5 Tips on Protecting Your Business from a DDoS Attack

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An escalating number of businesses are falling victim to distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks. Compared to this period last year, there has been an 47% increase in the total number of DDoS strikes. The companies that take advantage of their attack experience by learning from it and educating their employees on cyber security go a long way. Getting hit by a DDoS attack can help uncover some vulnerabilities or mistakes that your IT department may not have previously been aware of. Combining your experiences with these 5 tips on protecting your business from a DDoS attack is the best way to help prevent future incidents.

  1. Conduct an Assessment: Review your company’s current state of network security – whether you’ve experienced problems in the past or not. This will give you a sense of where your weak points are and allow you to reinforce them.
  2. Know your Network: Reducing the cost and impact of an attack starts with early detection. The better you know your network, the easier it is for you to identify a problem. Having an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each network component will also give you a better understanding of what kind of assaults you can protect yourself from (such as a small attack originating from a single IP address) and if you need to outsource to help fill any security holes.
  3. Implement General Rules to Help Mitigate Attacks: Some general rules to help defend against a DDoS attack include turning down all unnecessary ports and protocols, implement an IP blacklist, block invalid and malformed packets, and configure and harden network equipment.
  4. Communicate with your ISP: In some instances, an attack can be so big that it completely saturates your bandwidth, making any other preventative tactics ineffective. Be sure to learn the procedures for getting your ISP to intervene if necessary. Work with your ISP to plan and practice for any possible large-scale attacks, and be sure to examine your Service Level Agreement (SLA) to learn your ISP’s options for defending against DDoS assaults.
  5. Create an Action Plan: In the unfortunate even that your company suffers an attack, having an action plan in place can help you stay in control – because once an attack is occurring, it’s too late to decide what action to take and how to respond. Be sure to structure your plan by severity level, since your responder actions will vary depending on the impact of the attack.

DDoS attacks can happen to any business at any moment. It’s naive to think that your website is too small to attract the attention of hackers, especially since DDoS is a relatively easy attack to perform. Reducing the cost of an attack starts with preparation and early detection.

Click here to learn more about how to protect your company from cyber attacks.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – What is a Firewall?

Typically, a firewall is one of those items that you don’t necessarily think of until something goes wrong. It’s always there in background, protecting your computer from viruses and other outside threats. The term “firewall” is actually an general term used to describe a specialized defence system for a computer network.

The term actually originated in construction, where specialized fire-prevention systems involve fire-resistant walls being placed strategically in buildings or automobiles to slow the speed at which a fire spreads. When using the term firewall in reference to computers, it describes the hardware and software that slows down the invasion of a computer system by blocking viruses and hackers.

Firewall

A computer firewall can take hundreds of different shapes, from specialized software programs, to specialized physical hardware devices, to a combination of both. At the end of the day, it’s priority is to block unauthorized or unwanted traffic from getting into your computer system. The firewall is located at a network gateway, which is the point of access.

So how does it work? Basically, your firewall will examine each network packet to determine whether or not to forward it on to its destination. Some other screening methods used by firewalls include screening requests to make sure they come from an acceptable or previously identified domain name and IP address. Other features can include logging and reporting, automatic alarms, and a graphical user interface for controlling the firewall.

For business, having a reliable firewall in place can dramatically reduce the threats that can result in costly data loss, breaches, and down time. Many companies also have customer information on file, so it’s imperative to have the proper security measures in place. Losing private customer information is inexcusable, and would likely result in a domino effect of lost customers. Once they learn their information isn’t being properly protected, it’s unlikely your company will retain their business.

To learn more about why your company needs a firewall, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

 

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – What is Virtualization?

The term “virtualization” has been generating some buzz in the technology community as IT professionals look for ways to maximize their resources. But what exactly is virtualization? And how can it benefit your business? This blog post breaks down the history and functionality of virtualization.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization refers to the technologies designed to provide a layer of abstraction between computer hardware systems and the software running on them.  Since virtualization provides a logical view of computing resources instead of a physical view, it provides you with the capability to trick your operating systems into thinking that a group of servers is a single pool of computing resources. Virtualization also allows for you to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on a single machine.

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At its roots, virtualization is essentially partitioning, which divides a single physical server into multiple logical servers. Once the physical server has been divided, each logical server can run an operating system and applications independently.

Historically, virtualization has been around for several years. It was first used in the 1960’s as a way to partition large mainframe hardware. Back then, engineers faced the same problems that are faced today, such as too many underutilized servers. The team at IBM pioneered virtualization by providing the capability for engineers to partition mainframes, allowing tasks to multitask.

After the popularity of virtualization faded for a long period of time, it experienced a rebirth in the 1990s. Server virtualization on the Intel based x86 platform was invented in the 90s primarily by VMware. Since then, many other companies have entered into the x86 hardware and software virtualization market, but it was VMware that developed the first hypervisor for the x86 architecture, planting the seeds for the recent virtualization boom.

So what exactly is x86? It’s the generic name for Intel processors released after the original 8086 processor. The “x” in x86 stands for a range of possible numbers. If a computer’s technical specifications state that it’s based on the x86 architecture, it means that it uses an Intel processor, not AMD or PowerPC.

One of the aspects driving the increased popularity of virtualization is the shrinking availability of data center space. Many companies are also using virtualization as a money-saving initiative. By reducing the numbers and types of servers that support business applications, companies are looking at a significant cost savings.

Next week, we will discuss the benefits and features of virtualization.

To learn more about data center options, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

Top 5 Benefits of Using a Data Centre for Business

More and more businesses are starting to recognize the benefits of colocation. By relocating their mission critical information and equipment to a data center, they can save time and money. Colocation data centers provide solutions to companies of any size, whether you only need 1U of space or if you need a whole cage. No matter how much space your business requires, your company will greatly benefit from the services offered by colocation data centers. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top five advantages of colocation for business.

1. Physical Security: Data center facilities are equipped with multiple onsite security measures. This typically includes closed-circuit television (CCTV), 24/7 monitoring systems, and security personnel. Additionally, many data centers employ biometric security measures and pass cards for those who need to enter the premise.

2. Connectivity: A majority of data centers have fully redundant network connections to ensure that their customers’ business critical applications are uninterrupted.

3. Network Security: Colocation data centers have extensive network security measures, including the latest and greatest firewalls/IDS systems to detect and prevent any unauthorized access to customer data.

4. Redundant Power Supply: Data center facilities employ a combination of multiple power grids, generators, and battery systems in order to ensure that there is a constant source of power. Many centers also have an extensive maintenance process in place to ensure each power source is operating at optimal levels.

5. Customization: Colocation facilities offer a great deal of flexibility in terms of the amount of bandwidth or space your company needs. If your business needs to increase its bandwidth levels, or burst up to a higher bandwidth level, data centers can easily accommodate the increased activity. Additionally, if your company needs more space to store its data, you can easily upgrade your service to meet your storage requirements.

In summary, any business that stores its data offsite at a colocation facility stands to gain considerably from the greater security and performance levels provided without incurring any significant costs. Data center locations are equipped with resilient power and cooling systems, in addition to the high level of security that ensures its customer’s data and IT infrastructure is operating 24/7.

To learn more about data centers, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – How Fibre Works

Businesses are on the lookout for technologies that are capable of providing a high speed Internet connection. The faster the connection, the faster a company’s employees can work, and as we’re all aware – time is money. Having the capability to perform at optimal efficiency levels is essential for businesses, and high speed Internet provides companies with the capability to conduct their Internet based operations at an increased rate. Fibre is one of the ways in which businesses can obtain a high speed connection, but how does fibre actually work? What makes it so fast? And if it’s so great – why doesn’t every company have a fibre Internet connection?

Fibre, or fibre optic, uses pulses of light to create an electromagnetic carrier wave that can be used to send data at very high speeds. Instead of using copper cables to transmit, fibre optics uses a medium called “fibre” to do the exact same thing with light. The light travels through the fibre-optic strands of optically pure lines to reach their destination. To break this process down into steps:

·         The optical signal is created by a transmitter

·         The signal then travels along the fibre optic cable

·         Once the signal is received, it is turned into an electrical signal that passes through to the receiver’s device

Fibre is capable of transmitting data at high speeds because it has a higher frequency range. When data is transferred over a wire line service, the throughput of data is determined by the frequency range that a cable will carry. The higher the frequency range the greater the bandwidth – and the more data that can be put through per unit time. In comparison to copper lines, fibre technology is far less susceptible to noise and electromagnetic interference. For example, if you were to transmit data over 300 kilometers on a fibre line the signal wouldn’t experience any real loss of quality, while a copper line typically suffers a great deal of degradation over such a long distance.

Although fibre is capable of transmitting data over a vast distance without compromising quality, businesses are still looking to other technologies to support any long haul data transfers. This is because laying a fibre line from Toronto to Vancouver, for example, can be quite costly and time consuming. Many companies choose to utilize other methods, such as fixed wireless radio technology, to send their data over greater distances. Adopting a hybrid model, such as fibre and fixed wireless, can be very efficient and save on costs. 

To learn more about high speed internet, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – WAN and LAN Networks

In our previous blog, The Technology behind Telecommuting, we discussed the functionality of a virtual private network (VPN) and its ability to connect remote employees to the corporate network. But what if you have remote office locations that need to be connected? A VPN isn’t the ideal tool for linking office locations together because it uses the public internet to operate, resulting in considerable slowdowns as each packet is encrypted.

Additionally, switching to an internet based VPN will force your business to use the local providers in each location, which can cause headaches when problems occur. A local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN) provides businesses with the capability to connect their offices across a variety of distances through a single provider.

What is a LAN?

A local area network (LAN) is one of the most widely deployed types of network. It supplies network capability to a group of computers, or associated devices, that are in close proximity to each other (for example, in an office building). By establishing this type of network connection, computers on it can share files, resources, and even an internet connection, if they desire.

A LAN can be either wireless or wired. If the LAN is wired, an Ethernet cable is required to physically connect each computer on the network. If it is wireless, radios are used to provide communication between each device on your company’s LAN. Wireless LANs (WLANs) can also be cheaper to install and maintain in comparison to Ethernet.

What is a WAN?

A wide area network (WAN) is a geographically dispersed network. It is not limited to a building or specific vicinity. The best example of a WAN is the Internet, although the Internet would be considered a public WAN, while companies typically use a private WAN to connect their offices. A private WAN is essentially two or more LANs connected to each other. For example, a company with LANs set up at each of their offices in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal can connect all three LANs with a WAN – therefore allowing all three LANS to communicate with each other.

A WAN connection can be established in a variety of ways, including the use of leased lines, circuit switch network, packet switching, frame or packet relay, and cell relays. The most common method is packet switching, which creates a digital network. However, many businesses that require a WAN use an Internet Service Provider (ISP) because they are easily able to provide a reliable, secure connection.

WAN and LAN connections provide businesses with the capability to centralize their data and resources, increasing productivity. Additionally, it allows for businesses to provide the most recent and up to date data, ensuring that all employees are working with the latest resources. It also establishes a secure connection between each office or branch location, allowing for the safe distribution of private company information.

To learn about TeraGo Network’s WAN technology, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

TeraGo Networks Presents: Back to Basics – How much Bandwidth?

Following our posts about choosing the right Internet Service Provider (ISP) and internet technology for your business, many of you had a follow up question; How do I know how much bandwidth my business needs? This is a great question because if you get too much bandwidth, then you end up paying for more than you need. If you get too little, your employee’s productivity can suffer, which can impact your company’s bottom line.

Although it’s a fairly straight forward question, the answer is somewhat complicated because every business has different needs. Also, those needs can be subject to change, depending on a multitude of variables. For example, if your business is seasonal, then you will require more bandwidth during the peak season and less during the off season. Other variables may include employee size, office location, or how your team uses the connection. If your employees are sending hundreds of emails each day, uploading a great deal of content, or video conferencing, then your business will need a high amount of bandwidth. If your employees are only sending a handful of emails each day, then your business won’t require as much bandwidth.

Regardless of which category your company falls in to, it is critical that you find an ISP that is able to scale your bandwidth quickly and easily to match expanding business needs. However, there is a way to calculate the bandwidth needs of your business to give you an idea of what you should be asking for. First, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is VoIP (voice over internet protocol) used, and how many users are on it?
  • How much email is being sent and received per day, per user?
  • Is cloud email (like Google Apps) being used?
  • Are other cloud services, like Salesforce or Quickbooks Online, being used?
  • Are users frequently streaming media?
  • Are any public facing web servers hosted internally?
  • Are social media sites open for usage? Or are they banned?

Once you have taken the above questions into consideration, you will need to categorize your employees into three types of users, light, medium, and heavy, based on the estimated amount of Kilobits per second (Kbps) they consume.

  • Light User: 50Kbps
  • Medium User: 80Kbps
  • Heavy User: 120Kbps

It is likely that the amount each user consumes will vary, depending on their responsibilities. For example, a company comprised of 20 employees may have 5 heavy users, 5 medium users, and 10 light users. Based on that information, we would use the following formula to calculate the company’s estimated bandwidth needs.

N x T = BN (Number of users x Traffic estimate based on usage weight – Bandwidth Needed)

Using the 20 employee example above, our calculation would be:

  • 5 heavy users x 120Kbps = 600Kbps
  • 5 medium users x 80Kbps = 400Kbps
  • 10 light users x 50Kbps = 500Kbps
  • Add all user totals together: 600+400+500 = 1500Kbps (or 1.5Mbps)

However, it is important to take into account that this calculation is only meant to estimate the basic user bandwidth requirements. There are several variables, as previously mentioned above, that can impact your bandwidth amounts. This calculation is simply meant to give you an idea of the minimum bandwidth your business requires so you can make an educated decision when setting up your internet.

To learn more about the variety of bandwidth amounts available, click here.

Blog Author: Vanessa Hartung

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