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Monitoring Central

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Are IP requests for virtual machines overwhelming your current IP address management practices?  You are not alone. In a June 2016 survey of IP Address Manager customers[1], 46% of respondents stated that virtual machines were creating challenges for managing IP addresses for their company.

 

Independent author Brien Posey explores this topic in the whitepaper “Overcoming IP Address Management Challenges in VMware Environments.” A challenge with virtual environments is that their dynamic nature can quickly lead to depleted address pools if IP addresses are not quickly de-provisioned. Utilizing DHCP services is a less than ideal solution, as IPs can be tied up by lease expiration dates. Using manual processes for provisioning IP addresses is another option, but this can be slow, error-prone, and limit the dynamic scaling of virtual environments. DNS records obviously must also be updated in tandem.

 

A solution to overcoming these IP address management challenges is fully automating the process of provisioning IP addresses and updating DNS records. VMware developed vRealize® Automation (vRA) to automate tasks in virtual environments. However, as Brien discusses, vRA was not designed to be a comprehensive IP address management solution, thus the need for third-party solutions to fill this gap. SolarWinds® IP Address Manager (IPAM) helps overcome this limitation by providing a plug-in for VMware® vRealize Orchestrator (vRO). The plug-in provides actions and workflows critical for managing IP addresses and DNS records. These actions and workflows integrate with vRA and enable the creation of blueprints to automate the provisioning and de-provisioning of VMs.

 

To learn more about this topic, please read Brien Posey’s whitepaper, and attend the live webcast coming up February 21, where our very own IPAM Product Manager Connie Dowdle will take you through a demonstration of the plug-in and the latest and greatest that SolarWinds IPAM 4.6 has to offer.

 


IP Address Manager customer survey, June 2016, survey result


 

Reliable, recoverable backups have always been fundamental to a well-run data center. But the technology we use to accomplish that goal keeps reinventing itself. The old systems never quite go completely away, even as newer options come onto the scene. Too often, this results in a complicated mix of tools and media that can be a real headache to manage.

 

At one point, tape was the only storage medium, and the ubiquitous Iron Mountain® trucks hauled loads of tapes from place to place on a regular schedule. While those trucks haven’t gone away, today, they’re supplemented with disk and cloud storage.

 

Do you remember the simple days, when physical servers were the only thing needing protection? Traditional backup products were designed for this world, but increasing adoption of server virtualization led to new market leaders, like Veeam, with a virtual-first approach. Then laptops and an array of mobile devices needed protection.

 

Then came the cloud and SaaS applications. Every vendor sought to update their offerings to cover new use cases, new devices, and new storage options. Complexity multiplied, and prices went up and up.

 

Where does that leave you today?

 

In November, we surveyed the THWACK® community on server backup, and learned a lot. We heard from more than 500 of you that backup is too complicated, too time consuming, and too expensive.

 

Here are the top backup-related pain points our survey respondents listed:

 

We also learned, not surprisingly, that you’re using a diverse mix of products that represent every era of backup history. The largest section of the pie was “other”.

 

We believe there’s a better way. We decided to approach the problem with a few guiding principles:

 

  • Simplicity – One backup product for physical and virtual servers, for one price that includes software and storage. No add-ins or options, no hidden costs.
  • Ease of use – One web-based console to see all backup status at a glance, and drill down as needed.
  • Reliability – Easy to deploy, clean, efficient dashboard. Our customers tell us it “just works.”
  • Powerful technology under the hood – Innovative features working in the background to make backups and restores fast and efficient.

 

The result of this approach is SolarWinds® Backup, a cloud-first backup service designed for IT pros who are tired of spending hours every week managing their backups. While it’s a new offering from SolarWinds, the product has been in use for years among the MSP community, and is already trusted by thousands of organizations. Here’s what a few of them have to say:

 

- Justin Cremer, IT Professional, Libra IT

 

- John Treanor, IT Professional, Satellyte Technology

 

More customer comments and insights can be found on TechValidate®.

 

To learn more about SolarWinds Backup and begin your free trial, check out the Product Blog post. Find out how simple backups can be.

 

Update – February 7, 2018:

Cisco® updated their vulnerability advisory on Monday, February 5, 2018 after identifying “additional attack vectors and features that are affected.” What does this mean? If you patched last week, you may need to patch again. Be sure to read the advisory notice carefully to find out if your environment is at risk.

-------------------------------------

 

(Originally posted Wednesday, January 31, 2018):

 

What is it?

Earlier this week, Cisco revealed that there is a security vulnerability in the Cisco® ASAs, exposing these firewalls to remote attackers. Of course, now we all know about it, as does anyone who may want to exploit this opening. The good news: Cisco has released a critical update to address the issue. The bad news? There is no other workaround, so affected devices must be updated to be secured, and now you’re in a race against anyone who may be trying to take advantage. It’s worth noting that some FirePower devices are affected also, so read the Cisco post in detail to help ensure that you know where your vulnerabilities may lie.

 

What can you do?

Fortunately, if you have SolarWinds® Network Performance Monitor (NPM), our own KMSigma has created a report so you can quickly see if you have vulnerable devices. (For a refresher on implementing user-created reports, see How to export and import reports in the Orion® web console.)

 

Once you’ve identified affected devices, you can use Network Configuration Manager (NCM) to easily schedule, patch, and monitor your ASA devices using the firmware upgrade process. Are you running multi-context ASAs? No problem. The firmware upgrade path supports both single- and multi-context upgrades.

In this industry, it doesn’t take long to realize that discovering vulnerabilities of this nature—and subsequently addressing them—is a standard part of the job description. Having the right tools available can make a notable difference in how long your network is exposed and how much effort is required to remediate issues.

 

Tell us:

Were your devices affected? Have you already updated, and if so, did you use NPM and NCM to do so? Use the comments to tell us how it went. Were you affected but don’t have NPM or NCM? Download free 30-day trials of Network Performance Monitor and Network Configuration Manager today and see how they can help.

 

Learn more about Network Insight for Cisco ASA:

Did you know that SolarWinds added a new Network Insight feature for Cisco ASA in the NPM 12.2 and NCM 7.7 releases? Learn about all the functionality included in Network Insight for Cisco ASA.

Keeping a network up and running is a full-time job, sometimes a full-time job for several team members! But it doesn’t have to feel like a fire drill every day. Managing a network shouldn’t be entirely reactive. There are steps you can take and processes you can put in place to help reduce some of the top causes of network outages and minimize any downtime.

 

1. The Problem: Human Element

The dreaded “fat finger.” You’ve heard the stories. You may have done it yourself, or been the one working frantically late into the night or over a weekend to try to recover from someone else’s mistake. If you’re really unlucky (like some poor employee at Amazon® last spring), the repercussions can be massive. No one needs that kind of stress.


The Protection:
First, make sure only the appropriate people have access to make changes. Have an approval system built in. And, since even the best of us can make mistakes, ensure you have a system that allows you to roll back changes just in case.

 

2. The Problem: Security Breaches

Network security is becoming more and more critical every day. People trying to break the system get better, and privacy needs for users gets higher. There are many critical elements to trying to keep your network secure, and it’s important not to miss any. It doesn’t do any good to deadbolt your door when your window is wide open.

The Protection:

Protect your devices from unauthorized changes. Monitor configurations so you can be alerted to any changes, see exactly what was changed, and know what login ID was used to make the change. Also, you should be regularly auditing your device configurations for vulnerabilities. Whether you have custom policies defined for your organization or need to comply with HIPAA, DISA STIG, SOX, or other industry standards, continuously monitoring your devices to help ensure your network stays compliant is one way to help.

 

3. The Problem: Lack of Routine Maintenance

Over time, networks can become messy and disorganized if there aren’t standards in place, increasing both the risk of errors and the time needed to resolve them.

 

The Protection:

Network standardization simplifies and focuses your infrastructure, allowing you to become more disciplined with routines and expectations. Naming conventions, standard MOTD banners, and interface names are just a few things you can do to help troubleshoot and keep a balance within your team and devices, allowing for better management and less human error.

 

4. The Problem: Hardware Failures

It’s not if hardware will fail, but when. Are you ready to make a speedy recovery? When a device unexpectedly goes down, it can have a big impact, depending on which device it is and what redundancies you have in place.

 

The Protection:

Ensure that you can quickly recover devices or bring a replacement online by having device configurations automatically backed up so you can quickly bring new devices online.

 

5. The Problem: Firmware Issues / Faults in the Devices

When you support hundreds of devices, required firmware updates can be tedious, and executing commands over and over increases the risk of error.

 

The Protection:

With network automation, you can easily manage rapid change across complex networks. Bulk deploy configurations to ensure accuracy and speed up deployment times.

 

Increase your uptime and reduce the challenges of keeping your network running smoothly so you can focus on other projects. With SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager, you can bulk deploy configuration changes or firmware updates, manage approvals, revert to previous configurations, audit for compliance, and run remediation scripts. Take action today to reduce these five causes of network outages.

We just can't have anything nice, now can we?  Oh, well. We knew there would be new vulnerabilities and ransomware attacks in 2018. However, this time hardware is the culprit, and patching is not going to be a cure-all for the situation. Consider yourself warned: expect more slowdowns in 2018.

 

Stop and think about this for a second: as the days progress, we are literally learning how much this new vulnerability impacts us. Anyone who says they have the full solution is not being honest with you or themselves. What I would like to do is help you to see how you can use the tools you likely already have to make you more aware of past, present, and future vulnerabilities and threats. That said, let's move on to the importance of using SolarWinds tools to do just that.

 

SolarWinds® Patch Manager will allow you to update your Windows® machines to their Microsoft® patches. If you are currently using this product, you should already be scheduling and looking for these. I discovered that there can be some issues with third-party Windows antivirus or you might get the BSOD. Read more here, because the awesome chart helps clarify these issues and how to prevent them from happening to you.

 

Further, Patch Manager will allow you to schedule and report on your Windows devices regarding updates. The reporting is key to showcase your compliance and, in this case, start your baseline. Plus, just because you update your devices does not mean you are 100% in the clear. Updating your third-party packages is an added bonus with Patch Manager, a fact that is often overlooked though desperately needed.     

 

SolarWinds® Server & Application Monitoring (SAM) will help you validate your business, yourself, and your vendor support for any degradation that patching may have on your applications. This is something you will want to have in place as soon as possible. It allows you to see any anomalies that may present themselves to your applications after the patching is applied. And because SAM is multi-vendor, you’ll be able to address even broad-scale hardware issues. The avid SAM users among you will likely know even more tricks for using the software, and I encourage you to share your knowledge in the comments to help us all be more aware in terms of application-centric monitoring.

 

SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM) comes helps when there are firmware upgrades\updates that need to be applied to impacted network devices. It also helps you to roll these out. There is a compliance reporting function built into NCM that will assist with audits automatically. Remember, this incident is ongoing, which makes NCM’s ability to import very helpful. In fact, you can plug into firmware vulnerability warnings provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This puts you even further ahead of future vulnerabilities.

 

SolarWinds® Network Performance Monitor (NPM) is all about the baseline. If you have ever been to one of our SWUGs, you have heard me preach endlessly about baselines and their extreme importance. However, I understand that sometimes you need black and white in front of you to truly understand this. The mindset I’m currently following regarding this vulnerability looks something like this:

 

  1. Patched and we have our checkbox
  2. Monitoring our application performances
  3. Ready for updates to needed network devices
  4. Monitoring the common vulnerabilities database
  5. Waiting for any anomaly that may present its ugly face (my favorite)

 

 

We can now show that we have implemented the patching to put a Band Aid® on the issues that could present themselves. However, as I’ve already mentioned, this is not a full fix. A hardware option would be the best solution, but is obviously not available to billions of devices at this time. YOU ARE THE THE FIRST RESPONDER!

 

Using NPM in combination with the other tools that I have outlined allows you to verify the patching and the results. Also, if there are ticks or drops or spikes that do NOT match your current baseline, you can share that solid reporting and documentation with your vendor to work out the possible issue, which makes you part of the solution. Is there anything better than working at the edge of technological advancements to create countermeasures to vulnerabilities? NO. The answer is a solid NO.

 

If you don’t already have it in place, set up threshold alerting and monitoring on critical devices that are housing your applications. That helps ensure that you are alerted to anything out of the ordinary, allowing you to get things back on track. It also shows your team and other departments that you are fully invested in the integrity of application uptime and performance. Also, if you have DevOps, you really need the documentation and baselines to prove that perhaps the performance issue is not the in-house application, but an actual patching issue. That, right there, can save a lot of unneeded cycles through rabbit holes.

 

Please let me know if you have additional ways to protect and help through these beginning stages of 2018 vulnerabilities. The ideas we share could literally help the many of you who act as a one-person army fighting your way to the top!

 

Thank you all for your eyes,

~Dez~

 

In case you’d like more information on any of the products mentioned above, check these out:

 

SolarWinds® Patch Manager

SolarWinds® Server & Application Monitor

SolarWinds® Network Performance Monitor

SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager

 

Other resources:

 

https://www.pcworld.com/article/3245606/security/intel-x86-cpu-kernel-bug-faq-how-it-affects-pc-mac.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/03/business/computer-flaws.html

 

Check out our Security and Compliance LinkedIn® Showcase Page for ideas on how to socialize this content: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/solarwinds-security-and-compliance/

Follow our Federal LinkedIn page to stay current on federal events and announcements: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/4799311/

Looking back through previous content, I came across this post by Jerry Eshbaugh.

 

SQL Server Two Ways - SAM AppInsight for SQL and Database Performance Analyzer

 

I read through it again and realized it still resonates in a big way. I’d like to add this foreword and bring it up to speed given some recent changes. SolarWinds® Database Performance Analyzer (DPA) wait-time statistics and resource metrics were recently added to the Performance Analysis view (lovingly known as PerfStack) in the Orion® Platform. I believe this addition gives IT professionals the end-to-end visibility they want. I know we all tend to exist in silos, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want greater upstream and downstream performance metrics.

 

Now you can easily see if your database performance is impacting application response time, and if storage latency is causing longer I/O related database activities. Also, you can view existing dependencies and what relates to what. These customizable dashboards are way cool!

 

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you have a couple of ways to do so:

  • If you own just DPA (without any Orion products), you can now download a standalone DPA Integration Module (DPAIM) from your customer portal as part of your existing license. That’s right! It’s free. You will be limited to DPA data only, as there are no other modules running to collect application, server, storage, and network data, etc.
  • If you already have another Orion product and are on the latest release, DPAIM may be installed (it comes with Server and Application Monitor for example), or you can install the DPAIM module from your customer portal on your Orion Platform.
  • If you aren’t ready to commit to a download, you can check out oriondemo.solarwinds.com and try out the Performance Analysis view. This might be a good start to play around with, but remember, it is demo data. Things may not line up exactly. Some of the data might be invented. The best way to get the most out of the PerfStack dashboard would be to look at your own data with it, which is infinitely more interesting!

 

Let us know what you think about it!

Jogging is my exercise. I use it to tune out noise, focus on a problem at hand, avoid interruptions, and stay healthy. Recently, I was cruising at a comfortable nine-minute pace when four elite runners passed me, and it felt like I was standing still. It got me thinking about the relationship between health and performance. I came to the conclusion that they are related, but more like distant cousins than siblings.

 

I can provide you data that indicates health status: blood pressure, resting heart rate, BMI, body fat percentage, current illnesses, etc. Given all that, tell me: can I run a four-minute mile? That question can’t be answered solely with the data I provided. That’s because I’m now talking about performance versus health.

 

We can also look at health metrics with databases: CPU utilization, I/O stats, memory pressure, etc. However, those also can’t answer the question of how your databases and queries are performing. I’d argue that both health AND performance monitoring and analysis are important. They can impact each other but answer different questions.

 

“What gets measured gets done.” I love this saying and believe that to be true. The tricky part is making sure we’re measuring the right thing to ensure we’re driving the behavior we want.

 

Health is a very mature topic and pretty much all database monitoring solutions offer visibility into it. Performance is another story. I love this definition of performance from Craig Mullins as it relates to databases: “the optimization of resource use to increase throughput and minimize contention, enabling the largest possible workload to be processed.”

 

Interestingly, I believe this definition would be widely accepted, yet approaches to achieving this with monitoring tools varies widely. While I agree with this definition, I’d add “in the shortest possible time” to the end of it. If you agree that you need to consider a time component in regards to database performance, now we’re talking about wait-time analysis. Here’s a white paper that goes into much more detail on this approach and why it is the correct way to think about database performance.

 

We can only get to the right answer regarding root cause if we’re collecting (measuring) the right data in the first place. Below is a chart with some thoughts on data collection requirements. Adapt as needed, but I hope it provides a workable framework.

 

Remember: don’t stop with asking “What can we do?” Take it to the next level and instead ask, “What should we do?”

Do you know how to protect your organization's sensitive data from today’s cyberthreats? One way is to arm the enterprise with a security information and event management (SIEM) tool. SIEM solutions provide a meaningful contribution to defense-in-depth strategies with their ability to detect, defend against, and conduct post-mortem analysis on cyberattacks and general IT security anomalies. Over the years, they have become a contributing force in meeting, maintaining, and proving a business’ alignment with regulatory compliance frameworks such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, and more. Let's take a look at how SIEM software works and why it's a must have for your business.

 

What is SIEM?

 

Predecessors of SIEM solutions, security information management (SIM), and security event management (SEM) began merging into one security system over a decade ago. When you run a SIEM tool, all your relevant security data can come from multiple locations, but you can look at all that data from one dashboard. Being able to access data across numerous locations and evaluate it in one location makes it easier to spot unusual patterns and trends, and react and respond quickly to any possible threats.

 

The SIEM software collects information from event logs spanning all your devices, including anti-virus, spam filters, servers, firewalls, and more. It then uses key attributes (IPs, users, event types, memory, processes, ports) that can indicate security incidents or issues to alert and respond quickly—and in many cases, automatically.

 

How Does SIEM Help With Security?

 

The event management portion of a SIEM solution stores and interprets logs in a central location and allows analysis in near real-time, which means IT security personnel can take defensive actions much more rapidly. The information management component provides trend analysis, as well as automated and centralized reporting for compliance by collecting data into a central repository. As a whole, a SIEM tool provides quicker identification and better analysis and recovery of security events by combining these two functions. Another advantage is that compliance managers can confirm they are fulfilling their enterprise's legal compliance requirements with a SIEM tool.

 

Advantages of a SIEM Tool

 

There are many advantages to using a SIEM tool, other than only needing one tool to monitor cybersecurity. SIEM systems can be used for different purposes, so the benefits will vary from one organization to another, but every organization that uses a SIEM tool will experience these main benefits:

 

  1. Streamlined compliance reporting. SIEM solutions leverage the log data from various devices across an organization or enterprise.

 

  1. Better detect incidents that otherwise might be missed. SIEM products enable centralized analysis and reporting for an organization's security events. The IT security analysis may detect attacks that were not found through other means, and some SIEM products have the capabilities to attempt to stop attacks they detect—assuming they are still in progress.

 

  1. Improve their efficiency in handling activities. You can save time and resources with a SIEM tool because you can respond to security incidents more quickly and efficiently. IT professionals can quickly identify an attacker’s route, learn who has been affected, and implement automated mechanisms to stop the attack in its tracks.

 

What to Look for in a SIEM Tool

 

What features should you be looking for when shopping for a SIEM tool? Here are just a few of the important questions to consider when evaluating SIEM solutions:

 

  1. Does the SIEM provide enough native support for all relevant log sources?

 

  1. How well can the SIEM tool enhance current logging abilities?

 

  1. Can the SIEM software effectively use threat intelligence to your advantage?

 

  1. What features does the SIEM product offer to help carry out data analysis?

 

  1. Are the SIEM's automated response capabilities timely, secure, and effective?

 

Stay Protected with SolarWinds Log & Event Manager

 

There are numerous SIEM tools to choose from, but SolarWinds® Log & Event Manager (LEM) offers valuable features that can help you improve both your security and compliance, with relative ease and with limited impact on IT budgets.

 

These are just a few of the features LEM provides:

 

  1. Detect suspicious activity. Eliminate threats faster by instantaneously detecting suspicious activity and sending automated responses.

 

  1. Mitigate security threats. Conduct investigations of any security events and apply forensics for mitigation and compliance.

 

  1. Achieve auditable compliance. Demonstrate compliance with audit-proven reporting for HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, and more.

 

  1. Maintain continuous security. Your efforts to protect your business against cyberthreats should extend to the choices of software you employ to do so. LEM is deployed as a hardened virtual appliance with data encryption in transit and at rest, SSO/smart card integration, and more.

 

Purchase SolarWinds Log & Event Manager Software

 

Visit us online today to learn more about Log & Event Manager and get a free 30-day trial of the software. Learn more about the key features we offer in LEM, and watch our informative video explaining how it works. Get answers to frequently asked questions and hear from some of our very satisfied customers. This SIEM tool is clearly an industry favorite. Click here to see how it can help your enterprise or organization stay safe and secure from cyberthreats with the SolarWinds Log & Event Manager software.

In today's landscape of security breaches and cyberattacks, it seems like no company or network is completely immune to cybercrime. In fact, you don’t have to search very hard in the news to read about another cyberattack that has happened to a big corporation. Thankfully, developers are constantly looking out for these threats and building important security patches and updates protect the data. Let's look at some of the major vulnerabilities and attacks that have happened in 2017.

 

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010 (March 14, 2017)

 

Although this wasn't exactly a hack, it serves as a great reminder of how scary security vulnerabilities in Microsoft® Windows® software can be. The bulletin detailed several cyber security threats, but the most severe vulnerability was the potential for an attacker to execute code on the target server. This vulnerability was so huge that Microsoft called the security patches “critical for all supported releases of Microsoft Windows.”

 

Imagine the impact this could have had if the cyber threat was not discovered and a security patch was not created.

 

The biggest impact of this bulletin was that it showed how many zero-day level flaws were present in Microsoft products that made users vulnerable to cyberattacks. Essentially, the combination of the delayed rollout of crucial security patches and enterprises’ often slow adoption of patches made all Microsoft users vulnerable to the WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware attacks.

 

WannaCry Ransomware Attack (May 12, 2017)

 

The WannaCry Ransomware attack was one of the most significant cyberattacks in 2017. Seventy-five thousand organizations from 99 countries reported being attacked. How did it happen?

 

A vulnerability called EternalBlue was responsible for spreading the WannaCry attack. This vulnerability was actually addressed in Microsoft’s security patches released in March. Unfortunately, many users had not yet installed these critical patches.

 

Impact of WannaCry

 

As the name implies, many Microsoft users probably did want to cry after being hit by this cyberattack. It created a moment where global internet security reached a state of emergency. WannaCry affected the U.K., Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Taiwan, and even some Chinese and U.S. entities. In many cases, companies were forced to pay $300+ to regain access to their files/system. However, there was another even more severe impact, as sixteen National Health Service organizations were locked out of their systems. Many doctors were unable to pull up patient files and emergency rooms were forced to divert people seeking urgent care.

 

Petrwrap/Petwrap/NotPetya Ransomware Attack (June 27, 2017)

 

This attack was even worse than the WannaCry attack. NotPetya did not act like other ransomware malware. Instead, it rebooted victims’ computers and encrypted their hard drive’s master file table, which rendered the master boot record inoperable. Those who were infected lost full access to their system. Additionally, the cyberattack seized information about the file names, size, and location on the physical disk. NotPetya spread because it used the EternalBlue vulnerability, just like WannaCry.

 

Impact of NotPetya

NotPetya reportedly infected 300,000 systems and servers throughout the world, including some in Russia, Denmark, France, the U.K., the U.S., and Ukraine. Ukraine was hit the hardest. Within just a few hours of the infection starting, the country’s government, top energy companies, private and state banks, the main airport, and metro system all reported hits on their systems.

 

How to Protect Your Business From Cyberattacks

 

The evidence is clear. Hackers are always on the prowl and cyberattacks will happen. The key is to be ready for them so you can prevent an attack from being successful. You must take every step possible to protect your company and your private information. There are several important things you can do, including making sure you always install security patches and updates. For example, if infected organizations had installed the update patches in March, they would have been protected from the WannaCry attack. Therefore, this simple step could be the difference in whether or not a cybercriminal is able to successfully hack into your data.

 

Think Prevention, Not Cure

 

While installing every patch developers make might seem like a hassle, the fact is these patches play a significant role in your cybersecurity efforts. There is great wisdom in the saying of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” when you’re dealing with cybersecurity. It’s so much easier to take the necessary steps to prevent a cyberhack than it is to overcome all the problems after a breach occurs. Regularly installing security patches is a must, especially since you might not be aware of the possible threats that could be coming.

 

Let SolarWinds Patch Manager Do the Work for You

 

Although constantly installing these updates and patches can be a pain, and it can feel like you get a new patch almost every other day, patches are a necessary evil. Thanks to the SolarWinds® Patch Manager software, you can now leave this tedious chore to someone else. This intuitive patch management software allows you to quickly address software vulnerabilities in your system. SolarWinds Patch Manager offers several key features, including:

 

  1. Simplified patch management. Automate the patching and reporting process and save time by simplifying patch management on servers and workstations.
  2. Extend the capabilities of WSUS patch management. Decrease service interruptions and lower your security risks by helping ensure patches are applied and controlling what gets patched and when.
  3. Extend the use of Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. Protect your servers, desktops, laptops, and Virtual Machines (VMs) with the most current patches for third-party apps.
  4. Demonstrate Patch Compliance. Stay up to date on all vulnerabilities and create summary reports to show patching status.

 

Additionally, SolarWinds Patch Manager offers a Patch Status Dashboard. The dashboard tracks who got patched and what still needs to be patched. You will be able to see the most recent available patches, the top patches you are still missing, and the overall general health of your cyber environment. Patch Manager also allows you to build your own packages for many other types of files, including .EXE, .MSI, or .MSL.

 

Download SolarWinds Patch Manager now to identify the vulnerabilities in your system and help protect your business.

Were you affected by an internet connectivity outage earlier this week? This outage affected users across the U.S., and originated from Level 3, an ISP recently acquired by CenturyLink®. Because Level 3 also provides infrastructure to other internet providers, some Comcast®, Spectrum®, Verizon®, and AT&T® users experienced outages as well.

          Tweet from Level 3 - https://twitter.com/Level3NOC/status/927633534424141824
                (Source: Twitter)

 

A configuration error? That’s what I thought when I first read this. There are many crazy ways connectivity issues can occur, from rats chewing through cables to your standard PEBKAC error causing a user to holler, “the internet is down!” But configuration errors? This is an easy one to address.

 

Perhaps even more concerning than a massive telecommunications company losing connectivity due to a config error is the amount of time to recover. After the issue was corrected, Level 3 issued a statement to several publications (including TechCrunch, Slate, Mashable, and The Verge), saying:

 

"On Monday, November 6th, our network experienced a service disruption affecting some customers with IP-based services. The disruption was caused by a configuration error. We know how important these services are to our customers. Our technicians were able to restore service within approximately 90 minutes."

 

90 minutes to recover from an issue that is affecting potentially millions* of people in the middle of the workday is about 89 minutes too long. (*Total number of customers affected hasn’t been released, but it included customers of Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon, and AT&T across the U.S., among others.)

 

         

               (Source: DownDetector.com via CNN)

 

Are YOU ready to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen to you? With SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM), you can rest easy knowing that you are prepared. Even if a config error does occur, you can quickly rollback to a known-good config that you have saved, thanks to NCM’s automatic backups. If you need to make updates across devices, you can easily push bulk changes. And no need to worry about someone else messing with your configs—you can control who can make changes, and what kind, directly from the NCM console.

 

While we can’t help you with rats chewing your cables, we CAN help with your config management. Download a free trial of Network Configuration Manager today.

 

What are some of the craziest causes of connectivity issues that you’ve encountered?

Imagine this scenario: You are running a Kiwi® server either on-premises or in the cloud, and need to push at least a portion of that log data to Papertrail. This would be especially helpful in situations where Kiwi is already in place, and you need to allow a developer, support contact, etc. external access to limited log data without providing access to the Kiwi server itself. Once these logs are pushed to your Papertrail account, you can grant users access to specific Papertrail log data. These Papertrail logs can be viewed from anywhere, while Kiwi servers are often locked down within a secured network. The best part is that you can maintain a complete local copy of your logs while pushing interesting log data to Papertrail for use with advanced search and alerting features.

 

From your Kiwi Syslog® Service Manager select File -> Setup.

 

In the setup page, you have a rule named Default that displays all log entries sent to Kiwi and logs them to a file.

 

Send everything to Papertrail! If you wish to forward ALL logs seen by Kiwi to Papertrail, add the Send to Papertrail action to your Default rule, or any rule with no filters configured.

 

However, if you want to send only certain messages to Papertrail, you’ll need to add a new rule with a filter to capture just the specific messages you want.

 

We'll be adding 1 New Rule with 2 Filters and 2 Actions.

 

 

FILTERS

 

Filters allow several methods of matching log data. Positive matches result in the actions for that rule being performed on those log lines. Hostname, IP, Message Text, and Priority are the most commonly used filters.

 

Add the new rule by right-clicking Rules and selecting Add rule.

 

 

Under the new rule, right click Filters and Add Filter.

 

 

In the Field section, choose Priority.

 

 

Click on the Priority headings to highlight all the columns.

 

 

Click the green check mark at the bottom, to select the highlighted fields.

 

 

Next, create a new filter to match the text in log lines using the Message Text field, and Simple filter type. Here I used "test" because it will match on all of the Kiwi default test log lines. You can use any text strings in this filter to match log entries you wish to send to Papertrail.

 

ACTIONS!

 

Now configure the actions to take place on log lines matching our filters. Start by adding them to a Kiwi display so we can see what's matching the rule right here in Kiwi.

 

Under the new rule, right-click Actions and Add action.

 

 

Select the Display action at the top of the menu. Set a Display number that corresponds to the display dropdown in the main Kiwi window. You should use a unique display that isn't used by other Kiwi rules. Display 00 shows ALL logs seen by Kiwi by default, so I’ve used Display 01 instead. This will only show everything sent to Papertrail.

 

 

Now add an action to send the matching logs to Papertrail.

 

Under the new rule, right-click Actions and Add action to add another action.

 

 

Select the Log to Papertrail.com (cloud) action to send logs to a Papertrail account. Replace the hostname and port with your own log destination found here: https://papertrailapp.com/account/destinations

 

 

After hitting Apply to save the configuration, use the File –> Send test message to localhost menu item to generate a log line that will be pushed to your Papertrail account and shown on the Kiwi display you set. In your Papertrail account, you’ll see your Kiwi server show up by IP or hostname, but you can rename it as I’ve done here. (Remember: The test log line shown has to match your filters.)

 

 

 

 

Troubleshooting

 

Not seeing log lines in Papertrail? Does the Kiwi server have outbound network connectivity that allows a connection to Papertrail? In ~90% of cases, this is caused by host-based firewalls or other network devices blocking connectivity to Papertrail.

 

The PowerShell® below will test basic UDP connectivity to Papertrail from a Windows® host. Replace the Papertrail Hostname/Port with your actual log destination settings found here. Copy and paste all lines at once into PowerShell. (Run PowerShell as Administrator if you have trouble.)

 

WINDOWS - PowerShell

 

$udp = New-Object Net.Sockets.UdpClient logs6.papertrailapp.com, 12345

$payload = [Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes("PowerShell to Papertrail - UDP Syslog Test")

$udp.Send($payload, $payload.Length)

 

You can use this similar script to replicate a log transfer to Kiwi. Run this from the same host the Kiwi server is on.

 

$udp = New-Object Net.Sockets.UdpClient 127.0.0.1, 514

$payload = [Text.Encoding]::UTF8.GetBytes("udp papertrail test")

$udp.Send($payload, $payload.Length)

Security breaches have become a consistent threat, so it is critical to remain aware of the many tools, resources, and protocols available to keep you safe online. To honor and celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), we are offering several opportunities for you to get involved and learn something new.

 

Think you know your cybercrime history?

We have put together a timeline of some of the most notable cybersecurity breaches throughout history. To complement the timeline, we’ve compiled a cybersecurity history quiz to test your knowledge as you travel through the decades. Take the quiz for a chance to win awesome prizes!

 

We need your help!

If you review the Timeline of Cybercrime, you’ll see that it is far from a comprehensive list of all cybersecurity attacks over time. Submit your suggestion of a cyberattack to add to the timeline in the comments below and receive 250 THWACK® points for all valid suggestions!

 

To receive your 250 THWACK points, your submission should include:

  1. The name of a noteworthy breach, vulnerability, or security attack of your choosing (must not already be featured on the timeline of cybercrime)
  2. A sentence or two about the cyberattack of your choosing
  3. A source for your research

 

Submit your suggestion in the comments section below. Limit one entry per THWACKster.

 

THWACKcamp | October 18-19

THWACKcamp is right around the corner! I encourage you to check out one session in particular that’s sure to keep the conversation about cybersecurity top of mind: “Protecting the Business: Creating a Security Maturity Model with SIEM”

RSVP today!

 

Live webcast – Cybercrime: Defending Against the Next Attack | November 2

Following THWACKcamp and to conclude NCSAM, join @dez and @jhynds for a live webcast where they’ll discuss some of the highlights from the Timeline of Cybercrime, as well as tips and tricks to help businesses combat today’s most common cybersecurity threats.

Register now!

 

Enjoy, and stay safe out there!

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow secure connections through the open internet. With VPN authentication, encryption, availability, and speed, end-users can work from anywhere as if they were sitting within a millisecond’s ping from the server room. Remote branch offices are connected, cloud resources are securely available, and all is well. That is, if the VPN tunnel works as it should.

 

Colleagues not talking to each other? Could be a grudge, could be trouble joining the call because “that VPN tunneling thingy keeps timing out.” No traffic from the remote office? Could be just lunch break, could be that the site-to-site VPN tunnel is down. What if it really is the network this time?

 

Setting up a trusted tunnel between two endpoints is a multi-step process—this also means that troubleshooting requires knowledge of its complexity. See these handy VPN tunnel troubleshooting flowcharts for LAN-to-LAN and Remote Access VPNs for examples of a systematic approach to figuring out why the remote connection is flunking out.

 

In short, you need to:

  • Send packets that are recognized as initiating a VPN connection attempt.
  • “Phase 1” establishes a secure communication channel by generating a shared secret key to encrypt further communications. Troubleshooting this phase often deals with IP addressing, encryption config, or pre-shared keys.
  • Following the working secure channel, in “Phase 2,” you establish IPSec security associations and negotiate information needed for the IPSec tunnel—connection type, authentication method, and access lists—resulting in a crypto map.
  • On we go to the data transfer:  encrypted, authenticated, and secure.

 

When the VPN connection fails and it’s troubleshooting time, you want visibility into your VPN environment. We’ve come up with Network Insight for Cisco® ASA to help you with just that. One of the most popular security devices on the market meets the worldwide leader in network management software. Sounds promising, right?

In SolarWinds® Network Performance Monitor 12.2, your monitored ASA devices now show additional information beyond SMNP statistics.

 

Site-to-Site VPN shows you whether the tunnel is up, down, or inactive. See traffic ingress and egress, duration of the VPN tunnel uptime, encryption, and hashing info. If the tunnel is down, information about the last phase completed successfully is available. Search, filter, and favorite tunnels to quickly access them in the Node Details view. You can also select specific errors from Phase 1 or Phase 2 to be ignored.

 

Site-to-site VPN

 

 

The Remote Access VPN subview presents a list of remote access tunnels, with the username and tunnel duration details, as well as the amount of data downloaded and uploaded. For failed connections, you’ll see the time and reason why the connection was ended, IP address, and client used. As always, you can use tools to search and filter the sessions.

 

Remote access VPN tunnels

 

 

Several predefined reports and alerts are available to keep your finger on the VPN’s pulse. Tunnel down? You’ll know first. Reaching a threshold? Won’t catch you by surprise. And of course, you can customize your own advanced reports and alerts.

 

You can learn more about Network Insight for Cisco ASA or try it for yourself in the fully featured 30-day trial.

Like traditional kung fu, in Security Kung Fu, there are two schools of thought. On one side, there are those guided by the industry’s best practices for IT security. On the other side, there are those who use regulatory frameworks like PCI DSS, HIPAA, SOX, and more as the guiding principles for their IT security strategy.

 

In the fourth and final chapter of the Security Kung Fu Series, we discussed these opposing strategies and provided insight into why our Security Kung Fu Masters view them as complementary, but not commensurate with one another.

 

If this subject is of interest, I strongly suggest you watch the on-demand recording of this session for a much deeper dive. Continue onward for a brief recap along with some highlights from the discussion.

 

Watch the On-Demand Recording | Check out the SlideShare®

 

Meet Your Security Kung Fu Masters

For the fourth and final chapter of the Security Kung Fu series, we decided to mix things up a bit. In addition to welcoming Jamie Hynds, Senior Product Manager for SolarWinds Security Portfolio—a featured speaker in some of our previous sessions—we were joined by Destiny Bertucci, Head Geek at SolarWinds.

 

With over 15 years of network management experience spanning healthcare and application engineering (nine of which she served as SolarWinds Senior Application Engineer), @Dez boasts an ever-growing ensemble of degrees and certifications with a slant towards IT security. If it’s not apparent now, you’ll see from this session that she really knows her stuff.

 

Beyond this,  Destiny is a frequent presence on THWACK®, most recently launching a blog/social commentary series on Geek Speak titled “Shields Down.” I strongly encourage you to follow along in her series and get involved in the discussion. Whether you’re an experienced IT security professional or on the lighter side of these skillsets, there is something for everyone. But don’t sit on the sidelines—share your stories and insights for the collective good of us all.

 

Regulatory Compliance

 

Compliance, as it relates to IT, involves adhering to rules and regulations that are meant to protect various types of sensitive data. It can govern everything from IT decision-making and purchasing, to configurations, and the policies and procedures a company must create and enforce to uphold this important task.

 

Rightfully so, many businesses are taking the obligation of compliance very seriously. After all, there is a lot at stake when fines and penalties can be levied against you (among other legal repercussions) for noncompliance.

 

Security vs. Compliance

Though, yes, compliance for many businesses is absolutely critical, it is not the end all be all. We contended throughout this session that taking a compliance-dominated approach to the way you secure your IT operations is not the way to go. In fact, with many of the examples we provided in this session, it can sometimes be a detriment to IT security.

 

On that note, we provided three really solid points to shape your mindset.

 

Compliance is more than a checkbox. Many view compliance as a “must have” to avoid the wrath of auditors. But, like I mentioned before, they let it dominate their IT strategy. Our tip is to not lose sight of the bigger picture. IT compliance should be seen as an opportunity to ensure the right controls are in place to actually keep your network and sensitive data secure.

As an example, it’s choosing between applying encryption for data in transit because it’s an IT best practice, instead of opting out of doing so because the regulations your business faces do not mandate it. If the end game is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive data, you are doing yourself and your business a disservice and leaving yourself susceptible to attack without it.

 

“Compliant” does NOT equate to “secure.” Meeting regulatory compliance alone does not guarantee IT security. In some cases, it can lead you away from this objective. There are countless real-world examples of this, but it should be well-understood that in several cases, following compliance schemes strictly “by the book” can undercut your security responsibility. Why not go beyond what they dictate? For this, think of my earlier example involving encryption.

 

No one solution can make you compliant. The same too can be said for security in general, but simply applying one or more security solutions to your IT arsenal will not inherently make you compliant with any framework. Compliance involves many aspects outside of your software-purchasing decisions down to the very core of how your business operates.

 

In this session, we urged that for the sake of both these objectives, Defense in Depth strategies are applied. If you haven’t caught on yet, this was continually preached throughout the Security Kung Fu webinar series. 

 

According to the SANS Institute, Defense in Depth is “the concept of protecting a computer network with a series of defensive mechanisms such that if one mechanism fails, another will already be in place to thwart an attack.”

 

This approach has for a long time been a mainstay in the security realm, but it too should play into your approach to compliance.

 

Five Tips for Continuous Compliance (and Security)

 

As we called an end to the Security Kung Fu series, we left our viewers with some concluding thoughts on this subject. In no way does this cover all your needs, but they are all worth considering.

 

  1. Define policies and establish your network security baseline.
  2. Collect, correlate, and securely store all relevant and required log data.
  3. Actively monitor and analyze what’s going on within the IT infrastructure at all times.
  4. Run regularly scheduled compliance reports.
  5. Leverage regulatory requirements and audits as an opportunity to truly assess network risks and help ensure the security of your entire IT infrastructure—from perimeter to endpoint!

 

A final takeaway, however: no matter your objectives, there are a multitude of software offerings from SolarWinds that can assist your business and support an in-depth defense strategy. Visit the IT Security Software page to learn more.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed not only the webinars that made up this series, but each recap I’ve provided as well. As always, I welcome your feedback or thoughts on any of this subject matter.

DO YOUR FIREWALLS HAVE ACCESS CONTROL LISTS OR OUT-OF-CONTROL LISTS?

 

Do you badge in and out of your office each day? That electronic lock should be doing two things: making sure you can get in (and get to work), and keeping people who shouldn’t be there out.  If the permissions aren’t right, you could be blocked from entering. Or, worse, people who aren’t authorized could walk right in. This is what happens if the Access Control Lists (ACLs) on your firewall aren’t properly configured. Valid traffic could be blocked, or unauthorized traffic could slip through. This can impact productivity and even be a security risk.

 

ACLs can be hundreds or even thousands of lines long. They may have been set up years ago and been modified too many times to count. Are you confident that they are controlling the traffic the way you want? Do you need deeper network insights to see what is really going on?

 

Reviewing your Access Control Lists can be a tedious task, but the latest release of SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM) makes it easy. This release introduces a new feature, Network Insight™ for Cisco® ASA, so you can easily review and audit ACLs for your Cisco ASA firewall.

 

  1. Review what ACLs are configured
    You can’t control it if you don’t know you have it. First, take a look to see what Access Control Lists are set up. The network insights you get with NCM will allow you to view all ACLs configured on the ASA. See if you have an ACL that was configured but never applied. Do you have ACLs that were set up so long ago that none of the original creators are still around?

  2. Audit where and how they are assigned
    An ACL may be configured correctly but assigned to the wrong zone, reducing its effectiveness. Are your ACLs assigned to the correct zones? What interfaces are assigned to those zones? Review where your Cisco ASA ACLs are assigned to maximize their strength.

  3. See what rules are being used
    Do you have rules in place that are never used, or rules that are getting hit all the time? Use NCM’s ACL Rule Browser to browse to object group definitions, search and filter within your ACLs, and view the hit count for individual rules to debug your access rules. Rules that are never hit may have been superseded by other policy changes. Rules that are getting hit all the time may indicate a need to refine the rule. With increased network insight you can optimize the ACL rules on your Cisco ASA.

  4. Detect shadow or redundant rules
    Access Control List rules are applied in the order they are listed. When a rule is overridden by a previous rule that does a different action, it is a shadow rule. A rule that is hidden because a previous rule does the same action is a redundant rule. For example, your office wants to let in anyone who is an employee, but not on the weekends. If the badge reader checks “let in all employees” first and then checks the day of the week, the weekend rule is a shadow rule. It will not matter because the door unlocked after confirming it was an employee who was trying to enter. You can reduce security risks and help ensure your ACLs are working as intended by identifying shadow or redundant rules.

  5. Compare ACLs for changes
    It can be difficult to troubleshoot ACL config issues. Network Configuration Manager helps make this process easier with side-by-side ACL config comparisons on your Cisco ASAs. You can compare an ACL to a previous version on the same node, or compare to other nodes, interfaces, or to a different ACL. Identify errors and verify consistency with Network Insights for Cisco ASA.

 

By working through this simple checklist, you can restore confidence that your firewalls are effectively managing the traffic flow in and out of your network. You can try Network Insight for Cisco ASA in the latest release of Network Configuration Manager. With a free, 30-day trial of NCM, you can see for yourself how easily you can bring your ACLs back under control. Look like a firewall expert without having to be a firewall expert!

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