CPUG: The Check Point User Group

Resources for the Check Point Community, by the Check Point Community.


** Announcing the #CPUGchallenge **

I'm very happy to announce that CPUG will be hosting "The CPUG Challenge" during CPX this year.
It promises to be a fun and interesting event that will test (and maybe even expand) your knowledge of Check Point.
Whether or not you plan to attend CPX, we have something for you. Please check out this post or the CPUGchallenge.com web site for more information. -E

 

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Thread: Welcome back!

  1. #1
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    Default Welcome back!

    * Last minute preface: I in no way expect everyone to read this in its entirety. If you're here to take part in the forum, just skip this and move on (or skim for a heading that's interesting to you). However, please take a more thorough look/search before asking questions about the site transition, myself, or other issues that may be answered herein.


    What happened?
    For reasons that I'll let Barry explain himself (further down in this post), he needed to shut down CPUG while working out an agreement to transfer the site to someone else. Essentially Netanium (my employer) has purchased CPUG (domains, trademark, site content, etc.) and I have taken on the role of site/group administrator, maintainer, over seer, whatever.

    However, I feel that it’s very important to stress our firm belief that the actual content of this site belongs to the community that created it. We have no plans to make any changes to the free and open exchange of communication, information and assistance that this site offers. Your content is and will continue to be yours.

    The new sponsorship of the site will offer a very stable and reliable home for the foreseeable future. If anything, the additional resources that we can offer could allow the site to thrive and even expand in some very interesting ways (like mobile apps and the expansion of CPUGcon). The return for Netanium: simple, unobtrusive advertising (no more than CPUG is used to) and the promotion of our excellent Check Point training services (nothing new there either).


    What happened to Barry? (in his own words)
    Message from CPUG Founder and now Former CPUG Owner Barry Stiefel:

    After 14 years of running CPUG and its many websites and activities, I am passing on the entire CPUG operation to Eric Anderson over at Netanium. The driving force behind this decision is that I was recruited for a full-time position at a major Check Point competitor and this new employer's conflict-of-interest ethics guidelines require that I fully divest myself from CPUG. Starting August 1st, 2014, I will no longer be participating on this discussion board or in any CPUG activities.

    The community is very engaged, strong, and vibrant and I'm sure Eric and the team at Netanium will help grow the community even larger and provide even more value to CPUG members worldwide. I hope you'll give the new owners the enthusiastic support you've always given me.

    Thanks for 14 great years!

    Barry Stiefel
    bjstiefel@InformationEngine.com


    Who’s the new admin?
    Now that the most important stuff is out of the way, let me say “hello.” My name is Eric Anderson. My goals here are simple: to bring back a site and community that’s been very useful to me over the years (mostly as a lurker), and to give and receive assistance whenever possible. Since this site thrives purely due to the amazing community and members we have, who I am doesn’t necessarily matter. However, for the curious:

    I’ve been in the IT industry dating back to the mid 80’s. No, I’m not really old enough for that, but I got started professionally as a teen working with the original IBM PC’s (the show “Halt and Catch Fire” on A&E really takes me back). In the late 90’s my career steered me toward security, and more specifically Check Point. The VAR I was with was migrating more and more toward a focus on security solutions and Firewall-1/VPN-1 was at the forefront of this. I was one of many who transition my skill set and the rest is history. Since then I’ve provided pre-sales, post-sales, phone support, consulting, design, implementation…you name it. While I work with other products as well (even other firewall offerings), Check Point products have continually occupied a greater and greater percentage of my time. Whether due to choice or demand I’m not sure, but either way I’m not complaining. Currently, my role allows me to continue wearing quite a few hats, primarily engineer and instructor. Somewhere around half of my days are spent teaching official Check Point courses for Netanium and even other VAR’s that we partner with, both on-site and with our “virtual classroom” over the internet.

    On a side note, yes, the official courseware hasn’t always been that great, but in recent years it has been shown much more love by the Check Point folks and is now very effective and continues to evolve. Read more on that later in this post.

    I won’t claim to be the smartest, most experienced, or most knowledgeable person here. Everyone has their areas of strength and weakness, and I’m no exception. I’m a fast learner and can relay information effectively to others. I thrive on troubleshooting and gobble up new information with the hunger of Pac Man. I am not (any longer) a jack-of-all-trades. Long lost are the days that anyone could know it all in IT since there’s just too much of it. The more I specialize in the Check Point space, the more difficult it is to stay on top of other skills and knowledge sets. It’s a battle, but one I enjoy.

    If I ever appear to show undue bias or a lack of objectivity it is usually based on my knowledge, experience, or beliefs and NOT personal or business motives. My integrity is important to me and is not for sale. If you ever don’t believe it, call me on it.

    I hope to afford those who are interested plenty of opportunity to get to know me better. In return, I hope to get to know this community like I know my existing clients. Please also keep in mind that, while I’m taking the lead here, I’m not alone at Netanium. There will be others stopping by to contribute as well.


    What's in store for the future?
    Our immediate goal is simply to get your community back up and running. In the interest of a speedy return, we haven’t honed everything just yet (like updating the SSL cert). Please bear with us while we adapt…

    Some things on my to-do list:
    • Site maintenance
      • Update/correct site-related posts
      • Review site rules/policies
      • Review Barry’s posts and references
        • This is only to ensure that we’re not referencing Barry as an ongoing resource
        • Former posts, even controversial ones, are a part of the sites history and I intend to leave them intact
      • Get that SSL cert in place
      • Look into forum software upgrades or alternatives
        • Not likely to change significantly
        • Would have to offer enhanced features while maintaining speed and simplicity
        • Consider the introduction of iOS and Android CPUG apps Never mind. The consensus seems to be that tapatalk is adequate.
    • CPUGcon! (see below)
      • Planning and coordinating
      • Expansion
        • More content?
        • More locations?
        • More of you attending? (we have ways)
    • Get to know you
      • Not just me, but others here at Netanium will be getting more involved in the forums, both asking and answering.
      • Take a moment to say “hi”
    • Investigate some giveaways and offers we can bring to the community
      • Would anyone actually wear a CPUG t-shirt?
      • Free CPUGcon attendance, anyone?
      • We’re considering ways to make things happen, without any detraction or distraction from the core purpose of CPUG
    • Stay open to suggestions



    CPUGcon?
    I’d like to go out on a ledge and say that CPUGcon is a definite, but in truth it will depend on this community. I see a very significant place for CPUGcon, and am already in the planning stages for what can be a very useful, informative, engaging, and enjoyable experience for all of us. In the coming weeks you will hear more about it, and I ask those who are interested to voice their support in the forums. As long as the interest is strong enough, we can and will make CPUGcon bigger and better than ever before. If we can support it, I'd really like it to be held in two locations annually: one North America and one somewhere else (sound familiar).

    This is an area that the strength of Netanium will really be helpful. While I will likely be the key coordinator, Netanium will offer additional resources for planning and execution. As a company we have put on a number of events in the past. Although they’ve been regional in nature, the same principles apply, and the same things that made them a success will make CPUGcon a success as well. And no, this “commercial” support will not jeopardize the integrity and validity of the content. While there is the possibility of partial sponsorship, that would only be done in a way that doesn’t compromise the integrity of CPUG and our free-and-open nature.

    Not having attended in the past, my knowledge of CPUGcon history is limited to what I’ve heard and read. While we can learn from the past, I’d like us to work together to make CPUGcon what we want it to be and not compare it to what it was. I’ll list a few of my ideas here, but this is by no-means all-inclusive or exclusive:
    • Both European and North American conferences (or anywhere else the community can support)
    • Attendance “scholarships” for significant CPUG contributors
    • Reduced attendance cost due to limited (and uncompromising) sponsorship
    • Content by the people, for the people
    • Based on attendance, plenty of ideas for extracurricular “diversions” (after we get stuff done)
    • The sky’s the limit. Again, I’m very open to ideas.


    On a more specific note, I think CPUG will likely be a fall (Sept-Oct) event. Reasons are many, but key among them are a slower summer season allows for planning and prep, and I see CPUGcon as a compliment to CPX, which is normally in the spring. I don’t think there’s a need or desire to compete and don’t want schedules to be a problem (I normally attend CPX as well). This would obviously mean that the next event will be in 2015. That gives us plenty of time to plan, so please submit your suggestions and requests, either publicly or via cpugcon@cpug.org.

    Let’s make it happen!


    A few shout outs and thank yous…
    First, thanks to Barry J. Steifel for creating this community some 14 years ago. While I can’t claim to know him well enough to speak to his philosophy or motivations (other than a passion for what he does), I know he’s done some good things here. Let’s put aside any negative thoughts or disagreements that some of you may have, and give a round of applause for starting and fostering this site and group that we’ve all received plenty of value from.

    Right alongside Barry, I have to thank Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy (aka Phoneboy). It was his initial passion about Firewall-1 that led him to author so much content of his own. Even after that passion dwindled it was his dedication to the Check Point community that led him to move that content to Barry’s CPUG for the benefit of all of us.

    Of course, thanks to Kevin Haley and Netanium. Kevin, president of Netanium, has been instrumental in orchestrating the “purchase” of CPUG from Barry, and allowing us to continue as the free-and-open community we need to be, all without over commercialization or excessive sponsorship. I’m sure that commitment will be well-rewarded as CPUG continues to grow and thrive for many, many years to come.

    I’d be remiss not to also acknowledge Check Point Software Technologies, Inc. Without the foresight and acumen of the people that invented stateful inspection, brought firewalls to the mainstream, and continue to advance the ever-more-competitive security field, we wouldn’t be here. Of course, we’ll also thank them (tongue-in-cheek) for making things just complex enough to require our existence.

    I also want to be sure to acknowledge Valeri Loukine. He and his CCMA blog have served to keep the torch lit during this CPUG hiatus, and his petition was helpful in making the case for what we’ve done here. He has also done an admirable job moderating the CPUG group on LinkedIn, and has agreed to continue doing so.

    Most importantly, thanks to all of you that make this community what it is. The overwhelming atmosphere and depth of support, creativity, curiosity, and knowledge you all show is second-to-none. I’m confident that we can continue along those lines while evolving as necessary. And of course, thanks for keeping the faith during our “transition”.


    The relationship (or lack thereof) with Check Point…
    This is the one thing about CPUG that I would truly like to change. From what I know (and please correct me if I’m wrong), it’s been a bit less than ideal. In fact, in recent years the relationship may not even have been cordial. I don’t want to dwell on the reasons for that. Instead, I’d like to try and let bygones be bygones, and start mending fences.

    Please trust that through whatever endeavors are taken to strengthen our bond with Check Point, the free-and-open nature of CPUG will not be compromised - if it were, CPUG would have no reason to exist. CPUG will still come first, but I see no reason that CPUG and Check Point cannot have a mutually beneficial and symbiotic relationship. SecureKnowledge is growing in its breadth and usefulness, but it’s still not entirely free and even the CP forums are heavily moderated and censored. And who could blame them? I don’t know many vendors who don’t moderate their own forums and discussion boards.

    While CPUG’s purpose isn’t to keep Check Point in check, it may help to do so. At its best, CPUG can be a voice of the people, offering constructive criticism and suggestions. While I believe it also needs to allow for complaints and criticism of CP (without censorship), this shouldn’t be a focus and should still be done with tact.

    Personally, I have a strong relationship with many people at Check Point. Over the years I’ve spoken and had drinks with Check Point personnel from Gil Shwed and Amnon Bar-Lev down to our regional channel reps and SE’s. I like to think that I can hold my own in most conversations and, for better or worse, at least understand issues from many angles. I hope to use these relationships, a refreshed CPUG attitude, and some tactfulness to bring us closer together - at least to the point that we can coexist peacefully, or more ideally to a truly mutually-beneficial alliance.

    Think this sounds good? Does it sound crazy? As always, I welcome your thoughts on why we can, can’t, should, or shouldn’t pursue this endeavor.


    Closing thoughts
    For those who’ve read all of the above - thanks! It took a while to prepare, but it kept my spare time occupied while grinding my teeth waiting for the business and technical details to be ironed out. In taking so much time, it’s altogether possible that some of it has become confused or is stated less than perfectly (cut-and-paste can be evil). As always, if you have any questions, please ask them.

    While I believe everything said above, if I can leave you with only one though or ideal, it’s that CPUG is yours, not mine. It can and will be what you all want it to be. If you object to anything I say or do, please do call me on it – just keep it constructive and civil (and of course, treat each other the same way). In turn, I will promise to be objective and understanding, and listen to suggestions openly.


    Thanks,
    Eric Anderson
    Last edited by EricAnderson; 2014-09-06 at 21:43. Reason: typo (thanks ShadowPeak)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    How long did that novel take to type? :)
    Yes, I read it all.
    Let me attempt to respond to just a few of the points you raised here.

    1. I have always believed there needs to be a strong, independent Check Point community out there and have done whatever I could to support that--inside and outside Check Point. While I appreciate what Barry has done over the years (the forums are about 9 years old, the other 5 years were physical user group meetings), I'm glad to see CPUG continue under new management. My personal thanks to you, Kevin Haley, and Netanium for stepping up to the plate.

    2. I'm still here for the Check Point community, but I work from inside Check Point now, which changes the manner in which I contribute. It does mean putting the "official Check Point hat" on from time to time but it also means I can engage internal Check Point resources when warranted. That also includes relaying constructive feedback to people in Check Point that need to hear it. And yes, I even write an SK from time to time :)

    3, In terms of an improved relationship between CPUG and Check Point, I have plenty of reasons to believe that can happen and look forward to working with you.

    4. Personally, I haven't reviewed the recent courseware, but I'm glad to hear that you are having a positive experience with it. That positive experience should carry over to the new CCSM certification, replacing the CCMA.

    5. Tapatalk actually works pretty well for mobile software, assuming you stick with vBulletin. Personally, I see no reason to change from vBulletin, though I wouldn't argue with a nice visual refresh.

    Hopefully some others will chime in with constructive feedback.
    Let me know how I can help.
    http://phoneboy.com
    Unless otherwise noted, views expressed are my own

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    A more pressing, technical issue to be sorted: the "login" button for the site is missing from the top menubar (it was there earlier).
    I had to reply to your post (or PM) to be presented with a login screen :)
    http://phoneboy.com
    Unless otherwise noted, views expressed are my own

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Just got one PM and was really surprised.
    WOW....thanks. its good to be back to the forums.

    I was like what would happen to all the valuable information in these forums, heck google cache was also gone :)

    Happy that the community is back.

    Personal gratitude to all the people involved to get it back.

    Cheers!!!

    <--Spawn

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Welcome back.

    where has the login button gone?

    p.s. yes, I know I am now logged in, but that was only after hitting reply to a thread. I wanted to login to just browse the forum.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoneBoy View Post
    A more pressing, technical issue to be sorted: the "login" button for the site is missing from the top menubar (it was there earlier).
    I had to reply to your post (or PM) to be presented with a login screen :)
    Woops, sorry. Should be fixed. Lost it while doing some last-minute customization, and already having been logged in as well I didn't notice.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Welcome back! Thanks for all your efforts to get this site pulled back from the abyss.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    I am heartened to see CPUG back online!! This site and its members have been an invaluable resource in resolving Checkpoint issues and getting a deep dive into the technical guts.

    Right now (0844 EDT) I see there are currently 30 users online. 9 members and 21 guests (not all viewing this thread). Not bad for site that was idle for a month!!!

    Thank you Eric (and Netanium) for your efforts!!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Are PMs working?
    I tried sending you a PM, Eric, and I thought it went through, but I am not finding the message in my Sent Items on the board.
    Also, email to cpug.org is still bouncing.
    http://phoneboy.com
    Unless otherwise noted, views expressed are my own

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Yes, I received your PM. I'll look into it and test a bit more though.

    I didn't see email as a major priority, but I'll be working on that later this afternoon (after we're done figuring out how to structure the R80 CCSE).

    These are the kind of things that made me want to hold off a bit longer - I don't like putting something out there that's not perfect. However, I thought we needed to get the site up, and frankly it's easier to find these issues while we're running. After this trip it'll get much more of my attention.

    -E

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    In the grand scheme of things, email is not THAT important, but if you're going to offer it as a contact method, one would expect it to work ;)

    Voltaire once wrote that perfect is the enemy of the good.
    Better you got CPUG back up, warts and all.
    Besides, we'll help you find the bugs. :)
    http://phoneboy.com
    Unless otherwise noted, views expressed are my own

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Good CPUG is back.

    Thanks for making this happen
    -------------

    Valeri Loukine
    CCMA, CCSM, CCSI
    http://checkpoint-master-architect.blogspot.com/

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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Eric,
    Much thanks to you and Netanium for reviving this great community. Best of luck in the future.

    Paul

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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Quote Originally Posted by rutkowskip View Post
    Eric,
    Much thanks to you and Netanium for reviving this great community. Best of luck in the future.

    Paul
    Thanks, Paul. See you at Oktoberfest? (you'll have the details/invite soon)

    -E

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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Great job Eric. I know it's been quite an effort to get things back up and operational!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Thank you Eric, Kevin & the rest of the Netanium crew.

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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Quote Originally Posted by EricAnderson View Post
    Thanks, Paul. See you at Oktoberfest? (you'll have the details/invite soon)

    -E
    Hello Eric,

    great to hear that CPUG is back again! Thanks a lot for your effort!

    I am pretty curious on how you could improve the CPUG CON in Europe. Since, I am based in Germany, my boss would probably not let me travel to the US. You know, together with Valeri, I was one of the few persons who contributed to the conference every time.

    Looking forward to joining the conference 2015!

    Kind regards,
    Yasushi

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Quote Originally Posted by Yasushi Kono View Post
    I am pretty curious on how you could improve the CPUG CON in Europe. Since, I am based in Germany, my boss would probably not let me travel to the US. You know, together with Valeri, I was one of the few persons who contributed to the conference every time.
    Yasushi, thanks for the comments. I tried to say that I don't have any intention of changing what works about CPUGcon. I'd love for you and Valeri to continue contributing, as well as Tobias and anyone else who's willing and capable. I don't want to get into too much detail here until we have things firmed up a bit more, but definitely expect to be called on again.

    As for location, I have no predetermined spot in Europe, but it's definitely part of the plan. I've never been to Germany, so it sounds good to me! I'll definitely be getting input from contributors, as well as the community members themselves. One of my goals would be to get as much content and as many attendees as possible. I don't quite want to say "the bigger the better" because quality of content is key, but I'm sure we can make it a success.

    The addition of a North American location would likely be in the Northeast, simply to keep it local to me (at least for the first one). I'd love to move it around a bit each year after that.

    I don't expect that content would be identical, but by at least partially replicating in multiple locations we can be more accessible to more CPUG members, with little additional planning and development work.

    Again, this is all still in the very early stages. We'll start talking about it more soon.

    -E

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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Quote Originally Posted by chillyjim View Post
    Thank you Eric, Kevin & the rest of the Netanium crew.
    You're off to a good start Eric--you even got Chilly to post again :)
    Its all in the documentation.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Welcome back!

    Thanks to everyone who made it prossible to bring CPUG back. I haven't been very active on the site for a few, but still found some helpful contributions to actual issues we experienced lately. Good to see that this pool of knowledge will continue to exist.

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