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Microsoft Bing is back online in China

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Microsoft’s Bing could not be accessed in China on Thursday due to an accidental technical error rather than for censorship reasons, according to Bloomberg News sources.

Access to Microsoft’s Bing search engine has since been restored in China, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to ZDNet. The company did not provide further explanation for why the outage occurred.

Microsoft president Brad Smith told Fox Business on Thursday that its search engine was down. 

“People in China cannot access Bing, this is not the first time it’s happened. It happens periodically … we’re still waiting to find what this situation is about,” he said.

Smith also acknowledged that Microsoft had fewer legal rights in China than in other countries.

“There are certain principles that we think it’s important to stand up for,” he said. “And we’ll go at times into the negotiating room and the negotiations are sometimes pretty darn direct.”

With Bing, Microsoft has tried to play by China’s censorship rules. For example, the search engine filtered out both English and Chinese language search results of politically-sensitive terms such as “Dalai Lama” and “Tiananmen”, according to China-based freedom of speech advocacy blog GreatFire.org.

The temporary block of Microsoft’s Bing comes at a time when tensions between the US and China are running high, with the introduction of a bipartisan Bill in the US earlier this month to ban the sale of tech to Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, and the US stating on Wednesday it’s intention to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

Both the US and China have already levied tit-fot-tat tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods, and Trump made good on his pledge to escalate the trade war, directing Lighthizer to find another $200 billion worth of products to hit.

Google, Bing’s competitor, withdrew from China in 2010 in opposition to its censorship rules after revealing it had been hacked by the government. It has since moved from its policy of opposing censorship, having made plans for a censored version of its search engine — code-named Dragonfly — for China.

Following the project being made public, 1,000 Google employees signed a letter in August that called for the search company to abandon its efforts to create the censored Chinese search engine. Another open letter protesting against Dragonfly was sent to Google in November, signed by almost 300 of its employees.

“Providing the Chinese government with ready access to user data, as required by Chinese law, would make Google complicit in oppression and human rights abuses,” the November letter created by Google Employees Against Dragonfly states.

The internet is heavily censored in China. In 2017, China shut down over 128,000 so-called harmful websites, at the time, saying that it was part of efforts to maintain “social stability”, taking on “vulgar” and pornographic content as well as the unauthorised dissemination of news.

Related Coverage

US intends to formally extradite Huawei CFO from Canada

The US has informed the Canadian government that it will file a formal request to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on allegations of violating US sanctions.

China denies massive layoffs among internet firms

Since the fourth quarter of 2018, many Chinese reports have suggested that major internet firms in the country are either scaling back or freezing hiring, or axing staff due to lukewarm growth and unfavourable prospects.

China tech spending to hit $273B amidst US trade war, slowing economy

Chinese businesses are projected to spend US$256.61 billion on tech this year and another US$272.84 billion in 2020, focusing their investments on transforming operations and improving efficiencies as they brace themselves for an uncertain geopolitical climate, says Forrester.

Bipartisan Bill introduced to ban sale of US tech to Huawei and ZTE

US lawmakers introduce bipartisan Bill that, if passed, would ban the export of US chips and other components to the two Chinese tech companies.

Huawei looks up to Apple in terms of privacy: Founder Ren Zhengfei

History will judge whether Huawei adhered to its claims to not harm the interests of customers, its founder has said.

China vs. the US: How governments and markets influence tech innovations (TechRepublic)

Quantitative futurist Amy Webb discusses her experiences watching the rise of smartphones while living in China, and how the East’s approach to technology runs parallel to that of the US.

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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When Is a DevSecOps Vendor Not a DevSecOps Vendor?

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DevOps’ general aim is to enable a more efficient process for producing software and technology solutions and bringing stakeholders together to speed up delivery. But we know from experience that this inherently creative, outcome-driven approach often forgets about one thing until too late in the process—security. Too often, security is brought into the timeline just before deployment, risking last minute headaches and major delays. The security team is pushed into being the Greek chorus of the process, “ruining everyone’s fun” by demanding changes and slowing things down.

But as we know, in the complex, multi-cloud and containerized environment we find ourselves in, security is becoming more important and challenging than ever. And the costs of security failure are not only measured in slower deployment, but in compliance breaches and reputational damage.

The term “DevSecOps” has been coined to characterize how security needs to be at the heart of the DevOps process. This is in part principle and part tools. As a principle, DevSecOps fits with the concept of “shifting left,” that is, ensuring that security is treated as early as possible in the development process. So far, so simple.

From a tooling perspective, however, things get more complicated, not least because the market has seen a number of platforms marketing themselves as DevSecOps. As we have been writing our Key Criteria report on the subject, we have learned that not all DevSecOps vendors are necessarily DevSecOps vendors. Specifically, we have learned to distinguish capabilities that directly enable the goals of DevSecOps from a process perspective, from those designed to support DevSecOps practices. We could define them as: “Those that do, and those that help.”

This is how to tell the two types of vendor apart and how to use them.

Vendors Enabling DevSecOps: “Tools That Do”

A number of tools work to facilitate the DevSecOps process -– let’s bite the bullet and call them DevSecOps tools. They help teams set out each stage of software development, bringing siloed teams together behind a unified vision that allows fast, high-quality development, with security considerations at its core. DevSecOps tools work across the development process, for example:

  • Create: Help to set and implement policy
  • Develop: Apply guidance to the process and aid its implementation
  • Test: Facilitate and guide security testing procedures
  • Deploy: Provide reports to assure confidence to deploy the application

The key element that sets these tool sets apart is the ability to automate and reduce friction within the development process. They will prompt action, stop a team from moving from one stage to another if the process has not adequately addressed security concerns, and guide the roadmap for the development from start to finish.

Supporting DevSecOps: “Tools That Help”

In this category we place those tools which aid the execution, and monitoring, of good DevSecOps principles. Security scanning and application/infrastructure hardening tools are a key element of these processes: Software composition analysis (SCA) forms a part of the development stage, static/dynamic application security testing (SAST/DAST) is integral to the test stage and runtime app protection (RASP) is a key to the Deploy stage.

Tools like this are a vital part of the security layer of security tooling, especially just before deployment – and they often come with APIs so they can be plugged into the CI/CD process. However, while these capabilities are very important to DevSecOps, they can be seen in more of a supporting role, rather than being DevSecOps tools per se.

DevSecOps-washing is not a good idea for the enterprise

While one might argue that security should never have been shifted right, DevSecOps exists to ensure that security best practices take place across the development lifecycle. A corollary exists to the idea of “tools that help,” namely that organizations implementing these tools are not “doing DevSecOps,” any more than vendors providing these tools are DevSecOps vendors.

The only way to “do” DevSecOps is to fully embrace security at a process management and governance level: This means assessing risk, defining policy, setting review gates, and disallowing progress for insecure deliverables. Organizations that embrace DevSecOps can get help from what we are calling DevSecOps tools, as well as from scanning and hardening tools that help support its goals.

At the end of the day, all security and governance boils down to risk: If you buy a scanning tool so you can check a box that says “DevSecOps,” you are potentially adding to your risk posture, rather than mitigating it. So, get your DevSecOps strategy fixed first, then consider how you can add automation, visibility, and control using “tools that do,” as well as benefit from “tools that help.”

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High Performance Application Security Testing

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research. It is hosted by an expert in Application and API testing, and GigaOm analyst, Jake Dolezal. His presentation will focus on the results of high performance testing we completed against two security mechanisms: ModSecurity on NGINX and NGINX App Protect. Additionally, we tested the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a fully managed security offering.

While performance is important, it is only one criterion for a Web Application Firewall selection. The results of the report are revealing about these platforms. The methodology will be shown with clarity and transparency on how you might replicate these tests to mimic your own workloads and requirements.

Register now to join GigaOm and sponsor NGINX for this free expert webinar.

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