Archive for security

What to Expect in 2017: Mobile Device Security

Posted in security, big-ip, mobile, byod, access, 2017 by psilva on February 21st, 2017

mobile_locks.jpgIf the last 10 years wasn’t warning enough, 2017 will be a huge year for mobile…again. Every year, it seems, new security opportunities, challenges and questions surround the mobile landscape. And now it encompasses more than just the device that causes phantom vibration syndrome, it now involves the dizzying array of sensors, devices and automatons in our households, offices and municipalities. Mobile has infiltrated our society and our bodies along with it.

So the security stakes are high.

The more we become one with our mobile devices, the more they become targets. It holds our most precious secrets which can be very valuable. We need to use care when operating such a device since, in many ways, our lives depend on it. And with the increased automation, digitization and data gathering, there are always security concerns.

So how do we stay safe?

The consumerization of IT technologies has made us all administrators of our personal infrastructure of connected devices. Our digital self has become a life of its own. As individuals we need to stay vigilant about clicking suspicious links, updating software, changing passwords, backing up data, watching financial accounts, having AV/FW and generally locking down devices like we do the doors to our home. Even then, the smartphone enabled deadbolt can be a risk. And we haven’t even touched on mobile payment systems, IoT botnets or the untested, insecure apps on the mobile phone itself.

iot.jpgCybersecurity is a social issue that impacts us all and we all need to be accountable.

For enterprises, mobile devices carry an increased risk, especially personal devices connecting to an internal network. From regulatory compliance to the disgruntled employee, keeping sensitive information secret is top concern. BYOD policies and MDM solutions help as does segmenting those devices away from critical info. And the issue isn’t so much seeing restricted information, especially if your job requires it, it is more about unauthorized access if the device is compromised or lost. Many organizations have policies in place to combat this, including a total device wipe…which may also blast your personal keepsakes. The endpoint security market is maturing but won’t fill the ever-present security gaps.

From your workforce to your customers, your mobile web applications are also a target. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) reports a 250 percent jump in the number of detected phishing websites between October 2015 and March 2016. Around 230,000 unique phishing campaigns a month, many aimed at mobile devices arriving as worrisome text messages. Late 2016 saw mobile browsing overtake desktop for the first time and Google now favors mobile-friendly websites for its mobile search results. A double compatibility and SEO whammy.

And those two might not be the biggest risk to an organization since weakest link in the security ecosystem might be third-party vendors and suppliers.

On the industrial side, tractors, weather sensors, street lights, HVAC systems, your car and other critical infrastructure are now mobile devices with their own unique security implications. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) focuses on industrial control systems, device to network access and all the other connective sensor capabilities. These attacks are less frequent, at least today, but the consequences can be huge – taking out industrial plants, buildings, farms, and even entire cities.

The Digital Dress Code has emerged and with 5G on the way, mobile device security takes on a whole new meaning.

ps

 




Shared Authentication Domains on BIG-IP APM

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, application delivery, authentication, AAA, devcentral, access by psilva on February 14th, 2017

How to share an APM session across multiple access profiles.

A common question for someone new to BIG-IP Access Policy Manager (APM) is how do I configure BIG-IP APM so the user only logs in once.

By default, BIG-IP APM requires authentication for each access profile.

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This can easily be changed by sending the domain cookie variable is the access profile’s SSO authentication domain menu.

Let’s walk through how to configure App1 and App2 to only require authentication once.

We’ll start with App1’s Access Profile.

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Once you click through to App1’s settings, in the Top menu, select SSO/Auth Domains.

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We’re prompted for authentication and enter our credentials and luckily, we have a successful login.

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And then we’ll try to login to App2. And when we click it, we’re not prompted again for authentication information and gain access without prompts.

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Granted this was a single login request for two simple applications but it can be scaled for hundreds of applications. If you‘d like to see a working demo of this, check it out here.

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Security Trends in 2016: Securing the Internet of Things

Posted in security, big-ip, application security, devcentral, iot, sensors by psilva on February 7th, 2017

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Whenever you connect anything to the internet, there is risk involved. Just ask the millions of IoT zombies infected with Mirai. Sure, there have been various stories over the years about hacking thermostats, refrigerators, cameras, pacemakers, insulin pumps and other medical devices along with cars, homes and hotel rooms…but Mirai took it to a new level.

And it’s not the only IoT botnet out there nor are these nasty botnets going away anytime soon. There’s a gold mine of unprotected devices out there waiting to either have their/your info stolen or be used to flood another website with traffic.

This is bound to compound in the years to come.

A recent Ponemon Institute report noted that an incredible 80% of IoT applications are not tested for vulnerabilities. Let’s try that again – only 20% of the IoT applications that we use daily are tested for vulnerabilities. There’s probably no indication or guarantee that the one you are using now has been tested.

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Clearly a trend we saw in 2016, and seems to continue into 2017, is that people are focusing too much on the ‘things’ themselves and the coolness factor rather than the fact that anytime you connect something to the internet, you are potentially exposing yourself to thieves. There has been such a rush to get products to market and make some money off a new trend yet these same companies ignore or simply do not understand the potential security threats. This somewhat mimics the early days of internet connectivity when insecure PCs dialed up and were instantly inundated with worms, viruses and email spam. AV/FW software soon came along and intended to reduce those threats.

Today it’s a bit different but the cycle continues.

Back then you’d probably notice that your computer was acting funky, slowing down or malfunctioning since we interacted with it daily. Today, we typically do not spend every waking hour working with our IoT devices. They’re meant to function independently to grab data, make adjustments and alert us on a mobile app with limited human interaction. That’s the ‘smart’ part everyone talks about. But these botnets are smart themselves. With that, you may never know that your DVR is infected and allowing someone across the globe (or waiting at the nearest street corner) watch your every move.

Typical precautions we usually hear are actions like changing default passwords, not connecting it directly to the internet and updating the firmware to reduce the exposure. Software developers, too, need to plan and build in security from the onset rather than an afterthought. The security vs. usability conundrum that plagues many web applications extends to IoT applications also. But you wouldn’t, or I should say, shouldn’t deploy a financial application without properly testing it for vulnerabilities. There the risk is financial loss but with IoT and particularly medical/health devices the result can be deadly.

Mirai was just the beginning of the next wave of vulnerability exploitation. More chaos to come.

ps

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What is DNS?

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, application delivery, devcentral, dns by psilva on February 2nd, 2017

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What is the Domain Name System (DNS)?

Imagine how difficult it would be to use the Internet if you had to remember dozens of number combinations to do anything. The Domain Name System (DNS) was created in 1983 to enable humans to easily identify all the computers, services, and resources connected to the Internet by name—instead of by Internet Protocol (IP) address, an increasingly difficult-to-memorize string of information. Think of all the website domain names you know off the top of your head and how hard it would be to memorize specific IP addresses for all those domain names. Think of DNS as the Internet's phone book. A DNS server translates the domain names you type into a browser, like www.f5.com, into an IP address (104.219.105.148), which allows your device to find the resource you're looking for on the Internet.

DNS is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet. It associates various information with domain names that are assigned to each of the participating DNS entries.

How DNS Works

The user types the address of the site (www.f5.com as an example) into the web browser. The browser has no clue where www.f5.com is, so it sends a request to the Local DNS Server (LDNS) to ask if it has a record for www.f5.com. If the LDNS does not have a record for that particular site, it begins a recursive search of the Internet domains to find out who owns www.f5.com.

First, the LDNS contacts one of the Root DNS Servers, and the Root Server responds by telling the LDNS to contact the .com DNS Server. The LDNS then asks the .com DNS Server if it has a record for www.f5.com, and the .com DNS Server determines the owner of www.f5.com and returns a Name Server (NS) record for f5.com. Check out the diagram below:

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Next, the LDNS queries the f5.com DNS Server NS record. The f5.com DNS Server looks up the name: www.f5.com. If it finds the name, it returns an Address (A) record to the LDNS. The A record contains the name, IP address, and Time to Live (TTL). The TTL (measured in seconds) tells the LDNS how long to maintain the A record before it asks the f5.com DNS Server again.

When the LDNS receives the A record, it caches the IP address for the time specified in the TTL. Now that the LDNS had the A record for www.f5.com, it can answer future requests from its own cache rather than completing the entire recursive search again. LDNS returns the IP address of www.f5.com to the host computer, and the local browser caches the IP address on the computer for the time specified in the TTL. After all, if it can hold on to the info locally, it won't need to keep asking the LDNS.

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The browser then uses the IP address to open a connection to www.f5.com:80 and sends a GET /... and the web server returns the web page response.

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DNS can get a lot more complicated than what this simple example shows, but this gives you an idea of how it works.

DNS Importance

As arguably the primary technology enabling the Internet, DNS is also one of the most important components in networking infrastructure. In addition to delivering content and applications, DNS also manages a distributed and redundant architecture to ensure high availability and quality user response time—so it is critical to have an available, intelligent, secure, and scalable DNS infrastructure. If DNS fails, most web applications will fail to function properly. And DNS is a prime target for attack.

The importance of a strong DNS foundation cannot be overstated. Without one, your customers may not be able to access your content and applications when they want to—and if they can't get what they want from you, they'll likely turn elsewhere.

Growing Pains

DNS is growing especially with mobile apps and IoT devices requiring name resolution.  Add to that, organizations are experiencing rapid growth in terms of applications as well as the volume of traffic accessing those applications.

In the last five years, the volume of DNS queries on for .com and .net addresses has more than doubled. More than 10 million domain names were added to the Internet in 2016 and future growth is expected to occur at an even faster pace as more cloud, mobile and IoT implementations are deployed.

Security Issues

If DNS is the backbone of the Internet—answering all the queries and resolving all the numbers so you can find your favorite sites—it is also one of the most vulnerable points in your network. Due to the crucial role it plays, DNS is a high-value security target. DNS DDoS attacks can flood your DNS servers to the point of failure or hijack the request and redirect requests to a malicious server. To prevent this, a distributed high-performing, secure DNS architecture and DNS offload capabilities must be integrated into the network.

Generally, DNS servers and DNS cloud services can handle varying amounts of requests per second with the costs increasing as the queries-per-second increase.

To address DNS surges and DNS DDoS attacks, companies add more DNS servers, which are not really needed during normal business operations. This costly solution also often requires manual intervention for changes. In addition, traditional DNS servers require frequent maintenance and patching, primarily for new vulnerabilities.

The Traditional Solution

When looking for DNS solutions, many organizations select BIND (Berkeley Internet Naming Daemon), the Internet's original DNS resolver. Installed on approximately 80 percent of the world's DNS servers, BIND is an open-source project maintained by Internet Systems Consortium (ISC).

Despite its popularity, BIND requires significant maintenance multiple times a year primarily due to vulnerabilities, patches, and upgrades. It can be downloaded freely, but needs servers (an additional cost, including support contracts) and an operating system. In addition, BIND typically scales to only 50,000 responses per second (RPS), making it vulnerable to both legitimate and malicious DNS surges.

Next Step

If you're ready to learn more or dig deeper into DNS, check out these more advanced articles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Blog Roll 2016

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, cloud computing, silva, application delivery, devcentral, infrastructure, access, iot by psilva on December 20th, 2016

dc-logo.jpgIt’s that time of year when we gift and re-gift, just like this text from last year. And the perfect opportunity to re-post, re-purpose and re-use all my 2016 entries.

After 12 years at F5, I had a bit of a transition in 2016, joining the amazing DevCentral team in February as a Sr. Solution Developer. You may have noticed a much more technical bent since then…hopefully. We completed our 101 Certification Exam this year and will be shooting for the 201 next quarter. We started highlighting our community with Featured Member spotlight articles and I finally started contributing to the awesome LightBoard Lessons series. I also had ACDF surgery this year, which is why November is so light. Thanks to the team for all their support this year. You guys are the best!

If you missed any of the 53 attempts including 7 videos, here they are wrapped in one simple entry. I read somewhere that lists in articles are good. I broke it out by month to see what was happening at the time and let's be honest, pure self-promotion. I truly appreciate the reading and watching throughout 2016.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

And a couple special holiday themed entries from years past.

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Lightboard Lessons: SSO to Legacy Web Applications

IT organizations have a simple goal: make it easy for workers to access all their work applications from any device. But that simple goal becomes complicated when new apps and old, legacy applications do not authenticate in the same way.

In this Lightboard Lesson, I draw out how VMware and F5 helps remove these complexities and enable productive, any-device app access. By enabling secure SSO to Kerberos constrained delegation (KCD) and header-based authentication apps, VMware Workspace ONE and F5 BIG-IP APM help workers securely access all the apps they need—mobile, cloud and legacy—on any device anywhere.

 

 

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The Top 10, Top 10 Predictions for 2017

2017.jpgThe time of year when crystal balls get a viewing and many pundits put out their annual predictions for the coming year. Rather than thinking up my own, I figured I’d regurgitate what many others are expecting to happen.

8 Predictions About How the Security Industry Will Fare in 2017 – An eWeek slideshow looking at areas like IoT, ransomware, automated attacks and the security skills shortage in the industry. Chris Preimesberger (@editingwhiz), who does a monthly #eweekchat on twitter, covers many of the worries facing organizations.

10 IoT Predictions for 2017 – IoT was my number 1 in The Top 10, Top 10 Predictions for 2016 and no doubt, IoT will continue to cause havoc. People focus so much on the ‘things’ themselves rather than the risk of an internet connection. This list discusses how IoT will grow up in 2017, how having a service component will be key, the complete mess of standards and simply, ‘just because you can connect something to the Internet doesn’t mean that you should.’

10 Cloud Computing Trends to Watch in 2017 - Talkin' Cloud posts Forrester’s list of cloud computing predictions for 2017 including how hyperconverged infrastructures will help private clouds get real, ways to make cloud migration easier, the importance (or not) of megaclouds, that hybrid cloud networking will remain the weakest link in the hybrid cloud and that, finally, cloud service providers will design security into their offerings. What a novel idea.

2017 Breach Predictions: The big one is inevitable – While not a list, per se, NetworkWorld talks about how we’ll see more intricate, complex and undetected data integrity attacks and for two main reasons: financial gain and/or political manipulation. Political manipulation? No, that’ll never happen. NW talks about how cyber attacks will get worse due to IoT and gives some ideas on how to protect your data in 2017.

Catastrophic botnet to smash social media networks in 2017 – At the halfway point the Mirai botnet rears its ugly head and ZDNet explains how Mirai is far from the end of social media disruption due to botnets. With botnets-for-hire now available, there will be a significant uptick in social media botnets which aim not only to disrupt but also to earn money for their operators in 2017. Splendid.

Torrid Networks’ Top 10 Cyber Security Predictions For 2017Dhruv Soi looks at the overall cyber security industry and shares that many security product companies will add machine learning twist to their products and at the same time, there will be next-gen malware with an ability to bypass machine learning algorithms. He also talks about the fast adoption of Blockchain, the shift towards mobile exploitation and the increase of cyber insurance in 2017.

Fortinet 2017 Cybersecurity Predictions: Accountability Takes the Stage - Derek Manky goes in depth with this detailed article covering things like how IoT manufacturers will be held accountable for security breaches, how attackers will begin to turn up the heat in smart cities and if technology can close the gap on the critical cyber skills shortage. Each of his 6 predictions include a detailed description along with risks and potential solutions.

2017 security predictions – CIO always has a year-end prediction list and this year doesn’t disappoint. Rather than reviewing the obvious, they focus on things like Dwell time, or the interval between a successful attack and its discovery by the victim. In some cases, dwell times can reach as high as two years! They also detail how passwords will eventually grow up, how the security blame game will heat up and how mobile payments, too, will become a liability. Little different take and a good read.

Predictions for DevOps in 2017 – I’d be remiss if I didn’t include some prognosis about DevOps - one of the most misunderstood terms and functions of late. For DevOps, they will start to include security as part of development instead of an afterthought, we’ll see an increase in the popularity of containerization solutions and DZone sees DevOps principals moving to mainstream enterprise rather than one-off projects.

10 top holiday phishing scams – While many of the lists are forward-looking into the New Year, this one dives into the risks of the year end. Holiday shopping. A good list of holiday threats to watch out for including fake purchase invoices, scam email deals, fake surveys and shipping status malware messages begging you to click the link. Some advice: Don’t!

Bonus Prediction!

Top 10 Most Popular Robots to Buy in 2017 – All kinds of robots are now entering our homes and appearing in society. From vacuums to automated cars to drones to digital assistants, robots are interacting with us more than ever. While many are for home use, some also help with the disabled or help those suffering from various ailments like autism, a stroke or even a missing limb. They go by many monikers like Asimo, Spot, Moley, Pepper, Jibo and Milo to name a few.

Are you ready for 2017?

If you want to see if any of the previous year’s prognoses came true, here ya go:

ps




Lightboard Lessons: BIG-IP in Hybrid Environments

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, ssl vpn, cloud, silva, application delivery, lightboard, devcentral, remote access, saml, aws, azure, saas by psilva on October 12th, 2016

A hybrid infrastructure allows organizations to distribute their applications when it makes sense and provide global fault tolerance to the system overall. Depending on how an organization’s disaster recovery infrastructure is designed, this can be an active site, a hot-standby, some leased hosting space, a cloud provider or some other contained compute location. As soon as that server, application, or even location starts to have trouble, organizations can seamlessly maneuver around the issue and continue to deliver their applications.

Driven by applications and workloads, a hybrid environment is a technology strategy to integrate the mix of on premise and off-premise data compute resources. In this Lightboard Lesson, I explain how BIG-IP can help facilitate hybrid infrastructures.

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F5 Access for Your Chromebook

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, ssl vpn, cloud, silva, application delivery, mobile, devcentral by psilva on October 12th, 2016

My 5th grader has a Chromebook for school. She loves it and it allows her access to school applications and educational tools where she can complete her assignments and check her grades. But if 5th grade is a tiny dot in your rear-view and you’re looking to deploy Chromebooks in the enterprise, BIG-IP v12 can secure and encrypt ChromeOS device access to enterprise networks and applications. With network access, Chromebook users can run applications such as RDP, SSH, Citrix, VMware View, and other enterprise applications on their Chrome OS devices.

From an employee’s perspective, it is very easy to get the SSLVPN configured. Log on to a Chromebook, open Chrome Web Store, search for ‘F5 Access’ and press the +ADD TO CHROME button. Add app when the dialogue box pops and F5 Access will appear in your ‘All Apps’ window.

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Next, when launched, you’ll need to accept the license agreement and then add a server from the Configuration tab:

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Next, give it a unique name, enter the BIG-IP APM server URL and optionally add your username and password. Your password will not be cached unless that’s allowed by the APM Access Policy. You can also select a client certificate if required. Once configured, it’ll appear in the list. You can also have multiple server configurations if needed:

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To connect, click the bottom tray bar and select the tile that says, ‘VPN Disconnected.’

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And select the server configured when setting up the app. Depending on the configuration, you’ll either get the native login window or the WebTop version:

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Once connected, there won’t be any indication in the tray but if you click it, you’ll see the connection status in the same VPN area as above and it’ll show ‘connected’ within the F5 Access app:

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As you can see in the above image, you can also check Statistics and Diagnostics if those are of interest. To end the connection, click the tray again, select the VPN tile and click Disconnect.

For administrators, it’s as simple as adding a ‘ChromeOS’ branch off the ClientOS VPE action:

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Then add a Connectivity Profile to BIG-IP:

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In addition to generic session variables, client session variables are also available. Check out the release notes and BIG-IP Access Policy Manager and F5 Access for Chrome OS v1.0.0 manual for more info.

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Q/A with ExITeam’s Security Engineer Stanislas Piron - DevCentral’s Featured Member for October

Posted in security, f5, big-ip, silva, devcentral, irules by psilva on October 4th, 2016

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Stanislas Piron is a Security Engineer for ExITeam. 16 years ago, Stanislas started out with Firewalls, email and Web content security. His first F5 deployment was with LTM and Link Controller 10 years ago and he is DevCentral’s Featured Member for October!

He started to focus on F5 products as pre-sales engineer for a IT security distributor in charge of F5 development. 4 years ago, he joined Exiteam, a small company of two security engineers helping resellers audit, design and deploy security solutions for their customers. To provide real expertise, they both focus their skills on a small set of products. He works with F5 products about 80% of his time.

DevCentral got an opportunity to chat with Stanislas about his work, life and if European organizations have unique security requirements.

DevCentral: You’ve been an active contributor to the DevCentral community and wondered what keeps you involved?

Stanislas Piron: When I started working with F5 products, I created my DevCentral account to search piece of iRules and write my own iRules according to customer’s needs.

As the needs grew, I had some unanswered questions. Searching DevCentral, I found another approaches to solving issues, helping me to solve my own challenges. Each time I find a better way to solve my problems, I try to share my code.

I often read question and try to solve them thinking, “This can solve an issue of a customer I didn’t think about before”

DevCentral is a place where every time you help someone, you learn something.

DC: Tell us a little about the areas of BIG-IP expertise you have.

SP: My favorite BIG-IP product is APM (LTM+APM mode), which covers almost everything about authentication. It’s also the product we must configure as simple as possible if we do not want the customer to have headaches reading the access policy.

I often deploy BIG-IP with multiple modules including LTM, APM, AFM, GTM and ASM to offer high datacenter security.

Most of my deployments use the local traffic policies for standard admin tasks, iRules for application compatibility, and the tcl codes in APM to assign variable boxes.

DC: You are a Security Engineer with Exiteam, a security consulting practice. Can you explain how DevCentral helps with your daily challenges? Where does BIG-IP fit in the services you offer or within your own infrastructure?

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SP: iRules is a great tool to solve problems BIG-IP is not addressing, but iRules is nothing without the developer’s community. DevCentral experts share experience not only about tcl coding but protocol knowledge, iRule events orders, and working iRules. And on the other side, some IT admins ask about new needs that I may answer for the next customer.

Each time I have a new challenge, I first search on DevCentral to see if someone already solved it. If not, I’ll create my own iRule.

DC: I understand you are in France and wondered, what are some of the unique information security challenges for European organizations?

SP: Information security challenges are not unique for European organizations as security risks are the same for all countries.

DC: Describe one of your biggest challenges and how DevCentral helped in that situation.

SP: With Microsoft Forefront TMG End of sale, most of my customers migrated to F5 products.

One of my customers, a SAAS provider, with almost exclusively Microsoft products (TMG, Exchange, Sharepoint, etc.) and with more than 20K concurrent users was evaluating how to migrate to BIG-IP LTM, ASM, APM and AFM.

During POC (and then deployment) we worked to get the same behavior with APM as TMG with SharePoint about office editing documents. I found some question on DevCentral with parts of an answer, but not the full answer. I wrote an iRule optimized for such a deployment (20K users) answering all the customer needs and shared it. Some DevCentral experts, who had the same needs, commented on it to make it simpler, generic and optimized.

DC: Lastly, if you weren’t an IT admin – what would be your dream job? Or better, when you were a kid – what did you want to be when you grew up?

SP I don’t remember what I wanted to be when I was child and IT is not a dream job if you don’t evolve. What I expect in my job is to not do the same job as the day before, and I think I found it. Every day, I meet new customers, I have new challenges and I learn something increasing my knowledge.

DC: Thanks Stanislas and congratulations! You can find Stanislas on LinkedIn and also check out his DevCentral contributions.

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