Setting up an FTP connecting using FileZilla

March 13, 2008

image

FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a method for transferring files between two computers on a network. This can be between two computers on your local business network or a computer the other side of the world. Dating as far back as 1971, FTP is still widely used today from a web developer updating a website or company distributing files that are too large to be sent via email.

Back in the day using FTP was bit of chore. You needed to type in commands like FTP, BYE, MKDIR, GET, PUT, MPUT and MGET at the command line to navigate the file system. Far too geeky!

image

Luckily you can use graphical user interface to make using FTP less of a chore. Windows users can simply need to open up Windows Explorer or My Computer, doesn’t matter which, just type in ftp://<IP address or computer> into the address bar. For example ftp://ftpservername.com or ftp://123.456.789.123. It will then prompt you for a username and password. Once logged in, click on the Folders icon on the address bar and simply use it as if you’re moving files around locally on your PC.

Mac people check out this page, Using FTP in Finder.

Power Users

If you use FTP on daily basis you will probably benefit from a dedicated FTP client. FTP clients like FileZilla provide a wealth of features from account management for handling multiple FTP logins, transfer resumes, intelligent file over writes and configurable speed limits.

So here is quick overview to getting started with FileZilla, an open source product (free) which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

  1. Firstly head over to FileZilla website, download (client version) and install
  2. Once installed, load it up and click on Site Manager icon (above host)

    image

  3. This will launch Site Manager. Click on New Site > in the Host field enter the address of the web server and select Logontype as Normal > enter User and Password.

    image

  4. On the next tab labelled Advanced, click on Browse and select the local directory you typically transfer files to and from on your computer. If you know the directory on the FTP server you can also enter this under Default remote directory. Once finished, click on OK.

    image

  5. Now that FileZilla has your FTP login details, which are hopefully correct (double check them!) simply click on the drop icon next to the Site Icon you click on before. This will connect you to your FTP server. On the left hand side you have your local files and on the right the remote files on the FTP server. You can either drag and drop, double click on them or right click on them to transfer them between the two locations. image

Read more at Wikipedia File Transfer Protocol and Filezilla Wiki

Author: Support @ 9:00 am




Protecting Your Blog: David Airey’s story

January 28, 2008

Christmas Crackers

Last Month David Airey was victim of a hacker (Cracker) that managed to transfer his domain name, Davidairey.com. Within a couple of weeks with some help from the blogsphere, David managed to transfer his name back. David story is a timely reminder that your website/blog isn’t bullet proof from attack.

A week after this happened, one of my mates had £500 ($1000) taken from his PayPal account which was caused by his eBay account being hacked into. Fortunately PayPal refunded this money, well done PayPal!  This certainly made me think again about web security.

You can read more about David’s story below:-

  1. David Airey.com hacked

  2. Google Gmail Security Hijack

  3. Collective effort restores David Airey.com

How can you protect your blog?

1. Backup your blog posts – Your blog has two parts, the files stored on the web server and the data stored in the blog database.

2. Use strong passwords – Always throw a mixture of numbers and none-numeric characters in your passwords.

Top 10 Most Common Passwords In The UK

3. Change your passwords – As well as having strong passwords, make sure you rotate or change the most important ones at least four times a year. Even if its just to increment a number within the password.

4. Use Feedburner – This really saved David’s bacon because the majority of his readers (3,000 of them) where subscribed via his Feedburner address rather that directly from his blog. I’ve wrote about this subject before…

Getting the whole picture, WordPress and Feedburner

5. Avoid Free Email Accounts – Whenever possible use a private email address for important account registration details such as domain, website hosting etc. Alternatively have a free email account that is only used for account registrations.  

6. Install the latest version – Whatever your blog platform maybe (WordPress, Durpal etc), make sure you try to keep up-to-date with the latest version. Yes this can be some what of a pain, but whenever working on your blog, try and fit an update.

Author: Support @ 9:00 am




21 Ways to Bullet Proof your IT infrastructure

January 23, 2008

bullet proof

If backups is about making sure your company data is safe, then building IT redundancy is making sure you have the infrastructure to read that information back. So how can you increase the resilience of your business infrastructure?

Increasing sales, number of clients and profit margins are top priorities for businesses. Building redundancy and fall over systems for the business are probably bottom of the pile. Why, simple because investing in such backup systems doesn’t increase sales, clients or profits. But, if your business does suffer a major disaster, then these redundancy systems have everything to do with profit margins.

image 1. Network and Desktop Protection – I think most people realise they need an anti-virus solution to guard against viruses, a firewall to protect their business network from the outside world. However, without sounding like an insurance sales man, sometimes this is not enough protection. On the desktop front, you need to consider malware, root kits, Trojans along with viruses. Many of the latest anti-viruses solutions guard against all these things. Depending on the size of your company, you might also consider additional protection for your network. This could include dedicated firewalls, internal firewalls, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), Spam, Malware and virus filters etc.

2. External Backup Email Address – Make sure you have a backup email address that can be used, should your primary address not be available. I would suggest a free email account from someone like Google or Yahoo. Make sure you check the account every so often, else it could be deactivated if it lies dormant for too long. Google Gmail can easily integrate into existing email clients such as Thunderbird or Outlook. You can also download the desktop notification program.

image 3. Online Backup Solution – Backup solutions can be a real pain in the backside. If you have tape solution, you probably need to change the tape on a daily basis and store the tapes in a different location for protection against fire. An online backup solution means your business data is stored offsite in a secure environment. Changes in your business data are automatically encrypted and transferred over the internet to secure location. I would recommend that businesses should have a local backup solution for full quick system recovery and an online backup to protect against complete loss of business premises.

4. Temporary Premises – What would you do tomorrow if you lost your office or factory space? This could be due to fire, flood, maintenance or temporary access to the internet. It maybe worth looking at what office space is available to rent at a moments notice in your area. You could consider a two way agreement with a neighbouring business for office space, or maybe just you’re local Starbucks for internet access!

5. Physical Security – One factor that is often over looked when it comes to protecting your IT infrastructure is physical security. Gaining access to your network, servers and backup tapes is often easily achieved by physically walking into a business premises. Think about quality locks, keypads, swipe cards, visitor badges, safes etc can restrict access to sensitive areas of your business.

I once did a weeks professional training course on hacking (very interesting) by ex-MoD expert, the last day he show us how easy it was to pick and spring padlocks, so make sure you buy quality locks that require the key to engage the lock.

image

6. User Logon Profiles – Once your staffing levels reach around seven or more, your business could benefit from having a client-server environment. Typically, this will involve a server which authenticates user login details, desktop settings, user files and application settings. This means a user will be able to log in to any computer within the business and have access to their desktop. So next time a computer breaks down you can simply login to a spare machine.

7. File Synchronisation – If you run a business with a server that hosts your company files and documents, you should consider enabling offline file synchronisation. This means if your server or network is unavailable you can continue accessing your personal documents. Once the issue has been fixed, changes to your documents are synchronised back to the server. This is also handy for laptop users who are out and about on the road.

8. Make use of Redundant Hardware – Instead of throwing out that old machine why not install Linux operating system which requires a lot less memory, disk space and processing power compared to a Windows system. What’s more, Linux is free and has a wide range of freely available software you can use. For example your machine could run an as:-

– Intranet or CRM server
– Email Server
– Backup storage
– Network Monitoring System
– Snort (IDS)
– Additional Spam protection
– Firewall (SmoothFirewall)
– Internet access for the staff canteen or warehouse
– Public information point, coupled with a trendy flat screen!
– DNS, Proxy or DHCP server

9. Refreshing Hardware and Software – As the business grows, you should set aside money to replace existing hardware and software. You don’t want to upset the apple cart, but at the same time you don’t want the company to stay stuck in the dark ages. Refreshing parts of your IT infrastructure from time to time will not only give your workforce the best tools, but often additional redundancy features. As mentioned in tip 8, make use of redundant hardware and software as fall over systems to your new equipment.

image 10. Backup Internet Connection – This suggestion all depends on how much your business is dependent on internet access. Consider how much it costs your business per hour without an internet connection. If you are talking in the hundreds then it might be worth considering a backup internet connection. If possible choose an ISP that uses a different technology other than your primary supplier. For example, ADSL internet that uses a standard phone line and a backup connection that uses a cable modem from a cable provider. If you purchase the correct network equipment, you could utilise both connections for increase speed and bandwidth. You could also consider a two-way agreement with a neighbouring business to use their internet connection should yours be unavailable.

11. Knowledge Base System – There are many ways that your business can introduce systems to harvest the knowledge of your staff. This might be a company Wiki, Social Bookmarking, helpdesk or Customer Relationship Manager. Implementing such systems will not only have a positive affect, but also protect against loss of information when staff move on.

12. Software Drivers, Applications, Network Settings and Serial Keys – It is easy to think that once the business data is safely backed up, that the company is protected. However, if the business can’t rebuild the business platform (IT infrastructure) quickly, the company data starts to lose its value. Make sure you have access to driver disks (CDs), application software, router settings, application serial keys etc

13. Software Updates – Make sure you software is kept up-to-date with the latest security patches. This can include applications, operating systems, network devices and servers. A word of warning, sometimes updates can cause a few problems. So be careful when it comes to updating critical systems such as servers and network devices. Its why you need tip number 14!

image 14. IT Support Company – You might be or have a computer guru within your business and have no need for a day-to-day support from an IT company. Although what happens when the computer guru is off or leaves? You never know when disaster strikes and you end up over your head with IT problems. You panic and ringing the first IT support company you come across. Instead, shop around, talk about your current IT setup. Ask if they would be available to help should you land in hot water.

15. IT policy – Make sure your staff are aware and understand how they should use the IT infrastructure correctly. Although you might think it does not need spelling out. Having a company IT policy written down on paper and signed by staff will not only act as a preventative measure, but also keep you protected should you need to let a member of staff go.

16. Fire proof safe – We briefly mentioned this one before, but its worth considering a fireproof safe to secure backup’s, software and serial keys etc. Even if you can’t afford a fireproof safe, regular safe is better than nothing.

image 17. UPS and Surge Protection – Uninterrupted power supply (UPS) allows you protect your computer systems from power cuts. This is a absolute must for any servers in your business. Even if the power cut lasts longer that 20 minutes, the UPS will gracefully shutdown the computer.

18. Hardware Supplier – Another reason to have a relationship with a local computer support company. Typically, they can arrange the correct equipment to be ordered cheaper and quicker that businesses that don’t purchase hardware on a regular basis. More than likely, they will have spare equipment they can lend you.

19. Backup Backup Backup and Test – You can make sure all your bases are covered, but if you don’t have access to your company data, it can all be a complete waste of time. So make sure you have a backup solution or two! Also, unless you test your backup solutions, you can’t say with a 100% certainly that you’re covered.

20. Disaster Recovery Document – Have your IT support company produce a comprehensive imageand professional Disaster Recovery Document. Generally, the report should cover things like IT settings, a recovery plan and suggestions to increase protection. Make sure you have copy available outside the office, which is held securely, remember this is the keys to your business!

21. Come back stronger – If disaster does strike, before you start the recovery process it might be worth taking a step back and thinking how you would do things differently.

What measures do you take to protect your IT infrastructure?

I’m expecting 5 or more from our good friend, Jason!





How to send sensitive data securely

November 22, 2007

missing discs

British Government has been in a bit of bother this week after losing two discs containing over 25 million records of personal details of parents who received child benefit. So when dealing with sensitive data what is the best way to transfer the information between offices?

At some point in business you might be tasked with sending large amounts of personal and sensitive data to another business or office. Without getting too technical, here are a couple suggestions and yet effective ways to send sensitive data.

1. Required Data Only – Think about why you are needing to send the data. Maybe only certain fields or records need to be sent, just an update file containing records that have changed. So if the worst happens and the data falls into the wrong hands only a partial picture can be painted.

2. Password Protect the File – Most desktop application have the ability to password protect the documents they create. Although the latest versions of Microsoft Office have vastly improved on security front, you need only do a search for “Microsoft Office Password” and see platter of software aimed at breaking password protected documents.

3. Encrypt the File – Once you have password protected the file. You need to encrypt the file using third party software such AxCrypt with an extremely long password phrase and industrial strength algorithm.

Does anyone else have suggestions for encryption software?

4. Split the File and Send Separately – Whatever means you decide to send the data it might be worth while splitting the file into two parts and sending it separately at different time periods. That way if you lose one part of the file in transit the data is still secure. To split the file you could use 7zip or HJ-Split.

5. Sending the Passwords – All your good work will be un-done if you don’t equally take care when sending the passwords. You should presume sending them via email is not a secure method.

6. Check eBay – You should check eBay if your discs do go missing.

image

Courier Trouble

That wasn’t the only thing that the courier TNT apparently lost in October. Last month we ordered four rather expensive servers on a tight deadline and only one turned up! We are still sorting out the mess this has caused between them and Computer 2000 who made a complete mess of the whole affair.

Mr Darling told MPs: “Two password protected discs containing a full copy of HMRC’s entire data in relation to the payment of child benefit was sent to the NAO, by HMRC’s internal post system operated by the courier TNT.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7103566.stm

If you have any additional suggestions to sending sensitive data I would love to hear them.

Author: Support @ 9:00 am




Free Remote Support Software

October 10, 2007

remote control support

Many businesses benefit from remote support software which enables IT departments and computer support companies to resolve computer issues. For businesses that are big enough to have a central server, this can be achieved easily with little expenditure using software like VNC or Remote Desktop. Smaller businesses typically need to purchase software like Log Me In or Go To Assist. That was until CrossLoop came on the scene.

CrossLoop is an ideal solution for businesses:-

  • That don’t have a central server
  • Don’t want to mess around with router configurations
  • Require a secure connection
  • More than one PC in their network
  • Require remote support while out of the office
  • Don’t have a static IP address provided by their ISP (As a business you will benefit from having a static IP address)
  • or are not willing to purchase remote support software

CrossLoop does have a couple of disadvantages over other paid solutions. Such as, you can’t transfer files (now comes with file transfer!) and you need someone else to confirm access code at the other end. Although with one of my clients, I prefer this level of security because of the nature of the sensitive information they deal with.

How does remote support software work?

Here is a quick explanation of how remote control software works in businesses that have server and those that don’t.

how remote support software works with businesses that have a central server

Think of the server as a secretary that re-directs your telephone calls to the correct person (computer) within the business.

how remote support software works with businesses that don't have a central server

For businesses that don’t have a secretary (server), the computer support company needs a virtual secretary (CrossLoop, Logmein etc) to assist them with the location of the person (computer) to whom they are connecting to.

How to use CrossLoop

Here is Terinea’s quick guide to using CrossLoop.

  1. Download and install CrossLoop, from
    http://www.CrossLoop.com/download.html
  2. Run CrossLoop – requiring remote assistance. Alternatively if you’re joining a hosted CrossLoop session jump to step 3.
    1. If you’re requiring remote assistance, click on the HOST tab and provide the person connecting to you with the Access Code.
      crossloop host tab
    2. Once they have the access code, press “Connect” and wait for them to connect.
      waiting for connection, crossloop
    3. Once the connection has been made, you will need confirm by clicking on Yes.
      confirm connection crossloop
  3. Run CrossLoop – joining a hosted CrossLoop session – Providing support.
    1. Click on the JOIN tab and enter the access code provided by your friend (HOST).
      image
    2. Click connect and wait for the host to confirm connection (Step 3 Above)
      image
    3. After a couple of second the process should be complete, enabling you to control the remote computer
      Crossloop connected

File Transfers and more

Alternatively you can watch an eight minute video that explains the process in more detail, although I prefer Robert Scoble video below. It is also worth visiting CrossLoop’s excellent user guide page that explains the process in more detail, including how to transfer files. I have also made this page available as a PDF.

CrossLoop, Windows Vista and Windows Defender

Windows Defender and Crossloop

When using CrossLoop on Windows Vista, a screen a like above may appear, click on the Ignore button. Windows Defender seems to think its some type of spyware. I can re-assure you, it isn’t!

To stop this from happening again, click on Start bar (Windows logo) > Control Panel > Security > Windows Defender. Under Review potentially unwanted items, click on Review items detected by real-time protection. Once the screen below appears select Always Allow from Action and then Apply Actions.

crossloop window sdefender

What remote access software do you use?

Author: Support @ 6:21 pm




Improving Windows XP for Families

August 14, 2007

the family computer

Now you’d think that ‘Windows XP Home’ would have been created to do what it says on the tin, be a system tailored for home users, in particular families with kids! Unfortunately without downloading a rather simple and free application from Microsoft, Windows XP is rather a poor offering.

In a family you would expect there to be a range of ages and that for some of the people using the computer you would want to restrict from being able to do things. ie. Not being able to install new programs, but it would be nice if they could run programs that had been installed – wouldn’t it?   Well what a nightmare that can become when you’ve got kids!

The Family PC

You set up your PC, give everybody their own login account, that way little Billy can’t get upset when little Maisie changes the desktop background to a pink puppy. Each of the kids are set to be a ‘Limited Account’ whilst Mum, Dad or both are setup as ‘Computer Administrators’, that way Mum or Dad can install programs and then the kids can play them, right? Wrong! Unfortunately there are a whole load of games out there that the kids are going to want to play and they are not going to work unless they are started as by an Administrator which could get to be a bit of a grind when the kids are changing from one game to another and constantly harassing Mum or Dad to come and start the program for them. Not only are Mum and Dad going to get thoroughly fed up but also the kids are going to learn that computers are not very user friendly. Why they can go and use their playstation or DS and it’s easy!

Windows SteadyState

Windows SteadyState There is no easy way around this in Windows XP, there are no nice easy little settings to go and set to make things run as you would want them to run. But there is something else that you can download, for free, and it’s quite easy to setup. What is it? It’s called Windows SteadyState which supercedes a product called ‘Microsoft Shared Computer Toolkit’. Just download it, install it and then run it. 

 

Windows SteadyState You can set the kids accounts back to being ‘Computer Administrators’ but you can now use this tool to limit what they can do. I would recommend that you set the kids accounts back to being ‘Computer Administrators’ before using the tool. The basic settings that I have found have worked to begin with are to set the settings to ‘Medium restrictions’ for both the ‘Windows restrictions’ and ‘Feature restrictions’ tabs for each of the kids accounts. You have the option to fine tune these settings in the right hand panel on each of these tabs.

Some other uses for SteadyState

Wait, its not just for families…

In the classroom

Classrooms and computer labs can offer groups of users a consistent and reliable computer learning environment more efficiently, while increasing the productivity of the teaching staff.

In an Internet café

Internet cafés, kiosks, and other businesses offering commercial access to shared computers can help increase customer satisfaction while reducing computer down time, administrative costs, and total cost of ownership.

At the library

Libraries and community technology centers can help protect computers against tampering cost effectively. They can customize shared user profiles to meet the needs of different patrons.

I hope that this will help some of the people out there that have been struggling with Windows XP’s lack of built-in easy to use features that would help it do what it says on the tin.

Robin

 

Author: Support @ 8:00 am




12 Ways to backup your data

August 8, 2007

image

Everyone knows backing up your documents and files is something we should do on a regular basis, but quite often this task gets pushed to the bottom of the todo list. You might already have a system in place but would it fail if your office was in a fire? When was the last time you checked your backup’s actually work?

Over the coming weeks I will cover a range of topics on backup solutions to make your life easier. This weeks post is about the various types of backup solutions currently available. 

Still not convinced you need to read this post? Check out the story behind the picture above!

  1. Online
    Online backup is quickly becoming the most popular form of backup for individuals and small businesses. A backup program constantly monitors your document and files. Any changes to these files are copied, compressed, encrypted and then uploaded to the backup solution provider via your internet connection. 
    Example : http://www.jungledisk.com/
  2. Local and Online
    One of the draw backs to online backup is what happens when you need to recovery all your data quickly. Even with 8MB broadband connection it can take well over an hour to download one gigabyte of data. Some companies provide you with a small backup machine that takes a local backup and then uploads. If your data is lost you can restore it from the backup box. If your server and the backup box are destroyed the service provider will send an engineer on site with a replacement box with a copy of your data that was last updated.
    Example : http://www.datafort.co.uk/datafort_deluxe.asp
  3. Backup Media

    Tape technology has been around for over 50 years and is still widest used form of backup for businesses. Although the initial outlay can be expensive, tape drives still offers the quickest and cheapest way to backup large amounts of data. Currently the largest capacity tape is around 800 GB, but if you need something bigger, a tape library system can combine a series of tapes to provide a massive 80TB (80,000 GB’s) of data. Tape backup solution also provides an easy and cheap way to archive large amounts data for legal requirements that many businesses face. A typical tape solution will start from £300 ($600) and with tapes cost anything from £5 ($10) upwards depending on the capacity. 
    http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/storage/tape/ts3100/index.html

    CD/DVD media are generally quicker and cheaper than tape technology. Although the average business will backup well over 8.5 GB capacity of DVD media can currently handle. Yeah you can span data over multiple CD/DVD’s but as I will mention next week, Keep it simple. You might want to consider DVD media for monthly archiving for a companies that utilise an online backup system.

    HD-DVD and Blu-Ray media is another option that offers up to 50 GB of storage, but until the technology matures I wouldn’t consider this viable backup solution just yet.
    http://www.blu-ray.com/ | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_DVD

  4. Peer to Peer, online backup 
    Another online backup solution is Peer to Peer or P2P technology. Your data is encrypted, compressed, split into many bits and then uploaded to multiple locations all over the world. You can backup as much data as you’d like, but for every megabyte you want to save you need to provide another ten megabytes of space on your local PC for other people’s backups. In principle your data is backed up ten times!
    Academic Paper : http://www.mit.edu/~cbatten/work/pstore-tr02.pdf
  5. Peer to Peer, local backup
    Instead of your data being distributed all over the internet the same concept can be applied by using spare hard drive space available on your desktop machines within your business network. 
    Example : http://www.peersoftware.com
     
  6. Backup Buddies 
    Similar concept to P2P backup, but instead of backing up to multiple anonymous locations, you and a friend backup each others data over the internet. Again your data is secured through encryption, compressed and transferred via your broadband connection. You can have more than one backup destination which can be a local PC, another PC over the internet or you can use solution providers servers.
    Example : http://crashplan.com/
  7. Portable Storage 
    USB hard drives and keys are one of the most common forms of backup for individuals and small businesses. Most operating systems come with some type of backup software that allows you to automate the process.
  8. Internal Hard Disk
    Exactly the same as the portable storage but the hard drive is inside the computer. Such a solution can often be cheaper, offer greater speeds and can configured for disk mirroring (RAID technology).
  9. Network Attached Disk (NAS)
    NAS drive are very similar to your USB drive with the added advantage that they don’t require USB connection to your machine. Instead, you connect them to your network and set them up as a mapped network drive on your machine. All users of the network (Linux, Mac, Windows) can place data on this storage space. This type of storage offers small businesses an excellent backup solution. Prices start from as little £100 ($200) for 200GB capacity NAS drive.
    http://www.whatpc.co.uk/personal-computer-world/features/2166311/living-nas
  10. Storage Area Network (SAN)
    Similar system to to NAS drives aimed at backup Terabytes (1000’s GB) of data for large enterprises.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storage_area_network
  11. Shadow Copy
    Some operating systems such as Windows Vista allow you to enable a feature called Shadow Copying. The system takes snapshots of your files when changes are made to them. This allows you can roll back to pervious version of a documents and files without the need to implement the recovery process from your backup solution. This should be in addition to your backup solution, not the backup solution!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_copy
  12. Offline Synchronisation
    The operating system takes a complete copy of all the files available on your shared network drive. When your away from the office or your file server is unavailable you can continue to working on your documents and files. When your network drive becomes available again your files are synchronise back to the file server. Again like the Shadow Copying this should be in addition to your backup solution.
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/312171

 

Author: Support @ 8:00 am




Older Posts »