Daily Tech Digest - November 06, 2020

Applying particle physics methods to quantum computing

In quantum computing, which relies on quantum bits, or qubits, to carry information, the fragile state known as quantum superposition is difficult to maintain and can decay over time, causing a qubit to display a zero instead of a one—this is a common example of a readout error. Superposition provides that a quantum bit can represent a zero, a one, or both quantities at the same time. This enables unique computing capabilities not possible in conventional computing, which rely on bits representing either a one or a zero, but not both at once. Another source of readout error in quantum computers is simply a faulty measurement of a qubit's state due to the architecture of the computer. In the study, researchers simulated a quantum computer to compare the performance of three different error-correction (or error-mitigation or unfolding) techniques. They found that the IBU method is more robust in a very noisy, error-prone environment, and slightly outperformed the other two in the presence of more common noise patterns. Its performance was compared to an error-correction method called Ignis that is part of a collection of open-source quantum-computing software development tools developed for IBM's quantum computers, and a very basic form of unfolding known as the matrix inversion method.

Common Challenges Facing Angular Enterprises - Stephen Fluin at Ngconf

The top emerging concerns emerging from the conversations that Fluin had in the first trimester of this year are linked to user experience, micro front-ends, server-side rendering, monorepositories and code sharing, managing applications that are only partly Angular-based, and presenting a business case for the upgrade of Angular versions. A good user experience means fast initial load and seamless transitions. Fluin strongly recommended using the source-map-explorer npm package to monitor and analyze the composition of an Angular bundle: In enterprise conversations, this was actually identified as one of the most valuable things they had learned. Fluin also mentioned that simply by keeping up-to-date with the latest Angular versions, Angular developers will naturally benefit from smaller bundle sizes or an improved command-line interface implementing configurable optimization strategies (e.g., better bundling, server-side rendering). Fluin posited that seamless transitions between routes in Angular applications already was one of Angular’s strengths. Fluin then explained that the independent deployability characteristic of micro front-end may come into tension with the recommended use of monorepositories to address other issues such as testing, code sharing, or dependency management.

How Shell is fleshing out a digital-twin strategy

According to Shell, the deployment of the simulation technology will also enable safe asset life extension by replacing the over-conservative estimates made with conventional simulation software, with accurate assessments that reflect actual remaining fatigue life. Elohor Aiboni, asset manager for Bonga, said: “The Bonga Main FPSO heralded a number of innovative ‘firsts’ when it was built back in 2004, so it’s fitting that it is the first asset of its kind to deploy something as advanced as a structural digital twin. We are very excited about the new capabilities that Akselos brings and believe it will create a positive impact on the way we manage structural integrity. It is also a great example of digitisation coming to life.” In a recent blog post, Victor Voulgaropoulos, industry analyst at Verdantix wrote: “Shell is again in the spotlight, as it seeks to further accelerate its digital transformation initiatives by implementing digital-twin solutions across its global portfolio of assets and capital projects. Shell has signed an enterprise framework agreement with Kongsberg Digital, a Kongsberg subsidiary, for the deployment of Kongsberg’s Kognitwin Energy, a cloud-based software-as-a-service digital-twin solution, within Shell’s upstream, liquified natural gas, and downstream business lines.”

How COVID-19 Changed the VC Investment Landscape for Cybersecurity Companies

Businesses have faced the need to find new and inventive ways to survive the "new normal." For many companies, this means digitizing existing processes and relying heavily on cloud-based services to enable workers to access corporate networks from their homes. But this presents myriad new problems for businesses. While the pandemic provides vast opportunities for digital transformation, it unfortunately creates the perfect storm for data breaches and hackers, too. Social distancing restrictions have forced firms to abandon the protections in the office in favor of enabling employees to work from home, where they might not have the same robust levels of security. Of course, VCs have kept their ears to the ground and are looking to cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) startups as a means to mitigate these new vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity spending is forecast to grow approximately 9% a year from 2021 to 2024, according to Gartner, as businesses invest more heavily in identifying and quickly responding to threats. While large corporations have traditionally been responsible for huge amounts of private data that make cybersecurity a priority, the new virtual backdrop across all industries means that businesses of all shapes and sizes are looking to build the capabilities and defenses needed to keep malicious actors at bay.

NHS warned over Ryuk spreading through Trickbot replacements

“In recent weeks, we assess with high confidence that BazarBackdoor has been Ryuk’s most predominant loader,” said the firm. “With lower confidence, we assess this wave of Ryuk activity may be, in part, in retaliation for September’s TrickBot disruptions.” Bazar’s components are most usually delivered in spear phishing campaigns operated via Sendgrid, a bona fide email marketing service. The emails contain links to Microsoft Office or Google Docs files, and the lure usually relates to a threat of employee termination or a debit payment. In turn, these emails link to the initial payload, a headless preliminary loader that ultimately downloads, unpacks and loads Bazar. The firm added that newer campaigns seem to forgo the spam distribution in favour of human-operated attacks against exposed admin interfaces or cloud services. Typically, once they have gained control of the target system using Bazar, Wizard Spider will download a post-exploitation toolkit, such as Cobalt Strike or Metasploit, to gather target information and enumerate the network, at which point they will harvest credentials to move into other systems and compromise the entire network – then they will deploy Ryuk ransomware. NHS Digital said current Bazar campaigns could accomplish this in under five hours.

Implementing a Staged Approach to Evolutionary Architecture

Traditionally, software architecture and design phases have been considered as initial phases. In this approach, the architecture decisions were considered valid for the entire life of the system. With the wisdom of ages and in reaction to industry transformations, we have started to see architecture as evolving. This evolution necessitates a different set of approaches in the direction of continuous planning, facilitating via continuous integration, dashboards, and tools, thus providing guide rails for systems to evolve. This article focuses on these approaches and tools to support the journey. We are in the midst of a rapidly changing environment. As Rebecca Parsons discussed in a presentation on evolutionary architecture, the changes span across business models, requirements, and customer expectations. The technology landscape also changes quite often. In a broader sense, the changes are happening at an unparalleled rate and impact on our environment. ... Smartphones reached major penetration in the last 10 years. Software, a key ingredient of all these, changes even faster. Sometimes, the software frameworks we use are no longer relevant by the time of release.

Digital Business Opportunities Surge With IoT-Based Sensors At The Edge

Sensor data from machines – wherever they are located – carries heightened importance in a pandemic-driven business environment of unpredictable starts and stops. That’s because it provides critical visibility into what’s going on within machines across the business. For example, Wallis reported a surge in customer inquiries about using IoT to accomplish maintenance tasks automatically, remotely, and safely. “Interest is high in IoT-enabled automation from organizations that want to get the job done with minimal employee risk and fewer productivity losses,” said Wallis. “Remote asset diagnostics and monitoring gives companies 24/7 visibility about machine performance, eliminating unnecessary physical maintenance calls. The same applies to procurement transparency, where sensors on items reduce the need for physical inspections.” But the benefits of IoT don’t stop there. Connected IoT-based data from machines was game-changing for a power generation company based in Italy, turning an essentially commoditized business into a value-based service that increased customer loyalty. Using SAP Internet of Things, SAP Edge Services, and SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service, the company brought data together from the edge, meaning machine performance at power plants worldwide, with data from various systems including supply chain, warehouse management, machine repair and maintenance.

Take back control of IT with cloud native IGA

Legacy solutions have painted themselves into the corner of maintaining a large amount of custom code. This makes upgrades costly, so they don’t happen. That means customers suffer by not being able to adopt new features, bug fixes and new capabilities to support their new business and compliance requirements. The primary reason why legacy software projects don’t get fully completed and go over budget is known as the 80/20 rule. Organizations can solve 80% of the problems or challenges they have with the software as it is, but everybody wants to solve that last 20%. And that 20% isn’t a quick fix – it takes 10 times the amount of time that first 80% took. Understandably, organizations want to try to tackle the more challenging problems, which always require high customization. It’s very difficult for organizations to maintain a highly customized code in their environments that the first generation of IGA products required. All those changes to the code will then need to be maintained. But modern IGA has learned from all the coding requirements of the past and now provides a much simpler way to give users different levels of access. The identity governance and administration market started with highly regulated businesses. However, all industries are now impacted.

How remote access technology is improving the world as we know it

Globalisation and a dramatic uptick in both the need and desire for remote working have resulted in a dispersed workforce — in which it is easy to lose both professional and personal connection But the unprecedented speed of digital transformation, technologies such as 5G and improving consumer hardware such as smartphones, means that the prompt adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) in remote support is rapidly coalescing to close the connection gap. ... AR can be used to upskill these employees, and train new ones. When onboarding a new member of staff, ensuring that the employee is aware of the correct protocols and procedures is often critical. For example, when a new employee is familiarising themselves with a machine, an AR-capable smartphone or tablet can provide relevant training to ensure it’s operated correctly. If this technology was not available, uncertainties could lead to a break in compliance, safety issues, or even increased downtime — all critical issues in multiple industries, including manufacturing.  Today, this technology goes beyond needing an AR-capable device to hand though. Features such as session recording and being able to take a screenshot of the live video stream are increasingly being used to create a pool of expert knowledge that is readily available on demand. 

Value vs Time: an Agile Contract Model

The cost of bug fixes is included in the price, so our interest is to have as few bugs as possible in our software. This is obviously great value for our customers, but also for users who will run into fewer bugs while using the software. To do this, we use the common agile practices and methodologies such as TDD (test-driven development), Pair Programing, Pull / merge request management, and a strict procedure of verification and human tests before releasing to the customer. Also, continuous improvement techniques such as retrospective meetings and a lot of training help us deploy higher quality software. We have a clear DoD (Definition of Done) shared with the customer for each User Story (which also covers the UX / UI mockups for each US), and the teams are autonomous in managing the implementation part, while respecting the DoD and a minimum level of quality that is guaranteed by the practices and processes listed. Including any bug-fix in the User Story development cost also has a commercial advantage for Zupit. Customers don’t always "digest" that bugs are part of the software development process and aren’t happy to pay the cost of fixing them. A model where the supplier takes care of this aspect helps us to convince customers about the quality of our work and to close contracts more easily.

Quote for the day:

"The role of leaders is not to get other people to follow them but to empower others to lead." -- Bill George

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