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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News

Today Crunch News, News Updates, Tech News

Elon Musk tweets out #DeleteFacebook, adding simply, “it’s lame”

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 03:54 PM PST

Facebook receives plenty of pointed criticism, including for refusing to police political speech on Facebook, its seemingly endless string of privacy breaches, and its apparent coziness of late with the Trump administration, among other things.

One of the platform’s most prominent critics, somewhat unexpectedly, has become comic, writer, and actor Sacha Baron Cohen. Indeed, his powerful speech to the Anti-Defamation League in November, characterizing Facebook as the “greatest propaganda machine in history,”  quickly went viral. (We republished it here.)

Baron Cohen isn’t done railing against Zuckerberg, either. Yesterday, he tweeted in frustration, “We don't let 1 person control the water for 2.5 billion people. We don't let 1 person control electricity for 2.5 billion people. Why do we let 1 man control the information seen by 2.5 billion people? Facebook needs to be regulated by governments, not ruled by an emperor!

Soon after, Tesla founder Elon Musk responded to the morning diatribe, himself tweeting “#DeleteFacebook it’s lame.”

It was short, sweet, and to the point (and presumably gave a frustrated Baron Cohen a lift).

One might imagine that Musk, who has always spoken his mind, has been emboldened of late thanks to the skyrocketing value of Tesla of late. But Musk has long been a critic of Facebook, tweeting in 2018 after deleting his companies’ Facebook pages that he doesn’t “like Facebook. Gives me the willies. Sorry.”

Musk and Zuckerberg have butted heads in the past over the future of artificial intelligence, too, with Musk calling Zuckerberg’s understanding of the future of AI “limited” in 2017.

Original Content podcast: Netflix’s Taylor Swift documentary feels like a guarded self-portrait

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 03:40 PM PST

“Miss Americana,” a new Netflix documentary about Taylor Swift, is worth watching — if you go in with the right expectations.

At least, that’s according to two out of three hosts of the Original Content podcast. Darrell was the holdout; he didn’t hate the movie or think it was poorly made, but he’s much more skeptical about celebrity culture in general and argues that everyone would be better off ignoring celebrities altogether.

Your other hosts don’t go quite that far. Instead, we admit to a guarded admiration for Swift and her music, and we enjoyed “Miss Americana” as a window into Swift’s world. Not a completely transparent window — despite being directed by Lana Wilson, the film feels like it was guided by Swift’s perspective, focusing on her chosen themes of tabloid persecution and political awakening — but a revealing one nevertheless.

What comes across clearly is the utter insanity of the musician’s life, lived under intense (and often unfair) media scrutiny.

The film also demonstrates the extraordinary talent, ambition and luck that Swift must have needed to get where she is. And it boasts a few glimpses into her songwriting and recording process, and into what appears to have been an agonizing decision to endorse Democrat Phil Bredesen’s ultimately unsuccessful run for one of Tennessee’s Senate seats in 2018.

In addition to reviewing the film, we also discuss Netflix’s decision to make auto-play previews optional.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
0:28 Netflix auto-play discussion
5:02 “Miss Americana” review

More cash-crunched companies turn to convertible notes

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 02:35 PM PST

Convertible notes are not just for early stage startups any more.

These promissory notes, which are structured as debt that convert into equity upon a specific event such as a certain date or the closing of a priced investment round, are increasingly being adopted by established companies that have already raised millions of dollars in venture capital.

In the past, these financial instruments have been the province of founders that weren’t sure how to value their companies. If they agreed to sell a fixed percentage of their startup when they didn’t have a lot of customer traction, they might be giving up a lot of upside in their company. Convertible notes allow companies more time to develop their businesses before deciding who gets what.

In recent months, however, more established companies that have already raised priced rounds have raised money via convertible notes. According to the WSJ, Juul Labs, the e-cigarette maker, recently raised more than $700 million in convertible debt to fund its operations. NeueHouse. a venture-backed nine-year-old, New York-based company that provides workspace to creatives is in the process of raising $15 million in convertible debt, shows an SEC filing. And a crytpo exchange that has raised several rounds of venture funding, LedgerX, just closed on $3.8 million in debt.

Why would these older companies want to steal a page from the early-stage startup handbook? Because they want to avoid the negative blowback that might result from a “down round,” or a round that establishes a valuation lower than the previous valuation.

VCs don’t like down rounds as it means “writing down” the holdings in their financial statements to their own investors. Down rounds can also publicly signal that a startup’s growth is slowing, or hammer home the fact that investors overestimated how much their original stake was worth.

Convertible notes are a convenient band-aid, giving companies a little breathing room to fix their products, search for possible buyers, or move into a different space if what’s plaguing them applies more to their industry than their specific products or services.

From all outward appearances, the e-cigarette maker Juul definitely needs some time to get its ducks in a row. The company is under growing regulatory and financial pressure from investigations into its marketing practices and mounting lawsuits by a growing number of school districts and counties (among them, the Ceres Unified School District, outside of Modesto; the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District; and Bucks County, Pa.)

While Juul once seemed like such a sure bet that Altria purchased a 35% stake in the company for $12.8 billion, Juul’s future is now a lot less clear. On January 30th, Altria marked down the value of its stake by $4.1 billion, and it now values the entire company at just $12 billion, a 68% decline from the original valuation that Altria ascribed to Juul when it invested.

According to the WSJ, the $700 million will only convert to equity if Juul’s next round values the company between $10 billion and $25 billion. If the valuation of the next round is lower than $10 billion or higher than $25 billion, the $700 million will be treated as debt.

The lower valuation protects investors from holding mere shares in a company whose value is plummeting; in this case, it would be much better to have control of a solid company asset (think the receivables, computers, and real estate that secures the debt). Conversely, the higher cap gives investors the assurance that their equity will not be unduly diluted by an unrealistically high valuation from a new investor.

If all goes well, investors benefit because their money converts into equity at a discount to the price paid by the next investor. It’s more exciting than receiving just a straight percentage on their money, which they would earn with traditional debt.

And in some sense, the use of convertible notes by later-stage companies can be viewed as a positive sign. After all, if these companies were irretrievably broken, they wouldn’t be able to raise any money at all.

Still, it’s a desperate look for Juul, in particular, which in 2018 was considered to be among the most highly valued private companies in the world.

It suggests that the company’s future is so unpredictable that it can no longer satisfy the requirements or traditional lenders, which insist that borrowers meet a broad array of financial milestones, like hitting revenue targets and maintaining minimum levels of cash on hand.

The team behind Apple’s ‘Mythic Quest’ says video games aren’t the punch line

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 01:59 PM PST

When Ubisoft first approached “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” stars Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day about creating a new show set in the video game industry, McElhenney said they weren’t interested — at least, not initially.

“Anything that we had ever seen in the past, from a movie or television show perspective, the industry was always presented in such a negative light,” he told me. “It was the butt of the joke. The characters themselves were derided, and it was very specific to geek culture … We just had no interest in that.”

And yet McElhenney, Day and “It’s Always Sunny” writer Megan Ganz ended up creating “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” which premieres on Apple TV+ this weekend. McElhenney explained that a visit to the Montreal offices of Ubisoft — publisher of “Assassin’s Creed”, “Prince of Persia” and other major game franchises — changed his mind.

“Once we went to Montreal and met all of the devs that worked at Ubisoft, that all work in communion to make these games, [we realized] how many different, disparate personalities there really were and how much they were all all united by their love of games,” he said.

So McElhenney decided that “this just seemed like a really interesting and new place to set those kinds of stories.”  And just as he assumes most “Sunny” viewers aren’t tuning in to learn the fate of Paddy’s Pub (the Philadelphia bar run by the show’s main characters), “The approach we took was, the general audience is not going to care about the success or failure of a video game, they’re going to care about the interpersonal dynamics of the characters themselves.”

Ganz also said she didn’t know much about video game development when McElhenney first approached her about collaborating on the show, but she started to see parallels between that world and a TV writers’ room.

“Except that instead of everyone being a writer, they all have very specialized jobs that they care about, like just the writing or just the design or just the money that’s being made,” she said. “And I thought, well, that’s really fun because that presents something that’s even more complex than your typical writers’ room — you have all these sort of Greek gods that all control their very specific part of the world.”

Mythic Quest

Of course, “Mythic Quest” had a writers’ room of its own, which Ganz said was divided evenly between people with deep knowledge of the industry (like Ashly Burch, who’s done extensive voiceover work on games like “Team Fortress 2” and “Fortnite,” and who also plays a game tester on the show), and those like Ganz herself, “who maybe played casually when they were younger” but ultimately didn’t know much about that world.

“We did that because ultimately, if you come up with a script or a joke that satisfies both of those people, then you’re going to satisfy as much of the audience as you possibly can,” she said.

The goal, she added, was not “pandering to the video game community,” but rather “to be authentic and not make fun of them, but also be authentic in terms of talking about some of the toxicity that happens in the video game space, the gender dynamics that are at play.”

It wasn’t just a learning process for the writers. F. Murray Abraham (who won an Oscar for playing Salieri in “Amadeus”) plays an eccentric science fiction writer who works on the game, and he told me that when it came to video games, “I had no idea. I knew something, I was aware of it, but not the size of it, the success of it, the reach of it, my God.”

All the “Mythic Quest” writers and actors I spoke to said that their approach has evolved significantly from the original pilot script. For example, there’s McElhenney’s character Ian Grimm, the creative director of the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game that gives the show its name.

“In the first draft of the script, we made Ian a little bit more of just a straight buffoon,” McElhenney said. “We read through it and we realized it just felt false. It was missing something, that if we didn’t want this to feel like a live action cartoon — like ‘Sunny’ often does, which is by design — and we wanted these people to feel real and authentic, that we needed to believe that he really should have that position.”

The question, then was how to make him competent, but in a funny way. They went with a pilot episode where Ian and lead engineer Poppy (played by Charlotte Nicdao) end up in a passionate debate about the properties of the game’s brand new shovel. While that debate will probably seem silly to most viewers, McElhenney said it also conveys “that thing that so many people in the creative arts have, or don’t have — the ability to see the most minor detail, the reason why something is going to work, or why it might not work.”

Mythic Quest

Throughout that process, the writers also tapped Ubisoft for advice. Jason Altman, Ubisoft’s head of film and television, is an executive producer on the show, and he recalled bringing in different team members to help the writers understand everything that goes into the development process.

In addition, Ubisoft Red Storm (the studio behind the Tom Clancy game franchise) pitched in by building the game segments that we actually see on the show.

“What they created were actually small gameplay sandboxes that we could bring to set, and the actors could sit and play with them and it would actually inform their performances,” Altman said.

He acknowledged that there were challenges, like helping the “Mythic Quest” writers realize that the developers needed time to do their work — but ultimately, he said the Red Storm team had “a great time” creating something that gave the show “a real sense of authenticity.”

Ganz and McElhenney also had plenty of praise for the developers, particularly for their openness to adding silly comedic elements like ridiculous gouts of blood. McElhenney pointed to one episode that required them to create “a really believable Sieg Heil Nazi salute.”

“There’s no way they’re going to go for that, it’s going to take a follow-up phone call,” he recalled thinking. “And they were like, ‘Okay great.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, what do you mean, okay great?’ They said, ‘No, we do Nazis all the time’ — and we put this in the show — ‘because Nazis make the best villains, everybody hates Nazis.”

I was also curious about why the show focuses on the development of an ongoing MMORPG, rather than launching a new game. Altman had an answer for me: “I think it represents what's happening within the game industry. You don't just launch a game and forget it, the development team lives with it, you’ve got live services and live events. It’s the way games are operated right now.”

Plus, he said it reflects another aspect of development, the fact that teams “don’t just spend six months together, they spend years together, and the success that they create together binds them together.”

David Hornsby — who, like McElhenney, is both a writer, executive producer and actor on the show — told me that the writers’ understanding of show’s distribution also evolved, since Apple TV+ hadn’t launched (or even been officially announced) when “Mythic Quest” first got picked up.

“We weren’t sure if it wasn’t going to be binge-able from the start, we heard incrementally,” Hornsby said. “Apple is good at keeping secrets.”

Ultimately, they did find out that all nine episodes would drop at once, which Hornsby said led them to structure the season “like a movie — we know where we are going to be in the middle of the season, the story arcs for each of our characters.”

I also brought up Apple TV+ with McElhenney, who said the team had offers from a number of studios.

“It was scary,” he said. “And I remember we were discussing it, we were like, do we go with a known quantity? Or do we jump into the waters of mystery, because even though it’s the biggest company in the world, you don’t know if it’s going to work.”

So why choose Apple? “We just felt like, if you’re gonna bet on somebody, why not bet on a trillion dollars? They seem to have the resources and something figured out.”

As top exhibitors pull out of MWC, organizers implement stringent safeguards

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 12:43 PM PST

A couple of weeks out, Mobile World Congress organizer, the GSMA, has issued some fairly sweeping safeguards over growing concerns around the coronavirus. After a number of high profile back outs, including ZTE, LG, NVIDIA and Ericsson, the company issued a new list, including a ban of visitors originating from the Hubei province, whose capital Wuhan is believed to be the origin of the epidemic.

Per GSMA CEO John Hoffman,

  • All travelers from the Hubei province will not be permitted access to the event

  • All travelers who have been in China will need to demonstrate proof they have been outside of China 14 days prior to the event (passport stamp, health certificate)

  • Temperature screening will be implemented

  • Attendees will need to self-certify they have not been in contact with anyone infected.

More than 800 people have died from the virus, surpassing the 774 people who were killed by SARS circa 2002-2003. Hoffman adds that the organizer will be increasing a disinfectant program around the site and promoting a "no handshake policy." As the organization notes, some 5,000-6,000 people from China attend the show each year, accounting for around 5-6 percent of visitors.

The GSMA is clearly interested in addressing concerns over the virus, while limiting further attendee or exhibitor erosion. The release quotes Catalan health minister Alba Vergés, who notes, "The Catalan health system is prepared to detect and treat coronavirus, to give the most appropriate response, and this must be clear to those attending MWC Barcelona.”

Index Fund’s portfolio is driving long-overdue innovation in femcare

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 09:32 AM PST

U.K. startup Daye is rethinking female intimate care from a woman's perspective, starting with a tampon infused with cannabidiol that tackles period pain.

It's also quietly demolishing the retrograde approach to product design that women are still subjected to in the mass market “femcare” space — an anti-philosophy that not only peddles stale and sexist stereotypes, but also can harm women's bodies.

Those perfumed sanitary pads stinking out the supermarket shelf? Whomever came up with that idea has obviously never experienced thrush or bacterial vaginosis. Nor spoken to a health professional who could have told them vaginal infections can be triggered by perfumed products.

The missing link: There are few people with a vagina in positions leading product strategy. And that's the disruptive opportunity female-led femcare businesses like Daye are closing in on.

The Index Ventures-backed startup is shaking up a tired category by selling the flip-side: thoughtfully designed products for period care that first do no harm and second take aim at actual problems women have — starting with dysmenorrhea. The overarching strand is building community — to help women better understand what's going on with their bodies and reinforce shifting product expectations in the process.

We chatted with Index principal Hannah Seal about the fund's investment in Daye, and to get her thoughts more broadly on a new generation of female-focused startups that are driving long-overdue innovation.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

After $479M round on $12.4B valuation, Snowflake CEO says IPO is next step

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 09:28 AM PST

Snowflake, the cloud-based data warehouse company, doesn’t tend to do small rounds. On Friday night word leaked out about its latest mega round. This one was for $479 million on a $12.4 billion valuation. That’s triple the company’s previous $3.9 billion valuation from October 2018, and CEO Frank Slootman suggested that the company’s next finance event is likely an IPO.

Dragoneer Investment Group led the round along with new investor Salesforce Ventures. Existing Snowflake investors Altimeter Capital, ICONIQ Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Redpoint Ventures, Sequoia, and Sutter Hill Ventures also participated. The new round brings the total raised to over $1.4 billion, according to PitchBook data.

All of this investment begs the question when this company goes public. As you might expect, Slootman is keeping his cards close to the vest, but he acknowledges that is the next logical step for his organization, even if he is not feeling pressure to make that move right now.

“I think the earliest that we could actually pull that trigger is probably early- to mid-summer timeframe. But whether we do that or not is a totally different question because we’re not in a hurry, and we’re not getting pressure from investors,” he said.

He grants that the pressure is about allowing employees to get their equity out of the company, which can only happen once the company goes public. “The only reason that there’s always a sense of pressure around this is because it’s important for employees, and I’m not minimizing that at all. That’s a legitimate thing. So, you know, it’s certainly a possibility in 2020 but it’s also a possibility the year thereafter. I don’t see it happening any later than that,” he said.

The company’s most recent round prior to this was $450 million in October 2018. Slootman says that he absolutely didn’t need the money, but the capital was there, and the chance to forge a relationship with Salesforce also was key in their thinking in taking this funding.

“At a high level, the relationship is really about allowing Salesforce data to be easily accessed inside Snowflake. Not that it’s impossible to do that today because there are lots of tools that will help you do that, but this relationship is about making that seamless and frictionless, which we find is really important,” Slootman said.

Snowflake now has relationships with AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and has a broad content strategy to have as much quality data (like Salesforce) on the platform. Slootman says that this helps induce a network effect, while helping move data easily between major cloud platforms, a big concern as more companies adopt a multiple cloud vendor strategy.

“One of the key distinguishing architectural aspects of Snowflake is that once you’re on our platform, it’s extremely easy to exchange data with other Snowflake users. That’s one of the key architectural underpinnings. So content strategy induces network effect which in turn causes more people, more data to land on the platform, and that serves our business model,” he said.

Slootman says investors want to be part of his company because it’s solving some real data interchange pain points in the cloud market, and the company’s growth shows that in spite of its size, that continues to attract new customers at high rate.

“We just closed off our previous fiscal year which ended last Friday, and our revenue grew at 174%. For the scale that we are, this by far the fastest growing company out there…So, that’s not your average asset,” he said.

The company has 3400 active customers, which he defines as customers who were actively using the platform in the last month. He says that they have added 500 new customers alone in the last quarter.

Watch two rocket launches live, including a Space Station supply flight and a mission to study the Sun

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 07:37 AM PST

There are two – that’s right two – launches happening this Sunday, and both are set to broadcast live on NASA’s official stream above. The first is a NASA International Space Station resupply mission, with a Norhtrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft launching aboard an Antares rocket from Wallops Island in Virginia at 5:39 PM EST (2:39 PM PST). The second is the launch of the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint scientific mission by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) that’s set to take off aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 11:03 PM EST (8:03 PM PST).

The ISS resupply mission is the 13th operated by Northrop Grumman, and will carry around 8,000 lbs of experiment materials, supplies for the STation’s astronaut crew, and additional cargo including various cargo. If all goes to plan, the Cygnus spacecraft will get to the Space Station on Tuesday at around 4:30 AM EST, where astronauts on board will capture the spacecraft with the station’s robotic arm for docking.

The NASA/ESA Solar Orbiter mission is a bit more of an event, since it’s a launch of a very special payload with a dedicated mission to study the Sun, launching aboard a brand new custom configuration of ULA’s Atlas V rocket tailor-made for the Orbiter. The Orbiter has a mass of nearly 4,000 lbs, and a wingspan of nearly 60 feet, and is carrying a complement of 10 instruments for gathering data from our Solar System’s central player.

Solar Orbiter will take the first ever direct images of the Sun’s poles once it arrives at our star, but it first has to get there, using the gravitational force of both Earth and Venus to help propel it along its path. Already, the planned launch of Solar Orbiter has been delayed by a few days – and timing is key to making sure those gravitational forces can work as designed to get it to tis goal, so here’s hoping today’s launch goes off as planned.

As its name implies, Solar Orbiter is designed to orbit the Sun – and it’ll do so from a relatively close distance of around 26 million miles away. That’s closer than Mercury, the planet in our solar system closest to the Sun, and at that distance it’ll still face max temperatures of around 520 degrees Celsius (968 degrees Fahrenheit). To endure those temps, the spacecraft is protected by a titanium heat shield that will always be oriented towards the star, and even its solar panels will actually have to tilt away from the Sun during the spacecraft’s closest approach to make sure they don’t get too hot while powering the satellite.

Solar Orbiter will study the Sun’s polar regions, as mentioned, and shed some light on how its magnetic field and emissions of particles from the star affect its surrounding cosmic environment, including the region of space that we inhabit here on Earth. After launch, Orbiter should make its way to Venus for a flyby this December, then cost paths with Earth for a planned approach in November, 2021, before making its first close approach to the Sun in 2022.

Check back above for live views of both launches, with the stream for the first mission kicking off shortly after 5 PM EST (2PM PST).

The war against space hackers: how the JPL works to secure its missions from nation-state adversaries

Posted: 09 Feb 2020 06:00 AM PST

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory designs, builds, and operates billion-dollar spacecraft. That makes it a target. What the infosec world calls Advanced Persistent Threats — meaning, generally, nation-state adversaries — hover outside its online borders, constantly seeking access to its “ground data systems,” its networks on Earth, which in turn connect to the ground relay stations through which those spacecraft are operated.

Their presumptive goal is to exfiltrate secret data and proprietary technology, but the risk of sabotage of a billion-dollar mission also exists. Over the last few years, in the wake of multiple security breaches which included APTs infiltrating their systems for months on end, the JPL has begun to invest heavily in cybersecurity.

I talked to Arun Viswanathan, a key NASA cyber security researcher, about that work, which is a fascinating mix of “totally representative of infosec today” and “unique to the JPL’s highly unusual concerns.” The key message is firmly in the former category, though: information security has to be proactive, not reactive.

Each mission at JPL is like its own semi-independent startup, but their technical constraints tend to be very unlike those of Valley startups. For instance, mission software is usually homegrown/innovative, because their software requirements are so much more stringent: for instance, you absolutely cannot have software going rogue and consuming 100% of CPU on a space probe.

Successful missions can last a very long time, so the JPL has many archaic systems, multiple decades old, which are no longer supported by anyone; they have to architect their security solutions around the limitations of that ancient software. Unlike most enterprises, they are open to the public, who tour the facilities by the hundred. Furthermore, they have many partners, such as other space agencies, with privileged access to their systems.

All that … while being very much the target of nation-state attackers. Theirs is, to say the last, an interesting threat model.

Viswanathan has focused largely on two key projects. One is the creation of a model of JPL’s ground data systems — all its heterogeneous networks, hosts, processes, applications, file servers, firewalls, etc. — and a reasoning engine on top of it. This then can be queried programmatically. (Interesting technical side note: the query language is Datalog, a non-Turing-complete offshoot of venerable Prolog which has had a resurgence of late.)

Previous to this model, no one person could confidently answer “what are the security risks of this ground data system?” As with many decades-old institutions, that knowledge was largely trapped in documents and brains.

With the model, ad hoc queries such as “could someone in the JPL cafeteria access mission-critical servers?” can be asked, and the reasoning engine will search out pathways, and itemize their services and configurations. Similarly, researchers can work backwards from attackers’ goals to construct “attack trees,” paths which attackers could use to conceivably reach their goal, and map those against the model, to identify mitigations to apply.

His other major project is to increase the JPL’s “cyber situational awareness” — in other words, instrumenting their systems to collect and analyze data, in real time, to detect attacks and other anomalous behavior. For instance, a spike in CPU usage might indicate a compromised server being used for cryptocurrency mining.

In the bad old days, security was reactive: if someone had a problem and couldn’t access their machine, they’d call, but that was the extent of their observability. Nowadays, they can watch for malicious and anomalous patterns which range from the simple, such as a brute-force attack indicated by many failed logins followed by a successful one, to the much more complex, e.g. machine-learning based detection of a command system operating outside its usual baseline parameters.

Of course, sometimes it’s just an anomaly, not an attack. Conversely, this new observability is also helping to identify system inefficiencies, memory leakage, etcetera, proactively rather than reactively.

This may all seem fairly basic if you’re accustomed to, say, your Digital Ocean dashboard and its panoply of server analygics. But re-engineering an installed base of heterogeneous complex legacy systems for observability at scale is another story entirely. Looking at the borders and interfaces isn’t enough; you have to observe all the behavior inside the perimeter too, especially in light of partners with privileged access, who might abuse that access if compromised. (This was the root cause of the infamous 2018 attack on the JPL.)

While the JPL’s threat model is fairly unique, Viswanathan’s work is quite representative of our brave new world of cyberwarfare. Whether you’re a space agency, a big company, or a growing startup, your information security nowadays needs to be proactive. Ongoing monitoring of anomalous behavior is key, as is thinking like an attacker; reacting after you find out something bad happened is not enough. May your organization learn this the easy way, rather than joining the seemingly endless of headlines telling us all of breach after breach.