Jun 24 2011

IT Security vs. Social Engineering – BizTech Quick Take

BizTech Quick Take is our weekly digital tour of the web, serving up news and notes on IT and business that you need to know — and some things you’ll simply be glad to know.

Social Engineering Is the Achilles Heel of IT Security

When it comes to keeping valuable IT hardware and software safe, sometimes technology’s worst enemy is the user. After all, even the most reliable and powerful antimalware solutions can’t stop users from installing something harmful on their computers if they think that what they’re installing is worthwhile.

In a June 17 post with an accompanying video, Cisco’s Jason Lackey explains how hackers and other IT baddies use social engineering to trick their victims into sabotaging themselves. Lackey, a product/systems marketing manager for CMO EMM Security Solutions, writes, in part:

Social Engineering is the practice of using guile, deception and misdirection to cause a victim to take action to help facilitate or enable an exploit, and is thus the only hacking technique that predates information technology. It is also one of the biggest threats we face in the industry today.

Read the full post on Cisco’s Security blog.

A New Approach to SharePoint Staffing

IT staffing can be a challenge when the scope of a project is fluid and complexities are hard to pin down. For example, many organizations have struggled to determine just how many systems administrators to hire to run and maintain a SharePoint deployment.

But Craig Roth, a managing vice president and service director for Gartner Research, challenges IT leaders to take a different approach. Rather than thinking about how many sysadmins you’ll need to handle a certain complexity, think about how complex your deployment of SharePoint can be given the IT staff you currently have:

Here’s what it would look like: If you are deploying SharePoint to 12,000 users and have a team of 4 sysadmin types, you can now design the service and service levels you’ll provide.

You can provide social software but clearly can’t moderate or approve profile entries with that staffing. You can provide a master page and maybe a few templates, but without a developer you won’t be providing consulting support for custom development. And without a library science-type person, you probably won’t have a managed taxonomy or rich metadata definitions.

Being clear up front about what your service will and will not offer should make everyone happier.

For more on SharePoint staffing, check out Roth’s June 21 post on the Gartner blog.

New Criteria for High-Performance Computing

High-performance computing is not only going mainstream, it’s also evolving, as the criteria for what’s considered HPC shifts.

If you’ve been following the way the technology is being used, this change makes sense. Users now expect nearly 24x7 uptime, blazingly fast data speeds and storage space that’s the cyber equivalent of the Grand Canyon.

Ingo Fuchs, a senior product marketing manager at NetApp, distills this new criteria down to five things:

  • Density, either in terms of performance or capacity that can be accomplished per data center floor tile;
  • Higher and higher performance requirements from ever-growing, data-intensive workloads;
  • Capacity, with the goal of processing as much data as possible;
  • Power, cooling and weight, where the best storage system can’t win if it doesn’t fit the data center specs;
  • Uncompromised uptime, delivering predictable performance, density and availability.

Read the full story on NetApp’s Big Data Bingo blog.

Unlike Superheroes, Supercomputers Really Do Exist

The latest update to the TOP500 List of the world’s supercomputers was released this week. The K Computer project in Japan, which is currently in the configuration stages, occupies the top spot, bumping the former champ, the Tianhe-1A in Tianjin, China, to No. 2.

The K supercomputer system, built by Fujitsu, will feature 68,544 SPARC 64-bit CPUs deployed across 672 computer racks and will have a power consumption of 9.89 megawatts.

Data Center Knowledge assembled an illustrated list of the top 10 supercomputers, which includes the Jaguar at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Cielo at the Los Alamos National Lab.

Read the full top 10 list on Data Center Knowledge.

When Compliance Isn’t Good Enough

When it comes to IT security, many small and medium-size businesses make the mistake of ensuring only that their systems are compliant for audits. But compliance doesn’t equal better security.

Cindy Valladares, compliance solutions manager for Tripwire, recently interviewed Mike Dahn, director of risk and compliance at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Josh Corman, research director for The 451 Group’s enterprise security practice, on the topic. In the video below, they emphasize that IT security is an ongoing mission, not an annual inspection to pass.

Read more about compliance and security on the Tripwire blog.


Storage requirements vary from organization to organization and industry to industry, but the needs of a midtier organization and those of a large-scale enterprise tend to be fairly distinct.

In a June 22 blog post, Chuck Hollis, vice president and global marketing chief technology officer for EMC, compares and contrasts the company’s Symmetrix VMAX network storage solution, which is meant for large enterprises, with its VNX Series, which is better suited to midtier companies.

In his view, storage decisions hinge more on how IT is organized to complete its tasks, rather than on the size of the company or the price of the storage solution.

Read Hollis’ overview of the product families at Chuck’s Blog.

Equipping Your Teleworkers with the Right Tools

With the number of teleworkers on the rise, more businesses are making it possible for their employees to work remotely, at least part of the time. But what does a teleworker need that an onsite worker doesn’t?

Toshiba’s Telecom blog lists a few key items for teleworking duties:

  • All telecommuters will benefit from IP phones, such as Toshiba Strata IP 5000-series telephones or SoftIPT soft phones, for cost-effective remote connectivity over IP connections.
  • Most, if not all, telecommuters will need a laptop or desktop computer … to use office applications such as word processing, spreadsheets and e-mail.
  • All telecommuters will need a broadband Internet connection to connect to the office and beyond for e-mail, file sharing, text messaging, Voice over IP (VoIP), video conferencing and web access.
  • Telecommuters whose work relies heavily on meetings should also be equipped for audio and video collaboration, with a digital camera, video card, video conferencing client software, and microphone/speakers on the laptop or PC.
  • Telecommuters who serve as call agents should also be equipped for computer-telephony integration (CTI), with software that enables them to use their PCs to manage calls and integrate with customer management applications in the office.

Read the full article on Toshiba’s Telecom blog.

How the Microsoft–Skype Merger Could Benefit Users

Microsoft made a power play to acquire Skype, a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls over the Internet, in early May. But what will the merger mean for the Redmond, Wash., company’s communications products?

BizTech’s own James E. Gaskin explores the possibilities in the latest edition of the “Tech On Your Side” column.

Learn more about the Microsoft–Skype merger in Gaskin’s article from BizTech.

Find great content from the bloggers listed here and other IT blogs by checking out our 50 Must-Read IT Blogs.


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