Enterprise IT Watch Blog

February 1, 2012  11:53 AM

U.S. Congress takes on Google over Privacy Changes

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Privacy is the forefront issue once again as Congress is preparing to attack Google over their latest changes to their privacy policies. Several lawmakers are concerned with how Google will collect a user’s data across their services.

Members of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, Mary Bono Mack and G.K Butterfield, wrote a letter to the Internet giant expressing their concerns on their privacy changes.

“We are concerned, however, with other changes to Google’s privacy policy, particularly with how a user’s data will be collected, combined, archived, and used across services,” they wrote.

Beginning on March 1st, Google will be able to cross reference data from their users which is collected from their various services including Google Apps, Gmail, and Youtube.

Google fired back to explain the new changes as Google director of public policy Pablo Chavez wrote a blog post accompanying the letter.

“We’re not collecting more data about you. Our new policy simply makes it clear that we use data to refine and improve your experience on Google.”

Last year, the FTC reached a settlement with Google regarding complaints of unfair practices and the company would submit to reviews by an independent auditor.

Michael Tidmarsh is the Assistant Community Editor for ITKnowledgeExchange.com.  He can be reached at Mtidmarsh@techtarget.com.

January 31, 2012  3:56 PM

Are your meetings being watched?

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

With one simple call, the CSO of Rapid 7, HD Moore, could see into the boardrooms of law firms, pharmaceutical and oil companies, and even Goldman Sachs.

With only exploring 3% of the Internet, Moore and Mike Tuchen, found over 5,000 video conferencing unsecured systems not installed into their firewall. The result: anyone all across the world could watch and listen in to their meetings.

In an interview with the New York Times, Moore explains why video conferencing security is extremely important. “These are literally some of the world’s most important boardrooms-this is where their most critical meetings take place-and there could be silent attendees in all of them,” he said.

Why would companies set up their video conferencing this way? Moore explains it’s easier for other companies to be included in conference calls but it restricts their safety.

Imagine: a multi-national corporation having a board meeting pertaining to their projected revenue or future deals and their competitors are watching without them even noticing.

Moore explains how easy it was to break into several video conferencing systems. “Any machine that accepted a call was set to autoanswer. It was fairly easy to figure out who was vulnerable, because if they weren’t vulnerable, then they would not have picked up the call,” Moore said.

This can become a troubling problem for companies if it’s not settled quickly and quietly. Tuchen believes the safest way to secure calls is to install a ‘gatekeeper’ that connects calls outside the firewall. However, the process takes time and is usually skipped.

One would have to imagine if these two men could successfully hack into thousands of video conferencing systems, what could some of the world’s greatest hackers do?

“Any reasonably computer literate 6-year-old can try this at home,” Tuchen said.

Now companies have to ask themselves: security over access?

Michael Tidmarsh is the Assistant Community Editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. He can be reached at mtidmarsh@techtarget.com

January 25, 2012  12:17 PM

After Megaupload, web storage services rush for legitimacy

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

What will happen if SOPA passes through Congress? Is the FBI going to come after us? Should I shut down my whole system? If you run one of the various popular file hosting services, these might just be a few of the thoughts running through your head lately.

With Internet protests against SOPA and the arrest of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, there is no telling what will come next.

Many web-based storage companies have come out and publicly opposed Internet piracy. Mediafire CEO Derek Labian, for example, has publicly stated his website is legitimate and doesn’t support illegal fire-sharing. “Like many other cloud-based sharing services like Box.net and Dropbox, we’re a legitimate business targeting professionals.”

A quick Google of “Mediafire mp3” plus various song names, however, still found numerous high quality download links for popular songs – all for free and presumably unlicensed.

Other websites have sharply curtailed operations. File-sharing website FileSonic posted a banner on their website explaining it’s partial shutdown. “All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally.” In other words, users can still use it to save and retrieve their own files, but sharing publicly is now nixed.

The question for file storage websites comes down to this: Do they continue to look the other way and continue to allow pirated material to be stored on their website or do they take a stand and control the content coming in? And can this currently shady underbelly of the storage world turn legit before its wiped out by legal threats?

At least some companies will continue to run their sites without fear or anxiety for now. A spokesperson for Rapidshare spoke after the Megaupload arrests, “File hosting itself is a legitimate business, so we’re not concerned or scared about the raid.”

Should they be concerned? Only time will tell but if their caught, they will have a lot of explaining to do.

Michael Tidmarsh is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. He can be reached at MTidmarsh@TechTarget.com

January 23, 2012  11:14 PM

New RIM CEO Thorsten Heins’ YouTube debut: His 13 most terrifying quotes

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Despite today’s earlier post, I loved RIM. I think the Curve was, hands down, a great piece of hardware when it came out and stood the test of time. But as much as Mike Lazaridis, RIM’s former co-CEO, was trashed for being tone deaf when it comes to PR, his successor Thorsten Heins has miles to go to catch up with him, as a new YouTube video shows:

My only theory as to why this was published is that Heins recurring insistence that a new head of marketing must be hired irked the current marketing people, but that is pure conjecture on my part.

The most unsettling Heins quotes from the video: Continued »

January 23, 2012  1:46 PM

RIM under New CEO Thorsten Heins: So crazy, it might just fail?

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Now that RIM’s long time co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have savaged the empire they worked so hard to build, beleaguered business mobility juggernaut’s new chief executive Thorsten Heins is in the spotlight.

I’ve thought a lot over the past few years about my interview with Lazaridis, particularly how dismissive he was about touch and certain he was about BlackBerry’s strength with corporate IT. The early reviews of Heins peg him as being a company insider while slagging him for saying “drastic change” isn’t needed. His first press conference didn’t help dispel these sentiments.

Looking further back, however, Heins has a track record that’s anything but Lazaridian: He introduced innovative products, bold partnerships and new form factors one after another. The only problem is, they generally were pretty terrible. Continued »

January 19, 2012  1:59 PM

How SOPA will affect IT and Technology

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

From Twitter outbursts to major websites shutting down, SOPA has become public enemy #1 for Internet users.

SOPA, otherwise known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, has created headlines all across the United States. We have seen protests from New York City to Silicon Valley.  Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg weighed in with a status against SOPA.

Sharing and talking about content and art are valuable to our everyday lives,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future.

Critics are comparing the bill to the Great Firewall of China, which controls and censors the Chinese Internet.

Jordan Hahn, CEO of IT firm Silent Movement Inc., told euronews that “Both bills contain broad language which could be used to censor web content and search engines in ways similar to China’s Great Firewall. The bills themselves are so far-reaching, it is impossible to predict their potential effects upon the internet as a whole. The question I have for the American government is simply this: Is it a good idea to put restrictions upon the last bastion of American innovation?”

What would happen to technology and the Internet if SOPA is passed by Congress? Thousands of Internet sites could be vulnerable to legal restrictions and possible shutdown.

Even though SOPA would target domain names outside the United States, many American companies have domain names registered abroad.  Businesses all across the U.S. would need to monitor Internet content and user access.

Network security personalities Dan Kaminsky and Paul Vixie sent a letter to Congress opposing SOPA stating the bill could ‘seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure.’

The key fact to take away is SOPA will affect everyone, from major corporations to small start-up businesses.

Social media in particular could be potentially devastated by the passing of SOPA. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube would need to find a way to screen messages to filter links and pictures of pirated domains.

Technology and IT sites depend on social media to promote content and advertise online.  How would companies promote and engage their online community without it?

Social media has become the focal point for where businesses, groups, and people could interact with each other. If it’s taken away, technology and the American economy would take a significant hit.

Michael Tidmarsh is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

December 7, 2011  5:17 AM

Cloud, virtual and storage networking conversations: Don’t be scared, be prepared

Guest Author Profile: Guest Author

Today’s guest post is from Greg Schulz, a storage virtuoso who has guest-blogged on ITKnowledgeExchange before. Now he’s working to take the fear factor out of virtualization and – even more terrifying – the future of converged, cloud-driven infrastructure. If you like what he has to say, or think it’d be a helpful primer for someone else you’re trying to get up to speed, his new book Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CVDSN) tackles these topics and more in depth. He’s even offered up a free chapter preview for ITKnowledgeExchange readers.

When it comes to cloud computing and cloud storage, virtualization, converged and dynamic infrastructures, do not be scared. Do, however, do your homework and be prepared so that you look before you leap. It’s important to understand the differences in public, private and hybrid cloud approaches, products, services and management best practices and how they apply to your needs.

A common theme today is that the amount of data being generated, moved, processed and stored for longer periods of time shows no signs of decreasing. After all, there is no such thing as a data or information recession! What has changed is that we need to do even more with less or more with what we currently have available to support and sustain business growth.

To sustain business growth while enabling new functionalities or services, providers of information services need to look at various options for becoming more efficient. Becoming more efficient means more than cost avoidance; it also includes boosting productivity while streamlining information services delivery. If all that is done is to boost utilization in order to reduce costs chances are that quality of service (QoS), service level objectives (SLOs) and service level agreements (SLAs) will be sacrificed which means impacting productivity or causing waste and rework to occur. Doing more with available resources also needs to be combined with reducing per-unit costs and maintaining or enhancing quality of service and customer satisfaction. This means stretching resources (people, processes, budgets, hardware, software, energy, facilities, and services) further while enabling better business agility and productivity.

Not everything can be consolidated due to performance, (QoS), security, organizational politics, third party software or hardware support and regulatory compliance requirements. However that does not mean everything cannot be virtualized. The next wave of virtualization involving servers, storage, desktops, applications and networks is life beyond consolidation where the focus expands to agility, flexibility, mobility, speed of deployment and business enablement.

In virtualization life beyond consolidation also happens to be a stepping stone to clouds, life beyond cost cutting, emphasis is around boosting productivity and supporting business growth. This means finding and removing complexity and costs in service delivery, enhancing customer QoS meeting or exceeding SLOs and SLAs while reducing waste and rework.

While consolidation and cost cutting will remain for some environments and applications or use scenarios, there is a growing trend around awareness of the need to maintain or enhance SLOs and SLAs. SLO and SLAs need to be maintained or enhanced while supporting growth and reducing the cost of service delivery. For example reducing the cost to deliver a transaction, file video or enabling faster individual file or database table or email box restoration, or lower the overhead of hosting a database or virtual machine or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). To meet the objectives of supporting growth, reducing cost to deliver a given unit of work or service while maintaining or enhancing QoS and SLOs requires innovation.

Your return on innovation or the new ROI will how effective you can be in meeting growth demands, maintaining or enhancing QoS and SLOs while staying within budget. Another gauge of effective ROI or return on innovation is how much of your budget can be reinvested back into IT as a result of meeting growth requirements while maintaining QoS and SLOs via improvements to efficiency, effectiveness, agility and productivity.

Public and private clouds, converged and dynamic as well as virtual infrastructures should do more for your organization than play to a theme of reducing costs via consolidation. They should also enable agility, flexibility, remove or mask underlying complexity while boosting customer service expectations and productivity. The byproduct should be to remove complexity which results in taking cost out of doing things vs. simply cutting costs.

My new book Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press) expands on the above themes, technologies, services, tools and best practices to enable your journey to efficient, effective and productive information services.

Greg Schulz is founder of Server and StorageIO, an IT industry advisory consultancy firm and author of the books Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier, 2004). Learn more at www.storageio.com, www.storageioblog.com or on Twitter at @storageio. His latest book is available from Amazon and other retailers.

December 5, 2011  11:04 AM

Five tips from the Marine Corps IPv6 Transition Strategy

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

About a year ago, I got a peek at parts of the Marine Corps’ declassified Intranet, and one of the things that caught my eye was a link to the branch’s IPv6 Transition plan: With so many companies, from small offices to international telecoms, struggling with the switch, how do the Marines go about it? And what could the rest of us learn?

A lot. The Marines, and in fact the entire Department of Defense, were mandated early adopters of IPv6, citing security and operational requirements. They had targeted FY 2008 as the final IPv6 transition date, with the transition plan going dated for 2004.

Continued »

November 28, 2011  4:14 PM

Has a fear of IT departments almost killed Microsoft?

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

In his normally Apple-centric podcast Hypercritical, John Siracusa recently tackled a different target: What ails Microsoft. While Windows 7 is doing better than Vista, the company’s dominance just isn’t what it used to be. Has the infamous Embrace, Extend, Extinguish business model finally run its course? Is Microsoft really circling (however slowly) the drain?

And are IT departments to blame?

The case against Microsoft

The main thrust of Siracusa’s argument is that Microsoft has spent the last several years just chasing: Chasing Netscape in the browser wars, chasing Sony in the console wars, chasing Amazon into the cloud, chasing Apple in the smartphone and tablet – wait, is it a war if one side can barely fire a shot?

Continued »

November 17, 2011  9:28 AM

When ‘Do No Harm’ means death

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

A recent Wall Street Journal point/counterpoint by Barbara Cochran on redistributing the wireless spectrum caught my eye with these catchy lines (emphasis mine):

‘First, do no harm.”

This lesson for first-year medical students should also be taught to government policy makers as they consider proposals to reallocate the nation’s airwaves. … Until it is certain that provisions are in place to protect the broadcast industry and television viewers from harm, spectrum auctions should not be held.

The idea that the broadcast industry, long the domain of oligarchic titans local and international, needs government protection from feisty cellular providers, was touching but not nearly so intriguing as the concept that rule number one should be protectionism: When looking at a potential revolution, in other words, step back and begin building a very solid, very thick, very wide wall. Continued »

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