Fitness regime for your IT equipment: Keep it clean, cool, and empowered

IT (Information Technology) equipment is somewhat temperamental; it requires reasonable temperatures; stable, uninterrupted power; and some air flow to operate efficiently.  Cleanliness is important.  Here’s how to keep it toned.

IT equipment should be kept in a clean, neat, and (preferably) dust-adverse/static-resistant area; walls with painted surfaces, tiled or coated floors without carpeting, etc.  Fire-suppression equipment is a plus, but cannot be water-based.

Access should be restricted; a separate, locked room is ideal, but a closet with sufficient space and air flow can work for smaller sites.

Dust is the enemy of fans and electrical components; a reduced-dust environment and regular cleaning of equipment fans can lengthen the life of most items.  (Note: cleanings should be performed when equipment is powered-down, which is not always desirable or feasible.)

The area should have dedicated electrical circuits with sufficient amperage to match the power requirements of the equipment.  We also recommend an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for all critical items (and require them for equipment that we cover under our Comprehensive Support Program); the UPS provides emergency power when the input-power source is unavailable, but it also helps to regulate fluctuations in power, both spikes/surges (voltage overload) and brown-outs (reduction in voltage) that can damage sensitive equipment.

Cooling and humidity control are very important; most equipment runs optimally within a narrow range of temperature (64° to 81° Fahrenheit) and a maximum range of relative humidity of 60%.  HP, in an effort to be “greener”, lists current specifications on its DL360 server that provide a wider range of 50° to 90°F with 10% to 90% humidity (non-condensing).  However, cooler temperatures do make things last longer.  (The DL360 will actually throttle-back the CPU when the air-inlet sensors detect temperatures over 85°F.)

The area should have continuous air flow (to provide new, cool air while removing heated air that is exiting the equipment) and remain uncluttered to facilitate this air flow.  A dedicated A/C unit combined with a closed door is optimal; locating all equipment within a rack enclosure (with blanking panels over open areas) can enhance air flow.

TechAdvisory has 9 tips at http://techtimes.techadvisory.org/2011/11/9-steps-you-must-know-to-prevent-a-server-crash/.

How To Activate Hardware Encryption On iPhone 3GS And Later

iPhones from 3GS and later offer hardware encryption; it is activated through the data-protection feature by enabling a passcode:

1. Tap Settings > General > Passcode.

2. Follow the prompts to create a passcode.

3. After the passcode is set, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and verify that “Data protection is enabled” is visible.

You should also encrypt your backup for added security. Check the “encrypt local backup” in iTunes if you back up to your computer. If you back up to iCloud it is automatically encrypted, but be sure you have a really good iCloud passcode.

Bryley Systems sponsors Youth Basketball Team

The MetroWest/Hudson Boys and Girls Club has an annual tournament for young basketball players.  Bryley Systems sponsored one team for the upcoming “33rd Annual Little Lads and Lasses Basketball Tournament in 2014”.

Comparing Cloud-based services – Part 4: Prevention

Many Cloud-based services fall into one of these categories:

  • Productivity suites – Applications that help you be more productive
  • Storage – Storing, retrieving, and synchronizing files in the Cloud
  • Backup and Recovery – Backing-up data and being able to recover it
  • Prevention – Prevent malware, spam, and related components
  • Search – Find items from either a holistic or from a specialty perspective

In this issue, we’ll explore popular, Cloud-oriented options within Prevention, the highlighted item above, and compare them with one another.

Prevention is a necessary evil; it can slow end-point performance (since these tools are using computing resources to constantly scan for problems), but it is critical in keeping end-users safe from external threats like spam, malware, and viruses.  Cloud-oriented Prevention includes:

  • Email protection – Control spam plus encrypt and archive emails
  • End-point security – Secure end-user computers against attacks
  • Web filtering – Prevent unauthorized access to undesired websites

Email protection is wholly Cloud-based, but end-point security tools usually deploy an application onto the end-user computer while web filtering requires at least an adjustment to (ie: setup a proxy server), or an application installed on, the end-user computer.  We’ll cover only Cloud-based, email protection in this article.

Key issues for email-protection options include:

  • Administration – Easy setup and enforcement
  • Effectiveness – Works reliably and consistently
  • End-user interface – Intuitive, secure, and easy-to-use
  • Granularity – Allows multi-level policies and permissions

Popular, email-protection options (alphabetically) include:

  • Google Message Secure (formerly Postini; now bundled within Google Apps)
  • McAfee® (now Intel Security) SaaS Email Prevention and Continuity
  • Microsoft® Exchange Online Protection
  • ProofPointEssentials Business
  • Symantec Email Security.cloud (formerly MessageLabs)

Google Message Secure (GMS)

GMS was one of the best products at an excellent price of $12/user per year.  In 2013, Google discontinued GMS as a stand-alone service and bundled it within Google Apps.  Former GMS clients will retain the $12 pricing for a period of time, but will eventually pay the Google Apps for Business price of $50/user per year.

Visit http://www.google.com/postini/ for details on this transition.

McAfee SaaS Email Prevention and Continuity (MEPC)

Intel is currently rebranding McAfee within Intel Security; no timeframe on the conversion, but the McAfee logo (a red “M” on a shield) will remain associated with these services.

MEPC prevents spam, but also includes Continuity, which allows end-users to retrieve and send email even if their email service is unavailable; once the email service becomes available, all emails received and sent via MEPC are then resynchronized with the email service.  The price is $27/user per year.

McAfee also offers email encryption and email archiving.  (Please visit our site at http://www.Bryley.com/services/email-management/ for details on MEPC and related offerings.)

Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP)

Microsoft provides email protection and archiving within its Office 365 suite, but also offers it as a stand–alone service under EOP, although it is directed solely at Exchange-based email.  In addition to spam and malware prevention, you can establish content and policy-based filtering to ensure outbound emails do not violate company standards.  Price is $12/user per year.

Visit http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/microsoft-exchange-online-protection-email-filter-and-anti-spam-protection-email-security-email-spam-FX103763969.aspx for details on EOP.  Or, visit our site for information on

Office 365 at http://www.Bryley.com/office365/.

Proofpoint Essentials Business

Proofpoint Essentials Business is a comprehensive offering that classifies security threats and then manages against their intrusion.  Outbound filtering, content filtering, and 14-day spooling are included; archiving is also available.  Proofpoint Essentials Business starts at $26.40/user per year.

Please visit http://essentials.proofpoint.com/ for more information.

Symantec Email Security.cloud

Symantec recently acquired MessageLabs spam filter and rebranded it within their Symantec.cloud services under Email Security.cloud.  It protects against targeted attacks, malware, spam, and the like using proprietary Skeptic technologies.  Content filtering is included; email encryption is available.

See http://www.symantec.com/email-security-cloud for details.

Upcoming Event: Business Lawyers Network (BLN) February Meeting – Get into the Cloud!

John Koenig Focused on Business Succession

Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 7:30am

Topic: “Use Cloud Services to streamline your practice while protecting yourself from external threats”

Speaker: Gavin Livingstone, President, Bryley Systems

Place: Offices of Brier & Geurden LLP, 160 Gould Street, Ste. 320, Needham, MA (Map)

OVERVIEW

Everyone is talking about, or taking to the “Cloud.” You may be asking yourself, “what is the Cloud and how can I get some for myself?” Or you’re wondering “will I and my client data be safe in the Cloud?” In this program, you will learn the hows of the Clouds, including:

• How to compare popular Cloud services.
• How secure your systems from spyware, spam, and unauthorized access.
• How to ensure the integrity of your valuable data, whether inside your office or out in the Cloud.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

With over 30 years of experience in the computer and telecommunications industries, Gavin Livingstone has considerable knowledge of leading-edge technologies and business-productivity tools. In 1987, he founded Bryley Systems Inc., a computer-networking and maintenance firm, and has successfully steered Bryley Systems to its current size of 12 employees with over 200 clients in eastern and central Massachusetts. Mr. Livingstone is a Novell Master Certified Netware Engineer (v5), a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (v3.51), and a Boston College MBA.