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UK cybersecurity agency warns devs to drop Python 2 due to looming EOL & security risks

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The UK’s cyber-security agency warned today developers to consider moving Python 2.x codebases to the newer 3.x branch due to the looming end-of-life (EOL) of the Python 2, scheduled for January 1, 2020.

The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) cited security risks and possible code breakage in existing apps as the primary reasons.

“If you’re still using 2.x, it’s time to port your code to Python 3,” the NCSC said. “If you continue to use unsupported modules, you are risking the security of your organisation and data, as vulnerabilities will sooner or later appear which nobody is fixing.”

“If you maintain a library that other developers depend on, you may be preventing them from updating to 3,” the agency added. “By holding other developers back, you are indirectly and likely unintentionally increasing the security risks of others.”

The agency is urging companies and developers alike to migrate their code to the newer Python version. The NCSC’s blog post includes a summary of Python 3’s most attractive features, but also a list of tools that can help developers with the migration, such as Can I Use Python 3, 2to3, Six, and others.

“If migrating your code base to Python 3 is not possible, another option is to pay a commercial company to support Python 2 for you,” the NCSC said.

NCSC: If you don’t migrate, you should expect security incidents

The agency warns that companies who don’t invest in migrating their Python 2.x code might end up in the same position as Equifax or the WannaCry victims.

“At the NCSC we are always stressing the importance of patching. It’s not always easy, but patching is one of the most fundamental things you can do to secure your technology,” the agency said.

“The WannaCry ransomware provides a classic example of what can happen if you run unsupported software,” it said. “By making the decision to continue using Python 2 past its end of life, you are accepting all the risks that come with using unsupported software, while knowing that a secure version is available.”

Python’s popularity makes updating code imperative

The reason the NCSC is warning companies about Python 2’s impending EOL is because of the language’s success.

Since its creation in the mid-90s, Python has conquered the programming world, being one of today’s most in demand languages, best paid, most studied, and most talked about.

It is also widely used in production environments, in places such as Google, Facebook, and Netflix, and is constantly at the top of most programming language rankings, being predicted to overtake both C and Java  in the coming years, to become an undisputed leader of the programming world.

Currently, despite efforts from the Python team to get developers to migrate, quite a considerable amount of developers and Python libraries still prefer the older 2.x branch.



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The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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