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Engineer admits he wiped 456 Cisco WebEx VMs from AWS after leaving the biz, derailed 16,000 Teams accounts

Switchzilla's cloud infrastructure trashed. And his new employer doesn't want to fire him


Updated A former Cisco employee pleaded guilty in a San Jose federal court on Wednesday to unlawfully accessing Switchzilla's Amazon Web Services infrastructure and damaging the networking giant's cloud computing resources.

Sudhish Kasaba Ramesh, who worked at Cisco as a software engineer from July 2016 to April 2018, admitted in a plea agreement with prosecutors that he had deliberately connected to Cisco's AWS-hosted systems without authorization in September 2018 – five months after leaving the manufacturer. He then proceeded to delete virtual machines powering Cisco's WebEx video-conferencing service.

"During his unauthorized access, Ramesh admitted that he deployed a code from his Google Cloud Project account that resulted in the deletion of 456 virtual machines for Cisco’s WebEx Teams application, which provided video meetings, video messaging, file sharing, and other collaboration tools," the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California said in a statement.

According to prosecutors, Ramesh's actions resulted in the shutdown of more than 16,000 WebEx Teams accounts for up to two weeks, which cost Cisco roughly $1.4m in employee time for remediation and over $1m in customer refunds.

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Ramesh is said to have admitted that he acted "recklessly" by deploying the code and that he "consciously disregarded the substantial risk that his conduct could harm to Cisco."

The specifics of the plea agreement remain under seal. And no mention is made in the accessible court filings of a motive. Nonetheless, Ramesh's current employer, personalized fashion biz Stitch Fix, appears keen to keep him on, if possible.

According to a court document, Ramesh is in the US on an H-1B visa and has a green card application pending. "Although he and his employer recognize that his guilty plea in this case may have immigration consequences, up to and including deportation, his employer … is willing to work with him regarding the possibility of his remaining in the country and continuing to work for the company," the document [PDF] says.

As far as Cisco is concerned, the main issue is that customer data wasn't lost or stolen.

"Cisco addressed the issue in September 2018 as quickly as possible, ensured no customer information was lost or compromised, and implemented additional safeguards," a Cisco spokesperson told The Register in an emailed statement.

"We brought this issue directly to law enforcement and appreciate their partnership in bringing this person to justice. We are confident processes are in place to prevent a recurrence."

Ramesh faces up to five years in the clink and a fine of $250,000 when he is sentenced, an event scheduled for December. ®

Updated to add

"Sudhish Ramesh no longer works at Stitch Fix," the company told The Register in a statement.

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Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns

Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

"The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

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Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation

Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

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SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake

Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

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Cloud security unicorn cuts 20% of staff after raising $1.3b

Time to play blame bingo: Markets? Profits? Too much growth? Russia? Space aliens?

Cloud security company Lacework has laid off 20 percent of its employees, just months after two record-breaking funding rounds pushed its valuation to $8.3 billion.

A spokesperson wouldn't confirm the total number of employees affected, though told The Register that the "widely speculated number on Twitter is a significant overestimate."

The company, as of March, counted more than 1,000 employees, which would push the jobs lost above 200. And the widely reported number on Twitter is about 300 employees. The biz, based in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2015.

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Talos names eight deadly sins in widely used industrial software

Entire swaths of gear relies on vulnerability-laden Open Automation Software (OAS)

A researcher at Cisco's Talos threat intelligence team found eight vulnerabilities in the Open Automation Software (OAS) platform that, if exploited, could enable a bad actor to access a device and run code on a targeted system.

The OAS platform is widely used by a range of industrial enterprises, essentially facilitating the transfer of data within an IT environment between hardware and software and playing a central role in organizations' industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) efforts. It touches a range of devices, including PLCs and OPCs and IoT devices, as well as custom applications and APIs, databases and edge systems.

Companies like Volvo, General Dynamics, JBT Aerotech and wind-turbine maker AES are among the users of the OAS platform.

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Despite global uncertainty, $500m hit doesn't rattle Nvidia execs

CEO acknowledges impact of war, pandemic but says fundamentals ‘are really good’

Nvidia is expecting a $500 million hit to its global datacenter and consumer business in the second quarter due to COVID lockdowns in China and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Despite those and other macroeconomic concerns, executives are still optimistic about future prospects.

"The full impact and duration of the war in Ukraine and COVID lockdowns in China is difficult to predict. However, the impact of our technology and our market opportunities remain unchanged," said Jensen Huang, Nvidia's CEO and co-founder, during the company's first-quarter earnings call.

Those two statements might sound a little contradictory, including to some investors, particularly following the stock selloff yesterday after concerns over Russia and China prompted Nvidia to issue lower-than-expected guidance for second-quarter revenue.

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Another AI supercomputer from HPE: Champollion lands in France

That's the second in a week following similar system in Munich also aimed at researchers

HPE is lifting the lid on a new AI supercomputer – the second this week – aimed at building and training larger machine learning models to underpin research.

Based at HPE's Center of Excellence in Grenoble, France, the new supercomputer is to be named Champollion after the French scholar who made advances in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs in the 19th century. It was built in partnership with Nvidia using AMD-based Apollo computer nodes fitted with Nvidia's A100 GPUs.

Champollion brings together HPC and purpose-built AI technologies to train machine learning models at scale and unlock results faster, HPE said. HPE already provides HPC and AI resources from its Grenoble facilities for customers, and the broader research community to access, and said it plans to provide access to Champollion for scientists and engineers globally to accelerate testing of their AI models and research.

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Workday nearly doubles losses as waves of deals pushed back

Figures disappoint analysts as SaaSy HR and finance application vendor navigates economic uncertainty

HR and finance application vendor Workday's CEO, Aneel Bhusri, confirmed deal wins expected for the three-month period ending April 30 were being pushed back until later in 2022.

The SaaS company boss was speaking as Workday recorded an operating loss of $72.8 million in its first quarter [PDF] of fiscal '23, nearly double the $38.3 million loss recorded for the same period a year earlier. Workday also saw revenue increase to $1.43 billion in the period, up 22 percent year-on-year.

However, the company increased its revenue guidance for the full financial year. It said revenues would be between $5.537 billion and $5.557 billion, an increase of 22 percent on earlier estimates.

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UK monopoly watchdog investigates Google's online advertising business

Another probe? Mountain View is starting to look like a pincushion at this rate

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is lining up yet another investigation into Google over its dominance of the digital advertising market.

This latest inquiry, announced Thursday, is the second major UK antitrust investigation into Google this year alone. In March this year the UK, together with the European Union, said it wished to examine Google's "Jedi Blue" agreement with Meta to allegedly favor the former's Open Bidding ads platform.

The news also follows proposals last week by a bipartisan group of US lawmakers to create legislation that could force Alphabet's Google, Meta's Facebook, and Amazon to divest portions of their ad businesses.

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Microsoft slows some hiring for Windows, Teams, and Office

'Making sure the right resources are aligned to the right opportunity' ahead of next fiscal year

Microsoft has hit the brakes on hiring in some key product areas as the company prepares for the next fiscal year and all that might bring.

According to reports in the Bloomberg, the unit that develops Windows, Office, and Teams is affected and while headcount remains expected to grow, new hires in that division must first be approved by bosses.

During a talk this week at JP Morgan's Technology, Media and Communications Conference, Rajesh Jha, executive VP for the Office Product Group, noted that within three years he expected approximately two-thirds of CIOs to standardize on Microsoft Teams. 1.4 billion PCs were running Windows. He also remarked: "We have lots of room here to grow the seats with Office 365."

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Recession fears only stoking enterprise tech spending for Dell, others

Staving off entropy with digital transformation, hybrid office, and automation projects

Enterprises are still kitting out their workforce with the latest computers and refreshing their datacenter hardware despite a growing number of "uncertainties" in the world.

This is according to hardware tech bellwethers including Dell, which turned over $26.1 billion in sales for its Q1 of fiscal 2023 ended 29 April, a year-on-year increase of 16 percent.

"We are seeing a shift in spend from consumer and PCs to datacenter infrastructure," said Jeff Clarke, vice-chairman and co-chief operating officer. "IT demand is currently healthy," he added.

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