By Christian Mirra
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By Christian Mirra
Please feel free to share our comics via social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest. Clear attribution (Twitter example: via @cloudtweaks) to our original comic sources is greatly appreciated.
“LeEco officially launched its disruptive ecosystem model in the U.S., which breaks boundaries between screens to seamlessly deliver content and services on a wide array of connected smart devices – including smartphones, TVs, smart bikes, virtual reality and electric self-driving vehicles”
It is really tough to overstate the vast scale and ambition of LeEco. The basic concept is quite simple, they want to create an ecosystem of content and devices that can be used together seamlessly to connect you together with all your devices. Today they unveiled a brand new Smartphone, Smart TV, VR Headset, Android Powered Smart Bike, and Autonomous Electric Car (all in a day’s work).
“No other company in the world can do this. Not Apple, not Samsung, Amazon, Google, or Telsa” boasted Danny Bowman, Chief Revenue Officer.
Every month, LeEco’s online video streaming service, le.com, garners 730 million unique visitors (that’s more than double the population of the USA) and they are here to take on the US market. This had been touted as a rivalry to Netflix, but really this is a challenge to Western tech giants like Apple, Google, and Amazon. With the User Planning to User (UP2U™) program LeEco promises an integrated cross platform system, built by and for the users – “With UP2U, you are LeEco”.
LeEco are focused on the idea that the user is the foundation of everything. They pioneer a user-first philosophy that works to create a more seamless and unified experience that unites all devices. They are driven by their vertically integrated EUI that incorporates user, hardware, software and content, breaking down barriers between devices and operating systems for a truly integrated experience.
LeEco’s Ecosystem User Interface (EUI) aims to unify their ecosystem with two core principles: breaking device boundaries and putting content at the heart of the experience. In the real world this means you can cast content from your phone to your car with a simple swipe or receive notifications from your Smart Bike to your TV. EUI allows you to move your experience from one device to another; your content will always be available at a touch of a button, regardless of which device you are using.
The Ecosystem incorporates these devices along with Le Cloud (the cloud-based backbone powering LeEco’s multiple screens, smart devices and content), Le Vision Pictures and Le Vision Entertainment (one of Chinas 3 largest film studios – they are currently producing The Great Wall starring Matt Damon), Le Music (LeEco’s online live-streaming music platform and production company), Le Sports (China’s leading Internet-based eco-sports company) and Le TV (the television arm of LeEco).
At the heart of LeEco, and all this incredible integration, is what has driven LeEco from the very beginning; content. For content in the U.S., LeEco has partnered with top content providers including Lionsgate, MGM, Showtime, Vice Media, Awesomeness TV, A+E, with others being continually added. Combined with the power of content creation via Le Vision Entertainment, I have no doubt that they will soon come to rival Netflix as one of the best streaming services in the world.
LeEco has the potential to truly revolutionise integrated tech and Smart Homes. Taking on tech giants like Apple and Google in creating integrated and intuitive content and services across a wide range of devices. This is different as well though; there is no company out there that provides such a wide range of cross platform and device integration. With a competitive price structure (a 43-inch Eco Smart TV with 3-month free EcoPass membership costing $649) that is aimed at offering their service to a mass audience, they will force Apple, Google and others to not only compete technologically, but in value for money as well. Time will tell whether LeEco will have the same success in the US that they enjoyed in China, but I would back them all the way.
By Josh Hamilton
Do you remember the last time hackers and cybercriminals determined the outcome of a presidential race? Of course not, because it’s never happened. It could happen now. Without even thinking about it, we’ve slipped into a new era. I would dub this the Age of Cyber-Political Warfare. This playing-field is thick with espionage, and it’s dominated by people who have little to no political clout. Instead, they have technical know-how.
It’s common knowledge that the internet is rife with identity theft. Social profiles, email, ecommerce sites, and mobile devices all provide excellent avenues for cyber-thieves. Oftentimes, it doesn’t take hacking skills to get information. The Snapchat employees who had their information stolen were victims of an email phishing scam. All the thief had to do was pretend to be Snapchat’s CEO and ask a single employee for payroll data.
In the case of Hillary Clinton, it wasn’t hard for a cybercriminal to reveal her email activities. Data security firm Kroll points out that the revelation didn’t even technically involve hacking. Rather, it’s a high-profile case of a compromised account. The compromiser, ‘Guccifer’ Marcel Lehel Lazar, used Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) to find out personal information about Sydney Blumenthal, who is a Clinton confidant. He used Open Source information to figure out Blumenthal’s email password. From there, he discovered Clinton was using a private server to email Blumenthal. Then, Guccifer published Clinton’s private email info online.
Guccifer was sentenced to four years in prison. Is that enough to deter an onlooker from copying his crimes? Apparently not, because Guccifer 2.0 has surfaced to release more stolen information. According to the original Guccifer, this kind of digital detective work is “easy… easy for me, for everybody.” Everybody can hunt down information that could potentially determine the result of a political election. This puts a brand new kind of power in the hands of the many. Anyone smart enough to follow trails of data online can be a player in the Age of Cyber-Political Warfare.
The biggest player here is Russia. The White House is certain that Russia’s state-sponsored hackers compromised Democratic National Committee email accounts, with the intent of influencing the election. Secureworks reports that the hackers used a phishing scam. They made it look like members of the Clinton campaign and the DNC were logging into Gmail accounts. The login page was fake, and through it the hackers gained login data. Reportedly, Russian hacking group Fancy Bear used Bitly to setup the malicious URLs, which read ‘accounts-google.com’ instead of accounts.google.com. Now Bitly isn’t just a customer experience platform and IBM partner. It’s an unwitting tool in the hands of malicious hackers.
Obama promised a proportional response to the hacks. What would cyberwar with Russia look like? If a ‘proportional response’ is coming, we’ll see the release of inside information about Vladimir Putin or other high-ranking Russian officials. But how this would influence Russian politics, no one can be sure. Russia could merely cite our desire to get revenge and brush any sort of leaks off as petty attempts to disparage Russian officials.
One thing is clear: to be a politician now, you have to be, at minimum, cognizant of cyber threats. While American politics is stuck in the binary of red vs. blue, the fluid and fast world of the web is a much more complex place. It’s a place where people wheel-and-deal on a multinational level. It’s a powerful place to reach people and to access their data. Politicians want to use the internet as a tool, but by doing so they’re placing their data and their information at risk. In the Age of Cyber-Political Warfare, that data will continue to be a weapon for invisible and powerful opponents.
By Daniel Matthews
Over the past few years, cloud computing has been evolving at a rapid rate. It is becoming the norm in today’s software solutions. Forrester believes that that cloud computing will be a $191 billion market by 2020. According to the 2016 State of Cloud Survey conducted by RightScale, 96% of its respondents are using the cloud, with more enterprise workloads shifting towards public and private clouds. Adoption in both hybrid cloud and DevOps have gone up as well.
So where could the cloud computing market be headed next? Could the next wave of cloud computing involve artificial intelligence? It certainly appears that way. In a market that is primarily dominated by four major companies – Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM – AI could possibly disrupt the current dynamic.
In the past few years, there has been a surge of investment in AI capabilities in cloud platforms. The big four (Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM) are making huge strides in the AI world. Microsoft is currently offering more than twenty cognitive services such as language comprehension and analyzing images. Last year, Amazon’s cloud division added an AI service which lets people add analytical and predictive capabilities to their applications.
The current AI-cloud landscape can essentially be categorized into two groups: AI cloud services and cloud machine learning platforms.
AI Cloud Services
Example of AI cloud services involve technologies such as Microsoft Cognitive Services, Google Cloud Vision, and IBM Watson. In this type of model, organizations incorporate AI capabilities in applications without having to invest in expensive AI infrastructures.
Cloud Machine Learning Platforms
On the flip slide, there are cloud machine learning platforms. Machine learning is a method of data analysis which automates analytical model building. It enables for computers to find patterns automatically as well as areas of importance. Azure Machine Learning and AWS Machine Learning are examples of cloud machine learning platforms.
Recently IBM and Google having been making news in the AI realm and it reflects a shift within the tech industry towards deep learning. Just last month, IBM unveiled Project DataWorks, which is supposedly an industry first. It is a cloud-based data and analytics platform which can integrate different types of data and enable AI-powered decision making. The platform provides an environment for collaboration between business users and data professionals. Using technologies like Pixiedust and Brunel, users can create data visualizations with very minimal coding, allowing everyone in the business to gain insights at first look.
Earlier this month at an event in San Francisco, Google unveiled a family of cloud computing services which would allow any developer or business to use machine learning technologies that fuel some of Google’s most powerful services. This move is an attempt by Google to get a bigger foothold in the cloud computing market.
According to Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, computing is evolving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world. So what would a next-generation AI-first cloud like? Simply put, it would be one built around AI capabilities. In the upcoming years, we could possibly see AI being key in improving cloud services such as computing and storage. The next wave of cloud computing platforms could also see integrations between AI and the existing catalog of cloud services, such as Paas or SaaS.
It remains to be seen whether AI can disrupt the current cloud computing market, but it will definitely influence and inspire a new wave of cloud computing platforms.
By Joya Scarlata
A truly cashless society was long the realm of dystopian nightmares (or utopian dreams depending on how you look at it), however, we are suddenly heading down that particular rabbit hole much fast than many could have anticipated. A cashless society has many pros and cons, such as eliminating black markets or allowing easier (and more overbearing) regulation of government monetary policy. But how close are we really to this level of digitalisation of the economy? The Federal Reserve estimated that there will be $616.9 billion in cashless transactions in 2016, up from around $60 billion in 2010. So the question is no longer if, rather when.
Sweden issued Europe’s first banknotes in 1661, and now they are leading the world’s dash to a cashless economy. According to central bank the Riksbank, cash transactions made up just 2% of the sum total of all payments made in Sweden last year (with some predicting that figure will drop to 0.5% by 2020). Swedish buses no longer take cash, you can’t purchase a ticket for the Stockholm Metro with cash and retailers are now legally entitled to refuse cash (which would explain that only 20% of retail transactions were made with cash). Even street vendors and churches increasingly prefer card payments, and perhaps, most incredibly, only 700 out of 1600 bank branches hold or accept cash; circulation of Swedish Krona has fallen over 26 billion since 2009. Regardless of where you are or what you want to purchase, you are likely to find a sign which reads “Vi hanterar ej kontanter” (“We don’t accept cash“).
Sweden may be considered by many to be leading the charge, and perhaps legislatively they are ahead of the game, however, there are other countries taking leaps and bounds towards a cashless society (without even realising). Australia is pushing towards a cashless society at a relentless rate, with each citizen now spending an average of $1824 every month on plastic; that’s $3.08 for every $1 in cash gets withdrawn. However, Australia is only at the tipping point, with 35% of all transactions conducted without cash, there are countries far further down the rabbit hole. Singapore lead the way in the cashless world, with 61% of all transactions; The Netherlands aren’t far behind on 60% and Sweden and France both on 59%. Yet, only Sweden has introduced legislation to increase the spread of the cashless craze, so the consumer is the key catalyst in many countries shift away from physical money.
Governments in many nations have, in fact, pushed for a cashless society. A paper trail for all transactions could a huge aid in reducing crime, money laundering and tax evasion. France’s finance minister has recently stated that he plans to “fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy” in order to help fight terrorism and other threats. Similarly, former Secretary of the Treasury and economist Larry Summers has repeatedly called for scrapping the U.S. $100 bill (which is the most widely used currency note in the world). A cashless society provides the opportunity to pursue fiscal policy that would be foolish whilst cash savings still remain, negative interest rates are much more viable in this situation. From the perspective of the banks, a cash-free society gives them the opportunity to avoid complex cash handling and eliminate bank robberies, theft, and dirty money.
Niklas Arvidsson, professor at the Royal Institute of Technology and author of the popular study “The Cashless Society“, has predicted that “By 2030 we will be completely cash-free“. A fully digital economy would allow banks to track the lifestyle and spending habits of customers, arguably more than any other institution in history. Arvidsson warns in his book of the danger of access to such personal data, there is no precedent yet establishing what banks would do with this information, but there is likely to be a price to it. We are much closer to a cashless economy than you think, but is that truly where we want to go?
By Josh Hamilton
No one has ever accused the U.S. government of being technologically savvy. Aging software, systems and processes, internal politics, restricted budgets and a cultural resistance to change have set the federal sector years behind its private sector counterparts. Data and information security concerns have also been a major contributing factor inhibiting the adoption of new technologies such as the cloud. Keeping data on-premise has long-been considered to be the more secure option; however, ever-increasing incidents of hacking, data breaches and even cyber terrorism within government entities from the IRS to most recently, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), indicate that change is needed, and fast.
Slowly, but surely, a technology revolution is taking place within the public sector. Due in large part to the introduction of the Obama administration’s “Cloud First” policy in late 2010, the establishment of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), a standardized approach for conducting security assessments, authorizations and monitoring for cloud technologies, as well as innovations in cloud offerings themselves, cloud adoption among federal agencies is taking off. The General Services Administration (GSA), Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), NASA, and even the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NSA are just a few of the many agencies who have embraced cloud solutions in recent months and years. Further, with IDC’s recent Federal Cloud Forecast projecting sustained growth through 2018, the public sector is nearing its tipping point in cloud adoption.
Should this trend continue as expected, below are three reasons that cloud adoption can be the answer to close the federal government’s technology gap.
In the past, government agencies lacked a clear roadmap for evaluating and selecting authorized cloud providers, making it difficult for the technology to break through in the federal sector. According to the FedRAMP website, this resulted in, “a redundant, inconsistent, time-consuming, costly and inefficient risk management approach to cloud adoption.”
The introduction of FedRAMP has provided agencies with much-needed guidelines and structure to accelerate the use of cloud technology in all facets of the government. Today, cloud systems are authorized in a defined (and repeatable) three-step process: security assessment, leveraging & authorization, and ongoing assessment & authorization. Among its benefits, the federal program estimates that its framework will decrease costs by 30-40 percent and will reduce both time and staff resources associated with redundant cloud assessments across agencies.
In October 2015, U.S. federal government CIO Tony Scott professed his support for the cloud during a Google at Work webcast, saying:
“I see the big cloud providers in the same way I see a bank. They have the incentive, they have skills and abilities, and they have the motivation to do a much better job of security than any one company or any one organization can probably do.”
He’s right, and his comments represent a stark departure from the general consensus in the public sector just a few short years ago. Applying the same security measures and best practices to legacy, on-premise solutions requires both time and significant spend—both of which the government lacks. The competitive nature of the cloud business in recent years has challenged providers to adopt agile security practices, resulting in solutions that are secure, reliable and execute seamlessly. From email management systems to data storage services, continued cloud adoption at the federal-level will enable agencies to achieve long-term benefits that will eventually be impossible to achieve with on-premise systems, including advanced cybersecurity capabilities, guaranteed business continuity, as well as enhanced performance management functionality.
In February 2015, the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers (IAITAM) released a report criticizing the U.S. government on its IT spending. The report suggested that while the federal government spends over six times more on IT per employee than its private sector counterpart, it also wastes 50 percent of its more than $70 billion IT budget due to a lack of standardization and controls. Combined, these factors have created a breeding ground for IT failures and exploits from threats inside and outside government walls. This is further indication that the existing status quo is inefficient and is putting the government (and U.S. citizens) at risk.
Over time, leveraging the “pay-as-you-go” model of the cloud, federal sector can decrease its IT spending, creating new efficiencies. Software and application management for example, which requires abundant resources to oversee in on-premise deployments, is virtually eliminated with a cloud-based solution. From business continuity and software maintenance to eventually, compliance and IT risk-related activities, the onus, falls on the cloud provider, not the customer. Thus, federal IT workers are freed up to focus on more mission-critical initiatives, rather than spinning wheels on inefficient technology, programs and processes.
While it will take some time before the cloud truly takes off in the federal sector, it’s hard to ignore the benefits that both the private sector and forward-thinking government agencies have seen with the technology to date. The time is now to make a change for good. If the U.S. wants to be viewed as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, it’s prudent that the government itself practice what it preaches, doing what’s needed to establish the country as a leader, rather than a follower, in this rapidly-evolving digital age.
By Vibhav Agarwal
With technology at the heart of businesses today, IT systems and data are being targeted by criminals, competitors and even foreign governments. Every day, we hear about how another retailer, bank or Internet company has been hacked and private information of customers or employees stolen. Governments and oversight organizations are responding to these attacks with calls for tighter control and regulations, from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) beefing up its requirements for members to new proposed regulations targeting financial institutions in the State of New York. It is no wonder that as enterprises embrace the public cloud to run their critical applications, (See image) compliance remains one of the top concerns.
Enterprises used to regard IT compliance audits and certifications, e.g., HIPAA for hospital IT systems or PCI DSS for banks and e-commerce companies, primarily from the perspective of staying on the right side of the law. But this is changing – companies across all industries are now willing to spend on IT security and compliance, not only to deal with legal requirements but also to win customer trust and ensure that they don’t make headlines for the wrong reasons.
Security and compliance in public-cloud environments are fundamentally different from private datacenter security. Old techniques and controls (e.g., connecting to physical switch TAP/SPAN ports and sniffing traffic, installing gateway firewalls at perimeters) do not work in the cloud any more. With compliance playing a key role in IT security and governance, it is important to keep a few guidelines in mind when it comes to managing public-cloud environments.
1. Start with a dose of security common sense: Common data and information security best practices lie at the heart of compliance standards such as HIPAA and PCI DSS as well as of security frameworks such as the CIS Benchmarks for Amazon Web Services (AWS). For example, compliance rulesets for cloud environments typically stipulate password policies, encryption of sensitive data and configuration of security groups. Enterprise IT and security teams would do well to incorporate these rules into their security management, irrespective of compliance requirements.
2. Remember the shared-responsibility model: Public cloud providers such as AWS follow a shared-responsibility model; they manage the security of the cloud and leave security in the cloud (environment) to the customer. These clouds have invested heavily to build security into their products and develop customer confidence. AWS has robust controls in place to maintain security and compliance with industry standards such as PCI and ISO 27001. In going from datacenters to public cloud environments, security administrators need to understand what aspects of security compliance they are responsible for in the cloud. This requires cross-functional collaboration between the operations and security teams to map the security controls in the datacenter to those in public-cloud environments.
3. Stay compliant all the time: In the software-defined world of public clouds, where a simple configuration change can expose a private database or application server to the world, there are no second chances. Enterprises are going from periodic security checks to continuous enforcement and compliance. Businesses that develop and deploy applications in clouds need to bake security and compliance checks into the development and release process. A software build that causes a security regression or does not meet the bar for compliance should not be released to a product environment. Enterprise IT needs to ensure that the tools they use for compliance monitoring and enforcement allow them to check applications for compliance before they are deployed.
4. Automate or die: Manual security and compliance processes don’t work in the dynamic, scalable world of the public cloud. When a business’ cloud environment spans hundreds or thousands of instances across accounts, regions and virtual private clouds, just the process of gathering the data required to run a compliance audit can take days or weeks, driving up the time to compliance and increasing the risk of errors. Even a team of qualified security personnel may not be able to detect vulnerabilities and respond in a timely manner. Automation is key to survival in the public cloud. It is no wonder that Michael Coates, the trust and infosec officer of Twitter, said “Automate or die. This is the biggest thing I stick by in this day and age.” In selecting the tools to manage compliance in cloud environments, enterprise IT must regard automated data aggregation, compliance checking and enforcement of security gold standards as table stakes.
5. Don’t just find it, fix it: There is an abundance of security-monitoring products in the market today that allow administrators to find security misconfigurations and vulnerabilities but do not offer the control to fix these issues. These tools are limited in scope and utility and force enterprise IT to use a patchwork of tools to manage the security and compliance lifecycle. Businesses should pick comprehensive “find it, fix it, stay fixed” platforms that do not stop at identifying issues with the environment but offer the tools required to fix them and put safeguards and controls in place to ensure that security best practices are enforced.
Public clouds are transforming the world of enterprise IT by offering unprecedented agility and a pay-as-you-grow operational model. Clouds are also changing the rules of the game for IT security and compliance management by offering new controls and capabilities. The tools and processes that served IT well in datacenter environments will not work in the public cloud. It is time for security and compliance to be transformed as well.
By Suda Srinivasan, Vice President of Growth at Dome9
Suda is the Vice President of Growth at Dome9, where he oversees marketing and customer growth. Prior to Dome9, Suda held a senior marketing role at Nutanix where he was responsible for defining, communicating and driving the execution of the go-to-market strategy for the company’s enterprise cloud platform. Suda is a seasoned leader with extensive experience in technology, having worked in engineering, strategy consulting and marketing roles at Nutanix, Microsoft, Coraid and Deloitte
“Every minute, we are seeing about half a million attack attempts that are happening in cyberspace.” – Derek Manky, Fortinet global security strategist
Pricewaterhouse Coopers has predicted that cyber security will be one of the top risks facing financial institutions over the course of the next 5 years. They have pointed at a number of risk factors, such as the rapid growth of the Internet of Things, increased use of mobile technology, and cross border data exchange, that will contribute to this ever growing problem.
Gartner has estimated that by 2020, the number of connected devices will jump from around 6.4 billion to more than 20 billion connected devices. In other words, there will be between two and three connected devices for every human being on the planet. Derek Manky of Fortinet, told CNBC that “The largest we’ve seen to date is about 15 million infected machines controlled by one network with an attack surface of 20 billion devices. Certainly that number can easily spike to 50 million or more“. So in a world where Cyber Security seems almost unattainable, is it still possible for you, or for large companies, to remain protected?
According to Cross Domain Solutions “comprehensive security is possible by making all security data accessible and automating security procedures”, which allows threats to dealt with in real time. They suggest an approach focused on data confidentiality, data integrity and the authenticity of users and data placeholders. Although it is theoretically possible, this is unlikely to provide total cyber security in practical situations.
The expansion and widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) has become the most pressing cyber security issue over the last 5 years. Smart phones, smart watches, smart TVs and smart homes, amongst other devices, have increased the surface area for hackers to take advantage of exponentially. This combined with the problems of perimeter security in cloud-based services, the sheer size of data collection by IoT devices, and the lack of security on many modern IoT devices, mean that complete cyber security (for businesses or individuals) will become increasingly more difficult. In a move that shocked the world earlier this year, hackers made off with tens of millions of dollars from Bangladesh’s central bank by using malware to gain access to accounts. Cyber Security is a very real issue for any business that has valuable information or assets stored digitally.
It has been suggested that we should focus on strategies to reduce risk that use formulas such as cyber risk = threats X vulnerabilities X consequences; thus by reducing one of the factors to zero we can achieve complete Cyber security. The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures list has more than 50,000 recorded vulnerabilities (with more added every hour), so it is almost impossible to ensure your network can deal with an incessant wall of hackers trying to get in. James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), commented recently that businesses need to stop worrying about preventing intruders from accessing their networks. They should instead be concentrating on minimising the damage they cause when they do gain access. According to the Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report, “Security is no longer a question of if a network will be compromised. Every network will, at some point, be compromised”.
Fortunately for the tech world, the same capabilities that make networks more vulnerable can help to strengthen defences as well. Financial institutions are able to utilise big data analytics to monitor for covert threats, helping them to identify evolving external and internal security risks and react much more quickly. Whilst total cyber security may not be practically possible, the technology exists for businesses to be as security conscious as they feel they want to be. Both consumers and businesses should be assigning cyber security as the highest priority.
By Josh Hamilton
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