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How to use BSM to Prioritize Important Issues

We all want our monitoring systems to alert us when things go wrong. While it’s important to get alerts in the event of a failure or latency problem on something specific such as a SQL database, it’s actually just as important to not receive alerts from too many specific sources in the same alerting channel. If our monitoring system starts to fatigue us, we will ignore alerts until the phone calls and Emails from end users start letting us know a service is impaired or unavailable. Our monitoring solution should notify us both about specific failures in general and major issues, so we can differentiate and prioritize.

A single event, such as max processes in use on a database may not in itself be a problem that needs to be addressed on an emergency basis. A combination of events, though, such as a high value of max processes, a large amount of network discards, and slow response time for an http request can indicate a more general problem that is currently impacting the end users. We can easily monitor all of these conditions individually.

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Part 2 of our Blog series on certificates focuses on a practical matter: using the free Let’s Encrypt certificates to secure servers that may not be publicly available, but still need better security than self-signed certs can give you. 

As we explained in our last blog on this subject, to use HTTPS encryption with certificates, you can choose from a number of options:

  • self-signed certificate
  • a cert from a private Certificate Authority (CA), in this case, you or your company run the CA, not a trivial task!
  • a certificate signed by a Root CA you trust

GroundWork supports any of these (or even two at once on the same server). What you choose to use depends on a lot of things, like your tolerance for trust failure reports in your browser from self-signed or private CA certificates. Basically, only root-signed certs are trusted by browsers out-of-the-box, so unless you want to deal with users reporting and complaining about those failures, and explaining how to explicitly trust the certs you use, it’s best to use certs signed by a Root CA.

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Lately, security has become top of mind across infrastructure monitoring customers. This is no surprise considering the widespread reports about supply-chain vulnerabilities and embedded compromises rampant in popular network monitoring software. In light of this, we want to underscore how seriously we have always taken our security processes, and how we cultivate a culture based on a foundation of sound security protocols.

We strive to be good stewards of our customer’s data and take great pains to ensure we are always on the bleeding edge of security best practices. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, which is why we integrate secure processes into the development and deployment of GroundWork, and immediately respond to feedback and suggestions from customers. In this post we outline 7 ways in which our security policies manifest within the platform and our company culture.

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Looking Inside TLS Certificates

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The Difficulty of Dealing with Certs

In the last decade, it has become increasingly important to secure websites and applications using HTTPS instead of HTTP. A GroundWork Monitor installation is no exception, so in GroundWork 8, using HTTPS to access the system is the default setup, and you can add TLS certificates to it that you generate or purchase. See Adding Certificates to HTTPS for more information on doing so. TLS (Transport Layer Security) is the successor to the now-obsolete SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), and TLS certificates support the companion protocol that uses modern cryptography to ensure your HTTPS data on the wire cannot be usefully seen by or altered by third parties.

When dealing with certificates, there are many technical questions about how to efficiently and effectively manage the security setup on a web application. While GroundWork does offer several ways to manage certs and system naming, it’s important at the start to make sure you have the right certificates to begin with. To that end, this post describes a small tool we have developed to assist in this process. Future blog posts and documentation pages will cover additional aspects of the security setup on GroundWork systems.

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Detecting Sunburst Network Traffic

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What is Sunburst?

Recent news reports of widespread infiltration of IT systems and the possibility of exfiltration of data are very concerning, and always brings up the questions:

  • How did this happen?
  • What can be done to prevent this from happening to us?
  • How can we monitor our own systems to ensure they are not currently compromised?

In case you haven’t already seen a description, “Sunburst” is malicious code which attaches itself to legitimate libraries, installs itself as a service, then reaches out to command-and-control remote network infrastructure to prepare a second stage of attack: to move throughout the environment and compromise or exfiltrate data. Pretty nasty stuff, and we should all be concerned.

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Monitoring Oracle Database

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Monitoring Oracle Database with Linux GDMA

GroundWork Monitor makes it simple to monitor the health of Oracle databases, whether the need is simple monitoring of availability or for capacity planning purposes.

Oracle databases may be monitored either directly on the Oracle host or from a different host, using the GroundWork Distributed Monitoring Agent (GDMA). In both scenarios, SQL queries are used to provide the data from the database. This offers flexibility in that any Oracle query you create that returns a numerical result can be monitored as well as measured. As database monitoring needs vary on the organizational level – and even the database level, this flexibility is important.

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Amoeba Networks & GroundWork Monitor Enterprise

The Challenge

Amoeba Networks’ customers have on-premise and cloud infrastructure that cannot be allowed to go down under any circumstances. For this reason, the team at Amoeba holds themselves to an almost impossible standard of excellence. Through the use of strict, high-availability Service Level Agreements (SLA) they give “ their customers peace-of-mind that their systems will always be up and running. Their monitoring software is a critical piece of their operations because even a couple of minutes of downtime per year would break their SLA…

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Prometheus

Prometheus is a popular open-source systems monitoring and alerting project. The project is a member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, joining in 2016 as the second hosted project, after Kubernetes. In this blog, we will demonstrate how to implement Application Performance Monitoring (APM) using the Prometheus GoLang client libraries API and de-facto standard data transport model to feed monitoring metrics into the GroundWork Monitor 8 server. Since we are doing application performance monitoring, this article will have coding examples.

Prometheus has become a very popular instrumenting library for measuring application performance in microservices, especially in Cloud Native applications. Typical measurements in microservices are instrumented on application end points, measuring request count and response time metrics. 

Before we get started writing code, let’s introduce the Prometheus metrics basics.
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How to install GroundWork Monitor 8

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Got 7 minutes?

This video, just 7 minutes long, demonstrates a GroundWork Monitor 8 installation.

For this demo we perform a new install for a standalone type installation on a Linux server with Ubuntu 18.04, and have decided on the hostname ip-10-4-50-199.gwos. This install starts out with some system preparation, proceeds to install Docker, and then prepares and runs the GroundWork Installer.

Before you begin your own installation, please refer to the full installation documentation on the GroundWork Support portal. You will need to follow important instructions for all sections including Pre Install, Install, and Post Install.

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Single Source of Truth

A monitoring system is a shared tool. It’s useful for teams to operate from the same source of information, since subjective opinions can lead insights astray, especially when troubleshooting systems and network issues. You need a single source of truth. 

A monitoring dashboard with drill-down capability is a basic tool for any NOC staff. Often displayed on kiosks or wall-mounted in the Network Operations Center (NOC), dashboards let you know at a glance whether anything needs attention. 
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