Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Update: Timeline of the Massive DDoS DYN Attacks

Update: Timeline of the Massive DDoS DYN Attacks

DYN DDOS Timeline

This morning at 7am ET a DDoS attack was launched at Dyn (the site is still down at the minute), an Internet infrastructure company whose headquarters are in New Hampshire. So far the attack has come in 2 waves, the first at 11.10 UTC and the second at around 16.00 UTC. So far details have been vague, though there are a number of theories starting to surface in the aftermath of the attack. The attack took down numerous websites including Twitter, Amazon, Spotify and Reddit for a period – you can find the full list of affected sites here. PSN and Xbox live apps have also been affected!

scan-iot

The timeline of events according to the DYN updates is as follows:

11:10 UTC- We began monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Some customers may experience increased DNS query latency and delayed zone propagation during this time.

12:45 UTC – This attack is mainly impacting US East and is impacting Managed DNS customers in this region. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

13:36 UTC – Services have been restored to normal as of 13:20 UTC.

16:06 UTC – As of 15:52 UTC, we have begun monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

16:48 UTC – This DDoS attack may also be impacting Dyn Managed DNS advanced services with possible delays in monitoring. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue.

17:53 UTC – Our engineers continue to investigate and mitigate several attacks aimed against the Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure.

18:23 UTC – Dyn Managed DNS advanced service monitoring is currently experiencing issues. Customers may notice incorrect probe alerts on their advanced DNS services. Our engineers continue to monitor and investigate the issue.

18:52 UTC – At this time, the advanced service monitoring issue has been resolved. Our engineers are still investigating and mitigating the attacks on our infrastructure.

20:37 UTC – Our engineers continue to investigate and mitigate several attacks aimed against the Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure.

Cloud Disaster Recovery

The attack has come only a few hours after Doug Madory, DYN researcher, presented a talk (you can watch it here) on DDoS attacks in Dallas at a meeting of the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG). Krebs on Security has also drawn links between reports of extortion threats posted on this thread, with the threats clearly referencing DDoS attacks – “If you will not pay in time, DDoS attack will start, your web-services will go down permanently. After that, price to stop will be increased to 5 BTC with further increment of 5 BTC for every day of attack.”

They do however, distance themselves from making any actual claims of extortion, “Let me be clear: I have no data to indicate that the attack on Dyn is related to extortion, to Mirai or to any of the companies or individuals Madory referenced in his talk this week in Dallas

However, this isn’t the only theory circulating at the moment. Dillon Townsel from IBM security has tweeted:

Heavy.com has reported that hacking group PoodleCorp are being blamed for the attack by Product-reviews.net because of the cryptic tweet that they posted 2 days ago, “October 21st #PoodleCorp will be putting @Battlefield in the oven

PoodleCorp famously took down the Pokemon Go servers in July. Homeland Security and the FBI are investigating the attack and are yet to deem who was responsible.

Today’s attack is very different to the DDoS style that Anonymous rose to fame with. Instead of attacking and taking out an individual website for short periods of time, hackers took down a massive piece of the internet backbone for an entire morning, not once but twice with new reports of a potential 3rd wave. At the moment there have been no claims of ownership for the attack nor has there been any concrete evidence of who perpetrated the attack.

Dyn are well known for publishing detailed reports on attacks of this nature so we can only hope they will do the same for their own servers.

Until then you can follow any updates that Dyn are releasing here.

DDoS Attack – Update 10/24/2016

As of 22.17 UTC on October 21st Dyn declared the massive IoT attack, which had crippled large parts of the internet, to be over. However, details surrounding the attack are still emerging.

In the midst of the chaos, WikiLeaks tweeted this,  “Mr. Assange is still alive and WikiLeaks is still publishing. We ask supporters to stop taking down the US internet. You proved your point.

ddos-graph

– suggesting that they knew who the perpetrators were. Perhaps even that they requested that attack, although this is pure speculation at this point.

A senior U.S. intelligence official spoke to NBC News, he commented that the current assessment is that this is a case of “internet vandalism”. At this point, they do not believe that it was any kind of state-sponsored or directed attack.

Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology, who specialise in DVRs and internet-connected cameras, said on Sunday that its products security vulnerabilities inadvertently played a role in the cyberattack, citing weak default passwords in its products as the cause.

Security researchers have discovered that malware known as Mirai was used to take advantage of these weaknesses by infecting the devices and using them to launch huge distributed denial-of service attacks. Mirai works by infecting and taking over IoT devices to create a massive connected network, which then overloads sites with requests and takes the website offline.

At this point we do not know when the identity of the hackers will become clear. Watch this page for more updates as they become available.

By Josh Hamilton

Reuters News: Powerfull DDoS Knocks Out Several Large Scale Websites

Reuters News: Powerfull DDoS Knocks Out Several Large Scale Websites

DDoS Knocks Out Several Websites

Cyber attacks targeting the internet infrastructure provider Dyn disrupted service on major sites such as Twitter and Spotify on Friday, mainly affecting users on the U.S. East Coast.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible. Officials told Reuters that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were both investigating.

The disruptions come at a time of unprecedented fears about the cyber threat in the United States, where hackers have breached political organizations and election agencies.

Homeland Security last week issued a warning about a powerful new approach for blocking access to websites – hackers infecting routers, printers, smart TVs and other connected devices with malware that turns them into “bot” armies that overwhelm website servers in distributed denial of service attacks.

Dyn said it had resolved one attack, which disrupted operations for about two hours, but disclosed a second attack a few hours later that was causing further disruptions.

In addition to the social network Twitter and music-streamer Spotify, the discussion site Reddit, hospitality booking service Airbnb and The Verge news site were among companies whose services were disrupted on Friday.

Amazon.com Inc’s web services division, one of the world’s biggest cloud computing companies, also reported a related outage, which it said was resolved early Friday afternoon.

Dyn is a Manchester, New Hampshire-based provider of services for managing domain name servers (DNS), which act as switchboards connecting internet traffic. Requests to access sites are transmitted through DNS servers that direct them to computers that host websites.

Its customers include some of the world’s biggest corporations and Internet firms, such as Pfizer, Visa, Netflix and Twitter, SoundCloud and BT.

Dyn said it was still trying to determine how the attack led to the outage but that its first priority was restoring service.

Attacking a large DNS provider can create massive disruptions because such firms are responsible for forwarding large volumes of internet traffic.

Full Article Source: Reuters

Cashless Society Part 2: Pros and Cons

Cashless Society Part 2: Pros and Cons

The Cashless Society

Having looking at our movement towards a cashless society in Part 1, I thought we should turn our attention to the consequences of a truly cashless society. Could it be a force for good? Or could it lead to banks and governments abusing the power that comes along with it?

The phasing out of cash in the economy would make implementation of certain fiscal policies, such as negative interest rates, far easier and more effective. Kenneth Rogoff, author of “The Curse of Cash”, cites negative interest rates as an important tool for central banks to restore macroeconomic stability; the incentive to borrow and spend help stimulate the economy. By holding all currency in regulated accounts the government can tax savings in the name of monetary policy.

Kenneth RogoffOne of the more widely used arguments in favour of a cashless economy is that of security. 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. With the ability to track every transaction that takes place, intelligence services could cut down on crime by monitoring purchases and money transfers. However, Rogoff acknowledges the limitations of this policy, in that the removal of paper money will only be effective “provided the government is vigilant about playing whac-a-mole as alternative transaction media come into being“. Although, it is naïve to think that crime could be quashed so easily. If interest rates fall too far below zero, it is quite possible that citizens would find an alternative to cash (drug traffickers certainly would). Money has been reinvented time and again throughout history, as shells, cigarettes and cryptographic code. Going cashless has also been touted as being more secure from theft, with Apple and Google claiming their payment system is more secure than regular banking, as well as being more convenient than cash.

Yet there are a number of concerns that have been raised about the transition to digital money. Advances in tech have allowed credit and debit card purchases to be tracked and evaluated to gauge the validity of a purchase. This has so far been used to prevent fraud and theft, to protect consumers. However, there is a risk of abuse here, for example in 2010 Visa and Mastercard gave in to government pressure, not even physical legislation, and barred all online-betting payments from their systems. They made it virtually impossible for these gambling sites to operate regardless of their jurisdiction or legality. Scott A. Shay, chairman of Signature Bank, suggested in an article on CNBC that “the day might come when the health records of an overweight individual would lead to a situation in which they find that any sugary drink purchase they make through a credit or debit card is declined”. Although this may seem like a stretch, a government with access to this sort of power could quite easily control individual spending.

A cashless society would also increase the difficulties for homeless people to re-integrate into society. Having no fixed address already makes holding a bank account incredibly difficult, a cash free society simply increases the societal barriers that those on the fringes of society have to navigate. There is also the psychological issue, that electronic payment encourages frivolous spending. A student interviewed at the University of Gothenberg commented that she was much more likely to think twice about spending a 500 krona note compared to with a debit or credit card.

The other side of the coin (pardon the pun), is that this power could be used for good, for example placing restrictions on recovering alcoholics from purchasing alcohol. The route which this technology will take is, as is often the case, determined by the government and societal attitude to the situation. There is room for abuse in the technology, more than most, but the benefits are well documented and used sensibly could help prevent terrorism and crime, reduce tax evasion, and help to curb unhealthy spending habits. Ultimately, a cashless society will be what we make of it.

By Josh Hamilton

Ground Breaking: 1.3 Megawatt Solar System for Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center

Ground Breaking: 1.3 Megawatt Solar System for Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center

BAKERSFIELD, CA–(Marketwired – October 20, 2016) – Cenergy Power and the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center (CBCC) have announced the groundbreaking of a 1.3 megawatt (MW) solar canopy system at CBCC’s Bakersfield facilities. The project will generate an estimated 1,850 megawatt hours (MWh) per year which is equivalent to the electricity usage of approximately 170 homes; while offsetting roughly 1,400 tons of CO2 emissions annually.

The idea of offsetting the majority of the Cancer Center’s carbon footprint plays perfectly with our value of the community and sensitivity towards potential environmental impacts,” says CBCC’s founder, Dr. Ravi Patel. “After several months of interviews with some of California’s top solar companies, we finally made the decision to move forward with Cenergy Power in order to materialize our objective.

The CBCC has treated over 100,000 patients since it first opened in Bakersfield, offering patients access to all aspects of the world’s best cancer care, the most advanced cancer treatment and detection tools, and cutting edge clinical trials. The seven-acre cancer center campus with over hundred thousand square feet is one of the largest free-standing cancer centers on the west coast. When complete, the solar system is projected to offset nearly 100% of the cancer center’s electrical usage.

There is tremendous excitement at Cenergy Power for this project with the CBCC,” commented Chad Chahbazi, Director of Business Development at Cenergy Power. “We look forward to helping such a wonderful organization offset their CO2 emissions, allowing them to focus on their mission to provide continued medical and cancer treatment to those in need.”

About Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center (CBCC)

CBCC was founded by Dr. Ravi Patel in 1984 with the sole mission of providing compassionate care for diagnosis, treatment, patient education and prevention of cancer using a state-of-the-art treatment approach. CBCC’s facilities, located in Bakersfield, California, occupy more than 100,000 sq. feet. CBCC has been a leader in oncology in the areas of patient care, technology and clinical research. Since then the Center has grown to become the number one accrual site for UCLA and Bristol Myers Squibb.

About Cenergy Power

Cenergy Power is a leading solar integrator delivering unmatched value to commercial, agricultural and utility customers throughout the US. Based on installed capacity and year after year growth, Cenergy is the only commercial solar contractor to rank “Top Ten” in North America consecutively since 2013 by Solar Power World, a leading solar industry publication, Cenergy is comprised of seasoned professionals in the areas of power engineering, construction management and project financing.

LeEco: Cloud Ecosystem of Content and Devices

LeEco: Cloud Ecosystem of Content and Devices

LeEco US Launch

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

Politics 2.0: The Age of Cyber-Political Warfare

Politics 2.0: The Age of Cyber-Political Warfare

Cyber-Political Warfare

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.

hacks

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

Ouissam Youssef: The Value of a Vertical Market Orientation

Ouissam Youssef: The Value of a Vertical Market Orientation

Vertical Market Orientation

Sponsored series by the Valsef Group

Vertical markets supply products and services to a specific industry (i.e. banking, real estate, insurance) with precise user specifications, and thus vertical market software offers developments for niche applications which are already customized to serve their target market. Typically the competition in these markets is smaller as only a few organizations with the requisite skills will spend the time and effort developing such intricate constructions; this serves as both opportunity and risk since a worthy product will find a loyal customer base, but if not adequately serviced these same customers could mean complete ruin.

Targeted Solutions

Technology offers us a host of horizontal market services and platforms from email solutions to marketing platform to bookkeeping software. They’re necessary for every business venture and with their global market it’s unsurprising that such products exist in the multitudes. Many of these horizontal market services are becoming highly customizable and are in some cases even tailored to the clients who use them but many specialists still maintain that the solutions possible with vertical market software surpass any one-size-fits-all product. Says Ouissam Youssef, founder and CEO of Valsef Capital, “What makes vertical market software so interesting to us is that generally big companies, and thus big R&D dollars, tend to shy away from vertical markets because they’re too small to warrant the investment. This creates a situation where a company can operate profitably without the constant influx of ‘irrational money’ attacking it. It is not uncommon to run across VMS companies that have average client tenures over ten to fifteen years.”

Entering a Vertical Market

developing-markets

The targeted solutions of vertical market software can be lucrative investments but only with the necessary groundwork and infrastructure. A substantial amount of sales and marketing investment is required, along with the core skills able to create a valuable product. Without a high level of experience and expertise in an industry, it’s unlikely a product will thrive in a vertical market, just as without the sales teams that understand both the technology and its role such software is unlikely to find a foothold.

There are, however, a few key practices which can assist. For starters, it’s necessary to have a grasp of the existing industry exposure. Certain industry segments are already highly diluted with vertical market software while others have too often been looked over. Concentrating on a segment with greater demand than supply is just good business sense. However, finding a market with high demand is not enough. The long-term prospects of any vertical need to be understood for an investment that’s going to grow. Finding such a market with both demand and longevity is a veritable recipe for success. Once the relevant niche has been targeted it’s crucial to provide the essential resources and commitment to a product. Operational excellence and networking shape customer loyalty and make it that much more difficult for future competitors to enter the same market.

Wise Investments

Valsef Group, a technology investment group with the aim to grow both capital investment and the companies they back, invests in vertical market software companies via Valsoft Corp. Investing in stable businesses and fostering an entrepreneurial environment post-acquisition, the group cultivates such investments into industry leaders with an eye to long-term partnerships and lasting reward. Says Youssef, “We at Valsoft invest with a 40 year time horizon; we feel that differentiates us in this day and age. We look for companies that will withstand the test of time. We find there tends to be quite a few of those in the VMS business and that’s why we’re in it; there are many businesses worth taking care of.”

By Jennifer Klostermann

CloudTweaks Comics
Cloud Infographic – Interesting Big Data Facts

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What You Need To Know About Choosing A Cloud Service Provider

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Smart Connected Cities Must Learn To Efficiently Collaborate

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Smart City Collaboration A study from research firm Gartner demonstrates how smart and connected cities require a large number of players to collaborate efficiently, in order to unlock the huge potential associated with cities of the future. The study focused on Europe and showed clearly how a number of Northern European and Scandinavian mid-size cities…

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Cloud Computing – A Requirement For Greater Innovation

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4 Industries Being Transformed By The Internet of Things

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