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A number of incidents have raised awareness of the threat posed by distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks over the last few months, not least of which the Spamhaus attacks that have made international news. However, if you get in touch with many industry leaders for cyber-security, for example, those in charge of protecting banks, they will be very quiet.
The reason for this is because they do not want to discuss any aspect of the defence programs and hosting solutions that they fear may give hackers a clue to how to disrupt their online presence.
Yet the number of attacks on large, high profile companies has increased hugely over the last few years – inspired by hackivists, people who believe that online disruption serves a greater cause. They have attacked institutions such as Capital One, Wells Fargo and Citibank, to name just a few.
Usually banks and large financial institutions have defences in place to cope with a DDOS attack and disruption to services can be kept to a minimum, but outside of the financial sector most industries and especially small- and medium-sized companies do not have adequate defences in place.
Rich Bolstridge, Chief Strategist of Financial Services at Akamai Technologies, says: “We don’t want to see this level of attacks cross over into healthcare and other industry segments. They’re not as well equipped because they don’t necessarily consider themselves a target. It’d be some good news if others looked at this as a wake-up call and took a good assessment of their risk.”
One of the best ways to ensure you are protected is to communicate with other businesses to find out what they are doing to combat the threat of DDOS and other online threats. By pooling knowledge you can keep ahead of the ever-evolving threat. For most businesses this means ensuring that you are using a security aware web host.
However you deal with the threat it is vital that you have a response plan and that you are not totally dependent on perimeter defences such as firewalls.
The risk of a DDOS attack is a threat to all businesses, especially those where an online presence is mission critical, and that is why it is important to have a good web hosting solution.
If you are in any doubt about your dedicated server or you are considering cloud hosting for your business then you should contact CWCS who have been at the leading edge of hosting services for over 15 years.
A large number of businesses are today switching to cloud hosting in order to better meet the needs of their business, with shared hosting rapidly starting to become just too limited for a lot of companies. On the flipside of that, dedicated servers are very expensive and no business wants to have to keep on paying for resources that they do not currently require. Unlike with dedicated and shared web hosting, however, the cloud hosting model is able to offer all of the resources businesses need at much more flexible rates.
One very interesting fact is that the great majority of cloud hosting plans are now able to actually compete with the price of shared hosting, something that enables the offering of alternative solutions to businesses. Cloud hosting is able to offer very flexible costs, scalability and superb self-service, while assisting your business to become a lot more reliable in the digital space. There are four basic kinds of cloud hosting for businesses to contemplate, depending on where the connected servers are located. These types are public or external clouds, private clouds, hybrid clouds and community clouds.
A public or external cloud is one that is offered to users who have no need to control their technology infrastructure. Public or external cloud hosting is available as an internet service to small businesses and individuals that have limited hosting requirements but nonetheless would prefer to use the cloud rather than other solutions. A private cloud is a kind of cloud that is perfect for businesses and organisations that are unwilling to share their resources. Computing architecture is given to a specific organisation, as opposed to public clouds where the same architecture is shared by several organisations. Private clouds offer more security but are more expensive.
A hybrid cloud is a kind of cloud that became necessary thanks to security issues that surround public cloud hosting. Big companies use it in order to integrate the very best hosting solutions, which are available as private and public clouds and can be combined to offer a more reliable solution.
A community cloud is another type of cloud, which is used to offset the high cost of private cloud hosting as well as to avoid the threat to security posed by public cloud hosting. In community clouds, a number of organisations, such as government bodies, come together in order to share the one cloud infrastructure.
Unacceptable service conditions by providers and concerns about international laws, such as the US Patriot Act, may be holding cloud hosting services back.
Cloud computing is widely seen as the future for service providers and hosting services throughout the IT world and at a time when all vendors and service providers should be doing everything in their power to convince their customers about the attractions and benefits of cloud computing it seems many are instead driving customers away with their terms of service.
Among the terms that are put into the contracts are non-commitment on service uptime, limited liability on behalf of the service provider in instances of their failure, and the right to data mine any information you store on their servers. Conditions such as these have been described as “silly” and “off putting” by industry experts.
Another more than valid concern for many people thinking about taking up cloud services is the United States Patriot Act. Under the Patriot Act the US government is entitled to access information held by any American company, regardless of whether the company is trading in the United States or if the information itself is stored within the United States. Furthermore, the company is barred by statute from informing their clients that private information has been accessed, so the customer may never know.
A final annoyance of potential cloud clients is the ability to audit. Some providers do not allow you to perform audits to ensure that the information is being stored in a way that meets regulations and follows best practice. In an era when information security is becoming of increasing importance customers are not happy if they cannot ensure that their information is being stored as securely as possible.
As people and companies become more familiar with the cloud some of these difficulties may go away, but the first step is for cloud service providers and cloud hosts to recognise and accept that their customers have specific and valid requirements around the areas of data protection and compliance and that delaying putting clauses in your SLAs will prevent customers from trusting the cloud.
If you are in any doubts about your server or you are considering cloud hosting for your business then you should contact CWCS who are a UK company operating on the leading edge of hosting services and whose service agreement includes a 100% uptime commitment.
The University College London (UCL) has taken the decision to build both a data storage and private cloud infrastructure in order to house research.
UCL has made the decision due to the ever-growing archive of research it maintains, which currently holds the work of over 3,000 UCL researchers and their collaborators. The new facility will initially have a 600 terabyte capacity, but the capacity will be increased over the coming years to keep it ahead of the storage requirements.
With research data being raw and unprocessed it is important that it is stored in a manner that allows researchers easy access, and the digital revolution has seen data storage move from paper resources, through 3.5” disks, videos, CDs and onto localised hard drives. With the diversity of mediums that the data is stored on there is a concern that some of the mediums could become extinct, risking the loss of the data for future researchers.
Project leader Dr J Max Wilkinson, the head of research data services at UCL, had this to say: “The research data that is generated here is a valuable asset ….and we see it as our responsibility in supporting our researchers in managing these data. One of the reasons for choosing to build a private cloud was due to the type of data being produced.”
“Research data is raw, it is unstructured, it passes across all domains and format types, it can be unpredictable and it can belong to virtually any field of study,” he added.
The 600 terabyte data capacity is anticipated to be more than sufficient for the short term, but UCL is aware that history is littered with IT projects where the final capacity has been more than was thought to be needed and that these projects are now not fit for purpose. In order to avoid this situation it has chosen a delivery platform for its private cloud infrastructure that is scalable, allowing UCL to make additions to the data capacity easily, as and when required.
CWCS offers public, private and specialist hybrid cloud hosting solutions to ensure that it can always meet customers’ requirements. In addition to that CWCS can offer a guarantee of 100% server uptime.
If you are in any doubts about your cloud hosting service or you are looking to move to the cloud from a traditional host then you should contact CWCS.
When you started your business you probably did not consider your online presence (unless your business requires the internet), but with more businesses and more customers moving onto the internet it is becoming increasingly important for you to have an effective and efficient online presence.
Most companies, when they finally take the plunge to go online, will spend a lot of money on getting the appearance of their website right, or making their e-commerce site easy to use. Both of these are important aspects, to be sure, but what can really make or break your business is the web hosting service.
Making a poor choice in web host, or just going straight for the cheapest option without checking out what they offer, can have a catastrophic effect on your brand. Even worse, it can eradicate your bottom-line, leaving you not only with a damaged reputation but also out of pocket.
It is understandable that most people focus on the look and the usability of the website, it is something tangible. The website is something you can see, experience and interact with. But without a web hosting service there is no website. The hosting service is where the website lives, and it is only through an active hosting service that people can visit your site.
The first thing you should look for when looking for a web host is the service level agreement (SLA). It is here that the host will outline the conditions of the service, including, perhaps most importantly, the amount of downtime they feel is acceptable. Each provider will have different levels and different commitments in terms of how they will get the website back online and how they will compensate you if it is not working.
Given that if your website is offline you lose that income stream, and for many companies it may be the primary income stream, you should be looking for a 100% SLA, or the nearest that is possible.
Providers can host your site in different ways, such as dedicated hosting, shared hosting and cloud hosting. Each has different pros and cons, and you should make sure your host explains all of these to you and can tailor your hosting service to meet your needs and your concerns.
If you want to be sure to get a top professional hosting service, whether shared, dedicated or even located on the cloud, you should contact CWCS who have been at the leading edge of hosting services for over 15 years.
Most businesses need a server of one kind or another in order to operate.
You may feel you do not need access to your own server, or a shared server, but you are probably wrong. Even if you think your business does not need the internet, you almost certainly have to use e-mail – and e-mail has to be housed on a server somewhere.
A recent report by the Radaci group suggested that there are currently over 929 million business mailboxes in use. Most of those are still housed on in-house servers.
Running your own exchange server can be a pain as you have to deal with any errors: POP configurations, SMTP and IMAP issues are all your own problem. More companies are already moving these parts of their hosting to the cloud through cloud hosting suppliers.
Yet, there is no reason to stop there. A lot of those businesses still run their own dedicated servers. There is nothing wrong with this. Both dedicated Linux and Windows servers can play a very important part of any business and they still have advantages in some areas over the cloud, but dedicated cloud hosting has now become a reality too.
The cloud offers the advantage that you never need to have engineers messing around in your offices (or you can do it yourself if you are suitably qualified), you do not need to worry that you will get significant downtime if your server breaks down and new security upgrades mean you can be confident that you service is secure.
With cloud servers you will get a minimum service agreement, and your cloud host will be able to ensure you get up to 100% coverage by shifting the workload over various servers, so if one goes down it is backed up on another server that is operated by your hosting provider.
Another advantage is that server upgrades and maintenance are all handled by your hosts and should not result in any downtime to you. In fact, you may not even notice when they are running these tasks. Your own onsite servers may run efficiently, but that will not stop them from requiring a major overhaul every few years.
If you are in any doubts about your dedicated server or you are considering cloud hosting for your business then you should contact CWCS, who have been at the leading edge of hosting services for over 15 years.
A new report by the Anti-Phishing Work Group (APWG) suggests that nearly half of all the phishing attacks in 2012 involved shared web hosting services.
The most common form of attack sees hackers break into a shared hosting server and reconfigure the programming so they display pages from a subdirectory of all the websites that are hosted on the server. With each shared server being potentially capable of hosting thousands of websites, it is a rich source of traffic for the phishing sites.
The technique is not a new one, but it has been on the rise in recent years and APWG reported that 14,000 phishing attacks were detected sitting on 61 different servers during August alone.
In total they detected at least 123,486 unique phishing attacks during the second half of 2012 from 83,913 different domain names. Almost all of these attacks resulted from compromised web hosting services.
APWG said: “Of the 89,748 phishing domains, we identified 5,835 domain names that we believe were registered maliciously, by phishers. The other 83,913 domains were almost all hacked or compromised on vulnerable Web hosting. These attacks highlight the vulnerability of hosting providers and software, exploit weak password management, and provide plenty of reason to worry.”
Phishing is not the only kind of security threat to a web hosting service. One example of other threats is Distributed Denial of Service Attacks. During the later part of 2012 a group emerged that has been specifically compromising websites purely to launch DDoS attacks that specifically target United States financial institutions.
Another mass attack, called Darkleech, allowed attackers to gain access to thousands of Apache Web Servers. They then installed backdoors in them through the SSH systems. Experts still don’t know how the hackers managed to obtain the initial access to the servers. It has been suggested that a weakness in a major service provider such as Wordpress, Plesk, cpanel or webmin may be at fault for providing possible entry points.
Whatever the access point in the Darkleech attack, it is clear that businesses should be looking to ensure they have secure web hosting services.
If you are in any doubts about your web hosting, you are looking at getting a dedicated server or you are considering cloud hosting for your business, then you should contact CWCS, who have been at the leading edge of hosting services for over 15 years.
Police in Spain have arrested a man linked to the Spamhaus DDOS attack that took place in March.
The name of the arrested man has not been released, but police have released the initials – S. K. He travelled across Spain in a mobile computer lab equipped with antennae for scanning frequencies and was capable of hacking into networks anywhere across Spain. It has been confirmed that the man is Dutch, and hails from the Alkmaar. He is expected to be extradited back to Holland within ten days, and he will face the Dutch justice system.
The suspect was arrested over a week ago and was questioned over the weekend in Madrid by the National Court. He identified himself as a diplomat representing the “Telecommunications and Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Republic of Cyberbunker.”
The case looking into the Spamhaus attacks included police and investigators from Britain, Spain, Holland, Germany and the United States. It was one of the largest and most thorough investigations in the brief history of the internet.
A DDOS attack takes place when a huge amount of traffic is aimed at a server, usually from a variety of sources that may include coming from bots installed into infected computers.
Dutch police alerted the Spanish authorities that a large scale DDOS attack was originating in Spain and was causing disruption to servers across Switzerland, the United States and Britain.
Spamhaus was targeted for the denial-of-service attack after several servers were blacklisted for sending out spam attacks. Spamhaus is a British-Swiss collaboration that is intended to combat spam on the internet. Spam usually takes the form of e-mails, such as those seen for bogus Viagra or weight loss products.
A high profile DDOS attack last year caused severe disruption to American banking. That attack ran at the usual rate for a high level DDOS attack on a server that will run at 100 billion bits per second. The attack on Spamhaus peaked at over three times that figure, but due to good server management and security features the Spamhaus server did not succumb to the attack.
The attack on Spamhaus, and its subsequent defence, demonstrates why it is important to have a good web hosting solution.
If you are in any doubts about your dedicated server or you are considering cloud hosting for your business then you should contact CWCS who have been at the leading edge of hosting services for over 15 years.
The trend over the last two years for the increase in use of Linux servers looks to be continuing into a third year.
While overall server revenue growth is running at a steady 3.1% Linux is performing at a very healthy revenue growth of 12.7%. When taking into account some of the main revenues in the fourth quarter of 2012 year-over-year, you see Windows servers’ revenue growths staying at 3.2%, while Unix fell by a disastrous 24.1%.
These are the figures that were released by the Linux Foundation in partnership with the Yeoman Technology Group in their 2013 Enterprise End User Report. The report focused heavily on Linux adoption and the figures are very encouraging for Linux.
The survey focuses on companies with a turnover in excess of $500 million or over 500 employees.
Anne Macpherson, the Linux Foundation Vice-President of Marketing and Developer Services had this to say: “We see the growing success of Linux adoption in the enterprise, especially as it’s used for the most important areas of business, leading to the rise of Linux and collaborative development across many industries.”
Linux servers seem to be particularly dominant in the fast growing trend to move towards cloud computing. Seventy-six percent of those surveyed are already using Linux for cloud servers and 74% are planning to maintain or increase the use of Linux servers for any new cloud initiatives they have planned.
The dominance in the field of cloud computing is helping the future look particularly rosy for Linux users. Driven by this cloud dominance the use of Linux for mission critical servers has increased to an impressive 73%.
On the back of all of these impressive results, perhaps the best news for Linux is that a huge 80% of those surveyed indicated that they are planning in investing on increasing their Linux server capacity over the next five years or so.
This drive towards Linux seems set to continue for the foreseeable future with 95% of managers in corporations believing Linux to be either equal or more important to their company’s strategies compared to that in previous years.
If you are in any doubts about your server or you are considering Linux hosting for your business then you should contact CWCS, who have been at the leading edge of hosting services for many years.
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Sales of Windows operating systems have been declining for a while, and the latest figures show that sales of both Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT have been disappointing. 39% of PCs are still using XP and despite Microsoft planning to stop user support for XP in April 2014, many users are deciding not to upgrade to the newer operating systems.
The last 12 months have also seen sales of tablets increase by over 40%. The decline in sales of desktop operating systems coupled with the increase in tablet sales points towards a market that is increasingly moving towards mobile computing.
The death of the PC as we know it is approaching. This is not the death of the computer, however, as tablets and even smartphones are still computers and many of them are more powerful than many desktop computers from a while ago. Even the workplace – traditionally a stronghold for Microsoft – is seeing a decline, as more companies are operating Bring Your Own Device schemes.
Given that Windows Server products are needed to run systems such as SharePoint and Microsoft SQL Server, it is unlikely that the near future is going to see a mass migration of users
towards Linux or other operating systems; however, cloud offers an alternative that allows companies to have servers that are accessible from multiple devices and that will run Windows servers and other programmes that require Windows.
Cloud hosting servers have got off to a shaky start, particularly with regard to security and downtime issues; however, as the technology has become more reliable and secure, it is increasingly becoming a viable option as a replacement for a traditional server. More companies
and users will be using cloud-based hosting and software solutions.
The end of Windows XP support on 8th April next year will create new security liabilities for XP users and it is fairly safe to assume that more people will turn from their PCs towards tablets once they realise that XP is no longer secure. Cloud servers allow the possibility of using newer mobile technologies while still using the software solutions that Microsoft has traditionally offered to Windows users.
If you are in any doubts about your server or you are considering cloud hosting for your business, you should contact CWCS. Along with its excellent reputation, CWCS can offer 15+ years experience in hosting services.