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  1. IBM makes the Power Series chips, and as part of that has open-sourced some of the underlying technologies to encourage wider use of these chips. The open-source pieces have been part of the OpenPower Foundation. Today, the company announced it was moving the foundation under The Linux Foundation, and while it was at it, announced it was open-sourcing several other important bits. Ken King, general manager for OpenPower at IBM, says that at this point in his organization’s evolution, they wanted to move it under the auspices of the Linux Foundation . “We are taking the OpenPower Foundation, and we are putting it as an entity or project underneath The Linux Foundation with the mindset that we are now bringing more of an open governance approach and open governance principles to the foundation,” King told TechCrunch. But IBM didn’t stop there. It also announced that it was open-sourcing some of the technical underpinnings of the Power Series chip to make it easier for developers and engineers to build on top of the technology. Perhaps most importantly, the company is open-sourcing the Power Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). These are “the definitions developers use for ensuring hardware and software work together on Power,” the company explained. King sees open-sourcing this technology as an important step for a number of reasons around licensing and governance. “The first thing is that we are taking the ability to be able to implement what we’re licensing, the ISA instruction set architecture, for others to be able to implement on top of that instruction set royalty free with patent rights,” he explained. The company is also putting this under an open governance workgroup at the OpenPower Foundation. This matters to open-source community members because it provides a layer of transparency that might otherwise be lacking. What that means in practice is that any changes will be subject to a majority vote, so long as the changes meet compatibility requirements, King said. Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, says that making all of this part of the Linux Foundation open-source community could drive more innovation. “Instead of a very, very long cycle of building an application and working separately with hardware and chip designers, because all of this is open, you’re able to quickly build your application, prototype it with hardware folks, and then work with a service provider or a company like IBM to take it to market. So there’s not tons of layers in between the actual innovation and value captured by industry in that cycle,” Zemlin explained. In addition, IBM made several other announcements around open-sourcing other Power Chip technologies designed to help developers and engineers customize and control their implementations of Power chip technology. “IBM will also contribute multiple other technologies including a softcore implementation of the Power ISA, as well as reference designs for the architecture-agnostic Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI) and the Open Memory Interface (OMI). The OpenCAPI and OMI technologies help maximize memory bandwidth between processors and attached devices, critical to overcoming performance bottlenecks for emerging workloads like AI,” the company said in a statement. The softcore implementation of the Power ISA, in particular, should give developers more control and even enable them to build their own instruction sets, Hugh Blemings, executive director of the OpenPower Foundation explained. “They can now actually try crafting their own instruction sets, and try out new ways of the accelerated data processes and so forth at a lower level than previously possible,” he said. The company is announcing all of this today at the The Linux Foundation Open Source Summit and OpenPower Summit in San Diego. Source
  2. Managed services and software optimized for Red Hat OpenShift and Linux aimed at helping enterprises move to the cloud. Image: IBM CEO Ginni Rometty with Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst It's only been three weeks since IBM closed its $34 billion takeover of Red Hat, and that was as long as the company was willing to wait until it announced its first joint products with the new subsidiary. According to IBM, it has already "transformed its software portfolio to be cloud-native and optimized it to run on Red Hat OpenShift." The new Cloud Paks are containerized software, specialized by workload and optimized to run on Red Hat's implementation of the open source container application platform OpenShift. They are meant to help enterprises move to the cloud. IBM also announced Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Cloud as a fully managed service and Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Z and LinuxONE for its mainframe customers. In addition, it's offering consulting and technology services for Red Hat, utilizing what it says is "one of the world's largest teams of Red Hat-certified consultants and more than 80,000 cloud application services practitioners" to help its customers move to cloud environments and maintain their cloud infrastructures once the move is made. "Red Hat is unlocking innovation with Linux-based technologies, including containers and Kubernetes, which have become the fundamental building blocks of hybrid cloud environments," Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst said in a statement. "This open hybrid cloud foundation is what enables the vision of any app, anywhere, anytime. Combined with IBM's strong industry expertise and supported by a vast ecosystem of passionate developers and partners, customers can create modern apps with the technologies of their choice and the flexibility to deploy in the best environment for the app -- whether that is on-premises or across multiple public clouds." The first five Cloud Paks out of the gate are: Cloud Pak for Data, which the company says will simplify and automate deriving insights from data while providing an open and extensible architecture to virtualize data for AI faster. Cloud Pak for Applications to help businesses modernize, build, deploy, and run applications. Cloud Pak for Integration of apps, data, cloud services, and APIs. Cloud Pak for Automation to help transform business processes, decisions, and content. Cloud Pak for Multicloud Management to provide multicloud visibility, governance, and automation. According to IBM, the Cloud Paks provide a common operating model and common set of services with a unified and intuitive dashboard. "IBM is unleashing its software from the data center to fuel the enterprise workload race to the cloud," Arvind Krishna, IBM's senior VP of cloud and cognitive software, said in a statement. "This will further position IBM the industry leader in the more than one-trillion-dollar hybrid cloud opportunity. We are providing the essential tools enterprises need to make their multi-year journey to cloud on common, open standards that can reach across clouds, across applications and across vendors with Red Hat." All in all, the company says the new software and services draw on more than 100 products from IBM's software portfolio that are optimized for Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Source
  3. IBM reportedly axed as many as 100,000 employees in the last few years because it wanted to appear "cool" and "trendy" like Amazon or Google, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. IBM has been hit by several age discrimination suits filed by former employees. Asked about the accusation, the company said IBM has been "reinvented to target higher value opportunities for our clients." Image: IBM CEO Virginia "Ginni" Rometty Hoping to come across to millennials as "cool" and "trendy" like Amazon or Google, IBM may have axed as many as 100,000 employees in the last few years. The charge came up in the deposition of a former IBM vice president in an ongoing age discrimination suit, according to a Bloomberg report. Asked for a comment on the report, IBM told Business Insider in an email, "We have reinvented IBM in the past five years to target higher value opportunities for our clients." IBM has been hit by several lawsuits accusing the tech giants of discrimination against older workers. In one of the civil cases, Alan Wild, a former IBM human resources vice president, said the company "laid off 50,000 to 100,000 employees in just the last several years," according to Bloomberg, citing a court document filed Tuesday in Texas. Wild said in his deposition that IBM wanted to demonstrate to millennials that the company wasn't "an old fuddy duddy organization," and that it hoped to come across as "as [a] cool, trendy organization" like search giant Google or online retail behemoth Amazon. "To do that, IBM set out to slough off large portions of its older workforce using rolling layoffs over the course of several years," the court filing said, according to the report. In its email, IBM said it "hires 50,000 employees each year, and spends nearly a half-billion dollars on training our team." "We also receive more than 8,000 job applications every day, the highest rate that we've ever experienced, so there's clear excitement about IBM's strategy and direction for the future," the company said. IBM is a major player in the enterprise tech market. But the company has struggled against newer rivals, led by Amazon and Google, which dominate the fast-growing cloud computing market — and it's seen its revenues shrink continuously for the last seven or so years. IBM had 350,600 workers worldwide at the end of 2018, down 19% from 2013. Source
  4. TurboSched is a new Linux kernel scheduler that's been in development by IBM for maximizing use of turbo frequencies for the longest possible periods of time. Rather than this scheduler trying to balance the load across all available CPU cores, it tries to keep the priority tasks on a select group of cores while aiming to keep the other cores idle in order to allow for the power allowance to be used by those few turbo-capable cores with the high priority work. TurboSched aims to keep low utilization tasks to already active cores as opposed to waking up new cores from their idle/power-savings states. This is beneficial for allowing the CPU cores most likely to be kept in their turbo state for longer while saving power in terms of not waking up extra cores for brief periods of time when handling various background/jitter tasks. With TurboSched being developed by IBM, it's written with their latest POWER9 processors in mind but would be interesting to see it applied to AMD and Intel CPUs moving forward. At least on POWER CPUs, IBM found this TurboSched implementation could help POWER9 workloads up to 13%. For now TurboSched is living as patches on the kernel mailing list. It will be interesting to see where this leads and how well it could potentially help AMD and Intel CPUs if adapted for those x86_64 processors. Source
  5. If we understand more about cancer on the molecular level, we can learn to treat it more effectively. IBM has released three artificial intelligence (AI) projects tailored to take on the challenge of curing cancer to the open-source community. At the 18th European Conference on Computational Biology (ECCB) and the 27th Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB), which will be held in Switzerland later this month, the tech giant will dive into how each of the projects can advance our understanding of cancers and their treatment. Cancer alone is estimated to have caused 9.6 million deaths in 2018, with an estimated 18 million new cases reported in the same year. Predisposition through genetics, environmental factors including pollution, smoking, and diet are all considered factors in how likely someone is to develop such a disease, and while we can treat many forms, we still have much to learn. Researchers from IBM's Computational Systems Biology group in Zurich are working on AI and machine learning (ML) approaches to "help to accelerate our understanding of the leading drivers and molecular mechanisms of these complex diseases," as well as methods to improve our knowledge of tumor composition. "Our goal is to deepen our understanding of cancer to equip industries and academia with the knowledge that could potentially one day help fuel new treatments and therapies," IBM says. The first project, dubbed PaccMann -- not to be confused with the popular Pac-Man computer game -- is described as the "Prediction of anticancer compound sensitivity with Multi-modal attention-based neural networks." It can take millions of dollars to develop a single drug to tackle cancer and these financial restraints can delay or scupper our potential to develop new drugs and therapies. IBM is working on the PaccMann algorithm to automatically analyze chemical compounds and predict which are the most likely to fight cancer strains, which could potentially streamline this process. The ML algorithm exploits data on gene expression as well as the molecular structures of chemical compounds. IBM says that by identifying potential anti-cancer compounds earlier, this can cut the costs associated with drug development. The second project is called "Interaction Network infErence from vectoR representATions of words," otherwise known as INtERAcT. This tool is a particularly interesting one given its automatic extraction of data from valuable scientific papers related to our understanding of cancer. With roughly 17,000 papers published every year in the field of cancer research, it can be difficult -- if not impossible -- for researchers to keep up with every small step we make in our understanding. INtERAcT aims to make the academic side of research less of a burden by automatically extracting information from these papers. At the moment, the tool is being tested on extracting data related to protein-protein interactions -- an area of study which has been marked as a potential cause of the disruption of biological processes in diseases including cancer. "A particular strength of INtERAcT is its capability to infer interactions in the context of a specific disease," IBM says. "The comparison with the normal interactions in healthy tissue may potentially help to obtain insight into the disease mechanisms." The third and final project is "pathway-induced multiple kernel learning," or PIMKL. This algorithm utilizes datasets describing what we currently know when it comes to molecular interactions in order to predict the progression of cancer and potential relapses in patients. PIMKL uses what is known as multiple kernel learning to identify molecular pathways crucial for categorizing patients, giving healthcare professionals an opportunity to individualize and tailor treatment plans. PaccMann and INtERAcT's code has been released and are available on the projects' websites. PIMKL has been deployed on the IBM Cloud and the source code has also been released. Each project is open-source and has now been made available in the public domain. IBM hopes that by making the source code available to other researchers and academics, their potential impact can be maximized by the scientific community. Source
  6. ARMONK, N.Y. and RALEIGH, N.C. — July 9, 2019 — Acquisition positions IBM as the leading hybrid cloud provider and accelerates IBM’s high-value business model, extending Red Hat’s open source innovation to a broader range of clients IBM preserves Red Hat’s independence and neutrality; Red Hat will strengthen its existing partnerships to give customers freedom, choice and flexibility Red Hat’s unwavering commitment to open source remains unchanged Together, IBM and Red Hat will deliver next-generation hybrid multicloud platform IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Red Hat announced today that they have closed the transaction under which IBM acquired all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190.00 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of approximately $34 billion. The acquisition redefines the cloud market for business. Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud technologies are now paired with the unmatched scale and depth of IBM’s innovation and industry expertise, and sales leadership in more than 175 countries. Together, IBM and Red Hat will accelerate innovation by offering a next-generation hybrid multicloud platform. Based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes, the platform will allow businesses to securely deploy, run and manage data and applications on-premises and on private and multiple public clouds. "Businesses are starting the next chapter of their digital reinventions, modernizing infrastructure and moving mission-critical workloads across private clouds and multiple clouds from multiple vendors," said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO. "They need open, flexible technology to manage these hybrid multicloud environments. And they need partners they can trust to manage and secure these systems. IBM and Red Hat are uniquely suited to meet these needs. As the leading hybrid cloud provider, we will help clients forge the technology foundations of their business for decades to come." "When we talk to customers, their challenges are clear: They need to move faster and differentiate through technology. They want to build more collaborative cultures, and they need solutions that give them the flexibility to build and deploy any app or workload, anywhere," said Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO, Red Hat. "We think open source has become the de facto standard in technology because it enables these solutions. Joining forces with IBM gives Red Hat the opportunity to bring more open source innovation to an even broader range of organizations and will enable us to scale to meet the need for hybrid cloud solutions that deliver true choice and agility." Red Hat will continue to be led by Jim Whitehurst and its current management team. Whitehurst is joining IBM’s senior management team, reporting to Ginni Rometty. IBM will maintain Red Hat’s headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, its facilities, brands and practices. Red Hat will operate as a distinct unit within IBM and will be reported as part of IBM’s Cloud and Cognitive Software segment. Both companies have already built leading enterprise cloud businesses with consistent strong revenue growth by helping customers transition their business models to the cloud. IBM’s cloud revenue has grown from 4 percent of total revenue in 2013 to 25 percent today. This growth comes through a comprehensive range of as-a-service offerings and software, services and hardware that enable IBM to advise, build, move and manage cloud solutions across public, private and on-premises environments for customers. IBM cloud revenue for the 12-month period through the first quarter of this year grew to over $19 billion. The Red Hat acquisition is expected to contribute approximately two points of compound annual revenue growth to IBM over a five-year period. Red Hat’s fiscal year 2019 revenue was $3.4 billion, up 15 percent year-over-year. Fiscal first quarter 2020 revenue, reported in June, was $934 million, up 15 percent year-over-year. In that quarter, subscription revenue was up 15 percent year-over-year, including revenue from application development-related and other emerging technology offerings up 24 percent year-over-year. Services revenue also grew 17 percent. The Hybrid Cloud Opportunity Digital reinvention is at an inflection point as businesses enter the next chapter of their cloud journey. Most enterprises today are approximately 20 percent into their transition to the cloud. In this first chapter of their cloud journey, businesses made great strides in reducing costs, boosting productivity and revitalizing their customer-facing innovation programs. Chapter two, however, is about shifting mission-critical workloads to the cloud and optimizing everything from supply chains to core banking systems. To succeed in the next chapter of the cloud, businesses need to manage their entire IT infrastructure, on and off-premises and across different clouds — private and public – in a way that is simple, consistent and integrated. Businesses are seeking one common environment they can build once and deploy in any one of the appropriate footprints to be faster and more agile. IBM’s offerings have evolved to reflect new customer needs and drive greater growth. The acquisition of Red Hat further strengthens IBM as the leader in hybrid cloud for the enterprise. "As organizations seek to increase their pace of innovation to stay competitive, they are looking to open source and a distributed cloud environment to enable a new wave of digital innovation that wasn’t possible before. Over the next five years, IDC expects enterprises to invest heavily in their journeys to the cloud, and innovation on it. A large and increasing portion of this investment will be on open hybrid and multicloud environments that enable them to move apps, data and workloads across different environments," said Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst, IDC. "With the acquisition of Red Hat, and IBM’s commitment to Red Hat’s independence, IBM is well positioned to help enterprises differentiate themselves in their industry by capitalizing on open source in this emerging hybrid and multicloud world." The collective ability of IBM and Red Hat to unlock the true value of hybrid cloud for businesses is already resonating among customers moving to the next chapter of digital reinvention. "Delta is constantly exploring current and emerging technology as we transform the air travel experience," said Ed Bastian, Delta CEO. "We’ve been working with both IBM and Red Hat for years to deliver on that goal, and as they together build the next generation IT company, they will be an essential part of our digital transformation." "As a long-standing partner of Red Hat and IBM, we look forward to capabilities that these two companies will bring together," said Michael Poser, Managing Director and Chief Information Officer, Enterprise Technology & Services, Morgan Stanley. "We know first-hand how important and impactful cloud technology contributes to unlocking business value." IBM Reinforces Commitment to Open Source and Red Hat Neutrality IBM and Red Hat have deep open source values and experience. The two companies have worked together for more than 20 years to make open source the default choice for modern IT solutions. This includes the importance of open governance and helping open source projects and communities flourish through continued contribution. With Red Hat, IBM has acquired one of the most important software companies in the IT industry. Red Hat’s pioneering business model helped bring open source – including technologies like Linux, Kubernetes, Ansible, Java, Ceph and many more – into the mainstream for enterprises. Today, Linux is the most used platform for development. Red Hat Enterprise Linux alone is expected to contribute to more than $10 trillion worth of global business revenues in 2019. By 2023, an additional 640,000 people are expected to work in Red Hat-related jobs. IBM has committed to scaling and accelerating open source and hybrid cloud for businesses across industries, as well as preserving the independence and neutrality of Red Hat’s open source heritage. This includes its open source community leadership, contributions and development model; product portfolio, services, and go-to-market strategy; robust developer and partner ecosystems, and unique culture. Red Hat’s mission and unwavering commitment to open source will remain unchanged, and Red Hat will continue to offer the choice and flexibility inherent to open source and hybrid IT environments. Red Hat also will continue to build and expand its partnerships, including those with major cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Alibaba. IBM and Red Hat also share a strong commitment to social responsibility and a sense of purpose for applying technology and expertise to help address some of the world’s most significant societal challenges. Together, the two companies have committed to expanding this longstanding commitment through new joint initiatives, addressing education and skills, civic and societal needs and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workforce development. For more information visit: https://ibm.com/blogs/corporate-social-responsibility/2019/07/be-open-and-change-the-world/ For more information on today’s news, visit: https://newsroom.ibm.com/ and https://www.ibm.com/redhat About IBM For more information about IBM, visit https://www.ibm.com. Source
  7. IBM closes $34 billion deal to buy Red Hat (Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) said on Tuesday it has closed its $34 billion acquisition of software company Red Hat Inc (RHT.N) as it looks to ramp up its cloud computing business. The logo for IBM is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Underscoring the drive into high-margin businesses, IBM in October agreed to buy Red Hat, the company’s biggest acquisition in its more than 100-year history. Ginni Rometty, IBM chief executive since 2012, has steered the company toward faster-growing segments such as cloud, software and services and away from traditional hardware products, but not without a bumpy journey. The newer areas of focus have sometimes underwhelmed investors. The company, which won approval for the purchase from EU regulators in late June and U.S. regulators in May, agreed to pay $190 a share for Red Hat, representing a 63 percent premium. Founded in 1993, Red Hat specializes in Linux operating systems, the most popular type of open-source software and an alternative to proprietary software made by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O). IBM has faced years of revenue declines as it transitions from its legacy computer hardware business into new technology products and services. Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst and his management team will remain in place. Whitehurst will join IBM’s senior management team and report to Rometty. IBM will maintain Red Hat’s headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, its facilities, brands and practices and said it operate as a distinct unit within IBM. The companies said IBM and Red Hat will offer “a next-generation hybrid multicloud platform” that will be “based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes.” IBM’s cloud strategy has focused on helping companies stitch together multiple cloud platforms rather than compete head on with “hyperscale” cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, a unit of Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Microsoft and Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O). IBM said Red Hat will continue “to build and expand its partnerships, including those with major cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Alibaba.” Since 2013, IBM’s cloud revenue as a percentage of total revenue has grown six-fold to 25 percent. In the 12 months through the first quarter of 2019, cloud revenue exceeded $19 billion. Red Hat is expected to contribute approximately two points of compound annual revenue growth over a five-year period, IBM said. Source: IBM closes $34 billion deal to buy Red Hat
  8. “The European Commission has approved unconditionally … the proposed acquisition of Red Hat by IBM, both information technology companies based in the US,” a statement from the EU executive said. “The Commission concluded that the transaction would raise no competition concerns,” it added. The commission, the guardian of competition in the EU, took very little time to authorise the operation and has not demanded any concessions from the companies. If approved by authorities worldwide, the tie-up will be the third biggest tech merger in history, according to CNBC. Red Hat said it was the biggest involving a software company. Cloud computing refers to the delivery of computing services over the internet, including storage and software, and is considered fundamental to a highly connected world. The EU’s anti-trust teams have taken close looks at tech mergers, including Facebook’s buyout of WhatsApp, in which the social network was fined in 2017 for failing to provide correct information. Brussels’ bans on mergers are extremely rare: since the arrival of European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at the end of 2014, there have only been six. Once known primarily for its computer hardware, IBM has made cloud computing a priority in its growth strategy, like Amazon and Microsoft. Red Hat will continue to operate as a separate unit led by its current management team. Founded in 1993, Red Hat launched its famous version of Linux OS a year later, becoming a pioneering proponent of the open source movement that arose to counter giants like Microsoft whose models were based on keeping their source code secret. The Raleigh, North Carolina based company is today present in 35 countries and employs some 12,000 people, and is one of the best-known open-source players whose customers pay for tailor-made solutions. Source
  9. BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. tech giant International Business Machines Corp is set to secure unconditional EU approval for its $34 billion bid for software company Red Hat, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. IBM is seeking to expand its subscription-based software offerings via the deal, its biggest to date, to counter slowing software sales and waning demand for mainframe servers. It would also help it catch up with Amazon, Alphabet Inc and Microsoft in the fast growing cloud computing business. The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by June 27, and IBM declined to comment. Founded in 1993, Red Hat specializes in Linux operating systems, the most popular type of open-source software and an alternative to proprietary software made by Microsoft. U.S. regulatory authorities gave the green light to the deal last month without demanding concessions. Source
  10. IBM: We've made world's most powerful commercial supercomputer French energy giant Total now has the world's 11th most powerful supercomputer in the Pangea III HPC from IBM. The IBM-built Pangea III supercomputer has come online for French energy giant Total, bringing 31.7 petaflops of processing power and 76 petabytes of storage capacity. It's now the world's most powerful supercomputer outside government-owned systems. Total's Pangea III is based on IBM's Power9 CPUs and will be used to improve and accelerate the energy company's oil and gas exploration missions, which start with crunching massive amounts of seismic data and use modeled seismic images to spot resource locations. While Pangaea III is ranked 11th overall among the world's top supercomputers, IBM boasts that Total's new supercomputer uses the "same IBM Power9 AI-optimized, high-performance architecture" as the world's two highest-performing supercomputers, Summit and Sierra, which are owned by the US Department of Energy. "[Pangea III] enables Total to reduce geological risks in exploration and development, accelerate project maturation and delivery, and increases the value of our assets through optimized field operations, with all this at lower cost," said Arnaud Breuillac, president of Total's Exploration & Production division. To build Pangea III, IBM worked with Nvidia to enhance the supercomputer with GPUs, in this case its Tesla V100 Tensor Core units, which connect with Power9 CPUs over high-speed links. The arrival of Pangea III follows Total's partnership with Google Cloud to jointly develop AI algorithms for analyzing subsurface data for oil and gas exploration and production. The pair are exploring the use of computer vision algorithms to decipher images from seismic studies and natural language processing to analyze technical documents. Total intends to use Pangea III to test its new algorithms. Total says the new algorithms and supercomputer will help it process seismic data more accurately and at a higher resolution, improving its avidity to reliably find hydrocarbons below ground, such as resources trapped under salt in Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico, Angola, and the Eastern Mediterranean. The new supercomputer will help it develop better predictive production models and improve its ability to assess the value of exploration space, allowing it to be more selective about where it extracts resources. Source
  11. IBM India to Help the Indian Government in Securing Data Servers on Cloud IBM India will reportedly offer its enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions to help the Indian government secure its cloud servers. IBM India will reportedly offer its enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions to help the Indian government secure its cloud servers. As chorus in India grows to safeguard key defence installations and organisations from nation-state cyber criminals, IBM with its enterprise-grade security solutions is ready to partner the government on cyber-proofing sensitive data on Cloud. According to Vikas Arora, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software Leader, IBM India/South Asia, the company is ready with a very comprehensive portfolio of products that provides end-to-end security. "We already provide a lot of security relations to both the enterprises and the government. We are more than willing to partner with enterprises and government on the security initiatives," Arora told IANS. A new IBM-Ponemon Institute study last week revealed that nearly 79 per cent of Indian firms do not have a computer security incident response plan (CSIRP) in place that is applied consistently across operations. In the past two years, 51 per cent of Indian organisations surveyed experienced a data breach and 56 per cent experienced a cyber-security incident. "Security is no longer an IT issue. It's an issue that is being discussed, deliberated and reviewed at the board level. This is because the time it takes to resolve a cyber-attack incident has gone up in India. The cost of an incident has also gone up in India," the IBM Executive emphasised. While studies show that companies who can respond quickly and efficiently to contain a cyber-attack within 30 days save over $1 million on the total cost of a data breach on average, shortfalls in proper cyber-security incident response planning have remained consistent for several years. IBM has cyber ranges of its own that simulates incidents to better prepare for a quick and efficient response. "The focus of IBM cyber ranges is to create environment, scenarios and use cases to essentially better prepare organisations to deal with situations they have to respond to," noted Arora. Not just the government, industries across the spectrum - retail, banking automotive, telecom, manufacturing - are aiming to have a secure environment when it comes to both security and application of cognitive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in perceiving real-time cyber threats. According to a recent report by the New Delhi-based Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), India also urgently requires to enhance the cyber capabilities of its armed forces, including the operationalisation of a Defence Cyber Agency. "Whenever there is a security incident, it is not just responding it from the technology perspective. There is a PR response, there is a marketing response, there is obviously a senior-level executive response and there is a legal response. "Our cyber ranges keep all these in mind as we prepare enterprises to gauge internal and external threat intelligence and mitigate cyber threats," said Arora. Global professional services firm EY early this year announced the launch of advanced Security Operations Centres (SOCs) in India along with IBM. Part of EY's Managed Services offerings and powered by IBM's "QRadar" platform, these SOCs are designed to detect, respond and address advanced cyber-attacks and risks. "This combination will help EY customers secure their organisations more effectively," said Arora. Source
  12. IBM looks to enhance retail stores with 'Smart Mirror' technology Offline retailers face increasing competition from new-age rivals like Amazon and the Walmart-owned Flipkart. This has been the primary reason that offline retailers have been investing in their technology capabilities. Tech giant IBM is working on a technology, referred to as ‘Smart Mirror’, through which it plans to tie up with offline retailers. The company will launch the technology in fashion retail Vero Moda’s stores and is in talks with other retailers as well. Smart Mirror is expected to enhance customers’ offline shopping experience through interactive fitting rooms which will connect retailers and customers digitally. The mirror will assist customers in understanding what product features are suiting them and can recommend changes. “The plan is to convert more footfalls into actual sales at these stores,” said Kamal Singhani, managing partner, Global Business Services, IBM India and South Asia. The company is also integrating artificial intelligence into its supply chain to improve efficiency. “We are building fashion taxonomy by analysing current fashion trends from multiple sources (catalogs, articles, blogs, images, social media) and predict future fashion trends. It currently categorizes colours, print and style,” Singhani said. “The technology will bridge the gap between the customer and merchandiser, which will help in improvising the inventory for the retailer.” According to the company’s estimate, 50-60% of designs sell well while rest are marked down. Hence, with the sales data, the company looks to analyse why a particular product did not sell well and guide the designers. Offline retailers face increasing competition from new-age rivals like Amazon and the Walmart-owned Flipkart. This has been the primary reason that offline retailers have been investing in their technology capabilities. ET recently reported that Future Group has hired senior talent from online-first firms. The company is looking to build credit platform, last-mile delivery capabilities, and a rural distribution model, and is also developing its AI capabilities. According to Forrester’s Online Retail forecast, India’s ecommerce sales are expected to grow 29% annually over the next five years. Source
  13. Severe Java bugs found in IBM Watson and its components A total of five vulnerabilities affected several components of IBM Watson. One of the critical bugs (CVE-2018-2633) can allow attackers to remotely control Watson systems. Watson, IBM’s trademark artificial intelligence(AI) system, was found to be riddled with critical security vulnerabilities in its platform. The bugs were identified in the IBM Runtime Environment Java Technology Edition, which is used by Watson Explorer and Content Analytics. IBM has addressed the five vulnerabilities by providing a fix to all the affected components. The big picture The Java components with vulnerabilities were JRockit Libraries, JRockit LDAP, JRockit JNDI, and I18n. These flaws could enable attackers to steal sensitive information, conduct denial of service attacks and have control over the infected systems. They are designated as CVE-2018-2579, CVE-2018-2588, CVE-2018-2602, CVE-2018-2603, and CVE-2018-2633. CVE-2018-2633 was the most severe among the identified vulnerabilities, which would allow cybercriminals to completely take over Watson. “An unspecified vulnerability in Oracle Java SE related to the Java SE, Java SE Embedded, JRockit JNDI component could allow an unauthenticated attacker to take control of the system.” described the bulletin. Altogether, 18 IBM Watson products were discovered to be affected. Update published Following the disclosure of the security flaws, IBM released updates for the affected components. Users are advised to upgrade to the required version of IBM Java Runtime to remediate the five vulnerabilities. All these flaws were actually addressed in the Oracle January 2018 advisory but still impacted IBM Watson due to lack of a fix until now. Regarding the affected products, Watson Explorer Foundational Components and Watson Explorer Analytical Components versions formed the major chunk. Source
  14. IBM sends Blockchain World Wire for global payments into limited production Big Blue's latest blockchain play sees cross-border payments being sent via digital tokens in near real-time. How IBM Blockchain World Wire works (Image: IBM) IBM has announced that its blockchain-based global payments network has been sent into limited production, with the company touting it as the "new financial rail" that clears and settles cross-border payments in near real-time. IBM Blockchain World Wire, Big Blue claims, is the first blockchain-based network that integrates payment messaging, clearing, and settlement on a single network. "The concept of money is 2,000 years old. The world has been using the same network to process financial transactions for 50 years. And even though globalisation has changed the world, payment fees and other financial barriers remain the same. But now there's a new way to move money," the company pitches. "We've created a new type of payment network designed to accelerate remittances and transform cross-border payments to facilitate the movement of money in countries that need it most," IBM Blockchain general manager Marie Wieck added. "By creating a network where financial institutions support multiple digital assets, we expect to spur innovation and improve financial inclusion worldwide." World Wire uses the Stellar protocol -- an open-source, decentralised protocol for digital currency to fiat currency transfer -- to transmit monetary value in the form of digital currency. The blockchain-based network will support settlement using Stellar Lumens (XLM) and the US dollar stable coin through IBM's existing partnership with Stronghold. IBM said that pending regulatory approvals and other reviews, six international banks, including Banco Bradesco, Bank Busan, and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), have signed letters of intent to issue their own stable coins on World Wire. If successful, this will see the addition of the euro, Korean won, Brazilian real, Indonesian rupiah, and Philippine peso stable coins to the network. According to IBM, World Wire has enabled payment locations in 72 countries, with 47 currencies and 44 banking endpoints. "Local regulations will continue to guide activation, and IBM is actively growing the network with additional financial institutions globally," the company said. Source
  15. Symantec partners with IBM, Microsoft and others to cut cyber security cost San Francisco: California-headquartered global cybersecurity company Symantec said it had forged partnerships with 120 companies including Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBMSecurity, Microsoft and Oracle among others to drive down the cost and complexity of cyber security. The enterprise partners are now building or delivering more than 250 products and services that integrate with Symantec's Integrated Cyber Defense (ICD) Platform, the company said on Wednesday. Symantec's ICD Platform provides a unified framework for information protection, threat protection, identity management and compliance across endpoints, networks, applications and clouds. "There's a seismic shift happening in cyber security," Art Gilliland, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Products, Symantec, said in a statement. "The old way of fighting cyber-attacks using fragmented tools has become too complex and expensive to manage. Integrated platforms are the future," Gilliland added. Symantec started building ICD two and a half years ago with its acquisition of Blue Coat Systems, which added web and Cloud security technologies to Symantec's endpoint, email and data loss prevention (DLP) technologies. Source
  16. IBM sets forth with a strong cybersecurity message IBM has a strong cybersecurity message, but there's a gap between IBM security and its corporate vision. If IBM can bridge this gap, it can carve out a unique market position. Stephen Lawson/IDG I just got back from attending IBM Think in San Francisco. Though it was a quick trip across the country, I was inundated with IBM’s vision, covering topics from A (i.e. artificial intelligence) to Z (i.e. System Z) and everything in between. Despite the wide-ranging discussion, IBM’s main focus was on three areas: 1) hybrid cloud, 2) advanced analytics, and 3) security. For example, IBM’s hybrid cloud discussion centered on digital transformation and leaned heavily on its Red Hat acquisition, while advanced analytics included artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing (Watson), neural networks, etc. To demonstrate its capabilities in these areas, IBM paraded out customers such as Geico, Hyundai Credit Corporation, and Santander Bank, who are betting on IBM for game-changing digital transformation projects. [ Keep up with 8 hot cyber security trends (and 4 going cold). | Sign up for CSO newsletters. ] IBM's cybersecurity plans As for cybersecurity, here are a few of my take-aways about IBM's plans: Not surprisingly, IBM is all-in on cybersecurity services, which now account for more than 50 percent of its cybersecurity revenue. According to ESG research (and lots of other industry sources), cybersecurity services growth will continue to outpace products due to the global cybersecurity skills shortage. (Note: I am an employee of ESG.) IBM is banking on this trend by adding staff, investing in backend systems and processes, and rolling out new service offerings. For example, IBM is working with partners on a managed services program where local partners benefit from IBM’s global resources, analytics, and threat intelligence. Overall, IBM has a unique opportunity to separate itself from the pack and could become the de facto enterprise cybersecurity services leader. Most cybersecurity professionals think of IBM QRadar as a SIEM, competing with the likes of ArcSight, LogRhythm, and Splunk. While this perspective is true, it minimizes its value. QRadar is really a security operations and analytics platform architecture (SOAPA). Customers can use QRadar as a security operations nexus, adding functionality such as network traffic analysis (NTA), vulnerability management (VM), and user behavior analytics (UBA) to the core system. What’s more, QRadar offers several helper applications, such as DNS analytics, most of which are free. Finally, QRadar has thousands of customers around the world. IBM has some work ahead here – it needs to gain cybersecurity street cred by marketing QRadar as a SOAPA offering and global cybersecurity community, rather than a plain old SIEM. IBM is embracing security “from the cloud.” For example, QRadar on cloud (QROC) revenue grew over 20 percent, demonstrating that customers want the value of QRadar without the infrastructure baggage of on-premises collectors, databases, servers, etc. IBM is also poised to roll out its IBM Security Connected (ICS) platform in Q2. In keeping with its minimalist communications, IBM hasn’t trumpeted the ICS initiative, but in my humble opinion, it represents a major change in direction. For ICS, IBM rewrote its security applications as microservices to build a foundation of cloud integration and scale. Thus, ICS applications will grow from discrete SaaS offerings to an integrated cloud-scale cybersecurity architecture over time. Oh, and ICS will come with lots of services options for everything from staff augmentation to outsourcing. ICS has the potential to be a big deal for overwhelmed CISOs with global responsibilities and the need for massive cybersecurity scale. Resilient is an enterprise-class security operations platform. When IBM acquired Resilient Systems a few years ago, it gained a technology leader but sort of ceded the SOAR buzz to other vendors. This is a shame. Resilient may require a bit more work than some of its competitors, but I find that customers are using Resilient to re-architect their security operations processes and establish real and measurable security operations metrics. To me, this is where security operations platforms must go – beyond quick automation and orchestration wins to anchoring security process re-engineering. 4 ways IBM can improve its cybersecurity game IBM’s security portfolio is pretty solid, and the company seems to be more energized than in the past. After attending IBM Think, I do have a few cybersecurity recommendations for folks in Armonk and Cambridge, Massachusetts: While IBM Think has a strong hybrid cloud theme, the IBM security hybrid cloud story remains disjointed – an identity story here, a data security story there, etc. This leads to IBM being outflanked by cloud-savvy security startups. IBM needs a cohesive, tightly integrated product offering and messaging framework here. IBM’s risk management services are solid but somewhat hidden. According to recent ESG research, there is a growing cyber risk management gap between what business executives need and what cybersecurity professionals can deliver. Given its industry knowledge and relationships, IBM should be doing more in the cyber risk management space – at the product and services level. Closely related to #2, cybersecurity is truly a boardroom-level issue – especially for traditional IBM customers. I find that there is a disconnect between IBM’s corporate focus on digital transformation, industry solutions, and hybrid clouds and its cybersecurity go-to-market, which remains centered within the bits and bytes. Again, IBM is in a unique position to figure out a more top-down approach (i.e. from the business down to the technology) and deliver business-centric cybersecurity solutions to customers. IBM spent millions of dollars on a Watson for a cybersecurity advertising campaign, but few cybersecurity professionals have a clue about what Watson for cybersecurity is. The suits in Armonk should pump the advertising brakes and dedicate more toward market education by working with professional organizations such as ISSA, ISC2, SANS, the Infosec Institute, etc. In general, Armonk must understand that the IBM brand is a marketing obstacle when competing for mindshare with vendors like CrowdStrike, FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, etc. Thus, IBM security must work harder and smarter to get the word out. Many thanks to IBM for hosting me in San Francisco this week. I’ll be back at the Moscone Center for RSA in the blink of an eye. Source
  17. IBM Warns of Apple Siri Shortcut Scareware Risk "Hey Siri" is supposed to be a voice command that enables Apple's digital assistant, but in the wrong hands the new Siri Shortcuts feature could potentially be abused by an attacker. Apple's Siri voice assistant is intended to help users, but according to new research published by IBM on Jan. 31, attackers could potentially abuse the Siri Shortcuts feature. Apple introduced Siri Shortcuts with iOS 12, enabling users and developers to use Siri to automate a series of tasks. IBM's X-Force security division discovered that it is possible to use a Siri Shortcut for malicious purposes, including tricking a user into paying a fee to avoid having his or her information stolen in an attack known as scareware. In a proof-of-concept Siri Shortcuts scareware attack developed by IBM, a malicious shortcut is able to read information from an iOS device and then demand a fee from the user, all with the native Siri voice. "IBM X-Force has not seen evidence of attacks carried out using this method, but we developed the proof of concept to warn users of the potential dangers," John Kuhn, senior security threat researcher for IBM X-Force IRIS, told eWEEK. The IBM disclosure of the Siri Shortcuts risk comes during a particularly challenging week for Apple as the company struggles to deal with a critical FaceTime vulnerability that could enable an attacker to eavesdrop on an unsuspecting user. Unlike the FaceTime vulnerability, however, the Siri Shortcuts issue is not an explicit vulnerability in Apple's technology. "IBM X-Force conducted all of the research using native functionality of the Shortcuts app, so no exploitation of vulnerabilities was needed," Kuhn said. "We highly suggest that every user reviews Shortcuts before adding them to their devices." Kuhn added that IBM worked with Apple since the initial research discovery to share all the details. How It Works Siri Shortcuts provides powerful capabilities to users and developers. IBM's concern is that a hacker could abuse that power and trick a user with scareware. There is also the potential, according to IBM, for a Siri Shortcut to be configured to spread to other devices by messaging everyone on the victim’s contact list, expanding the impact of an attack. "Siri Shortcuts gives native capability to potentially send messages to contacts if the appropriate permissions are enabled," Kuhn said. "In theory, this could be manipulated by an attacker to spread a link to other contacts." There are, however, several caveats before a Siri Shortcut attack can spread. Kuhn noted that such an attack would require each user to install and run the Shortcut, which is more reminiscent of malware that uses email to propagate. The Siri Shortcut risk is also not a "drive-by" risk—that is, it isn't something that a user can get simply by visiting a malicious site. The user must install the Siri Shortcuts app as well as the malicious shortcut, he said. However, he noted that attackers could easily entice users to do so by socially engineering the intended victim. "This tactic is commonly used by attackers to get victims to install malware via email phishing attempts," Kuhn said. "Basically, the attacker needs to offer anything enticing enough to get the user to comply with installing an otherwise suspect piece of software." In terms of what data Siri Shortcuts is able to access and then send to an attacker, there are limits in place by default. "Siri Shortcuts does allow access to some system files on the phone. However, it does not allow access files with PII [personally identifiable information] as far as our research has determined," Kuhn said. "Siri Shortcuts does have native functionality to give the victim's physical address, IP address, photos, videos and more." So what should Apple users do? IBM suggests that users be careful when downloading third-party Siri Shortcuts and only install from a trusted source. IBM also suggests that users be mindful when running a Siri Shortcut and only enable actions that are needed. Source
  18. Meet IBM's bleeding edge of quantum computing With the Q System One, the tech titan's grand promise of super-powerful computing takes a big step forward. The Q System One model at the CES 2019 tech show. Sarah Tew/CNET The IBM Q System One model doesn't look like a computer. It looks like a conceptual art series of plates being held together with fishing lines suspended from a ceiling. The whole contraption is encased in half-inch-thick glass created by Milan-based Goppion, which made the protective displays for the Mona Lisa and the Crown Jewels. Bob Sutor, an IBM veteran who leads the Q System One team, directed me to look at the bottom of this quantum computer -- an experimental machine with potentially massive computing power -- where there was a tiny silver rectangle in the middle of a tangle of golden wires. That's the home of the machine's quantum bits, or qubits, which are tiny, fragile particles that make the whole system work. I asked him how much such a computer costs. He declined to say, adding: "It's not lunch." We were standing in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center during the CEStech show earlier this month. A jostling crowd around us angled to snag pictures of the model. IBM was at the show to publicly present this replica of the Q System One, its first quantum computer that fits into one neat package. Past designs were more like "backroom experiments," Sutor said, with jumbles of components strewn about a room. The real Q System One was completed in November and is in IBM's Yorktown Heights, New York, offices. The machine represents a big step toward quantum computingbecoming a commercial reality, after IBM has toiled for decades with the computing concept. Inside a quantum computer is one of the coldest places on Earth. Bob Sutor, IBM Creating a fully functional system makes quantum computers more reliable and easier to upgrade. Beyond those practical uses, these computers have the potential to create more effective antibiotics, help scientists better understand chemistry and nature and improve power grids. The machines could do that by providing businesses and scientists the ability to crunch extremely complex calculations that can't be digested by classical computers. But beyond that hype, there's years more work to do to prove quantum computers are up to the task. Also, it's possible a different type of computer will lead to the next breakthroughs, instead of quantum designs. "That's a big step, but it's one step in a journey that's 1,000 miles long." Brian Hopkins, a Forrester analyst focused on quantum computers, said of the new Q System One. Super cold computing In a classical computer, data is crunched by processing bits, designated as either 0 or 1. In quantum computing, qubits are used instead. These qubits have more complex properties that allow them to become combinations of 0 and 1 at the same time and also to interact with each other. Bob Sutor standing by the quantum computer model. Sarah Tew/CNET With each additional qubit that's added, the amount of information a quantum computer can hold doubles. That capability may help a quantum computer become a far more powerful way to process certain kinds of problems that classical computers can't handle. Using these qubits could help scientists unlock ways of developing new medicines at the molecular level or creating stronger security codes or processing the mountains of data being created at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. The Q System One currently uses 20 qubits. "By the time you get up to around 280 [qubits], that number -- two to the 280th power -- is approximately the number of atoms in the observable universe," Sutor said, offering a hint at just how powerful these computers may someday become. Seeing the potential of these computers, startups such as Rigetti and D-Wave, and the research arms of Microsoft, Intel and Google are developing quantum computing, too. IBM has also partnered with ExxonMobil, Daimler, Samsung, Barclays and major corporations to kick the tires on what's possible with its quantum computers. But using quantum computers is an excruciatingly delicate task. The Q System One's thick glass housing is used to cut down on vibrations and radiation, and helps keep the computer at near absolute zero. Inside the real computer in New York, quick blasts of super-cold air are used to keep the qubits inside at 10 millikelvins, colder than outer space. "So inside a quantum computer is one of the coldest places on Earth," said Sutor, 60, whose 6-foot-4 frame, graying beard, deep voice and cheery disposition give him the air of an IBM Santa Claus. That extreme cold and thick glass are needed to protect the qubits inside the machine, which are so fragile that a single photon of light or a rap of someone's knuckles could destroy their computation, Sutor said. Because these machines are so delicate, any future quantum computing will likely be done over the internet to allow IBM to carefully maintain the machines at its own facilities. A long way to go To be sure, the promise of quantum computers remains just that -- promise, and not yet reality. "Quantum computers are not a magical solution for all problems that classical computers can't solve," Forrester's Hopkins said. "They are a potential solution for some of the problems that classical computers can't solve." He added that the tech industry today is in the middle of discovering what quantum computers can do. Answering those questions will take a few more years, and achieving the ultimate promise of quantum computers could take a decade or two, Hopkins said. But thanks to the new Q System One, researchers and the general public now have a notable milestone by which to judge the advance of quantum computing. That system will help cut down on upgrade times for these machines to hours or days, instead of days or weeks. It should also make it easier for IBM to build more of these machines to support a future quantum computing business. "We set out to build something which was highly functional, but beautiful," Sutor said, "and would give us a way to look at what we were doing in the future." Sutor wasn't under any misconceptions that his work is nearly finished. When I asked him what the next steps are for his project, he said: "What do we have to do? Everything." Source
  19. At CES, IBM today announced its first commercial quantum computer for use outside of the lab. The 20-qubit system combines into a single package the quantum and classical computing parts it takes to use a machine like this for research and business applications. That package, the IBM Q system, is still huge, of course, but it includes everything a company would need to get started with its quantum computing experiments, including all the machinery necessary to cool the quantum computing hardware. While IBM describes it as the first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use, it’s worth stressing that a 20-qubit machine is nowhere near powerful enough for most of the commercial applications that people envision for a quantum computer with more qubits — and qubits that are useful for more than 100 microseconds. It’s no surprise then, that IBM stresses that this is a first attempt and that the systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” Right now, we’re not quite there yet, but the company also notes that these systems are upgradable (and easy to maintain). “The IBM Q System One is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing,” said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud and director of IBM Research. “This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science.” More than anything, though, IBM seems to be proud of the design of the Q systems. In a move that harkens back to Cray’s supercomputers with its expensive couches, IBM worked with design studios Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio, as well Goppion, the company that has built, among other things, the display cases that house the U.K.’s crown jewels and the Mona Lisa. IBM clearly thinks of the Q system as a piece of art and, indeed, the final result is quite stunning. It’s a nine-foot-tall and nine-foot-wide airtight box, with the quantum computing chandelier hanging in the middle, with all of the parts neatly hidden away. If you want to buy yourself a quantum computer, you’ll have to work with IBM, though. It won’t be available with free two-day shipping on Amazon anytime soon. In related news, IBM also announced the IBM Q Network, a partnership with ExxonMobil and research labs like CERN and Fermilab that aims to build a community that brings together the business and research interests to explore use cases for quantum computing. The organizations that partner with IBM will get access to its quantum software and cloud-based quantum computing systems. Source
  20. HPE and IBM were attacked by hackers working on behalf of the Chinese government, multiple sources have claimed. News of the attack, thought to be part of a long-running campaign known as Cloudhopper, was reported to Reuters by five sources, and targeted secrets both the tech giants themselves and their customers. Cloudhopper targets the companies known as managed service providers (MSPs) tasked by the likes of IBM and HPE with managing their IT operations remotely. The attack was able to successfully target the MSPs used by IBM and HPE to gain access to their client networks, and then steal customer information. The MSPs targeted by the attack have not been named, but could cover a range of roles with either firm, from networking to hardware such as servers or storage. Cloudhopper Reuters' sources have claimed that other major technology firms could also have been affected, as Cloudhopper has been in operation for several years. Neither HPE nor IBM have commented on the specific details of the attack, but did provide statements. “IBM has been aware of the reported attacks and already has taken extensive counter-measures worldwide as part of our continuous efforts to protect the company and our clients against constantly evolving threats,” IBM said. “We take responsible stewardship of client data very seriously, and have no evidence that sensitive IBM or client data has been compromised by this threat.” HPE noted that it had spun out its MSP operations to form a new business, DXC Technology, as part of the 2017 merger with Computer Sciences Corp. “The security of HPE customer data is our top priority,” HPE said. “We are unable to comment on the specific details described in the indictment, but HPE’s managed services provider business moved to DXC Technology in connection with HPE’s divestiture of its Enterprise Services business in 2017.” source
  21. By Joey Sneddon Wondering what Mark Shuttleworth thinks about IBM buying Red Hat? Well, wonder no more. The Ubuntu founder has shared his thoughts on IBM’s game-changing purchase in a short but pointed blog post. And, few of you will be surprised to learn, the space-faring free-software fan thinks the deal marks a “significant moment in the progression of open source to the mainstream”. And rightly so: there was a time when open source was viewed as the outside option. Now, thanks to companies like Red Hat and Canonical, it’s the de-facto option. Naturally Shuttleworth is also feeling bullish about Ubuntu’s position as a Red Hat rival, particularly in the area of cloud computing (the main market motivator behind IBM’s $34 billion buy). And, he adds, the world has moved on — even from Red Hat. “The decline in RHEL growth contrasted with the acceleration in Linux more broadly is a strong market indicator of the next wave of open source,” he writes. “Public cloud workloads have largely avoided RHEL. Container workloads even more so. Moving at the speed of developers means embracing open source in ways that have led the world’s largest companies, the world’s fastest moving startups, and those who believe that security and velocity are best solved together, to Ubuntu.” Shuttleworth says theres an ‘accelerated momentum’ behind Ubuntu within the enterprise space, in all areas, from IoT, public cloud and Kubernetes to machine learning and AI — all sectors IBM and Red Hat will be hoping its combined clout can carve more marketshare from. Companies aren’t just using Ubuntu. They’re choosing Ubuntu. It’s a confidence that won’t be knocked by IBM’s deal: “We are determined that Ubuntu is judged as the world’s most secure, most cost-effective and most faithful vehicle for open source initiatives. We look forward to helping [companies…] deliver the innovation on which their future growth depends.” While Mark Shuttleworth’s statement doesn’t strictly relate to desktop matters (the primary focus of this site) his take is worth hearing all the same. It’s reassuring to know that far from being intimated or downbeat about the biggest deal in open-source history, they feel Ubuntu still has plenty to offer. In a game of who can be the biggest, best and most bountiful open-source software company, can the wider FOSS community ever lose? Source
  22. steven36

    IBM’s Old Playbook

    The best way to understand how it is Red Hat built a multi-billion dollar business off of open source software is to start with IBM. Founder Bob Young explained at the All Things Open conference in 2014: Yesterday Young’s story came full circle when IBM bought Red Hat for $34 billion, a 60% premium over Red Hat’s Friday closing price. IBM is hoping it too to can come full circle: recapture Gerstner’s magic, which depended not only on his insight about services, but also a secular shift in enterprise computing. How Gerstner Transformed IBM I’ve written previously about Gerstner’s IBM turnaround in the context of Satya Nadella’s attempt to do the same at Microsoft, and Gerstner’s insight that while culture is extremely difficult to change, it is impossible to change nature. From Microsoft’s Monopoly Hangover: A strategy predicated on providing solutions, though, needs a problem, and the other thing that made Gerstner’s turnaround possible was the Internet. By the mid-1990s businesses were faced with a completely new set of technologies that were nominally similar to their IT projects of the last fifteen years, but in fact completely different. Gerstner described the problem/opportunity in Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance: Those of you my age or older surely remember what soon became IBM’s ubiquitous ‘e’: IBM went on to spend over $5 billion marketing “e-business”, an investment Gerstner called “one of the finest jobs of brand positions I’ve seen in my career.” It worked because it was true: large enterprises, most of which had only ever interacted with customers indirectly through a long chain of wholesalers and distributors and retailers suddenly had the capability — the responsibility, even — of interacting with end users directly. This could be as simple as a website, or e-commerce, or customer support, not to mention the ability to tap into all of the other parts of the value chain in real-time. The technology challenges and the business possibilities — the problem set, if you will — were immense, and Gerstner positioned IBM as the company that could solve these new problems. It was an attractive proposition for nearly all non-tech companies: the challenge with the Internet in the 1990s was that the underlying technologies were so varied and quite immature; different problem spaces had different companies hawking products, many of them startups with no experience working with large enterprises, and even if they had better products no IT department wanted to manage and integrate a multitude of vendors. IBM, on the other hand, offered the proverbial “one throat to choke”; they promised to solve all of the problems associated with this new-fangled Internet stuff, and besides, IT departments were familiar and comfortable with IBM. It was also a strategy that made sense in its potential to squeeze profit out of the value chain: \ The actual technologies underlying the Internet were open and commoditized, which meant IBM could form a point of integration and extract profits, which is exactly what happened: IBM’s revenue and growth increased steadily — often rapidly! — over the next decade, as the company managed everything from datacenters to internal networks to external websites to e-commerce operations to all the middleware that tied it together (made by IBM, naturally, which was where the company made most of its profits). IBM took care of everything, slowly locking its customers in, and once again grew fat and lazy. When IBM Lost the Cloud In the final paragraph of Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? Gerstner wrote of his successor Sam Palmisano: Palmisano failed miserably, and there is no greater example than his 2010 announcement of the company’s 2015 Roadmap, which was centered around a promise of delivering $20/share in profit by 2015. Palmisano said at the time: Amazon Web Services, meanwhile, had launched a full four years and two months before Palmisano’s declaration; it was the height of folly to not simply mock the idea of the cloud, but to commit to a profit number in the face of an existential threat that was predicated on spending absolutely massive amounts of money on infrastructure. Gerstner identified exactly what it was that Palmisano got wrong: he was “inward-looking and self-absorbed” such that he couldn’t imagine an enterprise solution better than IBM’s customized solutions. That, though, was to miss the point. As I wrote in a Daily Update back in 2014 when the company formally abandoned the 2015 profit goal: The company has spent the years since then claiming it is committed to catching up in the public cloud, but the truth is that Palmisano sealed the company’s cloud fate when he failed to invest a decade ago; indeed, one of the most important takeaways from the Red Hat acquisition is the admission that IBM’s public cloud efforts are effectively dead. IBM’s Struggles So what precisely is the point of IBM acquiring Red Hat, and what if anything does it have to do with Lou Gerstner? Well first off, IBM hasn’t been doing very well for quite some time now: last year’s annual revenue was the lowest since 1997, part-way through Gerstner’s transformation; of course, as this ZDNet article from whence this graph comes points out, $79 billion in 1997 is $120 billion today. The company did finally return to growth earlier this year after 22 straight quarters of decline, only to decline again last quarter: IBM’s ancient mainframe business was up 2%, and its traditional services business, up 3%, but Technology Services and Cloud Platforms were flat, and Cognitive Solutions (i.e. Watson) was down 5%. Meanwhile, the aformentioned commitment to the cloud has mostly been an accounting fiction derived from re-classifying existing businesses; the more pertinent number is the company’s capital expenditures, which in 2017 were $3.2 billion, down from 2016’s $3.6 billion. Charles Fitzgerald writes on Platformonomics: The Red Hat Acquisition This is where the Red Hat acquisition comes in: while IBM will certainly be happy to have the company’s cash-generating RHEL subscription business, the real prize is Openshift, a software suite for building and managing Kubernetes containers. I wrote about Kubernetes in 2016’s How Google is Challenging AWS: This is exactly what IBM is counting on; the company wrote in its press release announcing the deal: This is the bet: while in the 1990s the complexity of the Internet made it difficult for businesses to go online, providing an opening for IBM to sell solutions, today IBM argues the reduction of cloud computing to three centralized providers makes businesses reluctant to commit to any one of them. IBM is betting it can again provide the solution, combining with Red Hat to build products that will seamlessly bridge private data centers and all of the public clouds. IBM’s Unprepared Mind The best thing going for this strategy is its pragmatism: IBM gave up its potential to compete in the public cloud a decade ago, faked it for the last five years, and now is finally admitting its best option is to build on top of everyone else’s clouds. That, though, gets at the strategy’s weakness: it seems more attuned to IBM’s needs than potential customers. After all, if an enterprise is concerned about lock-in, is IBM really a better option? And if the answer is that “Red Hat is open”, at what point do increasingly sophisticated businesses build it themselves? The problem for IBM is that they are not building solutions for clueless IT departments bewildered by a dizzying array of open technologies: instead they are building on top of three cloud providers, one of which (Microsoft) is specializing in precisely the sort of hybrid solutions that IBM is targeting. The difference is that because Microsoft has actually spent the money on infrastructure their ability to extract money from the value chain is correspondingly higher; IBM has to pay rent: Perhaps the bigger issue, though, goes back to Gerstner: before IBM could take advantage of the Internet, the company needed an overhaul of its culture; the extent to which the company will manage to leverage its acquisition of Red Hat will depend on a similar transformation. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely; current CEO Ginni Rometty, who took over the company at the beginning of 2012, not only supported Palmisano’s disastrous Roadmap 2015, she actually undertook most of the cuts and financial engineering necessary to make it happen, before finally giving up in 2014. Meanwhile the company’s most prominent marketing has been around Watson, the capabilities of which have been significantly oversold; it’s not a surprise sales are shrinking after disappointing rollouts. Gerstner knew turnarounds were hard: he called the arrival of the Internet “lucky” in terms of his tenure at IBM. But, as the Louis Pasteur quote goes, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” Gerstner had identified a strategy and begun to change the culture of IBM, so that when the problem arrived, the company was ready. Today IBM claims it has found a problem; it is an open question if the problem actually exists, but unfortunately there is even less evidence that IBM is truly ready to take advantage of it if it does. Source
  23. Speculation that running joint venture with shipping giant Maersk might be off-putting to rivals IBM has admitted that its blockchain-based trade platform, set up with shipping giant Maersk, is struggling to gain traction with other carriers. The joint venture began about 10 months ago with the aim of simplifying the cost, complexity and size of global shipping networks, while offering more transparency and cutting the costs and time involved. The platform, named TradeLens, was officially launched in August. The product uses distributed ledger technology to establish a shared, immutable record of all the transactions that take place in the network, so the various trading parties can gain, with permissions, access to that data in real-time. Maersk’s Michael White said in a blogpost at the launch that this would tackle industry issues such as inconsistent data, “complex, cumbersome and often expensive peer-to-peer messaging” and “inefficient clearance processes”. IBM and Maersk began collaborating on blockchain in June 2016, and the reason for launching the joint venture was to allow them to commercialise the product. TradeLens – which is sold as an “open and neutral platform” – has had some successes in signing up port operators and customs authorities: in the summer, it named a group of almost 100 adopters, and just last week added the Port of Montreal to that list. It also announced that the Canada Border Services Agency, which processes more than 14,400 trucks and 127,400 courier shipments and collects more than CDN$88,200,000 in duty and taxes a day, was trialling TradeLens. However, if the platform is to be a success it needs to convince more container carriers to join, as this will allow traders to manage inventory across different carriers. And, with just one carrier – Asian firm Pacific International Lines – signed up, it is struggling. Even IBM is reported to have acknowledged the problem it is facing. As head of TradeLens at IBM Blockchain, Marvin Erdly, told blockchain publication CoinDesk: “We do need to get the other carriers on the platform. Without that network, we don't have a product. That is the reality of the situation.” There appears to be broad support for the principle of an industry-wide blockchain standard that can be used for ocean shipping, and so the companies are concerned that the prominent role of Maersk – the world’s largest container shipping company – is putting off rivals. "Obviously the fact that Maersk is driving this is both a really good thing and a worrying thing because they are such a big player in the industry,” Erdly is reported to have said. “As you can imagine that's going to be a factor." Indeed, Shipping Watch reported in May that execs at carrier giants Hapag Lloyd and CMA CGM had warned against platforms that one firm controlled, calling for wider governance. "Technically the solution (by Maersk and IBM) could be a good platform, but it will require a governance that makes it an industry platform and not just a platform for Maersk and IBM,” Hapag Lloyd CEO Rolf Jansen is reported to have told a conference. “This is the weakness we're currently seeing in many of these initiatives, as each individual project claims to offer an industry platform that they themselves control. This is self-contradictory.” IBM and Maersk do seem aware of the issue: Maersk has established an operational subsidiary to manage staff on the project, which the pair say “ensures TradeLens’ independence from other Maersk business units”. In addition, the duo say they are in the process of setting up an advisory board to work with TradeLens leaders “to address key issues such as the use of open and fair standards”. But the IP created from the work is jointly owned by IBM and Maersk – so the creation of a subsidiary and an advisory board could well be seen by the rest of the industry as sticking plasters not solutions. The Reg has asked IBM for further details on plans for the advisory board and any other measures it might have planned, and will update this article if we hear back. Updated - 30 October, 15.59GMT An IBM spokeswoman told us the company is taking the concerns about equity and governance on board and has worked with carriers to address them. “As a result, a range of carriers on both the global and regional level recognize the TradeLens solution,” she said. “Currently, discussions are progressing regarding potential pilots or full network participation with several of them.” The advisory board, the spokeswoman added, “will provide guidance and feedback to help drive open and fair standards for the TradeLens platform” Source
  24. A patent suit between IBM and Groupon that has been underway for over two years has finally been settled. Today, the two companies announced that Groupon will pay IBM $57 million both to settle infringement claims, as well as to license e-commerce patents from IBM in the future. On IBM’s side, the company said it will “consider” offering Groupon products to employees as part of the company’s corporate benefits package. “The license we have acquired to IBM’s patent portfolio will enable Groupon to continue to build amazing products for consumers and small businesses around the world. We look forward to sharing these products directly with IBM employees,” said Bill Roberts, Groupon vice president of Global Communications, in a statement. The $57 million is a fair bit lower than the initial $83 million that IBM was initially awarded when it had won the case against Groupon in July, and significantly lower than the $167 million that it had originally asked for in damages. Groupon had always argued that it wasn’t guilty because it believed the patents that were in question were too old, and so in July it had said it would consider appealing or applying for a lower sum (which it appears to have achieved). The news puts to rest a case that has been ongoing since March 2016, when IBM filed a case against Groupon alleging that the daily deals site was violating four patents. IBM — one of the world’s biggest technology patent holders, with more than 45,000 now credited to it — is no stranger to litigating against other companies that it believes infringes on them, with other suits involving Twitter, Amazon, Expedia and more. IBM made nearly $1.2 billion in intellectual property licensing and royalties in 2017 according to its annual report. Notably, this was down about 14 percent from 2016’s $1.4 billion, so it seems that the company might look to get more aggressive to bring back growth to that area. “IBM invests over $5 billion annually in research and development,” said Dr. William Lafontaine, IBM’s general manager of intellectual property, in a statement. “This agreement further demonstrates the value of our intellectual property that results from this innovation. We’re pleased this matter has been resolved.” Groupon has a market cap of about $2.2 billion and its stock is up by over three percent today, although overall has been on a downward trend for the last year, as the company continues to struggle to regain some of the momentum it had in its early days around deals for local goods, services and experiences. Source
  25. In the decade after the 9/11 attacks, the New York City Police Department moved to put millions of New Yorkers under constant watch. Warning of terrorism threats, the department created a plan to carpet Manhattan’s downtown streets with thousands of cameras and had, by 2008, centralized its video surveillance operations to a single command center. Two years later, the NYPD announced that the command center, known as the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, had integrated cutting-edge video analytics software into select cameras across the city. The video analytics software captured stills of individuals caught on closed-circuit TV footage and automatically labeled the images with physical tags, such as clothing color, allowing police to quickly search through hours of video for images of individuals matching a description of interest. At the time, the software was also starting to generate alerts for unattended packages, cars speeding up a street in the wrong direction, or people entering restricted areas. Over the years, the NYPD has shared only occasional, small updates on the program’s progress. In a 2011 interview with Scientific American, for example, Inspector Salvatore DiPace, then commanding officer of the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, said the police department was testing whether the software could box out images of people’s faces as they passed by subway cameras and subsequently cull through the images for various unspecified “facial features.” While facial recognition technology, which measures individual faces at over 16,000 points for fine-grained comparisons with other facial images, has attracted significant legal scrutiny and media attention, this object identification software has largely evaded attention. How exactly this technology came to be developed and which particular features the software was built to catalog have never been revealed publicly by the NYPD. Now, thanks to confidential corporate documents and interviews with many of the technologists involved in developing the software, The Intercept and the Investigative Fund have learned that IBM began developing this object identification technology using secret access to NYPD camera footage. With access to images of thousands of unknowing New Yorkers offered up by NYPD officials, as early as 2012, IBM was creating new search features that allow other police departments to search camera footage for images of people by hair color, facial hair, and skin tone. IBM declined to comment on its use of NYPD footage to develop the software. However, in an email response to questions, the NYPD did tell The Intercept that “Video, from time to time, was provided to IBM to ensure that the product they were developing would work in the crowded urban NYC environment and help us protect the City. There is nothing in the NYPD’s agreement with IBM that prohibits sharing data with IBM for system development purposes. Further, all vendors who enter into contractual agreements with the NYPD have the absolute requirement to keep all data furnished by the NYPD confidential during the term of the agreement, after the completion of the agreement, and in the event that the agreement is terminated.” In an email to The Intercept, the NYPD confirmed that select counterterrorism officials had access to a pre-released version of IBM’s program, which included skin tone search capabilities, as early as the summer of 2012. NYPD spokesperson Peter Donald said the search characteristics were only used for evaluation purposes and that officers were instructed not to include the skin tone search feature in their assessment. The department eventually decided not to integrate the analytics program into its larger surveillance architecture, and phased out the IBM program in 2016. After testing out these bodily search features with the NYPD, IBM released some of these capabilities in a 2013 product release. Later versions of IBM’s software retained and expanded these bodily search capabilities. (IBM did not respond to a question about the current availability of its video analytics programs.) Asked about the secrecy of this collaboration, the NYPD said that “various elected leaders and stakeholders” were briefed on the department’s efforts “to keep this city safe,” adding that sharing camera access with IBM was necessary for the system to work. IBM did not respond to a question about why the company didn’t make this collaboration public. Donald said IBM gave the department licenses to apply the system to 512 cameras, but said the analytics were tested on “fewer than fifty.” He added that IBM personnel had access to certain cameras for the sole purpose of configuring NYPD’s system, and that the department put safeguards in place to protect the data, including “non-disclosure agreements for each individual accessing the system; non-disclosure agreements for the companies the vendors worked for; and background checks.” Civil liberties advocates contend that New Yorkers should have been made aware of the potential use of their physical data for a private company’s development of surveillance technology. The revelations come as a city council bill that would require NYPD transparency about surveillance acquisitions continues to languish, due, in part, to outspoken opposition from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD. Skin Tone Search Technology, Refined on New Yorkers IBM’s initial breakthroughs in object recognition technology were envisioned for technologies like self-driving cars or image recognition on the internet, said Rick Kjeldsen, a former IBM researcher. But after 9/11, Kjeldsen and several of his colleagues realized their program was well suited for counterterror surveillance. “After 9/11, the funding sources and the customer interest really got driven toward security,” said Kjeldsen, who said he worked on the NYPD program from roughly 2009 through 2013. “Even though that hadn’t been our focus up to that point, that’s where demand was.” IBM’s first major urban video surveillance project was with the Chicago Police Department and began around 2005, according to Kjeldsen. The department let IBM experiment with the technology in downtown Chicago until 2013, but the collaboration wasn’t seen as a real business partnership. “Chicago was always known as, it’s not a real — these guys aren’t a real customer. This is kind of a development, a collaboration with Chicago,” Kjeldsen said. “Whereas New York, these guys were a customer. And they had expectations accordingly.” The NYPD acquired IBM’s video analytics software as one part of the Domain Awareness System, a shared project of the police department and Microsoft that centralized a vast web of surveillance sensors in lower and midtown Manhattan — including cameras, license plate readers, and radiation detectors — into a unified dashboard. IBM entered the picture as a subcontractor to Microsoft subsidiary Vexcel in 2007, as part of a project worth $60.7 million over six years, according to the internal IBM documents. In New York, the terrorist threat “was an easy selling point,” recalled Jonathan Connell, an IBM researcher who worked on the initial NYPD video analytics installation. “You say, ‘Look what the terrorists did before, they could come back, so you give us some money and we’ll put a camera there.” A former NYPD technologist who helped design the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, asking to speak on background citing fears of professional reprisal, confirmed IBM’s role as a “strategic vendor.” “In our review of video analytics vendors at that time, they were well ahead of everyone else in my personal estimation,” the technologist said. According to internal IBM planning documents, the NYPD began integrating IBM’s surveillance product in March 2010 for the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, a counterterrorism command center launched by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in 2008. In a “60 Minutes” tour of the command center in 2011, Jessica Tisch, then the NYPD’s director of policy and planning for counterterrorism, showed off the software on gleaming widescreen monitors, demonstrating how it could pull up images and video clips of people in red shirts. Tisch did not mention the partnership with IBM. During Kelly’s tenure as police commissioner, the NYPD quietly worked with IBM as the company tested out its object recognition technology on a select number of NYPD and subway cameras, according to IBM documents. “We really needed to be able to test out the algorithm,” said Kjeldsen, who explained that the software would need to process massive quantities of diverse images in order to learn how to adjust to the differing lighting, shadows, and other environmental factors in its view. “We were almost using the video for both things at that time, taking it to the lab to resolve issues we were having or to experiment with new technology,” Kjeldsen said. At the time, the department hoped that video analytics would improve analysts’ ability to identify suspicious objects and persons in real time in sensitive areas, according to Conor McCourt, a retired NYPD counterterrorism sergeant who said he used IBM’s program in its initial stages. “Say you have a suspicious bag left in downtown Manhattan, as a person working in the command center,” McCourt said. “It could be that the analytics saw the object sitting there for five minutes, and says, ‘Look, there’s an object sitting there.’” Operators could then rewind the video or look at other cameras nearby, he explained, to get a few possibilities as to who had left the object behind. Over the years, IBM employees said, they started to become more concerned as they worked with the NYPD to allow the program to identify demographic characteristics. By 2012, according to the internal IBM documents, researchers were testing out the video analytics software on the bodies and faces of New Yorkers, capturing and archiving their physical data as they walked in public or passed through subway turnstiles. With these close-up images, IBM refined its ability to search for people on camera according to a variety of previously undisclosed features, such as age, gender, hair color (called “head color”), the presence of facial hair — and skin tone. The documents reference meetings between NYPD personnel and IBM researchers to review the development of body identification searches conducted at subway turnstile cameras. “We were certainly worried about where the heck this was going,” recalled Kjeldsen. “There were a couple of us that were always talking about this, you know, ‘If this gets better, this could be an issue.’” According to the NYPD, counterterrorism personnel accessed IBM’s bodily search feature capabilities only for evaluation purposes, and they were accessible only to a handful of counterterrorism personnel. “While tools that featured either racial or skin tone search capabilities were offered to the NYPD, they were explicitly declined by the NYPD,” Donald, the NYPD spokesperson, said. “Where such tools came with a test version of the product, the testers were instructed only to test other features (clothing, eyeglasses, etc.), but not to test or use the skin tone feature. That is not because there would have been anything illegal or even improper about testing or using these tools to search in the area of a crime for an image of a suspect that matched a description given by a victim or a witness. It was specifically to avoid even the suggestion or appearance of any kind of technological racial profiling.” The NYPD ended its use of IBM’s video analytics program in 2016, Donald said. Donald acknowledged that, at some point in 2016 or early 2017, IBM approached the NYPD with an upgraded version of the video analytics program that could search for people by ethnicity. “The Department explicitly rejected that product,” he said, “based on the inclusion of that new search parameter.” In 2017, IBM released Intelligent Video Analytics 2.0, a product with a body camera surveillance capability that allows users to detect people captured on camera by “ethnicity” tags, such as “Asian,” “Black,” and “White.” Kjeldsen, the former IBM researcher who helped develop the company’s skin tone analytics with NYPD camera access, said the department’s claim that the NYPD simply tested and rejected the bodily search features was misleading. “We would have not explored it had the NYPD told us, ‘We don’t want to do that,’” he said. “No company is going to spend money where there’s not customer interest.” Kjeldsen also added that the NYPD’s decision to allow IBM access to their cameras was crucial for the development of the skin tone search features, noting that during that period, New York City served as the company’s “primary testing area,” providing the company with considerable environmental diversity for software refinement. “The more different situations you can use to develop your software, the better it’s going be,” Kjeldsen said. “That obviously pertains to people, skin tones, whatever it is you might be able to classify individuals as, and it also goes for clothing.” The NYPD’s cooperation with IBM has since served as a selling point for the product at California State University, Northridge. There, campus police chief Anne Glavin said the technology firm IXP helped sell her on IBM’s object identification product by citing the NYPD’s work with the company. “They talked about what it’s done for New York City. IBM was very much behind that, so this was obviously of great interest to us,” Glavin said. Day-to-Day Policing, Civil Liberties Concerns The NYPD-IBM video analytics program was initially envisioned as a counterterrorism tool for use in midtown and lower Manhattan, according to Kjeldsen. However, the program was integrated during its testing phase into dozens of cameras across the city. According to the former NYPD technologist, it could have been integrated into everyday criminal investigations. “All bureaus of the department could make use of it,” said the former technologist, potentially helping detectives investigate everything from sex crimes to fraud cases. Kjeldsen spoke of cameras being placed at building entrances and near parking entrances to monitor for suspicious loiterers and abandoned bags. Donald, the NYPD spokesperson, said the program’s access was limited to a small number of counterterrorism officials, adding, “We are not aware of any case where video analytics was a factor in an arrest or prosecution.” Campus police at California State University, Northridge, who adopted IBM’s software, said the bodily search features have been helpful in criminal investigations. Asked about whether officers have deployed the software’s ability to filter through footage for suspects’ clothing color, hair color, and skin tone, Captain Scott VanScoy at California State University, Northridge, responded affirmatively, relaying a story about how university detectives were able to use such features to quickly filter through their cameras and find two suspects in a sexual assault case. “We were able to pick up where they were at different locations from earlier that evening and put a story together, so it saves us a ton of time,” Vanscoy said. “By the time we did the interviews, we already knew the story and they didn’t know we had known.” Glavin, the chief of the campus police, added that surveillance cameras using IBM’s software had been placed strategically across the campus to capture potential security threats, such as car robberies or student protests. “So we mapped out some CCTV in that area and a path of travel to our main administration building, which is sometimes where people will walk to make their concerns known and they like to stand outside that building,” Glavin said. “Not that we’re a big protest campus, we’re certainly not a Berkeley, but it made sense to start to build the exterior camera system there.” Civil liberties advocates say they are alarmed by the NYPD’s secrecy in helping to develop a program with the potential capacity for mass racial profiling. The identification technology IBM built could be easily misused after a major terrorist attack, argued Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “Whether or not the perpetrator is Muslim, the presumption is often that he or she is,” she said. “It’s easy to imagine law enforcement jumping to a conclusion about the ethnic and religious identity of a suspect, hastily going to the database of stored videos and combing through it for anyone who meets that physical description, and then calling people in for questioning on that basis.” IBM did not comment on questions about the potential use of its software for racial profiling. However, the company did send a comment to The Intercept pointing out that it was “one of the first companies anywhere to adopt a set of principles for trust and transparency for new technologies, including AI systems.” The statement continued on to explain that IBM is “making publicly available to other companies a dataset of annotations for more than a million images to help solve one of the biggest issues in facial analysis — the lack of diverse data to train AI systems.” Few laws clearly govern object recognition or the other forms of artificial intelligence incorporated into video surveillance, according to Clare Garvie, a law fellow at Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology. “Any form of real-time location tracking may raise a Fourth Amendment inquiry,” Garvie said, citing a 2012 Supreme Court case, United States v. Jones, that involved police monitoring a car’s path without a warrant and resulted in five justices suggesting that individuals could have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their public movements. In addition, she said, any form of “identity-based surveillance” may compromise people’s right to anonymous public speech and association. Garvie noted that while facial recognition technology has been heavily criticized for the risk of false matches, that risk is even higher for an analytics system “tracking a person by other characteristics, like the color of their clothing and their height,” that are not unique characteristics. The former NYPD technologist acknowledged that video analytics systems can make mistakes, and noted a study where the software had trouble characterizing people of color: “It’s never 100 percent.” But the program’s identification of potential suspects was, he noted, only the first step in a chain of events that heavily relies on human expertise. “The technology operators hand the data off to the detective,” said the technologist. “You use all your databases to look for potential suspects and you give it to a witness to look at. … This is all about finding a way to shorten the time to catch the bad people.” Object identification programs could also unfairly drag people into police suspicion just because of generic physical characteristics, according to Jerome Greco, a digital forensics staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, New York’s largest public defenders organization. “I imagine a scenario where a vague description, like young black male in a hoodie, is fed into the system, and the software’s undisclosed algorithm identifies a person in a video walking a few blocks away from the scene of an incident,” Greco said. “The police find an excuse to stop him, and, after the stop, an officer says the individual matches a description from the earlier incident.” All of a sudden, Greco continued, “a man who was just walking in his own neighborhood” could be charged with a serious crime without him or his attorney ever knowing “that it all stemmed from a secret program which he cannot challenge.” While the technology could be used for appropriate law enforcement work, Kjeldsen said that what bothered him most about his project was the secrecy he and his colleagues had to maintain. “We certainly couldn’t talk about what cameras we were using, what capabilities we were putting on cameras,” Kjeldsen said. “They wanted to control public perception and awareness of LMSI” — the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative — “so we always had to be cautious about even that part of it, that we’re involved, and who we were involved with, and what we were doing.” (IBM did not respond to a question about instructing its employees not to speak publicly about its work with the NYPD.) The way the NYPD helped IBM develop this technology without the public’s consent sets a dangerous precedent, Kjeldsen argued. “Are there certain activities that are nobody’s business no matter what?” he asked. “Are there certain places on the boundaries of public spaces that have an expectation of privacy? And then, how do we build tools to enforce that? That’s where we need the conversation. That’s exactly why knowledge of this should become more widely available — so that we can figure that out.” This article was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Source
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