‘Ultimate game’ excites New Zealand skipper McCullum


MELBOURNE: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said he was excited, not intimidated, at the prospect of leading his country in their first World Cup final when they face old foes Australia at the gigantic Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Australia, the top-ranked side in one-day international cricket, are bidding for a fifth World Cup title and will be considered favourites on home turf at the MCG where New Zealand last played an ODI in 2009.

But the Black Caps are the only unbeaten team in the tournament, having won eight games in a row.

One of those victories was against Australia in a low-scoring pool stage thriller in Auckland on February 28 when a Kane Williamson six off Pat Cummins helped them reach a modest target of 152 with one wicket standing.

“We are not intimidated, we are excited,” McCullum said Saturday. “This has been the greatest time of our lives. We dreamed right from the start and to reach the final is an amazing achievement.”

New Zealand crossed the semifinal hurdle for the first time in seven attempts to leave an enthralled rugby-mad nation backing their cricketers to take home cricket’s biggest global prize.

“We’ve had some tremendous support back home and also from around the world,” said McCullum. “The brand of cricket that we’ve played has really touched a lot of people and endeared ourselves to a lot of people who follow this game.

“Hopefully, if we play well we’ll be smiling at the end of the day and be able to look back on a fantastic campaign and something which would hopefully invigorate the game and New Zealand.”

McCullum said the expected full house of 90,000 at the MCG would see a keen contest between two evenly-matched teams.

“We will play well tomorrow,” he said. “It does not guarantee us anything and it does not mean that Australia won’t beat us. But we will turn up and display our skills just as we have done throughout the tournament.

“There is no challenge which is insurmountable with a lot of hard work, a lot of heart, a lot of belief and making sure that everyone’s heading in the same direction.

“We will play an aggressive brand of cricket with bat and ball. We will play with the humility which we’ve played with throughout this campaign.

“And hopefully the big fella upstairs shines on us when the pressure situations come into play.”

McCullum insisted that his team were not overawed by the prospect of playing at the famous amphitheatre, where New Zealand have won three of their last five matches against Australia.

“I guess this is the ultimate game for us,” he said. “A 100,000 people in Australia’s backyard, MCG and its history and traditions and against a very good Australian.

“I’m sure some guys will be nervous tomorrow morning. There is some excitement about us going out there tomorrow and putting our skills against the best in their backyard.

“That certainly whets the appetite and creates the greatest stage we can ask for. It is certainly going to be a special day.”

McCullum added he hoped his team could win the World Cup for 36-year-old Daniel Vettori, who is likely to end his international career after Sunday’s final even though the spinner has taken 15 wickets in the tournament.

“He is a tremendous ambassador for the game,” the captain said. “He’s given over half his life to this game and has been both an outstanding teammate and a very close friend. It will be nice to achieve the ultimate success for him.”

McCullum said he expected a keen battle against a country with whom New Zealand shared a “healthy rivalry.”

“We have seen some epic battles over the years and across codes as well, not just cricket and rugby,” he said.

“Tomorrow is no different. It’s a healthy rivalry which can continue well after our time. It’s one that we look forward to as well.”

F8 Conference: Facebook Messenger to allow third-party iOS app integration


Facebook has debuted its new Messenger Platform at the F8 Facebook Developer Conference. The feature will allow users to send content like GIFs, photos, audio clips, videos, and more from third-party apps within the Facebook Messenger for iOS.

Starting today iOS app developers will be able to build Facebook Messenger support into their apps, making them directly accessible from within the app. Facebook has already collaborated with 40 developers, so lots of apps with Messenger support are already available on Apple’s App Store, like Giphy (a GIF app), sticker apps, emoji apps, video apps, collage apps, and more. The social networking giant has also released its own apps for Messenger, such as Selfied, Stickered and Shout.

Apart from the Messenger Platform, the social network also unveiled a range of new services and tools. These include Messenger for Business, a Parse software development kit for the Internet of Things, 360-degree video support, embeddable videos, a new mobile app advertising analytics tool, and much more. CEO Mark Zukerberg also announced at the F8 Conference, that Messenger has now more than 600 million users globally.

Last week, Facebook announced the option to transfer funds between friends via Messenger. The new tools will make Messenger a one-stop shop for a broad set of functions and gives more rationale as to why Facebook made the messenger a stand-alone app in the first place, much to the chagrin, at the time, of millions of people.


Gavaskar picks Australia as favourites against India


SYDNEY: Former captain Sunil Gavaskar on Wednesday tipped Australia as favourites to win Thursday’s high-voltage ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 semifinal against India but said Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side can beat the hosts if they bat first and put up a big total.

“Australia are favourites because they have psychological advantage of having beaten India in all the matches the two sides have played in all formats in recent times. I understand that World Cup is a different ball game altogether but I still feel that Australia have got the advantage,” Gavaskar said.

“My heart says India but my mind says Australia are the favourites. If Australia bats first then India will struggle. India can win only in case they bat first and put up a big total, say 290-300,” he added.

Gavaskar played down the presence of retired leg-spin legend Shane Warne at Australian team net session at the SCG on Wednesday, saying India need not worry on that front.

“Indian team does not have a leg-spinner. Australians will not be facing a leg-spinner. R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are completely different bowlers. So, that will not be too much of an issue,” he said.

The former Indian captain said that India will have to tackle both Steven Smith and Glenn Maxwell well if they want to win the semis.

“Finch, Warner and Watson have not been in best of form. But Steven Smith has been consistent and Maxwell is the guy India will have to watch out for,” Gavaskar said.

West Indies batting legend Brian Lara differed from Gavaskar and tipped India to win the semifinal as he said the conditions at the SCG would suit Dhoni’s men.

“SCG suits Indians more than anywhere else in Australia. A batting pitch and a bit of spin, that should suit the Indians. I will put my money for India. I hope my favourite player Virat Kohli comes out and score a century,” he said.

“Indian bowlers must be aggressive and attack in-form Steven Smith. Australia lacked a specialist fifth bowler and they struggled against Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz. Indian batsmen should exploit their weakest bowler,” he added.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell also said that India can win if they put up a big total and take a couple of early wickets but still tipped his country as the slight favourites.

“It’s like 50-50. But I think Australia are the slight favourites because they have more match-winners. In a big match, the team which has more match-winners has the advantage. If two or three players fail, some from remaining can still win matches,” he said.

“But, if India bats first and post a big total and Australia lose a couple of early wickets, then India has a chance to win,” he added.

See Your Company Through the Eyes of a Hacker


JP Morgan Chase. Target. Sony. Each has been part of the growing number of cyber-attacks against private companies around the world in recent years. In the latter two cases, CEOs were forced to resign in the wake of the breach. Attacks are growing more sophisticated and more damaging, targeting what companies value the most: their customer data, their intellectual property, and their reputations.

What these attacks – together with breaches to defense, law-enforcement, and military-contractor networks – reveal is that our cyber-security efforts over the last two decades have largely failed, and fixing this will require the attention not only of security officers and IT teams, but also of boards and CEOs.

Companies need to take a new approach. They can do so by looking at themselves through the eyes of their attackers. In the military this is called turning the map around. The point is to get inside the mind of the enemy, and to see the situation as they do, in order to anticipate and prepare for what’s to come.

Unfortunately, this mindset is still too rare. Despite spending billions of dollars every year on the latest security products and hiring the best security engineers and analysts, companies are more vulnerable than they’ve ever been. Two trends account for this: the rapid convergence of enterprise IT architectures, and the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated adversaries.

Changes in enterprise IT over the past decade mean that every company is now a technology company. By the end of the decade, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet, complicating networks and generating petabytes of data. To add to that, the cloud revolution has finally dissolved perimeters – companies enjoying the benefits of infrastructure as a service must depend upon the security of networks and systems beyond their direct control.

As mobility, the Internet of Things, and the cloud change enterprises, adversaries are also becoming more sophisticated. States and state-sponsored entities spy on and attack private companies, often using military-grade tactics and capabilities. They do this within a system where offense enjoys a structural advantage over defense because attribution is difficult, deterrence is uncertain, and attackers need to succeed only once, but defenders must succeed always.

Most companies try to deal with this chaos by parsing signal from noise. They build walled castles around their most precious assets, but perimeters don’t matter when even the average college student owns seven IP-enabled devices. They rely on automated alerts to tell them when something malicious on their networks matches some previous bad event, but this approach overwhelms them with red flags while remaining blind to new and previously unknown threats.

There’s just too much noise to contend with. Security analysts, for example, may see a thousand incidents in a given day, but only have the time and resources to investigate a fraction of them. This is why hackers were able to exfiltrate over 40 million credit-card numbers from Target, despite the fact that a peripheral network device had detected the malware. It’s also the reason why Neiman Marcus was hacked after its system generated over 60-days’ worth of malware alerts. And this is why Sony was hacked after its IT team knew the company had been under attack for two years.

By turning the map around, executive teams can learn a great deal about their own companies, and better prepare for the inevitable attacks. This is how most companies look from an attacker’s perspective:

Their security is overwhelmingly focused on generic malware detection and protection against automated threats that aren’t being guided with precision.
They don’t have a full picture of what is on their networks, the cloud services they’re using, the applications running on those services, and the security postures of their supply chains and partners. Their IT and security teams are peripheral concerns, costs to be managed rather than centers of excellence that support the core business.

Overall, they are reactive, rather than proactive, in their approach to security.
Each bullet-point above is a weakness that attackers can exploit. This is why companies should learn from attackers in deciding how to defend themselves. Here’s how.

1. Understand your major risks and how adversaries aim to exploit them. If security could be calculated, then adversaries would be the numerator. Companies must understand their unique threatscapes to the greatest possible extent, and generic data are insufficient. Effective security must integrate indicators of compromise (have we been attacked?), tactics, techniques and procedures (how are we being targeted?), identity intelligence (who would target us, and why?), vulnerability intelligence (what is being exploited in the wild?), and attack attribution (is this commodity or targeted?). Only with focused threat intelligence can analysts spend their precious and valuable time investigating the most important incidents, prioritizing those associated with your most formidable adversaries and your greatest business risks. You can go crazy (and broke) trying to play Whack-A-Mole in defense against them all. Instead, identify your most essential assets and focus scarce resources only on those threats that actually pose a risk to your company.

2. Take inventory of your assets and monitor them continuously. If security could be calculated, then inventory would be the denominator. At the simplest level, companies must identify and monitor all of their interconnected assets: is a developer spinning up a thousand virtual machines without your knowledge? What applications are running on the database servers holding your most valuable information? Did an employee connect a new device to your corporate network? Does one of your distant subsidiaries have a new partner? Does your HVAC system connect somehow with your Point of Sale? Periodic assessments, reports that take weeks to prepare, and conclusions that require complex interpretation contribute to gaps in security. Companies must maintain a dynamic, real-time inventory of assets, monitor those assets continuously, and render them visually in way that is simple and intuitive for security and operations teams.

3. Make security a part of your mission. The prevailing approach to security is compliance-focused, cost-constrained, peripheral to the core business, and delegatable by C-suite leaders. Working on a team like that isn’t fun inside any enterprise, and it loses against 21st-century adversaries who know that it’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy. Any defense is only as good as the people doing the defending. The new model of security needs to be about mission and leadership, ensuring that we have the best defenders up against the best attackers. Security is no longer delegable, and the mission of security teams must be synonymous with the mission of the company.

4. Be active, not passive, in hunting adversaries on your network and removing them. The term “active defense” has been tarred as a euphemism for “hacking back,” and companies are ill-advised to go on the offensive: first, it’s illegal to access others’ networks without permission, even if you’re acting in supposed self-defense; and second, it’s just not smart to escalate unless you can dominate, and even the biggest companies will ultimately lose against state or state-sponsored adversaries. So while you cannot go attack the other team on their own turf, you can and increasingly must be active against adversaries inside your own networks. This means assuming not merely that you are under attack, but that your attacker is in, and so you must hunt for a stealthy, persistent human adversary in order to contain and remediate the risk before they can cause damage – dramatically cutting the time between breach and detection from its current average of more than 200 days.

It is easy during these days of frequent and devastating attacks to cry out that the sky is falling, and that the very future of the Internet as a trusted domain of commerce and communication is at stake. But it would be wrong to extrapolate the data points of recent years into a line leading to ruin. Too many of us have too much at stake here, and the combined forces of executives, entrepreneurs, software developers, security teams, and investors all turning the map around can equip us to defend against this next generation of adversaries.


Bullish Rohit Sharma ready to take on Australia

SYDNEY: India opener Rohit Sharma has every reason to be confident about his chances of success against Australia in the World Cup semifinal.

The 27-year-old right-hander is one of only two current Indian players to have beaten Australia in a limited-overs international at the Sydney Cricket Ground, venue for the semifinal on Thursday.

He was playing the 13th of his 134 ODI matches and batting at No. 5 when he scored 66 in a match-turning 123-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar in a six-wicket win over Australia in Sydney in March 2008. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also featured in that game, which remains India’s only win at the ground against the Australians in 14 meetings back to 1980.

“It’s been a long time, seven years. I can recall that very well,” he said. “It’s really fresh in my memory because … the great Sachin Tendulkar was batting alongside me, so there is no way I can forget that. It was a very important game.”

It set Sharma him up for prolific record against the top-ranked Australians — he averages 58.7 in 17 ODIs against the Aussies, far superior to his career average of just under 40. He has scored three centuries against the Australians, including 141 not out at Jaipur and 209 at Bangalore in the same series in 2013.

“As a batsman, over the years I’ve learned a lot of things. Certainly batting up the order has changed my game, my approach toward the game and the responsibility,” he said. “I know if I’m batting top of the order there is a huge responsibility and I have to take my team through.

“So every time I go to bat I always think about that. Doesn’t matter if I come on top or not, but at least I do that.”

In the last head-to-head against Australia, he posted 138 in a losing cause at Melbourne in January. The Indians didn’t win a competitive game in Australia for two months leading up to the World Cup, but turned it around at the World Cup, where the defending champions have won seven consecutive matches and bowled out the opposition in every game. Sharma scored a century in the quarterfinal win over Bangladesh, so is coming into form.

Sharma is a dangerous batsman, and capable of getting India away to a rapid start — something that will be needed against four-time champion Australia. And he’s prolific, having set a world record 264 from 173 balls, including 33 boundaries and nine sixes against Sri Lanka last year.

“I think records are there to be broken. I don’t wish my record to be broken. But, look, every batsman would want to hit a big score,” he said in comments translated from Hindi.

“To score 200 runs is not easy, it is a very tough job. Even when I scored 264 I was told (by people) that you should have scored 300. Not just in India, everywhere, people’s expectations are very high.”

With a pro-India crowd at the SCG, and with a spot in the final against New Zealand up for grabs, there’s no doubt he’ll be aiming to score a lot of runs, and quickly, against Australia.

The final is scheduled for Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.


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