End User internet security

Alphabet attacks

Following my last post which was on security I was sat in the Timico NOC today and interestingly watched a SPAM attack in progress.

It was an alphabet attack. This is one where someone’s email server is compromised and used to send out SPAM by rotating through the alphabet for email addresses (eg [email protected] – the SPAM algorithm works its way through every combination of alphabetical variants. In this case it was targetting Italian .it addresses.

Our network monitoring picked it up and we immediately blacklisted/shut down access to that Exchange mail server. We also contacted the customer to let him know and so that he could take remedial action and remove the offending SPAM.

Apart from being interesting to watch it in action, a bit like standing on the edge of a battlefield watching the fighting, it again highlighted the need to have secure passwords. In this case we tried accessing the offending server and were able to log on using a simple admin/password combination of credentials.

When I started this blog I didn’t think that security would become such a mainstream subject but I was wrong

Engineer servers

Virtual Server Virtuosity

At Timico we recently installed a complete network solution for a customer in the UK. The requirement included installation of a domain controller, file and print server, Microsoft Exchange 2007, Microsoft SQL server various databases and for their document management system and a Citrix ZenApp for home workers to run the document management system remotely.

The company also needed to store lots of documents. They have a paperless office and all documents are scanned in by the document management system which required a redundant Storage Area Network (SAN).

100% uptime or as near to this as possible was also wanted but this came in tandem with a fairly tight budget which isn’t always consistent with high reliability.

The architecture that the Timico team came up with involved running all servers and the SAN in a virtualised environment. In this way the design challenge could be met by using only two physical servers called nodes that provided a fully load balanced and virtually clustered redundant solution.

By doing it this way we saved rackspace (5U) and power and 2 servers – we would otherwise have been looking at a pair of virtual servers and a pair of SAN servers.

Did it work? In the first week a hardware problem caused one of the 2 server nodes to temporarily fail. This was picked up by Timico’s monitoring desk but the customer, however, did not notice or experience any loss of service.

I’m Virtually Certain that this is the way forward.