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.

contact_us_box-1


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!

contact_us_box-1


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.

PastedGraphic-1

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.

contact_us_box-1


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.

ddos

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!

contact_us_box-1

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
11826053_10103359251010943_8461014502151942597_n
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.

NetEqualizer News: July 2015


July 2015

Greetings!

Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News! This month, we highlight exciting 8.3 Release features, talk about our experience at edAccess’s Vendor Day, encourage you to sign up for a Tech Refresh, spotlight our Hotel & Resorts offering, and update you on the NetEqualizer DDoS monitoring and prevention tool. 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

Now that summer arthas officially arrived, we are ready for the heat in Colorado. It has been unusually rainy and cloudy here in July so far, and I would like more sunshine please!

Speaking of heat, this month we turn the heat up on several of our new features in 8.3, which are spotlighted below. 8.3 has been G/A since early June, in case you missed it. We also want you to take a Summer Course, no tests involved, and update you on Art’s latest visit back to school, namely the edAccess Conference. And finally, if you need relief from the heat of potential DDoS attacks, you have come to the right place. Our DDoS Monitor and Firewall can help! Read more below.

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!

Spotlight: 8.3 Release Hot New Features

8.3 has been G/A since early June, and we have been receiving a lot of positive feedback on the new RTR reports. If you have not yet requested 8.3, what are you waiting for? Click here to request an upgrade to 8.3 from our support team.

This month, we are highlighting two features available in 8.3 – Historical and Active Penalty Tracking. We also talk our activated Management Port, a feature available on all new NetEqualizers!

One of the best features in the 8.3 release is increased visibility into how your NetEqualizer is penalizing traffic. We’ve added interfaces to the 8.3 release that allow you to see both the number of penalties enforced on your network historically, as well as all of the current connections that are being penalized.

Historical Penalty Tracking

The General Penalty Reports page under the Traffic History menu shows the number of penalties enforced on your network at a given point in time. This allows you to see when connections on your network were being Equalized.

penalties

Active Penalty Tracking

The View Active Penalties page under the Active Connections menu shows which connections are currently being Equalized along with their current state (New, Increased, or Decreased). This allows you to diagnose any performance issues and also gives you a real time look at how the penalties are being enforced and who they are being enforced on.

activepenalties

Management Port Enabled by Default on all NEW NetEqualizers

We strive to make setting up the NetEqualizer as simple as possible. In this spirit, last year we moved all new NetEqualizers to a four port model, and started using colored port plugs to help our customers identify the ports. Two ports (eth0 and eth1) are used for network traffic, a 3rd port (eth2) is used as a management port, and the 4th port is a spare. We use four colors: 1) blue (WAN), 2) orange (LAN), 3) clear (Management Port) and 4) black (unused).

Prior to 8.3, only a subset of our customers used the Management Port, typically those on VLANs. As of 8.3, we standardized everything so that our NetEqualizer code automatically enables the Management Port, and ALL customers will use this to configure new NetEqualizers. While not a huge change, we think this will make setup just a little bit easier for everyone.

Please note that this feature is only available on new NetEqualizers.

You can read more about all of the features of the 8.3 Release here in the 8.3 Software Update. If you would like to upgrade to 8.3, just click on the button below to send a request to Support.

contact_us_box-1

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


We Had a Blast at edAccess!

Art recently joined the edAccess Conference in Mercersberg, PA on June 24th for Vendor Day. It was a great event and was well-attended by small schools and colleges (members come from schools with an FTE of under 1,000 students).edaccess

Art got to visit with quite a few current NetEqualizer customers, as you can see in the picture below:

SubstandardFullSizeRender

Art is on the left of the picture and is shown along with representatives from Williston Northampton School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Blair Academy, Mt. St. Mary Academy, Merceyhurst University, Peddie School, and Groton School.

Art would like to personally thank everyone for a great event…

I’d like to thank John Johnson from Williston Northampton School, Rainelle Dixon from Mercersberg Academy and the entire edAccess steering committee for being such wonderful hosts to the vendors. Mercersburg is such a lovely campus and my drive through central Pennsylvania was also relaxing and fun, I took some time on my return stopping at the various waysides, and even took in a game, featuring the Single A Crosscutters of Williamsport.

Thanks Again!

To learn more about NetEqualizer and how we help educational institutions of all sizes, click below.

contact_us_box-1


Take a Summer Course! Sign Up for a Tech Refresh

Remember those days? If you ever took a summer course, you know that the key was to keep it short, so that you could get back outside. Our NetEqualizer Technical Refresh is short! – only a 30 minute discussion with you and your fellow team members to help get caught up on new NetEqualizer functionality or answer any other questions you have.

The Tech Refresh is great for both new and longtime customers because we are constantly enhancing our product to give you the most value in managing and shaping bandwidth.

To schedule your Tech Refresh, contact us today!

contact_us_box-1

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


Spotlight: GX2 – NetEqualizer Hotel & Resort Industry Wi-Fi Partner

NetEqualizer’s Wi-Fi management partner for the hotel and resort industry, GX2 (formerly Global Gossip), recently attended the HITEC 2015 Conference in Austin, Texas, and brought along the NetEqualizer. According to their website, HITEC is the world’s largest hospitality conference.hmsio

Visitors to GX2’s booth and luncheon were able to review the NetEqualizer offering, and also walk away with some trade show bling (a foam NetEqualizer soccer ball!).

Here is a screenshot of the GX2 application used in the managed Wi-Fi service offering:

gx2_screen

As we have reported here in the past, GX2 utilizes the NetEqualizer as part of their Wi-Fi offering supporting our National Parks. So, if you have a summer vacation planned at Yellowstone, Mammoth, Mount Rushmore, Zion, Crater Lake, or the Grand Canyon, to name a few, chances are you are experiencing the benefits of NetEqualizer’s traffic shaping.

If you are already on our technology, you have part of the solution already in place. If you have ever wanted to learn more about a managed service Wi-Fi solution for the Hotel & Resort industry, you can read about our joint offering (HMSIO).

contact_us_box-1


NetEqualizer DDoS Tool Gaining Momentum

We keep getting reports of ongoing Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks from our customers, and are glad to hear the NetEqualizer is helping in many cases. If you are interested in chatting about using the NetEqualizer as a DDoS prevention tool please contact us to set up a time to chat.

Note: We do have a consulting charge for custom activation of firewall rules, but the initial consult is free.

The 8.3 Release includes our DDoS Monitor at no extra charge! In addition, our new DDoS Firewall tool (DFW) can be purchased as an add-on module for an additional fee.

ddos

The new DDoS Monitor shows you some basic metrics on the outside intrusion hit rate into your network. It can be used to spot anomalies which would indicate a likely DDoS attack in progress. The DDoS Firewall tools helps to actually thwart the attack.

contact_us_box-1


Best Of The Blog

Is Your Bandwidth Controller Obsolete Technology?

By Art Reisman – CTO – APconnections

Although not free yet, bandwidth contracts have been dropping in cost faster than a bad stock during a recession. With cheaper bandwidth costs, the question often arises on whether or not an enterprise can do without their trusty bandwidth controller.

Below, we have compiled a list of factors that will determine whether or not Bandwidth Controllers stick around for a while, or go the route of the analog modem, a relic of when people received their Internet from AOL and dial up…

Photo Of The Month
IMG_2407
Cinque Terre, Italy
This picture was taken by one of our staff while walking the trail that connects the five towns of the Cinque Terre on the coast of Italy. These towns are built into the sides of the tall hills that meet the sea. The trek between each town is a manageable 2 miles and provides picturesque views of the water and surrounding forests.

NetEqualizer News: June 2015


June 2015

Greetings!

Enjoy another issue of NetEqualizer News! This month, we announce the 8.3 Release – Expanded RTR, introduce our End of Spring Sale, update you on our DDoS monitoring and prevention technology, and preview our upcoming seminars and conferences. 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

Spring has been interesting in Colorado this year – artif you like to set records for the most rain in 20 years, that is! Luckily, one of my favorite TV channels is The Weather Channel, so I have been enjoying all the storms… With spring coming to an end soon, I look forward to warmer summer weather.

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!

8.3 Release is G/A

We are very excited to announce that our 8.3 Release – Expanded RTR is now generally available!

The beta tests for the 8.3 Release have gone very well, and we are ready to release the new reporting features to everyone! Here is a comment from one of our beta customers:

“One of the things that really got my attention on the new 8.3 Release was the ability to see, in real-time, the traffic on all my subnets on one screen. I simply created a pool for all the subnets in my network, and I can instantly see the saturation in the dynamic bar charts that update once a second. I know instantly which segments are saturated by glancing at my monitor screen.”

This release expands our current reporting features to include even more useful information, graphs, and tables. Here are just a few of the new additions you’ll find in the 8.3 Release:

1) Top Talkers Report – this has been one of the most requested graphs and was a popular feature of our previous reporting tool, ntop. You can use this feature to see which IP addresses have used the most bandwidth over time.

toptalkers

2) General Penalty Report – we are bringing this one back from the first version of RTR! You can see both IPs that are currently being penalized, as well as a historical count of penalties that have occurred over time.

penalties

3) Connection Count Report – NetEqualizer controls P2P traffic by using connection count limits on IP addresses. However, figuring out what limit to set for your network depends on how it’s used. You can use the new Connection Count Report to see how many connections individual IP addresses have, and thus set your connection limit to the appropriate level.

connectioncounts

You can read more about all of the features of the 8.3 Release here in the 8.3 Software Update. If you would like to upgrade to 8.3, just click on the button below to send a request to Support.

contact_us_box-1

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


Spring for a Lease in our End of Spring Sale

Our Leasing Program continues to be a popular choice for customers that want to use a NetEqualizer with no long-term leasecommitment, and also want to spread out their costs over each month instead of incurring one upfront expense. If you have ever considered leasing a NetEqualizer, now is the time!

To celebrate two years of the NetEqualizer Leasing Program, all new NetEqualizer Leases started before August 31st, 2015 will get 50% off the 1st month fee.

This offer is subject to availability, and customers must qualify to participate in our Leasing Program.

We also are excited to announce that we have added fiber connectivity to our leasing program, in both the 1Gbps and 10Gbps levels. And, to provide more flexibility in financing for our larger customers, we are now offering an Enterprise-Level Lease, for customers with more than 10,000 end users.

If you are interested in learning more, you can read the details of our Leasing Program here, or contact us below.

contact_us_box-1


DDoS Update

The 8.3 Release also includes our recent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Monitor at no extra charge! In addition, our new DDoS Firewall tool (DFW) can be purchased as an add-on module for an additional fee.

Here are some tips from our security experts for how to handle DDoS attacks, or stop them in the first place:
• Lock out unexpected geographies – Most businesses do not need global availability for their websites.
• If an attack occurs, look for fraud – Sometimes DDoS attacks can be smokescreens for other breaches.
• Route traffic through a system like CloudFlare – Their vast network can help thwart bandwidth overloads.
• Have a plan – Build DDoS into your Disaster Recovery Plan, and know who to call when an attack occurs.

The NetEqualizer can help you have a plan.

The new DDoS Monitor, which comes standard, shows you some basic metrics on the outside intrusion hit rate into your network. It can be used to spot anomalies which would indicate a likely DDoS attack in progress.

See our detailed blog article on the subject for how this technology works. Here is a screenshot of the DDoS Monitor dashboard:

ddos

If you decide you need something more proactive to mitigate a DDoS attack, we have a solution for you! For a one time charge of $3,500, which includes one hour of training and consulting, we install our DDoS Firewall (DFW) feature, which can be configured to block standard DDoS attacks.

contact_us_box-1


NetEqualizer Tech Seminars and Conferences

Our CTO, Art Reisman, will be on-site at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania during edACCESS Vendor Day, June 24th.edaccess

If you have ever been curious about the NetEqualizer, and want to learn more, stop by to talk to Art. We also look forward to visiting with customers as well, so please come by and say hello. You might even get some free NetEqualizer bling from Art!

If you cannot attend the edACCESS conference, but are in the area of South Central Pennsylvania, and would like to meet with Art, email him at:

art@apconnections.net

Art will be in the area for a few days after the conference as well.

How do you tell if edACCESS is right for you? Their mission is to provide support and networking for information technology staff at secondary schools and small colleges. Most edACCESS members come from schools with an FTE of under 1,000 students. So, if that sounds like you, consider attending the 2015 edACCESS Conference.

If you have never been to an edACCESS Conference, you might not know that they are purposely run small (100 attendees maximum) and that they use the peer conference mode.

Here is what they say on the edACCESS website:

“Each edACCESS conference is small, responsive, and participant-driven. Small, because edACCESS conferences are limited to one hundred attendees. Responsive, because half the conference is spent discussing topics chosen by attendees through a careful first-day process. Participant-driven, because we believe that, collectively, we are the experts.”

We hope to see you there!

contact_us_box-1


Best Of The Blog

The Facts and Myths of Network Latency

By Art Reisman – CTO – APconnections

There are many good references that explain how some applications such as VoIP are sensitive to network latency, but there is also some confusion as to what latency actually is as well as perhaps some misinformation about the causes.

In the article below, we’ll separate the facts from the myths and also provide some practical analogies to help paint a clear picture of latency and what may be behind it…

Photo Of The Month
IMG_0997
Brighton Beach, UK
This picture was taken by one of our staff on Brighton Beach, UK during our recent Tech Seminar. Brighton Beach features Brighton Pier, which is a pleasure pier that opened in 1899. Here, the ride operators are shown taking a break from work.
%d bloggers like this: