Daily Tech Digest - August 24, 2022

3 reasons cloud computing doesn’t save money

Without cloud spending visibility and insights, you’re basically driving a car without a dashboard. You don’t how fast you’re going or when you’re about to run out of gas. A guessing game turns into a big surprise when cloud spending is way above what everyone initially thought. That sucking sound you hear is the value that you thought cloud computing would bring now leaving the business. Second, there is no discipline or accountability. A lack of cloud cost monitoring means we can’t see what we’re spending. The other side of this coin is a lack of accountability. Even when a business monitors cloud spending, that data is useless if everyone knows there are no penalties. Why should people change their behavior? They need known incentives to conserve cloud computing resources as well as known consequences. Accountability problems can usually be corrected by leadership making some unpopular decisions. Trust me, you’ll either deal with accountability now or wait until later when it becomes much harder to fix.

How attackers use and abuse Microsoft MFA

The legitimate owner of a thusly compromised account is unlikely to spot that the second MFA app has been added. “It is only obvious if one specifically looks for it. If one goes to the M365 security portal, they will see it; but most users never go to that place. It is where you can change your password without being prompted for it, or change an authenticator app. In day-to-day use, people only change passwords when mandated through the prompt, or when they change their phone and want to move their authenticator app,” Mitiga CTO Ofer Maor told Help Net Security. Also, an isolated, random prompt for the second authentication factor triggered by the attacker can easily not be seen or ignored by the legitimate account owner. “They get prompted, but once the attacker authenticates on the other authenticator, that prompt disappears. There is no popup or anything that says ‘this request has been approved by another device’ (or something of that sort) to alert the user of the risk. ... ” Maor noted.

The emergence of the chief automation officer

AI and automation can transform IT and business processes to help improve efficiencies, save costs and enable people — employees — to focus on higher-value work. Two of the most important areas of IT operations in the enterprise are issue avoidance and issue resolution because of the massive impact they have on cost, productivity, and brand reputation. The rapid digital expansion among enterprises has led to an immediate uptick in demand from IT leaders to embrace AIops tools to increase workflow productivity and ensure proactive, continuous application performance. With AIops, IT systems and applications are more reliable, and complex work environments can be managed more proactively, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. This can enable IT staff to focus on high-value work instead of laborious, time-consuming tasks, and identify potential issues before they become major problems.

How a Service Mesh Simplifies Microservice Observability

According to Jay Livens, observability is the practice to capture the system’s current state based on the metrics and logs it generates. It’s a system that helps us with monitoring the health of our application, generating alerts on failure conditions, and capturing enough information to debug issues whenever they happen. ... A major aspect of observability is capturing network telemetry, and having good network insights can help us solve a lot of the problems we spoke about initially. Normally, the task of generating this telemetry data is up to the developers to implement. This is an extremely tedious and error-prone process that doesn’t really end at telemetry. Developers are also tasked with implementing security features and making communication resilient to failures. Ideally, we want our developers to write application code and nothing else. The complications of microservices networking need to be pushed down to the underlying platform. A better way to achieve this decoupling would be to use a service mesh like Istio, Linkerd, or Consul Connect.

IT talent: 4 interview questions to prep for

Whether managers have a more hands-on approach or allow their direct reports more autonomy, identifying this during the interview process is in the best interest of both parties. Additionally, some candidates thrive in an office, while others are hoping for a completely remote position or even a hybrid option. Discussing and defining preferences and working environments helps clarify candidates’ expectations for their roles. It also benefits hiring managers, prospective employees, and the companies, which can avoid high turnover rates by being transparent in their recruiting phase. ... people generally love to talk about things that make them proud. By asking this question, hiring managers allow candidates to talk about who they are as individuals rather than just what they bring to the larger business. Obviously, pride can encompass past work projects, but some candidates might also cite volunteer contributions, family achievements, or other accomplishments. Overall, candidates should always be prepared to discuss experiences that have contributed to their growth. 

Beyond purpose statements

Many CEOs are starting to sound like politicians, throwing around lofty language that is vague and hard to pin down. And therein lies the problem, or certainly the challenge: to remain credible and trustworthy, leaders need to shift the conversation from fuzzy purpose bromides to more tangible and concrete statements about the impact their companies are having on society. That is not simply a matter of semantics, as there is a world of difference between purpose and impact. It is difficult to challenge a purpose. If a company says its reason for existing in some form or fashion is to try to make the world a better place, how can you pressure-test that claim? If that company is providing goods or services that customers are willing to pay for, and it employs people and pays vendors, then, ipso facto, it is doing something that has a perceived value. As long as it’s not doing anything criminal or unethical, it’s working “to promote the good of the people,” to borrow the language from one organization’s mission statement. But if you are claiming that you are making an impact, then you need proof. And that’s what makes a statement powerful.

Managing Expectations: Explainable A.I. and its Military Implications

AI systems can be purposefully programmed to cause death or destruction, either by the users themselves or through an attack on the system by an adversary. Unintended harm can also result from inevitable margins of error which can exist or occur even after rigorous testing and proofing of the AI system according to applicable guidelines. Indeed, even ‘regular’ operations of deployed AI systems are mired with faults that are only discoverable at the output stage. ... A primary cause for such faults is flawed training datasets and commands, which can result in misrepresentation of critical information as well as unintended biases. Another, and perhaps far more challenging, reason is issues with algorithms within the system which are undetectable and inexplicable to the user. As a result, AI has been known to produce outputs based on spurious correlations and information processing that does not follow the expected rules, similar to what is referred to in psychology as the ‘Clever Hans effect’.

POCs, Scrum, and the Poor Quality of Software Solutions

It is generally accepted that quality is the ‘reliability of a product’. ‘Reliability’ though, as we are used to think of in classical science, is the attribute of consistently getting the same results under the same conditions. In this classical view, building a Quality solution means that we should build a product that never fails. Ironically, understanding reliability this way harms Quality instead of achieving it. Aiming to build a product that never fails can only result in extremely complex systems that are hard to maintain causing Quality to degrade over time. The issue with reliability in this classical sense is the false assumption that we control all conditions, while in fact we don’t (hardware failure, network latency, external service throttling…etc.). We need to extend the meaning of reliability to also accommodate for cases when the conditions are not aligned: Quality is not only a measure of how reliable a software product is when it is up & running, but also a measure of how reliable it is when it fails. 

Critical infrastructure is under attack from hackers. Securing it needs to be a priority - before it's too late

In order to protect networks – and people – from the consequences of attacks, which could be significant, many of the required security measures are among the most commonly recommended and often simplest practices. ... Cybersecurity can become more complex for critical infrastructure, particularly when dealing with older systems, which is why it's vital that those running them know their own network, what's connected to it and who has access. Taking all of this into account, providing access only when necessary can keep networks locked down. In some cases, that might mean ensuring older systems aren't connected to the outside internet at all, but rather on a separate, air-gapped network, preferably offline. It might make some processes more inconvenient to manage, but it's better than the alternative should a network be breached. Incidents like the South Staffordshire Water attack and the Florida water incident show that cyber criminals are targeting critical infrastructure more and more. Action needs to be taken sooner rather than later to prevent potentially disastrous consequences not just for organizations, but for people too.

How to Nurture Talent and Protect Your IT Stars

Anderson adds building out growth and learning opportunities starts with the CTO. “That means ensuring we have learning and training goals identified, which is used as a critical element for annual performance expectations of our IT leaders and managers, not only for themselves, but for their staff,” he says. As Court notes, the company invests internally through the LIFT University with a cadre of continuing education and augmenting with external training. “For career growth, I recommend IT teams have a close reporting or partnership to the engineering and product teams,” Anderson adds. He says the rationale for this is simple -- as employees want to perfect their craft, they need to work for and with people that understand their craft, and push them to continually learn through team, project, and program collaboration. “As we all know, the one constant is that technology is constantly evolving, so continuous learning for employees, especially our IT team, is a must,” he says. SoftServe’s Semenyshyn says that closely monitoring employee burnout is a priority across the IT industry, pointing out the advantage of the IT business in a large global company is the possibility of rotations.

Quote for the day:

"Teamwork is the secret that make common people achieve uncommon result." -- Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha

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