Episode 19 – Intel Hardware and Software Enabled Security and the Security First Pledge

Connection
Connection

Episode 19 is a continuation of the TechSperience Cyber Security Series as we have a candid discussion with Marc Sadinsky, Partner Manager for Intel.  Discussions focus on Intel’s VPro chip set and how it can be used to protect end user devices. What is the Intel Security first pledge and what does it mean to the end user? 

New technologies and integration of security capabilities – learn where Intel heading and learn what you may or may not know about Intel Vpro Chipset and why it’s such a critical component of endpoint security.

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This is a transcript of the TechSperience podcast – Episode 19

James Hilliard:

Hey there everyone. Welcome back to our Connection TechSperience podcast. We have a full house today. We’ll get to introducing everybody in a moment, but let me give you the thesis, big idea here. One, we’re continuing our cybersecurity month series and our focus is about Intel vPro and how it really can be utilized to protect end user devices. So lots of voices you’re going to be hearing from today.

In a moment, you’ll be hearing from Marc Sadinsky, he is with Intel. We also have our security teams, Steve Nardone, Bill Virtue and Rob Di Gerolamo on board. And three of us sharing questioning duty today, myself, James Hilliard, executive podcast and webcast producer and host, Penny Conway, podcast host and Senior Program Manager for Workplace Transformation. And we’re bringing into the mix, Rob McIntosh, our Senior Marketing Programs Managers. So all right. Lots of folks to get to. A lot of things we want to get to and Penny, I’m going to kick things over to you to kick things off.

Penny Conway:

So Marc, before we kinda get in and have you introduce yourself, the thing I noticed most importantly about this is that if everyone just takes a second and looks down on their computer, they’re likely is a little sticker that says vPro along with the Intel telling us core IFI, i7, whatever it might be. So why don’t you give a little bit of an introduction about yourself and why you’re here today and what Intel’s got coming with security around vPro.

Marc Sadinsky:

Fantastic. Marc Sadinsky. I’m with Intel. I’m the partner manager of supporting all of Connection. From an Intel perspective, we have what’s called a security first pledge. So everything that we’re doing, everything that we’re building starts and ends with security. You know, at the hardware level, you know, we feel that, you know, hardware layer, you know, is really what we can touch. You know, hardware based security helps increase, you know, the areas of protection and around identity and threat. So, you know, that’s what we’re doing. We continue to bring new technologies, we continue to integrate mitigations and security capabilities directly into the Intel technology while working with the entire ecosystem to make sure, you know, we’re bringing solutions to market to address cybersecurity and help our customers.

James Hilliard:

All right, team James jumping on in here and- and, Bill, we just heard from Marc, right? Intel’s thoughts around security, hardware-based, security, etcetera. From your perspective here at Connection, your thoughts on where Intel is headed in terms of security.

Bill Virtue:

Given the threats that we have today on the endpoint, a lot of people are implementing software to protect that endpoint and having something like, Intel based on the hardware for protection is not only cutting edge but it’s something that the- a lot of customers don’t think about when they- when they have any kind of an endpoint in place and it has that hardware Intel chip set in it. There’s actually some inherent protection that they don’t even realize.

James Hilliard:

Okay. Fantastic. Steve, what are your thoughts?

Steve Nardone:

So, you know, we talked quite a bit about the current state of cyber threat and cyber risk. And one things we typically talk about is having technology that’s available that, basically, can be easily integrated into the overall cyber security stack. And one of the beauties of having something like Intel in their- their chip set security, if you purchase a system that’s got the Intel chip set, it’s readily available to you to be able to leverage and to utilize.

So it’s essentially, you know, you have to configure it but you don’t have to think about it, right? It’s already there and it- it builds in at the endpoint, as Bill indicated, right? Critical component of- of cyber security protection. It gives you the ability to be able to build on that layer into that endpoint security. And, you know, we work very closely with Marc and Intel on a regular basis and, you know, are- are big fans of the- of the vPro chip set.

James Hilliard:

Fantastic. Rob?

Rob Di Gerolamo:

Yeah. Kinda to echo what- what Bill and Steve Nardone: have already covered. But I think it’s- it’s really easy for us in the industry to think about security attacks coming over a network, right? So how do I protect my network? How do I protect my assets that way? But, you know, sometimes it’s overlooked at the- at the hardware level. So, you know, do I have crypto mining going on in my environment? How do I know that aside from opening a network traffic? Well, something like the Intel chips can discover that and alert and- and notify. So that’s pretty powerful, right? You get all these different layers. Now you’re looking at the network. Now you can also get something on the hardware level that is huge and very beneficial.

James Hilliard:

Hey Rob, I see you over there. You’re itching to get in here. So what’s your question?

Rob McIntosh:

So I’m the end user here. I’m- I’m that guy that doesn’t know what’s under the hood or what I should be looking at. But I- I- I… Marc, I’m gonna ask you what are, you know, what are some of the things I should be asking as an end user? What are some of the things that should be a real concern to me? And what are some of those issues that- that Intel answers, you know, for me that, that I may not even have known about? So all this stuff that’s happening behind the scenes, can you kinda like, go into detail on that?

Marc Sadinsky:

Sure, Rob. So first of all, from, you know, as everyone said, you look at end points and you need to secure the edge. You need to secure the device. And Intel’s a foundational technology, you know, in the majority of devices. So what we’re bringing to market is we continue to integrate security capabilities. We build right into the vPro stack, as an example. So, we’re integrating capabilities where working with Steve’s team, you know, as they talk with customers, do security assessments.

You know, Intel has the ability to directly, you know, work with identity and threat protection, as an example. So how we could help customers advantage of technologies that they already have that, you know, they don’t need additional hardware. But as Stevesaid before, yeah, you have to, you know, turn on some of these capabilities. You have to understand how Intel and Microsoft, for example, are innovating and collaborating together.

So how BitLocker, as an example, you know, gets stored and hardened on the Intel, you know, system within the Intel hardware. So that’s hardware and software working together. So, Rob, what you need to do is you need to think about, you know, your edge device. How do you protect it? How do you personalize it? And by personalizing, I mean, you know, multifactor authentication. So how you can… Whether it’s biometrics using your fingerprint, your secure pin, Bluetooth proximity. Everyone has a phone. But that’s a way for you as an individual to personalize your device. And Steveand team, you know, can help ensure that companies meet their security policies while each individual user, you know, gets that personalization but multifactor in order to get into the system and make it more secure.

James Hilliard:

So- so does all this start at- at sort of the install level, you know, when you’re- when you’re first purchasing your equipment and- and you’re setting things up? Is that… Is it all factory done? Is it all customized? I- I mean, how does all that work together?

Steve Nardone:

So you have to customize the solution, right? And- and the question is, you know, are you purchasing it based upon its capability or is it there for you to leverage? You know, we… One of the things that we love as we’re talking to customers about various security risk is we f- when we find out they’ve purchased something and they have available capability but they’re not aware that they have it, right? So we can help them turn it on, right? Whether or not it’s- it’s a, you know, a firewall that may be a unified threat management firewall where they’re not turning on all the features or whether or not it’s an endpoint where they don’t recognize they have this chip set on there. They bought the system. It’s available, but they’re not leveraging the capability.

James Hilliard:

You know, I- I find that more and more when- when you buy a lot of this technology that you don’t realize all of the different assets that it has.

Steve Nardone:

Sure.

James Hilliard:

You know, and then you go, oh man. I- I just got this, you know, this attack on me. Well, do have this thing turned on? Do I have what turned on? And then all of a sudden somebody dives in and says, “Look, you- you gotta go into your settings here and make sure that this thing is all, you know, working for you.” And, and I- I think that’s where a lot of people fall down. And again, I think that’s where, you know, this team, it- it kinda shines is at the- those beginning stages, you know, really not just setting things up but educating, you know, the- the end user on- on, on how that stuff works. I think that’s really important for our customers. And is- is that part of that whole assessment process?

Steve Nardone:

Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, the question is whether or not a customer has built a- a good solid purpose built, right? Infrastructure, paying attention to cybersecurity risk across the whole legal system or whether or not they have the skills to do that. And there are companies out there that have that capability. We all know there’s a huge shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the industry, right? So we know that the- a lot of the companies that are out there are challenged because they can’t get skilled trained, qualified people to come in and support cyber security in their environment. And that’s one of the reasons why we see a lot of systems that are not leveraging all the capability they buy to do one thing and they don’t recognize that it can do many things and they just haven’t turned it on. But as part of our assessment process, we do uncover that. Bill, I don’t know if you want to talk a little bit about how the SLO allows that to happen.

Bill Virtue:

Sure. As we go through the security landscape optimization assessment, we, one of the first categories that we touch on is endpoint. And a lot of times, customers are just more focused on the fancy new widget that they bought in software and getting that in place and getting installed. But… And when we work through that, the 38 data points that we collect, we find that the, a lot of times they’ll just take the default settings, you know, out of the box. Whatever works out of the box and now I’m protected.

And it isn’t until we do, looking at the analysis of the assessment and start making recommendations on how they can mitigate risk when we get into the actual tuning of the environment. So we can tweak and tune and the hardware piece, we get into the bios and configure that, we get into the software and reconfigure that. A lot of customers have good technology in place, but they just take it out of the box and- and plug it in and turn it on and say, “Okay, I’m protected, I’m safe.” And that’s not really the way it works.

James Hilliard:

Is- is that part of the health check or is that-

Bill Virtue:

As the security landscape optimization, the SLO.

James Hilliard:

Got it.

Marc Sadinsky:

So, Bill, thinking about the tuning and enabling features, how often do you see in these assessments where customers are buying different technology with duplicate capabilities? And we’re identifying that to let them know?

Bill Virtue:

Yeah, all the time.

James Hilliard:

Yeah.

Bill Virtue:

There’s a l- there’s a lot of- there’s a lot of crossover in technologies and- and a lot of times that conflicts sometimes. So we… That’s the- that’s the stuff that we like to uncover and understand what it is they have in- in their environment. How is it configured and what’s talking to what and why?

Steve Nardone:

You know, so with the endpoint area, right? As Bill mentioned, one of the first areas we cover with the SLO, one of the things that we do is we’re talking to a customer and they’re struggling with authentication, right? They don’t… They- they believe that they don’t have the appropriate level of tight security control in that area. First question we can ask them is are you running the Intel V or chip set, right? If they’re running that chip set, we can ask him, are you configuring it or utilizing it and any way to leverage any of the tighter security controls and features that provides you to include the ability, again, as Marc mentioned earlier, to manage multifactor, right?

Whether it’s certificates or some other form of- of second factor. And many times, they have it and they don’t recognize and they don’t know how to turn it on and, right? And that’s something that we can jump in a week and help them with, try and, you know, try and resolve. And again, that’s… It’s pretty common in a lot of the work we’re doing with our customers, you know, especially in a small and medium business space where, again, they don’t have the highly qualified cybersecurity professionals that really sort of drill in, you know, and- and, and really figure out how stuff works. I mean, think about, and I’m one of these people that I have a, you know, very powerful, smart phone, right? And I use it to do the functions that I need to do on a regular basis. And it does that really well. I don’t spend a lot of time figuring out what I could do on the phone that I’m currently not doing, right? And so it’s sort of human nature, right?

James Hilliard:

All right, some good stuff there Rob, Steve,and Bill. Do- do appreciate that. Marc wanted to come back to the table and you- you teased earlier. I want to flesh this out now a bit more. Intel’s security first pledge. Give us those details.

Marc Sadinsky:

Okay, so Intel has what we’re calling a security first pledge. We continue to work with the ecosystem. So on a quarterly basis, we’re providing updates to any vulnerabilities that have been identified in the market. Whether we’re working with, you know, folks like Google or others to identify, you know, side channel vulnerabilities in market opportunities for that backdoor access to a system. The good news is I- Intel continues to identify with the industry possible entry points. We lock it down, we update firmware, we update drivers.

So, that’s our security first pledge that we’re going to constantly work with the ecosystem and then we work with the OEMs to bro- to provide firmware and driver updates that we push out. And then Steveand team, you know, we provide them with the updates so then we could reach out to customers and make sure that the latest patches, the latest updates have been, you know, enhanced within their environment.

James Hilliard:

And Mark, before we got ready to record this podcast, you had told me that you had a few questions for our security team. So I figured now’s a good point. You can dive into a couple of those.

Marc Sadinsky:

Sure. A question I’d have for the team, when you think about vPro. vPro brings a lot of different capabilities to market and including management, including integrated security. And we like to look at it that a managed system is a more secure system. So within the security landscape optimization and you’re talking about pushing patches, you’re talking about, you know, the edge, the devices. Do you get into a discussion with the customer how they’re managing those devices, how are they providing updates, you know, across their environment. ‘Cause if they have 50 devices, 100 devices, you know, how do you reach them efficiently and effectively?

Rob Di Gerolamo:

Well, we make recommendations when we- when we uncover a risk. So if we do uncover risk on the endpoint, we do make some recommendations based on whatever risks that we find. But a lot of times, like I say, they don’t get into the details of how to configure protection on the endpoint so that it remediates that risk. They take it out of the box, they plug it in, they turn it on, they might make some few settings, but there’s a lot more behind that that they just don’t even get into. So when we do uncover that and it is a risk that they have, we make those recommendations. And a lot of times, they’ll want to take it a step further. So that’s when they engage us on the services side and say, “Hey, I don’t know how to do that.” To Steve’s point, they lacked that knowledge. So can you come in and help me configure this so that that endpoint is more protected? So.

Steve Nardone:

And we do focus on a couple of things that are really important. And I think, you know, universally we- we subscribe to the philosophy that patch management is- is one of the most important things you can do in any type of an environment to provide a good information security program or risk management program. And we do cover that. So if customers are not patching their systems, we’re going to identify that as a risk and we’re gonna explain to them what they can do in order to be able to make sure that they’re covering that, right? What are the attackers doing?

We had a conversation the other day and somebody said something about, I don’t like calling, you know, attackers lazy. In reality, what they’re doing is they’re looking for the most efficient way to attack an environment. And if there are patches that are missing and systems and they have access to them, that’s the low hanging fruit, right?

James Hilliard:

Sure.

Steve Nardone:

There are already scripts that exist for them to be able to actively attack and- and leverage and take advantage of those systems that may have weaknesses. So definitely a core component of that. And on the managed side, we definitely expressed to our customers how important it is to do 24 by seven by 365 monitoring and management over your environment. And there is a component in the security landscape optimization as well where we cover managed security services. You know, some of the other key components that are really critical are testing frequently, right?

Steve Nardone:

And doing… So doing ethical hacking outside and inside is something w- is a core component that we’re paying attention to. And that can, of course, identify weaknesses and endpoints or any systems, right? And maybe help identify areas where the Intel chips that can help them strengthen, you know, vulnerabilities that are found in systems. We cover incident response very significantly as well because, you know, as we always say, it’s… You have to prepare for the when you are going to be breached. So be prepared and how you’re gonna respond when that happens. And we cover things like business continuity and disaster recovery, which all play into this whole, you know, model, right? Am I patching? Am I prepared? How do I respond? You know, and all of that. So, you know, all those are pretty key components that are part of the process.

Rob Di Gerolamo:

I think on the service side, Steve, it’s- it’s, they sometimes get more involved in the configuration of server protection. They seem to be more concerned about their servers and they do, you know, the laptops and the endpoints that they’re deploying at the user level, the user levels are usually more automated when they update them and they patch them. And if it works, it works. But at the service side, it’s more manual so they seem to be more concerned.

Steve Nardone:

Yeah. We see that quite frequently.

James Hilliard:

Part of that is probably control. I can control the server-

Rob Di Gerolamo:

Yeah.

James Hilliard:

… endpoints are kind of out in the wild, right?

Rob Di Gerolamo:

That’s right.

James Hilliard:

Their- their…

Rob Di Gerolamo:

Some people just consider endpoints lost and they do their best to manage them and control them, but servers, you know, our clients really have a good control of and…

Marc Sadinsky:

Yeah. An Intel security first pledge goes from the edge of the data center.

James Hilliard:

Yeah.

Marc Sadinsky:

So we’re… we want to make sure not only are we securing those endpoints, but we’re also securing the server infrastructure and bringing those technologies. And you’re right, you know, folks will think about, you know, what not only is Intel, but the OEM vendors are bringing to market. We’re integrating things such as the TPM right into the, you know, chip set we’re building in mitigations and that address vulnerabilities right into the technology. So, we continue to evolve and advance and it’s going from the edge to the data center.

Bill Virtue:

Marc, in one of the things I think it would be useful for the listeners, if we could, the version of vPro and what they should be looking for if they are running an Intel chip set. How do they- how do they identify whether or not they have the latest technology?

Marc Sadinsky:

Okay. Fantastic. So, clearly, the latest technologies on the new systems. So that’s easy, right? If they’re buying eighth gen, you know, that’s gonna have the latest version. vPro’s been around for over 12 years and we have software tools that work with existing management consoles where, in essence, connection through your security landscape optimization, you could activate that software tool and basically do an inventory of their environment. And through that inventory, we could help identify what versions of vPro are out there.

So, there’s a lot of value there ’cause customers, you know, for years and years had been buying it. Maybe they’ve activated newer devices but haven’t activated the older devices. So, you know, we look at it, it’s hardware software working together, but we have tools to help identify what’s in the inventory and it can help a seller at Connection understand that, hey, just through this assessment tool, you know, there’s a lot of old stuff out there. So that’s an opportunity as part of the security recommendation, you know, bring in new devices. Let’s manage those devices. Let’s be able to enhance and augment the way patches get pushed.

Steve Nardone:

Yeah, that’s a really good point about the devices that may not be consistently configured across the ecosystem, right? So systems that- that may not be configured and others that might. And- and, ultimately, what we advise all our customers on is that uniform approach across the entire ecosystem. You want every system to be protected at the same level. You want every system to have the capability to detect and react and give you the capability to react and respond to events. And so, leveraging that consistent, you know, control and process and policy across all of your systems, across the entire ecosystem is really very important.

James Hilliard:

I want to do one more thing here ’cause we went from- from Marc to the- the crew. I’d like our- our team here. ‘Cause we have a powerhouse. I mean Intel, obviously, is a- is a powerhouse in- in the industry. We’d love to know since you’ve got Marc here and what you might want to ask that the audience would be interested in of Marc as far as what’s going on in Intel. Maybe some of the new things that are coming out or, you know, stuff you might have run into that’s like, hey, this is an issue. Intel, can you help us here?

Steve Nardone:

Well, so, you know, my thought would be, obviously, you know, as you mentioned Rob, getting a good insight into where Intel is going next, right? We probably, you know, obviously can’t get into details on proprietary information, but is there anything you can share, Marc, that is sort of like, the next big thing that Intel?

Rob McIntosh:

Oh no. Get into the proprietary stuff.

Steve Nardone:

(laughs)

Marc Sadinsky:

(laughs)

Rob McIntosh:

I want to break it.

Marc Sadinsky:

Fantastic. As I get handcuffed and walked down.

Rob McIntosh:

(laughs)

James Hilliard:

(laughs)

Steve Nardone:

(laughs) Exactly. You first.

Rob McIntosh:

His experience gets ratings.

James Hilliard:

We’d come visit you, Marc.

Marc Sadinsky:

Thank you very much. It’s- it’s always good to have friends. Yeah, I think from an Intel standpoint, you know, what we keep doing is adding capabilities within the technology, whether it’s compute, so in the CPU, but we have a full platform of offerings. So storage and memory, we continue to bring new technologies there. Networking, new capabilities there. And, once again, security first is the pledge.

And the value to, you know, all the listeners is understanding how Intel, you know, not only we’re gonna bring the technology, but we’re working with the ecosystem. So we’ll work with Microsoft. We’ll discuss what security capabilities they’re bringing, what Intel is bringing in, how they could work together, and then connection through the landscape optimization can help a customer understand what’s value to them. You know, how do they take advantage of those key technologies? Because we could all provide a laundry list and that list goes on and on.

You know, there’s not that much value in just telling, “Hey, Mr. Customer, look at this long list.” Let’s understand what that customer needs. You know, back to a managed device is a more secure device. How do we simplify that process? And yes, there’s a level of effort to turn some of those capabilities on, but the typical customer is gonna have some type of management console already. We all know they have edge devices so they have notebook desktop. So, you know, how can we all work together to take advantage of existing capability and talk about how the new technologies can augment what they already have and how we could all benefit.

James Hilliard:

Marc, we have covered a lot of ground here. Wanna give you a moment or two to touch on kinda the last couple of items that you really wants to take away from our chat. And then, folks, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna turn things back to Penny. We got a couple of questions. They may or may not tie directly to security, but we’ll- we’ll come back to that shortly.

Marc Sadinsky:

I think at a base level, when I look at what Connection is selling, the majority of the devices that are going to customers, those new devices have vPro technology. Steveand I keep talking about what a great opportunity when new devices go to market. It’s an opportunity for an SLO. You know, let’s talk to that customer about security. We could certainly talk to Intel security first pledge, but more importantly, let’s work together on that assessment and we’re endpoints fit within the overall security landscape and then tie it back to the data center.

Steve Nardone:

I would agree a lot of missed opportunity by not, you know, emphasizing the capabilities that are purpose built into these systems. And, you know, one things we’d love to see from a security practice perspective is listeners that are hearing this that don’t know whether or not they’re running it or whether or not it’s configured appropriately, reach out to Connection. We’d love to have a conversation and get engaged with you.

James Hilliard:

And, Steve, to that end, I’m- I’m gonna follow up in just a moment here. We’ll give some follow up information to our audience. But first, wanna hand it back to Penny. I mentioned she’s got some questions, Marc, for you. We wanted to use these as kind of a way to wrap up this chat. So, Penny, take it away.

Penny Conway:

So, Marc, we’re gonna kinda pivot from the security Intel security conversation and ask you three questions about just some random topics. Get your feedback a little bit. So, if you weren’t in your Intel role, which you love so much today, what would you be doing for a job?

Marc Sadinsky:

I think I’d be a professional golfer.

Penny Conway:

Oh. (laughs)

Marc Sadinsky:

Now that I’m good enough. But, you know, if I wasn’t working for Intel-

Penny Conway:

There’s a dreamworld.

Marc Sadinsky:

You know, that technology world, right? What’s, you know, how could I take advantage of just having fun. So yeah, play golf.

Rob Di Gerolamo:

So, you’d go from chip sets to chip shots.

Penny Conway:

Oh, that’s a good one.

James Hilliard:

Direct. Very slick. I like that.

Penny Conway:

(laughs)

Marc Sadinsky:

That’s good. There’s too many chunks of those chip shots though today.

Rob Di Gerolamo:

(laughs)

Marc Sadinsky:

So that’s why I’m not quitting my day job. But, you know, Penny, to your question, that’s what I’d like to do. You know, I was… Reality is I’d still stay in technology.

Penny Conway:

(laughs) And for your personal use, what’s your favorite app?

Marc Sadinsky:

We were talking about it earlier. I love Ways ’cause Ways gets me to where I need to be. It’s simple.

Penny Conway:

And what’s your least favorite app? The one you find yourself always using that you wish you didn’t have to use?

Marc Sadinsky:

That’s a great question, Penny. Hmm. Well, from an app, I guess my least favorite would be something like a Salesforce.

Penny Conway:

(laughs)

Marc Sadinsky:

Yeah, yeah. There’s- there’s- there’s so much inspection that goes with that tool, right? You know, you- you start to get wary about what you’re putting in ’cause then people are gonna start asking you questions.

Penny Conway:

(laughs)

Marc Sadinsky:

So- so that’s my least favorite. But it’s also a necessary evil.

Penny Conway:

I love it. And that’s a… It’s a good way for us to learn a bit more about you. So a professional golfer who loves to use Ways and wishes he didn’t have to use Salesforce as much as he does.

Marc Sadinsky:

(laughs)

Penny Conway:

(laughs)

Marc Sadinsky:

Yeah. So please don’t send this to my boss.

Penny Conway:

(laughs)

James Hilliard:

(laughs) Steaming live. Streaming live.

Penny Conway:

I think we- I think we all have that work application that we love and hate at the same time. I can go find as much as I want but, at the same time, it’s not my favorite thing to use.

James Hilliard:

All right, team. Well, hey, good chat, good insights and a good place to wrap things up, folks. I promised some ways to contact the team. Really, first and foremost, talk to your account managers or your BDMs. If you already have a relationship, right? Something in place. If you don’t, we do welcome you to contact us. Best places. Point your browser to connection.com you can find contact information as well as more information on Intel products as we’ve been discussing and talking about here, say, in terms of vPro.

On behalf of Marc from Intel and Rob and Rob and Bill and Steve and myself and Penny and everyone here at Connection, I want to thank you for listening to this episode of TechSperience and we do look forward to talking to you down the road.

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