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    Apple’s Bug Bounty Program : Hacker’s Getting Paid

    How does one of the largest and most innovative companies in history prevent cyber attacks and data hacks? They hire hackers to hack them. That’s right, Apple pays up to $1 million to friendly hackers who can find and report vulnerabilities within their operating systems. Recently, Apple announced that it will open its Bug Bounty program to anyone to report bugs, not just hackers who have previously signed up and been approved. 

     

    Apple’s head of security engineering Ivan Krstic says is that this is a major win not only for iOS hackers and jailbreakers, but also for users—and ultimately even for Apple. The new bug bounties directly compete with the secondary market for iOS flaws, which has been booming in the last few years. 

     

    In 2015, liability broker Zerodium revealed that will pay $1 million for a chain of bugs that allowed hackers to break into the iPhone remotely. Ever since, the cost of bug bounties has soared. Zerodium’s highest payout is now $2 million, and Crowdfense offering up to $3 million.

    So how do you become a bug bounty for Apple? We’ll break it down for you.

     

    What is the Apple Security Bounty?

    As part of Apple’s devotion to information security, the company is willing to compensate researchers who discover and share critical issues and the methods they used to find them. Apple make it a priority to fix these issues in order to best protect their customers against a similar attack. Apple offers public recognition for those who submit valid reports and will match donations of the bounty payment to qualifying charities.

    See the Apple Security Bounty Terms and Conditions Here

    Who is Eligible to be a Bug Bounty?

     

    In order to qualify to be an Apple Bug Bounty, the vulnerability you discover must appear on the latest publicly available versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, or watchOS with a standard configuration. The eligibility rules are intended to protect customers until an update is readily available. This also ensures that Apple can confirm reports and create necessary updates, and properly reward those doing original research. 

    Apple Bug Bounties requirements:

    • Be the first party to report the issue to Apple Product Security.
    • Provide a clear report, which includes a working exploit. 
    • Not disclose the issue publicly before Apple releases the security advisory for the report. 

    Issues that are unknown to Apple and are unique to designated developer betas and public betas, can earn a 50% bonus payment. 

    Qualifying issues include:

    • Security issues introduced in certain designated developer beta or public beta releases, as noted in their release notes. Not all developer or public betas are eligible for this additional bonus.
    • Regressions of previously resolved issues, including those with published advisories, that have been reintroduced in certain designated developer beta or public beta release, as noted in their release notes.

    How Does the Bounty Program Payout?

     

    The amount paid for each bounty is decided by the level of access attained by the reported issue. For reference, a maximum payout amount is set for each category. The exact payment amounts are determined after Apple reviews the submission. 

    Here is a complete list of example payouts for Apple’s Bounty Program

    The purpose of the Apple Bug Bounty Program is to protect consumers through understanding both data exposures and the way they were utilized. In order to receive confirmation and payment from the program, a full detailed report must be submitted to Apple’s Security Team.  

     

    According to the tech giant, a complete report includes:

    • A detailed description of the issues being reported.
    • Any prerequisites and steps to get the system to an impacted state.
    • A reasonably reliable exploit for the issue being reported.
    • Enough information for Apple to be able to reasonably reproduce the issue. 

     

    Keep in mind that Apple is particularly interested in issues that:

    • Affect multiple platforms.
    • Impact the latest publicly available hardware and software.
    • Are unique to newly added features or code in designated developer betas or public betas.
    • Impact sensitive components.

    Learn more about reporting bugs to Apple here

    FEATURED

    LTO Consortium – Roadmap to the Future

    LTO – From Past to Present 

    Linear Tape-Open or more commonly referred to as LTO, is a magnetic tape data storage solution first created in the late 1990s as an open standards substitute to the proprietary magnetic tape formats that were available at the time.  It didn’t take long for LTO tape to rule the super tape market and become the best-selling super tape format year after year. LTO is usually used with small and large computer systems, mainly for backup. The standard form-factor of LTO technology goes by the name Ultrium. The original version of LTO Ultrium was announced at the turn of the century and is capable of storing up to 100 GB of data in a cartridge. Miniscule in today’s standards, this was unheard of at the time. The most recent generation of LTO Ultrium is the eighth generation which was released in 2017. LTO 8 has storage capabilities of up 12 TB (30 TB at 2.5:1 compression rate).

    The LTO Consortium is a group of companies that directs development and manages licensing and certification of the LTO media and mechanism manufacturers. The consortium consists of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, and Quantum. Although there are multiple vendors and tape manufacturers, they all must adhere to the standards defined by the LTO consortium.  

    Need a way to sell older LTO tapes?

    LTO Consortium – Roadmap to the Future

    The LTO consortium disclosed a future strategy to further develop the tape technology out to a 12th generation of LTO. This happened almost immediately after the release of the recent LTO-8 specifications and the LTO8 drives from IBM. Presumably sometime in the 2020s, when LTO-12 is readily available, a single tape cartridge should have capabilities of storing approximately half a petabyte of data.

    According to the LTO roadmap, the blueprint calls for doubling the capacity of cartridges with every ensuing generation. This is the same model the group has followed since it distributed the first LTO-1 drives in 2000. However, the compression rate of 2.5:1 is not likely to change in the near future. In fact, the compression rate hasn’t increased since LTO-6 in 2013.

    Learn how you can pre-purchase the latest LTO9 tapes 

    The Principles of How LTO Tape Works

    LTO tape is made up of servo bands which act like guard rails for the read/write head. The bands provide compatibility and adjustment between different tape drives. The read/write head positions between two servo bands that surround the data band. 

    The read-write head writes multiple data tracks at once in a single, end-to-end pass called a wrap. At the end of the tape, the process continues as reverse pass and the head shifts to access the next wrap. This process is done from the edge to the center, known as linear serpentine recording.

    More recent LTO generations have an auto speed mechanism built-in, unlike older LTO tape generations that suffered the stop-and-go of the drive upon the flow of data changes. The built-in auto speed mechanism lowers the streaming speed if the data flow, allowing the drive to continue writing at a constant speed. To ensure that the data just written on the tape is identical to what it should be, a verify-after-write process is used, using a read head that the tape passes after a write head.

    But what about data security? To reach an exceptional level of data security, LTO has several mechanisms in place. 

    Due to several data reliability features including error-correcting code (ECC), LTO tape has an extremely low bit-error-rate that is lower than that of hard disks. With both LTO7 and LTO8 generations, the data reliability has a bit error rate (BER) of 1 x 10-19.  This signifies that the drive and media will have one single bit error in approximately 10 exabytes (EB) of data being stored. In other words, more than 800,000 LTO-8 tapes can be written without error. Even more so, LTO tape allows for an air gap between tapes and the network. Having this physical gap between storage and any malware and attacks provides an unparalleled level of security.

     

    Learn more about air-gap data security here

    FEATURED

    The Role of Cryptocurrencies in the Age of Ransomware

    Now more than ever, there has become an obvious connection between the rising ransomware era and the cryptocurrency boom. Believe it or not, cryptocurrency and ransomware have an extensive history with one another. They are so closely linked, that many have attributed the rise of cryptocurrency with a corresponding rise in ransomware attacks across the globe. There is no debating the fact that ransomware attacks are escalating at an alarming rate, but there is no solid evidence showing a direct correlation to cryptocurrency. Even though the majority of ransoms are paid in crypto, the transparency of the currency’s block chain makes it a terrible place to keep stolen money.

    The link between cryptocurrency and ransomware attacks

    There are two keyways that ransomware attacks rely on the cryptocurrency market. First, the majority of the ransoms paid during these attacks are usually in cryptocurrency. A perfect example is with the largest ransomware attack in history, the WannaCry ransomware attacks. Attackers demanded their victims to pay nearly $300 of Bitcoin (BTC) to release their captive data..

    A second way that cryptocurrencies and ransomware attacks are linked is through what is called “ransomware as a service”. Plenty of cyber criminals offer “ransomware as a service,” essentially letting anyone hire a hacker via online marketplaces. How do you think they want payment for their services? Cryptocurrency.

    Read more about the WannaCry ransomware attacks here

    Show Me the Money

    From an outsider’s perspective, it seems clear why hackers would require ransom payments in cryptocurrency. The cryptocurrency’s blockchain is based on privacy and encryption, offering the best alternative to hide stolen money. Well, think again. There is actually a different reason why ransomware attacks make use of cryptocurrencies. The efficiency of cryptocurrency block chain networks, rather than its concealment, is what really draws the cyber criminals in.

    The value of cryptocurrency during a cyber-attack is really the transparency of crypto exchanges. A ransomware attacker can keep an eye on the public blockchain to see if his victims have paid their ransom and can automate the procedures needed to give their victim the stolen data back. 

    On the other hand, the cryptocurrency market is possibly the worst place to keep the stolen funds. The transparent quality of the cryptocurrency blockchain means that the world can closely monitor the transactions of ransom money. This makes it tricky to switch the stolen funds into an alternative currency, where they can be tracked by law enforcement.

    Read about the recent CSU college system ransomware attack here

    Law and Order

    Now just because the paid ransom for stolen data can be tracked in the blockchain doesn’t automatically mean that the hackers who committed the crime can be caught too. Due to the anonymity of cryptocurrency it is nearly impossible for law enforcement agencies to find the true identity of cybercriminals, However, there are always exceptions to the rule. 

    Blockchain allows a transaction to be traced relating to a given bitcoin address, all the way back to its original transaction. This permits law enforcement access to the financial records required to trace the ransom payment, in a way that would never be possible with cash transactions.

    Due to several recent and prominent ransomware attacks, authorities have called for the cryptocurrency market to be watched more closely. In order to do so, supervision will need to be executed in a very careful manner, not to deter from the attractiveness of anonymity of the currency. 

    Protect Yourself Anyway You Can

    The shortage of legislative control of the cryptocurrency market, mixed with the quick rise in ransomware attacks, indicates that individuals need to take it upon themselves to protect their data. Some organizations have taken extraordinary approaches such as hoarding Bitcoin in case they need to pay a ransom as part of a future attack. 

    For the common man, protecting against ransomware attacks means covering your bases. You should double check that all of your cyber security software is up to date, subscribe to a secure cloud storage provider and backup your data regularly. Companies of all sizes should implement the 3-2-1 data backup strategy in the case of a ransomware attack. The 3-2-1 backup plan states that one should have at least three different copies of data, stored on at least 2 different types of media, with at least one copy offsite. It helps to also have a separate copy of your data stored via the air-gap method, preventing it from ever being stolen.

    Learn More About Getting Your 3-2-1 Backup Plan in Place

    FEATURED

    TapeChat with Pat

    At DTC, we value great relationships. Luckily for us, we have some of the best industry contacts out there when it comes to tape media storage & backup. Patrick Mayock, a Partner Development Manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is one of those individuals. Pat has been with HPE for the last 7 years and prior to that has been in the data backup / storage industry for the last 30 years. Pat is our go to guy at HPE, a true source of support, and overall great colleague. For our TapeChat series Pat was our top choice. Pat’s resume is an extensive one that would impress anyone who see’s it. Pat started his data / media storage journey back in the early 90’s in the bay area. Fast forward to today Pat can be found in the greater Denver area with the great minds over at HPE. Pat knows his stuff so sit back and enjoy this little Q&A we setup for you guys. We hope you enjoy and without further adieu, we welcome you to our series, TapeChat (with Pat)!

    Pat, thank you for taking the time to join us digitally for this online Q&A. We would like to start off by stating how thrilled we are to have you with us. You’re an industry veteran and we’re honored to have you involved in our online content.

    Thanks for the invite.  I enjoy working with your crew and am always impressed by your innovative strategies to reach out to new prospects and educate existing customers on the growing role of LTO tape from SMB to the Data Center. 

    Let’s jump right into it! For the sake of starting things out on a fun note, what is the craziest story or experience you have had or know of involving the LTO / Tape industry? Maybe a fun fact that most are unaware of, or something you would typically tell friends and family… Anything that stands out…

    I’ve worked with a few tape library companies over the years and before that I sold the original 9 track ½ inch tape drives.  Those were monsters, but you would laugh how little data they stored on a reel of tape. One of the most memorable projects I worked on was in the Bay Area, at Oracle headquarters.  They had the idea to migrate from reel to reel tape drives with a plan to replace them with compact, rack mounted, ‘robotic’ tape libraries.  At the end, they replaced those library type shelves, storing hundreds of reels of tape with 32 tape libraries in their computer cabinets.  Each tape library had room for 40 tape slots and four 5 ¼ full high tape drives.  The contrast was impressive.  To restore data, they went from IT staffers physically moving tape media, in ‘sneaker mode’ to having software locate where the data was stored, grab and load the tape automatically in the tape library and start reading data.   Ok, maybe too much of a tape story, but as a young sales rep at the time it was one that I’ll never forget. 

    With someone like yourself who has been doing this for such a long time, what industry advancements and releases still get you excited to this day? What is Pat looking forward to right now in the LTO Tape world?

    I’m lucky.  We used to have five or more tape technologies all fighting for their place in the data protection equation, each from a different vendor. Now, Ultrium LTO tape has a majority of the market and is supported by a coalition of multiple technology vendors working together to advance the design. Some work in the physical tape media, some on the read/write heads, and some on the tape drive itself.  The business has become more predictable and more reliable.  About every two years the consortium releases the next level of LTO tape technology.  We will see LTO-9 technology begin public announcements by the end of 2020. And the thirst for higher storage capacity and higher performance in the same physical space, this is what keeps me more than optimistic about the future.

    When our sales team is making calls and asks a business if they are still backing up to LTO Tape, that question is always met with such an unappreciated / outdated response, in some cases we receive a response of laughter with something along the lines of “people still use tape” as a response. Why do you think LTO as a backup option is getting this type of response? What is it specifically about the technology that makes businesses feel as if LTO Tape is a way of the past…

    As a Tape Guy, I hear that question a lot.  The reality in the market is that some industries are generating so much data that they have to increase their dependence on tape based solutions as part of their storage hierarchy. It starts with just the cost comparison of data on a single disk drive versus that same amount of data on a LTO tape cartridge. LTO tape wins. But the real impact is some much bigger than just that.  Think about the really large data center facilities.  The bigger considerations are for instance, for a given amount of data (a lot) what solution can fit the most data in to a cabinet size solution.  Physical floor space in the data center is at a premium.  Tape wins. Then consider the cost of having that data accessible.  A rack of disk drives consume tons more energy that a tape library. Tape wins again. Then consider the cooling cost that go along with all those disk drives spinning platters.  Tape wins, creating a greener solution that is more cost effective. At HPE and available from DTC, we have white papers and presentations on just this topic of cost savings.   In summary, if a company is not looking at or using LTO tape, then their data retention, data protection and data archiving needs are just not yet at the breaking point. 

    There seems to be an emergence of the Disk / Hard Drive backup option being utilized by so many businesses. Do you feel like LTO Tape will ever be looked at with the same level of respect or appreciation by those same businesses?

    If you are talking about solid state disk for high access, and dedicated disk drive solutions for backup – sure that works.  But at some point you need multiple copies at multiple locations to protect your investment.  The downside of most disk only solutions is that all the data is accessible across the network.  Now days, Ransomware and CyberSecurity are part of the biggest threats to corporations, government agencies and even mom and pop SMBs.  The unique advantage of adding LTO tape based tape libraries is that the data is NOT easily tapped into because the physical media in not in the tape drive.  Again, HPE has very detailed white papers and presentations on this Air Gap principle, all available from DTC. 

    LTO Tape vs Hard Drive seems to be the big two in terms of the data / backup realm, as an insider to this topic, where do you see this battle going in the far future?

    It’s less of a battle and more of a plan to ‘divide the work load and let’s work together’.  In most environments, tape and disk work side by side with applications selecting where the data is kept. However, there are physical limitations on how much space is available on a spinning platter or set of platters, and this will dramatically slow down the growth of their capacity within a given form factor. With LTO tape technology, the physical areal footprint is so much bigger, because of the thousands of feet of tape within each tape cartridge. At LTO-8 we have 960 meters of tape to write on. Even at a half inch wide, that’s a lot of space for data. Both disk and tape technologies will improve how much data they can fit on their media, (areal density) but LTO tape just has the advantage of so much space to work with. LTO tape will continue to follow the future roadmap which is already spec’d out to LTO-12.  

    With so many years in this industry, what has been the highlight of your career?

    The technology has always impressed me, learning and talking about the details of a particular technical design advantage. Then, being able to work with a wide range of IT specialists and learning about their business and what they actually do with the data.  But when I look back, on the biggest highlights,  I remember all the great people that I have worked with side by side to solve customer’s storage and data protection problems.  Sometimes we won, sometimes we didn’t.  I will never forget working to do our best for the deal. 

    What tech advancements do you hope to see rolled out that would be a game changer for data storage as a whole?

    The data storage evolution is driven by the creation of more data, every day.  When one technology fails to keep pace with the growth, another one steps up to the challenge.  Like I have said, LTO tape has a pretty solid path forward for easily 6 more years of breakthrough advancements. In 6 years, I’m sure there will be some new technology working to knock out LTO, some new technology that today is just an idea. 

    We see more and more companies getting hit every day with ransomware / data theft due to hackers, what are your thoughts on this and where do you see things going with this. Will we ever reach a point where this will start to level off or become less common?

    Ransomware and cyber security are the hot topics keeping IT Directors and business owners up at night. It is a criminal activity that is highly lucrative. Criminals will continue to attempt to steal data, block access and hold companies for ransom wherever they can.  But they prefer easy targets. As I mentioned earlier, Tape Solutions offer one key advantage in this battle: if the data isn’t live on the network, the hacker has to work harder. This is a critical step to protect your data. 

    For more information on Pat, data backup / storage, + more follow Pat on Twitter:

    FEATURED

    DTC – A True Partnership

    For Over Half of a Century We’ve Been Committed to Serving IT Departments and Saving IT Budgets 

     

    Our Story

    In 1965, we opened our doors for business with the idea to transform the IT equipment industry through technology, transparency, standards, and processes. We planted our roots as a round reel tape company in Downey, CA. As a family owned and operated business over the past 50 years, we have sprouted into one of the most trustworthy, reliable, and authoritative organizations in the industry. 

    From disk pack tape storage and round reel tape to hard drives, networked storage, tape libraries, and cloud backup systems; our business and partnerships continue to prosper and grow with the constantly innovative IT industry. DTC proudly works with all organizations, letting our reputation speak for itself.

    DTC’s 3 Point Message is Simple:

     

    • Our goal is to reach 100% Recyclability of old storage media and IT assets.

     

    Electronics recycling is our bread and butter. We’ve been both saving the environment and companies money, by setting the standard for secure handling and re purposing of used and obsolete electronics. Recycling of electronics and IT equipment is an essential part of a company’s waste management strategy. If you are looking for a safe and secure way of electronics recycling, then you should consider our proven services. We specialize in ethical disposal and reprocessing of used and obsolete electronics and computer equipment. We can help accomplish legal and conservational goals as a responsible organization. Let us be the solution to your problem and help your organization stay socially responsible. 

     

    Learn more about recycling your old IT assets

     

    • Our pledge since day one has been to keep your data safe.

     

    Data security is main concern for IT departments in any organization, and rightly so. Many of our partners demand that their data is handled appropriately and destroyed according to both government and industry standards. DTC provides honest and secure data destruction services which include physical destruction with a mobile shredder and secure data erasure methods like degaussing. All of our destruction services are effective, auditable, and certified. Ship storage assets to our secured facility or simply ask for the mobile data destroyer to be deployed on site. With over 50 years of service, we’ve never had one data leak. Now that’s experience you can trust!

    Learn more about DTC data security

     

    • Our process will help you save time and money.

     

    Our IT asset disposition (ITAD) process will help your organization recoup dollars from your surplus, used IT Assets and free up storage space at your facility. Our equipment buyback program is dedicated to purchasing all types of surplus and used data storage and IT equipment. We use the highest standards to ensure you get the greatest return your initial IT investment. With the current pace of hardware evolution, most companies are upgrading their systems every two years. This leads to a lot of surplus IT equipment. DTC has the experience and resources to get you the most for your old IT assets.

    Get the most return on your IT investment 

    The Value We Provide

    DTC’s diverse knowledge-base and experiences, allow our partners to utilize our purchasing and sales personnel as a valued resource for questions, research, and answers. Our vast database and the contact list of customers, resellers, recyclers, suppliers, and industry partners allows us to excellent pricing when sourcing your IT Equipment. Don’t believe us? Let us know what you need, and we will find it for you. 

    How we can help you?

    Here is brief list of services we provide:

     

    Ready to work with a trusted partner? Contact Us Today



    FEATURED

    The TikTok Controversy: How Much Does Big Tech Care About Your Data and its Privacy?

    If you have a teenager in your house, you’ve probably encountered them making weird dance videos in front of their phone’s camera. Welcome to the TikTok movement that’s taking over our nation’s youth. TikTok is a popular social media video sharing app that continues to make headlines due to cybersecurity concerns. Recently, the U.S. military banned its use on government phones following a warning from the DoD about potential personal information risk. TikTok has now verified that it patched multiple vulnerabilities that exposed user data. In order to better understand TikTok’s true impact on data and data privacy, we’ve compiled some of the details regarding the information TikTok gathers, sends, and stores.

    What is TikTok?

    TikTok is a video sharing application thar allows users to create short, fifteen-second videos on their phones and post the content to a public platform. Videos can be enriched with music and visual elements, such as filters and stickers. By having a young adolescent demographic, along with the content that is created and shared on the platform, have put the app’s privacy features in the limelight as of late. Even more so, questions the location of TikTok data storage and access have raised red flags.

    You can review TikTok’s privacy statement for yourself here.

    TikTok Security Concerns

    Even though TikTok allows users to control who can see their content, the app does ask for a number of consents on your device. Most noteworthy, it accesses your location and device information. However, there’s no evidence to support the theory of malicious activity or that TikTok is violating their privacy policy, it is still advised to practice caution with the content that’s both created and posted.

    The biggest concern surrounding the TikTok aplication is where user information is stored and who has access to it. According the TikTok website, “We store all US user data in the United States, with backup redundancy in Singapore. Our data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of our data is subject to Chinese law.” “The personal data that we collect from you will be transferred to, and stored at, a destination outside of the European Economic Area (“EEA”).” There is no other specific information regarding where user data is stored.

    Recently, TikTok published a Transparency Report which lists “legal requests for user information”, “government requests for content removal”, and “copyrighted content take-down notices”. The “Legal Requests for User Information” shows that India, the United States, and Japan are the top three countries where user information was requested. The United States was the number one country with fulfilled request (86%) and number of accounts specified in the requests (255). Oddly enough, China is not listed as having received any requests for user information. 

    What Kind of Data is TikTok Tracking?

    Below are some of the consents TikTok requires on Android and iOS devices after installation of the app is completed. While some of the permissions are to be expected, these are all consistent with TikTok’s written privacy policy. When viewing all that TikTok gathers from its users, it can be alarming. In short, the app allows TikTok to:

    • Access the camera (and take pictures/video), the microphone (and record sound), the device’s WIFI connection, and the full list of contacts on your device.
    • Determine if the internet is available and access it if it is.
    • Keep the device turned on and automatically start itself.
    • Secure detailed information on the user’s location using GPS.
    • Read and write to the device’s storage, install/remove shortcuts, and access the flashlight (turn it off and on).

    You read that right, TikTok has full access to your audio, video, and list of contacts in your phone. The geo location tracking via GPS is somewhat surprising though, especially since TikTok videos don’t display location information. So why collect that information? If you operate and Android device, TikTok has the capability of accessing other apps running at the same time, which can give the app access to data in another app such as a banking or password storage app. 

    Why is TikTok Banned by the US Military?

    In December 2019, the US military started instructing soldiers to stop using TikToK on all government-owned phones. This TikTok policy reversal came just shortly after the release of a Dec. 16 Defense Department Cyber Awareness Message classifying TikTok as having potential security risks associated with its use. As the US military cannot prevent government personnel from accessing TiKTok on their personal phones, the leaders recommended that service members use caution if unfamiliar text messages are received.

    In fact, this was not the first time that the Defense Department had been required to encourage service members to remove a popular app from their phones. In 2016, the Defense Department banned the augmented-reality game, Pokémon Go, from US military owned smartphones. However, this case was a bit different as military officials alluded to concerns over productivity and the potential distractions it could cause. The concerns over TikTok are focused on cybersecurity and spying by the Chinese government.

    In the past, the DoD has put out more general social media guidelines, advising personnel to proceed with caution when using any social platform. And all DoD personnel are required to take annual cyber awareness training that covers the threats that social media can pose.

    FEATURED

    DTC Printer Services to the Rescue

    At DTC Computer Supplies, we recognize the importance of quick and thorough office equipment repairs for your business. Downtime costs you productivity and money, so we strive to fix it right in a timely manner. We have a team of expert field engineers waiting to help you! Our engineers can usually diagnose your issue over the phone and resolve your issues on the first trip to your site. As a family-owned business since 1965, we know what it means to have the job done right the first time. We pride ourselves on quality work and customer service, meaning you can dial directly to a real person, instead of trying to find your way through a phone maze. Let us show you why we’ve been a local favorite and a trusted industry leader for over 50 years. 

    Introducing DTC’s Total-Care© Laser Printer Maintenance Program…

    The printer is that one piece of office equipment that you really don’t appreciate, until it doesn’t work. But with so many brands, models, and parts on the market; is it really worth trying to spearhead your printer repair yourself? Most likely you will spend more time trying to troubleshoot the error and waste more money buying the wrong parts than you need to. It’s wise to just leave this job up to the experts. At DTC, we recognize that not every business is the same. That’s why we’ve created three different tiers to our TotalCare© Maintenance Program. This give you the freedom to choose which program is right for your business. No matter what your printer issue is, we’ve got you covered. We also only use high-quality parts that meet or exceed OEM specifications ensuring you printer is back up and running FAST!

    3 Levels to Choose From – Find the one that fits your business!

     

    Level 1 (TotalCare© Silver Package)

    No Trip charge (20 mile radius)
    Discounted labor
    15% discount on parts
    Free yearly cleanings
    100% guarantee
    1-4 printers
    8 hr. time response

     

    Level 2 (TotalCare© Gold Package)

    No trip Charge
    Free labor
    Free parts included: Pickup rollers, transfer rollers, feed rollers
    25% discount on all other parts
    Free yearly cleanings
    5-15 printers
    6 hr. time response
    100% guarantee

     

    Level 3 (TotalCare© Platinum Package)

    No trip Charge
    Free Labor and Maintenance
    all consumable parts included*
    Free yearly cleanings
    15+ printers
    4 hr. time response
    100% guarantee

    Local Printer Service Rates

    Labor Rates

    In Shop Rates Remote Rates:

    $45 if we can fix it in 30 minutes or less, otherwise $75 per hour

    On Site Rates:

    $75 per hour (minimum of one hour).

    Travel Fees:

    0-10 Miles = Free of charge

    11-25 Miles = $25 Flat fee

    26-50 plus Miles = $50 plus $1.50 per mile over 50 miles

    DTC Premium Toner and Ink

    Arguably, the most common printer problem you’ll encounter is running out of out of toner. Unfortunately, you usually don’t realize this until it’s too late. It’s an easy fix by simply replacing the toner cartridge in the printer. The toner itself is a bit more complicated.

    Why Choose DTC Premium Toner Cartridges over the Competition?

    • DTC Premium Toner Cartridges can save you up to 25-50% over OEM Toner.
    • Our Compatible Toner Cartridges are NOT Re-Manufactured. We use High-Quality OEM-Grade Components.
    • Our Toner Cartridges are 100% ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and STMC compliant Factories and Quality-Control Processes.
    • Our Toner Cartridges come with a 1-Year Unconditional Guarantee that they will meet or exceed OEM specifications. All DTC Premium Toner Cartridges go through a rigorous and extensive inspection.
    • We pride ourselves with having less than 1% defect rate.

    DTC also provides FREE Parts and Labor with purchase of toner. With your first purchase of toner we will deliver to your office and provide a free cleaning of the printer and install the cartridge. No contracts and cancel at any time. It doesn’t get much better than that!

    With DTC replacement toner and ink cartridges, you have options:

    DTC Laser Toner

    DTC Laser Toner is ideal for high volume printing needs, best suited for small-medium businesses and schools that print a lot of text heavy documents and color prints. 

    • Save up to 60% over other OEM Toners.
    • 1-Year Unconditional Guarantee
    • Typically have the highest page yields of up to 20,000 pages.

    OEM Laser Toner

    DTC has superb quality OEM toner from all major brands including: HP, Xerox, Brother, and Lexmark.

    • Designed to meet the exact specifications your printer requires.
    • Guarantees complete color accuracy for color-matching.
    • Full manufacturer warranty.

    Ink Cartridges

    DTC ink cartridges are ideal for printing a small volume on a regular basis and quality photos.  

    • Can replace cartridges individually in cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
    • Standard ink cartridge can print 200-500 pages.
    • Can be easier and cleaner to replace than laser cartridges.

    Call DTC Computer Supplies today @ 1-800-700-7683 or email us @ contact@dtc1.com.

    FEATURED

    3-2-1 Backup Rule

    What is the 3-2-1 Backup Rule?

     

    The 3-2-1 backup rule is a concept made famous by photographer Peter Krogh. He basically said there are two types of people: those who have already had a storage failure and those who will have one in the future. Its inevitable. The 3-2-1 backup rule helps to answer two important questions: how many backup files should I have and where should I store them?

    The 3-2-1 backup rule goes as follows:

    • Have at least three copies of your data.
    • Store the copies on two different media.
    • Keep one backup copy offsite.

    Need help with building your data backup strategy?

    1. Create at least THREE different copies of your data

    Yes, I said three copies. That means that in addition to your primary data, you should also have at least two more backups that you can rely on if needed. But why isn’t one backup sufficient you ask? Think about keeping your original data on storage device A and its backup is on storage device B. Both storage devices have the same characteristics, and they have no common failure causes. If device A has a probability of failure that’s 1/100 (and the same is true for device B), then the probability of failure of both devices at the same time is 1/10,000.

    So with THREE copies of data, if you have your primary data (device A) and two backups of it (device B and device C), and if all devices have the same characteristics and no common failure causes, then the probability of failure of all three devices at the same time will be 1/1,000,000 chance of losing all of your data. That’s much better than having only one copy and a 1/100 chance of losing it all, wouldn’t you say? Creating more than two copies of data also avoids a situation where the primary copy and its backup copy are stored in the same physical location, in the event of a natural disaster.

    1. Store your data on at least TWO different types of media

    Now in the last scenario above we assumed that there were no common failure causes for all of the devices that contain your precious data. Clearly, this requirement is much harder to fulfill if your primary data and its backup are located in the same place. Disks from the same RAID aren’t typically independent. Even more so, it is not uncommon to experience failure of one or more disks from the same storage compartment around the same time.

    This is where the #2 comes in 3-2-1 rule. It is recommended that you keep copies of your data on at least TWO different storage types. For example, internal hard disk drives AND removable storage media such as tapes, external hard drives, USB drives, od SD-cards. It is even possible to keep data on two internal hard disk drives in different storage locations.

     

    Learn more about purchasing tape media to expand your data storage strategy 

    1. Store at least ONE of these copies offsite

    Believe it or not, physical separation between data copies is crucial. It’s bad idea to keep your external storage device in the same room as your primary storage device. Just ask the numerous companies that are located in the path of a tornado or in a flood zone. Or what would you do if your business caught fire? If you work for a smaller company with only one location, storing your backups to the cloud would be a smart alternative. Tapes that are stored at an offsite location are also popular among companies of all sizes.

     

    Every system administrator should have a backup. This principle works for any virtual environment; regardless of the system you are running, backup is king!

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    Apple iPad Mini GIVEAWAY !!!

    It’s Giveaway time! DTC Computer Supplies is giving away a brand new Apple iPad Mini to one of our lucky followers. It’s easy to enter for your chance to win. All you have to do to qualify is:

    1. Like / Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
    2. Re-Post the ad onto your social media platform
    3. Use the Hashtag #DTCiPad in the post caption.

    We will be choosing the lucky winner Friday, August 21st @ 12PM PST. Good luck, spread the word,  and thanks for all your support!

    Like / Follow DTC Computer Supplies here:

    INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/dtccomputersupplies/

    TWITTER: https://twitter.com/DTCcompsupplies

    FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/DTCcomputersupplies/

    LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/company/dtccomputersupplies/

     

    Contest Rules:

    • Ad must remain posted onto your social media for the duration of the contest
    • Remain following DTC on social media for the duration of the contest
    FEATURED

    3 Things Star Wars Taught Us About Data Storage

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a farm boy on a desert planet joined an uprising while saving a princess from a dark lord. Just like that, one of the most popular cinematic stories of all time was created. What began with one film in 1977 rapidly developed into one of the most successful media empires in existence. Now, more than four decades after it was introduced to audiences worldwide, Star Wars remains a global pop culture sensation. 

    While doing my initial research for this article I came across quite an amazing factoid: George Lucas is truly a data backup and cloud storage buff! Knowing this bit of information, I began to see it throughout the Star Wars narrative. In the wake of this newfound knowledge and inspiration, I’d urge you to weigh the following to make sure your organization doesn’t endure the same struggles that Darth and the Skywalkers have over the course of their adventures.

    Have a Data Security Plan in Place

    It is pretty common knowledge that a decent data backup strategy starts with a strong approach to data security. With a data security plan in place, an organization can considerably reduce the chances of relying solely on backups. Sadly, the most minimal types of security appeared to be neglected throughout the Star Wars trilogy.

    The first eight installments of the trilogy are rampant with data security concerns, but possibly the most noticeable happens when Obi-Wan looks into the origins of a Kamino Saberdart. While looking for the planet Kamino in the Jedi Archives, he discovers a blank space. Yoda concludes to Obi-Wan that the planet has likely been deleted from the archives. 

    Some theories state that Jedi training was a specific type of password protection since the Force is required to manipulate the Jedi Archives. This wouldn’t be very wise considering there were numerous of trained Jedi in the galaxy, and their sworn enemies were force users. A great current day example would be both Google and Amazon offices sharing the same keycards. Not exactly infosec friendly to say the least! The Jedi had weak passwords with absolutely no permissions management.

    In an effort to prevent cyber criminals from potentially accessing your company’s vital data, it is good practice to perform regular reviews of your data security strategies. Double check that there are no glaring holes in your data security strategy, habitually change passwords, use two factor authentication, and ALWAYS use encryption. 

    Have a Backup Plan in Place

    Having a data backup plan in place is a key complement to any security strategy. As the Jedi learned, even when your security is set up perfectly, disaster can strike. Inadequate security management on both sides led to the destruction of 6 planets, the mutilation of 2 others, and the obliteration of a handful of super weapons.

    The best approach if such a plan is referred to as a 3-2-1 backup strategy. This means for every piece of data, you have the data itself, a backup copy on site (an external hard drive of some sort), and a final copy in the cloud. Now, I’ve come across several question regarding the use of a specific data storage medium used in the trilogy. So why does the Star Wars universe use such a basic technology as data-tapes? Simply put, backups are better on tape. The fewer moving parts an object has, the more robust it is. Additionally, the long-term life span of electronic memory is a dilemma, compared to that of tape. When you make a backup of something, you want it to be able to survive a long time. 

    We first see the blueprints for the super weapon when Count Dooku, decides that they would be in safe with Darth Sidious on Scarif. By the time Jynn Erso hears of the Stardust version of the plans for the Death Star, it appears that Scarif is the only place in the Galaxy where you could find a copy of the plans. In a way, the plans on Scarif served as the Empire’s cloud storage. All the Death Star needed was an external hard drive following it through space with an additional copy of the plans!

    If you only have one backup, it’s better than nothing. Not much better, but it is. Make certain that you’re using a 3-2-1 approach for a better backup strategy. Also consider a data backups allocated to different geographic regions in case of a natural disaster. Tape is great for this!

    Have a Version Control Plan in Place

    What good is to have backups if you don’t have the right information backed up? If we came away with one thing from the plans used to defeat the first Death Star, its that the Empire didn’t manage their version control. The backups that they had were not up to date. The focus lens for the superlaser is equatorial when the Death Star’s superlaser was actually on the northern hemisphere.

    To operate a reliable backup solution, it needs to run on a consistent basis. Sometimes daily or even more frequently depending on the situation and data on hand. Whatever backup strategy the Death Star was using, it had clearly gone askew. 

    Version History is also a critical piece to the backup puzzle. Version History lets users keep multiple versions of a file over extended periods of time, sometimes forever. Think if the Empire had set up a Version History. They could have reverted to the pre-final plans to destroy the Death Star.

    Whether you manage a small business or a universal enterprise, your data (assuming its properly secured and backed up) can mean the difference between domination and having your battle station blown into a million pieces across the dark void of space. Data security and backup doesn’t need to be a battle. Create a plan that works for you, ensure your data is secured, and verify every so often that it’s up to date with the most recent versions. May The Data Be With You.

    FEATURED

    Industries We Serve

    DTC serves a wide range of industries from healthcare, finance, education, and even small business. In today’s rapidly evolving and data focused world, every trade has a need to keep its data safe and its systems running.  Our pledge since day one has been to keep your data safe, no matter what industry you’re in. 

     

    MAKING AN IMPACT IN EVERY INDUSTRY

    At DTC, we work behind the scenes to solve your IT equipment challenges, improve data security, and reduce environmental impact of recycled assets. Whether your organization requires extensive data center services, IT asset disposition, e-waste recycling, on-site data destruction, or just general maintenance and support; we’ve got you covered. For over 50 years, we’ve made a name for ourselves as one of the most trusted brands in our industry, and we want to help you do the same. See below how we can help your industry.

    HEALTHCARE

    With extensive databases of medical records containing vital information, data maintenance, storage, and security is an essential part of healthcare. Regardless of how heavily healthcare institutions depend on computers and other electronic devices, not many organizations have a dedicated IT department with the ability to handle the vast amount of equipment requirements. Our IT equipment specialists can help with your organizations specific needs. We can flawlessly help save your healthcare institute’s budget, while you help save lives.

    A plan for guarding against ransomware in the healthcare industry

    Finance

    Another data breach is the last thing any financial institution needs. Most financial organizations have highly developed IT professionals running their data infrastructures, but upgrades and disposal can become overwhelming. Industry best practices state that companies need to keep their data for several decades and should migrate the data to the latest software version of their backup solution. That’s where we come into play. Since 1965, we have been helping businesses, both large and small, keep their data secure while increasing ROI on used IT equipment.

    Get Help With Securing Your Financial Data

     

    Government

    Today more than ever, government agencies depend on computers and electronics in order to effectively operate within their respective borders. Most governments, whether city, county, state or nationwide, have an extremely long holding period for sensitive, proprietary, or administration-critical data. Even though data tape is the most reliable medium for long-term data storage, they still need to be updated over time. More importantly, we are aware of the importance of data security when it comes to sensitive information on your used equipment.

     

    Education

    The recent COVID-19 pandemic has given us all a firsthand look at how classrooms across the country are integrating 1:1 student to computer learning. Now more than ever, IT equipment has become heavily integrated into school settings. Computer learning means a vast increase in information and data creation; requiring substantial data back up and security measures to protect it. Regardless of how heavily learning institutions depend on computers and other electronic devices, not many school districts have a dedicated IT department with the ability to handle the vast amount of data back up and equipment requirements.

    Learn More About Saving IT Budgets in the Education Field

    Energy and Utilities

    Companies in the energy and utility industries are continuously being asked to find ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Whether it’s the power generation and alternative energy services, most companies have a very busy IT department. When the computers, servers, and data storage centers need to be upgraded and replaced; it can be exhausting. The right IT asset disposal (ITAD) partner can help get the most value from old IT equipment; resulting in maximum return on initial investment.

    Learn More About ITAD and How it can Help You

    Small and Mid-size Business

    Entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation are not only the foundation of a healthy economy but the backbone of America. Entrepreneurs embody the strength and character that help make our country great and we’d like to keep it that way. As a family-owned business since 1965, we understand the struggles and sacrifices of being a business owner. Small businesses and owners may not always have the budget for the latest upgrades in IT equipment or even know what to do with their older equipment. We can help with upgrades and disposal of your data storage tapes and other IT assets when needed. 

    OUR GOAL IS TO BE YOUR MOST VALUED PARTNER

    DTC’s IT equipment specialists and procurement associates are made up of over 130+ years of combined experience making us one of the industry’s best-trained teams. We opened our doors for business in 1965 with the idea to transform the IT lifecycle through technology, transparency, standards, and processes. Our business continues to flourish and grows with the ever-changing IT industry, letting our reputation speak for itself.

    Interested in Learning More About Who We Are?

    Send a message, we’d love to hear from you.

    FEATURED

    What is I.T.A.D. ?

    What is ITAD?

    You may have heard some fancy term ITAD or SITAD being thrown around the IT world as of late. What is ITAD exactly? We’ll keep simple, ITAD is an acronym for Information Technology Asset Disposition. Some also refer to it as SITAD (Secure Information Technology Asset Disposition). In a nutshell, IT Asset Disposition is the process of disposing of obsolete, retired, or unwanted equipment in an environmentally friendly and responsible manner. ITAD service partners specialize in the processes related to disposing of and remarketing IT assets. Partnering with an experienced ITAD company can also help organizations focus on alleviating expenses as well as increasing the value of their used IT assets.

    How can ITAD Benefit You?

    IT Asset Disposition service providers can help you get rid of your surplus IT equipment or decommission your current data storage infrastructure. Not only can they dispose of it properly, they will help you get paid for it too! Once they purchase the equipment, they use their own personal end-user network to attempt to recoup as much value from your equipment as possible. There is a still significant life left in some equipment and it could benefit a growing organization that can’t afford to procure new equipment.

    Learn More about Data Center Services Here

    How does the ITAD Market Work?

    The IT asset disposition market is a secondary IT market. It’s used by ITAD companies to remarket the used and retired assets they purchase. Many ITAD companies coordinate with other different ITAD companies to sell the equipment off to the highest bidder. Some ITAD companies rely on a large open network of buyers called broker bin. Others may speak to other ITAD companies directly, although most ITAD companies sell directly to end-users.

    How Do I Choose the ITAD Partner Best for Me?

    With hundreds if not thousands of ITAD companies existing today, it can appear overwhelming to know which one is best for what your company requires.

    Here is a list of things you may want to consider when looking for an ITAD partner:

    1. Does your business have large amounts of inventory and need decommissioning services? You may want to choose a partner who provides:

    2.     Does your business have a small amount of used inventory that you can ship yourself? You may want to consider a partner who offers:

    3.     Does your business have extremely sensitive data on the equipment that needs to be decommissioned? You may want to think about a partner who has:

    You should always be willing to get multiple quotes and get a feel for who works best for you and your organization. No ITAD provider is the same. It is essentially a partnership, should be treated as such.

    If you’re in need of ITAD services for your used IT equipment,

    FEATURED

    LTO-9 Tape Technology (Pre-Purchase Program)

    LTO-9 Tape Technology (Pre-Purchase Program)

    Our LTO-9 Pre-Purchase Program allows anyone to pre-order LTO-9 tape technology before it is available. This is the ninth generation of tape technology that delivers on the promise made by the LTO Consortium to develop LTO tape technology through at least 12 generations. In an endeavor to deliver our customers the latest technology on the market, we are offering pre orders of LTO-9 tape technology. This gives our customers the best opportunity to receive the latest generation of LTO tape as soon as it’s available. LTO-9 is expected to be available in Fall 2020.

     How to Buy: CLICK HERE | or call us today @ 1-800-700-7683.

    How to Sell: For those looking to sell your old data tapes prior to upgrading to LTO-9, CLICK HERE to submit your inventory and we will contact you back within 24 Hours.


    LTO TECHNOLOGY FOR LONG-TERM DATA PROTECTION

    LTO tape technology provides organizations with reliable, long-term data protection and preservation. With LTO tape drives, organizations can meet security and compliance requirements, while at the same time, save on storage footprint, power, and cooling costs, which can make a significant difference in operating costs for larger library environments.

    LTO-9 FEATURED HIGHLIGHTS

    • Lowest cost per GB.

    • Tape offers lower power and cooling costs, plus a lower footprint leads to improved TCO.

    • Linear Tape File System (LTFS) support.

    • AES 256-bit Encryption – Military-grade encryption comes standard.

    • WORM technology – Makes data non-rewriteable and non-erasable, which acts as an immutable vault within your tape library to secure and protect an offline copy from ransomware.

    LTO-9 vs. LTO-8

    LTO-9 (Linear Tape-Open 9) is the most recently released tape format from the Linear Tape-Open Consortium, following the LTO-8 format which launched in 2017. LTO-9 is expected to double the capacity of LTO-8 to 60 TB compressed. LTO-8 provides 30 TB of compressed storage capacity and 12 TB of uncompressed capacity, doubling what LTO-7 offered.

    Although, the LTO Consortium has not announced the data transfer rate for LTO-9 yet, LTO-8 features an uncompressed data transfer rate of up to 360 MBps and a compressed data transfer rate of up to 750 MBps. 

    LTO-9 has a similar structure to LTO-8 in that tape drives are backward-compatible with one generation. Essentially, the LTO-8 tapes can read and write to LTO-7 tapes. LTO had typically been able to read back two generations and write back one generation. However, in LTO-8 the backward reading compatibility is limited to one generation. 

    LTO-9 also features the same WORM, LTFS, and 256-bitencryption technology as the prior generation LTO-8.

    Uses for LTO-9

    LTO features high capacity, durability, and portability for a comparatively low cost. Archived data storage is not normally needed on an immediate basis, making tape a solid backup option. More commonly, backup data is used for restores in the event of an incident or data loss.

    LTO-9 tapes housed at an off-site location are a fantastic option for disaster recovery. If an organizations main data hub has an incident, they can use the durable LTO9 tapes to recover their data. According to the LTO consortium, once data becomes less frequently retrieved, it should be migrated to tape. 

    Tape is particularly useful in industries such as entertainment and healthcare that generate large volumes of data every day and require a long-term data storage option that’s less expensive than disk. As ransomware attacks stay in the headlines, tape provides an offline backup storage option immune to a cyber-attack. Data stored on an LTO-9 tape cartridge does not have to be connected to the network. This creates what is called an Airgap and creates a safety net from a cyberattack.

    Pros and Cons of LTO-9 Tape

    Tape capacity continues to expand. When LTO-9 launches, it will have enhanced the compressed capacity of the LTO tape products by almost 60 TB in roughly 10 years. As data levels continue to grow rapidly for many groups, capacity is one of the most important aspects of data storage media. Even the cost of tape is low compared to storing 60 TB on other storage media such as disk or flash. Particularly when taking energy and equipment into consideration as a constant energy source is not required to keep data stored on tape.

    Other advantages of LTO-9 tape include:

    • A reliable generational roadmap that allows customers to count on a new product every few years, and a capacity that is not far off from the original estimate.

    • 256-bit encryption that guarantees security during storage and shipment. Its offline nature also serves as protection from ransomware and cyberattacks, creating an airgap.

    • A reputation of being extremely reliable, with a lifespan of roughly 30 years. The tape format is also portable, making it remarkably easy to transport.

    LTO’s open format also allows customers to access multiple, compatible products. The open format offers intellectual property licenses to prospective manufacturers, leading to innovation and improvements. However, LTO products are not compatible with non-LTO products.

    Depending on the amount of data you need to store, cloud storage can be less expensive than tape. In some instances, cloud backup providers provide a free option up to a specified volume of data. Cloud also offers random access, unlike tape. But restoration of data files can be slow depending on data volume and bandwidth.

    FEATURED

    14 questions to ask before upgrading your servers

    Servers are almost always used with specific objectives in mind. Regardless of whether the server is installed in a small business or large enterprise, the server’s role can change over time and sometimes start fulfilling other services and responsibilities. Therefor, it’s important to reviewing a server’s resource load to help ensure the organization improves performance and avoids downtime. 

    What do you do when your servers are obsolete and ready to be retired? Unfortunately, server upgrades aren’t as easy as just dropping in more RAM, they require extensive planning. 

    The server is essentially the backbone of a businesses’ IT functionality. Acquiring and installing a new server is a large undertaking for any business. Choosing the correct server is important to the value of an organization’s future.

    So, what should you consider when it’s time to upgrade? To make matters a little easier, we’ve put together a list of 14 things to consider when upgrading your servers to ensure your organization’s systems perform at the highest levels.

    Does it fit your needs?

    First, let’s make sure that the new server is able to meet your organization’s IT needs. Determine the necessary requirements, compile this information, and work from there.

    Is integration possible?

    Check if you are able to integrate sections of your existing server into the new server. This could potentially save money on new technology and provide a level of consistency in terms of staff knowledge on the existing technology. Upgrading doesn’t mean that you need to throw your old equipment in the trash.

    What are the costs?

    Once you understand the performance requirements, the next step is to gauge which servers meet this most closely. Technology can be very expensive, so you shouldn’t pay for any technology that won’t be of use to your organization’s output.

    What maintenance is involved?

    Even the most current technology needs to be maintained and any length of downtime could be disastrous for an organization. Ensure that some form of maintenance cover is put in place. Usually, there is a warranty included, but it comes with an expiration date. Make sure you ask about extended warranty options if they’re available.

    What about future upgrades?

    Considering the future is critical when it comes to working with new technology. The fast pace at which technology develops means that you may need to consider growing your server a lot sooner than you expected. 

    Do you have a data backup?

    Never make any changes or upgrades to a server, no matter how minor, without having a data backup. When a server is powered down, there is no guarantee that it will come back online. 

    Should you create an image backup?

    Manufacturers tend to offer disk cloning technologies that streamline recovering servers should a failure occur. Some provide a universal restore option that allows you to recover a failed server. When upgrades don’t go as expected, disk images can help recover not only data but a server’s complex configuration.

    How many changes are you making to your servers?

    Don’t make multiple changes all at once. Adding disks, replacing memory, or installing additional cards should all be performed separately. If things go wrong a day or two after the changes are made, the process of isolating the change responsible for the error is much easier, than doing a myriad of changes all at once. If only a single change is executed, it’s much easier to track the source of the problem.

    Are you monitoring your logs?

    After a server upgrade is completed, never presume all is well just because the server booted back up without displaying errors. Monitor log files, error reports, backup operations, and other critical events. Leverage Windows’ internal performance reports to ensure all is performing as intended whenever changes or upgrades are completed.

    Did you confirm the OS you are running?

    It’s easy to forget the operating system a server is running. By performing a quick audit of the system to be upgraded, you can confirm the OS is compatible and will be able to use the additional resources being installed.

    Does the chassis support the upgrade?

    Server hardware can be notoriously inconsistent. Manufacturers often change model numbers and product designs. Whenever installing additional resources, you should read the manufacturer’s technical specifications before purchasing the upgrades.

    Did you double check that it will work?

    Whenever upgrading new server hardware, don’t automatically think the new hardware will plug-and-play well with the server’s operating system. Since the upgrade is being completed on a server, confirm the component is listed on the OS vendor’s hardware compatibility list. It doesn’t hurt to check the server manufacturer’s forums either.

    Does the software need an update?

    Make sure to keep up on any upgrades requiring software adjustments. You must also update a server’s virtual memory settings following a memory upgrade. 

    Did you get the most value for your money?

    Sure, less expensive disks, RAM, power supplies, and other resources are readily available. But when it comes to servers only high-quality components should be installed. While these items may cost a bit more than others, the performance and uptime benefits more than compensate for any additional expense.

    FEATURED

    DTC – Clients

    DTC works with some of the biggest names in #business! We’re here to help. Give our sales team a call today and get your #data on the right track! P: 1-800-700-7683

     

    #Fortune500 #Software #Sports #Food #Beverage #Hospitality #Entertainment #Healthcare #Retail #Education #Energy #Development

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    Using IT to Help First Responders Save Lives

    Using IT to Help First Responders Save Lives

    Imagine sitting in rush hour traffic on Friday afternoon and you see an ambulance approaching in your rear-view mirror with it’s lights flashing. Surely you assume there must be an accident ahead, but what if it were a relative on their way to the hospital?

    The question you ask yourself is, “how is there not a better way?” With all of the emerging technology these days, there certainly has to be something to help those who need it most.

    Low and behold smart cities. Smart cities are the trend of the future, and the technologies that empower them are likely to become a $135 billion market by 2021.

    For first responders, the likelihood of smart traffic lights is a pleasant change. By operating with GPS technology in emergency response vehicles, smart traffic lights can help first responders avoid traffic jams and significantly reduce response times.

    Even better is the sensors that can check the structural integrity of buildings, bridges, and roads can increase safety by identifying problems before they cause an accident. Such preventative maintenance can help cities avoid the costs associated with minor injuries to major and fatal accidents.

    What could go wrong?

    Strategically placed sensors have the potential to improve safety in a multitude of ways. However, city officials are justly concerned that the massive amounts of data collected might not be useful as well as overburdening current systems to their limit.

    There are two main obstacles standing between city officials and smart city adoption. The first problem is the issue of integrating new technologies within existing systems, and the second problem is figuring out how to ensure the implemented sensors collect beneficial data.

    The Apple Watch is terrific example of how technology can be both helpful and harmful. The ability of the Apple Watch to distinguish between a “fall” and a “drop” could be more than the health-care system bargained for. One could say that the technology has the potential to save lives, especially the elderly.

    On the other hand, in the chance of a malfunction, the sensors could create an excessive number of 911 calls when they aren’t actually needed. With possibly millions of the devices in a densely populated city, it’s easy to see how the issue could escalate consume emergency call centers with false alarms.

    IoT advantages

    In spite of the complexities with integration, the cities that do transition to smart cities stand to benefit greatly. A network of connected sensors and devices can reduce the severity of accidents or eliminate them entirely. For instance, Tesla has installed sensors that intelligently avoid impacting other cars.

    Recently the city of Corona, CA migrated to a smart city. They’ve implemented sensors can also provide an incredibly rich picture of what’s happening. Many of the most revolutionary technologies have yet to be invented, but the data gathered by these tools is already helping city officials use their resources more effectively.

    For example, officers can distribute Amber Alert information to an entire population, and apps like Waze show transportation officials valuable traffic data so they can reduce bottlenecks. A smart watch might be able to give paramedics vitals of their patients before they even arrive on the scene. No matter the city, smart tech has the potential to improve safety, efficiency and quality of life for residents.

    FEATURED

    Features of LTO Technology over the Years

    Linear Tape Open or better known as (LTO) Ultrium is a high-capacity, single-reel tape storage created and frequently improved by HPE, IBM and Quantum. LTO tape is a powerful yet scalable tape format that helps address the growing demands of data protection.

    PROVIDING GROWTH FOR GENERATIONS.

    Originally introduced at the turn of the new millennium, LTO technology is currently in its 8th generation out of a proposed twelve generations. LTO-8 supports storage capacity of up to 30 TB compressed, twice that of the previous generation LTO-7, and data transfer rates of up to 750MB/second. New generations of LTO storage have been launched consistently with higher capacity and transfer rates along with new features to further protect enterprise data. Furthermore, LTO storage is designed for backward compatibility meaning it can write back one generation and read back two generations of tape. Currently, LTO-8 Ultrium drives are able to read and write LTO -7 and LTO-8 media, ensuring the data storage investment.

    WORM

    LTO technology highlights a write-once, read-many (WORM) ability to make certain that your data isn’t overwritten and supports compliance regulations. The LTO WORM operation is designed to give users a very cost-effective means of storing data in a non-rewriteable format. With the increasing importance of regulatory compliance — including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), and SEC Rule 17-a-4(f) — there is a need for a cost-effective storage solution that can ensure security of corporate data in an permanent format. LTO WORM contains algorithms using the Cartridge Memory (CM), in combination with low level encoding that is mastered on the tape media to prevent tampering.

     

    Encryption

    LTO technology features robust encryption capabilities to heighten security and privacy during storage and transport of tape cartridges. Sadly, it seems like a common occurrence now when a company suffers a breach in security and endangers confidential or private information. Fortunately, recent generation LTO tape drives include one of the strongest encryption capabilities available in the industry to help safeguard the most vulnerable data stored on tape cartridges. LTO tape encryption is specific to all LTO generations since generation 4 (LTO-4). It features a 256-symmetric key AES-GCM algorithm that is implemented at the drive level. This facilitates compression before encryption to maximize tape capacities and deliver high performance during backup. With a rising number of laws and regulations and financial penalties, a security breach can be damaging for corporations. Data managers are called upon to develop effective security for sensitive data and are turning to tape encryption.

     

    Partitioning

    More modern generations of LTO technology include a partitioning feature, which help to enhance file control and space management with the Linear Tape File System (LTFS).

    Beginning with the 5th generation (LTO-5), LTO technology specifications consist of a partitioning feature that allows for a new standard in ease-of-use and portability.

    Partitioning allows for a section of the tape to be set aside for indexing, which tells the drive exactly where in the tape a file is stored.  The second partition holds the actual file.  With LTFS, the indexing information is first read by the drive and presented in a simple, easy-to-use format that allows for “drag and drop” capabilities, similar to a thumb drive.

    FEATURED

    Why Your Data Storage Strategy Should Include Tape

    As most businesses utilize the latest in flash and cloud storage technologies to keep up with extensive data growth, tape technology continues to thrive. The decades-old storage platform has continued to be remarkably dependable throughout the multiple innovations in storage equipment. In fact, tape still offers numerous benefits when it comes to backup, archival and other mass storage of data.

     

    Tape’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

     

    The cost per gigabyte of tape storage is less than a penny compared to about three cents for hard disk storage, according to Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). In the long run, tape is also less expensive than cloud storage. The hardware, software, and operational costs are all more costly with other forms of data storage technologies. Additionally, tape has a smaller footprint and uses considerably less power than disk. ESG found that in a 10-year total cost of ownership (TCO) study, an LTO tape solution cost just 14% as much as an all-disk infrastructure, and 17% as much as a hybrid disk/cloud storage solution.

     

    The Density of LTO Tape Technology

     

    One of tape’s key value propositions is its density. The most recent release of Linear Tape Open (LTO) Ultrium 8 technology provides capacity of up to 30TB of compressed storage.

     

    The Lifespan of Data Stored on Tape

     

    Yet another major benefit of tape is its longevity of data storage. LTO tape media has a lifespan of 30 years or more, with the average tape drive lasting nearly 10 years. In contrast, the average disk storage lasts roughly four years. ESG conducted a lab audit of LTO-8 drives and found them to be more reliable than disk.

     

    The Ever-Increasing Speed of LTO Tape

     

    There are still several people that hold to the belief that tape is much too slow to be useful in today’s rapidly evolving IT environment. However, the increases in storage speeds over the 8 generations of LTO tape hasn’t been seen by any other storage solutions. For instance, LTO-7 provides compressed data transfer rates of up to 750MB per second, that’s more than 2.7TB per hour, compared to the 80MB per second of LTO-3 which was released only ten years prior.

     

    Data Tape Software

     

    Not only had tape increased in density and speed over the years, tape has also gotten smarter. Linear Tape File System (LTFS) allows tape data to be read as just another drive on a network. Users can drag and drop files to tape and can see a list of saved files using an operating system directory. LTFS is an open standard supported by LTO drives from any manufacturer. By making it possible to maneuver files on tape just as you would with disk, LTFS allows organizations to use tape for more than backup and archival. Tape becomes part of an “active” archival infrastructure in which data can be moved to the most cost-effective storage tier at any time. As a result, tape is increasingly used for audio/video and surveillance data, and in big data and regulatory compliance use cases.

     

    The Future of LTO

     

    LTO technology continues to improve. The LTO Consortium recently finalized the LTO-9 specification and announced plans for the development through 12 generations of the storage technology. LTO-9 is slated for release in Fall 2020. IBM introduced a tape drive based upon the most advanced LTO-8, which offers compressed capacity of up to 30TB (12TB native) and compressed data transfer rates of up to 900MB per second (360MB per second native). The drive comes with AME and AES-256 encryption and write-one-read-many (WORM) capabilities for data protection and is compatible with LTO-7 media.

     

    Tape as a lower cost, portable, and simple to use storage solution has always made it a fantastic choice for long-term archival backup. LTO innovations over the past decade have produced unparalleled increases in capacity and greatly superior economics compared to other storage technologies on the market.

    FEATURED

    NCSAM WEEK 4 ; The Future of Internet Connected Devices

    A decade ago, the average household would not be able to answer their front door from miles away via a smartphone, or order dinner by simply speaking to a small box. These things may have been customary in Hollywood spy films, but now they can be found in nearly every home across America. These internet connected devices are what is known as the Internet of Things.

     

    The internet world is flourishing. It’s not just about computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones anymore. There are now thousands of devices that are internet-connected. The list of devices has grown to washing machines, robotic vacuum cleaners, door locks, toys, and toasters. Because all of these devices are connected to one another through the internet, we must be more aware of these devices and their settings to protect our data and our privacy.

    New Internet-connected devices provide a never before seen level of convenience in our lives, but they also require that we share more information than ever. The cars we drive, appliances we use to cook, our watches we use to tell time, the lighting in our homes, and even our home security systems, all contain sensing devices that can talk to another machine and trigger other actions. We have devices that direct that control the amount of energy we use in our homes and the energy in our bodies by tracking eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.

    The security of the information users share with these devices is not always guaranteed. Once the device itself connects to the Internet, it is vulnerable to all sorts of risks. It is important than ever that we secure our devices, with more entering our homes and workplaces each day.

    Upgrading your organizations network devices is easier than ever with DTC

    Future Predictions about Internet Connected Devices

     

    There will be more than to 21 billion IoT devices by 2025.

    In 2016, there were more than 4.7 billion devices connected to the internet, and by 2021 it is expected to increase to nearly 11.6 billion devices.

    There will be more “smart” cities.

    Household consumers aren’t the only ones that use the power of internet connected devices. Cities and companies are also adopting smart technologies to save both time and money. Cities are able to automate, remotely manage, and collect data through things like visitor kiosks, video camera surveillance systems, bike rental stations, and taxis.

    See how some cities are using AI to help crisis management

    Artificial intelligence (AI) will keep growing

    Smart home hubs, thermostats, lighting systems, and even TVs collect data on your habits and patterns of usage. When users set up voice-controlled devices, the allow them to record what is said and store the recordings in the cloud. The data is collected in the creation of what is known as machine learning. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that helps computers “learn” without someone having to program them. 

    Network routers become more secure and smarter

    Most internet connected devices exist in the home and don’t have security software installed, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. As manufacturers rush to get their products to market in a rapid manner, security becomes an afterthought. 

    The router is the entry point of the internet and gate keeper into your home, giving it the ability to provide protection to all of the connected devices. A conventional router provides some security, like password protection, firewalls, and the ability to allow only certain devices on your network. In the future, router manufacturers will continue to find new ways to increase security.

    5G Networks Will Drive IoT Growth

    Wireless carriers will continue to implement 5G (fifth generation) networks, promising increased speed and the ability connect more smart devices at the same time. Faster network speeds translate into increased data collected by your smart devices to be analyzed and managed, driving innovation and growth. 

    Cars Will Continue to Get Smarter

    The emergence of 5G will impact the auto industry like never before. The development of driverless cars and internet connected vehicles will advance from data moving faster. New cars will increasingly analyze your data and connect with other IoT devices, including other high-tech vehicles on the road.

    5G Connected Devices Will Open the Door to New Security Concerns

    Eventually, 5G internet connected devices will connect directly to the 5G network than via a Wi-Fi router, making those devices more vulnerable to direct attack. Devices will be more difficult for in-home users to secure when they bypass a central router.

     

    For more information on CyberSecurity & how to be #CyberSmart, visit the CISA website today:

    Click Here: https://www.cisa.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month

    Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare

    Now more than ever, the healthcare industry is depending on internet-connected devices to improve patient care, organizational productivity, response time, and patient confidentiality. With the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the development of telemedicine and patient portal apps has come to the forefront in the industry. Along with digital health records and internet-connected medical devices, the healthcare industry has also never been more vulnerable to a cyber-attack.

    As the global epidemic spread across the nation, doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals such as therapists were forced to rely on online visits with their patients. The increase in virtual appointments also brings new concerns of patient confidentiality. Patients want to know how safe is the information shared during these online visits. Are cybercriminals able to steal their personal information? Unfortunate, the answer is yes. The healthcare industry is vulnerable just as is any other industry. However, there are steps healthcare providers can take to protect patient privacy during virtual visits.

    Read more about how we help the healthcare industry with their IT needs.

    What are the privacy risks associated with internet connected healthcare?

    With virtual visits becoming more common place, cyber criminals are licking their chops. Hackers look to take advantage of these opportunities by stealing the private medical and billing information of patients. Cybercriminals could try intercepting emails or video chats with information about preexisting conditions or personal problems you may be having. Once the information is obtained, they could potentially sell it on the dark web, use it for blackmail, or sell it to drug manufacturers who overload customers with advertisements.

    Healthcare records are particularly valuable on black markets due to the information they contain can be used to steal your identity. The information they hold might consist of your birth date, Social Security number, medical conditions, height, weight, home address, and even a picture of you. Hackers can use this information to take out credit cards or loans in your name. 

    Providers may give their patients the option of ending their virtual visit by receiving health records through email or the medical provider’s online portal. Hackers may be able to steal the contents of your email messages or track the keystrokes you use to log onto your medical provider’s online portal. Just as medical providers are required to protect user information, so are all business entities. 

    Learn more about how we can help your business stay compliant.

    5 Ways to Secure Your Healthcare Connected Devices

    1. Control everything that connects into your network.  Managing network segmentation can help with risk mitigation and controlling a breach if one does occur. Network visibility is critical. And, in so many cases, the network acts as your key security mechanism to stop the spread of an attack. Network intelligence, scanners, and security solutions can all help reduce the risk of an attack or breach. 
    2. Create security based on context and layers. Your security platform must work for you and question devices coming in to really understand where they’re coming from. When it comes to IoT and connected devices, contextual security can help isolate IoT solutions to their own network. Set up policies to monitor anomalous behavior and even traffic patterns. Set up additional filters for extra security; like shutting the network segment down if there’s a sudden rise in traffic. 
    3. Centralize and segment connected devices. If you’re going to work with IoT and connected devices, create a separate network, monitor those devices properly, and set monitors to make sure you can manage all these connected tools and use IoT aggregation hubs that help further the control of devices. 
    4. Align users and the business when it comes to more connected devices in healthcare. Ensure there is complete alignment between business and IT leadership units. This is the best way to gain the most value out of these devices and ensure you don’t fall into an IoT device hole.
    5. Always test your systems and maintain visibility.  Never lose sight of your devices and build a good monitoring platform. The more things that connect into the network the harder it will be to monitor them all.

    A plan for guarding against ransomware in the healthcare industry

    So, what can hospitals, medical centers, dentists, and other healthcare providers do to guard against the threat of cyber-attack?  Here is a simple five-point plan that will go a long way to helping healthcare professionals secure their defenses.

    Stay up to date

    Make sure that servers and PCs are up to date with the latest operating systems and antivirus solutions.

     

    Retire unused IT assets

    Consider if older machines, which are beyond updates or support, could be replaced or retired. The cost of doing so, and inconvenience of replacing older equipment will probably be less than the impact of a data breach.

     

    Sell Your Retired IT Assets for Cash

     

    Educate employees

    Make sure everyone in the organization is familiar with ransomware methods and can recognize attempts to gain password credentials or circulate harmful links and attachments. Hospitals employ so many different and diverse professionals, covering a multitude of functions, that there needs to be a culture of vigilance across the entire organization.

     

    Be prepared for an attack

    Use different credentials for accessing backup storage and maybe even a mixture of file systems to isolate different parts of your infrastructure to slow the spread of ransomware. Healthcare organizations that follow the “1-10-60” rule of cybersecurity will be better placed to neutralize the threat of a hostile adversary before it can leave its initial entry point. The most cyber-prepared healthcare agencies should aim to detect an intrusion in under a minute, perform a full investigation in under 10 minutes, and eradicate the adversary from the environment in under an hour.

     

    Create an Airgap

    Three copies of your data, on at least two different media, with one stored offsite (e.g. cloud or tape) and one stored offline (e.g. tape). Having your data behind a physical air gap creates perhaps the most formidable barrier against ransomware. Tape can greatly speed up your recovery in the hours and days that follow an attack, especially if your primary backups have been disrupted. Tape is also supremely efficient for storing huge amounts of infrequently accessed medical records for a very long time. Tapes can also be encrypted so that even if they did fall into the wrong hands, it would be impossible for thieves to access or use the data.

     

    Learn more about how to create an Airgap

    NCSAM Week 2 ; Securing Devices at Home and Work

    Securing Devices at Home and Work

     

    According to a 2018 study by CNBC, there were over 70% of employees around the world working remotely at least one day per week. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have had to make full-time remote work an option just to stay in business. As full-time remote workers are progressively more common, there still aren’t many resources that focus on the cybersecurity risk created by working remotely.

    With the latest surge in working from home (WFH) employees, businesses are forced to rely on business continuity planning. This means that organizations must find ways to protect their customer’s sensitive data simultaneously granting workplace flexibility. Provided the current conditions we are all facing and in celebration of Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM), we thought we should share a few tips to help your business increase its cybersecurity.

    Security tips for the home, office and working from a home office

    Secure your working area

    The first and easiest piece of security advice would be to physically secure your workspace. Working remotely should be treated the same as working in the office, o you need to lock up when you leave. There have been way too many instances when laptops with sensitive data on them have been stolen from living rooms, home offices, and even in public settings such as coffee shops. Never leave your devices unattended and lock doors when you leave.

    See why laptop and home office security is so important. 

    Secure your router

    Cybercriminals take advantage of default passwords on home routers because it is not often changed, leaving any home network vulnerable. Change the router’s password from the default to something unique. You can also make sure firmware updates are installed so known vulnerabilities aren’t exploitable. 

    Use separate devices for work and personal

    It’s important to set separate restrictions between your work devices and home devices. At first it may seem like an unnecessary burden to constantly switch between devices throughout the day, but you never know if one has been compromised. Doing the same for your mobile devices, can decrease the amount of sensitive data exposed if your personal device or work device has been attacked.

    Encrypt the device you are using

    Encryption is the process of encoding information so only authorized parties can access it. If your organization hasn’t already encrypted its devices, it should. Encrypting the devices prevents strangers from accessing the contents of your device without the password, PIN, or biometrics. 

    Below is a way to encrypt devices with the following operating systems:

    • Windows: Turn on BitLocker.
    • macOS: Turn on FileVault.
    • Linux: Use dm-crypt or similar.
    • Android: Enabled by default since Android 6.
    • iOS: Enabled by default since iOS 8.

    Check that your operating system is supported and up to date.

    Usually, operating system developers only support the last few major versions, as supporting all versions is costly and the majority of users upgrade when told to do so. Unsupported operating systems no longer receive security patches, making your device and sensitive data at risk. If your device does not support the latest operating system, it may be time to look into updating the device.

    Here’s how to check if your operating system is still supported:

    • Windows: Check the Windows lifecycle fact sheet
    • macOS: Apple has no official policy for macOS. That said, Apple consistently supports the last three versions of macOS. So assuming Apple releases a new version of macOS each year, each release of macOS should be supported for roughly three years.
    • Linux: Most active distributions are well supported.
    • Android: Security updates target the current and last two major versions, but you may need to check that your manufacturer/carrier is sending the security patches to your device. 
    • iOS: Like macOS, Apple has no official policy for iOS but security updates generally target the most recent major version and the three prior. 

    Read more about Android security here

    Create a strong PIN/password only YOU know

    Everything mentioned prior to this won’t matter if you don’t use a strong password. A common tip for creating a strong password is to avoid using repeating numbers (000000), sequences (123456), or common passwords such as the word password itself.

    More tips on creating a strong password include:

    • Avoid using anything that is related to you
    • Avoid using your date of birth
    • Avoid using your license plate
    • Avoid using your home address
    • Avoid using any family members or pets’ names.

     

     A good pin/password should appear arbitrary to everyone except you. Consider investing in a password manager. A good password manager can help you create strong passwords and remember them, as well as share them with family members, employees, or friends securely. 

    Learn more about how to create a strong password

     Install antivirus software

    An antivirus software is a program that detects or recognizes a harmful computer virus and works on removing it from the computer system. Antivirus software operates as a preventive system so that it not only removes a virus but also counteracts any potential virus from infecting the device in the future.

    Authorize two-factor authentication

    Two-factor authentication is an authentication method where access is granted only after successfully presenting two pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism.  This method has been proven to reduce the risk of successful phishing emails and malware infections. Even if the cybercriminal is able to get your password, they are unable to login because they do not have the second piece of evidence.

    The first and most common evidence is a password. The second takes many forms but is typically a one-time code or push notification. There are several applications that can be used for two factor authentication such as Google Authenticator. 

    Erase data from any devices you plan to sell

    This should be the number one rule on any cybersecurity list. It is only a matter of time until your devices are obsolete, and it is time to upgrade. The one thing you don’t want is to have a data leak because you failed to properly erase the data from your device before selling or disposing of it. Returning the device to factory setting may not always be enough, as some hackers know how to retrieve the data that has been “erased”. Before doing anything, always remember to back up your data to multiple devices before clicking that “delete” button. 

    Consult with your operating system to see how to properly reset your device to factory settings. If you are certain you do not want the data on your device to be accessed ever again, we can help with that. Here is a list of data destruction services we provide:

    Security tips for employers handling a remote workforce

    Train employees on cybersecurity awareness

    As cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to bypass security controls to gain access to sensitive information, cybersecurity isn’t something that can just be taught once. It must be a continual learning and retention. Here are a few things that a business can teach their staff in order to help thwart a cyberattack:

    • Avoid malicious email attachments and other email-based scams
    • Identify domain hijacking
    • Use operations security on their social media accounts and public profiles 
    • Only install software if they need to 
    • Avoid installing browser plugins that come from unknown or unidentified developers

    Use a virtual private network (VPN)

    A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, enabling you to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if you are directly connected to the private network. They do this by establishing a secure and encrypted connection to the network over the internet and routing your traffic through that. This keeps you secure on public hotspots and allows for remote access to secure computing assets. 

    Microsoft’s Project Natick: The Underwater Data Center of the Future

    When you think of underwater, deep-sea adventures, what is something that comes to mind? Colorful plants, odd looking sea creatures, and maybe even a shipwreck or two; but what about a data center? Moving forward, under-water datacenters may become the norm, and not so much an anomaly. Back in 2018, Microsoft sunk an entire data center to the bottom of the Scottish sea, plummeting 864 servers and 27.6 petabytes of storage. After two years of sitting 117 feet deep in the ocean, Microsoft’s Project Natick as it’s known, has been brought to the surface and deemed a success.

    What is Project Natick?

     

    Microsoft’s Project Natick was thought up back in 2015 when the idea of submerged servers could have a significant impact on lowering energy usage. When the original hypothesis came to light, Microsoft it immersed a data center off the coast of California for several months as a proof of concept to see if the computers would even endure the underwater journey. Ultimately, the experiment was envisioned to show that portable, flexible data center placements in coastal areas around the world could prove to scale up data center needs while keeping energy and operation costs low. Doing this would allow companies to utilize smaller data centers closer to where customers need them, instead of routing everything to centralized hubs. Next, the company will look into the possibilities of increasing the size and performance of these data centers by connecting more than one together to merge their resources.

    What We Learned from Microsoft’s Undersea Experiment

    After two years of being submerged, the results of the experiment not only showed that using offshore underwater data centers appears to work well in regards to overall performance, but also discovered that the servers contained within the data center proved to be up to eight times more reliable than their above ground equivalents. The team of researchers plan to further examine this phenomenon and exactly what was responsible for this greater reliability rate. For now, steady temperatures, no oxygen corrosion, and a lack of humans bumping into the computers is thought to be the reason. Hopefully, this same outcome can be transposed to land-based server farms for increased performance and efficiency across the board.

    Additional developments consisted of being able to operate with more power efficiency, especially in regions where the grid on land is not considered reliable enough for sustained operation. It also will take lessons on renewability from the project’s successful deployment, with Natick relying on wind, solar, and experimental tidal technologies. As for future underwater servers, Microsoft acknowledged that the project is still in the infant stages. However, if it were to build a data center with the same capabilities as a standard Microsoft Azure it would require multiple vessels.

    Do your data centers need servicing?

    The Benefits of Submersible Data Centers

     

    The benefits of using a natural cooling agent instead of energy to cool a data center is an obvious positive outcome from the experiment. When Microsoft hauled its underwater data center up from the bottom of the North Sea and conducted some analysis, researchers also found the servers were eight time more reliable than those on land.

    The shipping container sized pod that was recently pulled from 117 feet below the North Sea off Scotland’s Orkney Islands was deployed in June 2018. Throughout the last two years, researchers observed the performance of 864 standard Microsoft data center servers installed on 12 racks inside the pod. During the experiment they also learned more about the economics of modular undersea data centers, which have the ability to be quickly set up offshore nearby population centers and need less resources for efficient operations and cooling. 

    Natick researchers assume that the servers benefited from the pod’s nitrogen atmosphere, being less corrosive than oxygen. The non-existence of human interaction to disrupt components also likely added to increased reliability.

    The North Sea-based project also exhibited the possibility of leveraging green technologies for data center operations. The data center was connected to the local electric grid, which is 100% supplied by wind, solar and experimental energy technologies. In the future, Microsoft plans to explore eliminating the grid connection altogether by co-locating a data center with an ocean-based green power system, such as offshore wind or tidal turbines.

    Celebrating National Cyber Security Awareness Month

    Celebrating National Cyber Security Awareness Month

     

    Every October since 2004, National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) is observed in the United States. Started by the National Cyber Security Division within the Department of Homeland Security and the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance, the NCSAM aims to spread awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. The National Cyber Security Alliance launched NCSAM as a large effort to improve online safety and security. Since 2009, the month has included an overall theme, for 2020 we celebrate “Do Your Part, #BeCyberSmart”. Weekly themes throughout the month were introduced in 2011. This year, our weekly themes will be as follows:

    • Week of October 5 (Week 1): If You Connect It, Protect It
    • Week of October 12 (Week 2): Securing Devices at Home and Work
    • Week of October 19 (Week 3): Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare
    • Week of October 26 (Week 4): The Future of Connected Devices

    If You Connect IT. Protect IT.

     

    October 1, 2020, marked the 17th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), reminding everyone of the role we all play in online safety and security at home and in the workplace. Brought forth by both the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), NCSAM is a joint effort between government and industry to make sure every American has the resources they need to stay safe and secure online. 

    To kick off National Cyber Security Awareness Month, here are some tips to stay say online:

    Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). This ensures that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use MFA for email, banking, social media and any other service that requires logging in.

    Use the longest password allowed. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passphrase for each of your accounts.

    Protect what you connect. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device or other network devices, the best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser and operating systems. 

    Limit what information you post on social media.  Cyber criminals look for everything, from personal addresses to your pet’s names. What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all cybercriminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers and passphrases private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address, birthday and even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are.

    Stay protected on public networks. Before you connect to any public Wi-Fi be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. Your personal hotspot is a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Also, only use sites that begin with “https://” when shopping or banking online.

    Introducing CISA, the Federal Governments Protection Against Cyber-Attacks

     

    On November 16, 2018, the United States Congress formed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to detect threats, quickly communicate the information and aid in defense of the nation’s critical infrastructure. The new federal agency was created through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2018, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump. That legislature made the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, reassigning all resources and responsibilities within. Before the bill was passed, the NPPD handled all of DHS’s cybersecurity-related affairs.

     

    Why the CISA was Formed

    In April 2015, IT workers at the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency that manages the government’s civilian workforce, discovered that some of its personnel files had been hacked. Sensitive personal data on 22 million current and former federal employees was stolen by suspected Chinese hackers. Among the sensitive data that was stolen, were millions of SF-86 forms, which contain extremely personal information collected in background checks for people requesting government security clearances, along with records of millions of people’s fingerprints. 

    In the wake of the massive data breach, it became even more evident that the Department of Homeland Security was not effectively positioned to respond to the growing threat of cyber-attacks, both foreign and domestic.  As more foreign invasions into U.S. IT infrastructure and other forms of cybersecurity attacks increased, industry experts demanded the creation of a new agency that would be more aligned to handle the issue of cyber security.

    DHS’s cybersecurity strategy, made public in May 2018, offered a strategic framework to carry out the government’s cybersecurity responsibilities during the following five years. The strategy highlighted a unified approach to managing risk and lending greater authority to the creation of a separate cybersecurity agency. Besides the need for a new approach to the nation’s cybersecurity threats, CISA was created to solve what security professionals and government officials frequently referred to as a “branding” problem DHS faced with NPPD. CISA would be a clear and focused federal agency.

    Learn more about the 2015 OPM Attack

    What Does CISA Do?

     

    In a nutshell, CISA is in charge of protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber-attacks. The agency’s mission is to build the national capacity to defend against cyber-attacks and to work with the federal government to provide cybersecurity tools, incident response services and assessment capabilities to safeguard the .gov networks that support the essential operations of partner departments and agencies. Below is a list of other responsibilities the CISA has undertaken as a newly formed federal agency:

    • Coordinate security and resilience efforts using trusted partnerships across the private and public sector
    • Deliver technical assistance and assessments to federal stakeholders as well as to infrastructure owners and operators nationwide
    • Enhance public safety interoperable communications at all levels of government 
    • Help partners across the country develop their emergency communications capabilities
    • Conducts extensive, nationwide outreach to support and promote the ability of emergency response providers and relevant government officials to continue to communicate in the event of a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster

    Visit the CISA official government page

    Who Leads the CISA?

     

    The CISA is made up of two core operations that are vital to the agency’s success. First, is the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), which delivers 24×7 cyber-situational awareness, analysis, incident response and cyber-defense capabilities to the federal government. The NCCIC operates on state, local, tribal, and territorial government levels; within the private sector; and with international partners. The second is the National Risk Management Center (NRMC), which is a planning, analysis and collaboration center working to identify and address the most significant risks to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

    The CISA is led by a team of eight highly respected and experienced team of individuals.

    • Director, Cybersecurity, and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Christopher C. Krebs 
    • Deputy Director, Matthew Travis 
    • Assistant Director for Cybersecurity, Bryan Ware 
    • Assistant Director (Acting) for Infrastructure Security, Steve Harris
    • Assistant Director, National Risk Management Center, Bob Kolasky 
    • Assistant Director (Acting) for Emergency Communications, Vincent DeLaurentis 
    • Assistant Director for Integrated Operations, John Felker
    • Assistant Director (Acting) for Stakeholder Engagement, Bradford Willke

    You can learn more about the CISA leadership team and their structure here.

    Cyber Insurance in the Modern World

    Yes, you read that correctly, cyber insurance is a real thing and it does exactly what is says. No, cyber insurance can’t defend your business from a cyber-attack, but it can keep your business afloat with secure financial support should a data security incident happen. Most organizations operate their business and reach out to potential customers via social media and internet-based transactions. Unfortunately, those modes of communication also serve as opportunities to cyber warfare. The odds are not in your favor, as cyberattacks are likely to occur and have the potential to cause serious losses for organizations both large and small. As part of a risk management plan, organizations regularly must decide which risks to avoid, accept, control or transfer. Transferring risk is where cyber insurance will pay massive dividends.

     

    What is Cyber Insurance?

    By definition, a cyber insurance policy, also known as cyber risk insurance (CRI) or cyber liability insurance coverage (CLIC), is meant to help an organization alleviate the risk of a cyber-related security breach by offsetting the costs involved with the recovery. Cyber insurance started making waves in 2005, with the total value of premiums projected to reach $7.5 billion by 2020. According to audit and assurance consultants PwC, about 33% of U.S. companies currently hold a cyber insurance policy. Clearly companies are feeling the need for cyber insurance, but what exactly does it cover? Dependent on the policy, cyber insurance covers expenses related to the policy holder as well as any claims made by third party casualties. 

    Below are some common reimbursable expenses:

    • Forensic Investigation: A forensics investigation is needed to establish what occurred, the best way to repair damage caused and how to prevent a similar security breach from happening again. This may include coordination with law enforcement and the FBI.
    • Any Business Losses Incurred: A typical policy may contain similar items that are covered by an errors & omissions policy, as well as financial losses experienced by network downtime, business disruption, data loss recovery, and reputation repair.
    • Privacy and Notification Services: This involves mandatory data breach notifications to customers and involved parties, and credit monitoring for customers whose information was or may have been violated.
    • Lawsuits and Extortion Coverage: This includes legal expenses related to the release of confidential information and intellectual property, legal settlements, and regulatory fines. This may also include the costs associated from a ransomware extortion.

    Like anything in the IT world, cyber insurance is continuously changing and growing. Cyber risks change often, and organizations have a tendency to avoid reporting the true effect of security breaches in order to prevent negative publicity. Because of this, policy underwriters have limited data on which to define the financial impact of attacks.

    How do cyber insurance underwriters determine your coverage?

     

    As any insurance company does, cyber insurance underwriters want to see that an organization has taken upon itself to assess its weaknesses to cyberattacks. This cyber risk profile should also show how the company and follows best practices by facilitating defenses and controls to protect against potential attacks. Employee education in the form of security awareness, especially for phishing and social engineering, should also be part of the organization’s security protection plan. 

    Cyber-attacks against all enterprises have been increasing over the years. Small businesses tend to take on the mindset that they’re too small to be worth the effort of an attack. Quite the contrary though, as Symantec found that over 30% of phishing attacks in 2015 were launched against businesses with under 250 employees. Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report indicated that 43% of all attacks in 2015 were targeted at small businesses.

    You can download the Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report here

    The Centre for Strategic and International Studies estimates that the annual costs to the global economy from cybercrime was between $375 billion and $575 billion, with the average cost of a data breach costing larger companies over $3 million per incident. Every organization is different and therefore must decide whether they’re willing to risk that amount of money, or if cyber insurance is necessary to cover the costs for what they potentially could sustain.

    As stated earlier in the article, cyber insurance covers first-party losses and third-party claims, whereas general liability insurance only covers property damage. Sony is a great example of when cyber insurance comes in handy. Sony was caught in the 2011 PlayStation hacker breach, with costs reaching $171M. Those costs could have been offset by cyber insurance had the company made certain that it was covered prior.

    The cost of cyber insurance coverage and premiums are based on an organization’s industry, type of service they provided, they’re probability of data risks and exposures, policies, and annual gross revenue. Every business is very different so it best to consult with your policy provider when seeking more information about cyber-insurance.

    Snowflake IPO

    On September 16, 2020, history was made on the New York Stock Exchange. A software company named Snowflake (ticker: SNOW) made its IPO as the largest publicly traded software company, ever. As one of the most hotly anticipated listing in 2020, Snowflake began publicly trading at $120 per share and almost immediately jumped to $300 per share within a matter of minutes. With the never before seen hike in price, Snowflake also became the largest company to ever double in value on its first day of trading, ending with a value of almost $75 billion. 

    What is Snowflake?

    So, what exactly does Snowflake do? What is it that makes a billionaire investors like Warren Buffet and Marc Benioff jump all over a newly traded software company? It must be something special right? With all the speculation surrounding the IPO, it’s worth explaining what the company does. A simple explanation would be that Snowflake helps companies store their data in the cloud, rather than in on-site facilities. Traditionally, a company’s data is been stored on-premises on physical servers managed by that company. Tech giants like Oracle and IBM have led the industry for decades. Well, Snowflake is profoundly different. Instead of helping company’s store their data on-premises, Snowflake facilitates the warehousing of data in the cloud. But that’s not all. Snowflake has the capabilities of making the data queryable, meaning it simplifies the process for businesses looking to pull insights from the stored data. This is what sets Snowflake apart from the other data hoarding behemoths of the IT world. Snowflake discovered the secret to separating data storage from the act of computing the data. The best part is that they’ve done this before any of the other big players like Google, Amazon, or Microsoft. Snowflake is here to stay. 

    Snowflake’s Leadership

    Different than Silicon Valley’s tech unicorns of the past, Snowflake was started in 2012 by three data base engineers. Backed by venture capitalists and one VC firm that wishes to remain anonymous, Snowflake is currently led by software veteran, Frank Slootman. Before taking the reigns at Snowflake, Slootman had great success leading Data Domain and Service Now. He grew Data Domain from just a twenty-employee startup venture to over $1 billion in sales and a $2.4 billion acquisition sale to EMC. I think it’s safe to say that Snowflake is in the right hands, especially if it has any hopes of maturing into its valuation.

    Snowflake’s Product Offering

    We all know that Snowflake isn’t the only managed data warehouse in the industry. Both Amazon Web Service’s (AWS) Redshift and Google Cloud Platform’s (GCP) BigQuery are very common alternatives. So there had to be something that set Snowflake apart from the competition. It’s a combination of flexibility, service, and user interface. With a database like Snowflake, two pieces of infrastructure are driving the revenue model: storage and computing. Snowflake takes the responsibility of storing the data as well as ensuring the data queries run fast and smooth. The idea of splitting storage and computing in a data warehouse was unusual when Snowflake launched in 2012. Currently, there are query engines like Presto that solely exist just to run queries with no storage included. Snowflake offers the advantages of splitting storage and queries: stored data is located remotely on the cloud, saving local resources for the load of computing data. Moving storage to the cloud delivers lower cost, has higher availability, and provides greater scalability.  

     

    Multiple Vendor Options

    A majority of companies have adopted a multi-cloud as they prefer not to be tied down to a single cloud provider.  There’s a natural hesitancy to choose options like BigQuery that are subject to a single cloud like Google. Snowflake offers a different type of flexibility, operating on AWS, Azure, or GCP, satisfying the multi-cloud wishes of CIOs. With tech giants battling for domination of the cloud, Snowflake is in a sense the Switzerland of data warehousing. 

    Learn more about a multi-cloud approach

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    Snowflake as a Service

    When considering building a data warehouse, you need to take into account the management of the infrastructure itself. Even when farming out servers to a cloud provider, decisions like the right size storage, scaling to growth, and networking hardware come into play. Snowflake is a fully managed service. This means that users don’t need to worry about building any infrastructure at all. Just put your data into the system and query it. Simple as that. 

    While fully managed services sound great, it comes at a cost. Snowflake users need to be deliberate about storing and querying their data as fully managed services are pricey. If deciding whether to build or buy your data warehouse, it would be wise to compare Snowflake ownership’s total cost to building something themselves.

     

    Snowflake’s User Interface and SQL Functionality

    Snowflake’s UI for querying and exploring tables is as easy on the eyes as it to use. Their SQL functionality is also a strong touching point. (Structured Query Language) is the programming language that developers and data scientists use to query their databases. Each database has slightly different details, wording, and structure. Snowflake’s SQL seems to have collected the best from all of the database languages and added other useful functions. 

     

    A Battle Among Tech Giants

    As the proverb goes, competition creates reason for caution. Snowflake is rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s largest companies, including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. While Snowflake has benefited from an innovative market advantage, the Big Three are catching up quickly by creating comparable platforms.

    However, Snowflake is dependent on these competitors for data storage. They’ve only has managed to thrive by acting as “Switzerland”, so customers don’t have to use just one cloud provider. As more competition enters the “multicloud” service industry, nonalignment can be an advantage, but not always be possible. Snowflake’s market share is vulnerable as there are no clear barriers to entry for the industry giants, given their technical talent and size. 

    Snowflake is just an infant in the public eye and we will see if it sinks or swims over the next year or so. But with brilliant leadership, a promising market, and an extraordinary track record, Snowflake may be much more than a one hit wonder. Snowflake may be a once in a lifetime business.

    HPE vs Dell: The Battle of the Servers

    When looking at purchasing new servers for your organization, it can be a real dilemma deciding which to choose. With so many different brands offering so many different features, the current server industry may seem a bit saturated to some. Well this article does the hard work for you. We’ve narrowed down the list of server manufacturers to two key players: Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE). WE will help you with your next purchase decision by comparing qualities and features of each, such as: customer support, dependability, overall features, and cost. These are some of the major items to consider when investing in a new server. So, let’s begin.

    Customer Support – Dell

    The most beneficial thing regarding Dell customer support is that the company doesn’t require a paid support program to download any updates or firmware. Dell Prosupport is considered in the IT world as one of the more consistently reliable support programs in the industry. That being said, rumors have been circulating that Dell will soon be requiring a support contract for downloads in the future. 

    You can find out more about Dell Prosupport here.

    Customer Support – HPE

    Unlike Dell, HPE currently requires businesses to have a support contract to download any new firmware or updates. It can be tough to find support drivers and firmware through HP’s platform even if you do have a contract in place. HPE’s website is a bit challenging to use in regard to finding information on support in general. On a brighter note, the support documentation provided is extremely thorough, and those with know-how can find manuals for essentially any thing you need. Though, by creating an online account through HPE‘s website one can gain access to HPE‘s 24/7 support, manage future orders, and the ability to utilize the HPE Operational Support Services experience. 

    Customer Support Winner: Dell

    Dependability – Dell

    I’ll be the first to say that I’m not surprised whenever I hear about Dell servers running for years on end without any issues. Dell has always been very consistent as far as constantly improving their servers. Dell is the Toyota of the server world.

    Dependability – HPE

    Despite the reliability claims made for HPE’s superdome, apollo, and newer Proliant line of servers, HPE is known to have faults within the servers. In fact, a survey done mid-2017, HP Proliant’s had about 2.5x as much downtime as dell Poweredge servers. However, HPE does do a remarkable job with prognostic alerts for parts that are deemed to fail, giving businesses a n opportunity to repair or replace parts before they experience a down time.

    Dependability Winner: Dell

    Out of Band Management Systems

    In regard to Out of Band Management systems, HPE’s system is known as Integrated Lights-Out (iLO), and Dell’s system is known as Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC). In the past there were some major differences between the two, but currently the IPMI implementations don’t differ enough to be a big determining factor. Both systems now provide similar features, such as HTML5 support. However, here are a few differences they do have.

    Out of Band Management Systems – Dell

    Dell’s iDRAC has progressed quite a bit in recent years. After iDRAC 7, java is no longer needed, yet the Graphic User Interface is not quite as nice as the one. iDRAC uses a physical license, which can be purchased on the secondary market and avoid being locked in again with the OEM after end of life. Updates are generally a bit longer with iDrac.

    Out of Band Management Systems – HPE

    HPE’s ILO advanced console requires a license, buy the standard console is included. Using the advanced console can ultimately lock you in with the OEM if your servers go to end of life. Unfortunately, they can’t be purchased on the secondary market. Although, it’s been noted that you only have to purchase one product key because the advanced key can be reused on multiple servers, this is against HPE’s terms of service. Generally, the GUI with ILO advanced appears more natural and the platform seems quicker.

    Out of Band Management Systems Winner: HPE

    Cost of Initial Investment- Dell

    Price flexibility is almost nonexistent when negotiating with Dell, however with bigger, repeat customers Dell has been known to ease into more of a deal. In the past Dell was seen as being the more affordable option, but the initial cost of investment is nearly identical now. With Dell typically being less expensive, it tends to be the preference of enterprise professionals attempting to keep their costs low to increase revenue. Simply put, Dell is cheaper because it is so widely used, and everyone uses it because it’s more cost effective.

    Cost of Initial Investment- HPE

    HPE is generally more open to price negotiation, even though opening quotes are similar to Dell. Just like everything in business, your relationship with the vendor will be a much greater factor in determining price. Those that order in large quantities, more frequently, will usually have the upper hand in negotiations. That being said, HPE servers tend to be a little more expensive on average. When cost is not a factor, HPE leans to be the choice where long-term performance is the more important objective. HPE servers are supported globally through a number of channels. Due to the abundance of used HPE equipment in the market, replacement parts are fairly easy to come by. HPE also offer a more thorough documentation system, containing manuals for every little-known part HPE has ever made. HPE is enterprise class, whereas Dell is business class.

    Cost of Initial Investment Winner: Tie

    The Decisive Recap

    When it really comes down to it, HPE and Dell are both very similar companies with comparable features. When assessing HPE vs Dell servers, there is no winner. There isn’t a major distinction between the companies as far as manufacturing quality, cost, or dependability. Those are factors that should be weighed on a case by case basis.

    If you’re planning on replacing your existing hardware, sell your old equipment o us! We’d love to help you sell your used servers.

    You can start by sending us a list of equipment you want sell. Not only do we buy used IT Equipment, we also offer the following services:

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