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Mar 18 2009
The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security and How Apple Computer Side Stepped at Least One of Them Print E-mail
Enforcement and Awareness
Written by Paul Winkeler   
Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Some of you may have heard of Marcus Ranum, a top flight security guy currently working at Tenable Security, developers/underwriters of Nessus amongst other tools. Recently someone forwarded me a link to a web-page Marcus wrote a few years ago called The Six Dumbest Ideas in Computer Security. I invite you to take a moment and read it now before proceeding on to my comments on how his observations apply to Apple Computer's iPhone platform.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 March 2009 )
Feb 26 2009
Barracuda Monitoring Print E-mail
Infrastructure and Application Monitoring
Written by Paul Winkeler   
Thursday, 26 February 2009

Barracuda Neworks makes a fine line of inbound (and outbound?!) SPAM filters deployed in-line with your email server and the outside world. These devices provide a web interface both for management and configuration as well as for end-users to trawl through suspect quarantined e-mail searching for treasure. You can see how the device is performing under its current load right from the front page of this built-in website and then it can also send scheduled e-mail messages with various statistical reports. Unfortunately, what it does not do, is alert you of odd behavior in any meaningful pro-active way. After all, who has time to read through all those daily statistics reports from all their devices?!

The obvious answer to this problem then is to monitor the device through our facorite Open Source monitoring platform, Zenoss but that is where we run into a glitch. It turns out that Barracudas cannot be probed with SNMP, the standard way such devices are probed until you get to the 400-series and even then, the exposed MIB is not an enterprise specific one with Barracuda goodies but just the generic OS one, courtesy of the underlying Linux engine. Ah, you say, but doesn't Barracuda make a REST-based API available? Well yes, they do, but now we're writing a command based datasource and even then, this feature is not available until the 400-series and up.

Read on to learn how PBnJ Solutions built a Zenoss ZenPack to monitor Barracudas from the 200-series on up, now allowing everyone to not only get an alarm when the inbound queue is overflowing but also collect some great SPAM statistics over time.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 01 March 2009 )
Nov 11 2006
Business Continuity Planning Is Not Just for Big Business Any More Print E-mail
Business Continuity Planning
Written by Paul Winkeler   
Saturday, 11 November 2006
We have all seen the news stories showing entire cities holding mock disasters to test their disaster preparedness plans. Some of us have also been privy to the internal tests major institutions put on at least once a year to make sure they are able to respond to various major events. But most small to medium size business (SMB) owners tend to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to this kind of business continuity planning. That is why it was especially refreshing to see Wells Fargo publish some guidelines for SMBs to help them prepare for various disasters.
Let's take a look and see what can be learned from their recommendations...
Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 April 2007 )
Apr 21 2005
NetBackup Migration from Unix to Windows Print E-mail
Written by Paul Winkeler   
Wednesday, 20 April 2005
Earlier this month I asked around for some advice on how best to about migrate a NetBackup 3.4 installation on Solaris to version 4.5 on Windows. Many were called, but few answered. Those who did expressed disdain at the direction of the migration without offering much advice. My own instincts told me I should migrate first and then upgrade so that is how this author started his morning...
Last Updated ( Thursday, 26 April 2007 )
Jan 05 2004
2004 Security Predictions; Some Things Just Don't Change Print E-mail
Enforcement and Awareness
Written by Paul Winkeler   
Monday, 05 January 2004

ComputerWorld has come out with its set of predictions for security related incidents likely to make headlines in 2004. Especially telling is their statement that "Many will begin to understand that the problem isn't with the technology, it's with the people!", something us technology people have been trying to get across for years. What makes anyone think 2004 will be any different?

Both USB ports and free access to each and every IM service do nothing to remind employees that the computing resources and data they manipulate on a daily basis belong to the company, not them. Yes, it is a people problem when these tools are used to carry confidential data into the wrong hands, but how do you reinforce this message and how do you remove temptation?
On the IM front we might see companies use internal messaging systems such Jabber and Sametime. USB ports are not so easy to control especially since these USB drives are so small and easily hidden. Perhaps some vendor will come up with a way to control allowable devices by vendor id and product code? For example, this could easily be part of the TrustedCore efforts put forth by Phoenix Technologies' cME project. (Unfortunately this project's design appears to be extremely Windows-centric and it is not clear whether any OSS can make effective use of it.)

And so, as usual, efforts are already underway to come up with technology-based solutions for what ComputerWorld so accurately pointed out, are really people problems...
Some things just don't change!

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 April 2007 )
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