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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:

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

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

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

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:

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



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 that 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 application 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.

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.

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