Tag Archives: mov

Canada’s Supreme Court Orders Google to Remove Search Results Worldwide

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/canadas-supreme-court-orders-google-remove-search-results-worldwide-170629/

Back in 2014, the case of Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack saw two Canadian entities battle over stolen intellectual property used to manufacture competing products.

Google had no direct links to the case, yet it became embroiled when Equustek Solutions claimed that Google’s search results helped to send visitors to websites operated by the defendants (former Equustek employees) who were selling unlawful products.

Google voluntarily removed links to the sites from its Google.ca (Canada) results, but Equustek demanded a more comprehensive response. It got one.

In a ruling handed down by a court in British Columbia, Google was ordered to remove the infringing websites’ listings from its central database in the United States, meaning that the ruling had worldwide implications.

Google filed an appeal hoping for a better result, arguing that it does not operate servers in British Columbia, nor does it operate any local offices. It also questioned whether the injunction could be enforced outside Canada’s borders.

Ultimately, the British Columbia Court of Appeal disappointed the search giant. In a June 2015 ruling, the Court decided that Google does indeed do business in the region. It also found that a decision to restrict infringement was unlikely to offend any overseas nation.

“The plaintiffs have established, in my view, that an order limited to the google.ca search site would not be effective. I am satisfied that there was a basis, here, for giving the injunction worldwide effect,” Justice Groberman wrote.

Undeterred, Google took its case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, hoping to limit the scope of the injunction by arguing that it violates freedom of expression. That effort has now failed.

In a 7-2 majority decision released Wednesday, Google was branded a “determinative player” in facilitating harm to Equustek.

“This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders,” wrote Justice Rosalia Abella.

“We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods.”

With Google now required to delist the sites on a global basis, the big question is what happens when other players attempt to apply the ruling to their particular business sector. Unsurprisingly that hasn’t taken long.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which supported Equustek’s position in the long-running case, welcomed the decision and said that Google must “take on the responsibility” to ensure it does not direct users to illegal sites.

“Canada’s highest court has handed down a decision that is very good news for rights holders both in Canada and around the world. Whilst this was not a music piracy case, search engines play a prominent role in directing users to illegal content online including illegal music sites,” said IFPI CEO, Frances Moore.

“If the digital economy is to grow to its full potential, online intermediaries, including search engines, must play their part by ensuring that their services are not used to facilitate the infringement of intellectual property rights.”

Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada, which represents Sony, Universal, Warner and others, also welcomed the ruling.

“Today’s decision confirms that online service providers cannot turn a blind eye to illegal activity that they facilitate; on the contrary, they have an affirmative duty to take steps to prevent the Internet from becoming a black market,” Henderson said.

But for every voice of approval from groups like IFPI and Music Canada, others raised concerns over the scope of the decision and its potential to create a legal and political minefield. In particular, University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist raised a number of interesting scenarios.

“What happens if a Chinese court orders [Google] to remove Taiwanese sites from the index? Or if an Iranian court orders it to remove gay and lesbian sites from the index? Since local content laws differ from country to country, there is a great likelihood of conflicts,” Geist said.

But rather than painting Google as the loser in this battle, Geist believes the decision actually grants the search giant more power.

“When it comes to Internet jurisdiction, exercising restraint and limiting the scope of court orders is likely to increase global respect for the law and the effectiveness of judicial decisions. Yet this decision demonstrates what many have feared: the temptation for courts will be to assert jurisdiction over online activities and leave it to the parties to sort out potential conflicts,” Geist says.

“In doing so, the Supreme Court of Canada has lent its support to global takedowns and vested more power in Internet intermediaries, who may increasingly emerge as the arbiters of which laws to follow online.”

Only time will tell how Google will react, but it’s clear there will be plenty of entities ready to test the limits and scope of the company’s responses to the ruling.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Operation ‘Pirate On Demand’ Blocks Pirate IPTV Portals

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/operation-pirate-on-demand-blocks-pirate-iptv-portals-170628/

Via cheap set-top boxes, IPTV services (Internet Protocol TV) allow people to access thousands of live TV channels in their living rooms for a nominal fee.

Some of these services are available for just a few euros, dollars or pounds per month, often in HD quality.

While service levels can vary, some of the best also offer comprehensive Video On Demand (VOD), with hundreds and in some cases thousands of movies and TV shows on tap, supported by catch-up TV. Given their professional nature, the best IPTV products are proving a real thorn in the side for rights holders, who hope to charge ten times the money while delivering a lesser product.

As a result, crackdowns against IPTV providers, resellers and other people in the chain are underway across the world, but Europe in particular. Today’s news comes from Italy, where Operation “Pirate On Demand” is hoping to make a dent in IPTV piracy.

The operation is being headed up by the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), a department under Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance. Part of the Italian Armed Forces, GdF says it has targeted nine sites involved in the unlawful distribution of content offered officially by local media giants Mediaset and Sky.

The authorities received assistance of a specialized team from the local anti-piracy group DCP, which operates on behalf of a broad range of entertainment industry companies.

According to GdF, a total of 89 servers were behind the portals which together delivered an estimated 178 terabytes of pirate content, ranging from TV shows and sports, to movies and children’s entertainment.

The nine portals are in the process of being blocked with some displaying the following message.

Seizure notice on the affected sites

The investigation began in September 2016 and was coordinated by Giangiacomo Pilia, the prosecutor at the Cagliari Court. Thus far, two people have been arrested.

A person arrested in the Varese area, who police believe is the commercial director of an illicit platform, has been charged with breaching copyright law.

A second individual arrested in Macerata is also suspected of copyright offenses, having technically managed the platform. Computer equipment, decoders, smart cards, and other electronic devices were also seized.

In addition to blocking various web portals, measures will now be taken to block the servers being used to supply the IPTV services. The GdF has also delivered a veiled threat to people who subscribed to the illicit services.

“It is also in the hands of investigators the position of those who have actively accessed the platforms by purchasing pirated subscriptions and thus benefiting by taking advantage,” GdF said.

The moves this week are the latest to take place under the Operation “Pirate On Demand” banner. Back in March, authorities moved to shut down and block 15 portals offering illegal IPTV access to Mediaset and Sky channels.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Desert To Data in 7 Days – Our New Phoenix Data Center

Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/data-center-design/

We are pleased to announce that Backblaze is now storing some of our customers’ data in our newest data center in Phoenix. Our Sacramento facility was slated to store about 500 petabytes of data and was starting to fill up so it was time to expand. After visiting multiple locations in the US and Canada, we selected Phoenix as it had the right combination of power, networking, price and more that we were seeking. Let’s take you through the process of getting the Phoenix data center up and running.

Day 0 – Designing the Data Center

After we selected the Phoenix location as our next DC (data center), we had to negotiate the contract. We’re going to skip that part of the process because, unless you’re a lawyer, it’s a long, boring process. Let’s just say we wanted to be ready to move in once the contract was signed. That meant we had to gather up everything we needed and order a bunch of other things like networking equipment, racks, storage pods, cables, etc. We decided to use our Sacramento DC as the staging point and started gathering what was going to be needed in Phoenix.

In actuality, for some items we started the process several months ago as lead times for things like network switches, Storage Pods, and even hard drives can be measured in months and delays are normal. For example, depending on our move in date, the network providers we wanted would only be able to provide limited bandwidth, so we had to prepare for that possibility. It helps to have a procurement person who knows what they are doing, can work the schedule, and is creatively flexible – thanks Amanda.

So by Day 0, we had amassed multiple pallets of cabinets, network gear, PDUs, tools, hard drives, carts, Guido, and more. And yes, for all you Guido fans he is still with us and he now resides in Phoenix. Everything was wrapped and loaded into a 53-foot semi-truck that was driven the 755 miles (1,215 km) from Sacramento, California to Phoenix, Arizona.

Day 1 – Move In Day

We sent a crew of 5 people to Phoenix with the goal of going from empty space to being ready to accept data in one week. The truck from Sacramento arrived mid-morning and work started unloading and marshaling the pallets and boxes into one area, while the racks were placed near their permanent location on the DC floor.

Day 2 – Building the Racks

Day 2 was spent primarily working with the racks. First they were positioned to their precise location on the data center floor. They were then anchored down and tied together. We started with 2 rows of twenty-two racks each, with twenty being for storage pods and two being for networking equipment. By the end of the week there will be 4 rows of racks installed.

Day 3 – Networking and Power, Part 1

While one team continued to work on the racks, another team began the process a getting the racks connected to the electricty and running the network cables to the network distribution racks. Once that was done, networking gear and rack-based PDUs (Power Distribution Units) were installed in the racks.

Day 4 – Rack Storage Pods

The truck from Sacramento brought 100 Storage Pods, a combination of 45 drive and 60 drive systems. Why did we use 45 drives units here? It has to do with the size (in racks and power) of the initial installation commitment and the ramp (increase) of installations over time. Contract stuff: boring yes, important yes. Basically to optimize our spend we wanted to use as much of the initial space we were allotted as possible. Since we had a number of empty 45 drive chassis available in Sacramento we decided to put them to use.

Day 5 – Drive Day

Our initial set-up goal was to build out five Backblaze Vaults. Each Vault is comprised of twenty Storage Pods. Four of the Vaults were filled with 45 drive Storage Pods and one was filled with 60 drive Storage Pods. That’s 4,800 hard drives to install – thank goodness we don’t use those rubber bands around the drives anymore.

Day 6 – Networking and Power, Part 2

With the storage pods in place, Day 6 was spent routing network and power cables to the individual pods. A critical part of the process is to label every wire so you know where it comes from and where it goes too. Once labeled, wires are bundled together and secured to the racks in a standard pattern. Not only does this make things look neat, it standardizes where you’ll find each cable across the hundreds of racks that are in the DC.

Day 7 – Test, Repair, Test, Ready

With all the power and networking finished, it was time to test the installation. Most of the Storage Pods light up with no problem, but there were a few that failed. These failures are quickly dealt with, and one by one each Backblaze Vault is registered into our monitoring and administration systems. By the end of the day, all five Vaults were ready.

Moving Forward

The Phoenix data center was ready for operation except that the network carriers we wanted to use could only provide a limited amount of bandwidth to start. It would take a few more weeks before the final network lines would be provisioned and operational. Even with the limited bandwidth we kicked off the migration of customer data from Sacramento to Phoenix to help balance out the workload. A few weeks later, once the networking was sorted out, we started accepting external customer data.

We’d like to thank our data center build team for documenting their work in pictures and allowing us to share some of them with our readers.

















Questions About Our New Data Center

Now that we have a second DC, you might have a few questions, such as can you store your data there and so on. Here’s the status of things today…

    Q: Does the new DC mean Backblaze has multi-region storage?
    A: Not yet. Right now we consider the Phoenix DC and the Sacramento DC to be in the same region.

    Q: Will you ever provide multi-region support?
    A: Yes, we expect to provide multi-region support in the future, but we don’t have a date for that capability yet.

    Q: Can I pick which data center will store my data?
    A: Not yet. This capability is part of our plans when we provide multi-region support.

    Q: Which data center is my data being stored in?
    A: Chances are that your data is in the Sacramento data center given it currently stores about 90% of our customer’s data.

    Q: Will my data be split across the two data centers?
    A: It is possible that one portion of your data will be stored in the Sacramento DC and another portion of your data will be stored in the Phoenix DC. This will be completely invisible to you and you should see no difference in storage or data retrieval times.

    Q: Can my data be replicated from one DC to the other?
    A: Not today. As noted above, your data will be in one DC or the other. That said files uploaded to the Backblaze Vaults in either DC are stored redundantly across 20 Backblaze Storage Pods within that DC. This translates to 99.999999% durability for the data stored this way.

    Q: Do you plan on opening more data centers?
    A: Yes. We are actively looking for new locations.

If you have any additional questions, please let us know in the comments or on social media. Thanks.

The post Desert To Data in 7 Days – Our New Phoenix Data Center appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

The Code Club International movement

Post Syndicated from Katherine Leadbetter original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/code-club-international/

Over the past few years, Code Club has made strides toward world domination! There are now more than 10,000 Code Clubs running in 125 countries. More than 140,000 kids have taken part in our clubs in places as diverse as the northernmost tip of Canada and the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

In the first video from our Code Club International network, we find out about Code Clubs around the world from the people supporting these communities.

Global communities

Code Club currently has official local partners in twelve countries. Our passionate and motivated partner organisations are responsible for championing their countries’ Code Clubs. In March we brought the partners together for the first time, and they shared what it means to be part of the Code Club community:

You can help Code Club make a difference around the world

We invited our international Code Club partners to join us in London and discuss why we think Code Club is so special. Whether you’re a seasoned pro, a budding educator, or simply want to give back to your local community, there’s a place for you among our incredible Code Club volunteers.

Of course, Code Clubs aren’t restricted to countries with official partner communities – they can be started anywhere in the world! Code Clubs are up and running in a number of unexpected places, from Kosovo to Kazakhstan.

Code Club International

Code Club partners gathered together at the International Meetup

The geographical spread of Code Clubs means we hear of clubs overcoming a range of different challenges. One club in Zambia, run by volunteer Mwiza Simbeye, started as a way to get kids off the streets of Lusaka and teach them useful skills. Many children attending had hardly used a computer before writing their first line of code at the club. And it’s making a difference! As Mwiza told us, ‘you only need to see the light shine in the eyes of [Code Club] participants to see how much they enjoy these sessions.’

Code Club International

Student Joyce codes in Scratch at her Code Club in Nunavut, Canada

In the Nunavut region of Canada, Talia Metuq was first introduced to coding at a Code Club. In an area comprised of 25 Inuit communities that are inaccessible via roads and currently combating severe social and economic deprivation, computer science was not on the school timetable. Code Club, along with club volunteer Ryan Oliver, is starting to change that. After graduating from Code Club, Talia went on to study 3D modelling in Vancouver. She has now returned to Nunavut and is helping inspire more children to pursue digital making.

Start a Code Club

Code Clubs are volunteer-led extra-curricular coding clubs for children age 9 to 13. Children that attend learn to code games, animations, and websites using the projects we provide. Working with volunteers and with other children in their club, they grow their digital skillset.

You can run a Code Club anywhere if you have a venue, volunteers, and kids ready to learn coding. Help us achieve our goal of having a Code Club in every community in the world!

To find out how to start a Code Club outside of the UK, you can visit the Code Club International website. If you are in the UK, head to the Code Club UK website for more information.

Code Club International

Help the Code Club International community grow

On the Code Club site, we currently have projects in 28 languages, allowing more young people than ever to learn programming in their native language. But that’s not enough! We are always on the lookout for volunteers to translate projects and resources. If you are proficient in translating from English and would like to help, please visit the website to find out more.

We are also looking for official local partners in Italy and Germany to join our international network – if you know of, or are a part of an enthusiastic non-profit organisation who might be interested to join us, you can learn more here.

The post The Code Club International movement appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Continuous Delivery of Nested AWS CloudFormation Stacks Using AWS CodePipeline

Post Syndicated from Prakash Palanisamy original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/devops/continuous-delivery-of-nested-aws-cloudformation-stacks-using-aws-codepipeline/

In CodePipeline Update – Build Continuous Delivery Workflows for CloudFormation Stacks, Jeff Barr discusses infrastructure as code and how to use AWS CodePipeline for continuous delivery. In this blog post, I discuss the continuous delivery of nested CloudFormation stacks using AWS CodePipeline, with AWS CodeCommit as the source repository and AWS CodeBuild as a build and testing tool. I deploy the stacks using CloudFormation change sets following a manual approval process.

Here’s how to do it:

In AWS CodePipeline, create a pipeline with four stages:

  • Source (AWS CodeCommit)
  • Build and Test (AWS CodeBuild and AWS CloudFormation)
  • Staging (AWS CloudFormation and manual approval)
  • Production (AWS CloudFormation and manual approval)

Pipeline stages, the actions in each stage, and transitions between stages are shown in the following diagram.

CloudFormation templates, test scripts, and the build specification are stored in AWS CodeCommit repositories. These files are used in the Source stage of the pipeline in AWS CodePipeline.

The AWS::CloudFormation::Stack resource type is used to create child stacks from a master stack. The CloudFormation stack resource requires the templates of the child stacks to be stored in the S3 bucket. The location of the template file is provided as a URL in the properties section of the resource definition.

The following template creates three child stacks:

  • Security (IAM, security groups).
  • Database (an RDS instance).
  • Web stacks (EC2 instances in an Auto Scaling group, elastic load balancer).
Description: Master stack which creates all required nested stacks

Parameters:
  TemplatePath:
    Type: String
    Description: S3Bucket Path where the templates are stored
  VPCID:
    Type: "AWS::EC2::VPC::Id"
    Description: Enter a valid VPC Id
  PrivateSubnet1:
    Type: "AWS::EC2::Subnet::Id"
    Description: Enter a valid SubnetId of private subnet in AZ1
  PrivateSubnet2:
    Type: "AWS::EC2::Subnet::Id"
    Description: Enter a valid SubnetId of private subnet in AZ2
  PublicSubnet1:
    Type: "AWS::EC2::Subnet::Id"
    Description: Enter a valid SubnetId of public subnet in AZ1
  PublicSubnet2:
    Type: "AWS::EC2::Subnet::Id"
    Description: Enter a valid SubnetId of public subnet in AZ2
  S3BucketName:
    Type: String
    Description: Name of the S3 bucket to allow access to the Web Server IAM Role.
  KeyPair:
    Type: "AWS::EC2::KeyPair::KeyName"
    Description: Enter a valid KeyPair Name
  AMIId:
    Type: "AWS::EC2::Image::Id"
    Description: Enter a valid AMI ID to launch the instance
  WebInstanceType:
    Type: String
    Description: Enter one of the possible instance type for web server
    AllowedValues:
      - t2.large
      - m4.large
      - m4.xlarge
      - c4.large
  WebMinSize:
    Type: String
    Description: Minimum number of instances in auto scaling group
  WebMaxSize:
    Type: String
    Description: Maximum number of instances in auto scaling group
  DBSubnetGroup:
    Type: String
    Description: Enter a valid DB Subnet Group
  DBUsername:
    Type: String
    Description: Enter a valid Database master username
    MinLength: 1
    MaxLength: 16
    AllowedPattern: "[a-zA-Z][a-zA-Z0-9]*"
  DBPassword:
    Type: String
    Description: Enter a valid Database master password
    NoEcho: true
    MinLength: 1
    MaxLength: 41
    AllowedPattern: "[a-zA-Z0-9]*"
  DBInstanceType:
    Type: String
    Description: Enter one of the possible instance type for database
    AllowedValues:
      - db.t2.micro
      - db.t2.small
      - db.t2.medium
      - db.t2.large
  Environment:
    Type: String
    Description: Select the appropriate environment
    AllowedValues:
      - dev
      - test
      - uat
      - prod

Resources:
  SecurityStack:
    Type: "AWS::CloudFormation::Stack"
    Properties:
      TemplateURL:
        Fn::Sub: "https://s3.amazonaws.com/${TemplatePath}/security-stack.yml"
      Parameters:
        S3BucketName:
          Ref: S3BucketName
        VPCID:
          Ref: VPCID
        Environment:
          Ref: Environment
      Tags:
        - Key: Name
          Value: SecurityStack

  DatabaseStack:
    Type: "AWS::CloudFormation::Stack"
    Properties:
      TemplateURL:
        Fn::Sub: "https://s3.amazonaws.com/${TemplatePath}/database-stack.yml"
      Parameters:
        DBSubnetGroup:
          Ref: DBSubnetGroup
        DBUsername:
          Ref: DBUsername
        DBPassword:
          Ref: DBPassword
        DBServerSecurityGroup:
          Fn::GetAtt: SecurityStack.Outputs.DBServerSG
        DBInstanceType:
          Ref: DBInstanceType
        Environment:
          Ref: Environment
      Tags:
        - Key: Name
          Value:   DatabaseStack

  ServerStack:
    Type: "AWS::CloudFormation::Stack"
    Properties:
      TemplateURL:
        Fn::Sub: "https://s3.amazonaws.com/${TemplatePath}/server-stack.yml"
      Parameters:
        VPCID:
          Ref: VPCID
        PrivateSubnet1:
          Ref: PrivateSubnet1
        PrivateSubnet2:
          Ref: PrivateSubnet2
        PublicSubnet1:
          Ref: PublicSubnet1
        PublicSubnet2:
          Ref: PublicSubnet2
        KeyPair:
          Ref: KeyPair
        AMIId:
          Ref: AMIId
        WebSG:
          Fn::GetAtt: SecurityStack.Outputs.WebSG
        ELBSG:
          Fn::GetAtt: SecurityStack.Outputs.ELBSG
        DBClientSG:
          Fn::GetAtt: SecurityStack.Outputs.DBClientSG
        WebIAMProfile:
          Fn::GetAtt: SecurityStack.Outputs.WebIAMProfile
        WebInstanceType:
          Ref: WebInstanceType
        WebMinSize:
          Ref: WebMinSize
        WebMaxSize:
          Ref: WebMaxSize
        Environment:
          Ref: Environment
      Tags:
        - Key: Name
          Value: ServerStack

Outputs:
  WebELBURL:
    Description: "URL endpoint of web ELB"
    Value:
      Fn::GetAtt: ServerStack.Outputs.WebELBURL

During the Validate stage, AWS CodeBuild checks for changes to the AWS CodeCommit source repositories. It uses the ValidateTemplate API to validate the CloudFormation template and copies the child templates and configuration files to the appropriate location in the S3 bucket.

The following AWS CodeBuild build specification validates the CloudFormation templates listed under the TEMPLATE_FILES environment variable and copies them to the S3 bucket specified in the TEMPLATE_BUCKET environment variable in the AWS CodeBuild project. Optionally, you can use the TEMPLATE_PREFIX environment variable to specify a path inside the bucket. This updates the configuration files to use the location of the child template files. The location of the template files is provided as a parameter to the master stack.

version: 0.1

environment_variables:
  plaintext:
    CHILD_TEMPLATES: |
      security-stack.yml
      server-stack.yml
      database-stack.yml
    TEMPLATE_FILES: |
      master-stack.yml
      security-stack.yml
      server-stack.yml
      database-stack.yml
    CONFIG_FILES: |
      config-prod.json
      config-test.json
      config-uat.json

phases:
  install:
    commands:
      npm install jsonlint -g
  pre_build:
    commands:
      - echo "Validating CFN templates"
      - |
        for cfn_template in $TEMPLATE_FILES; do
          echo "Validating CloudFormation template file $cfn_template"
          aws cloudformation validate-template --template-body file://$cfn_template
        done
      - |
        for conf in $CONFIG_FILES; do
          echo "Validating CFN parameters config file $conf"
          jsonlint -q $conf
        done
  build:
    commands:
      - echo "Copying child stack templates to S3"
      - |
        for child_template in $CHILD_TEMPLATES; do
          if [ "X$TEMPLATE_PREFIX" = "X" ]; then
            aws s3 cp "$child_template" "s3://$TEMPLATE_BUCKET/$child_template"
          else
            aws s3 cp "$child_template" "s3://$TEMPLATE_BUCKET/$TEMPLATE_PREFIX/$child_template"
          fi
        done
      - echo "Updating template configurtion files to use the appropriate values"
      - |
        for conf in $CONFIG_FILES; do
          if [ "X$TEMPLATE_PREFIX" = "X" ]; then
            echo "Replacing \"TEMPLATE_PATH_PLACEHOLDER\" for \"$TEMPLATE_BUCKET\" in $conf"
            sed -i -e "s/TEMPLATE_PATH_PLACEHOLDER/$TEMPLATE_BUCKET/" $conf
          else
            echo "Replacing \"TEMPLATE_PATH_PLACEHOLDER\" for \"$TEMPLATE_BUCKET/$TEMPLATE_PREFIX\" in $conf"
            sed -i -e "s/TEMPLATE_PATH_PLACEHOLDER/$TEMPLATE_BUCKET\/$TEMPLATE_PREFIX/" $conf
          fi
        done

artifacts:
  files:
    - master-stack.yml
    - config-*.json

After the template files are copied to S3, CloudFormation creates a test stack and triggers AWS CodeBuild as a test action.

Then the AWS CodeBuild build specification executes validate-env.py, the Python script used to determine whether resources created using the nested CloudFormation stacks conform to the specifications provided in the CONFIG_FILE.

version: 0.1

environment_variables:
  plaintext:
    CONFIG_FILE: env-details.yml

phases:
  install:
    commands:
      - pip install --upgrade pip
      - pip install boto3 --upgrade
      - pip install pyyaml --upgrade
      - pip install yamllint --upgrade
  pre_build:
    commands:
      - echo "Validating config file $CONFIG_FILE"
      - yamllint $CONFIG_FILE
  build:
    commands:
      - echo "Validating resources..."
      - python validate-env.py
      - exit $?

Upon successful completion of the test action, CloudFormation deletes the test stack and proceeds to the UAT stage in the pipeline.

During this stage, CloudFormation creates a change set against the UAT stack and then executes the change set. This updates the UAT environment and makes it available for acceptance testing. The process continues to a manual approval action. After the QA team validates the UAT environment and provides an approval, the process moves to the Production stage in the pipeline.

During this stage, CloudFormation creates a change set for the nested production stack and the process continues to a manual approval step. Upon approval (usually by a designated executive), the change set is executed and the production deployment is completed.
 

Setting up a continuous delivery pipeline

 
I used a CloudFormation template to set up my continuous delivery pipeline. The codepipeline-cfn-codebuild.yml template, available from GitHub, sets up a full-featured pipeline.

When I use the template to create my pipeline, I specify the following:

  • AWS CodeCommit repositories.
  • SNS topics to send approval notifications.
  • S3 bucket name where the artifacts will be stored.

The CFNTemplateRepoName points to the AWS CodeCommit repository where CloudFormation templates, configuration files, and build specification files are stored.

My repo contains following files:

The continuous delivery pipeline is ready just seconds after clicking Create Stack. After it’s created, the pipeline executes each stage. Upon manual approvals for the UAT and Production stages, the pipeline successfully enables continuous delivery.


 

Implementing a change in nested stack

 
To make changes to a child stack in a nested stack (for example, to update a parameter value or add or change resources), update the master stack. The changes must be made in the appropriate template or configuration files and then checked in to the AWS CodeCommit repository. This triggers the following deployment process:

 

Conclusion

 
In this post, I showed how you can use AWS CodePipeline, AWS CloudFormation, AWS CodeBuild, and a manual approval process to create a continuous delivery pipeline for both infrastructure as code and application deployment.

For more information about AWS CodePipeline, see the AWS CodePipeline documentation. You can get started in just a few clicks. All CloudFormation templates, AWS CodeBuild build specification files, and the Python script that performs the validation are available in codepipeline-nested-cfn GitHub repository.


About the author

 
Prakash Palanisamy is a Solutions Architect for Amazon Web Services. When he is not working on Serverless, DevOps or Alexa, he will be solving problems in Project Euler. He also enjoys watching educational documentaries.

mkosi — A Tool for Generating OS Images

Post Syndicated from Lennart Poettering original http://0pointer.net/blog/mkosi-a-tool-for-generating-os-images.html

Introducing mkosi

After blogging about
casync
I realized I never blogged about the
mkosi tool that combines nicely
with it. mkosi has been around for a while already, and its time to
make it a bit better known. mkosi stands for Make Operating System
Image
, and is a tool for precisely that: generating an OS tree or
image that can be booted.

Yes, there are many tools like mkosi, and a number of them are quite
well known and popular. But mkosi has a number of features that I
think make it interesting for a variety of use-cases that other tools
don’t cover that well.

What is mkosi?

What are those use-cases, and what does mkosi precisely set apart?
mkosi is definitely a tool with a focus on developer’s needs for
building OS images, for testing and debugging, but also for generating
production images with cryptographic protection. A typical use-case
would be to add a mkosi.default file to an existing project (for
example, one written in C or Python), and thus making it easy to
generate an OS image for it. mkosi will put together the image with
development headers and tools, compile your code in it, run your test
suite, then throw away the image again, and build a new one, this time
without development headers and tools, and install your build
artifacts in it. This final image is then “production-ready”, and only
contains your built program and the minimal set of packages you
configured otherwise. Such an image could then be deployed with
casync (or any other tool of course) to be delivered to your set of
servers, or IoT devices or whatever you are building.

mkosi is supposed to be legacy-free: the focus is clearly on
today’s technology, not yesteryear’s. Specifically this means that
we’ll generate GPT partition tables, not MBR/DOS ones. When you tell
mkosi to generate a bootable image for you, it will make it bootable
on EFI, not on legacy BIOS. The GPT images generated follow
specifications such as the Discoverable Partitions
Specification
,
so that /etc/fstab can remain unpopulated and tools such as
systemd-nspawn can automatically dissect the image and boot from
them.

So, let’s have a look on the specific images it can generate:

  1. Raw GPT disk image, with ext4 as root
  2. Raw GPT disk image, with btrfs as root
  3. Raw GPT disk image, with a read-only squashfs as root
  4. A plain directory on disk containing the OS tree directly (this is useful for creating generic container images)
  5. A btrfs subvolume on disk, similar to the plain directory
  6. A tarball of a plain directory

When any of the GPT choices above are selected, a couple of additional
options are available:

  1. A swap partition may be added in
  2. The system may be made bootable on EFI systems
  3. Separate partitions for /home and /srv may be added in
  4. The root, /home and /srv partitions may be optionally encrypted with LUKS
  5. The root partition may be protected using dm-verity, thus making offline attacks on the generated system hard
  6. If the image is made bootable, the dm-verity root hash is automatically added to the kernel command line, and the kernel together with its initial RAM disk and the kernel command line is optionally cryptographically signed for UEFI SecureBoot

Note that mkosi is distribution-agnostic. It currently can build
images based on the following Linux distributions:

  1. Fedora
  2. Debian
  3. Ubuntu
  4. ArchLinux
  5. openSUSE

Note though that not all distributions are supported at the same
feature level currently. Also, as mkosi is based on dnf
--installroot
, debootstrap, pacstrap and zypper, and those
packages are not packaged universally on all distributions, you might
not be able to build images for all those distributions on arbitrary
host distributions. For example, Fedora doesn’t package zypper,
hence you cannot build an openSUSE image easily on Fedora, but you can
still build Fedora (obviously…), Debian, Ubuntu and ArchLinux images
on it just fine.

The GPT images are put together in a way that they aren’t just
compatible with UEFI systems, but also with VM and container managers
(that is, at least the smart ones, i.e. VM managers that know UEFI,
and container managers that grok GPT disk images) to a large
degree. In fact, the idea is that you can use mkosi to build a
single GPT image that may be used to:

  1. Boot on bare-metal boxes
  2. Boot in a VM
  3. Boot in a systemd-nspawn container
  4. Directly run a systemd service off, using systemd’s RootImage= unit file setting

Note that in all four cases the dm-verity data is automatically used
if available to ensure the image is not tempered with (yes, you read
that right, systemd-nspawn and systemd’s RootImage= setting
automatically do dm-verity these days if the image has it.)

Mode of Operation

The simplest usage of mkosi is by simply invoking it without
parameters (as root):

# mkosi

Without any configuration this will create a GPT disk image for you,
will call it image.raw and drop it in the current directory. The
distribution used will be the same one as your host runs.

Of course in most cases you want more control about how the image is
put together, i.e. select package sets, select the distribution, size
partitions and so on. Most of that you can actually specify on the
command line, but it is recommended to instead create a couple of
mkosi.$SOMETHING files and directories in some directory. Then,
simply change to that directory and run mkosi without any further
arguments. The tool will then look in the current working directory
for these files and directories and make use of them (similar to how
make looks for a Makefile…). Every single file/directory is
optional, but if they exist they are honored. Here’s a list of the
files/directories mkosi currently looks for:

  1. mkosi.default — This is the main configuration file, here you
    can configure what kind of image you want, which distribution, which
    packages and so on.

  2. mkosi.extra/ — If this directory exists, then mkosi will copy
    everything inside it into the images built. You can place arbitrary
    directory hierarchies in here, and they’ll be copied over whatever is
    already in the image, after it was put together by the distribution’s
    package manager. This is the best way to drop additional static files
    into the image, or override distribution-supplied ones.

  3. mkosi.build — This executable file is supposed to be a build
    script. When it exists, mkosi will build two images, one after the
    other in the mode already mentioned above: the first version is the
    build image, and may include various build-time dependencies such as
    a compiler or development headers. The build script is also copied
    into it, and then run inside it. The script should then build
    whatever shall be built and place the result in $DESTDIR (don’t
    worry, popular build tools such as Automake or Meson all honor
    $DESTDIR anyway, so there’s not much to do here explicitly). It may
    also run a test suite, or anything else you like. After the script
    finished, the build image is removed again, and a second image (the
    final image) is built. This time, no development packages are
    included, and the build script is not copied into the image again —
    however, the build artifacts from the first run (i.e. those placed in
    $DESTDIR) are copied into the image.

  4. mkosi.postinst — If this executable script exists, it is invoked
    inside the image (inside a systemd-nspawn invocation) and can
    adjust the image as it likes at a very late point in the image
    preparation. If mkosi.build exists, i.e. the dual-phased
    development build process used, then this script will be invoked
    twice: once inside the build image and once inside the final
    image. The first parameter passed to the script clarifies which phase
    it is run in.

  5. mkosi.nspawn — If this file exists, it should contain a
    container configuration file for systemd-nspawn (see
    systemd.nspawn(5)
    for details), which shall be shipped along with the final image and
    shall be included in the check-sum calculations (see below).

  6. mkosi.cache/ — If this directory exists, it is used as package
    cache directory for the builds. This directory is effectively bind
    mounted into the image at build time, in order to speed up building
    images. The package installers of the various distributions will
    place their package files here, so that subsequent runs can reuse
    them.

  7. mkosi.passphrase — If this file exists, it should contain a
    pass-phrase to use for the LUKS encryption (if that’s enabled for the
    image built). This file should not be readable to other users.

  8. mkosi.secure-boot.crt and mkosi.secure-boot.key should be an
    X.509 key pair to use for signing the kernel and initrd for UEFI
    SecureBoot, if that’s enabled.

How to use it

So, let’s come back to our most trivial example, without any of the
mkosi.$SOMETHING files around:

# mkosi

As mentioned, this will create a build file image.raw in the current
directory. How do we use it? Of course, we could dd it onto some USB
stick and boot it on a bare-metal device. However, it’s much simpler
to first run it in a container for testing:

# systemd-nspawn -bi image.raw

And there you go: the image should boot up, and just work for you.

Now, let’s make things more interesting. Let’s still not use any of
the mkosi.$SOMETHING files around:

# mkosi -t raw_btrfs --bootable -o foobar.raw
# systemd-nspawn -bi foobar.raw

This is similar as the above, but we made three changes: it’s no
longer GPT + ext4, but GPT + btrfs. Moreover, the system is made
bootable on UEFI systems, and finally, the output is now called
foobar.raw.

Because this system is bootable on UEFI systems, we can run it in KVM:

qemu-kvm -m 512 -smp 2 -bios /usr/share/edk2/ovmf/OVMF_CODE.fd -drive format=raw,file=foobar.raw

This will look very similar to the systemd-nspawn invocation, except
that this uses full VM virtualization rather than container
virtualization. (Note that the way to run a UEFI qemu/kvm instance
appears to change all the time and is different on the various
distributions. It’s quite annoying, and I can’t really tell you what
the right qemu command line is to make this work on your system.)

Of course, it’s not all raw GPT disk images with mkosi. Let’s try
a plain directory image:

# mkosi -d fedora -t directory -o quux
# systemd-nspawn -bD quux

Of course, if you generate the image as plain directory you can’t boot
it on bare-metal just like that, nor run it in a VM.

A more complex command line is the following:

# mkosi -d fedora -t raw_squashfs --checksum --xz --package=openssh-clients --package=emacs

In this mode we explicitly pick Fedora as the distribution to use, ask
mkosi to generate a compressed GPT image with a root squashfs,
compress the result with xz, and generate a SHA256SUMS file with
the hashes of the generated artifacts. The package will contain the
SSH client as well as everybody’s favorite editor.

Now, let’s make use of the various mkosi.$SOMETHING files. Let’s
say we are working on some Automake-based project and want to make it
easy to generate a disk image off the development tree with the
version you are hacking on. Create a configuration file:

# cat > mkosi.default <<EOF
[Distribution]
Distribution=fedora
Release=24

[Output]
Format=raw_btrfs
Bootable=yes

[Packages]
# The packages to appear in both the build and the final image
Packages=openssh-clients httpd
# The packages to appear in the build image, but absent from the final image
BuildPackages=make gcc libcurl-devel
EOF

And let’s add a build script:

# cat > mkosi.build <<EOF
#!/bin/sh
cd $SRCDIR
./autogen.sh
./configure --prefix=/usr
make -j `nproc`
make install
EOF
# chmod +x mkosi.build

And with all that in place we can now build our project into a disk image, simply by typing:

# mkosi

Let’s try it out:

# systemd-nspawn -bi image.raw

Of course, if you do this you’ll notice that building an image like
this can be quite slow. And slow build times are actively hurtful to
your productivity as a developer. Hence let’s make things a bit
faster. First, let’s make use of a package cache shared between runs:

# mkdir mkosi.chache

Building images now should already be substantially faster (and
generate less network traffic) as the packages will now be downloaded
only once and reused. However, you’ll notice that unpacking all those
packages and the rest of the work is still quite slow. But mkosi can
help you with that. Simply use mkosi‘s incremental build feature. In
this mode mkosi will make a copy of the build and final images
immediately before dropping in your build sources or artifacts, so
that building an image becomes a lot quicker: instead of always
starting totally from scratch a build will now reuse everything it can
reuse from a previous run, and immediately begin with building your
sources rather than the build image to build your sources in. To
enable the incremental build feature use -i:

# mkosi -i

Note that if you use this option, the package list is not updated
anymore from your distribution’s servers, as the cached copy is made
after all packages are installed, and hence until you actually delete
the cached copy the distribution’s network servers aren’t contacted
again and no RPMs or DEBs are downloaded. This means the distribution
you use becomes “frozen in time” this way. (Which might be a bad
thing, but also a good thing, as it makes things kinda reproducible.)

Of course, if you run mkosi a couple of times you’ll notice that it
won’t overwrite the generated image when it already exists. You can
either delete the file yourself first (rm image.raw) or let mkosi
do it for you right before building a new image, with mkosi -f. You
can also tell mkosi to not only remove any such pre-existing images,
but also remove any cached copies of the incremental feature, by using
-f twice.

I wrote mkosi originally in order to test systemd, and quickly
generate a disk image of various distributions with the most current
systemd version from git, without all that affecting my host system. I
regularly use mkosi for that today, in incremental mode. The two
commands I use most in that context are:

# mkosi -if && systemd-nspawn -bi image.raw

And sometimes:

# mkosi -iff && systemd-nspawn -bi image.raw

The latter I use only if I want to regenerate everything based on the
very newest set of RPMs provided by Fedora, instead of a cached
snapshot of it.

BTW, the mkosi files for systemd are included in the systemd git
tree:
mkosi.default
and
mkosi.build. This
way, any developer who wants to quickly test something with current
systemd git, or wants to prepare a patch based on it and test it can
check out the systemd repository and simply run mkosi in it and a
few minutes later he has a bootable image he can test in
systemd-nspawn or KVM. casync has similar files:
mkosi.default,
mkosi.build.

Random Interesting Features

  1. As mentioned already, mkosi will generate dm-verity enabled
    disk images if you ask for it. For that use the --verity switch on
    the command line or Verity= setting in mkosi.default. Of course,
    dm-verity implies that the root volume is read-only. In this mode
    the top-level dm-verity hash will be placed along-side the output
    disk image in a file named the same way, but with the .roothash
    suffix. If the image is to be created bootable, the root hash is also
    included on the kernel command line in the roothash= parameter,
    which current systemd versions can use to both find and activate the
    root partition in a dm-verity protected way. BTW: it’s a good idea
    to combine this dm-verity mode with the raw_squashfs image mode,
    to generate a genuinely protected, compressed image suitable for
    running in your IoT device.

  2. As indicated above, mkosi can automatically create a check-sum
    file SHA256SUMS for you (--checksum) covering all the files it
    outputs (which could be the image file itself, a matching .nspawn
    file using the mkosi.nspawn file mentioned above, as well as the
    .roothash file for the dm-verity root hash.) It can then
    optionally sign this with gpg (--sign). Note that systemd‘s
    machinectl pull-tar and machinectl pull-raw command can download
    these files and the SHA256SUMS file automatically and verify things
    on download. With other words: what mkosi outputs is perfectly
    ready for downloads using these two systemd commands.

  3. As mentioned, mkosi is big on supporting UEFI SecureBoot. To
    make use of that, place your X.509 key pair in two files
    mkosi.secureboot.crt and mkosi.secureboot.key, and set
    SecureBoot= or --secure-boot. If so, mkosi will sign the
    kernel/initrd/kernel command line combination during the build. Of
    course, if you use this mode, you should also use
    Verity=/--verity=, otherwise the setup makes only partial
    sense. Note that mkosi will not help you with actually enrolling
    the keys you use in your UEFI BIOS.

  4. mkosi has minimal support for GIT checkouts: when it recognizes
    it is run in a git checkout and you use the mkosi.build script
    stuff, the source tree will be copied into the build image, but will
    all files excluded by .gitignore removed.

  5. There’s support for encryption in place. Use --encrypt= or
    Encrypt=. Note that the UEFI ESP is never encrypted though, and the
    root partition only if explicitly requested. The /home and /srv
    partitions are unconditionally encrypted if that’s enabled.

  6. Images may be built with all documentation removed.

  7. The password for the root user and additional kernel command line
    arguments may be configured for the image to generate.

Minimum Requirements

Current mkosi requires Python 3.5, and has a number of dependencies,
listed in the
README. Most
notably you need a somewhat recent systemd version to make use of its
full feature set: systemd 233. Older versions are already packaged for
various distributions, but much of what I describe above is only
available in the most recent release mkosi 3.

The UEFI SecureBoot support requires sbsign which currently isn’t
available in Fedora, but there’s a
COPR
.

Future

It is my intention to continue turning mkosi into a tool suitable
for:

  1. Testing and debugging projects
  2. Building images for secure devices
  3. Building portable service images
  4. Building images for secure VMs and containers

One of the biggest goals I have for the future is to teach mkosi and
systemd/sd-boot native support for A/B IoT style partition
setups. The idea is that the combination of systemd, casync and
mkosi provides generic building blocks for building secure,
auto-updating devices in a generic way from, even though all pieces
may be used individually, too.

FAQ

  1. Why are you reinventing the wheel again? This is exactly like
    $SOMEOTHERPROJECT!
    — Well, to my knowledge there’s no tool that
    integrates this nicely with your project’s development tree, and can
    do dm-verity and UEFI SecureBoot and all that stuff for you. So
    nope, I don’t think this exactly like $SOMEOTHERPROJECT, thank you
    very much.

  2. What about creating MBR/DOS partition images? — That’s really
    out of focus to me. This is an exercise in figuring out how generic
    OSes and devices in the future should be built and an attempt to
    commoditize OS image building. And no, the future doesn’t speak MBR,
    sorry. That said, I’d be quite interested in adding support for
    booting on Raspberry Pi, possibly using a hybrid approach, i.e. using
    a GPT disk label, but arranging things in a way that the Raspberry Pi
    boot protocol (which is built around DOS partition tables), can still
    work.

  3. Is this portable? — Well, depends what you mean by
    portable. No, this tool runs on Linux only, and as it uses
    systemd-nspawn during the build process it doesn’t run on
    non-systemd systems either. But then again, you should be able to
    create images for any architecture you like with it, but of course if
    you want the image bootable on bare-metal systems only systems doing
    UEFI are supported (but systemd-nspawn should still work fine on
    them).

  4. Where can I get this stuff? — Try
    GitHub. And some distributions
    carry packaged versions, but I think none of them the current v3
    yet.

  5. Is this a systemd project? — Yes, it’s hosted under the
    systemd GitHub umbrella. And yes,
    during run-time systemd-nspawn in a current version is required. But
    no, the code-bases are separate otherwise, already because systemd
    is a C project, and mkosi Python.

  6. Requiring systemd 233 is a pretty steep requirement, no?
    Yes, but the feature we need kind of matters (systemd-nspawn‘s
    --overlay= switch), and again, this isn’t supposed to be a tool for
    legacy systems.

  7. Can I run the resulting images in LXC or Docker? — Humm, I am
    not an LXC nor Docker guy. If you select directory or subvolume
    as image type, LXC should be able to boot the generated images just
    fine, but I didn’t try. Last time I looked, Docker doesn’t permit
    running proper init systems as PID 1 inside the container, as they
    define their own run-time without intention to emulate a proper
    system. Hence, no I don’t think it will work, at least not with an
    unpatched Docker version. That said, again, don’t ask me questions
    about Docker, it’s not precisely my area of expertise, and quite
    frankly I am not a fan. To my knowledge neither LXC nor Docker are
    able to run containers directly off GPT disk images, hence the
    various raw_xyz image types are definitely not compatible with
    either. That means if you want to generate a single raw disk image
    that can be booted unmodified both in a container and on bare-metal,
    then systemd-nspawn is the container manager to go for
    (specifically, its -i/--image= switch).

Should you care? Is this a tool for you?

Well, that’s up to you really.

If you hack on some complex project and need a quick way to compile
and run your project on a specific current Linux distribution, then
mkosi is an excellent way to do that. Simply drop the mkosi.default
and mkosi.build files in your git tree and everything will be
easy. (And of course, as indicated above: if the project you are
hacking on happens to be called systemd or casync be aware that
those files are already part of the git tree — you can just use them.)

If you hack on some embedded or IoT device, then mkosi is a great
choice too, as it will make it reasonably easy to generate secure
images that are protected against offline modification, by using
dm-verity and UEFI SecureBoot.

If you are an administrator and need a nice way to build images for a
VM or systemd-nspawn container, or a portable service then mkosi
is an excellent choice too.

If you care about legacy computers, old distributions, non-systemd
init systems, old VM managers, Docker, … then no, mkosi is not for
you, but there are plenty of well-established alternatives around that
cover that nicely.

And never forget: mkosi is an Open Source project. We are happy to
accept your patches and other contributions.

Oh, and one unrelated last thing: don’t forget to submit your talk
proposal

and/or buy a ticket for
All Systems Go! 2017 in Berlin — the
conference where things like systemd, casync and mkosi are
discussed, along with a variety of other Linux userspace projects used
for building systems.

Backblaze B2, Cloud Storage on a Budget: One Year Later

Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-b2-cloud-storage-on-a-budget-one-year-later/

B2 Cloud Storage Review

A year ago, Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage came out of beta and became available for everyone to use. We were pretty excited, even though it seemed like everyone and their brother had a cloud storage offering. Now that we are a year down the road let’s see how B2 has fared in the real world of tight budgets, maxed-out engineering schedules, insanely funded competition, and more. Spoiler alert: We’re still pretty excited…

Cloud Storage on a Budget

There are dozens of companies offering cloud storage and the landscape is cluttered with incomprehensible pricing models, cleverly disguised transfer and download charges, and differing levels of service that seem to be driven more by marketing departments than customer needs.

Backblaze B2 keeps things simple: A single performant level of service, a single affordable price for storage ($0.005/GB/month), a single affordable price for downloads ($0.02/GB), and a single list of transaction charges – all on a single pricing page.

Who’s Using B2?

By making cloud storage affordable, companies and organizations now have a way to store their data in the cloud and still be able to access and restore it as quickly as needed. You don’t have to choose between price and performance. Here are a few examples:

  • Media & Entertainment: KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, is using B2 to preserve their video catalog of the world renown musical anthology series, Austin City Limits.
  • LTO Migration: The Girl Scouts San Diego, were able to move their daily incremental backups from LTO tape to the cloud, saving money and time, while helping automate their entire backup process.
  • Cloud Migration: Vintage Aerial found it cost effective to discard their internal data server and store their unique hi-resolution images in B2 Cloud Storage.
  • Backup: Ahuja and Clark, a boutique accounting firm, was able to save over 80% on the cost to backup all their corporate and client data.

How is B2 Being Used?

B2 Cloud Storage can be accessed in four ways: using the Web GUI, using the CLI, using the API library, and using a product or service integrated with B2. While many customers are using the Web GUI, CLI and API to store and retrieve data, the most prolific use of B2 occurs via our integration partners. Each integration partner has certified they have met our best practices for integrating to B2 and we’ve tested each of the integrations submitted to us. Here are a few of the highlights.

  • NAS Devices – Synology and QNAP have integrations which allow their NAS devices to sync their data to/from B2.
  • Backup and Sync – CloudBerry, GoodSync, and Retrospect are just a few of the services that can backup and/or sync data to/from B2.
  • Hybrid Cloud – 45 Drives and OpenIO are solutions that allow you to setup and operate a hybrid data storage cloud environment.
  • Desktop Apps – CyberDuck, MountainDuck, Dropshare, and more allow users an easy way to store and use data in B2 right from your desktop.
  • Digital Asset Management – Cantemo, Cubix, CatDV, and axle Video, let you catalog your digital assets and then store them in B2 for fast retrieval when they are needed.

If you have an application or service that stores data in the cloud and it isn’t integrated with Backblaze B2, then your customers are probably paying too much for cloud storage.

What’s New in B2?

B2 Fireball – our rapid data ingest service. We send you a storage device, and you load it up with up to 40 TB of data and send it back, then we load the data into your B2 account. The cost is $550 per trip plus shipping. Save your network bandwidth with the B2 Fireball.

Lowered the download price – When we introduced B2, we set the price to download a gigabyte of data to be $0.05/GB – the same as most competitors. A year in, we reevaluated the price based on usage and decided to lower the price to $0.02/GB.

B2 User Groups – Backblaze Groups functionality is now available in B2. An administrator can invite users to a B2 centric Group to centralize the storage location for that group of users. For example, multiple members of a department working on a project will be able to archive their work-in-process activities into a single B2 bucket.

Time Machine backup – You may know that you can use your Synology NAS as the destination for your Time Machine backup. With B2 you can also sync your Synology NAS to B2 for a true 3-2-1 backup solution. If your system crashes or is lost, you can restore your Time Machine image directly from B2 to your new machine.

Life Cycle Rules – Create rules that allow you to manage the length of time deleted files will remain in your B2 bucket before they are deleted. A great option for managing the cleanup of outdated file versions to save on storage costs.

Large Files – In the B2 Web GUI you can upload files as large as 500 MB using either the upload or drag-and-drop functionality. The B2 CLI and API support the ability to upload/download files as large as 10 TB.

5 MB file part size – When working with large files, the minimum file part size can now be set as low as 5 MB versus the previous low setting of 100 MB. Now the range of a file part when working with large files can be from 5 MB to 5GB. This increases the throughput of your data uploads and downloads.

SHA-1 at the end – This feature allows you to compute the SHA-1 checksum and append it to the end of the request body versus doing the computation before the file is sent. This is especially useful for those applications which stream data to/from B2.

Cache-Control – When data is downloaded from B2 into a browser, the length of time the file remains in the browser cache can be set at the bucket level using the b2_create_bucket and b2_update_bucket API calls. Setting this policy is optional.

Customized delimiters – Used in the API, this allows you to specify a delimiter to use for a given purpose. A common use is to set a delimiter in the file name string. Then use that delimiter to detect a folder name within the string.

Looking Ahead

Over the past year we added nearly 30,000 new B2 customers to the fold and are welcoming more and more each day as B2 continues to grow. We have plans to expand our storage footprint by adding more data centers as we look forward to moving towards a multi-region environment.

For those of you who are B2 customers – thank you for helping build B2. If you have an interesting way you are using B2, tell us in the comments below.

The post Backblaze B2, Cloud Storage on a Budget: One Year Later appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

T411, France’s Most-Visited Torrent Site, Has Been Shut Down

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/t411-frances-most-visited-torrent-site-has-disappeared-170627/

As the number one torrent site among French speakers and one of the most popular sites in France, T411’s rise to stardom is the product of more than a decade of twists and turns.

After a prolonged battle against 31 Canadian media organizations including the CRIA, the administrator of a torrent site known as QuebecTorrent closed its doors in 2008 after the handing down of a permanent injunction.

“I just wanna say thanks to all the people who supported the cause and me all along,” admin Sebastian Doditz told TorrentFreak at the time.

Initially, it was believed that the 109,000 members of the site would be left homeless but shortly after another torrent site appeared. Called Torrent411 with the slogan The Torrent Yellow Pages (411 is Canada’s version), it launched with around 109,000 members – the number that QuebecTorrent closed with.

No surprise then that all QuebecTorrent user accounts had been transferred to T411, including ratios and even some content categories that were previously excluded due to copyright holder disputes.

“Welcome to one and all!” a notice on the site read. “It is with great pleasure that we launch the Torrent411.com site today. All the team of Torrent411.com wishes you the most cordial of welcomes! Here you will find all the torrents imaginable which will be for you for thousands of hours to come! Filled with surprises that await you!”

Even following its resurrection, pressure on the site continued to build. In 2011, it was forced to move to T411.me, to avoid problems with its .com domain, but against the odds, it continued to grow.

As shown in the image to the right (courtesy OpenTrackers), in 2013 the site had more than 5.3 million members, 336,000 torrents, and 4.7m seeders. That made it a significant site indeed.

In early 2015, the site decided to move again, from .me to .io, following action to have the site blocked in France.

But later in the year, there was yet more trouble when the site found itself reported to the United States Trade Representative, identified as a “rogue site” by the RIAA.

With a number of copyright holders on its back, it’s clear that T411’s troubles weren’t going away anytime soon, but now there’s a crisis from which the site is unlikely to recover.

On Sunday, T411 simply stopped responding on its latest T411.al domain. No warning and no useful messages have been forthcoming from its operators. For a site of this scale and resilience, that’s not something one expects.

Message greeting site visitors

Even though the site itself has been down, there have been some very basic signs of life. For example, the site’s Wiki remained operational which indicates the T411.al domain is at least partially intact, at least for now. But for those hoping for good news, none will be forthcoming.

Moments ago, French journalist Tristan Brossat‏ confirmed that T411 has been shut down in a joint operation between French and Swedish police.

He reports that “the brains” behind the site (reportedly two Ukrainians) have been arrested. Servers hosted at a Swedish company have been seized.

Anti-piracy activity against France-connected torrent sites has been high during recent months. Last November, torrent icon What.cd shutdown following action by French authorities.

Soon after, the cybercrime unit of the French military police targeted the country’s largest pirate site, Zone-Telechargement (1,2).

Update: A source familiar with developments informs TF that a one of those arrested in Sweden was a developer. In France, he reports that moderators have been arrested.

Update2: The arrests in Sweden took place in the Huddinge Municipality in Stockholm County, east central Sweden. The men are said to be around 30-years-old and are suspected of copyright infringement and money laundering offenses.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Cybercrime Officials Shutdown Large eBook Portal, Three Arrested

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cybercrime-officials-shutdown-large-ebook-portal-three-arrested-170626/

Back in February 2015, German anti-piracy outfit GVU filed a complaint against the operators of large eBook portal Lul.to.

Targeted mainly at the German audience, the site carried around 160,000 eBooks, 28,000 audiobooks, plus newspapers and periodicals. Its motto was “Read and Listen” and claimed to be both the largest German eBook portal and the largest DRM-free platform in the world.

Unlike most file-sharing sites, Lul.to charged around 30,000 customers a small fee to access content, around $0.23 per download. However, all that came to end last week when authorities moved to shut the platform down.

According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, searches in several locations led to the discovery of around 55,000 euros in bitcoin, 100,000 euros in bank deposits, 10,000 euros in cash, plus a “high-quality” motorcycle.

As is often the case following significant action, the site has been completely taken down and now displays the following seizure notice.

Lul.to seized (translated from German)

Authorities report that three people were arrested and are being detained while investigations continue.

It is not yet clear how many times the site’s books were downloaded by users but investigators believe that the retail value of the content offered on the site was around 392,000 euros. By volume, investigators seized more than 11 terabytes of data.

The German Publishers & Booksellers Association welcomed the shutdown of the platform.

“Intervening against lul.to is an important success in the fight against Internet piracy. By blocking one of the largest illegal providers for e-books and audiobooks, many publishers and retailers can breathe,” said CEO Alexander Skipis.

“Piracy is not an excusable offense, it’s the theft of intellectual property, which is the basis for the work of authors, publishers, and bookshops. Portals like lul.to harm the media market massively. The success of the investigation is another example of the fact that such illegal models ultimately can not hold up.”

Last week in a separate case in Denmark, three men aged between 26 and 71-years-old were handed suspended sentences for offering subscription access to around 198 pirate textbooks.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 06/26/17

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-pirated-movies-week-bittorrent-062617/

This week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Kong: Skull Island is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1 (…) Kong: Skull Island 6.9 / trailer
2 (…) King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 7.2 / trailer
3 (1) Wonder Woman (TC) 8.2 / trailer
4 (3) The Fate of the Furious 6.7 / trailer
5 (8) The Mummy 2017 (HDTS) 5.8 / trailer
6 (2) Power Rangers 6.5 / trailer
7 (5) The Boss Baby 6.5 / trailer
8 (4) Chips 5.8 / trailer
9 (6) John Wick: Chapter 2 8.0 / trailer
10 (9) Logan 8.6 / trailer

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

A kindly lesson for you non-techies about encryption

Post Syndicated from Robert Graham original http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/06/a-kindly-lesson-for-you-non-techies.html

The following tweets need to be debunked:

The answer to John Schindler’s question is:

every expert in cryptography doesn’t know this

Oh, sure, you can find fringe wacko who also knows crypto that agrees with you but all the sane members of the security community will not.

Telegram is not trustworthy because it’s partially closed-source. We can’t see how it works. We don’t know if they’ve made accidental mistakes that can be hacked. We don’t know if they’ve been bribed by the NSA or Russia to put backdoors in their program. In contrast, PGP and Signal are open-source. We can read exactly what the software does. Indeed, thousands of people have been reviewing their software looking for mistakes and backdoors. Being open-source doesn’t automatically make software better, but it does make hiding secret backdoors much harder.

Telegram is not trustworthy because we aren’t certain the crypto is done properly. Signal, and especially PGP, are done properly.

The thing about encryption is that when done properly, it works. Neither the NSA nor the Russians can break properly encrypted content. There’s no such thing as “military grade” encryption that is better than consumer grade. There’s only encryption that nobody can hack vs. encryption that your neighbor’s teenage kid can easily hack. Those scenes in TV/movies about breaking encryption is as realistic as sound in space: good for dramatic presentation, but not how things work in the real world.

In particular, end-to-end encryption works. Sure, in the past, such apps only encrypted as far as the server, so whoever ran the server could read your messages. Modern chat apps, though, are end-to-end: the servers have absolutely no ability to decrypt what’s on them, unless they can get the decryption keys from the phones. But some tasks, like encrypted messages to a group of people, can be hard to do properly.

Thus, in contrast to what John Schindler says, while we techies have doubts about Telegram, we don’t have doubts about Russia authorities having access to Signal and PGP messages.

Snowden hatred has become the anti-vax of crypto. Sure, there’s no particular reason to trust Snowden — people should really stop treating him as some sort of privacy-Jesus. But there’s no particular reason to distrust him, either. His bland statements on crypto are indistinguishable from any other crypto-enthusiast statements. If he’s a Russian pawn, then so too is the bulk of the crypto community.

With all this said, using Signal doesn’t make you perfectly safe. The person you are chatting with could be a secret agent — especially in group chat. There could be cameras/microphones in the room where you are using the app. The Russians can also hack into your phone, and likewise eavesdrop on everything you do with the phone, regardless of which app you use. And they probably have hacked specific people’s phones. On the other hand, if the NSA or Russians were widely hacking phones, we’d detect that this was happening. We haven’t.

Signal is therefore not a guarantee of safety, because nothing is, and if your life depends on it, you can’t trust any simple advice like “use Signal”. But, for the bulk of us, it’s pretty damn secure, and I trust neither the Russians nor the NSA are reading my Signal or PGP messages.

At first blush, this @20committee tweet appears to be non-experts opining on things outside their expertise. But in reality, it’s just obtuse partisanship, where truth and expertise doesn’t matter. Nothing you or I say can change some people’s minds on this matter, no matter how much our expertise gives weight to our words. This post is instead for bystanders, who don’t know enough to judge whether these crazy statements have merit.


Bonus:

So let’s talk about “every crypto expert“. It’s, of course, impossible to speak for every crypto expert. It’s like saying how the consensus among climate scientists is that mankind is warming the globe, while at the same time, ignoring the wide spread disagreement on how much warming that is.

The same is true here. You’ll get a widespread different set of responses from experts about the above tweet. Some, for example, will stress my point at the bottom that hacking the endpoint (the phone) breaks all the apps, and thus justify the above tweet from that point of view. Others will point out that all software has bugs, and it’s quite possible that Signal has some unknown bug that the Russians are exploiting.

So I’m not attempting to speak for what all experts might say here in the general case and what long lecture they can opine about. I am, though, pointing out the basics that virtually everyone agrees on, the consensus of open-source and working crypto.

Scammers Pick Up NYAA Torrents Domain Name

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/scammers-pick-up-nyaa-torrents-domain-name-170624/

For years NYAA Torrents was heralded as one of the top sources for anime content, serving an audience of millions of users.

This changed abruptly early last month when the site’s domain names were deactivated and stopped working.

TorrentFreak heard from several people, including site moderators and other people close to the site, that NYAA’s owner decided to close the site voluntarily. However, no comments were made in public.

While many former users moved on to other sites, some started to see something familiar when they checked their old bookmarks this week. All of a sudden, NYAA.eu was loading just fine, albeit with a twist.

“Due to the regulation & security issues with Bittorrent, the Nyaa Team has decided to move from torrent to a faster & secure part of the internet!” a message posted on the site reads.

Instead, the site says it’s going underground, encouraging visitors to download the brand new free “binary client.” At the same time, it warns against ‘fake’ NYAA sites.

“We wish we could keep up the torrent tracker, but it is to risky for our torrent crew as well as for our fans. Nyaa.se has been shut down as well. All other sites claiming to be the new Nyaa are Fake!”

Fake NYAA

The truth is, however, that the site itself is “fake.” After the domain name was deactivated it was put back into rotation by the .EU registry, allowing outsiders to pick it up. These people are now trying to monetize it with their download offer.

According to the Whois information, NYAA.eu is registered to the German company Goodlabs, which specializes in domain name monetization.

The client download link on the site points to a Goo.gl shorturl, which in turn redirects to an affiliate link for a Usenet service. At least, last time we checked.

The people who registered the domain hope that people will sign up there, assuming that it’s somehow connected to the old NYAA crew.

Thus far, over 27,000 people have clicked on the link in just a few days. This means that the domain name still generates significant traffic, mostly from Japan, The United States, and France.

While it is likely new to former NYAA users, this type of scam is pretty common. There are a few file-sharing related domains with similar messages, including Demonoid.to, Isohunts.to, All4nothin.net, Torrenthounds.com, Proxyindex.net, Ddgamez.com and many others.

Some offer links to affiliate deals and others point to direct downloads of .exe files. It’s safe to say, that it’s best to stay far away from all of these.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Court Hands Internet Textbook Pirates Suspended Sentences

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-hands-internet-textbook-pirates-suspended-sentences-170624/

All types of media content can be exploited online with movies, TV shows, and music among the most popular among pirates. However, in recent years books have proven desirable, especially those that otherwise have hefty price tags.

Textbooks are particularly well known for their stiff pricing, something which presents a thorn in the side for thousands of students every year. Making matters worse, books are often marginally tweaked per revision, ensuring that second owner books lose their value. This isn’t something that affects pirates though.

Over the years, many file-sharing sites have catered to people seeking textbooks for free, with many building up a dedicated following. Others, however, have seen the opportunity to make some money, offering broad but illegal access to textbooks for a nominal fee.

That was the case with Denmark-based website LendStudy. It provided students with access to hundreds of textbooks for a comparatively reasonable price of 300 kroner ($45.00) per semester. Unfortunately, that attracted the attention of anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance, who pursued a case against its operators.

In court this week, three men aged 26, 31 and 71 stood accused of scanning and then making available at least 198 copyrighted textbooks to paying members. Between August 2013 and October 2014 it was alleged the textbooks were downloaded from the site 2,574 times, netting the men revenues of around $3,500.

According to local media, all three men initially pleaded not guilty but later admitted being operators of the site.

The court heard how RightsAlliance tried to create an account on LendStudy but its request for membership was discovered and rejected by the site’s operators. Other evidence presented by the prosecution included photographs of the men loading computers, scanners, and other IT equipment into a car.

“It is expensive for students to acquire new knowledge. Lendstudy wanted to spread knowledge in the form of books that give students more opportunities for new knowledge,” the 31-year-old defendant said in court.

Unfortunately for the site’s operators, the desire to enrich the minds of students failed to persuade the court that piracy could be ignored. All three were found guilty of criminal copyright infringement and handed four-month conditional jail sentences. The LundStudy.dk domain was confiscated.

The notice on the LendStudy site

“If textbooks are made freely available or sold illegally, publishers have less incentive to produce textbooks,” said Martin Lindø Westeraaard from University Press of Southern Denmark.

“It will be detrimental both for publishers and for the students, who will lose the opportunity to read Danish-language textbooks.”

A claim for damages against the men will now be pursued by Rights Alliance in a civil case.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Banning VPNs and Proxies is Dangerous, IT Experts Warn

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/banning-vpns-and-proxies-is-dangerous-it-experts-warn-170623/

In April, draft legislation was developed to crack down on systems and software that allow Russian Internet users to bypass website blockades approved by telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor.

Earlier this month the draft bill was submitted to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. If passed, the law will make it illegal for services to circumvent web blockades by “routing traffic of Russian Internet users through foreign servers, anonymous proxy servers, virtual private networks and other means.”

As the plans currently stand, anonymization services that fail to restrict access to sites listed by telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor face being blocked themselves. Sites offering circumvention software for download also face potential blacklisting.

This week the State Duma discussed the proposals with experts from the local Internet industry. In addition to the head of Rozcomnadzor, representatives from service providers, search engines and even anonymization services were in attendance. Novaya Gazeta has published comments (Russian) from some of the key people at the meeting and it’s fair to say there’s not a lot of support.

VimpelCom, the sixth largest mobile network operator in the world with more than 240 million subscribers, sent along Director for Relations with Government, Sergey Malyanov. He wondered where all this blocking will end up.

“First we banned certain information. Then this information was blocked with the responsibility placed on both owners of resources and services. Now there are blocks on top of blocks – so we already have a triple effort,” he said.

“It is now possible that there will be a fourth iteration: the block on the block to block those that were not blocked. And with that, we have significantly complicated the law and the activities of all the people affected by it.”

Malyanov said that these kinds of actions have the potential to close down the entire Internet by ruining what was once an open network running standard protocols. But amid all of this, will it even be effective?

“The question is not even about the losses that will be incurred by network operators, the owners of the resources and the search engines. The question is whether this bill addresses the goal its creators have set for themselves. In my opinion, it will not.”

Group-IB, one of the world’s leading cyber-security and threat intelligence providers, was represented CEO Ilya Sachkov. He told parliament that “ordinary respectable people” who use the Internet should always use a VPN for security. Nevertheless, he also believes that such services should be forced to filter sites deemed illegal by the state.

But in a warning about blocks in general, he warned that people who want to circumvent them will always be one step ahead.

“We have to understand that by the time the law is adopted the perpetrators will already find it very easy to circumvent,” he said.

Mobile operator giant MTS, which turns over billions of dollars and employs 50,000+ people, had their Vice-President of Corporate and Legal Affairs in attendance. Ruslan Ibragimov said that in dealing with a problem, the government should be cautious of not causing more problems, including disruption of a growing VPN market.

“We have an understanding that evil must be fought, but it’s not necessary to create a new evil, even more so – for those who are involved in this struggle,” he said.

“Broad wording of this law may pose a threat to our network, which could be affected by the new restrictive measures, as well as the VPN market, which we are currently developing, and whose potential market is estimated at 50 billion rubles a year.”

In its goal to maintain control of the Internet, it’s clear that Russia is determined to press ahead with legislative change. Unfortunately, it’s far from clear that there’s a technical solution to the problem, but if one is pursued regardless, there could be serious fallout.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Court Suspends Ban on Roku Sales in Mexico

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-suspends-ban-on-roku-sales-in-mexico-170623/

Last week, news broke that the Superior Court of Justice of the City of Mexico had issued a ban on Roku sales.

The order prohibited stores such as Amazon, Liverpool, El Palacio de Hierro, and Sears from importing and selling the devices. In addition, several banks were told stop processing payments from accounts that are linked to pirated services on Roku.

While Roku itself is not offering any pirated content, there is a market for third-party pirate channels outside the Roku Channel Store, which turn the boxes into pirate tools. Cablevision filed a complaint about this unauthorized use which eventually resulted in the ban.

The news generated headlines all over the world and was opposed immediately by several of the parties involved. Yesterday, a federal judge decided to suspend the import and sales ban, at least temporarily.

As a result, local vendors can resume their sales of the popular media player.

“Roku is pleased with today’s court decision, which paves the way for sales of Roku devices to resume in Mexico,” Roku’s General Counsel Steve Kay informed TorrentFreak after he heard the news.

Roku

TorrentFreak has not been able to get a copy of the suspension order, but it’s likely that the court wants to review the case in more detail before a final decision is made.

While streaming player piracy is seen as one of the greatest threats the entertainment industry faces today, the Roku ban went quite far. In a way, it would be similar to banning the Chrome browser because certain add-ons and sites allow users to stream pirated movies.

Roku, meanwhile, says it will continue to work with rightholders and other stakeholders to prevent piracy on its platform, to the best of their ability.

“Piracy is a problem the industry at large is facing,” Key tells TorrentFreak.

“We prohibit copyright infringement of any kind on the Roku platform. We actively work to prevent third-parties from using our platform to distribute copyright infringing content. Moreover, we have been actively working with other industry stakeholders on a wide range of anti-piracy initiatives.”

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

AWS Bill Simplification – Consolidated CloudWatch Charges

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-bill-simplification-consolidated-cloudwatch-charges/

The bill that you receive for your use of AWS in July will include a change in the way that Amazon CloudWatch charges are presented. The CloudWatch team made this change in order to make your bill simpler and easier to understand.

Consolidating Charges
In the past, charges for your usage of CloudWatch were split between two sections of your bill. For historical reasons, the charges for CloudWatch Alarms, CloudWatch Metrics, and calls to the CloudWatch API were reported in the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) detail section, while charges for CloudWatch Logs and CloudWatch Dashboards were reported in the CloudWatch detail section, like this:

We have received feedback that splitting the charges across two sections of the bill made it difficult to locate and understand the entire set of monitoring charges. In order to address this issue, we are moving the charges that were formerly listed in the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) detail section to the CloudWatch detail section. We are making the same change to the detailed billing report, moving the affected charges from the AmazonEC2 product code to the AmazonCloudWatch product code and changing to the AmazonCloudWatch product name. This change does not affect your overall bill; it simply consolidates all of the charges for the use of CloudWatch in one section.

Billing Metric
The CloudWatch billing metric named Estimated Charges can be viewed as a Total Estimated Charge, or broken down By Service:

The total will not change. However, as noted above, the charges that formerly had AmazonEC2 as the ServiceName dimension will now have it set to AmazonCloudWatch:

You may need to adjust thresholds on your billing alarms as a result:

Once again, your total AWS bill will not change. You will begin to see the consolidated charges for CloudWatch in your AWS bill for July 2017.

Jeff;

 

From Idea to Launch: Getting Your First Customers

Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-get-your-first-customers/

line outside of Apple

After deciding to build an unlimited backup service and developing our own storage platform, the next step was to get customers and feedback. Not all customers are created equal. Let’s talk about the types, and when and how to attract them.

How to Get Your First Customers

First Step – Don’t Launch Publicly
Launch when you’re ready for the judgments of people who don’t know you at all. Until then, don’t launch. Sign up users and customers either that you know, those you can trust to cut you some slack (while providing you feedback), or at minimum those for whom you can set expectations. For months the Backblaze website was a single page with no ability to get the product and minimal info on what it would be. This is not to counter the Lean Startup ‘iterate quickly with customer feedback’ advice. Rather, this is an acknowledgement that there are different types of feedback required based on your development stage.

Sign Up Your Friends
We knew all of our first customers; they were friends, family, and previous co-workers. Many knew what we were up to and were excited to help us. No magic marketing or tech savviness was required to reach them – we just asked that they try the service. We asked them to provide us feedback on their experience and collected it through email and conversations. While the feedback wasn’t unbiased, it was nonetheless wide-ranging, real, and often insightful. These people were willing to spend time carefully thinking about their feedback and delving deeper into the conversations.

Broaden to Beta
Unless you’re famous or your service costs $1 million per customer, you’ll probably need to expand quickly beyond your friends to build a business – and to get broader feedback. Our next step was to broaden the customer base to beta users.

Opening up the service in beta provides three benefits:

  1. Air cover for the early warts. There are going to be issues, bugs, unnecessarily complicated user flows, and poorly worded text. Beta tells people, “We don’t consider the product ‘done’ and you should expect some of these issues. Please be patient with us.”
  2. A request for feedback. Some people always provide feedback, but beta communicates that you want it.
  3. An awareness opportunity. Opening up in beta provides an early (but not only) opportunity to have an announcement and build awareness.

Pitching Beta to Press
Not all press cares about, or is even willing to cover, beta products. Much of the mainstream press wants to write about services that are fully live, have scale, and are important in the marketplace. However, there are a number of sites that like to cover the leading edge – and that means covering betas. Techcrunch, Ars Technica, and SimpleHelp covered our initial private beta launch. I’ll go into the details of how to work with the press to cover your announcements in a post next month.

Private vs. Public Beta
Both private and public beta provide all three of the benefits above. The difference between the two is that private betas are much more controlled, whereas public ones bring in more users. But this isn’t an either/or – I recommend doing both.

Private Beta
For our original beta in 2008, we decided that we were comfortable with about 1,000 users subscribing to our service. That would provide us with a healthy amount of feedback and get some early adoption, while not overwhelming us or our server capacity, and equally important not causing cash flow issues from having to buy more equipment. So we decided to limit the sign-up to only the first 1,000 people who signed up; then we would shut off sign-ups for a while.

But how do you even get 1,000 people to sign up for your service? In our case, get some major publications to write about our beta. (Note: In a future post I’ll explain exactly how to find and reach out to writers. Sign up to receive all of the entrepreneurial posts in this series.)

Public Beta
For our original service (computer backup), we did not have a public beta; but when we launched Backblaze B2, we had a private and then a public beta. The private beta allowed us to work out early kinks, while the public beta brought us a more varied set of use cases. In public beta, there is no cap on the number of users that may try the service.

While this is a first-class problem to have, if your service is flooded and stops working, it’s still a problem. Think through what you will do if that happens. In our early days, when our system could get overwhelmed by volume, we had a static web page hosted with a different registrar that wouldn’t let customers sign up but would tell them when our service would be open again. When we reached a critical volume level we would redirect to it in order to at least provide status for when we could accept more customers.

Collect Feedback
Since one of the goals of betas is to get feedback, we made sure that we had our email addresses clearly presented on the site so users could send us thoughts. We were most interested in broad qualitative feedback on users’ experience, so all emails went to an internal mailing list that would be read by everyone at Backblaze.

For our B2 public and private betas, we also added an optional short survey to the sign-up process. In order to be considered for the private beta you had to fill the survey out, though we found that 80% of users continued to fill out the survey even when it was not required. This survey had both closed-end questions (“how much data do you have”) and open-ended ones (“what do you want to use cloud storage for?”).

BTW, despite us getting a lot of feedback now via our support team, Twitter, and marketing surveys, we are always open to more – you can email me directly at gleb.budman {at} backblaze.com.

Don’t Throw Away Users
Initially our backup service was available only on Windows, but we had an email sign-up list for people who wanted it for their Mac. This provided us with a sense of market demand and a ready list of folks who could be beta users and early adopters when we had a Mac version. Have a service targeted at doctors but lawyers are expressing interest? Capture that.

Product Launch

When
The first question is “when” to launch. Presuming your service is in ‘public beta’, what is the advantage of moving out of beta and into a “version 1.0”, “gold”, or “public availability”? That depends on your service and customer base. Some services fly through public beta. Gmail, on the other hand, was (in)famous for being in beta for 5 years, despite having over 100 million users.

The term beta says to users, “give us some leeway, but feel free to use the service”. That’s fine for many consumer apps and will have near zero impact on them. However, services aimed at businesses and government will often not be adopted with a beta label as the enterprise customers want to know the company feels the service is ‘ready’. While Backblaze started out as a purely consumer service, because it was a data backup service, it was important for customers to trust that the service was ready.

No product is bug-free. But from a product readiness perspective, the nomenclature should also be a reflection of the quality of the product. You can launch a product with one feature that works well out of beta. But a product with fifty features on which half the users will bump into problems should likely stay in beta. The customer feedback, surveys, and your own internal testing should guide you in determining this quality during the beta. Be careful about “we’ve only seen that one time” or “I haven’t been able to reproduce that on my machine”; those issues are likely to scale with customers when you launch.

How
Launching out of beta can be as simple as removing the beta label from the website/product. However, this can be a great time to reach out to press, write a blog post, and send an email announcement to your customers.

Consider thanking your beta testers somehow; can they get some feature turned out for free, an extension of their trial, or premium support? If nothing else, remember to thank them for their feedback. Users that signed up during your beta are likely the ones who will propel your service. They had the need and interest to both be early adopters and deal with bugs. They are likely the key to getting 1,000 true fans.

The Beginning
The title of this post was “Getting your first customers”, because getting to launch may feel like the peak of your journey when you’re pre-launch, but it really is just the beginning. It’s a step along the journey of building your business. If your launch is wildly successful, enjoy it, work to build on the momentum, but don’t lose track of building your business. If your launch is a dud, go out for a coffee with your team, say “well that sucks”, and then get back to building your business. You can learn a tremendous amount from your early customers, and they can become your biggest fans, but the success of your business will depend on what you continue to do the months and years after your launch.

The post From Idea to Launch: Getting Your First Customers appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

NSA Insider Security Post-Snowden

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/06/nsa_insider_sec.html

According to a recently declassified report obtained under FOIA, the NSA’s attempts to protect itself against insider attacks aren’t going very well:

The N.S.A. failed to consistently lock racks of servers storing highly classified data and to secure data center machine rooms, according to the report, an investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general completed in 2016.

[…]

The agency also failed to meaningfully reduce the number of officials and contractors who were empowered to download and transfer data classified as top secret, as well as the number of “privileged” users, who have greater power to access the N.S.A.’s most sensitive computer systems. And it did not fully implement software to monitor what those users were doing.

In all, the report concluded, while the post-Snowden initiative — called “Secure the Net” by the N.S.A. — had some successes, it “did not fully meet the intent of decreasing the risk of insider threats to N.S.A. operations and the ability of insiders to exfiltrate data.”

Marcy Wheeler comments:

The IG report examined seven of the most important out of 40 “Secure the Net” initiatives rolled out since Snowden began leaking classified information. Two of the initiatives aspired to reduce the number of people who had the kind of access Snowden did: those who have privileged access to maintain, configure, and operate the NSA’s computer systems (what the report calls PRIVACs), and those who are authorized to use removable media to transfer data to or from an NSA system (what the report calls DTAs).

But when DOD’s inspectors went to assess whether NSA had succeeded in doing this, they found something disturbing. In both cases, the NSA did not have solid documentation about how many such users existed at the time of the Snowden leak. With respect to PRIVACs, in June 2013 (the start of the Snowden leak), “NSA officials stated that they used a manually kept spreadsheet, which they no longer had, to identify the initial number of privileged users.” The report offered no explanation for how NSA came to no longer have that spreadsheet just as an investigation into the biggest breach thus far at NSA started. With respect to DTAs, “NSA did not know how many DTAs it had because the manually kept list was corrupted during the months leading up to the security breach.”

There seem to be two possible explanations for the fact that the NSA couldn’t track who had the same kind of access that Snowden exploited to steal so many documents. Either the dog ate their homework: Someone at NSA made the documents unavailable (or they never really existed). Or someone fed the dog their homework: Some adversary made these lists unusable. The former would suggest the NSA had something to hide as it prepared to explain why Snowden had been able to walk away with NSA’s crown jewels. The latter would suggest that someone deliberately obscured who else in the building might walk away with the crown jewels. Obscuring that list would be of particular value if you were a foreign adversary planning on walking away with a bunch of files, such as the set of hacking tools the Shadow Brokers have since released, which are believed to have originated at NSA.

Read the whole thing. Securing against insiders, especially those with technical access, is difficult, but I had assumed the NSA did more post-Snowden.

How to Create an AMI Builder with AWS CodeBuild and HashiCorp Packer – Part 2

Post Syndicated from Heitor Lessa original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/devops/how-to-create-an-ami-builder-with-aws-codebuild-and-hashicorp-packer-part-2/

Written by AWS Solutions Architects Jason Barto and Heitor Lessa

 
In Part 1 of this post, we described how AWS CodeBuild, AWS CodeCommit, and HashiCorp Packer can be used to build an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) from the latest version of Amazon Linux. In this post, we show how to use AWS CodePipeline, AWS CloudFormation, and Amazon CloudWatch Events to continuously ship new AMIs. We use Ansible by Red Hat to harden the OS on the AMIs through a well-known set of security controls outlined by the Center for Internet Security in its CIS Amazon Linux Benchmark.

You’ll find the source code for this post in our GitHub repo.

At the end of this post, we will have the following architecture:

Requirements

 
To follow along, you will need Git and a text editor. Make sure Git is configured to work with AWS CodeCommit, as described in Part 1.

Technologies

 
In addition to the services and products used in Part 1 of this post, we also use these AWS services and third-party software:

AWS CloudFormation gives developers and systems administrators an easy way to create and manage a collection of related AWS resources, provisioning and updating them in an orderly and predictable fashion.

Amazon CloudWatch Events enables you to react selectively to events in the cloud and in your applications. Specifically, you can create CloudWatch Events rules that match event patterns, and take actions in response to those patterns.

AWS CodePipeline is a continuous integration and continuous delivery service for fast and reliable application and infrastructure updates. AWS CodePipeline builds, tests, and deploys your code every time there is a code change, based on release process models you define.

Amazon SNS is a fast, flexible, fully managed push notification service that lets you send individual messages or to fan out messages to large numbers of recipients. Amazon SNS makes it simple and cost-effective to send push notifications to mobile device users or email recipients. The service can even send messages to other distributed services.

Ansible is a simple IT automation system that handles configuration management, application deployment, cloud provisioning, ad-hoc task-execution, and multinode orchestration.

Getting Started

 
We use CloudFormation to bootstrap the following infrastructure:

Component Purpose
AWS CodeCommit repository Git repository where the AMI builder code is stored.
S3 bucket Build artifact repository used by AWS CodePipeline and AWS CodeBuild.
AWS CodeBuild project Executes the AWS CodeBuild instructions contained in the build specification file.
AWS CodePipeline pipeline Orchestrates the AMI build process, triggered by new changes in the AWS CodeCommit repository.
SNS topic Notifies subscribed email addresses when an AMI build is complete.
CloudWatch Events rule Defines how the AMI builder should send a custom event to notify an SNS topic.
Region AMI Builder Launch Template
N. Virginia (us-east-1)
Ireland (eu-west-1)

After launching the CloudFormation template linked here, we will have a pipeline in the AWS CodePipeline console. (Failed at this stage simply means we don’t have any data in our newly created AWS CodeCommit Git repository.)

Next, we will clone the newly created AWS CodeCommit repository.

If this is your first time connecting to a AWS CodeCommit repository, please see instructions in our documentation on Setup steps for HTTPS Connections to AWS CodeCommit Repositories.

To clone the AWS CodeCommit repository (console)

  1. From the AWS Management Console, open the AWS CloudFormation console.
  2. Choose the AMI-Builder-Blogpost stack, and then choose Output.
  3. Make a note of the Git repository URL.
  4. Use git to clone the repository.

For example: git clone https://git-codecommit.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/v1/repos/AMI-Builder_repo

To clone the AWS CodeCommit repository (CLI)

# Retrieve CodeCommit repo URL
git_repo=$(aws cloudformation describe-stacks --query 'Stacks[0].Outputs[?OutputKey==`GitRepository`].OutputValue' --output text --stack-name "AMI-Builder-Blogpost")

# Clone repository locally
git clone ${git_repo}

Bootstrap the Repo with the AMI Builder Structure

 
Now that our infrastructure is ready, download all the files and templates required to build the AMI.

Your local Git repo should have the following structure:

.
├── ami_builder_event.json
├── ansible
├── buildspec.yml
├── cloudformation
├── packer_cis.json

Next, push these changes to AWS CodeCommit, and then let AWS CodePipeline orchestrate the creation of the AMI:

git add .
git commit -m "My first AMI"
git push origin master

AWS CodeBuild Implementation Details

 
While we wait for the AMI to be created, let’s see what’s changed in our AWS CodeBuild buildspec.yml file:

...
phases:
  ...
  build:
    commands:
      ...
      - ./packer build -color=false packer_cis.json | tee build.log
  post_build:
    commands:
      - egrep "${AWS_REGION}\:\sami\-" build.log | cut -d' ' -f2 > ami_id.txt
      # Packer doesn't return non-zero status; we must do that if Packer build failed
      - test -s ami_id.txt || exit 1
      - sed -i.bak "s/<<AMI-ID>>/$(cat ami_id.txt)/g" ami_builder_event.json
      - aws events put-events --entries file://ami_builder_event.json
      ...
artifacts:
  files:
    - ami_builder_event.json
    - build.log
  discard-paths: yes

In the build phase, we capture Packer output into a file named build.log. In the post_build phase, we take the following actions:

  1. Look up the AMI ID created by Packer and save its findings to a temporary file (ami_id.txt).
  2. Forcefully make AWS CodeBuild to fail if the AMI ID (ami_id.txt) is not found. This is required because Packer doesn’t fail if something goes wrong during the AMI creation process. We have to tell AWS CodeBuild to stop by informing it that an error occurred.
  3. If an AMI ID is found, we update the ami_builder_event.json file and then notify CloudWatch Events that the AMI creation process is complete.
  4. CloudWatch Events publishes a message to an SNS topic. Anyone subscribed to the topic will be notified in email that an AMI has been created.

Lastly, the new artifacts phase instructs AWS CodeBuild to upload files built during the build process (ami_builder_event.json and build.log) to the S3 bucket specified in the Outputs section of the CloudFormation template. These artifacts can then be used as an input artifact in any later stage in AWS CodePipeline.

For information about customizing the artifacts sequence of the buildspec.yml, see the Build Specification Reference for AWS CodeBuild.

CloudWatch Events Implementation Details

 
CloudWatch Events allow you to extend the AMI builder to not only send email after the AMI has been created, but to hook up any of the supported targets to react to the AMI builder event. This event publication means you can decouple from Packer actions you might take after AMI completion and plug in other actions, as you see fit.

For more information about targets in CloudWatch Events, see the CloudWatch Events API Reference.

In this case, CloudWatch Events should receive the following event, match it with a rule we created through CloudFormation, and publish a message to SNS so that you can receive an email.

Example CloudWatch custom event

[
        {
            "Source": "com.ami.builder",
            "DetailType": "AmiBuilder",
            "Detail": "{ \"AmiStatus\": \"Created\"}",
            "Resources": [ "ami-12cd5guf" ]
        }
]

Cloudwatch Events rule

{
  "detail-type": [
    "AmiBuilder"
  ],
  "source": [
    "com.ami.builder"
  ],
  "detail": {
    "AmiStatus": [
      "Created"
    ]
  }
}

Example SNS message sent in email

{
    "version": "0",
    "id": "f8bdede0-b9d7...",
    "detail-type": "AmiBuilder",
    "source": "com.ami.builder",
    "account": "<<aws_account_number>>",
    "time": "2017-04-28T17:56:40Z",
    "region": "eu-west-1",
    "resources": ["ami-112cd5guf "],
    "detail": {
        "AmiStatus": "Created"
    }
}

Packer Implementation Details

 
In addition to the build specification file, there are differences between the current version of the HashiCorp Packer template (packer_cis.json) and the one used in Part 1.

Variables

  "variables": {
    "vpc": "{{env `BUILD_VPC_ID`}}",
    "subnet": "{{env `BUILD_SUBNET_ID`}}",
         “ami_name”: “Prod-CIS-Latest-AMZN-{{isotime \”02-Jan-06 03_04_05\”}}”
  },
  • ami_name: Prefixes a name used by Packer to tag resources during the Builders sequence.
  • vpc and subnet: Environment variables defined by the CloudFormation stack parameters.

We no longer assume a default VPC is present and instead use the VPC and subnet specified in the CloudFormation parameters. CloudFormation configures the AWS CodeBuild project to use these values as environment variables. They are made available throughout the build process.

That allows for more flexibility should you need to change which VPC and subnet will be used by Packer to launch temporary resources.

Builders

  "builders": [{
    ...
    "ami_name": “{{user `ami_name`| clean_ami_name}}”,
    "tags": {
      "Name": “{{user `ami_name`}}”,
    },
    "run_tags": {
      "Name": “{{user `ami_name`}}",
    },
    "run_volume_tags": {
      "Name": “{{user `ami_name`}}",
    },
    "snapshot_tags": {
      "Name": “{{user `ami_name`}}",
    },
    ...
    "vpc_id": "{{user `vpc` }}",
    "subnet_id": "{{user `subnet` }}"
  }],

We now have new properties (*_tag) and a new function (clean_ami_name) and launch temporary resources in a VPC and subnet specified in the environment variables. AMI names can only contain a certain set of ASCII characters. If the input in project deviates from the expected characters (for example, includes whitespace or slashes), Packer’s clean_ami_name function will fix it.

For more information, see functions on the HashiCorp Packer website.

Provisioners

  "provisioners": [
    {
        "type": "shell",
        "inline": [
            "sudo pip install ansible"
        ]
    }, 
    {
        "type": "ansible-local",
        "playbook_file": "ansible/playbook.yaml",
        "role_paths": [
            "ansible/roles/common"
        ],
        "playbook_dir": "ansible",
        "galaxy_file": "ansible/requirements.yaml"
    },
    {
      "type": "shell",
      "inline": [
        "rm .ssh/authorized_keys ; sudo rm /root/.ssh/authorized_keys"
      ]
    }

We used shell provisioner to apply OS patches in Part 1. Now, we use shell to install Ansible on the target machine and ansible-local to import, install, and execute Ansible roles to make our target machine conform to our standards.

Packer uses shell to remove temporary keys before it creates an AMI from the target and temporary EC2 instance.

Ansible Implementation Details

 
Ansible provides OS patching through a custom Common role that can be easily customized for other tasks.

CIS Benchmark and Cloudwatch Logs are implemented through two Ansible third-party roles that are defined in ansible/requirements.yaml as seen in the Packer template.

The Ansible provisioner uses Ansible Galaxy to download these roles onto the target machine and execute them as instructed by ansible/playbook.yaml.

For information about how these components are organized, see the Playbook Roles and Include Statements in the Ansible documentation.

The following Ansible playbook (ansible</playbook.yaml) controls the execution order and custom properties:

---
- hosts: localhost
  connection: local
  gather_facts: true    # gather OS info that is made available for tasks/roles
  become: yes           # majority of CIS tasks require root
  vars:
    # CIS Controls whitepaper:  http://bit.ly/2mGAmUc
    # AWS CIS Whitepaper:       http://bit.ly/2m2Ovrh
    cis_level_1_exclusions:
    # 3.4.2 and 3.4.3 effectively blocks access to all ports to the machine
    ## This can break automation; ignoring it as there are stronger mechanisms than that
      - 3.4.2 
      - 3.4.3
    # CloudWatch Logs will be used instead of Rsyslog/Syslog-ng
    ## Same would be true if any other software doesn't support Rsyslog/Syslog-ng mechanisms
      - 4.2.1.4
      - 4.2.2.4
      - 4.2.2.5
    # Autofs is not installed in newer versions, let's ignore
      - 1.1.19
    # Cloudwatch Logs role configuration
    logs:
      - file: /var/log/messages
        group_name: "system_logs"
  roles:
    - common
    - anthcourtney.cis-amazon-linux
    - dharrisio.aws-cloudwatch-logs-agent

Both third-party Ansible roles can be easily configured through variables (vars). We use Ansible playbook variables to exclude CIS controls that don’t apply to our case and to instruct the CloudWatch Logs agent to stream the /var/log/messages log file to CloudWatch Logs.

If you need to add more OS or application logs, you can easily duplicate the playbook and make changes. The CloudWatch Logs agent will ship configured log messages to CloudWatch Logs.

For more information about parameters you can use to further customize third-party roles, download Ansible roles for the Cloudwatch Logs Agent and CIS Amazon Linux from the Galaxy website.

Committing Changes

 
Now that Ansible and CloudWatch Events are configured as a part of the build process, commiting any changes to the AWS CodeComit Git Repository will triger a new AMI build process that can be followed through the AWS CodePipeline console.

When the build is complete, an email will be sent to the email address you provided as a part of the CloudFormation stack deployment. The email serves as notification that an AMI has been built and is ready for use.

Summary

 
We used AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodePipeline, AWS CodeBuild, Packer, and Ansible to build a pipeline that continuously builds new, hardened CIS AMIs. We used Amazon SNS so that email addresses subscribed to a SNS topic are notified upon completion of the AMI build.

By treating our AMI creation process as code, we can iterate and track changes over time. In this way, it’s no different from a software development workflow. With that in mind, software patches, OS configuration, and logs that need to be shipped to a central location are only a git commit away.

Next Steps

 
Here are some ideas to extend this AMI builder:

  • Hook up a Lambda function in Cloudwatch Events to update EC2 Auto Scaling configuration upon completion of the AMI build.
  • Use AWS CodePipeline parallel steps to build multiple Packer images.
  • Add a commit ID as a tag for the AMI you created.
  • Create a scheduled Lambda function through Cloudwatch Events to clean up old AMIs based on timestamp (name or additional tag).
  • Implement Windows support for the AMI builder.
  • Create a cross-account or cross-region AMI build.

Cloudwatch Events allow the AMI builder to decouple AMI configuration and creation so that you can easily add your own logic using targets (AWS Lambda, Amazon SQS, Amazon SNS) to add events or recycle EC2 instances with the new AMI.

If you have questions or other feedback, feel free to leave it in the comments or contribute to the AMI Builder repo on GitHub.