About The Author: Trish Kapos

Marketing & Strategic Relationships
Trish brings technology and telecommunications marketing experience. Trish directs marketing and strategic partnerships for MicroCorp to support the business’ growth.

Preparing for the Next Generation of Security Intelligence

Are you familiar with security intelligence? If not, you should be. Here’s what you need to know about this growing data-gathering activity that will protect your digital assets from cyber criminals.

Introducing a New Kind of Intelligence

Since cyber threats continue to increase regardless of how sophisticated cybersecurity software gets, governments and businesses are turning to the next phase of defense — intelligence gathering. This solution involves collecting huge amounts of actionable information on cyber threats, then using big data tools to protect organizations from outside threats.

Time and Cost Efficiency Factors

IT teams should not go overboard chasing intelligence if it’s not helping the company. Security intelligence is meant to enhance security systems, not replace them. If a company devotes too much time and money to this data collection process, they may lose focus on what the business is really about — which is making money, not spending money. The key is to synchronize big data tools when necessary to guard against dangerous attacks.

Modern malware can hide for many weeks in a network before it initiates damage. It can be prevented using machine learning strategies that predict disasters. Detailed intelligence will help companies determine the safety of their existing protection.

Cyber Myths

Before venturing into big data collection, you should be aware that many myths surround intelligence gathering in the digital world. It’s not designed to predict presidential elections, military outcomes, or the stock market. Many people may assume too much from the word “prediction.” What this intelligence does is bring together the most relevant data on cyber threats so that analysts can quickly make determinations on avoiding disasters.

In recent years, a majority of North American and European businesses have been victimized by cyber crime in some form. As much as the government is working to crack down on cyber criminals, all it takes is one attack to wipe out a business. The Internet of Things and expanding interconnectivity of devices are creating increased vulnerabilities.

Perhaps the biggest cyber-myth of all is when companies believe that simply installing firewalls and doing routine screening for bugs will be sufficient protection against cyber threats. Adding security intelligence will help businesses gain more confidence in their protection from cyber crime moving forward.

Conclusion

Firewalls, ransomware protection, and other security solutions can be maximized when using data collection and analysis software that predicts cyber attacks. The reason governments and corporations are adding security intelligence to their systems is because they anticipate cyber crime to escalate in the coming years. Contact us to learn more about how MicroCorp can strengthen your defense against cyber crime and improve profitability.

Expanding Data Center Trend Continues

The data center industry continues its rapid growth in 2017 to meet the storage demands of existing robust cloud providers. At the same time, the vacancy rate of U.S. data center space is 4.6%, according to real estate brokerage firm CBRE. Even though tightness remains for server capacity, there is still much more data center development on the way.

Geography of Expansion

Most of the construction going on in 2017 for new data centers is in Northern Virginia, which is expected to add 121 MW of power. Other key places for larger data space include the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Silicon Valley in California. According to CBRE, about 271 MW of capacity is being built in big metropolitan areas, of which 160 MW is under construction without signed leases from vendors.

Will Expansion Pay off for Cloud Providers?

Data facility owners are expected to do well in 2017 in terms of a balance between supply and demand, according to real estate experts. It appears to be a positive move for modern data centers that can offer a multitude of cloud and managed services. As owners of traditional data centers move into outsourced data centers, the door will be opened for more vacant facilities to be sold.

In 2016, data center asset sales reached $1.78 billion with an average price per square foot of $275. Acquisitions that had not yet closed by the end of the year included Equinix’s purchase of Verizon data centers in the Americas and CenturyLink’s proposed acquisition of BC Partners and Medina Capital. Data facility owners with the greatest potential to capitalize on rising demand for network connectivity and pricing are those in heavily populated areas.

What Expansion Means for IT

The IT industry is challenged by tight budgets and limited space. That puts IT firms in a position to make one of three choices, according to CenturyLink:

  1. Construct a new facility
  2. Upgrade an existing data center
  3. Outsource with a trusted provider

The key factor in choosing what to do to meet growth challenges will be for IT companies and the businesses they serve to evaluate costs together. The increasing emphasis among businesses on big data and analytics is part of what’s fueling this steady expansion. Other reasons for this growth include:

  • Demands to replace outdated technology
  • The trend toward globalization
  • Mergers and acquisitions, and spinoffs that require more space
  • Increasing interest in more disaster recovery server space

Conclusion

MicroCorp has been supporting MSPs, VARs, and agent partners for over 30 years. If you’ve run out of server space or need a more efficient data center solution, contact us to learn how we can accommodate your technology needs.

SD-WAN Technology Will Continue to Expand in 2017

Enterprise tech experts believe that 2017 is going to be a big year for integrated network technologies, particularly with regard to appliances. Integrated networks are now far easier to deploy and manage than they were even a couple of years ago, and many pundits are predicting that the enterprise space will see a sharp rise in the number of network appliance deployments this year. Somewhat surprisingly, SD-WAN technology has proven to be a major driver of this shift.

When the integrated network trend first surfaced, it seemed as though NFV technologies were going to be the go-to option for network design and deployment. However, they require a significant investment of IT resources, and many enterprises don’t want to handle all their integration requirements in-house. SD-WAN solutions have stepped in to fill the void, in large part because they offer centralized control and configuration features that greatly reduce the amount of care and feeding the network needs for peak performance.
Major Factors Driving the SD-WAN Trend

In particular, there are five major reasons why SD-WAN has become the solution of choice for integrated networking:

  • An application-oriented focus. Because SD-WAN is so centralized, it supports superior network adaptability and application-level reporting. By contrast, branch networks powered by multi-vendor solutions do not achieve nearly the same level of consistency.
  • Flexibility and responsiveness to change. This adaptability carries over to the service, integration, and policy spheres. Generally speaking, SD-WAN networks are the least rigid and most suited to change and flexibility, making them a better fit in a constantly shifting technology landscape.
  • Better processor technologies. Today’s processors have made it possible to assign a wider range of functions to hardware than ever before, without any loss of performance. SD-WAN networks exploit this to their advantage.
  • The rise of cloud computing. Because the cloud has shifted a great deal of Internet traffic to links, SD-WAN has emerged as a prime solution because it vastly reduces the workload placed on other network resources.
  • An “easier is better” mentality. Today, enterprises expect technologies to be easy to use without requiring a great deal of setup. SD-WAN fits the bill, and because it is so much easier to create and deploy, it is supplanting older networking techniques that are comparatively complicated and thus seen as outdated.

The connectivity and communication professionals at MicroCorp offer industry-leading expertise and a comprehensive suite of business-oriented, SD-WAN-powered integrated networking solutions. Please contact a MicroCorp client services representative to learn more.

SD-WAN: Will This Be the Year Security and Networking Become One and the Same?

The IT space has been abuzz with whispers that security and networking could soon be headed for a convergence, with networking taking over security needs (or vice-versa). Some pundits are predicting this shift could take place as early as this year, with SD-WAN technologies drawing particular attention due to two main factors: their popularity, and their perceived vulnerability.

As a result, IT experts are predicting SD-WAN will have a strong influence on both networking and security trends in 2017. Here are five specific ways in which this could influence the near future of enterprise IT:

 
SD-WAN Networks Have Heightened Security Needs

SD-WAN technologies, by their very nature, require a great deal of direct Internet access (DIA) expansion. This, in turn, brings about a major increase in the amount of digital assets that are exposed to security vulnerabilities.

Most businesses still aren’t paying enough attention to their security needs, with a recent survey sponsored by Versa Networks through Dimension Data finding that 40 percent of enterprise branch networks don’t even deploy basic firewall technologies, and that as many as half of these networks don’t use more advanced firewall security solutions.

When SD-WAN is used to power DIA, businesses open themselves up to two types of threats. SD-WAN increases the amount of attackable surface elements, while DIA means enterprises have a larger number of potential threat entry points to secure.

 
Vendors Are Taking Several Different Approaches to SD-WAN Security

Fortunately, experts in the SD-WAN space are fully cognizant of the security risks, and several solutions have emerged. Network segmentation and stateful firewalls are leading the charge, but there are still significant challenges at the application level. Vendors are working to meet these challenges by putting together customized mix-and-match solutions that combine as many as four security technologies.

 
Security Through Service Chaining

When paired with deep packet inspection (DPI), service chaining provides an effective means of securing SD-WAN networks. DPI works by collecting traffic from the edges of the network, and service chaining supports it by merging multiple security functions into a single, centralized hub that analyzes that traffic and identifies threats.

While this strategy is generally effective, it is still developing. One of its shortcomings is that security and the analytics specific to networking are separate. This can result in slower IT responses to security threats when they happen.

 
Integration Issues

Because enterprises are trending towards reducing the amount of on-premises resources they maintain, a growing number of vendors are integrating SD-WAN networks with security solutions prior to implementation.

While this does offer key advantages, including improved analytics and reduced costs, it also comes with some drawbacks. One of the biggest downsides relates to industry-leading security providers, many of which aren’t fully integrated with SD-WAN networking solutions as of yet.

 
Security and Networking Will Converge

Even though the industry isn’t quite there yet, experts expect that security and networking will converge as the aforementioned technologies continue to mature. SD-WAN is noted for its ability to support collaboration, which bodes well for

IT teams working to secure these networks.

MicroCorp is a leading agency and distributor of advanced enterprise telecommunications solutions. Prospective partners interested in adding SD-WAN and related security technologies to their service suites are invited to contact MicroCorp to learn more.

10 Ways Partners Can Help Customers Protect Their Data

In this digital era, it’s inevitable that organizations will experience security breaches — both large and small businesses have seen unprecedented cyber attacks over the years as hackers get more savvy and business leaders stay in denial. Ignoring the most basic security fundamentals can lead to breaches and enormous losses.

How do you help your customers deal with the persistence of cyber criminals, and put preventative measures in place? The following are 10 tips on technologies and methods that can help you help your customers protect their data.

1. Train employees

10 percent of all websites encounter “drive-by” malware attacks, according to TechRepublic. Emphasize to your customers that employees need to pay attention to suspicious activity and refrain from interacting with unfamiliar parties. It’s best that employees are educated through cyber security awareness training programs.

2. Predict external threats

A new device fingerprinting tool allows your customers to collect IP-agnostic information from the source of incoming traffic which helps detect cyber threats. Hackers have used fake and automated traffic to disrupt networks, but device fingerprinting can spot nefarious sources before they attack.

3. Eliminate internal threats

Intel recently conducted a study that found that 43% of internal data leaks are caused by internal sources. Your customers are probably focusing on cyber protection against external threats as internal data is left unguarded. Software such as cloud-based Teramind provides administrators with alerts when attempted internal breaches occur.

4. Planning for cyber safety

No matter how sophisticated security software gets, hackers still find ways to penetrate networks. That’s why it’s important to maintain a proactive approach to protection against cyber threats. Educate your customers on identifying and blocking hacker or suspicious visitors as soon as they become apparent.

5. Encryption and authentication

Encourage your customers to adopt two-factor authentication, or 2FA, which has become a cost-effective, fundamental cornerstone of maintaining a data protection. One of the main components of this technique to defend against password attacks is to require data that is exclusive to the user. Additionally, data encryption and proper key management figure into this strategy.

6. Data loss prevention software

The evolution of the web is creating a massive proliferation of data — as more data is created, the more it must be protected. Your customers should be aware of data loss prevention (DLP) — now a necessary tool. It is designed to give an administrator control over who can access certain information and who is allowed to send data to external sources.

7. Browser isolation technology

Much of today’s malware is delivered through web browsers. But a technique called “browser isolation” separates the network from suspicious sources. Instead of trying to identify unsafe web content, this technology takes the initiative for your customers by creating a virtual air gap between their networks and web content.

8. DNS server protection

Your customers’ DNS systems can be protected by surrounding them with DNS Firewalls, which provide immediate alerts that detect malware attacks. Experts say that in most cases, if you cut off communication between malware and the attackers, they will give up.

9. Program-based security strategies

The sooner you can help your customers resolve security issues, the more likely the damage will be minimized. To learn more about prioritizing tasks for responding to cyber threats, administrators should turn to firms that implement program-based security strategies, such as Skybox.

10. Multi-Layered Approach

The key to maintaining data protection these days requires a multi-layer approach with access to a wide variety of defense options. You want to help your customers catch the most number of attacks at the lowest cost. Using new tools such as Moving Target Defense can help lower cyber risks.

Your customers should be prioritizing cyber security so that they are always a step ahead of the crooks. The best approach is to build layers of protection around data and always know what to do in case of a breach. The more prepared you and your customers are, the more you both can minimize damage caused by attackers.

Why are Data Security Plans So Important?

Data breaches are not a new problem and affect all industries, but some more than others. For example, CRN reports that data breaches and security incidents rose 35% in 2016 for the healthcare industry compared to the previous year.

If your customers have private information about individuals or other businesses in their databases — whether it be credit card information, identity information, or other classified details — they are targets for hackers. What’s worse: most of your customers probably think their systems are secure. If there are two things the past few years have shown, it’s that no business is safe from cyber threats, and too few put safeguards in place only after damage has been done — not before.

So how do you protect your precious customer data and your customers’ data? You make a plan. And you make a plan not just for yourself, but one for your customer, too. That way, everyone stays secure.

Any plan should integrate these key concepts:

Identify reporting requirements under federal and state law – Which industries are your customers in? When a breach does occur, there will likely be a number of things that need to be reported to state and federal officials, depending on their markets. Knowing what these requirements are can keep your customers from running afoul of ever-changing laws. Consulting with a legal professional can help keep an organization up-to-date with what needs to be done in regards to breach reporting.

Know the biggest security vulnerabilities – Help your customers develop security plans by identifying the most likely avenues of attack. Denying hackers an easy way into a system is proactive, and — once these points are known — it becomes easier for a security team to create stronger defenses specific to each individual vulnerability.

Develop a testing and cyber-defense protocol – Periodic testing of a system helps your customers to make sure that there are no new vulnerabilities that need to be immediately addressed. The defenses put into place by a data security team should include active monitoring of the server as well as individual links with the central database. Scheduled penetration testing should be done on the most vulnerable areas to ensure that current defenses are sufficient for new methods of attack.

Pay special attention to external communications – While your customer may have robust security procedures in place, they can all be undone by a careless third party. If a vendor is putting your customer’s business at risk with its security shortcomings, it may be necessary to either require them to upgrade their cyber-defenses or find a new vendor. At a minimum, there should be an agreement between vendors that requires one party to notify the other party if a data breach occurs.

Educate yourself – You can only help your customers if you have the know-how. The security world is changing constantly, with new types of threats emerging around the clock. Educate yourself with research and talking to experts so that you can bring top security advice to your clients.

To find out more about the cyber threats and data security plans, contact MicroCorp today.

MicroCorp One on One Event Peaks with 30-Year Recognition

MicroCorp, a distributor of commercial data, voice, UC, SD-WAN and data center services, topped off its 13th annual One on One partner event with a celebration and recognition for 30 years as a leader in channel partner support. The two-day event was held in Atlanta, GA at two world class venues, the Porsche Experience Center and Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

“This year’s One on One event developed into a special experience for everyone as we celebrated our 30 year anniversary,”  commented Karin Fields, co-owner and CEO of MicroCorp. “MicroCorp and our partners have evolved with the industry and this event carried a tone of great friendship and family as MicroCorp, partners and our providers were all recognized for their great achievements.”

Founded in 1986 by Brad Miehl, MicroCorp began as a master agent for partners selling long distance services. Built on a philosophy of true partner support,  Miehl expanded the provider and service portfolio to meet the growing demands of our partners. Today MicroCorp supports complex bids through the aptlynamed People Powered Network – the most powerful combination of back office systems, people and support offerings in the industry. With keen attention to pre-sales efforts, MicroCorp support teams boast more than 500 years of experience and provides white glove service through the company’s TotalCare 365 services. Partners have access to  an engineer for architecting data center, cloud, SIP, SD-WAN and blended MPLS network solutions for domestic and international bids.  Lastly, MicroCorp partners utilize the company’s flagship tools within Nautilus – a collaborative platform that allows our partners and providers to communicate with the MicroCorp team on everything from quotes to orders and commissions.

Honoring MicroCorp for the 30-year milestone was The Alliance Partners, represented by the organization’s CEO, Bill Power. Quoting from an award plaque presented to MicroCorp, Powers shared, “MicroCorp has always been mindful of the interests of the channel and has worked tirelessly to advance best practices within the telecom/IT industry.” Power further acknowledged MicroCorp’s performance and lasting contributions to the channel and the community at large.

Jeremy Stack added to Team MicroCorp

MicroCorp Hires Veteran Commissions Expert to Lead Growing Commission & BI Team

Telecom Distributor Hires Jeremy Stack as its new Manager of Commissions.

MicroCorp, distributor of commercial data, voice, UC and data center services, announced today that it has named Jeremy Stack as its new Manager of Commissions to lead commissions and business intelligence for a portfolio of more than 1,500 selling partners.

As Manager of Commissions, Stack will lead the team of commission analyst and business intelligence employees. “The addition of Jeremy comes at a crucial time for MicroCorp. As our company’s complex bid volume has grown, so has the need for more sophistication in our reporting and processes, “ commented Dave Harvey, VP of Operations.  “His prior experience in the channel and with other providers is translating into great improvements in our processes.”

Stack comes to MicroCorp with more than nine years of agent commission processing and reporting experience. His commission experience flourished at PGi, collaboration and conferencing solutions provider, where he implemented the company’s first automated commissioning process – boasting near perfect accuracy. While in that role, Stack passed Sarbanes-Oxley testing at 100% four years in a row and was Chairman’s Club award winner for his efforts in transforming the company’s agent commission processing. Most recently, Stack was the Commission Manager for Agilysys and VP Retail Intelligence Performance for SunTrust.

MicroCorp Hires Veteran Engineer to Bolster Complex Bids, Enterprise Sales

Telecom Distributor hires Sean Weisenburger as its new Engineer to head up its Carrier-Agnostic Engineering Services.

MicroCorp, distributor of commercial data, voice, UC and data center services, announced today that it has named Sean Weisenburger as its new Sales Engineer-Strategic Partner Manager based in Louisville, Kentucky.

As Sales Engineer-Strategic Partner Manager, Weisenburger will lead MicroCorp’s efforts in growing an effective, carrier-agnostic Sales Engineering practice supporting a base of more than 1,500 selling partners. With Weisenburger’s involvement, partners will have his support in architecting data center, cloud, SIP, and blended MPLS network solutions for domestic and international bids. Additionally, Weisenburger will directly support a key group of partners based in Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

“The addition of engineering for complex bid support marks an exciting upgrade in the support we offer our partners,” commented Phil Keenan, President of MicroCorp. “As our partners engage larger clients with more sophisticated solution requirements, it’s critical to their success to provide consulting, design and advanced technical expertise to close those deals. Sean possesses that technical expertise, along with years of practical experience with leading carriers that are in our portfolio.”

Weisenburger comes to MicroCorp with deep industry experience. Most recently, Weisenburger was an accomplished Network Design Sales Engineer for Windstream where he won numerous awards, including 2015 Presidents Club/Elite. Prior to Windstream,  Weisenburger held various engineering positions over his 20-year career with ICG Communications, Interspace Computers/Fortress Network Security, and Covad.

Weisenburger attended the University of Louisville and boasts a long list of technical certifications including: Carrier Access Certified Administrator, Microsoft Certified Professional, SonicWALL Certified Engineer, SonicWALL SGMS Engineer, Fat Pipe Certified Engineer, Symantec Certified Engineer, Computer Associates Certified Expert, Adtran Sales Expert, Allworx Certified Engineer, Fortinet NSP, Ruckus WISP (In progress), VMWare Certified Design Expert (in progress) and CCDA (lapsed).

The engineering and complex bid support provided by  Weisenburger is part of MicroCorp’s partner-centric engagement model.  All MicroCorp partners have an assigned Partner Manager to help them build and grow their Cloud and Carrier sales.  MicroCorp partners will be introduced to Weisenburger. Complex bids requiring his expertise will be routed to him through our industry-leading partner portal, Nautilus.