Daily Tech Digest - December 22, 2016

Magisto: The machine-generated creativity you're looking for?

There is an attitude in the technology space that startups should look to automate every time-consuming or mundane process. Sick of doing laundry? A web service will do it for you. Not keen on vacuuming? The Roomba solves your issues. These examples, while telling a sad tale of humanity's laziness, at least remove an arguably low-level and mundane task. But what of automating creativity -- can you, and should you? That is exactly what Magisto is setting out to do. The company has what it calls a "smart video storytelling application." What that means in English is that using Magisto, customers can upload video and imagery, choose a theme and a soundtrack and, only a few minutes later, have a complete video to use.


Big Banks Are Stocking Up on Blockchain Patents

Until now, many blockchain startups have downplayed the importance of patents and pinned their hopes on wider adoption through open source. Hyperledger, a venture led by companies including IBM, Accenture and Intel, makes its code free for others to use and enhance. Chain, which lets companies use the blockchain to issue and transfer assets, released its code in late October. Even R3 -- a consortium of some of the largest banks -- made its Corda blockchain available last month. As such projects have multiplied, some blockchain supporters have suggested open-source makes patents irrelevant. It doesn’t, according to Vitalik Buterin, co-creator of the popular Ethereum blockchain. Companies could find themselves being sued by one-time collaborators. Large firms could wield patents to muscle into promising businesses developed by today’s startups.


How to manage the top 4 tech culture challenges

Leading a tech team in the current culture of competition and globalization comes with a unique set of challenges, and requires a distinct set of leaderships skills to mitigate them. A recent report from corporate training and leadership development firm VitalSmarts lays out the particular competencies tech leaders need to build successful organizations and products. "Everybody who's ever worked in tech feels like there's something quite different and unique about that culture and the whole industry," said VitalSmarts vice president of research David Maxfield. "The questions we were asking were: 'Are these differences real, do they matter, and if so, how?'" The researchers first interviewed more than a dozen leaders from tech firms asking about the unique challenges of the field.


VMs prove most popular Docker infrastructure -- for now

"Capacity wasn't important. Stability was the primary driver," said Stephen Eaton, infrastructure technical lead at Dealertrack Technologies, a holding of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises. Encapsulating applications in containers that float over infrastructure made the workflow easier for the entire IT group. However, as he ramps up containerization -- the goal is 80% of the group's apps on Docker containers within a year -- Eaton will be closely watching network-attached storage performance. With five times as many apps using the storage resources, will there be latency with logs or scaling that necessitates changes to the underlying Docker infrastructure? ... Containers also change the equations for dynamic and static load balancing. While container-monitoring capabilities are not yet close to those available for virtualization, log-monitoring tools such as Sysdig and Splunk are working on the visibility issue with admin-friendly dashboards.


Digital Transformation and Bimodal IT

As we all know, the Traditional IT team in each enterprise is entrusted with the responsibilities of maintaining functionality, safety, and predictability. Generally speaking, these are the teams that ensure that the show is running without any interruptions. The Exploratory IT team, however, are the specialists, specifically employed to implement the latest, futuristic version of IT. They work on systems and processes that will increase the ability of the company today and optimize its capabilities for the future. They are the guys who, for example, are implementing the new move to the cloud, creating the proof of concepts for the latest IoT offering, demonstrating to the world your connected car expertise, or training the new team created to work on the latest systems. They train the “would-be” employees and make all the necessary plans and strategies for the future migrations.


Alice: A Lightweight, Compact, No-Nonsense ATM Malware

Trend Micro first discovered the Alice ATM malware family in November 2016 as result of our joint research project on ATM malware with Europol EC3. We collected a list of hashes and the files corresponding to those hashes were then retrieved from VirusTotal for further analysis. One of those binaries was initially thought to be a new variant of the Padpin ATM malware family. However, after reverse analysis, we found that it to be part of a brand new family, which we called Alice. ATM malware has been around since 2007, but over the past nine years we have only learned of eight unique ATM malware families, including Alice. This new discovery is remarkable because it shows a clear tendency for malware writers to attack an ever-increasing variety of platforms. This is especially acute against ATMs, due to the high monetary value they represent.


Multi Modal Delivery with SAFe 4.0

To create an integrated system that actually creates value for customer and business takes capabilities that take trips piercing multiple layers, touching multiple systems, each with their own ingest and delivery model for new functionalities. In the example above, generated from a real customer situation, the process layer comprises a team of teams that in itself operates as an Agile Release Train. However, this needs to be timing orchestrated and technically integrated with deliveries from other groups. The customer facing front ends are delivered by an external supplier who is running traditional Scrum on a 2 week iteration cadence, while the back end Mainframe Services delivery has not yet transformed, and is operating on a traditionally planned project basis.


Here are the biggest IoT security threats facing the enterprise in 2017

In 2017, the IoT device security debate will escalate, putting pressure on manufacturers to architect fundamental security principles into the designs of internet-connected products. We may even see governments around the world take an active role in IoT safety legislation. Everyday appliances (e.g., the iron, washing machine and dryer) are subjected to rigorous testing, both by the manufacturer as well as independent testing labs, but a similar approach is not being taken with respect to cybersecurity for IoT devices. As a result, most are unsecure by design, and many vendors choose convenience (e.g., using default credentials in their appliances) over implementing proper security measures—a flagrant violation of best practices in product development.


Nokia and Apple trade accusations in patent lawsuits

The eight patents covered in one of Nokia's Texas lawsuits, filed Wednesday, are related to the H.264 Advanced Video Coding standard approved by the International Telecommunication Union, according to Nokia's complaint. A second Texas lawsuit covers 10 patents for a range of other technologies. Apple products using the H.264 video codec include the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple Watch, Macs, and Apple TV, Nokia said in its complaint. "Despite all the advantages that have been enjoyed by Apple, Apple has steadfastly refused to agree to license Nokia's H.264 patents on reasonable terms," Nokia's lawyers wrote. "Dozens of companies have licensed Nokia’s patents for use in their products ... Apple, however, refuses to pay Nokia's established royalty rates."


Cybersecurity Confidence Report Card

For the second year, practitioners cited the “overwhelming cyber threat environment” as the single biggest challenge facing IT security professionals today, followed closely by “low security awareness among employees” and “lack of network visibility” due to BYOD and shadow IT. No doubt, the dangers are real. Just last week Yahoo disclosed that over a billion user accounts had been stolen – back in 2013. Quest Diagnostics says that the hack of an internet application on its network exposed the personal health information of about 34,000 people. Venafi CISO Tammy Moskites doesn’t like assigning scores, but she does acknowledge that she’s constantly challenged with “making sure that we’re doing the right things right.” “We’re going to be more challenged with making sure that we’re able to be quick and agile when and if an attacks occurs,” Moskites says.



Quote for the day:


"Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm." -- Abraham Lincoln