How SAP NS2 Provides The U.S. Government With Technology Solutions

SAP NS2 is an independent U.S.-based arm of SAP that provides enterprise technology solutions to support national security. To learn more about SAP NS2, I interviewed the company CEO Mark Testoni.

Testoni served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years and has held various roles in logistics, information technology and financial management. After retiring from the military, Testoni worked at Oracle for nine years and led the application business for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). After moving to SAP, he became the president of the Public Services business. And in 2011, he was asked to head up SAP NS2.

At SAP NS2, Testoni said that his primary responsibilities as the CEO is to lead and manage a broad team including sales, consulting, product support, cloud-delivered applications, infrastructure and go-to-market strategy. And Testoni said that he wakes up excited every day to work with “the most talented people in the industry on the common goal of providing the most innovative commercial technology solutions, in the most rapid way possible, to advance the national security mission.”

As SAP works with the largest companies around the world and every major industry, NS2 extends those solutions to customers in the defense, homeland security, intelligence and critical infrastructure sectors. Testoni said that NS2’s solutions run all the way from the battlefield on the tactical level to data centers and analysis centers on a national level.

SAP NS2 formed shortly after SAP acquired Sybase in 2010. After SAP acquired Sybase, a more official structure in the form of a ‘proxy company’ was required to serve its core customers in the national security space. The sector has specialized requirements around the physical location of the company, employees and citizenship. SAP NS2 formed in 2011 to support those requirements with 100% U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

SAP NS2’s technology has evolved from applying advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning to problems like cybersecurity and counterterrorism. “We can help our customers better understand suspect patterns of behavior, their associations and even their intent. We can fuse all different sources of data together to rapidly give our government’s operations an edge. Anyone can be a data scientist with these tools,” said Testoni in the interview. “To better exploit our platform’s capabilities in the national security space, we’ve created investment and partnership relationships with emerging technologies and companies interested in innovating on our SAP HANA (high-speed data analytics) platform and other technical platforms that support the work we’re doing in the national security space. We’ve also acquired a company, and plan for more, to give us access and other leading-edge technologies to solve today’s important problems. We expect to drive great benefit to the communities we serve and substantial growth in the next five years.”

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Article Credit: Forbes

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A Chain of Vulnerabilities to Hack SAP CRM

At the Troopers security conference, an annual event with a special track focused on SAP Security, ERPScan‘s researchers have disclosed the details of two vulnerabilities that allow compromising SAP CRM system. Since this application stores business-critical data such as clients’ personal information, companies may fall victim facing incredible reputational and cost losses.

CRM (or Customer Relationship Management) systems are included among widespread, useful and extremely valuable business applications for every organization. As the ERP Cybersecurity Survey 2017 states, 55% of people polled considered CRM to be the most critical asset. A data breach into CRM can be disastrous as it is able to destroy the trust in the business and tarnish the brand.

An unauthorized access to SAP CRM threatens such data as client lists, prices, contact points, etc. If compromised, this data can be used by competitors to win over customers with lower-priced bids and ruin the whole business eventually.

In the talk titled ‘SAP BUGS: The Phantom Security’ delivered at Troopers, the researchers shared the information on these security issues, revealed their exploitation and the attack scenario.

“It takes nothing to exploit these vulnerabilities. Perpetrators can remotely read any file in SAP CRM without authentication. We scanned the Internet and found nearly 500 SAP servers that are prone to it.” – said Vahagn Vardanyan, senior security researcher of ERPScan.

The security researchers at ERPScan identified directory traversal and log injection vulnerabilities in the solution. The two issues in combination lead to information disclosure, privilege escalation, and complete SAP systems compromise. The two bugs can wreak havoc in any company running SAP CRM.

To help SAP customers protect their critical assets against the security issues, ERPScan developed a special resourcewith the details of vulnerabilities, an overview of attack process, and a video demonstration.

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Article Credit: Cision

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The world’s biggest technology industry merger may not happen

Singapore-based Broadcom Ltd is planning to scrap its bid for Qualcomm Inc , after U.S. President Donald Trumpblocked the chipmaker’s proposed acquisition on national security grounds earlier this week, although it will press on with its plan to move its base to the United States, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Broadcom’s board was meeting on Tuesday night to formalize its plans and it could make an announcement as soon as Wednesday, the two sources added. The company will also drop its challenge to Qualcomm’s board, the people added.

Broadcom will continue with its plan to redomicile to the United States, a move that will cost it about $500 million a year under a higher tax rate, the sources added.

Being based in the United States as opposed to Singapore will allow Broadcom to make what it believes will be acquisitions of U.S. companies that will not fall within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which scrutinizes deals for potential national security concerns.

Broadcom and Qualcomm could not be immediately reached for comment.


Trump signed an order late on Monday to halt what would have been the biggest-ever technology deal on concerns that a takeover of Qualcomm by the Singapore-based company would erode the United States’ lead in mobile technology and give China the upper hand.

The deal, spearheaded by CEO Hock Tan, would have created the world’s No. 3 semiconductor company with a leading market share in smartphones, car electronics and industrial internet devices.

Analysts said Broadcom can still build heft through smaller deals. And it could have an easier time buying U.S. targets if it goes through with plans to redomicilie in the United States.

Tan has already turned Avago, a small chipmaker with a market value of $3.5 billion in 2009, into a more than $100 billion company.

Tan bought California-based companies Broadcom for $37 billion in a leveraged deal in 2015 and Brocade Communications in a $5.5 billion deal two years later.

San Diego-based Qualcomm evolved from a U.S. military aerospace contractor to become the dominant player in wireless radio technology over the past two decades, with its chips used in half of all smartphones.

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Article Credit: GN

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Meet the tech evangelist who now fears for our mental health

Belinda Parmar was a passionate advocate of the digital revolution – but has started keeping her family’s smartphones and laptops locked away to protect her loved ones. Is she right to be so worried?

In Belinda Parmar’s bedroom there is a wardrobe, and inside that wardrobe there is a safe. Inside that safe is not jewellery or cash or personal documents, but devices: mobile phones, a laptop, an iPod, chargers and remote controls. Seven years ago, Parmar was the high priestess of tech empowerment. Founder of the consultancy Lady Geek, she saw it as her mission both to make tech work better for girls and women and to get more girls and women working for tech. Now she wants to talk about the damage it can cause to our mental health, to family life and to children, including her son Jedd, 11, and daughter Rocca, 10.

Parmar made her living and lived her life through these devices, so what happened to make her lock them up? Why did this tech evangelist lose her faith?

Strong women run in Parmar’s family. She tells me her mother raised her and her sister alone after separating from their father when Parmar was two (she’s now 44 and recently separated herself), while her grandmother, who had four children, ran her own business, a recruitment firm in Mile End, east London. She grew up believing anything was possible, which is why she felt driven to start Lady Geek when she was 35, after a man in a phone shop tried to sell her a pink, sparkly phone. “That was the way technology was sold and I thought: ‘This is ridiculous.’ I was so angry that I went home and started a blog,” she says.

The blog was called Lady Geek, and it launched a national conversation about sexism in the tech industry. Parmar left her job in advertising to turn it into a business, advising tech companies how to make their products better for women, and going into schools to encourage girls to go into the industry, for which she was awarded an OBE. “For me, tech was a leveller,” she says. “You didn’t need money, you didn’t need status; it was an enabler of a more equal and more diverse society. This tiny bubble that most of us lived in had been popped and that was wonderful. That still is wonderful.”

But certain aspects of her relationship with technology were not so wonderful. “I’d wake up and look at Twitter,” she says. “I had two small children, and the first thing I should have been doing was going to see the kids, but I’d be looking at Twitter.” She realised she was using social media for validation, to feed her ego. She began to think: “If technology is an enabler, why am I just using it for things I don’t like about myself?”

As her children grew up, she started to be disturbed by her son’s apparent compulsion to play video games. “Technology takes parents out of control. I can’t compete with an amazing monster, that level of dopamine. He doesn’t want to eat with us, to be with us, because it’s not as exciting,“ she says. She bought a Circle, a device that allows you to manage the whole family’s internet access, controlling which devices are online at which times and what they can view. “My son hid it,” she says. She tried to turn the wifi off, but he stood guarding it, blocking her way. She still does not know where the Circle is. “In theory,” she says, “if you’ve got compliant children, this would be perfect.” Perhaps that is why her combination to the safe, with his devices and hers, is 12 digits long.

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Article Credit: The Guardian

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Thai 7-Eleven stores to adopt facial recognition technology

CP Group hopes to drive profits from tie-up with Remark to collect customer data

Thailand’s biggest convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, is to roll out state of the art artificial intelligence technologies, including facial and gesture recognition and behaviour analysis of customers and employees, at the chain’s 11,000 stores.

The ubiquitous retailer, whose Thai stores are operated by a unit of the Bangkok-based conglomerate Charoen Pokphand (CP), is to work with Remark Holdings, a Nasdaq-listed AI company with operations in China and the US.

Remark will deploy its KanKan technology, which uses gesture recognition to collect and analyse data points on traffic in stores, staff activities, how long customers linger at specific shelves and even their emotions as they pass through stores.

It can identify members of 7-Eleven’s loyalty programme, allowing managers to single them out for promotions. A “machine learning” element can predict, for example, which products should or should not be stocked at individual stores.

CP Group chairman Soopakij Chearavanont said the technology would help the chain drive revenues, cuts costs and improve margins. He also said he planned to introduce KanKan to Ping An Insurance, the Chinese underwriting giant, in which CP is the biggest shareholder.

“Artificial intelligence has the power to completely transform business in every industry,” Kai-Shing Tao, Remark’s chief executive, told the Financial Times. “CP Group recognised this right away and is making it a very high priority to adopt and implement AI technologies.”

Unlike in the US, where the brand is best known for its soft drinks, Thai 7-Elevens are one-stop shops that also offer banking services such as bill payment. According to Remark and CP All, the CP unit that runs 7-Eleven stores, about 10m people pass through the chain’s stores in Thailand every day.

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MICROSOFT’S SURFACE BRAND had a rocky first few months. When it launched in 2012, people loved Microsoft’s innovative, tablet-like hardware design, but the software was too confusing and too limited for many longtime Windows users.

Now, more than four years on, things are different. Not only does Windows run much more cleanly on tablet hardware, but it’s also become clear that Microsoft was an early innovator in mobile-friendly hybrid PC design. It’s hard to find a PC-maker today that doesn’t ape Surface’s kickstand-packing, detachable-keyboard-rocking form factor.

Since launching the first Surface ultraportables, Microsoft has expanded the Surface line to include a full family of computers, from a standard laptop to a giant, drafting-table desktop. If you need a portable Windows PC, it’s hard to find a nicer physical experience than what Surface offers. The problem is one of choice: with such a diverse family of premium computers, which is best for your needs? Not to worry—we’re on this like a Type Cover on a Surface Pro.


Surface Laptop (i5, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD), $1,299

This device isn’t as swish as the transforming, flexible computers that made the Surface brand famous, but bear with me for a second. If you need a laptop, you need a laptop. Kickstands and clicky magnetic keyboard covers don’t work well in every situation, so we’re going with the Surface Laptop as the best pick for most shoppers. Sure, it’s not a tablet, but the Surface Laptop is a killer notebook computer.

Featuring a gorgeous, 13.5-inch high-resolution display, a lovely-feeling keyboard, a stellar glass trackpad, and a slim case, the Surface Laptop is well-built and easy to handle. It even foregoes the new USB-C standard and gives you a good, old-fashioned USB-A port, so it should be much easier to find accessories that work without requiring a dongle. It also has a magnetic charging port. If you’re a klutz who trips over your power cord all the time, this can be a lifesaver. It severs the connection between the wall plug and the computer before the laptop goes flying across the room like a Frisbee.

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Article Credit: Wired

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Microsoft’s diverse new Xbox Live avatars will launch in April

Microsoft is planning to launch its new Xbox Live Avatars next month. The software giant first unveiled the redesigned avatars at E3 last year, and originally planned to provide them to Windows 10 users by the end of 2017. Microsoft missed that target, but sources familiar with the company’s Xbox plans tell The Verge that it will preview the new avatars to Xbox Insiders this month. Microsoft’s Xbox employees already have access to the new avatar system, and the Xbox Alpha group of testers will get access first before they’re broadly available next month.

The new avatars will let you fully customize your online character with new body type options, clothing, and props. Microsoft is offering a variety of options that focus on diversity, and the company’s original trailer showed an amputee, playful costumes, wheelchairs, skateboards, and even motorbikes to highlight all of the props and customization that will be available.

Microsoft will integrate the new avatar system widely in the Xbox One dashboard, and the characters will be available on the homescreen area. We understand Microsoft is also planning to open a new avatar store in May, allowing Xbox Live users to purchase props, clothing, and additional customizations for their avatars. Microsoft’s previous avatar system, designed for the Xbox 360 era, also had its own store.

The new avatars are created in the Unity engine, making it a lot easier to customize them and add additional props. They’re designed to replace the avatars originally introduced alongside the Xbox 360 in 2008. Sources tell us that Microsoft will eventually allow third-party developers to build their own props and clothing, and sell these items in Microsoft’s digital store.

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Article Credit: The Verge

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Microsoft almost never sides with female employees alleging bias

Microsoft ’s investigators concluded that fewer than 1% of gender discrimination complaints made internally were ‘founded’, according to data unsealed in an ongoing class-action lawsuit

Microsoft Corp.’s investigators concluded that fewer than 1% of gender discrimination complaints made internally were “founded,” according to data unsealed in an ongoing class-action lawsuit.

The disclosure covers almost 120 complaints made from 2010 to 2016 by US female employees working in technical roles and shows the company only sided with one accuser. Employees also lodged 108 complaints of sexual harassment, eight complaints of retaliation, and three complaints of pregnancy discrimination.

The documents were unsealed in a 2015 lawsuit brought by three female employees alleging systemic disparities in the pay and promotion of women in technical and engineering roles at Microsoft. The women are seeking class action status, and their attorneys have been jousting with Microsoft over what documents can be made public. An earlier round of documents disclosed one of three cases where an employee alleged rape by a co-worker.

Microsoft is fighting the lawsuit, arguing the allegations are based on individual circumstances and not indicative of any systemic problems. “Diversity and inclusion are critically important to Microsoft,” the company said in a statement, adding it encourages employees to speak up with complaints. “We take all employee concerns seriously and have a fair and robust system in place to investigate employee concerns and take appropriate action when necessary.”

The women who sued contend that the team at company headquarters in Redmond, Washington, that investigates harassment and related complaints has “no policies or procedures,” such as automatically flagging “repeat offenders” who had multiple cases against them. The court files include several memos from the Employee Relations Investigations Team (ERIT) that found substantive evidence of improper behaviour but no violation of company policy. Managers, not human resources or the legal department, have “‘final say’ in any corrective action,” according to the plaintiffs.

In one 2013 memo, an internal investigator documented a complaint by four female employees about inappropriate touching by a male co-worker at a party. One said the man “moved his hand up and down, approaching her right armpit and bra strap,” two said he grabbed them around the waist and moved them closer, and another said he moved his hand “up and down her back” in a manner so obviously inappropriate that it prompted a colleague to ask “This is how we’re going to say ‘Hi?’” The investigator ruled the male employee displayed “poor judgment” but didn’t violate company policy.

In court documents, Microsoft said each internal investigator “is a licensed attorney with years of investigation experience and training.” It also said the internal investigations are not directly related to the pay inequity claims at the heart of the lawsuit.

“Despite protesting that the ERIT team determined only one gender-related concern was ‘founded’ during the relevant time frame, they cite not one example of a pay/promotion concern for which they contend ERIT should have found a violation of company policy,” the company said in a filing.

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Article Credit: Livemint

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