Passwords are past it – are certificates the key to better online security?

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When the impact of the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability became clear (along with many other recent compromises), security experts advised us to change all of our online passwords as a precaution.

Of course this is a Good Idea™, but did you actually do it or was it just another of those pieces of advice about passwords that you thought about and then chose to ignore because it seemed like a massive hassle?  Did you promise yourself that you would get around to it at some point and yet probably you never will, despite an uncomfortable nagging feeling of insecurity at the back of your head?

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WordPress Survey Quiz Tool Plugin is back!

I’m pleased to announce that we have updated and re-released the very popular WPSQT plugin. It’s a highly customisable Quiz, Survey and Poll plugin to which allows for unlimited questions and sections – perfect for running an exam website or collecting visitor feedback .You can check it out on WordPress plugin directory.

With this release (2.14) we’ve responded to feedback on the forums and have fixed a number of bugs.

  • We have fixed the survey results display so that it no longer gives and error and fails for some question types.
  • You can now include an option in the results shortcode to display the results as a chart.
  • We have reformatted the auto-review display so that quiz or survey users can review their results more easily.
  • We have fixed the save/resume quiz feature so this is no longer broken.
  • The plugin icon has been changed to match the control panel design of newer version of WordPress.
  • Many other minors bugs fixed!

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Introducing a new login and signup user experience

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The new CatN user login and signup system offers a simpler, streamlined look for accessing the control panel. Since the launch of vCluster it has been exciting to watch our customer base grow and gather your feedback. One message kept coming through, the login system is confusing and obtrusive.

We’ve been working hard to improve this and give you a login process that is painless and as simple as possible. Today we pushed our this system live, and next time you go to log in to the control panel you’ll see a brand new design.

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CatN is proud to have six Certified System Administrators in Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack

One of our six certified developers, Jorge Serrano, who has successfully passed the rigorous course in Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack, talks about the hands-on training. It has given him practical experience which will enable him to improve our customer experience. Congratulations Jorge and everyone, well done!

Having so many Red Hat experts in-house now makes us one of the most qualified OpenStack companies in the UK!

To see what other people who took the course with Jorge have to say watch this short video:


 

Important Update: The OpenSSL Heartbleed Bug

A serious vulnerability to the OpenSSL project, named ‘Heartbleed’, was disclosed a couple of days ago. This vulnerability allows anyone on the internet to read information protected by vulnerable versions of OpenSSL, as the research team who discovered the vulnerability explain.

This bug affects a whole range of internet services such as email, instant messaging, virtual network connections and the web.

We immediately began updating all of our systems to the patched version of OpenSSL. This included vCluster which was never running a vulnerable version in production, but was updated to the patched version anyway. We will continue to monitor the situation and look at educating our intrusion detection systems to pick up activity patterns relating to this vulnerability.

What should our customers do?

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Cloud transition: how can you move from over subscription to capacity utilisation?

The journey of many businesses from a heavily over subscribed infrastructure solution to the flexible, scalable world of cloud we are in today is a very interesting one. It is still possible to draw parallels between what is now considered to be a highly inefficient approach to building IT solutions, and the practises we still see from some IT suppliers.

In the 2000s it was incredibly common to find an over subscription of hardware when looking at consumption by real workloads. On top of that there would often be a further over subscription for peak periods, especially in e-commerce. This created a double whammy of very high expenditure levels for a given amount of business. The irony was that capacity and spend are relatively interchangeable due to them being commodity infrastructure items.

In the second half of the noughties there was a shift away from the over subscription of hardware. The reason was virtualisation. This allowed businesses to combine and consolidate all of their work loads onto as little hardware as possible. Unfortunately the fact remained, it was still necessary to maintain an overhead of capacity which meant an over subscription for peak periods.

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Introducing self signed SSL certificates in just two clicks!

We’ve improved the way SSL certificate creation for vCluster works in the CatN control panel. If you’re running a development or test environment on vCluster, you can now quickly generate and assign a self signed SSL certificate to allow you test SSL functionality.

You can now create and assign a self-signed certificate on one of your vCluster domains in just two clicks. Log into the control panel at cp.c4.catn.com and access your vCluster filesystem settings panel. Take a look at the right hand sidebar and click through on the SSL item to get to the admin panel.

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Joe Gardiner comments on hybrid cloud on Tech Crunch

Is hybrid cloud the future? What form will the cloud take in business organisations?

The business critical applications with security and performance demands can be hosted on a private cloud. This environment can then be integrated with the less critical services such as web servers, which are at home on a public cloud. Combining these two cloud models leverages cost efficiencies and also builds resilience into a solution. I would highly recommend engaging with a specialist cloud provider to build an effective hybrid cloud.

Read the full article – Is hybrid cloud the future?

Forecasting clouds for 2014

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2013 has come to an end so it’s time to look to the future and asses the cloud market as a cloud hosting provider.

In 2013 we saw Amazon form a partnership with Eucalyptus in an attempt to encourage Enterprise to migrate their critical applications to the cloud provider; Rackspace handed ongoing management of OpenStack to a multi-vendor organisation; we witnessed G-Cloud continue to grow despite criticism from some market analysts; most importantly at CatN we released version 2.0 of our PHP platform as a Service (PaaS) called vCluster!

How is the cloud market going to develop in 2014?

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CatN’s Network Time Protocol Network

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Time is important, especially when it comes to computers serving time-sensitive data. There is of course a very well established means of keeping computers in-sync with each other, indeed it’s one of the oldest protocols still in use on the Internet — Network Time Protocol (NTP).

One of the services CatN provides to our customers is a reliable time service. In order to do this we run a network of stratum 2 NTP servers which derive their time from diverse stratum 1 servers either directly on our network or maintained by organisations which we peer directly with, and these in turn are synchronised via a mix of GPS and PPS stratum 0 time sources.

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