Can you hear me now? Tales from a Cisco voice instructor

December 24, 2012  6:43 PM

Becareful What You Say – Your Cisco Phone may be Listening

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

A couple of ingenious young men have devised a way to keep the microphone on a 7900 series phone open and send the audio to a smart phone. This sounds like a pretty major security hole and one that could cause a lot of trouble for Cisco. But when the dust settles , you see that it really isn’t.

In order for this exploit to work, a small device needs to be attached to the serial port on the back of the phone. This , of course, requires physical access to the phone. Most likely a user would notice a circuit board plugged in to the back of their PC. However, it has been reported that once the device is attached to one phone, other phones on the same network can be compromised. This means that anyone in the company could attached this device to their phone and open up this threat to other phones.

The reason is not as large of a concern as it would seem in that Cisco has already released a patch that prevents this vulnerability. Fortunately for Cisco and many of its customers, the two individuals that discovered this exploit notified Cisco before making it public. However, there is no guarantee that the next time an exploit like this is found we will be so lucky.

December 24, 2012  9:43 AM

Is Linksys Going the Way of the Flip?

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

Linksys is arguably one of the most recognized brands when it comes to home routers. If you scan for wireless routers in most residential areas, you are all but guaranteed to find at least one device telling the world that it is a Linksys device. In 2003 Cisco decided that it wanted to be in the home networking business and acquired Linksys. It seemed like a fit, at least a better fit than the acquisition of the FLIP. Fast forward nine years later and we are starting to see a slightly different story.

It is reported that Cisco has hired Barclays to find the next owner of the Linksys brand. When Cisco purchased it back in 2003, it came with a $500 million price tag. While that may seem like a lot, you have to remember that Cisco paid $590 million for the Flip camera business. They also shut down that business just a few years later. They didn’t even bother trying to find a buyer, they just shut the doors. At least Linksys still seems viable enough to sell.

While some may look at this as a failed acquisition, I don’t think so. I think the sale has more to do with Cisco’s next big move more than anything else. I am not sure what it is, but I think they are just looking to do a little house cleaning before they build the next addition.

December 20, 2012  6:52 PM

Connected or Addicted?

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

There is a fine line between being connected to Internet and being addicted to it. At times I have wondered if I cross that line from time to time. However, after reading the 2012 Cisco® Connected World Technology Report , I am not so worried about my Internet habits, at least not when I compare them to many members of Gen Y.

Cisco conducted a survey of 1,800 college students and young professionals aged 18 to 30 across 18 countries and, while many of the results are not surprising, they are interesting.

Here are a few of the facts that I found interesting:

  • Sixty percent of Gen Yers subconsciously or compulsively check their smartphones for emails, texts, or social media updates.
  • Over 40 percent of respondents would go through a “withdrawal” effect and “would feel anxious, like part of them was missing,” if they couldn’t check their smartphones constantly.
  • Women are more driven to connect: 85 percent of women versus 63 percent of men find themselves often compulsively checking their smartphone for text, emails, or social media updates.

The entire report is pretty interesting. Take a minute and check it out here.

December 20, 2012  6:35 PM

Lab Time For CCNA Candidates

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

If you are working on achieving your CCNA, one of the most important things you can do is to spend time configuring Cisco routers and switches. A lot of the questions on the test will focus on Cisco IOS commands and their proper usage. The only problem is that getting access to Cisco equipment is not always easy. One popular method many CCNA candidates use to get hands on time with the gear is to go shopping on Ebay for used equipment. Once they pass the test, they sell it on Ebay to another person that is studying for the test.

Cisco has another way that you can get some practice time.It is called the Cisco Learning Labs. For 50 bucks you get 25 hours of time working in IOS. Not only do you get access to Cisco IOS, it also includes a number of lab exercises that help make your time on the system more productive. If you find that 25 hours isn’t enough time, you can purchase additional time in 5 hour increments. It is important to understand that you won’t be accessing real Cisco routers and switches, but rather virtual devices. However, for the most part, while in this practice lab you will not really be able to tell that it isn’t real equipment.

So, if you find yourself in need of some Cisco lab time and have 50 buck,s I would recommend you check out this product.

November 30, 2012  9:31 PM

The Cost of Poor Performance

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

I hate when my Internet connection is slow. It really drives me crazy. I guess I am just another victim of our instant society. What bothers me even more is when my connection is fine, but the site I am trying to access has poor performance. There has been more than one time I have just gone to a competitor’s site because I didn’t want to wait. I never really gave much thought to the financial impact caused by a poor performing website. That is until a saw a very interesting infographic created by SmartBear.

The infographic presented some very interesting facts. For example, a study done by a travel site showed that over 50 percent of their users abandoned the site after 3 seconds. When you combine this with the fact that the average load time for the top 2000 retail websites is 10 seconds, you can start to see how many visitors are lost before the page even loads. Other research shows that for each additional second a site takes to load will result in 11 percent fewer views.


November 29, 2012  6:39 PM

Cisco Annouces Another Acquistion

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

There was a time when Cisco acquired more companies in a day than the total calorie intake on all their employees. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but they were known for their frequent acquisitions.  Back then there were many people that started a company with the single goal of flipping it to a company like Cisco. Those days are gone, but Cisco still makes acquisitions.

Today Cisco announced the acquisition of a Sunnyvale, CA. based company called Cariden Technologies. Cariden is a supplier of network planning, design, and traffic management solutions for telecommunications service providers. The acquisition came with a $141 million price tag. If all goes according to plan, the acquisition should be completed in the second quarter of Cisco’s 2013 fiscal year.

To better understand the motivation of this acquisition, check out a quote from the press release:

“The Cariden acquisition reinforces Cisco’s commitment to offering service providers the technologies they need to optimize and monetize their networks, and ultimately grow their businesses,” said Surya Panditi, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco’s Service Provider Networking Group. “Given the widespread convergence of IP and optical networks, Cariden’s technology will help carriers more efficiently manage bandwidth, network traffic and intelligence.  This acquisition signals the next phase in Cisco’s packet and optical convergence strategy and further strengthens our ability to lead this market transition in networking.”

November 28, 2012  6:25 PM

Cisco’s Next Generation Encryption

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

I’ll be the first to admit that cryptography is not the most exciting topic, but as networking grows, encryption methods must as well. The encryption that was used years ago and thought to be impenetrable at the time is now pretty much a joke. This isn’t because it was bad when it was created, but rather the computing power has improved so much that what would have taken years to crack in the past can be done in minutes.

So how do we combat this? It is somewhat of a cat and mouse game. As the encryption methods improve, so does the computing power and the methods to crack it. As I said at the beginning of this post, encryption is not the most exciting topic and reading about it may put some to sleep. Fortunately, some talented folks have put together a very engaging video that talks about this topic and Cisco’s approach. Warning!!! This is not your typical  tech video, it is actually fun to watch.

November 27, 2012  8:27 PM

Windows 8 Cheat Sheet

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

If you have had the pleasure (insert sarcasm here) of installing windows 8 on your PC ,or you just purchased a new PC and was pleasantly surprised to find that Windows 8 was pre-installed (insert sarcasm again), you may find that you could use a little help navigating. While we do live in a mouse driven world, I find that often the quickest way to do things on a PC is with keyboard short cuts. For example, did you know you can quickly lock the screen by pressing the Windows key and L? You can also display all connected devices by pressing the Windows key and K.

There are a number of other shortcuts you may find handy, and the folks over at have put together a nice little cheat sheet that is yours for the asking. If the Windows 8 cheat sheet doesn’t interest you, maybe one of their other cheat sheets will. They have over 30 sheets that range for Google Drive Tips to a Linux Commands Reference.

November 26, 2012  7:36 PM

Network Security Tool Kit in Your Pocket

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

I just finished remodeling my kitchen and while it was a lot of work it turned out pretty good and ended up not being as difficult as other tasks I have taken on in my life. The main reason I think the project went as well as it did is because I had the right tools. I have this one saw that I thought I would use once or twice a year when I bought it and it proved to be pretty much invaluable during this project.

The right tools are the key to pretty much any job regardless if that job is remodeling a kitchen or ensuring the security of your network. For a job like securing a network you might want to checkout the Network Security Toolkit (NST) which is a bootable ISO image (Live DVD) based on Fedora 16. It includes many of the most common types of tools that a network security administrator will find useful. While it is aimed at security administrators there are tools on it that most any network engineer will find a use for.

The toolkit  can be downloaded here. Once downloaded it can be burned to a bootable DVD or USB memory stick. The types of tools found in the toolkit include:

  • Multi-Tap Network Packet Capture
  • Web-Based Network Security Tools Management
  • Host/IPv4 Address Geolocation
  • Network/System Monitoring
  • Network Intrusion Detection
  • Multi-Port Terminal Server
  • VNC Session Management
  • Network Interface Bandwidth Monitor
  • Active Connections Monitor
  • Network Segment ARP Scanner
  • Network Packet Capture CloudShark Upload Support

November 25, 2012  5:00 PM

Samsung’s Android Camera – Cool, But Who is Going to Buy it?

Dave Bateman Dave Bateman Profile: Dave Bateman

As you well know by now, the most popular camera nowadays is a cell phone. Almost every cell phone has a camera and many people have taken to using them as their primary camera. There are still the hold outs that want a “real” camera. There are still those, like my sister-in-law, that feels if it doesn’t have film, it’s not a camera. However,  she thinks it’s cool how moments after taking the family picture it was on Facebook for the whole family to view.

Samsung is launching a new product that seems to be aimed squarely at people like my sister-in-law. It is the Galaxy camera. The best way to think of it is to imagine an Android phone that has a digital camera attached to the front and the phone features removed. If that doesn’t give you a clear picture, check out the photos below:


It is a 16 MP camera, and it allows you to edit photos and video directly on the device. You can then instantly share the photos on Facebook or pretty much any internet service you desire. It connects to the Internet via WiFi or 3g/4G cellular. Currently the only place you can order one from in the US is AT&T. It runs $499, which to me seems a little steep for a camera. And, of course, that $499 price tag is only with qualifying data plans. These start at $14.99 a month. Not sure about you, but regardless of how cool this is, I don’t know that I want to have to pay 15 bucks a month in order to use a camera that I already bought for $500 dollars.

There is no doubt that this a a cool device, but my gut says that it going to find itself along side the Flip in a very short time.



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