Thursday, 31 January 2013

Microsoft Technology Posters - The Xboxercist


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Welcome to the third instalment of Microsoft Technology Posters, today's Movie Poster Parody has a slightly more sinister feel.  As the eerie green light chases away the oppressive dark of the night we are greeted with the silhouette of "the Xboxercist".

These days it's perhaps not hard to imagine requiring the services of a Priest, some Holy Water and the power of God to separate children from Demon incarnate Xbox Games console. Yusuf Mehdi,  Head of Marketing Strategy for Xbox was quoted by the LA Times  in march 2012, stating that the average Xbox user is online for 84 hours a month! With half of that time spent gaming.

But before you race to the phone to call your local minister, take the time to read this interesting post by Daniel Burrus; a  Technology Futurist and Innovation Expert, titled "An Education Revolution: Automate and Humanize!". Burrus argues that today's complex games teach kids to memorize elaborate scenarios and develop sophisticated strategies and tactics to complete goals. It helps them to focus, prioritise and make complex decisions in a high pressure, time sensitive situation. All the while they communicate via head set to instruct/communicate with friends and gaming allies, when's the last time you did that at work?

Anyway....let us not forget our Microsoft Technology Poster....check back tomorrow for the fourth instalment.

The Xboxercist


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About the Author:
Edward is a member of the Marketing team overseeing the Content Strategy and SEO for Firebrand Training's portfolio of websites. 

50% of Londoners hacked




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A recent survey has found that over half of Londoners have fallen victim to cyber crime, with a fifth of them losing money as a result.

According to the Get Safe Online campaign, each attack is costing its victims an average of £274.

Chief executive, Tony Neate said “We conducted this survey to highlight the need for more awareness about staying safe online and it has done just that.”

The survey also found that a third of people did not know they were putting themselves at risk online. The figure sounds quite serious considering London is a technology hot stop were you can’t walk for 5 minutes without seeing someone online. Whether it’s through their phone, tablet or laptop. 


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, 30 January 2013

Microsoft Technology Posters - Bill and Ted's Excel Adventure


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Today we bring you the second instalment of Microsoft Technology Movie Posters, made possible thanks to the fantastic submissions from Firebrand readers during the Microsoft Movie Mash-up Competition back in August.

Perhaps one of my favourites, this image was made possible thanks to a spark of genius from the @TheTerinator. We hope you all love it as much as we do.

Bill and Ted's Excel Adventure



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One can only imagine the mischief Bill and Ted would have gotten up to as the analysed spreadsheets to discover and reveal hidden insights in their data. They would have no doubt described Microsoft Excel as "totally boadcious", of course back in good old 1989 they'd be using Excel 2.2. Having not had the pleasure of experiencing 2.2, I imagine the functions available in that version of Excel were somewhat lacking compared to the eagerly anticipated Office 2013, sporting a  Metro Design and cloud integration.

Tomorrow we will be taking a look at the third instalment of Microsoft Technology Posters....


About the Author:
Edward is a member of the Marketing team overseeing the Content Strategy and SEO for Firebrand Training's portfolio of websites. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Windows Server 2012 and how it can benefit you and your business

This video by Michael Leworthy, gives a high level look into Windows Server 2012.

Windows Server 2012 is the broadest and most scalable web and application platform which gives you the ability to build and deploy applications in the cloud, on the premise and virtually.

Millions of companies are moving to the cloud and seeing the benefits, find out how it can benefit you and your organisation:




Interested in gaining an MCSA or MCSE on Windows Server? The MCSA certification course will give you the fundamental set of skills needed to develop and manage your Windows Server environment. You'll gain all these skills - and the certification. It’s also your first step towards earning an MCSE: Server Infrastructure or MCSE: Desktop Infrastructure certification.

Apple powered The Terminator!?



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You've seen it, that mysterious scrolling code running down the bright red eyes of the terminator, giving it orders to kill Sarah Connor. But where is this evil code coming from?

The Terminator Powered by Apple

When you take a closer look, it turns out the code comes from Apple! Apple (AKA Skynet) who suspiciously released its Macintosh Performa on the year before Skynet became ‘Self-aware’ (1997), has been used in other Sci-fi movies too.

But relax, before you design a Robot to send back to the past, the harmless code shown in the movie is actually an assembly code for the Apple II. “Maybe the Terminator is booting up off a 5.25-inch floppy.”

The infamous Terminator is among many other movies which have had their robots powered by one of the tech giants of today, as Networkworld discovered.

Robocop was powered by Microsoft?


Our dedicated police officer, who was killed and brought back to life as a Cyborg, ran COMMAND.COM to keep him alive (see top left). That’s right, Robocop was powered by MS-DOS.

Robocop was powered by Microsoft

Others…


In Terminator 3, if you look closely to the left of the her hub, the T-X model shows "Remote Access," "Software Update," "Quicktime Player," and others all from the Mac OS 9. And Apple didn’t use this as an ‘I’m a Mac” ad?

Terminator 3 powered by Apple code

In both Stargate SG-1: Ark of Truth and the movie Strike Back, you see the JavaScript source code files for WordPress.

Have you noticed any coding on one of your favourite Sci-Fi movies?

Let us know in the comment section below…


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, 23 January 2013

The top 100 CIOs of 2012 in the UK




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Publishing company, CIO, have announced its yearly top 100 CIOs in the UK.

Top 100 CIO's of 2012 in the UK - CIO logoSince the 2008 recession, it has been very difficult for many companies to operate in the UK. And with the fast and ever changing world of technology, it has become essential for businesses to change the way they operate in order to stay alive and keep their customers happy. 

CIO online editor Mark Chillingworth stated that “success will only result if CIOs embrace the transformation agenda and organisations and their boards understand that if they do not engage with, understand, promote and lobby for technology led transformation they will struggle to adapt to the environment that prevails.”

The list was formed by a CIO panel of experts, who select the top 100 they believe to be the foremost transformative CIOs in the British economy over the last 12 months. So the list is not based around the size of their estate.

The top 10 CIOs of 2012

  1. Easyjet – Trevor Didcock
  2. Severn Trent Water – Myron Hrycyk
  3. Thomson Reuters – Jane Moran
  4. Marks & Spencer – Darrell Stein
  5. COLT – Mark Leonard
  6. Betfair - Tony McAlister
  7. The Welsh Assembly Government - Gwym Thomas
  8. University College London Hospitals - James Thomas
  9. The Cooperative Group - Ian Dyson
  10. Hiscox - Andrew Turner

For the complete list of the top 100 CIOs and why they were chosen, click here: http://www.cio.co.uk/cio100/company-name/  

Who do you think should've been in the top 10?

Let us know in the comment section below...


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.

IT Security high in demand - what certs to go for



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It’s everywhere, we keep hearing. Cyber crime is taking over the world with unending waves of attacks that seem to get more and more difficult to deal with.  Even MI5 is battling "astonishing" levels of cyber-attacks in the UK industry and Symantec has stated in their 2011 report that they recorded thousands of hacking events every second.

The subject also came up in the ASIS / (ISC)2 Congress 2012 in Philadelphia when Janet Napolitano, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, stated that there has been over 106,000 reports of cyber attacks in 2011 to the US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team).

What this means…

As the number of IT security threats continue to grow, the demand for those to defend against it has become ever more important. IT security has become the fastest growing sector in the IT industry.

Taking the opportunity

Opportunities in IT security are popping up everywhere so why not take it? Get the right security certification and earn on average £50,000. Here are four certs which are highly respected and will guarantee advancement.


Top four security certs




CISSP is offered by the highly respected (ISC)2 vendor. CISSP professionals are always in demand and many businesses now require it. It’s one of the key certs employers look for to fill management-level information security positions. Having a CISSP demonstrates that you have a strong understanding of security concepts as well as the specific methodologies involved.

It is very well known in the IT security community and has also become a requirement in many companies in order to join their IT security team.

According to itjobswatch.co.uk, the average salary for a CISSP professional is £50,000.



CISM is offered by ISACA and is also highly sought after for IT positions. Widely recognised in organisations and government agencies.

It provides a body of knowledge for information security management, focusing mainly on information risk management. It also demonstrates to employers that the professional has a strong understanding of security governance, risk management and compliance, security program development and management, and security incident management.

According to itjobswatch.co.uk, the average salary for a CISM professional is £55,000.


3. EC-Council - Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)


The CEH certification from the EC-Council is widely recognised as the entry into the hacking world. As an ethical hacker, you’d attempt to penetrate the networks or computers of the organisation you work for. Why would you do this? "White hat" ethical hackers are widely sought after to help find and fix the vulnerabilities that would otherwise be exploited by "black hat" criminal hackers.

Demand for CEH professionals continues to grow. Due to the alarming increase in cyber attacks over the past decade, organisations are looking for ways to protect themselves and tighten their security. The CEH course and certification covers all that is needed to identify system vulnerabilities and countermeasures.

According to itjobswatch.co.uk, the average salary for a CEH professional is £40,000.


4. CompTIA Security+


The Security+ certification is offered by the world renowned CompTIA and is one of the highest paying security certifications. It demonstrates that you have a strong knowledge of security concepts, cryptography, access control, and the tools and procedures to respond to security incidents. You’ll also learn about disaster recovery methods, risk management, and compliance and operational security. 

Once gained, you’ll then be able to anticipate and prevent cyber attacks, and effectively deal with security events. The Security+ cert is greatly recognised in the industry, many companies have it as a requirement including the U.S Department of Defense’s IT department.

According to itjobswatch.co.uk, the average salary for a Security+ professional is £47,000.

Note, it's worth checking the links to itjobswatch.co.uk for each of the certs, as average salaries can vary over time.

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.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Kim Dotcom’s MEGA - Massive demand




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Kim Dotcom MEGA logoThe cyber pioneer, Kim Dotcom and founder of the now obsolete Megaupload, has launched the new cloud file storage and sharing site called ‘MEGA’ on Sunday at his New Zealand mansion – mega.co.nz

The service was released exactly one year after his New Zealand mansion was raided by authorities who also shut down his highly successful site - Megaupload.  The site was known to hold pirated materials, but charges against him were dropped.

Kim Dotcom briefly spoke on the shutdown of his previous site in the MEGA launch Press Conference. He stated that “The allegations against us are wrong, we are innocent and we will prevail.”

The site has started off extremely well. Dotcom has stated that over half a million users had already signed up in the first 14 hours. Some are estimating that it has now passed the one million mark. Although it could be getting a little too much for him as he admits his new file-sharing site is struggling to keep up with massive demand.

Dotcom designed the site to be more protected from future charges. The difference from Megaupload is that all the files are now encrypted using a 2048-bit RSA key. Meaning that Dotcom cannot be accused of knowingly storing copyrighted materials because he technically will not know the content of the files stored on MEGA.

MEGA describes its User Controlled Encryption (UCE) as ‘symmetrical encryption’. Unlike other sites like Dropbox, the user in MEGA holds both the encryption and decryption keys. The standard cloud storage providers usually hold the decryption key themselves.

This is what allows other file storage services to decrypt files and give data to government authorities. This will not be possible with MEGA, as it does not retain the decryption keys.

This can still be undone by its users, who have the power to share their files and the encryption keys. Even though the terms of service prohibits uploading and distributing copyrighted material, users are known to routinely ignore them. If users do post links and the encryption keys to public sites that index pirated material, MEGA could face clear external evidence of what is on its servers, even if it cannot see the files itself.

The service offers 50GB of storage for free and three Pro tiers of 500GB to 4TB for $13-$40 a month.

Watch Dotcom speak about his new site MEGA, Hollywood, Internet & Copyright Enforcement in the interview below.



In an interview with the Guardian, Dotcom states “we want to show the world that we are innovators. We want to show the world that cloud storage has a right to exist. And, of course, when you launch something like this, you can expect some controversy. The content industry is going to react really emotionally about this. The US government will probably try and destroy the new business … you’ve got to stand up against that, and fight that, and I’m doing that … I will not allow them to chill me.”

Below you can watch the full MEGA Launch Press Conference.



In the conference he states: "They can't blame me for the actions of third parties. Megaupload was a dual-use technology. You can use it for good things, and you can use it for bad things. If someone sends something illegal in an envelope through your postal service, you don't shut down the post office. If someone speeds with the car he just bought, you don't go to the car manufacturer and say, hey, we're shutting you down."


About MEGA Kim Dotcom

Do you believe the shutdown of his previous site Megaupload was fair? Let us know in the comment section below.


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.

Microsoft Technology Posters - Rise of the Silver Server


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Back in August Firebrand launched the Microsoft Movie Mash-up Competition.

It was a Friday afternoon, and we thought what better way to ring in the weekend than challenging our readers to combine famous movie titles with Microsoft products. We had hundreds of suggestions ranging  from the sublime, 'The Social .Net-work', to the ridiculous 'Outlook Who's Talking'.

In the end we picked the top five and handed out a range of prizes. But we couldn't let the fun stop there and so we decided to take some of our favourite Microsoft Movie Mash-Up's and create the alternative original movie posters.

So here's the first instalment of the results below - which also range from the sublime to the ridiculous. We'd love to know your thoughts. Perhaps you can do better?

Fantastic 4 - Rise of the Silver Server



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About the Author:
Edward is a member of the Marketing team overseeing the Content Strategy and SEO for Firebrand Training's portfolio of websites. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Will you pay five times more for Windows 8?




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In a recent announcement by Microsoft, the price for a Windows 8 upgrade will increase by as much as 400%. The price increase will take effect from February 1st, when their three-month promotional discount ends.
Windows 8

This means that the current £45 deal for a Windows 8 Pro upgrade will expire in less than two weeks. Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc stated that the upgrade will cost close to £200, five times its original price.

LeBlanc also stated that the download copy will also go up and will cost the same as the boxed copy, which is the same strategy used originally with Windows 7.

When Windows 8 was released, it seemed like Microsoft was feeling under pressure from Apple and was willing to follow a similar pricing approach. Apple was selling its OS X 10.8, aka Mountain Lion, for just £20. But it seems like Microsoft are set in going back to their original pricing strategy.


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, 17 January 2013

Google student coding contest




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Calling all student coders: The Hardcode contest begins tomorrow!


It takes a lot of responsibility to protect user security and privacy.  You must understand how to break applications, find vulnerability  and understand how to prevent them from happening. As we saw last week with Oracle-Sun and its Java plugin, even one vulnerability can give hackers and cyber criminals the opportunity to exploit and attack millions of people.

To help raise awareness of the risks involved in insecure development habits, Google is hosting Hardcore. A contest based on secure coding on the Google App Engine platform.
Google Hardcode contest logo 
The contest is designed for full-time students and is open to teams of up to five. The contestants will have to develop open source applications that follow a set of requirements in functionality and security.

There will be two rounds. The first one will be a qualifying round over the Internet, with participation from any team of students. The final round will take place during SyScan on April 23 - 25 in Singapore.

During the first round, teams will be told to build an application and describe its security design. A group of judges will then evaluate all submitted applications and choose the top five to move to the final round.

The five qualifying teams will have to develop additional features and fix any security issues found in their first submission.

After two more days of hacking, the judges will rank the projects and select the grand prize winning team that will receive $20,000 Singapore dollars. The 2nd-5th place finalist teams will receive $15,000, $10,000, $5,000, and $5,000, respectively.

Hardcode begins on Friday, January 18th 2013.


Full contest details will be announced through Google’s mailing list, you can subscribe here for more information.


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, 16 January 2013

What is MSP?

APMG MSP logo


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What is MSP?


MSP stands for Managing Successful Programmes. It's a method that is applied to program management, mostly for transformational change.

It provides the framework for implementing business strategies and initiatives, or large-scale change, where there is a "vision" of the programme's outcome - a transformed organisation for example. 

It helps to organise, manage, accommodate and control these changes so that the eventual outcome meets the objectives set by the business strategy.

A program is usually where there are multiple projects that are being managed towards some goal or level.

It's used widely by many organisations, in both public and private sectors. 


What are the benefits of using MSP?


MSP gives a structured framework to ensure a program achieves its goals. It does this by guaranteeing that there is:

  • Strong leadership
  • Focus on the benefit delivery
  • Specific aims to achieve
  • Strong engagement from stakeholders 
  • Realistic aims put into place


What can MSP do for my company?


It maximizes efficiencies in recruiting, hiring, training and promoting employees. It also increases productivity as you’ll be able to perform at accepted industry standards.



Who should earn a Managing Successful Programmes Certification?


  • Senior Responsible Owners and Service Managers considering implementing a Programme Management System
  • Mangers who are new to the whole managing projects management in a multi-project environment
  • Project Managers who are part of a larger programme and who need to be aware of the wider issues
  • Department Managers, whose staff is involved in Programme Management Systems
  • Business Change Managers in all areas of the organisation

Career changer


Managing Successful Programmes certification is an excellent way to develop in the management sector of the IT industry. Managing Successful Programmes focuses on the latest management standards.


What's the difference between MSP and PRINCE2?


MSP helps you manage a program environment which usually means managing multiple projects. Because of this, program management is at a much higher level than project management. PRINCE2 is a structured method which is applied to a project environment to ensure they deliver specific objects. As PRINCE2 is focused on single projects, it usually has specific outcomes which are well defined. Whereas program management usuallygains its outcomes through time.


What MSP exams do I need to take?


There are three exams available for MSP:

Foundation Exam

The first one is the Foundation exam. It is multiple question and closed book. You’ll have 40 min to complete the exam which is out of 50 marks. You’ll need to at least get 30 marks (60%) to pass.


Practitioner Exam

The next exam is the Practitioner. In order to do this exam, you’ll first need to pass foundation exam. This is an open book exam that lasts 2:30 hours and is out of 180 marks. You’ll need at least 90 marks to pass (50%).


Advanced Practitioner Exam

The last exam is the Advanced Practitioner exam. You’ll first need to pass the Practitioner. Unlike the other two, it's an essay style exam which lasts 2:30 hours. It's open book and you’ll need at least 35 out of 75 marks to pass (50%).


Do I need PRINCE2 as a prerequisite for MSP?


No, but it does help and is recommended.

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.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

How to disable Java - new vulnerability found



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If you are one of the millions of users who has the Java plugin installed on any of your web browsers, then you could be at risk.

A new vulnerability has been discovered in the Java plugin that allows hackers to use malicious code to access information from your PC.

The US government has warned everyone with an official announcement through the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team’s (CERT) site, stating that the bugs in the program were being exploited to commit identity theft and other crimes. You can find the announcement here: www.us-cert.gov

Oracle-Sun, the company who created Java are currently working on resolving the issue, but until then the safest option is to disable the java plugin. They recently released an update to the plugin but the US Department of Homeland Security warned that it does not do enough to protect computers from attacks, so it’s still advised to disable the plugin until further notice.

"Unless it is absolutely necessary to run Java in web browsers, disable it," – CERT

How to disable Java on Windows

To disable Java on a Windows PC, go to the Control Panel. Open the Java icon, click on the Security panel and uncheck the box that says "enable Java content in the browser."

How to disable Java on Mac

To disable Java in Mac OS X, click on the Apple symbol symbol at the top right; select System Preferences. On System Preferences, type in Java and select the highlighted panel. One opened on a new console, click on the Security tab and on the security settings, and unclick the box which says Enable Java content in the browser. Finally, click Apply and you should have disabled Java in OS X.

How to disable Java on your web browser

To disable Java on your web browser, click on settings; then ‘Extensions’ or ‘Plugins’; find the Java plugin and disable it.


How to disable Java

Further information is available from Oracle on its Java website.


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.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Greatest threat to the UK armed forces - Cyber attacks



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A Cyber attack has now been said to be the biggest threat to the UK armed forces.

Despite this, MPs recently stated in a report that there are as of yet no plans to protect soldiers, warships and aircraft from hackers.

Almost everything has become reliant on technology and the internet which now-a-days can be easily compromised by a 15 year old in the comfort of his own house.

If radar and satellite systems were compromised and came under attack it could be fatal for our armed forces, the commons defense committee stated.

To add to our worries, the government seems to have no contingency plans meaning that the military would not know how to act in the event of a cyber attack.

Chairman James Arbuthnot stated “If it has none, it should say so, and urgently create some”. He also accused ministers of being complacent about the threat.

Last year, despite budget cuts in defense spending, Prime Minister David Cameron said that £650 million has been earmarked for a cyber security initiative. You can watch a video report on effectiveness of the investment here: Video: McAfee's CTO on UK government cyber security spending - 18 Dec 2012 - Computing News.

In another report by the Cabinet Office, British businesses have suffered about £21 billion a year from cyber crime.

Be part of the defense  join the counter attack and take advantage of the opportunity. Gain an IT security certification and earn up to £100,000.

Read here: http://www.crisp360.com/news/top-5-it-security-certifications to find out the top IT security certifications.

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, 10 January 2013

Ouchage – Windows Azure





Just when you thought it was safe to move to the cloud there’s a whole series of high-profile outages, but should you really give up on the cloud?


Christmas and New Year is always a good time to schedule a bit of downtime, nobody really works much and a few hours here or there won’t make much difference. Unfortunately the same isn’t true for unscheduled downtime, as PC management service Soluto and online movie service Netflix found to their cost over this Christmas and New Year.


Netflix app logoNetflix was the first outage victim just as the US was cozying up to their internet TVs to watch some streamed Christmas movies the service failed, and it continued to fail over the Christmas Eve peak viewing time and into Christmas Day. The next victim was Soluto, for 62 hours between Christmas and New Year the service was down, no doubt just as their users were probably taking advantage of a bit of R&R to sort out their computers before the New Year. 

The more observant of you will have noticed the words victim used in both of these examples? But were they really victims or did they seed their own problems by choosing the cloud?

Netflix are a service that couldn’t exist without the cloud - to build the sort of infrastructure they needed to launch would have required tens of millions of dollars and taken years to build – and they also know that to build a successful consumer service you need to inspire confidence. So unlike many businesses Netflix take time out to test and test their systems continually using a team of Chaos Monkeys and Chaos Gorillas to see what happens if their own internal systems, and those of their cloud service provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) were to go wrong. 

Soluto logoSoluto are similar in their use of the cloud but very different when it comes to resilience. Like Netflix Soluto wouldn’t have been able to launch if it wasn’t for the cloud, but unlike Netflix, Soluto took a decision to rely solely on their cloud provider (Microsoft Azure) to look after the service resilience. As the Soluto team explains in their apology email.

We could have obviously spent time building various mechanisms to make sure that whatever happens to Azure, we’ll be able to provide our service (the extreme example would be creating a redundant deployment in Amazon). But that’s not the startup way. Because by doing so, we wouldn’t have created hundreds of features for our users at the same time. And for well over a year, we didn’t experience a severe downtime except for a single case of several hours in February, but once a year that’s acceptable.

So are Netflix victims and Soluto guilty? The answer is probably yes, and no. Soluto were unlucky to see such a catastrophic failure, 62 hours is a long time and no doubt Soluto will be drawing to Microsoft’s attention to their SLA agreement and be spared the bill for this month’s hosting.

What you should take away from these two high profile problems is not a fear of cloud but a template for how to deal with a crisis. If there is a problem then deal with it quickly, communicate it to your customers, and keep them regularly updated. Don’t pretend it will go away and don’t hide it, both Netflix and Soluto handled this outage well and hopefully it won’t tarnish their brands, learn from them.

Lastly, if you are choosing a cloud solution then you should probably take a look at a plan b for 2013.

About the Author:
Marcus Austin works for Firebrand Training as a Technical Author. Marcus has over 25 years’ experience in the technology and business sector. His recent work includes constructing a mobile strategy for the Guardian Media Group, together with writing and editing for magazines and websites including TechRadar, Internet Retailing, IT Perspectives, and Santander Breakthrough.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Can I hack your password in 10 minutes?


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2011 saw some of the worst passwords ever recorded! In a previous post, we found that the five worst passwords of that year were:
  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
‘password’ is the number one password?

The report was made by Splashdata which gathered data from the millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers in 2011.

But a new year has passed and with MI5 battling "astonishing" levels of cyber-attacks in the UK industry and Symantec stating in their 2011 report that they recorded thousands of hacking events every second, we have surely learnt from our mistakes, right?

According to the list below, we’re still as lazy as it gets. In the 2012 report released by Splashdata, ‘password’ is still the most popular password…

Here's the full list with comparison to 2011:

1.    password (Unchanged)
2.    123456 (Unchanged)
3.    12345678 (Unchanged)
4.    abc123 (Up 1)
5.    qwerty (Down 1)
6.    monkey (Unchanged)
7.    letmein (Up 1)
8.    dragon (Up 2)
9.    111111 (Up 3)
10.   baseball (Up 1)
11.   iloveyou (Up 2)
12.   trustno1 (Down 3)
13.   1234567 (Down 6)
14.   sunshine (Up 1)
15.   master (Down 1)
16.   123123 (Up 4)
17.   welcome (New)
18.   shadow (Up 1)
19.   ashley (Down 3)
20.   football (Up 5)
21.   jesus (New)
22.   michael (Up 2)
23.   ninja (New)
24.   mustang (New)
25.   password1 (New)

Source: Gizmodo - The 25 most popular passwords of 2012


But are we really that lazy? No and here’s why


As mentioned, this data is gathered from millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers.

There’s a reason ‘123456’ is on this list!

Many hackers use tools to randomly guess your password, and depending on its length and characters contained, it can take the tool anywhere from 10 minutes to (in my case) 44,530 years to get!


How to make hackers wait 44,530 years to get your password


Simply make your password 9 characters, add a symbol and a number. Below you can see how long it takes to hack your current password.

Length: 6 characters
Lowercase: 10 minutes
+ Uppercase: 10 hours
+ Nos. & Symbols: 18 days

Length: 7 characters
Lowercase: 4 hours
+ Uppercase: 23 days
+ Nos. & Symbols: 4 years

Length: 8 characters
Lowercase: 4 days
+ Uppercase: 3 years
+ Nos. & Symbols: 463 years

Length: 9 characters
Lowercase: 4 months
+ Uppercase: 178 years
+ Nos. & Symbols: 44,530 years


As you can see, it’s obvious why the simple passwords are on the list. It only takes 10 minutes for hackers to get any of them. Hackers aren’t going to wait more than two days to get your ‘real’ password. So relax, the world is not as lazy as it seems… unless for reasons you won’t discuss, you are concerned to see "monkey" so close to the top.

Will 2013 bring a more creative list of passwords? let us know in the comment section below.

Lets at least hope 'password' won't still be at the top.

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.