Framework deal to cut across software, services and systems integration
Universities across Scotland are clubbing together to soften up the market in preparation for an enterprise software procurement estimated to be worth £42m.
Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC), the buying company for all further education institutions in the country, has launched a prior information notice to engage suppliers in exploratory talks that are expected to lead to a formal competition.
The notice says APUC is seeking out suppliers of system implementation, migration, support and maintenance, and hosting services. The procurement round is divided into three lots addressing systems for HR and payroll, finance and ERP.
The tender notice says the buyer is looking for solutions that could operate across a number of campuses.
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A contract notice, which kicks off formal competition, is scheduled to appear in July 2022.
As well as APUC members, other buying groups will have access to the framework. These include Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium; London Universities Purchasing Consortium; North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium; North Western Universities Purchasing Consortium; and the Higher Education Purchasing Consortium.
Whatever newcomers win places on the framework might need to oust some entrenched incumbents. For example, in 2019, the University of Edinburgh confirmed the migration of its core finance and human resource (HR) functions to Oracle Cloud Applications.
Getting university ERP projects right is not always easy. Last year, Nottingham University awarded a cloud finance and HR deal worth £29.75m 2.5 years after a Unit4 upgrade. It decided to switch to Oracle. ®
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Dutch govt issues data protection report card for Microsoft
You need to switch on E2EE in group meetings, watch out for US Cloud Act, warns impact assessment
A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) has been published by a Dutch ministry, noting that Microsoft still has work to do if the country’s institutions are to use the company’s products without all manner of mitigations.
The DPIA – issued by the Netherland’s department of Justice and Security – focused on Teams, OneDrive, Sharepoint and Azure Active Directory and was conducted by SLM Rijk, the central negotiator for Microsoft, Google and AWS for Dutch government organisations, and by SURF, the central IT procurement organisation for Dutch universities.
The result? OK, but Microsoft must try harder.
FreeDOS puts out first new version in six years
DOS ain’t dead… and it’s more fun than ever
Nearly six years after its last release, FreeDOS 1.3 came out at the weekend… in case you’re feeling nostalgic for a 1980s enterprise-grade OS.
DOS ain’t dead. Although the long history of MS-DOS officially ended with version 6.22 in 1994, there have long been multiple other DOS-compatible OSes out there. And unlike all the others, FreeDOS is open source, legal, legitimate, and free to use.
IBM continued development on PC DOS until 2003. Big Blue still hosts downloads of the last version, PC DOS 7.1, complete with FAT32 and LBA support. Its lead developer, Vernon Brooks, has a comprehensive reference site with all you could ever need to know about DOS’s history.
Schneider Electric says supply chain held it back
Anticipates ‘increased pressure on input costs’ on raw materials, labour, and freight
Schneider Electric is the latest tech biz to blame supply chain constraints for holding back its trading output, despite claiming record revenues of €28.9bn ($32.78bn) in its full year results for 2021 [PDF].
The energy management and industrial automation giant closed off the calendar year with a 7 per cent revenue spike to €7.9bn ($8.96bn) in Q4. This fed into record sales of nearly €29bn for the full year, up 12.7 per cent over the previous year.
However, according to Schneider chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire, this performance was held back by supply chain issues hindering the company’s ability to meet customer demand: “We could have done better if we would have had supply at the level of our demand.”
Cisco warns firewall customers of four-day window for urgent updates
Firewalls are supposed to update so they block new threats – miss this deadline and they might not
Cisco has warned users of its Firepower firewalls – physical and virtual – that they may need to upgrade their kit within a four-day window or miss out on security intelligence updates.
A Monday Field Notice advised that the SSL certificate authority used to sign certificates for Talos security intelligence updates will be decommissioned and replaced on March 6, 2022.
The updates deliver lists of sites identified as sources of malware, spam, botnets, and phishing to Cisco appliances, which can automatically apply them so that admins don’t have to add to the always-growing list of threats manually.
Lenovo’s data center business finally makes a profit
Black ink has proven elusive since 2014 acquisition of IBM’s x86 server business
Lenovo’s data center and infrastructure business has turned a profit for the first time.
The Chinese giant had high hopes for the data center when it acquired IBM’s x86 server business in 2014, but was quickly disappointed after a strategy to have its PC sales force sling servers largely failed. A re-org created a dedicated Data Center Group that produced plenty of red ink over the years, leading to another corporate shuffle in February 2021 which saw data-center-centric products relocated to an Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG).
A year later, that group has turned a profit [PDF] for the third quarter of its fiscal 2021/2022, albeit a modest one: $1.9bn of revenue represented 19 per cent year on year growth and produced $17m of surplus – a slim margin even in the cutthroat hardware business during a time of component shortages and high freight charges.
China’s APT10 cyber-spies ‘targeted Taiwanese financial firms’
Operation Cache Panda went after software used by majority of industry players
China’s state-sponsored snoops conducted a two-month campaign against Taiwanese financial services firms, according to CyCraft, a security consultancy from the island nation.
CyCraft’s analysis of the incident alleges that the attack run started in November 2021, when the malicious actors – named as the Beijing-run APT10 crew – used supply chain attacks to target software used by Taiwanese financial institutions. The cyber-spies installed backdoors using QuasarRAT, a widely available remote access trojan that targets Windows.
The security firm’s post states that the application targeted is used by 80 per cent of Taiwan’s financial institutions.
IRS doesn’t completely scrap facial recognition, just makes it optional
But hey, new rules on deleting your selfies
America’s Internal Revenue Service has confirmed taxpayers will not be forced to use facial recognition to verify their identity. The agency also set out rules for which images will be deleted.
Folks setting up an online IRS account will be given the choice of providing biometric data to an automated system, or speaking with a human agent in a video call, to authenticate. Those who are comfortable with facial recognition tech can upload a copy of their photo ID and then be authenticated by their selfie, and those who aren’t can talk to someone to prove they are who they say they are. An online IRS account can be used to view tax documents and the status of payments among other things.
“Taxpayers will have the option of verifying their identity during a live, virtual interview with agents; no biometric data – including facial recognition – will be required if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview,” the IRS said in a statement on Monday.
Arm China boss happy with Nvidia acquisition collapse
Plus: Rogue CEO’s outfit could derail public listing
Allen Wu, chairman and CEO of Arm’s Chinese joint-venture Arm China, thinks the collapse of Nvidia’s attempt to buy Arm will be better for the worldwide technology industry – and for China.
In an interview with Xiamen-based JW Insights published at the weekend, Wu highlighted that Arm’s fate will affect all of its licensees and manufacturers associated with it in the supply chain. He therefore welcomed the plan devised by Arm’s owner, Japan’s SoftBank, to float the processor design house on the stock market because that will apparently safeguard its independence and future.
Wu’s remarks also betrayed some self-interest, because he suggested an independent, publicly listed Arm would be “more suitable for the Chinese industry.”
Samsung shipped ‘100 million’ phones with flawed encryption
Academics found TrustZone-level code could not be trusted to keep secrets
Academics at Tel Aviv University in Israel have found that recent Android-based Samsung phones shipped with design flaws that allow the extraction of secret cryptographic keys.
The researchers – Alon Shakevsky, Eyal Ronen, and Avishai Wool – describe their work in a paper titled, “Trust Dies in Darkness: Shedding Light on Samsung’s TrustZone Keymaster Design,” which is scheduled for presentation at Real World Crypto and USENIX Security, 2022.
Android smartphones, which pretty much all use Arm-compatible silicon, rely on a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) supported by Arm’s TrustZone technology to keep sensitive security functions isolated from normal applications. These TEEs run their own operating system, TrustZone Operating System (TZOS), and it’s up to vendors to implement the cryptographic functions within TZOS.
US imposes sanctions as Russia invades Ukraine
America may block chip exports if Moscow steps up aggression
The US government has imposed further sanctions on Russia after the Kremlin sent tanks into Ukraine’s breakaway regions today. Uncle Sam also left the door open to block chip exports to Russia.
Russia moved in ostensibly on a peace-keeping mission to protect Donetsk and Luhansk, two separatist territories in eastern Ukraine Russian President Vladimir Putin just yesterday formally recognized as independent states.
AI really can’t copyright the art it generates – US officials
Get ready for robot lobbyists to persuade robot lawmakers to pass robot-friendly laws?
AI algorithms cannot copyright the digital artwork they generate, the US Copyright Office has insisted.
Officials this month turned down a request brought by Stephen Thaler, founder of Imagination Engines, to register a copyright claim for a digital image he said was produced by machine-learning software. Thaler said the piece, titled A Recent Entrance to Paradise, was crafted by Creativity Machine, an automated system he invented and owned, and argued the software should be recognized as the author of the image.
The US Copyright Office’s review board said although it accepted the code-generated picture was made without “any creative contribution from a human actor,” the board could not fulfill the request. Today’s copyright laws only protect “the fruits of intellectual labor” that “are founded in the creative powers of the [human] mind,” the board said in a letter [PDF] directed to Thaler’s lawyer Ryan Abbott.