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Deployment of bad software causes Cloudflare outage, knocking down major websites

Cloudflare yesterday faced a brief yet disruptive outage that knocked down numerous websites, including some of the popular ones. The outage was caused by the deployment of bad software, which has now been rolled back.

Cloudflare is one of the largest networks in the world, serving more than 16 million internet properties. Businesses, non-profit organizations, and bloggers use Cloudflare to accelerate and secure their presence on the internet.

The outage lasted for around half an hour yesterday. During the outage, the websites faced downtime, showing the ‘502 Bad Gateway’ error.

Famous websites like Pinterest, BuzzFeed, Coinbase Pro, and business apps like Dropbox faced the bad gateway error, according to Down Detector.

Matthew Prince, Co-founder and CEO of Cloudflare, acknowledged in a tweet that he is aware of the outage and the team is working on getting to the bottom of the issue.

He later updated that the issue causing the outage had been mitigated. Traffic was restored. His team was working on restoring all the services globally.

What actually happened at Cloudflare?

Cloudflare had deployed new rules within its Web Application Firewall (WAF) that could help in blocking the inline JavaScript used in attacks. Unfortunately, one of the rules was misconfigured that caused 100% CPU spike, resulting in 502 errors.

“For about 30 minutes today, visitors to Cloudflare sites received 502 errors caused by a massive spike in CPU utilization on our network. This CPU spike was caused by a bad software deploy that was rolled back. Once rolled back the service returned to normal operation and all domains using Cloudflare returned to normal traffic levels,” wrote John Graham-Cumming, CTO of Cloudflare, in a blog post.

Following reviews, Cloudflare rolled back the misconfigured rule and tested the changes to ensure that the issue was fixed correctly.

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News

NEC Server Software Enables Advanced and Secure Login to Websites in Compliance with FIDO2

NEC Corporation announced today the availability of its enhanced NC7000-3A server software, which will enable simple, secure and swift authentication of users for access to websites and mobile applications through biometric authentication.

In addition, NEC is also releasing SDK-based voice authentication that accurately identifies users by extracting the unique characteristics of their voices when they speak predetermined phrases. The FIDO2(1)-compliant server software and updated SDKs are scheduled to be available in July and August 2019 respectively.

NC7000-3A integrates with business/service provider user profiles and manages authentication activities for web services. This software is a FIDO-certified product that enables users to be authenticated without sending biometric information or any other personal information outside of a terminal, thereby reducing the risk of compromising biometric identities and passwords.

Following this update, NC7000-3A server software is now certified with the FIDO2 standards established by the FIDO Alliance(2), which promotes international standards for “password-less” online user verification.

Existing NC7000-3A server software is certified with FIDO UAF, which allows users to login with biometric authentication when using mobile applications, such as online banking. This latest update also supports FIDO2, which enables users of PCs and smartphones to use biometric authentication when logging in to websites as well. FIDO2 capability enables login using external authentication devices, such as security keys, through USB/NFC/Bluetooth communication standards.

In addition, SDK that support a variety of authentication options, including fingerprint, face and voice recognition, are available for Android OS and iOS, enabling customers to freely select and combine multimodal authentication.

This server software and SDK will improve the convenience of logging in and prevent spoofing, which will contribute to the security of web services that require identity authentication. Specifically, it will enable password-less authentication for e-commerce, digital banking, and web services provided by municipalities and government agencies.

Under NEC’s “Mid-term Management Plan 2020,” the company is actively promoting services in new fields that leverage network strengths. Through this software, NEC is flexibly leveraging its networks to accelerate the provision of NEC Smart Connectivity(3), which links data generated by people and industry to create new social value.

“The NC7000 series is at the core of the NEC Smart Connectivity program and has a solid record of installations for financial institutions and telecommunications carriers,” said Takashi Sato, General Manager, Digital Services Solution Division, NEC Corporation. “This enhancement strengthens the role of Bio-IDiom(4), NEC’s portfolio of biometric solutions, in the provision of highly secure and convenient user certification, which supports the realization of a society where people, goods and services are reliably linked.”

Andrew Shikiar, executive director and chief marketing officer, FIDO Alliance, added: “NEC’s consistent efforts as a FIDO Alliance sponsor member help to promote the evolution and globalization of simpler, stronger FIDO Authentication. We are pleased to see NEC introduce its FIDO2 Certified server today as part of the strong and continuously growing ecosystem aimed to reduce the world’s reliance on passwords.”

“I am very pleased to see NEC obtain FIDO2 certification and to reinforce its standing as a member of the FIDO Alliance, whose goal is to supplant reliance on passwords,” said Koichi Moriyama, a Member of the FIDO Alliance Executive Council, Chairman of the Japan Working Group, Senior Director of Product Innovation, Product Department, NTT DOCOMO, INC. “As one of Japan’s leading ICT companies, we look forward to working together to accelerate efforts to create a world without passwords through deployment of FIDO certified products.”

References:
(1) https://fidoalliance.org/fido2/
(2) https://www.fidoalliance.org
(3) This is a collective term for network services that leverage NEC’s expertise and track record in network technologies and related solutions. We will utilize 5G and LPWA to create new data distribution that connects previously untapped data in various fields, such as social infrastructures, manufacturing, and retail, and delivers it to the people and goods they need.
(4) “Bio-IDiom” is NEC’s portfolio of biometric identification solutions, including face, iris, fingerprint, palm print, finger vein, voice, and ear acoustic solutions.
https://www.nec.com/en/global/solutions/biometrics/index.html

READ NEXT: Defend your business from modern-day cyber attacks with these 3 tips

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Articles

Top 3 time-consuming IT tasks and how to automate them

In our hyper-connected digital age, there has never been more pressure on IT departments to ensure the smooth, cohesive and successful running of their organization’s internal infrastructure.

Regardless of your sector or industry, in many ways, your IT department is the backbone of your entire operation. If your IT department is inefficient, every element of your business will suffer.

As digital technologies evolve, opportunities to automate key aspects of your IT department’s daily initiatives continue to emerge.

IT automation has the power to make your organization more secure, more productive and more time efficient than ever before. Here we explore the three most time-consuming tasks facing today’s IT departments and how it’s possible to automate them to your advantage.

Distribution

Fundamentally, software distribution encompasses each of the aforementioned areas and more.

As contemporary IT systems become increasingly complex, not only do they consume colossal levels of bandwidth, but they take an incredibly large amount of time to manage. That said (you might be spotting a theme at this point), automating key elements of your software distribution strategy is the way forward.

How? Concerning the automation and general improvement of your internal software distribution processes, the route to success is stripping down your physical assets by basing the majority of your system’s key components in the cloud. In turn, this will eliminate the need to invest in expensive infrastructure or become hindered by time-consuming processes.

By examining your current infrastructure and identifying what you can trade for the cloud, you’ll foster efficiency while creating a clear-cut path for distribution-based automation.

Cloud-based IT software distribution solutions serve to automate these most intricate of processes while increasing operational efficiency and consuming far less bandwidth – the key ingredients to operational success.

 

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.”  – Dean Kamen

Across the board, software deployment can drain a huge amount of time, money and resources. But, by automating your IT department’s most frequent or critical processes, you will save tons of time and free up your department’s schedule to take care of other tasks in the pipeline.

Maintenance

Regular IT maintenance is integral to the ongoing health and success of your organization.

Ensuring that every component of your infrastructure is operational, updated and working to its optimum capacity is incredibly time-consuming.

But, while performing system maintenance was once a primarily manual task, IT automation solutions have made it possible to deploy tailored maintenance plans at predetermined times and frequencies, making the whole process secure, controlled and fluid from start to finish. A time-saving innovation with an endless stream of organizational benefits.

How? On an individual basis, installing automated disk check or cleanup software and scheduling periodical updates on each computer within your company’s system will ensure the ongoing performance and health of each cog in the wheel, so to speak.

Moreover, using your operating software’s in-built system backup automation, programming it to operate on a regular basis, you will keep on top of your maintenance duties with minimal intervention.

On a wider scale, utilizing a cloud-based software solution powered by micro-agents will help you perform such tasks on larger, more complex systems while ensuring all of your files, assets and efforts are securely backed up in the cloud, thus ensuring security, while saving you energy to apply on other aspects of the business.

Security

In the age of information, cybersecurity is of paramount importance. On an average, there are over 130 large-scale, targeted breaches in the US alone every year, a number that is growing by 27% every 12 months.

Any form of a cyber breach can prove devastating to your business and it’s the responsibility of your IT department to fortify the organization against any potential attacks.

System troubleshooting, updates, security software installation and patch management activities are not only incredibly time-consuming but as a regular task, they present an ongoing challenge for over-stretched IT departments.

By automating all of these vital processes, you will ensure the ongoing protection of your business empire while empowering your IT operatives to focus on more strategic initiatives that further benefit the organization.

How? As cybersecurity is so integral to your company’s future, it’s important to note that while getting autonomous tech to do most of the heavy lifting will prove incredibly effective – you must work collaboratively with your IT department to ensure that your automated initiatives are working to the best of their abilities to avoid any unforeseen breaches.

When looking at autonomous security solutions, it’s important to consider your existing platforms as well as the size of your company and choose your tools accordingly. To really win in the battle against corporate targeting cyber criminals, you will need to look for the following qualities in potential protection-based automated solutions:

  • The ability to detect existing weaknesses in your infrastructure or system.
  • The ability to run regular routine security checks and software updates.
  • The ability to scale seamlessly with the growth of your organization.
  • The ability to record all of your patching activity for security data and auditing processes.

For more IT-enhancing insights for your business, read about the top five collaboration tools for DevOps teams.

Guest Author- Jeff Broth

Jeff Broth is a business writer, mentor, and cybersecurity advisor. He has been consulting both enterprises and SMBs for the past seven years.
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Cloud News

Cisco to begin Early Field Trials of AVE to extend ACI to Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google

Cisco had recently announced its plans of extending Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) – its Software Defined Networking (SDN) solution, to the public cloud – Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google.

This will allow quick innovation and digital transformation as enterprises will get to access ACI anywhere along with the flexibility of running their applications across their private and chosen public cloud, while maintaining constant network policies along complete multi-cloud domain.

ACI helps in reducing data center complexities by providing hardware and software capabilities jointly via one environment. Approximately 4,000 customers of Cisco are currently using ACI platform.

In the wake of this development, Cisco made another announcement of commencing Early Field Trials (EFT) of its ACI Virtual Edge (AVE), Cisco’s next generation Application Virtual Switch (AVS) for the ACI environments. AVE is independent of hypervisor and offers seamless policy control across a number of hypervisors, with its basic version targeted for VMware ESXi.

Frank Palumbo, Senior Vice President, Global Data Center & Enterprise Networking Sales announced this development in his blog post. He said, “We are on schedule to ship by the end of this year.”

He added, “Cisco understands the burden of operational change. We have designed the ACI Virtual Edge for an easy transition with minimal operational disruption. Current customers can continue to use the AVS and move to the AVE at their convenience. We will continue support for the AVS to alleviate customer concern. With this solution, customers can maintain their existing policies and operational procedures.”

With traditional hardware based switches and routers quickly fading away, Cisco has been continuously trying to position itself as a software vendor. This year, the company experienced a dip in its switching revenue by approximately 9% YoY in fiscal 4Q17, that cover almost half of its revenue.

Cisco seems to be in the initial transition stages of moving to the software and subscription revenue business model and so this dip is expected when the companies switch business models. The recent announcements are the proof that the tech giant is focusing on innovation that can create long term business value.

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Articles Cloud Web Hosting

What is SaaS? Software-as-a-Sevice Explained!

Saas Explained.When someone explains Software as a Service or Cloud Computing to you – do you have one of those moments where you hear the words, but can’t make sense of what they are saying? Here is an analogy that virtually everyone can understand.

We all understand the cost of buying and maintaining a car. Today, people can either buy or lease a car. In both cases, some repairs are covered under warranty or included in the lease, but there are still costs involved to operate and maintain it. Not to mention the hassle of selling or trading the car in when you need a new one. What if a third option were available – Car as a Service?

In this model, you would pay a flat monthly fee to use the car. All maintenance, repairs, and even upgrades are included. Fuel, oil changes, standard maintenance, unexpected maintenance, body shop work, etc. are all included in the monthly fee. To top it off, when the manufacturer comes out with a time tested new model, your car will automatically get exchanged for latest model at no additional cost. No need to sign anything and go through the hassle of signing a new lease – the new car would be delivered to your home or office, all your personal belongings in the car would be transferred to the new car, and the old one would be taken away.

You might be thinking that this still sounds like nothing more than a fancy lease. But it’s actually very different. In addition to covering all maintenance expenses and model upgrades, there are no long term agreements or commitments. If at some point you no longer need the car, you simply turn it in at the end of the month and the payments go away.

Now let’s say that you have 5 employees and got each of them a car under the Car as a Service plan. These same benefits would apply to all of your employee’s cars as well. If 2 employees leave, simply return their cars and keep the rest. Your monthly fee will immediately be adjusted accordingly. You only need to pay for the cars as long as you need them. You always know exactly how much to budget each month because there are never additional expenses for fuel, maintenance, or repairs. And you never have to worry about your car getting old because you will receive a new model every few years.

If Car as a Service really existed, would you entertain this option the next time you need a car? If the answer is “Yes”, then you need to consider Software as a Service the next time you need to buy or upgrade any software applications or computer hardware. The video below will make things clear as to how SaaS works:

What is SaaS?
Software as a service (SaaS) is a model for using software as a subscription service instead of buying the license and installing the application files on a local computer from a CD, or increasingly as a download from a vendor website. According to technology analyst firm IDC, key characteristics of Software as a Service include:

  • Network-based access to, and management of, commercial software.
  • Server management from a central location rather than at each customer site.

Software as a Service is generally priced on a per-user basis for each application, with billing managed by a major credit card. Sometimes there are minimum user requirements, minimum subscription time periods, as well as additional fees for setup, extra bandwidth and storage.

Saas-Working-Model
Saas Working Model

Who is it for?
In the business-to-business arena, the Software as a Service model is most often focused on the small-medium business segment. Unlike large enterprises, smaller companies have:

  • Little or no staff devoted to information technology, and the employees they do have are often stretched thin and are generalists in their knowledge and skills.
  • Limited budgets, particularly for capital expenditures.
  • More fluid needs for tools and people due to rapid growth and other changing requirements.
  • Greater demands on time, as most small business owners and their employees wear multiple hats.
  • Growing propensity to operate on a ‘virtual’ model, with employees working from home, at remote work sites, or from rented office space that is shared with other businesses.

The flexibility of software as a service is particularly attractive to small business owners –

  • No upfront investment in money or time, and often no contracts.
  • Ability to use powerful business applications without having to acquire the specialized infrastructure and staff needed to manage them.
  • Power to mix and match applications or add and remove users as needed
  • Freedom to work from any location.

How does it work?
The Software as a Service model requires primarily a web browser and an internet connection:

  1. The customer goes to a website and ‘buys’ a subscription – generally monthly – to the desired Software as a Service applications and number of users. An account is set up with a major credit card for billing.
  2. The person who places the order (who generally becomes an administrator) is given login credentials and a web URL for secure access to the Software as a Service application.
  3. Every user added to the account receives his/her own log-in credentials granting them web access to the Software as a Service application(s) for as long as needed and as long as specified terms are met.

Most Software as a Service vendors provide a secure web portal with additional services such as support, along with administrator access for changing the number of users or applications and maintaining other account information.

SaaS BenifitsAdvantages:
Since nothing resides on a single hard drive (with a few exceptions in which files must be installed locally), the application can be used from any internet connected PC, providing greater flexibility.

  • With pay-as-you-go terms, you pay only for what you use.
  • You’re never locked into a license, so there’s no obsolescence and no buyer’s remorse if something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would, or if requirements change. While purchased software cannot be returned, software as a service subscriptions may be cancelled.
  • Reap the productivity rewards from an application whenever you want, without a commitment or big upfront investment in money or an evaluation process.
  • Add or remove users as staffing needs change, and applications as business needs change.
  • Predict and budget how much you will spend, and move the cost from a capital expenditure to a business expense.
  • Redirect financial resources, people and time for other needs and priorities.

Disadvantages:

  • With SaaS, the users do not have a copy of the executable file: it is on the server, where the users can’t see or touch it. Thus it is impossible for them to ascertain what it really does, and impossible to change it. SaaS inherently gives the server operator the power to change the software in use, or the users’ data being operated on.
  • Users must send their data to the server in order to use them. This has the same effect as spyware: the server operator gets the data. She/he gets it with no special effort, by the nature of SaaS. This gives the server operator unjust power over the user.

Final word on SaaS:

  • Software as a Service vendors manage software as a core business with experienced, dedicated staff in professional data center facilities.
  • Security, redundancy and resources are equal or superior to those of the largest, most sophisticated enterprises. With today’s security threats and the growing importance of information technology for productivity and competitive advantage, robust facilities are moving from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’.
  • Bandwidth has become readily available (particularly with the growth of wireless) and highly competitive, making it more dependable as well as less expensive. Today, homes and offices are routinely equipped with high-speed, broadband internet access.
  • You will have one less thing to worry about. No servers, systems or software to install, administer, backup, protect and upgrade.

Credit: WorkPlace2Go