Tag Archive - MSP

IAM Profitable: Get Your Piece of the IAM Market

IAM is Profitable

If you’re an MSP or an IT service provider, then you’re involved in a business model that’s always looking to improve its offerings and increase its bottom line. With the global IAM (Identity and Access Management) market increasing at an explosive rate, being able to offer authentication and password management isn’t just a smart move, it’s also a safe move!

How is offering IAM a safe move?

With stricter security compliance requirements being laid down by nearly every industry, country, and state, and with high-profile security breaches, like Home Depot, seeming to occur every month, businesses everywhere are finally opening their eyes to the risk their outdated password and security protocols pose.

This means that there is a definite need for these solutions, so the investment itself is safe. Also, having such a solution in-house is in itself a “safe” move. The market demand for IAM is due to the risk breaches pose. If you’re going to offer a way to mitigate that risk, why not take advantage of it yourself, and gain the same benefits you provide your clientele.

How is offering IAM a smart move?

If you can capitalize on potential customers’ need to update their security and authentication, then there is a lot of profit to be made. The key to doing so is differentiating yourself from your competition, and to accomplish this, you need to find an IAM solution.

What should you look for in an IAM solution?

There are innumerous small features which are nice to have, however, there are truly five key things you should look for first: comprehensiveness, cloud compatibility, multi-tenancy, vendor support, and the ability to integrate with your existing infrastructure.

Comprehensiveness

It’s not the number of tools you have that matters, it’s how effectively you’re able to use them. Many IAM products on the market these days focus only on a few aspects of the entire process. To find a winner, the IAM solution you decide upon should cover all the aspects your clients are facing, whether they require stronger authentication, password management, or even user auditing. As an added bonus, having fewer moving pieces (programs) decreases the chances of encountering a conflict when you’re setting up the solution, for yourself or your customers.

Cloud Compatibility

Systems that work in the cloud avoid one of the most difficult hurdles faced by service providers trying to provide IAM services: managing the internal servers. Moving to the cloud effectively puts those severs at an equidistant point from both the provider and the client. This makes the whole process that much simpler.

Multi-Tenancy

With multi-tenancy, you can easily separate the data of each client and yourself, while working within a single installation. This is absolutely critical for an MSP or IT professional providing password or security services to multiple clients. Multi-tenancy is designed for MSPs rather than end-users, eliminating the need for multiple installs and making the management process more efficient.

Vendor Support

When your client needs something quickly, you’re going to need some help unless you know everything about the solution you offer. While knowing more is always good, sometimes questions will elude you, and at that point you’ll be glad your vendor is available for some help, support, and insight.

Integration with Existing Systems

If you already have a number of systems in place that do various things, wouldn’t it be ideal if your new IAM solution integrated nicely with them? Whether it’s Kaseya on your network, or Office 365 on your clients, having an IAM solution that works with what you have is great, and if it’s designed to work with those products, then that’s even better.

If your clients (and potential clients) are looking for a solution to their security and authentication problems and you’ve gone with the wrong solution, your clients will be disappointed with the results. You will face an uphill battle of implementing new protocol and dealing with systems that just don’t make sense for you or your client. With the right solution you become the expert, an invaluable resource to your client. You become their solution, and then you’re able to easily resell the software because they will spread the word of how well it works for their needs.

High-profile security breach scandals are hitting the press with alarming frequency, and compliance standards are advancing at a pace that organizations simply can’t keep up with. Companies found in non-compliance could face fines or lose access to valuable industry resources. If your business is able to offer solutions to these problems, then clients will be handing you money to you in an attempt to make their problems go away. Your bottom line will move up just that much higher.

Now, before you go off full of hope for an increased in profit, looking for Identity and Access Management solutions for your business to offer, let me throw another factor into the mix. You’re reading this blog on the Kaseya website, then you’re likely a Kaseya customer. If you are, or you’re interested in becoming one, it is important to ensure that the solution you choose supports a Kaseya integration. Kaseya AuthAnvil is one such solution. Their suite fulfills the requirements set above, and offers single sign-on, password management, multi-factor authentication, and many other useful features. So, if you’re looking for a Kaseya-optimized IAM solution, there’s no better place to start.

For more information on offering IAM to your customers: Click Here
For more details on Kaseya AuthAnvil: Click Here

Author: Harrison Depner

Get Your Head Out of the Tech: A Realistic Look at Cloud Computing

Cloud Inspection

To understand new technologies, one must first get past the misinformation and pierce the veil of hype to see the product as it actually is. As you can see from the graph below, tech hype progresses in a fairly typical cycle. Currently, we’re just passing the peak of inflated expectations and are beginning to see the beginning of negative press. The relatively recent iCloud incident and death of Code Spaces are just the tip of the iceberg which soon will plunge cloud computing into trough of disillusionment, where it will remain until people realize what purpose cloud computing actually serves, climb the slope of enlightenment, and set out across the plateau of productivity. This same process happens with every major technology hitting the market. Video killed the radio star, and internet killed the video star, yet we still have radio stations, and television networks. The media simply hypes everything out of proportion.

In spite of the trend set by the media, many technologists try to provide realistic advice to people before they throw out their old technology in preparation for the new. Cloud computing isn’t going to eliminate the need for older systems. If anything, it will just augment their purpose. In the following post, I will outline five key elements of cloud computing in a way that shows their upsides and downsides.

Hype Cycle

Accessibility: Boon and Bane

If a user is on a business trip, they can access the same resources that they can at work. The simple ability to access resources from anywhere within the same network is a boon, as it removes much of the need for an internal infrastructure. Unfortunately, as was noted by a French Philosopher, British PM, and a man dressed up as a spider, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Accessibility without appropriate restriction is a highly dangerous risk. A cloud-based system on its own cannot know that your users should not be attempting to log in from Elbonia. If your system is made more accessible to your end-users, then it’s also being made more accessible to everyone else.

In a nutshell, IF your access security is well developed, then you can reap the benefits of increased availability, otherwise you’re going to have a bad time.

Maintenance: Can’t Someone Else Do IT?

This entry would have suited a different article entirely, but it works extremely well for the purpose of realistically portraying cloud computing.

There are two ways this scenario typically plays out. Your cloud-based service provider could be amazing — handling updates, resolving issues, and generally fixing everything before you even notice something has gone wrong. If that’s the case, then you’ve reduced the need for the services of your IT department and in-house infrastructure, thus significantly reducing overhead.

Unfortunately, such a result is not guaranteed, and if your provider leaves a lot to be desired, then your experience is going to be less than positive. Rather than staying ahead of new issues as your in-house techs did, your provider may instead do the bare minimum, only completing tasks when they’re specifically told to do so. Micromanagement is expensive, and the potential service outages resulting from poor service can be costlier than maintaining your old in-house IT infrastructure ever was.

In a nutshell, it all comes down to quality of service. If you move to the cloud and your provider is great, then things will run smoothly. If they’re less than stellar, then your experiences will reflect that.

Reliability: Now With More Points of Failure!

The reliability of a system can always be judged by the number of potential points of failure, and the redundancy (or lack thereof) surrounding those points. Cloud computing is very interesting in how it shifts the reliability of a system from hardware functionality, to relying on the availability of services.

Consider the following, if cloud based systems and in-house systems were both types of vehicles, then in-house would be some sort of SUV, while cloud-based would be some type of high-performance car. This means that their relative performance comes down to the presence of a well maintained road (internet connection). If the road is always going to be available, then the high-performance car will outright win; however, the moment they need to go off-road the SUV has a clear advantage.

I explain it this way, because it’s effective at pointing out the shortcoming of the cloud based model. If you have no internet, then you have no access. If you have an in-house infrastructure and the internet goes out, then work can still be done across the internal network. The high-performance cloud-mobile may be significantly less likely to break down, but without the internet providing access it will just sit idle during those periods.

Security: Something Old, Something New…

Security in the cloud is one of those hot-button topics, so let’s keep this as concise as possible. Companies like Code Spaces, which were bankrupted due to poor cloud security practices, provide a generous justification for their systems to be top-of-the-line. This means that cloud services and cloud service providers are often extremely focused on security. At the same time, there is no action without a cause. The reason why they are so security minded, is because they are aware that, in addition to the usual risks an in-house system may encounter, the new features which the cloud is built upon (such as multi-tenancy, shared resources, and availability) open up new vectors for attack which previously could only be theorized. This means that, while the security in the cloud is often quite strong, there are also new weaknesses which can or may circumvent those defenses.

Costs: You Get What You Pay For

In many instances, cloud service providers offer pay-for-usage models of pricing. This means that you pay based on the resources you are using, and the duration of the time they’re in use. In many cases, this is more cost effective than having the same systems in-house. This adaptability and scalability can be great for any business. On the flip-side, consider cloud based infrastructure the same way you would consider leasing a property. It can be more affordable and ideal to lease an office; however, in some cases it’s more cost effective and practical to buy the property. Whether or not you get a good cost-effective deal for your cloud-based infrastructure comes down to planning for your needs.

Whether you’re planning on migrating to the cloud, are remaining in-house, or are deciding on which you would prefer, the first step to building a strong IT infrastructure is finding the right platform to build upon. Kaseya was designed and built with security as the fundamental building block to its core architecture. To learn more: Click Here.

If you’re interested in some ways to protect your cloud-based IT infrastructure: Click Here.

Author Harrison Depner

IT Security Compliance Requirements and State Laws

State laws have always been a tricky subject when the internet gets involved. Unless your business is large enough to hire a squadron of legal representatives, you just have to accommodate for them. In this article, I’m going to outline three of these state laws which may apply to your business. Fair warning: This article should in no way be construed as legal advice. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t even play one on TV.

California Compliance Law

State: California

Law: CalOPPA (California Online Privacy Protection Act)

Who it applies to: Any commercial website or online service that collects personal information about “individual consumers residing in California who use or visit its commercial Web site or online service.”

What the law requires: CalOPPA can seem to be a fairly complicated law, so let’s break it down into a simpler form. This law focuses on how you handle personal information, and more specifically how your website or service responds to “Do Not Track” messages. This sounds like it could become difficult, but fortunately the law doesn’t require you to respond to “Do Not Track” messages. Instead it only requires that you disclose whether you do or don’t respond to those messages. In other words, you can ignore “Do Not Track” messages and collect personal information despite them; however, if you do that you will need to say so in your privacy policy.

If you decide instead to respond to “Do Not Track” messages, you will need to disclose how you respond, and while CalOPPA doesn’t specifically define how detailed your disclosure must be, it’s safe to assume that such disclosure should be accurate.

Fortunately most websites already have privacy policies, and adding a few lines that state you don’t respond to those messages, or alternately do and your practices around that, isn’t too difficult a task.

Nevada Compliance Law

State: Nevada

Law: NRS 603A (Security of Personal information)

Who it applies to: This law applies to “any governmental agency, institution of higher education, corporation, financial institution or retail operator or any other type of business entity or association that, for any purpose, whether by automated collection or otherwise, handles, collects, disseminates or otherwise deals with nonpublic personal information” of Nevada residents.

What the law requires: This security law sets forth a number of legal obligations for those to whom the law applies. In a nutshell, these obligations include:

  • Protocols surrounding the destruction of records containing personal information. (603A.200)
  • The maintenance of “reasonable security measures to protect” those records. (603A.210)
  • The disclosure of breaches which affected the stored personal information of NV residents. (603A.220)
  • Mandatory PCI Compliance for organizations that accept payment cards. (603A.227)
  • The encryption of Nevada residents PI in transmission, and during the movement of storage devices. (603A.227)

What does this mean in a general sense? Well, if this law applies to you or your clients’ businesses, then you have a lot of work to do. Fortunately, these compliance requirements are fairly typical and you may not have to make any changes at all if you’re already PCI compliant. If you do business with residents of Nevada and you’re not following these practices… well, I highly recommend you start working to follow these practices immediately. Some sources point out that this law technically has a national and international reach for any group handling the personal information of Nevada residents.

Massachusetts Compliance Law

State: Massachusetts

Law: 201 CMR 17.00

Who it applies to: Every person or organization that owns or licenses personal information about a resident of Massachusetts and electronically stores or transmits such information.

What the law requires: Fortunately this law is written in a fairly comprehensive way, so it is quite easy to explain. For those to whom this law applies, it is required that a comprehensive information security program exist, and that said program cover all computers and networks to the extent which is technically feasible. This security program, when feasible, is required to…

Have secure user authentication protocols which provide:

  • Control over user IDs and other identifiers.
  • Reasonably secure assignment and selection of passwords, or use of unique identifier technologies, such as multi-factor authentication.
  • Control of passwords to ensure they are kept in a location and/or format that does not compromise the security of the data they protect.
  • Restriction of access to active users and active user accounts only.
  • The ability to block access after multiple unsuccessful access attempts, or limitation placed for the particular system.

Secure access control measures that:

  • Restrict access to records and files containing personal information to those who need such information for their job.
  • Assign unique identifications and passwords, which are not the vendor supplied default to any person with access.

As well, the security program must include:

  • Encryption of all transmitted records and files containing PI which will travel across public networks or wirelessly.
  • Reasonable monitoring of systems for unauthorized use of or access to personal information.
  • Encryption of all personal information stored on laptops or other portable devices.
  • Require a reasonably up-to-date firewall protection and operating system security patches for systems containing personal information which are connected to the Internet.
  • Reasonably up-to-date versions of system security software which must include malware protection with reasonably up-to-date patches and virus definitions, or a version of such software that can still be supported with up-to-date patches and virus definitions, and is set to receive the most current security updates on a regular basis.
  • Education of employees on the proper use of the computer security system and personal information security.

As you can see, I saved the best for last. This law, just like the one from the state of Nevada, can have a national or international reach. Now I didn’t write all of this for you to panic about. I feel that these three laws serve as a good motivation for any business to improve their IT security and IT policies in general. Additionally, these three laws in combination provide a great framework that any business could build their IT security upon. Security is not the job of a single person, nor is it the job of a single business, instead it is a task for everyone.

The first step to building a good home is laying down a strong foundation. Similarly, the first step to building a strong and compliant IT infrastructure is finding the right platform to build upon. Kaseya was designed and built with security as the fundamental building block to its core architecture. To learn more: Click Here.

If you’re interested in learning more about PCI compliance: Click Here.

If you’re interested in another interesting compliance requirement for Law Enforcement: Click Here.

Author Harrison Depner

Building the World’s Fastest Remote Desktop Management – Part 4

Fastest Remote Control

Building the world’s fastest remote desktop management solution is a bit like building a high performance car. The first things to worry about are how fast does it go from zero to 60 and how well does it perform on the road. Once these are ensured, designers can then add the bells and whistles which make the high end experience complete.

In our first three installments in this series (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), we talked about the remote management technology being used to deliver speed and performance, and now we are ready to talk about remote management bells and whistles to deliver the high end experience IT administrators’ need. Kaseya Remote Control R8, which became available on September 30, adds 6 new enhancements to ensure greater security and compliance and help IT administrators resolve issues more quickly on both servers and workstations:

  1. Private Remote Control sessions:

    In many industries, such as healthcare, finance, retail, education, etc., security during a remote control session is crucial. Administrators cannot risk having the person next to the server or workstation view sensitive information on the remote screen. Kaseya Remote Control R8 allows IT administrators to establish private Remote Control sessions for Windows so that administrators can work on servers or workstations securely and discreetly.

  2. Track and report on Remote Control sessions:

    These same industries have strict compliance requirements. Remote Control R8 allows IT organizations to track and report on Remote Control sessions by admin, by machine, per month, week, day, etc., with a history of access to meet compliance requirements.

  3. Shadow end user terminal server sessions:

    Many users run terminal server sessions for which they may need assistance. Remote Control R8 lets IT administrators shadow end user terminal server sessions to more easily identify and resolve user issues.

  4. See session latency stats:

    Poor performance is often hard to diagnose. Remote Control R8 shows session latency stats during the remote control session so administrators are aware of the connection strength and can determine it’s relevance to an end user’s issues.

  5. Support for Windows Display Scaling:

    HiDPI displays are quickly becoming the norm for new devices. Remote Control R8 includes support for these display types (i.e. Retina) to allow IT administrators to remotely view the latest, high definition displays.

  6. Hardware acceleration:

    Remote management becomes much easier if one can clearly see the remote machine’s screen. Remote Control R8 enables hardware acceleration, leveraging the video card for image processing, for a sharper remote window picture while reducing the CPU overhead by 25%-50% depending on the admin’s computer hardware – “sharper” image screenshot.

Just like your favorite high-performance car, Kaseya Remote Control R8 is delivering the speed, performance and features IT administers need to obtain a high-end management experience.

Let Us Know What You Think

The new Desktop Remote Control became available with VSA R8 on September 30.

We’re looking forward to receiving feedback on the new capabilities. To learn more about Kaseya and our plans please take a look at our roadmap to see what we have in store for future releases of our products.

Author: Tom Hayes

What can The Simpsons teach us about IT security?

Simpsons IT Security

When it comes to educating your users about IT security, there are a lot of wrong ways to connect the dots between concepts and practices. Simplistic training sessions can make your users feel ignorant, gullible, or even unintelligent. From my experience, the best practices tend to be those which are honest, informative, and entertaining. When you make your lessons entertaining, you can improve the amount of knowledge your employees retain, it’s just that simple.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at one lesson which won’t fail to entertain and inform your end users. Here are five lessons about IT Security we can learn from everyone’s favorite jaundiced TV family: The Simpsons.

Quote One: “Me fail English? That’s unpossible!” – Lisa on Ice (Simpsons S6E8)

Lesson in IT security: No-one, and nothing is infallible.

No matter how adept your computer security skills are, there will always be things which catch you unaware. Viruses, malware, and social engineering are continually being refined, and as such their potency is always greater than ever before. You may speak IT as your native language, but that doesn’t mean failure is unpossible.

Malware in the wild is only half of the equation, because Shadow IT also falls under this lesson. Most of the time, when you encounter an instance of Shadow IT, it’s just a user with the best of intentions. It could be a worker trying to improve their productivity, or a “tech savvy” user “improving” the security of their system. Unfortunately there is a strong correlation between Shadow IT and malware, and, while correlation doesn’t necessitate causation, in the world of IT security there’s usually a fire if you smell smoke. No-one is infallible, and when non-IT staff are free to install apps of their own volition, the risks become compounded.

Quote Two: “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” – Burns’ Heir (Simpsons S5E18)

Lesson in IT security: IT Security is about risk mitigation, not risk elimination.

Let me say that again, IT security is about mitigation, not elimination. This quote is a solid example of the inverse of the rule, which is what many people believe. I’ve heard numerous end-users tell me that they “don’t bother running any of those anti-virus programs”, because they “used to pay for one and they got a virus anyways.”

“Anti-virus” programs, which are more accurately named “anti-malware” programs, are not infallible. The same goes for firewalls, any form of authentication, or any other IT security related product in existence. The only absolute in IT security is the absolute possibility of risk. That doesn’t mean the products do not work, in fact many are extremely effective at mitigating the risk of various attack angles, it’s just that there’s no such thing as a “silver-bullet product” which is capable of eliminating risk.

Quote Three: “Don’t worry, head. The computer will do our thinking now.” – The Computer Wore Menace Shoes (Simpsons S12E6)

Lesson in IT security: Having strong security practices does not mean that you can stop thinking about IT security.

A lot of professionals feel that automation can handle everything, including the security of their IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, that’s only a half-truth. Automation is a glorious tool for the IT professional. Mundane and advanced tasks can be automated so as to execute with more efficiency than ever before. Never again will driver updates be so strenuous a task. Unfortunately, maintaining security is less of a science, and more of an art form, and as such the human element is always critical.

Consider Cryptolocker, which has recently been seen distributing itself under the guise of a fax notification email. Short of sandboxing every internet browser across your entire network, there’s not a lot you can automate to stop this threat. If you pay attention to various security forums though, then you may have found people who had recently encountered that variant. With human intervention, you could then set up an email filter for any emails including the word “fax”, and inform your staff of the risk and how to avoid infection. When that level of automation is possible you can let the computer do your thinking, until that time though, you can’t simply assume your systems will be able to handle everything.

Quote Four: “They have the Internet on computers, now?” – Das Bus (Simpsons S9E14)

Lesson in IT security: Keeping your intranet internal and your DMZ demilitarized are no longer easy tasks.

Yes Homer, they have the internet on computers now. To be more accurate, they have the internet on everything now. Back in the day, keeping users off of unsecured connections was as easy as telling them that being caught with a personal modem in the office was a termination-worthy offense; however, with the prevalence of cell-phones and other portable devices, a far greater risk than the 2400 baud modem of yore lies in every employees pockets.

What this means is that endpoint security and security awareness training are more critical than ever before. You can’t always trust your users, but you can teach them to not trust themselves. That may sound like a candidate for “most depressing speech ever given to new employees”, but if they’re aware of the risk each of them poses to the security of your network, they may hesitate before using their smartphone to send out that confidential business information in the future.

Quote Five: “Cant someone else do it?” – Trash of the Titans (Simpsons S9E22)

Lesson in IT security: This final rule has an easy explanation. No, someone else cannot do it. IT security is everyone’s job.

This episode is one of the most memorable Simpsons episodes, and incidentally it’s also one of the most relevant lessons you can pass on to your users. How does garbage disposal tie in to IT security? Quite easily, just consider IT security like running a sanitation department.

Homer’s sanitation plan failed because of the inefficiency inherent in getting a third party to handle all of the jobs previously handled by the citizens. Why is it okay then, to have IT security be handled by a single department, or person? People take their garbage to the curb to decrease the work required of sanitation workers, it’s this collaboration that makes the process effective. It logically follows, that such collaboration would equally benefit an IT department. Minimize the work you place on your IT staff, if you bring them your security concerns, such as potential malware infections, rather than leave it to them to notice and/or figure out, then the entire process is streamlined. Work smarter and minimize the workload placed on IT’s shoulders, because, while someone else can do it, having someone else do it is extremely inefficient.

If you’re looking for even more ways to improve the efficiency of your IT staff, why not take a look at a system which offers innumerable utilities from a single pane of glass.

A properly implemented Single Sign-On solution can also drastically improve the efficiency of business. For more information on that subject: Click Here.

Author: Harrison Depner

Education and Mitigation: Improving IT Security Through User Education

School IT Security

Unless your network consists of a room full of users connecting to an unsecured consumer-grade router, the most vulnerable part of your network are your users. Technology is good at following rules consistently, while people are not. You can trust a computer not to install viruses on itself, it can be infected, but that’s not how it was designed to function. Technology may not always work the way it’s supposed to, but it’s not like the technology itself has any control over its actions. People on the other hand…Well, you just can’t trust people not to make bad decisions…

Even the Romans knew it. To err is human: Errare humanum est. -Seneca

Trusting in your users to do everything right is foolhardy; however, it’s quite possible to teach them not to trust themselves! In the field of IT security you should trust no one. Think about how much risk would be mitigated if you could pass that notion on to your users.

Would your average users stop opening random links people send them to featuring “10 cute kitten videos you have to see?” Probably not, but if we change the question a little and ask, “Would your users engage in that sort of risky behavior less often?” Then the answer becomes a definitive “yes.”

When it comes to educating your users about IT security, there are a lot of wrong ways to connect the dots. Simplistic training sessions can make your users feel ignorant, gullible, or even unintelligent. From my experience, the best practices tend to be those which are honest, informative, and relevant. Try having a brownbag lunch and discussing IT security issues that have recently received media coverage. People remember large events like when Sony was hacked, so you could work that into a lesson about why it’s dangerous to recycle passwords across websites. Make your lessons relatable and you will improve the amount of knowledge your employees retain. It’s just that simple.

Maybe this doesn’t apply to your business. Perhaps you work at an MSP where the most computer illiterate employee you have is the janitor from Elbonia who has his CIS degree printed on what looks to be a cereal box. Well, even then there’s still plenty to learn.

Work can be hectic and busy. There are always new patches to install, and break-fix work to do. After a certain point, it gets really easy to just become apathetic to the process. Well, no surprises here but, not embracing life-long learning is one of the worst possible things you can do. IT security isn’t something you can just learn and be done with, it’s a constantly changing and evolving field! You can memorize your ABCs, but the closest things to that I have seen in IT are the four cardinal rules of IT security.

Have you heard of the four cardinal rules? Probably not, because I’m sure my instructor was improvising when he taught us. That would explain why they’re pretty much the same as the four cardinal rules of gun safety. Well, here are those four rules, so read them and see if you pick up anything new!

  1. All guns are always loaded.

    Connecting things to a network is a lot like picking up a gun. It could be loaded (with malware), or be poorly manufactured, which adds the risk of it blowing up in your face. You might want to trust the ergonomic keyboards your techs brought from home, but even that can be risky.

    In short: Assume nothing, and check everything.

  2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

    Patches, updates, hardware installations, this applies to everything. If you’re going to change anything on your network, don’t just plow ahead and do it. Aim those changes in a safe direction (like a test server, or non-critical system) and try things out there first. If things work well on the test server, then safely implement the changes across all systems. You wouldn’t play Russian-Roulette with your life on the line, so why would you do it with your network?

    In short: Test everything before it goes live.

  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and ready to shoot.

    It’s good to stay on top of the most recent updates, but there’s a fine line between updating appropriately and excessively. Just because you can update to the newest beta version of Java doesn’t mean you should, and just because there’s a newer version of an OS, that doesn’t mean you need it.

    In short: Don’t change anything on the fly and don’t install anything without considering the results.

  4. Know your target, and what lies beyond.

    When changing anything, make sure you are fully aware of what it is, what it does, and what needs it. Consider what happened with the release of Windows Vista. Many businesses updated to Vista because their hardware supported it; unfortunately, a number of devices which relied on XP’s resources no longer functioned as a result. Users were scrambling to figure out why their printers, webcams, and other gadgets no longer worked, and it caused quite a headache for the people who supported those systems.

    In short: Do your research. Nothing is as modular as it seems, and updating something as innocuous as a printer could bring your network to its knees.

Above all else, always remember that you can never know too much. Keep on learning, keep reading those blogs, and keep reading those forums. You’ll never know if something you learned is relevant until you have to do it yourself.

Now, before you go looking for random lessons to train your coworkers on, let me throw one more factor into the mix. If you’re reading this blog at blog.kaseya.com, there’s a good chance that you’re likely a Kaseya customer. If you are, or you’re interested in becoming one, why not take a look at Kaseya University.

Kaseya University is a state-of-the-art training platform for Kaseya users. It utilizes an innovative blended learning approach to provide both structured and flexible access to technical product training. The Learning Center allows students to build a truly customized learning experience unique to their needs. Kaseya University is kept current with Kaseya product releases, and refreshed multiple times a year. To learn more about Kaseya University: Click here

With that knowledge you can accomplish even more from a single pane of glass.

If you want more information on IT security or just want some topic starters: Click Here

If you want a more direct approach for improving your IT Security: Click Here

Author: Harrison Depner

Haste Prevents Waste. Single Sign-On Can Improve Any MSPs Profit Margin

Single Sign-On Efficiency

As people gain access to more online resources, they need to remember an ever-increasing number of usernames and passwords. Unfortunately, having more usernames and passwords means spending more time spent keeping track of those usernames and passwords.

If you’re a business owner and you don’t have password management software, then you’re letting your employees manage their passwords on their own. Your users could be setting the stage for every IT security manager’s worst nightmare: an office full of sticky notes with user names and passwords clearly visible around their workstations or cubicles. Without some form of password management solution, your employees are suffering from ongoing frustration as they try to manage their passwords while following your IT security requirements.

If your business is already using password management software, then you should have a solution that manages which resources your employees are able to access, and which credentials they should use to do so. Unfortunately, your password system may not be doing everything it can to provide simple, and secure access for your employees.

What if there was a way for users to have strong passwords without the need to remember them, while also retaining a high degree of security?

Regardless of how you’re managing your passwords today, you can eliminate password frustration, increase your employees’ efficiency, and improve your IT security by implementing a single sign-on password management solution.

What is Single Sign-On?

Single sign-on (SSO) is a system through which users can access multiple applications, websites, and accounts by logging in to a single web portal just once. After the user has logged into the portal, he or she can access those resources without needing to enter additional user names or passwords.

Single sign-on is made possible by a password management system that stores each user’s login ID and password for each resource. When a user navigates from a single sign-on portal to a site or application, the password management system typically provides the user’s login credentials behind the scenes. From the users’ perspective, they appear to be logged in automatically.

High quality SSO solutions are able to provide access to a variety of internal and external resources by utilizing standard protocols such as SAML, WS-Fed, and WS-Trust.

As with any password management application, security is a critical consideration for SSO systems. Single sign-on is often implemented in conjunction with some form multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that only authorized users are able to log into the SSO web portal.

5 Reasons MSPs Benefit from Single Sign-On

  1. SSO can create exceptionally strong password security. When paired with multi-factor authentication (MFA), single sign-on gives you a password management solution that can be both user friendly and extremely secure.
  2. SSO makes enforcing password policies easier. In addition to allowing for strong passwords for critical resources, an SSO system makes it easier to assign and maintain those passwords. In some cases, you can take users out of the password management process entirely—a good SSO system will allow you to can assign them behind the scenes, and change them as needed when your security needs evolve.
  3. Users won’t need or want to save passwords to their unsecure browser. To the average end user, the ability of a web browser like Chrome to remember and submit passwords is a huge bonus; however, while saved passwords offer some of the benefits of single sign-on, web browsers offer none of the security that comes with a true password management solution. When you implement an SSO system, you eliminate the temptation for employees to save their passwords in their browsers, because the SSO portal does that job instead, and often does it better. At that point you could remove that feature from their browsers without the risk of angering your users.
  4. Single sign-on makes your systems easier to secure. Rather than securing dozens or even hundreds of access points to your systems, your security administrators can focus the majority of their efforts on securing just one—the SSO system. If you pair the SSO system with multi-factor authentication, you’re your credentials will be more secure and manageable, than a collection of independently secured websites and systems.
  5. Reduced IT help desk calls. Experts estimate that the average employee calls the IT help desk for password assistance about four times per year. Given that an average IT helpdesk call takes about 20 minutes, that’s 80 minutes per year. That’s 160 minutes of wasted time (IT staff + end user) per year per end user. A good SSO solution will help you put that money back on your bottom line, and free your IT professionals to spend their time on more important projects.

Now, before you go looking for a single sign-on system for your business, let me throw one more factor into the mix. If you’re reading this blog at blog.kaseya.com, there’s a good chance that you’re likely a Kaseya customer. If you are, or you’re interested in becoming one, make sure that the solution you choose supports a Kaseya integration. Scorpion Software was acquired by Kaseya not long ago, and they offer a full Kaseya integration of their user authentication and password management suite. Their suite offers single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and many other features. So, if you’re looking for a Kaseya-optimized suite, there’s no better place to start. That way you can accomplish even more from a single pane of glass.

If you want more information on what a good single sign-on system should do: Click Here

If you want to know what I would recommend as a single sign-on solution: Click Here

Author: Harrison Depner

Big Data in Application and Cloud Performance

Big Data in Application and Cloud Performance- Why & How

Vikas Aggarwal

CEO, Zyrion Inc.

Always regarded as a non-critical part of day-to-day operations in the past, Big Data and its delayed analysis was relegated to batch processing tools and monthly meetings. Today, as the IT industry has snowballed into a fast moving avalanche of Cloud, virtualization, out-sourcing and distributed computing, the science of extracting meaningful intelligent metrics from Big Data has become an important and real-time component of IT Operations.

WHY BIG DATA IN CLOUD PERFORMANCE TOOLS

No longer do IT management systems work in vertical or horizontal isolation as just a few years ago. The inter-dependence between IT Services, applications, servers, cloud services and network infrastructure has a direct and measurable impact on Business Services. The amount of data generated by these components is huge and the rate at which this data is generated is so fast that traditional tools cannot keep up with any kind of real time correlation. The combined volume of data generated by this hybrid infrastructure can be huge, but if it is correlated properly, it can give mission- critical insight into:

  • the response times and behavior of an IT service or application
  • the cause of performance degradation of an IT service
  • trend analysis and proactive capacity planning
  • see if SLAs are being met for business services

This data has to be analyzed and processed in real-time in order to provide proactive responses and alerting for service degradation. The data that is being collected can be structured or unstructured, coming from a variety of systems which depend on each other to offer optimal performance, and has little to no obvious linkage or keys to one another (i.e. the data coming from an application is completely independent of the data coming from the network that it is running on). Some examples of data sources that need to be correlated are application logs, netflow, JMX, XML, SNMP, WMI, security logs, packet analysis, business service response times, weather, news, etc.

Enterprises are moving to hybrid cloud environments at an alarming rate and all customer surveys indicate that the complexity of these platforms are their biggest concern. Enterprises must adopt monitoring systems that are flexible and can handle Big Data efficiently so that they can offer real-time responses to alarms and get meaningful business impact analysis from all of the different data sources.

Contextual analytics and presentation of data from multiple sources is invaluable to IT Operations in troubleshooting poor application performance and user satisfaction. As a simple example, a user response time application could send an alert that the response time of an application is too high. Application Performance Monitoring (APM) data could indicate that a database is responding slowly to queries because the buffers are starved and the number of transactions is abnormally high. Integrating with network netflow or packet data would allow immediate drill down to isolate which client IP address is the source of the high number of queries.

HOW TO HANDLE BIG DATA FOR CLOUD PERFORMANCE

Traditional monitoring or BI platforms are not designed to handle the volume and variety of data from this hybrid IT infrastructure. The management platforms need to be designed to correlate Big Data from the IT components in real-time and provide feedback to the operations team for proactive responses. As these monitoring systems evolve, their Big Data correlation components will become richer and more analytical and will position these enterprises for the IT environments of the future.

New generation enterprise monitoring solutions that are scalable, have predictive analytics, multi-tenant and a granular security model are now available from a small number of vendors. Single use systems that are designed for just network data or just application data are trapped within the same boundaries that makes Big Data meaningless by its very nature, Big Data systems needs to be able to handle a very wide variety of data sources to provide greater uptime from faster troubleshooting and lower OpEx from correlated analysis.


Vikas Aggarwal is CEO of Zyrion Inc.,
a leading provider of Cloud and Network Monitoring software for large enterprises and Managed Service Providers.
You can read more about Zyrion’s Enterprise Monitoring Solution and how it handles Big Data on their web site.

 

 

Kaseya MSPs Rank Highest Worldwide for 2013

Way to go Kaseya MSPs! You’ve done it AGAIN!

It’s a new year, already filled with exciting changes and significant MSP opportunities. But for some of you, a few things remain the same, and selfishly, we are happy about that. The new MSPmentor Top 100 rankings for 2013 are out. In the table below, see how many MSPs running Kaseya were represented on the list:

MSP_mentoir_501_2013

Kaseya has always been at the front of the pack in terms of solutions that successful MSPs use to run their businesses. 2013 is no exception. Once again, we are honored and humbled by the fact that so many of the Kaseya MSPs continue to dominate the MSP Mentor 100 list for 2013.  Additionally, just over 51% of all 485 survey respondents use Kaseya.   Good for you! Congratulations from all of us.

Like proud parents, we are thrilled that our customers are seeing significant and sustainable growth in their own businesses. We are more excited that so many of you show up year after year on this list and with so many Kaseya customers ranked near the top, it’s a validation that MSPs CAN grow and DO grow with Kaseya. We applaud your hard work and we sincerely appreciate your partnership with us, both of which give us the information we need to continue to build – and support – the Kaseya Solution that powers your business. We remain committed to these areas because we know you count on us to do so.

No big surprise right? Not at all, and with so many Kaseya MSPs ranked on the list, it serves to highlight how our innovative customers are finding more and more IT task management work to be  automated and how more work is being done centrally and remotely. The industry pundits still take notice, too. These accolades reinforce our belief that product innovation still matters and that robust and efficient vendor support is still important.

As our annual user conference approaches – Kaseya Connect is April 29th – we can’t wait to see you all in Las Vegas to congratulate you in person. And we are ready to engage with you so and gather your feedback, organize it into valuable solution requirements, prioritize it for your use on our product road map, so that we can further our commitment to building the right solution that works well for so many of you.

For those of you who are not yet Kaseya customers, I hope you are ready see Kaseya in action. We invite you to see how and why the top MSPs power their business with us and I encourage you to register for a live, weekly Kaseya product demonstration.

As the saying goes, seeing is believing, and I think you’ll be glad you gave us a look.

MSPs and Big Data: Why and How

MSPs & Big Data – Why & How

Vikas Aggarwal

CEO, Zyrion Inc.

Always regarded as a non-critical part of day-to-day operations in the past, Big Data and its delayed analysis was relegated to batch processing tools and monthly meetings. Today, as the IT industry has snowballed into a fast moving avalanche of Cloud, virtualization, out-sourcing and distributed computing, the science of extracting meaningful intelligent metrics from Big Data has become an important and real-time component of IT Operations.

WHY BIG DATA IN CLOUD PERFORMANCE TOOLS

No longer do IT management systems work in vertical or horizontal isolation as just a few years ago. The inter-dependence between IT Services, applications, servers, cloud services and network infrastructure has a direct and measurable impact on Business Services. The amount of data generated by these components is huge and the rate at which this data is generated is so fast that traditional tools cannot keep up with any kind of real time correlation. The combined volume of data generated by this hybrid infrastructure can be huge, but if it is correlated properly, it can give misson critical insight into:

  • the response times and behavior of an IT service or application
  • the cause of performance degradation of an IT service
  • trend analysis and proactive capacity planning
  • see if SLAs are being met for business services

This data has to be analyzed and processed in real-time in order to provide proactive responses and alerting for service degradation. The data that is being collected can be structured or unstructured, coming from a variety of systems which depend on each other to offer optimal performance, and has little to no obvious linkage or keys to one another (i.e. the data coming from an application is completely independent of the data coming from the network that it is running on). Some examples of data sources that need to be correlated are application logs, netflow, JMX, XML, SNMP, WMI, security logs, packet analysis, business service response times, weather, news, etc.

Managed Service Providers are moving to hybrid cloud environments themselves and offering services ranging from security, backup, VoIP, applications and compute resources. Also, enterprises are outsourcing more and more of their IT performance management, and they expect the MSP to handle any and all kinds of IT data. Managed Service Providers must adopt monitoring systems that are flexible and can handle Big Data efficiently. Such IT monitoring platforms will allow them to offer higher value added services to enterprise customers. Once they have such versatile Big Data systems in place, they can offer real-time responses to alarms and alerts and give meaningful business impact analysis to these enterprise customers.

Contextual analytics and presentation of data from multiple sources is invaluable to IT Operations in troubleshooting poor application performance and user satisfaction. As a simple example, a user response time application could send an alert that the response time of an application is too high. Application Performance Monitoring (APM) data could indicate that a database is responding slowly to queries because the buffers are starved and the number of transactions is abnormally high. Integrating with network netflow or packet data would allow immediate drill down to isolate which client IP address is the source of the high number of queries.

HOW TO HANDLE BIG DATA FOR CLOUD PERFORMANCE

Traditional monitoring or BI platforms are not designed to handle the volume and variety of data from this hybrid IT infrastructure. The management platforms need to be designed to correlate Big Data from the IT components in real-time and provide feedback to the operations team for proactive responses. As these monitoring systems evolve, their Big Data correlation components will become richer and more analytical and will position these MSPs for the IT environments of the future.

New generation MSP monitoring solutions that are scalable, have predictive analytics, multi-tenant and a granular security model are now available from a small number of vendors. Single use systems that are designed for just network data or just application data are trapped within the same boundaries that makes Big Data meaningless – by its very nature, Big Data systems needs to be able to handle a very wide variety of data sources to provide greater uptime from faster troubleshooting and lower OpEx from correlated analysis.


Vikas Aggarwal is CEO of Zyrion Inc.,
a leading provider of Cloud and Network Monitoring software for large enterprises and Managed Service Providers.
You can read more about Zyrion’s MSP monitoring solution and how it handles Big Data on their web site.

 

 

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