Both IT organisations and cloud service providers need an open cloud platform that enables them to easy build, deploy and manage cloud applications in a more agile, scalable manner to deliver customer-focused innovation, says CHEN KUN.
ICT innovation is reshaping virtually every aspect of life and work to create thriving, prosperous societies. For enterprises, big data analytics, mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT) are driving the next wave of digital business innovation, and cloud is the key enabler for this new era.
Organisations are no longer questioning whether they should use the cloud – they are well aware of the possibilities and are looking at how they can use it to achieve corporate goals. Most organisations move to the cloud to gain agility, flexibility and speed, but the cloud also plays an important role in reducing costs, with enterprises often achieving significant savings when running their services on cloud.
In fact, by reducing the complexity and costs associated with traditional IT approaches, the cloud is enabling enterprises to shift resources to strategic activities that create business innovation and value.
But as cloud choices are growing rapidly, critical decisions have to be made. Cloud requires careful planning and testing to ensure the deployment of high-performing solutions and services.
Hybrid Cloud Challenges
Enterprises can adopt cloud in two ways: private cloud and public cloud. A private cloud is a cloud platform built and owned by companies themselves, whereas a public cloud utilises cloud services rendered over a network that is open for public use.
A hybrid delivery model that combines traditional IT, private cloud and public cloud, is the most likely option as enterprises move to the cloud. A hybrid cloud offers maximum asset utilisation and cost-effectiveness, leverages IT security, and provides high IT availability and service flexibility.
However, most hybrid cloud solutions are isolated, homogeneous solutions. What’s more, public cloud within hybrid cloud is prone to security and network instability risks. Therefore, enterprises face challenges when deploying or migrating their service applications on a hybrid cloud.
The adoption of hybrid cloud has been slow in South Africa. Two of the major reasons are the concerns over the shortage of reliable infrastructure, such as energy which impacts communications, and sufficient high-speed fibre which are the foundations for using hybrid cloud. This, together with concerns of security and migration costs, causes companies to prefer using private cloud. However, with recent developments, these concerns are being addressed with more fibre being deployed, which will enable the practical use of hybrid clouds.
Demand for Cloud Service Brokerage
As enterprises move to the cloud, they are increasingly looking to cloud services brokerage (CSB), which provides third-party assistance to set up and run cloud services. The goal of CSB is to make the service more specific to a company, or to integrate or aggregate services in order to enhance their security, or to do anything which adds a significant layer of value (i.e. capabilities) to the original cloud services being offered. They offer at least one of three capabilities:
· Cloud Service Intermediation: An intermediation broker provides value-added services on top of existing cloud platforms, such as identity or access management capabilities.
· Aggregation: An aggregation broker provides the “glue” to bring together multiple services and ensure the interoperability and security of data between systems.
· Cloud Service Arbitrage: A cloud service arbitrage provides flexibility and “opportunistic choices” by offering multiple similar services to select from.
As IT moves from on-premise to the cloud, CSBs will play an increasingly important role in helping companies efficiently navigate and deploy cloud services, particularly for mission-critical applications, where the company cannot risk issues with deployment. In fact, the global CSB market will grow from $1.6 billion in 2013 to $10.5 billion by 2018, growing 46.2 percent per year, according to MarketsandMarkets.
However, internal CSBs are also emerging within IT departments to deliver cloud-based services and ensure third party compliance with enterprise security and governance policies. Moving forward, effective brokering will be essential for cloud-enabled enterprises.
One trend that is easing the job of cloud service brokers is the increasing standardisation of services and platforms on which enterprise applications are being developed and deployed.
Open Cloud Drives Enterprise Transformation
Both IT organisations and CSBs need an open cloud platform that enables them to rapidly build, deploy and manage cloud applications in a more agile, scalable manner to deliver the ultimate customer-focused innovation. An effective cloud platform that is able to seamlessly run computing, storage, and network resources from different vendors on the same data centre, can help the integration and optimisation of existing data centres and service platforms, and enhancing service system reliability and IT operating efficiency.
Creating a healthy cloud ecosystem across the Internet industry through open, integrated, and innovative technologies and strong partnerships, is the foundation of the new cloud era. Huawei adheres to the principles of openness, cooperation and win-win partnership, and is committed to working with industry alliance partners to provide organisations with innovative cloud solutions that accelerate their cloud journeys.
* Chen Kun, Vice President of Cloud Computing, IT Product Line, Huawei Technologies
Which IoT horse should you back?
The emerging IoT is evolving at a rapid pace with more companies entering the market. The development of new product and communication systems is likely to continue to grow over the next few years, after which we could begin to see a few dominant players emerge, says DARREN OXLEE, CTOf of Utility Systems.
But in the interim, many companies face a dilemma because, in such a new industry, there are so many unknowns about its trajectory. With the variety of options available (particularly regarding the medium of communication), there’s the a question of which horse to back.
Many players also haven’t fully come to grips with the commercial models in IoT (specifically, how much it costs to run these systems).
Which communication protocol should you consider for your IoT application? Depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s a summary of the main low-power, wide area network (LPWAN) communications options that are currently available, along with their applicability:
SigFox has what is arguably the most traction in the LPWAN space, thanks to its successful marketing campaigns in Europe. It also has strong support from vendors including Texas Instruments, Silicon Labs, and Axom.
It’s a relatively simple technology, ultra-narrowband (100 Hz), and sends very small data (12 bytes) very slowly (300 bps). So it’s perfect for applications where systems need to send small, infrequent bursts of data. Its lack of downlink capabilities, however, could make it unsuitable for applications that require two-way communication.
LoRaWAN is a standard governed by the LoRa Alliance. It’s not open because the underlying chipset is only available through Semtech – though this should change in future.
Its functionality is like SigFox: it’s primarily intended for uplink-only applications with multiple nodes, although downlink messages are possible. But unlike SigFox, LoRa uses multiple frequency channels and data rates with coded messages. These are less likely to interfere with one another, increasing the concentrator capacity.
Ingenu Technology Solutions has developed a proprietary technology called Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) in the 2.4 GHz band. Due to its architecture, it’s said to have a superior uplink and downlink capacity compared to other models.
It also claims to have better doppler, scheduling, and interference characteristics, as well as a better link budget of 177 dB compared to LoRa’s 157 dB and SigFox’s 149 dB. Plus, it operates in the 2.4 GHz spectrum, which is globally available for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so there are no regional architecture changes needed – unlike SigFox and LoRa.
LTE-M (LTE Cat-M1) is a cellular technology that has gained traction in the United States and is specifically designed for IoT or machine‑to‑machine (M2M) communications.
It’s a low‑power wide‑area (LPWA) interface that connects IoT and M2M devices with medium data rate requirements (375 kb/s upload and download speeds in half duplex mode). It also enables longer battery lifecycles and greater in‑building range compared to standard cellular technologies like 2G, 3G, or LTE Cat 1.
Key features include:
· Voice functionality via VoLTE
· Full mobility and in‑vehicle hand‑over
· Low power consumption
· Extended in‑building range
Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT or LTE Cat NB1) is part of the same 3GPP Release 13 standard3 that defined LTE Cat M1 – both are licensed as LPWAN technologies that work virtually anywhere. NB-IoT connects devices simply and efficiently on already established mobile networks and handles small amounts of infrequent two‑way data securely and reliably.
NB‑IoT is well suited for applications like gas and water meters through regular and small data transmissions, as network coverage is a key issue in smart metering rollouts. Meters also tend to be in difficult locations like cellars, deep underground, or in remote areas. NB‑IoT has excellent coverage and penetration to address this.
The LPWAN technology stack is fluid, so I foresee it evolving more over the coming years. During this time, I suspect that we’ll see:
1. Different markets adopting different technologies based on factors like dominant technology players and local regulations
2. The technologies diverging for a period and then converging with a few key players, which I think will be SigFox, LoRa, and the two LTE-based technologies
3. A significant technological shift in 3-5 years, which will disrupt this space again
So, which horse should you back?
I don’t believe it’s prudent to pick a single technology now; lock-in could cause serious restrictions in the long-term. A modular, agile approach to implementing the correct communications mechanism for your requirements carries less risk.
The commercial model is also hugely important. The cellular and telecommunications companies will understandably want to maximise their returns and you’ll want to position yourself to share an equitable part of the revenue.
So: do your homework. And good luck!
Ms Office hack attacks up 4X
Exploits, software that takes advantage of a bug or vulnerability, for Microsoft Office in-the-wild hit the list of cyber headaches in Q1 2018. Overall, the number of users attacked with malicious Office documents rose more than four times compared with Q1 2017. In just three months, its share of exploits used in attacks grew to almost 50% – this is double the average share of exploits for Microsoft Office across 2017. These are the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q1 IT threat evolution report.
Attacks based on exploits are considered to be very powerful, as they do not require any additional interactions with the user and can deliver their dangerous code discreetly. They are therefore widely used; both by cybercriminals looking for profit and by more sophisticated nation-backed state actors for their malicious purposes.
The first quarter of 2018 experienced a massive inflow of these exploits, targeting popular Microsoft Office software. According to Kaspersky Lab experts, this is likely to be the peak of a longer trend, as at least ten in-the-wild exploits for Microsoft Office software were identified in 2017-2018 – compared to two zero-day exploits for Adobe Flash player used in-the-wild during the same time period.
The share of the latter in the distribution of exploits used in attacks is decreasing as expected (accounting for slightly less than 3% in the first quarter) – Adobe and Microsoft have put a lot of effort into making it difficult to exploit Flash Player.
After cybercriminals find out about a vulnerability, they prepare a ready-to-go exploit. They then frequently use spear-phishing as the infection vector, compromising users and companies through emails with malicious attachments. Worse still, such spear-phishing attack vectors are usually discreet and very actively used in sophisticated targeted attacks – there were many examples of this in the last six months alone.
For instance, in late 2017, Kaspersky Lab’s advanced exploit prevention systems identified a new Adobe Flash zero-day exploit used in-the-wild against our customers. The exploit was delivered through a Microsoft Office document and the final payload was the latest version of FinSpy malware. Analysis of the payload enabled researchers to confidently link this attack to a sophisticated actor known as ‘BlackOasis’. The same month, Kaspersky Lab’s experts published a detailed analysis of СVE-2017-11826, a critical zero-day vulnerability used to launch targeted attacks in all versions of Microsoft Office. The exploit for this vulnerability is an RTF document containing a DOCX document that exploits СVE-2017-11826 in the Office Open XML parser. Finally, just a couple of days ago, information on Internet Explorer zero day CVE-2018-8174 was published. This vulnerability was also used in targeted attacks.
“The threat landscape in the first quarter again shows us that a lack of attention to patch management is one of the most significant cyber-dangers. While vendors usually issue patches for the vulnerabilities, users often can’t update their products in time, which results in waves of discreet and highly effective attacks once the vulnerabilities have been exposed to the broad cybercriminal community,” notes Alexander Liskin, security expert at Kaspersky Lab.
Other online threat statistics from the Q1, 2018 report include:
- Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 796,806,112 malicious attacks from online resources located in 194 countries around the world.
- 282,807,433 unique URLs were recognised as malicious by web antivirus components.
- Attempted infections by malware that aims to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered on 204,448 user computers.
- Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected a total of 187,597,494 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.
- Kaspersky Lab mobile security products also detected:
- 1,322,578 malicious installation packages.
- 18,912 mobile banking Trojans (installation packages).
To reduce the risk of infection, users are advised to:
- Keep the software installed on your PC up to date, and enable the auto-update feature if it is available.
- Wherever possible, choose a software vendor that demonstrates a responsible approach to a vulnerability problem. Check if the software vendor has its own bug bounty program.
· Regularly run a system scan to check for possible infections and make sure you keep all software up to date.
- Businesses should use a security solution that provides vulnerability, patch management and exploit prevention components, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business. The patch management feature automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and proactively patches them. The exploit prevention component monitors suspicious actions of applications and blocks malicious files executions.