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NetApp and VMware Strengthen Global Partnership to Help Customers Modernize with Multi-Cloud

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NetApp and VMware have announced the expansion of the companies’ longstanding global alliance. Through innovative solutions and go-to-market initiatives, NetApp and VMware are helping customers reduce the cost, complexity, and risk of migrating and modernizing enterprise-class workloads in multi-cloud environments. In addition, organizations can accelerate the performance and delivery of both traditional and new modern applications and simplify daily operations through new integrations between VMware and NetApp data management infrastructure.

The NetApp and VMware partnership is built on the foundation of shared experience supporting twenty thousand mutual customers over more than 20 years. NetApp is a consistent VMware strategic design partner for current and future VMware Cloud offerings including VMware vSphere, VMware Cloud Foundation, and several VMware Cross-Cloud services. NetApp and VMware are helping customers to effectively manage, share and protect their hybrid and multi-cloud environments by collaborating on customer-driven co-engineering to offer innovative solutions across an ever-changing technology landscape.

“Customers today are faced with complex challenges to optimize their current IT investments while laying a path forward to modernize and accelerate their business,” said George Kurian, Chief Executive Officer, NetApp. “Together, NetApp and VMware have helped thousands of customers solve their multi-cloud challenges by effectively managing their enterprise workloads in any environment. By delivering powerful new solutions that help companies optimize their virtual data centers, modernize their applications, and provide cost-efficient, enterprise-class data management services to VMware Cloud, we can meet customers anywhere they are on their cloud journey.”

“At this stage, it’s clear: Multi-cloud is the model we’re going to rely on for many years to come. It is the de facto operating model for the digital era, giving customers the freedom required to build, deploy, and manage applications in the way that best suits their business requirements,” said Raghu Raghuram, Chief Executive Officer, VMware. “Together, VMware and NetApp offer businesses the multi-cloud flexibility and choice they need to leverage the best innovations in any cloud environment.”

The new wave of modern applications powering this digital age requires an innovative approach to enterprise workload and data management infrastructure. Organizations today are turning to the public cloud to simplify and accelerate their business initiatives and require flexibility and choice across leading public cloud providers. These organizations also need new, and integrated platforms that can manage both enterprise and modern applications while efficiently utilizing existing resources. The renewed partnership between NetApp and VMware addresses these challenges by focusing on three major customer-driven initiatives:

  • Cost-Effective & Seamless Migration to Multi-Cloud – NetApp and VMware are currently innovating together across the world’s three largest public cloud providers to certify and support VMware Cloud and NetApp Cloud Services. This helps customers running on VMware utilizing either NetApp or non-NetApp storage environments on-premises to seamlessly migrate, extend or protect data-demanding enterprise workloads and files to the cloud with reduced cost and risk. Customers can now right-size their cloud compute and storage architectures to reduce and control the costs of running data-demanding workloads in the cloud at scale, while also avoiding the costs of refactoring applications from on-premises into the cloud. NetApp and VMware have taken decades of experience in managing enterprise workloads in the data center to deliver fully certified, integrated, and supported solutions that bring these same benefits to customers leveraging the public cloud, all built on a trusted workload and data management foundation.
  • Accelerate Modernized Applications Using Kubernetes/Containers–VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu allows IT to manage virtual machines and orchestrate containers from one unified platform. VMware Tanzu and VMware Cloud Foundation support the use of NetApp ONTAP-based storage arrays, providing customers the ability to seamlessly build out a flexible data fabric for traditional VMs and modern, containerized applications. For Kubernetes workloads, NetApp is a design partner with VMware Tanzu container-native storage integrating Astra Control with VMware Tanzu for VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (vVols) deployments. Customers can now simplify and accelerate new modern application development and deployment alongside traditional virtualized workloads using enterprise-scale, high-performance, and protected solutions that are jointly validated and supported.
  • Optimize The Data Center Through Modernized Infrastructure –Organizations today require an efficient, cost-effective workload and data management platform to optimize existing resources. NetApp is a VMware co-design partner with vSphere and vVols for new and expanded support of key technologies from NetApp file and blocks storage platforms. This includes new certification and support to enable the use of vVols with NVMe-oF to allow enhanced block storage flash performance and more granular VM storage management over multiple types of network transport from FC, ethernet, and standard TCP/IP networks. This also includes new integration to enhance the availability and security of running virtualized workloads across NFS 4.1 environments. Customers can now unlock more performance for traditional virtualized workloads leveraging existing infrastructure investments while simplifying daily IT operations through jointly validated and supported solutions.

Market Research

Trellix Predicts Heightened Hacktivism and Geopolitical Cyberattacks in 2023

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Trellix has released its annual threat predictions report for 2023. Forecasts from the Trellix Advanced Research Center anticipate spikes in geopolitically motivated attacks across Asia and Europe, hacktivism fueled by tensions from opposing political parties, and vulnerabilities in core software supply chains. “Analysing current trends is necessary but being predictive in cybersecurity is vital. While organizations focus on near-term threats, we advise all to look beyond the horizon to ensure a proactive posture,” said John Fokker, Head of Threat Intelligence, Trellix. “Global political events and the adoption of new technology will breed novel threats from more innovative threat actors.”

The Trellix Advanced Research Center brings together hundreds of the world’s most skilled security analysts and researchers to serve the global threat intelligence community and organizations with the latest threat indicators and insights collected from Trellix’s extensive sensor network. Trellix Advanced Research Center forecasts the following threats in 2023:

  • Geopolitics and grey-zone conflict. Geopolitical factors will continue to be a high motivation for misinformation campaigns and cyberattacks timed with kinetic military activity.
  • Hacktivism takes center stage. As groups of loosely organized individuals fueled by propaganda align for a common cause, they will ramp up their use of cyber tools to voice their anger and cause disruption across the globe.
  • Skeletons in the software closet will multiply. Both threat actors and security researchers will heighten their study of underlying software frameworks and libraries resulting in an increase in breaches related to software supply chain issues.
  • Increasing activity by teen cybercriminals. Teens and young adults will engage at increasing levels in cybercrime – everything from large-scale attacks on enterprises and governments to low-level crimes that target family, friends, peers, and strangers.
  • Declining accuracy of code-based attribution. The outsourcing of malware creation and operation, diversification of malware development, and use of leaked source code will make attribution of cyberthreats to specific threat actors increasingly challenging.
  • Imminent global cyberthreat to critical infrastructure as cyberwarfare evolves. A significant rise in advanced cyberactors causing disruptions to critical infrastructure in vulnerable targets will be observed.
  • With more collaboration comes more phishing. Weaponised phishing attacks will increase across commonly used business communication services and apps, like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and others.
  • “Alexa, start mining bitcoins.”The advanced capabilities of consumer and enterprise IoT devices will be leveraged by hackers to mine cryptocurrencies.
  • Space hacking: only going up from here. The compromise of satellites and other space assets will increase and become more public in 2023.
  • Here’s my number, so call me, maybe. There will be a huge jump in reverse vishing – or voice phishing – attacks, with fewer tech-aware users being the primary target.
  • Attacks against the Windows domain will scale. More domain privilege escalation vulnerabilities will be discovered as well as more real-world attacks against Microsoft Windows with the explicit goal of complete network takeover.

“We started 2022 with an industry-wide vulnerability in Log4J, which was closely followed by cyber and physical war targeting Ukraine. We’re closing the year observing hacktivists taking matters into their own hands, new actors in operation, and a changed but increasingly active ransomware landscape. As stress continues to weigh on the global economy, as we head into the new year, organizations should expect increased activity from threat actors looking to advance their own agenda – whether for political or financial gain,” commented Vibin Shaju, VP EMEA, Solutions Engineering, Trellix. “To outwit and outpace bad actors and advance defenses proactively, security must be always-on and always learning.”

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Market Research

North Korea-Linked Group Launches Dolphin Backdoor: ESET Research

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ESET researchers analyzed a previously unreported sophisticated backdoor used by the ScarCruft APT group. The backdoor, which ESET named Dolphin, has a wide range of spying capabilities, including monitoring drives and portable devices, exfiltrating files of interest, keylogging, taking screenshots, and stealing credentials from browsers. Its functionality is reserved for selected targets, to which the backdoor is deployed after the initial compromise using less advanced malware. Dolphin abuses cloud storage services — specifically Google Drive — for Command and Control communication.

ScarCruft, also known as APT37 or Reaper, is an espionage group that has been operating since at least 2012. It primarily focuses on South Korea, but other Asian countries have also been targeted. ScarCruft seems to be interested mainly in government and military organizations, and companies in various industries linked to the interests of North Korea.

“After being deployed on selected targets, it searches the drives of compromised systems for interesting files and exfiltrates them to Google Drive. One unusual capability found in prior versions of the backdoor is the ability to modify the settings of victims’ Google and Gmail accounts to lower their security, presumably to maintain Gmail account access for the threat actors,” says ESET researcher Filip Jurčacko, who analyzed the Dolphin backdoor.

In 2021, ScarCruft conducted a watering-hole attack on a South Korean online newspaper focused on North Korea. The attack consisted of multiple components, including an Internet Explorer exploit and shellcode leading to a backdoor named BLUELIGHT.

“In the previous reports, the BLUELIGHT backdoor was described as the attack’s final payload. However, when analyzing the attack, we discovered through ESET telemetry a second, more sophisticated backdoor deployed on selected victims via this first backdoor. We named this backdoor Dolphin based on a PDB path found in the executable,” explains Jurčacko.

Since the initial discovery of Dolphin in April 2021, ESET researchers have observed multiple versions of the backdoor, in which the threat actors improved the backdoor’s capabilities and made attempts to evade detection.

While the BLUELIGHT backdoor performs basic reconnaissance and evaluation of the compromised machine after exploitation, Dolphin is more sophisticated and manually deployed only against selected victims. Both backdoors are capable of exfiltrating files from a path specified in a command, but Dolphin also actively searches drives and automatically exfiltrates files with interesting extensions.

The backdoor collects basic information about the targeted machine, including the operating system version, malware version, list of installed security products, username, and computer name. By default, Dolphin searches all fixed (HDD) and non-fixed drives (USBs), creates directory listings, and exfiltrates files by extension. Dolphin also searches portable devices, such as smartphones, via the Windows Portable Device API. The backdoor also steals credentials from browsers, and is capable of keylogging and taking screenshots. Finally, it stages this data in encrypted ZIP archives before uploading it to Google Drive.

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Market Research

Kingston Reiterates the Role of Encrypted Hardware in Mobile Healthcare Data Security

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Kingston Technology Europe has emphasised the importance of hardware-based encryption in strengthening mobile healthcare data protection efforts across the globe. The company made the statement as data breaches remain one of the biggest digital threats within the healthcare industry, thereby raising the need for stronger data security protocols and stringent compliance with relevant policies.

The average total cost of a healthcare data breach worldwide rose by almost $1 million to reach $10.10 million in 2022, according to IBM Security analysis of research data compiled by Ponemon Institute. Healthcare breach costs have been the most expensive industry for 12 consecutive years, increasing by 41.6% since the 2020 report.

Kingston maintained that hardware encryption can help bridge gaps by providing a fortified layer of data protection through an encryption process designed to be unbreakable or hard to intercept. Whether stored or transported, the medical data saved in encrypted hardware devices such as USBs can be accessed only through authentication codes set by authorised individuals.

The encryption feature is also separate from any PC, mobile phone, or network systems to keep the data out of reach in the event cybercriminal breaks into the gadgets or online networks. Security is also assured even if the encrypted device ends up being misplaced, lost, or stolen. “Encrypted drives such as IronKey encrypted USBs are made to keep the data from falling into the wrong hands. Many are equipped with top-notch features that can also detect and respond to physical tampering and provide automatic data protection upon drive removal for added peace of mind,” said Antoine Harb, the Team Leader for Middle East and North Africa at Kingston Technology.

“Such capabilities are vital given that human error is considered one of the common causes of data breaches. One recent example took place in Japan where a worker reportedly lost a memory stick that contained the personal data of all residents of a Japanese city after a night out. The data had been encrypted and password-protected, preventing unauthorized access, Hardware-based encryption not only offers strong and reliable protection but is also a practical and easy-to-use approach to safeguarding private healthcare-related information,” added Harb.

According to Harb, it offers out-of-the-box cybersecurity measures minus the need for regular updates like those required in the software-based encryption processes. “Cybercrimes are on the rise worldwide, resulting in astronomical financial and reputational costs. In the Middle East, IBM Security reported that the region had the second highest average total data breach cost reaching $7.46 million in 2022 from $6.93 million last year,” the company said.

Among other factors, the Middle Eastern countries’ financial and economic status has been cited as one of the main reasons behind the online network attacks. In the Gulf region, the attacks on Dubai-based NHS Moorfield Hospital and GlobeMed Saudi were considered one of the top breaches in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, respectively.

Calls for improved data security levels are, therefore, mounting. Across the globe, laws, and regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation, have already been enforced for a higher level of data privacy and security. In the UAE, the government has also imposed strict compliance of healthcare providers with its Health Data Law. “We can only expect that online network intrusions will grow and become even more sophisticated and bold as the world transitions to an ultra-connected society. Implementing or using encrypted devices is an important cybersecurity protocol that both individuals and corporations can adopt for stronger and easier-to-use data protection. Understanding one’s needs and, in the case of healthcare providers, knowing the importance of protecting the patients’ private mobile data, among others, play an important role in choosing the right encrypted hardware,” Harb added.

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