S.E.A. vs. ASA – Syrian Electronic Army Cyber-Attacks NYTimes.com, Twitter

SEA, NYTimes, Twitter, Hacktivist, cyber attack, cisco asa, adaptive security appliance, internet security, firewall

This is why Internet security is more imperative than ever.

Just yesterday, an electronic hacktivist group known as the S.E.A. (Syrian Electronic Army) seemingly compromised both The New York TImes’ and Twitter’s websites.

It started around late afternoon yesterday, when Forbes and Gawker began posting about the incident. Apparently, upon visiting NYTimes.com, some users found an ominous screenshot of an SEA emblem and a declaration that the page was “Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army.” Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the world-famous news publication tweeted that yes, this was likely an external malicious attack.

Twitter, who has been the victim of recent SEA cyber attacks–including the hijacking of BBC, 60 Minutes, AP, and Reuters feeds–was targeted once again and fell victim yesterday as well. This time, DNS records for their image server, twimg.com, were compromised and renamed to state “sea@sea.sy” as being the admin. This caused image-serving requests to be sent to someone else’s server. Thankfully, the hacktivists were not able to redirect Twitter’s main server traffic:

It was then announced later on that the Times’ DNS (domain name server) registrar was attacked, a company called Melbourne IT; this is the same registrar that Twitter uses. So, because Melbourne IT was hacked, SEA had access to both Twitter and NYTimes DNS records.

The SEA are what the NYTimes defines as “a hacker collective that supports the Syrian president, Bashar, al-Assad” (via NYTimes.com). One of the more recent tweets coming from the above account states that “the @nytimes attack was going to deliver an anti-war message but our server couldn’t last for 3 minutes #SEA.” Whatever the case, two very powerful and influential online media outlets were just hijacked in the same day, allegedly from another country.

At planIT HARDWARE, we sell Cisco ASA’s (adaptive security appliances) and similar units, to provide any datacenter or business with a reliable piece of IT security hardware. As the manufacturer puts it, ASA’s “deliver a robust suite of highly integrated, market-leading security services for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), enterprises, service providers, and mission-critical data centers- in addition to providing unprecedented services flexibility, modular scalability, feature extensibility, and lower deployment and operations costs.” Our units are sturdy and reliable and just what you need to keep a secure server going in your business.

So, whether you’re a vendor or an SMB looking for reliable hardware, remember: it’s always smart to wear protection.

Careful…Cyber-Attacks Are Serious! Firewalls Are Important!

asa, cisco asa, cisco systems, firewall, it hardware, man of steel, open source, supermanThe Internet really is a dangerous place.

I think we like to imagine the Internet as this Man of Steel, an impenetrable powerhouse…

Yesterday, I was in a used record/book/movie store by my house. I had never been but had always been interested in checking it out. When I found my way to the back of the store, I was lost in a whole world of comic books, superhero anthologies and novelizations and origin stories. I turned to my friend and said, “You know, there’re so many issues and subplots and alternate universes and origin stories….it’s almost too late to keep up with any of this.” We headed for the anthologies and I immediately sought out Superman, my favorite of the classic superheroes. I grew frustrated as I scanned pages and covers because The Man of Steel, perhaps moreso than his peers, has been made to be this open source of sorts: his origins, his powers (ice breath, fire-blasting eyes, super-speed, super…anything anyone felt like tacking on)–even his hairhave been altered and added to over the years. But for all his strength and increasing multitude of abilities, his weakness has always been the substance, Kryptonite. The same goes for the powers of the (once-called) World Wide Web.

As the Internet has grown to be an open-source free market, its uses and functions have evolved and progressed at a rapid rate. Generations are being brought up in a world where there is no “pre-web.” It’s like having a gargantuan city bank, laboratory, record store–you name it–that everyone can fit in to and interact within. But as with all freedoms, some security is necessary to ensure those liberties are not abused. Firewall security was invented to accept or block incoming signals on a system’s network, based on what that particular network’s security policy defines as acceptable or blockable.

planIT HARDWARE has a whole range of Adaptive Security Appliances from Cisco along with other IT hardware that will ensure that your business’ network is secure from cyber-thieves.

No matter how strong “the Interwebs” is, no matter how many functions it may serve, it will always be vulnerable. There will always be that Kryptonite to penetrate its forces. Just take a look in the news at the cyber battle between South and North Korea and you’ll see what I mean. There have been many efforts to strengthen the durability of the Internet, but there are clearly a few weak spots. If you own a business, get your network on-point and secure!


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Mad Men: Technology & Nostalgia

mad men, mad men season 6, mad men premiere, mad men nostalgia, cisco, cisco asa, adaptive security appliance, asa, technological innovation, IT news, IT marketingMad Men is finally back. After a year or so of patiently enduring many bourbon-less nights filled with smoke-free air, our favorite vicarious vices return, along with the seemingly elegant yet despicable characters who perform them. This season, number six, we’re poised to get to know Don Draper even better, after sitting through several recent episodes that lacked flashbacks or insight into the past of the man behind the Madison Ave machine. There are few things we can be sure of when it comes to Mr. Draper, but one thing we’re certain of is this: the man can make one hell of a pitch. So, in today’s even faster-paced world of marketing and more rapidly-changing consumer culture, what would Don do with routers and switches? How would he market such items in the concise, poetic manner we, along with the show’s clients, so often wait with bated breath to hear?

It can be tricky to speak eloquently and nostalgically of something as dry and technical as IT hardware (believe me, it’s one of my daily hurdles). How would Don present a Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance in a way that emotionally resonates with its intended audience? Better yet, how would he promote the modern secondary market and companies like planIT HARDWARE?

I remember the episode with the slide projector—the Kodak Carousel—where Draper gives his presentation on what is supposed to be called “The Wheel.” This is a new piece of technology at the time, and while a large advancement, its function is quite simple—much like the IT hardware of today. He’s having the damndest time generating ideas for the pitch he’s to give on it, too busy focusing on the very real, difficult things going on all around him to be concerned with a piece of gadgetry. At the very end of the episode, the first season’s finale, he delivers his presentation along with what are the most powerful 3 minutes of probably the entire series to-date, and some of the best television ever:

Technology can connect us, or separate us. Don seems to think, at least in this episode, that the technological innovation of that time, the Carousel slide projector, is best marketed with a hefty dash of nostalgia: we seem to make technology with the express purpose of moving forward, but we often end up utilizing it the most to go backward, to save endless files and photos and songs so that we may willfully and flawlessly recall them to memory—and not only to remember them, but to experience them all over again.

The same can be said for the innovations of today. Despite its sophisticated abilities, the most-used hardware feature of an iPhone is its camera; its most-utilized and accessed app would likely be Instagram. No matter how complicatedly or complexly a Cisco switch may be constructed, no matter how many intricacies occur within those tiny modules inside, the functions are always very simple. These beefy pieces of machinery are all so that we can connect with each other faster and more efficiently…an entire room of server chassis and all we’re doing is emailing, making calls using VoIP, sharing documents, and trying to save it all. We save it all so that we can look back and remind ourselves of our accomplishments, build further upon what has already been built, hope that the past will inspire our future. It’s like Don said in the clip above: “This device isn’t a spaceship…it’s a time machine.”

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