Daily Tech Digest - November 21, 2022

Achieve Defense-in-Depth in Multi-Cloud Environments

Many organizations are adopting log-based solutions (from endpoint to perimeter security), which is a good first step, but logs can be bypassed or disabled. Even worse, hackers can manipulate logs to give the appearance that “everything is fine,” when in fact, they are moving between users, resources and exfiltration. The solution to this problem is to normalize visibility across the locations where your organization’s data lives – from the cloud to on-prem, and data centers. Knowing that IT and Security teams rely on logs makes them attractive targets for hackers today. However, taking a defense-in-depth approach versus logs alone is now critical to ensuring that every single entry point to your organization is secure. Network intelligence plays a huge role in gaining visibility – it is the only way to ensure visibility into all of the data in motion across your entire infrastructure and prevent risks. ... Just like cloud infrastructure management is a shared responsibility within the organization, so must enterprise security including data security be a shared responsibility. 

A Serverless-First Mindset in an Evolving Landscape

A serverless-first mindset is no doubt beneficial in a number of ways, but some businesses may have reservations in terms of the potential for vendor lock-in, the security offered by the cloud provider, existing sunk costs and other issues in debugging and development environments. However, even among the most serverless-adverse, this mindset can provide benefits to a select part of an organisation. When looking at a bank’s operations for example, the continued uptime of the underlying network infrastructure is crucial for database access, and with a serverless-first mindset, employees have the flexibility to develop consumer-facing apps and other solutions as consumer demand increases. While the maintenance of a traditional network infrastructure is crucial for uptime of the underlying database, with a serverless approach they have the freedom to implement an agile mindset with consumer-facing apps and technologies as demand grows. Agile and serverless strategies typically go hand-in-hand, and both can encourage quick development, modification and adaptation.

IT talent: The 3 C's for life/work balance

Compensation and benefits are not just lifestyle issues. Although these have virtually nothing to do with how much we enjoy our time at work or how far and fast we advance our careers, they carry a lot of psychological value in our culture because they feed ego and self-esteem. Few people who love their job, have great career prospects, work for a wonderful boss, and have a short commute will move simply for the money. Conversely, many are looking to leave high-paying jobs because their boss is a jerk, the commute is too long, or their skills are outdated. Many candidates initially cite compensation as their top criterion to make a move. Still, I have yet to meet a candidate who would accept a position sight unseen without knowing specific details of the job’s other C's. Big money or great benefits have never made a bad job good. Compensation comes to mind first because it is tangible, measurable, and has psychological power, but underlying its number-one ranking is the assumption that all the other criteria are met. Like everything else, compensation and benefits for a specific role are determined by an ever-changing marketplace.

Extortion Economics: Ransomware's New Business Model

This industrialization of cybercrime has created specialized roles in the RaaS economy. When companies experience a breach, multiple cybercriminals are often involved at different stages of the intrusion. These threat actors can gain access by purchasing RaaS kits off the Dark Web, consisting of customer service support, bundled offers, user reviews, forums, and other features. Ransomware attacks are customized based on target network configurations, even if the ransomware payload is the same. They can take the form of data exfiltration and other impacts. Because of the interconnected nature of the cybercriminal economy, seemingly unrelated intrusions can build upon each other. For example, infostealer malware steals passwords and cookies. These attacks are often viewed as less serious, but cybercriminals can sell these passwords to enable other, more devastating attacks. However, these attacks follow a common template. First comes initial access via malware infection or exploitation of a vulnerability. Then credential theft is used to elevate privileges and move laterally.

7 Microservice Design Patterns To Use

Saga pattern - This microservice design pattern provides transaction management using a sequence of local transactions. Each operation part of a saga guarantees that all operations are complete, or that the corresponding compensation transactions are run to undo the previously done work. Furthermore, in Saga, a compensating transaction should be retriable and idempotent. The two principles ensure that transactions can be managed without manual intervention. The pattern is also a way of managing data consistency across microservices in distributed transaction instances. ... Event Sourcing - Event sourcing defines an approach to handling data operations driven by a sequence of events, each of which is recorded in an append-only store. The app code sends a series of events that describe every action that happened on the data to the event store. Typically, the event store publishes these events so consumers can be notified and handle them if required. For instance, consumers could initiate tasks that apply the events operations to other systems or do any other action associated needed to complete an operation. 

Enterprises embrace SD-WAN but miss benefits of integrated approach to security

When asked to list the challenges they faced when taking a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to SD-WAN, respondents cited difficulties related to hiring and retaining a skilled in-house workforce, keeping up with technology developments and the ability to negotiate favourable terms with technology vendors. “Now that SD-WAN has matured and has been widely adopted, the complexity of deployments has grown, challenging enterprises on multiple fronts and compromising their ability to realise the full benefits of the technology,” said James Eibisch, research director, European infrastructure and telecoms, at IDC, commenting on the study. “Enterprises are increasingly reliant on the resources and expertise of a managed service provider to ensure they deploy SD-WAN in a way best suited to their meet their organisations’ objectives. Security approaches like secure access service edge (SASE) that combine the benefits of SD-WAN with zero-trust network access and content filtering features are well poised to dominate the next phase of SD-WAN enhancements as enterprises continue to enable the cloud IT model and a hybrid workforce,” he added.

Quantum computing: Should it be on IT’s strategic roadmap?

Quantum computing is a nascent field. Few companies are planning to purchase quantum computers, but there are companies that are starting to use them for competitive advantage. For this reason alone, quantum computing should have a place on IT strategic roadmaps. Financial services institutions like banks and brokerage houses are beginning to experiment with quantum computing as a way to process large volumes of financial transactions quicker. Quantum computing can also be used for financial risk analysis, as financial services companies are using quantum computing for fraud detection. Quantum computing can be used to determine worldwide supply chain risks such as weather, strikes and political unrest, with an eye toward eliminating supply chain bottlenecks before they happen. Pharmaceutical companies are experimenting with quantum computing as a way to assess the viability of new drug combinations and their beneficial and adverse effects on humans. The goal is to reduce R&D costs and speed new products to market. They are also to customize drugs to each individual patient’s situation.

Big Tech Layoffs: A Flood of Talent vs the Hiring Crisis

There has been a sea change in the prospects certain big tech players anticipated would continue to buoy their sector. Sachin Gupta, CEO of HackerEarth, says many big tech and social media platforms saw explosive growth when the pandemic changed spending patterns and drove moves to work remotely and conduct more activities online. “What the businesses started thinking was this was going to last forever, which is very natural,” he says. It is very difficult to be in the midst of such a wave, he says, and then predict that it would not continue. The reasons behind the recent layoffs and firings differ, of course. Meta’s troubles include not seeing expected traction -- such as its exploration of the metaverse. Meanwhile, Twitter is in the throws of a regime change that has been acrimonious for at least some of the rank and file of the company, which has seen sweeping layoffs, resignations, and outright firings of personnel new CEO Elon Musk no longer wanted to darken the company’s door -- office doors that Musk abruptly ordered to be shut (temporarily) and locked last week even to remaining employees.

Creating an SRE Practice: Why and How

The most important first step is to adopt the SRE philosophies mentioned in the previous section. The one that will likely have the fastest payoff is to strive to eliminate toil. CI/CD can do this very well, so it is a good starting point. If you don't have a robust monitoring or observability system, that should also be a priority so that firefighting for your team is easier. ... You can't boil the ocean. Everyone will not magically become SREs overnight. What you can do is provide resources to your team (some are listed at the end of this article) and set clear expectations and a clear roadmap to how you will go from your current state to your desired state. A good way to start this process is to consider migrating your legacy monitoring to observability. For most organizations, this involves instrumenting their applications to emit metrics, traces, and logs to a centralized system that can use AI to identify root causes and pinpoint issues faster. The recommended approach to instrument applications is using OpenTelemetry, a CNCFsupported open-source project that ensures you retain ownership of your data and that your team learns transferable skills.

The Challenge of Cognitive Load in Platform Engineering

You must never forget that you are building products designed to delight their customers - your product development teams. Anything that prevents developers from smoothly using your platform, whether a flaw in API usability or a gap in documentation, is a threat to the successful realisation of the business value of the platform. With this lens of cognitive load theory, delight becomes a means of qualifying the cognitive burden the platform is removing from the development teams and their work to accomplish their tasks. The main focus of the platform team, as described by Kennedy, is "on providing “developer delight” whilst avoiding technical bloat and not falling into the trap of building a platform that doesn’t meet developer needs and is not adopted." She continues by noting the importance of paved paths, also known as Golden Paths: By offering Golden Paths to developers, platform teams can encourage them to use the services and tools that are preferred by the business. 

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is familiar, but not well understood." -- Gerald Weinberg

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