Feb 11, 2019

Azure: State of virtual disks on VM is 'detached' after an ASR test failover

At my day job that shall not be named, we ran into a very interesting issue over the last month and a half or so. You see, we run our production environment in Microsoft Azure, and the way we've configured our Microsoft SQL database cluster is by following this Always On Setup in Azure.

On top of that, for performance in Azure, we are using Microsoft Storage Spaces. If you aren't familiar with Storage Spaces, you basically take a number of physical disks (They are actually virtual disks in Azure) and pool them together so you are striping data across them. This increases your IO, and thus increases your performance. It's pretty slick!

Typical Storage Spaces/Storage Pool Setup


I digress...

Anyway, we wanted to add a new pool to both of our servers, so naturally we added the virtual disks in the VM, then created our pool in Microsoft Storage Spaces, and created our virtual drives on top. Simple right?

Well it was simple until we used Azure Site Recovery (ASR) to replicate these new disks to our DR zone in the East US region. When we did our test failover, and powered up our servers in the East US region, we noticed that the servers showed our virtual disks as being detached. WTF is that all about?!?!

Well after going back and forth with Azure tech support for weeks, my Systems Engineer finally figured out a fix by running a PowerShell command.

The command he ran was:

 Get-VirtualDisk | Where-Object -FilterScript {$_.IsManualAttach -eq "True"} | Set-VirtualDisk -IsManualAttach $False  

After running this on the production nodes from an elevated PowerShell, we no longer had the issue of the virtual disks replicating in a detached state when we initiated ASR test failovers!

Now why did Windows mark these new virtual disks to be manually attached in the first place? We still don't know that, but if you run into this issue yourselves at least you know how to fix it.

Feb 5, 2019

Using Cloud Archiving for Information Storage

Do you have particular information you would like to keep forever, if possible? Information that you really do not need to open frequently but you need to save it? This information could range from a company’s vital information to a year worth of research information or even treasured moments from a special family’s vacation.

Losing such data could be the worst nightmare ever! It could happen to anyone at any time and with any information. Results of such could be quite devastating. It is therefore important to be prepared for such possible time by having extra backup sources of that data.

Before determining the type of backup that is best suitable for your use, you should first recognize the particular type of data that you need to backup. Some data do not need to be backed up as they are readily available in cases of loss, important documents are mostly always needed to be backed up, pictures and created videos could also be important for backup. Also, these data should be properly organized so that in a retrieval case, it doesn’t get too clumsy to retrieve your files. Determining the best storage for you would also require you to be cost-effective in making your decision.



Ways in which you could back up your data

There are various ways in which data can be kept safe for future purposes. Newer ways also keep developing. Such ways include;

  • The use of flash drives; these are small devices that can be used to move files. Additionally, they come with a small storage capacity for data and can only be used for temporary storage of data. Using the flash drive is not a secure mode of storage as anything could happen to it, it could get missing, stolen or even infected with viruses. This translates to the fact that security options with a flash drive are not made for data permanent storage.
  • The use of external hard drives; these devices come with slightly larger storage capacity than the flash drives. As the name implies, the external hard drives are devices that can be connected to your computer externally through a cable or wire. It is also prone to be stolen, missing or getting infected.
  • Online backup service is a method of data backup and storage in which a service provider handles the stored data. Back up services through cloud archiving; this is very effective in backing up data that are not necessarily needed often. It is easy to manage and your data is encrypted to ensure security.

Why you should backup your data with cloud archiving

You could lose your laptop, flash drives or external drive. In other cases, it could get infected where you have no hope of recovering information on it. It is, therefore, important to save your information on platforms where it cannot be affected by these. 

The survey held in 2018, reports that about 66% of the people say that they will use a private or public cloud for archiving in 2018.

Cloud archive is a cost-effective mode of storing your data and also time effective. It relieves you of having to buy devices each time a prior device gets filled up. Backing up your data with cloud archiving would make ensure the availability of your data anytime you need it. Cloud archiving is mostly in a public cloud. Data are encrypted to ensure the security of the data. 

Data kept on the cloud can be searched out easily, this makes it less burdensome to find your hidden files.  Chances of losing your data on the cloud archive are very entirely null as it is not stored on a particular device but on the internet storage.

Lost data could mean starting from scratch for some people, or loss of valuables for others. Either way, using the cloud archive is a way to prevent such occurrences. With cloud archiving, you are assured of getting your data anytime you need it.


Feb 4, 2019

How to Convert #Bitcoin to Dollars

Exchanging bitcoins to an useful currency.

Bitcoins seem to have been heralded by most as the currency of tomorrow, but there are only a handful of sites that agree to accept them. Luckily for us, transforming bitcoins to a workable currency like dollars is simple and plain. If you desire to be aware of just how much bitcoin is worth, run a simple net search. If you want to essentially convert bitcoin to dollars, transfer them in an internet market and sell them to an interested consumer. The online marketplace might promptly and easily convert your bitcoins to dollars and transmit them to a debit card, bank account, or digital wallet of your determination.

Selecting a Conversion Service.

1) Compare the rates made available by diverse conversion services and determine the top one.

Equally when the general bitcoin conversion rate improves, several conversion services provide you with diverse conversion rates. For example, think one service gives to convert your bitcoins at a rate of 1 to $5000 USD and one other offers to turn 1 bitcoin in to $5250 USD. All additional things getting equivalent, you should go along with the second service to acquire the most of your bitcoins.

2) Convert your bitcoin adding a service with low fees.

Conversion services often ask for a fee. Usually there is a flat fee if how highly you exchange, and often the conversion service charges a segment of the sum you exchange. Evaluate the costs associated with the numerous conversion services and choice one that offers you the ideal deal. Service fees modify over time, so make sure to verify the services terms and fee routinely.

3) Confirm that the service you're utilizing is safe.

Generally there are a handful of ways to authenticate that a bitcoin conversion web page is harmless. One is to check review sites for testimonials. One other method is to ensure the website uses https (as opposed to the less comfy http) in their URL. At last, implement a conversion service that permits two-factor identification, making certain that simply you will likely be able to confirm bitcoin conversions.

4) Choose a service that has low transfer time period.

A bit of web sites transfer bitcoins to your account just after 2 days, but quicker services may convert your bitcoins to dollars in 2 hours or even less.

Enrolling and Uploading Your Bitcoin.

1) Register for an account.

Enrolling for an account comes to providing your name, date of birth, address, email address, telephone number, and other personal data. You'll also need to provide bank account information, an online payment service like PayPal, or similarly (depending on in what way you want to convert and transfer your bitcoins).

2) Decide on the most effective security options every time you sign up.

Each time you obtain an account on a bitcoin marketplace, you'll have the probability to let two-factor authentication, which will results in you would enter a password and a randomly built code sent to your cellphone. You may also wish to let a multi-signature option, which in turn requires innumerable independent approvals in advance of producing a bitcoin conversion or withdrawal. Both of these kinds of security settings can safeguard you from theft and hackers.

3) Deposit your bitcoins in the markets.

The specific mechanism by which usually you deposit your bitcoins should differ subject to how your bitcoins are really today stored. Primarily, depositing your bitcoins is as easy as clicking deposit bitcoins, on the top of the marketplace's web site. No matter your bitcoin encryption key factor is printed out, you'll be advised to enter into it. Regardless whether your bitcoins are in a wallet (an encrypted file or code), you could be asked to upload the file. Don't be afraid to contact customer support in the event you're having problem depositing your bitcoins.

Exchange Rates.

Convert your bitcoins in the event that the exchange rate is very good. Across time frame, exchange rates climb and fall down. As a representation, one day the exchange rate may well allow you to trade 1 bitcoin for $4900. A week later, the exchange rate may perhaps provide $5150 meant for 1 bitcoin. Hold out to exchange your bitcoins right up until the according dollar worth increases. Presently there is no fixed segment or worth that specifies a helpful exchange rate. Some people may possibly experience that if the worth of a bitcoin springs up by $100, it is an OK instance to convert their currency. Some people may delay until the value they'd get springs up by 5 percent. Confirm the exchange rate constantly online or sign up intended for a service that updates you on the bitcoin-to-dollar exchange rate so you can understand when it improves.

Sell off your bitcoins in the market place.

Offer your bitcoins in the current market. Several marketplaces permit you to sell your bitcoins to another person. Individuals enable you to sell them instantly to the market place, which usually will after that resell them to interested buyers later on. In either case, the certain manner you implement to sell off your bitcoins will differ slightly according to the market place you make use of. Most of the times, you can merely click on Sell your bitcoins or some equivalent choice to get the process initiated. The bitcoins will the be turned to dollars and moved to the bank account you offered.

Save your bitcoins on a debit card.

Place your bitcoins on a debit card. A handful of marketplaces let you to load your bitcoins on to a debit card that conveniently converts them to dollars. You may be able to acquire an online digital debit card, which usually only supplies you with a string of figures you can adopt for online purchases that need to have dollars, or you can generate a basic debit card in the mail. Similarly these kind of debit cards cost money, but they present an added benefit, exclusively if you pretty much never make use of cash.

Transfer your bitcoins to another digital wallet.

Switch your bitcoins to one different online wallet. Several bitcoin conversion services make it easy for you to convert your bitcoins to dollars by switching them to PayPal, Apple Pay, or similar services. If this is the approach you want to convert your bitcoins to dollars, put your payout method to the online digital wallet you want to use. Then simply, basically sell off or transfer your bitcoins to the service of your determination by using the marketplace menus. Transforming bitcoins to dollars by transferring them to an online wallet sometimes has bigger fees and reduce limits than transferring them to your bank account. This alternative may perhaps, nonetheless, be much better intended for users who do online acquisitions repeatedly and don't wish the inconvenience of relocating their money from a bank to an online wallet.

Jan 28, 2019

How to Choose A Reliable Iphone Repair Center?

Issues like broken screens, home buttons, switches, and power buttons are very common with the iPhone. Short battery life is one of them! Over time, almost every electronic device gets deteriorated in the functionality and features. Same happens with the iPhone! And, there are only two alternatives left for any iPhone holder - one is a new purchase and another is getting it repaired by a professional. But, better option is to replace the battery of your phone rather than replacing your phone.

So, if you are thinking of the repair of your iPhone, then you must know how to find out the best iPhone repair place.

Here, let's have a comprehensive look at the process of choosing a reliable iPhone repair center or shop:

Everyone feels pride by having an iPhone! With the ultimate functionality and applications, people hardly consider staying away from their phones for even an hour. iPhone is extremely sensitive and prone to crack thus, it's required to hand it over to a trustworthy expert for repair. With the increasing demand and usage of iPhone, there is hard competition in the iPhone repair market. Nowadays, there are hundreds of shops that offer all sorts of iPhone repair services at competitive price ranges. So, everyone can fall into the trap of finding the best store for getting the phone repaired!

Accurate research and necessary homework are the two aspects that can make the process a lot easier for you. it's true that every store claims to provide the fastest and best service at reasonable prices but it's advisable that never visit a store in your region. Instead of this, refer to the online listing of different repair shops in your locality and shortlist one that offers the sort of repair which you need for your phone. Get referrals from your friends or family members who have taken the iPhone repair services earlier! Since they have experienced the services, their feedback can provide you with some most reliable names for repair.

After this, you can personally visit the shortlisted shop or place around you for the purpose of getting an idea of their prices and repair work done in the past. Not every repair center is capable to repair iPhone. Therefore, you just need to ensure that the place that you select is authorized and licensed to perform iPhone repair.

Jan 21, 2019

Protect Your Data With These Password Tips

As cyber attacks seem to become increasingly more prevalent, far-reaching and long-lasting in their damage, it's more important than ever that you and your employees do everything possible to protect your company's data. One often overlooked way to keep sensitive information safe is paying extra attention to password security.

Passwords are valued currency in the Digital Age, and using strong passwords to prevent unauthorized access is a necessity," says Stacy King, executive director of the Federal Bar Association. "The ability to transfer customer data, client files, medical records, employee files, financial records and other valuable and sensitive information has presented a new world of legal risks."

So, are you doing what you can to protect yourself and your business?

Password should be unique and interesting.

The tendency to simplify your passwords and repeat them makes them prone to attack. If you're going to have a security system, you want it to work, right? Effective passwords are sufficiently long (8 or more characters) and combine upper and lowercase letters along with numbers and symbols.

Use Lengthy Passwords

Length can exponentially increase the security of your password. A strong password should be at least eight characters, with 12 to 14 being a recommended standard. Be sure to use a mix of alphanumeric characters and symbols, along with capitalization.

Do not repeat your Password.

Do not use the same password for more than one site. If you do, when one password is stolen it can be used to compromise more than one account. Think of a system that makes sense to you, but is not easily guessed by others, to vary your passwords.

Protect your password.

If you must write down your password, don't save it electronically. If your computer is hacked, then you've just given the criminal access to all your accounts when he stumbles on your "my passwords" document. Store any written passwords in a secure location, like a safe.

Employ two-factor or multi-factor authentication.

Adding an extra step to your log-in credentials bolsters your protection. It might be a fingerprint, a pin sent to your phone, or a security question you need to answer. Stolen credentials may become useless to a thief if you have this extra layer of protection. Check your account settings and add MFA if it's available.

Avoid the Automatic Login Feature.

It might save you time and frustration, but automatic, saved login information, including passwords, may make it more likely that your company could be hacked, says Michael Bruemmer, vice president of identity protection at Experian. (So, you may want to avoid using the "remember password" feature.)

Watch what you share online.

Giving the world insight into your personal life on social media or elsewhere can make passwords and answers to security questions easier to guess. It also gives cybercriminals information to launch effective spear phishing attacks. Oversharing equals more exposure to cybercrime.

Change your password.

The thinking on the value of regular changes to passwords has evolved. You should change your password if you are going to strengthen it, but changing it too often may result in weaker passwords or repeat passwords if your creativity and patience runs short. Of course, if there's an event that suggests your password may have been compromised, by all means, change it.

Jan 15, 2019

None of my Feedburner automatic Twitter post links have been working since March!

I was in for a rude awakening today. Something I wish I would have realized sooner, but just figured it was working so I didn't bother checking on it... until today. That is that the "Socialize" feature in Feedburner no longer works!



I take that back, it still posts to Twitter just fine, but because it still uses goo.gl link shortening, the links don't work!

I noticed today when clicking on one of the links on Twitter that I was redirected to this nonsense:

Dynamic Link not found
If you are the developer of this app, ensure that your Dynamic Links domain is correctly configured and that the path component of this URL is valid.

A quick search on Google brings up this Google Developers Blog post about it:
Starting April 13, 2018, anonymous users and users who have never created short links before today will not be able to create new short links via the goo.gl console. If you are looking to create new short links, we recommend you check out popular services like Bitly and Ow.ly as an alternative. 
If you have existing goo.gl short links, you can continue to use all features of goo.gl console for a period of one year, until March 30, 2019, when we will discontinue the console. You can manage all your short links and their analytics through the goo.gl console during this period. 
After March 30, 2019, all links will continue to redirect to the intended destination. Your existing short links will not be migrated to the Firebase console, however, you will be able to export your link information from the goo.gl console.
Well, gee thanks Google. Considering that Feedburner is one of many Google's properties, one would think that they would have updated that platform to either use their new Firebase console, or to allow users to use another shortening service. Apparently that is too much to ask though.

Now I'm forced to pay money to dlvr.it to autopost my blogs to my various social media accounts. At $10 a month, it's very reasonable. I prefer free, but if I'm forced to, I suppose I can fork over the dough for something that works.

Did this happen to you too? What are you using to auto-post to social media? Let us know in the comments.

Jan 14, 2019

If You Use LastPass, You Should Change All Your Passwords

I've been getting bombarded with a lot of spoofed messages from alleged hackers lately claiming they have stolen my password by inserting a Trojan from some porn site that I had supposedly visited, and they have hacked my webcam and if I don't pay them in bitcoin they will release whatever... blah blah blah. Here you can read an example below:
Hello!

As you may have noticed, I sent you an email from your account.
This means that I have full access to your account: On moment of hack your account has password: [SOME PASSWORD]

You say: this is the old password!
Or: I will change my password at any time!

Yes! You're right!
But the fact is that when you change the password, my trojan always saves a new one!

I've been watching you for a few months now.
The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.

If you are not familiar with this, I will explain.
Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.

I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence.

Why your antivirus did not detect malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.

I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks. I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.

If you want to prevent this, transfer the amount of $523 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: “Buy Bitcoin”).

My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is: 1EGap2ZeR8pf9hfJ2KrSAQ1eYCPBcxJrqo

After receiving the payment, I will delete the video and you will never hear me again.
I give you 48 hours to pay.
I have a notice reading this letter, and the timer will work when you see this letter.

Filing a complaint somewhere does not make sense because this email cannot be tracked like my bitcoin address.
I do not make any mistakes.

If I find that you have shared this message with someone else, the video will be immediately distributed.

Best wishes!
These messages are clearly spoofed based on the header and IP information. They obviously didn't hack my email. Anyway, pretty funny right?

Krebs On Security wrote a post about a similar scam, and this is what they surmised:
It is likely that this improved sextortion attempt is at least semi-automated: My guess is that the perpetrator has created some kind of script that draws directly from the usernames and passwords from a given data breach at a popular Web site that happened more than a decade ago, and that every victim who had their password compromised as part of that breach is getting this same email at the address used to sign up at that hacked Web site.
Oh, just a site that was hacked 10 years ago? No big deal right? I disagree. I think the passwords these script kiddies are using came from a LastPass breach.



If you don't remember, back in 2015 LastPass reported a major data breach. At that time PC World reported:
The good news is it appears hackers didn’t get away with anyone’s encrypted password vaults. Still, it certainly sounds like a bad breach, but the consensus among security experts is that it could’ve been a lot worse.
I'm beginning to think that was either a lie, or LastPass didn't realize how deep their breach really was. Why do I think that? For three reasons:

  1. The number of spam emails I've received from these guys
  2. Many of them show different passwords. If it was just one or two sites that were breached I'd see a pattern of the same passwords.
  3. Many of the passwords these guys show (although not the actual passwords, but are close enough that I can tell that they have my actual password info somewhere) are randomly generated. I only use such randomly generated passwords with LastPass.
So what did I do about it? First, I reset my LastPass master password again, all of my financial account passwords, all of my social media passwords, online store account passwords, etc. I also went through LastPass's security challenge tool to update old passwords, or any passwords I had previously re-used in multiple sites inadvertently.

I had changed my LastPass credentials shortly after the breach in 2015 as directed by LastPass, but at the time believed the reports that none of the vault password information was touched. I'm starting to think that may not be accurate. If you agree with me, then it's time to change all of your passwords too.

Have you received any of these emails? What are you doing about it? Let us know in the comments!



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