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ZAGG Messenger Folio for Apple iPad Mini 5 review: Affordable keyboard with Pencil holder

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WWDC 2019: Finally, Apple frees the iPad and Watch from iPhone’s shadow
Can the iPad now become a serious business tool? Are the iPad and Mac platforms headed toward unification? Will developers take the time to get it right? TechRepublic’s Karen Roby gets some answers from Jason Perlow and Jason Cipriani. Read more: https://zd.net/2Wlin3A

When Apple announced the new iPad Air and iPad Mini, both with Apple Pencil support, I just couldn’t resist so I picked up a new iPad Mini 2019 for myself. Check out my full review to see what I think of this diminuitive tablet.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been using the ZAGG Messenger Folio for the Apple iPad Mini 2019. It is priced at just $64.99, which is a reasonable price for a keyboard, case, and media kickstand. Apple doesn’t offer any sort of external keyboard option for the iPad Mini so it’s up to third parties like ZAGG to satisfy this need.

Also: Apple iPad Mini 2019 review: A beloved classic with internal improvements and Apple Pencil support

Upper case assembly

The top portion, in landscape orientation, has three hard plastic pieces that are designed to securely hold the iPad Mini in positon. There are two upper corner pieces and one piece on the bottom, about an inch long, that secures your iPad into the case. Slide your iPad Mini into the two corner pieces and then press your iPad Mini down into the cover to snap the central bottom piece over the edge.

There is a cutout in the left upper corner plastic bracket for the power button with an area cut out of the fabric cover to help you more easily manipulate the volume buttons. There is also a cutout in the fabric case for the Lightning port on the right side of the upper assembly.

There is an opening in the back of the cover for the camera. The speakers and 3.5mm headset jack are not covered at all so remain fully accessible while using this keyboard folio. The lower two-thirds of the back flips out and serves as a wide kickstand to hold the iPad Mini at a good viewing angle for media. There is a piece of material under the flap to keep the flap from extending out too far. Sitting on a table or desk lets you extend this flap for different viewing angles, but the fabric piece only limits the extension out to one angle.

One of the best features of the ZAGG Messenger Folio is the Apple Pencil holder found along the top (in landscape). I hate that there is no way to conveniently carry the Apple Pencil with your iPad and this feature helps make the Apple Pencil a more useful utility for my daily usage. The holder is a simply fabric loop that tightly holds the first generation Apple Pencil securely in place.

Also: iPad Air (2019) review: Apple’s newest tablet combines productivity with affordability

Lower keyboard assembly

The bottom piece is the keyboard and serves as the front cover when you close the case and carry it around. The keyboard is permanently mounted to the lower fabric case and connects to your iPad Mini via Bluetooth. A fully charged keyboard is rated to last for up to three months between charging.

There is a row of keys above the five typical keyboard rows that serve as the following shortcuts:

  1. Home
  2. Lock
  3. Task switcher and search (with FN press)
  4. Switch keyboard input language and keyboard hide/show (with FN press)
  5. Media control for back
  6. Media control for play/pause
  7. Media control for forward
  8. Mute toggle
  9. Volume down
  10. Volume up
  11. Bluetooth button to pair
  12. Keyboard power button

There are five rows of keys below this top line with a full number row, directional arrows, FN key, CMD, CTL, Alt/Option, and two Shift keys. There is no backlighting available on this keyboard, but the white letters on the black plastic keys make it easy to use in most lighting conditions.

Despite the small size of the iPad Mini limiting the width of the keyboard, there is actually decent space between the keys and the keys are large enough for me to tap on with my fingertips. The keys have excellent travel and feedback when pressed too. There is only just over an inch of the keyboard to serve as a wrist rest, which is fine when I hold my hands up above this small keyboard anyway.

The keyboard charges via microUSB, found down on the lower right of the keyboard. There are two notches that small tabs on the top cover fit into with a magnet in the wrist rest to help hold the case closed and keep the display off while you are carrying the iPad in the case.

Daily usage experiences

Some may think I am being ridiculous using a keyboard with an iPad Mini, but I started using UMPCs more than a decade ago and have been able to adapt to small keyboards. I’m actually working on documenting my life story for my daughters while commuting on the train thanks in large part to the ZAGG Messenger Folio and the iPad Mini.

While I was primarily looking for a keyboard to use with the iPad Mini, the ZAGG Messenger Folio also provides an Apple Pencil holder and kickstand for viewing media. This entire package has served me well while traveling and commuting on the train daily, in addition to being used around the office as my portable computing device.

The keyboard is well designed and very functional while the Apple Pencil holder is convenient. The only thing I would have liked to have seen is a better kickstand design that supported more viewing angles. Then again, a lot is offered here by ZAGG for just $64.99.

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Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch

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The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.

The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).

Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.

“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on]  all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)

The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.

The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.

Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.

Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.

“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”

Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.

These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)

Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.

Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.

If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.

“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”

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Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch

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Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.

Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.

In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.

Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.

On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.

Bitwarden

It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.

Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.

“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”

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downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch

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As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).

Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital. 

Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.

The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.

The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.

Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories.
 and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.

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