Don’t Let Your Data Get “Taken”: Avoid Cryptowall

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Tuesday, March 10th 2015 — Categories: Security

As much as we like to compare ourselves to Liam Neeson, our particular set of skills won’t be able to help you avoid a hefty ransom if you fall victim to Cryptowall.

Cryptowall ransomware programs are usually hidden in e-mail attachments or in web links in shiftier corners of the web. They download and install a malicious program that completely locks down your computer system and all access to data. Without a backup stored outside your computer, you will have to pay a ransom—usually in BitCoin, which can be a hassle to obtain—in order for the hacker behind your plight to grant access to your files and apps.

Unfortunately, we can’t go all Taken to track down and take out the perpetrators. BitCoin is impossible to track as it is anonymous, and the e-mails are often relayed through masking methods. The best we can do is tell you a country of origin (Russia, mostly).

We’ve had a number of our managed services customers affected by Cryptowall attacks recently. While our data centers remain secure, your offsite systems can easily fall victim to encryption attacks without some common sense precautions. Luckily, you can prevent the majority of these attacks with a little staff training. Here’s how to avoid Cryptowall and other encryption hacks.

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A Primer Guide to Big Data on VMware

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, March 4th 2015 — Categories: Cloud Hosting, Cloud Storage, Cloud Hosting, Cloud Storage, VMware

By now, even your non-techy mom has probably heard of Big Data, with IBM and others advertising it on TV and every other IT vendor pushing their platform. If you don't know about big data, here is it is in a nutshell: as more and more devices are connected to the internet and storage capabilities continue to advance, we’re able to collect, store, and run analytics on massive sets of information in order to discover insights and make more informed decisions.

Some industries like research, oil and gas, manufacturing, and logistics, have been doing this for years, often on dedicated hardware. The advantages of virtualization can be levied for big data use, too, even though at its core, big data is focused on distribution of jobs over a wide array of resources, while virtualization as a concept is the exact opposite.

If you’re gearing up for a big data deployment, you can use VMware tools to stack it on top of virtual machines, allowing you to add resources easily when you need to run large analytics jobs and scale back when you don’t need as much processing power or want to delete old unused datasets from storage. This elasticity helps maximize your available compute resources and can be used in a mixed-workload environment. Plus, you can manage and automate your big data VMs from the same tools as your other infrastructure.

Here is quick primer on what to keep in mind with VMware big data platforms.

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Top Features Coming in vSphere 6.0

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, February 25th 2015 — Categories: Cloud Hosting, Cloud Hosting, Cloud Storage, VMware

Early this month, VMware announced vSphere 6.0, the latest version of the most popular and powerful enterprise virtualization platform. As a longtime VMware shop with a number of VCP certified professionals, we’re excited for a number of the new features included in the latest release.

According to VMware’s CEO, vSphere 6.0 has over 650 new features. Green House Data doesn’t yet have a timeline for upgrading from 5.5 just yet (6.0 hasn’t received General Availability), but here’s what we’re most excited about.

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Keep Your Encryption Keys on the Chain with Key Management

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, February 11th 2015 — Categories: Cloud Storage, HIPAA Compliance, Security

Security is already high on the totem pole of IT priorities, but with 2015 kicking off with a massive Anthem health breach, encryption is a hotter topic than ever.

Many compliance mandates require or encourage some form of encryption, including the commonly encountered PCI and HIPAA standards (the HIPAA Security Rule, while it doesn’t require encryption, does require you to prove, in writing, why you believed encryption wasn’t necessary in your special case. Which, let’s be honest, if you are disclosing a large breach to the public as required, encryption was probably necessary).

There are many encryption methods and vendors on the market, but all of them require access to an encryption key in order to unscramble encoded data.  If a malicious agent gets their hands on this key, it’s game over for your encrypted information.

This means that every enterprise needs a secure, organized system to manage all of their encryption keys. As data sets are updated with new keys, new data is added, different encryption systems are introduced, and user access is modified, encryption key management becomes even more essential.

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Do IT Pros Care About Green Data Centers? Survey Reveals Conflicting Opinion

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Tuesday, February 3rd 2015 — Categories: Data Center Design, Green Data Center, FAQs

Amazon is building a wind farm. Apple has tens of megawatts of solar power. Google builds in Nordic countries and sources power from hydroelectric facilities. Other providers started giving out Renewable Energy Credits to cover customers’ electric costs (and they aren’t the only ones buying RECs and PPAs—but this blog post isn’t just about Green House Data).

Despite the recent trend of data center operators going green, does the IT industry really care about the environmental footprint of their data center? According to our recent survey results, the answer is a resounding…maybe.

We polled 166 IT professionals, from system administrators to the CTO. All but two had input into IT and infrastructure decision-making at their company. What they had to say was surprising. In a nutshell, it makes smart business sense to have a green data center, because it saves on operating costs. Whether IT departments consider energy efficiency or sustainability when evaluating service providers is up for debate.

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