Author: Alex

BEST FREE AND PAID CLOUD STORAGE PROVIDERS IN 2022

Cloud storage and its benefits.

Cloud storage is like a virtual data center that is not operated by the company using it, instead, the cloud service provider provides the facilities of the data center from far away.

In cloud storage, the user’s data is copied multiple times and stored in several data centers so that the user can access data from another data center in case of a server failure. This way, the user can still access data if there is a power outage or any hardware failures, or any major natural disasters.

To use cloud services, the user will only need to pay for the storage area it wants to apply for and for the type of service without blocking any area in the company’s premises to have access to the storage area.

Cloud services are provided to the companies through a web surface interface and the user is not required to own huge systems.

Companies having access to the cloud services do not need to worry about maintaining the data center infrastructure on a regular device or allocate an amount of budget to have data center facilities.

Stealing data and information has always been in there in every industry. It can be prevented but not entirely. To prevent the loss of entire data, companies need to have trained, quick decision-making IT professionals. Cloud servers are well equipped with IT professionals since it’s their primary service provided to their customers. Apart from that, it is not possible for individual companies to keep their update their IT infrastructure updated.

Using cloud services will reduce capital expenses for the company.

If every company uses their own IT infrastructure for data, then there will be a high consumption of energy whereas a single cloud service provider can cater data center facilities to so many companies at a time keeping the energy consumption low.

In order to use more storage companies, a company needs to contact their cloud service provider to change their subscription plan to gain more access to the storage area with just an increase in the rate to acquire the subscription.

Difference between free cloud storage and paid cloud storage.

In free cloud storage services, some famous paid cloud service providers provide cloud services for free. To upload the data, the user needs to have an internet connection.

Having free cloud storage, allows the user to have their data in backup which will be protected and can be accessed through many devices.

This is beneficial for those with less storage capacity in their devices and who don’t want to invest in a storage medium. Free cloud storage will help the user to store some of their, media and files in the cloud and create free storage space in their device. The media and file will still be accessible to the user by just using an internet service. This way, the user will be able to store important media and files and prevent having them accidentally deleted.

In free cloud service, data can be accessed from anywhere without the need to pay any charge, just sign up to the company’s account.

Although while signing up for free cloud services has the disadvantage of having access to a limited data storage space and to have more storage space, the user will need to pay for more space. 

A common thing about paid and free cloud services is that to have a better in any one of them, the user will need to purchase advanced service from the cloud service provider.

In paid cloud storage services, the providers allow the user to have more storage area and also more security, the user will be able to backup media and files from more than one device. 

Following are some cloud storage providers:

Google Cloud Free Program –

The user will get the following options:

90-day, $300 Free Trial – under this, new google cloud users or Google Maps Platforms users can avail free Google cloud and Google Maps Platform services for 90 days for trial along with $300 in free Cloud Billing Credits.

All Google Cloud users can avail free Google Cloud products like Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, and BigQuery within the specified monthly usage limits, described by Google.

To store Google Maps, Google Maps Platform provides a recurring $200 monthly credit applying towards each Maps-related Cloud Billing account created by the user.

Google One – the storage will be shared through Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.

Firstly, Google One allows its users to have access to 15 GB free. After which to have more storage space, the user will need to pay for

BASIC: $1.99 per month or $19.99 annually for 100 GB, which further includes access to google experts, an option to add family members of the user, and have benefits for an extra member but the family members are also required to live in the same country.

STANDARD: $2.99 per month or $29.99 annually for 200 GB.

This includes the same benefits as the BASIC package.

PREMIUM: $9.99 per month or $99.99 annually for 2 TB.

This includes the same benefits as the BASIC package and gives the user a VPN to use on their Android devices.

Amazon Web Services – it provides 160 cloud services. Under Free Tier services, after signing up for an account, the user avail services based upon their needs. There are some services, under Free Tier, which are free for 12 months, some services are always free whereas some have a trial period after which the user needs to purchase a membership to continue availing the services.

Microsoft Azure Free Account – when a user signs up for Azure with a free account, they get USD 200 credit for the first 30 days. It also includes two groups of services including popular services free for 12 months and other 25 services which will be always free.

Microsoft Azure has Pricing Calculator which allows potential service buyer to calculate their pricing estimates based on their existing workloads.

OneDrive: based on the potential user’s preferences, the buyer can opt for a package for home or for business.

In Microsoft 365 for family, the buyer can have a trial for a month ranging from 1 person to 6 people. In Microsoft 365 Business, the number of users depends on the type of plan.

IBM Cloud – IBM also provides storage options with always-free options or options with free trials after which the user needs to apply for services allotting a credit amount before starting the trial period.

iCloud storage: when a person signs up, the user is automatically enrolled for free 5GB of storage to keep media and files.

After using all of the 5GB storage space in iCloud, the user can upgrade to iCloud+ and also allows the user to share iCloud with their family.

Oracle: it provides a free time-limited trial to help the user explore services provided by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure products along with a few lifetime free services. The potential user will have $300 worth of cloud credits valid for 30 days.

DropBox: the free plan in this is suitable for those minimal requirements of storage since with free access, DropBox provides 2 GB of space and along with other benefits, if a user accidentally deletes a file from DropBox, the file can be restored from DropBox within 30 days.

To have more storage space with DropBox, the user can upgrade to paid plans.

Both are safe options to store personal, media, and files but a paid cloud membership is suitable for businesses required to protect more sensitive files than an individual person. That is why, free cloud servers and advised for personal use.

FACEBOOK AND THE METAVERSE: HOW DOES IT AFFECT THE FUTURE OF IT?

What is Meta-verse?

Metaverse started to become popular when Neal Stephenson used the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. It was mentioned to refer to a 3D virtual world inhabited by avatars of real people. Many science fiction media picked up the metaverse-like systems concept from Snow Crash. Still today, Stephenson’s book has been the most referenced point for metaverse supporters, as well as Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One.

In Snow Crash’s metaverse, Stephenson has shown a humorous corporation-dominated future America by telling a story of a person who is a master hacker who involves in katana fights at a virtual nightclub. Ready Player One’s virtual world named the OASIS to purely represent and imply the terms, and Cline portrays it as an almost ideal source of distraction in a horrible future.

Earlier in science fiction stories and media, the concept was tried to explain, an idea was put up to people, a topic to imagine over but now moving forward from fictional stories, samples of the metaverse are now tried to bring outside the television, trying to make it more realistic especially now that the concept is coming into gaming platform and real companies are incorporating the concept in their companies.

According to Matthew Ball, author of the extensive Metaverse Primer:

“The Metaverse is an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that support continuity of identity, objects, history, payments, and entitlements, and can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence.”

How does Metaverse work?

Augmented reality involves visual elements, sound, and other sensory stimuli onto a real-world setting to let the user experience places, or do several activities as they would have done on Earth. In comparison, virtual reality is completely simulated and brings fictional realities almost in real life. VR comprises a headset device, and users control the system.

Metaverse is a merge of the prefix “meta”, meaning beyond, and “universe”.

It is a virtual world made with similar features to earth where land, buildings, avatars, and even names can be purchased and sold by using mostly cryptocurrency. In these worlds, people can wander around with friends, enter buildings, buy goods and services, and attend events, as in real life.

The concept became more famous during the pandemic as lockdown measures and work-from-home policies pushed more people online for both business and pleasure.

Metaverse could include workplace tools, games, and community platforms.

The concept required blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and non-fungible tokens. This way new kind of decentralized digital asset can be built, owned, and monetized.

BLOCKCHAIN – it is a database that can be shared across a network of computers. These records can’t be changed easily and thus ensure that every data remains the same throughout the copies of the database. It is used to underpin cyber-currencies.

NON-FUNGIBLE TOKENS (NFTs) – these are virtual assets used for the growth in the metaverse.

it can be said that they are collectibles having intrinsic value because of their cultural significance, while others treat them as an investment, speculating on rising prices.

The metaverse has two distinct types of platforms:

FIRST – this step includes the blockchain-based metaverse, use of NFTs, and cryptocurrencies.

SECOND – this involves the creation of virtual worlds in the multiverse for virtual meetings for business or recreation. This section includes the companies with gaming platforms and several other companies which are building the metaverse platform:

ROBLOX, MICROSOFT, FACEBOOK, NVIDIA, UNITY, SNAP, AUTODESK, TENCENT, EPIC GAMES & AMAZON.

Why did Mark Zuckerberg decide to rebrand Facebook to Meta?

Mark Zuckerberg roughly mentions that the business got two different segments. One segment belonging to social apps and another for future platforms and metaverse do not belong to any of the segments. The metaverse represents both future platforms and social experiences.

So they wanted to have a new brand identity, the high-level brand identity depends on Facebook, the social media brand. And increasingly we’re doing more than that. They believe themselves to be a technology company that builds technology to help people connect with other people by taking a unique step by building technologies to enhance interaction with people.

The Facebook Company wants to have a single identity or account system like other Google, Apple but the Facebook company is confused with being a brand of social media app, which is creating a problem. The image of Facebook being a social media confuses people when they think of using the Facebook account to sign in to Quest, people get confused whether they are using a corporate account or social media account. Even after people have used Facebook accounts to log into sites, people worry if their access to the sites or device will differ if they deactivate or delete their Facebook accounts. People also worry if they log in with WhatsApp or Instagram, whether their data will get exchanged or shared over. For this, they thought to have a company that will associate with all different types of products other than any specific product. These requirements were already in the company’s conversation for months to years by now.

Metaverse is expanded to every industry. They now want to establish a relationship with different companies, creators, and developers. Metaverse will basically help the interest users not only wander in their minds but could allow them to wander around and be present in it, in the content. The user can perform several types of activities together with people which was not possible with the 2D app or webpage like dancing, exercises, etc.

According to Mark Zuckerberg from The Verge interview, metaverse delivers the clearest form of presence. According to him, the multiverse will be accessible from computers, AR, VR, mobile devices, and gaming consoles. Metaverse will help in creating an environment not only for gamers but also as a social platform. These devices will help the user to access 3D videos and experiences. This is what Facebook wants to uplift and focuses on bringing to people. It wants to bring the technology that will be used for experiencing the 3D and technology university and push ahead of the metaverse vision.

Basically, with the change of company name to Meta, it wants to show, represent its growing ambition towards metaverse.

Facebook has already mentioned having meetings for their VR devices and talking about generating employment opportunities in Europe. 

It can be seen that Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram will be seen under the same parent company.

Impact of Meta, formerly known as Facebook Company, along with the concept of the metaverse, on the future of IT.

It can be said that metaverse is a medium of contact which has been enhanced with the help of technologies. Now, to perform any action, there is a screen between us and we can’t be physically present in any location or time due to the fact that we have been interacting with tools that are based on 2D features. Metaverse will help people to be present anywhere they want to in a 3D setting. This 3D concept will be brought into people’s lives with the help of metaverse supporting devices. 

Now that Facebook has declared to be noticed by being a Meta company first and not Facebook, it plans on investing in the technologies and devices that will help in accessing metaverse like VR, AR, and even to some extent computers, mobile phones. Although these devices need to be able to be updated to be accessible.

This would in fact require a separate team of developers, creators and therefore, will have a different type of storage requirement, retrieving and sending information process which needs attention.

The introduction of the metaverse concept will affect every type of industry since it would involve every type of industry as metaverse includes virtual worlds. A person can access the world by putting on the glasses and can virtually meet, play or work. Although it is under lots of speculations, it is also in the news that metaverse may also include shopping malls, social interaction, etc.

There is no particular metaverse, every company is expected to have a different metaverse due to being separate companies.

However, the companies try to improve our experience it is necessary to see how safe are we, our data, and much privacy and security will be taken. It is necessary to be first aware of the concept than trying to have the experience without any idea which can land the person on its either good or bad side.

Metaverse is a 3D environment but over the internet which needs to be accessed with devices. The activities done in the metaverse world will have permanent effects due to synchronization. Although there are questions regarding privacy, how will the privacy be maintained? Since people are not aware, misinformation could spread. There are examples of metaverse workplaces such as Facebook’s Horizon and Microsoft Mesh. For this, companies need to have their own operating spaces within the metaverse.

533 Million Facebook Users Data Breached


Facebook is by far the largest and most popular social media platform used today. With 2.8 billion users and .84 billion daily active users, it controls nearly 59% of the social media market. With that many users, one can only imagine the amount of data produced and collected by Facebook every second. A majority of the data collected is personal information on its users. The social tech platform collects its user’s names, birthdays, phone numbers, email addresses, locations, and in some cases photo IDs. All of this information can be maliciously used if it got into the wrong hands, which is why numerous people are worried about the latest Facebook data breach. 

Microsoft Exchange Server Hack – Everything You Should Know



What happened with the Facebook Data Leak?

The most recent Facebook data leak was exposed by a user in a low-level hacking forum who published the phone numbers and personal data of hundreds of millions of Facebook users for free. The exposed data includes the personal information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries. The leaked data contains phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and, in some cases, email addresses.

The leak was discovered in January when a user in the same hacking forum advertised an automated bot that could provide phone numbers for hundreds of millions of Facebook users for a price. A Facebook spokesperson is claiming that the data was scraped because of a vulnerability that the company patched in 2019. Data scraping is a technique in which a computer program extracts data from human-readable output coming from another program. The vulnerability uncovered in 2019 allowed millions of phone numbers to be scraped from Facebook’s servers in violation of its terms of service. Facebook said that vulnerability was patched in August 2019.

However, the scraped data has now been posted on the hacking forum for free, making it available to anyone with basic data skills. The leaked data could be priceless to cybercriminals who use people’s personal information to impersonate them or scam them into handing over login credentials.

Who’s Running on AWS – Featuring Twitter



What caused the Facebook data breach?

When Facebook was made aware of the data exposed on the hacking forum, they were quick to say that the data is old from a break that occurred in 2019. Basically, they’re saying this is nothing new, the data has been out there for some time now and they patched the vulnerability in their system. In fact, the data, which first surfaced back in 2019, came from a breach that Facebook did not disclose in any significant detail at the time. Facebook never really let this data breach be publicly known. 

Uncertainty with Facebook’s explanation comes from the fact that they had a number of breaches and exposures from where the data could have come from. Here is a list of recent Facebook “data leaks” in recent years:

  • April 2019 – 540 million records exposed by a third party and disclosed by the security firm UpGuard
  • September 2019 – 419 million Facebook user records scraped from the social network by bad actors before a 2018 Facebook policy change
  • 2018 – Cambridge Analytica third-party data sharing scandal
  • 2018 – Facebook data breach that compromised access tokens and virtually all personal data from about 30 million users

Facebook eventually explained that the most recent data exploit of 533 million user accounts is a different data set that attackers created by abusing a flaw in a Facebook address book contacts import feature. Facebook says it patched the weak point in August 2019, but it’s uncertain how many times the bug was exploited before then.



How can you find out if your personal information is part of the Facebook breach?

With so much personal information on social media today, you’d expect the tech giants to have a strong grip on their data security measures. With the latest Facebook breach, a large amount of data was exposed including full names, birthdays, phone numbers, and locations. Facebook says that the data leak originated from an issue in 2019, which has since been fixed. Regardless, there’s no way to reclaim that data. A third-party website, haveibeenpwned.com, makes it easy to check if you’re data was part of the leaked information. Simply, input your email to find out.  Though 533 million Facebook accounts were included in the breach, only 2.5 million of those included emails in the stolen data. That means you’ve got less than a half-percent chance of showing up on that website. Although this data is from 2019, it could still be of value to hackers and cybercriminals like those who take part in identity theft. This should serve as a reminder to not share any personal information on social media that you don’t want a stranger to see.



HPE and NASA Launch SBC-2 into Orbit


To infinity and beyond! That’s where Microsoft and HPE are planning on taking Azure cloud computing as it heads to the International Space Station (ISS). 

On February 20, HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2 (SBC-2), launched to the ISS onboard Northrop Grumman’s robotic Cygnus cargo ship. The mission will bring edge computing, artificial intelligence capabilities, and a cloud connection to orbit on an integrated platform. Spaceborne Computer-2 will be installed on the ISS for the next two to three years. It’s hoped the edge computing system will enable astronauts to eliminate latency associated with sending data to and from Earth, tackle research, and gain insights immediately for real-time projects.

Meet Summit: The IBM Supercomputer

HPE anticipates the supercomputer to be used for experiments such as processing medical imaging and DNA sequencing, to unlocking key insights from volumes of remote sensors and satellites. Also, in mind for HPE when the IT equipment was delivered to the ISS was whether non-IT-trained astronauts could install it and connect it up to the power, the cooling, and the network. If that went well, the next question was whether it would work in space or not.

This isn’t NASA’s first rodeo when it comes to connecting cloud computing services to the ISS. In 2019, Amazon Web Services participated in a demonstration that used cloud-based processing to distribute live video streams from space. Surprisingly, it isn’t HPE’s first time either. In 2017, they sent up its first Spaceborne Computer, which demonstrated supercomputer-level processing speeds over a teraflop. Spaceborne computing has come a long way over the years, and now is a perfect time for the Microsoft-HPE collaboration. Recently, Microsoft extended its cloud footprint to the final frontier with Azure Space.



Microsoft Support HPE’s Spaceborne Computer with Azure

Microsoft and HPE are partnering to bring together Azure and the Spaceborne Computer-2 supercomputer, making it the ultimate edge-computing device. Microsoft and HPE said they’ll be working together to connect Azure to HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2. The pair are touting the partnership as bringing compute and AI capabilities to the ultimate edge computing device.

Cloud Computing is Out of This World: Microsoft and SpaceX Launch Azure Space

Originally, HP and NASA partnered to build the Spaceborne Computer, described as an off-the-shelf supercomputer. The HPE Spaceborne Computer-2 is designed to simulate computation loads during space travel via data-intensive applications. By handling processing in space, we will be able to gain new information and research advancements in areas never seen before. The HP-Microsoft Spaceborne announcement is an expansion of Microsoft’s Azure Space initiative. Azure Space is a set of products, plus newly announced partnerships designed to position Azure as a key player in the space- and satellite-related connectivity/compute part of the cloud market.

Spaceborne Computer-2 is purposely engineered for harsh edge environments. Combine the power of the edge with the power of the cloud, SBC-2 will be connected to Microsoft Azure via NASA and HPE ground stations. HPE and Microsoft are gauging SBC-2’s edge computing capabilities and evolving machine-language models to handle a variety of research challenges. They are hopeful that the new supercomputer can eventually aid in anticipation of dust storms that could prevent future Mars missions and how to use AI-enhanced ultrasound imaging to make in-space medical diagnoses. 

Though SBC-2 will be used for research projects for two to three years, HPE and the ISS National Lab are taking requests. Do you have something you’d like to see measured in space? Let them know!


Nvidia Takes Shots at Crypto Miners – Limits GPU Hash Rates


Boy oh boy, there is a conflict developing between avid gamers and crypto-miners, and Nvidia is coming to the rescue. Nvidia, the chip company known for its gaming-friendly graphical processing units (GPUs) is in a pickle as crypto-miners are disrupting the market by hoarding the gaming chips for mining as opposed to gaming as they were intended. Of course, the massive increase in GPU sales is great for Nvidia, so why are they trying to settle the beef? It turns out that the company’s true consumers, the gamers, are feeling annoyed that the powerful chips are constantly out of stock.
Prior to the launch of its own cryptocurrency chip, Nvidia has been struggling with shortages of its gaming chips, which were being used to mine cryptocurrency. The better processing power of Nvidia’s GPUs has made the high-end processors target crypto-mining entrepreneurs, which has negatively impacted past Nvidia’s chip rollouts. That means that there’s usually a run on the chips when they first launch, as crypto-enthusiasts try to muscle out the actual target audience, the gamers. GPUs are good at performing cryptographic calculations, like computing hashes at high speed. This sort of algorithm is used at the heart of many cryptocurrency mining calculations.




Nvidia said it was taking an important step to help ensure GPUs end up in the hands of gamers with its GeForce RTX 3060 gaming processor launching February 25. Nvidia is programming the RTX 3060 software drivers to detect cryptocurrency mining algorithms and limiting efficiency, or hash rate, by about 50%, discouraging crypto-miners from buying Nvidia’s gaming GPUs.



Nvidia is limiting the hash rate on all GPU’s going forward


Nvidia released its highly sought-after GeForce RTX 3060 chipset, which includes a bonus for gamers foiling the crypto-mining agenda. Industry experts admire the effort of Nvidia to stay true to its consumer base but are uncertain the move will take the added pressure off of gamers and their setups. The GeForce RTX3060 software drivers have been designed to find specific attributes of the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm, and limit the crypto-mining efficiency, or hash rate, by around 50%. It’s not that the performance of the chipset has been lowered, instead, the drivers will simply perform some form of throttling of Ethereum-specific use. Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency, behind the infamous Bitcoin.

In a nutshell, Nvidia will attempt to identify the code that is running and enact a denial-of-service action against software it thinks is trying to do Ethereum calculations on the GPU. This appears to be the most logical method given that calculations used for mining Ethereum have a unique signature that the drivers can easily identify. Nvidia’s anti-crypto drivers work by detecting memory usage that looks like an Ethereum algorithm and cutting the hashing speed in half.


Nvidia introduces a new crypto mining GPU


Although it seems as if Nvidia is favoring their loyal fan base of gamers, crypto miners need not fret. They’re also rolling out a chip that crypto-miners can call their very own. Nvidia announced a Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) product line to address the specific needs of Ethereum mining. CMP products are optimized for the best mining performance and efficiency. Even better, CMP products don’t meet the specifications required of a GeForce GPU, so they won’t affect the availability of GeForce GPUs to gamers. Overall fascination with Ethereum has soared in the past month due to the rapid rise in the value of Bitcoin. When Bitcoin appreciates it tends to lift other cryptocurrencies along with it. The recent rise in crypto-mania has resulted in the Nvidia chip shortage as miners are buying their powerful GPUs in bulk. The current lack of Nvidia’s graphics cards is intensified by persistent demand from miners. The consequence has been empty virtual and retail shelves, in addition to absurdly inflated pricing.

That’s where Nvidia’s CMP products will benefit. The key difference between the CMP products and typical gaming cards is that CMP products lack video outputs. Crypto miners seldom need displays attached to their systems. Usually, they plug multiple GPUs into a rig and manage everything through a web dashboard. Cryptocurrency mining is all about computing performance. If companies like Nvidia can quickly bring crypto mining cards to market, they’re all going to be readily consumed by small home operations and massive crypto mining farms.


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.

TOP 5 VPN’S OF 2021

In today’s working environment, no one knows when remote work will be going away, if at all.  This makes remote VPN access all the more important for protecting your privacy and security online. As the landscape for commercial VPNs continues to grow, it can be a daunting task to sort through the options to find the best VPN to meet your particular needs. That’s exactly what inspired us to write this article. We’ve put together a list of the five best and most reliable VPN options for you.

What is a VPN and why do you need one?

A VPN is short for a virtual private network. A VPN is what allows users to enjoy online privacy and obscurity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. A VPN disguises your IP address, so your online actions are virtually untraceable. More importantly, a VPN creates secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than a secured Wi-Fi hotspot can.

Think about all the times you’ve read emails while sitting at the coffee shop or checking the balance in your bank account while eating a restaurant. Unless you were logged into a private network that required a password, any data transmitted on your device could be exposed. Accessing the web on an unsecured Wi-Fi network means you could be exposing your private information to nearby observers. That’s why a VPN, should be a necessity for anyone worried about their online security and privacy. The encryption and privacy that a VPN offers, protect your online searches, emails, shopping, and even bill paying. 

Take a look at our top 5 server picks for 2021.

Our Top 5 List of VPN’s for 2021

ExpressVPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 30,000
  • Number of servers: 3,000+ in 160 locations
  • Number of simultaneous connections: 5
  • Country/jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
  • 94-plus countries

ExpressVPN is powered by TrustedServer technology, which was built to ensure that there are never any logs of online activities. In the privacy world, ExpressVPN has a solid track record, having faced a server removal by authorities which proved their zero-log policy to be true. ExpressVPN offers a useful kill switch feature, which prevents network data from leaking outside of its secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails. ExpressVPN also offers support of bitcoin as a payment method, which adds an additional layer of privacy during checkout.

Protect your data using an airgap with LTO Tape: Read the Blog

Surfshark

  • Number of servers: 3,200+
  • Number of server locations: 65
  • Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands

Surfshark’s network is smaller than some, but the VPN service makes up for it with the features and speeds it offers. The biggest benefit it offers is unlimited device support, meaning users don’t have to worry about how many devices they have on or connected. It also offers antimalware, ad-blocking, and tracker-blocking as part of its software. Surfshark has a solid range of app support, running on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Fire TV, and routers. Supplementary devices such as game consoles can be set up for Surfshark through DNS settings. Surfshark also offers three special modes designed for those who want to bypass restrictions and hide their online footprints. Camouflage Mode hides user’s VPN activity so the ISP doesn’t know they’re using a VPN. Multihop jumps the connection through multiple countries to hide any trail. Finally, NoBorders Mode “allows users to successfully use Surfshark in restrictive regions.

NordVPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 5,000
  • Number of servers: 5,200+ servers
  • Number of server locations: 62
  • Country/jurisdiction: Panama
  • 62 countries

NordVPN is one of the most established brands in the VPN market. It offers a large concurrent connection count, with six simultaneous connections through its network, where nearly all other providers offer five or fewer. NordVPN also offers a dedicated IP option, for those looking for a different level of VPN connection. They also offer a kill switch feature, which prevents network data from leaking outside of its secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails. While NordVPN has had a spotless reputation for a long time, a recent report emerged that one of its rented servers was accessed without authorization back in 2018. Nord’s actions following the discovery included multiple security audits, a bug bounty program, and heavier investments in server security. The fact that the breach was limited in nature and involved no user-identifying information served to further prove that NordVPN keeps no logs of user activity. 

Looking for even more security? Find out how to set up a Zero Trust Network here.

IPVanish

  • Number of IP addresses: 40,000+
  • Number of servers: 1,300
  • Number of server locations: 60
  • Number of simultaneous connections: 10
  • Country/jurisdiction: US

A huge benefit that IPVanish offers its users is an easy-to-use platform, which is ideal for users who are interested in learning how to understand what a VPN does behind the scenes. Its multiplatform flexibility is also perfect for people focused on finding a Netflix-friendly VPN. A special feature of IPVanish is the VPN’s support of Kodi, the open-source media streaming app. The company garners praise for its latest increase from five to ten simultaneous connections. Similar to other VPNs on the list, IPVanish has a kill switch, which is a must for anyone serious about remaining anonymous online. 

Norton Secure VPN

  • Number of countries: 29
  • Number of servers: 1,500 (1,200 virtual)
  • Number of server locations: 200 in 73 cities
  • Country/jurisdiction: US

Norton has long been known for its excellence in security products, and now offers a VPN service. However, it is limited in its service offerings as it does not support P2P, Linux, routers, or set-top boxes. It does offer Netflix and streaming compatibility. Norton Secure VPN speeds are comparable to other mid-tier VPNs in the same segment. Norton Secure VPN is available on four platforms: Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android. It is one of the few VPN services to offer live 24/7 customer support and 60-day money- back guarantee.

How To Set Up A Zero-Trust Network

How to set up a zero-trust network

In the past, IT and cybersecurity professionals tackled their work with a strong focus on the network perimeter. It was assumed that everything within the network was trusted, while everything outside the network was a possible threat. Unfortunately, this bold method has not survived the test of time, and organizations now find themselves working in a threat landscape where it is possible that an attacker already has one foot in the door of their network. How did this come to be? Over time cybercriminals have gained entry through a compromised system, vulnerable wireless connection, stolen credentials, or other ways.

The best way to avoid a cyber-attack in this new sophisticated environment is by implementing a zero-trust network philosophy. In a zero-trust network, the only assumption that can be made is that no user or device is trusted until they have proved otherwise. With this new approach in mind, we can explore more about what a zero-trust network is and how you can implement one in your business.

Interested in knowing the top 10 ITAD tips for 2021? Read the blog.

Image courtesy of Cisco

What is a zero-trust network and why is it important?

A zero-trust network or sometimes referred to as zero-trust security is an IT security model that involves mandatory identity verification for every person and device trying to access resources on a private network. There is no single specific technology associated with this method, instead, it is an all-inclusive approach to network security that incorporates several different principles and technologies.

Normally, an IT network is secured with the castle-and-moat methodology; whereas it is hard to gain access from outside the network, but everyone inside the network is trusted. The challenge we currently face with this security model is that once a hacker has access to the network, they have free to do as they please with no roadblocks stopping them.

The original theory of zero-trust was conceived over a decade ago, however, the unforeseen events of this past year have propelled it to the top of enterprise security plans. Businesses experienced a mass influx of remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that organizations’ customary perimeter-based security models were fractured.  With the increase in remote working, an organization’s network is no longer defined as a single entity in one location. The network now exists everywhere, 24 hours a day. 

If businesses today decide to pass on the adoption of a zero-trust network, they risk a breach in one part of their network quickly spreading as malware or ransomware. There have been massive increases in the number of ransomware attacks in recent years. From hospitals to local government and major corporations; ransomware has caused large-scale outages across all sectors. Going forward, it appears that implementing a zero-trust network is the way to go. That’s why we put together a list of things you can do to set up a zero-trust network.

These were the top 5 cybersecurity trends from 2020, and what we have to look forward to this year.

Image courtesy of Varonis

Proper Network Segmentation

Proper network segmentation is the cornerstone of a zero-trust network. Systems and devices must be separated by the types of access they allow and the information that they process. Network segments can act as the trust boundaries that allow other security controls to enforce the zero-trust attitude.

Improve Identity and Access Management

A necessity for applying zero-trust security is a strong identity and access management foundation. Using multifactor authentication provides added assurance of identity and protects against theft of individual credentials. Identify who is attempting to connect to the network. Most organizations use one or more types of identity and access management tools to do this. Users or autonomous devices must prove who or what they are by using authentication methods. 

Least Privilege and Micro Segmentation

Least privilege applies to both networks and firewalls. After segmenting the network, cybersecurity teams must lock down access between networks to only traffic essential to business needs. If two or more remote offices do not need direct communication with each other, that access should not be granted. Once a zero-trust network positively identifies a user or their device, it must have controls in place to grant application, file, and service access to only what is needed by them. Depending on the software or machines being used, access control can be based on user identity, or incorporate some form of network segmentation in addition to user and device identification. This is known as micro segmentation. Micro segmentation is used to build highly secure subsets within a network where the user or device can connect and access only the resources and services it needs. Micro segmentation is great from a security standpoint because it significantly reduces negative effects on infrastructure if a compromise occurs. 

Add Application Inspection to the Firewall

Cybersecurity teams need to add application inspection technology to their existing firewalls, ensuring that traffic passing through a connection carries appropriate content. Contemporary firewalls go far beyond the simple rule-based inspection that they previously have. 

Record and Investigate Security Incidents

A great security system involves vision, and vision requires awareness. Cybersecurity teams can only do their job effectively if they have a complete view and awareness of security incidents collected from systems, devices, and applications across the organization. Using a security information and event management program provides analysts with a centralized view of the data they need.

Image courtesy of Cloudfare
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