Tag Archives: reported

Windows 7 sunset gives PC market a boost in 2019

Analysts reported this month that the global PC market did something in 2019 it had not accomplished in seven years: It grew.

The figures differ as to how much — IDC reported a 2.7% year-over-year growth in global shipments, while Gartner cited a 0.6% increase — but experts agree that the Windows 7 sunset helped to prompt a hardware refresh for the enterprise. Per Gartner, Lenovo, HP and Dell shipped the most PCs in 2019, seeing growth of 8%, 3% and 5%, respectively.

Whether the boost in growth will be a one-year blip is debatable, but there is consensus that, for the enterprise at least, the PC is here to stay.

Windows 7 sunset gives PCs a boost

Linn Huang, research vice president at IDC, attributed the increase to a confluence of factors. Companies found themselves in a unique position of having to migrate to a new OS amid the growing tensions of a trade war with China, where PC components are commonly manufactured.

“For starters, the January 2020 [end of support] of Windows 7 means businesses — large and small alike — [were] either completing or accelerating their Windows 10 migrations,” he said.

Huang also mentioned shortages and tariff issues may have affected the market as well. Intel faced CPU supply issues that eased during the course of 2019 and, in December, President Trump tweeted that “penalty tariffs” would “not be charged,” thanks to a new agreement with China.

Linn Huang, research vice president at IDCLinn Huang

Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at Gartner, said the shipment boost was not because of any renewed interest in using the PC, but almost solely because of the Windows 7 sunset, which occurred Jan. 14.

Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at GartnerMikako Kitagawa

Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt acknowledged the effect of the Windows 7 sunset, but said it was only part of the story.

“I also believe that the PC is becoming more important as organizations try to improve employee experience,” he said. “We know from research that if people can’t make progress every day at work, they’re vulnerable to burnout and can contribute to higher attrition. The PC sits at the heart of productivity, so organizations see it as an important driver of [employee experience].”

Yev Pusin, director of strategy at data storage firm Backblaze, said the business’ clients — especially on the enterprise side — indeed had a need for something that could contribute more to productivity than a smartphone or tablet.

“I think a lot more folks … realized that, for the multi-tasking and flexibility they want, they need an actual computer — a Mac or PC,” he said.

Will PC market growth continue?

Kitagawa expects to see shipments dip in 2020 and 2021 due to a weak consumer market, as the smartphone has largely subsumed the PC’s role in daily life. Smartphones have made inroads in the enterprise as well, especially among younger workers.

Andrew Hewitt, analyst, Forrester ResearchAndrew Hewitt

“People used to carry a laptop or tablet to do work. Now, smartphone screens are bigger, so they are able to handle some tasks as well,” she said. “On the mentality side, many young people feel their smartphone is their primary work device.”

This is not to say that the PC will be disappearing from the workspace anytime soon.

Yev Pusin, director of strategy at Backblaze Yev Pusin

“It’s not the case that the PC is going away,” Kitagawa said. “The PC is a very important business tool.”

Huang likewise expected a decline of PC sales in the next couple of years but said a shift in the market might accompany that trend.

“Consumers and commercial users alike are demanding better and better with each generation,” he said. “Consequently, we expect to ship fewer PCs [in] 2020 and beyond, but the market will continue to churn toward more premium ends.”

Pusin said he did see a continued appetite for PCs in the future but agreed that customers interested in buying computers might focus on the higher end of performance.

According to Hewitt, the PC will retain its central place in the business world, although the form factor may differ.

“Our research actually shows that 30% of the most important factors for improving employee experience are technology-related, and the PC is a big part of that,” he said.

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Top Office 365 MFA considerations for administrators

With the rise in data breach incidents reported by companies of all sizes, it doesn’t take much effort to find a cache of leaked passwords that can be used to gain unauthorized access to email or another online service.

Administrators can make users produce complex passwords and change them frequently to ensure they set a different password for different applications or systems. It’s a helpful way to keep hackers from guessing a login, but it’s a practice that can backfire. Many users struggle with memorizing password variations, which tends to lead to one complex password used across multiple systems. Industrious hackers who find a password dump can assume some end users will use the same password — or a variation of it — across multiple workloads online to make it easier to pry their way into other systems.

IT departments in the enterprise realize that unless they implement specific password policies and enforce them, their systems may be at risk of a hack attempt. To mitigate these risks, many administrators will try multifactor authentication (MFA) products to address some of the identity concerns. MFA is the technology that adds another layer of authentication after users enter their password to confirm their identity, such as a biometric verification or a code sent via text to their phone. An organization that has moved its collaboration workloads to Microsoft’s cloud has a few Office 365 MFA options.

When considering an MFA product, IT administrators must consider several key areas, especially when some of the services they may subscribe to, such as Microsoft Azure and Office 365, include MFA functionality from Microsoft. Depending on the level of functionality needed and services covered by MFA, IT administrators might consider selecting a third-party vendor, even when that choice will require more configuration work with Active Directory and cloud services. IT workers unfamiliar with MFA technology can look over the following areas to help with the selection process.

When considering the purchase of an MFA product, IT administrators must consider several key areas, especially when some of the services they may subscribe to, such as Microsoft Azure and Office 365, include MFA functionality from Microsoft.

Choosing the right authentication options for end users

IT administrators must investigate what will work best for their end users because there are several options to choose from when it comes to MFA. Some products use phone calls for confirmation, code via text messaging, key fobs, an authenticator app and even facial recognition. Depending on what the consensus is in the organization, the IT decision-makers have to work through the evaluation process to make sure the vendor supports the option they want.

Identifying which MFA product supports cloud workloads

More organizations have adopted some cloud service, such as Office 365, Azure, AWS and other public clouds. The MFA product must adapt to the needs of the organization as it adds more cloud services. While Microsoft offers its own MFA technology that works with Office 365, other vendors such as Duo Security — owned by Cisco — and Okta support Office 365 MFA for companies that want to use a third-party product.

Potential problems that can affect Office 365 MFA users

Using Office 365 MFA helps improve security, but there is potential for trouble that blocks access for end users. This can happen when a phone used for SMS confirmation breaks or is out of the user’s possession. Users might not gain access to the system or the services they need until they recover their device or change their MFA configuration.

Another possible problem to the authentication process can happen on the other end if the MFA product goes down and blocks access for everyone who has enabled MFA. These probabilities require IT to discuss and plan before implementing Office 365 MFA for the appropriate steps to be taken if these issues arise.

Evaluate the overall costs and features related to MFA

For the most part, MFA products are subscription-based that charge a monthly fee per user. Some vendors, such as Microsoft, bundle MFA with self-service identity, access management, access reporting and self-service group management. Third-party vendors might offer different MFA features; as one example, Duo Security includes self-enrollment and management, user risk assessment with phishing simulation, and device access monitoring and identification with its MFA product.

Single sign-on, identity management and identity monitoring are all valuable features that, if included with an MFA offering, should be worth considering when it’s time to narrow the vendor list.

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Cisco revenues up, customers warming to new products

Cisco has reported a 6% revenue increase in the quarter ended July 28, as the strong economy contributed to a boost in product sales and customer adoption of new software-driven technology.

Cisco reported on Wednesday its “highest quarterly revenue” of $12.8 billion and predicted a 5% to 7% increase in Cisco revenues year over year in the current quarter, which sent its stock up more than 6% in after-hours trading.

Cisco predicted adjusted net income for the quarter ending in October would range from 70 to 72 cents a share, beating analysts’ projection of 69 cents. Earnings of 70 cents per share for the July quarter beat analysts’ expectations by a penny a share.

The company reported “solid demand” for its products as it continued its transformation into a provider of network software and services from a company dependent on selling high-priced switching and routing hardware. Application sales rose 10% and recurring revenue, a reflection of sales in software subscriptions and services, accounted for 32% of total revenue, up a point from the same period last year.

During a conference call with analysts, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins attributed the company’s strong quarter to a combination of customers buying more during a strong economy and execution by the Cisco’s sales and product development teams.

“I’m pragmatic to know it’s a combination of both,” Robbins said. “Clearly, the economy has been pretty consistent, and the markets have been positive, so that has certainly helped.”

Cisco revenues show new product sales

Nevertheless, Robbins was pleased with customer reaction to Cisco’s new products, notably the Catalyst 9000 campus switch and the Viptela software-defined WAN, which Cisco acquired last year for $610 million.

Clearly, the economy has been pretty consistent, and the markets have been positive, so that has certainly helped.
Chuck RobbinsCEO, Cisco

Introduced in June 2017, the Catalyst 9000 is the first switch Cisco has sold that requires the customer to buy a subscription to the software running on the hardware.

“I’m very pleased with how the adoption has been from our customers,” Robbins said. As of the end of the July quarter, Cisco had sold the Catalyst 9000 to more than 9,650 organizations.

“You’ll see us over the next coming quarters when we bring new products to market — particularly in the enterprise networking space, but across the portfolio — we will apply that same [software subscription] strategy,” Robbins said.

Viptela is vital in maintaining Cisco’s leading position as a campus networking supplier. The SD-WAN product routes traffic via software to and from campus networks and remote offices. Cisco has integrated the subscription-based Viptela with its Integrated Services Router (ISR) and plans to combine the software with other hardware.

“We’ve begun to see customers actually move forward with deployments,” Robbins said. “It’s early, but we like where we are, and we like what we see.”

Cisco revenues helped by service providers

Cisco also managed to increase sales by 6% to services providers, a customer segment that was down 4% in the previous quarter. Robbins attributed the growth to increased spending by some large customers rather than to purchases of new technology, such as products related to 5G, the next generation of wireless technology.

Robbins said carriers started discussing the infrastructure needs for 5G “in earnest” at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. Nevertheless, he did not expect 5G-related sales to begin for at least a year, picking up in 2020.

VPNFilter malware infects 500,000 devices for massive Russian botnet

On the same day researchers reported a new modular malware system that infected at least half a million networking devices, the FBI seized a key domain that served as backup for the malware’s command and control infrastructure.

The new malware, known as VPNFilter, was found to be infecting small office and home office (SOHO) routers and network-attached storage (NAS) devices from several different vendors. Researchers at Cisco Talos discovered the malware and published their preliminary results before their investigation was complete to give users a better chance at protecting their interests from an attack they believed was sponsored or affiliated with a nation state threat actor.

“Both the scale and the capability of this operation are concerning. Working with our partners, we estimate the number of infected devices to be at least 500,000 in at least 54 countries,” wrote Cisco Talos threat researcher William Largent in a blog post. “The behavior of this malware on networking equipment is particularly concerning, as components of the VPNFilter malware allows for theft of website credentials and monitoring of Modbus SCADA protocols.”

In addition to these threats, the researchers determined that VPNFilter also “has a destructive capability that can render an infected device unusable, which can be triggered on individual victim machines or en masse, and has the potential of cutting off internet access for hundreds of thousands of victims worldwide.”

Cisco Talos said the VPNFilter malware “is a multi-stage, modular platform with versatile capabilities to support both intelligence-collection and destructive cyber attack operations.” The first stage of the malware is persistent on the internet of things devices it infects and provides a mechanism for the second stage of the malware to be deployed. Stage two of the VPNFilter malware persists only in memory and can be mitigated by rebooting the affected system, but removing the first stage of the infection is more difficult.

The primary means of delivering stage two of the VPNFilter malware is through IP addresses identified in EXchangable Image File (EXIF) metadata for images stored on the Photobucket website.

Researchers determined that the VPNFilter command and control (C&C) infrastructure used a backup domain, “toknowalI.com,” to deliver the second stage of malware to infected devices if the primary means of identifying the C&C server is unavailable. By sinkholing the botnet C&C server — redirecting traffic from infected botnet devices to the C&C controller — the FBI was able to reduce the threat from the campaign.

Justice Department steps in

Seizure of the domain was put into effect after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania obtained court orders authorizing the FBI to seize the domain used by the VPNFilter malware’s command-and-control infrastructure.

John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said in the Justice Department announcement that “This operation is the first step in the disruption of a botnet that provides the Sofacy actors with an array of capabilities that could be used for a variety of malicious purposes, including intelligence gathering, theft of valuable information, destructive or disruptive attacks, and the misattribution of such activities.”

The Justice Department attributed the attack to the Sofacy Group, which is also known as APT28, Pawn Storm, Fancy Bear and other aliases.

About the VPNFilter malware

Cisco Talos reported vendors were affected by VPNFilter, including Linksys, MikroTik, NETGEAR and TP-Link SOHO routers and networking equipment as well as QNAP network-attached storage (NAS) devices.

The researchers cited the resemblance of the malware to the BlackEnergy malware that targeted devices in Ukraine in previous campaigns, and indications that the new malware was attacking systems in Ukraine at “an alarming rate” with a C&C infrastructure “dedicated to that country.”

Cisco Talos recommended that device owners reboot their devices, reset them to factory settings, and download and install the most recent patches for the devices. The Justice Department noted that while “devices will remain vulnerable to reinfection with the second stage malware while connected to the Internet, these efforts maximize opportunities to identify and remediate the infection worldwide in the time available before Sofacy actors learn of the vulnerability in their command-and-control infrastructure.”

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256gb Msata ssd and 8gb ddr3 sodimm

256gb Msata ssd and 8gb ddr3 sodimm

As per title I have a crucial msata M550 256gb SSD reported as 98% health on ssd life £45 delivered
I also have an 8gb DDR3 SODIMM £30 delivered

Price and currency: 45 & 30 delivered
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT or paypal
Location: Bridgwater
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected…

256gb Msata ssd and 8gb ddr3 sodimm

256gb Msata ssd and 8gb ddr3 sodimm

As per title I have a crucial msata M550 256gb SSD reported as 98% health on ssd life £45 delivered
I also have an 8gb DDR3 SODIMM £30 delivered

Price and currency: 45 & 30 delivered
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT or paypal
Location: Bridgwater
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected…

256gb Msata ssd and 8gb ddr3 sodimm

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Advertised elsewhere?: Advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I prefer the goods to be collected…

Seagate Expansion 2TB USB 3.0 Portable 2.5 inch External Hard Drive