Archive for March, 2021

Apple Partners w/Benedict College, USC And Gov For South Carolina Education Initiative

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2021 by itnerd

Today Governor Henry McMaster announced that the University of South Carolina system and Benedict College are working with Apple to provide critical infrastructure support to students and communities throughout South Carolina, who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Governor McMaster approved the use of $6 million out of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund – part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 – to provide underserved communities additional resources, including technology and educational programing, to help those whose education or economic situation has been disrupted by COVID-19.

The collaboration will build a new network of learning labs that will feature Apple products and curricula. The network will include hubs in Columbia’s BullStreet District and at Benedict College, along with satellite labs at six sites of UofSC’s regional Palmetto College campuses. UofSC Palmetto College campuses are all located within 15 miles or less of a broadband desert, according to the South Carolina Broadband Map, providing reliable technology and internet access to these communities. These labs supplement the statewide efforts undertaken by the Office of Regulatory Staff, which utilized CARES Act funds to expand broadband technology to over 100 South Carolina schools and over 200 communities. This initiative reflects a statewide effort to level the playing field and ensure that all South Carolinians have access to top-tier computing and educational resources.

UofSC serves the entire state of South Carolina, and this investment in traditionally underserved communities reflects that mission. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted these communities and has made the issue of access to technologies such as broadband even more apparent. Studies have confirmed that students from economically stressed areas are more likely to be attending school remotely during the pandemic. By leveraging the expertise of the UofSC system and Benedict College, students and community members will be able to take advantage of educational programming designed to close the computer literacy and skills gap.

Each of the campuses will provide computer lab space and will design educational programming to serve the communities in which they reside. The collaboration chose Apple products including Mac and iPad to facilitate ease of use and access to unique curricula and experiences that will power the future workforce, including coding and app development, creativity and content creation. Each site will be available for use by faculty, staff, students, and community members on a regular and recurring basis at no cost. Availability of the labs and programs will be advertised in each community. Indeed, it was the focus on community impact which drove UofSC and Benedict College to partner and propose this initiative to Governor McMaster.

Travel Back In Time On A Virtual 3D Tour To The Famed Roman Temples Of Baalbek

Posted in Commentary on March 31, 2021 by itnerd

The famous temple complex of Baalbek, the ancient Heliopolis in Lebanon, is one of the largest Roman religious sites in the world and part of the world heritage. Baalbek has a rich history that goes back to around 8,000 BC. The remaining six pillars of the Temple of Jupiter are now a landmark of Lebanon. 

On March 31, the Baalbek Reborn: Temples app will launch using the latest technology to reconstruct what today’s ruins looked like in the past. On a journey through time, the virtual tour brings this heritage back to life and shows the Temple of Jupiter Heliopolitanus, the Temple of Bacchus, the Temple of Venus and the Temple of the Muses. 

This extraordinary experience is the result of a collaboration between the Lebanese General Department of Antiquities (DGA), the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and Flyover Zone, a US-based company that specializes in virtual time travel to cultural heritage sites. Experts from the DAI who have been working on the site since 1998 provided the scientific basis for the 3D reconstructions. By using the latest technology, Flyover Zone succeeded in creating an impressive experience taking users on a journey into the past. 

The depth and relevance of the scientific knowledge conveyed via the app makes Baalbek Reborn: Temples unique. Users can choose to move either virtually through today’s excavation site or through the digital reconstruction of the ancient religious sites. The audio track, optionally in Arabic, French, English, or German, provides scientifically sound knowledge and explanations. There are 38 stops distributed across the temple complexes, presented by the researchers of the DAI. This makes the app equally interesting for laypeople and experts. 

The Baalbek Reborn: Temples virtual tour is provided free of charge thanks to the generosity of Bassam Alghanim who donated the funds in loving memory of his parents, Yusuf and Ilham Alghanim. The DAI and Flyover Zone thus contribute to promoting a deeper understanding of the importance of the ancient temples, making scientific knowledge more widely accessible and promoting Baalbek as an important tourist site.

Visit the App Store to download the Baalbek Reborn: Temples virtual tour free of charge for use on smartphones and tablets (Android, iOS), PCs and laptops (Macintosh, Windows 10) as well as VR headsets (Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift-S, HTC Vive).

Guest Post: Nearly One-Fifth Of CEOs See Cybersecurity As The Biggest Threat To Growth Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2021 by itnerd

Few events in the recent decades have impacted how we go about our daily lives or conduct business as much as Covid-19. When the global pandemic hit last year, many were forced to shift to remote work or transfer their business online, bringing about a wave of challenges.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, based on the KPMG 2021 CEO Outlook Pulse survey, nearly one-fifth (18%) of CEOs see cybersecurity risks as the number one threat to their organizations’ growth over the next three years. 

Concern over cybersecurity risks rose significantly among CEOs compared to last year, when it occupied the fifth spot in the list with 10% of CEOs indicating it poses a threat to their organizations’ development. 

Other CEO concerns that made it to the top five include tax risk (14%), regulatory risk (14%), supply chain risk (12%), operational risk (10%), environmental or climate change risk (10%), emerging or disruptive technology risk (6%), and interest rate risk (6%). 

Meanwhile, talent risk, which occupied the first spot among concerns last year, dropped by a fifth (20%) to a mere 1% in 2021.

To mitigate these risks, companies plan to spend more on digital technologies this year, with 52% prioritizing data security measures.

Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the situation:

“The emphasis on cybersecurity in companies is long overdue. While Covid-19 has brought about a myriad of challenges for individuals and organizations, it has also encouraged us to seek better practices. In the end, those who will be able to adapt to the new normal in the post-Covid world will come out of the situation more robust than before.”

To read the full article, head over to: https://atlasvpn.com/blog/nearly-one-fifth-of-ceos-see-cybersecurity-as-the-biggest-threat-to-organizations-growth

TELUS Health Virtual Care Now Integrated Into Electronic Medical Records Across Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2021 by itnerd

As demand for virtual care surges during the global pandemic, today, TELUS Health announced the next advancement in the digital integration of its employer-focused virtual care service, Akira by TELUS Health, with its own electronic medical records (EMRs); and in Ontario with HRM® (Health Report Manager), the provincial report delivery system. This integration means that more informed primary care can be provided as critical patient health information is delivered seamlessly into one medical chart so patients using this virtual care platform through their employee benefits programs will effectively receive better continuity of care.

In Ontario, TELUS Health’s virtual care service is also now connected to more than 12,000 clinicians throughout the province via the HRM which supports:

  • The safe exchange of data across health teams, which has been shown to help prevent gaps in patient care and allows for more timely interventions which are crucial to the treatment of chronic conditions; and
  • Improved chronic disease management. For the one in five Canadian adults living with a chronic disease, digital health solutions can provide improved care which can drive better workplace productivity as well as reduced absenteeism and disability leaves, positively impacting the sustainability of benefits plans.

Collectively, TELUS Health virtual care solutions reach more Canadians than any other provider in the country. This includes the more than two million users of the Akira by TELUS Health and EQ Care employer-focused solutions available on-demand nationally 24/7, in both official languages; and Babylon by TELUS Health which is accessible via a smartphone by tens of millions of residents across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario providing 1:1 video consultations with physicians local to the user, in multiple languages, and all covered by provincial health insurance plans.

The latest innovation in TELUS Health’s suite of virtual care offerings is designed to improve access to healthcare support and information for all Canadians.

It builds on the significant momentum TELUS Health has made in virtual care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which includes:

  • Accelerating the development of seamlessly integrated EMR virtual care functionality into its platforms for clinicians across the country.
  • Adapting its Home Health Monitoring solution, which has been used to remotely monitor Canadian patients recovering in the comfort of their own homes in five provinces, including those with COVID-19 or chronic conditions in BC and AB, as well as transplant patients in SK.
  • Expanding the Babylon by TELUS Health virtual care service to reach three additional provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario; providing access to allied health professionals such as mental health counsellors and dietitians; and offering new preventive health features that empower Canadians to play a more active role in their health.
  • Strengthening its suite of virtual care offerings with the acquisition of EQ Care, a leading virtual care provider in Canada and its integrated virtual health and wellness platform, LifeJourney.

TELUS Health is a leader in digital health technology, providing virtual care, home health monitoring, electronic medical and health records, benefits and pharmacy management, and personal emergency response services. By leveraging the power of technology to deliver connected solutions and services, TELUS Health is improving access to care and revolutionizing the flow of information while facilitating collaboration, efficiency, and productivity for physicians, pharmacists, health authorities, allied healthcare professionals, insurers, employers, and citizens, to progress its vision of transforming healthcare and empowering people to live healthier lives.

Through the TELUS Health Care Centres, teams of renowned and passionate healthcare professionals deliver best-in-class patient-centric care to thousands of Canadian employers, professionals, and families in more than 15 medical clinics located across the country.

For more information please visit: www.telushealth.com.

A Whistleblower Alleges That Ubiquiti Networks “Massively Downplayed” The Extent Of A Major Security Breach

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2021 by itnerd

In January, Ubiquiti Networks which makes enterprise class networking gear sent out a notification to its customers informing them of a security breach and asking all users to change their account passwords and turn on two-factor authentication.

“We recently became aware of unauthorized access to certain of our information technology systems hosted by a third party cloud provider,”

That’s what Ubiquiti said at the time. Now, according to Krebs on Security, a whistleblower “alleges Ubiquiti massively downplayed a ‘catastrophic’ incident to minimize the hit to its stock price, and that the third-party cloud provider claim was a fabrication.” 

A security professional at Ubiquiti who helped the company respond to the two-month breach beginning in December 2020 contacted KrebsOnSecurity after raising his concerns with both Ubiquiti’s whistleblower hotline and with European data protection authorities. The source — we’ll call him Adam — spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by Ubiquiti.

“It was catastrophically worse than reported, and legal silenced and overruled efforts to decisively protect customers,” Adam wrote in a letter to the European Data Protection Supervisor. “The breach was massive, customer data was at risk, access to customers’ devices deployed in corporations and homes around the world was at risk.”

Ubiquiti has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

According to Adam, the hackers obtained full read/write access to Ubiquiti databases at Amazon Web Services (AWS), which was the alleged “third party” involved in the breach. Ubiquiti’s breach disclosure, he wrote, was “downplayed and purposefully written to imply that a 3rd party cloud vendor was at risk and that Ubiquiti was merely a casualty of that, instead of the target of the attack.”

And there’s more:

Adam says the attacker(s) had access to privileged credentials that were previously stored in the LastPass account of a Ubiquiti IT employee, and gained root administrator access to all Ubiquiti AWS accounts, including all S3 data buckets, all application logs, all databases, all user database credentials, and secrets required to forge single sign-on (SSO) cookies.

Such access could have allowed the intruders to remotely authenticate to countless Ubiquiti cloud-based devices around the world. According to its website, Ubiquiti has shipped more than 85 million devices that play a key role in networking infrastructure in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.

If this is true, this is extremely concerning. Especially if your company owns their hardware. Ubiquiti needs to answer this and do so immediately as enterprise users who have their gear and read this may take the nuclear approach and rip their gear out to keep their IT environments secure. What also needs to happen is that there needs to be an investigation to see if Ubiquiti broke the law in this incident. And those at the company who made any decisions to apparently downplay this need to be punished accordingly.

Academic Medical Center Leverages Microsoft Azure To Benefit Patients

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2021 by itnerd

Oneview Healthcare, a global healthcare technology company, today announced the launch of CXP Cloud Enterprise for enhancing the patient care experience within health systems. Deployed on Microsoft Azure, this cloud-based platform helps health systems quickly adopt technology for engaging patients, reducing non-clinical demands on care teams and optimizing clinical and operational effectiveness.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, care teams were under intense pressure while staff and patients had restricted access to family and friends. CXP Cloud Enterprise gives patients and their families the ability to communicate virtually with healthcare teams, access to education and health information. Oneview enables care teams to provide patients with access to unified information and applications on secure bedside devices that can drive more meaningful engagement, improved satisfaction, and better-quality outcomes.

NYU Langone Health initially implemented Oneview’s interactive patient engagement platform in 2017. Faced with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring of 2020, NYU Langone challenged Oneview to help roll out the virtual engagement platform rapidly across their facilities. Together, the organizations collaborated on the initial cloud-based version that enabled NYU Langone to implement key capabilities across 400 beds in weeks. Today’s introduction of CXP Cloud Enterprise delivers the full functionality and integration capabilities of the care experience platform in a faster, easier, more affordable cloud model.  

Oneview’s CXP Cloud Enterprise provides full functionality on a secure, reliable cloud deployment with patient education, meal ordering, patient service requests, apps and digital services, virtual rounding, visitation, and translation services. This comprehensive platform provides better control and quality of care for both patients and care providers.

Key features now available with cloud deployments include:

●  Bedside telehealth consultations from offsite care team members

●  Rounding questionnaires and a digital work list

●  Clinician screencasting to help patients understand their condition, treatment and goals

●  Automated service requests help nurses reduce call button distractions

●  Targeted patient educational resources

●  Meal ordering customized for their dietary needs

●  On-demand entertainment

●  Video chat to connect with friends and family

●  Simple integration with current systems for a single, secure platform hosting the latest apps

Available as a tiered product offering to meet individual hospital requirements, Oneview CPX Cloud Enterprise is available in the Azure Marketplace now.

Oneview Healthcare provides digital tools for patients, families, and caregivers to improve the care experience. Unifying a facility’s systems, content and services into one digital platform with dedicated devices at the point of care, Oneview helps deliver more control for patients and families, more time for care teams, and less complexity for executives and IT teams. Oneview is proud to partner with leading healthcare systems in the US, Australia, the Middle East and Asia. For more information, please visit www.oneviewhealthcare.com.  

Martello Announces Integrated Digital Experience Monitoring Solution

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 30, 2021 by itnerd

Martello Technologies Group Inc.,, a developer of enterprise Digital Experience Monitoring (“DEM”) solutions announced today the launch and controlled availability of the iQ digital experience analytics platform with integrated Microsoft 365 monitoring. The product launch, part of Martello’s FY22 growth plan, comes as Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) released a report this week which presents a business case for Martello DEM for enterprises using Microsoft 365.

Teaming Martello iQ and Gizmo Microsoft 365 monitoring gives businesses the ability to know, understand and act on Microsoft 365 performance and availability by combining insight into the end user experience with actionable context about the user’s IT and network environment. Martello is making it easier for businesses to achieve these benefits by integrating the iQ and Gizmo solutions into a common platform. The solution, part of Martello’s FY22 growth plan, is now in controlled availability, with Gizmo customers receiving early access to the integrated iQ platform.

The report, authored by EMA Research Director Valerie O’Connell, looks at the Threshold of Investment (TOI) of Martello’s Microsoft DEM solutions, an approach which combines quantifiable metrics and qualitative gains to determine the point at which it makes more business sense to invest in an improvement than to continue funding the status quo. According to O’Connell, the TOI case for Martello is compelling and clear.

According to the EMA report, Microsoft 365 health is directly connected to employee productivity, making DEM a C-Suite priority. Furthermore, with the global workforce shifting to remote work in response to the global pandemic, workers are relying on Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Teams in particular, more than ever before. Martello CEO John Proctor echoes this sentiment, saying: “The CIOs and CEOs I speak with view Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams as a critical pillar in driving the productivity of their entire workforce, no matter where they are. Because of this, DEM is increasingly being seen as a ‘must have’, rather than a ‘nice to have’.”

Guest Post: World Backup Day: Keeping Your Data Backup Top Of Mind

Posted in Commentary on March 30, 2021 by itnerd

By Matt Tyrer, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing for the Americas, Commvault

Over the past 10 years, backup and recovery has moved out of the basement and into the corner office with a view. When I first started in IT a little over 20 years ago, backup was very much an afterthought. Many teams did not even consider data management or protection during the project planning phase, or even after a project was deployed. 

Ten years ago, when the first World Backup Day was celebrated, organizations started waking up to the fact that their data is a very valuable asset, and that they need to ensure that they have an intelligent strategy in place to manage and protect it. 

Today, data is at the front and centre of every organization’s business strategy, and protecting, securing, and managing this data is a priority not just for IT staff or business unit leaders, but the C-suite as well.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to consider when it comes to data backup in your environment:

Companies are rapidly adopting new Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) solutions because they want to cut through the complexity of their current IT environments — and anyone that tells you IT environments these days are not complex is trying to sell you something

They are complex because of the rate of change in the tools, products, software, and everything else that makes up these environments. They are complex because spinning up new workloads on new platforms is easy, and IT teams find themselves having to manage these new workloads while still maintaining all their legacy applications and servers. 

Analysts, for years, have been talking about the “rise of the generalist” in IT, but there is just too much for any generalist to know and keep track of these days. These generalists, and the organizations that employ them, just can’t keep up in terms of acquiring the skills they need to handle all of this in-house. 
Being able to turn to a BaaS offering provides organizations with a solid solution to reduce, if not completely eliminate, the complexity they face related to protecting their data. Organizations can hand over the data backup and recovery tasks they can to experts and keep in-house what those that they absolutely have to directly manage themselves.

When it comes to backup, the most common mistake organizations are making is trying to “paint everything with the same brush.”

Not all your data needs to be quickly recoverable and some doesn’t need to be backed up or retained at all. For example, not all of your data are tier-1 workloads, and need to have the short Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) as well as strict Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as these workloads. 

By adjusting your RTOs, RPOs and SLAs to reflect the unique backup and recovery requirements of each of your workloads, companies can reduce their storage and data protection costs. This is especially true when one considers the lower cost (and lower performance) backup and recovery options that are available today on the cloud. 

When evaluating a backup solution, companies should keep three things top of mind

The first thing is flexibility. It is great if your solution can address your needs today. It is not so great if it can’t pivot to cover tomorrow’s data challenges. In addition, this flexibility goes beyond just functionality. Is it flexible to license, deploy and operate as well?

The second is coverage. How broad is the solution’s coverage? Can it actually address all the workloads you need it to address? Does doing so stretch it, and require kludges or over-customizing? You need to be sure that “it does what it says it does” and can keep doing so even as your workloads change. You shouldn’t have to force it.

The third is scalability. Not just scalability in terms of raw size and horsepower — although both of these are also important! But also scalability in terms of functionality and use cases. Sure, it can back up workloads 1, 2, and 3, but what about disaster recovery use cases? What about DevOps use cases, where it is often about quickly creating a new copy of a set of data for the DevOps team to play with? You need more from your backup than just backup. Many solutions may seem simple at first, but that’s often because they only need to do a little. When you scale up your demands on them, that’s when these solutions’ complexity tends to scale up as well.

Matt Tyrer is the Ottawa-based Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing for the Americas for data protection leader Commvault. Matt is an IT industry veteran with 20 years of experience. He has worked with teams from around the world to build and implement data management and protection solutions for customers of all sizes.

The CCTS Reports Is Out…. Bell Still Leads The Way In Terms Of Complaints Despite Having 17% Less Complaints

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2021 by itnerd

The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) mid year report is out. And as usual, it makes for interesting reading. Here’s the key points:

  • Complaints are up 6%
  • Bell accounts for 20.3% of all complaints
  • Rogers accounts 13.2% of all complaints
  • Fido accounts 10.3% of all complaints
  • TELUS accounts 7.1% of all complaints
  • Freedom Mobile accounts 6.5% of all complaints

Here’s where things get interesting. When you look at the percentage change over the last report, here’s where the above carriers rank:

  • Complaints about Bell are down 17.3%
  • Complaints about Rogers are up 23.9%
  • Complaints about Fido are up 45.3%
  • Complaints about TELUS are down 7.5%
  • Complaints about Freedom Mobile are up 1.9%

So Bell really improved in terms of dropping the number of complaints that they had, but they are still number one in terms of complaints. That highlights that while they are headed in the right direction, they still have a lot of work to do. And they didn’t waste any time in terms of spinning things to make themselves look good:

Rogers needs to be concerned seriously concerned as both Rogers and Fido saw significant increases in complaints. Clearly they have a lot of work to do as they are trending in the wrong direction. TELUS continues to have their complaints trend downloads which is good for them as they tend to never really be attention grabbing when these reports come out. At least not in a negative way. I really don’t have much to say about Freedom Mobile, except that now that Rogers wants to buy Shaw, their 1.9% increase in complaints may skyrocket.

The report makes for some good reading and I would put some time into reading it to see if you are with the right telco.

Parler Referred Violent Content to the FBI 50 Times…. And Their Users Are Mad

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2021 by itnerd

Apparently Parler users don’t like the fact that Parler from all appearances are trying to be a better online platform when it comes to policing the behavior of their users. It appears that the right wing social media platform has referred violent content to the FBI at least 50 times prior the January 6th riot in Capitol Hill that resulted in the deaths of five people.

Parler, which faced significant backlash in the wake of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters, referred violent content to the FBI at least 50 times prior to the pro-Trump riot, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The social media site shared a link to the article, drawing backlash from some members of the online platform. Parler has built its platform by positioning itself as being opposed to censorship and staunchly in favor of free speech.

“In reaction to yesterday’s news stories, some users have raised questions about the practice of referring violent or inciting content to law enforcement. The First Amendment does not protect violence inciting speech, nor the planning of violent acts. Such content violates Parler’s TOS. Any violent content shared with law enforcement was posted publicly and brought to our attention primarily via user reporting. And, as it is posted publicly, it can properly be referred to law enforcement by anyone. Parler remains steadfast in protecting your right to free speech,” Parler posted on Saturday in response to criticism.

But some users of the site were still unhappy with Parler’s decision.

“I don’t like snitches,” user MelodySuarez wrote in response to the explanation.

Snitches? Really? It seems to me that Parler users are confusing the right to free speech with the right to break the law and not suffer any consequences for it. But maybe I am looking at this wrong. I should also note that Newsweek reported something similar in an earlier article. And Parler users had this to say:

One user wrote: “To confirm, you are calling for an investigation into big tech collusion while you are colluding with the FBI against your platform members?” Another user wrote: “This is NOT an example of a free speech platform. Parler is a fraud.”

When you call everything and everyone else a fraud because they no longer fit your world view, maybe you’re the fraud. Just a thought.

It seems to me that Parler’s near death experience has made it figure out it has to behave a lot better or cease to exist if they don’t. Parler users aren’t thrilled with that so here we are talking about it. It also means that these users will end up abandoning the platform and going to some other platform which fits with their world view where this will start up all over again.

Fun times.