Protecting your Backups in a Ransomware World

I just read an article that is full of great information on protecting your backups from a ransomware attack. The article states what I have long said, you must practice security in layers. No one tool or solution is going [...]

Protecting your Backups in a Ransomware World2020-03-27T12:34:18-07:00

New Year’s Resolutions for IT 2017

Now that you have settled into the New Year it is time to focus on you New Year resolutions for IT or you risk a bad year. It is February 1, 2017 and you now have all the year-end closing of the books, inventory, etc. behind you. Now that your head is cleared up it is time to get more focused on IT.

This blog is a compilation of ideas from Team Alvaka Networks:

1.       Roger Nixon said, Keep moving forward by backing up… the importance of good backups for sustainability of a business when things go wrong. Actually almost everyone at Alvaka said something similar. Roger is right. If you have not recently done a complete review of your back up systems you are at great risk. Ask yourself and test whether –

a.       Is your backup system running? Is the scheduler running backups at the appropriate intervals?

New Year’s Resolutions for IT 20172017-11-13T07:28:46-08:00

What 12 Security Things Should I Focus on to Be Defensible in 2016?

Here is a sneak-peek and what is likely my most important blog for the upcoming New Year.  This is just a partial teaser....

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Irvine, CA - I was recently asked by a roundtable of CEOs to advise them on network security.  They had a lot of questions and a lot of misinformation.  I was surprised as this was a group of technology company CEOs and what I quickly found out is that they did not know much more than my non-tech company CEO clients.  From that discussion they asked me to come back and present to them a short list of actions they should take in 2016 to better secure their systems.  Initially I wanted to present them with a list of 10 things they should focus upon.  For anyone that knows, it is easy to create a list of 100 things that should be done to secure a system. However, I decided in order to make the list actionable and not overwhelming I needed to focus on the 10 things I have seen in the past year or two that have caused the most real-life grief for our new and existing clients.  I wanted to keep the list to 10 items, but I had to fudge a bit and expand to 12 core items. Then I added three bonus items for those who are over-achievers and another three for those in regulated businesses like healthcare, financial services and Sarbanes-Oxley.

This list is not complete nor absolute.  It is a list I have created largely in order of my perceived importance based upon the real-life hacks, breaches and other maladies related to failures of network security to keep the bad guys out.  You will need to assess the requirements that are appropriate for your firm.  If you are looking for a good place to start, I offer up my suggestions below.

1.       You need to do a vulnerability assessment or security assessment.  It is impossible for you to know what actions you should take to properly secure your systems without first doing an assessment.  Assessments are common practice at many firms, yet completely ignored at others.  It is fairly easy for you to order a vulnerability assessment and the best part is that it takes very little time and participation from you and your IT staff.  The cost for this service ranges from a few thousand dollars for a very small firm to several tens-of-thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for larger enterprises.  These should be done at least once per year just like your financial audit.

2.       Patching for Software Security Updates is perhaps one of the most overlooked and under-rated security measures you can implement to better secure your systems.  I maintain that good software patching measures are in some ways more important than your firewall.  A firewall is a formidable device that once it gets set-up has a number of ports opened up so that your firm can transact business.  That is where it gets weak.  Through these legitimately opened ports attackers will send nasty payloads that compromise your system, often without you knowing.  Imagine a hardened castle all buttoned up, but the draw bridge must be opened in order to conduct commerce.  Through that legitimately opened bridge come the sneak attacks, the scammers, crooks, mischievous and spies....

What 12 Security Things Should I Focus on to Be Defensible in 2016?2015-11-12T03:10:52-08:00

You’re the Non-technical Boss with Responsibility for the Network…

How do you know your most important functions of your network are working?  How do you manage technical people whose work you don’t fully understand?  This week I have seven simple questions to ask and I provide you some tips on what answers you should expect.

Backup and Disaster Recovery is one of the most important functions in Information Technology management to assure the future viability of your firm.  But backup and DR is a function you don’t really know is working until you really need it and that is not the time to find out it is not working as planned.  My recommendation is that you bring this topic up in your next meeting with your IT team.  Here are the questions I suggest you ask:

1.       How is our backup system running?  (Let your IT person talk.  Be patient and don’t interrupt.  Let them tell you all they can.)

2.       Are we getting any error messages from the backups? (Error messages are not....

You’re the Non-technical Boss with Responsibility for the Network…2015-10-07T22:13:17-07:00

Some Good Q&A on Backup and Disaster Recovery

1. Where should small businesses start with disaster recovery, whether or not they already have a DR plan in place? What is the first question the small business owner needs to ask?

I recommend starting with determining RTO and RPO.  If the small business owner starts here he or she will be off to a good start with the DR plan.  What are RTO and RPO?

•         RTO – Recovery Time Objective, the time between the disaster and when the system has been made operational again.  Why is this important?  Different businesses have different costs associated with...

Some Good Q&A on Backup and Disaster Recovery2015-03-02T15:43:00-08:00

Why are Patch Management and Change Management Important?

Alvaka Networks has arguably the best and most sophisticated patch management process in the Orange County, Los Angeles County and possibly the US.  Not many firms can deploy vast quantities of patches to valuable high availability servers and PCs with smoke testing qualify control while following the sun globally during selected narrow service windows.

Change Management
Change management is vital to every stage of the patch management process. As with all system modifications, patches and updates must be performed and tracked through the change management system. It is highly unlikely that an enterprise-scale patch management program can be successful without proper integration with the change management system and organization.

Like any environmental changes, patch application plans submitted through change management must have associated contingency and backout plans. What are the recovery plans if something goes wrong during or as a result of the application of a patch or update? Also, information on risk mitigation should be included in the change management solution. For example, how are desktop patches going to be phased and scheduled to prevent mass outages and support desk overload? Monitoring and acceptance plans should also be included in the change management process. How will updates be certified as successful? There should be specific milestones and acceptance criteria to guide the verification of the patches' success and to allow for the closure of the update in the change management system....

Why are Patch Management and Change Management Important?2019-12-20T12:10:10-08:00

A Great Webinar On Backup And Disaster Recovery

I just did a one hour webinar sponsored by IBM and brought to the Internet by eWeek, a Ziff Davis Media publication. If I do say so myself I think it went very well. Elliot Markowitz of eWeek said he thought it was the best webinar so far this year.

Click Here for the Webinar: 

http://bit.ly/ltTkAP

Disaster Recovery: Learning from the Past to Get Ready for the Future

A Great Webinar On Backup And Disaster Recovery2011-05-03T03:21:00-07:00