Daily Tech Digest - November 07, 2020

Why Culture Is the Greatest Barrier to Data Success

Achieving data success is a journey, not a sprint. Companies desire to accelerate their efforts to become data-driven, but consistency, patience, and steadfastness pay off in the long run. Companies that set a clear course, with reasonable expectations and phased results over a period of time, get to the destination faster. Develop a plan. Create a data strategy for your company if you do not already have one. If you do have a data strategy, make sure that it is updated annually to reflect changes in the business and the ongoing and rapid evolution of emerging data management capabilities. Define your future state, and build an execution road map that will take you from your current state to the target outcome. It is hard to reach any destination without a good road map. Companies need to maintain a long-term view and stick to it while making periodic adjustments. Patience, persistence, and commitment are the ingredients for ensuring a successful long-term outcome. Organizations must evolve and change the ways in which they structure current business processes if they expect to become more data-driven. In short, companies must be prepared to think differently.

Silver Peak SD-WAN Collects Aruba's ClearPass Treatment

According to Lunetta, ClearPass was a natural place to start the integration efforts. “Security has always been central to Aruba’s network solutions and is top of mind for every customer these days, especially with the increase of remote working and proliferation of IoT devices on the network,” he said. Aruba’s ClearPass offering was announced in April 2019, to help enterprises cope with the growing number of IoT and connected devices on the network. ClearPass device insights is a terminal that employs machine learning to automate the discovery and fingerprinting of connected devices. When paired with Aruba’s ClearPass Policy Manager, customers can dynamically segment security capabilities, making it possible to authenticate and enforce policies based on device type and the needs of the user. Silver Peak customers will be able to identify and block unauthorized users from access applicants or other services at the WAN edge long before they get to the cloud or private data center. “I think the biggest benefit will be adding more intelligence to the segmentation capabilities from Silver Peak,” said John Grady, network security analyst at ESG, in an email to SDxCentral. “By adding agentless device visibility and context, as well as the automation and policy control from ClearPass, SilverPeak becomes that much more attractive, especially relative to IoT.”

Ransomware Alert: Pay2Key

Over the past week, an exceptional number of Israeli companies reported ransomware attacks. While some of the attacks were carried out by known ransomware strands like REvil and Ryuk, several large corporations experienced a full blown attack with a previously unknown ransomware variant names Pay2Key. As days go by, more of the reported ransomware attacks turn out to be related to the new Pay2Key ransomware. The attacker followed the same procedure to gain a foothold, propagate and remotely control the infection within the compromised companies. The investigation so far indicates the attacker may have gained access to the organizations’ networks some time before the attack, but presented an ability to make a rapid move of spreading the ransomware within an hour to the entire network. After completing the infection phase, the victims received a customized ransom note, with a relatively low demand of 7-9 bitcoins (~$110K-$140K). The full scope of these attacks is still unraveling and is under investigation; but we at Check Point Research would like to offer our initial analysis of this new ransomware variant, as well as to provide relevant IOC’s to help mitigate possible ongoing attacks. ... Analyzing Pay2Key ransomware operation, we were unable to correlate it to any other existing ransomware strain, and it appears to be developed from scratch.

Blazor: Full stack C# and Microsoft's pitch for ASP.NET Web Form diehards

Blazor is not very like web forms but has some things in common. One is that developers can write C# everywhere, both on the server and for the browser client. Microsoft calls this “full stack C#”. “Blazor shares many commonalities with ASP.NET Web Forms, like having a reusable component model and a simple way to handle user events,” wrote the authors. The Blazor framework comes in several guises. The initial concept, and one of the options, is Blazor WebAssembly (Wasm). The .NET runtime is complied to Wasm, the application is compiled to a .NET DLL, and runs in the browser, supplemented by JavaScript interop. ... Blazor is designed for single-page applications and is reminiscent of Silverlight – Microsoft’s browser plugin in which ran .NET code in the browser - but with an HTML/CSS user interface. There are two other Blazor application models. Blazor Server runs on the server and supports a thin browser client communicating with WebSockets (ASP.NET SignalR). The programming model is the same, but it is a thin client approach which means faster loading and no WebAssembly required; it can even be persuaded to run in IE11.

What is data architecture? A framework for managing data

According to Data Management Book of Knowledge (DMBOK 2), data architecture defines the blueprint for managing data assets by aligning with organizational strategy to establish strategic data requirements and designs to meet those requirements. On the other hand, DMBOK 2 defines data modeling as, "the process of discovering, analyzing, representing, and communicating data requirements in a precise form called the data model." While both data architecture and data modeling seek to bridge the gap between business goals and technology, data architecture is about the macro view that seeks to understand and support the relationships between an organization's functions, technology, and data types. Data modeling takes a more focused view of specific systems or business cases. There are several enterprise architecture frameworks that commonly serve as the foundation for building an organization's data architecture framework. DAMA International's Data Management Body of Knowledge is a framework specifically for data management. It provides standard definitions for data management functions, deliverables, roles, and other terminology, and presents guiding principles for data management.

Using machine learning to track the pandemic’s impact on mental health

Using several types of natural language processing algorithms, the researchers measured the frequency of words associated with topics such as anxiety, death, isolation, and substance abuse, and grouped posts together based on similarities in the language used. These approaches allowed the researchers to identify similarities between each group’s posts after the onset of the pandemic, as well as distinctive differences between groups. The researchers found that while people in most of the support groups began posting about Covid-19 in March, the group devoted to health anxiety started much earlier, in January. However, as the pandemic progressed, the other mental health groups began to closely resemble the health anxiety group, in terms of the language that was most often used. At the same time, the group devoted to personal finance showed the most negative semantic change from January to April 2020, and significantly increased the use of words related to economic stress and negative sentiment. They also discovered that the mental health groups affected the most negatively early in the pandemic were those related to ADHD and eating disorders.

‘Digital Mercenaries’: Why Blockchain Analytics Firms Have Privacy Advocates Worried

Gladstein and other advocates see this sort of blockchain analysis as an extension of governmental surveillance, along the lines of when the National Security Agency (NSA) was secretly gathering extensive metadata on the American public, not to mention the agency’s work abroad. Gladstein argues that when it comes to payment processors like Square and even exchanges, they can make a case they work hard to protect customer privacy. But if you start a blockchain surveillance company (as companies such as Chainalysis, CipherTrace and Elliptic have done), that’s not a defense because the explicit purpose of the company is to participate in the de-anonymization process.  De-anonymization is a process that has different components, one being the use of the blockchain to trace where funds go.  “Natively speaking, Bitcoin is very privacy-protecting because it’s not linked to your identity or your home address or your credit card history,” said Gladstein. “It’s just a freaking random address, right? And the coins are moved from one address to another. To pair these to a person and destroy their privacy requires intentional or unintentional doxxing.”

Kubernetes Security Best Practices to Keep You out of the News

Building secure containers requires scanning them for vulnerabilities — including Linux system packages, as well as application packages for dynamic languages like Python or Ruby. App developers might be accustomed to scanning application dependencies, but now that they are shipping an entire operating system with their app, they have to be supported in securing the OS as well. To support this effort at scale, consider using a tool like Cloud Native Buildpacks, which allows a platform or ops team to make standardized container builds that developers can use to drop their application into — completely replacing the Dockerfile for a project. These centralized builds can be kept up-to-date so that developers can focus on what they’re good at rather than having to be jacks-of-all-DevOps-trades. Container image scanning tools scan the layers of a built image for known vulnerabilities, and are indispensable in keeping your builds and dependencies up-to-date. They can be run during development and in CI pipelines to shift security practices left, giving developers the earliest notice of a vulnerability. The best practice is to strip your container down to the minimum needed to run the application. A great way to ruin an attacker’s day is to have a container with no shell!

Gitpaste-12 Worm Targets Linux Servers, IoT Devices

This script sets up a cron job it downloads from Pastebin. A cron job is a time-based job scheduler in Unix-like computer operating systems. The cron job calls a script and executes it again each minute; researchers believe that this script is presumably one mechanism by which updates can be pushed to the botnet. It then downloads a script from GitHub (https://raw[.]githubusercontent[.]com/cnmnmsl-001/-/master/shadu1) and executes it. The script contains comments in the Chinese language and has multiple commands available to attackers to disable different security capabilities. These include stripping the system’s defenses, including firewall rules, selinux (a security architecture for LinuxR systems), apparmor (a Linux kernel security module that allows the system administrator to restrict programs’ capabilities), as well as common attack prevention and monitoring software. The malware also has some commands that disable cloud security agents, “which clearly indicates the threat actor intends to target public cloud computing infrastructure provided by Alibaba Cloud and Tencent,” said researchers. Gitpaste-12 also features commands allowing it to run a cryptominer that targets the Monero cryptocurrency.

Data Strategies for Efficient and Secure Edge Computing Services

There is a long list of design questions that comes with executing an IoT network: where does computation happen? Where and how do you store and encrypt data? Do you require encryption for data in motion or just at rest? How do you coordinate workflows across devices? And finally, how much does this cost? While this is an intimidating list, we can build good practices that have evolved both prior to the advent of IoT and more recently with the increasing use of edge computing. First, let’s take a look at computation and data storage. When possible, computation should happen close to the data. By minimizing transmission time, you reduce the overall latency for receiving results. Remember that distributing computation can increase overall system complexity, creating new vulnerabilities in various endpoints, so it’s important to keep it simple. One approach is to do minimal processing on IoT devices themselves. A data collection device may just need to package a payload of data, add routing and authentication to the payload, then send it to another device for further processing. There are some instances, however, where computing close to the collection site is necessary.

Quote for the day:

"Superlative leaders are fully equipped to deliver in destiny; they locate eternally assigned destines." -- Anyaele Sam Chiyson

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