NetEqualizer News: August 2015


August 2015

Greetings!

Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News! This month, we preview our 8.4 Winter Release plans, highlight several recent testimonials from K-12 schools, talk about a DDoS attack thwarted by NetEqualizer, announce our new social media presence on Twitter, and discuss Demo Site updates. As always, feel free to pass this along to others who might be interested in NetEqualizer News.

A message from Art…
Art Reisman, CTO – APconnections

It is hard to believe it, but summer is almost over – at least for all the students going back to school or college in late August here in the U.S.! artIn honor of back-to-school, this month we share some of our latest testimonials from schools – see what they are saying about the NetEqualizer! We also highlight a real-life experience of how we helped one of our school customers catch a DDoS botnet. And, if you want to school yourself in something new, you can view our latest 8.3 reports, now available on our Demo Site.

And although it is still warm, we are starting to plan for winter – read about our Winter Release plans below, and let us know what you think!

twitterWe are excited to announce that NetEqualizer is now on Twitter! You can now follow us @NetEqualizer.

We love it when we hear back from you – so if you have a story you would like to share with us of how we have helped you, let us know. Email me directly at art@apconnections.net. I would love to hear from you!

NetEqualizer is now on Twitter!

We are excited to announce that NetEqualizer has joined Twitter!twitter

If you would like to follow us, our handle is @NetEqualizer.

Just like our popular NetEqualizer News blog, @NetEqualizer will be geared toward topics around network optimization and Internet security.

We will tweet out insights on subjects from the latest in network security, traffic shaping, QoS, and net neutrality, as well as commentary on the state of Internet politics.

If this sounds interesting to you, follow us and share our account with others!


Let’s Go Back to School!
What K-12 schools are saying about NetEqualizer

Did you know NetEqualizer is a K-12 School Top 100 Product? K-12 school IT administrators love NetEqualizer! So much so that many have agreed to provide testimonials for us to post on our website.

Here are some of the recent ones we added:

The Lawrenceville School

lawrenceville

“We’ve been a NetEqualizer customer for several years and I want you to know how pleased we are with it. Unlike our previous bandwidth management product which required constant tending and updates, the NetEqualizer works exactly as advertised: plug it in and forget it. Our Internet connections run smoothly regardless of the kind or amount of traffic thrown at it. Thanks again!”

Mark Costello – Network Engineer

Miss Hall’s School

misshalls

“We have been extremely happy with our NetEqualizer. Gone are the bottlenecks that used to occur when all of our students were on the Internet at the same time. The NetEqualizer handles all of the bandwidth management, keeping our users happy, and has been completely hassle-free for our admins.”

Matt Pocock – Director of Technology

The Athenian School

athenian

“NetEqualizer is one of very few products that lives up to its promise. After initial configuration it simply does manage traffic in defined pools/objects. There is no complex application based rules or management required. It is a fantastic product that makes the life of a school network manager easier.”

Matt Binder – Director of Information Systems

Contact us if you would like your quote added to our testimonials page – even if you are not in the education space! We love hearing from all our customers about how we’ve helped them control congestion on their networks.

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NetEqualizer Demo Site Has 8.3 Reporting
Updated with 8.3 Reporting

The NetEqualizer Demo Site now has the latest release (8.3) applied! This means that all of the exciting new features we’ve been discussing in our newsletter over the last few months are available to see for both new and existing customers.pdg

If you’d like to check out the new 8.3 features for yourself, you can do so here.

We’ve also updated our Product Demo Guide to reflect some of the changes we’ve made to the site.

If you have any questions about the latest release or would like to schedule a Technical Refresh to go over the new features, please feel free to contact us!

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DDoS Gets Real

Think DDoS attacks only happen to other organizations? Sadly, no one is immune. The NetEqualizer is often placed in a unique position in a network such that it can provide real-time intelligence as to whether or not a DDoS attack is occurring. See recent articles regarding DDoS in our blog.

We’ve already heard stories from customers about how they’ve used the NetEqualizer to thwart DDoS attacks but we’ve never actually witnessed one in person – until last week. During a Tech Refresh call with one of our K-12 customers, the training engineer noticed abnormal traffic initiated from the outside to one of the school’s database servers. The IP looked suspicious and when geolocated, turned out to be from Hong Kong. The engineer then looked up the IP address in the active connections table and discovered it was hammering port 22 (SSH). This could have been a multitude of things including the beginning of a DDoS attack or a brute force attempt at connecting to the server. The school administrator immediately took action and blocked the IP.

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While the NetEqualizer is excellent and controlling bandwidth congestion, don’t forget that its data can also be helpful in diagnosing other network-related issues, including DDoS!

See our recent blog article about discovering this attack, here.

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8.4 Winter Release Plans

We are excited to announce that our Winter Release (8.4) is underway! 8.4 is targeted for the November through January 2016 timeframe

This release will focus on several key areas in the NetEqualizer GUI: Pool Enhancements, DDoS Alerts, and Built-in Configuration & Scripts, which we will discuss below.

Pool Enhancements
Many of you are familiar with our concept of shared limits, which we call “Pools.” Pools are a great way to allocate bandwidth (not reserved) to a group of IPs or subnets. Pools are used by many NetEqualizer customers who need to provide bandwidth to groups of users on their networks.

We find that Pools align with various concepts for different customer types:

1) Access Points (Internet Providers)
2) Buildings (Colleges or Schools)
3) Groups (Libraries – patrons/staff, Schools – staff/students/wireless guests)

As Pools have grown in popularity over the years, we now are focusing on making them easy to use. To do this we are going to add the ability to name your pools (so that you can better keep track of them), view subnets within your pools (so that you can better see which pool a user belongs to), and the ability to edit pools on the fly (so that you no longer have to remove and re-add them when you need to make a change).

DDoS Alerts
Adding to our existing email alert capability, we are now going to build in alerts for suspected DDoS traffic picked up by our DDoS Monitor. While checking the DDoS periodically will still be important, the alerts will give you piece of mind that your network is always being monitored for abnormal traffic.

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For an example of why this is important, see the article titled “DDoS Gets Real” in this month’s newsletter.

Built-in Configuration & Scripts
Another feature of 8.4 will be the incorporation of some of our most popular custom configuration scripts that historically have only been available via our online help or our support team.

We will now have interfaces for setting up HTTPS on your NetEqualizer as well as the ability to have time-of-day configurations (configurations that change based on different needs throughout the day).

The goal with these features is to reduce work for customers, streamline workflow, and enhance our user interface with some of our most popular scripts that are not yet represented via the GUI.

If you have an idea for a GUI enhancement aligned with Pools, DDoS or Built-in Configuration & Scripts that you would like to be considered for 8.4, please let us know!

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These features are free to all customers with valid NetEqualizer Software and Support. If you are not current with NSS, contact us today!


Best Of The Blog

How Does Your ISP Actually Enforce Your Internet Speed?

By Art Reisman – CTO – APconnections

Every once in a while I’ll post something on Reddit just to see the response. A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to this article and it generated about 3,000 hits over the course of a day.

This was even after I got a nasty note from the moderator saying I posted it in the wrong place. It was kind of ironic that 3,000 people were interested, maybe they click on anything that blinks?

I don’t know. Many of these articles you see on our blog are the result of technical conversations with customers. I’ll spend a good deal of mental energy explaining a concept and when appropriate I’ll take my notes and turn into an information article. Hence this blog post was born, I never imagined it would have such broad appeal.

Have you ever wondered how your ISP manages to control the speed of your connection? If so, you might find the following article enlightening. Below, we’ll discuss the various trade-offs used to control and break out bandwidth rate limits and the associated side effects of using those techniques.

Dropping Packets (Cisco term “traffic policing”)

One of the simplest methods for a bandwidth controller to enforce a rate cap is by dropping packets. When using the packet-dropping method, the bandwidth controlling device will count the total number of bytes that cross a link during a second. If the target rate is exceeded during any single second, the bandwidth controller will drop packets for the remainder of that second. For example, if the bandwidth limit is 1 megabit, and the bandwidth controller counts 1 million bits gone by in 1/2 a second, it will then drop packets for the remainder of the second. The counter will then reset for the next second. From most evidence we have observed, rate caps enforced by many ISPs use the drop packet method, as it is the least expensive method supported on most basic routers…

Photo Of The Month
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North Arapaho Peak

North Arapaho Peak is the king of the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area in the Rocky Mountains just west of our home near Boulder, CO. Not only is it the tallest in the area (13,508 ft), it is also the most difficult non-technical climb.

The route involves an easy hike up to the summit of South Arapaho Peak – and the cruxes of the climb are five unique points along the ridge that connects the two mountains. The 0.75 mile ridge takes nearly an hour to complete in one direction and has significant exposure to falling below. This picture is from the ridge, looking down on Arapaho Glacier – a protected area that serves as the watershed for the City of Boulder.

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