Month: February 2021

NHL Partners with AWS (Amazon) for Cloud Infrastructure

NHL Powered by AWS

“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” This was ABC sportscaster Al Michaels’ quote “heard ’round the world” after the U.S. National Team beat the Soviet National Team at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games to advance to the medal round. One of the greatest sports moments ever that lives in infamy among hockey fans is readily available for all of us to enjoy as many times as we want thanks to modern technology. Now the National Hockey League (NHL) is expanding their reach with technology as they announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS will become the official cloud storage partner of the league, making sure all historical moments like the Miracle on Ice are never forgotten.

The NHL will rely on AWS exclusively in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning as they look to automate video processing and content delivery in the cloud. AWS will also allow them to control the Puck and Player Tracking (PPT) System to better capture the details of gameplay. Hockey fans everywhere are in for a treat!

What is the PPT System?

The NHL has been working on developing the PPT system since 2013. Once it is installed in every team’s arena in the league, the innovative system will require several antennas in the rafters of the arenas, tracking sensors placed on every player in the game, and tracking sensors built into the hockey pucks. The hockey puck sensors can be tracked up to 2,000 times per second to yield a set of coordinates that can then turn into new results and analytics.

The Puck Stops Here! Learn how the NHL’s L.A. Kings use LTO Tape to build their archive.

How Will AWS Change the Game?

AWS’s state-of-the-art technology and services will provide us with capabilities to deliver analytics and insights that highlight the speed and skill of our game to drive deeper fan engagement. For example, a hockey fan in Russia could receive additional stats and camera angles for a major Russian player. For international audiences that could be huge. Eventually, personalized feeds could be possible for viewers who would be able to mix and match various audio and visual elements. 

The NHL will also build a video platform on AWS to store video, data, and related applications into one central source that will enable easier search and retrieval of archival video footage. Live broadcasts will have instant access to NHL content and analytics for airing and licensing, ultimately enhancing broadcast experiences for every viewer. Also, Virtual Reality experiences, Augmented Reality-powered graphics, and live betting feeds are new services that can be added to video feeds.

As part of the partnership, Amazon Machine Learning Solutions will cooperate with the league to use its tech for in-game video and official NHL data. The plan is to convert the data into advanced game analytics and metrics to further engage fans. The ability for data to be collected, analyzed, and distributed as fast as possible was a key reason why the NHL has partnered with AWS.

The NHL plans to use AWS Elemental Media to develop and manage cloud-based HD and 4K video content that will provide a complete view of the game to NHL officials, coaches, players, and fans. When making a crucial game-time decision on a penalty call the referees will have multi-angle 4k video and analytics to help them make the correct call on the ice. According to Amazon Web Services, the system will encode, process, store, and transmit game footage from a series of camera angles to provide continuous video feeds that capture plays and events outside the field of view of traditional cameras.

The NHL and AWS plan to roll out the new game features slowly throughout the next coming seasons, making adjustments along the way to enhance the fan experience. As one of the oldest and toughest sports around, hockey will start to have a new sleeker look. Will all the data teams will be able to collect, we should expect a faster, stronger, more in-depth game. Do you believe in miracles? Hockey fans sure do!

Open Source Software

Open-source Software (OSS)

Open-source software often referred to as (OSS), is a type of computer software in which source code is released under a license. The copyright holder of the software grants users the rights to use, study, change and distribute the software as they choose. Originating from the context of software development, the term open-source describes something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible. Nowadays, “open-source” indicates a wider set of values known as “the open-source way.” Open-source projects or initiatives support and observe standards of open exchange, mutual contribution, transparency, and community-oriented development.

What is the source code of OSS?

The source code associated with open-source software is the part of the software that most users don’t ever see. The source code refers to the code that the computer programmers can modify to change how the software works. Programmers who have access to the source code can develop that program by adding features to it or fix bugs that don’t allow the software to work correctly.

If you’re going to use OSS, you may want to consider also using a VPN. Here are our top picks for VPNs in 2021.

Examples of Open-source Software

For the software to be considered open-source, its source code must be freely available to its users. This allows its users the ability to modify it and distribute their versions of the program. The users also have the power to give out as many copies of the original program as they want. Anyone can use the program for any purpose; there are no licensing fees or other restrictions on the software. 

Linux is a great example of an open-source operating system. Anyone can download Linux, create as many copies as they want, and offer them to friends. Linux can be installed on an infinite number of computers. Users with more knowledge of program development can download the source code for Linux and modify it, creating their customized version of that program. 

Below is a list of the top 10 open-source software programs available in 2021.

  1. LibreOffice
  2. VLC Media Player
  3. GIMP
  4. Shotcut
  5. Brave
  6. Audacity
  7. KeePass
  8. Thunderbird
  9. FileZilla
  10. Linux

Setting up Linux on a server? Find the best server for your needs with our top 5.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Open-source Software

Similar to any other software on the market, open-source software has its pros and cons. Open-source software is typically easier to get than proprietary software, resulting in increased use. It has also helped to build developer loyalty as developers feel empowered and have a sense of ownership of the end product. 

Open-source software is usually a more flexible technology, quicker to innovation, and more reliable due to the thousands of independent programmers testing and fixing bugs of the software on a 24/7 basis. It is said to be more flexible because modular systems allow programmers to build custom interfaces or add new abilities to them. The quicker innovation of open-source programs is the result of teamwork among a large number of different programmers. Furthermore, open-source is not reliant on the company or author that originally created it. Even if the company fails, the code continues to exist and be developed by its users. 

Also, lower costs of marketing and logistical services are needed for open-source software. It is a great tool to boost a company’s image, including its commercial products. The OSS development approach has helped produce reliable, high-quality software quickly and at a bargain price. A 2008 report by the Standish Group stated that the adoption of open-source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion per year for consumers. 

On the flip side, an open-source software development process may lack well-defined stages that are usually needed. These stages include system testing and documentation, both of which may be ignored. Skipping these stages has mainly been true for small projects. Larger projects are known to define and impose at least some of the stages as they are a necessity of teamwork. 

Not all OSS projects have been successful either. For example, SourceXchange and Eazel both failed miserably. It is also difficult to create a financially strong business model around the open-source concept. Only technical requirements may be satisfied and not the ones needed for market profitability. Regarding security, open-source may allow hackers to know about the weaknesses or gaps of the software more easily than closed source software. 

Benefits for Users of OSS

The most obvious benefit of open-source software is that it can be used for free. Let’s use the example of Linux above. Unlike Windows, users can install or distribute as many copies of Linux as they want, with limitations. Installing Linux for free can be especially useful for servers. If a user wants to set up a virtualized cluster of servers, they can easily duplicate a single Linux server. They don’t have to worry about licensing and how many requests of Linux they’re authorized to operate.

An open-source program is also more flexible, allowing users to modify their own version to an interface that works for them. When a Linux desktop introduces a new desktop interface that some users aren’t supporters of, they can modify it to their liking. Open-source software also allows developers to “be their own creator” and design their software. Did you know that Witness Android and Chrome OS, are operating systems built on Linux and other open-source software? The core of Apple’s OS X was built on open-source code, too. When users can manipulate the source code and develop software tailored to their needs, the possibilities are truly endless.

Malvertising Simply Explained

What is Malvertising?

Malvertising (a combination of the two words “malicious and advertising”) is a type of cyber tactic that attempts to spread malware through online advertisements. This malicious attack typically involves injecting malicious or malware-laden advertisements into legitimate online advertising networks and websites. The code then redirects users to malicious websites, allowing hackers to target the users. In the past, reputable websites such as The New York Times Online, The London Stock Exchange, Spotify, and The Atlantic, have been victims of malvertising. Due to the advertising content being implanted into high-profile and reputable websites, malvertising provides cybercriminals a way to push their attacks to web users who might not otherwise see the ads because of firewalls or malware protection.

Online advertising can be a pivotal source of income for websites and internet properties. With such high demand, online networks have become extensive in to reach large online audiences. The online advertising network involves publisher sites, ad exchanges, ad servers, retargeting networks, and content delivery networks.  Malvertising takes advantage of these pathways and uses them as a dangerous tool that requires little input from its victims.

Protect your business’s data by setting up a zero-trust network. Find out how by reading the blog.

How Does Malvertising Get Online?

There are several approaches a cybercriminal might use, but the result is to get the user to download malware or direct the user to a malicious server. The most common strategy is to submit malicious ads to third-party online ad vendors. If the vendor approves the ad, the seemingly innocent ad will get served through any number of sites the vendor is working with. Online vendors are aware of malvertising and actively working to prevent it. That is why it’s important to only work with trustworthy, reliable vendors for any online ad services.

What is the Difference Between Malvertising and Adware?

As expected, Malvertising can sometimes be confused with adware. Where Malvertising is malicious code intentionally placed in ads, adware is a program that runs on a user’s computer. Adware is usually installed hidden inside a package that also contains legitimate software or lands on the machine without the knowledge of the user. Adware displays unwanted advertising, redirects search requests to advertising websites, and mines data about the user to help target or serve advertisements.

Some major differences between malvertising and adware include:

  • Malvertising is a form of malicious code deployed on a publisher’s web page, whereas adware is only used to target individual users.
  • Malvertising only affects users viewing an infected webpage, while Adware operates continuously on a user’s computer.

Solarwinds was the biggest hack of 2020. Learn more about how you may have been affected.

What Are Some Examples of Malvertising?

The problem with malvertising is that it is so difficult to spot. Frequently circulated by the ad networks we trust, companies like Spotify and Forbes have both suffered as a result of malvertising campaigns that infected their users and visitors with malware. Some more recent examples of malvertising are RoughTed and KS Clean. A malvertising campaign first reported in 2017, RoughTed was particularly significant because it was able to bypass ad-blockers. It was also able to evade many anti-virus protection programs by dynamically creating new URLs. This made it harder to track and deny access to the malicious domains it was using to spread itself.

Disguised as malicious adware contained or hidden within a real mobile app, KS Clean targeted victims through malvertising ads that would download malware the moment a user clicked on an ad. The malware would silently download in the background.  The only indication that anything was off was an alert appearing on the user’s mobile device saying they had a security issue, prompting the user to upgrade the app to solve the problem. When the user clicks on ‘OK’, the installation finishes, and the malware is given administrative privileges. These administrative privileges permitted the malware to drive unlimited pop-up ads on the user’s phone, making them almost impossible to disable or uninstall.

How Can Users Prevent Malvertising?

While organizations should always take a strong position against any instances of unwarranted attacks, malvertising should high on the priority list for advertising channels. Having a network traffic analysis in the firewall can help to identify suspicious activity before malware has a chance to infect the user.  

Some other tips for preventing malvertising attacks include the following:

  • Employee training is the best way to form a proactive company culture that is aware of cyber threats and the latest best practices for preventing them. 
  • Keep all systems and software updated to include the latest patches and safest version.
  • Only work with trustworthy, reliable online advertising vendors.
  • Use online ad-blockers to help prevent malicious pop-up ads from opening a malware download.
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