Tag Archives: technology

The sysadmin: the controller, the gatekeeper, the security-police, and more. Don’t mess.

The system administrator – also sometimes affectionately known as the computer guy/girl – is a fairly well known figure at any company with more than a handful of employees. Stereotypes abound for sysadmins, and even sitcoms are made about the genre. But a lot of those are out-of-date and silly generalizations (my sysadmin @ HQ is neat and well-groomed – verging on the Hipster, with long blond fringe and side parting!)

So, really, just who is the sysadmin?

Right. All of us – computer users – are divided into three categories in terms of the answer to this question. To the first category, a sysadmin is an angry bearded devil, a computer whiz(ard), and a shaman – all rolled into one. The second category also attributes to sysadmins certain otherworldly traits, but strictly positive ones worthy of repeated bows plus a small gift on every worthy holiday (especially Sysadmin Day). Then there’s the third category of computer users – who don’t take either of these two views of sysadmins; these folks understand they’re just normal folks like the rest of us. And this third category includes the sysadmins themselves!

The shamanic work of sysadmins is eternally interesting: assembling brand new shiny kit, connecting it up with cables (or without them), and also commanding control over mice and keyboards – sometimes from thousands of miles away – and installing or reconfiguring software on a comp from the comfort of their own workplace. However, at the same time the work is hard, incredibly accountable, and, alas, in part thankless.

First of all there are the hundreds or thousands of users who all need to be kept happy – most of them clever-Dicks! Then there are the ever-increasing numbers and types of computers and other newfangled devices – all of which need attention and care. And of course there’s the jungle of software, cables and routers, problems with security… And to top it all off there are the ever-present budgetary constraints and dissatisfaction of the management and users. So it should come as no surprise that only sysadmins with iron psyches and healthy, cynical attitudes to life are the only ones who can cope with the job!

Perhaps the biggest headache for sysadmins is how to physically manage all the tasks under their remit. Installing Office here, correcting a setting in Outlook there, connecting a new comp in the neighboring building, and then getting through another 48 tasks scattered all over the office(s) is all going to result in nothing other than sysadmin burnout! Enter systems management to ease the burden…

The majority of routine operations for controlling a network can either be fully automated, or at least performed remotely, without excessive movement about the office. Upgrade an OS on a comp? Install an application? Check what software is installed on the chief accountant’s laptop? Update antivirus and scan a computer for vulnerabilities? Prolong a license? Correct some pesky setting that’s preventing a program from working as it should? All that and a lot more the sysadmin can do today without leaving his/her room with the help of the same systems management. And just think of the improved productivity of labor and lowering of costs! And how much simpler the life of the sysadmin becomes!

In the early 2000s a control system for the security of a network appeared in our products. It formed a teeny-weeny (but oh-so important) part of systems management, responsible for the monitoring of protected workstations, installation and updating of antivirus, and so on.

AVP Network Control Centre

More: 10 years later…

MDM: Mobile Discipline Mastery.

You’ll no doubt concur with the following observation:

You see them everywhere: folks in elevators, coffee shops, subways, taxis, airports and airplanes, at concerts and parties, on sidewalks, and in darkened cinemas (dammit!), in fact, folks in just about any situation possible – you’ll always find some – no, lots – of them concentrating on, and/or tapping away at the touchscreens of, their smartphones and tablets. And let’s face it – you too do the same, right? (Apart from in the darkened cinema, of course :)

So just what is it these perennial smartphone tappers are up to? Gaming? IMing? Watching movies, or reading the news or an e-book?

All are possible. But more often than not I’ve been observing that at any given convenient moment, any time of day or night, and in any weather, lots of folks tend to be checking their work email and solving work tasks. Yep, on their own absurd-money smartphones! Outside business hours. Without coercion and with plenty of enthusiasm, or, at least, without grumbling :). I sometimes even see them sighing and unconscious pouts forming upon their lips in disappointment that no one’s writing to them!

So why all this 24/7 “at the office, kinda”, all of a sudden? Maybe it’s a cunning virus that infects users’ brains directly from the screen? (Hmmm, that gives me an idea for April 1, 2013:) Or is it that the business management gurus have had it wrong all along re employee motivation? All that was needed in fact was to just connect pretty little glass devices armed with an Internet connection – bought by the employee I might add – to the corporate network! What could be simpler? And that’s exactly what’s been happening; here’s proof: according to Forrester 53% of employees use their own devices for work.

Mobile Device Management

More: The other side of BYOD…

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It’s Not All Just Antivirus, You Know. Introducing Kaspersky Security for Business.

It’s been little more than a year since the release of the previous version of our corporate product (Endpoint Security 8), but we’ve already rolled out a new (need I say it – much improved) one. Yesterday, as per tradition in New York, we had our global launch of Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business (KESB) – a nifty bit of software kit in which all sorts of new stuff comes together – from a flock of new functionality to a new name and a new product line.

This post gives you a peak at all these newbie bits and bobs featured in KESB. But first, as a bit of background to make all the new stuff a little easier to get your head round (I hope), let me give you a historic overview what’s gone on in the past and which has brought us to this year’s culmination: KESB.

More: In the beginning there was antivirus…

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Finding the Needle in the Haystack. Introducing: Astraea.

Somewhere in the office there’s a carefully guarded little big black book that contains a collection of up-to-date KL facts & figures, which we use in public performances. You know, things like how many employees we have, how many offices and where, turnover, etc., etc. One of the most oft-used figures from this book is the daily number of new malicious programs – a.k.a. malware. And maybe this daily figure is so popular because of how incredibly fast it grows. Indeed, its growth amazed even me: a year ago it was 70,000 samples of malware – remember, per day; in May 2012 it was 125,000 per day; and now – by the hammer of Thor – it’s already… 200,000 a day!

I kid you not my friends: every single day we detect, analyze and develop protection against just that many malicious programs!

How do we it?

Simply put, it all comes down to our expert know-how and the technologies that come about from it – about which another big black book could be compiled from the entries on this here blog (e.g., see the features tag). In publicizing our tech, some might ask if we aren’t afraid our posts are read by the cyber-swine. It’s a bit of a concern. But more important for us is users getting a better understanding of how their (our) protection works, and also what motivates the cyber-scoundrels and what tricks they use in their cyber-bogusness.

Anyway, today we’ll be adding another, very important addition to this tech-tome – one on Astraea technology. This is one of the key elements of our KSN cloud system (video, details), which automatically analyzes notifications from protected computers and helps uncover hitherto unknown threats. In actual fact Astraea has a lot of other plusses going for it – plusses which for a while already our security analysts simply couldn’t imagine their working day without. So, as per my techie-blog post tradition, let me go through it all for you – step by step…

More: Big data, crowdsourcing, data mining and Rocket science…