Tag Archives: coming

Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI going hard after Salesforce

Microsoft and Salesforce are attacking each other again. Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI tools are coming that will beef up sales, marketing and — most of all — service and support, unveiled the day after Salesforce announced Quip Slides, a PowerPoint competitor.

Salesforce appears to be annexing Microsoft’s business-productivity territory, while Microsoft is rolling its forces deeper into Salesforce’s CRM domain by more tightly connecting Teams collaboration with its CRM suite, freshened up with new AI capabilities.

“You’ve got Salesforce announcing Quip Slides, and you’ve got Microsoft doing a whole bunch of integration between Teams and Dynamics … who’s going after whose market?” said Alan Lepofsky, analyst at Constellation Research.

In a media briefing ahead of its Ignite user conference, the tech giant took some direct shots at rival Salesforce in introducing Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI tools that buttress CRM processes. Of particular note was Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service, which adds out-of-the-box virtual agents.

Assistive AI for contact centers

Who’s going after whose market?
Alan Lepofskyanalyst, Constellation Research

Virtual agents can take several forms, two of which include chatbots that do the talking on behalf of humans, or assistive bots that prompt humans with suggested answers for engaging live with customers either on voice or text channels.

New Microsoft bots, built on Azure Cognitive Services, won’t require the code-intensive development or consultant services that other vendors’ CRM tools do, claimed Alysa Taylor, Microsoft corporate vice president of business applications and global industry. She singled out Salesforce as a CRM competitor in her comments.

“Many vendors offer [virtual agents] in a way that is very cumbersome for organizations to adopt,” Taylor said. “It requires a large services engagement; Salesforce partners with IBM Watson to be able to deliver this.”

Either way, the bots will require training. Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI-powered bots can be trained by call center managers, asserted Navrina Singh, Microsoft AI principal product lead, during a demo.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s taking on Salesforce with new CRM AI tools

The bots can tap into phone log transcriptions, email and other contact center data stores to shape answers to customer problems and take some of the workload off of overburdened contact center agents, Singh said.

The virtual agent introductions were significant enough that Microsoft brought out CEO Satya Nadella for a cameo with Singh during the briefing.

“The thing that’s most exciting to me,” Nadella said, “… is that [Microsoft] can make every company out there an AI-first company. They already have customers, they already have data. If you can democratize the use of AI tools, every company can harness the power of AI.”

Other Dynamics 365 AI tools for CRM

Sales and marketing staffs get their own Dynamics 365 AI infusion, too.

Microsoft brings Dynamics 365 AI for Sales in line with Salesforce Einstein tools that use AI to prioritize lead pipelines and sales-team performance management.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights plumbs marketing, social media and other customer engagement data to improve customer relations and “engage in relevant conversations and respond faster to trends,” Taylor wrote in a blog post announcing the new system.

While the Microsoft moves appear effective, industry observers questioned whether they can Microsoft make an impression in Salesforce’s massive market footprint, even if they are easier to use, more economical and more intuitive than Salesforce’s.

Lepofsky said he isn’t sure, because of the sheer numbers. The 150,000-strong Dreamforce user conference is at the same time as Ignite, and the latter will likely draw only about a sixth of the Dreamforce crowd. And Salesforce likely won’t be resting on its AI credentials either.

“I think you can speculate that Salesforce will also be talking about AI improvements at Dreamforce, so perhaps it’s not that differentiating for Dynamics,” Lepofsky said.

While Microsoft announced no release date for its AI tools, a preview site will go online this fall, Singh said.

Coinhive malware infects tens of thousands of MikroTik routers

Poor patching practices by vendors and users are once again coming back to bite users around the world, as a researcher discovered a cryptominer being spread to unpatched MikroTik routers.

The Coinhive malware was first found spreading through routers in Brazil. Simon Kenin, security researcher for Trustwave, based in Chicago, discovered the Coinhive malware infection originating from Brazil and first assumed it was a more common website compromise attack to inject the cryptomining code. But more digging revealed the infection was spreading through MikroTik routers.

Kenin said malicious actors were exploiting a vulnerability in the routers that MikroTik had patched in April — just one day after the flaw was first discovered.

“The exploit targets Winbox and allows the attacker to read files from the device … but the bottom line is that using this exploit you can get unauthenticated remote admin access to any vulnerable MikroTik router,” Kenin wrote in his analysis. “Initial investigation indicates that instead of running a malicious executable on the router itself, which is how the exploit was being used when it was first discovered, the attacker used the device’s functionality in order to inject the CoinHive script into every web page that a user visited.”

Mounir Hahad, head of Juniper Threat Labs at Juniper Networks, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., noted that MicroTik has deployed approximately 1.7 million units around the world — “mostly in Brazil, China, Russia and Indonesia” — and explained why the victims may not have patched.

“Most routers, unfortunately, lack the ability to auto-update, and very few users, especially home users, know how or when to patch the firmware on their router,” Hahad wrote via email. “One of the biggest failures of security vendors that provide small-office [or] home-office routers is not including an auto-update feature by default, regardless of the technical difficulties lying around potentially taking the router offline during the update process.”

Chris Olson, founder and CEO of The Media Trust, based in McLean, Va., agreed infections like the Coinhive malware could prey on poor patching habits.

“The average user will likely plug in their router and forget about it until something goes awry,” Olson wrote via email. “Routers are like electricity and water: Unless service is disrupted, they receive little to no attention. Because they are often ignored, they make the perfect attack vector.”

Coinhive malware infections

Routers are like electricity and water: Unless service is disrupted, they receive little to no attention. Because they are often ignored, they make the perfect attack vector.
Chris OlsonCEO, The Media Trust

Kenin said the Coinhive malware creates and injects a custom error page for every webpage visited by a user through an infected router.

“So if a user receives an error page of any kind while web browsing, they will get this custom error page which will mine CoinHive for the attacker,” Kenin wrote. “The backend Apache server is connected to the router as well, and somewhere along the way there was an error and it was displayed to me, miner included. What this means is that this also impacts users who are not directly connected to the infected router’s network, but also users who visit websites behind these infected routers. In other words, the attack works in both directions.”

Experts noted that this method of spreading the Coinhive malware to every site visited was unusual.

Sean Newman, director product management at Corero Network Security, based in Marlborough, Mass., said the Coinhive malware “is not something we’ve specifically seen before.”

“However, it does combine well-known exploit mechanisms, though in a novel way that is well-suited to the practice of cryptojacking,” Newman wrote via email. And, in this case, we’re not talking about cheap IoT devices with vulnerabilities which are never addressed by the vendor. In this case, the routers were exploited to deliver a cryptomining payload, but the same approach could have just as easily leveraged them for other objectives.”

Olson agreed this method of spreading malware would be more common with the creation of a botnet, and Hahad noted the Coinhive malware might not be the most efficient way of cryptomining.

“Every browser tends to have several open tabs that connect to several sites at once. Duplicating the Coinhive mining script so heavily would bring any computer to its knees in seconds, defeating the very purpose of the attack,” Hahad wrote. “Once tweaked to only inject error pages, the issue was mitigated. But, again, the effectiveness is now dramatically reduced, because people do not hit error pages very often. In my opinion, this shows it is the work of a script kiddie with not much hacking experience.”

Visit Xbox at San Diego Comic-Con 2018 – Xbox Wire

San Diego Comic-Con, the world’s largest comic and pop-culture festival, is coming soon and Xbox is bringing the fun with exclusive gear, panels, celebrity guests, and more! See below for details on everything Xbox at SDCC and join the fun from California or from the comfort of your own couch.

Xbox Booth (San Diego Comic-Con badge required)
Hall A, Booth #100

For the first time ever, Xbox will have exclusive gear available at SDCC! Stop by to pick up exclusive clothing and items from Xbox and your favorite games and then get them customized on the spot with your Gamertag. See some of the items available here.

Visit us on Thursday, July 19 and Saturday, July 21 for signing sessions with some of your favorite developers and designers, but get there early: only the first 100 people to receive passes will be eligible!

Signings (San Diego Comic-Con badge required):

  • Brendan Greene (“PlayerUnknown”), Creative Director, PUBG Corp – Thursday, July 19 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. PDT
  • Joe Neate, Executive Producer, and Mike Chapman, Design Director, Sea of Thieves – Saturday, July 21 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. PDT

Xbox Gear Comic-Con Sweepstakes

Can’t make it to the booth to pick up the exclusive gear? Retweet @Xbox to potentially win an Xbox Gear Comic-Con prize pack! Four winners will receive a collection of exclusive Xbox Gear, and one grand prize winner will receive the gear and an Xbox One X.

Follow @Xbox or @XboxCanada on Twitter and retweet the following tweet when it goes live at the start of San Diego Comic-Con: “RT and follow for a chance to win exclusive #XboxSDCC #XboxGear! NoPurchNec. Ends 7/22/18. #Sweepstakes Rules: bit.ly/2KV2DQ1.” You have until July 22 to enter. Click through for the Official Rules.

Sea of Thieves Panel (San Diego Comic-Con badge required)
Room 5AB, Saturday, July 21 from 1:30pm – 2:30pm PDT

Special guest and Sea of Thieves fan Freddie Prinze Jr. (“Star Wars Rebels,” “24,” “Scooby Doo,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer”) joins the Rare crew, Joe Neate, Mike Chapman, and Peter Hentze as they discuss the lore and expanded universe of Sea of Thieves. Attendees will also receive a limited-edition Sea of Thieves comic and time-limited exclusive in-game DLC!

Xbox Live Sessions

If you’re not in San Diego but still want to follow along with the fun, we’re hosting two action-packed Xbox Live Sessions that you won’t want to miss.

  • PUBG featuring Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene: On Thursday, July 19 at 5:00 p.m. PDT, PUBG Creative Director Brendan Greene (@PLAYERUNKNOWN) and Microsoft Executive Producer Nico Bihary (@nico_bihary) will join Rukari Austin (@rukizzelrukizzel) to get their loot on in PUBG’s Miramar map live from inside of a PUBG Bus created by West Coast Customs. That’s right – Xbox, PUBG Corp., and West Coast Customs have teamed up to create a one-of-a-kind, tricked out PUBG Bus which will be home to the livestream and available to see in-person at The Experience at Comic-Con.
  • Sea of Thieves with Freddie Prinze Jr.: On Saturday, July 21 at 5:00 p.m. PDT, Sea of Thieves fan Freddie Prinze Jr. (@RealFPJr) will sail the high seas with members of the Rare team and Major Nelson in an episode of Xbox Live Sessions that’s sure to test the sea legs of the seasoned actor. Fans at home can tune in and watch on http://mixer.com/Xbox  and http://twitch.tv/Xbox.

Xbox at “The Experience at Comic-Con”

SDCC map

Head over to Petco Park where you can play Xbox One games, earn free swag, and win awesome prizes! No Comic-Con badge required.

  • Visit the Samsung truck at The Experience at Comic-Con, located in the Lexus Lot at Petco Park. Climb aboard the truck to compete in Forza Motorsport 7 on Xbox One X via Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs. More information can be found here.
  • Come visit the first stop of the Xbox One Summer of PUBG tour. Win prizes, check out the PUBG Bus, and stick around for the Xbox Live Sessions! More information can be found here

For all the SDCC details, visit the Xbox SDCC website. For more Xbox news, follow @Xbox on Twitter and stay tuned to Xbox Wire. See you at San Diego Comic-Con!

Tape storage capacity plays important role as data increases

As the amount of new data created is set to hit the multiple-zettabyte level in the coming years, where will we store it all?

With the release of LTO-8 and recent reports that total tape storage capacity continues to increase dramatically, tape is a strong option for long-term retention. But even tape advocates say it’s going to take a comprehensive approach to storage that includes other forms of media to handle the data influx.

Tape making a comeback?

The annual tape media shipment report released earlier this year by the LTO Program showed that 108,000 petabytes (PB) of compressed tape storage capacity shipped in 2017, an increase of 12.9% over 2016. The total marks a fivefold increase over the capacity of just over 20,000 PB shipped in 2008.

LTO-8, which launched in late 2017, provides 30 TB compressed capacity and 12 TB native, doubling the capacities of LTO-7, which came out in 2015. The 12 TB of uncompressed capacity is equivalent to 8,000 movies, 2,880,000 songs or 7,140,000 photos, according to vendor Spectra Logic.

“We hope now [with] LTO-8 another increase in capacity [next year],” said Laura Loredo, worldwide marketing product manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, one of the LTO Program’s Technology Provider Companies along with IBM and Quantum.

The media, entertainment and science industries have been traditionally strong users of tape for long-term retention. Loredo pointed to more recent uses that have gained traction. Video surveillance is getting digitized more often and kept for longer, and there is more of it in general. The medical industry is a similar story, as records get digitized and kept for long periods of time.

The ability to create digital content at high volumes is becoming less expensive, and with higher resolutions, those capacities are increasing, Quantum product and solution marketing manager Kieran Maloney said. So tape becomes a cost-efficient play for retaining that data.

Tape also brings security benefits. Because it is naturally isolated from a network, tape provides a true “air gap” for protection against ransomware, said Carlos Sandoval Castro, LTO marketing representative at IBM. If ransomware is in a system, it can’t touch a tape that’s not connected, making tapes an avenue for disaster recovery in the event of a successful attack.

“We are seeing customers come back to tape,” Loredo said.

LTO roadmap
The LTO roadmap projects out to the 12th generation.

Tape sees clear runway ahead

“There’s a lot of runway ahead for tape … much more so than either flash or disk,” said analyst Jon Toigo, managing partner at Toigo Partners International and chairman of the Data Management Institute.

Even public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure are big consumers of tape, Toigo said. Those cloud providers can use the large tape storage capacity for their data backup.

Tape is an absolute requirement for storing the massive amounts of data coming down the pike.
Jon Toigochairman, Data Management Institute

However, with IDC forecasting dozens of zettabytes in need of storage by 2025, flash and disk will remain important. One zettabyte is equal to approximately 1 billion TBs.

“You’re going to need all of the above,” Toigo said. “Tape is an absolute requirement for storing the massive amounts of data coming down the pike.”

It’s not necessarily about flash versus tape or other comparisons, it’s about how best to use flash, disk, tape and the cloud, said Rich Gadomski, vice president of marketing at Fujifilm and a member of the Tape Storage Council.

The cloud, for example, is helpful for certain aspects, such as offsite storage, but it shouldn’t be the medium for everything.

“A multifaceted data protection approach continues to thrive,” Gadomski said.

There’s still a lot of education needed around tape, vendors said. So often the conversation pits technologies against each other, Maloney said, but instead the question should be “Which technology works best for which use?” In the end, tape can fit into a tiered storage model that also includes flash, disk and the cloud.

In a similar way, the Tape Storage Council’s annual “State of the Tape Industry” report, released in March, acknowledged that organizations are often best served by using multiple media for storage.

“Tape shares the data center storage hierarchy with SSDs and HDDs and the ideal storage solution optimizes the strengths of each,” the report said. “However, the role tape serves in today’s modern data centers is quickly expanding into new markets because compelling technological advancements have made tape the most economical, highest capacity and most reliable storage medium available.”

LTO-8 uses tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) for tape heads, a switch from the previous giant magnetoresistance (GMR). TMR provides a more defined electrical signal than GMR, allowing bits to be written to smaller areas of LTO media. LTO-8 also uses barium ferrite instead of metal particles for tape storage capacity improvement. With the inclusion of TMR technology and barium ferrite, LTO-8 is only backward compatible to one generation. Historically, LTO had been able to read back two generations and write back to one generation.

“Tape continues to evolve — the technology certainly isn’t standing still,” Gadomski said.

Tape also has a clearly defined roadmap, with LTO projected out to the 12th generation. Each successive generation after LTO-8 projects double the capacity of the previous version. As a result, LTO-12 would offer 480 TB compressed tape storage capacity and 192 TB native. It typically takes between two and three years for a new LTO generation to launch.

In addition, IBM and Sony have said they developed technology for the highest recording areal density for tape storage media, resulting in approximately 330 TB uncompressed per cartridge.

On the lookout for advances in storage

Spectra Logic, in its “Digital Data Storage Outlook 2018” report released in June, said it projects much of the future zettabytes of data will “never be stored or will be retained for only a brief time.”

“Spectra’s projections show a small likelihood of a constrained supply of storage to meet the needs of the digital universe through 2026,” the report said. “Expected advances in storage technologies, however, need to occur during this timeframe. Lack of advances in a particular technology, such as magnetic disk, will necessitate greater use of other storage mediums such as flash and tape.”

While the report claims the use of tape for secondary storage has declined with backup moving to disk, the need for tape storage capacity in the long-term archive market is growing.

“Tape technology is well-suited for this space as it provides the benefits of low environmental footprint on both floor space and power; a high level of data integrity over a long period of time; and a much lower cost per gigabyte of storage than all other storage mediums,” the report said.

For Sale – Late 2013 iMac 27”

Hi, sorry for delay coming back to thread I didn’t see the notification until now.

Just 2 quick questions, is the keyboard wireless or wired?

Due to distance, I’d only be able to collect on a weekend ( my wife and eldest work most nights , and I’d rather not take my youngest on a 180 mile round trip if I can help it ) would the weekend after be any good? Or is that to long to wait for sale ( I understand if it is ) I assure you we won’t let you down or back out

Could you let me have the first part of your postcode so I can workout the distance from Gloucester, I’m thinking approx 90 each way

As you can see I need the Mac to help count as that was 3 questions lol

Thanks
Jason

Apple iOS 12 USB Restricted Mode to foil thieves, law enforcement

A security feature that had popped up in beta versions of Apple’s iOS software appears to be coming in earnest as part of iOS 12, and it will protect devices against anyone trying to unlock them via USB.

USB Restricted Mode is described in the iOS 12 settings as the option to enable or deny the ability to “unlock [an] iPhone to allow USB accessories to connect when it has been more than an hour since your iPhone was locked.” In practice, this means a device will require a passcode unlock in order to connect any Lightning-to-USB accessory after the one-hour time limit has passed.

Apple didn’t mention USB Restricted Mode during the keynote at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, but developers saw it in the iOS 12 preview, which was released that same day. The setting is on by default and covers any type of security on an iOS device — Touch ID, Face ID and passcode.

Experts noted USB Restricted Mode will protect users’ data if a device is stolen, but it will also deny law enforcement from using unlocking services from companies like GrayKey and Cellebrite — the latter of which was rumored to have helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino, Calif., shooter’s iPhone.

Earlier tests of USB Restricted Mode had allowed for a one-week time limit, spurring GrayKey to reportedly alert customers of this feature when it surfaced in the iOS 11.3 beta, according to internal email messages obtained by Motherboard. A one-hour time limit could effectively make it impossible for customers to get the device to a company like GrayKey in time to gain brute-force access.

Rusty Carter, vice president of product management at Arxan, based in San Francisco, said USB Restricted Mode “is really about increasing the security of the device.”

If the device is vulnerable to brute-force attacks via wired connection, other security features, like being able to wipe the device after 10 unsuccessful authentication attempts, are rendered useless.
Rusty Cartervice president of product management at Arxan

“If the device is vulnerable to brute-force attacks via wired connection, other security features, like being able to wipe the device after 10 unsuccessful authentication attempts, are rendered useless … they are effectively a false sense of security,” Carter wrote via email. “Effectively, any data is vulnerable, unless the individual app developer has done the right thing both to secure and encrypt user data and require more than stored credentials or identity to access the data with their app, which is rarely the case today.”

John Callahan, CTO of Veridium, based in Quincy, Mass., said, as a developer, his initial reaction to USB Restricted Mode was, “Great, now I’ll have to unlock the phone every time I go to debug a mobile app with Xcode.” But he later realized it could have protected a lot of stolen devices if it had been implemented in an earlier version of iOS.

“USB Restricted Mode in iOS 12 a big win for users, because we are keeping more personally identifiable information on our mobile devices, including healthcare, identification and biometric data. Our phones have become our digital wallets, and we expect a maximum level of privacy and convenience,” Callahan wrote via email. “Android devices, ironically seen as less secure, have long required unlocking when connected in USB Debug mode. In many ways, Apple is playing catch-up with respect to physical device security.”

For Sale – Late 2013 iMac 27”

Hi, sorry for delay coming back to thread I didn’t see the notification until now.

Just 2 quick questions, is the keyboard wireless or wired?

Due to distance, I’d only be able to collect on a weekend ( my wife and eldest work most nights , and I’d rather not take my youngest on a 180 mile round trip if I can help it ) would the weekend after be any good? Or is that to long to wait for sale ( I understand if it is ) I assure you we won’t let you down or back out

Could you let me have the first part of your postcode so I can workout the distance from Gloucester, I’m thinking approx 90 each way

As you can see I need the Mac to help count as that was 3 questions lol

Thanks
Jason

For Sale – Late 2013 iMac 27”

Hi, sorry for delay coming back to thread I didn’t see the notification until now.

Just 2 quick questions, is the keyboard wireless or wired?

Due to distance, I’d only be able to collect on a weekend ( my wife and eldest work most nights , and I’d rather not take my youngest on a 180 mile round trip if I can help it ) would the weekend after be any good? Or is that to long to wait for sale ( I understand if it is ) I assure you we won’t let you down or back out

Could you let me have the first part of your postcode so I can workout the distance from Gloucester, I’m thinking approx 90 each way

As you can see I need the Mac to help count as that was 3 questions lol

Thanks
Jason

For Sale – Late 2013 iMac 27”

Hi, sorry for delay coming back to thread I didn’t see the notification until now.

Just 2 quick questions, is the keyboard wireless or wired?

Due to distance, I’d only be able to collect on a weekend ( my wife and eldest work most nights , and I’d rather not take my youngest on a 180 mile round trip if I can help it ) would the weekend after be any good? Or is that to long to wait for sale ( I understand if it is ) I assure you we won’t let you down or back out

Could you let me have the first part of your postcode so I can workout the distance from Gloucester, I’m thinking approx 90 each way

As you can see I need the Mac to help count as that was 3 questions lol

Thanks
Jason

For Sale – Late 2013 iMac 27”

Hi, sorry for delay coming back to thread I didn’t see the notification until now.

Just 2 quick questions, is the keyboard wireless or wired?

Due to distance, I’d only be able to collect on a weekend ( my wife and eldest work most nights , and I’d rather not take my youngest on a 180 mile round trip if I can help it ) would the weekend after be any good? Or is that to long to wait for sale ( I understand if it is ) I assure you we won’t let you down or back out

Could you let me have the first part of your postcode so I can workout the distance from Gloucester, I’m thinking approx 90 each way

As you can see I need the Mac to help count as that was 3 questions lol

Thanks
Jason