Horse Sense #118

Startling Numbers and Safety Tips

Tips to Keep Yourself and Your Data Safe:

3-2-1 Rule of Backup: Make 3 complete copies of your data, keep them on at least 2 separate systems, and have at least 1 offsite. Hardware will fail. Humans make mistakes. Using the 3-2-1 rule will help reduce the risk of data loss and/or the high costs of using a data recovery service. But what if you have a really good on site backup? ioSafe makes fire and waterproof hard drive enclosures and disk arrays which will protect your data in case of a fire. We also recommend ioSafe products for use in harsh environments. Even ioSafe wants you to follow the 3-2-1 rule.

To keep your cables orderly and easy to work with, try the following: While it may not look sexy, toilet paper or paper towel cardboard tubes can help keep your cables together. Zip ties can work well to bundle cables together, but people tend to tighten them too much, crimping the cables. Also, adding a removing a zip tie bundled cable is a problem since those ties can be tough to cut. Instead, try using a twist tie like that on a loaf of bread. You can hold the cables together, it will not be too tight, and you can unwind it and add or delete cables as you wish. Twist ties are not very strong, so when you are cabling a bunch of cables together, like in a data center, zip ties or, better, wide Velcro straps are the way to go. To keep cables from falling off your desk that you need to plug into something, consider using a big binder clip attached to the desk. You can either run cables through the space between the desk and the back of the clip (do NOT pinch the cables by clamping them with the clip) or put them through the "handles" of the clip itself. Obviously, there are lots of other tricks to getting cables where you want them safely in different environments. Ask us your question.

Keep your cables safe: Computer and electrical cables are more delicate than you think. Depending on the cable, it can be sensitive to light, heat, age, and solvents. All cables have a certain bend radius. Do not crimp or kink cables. If you bend them too sharply, they may develop micro fractures or even break. Winding cables tightly is a bad idea. While you can pull on a cable, doing so can also cause it to fracture or break. NEVER pull computer or power cables out by their cords, use the connectors instead. Connectors are designed to withstand the stress. Pulling on a power cable can expose the wires creating a fire or shock hazard.

All cables need to be kept safe from animals, like humans. Any cable can be a trip hazard. A single trip can hurt a person or cost thousands of dollars. Route cables away from people. A little extra cable is a good idea. It allows you to move the cable without stressing it. Never tie a cable to a piece of furniture or anchor it with furniture. Always call before digging. No cables are safe from Johnny Backhoe.

Keep data safe in your cables: When routing your cables, keep your low voltage computer and high voltage power cables separate. Electromagnetic radiation from electrical cables, transformers, and power supplies can interfere with signals in video cables, Ethernet cables, etc. So, if you bunch your cables together, bunch the power cables together separately from everything else. If you must cross your power and computer cables, crossing them at right angles is best. Keep low and high power cables separated by 6 inches or more if you can. Electromagnetic interference decreases markedly with distance. Adding a "choke" or magnet around your computer cabling can help keep out unwanted interference. You will often see chokes built into higher end monitor cables. Speakers also have strong magnets in them which can distort signals. You can often correct ghosting and other problems in a monitor by moving power cables or speakers away from video cables.

Your Data and Your Privacy Are Not as Safe as You Might Think

From one of the bigger hard disk recovery companies: "About 80% of standard spinning hard drives will live to reach their fourth birthday. After that, their rate of survival starts to quickly slide downhill at a rate of about 12% per year. That means that 50% of spinning drives will not make it six years. Currently, solid-state drives have an even lower life expectancy." We still recommend solid state over spinning drives for most applications these days. As always, our advice is the same, back up your data! What should you do if you have to keep something around for a long time? Archival optical media now exists that will retain data for 100 years.

How do you move large amounts of data around safely? Put the data on encrypted hard drives and arrays. Ciphertex offers encrypted portable drives and drive arrays so you can move large amounts of valuable data around safely. The movie industry uses Ciphertex drives to move unfinished scenes around all the time.

Are employees, contractors, or visitors connecting to your network whether you allow it or not? Egnyte notes that 89% of employees have mobile devices connected to corporate networks. 65% of all companies and 68% of American small companies allow personal mobile devices to connect to the network. 78% of companies report twice as many employee owned devices connected to their networks in 2014 versus 2012. More than 1/3 of businesses will stop providing portable devices for their workers by 2016 and allow employees to use their own. How are you managing these devices to keep your network safe, secure, and performing well, while keeping "junk" use to a minimum?

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Google, Facebook, and other companies offer you free access to their services but....if you are worried about the information the NSA has on you, it is nowhere close to what these companies have on you. Even some advertisers are worried about what information these companies collect, because it might be used against them later: Remember that anything you put on the web stays there forever. Any privacy you give away in exchange for free services does have a cost, and that cost may be that anyone who pays these companies or other data miners may know all kinds of things about you. The best defense is to run ad and script blocking software in your browser, to discourage cookies with do not track flags, and to use services that promise to keep your information private, like the search company Duck Duck Go. If you want to give up some privacy for free stuff, that is OK. Just remember that nothing in life is really free....

Do You Do This?

Want to make your organization stronger? Try to look like this:

E mail habits you should break: I will also add putting a return receipt on an e mail. Many servers are configured to just toss these, so they do not work anyway. If you need to be sure someone did see your e mail, ask for a reply to tell you they have read it, even if they have no questions.

©2015 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse