This week’s tech news has seen a wealth of activity as giants Microsoft Azure situate themselves within the African Data market with two new data centers. The move will make Microsoft the world’s largest cloud provider in terms of regional coverage, in over 40 regions worldwide. At present, the African data market is largely untapped and Microsoft’s move the continent looks promising in terms of future development for cloud services on the continent.
More controversially, the aftermath of the international ransomware attack has lead to accusations that there was North Korean involvement in the outbreak. Symantec Corp. identified similarities between the WannaCry ransomware attacks and the malware used to take Sony Entertainment down in 2014. Though Symantec suggests that this most likely occurred independent of government, the news will do little to help western relations with North Korea. No less controversial is the news that Google will begin to take more purchase data from customers to try to develop a better consumer understanding for targeted advertisements.
Microsoft Plans to Open New Data Centers in Africa
This week Microsoft revealed plans to set up new data centers in Africa, which will see African countries using a localized Microsoft Cloud package for the first time ever. The new data centers will be built in Johannesburg and Capetown and are anticipated to become active at some point during 2018. The introduction of these data centers marks the organization’s commitment to improving its data infrastructure on the continent. In fact, Microsoft will be the first cloud provider to set up in Africa, pushing aside competitors like Amazon Web Services.
African citizens will be able to make use of Office staples like Office 365 and Microsoft Azure like never before. Data residency will ensure that African users are in closer proximity to their data and suffer from less latency during data-usage. Its likely that this will spur on a period of economic growth as organizations make better use of Microsoft’s services across the continent. Rather than relying on cloud services delivered from outside of the continent, African data will become much more available, self-managed and self-reliant.
Summarizing the significance of the move, Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise Group and Microsoft Corp said, “the Microsoft Cloud delivered from Africa will enable developers to build new and innovative apps, customers to transform their businesses and governments to better serve the needs of their citizens.” Likewise the move will offer “enterprise-grade reliability and performance combined with data residence.”
After making the move, Microsoft’s cloud services will be in 40 regions around the world, more than any other cloud provider. The company is vying for dominance over Amazon Web Services, seeings its revenue growing 93%in the first quarter of 2017 compares to 43% growth.
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North Korean Links to Global Ransomware Attacks
On Monday, datasecurity specialists Symantec Corp. identified similarities between WannaCry’s ransomware and malware used in the past by the North Korean Lazarus Group. The Lazarus group are reported to have been behind the 2014 Sony attack and a Bangladesh central bank heist. Symantec Researchers pointed to flaws in the WannaCry code, its global spread and demands for Bitcoin payment as supporting “high confidence” that the recent attack is the work of people associated with the Lazarus Group. Symantec also highlighted a link between the internet connection used in the attack which was also associated with a tool that was used to attack Sony in 2014.
Symantec suggests that the Lazarus Group were operating independent of government, although they did not dispute that the government and the Lazarus Group have worked together in the past. The fact that payment was requested in bitcoin suggests that hackers were not working for North Korean objectives suggests Vikram Thakur, Symantec’s security response technical director. Instead, Thakur believes that the Lazarus Group members were trying run the malware on the side to make extra money.
Google Privacy and Alpha Go Success
This week Google has announced it will be tracking phone and credit card information to improve its advertisements. Google will be working with stores to record customer data in order to develop a better understanding of consumer behavior for targeted advertisements. This means that all Google users data will be recorded, down to your advertisement views and your online spending. Credit card details, Purchase amounts and time stamps will be recorded to give better insights into consumer behavior. Google hopes that recording customer purchases will enable them to prove how many customer purchases their ad campaigns have converted for clients.
This announcement has followed the introduction of store visit conversions, which were introduced in 2014. Store Visit conversions simply measured the numbers of people entering online websites, and the concept of tracking purchases takes this to the next level. From now on, when you give your email address at the counter, your data will be used by Adwords. For customers, this announcement will raise questions about the sanctity and privacy of customer information. Yet for companies, the initiative offers a level of advertisement transparency, which will help to show how many users have been gained as a result of Google ad campaigns. However, Google insists that the information will not be designed to, or able to identify customers, and will only be used to verify that a person made a purchase.
For Google, the implementation of this project will enable a much clear transparency between Google and their clients. They will be able to provide a clear connection between their advertisement campaigns and the number of customers who went on to purchase from these businesses. Though this development will do wonders to improve Google’s advertisement services, it is hard to guarantee that customer data will be adequately protected.