Archive for November 9, 2023

TELUS Health launches next-generation medical alert system

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 9, 2023 by itnerd

TELUS Health has unveiled its latest innovation, a next-generation Medical Alert Pendant – a discreet wearable device specifically designed to empower older adults to confidently age in place with peace of mind knowing emergency support is available 24/7. The pendant comes with a connected Caregiver App that allows those who care for aging loved ones to receive updates about the user’s daily routines, mobility and whereabouts when necessary. 

Key features of the new TELUS Health Medical Alert Pendant include:

  • A smaller, lighter and more discreet design, making it comfortable to wear throughout the day. 
  • The longest battery life of any mobile medical alert device in Canada for continuous protection. 
  • State-of-the-art fall detection feature for an added layer of security, with the convenience to cancel a fall detection alarm activated in error without having to speak to an operator.

Acknowledging the critical role of the eight million caregivers across the country, TELUS Health also introduced this new Medical Alert Pendant with a connected Caregiver App that offers advanced GPS-enabled location tracking and 24/7 access to live emergency support at the push of a button.

According to a survey conducted by the National Institute on Aging, falls account for the majority of hospitalizations among older people in Canada due to injuries. Despite this fact, 79 per cent of Canadians say they have not spoken to their healthcare providers about what steps need to be taken in the event of a fall, either for themselves or a loved one. It is crucial to address this issue by engaging in conversations about preventive measures and embracing innovative solutions.

To ensure flexibility and easier access to the new TELUS Health Medical Alert Pendant for older adults, multiple pricing options are offered starting at $60 per month. Existing TELUS customers with mobility or home services can save an additional $10 per month by using the code 10LOYALTY online or by phone with an agent. 

For more information, or to purchase the TELUS Health Medical Alert Pendant, customers can call: 1-833-323-3383 or visit:

SEC Charges Solarwinds CISO Over 2020 Cyberattack

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 9, 2023 by itnerd

The CISO of Solarwinds is getting a lesson in cybersecurity from the SEC as Timothy G. Brown has been charged by the SEC in relation to that epic hack that Solarwinds had in 2020 that had long lasting repercussions:

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought charges against both Austin, TX-based information security software company SolarWinds and its CISO Timothy G. Brown on October 30. The SEC alleges Brown committed fraud and failed to address known internal security issues, eventually leading to the massive Sunburst cybersecurity attack against the U.S. federal government in December 2020.


The SEC alleges that between SolarWinds’ October 2018 initial public offering and the December 2020 announcement of the large-scale cyberattack, SolarWinds and Brown specifically ” … defrauded investors by overstating SolarWinds’ cybersecurity practices and understating or failing to disclose known risks.”

SolarWinds personnel, including Brown, made internal assessments that were at odds with the company’s promises to its customers, the SEC said. A presentation in 2018 made by a company engineer found SolarWinds’ remote access setup to be “not very secure,” which could lead to exploitation in which an attacker “can basically do whatever without us detecting it until it’s too late,” the SEC found.

“The volume of security issues being identified over the last month have (sic) outstripped the capacity of Engineering teams to resolve,” a September 2020 internal document presented to Brown stated, according to the SEC.

Those issues included basic security best practices such as not using default passwords.

On some products, default passwords such as “password” remained in place. The password “solarwinds123” was also in use, the SEC filing said.

The SEC alleges that SolarWinds didn’t disclose the full extent of the Sunburst cybersecurity incident on Dec. 14, 2020. SolarWinds had filed a Form 8-K on that date; that is the form the SEC requires organizations to fill out in order to formally notify investors in the event of a significant event. After SolarWinds filed the Form 8-K on December 14, SolarWinds’ stock dropped 25% in two days and 35% by the end of December.

With the usual disclaimer of none of this has been proven in court, this is pretty bad if it does get proven in court. Chris Clymer, CISO, Inversion6 had this comment:

This latest SEC charge against SolarWinds CISO comes on the heels of two other highly related pieces of news. The first is the SEC’s recent guidance requiring strong board oversight of security and rapid disclosure of breaches. The second is the at-the-time unprecedented charging of Uber’s CISO over their own breach.

The security community has fixated on the breach disclosure element of the SEC guidance, but I find the governance piece more interesting. Especially because of what the SEC did NOT do: Namely, define exactly what would be “material” enough to require disclosure, or provide any guidance whatsoever into appropriate controls.  Similarly, with this SolarWinds news the security community is scratching its collective head trying to understand just what degree of disclosure is needed over everyday vulnerabilities that every company has. In the case of the Uber breach, the CISO actively participated in a cover-up of identified risks, even altering reports of findings to better fit the narrative the company wished to portray to the public. With SolarWinds, it appears from the outside to be very similar to the situation most CISOs face with known vulnerabilities, and only so many resources to address them. Is there a risk rating the SEC wants us to target? A particular CVSS score? I think these details all miss the bigger picture.

I would argue that the consternation among CISOs and other executives and confusion about where the line lies is exactly what the SEC hoped to see. The message they are sending here has nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of a security program. To me, the message is simple: Don’t let a breach like SolarWinds experienced happen on your watch. If it does, the executive team will be scrutinized and held accountable…and most likely, there will be deficiencies to find. If you want to avoid a debate about what is truly “material” then avoid having a breach…”simple”.

While this feels grim and unrealistic to CISOs who all agree that it’s a matter of “when” not “if” a breach happens, it’s not unprecedented. Companies who take credit cards have long had to meet the bar of PCI compliance, and undergo regular audits to prove this. And yet, if credit cards are believed to have been breached they undergo a MUCH more aggressive “PCI Forensic Investigation” that proves virtually 100% of the time that the company was actually NOT fully PCI compliant at the time of the breach. This unfair standard has pushed these companies to invest greatly in new technologies like tokenization to greatly diminish the opportunities for credit card exposure…and credit card breaches have dropped dramatically as a result.

This should be a wake up call to anyone who is in a position of responsibility when it comes to cybersecurity. Get your act together and make sure that your organization’s security is on point. Or else bad things will happen to you. Just like it has happened to this guy.

Fun Fact: 8GB Is Not Enough For Your Next Mac Regardless Of What Apple Says

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 9, 2023 by itnerd

For a while now, Apple has been shipping 8GB of RAM on a number of their Macs. And I’ve been saying that that’s not enough RAM for anyone. Thus if you were in the market for a new Mac, you should get at least 16GB of RAM. Apple clearly has heard this and is pushing back hard on this. MacRumors posted a story recently where  Apple’s VP of worldwide product marketing Bob Borchers claimed that 8GB on a Mac is like 16GB on Windows:

Comparing our memory to other system’s memory actually isn’t equivalent, because of the fact that we have such an efficient use of memory, and we use memory compression, and we have a unified memory architecture. 

Actually, 8GB on an M3 MacBook Pro is probably analogous to 16GB on other systems. We just happen to be able to use it much more efficiently. And so what I would say is I would have people come in and try what they want to do on their systems, and they will I think see incredible performance. If you look at the raw data and capabilities of these systems, it really is phenomenal. And this is the place where I think people need to see beyond the specs, and actually go and look beyond the capabilities, and listen to trusted people like you who have actually used the systems.

People need to look beyond the specifications and actually go and understand how that technology is being used. That’s the true test.

The problem is that this isn’t true.

macOS by itself takes up 5 or 6 GB of RAM by itself. Which means that when you open up a couple of applications or more, you will be using all 8 GB of RAM easily. At that point, the Mac will start using the hard drive to temporarily supplement the amount of RAM you have. This is called swap memory. To be clear swap isn’t entirely a bad thing, and all operating systems use swap memory. But any computer, regardless of what OS it is running, that is using swap memory to cover up the fact that it doesn’t have enough RAM isn’t a good thing as it negatively affects the performance of the computer overall. Now this issue really hit the public spotlight when Apple stopped using 2 NAND flash chips for storage in their base model M2 computers. I covered that here and here in case you want to go into the weeds on that. But here’s the TL:DR:

YouTube channels such as Max Tech and Created Tech tested the 256GB model with Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test and found the SSD’s are about 30% slower than the M1 versions. This is due 256GB model is equipped with only a single NAND flash storage chip. The M1 version had two NAND chips that were likely 128GB each. This creates a RAID like setup that resulted in better performance. 

And that better performance extended to the swap memory. Because Apple cheaped out on using only one NAND flash storage chip, swap memory was way slower than it should have been. Which meant that any computer with 8GB of RAM was going to take a serious performance hit.

Fast forward to today. Apple now has the M3 processors out and they have two NAND flash chips in the base model. That means that this should be less of an issue because the storage has better performance. Right? Not so fast. MaxTech has put out a video where they ran a bunch of tests on an 8GB and 16GB M3 MacBook Pro and found that the 16GB model ran circles around the 8GB model due to the 8GB model needing to use swap memory constantly. Keeping in mind that the Macs were identical in every other way. The bottom line is that it pretty much tells you all that you need to know. Which is that 8GB is simply not enough for anyone regardless of what Apple says.

So, the question has to be asked. Why does Apple in 2023 produce computers with only 8GB of RAM? Who knows for sure because at the best of times that company is opaque at best. But if I had to take a guess, Apple is likely doing this to hit a price point to make their laptops look more competitive versus the competition. Sort of like car companies who advertise a “starting price” for their cars to hit a price point knowing full well that nobody will pay that because the want some creature comforts like air conditioning and a CD player.

Honestly, Apple is doing its customers a disservice by continuing to offer 8GB of RAM in their base models. And it isn’t helping the situation by coming out and basically saying that there’s nothing to see here when there is enough evidence to show that there is plenty to see here. Thus my recommendation for configuring a new Mac is going to remain in place. Which is that anyone buying a new Mac needs to get 16 GB of RAM at a minimum. Yes, you’re going to spend more money. But in my mind, it’s money well spent because you’re going to get better performance at the end of the day and you’re going to get a computer that has a bit more headroom.

New Crypto Bankruptcy Phishing Campaign Exploits Customers’ Funds as Court Approves US Shutdown

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 9, 2023 by itnerd

Shortly after the SEC charged Bittrex, “the best crypto trading platform,” with operating an unregistered securities exchange, the crypto exchange chose to shut down its U.S. operations and return assets to customers in the wake of the complaint after filing for bankruptcy protection several months ago. 

Abnormal Security has unveiled the details behind a novel bankruptcy phishing campaign in which real customers of crypto exchange Bittrex received malicious emails unbeknownst to them, claiming they still had assets on the exchange that could be withdrawn.

The timing of the attack was deliberate. Bittrex received bankruptcy court approval on Monday, October 30, to officially shut down U.S. operations. The threat actors had access to this information and determined that 10/23 was the best day to launch the attack as the deadline was in the court docket. Hackers claimed if the funds were not taken out of the crypto trading platform before the withdrawal period ended on 10/25, all assets would be forfeited. 

You can read the Abnormal Security report here.

NetRise Releases Industry’s First AI-Powered Semantic Search for Software Supply Chain Security

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 9, 2023 by itnerd

NetRise, the company providing granular visibility into the world’s Extended Internet of Things (XIoT) security problem — encompassing the modern firmware and software component security challenges of IT, OT, IoT, and other connected cyber-physical systems — today announced the release of Trace in the NetRise Platform. This new solution allows users to identify and validate compromised and vulnerable third-party and proprietary software assets using AI-powered semantic search for the first time. 

Trace revolutionizes vulnerability detection and validation by introducing intent-driven searches, allowing users to search their assets based on the underlying motives or purposes behind the code and configurations that lead to vulnerabilities rather than solely relying on signature-based methods. Rather than searching for specific code patterns or known vulnerabilities, users can query the system based on the intent of malicious actors or negligent developers. Such a method captures a wider range of software packages, misconfigurations, or unidentified flaws. Trace highlights affected assets, files, and packages utilizing natural language, mapping their intricate relationships across the entire software supply chain without the need for a scanning mechanism.

Trace is the first solution to integrate AI-driven semantic search, supply chain impact analysis, and vulnerability validation utilizing large language model (LLM) capabilities, which offer customers a unified and potent solution to detect known and hidden threats in low-level firmware and other cyber-physical systems.

Key enhancements and capabilities of the new Trace solution in the NetRise Platform include: 

  • AI-Powered Search: Semantic and keyword-based search for all files, operating system configurations, and vulnerabilities across all assets using AI. 
  • Deep Supply Chain Introspection & Origin Tracing: Discover and trace the origin of code and risk back to the third-party or proprietary software packages that introduced it across all assets.
  • LLM-Based Vulnerability Discovery & Validation: Identify vulnerabilities and gauge their impact in the software supply chain using code-based or broad natural language queries, validating issues across an organization’s firmware, software, and cyber-physical systems.

Supply chain compromises are increasing, often targeting firmware or open-source software packages through dependency poisoning and other attacks. A widespread effort across numerous industries, involving both public and private sectors, is underway to discern which assets, devices, and software contain compromised software packages and vulnerabilities. The complexity of analyzing device firmware and build artifacts further exacerbates this challenge.

NetRise addresses these challenges by enabling organizations to quickly trace all impacted assets using a single query. Upon identifying a positive match, it generates a comprehensive graph of the affected software supply chain components, eliminating the need for repeated scans or asset reprocessing. This approach is essential in discerning the extent of threats — from nation-state actors to inherent vulnerabilities and inadequate development practices — across devices, firmware, and software packages.

For more information about the Trace feature and its benefits, please visit:

CISA, FEMA, NHS Launch ‘Shields Ready’ For Critical Infrastructure Cyber-Resilience

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 9, 2023 by itnerd

Jointly, CISA, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have launched the “Shields Ready” initiative, a new campaign designed to encourage critical infrastructure (CNI) stakeholders to enhance cyber-resilience in their organizations.

Shields Ready is intended to complement the “Shields Up” campaign, which was focused on helping all organizations and individuals, Shields Ready is specifically about improving CNI processes.

The initiative urges CNI providers to:

  • Understand infrastructure and dependencies
  • Conduct comprehensive risk assessments
  • Make actionable plans
  • Measure progress and drive continuous improvement through testing

CISA director, Jen Easterly, highlight that it is vital for hospitals, schools, water facilities and other CNI entities, to have the resources they need to respond to and recover from cyber disruptions.

“By taking steps today to prepare for incidents, critical infrastructure, communities and individuals can be better prepared to recover from the impact of the threats of tomorrow, and into the future.”

Stephen Gates, Principal Security SME, had this comment:

   “In the context of the US government launching a new campaign to encourage critical national infrastructure (CNI) operators to enhance their cyber-resilience, one of the four key messages stands out as a considerable challenge: Conduct comprehensive risk assessments. This is more difficult than most people believe when organizations solely rely on humans to perform risk assessments. In fact, there are simply not enough qualified and certified risk assessment professionals available today.

   “Therefore, a paradigm shift in the mindset of CNI operators needs to happen. This shift includes augmenting their human-based risk assessments (often in the form of periodic penetration tests and regular scheduled vulnerability scans) with autonomous systems designed to discover where CNI operators are truly at risk. These systems operate autonomously, peruse network environments on their own, discover truly exploitable vulnerabilities, safely exploit what they discover, provide proof of compromise, and deliver expert guidance on how to remediate these risks – preemptively.

   “The first step to using these autonomous systems is assuming defenses have already been breached. Once that happens, these systems will help CNI operators find, fix, and verify that their exploitable vulnerabilities are drastically reduced, help measure progress, and drive continuous security improvement. This is not a one-and-done thing performed on an annual or periodic basis. Instead, it becomes part of everyday, good cyber-hygiene due care.”

Mike Barker, CCO, HYAS adds this comment:

   “The imperative nature of this initiative cannot be overstated. Investing in cyber-resilience now is an investment in safeguarding the continuity and security of our critical infrastructure in the face of evolving threats. “Shields Ready” serves as a beacon for organizations to fortify their defenses, enabling a more resilient and secure future for critical infrastructure and the communities they serve.”

Dave Ratner, CEO, HYAS follows up with this comment:

   “Improving processes and hardening systems is critical for any CNI organization but must be paired with the right solutions for resiliency in the face of continual onslaughts of threats and attacks; that’s why it makes complete sense to pair the Shields Up initiative with Shields Ready. Only through a complete security-in-layers approach will critical infrastructure really be properly prepared for and resilient against cyber intrusions.”

This is another one of those first steps that is long over do. What everyone needs to do is to keep taking steps to harden CNI so that it is a less attractive target for threat actors.

Aptum Announces New Senior Leadership Team Appointments, Signifying Continued Dedication to Cloud Market Growth

Posted in Commentary with tags on November 9, 2023 by itnerd

 Aptum, a global cloud solutions provider specializing in technology consulting and managed services, today announced the appointment of three new executives to its senior leadership team as the company continues to expand and meet the demands for cloud innovation. 

With diverse experience and background, these leaders will help guide Aptum towards its next phase of growth: 

  • Michael Stephens assumes the role of Vice President of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, bringing with him almost three decades of experience in sales and partner strategy. Stephens joins Aptum from Rackspace Technology where he was the Global Partner Channel Chief, responsible for worldwide channel sales, operations and relationships. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Channels for CenturyLink, responsible for inside sales, pre-sales engineering and customer success. At Aptum he will lead the company’s global partner strategy and introduce programs with trusted ISVs, SaaS, technology distributors and digital native to accelerate growth. 
  • Patty Fisher joins as Vice President, Marketing. A seasoned senior marketing leader with a passion for technology, Fisher brings more than 20 years of experience to her role. She has successfully led and built teams across a spectrum of organizations, ranging from Fortune 100 companies and global enterprises to startups and not-for-profit entities. She has held leadership positions at AOL, Verisign, Sage Software, OVHCloud, and most recently as CMO for Ottawa, Ont.-based EOS Network Foundation. She is a member of Chief, a network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders.
  • David Long joins as Vice President, North America Sales. In this role, Long will leverage his strong background of supporting enterprise clients through their multi-cloud journeys. He comes to Aptum with 24 years of sales experience, including sales leadership roles at Dell Technologies, EMC, Microsoft and Princeton Softech. His knowledge and “customer-first” mindset will help Aptum clients achieve their multi-cloud and DevOps goals. 
  • Additionally, Aptum announced the promotion of Marc Paré to Vice President of Product. Paré was most recently General Manager of Advisory and Consulting Services. In his role, he will oversee the development of software solutions that will deliver improved user experience for organizations, helping them with managing, measuring, metering, monitoring and analyzing their operations and performances across the cloud. Paré joined Aptum through the acquisition of CloudOps in January 2023. Paré was a founding member and partner at and Cloudbeach. He has 24 years of experience in information technology with a background in web operations, sales and product management, including 10 years at Coradiant where he helped software organizations achieve operational success as SaaS pioneers. 

This expansion of the leadership team builds upon the company’s recent appointment of Ian Rae as CEO and President and David Wigglesworth as Chief Revenue Officer.