Daily Tech Digest - January 12, 2021

What industries need to avoid transformation limitations?

Already in 2020, we’ve seen dramatic change thanks to changing consumer habits, a year of online-shopping, a variety of item delivery, pick-up and return models, and store closures. These changes show no signs of slowing down in the years ahead. Likewise, another two industries that are going to undergo a sustained period of innovation-led change are the insurance and transportation industries, respectively. All three will be absorbed by broader, horizontal ecosystems. Although this change will be dramatic and may cause some unrest at first, ultimately, it will mean happier and more loyal customers and corporate leaders who are not under constant strain to reimagine the business. This change is just the tip of the iceberg. Today’s successful CEO would be wise to look at this trio of disappearing industries as canaries in the mineshaft. The evolution from vertically-oriented industries to horizontal ecosystems, constructed from a complex value chain of partners, has begun. Transportation, insurance, and retail represent the three first industries changing at a faster pace than other verticals. Any number of sweeping technological breakthroughs — artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, the internet of things, and the data-crunching power of advanced analytics — will have a similar impact on other industries.

Addressing the lack of knowledge around pen testing

Pen testing will only be truly effective if it is implemented with the right processes, including both preparation and follow-up. Before carrying out the test, it is important to have the scope and boundaries thoroughly documented. This includes safeguards and processes to cover any issues that might result in discovery, particularly when social engineering and physical security are involved. We provide our team with Get Out of Jail Free cards that explain their purpose and who to contact at the business to avoid a scenario like the Iowa arrest. However, while someone at the organization must be aware of everything the pen testers may be doing, it would be ideal that as few people as possible know about it. It’s also important to have a clear strategy for following up once the pen test results are in. Organizations are often fixated on the number of issues a pen test uncovers (usually a greater number than they were expecting). This information alone is useless, and priority should be given to implementing a plan of action to close those gaps. Given the huge variation of potential threats, the results of a pen test can feel overwhelming and dispiriting. 

Data Science Learning Roadmap for 2021

A significant part of data science work is centered around finding apt data that can help you solve your problem. You can collect data from different legitimate sources — scraping (if the website allows), APIs, Databases, and publicly available repositories. Once you have data in hand, an analyst will often find themself cleaning dataframes, working with multi-dimensional arrays, using descriptive/scientific computations, and manipulating dataframes to aggregate data. Data are rarely clean and formatted for use in the “real world”. Pandas and NumPy are the two libraries that are at your disposal to go from dirty data to ready-to-analyze data.... Data engineering underpins the R&D teams by making clean data accessible to research engineers and scientists at big data-driven firms. It is a field in itself and you may decide to skip this part if you want to focus on just the statistical algorithm side of the problems. Responsibilities of a data engineer comprise building an efficient data architecture, streamlining data processing, and maintaining large-scale data systems. Engineers use Shell (CLI), SQL, and Python/Scala to create ETL pipelines, automate file system tasks, and optimize the database operations to make them high-performance.

Donkey: A Highly-Performant HTTP Stack for Clojure

Clojure makes writing concurrent applications easy. It frees the developer from the implications of sharing state between threads. It does so by using immutable data structures, as described by Rich Hickey in his talk The Value of Values: If you have a value, if you have an immutable thing, can you give that to somebody else and not worry? Yes, you don't have to worry. Do they have to worry about you now because they both now refer to the same value? Anybody have to worry? No. Values can be shared. Because all objects are immutable, they can be concurrently accessed from multiple threads without fear of lock contention, race conditions, proper synchronization, and all the other “fun” stuff that makes writing concurrent programs so difficult to get right. The downside is that every mutating operation produces a new object with an updated state. An inefficient implementation would cause a great deal of CPU time to be wasted on copying and creating new objects and, as a result, longer and more frequent GC cycles. Fortunately, Clojure uses a Hash Array Mapped Trie (HAMT) to model its data structures internally. By sharing structures that do not change, and copying only what does, it maintains immutability and thread-safety - and does so at a minimal cost.

The UK’s struggle with digital schooling

“There is a huge digital divide and it is getting worse with schools being shut down due to Covid-19. Teachers and school leaders are trying their best to continue with online teaching by providing resources, virtual check-ins and recorded lessons,” said EdTech adviser and consultant Joysy John, who added that many children cannot access these services due to a lack of technology or connectivity. “There are many new initiatives like Oak National Academy, National Tutoring Programme and free resources from Edtech companies, but these benefit those who already have digital access. So the digital divide is going to get wider unless the government thinks of a more holistic approach and provides disadvantaged parents with additional financial and educational support.” Once the lockdown was announced, education secretary Gavin Williamson outlined a number of plans for remote education, including the mandate for schools to provide a set number of hours of “high-quality remote education for pupils”. This is of no help to those without access to online learning, so the government has tried to address the digital divide causing disparity in home schooling during pandemic lockdowns by giving laptops to those from under-privileged backgrounds – something it began doing in the UK’s first lockdown.

SolarWinds Hack Lessons Learned: Finding the Next Supply Chain Attack

It is interesting to note that FireEye's initial detection of the SolarWinds compromise didn't find complex lateral movement, or even data exfiltration. What triggered FireEye's deeper investigation, according to reports, was an unusual remote user login from a previously unknown device with an IP address in a suspect location. It was only upon further review that FireEye discovered the intrusion and ultimately traced it back to SolarWinds. This scenario, now all too real for thousands of enterprises around the world, underscores the importance -- if not necessity -- of having behavioral analytics as a key component of contemporary enterprise cybersecurity product architectures. Behavioral analytics supercharges threat detection by not only analyzing event input based on activity from users and devices, but also by using machine learning, statistical analysis and behavioral modeling to correlate and enrich events. World-class behavioral analytics technology can factor in a wide variety of data points -- such as peer groups, IP association, personal email addresses, and kinetic identifiers like badge reader activity -- to identify a malicious intrusion by stitching together a half dozen or more events that, by themselves, would seem benign.

How IT must adapt to the emerging hybrid workplace

The implications for IT are many: extended support desk hours; remote-support and remote-management tools; work-specific user training; cloud enablement of all software possible; appropriate security for distributed work; enabling multiple forms of collaboration and related activities like scheduling, whiteboarding, and availability tracking; provisioning equipment to home-based workers and/or supporting employee-provided equipment; aiding Facilities in modernizing building technologies to avoid touch-heavy surfaces; and partnering more closely with HR for policy enablement and enforcement and for appropriate monitoring. ... The workforce will not all work in the traditional office or company location, nor will they all be remote. Many people will work from home, but many people still need to work in a corporate facility, such as a production line, data center, retail store, shipping center, lab, or even traditional office. And there are employees whose work is location-agnostic but who can’t work at home due to lack of space or insufficient internet access. Gartner’s Adnams estimates that — although it varies by industry — about half of the workforce in advanced economies will need to work in a corporate facility, 25% to 30% will work permanently at home

Spotlight on home-office connectivity intensifies in 2021

"As the pandemic wears on, we are seeing organizations solidifying their plans for remote working, including adding more sophisticated hardware and software for work from home, with primary drivers including security and productivity," said Neil Anderson, senior director of network solutions at World Wide Technology, a technology and supply chain services company. "For IT, this means quickly assessing and deploying new cloud-based security models and building trust quickly in a solution," Anderson said. "We're also seeing a lot of interest in experience monitoring and optimizing software to put better analytics in place around what the home-office employee app performance is like and how to make it better." While individuals have limited options to speed up their home-office connectivity, IT can step in to provide enterprise-grade services to high-value workers for whom every minute with clients, customers, and coworkers counts, wrote Jean-Luc Valente, Cisco vice president, product management, enterprise routing and SD-WAN, in a blog post about the future of home office connectivity. "The high-value workforce needs superior connectivity that makes working at home just as fluid as being in the office with consistent connectivity and performance. ... " Valente stated.

Competition and Markets Authority battles with cookies and privacy

The CMA said it had been considering how best to address legitimate privacy concerns without distorting competition in discussions of the proposals with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), through the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum. As part of this work, the CMA said it had been in discussions with Google to gain a greater understanding of the proposed browser changes. The current investigation will provide a framework for the continuation of this work, and, potentially, a legal basis for any solution that emerges. Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said: “As the CMA found in its recent market study, Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals will potentially have a very significant impact on publishers like newspapers, and the digital advertising market. But there are also privacy concerns to consider, which is why we will continue to work with the ICO as we progress this investigation, while also engaging directly with Google and other market participants about our concerns.” The CMA said it has an open mind and has not reached any conclusions at this stage as to whether competition law has been infringed.

Verizon CEO Talks 5G, Drones, and Compute at the Edge at CES

The move to the higher capacity broadband standard has been trumpeted by others as the beginning of a new frontier with huge amounts of data moving wirelessly. Vestberg said the speed of 5G would reveal new possibilities that transform the world from playing video games to receiving deliveries. “Mobile edge compute will allow businesses to get things done more quickly and easily,” he said. Vestberg talked up the upload and download speeds of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network, which he said sees peak throughputs of at least 10 times faster that the 4G standard and more than 4 gigabits under ideal conditions. The extremely low lag of 5G, Vestberg said, could eventually make extremely delicate procedures such as remote surgery possible. He also expects the new broadband standard to ramp up the population of connected wireless devices. “In the future, 5G could support more devices than ever before,” Vestberg said. “Up to one million per square kilometer.” The wireless connections could also be support on devices moving more than 500 kmph, he said, allowing users to maintain signal on highspeed vehicles such as commuter trains, aerial drones, or self-driving cars.

Quote for the day:

"Authority without wisdom is like a heavy ax without an edge -- fitter to bruise than polish." -- Anne Bradstreet

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