The attack consists of installing rogue software within Active Directory, and the malware then allows attackers to login as any user on the domain without the need for further authentication.
It has weaknesses as an attack vector — installation requires administrator access or a flaw on the server that grants such access.
But Skeleton Key has some interesting coding which could point to something even nastier in the future. It does not actually install itself on the filesystem. Instead, it’s an in-memory patch of Active Directory which makes detection even more difficult.
Access is not logged and the malware is completely silent and, as a result, extremely undetectable. Identifying the malware using traditional network monitoring also does not work due to the fact that Skeleton Key does not generate any network traffic.
In its current form, the malware does not survive a system reboot, which means that it has to be a continuous hack, but such things are possible, particularly if you have a disgruntled sysadmin.
Companies can also make the malware useless by having a two-factor authentication to connect to servers, VPN, email and the like. So in otherwords leaning on passwords is pretty much suicide.
ABI Research said that although 2014 was “lacklustre”, it predicted that there will be solid growth during the next five years with shipments of tablets close to 290 million units in 2019.
But the growth is not for every vendor – Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Google will show year on year falls in shipments.
On the other hand, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft and Samsung are predicted to show higher volumes in 2014.
Senior analyst Jeff Orr doesn’t have good news for Apple. He said: “Historically, Apple has counted approximately 35 percent of its iPad sales in the last calendar quarter of the year. Unless Apple can pull off a 32+ million unit quarter, sales for 2014 will be down for the first year since the iPad launched.”
He said that Apple probably shipped 68 million iPads in 2014, but managed to sell 74 million in 2013.
On the operating systems front, Android has 54 percent of branded tablets, Apple iOS has fallen to 41 percent, and Windows 8 has a meagre five percent of shipments.
Digitimes said that Lenovo, Huawei and Inspur are likely to ship a total of two million units in 2015, knocking Dell off the number two slot.
Earlier this year, Lenovo bought IBM’s X86 business and that means the company is likely to ship a million server boxes in 2015.
Meanwhile HP, the market intelligence firm said, will show a decline in server shipments of 10 percent this year.
By the end of next year, the combined shipments worldwide from Chinese vendors is likely to amount to nearly 20 percent.
Meanwhile, the multinationals are threatened by ODMs (original design manufacturers) like Quanta, which are squeezing the Dells and HPs of this world by selling units direct at a knockdown price.
IDC said shipments of terminal clients and thin clients amounted to 1.35 million units in the third quarter of this year, falling by 1.8 percent and bucking predictions.
While Windows XP made some move from PCs to thin clients, public projects were delayed and that accounts for the slippage.
Thin clients represent a massive 97 percent of enterprise client devices. Within the thin client umbrella, those without operating systems – so called zero clients – still hold 24.6 percent share.
The winners in the thin client race for the third quarter are HP, Dell, Ncomputing, Centerm and Igel. Of these, Dell saw growth of 16.6 percent compared to the same quarter last year, while Ncomputing’s share slumped by 44.7 percent. HP more or less held its own although its share fell 4.3 percent compared to the same quarter last year.
With revenues of $8.8 billion, up 5.1 percent from the same period last year, 25 exabytes shipped in the quarter, said IDC. Capacity shipments soared by 42 percent during the quarter, compared to Q3 2013.
IDC said sub $100K external array revenues grew by over six percent during the quarter, but shipments ODMs (original design manufacturers) directly to hyperscale datacentres showed positive growth.
EMC remains at the top spot for the quarter, followed by HP, Dell, IBM and Netapp.
ODM direct sales accounted for 24 percent of the market however, outstripping the traditional vendors. And this trend is continuing, as we’ve reported previously, with ODMs also shipping more and more servers directly and bypassing the brand names,
Gartner said that growth seen in the second quarter of this year was “a short lived phenomenon and marginal revenue growth…highlights the fragility of demand”.
But despite this, revenues grew for the third consecutive quarter following 10 previous quarters where revenues declined.
HP managed to grow its revenue lead in the regions with 6.4 percent growth, although shipments declined by 8.2 percent. The growth was largely accounted for by demand for rack optimised and blade system.
Dell managed to displace IBM as second in place in terms of both revenues and shipments. It managed to grow nine percent in revenues and 3.4 percent in shipments. IBM, of course, is ridding itself of its X86 business to Lenovo, while its RISC shipments were hit by a fall in demand for Unix systems. Its lucrative mainframe business is in stasis as Big Blue readies new launches.
Gartner thinks one of the problems is that IT departments in enterprises are struggling because there are datacentre modernisation initiatives which means they are taking their eyes off the ball in the traditional server marketplace.
If RISC, the Intel Itanium and Unix revenues are counted as one, they fell in the quarter by 13.2 percent.
It is stating the obvious to say both Intel and Dell want small, medium and large organisations in the 12 countries they surveyed to buy more tech, rather than less.
What’s completely clear is that the days of X86 dominance are well and truly over. Tablet use is growing, and 81 percent of employees want their devices to perform well. Low powered Celeron, i3 and i5 chips don’t really cut the mustard here.
Although 97 percent of people spend some time in their employer’s office, 35 percent work in public places for at least two hours a week.
Offices are a problem and 48 percent of the employees are continually distracted with one in five people wearing headphones to cut out the white noise.
A staggering 51 percent of people in their offices don’t talk to their physical neighbours but send them instant messages or emails instead.
A lot of people who work from home benefit from the lack of distraction, with 30 percent sleeping more, and 46 percent being less stressed. But even this is no paradise as their time is taken up by nuisances such as spouses, children, parents and pets.
Here’s good news for Intel and Dell. Some feel poor technology holds them back and stops them pursuing their careers.
An astonishing 92 percent believe voice recognition will be used instead of keyboards, 87 percent think tablets will supplant laptops, 87 percent think all computers will use hand gestures and 88 percent think keyboards and mice will be obsolete pretty soon.
Top officials of Dell have apparently had words with the Telecom and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and expressed keen interest in expanding its Chennai plant. We assume that they were tapping Prasad for some sort of sweetener for the deal.
Judging by what he told the media, Prasad did not really seem to know what Dell is. Prasad said, “Dell is very interested in electronic manufacturing” which he was clearly surprised about. “Dell has a facility here which they want to expand and have expressed need to have complete ecosystem of components suppliers as well.”
“They told me that Dell employed 27,000 people in the country. They are very positive under (Narendra) Modiji led new government and with growing interest of investors in the country,” Prasad said.
Who would have thunk it? Dell wants to start manufacturing computers and already hires a lot of staff in India, we would have thought that Prasad might have heard of them
Dell has actually invested $30 million in a manufacturing facility at Sriperumbudur, near Chennai in Tamil Nadu.
India’s proximity with the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe make it superior location for export compared to other parts of Asia, Dell officials said.
“They also want to work on Digital India programme which is now a buzz word across the world. They have said that the programme should also be linked to e-commerce expansion in the country,” Prasad said.
According to Digitimes, the labour shortages are so severe that people like Dell have asked their original design manufacturers (ODM) to start making machines early so they won’t be caught short in 2015.
The lead ODM for the Apple iWatch is Taiwanese company Quanta Computer.
But there’s bright news for manufactuers. It appears orders for notebooks are showing a surge in the fourth quarter of this year even though things will follow a familiar pattern in the first quarter of 2015 with orders few and far between.
The labour shortages have existed for some years but Digitimes thinks they will be worse than ever in 2015, exacerbated by the lunar New Year which causes mass migration of people in mainland China.
The ODMs are mostly Taiwanese companies which have outsourced their manufacturing to mainland China as tensions eased between the two countries.
Digitimes reports that Samsung wants some component suppliers for its display business to slash their prices, in some cases by as much as 30 percent during this quarter.
The display business not only services the creation of monitors and TVs made by Samsung, but also, and in this case more crucially, displays on smartphones.
Samsung has seen its market share on tablets and smartphones show something of a decline in 2014 and wants to reverse that trend.
The same report said that Samsung is also slashing prices on its OLED displays in a bid to attract more customers to the technology. Expensive to develop, OLED needs volumes to sell in order to achieve payback for the R&D.
Lenovo and Dell are both likely customers for OLED displays – a significant design win for Samsung if the report proves to be true.
King of consumer toys, Apple is attempting its biggest push into the consumer market, according to Reuters.
Reuters claims that Apple is hiring a dedicated sales force just to talk with potential clients like Citigroup.
This is on top of its partnership with IBM to develop apps for corporate clients and sell them on devices, the iPhone maker plans to challenge sector leaders HP, Dell, Oracle and SAP.
Of course no one is saying much in the way of details, Reuters seems to think that the deal with Big Blue will mean that Apple will be welcomed into the corporate world and give HP and Dell a kicking. This will result in the collapse of Microsoft, Samsung and Google’s own efforts in mobile work applications.
Apparently Job’s Mob is working closely with a group of startups, including ServiceMax and PlanGrid, that already specialise in selling apps to corporate America. Apple is already in talks with other mobile enterprise developers to bring them into a more formal partnership.
For example, PlanGrid is a mobile app for construction workers to share and view blueprints. ServiceMax is a mobile app that makes it easy for companies to manage fleets of field service technicians by ensuring they have access to the right information.
ServiceMax, whose existing customers include Procter & Gamble (PG.N) and DuPont, has co-hosted eight dinners with Apple over the past year in locations across the United States. About 25 or 30 chief information officers and “chief service officers” typically show up at these joint marketing and sales events.
But there are huge problems with Reuter’s desire to see Apple in charge of the world. The most obvious is that Apple makes toys it does not make corporate devices. Corporates are obsessed with security, Apple’s iCloud can’t even protect b list celebs from having their naked pictures being hacked.
Tablets were an Apple inspired Fad and any belief that corporates will rush to buy them never really happened. If they are ever adopted by corporates, they will be a low-level function which will require something a lot cheaper than Jobs’ Mob wants to support. Apple really needed BYOD to take off, which it didn’t.
Apple’s success has been due to its cult following, but religion does not work very well when it comes to business. Apple lacks functionality with business systems, corporates also take a dim view of the sort of things that Apple user agreements desire from their followers. Apple is also slow to confirm security flaws, and even slower to fix them. Its insistence on its own security, rather than that of the client also does not sit well with big business.
In short, to get business customers, Apple needs to change its mentality – something historically it has been unable to do. It not only has to deal with the experts in business, such as Microsoft, HP, Dell and SAP, its traditional rivals, such as Samsung are also harbour similar ambitions.
Samsung has confirmed that it is stepping up its efforts to sell devices to large enterprise clients and hired former chief information officer Robin Bienfait to spearhead that effort. It might hit the same experience problems that Apple has, and there is no reason to suspect it will be any more successful.
Apple’s IBM partnership might not be that key to the corporations either. It relies on IBM’s sales team selling Apple projects. IBM has as much experience selling consumer products as Apple has selling into business. Jobs’ Mob also has no clue about business software, which is the key to getting into the business market — for decades its networking technology has been the weak point of the few Apple installations in corporates.
Apple appears to hope that if it can hook the client on the software and content, they will keep them coming back for the hardware. However, that simply does not work in the corporates. Hell, Microsoft was unable to get corporates to upgrade to Windows 7 because they could not see a need. What chance does Apple’s business model have against that attitude?
But, according to research from Digitimes Research, shipments fell by an average of 15 percent.
The slump in shipments affected not only the branded vendors like HP, Dell and the like, but also the top three original design manufacturers (ODMs) – those are manufacturers which make unbranded machines.
The researchers believe the fall was caused because many companies released cheaper notebooks in September.
HP, in particular, suffered a decline in shipments while dell, Asustek and Lenovo also showed a fall compared to the same month in 2013.
The researchers believe that HP will see its notebook business suffer in 2015 as a result of the decision to split the company in two.