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  • From Zero to Protected in 15 Minutes with Cisco Umbrella

    From Zero to Protected in 15 Minutes with Cisco Umbrella

    March 5th, 2020
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    Cisco Umbrella might just provide the fastest Mean Time to Value of just about any IT security solution on the market. That’s because you can go from entirely unprotected to enjoying the security shield of Cisco Umbrella’s DNS security platform in as little as 15 minutes. In fact, it could be even faster if your environment is already using the free, publicly accessible Cisco Umbrella DNS resolvers (208.67.220.220 & 208.67.222.222), which many administrators configure by default on domain servers and Internet edge routers.

    So, let’s say you’ve gotten a trial or purchased licenses for Umbrella. What happens from there?

    Activating Your Account

    Initially, you will get a welcome email. If you have registered for an Umbrella trial, it will look like Initially, you will get a welcome email. If you have registered for an Umbrella trial, it will look like the image below. If you purchased your Umbrella licenses outright or signed up for monthly Umbrella service through a Managed Services Provider (like High Availability), your email may look a little different.

    Click the “Activate” button in the email, and you’ll be taken to the Umbrella Dashboard portal to finish registering your account:

    Create a password and hit Submit. Let’s be good security practitioners – use a unique, complex password for every website! We won’t cover it here, but you can enable your Umbrella account for 2-Factor Authentication later on – and you should! You’ll be taken to the Umbrella login page. Enter your new credentials and LOG IN.

    Basic SetupOnce you’re logged in to your new account, you’ll immediately be presented with a wizard to help you get started! In Umbrella’s terms, a “Network” is a type of Identity, which is a way to identify your users and devices to Umbrella. Identities can be a public IP address range, an internal LAN subnet, an Active Directory user or group, a mobile device, or a roaming computer. The “Network” identity is basically a public IP range that DNS traffic belonging to your organization will originate from. This might be the IP address of your firewall or another IP block assigned by your ISP. You’ll want to identify the correct IP block (subnet address as well as prefix length) before proceeding. In this wizard, you’ll set up your first Umbrella Network. Enter a label for the network (maybe it’s “Headquarters” or “Philadelphia” or whatever else – you can change it later), and then enter the public IP prefix that DNS traffic from this site will originate from. If you’re using IPv6, use the appropriate radio button in the wizard to enable those addresses as well.

    When you’ve filled out the network details, click Next.

    Next, Umbrella will prompt you to download the Umbrella Roaming Client for your operating system. You can do that now, or you can click Next. This blog won’t be going into the Roaming Client deployment, and you can always download it later.

    And that’s it! Well, that’s it for the setup of your initial Network Identity. We have just a couple of other quick tasks to get Umbrella protecting our network. For now, click “Start Using Cisco Umbrella.”

    You’ll be taken to the Umbrella Dashboard. This view shows you an overview of everything going on with your Umbrella account. Navigation is on the left-hand side.Sending DNS Traffic to UmbrellaBut wait! We aren’t protected yet! If we open a browser and go to a nefarious website like http://www.internetbadguys.com (OK, that’s actually a test site run by Umbrella, and it’s not dangerous to go to for testing!), we see that we can reach the site. Umbrella isn’t protecting us yet. ?

    What did we miss? Well, we need to actually forward all of our site’s DNS traffic up to Umbrella so it can check it against the security and content-filtering policies and respond appropriately. Now, it’s possible you’re already using the Cisco Umbrella (or OpenDNS as it used to be called) DNS servers, 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220, as your upstream DNS resolvers on your router or Active Directory servers. If so, then you’re already sending your traffic to Umbrella, and just by identifying your Network in the Umbrella dashboard, you are ready to apply policy. But for this example, let’s assume we did not have the Umbrella servers as our DNS resolvers yet. This step of the configuration will vary depending on your environment. If you use AD servers for your internal DNS resolution, you will need to update them with the Umbrella DNS servers. In my test environment, I’m using a Meraki MX firewall, which conveniently has a preset for Umbrella. Just select that and save the change, and now clients in my network will be assigned the Umbrella servers as their DNS resolvers. In this case, the change won’t take effect until the next DHCP lease renewal, but if you assign an internal server like an AD server and redirect that DNS server to use Umbrella, the change is instant.

    Once this change is made, trying the Umbrella test site nets us the desired result ?The last step in the DNS traffic flow configuration is preventing anything on our network from side-stepping Umbrella by reaching out directly to another DNS server. This requires setting up additional outbound restrictions on your border firewall to prevent DNS traffic to other destinations besides Umbrella. Note that this particular step may be something you want to implement gingerly to avoid clobbering something that had a hard-coded public DNS resolver for a reason or something like that. I show the final state configuration here, but you may need to start with a slightly more lenient policy and lock it down after some monitoring.And that's done! Now all DNS traffic from our environment is flowing to Cisco Umbrella, which is identifying it based on source public IP prefix and applying a DNS security policy per our Dashboard settings. Policy TuningAt this point, after just a couple minutes of work, we have Cisco Umbrella providing basic security protections to our network via DNS security, because the default Umbrella policy includes blocking major security threats. If we return to the Dashboard and go to the Policy configuration, we see the default policy. You can add multiple policies for differentiated treatment, but that’s future tuning.If we click “Edit” on the Security Setting Applied area, we will see our default security policy. Clicking the Edit button within the security policy would allow us to enable or disable different security categories. The default provides a baseline level of protection, enabling other categories will increase security with a possible increase of false positives, but you can tune these based on your organization’s security posture.After adjusting our Security policy, we can go back to the Policy overview and drill into our Content Filtering policy. Here the default is not to do any content-based blocking, but as an example, I show selecting the preconfigured “Low” level of restriction and applying it. Each of the default content presets becomes increasingly restrictive, or you can select the “Custom” option and tailor the blocking categories to your needs.

    After saving these settings, we can head back to Dashboard Overview, and after a little while, we’ll start to see statistics populate.

    Based on these values, Umbrella is doing its job, providing a baseline level of security and content DNS security to our corporate network, protecting our users from phishing attacks, malware distribution, botnets, and inappropriate web content – all with about 15 minutes of work. ?

    Wrapping Up (or Continuing On)

    Now, don’t think this is the end of the road. There is a lot more you can do with Cisco Umbrella. This jumpstart just got our toes wet and helped us set up a basic level of protection and policy for our corporate LAN users. However, Umbrella can do much, much more. Just a few of the other important and valuable things you can do with Umbrella include:

    • Deploy Umbrella virtual appliances to provide better context about the origin of DNS requests within your environment and more granular DNS security policy
    • Active Directory integration for differentiated policy based on user or AD group membership
    • Deploy the Umbrella Roaming agent to protect your computers even after they disconnect from the corporate network
    • Integrate with your MDM to apply Umbrella protection to mobile devices
    • Download and deploy the Umbrella SSL Root CA certificate to allow seamless blocking of SSL-encrypted sites
    • Enable the Umbrella Intelligent Proxy to protect users transparently even when reaching a “gray” site
    • Integrate Cisco Umbrella with your SIEM platform
    • Schedule automated reports to update administrators and management about the value that Umbrella is bringing to your organization
    • Review a risk-categorized inventory of cloud-based services your organization uses and allow or block them based on corporate policy
    • Consider deploying Umbrella Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) features for cloud-based security beyond DNS, including full-time web proxy and cloud-delivered firewall services

    High Availability is well-versed in all aspects of Cisco Umbrella and would be happy to help you plan out a deployment and assist with the configuration of any or all of the above features. But even if you want to get going on your own, this blog has shown you how quick and easy it is to provision your Cisco Umbrella account and get genuine security value for your business in just a few minutes.

    Contact your High Availability account manager today to learn more about Umbrella, start a free trial, or discuss how we can help you better secure your network and your business.

  • The Anatomy of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

    The Anatomy of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

    February 27th, 2020
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    The Anatomy of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

    The annual number of data breaches increases every year, and 2019 was no exception.  The total number of data breaches in 2019 is up 33% over 2018, according to research from Risk Based Security1.  The average data breach can cost organizations millions of dollars for remediation, along with decreased customer loyalty, customer distrust, a potential loss in future revenues, and a negative brand reputation.

    To prevent data breaches, it is important to first understand the anatomy of a cyberattack and the tactics, techniques, and motivation behind it.  I will attempt to breakdown the high-level phases of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attack while referencing tactics and techniques from the MITRE ATT&CK framework.

    An APT is a broad term typically used to describe a stealthy threat-actor, that has gained unauthorized access to network.  The motivation is to mine highly sensitive data or intellectual property, data that the cybercriminal can ultimately sell or monetise.  For the purpose of this blog, I will reference the term APT and threat-actor interchangeably.

    For more information regarding the MITRE ATT&CK framework, go here: https://attack.mitre.org/techniques/enterprise/

    Figure 1: The anatomy of an APT attack

    Without any further ado, let’s quickly jump into the anatomy of an APT attack.

    Step #1: Initial Reconnaissance (MITRE – PRE-ATT&CK)

    The first step to a targeted attack is some type of reconnaissance, where research and information is gathered about the targeted organization with the objective of getting past the organization’s border security and gaining a foothold inside the internal network.  Information could be publicly gathered on an organization’s network ranges, IP addresses and domain names.  Vulnerability scans can then be performed on assets on the external network to determine and exploit known vulnerabilities.  The technique (among others) described here is listed under “Technical Information Gathering” within the MITRE PRE-ATT&CK framework.

    Step #2: Initial Compromise (MITRE – Initial Access)

    The second step consists of various entry vectors to gain their initial foothold within a network. One typical technique includes a targeted phishing campaign.  The cyberattacker will phish their target organization’s employees into opening a malicious attachment or clicking a crafted URL in the hopes of delivering their payload by exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in a common browser or application, like Microsoft Office.  Other common techniques include exploiting vulnerabilities on public-facing web servers and databases.

    Step #3: Establish Foothold (MITRE – Execution & Persistence)

    Once the threat actor has gained a foothold through the initial compromise, the next step is to execute malicious code on the server or endpoint to allow full access into the machine. 

    The threat-actor will attempt to maintain persistence after the initial compromise.  Persistence describes the ability to maintain control and access to the compromised system across system restarts, changed credentials, and other interruptions that could potentially cut off access.  Typically, persistence is accomplished by replacing or hijacking legitimate code or adding startup code.

    Step #4: Escalate Privileges (MITRE – Credential Access & Privilege Escalation)

    After the threat-actor has full access into the compromised node, the threat-actor will then seek to gain greater access to the system and data through the use of privileged accounts.

    The threat-actor will first attempt to harvest access credentials from the compromised host using a technique called Credential Access.  Examples of these techniques are password hash dumping, keystroke logging and several others.

    Immediately after the gaining access to privileged accounts, the threat actor will attempt to use privilege escalation techniques on targeted systems and key high-value targets.  Examples of elevated access include SYSTEM/root level accounts, domain admin, user account with admin-like access and service accounts.   Using legitimate credentials will make the APT harder to detect.

    Step #5: Internal Recon (MITRE – Discovery)

    The threat-actor will then attempt to perform additional reconnaissance on the internal network.  Techniques such as file and directory discovery, network share discovery, cloud service discovery, port scanning and network analysis are all used to identify high-value targets that house other data of interest. 

    The internal discovery process allows the threat-actor to observe and to provide orientation regarding their existing internal environment.  After the initial orientation, the threat-actor will then explore the services and assets around the initial entry point to benefit their primary objectives. 

    Step #6: Lateral Movement (MITRE – Lateral Movement)

    Lateral Movement involves techniques that allow the threat-actor to enter and control additional systems on the internal network.  In order to accomplish their primary objectives, the threat-actor will need to explore multiple networks to locate high-value targets before subsequently gaining access to sensitive data.  Part of the process involves pivoting through multiple systems and gaining access to different accounts.

    The rate of Lateral Movement is entirely dependent on the ability of the APT to exist in the environment undetected.  If the threat-actor believes that they can exist without being detected, they may continue in a stealth mode for some time.  However, if the threat-actor believes that they run the risk of being detected, they will attempt Lateral Movement techniques much sooner.

    Some examples of Lateral Movement techniques are Windows Admin Shares, remote access tools such as PsExec, remote desktop service such as RDP, COM/DCOM for local code execution, stolen web session cookies, exploitation of remote services like SMB, and many others.

    Step #7: Maintain Presence (MITRE – Persistence & Defense Evasion)

    The APT ensures continued access to the environment by installing multiple variants of malware backdoors or by some type of remote administration tool.   

    These remote administration tools are typically installed onto the compromised node(s) and set up in a reverse-connect mode.  The reverse-connect connectivity mode will initiate a session to central command & control (C&C) servers to pull and execute commands.  This connectivity method is designed to evade detection on perimeter firewalls, as the compromised node reaches out to the C&C servers, similar to other network traffic destined to the Internet.  Unlike botnet traffic which is volumetric, APT C&C communications typically blend in with normal traffic and cannot be detected without having continuous network monitoring and advanced network analytics.

    Techniques used for defense evasion include uninstalling/disabling security software or obfuscating and encrypting data and the deletion or modification of audit logs or command history.

    Step #8: Complete Mission (MITRE – Collection & Exfiltration)

    In order for the threat-actor to complete their mission, sensitive data needs be collected from remote systems prior to data exfiltration.  Common target sources include data from network shared drives, email collection, cloud object storage, etc.  The collection process may be automated using scripts to search for and copy information based on criteria such as file type, location, or name at specific time intervals.

     

    Once the threat-actor has collected data, they will attempt to chunk or package it, then using compression and encryption to further avoid detection.  Techniques for getting data out of a target network typically include transferring it over their command and control channel or an alternate channel and may also include putting size limits on the transmission to masquerade as normal traffic.

    Even after the initial data breach has occurred, the threat-actor may often leave the backdoor open for future attempts at data exfiltration.

    In conclusion, Advanced Persistent Threats have a very high likelihood of success and is very difficult to detect.  In truth, there is no single “silver-bullet” technology solution that will prevent a determined cyberattacker from ultimately achieving the goal of an initial compromise.  However, there are ways to mitigate the risk and reduce the impact of an APT to the organization.

    Building a strong defense against APTs will require a strong Cybersecurity Program.  Here are some recommendations:

    1. Adopt an industry-standard framework for security controls, like CIS Critical Security Controls, to holistically protect the entire organization and its data.
      1. Perform an assessment to understand the current state of the critical security controls within an organization
      2. Example security controls are:
        1. Inventory of hardware and software assets
        2. Continuous vulnerability management
        3. Controlled use of administrative privileges
        4. And many others…
    2. Assess state and implement security controls
      1. Leverage technology and security awareness training to apply the proper controls and polices
      2. Ensure the proper technical tools/sensors and controls exist for the detection and mitigation of APTs.
    3. Manage and assess risks to your business and organization
    4. Measure maturity and progress
      1. Use a risk-based approach to periodize security controls.
      2. Develop a roadmap to measure maturity and progress over time
    5. Monitor and measure security
      1. Establish and measure meaningful security metrics
      2. Monitor those metrics to minimize incident impact
      3. Perform system-specific assessments to “harden” and secure the system or platform.

    Security is a journey, not a destination.

    References

    1 Risk Based Security “Data Breach QuickView Report 2019 Q3 Trends”

    Resources

    https://resources.infosecinstitute.com/anatomy-of-an-apt-attack-step-by-step-approach/

    https://www.iacpcybercenter.org/resource-center/what-is-cyber-crime/cyber-attack-lifecycle/

    https://attack.mitre.org/

     

  • 8 Common Excuses for Not Using a Managed Services Provider

    8 Common Excuses for Not Using a Managed Services Provider

    February 20th, 2020
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    1.  “We wouldn’t be a good fit for a managed services provider. We are very unique!”
      1. We hate to burst your bubble, but you’re not that special, at least when it comes to IT! Yes, your team, goals, mission, etc. are all unique, but every company has the same IT problems when it comes to infrastructure. Whether it be storage, backup, networking, wireless, or anti-virus, similar problems span across all verticals, and we have seen them all before! We assure you, the High Availability, Inc. Managed Cloud Services team can tackle any problem you throw our way.
    2. “We don’t want to lose control of our infrastructure.”
      1. Many IT professionals believe that as soon as you go to a managed services provider (MSP), or even Amazon or Azure, you lose control, but that is not the case! The Managed Cloud Services team at High Availability, Inc. is simply the tool you use to enforce your own rules. We are helping you keep control of your infrastructure! In fact, we bet you will feel more in control of your devices than ever before. Moreover, our team would never make changes without you knowing, but we would argue that your employees might. With us managing and monitoring your infrastructure, you eliminate the ad-hoc and unplanned changes your employees may make on the fly. In short, we are helping YOU implement structured control.
    3. “Our data would be less secure.”
      1. When you protect data for hundreds of clients, you have to be secure. It's not only your data on the line; it's all our customer's data as well! With that being said, we take extra precautions when it comes to security. And, we can guarantee we can secure your data better than you can now, because – it's our job!
    4. “We don’t see the benefit of working with a managed services provider.”
      1. In IT, there are two inevitable truths; hardware breaks and software has bugs. When one of your devices breaks, who is spending the next twenty-some hours fixing it? The people who should be working with the end-users (you), or the people maintaining your infrastructure (us). Let us handle the fires and the hiccups, so you can focus on your day-to-day.
    5. “We do everything already.”
      1. No, you don’t. When was the last time you brainstormed and worked with the lines of business to see what they want to accomplish? Between patching, backups, and general maintenance, do you even have time for anything forward-thinking? Working with H.A.’s Managed Cloud Services team will allow you to work on the big picture items, while we take care of the nitty-gritty.
    6. “We have monitoring.”
      1. Okay, so you have monitoring, but do you actually use it, and do you use it correctly? Most of our customers that have monitoring today don’t properly maintain it, and it becomes white noise... some of them even turn it off completely! At H.A., monitoring is our world. We make changes, move things around, and change thresholds daily! Moreover, while most companies review their infrastructure on an annual basis, we work it in your contract at regular intervals.
    7. “My team doesn’t mind patching.”
      1. They are lying to you. No one likes patching. Who wants to be patching at 3:00 A.M. on a weekend? Not your team since it’s not regular working hours. And, how do you compensate them? Time and a half? Give them off on Monday? Well, our team is already working. In fact, the Managed Cloud Services team at High Availability, Inc. is working 24x7x365. Moreover, our Level 1 and Leve 2 support desk team is all U.S. based (and will always be!). Additionally, unlike some MSPs, we don’t outsource our IT. When you have an issue, no matter the day or time, you will also be working with an H.A. team member.
    8. “I don’t want to reduce headcount.”
      1. If the objective of bringing in a managed service provider is to reduce your headcount…you’re doing something wrong. A managed service provider should never be brought in to replace your team; the MSP should be brought in to reallocate your team. An MSP, like the Managed Cloud Services team at High Availability, Inc., will allow them to work with other lines of business and take on higher-value tasks that only an internal person can accomplish.
  • High Availability, Inc. Recognized on CRN’s 2020 MSP500 List

    High Availability, Inc. Recognized on CRN’s 2020 MSP500 List

    February 19th, 2020
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    High Availability, Inc. Recognized on CRN’s 2020 MSP500 List 

    Audubon, PA, February 19th, 2020 - High Availability, Inc. announced today that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company has named High Availability, Inc. to its 2020 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Elite 150 category. This popular list identifies North American solution providers that deliver operational efficiencies, IT system improvements, and a higher rate of return on investments for their customers. These accomplished MSPs work tirelessly to guide their customers and create solutions for complex IT issues.

    This annual list is divided into three categories: the MSP Pioneer 250 who are focused primarily on the SMB market; the MSP Elite 150, large data center-focused on- and off-premises; and the Managed Security 100 made up of off-premises-focused, cloud-based IT security services.

    “MSPs are the critical bridge for customers looking to assess, implement and migrate their IT and cloud solutions to drive efficiencies, lower costs and secure your environment,” said Bob Skelley, CEO of The Channel Company. “On behalf of our team at The Channel Company, I want to congratulate the accomplished companies on CRN’s 2020 MSP 500 list and thank them for their commitment to finding innovative solutions that move the IT channel forward.”

    The MSP500 list will be featured in the February 2020 issue of CRN and online at www.crn.com/msp500  

    High Availability, Inc. is a premier solution provider and integrator of data center products and cloud services. High Availability, Inc. solves complex business challenges by architecting and implementing forward-thinking technical solutions, while forming trusting, collaborative relationships. By taking a hands-on, consultative approach, the High Availability, Inc. team creates custom tailored systems and solutions to fit both current requirements and future IT and business needs.

    ###

    Media Contact:

    For more information about High Availability, Inc., please contact Liz Thompson, Marketing Manager, at (610) 254-5090 ext. 256 or lthompson@hainc.com

  • IT Leader Spotlight: Barry Steinberg, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP

    IT Leader Spotlight: Barry Steinberg, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP

    February 5th, 2020
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    The High Availability, Inc. team has worked with a lot of incredibly talented IT professionals over the last 19 (almost 20!) years. To celebrate our customers and their achievements, we will be highlighting a CIO from our network each quarter!

    For our second IT Leader Spotlight, we had the opportunity to sit down with Barry Steinberg, IT Director at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP

     

    Q: Where did you go to school? And, what did you study?

    BS: I attended North Texas State University and UT Arlington, earning a B.B.A. in Management, followed by an M.B.A. in Information Systems at Pace University in New York.

     

    Q: Did you always want to work in IT? What sparked your interest?

    BS: My father was a Data Processing Manager in the toy, plastics, and consumer goods industries.  Sometimes as a (very!) young kid, I would go to work with him and was fascinated by all the various computing equipment; back then, we’re talking about keypunch machines, tabulators, collators, sorters.  Program logic was handled by a wiring “plug board” and database information such as product inventory, sales transactions, etc. was stored in trays of punched cards.  The early IBM mainframe computers eventually replaced these machines tape drives.  Anyways, I was hooked.

     

    Q: Tell us about your career path…

    BS: I was hired by Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems (EDS) after college and worked as a programmer analyst writing COBOL and OS/JCL on IBM mainframes.  I also worked in the marketing support group, which was responsible for responding to federal, state and local government services contract RFPs.  I then spent a few years at American Broadcasting Companies as a business systems analyst before becoming the IT Director at a Wall Street law firm.  During my time there we implemented an early document management system on Wang computers and networked PCs; that stint also included my first large office move.  My next position was at a firm in northern NJ, where my team was responsible for all network operations, business and productivity applications, user training and support.  After 9/11, I took some time to complete my MCDBA and PMP certifications before arriving at my current firm in 2003.

     

    Q: Tell us about your organization…

    BS: One of Delaware’s largest law firms, Young Conaway counsels and represents international, national and local clients, handling sophisticated advisory and litigation matters involving bankruptcy, corporate law, and intellectual property.  The firm also guides regional businesses and individuals through a myriad of employment, personal injury, real estate, tax, estate planning, environmental, and banking issues.  I report to the COO and lead a 10+ person team responsible for 24x7x365 network operations, data security, application software, e-discovery, A/V, and client services technical support.

     

    Q: What technology or business initiatives will be most important in driving your IT objectives for the next year?

    BS: Over the last few years, our efforts have focused on implementing and supporting upgrades of many of the firm’s business and desktop productivity systems.  At the same time, we also upgraded most of our Data Center and network infrastructure and strengthened our data security posture.  This year, our priorities include expanding our mobile device application portfolio and continuing our information governance and security awareness initiatives.

     

    Q: What does a typical day look like for you? How do you keep yourself productive?

    BS: I spend time each day addressing issues of immediate concern to senior firm management, IT team members, and our attorney and administrative user community.  Most days also feature a mix of projects, operations, and user support meetings.  A typical day might also include discussions with outside vendors or with internal customers reviewing resource requirements, schedule constraints, etc.  I routinely move between strategic, tactical, and operational roles as the work requires Whenever possible, I try to communicate, coordinate and/or delegate and then get out of the way and let people do their jobs.

     

    Q: What roles or skills are you having difficulty filling – if any?

    BS: The firm is fortunate to have a mature team of outstanding technology professionals, so filling open positions has not been much of an issue over the past few years.  When in need of specific technology project skills, we reach out to trusted partners such as High Availability, Inc.

     

    Q: What advice would you give aspiring CIOs?

    BS: Spend time learning the business, the industry, and building relationships.  Sharpen your writing and listening skills and seek out speaking engagements.  Look for opportunities to provide guidance and give credit to others.  Share your strengths and allow others to share theirs with you.  Tackle failure with a commitment to future success.  Under-promise and over-deliver.  All very cliché, but true.

     

    Q: What is your proudest professional accomplishment so far?

    BS: I currently work with the best technology team that I have been associated with, meeting the ever-demanding service needs of a premier law firm while helping each of these IT team members achieve their individual professional goals.

     

    Q: What has been the most meaningful aspect of your engagement with High Availability, Inc.?

    BS: Starting with their role in standing up and hosting the firm’s disaster recovery solution, our engagement with H.A. has grown significantly over time.  As new technology needs have arisen, H.A.’s engineering services, sales, and support teams have contributed significant project expertise and guidance in achieving successful outcomes for the firm.  An outstanding technology partner!

  • Customer Spotlight: Marlin Capital Solutions

    Customer Spotlight: Marlin Capital Solutions

    February 4th, 2020
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    The High Availability, Inc. team has worked with a lot of incredibly talented IT teams over the last twenty years. To celebrate our customers and their achievements, we will be highlighting one of our customers each quarter!

    For our second Customer Spotlight, we had the opportunity to sit down with Craig Green, Assistant Vice President Enterprise Infrastructure at Marlin Capital Solutions. 

     

    Q: What is your role within the organization? 

    CG: I am the Assistant Vice President of Enterprise Infrastructure

     

    Q: Tell us about your organization… 

    CG: [Marketing] Since 1997, Marlin has been a nationwide provider of equipment and software financing, specializing in providing innovative financing solutions for small businesses. We finance a wide array of commercial equipment across many different industries. To round out our financing solutions, we also offer working capital loans for any type of business need such as expansion, inventory, staffing, and more. 

     

    Q: What is your #1 product/service/offering? 

    CG: [Marketing] Marlin specializes in a fast, easy process to obtain financing, whether it’s equipment financing or a working capital loan. 

     

    Q: What do you wish the other departments at Marlin Capital Solutions knew about your department? 

    CG: That IT does more than just support tickets, major projects are being worked on all the time.

     

    Q: What is the most important thing you are working on right now? 

    CG: We are currently implementing a new Unified Communications platform companywide.

     

    Q: What are your team’s greatest strengths? 

    CG: I consider Marlin’s IT teams greatest strength to be its dedication and understanding of the business. Also, doing a lot with a little. We are not a large IT department but find ways to produce quality large amounts of work each year.

     

    Q: What are your top 3 IT initiatives over the next 12 months?

    • Salesforce implementation across several departments
    • Unified Communications system implementation
    • Cybersecurity initiatives

     

    Q: What is the biggest challenge your team is currently facing? 

    CG: Keeping up with all the new cybersecurity threats.

     

    Q: When did you start working with High Availability, Inc.? 

    CG: We started working with H.A. in March of 2013.

     

    Q: Why did you pick High Availability, Inc. as your trusted advisor? 

    CG: Prior experience working with HA at my previous company.  Their technical knowledge is the best I have ever experienced compared against any other vendor.

     

    Q: In what areas has H.A. helped transform your business? 

    CG: Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, Enterprise LAN/WAN Networking, Security and Storage.  The rapid rate at which we grew our environment call for some major changes and HA was there with us every step of the way.

     

    Q: What do you predict your team will be working on in the next 3-5 years? 

    CG: Over the next 3 to 5 years, we will continue improving our networking infrastructure, cybersecurity, and cloud-based initiatives with the help of HA.

     

    Q: Describe your H.A. sales rep in three words – be nice! 

    CG: Steve Eisenhart is honest, knowledgeable, and customer-oriented. 

     

  • 10 Vendor Events You Should Consider for 2020

    10 Vendor Events You Should Consider for 2020

    January 9th, 2020
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    10 Vendor Events You Should Consider for 2020

    January is always a busy month. Between the post-holiday rush and attempting to get back into the swing of things at the office, it can seem overwhelming! However, the month of January is critical for setting up your 2020 schedule, which is where vendor events/tradeshows come in. Since we know you are most likely swamped with 2020 planning initiatives and attempting to clean out your inbox, the High Availability, Inc. team has taken on the task of sifting through the top vendor events you need to consider for your 2020 schedule.

    *listed in order of occurrence

     

    1. NVIDIA'S GPU Technology Conference
    • March 22nd - 26th | San Jose McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, CA

    Why you should attend...

    • 600+ sessions on dozens of topics
    • Hands-on training facilitated by Deep Learning Institute certified instructors
    • "Office Hours" with NVIDIA engineers and researchers

                        Click Here for more information

     

    1. Dell Technologies World
    • May 4th - May 7th | The Venetian, Las Vegas, NV

    Why you should attend...

    • Hands-on training facilitated by Dell experts
    • 300+ sessions with multiple tracks, including; Technology, IT Leadership, Emerging, Trends, and much more...
    • Dell always has great entertainment. While we don't know who is set to headline this year, Dell has previously hosted Sting, David Blaine, Gwen Stefani, Weezer, Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons...

    Click Here for more information

     

    1. VeeamON
    • May 4th - May 6th  | ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV

    Why you should attend...

    • 50+ sessions with multiple tracks including; Vision & Strategy, Cloud-Powered, Architecture and Design, - Operations & Support, Deep Tech, and much more...
    • Access to VCME training
    • Veeam booked the Drai nightclub for their infamous VeeamOn party!

    Click Here for more information

     

    1. ZertoCON
    • May 18th - May 20th | Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood, FL

    Why you should attend...

    • Hands-on labs led by Zerto experts
    • Form a hacking team and participate in Zerto's second annual "Hackathon"
    • Specialized "Women in Tech" networking opportunities

    Click Here for more information

     

    1. Cisco Live
    • May 31st - June 4th | Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

    Why you should attend...

    • Opportunities for 1:1 guidance with Cisco experts
    • 1,000+ sessions focusing on the Cloud, 5G, WI-FI6, and much more...
    • Participate in hands-on training and certification classes
    • The musical act is still TBD, but in previous years Cisco hosted the Foo Fighters, Lenny Kravitz, Aerosmith, Sam Hunt, and many more!

    Click Here for more information

     

    1. Palo Alto Ignite
    • June 1st - June 4th | Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX

    Why you should attend...

    • Opportunities for 1:1 guidance with Palo Alto experts
    • Access to certification exams

    Click Here for more information

     

    1. Nutanix .NEXT
    • June 30th - July 2nd | McCormick Place, Chicago, IL

    Why you should attend...

    • 100+ sessions focused on hyperconvergence, hybrid cloud, DevOps, automation, security, and much more...
    • Access to certification exams
    • Impressive speaker line-up, including;
      • Luvvie Ajayi, Award-Winning Author, and Digital Strategist
      • Mike Rowe, Executive Producer, Host, and Best-Selling Author
      • Simon Sinek, British-American author, and motivational speaker

    Click Here for more information

     

    1. Microsoft Inspire
    • July 19th - July 23rd | Las Vegas, NV

    *Very limited details available, but this is one you don't want to miss!*

                        Click Here for more information

     

    1. VMware's VMworld
    • August 30th - September 3rd | San Francisco, CA

    Why you should attend...

    • Numerous session tracks including Cloud, Networking & Security, Digital Workspace, Emerging Trends, and much more...
    • Access to certification exams
    • One of the biggest shows in the industry....with 21,000+ attendees, 230+ sponsors, and 86+ countries represented...you definitely won't be bored!

    Click Here for more information

     

    1. Kubertetes's KubeCon
    • November 17th - 20th | Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA

    Why you should attend...

    • Over 10,000+ attendees
    • 35% developers attendees
    • 77% technical attendees
    • 100+ sessions, including technical classes, deep-dives, case studies, and much more...

    Click Here for more information

  • High Availability, Inc. Hosts Star Wars Movie Premiere

    High Availability, Inc. Hosts Star Wars Movie Premiere

    December 30th, 2019
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    Earlier this month, High Availability, Inc. welcomed customers and partners alike to the Movie Tavern in Collegeville, PA, for an advanced screening of Star Wars: The Return of Skywalker. The annual movie premiere has been a cornerstone event for High Availability, Inc. since 2012. It's a chance for the H.A. team to thank customers for their business during the past year and allows for everyone, even our partners, to kick back and relax.

    "A lot of our customers love Star Wars! We are thrilled we get the chance to offer our customers the chance to see the film early and escape the end of the year rush. This event is a great way to kick back and relax," said Liz Thompson, Marketing Manager for High Availability, Inc. "The event produces the ideal blend of industry happenings, education, and fun," Thompson added.

    However, the event wasn't as relaxing for our speakers! H.A.'s infamous "Ignite-Style" presentations took place before the film on the big screens. Speakers from NetApp, Cohesity, Nutanix, Zerto, Zix, Duo, Palo Alto, and High Availability, Inc. had to perform a fast-paced powerpoint presentation with "The Rise of..." built into the title to pay homage to the film's title (The Rise of Skywalker).  Each speaker had only 5 minutes to present and had to utilize 20 slides – no more, no less. The slides were timed to advance every 15 seconds whether the speaker was ready or not.

    "The Ignite format is super challenging for our presenters, but the presentations always turn out incredible because the speakers put so much thought and time into them," explained Victoria Clery, Office Manager & Marketing Specialist for High Availability, Inc. "Plus, the audience tends to pay attention to the presentations since the format is so fast-paced!"

    The most talked-about presentation of the evening, which was delivered by Bob McCouch from High Availability, Inc., entitled "The Rise of the Internet," highlighted tech advancements in correlation to Star Wars movies. McCouch, a Principal Technologist for High Availability, Inc., discussed everything from the age of research, to first domain names, and the mobile revolution!

    In short, the High Availability, Inc. movie premiere was an enormous success! Thanks to all our customers and partners for participating in the event.

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