Archive for the Commentary Category

Amazon Slapped With $887 Million Fine By European Privacy Watchdog

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

Amazon can likely afford this. Though they won’t be happy about cutting this cheque. Amazon has been issued with a fine of 746 million euros ($887 million) by a European privacy watchdog for breaching the bloc’s data protection laws:

The fine, disclosed by Amazon on Friday in a securities filing, was issued two weeks ago by Luxembourg’s privacy regulator. The Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection said Amazon’s processing of personal data did not comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. It has ordered Amazon to revise certain undisclosed business practices.

Amazon, which has its European headquarters in Luxembourg, denied that there had been any kind of breach that would violate the GDPR rules. “Maintaining the security of our customers’ information and their trust are top priorities,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC. “There has been no data breach, and no customer data has been exposed to any third party,” they added.

When I see any of these words:

  • maintaining
  • protecting
  • upholding

In a sentence with any of these words:

  • our customers’
  • clients’
  • users’

That includes any of these words:

  • trust
  • safety
  • information

Combined with any of these words:

  • is our top priority
  • duty
  • first thought

My first thought is they must have done something really bad. And the company knows it. Thus while nobody is saying what Amazon did to get slapped with this fine, you can bet that it wasn’t trivial.

Virtusa To Expand Its Canadian Operations

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

Virtusa Corporation, a global provider of digital strategy, digital engineering, and IT services and solutions that help clients change and disrupt markets through innovation engineering, announced plans to grow its business and intensify its staffing recruitment efforts in Canada, specifically the province of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) is working closely with Virtusa to expand its North American footprint while creating high-value jobs for Nova Scotians, exporting its services, and contributing to the growing momentum in Nova Scotia’s ICT sector. Virtusa has been providing services to clients in Canada for over 15 years through locations in Toronto and Montreal, with its global workforce of over 28,000. Now with the expansion into Nova Scotia, and in particular Halifax, Virtusa will bring highly technical IT, client service and customer success roles to a city filled with an extremely diverse and skilled local talent pool, as well as top tier university graduates.

Clients of Virtusa will benefit from the Nova Scotia location’s fantastic accessibility into North America as well as Europe. Nova Scotia is a safe, collaborative environment that brings together private, academic, and public-sector agencies which will be essential for Virtusa’s growth in the province. 

Most of the desired roles will focus within development, quality engineering, support services, business analysis, and consulting services. They align with Virtusa’s core focus areas of digital & cloud transformation, technology modernization and business innovation. Virtusa will continue to provide comprehensive training programs for its newly recruited Nova Scotia staff that cover the technical aspects of the jobs, as well as industry fundamentals. Additionally, Virtusa offers formal programs in leadership, mentorship, and diversity & inclusion. The company also provides a comprehensive intern program wherein University students are recruited to work on various programs during the summer months.  Postings can be found online at https://mycareer.virtusa.com/

Mexico Dropped $61 Million On NSO Group Spyware

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

Mexico’s top security official said on Wednesday that two previous administrations spent $61 million to buy The NSO Group’s spyware. Here are the details:

Mexico’s top security official said Wednesday that two previous administrations spent $61 million to buy Pegasus spyware that has been implicated in government surveillance of opponents and journalists around the world.

Public Safety Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez said records had been found of 31 contracts signed during the administrations of President Felipe Calderón in 2006-2012 and President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012-18. Some contracts may have been disguised as purchases of other equipment.

The government said many of the contracts with the Israeli spyware firm NSO Group were signed with front companies, which are often used in Mexico to facilitate kickbacks or avoid taxes.

Well, this is insightful as this sounds really shady. I say that because why would you have to purchase this spyware via front companies? Clearly Mexico who was reportedly was just shut down because The NSO Group is under pressure has something to hide. My guess is that we are going to see more countries who bought this spyware come to light in reports like this one. Stay tuned to see who they are.

The NSO Group Blocks Some Governments From Using Its Spyware

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

One of the things that has really baffled me about the controversy over The NSO Group and their spyware is that they’ve given contradictory statements. They keep claiming that they have no control over how their spyware is used. But they’ve also claimed that they can shut their customers down at will. It looks like that the pressure over the use of their spyware is resulting in the latter happening. The Washington Post last week reported that NSO had previously blocked five governments from using Pegasus, and NPR now reports that more NSO clients have had their access suspended pending investigations into abuse allegations.

So, who were the countries that apparently got shut down? Well, those in the know say that Saudi Arabia, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Mexico are on the list. But we don’t know the full list as we don’t know the complete list of who uses their spyware. And what makes this interesting is that the word on the street is that the Israeli government might have forced them to take a stronger approach. I’m guessing that they either don’t like the bad press or they got a phone call from another government who likely wan’t calling to talk about the Olympics.

As the pressure ratchets up on The NSO Group, it will be interesting to see what happens next as I am sure that this is far from over.

A Follow Up To The Email #Scam That Claims That You Did A Hit And Run

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

I recently posted a story on an email scam that claims that you did a hit and run and that you needed to call a number to sort things out. Which means that you’re handing over money to a scammer. Well, the same person who tipped me off to this scam got another email from the same scammers. But the email is different. Let me show you the email:

Let’s dissect this scam email:

  • Even though I redacted the email address, it comes from a gmail.com account. No business would use a gmail.com account. That’s your first hint that this is a scam.
  • The email uses the recipients name. So it is targeted.
  • The English is pretty bad. Another hint that this is a scam.
  • The name of the insurance company has the word “Insurance” twice. #Fail.
  • The date of the supposed accident in the subject line is different than the date in the body of the email. #Fail
  • They threaten to send your info to the cops. Which is meant to make you call them.

And just like the last scam email, my attempt to call the number (which is different than the last scam email that I wrote about) to find out how they perpetrate that scam while blocking the number that I was calling from failed with an immediate hang up. So this suggests that this is from the same group of scammers as they clearly want to grab your number.

The bottom line is this. Clearly this scam is an active one. You need to keep your eyes open to make sure that you don’t become a victim. Thus if you get one of these emails, delete it from your inbox and move on with your day.

Uber Announces New Learning & Entrepreneurship Opportunities For Drivers

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

Uber is launching for drivers and delivery people focused on professional development, entrepreneurship and language skills programming that will help them advance their career journey, on or off the platform.

According to an Uber-commissioned Ipsos survey in Canada, 74% of drivers and delivery people describe their hours on the platform as part-time as they manage responsibilities like full-time employment, studies, parenting, caregiving, or entrepreneurship. 

Taking advantage of the flexibility of the Uber platform, drivers and delivery people have the opportunity to focus on other projects – starting a small business, building a career, or helping them and their families get ahead. 

Starting today, Uber is announcing three new investments in supporting the professional development and growth of drivers and delivery people on the platform, giving them the flexibility to create a brighter future for themselves and their families:

  1. In some cities where Uber operates, many drivers and delivery people are immigrants. According to Uber’s recent  Economic Impact Report, 63% of drivers in Canada identify with a racialized group. Uber is now offering access to language resources through unlimited language learning content from Rosetta Stone for drivers and delivery people in select tiers of the Uber Pro loyalty program.
  2. Drivers and delivery people in Canada can request an achievement summary letter which details the date of their first trip or delivery, number of trips and deliveries, average customer rating, and top feedback. Drivers and delivery people can use these letters as evidence of their experience using the Uber app in job and other applications.
  3. Uber Canada is partnering with The Forum to create entrepreneurship programming that will support 500 self-identified women entrepreneurs using the platform. Programming will launch in the fall and interested restaurant owners, drivers, delivery people and their family members cansign up here to learn more.

These resources and programs build on Uber’s Flexible Work+ proposal from March, where the company is committed to investing in supporting lifelong learning. 

More information can be found here

Israel Starts Looking At The NSO Group…. And They Might Have Other Problems Too

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

With all the controversy surrounding the NSO Group, I am guessing that the Government of Israel must have thought that it has to take a look at them…. Seeing as they are based in that country and anything bad that The NSO Group does would likely look bad on Israel. Thus they paid The NSO Group a visit:

Israeli government officials visited the offices of the hacking company NSO Group on Wednesday to investigate allegations that the firm’s spyware has been used to target activists, politicians, business executives, and journalists, the country’s defense ministry said in a statement today.

And:

The Ministry of Defense did not specify which government agencies were involved in the investigation, but Israeli media previously reported that the foreign ministry, justice ministry, Mossad, and military intelligence were also looking into the company following the report. 

NSO Group CEO Shalev Hulio confirmed to MIT Technology Review that the visit had taken place but continued the company’s denials that the list published by reporters was linked to Pegasus.

“That’s true,” he said. “I believe it’s very good that they are checking, since we know the truth and we know that the list never existed and is not related to NSO.”

A government investigation may be the least of their problems though. There’s news that the private equity firm that owns The NSO Group is to be liquidated:

London-based Novalpina Capital, which bought the NSO Group in 2019, is being dissolved after a dispute between its co-founders.

Its liquidation leaves the future ownership of NSO unclear, just as the company is grappling with the fallout of a vast electronic espionage scandal. 

Novalpina also owns the Estonian casino group Olympic Entertainment and French pharmaceutical company X.O. 

The Financial Times reported that Novalpina’s investors “have until August 6 to decide whether to liquidate the fund with a fire sale of its assets, or appoint a third party to take control of it”.

That in my minds leaves the future existence of this company up in the air. And that could be bad for all of us. If the spyware that they make gets out into the wild because the company ends up in the hands of the wrong people, none of us will be safe. Thus I will be watching this with interest, and some degree of concern.

Did You Order An Alienware PC? If You Live In The Wrong State, You May Not Get It…

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

If you live in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington, and you ordered an Alienware PC, don’t expect to get it. The word on the street is that Dell isn’t shipping their high end gaming PCs to those states. Here’s why:

For the time being, Dell is no longer shipping certain Alienware Aurora R12 and R10 gaming PC configurations to half a dozen US states because those product lines potentially fall out of bounds of newly adopted energy efficiency requirements.

When attempting to configure one of those systems, a warning message appears in bold red lettering to alert buyers that their order will not be honored if the destination resides in one of the affected states. This was first spotted by Marie Oakes, an independent content creator who highlighted the disclaimer on Twitter.

“This product cannot be shipped to the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington due to power consumption regulations adopted by those states. Any orders placed that are bound for those states will be canceled,” the message states.

The Aurora R12 and R10 are built around the latest generation processors from Intel and AMD, the former featuring 11th Gen Core Rocket Lake CPUs and the latter wielding Ryzen 5000 series chips based on Zen 3.

Unfortunately for both Dell and buyers who reside in affected states, the majority of Aurora R12 and R10 configurations consume more power than local regulations allow. 

The thing is, while this does suck, there is another option. Build your own PC. As in source the parts yourself and either build it yourself or get a local computer store to do it for you. I will admit that getting some of the parts in this age of chip shortages may be an issue. But it wasn’t that long ago that building a PC was a thing. Here’s the opposite view of this. The advantage of going to companies like Alienware (which is owned by Dell) is that their economies of scale allow you to get a pretty powerful gaming PC for a lower cost than building it yourself. Though you can bet that Alienware cut corners in other places to keep the price down, or increase their profit margin.

Now over to the power consumption thing. Companies who build electronics really need to get a handle on this or they will run into issues like this. I am pretty sure that this isn’t a good look for AMD or Intel, or any other company that has parts in these PCs. So maybe those companies need to take a good hard look at making their products more power efficient while being powerful at the same time. Just like Apple did with the M1 processor.

StorCentric Achieves Record Growth

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 28, 2021 by itnerd

StorCentric, provider of the world’s most comprehensive real world-proven portfolio of secure data management solutions, today announced it has achieved record growth across virtually every industry vertical, geography and size of customer (i.e., SMB to enterprise) as ransomware protection has taken the lead as a key business priority, around the world. StorCentric today reported a 130% bookings growth in ransomware solutions for the same period year-over-year and 50 new specialized channel partners added, since Q2 of 2020, in addition to a 240% pipeline growth quarter-over-quarter for Q3 2021 for the Nexsan Unbreakable Backup solution.

According to Bitdefender’s 2020 Consumer Threat Landscape Report, which provides an overview of the evolution of threats year-over-year and on a quarterly basis, reported that ransomware attacks increased by a staggering 485% in 2020 compared to 2019. And, according to PurpleSec, the estimated cost of ransomware attacks was $20 billion in 2020, up from $11.5 billion in 2019, and $8 billion in 2018. 2021 is already shaping up to be the worst year yet, with “ransomware as a service” such as REvil and NetWalker, as well as other new entrants like Conti, becoming increasingly available, intelligent, aggressive, expensive and public.

StorCentric offers the most robust, end-to-end ransomware protection solutions in the industry, recognizing that today, it’s not enough to just protect your data from ransomware, you must be able to recover should you fall victim to a successful attack. Solutions include:

  • Nexsan Unbreakable Backup – UnityTM plus Assureon® delivers an immutable Unbreakable Backup solution that works alone or alongside existing IT assets to enhance and fortify the user’s ability to protect, detect and recover. Its industry unique features include:
    • File Fingerprinting – Secure Digital Fingerprints utilizes a combination of two cryptographic hashes for a unique file identifier.
    • File Redundancy – Makes two copies of the file and its fingerprint are stored in a separate RAID disk set either in the same system or a remote one.
    • File Serialization – Serial numbers are assigned to each individual file to ensure no files are changed, missing, or inappropriately added.
    • Secure Timestamp – Use of a global, redundant, secure time source using Stratum Level 1 hardware time sources to ensure accurate time stamp.
    • Auto File Repair – Continually verifies against fingerprints and repairs using copies and safeguarded by RAID disk arrays for days or even decades.
    • Regulatory Compliance – Governmental and Corporate compliance of HIPAA, GLBA, Sarbanes-Oxley, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), SEC 17A-4 and PCI DSS.
    • Cloud/Software Edition – Flexibility to implement in the cloud, hybrid cloud or on-premise.
    • Storage Optimization – Archiving unstructured and infrequently used data frees up primary data and dramatically reduces the size, time and cost of the backup process.
    • Data Longevity – Ensures adherence to guidelines for data retention, disposition, privacy, protection, chain of custody, litigation readiness and risk mitigation.
  • Retrospect Backup Software – Retrospect Backup integrates seamlessly with object locking, also referred to as Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) storage or immutable storage, from today’s leading public cloud vendors. Users can mark objects as locked for a designated period of time, preventing them from being deleted or altered by any user, even if the ransomware “takes a ride” to the user’s cloud vendor(s) during any backup action.

Find out more About StorCentric: www.storcentric.com.

Stealth’s Announces New Rugged Fanless Mini PC

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 28, 2021 by itnerd

Stealth, an Elbit Systems of America company, is a leader in the industrial computer and peripherals market and has released a new rugged fanless mini PC that features Intel’s® 8th Generation Celeron, Core™ i3, i5 and i7 processors. The LPC-915 fanless mini PC is capable of supporting operations in a broad range of temperatures and is packed with robust capabilities, all while remaining quiet, clean, and reliable

The Stealth LPC-915 fanless mini PC is designed for use in a multitude of applications, including transportation and rail, audio and video recording, embedded control, digital signs, interactive kiosks, Internet of Things, Industrial Internet of Things, thin-clients, and human/machine interface.

The LPC-915 fanless mini PCs can be custom configured to meet the exact needs of the Original Equipment Manufacturer or end-user and all Stealth systems come with a standard, two-year warranty. Extended warranty options are also available. 

A basic configuration of the LPC-915 fanless mini PC starts at $1,695 USD, and is now shipping. 


Stealth’s fanless mini PC – the LPC-915 – Product Features:

  • Powerful Intel® 8th Generation Celeron, Core™ i3, i5 & i7 processors
  • Up to 2 Terabytes of solid-state storage and 32 gigabytes of random-access memory
  • Supports up to 4K resolution and dual display support
  • Two network ports and two COM ports
  • Operates in temperatures from minus 40 to 85 degrees Celsius/ minus 40 degrees to 185 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Small form factor size: 150.4mm x 106.2mm x 62.1mm/ 5.92 inches x 4.18 inches x 2.44 inches (Width x Depth x Height)
  • Range 9-48 VDC power input, with a rear-locking 3-pin locking connector & ignition
  • Trusted Platform Module 2.0 security
  • Wall-, VESA-, and DIN rail-mounting capabilities
  • Windows 10/ / 10 IoT, Server 2019, and Linux compatible
  • RoHS-, CE- and FCC-certified
  • EN50121-3-2- and EN50155-certified

Learn more about Stealth at www.stealth.com.