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Microsoft and KKBOX Group launch global strategic partnership – Stories

TAIPEI — December 20, 2019 — Microsoft Taiwan and Asia’s leading media technology company, KKBOX Group, jointly announced today the launch of a global strategic partnership that will migrate the group’s subsidiary KKBOX’s music streaming services to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Additionally, KKBOX Group subsidiary KKStream has joined Microsoft’s global partner network to release BlendVision™, a next-generation commercial video streaming solution that will harness data and AI to effectively reduce operating costs of over-the-top (OTT) platform operators. Microsoft and KKBOX Group will also jointly use data and AI to optimize its music-creation system and explore new music-listening possibilities for consumers. This cooperation is a milestone for KKBOX Group’s internationalization initiative and opens up more possibilities for the digital entertainment industry.

“The media and entertainment industries are going through a transformation as studios, broadcasters and other rich media content creators, such as over-the-top (OTT) service providers, are facing pressure to innovate on how they deliver content to their audiences while getting smarter on using data to their advantage,” said Bob De Haven, general manager, Worldwide Media & Communications Industries, Microsoft. “KKBOX has been at the forefront of the entertainment industry in Asia, providing world-class entertainment to users and continuing to experiment and innovate with technology. We are thrilled that KKBOX has chosen Azure to provide the company with intelligent platforms that unlock creativity and collaboration, bring content to market faster and engage audiences.”

Serving the Asian market for over 15 years, KKBOX Group is now expanding globally. It integrates big data — including music, video, show ticketing and e-commerce — and leverages AI to provide users with better experiences and artists, creators, and concert organizers with business insights.

“KKBOX Group offers consumers a wide range of entertainment experiences in Asia,” said Co-founder and CEO Chris Lin. “We are pleased to partner with Microsoft to migrate KKBOX music to Azure, address streaming technology challenges by co-selling BlendVision globally, and develop AI music creation.”

Key initiatives of the partnership include:

  1. KKBOX music streaming service migrates to Microsoft Azure:

By partnering with Microsoft to fully migrate KKBOX music streaming services onto Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, KKBOX Group is meeting consumer demand for high-speed streaming services and highly differentiated entertainment experiences. The partnership will allow KKBOX to provide faster development, manage resource scheduling and flexibly adjust traffic to develop more meta services, aligned with the digital entertainment industry’s trend of accelerating digital services.

Microsoft Azure has more regions than any other cloud provider, with 55 datacenter regions, to offer the scale needed to deploy services and applications on demand to enterprises around the world. This coverage helps enterprises deploy services on demand. With high-standard information security, KKBOX can rapidly deploy innovative services to international markets while ensuring that data is protected by comprehensive security measures. Microsoft is committed to promoting enterprise digital transformation with front-end technology, assisting customers and partners in various industries to adopt AI and the cloud to optimize enterprise resource deployment and operation processes, and to expand their global business territories through joint sales plans. This strategic cooperation with KKBOX Group is a milestone for Microsoft in the digital entertainment industry.

  1. KKStream launches commercial video streaming technology solution — BlendVision:

BlendVision, launched by KKStream, is a next-generation commercial video streaming solution that empowers global streaming platform operators through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, reducing operating costs and improving user experiences while developing services that create new monetization models. BlendVision will launch “BlendVision Video Streaming” combined with “per-title encoding” (PTE) to effectively reduce operating costs of OTT platform operators by using AI to identify different bitrates for video compression and transcoding, greatly reducing transmission bandwidth and saving storage space.

An independently developed image enhancement technology called Perceptual Streaming Engine (PSE) will be added to enhance the visual performance of the original video and double the quality of low-resolution videos into high definition (HD) for optimal streaming image quality. These two technologies (PTE + PSE) together can further reduce platform operator transmission costs by 80% so users get the highest image quality with the lowest traffic. The cooperation between Microsoft and KKStream will be based on the SaaS model, with BlendVision’s service architecture built on Azure, helping to deliver new services to consumers. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s global sales and service teams will assist in implementation. Microsoft and KKBOX already foresee 10 potential customers in the Asian region, symbolizing proof of endless global business opportunities as a result of this strategic alliance.

  1. Both parties to jointly develop AI-enabled music production system for producers:

KKBOX will leverage Microsoft AI technology to build an AI-assisted music arrangement system and an AI-assisted lyric generator. In addition, the group will create a predictive model that uses data and AI to forecast the commercial success of a song. KKBOX and Microsoft believe that the digital entertainment industry is facing a transformation and must use technology to make content faster and smoother for users and to use a data-driven approach to create personalized services. AI will become the most important advancement in this transformation. KKBOX is one of the world’s earliest legal music streaming platforms, providing services since 2005. It has successfully changed consumer listening behavior, and the music industry’s business model is changing accordingly. KKBOX Group and Microsoft aim to leverage AI to explore new opportunities, create new trends and transform the entertainment market.

About KKBOX

For more information on KKBOX, visit: https://www.kkbox.com/about/zh-tw

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Media contacts

MSFT contact:
[email protected]

KKBOX contact:
KKBOX Public Relations [email protected]

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Vendor 3PM uses AI and analytics to prevent Black Friday fraud

The months and weeks leading up to Black Friday, one of the most hectic shopping days of the year, keeps e-commerce intelligence vendor 3PM Solutions busy.

“This is a very important time,” said Rob Dunkel, CEO of 3PM.

More people buy products and more retailers and individuals sell products online on Black Friday than on any other day, and the number of counterfeit products listed for sale skyrockets, Dunkel said. Chicago-based 3PM, with its platform built to collect, change and then analyze unstructured data, identifies potentially counterfeit products for its e-commerce clients so they can crack down on Black Friday fraud.

Founded in 2013, 3PM sells software that automatically combs through products and reviews to give its e-commerce clients a better snapshot of what customers are purchasing and why, as well as to protect brands and identify and take down counterfeit or misrepresented items.

The 3PM platform automatically scrapes public data off e-commerce websites, such as Amazon and eBay, Dunkel explained. Data includes customer reviews, product images and descriptions, and buyer and seller information.

No APIs are used, he said — instead, the platform collects data as it appears on e-commerce dealers’ websites using machine learning and natural language processing. The collected data is then brought into the platform and structured for its clients, some of which include major e-commerce players.

The process is continuous and encompasses billions of online product listings.

Google AI

Black Friday fraud, shopping
AI and analytics help prevent online shopping fraud on Black Friday and all year

The vendor uses a host of Google Cloud products to support its platform. A few years ago, 3PM left AWS for the Google Cloud Platform, after seeing the capabilities of Google Cloud Bigtable, a scalable, fully managed NoSQL database.

The database product was in beta testing then, Dunkel said. But, with its ability to handle huge workloads, it seemed perfect for 3PM.

Also, Dunkel said, 3PM was drawn to Google for its machine learning and AI products and tools available on the cloud.

Google Cloud Vision AI, alongside Google Cloud TPU, gives 3PM the ability to automatically classify and match images, for example.

“We’re heavy users of Google AI,” Dunkel said.

Preventing Black Friday fraud

Analyzing products in search of counterfeits is particularly important around Black Friday. Due to the sudden, massive increase in buyers and sellers during this holiday period, Black Friday fraud is common.

Using its platform, 3PM can identify fraudulent products for its clients and partners generally within four hours, Dunkel claimed. He offered an example.

Game of Thrones: Season 8 comes out on DVD and Blu-ray soon. Given the popularity of the show, and the expected demand for the season, it’s inevitable that some sellers will purposely mislist similar products to make them appear to be Season 8, to trick potential buyers. They could, for example, use clever descriptors or images to pass off a poster of Season 8 for the DVD.

So, said Dunkel, “We’ve been able to train the system to understand each title” of the different products, to automatically identify from the title what the product is.

We’re able to build and train our models to understand what is good and what is not.
Rob DunkelCEO, 3PM Solutions

Moreover, the platform can identify and compare a product listing’s image to a known image of the product, and scan for discrepancies using image recognition. Models can also read the descriptors and listing categories and compare them with other listings or with what the category is known to be. In the case of the Game of Thrones: Season 8, a category might be DVD. If the product lists as something else, 3PM issues a warning.

“We’re able to build and train our models to understand what is good and what is not,” Dunkel said.

The platform can also analyze product reviews. On certain e-commerce sites, third-party sellers can change their listings. They may have listed a specific product that racked up many positive reviews, but later changed the listing to a completely different product. Yet, the reviews stayed.

At first glance, then, the product seems to have high reviews. By reading through the reviews, it may become clear that the positive reviews were meant for a different product altogether. The 3PM platform can automatically read through reviews, and comb through the history of the listing, to detect that, Dunkel said.

While most Black Friday sellers are honest, Dunkel emphasized the importance of watching for Black Friday fraud.

“With Black Friday, with all the people shopping, consumers need to be more diligent,” he said. “Consumers need to take more steps to make sure they are buying an authentic product.”

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Press Release | Cubic Telecom

Cubic Telecom, a leading connectivity management software provider for the automotive and IoT industries, today announced ahead of next week’s Mobile World Congress event that it is collaborating with Microsoft on its Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform (MCVP). Cubic Telecom will be the first seamless connectivity provider as a core service offering to MCVP for a global market. MCVP is a set of services built on Microsoft Azure designed to empower the automotive industry to create customer connected driving experiences.

Cubic Telecom’s core network spans more than 180 countries and over 65 mobile operator partnerships, with over 2M drivers already using Cubic’s connected car solution. This gives MCVP the power to create and deliver global scalability with local connectivity to automotive manufacturers. Through Cubic Telecom’s advanced eSIM technology, applications and technologies will be embedded into vehicles at the manufacturing stage, enabling simple logistics, Over-The-Air software updates, and giving automakers the power to collect data on cars’ performance.

Barry Napier, Cubic Telecom CEO said, “As global car manufacturers undertake to digitally transform their businesses, they are fuelled not just to achieve improved economies of scale, but rather to meet the scalability requirements for application processing, performance, storage, security and software updates. Our PACE Platform continuously demonstrates the ability to scale open interfaces and flexible workflow operations.”

“We are delighted to extend further our collaboration with Microsoft into the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Program Team. The collaboration between Cubic PACE, MCVP and Volkswagen is a prime example of digital innovation and we are proud to be chosen as the first global connectivity provider for MCVP.”

To enable a connected car is a complicated process for automakers and Microsoft sought to simplify this through a flexible and collaborative ecosystem. With MCVP the automotive manufacturer will enjoy the freedom to choose the vendors they wish to work with through Cubic’s PACE Platform. Cubic will provide global connectivity, with potential to include value-added services in the future.

Volkswagen is using Azure and MCVP for its Volkswagen Automotive Cloud, and Cubic on Azure for the connectivity solution. “We welcome the ecosystem coming together to provide a seamless solution for customers”, said Heiko Huettel, Volkswagen Automotive Cloud at Volkswagen.

Tara Prakriya, Partner Group Program Manager of MCVP and Mobility at Microsoft, said, “The automotive industry is experiencing a transformational period and connectivity will have an increased role to play in the future of driving. The Microsoft Connected Vehicle Program consists of a set of services that enable automotive manufacturers build global scalable connected vehicle solutions and deliver unique digital experiences for their customers.”

Prakriya added, “We chose Cubic Telecom as the first global connectivity provider for MCVP as it has a proven track-record in the automotive marketplace. With Cubic’s proven and scaled connected services, hosted on Microsoft Azure, we look forward to bringing the MCVP solution to market together at pace and discovering more possibilities for technological innovations.”

MCVP will power next-generation, connected vehicles with advanced navigation, predictive maintenance, remote monitoring of car features and more.

About Cubic

Cubic Telecom is a global connectivity platform company that offers mobility solutions that power connectivity for leading Internet of things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M) and mobile device companies across the globe.

An expert in Connected Intelligence, Cubic Telecom enables global scalability with local connectivity anytime, anywhere. Cubic provides connectivity in over 100 countries; the most robust network, device and retail partnerships worldwide; and flexible over-the-air (OTA) device management for clients and partners.

Cubic creates connectivity where there was none before, with a belief in the future of things: a future where everything is connected. Cubic’s vision of interconnectivity will improve lives, and make the world a more interesting and intelligent place to be. Clients which also believe in this work include Audi, Panasonic, Volkswagen, Woolworths and Rakuten.

Based in Dublin Ireland, Cubic Telecom’s partners and customers include some of the world’s leading Fortune 100 tablet and notebook manufacturers, retailers, and M2M and automotive companies. The company is privately held with over €75 million in funding by Audi Electronics Venture GmbH, Qualcomm, Valid, Enterprise Ireland and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, among others.

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Author: Caitlin Karpinski

Chief transformation officer takes digital one step further

There’s a new player on the block when it comes to the team leading digital efforts within a healthcare organization.

Peter Fleischut, M.D., has spent the last two years leading telemedicine, robotics and robotic process automation and artificial intelligence efforts at New York-Presbyterian as its chief transformation officer, a relatively new title that is beginning to take form right alongside the chief digital officer.

Fleischut works as part of the organization’s innovation team under New York-Presbyterian CIO Daniel Barchi. Formerly the chief innovation officer for New York-Presbyterian, Fleischut described his role as improving care delivery and providing a better digital experience.

“I feel like we’re past the age of innovating. Now it’s really about transforming our care model,” he said.

What is a chief transformation officer?

The chief transformation officer is “larger than a technology or digital role alone,” according to Barchi.

Indeed, Laura Craft, analyst at Gartner, said she’s seeing healthcare organizations use the title more frequently to indicate a wider scope than, say, the chief digital officer.

The chief digital officer, a title that emerged more than five years ago, is often described as taking an organization from analog to digital. The digital officer role is still making inroads in healthcare today. Kaiser Permanente recently named Prat Vemana as its first chief digital officer for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. In the newly created role, Vemana is tasked with leading Kaiser Permanente’s digital strategy in collaboration with internal health plan and hospital teams, according to a news release.

A chief transformation officer, however, often focuses not just on digital but also emerging tech, such as AI, to reimagine how an organization does business.

“It has a real imperative to change the way [healthcare] is operating and doing business, and healthcare organizations are struggling with that,” Craft said. 

Barchi, who has been CIO at New York-Presbyterian for four years, said the role of chief transformation officer was developed by the nonprofit academic medical center to “take technology to the next level” and scale some of the digital programs it had started. The organization sought to improve not only back office functions but to advance the way it operates digitally when it comes to the patient experience, from hospital check-in to check-out.

I feel like we’re past the age of innovating. Now it’s really about transforming our care model.
Peter Fleischut, M.D.Chief transformation officer, New York-Presbyterian

Fleischut was selected for the role due to his background as a clinician, as well as the organization’s former chief innovation officer. He has been in the role for two years and is charged with further developing and scaling New York-Presbyterian’s AI, robotics and telemedicine programs.

The organization, which has four major divisions and is comprised of 10 hospitals, deeply invested in its telemedicine efforts and built a suite of services about four years ago. In 2016, it completed roughly 1,000 synchronous video visits between providers and patients. Now, the organization expects to complete between 500,000 and 1,000,000 video visits by the end of 2019, Fleischut said during his talk at the recent mHealth & Telehealth World Summit in Boston.

One of the areas where New York-Presbyterian expanded its telemedicine services under Fleischut’s lead was in emergency rooms, offering low-acuity patients the option of seeing a doctor virtually instead of in-person, which shortened patient discharge times from an average baseline of two and a half hours to 31 minutes.

The healthcare organization has also expanded its telemedicine services to kiosks set up in local Walgreens, and has a mobile stroke unit operating out of three ambulances. Stroke victims are treated in the ambulance virtually by an on-call neurologist.  

“At the end of the day with innovation and transformation, it’s all about speed, it’s all about time, and that’s what this is about,” Fleischut said. “How to leverage telemedicine to provide faster, quicker, better care to our patients.”

Transforming care delivery, hospital operations  

Telemedicine is one example of how New York-Presbyterian is transforming the way it interacts with patients. Indeed, that’s one of Fleischut’s main goals — to streamline the patient experience digitally through tools like telemedicine, Barchi said.

“The way you reach patients is using technology to be part of their lives,” Barchi said. “So Pete, in his role, is really important because we wanted someone focused on that patient experience and using things like telemedicine to make the patient journey seamless.” 

But for Fleischut to build a better patient experience, he also has to transform the way the hospital operates digitally, another one of his major goals.

As an academic medical center, Barchi said the organization invests significantly in advanced, innovative technology, including robotics. Barchi said he works with one large budget to fund innovation, information security and electronic medical records.

One hospital operation Fleischut worked to automate using robotics was food delivery. Instead of having hospital employees deliver meals to patients, New York-Presbyterian now uses large robots loaded with food trays that are programmed to deliver patient meals.

Fleischut’s work, Barchi said, will continue to focus on innovative technologies transforming the way New York-Presbyterian operates and delivers care.

“Pete’s skills from being a physician with years of experience, as well as his knowledge of technology, allow him to be truly transformative,” Barchi said.

In his role as chief transformation officer, Fleischut said he considers people and processes the most important part of the transformation journey. Without having the right processes in place for changing care delivery and without provider buy-in, the effort will not be a success, he said.

“Focusing on the people and the process leads to greater adoption of technologies that, frankly, have been beneficial in other industries,” he said.

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National Oilwell Varco selects Microsoft Dynamics 365 to enhance sales and service operations | Stories

REDMOND, Wash. — July 18, 2018 — On Wednesday, National Oilwell Varco, a leading provider of technology, equipment and services to the global oil and gas industry, and Microsoft Corp. announced an agreement to collaborate on digitally enhancing NOV’s sales platform and field service operations to deliver premier experiences, including project management and drilling operations, to the oil and gas industry.

As oil and gas producers continue to push to optimize productivity and minimize downtime, NOV is leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 to streamline business processes, access real-time data and insights, and revolutionize field service operations with a digital, mobile-first approach. With Microsoft cloud-powered solutions, NOV is enriching legacy systems and processes to drive consistency and visibility across platforms. The goal is to increase revenue generation while reducing revenue leakage and improve service margins through greater efficiencies, higher levels of customer satisfaction, and better retention rates. Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 is enabling employees across NOV’s departments to be more adaptable, reliable and efficient.

“At NOV, we’re passionate about delivering the highest level of customer service,” said Clay Williams, chairman, president, and CEO. “Field service is the link between our customers and manufacturing, and with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power BI, we’re able to better understand our customers’ needs, identify the appropriate resources for each task, and effectively address the issue, creating a seamless experience.”

Microsoft Dynamics 365 unifies customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning solutions, allowing NOV’s sales and commercial teams to effectively identify and capture field service opportunities and service managers to better allocate jobs and resources. Field technicians can also access detailed job descriptions complete with customer information, service needs, and the equipment necessary to accurately and efficiently complete the task.

“NOV continues to invest in state-of-the-art technology and innovations to support the goal of delivering premier customer service,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president, Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft. “Today, NOV is doubling down on its commitment to customers with Microsoft’s intelligent cloud and business applications by enabling customer- and data-driven insights and actions.”

About NOV

National Oilwell Varco, Inc. (NYSE: NOV) is a leading provider of technology, equipment, and services to the global oil and gas industry. NOV has been pioneering innovations that improve the cost-effectiveness, efficiency, safety, and environmental impact of oil and gas operations since 1862. The depth and breadth of NOV’s offerings support customers’ full-field, drilling, completion, and production needs. NOV powers the industry that powers the world. Visit www.nov.com for more information.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

National Oilwell Varco selects Microsoft Dynamics 365 to enhance sales and service operations | Stories

REDMOND, Wash. — July 18, 2018 — On Wednesday, National Oilwell Varco, a leading provider of technology, equipment and services to the global oil and gas industry, and Microsoft Corp. announced an agreement to collaborate on digitally enhancing NOV’s sales platform and field service operations to deliver premier experiences, including project management and drilling operations, to the oil and gas industry.

As oil and gas producers continue to push to optimize productivity and minimize downtime, NOV is leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 to streamline business processes, access real-time data and insights, and revolutionize field service operations with a digital, mobile-first approach. With Microsoft cloud-powered solutions, NOV is enriching legacy systems and processes to drive consistency and visibility across platforms. The goal is to increase revenue generation while reducing revenue leakage and improve service margins through greater efficiencies, higher levels of customer satisfaction, and better retention rates. Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 is enabling employees across NOV’s departments to be more adaptable, reliable and efficient.

“At NOV, we’re passionate about delivering the highest level of customer service,” said Clay Williams, chairman, president, and CEO. “Field service is the link between our customers and manufacturing, and with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power BI, we’re able to better understand our customers’ needs, identify the appropriate resources for each task, and effectively address the issue, creating a seamless experience.”

Microsoft Dynamics 365 unifies customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning solutions, allowing NOV’s sales and commercial teams to effectively identify and capture field service opportunities and service managers to better allocate jobs and resources. Field technicians can also access detailed job descriptions complete with customer information, service needs, and the equipment necessary to accurately and efficiently complete the task.

“NOV continues to invest in state-of-the-art technology and innovations to support the goal of delivering premier customer service,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president, Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft. “Today, NOV is doubling down on its commitment to customers with Microsoft’s intelligent cloud and business applications by enabling customer- and data-driven insights and actions.”

About NOV

National Oilwell Varco, Inc. (NYSE: NOV) is a leading provider of technology, equipment, and services to the global oil and gas industry. NOV has been pioneering innovations that improve the cost-effectiveness, efficiency, safety, and environmental impact of oil and gas operations since 1862. The depth and breadth of NOV’s offerings support customers’ full-field, drilling, completion, and production needs. NOV powers the industry that powers the world. Visit www.nov.com for more information.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

Microsoft + GitHub = Empowering Developers – The Official Microsoft Blog

Today, we announced an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform. I want to share what this acquisition will mean for our industry and for developers.

The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us. Computing is becoming embedded in the world, with every part of our daily life and work and every aspect of our society and economy being transformed by digital technology.

Developers are the builders of this new era, writing the world’s code. And GitHub is their home.

As every industry – from precision medicine to precision agriculture, from personalized education to personalized banking – is being impacted by technology, the developer community will only grow in numbers and importance. Developer workflows will drive and influence business processes and functions across the organization – from marketing, sales and service, to IT and HR. And value creation and growth across every industry will increasingly be determined by the choices developers make.

In short, developers will be at the center of solving the world’s most pressing challenges. However, the real power comes when every developer can create together, collaborate, share code and build on each other’s work. In all walks of life, we see the power of communities, and this is true for software development and developers.

That is why we are so excited about today’s announcement. More than 28 million developers already collaborate on GitHub, and it is home to more than 85 million code repositories used by people in nearly every country. From the largest corporations to the smallest startups, GitHub is the destination for developers to learn, share and work together to create software. It’s a destination for Microsoft too. We are the most active organization on GitHub, with more than 2 million “commits,” or updates, made to projects.

Microsoft has been a developer-focused company from the very first product we created to the platforms and tools we offer today. Building technology so that others can build technology is core to our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Chris Wanstrath (left), Github CEO and co-founder; Nat Friedman, Microsoft corporate vice president, Developer Services; Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO; and Amy Hood, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer.

Microsoft is also committed to empowering communities, from the world’s professionals to IT professionals to gamers. We believe in the power of communities to achieve much more than what their members can do on their own. It’s our ability to work together that helps our dreams become reality, and we are dedicated to cultivating and growing communities to do just that.

And Microsoft is all-in on open source. We have been on a journey with open source, and today we are active in the open source ecosystem, we contribute to open source projects, and some of our most vibrant developer tools and frameworks are open source. When it comes to our commitment to open source, judge us by the actions we have taken in the recent past, our actions today, and in the future.

Given all of this, together with GitHub, we see three clear opportunities ahead.

First, we will empower developers at every stage of the development lifecycle – from ideation to collaboration to deployment to the cloud. Going forward, GitHub will remain an open platform, which any developer can plug into and extend. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects – and will still be able to deploy their code on any cloud and any device.

Second, we will accelerate enterprise developers’ use of GitHub, with our direct sales and partner channels and access to Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure and services.

Finally, we will bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences.

Most importantly, we recognize the responsibility we take on with this agreement. We are committed to being stewards of the GitHub community, which will retain its developer-first ethos, operate independently and remain an open platform. We will always listen to developer feedback and invest in both fundamentals and new capabilities.

Once the acquisition closes later this year, GitHub will be led by CEO Nat Friedman, an open source veteran and founder of Xamarin, who will continue to report to Microsoft Cloud + AI Group Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie; GitHub CEO and Co-Founder Chris Wanstrath will be a technical fellow at Microsoft, also reporting to Scott. You can see how Chris, Nat and I envision the opportunity ahead in this public presentation.

Together we will continue to advance GitHub as a platform loved by developers and trusted by organizations.

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Columbia Sportswear activates Microsoft Cloud to strengthen consumer engagement | Stories

PORTLAND, Ore., and REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 30, 2018 — Columbia Sportswear Co. (Nasdaq: “COLM”), a leading innovator in the active outdoor apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment industries, and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: “MSFT”) have announced plans to collaborate on enhancing Columbia Sportswear’s global consumer experience and drive its digital transformation using intelligent cloud technology.

As consumers continue to change the way they engage with brands, Columbia Sportswear is working to deliver a more personalized, seamless experience to those consumers by leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Azure cloud platform for its retail, call center, customer relationship management and merchandising operations. With a single, holistic view of its consumer and improved omnichannel capabilities, Columbia Sportswear will be able to personalize engagement at every touchpoint by providing employees with enhanced digital tools and information across its global customer relationship management database. Columbia Sportswear also intends to use Dynamics 365 and Azure to gain greater consumer insights and business intelligence through every consumer interaction, whether through its wholesale businesses, brick-and-mortar retail stores, ecommerce experiences or mobile channels.

“At Columbia, we have a long history of leveraging innovative technologies to help connect active people with their passions,” said Michael Hirt, chief information officer at Columbia Sportswear. “This practice extends not just to our products, but across every aspect of our business. Through our collaboration with Microsoft, we’re implementing intelligent cloud technology to streamline our global operations and provide additional flexibility and convenience to our consumers.”

In addition, Columbia Sportswear will be able to manage merchandise globally and streamline operations with increased efficiency, providing the ability to garner valuable insights and improved business intelligence through customized reporting and analytics. Columbia Sportswear is implementing these innovations through Microsoft’s flexible, agile development platform, Visual Studio Team Services, and creating revolutionary data platforms at scale with Azure data services and integration platforms.

“Established in 1938, Columbia Sportswear is setting itself up to be an industry leader for another 80 years,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president, Worldwide Commercial Business, Microsoft. “Columbia Sportswear will leverage Microsoft’s intelligent cloud to connect data, people and processes globally to deliver personalized shopping experiences for its customers.”

About Columbia Sportswear Company

Columbia Sportswear Company has assembled a portfolio of brands for active lives, making it a leader in the global active lifestyle apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment industry. Founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, the company’s brands are today sold in approximately 90 countries. In addition to the Columbia® brand, Columbia Sportswear Company also owns the Mountain Hardwear®, SOREL®, prAna® brands. To learn more, please visit the company’s website at www.columbia.com, www.mountainhardwear.com, www.sorel.com, www.prana.com.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:
Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Columbia Sportswear Corporate Communications, Sara Bradshaw, (503) 985-4089, s[email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

Return of Bleichenbacher: ROBOT attack means trouble for TLS

A team of security researchers discovered eight leading vendors and open source projects whose implementations of the Transport Layer Security protocol are vulnerable to the Bleichenbacher oracle attack, a well-known flaw that was first described in 1998.

The Bleichenbacher attack has been referenced in all IETF specifications for the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol since version 1.0 in 1999, and implementers of TLS versions through 1.2 were warned to take steps to avoid the Bleichenbacher attack. However, the researchers noted that, based on the ease with which they were able to exploit the vulnerability, it appears that many implementers ignored the warnings.

The attack is named after its discoverer, Daniel Bleichenbacher, a Swiss cryptographer who was working for Bell Laboratories in 1998 when his research on the vulnerability was first published. The TLS protocol, which was meant to replace the Secure Sockets Layer, is widely used for encryption and the authentication of web servers.

The research team  included Hanno Bock, information security researcher; Juraj Somorovsky, research associate at the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany; and Craig Young, , computer security researcher with Tripwire’s Vulnerability and Exposures Research Team (VERT). “Perhaps the most surprising fact about our research is that it was very straightforward,” the researchers wrote. “We took a very old and widely known attack and were able to perform it with very minor modifications on current implementations. One might assume that vendors test their TLS stacks for known vulnerabilities. However, as our research shows in the case of Bleichenbacher attacks, several vendors have not done this.”

The researchers said many web hosts are still vulnerable to the ROBOT attack and that nearly a third of the top 100 sites in the Alexa Top 1 Million list are vulnerable. The team identified vulnerable products from F5, Citrix, Radware, Cisco, Erlang, and others, and “demonstrated practical exploitation by signing a message with the private key of facebook.com’s HTTPS certificate.”

The researchers described their work as the “Return Of Bleichenbacher’s Oracle Threat” (ROBOT) and published it in a paper of the same title, as well as on a branded vulnerability website. The team also published a capture the flag contest, posting an encrypted message and challenging the public to decrypt the message using the strategies described in the paper.

TLS protocol designers at fault

The researchers placed the blame for the ease of their exploits squarely on the shoulders of TLS protocol designers. The ROBOT attack is made possible by the behavior of servers implementing TLS using the RSA Public-Key Cryptography Standards (PKCS) #1 v1.5 specification; the issues that enable the Bleichenbacher attack are fixed in later versions of PKCS. TLS 1.3, which is expected to be finalized soon, deprecates the use of PKCS #1 v1.5 and specifies use of PKCS #1 v2.2.

The TLS protocol designers absolutely should have been more proactive about replacing PKCS#1 v1.5.
Craig Youngcomputer security researcher, Tripwire VERT

“The TLS protocol designers absolutely should have been more proactive about replacing PKCS#1 v1.5. There is an unfortunate trend in TLS protocol design to continue using technology after it should have been deprecated,” Young told SearchSecurity by email. He added that vendors also “should have been having their code audited by firms who specialize in breaking cryptography since most software companies do not have in-house expertise for doing so.”

TLS as currently deployed ignores improperly formatted data, and as described in 1999 in RFC 2246. “The TLS Protocol Version 1.0,” the original specification for TLS 1.0, the ROBOT attack “takes advantage of the fact that by failing in different ways, a TLS server can be coerced into revealing whether a particular message, when decrypted, is properly PKCS #1 formatted or not,” the RFC 2246 document states.

The solution proposed in that specification for avoiding “vulnerability to this attack is to treat incorrectly formatted messages in a manner indistinguishable from correctly formatted RSA blocks. Thus, when it receives an incorrectly formatted RSA block, a server should generate a random 48-byte value and proceed using it as the premaster secret. Thus, the server will act identically whether the received RSA block is correctly encoded or not.”

Potential for attacks, detection and remediation

The researchers noted in the paper that the ROBOT flaw could lead to very serious attacks. “For hosts that are vulnerable and only support RSA encryption key exchanges it’s pretty bad. It means an attacker can passively record traffic and later decrypt it,” the team wrote on the ROBOT website, adding that “For hosts that usually use forward secrecy, but still support a vulnerable RSA encryption key exchange the risk depends on how fast an attacker is able to perform the attack. We believe that a server impersonation or man in the middle attack is possible, but it is more challenging.”

Young said that it might be possible to detect attempts to abuse the Bleichenbacher vulnerability, but it would not be easy. “This attack definitely triggers identifiable traffic patterns. Servers would observe a high volume of failed connections as well as a smaller number of connections with successful handshakes and then little to no data on the connection,” he told SearchSecurity. “Unfortunately, I am unaware of anybody actually doing this. Logging the information needed to detect this can be cumbersome and for a site receiving a billion connections a second, it could be quite difficult to notice 10-100 thousand failed connections.”

As for other, ongoing risks, Young said that while “PKCS#1 v1.5 is not being used in TLS 1.3 but it is still used in other systems like XML encryption. Whether or not it can be disabled through configuration is highly application specific.”