Lineal’s Ian awarded Certified DrayTek Network Admin

Lineal’s Ian Meredith has been awarded DrayTek Certified Network Admin Certificate, adding an additional qualification to Lineal’s networking experience.

DrayTek’s ‘Dray School’ requires network engineers to pass a series of advanced network and security configuration tests using DrayTek devices, routers and access points, including best practice for firewall settings, fault-finding and other detailed network tasks.

DrayTek’s business-grade Router range have won praise from across the IT Support sector recent years, with the provider winning a PC PRO Technology Excellence Award for five successive years (2014-18). DrayTek router models have proved highly popular with businesses, with intelligent features such as 4G fail-over increasingly in demand for business continuity requirements.

As a part of the 2-day examination procedure, each engineer’s router is attached to a testing network which judges whether the engineer has managed the device correctly, and automatically passes or fails based on a series of security checks.

Well done Ian!

 

For Networking and Security Expertise, contact Lineal today.


WPA3 Wi-Fi Introduced

The Wi-Fi Alliance has formally announced the introduction of the WPA3 security protocol, the next generation of wireless security to protect routers and networks.

The new security standard follows hot on the heels of last year’s breach of the existing WPA2 standard, which has been in use since 2004.

WPA3, released in both ‘personal’ and ‘enterprise’ with extra protections, is expected to fix a number of deficiencies in the older WiFi protocol, including:

  • Captured encrypted data cannot be decrypted by a later breach of the password – in order to access data, a hacker must have both the password and data at point of transmission.
  • Encryption of data will be individualised, such that snooping on other devices across less secure Wi-Fi networks will be made more difficult.
  • Extra protections against password brute-forcing and ‘dictionary’ style attacks, dramatically increasingly the time cost of bulk guessing a password successfully.
  • Smart devices with no screen, including many Internet-of-things (IoT) technologies, will be administered via a smartphone screen during Wi-Fi setup.

To most end-users, the experience of entering a Wi-Fi key will feel virtually identical. WPA3 isn’t expected to actually be implemented until 2019, and is predicted to gradually replace the existing WPA2 standard on all Wi-Fi certified devices. WPA2 will continue to function, but will be steadily phased out.

Nevertheless, expect to see major manufacturers rushing to ensure their own products are stamped with the very latest security ‘WPA3 Ready’ branding.

For networking and cybersecurity expertise, please contact Lineal today.


Technology firms rush to fix WPA2 KRACK

Technology firms are urgently issuing fixes for the WPA2 KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack) thought to compromise the WPA2 encryption used in most WiFi routers and other wirelessly enabled devices.

The exploit, discovered and published by Mathy Vanhoef, a Belgian security expert for Imec-Distrinet, Ku Leuven, has caused serious alarm amongst cybersecurity professionals due to the widespread use of WPA2 across millions of items of networked hardware around the World.

Vanhoef’s website, detailing how the the WPA2 KRACK works, demonstrates on video how an unfortunate Android smartphone can be tricked into re-installing an all-zero encryption key, which makes de-crypting data transmitted from the device possible. 

Security guidance remains to continue using WPA2 (rather than reverting to an older encryption standard) and to install the latest WPA2 KRACK security updates from manufacturers as soon as they are available.

A number of key technology vendors were notified in August, giving them some time to prepare. Microsoft are reported to have adjusted “how Windows verifies windows group key handshakes” to fix the issue. Apple and Android are yet to specify exactly when patches will be available, although both are understood to be working on a secure fix to be made available in coming weeks. The more responsive hardware developers, including Cisco and Ubiquiti, yesterday began issuing guidance and new firmware for their wireless equipment.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, the international organisation dedicated to developing Wi-Fi technology, have essentially argued that there is no need to panic. There is no evidence of the extremely serious hack being deployed outside test conditions (yet) – although it’s probably only a matter of time before someone attempts to do so. Because Wi-Fi relies on physical range, it’s likely this could target public Wi-Fi and other easily accessible networks. For this reason, users are (as always) reminded not to use public networks for sensitive tasks, such as online banking.

It’s clear from the increased publicity surrounding the discovery that major vendors of network equipment will be under pressure to issue the required WPA2 KRACK security patches.

However, the underlying vulnerability also threatens a wide range of wirelessly connected internet-of-things (IOT) devices – including everything from CCTV to smart-fridges – such that it’s unclear just how widespread this latest security flaw will actually prove.

For IT support and cybersecurity expertise: get in touch with Lineal today.


5 Tips to Tame your Office Cabling

 

Messy office cabling can cause a number of both technical and safety problems: in addition to being a nasty trip and electrical hazard, bad cabling can lead to overheating, poor network performance, unnecessary stresses on equipment, expensive repair costs, and can make routine maintenance more confusing.

It doesn’t have to be this way – we share our 5 top tips to tame your office cabling and avoid the scourge of messy electronics.

 

  1. Get POE (‘Power Over Ethernet’) Switches and Phones

It really isn’t necessary for every device to have both a power lead and network cabling – investing a little more in a network switch which provides both data AND power to networked devices immediately halves the number of unnecessary cables left trailing around desks.

Modern VOIP phone systems typically include pass-through ports, to network your PC via the phone, cutting the need for yet another long network cable.

 

  1. Get a Server Cabinet

If you’ve got significant onsite hardware, such as servers, larger switches or NAS devices, these tend to accumulate wherever there’s a space for them, however inconvenient.

This is a significantly easier evolution to manage with a purpose built server cabinet – in addition to the clear security benefits of being able to lock your hardware away, a server cabinet provides the racking necessary to ‘stack’ equipment vertically safely and ventilate electronics efficiently.

It’s best to investigate a larger cabinet than is actually required for your long-term hardware investment: to allow long-term room for expansion.

 

  1. Shorter Cables for the Cabinet

If you’ve ever laughed at the uselessness of a 10cm network cable you’ve clearly never wired up a server room: short cables are a lifesaver to connect servers to switches without a vipers pit of excess cable trailing all over the place.

It’s also good for the environment not to use metres of unnecessary copper just to bridge a gap of only a few centimetres – so don’t do it!

 

  1. Get a meshed WiFi Network

It’s not 2006 anymore. Many devices can and should be connected wirelessly to save both the hassle and expense of yet more office cabling cluttering up the place.

Modern business WiFi networks use a series ‘meshed’ access points that pass signal to ensure consistent signal strength, and can be managed centrally from the cloud with ease at low costs. If you’re covering a larger premises or supporting staff with portable devices, it really is a no-brainer.

 

  1. Call the experts

We understand how messy office cabling happens: over time small additions are made until the overall system is a mess, and sooner or later someone is forced to admit it’s a problem.

Whether it’s installing a meshed WiFi network across your site, moving your document sharing to a virtual space in the cloud, or re-wiring an ageing server room: call the Lineal team for professional network expertise.

 


Network overhaul: how Lineal rescued a company from a cabling nightmare

network overhaul

Lineal recently rescued a London-based business from its own private cabling nightmare, with a complete network overhaul.

In a 48-hour marathon rebuild, network engineers from Lineal replaced dozens of faulty cables, analysed every area of the network, adding new switches and other network equipment.

The picture above shows just one of several cabinets, before (left) and after (right) Lineal’s rebuild. The equipment had previously been patched and re-patched over ten years without clear planning, resulting in slower internet access and overheating rooms.

Network engineer Martyn Kay explained: “This company rightly realised that they had to address the problem rather than ignore it – and fortunately we were able to overhaul the entire system.”

The team quickly discovered other unexpected problems, including mystery fibre-optic cables that led nowhere, stray power cables, long-dead switches and improvised cabling ‘borrowing’ internet access from neighbouring departments.

Lineal reconnected every cabinet, replaced every cable with new lines, standardised the colour scheme for data and phones, and added reliable backup switches to improve network resilience and business continuity.

 

For expert network, cabling and IT infrastructure support, click here.


How Lineal provided Free Wifi to Barnstaple Town Centre

 

Over Christmas 2015/16, Lineal launched a technical trial to provide free, public-access Wifi across Barnstaple Town Centre.

The pilot scheme, which took place during the busiest shopping period of the year, saw our team solve a number of technical challenges: scoping sites for Wifi access points, installing suitable hardware and managing network connectivity for shoppers and visitors to the town.

With generous support from Barnstaple Town Centre Management (BTCM), North Devon Council and M&E Alarms, we delivered a free wifi network connected to by more than 400 people each day at peak usage.

To build the network itself, we used Cisco Meraki MR-66 ruggedised outdoor routers, fixing a ‘mesh’ grid of interconnected access points high on selected buildings owned by local businesses who agreed to take part. Visitors to the town could connect from any smartphone or other wirelessely enabled device, via a special ‘splash’ page.

Managing Director of Lineal, Mike Matthews, explained: “We wanted to attempt an ambitious project which would benefit our local area. Wider connectivity opens up new ways for people to find out information about upcoming events, for local businesses to advertise, and for visitors to our town to share their enjoyment of Barnstaple with friends and family over social media. There are many possibilities.”

connectivity trial

Throughout the trial period each access point also collected anonymised location data in real-time. With as many as 20,000 wirelessly enabled devices moving within Barnstaple town centre during a 24 hour period, the free Wifi Project was also successfully used to measure footfall patterns in public places, which could one day be used to help local authorities plan for busy periods.

Although the pilot project has now ended, team members from Lineal presented the initial findings to the Barnstaple Town Centre Management, North Devon Council and Devon County Council in February 2016, with a view to launching the network as a more permanent asset for the town in the near future.

 

For more information on cabling & network infrastructure services from Lineal: click here or call us today on 01271 375999


Bloxx announces discontinuation of products

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Bloxx to become part of Akamai Technologies

Web filtering provider Bloxx have announced that they will be ceasing support for their products and services, following a shock email from the company’s Chief Executive.

The move comes as part of a cash deal takeover bid by cloud services firm Akamai Technologies, announced on 2nd November 2015, and will see an end to the sale of all Bloxx products.

Bloxx has a good reputation in the UK and beyond for delivering a strong feature set in their appliances that are used to filter online content delivered in sensitive environments. Their products are commonly implemented by educators, healthcare providers, local authorities and businesses.

Although existing contracts will be honoured, those who have invested in physical Bloxx hardware may well find the lifespans are now limited, with little indication of whether Akamai will offer suitable replacements.

Bloxx’s impressive record has drawn the attention of national media before, with the Edinburgh based-company receiving hate mail from teenagers unable to access restricted websites on school computers even with a range of proxies.

With online security stories dominating the news in recent weeks, wider awareness of the need for web, social media and email monitoring is likely to only increase demand for such products. It remains to be seen whether interested parties will consider a cloud-based offering from Akamai to be sufficient, especially when it comes to security and bandwidth management.

Need help with online content filtering and network security for your organisation? Speak to Lineal today: call 01271 375999 or email sales[email protected]


Cyber Crime hits the headlines

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Cyber crime is finally set to become the UK’s most common crime type, following inclusion in the latest crime figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This re-classification comes only days after news headlines emerged that an Eastern European crime group successfully used ‘Dridex’ malware to steal over £20m from UK bank accounts via thousands of infected PCs in the UK.

Cyber criminals are increasingly mounting more organised attacks on businesses, small and large – last year even U.S banking giant J.P Morgan suffered unfortunate press and a sudden plunge in its share price when digital thieves stole the personal information and contact details of more than 76 million customers.

The 2015 National Strategic Assessment from the National Crime Agency estimates that losses due to cyber crime in the UK now amount to a staggering £16 billion annually. The NCA also asserted that the theft of large amounts of private companies’ data still faces ‘considerable under reporting.’

Nowhere is this more threatening than for those in the financial services industry, where both reputations for reliability and access to funds make IT security of paramount importance, requiring compliance with the strictest procedures for identity validation, network safety and fraud detection.

All businesses need to be prepared for the future, where cyber crime is likely to become more sophisticated and UK companies may be expected to demonstrate greater data protection measures. This week Microsoft promoted it’s Financial Services Compliance program in connection with Office 365 – making assurances (aimed squarely at businesses in the financial sector) of direct access to staff and resources to ensure that Microsoft Office cloud services comply with financial security regulations.

Greater awareness of cyber crime amongst Government figures, the media and the public can only be a good thing, but ultimately it still remains very much up to the individual to ensure their IT systems are secure – before the worst happens.

 

More than 70% of businesses fail after significant data loss. Lineal can install a range of security measures to safeguard your business IT systems and data – enquire today via: http://www.lineal.co.uk/contact/

 

More from Lineal News

Flickr: GotCredit

George wins Best Apprentice at the North Devon Journal Business Awards

Lineal is delighted to announce that our apprentice George Ward was successful in being awarded Best Apprentice at the North Devon Journal Business Awards on Friday.  George was joined for the presentation evening by Doug Matthews, Matt Norris, Ian Meredith, Mike Matthews, Will Adkin and Martyn Kay who were proud to be there as the winners were announced.

winnerAwards 2015

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