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Leveraging the Power of SDI OS in Testing Environments

The possibilities and use cases offered by SDI OS are numerous and can be an invaluable part of any organization’s total cyber resilience. Specifically within a testing environment, SDI OS can provide organizations with a more tangible and quantifiable level of organizational readiness in the form of hands-on training, testing, and real-time feedback. The following are a few of the ways to take advantage of the capabilities of SDI OS and return a more tangible metric of an organization’s cyber resilience.

Integration of new or updated services and software are a routine aspect of most networked environments. High-availability, and system uptime are critical to an organization’s success and having production systems down due to new or updated services is never acceptable and is detrimental to the organization. Integration and compatibility testing can be facilitated using SDI OS without impacting an organization’s production environment. Testing that utilizes SDI OS, can highlight potential compatibility issues and reduce the likelihood of system downtime.

The smooth integration and interoperability between services and systems is only one aspect of a network’s readiness; the testing of organizational policies and procedures is another fundamental component. An organization’s ability to get hands-on testing of policies and procedures such as data backups and restoration, network redundancy, and system failover provides decision makers with a more accurate understanding of where the organization may need to adjust their current operating procedures.

A resilient organization not only understands the importance of system and network readiness, but the importance of having employees and leaders who also maintain a certain level of readiness. Utilizing SDI OS allows for hands-on training and testing for employees as well as giving leaders a unique perspective on the potential real-world impact their decisions have on an organization. Employee’s can train to react and handle numerous different situations, from phishing to power outages, while utilizing systems identical or similar to the ones used in production. Leaders who train using SDI OS will benefit, like the employees, from training in an environment that presents a more comprehensive, interactive, and real-world experience.

Testing environments should strive to replicate conditions that are true to life in order to maximize value. The capabilities of SDI OS can help maximize this value, especially within testing environments. System and service integration, organizational policy testing, and employee and leadership readiness testing, are a few ways that SDI OS can help an organization move closer to the goal of cyber resilience.

5 Things You Need to Know About SDI OS™

Software defined infrastructure as an operating system (SDI OS™) uses an intelligent combination of large datacenters and cloud computing with all the benefits of granular application control. The automated features, segmented cyber environments, and ease of use allow for a resilient and flexible architecture, making it the perfect structure for enterprise platforms. It combines all the control networks need and reaches out to the endpoints at the user level. When you combine all the resources needed for great networks into one platform, it sets the playing field for a cyber resilient computing solution.

1. Flexibility in a Platform

The software is designed as an operating system that is installed directly on the bare metal of x86 infrastructure. As a result, it is modifiable and enhanced with each new release. SDI OS™ can be installed on a minimal working environment, like a shippable desktop for conferences and can be distributed out to a large datacenter running many servers. It can run anywhere it can be installed, within a few minutes, making small to large cyber environments portable everywhere. The ease of installation and distribution allows for maximum flexibility with SDI OS™.

2. Fastest on the Market

SDI OS™ uses intelligent automation and recognition features that allow it to communicate with each cyber environment. The automated communication allows for syncing network information, clustering servers, load balancing, backup, and other services that enhance response for changes in each system. Recovery is also enhanced through complete environment copies that can be enabled instantly. Due to the flexible architecture and intelligent communications, resources are automatically balanced and efficiently managed. Running SDI OS™ as a platform is fast and efficient.

3. Adaptable Response Structure

Software should be able to respond to changes and reliably continue despite problems that may occur to the network or infrastructure. SDI OS™ is built to self provision and can be seamlessly integrated into other systems. The software is built with a unique layered and containered approach that allows changes and events that occur in one segment to stay isolated from other segments. Entire cyber environments can even be tested and developed, inside an SDI OS™ deployment and integrated into other environments or kept isolated, without disturbing the running system. The automated communication and self provisioning allows for ideal adaptability.

4. User Friendly Interface and Support

The user interface designed for SDI OS™ is simple and intuitive, allowing for easy installation, configuration, and management. Once installed, the running environment is easily managed and understood. The web interface enables connectivity for resource monitoring and administration. With the user interface, the software, cyber environments, layouts, and resources are readily available and well represented. The support team regularly updates videos and instruction manuals as well as solution briefs for any tickets a client may have. Providing a positive and refined experience allows for efficient business management.

5. Built-in Security for Cyber Resiliency

SDI OS™ is designed with end-to-end monitoring, granular role based control, hardware lockdown, built-in tools for integrating third parties, intelligent networking, and many other features that create a cyber resilient ecosystem. Intelligent and automated programming communicates to provide real-time uninterrupted services. Multiple levels of role based control and RESTful API authentication ensures smooth versioning flow and development. Environment checkpoints enable simple backups and snapshots, which can emulate an entire network, and restoring is simple and painless. SDI OS™ combines all the individual tools needed for a cyber resilient infrastructure and packages them into one robust operating system for a powerful and resilient enterprise.

Best practices for cyber range exercises

Today’s cyber reality is one in which companies and organizations, who wish to stay competitive and relevant, have to start considering cyber ranges as a critical component to their overall cyber resilience. Organizations that already implement some form of a cyber range know that the goal is to maximize the training value for each session. These top five best practices for cyber ranges can help to maximize that value and ensure organizations get the most out of their cyber range.

1. Have a Clear Exercise Plan

The training audience, instructors, observers, and any other participants should have a clear understanding of the current objective, scenario, and expectations. Everyone involved should also be aware in advance of the time and date of the training session. Confused or late participants and instructors only lead to wasted time, money, and effort.

2. Develop an Exercise Planning Cycle

The coordination and effort that is required for effective cyber range training necessitates advanced planning of the exercise. It is necessary to digitize as much of the envrionment as possible so exercises can quickly be adapted to support the latest threats and challenges. Developing an exercise planning cycle will help to ensure maximum value is gained from training using a cyber range.

3. Know the Training Audience

Keeping the training scenario as close to real life as possible is the best way to train. This means knowing who the training audience is and what they are probably going to face or encounter. Your accounting department should not have to configure an email server during their training. Cross-training is valuable and should be utilized but remember to try and keep it realistic. This unnecessary complication only leads to wasted resources and has a minimal return value.

4. Effective AAR and Documention

A major advantage of utilizing a cyber range is the ability to view actions and responses in real time and then review those after the exercise. Conducting after-action reviews with participants and being able to provide clear and accurate details is a crucial part of the training value. Good documentation is also invaluable for the instructors as they can not only give detailed feedback but also have the ability to see where individuals or groups might be lacking in certain areas.

5. Train Hard and Train Often

Scenario exercises should be taken seriously and all participants need to be prepared to respond and act as if the training was a real-life situation. Skills are perishable and should be refreshed and reviewed at regular intervals. There is little to no value gained when training occurs infrequently and individuals can not be expected to retain and implement a perishable skill set with which they have minimal experience.

Maximizing the training value of a cyber range is key to an organization's total cyber resilience. Implementing these top five best practices of cyber ranges will help ensure that organizations are prepared to face the threats of today and those of tomorrow.

Scaling Bare Metal wtih SDI OS

When a company changes their infrastructure to support their growth, nothing can be more exciting or daunting. It means they have a surplus of new clients and new revenue. It can also mean that new resources are needed to handle their increase in growth. When the growth is overpowering the physical requirements of the system, it is time for the company to scale. The challenges for scaling require consideration for not just the type of scaling, but also the future security and resilience of the company. Where do they begin?

What is Scaling?

Scaling refers to the process of expanding the company’s infrastructure. It can be done by adding resources to individual servers or by adding more servers to support the growth. When new servers are needed, they can be added both physically with new hardware or virtually with external services and virtualizers. Virtual scaling can be developed even further by using new physical resources to contain the virtual resources or by looking for cloud based virtual resources to scale externally.

Why not Physical Scaling?

Adding physical servers to the company can be very cost efficient. It is easy to purchase the equipment and the costs for maintaining and updating the servers are minimal. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for IT technicians to configure the new infrastructure into the running network and may take some time to set up. They have to configure all the proper operating systems and database management systems that will be used for each device before merging them into the preexisting infrastructure.

Why not use Virtual Scaling then?

Implementing virtual servers through external cloud based services is generally configured by the partnering service, which can create less work for the IT department. However, it can become complicated when a company implements services from multiple virtualizers or server systems to maintain the services. They must monitor and keep track of all the policies of each outsourced service along with ensuring that they are upholding their maintenance and security. The price for outsourcing virtualized servers can also build up rapidly, leaving a small business wondering why they scaled in the first place.

Realistically, they still need the increased services, but how can they get them without overwhelming the IT department or increasing prices beyond a reasonable budget? The solution is to use a resilient blend of physical and virtualized infrastructure.

Try a Software Platform Built for Infrastructure

Take all the advantages of affordable physical services and configure it with the advantages of virtual ease. Software Defined Infrastructure can be installed onto bare metal physical servers and configured to run almost anything, anywhere, with a simple configuration process. Not only is a SDI easy and fast to configure, but it is a hardened, cyber resilient, holistic environment that uses automated features to enhance cyber security. It enables cyber resilience from the moment it is installed on the bare metal of the infrastructure.

Organizations need to start building and scaling business with cyber security in the business model to create a cyber resilient organization. Implementing infrastructure that is custom tailored for cyber resilience will enhance business continuity and significantly reduce the costs for scaling and configuration complications. Many of the configuration complications disappear, when the infrastructure growth is built upon an automated platform that can be configured directly on the bare metal of the physical server. The simplicity of deploying a platform that can run anything, gives organizations the freedom to scale and manipulate architecture, without gaudy costs or complicated configurations.

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Resiliency is a popular trending term describing anything from personality traits to business enterprise models, but what does it really mean to be resilient?

So what is cyber resiliency?

Cyber resiliency is an ever evolving construct directed around ensuring the security, recoverability, and continuity of systems and networks in the context of their value to the company. More specifically, a cyber resilient company can adequately train and maintain the readiness of their resources and personnel, rapidly adjust the system or network requirements when failures and damages occur, and continue business interactions regardless of the threat event. This means that a company has a strong grasp on the value of each resource exposed during a disaster and a solid order of operations for how to keep the system or network safe, using multiple contingency plans. As a result, a strong cyber resilient business plan would allow the company to continue to grow and become stronger, just like a person might, in the face of adversity.

How do you apply cyber resiliency?

Think of cyber resiliency as a cycle of continuity and growth. This cycle relies on four major steps that continuously revolve to drive a company toward success.

The Cycle of Cyber Resiliency
Prepare - Adapt - Respond - Recover

Prepare: The first step in any cycle. In order for someone to walk, they must first learn to stand. They must be prepared to walk. Few people go from sitting to walking without first standing, just as few companies go from small office software development to conglomerate business-to-business advertising without growing pains. To be resilient, they must prepare for obstacles like building location changes and power failures, just as a child would prepare for corners and slippery floors. But those steps are just the basic disaster recovery plan objectives.

A cyber resilient company must develop an entirely new set of preparation objectives based on the the perspective of online continuity and safety. This continuity and safety is not just serving business from an ecommerce site and protecting the data transferred or stored, but also keeping a gps coordinated driverless car connected with safety fallback features, in case the location system is interrupted or hacked. An organization must be fully prepared for resources to fail, ensuring instinctual responses for maximum safety and continuity.

Adapt: When we think of adaptation, we think of changing or adjusting a behavior or response because an obstacle has stopped our ability to do it. For instance, suppose someone eats two eggs and toast every morning for breakfast, but someone else comes along and eats the last two eggs. Now that person has to compromise and eat something else. A resilient company might do the same by moving from an unsafe location to a safe one because of a natural disaster. Adaptation takes many roles and for cyber resiliency it defines how a business will change for the protection and safety of the user, data, or device to ensure that operations will continue smoothly.

Respond: Typically when in a resiliency cycle, the third phase tends to have focus on withstanding a disaster, but really the focus should be on the response. A person does not just sit around while a dog bites them, waiting for it to be over, and a company does not just sit by until all the data from a server is stolen, they respond. For a company, responding to a disaster may be a well developed plan or a last minute fumble depending on the preparation. The response could be disconnecting a system, or moving to a backup generator for power, but from a cyber resiliency perspective it may involve an entirely different approach to prevent failover and safety. Instead of rushing to make backups and find secondary devices to start, the company may have already initiated a response. They may isolate the critical system from the failing system, preemptively start a recovery to a backup device, and initiate any failsafe mechanisms that prevent harm or loss of damage, ultimately staying ahead of the disaster.

Recover: In a resilient system, recovery involves addressing the failures, articulating the improvements, and sharing the lessons learned after a disaster. This process may include identifying key components and the roles they play in the system, including their value and mission critical priority. If a person went skiing and brought a jacket with a poor chill rating, they might recover by creating a plan that involves bringing a warmer jacket for the next trip and never using the cold one in the future. Losing power at a corporate facility because of a flood might lead the company to create a backup site or create clusters in the cloud that allow continuous operations regardless of local damage. Due to the nature of hardware and software design, disaster and vulnerabilities are inevitable, and so it is vital to develop a recovery strategy that improves upon each previous response.

Why does it matter?

As cyber security risks and vulnerabilities increase, so too must the strategies used to combat them. A company must become more than just resilient and ready for disaster, but cyber resilient. They must be ready for any disaster, any time that will also include online and networking critical hardware and software for safety and security. Readiness and preparedness will not be enough. They must be ready for it to happen again and again. Cyber resiliency is a cycle of combating disaster, not an event. Adopting the cycle will ensure that business continuity will prevail, as the champion amongst disaster.