Microsoft’s Linux love continues as PowerShell Core comes to Snap Store

‘Microsoft loves Linux’, the company’s CEO Satya Nadella declared in 2014.

Evidence of that newfound affection has been evident throughout 2018: with Ubuntu 18.04 being made available in the Microsoft Store, Windows File Explorer gaining the ability to launch a Linux Shell and a new option to install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) distros from the command line. That’s without mentioning Microsoft’s release of the Linux-based Azure Sphere operating system.

Now Microsoft has released its command-line shell and scripting language PowerShell Core for the Ubuntu Snap Store, as part of PowerShell Core’s release as a snap package.

PowerShell Core in the Snap Store
Image: Canonical / Microsoft

Snap packages are containerized applications that can be installed on many Linux distributions, which Joey Aiello, PM for PowerShell at Microsoft, says has several advantages.

“Snap packages carry all of their own dependencies, so you don’t need to worry about the specific versions of shared libraries installed on your machine,” he said, adding updates to Snaps happen automatically, and are “safe to run” as they don’t interact with other applications or system files without your permission.

To install PowerShell Core as a snap package on a Linux-based OS, first install snapd and then run the command snap install powershell —classic. Then run the command pwsh from the terminal.

Microsoft continues to make regular improvements to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which allows Windows 10 to run various GNU/Linux distros from the Windows Store, providing access to Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora, Kali Linux, and Debian, and other distros to be added over time.

WSL distros run with a command line shell, rather than offering graphical desktops, and support a range of command line tools, as well as applications such as Apache web server and Oracle MySQL.

WSL allows different Linux distros to run side-by-side within Windows and Microsoft has previously stated that its aim with the WSL is to provide “the best development environment, regardless of the technologies that developers use, or the platforms they wish to target”.

However, at present, the WSL also has many disadvantages over a running a dedicated GNU/Linux system. Microsoft doesn’t support desktop environments or graphical applications running on WSL, and also says it is not suitable for running production workloads, for example an Apache server supporting a website.

This year saw Microsoft improve WSL to add support for Unix sockets allowing for communication between Windows, as well as for the curl and tar commands

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Microsoft has released its command-line shell and scripting language PowerShell Core for the Ubuntu Snap Store, as part of PowerShell Core’s release as a snap package.
  • Snap packages are containerized applications that can be installed on many Linux distributions.

Ref: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/microsofts-linux-love-in-continues-as-powershell-core-comes-to-ubuntu-snap-store/

By: Nick Heath

Coinhive Now Affecting 23% of the World’s Organizations

Crypto-mining malware has continued to grow globally, with 23% of organizations worldwide affected by the Coinhive variant during January.

That’s according to Check Point’s Global Threat Impact Index, which shows three different variants of crypto-mining code in its top 10 most-prevalent rankings. In addition to Coinhive impacting more than one in five organizations, JSEcoin (a JavaScript miner that can be embedded in websites) was in fifth place and Cryptoloot (which targets PCs) was in ninth.

Coinhive, January’s No. 1 most-prevalent malware, performs online mining of Monero cryptocurrency when a user visits a web page. Implanted JavaScript uses the computational resources of the end user’s machines to mine coins, impacting system performance. While it’s offered as a legitimate service for webmasters looking for a monetization alternative to advertising, criminals often embed it into websites without the site knowing, and unscrupulous websites use it without letting site visitors know.

“Over the past three months crypto-mining malware has steadily become an increasing threat to organizations, as criminals have found it to be a lucrative revenue stream,” said Maya Horowitz, threat intelligence group manager at Check Point. “It is particularly challenging to protect against, as it is often hidden in websites, enabling hackers to use unsuspecting victims to tap into the huge CPU resource that many enterprises have available. As such, it is critical that organizations have the solutions in place that protect against these stealthy cyber-attacks.”

In addition to crypto-miners, Check Point researchers also discovered that 21% of organizations have still failed to deal with machines infected with the malware. Fireball, which came in at No. 2 in the rankings, manipulates victims’ browsers and turns their default search engines and homepages into fake search engines, which simply redirect the queries to either yahoo.com or google.com to generate ad revenue. It also can be used as a full-functioning malware downloader capable of executing any code on victims’ machines. It was first discovered in May 2017 and severely impacted organizations during summer of 2017.

The Rig Exploit Kit came in third for January, impacting 17% of organizations. Rig delivers exploits for Flash, Java, Silverlight and Internet Explorer.

On the mobile front, Lokibot, an Android banking Trojan, was the most popular malware used to attack organizations’ mobile estates. The code steals information, but it can also turn into a ransomware that locks the phone.

Lokibot was followed by the Triada and Hiddad mobile malwares in January. Triada is a modular backdoor for Android, which grants superuser privileges to downloaded malware. Hiddad is also an Android malware, focused on trojanizing legitimate apps then releasing them to a third-party store.

Source: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/coinhive-cryptominer-now-affecting/

By:  Tara Seals US/North America News Reporter, Infosecurity Magazine

Top Priorities of the Intelligence Community’s New CIO

The intelligence community is getting a new, permanent CIO. On Aug. 18, the White House announced that President Donald Trump would nominate John Sherman to be CIO in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Aerial View- CIA head quarters at Langley, VA

 

As The Wall Street Journal notes, Sherman replaces Raymond Cook, who left the post in January after holding the position for two years under former President Barack Obama. Then, Jennifer Kron took over the CIO role on an interim basis. However, she just formally left ODNI to go on detail with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in Australia, where she will work with the Australian government to set up a new office of national intelligence and improve information sharing, Federal News Radio reports.

If Sherman gets confirmed by the Senate, as excepted, he will have a lot on his plate, including managing the IC Information Technology Enterprise. ICITE is a platform of nine shared services, from security to networking, email and virtual desktops, all delivered via a private cloud.

Sherman knows his way around the intelligence community — he’s a 20-year veteran of the IC. He currently serves as the deputy director of the CIA’s Open Source Enterprise, where he has been involved in incorporating open-source intelligence and capabilities into ICITE. Sherman previously served in senior executive positions at NGA.

Here are what will likely be Sherman’s top IT priorities.

Expand the Use and Capabilities of ICITE

At the top of the priority list is ICITE, which ODNI started in 2012. As Federal News Radio notes, ICITE’s goal is “standardizing the IT infrastructure for all 17 intelligence agencies at the [Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information] level to improve efficiency, information sharing and cybersecurity.”

Sherman is already deeply familiar with ICITE, given his work at the CIA. Intelligence agencies have made progress on moving away from siloed IT environments, and it will be Sherman’s job to help shepherd that process along.

However, moving from legacy infrastructure to a new cloud and cross-IT environment will take years, as FedTech recently reported. Staffers are not required to use ICITE, though Kron told FedTech IC employees may be unknowingly using aspects of it, such as its identification and authentication services. Instead, the IC is migrating its legacy systems during normal refresh cycles.

Still, there are clear signs of movement toward a more shared IT operating environment. For example, the National Security Agency offers a government-provided cloud, or GovCloud, Nextgov notes. Additionally, the publication notes, the Defense Intelligence Agency and NGA are partnering to provide a desktop environment service to the IC, which tens of thousands of users have joined over the last few years, as Federal News Radio reports.

ICITE may also become more broadly accessible. In August, Kron said the IC is working on a “multi-fabric initiative” to identify which services can be made unclassified, FCW reports.

Sherman will need to keep the momentum moving forward on streamlining the IC’s technology environments.

What’s Next for Intelligence Community R&D?

As FCW reports, the IC’s CIO also “has procurement authority across intelligence agencies when it comes to enterprise architecture, and is authorized to weigh in on IT procurement of all types while having a voice in R&D efforts to make sure they align with the overall goals of the intelligence community.”

The Trump administration has signaled that increased physical and cybersecurity are among its tech R&D priorities, a directive that will likely impact the intelligence community.

“Agencies should invest in R&D to increase the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure from both physical threats and cyber-attacks, which have increased rapidly in number and complexity in recent years,” according to an Aug. 17 memorandum from Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Michael Kratsios, deputy assistant to the president in the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Source: https://fedtechmagazine.com/article/2017/09/here-are-top-priorities-intelligence-community-s-new-cio

By: Phil Goldstein