Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Offsite backups the new standard in data safety

With a seemingly endless string of storms coming this hurricane season, companies are reevaluating their backup procedures. Losing hardware is unpleasant but manageable; losing data can be devastating. Until this year, offsite storage costs and bandwidth limitations made such solutions expensive, often forcing companies to choose between onsite backups (such as an external hard drive) and offsite (remote online backups), or even to eschew automatic backups altogether in favor of manually copying files to another computer or drive.

Trialworks partners with MozyPro to bring you secure offsite backups:

Costs have come down so much for both onsite and offsite backups that it has become quite affordable to build a robust backup solution for your organization. Trialworks is now able to offer you secure offsite backups for as little as $7/month plus .50/gigabyte of storage. This is a ‘set it and forget it’ backup system that automatically encrypts your precious data and uploads it to secure offsite servers. After the initial backup, it will only upload your changes, which means that its server overhead is negligible. It can be set to back up your entire server, just your TrialWorks files, or anything in between to create the best balance between cost and coverage. MozyPro offsite backup is simple, automatic, and secure, which is why companies like GE rely on it to keep their data safe.

The best of both worlds:

This system can either be used alone or in addition to other solutions such as ShadowProtect (which is the standard for onsite imaging backup to an external hard drive) to ensure that your data is backed up no matter what happens with weather, power outages, fire, or theft. The previous gold standard for data safety involved using ShadowProtect with two external hard drives, one that was always plugged in and one stored offsite but brought in every week. By combining MozyPro with an onsite solution, it is possible to have the best of both worlds and eliminate the need to take a drive home. You can have the security of an offsite backup that is impervious to natural disasters and the speed of a local backup in the event of a server crash.

/Author: Chad M.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time to Upgrade Network Security

I have taken a more relaxed approach to internet gateways over the years, because most basic routers did a descent job at keeping our typical customers connected.  Most network admins frown at the idea of using a "home" router, such as a Linksys or a D-Link, for an internet gateway in an office; however, for practical purposes and cost savings they have been sufficient.  Many small offices rarely had needs/demands for routers that are more advanced, especially when the price-tag went from a $100 to a $1000.
Times have changed, and home routers are no longer a good option. Primarily because new threats are rampant across the internet and are constantly infecting new targets. We are seeing a trend of infections that are not stopped by anti-virus and regular routers alone; it is finally time to pull out the big guns.
The viruses/threats I am referring to are forms of malware/adware/extorsionware/spyware/etc that are generally installed by the user - unknowingly.  No matter what anti-virus your un (TrendMicro/Kaspersky/Norton/McAffee/AVG/etc) most cannot stop and clean the infections because they are user initiated. They can alert and try to contain them, but generally it is too late.  The result is a few hours in billable time spent on clean-up.
What is different now?
New threats, like the XP Antivirus 2008, will hurt your organization with just one infection.  Once a user - inadvertently - installs the malicious program it will begin spamming. Whether you catch it immediately or not, the software will get a chance to broadcast spam messages which WILL be intercepted by spam traps.  Spam traps are designed to weed out distributors of spam and stop their mail-servers from delivering mail.  As a result, your mail server will become blacklisted within 24 hours and your office communications with the rest of the world will be crippled.  After the infection is contained you will be able to de-list but it is a manual process and can take up to 7 days to complete with some spam-lists.
What can I do about it?
In my view it is no longer an option to risk exposing a network to such threats.  Each outbreak can easily cost a firm $375 (3 hours at $125) of networking time to resolve.  The key to stopping these from spreading is to intercept the malicious code at the internet gateway, and prevent the packets from ever reaching computers inside. Business-class routers with deep packet inspection can do just that.   Your existing antivirus is still important, but it will not handle these threats effectively.
Business-class routers/Deep Packet Inspection?
They are popular and come in all sorts of prices and flavors.  My approach is simple: affordable and complete protection.  For me, this means a SonicWall TZ190 TotalSecure.  They are easy to deploy, cost $995 with a 1 year subscription and $295 each year after that in maintenance.   They will check traffic as it flows into your network and stop packets with malicious code before reaching your computers.  However, if you have more than 25 users, you will need a bigger router, the TZ190's will be working hard to keep your office safe, and going past 25 users will slow them down drastically. 
What should I do now?
You saved about $1000 a few years ago by buying a basic router.  Hopefully that $1000 helped you do other things, maybe even made some cash for you in the process.  Now it is time to invest it into some hardware.  Odds are you will surrender a chunk of it to a malware infection; get a head start and buy something tangible with it.   Give us a call today and we'll order, configure, and deliver your network security appliance.
Additional info about the TZ190 TotalSecure:
The TZ190 TotalSecure is a series of routers with new SKU's for almost ever year they have been around.  We currently offer the latest release of the product. 
The all-in-one solutions remove the complexity associated with choosing between a host of point products and add-on services by integrating everything you need into a convenient, affordable package.

SonicWall TotalSecure combines a high-performance deep packet inspection firewall and dynamic security services to keep your network safe from viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans and more. Even before new threats are identified, TotalSecure solutions are automatically updated with signatures that stop attacks before they can enter your network, ensuring around-the clock protection.
The SonicWall TotalSecure 3G Wireless is a complete high-performance network security platform delivering multi-threat protection and secure 3G broadband network access in an easy-to-use, low cost solution. Combining a deep packet inspection firewall, integrated gateway anti-virus, anti-spyware, intrusion prevention, content filtering and 802.11b/g Wireless LAN access along with type II PC card based 3G wireless broadband support, the TotalSecure 3G Wireless delivers comprehensive security for wired and wireless networks. The foundation of the TotalSecure 3G Wireless is the TZ 190 Wireless which enables organizations to establish secure 3G wireless broadband network access instantly without the need for a fixed Internet connection.

Included with the TotalSecure 3G Wireless is a SonicWall deep packet inspection network security appliance, a one-year subscription to SonicWall Gateway Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware and Intrusion Prevention Service, a one-year subscription to SonicWall Content Filtering Service Standard Edition, a one-year subscription to SonicWall Dynamic Support 24x7 and a license to use Sonic Wall's ViewPoint reporting software.
Written by Karl J. 

Friday, July 18, 2008

iPhone 2.0 (3g), iTouch (iPod) 2.0, and Microsoft Exchange!

Last year none of us were thrilled with the iPhone because of its poor Exchange integration.  We've completed all of our testing this week and find that iPhone 2.0 and iTouch 2.0 are a fantastic improvement. If you can get past the on-screen keyboard and willing to stick with ATT for your cellular needs, the iPhone is a good alternative to Windows Mobile and BlackBerry.
iPhone 2.0:  Assuming you are running Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2 AND you have the HTTPS functions enabled (you do if you previously used a Windows Mobile phone) setup is a breeze. Just go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account > Microsoft Exchange.   Specify your email address, domain\username, and password and have it do the rest.  The iPhone will automatically download and install the SSL Security Certificate. Should it fail, you will be given an option to specify the MS Exchange Server address, which has to be the public address to your network; typically it appears as "".  The phone will do the rest, but you might need to tell it to synch your calendar and also adjust preferences.
iTouch/iPod:  First you need to use iTunes and buy/download the 2.0 software for $9.95.  Once you acquire the 220 MB file and install it the iPod will synch.  Be prepared to loose all your data, so be sure to back it up before then.  The rest of the setup is just as easy as the iPhone.  Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account > Microsoft Exchange.   Specify your email address, domain\username, and password and have it do the rest.  The iPhone will automatically download and install the SSL Security Certificate. Should it fail, you will be given an option to specify the MS Exchange Server address, which has to be the public address to your network; typically it appears as "".  The phone will do the rest, but you might need to tell it to synch your calendar and also adjust preferences.
If you need help, give our tech team a call.
-Karl J.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Unblocking your mail server from AT&T, BellSouth, SBCGlobal

We have seen a large increase of blocking of email servers done by AT&T since they took over BellSouth and SBCGlobal.  When it came to BellSouth we've had a difficult time communicating with the postmasters and locating the blocklists that would generate delays, SMTP Protocol Connection Failed messages, and just regular rejects.  Just recently an email message from the AT&T servers indicated a delisting page that we've been able to use with much success: .  This page can be used by those having issues with all three providers.
/Karl J

Monday, June 09, 2008

iPhone 2.0 and the MobileMe - why enterprise users do not need the service.

Just after the last post I had a customer ask me about MobileMe from Apple.  All Exchange Server users should know is that MobileMe is for all those who do not have Microsoft Exchange in their corporate environment.  It is a service that provides iPhones, iPods, MACs and PCs with a simple way to keep E-Mail, Calendars, Contacts, etc.. up to date when Microsoft Exchange is not an option.  In other words, corporate users do not need this service.

iPhone 2.0 will support Microsoft Exchange Active Synch

Today the new iPhone 2.0 was unveiled in San Francisco, and among the new features is the Microsoft Active Synch support.  This is a large improvement over the iPhone 1.0's support for Microsoft Exchange which used the IMAP protocol to download mail.  With the new software the iPhone will be capable of synchronizing live data from the MS Exchange Server including e-mail, calendar, and contacts. Moreover, with the push technology (also available on Windows Mobile phones) the synchronizations for e-mails should be fast and use less battery power to complete each time.   We'll know more about that on July 11th (or sometime thereafter). 

Some of the benefits to the iPhone (aside from the love some people have for Apple products like the iPod) is support for attachments including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  Furthermore, it will also handle images and PDF files. 
We've tested the iPhone 1.0 version and felt it did not fit our customers as it was not an enterprise product.  iPhone 2.0 looks more promising but there are some red-flags on the horizon. For one, it uses the touch interface where as many of our customers prefer keyboards. More important, however, is that not being a Windows Mobile Device it may not support the security features - such as remote wipe - that we can accomplish with regular Windows Mobile Devices.  We will put that to further testing once it becomes available.
/Karl J

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Free BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express Days Are Over Thanks To BlackBerry Professional!

The good old days of free BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express are officially over (well, they actually ended a couple of months ago). For those of you that may have tried using BESExpress in the past, you may have realized that it was possible to register multiple BlackBerries for individual BES accounts, and use the BESCAL license key in the existing installation. Thereby, an office could get up to 15 free BESCAL licenses for their use. The licenses were available for purchase (for about $100) but no one bothered as it only took a few minutes to get the free ones. Apparently that practice was frowned upon by Research In Motion, which took a very dramatic step in preventing that from happening.

They rebranded the product as BlackBerry Professional (BPS). It operates just like BESExpress did except that it will not allow the use of the “initial” BESCAL keys on an existing install. This means that an office can get 1 (ONE) free BPS license but the rest are subject to the ~$100 purchase price.

The latest service pack for BESExpress (or BPS) allows admins to upgrade the software to the BES Professional version. Fortunately, it does not impact existing blackberry licenses – if you got away with it in the past you can continue to do so with the existing licenses. However, if you choose to add new BlackBerries - you have to pay. Since the old registration keys are no longer available for the previous install, even without the upgrade the users have to pay the fee.

Comparison between Small Business Edition BES Vs. BlackBerry Professional Software BPS

Author: Karl J

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Helpful hint for TrialWorks Addin for Outlook Users!

If a user tags a message to a case but chooses not to file immediately, that message will remain in the inbox indefinitely. Fortunately there is a simple process for expediting the transfer of the tagged message to TrialWorks at a later time. Outlook 2003 and 2007 users should be familiar with the Favorite Folders option. The first step to making this process simple is to find the “Outbox > TrialWorks” folder and add it to the Outlook Favorites. The process is simple, just find the folder, right click, and choose “Add to Favorites”. Next, the user will see the “TrialWorks” folder show up in the favorite folders section of Outlook. At that point any message (which was previously tagged) can be dragged to that folder; from there, messages will automatically file to their designated case. This is also useful for instances where the message remains in the mailbox for other reasons.

TrialWorks version 9.5 is available for Tobacco Fund Firms!

TrialWorks version 9.5 will be officially released later this week. The release, which closely follows the 9.4a, has additional features in Mass Torts for Tobacco Fund cases. For example, tens of thousands of ill Florida smokers and families of those who died are lining up for a share of a $600 million fund created by major tobacco companies as part of a 14-year-old lawsuit against cigarette manufacturers. TrialWorks Case Management Software is now equipped to efficiently process the necessary information from the potential clients and streamline the litigation. Any firms in receiving this functionality are encouraged to schedule an upgrade by calling 800-377-5844 or using the Online Account Manager to create the request.

TrialWorks version 9.4a Released!

Last week we posted version 9.4 followed shortly by version 9.4a. Most of the changes will be under the 9.4 heading, so you can use the following link to get the details: . This release included several fixes, an array of suggestions, and a few new features. Our upgrade calendar has been very busy this week but we still have room for upgrades. Version 9.5 is due out to be released shortly - read about that in my next blog.
-karl j.