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The number of High Court cases in which sensitive corporate data has been stolen by employees has increased by 25% in a year, according to a London law firm.

EMW senior solicitor, Felix Dodd, claimed that an increase in staff turnover could be the cause of the rise, from 40 cases in 2015 to 50 last year.

In other words, malicious insiders are deliberately taking customer databases, sensitive financial information and the like with them to help with their new roles.

He added that the ubiquity of smartphones and cloud storage platforms has made the process far simpler without raising suspicion.

In the financial services sector, firms need to guard their proprietary algorithms with care, while recruiters and estate agents are more likely to be affected by the loss of client databases, said Dodd.

“Theft of confidential data has become such a widespread concern for firms in the City that many of them ban their employees from sending work emails to their personal accounts, and some now even disable some functions on their employees’ smartphones,” he explained.

“Bigger businesses should have the systems in place to be able to monitor activity like this effectively, but a lot of smaller businesses might not have the budget or skills to track what their employees are doing with sensitive data.”

This year a former employee of aviation cleaning company, OCS Group UK, was jailed after sending confidential information to his personal email address, breaking the terms of a court order. Meanwhile, investment management firm, Marathon Asset Management, won a case against two former employees who breached their contracts by copying and retaining key files.

Head of employment at Lennons, Leah Waller, argued that the increase in High Court cases could be down to the fact that firms can now apply for compensation by way of damages rather than being forced to bring a criminal action for theft.

“With technology advancing at an incredible speed, and the majority of information now being stored electronically with easy access, the instances of employees, especially those that leave on bad terms, taking confidential information is likely to continue to increase and as such the number of claims in the High Court will continue to rise,” she added.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, argued that the insider threat is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses.

“Employees rank at the very top of the list of threats to data and systems,” he added.

“Their motivations are often hard to predict and anticipate, ranging from a desire for financial gain to disaffection, coercion and simple carelessness. When insider-assisted attacks do occur, the impact of such attacks can be devastating as they provide a direct route to the most valuable information – customer data.”

To mitigate the threat, Emm recommended a combination of staff education, threat intelligence services, restricted access to key systems and regular security audits.

Written by Phil Muncaster UK / EMEA News Reporter , Infosecurity Magazine

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/insider-data-theft-court-cases/

Picture credit: http://www.channeltimes.com

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock-solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meeting? No problem, your help desk has your back. 

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

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Modern website browsers provide an incredibly broad range of features, with more and more capabilities being added every day.

New research by computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have identified numerous browser functionalities rarely used or needed by websites, but which pose substantial security and privacy risks to web surfers. Blocking website access to unnecessary browser functionality would help reduce these risks.

Peter Snyder, a graduate student of computer science at UIC, and his colleagues looked at the costs and benefits associated with websites having access to 74 different types of functionality (collectively called web application programming interface, or API). They measured how frequently each of these features was used on websites, and how likely each was to pose a risk to security or privacy. Features with a low benefit to users, but a high security risk, were flagged as those that could be blocked to improve security, Snyder explained.

"For example, browsers allow websites to perform low-level graphics calculations," said Snyder. "We found that this functionality is rarely used on honest websites, but that malicious sites can use it to harm users' privacy and security." Allowing all websites to access this feature is "a bad cost-benefit trade-off," Snyder explained.

Other examples of high-risk, low-benefit functionality the researchers uncovered included code that lets browsers detect light levels in a room, perform fine-grained timing operations and perform advanced audio synthesis operations.

Snyder and his colleagues will present their findings at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Dallas on October 31.

In their analysis, the researchers used Firefox as their test browser, since it is the most popular, fully open-source browser. Findings from the Firefox browser should generalize to other browsers, Snyder explained, because it has access to an almost identical suite of capabilities as other common browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer.

"Ultimately we saw that about 25 percent of web API posed high risks to security and privacy and could be blocked without breaking websites," Snyder said. He explained that by blocking risky functionality, the amount of code a website accesses is also reduced. "The less code you have available through the web API, the safer websites you'll have."

Based on their findings, Snyder's team developed a browser extension that allows users to selectively block browser functionality to improve safety when it comes to surfing the web.

Brave, a company focused on providing safer web browsing and founded by the inventor of JavaScript and the co-founder of Mozilla, plans on incorporating parts of the research into its open-source web browser, Brave Browser.

Cynthia Taylor and Chris Kanich, assistant professors of computer science at UIC, are co-authors on the paper.

Story Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171023181510.htm

Materials provided by University of Illinois at Chicago. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Picture Credit: PCMag.com

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock-solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

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Over two-thirds of organisations are running unsupported versions of Microsoft Office, exposing them to cyber-threats, according to a new study from Spiceworks.

The IT professional network polled over 1,100 IT pros in the US, Canada and UK to better understand the usage of productivity suites in their organisations.

It found 68% are still running some instances of Office 2007, despite the package reaching end of support in October this year.

The bad news doesn’t end there: 46% were running Office 2003; 21% Office 2000; and 15% are still on Office XP (2002 version). Some 3% even claimed they are still running some machines on Office 97.

“Although they might not grab as many headlines as end-of-support OSes, Office suites that are past their prime are susceptible to danger, similar to their OS cousins,” explained Spiceworks senior technology analyst, Peter Tsai.

“Just like any software or system in use, productivity suites need to be patched for security reasons. Once an OS no longer receives updates, it's a security liability. Over the years, there have been hundreds of vulnerabilities identified in Microsoft Office.”

If organizations need reminding of the damage that can result from an unpatched vulnerability, they just need to look at the chaos inflicted by WannaCry and NotPetya, two worm-like ransomware threats that caused mass service outages across the globe in May and June.

Global shipper Maersk has already admitted NotPetya may end up costing it $300m, while FedEx arrived at a similar figure.

It’s not all bad news, however, with Spiceworks revealing that over half (53%) of responding organizations are using Office365, the online productivity suite which is always up-to-date. A further 17% plan to migrate over the next two years.

In addition, 17% are currently using Google’s G Suite.

The report claimed mid-sized firms (100-1,000 employees) are most likely to run Office 2007, with larger organizations usually having more funds to keep up-to-date with the latest software and smaller counterparts having migrated more readily to Office 365.

Written by Phil Muncaster UK / EMEA News Reporter , Infosecurity Magazine

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/most-organizations-run-outofdate/

Picture credit: http://www.floridalocksmith.org

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

 

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A mineral discovered in Russia in the 1830s known as a perovskite holds a key to the next step in ultra-high-speed communications and computing.

Researchers from the University of Utah's departments of electrical and computer engineering and physics and astronomy have discovered that a special kind of perovskite, a combination of an organic and inorganic compound that has the same structure as the original mineral, can be layered on a silicon wafer to create a vital component for the communications system of the future. That system would use the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that uses light instead of electricity to shuttle data, allowing cellphone and internet users to transfer information a thousand times faster than today.

The new research, led by University of Utah electrical and computer engineering professor Ajay Nahata and physics and astronomy Distinguished Professor Valy Vardeny, was published Monday, Nov. 6 in the latest edition of Nature Communications.

The terahertz range is a band between infrared light and radio waves and utilizes frequencies that cover the range from 100 gigahertz to 10,000 gigahertz (a typical cellphone operates at just 2.4 gigahertz). Scientists are studying how to use these light frequencies to transmit data because of its tremendous potential for boosting the speeds of devices such as internet modems or cell phones.

Nahata and Vardeny uncovered an important piece of that puzzle: By depositing a special form of multilayer perovskite onto a silicon wafer, they can modulate terahertz waves passing through it using a simple halogen lamp. Modulating the amplitude of terahertz radiation is important because it is how data in such a communications system would be transmitted.

Previous attempts to do this have usually required the use of an expensive, high-power laser. What makes this demonstration different is that it is not only the lamp power that allows for this modulation but also the specific color of the light. Consequently, they can put different perovskites on the same silicon substrate, where each region could be controlled by different colors from the lamp. This is not easily possible when using conventional semiconductors like silicon.

"Think of it as the difference between something that is binary versus something that has 10 steps," Nahata explains about what this new structure can do. "Silicon responds only to the power in the optical beam but not to the color. It gives you more capabilities to actually do something, say for information processing or whatever the case may be."

Not only does this open the door to turning terahertz technologies into a reality -- resulting in next-generation communications systems and computing that is a thousand times faster -- but the process of layering perovskites on silicon is simple and inexpensive by using a method called "spin casting," in which the material is deposited on the silicon wafer by spinning the wafer and allowing centrifugal force to spread the perovskite evenly.

Vardeny says what's unique about the type of perovskite they are using is that it is both an inorganic material like rock but also organic like a plastic, making it easy to deposit on silicon while also having the optical properties necessary to make this process possible.

"It's a mismatch," he said. "What we call a 'hybrid.'"

Nahata says it's probably at least another 10 years before terahertz technology for communications and computing is used in commercial products, but this new research is a significant milestone to getting there.

"This basic capability is an important step towards getting a full-fledged communications system," Nahata says. "If you want to go from what you're doing today using a modem and standard wireless communications, and then go to a thousand times faster, you're going to have to change the technology dramatically."

Story Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171106085952.htm

Materials provided by University of Utah. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.   

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

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Millions of network addresses subjected to denial-of-service attacks over two-year period

For the first time, researchers have carried out a large-scale analysis of victims of internet denial-of-service (DoS) attacks worldwide. And what they found is, in a phrase from their study, "an eye-opening statistic."

Spanning two years, from March 2015 to February 2017, the researchers found that about one-third of the IPv4 address space was subject to some kind of DoS attacks, where a perpetrator maliciously disrupts services of a host connected to the internet. IPv4 is the fourth version of an Internet Protocol (IP) address, a numerical label assigned to each device participating in a computer network.

"We're talking about millions of attacks," said Alberto Dainotti, a research scientist at CAIDA (Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis), based at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego and the report's principal investigator. "The results of this study are gigantic compared to what the big companies have been reporting to the public."

Added the study's first author, Mattijs Jonker, a researcher with the University of Twente in The Netherlands and former CAIDA intern: "These results caught us by surprise in the sense that it wasn't something we expected to find. This is something we just didn't see coming."

The study -- presented November 1, 2017 at the Internet Measurement Conference in London and published in the Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery (IMC '17) -- sheds light on most of the DoS attacks on the internet, its victims, and even the adoption of commercial services to combat these attacks.

Two predominant types of DoS attacks, intended to overwhelm a service by a sheer mass of requests, are highlighted:

•"Direct" attacks, which involve traffic sent directly to the target from some infrastructure controlled by the attackers (e.g. their own machines, a set of servers, or even a botnet under their command.) These attacks often involve "random spoofing," characterized by faking the source IP address in the attack traffic.

•"Reflection" attacks, during which third-party servers are involuntarily used to reflect attack traffic toward its victim. Many protocols that allow for reflection also add amplification, causing the amount of reflected traffic sent toward the victim to be many times greater than that sent toward the reflector initially.

To detect attacks, the researchers -- a collaborative effort from UC San Diego, University of Twente, and Saarland University in Germany -- employed two raw data sources that complement each other: the UCSD Network Telescope, which captures evidence of DoS attacks that involve randomly and uniformly spoofed addresses; and the AmpPot DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) honeypots, which witness reflection and amplification of DoS attacks.

Their data revealed more than 20 million DoS attacks that targeted about 2.2 million "slash 24 or /24" internet addresses (part of a routing number that denotes bit-length of the prefix), which is about one-third of the 6.5 million /24 blocks estimated to be alive on the internet. A /24 is a block of 256 IP addresses, usually assigned to a single organization. If a single IP address in a /24 block is targeted by a sheer mass of requests or volumetric attack, it's likely that the network infrastructure of the entire /24 block is affected.

"Put another way, during this recent two-year period under study, the internet was targeted by nearly 30,000 attacks per day," said Dainotti. "These absolute numbers are staggering, a thousand times bigger than other reports have shown."

That said, one of the researchers added she's worried these statistics are likely "an under-estimation of reality."

"Although our study employs state-of-the-art monitoring techniques, we already know we do not see some types of DoS attacks," said Anna Sperotto, an assistant professor in the Design and Analysis of Communication Systems (DACS) department at the University of Twente. "In the future, we will need an even more thorough characterization of the DoS ecosystem to address this point."

As might be expected, more than a quarter of the targeted addresses in the study came in the United States, the nation with the most internet addresses in the world. Japan, with the third most internet addresses, ranks anywhere from 14th to 25th for the number of DoS attacks, indicating a relatively safe nation for DoS attacks, while Russia is a prime example of a country that ranks higher than estimates for internet space usage, suggesting a relatively dangerous country for these attacks.

Several third-party organizations that offer website hosting were also identified as major targets; the three most frequently attacked "larger parties" over the two year-period were: GoDaddy, Google Cloud, and Wix. Others included Squarespace, Gandi, and OVH.

"Most of the times, it's the customer who is being attacked," explained Dainotti. "So if you have a larger number of customers, you're likely to have more attacks. If you're hosting millions of websites, of course, you're going to see more attacks."

Aside from quantifying the number of DoS attacks on the internet, the researchers also wanted to see if the attacks spurred website owners to purchase DoS protection services. Their study noted that people were more inclined to outsource protection to third parties following a strong attack. Depending on the intensity of the attack, the migration to a third-party service might take place even within 24 hours of an attack.

"One of the things we show is if a website is attacked, this creates an urgency for people to start outsourcing to protection services," said Jonker.

Although the study does not address the causes for the well-recognized rise in DoS attacks in recent years, in an interview the researchers noted several strong possibilities including: cyber-extortion, cyber-crime, cyber-warfare, political protest aimed at governments, censorship from authoritative regimes, attacks relating to on-line gaming (e.g. to gain a competitive advantage), school kids who may attack to avoid taking an exam, and disgruntled former employees.

"Even non-technical people can launch significant attacks through DDoS-as-a-Service providers (i.e. Booters)," said Jonker. "People can pay others with a subscription in exchange for just a few dollars."

As for future studies, the researchers said they wanted to assess the impact of the attacks, to see if they managed to take down the targeted network; they're also studying political attacks similar to those witnessed in Egypt and Libya that were subject to a 2012 study led by CAIDA researchers.

Under a grant for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the CAIDA team also plans to continuously monitor the DoS ecosystem to provide data for analysis to agencies and other researchers in a timely fashion.

Also participating in the study were: Alistair King, a CAIDA researcher; and Johannes Krupp and Christian Rossow, both from CISPA, Saarland University.

Support for the study came from the DHS; the Air Force Research Directory; the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research; and OpenINTEL, a joint project of the University of Twente, SURFnet, and SIDN.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of California San Diego. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171101130507.htm

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock-solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meeting? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

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Slow internet speeds and the Internet 'rush hour' -- the peak time when data speeds drop by up to 30% -- could be history with new hardware designed and demonstrated by UCL researchers that provides consistently high-speed broadband connectivity.

The new receiver technology enables dedicated data rates at more than 10,000 megabits-per-second (Mb/s) for a truly super-fast, yet low-cost, broadband connection to every UK home.

"UK broadband speeds are woefully slow compared to many other countries, but this is not a technical limitation. Although 300 Mb/s may be available to some, average UK speeds are currently 36 Mb/s. By 2025, average speeds over 100 times faster will be required to meet increased demands for bandwidth-hungry applications such as ultra-high definition video, online gaming, and the Internet of Things," explained lead researcher Dr Sezer Erkılınç (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering).

"The future growth in the number of mobile devices, coupled with the promise of 5G to enable new services via smart devices, means we are likely to experience bandwidth restrictions; our new optical receiver technology will help combat this problem."

For the study, published today in Nature Communications and funded by the EPSRC UNLOC Programme and Huawei Technologies, scientists from the UCL Optical Networks Group and the University of Cambridge developed a new, simplified receiver to be used in optical access networks: the links connecting internet subscribers to their service providers.

"To maximise the capacity of optical fibre links, data is transmitted using different wavelengths, or colours, of light. Ideally, we'd dedicate a wavelength to each subscriber to avoid the bandwidth sharing between the users. Although this is already possible using highly sensitive hardware known as coherent receivers, they are costly and only financially viable in core networks that link countries and cities. "Their cost and complexity has so far prevented their introduction into the access networks and limits the support of multi Gb/s (1 Gb/s=1000 Mb/s) broadband rates available to subscribers," said co-author and Head of the Optical Networks Group, Professor Polina Bayvel (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering).

The new, simplified receiver retains many of the advantages of coherent receivers, but is simpler, cheaper, and smaller, requiring just a quarter of the detectors used in conventional receivers.

Simplification was achieved by adopting a coding technique to fibre access networks that was originally designed to prevent signal fading in wireless communications.. This approach has the additional cost-saving benefit of using the same optical fibre for both upstream and downstream data.

"This simple receiver offers users a dedicated wavelength, so user speeds stay constant no matter how many users are online at once. It can co-exist with the current network infrastructure, potentially quadrupling the number of users that can be supported and doubling the network's transmission distance/coverage," added Dr Erk?l?nç.

The receiver was tested on a dark fibre network installed between Telehouse (east London), UCL (central London) and Powergate (west London). The team successfully sent data over 37.6 km and 108 km to eight users who were able to download/upload at a speed of at least 10 Gb/s. This is more than 30 times faster than the fastest broadband available in the UK, today.

 

"BT Openreach recently announced that fibre access is a key focus and must improve. With high-capacity broadband a priority for the UK government, we will be working to reduce the electrical power requirements of this technique to make this commercially viable in the nearest future. We believe that it has real potential to provide high-speed broadband connectivity to every home, which will support the growing digitally enabled economy in the years to come," concluded Professor Bayvel.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University College London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171019101002.htm

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock-solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

 

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we can provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you can extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meeting? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

b2ap3_thumbnail_wifi.gif

Energy-saving Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) could help meet demand for wireless communications without affecting the quality of light or environmental benefits they deliver, new research funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has shown.

A University of Edinburgh team has found that transmitting digital data via LEDs at the same time as using them to generate light does not make the light dimmer or change its colour. Nor does it make the LED more energy-hungry. Dr Wasiu Popoola of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, says these concerns have held back the more widespread adoption of Light Fidelity, or LiFi, which uses household LEDs to enable data transfer.

But these findings help eliminate key hurdles to using LEDs to help satisfy the increasing global thirst for wireless communications. Preserving the quality of lighting is, in particular, a vital consideration as it can have a major effect on the physical and mental wellbeing of people in both their homes and their workplaces. LEDs have secured a huge increase in their share of the worldwide lighting market in recent years, as well as being used extensively in TV and other displays.

Although it has long been known that LEDs can be 'piggy-backed' to transmit data to and from mobiles, tablets, sensors and other devices, questions have surrounded the ability to do this without affecting LEDs' core capabilities or the money-saving and 'green' benefits that make them so popular.

Focusing on LEDs producing 'warm white' and 'cool white' light, the Edinburgh team looked at two different data transmission techniques: on-off keying, where the LED works like Morse code, switching on and off extremely rapidly and imperceptibly to human eyes; and continuous signalling, where imperceptible changes in light intensity are used to achieve the same goal.

Neither technique was found to significantly reduce the lightbulbs' brightness or their life expectancy, or to cause any significant change in the colour of the light. Both techniques also produced only a negligible change in the heat generated by the LEDs -- a key consideration as any temperature increase would indicate the LED using more electricity to produce light, making it less energy-efficient and less carbon-friendly.

Dr Popoola adds: "Our ever more connected world will need more bandwidth than the overcrowded Radio Frequency part of the spectrum can provide. Plugging a key knowledge gap, our results are very encouraging for the future of light-based communications that could help realise the full economic and social potential of a wireless future. It's vital that LED manufacturers know what impact the incorporation of data transmission capabilities would have on their products. Our researc shows that there's no dark side to using LED lights to supplement WiFi."

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). "No dark side to using LED lights to supplement WiFi." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171011120650.htm>.

Image credit: Buzzfeed.com

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Supporting some of the largest Wi-Fi providers in the UK, Microtechs prides itself with the ability to adapt between end user and staff support. Constantly monitoring staffing levels, to ensure seasonal fluctuations do not affect our service levels.

Some of our clients include major UK airports, hotel chains, holiday parks and shopping centres.

Manufacturers and distributors of Wi-Fi and other cloud based products, also use our helpdesk to provide support to a wide range of resellers.

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A major new international research program is responding to the overwhelming demand of internet traffic to develop ubiquitous wireless data coverage with unprecedented speed at millimetre waves.

For the first time in the Internet's history, the data used by tablets and smartphones now exceeds that of desktops. Emerging technologies and entertainment such as telemedicine, Internet of Things (IoT), 4K video streaming, cloud gaming, social networks, driverless cars, augmented reality and many other unpredictable applications will need zettabyte (1,000 billions of billions) of wireless data.

Smartphones will continue to work at microwave frequencies for many years because of microwaves' ability to pass through barriers. Though due to limitations to the amount of data that can be transmitted by microwaves, the only way to provide data with very fast download speeds is through covering urban areas with dense grids of micro, nano and pico 'cells', at microwave frequencies to serve a small number of users per cell.

However, manufacturers and operators have not yet solved how to feed a huge amount of data to a new maze of cells. Fibre is too expensive and difficult, if not impossible, to deploy in many urban areas, due city council permits or disruption.

A desirable solution is a wireless layer that can provide data at the level of tens of gigabit per second per kilometre square. It also needs to be flexible and come at a low cost.

Only the millimetre wave frequencies, 30-300 GHz, with their multi GHz bandwidths, could support tens of gigabit per second of wireless data rate. Unfortunately, rain can weaken or block data transmission and other technological limits have so far prevented the full exploitation of this portion of the spectrum.

The €2.9million European Union's Horizon 2020 ULTRAWAVE project, led by engineers at Lancaster University, aims, for the first time, to build technologies able to exploit the whole millimetre wave spectrum beyond 100 GHz.

The ULTRAWAVE concept is to create an ultra-capacity layer, aiming to achieve the 100 gigabit of data per second threshold, which is also flexible and easy to deploy. This layer will be able to feed data to hundreds of small and pico cells, regardless of the density of mobile devices in each cell. This would open scenarios for new network paradigms and architectures towards fully implementing 5G.

The ULTRAWAVE ultra capacity layer requires significant transmission power to cover wide areas overcoming the high attenuation at millimetre waves. This will be achieved by the convergence of three main technologies, vacuum electronics, solid-state electronics and photonics, in a unique wireless system, enabled by transmission power at multi Watt level. These power levels can only be generated through novel millimetre wave traveling wave tubes.

Professor Claudio Paoloni, Head of Engineering Department at Lancaster University and Coordinator of ULTRAWAVE, said: "When speeds of wireless networks equal fibre, billions of new rapid connections will help 5G become a reality. It is exciting to think that the EU Horizon 2020 ULTRAWAVE project could be a major milestone towards solving one of the main obstacles to future 5G networks, which is the ubiquitous wireless distribution of fibre-level high data rates.

"The huge growth in mobile devices and wireless data usage is putting an incredible strain on our existing wireless communication networks. Imagine crowded areas, such as London's Oxford Street, with tens of thousands of smartphone users per kilometre that wish to create, and receive content, with unlimited speed. To meet this demand, ULTRAWAVE will create European state of the art technologies for the new generation of wireless networks."

The ULTRAWAVE project started on the 1st September 2017 and will be presented to the public by the Kickoff Workshop at Lancaster University on the 14th September 2017.

Story Source:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170926135219.htm

Materials provided by Lancaster University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Picture credit: clubtroppo.com.au

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

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With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

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1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

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Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a system that can simultaneously deliver watts of power and transmit data at rates high enough to stream video over the same wireless connection. By integrating power and high-speed data, a true single "wireless" connection can be achieved.

"Recently wireless power as re-emerged as a technology to free us from the power cord," says David Ricketts, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the work. "One of the most popular applications is in wireless cell phone charging pads. As many know, these unfortunately often require almost physical contact with the pad, limiting the usefulness of a truly 'wireless' power source. Recent work by several researchers have extended wireless power to 'mid-range' which can supply power at inches to feet of separation. While encouraging, most of the wireless power systems have only focused on the power problem -- not the data that needs to accompany any of our smart devices today. Addressing those data needs is what sets our work apart here."

Wireless power transfer technologies use magnetic fields to transmit power through the air. To minimize the power lost in generating these magnetic fields, you need to use antennas that operate in a narrow bandwidth -- particularly if the transmitter and receiver are inches or feet apart from each other.

Because using a narrow bandwidth antenna limits data transfer, devices incorporating wireless power transfer have normally also incorporated separate radios for data transmission. And having separate systems for data and power transmission increases the cost, weight and complexity of the relevant device.

The NC State team realized that while high-efficiency power transfer, especially at longer distances, does require very narrow band antennas, the system bandwidth can actually be much wider.

"People thought that efficient wireless power transfer requires the use of narrow bandwidth transmitters and receivers, and that this therefore limited data transfer," Ricketts says. "We've shown that you can configure a wide-bandwidth system with narrow-bandwidth components, giving you the best of both worlds."

With this wider bandwidth, the NC State team then envisioned the wireless power transfer link as a communication link, adapting data-rate enhancement techniques, such as channel equalization, to further improve data rate and data signal quality.

The researchers tested their system with and without data transfer. They found that when transferring almost 3 watts of power -- more than enough to power your tablet during video playback -- the system was only 2.3 percent less efficient when also transmitting 3.39 megabytes of data per second. At 2 watts of power, the difference in efficiency was only 1.3 percent. The tests were conducted with the transmitter and receiver 16 centimeters, or 6.3 inches, apart, demonstrating the ability of their system to operate in longer-distance wireless power links.

"Our system is comparable in power transfer efficiency to similar wireless power transfer devices, and shows that you can design a wireless power link system that retains almost all of its efficiency while streaming a movie on Netflix," Ricketts says.

Story Source:

Materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Original article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170918111817.htm

Picture credit: www.softlac.com

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meeting? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

 

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

 

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

Posted by on in Latest Microtechs news posts

BY JEFF TYSON & STEPHANIE CRAWFORD

As a business grows, it might expand to multiple shops or offices across the country and around the world. To keep things running efficiently, the people working in those locations need a fast, secure and reliable way to share information across computer networks. In addition, traveling employees like salespeople need an equally secure and reliable way to connect to their business's computer network from remote locations.

 

One popular technology to accomplish these goals is a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN is a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. The VPN uses "virtual" connections routed through the Internet from the business's private network to the remote site or employee. By using a VPN, businesses ensure security -- anyone intercepting the encrypted data can't read it.

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VPN was not the first technology to make remote connections. Several years ago, the most common way to connect computers between multiple offices was by using a leased line. Leased lines, such as ISDN (integrated services digital network, 128 Kbps), are private network connections that a telecommunications company could lease to its customers. Leased lines provided a company with a way to expand its private network beyond its immediate geographic area. These connections form a single wide-area network (WAN) for the business. Though leased lines are reliable and secure, the leases are expensive, with costs rising as the distance between offices increases.

Today, the Internet is more accessible than ever before, and Internet service providers (ISPs) continue to develop faster and more reliable services at lower costs than leased lines. To take advantage of this, most businesses have replaced leased lines with new technologies that use Internet connections without sacrificing performance and security. Businesses started by establishing intranets, which are private internal networks designed for use only by company employees. Intranets enabled distant colleagues to work together through technologies such as desktop sharing. By adding a VPN, a business can extend all its intranet's resources to employees working from remote offices or their homes.

This article describes VPN components, technologies, tunneling and security. First, let's explore an analogy that describes how a VPN compares to other networking options.

Analogy: Each LAN is an Island

Imagine that you live on an island in a huge ocean. There are thousands of other islands all around you, some very close and others farther away. The common means of travel between islands is via ferry. Traveling on the ferry means that you have almost no privacy: Other people can see everything you do.

 

Let's say that each island represents a private local area network (LAN) and the ocean is the Internet. Traveling by ferry is like connecting to a Web server or other device through the Internet. You have no control over the wires and routers that make up the Internet, just like you have no control over the other people on the ferry. This leaves you susceptible to security issues if you're trying to connect two private networks using a public resource.

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Continuing with our analogy, your island decides to build a bridge to another island so that people have an easier, more secure and direct way to travel between the two islands. It is expensive to build and maintain the bridge, even if the islands are close together. However, the need for a reliable, secure path is so great that you do it anyway. Your island would like to connect to yet another island that is much farther away, but decides that the costs are simply too much to bear.

This scenario represents having a leased line. The bridges (leased lines) are separate from the ocean (Internet), yet are able to connect the islands (LANs). Companies who choose this option do so because of the need for security and reliability in connecting their remote offices. However, if the offices are very far apart, the cost can be prohibitively high -- just like trying to build a bridge that spans a great distance.

So how does a VPN fit in? Using our analogy, suppose each inhabitant on your island has a small submarine. Let's assume that each submarine has these amazing properties:

·         It's fast.

·         It's easy to take with you wherever you go.

·         It's able to completely hide you from any other boats or submarines.

·         It's dependable.

·         It costs little to add additional submarines to your fleet once you've purchased the first one.

Although they're traveling in the ocean along with other traffic, the people could travel between islands whenever they wanted to with privacy and security. That's essentially how a VPN works. Each remote member of your network can communicate in a secure and reliable manner using the Internet as the medium to connect to the private LAN. A VPN can grow to accommodate more users and different locations much more easily than a leased line. In fact, scalability is a major advantage that VPNs have over leased lines. Moreover, the distance doesn't matter, because VPNs can easily connect multiple geographic locations worldwide.

 

Next, we'll look at what constitutes a good VPN, including its benefits and features.

What Makes a VPN?

 

A VPN's purpose is providing a secure and reliable private connection between computer networks over an existing public network, typically the Internet. Before looking at the technology that makes a VPN possible, let's consider all the benefits and features a business should expect in a VPN.

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A well-designed VPN provides a business with the following benefits:

·         Extended connections across multiple geographic locations without using a leased line

·         Improved security for exchanging data

·         Flexibility for remote offices and employees to use the business intranet over an existing Internet connection as if they're directly connected to the network

·         Savings in time and expense for employees to commute if they work from virtual workplaces

·         Improved productivity for remote employees

A business might not require all these benefits from its VPN, but it should demand the following essential VPN features:

·         Security -- The VPN should protect data while it's traveling on the public network. If intruders attempt to capture the data, they should be unable to read or use it.

·         Reliability -- Employees and remote offices should be able to connect to the VPN with no trouble at any time (unless hours are restricted), and the VPN should provide the same quality of connection for each user even when it is handling its maximum number of simultaneous connections.

·         Scalability -- As a business grows, it should be able to extend its VPN services to handle that growth without replacing the VPN technology altogether.

 

One interesting thing to note about VPNs is that there are no standards about how to set them up. This article covers network, authentication and security protocols that provide the features and benefits listed above. It also describes how a VPN's components work together. If you're establishing your own VPN, though, it's up to you to decide which protocols and components to use and to understand how they work together.

 

The next two pages describe two common types of VPN. We'll start with the type that's most synonymous with the term VPN.

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A remote-access VPN allows individual users to establish secure connections with a remote computer network. Those users can access the secure resources on that network as if they were directly plugged in to the network's servers. An example of a company that needs a remote-access VPN is a large firm with hundreds of salespeople in the field. Another name for this type of VPN is virtual private dial-up network (VPDN), acknowledging that in its earliest form, a remote-access VPN required dialing in to a server using an analog telephone system.

There are two components required in a remote-access VPN. The first is a network access server (NAS, usually pronounced "nazz" conversationally), also called a media gateway or a remote-access server (RAS). (Note: IT professionals also use NAS to mean network-attached storage.) A NAS might be a dedicated server, or it might be one of multiple software applications running on a shared server. It's a NAS that a user connects to from the Internet in order to use a VPN. The NAS requires that user to provide valid credentials to sign in to the VPN. To authenticate the user's credentials, the NAS uses either its own authentication process or a separate authentication server running on the network.

The other required component of remote-access VPNs is client software. In other words, employees who want to use the VPN from their computers require software on those computers that can establish and maintain a connection to the VPN. Most operating systems today have built-in software that can connect to remote-access VPNs, though some VPNs might require users to install a specific application instead. The client software sets up the tunneled connection to a NAS, which the user indicates by its Internet address. The software also manages the encryption required to keep the connection secure. You can read more about tunneling and encryption later in this article.

Large corporations or businesses with knowledgeable IT staff typically purchase, deploy and maintain their own remote-access VPNs. Businesses can also choose to outsource their remote-access VPN services through an enterprise service provider (ESP). The ESP sets up a NAS for the business and keeps that NAS running smoothly.

A remote-access VPN is great for individual employees, but what about entire branch offices with dozens or even hundreds of employees? Next, we'll look at another type of VPN used to keep businesses connected LAN-to-LAN.

 

Site-to-site VPN

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A site-to-site VPN allows offices in multiple fixed locations to establish secure connections with each other over a public network such as the Internet. Site-to-site VPN extends the company's network, making computer resources from one location available to employees at other locations. An example of a company that needs a site-to-site VPN is a growing corporation with dozens of branch offices around the world.

There are two types of site-to-site VPNs:

·         Intranet-based -- If a company has one or more remote locations that they wish to join in a single private network, they can create an intranet VPN to connect each separate LAN to a single WAN.

·         Extranet-based -- When a company has a close relationship with another company (such as a partner, supplier or customer), it can build an extranet VPN that connects those companies' LANs. This extranet VPN allows the companies to work together in a secure, shared network environment while preventing access to their separate intranets.

Even though the purpose of a site-to-site VPN is different from that of a remote-access VPN, it could use some of the same software and equipment. Ideally, though, a site-to-site VPN should eliminate the need for each computer to run VPN client software as if it were on a remote-access VPN. Dedicated VPN client equipment, described later in this article, can accomplish this goal in a site-to-site VPN.

Now that you know the two types of VPNs, let's look at how your data is kept secure as it travels across a VPN.

Keeping VPN Traffic in the Tunnel

Most VPNs rely on tunneling to create a private network that reaches across the Internet. In our article "How does the Internet work?" we describe how each data file is broken into a series of packets to be sent and received by computers connected to the Internet. Tunneling is the process of placing an entire packet within another packet before it's transported over the Internet. That outer packet protects the contents from public view and ensures that the packet moves within a virtual tunnel.

This layering of packets is called encapsulation. Computers or other network devices at both ends of the tunnel, called tunnel interfaces, can encapsulate outgoing packets and reopen incoming packets. Users (at one end of the tunnel) and IT personnel (at one or both ends of the tunnel) configure the tunnel interfaces they're responsible for to use a tunneling protocol. Also called an encapsulation protocol, a tunneling protocol is a standardized way to encapsulate packets [source: Microsoft]. Later in this article, you can read about the different tunneling protocols used by VPNs.

The purpose of the tunneling protocol is to add a layer of security that protects each packet on its journey over the Internet. The packet is traveling with the same transport protocol it would have used without the tunnel; this protocol defines how each computer sends and receives data over its ISP. Each inner packet still maintains the passenger protocol, such as Internet protocol (IP) or AppleTalk, which defines how it travels on the LANs at each end of the tunnel. (See the sidebar for more about how computers use common network protocols to communicate.) The tunneling protocol used for encapsulation adds a layer of security to protect the packet on its journey over the Internet.

To better understand the relationships between protocols, think of tunneling as having a computer delivered to you by a shipping company. The vendor who is sending you the computer packs the computer (passenger protocol) in a box (tunneling protocol). Shippers then place that box on a shipping truck (transport protocol) at the vendor's warehouse (one tunnel interface). The truck (transport protocol) travels over the highways (Internet) to your home (the other tunnel interface) and delivers the computer. You open the box (tunneling protocol) and remove the computer (passenger protocol).

 

Now that we've examined data in the tunnel, let's look at the equipment behind each interface.

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Equipment Used in a VPN

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While a VPN can be configured on generic computer equipment such as standard servers, most businesses opt for dedicated equipment optimized for the VPN and general network security. A small company might have all of its VPN equipment on site or, as mentioned earlier, might outsource its VPN services to an enterprise service provider. A larger company with branch offices might choose to co-locate some of its VPN equipment, meaning that it will set up that equipment in a co-location facility (or colo). A colo is a large data center that rents space to businesses that need to set up servers and other network equipment on a very fast, highly reliable Internet connection.

As mentioned earlier, there is no standard that all VPNs follow in terms of their setup. When planning or extending a VPN, though, you should consider the following equipment:

·         Network access server -- As previously described, a NAS is responsible for setting up and maintaining each tunnel in a remote-access VPN.

·         Firewall -- A firewall provides a strong barrier between your private network and the Internet. IT staff can set firewalls to restrict what type of traffic can pass through from the Internet onto a LAN, and on what TCP and UDP ports. Even without a VPN, a LAN should include a firewall to help protect against malicious Internet traffic.

·         AAA Server -- The acronym stands for the server's three responsibilities: authentication, authorization and accounting. For each VPN connection, the AAA server confirms who you are (authentication), identifies what you're allowed to access over the connection (authorization) and tracks what you do while you're logged in (accounting).

One widely used standard for AAA servers is Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS). Despite its name, RADIUS isn't just for dial-up users. When a RADIUS server is part of a VPN, it handles authentication for all connections coming through through the VPN's NAS.

VPN components can run alongside other software on a shared server, but this is not typical, and it could put the security and reliability of the VPN at risk. A small business that isn't outsourcing its VPN services might deploy firewall and RADIUS software on generic servers. However, as a business's VPN needs increase, so does its need for equipment that's optimized for the VPN. The following are dedicated VPN devices a business can add to its network. You can purchase these devices from companies that produce network equipment, such as Cisco:

 

·         VPN Concentrator -- This device replaces an AAA server installed on a generic server. The hardware and software work together to establish VPN tunnels and handle large numbers of simultaneous connections.

·         VPN-enabled/VPN-optimized Router -- This is a typical router that delegates traffic on a network, but with the added feature of routing traffic using protocols specific to VPNs.

·         VPN-enabled Firewall -- This is a conventional firewall protecting traffic between networks, but with the added feature of managing traffic using protocols specific to VPNs.

·         VPN Client -- This is software running on a dedicated device that acts as the tunnel interface for multiple connections. This setup spares each computer from having to run its own VPN client software.

So far, we've looked at the types of VPNs and the equipment they can use. Next, let's take a closer look at the encryption and protocols that VPN components use.

 

Encryption and Security Protocols in a VPN

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Encryption is the process of encoding data so that only a computer with the right decoder will be able to read and use it. You could use encryption to protect files on your computer or e-mails you send to friends or colleagues. An encryption key tells the computer what computations to perform on data in order to encrypt or decrypt it. The most common forms of encryption are symmetric-key encryption or public-key encryption:

 

In symmetric-key encryption, all computers (or users) share the same key used to both encrypt and decrypt a message.

In public-key encryption, each computer (or user) has a public-private key pair. One computer uses its private key to encrypt a message, and another computer uses the corresponding public key to decrypt that message.

In a VPN, the computers at each end of the tunnel encrypt the data entering the tunnel and decrypt it at the other end. However, a VPN needs more than just a pair of keys to apply encryption. That's where protocols come in. A site-to-site VPN could use either Internet protocol security protocol (IPSec) or generic routing encapsulation (GRE). GRE provides the framework for how to package the passenger protocol for transport over the Internet protocol (IP). This framework includes information on what type of packet you're encapsulating and the connection between sender and receiver.

IPSec is a widely used protocol for securing traffic on IP networks, including the Internet. IPSec can encrypt data between various devices, including router to router, firewall to router, desktop to router, and desktop to server. IPSec consists of two sub-protocols which provide the instructions a VPN needs to secure its packets:

 

·         Encapsulated Security Payload (ESP) encrypts the packet's payload (the data it's transporting) with a symmetric key.

·         Authentication Header (AH) uses a hashing operation on the packet header to help hide certain packet information (like the sender's identity) until it gets to its destination.

Networked devices can use IPSec in one of two encryption modes. In transport mode, devices encrypt the data traveling between them. In tunnel mode, the devices build a virtual tunnel between two networks. As you might guess, VPNs use IPSec in tunnel mode with IPSec ESP and IPSec AH working together [source: Friedl].

 

In a remote- access VPN, tunneling typically relies on Point-to-point Protocol (PPP) which is part of the native protocols used by the Internet. More accurately, though, remote-access VPNs use one of three protocols based on PPP:

 

·         L2F (Layer 2 Forwarding) -- Developed by Cisco; uses any authentication scheme supported by PPP

·         PPTP (Point-to-point Tunneling Protocol) -- Supports 40-bit and 128-bit encryption and any authentication scheme supported by PPP

·         L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) -- Combines features of PPTP and L2F and fully supports IPSec; also applicable in site-to-site VPNs

Throughout this article, we've looked at the types of VPNs and the components and protocols that they use. Over time, people have developed new and better technologies to use in networks, which improves the features of existing VPNs. VPN-specific technologies, though, such as tunneling protocols, haven't changed much in that time, perhaps because current VPNs do such a good job at to keep businesses connected around the world. Tunnel on to the next page for lots more information about virtual private networks.

Article available from How stuff works

Sources

Cisco. "How Virtual Private Networks Work." Oct. 13, 2008. (April 4, 2011)http://www.cisco.com/application/pdf/paws/14106/how_vpn_works.pdf

Friedl, Stephen J. "Steve Friedl's Unixwiz.net Tech Tips: An Illustrated Guide to IPSec." Aug. 24, 2005. (April 4, 2011)http://www.unixwiz.net/techtips/iguide-ipsec.html

Microsoft. "TechNect: VPN Tunneling Protocols." 2011. (April 3, 2011)http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc771298(WS.10).aspx

 

Pandya, Hiten M. "FreeBSD Handbook: Understanding IPSec." The FreeBSD Documentation Project. (April 4, 2011)http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/ipsec.html

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

 

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

 

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

 

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

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Our business truly is 24/7, We operate entirely out of this office using our own staff.

Microtechs Head Office

Microtechs Ltd
Sussex House
11 The Pines
Broad Street
Guildford
GU3 3BH  

T: +44 (0) 1483 407400
Einfo@microtechs.co.uk

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