Toshiba Selling Its Thriving NAND Flash Memory Unit for $18B

Today’s topics include Toshiba selling its flash memory unit to Bain Capital and SK Hynix; an Avast CCleaner attack showing the need for heightened software development security; Microsoft’s embedding of Hexadite’s AI technology into Windows Defender ATP; and Google adding natural language support to its enterprise Cloud Search tool.

Toshiba, whose NAND flash memory has been used in virtually all servers, smartphones, laptops and tablet PCs for years, is selling the prize business to a group led by Bain Capital and South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix for $18 billion.

Bain and SK Hynix also have brought in Apple and Dell, high-volume buyers of Toshiba chips, to help support the offer, according to a Reuters report.

Toshiba is forced to sell the thriving business unit to fill a major hole in its finances caused by the bankruptcy of its U.S. nuclear unit, Westinghouse. On Jan. 27, Toshiba revealed that its flash memory business would be spun off into another business entity so that it would have "more operational flexibility and stronger fundraising ability."

Security-software firm Avast announced Monday that its popular system-cleaning program CCleaner had been compromised during development and infected users’ systems with malicious code for almost a month. The more than 2.27 million users who installed the then-current 32-bit Windows version of CCleaner and CCleaner Cloud between Aug. 15 and Sept. 12 effectively installed a backdoor onto their systems.

Underscoring the effectiveness of inserting code during development, only one of the 64 antivirus scanners run by VirusTotal detected the malicious behavior, in large part because the CCleaner binary had a legitimate digital signature, according to a Cisco investigation.

“When it comes down to supply chain attacks, if the attacker is in your build system already, you’ve lost,” Craig Williams, senior technical leader with Cisco’s Talos research group, told eWEEK.

Microsoft announced the successful integration of Hexadite's automated security technology into its Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection cloud-based breach detection and alerting service.

In June, Microsoft announced that for a reported $100 million, it had agreed to acquire Hexadite, an Israeli technology startup that used artificial intelligence technologies for automatic security threat investigation and remediation. The technology will now be used to help IT security teams keep a more intelligent and watchful eye on their networks.

"This enables Windows Defender ATP customers to leverage state of the art AI technology … by letting Windows Defender ATP automatically investigate alerts, apply artificial intelligence to determine whether a threat is real and to determine what action to take,” wrote Rob Lefferts, partner director of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft.

Google has added support for natural language processing in its Cloud Search tool for customers of its G-Suite collection of cloud-hosted productivity apps. The new feature allows office workers to use intuitive, natural language commands to search for documents, files and other content in their organizations.

Users can type in simple queries like "Docs shared by Mary" or "what docs need my attention" and have Cloud Search pull up so-called answer cards containing the relevant information, G Suite Engineer Albert Puig said on Google's blog.

Google Cloud Search, introduced in February, is a scaled-down version of Google Search released specifically for use within enterprises. The tool is designed to help workers more easily find content scattered across platforms. "Today, we’re making it possible to use natural language processing technology in Cloud Search so you can track down information—like documents, presentations or meeting details—fast," Puig said.