Thursday, 20 December 2012

How to team your network cards in Windows Server 2012 - Infographic

With the advent of cloud computing and mass virtualization of server operating systems, the need for high speed, highly available networking becomes even more pressing. Until now, in a Windows Server environment, the joining together of Network Interface Cards (NICs) into teams was a tricky and time consuming process. It required third-party drivers, specific NICs and some rather technical configurations to get it all right.

So what is a team? The teaming of network cards is simply joining them into one logical entity, with a single IP address. Having done this, you can choose how you want to use this new team.

There are many reasons for teaming your multi-homed servers. Primarily because the networking becomes highly available, you can also lose one of the NICs and still communicate. The team can be set to perform several other functions, including bonding the two bandwidths together and doubling the potential throughput of your connection.

Learn how to team your network cards in windows server 2012 with this useful infographic designed by Firebrand. The content is from our Windows Server instructor Ed Baker.

How to team your network cards in Windows Server 2012

To see the original article posted by Ed Baker, follow this link:

To embed this Infographic copy the text in the box below:

The FBI holding computers for ransom?

Hackers have started to exploit the FBI’s name to take computers for ransom. It's part of latest scam in the US to come out of the creative hacker’s pot of tricks and is just in time for the festive season.

FBI RansomwareThe owners of the computers that have been targeted are greeted with a pop-up message pretending to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The message states that their computer has been locked by the FBI and that they must click to pay a fee in order to release it.

The hack is known as a ‘ransomware trap’ and is effective at what it does; holding your computer hostage until you pay the amount stated... and it works. People are believing that it really is the FBI. And the logo is just one of the many being used by criminals.

The computer security company Symantec released a report last month which claimed that 2.9% of the computers infected, have the owners cough up the money. Meaning that this one scam is worth about £3 million a year!

Ransomware is the second most popular type of malware being installed by criminals using popular exploit kits, which are designed to infect computers. But this is not just confined to the US. In the UK there have been reports of hackers using the Metropolitan Police logo to trick victims into paying £100 electronically to free their computer.

The ransomware application Reventon is the most well-known kit. It’s a Trojan programme that pops up warning messages using a respected logo depending on the country the vistim is in.

Elad Sharf, lead senior security researcher at Websense stated: “Ransomware is an increasingly common type of malware that attempts to extort money from a computer user by infecting and taking control of the victim’s machine, taking the files or documents stored on it hostage’.

He added that ransomware Trojans make it into a computer through malicious email attachments, clicking a suspicious link in an email or even on a social networking site; just like we saw on Tumblr a few weeks ago (Tumblr Hacked by GNAA).

If you or someone you know falls victim to this attack, do not pay the fine. Often times the hackers do not live up to their word of freeing your computer. And even if they do, they’ll often leave malicious software behind which gives them access to any documents or information you might have in that particular computer. There are several ways of removing the malware. You can visit an IT security professional to unlock it for you or you could even do it yourself, just watch the below how to video:

Mr Sharf also stated something you should keep in mind: “Remember also that the legitimate sources in Britain won’t use these tactics to tell you of a local compromise and then demand a financial reward to remediate the issue”.

Find out your seven deadly sins, how hackers exploit them and how you can avoid falling victim to their scams: Hackers & how they exploit 'the seven deadly sins'.

To learn to how to protect yourself and/or your company, why not take the world renowned CISSP course and gain your certification. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is offered by (ISC)2. CISSP professionals are in very strong demand; it’s one of the key certs employers look for to fill management-level information security positions. To find out more click here.

For more information about security courses, and to find the right one for you, follow this link: You can also find information about the top 5 IT security certifications here:

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, , IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

How to use Hyper-V Replicas in Windows Server 2012

With the arrival of Windows Server 2012, the new disaster recovery solution for Virtual Machines (that is free) is a great tool for all Server Administrators. It’s built into the product and it’s easy to implement.

A Hyper V replica is a copy of a live VM stored on a remote server. This is updated every five minutes with any changes made meaning that at any point, you can failover to the replica and bring the virtualised workload back online. This has the potential to both your save money and your valuable data.

So how does it work? Firebrand Training has created a useful infographic explaining how to use Hyper-V Replicas in Windows Server 2012. The content is by Ed Baker, Windows Server Instructor at Firebrand Training.

How to use Hyper-V Replicas in Windows Server 2012

To see the original article posted by Ed Baker, follow this link:

To embed this Infographic copy the text in the box below:

Friday, 14 December 2012

Are these the worst Christmas jumpers you've seen?

It's Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day. So the Firebrand team raided the closets to find the worst Christmas jumpers possible. Two snowmen and four reindeer later, this is what we ended up with:

The fundraising campaign encourages people on the 14th of December to wear a Christmas jumper and donate £1 to the charity to help fund its global aid programmes.
“After years in style exile, the Christmas jumper is back and it’s helping to save children’s lives. Make the world better with a sweater.”
You can donate to this great cause here:
Share with us some of your awesome and wacky Christmas jumpers at

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, , IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

2012 IBM Tech Trends report

IBM recently released the results of its 2012 tech trends study offering great insights into the tech world. The study explorers how enterprises are responding to the opportunities and risks introduced by new technologies.

IBM surveyed over 1,200 IT and business decision makers to determine why, when and how they adopt mobile, analytics, cloud and social business technologies.

One of the more notable finds is that there is a growing skills gap. In the four technologies studied, only 10% of companies stated that they had all the skills needed to be successful and one out of four reported major skill gaps. Three out of four students believed that the current shortage of IT skills could get even worse.

Growing skill gap - The IBM Tech Trends Report
Source: The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report
Professor of Information Systems at Fordham University, Dr. Wullianallur Raghupathi stated: “Technology is changing so rapidly–not just upgrades, but dramatic changes in the discipline itself. Keeping pace is a challenge, not only teaching current technologies, but also forecasting and trying to guess what is coming down the pipeline.”

Organizational stance on emerging IT - The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report
Source: The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report
IBM also asked the respondents to rate how important emerging technologies are to their business success and also their rate of adoption compared to their competitors. From this IBM were able to identify a small group of ‘pacesetters’ who move forward with technologies faster despite the barriers formed from adoption. They all use mobile, analytics, cloud and social technologies in more strategic ways.

IBM found that these pacesetters are more ‘Market-driven’, ‘Analytical’ and ‘Experimental’. What makes them more successful is the fact that they have a head start from all other companies. Instead of waiting until there is a business demand for new IT skills, ‘pacesetters’ start building skills ahead of time. IBM found that these companies are nine times more likely to experiment with technologies that don’t have a clear business application and they are twice as likely to develop skills beforehand to anticipate needs.

One of the finds also noted that the majority of companies are now using social media to engage with its customers. But the difference with ‘pacesetters’ is that they also use social media as a strong form of communication within the enterprise. This is also seen in cloud computing. Many companies are starting to adopt cloud but it’s the ‘pacesetters’ that are “more likely to have significant deployments of newer cloud concepts, like hybrid cloud and community cloud.”

About the Author:
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, IT training, , IT certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the IT industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Cyber Security Challenge - Ethical Hacking

The One Show on the BBC just ran an article about Ethical Hacking. Teaching children and adults in a competitive environment to hack websites.

Mainstream exposure for a niche subject is critical to help all companies understand that they can manage the risks themselves.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

What is the CISSP certification?

CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional it is offered by the International Information Systems Security Certifications Consortium, or (ISC)2.

During this course you’ll learn the following key areas in security:

·         Access Control
·         Telecommunications and Network Security
·         Information Security governance & Risk management
·         Software development security
·         Cryptography
·         Security architecture & design
·         Operations security
·         Business continuity & disaster recovery
·         Legal, Regulations, Investigations and Compliance
·         Physical (environmental) security

CISSP professionals are in high demand and is one of the key certs employers look for to fill management-level information security positions. CISSP is also popular within the IT security community because it demonstrates that the professional has a strong understanding of security concepts as well as the specific methodologies involved.

But in order to obtain this certification, you must have a minimum of five years of direct full-time security professional work experience in two or more of the ten domains.

Many companies’ IT security positions now require CISSP certification. One key point to note about this certification is that it’s only valid for three years and must be renewed, either by re-taking and passing the CISSP exam, or by reporting at least 120 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits in that 3-year time period or since a prior renewal.

Friday, 7 December 2012

A week with Firebrand – SQL Server 2012 Student Review | Days 4 - 7

Rowan Troy took time off each day during his accelerated and intensive seven day course to blog about his experience with Firebrand Training.You can find days 1, 2 & 3 on the following link:

Rowan successfully gained his MSCA at the end of his course.
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training
SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training

Day 4

So it is exam day today.  Not looking forward to it myself.  My chosen topic, which I did stupidly choose to accept, is SQL Server 2012 and particularly the DBA elements.  I set out on this course knowing I probably wouldn’t pass the exams.  This is NOT, I will add in huge bold letters, because Firebrand isn’t good enough to get me through, far from it.  It is because like with all things new, I haven’t had a chance to get real world experience with the product and you do need that.  I have knowledge of 2008 which I thought would be helpful and it has proven to be a bonus as I least can drive the main interface of SQL.  One of the pre-requisites for any Microsoft course is now to have 2 years’ experience at least.  Unfortunately 2012 has only been out since Q3 so fat chance of that!  After 3 days of material I was really confident I would score well, when I set out from home I was certain this was not going to be the case!

I went to breakfast fairly early so I could spend a few hours before our exam slot revising some key components.  When I met up with the rest of my course alumni there was a lot of nerves being thrown around and people wondering if they will pass or not.  I went in with the expectation that after 3 days of material I stand a 50/50 chance of passing.  Alas that 50/50 turned into about 5% once I sat down and read through the first ten questions!!!  It was an extremely tough cookie and unfortunately I was defeated on this occasion.  Man Vs. Exam – Exam Wins!

I have sat many Microsoft exams in my time; I think I am almost at 20 now, but this one slayed me rather harshly.  I couldn’t blame the course content, nor the training kit book as that’s fairly new.  I could only put it down to my lack of real world experience and I believe that Microsoft is making it very tough to get past their exams without that element.  It does make the certification seem a lot more real and less paper like so when you finally complete the track, you’ll have achieved something worthwhile.  Exchange 2010 was also one of those that knocked me down a peg and I have a vast amount of real world experience with it but the exam was a true master at putting me in my place.  I did pass it on the second time of asking which is what I plan to do with this SQL exam. 

I’m off to sleep early tonight so I can get some rest now that first exam is out of the way.  Who knows I may even pass it the next time but having seen the exam, I now know what I need to research.  With free resits at the moment, there is panic!!!

Signing off…

Day 5

Well I passed on my second attempt.  I went back to my room after dinner and spent a lot of time reviewing the material, spoke with my trusty DBA at work for an hour (or maybe it was two can’t quite remember) and re-read huge chunks of my training kit and a lot of MSDN pages it recommended I do.  In doing that, I was up until gone midnight and had to get up early doors to be in the exam room.  Fortunately for me Paul Templeton, who you’ll meet when you come Wyboston lakes, did me and two of my fellow alumni a huge favour in getting us into the exam room again before our course started on Day 5. 

Having seen the exam once and then having a second shot gave me a bit more confidence in passing.  I went in with the wrong attitude; that I was going to fail, and had I changed that attitude, and read what all that material the night before my first attempt, I would have probably passed it then.  Even if you think that you don’t know much, you will be surprised, as I was, with what I did know.  Take your time reading the questions, ensure you have truly understood what they are asking for.  I do sit Microsoft exams rather quickly and it has always paid off in the years gone by.  Now though I believe that due to the changes in the courses and exams and the technical difficulty within them, you really need to read the questions.  I had my thumb up against that monitor, ensuring that I read every word before I answered.

Lots of people have different techniques but I have had to adapt mine.  It takes longer to complete the exam but I am safe in the knowledge that I have read everything right.  So what I once thought was impossible, is now possible.  We continued the material for the next exam track and I only missed thirty minutes due to my re-take.  There is still a long way to go but I have at least conquered part of this course.  Onwards and upwards as they say…

Signing off….

Day 6

I had an early night last night so I feel refreshed today as we continued with the content and labs.  I still have to reiterate my comment about breakfast, that you will feel better for having just cereal and toast and not opting for the full fry up.  You really do need your brain fully engaged each day so take this as the best advice I can give you.

We have been working on T-SQL, which is something I have little knowledge of but I was actually understanding terms and syntax, much to my amazement.  I have often looked at this 'stuff' during my career and just assumed aliens wrote it and people who write it now have some sort of disposition that they want to talk in a foreign language for a living.  But it is exactly that, another language that requires definitions.  I knew this part would very tough and take a lot of reading and practice so I hope that with the hours I have put in it will pay off.

Once again it's past 2300 so time to get some sleep, second exam tomorrow and possibly the hardest of the three!

Signing off..

Day 7

Early start again to get the last minute revision of my notes and the training materials.  Exam two is sometimes the hardest but if you have never sat a Microsoft exam you'll find out that most of them are just multiple choice with drag and drops but this one actually requires you to type the answers.  The first time I have sat an exam like this and I have to admit the nerves were getting to me.

I had an early breakfast with a few of the alumni who were just as concerned with the fact we had to actually type the answers out.  We were bouncing off revision and tips off each other which does help when you have to remember so much.  Sometimes it's the conversations you have with those going through the same training and exam as you that you can actually get the answers you need.

We started the exam at around 9:30am and I used 2 hours of the 3 hours available to pass with a very reasonable score.  I was told there were 10 questions that you would have to type the answers, I completed 2 that I knew were right and the syntax was correct (according to the checker within the exam of course, albeit it doesn't like spelling).  I was certain two more were right but the syntax checker was doing its usual trick of telling me I was wrong.  I made sure I put comments on those questions to tell Prometric, the exam company, that it needs tweaking.  The rest of the questions I gave it my best shot and with all that I did get my pass.

Unfortunately I had to leave today, missing the last two days of material and the final exam to complete my MCSA.  Fortunately Firebrand, as always, were understanding and gave me my exam voucher so I can go and take the exam when I get the opportunity.  The experience, again, has been very rewarding, although my brain is absolutely stuck in the world of T-SQL and I am exhausted but I have learned so much and in such a short space of time I could never have done this anywhere else.  I want to personally thank everyone at Firebrand, including Angela for being a great trainer and Paul Templeton who I now consider 'The Don', who once again went above and beyond for me - all your hard work is very much appreciated by me and I am sure by everyone who visits.

Signing off for the final time..

Congratulations Rowan gaining your MCSA in just 7 days.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A week with Firebrand – SQL Server 2012 Student Review | Days 1 - 3

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training
SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training

Firebrand student Rowan Troy took time off each day during his intensive 7 day course to blog about his experience at Firebrand. He successfully gained his MSCA.

Day 1

It was an early start for the first day, breakfast waits in the hotel restaurant and if it's like it was last time I was here, it'll be very good.  Firebrand will serve you a cooked breakfast but as always they don't recommend it - personally I don't take them up on the offer as I agree, it isn't good for the brain if you are attempting to learn at the accelerated pace that the course demands.

We managed to get through 7 modules today, if you did that on the traditional course, you would be out the door by the end of play on day 3 and most training establishments ask you for five days of your time for just one exam track!  Microsoft do have a tendency to pad things out but Firebrand take away the repetitiveness of the official curriculum and give you the bits you need to know.  Angela, our no longer M.I.A trainer, has been impressive in her knowledge of SQL and the demonstrations have been practically flawless.  She needs coffee though I think!

The clocks go back today so we do get an extra hour in bed which is a first for me being on a course.  It is needed though as reading takes up your time once you have completed the labs.  It is 2300 now so it's time to get some sleep before day 2 starts.

Signing off!

Day 2

Day 2 is always a crunch day for me even though I have been here 5 times now.  You wake up realising that you're still here, wondering whether you actually learned anything on the first day and whether you remember anything.  My fellow alumni are also feeling the tiredness that comes with self-study and staying up all the hours God gives to get as much knowledge in your over-worked brain.  Good thing to do is recap the modules you covered at the start of the day as it does help to jog the grey matter.  Breakfast was great again, just in case you were wondering.

We managed to get through 8 modules today which are just staggering.  I know there will be some readers who think that isn't possible but I implore you to take a look at the padding out that does happen with some modules and condense that information into one single module.  You'll soon find out that it is quicker and that you repeat things quite often.  Talk of the first exam has already begun and although we are a day away still, everyone is keen to understand just how difficult it is.

The course doesn't come with as many books as I would like.  Firebrand always provide you with the Training Kits that come from the Microsoft Press or the Administrators Companion as both are valuable tools to self-study with when you've completed the labs (or just fed up with them) and you want to go back to your room to study in your own way and in your own time.  Unfortunately the course and exams are so new that even Microsoft is somewhat behind in producing suitable reading material.  I was not amused to receive a revised release date for the 70-461 training kit as it will now arrive on 3rd November - too late for me so I cancelled that a while ago!!!  Firebrand have fortunately taken the time to research alternative books to the above and provided them instead.

Day 3 is coming and again its 2300 so time to hit the sack and get some energy back ready to finish off the first exam track and begin the revision…

Day 3

Day 3 started off pretty well, continuing with the course content and knowing there isn't much left to cover does give you this sense of build up to the first exam.  I happen to be carrying the joys of winter with me when I came up here and unfortunately haven't managed to shake it off so I felt somewhat unwell throughout the day.  Unknowingly though, performing complex tasks in the labs (they actually make you think now instead of giving you step by step instructions - that is until you look in the very back of the book of course) somehow made me forget about my cold and gave me something to focus on.  It's true what they say, doing something continuously that engages the brain non-stop allows you to forget the world around you.  With the clocks going back it does, at the moment, make the day feel longer so you do have to wonder how your brain can cope with this pace and having an extra hour to squeeze in!

I haven't mentioned lunch or dinner yet as breakfast is, in my opinion, the most important meal of the day but as always it is superbly prepared food and I hope that it continues to stay that way.  You need it after the brain work out that is Transact SQL and the numerous windows and pop boxes that we face as IT bodies every day.  It doesn't get any easier it would seem to keep up with the fast pace moving world that is Microsoft technologies.

The exam is tomorrow so I am signing off just a little earlier as I need the sleep.  I will be up very early to get myself reading again before the 9:30am meet up time and 10am exam.  I came here with nothing but if I leave with an exam under my belt, it would mean a lot and would be a bonus.  I know some people come here and their performance is monitored by their employer, fortunately mine isn't so I don't have that added pressure that some of my alumni do.

Good night!

Click here to see days 4 to 7 of Rowan’s SQL Server 2012 experience with Firebrand Training:

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dearest Tumblr users - Tumblr Hacked by GNAA

Tumblr Hacked

Dearest 'Tumblr' users,  We have taken the liberty of upgrading your (rather tasteless, we must say) blog to our premier GNAA Deluxe Gary Niger (pictured to the left) Signed Edition! This is in response to the seemingly pandemic growth and world-wide propagation of the most FUCKING WORTHLESS, CONTRIVED, BOURGEOISIE, SELF-CONGRATULATING AND DECADENT BULLSHIT THE INTERNET EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF FACILITATING. However, we do not believe you are beyond redemption! All you have to do is DRINK BLEACH AND DIE YOU EMO, SELF-INSISTING, SELF DEPRECATING, SELF-INDULGENT EMPTY HUSKS OF HUMAN BEINGS. REPEAT AFTER ME: I WISH I WAS PROFOUND, BUT I'M NOT! I WISH I WAS ORIGINAL, BUT I'M NOT! I WISH MY IMPENDING DEATH WAS OF ANY CONSEQUENCE, BUT IT IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT! Your last chance for redemption hinges upon your death; your death which was most fortunately prescribed by your most unfortunate birth. Fret not, dear emo, your death will be regarded as a sacrifice to humanity; to die a martyr is a glorious death, and will likely be your highest contribution to society.  SHOUTZ: LITERALKA - DOLPHIN/DZL - BERRY/BRR - RORY - INFID3L - INCOG  P.S. Attempting to delete these posts will delete your tumblr account ;] But, by all means, go ahead!Tumblr accounts are currently under attack and are being shut down. If you click on the wrong post, yours will go down too.

The exploit spreading on Tumblr was developed by the anti-blogging hacker group GNAA (Gay N***** Association of America). Many of the more popular blogs have also fallen prey to the worm such as USA Today, CNET and the Daily Dot. The Dashboard of millions of users is currently being flooded with the following unflattering message:

Dearest 'Tumblr' users,

We have taken the liberty of upgrading your (rather tasteless, we must say) blog to our premier GNAA Deluxe Gary Niger (pictured to the left) Signed Edition! This is in response to the seemingly pandemic growth and world-wide propagation of the most F****** WORTHLESS, CONTRIVED, BOURGEOISIE, SELF-CONGRATULATING AND DECADENT BULLS*** THE INTERNET EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF FACILITATING. However, we do not believe you are beyond redemption! All you have to do is DRINK BLEACH AND DIE YOU EMO, SELF-INSISTING, SELF DEPRECATING, SELF-INDULGENT EMPTY HUSKS OF HUMAN BEINGS. REPEAT AFTER ME: I WISH I WAS PROFOUND, BUT I'M NOT! I WISH I WAS ORIGINAL, BUT I'M NOT! I WISH MY IMPENDING DEATH WAS OF ANY CONSEQUENCE, BUT IT IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT! Your last chance for redemption hinges upon your death; your death which was most fortunately prescribed by your most unfortunate birth. Fret not, dear emo, your death will be regarded as a sacrifice to humanity; to die a martyr is a glorious death, and will likely be your highest contribution to society.


P.S. Attempting to delete these posts will delete your tumblr account ;] But, by all means, go ahead!

**We’ve taken the liberty of editing some of the offensive text of the original message 

DO NOT CLICK IF YOU SEE THE ABOVE POST, AND DO NOT TWEET A LINK TO IT as you’ll get infected too if you signed in to Tumblr.

It has been reported that 8,600 Tumblr users have been infected and counting.

What to do if you’ve been infected

Don’t worry, there’s a quick fix. All you’ll have to do is go to the Tumblr mass editor, delete the post and refresh. You should also change your password for security.

A developer has suggested that the exploit uses a"data-uri script tag" in the video embed field.

So it runs a script through the section of the site that's supposed to only allow video embed codes from sites like YouTube and Vimeo.

Dearest Tumblr usersTumblr has taken to twitter to report that they are working on resolving the issue "as swiftly as possible".

Friday, 30 November 2012

Hacktober - Facebook hacks its employees

Employees for Facebook were put to the test this October on their now yearly 'Hacktober' event. 

So whats 'Hacktober'? It's when Facebook teaches its employees how to detect and prevent cyber attacks. But there's a twist, Facebook doesn't just take them on an IT security course... it hacks them. In other words, its the its the other way performing ethical hacking within the company.

Facebook Hacktober'Hacktober' lasts the entire 31 days of the month, and has a number of simulated security threats. The security threats includes attacks to employee computers to see if they fall victim to the attack and to see who identifies and reports the issue.

Those lucky enough to catch the phishing scam or security threat created by Facebook and report it (it can be to their private emails or throughout the site) receive a prize.

Prizes this year included Facebook-branded shirts, bandannas and stickers.

But if the employee was unlucky enough to fall for the security threat and/or not report it, they would under go further IT security training.

Facebook's Security Director Ryan McGeehan spoke to the publishers at Mashable about their yearly event:

“Webinars don’t exactly fit in well here, so we wanted to do something unique in line with our hacking culture to teach employees about cybersecurity,” 

“We took the theme of October, fear and pranks and created something that is both fun and educational.”

October is now celebrated as a National Cyber Security Awareness month in the US. 

Ryan McGeehan added "“People don’t always lock their doors until they have been robbed,” McGeehan said. “It’s easy for cyber security awareness month to go by like a trip to the dentist, so we wanted to do something with an impact and not have the security team talk down with tips to the rest of the staff.” 

With the increasing numbers of cyber attacks, we are starting to see more and more companies introduce innovative security measures to prevent the chaos seen in other companies like PayPalBharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and thousands of other companies. 

The security threats of 2011 were enough to scare even governments around the world. Because of this, opportunities are popping up everywhere for IT Security Professionals.

Find out the top 5 IT Certifications to go for here:

Thursday, 29 November 2012

WhatsApp Error: Status unavailable

WhatsApp users are seeing a message on all their contacts saying "Error: Status Unavailable".
WhatsApp Error

But don't panic, WhatsApp took to twitter and facebook to state that the WhatsApp error should be resolved "soon-ish..." (See tweet to the right).

Despite this, users are still being bombarded with long messages telling them to string the message along in order to keep using WhatsApp as a free service. It also warns users that if they don't forward the message, their account will be shut down. The Whatsapp status error string message is as follows: 

"Before you read this, go to your contacts and look at everyones status! Should say error: status unavailable. Hello everyone, it seems that all the warnings were real, the use of WhatsApp cost money from summer 2012. If you send this string to 18 different on your list, your icon will be blue and will be free for you. If you do not believe me see tomorrow at 6 pm ending WhatsApp and have to pay to open it, this is by law.This message is to inform all of our users, our servers have recently been very congested, so we are asking your help to solve this problem. We require our active users forwarded this message to each of the people in your contact list to confirm our active users using WhatsApp, if you do not send this message to all your contacts WhatsApp, then your account will remain inactive with the consequence of losing all their contactsMessage from Jim Balsamic (CEO of Whatsapp) we have had an over usage of user names on whatsapp Messenger. We are requesting all users to forward this message to their entire contact list. If you do not forward this message, we will take it as your account is invalid and it will be deleted within the next 48 hours. Please DO NOT ignore this message or whatsapp will no longer recognise your activation. If you wish to re-activate your account after it has been deleted, a charge of 25.00 will be added to your monthly bill. We are also aware of the issue involving the pictures updates not showing. We are working diligently at fixing this problem and it will be up and running as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation from the Whatsapp team ”WhatsApp is going to cost us money soon. The only way that it will stay free is if you are a frequent user i.e. you have at least 10 people you are chatting with. To become a frequent user send this message to 10 people who receive it (2 ticks) and your WhatsApp logo should turn Red to indicate a frequent user. Am sorry had no option! And check now the status of every individual contact is showing : Status error"

Although it can get irritating, just try to ignore them and remain clam. WhatsApp does not intend to charge its users for using its services. Some users have come up with funny spoofs of the WhatsApp Error status string messages. One Facebook user posted:

WARNING!! As of tomorrow - Whatsapp will automatically start dragging the Earth into the moon. To change this option, go to Settings > Planetary Settings > Trajectory then UNCLICK the box that says 'Apocalypse.' and resend this message to 10 people. If you click on favourites you'll see "Error: status unavailable", that somehow proves it will happen, its definitely not just an error from Whatsapp...

Another wrote:

"Please dip you mobiles in water to get back your old status."

This isn't the first time the application has been in the media for the wrong reasons, 'WhatsApp Error: Status unavailable' follows on from the security issues identified in the application in Mid September following an exposé by Heise Security

The popular security site found that WhatsApp can be easily hacked using freely available tools. Adding that anyone using the application on a public Wi-Fi network risks having their data stolen and even used to send and receive messages. 

"Once hacked, there is no way to restore account security – attackers will be able to continue to use the hacked account at their discretion."

Monday, 26 November 2012

Linux - the most in demand talent in 2012

The Linux Jobs Report revealed, that out of the 2,300 surveyed, eight in ten said that hiring a Linux talent is a priority in 2012. Over 50% of the firms had also said that they planned on increasing the number of people who are Linux skilled.

Linux CertificationThe majority of the companies were looking for professionals skilled in Linux, with three to five years’ experience.

A massive 67% revealed that they’re looking for Linux Developers, while 55% are looking for Linux system administrators.

The average salary rise in the industry was only 2%, but Linux professionals “saw a five per cent increase, in their pay” according to the report. This shows the edge they have over others in the industry.

But despite being in demand, companies still face a challenge. Linux professionals are in the few and finding one is very hard.

“85 per cent say finding Linux talent is somewhat to very difficult, making Linux professionals some of the most sought after talent in 2012.”

There are two main certifications in Linux: Linux+ Powered by LPI Level 1 and LPI Level 2.

The LPI Level 1 course provides the basic hardware, software, and networking skills needed to function in an entry-level Linux role. The course covers all the major Linux distributions (Red Hat, Caldera, SuSE, Debian, TurboLinux, Slackware, etc.).

The LPI level 2 certification program is designed for IT professionals who administer a small to medium-sized site. It provides the necessary knowledge to plan, implement, maintain, secure and troubleshoot a small mixed (MS, Linux) network. Including a LAN server (samba), internet gateway (firewall, proxy, mail, news), or internet server (webserver, FTP server).

Friday, 23 November 2012

Hacktavists hit PayPal with £3.5m attack

Anonymous has launched an attack on PayPal after it announced the decision to block payments to Wikileaks.

The online transaction company was attacked by four member of the Anonymous group. The members called it 'Operation Payback'.

Anonymous DDoS Hack PayPal
The prosecutor, Mr Patel said they used distributed denial of service, or DDoS, which flooded the targets computers with massive amounts of online requests. If you visited the sites under attack by the anonymous group, you'd be directed to a page with the message 'You've tried to bite the Anonymous hand. You angered the hive and now you are being stung'.

The four members are currently facing trial which is expected to last two weeks. 22 year old Christopher Weatherhead aka 'nerdo' is in the small group of cabal leaders in Anonymous. He pleaded not guilty to conspiring to impair the operation of computers between 1 August 2010 and 22 January 2011.

He also carried out attacks to MasterCard, Visa, Ministry of Sound, the British Recorded Music Industry and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry who also opposed internet piracy.

Ashley Rhodes, 27, Peter Gibson, 24, and an 18 year old who cannot be named for legal reasons have already pleaded guilty to the charge, all from the UK.

Mr Patel stated "It is the prosecution case that Christopher Weatherhead, the defendant, is a cyber-attacker and that he, and others like him, waged a sophisticated and orchestrated campaign of online attacks that paralysed a series of targeted computer systems belonging to companies to which they took issue with, for whatever reason, and those attacks caused unprecedented harm".

He said PayPal also had to pay for more software and hardware to defend against similar attacks in the future and he said the total cost to the firm was estimated at £3.5m.

You too can learn how to perform DDoS attacks and help companies like PayPal defend themselves against it. Become a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and earn on average £42,750 in the UK ( As a CEH, job opportunities are endless, you can work for private companies, or even the government. With the likes of PayPal, Government sites around the world, Sony and Nintendo’s security being compromised, more and more companies are taking their security very seriously.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

How to become a Microsoft Certified Professional


As you probably know, Microsoft has changed its certification program. This can be quite confusing so we hope this blog gives you the answers and advice you need in order to know which exam to take next. Choosing the right exam now, will help you get your next certifications faster.

Where to start your certification path?

Microsoft Certification pathMicrosoft has made their certification paths into a pyramid:
As you can see, it has been divided into three parts. You start from Associate, then Expert and finally to Master.

The first level; Associate, has three certification paths. It has the old MCTS, the MCSA 2008 and the latest MCSA 2012. 

Before we continue, it's important to note that you should check the Microsoft site to see if there have been any changes to the requirements, and to see whether exams are still available. Exams usually expires when mainstream support for the product ends.

The MCSA 2008 (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) looks at configuring and supporting an Active Directory environment using Windows Server 2008. To gain this cert, you’ll need to pass the following three exams:
70-640 - Active Directory
70-642 - Network Infrastructure
70-646 - Server Administrator

If you already have an MCSA 2008, you are able to update your cert to the new MCSA 2012 in just four days by sitting the 70-417 exam which is available until the 31st of July 2014. This is twice as fast as taking the full MCSA 2012 course and saves the need to start again from the beginning.

MCSA logoMicrosoft Certified Solutions Associate 2012 is aimed at supporting Windows Server 2012 and SQL Server. Like MCSA 2008, you will need to complete three exams in order to gain the certification.

For MCSA Windows Server 2012, you’ll need:
70-410 - Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
70-411 - Administering Windows Server 2012
70-412 - Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

For MCSA SQL Server, you’ll need:
70-461 - Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
70-462 - Administering Windows Server 2012
70-463 - Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services

MCSE logoThis certification is a level up on the pyramid; this is now in the expert level. It retired a long time ago, and some of you might remember it. But it has been brought back… kind of. It used to be called Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, but is now called Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, just like what happened to the MCITP and MCSA. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert looks at solutions based on the current technology at the time. In order for someone to keep an MCSE certification, they will need to recertify as new technology it released.

There are four certification paths for MCSE:

In order to get these certifications, you’ll need to pass the following exams:

70-415 – Implementing a Desktop Infrastructure
70-416 – Implementing Desktop Application Environments

70-413 – Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
70-414 – Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure

70-246 – Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
70-247 – Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

70-461 – Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012
70-462 – Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database
70-463 – Implementing Data Warehouses with Microsoft SQL Server 2012

Not including SQL, the other three certs have one thing in common; they require the MCSA Windows Server 2012 certification. If you wish to follow the MCSE SQL Server path, you’ll first need the MCSA SQL Server certification.

MCSM (Microsoft Certified Solutions Master)

The next level is Master. This is the hardest level to achieve. Professionals at this level have an MCSMMicrosoft Certified Solutions Master. In order to get this certification, you’ll need to complete the relevant certification for that area. But even when that is complete, you’ll need to submit an application to Microsoft for them to approve it. It must show that you have relevant experience and expertise to be awarded this certification. It’s not easy…

The below certifications are the older Microsoft certs which almost all have expiry dates.

This was most common starting point on the Microsoft certification path. Most of the current MCTS exams are due to expire soon. Depending on the certification, you will need to take one to three exams in order to pass. Currently there are 20 different technologies, and it has been said that no new MCTS certifications will be released.

The MCITP certification is what the MCSE is now; the expert level. It is aimed at IT professionals who are responsible for administering the network at a server level. But, currently almost all MCITP certifications except Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync have expiry dates of July 31 2013. It has 15 different certifications. In order to get one of these certifications, you’ll need to pass anywhere from two to five exams. If you have any of the certifications below, you will be able to upgrade them to the new MSCA Server 2012 by taking the 70-417 exam. This is the same exam needed to upgrade your MCSA 2008 to MCSA 2012.

MCITP: Virtualization Administrator
MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator
MCITP: Lync Server Administrator
MCITP: Sharepoint Administrator
MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator

It is important to try and move to the Associate level MCSA 2012 certification as it is the most up to date Microsoft certification and will provide a foundation for your IT career with a stepping stone to the next level: Expert.

Good luck on your chosen certification path.

About the Author:
Julian writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Julian is the companies Digital Marketer.