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Spideroak "Leveraging Cloud Storage and Security"


In a time were everyone is facing the consequences for decisions made in the past, one company is trying to do it right from the beginning. Enter Spideroak a robust cloud storage solution with many advanced capabilities not seen in most of its competitors. Think of Spideroak as the cloud storage service with an enterprise class features set. It's on the pricey side but still gives you more bang for your buck when it comes to cloud storage space compared to other services. With Spideroak's cross platform software offerings, you can add an unlimited number of devices to sync with, including external and network drives, at no additional cost and you only pay as you need more space. I will admit that with its enterprise class feature set Spideroak could be challenging for the novice user to start. However, once you get the hang of it, this service can really help you stay organized with its unique file syncing and sharing methods.

The default features include:

  • Backup, Sync, Share, Access & Storage
  • Multi Platform Support – Mac, Windows, Linux Compatible
  • 100% Zero-knowledge Privacy
  • Add any number of computers at NO additional cost
  • Storage & time saving De-Duplication
  • Perpetual Deleted File & Historical Version Storage
  • 10-15 Times Faster than traditional backup solutions
  • Wholly Fault-Tolerant Design


Security is first and foremost with SpiderOak. All data is encrypted locally (which is the why it seems like the upload speed is slow) on your computer before being uploaded up to the SpiderOak servers. This means that not even SpiderOak can gain access to your files or look at the file names. The “zero knowledge” policy with SpiderOak makes it very important that you do not lose or forget your password. SpiderOak cannot reset your password for you since it is used on your computer to encrypt the data before being sent to SpiderOak. The only thing Spideroak knows about your data is how many encrypted data blocks it uses.


Remember security is number one at Spideroak and as part of the new account setup process, most companies ask users to agree to some "end user licensing agreement", but instead SpiderOak asks users to agree to a "password policy." The password policy basically says that you alone are responsible for remembering your password, and that we cannot help you if you forget the password. They do allow you to create a "password hint" to help you remember your password, however that is as far as they go.

Once you sign in with your username and password, the Spideroak manager will launch. First you must choose the categories and folders that you want to backup. Like most of the other services, the initial backup took a bit of time. You can check the status of your backup by clicking the "status" tab. This tab shows you your backup, syncs and shares. You may also select the frequency of backups and syncs in this tab.



If you want to sync, then click on new button in the Sync tab. You will be able to choose folders you have backed up to sync to other computers, and you can also choose which computers will get which folders for syncing. This may confuse users who are used to services like Dropbox but we find it very powerful as we can now fully customize what we want to sync and where. If you wish to exclude certain files, you can use wildcards to filter out filenames containing specific extensions or texts.


SpiderOak not only lets you share individual files, but it lets you set up a ShareRoom, in which contacts can access photos, movies, and other files, as long as they have the ShareID and the RoomKey. I created a room by entering an ID, and got a “sending to server” message, followed by “ShareID registered successfully.” After this, I needed to create a ShareRoom, with a title, key, and description. Then I could select folders for sharing, and after a confirmation of what I’d entered, I hit the Start Share button.
The share appeared with a yellow dot indicating it was pending, which later turned green to show it was active.
Keep in mind that it doesn't back up everything on the system, I had to chose which folders I wanted to back up. After this, anyone I wanted could go to the SpiderOak website, click on, “Share Login,” log in using the ShareID and RoomKey to browse the shared folders and download any files in the folders included. Clicking on filenames brought up a small image that didn’t really do anything, but the download button worked fine, and I could even download full folders in ZIP format.

Mobile App

Spideroak also has a mobile app for iPhones/iPads and Androids that's totally free to download. Here you can access your files on the go and backup your phone. It was very finicky on the iPhone, exiting out and making us re-enter the username and password. Re-entering our information wasn't too big of a deal though, considering Spideroak's love for security features.

A nice feature of the mobile app is the ability to access your Spideroak
share rooms. With share rooms, Spideroak takes yet another unique approach to a popular cloud storage feature. Instead of just using email to send a file sharing link, Spideroak actually creates a webpage called a share room. This page even has its own custom link composed of a password of your choosing. Once a share room is created, you can keep adding files to it. This is a great way to share projects with someone, especially because they will be notified via RSS feed every time you make a change to the share room. You can either email the link to someone or they can access it on the Spideroak homepage using the share id and room key.



Similar to DropBox, SpiderOak gives you a free 2 GB of backup space to play with. For heavier users you can buy 100 GB increments for $10 a month each. That means 300 GB will cost you $30/month. There is also a referral system in place that will allow you to increase your free 2 GB allotment by recommending the service to others.

Spideroak is geared more toward advanced users of cloud storage and online backups because at first glance Spideroak's plethora of options can seem confusing to the cloud novice. The standout feature has to be the ability to sync multiple operating systems. It is something that I’m sure will come in handy for freelancers everywhere, and the fact that you can sync folders between multiple computers can be a sysadmin's dream come true. After using it for a time Spideroak is easy to use and very comprehensive. Its unique syncing and sharing features separate it from the pack, and if used properly, can really help you stay organized. If you're not sure if Spideroak is for you, try their 2 GB of space absolutely free. If you are convinced Spideroak is for you click the banner at the top of the page to get started.


Kerio Control 8!


Kerio just recently released Control 8 their UTM Firewall Product and the first thing you notice after the upgrade is the tweaked login interface and then the dashboard after logging in. The newly designed web interface stacks the major sections which makes it much easer to see all the options on the page you are viewing. The upgrade process for this product was painless as always. Outside of the interface upgrade I have included a few other notables below:

Kerio Delivers IPsec
According to Kerio the
#1 requested feature in Control is IPsec the industry standard protocol for VPN that allows interoperability between different external devices and the network gateway.

Kerio Control 8 includes IPsec VPN with support for the current iOS and Android mobile clients. It also supports standards-based VPN server-to-server configuration with several leading UTM vendors. Even better, Kerio Control’s traffic policy configurations, protocol inspection, anti-virus and QoS settings can be applied to the IPsec VPN tunnels.

Kerio Control 8 Upgrade
With this release also comes the move from a Windows installation to either a hardware or software appliance. The software appliance edition packages the Kerio Control Unified Threat Management software with its own hardened operating system into a single bare-metal installable ISO image. This allows IT VARs and admins to customize their own hardware, simply install the software appliance image. The Kerio Control Software Appliance eliminates the complexity and potential vulnerability of a 3rd party host OS, with an admin interface you know.

Kerio will continue to support Control 7.4 with Windows, however it does not support IPsec and there will be no further feature releases.


Synology DiskStation is the Best NAS Solution For Home and Business!

Synology DS1512 +

Synology’s DS1512+ has been the best hardware purchase of 2012 for Mavin Info Tech Consulting. I highly rate this as a must-have product when navigating the jungle of NAS products in the wild. The DS1512+ model represents the mid-range of Synology’s small and medium business product offerings and has impressed me so much that one year later I have decided to let the secret out, not to mention our company has joined Synology’s Premier Partner program. We have installed a few of these with our clients over the past year and we feel that this product and model has given us the best price, performance, and versatility. With that we have decided to put Synology’s competitors: Data Robotics(Slow Throughput), Promise (Thunderbolt interfaces still limited, and still only 2.0 USB), and Netgear (4TB Drives not fully supported), on notice and saying that Synology is the best NAS/high performance storage devices on the market. Here we take a look at 2 of the main reasons why.

The Design
Design excellence is the standard at Synology and it’s not surprising because over the years it has become the trademark of the manufacturer. In the front, we have the standard minimalist design with a very simplistic LED light pattern layout, these LEDs are "just right" one for each disk, one for each network interface and one for power. Also, it’s worth noting that Synology has made some progress in the design of its hard drive drawers that slide more easily in their slots and have become more durable.

The rear of the DS1512 + is stellar as well, Synology also did a good job with the layout here. However, we regret to report that only two of the four USB ports are USB 3.0 the others are USB 2.0. Two Gigabit Ethernet ports and one eSATA connector complete the rear input/output choices. Another point that is worth noting: the fans in this model are beastly and the two 92mm fans provide relatively quiet cooling.



The Interface is called DSM(Disk Station Manager) now in version 4.2 is robust enough to handle various task while being powered by a 2.1 Ghz Intel Atom 2700 and one gig of ram that is upgradable to two. The DSM interface is highly organized with various apps that range from helping you to manage your own cloud services to helping you manage your organizations virtualization needs. The implementation of the NAS is easy to setup when using Synology’s tools. Once all the possibilities are grasped it may take some time to digest how to use all the available functions efficiently.

The functions include being compatible with the vast majority of both audio and video formats, and this model in particular is excellent at broadcasting multimedia content. The Diskstation also has such protocols as SFTP, HTTP, BitTorrent, eDonkey, AFP, SMB, Webdav, Caldav, and NFS so that cross-platform functionality is not a problem. The Diskstation can also serve a Print server, iTunes server, mail server, web server, DHCP server, TFTP Sever, and can join existing Active Directory server configurations to maintaining a simplified and centralized management. Another notable feature is the management of IP cameras that can be used for surveillance(this feature does have extra cost for licenses). Prices start in the mid to high $700’s for diskless devices but you can buy in packages that include the hard drives as well.

Our opinion
In our opinion there is no real competition for the DS1512+ and it takes the crown of best NAS drives for SMEs. The high performance applications and versatile features of the Synology product make it a great value(even in $700 range). The interface is top notch and feels a lot like a virtual machine/OS. Few competitors can offer this many options with the same level of performance and price. As always, the only obstacle could be the price of the beast, but in this class the versatility in my opinion makes it worth it.

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OS Tip of The Week:" Basics of Reading CLI Linux File Permissions"

Basics of Reading CLI Linux file permissions
When you first start out using the linux command line interface, reading the command line permissions can be intimidating because of the lack of a GUI (Graphical User Interface). So I decided to write about it and help someone else who may have be having difficulty overcoming this challenge. Below we examine the first 3 components of understanding linux command line file permissions: 1) Ownership 2) Permissions 3) Reading Permissions

Every file is associated with exactly one user and one group. Modifying users or groups is not possible without ownership permissions. The typical output of the "ls" command with the option "-l", which produces a long listing, clearly displays the user ("user") and the group ("group"):

User: the username of the person who owns the file; by default the user who creates the file will become its owner.
Group: the usergroup that owns the file; all users who belong in the group that owns the file will have the same access permissions to the file. This is useful if, for example, you have a project that requires a bunch of different users to be able to access certain files, while others can't. In that case, you'll add all the users into the same group, make sure the required files are owned by that group, and set the file's group permissions accordingly.
Other Users: a user who isn't the owner of the file and doesn't belong in the same group the file does. In other words, if you set a permission for the "other" category, it will affect everyone else by default. For this reason, people often talk about setting the "world" permission bit when they mean setting the permissions for "other."
Permissions state which rights to a file the user (who is determined through ownership), the group, or others have.

Read Permission: (Displayed with a r--) On a regular file, the read permission bit means the file can be opened and read. On a directory, the read permission means you can list the contents of the directory.
Write Permission: (Displayed with a -rw) On a regular file, this means you can modify the file, aka write new data to the file. In the case of a directory, the write permission means you can add, remove, and rename files in the directory. This means that if a file has the write permission bit, you are allowed to modify the file's contents, but you're allowed to rename or delete the file only if the permissions of the file's directory allow you to do so.
Execute Permission: (Displayed with a --x) In the case of a regular file, this means you can execute the file as a program or a shell script. On a directory, the execute permission (also called the "search bit") allows you to access files in the directory and enter it with the cd command for example. However, note that although the execute bit lets you enter the directory, you're not allowed to list its contents, unless you also have the read permissions to that directory.
Viewing/Reading Permissions
Inputing the ls -l command while in the terminal and working in the directory which contains the file or folder. It should display the contents of your directory and the permissions in the command line. It should look similar to this: -rwxrwxrwx 1 owner:group
So let’s analyze this further. Permissions are broken up in to 4 sections.
In this case the
-“ at the beginning means that that we are dealing with a file. If you were to see a d” in that position it would mean that we are dealing with a directory/folder and if you see a “l” it indicates a link .
In my opinion from this point on it’s easy. Try looking at the output
-rwxrwxrwx 1 owner:group in sections - [rwx] [rwx] [rwx] 1 owner:group
The first set of three characters belong to the owner of the file.
The second set of three characters belong to the group.
The third set of three characters determines what all users’ permissions are.

The last three variables determine how many hard links the file has, who the owner is by username, and which group has permissions to do what.

Next month with linux we will look at modifying permissions.


Big Brother Knows Who you Are


A peculiar thing happened to me today, let me paint the picture…
I was making a purchase online using my Paypal/Bill Me Later account
and the purchase got declined. (Okay I pay my bills so I know that the
account is good!) The purchase was critical for a client meeting on Monday
so I called Paypal/Bill Me later to get the issue resolved. I explained the
situation to the young lady on the phone and she stated that she would have
to transfer me to the security department. Okay this is normal so I agreed,
I was going to do whatever I needed to do to get this taken care of; not long after
that a gentleman comes on the line and basically states that I had a brain fart
and put in a wrong piece of information. In order to get them to release
this transaction I was going to have to answer three multiple choice questions
about myself. So I’m sitting there trying to remember what questions I typed
in when I created the account and this is where the strange part began.
He started asking questions that made me look back at the https link
in my browser to check if i was being socially engineered! See below:

1. How much did you pay for your house you currently live in?
Some of my closest friends don’t even know this!

2. What street address did you live at while you were in college?
I was like man I don’t even remember that!!!!!

3. What is the age range of your wife
(I know she wouldn’t like this), and he even stated her name?!?!
This is when I was like man don’t ask me nothing about my woman! I felt like I was pwned!!!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen these questions on an account setup questionnaire EVER.
As I hung up the phone I was thinking, the powers that be really do know EVERYTHING about
you and most of all they know where to come if you don’t pay back their money.