How Your Friends & Family Increase Your Risk of Identity Theft

A call, a dodgy website, an impressively themed pop-up – most of us know how tech support scams work, and most of us probably think we’ve got it covered. So how did I end up on the phone to LifeLock, IdentityForce, Experian, Equifax, my banks and my immigration lawyer, in an ordeal so frustrating I’m dedicating an entire blog post to it?

My Mum.

Turns out, our digital risk extends further than our own machines. There are more questions we should be asking, including, “How many people do we know that might be susceptible to digital theft?” And , “How would this affect us?”

Most people I’ve spoken to initially told me they don’t store any private files on their machines. A little probing reveals they do, because they recently renewed their passport, lost their driving license, or confirmed their ID with the bank.

My Mum got caught out by a ‘Microsoft’ pop up. She gave their technical team a call on the number given, and by the time she worked out she wasn’t speaking to Microsoft, they had ran through a barrage of tasks, installed some software and deleted a few bits and pieces. Of course, they charged her for it.

“At best, the software is worthless or available elsewhere for free. At worst, it could be malware — software designed to give criminals access to your computer and your personal information.” FTC

I found out about the mistake several days later in an email containing a list of documents of mine that were on the computer in question. Shortly after, I received a second email as the list increased in size. From forwarding a bank related letter via email, to scanning my birth certificate for my green card application, all my info was on there for one reason or another.

“Tech support scams are a million-dollar industry and have been around since 2008. Every single day, innocent people are tricked into spending hundreds of dollars on non-existent computer problems.” MalwareBytes

It is impossible to fully protect ourselves and others against these attacks, even if you think you personally would never fall for them. As we continue to churn out solutions and educate inexperienced users, there is no doubt the bad guys will come up with more innovative ways of tricking our friends and family.

But that shouldn’t stop us from trying.

Our software has always been designed to use spare space on existing computers to provide highly secure and self healing drives in minutes. While businesses typically deploy it across many machines for these reasons, the encryption, locking and invisibility features could be just as vital to home users with just one or two computers. AetherStore can be downloaded, installed, set up and ready to go in under 5 minutes. If you don’t believe us, watch this 2-minute setup video.

There are a number of other companies and open source projects that provide a service like this, but I believe we have the most straightforward solution to understand, setup, and maintain. We follow the core AetherStore principles: give your drive a name, size, drive letter, and enter a password. Then if there’s anything you’d like to have secured in your computer, store it in your AetherStore.

We’ve decided to offer a 25GB store for free so everyone (and their friends and relatives) can take advantage of this. You can download AetherStore 2.0 here.

It seems that the most popular analogy on the web for having an encrypted drive on your machine is of a house having re-enforced front doors. But looking at this situation, I don’t see it like that. This is an extra line of defense. You might make a mistake and let a dodgy salesperson into your house, but would you open your safe?

Storage On Demand: Education

The Systems Administrator at the University of  Kentucky – College of Architecture Agriculture oversees a 300 PC environment within the robust university network, including a storage server holding custom programs, downloads, installs and ghost images.


With the storage server full, the team looked to increase capacity and ran into the following issues:

  • High cost: significant capital outlay and long term commitment
  • Complexity and resource drain: configuration and maintenance of new hardware

SAN solutions were unrealistic due to budget restrictions. The team also considered NAS products but ultimately sought to avoid purchasing new hardware in general, as it consumed additional physical space and required a significant time investment to set up and maintain.

Solution: AetherStore Deployment

  • Phase One: 8 PCs > 1.2 TB raw storage
  • Phase Two: 200+ PCs > 30 TB raw storage

The team first installed AetherStore on eight machines to open up 1.2 TB of raw storage, effectively doubling previous capacity by utilizing only a fraction of their PCs.  Image data from the department’s storage server will be migrated to the AetherStore drive, freeing up capacity on the server and ensuring the images are stored in a reliable location for the long term.

“AetherStore is a unique product that serves up terabytes of space, in minutes, on hardware I already had.”

– Systems Administrator, UK College of Agriculture

The next stage of their AetherStore deployment will involve pooling space from over 200 PCs, opening up an estimated 30+TB of raw storage.  In addition to storing image files, AetherStore will be used as backup for a number of the department’s other files.  With standard features including built-in redundancy, in-line deduplication and encryption, AetherStore’s value eclipsed exponentially more expensive, hardware-based storage alternatives.

Check out AetherStore in your environment – your first 25GB Free!

How to Create an Encrypted, Redundant Drive in Minutes

At this point, our businesses and even our personal lives would be nearly impossible to run without our data. Not backing it up properly or trusting the wrong service to do it for us is no longer an option. Luckily, features that used to come with enterprise-grade prices and complexity are now available to anyone with a computer. Here’s how to create your own encrypted, redundant, chunked, password-protected drive with AetherStore in minutes.

To Get Started: Install AetherStore on your computers with spare storage. You’ll notice an optional AetherStore Bridge component in the installer, you only need to include this component on machines you’ll use to set up and manage AetherStore.

1. Launch AetherStore Bridge to Start Creating Your Store

Open the AetherStore Bridge and select “Create Store”. Choose a name for your Store.


2. Select Store Size

Choose the size of your Store. The percentages below each option indicate the percentage of free space on each machine that will be allocated to AetherStore. By default, AetherStore will replicate your data four times. 


  • For added customization: choose “Use Custom Create”. From there you can view each one of your machines, include or exclude them from the Store, and set exactly how much space you want each of them to contribute. You can also change the replication factor in Custom Create.

3. Select Mount Machine

Pick the mount machine for your drive: this is the computer that will be able to view and access the Store. You can change the mount machine after your Store is deployed, or at any time, from the Manage Stores page. Assign any drive letter not currently in use.


4. Create Store

Click “Create Store”. You’ll be promoted to set a password for your Store. Once entered, hit “Deploy”, and that’s it! You’ve created an encrypted, redundant, password-protected Store drive.


Check out your new Store on the mount machine, and use it just like you would any other drive.Mounted drive pic

Sign up for access to AetherStore 2.0 here:

AetherStore Named Most-Promising Storage Solution Provider

AetherStore was proud to be recognized by CIO Magazine as one of 2016’s most promising storage solutions.

Check out the feature below, and try the AetherStore 2.0 Early Release for yourself!

AetherStore Most Promising

AetherStore: Delivering Software-Defined Storage for All

Organizations are creating more data than they can store. To keep up, firms need fast access to secure, affordable storage, and there’s no more efficient way to meet demand than to use existing hardware to its full potential. Fueled by advancements made in computer network and storage virtualization, enterprises are recognizing the advantages of scalability within their own infrastructure. New York, NY based AetherWorks’ solution, AetherStore, enables organizations to pool unused space on workstations and servers into a robust, secure drive, turning would-be wasted space into an enormous data storage opportunity.

“Our customers get a super-low RTO simply by using AetherStore as part of their Disaster Recovery (DR) plan.”


AetherStore offers cloud-like storage on premise for customers, providing the flexibility of public cloud along with all the security and availability benefits of onsite storage. AetherStore is a pure software-defined storage solution, a downloadable product that is hardware agnostic and runs on any Windows machine from XP to Windows 10. Robert MacInnis, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of AetherWorks, believes that onsite storage is of the utmost importance when it comes to speed and reliability for data. “When disaster strikes, having an onsite copy is way faster to recover from than a cloud replica,” says Maclnnis. “Our customers get a super-low RTO simply by using AetherStore as part of their Disaster Recovery (DR) plan.”

AetherStore users are able to create a drive in minutes with the desired amount of storage, which can be further increased or decreased by adding or removing machines on demand. Customers use AetherStore by downloading and installing the Core on machines with extra space, and the Dashboard on the device from which they will manage their space. The solution provides built-in redundancy, storing four copies of each data chunk across the machines in a client’s network. AetherStore is also inherently self-healing and will recopy data to active nodes to proactively maintain 4x replication without any manual intervention. AetherStore encrypts data in transit and at rest, and only the administrator has access to the drive. AetherStore also provides deduplication for added efficiency.

Clients across verticals are creating storage on demand using only their existing hardware with AetherStore, while staying within budget. In one such instance, one of the company’s clients at a large university was facing a shortage of storage space as well as budget constraints to purchase new hardware. The university installed AetherStore on their machines and reclaimed over 30 terabytes of storage space for onsite backup, saving many tens thousands of dollars and the headache that comes with pursuing additional hardware like a SAN.

AetherStore empowers its users with such advantages as saving time (setting up an AetherStore drive can be done in as little as 90 seconds after installation) cost efficiency, and the added security benefit of having no central points of failure. AetherStore also provides peace of mind against the rising threat of ransomware, as the software will never transmit corrupted data between machines, ending any malicious entrances into the network at the source. Looking to the future, AetherStore also holds much promise in the vast ecosystem that is the Internet of Things. “There are opportunities, like utilizing the spare computational resources available at edges, and managing the geographical proximity of data and computation,” explains Maclnnis. “But we’ll keep those under our hat as we look to explore core IoT industry partnerships in the upcoming months.”

See what AetherStore can you for your environment! Check out the AetherStore 2.0 Early Release. 

What is Fog Computing and Why Should You Care?

Our CEO & Founder at AetherWorks, Robert MacInnis, Ph.D., led a round table on Fog Computing at MangoCon, an IT Conference held in New York earlier this month. Having recently secured a patent for their work in Fog Computing[1], MacInnis and the AetherWorks team are leading the charge on resource efficiency in IoT.

At the round table, MacInnis discussed the dramatic rise of IoT and the resource challenges presented by all those new connected devices. On projections that up to 50 billion networked devices will be storing and transmitting data by 2020, MacInnis issued a warning Game of Thrones fans understand well: “IoT Winter is coming.”

Connected Devices GraphMost of the 5.5 million connected devices Gartner says are being added every day in 2016 are programmed to dump data to the cloud, “because it’s easy,” says MacInnis. “But data transmission, retention and compute time become prohibitively expensive at that kind of scale.” Meaning despite cloud’s landless connotation, it’s ultimately comprised of storage hardware with a mailing address, which may be half a world away from the IoT device trying to communicate with it. Multiply that scenario by tens of billions of new devices and bandwidth becomes a serious problem. Especially considering only a minuscule percentage of IoT data will ever be used, MacInnis makes a logical point: “Shipping data across the world just to drop it is ridiculous.”

The solution? MacInnis proposes a simple one: “Process data closer to where it is produced.”

Enter Fog Computing, which he defines as “the set of systems, services, and architectural patterns that enable the optimization of the geographical proximity of data and computation.”

“The future,” he says, is the “dynamic consumption of geographically appropriate compute resources.”

Stay in the loop! Sign up for the latest in Fog Computing, and early access to projects like AetherWorks’ resource-saving storage software, AetherStore.

[1] MacInnis, Robert. “Systems and Methods for the Demand-driven Deployment of Location-neutral Software.” US Patent 9,055,026. 9 June 2015.

Optimizing Partner On-Boarding

AetherStore is thrilled to be growing our Partner Program in 2016, and a smooth on-boarding process is vital to setting new Partners up for success. While no two Partners have the same schedule or preferences when it comes to evaluating new products, we’ve gathered their feedback and tested a variety of forms and phone calls to improve the experience. Using the five key findings outlined below, we designed an intake process that gives Partners everything they need to evaluate AetherStore on their own schedule.

Try it out! Step One: Start your AetherStore Partner Trial

  • Partners should be able to access information without waiting on a sales team: Our Partners’ number one priority is providing excellent service to their clients, which means researching new products often fits in after business hours. This became even more apparent when we started noticing a spike in AetherStore introduction calls scheduled on holiday weekends! To accommodate this, Partners can access the software and all educational resources in the portal the moment they sign up – no waiting on a sales team to grant access.
  • Not everyone enjoys phone calls as much as vendors: A phone call used to be a prerequisite for starting an AetherStore trial. For us, it’s still the best way to understand business needs and share our vision for AetherStore. However, for those who prefer working solely over email or through the Portal resources, there’s no mandatory call to begin selling AetherStore. Instead we’ve added a scheduling tool Partners can use to plan a call on their own time. We’ve found both parties get more out of the conversation this way, and we look forward to continuing to speak with each and every one of our Partners!
  • As a vendor we need enough information to perform our own due diligence: All AetherStore Partners become our business Partners. We want to work with those who see the same incredible business opportunity we do in making unused storage a thing of the past. A sign up form enables us to a) ensure inquiries are credible and b) learn enough about each business to provide the appropriate support, marketing and sales information. By entering some essential details to get started, Partners let us know they’re serious about establishing a successful AetherStore business.
  • There has to be a free trial for Partners (and their customers): Free trials have always been part of our sales process. In our earlier days, free trials were a necessity to help educate users about our new technology. Now they’re equally important for Partners, who need to use our product before recommending it to clients. Partners access a 45-day trial immediately when they sign up, which becomes a free NFR copy upon signing our resale agreement. AetherStore Partners also have the ability to generate their own additional, 7-day trial licenses for clients straight through the Partner Portal.
  • Sales minimums shouldn’t prevent anyone from becoming a Partner: Partners can request a reseller agreement as soon as they’re comfortable selling and supporting the product, even if they haven’t made their first sale. Our job is to help Partners build a successful AetherStore business, which means providing access to everything they need to be successful right from the start!

Let us know what you think! Start your AetherStore Partner Evaluation now.

The Storage Resource You’re Not Using

When was the last time you thought of a computer workstation as a storage resource?

Workstations typically ship with a minimum of 500 GB storage, yet usage information from AetherStore users proves that, until now, data was stored everywhere except on workstations. It’s not necessarily surprising, as storage trapped on individual drives provides little value; but how much storage is accumulating as a result?

We gathered data from 520 machines running AetherStore, including both workstations and servers, to see just how much office storage was underutilized:

Average % Available Space per Machine: 73%

Average GB Space Per Machine: 352 GB 

Computer w Space

Multiplied by the number of machines in your office, you can imagine how quickly this available storage adds up. In fact, on the 520 AetherStore machines in this data set, there were over 180 terabytes of unused storage space! Imagine how much 180+ terabytes of onsite storage could cost if you had to purchase it outright.

The data makes it apparent just how much storage offices already have when provided the technology to combine and manage it effectively. AetherStore customers in this data set included anywhere between 4 and 65 machines in their deployments, and reclaiming storage resources was surprisingly simple. In fact, the speediest of our users were able to get AetherStore up and running in under eight minutes, creating a multi-terabyte drive in less time than it takes to boil an egg.

Average Number Machines per Store: 9

Average Space Available per Deployment: 3.2 TB

creating store

No matter what size your office is, if you have a few minutes and some workstations you have everything you need to start rapidly increasing usable storage capacity. You’ve already paid for the hardware – now you can finally use your space!

Get in touch with AetherStore and find out how much storage is waiting for you in your own network!

Backup for Disaster Recovery

“Backup storage that just works is my primary goal for getting AetherStore into production.”

– Brant Wells, Wellston Technology

Wellston Technology will deploy AetherStore as a central part of their Backup and Disaster Recovery strategy at a client site with 350 machines, producing storage for redundant backup. Brant Wells, Owner & Lead Technologist, leads the AetherStore implementation.

Existing Pain Points:

“In the past, I have dealt with problems where the backup and storage was consistently requiring maintenance, and unreliable in general.” Often, important data was shipped offsite to remote locations, leaving Brant unsure what was actually backed up and how. His biggest pain points were:

  • Uncertainty and lack of visibility into status of backups
  • Constant maintenance required for existing backups
AetherStore Deployment:

Brant’s first AetherStore installation was a test environment across four nodes, creating a 30GB Store for smaller backup and CD/DVD images. They also have a small set of random software packages available on the Store. Going forward, Brant will expand the size of his Store across more of the 350 client machines to host a much larger backup, and add additional software packages to his Store.

  • Ease of Management: “I was able to install and manage my first Store within minutes after getting the installations done.”
  • Reliability of Storage: “It is nice not to have to worry about losing a node or disk and have it ruin your night’s backups. With AetherStore, we are able to sleep at night knowing we have a good backup storage.”

“The setup process was simple: install the storage package on any number of nodes, and install the Dashboard on one of them. Mount the drive and share it via Windows. I love that I can also push and manage the installations with apps like PDQ Deploy. No muss, no fuss. It just worked!”

Simple Setup

“With AetherStore, we are able to have a reliable storage location for our backups that makes it easy to house backup images and restore from backup when necessary. We don’t have to worry about whether or not the backup will belly-up if we lose a single (or more than one!) hard drive.”