Archive for the Commentary Category

Canadian Construction Activity Dropped 41% From March to April And Is Now Recovering: Construction Activity Index

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 13, 2020 by itnerd

New data shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected construction activity in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, with worker hours dropping in March and recovering in late spring and the summer. The Construction Activity Index is an effort by Procore to support the construction industry through the current pandemic by providing insights from construction activity data within the Procore platform. The index tracks weekly changes in worker hours from a baseline the week of March 16 through the week of July 27, 2020. 

Across the provinces for which data is available, worker hours dropped through March to a low of 41 per cent below baseline the week of April 6. All the provinces were all above the baseline as of the week of July 27. 

The provinces have had different COVID-19 caseloads, timelines and policies, including protocols addressing construction activity. Insights from data within Procore indicate that Ontario saw the sharpest decline, dropping 57 per cent below the baseline the week of April 6. Worker hours in Ontario then climbed before levelling off in June. Alberta’s decline was not as dramatic as seen in Ontario, but lasted longer, with construction activity dropping below the baseline in 12 of the 19 weeks covered in the data. In contrast, British Columbia has seen worker hours remain above the baseline except for a drop of seven per cent the week of April 6. 

Provincial and federal data is available for download here:https://mkt-cdn.procore.com/downloads/pressrelease/ProcoreCanadaCovid_19ConstructionReportAugust_2020.pdf

Results are available for Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. The data and charts are for public use. Procore previously shared similar data on how the U.S. construction industry has been affected in a separate report: https://www.procore.com/covid-insights

Procore Technologies, Inc. has offices in Toronto and Vancouver, and provides construction management software to construction companies of all sizes across Canada.

Dell’s Back To School Must Haves And Guidance To Support Guardians & Families

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 13, 2020 by itnerd

With parents and children gearing up for a different learning experience virtually and in classrooms this year, having the right tech that suits one’s needs and budgets, has never been more relevant!

Below are some back-to-school must haves from Dell, to help students succeed in the new school year:

  • NEW XPS 13: Students demand both versatility and mobility in a laptop they can be proud to show off. This device can tackle school projects, edit photos and videos, stream 4k content without buffering, and enable videoconferencing with classmates and family. The ultramobile XPS 13 also effortlessly fits in your backpack, tote or purse. Starts at CAD $1,449.99.
  • NEW Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1: Open browsers and apps quickly, and swipe through reading assignments with ease on this 14” 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop. The screen size is great for students who are also looking for a little extra viewing space for video chatting with friends and watching Disney+ and Netflix once homework is complete. Starts at CAD $699.99.
  • UltraSharp 25 USB-C Monitor (U2520D): Get the extra screen space to tackle school projects with the UltraSharp 25-inch monitor. It nestles perfectly with a compact base wherever your desk setup may be. With a wide colour coverage, images are displayed in true-to-life colour on this QHD monitor with VESA DisplayHDRTM 400, making it perfect for all your creative tasks or for consuming all forms of digital entertainment. Starts at CAD $464.29.

Additionally, Dell has created a guidance document to support guardians and families as they help students navigate extended school closures, by focusing on supporting social and emotional learning. I had a look at this and it is pretty comprehensive.

Silent Eight Extends On-Demand AI Solution

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 13, 2020 by itnerd

Silent Eight announced today that it will offer its powerful artificial intelligence (AI) solution for name, entity, and transaction alert adjudication on-demand, through the remainder of 2020. The decision comes in the wake of the current and ongoing pandemic, which has placed significant constraints and challenges on banks and financial institutions (FIs). These most notably include increasing and burdensome alert backlogs and unprecedented levels of cybercrime. The pandemic has also impacted the ability of both government and private sector institutions to meet their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) obligations.

Silent Eight’s AI has historically been installed on-premise for Tier 1 institutions to solve name, entity, and transaction alerts. Now the solution will be widely accessible to a broader market, and across more sectors, as a means of providing immediate and ongoing backlog relief, without requiring a long term commitment. 

The custom AI is configurable in as few as two (2) weeks via cloud deployment and offers a new way for banks and FIs to solve alerts in a scalable and agile manner in real time, regardless of external conditions such as COVID-19.

The on-demand AI is available immediately. Clients pay only for alerts solved, with no minimum volume commitment.

Features and benefits of the AI include:

  • Fully customized; learns from your institutional processes and behavior
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Deployable in as few as 2 weeks
  • No limit on geographies, or hits per alert
  • Covers any type of alert: Adverse Media, PEP, Sanctions, Customer Due Diligence

To learn more, visit www.silenteight.com.

Intuit QuickBooks Canada Joins Digital Main Street To Get Canadian Businesses Online

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 13, 2020 by itnerd

Intuit Canada today joins Digital Main Street in their mission to help facilitate getting 50,000 Canadian small businesses online over the next year through the development of e-commerce storefronts. Intuit Canada will also help Digital Main Street advance their online web platform and will enable small businesses to receive direct 1-on-1 support through consultation meetings and online webinar training sessions. 

According to a July 2020 survey done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), just over half (57 per cent) of small businesses are fully open and around half (53 per cent) think it will take more than six months to get back to normal profitability. In Ontario, the government stated that around 40 per cent of small enterprises in the province do not have a website. By adopting and optimizing an online presence, small businesses may be able to avoid permanent closures and continue to reach and sell to customers. 

Over the next year, this new collaboration will support Digital Main Street initiatives across Canada in the following ways: 

  • By increasing the capacity of Digital Main Street programming, including supporting advanced development of the online web platform, which is a hub for small businesses to receive on-demand training.
  • By supporting the continued growth of the ShopHERE program powered by Google Canada, to help get 50,000 businesses online this year through the development of e-commerce storefronts.
  • By increasing the capacity of the Digital Service Squad, enabling SMBs to receive direct 1-on-1 support through consultation meetings and online webinar training sessions.

To learn more about Digital Main Street and the programs and learning opportunities available to main street business owners, visit www.digitalmainstreet.ca 

Guest Post: Novel Malicious Software Discovered By ESET Continues To Grow The MITRE ATT&CKTM Knowledge base

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 13, 2020 by itnerd

Since going public in 2015, the MITRE ATT&CKTM knowledge base has witnessed a boon of contributions from the cybersecurity community. ATT&CK collates this information to provide a common language and structured intelligence on adversary behaviors across multiple threat groups. ESET’s most recent contributions comprise four entries in the Software and one extension in the Groups categories of ATT&CK.

Software:

1. Attor (S0438)

Attor is a previously unreported cyberespionage platform used in targeted attacks since at least 2013 against diplomatic missions and governmental institutions located mainly in Russia. Attor’s architecture consists of a dispatcher and loadable plugins.

ESET discovered and named the malware based on two notable features of its plugins: the Device monitor plugin’s capability of using AT commands to fingerprint GSM devices and the Tor client plugin’s use of Tor for command and control communication and exfiltration.

Attor’s functionality maps to 32 ATT&CK Enterprise techniques and 18 sub-techniques.

2. Okrum (S0439)

Okrum is a previously unknown backdoor that ESET first detected in late 2016 in attacks against diplomatic missions in Slovakia, Belgium, Chile, Guatemala and Brazil. The malicious actors behind Okrum employed several tactics to remain undetected, such as embedding the malicious payload within a legitimate PNG image, employing several anti-emulation and anti-sandbox tricks, and making frequent changes in implementation.

ESET discovered the Okrum backdoor delivering a Ketrican sample linking it back to the work of the Ke3chang (APT15) group. The Okrum entry comprises 28 ATT&CK Enterprise techniques and 24 sub-techniques.

3. ComRAT (S0126)

ComRAT, a favorite backdoor used by the Turla threat group since at least 2007, was discovered by ESET in its latest version (version four) released in 2017 targeting two ministries of foreign affairs and a national parliament. The operators were using the backdoor to discover, steal and exfiltrate confidential documents.

ESET researchers found 16 ATT&CK Enterprise techniques and 11 sub-techniques deployed. 

4. DEFENSOR ID (S0479)

DEFENSOR ID is an Android banking trojan that unleashes its fury when users grant permission to activate accessibility services. The app is packed with a host of malicious features, including stealing login credentials, SMS and email messages, displayed cryptocurrency private keys, and software-generated multifactor authentication codes; clearing bank accounts and cryptocurrency wallets; and taking over email and social media accounts.

DEFENSOR ID’s functionality maps to 6 ATT&CK Mobile techniques.

Groups:

1. Turla (G0010)

ESET researchers identified several links between ComRAT v4 and the Turla threat group. Version four of the backdoor uses the internal name “Chinch” as in previous versions, uses the same custom command and control protocol over HTTP as ComRAT v3, shares part of its network infrastructure with Mosquito (another backdoor used by Turla), and was seen either dropped by or dropping other Turla malware families.

By linking ComRAT v4 to Turla, ESET provided extensions of 13 ATT&CK Enterprise techniques and 6 sub-techniques of the Turla group.

MITRE ATT&CK evaluations: Simulating the Carbanak/FIN7 APT group

MITRE ATT&CK is also notable for its evaluations. Running in its third round, the evaluations use simulated attacks to test the prevention and detection capabilities of security products against the techniques employed by high-profile adversaries. ESET and MITRE ATT&CK teams will be engaging in red and blue team activities putting ESET to the test against the techniques of the Carbanak/FIN7 APT group.

FIN7 is infamous for creating a front company called Combi Security that hired black hat recruits under the guise of various cybersecurity roles, such as penetration tester. The U.S. Department of Justice has arrested and charged four members of the group to date. ESET discovered Carbanak malware targeting point of sale systems for credit card data at a casino. Carbanak is known for targeting the finance and retail industries, including banks, forex trading companies, casinos, hotels and restaurants.

How does ATT&CK benefit ESET?

As of August 2020, the number of ESET contributions to MITRE ATT&CK has continued to grow, with ESET being one of the top referenced and engaged vendors directly involved in refinement and population of the MITRE ATT&CK knowledge base. ESET’s engagement with ATT&CK continues to inform product R&D, malware research practice and its ongoing cybersecurity awareness work. These ongoing contributions also help provide additional possibilities to transfer knowledge to that close-knit community.

More details on ESET’s work with MITRE ATT&CK can be found here:

1. Collective Security: ESET improves cyber armor with MITRE ATT&CK(TM) knowledge base

2. Advancing enterprise threat hunting with the MITRE ATT&CK™ knowledge base

3. Malware Researcher + Threat Analyst: two perspectives on the MITRE ATT&CK™ knowledge base

Hellmann’s New Animal Crossing Island Converts Wirtual Food Waste Into Real Food For Those In Need

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 12, 2020 by itnerd

As part of its global brand mission to help people be more resourceful with food and waste less. Hellmann’s® Canada has created an island in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons game, that offers a five-star virtual island experience and escape, as well as the opportunity for gamers to make change in the real world, by converting their virtual food waste in the game into real food for people in need.

The world of Animal Crossing sees gamers create their own virtual havens in the form of an island for a peaceful escape from everyday life. There is a variety of food that players can acquire and sell for large amounts of Bells, a form of currency within the game. Turnips are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the valuable food items players can acquire to increase their wealth.

Each week, Animal Crossing players purchase turnips on the ‘Stalk Market’ that will spoil if not sold within the week, becoming virtually worthless in the game. From 3PM EST on Monday, August 17 to 12.15AM EST Saturday, August 22, players will be able to visit the Hellmann’s Island to drop off their spoiled turnips and explore the other beautiful attractions on the island. In exchange for these spoiled turnips, Hellmann’s will donate to Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue charity, to help provide 25,000 meals in total for vulnerable communities across the country.

How it works:

  1. Hellmann’s Island will be open to visitors from 3:00 p.m. EST on Monday, August 17, to 12.15 a.m. EST on Saturday, August 22.
  2. To access the island, gamers will direct message Hellmann’s Canada on Twitter @HellmannsCanada to receive their personal dodo code which will be shared on a first-come, first-served basis.
  3. Selected visitors will be provided with a 15-minute timeslot to drop off their spoiled turnips. For each spoiled turnip dropped off, Hellmann’s will donate a meal to Second Harvest until the 25,000 meal target is achieved.
  4. After dropping off their spoiled turnips, guests will have the opportunity to explore the rest of the attractions on Hellmann’s Island including:
    • Hellmann’s Farm – visitors can take a peaceful stroll through the picturesque canola fields or catch a glimpse of other Hellmann’s ingredients, including freshly laid eggs from free-run hens and barrels of vinegar.
    • Second Harvest Outdoor Kitchen – here, guests can relax and unwind by a waterfall with a healthy sandwich and fresh produce prepared by Second Harvest.
    • Able Sisters Merch Shop – fun merchandise can be downloaded at the local store, including items such as Hellmann’s-inspired dresses, t-shirts and jackets.
    • Resident Services – guests can stop by to check out the bulletin board for more tips on how to be creative and make the most of what’s in their fridge and reduce food waste.
    • Ribbon Island – if they’re feeling adventurous, guests can pole vault over to an island shaped like Hellmann’s iconic ribbon for a quick photo opp.

Hellmann’s has been on the side of food since 2007 with the introduction of the Real Food Movement. This has included brand initiatives such as “Urban Gardens”, Real Food Grants and, most recently, the Real Food Rescue which looks to address the issue of food waste in Canada. To date, Hellmann’s has donated 102,250 meals through the Real Food Rescue program for Canadians in need. An additional 25,000 meals will be provided in partnership with Second Harvest through Hellmann’s Island, the latest in the brand’s efforts to combat food waste and extend awareness to a new platform to reach a new generation of Canadian gamers.

Hellmann’s Island will be open from 3:00 p.m. – 12:15 a.m. EST, Monday 17th to Saturday 22nd August, with dodo codes provided on a first-come, first-served basis on Twitter @HellmannsCanada.

Visit RealFoodRescue.ca for more information and simple tips and tricks to reduce your personal food waste.

Commvault’s Metallic SaaS Data

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 12, 2020 by itnerd

Commvault has announced the availability of Metallic’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) data protection portfolio in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, an online store providing applications and services for use on Azure. Commvault customers can now take advantage of the productive and trusted Azure cloud platform, with streamlined deployment and management.

Based on Commvault’s core IP, Metallic SaaS data protection provides customers with a scalable, secure, and simple way to protect their data within a modern, hybrid cloud environment.Metallic Endpoint Backup and Recovery joins Metallic Backup and Recovery for Microsoft Office 365 as the second solution in Metallic’s portfolio to be available as in the Azure Marketplace. Supporting the proliferation of remote work in today’s environment, Metallic Endpoint Backup & Recovery protects laptop and desktop data without compromising productivity – offering flexible and granular restore capabilities along with scalability and unlimited cloud storage.

The Azure Marketplace is an online market for buying and selling cloud solutions certified to run on Azure. It helps connect companies seeking innovative, cloud-based solutions with partners who have developed solutions that are ready to use.

To learn more about Commvault’s partnership with Microsoft as well as Metallic’s SaaS portfolio of data protection solutions, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/metallic

Trump Could Force TikTok Off Global App Stores

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 12, 2020 by itnerd

According to a White House document sent out to supporters of President Trump and seen by Reuters, the executive order that Trump signed would have a the means to cut off U.S. business transactions, disrupt TikTok’s funding, and eliminate its ability to operate within the United States and perhaps elsewhere.

“Prohibited transactions may include, for example, agreements to make the TikTok app available on app stores … purchasing advertising on TikTok, and accepting terms of service to download the TikTok app onto a user device,” the document states. 

A source familiar with the White House document verified its authenticity. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Now the document does not explicitly mention WeChat, but if the Trump administration decides to subject it to the same measures. Now if TikTok does sue the Trump administration, which they were supposed to do on Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if they use this new information to push their case.

Waze Announces Global Rollout Of Railroad Crossing Alerts

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 12, 2020 by itnerd

Waze, the platform bringing together communities on and off the road, today announced a new feature that will provide alerts to users approaching a railroad crossing.  Waze is seeing Waze users make a significant return to the road following the COVID-19 outbreak. This feature is unique to Waze and puts drivers’ safety first, helping them return to the roads by highlighting the potential risks associated with driving over railroad crossings.

The decision to add railroad crossing alerts to the Waze map follows recommendations from both the US senate and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to app-based navigation platforms like Waze that doing so can help contribute to the efforts to reduce the number of drivers involved in railroad crossing fatalities. The US Federal Railroad Administration also championed this feature and provided valuable insights as Waze used their publicly available database of US railroad crossings. The feature was advocated for by major rail network operators and other organizations, including MTA Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak, SEPTA, Brightline, Operation Lifesaver Canada, the Railway Association of Canada, CN, SNCF, the Regulatory Agency of Rail Transport of Mexico (ARTF) and the Secretary of Communications and Transportation of Mexico. These organizations have provided the vital data (verified by the Waze volunteer community of map editors) to add railroad crossings to the Waze map in the US, Canada, Mexico and France, and local Waze map editors have taken the initiative to incorporate crossings to the map in the UK, Italy, Israel, Brazil, Colombia, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, New Zealand, Netherlands and Ireland.

The new feature will automatically alert drivers using the latest version of Waze on Android or iOS that they are approaching a railroad crossing.  A banner will appear on the Waze app highlighting the crossing and encouraging the driver to approach with caution.

This feature is available on Android and iOS. For more information visit Waze.com.

Canadian Business Travellers Look To Technology To Ease Concerns When Travel Returns: SAP Concur Survey

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 12, 2020 by itnerd

Although it is difficult to predict what the future of business travel will look like, one thing that’s certain is the key role technology will play in easing the concerns of business travellers.

A recent survey of business travellers by SAP Concur – a leader in integrated travel, expense and invoice management solutions – shows:

  • Mobile check-in is the most important mobile app feature (52%) Canadians want when travel resumes, followed by traveller safety information (38%,), the ability to book air travel (38%), andthe ability to view and manage their trip itinerary (36%). 
  • Canadian business travellers are looking for a breadth of on-demand functions, including loyalty programs (30%), the ability to automatically create and submit an expense report (21%), and even the ability to track and offset their carbon footprint (12%)
    • Nearly 3 in 10 (28%) also want automatic notifications for out-of-policy bookings or expenses.
  • 93 per cent of Canadian business travellers note some measures are critical for safely returning to the road, especially mandatory personal health screenings for travelling employees (40%), limiting travel to only the most critical trips (38%), and real-time health and safety updates (34%).
  • When travel starts, Canadian business travellers are most likely to start their booking with online travel agencies (24%) or directly with an airline or hotel website/app (22%). 

Additional findings:

Notable highlights of the 200 responding Canadian business travellers in the global study include:

·       Business travel plays an important role in the success of today’s enterprise:

o   Canadian business travellers expect their company to experience negative outcomes due to travel restrictions around COVID-19, including a reduced number of deals or contracts signed that require in-person interactions (51%) and declines in new business wins that require in-person meetings (44%).

·       Business travellers expect an increase in discrimination against certain groups while travelling:

  • Nearly 9 in 10 Canadian business travellers (89%) expect increased discrimination in the wake of COVID-19, especially against travellers exhibiting cold or flu symptoms (59%), travellers from countries with high infection rates (43%)—and even travellers of Asian descent (43%).
  • More than 1 in 4 Canadian business travellers (27%) also believe there will be an increase in discrimination against the elderly, as well as those wearing enhanced personal protective equipment (26%).
  • Health and safety are now top priority for business travellers when on the road:
  • Health and safety have become the top priority for 2 in 5 (43%) Canadian business travellers which is more than three times as many who prioritize business needs (13%).
  • Safety was only the second priority last year, but the effects of COVID-19 have exacerbated the issue from 24% to 43%.
  • Top concerns about returning to business travel also include infecting their families (69%) and getting sick themselves (68%).

·       Companies need to update travel policies to help business travellers return to the road safely:

  • 93% of Canadian business travellers consider some measures critical for safely returning to the road, including:
    • Mandatory personal health screenings for travelling employees (40%), limiting travel to only the most critical trips (38%), real-time health and safety updates (34%), and easier access to personal protective equipment (28%).
  • More than 9 in 10 Canadian business travellers (92%) believe they’d benefit from company training, especially, trainings on how to protect their health and safety during travel (50%) and how to maintain healthy habits while travelling (50%).

The full global white paper and Canadian findings can be found here.