March 14, 2015

Announcing Spark 1.3!
The DataFrame API that we recently announced officially ships in Spark 1.3. DataFrames evolve Spark’s RDD model, making operations with structured datasets even faster and easier. They are inspired by, and fully interoperable with, Pandas and R data frames, and are available in Spark’s Java, Scala, and Python API’s as well as the upcoming (unreleased) R API. DataFrames introduce new simplified operators for filtering, aggregating, and projecting over large datasets. Internally, DataFrames leverage the Spark SQL logical optimizer to intelligently plan the physical execution of operations to work well on large datasets. This planning permeates all the way into physical storage, where optimizations such as predicate pushdown are applied based on analysis of user programs.


Criminals Leverage Apple Pay for Fraud: Banks Boost Authentication Security
Some banks are even asking customers to authorize their Apple Pay request by logging into their online bank account (which may or may not provide more security, as not all banks require strong authentication, making it easier for criminals to also get access to online bank accounts and verify Apple Pay card requests that way). Other banks are lacking in the basic security control that would allow them to compare the Apple Pay card numbers to card numbers that were previously reported as stolen, as some of the card data used by criminals were actually stolen from the Target and Home Depot breaches. If they were able to blacklist previously stolen card numbers, they could also significantly cut down on fraud carried out by Apple Pay.


Smart Watches Show More Style and Substance
Unlike the first round of smart watches, the LG Urbane or the Huawei Watch, both announced at MWC this week, might pass for conventional luxury timepieces when their round screens are in watch mode. Both are handsomely designed and come in multiple colors with metal and leather straps. Unlike most smart watches, which have toughened glass, the Huawei model, which goes on sale this summer, features a sapphire crystal face. Like most other smart watches on the market today, the Huawei device uses the Android Wear operating system. The Urbane comes in two versions: one that uses Android, and another that features WebOS—an operating system originally developed by HP for smartphones and tablets but now an open source project. Neither Huawei nor LG has announced a price for their devices.


People Remain the Weakest Link in Security
The trouble is we, the computer users, can be made aware of the risks and some simple steps to prevent opening a malicious link. However, we can hardly be blamed as some of them are incredibly sophisticated and are very hard to spot as being fraudulent. It is not just phishing emails which we are targeted by. Malvertising is also on the rise, where cybercrime gangs take out adverts on legitimate websites and use them to inject malware into unsuspecting people browsing the ad. The most recent Cisco Annual Security Report (CASR) suggested compromised users are often infected with malicious browser add-ons through the installation of bundled software (software distributed with another software package or product) via these sorts of malvertisments and usually without clear user consent.


IT security: from protector to business enabler in the app economy
To understand how many organizations are dealing with the new app economy, CA Technologies recently commissioned a broad study of a large cross-section of organizations. The full study results can be found here. One of the most striking results of this study was the emergence of business enablement as a primary driver behind security initiatives. In the past, protection of apps and data (including the related goals of breach prevention, regulatory compliance, etc) was the primary motivation behind most security programs. But, the app economy shows us that security can be used as a primary method of enabling new business initiatives, improving customer engagement and loyalty, and improving overall business agility.


2015 Information Governance Trends
While complications do exist with cloud deployments (such as companies that have regulation challenges operating within multiple jurisdictions or solutions that do not offer lifecycle management and governance capabilities), companies will have no choice but to look to deploy governance in the cloud on content that resides in uncontrolled environments. Executives will need to bring these systems under the corporate governance umbrella while ensuring employees are leveraging the capabilities of these systems. Simultaneously, Information Governance steering committees will look for easily available tools to begin rolling out the overall program.


Influential National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Moves On Cyber
NAIC has coordinated two drafts which will provide comprehensive policy for oversight of insurance regarding cybersecurity: The first is a draft of Principles for Effective Cybersecurity Insurance Regulatory Guidance, developed by the Cybersecurity (EX) Task Force. This document will help state insurance departments identify uniform standards, promote accountability, and provide access to essential information. It also outlines the process for working with the insurance industry to identify risks and offer practical solutions. The second draft document: the Annual Statement Supplement for Cybersecurity policies, comes from the NAIC's Property and Casualty Insurance (C) Committee.


Why Apple may go its own way with wireless charging
"Apple has never bowed to a standards war. Apple does what they want," said John Perzow, vice president of market development for the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which promotes Qi, the most widely adopted wireless charging standard. Qi currently supports inductive, or tightly coupled wireless charging; that means a device must be placed in a specific spot on a charging pad. ... "Let's say for a second that Qi already launched its extension and could charge resonantly from a couple inches away," Perzow said. "I still don't think Apple would use it; then anyone could make a cool wireless charger for the Apple Watch, and Apple would lose revenue."


Reimagining The Network For A Hyper-Converged Infrastructure
In today’s mobile-first, application-rich, always-on world, our approach to infrastructure must be more holistic, and that means a shift to cloud-based architecture. ... Virtual overlays have rapidly emerged as the favored approach in this nascent market, with some very interesting startup plays and some big moves by incumbents. Despite being tethered to Cisco gear, Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) stack technology is conceptually similar to virtual network overlays. Interestingly, Cisco now plans to support open source protocols on its switches to make it easier to implement virtual overlays for customers not buying into its ACI stack.


Microsoft and the Revolution: Analytics
By announcing the acquisition of Revolution Analytics, a company that in a just a few years has become a leading provider of predictive analytics solutions, Microsoft looks not just to strengthen its already wide analytics portfolio but, perhaps is also trying to increase its presence in the open source and data science communities, with the latter being one with huge future potential. An interesting movement no doubt, but… Was this acquisition one that Microsoft needed to boost its Analytics strategy against its biggest competitors? Will this movement really give Microsoft’s revolution a better entrance to the open source space, especially within the data science community? Is Microsoft ready for open source and vice versa?



Quote for the day:

"We need leadership that unifies and rallies people around shared causes, not pit members of society against each other." -- @ShawnUpchurch