The Local Experts for Fast-Growing IT Needs

When reading our success stories, one could conclude that UCS is geared towards mid to large size businesses, school districts and government agencies. While many of these use UCS, and we are proud they trust us with their day-to-day IT operations, a large group of our customers are missing on this listing. These are your mom and pop shop down the road, the 3 person law office around the corner and the small non-profit in the neighborhood.

What makes small business customers distinct from the bigger ones?

After the Sale – A day with Univention’s Professional Services at customer migration

Kevin Dominik KorteOne of the most staggering experiences I had when transferring from our Professional Services team to North American management was that suddenly I got into the first line of contact with the potential customer. Suddenly the filter, which was the German Sales team, was gone and I had to handle all customer questions directly. It was a fascinating experience though, because I suddenly didn’t just have to do the work I was used to but also had to explain what our Consulting Team is usually doing and why the customer has to pay for it.

Will Easy Encryption Fix The Internet?

Rafael Laguna, CEO Open-Xchange AGInternet service providers have some thinking to do when it comes to the topic of encryption. Does encryption help you to build your business or does its complexity drive customers away? There’s an increasing awareness that encryption is hugely important, but very few people are using it regularly because it’s too complex. Why is encryption so important, and what can we do to drive adoption?

Bundestag Hack: Possible Backgrounds and Defense Methods

Bundestag Hack

Here at Univention, we are of course also concerned by the attack on the German parliament’s IT infrastructure, better known as the “Bundestag hack”. To recap: It appears that there were some bogus e-mails there including links to malware. A number of the Windows PCs in the Bundestag’s “Parlakom” network were or may still be infected with the malware, which is alleged to have searched for and copied certain confidential Word documents. According to a report in the Tagesspiegel (German) newspaper, this allowed the hackers to gain “administration rights for the infrastructure”. The attack was conducted as an “advanced persistent threat” or “APT attack” for short: in other words, a complex, multi-phase attack on the German parliament’s “Parlakom” IT network.

How IT systems can be taken over

There are a whole host of “classic” approaches for taking over IT systems, such as the exploitation of security vulnerabilities in the software, the interception or guessing of passwords (brute force attacks) and the cracking of password hashes. These methods are well known and it is comparatively simple to reduce the risk of such attacks’ being successful. The requisite measures are: regular, comprehensive and rapid installation of updates, encryption of sensitive data and network communication using state-of-the-art encryption standards, the use of sufficiently long passwords, logging of failed login attempts and blocking of user accounts with too many failed attempts, the use of salted password hashes (the salt converts two identical passwords into different hashes), iteration of the hash functions (rounds) and changing passwords regularly.

1 Year Univention North America: The Move across The Pond

140826_Kevin_Dominik_KorteWhen I started at Univention’s Professional Services in Germany, one of the questions I was asked was “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. Being prepared for the interview, my answer was a mixture of showing my idea of working with customers, my understanding of the technologies of UCS as well as my personal goals and dreams. Looking back to my answers in our HR folder, I have to admit that life has taken many turns that I didn’t plan for. Today, I’m no longer working in Professional Services. For a bit over a year, I’ve been Univention’s North American Operations dealing not only with technical projects but also with Sales, PR and Management as a whole.

What better chance is there to look back at the challenges and opportunities our move to the US has presented to us at Univention. I will look at the problems we could solve for our customers, the technical challenges UCS has mastered and how it changes us as a company when striving for perfection. For this reason, I’m happy to introduce this short series of blog posts looking back at the past and giving an outlook into the future:

Make money with Open Source software

Even today, the general consensus still stubbornly persists that Open Source software is developed by ponytailed computer geeks as a hobby in the middle of the night. It’s admittedly a very romantic notion, but one which only reflects the reality to a certain extent.

The Linux Foundation recently published a very interesting document on who actually contributes to the Linux kernel. Since 2005, some 11,800 individual developers from around 1,200 different companies have contributed to the Linux kernel. The fact that recently at least 88.2% of the improvements came from people who are also paid for this work – a growing trend – is proof that more and more IT professionals are also working on Linux.

First UCS Training in the United States

Blue skies, red sunset and a training room overlooking lake Washington. In this setting, the first UCS Training in the United States ended in Kirkland, WA, a Seattle suburb. Despite the initial challenge of offering training courses around the world, Univention North America welcomed the first participants to learn about the finer details of operating a domain based on Univention Corporate Server.

Problems of connecting to the various Amazon Cloud images were quickly solved and soon the participants and me, as their trainer, went into discussing the various questions from either the training or their production sides.

The advanced level of the participants quickly allowed for an in-depth look at more advanced topics such as Samba debugging and changing UMC templates, allowing both the participants and us as Univention to take home new insides into UCS as a product and the skills needed to run bigger domains.

Vijay Sankar, ForeTell Technologies Limited:

“Thanks again for your excellent class and for patiently answering all
sorts of questions.”

German “Gründlichkeit” (Thoroughness)

What’s the difference between us Germans and, let’s say Americans, if our spying or security agencies instruct the industry to provide them with all relevant data needed to “spy on friends”?

In keeping with tradition, we don’t do things informally. We document procedures in a proper contract that obliges all parties to confirm in writing that all information within the document is accurate and complete. What can we do, we are bureaucrats.

In the “Agency Contract ‘Transit'”, which has just been published, it is revealed that the German foreign intelligence service BND has been buying available “telecommunication” information from the Deutsche Telekom for a bargain of 6,800 EUR per month. That gives plenty of room for speculation about
the real reward.