CategoryConferences

IP EXPO 2013

I recently attended IP EXPO 2013, the UK’s leading enterprise IT event. Held at Earls Court 2 Exhibition Centre in London, IP EXPO is an annual two-day event featuring keynote speakers such as Kevin Mitnick. I only went on the Wednesday though.

I found the event to be an interesting mix of content. Surrounding the trade show floor, there were a number of ‘theatres’ covering different areas of IT such as datacentres, virtualisation, network security etc.

Trade Show:

Microsoft brought along a ‘Replicator 2’ 3D printer which they linked up to a Kinect. They were using the Kinect (and a swivel chair!) to generate a 3D image of the upper body, then sending the file to the printer to be printed.

IP EXPO 2013 London 3D printer

I thought the ‘Twitter wall’ was a cool feature.

IP EXPO 2013 London twitter wall

Keynotes/Seminars:

A few of the keynotes/seminars I attended included:

Kevin Mitnick’s keynote

The ‘must-see’ keynote of the day, I only just managed to get a seat. It ended up being standing room only!
IP EXPO 2013 London kevin mitnick keynote
We were first shown a short ‘Italian Job’-style film/presentation which covered Kevin’s main achievements.

Kevin believes he can “hack into any network”.

His interest in hacking into things started at the age of 17 when he pulled pranks. McDonald’s drive through etc.

“Started ‘fishing’ in the 70’s”

He had a natural fascination for telephone systems and would regularly hack into friends’ home phones, once even turning a landline into a payphone!

When he was in prison, he would play pranks on the operator

Whilst some people get addicted to other things, “my addiction was hacking.”

Having experienced being on the wrong side of the law, Kevin now runs his own security consultancy company – Mitnick Security Consulting, which offers network penetration testing and other security services.

But rather than just talking about what he used to do and what he does now, Kevin gave us various live demonstrations! Using a MacBook and laptop, he setup typical scenarios. For example, when an innocent-looking Word doc (which when scanned by any anti-virus software would show as being clean) is opened, the victim’s password hash is sent to the attackers computer. This can then be used to find out the cleartext password.IP EXPO 2013 London kevin mitnick keynote

Afterwards, Kevin gave out his unique business cards (which have lock-pick tools) and signed badges/books.

Kevin Mitnick metal business card IP EXPO 2013 London

 

“An Anatomy of a Hack and Client-Side Exploitation”

This seminar was by Ian Reynolds, from MTI Technology Ltd.

Ian started off speaking about how big corporations such as Sony and Google have suffered security breaches.

Zeus Trojan
For those of you unfamiliar with the Zeus Trojan, here are a few key facts as discussed by Ian:

  • Allows an attacker to gain control of the machine.
  • Can be used on botnet, which can then be used for denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
  • Can be used to siphon off details (such as credit card details, usernames and passwords etc.)
  • Unlike many other pieces of malware, Zeus is professionally written, and comes with user manual, technical support etc.

If the attacker is hacking for financial gain, he/she can then sell the credit card details (10 credit card numbers can be sold for around $15).

Client-side exploitation
Malware called ‘droppers’, malicious URL’s. Exploits something in the web browser.

Vulnrabilities:
Facebook worm, publishing malware on facebook account
Java being updated often can cause issues. Java-based exploits are on the rise.
Zeus virus (as mentioned before)
‘Hash dump’
Web portals with back-end exploit server

Social engineering

Creating similar domain (ciscousersupport.com for example), then sending spam emails acting as Cisco.

Attackers will often pose as a job-seekers and will send in a CV. Once they get a reply, they copy the signature and use it to look as if they are from the genuine company.
Another trick used is namedropping individuals, and finding out important details. LinkedIn will often be used for this purpose, often targeting Systems Administrators, IT Managers etc.

Two types:

  • ‘Spearfishing’, which targets a specific individual within an organisation.
  • Bulk spam emails, which target immense amounts of people

 

 

How to prevent client-side exploits:

  • Employee security training
  • Keep 3rd party products updated
  • Use a threat management appliance (many available)
  • Malicious email detection (cloud-based)
  • Firewall rules
  • Minimal rights to users
  • Secondary accounts for administrators

 

Dell
Steve Atkinson, Dell

PowerEdge VRTX
One of the key advantages of the VRTX is that it potentially doesn’t need to be situated in a datacentre.

Thin client device, connects to HDMI device

Steve also mentioned PocketCloud, which is
Access devices from anywhere
Don’t have to carry around laptop
Expanding capabilities
One-off payment of £10 for professional version. Quick setup.

 

“Smarter Wi-Fi for Smarter Indoor Location Based Services”

This seminar was by Bryan Hall, European Sales Director at Ruckus.

Bryan began by speaking about the origins of the company and the USP’s of their devices.

Multiple directional antennas 4,000 unique directions
By focussing the energy, this results in better coverage and signal.

Current location-based tracking systems include:

  • RFID
  • Wi-Fi Based
  • Mobile Device Based
  • Outdoor GPS
  • Active Tags

Mobile based GSM is getting more popular.
Wi-Fi is becoming a great way to track devices, but how?

“We are not ‘Location Intelligent'”

Ruckus devices can generate ‘heatmap’ style diagrams which show areas which are seeing the most traffic. With permission of the people being monitored, it can even pinpoint individual employees, customers etc with permission and give their x,y,z location.20131016_144530
I thought the interface looked a bit like ‘Google Analytics for footfall’.

Possible uses of the system could be:

  • Shops can give loyalty offers to return customers
  • Allowing shops to quantify return (ROI)
  • Owners of shopping centres/malls would be able to see which shops in malls are busiest, and maybe alter rent rates accordingly.
  • Schools could use systems such as this in emergency situations to see if there still people inside, and if so which room they are in.

One of the key issues surrounding location-based services is privacy, so this was covered explaining what organisations need to do if they wish to use these types of services.20131016_145217

 

Looking back, I really wish I’d organised to go for both days (Wednesday & Thursday)!

IP EXPO 2013 London earls court 2

IP EXPO will be moving to ExCeL London next year, and will be an even bigger event with the addition of Data Centre Expo and Enterprise Security Expo. I’m looking forward to it already!

Bloggade 2013 – The Day in Pictures

Bloggade 2013 was an event held at Timico’s Newark datacentre aimed at bloggers (primarily those who use WordPress, but also other platforms such as Blogger and Tumblr).

My main event blog has over 1600 words, so is probably a bit too long for many to read.

If you’re more interested in seeing pictures of the event, you’re in luck! Here are a few of the best bits below:

Bloggade 2013 Timico newark

Showing the inside of a WebHostingBuzz HP server Bloggade 2013 Timico

Michael showing the group the inside of a HP server

Timico's Network Operations Centre

Timico’s Network Operations Centre where the status of the datacentre is monitored

Bloggade 2013 Timico newarkMore photos to come!

Bloggade 2013 – Event Blog

Bloggade 2013 Live Event Blog

This is my event blog for Bloggade 2013 that took place yesterday (Wednesday 21st August). I’ll also be tweeting throughout the afternoon from my Twitter account @AdamOwenIT. You can also follow the conversation on the #bloggade hashtag.
A Kred leader board can be found here: http://bloggade.kred.com

Thanks again to Trefor Davies (@tref), Matt Russell (@mattdrussell), Andrew Grill (@AndrewGrill) and Neville Hobson (@jangles) for organising the event.

The afternoon started with roundtable introductions. Attendees at the event included a man who runs an eating challenge blog (a blog version of “Man vs. Food”), and a schoolteacher looking for ways to integrate blogging into the classroom environment.

 

Speaking about infrastructure
Michael began by talking about the options to consider when looking for blog hosting and the aspects to consider such as network connectivity (Timico has 2 x 10Gb/s redundant uplinks) and speed.

Whilst faster RPM hard drives (such as 15k RPM) offer faster access times, they are more expensive. So many larger companies will have regularly accessed information stored on fast drives, with less frequently requested files transferred to servers with slower and cheaper drives.

Michael from Timico then gave us a tour of one of WebHostingBuzz’s HP servers, demonstrating how redundancy is built-in to the server hardware to ensure minimal downtime in the event of a component failing. Here are a few pics:

DSC06024DSC05988

 

The panel discussion then began – with  Michael from Timico, Matt from WebHostingBuzz along with Phil from Spiral Media on the panel.

 

Organic traffic

The conversation turned to ways in which you can generate organic traffic to your blog. Some of the top tips included:

  • “Great content”
  • Abide by search engine guidelines (can be found online)
  • WordPress is very search engine friendly as standard
  • Use SEO Yoast which tells you how optimised the webpage is, and helps you improve SEO
  • Make sure the content is relevant to keywords you are targeting
  • Make sure META tags are correctly done and header is completed
  • Ensure your website loads fast
  • Plenty of unique content (you can be given a penalty for posting duplicate content)
  • Search engines want to see unique and original content
  • If someone has content similar to yours, change it
  • Then work on “building the brand”

Copyscape.com was recommended for checking if your website has been plagiarised elsewhere on the Internet.

“Google doesn’t want websites to be stagnant”

There’s no harm going back to old content and updating it.

But what about other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo?
“If you do well in Google, you’ll do well in Bing and Yahoo” Phil

What plugins are important and how many should I use?

The Lincolnite used to use around 45 plugins, but now uses less which increases page load time as a result.

“Update WordPress, update the plugins” Matt mentioned the security aspect of plugins and why you should make sure you update them on a regular basis to ensure there are no security flaws.

“5 is a good number” Matt

“You can’t do much with 5” Andrew

From what was being discussed, it sounded like it was a “balancing act” between having enough plugins to provide extra functionality, but not too many that your WordPress site begins to slow down.

Akismet can give “false positives”

One of the problems mentioned about plugins is that they can create ‘ugly’ URL’s.

If you get a 404 page, Google will be unhappy and possibly stop searching for that page.

So to keep Google ‘happy’ as such, make sure your sitemap is kept updated. SEO Yoast can help with sitemaps and automatically updates them too.

Google Webmaster

Google Webmaster is free, and let’s you have some control over how Google is scanning and listing your websites.

“Everyone should be using Google Webmaster” Phil

“Google’s way of talking to you” Matt

‘Page insights’ feature shows you how your website looks on various desktop and mobile browsers.

Google Analytics

Clicky.com is a million times better than Google Analytics” Andrew
Andrew gave us a tour of his Clicky account, and showed us how you can ‘spy’ on visitors of your website, and view in-depth information that you can’t see with Google Analytics alone.

Content authors can look at where traffic is heading to adjust their content in future for maximum hits.

Turning back to the topic of WordPress plugins, Tref then showed us the back-end of trefor.net and spoke about the plugins he uses.
Phil then compared Tref’s robots file (http://trefor.net/robots.txt) file to Lincolnshire.org’s robots file (http://www.lincolnshire.org/robots.txt).

SEO

“I’m not a techy” “SEO can be a dark art” Neville

Authentic content is key to ranking well in search engines.

Many see blogging as simply a marketing channel, but this just isn’t true.

Andrew mentioned how linking Google+ to your WordPress can improve your search ranking on Google.
Andrew’s Google listings are a great example of how social sites can boost your publicity online as when you search for “Andrew Grill” in Google, the first page is filled with his blog and also a number of Social accounts such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you’re running a blog, say who the author is, so Google can see you’re a real person and to build trust.

Laser Red mentioned that all of their bloggers have branded avatars so people can see that the person works for Laser Red.

A view shared by many at Bloggade was that Google+ not created simply to be a rival to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but rather a way for Google to identify real people when

SEO Yoast can help with Google+ integration.

Lincolnshire.org
Matt started building the site to promote Lincolnshire. While Philippines bass good English, the site hit a peak bounce rate was huge 90% Phil came on board to help terror the site page by page.
Bounce rate is important. Low bounce rate generally shows good content.
“45% or lower is a Google bounce rate.”
“If it’s a blog, I’d like to see it a lot lower than 45%.”

“I don’t have a strategy.” Tref
“Does it matter?” Neville

“It really depends on what you want to gain from having a blog as to if you need a strategy.”

 

Andrew spoke about how he uses his blog to generate speaker requests for events –

“The more times I get asked to speak at a conference, it proves the worth of my blog”

“Does he have a blog? Is he relevant? Does he know what he’s talking about?”

“My brand is online”

 

Top tips:

  • Install SEO Yoast
  • Use meta tags such as meta description, (although this is mainly for click-through conversion), and make sure there is enough content on page (SEO Yoast shows how readable the content actually is)
  • Google picks up on tags, so make sure they are filled out properly and correctly
  • Phil spoke about making sure tags are clean
  • Ensure you have a good HTML to text ratio

“Tags or categories?”

“As a blogger, I’d use both”

Examples of blog posts that have lots of traffic:
Tref’s son election campaign tagging rival candidates and ranking first in Google for rival candidates.

“Every page I look at, I treat it as a human” Phil

SEO Moz – Tell’s you any technical issues which as a blogger you can edit and fix.

Dipti Bhatia from KCom asked “should I use WordPress.com for hosting, or should I host it myself with my own hosting?”

The majority of people in the room said that the best option is host WordPress on your own server with your own hosting package/domain. It doesn’t take long either – within half an hour you can have a brand new site ready to blog on.

Personally, I think websites ending in  .wordpress.com look rather unprofessional.

Matt has a blog post about how to install and setup WordPress in just 5 minutes.

Ben Luong mentioned how he runs his own eating challenges website (http://www.eatingchallenges.co.uk) which ranks first in Google for ‘eating challenges london’.
I would have liked to have heard more about this, but we had to move on.

 

“How can a blog work for you?”

Andrew kicked off the discussion talking about his experience with EE (Everything, Everywhere), and how he wrote an a blog post about EE’s poor service. This post went ‘viral’ and senior management at EE got involved. After a couple of months of discussions, Andrew helped launch the ‘EE Advocate Program’, and he was given a free iPad. Perks of having a blog, eh!!
If you search for ‘EE Fail’ on Google, his post is one of the first you see.

Tref’s son spoke about how he setup a Tumblr blog with photos of people with long necks!

If you suffer from unwanted cold calls, a tip which was mentioned is to write a short blog post about each one with the number which then generates organic traffic from people searching for a number. This way, you’re actually benefiting in a way from the cold/missed call as you’ll generate traffic to your blog.

Tref spoke about how a blog post has fixed a problem he had with BT Openreach.
He got a call from his wife one day when he was in London saying that the Internet wasn’t working. After getting home, he found that the VDSL modem had ‘died’ and was no longer working.
Has to be engineer installs by BT Openreach

Although off-topic a bit, Ian Ransom mentioned how he gets better broadband in rural Tattershall than he does in Milton Keynes, and how many ISP’s simply read from a ‘script’ when you call their customer service with a problem.

Offline writing
Windows Live Writer is based on Word.

(BREAK)

Where to buy WordPress themes?

– ThemeForest

Themes and editing them

– Use Thesis or Genesis to create a child theme which you can work on

 

Andrew created a page of bookmarks which can be found here.

We then went on to a local pub for food and drink – kindly provided by Tref/Timico.

It is hoped that further ‘bloggade style’ events will take place every 6 months or so.

Bloggade 2013

Being held at Timico’s Newark datacentre on Wednesday 21st August, Bloggade 2013 will be a gathering of bloggers sharing tips and tricks from the world of WordPress and blogging in general.

It is being organised by Trefor (Timico), Matt Russell (WebHostingBuzz), Neville Hobson (For Immediate Release) and Andrew Grill (Kred).

The event will be mainly focused around the new WordPress 3.6 release but there will also be a datacentre tour showing the server hardware that works behind the scenes to support 1000’s of WordPress sites. Timico will kindly be providing light refreshments at a pub afterwards.

I’m hoping to be live-blogging the event on the day too, so watch this space!

For more information and to register, see http://bloggade2013.eventbrite.co.uk/. Tickets are free, but registration is required as there are a limited number of tickets.

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