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Lenovo's new workstation is 'Tiny' but packs a punch

Windows users who work in tight spaces and are looking for a small form factor workstation with multiple display ports and solid processing power have a new contender to check out: the new ThinkStation P320 Tiny.

The workstation lives up to its name: At 1.4x7.1x7.2 inches, it's the smallest workstation on the market that is ISV (independent software vendor) certified, according to Rob Herman, the general manager of Lenovo's workstation business unit.

The ISV certification is important. "We don't consider a machine to be a workstation unless it has ISV certification," according to Lloyd Cohen, an analyst with IDC.

The U.S. government uses the same definition for workstations and for non-government users, software certifications mean that you can run CAD and CAM programs, for example, without worrying about crashing, Cohen noted. That's important if you're working on a complex design.

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Mingis on Tech: Is the iPad Pro (finally) ready for the enterprise?

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference two weeks ago was as much about hardware as software -- with a special emphasis on the new 10.5-in. iPad Pro (and its also-updated 12.9-in. sibling).

The new A10X processor, a brighter TrueTone screen, improved graphics, and even a better camera system all combine to make for a worthwhile upgrade over earlier versions of the iPad Pro.

Those iPads, along with a revamped iOS 11 -- especially as it will be used on tablets -- make for a powerful combo that again raises the question: Is the iPad a real enterprise device?

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Flash Player updated just 3 days after an update

On June 13th, Adobe updated their Flash Player to fix a number of critical security flaws. Then, just three days later, another fix.

The new fix seems relatively trivial. On the 16th, the company said "we've updated Flash Player to address a bug that was impacting some Flash content. If you are having problems interacting with mouse button presses or drag and drop actions, we recommend you update to today's release."

The latest version is now 26.0.0.131, except, of course, with Microsoft's browsers.

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Blockchain integration turns ERP into a collaboration platform

As the blockchain continues to mature and find adoption in areas other than cryptocurrency, ERP vendors are working to integrate the distributed ledger technology as a trackable, immutable record for everything from shipping manifests and supply chains to equipment maintenance and dispute-resolution systems.

"This is very real and something we're aggressively excited about," said Brigid McDermott, vice president of Blockchain Business Development at IBM. "What blockchain does is provide a trust system of record between disparate companies."

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The top 5 mobile security threats

A smartphone can feel like a ticking time bomb to IT security pros. With the BYOD trend now well established in the workplace, and employees less vigilant about avoiding malicious links, the chances for trouble remain high.

But when your personal and professional lives intersect on your phone -- the same one that often includes confidential corporate data and email -- it's inevitable that someone will stumble onto malware. Chris Crowley, an instructor at the SANS Institute, offers a rundown of the top mobile security threats today and what can be done to head then off.

1. Untrustworthy devices. A device itself may be faulty or maliciously configured within the supply chain, providing violation of CIA (confidentiality, integrity, availability), he said. One example: CheckPoint earlier this year found an infection of 36 Android devices at a large telecommunications company. In each case, the breach was not caused by the user, but by malware already on the phone when the employee took it out of the box.

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Tech VCs, at Churchill Club, predict an edgy future

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Innovation drives the tech industry, but nothing happens without investors. That's why the Churchill Club's annual Top Tech Trends event here in Silicon Valley always sells out -- to find out where the folks with money are placing their bets.

Every year, a panel of leading venture capitalists delivers 10 predictions and defends the trends they think will have a big impact in the next five years. Panelists (and audience members) vote up or down each one -- and offer critiques based on the merits or whether a prediction is so obvious it's not really a prediction.

This is the 19th year the Trends event has taken place and this year included a diverse set of predictions involving food production, anti-plague remedies, artificial intelligence, new forms of education, a new type of investing, big advances in voice technology and the expectation that Amazon.com will be hit with a major anti-trust lawsuit.

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The Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool has been updated for WannaCry

Microsoft offers a number of free anti-malware tools. Windows 10 and 8.1 users have Windows Defender. Windows 7 users can chose between the full-featured Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) or the limited Windows Defender. But all Windows users have access to the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) even though they may not be aware of it.

MSRT is part of the monthly patch Tuesday bug fixes. Windows Update downloads a new version of MSRT and runs a scan with it as part of its normal processing. The last patch Tuesday was May 9th and Microsoft dutifully issued a new version of MSRT.

I mention this because on May 23rd someone contacted me to ask why MSRT had just been updated. He had seen a new version appear in Windows Update on a 32 bit Windows 7 machine that had been dutifully updated on the 9th.

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Google raises heat on Microsoft with new Chrome bundle for enterprises

Google on Tuesday rolled out an enterprise bundle that packages Chrome, management templates and an add-on for dealing with legacy sites and apps, building on the chokehold its browser has on the web.

The collection -- prosaically dubbed "enterprise bundle" -- includes a Chrome installer (in .msi format), the Legacy Browser Support (LBS) add-on, and a set of templates for applying group policies to Chrome within the company. It was essentially a convenience, since all its components have been available separately.

"The new bundle includes multiple tools in a single download that IT admins need for a simple, managed deployment," boasted Matt Blumberg, a Chrome product manager on Google's enterprise and education team, in a post to a company blog.

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Former NSA chief weighs in on cybersecurity, cyberespionage at ZertoCon

BOSTON -- Retired Gen. Michael Hayden held nothing back when speaking to cybersecurity pros today at the ZertoCon business continuity conference.

It's been more than a decade since he led the National Security Agency (NSA), but that didn't stop Hayden from asserting that the Russians were involved in last year's U.S. presidential election. His view: Only two presidents doubt that the Russians were involved in the 2016 election -- Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

"They [the Russians] had an affect on the election, there is no question that this happened," Hayden said. "The question is if there was collaboration with the campaign."

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Connecting with work from the road? Here's how to stay safe

Every company has workaholics who can’t leave their duties behind when heading out on vacation. They're kind of worker who, if the hotel doesn’t have Wi-Fi, will rush to the closest coffee shop or eatery to stay connected, check email and jump onto a video conference call.

Those are the kinds of insecure wireless networks that make IT security managers nervous. 

And for good reason. Public Wi-Fi networks at cafes and coffee shops are open to, and can be accessed by, anyone, according to mobile security vendor iPass. They require neither security keys and passphrases nor firewall protection. That leaves  employees vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.

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No, Windows XP didn't fuel WannaCry

The global WannaCry attack that started 10 days ago touched just a handful of Windows XP PCs, a security expert said Monday, contradicting the narrative that the aged OS was largely responsible for the ransomware's crippling impact.

"There were no real WannaCry infections of Windows XP," said Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky Lab's global research and analysis team, in an interview Monday. "We've seen only a handful of cases, less than a dozen, and it looks like most of them were testers [self-infecting systems]."

Raiu's claim countered an assertion made by virtually every media report and blog post published after "WannaCry" emerged June 12. Countless news stories blamed Windows XP, which Microsoft retired three years ago, for falling victim to the attack because the vulnerability that WannaCry exploited had not been patched in the obsolete OS.

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For enterprise protection, antivirus software is no longer enough

Antivirus software to protect corporate systems from malware is like a flu shot. You should have it, but it won't likely protect you from every strain of the flu.

"Antivirus is great for blocking known threats, but the issue has grown past viruses," said Ryan O’Leary, vice president of the Threat Research Center at WhiteHat Security. "Malware and vulnerabilities in the network or application can lead to far greater compromise."

Worse yet, new threats are being crafted faster than traditional antivirus can keep up.

“We as an industry need to recognize that defaulting to an antivirus and firewall mentality is leaving yourself wide open to compromise," O’Leary said. "Companies need to take a more holistic approach to their security program and start looking at application, network and malware issues that could compromise their entire company.” 

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(Insider Story)
The ransomware epidemic: How to prep for a shakedown
'Know your enemy' – understanding what to prepare for
wannacry ransom screenshot

Image by Reuters

While ransomware isn't new, this once-simple criminal hacker tactic has morphed into a devastatingly effective weapon wielded by more advanced cyber-criminals -- as seen with the recent Wannacry outbreack. These sophisticated attackers are highly motivated by the profitable nature of their efforts. Dan Larson, technical director at CrowdStrike, looks at the current state of ransomware, why organizations should take  threats seriously and how to build a strong defense.

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CW@50: Vint Cerf on his 'love affair' with tech and what’s coming next

When internet pioneer Vinton Cerf was 10, he was working on advanced math, and by the time he was 17, he was tinkering at programming at UCLA and beginning a lifelong "love affair" with computing.

Today, Cerf, known as the father of the internet, says software bugs are among the biggest dangers to enterprise IT and warns of the mounting challenges the IT community must face in what he calls the "digital dark age."

Widely recognized for his contributions to technology, Cerf, 73, was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Technology for co-founding and developing the internet. He also was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the A.M. Turing Award and 29 honorary degrees.

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WD aims to tame growing data needs with latest enterprise SAS SSD

With data centers seeing rapid data growth, Western Digital Corp. (WD) has announced its highest performing 2.5-in. small form-factor SAS SSD. The drive is aimed at helping companies deal with increasing needs for virtualized storage systems, online transaction processing, database analytics and private and hybrid clouds.

WD's Ultrastar SS300, developed in partnership with Intel, uses a 12Gbps SAS interface and sports sequential read/write speeds up to 2.1GBps and 2.05GBps, respectively; the drive also offers random read/write input/output per second (IOPS) of up to 400,000 and 200,000, respectively.

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Google preps Android for an A.I.-laden future

The future of Android will be a lot smarter, thanks to new programming tools that Google unveiled on Wednesday. The company announced TensorFlow Lite, a version of its machine learning framework that’s designed to run on smartphones and other mobile devices, during the keynote address at its Google I/O developer conference.

“TensorFlow Lite will leverage a new neural network API to tap into silicon-specific accelerators, and over time we expect to see [digital signal processing chips] specifically designed for neural network inference and training,” said Dave Burke, Google's vice president of engineering for Android. “We think these new capabilities will help power a next generation of on-device speech processing, visual search, augmented reality, and more.”

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Apple simplifies Windows 10 installs with support for Creators Update

Apple this week updated macOS Sierra to version 10.12.5 with more than three dozen security patches, and a change that lets users install Microsoft's latest version of Windows 10 on their Macs.

Sierra 10.12.5 "adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp," the update's brief release notes read. Creators Update was the name Microsoft assigned to Windows 10 1703, the upgrade issued last month.

Boot Camp, which is baked into macOS, lets Mac owners run Windows on their machines. A Windows license is required. Boot Camp, while not virtualization software like VMware's Fusion or Parallels International's Parallels Desktop, serves the same purpose: Running Windows applications, including custom or mission-critical corporate software, on a Mac personal computer.

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IBM makes leap in quantum computing power

IBM has some new options for businesses wanting to experiment with quantum computing.

Quantum computers, when they become commercially available, are expected to vastly outperform conventional computers in a number of domains, including machine learning, cryptography and the optimization of business problems in the fields of logistics and risk analysis.

Where conventional computers deal in ones and zeros (bits) the processors in quantum computers use qubits, which can simultaneously hold the values one and zero. This -- to grossly oversimplify -- allows a quantum computer with a 5-qubit processor to perform a calculation for 32 different input values at the same time.

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Google launches Cloud IoT Core service for enterprises

Google today unveiled a cloud platform service to help organizations collect vital data from billions of Internet of Things devices.

The service, Google Cloud IoT Core, is designed to help enterprises, including utilities and transportation agencies, securely connect globally distributed devices to the Google Cloud Platform. There, the data can be centrally managed and integrated with Google's data analytics services, said Indranil Chakraborty, cloud product manager at Google.

One customer who has been testing the new service for two months is Energyworx, a company of 40 workers that has used Google cloud services since 2014. Energyworx provides data analytics to utilities to help them plan better and improve performance.

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SAP wants enterprises to learn from their smart devices

SAP has added machine learning to its Leonardo IoT software suite to help businesses handle data gathered from smart devices more intelligently.

It unveiled the additions to Leonardo  -- and a cloud of other news -- at its customer conference, Sapphire Now, in Orlando on Tuesday.

Leonardo runs on SAP Cloud Platform and provides a number of services to process data from the internet of things, including streaming and predictive analytics. Now, those predictive capabilities will include machine-learning tools tuned to work with the rest of the Leonardo components.

"It's about adding intelligence to existing business processes and integrating with the core systems of record. Leonardo's capabilities can be infused into SAP applications," said Mike Flannagan, SAP's senior vice president for analytics. "We see Leonardo as something that will help customers transform processes."

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Shadow Brokers boasts of more Windows exploits and cyberespionage data

A group of hackers that previously leaked alleged U.S. National Security Agency exploits claims to have even more attack tools in its possession and plans to release them in a new subscription-based service.

The group also has intelligence gathered by the NSA on foreign banks and ballistic missile programs, it said.

The Shadow Brokers was responsible for leaking EternalBlue, the Windows SMB exploit that was used by attackers in recent days to infect hundreds of thousands of computers around the world with the WannaCry ransomware program.

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HPE shows off The Machine prototype without memristors

In 2004, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise's Kirk Bresniker set out to make radical changes to computer architecture with The Machine and drew out the first concept design on a whiteboard.

At the time Bresniker, now chief architect at HP Labs, wanted to build a system that could drive computing into the future. The goal was to build a computer that used cutting-edge technologies like memristors and photonics.

It's been an arduous journey, but HPE on Tuesday finally showed a prototype of The Machine at a lab in Fort Collins, Colorado.

It's not close to what the company envisioned with The Machine when it was first announced in 2014 but follows the same principle of pushing computing into memory subsystems. The system breaks the limitations tied to conventional PC and server architecture in which memory is a bottleneck.

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Enterprise smartwatch use is catching on

Smartwatches are getting a foothold in the enterprise.

In the latest example of a trial, Samsung Galaxy S3 smartwatches are helping janitors do timely cleanups of restrooms at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Another successful four-month Samsung smartwatch trial last fall gave restaurant servers alerts when customers arrived or needed service.

The smartwatches run an app called TaskWatch made by Samsung partner Hipaax. In the airport example, janitors are notified when and where a restroom needs to be cleaned and restocked. Bluetooth sensors at the restroom doorways count the number of users. When 150 customers have passed through a restroom, a notification is sent to the janitorial team.

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At Google I/O, enterprises may get A.I. they can put to work

As Google I/O, the search giant's major developer conference, gets ready to kick off on Wednesday, enterprises will be curious to see if Google offers new artificial intelligence technology they can put to work.

Google executives are expected to talk about A.I. and machine learning during the Wednesday morning keynote, led by CEO Sundar Pichai.

During last year's Google I/O conference, Pichai said the company was moving from a mobile-first to an A.I.-first world, and the company is expected to dive further into that strategy.

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China pays for Windows XP addiction as 'WannaCry' hits

The WannaCry ransomware has wormed its way into tens of thousands of Windows PCs in China, where Windows XP runs one in five systems, local reports said Monday.

More than 23,000 IP addresses in the People's Republic of China (PRC) show signs of infection, the country's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center (CNCERT) told Xinhua, the state-run news agency, on Monday.

"Intranets in many industries and enterprises involving banking, education, electricity, energy, healthcare and transportation have been affected in different extents," CNCERT said.

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New WannaCry variant being monitored, DHS official says

A variant of the WannaCry ransomware that emerged Monday has been able to infect some of the computers patched after the original malware struck last week, according to a top cyber official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

"We're working on how to address that [variant] and sharing as we can," said the official who asked not to be named. The official did not say how many computers have been affected by the variant, other than to say "some." The original WannaCry attack hit more than 200,000 computers starting Friday in more than 150 countries, UK officials said over the weekend.

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WannaCry ransomware attacks won't be the last

Thousands of organizations from around the world were caught off guard by the WannaCry ransomware attack launched Friday. As this rapidly spreading threat evolves, more cybercriminals are likely to attempt to profit from this and similar vulnerabilities.

As a ransomware program, WannaCry itself is not that special or sophisticated. In fact, an earlier version of the program was distributed in March and April and, judging by its implementation, its creators are not very skilled.

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Microsoft issues first Windows XP patch in 3 years to stymie 'WannaCrypt'

Microsoft on Friday took the unprecedented step of issuing patches for long-demoted versions of Windows, including Windows XP, to immunize PCs from fast-spreading ransomware that has crippled machines worldwide.

To stymie "WannaCrypt" attacks -- which encrypted files on thousands of PCs used by the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS), causing chaos in many hospitals -- Microsoft published patches for Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003. All had been retired from support: Windows XP in April 2014, Windows 8 in June 2016, Windows Server in July 2015.

"We are taking the highly unusual step of providing a security update for all customers to protect Windows platforms that are in custom support only, including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003," said Phillip Misner, a principal security group manager at the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRM), in a post to a company blog late Friday.

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'Kill switch' helps slow the spread of WannaCry ransomware

Friday’s unprecedented ransomware attack may have stopped spreading to new machines -- at least briefly -- thanks to a "kill switch" that a security researcher has activated.

The ransomware, called Wana Decryptor or WannaCry, has been found infecting machines across the globe. It works by exploiting a Windows vulnerability that the U.S. National Security Agency may have used for spying.

The malware encrypts data on a PC and shows users a note demanding $300 in bitcoin to have their data decrypted. Images of the ransom note have been circulating on Twitter. Security experts have detected tens of thousands of attacks, apparently spreading over LANs and the internet like a computer worm.

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Microsoft posts PowerShell script that spawns pseudo security bulletins

A Microsoft manager this week offered IT administrators a way to replicate -- in a fashion -- the security bulletins the company discarded last month.

"If you want a report summarizing today's #MSRC security bulletins, here's a script that uses the MSRC Portal API," John Lambert, general manager of the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center, said in a Tuesday message on Twitter.

Lambert's tweet linked to code depository GitHub, where he posted a PowerShell script that polled data using a new API (application programming interface). Microsoft made the API available in November when it first announced that it planned to axe the security bulletins it had issued since at least 1998.

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