Plus: Google reports on Android security and ransomware gets nastier.

Lorna Garey

April 22, 2016

10 Min Read
7, seven

Lorna GareyAre AT&T and Verizon both interested in buying Yahoo? So says Reuters, which names AT&T-backed YP LLC as a bidder. Now, I once compared a fight over Yahoo to punching a co-worker to get a leftover tuna sandwich that’s been sitting on the conference room table for two hours. However, Art Wittmann says that’s wrong analysis.

“Both AT&T and Verizon realize they need to get into the digital content game more strongly,” says Wittmann, Channel Partners group VP. “Verizon has taken a first step with its purchase of AOL. Just as Comcast has been on 20-year quest to become a media provider – NBC Universal, E!, a piece of MGM, Movies.com, SportsNet – the telcos now see themselves as digital service providers, and they need content as part of their services. Both of the infrastructure behemoths realize they need to be in the business of what goes on the ‘Net as well as simply providing the ‘Net. Parts of Yahoo’s content are excellent, including its sports and business coverage, and could make an excellent addition to each company’s so-far-small digital content offerings. The mobile and infrastructure markets aren’t growing. What is growing are digital services.”

That tuna sandwich is looking better now, and Verizon appears to be the lead bidder.

LTE-A on the Edge

Cradlepoint announced this week a suite of LTE-Advanced routing platforms for branch office and in-vehicle networks. Customers’ use-cases range from securing tablet-based PoS networks for retail and hospitality, to branch offices as well as in-vehicle networks for police and emergency responders, mass transit, mobile health care and commercial fleets. Cradlepoint says it’s the first to embed Category 6 LTE-A technologies within an enterprise-grade WAN. Cat 6 devices can connect to and aggregate two different spectrum bands for theoretical download speeds of 300 Mbps.

We covered using 4G as a WAN backup in a recent report.

Ed Walton, VP of North American channels and alliances at Cradlepoint, told me that 4G LTE-A can deliver good performance for fixed-edge routing and mobile computing use cases. “LTE-A is substantially rolled out across all North American carriers, so being first to market with an LTE Advanced Routing Platform allows our channel partners to deliver the benefits of LTE-A to their customers today and maintain a competitive edge,” said Walton.

The company’s partner program has four tiers – Elite, Premier, Signature and Authorized – and offers advance deal-registration discounts.

While carriers are extending LTE-A, it’s not yet ubiquitous. Aggregation boosts the amount of bandwidth available to critical applications deployed in areas where coverage may be spotty. “For enterprises requiring agile and effective connections to supplement wired network access or tackle coverage in areas lacking wired access, LTE-Advanced provides an industrial-grade wireless access alternative that delivers benefits of high-speed, ubiquity and scale,” said Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst, mobile infrastructure at 451 Research. “With the growth of remote cloud access, IoT and increasingly mobile employees, LTE-Advanced becomes fundamental for the new connected organization.”

The LTE-A modems will be embedded in Cradlepoint’s AER-series edge routers, ARC-series failover and out-of-band management solutions and COR IBR1100 ruggedized mobile network devices. Cradlepoint also serves the health-care vertical.

Google Android: 2015 Was a Secure Year

Google this week released its Android Security 2015 Year In Review report. The study provides a state-of view of the Android ecosystem, based largely on more than 400 million automatic security scans Google ran every day on Android devices.

Some findings relevant to customers: The largest threat was installation of “potentially harmful applications” that may damage a device or do something unintended with user data. On average, less than 0.5 percent of devices had a PHA installed during 2015. For devices whose owners installed applications only from the Google Play store, that number dropped below 0.15 percent; Google credits its Verify apps featureSafetyNet API and Android Security Team. And, in over 90 percent of cases when a user attempted to install an application from outside of Google Play, that app had already undergone automated analysis. Ransomware was present in less than .01 percent of all installs.

Lost devices are, however, common: 17.8 million people used Android Device Manager to locate their phones or tabs in 2015, a 43 percent increase over 2014.

The report is worth a look for your mobile support teams. If a customer is on the fence about standardizing on either iOS or Android, Google points out that device diversity is a security strength of the Android ecosystem, stating that “it is well known that highly uniform ecosystems are at risk of ecosystem-wide compromise.” Oh snap.

Snowballing Storage

For when 50 TB just won’t do, Amazon announced this week an 80 TB AWS Import/Export Snowball appliance. The Snowball hardware eases movement of data into or out of AWS. IT or a partner loads data onto the appliance and ships it to Amazon, thus avoiding the high bandwidth costs, long transfer times and security concerns of up- or downloading data over a WAN or the Internet.

Amazon recommends a Snowball if it will take more than one week to upload a customer’s data to AWS using spare network capacity. For example, if the customer can devote a 100 Mbps connection and needs to transfer 100 TB of data, it would take more than 100 days to complete the process versus about a week with several Snowballs.

The 80 TB Snowball employs strong encryption and costs $250 per job, plus shipping. It’s available now in the United States and some global locations, with worldwide coverage expected by year’s end.

Look Out, E-Commerce Partners

Remember E-Bay Enterprise? Me neither, but this week it announced that it’s joined forces with Innotrac to become Radial, billed as “the largest omnichannel commerce technology and operations provider.” Translated, that means offering consumers a unified experience no matter how or where they’re buying, from a physical store to a PC to a social media site on a mobile device.

Radial says it will soon launch a partner ecosystem, but you may not want to wait to have the omnichannel business discussion with retail customers: Forrester says that 49 percent of online retailers will invest anywhere from $500,000 to more than $20 million in e-commerce technology to try and satisfy customers’ “buy anywhere, pick up anywhere, return anywhere” expectations. The wrath of a Millennial who purchased a garment online then couldn’t return it a local store (looking at you, H&M) is something to behold.

Radial plans to help retailers address this by offering a platform that provides order routing and fulfillment, payment processing with tax and fraud prevention modules, customer-care services and actionable analytics.

Radial already employs more than 7,000 people globally, runs cloud-based commerce platforms for leading retailers and brands and operates more than two-dozen distribution centers and six call centers in the United States, Canada and Europe. If you’re heavily into the retail space, this company is worth watching.

Plus: Speaking of retail, Samsung Electronics Co. announced this week new partnerships with the world’s largest point-of-sale players, including Verifone, Ingenico Group, First Data and Clover, PAX Technology and Equinox, in a bid to “accelerate mobile payment adoption by ensuring the best possible user experience at merchants’ point-of-sale (POS) systems during checkout.”

Translated, the so-called “digital wallet” race isn’t just about payments. It’s about smartphone sales, mindshare and mineable data, and Google, Apple and Samsung are slugging it out along with PayPal, Wal-Mart and many big banks. Samsung says its Pay works at over 90 percent of the top 250 retailers and the vast majority of merchants, including small, local businesses. What’s your advice to customers?

Ransomware Gets Nastier. Yes, It’s Possible

As if simply encrypting a customer’s files weren’t bad enough, a new strain of “Saw”-themed malware adds a torture motif, as explained by Mat Schwartz. Nice. To help fight back, The Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology this week released a comprehensive, if somewhat dry, report on the ransomware epidemic, including advice on building a layered defense and minimizing the exploitable attack surface. The authors, who work for the ICIT as well as security firms and HPE, cover ransomware variants and vulnerabilities in endpoints from SCADA and IoT systems to cloud to end users.

The document isn’t something you’ll likely send to nontechnical customers, but the authors do offer objective advice that technical staff should find useful.

Plus: If you’re looking for definitive analysis of the law enforcement vs. cryptography debate, it’s right here, via noted cryptologist Matt Blaze’s testimony to Congress.

Druva Enters Japanese Market, With NTT Backing

Channel-focused data protection and governance provider Druva this week announced a strategic investment by NTT Finance, a result of the company’s recent ventures into the Japanese market. Moves include localization of solutions, aligning its product road map with data-protection requirements and partnerships with Japanese resellers and integrators, including NTT Neomeit and NetOne Systems.

Druva is also introducing its PartnerSync program for new partners in Japan. PartnerSync offers three tiers with the usual registration, pre-sales assistance and MDFs.

Druva integrates data backup and recovery, data-loss prevention and automated regulatory-compliance monitoring for endpoints, servers and cloud applications. The company’s flagship inSync product uses what it calls a “converged data model” that encrypts and backs up data in cloud apps like Microsoft Office 365, Box and Google Apps as well as on-premises systems and mobile devices. It runs on AWS and Microsoft Azure and offers self-service restores. Druva inSync plans begin at $6 per user, per month.

The IoT Is Always Watching

Public-sector solutions providers may be familiar with Genetec, which sells through resellers, certified channel partners, integrators and consultants a line of technologies that unify IP and physical security systems. This week, Genetec announced a deal with Sensity Systems, which embeds networking technology in both retrofit and new LED lighting. Through its NetSense partner program, Sensity sells a variety of Smart City applications and services.

The two are partnering to enable Sensity Video Nodes, embedded in LED lights, to record high-quality security video and send it over Wi-Fi to the Genetec video management system, where it can be analyzed and stored for possible future viewing.

“The significance of this particular IoT security solution is the ability for the Sensity Video Nodes, using the Genetec Edge Protocol, to maintain sensitive video data at the network edge, on the device itself, rather than transporting data back to a central location,” said Stefano Landi, VP of sales and partners at Sensity. “This shift in where the intelligence resides makes possible ‘security without surveillance’ — safeguarding citizens’ privacy through edge-based storage and analytics, while freeing human security personnel from having to watch security video screens all the time.”

Kansas City is poised to be a test case, deploying the system to monitor a new downtown streetcar line. The vendors say the IoT video security system, including the cameras, is a fraction of the cost of a traditional wired video security system.

Plus: Channel-focused IoT vendor PTC, maker of the open ThingWorx Internet of Things platform, announced this week that ThingWorx now integrates with Amazon Web Services IoT, and that it will fully support the Microsoft Azure IoT Hub in July. Offering pre-built integrations to these cloud platforms should speed up development and help customers and partners get IoT offerings to market faster.

State of Endpoint Security? Don’t Ask

Finally, channel-focused security vendor CounterTack engaged Ponemon Institute to survey 694 US IT and IT security practitioners who are involved in endpoint security in a variety of organizations on trends and changes in endpoint risk, with endpoints defined as servers, desktops, laptops and smartphones as well as printers, ATMs and PoS devices.

Ponemon Chart

The results, published this week in Ponemon’s 2016 State of the Endpoint Report, should make customers worried. The severity of malware attacks experienced by respondents’ companies has increased dramatically since the study was first conducted in 2011, yet only 38 percent of respondents in this year’s study say they have a strategy to deal with destructive software. This is a decline from 43 percent of respondents in 2015. Sounds like an opportunity.

Agree about the tuna sandwich? Disagree? Let me know, either in comments or direct. Follow editor-in-chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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