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Ethernet and Cloud: A Perfect Partnership?

With cloud computing on the minds of CIOs, we are seeing a recurring question come up in our discussions with our largest customers: Can cloud computing really address the needs of large enterprises?

In many cases, large companies are wary of cloud due to the lack of QoS and SLAs they’ve become accustomed to. In fact, it was for these very reasons businesses turned to Ethernet. With so much invested in Ethernet (from the customer and carrier sides) the question now becomes: Can Ethernet support the demands of cloud?

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Got WiFi? User Expectations Drive New Challenges

Our wireless devices appear to be multiplying. It used to be we couldn’t leave home without our smart phones. But now? Now it’s a bit out of control. Not only do we have our phones, but how many of us find ourselves toting our laptops and tablets everywhere we go? That’s three devices per person.

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We’ve Been Compromised! Banks Struggle to Fight Fraud

This is the second installment of a three-part series on banking industry trends.

Information security is a hot button for all businesses. But for banks, it is particularly critical due to the nature of the information they have as well as increasing compliance regulations. As part of our ongoing series on the US banking industry, we are taking an in-depth look at the security profile of banks in America and what they are doing to protect personal information.

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The Jury’s Still Out on Google+ for B2B

The role of social networks in business is nothing new but when Google+ came on the scene, I know what you were thinking. The same thing I was: Another social platform?

Like any good marketer, we at CenturyLink Business, created a presence on Google + right away but really only to secure our name. We have not created a full-blown presence at this point because, frankly, we have been going back and forth internally on the value of the platform in our space.

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Banking in Bed

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It’s pretty clear that banking as we know it is changing. Rapidly. With the Occupy Wall Street movement and the recent Bank Transfer Day initiative, banks are coming to terms with the fact that the old way of doing business simply won’t work.

This represents an opportunity for banks to take a hard look at their businesses and to figure out what they can offer their customers to provide a superior customer experience.

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5 Free Security Tools Every Cloud User Should Know About

blog-cloud-keyboardWhen it comes to cloud, planning is everything. This is the case when it comes to every aspect of a cloud migration, and includes in no small measure security as well. However (surprisingly, given the importance of security in a cloud migration), sometimes security and economic goals clash in a cloud deployment.

This happens because many cloud migration efforts are economically driven – and security isn’t free: either from a planning standpoint or from a control deployment standpoint. So the addition of controls can eat away at projected cost savings – especially when security parameters are not understood fully at the project outset. Because of this, security teams sometimes find themselves in a situation where they need to add controls to meet regulatory requirements or address risk areas, but because a migration is already “in flight,” those controls aren’t budgeted. Oops.

This leaves security organizations with two alternatives: 1) Do nothing and drop the control on the ground, or 2) Do something at minimal cost.

Doing nothing isn’t usually a recipe for success, so option 2 – doing something on the cheap – can be a lifesaver. Fortunately, there are a plethora of free tools – software and resources – that organizations can look to in a pinch to fill in gaps. Note that I’m not addressing soft costs here – staff time is staff time … and that’s never free (well, unless you have interns, I guess). I’m just talking about what you can do to meet controls without having to go back to the budgetary well.

I’ve tried to outline a few – that you can get up and running quickly – to address particular situations as they arise. These aren’t the only ones by any means. I’ve tried to pick out short term “gap fillers” for this list. There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of excellent free tools out there that let you do everything from log correlation to asset management to monitoring in the cloud (and out of it for that matter). The difference is that not all of them are “spin up/spin down.” For example, you can use a tool like GroundWork (monitoring) or snort (IDS) that are every bit as feature rich as commercial counterparts – but once you have it up and running, are you going to want to spin it down again in three months? Probably not. So while those tools are great (can’t stress this enough), I didn’t include them on the list.

What I did include were tools that you can get up and running quickly, that fill an immediate need, and that doesn’t commit you long term. Meaning, you don’t lose (much) data or have to retool the environment (much) should you decide to stop using them later.

Free Data Discovery
Finding out where your confidential and/or regulated data is prior to (and let’s not forget during and after) a cloud move is always useful. You’d be surprised what data is located where in a large or even medium-size enterprise. There are a number of free tools out there that help you search assets and locate certain types of (usually regulated) data. MyDLP, OpenDLP and the cardholder-data focused ccsrch can help data in automated fashion. All of these tools have merit. Although I personally found the step-by-step installation instructions for MyDLP to be particularly helpful in getting up and running quickly – and the ccsrch tool’s simplicity and efficiency make it a good choice if you want to focus just on credit cards.

Free Compliance Tookits
Evaluating a vendor’s security posture and control deployment sometimes gets done prior to picking a vendor; but sometimes (like when security or IT isn’t consulted in that process), it doesn’t. But many regulatory requirements require specific validation of vendors. In that case, it’s on us to do that after the fact. Now sure, general-purpose information-gathering materials like the Shared Assessments (formerly FISAP) Standardized Information Gathering questionnaire are great, but let’s face it, they’re cumbersome when applied to a hosting provider. That’s why the Cloud Security Alliance’s GRC Stack – specifically the Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM) and the Consensus Assessment Initiative (CAI) can help. Why redo the work when you can reuse what’s already done for you?

Free Two-Factor
Many organizations require two-factor access as part of remote access policy. Although it’s one of those things that many times organizations overlook in the planning process. WikID – an open source two-factor authentication platform might be something you can look to for meeting the requirement short-term. It’s easy to set up, and doesn’t require per-user hardware to provision in order to get up and running.

Free Network Analysis
Most folks probably already know about wireshark … you knew it was coming, right? Sometimes you just have to know what’s going on over the wire.

Free AV
Fungible as many organizations perceive it, people are sometimes surprised when it comes to AV during a move. Why? Because many commercial AV platforms are licensed per client. A physical-to-virtual move many not result in a one-to-one mapping between existing physical hosts and virtual images. Particularly in the interim period while you stand up the virtual infrastructure. This means (sometimes) that you need more AV licenses – depending on your licensing arrangements with your current vendor.

What happens when you discover this mid-effort? Going off to secure funding for more AV licenses in the middle of a move isn’t a fun conversation – and because it’s a regulatory requirement (for example under the PCI DSS), just making do without isn’t a good idea. One solution is to leverage free AV tools like ClamAV in the interim. Yes, long-term management is an issue in supporting another product over/above commercial tools you might be using on-prem. But to fill a short-term need while you sort out the licensing? Why not?

Maybe some of these might be helpful – particularly in Q4 when budgets are frozen anyway.

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Are You PCI-Ready for the Peak Holiday Shopping Season?

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday under our belts, it’s officially peak shopping season for millions of American consumers. Retailers will be working overtime to meet demand and earn much-needed revenue—but if they’re not careful, each credit card transaction they handle could expose both their customers and their business to risk.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is designed to protect consumers and increase trust in retailers. Without these measures, it would be all too simple for a hacker to break into a retailer’s systems and steal consumers’ payment card numbers.

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Beyond the App Store: iPads in the Enterprise

In an earlier post, we discussed whether businesses should really care about the iPad, and suggested that the answer is now yes. Today, let’s take a deeper look at the role mobile tablets can play in your endpoint environment. It goes a lot further than email and calendaring.

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