Daily Tech Digest - September 26, 2018

The old ways of operating the network are rapidly becoming obsolete. The CLI is excellent for troubleshooting or small changes, but in increasingly complex infrastructure it is not feasible to only use the CLI. Today, the network is programmable. Key functions are automated. Network engineers are network programmers and need new tools and most importantly…APIs. That is where I make the comparison between networking engineers and Frodo Baggins – i.e. wishing that this change had not been thrust upon them “in their time.” I have talked to many engineers and hear their frustration and fears of being left out in that change or that their CCIE is not as valuable as before. However, although the change might be scary, there are a lot of reasons for not worrying too much. The first is that knowledge of key concepts is still immensely valuable and probably even more so than before. When your infrastructure is more complicated, taking the proper approach to designing a change – a network refresh, or defining how you are going to operate it – is more complicated.

Augmented intelligence: The clearest path to focused AI?

The Eye demonstrated great accuracy when detecting objects on the road, but the AI's primary task is to build behavior patterns. Of course, there are several parameters involved, such as where an event happens, under what conditions and whether there are pedestrians on the road. The system checks what's normal under these circumstances to what is currently happening, and if it is beyond a certain threshold, it will send an alert to all cars within that proximity. While access to information about every car on the road sounds like a privacy nightmare, Discoperi has already taken steps to ensure privacy as well as give users full control over their data by storing the data on a blockchain. Privacy might seem more like a problem for augmented intelligence because it involves human input, while artificial intelligence is theoretically fully autonomous. But due to the real shortcomings in AI, many companies have already used humans behind the scenes to complete AI's job where it failed, raising privacy concerns in AI.

Microsoft Adds Features to Teams, Beefs Up Security

Microsoft sees Teams as a critical interface to the entire line of Office 365 and Microsoft 365 services. Added to Office 365 commercial licenses 18 months ago, Teams has become the most rapidly adopted business application in Microsoft’s history, company officials revealed at Ignite, where the company said that 329,000 organizations now use Teams. It was at last year’s Ignite conference when Microsoft revealed its plans to integrate the Skype for Business Online voice, video, chat and screen-sharing capabilities into Teams. It was a surprising move since Microsoft had just rolled out Teams six months earlier. The entire set of communications capabilities in Skype for Business Online became available in Teams last month. Over time, Microsoft intends to depreciate Skype for Business; it hasn’t said when, but has signaled organizations to plan migration for existing customers with a call to action for partners to facilitate that planning. New Office 365 subscriptions now only include the Teams client – not Skype for Business – said Ron Markezich

Serverless Platforms Compared for Performance

Serverless providers charge for not just CPU, memory and number of requests, but also for network and storage. Providers differ in how they adjust memory for specific CPU requirements. AWS, for example, gives more CPU cycles (PDF) to instances with higher memory. Google follows a similar strategy, whereas Azure varies in how CPU is allocated with "4-vCPU VMs tending to gain higher CPU shares". Concurrent requests change the average response time of a function. For non-concurrent requests, the resource allocation remains almost same for all providers except for Google, where it varies around 30%. The compute time in AWS increased by 46% for concurrent requests when the same call was invoked 50 times at once. For Google and Azure it was 7% and 3% respectively, whereas it increased by 154% in IBM. Other tests reveal AWS to have the best performance in terms of concurrent execution.

What is XaaS? A way to inject agility into your digital business

What is XaaS? A way to inject agility into your digital business
XaaS evolved from the cloud services model, Loucks says. Seeking cheaper, more efficient ways to run IT, CIOs began adopting cloud for anything from email to CRM, to ITSM and business intelligence visualization, to compute, storage and even networking, via software-defined networks, says Loucks. XaaS describes on-demand services that achieve scale horizontally across the business. Seventy-one percent of 1,170 IT and line-of-business professionals Deloitte surveyed from large U.S. companies said that XaaS makes up more than half of their enterprise IT. Learning from their vendor partners along the way, savvy CIOs began co-opting XaaS best practices as their own blueprint for building and delivering new IT services to their business peers. "Rather than simply using flexible consumption models to cut costs and increase workforce efficiency, many organizations are adopting XaaS to transform digitally and become more agile," Loucks says in a new Deloitte report, "Accelerating agility with XaaS."

A look at the new Google cloud security tools and features

The first new Google cloud security feature introduced by GCP is known as shielded VMs. This feature allows customers to enable a virtual Trusted Platform Module -- or vTPM, as Google calls it -- that supports integrity validation for boot processes and the kernel of the VM, as well as logging all the integrity checks with the Google Stackdriver logging and monitoring service. There is no additional charge to use shielded VMs, which makes this a great opportunity to improve the resiliency and security of compute workloads in the Google cloud environment. GCP also has a number of powerful new features for container deployments. Containers require access to repositories to install and configure software packages. However, there are many known concerns and issues with trust validation and security for repositories and software distribution, particularly in open source environments. To aid in securing code registries and repositories, GCP now offers the Container Registry, a private registry in which approved Docker images can be stored. 

Edge computing is the place to address a host of IoT security concerns

Edge computing is the place to address a host of IoT security concerns
Placing a gateway between the industrial endpoints and the rest of a company’s computing resources lets businesses implement current security and visibility technology without ripping and replacing expensive and IIoT machinery. The edge model also helps IIoT implementations in an operational sense, by providing a lower-latency management option than would otherwise be possible if those IIoT endpoints were calling back to a cloud or a data center for instructions and to process data. Most of the technical tools used to secure an IoT network in an edge configuration are similar to those in use on IT networks – encryption, network segmentation, and the like. Edge networking creates a space to locate security technologies that limited-capacity endpoints can’t handle on their own. Mike Mackey is CTO and vice president of engineering at Atonomi, makers of a blockchain-based identity and reputation-tracking framework for IIoT security. He said edge computing adds an important layer of trust between a company’s backend and its potentially vulnerable IIoT devices.

First known malicious cryptomining campaign targeting Kodi discovered

Researchers discover malicious cryptomining campaign targeting Kodi
As it turns out, some cyber thugs actually decided Kodi would be a good malware distribution platform. Researchers at ESET detected the first publicly known cryptomining campaign launched via the Kodi platform. If you use add-ons to enhance your movie or TV viewing pleasure, then it is possible your Windows- or Linux-based Kodi has been secretly mining Monero for months and months. In fact, it may continue to do so unless you take action. After the XBMC repository for add-ons was shut down, ESET discovered the repository had been part of a cryptomining campaign that went back to December 2017. That repository was added to the Bubbles and Gaia add-on repositories in December 2017 and January 2018. ESET warned, “From these two sources, and through update routines of unsuspecting owners of other third-party add-on repositories and ready-made Kodi builds, the malware spread further across the Kodi ecosystem.”

Businesses that take humans with them on robotics journeys gain the most

While investing in automation and AI technologies can cut costs and increase productivity dramatically, there is more to be gained if organisations focus on up-skilling staff that are freed from the tasks being automated. The research looked at the differences in performance between organisations that exclusively focus productivity gains from technology and those that focus on the technology and the human workforce. It found that a hyper-productive environment can be achieved if organisations enable humans and robots work together. Chris Brauer, director of innovation in the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths University, lead the research. “In the public discussion, there has been an assumption that [humanity and automation] are in conflict in that in pursuing higher levels of performance and productivity in an organisation through technology you would have to sacrifice humanity,” he said. “But this does not follow from anything we have learned.”

How a new generation of security firms is learning to protect blockchain code

Some unsafe code can be detected with automated analysis tools without much human intervention: If a contract allows any user to extract its funds, it’s probably a mistake, says Petar Tsankov, cofounder and chief scientist of ChainSecurity, a Swiss startup spun out from the prestigious technical university ETH Zurich. ChainSecurity has developed a tool called Securify, which can quickly spot and flag potential issues in Solidify code. But other bugs are only visible as flaws within the context of what a contract is actually supposed to do, meaning the first phase of a security audit often involves sitting down with developers to understand exactly what their contracts are hoping to accomplish. “Typically, there’s very informal documentation on what the contract is supposed to do,” says Tsankov. Then typically comes a mix of human analysis and automated tests to determine if it’s possible to get the contract to violate its specifications. Trail of Bits has developed a tool called Echidna that can quickly execute smart contracts with a variety of inputs, looking for ways to get the code to misbehave.

Quote for the day:

"Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle." -- Christian D. Larson

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