Archive for September 8th, 2012

The Past, Present and Future of Cloud

Cloud collaboration is a common tool used by a variety of businesses. Many Dallas data center facilities offer this service. Cloud collaboration is the sharing of files over a server through the use of the Internet. Cloud collaboration is unique from any other file sharing system in that it allows multiple parties to work and edit the files being shared in real time. Common file sharing mechanisms such as email cannot handle the growing needs of globalized business. This essentially created a need for file sharing in real time. Dallas data center facilities offer a variation of cloud collaboration called cloud colocation.
What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is slightly more involved than cloud collaboration. It entails saving and sharing files in a storage space as well as the process of performing normal processing functions over the Internet. Cloud is an abstract word used for the Internet or a network. The stored data can be any information or software that is accessed by a client over the Internet. The Internet access has to come from a secure portal..
Cloud collaboration is an enhancement of cloud computing. It caters to modern business needs. Businesses require access to important files and information on the go. Cloud collaboration provides such a solution with data access and sharing over a network.
Cloud Collaboration and Colocation

The most common file sharing mechanism within businesses is email. That obviously has limitations. Growth-oriented businesses have become more advanced in order to keep up with globalization. Cloud collaboration was created to provide one basic service allowing file sharing, editing and collaboration.
Data centers, such as a Dallas data center facility, have started providing cloud collaboration services to clients. They also provide a good place for cloud providers to set up their operations for a variety of reasons.
A big benefit of Dallas data centers is that they are carrier neutral. This allows not only uninterrupted connection but also a choice of carriers that best suit cloud needs. By choosing the best carrier for a region, cloud providers can optimize the delivery of services and application performance to customers. Colocation centers also give cloud providers a place to back up their information, in case of data loss. Overall, colocation providers can offer cloud companies security, reliability and flexibility.
Future of Cloud Collaboration

Eventually, cloud collaboration and cloud computing will lead to a more integrated business world. With cloud computing, businesses have achieved real time collaboration of information. With the latest cloud collaboration techniques, companies are able to achieve all-purpose collaboration with a single program. Cloud-related solutions are offered at Dallas data center facilities to meet the growing demand for the service.

Guest Post by Darren Lobb

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Rock Band Weekly: Matchbox Twenty

Next week’s Rock Band DLC twists time through Matchbox Twenty’s career. The first track, “Bent,” comes from the band’s early years and off their second album. “How Far We Come” is from 2007, and “She’s So Mean” is from their latest album, North.

Xbox 360 / Wii / PS3
Available: September 11, 2012

Matchbox Twenty Pack 01 (440 MSP / 550 WP / $5.99) “Bent” (160 MSP / 200 WP / $1.99)
“How Far We’ve Come” (160 MSP / 200 WP / $1.99)*
“She’s So Mean” (160 MSP / 200 WP / $1.99)
All tracks feature keyboard support.

*Pro Guitar/Bass expansion available (80 MSP / 100 WP / $0.99)

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Paper Mario: Sticker Star sticks to the basics

The hardest thing about Paper Mario: Sticker Star is just remembering it’s an RPG. Even in his cute little 2D-in-a-3D world form, Mario’s running and jumping on enemies, an act so comfortable that you do it automatically whenever you see a Goomba or a Koopa Troopa walking by. Usually, that move results in a satisfying crunch and a coin or two, but in Sticker Star it sends you into a turn-based battle scene.

There are quite a few new mechanics in both the battle system and the game’s overworld, and fans with fond memories of the other Mario RPGs will likely relish the chance to level up the Italian plumber yet again.

Once you do into combat, Sticker Star plays out like a turn-based battle, albeit an extremely simple one. On Mario’s turn, he has the ability to use one of the consumable stickers you collect throughout the rest of the game on the 3DS’ bottom screen, and then you can see him put that effect into action on top. A boot sticker, for example, has him jumping on heads, while a Fire Flower sticker will throw a fireball when selected.

Each sticker also has a quality rating, from the plain matte stickers that will pile up in your inventory to more rare foil and golden stickers, with stronger effects and more value. The timing system from previous Mario RPGs is back too: you can hit A at exactly the right time while attacking to ring up extra damage, or at exactly the right time when being attacked to block incoming damage. It’s simple to pull off, and surprisingly effective. It seems a bit too easy to be so powerful, at least at the beginning of the game.

Outside of battle, Mario’s stickers work in an adventure game style. He can pull them off the wall and collect them as currency or in combat, or he can turn in-game objects into stickers (or vice versa) to solve puzzles that open up new areas to explore. One example shown during the PAX demo was of a windmill, which has its door blocked by one of the sails. Mario is able to move through by finding a giant electric fan, converting it into a sticker and then sticking it in the right place.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star is getting stuck to shelves on November 11. Just do your best to remember that jumping on that Goomba means you’re getting a battle, not points.

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Google doodle to celebrate Star Trek’s anniversary

Google, on Saturday, displayed an attractive and innovative doodle to mark the 46th anniversary of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series’.

Star Trek is an American science fiction TV series and holds the distinction of being one of the earliest science-fiction TV series depicting the 23rd century.

The plot of this science-fiction series revolves around the adventures of the starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and its crew.

The series was endorsed by different production firms and National Broadcasting Company ( NBC) aired it from September 8, 1966 – June 3, 1969.

Because of its intriguing episodes and plot Star Trek was nominated for Emmy awards.

So, to commemorate the 46th anniversary of Star Trek, Google has dedicated an animated doodle. Each letter of the Google logo is featured as a character from the science fiction series.

The letter ‘G’ in the logo depicts the character Spock, one of the most celebrated characters of the series. The first and second ‘O’ of the logo are symbolised by characters Nyota Uhura and Captain James T Kirk respectively. And the letter ‘L’ represents Hikaru Sulu.

The 46th anniversary Star Trek doodle opens in the bridge of the Starship Enterprise that allows users to click on the letters ‘O’ and ‘E’. Moreover, the clickable red door serves as the passage to the transporter room from where the characters are transported to a strange and unknown planet.

On that planet the characters are challenged by an unfriendly and odd looking creature that they easily defeat by shooting with a weapon. After defeating, the letter ‘E’ returns to the starship.

The series of events in this doodle has been made even more intriguing with addition of the show’s theme tune in the background.

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Insiders suspected in Saudi Arabia cyber attack

One or more insiders with high-level access are suspected of assisting the hackers who damaged some 30,000 computers at Saudi Arabia’s national oil company last month, sources familiar with the company’s investigation say.

The attack using a computer virus known as Shamoon against Saudi Aramco – the world’s biggest oil company – is one of the most destructive cyber strikes conducted against a single business.

Shamoon spread through the company’s network and wiped computers’ hard drives clean. Saudi Aramco says damage was limited to office computers and did not affect systems software that might hurt technical operations.

The hackers’ apparent access to a mole, willing to take personal risk to help, is an extraordinary development in a country where open dissent is banned.

“It was someone who had inside knowledge and inside privileges within the company,” said a source familiar with the ongoing forensic examination.

Hackers from a group called “The Cutting Sword of Justice” claimed responsibility for the attack. They say the computer virus gave them access to documents from Aramco’s computers, and have threatened to release secrets. N o documents have so far been published.

Reports of similar attacks on other oil and gas firms in the Middle East, including in neighbouring Qatar, suggest there may be similar activity elsewhere in the region, although the attacks have not been linked.

Saudi Aramco declined to comment. “Saudi Aramco doesn’t comment on rumours and conjectures amidst an ongoing probe,” it said.

The hacking group that claimed responsibility for the attack described its motives as political.

In a posting on an online bulletin board the day the files were wiped, the group said Saudi Aramco was the main source of income for the Saudi government, which it blamed for “crimes and atrocities” in several countries, including Syria and Bahrain.

The Saudi interior ministry did not respond to requests for comment. The foreign ministry was not available for comment.

Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain last year to back the Gulf state’s rulers, fellow Sunni Muslims, against Shi’ite-led protesters. Riyadh is also sympathetic to mainly Sunni rebels in Syria.

Saudi Arabia’s economy is heavily dependent on oil. Oil export revenues have accounted for 80-90 percent of total Saudi revenues and above 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to U.S. data.

DESTRUCTIVE Saudi Aramco, which supplies about a tenth of the world’s oil, has hired at least six firms with expertise in hacking attacks, bringing in dozens of outside experts to investigate the attack and repair computers, the sources say.

According to analysis of Shamoon by computer security firm Symantec, the way the virus gets into networks may vary, but once inside it tries to infect every computer in the local area network before erasing files to render PCs useless.

“We don’t normally see threats that are so destructive,” Liam O Murchu, who helped lead Symantec’s research into the virus, said. “It’s probably been 10 years since we saw something so destructive.”

The state-run oil company – whose 260 billion barrels of crude oil alone would value it at over 8 trillion dollars, or 14 times the market value of Apple Inc. – was well protected against break-in attempts over the Internet, according to people familiar with its network operations.

Yet those sources say such protections could not prevent an attack by an insider with high-level access.

It is unusual for insiders to be fingered in cyber attacks. Verizon Business, which publishes the most comprehensive annual survey of data breaches, said that insiders were implicated in just 4 percent of cases last year.

The hackers behind the Shamoon attack siphoned off data from a relatively small number of computers, delivering it to a remote server, the sources said. They later threatened to release that information.

Because the virus wiped the hard drives, it is difficult for Saudi Aramco to determine exactly what information the hackers obtained.

An email address and password, which the poster claimed belonged to Aramco CEO Khalid Al-Falih, was posted on a website often used by hackers to show off their achievements, this time signed by the “Angry Internet Lovers”. No sensitive Aramco files have been uploaded on that site.

Sources who spoke to Reuters said they were not aware whether the hackers had made specific demands, what they might have been or whether they were met.

The sources would not say whether the suspected mole or moles are Saudi Aramco employees or outside contractors, or whether they accessed a workstation inside Saudi Aramco’s offices or accessed the network remotely.

The Saudi interior ministry was unavailable to comment on whether anyone has been arrested as part of the investigation.

VIRUS TARGETS PCS The Shamoon virus is designed to attack ordinary business computers. It does not belong to the category of sophisticated cyber warfare tools – like the Stuxnet virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear programme in 2010 – which target industrial control systems and can paralyse critical infrastructure.

“Based on initial reporting and analysis of the malware, no evidence exists that Shamoon specifically targets industrial control systems components or U.S. government agencies,” the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in an Aug. 29 advisory.

Saudi Aramco has said that only office PCs running Microsoft Windows were damaged. Its oil exploration, production, export, sales and database systems all remained intact as they ran on isolated and heavily protected systems.

“All our core operations continued smoothly,” CEO Khalid Al-Falih told Saudi government and business officials at a security workshop on Wednesday.

“Not a single drop of oil was lost. No critical service or business transaction was directly impacted by the virus.”

It is standard industry practice to shield plant operating networks from hackers by running them on separate operating systems that are protected from the Internet.

Qatar’s natural gas firm Rasgas was also hit by a cyber attack last week, although it has not said how much damage was caused or whether Shamoon was the virus involved. Qatar, also a Sunni Gulf kingdom, has similar foes to Saudi Arabia.

Its parent firm Qatar Petroleum, which also owns Qatar’s other main natural gas firm Qatargas, said it was unaffected but implied that other companies had been hit.

“Qatar Petroleum has not been affected by the computer virus that hit several oil and gas firms. All QP operations are continuing as normal,” it said in an official tweet on Monday.

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