Posted by: psilva | September 28, 2016

Lightboard Lessons: Secure & Optimize VDI


Virtualization continues to impact the enterprise and how IT delivers services to meet business needs. Desktop Virtualization (VDI) offers employees anywhere, anytime, flexible access to their desktops whether they are at home, on the road, in the office or on a mobile device. In this edition of Lightboard Lessons, I show how BIG-IP can secure, optimize and consolidate your VMware Horizon View environment, providing a secure front end access layer for VMware’s VDI infrastructure.

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Posted by: psilva | September 27, 2016

Lock Down Your Login

Posted by: psilva | September 21, 2016

Lightboard Lessons: DNS Scalability & Security


The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup, loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries.

DNS lookups has exploded in recent years with mobile, IoT and the applications to support the growth. It is also a vulnerable target. In my first Lightboard Lesson, I show you how to scale, secure and consolidate your DNS infrastructure.

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Posted by: psilva | September 20, 2016

Don’t Take the Impostor’s Bait


detect_phishing_introPhishing has been around since the dawn of the internet. The term was first used in an AOL Usenet group back in 1996 but it wasn’t until 2003 when many baited hooks and lures started dropping. Popular transaction destinations like PayPal and eBay were some of the early victims of these spoofed sites asking customers to update their personal and credit card information. By 2004, it was a full-fledged ‘get rich quick scheme’ with many financial institutions – and their customers – as targets.

Oxford Dictionary defines Phishing as, ‘The fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.’

You’ve seen it, the almost perfect looking email with actual logos, images and links to a reputable company only to have it go to a slick looking replica complete with a login form. If you aren’t paying attention and do enter your credentials, you’ve just given a crook access to your money.

The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) reports a 250 percent jump in the number of detected phishing websites between October 2015 and March 2016. More than in any other three-month span since it began tracking back in 2004. That’s around 230,000 unique phishing campaigns a month. And as recent as last week, American Express users were hit with a phishing email offering anti-phishing protection. Go figure. If you clicked the link, you were taken to a bogus Amex login page which asks for all the important stuff: SSN, DoB, mother’s maiden, AMEX number plus security code and a few other vitals.

When complete, you’ll be redirected to the authentic site so you think you’ve been there all along. That’s how they work their magic. A very similar domain URL and all the bells of the original, including the real customer service 800 number.

You can combat it however.

F5’s WebSafe Web Fraud Protection can secure your organization (and your customers) against the evolving online fraud and you do not need any special client to detect it. WebSafe inserts an obfuscated JavaScript code which can detect malware like bait, mandatory words or if the fake was loaded from a different domain. It can validate source integrity like comparing fields for multiple users and detect threats like automatic transactions. Alerts are sent to an on premise dashboard and can also be forwarded to F5’s Security Operations Center (SOC).

If you are configuring malware protection for the login and transaction pages for a financial application, it’s as simple as adding an Anti-Fraud profile to your VIP.

First, you create an anti-fraud profile:

anti fraud

Then indicate which URL should be watched and the action:

anti fraud url

Then enable Phishing detection:

anti fraud pshishing

And when a phishing attach occurs, both the domain and the username of the victim get reported to the dashboard :

copied-user

The code that’s inserted is a little piece of JavaScript added to your website to detect the malicious activity. No action is needed on the part of the user since everything is handled within BIG-IP.

anti fraud code added

This tiny piece of code will dramatically reduce fraud loss and retain the most important asset in business—customer confidence.

Don’t get fooled by a faker.

ps

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Posted by: psilva | September 13, 2016

750th Blog Spectacular – Lessons of the LightBoard


IMG_3526I recently built out a LightBoard Studio for my home office so I can start contributing to the awesome LightBoard Lessons on DevCentral. These are short, informative videos explaining various technologies and often, how to implement on a BIG-IP system. Instead of writing on a whiteboard and looking over your shoulder into the camera as you explain something, Lightboards allow you to draw on and look through the crystal clear glass (into the camera) while discussing technical concepts. A transparent whiteboard. The LEDs that surround the glass accompanied with neon markers make the images pop. It’s pretty darn cool.

So the story goes, a college professor was looking for a better way to deliver lessons to his students both on campus and online without a chalkboard. He called it the Learning Glass and now there are Lightboards all over the world, especially in universities. Incidentally, there is cool video of Picasso painting on glass from 1949.

He had the right idea.

IMG_3525You may have read or watched Jason & John’s Lightboard Lessons: Behind the Scenes and I wanted to report on my own experiences. First, I followed Jason’s bill of materials (except the camera) and it provides most everything you need to get started. I initially thought about a 3’ x 5’ pane of glass due to my smaller venue but couldn’t find an appropriate frame for that size. Well, to be clear, there may have been one but it was way outside my budget. I looked at various saw horses, ladder frames and other apparatus thinking I could ‘make’ something that could properly hold the glass in place. No dice.

So I decided to go a little larger with the 4’ x 6’ size since there is a frame specifically built for this purpose. Rahm is correct about ordering the frame first since you’ll need to carefully measure the mounting holes so the glass can be drilled perfectly. It also takes a few weeks to order and have the glass delivered – at least in my area. This was fine since it allowed me to set up the other equipment like the lights, back drop and camera location. In addition, make sure you have the delivery folks help you place it on the frame…depending on the size, this is not a pick up and install yourself deal. The glass is large, heavy and certainly needs a few people to carry and properly align with the holes.

IMG_3524Once the glass is installed (and cleaned) you can wrap the LEDs around the edge. There are a couple ways to go with this step. You could use large binder clips to hold the lights at the edge or, like Jason, I got 3/8” shower u-channels to go around the glass and hold the lights in place. Instead of silicon to hold the u-channel, I used clamp clips to hold the outer metal. This allows me to easily change and adjust the LEDs if needed.

The Expo Neon markers do make a greasy mess and I’ve got the same Sprayway glass cleaner. I also got one of those magic erasers to help clean and old hotel room keys work well on dried ink. It’s not that difficult to have a clean slate but any smudges will certainly appear if it’s not sparkle-city.

This week I’ll be moving around the lights and doing some test shots for audio and visual screen tests and look forward to publishing my first LightBoard Lesson very soon. Shooting for next week if all tests go well. I’m excited.

It’s always been a dream of mine to have a home studio. Some guys want a man-cave, some want a game room, others a high end home theatre or a rack of computer equipment. Me? A studio.

And for my 750th DevCentral article I wanted to say: Thanks Gang!!

ps


JoshJosh Becigneul is the ADC Engineer for Secure-24 and DevCentral’s Featured Member for September!

Josh has been working in the IT industry in various positions for a little over 10 years. He’s moved through various disciplines including MS server administration, Linux, Networking, and now has been working primarily with F5 BIG-IPs. For the past 3 years he has focused on F5’s products and growing a team of engineers to manage them. Secure-24 delivers managed IT operations, application hosting and managed cloud services to enterprises worldwide.

DevCentral got an opportunity to talk with Josh about his work, life and the importance of being F5 Certified.

DevCentral: You’ve been an active contributor to the DevCentral community and wondered what keeps you involved?

Josh Becigneul: DevCentral has helped me greatly over the years as I’ve worked with F5 products, so I feel like it’s worth some of my time to spend both reading posts and helping others in the community. When I started off it helped to be able to explain a need and have someone create a basic iRule, or point me towards documentation explaining something. Now that my skills have grown, I want to pay it forward.

DC: Tell us a little about the areas of BIG-IP expertise you have.

JB: I started off on just BIG-IP LTM but over the years have grown into managing APM, GTM, ASM, and sometimes a mix of each. I’ve worked with 1500’s, 1600s, 3600’s, 3900’s and VIPRION. As well as Enterprise Manager and now BIG-IQ too.

DC: You are an ADC Engineer with Secure-24, an application hosting and cloud services organization. Can you explain how DevCentral helps with your daily challenges? Where does BIG-IP fit in the services you offer or within your own infrastructure?

secure24sJB: At Secure-24, BIG-IP has grown into an essential product for many portions of our organization, along with many of our customers utilizing its services to deliver their applications. We’ve got a large number of LTM customers, APM customers and we’ve been growing into ASM. GTM provides advanced DNS services for many of our customers around the globe. Most deployments using BIG-IP are custom tailored to suit the needs of the particular customer. These can vary from basic load balancing to advanced content steering, or small deployments of a few virtual services to large ones comprised of hundreds.

With the variety of F5 products in use, having a resource like DevCentral is invaluable to our team. From being able to ask my peers questions about things, or utilizing the codeshare and wiki to learn more about iRules and iControl, I couldn’t imagine it not being available.

DC: Describe one of your biggest BIG-IP challenges and how DevCentral helped in that situation.

JB: One of the most useful things iRules allow us to do is virtual hosting; running many services behind a virtual service. Coupling this with APM allowed us to greatly simplify remote access for us and our customers. For several customers, we used APM to migrate them away from MS Forefront.

DC: I understand you are an F5 Certified Professional. Can you tell us about that and why you feel it is beneficial?

JB: Yes, I first became F5 Certified in 2015 with my 201 Certified BIG-IP Administrator, and followed that up at 2016’s F5 Agility conference by obtaining my 304 APM Specialist. I feel it is beneficial because it helps to reinforce what I’ve learned over the years, and (hopefully) lets my customers feel like they are in good hands. (DC: Josh also recently passed the 302 GTM Exam!)

DC: Lastly, if you weren’t an IT admin – what would be your dream job? Or better, when you were a kid – what did you want to be when you grew up?

JB: I’d probably be a roadie, and tour the world doing lights and sound for a huge band!

DC: Thanks Josh and get us backstage passes! Check out all of Josh’s DevCentral contributions, connect on LinkedIn and follow both Josh @vsnine and @secure_24.

And if you’d like to nominate someone to be the DevCentral Featured Member, please send your suggestions to the DevCentral Team!

Posted by: psilva | August 30, 2016

Time to Get Prepping for the F5 Certification 201 Exam


cert_hatLess than a month after gaining some cred (and relief) from passing the F5 Certification 101 exam, the DevCentral team is now embarking on our 201-TMOS Administration journey. The 201-TMOS Administration exam is the second exam required to achieve F5 Certified BIG-IP Administrator status. You see, the 101 is simply a gauge – a benchmark – to determine if you qualify to take the next exam to officially become F5 Certified. The 201 exam focuses on the TMOS operating system, the day-to-day operation and basic troubleshooting of BIG-IP devices. 

You won’t need to install the software but you do need to understand how to administer and troubleshoot it once it is running. You’ll also need to understand how (and what) to provide accurate and appropriate information for senior engineers and/or F5 support. This exam is not so much ‘what do you know’ but more about ‘how do you do it.‘ Theory plus experience.

The DevCentral team is taking the same preparation approach as we did for the 101. We’re doing weekly team study sessions with each person taking a section and presenting to the team. This allows us to share knowledge, experience and discuss the potential questions around a certain topic. We found this very successful while prepping for the 101. Plus it was a good excuse to get together to talk shop. In addition, we’ll need to spend some hands-on time (at least I do) doing real GUI-click stuff.

The good news is there seems to be a lot of 201 resources available. Of course there is F5’s own Eric Mitchell’s comprehensive 201 Certification Study Guide along with the TMOS Administration Exam Blueprint.

f5 admin certOutside of F5, Rich Hill put together a great click-read-learn journey with the various exam sections and the corresponding links to F5 support, DevCentral and other resources. Funzune has a fantastic F5 BIG IP – 201 exam – TMOS administration (Tips and tricks) along with a how to set up F5 BIG-IP lab at home. This is critical since (as mentioned earlier) the 201 exam does require BIG-IP hands on participation.

You can pass the 101 by studying the material but you need actual experience to ace the 201.

TomsITPro has a good overview and career path article for F5 Certifications and there’s a nifty flash-card based 201 Study Guide on Cram.com which delivers 80 potential questions along with the answers. Like the 101, candidates need to answer 80 questions in 90 minutes so nail the ones you know and come back for the more difficult questions. And don’t forget to flag those so it is easier to review with 10 minutes left. Another great resource is the F5 Certified Professionals LinkedIn group. A very active group that always has good tips as members work their way through the process.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention TheF5Guy’s 5 reasons to become F5 Certified. As Nathan Abbott puts it, ‘Reason #1 – I’m “The F5 Guy”, I have to do my best to live up to my name!  Hehehe…

The one theme that runs through many of the 201 certification prep articles is that this exam is not something to take lightly. It is much more challenging than the 101. While the 101 has a 70% pass rate, the 201 hovers around 67%. 69% correct is a pass. And if you do pass you will be awarded the credential of F5 Certified BIG-IP Administrator.

That’s what we’re aiming for.

ps

Posted by: psilva | August 23, 2016

The Intruders of Things


Gartner predicts that by 2020, IoT security will make up 20 percent of annual security budgets.

New-Year-2020-Calender-by-Danilo-Rizzuti2020 seems to be an important milestone for the Internet of Things. That’s the year that Cisco says there will be 50 billion connected devices and also the year Gartner notes that over 50% of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the Internet of Things.

That’s the good news.

A recent Symantec Internet Security Threat Report says there are 25 connected devices per 100 inhabitants in the US. Minimum 25 entry points to your personal information, not counting your front door, personal computers, compromised ATMs and other data sources. As your connected devices grow, so will your exposure. And with no clear methods of identifying and authenticating connected devices, enterprises will have a challenging time getting a handle on how many employee shirts, shoes, fitness trackers, and smartwatches are connected to the corporate network. And more importantly, what do they have access to?

The sneaky spreadsheet macro malware will soon be a spoofed critical alert requiring instant attention.

Healthcare is a prime target for IoT attacks and researchers have already compromised several devices revealing personal info and worse, causing the devices to malfunction. ‘Hey, why isn’t my heart beating any……

The chaos on the feature first consumer side can be frustrating but nothing compared to industrial and manufacturing.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) focuses on industrial control systems, device to network access and all the other connective sensor capabilities. These attacks are less frequent, at least today, but the consequences can be huge – taking out industrial plants, buildings, tractors, and even entire cities.

List-of-640-IoT-projects-min

If you think data protection and privacy are hot now, just wait until 2020. Like BYOD, security pros need to be ready for the inevitable not just the potential of a breach. While the gadgets get all the interest, it’ll be the back end data center infrastructure that will take the brunt of the traffic – good and bad.

Organizations need an infrastructure that can both withstand the traffic growth and defend against attacks. Over on F5’s Newsroom, Lori MacVittie talks about the 3 Things the Network Must Provide for IoT – delivery, security and visibility. Things that can communicate securely with back-end apps, ADC’s that can understand the languages of things (like MQTT) and the ability to see what is going on with the things.

According to TechTarget, ensuring high availability of the IoT services will rely on boosting traffic management and monitoring. This will both mitigate business continuity risks, and prevent potential losses. From a project planning standpoint, organizations need to do capacity planning and watch the growth rate of the network so that the increased demand for the required bandwidth can be met.

iot keysIf you already have BIG-IP in your back yard, you’re well on your way to being IoT ready. You got the network security to protect against inbound attacks; you can offload SSL to improve the performance of the IoT application servers; you can extend your data centers to the cloud to support IoT deployments; scale IoT applications beyond the data center when required and both encrypt and accelerate IoT connections to the cloud.

A pair of BIG-IPs in the DMZ terminates the connection. They, in turn, intelligently distribute the client request to a pool (multiple) of IoT application servers, which then query the database servers for the appropriate content. Each tier has redundant servers so in the event of a server outage, the others take the load and the system stays available.

The BIG-IP tuning may vary but it is still all about nodes, hosts, members, pools, virtual servers and the profiles and services applied. The BIG-IP platform is application and location agnostic, meaning the type of application or where the application lives does not matter. As long as you tell the BIG-IP where to find the IoT application, the BIG-IP platform will deliver it.

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Posted by: psilva | August 16, 2016

I’m Sorry Sir, You’re Obsolete


Is the rate of obsolescence proportionate to the rate of technology advances?

ihomeA few years ago, those little iHome alarm clocks started to appear in hotel rooms. Cool gadgets that you could mount your mobile phone to battery charge or play the music on the device. We also had a few in our home. They worked perfectly for the iPhone4 since the connector was that 1 inch protruding plug. When I got the iPhone6, those clocks instantly became useless. Obsolete. At least the phone connector part lost its value.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

The rate of obsolescence. The state when an object, technology, service or practice is no longer needed or wanted…even though it still may be in good working order. E-waste is the fastest growing segment of the waste stream. With the technological advances, not only are we buying the latest and greatest electronics but we’re also dumping perfectly good, working devices at silly rates. There was even a story about a Central Park mugger who rejected a flip phone during a heist.

Sure, the new gadget is shiny, faster, better or does stuff the other one couldn’t. All commercial things have the typical emerging, growth, maturity and decline model and I started wondering if the rate of obsolescence is proportionate to the rate of technology advances.

Moore’s Law and Wright’s Law are generally regarded as the best formulas for predicting how rapidly technology will advance. They offer approximations of the pace of technological progress. Moore’s Law (1965) describes the rate of improvement in the power of computer chips – essentially, the number of components doubles every 18 months. Generally, the principle can be applied to any technology and says that, depending on the technology, the rate of improvement will increase exponentially over time.

Wright’s Law (1936), says that progress increases with experience. Meaning that each percent increase in cumulative production (in a given industry) results in a fixed percentage improvement in production efficiency.

A simple web search of ‘rate of technological advancement’ returns scores of images that show a huge ramp going up:

rate of advancement

But is there the same rapid decline chart for ‘out of date, lost freshness’ technologies gone by?

Nothing with a laptop falling off a cliff but there are certainly charts showing the rate of e-waste:

e-waste-management-17-728

The climb is not as dramatic as technology advances (yet) but it is still growing rapidly.

So there doesn’t seem to be (or I simply can’t find it) a direct correlation or chart that incorporates both technology advances and resulting obsoleteness. There are plenty of articles that do cover things that will be obsolete in the next few years (DVD players, landlines, clock radios); the jobs that will be obsolete (travel agent, taxi driver); and the things that became obsolete over the last decade.

There is a patent, US7949581 B2, which describes a method of determining an obsolescence rate of a technology yet that looks more at the life of a technology patent and its eventual decay and depreciation rate. Less citations over the years means patent decay. This is more about the depreciation of a specific patent rather than how society embraces and then ultimately tosses the technology.

The funny thing is that nowadays vintage items and antiques seem to be hot markets. Nostalgia is a big seller. Longing for the simpler times I guess.

And lastly, the rate of World IQ over time. Is there a connection with technology?

world_IQ_over_time

If you feel your infrastructure is becoming obsolete with all that cloudy talk, F5 can certainly help by providing the critical application delivery services consistently across all your data centers – private clouds, public clouds, and hybrid deployments – so you can enjoy the same availability, security and performance you’ve come to expect.

ps

Related:

 

E-waste image courtesy: www.slideshare.net/SuharshHarsha

World IQ image courtesy: http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/BRBAKER/

Posted by: psilva | August 9, 2016

I Am an Application Delivery Fundamentalist!


Fun and a little mental.

certrockstarIf you’ve been following along the DevCentral team’s journey toward F5 Certification, then you may be aware that we were in Chicago last week for F5’s Agility 2016 conference and took our 101 Application Delivery Fundamentals exam. I am happy to report that all of us, Jason, John, Chase and I, passed our exams. I gotta tell you, it’s a relief since I didn’t want to title this article, ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.’ Good song but wanted to avoid that.

We started this excursion back in April (me in March) with the team deciding to create a study group. Each week we’d tackle a topic with the guidance of Eric Mitchell’s excellent Study Guide. We worked through the sections and decided to test our luck with the Certification Team’s mobile testing center…with the pressure of passing during an F5 event. Imagine the slight pre-test anxiety going through our minds if we didn’t pass. ‘How long have you been at F5?’ the questions would have started. My mouth covering, embarrassing, face-palming, muffled response of, ’12 years,’ would not have been sufficient.

IMG_3439As Ken told us on the way into the exam room, ‘I tell people it is either pass or fail…so don’t worry about your overall score.’ But he also added specifically to me, ‘You know if you fail, I will give you grief.’ No Pressure.

Well, we were prepared and we all passed!

Jason, John and I took the exam Tuesday morning. After registering and scheduling with Pearson Vue, we arrived at the mobile test center. You need to sign in and present two forms of ID, one with your picture. Even though the Certification team knew all of us, we still needed to follow the procedure, no exceptions. We liked that we had no special treatment – other than the ‘hello’ hugs – and had to process and pass fair and square.

We were seated in different areas since the exam room was fairly full when we entered. The moderator helped each of us get to the proper test associated with our registration and the timer started. For the 101, you have 90 minutes to answer 80 questions. At 23 minutes in, Jason got up and was finished. ‘Wa?!?’ as I look up seeing him walk by, ‘I’m only on question 28!’ I lamented. At least John was still there and I kept an eye on my time and question count the rest of the way. But I also told myself, ‘I’m in no hurry and if I need the full 90 minutes, I’ll take it to the last tick.’

IMG_3442John finished about a 40 minutes later and I was left for the last 30 to myself. With 10 minutes left, I was done but took that remaining time to review my answers. One tip: you can flag questions for review during the test or make comments for yourself as you move along. Close out the ones you know and go back for the more challenging questions. In the end I think I changed 3 answers. No idea if it swayed the results either way.

When you are done, you walk back to the registration room and your preliminary results are already waiting. I felt a quiver when Heidi glanced at my results and gave that ‘I’m sorry,’ look. But that was soon turned to glee as I read, ‘you have Passed.’ We were 3 for 3. Chase took the test on Wednesday and also passed.

me hatsI feel it was a very fair test to determine one’s basic application delivery knowledge. Some networking, some security, some infrastructure. And although we did prepare, it was still a challenging test. These exams are not supposed to be cake-walks but a good way to measure your knowledge around a certain topic.

While we passed and may be certifiable in our own right, we are not ‘officially’ F5 Certified. That comes with the 201 exam. The 201-TMOS Administration exam is the second exam required to achieve Certified F5 BIG-IP Administrator status. Candidates must have passed the 101-Application Delivery Fundamentals exam in order to be eligible for the 201 exam.

And wouldn’t you know it, we’re all now shooting for the 201. We plan on doing the team study again but we’ll also need to dig into some on box time for this one. I plan on keeping you posted for the 201 but for now, I’ll just bask in my 101 glory.

Phew!

ps

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