Cybersecurity concerns grow, a conversational AI platform raises $26M and a visa ban hits Silicon Valley

06/25/2020 - Jin Woo

Published every Thursday, The Blue Print recaps the industry’s most intriguing news, unexpected shifts and developing trends that are defining the business and technology landscape. 

Here’s the news that caught our attention this week:

Axios: Why Trump’s visa ban makes Silicon Valley fume

As loud as the fight has been between the Trump administration and Big Tech over charges the industry censors conservatives, the White House’s move to extend a ban on skilled-worker visas used widely by tech companies hits Silicon Valley closer to home. The big picture: In a global tech economy where China and other countries threaten to surpass the U.S. in fields like artificial intelligence, 5G networking and automation, American CEOs treasure what they see as Silicon Valley’s brain-and-innovation edge, and fear Trump’s order will undermine that advantage

Why It Matters: The Trump Administration’s ban on H-1B visas uses COVID-19 as a vehicle for spurring jobs for American workers. The reality is many Silicon Valley companies were started and built by minorities, immigrants and a global talent pool. This move is predicted to help foreign competitors to challenge the technology leadership in the United States. 

Tags: Donald Trump, Silicon Valley, COVID-19, H-1B, Visa, immigration

SD Times: Increasing Jakarta EE adoption indicates growing interest in cloud-native Java

Java developers are increasingly becoming interested in cloud-native Java, according to the findings of a new study from the Eclipse Foundation. The study also showed that there has been significant adoption of Jakarta EE 8. The 2020 Jakarta EE Developer Survey is based on responses from thousands of Java developers. There was a 19% increase in participation from 2019.

Why It Matters: Last month Java turned 25 years old and remains one of the most widely used programming languages. While Java was built for monolithic applications, it’s popularity continues to gain momentum in cloud-native environments. 

Tags: Java, Jakarta EE, Eclipse Foundation

TechCrunch: Rasa raises $26M led by A16Z for its open source conversational AI platform

Rasa, which has developed an open source-based platform for developers to build chatbots, voice apps and other services that employ conversational AI for interactivity, is today announcing that it has raised $26 million, a Series B round that it will use to continue investing in its technology, hiring more talent, and expanding its business, which has been on a growth tear.

Why It Matters: As more organizations look to streamline repeatable processes, AI and chatbots are becoming increasingly popular. Many large organizations have developed their own or integrate with platforms such as Alexa. By some estimates chatbots is expected to become a $10 billion market over the next five years. 

Tags: Rasa, AI, A16Z, Andreessen Horowitz, Accel, 468 Capital, Basis Set Ventures, and Mango Capital, Martin Casado

SiliconAngle: Microsoft acquires industrial cybersecurity startup CyberX for $165M

Microsoft Corp. has acquired industrial cybersecurity startup CyberX Inc. for an undisclosed sum. Various reports today suggest that the acquisition price was $165 million, following initial reports of the deal in May. Founded in 2013, CyberX offers an industrial cybersecurity platform built by former military cybersecurity experts with nation-state expertise defending critical infrastructure. The company’s platform focuses on continuously reducing industrial control systems risk and preventing costly production outages, safety failures and environmental incidents.

Why It Matters: As the rollout of 5G continues there is the promise of unprecedented opportunity to deliver engaging experiences to consumers, faster analytics with AI/ML technologies and providing exponentially more bandwidth and speed to edge locations. While the combination of sensors and IoT devices with 5G creates opportunities in most industries including healthcare, logistics, utilities, manufacturing, oil & gas, it also increases the attack surface.  

Tags: Microsoft, CyberX, IoT

Forbes: Warning: ‘Invisible God’ Hacker Sold Access To More Than 135 Companies In Just Three Years

Major antivirus companies, banks, insurance providers, government agencies, large hotels, wineries, restaurants, airlines. Think of almost any kind of company and there’s a good chance a prolific, financially-motivated hacker known as Fxmsp has broken into it, or attempted to, according to a report released Tuesday.

Why It Matters: Simply by scanning for open Remote Desktop Protocol ports, a hacker referred to as Fxmsp was able to gain access to some of the largest government and business networks. The hacker used the dark web to sell access to these networks and teamed up with other cybercriminals. But the simple mistake of including his name in a domain registration led to his identity. He’s now either dormant or increasing the sophistication of his attacks to go undetected. 

Tags: Fxmsp, RDP, Fortune 500, invisible god of networks, Group-IB

Dark Reading: Black Hat Survey: Breach Concerns Hit Record Levels Due to COVID-19

Thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, security professionals are more concerned than ever about potential breaches, according to a survey released by Black Hat this week. Respondents – 273 top security professionals – registered record levels of concern about near-term compromises of their own IT environments, as well as US critical infrastructure. Ninety-four percent said they believe the COVID-19 crisis increases the cyberthreat to enterprise systems and data, according to the “2020 Black Hat Attendee Survey.” Twenty-four percent said the increased threat is critical and imminent. Vulnerabilities in enterprise remote access systems that support home workers were the chief concern (57%). Increased phishing and social engineering threats also ranked highly (51%).

Why It Matters: With most employees working remotely, using personal devices and more cloud-based applications that leave IT and security teams struggling to get comprehensive visibility and security preparedness as the attack surface continues to expand. Meanwhile bad actor collaboration continues to increase and social engineering are growing in sophistication that requires organizations to rethink security and risk management with new approaches. 

Tags: Black Hat, data breach, COVID-19