggested WhatsUp Gold to monitor his network, and Flow Monitor to analyze and manage network traffic and bandwidth utilization. Less than a day after downloading the products, a sysadmin on the network manager’s team shared a graph that showed midday spikes in wireless bandwidth consumption.

The sysadmin had used WhatsUp Gold to create and enforce BYOD and wireless network policies. The product’s wireless bandwidth consumption monitor automatically alerted her if usage exceeded a certain threshold. Once alerted, it only took a few minutes to determine who was eating both their lunch and wireless bandwidth.

Later that afternoon the two reviewed an Ipswitch log manager tool to access activity during lunchtime. It showed not only identified the worst offenders, but also their wireless bandwidth-hungry sites. A quiet word with the music and video fans reduced the spikes substantially. An email to all employees that covered the organization’s wireless bandwidth policy further smoothed out the midday data crush and nixed the need to write a bigger check to the ISP.

If you need to tame the BYOD beast and the wireless bandwidth it devours, join our webinar entitled “Tips for Taming BYOD, Access Points and Bandwidth Abuse” tomorrow, November 19, at 8am US ET and 12pm US ET (a replay will be available afterwards).

 

Every day, files are exchanged between your systems, employees, and business partners on a global scale. It’s no secret that with each file transfer, your organization faces potential exposure to viruses, worms, Trojan horses and other malware – and the damaged files, corrupted applications, reduced performance and other adverse business effects that come with them.

Are your file transfers as safe as they can be? Specifically, when you receive inbound files, are you doing all you can to protect your IT infrastructure from the risk of viruses and malware?? Are your outbound data and file transfers “clean,” so you don’t expose your trading partners to any viruses that might be undetected in your systems???

Ipswitch MOVEit offers the ability to integrate with specific antivirus (AV)  solutions. MOVEit supports ICAP integration with Symantec, Sophos and McAfee anti-virus, including server-based solutions, appliances and solutions using ICAP RFC 3507 and headers specific to AV vendors.  The AV implementation works by streaming files over an IPSec secured channel to the AV box, appliance, or service.  Note – with MOVEit, your files will be streamed to the file transfer antivirus solution for scanning prior to entering your internal network, which raises two critically important points:

  1. Be certain the specified AV scanning destination is protected and secured – your potentially sensitive (encrypted) data will be flowing to and from this destination.
  2. MOVEit scans payloads for virus before they enter you internal network, drastically reducing the liability assumed with the majority of other premise-based MFT implementations on the market today.  This means a dirty payload doesn’t get past your gate, whereas most MFT solutions will have to ‘lower the drawbridge’ in order to disposition a file.

The end user view of an AV scan is simple – any file upload to a MOVEit server has to pass the AV scan to appear in your folders or be sent as a package.  This includes a simple manual upload to a folder, a mobile file send, or system- to-system automation via DMZ folders and MOVEit Central.  Files are scanned and validated to ensure that they are free of viruses, trojans, malware and other malicious threats. If an infected file is detected MOVEit will immediately:

  1. Reject the transfer of the infected file
  2. Alert the end user that the upload failed due to virus detection
  3. Log the virus, timestamp, the scan engine, version and definition tag
  4. Report the list of infected files that have been detected during a specified time period

By integrating your antivirus solution with your managed file transfer solution, you ensure that all the files you receive are scanned before they enter your network. Not only does this protect your applications, data and valuable IT assets, but it prevents you from accidentally passing on any viruses that may exist in your systems.

file transfer complianceSurveys indicate that many companies fail IT audits of both internal company policies and external regulatory frameworks (i.e., HIPAA, PCI-DSS, ITAR, etc.). Yet avoiding such failures is critical in light of the vast number of external threats such as hacks that occur almost daily. At the same time, employees can pose problems, whether knowingly or not.

“Regulatory compliance describes the goal that corporations or public agencies aspire to achieve in their efforts to ensure that personnel are aware of and take steps to comply with relevant laws and regulations.” (Source: Wikipedia)

In fact, employees are both your greatest asset and your biggest threat. Problems around employee access to data can be summed up by the following CIO quotes.

  • “We have policies and procedures in place. It is up to employees to follow those policies.”
  • “I don’t think we have rogue employees.”
  • “We’re sticking our heads in the sand right now.”

Not believing or acknowledging that you have rogue employees would not be described as a best practice. As Vince Lombardi once said: “Hope is not a strategy.” Instead, proactively establishing measurable and repeatable policies and procedures is key to ensuring effective access control, especially if you must satisfy auditors or regulators. Here are three proven steps for doing just that:

1. Establish policies and procedures that focus on managing who has access to what data.
Start by identifying the regulations your company must adhere to, typically dictated by your business/legal teams. For example, retailers need to conform to Personal Credit Information – Data Security Standard or PCI-DSS, and SOX (if they are publicly traded in the US). For international companies, understanding local privacy laws and regulations is paramount. For example UK privacy laws make it a violation to ‘export’ employee information – including LDAP or in-house employee employment data – outside of the British Isles (this pertains to something as simple as cloud storage in say Germany) without explicit written release from the employee.

2. Once the ‘regs’ are identified, determine the latest version and if or when updates are coming. For example, the current version of PCI-DSS is 2.0 and 3.0 is under development. The updates are attempting to adapt to the changing world and new cyber threats. HIPAA used to be only the concern of the healthcare firms. However, with expansion of HIPAA-HITECH’s new mandates in 2013, 2014, and 2015, most companies conducting business in the United States will need to develop and maintain privacy policies. Ignorance of the law is not a sustainable defense.

3. IT should keep track of users’ activities with a complete and easily accessible journal and audit log. In part, this is as simple as using a Managed File Transfer (MFT) solution to automatically record every user action or workflow in an auditable tamper-proof log.

In my next post, I’ll outline what organizations need to know to design their MFT system to satisfy today’s and tomorrow’s regulatory requirements. Meantime, check out our white paper on how managed file transfer provides a robust compliance solution for financial services organizations.

If there’s a problem on your network, it’s likely that the source is within walking distance.

But when your network spans 300 miles and contains more than 1000 routers, switches and cameras, you have to trade in your sneakers for a set of wheels.

This is why the organization that runs a toll road in the southern U.S. called us for help. Toll 05192008 cdb

We need to identify and monitor all these devices across hundreds of miles of roadway in real-time,” the network’s IT director told us. “And fix problems fast, preferably before a device fails,” he added.

Within hours of installing WhatsUp Gold his IT team was able to map and monitor every application and device on the network and quickly pinpoint was causing their network to run on an unpaved road, and where. Within a few days, service levels improved measurably.

At the end of the day, one affordable network monitoring product saved the toll way from spending a lot of money. There was simply no need to hire staff to burn rubber in order to perform network monitoring.

IPS WUG LOGOToday we are glad to announce the availability of WhatsUp Gold version 16.2, a new upgrade to our flagship product that provides network, server and application monitoring. It helps make our customers’ jobs a lot easier to do while they work hard to manage and tame networks at companies and government organizations around the world.

Before I continue to share how our customers’ use the product, here’s what’s new in Version 16.2:

  • Integration with wireless network technologies from Meru Networks and Ruckus, Cisco WAP321 wireless access points and Cisco Nexus data center switches
  • Added seed discovery for the IPv6 protocol
  • Other updated discovery and monitoring features (I’ll spare you from reading through the rather long list)

Now back to our customers. These folks can attest to how WhatsUp Gold has helped them save a lot of time and money. And quickly pinpoint problems that are otherwise really hard to find. Here are just a handful of stories from the front lines:

Sort out the root cause of slow application performance, and save money in the process.

A customer who works at a national fast-food franchise was about to spend a lot more money to make up for lagging wireless bandwidth. The checkbook was put away after discovering the culprit was a user streaming Pandora.

Avoid buying a bunch of expensive, incompatible products –and spending money on more staff to manage them.

A customer who works at a large logistics company realized he could solve his network management issues with one product that centralized monitoring across every office. As did another customer who works at a large bank in Europe.

Tame the BYOD chaos brought upon by folks who bring their own devices to work.

A customer who runs a large university’s network used WhatsUp Gold to fix his wireless bandwidth problems caused by BYOD. His team had been literally running around campus to troubleshoot their 2,500 wireless access points. Another customer of ours had a similar problem that was solved thanks to our unified dashboard. (Side benefit: our product can save both rubber soles and tires).

What people are saying about WhatsUp Gold version 16.2:

Matt Cline, senior systems administrator from Optim Healthcare:

The latest version of WhatsUp Gold will give me more visibility into my network and improve wireless network management through its unified dashboard. It will also help further address the challenges caused by employees who bring their own devices to work or chew bandwidth with streaming media.”

Ennio Carboni, president and general manager of the Ipswitch Network Management Division:

WhatsUp Gold provides capabilities to cost-effectively deliver diverse IT services based on their value to the business. In comparison, other so-called affordable network monitoring products don’t offer a unified view or fully encompass heterogeneous environments. Additionally, expensive, complex solutions from BMC, CA, HP and IBM  take months to implement and include features often not used.”

Care to try WhatsUp Gold in your own network environment? Download a free 30 day trial and see how it can make your job easier too.

City of GuelphTo better understand Managed File Transfer (MFT), it’s useful to review actual use cases. I think of the City of Guelph  as a prime example of what prompts organizations to migrate from simple consumer-grade Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) for file transfer to more robust and secure MFT.

A growing number of organizations are fighting an age-old battle – just using new weapons. With easy access to web-based tools for sharing files, employees often circumvent sanctioned means of transferring files in the workplace. This causes IT all kinds of headaches. But it can lead to even bigger problems for the organization, especially when the files being transferred are highly confidential in nature. This is a key reason many organizations are driven to look at MFT systems. MFT provides better visibility and control, primarily to meet the demands of regulatory compliance. It satisfies the need for comprehensive reporting and the ability to set business rules around who, or what systems, can send and receive files and when. In other words, it provides the “M” in MFT—the file management capabilities lacking in consumer-grade EFSS tools. This was why the City of Guelph adopted MFT.

The City of Guelph – a government agency in southwestern Ontario – had long used simple FTP to protect contracts, workplace safety documents, staff information, employment information, and citizen data. But over time, more and more city employees needed to transfer confidential files. According to Shibu Pillai, Technology Services, City of Guelph “Every day, we’re transferring important, highly sensitive documents: contracts, citizen information, and CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) files.” And like many government agencies, the city needs to safeguard confidential information and satisfy information privacy requirements.

Many city employees turned to consumer-oriented, non-secure file transfer sites freely accessible via the web for these ad hoc file transfers. It’s no surprise that employees are attracted to these tools – they’re incredibly convenient. But by using them, they can put their organizations in a bad position. That was the case with the City of Guelph: employee use of these sites put the city at risk of violating Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and Personal Health Information Privacy Act (PHIPA) requirements. And those staff members that were not using these unsanctioned sites were putting a strain on the city’s infrastructure by sending large files up to 20 MB via city email servers.

By migrating from FTP to a managed file transfer system, the City of Guelph was able to address both of these issues. Specifically, it now:

  • Has a productive environment for sending files
  • Securely sends large files
  • Reduces the burden on its email systems
  • Reduces storage costs
  • Saves IT staff time
  • Meets MFIPPA and PHIPA privacy requirements
  • Is PCI-compliant with respect to any credit card payments made for the city’s services

For more details, view  the City of Guelph Managed File Transfer case study.