Daily Tech Digest - June 26, 2021

DevOps requires a modern approach to application security

As software development has picked up speed, organizations have deployed automation to keep up, but many are having trouble working out the security testing aspect of it. Current application security testing tools tend to scan everything all the time, overwhelming and overloading teams with too much information. If you look at all the tools within a CI pipeline, there are tools from multiple vendors, including open-source tools that are able to work separately, but together in an automated fashion while integrating with other systems like ticketing tools. “Application security really needs to make that shift in the same manner to be more more fine-grained, more service-oriented, more modular and more automated,” said Carey. Intelligent orchestration and correlation is a new approach being used to manage security tests, reduce the overwhelming amount of information and let developers focus on what really matters: the application. While the use of orchestration and correlation solutions are not uncommon on the IT operations side for things like network security and runtime security, they are just beginning to cross into the application development and security side of things, Carey explained.

Databricks cofounder’s next act: Shining a Ray on serverless autoscaling

Simply stated, Ray provides an API for building distributed applications. It enables any developer working on a laptop to deploy a model on a serverless environment, where deployment and autoscaling are automated under the covers. It delivers a serverless experience without requiring the developer to sign up for a specific cloud serverless service or know anything about setting up and running such infrastructure. A Ray cluster consists of a head node and a set of worker nodes that can work on any infrastructure, on-premises or in a public cloud. Its capabilities include an autoscaler that introspects pending tasks, and then activates the minimum number of nodes to run them, and monitors execution to ramp up more nodes or close them down. There is some assembly required, however, as the developer needs to register to compute instance types. Ray can start and stop VMs in the cloud of choice; the ray docs provide information about how to do this in each of the major clouds and Kubernetes. One would be forgiven for getting a sense that Ray is déjà vu all over again. Stoica, who was instrumental in fostering Spark's emergence, is taking on a similar role with Ray. 

Akka Serverless is really the first of its kind

Akka Serverless provides a data-centric backend application architecture that can handle the huge volume of data required to support today’s cloud native applications with extremely high performance. The result is a new developer model, providing increased velocity for the business in a highly cost-effective manner leveraging existing developers and serverless cloud infrastructure. Another huge bonus of this new distributed state architecture is that, in the same way as serverless infrastructure offerings allow businesses to not worry about servers, Akka Serverless eliminates the need for databases, caches, and message brokers to be developer-level concerns. ... Developers can express their data structure in code and the way Akka Serverless works makes it very straightforward to think about the “bounded context” and model their services in that way too. With Akka Serverless we tightly integrate the building blocks to build highly scalable and extremely performant services, but we do so in a way that allows developers to write “what” they want to connect to and let the platform handle the “how”. As a best practice you want microservices to communicate asynchronously using message brokers, but you don’t want all developers to have to figure out how to connect to them and interact with them. 

Windows 11 enables security by design from the chip to the cloud

The Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a chip that is either integrated into your PC’s motherboard or added separately into the CPU. Its purpose is to help protect encryption keys, user credentials, and other sensitive data behind a hardware barrier so that malware and attackers can’t access or tamper with that data. PCs of the future need this modern hardware root-of-trust to help protect from both common and sophisticated attacks like ransomware and more sophisticated attacks from nation-states. Requiring the TPM 2.0 elevates the standard for hardware security by requiring that built-in root-of-trust. TPM 2.0 is a critical building block for providing security with Windows Hello and BitLocker to help customers better protect their identities and data. In addition, for many enterprise customers, TPMs help facilitate Zero Trust security by providing a secure element for attesting to the health of devices. Windows 11 also has out of the box support for Azure-based Microsoft Azure Attestation (MAA) bringing hardware-based Zero Trust to the forefront of security, allowing customers to enforce Zero Trust policies when accessing sensitive resources in the cloud with supported mobile device managements (MDMs) like Intune or on-premises.

Switcheo — Zilliqa bridge will be a game-changer for BUILDers & HODlers!

Currently, a vast majority of blockchains operate in silos. This means that many blockchains can only read, transact, and access data within a singular blockchain. This limits blockchain user experience and hinders user adoption. Without interoperability, we have individual ecosystems where users and developers have to choose which blockchain to interact with. Once they choose a blockchain, they are limited to using its features and offerings. Not the most decentralised environment to build on right? No blockchain should be an island — and working alone doesn’t end well. We need to stay connected to different protocols so ideas, dApps and users can travel across platforms conveniently. With interoperability, users and developers can seamlessly transact with multiple blockchains and benefit from those cross-chain ecosystems, application offerings in areas like decentralised finance (DeFi), gaming, supply chain logistics, etc. The list goes on. Interoperability creates the ability for users and developers to not be stuck having to choose one blockchain over another, but rather, they can benefit from multiple chains being able to interlink.

JSON vs. XML: Is One Really Better Than the Other?

Despite resolving very similar purposes, there are some critical differences between JSON and XML. Distinguishing both can help decide when to opt for one or the other and understand which is the best alternative according to specific needs and goals. First, as previously mentioned, while XML is a markup language, JSON, on the other hand, is a data format. One of the most significant advantages of using JSON is that the file size is smaller; thus, transferring data is faster than XML. Moreover, since JSON is compact and very easy to read, the files look cleaner and more organized without empty tags and data. The simplicity of its structure and minimal syntax makes JSON easier to be used and read by humans. Contrarily, XML is often characterized for its complexity and old-fashioned standard due to the tag structure that makes files bigger and harder to read. However, JSON vs. XML is not entirely a fair comparison. JSON is often wrongly perceived as a substitute for XML, but while JSON is a great choice to make simple data transfers, it does not perform any processing or computation. 

How to Build Your Own Blockchain in NodeJS

It can be helpful to think of blockchains as augmented linked lists, or arrays in which each element points to the preceding array. Within each block (equivalent to an element in an array) of the blockchain, there contains at least the following: A timestamp of when the block was added to the chain; Some sort of relevant data. In the case of a cryptocurrency, this data would store transactions, but blockchains can be helpful in storing much more than just transactions for a cryptocurrency; The encrypted hash of the block that precedes it; and An encrypted hash based on the data contained within the block(Including the hash of the previous block). The key component that makes a blockchain so powerful is that embedded in each block's hash is the data of the previous block (stored through the previous block's hash). This means that if you alter the data of a block, you will alter its hash, and therefore invalidate the hashes of all future blocks. While this can probably be done with vanilla Javascript, for the sake of simplicity we are going to be making a Node.js script and be taking advantage of Node.js's built-in Crypto package to calculate our hashes.

5 Practices to Improve Your Programming Skills

Programmers have to write better code to impress hardware and other programmers (by writing clean code). We have to write code that will perform well in time and space factors to impress hardware. There are indeed several approaches to solve the same software engineering problem. The performance-first way motivates you to select the most practical and well-performing solution. Performance is still crucial regardless of modern hardware because accumulated minor performance issues may affect badly for the whole software system in the future. Implementing hardware-friendly solutions requires computer science fundamentals knowledge. The reason is that computer science fundamentals teach us about how to use the right data structures and algorithms. Choosing the right data structures and algorithms is the key to success behind every complex software engineering project. Some performance problems could stay hidden in the codebase. Besides, your performance test suite may not cover those scenarios. Your goal should be to apply performance patches when you spot such a problem always.

Containers Vs. Bare Metal, VMs and Serverless for DevOps

The workhorse of IT is the computer server on which software application stacks run. The server consists of an operating system, computing, memory, storage and network access capabilities; often referred to as a computer machine or just “machine.” A bare metal machine is a dedicated server using dedicated hardware. Data centers have many bare metal servers that are racked and stacked in clusters, all interconnected through switches and routers. Human and automated users of a data center access the machines through access servers, high security firewalls and load balancers. The virtual machine introduced an operating system simulation layer between the bare metal server’s operating system and the application, so one bare metal server can support more than one application stack with a variety of operating systems. This provides a layer of abstraction that allows the servers in a data center to be software-configured and repurposed on demand. In this way, a virtual machine can be scaled horizontally, by configuring multiple parallel machines, or vertically, by configuring machines to allocate more power to a virtual machine.

Debunking Three Myths About Event-Driven Architecture

Event-driven applications are often criticized for being hard to understand when it comes to execution flow. Their asynchronous and loosely coupled nature made it difficult to trace the control flow of an application. For example, an event producer does not know where the events it is producing will end up. Similarly, the event consumer has no idea who produced the event. Without the right documentation, it is hard to understand the architecture as a whole. Standards like AsyncAPI and CloudEvents help document event-driven applications in terms of listing exposed asynchronous operations with the structure of messages they produce or consume and the event brokers they are associated with. The AsyncAPI specification produces machine-readable documentation for event-driven APIs, just as the Open API Specification does for REST-based APIs. It documents event producers and consumers of an application, along with the events they exchange. This provides a single source of truth for the application in terms of control flow. Apart from that, the specification can be used to generate the implementation code and the validation logic.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is being the first egg in the omelet." -- Jarod Kintz

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