Askaris Technical Director Sean Allison has just spent the entire weekend at Bletchley in Milton Keynes. Bletchley is now famous as the once top secret location of the World War II codebreakers of the Enigma and Lorenz encryption devices. However, Sean’s purpose down there was somewhat less glamorous. He spent the weekend along with his ...
I work with one of the most experienced and highest qualified cyber security consultants available in Askaris and RU Innovating, and just last week we were talking about the latest security breaches as well as going through, once again, my various businesses cyber security. This covers everything from Cloud hosted email through to proprietary software being developed and deployed in hostile environments. He is Sean Allison, and he helped me to write this piece to help expand my previous article.
Halloween season, so seems only apt to discuss the ‘horror’ of a data breach. Over the past 12 months, the news has seen a raft of reports relating to the issues of data breaches – not least the loss of confidential data last week by TalkTalk in the UK, the third such loss in the last 12 months for this one billion pound company alone. In a previous article I talked about the Cloud and how cloud computing was transforming the business landscape.
So, Sean, the person who has ownership for the cyber security for all my businesses, and the one who took us to the Cloud, used to work in the defence industry and has been involved in data security at the highest level. He tells me that the approach to data privacy has evolved massively over the years. Previously, data breaches were seen as incidents where a credit card receipt was found in a bin, or a government department lost a USB stick or a laptop. These are very real threats, but modern processes (such as PCI-DSS) and data protection techniques (such as encryption) help to mitigate this. However, no amount of protection can always be 100% effective. Take for instance the time when Met assistant commissioner Bob Quick emerged from his car outside No.10 clutching a secret memo about anti-terror raids, all on show to the world’s waiting TV and press! One of the most infamous cases was when a laptop was left on a train which contained details of the Gulf war. In this instance, the laptop was properly protected and the data was safe, however, what wasn’t safe was the printed information which was also in the same laptop bag. These cases illustrate the importance of common sense.
I constantly ask, “Why are we printing all this information” and yet again and again I see paper, everywhere. Indeed just this week we were consulting on a multi million pound project, and there we stacks of proposal copies for an overview meeting. We have a long way to go to be secure at my own businesses… the leak, people and how they think, of course.
In the case of TalkTalk, it appears that one of the people responsible was a 15 year old from Ireland. Although the full details of this incident are still to be published, he has probably discovered a flaw in their website which has allowed him to plant malicious code onto their web or database server. This could then give him access to their systems almost undetected, allowing him to harvest information at will. Common attack methods such as Cross-Site Scripting and SQL Injection attacks are usually exploited through insecure code, and this is where it is important to distinguish the difference between insecure systems and insecure code. For instance, Amazon may have one of the most secure cloud infrastructures in the world, but if you then use their services to publish your own code which is insecure, there is nothing Amazon can do about that.
This highlights the need for proper risk mitigation, audit and review of your IT systems. This should include:
Penetration Testing – Ensure that your perimeter is secure and not liable to compromise. This is not just about data leakage and confidentiality, it is also about availability. Imagine the fallout if Facebook was unavailable just for one hour as a result of a Denial of Service attack, oh wait, this has happened, hasn’t it? I will ask my development team to attempt to ‘hack’ in to our systems and insist on strong passwords to deny attempts. We still test though.
Application Testing – Your web applications, e-commerce systems and data storage systems should be regularly tested by an independent company specialising in this service. This is regardless of whether the systems are exposed to the Internet or used internally, as there is always an internal threat of data leakage.
Systems and process audit – Make sure internal processes are safe. One Middle-Eastern company we audited not so long ago with a turnover of literally billions of dollars stored their entire company’s administrative passwords in Excel… which was stored on a technician’s laptop… which he took home every night… unencrypted! As bizarre as that sounds, I sat at the desk of one of my most senior executives, who is also from a security background and pressed the space bar on his laptop, and there it was, open for all to see, no screen lock! I see this in movies all the time and think “no way” and yet, apparently it is common.
I also work in talent management and have to constantly remind the artists I work with to put codes on their phones, or better still biometric (thats a fingerprint scan for the latest iPhones) which are even better. Better because if someone has an eye on your phone they can see you put in a code. Entirely different proposal with a fingerprint. An awful lot of people’s phones these days have all their pictures, emails, social media all open and readily available if that phone is ‘hacked’
Hacked as well is an interesting word, most cases these days when peoples ‘Cloud’ is hacked, this simply means someone guessed their password as it was that simple. I read recently that there are still a plethora of people using date of birth or a child’s name, and even the word ‘password’ as their password. When a celebrity has their ‘cloud’ storage ‘hacked’, I find myself wondering if this simply means that someone has picked up their phone, unlocked, or used the code which they have seen tapped in.
Remember though, if you want to steal personal or commercially-sensitive information from a company, don’t bother paying a 15 year old to sit in a darkened room and hack into an organisation, it is much easier to get a job as a cleaner and go through their bins!
1. Get public transport directions. It’s about time! Now we no longer need to ask tube rats for directions to the nearest Nando’s! Civilization is finally realised. (Please note: This is only available in major cities like London, so far. But it will be expanded and the entire world will finally know happiness/when there train is delayed because someone decided to take a dump on the platform.)
2. Hide photos. You know when your mum grabs your phone out of your hand because she’s your mum and maybe you might have some ~SuPeR sExY~ pics on it? Well, now you can go to the Share menu and use the fabulous new “Hide” option. The photos are still in your Album view, but at least your dad won’t come face-to-face with your boyfriend’s crotch when sliding through photos of your new kitten.
3. Select multiple photos. Hallelujah! Praise Be! Someone cares for us, after all! Now you just go into Select in the Photos app and you can tap and drag to pick the images you want– no more individually tapping on them until your fingers want to fall off. Amen.
4. Low Power Mode will mos def save your ass multiple times. When you’re getting into the red (you know, every day around 3pm when you forget your battery pack), you can now go into the Battery menu in Settings and switch to Low Power Mode. It switches a few things off to help conserve my precious until you can get home and power up.
5. Hey Siri! This awesome feature will now work even when you’re not plugged in. Just go to Siri (under General in Settings) and turn your new best friend on. Now she can never ignore you! You + Siri 4 LYFE. (Carved into a tree/your abdomen.)
6. Selfies just got easier. Pictures taken with the front-facing camera will now automatically go into their own folder in the Photos app. Voila! An entire folder of your beautiful face, ready to share to Instagram like the sexy selfie superstar that you are. (Screenshots also get their own folder for those of us who like to capture excellent moments in YouTube dog videos.)
7. Notes is actually becoming useful. You can now add web links, photos, checklists and drawings to your notes and so it might be something you use now.
8. Screw double-tapping, it’s all about the back button! iOS 9 lets you use a back button to jump between apps quickly. This is helpful for toggling between important items — like Nando’s menu and directions to the nearest Nando’s. (JK, you have that shit memorized.)
9. Zoom in on videos! Just pinch and zoom and you can get a better look at any part of a video.
10. Write on email attachments. Not sure when this will be helpful but if you want to draw hearts around Channing Tatum’s abs on the photo of Channing Tatum’s abs that your friend just sent you, that’s an entirely noble and worthy decision. Make it so.
11. Abandon Wifi if it sucks. This is cool. If your phone is having trouble opening up a simple Safari page because the WiFi you’re using is shitty and slow, you can now go to Settings and tap on the Wi-Fi Assist toggle switch, and you can keep cruising even more pictures of Channing Tatum’s abs. Glory be.
12. It knows what you’ve been listening to. When you plug your headphones in, your phone will automatically show you what music app you last listened to Taylor Swift on (JK we know it wasn’t Spotify).
13. It’ll make sure you never miss a date. iOS 9 is now set to identify events in your email messages and automatically add them to your calendar. Apple cares about you double booking brunch and will make sure you know to plan one brunch for 10am and the other for 12pm because double brunch is the best.
When you sit down on contemplate on which way to go between Twitter and Facebook, you will sit for a long time. Both platforms are very popular and very efficient but in very different ways. Twitter and Facebook are veteran social media platforms, although Facebook was here first. Facebook is like your local club, where you meet with your friends in order to catch up at the end of the week. Twitter is a more serious setting, like when you brief your team on the project progress.
When it comes to business, you need to choose a platform that works in your favour. It all depends on the purpose of the social media platform. If you are running a fashion business, Facebook can be the best marketing tool. On the other hand, if you are running a consultancy company, Twitter can help you grow your business.
Ultimately, both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. Twitter is so fast that news reporters usually use the hashtags to follow on developing stories. Facebook is so wide, its users are double the number of Twitter users. Therefore, Twitter becomes an ideal option for business-to-business interactions. Facebook is the ideal site for business-to-consumer interactions. Below if a brief comparison between these two social media giants.
As mentioned earlier, Facebook beats Twitter hands down when it comes to size. However, Twitter has consistent newsfeeds. If you have a little budget and you want to promote your product choose Facebook. In addition, if you have huge following on your personal account, capitalise on that in your business page. If you have brief content that you want to share with your followers, choose Twitter. If you have a popular product, and people might be looking for the product, use Twitter.
As mentioned earlier, twitter moves with the speed of a lightning. The fast speed can work in favour or otherwise. Your Tweet will spread fast, but it will only stay for a short duration before another tweet displaces it on the live feeds. It is not easy to monitor the newsfeed on Facebook, but important content will receive acknowledgement through likes and community shares. If you have a lot of content to share, use the Facebook platform because you will have reasonable interaction. If you want to share unrelated information, use Twitter to spark up the conversation.
Who is the winner?
Ultimately, there is no clear winner because each platform has significant strengths and weak points. The best approach to use is to try both and see what works for you. Eventually, you will identify what works for you and what does not. Moreover, there is no harm in running both accounts. Social media platform is where loyalty rules do not apply. You can use both platforms without feeling guilty.
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Interest is expected to come mainly from broadcasters and other companies involved in testing the format.
One analyst suggested it would not become a serious proposition for members of the public until the turn of the decade.
“We’re not expecting 8K TVs targeted at consumers to be released until at least 2016, and we don’t expect they will cross one million units until after 2019,” said Abhi Mallick, from IHS Technology.
“Japan’s NHK is the only broadcaster so far to announce plans to create and broadcast 8K content.”
But he added that the relatively small size of people’s homes in Japan might mean many families would not be interested.
“Japan’s a region in which the average size of TVs sold tends to be smaller, and we think the minimum size 8K TVs would be sold at would be 65in.”
He added that for the time being, he expected manufacturers to focus their efforts on trying to convince families to buy 4K sets instead.
They provide a quarter of the resolution of 8K, but are being made in sizes of up to about 100in to create “cinema-like” experiences in the home.
8K video walls
Due to technological restraints, owners of Sharp’s LV-85001 will have to use workarounds to take advantage of its full capabilities.
Its built-in TV tuner cannot actually receive broadcasts in 8K. Instead, video has to be fed in via four separate HDMI cables, which are needed to handle the quantities of data involved.
The resulting image delivers 104 pixels per inch.
That is about a fifth of the density of modern high-end smartphone displays, but is more than enough to allow people to read relatively small-sized text or make out intricate details when stood close to the screen.
While 8K content and 8K cameras are still rare, the Japanese news site AV Watch,which was first to report Sharp’s TV, suggested the product could be used in hospitals to provide keyhole surgeons with better imagery.
Each frame would contain the same detail as a 33.2 megapixel photo.
Another expert suggested the tech might appeal to marketers.
“The attraction will be for commercial applications – video walls and things like that,” said Chris Green, a tech consultant at Davies Murphy Group.
“8K screens could offer a very interesting video alternative to today’s shop window and billboard displays – which show static advertising – because their extreme clarity means they can show lots of text and would be as readable as a poster.”
Japan v China
Japan‘s NHK streamed live 8K footage from last year’s World Cup in Brazil and intends to begin public tests of the format over satellite in 2016.
The corporation plans to show all of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games in 8K and begin regular broadcasts in super hi-vision resolution the same year.
However, IHS Technology believes it could be China that drives initial demand for the technology.
“China has had the fastest adoption of 4K televisions in the world – there is a demographic there of higher income consumers who want to buy TVs that will impress their neighbours,” said Mr Mallick.
“That’s often regardless of whether they can accept the content.
“Many of the early 4K TVs that were shipped into China lacked HDMI 2.0 ports, so they won’t be able to receive 4K content that’s since become available from set-top boxes.”
Facebook is to add a “dislike” button to its social network, founder Mark Zuckerberg has said.
In a Q+A session held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, the 31-year-old said the button would be a way for people to express empathy.
He said Facebook was “very close” to having it ready for user testing.
A “dislike” button has been constantly requested by some users since the introduction of the now-iconic “like” button in 2009.
“People have asked about the ‘dislike’ button for many years,” Mr Zuckerberg told the audience on Tuesday.
“Probably hundreds of people have asked about this, and today is a special day because today is the day that I actually get to say we are working on it, and are very close to shipping a test of it.”
However he went on to say he did not want it to be a mechanism with which people could “down vote” others’ posts.
Instead, it will be for times when clicking “like” on “sad” posts felt insensitive.
Prof Andrea Forte, an expert in social and participatory media at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said users will not suddenly turn on each other’s posts.
In an email, she wrote: “They may use a dislike button to express some negative emotions (like frustration with ads popping up in their feeds) but I doubt it will cause them to start wantonly disliking pictures of their friends’ babies, dogs, cats and cooking experiments.
“I suspect it will mainly be used to express mild disapproval, or to express solidarity when someone posts about a negative event like a death or a loss.”
Tom Bennett, the government’s expert on pupil behaviour, said teachers had been “dazzled” by school computers.
The report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development examines the impact of school technology on international test results, such as the Pisa tests, which are taken in more than 70 countries and measure digital skills.
It says education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.
“If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they’ve been very cautious about using technology in their classrooms,” said Mr Schleicher.
“Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately.”
Annual global spending on educational technology in schools has been valued at £17.5bn, by technology analysts Gartner. In the UK, the spending on technology in schools is £900m.
The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) says schools have £619m in budgets for ICT, with £95m spent on software and digital content.
But Mr Schleicher says the “impact on student performance is mixed at best”.
Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results
Students who use computers moderately at school, such as once or twice a week, have “somewhat better learning outcomes” than students who use computers rarely
The results show “no appreciable improvements” in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in information technology
High achieving school systems such as South Korea and Shanghai in China have lower levels of computer use in school
Singapore, with only a moderate use of technology in school, is top for digital skills
“One of the most disappointing findings of the report is that the socio-economic divide between students is not narrowed by technology, perhaps even amplified,” said Mr Schleicher.
He said making sure all children have a good grasp of reading and maths is a more effective way to close the gap than “access to hi-tech devices”
He warned classroom technology can be a distraction and result in pupils cutting and pasting “prefabricated” homework answers from the internet.
The study shows “there is no single country in which the internet is used frequently at school by a majority of students and where students’ performance improved”.
Among the seven countries with the highest level of internet use in school, it found three experienced “significant declines” in reading performance – Australia, New Zealand and Sweden – and three more had results that had “stagnated” – Spain, Norway and Denmark.
The countries and cities with the lowest use of the internet in school – South Korea, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan – are among the top performers in international tests.
The study did not gather a figure for the UK’s internet time in class, but the UK has among the highest levels of computers per pupil.
But Mr Schleicher says the findings of the report should not be used as an “excuse” not to use technology, but as a spur to finding a more effective approach.
He gave the example of digital textbooks which can be updated as an example of how online technology could be better than traditional methods.
Mark Chambers, chief executive of Naace, the body supporting the use of computers in schools, said it was unrealistic to think schools should reduce their use of technology.
“It is endemic in society now, at home young people will be using technology, there’s no way that we should take technology out of schools, schools should be leading not following.”
Computers in UK schools
1.3m desktop computers
730,000 tablets (expected to rise to 939,000 next year)
22% are “ineffective”
Microsoft spokesman Hugh Milward said: “The internet gives any student access to the sum of human knowledge, 3D printing brings advanced manufacturing capabilities to your desktop, and the next FTSE 100 business might just as well be built in a bedroom in Coventry as in the City.”
Head teacher John Morris also strongly rejected the idea.
“We’re preparing our children for jobs that don’t yet exist,” said Mr Morris, head of Ardleigh Green junior school in the London Borough of Havering.
“We’re training them to use technology which hasn’t yet been invented. So how can you possibly divorce technology from industry or from teaching and learning?
“When people say too much money is being spent on technology in school, my response is ‘Nonsense’. What we need is more money, more investment.”
The government’s behaviour expert Tom Bennett said there might have been unrealistic expectations, but the “adoption of technology in the classroom can’t be turned back”.
England’s schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We want all schools to consider the needs of their pupils to determine how technology can complement the foundations of good teaching and a rigorous curriculum, so that every pupil is able to achieve their potential.”
The clinical work involved the placement of electrode arrays onto the paralyzed volunteer’s sensory cortex—the brain region responsible for identifying tactile sensations such as pressure. In addition, the team placed arrays on the volunteer’s motor cortex, the part of the brain that directs body movements.
Wires were run from the arrays on the motor cortex to a mechanical hand developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) at Johns Hopkins University. That gave the volunteer—whose identity is being withheld to protect his privacy—the capacity to control the hand’s movements with his thoughts, a feat previously accomplished under the DARPA program by another person with similar injuries.
Then, breaking new neurotechnological ground, the researchers went on to provide the volunteer a sense of touch. The APL hand contains sophisticated torque sensors that can detect when pressure is being applied to any of its fingers, and can convert those physical “sensations” into electrical signals. The team used wires to route those signals to the arrays on the volunteer’s brain.
In the very first set of tests, in which researchers gently touched each of the prosthetic hand’s fingers while the volunteer was blindfolded, he was able to report with nearly 100 percent accuracy which mechanical finger was being touched. The feeling, he reported, was as if his own hand were being touched.
“At one point, instead of pressing one finger, the team decided to press two without telling him,” said Justin Sanchez, who oversees the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program. “He responded in jest asking whether somebody was trying to play a trick on him. That is when we knew that the feelings he was perceiving through the robotic hand were near-natural.”
Google has made its mobile payments system, Android Pay, available at more than one million locations in the United States.
The tap-to-pay system will compete with Apple Pay in the burgeoning mobile payments market.
The market is estimated to be worth $1tn (£650bn) in 2017.
Technology companies are trying to convince shoppers to use their handsets, rather than plastic cards, to pay for purchases.
Android Pay can be used with smartphones that have near-field communication (NFC) capability and Google’s KitKat 4.4+ operating system.
It will allow users to store their credit card details on their phones, as well as loyalty cards and other data.
Existing users of the Google Wallet app can access Android Pay through an update, while new users can download it from the Google Play app store in the coming days.
Retailers including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Subway are among the first to participate in Android Pay, with more to come.
It will be extended to mobile checkouts in some apps later this year.
The Google system will support credit and debit cards from providers including MasterCard, Visa and American Express, as well as banks including Bank of America, with Citigroup and Wells Fargo to follow.
Rather than passing users’ credit card details to a retailer, both the Google and Apple systems generate a “token” so the actual data is not revealed during a transaction, reducing the risk of data theft.
Last month, Samsung launched its own mobile wallet service, called Samsung Pay, in South Korea.
It will be available in the US from 28 September, with countries including the UK, Spain and China to follow.
Google is yet to reveal when Android Pay will be available outside the US.