Showing posts with label Technology News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology News. Show all posts

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The First Look at Windows Server 2016

Firebrand teamed-up with Microsoft Evangelist Ed Baker to deliver a First Look at Windows Server 2016 in London, on Thursday 13th August. Seventy lucky Firebranders squeezed into a room at Microsoft’s offices in London to catch a glimpse of Windows Server 2016 in action – and to see what the Nano Server buzz is all about.

Ed opened by saying there was going to be a “fundamental change” in the way we use Windows Server. After three hours of demos – including a few PowerPoint slides - we’d learnt why.

Nano Server is at the heart of this fundamental change – it’s fast, it’s small, and it’s easy to use (common themes throughout the new look OS). Microsoft describes it as “a purpose-built operating system designed to run born-in-the-cloud applications and containers”.

Small and perfectly formed, Nano Server is designed for fewer patches and updates, faster restarts, better resource utilisation and tighter security. The focus on size was highlighted when Ed unveiled his server setup – which looked complicated as a network map on screen, but was no more than a laptop and four hard discs on the table in front of him.

“Servers aren’t valued pets”

Before we got to see Windows Server 2016 in action, we were given a reality check. Ed reminded us that “servers aren’t valued pets” concluding by bluntly saying “when you don’t need them – kill them”. We no longer need to get attached to our servers…kill off a server when you don’t need it, and reactivate it when you do. That’s the power of cloud computing.

Ed asked us all to think ‘services’, not ‘servers’. We’ve moved away from a data center being made up of expensive hardware; individual servers in a siloed infrastructure. Slow, expensive innovation and development constraints have been replaced with low-cost, standardised, automated processes. Nano Server – combined with PowerShell – is what allows us to do this.

Before getting into the detail, Ed explained just how little computing power Windows Server 2016 needs: a 1.4GHz 64-bit processor, 512MB RAM, a 32GB disk and a Network Interface Card. That’s it.

What’s New in Active Directory Domain Services?

The development of Windows 10 and Office 365 means Microsoft is heavily in the world of single sign-on and end-user self-service. Windows Server 2016 is the backbone that supports this – through Azure Active Directory (AAD)  connected to Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). As Ed explains: “If you can manage and control your identity, you can manage and control your data”.

And guess what – it’s simple. Just tell Azure AD Connect AD DS which servers it needs to be assigned to and it does the rest for you - installing the synchronisation and even ADFS if required. Other improved AD DS features include:

  • Privileged access management
  • Azure Active Directory Join
  • Microsoft Passport – helping you keep all your important data even more secure

There was also a definite cheer ripple across the room when Ed announced that Windows Server 2016 won’t work with  File Replication Service (FRS) or Windows Server 2003.

Nano Server finally unveiled

At last, Ed showed-off what everyone was here to see. He setup a Storage Direct Cluster through Nano Server, using four Nano nodes (the four hard disks mentioned at the start of the article) and a Windows Server 2016 node (the laptop).

In the past (for now the present) each disc device would need to be connected to a node. This is restrictive - especially as the network gets bigger and we’re trying to upscale. Now, storage spaces can be hooked-up directly with internal disks, eliminating the need to share SAS infrastructure.

This couldn’t have been achieved before without a shared storage mechanism like a JBOD enclosure or a SAN, now we can use standard internal storage and create a shared pool across all the nodes. In this instance each nano dodge had four small internal hard disks making 16 in total. These were combined into a storage direct pool and then added to a failover cluster, in the form of a storage volume formatted as a cluster shared volume.

The pretty-simple setup process is only done once, because it can then be re-used and automated whenever new server space is required. With the new rolling cluster upgrade, you can now add new servers to a cluster, transfer the settings to it and upgrade the cluster version number (to get all the benefits of Windows Server 2016) - all by simply running a rolling upgrade in PowerShell or though the failover cluster manger GUI.

Having spun up the network, it took an impressive 30 seconds to boot (compared to at least five minutes from previous OSs). Yes, there were some cheers in the audience.

Even more new features in Windows Server 2016

There was also time to hear about a few more features in Hyper-V and File and Storage Services. New features for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 include:
  •  Rolling Hyper-V Cluster upgrade
  • Production checkpoints
  • Hot add and remove for network adaptors and memory
  • Integration Services delivered through Windows Update
  • Storage Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Virtual machine configuration version
  • New virtual machine configuration file format
  • Hyper-V Manager improvements
  • Linux secure boot
  • Compatible with Connected Standby
  • Windows PowerShell Direct - ever lost the ability to get into a VM? Rather than binning it, you can use PowerShell Direct to get into it

New features for File and Storage Services in Windows Server 2016 include:

  • Storage Spaces Direct – the next stage in software-defined storage, which enables SATA and NVMe devices to become cluster-available. This is what enables each server to plugin direct with its own internal discs, rather than the need for a shared SAS JBOD
  • Storage Replica – developed to help you “tolerate” disasters. Disasters happen, and they can be planned for by replicating data between sites via standard storage and networks
  • Deduplication

Nano Server is seven times faster!

Ed concluded by comparing deployment and servicing (based on all patches in 2014) improvements for Nano Server. All make impressive reading:
  • Nano Server takes just 40 seconds to boot, compared to more like 300 from full Server
  • The disk footprint of Nano Server is 400MB, with Sever Core almost 5GB
  • Virtual Hard Disk size 400MB compared to 6GB in Server Core
  • Critical bulletins – for full Server, there were 23, compared to two for Nano Server
  • Number of reboots – only three from Nano with 11 from full Server

All of the demos were on Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2, with Technical Preview 3 coming soon. So in the words of Ed, download the Technical Preview now and start playing!

About the Author:        
Sarah 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. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Microsoft's new CEO: Satya Nadella - First Look


On Feb. 04, 2014, Microsoft ushered in a new era announcing Satya Nadella as CEO. Nadella was selected by the Board of Directors, and assumes responsibility with immediate effect. A 22 year veteran of Microsoft, Nadella steps up from the position of Executive Vice President overseeing Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.

In his time with the company, Nadella has been the catalyst for major strategy and technical shifts across the organisation. Most notable amongst his achievements was the decision to transition Microsoft into the cloud, overseeing the development of one of the worlds largest cloud infrastructures. Foremost in his vision for Microsoft's future development is the desire to innovate, reflected upon in his email to employees on his first day in charge. Nadella says:

"Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation. This is a critical time for the industry and for Microsoft. Make no mistake, we are headed for greater places — as technology evolves and we evolve with and ahead of it. Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world."

To stay relevant in an ever changing environment, innovation will be the key Microsofts success, and forms the core of Microsoft's announcement. 

Alongside Nadella's appointment, Microsoft have announced Bill Gates is to step into a new role as Founder and Technology Advisor. It is reported that Gates will devote more time to the company and is there to support Nadella in shaping technology and product direction. 

On the new CEO, Gates  had this to say:

Satya is a proven leader with hard-core engineering skills, business vision and the ability to bring people together. His vision for how technology will be used and experienced around the world is exactly what Microsoft needs as the company enters its next chapter of expanded product innovation and growth.

Find out more about Satya Nadella in his first interview as CEO in the following video:

Here's more from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer on the appointment.

About the Author

As part of Firebrand's global marketing team, Edward actively works to serve the IT community with news, reviews and technical how to guides. Working in the Industry for almost 3 years years, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint and Windows Server and Exchange Server. Edward is an active member of the IT community contributing to a variety of tech publications including Microsoft TechNet, Channel Pro and PC Advisor among others.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Thank Firebrand it's Friday - First Edition


Welcome to the first edition of "Thank Firebrand it's Friday", TFiF for short (because in Tech we all love acronyms). We work hard here in the Firebrand Comms team to bring you all the latest news, reviews and updates on IT Certifications and Technology via the Firebrand Blog. The Blog was created with the defining principle of adding value to our community, and helping you the reader in your day job by giving you the knowledge you seek.

For those that follow Firebrand closely, you'll have hopefully spotted our 'how-to' guides floating about the web on technical publications, if not here are a few examples on TechNet, ServerWatch and TechRadar Pro.

But we've felt like something's missing, something a little less serious, informative yet fun, something that is perfect for a Friday afternoon, and so we (I) have created TFiF. As it's the first edition it will likely evolve as time progresses and we'd love your feedback on how to shape it. Today it's a bit of a hotch botch of fun things found around the web...

LEGO™ just got technical

Man I wish littleBits were around when I was a kid (I say this as if I haven't ordered a set), these guys have taken the concept of LEGO™ building blocks and completely revolutionised it for the 21st-Century. For the Trekkies amongst you, think Borg assimilation, they've effectively taken LEGO™, injected it with technology and in the process made the practice of learning about hardware design accessible to kids. Check out this two minute video and try not to purchase a set at the end.

Check out some of the products already created, the hardware is open-source so expect some rapid expansion from the 50 modules currently available, allowing far more complex products to be created. If you read my previous post on the growing skills gap in the UK technology sector, littleBits could be the educational solution sought to address the issue at grass-roots level, especially in the the hardware design sector.

Leap Motion will blow your mind

If you haven't seen the Leap Motion Controller yet, you need this in your life. Planning to ship May 14th, 2013 this product from software and hardware company Leap Motion is set to revolutionise the way we all interact with computers. If this takes off then it could effectively destroy the emerging touch screen market being driven through Microsoft in Windows 8. 

Time to make a LEGO™ Data Center

Ever wanted to see a Data Center made of LEGO™ ? Me neither, but now you can thanks to the efforts of Eduardo Tanaka and the fact that it's a Friday afternoon.

Well that's about it for today, I hope you've enjoyed the first instalment of TFiF, let's see where next week take us. And as I leave you; continuing along the Data Center theme, check out this shot from one of Google's Data Centers. You can see the full gallery here - Google Data Centers

About the Author:
Edward is a member of the Marketing team overseeing the Content Strategy for Firebrand. Working in the Industry for 2 years, Edward has experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint 2007 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Edward writes for a variety of Blogs and Publications on all things Technology. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Kim Dotcom’s MEGA - Massive demand


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 –

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.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Don’t look back in anger - a week with Windows 8

With the official launch of Windows 8 looming, I thought I should get myself more familiar with Microsoft’s shiny new product. Given some of the controversy surrounding it, I thought it be best for me to give it a proper road test somewhere safe before upgrading office or home machines.

Firebrand have a number of European offices and twice a year me and my co-founder do a business review with each office over the course of a week.

The, probably stupid, idea came to me that I should upgrade the laptop I use to travel with. Forcing me to use Window’s 8 for 5 days in fairly testing conditions: different locations, roaming, email, presentations, documents and spreadsheets.

Windows 8 logoThe laptop in question is a five year old Sony Vaio. Originally designed for Windows Vista. It does have an SSD drive but as it was one of the first to sport one of those beauties its woefully small, 60gb and not particularly fast.

Step one was to download Windows 8 Professional from MSDN. Firebrand are a Microsoft Gold partner (lardydah) so we get access to pretty much all software and applications "for free". It’s not of course free because we have to pay to be a partner. Much to my delight (how sad) I found that the final version was available not just the beta releases which you have to delete later. So my idea can be tried on what is basically the retail version.

I downloaded all 2.5gb of it to a home machine and burnt the ISO to a DVD.  Slapping it in the Sony soon had the option menu blinking at me : new install or upgrade? Let’s try an upgrade. Nope, needs 16gb of free space it informs after 5 minutes. No way I can clear that much down easily as that 60gb had 5gb free. So I reboot from the DVD. A change from my memory of previous installations is that the default localization options are actually for the UK. But you need a valid license key to proceed whereas you used to be able to enter that up to 30 days later. I got the key from MSDN so after entering it and selecting a local Wi-Fi, I press next. Previously you'd have to wait and keep selecting options but once I'd selected a new installation and wiped the old partitions it basically carried on without me. This means I'm not actually sure how long it took to get to the login screen but I think it was about 30 minutes. 

As I had previously played with beta versions of Windows 8 I’d already associated my Windows Live account with another machine. This is where the cool cloud based configuration comes in. I was presented with a login screen and used those credentials. Immediately it downloaded a heap of the environment I’d already configured on the other machine, social networks and email settings and I think some Windows Store applications. I'll confess it’s not obvious to me what came down on to the machine. But it was a start. 

Once I was in I knew the first thing to check was what fresh updates were required, either to Windows because of bug fixes, security patches or drivers missing. At this point my wide screen Sony was in a more traditional vertical letter box mode. Display drivers missing I suspect.  Once rebooted it all worked apart from three devices as reported by device manager. Not obvious what without hunting around but nothing important. The Sony hot-keys for controlling sound/brightness all worked. As did Bluetooth, LAN and WiFi. Whatever is outstanding doesn't seem important, I think it’s the finger print scanner, memory card reader and probably the modem for the mobile network. 

Windows is prompting me to download new drivers from Sony’s website so if needed I could probably get them working. Most of the control panel items look the same as previous Windows implementations albeit with the Metro look and feel which we’re not supposed to call it anymore.

Office 2013 Preview

Historically installing just windows didn't get you very far. Most people are going to have install Microsoft Office if they are using their PC in a work environment. Currently there is a preview release of Office 2013 which can be downloaded from MSDN. Typically these releases can be a little risky but it would be odd to use Windows 8 with the previous generation of Office given the new version has the same style as new operating system. I downloaded and ran the exe, everything I wanted installed quickly.
Windows 8 space
Incredibly after having installed Windows 8 and Office I’ve still got 42gb of free space. What was going on with Windows 7 before this is now a mystery to me given how full it was.

Basically I am now ready as I've got all the applications I need to work. Time to set them up. This is really where I start to use Windows 8 properly. I’d played with it a little before so I was familiar with the three big changes which have been widely written about. Firstly and most obviously when you start Windows 8 you get what is in essence a massive full screen start button. This is the tiled interface where all programs live. 

The other angle here is that the traditional desktop is in effect an application itself. This does feel odd because you end up with two universes, one running Store applications (Metro) and then a sub-world which is running applications within the desktop. You can therefore switch between applications running at the upper level but also within the desktop world. The Store applications are really designed for a touch interface, but they are OK to use with a mouse or track pad. But they are a little cumbersome because they are all full screen. Scrolling to see more information, say in a weather application, means you hunting the bottom of the screen to get to the scroll bar and not the bottom of a window like within the old desktop environment. You can drag the top of the screen and pull an application to one side and then launch another application which runs next to it. Here’s the map application running next to weather.

Windows 8 Weather & Map

If you want to get really confused you can run the desktop on one side with its array of potential apps and a different Store application next to it. You can grab the divider to expand/shrink one or other app as you change focus.

The last big change is the hot corners where you can find contextual menus or if you prefer to call it the start menu. There’s been much gnashing of teeth and wailing about the start menu disappearing. Come on people the change is minor once you get what’s going on. I’d read somewhere in the past that the change to a round start button sitting in the corner as opposed to a square button you had to find was a usability improvement because you whacked the mouse bottom left and up popped the menu. Well guess what? That’s what happens now. Bottom left, start menu or rather the start menu full screen application. Bottom or top right gets you a context menu with options for again finding the start menu plus search, settings, sharing and devices. Top left and you get applications switching either to the last one you looked at, which is under your mouse or if you then drag the mouse down the left edge you find other applications that are running. I've not found a way of doing a screen shot of these as each time I hit the key to capture it, the menus vanish. Trust me once you start working this way it’s easy.

First challenge I ran into was get Outlook connected to Firebrand’s exchange server via direct access. Strangely, the Store Mail client worked immediately with both our Exchange mail and Gmail. Outlook though wouldn't connect saying it couldn't find the server. Seems wrong that two mail programs on the same PC using the same mechanism to connect had different results, I wonder why? Normally the fix to this is to start a VPN connection so that Outlook can get straight to the Exchange server and not via an edge connection. I added the VPB but got error “850: The Extensible Authentication Protocol type required for authentication of the remote access connection is not installed on your computer”. Holy cow! This sounds fatal. Sunday afternoon, we’re leaving at 5am tomorrow how will I get my email working within Outlook? Like most IT problems Googling the error message tends to get you the answer. Google coughed up this blog post and I was soon up and running.

I was ready for the trip. I put the machine into hibernation mode to preserve battery life.

Restore from hibernation and sleep are blazingly fast. If it wasn't the impact on battery life I’d choose sleep each time. The battery on this aging Vaio doesn't hold its charge very well so hibernate is just fine. And it’s much, much faster than Windows 7.


I’m a heavy Evernote user. There’s an Evernote in the Windows Store which I've downloaded and synced my 500 plus notes. I can see how this app will be nice on a touch screen slate, but doesn't really cut it with a keyboard and mouse. I therefore downloaded the windows client – I’ll admit it doesn't say it’s ready for Windows 8 but we all know this stuff should work. Which it does. Well the client does. The integration with Outlook 2013 via an “add-in” basically breaks and Outlook disables it. I can’t see how to fix it so I’ll leave it disabled.

Day One – City airport to Eindhoven / Nijmegen

Day of presentations. Using office for PowerPoint, Excel and Word. All rock solid. Nice clean interface starting to feel comfortable with finding the hot corners for app switching and configuring things like WiFi and VPN. Power consumption is good, got a solid 6 hours out of this laptop. No crashes, no obvious bugs.

Day two – Nijmegen to Cologne

Windows 8 phone
The simplest way to get to our German office in Cologne was via taxi. Sounds a little excessive but actually two of us travelling it was quicker and cheaper than two train tickets plus the expense of getting to and from two stations. I’m typing this into a SkyDrive document that I started on my Nokia Lumia Windows Phone and carried on by accessing via the SkyDrive app within Windows 8. What’s cool is I’m typing this piece on the move in the back of the taxi and I’m not connected to the internet.  I tried “saving” wondering what it would do, work or crash confused there was no internet. This is the sort of action that I can imagine would cause all sorts of errors. However Windows just popped up a message saying upload pending once the save was completed. I then enabled the Windows Phone internet sharing Wi-Fi thing and connected the laptop, hit save and we’re all good.

Day three – Cologne to Copenhagen

Here’s one of those weird paradigm parallel universe confusions. You can install Chrome on the Metro side of Windows 8 and in the Desktop. However it appears that Google hasn't quite figured how to do the Metro side properly. Given the apps run in a form of not proper multi-tasking mode (I’m sure there’s an official name for this) when you return to Chrome it always says “Chrome didn't shut down correctly…” so you can’t start doing something in Chrome, switch away and come back. Because it will have to reset to a blank screen and this error.

Google Chrome crash

Day Four – Copenhagen to Heathrow

I was expecting Windows 8 to start nagging me that I hadn't installed an anti-virus. Strangely, this didn't happen and I forgot about it for the first few days. Once I remembered, I had a look at the system status to see if there was a warning that wasn't nagging. Turns out Windows Firewall and Defender are enabled by default. Another question for another day but is this enough to protect me when I’m out on the road using public WiFi’s? Is Windows Defender as good or even the same as Microsoft Security Essentials?

Never going back

OK I’m done. Trip over, experiment complete. Yes it took a little bit of time to get use to this new twist on Windows. It’s a radical makeover in some respects but lots that’s familiar. Once you get used to moving the cursor into corners to find what in effect are different menu’s, then it’s a breeze. What it will be like on big screens or in fact multiple displays is another question. I’m also itching to get a touch screen to really try out that aspect of the interface. Yesterday Microsoft announced you can pre-order the Surface PC/tablet so I've ordered one, should be delivered on around the 30th October. A review to follow.

Am I looking forward to returning to the office with my Windows 7 machine? Nope. Will I be upgrading that machine to Windows 8 ASAP… you bet. I’m never going back now, Windows 7 is history. I won’t be looking back in anger but forward in delight at this beautiful new clean revision of the Windows family.

Robert Chapman - Commercial Director

Thursday, 2 August 2012

CompTIA announces new certifications at Breakaway 2012

The leading non-profit association for the IT industry CompTIA, had its annual Breakaway 2012 event this week at ARIA Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. In the span of three days, it got to see some of the latest releases in IT training, certification and showed how to steer through the channels of education, training and networking to gain new partnerships.
Among the highlights of the event, CompTIA announced its latest training programs on cloud computing, mobility and emerging technologies and trends.

CompTIA Senior vice president stated that “Each Executive Certificate course is designed to help IT solution providers enhance their current businesses with successful niche practices,” Kelly Ricker added that “attendees will learn best practices from an expert instructor and experience ample opportunities for interacting with and learning from their peers.
They announced the release of the following certifications and courses:

 Cloud Computing Essentials
• Advanced Cloud Computing
• Data Recovery and Business Continuity
• Healthcare IT
• IT Security
• Mobility
• Social Strategies
• Unified Communications

The certification courses were developed by members of CompTIA and experts in the IT industry. It has been the latest addition to the association’s portfolio in IT education and training.

Breakaway 2012 had more than 1,000 IT industry executives attend, all gaining new insights into the education and certification market, and emerging technologies, which are all having an effect on the IT world today.

Did you attend CompTIA? What did you think of it?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

What’s the most important sector in IT?

Statistics have revealed that Data Management has eclipsed other applications to become the primary role in IT.

A report by Corporate Executive Board found that in 2012, CIOs plan to spend 39% of their budget on information and data management (up by 8% from last year), compared to 32% on business process automation.

According to the report, up until 2011, Business Automation had taken the lead in budget allocation.

With a similar point of view, analyst company Ovum has predicted that information management will be the fastest growing sector of the global IT industry over the next 4 years. It predicts an annual growth of 10% for this sector.

“The volume of information within enterprises continues to grow at an astonishing rate, and investment is needed to both manage this information and turn it into actionable intelligence”, said Ovum analyst Tim Jennings.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Do you like the Timeline?

Facebook launched the new profile look "Timeline" a while ago. Changes to Facebook always bring out mixed responses from its users. Now, Facebook is making it mandatory for users to have the Timeline and get rid of the old profile.

The latest change will allow people to access friends' status updates and activities as old as 2004, when Facebook was launched. The website, however, insists that this isn't changing any of the existing users' privacy. A spokeswomen of Facebook says "Timeline does not change any of your existing privacy settings."

What do you think about the new Facebook Timeline? Have you tried it yet?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Which Country is "Cyber-ready"?

A survey backed by McAfee has revealed that Israel, Finland and Sweden top the list of being countries which have “cyber-readiness”. Reports have revealed that Israel deals with over 1,000 attacks every minute.

China, Mexico and Brazil however have been rated as the least capable of defending themselves against cyber-attacks.

"The subjectiveness of the report is its biggest strength," explained Raj Samani, McAfee's chief technology officer. "What it does is give the perception of cyber-readiness by those individuals who kind of understand and work in cyber security on a day-in, day-out basis."

The report concludes by claiming that information needs to be shared more globally to be one step ahead of the attacks, and that more laws should be enforced to aid cross-border crime.

UK has been rated at 4 out 5, along with USA, Germany, Spain and France.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Imagine A Day Without Wikipedia...

...Now live it. 

Wikipedia has joined a blackout protest against the US Anti – Piracy moves.

If you’ve attempted to access Wikipedia, you’ll see a black screen which says

“Imagine a world without free knowledge”

Other sites like Reddit and Boing Boing are also taking part in the blackout.

The protests are against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), planned by the US Congress.

Friday, 13 January 2012

5 Easy Steps to Make a Hacker’s Life Difficult

Following are five steps which will help in preventing security breaches. While no one can guarantee preventing breaches, these steps will help make life difficult for hackers:

1. Optimised Passwords – We wrote a blog about poor passwords a while ago. There was a time when the password “password” used to be a fail-safe way of deceiving hackers. Although most people now know how poor the password “password” is, there are still quite a few who would use some equally obvious choices of passwords. For instance, using your name, and your date of birth – such information is now easily accessible via social media. 

Don’t use passwords which can easily be guessed. Mix characters in the words. For example, use exclamation mark instead of the number 1, ampersand sign for number 8 etc.

Another problem with passwords is that people tend to become lax after making one. Even if your password is difficult to crack, it is good practice to keep changing it every now and then. People who do not change passwords and use the same on multiple sites are more likely to suffer a breach.

2. Efficient Anti-virus, and rightly set Firewall – These are one of the most basic things which are wrong in a user’s operating system – if you don’t have anti-virus software running in your environment, you’re in trouble. A completely up-to-date anti malware, anti-virus software needs to be up and running constantly. Where possible, deploy a hardware firewall and ensure that it isn’t allowing unnecessary traffic to penetrate your systems.

3. Patching Machines – Operating Systems and other software companies release patches and updates to the software. While some updates add new features, others improve the security flaws that may have existed beforehand. Therefore, it is important to keep the latest versions in check.

4. Securing Data – Do you carry your sensitive data in a USB around with you? If so, watch out. Unprotected data is a big deal. A lost USB, Hard-disk, Laptop or iPod can land you and your organisation in a messy situation. Encrypt everything portable.

5. Protect Your Wi-Fi – Despite the known vulnerabilities in open Wi-Fi Networks, some still keep it open and insecure. Some people use Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), but it has been shown that WEP can be broken into in as little as four seconds. It is recommended to use at least WPA as a bare minimum. WPA2 is a better alternative. WPA2 is a modern wireless security standard that is supported by most modern operating systems, and is a lot more difficult to break into than WEP or WPA2.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Get Certified To Get More in Life...

Since certifications came into recognition, there have been some who have debated whether certifications are worth pursuing or not.

Statistics have proved time and again that certs lead to promotions and raises. A survey of 700 networking professionals in tells what we already know – 60% of professionals said that their certifications led to a new job, 56% said they got raise, and about 29% said they got a promotion with their company.

Certifications from vendors such as Microsoft and Cisco have always been in demand. Recent certs which have come in recognition are the Project Management certifications like PMP and PRINCE2.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Is Your Password "Password"?

This year Sony, Nintendo and even the CIA’s security was breached. But some things refuse to change.

Splashdata reports the 25 worst passwords of 2011. Top of the list is “password”. How many of us have been guilty of that one?

Five worst passwords of 2011...
  • password
  • 123456
  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • abc123

Some tips on how to improve your password:
  • Use at least eight characters - numbers, letters and special characters.
  • Use unique passwords/usernames for different websites. Try using an online password manager to keep track.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Now Hacking Can Kill...

Hundreds of the world’s hackers descended on Miami for Hacker Halted 2011. The reason? To learn about the latest hacks that will hit your IT systems in the coming months.

Firebrand was on a fact-finding mission, to add the latest techniques to the world’s most popular Ethical Hacking course. Below lists the some of the most shocking stats from the conference.

2,000,000 – the number of new malicious websites detected every month
100,000 – the number of new malware screened every day 400% - the rise in Android mobile malware compared to 2010 £50m – the estimated global cost of the Zeus trojan virus
110 – average days to fix a security vulnerability on a website 44% - percentage of the world’s websites that have a serious security exposure every day of the year 70% - percentage of IT professionals and chief executives that say mobile computing is now the biggest threat to IT security

Robert Chapman, CEO of Firebrand Training says: “The stats from Hacker Halted are a reminder that we’re all more vulnerable than ever. There are thousands of new threats every day, and there currently aren’t enough ‘cyber defenders’ to deal with them.”

“The scary thing is that it’s not always about money. One hacker demonstrated how a wireless insulin pump could effectively be used to deliver fatal injections. It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie. But it’s here now, and it’s very real.”

Monday, 14 November 2011

Security Spend to Increase by 40%

Gartner has predicted that corporate spending across the world on security services will increase by about 40%. It has said that it'll reach up to $49 billion in three years, with the managed security services expected to jump most of all. The current spend is $35 billion.

Managed security services called "IT management" will grow from about $8 billion today to $14.8 billion in 2015. Other areas, such as security consulting, are also expected to increase, with consulting rising from $9.6 billion today to $12.1 billion in 2015.

IT Security is hot on its heels. Get your Security certifications now. Firebrand's award winning EC-Council and (ISC)2 courses will kick start your career in security.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Is Your Smartphone Ready?

One of the most vulnerable segments to emerge out of the rapid technology growth is the emergence of smartphones and the 'risk' they bring along with themselves.

More and more people now prefer to browse internet on their phones. From Facebook to their emails to internet banking, people are doing it all on their smartphones.

But are the smartphones really prepraed?

A national computer security campaign is urging smartphone users to protect themselves from unintentionally downloading malware applications. Get Safe Online has revealed that their has been an increase in the smartphone malware as the market has grown.

The frauds are very sophisticated. Apps which can generate cash secretly, without the user realising it, until they see their monthly bill, have been created and are a threat to the smartphone users.

Symantec has warned Android users that their phones were at risk and that they had found at least six varieties of malicious software.

Firebrand has taught complete amateurs how to hack, in as less as 15 minutes.

Our 5 day Certified Ethical Hacking course teaches you to become a "cyber ninja" in just 5 days. 

Minister for Cyber Security Francis Maude said: "More and more people are using their smartphone to transmit personal and financial information over the internet, whether it's for online banking, shopping or social networking.

"Research from Get Safe Online shows that 17% of smartphone users now use their phone for money matters and this doesn't escape the notice of criminals."

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

UK tops the way for hiring Cloud Professionals

A European Online Employment Report by Elance has revealed that UK is leading the way when it comes to hiring and managing in the cloud.

UK has witnessed a 55% increase in the hiring of web freelancers, since Q3 2010, according to the report. 

Monday, 7 November 2011

Sony, Nintendo and now Adidas. Is Your Company Next?

A couple weeks ago we wrote about the second cyber-attack on Sony and how they learned from their lesson. The German Sportswear company Adidas had to take their website content offline after suffering from what they describe as a "sophisticated, criminal cyber-attack". Millions of user’s details were compromised and as soon as Adidas discovered the incident they had put extra security measures in place to protect their visitors.

In a statement Adidas has: 

"Nothing is more important to us than the privacy and security of our consumers' personal data," 

"We appreciate your understanding and patience during this time".

The news follows a series of attacks against Sony earlier in the year and 29 chemicals firms were last week reported to be targeted for a series of cyber-attacks. Once again this illustrates how sophisticated and dangerous these attacks have become.

Companies have started taking their security very seriously now, and with the big names' security being breached, it is inevitable they'll be more stringent in the future. The demand for certified ethical hackers will rise, as they'll look to combat the looming threat of hackers.

Our Certified Ethical Hacking course trains professionals as "cyber defenders" in 5 days.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Internet Explorer Not Hot Enough Anymore

Since its inception in the mid 90’s Microsoft Internet Explorer has claimed more than 50% of the web’s traffic. Now though after more than a decade Internet Explorer is no longer the preferred browser choice for people.

Microsoft’s browser’s share currently stands at 49.6 %, which is mostly due to its almost non-existence presence of mobile and tablet markets, which according to makes up for 6 % of web traffic. Safari currently has 62.17% of mobile traffic, contributing to Internet Explorer’s diminishing share. 

Firefox is the second most favored web browser with 21.20% of traffic, trailed by Google Chrome, which has 16.60 % and Safari, which accounts for 8.72 %. As time goes by Internet Explorer’s competitors are continuously increasing their shares. The question now is, can Microsoft regain the lost shares or are they slowly but surely phasing out of our lives?

Fact is though Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is still claims more web traffic than Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari combined. So the next question is, will any of the three ever claim the same position that the Internet Explorer has had for over a decade?