Latest Microsoft Vulnerability Used to Steal Confidential Data, According to PandaLabs

GLENDALE, Calif., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ — PandaLabs, Panda Security’s malware analysis and detection laboratory, has detected several malicious files that are exploiting the latest vulnerability announced by Microsoft (MS08-067) to infect users and steal confidential data, including instant messaging passwords, and online login credentials.

The vulnerability affects Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Individuals can check their systems here:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS08-067.mspx

The risk involved in this type of vulnerability is considerable. Users are strongly advised to update their systems as soon as possible, as cyber-criminals have already begun to exploit this security flaw. As long as computers remain unpatched, they will be vulnerable to any of these new malicious codes.

“In addition to email and infected downloads, these vulnerability-exploiting malicious codes are being distributed directly across the Internet, even from legitimate Web pages, so users won’t even realize they have been infected,” explains Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs.

One particular strain of malware, which exploits this security hole, the Gimmiv.A Trojan, enables its creators to take complete control of the compromised system.
Once a computer has been infected, the Trojan starts gathering the following information:
– User names and passwords entered in Web pages
– MSN Messenger passwords
– Outlook Express passwords
– System user name
– Computer name
– Patches installed
– Information about the browser

All stolen information is encrypted using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and sent to a remote server.
“As the Trojan allows systems to be controlled remotely, they can then be used maliciously, say, for sending spam or storing stolen data,” explains Corrons. “Instant messaging is widely used in both corporate and domestic environments nowadays and this Trojan gives cyber-crooks complete access to information sent across this channel.”

PandaLabs advises users to update their operating systems as soon as possible and carry out a full scan of their computers. This can be done for free here: http://www.pandasecurity.com/activescan
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European SMEs Spending $7.6bn on Servers and Networks in 2008

According to a recent survey by AMI-Partners, who take surveys with small to medium-sized business (SMEs) of under 1000 employees, SMEs are expected to spend $7.6bn on servers and networking equipment in 2008 across the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

AMI-Partners say that over half of the $7.6bn will be spent in the UK, Germany and France alone, who are also the main buyers of IT equipment – which is no great surprise considering they have the strongest economies of the lot.

Over the three countries, average spending in 2008 is expected to grow by around 5 percent, with around two thirds of spending coming from businesses with less than 100 employees.

A particularly interesting discovery was that 22 percent of small businesses have only recently bought their first servers, with many getting by using mid-range PCs, until their business needed to expand.

The survey found that across the board, Windows Server 2003 was the most popular operating system, followed by Windows Server 2000. There is good news for Linux, as it was showing the seeds of growth.

Networking hardware costs are expected to rise by 8 percent in 2008. This takes into account the cost of network switches, routers, network interface cards, wireless LAN gear, and cabling. LAN switches are said to account for the bulk of network spending in 2008, the survey said.

Good news for IBM: Of the UK businesses surveyed, over 40 percent of them had bought Blade Servers, which is the highest penetration of Blade Server adoption of all the countries polled.

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Has Google gone Under? Down Under

Google is going under. Down under. Well that is according to Australian IT. The search giant has dispatched the oddly named “Lord of the nerds”…sorry, “Duke of the Data Centers” to one of the only places that doesn’t have a Google data center.

The small team of Americans are led by Simon Tusha, that’s the Duke to you and me, headed to the land of Oz for some “high-level discussions” with local data center providers.

Tech Mag The Register asked Google if the rumours were true, and they sort of answered the question, kind of.

“Fast, innovative products are crucial for our users and require significant computing power,” a company spokesman said. “As a result, Google invests heavily in technical facilities around the world and is constantly on the look out for additional locations. However, we don’t comment on possible sites or locations.”

However, an Australian spokesman said that Australian IT was considering their options. “While we’re investing in our Australian operations, we haven’t made any decisions about whether we’ll locate a data centre here,” he said.

Google currently has 36 data centers operating or under construction across the world, but none in Australia.

According to Australian IT, some businesses have had to do without Gmail, and other cloud-based apps as routing data to Google server’s overseas increases bandwidth costs.

Google currently construct its data centers by stacking shipping containers pre-packed with servers and cooling equipment, and transport them around the world, allowing easy set up. And there are rumours that Google are even manufacturing their own servers and Ethernet switches.

Microsoft Unveils Windows Azure at Professional Developers Conference

PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Today, during a keynote speech at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC2008), Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Corp.’s chief software architect, announced Windows Azure, the cloud-based service foundation underlying its Azure Services Platform, and highlighted this platform’s role in delivering a software plus services approach to computing. The Azure Services Platform is an industry-leading move by Microsoft to help developers build the next generation of applications that will span from the cloud to the enterprise datacenter and deliver compelling new experiences across the PC, Web and phone.

Ozzie described how this platform combines cloud-based developer capabilities with storage, computational and networking infrastructure services, all hosted on servers operating within Microsoft’s global datacenter network. This provides developers with the ability to deploy applications in the cloud or on-premises and enables experiences across a broad range of business and consumer scenarios. A limited community technology preview (CTP) of the Azure Services Platform was initially made available to developers in attendance at PDC2008, giving them a chance to try out its features and functions and plan for their own future development.

“Today marks a turning point for Microsoft and the development community,” Ozzie said. “We have introduced a game-changing set of technologies that will bring new opportunities to Web developers and business developers alike. The Azure Services Platform, built from the ground up to be consistent with Microsoft’s commitment to openness and interoperability, promises to transform the way businesses operate and how consumers access their information and experience the Web. Most important, it gives our customers the power of choice to deploy applications in cloud-based Internet services or through on-premises servers, or to combine them in any way that makes the most sense for the needs of their business.”

Empowering Cloud Development With the Azure Services Platform

Unlike many of today’s service-based solutions, the Azure Services Platform provides developers with the flexibility and ability to create applications while taking advantage of their existing skills, tools and technologies such as the Microsoft .NET Framework and Visual Studio. Developers also can choose from a broad range of commercial or open source development tools and technologies, and access the Azure Services Platform using a variety of common Internet standards including HTTP, representational state transfer (REST), WS-* and Atom Publishing Protocol (AtomPub).

Key components of the Azure Services Platform include the following:

– Windows Azure for service hosting and management, low-level scalable storage, computation and networking
– Microsoft SQL Services for a wide range of database services and reporting
– Microsoft .NET Services which are service-based implementations of familiar .NET Framework concepts such as workflow and access control
– Live Services for a consistent way for users to store, share and synchronize documents, photos, files and information across their PCs, phones, PC applications and Web sites
– Microsoft SharePoint Services and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services for business content, collaboration and rapid solution development in the cloud

State-of-the-Art Datacenter Infrastructure

Microsoft also described the importance of building robust datacenters in delivering online services. Over the past year, Microsoft has opened major datacenters in Quincy, Wash., and San Antonio, with additional centers scheduled to open in Chicago and Dublin, Ireland. Microsoft is leading the way in services infrastructure with innovative use of shipping containers as flexible and portable housing for servers, providing 10 times the density and dramatic savings in power usage. Supporting the Microsoft software plus services strategy, Microsoft’s datacenters serve up e-mail accounts, Web pages, instant messages, photos, videos, software programs and search information to millions of Internet customers worldwide.

Cut Costs and Unlock Innovation

Services technologies, when employed alongside other core technology enablers such as virtualization and modeling, will result in dramatic benefits for customers’ IT departments. Specifically, these technologies will enable a new and more dynamic world, where IT departments can drive down operating costs, focus their spending on systems that differentiate the business, and ultimately enable IT to become a more strategic asset.

“Only a few companies in the world can bring the promise of cloud computing to reality, and we are excited about the strong capabilities of the Azure Services Platform,” said Paul Farrell, senior vice president of research and development for Epicor Software Corp. “We believe that Microsoft’s initiative and leadership in software plus services will be beneficial to Epicor customers as we architect our solutions to optimize for cloud and on-premises solutions.”

Providing Businesses Choice and Flexibility Through Software and Services
Microsoft’s service offerings also include Microsoft Online Services. These solutions deliver enterprise-class software as a subscription service, hosted by Microsoft and sold through partners. Microsoft services applications, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Office Communications Online and Office Live Meeting can be used as a complement to or in addition to on-premises software, enabling the power of choice depending on a customer’s IT strategy.

More information about the Azure Services Platform and Microsoft’s software plus services offering can be found at http://www.azure.com/.

Sun and Fujitsu reveal Sparc Enterprise M3000

Fujitsu and its server partner Sun Microsystems have released an entry-level server that will fill the product gap between the company’s quad-core Sparc T and Sparc64 VII models.

The new server is code-named “Ikkaku” and is sold as the Sparc Enterprise M3000. The Ikkaku features a single-socket box, and the four cores in that singe Sparc64 VII processor run at 2.52 GHz. The processor has 64KB of L1 data cache and 64KB of L1 instruction cache per core, and 5 MB of L2 cache on chip shared by the four cores. The server’s motherboard supports up to32GB of main memory using 4 GB of memory, and features four low-profile PCI-Express x8 peripheral slots.

The system uses the same Jupiter server bus as larger Sparc Enterprise M servers to link the components of the system together. That bus has 17BG/sec of peak aggregate bandwidth and 4GB/sec of I/O bandwidth. According to Sun, the M3000 has double the performance of the entry servers using UltraSparc-Iii processors.

John Fowler, the executive vice president in charge of Sun’s Systems Group, has brought the M3000 to the market for a few reasons. Customers deploying large Jupiter systems usually use an n-tier architecture, with larger servers running the databases behind applications and web application servers accessing the data and running the application code that feeds off the databases.

Although some companies don’t mind mixing one type of database and application servers, some do, and Sun and Fujitsu needed a smaller server for midsized customers. Also, the system is relatively quiet, at just 47 decibels, which Sun say is around the same as a quiet office.

The Sparc Enterprise M3000 server is available now. A base-level machine with a single processor, 4 GB of main memory, two 146 GB disks, a DVD drive and a Solaris 10 license will cost you around $15,000.

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Unlimited Virtualization from IBM and Windows

IBM are offering customers who buy its System x rack servers and Bladecenter blade servers the option of Microsoft’s Windows Datacenter, allowing for unlimited virtualization.

Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition (SE) can run on machines with up to four sockets and up to 32GB of main memory on x64-based servers – a more than suitable operating system for blades and most rack servers. Enterprise Edition (EE) gives you a bit more flexibility with up to eight sockets and potentially 2 terabyte’s of memory. SE allows just one virtual machine on a server, and EE allows four, so if you want more, you need to buy more Windows licenses.

Datacenter Edition scales up to 64 sockets for x64 servers and up to 2 terabyte’s, and allows unlimited virtual machines.

In October 2006, Window Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition, allowed users to deploy an unlimited number of Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, or Datacenter Edition VM’s on their machines. Back then Datacenter Edition cost $2,999 per processor socket with no client access licenses (CALs), which cost the user $40 each time.

Windows Server 2008 Datacenter Edition remains the same, price-wise, and still allows for unlimited virtualization. However, now Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor comes with the Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter Editions, which means customers won’t have to buy VMware’s ESX server or Citrix Systems’ XenServer to do virtualization.

What this means is that you can afford to move from EE to Datacenter Edition on two and four socket blade servers, simplifying your software stack (all Windows), and get unlimited virtualization as well.

Rackspace aquire Slicehost and Jungle Disk

Rackspace Hosting have announced that they have acquired VPS provider Slicehost and storage provider Jungle Disk for a wallet emptying $11.5 million.

The deal could tally up to as much as $16.5 million based on cash and stock payouts dependant on performance in the marketplace.

Rackspace are one of the world’s largest providers of dedicated servers, and made the news recently with its recent partnership with VMware and Mosso – its own cloud division.

The announcement today makes it clear that traditional hosting companies are seeing the growth potential of virtualized solutions.

Slicehost are one of the leading Xen-based virtual server providers, and deal primarily with developers. However, they have built a large customer base that runs over 15,000 virtual servers.

Jungle Disk are a provider of storage software that works in conjunction with Amazon’s S3 storage platform. Rackspace have made it clear that although they will be gradually moving over customers to its own storage solutions, it will continue to support Amazon S3 as well.

Rackspace currently own 8 datacentres in the US, Hong Kong and the UK.

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Datatrend Technologies, Inc. Announces New Virtualization Appliance Offering

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ — Datatrend Technologies, Inc. introduced a new virtualization appliance that helps clients build an affordable computing infrastructure with high levels of utilization, availability, automation and flexibility using the IBM BladeCenter server. Datatrend made the announcement yesterday during a “Road 2 Virtualization Road Show” event hosted in Minneapolis, MN.

Datatrend has designed an all-in-one solution that comes complete with the server hardware, software, consulting services and comprehensive support needed to jumpstart a server and / or client virtualization initiative. Virtualization-in-a-Box can help clients more efficiently manage and consolidate volumes of business data with the benefits of increased security, flexibility and improved disaster recovery.

Datatrend customers will receive all of the benefits associated with a VMware Virtual Infrastructure solution, plus an easy to administer, space saving server, storage and optional client desktop solution that comes complete with higher availability, lower power & cooling costs and improved security.

Designed with the highest quality, most reliable components, Virtualization-in-a-Box is built on the IBM BladeCenter, the industry leading solution for running business-critical workloads. Integrated with the BladeCenter hardware is VMware(R) VI3 plus other virtual enablement tools which provide increased server utilization, along with improved performance, increased security, and reduced cost and complexity.

This solution can scale up to 190 virtual servers (or even more clients) all in one box and comes pre-configured with 1.8 TB of virtualized storage with room to expand up to 3.6 TB. The Datatrend solution makes virtualization easy, and is pre-packaged with server consolidation & training services and three years of support and maintenance.

“Datatrend is dedicated to helping its clients improve their infrastructures through powerful virtualization technologies,” said Charlie Cox, Sr. Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Datatrend Technologies, Inc. “Today’s IT organizations face many challenges, including growing capacity while conserving or reducing operating costs and improving service availability. We wanted to provide customers with a virtual infrastructure solution that is easier to deploy and administer with a faster time to value and overall lower cost of ownership.”

The solution comes preconfigured, tested and validated making it an ideal solution for customers looking to standardize hardware platforms and simplify the roll-out process across many distributed locations. The all-in-one design is also a great fit for small-and-medium-sized businesses looking to virtualize smaller server environments or add storage capacity where space is limited.

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Virtualization: A brief History

Virtualization is a process that allows one piece of hardware to run a number of operating systems all at the same time. Prior to its inception, the standard for x86 servers was to only run one application to one server. This was fine until more and more servers were needed to meet the growing demands of the IT world, as data centre managers were spending millions of dollars on wasted server space.

But now, virtualization has changed everything, for one machine can run a multitude of applications, each isolated into one virtual operating system, completely separated from the others.

As a subsidiary of EMC, VMware popped onto the technology scene in 1998, beginning as a start-up company and soaring to become one of the driving forces in virtualization in just a few short years. In 2005, virtualization technology came in to mainstream awareness faster than anyone could have ever imagined – including many IT experts. Not only did it fly right on through the developmental software stages, it fell headlong into the data centre… all within a year.

Recent times have seen the IT world look for different means of consolidating that would assist in running their systems more efficiently. Virtualization software from companies such as Platespin was just in time to initiate and capitalize on the momentum for this new technology, seeing nothing short of outstanding adoption rates and customer satisfaction. The latest estimates even show that nearly 75% of all companies with at least 500 employees are installing virtual servers, with nearly half of those who are already utilizing the technology stating that of all new servers purchased, close to half of them will be virtualized.

Other companies besides Platespin have entered the virtualization market as well. Microsoft has had quite a bit of luck creating and marketing its own virtualization software, mostly due to their large customer base. Xen is another, with its software currently breaking into the market. Of course, just like anything else, software is certain to have a kink or two as it passes from a magazine headline to the adoption process, so buyers would do well to go with a trusted name when purchasing a solution

Many of the experts claim that management of this in-demand technology is right around the corner, as current users aren’t mixing and matching technologies, but are simply utilizing them for one purpose- either networking, storage, or systems.

If your concerns are related to storage, you would work with storage virtualization. Ideally, all virtualizations of one company would be able to be pooled and be tied together or moved around as needed. As with any new technology, the question of automation has been popping up throughout the conversations of vendors and customers. Is it possible? Yes, it is. Will it happen? I predict it will…

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VirtualLogix to Support Symbian OS

VirtualLogix have announced that VirtualLogix VLX – its virtualization software product – will be the first to support Symbian OS, which is the market leading open operating system of advanced data-enabled mobile phones.

At London’s Symbian Smartphone Show today, the company will demonstrate a prototype of the Symbian OS running simultaneously with Linux on multiple mobile platforms.

This is the first product to support the Symbian OS on a virtualized mobile platform. VirtualLogix VLX allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and semiconductor vendor’s new ways to reap the benefits of virtualization in mobile phone design.

VirtualLogix is part of the Symbian Partner Network*, so is therefore committed to developing solutions based on the Symbian platform for the benefit of the mobile industry.

VirtualLogix VLX for mobile separates hardware management and application management on mobile platforms, allowing applications running on the Symbian OS to access a peripheral device managed by another operating system kernel, such as Linux. This adds extra layers of security for financial and high-risk transactions.

* “Members of the Symbian Partner Network have access to exclusive technical, marketing and business development benefits and opportunities, as well as a range of tools and resources, to develop on Symbian OS, quickly and efficiently.

“With straightforward licensing conditions and terms of use providing ownership and revenue opportunities from derivative works, the Symbian OS Development Kit includes test code, internal documentation, kernel and device driver programming interfaces and ROM building tools. Early access and frequent deliveries of the Symbian OS Development Kit enable pre-market participation in Symbian OS mobile phone development projects with rights to distribute derivative works directly to Symbian OS Customization Kit licensees.”

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