Intrusion prevention systems: The must-have piece to your network security puzzle

intrusion prevention system (IPS)Network security is not a one-and-done process. Organizations can no longer install a few firewalls and expect their data to remain safe from breaches. If IT managers didn’t know this already, they learned it from the Target point-of-sales attack and the Heartbleed bug — just when we thought our information was safe, hackers developed new ways to snake through our systems and steal valuable data.

The only way to get ahead of these thieves is by changing the way organizations look at network security. Too many take a patchwork approach, implementing just a piece or two of a larger puzzle. One piece alone puts your organization at risk, but when you connect many systems and measures together, you complete the security picture.

One of the more important puzzle pieces that too many organizations still don’t have in place is an intrusion prevention system (IPS). The IPS operates on the front lines of network defense, working in tandem with intelligence gathering systems that comb logs for suspicious activity, application security tools that detect and thwart attacks on vulnerable applications, and data protection systems that keep your most sensitive information locked down.

And while it’s just one part of a comprehensive security plan, IPS is a must-have in today’s era of larger, more frequent, and more damaging breaches. Yet other tools are still in use as a first line of defense against intruders, including firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDSs). Here’s a breakdown of why IPSs should be an integral part of your larger security ecosystem. (more…)

Improving IT security: Why you need to consider Next-Generation Firewalls

IT-firewall

Firewalls can be the star performer in your inventory of security controls. A good firewall not only provides ways to manage user, application, and system behavior, but it also offers multiple avenues for controlling network traffic and can help companies cut back on vendor sprawl.

Yet in order to achieve optimal functionality, organizations must say goodbye to the firewalls of yesterday and welcome the new wave of Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs). As Gartner put it, “The firewall market has evolved from simple stateful firewalls to NGFWs, incorporating full stack inspection to support intrusion prevention, application-level inspection, and granular policy control.”

Traditional stateful firewalls are just not as effective as they were in the past due to the increase in intelligent adversaries seeking financial gain over defacement, their lack of specificity for network traffic types, and their inability to control traffic based on other factors, such as geographical region, application, or identity.

NGFWs offer several compelling functional advantages over stateful firewalls that can help organizations overcome these challenges. (more…)

You’re overdue for a data protection checkup

Stethoscope-on-KeyboardData is among the most valuable assets for any organization. And collecting, storing, and securing internal and external information only grows more important as the amount of data flooding in continues to rise.

Securing that data from hardware failure, natural disaster, malicious activity, or erroneous deletion can be challenging, especially if your data protection systems and processes aren’t functioning at their highest level. Given the speed with which data stores grow every day, it’s important to periodically audit and reassess your current data protection systems and determine whether an upgrade, refresh, or consolidation could better assist your organization in guarding your content.

Here are the four areas to review when evaluating your data protection solution. (more…)

3 things to know about Symantec’s new licensing offering

Earlier this month, Symantec released its new Enterprise Subscription Agreement (SESA). Today I’ll answer your three most pressing questions about the announcement and provide information to help you understand and leverage the new program.

1. What is the Symantec Enterprise Subscription Agreement?

The SESA is a three-year contractual licensing agreement for Symantec security products available to organizations with 250+ users. The agreement allows organizations to optimize security spend, standardize on solutions from one trusted vendor, and simplify license management.

2. What’s included in the Symantec Enterprise Subscription Agreement?

The Symantec Enterprise Solution (SES) is available as part of the SESA. SES combines products to provide multiple layers of protection for mobile, endpoint, and mail and web infrastructure.

The solution integrates a number of key security products to protect your data wherever it resides. It includes three main layers of defense. (more…)

State of the hybrid cloud: Report from EMC World 2014

The message last week at EMC World 2014 was loud and clear: The mega trends of mobile, social, cloud, and big data have organizations of all sizes, in every industry, racing to develop next-generation applications and better leverage big data analytics to redefine their overall enterprise and IT strategies.

The culmination of these mega trends and the opportunities and threats they introduce across all industries is what’s being called the Third Platform of IT.

It starts with new mobile applications that emerge daily, changing the way organizations interact and transact. These applications support more users and generate more information than their predecessors, leading organizations to redefine themselves with software, and transform data centers into fully virtualized and automated private clouds. At the same time, they’re also running certain applications in a public cloud.

Tasked with providing more strategic value to their organizations’ bottom lines than ever before, IT is seeking ways to become more efficient, agile, and cost-effective, meaning this hybrid cloud is where almost all applications will eventually live.

Suggesting a significant move toward adoption of a hybrid cloud model, the Economist Intelligence Unit published a report that found 63 percent of business executives plan to increase reliance on corporate IT to deliver both internal and external IT resources.

The announcements coming out of EMC World further support the prevalence of these themes and the movement toward hybrid cloud solutions. Here’s a recap of some of the big ones. (more…)

Please touch: New uses for interactive digital signage

Attention is at a premium. Video, audio, status updates, texts, articles, and more all vie for our attention every waking hour. With so many diversions, many industries are finding that they need new ways to reach their audiences. How can educators engage students, for example? How can retailers attract customers? How can a museum instruct visitors, or a hospital connect with patients?

Quite simply, it’s got to be interactive. And with users now accustomed to swiping and tapping their way through touchscreen interfaces, they expect hands-on experiences. Now retailers, schools, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and hotels are investing in a number of devices to provide exactly that through interactive digital signage.

Here are a few examples of interactive digital solutions and how they’re being put to use in various sectors.

Interactive whiteboards. Forget old-school chalkboards and traditional dry erase boards. Demand continues to grow among K-12 educators, as well as corporations, for digital whiteboard solutions, such as Sharp’s AQUOS Board. Instead of erasing and losing lecture notes after each lesson, teachers can now capture the writing on the wall and email students a screen shot of the day’s notes, diagrams, and assignments. (more…)

Improving IT security: Why you need to consider Next-Generation Firewalls

NGFWFirewalls can be the star performer in your inventory of security controls. A good firewall not only provides ways to manage user, application, and system behavior, but it also offers multiple avenues for controlling network traffic and can help companies cut back on vendor sprawl.

Yet in order to achieve optimal functionality, organizations must say goodbye to the firewalls of yesterday and welcome the new wave of Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs). As Gartner put it, “The firewall market has evolved from simple stateful firewalls to NGFWs, incorporating full stack inspection to support intrusion prevention, application-level inspection, and granular policy control.”

Traditional stateful firewalls are just not as effective as they were in the past due to the increase in intelligent adversaries seeking financial gain over defacement, their lack of specificity for network traffic types, and their inability to control traffic based on other factors, such as geographical region, application, or identity.

NGFWs offer several compelling functional advantages over stateful firewalls that can help organizations overcome these challenges. (more…)

SHI enters elite Windows Azure Circle

Microsoft recently selected SHI to join the Windows Azure Circle, an elite group of partners that demonstrate excellence in assisting customers with planning, designing, procuring, and implementing Windows Azure solutions. Not every Microsoft partner is eligible to join this group since program acceptance requires a Microsoft executive sponsorship and a partner commitment to provide world-class solutions and support leveraging Windows Azure.

SHI has helped customers implement Windows Azure since Microsoft made it available through volume licensing in November 2011, and adoption continues to accelerate as customers move toward cloud-based solutions. SHI increased revenue generated through Windows Azure agreements by 259 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, and we continued to exhibit strong growth in early 2014. January’s revenue alone reflected an 816 percent increase compared to the same month last year.

In joining the Windows Azure Circle, SHI can now access even more Windows Azure training and technical resources to help us assess, develop, and implement Windows Azure for more customers. Membership in this group reinforces our commitment to providing customers one-of-a-kind, world-class support.

Have you considered implementing Windows Azure? Do you have questions about how Windows Azure will fit within your organization’s environment? If so, email your SHI sales representative today.

Why defining your company’s business goals is the key to unified communications success

I’m asked, almost on a daily basis, what is the best unified communications (UC) solution on the market. Generally speaking, my response is, “Great question! The best UC solution is one that aligns with clearly defined business requirements.” I typically then ask the customer, “What are your business requirements for this solution?”

Seems like a logical question to ask, don’t you think? But occasionally, my question is met with an uncomfortable silence, awkward eye glances, and shifting body movements as the customer tries to articulate a response.

To all potential UC customers, I promise this question is not meant to suck you into some sort of reseller trap. Instead, it is designed to ensure the success of your UC solution. When evaluating a UC solution, clearly defining business goals is the first and most important step. For resellers, understanding how a customer expects to benefit from a solution will influence the products recommended. And for customers, the answer to this question will drive product selection and determine the solution’s success. The question is the benchmark on which customers and resellers will evaluate a UC solution.

Define your business requirements

Too often, UC projects fall short of maximizing the investment because business requirements are not fully understood by an organization upfront. To identify business requirements, customers should ask and answer what, why, and how: What are your processes today? Why do you need to change them? How are you going to benefit from those changes? Answering these questions in detail will drive the success of your solution. (more…)

How to get your maintenance renewals under control

If your organization always wants the latest and greatest products and most up-to-date support, chances are you buy your software and hardware maintenance from various manufacturers. The question is: How do you manage all of your purchases while ensuring you’re not overspending?

Renewal management can be complicated, involving a kaleidoscope of factors that can turn a simple process into a field full of potential land mines, including overspending and non-compliance. Here are some of the challenges IT organizations face while managing renewals and how to solve them.

1. Myriad buying programs. Every business unit has its own unique mix of hardware and software needs. When it comes to licensing Microsoft products, for example, some organizations excel with an Enterprise Agreement (EA) to license a particular number of seats at any time for any product. Other organizations utilize a Select Agreement to buy what they need when they need it. With other publishers, some parts of your organization might still rely on perpetual licenses while others need options like the subscription-based Adobe Creative Cloud. The range of potential ongoing agreements in any company is vast, and renewal dates are unlikely to align, creating the potential for under-licensing or budgetary “gotchas” if the various renewal dates aren’t closely tracked.

2. Multiple employees managing buying programs. Larger organizations have licenses with more manufacturers and for more products than any one person can manage alone. Of course splitting the workload, whether by division or manufacturer, reduces visibility into organization-wide renewal dates. Having employees manage licensing in a silo also limits potential cost-savings and cost-avoidance advantages for future licensing, as employees might not be aware that their combined purchases qualify them for the next level (price break) of cost-savings. (more…)