Network Critical - The Window to your Network

Global Security, Local Education - Data Connectors, Vancouver, July 2016

This is a quick one to let our readers know that Network Critical will be attending the Data Connectors Conference in Vancouver next month. The event will take place at Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver, and will be held on Thursday July 14th.

Data Connectors conferences are one of the premier technology security events, focused on the latest products and best practices available in an educational environment. You will find local product sources & seminars and have the opportunity to meet with representatives from many of the top security organizations.

The Network Critical team will be demonstrating our TAP and Packet Broker technology and their ability to simplify the connection of security and performance tools to networks. While Network Critical is a global developer of network access technologies, we believe that these local events are important and valuable venues to meet with network engineers and designers.

So, if you are in Vancouver on the conference date, please feel free to contact us at and arrange an appointment!

If you are interested in finding out more information on this or other Data Connectors events, their website details are as follows:

Posted: 30/06/2016 13:13:31 by Network Critical with 0 comments

Quantum Communications - The Un-hackable Network?

China has announced that they will launch the first quantum communications satellite in July. This project will establish completely secure communications between the earth and the satellite eliminating the potential for eavesdropping or hacking into the channel. How can this be done?

First, here is a little background. In standard communications networks, private data communication techniques depend on the exchange of a “key” to encrypt and decrypt information. If a hacker is listening in to the transmission, the key might be able to be learned, thus defeating the encryption.

In a quantum communications network, the user sends a pulse of photons that create the cryptographic key. If eavesdropping is attempted, the quantum state of the key is physically altered alerting the users to the breach. This technology is called Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) and harnesses the sub-atomic properties of protons to “remove this weakest link of the current system,” according to Gregoire Ribordy, co-founder and chief executive of ID Quantize, a quantum-cryptography company in Geneva, Switzerland.

China is not alone in the development of this new network technology. BT and Toshiba Research Europe in the United Kingdom and Battelle in the United States have also built test-bed networks covering significant distances using lit fiber.

There are still many technical limitations to quantum communications such as network bandwidth limitations and incompatibility of quantum communications with traditional transmissions in the same fiber. However, the work is promising and the QKD encryption is seemingly hack-proof, but as with any new technology promising to be fool proof, there is always the human factor, or the “bigger fool.”

Networks are used by people, and people are vulnerable. Even if the technical encryption is impossible to hack, the users will often leave open a door to the hackers. Techniques such as sending emails with requests to click links will still be successful in tempting or tricking message recipients to open these links allowing malware to be installed. So, even as next-generation quantum technologies become available, it will still be necessary to be vigilant with personal and business network usage practices.

Quantum communication is in the very early stages of development and use. It will be quite some time before it is ready for prime-time. Even then, information transported via quantum networks will eventually need to be transferred to traditional networks for the final leg to its intended device. Therefore, the last mile will remain the hacker battleground. Constant monitoring and reduction of the threat landscape will continue to be critical to safe and sound network operation. Applying real-time security appliances to search for and block anomalies while allowing authorized communications will continue to be the best defense.

It is interesting that one of the most secret societies in the world will develop the first completely secure, long distance transmission network. It will be more interesting to see how secret those quantum communications will be once they hit the traditional terrestrial network. Perhaps, one day all networks will be bullet-proof. For now, however, it is necessary to keep your guard up and continue to deploy the best traditional security practices available.

Posted: 30/06/2016 10:34:37 by Network Critical with 0 comments

Network Critical gears up for CISCO Live!

Network Critical will be attending the highly anticipated CISCO Live event this year, which is taking place in Las Vegas, NV from July 10th to 14th.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind our customers, prospects, resellers and technology partners that the Network Critical team will of course be more than happy to meet with those of you interested in understanding more about our intelligent network access solutions, those looking to create new relationships, and those of you who are keen to build upon existing partnerships.

Cisco Live itself will play host to numerous Technology Vendors and IT thought leaders, with thousands of organised talks and learning sessions across the entire event, offering visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the technologies that make ‘anything possible!’. The Network Critical team will be among the top industry vendors attending the event, offering insight, advice and the opportunity to connect with senior executives within the business!

The event will be typically busy with a vast numbers of attendees, so be sure to get in touch with our marketing department in advance to organise a meeting with one or more of our representatives!

You can do this by sending an email to:

Posted: 27/06/2016 11:40:18 by Network Critical with 0 comments

IT Management - Winning at Network Politics

What do you think keeps Network Managers busy during the day (and awake at night)? Security? Network Speed and Availability? Application Performance? Budget? Politics? All of the Above?

IT organizations are no longer a couple of geeks in the basement. They are large and complex organizations critical to the success and growth of a business. Key departments under the CIO might include Network, Communications, Operations Support, Implementation, Information Security, Application Ops, Project Management, Cost and Budget and perhaps an overriding Network Strategy position.

Webster’s Dictionary has many definitions for the word “Network”. Definition number 3a is “an interconnected or interrelated chain, group or system. Definition number 3b is “a system of computers, peripherals, terminals and databases connected by communications lines. Interconnection is the key term in defining a network. However, in real life, network operational segments are often divided into discrete functional units as described in the sample IT organization described above.

Generally, budget, control and asset responsibility is in the scope of a variety of functional units or silos. Security, Probes and Monitoring, Networking, Applications - each have a manager whose job is to make sure that their silo is providing the required services within the assigned budget. Of course, each manager works for the same company so their overall objective is for the system to work at peak performance. Individually, however, it is not in their personal best interest to allow other silos to infringe on their operation or to siphon their budget. This is the real world.

Managing cross-functional requirements becomes tricky when the needs of the organization conflict with the operational or budget objectives of the silo. A great example is the connection of network, security and performance tools to network equipment. While SPAN ports are often used to connect various appliances to the network, the manager of the switch generally controls the connection. A security appliance, such as an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) might need to be connected to a switch searching for malware. The Security department pays for the appliance but is now under the mercy of the Network group to get it connected.

Security asks Network to connect the DLP appliance to a switch. What if the network group has used all the SPAN ports connecting probes and sniffers for network analysis? Will the Network Manager sacrifice the analysis probes being used to keep the network running at maximum capacity? What if the switch is running at near maximum capacity? Will the Network Manager allow the additional load of switch traffic caused by activating another SPAN port? Now we are beyond politics, we are talking about job security.

That is where the United Nations of networking equipment comes into play. I am talking about TAPs, a cross-functional network device that can provide an unlimited number of ports, allowing multiple tools and appliances access to network traffic. These devices connect between network end-points and copy traffic traversing the network. Once they are connected, TAPs look like a wire to the network. There is no added delay, no packet processing and no adverse impact to the network. A TAP just looks like a wire to the network. Furthermore, TAPs provide 100% accurate copies of packets to a variety of appliances and network tools.

In the world of networking, where silos are protected but cooperation is necessary, TAPs provide the ultimate compromise. Security appliances can connect to protect the network with no impact on the switches. Application Performance Appliances can ensure promised response times are delivered. Probes and sniffers can analyze traffic, help manage SLAs and reduced MTTR when issues arise. TAPs provide unlimited physical access to the tools necessary for network performance and business success.

Posted: 22/06/2016 14:15:43 by Network Critical with 0 comments

BlueZebra, Bangkok : Insights into Network Access and Visibility


Despite heavy rainstorms pouring down in Bangkok, Thailand - which rivalled even those of Great Britain herself! - there was an excellent attendance from Service Providers and Data Centre representatives at the recent BlueZebra 'Network Security' event, which showcased technologies from both Network Critical and Savvius Inc.

Network Critical has always stressed the importance of local presence, with a view to providing the best possible service to customers, both existing and prospective. It was therefore a pleasure for our Asia-Pacific team to be present at this event to offer in-depth insight and information on our range of intelligent network access solutions.

"Network Critical's APAC business is built upon solid partnerships with organisations such as BlueZebra, who understand the market and the need for holistic network visibility and availability through a solution-based approach." stated Dean Bell, Vice President APAC & Middle East for Network Critical.

Mr Bell also commented, "BlueZebra are a highly respected and strategic go-to market partner with trusted relationships with key Systems Integrators and customers throughout Thailand"

The overall theme of last week’s successful event was 'Access and Visibility for large and disparate Data Centre Networks' and commenting on the event, Jutipat Boonsoong - CEO BlueZebra Co. Ltd. stated: "Due to strong customer demand, we decided to run this event as we have recently seen a major growth in networks, IPv6 and connected devices. In a world where scalability is paramount, organisations must use reliable hardware solutions to accompany a general increase in proactive security around cyber attacks on infrastructure"

BlueZebra and Network Critical are planning more of these 'local' events, so watch this space for more news on these!

Posted: 20/06/2016 12:01:08 by Network Critical with 0 comments

Big Data - Helping Companies Know What They Don’t Know

Just because you do not know something, it does not mean that the knowledge does not exist. You just have to know what questions to ask and where to look for the answers. Knowing what questions to ask is often the hard part. Or, in other words, you need to know what you don’t know in order to find out what you want to know.

This is the conundrum that businesses large and small face every day. Fashion designers are monitoring consumer style and lifestyle preferences. Restauranteurs constantly monitor ever changing consumer taste and health preferences. Network providers must understand consumer appetite for more applications and performance expectations for those applications. Some businesses move faster than others and data networking is one of the fastest movers of them all.

The days of CEOs reviewing quarterly reports and preparing annual strategy plans are long gone. The old reporting process made sense when there were no faster alternatives. Business moved at a quarterly pace. Today, business moves at an instantaneous pace. Imagine the old process in terms of today’s world. Do nothing for 3 months while data is collected. Spend a couple of weeks analyzing data and preparing the report. Call a meeting to discuss issues discovered in the report and create an action plan for recovery. Implement the plan. Wait for the next quarter or two in order to analyze results of the recovery plan.

Fortunately, today’s world has technology that can compress the entire process into an instantaneous and continuous stream of information, presentation, action and plan review. The process, popularly referred to as Big Data has the capability to monitor massive amounts of data from various sources and distill that information down to actionable metrics. Businesses can manage operational performance, public perception and customer behavior on a daily basis.

Establishing a Big Data program is not trivial. The process boils down to monitoring targeted data sources, capturing raw data, analyzing and segmenting the data to create useful information and creating actionable Key Performance Indicators (KPI) as a base-line to determine success or failure. This process, of course, requires massive amounts of storage, the ability to quickly retrieve, process and deliver the data and establishing a graphical format from which the data can be quickly read and understood by human beings. Big Data encompasses all of the processes above and is not usually accomplished by working with one company or one product. There are monitoring products, storage products, computing and analysis products and presentation products that all work together to provide this new capability. It is often wise to look for the best of breed in each specialty.

As with any complex project, setting objectives and developing a comprehensive plan is critical to a successful outcome. Start the plan with the foundation. All the analysis in the world is worthless if the underlying data is flawed. Using TAPs to provide 100% accurate data input with nothing dropped or altered is the often overlooked foundation. So, when investigating a Big Data plan, do not get distracted by the fancy dashboards, terabyte storage and lightning fast processors. After all, the foundation is is the beginning of the project, not the finishing touch.

Businesses are quickly understanding the power of Big Data and how it can help them better understand and even predict how their customers perceive the world around them. Understanding customer perception, of course, is the key to marketing to them.

Now you hopefully know more than you knew before about Big Data. Starting a data analysis program from the ground up will help you to know what you want to know but can also help define a critical path to know what you don’t know.

Posted: 09/06/2016 10:06:45 by Network Critical with 0 comments

Network Critical to Speak at the Tech Summit, Minneapolis, 9 June, 2016

Network Critical is a key presenting sponsor and exhibitor at the Minneapolis Tech Summit which takes place later this week. As part of the event, Ron Williams, Sales Director at Network Critical, will be giving an insightful and informative presentation on the important challenges surrounding “Security & Network Monitoring Visibility”

IT organizations need to be able to easily and passively monitor their network links. Security, monitoring, and performance tools are critical to ensure network uptime and protection from a constant barrage of threats. It is vital that these tools operate at optimal efficiency, 100% of the time if network security and uptime is to be maintained. Network Critical will discuss and demonstrate the importance of not overlooking or underestimating the value of managing the visibility, and associated benefits, of these type of tools.

The Tech Summit, held at The Commons Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, on the campus of the University of Minnesota, is host to key business learning events and ‘best practice’ groups. The event series exposes all those involved to important IT decision makers within the top 50 metro markets. With key speakers, presenters and networking opportunities, this month’s event in Minneapolis will be coordinated with both the pace and variety needed to maximise audience engagement.

For more information and to register:

Posted: 07/06/2016 15:15:27 by Network Critical with 0 comments

Be Scared, Be Very Scared

The InfoSecurity Europe conference is being held this week in London. It is the region’s number one information security event and is expecting over 12,000 visitors. That is a lot of people with IT security on their mind. IT security should be on your mind too.

If you think your company is not vulnerable to being hacked, having confidential information stolen or money pilfered, then think again. Here is a list of major headlines from one single day’s front page of SC Magazine UK online:

  • National Childbirth Trust suffers major data breach.
  • Costa Rica investigating rigged elections by hacker
  • Huge data breach leaves 55 million Filipino voters exposed to hackers
  • Energy sector hit hardest by successful cyber attacks
  • Reports find security risks among policies for third party vendors
  • Panama Papers - Who let the docs out?

Once again…this is one day and one news outlet. According to, global cyber crime is expected to be a $120 Billion business by 2017. The four biggest types of attacks are:

Viruses, malware, worms and trojans - 50%
Criminal insider attacks - 33%
Theft of data-bearing devices - 28%
SQL injection - 28%

Many security breaches use multiple attack strategies, so the sum will be much greater than 100%. The analysis of these numbers shows that breaches can happen to your company and likely will happen despite security precautions that you currently have in place. To make matters worse, many large organizations lack even the most rudimentary security such as a protected perimeter. Recently Bangladesh Bank was hacked and lost over $80 Million before a hacker typo uncovered the breach and it was stopped. During the subsequent investigation it was learned that the bank had no firewall and a used $10 network router. This is what is called “false economy” in business school. The thousands of dollars saved on security tools and robust network equipment cost the organization $80 Million.

There has been much written about the consequences of malicious intrusions and theft. There are direct costs such as malware removal, ransom paid, funds that may have been stolen or embezzled and cost of potential law suits from customers whose information may have been stolen. There are also significant soft costs, that can be much more difficult from which to recover, such as brand reputation and customer confidence.

We all know that no network is 100% secure from all threats. The best security strategy is to not have a strategy. It is to have many strategies. The idea is to shrink the threat landscape and make your company a more difficult target. Using a home intrusion analogy, a burglar will always go to the open window. If your house has a security company logo sign, deadbolt door locks and an alarm system the thief will likely move down the block to the house with the open front window.

Reducing the threat landscape starts with a hardware strategy protecting the network perimeter. Layer on a software strategy that sees and learns normal transactions, looks for anomalies and blocks unusual traffic. Then include an HR strategy that sets usage policies and trains all network-connected employees on safe email and network practices. Establish a management strategy that creates and encourages a security-conscious culture within the company. Finally, monitor, capture and back up data on the network.

Stay tuned to future blogs that will talk about network monitoring, capture and forensics that can help track criminal activity in your network. Finding a breach quickly and having the tools to block it while in progress is critical to being able to reduce the severity of the attack and possibly to track the perpetrator. Don’t be scared, be prepared.

Posted: 07/06/2016 08:58:04 by Network Critical with 0 comments



This is a quick one to remind our readers in the UK that Network Critical will be attending INFOSEC Europe this week. The event itself will take place in Olympia, London and will be held on June 7th-9th.

Infosecurity is Europe’s number one information security event, featuring the largest and most comprehensive education programme, and over 300 exhibitors showcasing the most diverse range of products and services to thousands of visitors. This year's event in Olympia, London will be the 21st edition of the event.

Infosecurity Europe 2015 was a great success, boasting attendance of over 12,000 unique visitors from 80 countries. The event this year aspires to surpass expectations with record numbers of speakers and representatives present from IT Distribution companies, IT Hardware & Software Manufacturers and Suppliers, Finance/Banking/Insurance professionals and Government professionals.

So, if you are attending the event, we would love to meet you there. You can contact us at:

Posted: 06/06/2016 13:08:54 by Network Critical with 0 comments

Tips for Tech Support Career Growth

(I want to ditch the headset and hit the road)

Many inside technical support reps are very happy in their position. They have lots of toys to play with, generally reliable office hours (great for family time) and they have an intellectually stimulating professional position solving technical problems and providing advice to customers. However, as with any career position, many want to seek out new challenges and greater responsibility. The tech support position can be a great stepping stone to a more challenging and often, more lucrative position as field System Engineer or Sales Engineer (SE). For those that are looking in that direction, prepare for your next step using these tips.

Broaden your knowledge base - Know your competition as well as your own products. As a support rep, most of the calls are with customers who already have your product. By contrast, many of the meetings in the field as an SE, will be with prospects who have not yet decided on a product direction. Often, the prospect is not even sure of the best solution. The conversation, especially in early stage meetings, will be centered around the problem the customer is trying to solve. Competitive solutions may be discussed. It is important that the SE is comfortable discussing competitive pros and cons while presenting the strengths of their solution.

It is also important to be familiar with complementary products. If there are other products that work with or connect to your product, learn how they add value to your solution. Being able to present a complete solution is much more valuable to your prospect than presenting one piece of the solution. Even if your company does not sell the complementary products, presenting them as part of your solution will help gain trust and confidence from the prospect.

Develop relationship skills - Relationship building and networking are critical tools in the SE tool belt. When working in a pre-sales environment building trust and comfort with the prospect begins from the first contact. This is not an easy task and may take some time and effort to develop. However, it can be learned just like any other skill.

Do not believe those who say the Sales Rep is the relationship guy and the SE is the technical guy. Success is built around team work. The Sales Rep and SE must present to the prospect a competent and trustworthy team who is willing to commit resources to helping them solve their problem. The Sales Rep and SE must plan the meeting agenda in advance, understand each others roles in the meeting and represent the company as partners who are working in the best interest of the prospect.

Spend a little time early in the meeting getting to know the prospect and understanding their needs. This also helps the prospect get comfortable with you as a person prior to the presentation.

Develop presentation skills - Phone work is different than making a face to face presentation. Many times the presentation could be to a large group or committee in a formal conference room or board room setting. Just like a performer on stage, the presenter must be prepared, know their lines and know their subject matter. Anyone can stand up and read bullet points off a slide. You must work to engage your audience. Use slides to enhance your presentation with visuals and graphics. The fewer words on your slides the better. Practice your presentation. All good actors rehearse many times prior to the performance. You are an actor on a stage. The better prepared you are, the less nervous you will be.

Do your homework - The three tips above are starting points for your research and practice. All the information in the world is on the Internet. Google these topics for more detail and ideas that will help you develop the necessary skills. For example: Product Knowledge - your competitors all have web site, go there. Relationships - Practice engaging your phone customers beyond answering their questions. Presentation Skills - Volunteer to make a presentation to friendly audiences like an office meeting, church or even giving a toast at a party.

Taking small practice steps and doing research now will prepare you to confidently step forward when an opportunity for advancement and challenge presents itself. Be prepared and you will go far.

Posted: 03/06/2016 10:04:50 by Global Administrator with 0 comments