Friday, 11 January 2013

Greatest threat to the UK armed forces - Cyber attacks


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: 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?


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.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Firebrand becomes official Cisco Learning Partner

Now you can get official CCNA training at twice the speed. Your training will be delivered by an approved Cisco instructor, and you'll learn from official Cisco courseware.

This ensures that you'll get the most up-to-date training material available. We offer all Cisco Certifications, from Entry level to Professional.

The Cisco Learning Partner Program is recognised as one of the most successful in the industry. It has established a select group of training entities which offer Cisco's customers top quality instruction in Cisco's products, solutions and architectures.

Now's the time to start the New Year with a CCNA, the number one networking certification and an important stepping stone to other more advanced Cisco certifications. CCNA is a beginning-level certification that aims to provide a solid foundation in Cisco networking. Cisco’s certification programs are about certifying the competence of networking professionals in routing, switching and connectivity. CCNA requires passing two exams - 640-822 and 640-816. As you’ve become qualified in Routing and Switching, or you can set yourself for a Professional-level certification.

Get Exam tips and preparation for your Cisco CCNA course here:

Already have a CCNA? Why not get a Cisco CCNP Certification in just five working days (a Firebrand exclusive).

How to Manage Multiple Servers in Windows Server 2012 - Infographic

Cloud computing is now the future, and software is moving into this great technology. Server Manger now has a multi-server view of the environment. You can now see all your servers, check their performance and fix any issues.

Windows Server 2012 allows multiple servers; with remote management, monitoring, installations and roles. I can now make changes to a group of DCHP or DNS servers – regardless of where they are physically.

Learn how to manage multiple servers in Windows Server 2012 with this useful infographic designed by Firebrand. The content is from our Windows Server instructor Ed Baker.

How to Manage Multiple Servers 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:

Thursday, 3 January 2013

What is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma MethodologyMany people ask, what is Six Sigma, and why is it so popular? 

Six Sigma is a management philosophy that has transformed organisations, helping them become more effective and efficient. It was originally developed by Motorola in the U.S.

There are four different levels of Six Sigma - Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt and Champion:

Yellow Belts are trained in the basics of Lean Six Sigma, and can typically carry out performance improvements within their teams.

Green Belts are trained and certified at a more advanced level in the tools and approach of Lean Six Sigma. They tackle change within their business in addition to their other responsibilities. 

Black Belts are professional change agents, who are fluent in the use of the Lean Six Sigma approach and tools. They deliver major performance or efficiency transformations for a business. They usually are Change Leaders.

Champions are those that sponsor performance improvement projects. They are usually managers of processes and business areas that are trained to pinpoint where transformations / improvements are needed to and help remove barriers to the implementation of changes.

This method has had great success and is one of the most used by all types of organisations. The demand for Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt certifications has increased dramatically at Firebrand Training especially with the combination of the Green Belt and Black Belt, which will get you both certifications in just 10 days.

Learn more

George Eckes  gives an effective explanation and introduction of Lean Six Sigma.

He uses an interesting story called three blind men and an elephant. The story goes like this: 

Three blind men touch different parts of the elephant and draw very different conclusions. One touches the tusk and says it’s a spear; the other touches his torso and says it’s a wall, and the third blind man touches the tail and says it’s a snake.

The point of the story is that depending on your perspective and viewpoint, it can mean very different things. Six Sigma is a metric, it’s an improvement methodology, it’s a management philosophy and it creates a common language throughout the whole organisation.

You can watch his introduction to Six Sigma in this two part video:

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.