The annual VMworld Europe convention in Barcelona last week underscored the extent to which a highly technical topic is becoming mainstream, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
Not too long ago, in normal business conversations, concepts like ‚”Cloud computing‚”, ‚”virtualization‚” and ‚”data centre‚” were a great way to put someone to sleep. They were only useful to large companies’ IT administrators, and could only be discussed in highly technical terms.
But last week, at the annual VMWorld Europe convention in Barcelona, where global Cloud market leader VMware struts its stuff, the Cloud came down to earth with a mighty noise. The noise of racing engines, that is.
Among hundreds of VMware partner companies exhibiting at the event, the most visible and audible were those using Formula 1 racing cars not only as a metaphor for the business agility and mobility offered by the Cloud, but also as actual case studies of how innovative data services have enhanced the competitiveness of F1 teams.
There rode storage giant EMC, a key VMware partner, demonstrating how it ‚”accelerates Lotus F1 team’s IT‚”. If it had Psy launching a Spanish sequel to Gangnam Style, it could not have attracted a more enthusiastic crowd. Along with chip-maker Intel, it hosted an after-party with the same theme: ‚”Speed to lead‚”.
Not hands-on enough? Then you could have tried the Dell stand, and have a ride in the Caterham F1 Simulator. Also a partnership with Intel, the simulator indirectly demonstrated how driving skills were enhanced by desktop virtualization the concept of replacing hardware infrastructure with software services through the Cloud.
Of course, there is nothing the Cloud can do for the musical chairs in F1 team names that saw Team Lotus become Caterham and Renault become Lotus. To get past those awkward moments, you still need humans.
The prizes on offer at various booths further symbolised the extent to which Cloud and virtualization had become a consumer matter. Cisco, demonstrating its Unified Data Centre, was touting Kindle Fire tables and Beats Executive Headphones by Dr Dre. VCE, a ‚”converged infrastructure‚” provider, offered an iPad mini. Storage and backup specialist SimpliVity was giving away nothing less than an Audi R8 sports car.
The high-end appeal of many of these prizes underlined the business nature of the event, designed to attract both Information Technology (IT) managers and executive decision makers. As analysts pointed out at the recent Gartner Symposium in Cape Town, IT is increasingly becoming an executive decision.
As the Cloud becomes more flexible and significantly more mobile, it will be the basic tool for managing the explosion of new devices that staff members are bringing into the workplace. While the CEO, CIO and CTO arm-wrestle over whom has the final say over the IT budget, many decisions will be taken out of their hands by the ordinary employee.
‚”The end-user is a key driver of the mobile Cloud era,‚” says Ben Goodman, who sports the licence-to-thrill title of Lead Evangelist at VMware Horizon, the division looking after delivery of services to devices in the hands of individuals.
‚”Users are increasingly mobile, and their desire to use the devices of their choice to access their data and applications anywhere is a huge motivation behind this evolution,‚” he told Business Times. ‚”When the mobile Cloud era is realised, end-users will gain the quality of experience they desire and the mobile workstyle which is becoming a necessity to doing business.‚”
Goodman is also the official Cloud optimist: ‚”The end result is a happier end-user who is also more secure and productive,‚” he says.
Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso may not see themselves as typical end-users, but they will benefit as much from this new Cloud era as the humble end-user in the office cubicle.
Scammers cleaning up with gullible computer users
Kaspersky experts have detected a two-fold rise in the number of users being attacked with fake system cleaners – fraudulent programmes designed to trick users into paying for alleged serious computer issues to be fixed. The number of users hit reached 1,456,219 in the first half of 2019, compared to just 747,322 for the same period in 2018. During this time, some of the attacks have become more sophisticated and dangerous.
A slow-working or poorly performing computer is a common complaint among PC users, and there are many legitimate tools available to solve such issues. However, alongside genuine system cleaners, there are fake ones developed by fraudsters that are designed to trick users into believing their computer is in critical danger, for example through memory overload, and needs immediate cleaning. The attackers then offer to provide such a service in return for payment. Kaspersky defines and detects such programmes as ‘hoax system cleaners’.
Upon receiving user permission and payment, the fraudsters install the hoax programmes that claim to clean the PC, but which often either do nothing or install adware – an annoying, but not critical, storm of unsolicited advertising – on the computer. Increasingly, however, the cybercriminals are using the installation of hoax cleaners to download or disguise malware such as Trojans or ransomware.
The countries most affected by attacks with hoax cleaners in the first half of 2019 show how geographically widespread the threat is; leading the list is Japan with 12% of affectedusers, followed by Germany (10%), Belarus (10%), Italy (10%) and Brazil (9%).
“We’ve been watching how the phenomenon of hoax cleaners has been growing for the last couple of years, and it is a curious threat. On the one hand, many samples that we have seen are spreading more widely and becoming more dangerous, evolving from a simple ‘fraudulent’ scheme into fully functioning and dangerous malware. On the other hand, they are so widespread and seemingly innocent, that it is much easier for them to trick users into paying for a service, rather than frightening them with screen blockers and other unpleasant malware. However, these two ways end up with the same results with users losing their money,” says Artemiy Ovchinnikov, security researcher at Kaspersky.
Kaspersky detects hoax system cleaners as:
To avoid falling victim to hoax threats, Kaspersky researchers advise users to:
- Always check that the PC services that you are about to adopt are legitimate and easy to understand. If it sounds confusing, use a search engine to find out more about the service as there may be a more detailed explanation available
- Use a reliable security solution for comprehensive protection with a clean-up function for a wide range of threats and PC cleansing, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud.
- If you are purposely looking for a PC cleaner, use reliable, IT-targeted sources of information for recommendations, with a long-built reputation and software reviews.
Read the full report on Kaspersky Daily.
Trend Micro unveils security suite for Azure in Africa
Cybersecurity leader Trend Micro Incorporated has announced highly optimised security solutions for Microsoft Azure workloads for customers in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Trend Micro Deep Security suite takes into consideration that a customer needs to approach cloud security differently than one would traditional security. As a result, it is fully optimised for Microsoft Azure. The suite ensures that a customer can tap into a solution that provides flexible, scalable protection of operating systems, applications, and data without slowing you down.
“Microsoft is an important partner to Trend Micro and as a result we have built a series of technologies that support their position in the cloud,” says Indi Siriniwasa, vice president at Trend Micro Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our security solutions are uniquely optimised for Microsoft Azure and complement Microsoft Azure Security Centre so customers across the world continue to turn to Trend Micro to help better secure their Azure real estate. With Microsoft Azure now available from new cloud regions in South Africa, customers can rest assured that we support the use of Microsoft to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads.
“This will help customers to ensure that their security follows them from their physical environment to the cloud and back again, customers can automate security with Microsoft PowerShell scripting to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads plus many other orchestration tools for Azure, including Chef, Puppet, and RightScale, we can also help clients to better automate security control deployments.”
With Deep Security for Azure, businesses can detect and protect against intrusions as well as protect their business against serious vulnerabilities with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS). The solution will also help uncover suspicious changes to a system and immediately highlight and alert the business to these activities – without security admins having to manually sort through logs.
It also has the ability to keep malware off of workloads by using predictive machine learning mechanisms to detect unknown threats and prevalent attacks, so that a user can identify and then remove malware and blacklist domains known to be command-and-control (C&C) servers. Customers can also stop applications attached with IPS rules that block XSS or SQL attacks and other serious vulnerabilities until systems can be patched, as well as increase application visibility and control.
A particularly relevant feature within the South African context is that Deep Security is able to speed up a client’s route to PCI DSS compliance. The Deep Security solution allows a client to meet multiple PCI requirements with a single product, including intrusion detection and prevention, file integrity monitoring, and log inspection.
“Trend Micro’s integration with Microsoft Azure reduces the dependence on multiple point security tools, helping you to identify and address security and configuration issues quickly,” says Adwait Joshi, director, Azure Product Marketing at Microsoft Corp.
Trend Micro provided the following information:
Trend Micro’s Deep Security currently secures more servers globally than any other solution and specialises in protection for cloud and virtualised workload. It acts as part of the Trend Micro Hybrid Cloud Security solution, powered by XGen and provides comprehensive, flexible security for Azure workloads in a single product, so you can build new applications or move existing resources to the cloud with confidence.
Deep Security protects workloads by:
- Defending against network threats with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS)
- Immediately protecting against vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed
- Keeping malware off Windows and Linux workloads
- Alerting when unplanned or suspicious changes are made to systems
- Stopping SQL injection and XSS attacks on applications
- Gaining visibility and control of elastic workloads with application control that fits DevOps
Local Trend Micro customers can also turn to the company’s Trend Micro Cloud App Security which is directly integrated into Office 365 via APIs. This includes advanced email protection, as well as compliance on third-party cloud file sharing services such as: Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.