Store-age Virtualization How Retailers Can Gain An Edge With IT Operations

retailtouchpoints | August 06, 2019

For many retail organizations, individual stores are spread far and wide, oftentimes with thousands of locations. In any given store location, there are many applications and Internet of Things (IoT) devices running simultaneously to maintain business operations, security and more. These applications and devices include point of sale (POS) systems, video surveillance recordings, back office applications, inventory management software, digital signage and food service automation — to name a few. In order to stay competitive in a landscape where every retailer is looking for an edge to attract and retain customers, a flexible technical architecture that can easily handle change is crucial for business continuity. The successful IT management of multiple stores in various locations is important for managing application uptime, data production and storage without the need for onsite IT support in each store location.

Spotlight

This document provides a general overview of the security controls implemented in various VMware Cloud™ Services offerings that run on the Amazon Web Services infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The intent is to provide readers with an understanding of how VMware approaches security for its cloud offerings, the key mechanisms and processes VMware uses to manage information security, and insight into the shared responsibility for providing security in a modern cloud computing environment.


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SERVER VIRTUALIZATION

The Ken Blanchard Companies Partners with Immersive Learning Leader Talespin on New Trust VR Simulation

The Ken Blanchard Companies | February 17, 2022

The Ken Blanchard Companies, a global leader in management training, consulting, and coaching, announced its partnership with Talespin, a spatial computing company focused on workforce knowledge transfer and skills insights, to create a series of learning modules on building and restoring trust. Trust is at the heart of every relationship and is especially critical in the workplace. In fact, the primary factor affecting employee turnover is whether a trusting relationship was developed between the manager and the employee. And research shows that the pandemic is weakening the already fragile bonds of trust between leaders and their people.1 Blanchard's Building Trust teaches leaders and their team members how to cultivate trust in the workplace and how to repair trust when it's been broken. Learners now have realistic conversations with a virtual team member through an online simulation. Leveraging the proven efficacy of virtual reality as one of the most impactful learning modalities, the VR simulations in Building Trust let learners encounter common workplace scenarios and have life-like conversations with a virtual human in an immersive environment. The modules, which were created using the Talespin platform, will help individuals apply behaviors that create trust in the workplace and show how to repair trust when it's been broken. Talespin's use of XR helps individuals learn faster, validate their skills, and find upward mobility in the workforce. "Immersive experiences allowing for safe practice of skills is critical in our virtual working world. Consuming content passively—such as viewing a video or even less-interactive modalities like an eLearning course—only conveys the knowledge. Skill acquisition and habit building will occur only when individuals apply the knowledge. These scenarios allow for that person to practice, learn from the outcome in the module, and increase their likelihood of having more trustworthy conversations with people at work," said Britney Cole, vice president of solutions architecture and innovation strategy. Blanchard's Recognizing Trust and Restoring Trust modules, which are part of Building Trust, can be deployed both via desktop streaming and VR/XR head-mounted displays. Organizations can use the modules within their existing leadership development programs and learning journeys, as part of a Building Trust workshop or online module, or as part of the Talespin off-the-shelf library. Customers and their learners can track skill development in the new learning modules using the Talespin platform. In rapidly changing work environments, skills like creating and maintaining trust with others are vital. We're excited to be partnered with The Ken Blanchard Companies, bringing their world-class leadership content and frameworks to life in XR using our platform." Stephen Fromkin, chief content officer and co-founder of Talespin "Immersive and virtual reality simulations are a powerful way to reinforce Blanchard's content. We are excited to integrate Talespin's cutting-edge platform into our offerings and know they will help learners master the foundational skills of inspired leadership," said Scott Blanchard, president of The Ken Blanchard Companies. About The Ken Blanchard Companies The Ken Blanchard Companies is a global leader in management training, consulting, and coaching. For more than 40 years, Blanchard® has been helping organizations develop inspired leaders at all levels and create cultures of connection that unleash talent and deliver extraordinary results. Blanchard's SLII® powers inspired leaders and is the leadership model of choice for more than 10,000 organizations worldwide. Blanchard also offers a suite of other award-winning leadership development solutions through flexible delivery modalities to meet the specific needs of its clients. About Talespin Talespin is building the spatial computing platform to power talent development and skills mobility for the future of work. Founded in 2015, the company leverages its proprietary XR technology platform to deliver XR-based learning and training applications, mixed-reality field tools to support employee job performance, and a new skills-based approach to work and productivity. With offices in Los Angeles and Utrecht, The Netherlands, Talespin is building a future of work where the distance between learning and execution is collapsed, enabling people to explore unique career paths that meet the needs of businesses and individuals. Talespin's investors include Cornerstone, Farmers Insurance Exchange, and HTC.

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VPN

Banyan Security Research Uncovers Primary Considerations Influencing Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) Adoption

Banyan Security | June 28, 2022

Banyan Security, a leading provider of Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solutions, today revealed new research highlighting organizations’ preferences and hesitations for adopting modern remote access solutions. The independent survey was conducted by Sapio Research and engaged over 400 senior decision makers from mid- to large-sized companies in the U.S. and Canada, who are responsible for IT security and are aware of both virtual private networks (VPN) and ZTNA. The key findings from this study include: Over half (54%) of VPN owners stated that secure remote access is a priority at this time. VPN usage is still prevalent among a majority (90%) of security teams who have highlighted cost, time, and difficulty as reasons to not move forward with ZTNA adoption. Almost all organizations (97%) say that adopting a zero trust model is a priority, with 93% of organizations having committed a budget to enhance their VPN or move toward ZTNA within the next year or two. More than half (53%) of respondents have already started rolling out zero trust solutions. Personal Devices and VPNs Do Not Mix The last two years have shifted how we work, producing a new remote workforce that was essentially created overnight. As highlighted in this study, this has resulted in most workers – in this case 51% of respondents – using a combination of corporate and personal devices to connect to business applications and resources. Personal devices often used by less security-conscious family members. This creates a very risky environment as personal devices are easy targets for threat actors especially since IT teams cannot fully monitor activity on these devices. Additionally, personal devices are often used by other family members – particularly children – which make them even more susceptible to malware and other viruses. Despite known security issues, VPN usage continues to thrive, with 90% of respondents currently using a VPN in some capacity for secure remote access. When access is permitted on a personal device, it creates a risky situation for not only the user, but the entire organization. VPNs lack many of the application-level access controls and integrated security that are common in ZTNA solutions. As a result, cybercriminals will often target VPNs because a single set of compromised credentials can provide all of the access needed to carry out a data breach, ransomware incident, or other attacks. “As this study shows, VPN usage continues to be prevalent, often viewed as ‘good enough’ for remote access among organizations simply because that is what they have always used, What this doesn’t account for is the poor administrative and end user experience, not to mention that on-premises access must be handled with separate, siloed tools. We have plenty of evidence to show that legacy VPNs no longer adequately protect nor provide consistent and easy access to corporate resources for today’s ‘work from anywhere’ workforce.” Jayanth Gummaraju, CEO & Co-Founder of Banyan Security Key Drivers for ZTNA A majority of the respondents (97%) stated that adopting a zero trust model is a priority for their organization, where 44% said they have plans to roll out zero trust but are in the early stages, while 53% said they have already begun to roll out zero trust solutions. For organizations who have begun to roll out ZTNA solutions, the survey revealed that secure remote access (48%), improving the end user experience (34%) and eliminating exposure to VPN vulnerabilities (34%) were the top three drivers in their decision to choose ZTNA. Unlike VPNs, ZTNA provides access on a case-by-case basis, which is decided based on user, device, and application-level access and security controls. What’s Holding VPN Users Back from Making the Switch? Over two thirds of organizations (69%) believe implementing a ZTNA strategy would require a large undertaking. Aside from the general familiarity and comfortable usage of their traditional VPN solution, organizations stated that cost/budget constraints are the biggest barriers (62%) for VPN users to adopt ZTNA. Thirty percent of VPN owners said that it would be difficult to implement ZTNA infrastructure in their current security environment; however, 82% of respondents stated they would likely implement ZTNA if there was an easily deployable, inexpensive option. Apathy also appears to be one of the biggest barriers preventing VPN owners from adopting ZTNA solutions with 46% of respondents stating that modern, secure remote access is not a priority at this time. “While it is good to see that awareness of ZTNA solutions amongst IT security professionals continues to grow, the actual implementation of a ZTNA architecture is still considerably low, with just over 17% of respondents having truly begun to roll out a ZTNA strategy,” continued Gummaraju. “As we look toward a future where remote and hybrid work are the standard for most organizations, it’s encouraging to see that IT teams are looking beyond VPNs at more comprehensive zero trust network access solutions.” Research Methodology The survey was conducted among 410 Senior Decision Makers from mid- to large-sized companies in the U.S. and Canada, who are responsible for IT security and are aware of both VPN and ZTNA. The interviews were conducted online by Sapio Research in April 2022 using an email invitation and an online survey, with results accurate to ± 4.8% at 95% confidence limits. About Banyan Security Banyan Security provides secure, zero trust “work from anywhere” access to infrastructure and applications for employees, developers, and third parties without relying on network-centric legacy VPNs. Deep visibility provides actionable insight while continuous authorization with device trust scoring and least privilege access deliver the highest level of protection with a great end user experience. Banyan Security protects tens of thousands of employees across multiple industries, including finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and technology.

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SERVER VIRTUALIZATION

Dell Technologies Telecom Solutions Simplify and Accelerate Modern, Open Network Deployments

Dell Technologies | February 23, 2022

Dell Technologies introduces new telecommunications solutions and services to bolster the open telecom ecosystem and help communications service providers (CSPs) affordably ramp their transformation to open, cloud-native networks. The telecommunications industry's growing open ecosystem gives CSPs more choice in their technologies and partners as they modernize to cloud-native networks. CSPs need the various technologies of this open ecosystem to work together seamlessly to offer differentiated edge services and reduce costs. Dell aims to remove complexity and speed modern network deployments with its Dell Telecom Cloud Foundation, Dell Open RAN Accelerator and new telecom solutions and lab capabilities. Communications service providers are changing how they build and deploy open networks, establishing the foundation on which they can develop and deliver innovative services to capture the edge opportunity. Our expanded telecom solutions portfolio brings the open ecosystem together for network operators, giving them the simplicity and reliability they need to modernize their networks and monetize new services." Dennis Hoffman, senior vice president and general manager, Dell Technologies Telecom Systems Business Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation speeds network modernization, business growth The Dell Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation is a turnkey, end-to-end, modern network infrastructure solution that helps CSPs build and deploy open, cloud-native networks faster with lower cost and complexity. The Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation includes Dell hardware, Dell Bare Metal Orchestrator management software and the CSPs' choice of integrated telecom cloud software platforms, including Red Hat, VMware and Wind River. Dell is adding new Dell Bare Metal Orchestrator Modules to its software, giving CSPs the ability to deploy and lifecycle manage the entire cloud foundation stack. Once implemented, CSPs will have a scalable cloud foundation spanning core, edge and RAN for their open hardware and software environment with the flexibility to design and deploy open network functions and differentiated edge services. ACG Research estimates an up to 39% OpEx savings for CSPs deploying the Telecom Multi-Cloud Foundation in their networks. ACG Research found CSPs also save time on testing and certification, manual processes, server provisioning, software upgrades and cloud stack integration and testing. Dell and Marvell collaborate on new hardware to accelerate Open RAN With the introduction of virtualized and Open RAN architectures, 5G networks are undergoing a transformation that brings cloud scalability to the RAN. Existing virtualized and Open RAN alternatives have previously lacked the performance of established networks, hindering the ability for CSPs to implement cloud-native 5G. Developed in collaboration with Marvell, the Dell Open RAN Accelerator Card is a new inline 5G Layer 1 processing card for vRAN and Open RAN solutions. Designed for Dell PowerEdge and other x86-based servers, the PCIe accelerator card brings the same Marvell OCTEON Fusion technology and performance of today's leading 5G radio networks to the Open RAN ecosystem. CSPs can have better performing systems that lower cost and power consumption, allowing them to affordably scale high performing, modern radio access networks with an open architecture approach. "Marvell is delighted to partner with Dell Technologies to enable an open, virtualized 5G RAN architecture that delivers advanced features and performance built on our proven OCTEON® Fusion platform," said Raj Singh, executive vice president, Processors Business Unit at Marvell. "The new Dell Open RAN Accelerator Card is an innovative no-compromise, cloud-native, inline, Open RAN Layer 1 acceleration solution that addresses the shortcomings of existing vRAN alternatives." "We're pleased to see Dell Technologies and Marvell come together to innovate and create technologies that will enhance Open RAN platform capability and vendor diversity for operators," said Andy Dunkin, Open RAN RF and digital platform development manager at Vodafone. "The promise of virtualized Open RAN platforms will be enhanced with the Dell Open Ran Accelerator Card that should offer network operators like Vodafone a less costly and more efficient path to Open RAN." Dell and ecosystem partners help speed deployment of edge and core solutions Dell continues to grow its open partner ecosystem with new telecom solutions for edge and core. Dell Validated Design for Services Edge 1.2 brings together edge compute resources with private wireless connectivity, enabling the ease of deployment, scalable operations and security capabilities required for large numbers of edge locations. Enterprises can place sensors and devices at the edge of mobile networks to capture and process data in near-real time, and use the data to generate insights, optimize operations and help increase productivity. The open standards-based design now supports Airspan 5G RAN for a fast deployment of enterprise private 5G networks. Dell Validated Design for the 5G Core with Oracle and VMware gives CSPs the choice to build a robust, scalable 5G core on industry standard infrastructure, in a more secure and reliable way. The solution can help reduce the time needed to design, test and integrate network components from multiple partners. Dell expands telecom services and lab capabilities to drive faster ecosystem innovation Dell continues to grow its telecom services capabilities to lead partner integration and accelerate CSPs' deployment and adoption of telecom solutions. CSPs can quickly operationalize network infrastructure with Dell ProDeploy for NFVI. The service combines Dell factory integration and field deployment options to flexibly build the optimal NFV infrastructure specific to each customer's network. The service integrates compute, networking and telecom cloud software platforms, helping CSPs deploy workloads faster and at scale, saving them time and cost. Dell's proven processes enable 68% faster infrastructure deployment time with ProDeploy. The Dell Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab Solution Integration Platform helps CSPs and partners securely connect their lab resources to the Dell lab and infrastructure to develop and bring 5G and telecom edge services to market more quickly. With the labs interconnected to create a mini, open ecosystem, the Solution Integration Platform uses the latest DevOps techniques to conduct tests faster than manual testing, so services can be brought to market more quickly, with less risk and cost. CSPs and partners can use the new platform to conduct integrated testing and ongoing lifecycle management of Open RAN, 5G and edge services and applications. About Dell Technologies Dell Technologies helps organizations and individuals build their digital future and transform how they work, live and play. The company provides customers with the industry's broadest and most innovative technology and services portfolio for the data era.

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VMWARE

Cybercriminals Target Linux-based Systems With Ransomware and Cryptojacking Attacks

VMware | February 09, 2022

As the most common cloud operating system, Linux is a core part of digital infrastructure and is quickly becoming an attacker’s ticket into a multi-cloud environment. Current malware countermeasures are mostly focused on addressing Windows-based threats, leaving many public and private cloud deployments vulnerable to attacks that target Linux-based workloads. VMware, Inc. released a threat report titled “Exposing Malware in Linux-based Multi-Cloud Environments.” Key findings that detail how cybercriminals are using malware to target Linux-based operating systems include: Ransomware is evolving to target Linux host images used to spin workloads in virtualized environments; 89 percent of cryptojacking attacks use XMRig-related libraries; and More than half of Cobalt Strike users may be cybercriminals, or at least using Cobalt Strike illicitly. Cybercriminals are dramatically expanding their scope and adding malware that targets Linux-based operating systems to their attack toolkit in order to maximize their impact with as little effort as possible. Rather than infecting an endpoint and then navigating to a higher value target, cybercriminals have discovered that compromising a single server can deliver the massive payoff and access they’re looking for. Attackers view both public and private clouds as high-value targets due to the access they provide to critical infrastructure services and confidential data. Unfortunately, current malware countermeasures are mostly focused on addressing Windows-based threats, leaving many public and private cloud deployments vulnerable to attacks on Linux-based operating systems.” Giovanni Vigna, senior director of threat intelligence at VMware As malware targeting Linux-based operating systems increases in both volume and complexity amid a rapidly changing threat landscape, organizations must place a greater priority on threat detection. In this report, the VMware Threat Analysis Unit (TAU) analyzed the threats to Linux-based operating systems in multi-cloud environments: ransomware, cryptominers, and remote access tools. Ransomware Targets the Cloud to Inflict Maximum Damage As one of the leading breach causes for organizations, a successful ransomware attack on a cloud environment can have devastating consequences.(2) Ransomware attacks against cloud deployments are targeted, and are often combined with data exfiltration, implementing a double-extortion scheme that improves the odds of success. A new development shows that ransomware is evolving to target Linux host images used to spin workloads in virtualized environments. Attackers are now looking for the most valuable assets in cloud environments to inflict the maximum amount of damage to the target. Examples include the Defray777 ransomware family, which encrypted host images on ESXi servers, and the DarkSide ransomware family, which crippled Colonial Pipeline’s networks and caused a nationwide gasoline shortage in the U.S. Cryptojacking Attacks Use XMRig to Mine Monero Cybercriminals looking for an instant monetary reward often target cryptocurrencies using one of two approaches. Cybercriminals either include wallet-stealing functionality in malware or they monetize stolen CPU cycles to successfully mine cryptocurrencies in an attack called cryptojacking. Most cryptojacking attacks focus on mining the Monero currency (or XMR) and VMware TAU discovered that 89 percent of cryptominers used XMRig-related libraries. For this reason, when XMRig-specific libraries and modules in Linux binaries are identified, it is likely evidence of malicious cryptomining behavior. VMware TAU also observed that defense evasion is the most commonly used technique by cryptominers. Unfortunately, because cryptojacking attacks do not completely disrupt the operations of cloud environments like ransomware, they are much more difficult to detect. Cobalt Strike Is Attackers’ Remote Access Tool of Choice In order to gain control and persist within an environment, attackers look to install an implant on a compromised system that gives them partial control of the machine. Malware, webshells, and Remote Access Tools (RATs) can all be implants used by attackers in a compromised system to allow for remote access. One of the primary implants used by attackers is Cobalt Strike, a commercial penetration testing and red team tool, and its recent variant of Linux-based Vermilion Strike. Since Cobalt Strike is such a ubiquitous threat on Windows, the expansion out to the Linux-based operating system demonstrates the desire of threat actors to use readily available tools that target as many platforms as possible. VMware TAU discovered more than 14,000 active Cobalt Strike Team Servers on the Internet between February 2020 and November 2021. The total percentage of cracked and leaked Cobalt Strike customer IDs is 56 percent, meaning that more than half of Cobalt Strike users may be cybercriminals, or at least using Cobalt Strike illicitly. The fact that RATs like Cobalt Strike and Vermilion Strike have become a commodity tool for cybercriminals poses a significant threat to enterprises. “Since we conducted our analysis, even more ransomware families were observed gravitating to malware targeting Linux-based systems, with the potential for additional attacks that could leverage the Log4j vulnerabilities,” said Brian Baskin, manager of threat research at VMware. “The findings in this report can be used to better understand the nature of this malware and mitigate the growing threat that ransomware, cryptomining, and RATs have on multi-cloud environments. As attacks targeting the cloud continue to evolve, organizations should adopt a Zero Trust approach to embed security throughout their infrastructure and systematically address the threat vectors that make up their attack surface.” Methodology The VMware Threat Analysis Unit (TAU) helps protect customers from cyberattacks through innovation and world-class research. TAU is composed of malware analysts, reverse engineers, threat hunters, data scientists, and intelligence analysts at VMware. To understand how to detect and prevent attacks that bypass traditional, file-centric, prevention strategies, TAU focuses on techniques that were once the domain of advanced hackers and are now moving downstream into the commodity attack market. The team leverages real-time big data, event streaming processing, static, dynamic and behavioral analytics, and machine learning. TAU applied a composition of static and dynamic techniques to characterize various families of malware observed on Linux-based systems based on a curated dataset of metadata associated with Linux binaries. All the samples in this dataset are public and therefore they can be easily accessed using VirusTotal or various websites of major Linux distributions. TAU collected more than 11,000 benign samples from several Linux distributions, namely, Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, Fedora, CentOS, and Kali. TAU then collected a dataset of samples for two classes of threats, namely ransomware and cryptominers. Finally, TAU collected a dataset of malicious ELF binaries from VirusTotal that were used as a test malicious dataset. TAU started collecting the dataset in June 2021 and concluded in November 2021. About VMware VMware is a leading provider of multi-cloud services for all apps, enabling digital innovation with enterprise control. As a trusted foundation to accelerate innovation, VMware software gives businesses the flexibility and choice they need to build the future. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, VMware is committed to building a better future through the company’s 2030 Agenda.

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Spotlight

This document provides a general overview of the security controls implemented in various VMware Cloud™ Services offerings that run on the Amazon Web Services infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The intent is to provide readers with an understanding of how VMware approaches security for its cloud offerings, the key mechanisms and processes VMware uses to manage information security, and insight into the shared responsibility for providing security in a modern cloud computing environment.

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