Solar VPS Blog

Solar Node Maintenance – September 9

We will be performing maintenance in both Dallas, TX & Secaucus, NJ during the following windows: 2016/09/09 23:00 Eastern Time 2016/09/10 03:00 Eastern Time 2016/09/11 23:00 Eastern Time 2016/09/12 03:00 Eastern Time During this window you may notice a brief period of where your VM will be gracefully shutdown and restarted by our technicians. We are working to keep the impact to a minimum. Further updates will be posted to if required. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.    

How the Grinch Stole the Retail Industry's Christmas… And Keeping the Grinch Out of Your Cloud Data

IT breach You have probably heard by now that the Grinch was busy this Christmas. A total of six major retailers, including Target and Neiman Marcus, were successfully infiltrated by malware, and massive amounts of user data were stolen. This trend is not just ominous for consumers. It highlights the sophistication of malware, the boldness of hackers, and the continuing threat to all businesses, especially SMB. The reason that SMB are more vulnerable to attacks is that they may not have as many goodies for cybercriminals to grab, but they often don’t have proper protections in place, and a single hack is more likely to drive them out of business. How serious is the threat for businesses? PCWorld tells the story of an executive at a Chicago manufacturing company that barely escaped a loss of hundreds of thousand dollars to controllers of malware. A virus downloaded to the CFO’s computer used standard phishing protocol to steal from the business. When the CFO browsed to the company’s bank account, she was redirected to a fake but otherwise identical site owned by the hackers. A message informed her to call customer service about a problem with the account. When the CFO called the number, she was asked a handful of “verification” questions. Moments later, $300,000 had been withdrawn by a third-party. Luckily, the company responded swiftly, and the bank was able to retain the funds. Despite the happy ending to the Chicago firm’s hack, many small-to-medium businesses do not fare as well. PCWorld cites statistics from the National Cyber Security Alliance that demonstrate how prevalent and damaging hacking is for SMB:
  • 31% of companies breached in 2012 were small businesses
  • 20% of the hacks were successful
  • 60% of the companies successfully hacked were bankrupt within half a year.
Who was behind the attack? A teenager? Web security company IntelCrawler (watch out for their super-creepy 404 error message page) investigated the incident, which according to Target impacted 70 million of its shoppers. Its findings revealed that BlackPOS, a pre-packaged and relatively unsophisticated piece of malware designed by a Russian teenager and purchased by the attackers, was used to infiltrate both Target’s and Neiman Marcus’s systems. Originally called KAPTOXA  (Russian slang for potato) and responsible for all six additional retailer attacks, the software first appeared online in 2013 and has been used for breaches of retailers based in Australia, Canada, and the United States. A report published in Slate revealed that the teenager, who used the screen name ree4, sold KAPTOXA (aka BlackPOS) to more than five dozen hackers, most of them based in Eastern Europe. It further clarifies that the attacks on Target and Neiman Marcus were launched separately: it now seems likely that the only link between them was the malware that was used. In fact, according to The New York Times, Neiman Marcus was breached in July but only became aware of the issue in December. What was taken & why it happened According to Wired, the Target hack began on Black Friday and collected information from the retailer’s point-of-sale (POS) devices. For over two weeks, it transmitted data from credit and debit cards belonging to over 40 million people to the owners of the malicious software. The hackers also received contact information for 70 million customers. All told, 11 GB of data were taken before the company was able to identify and block the intrusion. Avivah Litan, an analyst for Gartner, calls the incident “a big failure of the whole industry.” The retail giant, along with T.J. Maxx and several other retail stores and credit card processing companies, was the target of broadly destructive hacking in 2005. However, according to the analysis in Wired, the security mechanisms in place at retail stores were not substantially improved following that widescale incident, an assertion expected to be used in class-action lawsuits against the “big-box” store. Ensuring strong security In a climate in which retailers are being successfully targeted by hackers, security has become a concern of all organizations. A nonprofit called the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) was created in 2008 with the specific goal of educating the public and industry professionals about proper security precautions to keep users safe. The organization both provides information on sound security practices with regards to web hosting and best practices for businesses to maintain and improve their systems. Similarly, Microsoft provides a security checklist, a list of considerations for organizations with regards to their own cloud systems, so that security is a top priority. Although the checklist is geared toward governmental agencies, its basic parameters are of use to businesses as well:
  • Privacy – Ideally a provider will encrypt your data, make it anonymous, and make your locations of remote access inaccessible.
  • Integration – In the case of a hybrid solution, you can make use of integration with security tools you have in place for your other systems.
  • Certification – If you have specific compliance concerns, check with your provider to make sure they are certified to meet your needs. Develop a system of metrics so you can analyze and track your cloud hosting environment. Consider the process required of your users to enter and leave the system.
  • Access – Your system should have protections (of course) to guard against malicious intrusion. Specifically consider safeguards in place for your databases.
  • Software – How does your platform keep your code from becoming corrupt? How are people vetted for managerial positions in which they might have greater access to your code? How do they test or model for security threats?
  • Location – The country in which your provider is headquartered will affect the laws surrounding your data.
  • Rights – Are you the owner of the data on your systems? Do you want to encrypt it, and do you have encryption keys that you want to use? Do you have a backup of the data? What is the process for purging the backup?
Today, malicious IT attacks are a concern for any organization. In the case of SMB, protection is especially critical, with 3 out of every 5 small business hacks resulting in bankruptcy. A cloud solution that use strong security parameters, as established in Microsoft’s checklist, can safeguard companies from harm.  

25% Off Linux & Windows Cloud Servers


New Year’s Resolution:

From Jan 6th to Jan 11th, save 25% on all your Linux and Windows Cloud Hosting needs.

That’s right. One month, Three months, Six Months or a Full Year of Cloud Servers at 25% off. Resolve to Save Money in 2014. Use Case Sensitive Coupon Code: NYRSaver2014

Please Note: Promo only applies to the three, six, nine or full year package purchased. The promo does not extend any further.



Contact: Brad Leibowitz

Tel: (973) 572-1070 ext. 605



Mirror Makes It Easier For Consumers To Download Urgent Fedora Updates

(The Hosting News) – On July 1, Solar VPS was named an official mirror for the Linux Operating System, Fedora. With the addition of Fedora to the Solar VPS auto populating mirror, anyone can now access the Solar VPS mirror website to download urgent and critical Fedora OS updates.

With the addition of Fedora to the Solar VPS mirror, the brands mirror page now contains mirrors for Fedora, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu and the Linux kernel. In the future, Solar VPS will continue to add mirrors for more open source projects. The new Fedora mirror will allow Solar VPS clients and non-clients to visit the established site experience priority download speeds of all updates and scroll through a bevy of previous updates which might be critical to their OS operations.


Cloud Expo Thoughts

So for the week, Solar VPS is at Cloud Expo. While we are here, our COO and President Ross Brouse is giving two speeches on Cloud Adoption through consumerism and how the Cloud is making data more secure – not less (one of them is a KEYNOTE address). While we are here we are demoing the SolarSystem. While we are here, we are giving out killer CosmoCredits to win up to a year of free hosting on us. While we are here we are playing SolarSystem A.I. – a game designed to show how simple the SolarSystem is to use. And oh yeah, while we are here, we are giving away Nerf Guns.

Cloud Expo Nerf Winners

Cloud Expo Nerf Winners

So it’s real simple, come on by the booth (#218), hang out and learn about Solar VPS. We are creating buzz. We are creating fun. We are creating Cloud consumers. We are hosting beyond the Cloud.

SolarVPS Booth in Action

SolarVPS Booth in Action

Free Tickets to Cloud Expo NYC 2013

Cloud Expo NYC 2013

A week from now, June 10th, Sys-Con’s Cloud Expo 2013 will kick off in NYC. The event, which is taking place in NYC’s Javits Center (655 W 34th St New York, NY), is a four day event featuring Cloud experts from all sectors of the IT industry, a variety of technical sessions, Cloud boot camps and the chance to win a bunch of cool booth giveaways like iPads, Google Nexus tablets, Nerf Guns…You know, all the cool gear us IT nerds love.

What to Expect From Solar VPS

Straight to the point: Solar VPS is a bronze sponsor of Cloud Expo NYC 2013. This means we will have a killer booth (#218) to meet and great the Cloud going public. However, more importantly, this means our COO and President, Ross Brouse, will be giving TWO technical sessions (June 10th, at 4:15 PM in room A107 and June 13th, at 4:20 – 5:05 PM in the main Keynote Room. Yes, Ross’s second speech will effectively end Cloud Expo NYC 2013!). His technical session, “The Cloud Under Your Nose: Adopting Cloud Solutions from the Couch to the Corporation” will cover how consumers are driving corporate Cloud adoption, how the BYOD movement is empowering employees everywhere and how the Cloud is making data more secure, not less.

So, how can you attend the show? How can you gain access to the full four day event, have access to 150 plus breakout sessions, all general sessions, Cloud Expo Power Panels, industry keynotes and the Cloud Expo show floor?

Cloud Expo Free Registration

The answer is simple…follow these steps and you are in:

  1. Go to our special registration page
  2. Fill out the Attendee Information form
  3. Select the VIP Gold Pass Registration Option
  4. Enter the Discount Code: solarvpsVIPgold OR fortressitxVIPgold
  5. Abracadabra! The price will drop down from $2,000 to $0 – what’s not to like?

See, we told you, easy peasy. Now, register for the show. Enjoy the four days. Meet with Cloud vendors from all across the globe. Attend some awesome general and keynote sessions. Walk the show floor and stop by the Solar VPS booth, #218. We have some cool games for you to play, some awesome prizes for you to win (a years worth of free Cloud Hosting, some awesome Nerf Guns and an iPad Mini) and some awesome guys and gals for you to chat with. We promise, we don’t bite. So come on by, register for free and attend Cloud Expo 2013 on Solar VPS. It’s our treat.