Aldi supermarkets withdraw infected hard disks

The Australian media is full of reports that the local arm of German-headquartered supermarket giant Aldi has been selling removable hard drives complete with a pre-installed virus.

Aldi joins an extensive list of companies which have managed similar snafus in the past, including IBM (pre-infected USB keys, given away at a security conference, no less), Olympus (pre-infected cameras),Samsung (pre-infected phones) and Best Buy (pre-infected digital picture frames).

Oh, and Aldi (pre-infected PCs). That's right - Aldi has done this before.

Last time, back in 2007, the virus it shipped was Angelina - a boot sector virus which relies on floppy disks to spread and was largely considered extinct, but obviously wasn't. This time, I'm afraid we don't yet have a name for the virus.

Someone from SophosLabs in North Sydney is making a dash to the local Aldi to see if he can find one that hasn't been withdrawn from sale yet.

If we find out any more details, I'll update this article; if not, I'm sure he'll take the opportunity to pick up a few 24-packs of potato crisps and a couple of metric dozens of ice-cream cornets whilst he's there, so it won't be a wasted trip.

(Update: our field researcher reports that the afflicted devices have gone without a trace, or perhaps were never offered in stores. He sadly failed to return with any comestibles, but did admit to have been "eyeing the pizza oven and the meat slicing machine like in delis." SophosLabs prosciutto pizza, anyone?)

Apparently, the affected device is an external 4-in-1 hard drive, DVD, USB and card reader device. It's still being offered on-line, and at $99, it sounds like quite a useful peripheral to go with a budget netbook which doesn't have much storage or memory card slots of its own. But if you've bought one, I recommend you give it a thorough virus scan.

Or simply zap the hard drive, removing and recreating all the partitions on it. You'll lose all of the freebie software pre-installed on the hard disk, but that's actually highly desirable since the one thing you now know is that you can't trust any of it.

Aldi, one imagines, will now be shopping for a more reliable supplier of peripherals.

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The design options grow with vCenter 5

vCenter deployments are likely to change for large companies as they upgrade to vSphere 5.  Traditionally vCenter has been installed in one of two designs.  The primary decision was whether to split off the database onto a second server.  Smaller shops simply installed vCenter and MS SQL (or even MS SQL Express for the very small) on the same server.

Medium and large organisations commonly split out the database onto a separate server; their vCenter server is dedicated. As we know, larger companies like to divide out applications and databases onto their own server instances.  This is done for several reasons, not least to help scale up to heavier workloads.  So I think its fair to say, in most medium and large implementations, this is the “classic” vCenter deployment:

Now for very large deployments, some companies create a third separate server for the vCenter Update Manager (VUM).  This was particular important for anyone using the VM guest OS patching feature, as that capability could consume significant resources for a vCenter which managed lots of VMs.  However this guest OS patching was never a particularly popular feature with large enterprises, as they usually already had a working patch solution that they stuck with.  When VMware announced with the release of vSphere 4.1 that it would remove the guest OS patching feature in the next iteration, it really put the nail in the coffin.  So I’d postulate that this 2 server model is the one that the vast majority of vSphere users have at the moment.

So what’s new?

vSphere 5 comes with many more components which you now need to consider (new ones in blue):

  • vCenter itself
  • vCenter database
  • vSphere Update Manager (VUM) – note the vCenter > vSphere name change with v5 for VUM
  • VUM database
  • vSphere Web Client (* see note below)
  • ESXi Dump Collector
  • Syslog Collector
  • AutoDeploy
  • Authentication Proxy


With so many separate components, many deployment possibilities exist.  Arguably the largest of deployments can do this:

However, I think the most likely candidate for the Next Generation, is something modelled around a 3 server deployment for the larger deployments.  Companies can choose which additional components they might want and selectively install them on a Components Server. (Smaller companies can obviously consolidate services as they see fit across 1 or 2 servers)

Personally I think very large organisations with the most demanding of vSphere infrastructures are more likely to scale-out to multiple vCenter instances using Linked Mode, instead of further splitting this 3 server model.

The new Linux based vCenter Server Appliance currently has two limitations which will restrict its adoption in these larger deployments:

  • No Microsoft SQL support
  • No Linked Mode

Once these are overcome we’ll see an even more diverse mix of designs.  vSphere architects will be able to slice-and-dice with more efficiency, and scale as required in a more dynamic fashion.  For now I think we’ll see this 3 server design become de rigueur.

Note *

The Web Client has a “service” component that should be installed centrally.

The RC version of the vCenter Server and Host Management PDF states:

VMware recommends that you register a given vCenter Server system
with only one vSphere Web Client instance

Once this service is installed, it has to be registered via a browser (with Flash) on the server that it’s installed on.  It cannot be registered remotely.  I’m not sure how good I feel about having to install Adobe Flash alongside my critical vCenter components just for this registration step.

===== The design options grow with vCenter 5 originally posted by Forbes Guthrie on vReference. Subscribe to my RSS feed for all the latest updates, and follow me on Twitter for shorter ramblings. Follow @forbesguthrie

VMware Labs present its latest fling – CloudFS

CloudFS is a prototype replicated and distributed storage system for the VMware ESX platform. It allows VMs to run using local storage, without any single points of failure. CloudFS has been described in the research papers "Lithium: Virtual Machine Storage for the Cloud" at SoCC 2010 in Indianapolis, and "Scalable virtual machine storage using local disks" in the December 2010 issue of ACM SIGOPS Operating Systems Review.

The CloudFS code must be checked out under your VMware "bora" tree, and the build files patched from the file under scons/scons.diff. See the README file for further instructions. Please be aware that this is prototype software intended for a research audience, and not for ordinary users without above average systems hacking skills.

vSphere 5 Video – The vSphere Web Client

The vSphere Web Client, the Next-generation browser-based vSphere Client. A browser-based, fully-extensible, platform-independent implementation of the vSphere Client based on Adobe Flex. The vSphere 5.0 release includes both the new browser-based client and the Windows-based client available in prior releases. In this release, the browser-based client includes a subset of the functionality available in the Windows-based client, primarily related to inventory display and virtual machine deployment and configuration.

In this video I’ll show you how to log in to vCenter Server using the vSphere Web Client and manage your vSphere inventory. Before you can start to use the Web Client you first have to verify that the vCenter Server system is registered with the client. Just open a Web browser and enter the URL for the vSphere Web Client: http://server_name:8443/vsphere-client

The vSphere Web Client has improved immense comparing to the old Web Access interface and is completely rewritten in Adobe’s Flex. It’s supported on the following browsers:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 and 8
- Mozilla Firefox 3.5 and 3.6

To deploy virtual machines in the vCenter Server inventory, you can create a virtual machine or clone an existing virtual machine. It’s also possible to deploy a Virtual Machine from a Template with the vSphere Web Client. Deploying a virtual machine from a template creates a virtual machine that is a copy of the template. The new virtual machine has the virtual hardware, installed software, and other properties that are configured for the template.

USB devices attached to the client computer running the vSphere Web Client or the vSphere Client can be connected to a virtual machine and accessed within it.

What’s New in VMware vSphere 5 – Technical Whitepapers

 What's New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Storage

This paper focuses on the storage-specific features and enhancements that are available in vSphere 5.0 and provides an overview of how they optimize storage utilization, ease monitoring, and increase operational efficiency. Wherever possible, VMware will also provide use cases and requirements that might apply to these new functions.

 What's New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Performance

VMware vSphere 5.0, the best VMware solution for building cloud infrastructures, pushes further ahead in performance and scalability. vSphere 5.0 enables higher consolidation ratios with unequaled performance. It supports the build-out of private and hybrid clouds at even lower operational costs than before. This paper outlines many of these performance enhancements.

 What's New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Networking

With the release of VMware vSphere 5.0, VMware brings a number of powerful new features and enhancements to the networking capabilities of the vSphere platform. These new network capabilities enable customers to run business-critical applications with confidence and provide the flexibility to enable customers to respond to business needs more rapidly. All the networking capabilities discussed in this document are available only with the VMware vSphere Distributed Switch.

 What's New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Availability

VMware provides several features that can be leveraged to increase the availability of a virtualized environment. This paper presents these features as they apply to availability of the applications, the infrastructure, and the management platform.

 What's New in VMware vCloud Director 1.5 Technical Whitepaper

VMware vCloud Director is a software solution that enables enterprises and service providers to build clouds delivering Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), giving end users the agility they demand, and giving IT the efficiency they require. Only VMware vCloud Director offers the cloud without compromise—the ability to run an efficient cloud securely within a datacenter, and the option to bridge to an ecosystem of over 3,000 service-provider partners.

 What's New in VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.0 Technical Whitepaper

VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager is the premier tool to enable you to build, manage and execute reliable disaster recovery plans for your virtual environment. Taking full advantage of the encapsulation and isolation of virtual machines, Site Recovery Manager enables simplified automation of disaster recovery. It helps meet recovery time objectives, reduces costs traditionally associated with business continuance plans and achieves low-risk and predictable results for recovery of a virtual environment. In this paper, we will provide an overview of the new capabilities of Site Recovery Manager 5.0.

 What's New in VMware Data Recovery 2.0 Technical Whitepaper

VMware Data Recovery 2.0 is the premier tool to enable quick and simple backup, storage, and recovery of virtual machines and files within the virtual environment. With the release of version 2.0, VMware has expanded the capabilities of VMware Data Recovery in the virtual environment to attain quicker and more reliable backups with better levels of integration with VMware vCenter Server and new manageability options. This paper presents an overview of the new capabilities of VMware Data Recovery 2.0.

 VMware vSphere Storage Appliance Technical Whitepaper

In VMware vSphere 5.0, VMware is releasing a new software storage appliance to the market called the vSphere Storage Appliance. This appliance provides an alternative shared storage solution for small-to-medium business customers who might not be in a position to purchase a SAN or NAS array for their virtual infrastructure. Without shared storage configured in a vSphere environment, customers have not been able to exploit the unique features available in vSphere 5.0, such as vSphere High Availability, vSphere vMotion, and vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler. The VSA is designed to provide shared storage for everyone. This paper presents an overview of the VSA architecture, deployment of a VSA storage cluster, and basic monitoring and managing.

 What's New in VMware vSphere 5.0 Platform

VMware vSphere 5.0 introduces many improvements and new features to extend the benefits and capabilities of vSphere 4.1. These advancements build on the core capacities in vSphere to provide improved scalability; better performance; and easier provisioning, monitoring and troubleshooting. This paper focuses on the these new features and enhancements.

AT&T reportedly preps for September iPhone launch

Boy Genius Report (BGR) suggests that AT&T is prepping retail employees for a September 5th iPhone launch. [In fact, the reports referenced today say between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15, but others have said Sept. 5. We doubt Apple would release a new iPhone on a Federal holiday and have adjusted the headline and copy to reflect this. - Ed.] According to BGR's sources, supervisors are being told to wrap up training as soon as possible, so that floor staff will be available to handle the traffic in September.

Rumors of a September launch have been prevalent for several weeks now. Last month Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty suggested that production will begin in August, and Reuters claimed that the next iPhone will ship in September back in April of this year.

Of course, there's only one way for us to know for sure. Wait and see.

AT&T reportedly preps for September iPhone launch originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 25 Jul 2011 11:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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