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PIONEER INVESTMENTS DEPLOYS FORESCOUT COUNTERACT AS PART OF ITS INTEGRATED INTELLIGENCE AND CONTROL ARCHITECTURE

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PIONEER INVESTMENTS DEPLOYS FORESCOUT COUNTERACT AS PART OF ITS INTEGRATED INTELLIGENCE AND CONTROL ARCHITECTURE

ForeScout Technologies, Inc., the leading provider of pervasive network security solutions for Global 2000 enterprises and government organisations, has announced that Pioneer Investments has successfully deployed ForeScout CounterACT™. The solution offers Pioneer agentless capabilities to achieve network visibility across endpoints, obtain real-time intelligence and apply policy-based controls to proactively address threats and mitigate problems with little to no impact on the business. Pioneer Investments is a global investment management firm with more than 2,000 employees and a presence in 27 countries worldwide.

“We were up and running with ForeScout CounterACT in only a couple of weeks at our main site and began pulling down fantastic intelligence almost immediately,” said Ken Pfeil, chief information security officer (CISO) at Pioneer Investments. “That alone was worth the cost of the solution, as our team was much better informed and ultimately able to make more effective decisions.”

Pioneer chose ForeScout to fortify measures to support compliance, improve operational oversight and reduce security risks. The firm wanted a security platform that could provide visibility, granular control and more flexible implementation capabilities for its wired and wireless networks – ultimately to serve as a control integration and endpoint remediation solution. In addition to its main CounterACT deployment, Pioneer is leveraging the ForeScout ControlFabric™ technology to enhance control interoperability and use its resources more effectively. For example, the company is integrating CounterACT with its existing security solutions such as Bromium, an advanced threat detection (ATD) platform. The integration helps ensure that systems are running the Bromium vSentry host-based software and that indications of compromise (IOC) properties discovered by Bromium could be applied to ForeScout CounterACT policies in order to identify and act upon threats on those systems not able to run Bromium vSentry.

PIONEER INVESTMENTS DEPLOYS FORESCOUT COUNTERACT AS PART OF ITS INTEGRATED INTELLIGENCE AND CONTROL ARCHITECTURE 3“ForeScout’s ControlFabric architecture is the heart and the brains of our intelligence network. In essence, it allows us to use CounterACT as a cornerstone technology, bringing together disparate security solutions and significantly improving our ability to manage our security infrastructure,” said Pfeil. “From an interoperability perspective, just the fact that we are able to see certain events from our other security devices that we normally wouldn’t have noticed within the native environment is significant – we now see these events applied to a particular policy, or we see a specific condition, either at the network or at the client level, that we hadn’t seen before.”

Key benefits Pioneer realised by deploying CounterACT include:
• Automation, Time and Cost Savings – The ease of management, and high level of support offered by ForeScout saves the IT department at Pioneer significant man-hours in maintaining the solution.
• Continuous Monitoring and Mitigation – CounterACT’s real-time visibility and policy-based mitigation capabilities help Pioneer identify and address issues in near real-time.
• Integrated Intelligence and Control – With ForeScout’s ControlFabric architecture, Pioneer is able to integrate its existing security solutions with CounterACT, allowing Pioneer to take a more active and holistic approach to network security. This ensures the IT team does not have to micromanage multiple disparate security solutions.

When asked to explain Pioneer’s CounterACT installation in more detail, to help other companies who are interested in deploying the solution, Pfeil commented, “In the first couple of weeks we had it rolled out globally. With ForeScout, we did not have to take a piecemeal deployment because it was not inline, had agentless options, and worked with our wired and wireless implementation. At first, we set up standard policies in monitor-only mode and were doing logging and informational analysis. We weren’t doing any blocking on policy at that point, but we were using it to inform us. Literally, we were up in a couple of weeks at our main site and got fantastic intelligence. That alone was worth the cost [of the solution] as our team was better informed to make decisions.”

Pfeil continued, “The product allows our team to see an issue and take action on demand or within the policy. We then stepped up policy enforcement and endpoint remediation such as port blocking, updates and things of that nature. About 10 months ago we began working on broader integration with all of our security products and it’s going very, very well. I’m quite happy with the policies and the compliance that we’ve been able to achieve and we’ve got an even better roadmap going forward with the integrations for other systems like Bromium.”

Relevant Links
SANS WhatWorks Whitepaper – Pioneer Investments
ForeScout CounterACT
ForeScout ControlFabric
ForeScout Blog
ForeScout Facebook
ForeScout Twitter

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UK might need negative rates if recovery disappoints – BoE’s Vlieghe

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UK might need negative rates if recovery disappoints - BoE's Vlieghe 4

By David Milliken and William Schomberg

LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England might need to cut interest rates below zero later this year or in 2022 if a recovery in the economy disappoints, especially if there is persistent unemployment, policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said on Friday.

Vlieghe said he thought the likeliest scenario was that the economy would recover strongly as forecast by the central bank earlier this month, meaning a further loosening of monetary policy would not be needed.

Data published on Friday suggested the economy had stabilised after a new COVID-19 lockdown hit retailers last month, while businesses and consumers are hopeful a fast vaccination campaign will spur a recovery.

Vlieghe said in a speech published by the BoE that there was a risk of lasting job market weakness hurting wages and prices.

“In such a scenario, I judge more monetary stimulus would be appropriate, and I would favour a negative Bank Rate as the tool to implement the stimulus,” he said.

“The time to implement it would be whenever the data, or the balance of risks around it, suggest that the recovery is falling short of fully eliminating economic slack, which might be later this year or into next year,” he added.

Vlieghe’s comments are similar to those of fellow policymaker Michael Saunders, who said on Thursday negative rates could be the BoE’s best tool in future.

Earlier this month the BoE gave British financial institutions six months to get ready for the possible introduction of negative interest rates, though it stressed that no decision had been taken on whether to implement them.

Investors saw the move as reducing the likelihood of the BoE following other central banks and adopting negative rates.

Some senior BoE policymakers, such as Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden, believe that adding to the central bank’s 875 billion pounds ($1.22 trillion) of government bond purchases remains the best way of boosting the economy if needed.

Vlieghe underscored the scale of the hit to Britain’s economy and said it was clear the country was not experiencing a V-shaped recovery, adding it was more like “something between a swoosh-shaped recovery and a W-shaped recovery.”

“I want to emphasise how far we still have to travel in this recovery,” he said, adding that it was “highly uncertain” how much of the pent-up savings amassed by households during the lockdowns would be spent.

By contrast, last week the BoE’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, likened the economy to a “coiled spring.”

Vlieghe also warned against raising interest rates if the economy appeared to be outperforming expectations.

“It is perfectly possible that we have a short period of pent up demand, after which demand eases back again,” he said.

Higher interest rates were unlikely to be appropriate until 2023 or 2024, he said.

($1 = 0.7146 pounds)

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)

 

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UK economy shows signs of stabilisation after new lockdown hit

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UK economy shows signs of stabilisation after new lockdown hit 5

By William Schomberg and David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy has stabilised after a new COVID-19 lockdown last month hit retailers, and business and consumers are hopeful the vaccination campaign will spur a recovery, data showed on Friday.

The IHS Markit/CIPS flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, a survey of businesses, suggested the economy was barely shrinking in the first half of February as companies adjusted to the latest restrictions.

A separate survey of households showed consumers at their most confident since the pandemic began.

Britain’s economy had its biggest slump in 300 years in 2020, when it contracted by 10%, and will shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, the Bank of England predicts.

The central bank expects a strong subsequent recovery because of the COVID-19 vaccination programme – though policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said in a speech on Friday that the BoE could need to cut interest rates below zero later this year if unemployment stayed high.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due on Monday to announce the next steps in England’s lockdown but has said any easing of restrictions will be gradual.

Official data for January underscored the impact of the latest lockdown on retailers.

Retail sales volumes slumped by 8.2% from December, a much bigger fall than the 2.5% decrease forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and the second largest on record.

“The only good thing about the current lockdown is that it’s no way near as bad for the economy as the first one,” Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said.

The smaller fall in retail sales than last April’s 18% plunge reflected growth in online shopping.

BORROWING SURGE SLOWED IN JANUARY

There was some better news for finance minister Rishi Sunak as he prepares to announce Britain’s next annual budget on March 3.

Though public sector borrowing of 8.8 billion pounds ($12.3 billion) was the first January deficit in a decade, it was much less than the 24.5 billion pounds forecast in a Reuters poll.

That took borrowing since the start of the financial year in April to 270.6 billion pounds, reflecting a surge in spending and tax cuts ordered by Sunak.

The figure does not count losses on government-backed loans which could add 30 billion pounds to the shortfall this year, but the deficit is likely to be smaller than official forecasts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said.

Sunak is expected to extend a costly wage subsidy programme, at least for the hardest-hit sectors, but he said the time for a reckoning would come.

“It’s right that once our economy begins to recover, we should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable footing and I’ll always be honest with the British people about how we will do this,” he said.

Some economists expect higher taxes sooner rather than later.

“Big tax rises eventually will have to be announced, with 2022 likely to be the worst year, so that they will be far from voters’ minds by the time of the next general election in May 2024,” Samuel Tombs, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.

Public debt rose to 2.115 trillion pounds, or 97.9% of gross domestic product – a percentage not seen since the early 1960s.

The PMI survey and a separate measure of manufacturing from the Confederation of British Industry, showing factory orders suffering the smallest hit in a year, gave Sunak some cause for optimism.

IHS Markit’s chief business economist, Chris Williamson, said the improvement in business expectations suggested the economy was “poised for recovery.”

However the PMI survey showed factory output in February grew at its slowest rate in nine months. Many firms reported extra costs and disruption to supply chains from new post-Brexit barriers to trade with the European Union since Jan. 1.

Vlieghe warned against over-interpreting any early signs of growth. “It is perfectly possible that we have a short period of pent up demand, after which demand eases back again,” he said.

“We are experiencing something between a swoosh-shaped recovery and a W-shaped recovery. We are clearly not experiencing a V-shaped recovery.”

($1 = 0.7160 pounds)

(Editing by Angus MacSwan and Timothy Heritage)

 

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output

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Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output 6

By Devika Krishna Kumar

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a second day on Friday, retreating further from recent highs as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.

Brent crude futures were down 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $63.60 a barrel by 11:06 a.m. (1606 GMT) U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 60 cents, or 1%, to $59.92.

This week, both benchmarks had climbed to the highest in more than a year.

“Price pullback thus far appears corrective and is slight within the context of this month’s major upside price acceleration,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.

Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, analysts estimated.

Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.

Companies were expected to prepare for production restarts on Friday as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.

“While much of the selling relates to a gradual resumption of power in the Gulf coast region ahead of a significant temperature warmup, the magnitude of this week’s loss of supply may require further discounting given much uncertainty regarding the extent and possible duration of lost output,” Ritterbusch said.

Oil fell despite a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the big freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]

The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Still, analysts did not expect near-term reversal of sanctions on Iran that were imposed by the previous U.S. administration.

“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon.

(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Jason Neely, David Goodman and David Gregorio)

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