IBM Brings Blockchain DB Service to the Cloud

Daily Tech Briefing - March 21, 2017

DAILY VIDEO: IBM takes Blockchain DB service mainstream on cloud; Google reports a jump in hacked websites in 2016; Hackers escape VMware Virtual Machine isolation at Pwn2Own 2017; and there's more.

DAILY VIDEO: IBM takes Blockchain DB service mainstream on cloud; Google reports a jump in hacked websites in 2016; Hackers escape VMware Virtual Machine isolation at Pwn2Own 2017; and there's more.

Today’s topics include IBM taking its Blockchain database service mainstream on cloud; Google reporting a spike in hacked websites last year; hackers escaping VMware virtual isolation to win big at Pwn2Own 2017; and Microsoft launching new storage-optimized Azure virtual machines. 

A blockchain database, a universal digital ledger of record that enables both security and transparency for Bitcoin financial transactions, has been a mystery to many people for a few years.

IBM wants to be the first household-name company to take the mystery part out of it and make it a mainstay of its fast-developing Bluemix cloud. To do this, Big Blue on March 20 announced the release of IBM Blockchain, the first enterprise-ready blockchain service based on the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Fabric.

IBM, whose mainframe data center systems and software have been running world-class financial computing centers for decades, claims that its Blockchain cloud service is the first such service now available in the industry.

The new platform enables developers to build and host highly secure production blockchain networks on the IBM Cloud; it is powered by IBM's secure LinuxONE server.

Google says that in 2016 it recorded a 32 percent increase over 2015 in the number of websites that its search engine flagged as being hacked.

However, more than six in 10 of the webmasters of such sites never received a notification from Google about their properties being infected because their sites had not been registered with Search Console, a free Google service that lets website owners monitor how their site performs on Google Search.

Web administrators can use the console to see originating site traffic, mobile traffic, what queries result in traffic being directed to their website and numerous other metrics. The console also provides a way for Google to notify owners of potential security problems with their websites.

Virtualization hypervisor technology is supposed to isolate virtual machines from the underlying operating system.

Yet on the final day of the 10th anniversary Pwn2Own hacking challenge on March 17, two teams of security researchers—360 Security and Tencent Security Team Sniper—were each able to escape the security isolation that virtualization is supposed to provide.

The three-day Pwn2Own 2017 event held in Vancouver was run by Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative, which pays security researchers for responsibly disclosing zero-day vulnerabilities. 

In total, Trend Micro awarded researchers $823,000 in prize money. Overall at the three-day event, 51 different security bugs were reported to ZDI across Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Edge, Adobe Reader, Apple Safari, Apple macOS, Ubuntu Linux, Mozilla Firefox and VMware Workstation applications.

Microsoft has added a new option to its ever-growing catalog of Azure virtual machines this time aimed at cloud workloads with demanding storage requirements.

"The L Series for Storage optimizes workloads that require low latency, such as NoSQL databases," said Jon Beck, principal program manager at Microsoft Azure, in a March 15 announcement.

"This new series of VMs offers from up to 32 CPU cores, using the Intel Xeon processor E5 v3 family, similar to the CPU performance of the G-Series that is currently available," he added.

Launched in early 2015, G-Series Azure VMs are backed by beefy Intel server processors and speedy solid-state drive storage. The new L-Series offerings are available from five North American Azure data centers and the Australia East region, with more locations to follow.