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Using Duo MFA to Harden Security

Single factor authentication to business systems is no longer enough to protect company data access. We live in a world of ever evolving threats and data breaches that can leave your private data exposed to hackers. Duo MFA is the simple, secure answer.

A Password is Not Enough

A password as a form of identity verification has always been a poor tool for the job. Any person, or bot, can use a known password to gain access to a system not meant for them to access. With massive data breaches becoming the norm, there is a better chance than ever that an old password is know by bad actors. It all comes down to trust. A password is essentially anonymous. While complex passwords and regularly changing them is still important, you can add another line of defense in case a password has been compromised.

Duo MFA Adds Another Layer

Duo is a widely used multi factor authentication solution trusted by smart organizations that take security seriously. Everyone with an online bank account has had to verify their identity with an emailed or texted code at one point or another. Ever wondered why you have to do this for your bank and not for your work systems? Think about what an attacker would have access to if they were to access your work computer under your login. They would instantly have access to your files, saved web passwords, and if services are set to trust your computer, they have access to them as well. Traditionally, corporate networks have been behind the times when it comes to authentication.

Duo MFA provides an affordable solution to the problem of 2 factor compliance. Their authentication software can be automatically installed  on all company computers with ease. Once installed, users can be setup automatically, and enroll with Duo quickly. Then, they can pick push authentication on their smartphone, text, email, or even a phone call to verify they are who they say they are. These options can be set by the organization depending on need.

Pay as You Go

Organizations can purchase licenses directly from MCS and will be billed as little as $3 / user / month. There are no contracts either. Check with your insurance carrier for possible discounts offered by using Duo MFA. MCS has the experience to deploy Duo on your systems so only authorized employees can access your data.

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Network Monitoring

5 Reasons Organizations of any size need Network Monitoring

Today, many organizations face the tedious challenge of 24/7 availability and productivity. Undoubtedly, technology is rapidly changing with the evolution of business IT requirements, and the cybersecurity threats to your organization’s data have the potential to disarm your operation. However, Network monitoring solutions play a crucial part in organizations because they rely on their internal network to be productive.

Generally, there are various serious threats to your business, including Network failures and irregularities, server downtime, and service or application crashes. These threats can cost thousands of dollars in revenue and productivity. Network monitoring solutions are important because they deliver better services and reduce costs. In this article, we will discuss the various reasons to choose network monitoring solutions. The following information is quite beneficial whether you are a CEO, executive, IT manager, or IT Administrator.

What is Network Monitoring?

It is crucial to know that Network monitoring plays a significant role in any size of an organization. The network is a significant factor for any modern corporation, and if it slows down, its failure is quite costly. Usually, Network monitoring is a system to view the health of an organization, including devices, traffic, and servers. It can help to identify potential problems and prevent any network issues. In simple words, Network monitoring systems are just tools that can help administrators monitor their networks more effectively. MCS uses and recommends Nagios XI for most customers but there are many solutions.

Do you want to know why your organization requires Network Monitoring? Let’s take a deep look at 5 different reasons to choose Network monitoring for your organization.

1. Key insights of organization infrastructure

Network monitoring allows you to keep historic reports about how your internal infrastructure has performed. Generally, historic data analysis can be very beneficial to determine whether your current system landscape can meet business requirements or if you need to invest in new technology. For instance, a network administrator is trying to convince their management that it is crucial to upgrade the current infrastructure because it’s not sufficient to meet the current organization’s requirements. In that case, a historic report is made to evaluate the overall past few months’ performances with the most reliable predictions for the future.

2. Fix issues and identify security threats

If you’re in a situation dealing with a configuration error or an abnormal traffic fluctuation, network monitoring software can help you to get to the bottom of your issues. Network monitoring tools can provide excellent security to your organization. The obvious benefit you can commonly get is a high-level performance for your organization. You can spot any unusual threats including a spike in traffic levels or a harmful device that’s connected to your network. So, Network monitoring can figure out when and on what device an event occurred. Then, you will be able to take a proactive approach to solve any network security issue.

3. Increased Return on Investment (ROI)

Monitoring IT infrastructure is considerably helpful for many organizations financially because it is cost-savings. However, it can also increase the return on investment. Primarily, you must have an IT budget for your organization to spend on software and network infrastructure, IT labor, maintenance costs, and hardware costs. Unfortunately, the outdated network system can harm the return on investment. In that case, if you consider efficient Network monitoring for your organization, it provides the flexibility and scalability to grow your business, and you can easily save most of your IT expenses every month with far better improvements. No doubt, Network Monitoring plays a crucial part in cost saving and return on investment.

4. Prevention from Cyber Attacks

Network monitoring is significant for fighting against cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals are more advanced these days. Knowing the difference between a cyber-attack and normal-behavior, your team can react proactively. Recently, network monitoring prevented the Anthem medical data breach in 2015 by noticing user behavior. These attackers submitted database queries to obtain PII records, a costly type of cyber-attack. The database contained up to 80 million customer records in this attack.

5. Optimized performance, Minimized risk, and Maintained Compliance

Network monitoring systems provide optimize a network’s performance, solve attacking problems, and prevent you from developing problems by identifying slowdowns and collecting performance data. One of the apparent benefits of a network monitoring system is its potential to identify malicious network behavior. Undoubtedly, Network monitoring systems can track network security threats ranging from unauthorized downloads to password changes and flag any abnormal behavior. Further, it ensures that breaches can be identified and mitigated immediately. Most of the compliance with regulatory entities like HIPAA, ISO 27001, and PCI DSS is significant for many organizations. These regulations need network monitoring for best practices and security measures.

Future of Network Monitoring

With the advancement of technology, many devices have become network-based. This obviously increases the stress on network teams. On top of that, IoT devices have changed the way organizations think about networks. However, there is needed to improve the organization’s infrastructure because multiple DDoS attacks have been seen due to unsafe IoT devices.
No doubt, IoT changes our way of our thinking about networks. Monitoring networks is becoming more challenging with that addition of so may different types of devices.  Monitoring solutions certainly will allow you to discover future problems with your network and provide efficient and reliable services to your users.

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3-in-1 Nagios XI License

Your Nagios XI License is Actually 3-in-1

As a Nagios featured reseller for North America we have helped organizations large and small procure Nagios XI licenses. The thing about license agreements and usage is that they can be tricky to understand. While the core components of the Enterprise ready Nagios XI are open source, the parts that make XI beautiful to use, and easy to manage are not open source. You can run as many Open Source Nagios Core servers monitoring as many nodes as you desire for free. If you want want support, a more polished UI, and Enterprise grade features it makes sense to use the Nagios XI version made for business.

Costs

Buying an Enterprise grade monitoring solution does come with a cost. Depending on the edition and number of nodes (or hosts) being monitored, Nagios XI list price scales to fit the needs of any organization. List price runs anywhere from $1,295 to over $20k for an Unlimited Enterprise edition. We know that for an IT department and management to know the health of their network and services at a glace is well worth the cost. But did you know that when you make a purchase of a Nagios XI license it includes 3 servers in 1?

3 Instances in 1 License

Once you own your license, Nagios allows 3 instances to be installed in your organization. An instance is just a server or VM running a full copy of XI. Here are the 3 allowed uses:

  1. Production – This is your main license that you use day to day and rely on.
  2. Test – Used for testing / lab only. It is recommended that you run this instance to test software upgrades, try new plugins, and proof of concept any new additions or changes before you use them on your production XI.
  3. DR – This instance can possibly be setup in a redundant data center and can monitor everything that production does. Just make sure you are not using it to monitor new nodes that are not covered by your production instance. That would require another license.

Just use your license key on each of the 3 instances. If you have activation problems, make sure you are only using 3 instances and if so, contact Nagios and they will make sure you are activated.

We’ll help you find the right Nagios product at the right price.  Contact MCS to get a quote.

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Nagios Chicago Meetup

Join our Nagios Meetup Group for Chicago

MCS has started the official Nagios Community Meetup Group for the Chicago region. This is the official Nagios Meetup Chicago group part of a network Nagios Community Meetup Groups worldwide. We will hold events and have discussions about Nagios and monitoring in general.

Nagios Meetup Chicago

Chicago, IL
18 Members

This is a new group we created because there are so many Nagios users in Chicago and surrounding areas. It’s always great to hear the unique use-cases people have with Nagios….

Next Meetup

How to monitor virtually anything / Beyond the server room

Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020, 5:00 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Virtual Nagios Meetup Chicago Through the End of 2020

Originally, these meetup events were meant to be held in person but obviously, that is no longer possible to do safely. We hope to hold live Nagios meetup events in late 2021. For now, our venue will be Zoom and they will be free to attend. Our goal is to hold casual presentations to bring together Nagios users of all backgrounds. Everyone from a home lab to an enterprise will be able to get useful information and insights.

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office-365

Office 365 Available Directly Through MCS

Cloud services are more important than ever and represent a critical segment in the marketplace. In the past MCS was not able to directly turn up services for Office 365 for our customers. We would recommend a plan, then customers would create their own account and pay Microsoft directly for services. Now, new and existing Microsoft Office 365 users can let MCS manage, support, and bill their services directly. The cost is the same but billing is handled through MCS.

Switching Office 365 to MCS is Easy

If you are an existing customer using Office 365 directly with Microsoft, MCS can take over servicing and billing on your account in a simple, zero-downtime change. We will take care of everything. Your data will continue to reside on the Microsoft 365 cloud infrastructure and switching can usually complete same-day.

Why Using MCS for Office 365 is a Great Idea

MCS has always been customer focused. If you have an issue with billing or service, you can get through to a rep at MCS right away. If you already have an account with us, having your cloud services billed through us just makes sense. Also, we know our clients well and can recommend a more cost effective plan or trim away unneeded services.

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covid-19

Working Remotely to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

The novel Coronavirus COVID-19 has been on all of our minds in the recent weeks. Our first priority during this time is the health of our employees and customers. At MCS we have the luxury of being able to work remotely for most of our projects. Through the aid of VPNs, VoIP, and other collaboration tools, most employees can complete their work from home if needed.

Working Remotely is Offered to ALL MCS Employees

Our employees have all been given the option to work from home if they desire for the next several weeks regardless of whether they feel ill or not. This is a precaution due to our currently limited knowledge of exactly how the COVID-19 virus is transmitted. If an MCS employee feels ill or has a fever of 100°F or more they are required to stay home until 48 hours after they are symptom free.

For our office locations in Springfield and Chicago, access is now limited to employees only. This means no visitors including customers, family, and friends. This will remain in effect until further notice.

For our IT service department, we are strongly encouraging our customers and system engineers to avoid on site service calls if at all possible. We appreciate the understanding of our customers during this time. Luckily, MCS offers remote support that, in most cases, will completely resolve the majority of issues presented. If an on site service call is required please only request this service if absolutely necessary.

COVID-19 Outlook

We believe that through smart precautions, we can protect the health of our employees and customers while still providing reliable service.The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has excellent information specific to the COVID-19 outbreak. To decrease contact through the mail we encourage customers to signup for E-Bill for invoice delivery as well. The future is never set in stone but as long as we all make healthy and cautions choices, we can make a difference in the spread of this new threat. Remember:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet)
  • Avoid large groups
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Clean and disinfect touched surfaces daily
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Chicago Board of Trade Clock

MCS Chicago Moves to the Chicago Board of Trade Building

Our Chicago office relocated to the the historic Chicago Board of Trade building. After a couple of years of adding staff we now have a more permanent home in Chicago in this renovated building in the heart of downtown Chicago. This location is ideal for staff and visitors from Chicago or the surrounding suburbs via train. Our building has excellent bus, “L” train, and Metra access. Our new amenities include 6 power feeds, access to several fiber Internet providers, on site UPS, FedEx, and USPS package services, fitness center, and state of the art conference center. In the conference center MCS can host meetings of more than 50 attendees.

Our staff can take a break at the Rooftop Deck & Game Room boasting 4,000+ square feet of indoor and outdoor space with sweeping views of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago. We look forward to working from our new branch to recruit exciting new talent, grow our offerings, and better serve our customers in Chicago and beyond.

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Nagios Website Check

Nagios XI Free,Guide for the Windows Sysadmin

Getting Started with Nagios XI Free is Extremely Easy!

Please Note: This guide is intended for testing and evaluation only.

At MCS, we strongly feel that Nagios XI is the best IT monitoring software available and has been for quite a long time. XI is the more polished, easy to use product over the community Nagios Core software. We have seen some resistance from enterprises that are mostly Microsoft Windows shops. There is no Windows version of Nagios XI available so sysadmins have to use Linux. For some, this may seem daunting. Getting started with Nagios XI Free is actually one of the simplest Linux tasks out there. Starting from nothing, you can start monitoring in only a few steps. This guide is for the Linux and Nagios newbie so we will cover everything.

Nagios XI used to only be supported on RHEL and CentOS but is now fully supported on Oracle Linux, Debian, and Ubuntu. Right now, we like CentOS 7 Minimal as it is stable, completely open source, and tried and true for running Nagios XI.

Starting Out

  1. Download CentOS 7 Minimal (no GUI needed)
  2. Install CentOS 7. Since I am talking about Microsoft shops in this article, I will use Hyper-V. Use a Gen1 VM any don’t use dynamic memory. If you are using VMware you can get the OS+Nagios XI ready to go in an OVA. We have even run Nagios XI stably on AWS on a t2.micro instance with a few dozen checks running.
  3. Nagios has been optimized very well over the years. You only need 1 CPU, 1GB RAM, and 8GB Storage. Of course, the more resources you assign the better!
  4. After install, login as root.
  5. Now this is the really slick part. As long as your new CentOS 7 Server has internet access, you only need to run a single command to download and fully install Nagios XI.
curl https://assets.nagios.com/downloads/nagiosxi/install.sh | sh

The amazing engineers from Nagios keep this install.sh script up to date for you. Using this command will always get you the latest stable release of Nagios XI fresh from the factory! Grab a cup of coffee and watch a beautiful waterfall of text scroll down your screen.

Take note of the URL to access Nagios XI:

Nagios XI Installation Complete! 
You can access the Nagios XI web interface by visiting: http://<server_address>/nagiosxi

Once the install script is done, you now have a Nagios XI server of your very own. Just for best practices, you should now update your OS and software. Type:

yum update -y

Several items will update and you should reboot in case one of those updates was for the kernel.

reboot
In a browser, visit http://<server_address>/nagiosxi

If you missed the server address you can always run:

ip addr show

Now, set your nagiosadmin password and login via the web. By default, you will be using a 60 day trial of the Unlimited Enterprise Edition. If you plan to purchase Nagios, MCS can get you a key to extend your trial a little longer. If you want to use Nagios XI free, you don’t need any license at all. Just go to Admin > License Information and select free mode. This will let you monitor up to 7 different hosts with unlimited services.

Adding Hosts to Monitor

Nagios XI will monitor itself (localhost) by default. Adding common checks is easy though. Let’s say we want to keep an eye on our website.

  • Go to Configure > Configuration Wizards
  • Search for Website
  • Enter your url
  • Optionally customize your settings for your checks

In about one minute you are monitoring several critical metrics for a website. It is about as easy to monitor Windows Servers, Linux, networking gear, and just about anything with an IP address. It can actually be really fun and rewarding to finally get a real-time view into what is working and what is not.

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