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Cyber Criminals Attack Nearly 10,000 Microsoft Customers

“ElectionGuard” is free and open-source and will be available through the repository GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) later this year

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Microsoft has notified nearly 10,000 customers in the past year who were targeted or compromised by nation-state attacks originating from three countries — Iran, North Korea and Russia.

According to Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President for Consumer Security and Trust at Microsoft, 84 per cent of these attacks targeted its enterprise customers, and about 16 per cent targeted consumer personal email accounts.

“While many of these attacks are unrelated to the democratic process, this data demonstrates the significant extent to which nation-states continue to rely on cyber attacks as a tool to gain intelligence, influence geopolitics or achieve other objectives,” Burt said in a blog post late on Wednesday.

The company has seen extensive activity from the actors it calls Holmium and Mercury operating from Iran, Thallium operating from North Korea, and two actors operating from Russia it calls Yttrium and Strontium.

“This data has been compiled by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center which works every day to track these global threats,” said Burt.

Since the launch of Microsoft “AccountGuard” last August, the company has uncovered attacks specifically targeting organisations that are fundamental to democracy.

“We have steadily expanded AccountGuard, our threat notification service for political campaigns, parties, and democracy-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to include 26 countries across four continents.”

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FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Microsoft has made 781 notifications of nation-state attacks targeting organisations participating in AccountGuard.

This data shows that democracy-focused organisations in the US should be particularly concerned as 95 per cent of these attacks have targeted US-based organisations. Many of the democracy-focused attacks target NGOs and think tanks.

“As we head into the 2020 elections, we anticipate that we will see attacks targeting US election systems, political campaigns or NGOs that work closely with campaigns,” warned Microsoft.

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy Note May not Feature Snapdragon 855 Plus Chip

The company demonstrated the first voting system running Microsoft ElectionGuard technology at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, on Wednesday.

“ElectionGuard can enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting. It is also possible to make voting more accessible for people with disabilities and more affordable for local governments while increasing security,” said Burt.

“ElectionGuard” is free and open-source and will be available through the repository GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) later this year. (IANS)

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Microsoft Knockout: Why AWS CEO Must not Lose His Cool

Currently, 7,000 government agencies, 10,000 academic institutions and 25,000 nonprofits are using various AWS services worldwide

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

BY NISHANT ARORA

As the CEO of a $36 billion enterprise that leads the global infrastructure Cloud market with over 175 services — more than any other Cloud vendor — Andy Jassy is deeply hurt at the Microsoft’s $10 billion Pentagon Cloud win and is leaving no stone unturned to criticise the company, despite knowing the fact that a “significant political interference” killed the chances of Amazon Web Services (AWS) which was a favourite to seal the deal.

At the AWS “re: Invent” conference attended by over 60,000 people in Las Vegas last week, Jassy went after the Satya Nadella-run company at several occasions, criticising its licensing practices and making a pitch for open-source Linux operating system over Windows.

Limiting the attack on its old Cloud rival Oracle in just one slide during his keynote presentation, Jassy’s target was Microsoft all over, and the aim was to begin strides towards $3.7 trillion enterprise IT market where Microsoft has a lion’s share.

“If you look at Windows, 57 per cent of Windows in the Cloud runs on AWS operating system rather than Azure. You see this return to the ways of old from Microsoft where they’re not prioritising what matters to you guys, the customers. People are sick and tired of being pawns in this game,” said the AWS CEO.

Surprisingly, Jassy did not attack Microsoft Azure directly but its Windows and SQL Server software in the Cloud using existing licenses.

Later in the news conference, he again touched upon the subject and slammed Microsoft, this time clearly citing “significant political interference” in the US government’s decision to award the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defence Infrastructure) contract to Microsoft.

If we look at the facts, there is not stopping Windows.

More than four years after its release, Windows 10 has passed 50 per cent in market share, meaning every other desktop computer is now running Microsoft’s latest operating system.

Windows (including older versions) has a massive 87.8 per cent global share while Linux has a poor 1.72 per cent market share worldwide. Mac OS has over 10 per cent market share globally.

Microsoft has revealed that there were more than 900 million devices running on Windows 10 and the company is edging closer to its 1 billion mark by 2020.

Riding on its commercial Cloud and Office business, Microsoft posted $33.1 billion in revenue with $10.7 billion in net income (an increase of 21 per cent) for its first quarter of fiscal year 2020.

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AWS is the Cloud arm of retail giant Amazon. Pixabay

Revenue in Intelligent Cloud was $10.8 billion and increased 27 per cent. Server products and cloud services revenue increased 30 per cent, driven by Azure revenue growth of 59 per cent.

Office Commercial products and cloud services revenue increased 13 per cent, driven by Office 365 Commercial revenue growth of 25 per cent.

On the other hand, Jassy thinks that in 2020, about 80 per cent of the workloads deployed will be Linux workloads.

“We see a lot of monetisation decisions around moving Windows to Linux. And this has been happening for several years now. There’s such a vibrant community around Linux and we’re finding that all the features and all the security things happen much quicker than with OS like Windows,” Jassy told the gathering.

The truth is: His public rant against Microsoft’s enterprise IT business does not hold good as it is way ahead in this business than AWS.

AWS’s forte is Cloud and related domains where Microsoft Azure is fast growing.

AWS now spans 69 Availability Zones within 22 geographic regions around the world and has announced plans for 13 more Availability Zones and four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Italy, South Africa and Spain.

According to Gartner’s Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market segment share globally, AWS is far ahead in this segment with 47.8 per cent share, followed by Microsoft at 15.5 per cent, Alibaba at 7.7 per cent and Google at a mere 4 per cent.

Also Read: Upcoming iPhone SE 2 Likely to be Called as ‘iPhone 9’

Currently, 7,000 government agencies, 10,000 academic institutions and 25,000 nonprofits are using various AWS services worldwide.

Jassy just needs to be doing where he is good at: Reinventing new Cloud strategies.

Entering OS or other business verticals where Microsoft is a distinguished leader won’t serve any purpose, that too because one big Cloud deal has been lost owing to “a sitting US President who is willing to share openly his disdain for a company and the leader of that company” and not because Microsoft was a better option than AWS. (IANS)