Month: August 2015

IT Security: The State of Affairs

Almost daily we see another news article regarding a cyber security threat or data breach. Virtually everything is online. Unless businesses change their approach we will continue on the hamster wheel. 

The 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon discovered that 70% of breaches could have been prevented. In addition, four of the nine patterns were caused by humans. 

IT security is a major issue that must be addressed from the top down. Businesses must develop and implement policies and procedures as well as educate employees on the importance. Phishing has become a popular method for attacking businesses. An email is sent to users with a hyperlink and/or attachment that infects the network. This type of incident could have been prevented simply by educating users. Businesses must create a culture of IT security to change the habits of users. Even though this is a daunting task it is achievable. 

The Australian Securities and Investment Commissioner Cathie Armour identified a three phase process for cyber security:

  1. Cyber risk identification – developing a risk register of cyber and privacy risks
  2. Cyber risk assessment – undertaking cyber resilience and privacy resilience reviews
  3. Cyber risk quantification developing and implementing a cyber incidence response plan

It is best to be proactive rather than reactive. Contact us today,, to learn how our IT Security experts can help you revolutionize cyber security in your organization so you do not become a data breach statistic. 


Tech Terms: HDV

Stands for “High-Definition Video.” According to a consortium of manufacturers including Sony, JVC, Canon, and Sharp, it is a “consumer high-definition video format.” HDV is the next step up from Mini DV, which has been used in consumer digital camcorders for several years. The HDV technology allows high-definition video to be recorded on a Mini DV tape, using MPEG-2 compression.

Of course, recording in high-definition requires an HD camcorder, such as the Sony HDR-FX1 or the JVC GR-HD1. These cameras are significantly more expensive than their Mini DV counterparts, but can capture much higher quality video. HDV uses a native 16:9 widescreen format, with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. This is a substantial improvement over Mini DV, which records video in a 4:3 format, with a maximum resolution of 500 horizontal lines. Most HDV camcorders allow the user to record in standard DV as well, but if you shell out a couple thousand dollars extra for a HDV camcorder, you might as well shoot everything in HD.


Tech Terms: Mini DV

Most digital camcorders record video and audio on a Mini DV tape. The cassettes measure 2.6 x 1.9 x 0.5 inches (L x W x H), while the tape itself is only 0.25 inches thick. A Mini DV tape that is 65 meters long can hold an incredible 11GB of data, or 80 minutes of digital video.

The small size of Mini DV tapes has helped camcorder manufacturers reduce the size of their video cameras significantly. Some consumer cameras that use Mini DV tapes are smaller than the size of your hand. Because Mini DV tapes store data digitally, the footage can be exported directly to a computer using a Firewire (IEEE 1394) cable. So if you want to record video and edit it on your computer, avoid the SVHS and Hi-8 options and make sure to get a camera that uses Mini DV.


5 Questions to ask your Backup Provider

There are a plethora of storage devices: hard drive, solid state hard drives, flash drives, USB drives, etc. SanDisk sells 512 gigabyte flash drives and recently, Samsung announced the largest solid state hard drive with 16 terabytes. Storage capacity is great, but what about backing it all up? Backups are a vital component of business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) planning. Here are five questions you should consider asking your backup provider.

  1. How does your company charge for backups? By space, server or units? This is important for budgeting your on site and offsite backups.
  2. Does the backup provider backup different operating systems? Do they support LINUX, can they back up UNIX?
  3. Does the backup provider archive or write over data and append it?  Versioning can protect you from expensive rewrites. Having a backup vendor that supports archiving can limit exposure and insure best practice standards.
  4. Does the backup provider use snapshot technology to get a point in time back up?  Snapshots can save your organizations tons of expensive restores and allow for business continuity to flourish as it will allow you back up provider to spin up that server in an emergency.
  5. What type of support do I get from my backup provider? Most services only offer email contact for support. What happens when it is your email server that dies. You need a provider that has a full service helpdesk that provides 24/7  support.


Consider Zerofail backups. As easy as one, two, three. One, select your operating system. Two, download the Zerofail Backup Client. Three, select files to backup and schedule. Download your free 30 day trial today.



Tech Terms: DV

Stands for “Digital Video.” Unlike traditional analog video, which is captured frame by frame on a tape, digital video is recorded digitally, as ones and zeros. Since it is stored in a digital format, digital video can be recognized and edited by a computer, which is also a digital device.

DV camcorders, including Mini DV and HDV, record digital video and therefore can export the footage to a computer using a Firewire (IEEE 1394) cable. Analog camcorders such as SVHS and Hi-8 devices must be run through a analog to digital converter (DAC) in order to be transferred to a computer.


Tech Terms: Digital

Digital information is stored using a series of ones and zeros. Computers are digital machines because they can only read information as on or off — 1 or 0. This method of computation, also known as the binary system, may seem rather simplistic, but can be used to represent incredible amounts of data. CDs and DVDs can be used to store and play back high-quality sound and video even though they consist entirely of ones and zeros.

Unlike computers, humans perceive information in analog. We capture auditory and visual signals as a continuous stream. Digital devices, on the other hand, estimate this information using ones and zeros. The rate of this estimation, called the “sampling rate,” combined with how much information is included in each sample (the bit depth), determines how accurate the digital estimation is.

For example, a typical CD audio track is sampled at 44.1 KHz (44,100 samples per second) with a bit depth of 16 bits. This provides a high-quality estimation of an analog audio signal that sounds realistic the human ear. However, a higher-quality audio format, such as a DVD-Audio disc, may be sampled at 96 KHz and have a bit depth of 24 bits. The same song played on both discs will sound more smooth and dynamic on the DVD-Audio disc.

Since digital information only estimates analog data, an analog signal is actually more accurate than a digital signal. However, computers only work with digital information, so storing data digitally makes more sense. Unlike analog data, digital information can also be copied, edited, and moved without losing any quality. Because of the benefits digital information offers, it has become the most common way of storing and reading data.


Tech Terms: Analog

As humans, we perceive the world in analog. Everything we see and hear is a continuous transmission of information to our senses. This continuous stream is what defines analog data. Digital information, on the other hand, estimates analog data using only ones and zeros.

For example, a turntable (or record player) is an analog device, while a CD player is digital. This is because a turntable reads bumps and grooves from a record as a continuous signal, while a CD player only reads a series of ones and zeros. Likewise, a VCR is an analog device, while a DVD player is digital. A VCR reads audio and video from a tape as a continuous stream of information, while a DVD player just reads ones and zeros from a disc.Since digital devices read only ones and zeros, they can only approximate an audio or video signal. This means analog data is actually more accurate than digital data. However, digital data can can be manipulated easier and preserved better than analog data. More importantly, computers can only handle digital data, which is why most information today is stored digitally. But if you want to transfer video from old analog video tapes into your computer so you can edit them, you’re not out of luck. You can use a digital to analog converter (DAC) to convert the analog information into a digital signal that can be recognized by your computer.


Tech Terms: Optical Drive

In the real world, “optical” refers to vision, or the ability to see. In the computer world, however, “optical” refers to lasers, which can “see” and read data on optical discs. These discs include CDs and DVDs, which are made up of millions of small bumps and dips. Optical drives have lasers that read these bumps and dips as ones and zeros, which the computer can understand.
Some common types of optical drives include CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-RW, and Blu-ray drives. CD and DVD writers, such as CD-R and DVD-R drives use a laser to both read and write data on the discs. The laser used for writing the data is much more powerful than the laser that reads the data, as it “burns” the bumps and dips into the disc. While optical drives can spin discs at very high speeds, they are still significantly slower than hard drives, which store data magnetically. However, because optical media is inexpensive and removable, it is the most common format used for distributing computer software.


Tech Terms: Dialog Box

As the name implies, a dialog box serves to initiate a dialog with the user. It is a window that pops up on the screen with options that the user can select. After the selections have been made, the user can typically click “OK” to enter the changes or “Cancel” to discard the selections. It is customary for menu options that include an ellipsis at the end, such as “Preferences…” or “Save As…”, to open a dialog box when selected.
For example, if a user selects “Internet Options…” from the Options menu in Internet Explorer, a dialog box will pop up allowing the user to choose the default home page, change the security settings, empty the browser cache, and modify several other settings. Once the selections have been made, the user can click “OK” to use the new settings, or “Cancel” to discard the changes. Some Windows programs also have an “Apply” option that activates the selections without closing the dialog box.

When a user selects “Open…” from the File menu, an “Open dialog box” appears, allowing the user to browse the hard drive and other disks for files to open. When “Save As…” is chosen from the File menu, a “Close dialog box” pops up, allowing the user to type the name of the file and choose where to save it. While dialog boxes may not seem too exciting, they provide an intuitive way to communicate with the computer and are an essential part of today’s computer interfaces.