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I installed Verizon’s free junk call blocker and it seems to kind of help

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How to fight robocalls: The basics
You can’t block all the spam phone calls, but blocking some is better than blocking none. Read more: https://zd.net/2GGv83H

This is something of an “on one hand, on the other hand” story. I’m going to start by heaping faint praise on Verizon, but I’ll end by scolding them. Are you surprised? Of course not.

We all get spam calls, scam calls, and robocalls. According to the US Federal Trade Commission Report on Robocalls CG Docket No. 17-59, nearly half of all calls made to cell phones in 2019 will be robocalls. Additionally, there are human-driven spam and scam calls that will add to that call volume.

Also: Scam alert: Identifying and blocking “Google” robocall spam

Last year, I decided to look into one of the more common spam calls I regularly got: The “your local Google representative” calls. I reached out to Google and was told that Google does not robocall. I subsequently wrote about a bunch of ways you can report calls you consider spam.

But what if you just plain don’t want your phone to ring? There are a bunch of third-party add-on apps that work by call forwarding all your calls to their service, and they then forward what they consider legitimate calls back to you. It’s a hack, and according to my former ZDNet buddy Zack Whittaker, who’s now writing for TechCrunch, they’re stealing your data and sending it on to marketing companies without your permission.

In other words, while they’re blocking some calls, many of these services are harvesting your data to sell so you get more calls. Lovely, right?

The carrier-based solution

There is, however, one solution worth considering. The call-blocking or call-filtering service offered by your phone’s carrier. I use Verizon, so in this article, I’m going to talk about Verizon’s service. If you use another carrier’s service, please report on your experiences in the comments section at the end of this article.

I’m willing to use a carrier-based service where I’m not willing to use a third-party service for one simple reason: my carrier knows everything, anyway. Since all my calls go through Verizon, either they’re going to protect my privacy, or they’re not. There’s nothing I can do about it. So I might as well avail myself of an additional service from them that can make my life easier.

Verizon offers a call filtering service. It’s a little difficult to find at the bottom of the My Verizon page, but it’s there. For convenience, here’s the link for you to follow without doing any digging.

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Verizon offers two versions of their Call Filter service, a free option and one where you pay three bucks a month, or eight dollars for up to three lines. I signed up for the free service because it offended me to be asked to pay for an add-on service that should be provided for free.

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After all, if Verizon has the technology to block spam calls, letting them go through is not only annoying to their customers but costly to every telecommunications partner in the call chain. Verizon is actively withholding a good public service merely for an extra three bucks a month. Seems heinous to me (yes, I said “heinous,” because it really does grind my grits).

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In any case, I enabled the free service, which works relatively well.

To get the process started, you’ll need to download an app from the App Store. For iPhones, Verizon provides a download link.

For Android phones, Verizon claims the app is generally pre-installed. I went looking on the Google Play Store for a Verizon Call Filter app and did not find one. I recommend you check with Verizon directly. Given Zack’s warning about scammers, don’t just download an app that looks like it’ll do the job. Check specifically with Verizon support to get the right thing for your Android phone.

How well does it work?

At its best, a notification (you can silence it via a setting in the app) appears on my home screen letting me know that a call has been blocked.

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I get relatively few of these, but anytime Verizon blocks a call I don’t need to take, I consider it a small win.

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More often than not, though, I get calls that ring through, but are listed as “Potential Spam.” These I silence by pressing one of the volume control buttons on my phone, figuring that if it’s important the caller will leave a voicemail.

As the screenshot on the right shows, over the course of a particularly quiet five-day period, about a third of my calls were caught as potential spam, another third of the calls got through (and were spam), and I had two legitimate calls.

The results aren’t as good as I’d like. I’d prefer never to get a ring from Potential Spam calls. I’d also prefer Verizon blocked the other spam calls that it’s missing. I do wonder whether I’d get better results if I paid the three bucks a month, but darn it, you have to make a stand somewhere, and I can’t bring myself to reward Verizon with extra cash for doing something they should be doing anyway.

In any case, enabling free service seems to be a no brainer. It helps. It’s easy. It’s free. I recommend you do it today.


You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.



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Key Criteria for Evaluating Security Information and Event Management Solutions (SIEM)

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Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions consolidate multiple security data streams under a single roof. Initially, SIEM supported early detection of cyberattacks and data breaches by collecting and correlating security event logs. Over time, it evolved into sophisticated systems capable of ingesting huge volumes of data from disparate sources, analyzing data in real time, and gathering additional context from threat intelligence feeds and new sources of security-related data. Next-generation SIEM solutions deliver tight integrations with other security products, advanced analytics, and semi-autonomous incident response.

SIEM solutions can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of the two. Deployment models must be weighed with regard to the environments the SIEM solution will protect. With more and more digital infrastructure and services becoming mission critical to every enterprise, SIEMs must handle higher volumes of data. Vendors and customers are increasingly focused on cloud-based solutions, whether SaaS or cloud-hosted models, for their scalability and flexibility.

The latest developments for SIEM solutions include machine learning capabilities for incident detection, advanced analytics features that include user behavior analytics (UBA), and integrations with other security solutions, such as security orchestration automation and response (SOAR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems. Even though additional capabilities within the SIEM environment are a natural progression, customers are finding it even more difficult to deploy, customize, and operate SIEM solutions.

Other improvements include better user experience and lower time-to-value for new deployments. To achieve this, vendors are working on:

  • Streamlining data onboarding
  • Preloading customizable content—use cases, rulesets, and playbooks
  • Standardizing data formats and labels
  • Mapping incident alerts to common frameworks, such as the MITRE ATT&CK framework

Vendors and service providers are also expanding their offerings beyond managed SIEM solutions to à la carte services, such as content development services and threat hunting-as-a-service.

There is no one-size-fits-all SIEM solution. Each organization will have to evaluate its own requirements and resource constraints to find the right solution. Organizations will weigh factors such as deployment models or integrations with existing applications and security solutions. However, the main decision factor for most customers will revolve around usability, affordability, and return on investment. Fortunately, a wide range of solutions available in the market can almost guarantee a good fit for every customer.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Secure Service Access

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Since the inception of large-scale computing, enterprises, organizations, and service providers have protected their digital assets by securing the perimeter of their on-premises data centers. With the advent of cloud computing, the perimeter has dissolved, but—in most cases—the legacy approach to security hasn not. Many corporations still manage the expanded enterprise and remote workforce as an extension of the old headquarters office/branch model serviced by LANs and WANs.

Bolting new security products onto their aging networks increased costs and complexity exponentially, while at the same time severely limiting their ability to meet regulatory compliance mandates, scale elastically, or secure the threat surface of the new any place/any user/any device perimeter.

The result? Patchwork security ill-suited to the demands of the post-COVID distributed enterprise.

Converging networking and security, secure service access (SSA) represents a significant shift in the way organizations consume network security, enabling them to replace multiple security vendors with a single, integrated platform offering full interoperability and end-to-end redundancy. Encompassing secure access service edge (SASE), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and extended detection and response (XDR), SSA shifts the focus of security consumption from being either data center or edge-centric to being ubiquitous, with an emphasis on securing services irrespective of user identity or resources accessed.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report outlines critical criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting an SSA solution. The corresponding GigaOm Radar Report provides an overview of notable SSA vendors and their offerings available today. Together, these reports are designed to help educate decision-makers, making them aware of various approaches and vendors that are meeting the challenges of the distributed enterprise in the post-pandemic era.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Edge Platforms

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Edge platforms leverage distributed infrastructure to deliver content, computing, and security closer to end devices, offloading networks and improving performance. We define edge platforms as the solutions capable of providing end users with millisecond access to processing power, media files, storage, secure connectivity, and related “cloud-like” services.

The key benefit of edge platforms is bringing websites, applications, media, security, and a multitude of virtual infrastructures and services closer to end devices compared to public or private cloud locations.

The need for content proximity started to become more evident in the early 2000s as the web evolved from a read-only service to a read-write experience, and users worldwide began both consuming and creating content. Today, this is even more important, as live and on-demand video streaming at very high resolutions cannot be sustained from a single central location. Content delivery networks (CDNs) helped host these types of media at the edge, and the associated network optimization methods allowed them to provide these new demanding services.

As we moved into the early 2010s, we experienced the rapid cloudification of traditional infrastructure. Roughly speaking, cloud computing takes a server from a user’s office, puts it in a faraway data center, and allows it to be used across the internet. Cloud providers manage the underlying hardware and provide it as a service, allowing users to provision their own virtual infrastructure. There are many operational benefits, but at least one unavoidable downside: the increase in latency. This is especially true in this dawning age of distributed enterprises for which there is not just a single office to optimize. Instead, “the office” is now anywhere and everywhere employees happen to be.

Even so, this centralized, cloud-based compute methodology works very well for most enterprise applications, as long as there is no critical sensitivity to delay. But what about use cases that cannot tolerate latency? Think industrial monitoring and control, real-time machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and gaming. If a cloud data center is a few hundred or even thousands of miles away, the physical limitations of sending an optical or electrical pulse through a cable mean there are no options to lower the latency. The answer to this is leveraging a distributed infrastructure model, which has traditionally been used by content delivery networks.

As CDNs have brought the internet’s content closer to everyone, CDN providers have positioned themselves in the unique space of owning much of the infrastructure required to bring computing and security closer to users and end devices. With servers close to the topological edge of the network, CDN providers can offer processing power and other “cloud-like” services to end devices with only a few milliseconds latency.

While CDN operators are in the right place at the right time to develop edge platforms, we’ve observed a total of four types of vendors that have been building out relevant—and potentially competing—edge infrastructure. These include traditional CDNs, hyperscale cloud providers, telecommunications companies, and new dedicated edge platform operators, purpose-built for this emerging requirement.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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