More from: cloud

IBM Cloud Advances

Two women entering data on IBM 026 keypunch

This just in from Information Week on the IBM approach to Cloud Services.

https://www.informationweek.com/cloud/infrastructure-as-a-service/koehler-ibm-cloud-advances-with-integration-new-services/d/d-id/1329353

IBM is breaking away from the pattern of cloud infrastructure established by Google, Amazon and Microsoft. IBM’s future cloud offering can be based on whatever form of virtualization and server hardware that IBM chooses, as opposed to following the model of all x86 Intel architecture that Amazon Web Services and most other providers do.

“Electricity that comes out of the socket gets produced by a mix of coal, solar, hydro and nuclear, but it’s still 120-volt electricity,” Koehler said. By implication, he was saying in the future, cloud compute power may likewise stem from a mix of x86, IBM Power, Z series and graphics processors.

Stay turned, and keep watching. Someone is telling us they are waking up and responding to real market demands instead of trying to shape market to fit the product they already have. And IBM is good at technology for longer than most companies have existed. But expect their offering to be aimed squarely at businesses, like a Selectric typewriter, not individuals, like off brands.


Ransomware

locked-computer-cartoonIn an ideal world, all people would be informed, intelligent, and there would be no sociopaths. But in reality computer users are not normally technically adept: to them their computer is just a thing they use to get work done or for entertainment, and they treat it like a radio, television, or coffee maker. In a real work environment, until something really bad happens, people use Windows XP ten years after Microsoft stopped supporting it, never apply updates as ‘they are too annoying’ and ‘people are busy’, and they click on everything just to see what happens. Readmore..


Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

Update note: about the concern of being required to take a Microsoft Cloud account in order to use Windows 10, please look at my reveiw of the Tech Preview at http://jdnash.com/2014/10/windows-10-technical-preview-first-look/ and pay attention to the item “1. How to use Windows 10 without subscribing to Microsoft Cloud”

According to an article on eWeek, Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for customers currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8. Pirated copies of Windows 7 and 8 will also upgrade for free. Microsoft will make it’s money in the cloud. Hardware requirement will be 1GHz processor, 1G RAM, 16G storage, and DirectX 9 capable graphics. However, it is also said that you MUST have a Microsoft Cloud account. In Windows 8 you could get around this.

Xiaomi, the mobile device maker, is looking at Windows 10 mobile as an alternative to Android, and Windows 10 will work on all devices, including tablets, greatly simplifying interoperability. Advanced biometrics, such as retina scanners, will be included which when combined with Azure or OneDrive could mean fewer credential hassles across all your devices — scan retina on on your phone, tablet, phablet, or PC to log in.

Update: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2478496,00.asp
“We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10,” said Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of operating systems, inan interview with Reuters.

According Ars Technica, Microsoft representatives have indicated that those with pirated copies of previous Windows versions will be able to upgrade to Windows 10, but the Windows 10 they get will be considered an “unofficial” version.

Spartan, supposedly a total (or almost total) rewrite of the Microsoft web browser, will replace IE. Cortana, the “personal digital assistant’ available for Windows phones, will work on all versions of Windows 10. Cortana, I hear, is not your grandfather’s Clippie. Haven’t seen it on my Windows 7 phone. As I mentioned in my previous review of the tech preview, the menu system and such in Windows 10 is much more usable, keeping the worthwhile innovations from both Windows 7 and 8 — the menu is back, and the touch screen cell phone like launchers are staying.

– See more at: http://www.eweek.com/enterprise-apps/slideshows/windows-10s-release-will-be-unlike-all-earlier-microsoft-os-debuts.html


Content Filters

Reviewing web content filters: the box that scans incoming web pages, reads them, and allows acceptable content or blocks/drops unacceptable content based upon rules you set. Notes:

  1. Must read the pages, not merely scan URLs
  2. Must break open encrypted packets and scan, otherwise it is all wasted time
  3. Must not rely upon the device being used to view web pages — must be installed in the line connecting the LAN to the Internet, so it cannot be bypassed by any end user. It cannot be a mere proxy (cloud) that trusts the person being limited does not circumvent it: it must be hard wired into the building LAN so that it is impossible to evade.
  4. Preferably OpenSource so it is subject to peer review.
  5. Preferably no per seat licensing attempts to exploit
  6. Linux / BSD / Unix OS

DSCN2693

Web search possible results

Five Content Filters, Tech Republic http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-content-filters-suitable-for-both-home-and-business/

Potential candidates which supposedly read the actual web page and block unacceptable content.

  1. Net Nanny http://www.netnanny.com/ — relies on intintegrity of the end user’s PC, Windows, not in LAN, costs $39.99 per seat for licenses
  2. K9 http://www1.k9webprotection.com/ — only works on Windows or some mobile devices, apparently to be installed onto the actual device and not inline in the LAN, and they want $12.50 PER MONTH PER SEAT to use it. graphic
  3. Safe Squid http://www.safesquid.com/content-filtering/linux-installation — downloads at http://www.safesquid.com/content-filtering/documentation. Seems to be free. Good Linux command line install instructions. Not sure if it scans each web page or not: looks like just a firewall with a URL blacklist (menus have nothing about content filter, key words, weights, etc). Think it might be intended to be installed inline however it comes in Linux and Windows versions. Look more at this later.
  4. DansGuardian http://dansguardian.org/?page=documentation — It was a good project, but not maintained. People in volved started a pay-per-seat for-profit project called SmoothWall that has superceeded it. It does read the pages, but it did not break open encrypted packets when I used it last.
  5. OpenDNS http://www.opendns.com Looks promising. It is a web based service BUT it works by changing the DNS lines in your firewall to point to OpenDNS. Unless the end user can break inot my firewall/router it will help. They provide a white paper on their approach here. Free with VIP subs available for $20/year. Graphic here. I’ll look more but this is potentially a high efficiency solution, so I subscribed. Summary from the web site at http://www.opendns.com/technology/ reads

    “We’ve established that DNS is used in almost all online activities, helping you get to where you want to go. But traditional DNS doesn’t discriminate the good from the bad. Regular DNS doesn’t know the difference between http://www.paypal.com and a forged clone site, aiming to trick you into providing your sensitive personal information. OpenDNS not only knows the difference, but also gives you the tools to decide what to let in, and what to block.  Think of it like a firewall for DNS. Using DNS as a filtering mechanism has powerful implications: phishing websites can be blocked from tricking users into giving up sensitive data and malware websites can be prevented from infecting computers.  Moreover, it’s not just about preventing security threats from loading.  Infected computers usually use DNS to try and “phone home” to a master computer for instructions, often leaking out confidential information, passwords, and files from computers.  OpenDNS prevents that from happening, too.”

    The bottom line is change your DNS settings to use the OpenDNS server addresses as your DNS server settings and save/apply:208.67.222.222, and 208.67.220.220. Piece of cake.
    Apparently there is more to this than meets the eye. I had my wife browse to sex dot com and she said she got pictures, lots of pictures. Ah. An email came to the address I provided when registering. First I must confirm my identity. Then enroll my IP address. Then select my level of filtering. Then wait 3 minutes for it to take effect. Works. It is clearly a URL filter, but that is better than nothing until I find a content scanning filter.
    One benefit is that URLs are submitted and rated by members through an averaging process (voting).

  6. Smoothwall Express http://www.smoothwall.net/ — looks like IPCop to me, a firewall. No apparent content filtering. Maybe content filtering is in their per seat license product. I requested pricing information on their contact web page, but have not heard back yet. I’ll update when I have more complete information. This could be a nice content scanner in addition to the OpenDNS URL scanner, but the pricing may be too high for a public charity serving the poor to afford. Their sales asked when I could chat and I suggested Monday 10/7. NOTE: I talked with the Smoothwall rep Tuesday 10/8 and there filter definitely does break open encrypted packets and examine the content.
  7. IPCop http://www.ipcop.org/ — it is only a firewall. We use it now and it works nicely. Free, no artificial limitations to coerce you into buying something unlimited. But no content filtering.

The Outlook is Dead: Long Live The Outlook.COM

Microsoft is pushing everything to the cloud. Of course, informed business persons are concerned about any public disclosure of their proprietary data and very cautious of exposing customer private information protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Microsoft has been pushing a new approach to office applications http://www.cioinsight.com/c/a/Latest-News/Microsoft-Outlookcom-Email-Unlikely-to-Catch-Google-Gmail-722916/ so that all things are “in the could” — that is, residing outside the protection of your companies servers onto servers owned and run by someone else who you cannot control. Also, private company data placed on the Internet is always in jeopardy of unauthorized disclosure should hackers succeed at breaking into the “cloud” server on which the data resides. Apps served from the Internet “cloud” are similarly at risk as they could possibly be hacked to include backdoor code to send your private information to an unauthorized third party.

As the government increases its invasion of privacy, even collecting any private customer information that they desire by merely sending a letter to your ISP (without a judges knowledge, consent, or approval) and demanding all your records (requiring the ISP to deny even the existence of said demand letter “because revealing any information about this (illegal) demand for information could harm our national security”), businesses rightly become even more skeptical of the safety of placing trade secrets and customer information on the Internet “cloud”.

However, Microsoft Office, including Outlook, has been the “premier” office app suite for years. Serving apps exclusively from the web allows Microsoft to sell subscriptions for regular monthly income and drastically reduces their support costs — they do all the updates to one copy of the software which is served to everyone from the “cloud”. In the next version of Microsoft Office Outlook as a program that runs on your computer under your control is apparently being deleted and replaced by the web site Outlook.com.

Businesses have been slow to give up having their office software running under their own control on their own computers and switching to “cloud” served apps, such as Google Apps. However business have been using Web Mail in some cases and are recognizing the advantages of accessing information from mobile devices. This could be a small step toward gaining acceptance for removing owner control of all apps and changing all business software to be hosted on web servers and merely rented on a monthly basis.

Whether the death of Outlook will matter, or not, remains to be seen: people may simply accept the improved Hotmail.com renamed to Outlook.com and made to look more like the Outlook mail client businesses used to have.

In time I think the change to strictly rented office apps will progress, even if businesses do not agree with it or like it — if they are going to continue to use Microsoft the answer will be “Resistance is Futile: halt and be assimilated”. If the objections are strong enough there is always very nice #OpenSource software alternatives to #Microsoft 360 and #cloud.