Ransomware - What To Tell Your CEO

Ransomware - What To Tell Your CEO

When your CEO says, 

“I need to discuss how the company is protected against ransomware”. 

Here is what you need to do.




I am sure many of you are have received countless emails recently from IT vendors telling you to buy their hardware or software because it is the “best way to protect against ransomware”.  This is all well any good, but right now, you are probably more concerned with what you are going to tell your CEO when he or she asks “What measures do we have in place to protect us against ransomware attacks” or “Are we open to attack?”

Ransomware is one of the fastest growing industries on the planet.  There isn’t a week goes by without talk or somebody being attacked or a new threat emerging.  The reason.  Because it is incredibly profitable for its creators, who are also difficult to trace.  

Ransomware has, and still is, evolving. Like any malicious code, it is often designed to attack the unprepared. 



Most ransomware attacks use software, such as Cryptolocker, which enters a corporate network attached to an official looking email, addressed to a member of staff.  Often this looks like an invoice or other official document.  Opening the attachment will immediately encrypt the data on the owner’s PC and any attached file servers.   This is swiftly followed by a message saying “pay a ransom in the next few days or your data is gone for good.”  Not a lot of fun and quite scary for the individual and the owners or the company.


WannaCry – Ransomware Steps Up a Gear

More recently ransomware has taken a new twist. “WannaCry”, also known as Wcry, WanaDecrypt0r or WannaCryptor works by exploiting a security hole in the Windows operating system. Microsoft issued a patch in March2017, but any systems that haven’t been kept up to date with security patches are vulnerable.  

This doesn’t need human interaction for the infection to occur so, the attack can be much more widespread.  The number of computers that can be infected by this type of ransomware virus can quickly run into hundreds of thousands.  The effect to the user and the target organization is the same.  The user’s system is encrypted and a ransom notice flashes up on their screen. However, the infection can spread to multiple systems in a single organization if systems aren’t patched up to date.



What Can You Tell Your CEO?

This conversation can follow two routes:

  • This is what we have in place.
  • This is what we need to buy.

The second option is likely to be less well received, but it is also a great opportunity to get funding for something you really do need, to protect the organization.

So, let’s look at the measures you can take:

  1. Patch your systems:  This is an easy one, unless you have a lot of systems.  It just involves time.  If you don’t have time, you should suggest that you outsource the patching to an external managed service company, who can manage it for you. 
  2. Invest in some good quality anti-virus software:  Anti-virus software vendors make it their job to protect you against the latest virus strains and will happily tell you if their software protects you against ransomware viruses like WannaCry. This makes it easy to see if your software is up to the job. Again, if you don’t have suitable software, you can sign up for a managed antivirus service so someone else can make sure you are protected.
  3. Check your firewall:  Firewalls are designed to protect against outside attacks.  A recent blog article from SonicWALL, illustrates that they and other vendors are on top of things. Look for similar statements from your firewall vendor. If they can’t provide this, look to your CEO for budget for a replacement.
  4. Update your Backup Software: This may not be as obvious, but this can be your last and best line of defense.  If you assume that you will at some point, get infected, having the ability to recover systems without paying a ransom is quite important.  Modern back up software, that takes regular snapshots throughout the day and has the capability to spin up virtual machines, it the best way to avoid paying a ransom.  The infected system or systems can be isolated, formatted and reimaged from a recent clean backup in a matter of minutes.  Clean virtual machines can also be spin up from the last clean backup, to replace the infected ones. 

This eBook goes into more detail and gives an example of where Abtech was able to recover our client’s main file server in less than an hour with less than 5 minutes of data changes lost. 


The Meeting with the CEO – A Happy Ending

Armed with this information you can go into that meeting with the CEO fully prepared.  Making a statement like this:

All our systems are up to date and we have protection through our firewall and antivirus software, but I recommend we invest in a new backup system to ensure we can recover quickly if we are attacked

will reassure your CEO and senior management even if it may cost them some money. 


Further Resources and Actions Microsoft Recommend You Take:  

Download English language security updates: Windows Server 2003 SP2 x64,Windows Server 2003 SP2 x86,Windows XP SP2 x64,Windows XP SP3 x86,Windows XP Embedded SP3 x86,Windows 8 x86,Windows 8 x64

Download localized versions for the security update for Windows XP, Windows 8 or Windows Server: http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/Search.aspx?q=KB4012598
Read general information on ransomware: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/portal/mmpc/shared/ransomware.aspx
Download MS17-010 Security Update: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/ms17-010.aspx 


Where can I find the official guidance from Microsoft? 



Is the update available for Windows 2003 & Windows XP as well? 

Yes. The link for download of the update is available at the end of this article 



Will the update run on unlicensed Windows? 

It is recommended that the update is run on a licensed version. 


What about Windows 2003 R2? 

The Windows 2003 update should get applied on Windows 2003 R2 as well.   


Will the installation of the patch, prevent the occurrence of ransomware? 

No. Applying MS17-010 is just preventing the malware from spreading, not giving protection against the infection itself. Based on reports, this malware is using Social Engineering to target companies.Please warn your users to not open, click or enable macros on email reception. 

  • The priority is that your anti-virus can detect the malware. 
  • Verify that you have up-to-date signatures, along with patching the Windows systems 
  • Make sure that users have the level of knowledge required to never click on suspicious attachments even if they are displayed with a familiar icon (office or PDF document). Where an attachment opening offers the execution of an application, users must under no circumstances should accept the execution and in doubt, users should you consult and/or consult the administrator. 
  • Implementation of strong filtering in O365: 


  • Exchange Online Protection 





Security tips to Protect against Ransomware 



Is the ransomware effective only if the user has administrative rights on the client machine? 

No. This piece of ransomware, like most of others, once executed, encrypts all files it can reach in the context of a user, if the user is an admin on the box the outcome is more devastating. In addition, this ransomware also tries to disable shadow copies and make some registry changes in HKLM hive which require administrative privileges. 

When it tries to spread, it uses a vulnerability, which once exploited gives the malware SYSTEM level access on the target system. All this means that this attack maybe very successful and destructive even if the users don’t have admin privileges on their unpatched workstations/servers. 


Is only disabling SMB v1 Server (LanmanServer) on all our machines helps us to protect from this vulnerability? 

Patch installation would be the first option. To answer the question, Yes. SMBV1 should be removed, but in a planned way. Please refer the below link 



Do we need to disable SMB v1 client (Lanmanworkstation) as well on all our machines? 

No. It is only the SMBv1 server component (which means Lanmanserver), on the client machine and not Lanmanworkstation on the client machine. 


What is the impact of removing SMBv1? 

  • You’re still running XP or WS2003 under a custom support agreement 
  • Windows XP will not be able to access shares on a Windows 2003 Server or any other Operating System 
  • Windows Vista and above Operating System will not be able to access shares on a Windows 2003 Member Server or Domain Controller (if you still have them in the environment) 
  • You have some decrepit management software that demands admins browse via the ‘network neighborhood’ master browser list 
  • You run old multi-function printers with antique firmware in order to “scan to share” 


Please refer the below article for more details 



If we must disable smb v1 Server service, what are the registry values to disable it? 

When using operating systems older than Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, you can’t remove SMB1 – but you can disable it: KB 2696547- How to enable and disable SMBv1, SMBv2, and SMBv3 in Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012 

Please refer to the below link for more details 



How do we know SMB v1 is active in our environment?  Can we proactively check it? 

Yes. Please test this, before using in the production environment. 



Windows 2016 and Windows 10 provides a way to audit usage of SMBv1, which can be found here 



Is Windows 10 affected as of now? 

The exploit code used by WannaCrypt was designed to work only against unpatched Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 (or earlier OS) systems, so Windows 10 PCs are not affected by this attack as of now.


Customers running Windows 10 were not targeted by the attack today.


Windows 10 systems also need to be patched, because the variants can be developed. In addition to this, it would be recommended to remove SMBv1 from the clients and Windows servers, after doing a complete review of the below mentioned article. 


How long can your business afford to be offline?

How Long Can oOur Organization Afford to Be offline

Businesses have many different mission critical apps that could potentially be affected by a network outage. Losing connectivity for even a short amount of time could cause businesses to hemorrhage revenue. Let's look at how businesses are vulnerable to being offline, what causes downtime and how companies can protect themselves.

What business assets are vulnerable to downtime?

Businesses are increasingly reliant on their network for more than just the cloud-based applications that they depend upon. A typical retail business might have an array of services that could be affected by an offline network.

  • Point of sale terminals in the front of the store.
  • WIFI networks that a business's customers might need to access.
  • The WIFI and wired network that's dedicated to your employees.
  • Surveillance cameras and VoIP phones that connect to the network.
  • The back office equipment room that has racks full of servers.
  • Visual signage and digital kiosk space.

How downtime can affect credit card processing

Network security is critical for any businesses running credit card processing. You need to maintain your PCI compliance, which means locking down the security both locally and remotely. Companies should be monitoring all the traffic that is accessing its network. Companies might not have on-site IT to manage these various network resources. If not, you'll need a capable cloud management solution for managing, monitoring and deploying your various network devices.

But PCI compliance is the least of your worries when access to the credit card networks go down. If a business can't process transactions electronically, then they'll have to resort to storing and forwarding transactions. Credit card fees can be extremely high for store and forward transactions. Having to store and forward many small transactions can kill a business's profitability.

  1. If you have a network connection, the credit card fees average 2-3%.
  2. If the network connection goes down, the fees that a business incurs can be as high as 30% for small transactions.

Downtime caused by human error ... and squirrels

There's a high cost to your business being offline. It's estimated that nearly a trillion dollars of revenue are lost each year to network downtime. And although network administrators do their best to keep networks online, 60% of all network failures are due to human error. It could also simply be the matter of a construction crew digging up a trench in the wrong spot. Poof! There go all your DSL, cable and T1 wired connections. It turns out that squirrels account for another approximately 17% of network downtime. In 2010, Yahoo was taken down by squirrels chewing on wires in its Santa Clara, California data center.


No business is immune to these outages. It doesn't matter whether it's through natural disasters or human error, these episodes are going to happen. In the retail industry, margins are razor thin. Your downtime might have only lasted a few hours, but it can be the difference between having a positive or a negative quarter. Downtime also affects the quality of the customer experience. If the customer comes in and you aren't able to access their records, that's not an outcome you want to see repeated.

Downtime caused by natural disasters

Businesses also need to prepare themselves for natural disasters and other unforeseen network disruptions. Hurricanes and tornadoes can take out miles of infrastructure in a flash. Natural disasters will almost always take out the wired infrastructure first. During a hurricane, water gets into the wires in the ground and knocks out networks. Many businesses deploy routers in remote locations so that they can have secure backup Internet connectivity.

Preparing for Disaster in the Workplace

When you're in the workplace, one of the keys to having a successful business, is planning ahead at all times.  With that said, while many companies do prepare for these unexpected events, they often don't take disasters into consideration. Planning for unexpected disasters, such as a power failure or a ransomware attack, is crucial for keeping your business safe.


So how should businesses prepare for these incidents?  Here are a few things to keep in mind.

#1. Educate Your Employees

It's one thing if you're prepared for disaster, but what about your employees? It's essential to remember that teamwork plays a key role in all this. What someone else does in the workplace, could have a major impact on the entire company, for better or worse. As an example, let's say you were familiar with the dangers of ransomware, and how to avoid it. Your employees, on the other hand, weren't knowledgeable. You had better teach them the basics, or they might end up making a careless mistake. Preparing for disaster isn't just about you, everyone in the business needs to know their part as well.

#2. Plan For Each Disaster

Initially, this might seem like a lot of work, but that's not necessarily the case. You don't need to create a plan for every disaster, but you should know how to handle each incident. As I had mentioned earlier, each disaster in the workplace can't be handled in the same way. As an example, let's make a comparison between a power failure and a natural disaster. For the former, all you'd have to do is make sure your info is backed up on a regular basis, particularly via cloud computing. A method that allows you to store your information virtually, even the most severe incidents would have no impact on your data. For the latter, however, it's a different case. Considering natural disasters could have an impact on your building, you need to have a plan that goes beyond storing your data. If there's a hurricane, are you moving your equipment to higher ground? Do you have another building to transfer your data to? These are some things to keep in mind.

#3. Cloud Computing

Of all the ways to prepare for disaster, cloud computing is easily the most effective. As I had mentioned before, this method allows you to store all data virtually, and it becomes accessible on any device with Internet connection. Whether you fall victim to ransomware, or end up spilling coffee on your keyboard, these disasters will have no effect on your virtually accessed info. Even more so, use cloud computing is also an exercise in keeping your data backed up on a regular basis. Many businesses are too laid back about their files, keeping everything on their desktop, and sometimes even backing everything up at the last-minute. Cloud computing is a smart decision, because it allows you to focus on other aspects of your business, without always having to worry about worst case scenarios.

For more information about preparing for disaster in the workplace, as well as the importance of disaster recovery as a service, feel free to contact us today at Abtech Technologies. We offer a range of security products that not only protect your sensitive information, but also assess compliance and overall security of your network. We look forward to hearing from you, and assisting you in the best way possible.

Dell EMC Storage Strategy

Dell EMC Storage Strategy

"Expanding The Horizon for Dell EMC Midrange Storage Customers  (taken from DellEMC blog article published September 2016)"

Here we are as Dell EMC, and we’re champing at the bit to show our customers, partners and the world what we’re made of as a combined business. We were already recognized as the leader in data storage pre-merger and together we’re going from strong to stronger, now number one across all combined mid-range markets in which we play. If you’re a customer or partner of either company this bodes well for you, as Dell EMC can now offer an even greater choice of world-class products from a single vendor, which has become the largest privately controlled IT company in the world.

Since we started this journey nearly a year ago, we’ve had a number of questions from customers about our plans to support the midrange storage portfolios that are coming together. Let me confirm that we are 100% committed to supporting both EMC Unity and the Dell SC Series (Compellent) going forward. Why? Let’s start with a look at what both product lines have brought to the combined business and then fast forward to see what the future holds.

The Dell EMC midrange businesses represent:

  • Market share of 29.4%, nearly double that of our nearest competitor.
  • Leadership across all price bands. [i]
  • $5 billion in combined revenues [ii] within a total addressable market of more than $17 billion.
  • More than 100,000 existing, passionate storage customers [iii], with the heritage of both EMC technologies well positioned in large enterprises and of Dell’s incredible strength in the entry-level and mid-markets.
Dell EMC Entry and Midrange Storage
Leadership dell emc midrange storage

The Combined Dell EMC Midrange Portfolio – Go Forward from Today

Dell EMC’s midrange portfolio now has a scale and breadth that is without comparison in our industry. Our combined midrange offerings are the strongest they’ve ever been as, this year, we have launched new products such as Unity Flash storage systems and made powerful enhancements to the SC Series OS. This all adds up to a combined portfolio for our customers and partners that is unmatched elsewhere in the industry.


Portfolio Approach = A Win-Win for Customers and Partners

While single “point solutions” may be temporarily viable for one-trick, cash-burning startups and niche players, neither Dell, nor EMC has ever believed ‘one-size fits all’ is the best approach because it limits choice and flexibility. It’s not about us; it’s about our customers, so we focus on offering a continuum of solutions. This means we’re able to tailor our offerings for specific customer needs, by combining unique capabilities from across our broad portfolio. As Dell EMC, we can bring customers an even deeper portfolio approach to midrange storage. Together, we can ensure choice of the right product for an even wider spread of our customer’s needs at the optimal price and performance, now covering almost any use case.

As a combined business, Dell EMC is the midrange segment leader in market share and offers two strong and distinct product families that meet customer needs from entry-level into upper midrange storage. For the sake of simplicity, let’s refer to them as Dell SC Series and EMC Unity. There are clear distinctions in both the use cases and scale that each product family addresses.

SC Series: Value-Optimized Mid-Market Proven Storage Systems

The Dell SC Series is a value-oriented family with a proven track record in many small and medium businesses. In analyzing the SC customer base, we’ve seen distinct areas of strength where Dell is the server vendor. Focused on value and ease-of-use, the automated data placement and data efficiency features provide performance at a low price. The range of configurations includes all-flash, hybrid and disk-only configurations. Ideally suited to smaller deployments across a variety of workloads, the SC Series products are easy to use and value optimized. We will continue to optimize the SC Series for value and server-attach.

Unity Family: The Ultimate in Simple, Flexible, Unified Storage

The EMC Unity family is able to address most general-purpose midrange customer requirements for block, file, and unified workloads with configurations for all flash, converged, hybrid and virtual deployments. The Unity architecture will continue to be optimized for simplicity, flexibility and affordability. In just a few more weeks, we will announce a powerful Unity code update to expand its all-flash data services, increase its category-leading density and provide advanced cloud services.

With such incredible assets and customers, the Dell EMC strategy is to retain both product families and continue investing in them according to their strengths. That benefits us, because it benefits our customers. It’s a strategy we believe supports customer choice and leaves no gaps for the competition.

While we are leading with Unity and SC Series for our midrange customers going forward, we will continue to support our N-1 platforms from both Dell and EMC. Customers can continue with their current products and then choose to evolve over time as Dell EMC invests more in seamless management and mobility across our product set.

For migration, management and mobility, we’ve got our customers covered. We already have EMC ViPR Controller – which is a common storage management platform across multi-vendor storage arrays. In addition, we have world-class data protection across Dell and EMC storage with EMC Data Domain, EMC Avamar, and EMC NetWorker. EMC RecoverPoint and EMC VPLEX can also be used today for replication between Unity and SC Series to facilitate easy coexistence and data mobility.


Bottom line

Dell EMC is better together, and we’re making sure that this is true most of all for our customers, who will be able to stick with what is most familiar and comfortable for them. Both Unity and SC Series product families will continue well into the future with support and R&D that will further develop their capabilities to handle the most diverse set of midrange use cases and workloads. The level of quality, product functionality and support that our customers have come to trust and appreciate will be a minimum baseline for Dell EMC today, and it will be the foundation from which we will exceed customer expectations in the future.

Don’t let End of Service Notices Drive Your Infrastructure

IT equipment needs to be replaced and updated after a while. It makes sense to replace it when it's no longer reliable, when requirements change, or when upgrading will give a big performance improvement at a reasonable cost

The Cost Benefits of Investing in a Third Party IT Maintenance Services

Working with a third-party ensures your company gets unmatched support in your system upgrades and updates and lets you relax knowing that anything or any issue related to IT that will arise will get the significant attention needed at no extra cost. With 24-hour monitoring services and flexible alternatives offered by third-party firms, the cost benefits enjoyed by the organization are huge. Contact us now for more information.

When is it Appropriate to Move From OEM Support to Third-Party Maintenance?

No doubt you've had considerable experience with OEM support ending on your IT equipment over the years. If you're experiencing this for the first time, it might incite a bit of minor panic since you've perhaps relied on this support for a while. Original equipment manufacturers frequently want to move on from legacy support because they want to build their own future.

In many ways, OEM support ending after two or more years is a symbiotic process, if by force. They're essentially weaning you off OEM support reliance so you can benefit from third-party maintenance.

Going with a third-party maintenance plan isn't a bad transition for various reasons, though you'll want to know when it's appropriate. It's better to transition before your OEM support ends so you won't have to scramble to find something suitable.

Declining Value in OEM Support Agreements

For some IT equipment, it's sometimes possible to enter a longer OEM support agreement than others. Often, they'll allow you to enjoy several years of support and then extend to a limited point through contract renewals.

Maybe you're doing this now. Regardless, it's worth noting as each year ensues, you're receiving less support value. Since many IT manufacturers want to move forward to provide new technologies you'll want to buy, they don't waste time with an entire decade or more of support privileges.

When you start losing OEM support value, it could place you in jeopardy if you have a serious IT issue arise. An emergency might come up and you'll realize the 24/7 support you once enjoyed is now extremely limited or non-existent.

If you find yourself in a tech emergency on a weekend or holiday, you're basically left on your own to find technical help.

This is why you're better off switching to third-party maintenance before your OEM support starts to degrade in quality.

The Growth of Third-Party Maintenance

Dissatisfaction with OEM support is one of the main reasons companies switch to third-party maintenance recently. According to statistics, 75% of companies make this switch because OEM support didn't help with changing business requirements.

Data like this shows why maintenance from outside sources has rapid growth in IT departments worldwide.

When you find a new maintenance team, you're going to discover they give you far more benefits than if sticking long-term with the OEM process.

Costs and Customization

It's going to cost less hiring a third-party maintenance company because you're basically outsourcing much of the technical help. They already have a dedicated team that's going to monitor your IT equipment and even provide remote support when needed. In many cases, this means using pre-owned equipment, despite many businesses preferring this to save money.

You're also giving yourself far more freedom. OEM support systems frequently prevent you from using your network for the entirety of its useful life. Now you can, including adding things to it the original manufacturer didn't allow.

Better IT Management

Keep in mind you're going to receive excellent IT management going through a third-party source. Many of these maintenance companies offer IT advisors, something you wouldn't find with the OEM.

Through your advisor, they'll guide you through any upgrades you want to do, the best equipment to use, and how much money you should spend.

With the new trend being decoupling hardware and software to extend the tech life cycle, a new IT paradigm is already here. Keeping costs under control is obviously a major hurdle for all companies. Now you can stop playing risk, especially when relying on security technology.

Visit us at Abtech Technologies to ask about our security products to augment business continuity and compliance.

Advantages of Cloud Computing Features

The Advantages of Cloud Computing.png

In recent years, the cloud computing world has evolved to provide almost everything for your business "as-a-service" and does it for a relatively low monthly fee. Cloud computing features also include converged infrastructure and solid state drives. Read on for tips on these features that may prove advantageous for your business.

As-a-Service. The list of cloud offerings as-a-Service grows each year. We encourage you to carefully review the various as-a-service cloud services available from cloud service providers. Do not commit to any cloud service that cannot handle your data securely and does not operate in the way that you want to operate. You will want to explore the providers' responses to any data security questions before committing to a specific cloud provider to ensure that you make the best choice. If the provider cannot answer your questions to your satisfaction, do not buy the service.


Software as a Service
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is probably the most ubiquitous of the cloud offerings. SaaS permits some choices within the software features offered, however, customers cannot customize the underlying code. If your business requires extensive changes to the SaaS code, you probably won't get them -- which is not such a bad thing. After all, you wouldn't want the shared cloud code to include changes that you expected would give you a leg up over your competition. Any code change accepted by the cloud provider will be available to all who use the SaaS. That's how as-a-service offerings work. The cloud provider makes client requested changes at one time and every customer gets to take advantage of the changes.
  • Database-as-a-Service. DB-as-a-Service is, at its core, a sub-specialty of the software-as-a-service model. It is a managed service that provides access to a cloud database that the DBaaS customer uses with cloud applications and their own data. All the administration and management of the database stays with the cloud provider so all the customer has to do is use its database. Businesses that want to retain more control over the database can do so under optional features. Cloud providers base payment on the features used and the amount of storage capacity the database requires. Some DB systems do not support compression or table partitions so it is imperative that you understand what your existing system can do and what your business requires from its database before you commit to DBaaS.
  • Identity-as-a-Service. ID-as-a-Service is an infrastructure for authentication that resides in the cloud. It is a way of managing identity that includes all of the things we've come to appreciate about services in the cloud, such as smaller on-site infrastructure; easy management; and a range of integration options. IDaaS is popular with smaller organizations or large organizations with satellite locations who do not have the expertise in-house to have strong identity architecture. Such businesses move identity security to the cloud believing that the cloud provider is an expert in the field. ID-as-a-Service raises questions of regulatory compliance, auditing, and how the ID cloud provider will handle disclosures of sensitive customer information. Since this is an evolving area, do not count on the law to demand cloud provider surety against disclosure of sensitive information. Do your due diligence review.

Converged Infrastructure. The term converged infrastructure refers to the process of grouping various information technology (IT) elements together into one computing package. The packaged IT elements act more efficiently than the elements would if acting independently. These elements may include servers, network management, infrastructure management software, and data storage devices. Converged infrastructure approaches data center management in a way that looks to decrease incompatibility issues among all these elements.

Converged Infrastructure provides advantages over the traditional silo approach to computing. Converged Infrastructure allows networks to handle Big Data more efficiently through a single, IT management system which integrates the various components.

Solid State Drives. Traditional computers have spinning hard drives (HDD) for storage. Designers developed Solid State Drives (SSD) originally for ultra mobile devices. Today, you can choose to have SSD for your operating system and HDD for other purposes.

SSDs have no moving parts so they fly in the face of what we traditionally think of as "hard drives". The term refers to storage devices that save data on solid-state flash memory drives. Solid-state means the devices use solid semi-conductor (instead of electron tube) memory stored on a flash drive that uses integrated circuits rather than magnetic or optical media to store data.

SSD advantages are lower random access and read latency (think, wasted time) than traditional hard drives which gives SSDs higher input/output efficiency. It also means they are the best option for workloads that involve heavy read. Servers, laptops, and applications that deliver in real-time benefit from the SSD's ability to read directly from a specific SSD cell. The final takeaway is that SSDs are many times faster than electromechanical disc drives.

Archive, Backup, and Disaster Recovery

Archiving, Backup and Disaster Recovery.png

Backing up, archiving, and preparing for disaster recovery are obviously related. They overlap, but each one names a different purpose. Doing a good job at one of them doesn't mean they're all covered. Let's consider what each one involves.


The purpose of a backup is to restore files that are lost or damaged. Recovery needs may range from a single file to an entire drive. A backup volume can be local or remote. It can be quick to access for getting back single files, or intended mostly for bulk recovery. Its focus isn't long-term storage, though durability is a good quality.

Versioned backups provide extra safety. A file can be corrupted, without being noticed, for a long time. If only the current version is backedup, and it's corrupted too, that's not useful. A backup that includes older versions gives a better chance of recovery.

Many approaches are possible:

  • An attached drive. Software does frequent incremental backups automatically. It's convenient, and it's always up to date. The disadvantage is that malware or physical damage to the computer might affect the backup drive as well.

  • A shared storage system. Network attached storage (NAS) provides a large amount of backup space and keeps everyone's backups together. It simplifies backup management if there are a large number of users.

  • Tape backup. Tape is good for high-volume storage and allows saving multiple backups. It's good for recovering crashed drives, but not very convenient for restoring single files.

  • Offsite backup. Cloud storage is safer than any local backup from events that affect a whole office. It needs a fast enough Internet connection.

It's best to combine onsite and offsite backup. If one method fails, the other will usually keep working.


Long-term archival storage involves a different set of goals. It has several important criteria:

  • Selection. Not every file needs to go into an archive. Figuring out which ones are needed can be a complicated task. It's necessary to take business goals and regulatory requirements into account.

  • Durability. Unlike a backup, an archive needs to be kept intact for a long time, usually years. It needs to have its own backup. Storage media will eventually go bad, and old file formats may become difficult to process, so it can require periodic migration to new media and storage formats.

  • Identification. The information in an archive needs to make sense years after it's created. It needs to be well-organized, and it has to include enough metadata to reconstruct its context and purpose.

Maintaining an archive is a more complex task than keeping data backed up.

Disaster Recovery

Backup is a part of disaster recovery preparation, but it's not the whole story. If a catastrophic event takes out your business systems, you need a way of getting up and running again as quickly as possible. Being confident of that requires a recovery plan.

When disaster strikes, it's necessary to bring up an alternate system. Speed is essential; every minute that a company's systems are down means lost productivity and income. If systems are down too long, it affects the confidence of customers and partners. Bringing new machines onto the premises might not be feasible if the damage is severe, and getting them running is time-consuming.

The systems not only need to come back quickly, but with little or no data loss. If the recovery system has to roll back to the previous day's records, it will take a lot of work to bring them up to date. The backup needs to be ongoing to avoid losing business data.

Cloud-based disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) lets your business operate with confidence that if serious damage happens, downtime will be short and data won't be lost. StorTrust gives you the highest confidence that your data is always backed up and that you're prepared for any disaster that may come.

Whatever your backup, archiving, and DR needs are, Abtech is ready to meet them.

Why You Need a Holistic Approach to Business Continuity

If you conduct a 360-degree evaluation of your organization, it's possible to find different points of vulnerability. Many of these points occur where your company uses computing systems and software applications to automate business processes. Within these systems, you may use various business applications licensed from third-party vendors. Each application may include your servers accessing their software through a virtual connection. History has taught us that each relationship with a vendor introduces a new set of risks to your business. If your objective is business continuity, or continuous operations, your company must assess the risks associated with each vendor relationship. You must also take preventive measures to keep those risks from disrupting core operations.

The Background

When you consider IT risks from a holistic perspective, it's easy to assume that your company is equal to the sum of its parts. Another viewpoint is pondering how those parts fit together. You want all relationships to stabilize in ways that minimize the points of vulnerability. For example, every software application that your company adds to an existing server network will be affected if it fails during a security breach. Or, servers could be corrupted by a virus or temporarily offline due to a power failure in the data center. While you can't prepare for every potential risk, you can consider the advantages of spreading out known risks. In one company, this could resemble locating backup servers in a separate location from its primary servers.

The Core Business Relationships

To manage your business well, we recommend that you also review how your people interface with the IT infrastructure. These interactions are affected, sometimes permanently damaged, when there's an adverse event of a grave nature. If you aren't prepared for different risks, then your company might begin to lose sales and not serve customers according to the business model. Let's take the example of the third-party vendor providing a web-based application for order management/order fulfillment. If their ordering system fails, then does your company have a secondary way to process orders? Do you have a backup system that keeps track of all inventory levels and stores each customer order? These are features to look for when choosing the software vendor for order management/order fulfillment. They are part of a comprehensive business continuity plan.

The Fear of Interruption

When an organization must temporarily shut down because of an adverse event affecting its IT network, there is the fear that the interruption will cost the business money. There is the reality that the event's related costs (whether expected or unexpected) might not fall under the limits of the organization's disaster insurance policy. On some level, you have the cost of IT personnel working to restore your data infrastructure, especially when they get pulled from other projects to mitigate the problem.

The Need for a Holistic Approach

A holistic approach to business continuity means that your business must address every point of vulnerability within your IT networks, especially through comprehensive vendor management. The goal is ensuring that all computing systems keep functioning after an event while minimizing effects on consumers. But, if your company has already taken a holistic approach to business continuity (i.e. having a backup system for every server), then you could be out of ideas. You might benefit from an outside expert who can objectively evaluate your current operations.

You cannot afford to leave your company exposed to known risks to business operations. Evaluate all vendor relationships and ensure that each of them doesn't introduce new risks into the infrastructure, especially those that didn't exist before. Switch to vendors that offer higher levels of security without escalating your costs to the point that their products are not affordable.

Is Your Data Really Safe?

The key to understanding whether or not your data is safe lies in understanding the threats to it. Most attackers will attempt to come in by several very common avenues.

Every organization will face different threat levels. For example, if you're in finance or are a utility company, you're going to be facing more persistent and creative angles of attack than a small locally-focused shop will. That doesn't mean that there is any one type of business or set of circumstances where you can just forget about security, however. The internet is crawling with hackers and automated malware, and there's always some willing to grab up low-hanging fruit if the right door is left open.

Be sure to consider all of the following possibilities when reviewing your network security policies and procedures.

  • "Phishing" and Social Engineering Attacks

So-called "soft" attacks in which hackers attempt to exploit company employees have become much more common than attacks against the software or hardware of the network. That's because they're much easier to pull off and actually have a higher rate of success.

The main angle of attack is by email. Attackers can mass-mail to everyone in the company, but they may also do some homework and try to target specific entities by profiling them using publicly available information. Whatever the case, the endgame is the same; get the employee to either open a tainted email attachment, or to follow a link to an attack site that automatically installs malware.

The most common varieties of malware that will be installed are keyloggers or ransomware. A keylogger sits in the background and records keystrokes, possibly also taking periodic screenshots, and quietly forwards these to the hacker so that they can steal login information and private data. Ransomware encrypts vital files on the network, and the hackers then demand a payment (or two, or three) in return for the password to unencrypt them.

The biggest first step in defeating phishing attacks is to ensure that all email clients used on the network do not automatically download or run attachments! While mass-mail phishing attacks are usually easy to spot, a targeted attack may come from a "spoofed" email address that seems to be legitimate. Employees should be instructed to verify with the other party by phone or instant message if an unexpected attachment is sent or if they are asked to visit an external site out of the blue. As a safeguard against ransomware, you can also run automated "snapshot" systems that periodically send backups of network data to both the cloud and a local storage system.


  • Documented Software Exploits

While nearly every business has some data a hacker wouldn't mind having, some are much more interesting than others. For example, a company like Google or Goldman Sachs will regularly employ teams of hackers called "penetration testers" who try to find completely new and novel ways to break into their systems, ensuring they are on the cutting edge of security at all times.

A more "average" business doesn't face this kind of advanced threat. If the data they are guarding isn't particularly juicy, hackers will generally try known exploits against the software they are running and move along if none of them work. So how do you protect against these exploits? Primarily, it's by making sure you have the latest updated versions of each piece of software and app, as they receive continual security patches against newly discovered vulnerabilities. Old, discontinued software should also be replaced with something more modern, as new vulnerabilities will no longer be patched.


  • Discarded, Recycled and Lost Devices

Simply moving data to the recycling bin on the desktop doesn't make it disappear. If old electronics are to be sold or recycled and are still functional, they need to be cleaned with a good "hard disk wiping" program like DBAN that scours them to eliminate residual data. If you're simply disposing of an old drive, have it shredded. Don't forget that devices like copiers, printers, and old phones also have internal drives that store data!

Employees losing company phones or devices will happen from time to time, but you can secure against this mishap by mandating strong unique passwords for each device and two-step authentication for logins. It would also not hurt to encrypt data on devices that go out into the wild with a unique key that can be revoked later if they go missing.


  • Internal "Turncoat" Attacks

The toughest data security issue to deal with is the possibility of a trusted employee going rogue. Mitigation in this area primarily comes down to identifying privileged accounts and monitoring them appropriately, as well as removing credentials ASAP when such an employee leaves the company.

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Shifting the IT Team From Reactive to Proactive

All too often, your IT team finds themselves running from one problem to the next. As long as everything is going smoothly, they don't have much to do. When things start to fall apart, however, your IT team starts pulling their hair out! Sound familiar? By shifting your IT team from reactive to proactive, you can help your business day flow more smoothly even when problems arise.

Tighten Down Your Security

Poor network security can cause serious problems for your business: compromised customer information, excessive downtime, and even the loss of company secrets. By tightening down your security, you can help decrease the odds that a data breach will happen to you. The difference between reactive and proactive security is simple: reactive security simply reacts to a potential threat, dealing with the fallout after it becomes known. Proactive security, on the other hand, identifies potential threats and makes sure that your business is protected against them. This might include:

  • An on-site evaluation that will tell you the weak points in your physical defenses and whether or not a potential intruder will have an easy time accessing your computers, server rooms, and other sensitive areas
  • An evaluation of your external security, including your website
  • An evaluation of internal security and how well your network keeps out threats

By staying up-to-date with your IT security and adhering to the recommendations made by the team doing your evaluations, you help protect your customers and your business. It can save you money, increase the time your business spends up and running, and protect your website and network from malware: a winning combination that will help keep your business safe from outside threats.

Increase Your Regular Maintenance

In your business, do you use equipment until it fails, or do you assume a reasonable life of your hardware and replace it before it has the opportunity to cause problems? If you've been waiting on problems to occur, you're being reactive. Proactive replacement might seem more expensive up front, but in the long run, it can save you money. For example:

  • Replacing computers, from desktops to laptops, before they self-destruct ensures that vital employees won't end up with unexpected downtime while waiting for a replacement.
  • Maintaining your software means that you're always using the latest tools, which will keep your security tighter.
  • Taking care of routine maintenance on your servers and computers will ensure that everything stays up and running when you need it most.

Encourage your IT team to create a schedule for this maintenance, from machines that are due to be replaced to software that's recently been updated. While you don't always have to have the latest and greatest technology on the market, that proactive maintenance will often go a long way toward making your business day run more smoothly.

Anticipate Problems

Ideally, you want an IT team that's aware of potential problems before they arise. Is there a known fault in a particular piece of software your company uses every day, from a security issue that has just been released online to a known issue that causes the software to crash at random? Does a piece of hardware used by your company have a reputation for self-destructing precisely at the five-year mark? By keeping your IT team up to date on the latest happenings in the field, you can provide your entire business with the tools it needs to keep running smoothly.

Proactive maintenance of all the critical facets of your company's technology, including hardware, software, and security, protects your company from many of the potential failings associated with technology. Technology is only effective when it works. Shifting your IT team to a proactive stance will give you the confidence that all of your vital technology will keep working for you.

Is Cloud Computing Right For Your Business?

In today's era of technology, having your data available on multiple servers and devices is important. Not only is it great for security purposes, but it's also an exercise in self-discipline. After all, your sensitive data is one of the most important aspects in the workplace. By keeping your info stored on the Internet, you're taking things seriously in the business. Speaking of which, what is cloud computing? Generally speaking, it means storing and accessing data over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive. Hence, as long as there's a device with Internet connection, you can easily access your data. With that said, even though many businesses have invested in the cloud, that doesn't mean every company needs to use it. Is cloud computing a right fit for your business? Here are a few questions you should ask.

#1. Is Your Information Secure?

Before investing in the cloud, you should consider whether your data is already secure or not. While it's true that cloud computing is one of the best methods for keeping your data secure, remember that most businesses invest in it in the first place, because their files aren't secure enough. Believe it or not, there are several other security methods if you feel the cloud isn't right for your business. Not only could you keep your data backed up through multiple servers, but have you considered using a USB flash drive as well? While some businesses don't use it due to the small size, it's efficient for keeping your files stored and secure. Not to mention that you can upload your files on to any computer in the workplace.

#2. Can Anyone In The Workplace Access Your Files?

Before investing in the cloud, you should also consider whether others can easily access your files or not. For example, are your files already locked behind a server with a secure password? If the answer is no, then cloud computing would be your best option. If the answer is yes, then your files are definitely more secure than you think. Overall, limiting access of your files from others is important, especially in the workplace. After all, many times, it's those in the workplace who might be looking to access your data. Lastly, remember that just because cloud computing is one of the best options for storing and securing your data, doesn't mean it's the only one.

#3. Are You Usually in the Office?

One reason many businesses invest in cloud computing, is because it gives them easier access to their data. Remember, because you can access your files from any device with Internet connection, this is a huge convenience for business owners who are always out of the office. For example, let's say there was a business owner who was always traveling. Obviously, they would need a way to access their files at all times, and the cloud greatly compensates for this. However, if you're a business owner who's always in the office, you wouldn't need constant access to your files.

Overall, these are some important questions when considering cloud computing. Check to see if your information is already secure enough, whether others can easily access your files, and if you're usually at your office computer.

For more information about how to decide whether the cloud is right for your business or not, feel free to contact us today at AbtechTechnologies. Our business offers a range of security products and services that will provide protection of your sensitive information and will augment business continuity by assessing compliance and overall security of your network. We look forward to hearing from you, and assisting you in the best way possible.

Top 5 Security Products and Services for IT Businesses

Security is always an important concept to consider for IT businesses. They are dealing with large volumes of sensitive information that is targeted by hackers and other malicious actors both inside and outside of the firm. Depending on the business, the value of this data could be millions of dollars or more. Spending to protect it is imperative as insurance against this loss. There are 5 products that are most important.

Vulnerability Assessment

All IT businesses need to be aware of the potential threats to their network. Without the initial understanding of the obvious and not so obvious threats, you will not know how to defend yourself. A vulnerability assessment determines all of the threats both outside and inside the network. At that point, a risk assessment report is created to highlight all of the potential issues and how they may be resolved. Companies use an end-to-end, point to point vulnerability assessment to get at their root risks.

In fact, certain organizations are required to conduct a vulnerability assessment. That includes publicly listed companies and also those medical companies that must comply with HIPAA requirements.

Penetration Testing

A Pen Test usually follows a vulnerability assessment. It includes a harmless payload that mimics a virus to attempt to infiltrate and disrupt a network. The payload acts in the same way a virus does to exploit vulnerabilities but does not actually cause any harm. This tests may identify problems that were not apparent in the risk assessment. This takes a little more time than the risk assessment but produces valuable insight from a real live test.

Malware Training

No matter how much software and equipment you purchase, there is always the more prosaic ways to infiltrate a network. By tricking an employee into voluntary downloading a malicious virus, a hacker can cause enormous damage. This was the case in the hacking of Sean Podesta (Hillary Clinton's chief advisor) and possibly also of Sony Pictures.

To avoid falling victim to these programs, employees should undergo extensive training sessions to learn about phishing, web links, public wifi and other potential vulnerabilities. Companies must establish strong programs to create a culture of safety.

Back-up Data

Managed cloud services providers must protect data from being wiped by malicious attackers. While excellent firewalls and anti-virus software does some of the work, keeping segregated data centers is another crucial tool. Cloud data has the advantage that it can be held in multiple locations, not simply in the hardware of the employees on site. For that reason, skilled cloud service providers can keep data in different locations so that even if the hacker is successful in infiltrating one storage center, they will need a new set of approvals to access the other one. Even better, if the first server is attacked, the other ones may automatically shut down to prevent further disaster.

Anti-Virus Software

Of course, the old stand-by is having anti-virus software installed on every computer, in the network and in the data center. Large companies such as McAffee, Kaspersky and Norton have successfully attracted large and small clients around the world. They keep a running tab on malicious software and quickly work to prevent them from damaging the hosts.

Corporate policy at virtually every large company in America instructs employees to keep their anti-virus software up to date. In fact, IT departments usually install and update these programs on the computers themselves. Without it, companies would be much more vulnerable.

Abtech Technologies provides a range of products and services to help IT businesses protect themselves. The company has helped large and small companies all the way to Fortune 500 firms to upgrade their defenses and protect themselves from hackers. For more information, please contact us.


Is Your IBM hardware reaching End Of Service (EOS) -IBM Support?

Is Your IBM hardware reaching End Of Service (EOS) -IBM Support?

It's that time of year again..... What time of year, you ask?

It is the time of year that you are receiving (or not receiving) notifications that IBM support and service will no longer be offered to you and your company on a range of products. This is hardly ever good news because it means you will have to do something about it, and whatever "it" is, is most likely going to cost money... 

IBM’s end of service life notifications for the models below

·         IBM P7

·         IBM S20

·         IBM JS21 blades

·         IBM RS/6000

·         IBM Power i5

·         IBM Flex

·         IBM P6

·         IBM Websphere

This happens twice a year. Effective EOS dates are usually April 30th and September 30th. Hopefully you do receive a notice that your software or equipment is reaching its EOS date. Usually they will give you a month or two to plan for it and give you two choices:

1. Upgrade to a newer version or release.  

2. Purchase a support extension

What they don't usually tell you is that there is a third option that is usually better for businesses like yours:

3. Use a third-party IBM support company

In most cases, 3rd party support is a good option. 3rd party IBM support providers, like Abtech Technologies, can provide high quality hardware maintenance to extend the life of IBM products. Abtech Technologies has a dedicated and experienced staff that is very knowledgeable about IBM products and offer best in class software management and support. Abtech Technologies also has a large inventory of replacement parts for IBM hardware. 




Preparing For Disaster in the Workplace


When you're in the workplace, one of the keys to having a successful business, is planning ahead at all times. For example, not only do you need to have a business goal for your company, but contingency plans are important as well. Nothing is ever set in stone, so you might need to make adjustments to your end plan. For example, what if your sales goal didn't end up as expected? This is why you should always be prepared.

With that said, while many companies do prepare for these unexpected events, they often don't take disasters into consideration. Planning for unexpected disasters, such as a power failure, is crucial for keeping your business safe, among other things. Speaking of which, how should businesses prepare for these incidents? After all, each disaster in the workplace can't be dealt with in the same way, and some require more drastic measures. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

#1. Educate Your Employees

It's one thing if you're prepared for disaster, but what about your employees? It's essential to remember that teamwork plays a key role in all this. What someone else does in the workplace, could have a major impact on the entire company, for better or worse. As an example, let's say you were familiar with the dangers of ransomware, and how to avoid it. Your employees, on the other hand, weren't knowledgeable. You had better teach them the basics, or they might end up making a careless mistake. Preparing for disaster isn't just about you, everyone in the business needs to know their part as well.

#2. Plan For Each Disaster

Initially, this might seem like a lot of work, but that's not necessarily the case. You don't need to create a plan for every disaster, but you should know how to handle each incident. As I had mentioned earlier, each disaster in the workplace can't be handled in the same way. As an example, let's make a comparison between a power failure and a natural disaster. For the former, all you'd have to do is make sure your info is backed up on a regular basis, particularly via cloud computing. A method that allows you to store your information virtually, even the most severe incidents would have no impact on your data. For the latter, however, it's a different case. Considering natural disasters could have an impact on your building, you need to have a plan that goes beyond storing your data. If there's a hurricane, are you moving your equipment to higher ground? Do you have another building to transfer your data to? These are some things to keep in mind.

#3. Cloud Computing

Of all the ways to prepare for disaster, cloud computing is easily the most effective. As I had mentioned before, this method allows you to store all data virtually, and it becomes accessible on any device with Internet connection. Whether you fall victim to ransomware, or end up spilling coffee on your keyboard, these disasters will have no effect on your virtually accessed info. Even more so, use cloud computing is also an exercise in keeping your data backed up on a regular basis. Many businesses are too laid back about their files, keeping everything on their desktop, and sometimes even backing everything up at the last-minute. Cloud computing is a smart decision, because it allows you to focus on other aspects of your business, without always having to worry about worst case scenarios.

For more information about preparing for disaster in the workplace, as well as the importance of disaster recovery as a service, feel free to contact us today at Abtech Technologies. We offer a range of security products that not only protect your sensitive information, but also assess compliance and overall security of your network. We look forward to hearing from you, and assisting you in the best way possible.

Dell EMC's Current Positioning and Product Portfolio

Dell's acquisition of EMC Corporation was the largest tech buyout in history. The primary focus of it was to position Dell as a leader in the emerging "Internet of Things" market, or smart connected devices ranging from household appliances to vehicles.

Dell EMC – Future Direction for Mid-Range Storage

Dell EMC – Future Direction for Mid-Range Storage

Dell and EMC became one company, Dell Technologies, on September 7th, 2016.  This made it the largest data center infrastructure supplier in the world.  It also brought together a wide range of different and in some cases, competing storage technologies.

What does this mean to current Dell and EMC storage customers and what does the future roadmap look like.  As a Dell and EMC partner, Abtech has been given first hand access to this information and our engineers have also given their viewpoint on which technology fits which application.

Unity and SC (Compellent) – The way forward.

Dell has been putting much more emphasis on its SC range of storage arrays recently. The SC4020 and the new SCv2000 range are both aimed squarely at the affordable end of the midmarket for block and file storage applications.  For larger environments, the new SC7000 and SC9000 platforms will scale in terms of both capacity and performance.

EMC has recently released its new Unity platform of unified storage.  Designed entirely from the ground up, Unity offers a solution for both block and file data in a single array platform that is easy to configure and manage.  Unity is best suited to customers with mixed block and file storage requirements and those that require maximum scalability (up to 10PB).

Here is an excerpt from the midrange storage presentation at DellEMC World, which shows how DellEMC is positioning the two platforms:

SC and Unity.png


The following table compares the maximum specs and features of the two platforms currently:

Legacy Dell EqualLogic Customers

The PS-Series platform is still available but Dell has made no secret that it is moving customers to the SC platform.  The SCv2000 and SC4020 series are priced competitively and offer future-proof options to replace legacy EqualLogic arrays. The SC interface is similar to the current PS (EqualLogic) series and replication between PS and SC is now available.  This makes migration and training less of an issue for existing Dell customers.  Dell has also introduced a number of discount programs through their channel partners to incentivize EqualLogic PS customers to upgrade to SC Series. 


Legacy PowerVault Storage Customers

As with the PS-series customers, PowerVault customers are encouraged to look at the entry level SC storage.  The PowerVault will continue to be made available and is still the platform of choice for low cost, but high performance, scalable storage.  However, the SC series will eventually take over this role and customers should consider this route to be completely future proofed. Channel only promotions are currently available on additional trays for PowerVault MD arrays including flash configurations. 


Legacy EMC VNX and VNXe Customers

The VNX and VNXe have been EMC’s mid-range platforms for several years. They offer a wide range of controllers options and both SAN and NAS capabilities.  However, EMC took the decision to completely re-engineer the platform to create Unity.  Like customers on the Dell side, legacy VNX and VNXe customers should consider the new Unity platform if they are looking to refresh their storage.   

Please call Abtech on 1-800-474-7397 for more details or email: info@abtechtechnologies.com