Unitek Education Instructor Wins Cisco Excellence Award

Congratulations to Unitek Education instructor David Morgan for winning the 2016 Cisco “Routing and Switching” Instruction Excellence Award! This award recognizes outstanding instructors who go above and beyond to create an effective and impactful educational program; tapping into their own technical expertise to develop a high quality training experience. And it’s not the first time that Morgan has won.

Morgan, an instructor with Unitek Education for the past eight years, is known for his CCNA / CCNP “boot camps”, a fast track program where students can qualify as a Cisco Certified Network Associate or Cisco Certified Network Professional in just a short amount of time.

“Our students are able to receive the full breadth of training and achieve certification in five days where other training venues could take months,” explains Morgan, who stressed the importance of the CCNA / CCNP certification when searching for a career in IT. “It is industry standard to hire individuals with Cisco Certification at the CCNA/CCNP level.”

But where some see a prestigious award as an excuse to relax, Morgan is interested only in his next crop of students.

This isn’t the first time I have received this award,” Morgan said, “but I was curious as to how this could be used to boost Unitek Education’s training reputation.” He went on to explain how “passing on knowledge to bright and ambitious students” remains his favorite part of teaching, and that his proudest moments aren’t when he receives an award, but when he’s able to watch his students succeed both professionally and personally.

He also included some love for his fellow instructors.

“Unitek Education boasts the finest instructors in the industry,” he said, adding that the program also “conducts training on the cutting edge of technology.”

Cisco Certified Network Professional Routing and Switching certification demonstrates an IT professional’s adeptness at planning, building, and troubleshooting local and wide-area networks. It also involves elements of wireless, voice, network security, and video solutions. The Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switch certification covers much of the same ground, focusing primarily on smaller or medium-sized networks. Both are considered among the most valuable IT certifications available today.

If you’re interested in learning more about Unitek Education’s IT program, CCNA / CCNP boot camps, or studying under instructors such as David Morgan, contact us here.

Protect Yourself Against Online Extortion and Blackmail


In today’s highly interconnected world, dangers of extortion, blackmail, and various scams affect absolutely everyone. Just recently, we have seen a steep rise in a class of Trojans called ransomware. This malicious software often poses as a regular email attachment, which seems to be sent by a reputable company. However, when downloaded, this file quickly encrypts user’s computer with a very strong encryption algorithm. The only way to regain access to data is to pay the operators a relatively large sum of money (often around 500 USD).

The above example is just a small part of a much larger problem. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center 2014 Internet Crime Report, more than $16 million dollars were extorted from victims that year. This number is comprised of many different types of blackmail and extortion with an increasingly larger portion involving the threat of releasing personal information and damaging one’s reputation. Identity Theft Resource Center states that such criminal acts have happened 591 times just in the first nine months of this year.

Extortion and blackmail are often used interchangeably, but they refer to slightly different ways of getting money from victims. Extortion involves a threat of violence or damage to property. It is not necessary for the perpetrators to actually obtain the money to commit the offense. On the other hand, blackmail happens when offender threatens to reveal information about a victim. Such information can usually cause substantial social damage and embarrassment for the victim. In return for keeping quiet, the blackmailer demands money, property, or services.

Modern social media networking sites pose a convenient attack vector for attackers and are thus often exploited for profit. What commonly happens is that a person of opposite sex befriends somebody online and establishes a friendship with that person. Their interaction seems very believable and often includes personal pictures, voice messages, and what seems to be a genuine interest in the other person. All of this just to gain the trust of the victim in order to ultimately obtain something that can be used as a leverage for their treats. Attackers often manage to lure their victims into exposing themselves on camera, without knowing that they are actually being recorded and are talking only to a decoy. When this happens, there is only a little that victims can do to protect their privacy. Tracking down the perpetrators is often impossible and paying the demanded amount of money does not guarantee that there will not be more threats in the future. In fact, once scammers find out that the victim is willing to pay, they often try to get as much money from the person as they can.

This leads us to the question: How can victims protect themselves against blackmail and extortion and how should they act when it actually happens? The most important thing is, of course, prevention. Never say or do things online that you might regret in the future. Always assume that everything you do on the web and in front of your web camera could get into the hands of criminals. There have been many cases of celebrities having their smartphones and computers hacked and private pictures published online. Regular citizens are not immune to such crimes. Modern operating systems are capable of data encryption, which prevents random strangers from being able to gain access to data stored on the device. It is always advisable to use every tool that you have at your disposal to increase your chances of staying safe and protected. However, fully relying on these tools is not a good idea as they cannot guarantee complete safety.

Victims of online blackmail or extortion should always contact authorities and use their expertise to decide on the best course of action. The situation often seems much worse than it really is and hasty solutions are the worst enemy of reaching a favorable outcome.

The risks described above are only a handful of vulnerabilities that individuals and businesses face online. One of the easiest ways to ensure individuals are adequately competent in cyber security is to get certified. Unitek Education’s 3 day CompTIA Security Plus boot camp is the perfect course for high level employees that require a solid foundation in cyber security. The Security Plus boot camp is Unitek Education’s most popular entry level security course and is part of the DOD IAT Level 1 on the 8570 certification chart. This course is frequented by members of the Armed forces, Department of Defense and IT Professionals. Learn more.


11 Crazy Sci-Fi Inventions that Really Exist

Robotaxis, hover boards, dog translators

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but it could never compete with science fiction, right? Well, an infographic on the British website wish.co.uk begs to refute that assumption. It identifies 11 sci-fi creations that have actually come to pass in our non-fiction world.

For example, Star Trek fans know the Starfleet Tricorder as one of the crew’s most indispensable tools, used to record and analyze inputs in a range of scenarios, including medical ones. Fantastical, right? Well, General Electric has developed a device it calls the GE VScan that performs a similar function. It is a handheld device that works like an ultrasound, enabling medical professionals to measure and analyze internal organs without invasive surgery.

What do Arnold Schwarzenegger and residents of Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates have in common? Both are familiar with the coolness of traveling in a personal automated robotaxi — the former in the movie Total Recall, the latter as a feature of living in a planned city. The vehicles have been operational since 2010.

The movie Back to the Future featured a hover board, which could zip around in any direction without touching the ground. French scientists have created the Mag Surf, which uses superconductor magnetic levitation to glide a few inches above a magnetic track. The device was developed to promote research in urban transportation.

Superhuman powers come standard in many sci-fi and fantasy worlds, but scientists at Raytheon expect to bring some of that enhanced capability to U.S. soldiers within the next year or two. Its XO2 Suit is an exoskeleton that features hi-pressure hydraulics that increase a soldier’s agility, strength, and endurance.

The ability to communicate with aliens is another venerable technology in the canon of science fiction — and one that has its analog in today’s world: Voxtec has created the Phraselator P2 for the military (which seems to get all the cool stuff), which can translate more than 100,000 English phrases into 70 different languages. And if that were not impressive enough, there is the Bowlingual translator, which analyzes the acoustics of your dog’s bark and tells you what it’s saying.

See other strange but true inventions at wish.co.uk.


49ers Use Beacons to Help Fans Find Beer

Positioning system points to other uses

It’s crunch time: you’ve got precious minutes before the game resumes to find the closest restroom and premium beer stand. How do you avoid making a wrong turn and wasting time on the hunt?

Visitors to Levi Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, can now install a nifty app developed by enterprise wi-fi provider Aruba Networks that enables a range of location-based services such as locating concessions, restrooms, and seats.

Jay Donovan reports on TechCrunch that Aruba Network’s system, one of the largest indoor installations ever, points to a future where indoor positioning services are as common as GPS navigation. He notes Aruba’s intention to enable location-aware push messages in order to create a “richer experence” for users (or at least for the technology and content providers).

The beacons — small, battery-powered Bluetooth devices — are deployed all over the stadium. They communicate with an array of Aruba Wi-Fi nodes, which can cover a greater area. The Wi-Fi nodes then relay the beacon data back to a software controller that works for the entire stadium. A user with the app installed on their smartphone can communicate with the beacons to determine their location — and find out where things are.

Retailers are excited about the technology, Donovan writes, because it offers the ability to push messaging specific to each beacon’s individual location — and represents a potential game-changer for the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, which has suffered from the rise of online shopping.


Much to Like, Dislike in Windows 10

New OS blends elements of 7 and 8

“We’re not building an incremental product,” said Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, referring to Microsoft’s decision to skip the number 9 entirely for its latest operating system, Windows 10. But is the new OS the great leap forward the company claims it to be?

Writing in ComputerWorld, Woody Leonhard puts the question this way: “Is Windows 10 as goofy as its predecessor?” — or has Microsoft “righted enough of Win8’s wrongs to make it a worthwhile PC upgrade?”

Windows 10 does not officially launch until the middle of next year, so some features may evolve further, but the bones of the new OS are in place, and Leonhard highlights 13 hits and misses.

The Start menu — absent in Win8 — is back, somewhat modified but familiar enough. It shares the stage with the Metro tiles from Win8, which, if so desired, can be unpinned from the page by right-clicking. Leonhard gives Microsoft credit for “righting the ship” after its controversial decision to forsake the Start menu in Win8.

Leonhard is less enthused about the way Windows 10 handles pinning apps (programs) to Start, because it adds the programs as Metro tiles — which Leonhard dislikes. Users can drag programs from the Start menu’s most-recently-used list to the leftside Start menu … not an intuitive solution.

Leonhard also dislikes the fact that searching your computer in Windows 10 sends the same search string to Microsoft, which returns the results from Bing, “to, uh, enhance your shopping experience,” Leonhard surmises.

As in Windows 8, libraries are hard to find in Windows 10. And File Explorer has not improved since Win8, as it opens in an area it calls “Home” which, in the reviewer’s opinion, adds another layer to click through to get where you want to go.

Leonhard cheers the fact that gadgets are back — as Metro tiles. They might be a little ungainly, he says, but they can be put on the desktop, and they “run rings around Win7 gadgets.”

Read more about Windows 10 hits and misses at computerworld.com:


How the Cloud Failed Jennifer Lawrence

The lessons to be learned from security breach

Celebrities including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and model Kate Upton learned the hard way this week that privacy is an illusion in today’s hyper-connected world. A hacker allegedly broke into the Apple iCloud backups of as many as 100 celebrities and downloaded a bevy of nude photos. The images were posted to the “b” forum of 4chan.org, an anonymous imageboard (called by some the “Dark Side of the Internet”).

According to Sean Gallagher on arstechnica.com, initial reports suggested that the breach was made possible by a vulnerability in Apple’s Find My iPhone application programming interface. But Apple has since claimed that it was a “very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions … None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone.”

Regardless of how the breach was achieved, the incident underscores the risks inherent in cloud services — and how comfortably ignorant the general public has become about where its “private” content lives, and how easily it can escape into the wild.

“Does anybody really know what’s sitting in Apple’s or Google’s data stores from their phones?” Gallagher wonders, noting how much content Apple and other devices automatically upload to the cloud, including full phone backups. “Ongoing threats like carefully-crafted phishing attacks and large-volume password cracking … make it especially hard to protect mobile data in a world where everything on your phone is already on the Internet, protected only by your login credentials,” he writes.

Ultimately, Gallagher notes, “if it’s in the cloud … then chances are good that eventually it will find its way to the Internet.” Tal Klein, vice president of strategy for the cloud security firm Adallom, confirmed this in a Twitter conversation with Gallagher, stating: “Don’t take pictures of your junk; it will end up on the Internet somehow at some point.”


Government Pushes for ‘Internet of Cars’

Eyes life-saving potential of vehicle-to-vehicle networks

The government believes that public safety could be much improved if communication between cars were more sophisticated than current protocols, which primarily feature the middle finger. To that end, reports Stephen Lawson on itworld.com, it is currently seeking input from industry and the public about a possible federal standard for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology that would let cars automatically exchange information such as proximity and rate of speed.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx described V2V technology as nothing less than “the next great advance in saving lives.”

In August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a research report on V2V that estimated that just two possible applications of V2V — Left Turn Assist and Intersection Movement Assist — could prevent as many as 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives per year.

Left Turn Assist would warn drivers not to turn left into the path of an oncoming car, and Intersection Movement Assist would warn drivers not to enter an intersection when there’s a high probability of crashing into other vehicles.

Neither system would necessarily take control of a car, although the evolutionary trend toward a self-driving car seems clear.

V2V would run over wireless networks using the IEEE 802.11p specification, a variant of the standard used for Wi-Fi, on a band of spectrum between 5.85GHz and 5.925GHz. The NHTSA insists that V2V would have layers of security and privacy technology to protect users and wouldn’t collect or share personal information about drivers.

But there are those, like network security blogger Martin McKeay, who can easily image the V2V system “being used to track individuals every movement in a way that makes Orwell’s 1984 look Utopian.” He also raises some interesting concerns about swarm behavior and the unintended consequences of imbuing machines with the ability to coordinate with one another, however primitively. It is the stuff of science fiction movies … and yet it might be just a government RFP away …



Security Nightmares Featured at Black Hat

Conference sessions showcase risks

Many of the sessions at Black Hat USA 2014, a security conference taking place this August, could give nightmares to those concerned with network security or personal privacy. On networkworld.com, Tim Greene highlights 10 of the more disturbing topics that will be explored at the Las Vegas event. These include:

Using Google Glass to snatch passwords

Researchers have created an application that videos victims tapping passwords into touchscreens and analyzes it to steal passwords, reportedly with 90% accuracy from three meters away. The app is not specific to Google Glass, but the wearable device is perfectly suited to surreptitious video recording.

Data theft through virtual desktop infrastructure

In theory, a virtual desktop infrastructure makes BYOD programs safe by centralizing applications and data and limiting end users to presentations of that data. But engineers from Lacoon Mobile Security will demonstrate how to steal data through screen scraping without being detected by malware detection measures.

Stealing data from POS devices

Target was just one of many companies that were victimized by point-of-sale breaches last year. It’s a threat that is not easy to solve, according to Nir Valtman of NCR Retail, who will review both successful and unsuccessful efforts to reduce the risk of memory scraping.

USB stick malware

That innocent little thumb drive could be an evil agent bent on destruction, according to Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell of SRLabs. The controller chips inside USB sticks can be compromised, enabling malware to take over host machines, steal data, and spy on users. Nohl and Lell’s presentation will include a demo showing a system fully compromised with an undetectable self-replicating virus.

Read more at networkworld.com:

Top 10 Questions about Windows 8

Many still wonder where Start menu went

Microsoft’s latest operating system, with its radically different look and feel, has sparked lots of questions, according to PC World’s Lincoln Spector. In a June 27 article, Spector lists the top 10 questions his publication has fielded, beginning with, “What’s the difference between Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and the Windows 8.1 Update?”

The short answer to that question is that Windows 8.1 Update is by far the easiest and friendliest version of Windows 8 yet. If you see a magnifying glass in the upper right corner after clicking to the Start screen, you’re running the update.

But speaking of the Start screen, many have wondered what happened to the Start menu? While the Start screen offers much of the same functionality as the Start menu, Spector speaks for many when he complains that, “you don’t want to be thrown into a bad imitation iPad just to launch a program.” He recommends installing a third-party Start menu.

Other questions that have popped up repeatedly include:

3. What’s that screen with all the little tiles?

The Apps screen has been a startling discovery for many seasoned Windows users. Spector describes it as the equivalent of the Windows 7 Start menu’s All Programs submenu, or Android’s All Apps screen.

4. How do I do some of the simple tasks that should be obvious to anyone?

The devil is in the details, and while Windows 8 introduces some major conceptual shifts, many users have struggled with more mundane challenges like doing a right-click in a touch interface (hold your finger down until a square appears around the object, then release to display a menu), and searching (just start typing on the home page to trigger the Search Charm).

5. What’s happened to Windows Explorer?

Spector is a fan of the new File Explorer, which improves upon Windows Explorer in several ways, beginning with the name — which actually describes what the program does. He likes the Office-like tabbed ribbons and the way it’s easy to configure.

Read the rest of the article at pcworld.com:

Hyper-V Server 2012 R2: 9 New and Updated Features

Microsoft has significantly improved their virtualization platform Hyper-V Server 2012 R2. There are lots of new and improved features compared with previous versions. Now the Hyper-V hypervisor is more robust and reliable for enterprise. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 supports the concept of a totally new architecture based on modern hardware with no emulated devices. This makes it possible to add a number of new features, such as secure boot for VMs and booting off of virtual SCSI or virtual network adapters. I will highlight a few exciting features of the latest version of Hyper-V which comes with Windows Server 2012 R2 as well as of course the standalone version Hyper-V Server 2012 R2.

At a glance, Microsoft has introduced and improved the following Hyper-V features which I have gathered from Microsoft Technet:

Hyper-V New and Updated Features and Functionalities

Hyper-V Replication Extension to Off-Site

You can configure extended replication with Hyper-V Server 2012 R2. In extended replication, your Replica server forwards information about changes that occur on the primary virtual machines to a third server (the extended Replica server). Hyper-V Server 2012 is currently limited to a single replication target. This makes it difficult to support scenarios like a service provider wanting to act both as a target for a customer to replicate and a source to replicate to another offsite facility.

Live Migration with Compression for Faster Migration

Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 improved the performance of live migrations by enabling compression of the data to reduce the total number of bytes transmitted over the wire. Tapping CPU resources for data compression could potentially impact other operations, so you’ll need to take that into consideration. The second option, SMB Direct, requires network adapters that support RDMA. Microsoft’s advice: If you have 10 GB available, use RDMA (10x improvement); otherwise, use compression (2x improvement). Compression is the default choice and it works for the large majority of use cases.

Dynamic Memory Support for Linux

Microsoft has improved a lot to support for Linux VMs. Now with Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V gains the ability to dynamically expand the amount of memory available to a running VM. This capability is especially handy for any Linux workload (notably Web servers) where the amount of memory needed by the VM changes over time. In environments with many Linux VMs, dynamic memory becomes even more critical to efficiently manage the total memory used by all running VMs. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 also brings Windows Server backups to Linux guests.

Virtual Machine Direct Connect

Connecting to a running VM over RDP requires an active network connection, which you can’t always count on. In addition to an active network connection, the VM must have an IP address reachable by the system attempting to connect, a requirement with potential management and security issues depending on the environment in which you’re running. All this changes in Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 with the addition of VM Direct Connect. This feature allows a direct remote desktop connection to any running VM over what’s now called the VM bus. It’s also integrated into the Hyper-V management experience.

Live VHDX Resizing

In earlier versions of Hyper-V, it was not possible to resize a virtual hard disk attached to a running VM. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 makes it possible to not only expand, but even reduce the size of the virtual disk (VHDX format only) without stopping the running VM. But you cannot compress an online VHD. Using System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2, Hyper-V Manager, or the command line using PowerShell, you can make all of these adjustments.

Storage Quality of Service (QoS)

Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 includes the ability to limit individual VMs to a specific level of I/O throughput. Initially with Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, the only number that really makes a difference is the maximum limit. The IOPS are measured by monitoring the actual disk rate to and from the attached virtual hard drives. If you have applications capable of consuming large amounts of I/O, you’ll want to consider this setting to ensure that a single I/O-hungry VM won’t starve neighbor VMs or take down the entire host

Shared VHDX

With Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, Windows guest clusters (think traditional Windows Server failover clustering but using a pair of VMs) no longer require an iSCSI or Fibre Channel SAN, but can be configured using commodity storage: namely a shared VHDX file stored on a Cluster Shared Volume. Note that while the clustered VMs can be live migrated as per usual, a live storage migration of the VHDX file requires one of the cluster nodes to be taken offline.

Live Virtual Machine Exporting and Cloning

With Hyper-V Server 2012, you need to stop a running VM before you can export or clone it. It’s simply not an option in production. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 removes this restriction. It’s now possible to export or clone a running VM from System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2.

Hyper-V Replication Frequency Cycle

Hyper-V Replica in Windows Server 2012 provides a fixed replication interval of 5 minutes. That being said, you can’t replicate any faster, even if you have the hardware or infrastructure to support it. Also you cannot replicate any slower, even if you don’t need such frequent copies.  Now Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 supports more frequent (every 30 seconds) and not so frequent (every 15 minutes) replication. This will even support an intermittent connection.

Unitek Education Instructor Abu Z.Author Spotlight: Unitek Education Instructor Abu Z.
Abu Z, a computer science graduate, has been in the technology industry for more than eight years, with six years’ experience as a Microsoft Certified Trainer. Abu spent much of his technology training career in the United Kingdom with different Microsoft CPLS partners. Abu’s Microsoft certifications include: MCSE, MCSA, MCP, MCTS, and MCITP. He takes pride in preparing IT professionals to succeed.

Unitek Education LogoUpdate Your Hyper-V Skills to Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2 

Unitek Education’s Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center is a five-day instructor-led course that teaches you to consolidate workloads, improve server utilization, and reduce costs using Hyper-V. This Microsoft Official Course helps you become a virtualization expert and prepares you for the 74-409: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V Specialist Exam.