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IMT Software cracks open SoDA data management

Integrated Media Technologies Inc. popped open a SoDA with the launch of its new software division.

SoDA, which stands for Software-Defined Archiver, is a data management and movement application for unstructured data. It can move data between SMB and NFS files and S3 object storage, either by set policy or on-demand. SoDA also has filtering capabilities to help find the data that needs to be moved. The tool also has insight and reporting capabilities so that a system administrator knows the speed and cost of the data movement before it happens. Although designed to optimize the cost of moving data between on-premises and cloud storage, SoDA can move data from one NAS to another NAS as well.

Integrated Media Technologies (IMT) sells SoDA as SaaS, with a monthly subscription that includes unlimited data transfer.

IMT’s core business is as a managed service provider (MSP) for media and entertainment companies, specializing in consulting, backup and recovery, security and archiving. The company was founded in 2007 and has over 800 customers, and according to IMT president Jason Kranitz, it sold over half an exabyte of storage systems last year. IMT launched a new software development division, called IMT Software, and SoDA is its first product.

Kranitz said SoDA had been in development for two years prior to launch. He said he noticed a need for an intelligent data mover as customers started using the cloud more. That need has only grown over time and has reached a boiling point because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are moving to the cloud faster than ever because of COVID-19,” Kranitz said.

IMT Software is solely focused on SoDA for now, Kranitz said, as there are already demands for more capabilities. SoDA currently works with AWS, with Azure and Google Cloud integration on the immediate roadmap, followed by other public clouds and private cloud vendors. Kranitz added he is also receiving customer requests for multisite and multi-cloud support, as well as for tying in AI capabilities.

Scott Sinclair, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said unstructured data growth is especially prevalent in media and entertainment, which is IMT’s core business. Sinclair described the entertainment industry as a business model where the creation of the data — the gathering of the raw footage — and the transformation of that data into the final product often happen at different places. Not only is remote work up significantly, but movie theaters have closed due to COVID-19, increasing a desire to consume media at home. This change in how the final product is distributed to consumers is an additional challenge for the media industry.

“This is an industry where demand has increased, but the operations to create content have become more difficult,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair said there are similar products to SoDA for categorizing unstructured data and moving it intelligently across a heterogeneous environment, from vendors such as Data Dynamics, Aparavi and Igneous Systems. He said one of the ways SoDA stands out is that it removes egress charges for customers by wrapping it into its subscription fee.

Sinclair said the biggest problem with unstructured data growth is it’s something businesses tend not to address until it reaches a breaking point. Not enough companies prioritize it in their budgets because the traditional solution was to throw hardware at it. Improperly managed data can lead to longer and unnecessary backups, wasted high-performance storage for infrequently used data and other inefficiencies. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to pinpoint when the cost of not having data management tools becomes higher than investing in those tools.

“It’s a problem every company runs into when they reach a certain scale,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair said the best ways for a new product in this market to flourish would be to focus on a specific vertical and remain as hardware-, software- and cloud-agnostic as possible. One of the ways SoDA can carve out its niche is by becoming the perfect unstructured data management tool for media and entertainment, because those needs are likely different for genomics or healthcare.

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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.”