Category Archives: Big Data

Embedded Sensors and the Wearable Personal Cloud

Embedded Sensors and the Wearable Personal Cloud

The Wearable Personal Cloud

Wearable tech is one avenue of technology that’s encouraging cloud connections and getting us all onto interconnected networks, and with the continued miniaturization and advancement of computing the types of wearable tech are always expanding and providing us with new opportunities. A few years ago, smartwatches were rather clunky devices with their computing power quite obviously on display, but today the sleek devices that adorn our wrists offer as much style as tech capability. How long until the stylish eyewear sported offers more than protection from UV rays, and the clothes we’re donning provide insights into our physical condition?

Wearable Tech & The Cloud

Much of wearable tech’s advantage is in the data it’s able to collect, store, and ultimately send out for analysis. The cloud plays an integral role in wearable tech, not least of all the management of the data. Moreover, with advances in connection methods, battery life, and cloud infrastructures the insights we’re able to take from all of this collected data are enhanced, just as the time to realization is shortened. In fact, much of the intelligence wearable devices feed back can now be achieved in real time thereby strengthening the advantages. Without the cloud, wearables may be relegated to the awkward corner, requiring far more user interaction and administration than most are willing to give, but as the cloud makes wearable communication a smooth, sleek, and autonomous procedure, so too does is provide the added profit of connection to social media networks for even more personal and insightful gains.

Wearable Tech & Mobile Computing

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According to researchers and infographic discovered via the University of Alabama at Birmingham, wearable tech could be heading in the direction of a ‘wearable personal cloud.’ With the latest in embedded sensors advancing smart clothing, nodes would be able to communicate effectively with smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets, and UAB researchers suggest that small computers, perhaps ten cheap and petite Raspberry Pis, embedded within a smart jacket would mean mobile devices could do away with complex and powerful processes as, instead, they become “dumb terminal devices” connected to the smart jacket mainframe. Says Ragib Hasan, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer and information sciences in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, “Once you have turned everything else into a ‘dumb device,’ the wearable cloud becomes the smart one. The application paradigm becomes much more simple and brings everything together. Instead of individual solutions, now you have everything as a composite solution.”

The wearable personal cloud proposed by Hasan and his colleague, Rasib Khan, is a step ahead of smart clothing in that the system model can be extended to items outside of the clothing set. It’s proposed that these devices could be linked together into a shared cloud which would provide invaluable information in emergency and disaster situations. Suggests Hasan, “With seven to ten people wearing such a cloud together, they create what we call a hypercloud, a much more powerful engine. The jacket can also act as a micro or picocell tower. All of its capabilities can be shared on a private network with other devices via WiFi or Bluetooth. If a first responder is out in the field and doesn’t have complete information to act on a mission, but someone else does, it can be shared and updated through the cloud in real time.” Additional benefits of this wearable personal cloud come into play with monitoring and maintaining patient health status in hospitals, and furthermore, personal data could be retained within the wearable jacket, thus providing better data security and privacy.

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Today, the idea of a wearable personal cloud is drawing attention, but with such rapid progress it’s hard to imagine what the next few years will bring. Some experts believe wearables will in fact morph into ‘implantables’ in the not too distant future, and it’s possible that much of the work put into today’s wearable tech will be supplanted with the future’s implantable tech. For now, most of us are more comfortable being able to take off our smart devices as we choose, and innovators still have a way to go before the general public agrees to build technology into themselves.

By Jennifer Klostermann

SWIFT Says Bank Hacks Set To Increase

SWIFT Says Bank Hacks Set To Increase

Bank Hacks Set To Increase

SWIFT, whose messaging network is used by banks to send payment instructions worth trillions of dollars each day, said three clients were hacked over the summer and cyber attacks on banks are set to increase.

The theft of $81 million in February from Bangladesh’s central bank using SWIFT messages rocked faith in the system whose messages had, until then, been accepted at face value.

SWIFT Chief Executive Gottfried Leibbrandt told the Sibos conference in Geneva on Monday that hackers breached the systems of two banks over the summer and a third bank repelled an attack before fraudulent SWIFT messages could be sent.

In the two cases where hackers sent payment instructions over SWIFT, the orders were not fulfilled. In the first, the receiving bank noticed that the instruction did not conform with normal transaction patterns and queried it.

In the second case, the payment was held up because the receiving bank had concerns about the ultimate beneficiary of the transfer and flagged the transaction to the paying bank, which then realized it had been hacked.

In the third case, the bank had installed a software patch from SWIFT which allowed the lender’s system to spot the infiltration.

In all of those cases no money was lost,” Leibbrandt said.

Read Full Article: Reuters

The Future of Cybersecurity and Authentication Methods

The Future of Cybersecurity and Authentication Methods

The Future of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has been on the minds of companies everywhere since the Dropbox and Yahoo hacks occurred. With the advent of cloud connected technology and the growing sophistication of malware and hacking attempts, it seems many common cybersecurity methods have become outdated.

So what could be in the future of companies seeking to improve their cybersecurity methods? We asked Stephen Gates, the Chief Intelligence Analyst with NSFOCUS, what his thoughts were on the situation.

stephen-gatesGates immediately told us that all companies need to start employing multi-factor authentication as a mandatory part of their information systems. He referenced a quote from the Cybersecurity National Action Plan: “The President is calling on Americans to move beyond just the password to leverage multiple factors of authentication when logging-in to online accounts. Private companies, non-profits, and the Federal Government are working together to help more Americans stay safe online through a new public awareness campaign that focuses on broad adoption of multi-factor authentication.” However, Gates also noted that there currently is no regulation being enforced in how companies handle their cybersecurity, and that public awareness efforts can only go so far in solving the issue.

The biggest threat to IT executives today is prevalence of employees using work machines for personal business purposes. Employees that have their personal accounts hacked increase the likelihood of successful phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks hitting company networks. Because of this, parts of the U.S. government banned employee access to certain online email services earlier this year. Perhaps other organizations would be well advised to follow suit in the wake of the recent security breaches.

While organizations who store millions of user account credentials for online services are getting better at protecting their data, many still could be falling short. Two-factor authentication should be implemented everywhere, on user accounts as well as administrator accounts. If two-factor authentication is not widely adopted, it will not solve the problem at large.

One of Gate’s suggestions for increasing cybersecurity effectiveness is preventing employees from using company machines and networks for personal business. While he agreed that this can be seen as a potential problem with younger and younger workforces – policing their usage leading to animosity, distrust, and attrition – he proposed a solution that allows companies to protect their machines and networks from personal usage without upsetting the younger generations: “create an environment whereby personal interaction with the Internet can be done at work, without using corporate devices and the corporate network.” He explained that setting up a separate network with different machines specifically labeled for personal usage by employees could help keep both companies and their employees happy and safe.

Alternative Authentication

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I had heard a rumor about security experts discussing a possible future in using alternative forms of authentication instead of a password. I asked Gates about what this could mean. “Fingerprints, retinas, facial features, and even DNA are all very unique to each individual,” Gates explained to me. “In addition, researchers have recently discovered that each human’s hair proteins are also very unique. These are the types of things that must be used to authenticate someone; not passwords, tokens, and two-factor codes.

There are some new developments in attempting to implement a better method of authentication across the board. For example, many laptops today come with fingerprint scanners. Smartphones are now using applications that can identify facial features for authentication using the cameras they come with. Physical security may include retinal scans and even hand scanners. These are things people can’t lose, can’t forget, and most likely can’t be stolen. Personally, I think facial feature authentication is a great step in the right direction. It’s not too overly intrusive and most people would not be afraid of it – like a retinal scan.”

While facial recognition is still in its early infancy, the industry will soon become more proficient in identifying possible biomarkers on someone’s face that are difficult to spoof. The cameras on smartphones nowadays are just as good if not better than many of the stand-alone cameras on the market, so the next step would be to install higher quality cameras on computers that can adjust themselves automatically for different environmental conditions like lighting, makeup, hair, and aging. While other forms of authentication like retinal scanning may seem intrusive, no one seems to mind taking pictures of themselves. However, for now current two-factor authentication methods would still need to be implemented as a form of backup in case facial recognition fails.

So, it would seem that biometrics are possibly in the not-too-distant future as the new standard of authentication, with facial recognition being the most likely method to be implemented due to society already being pre-conditioned for taking selfies. In the meantime, companies need to make sure that their employees are using two-factor authentication on their company owned user accounts. Companies would also benefit from separating machines and networks intended for business related usage from machines and networks used for personal business purposes to help isolate attacks.

By Jonquil McDaniel

Around The Cloud – Top Tech News For The Week

Around The Cloud – Top Tech News For The Week

Top Tech News

Cybersecurity seems to be the buzzword of this past week’s news, starting with Yahoo dropping the public relations bomb that over 500 million user accounts were compromised in 2014 by what they are calling a “state-sponsored actor.” Names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords, and security questions and answers were among the credentials Yahoo listed as having been stolen. Yahoo also claims that unprotected passwords, payment card data, and bank account information were not among the records that were stolen, since they were not stored on the hacked system. You can read more about this security breach at Business Insider.

Data Breach Comic

Another hot topic of this week has been the investigation into the world of biometric skimmers by Kaspersky Labs. Much like credit card skimmers, biometric skimmers are designed to steal (and use) biometric information. ATMs are a particular target for these, as banks have started attempting to secure their ATM machines better by requiring user biometric information as part of their bank account log-in procedure. “The problem with biometrics is that unlike passwords or pin codes, which can be easily modified in the event of compromise, it is impossible to change your fingerprint or iris image,” Kaspersky Lab security expert Olga Kochetova commented in a statement announcing the results of their investigation. “Thus, if your data is compromised once, it won’t be safe to use that authentication method again.”

On a more positive note, Google announced the release of their new messaging app called Allo in a recent blog post. According to Google, Allo is a new “smart” messenger that makes it easier to make plans, find information, and express yourself. Part of Allo’s “smart” features is learning from the way you chat, then suggesting possible answers that you can tap on to use. This is very similar to the quick reply function in Google’s Inbox app, and appears to be taking advantage of DeepMind technology to do so. Allo is also serving as a preview platform for Google’s next generation of voice activated personal assistant software called Assistant, which also appears to take advantage of their DeepMind technology to create a voice activated system that you can have realistic conversations with.

On the flipside, Edward Snowden warns the public that they should not be using the Allo messenger if they are concerned about privacy, after Google changed a decision regarding the storage of Allo messages on their servers. Google had originally announced that they were not going to store Allo messages or any user identifiable information on their servers. However, they took this statement back by announcing that Allo’s unencrypted messages would be stored on Google servers after all. Snowden warns that this is probably so that the government can have access to user’s chats and information.

By Jonquil McDaniel

Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

Cloud Email Migration

In today’s litigious society, preserving your company’s data is a must if you (and your legal team) want to avoid hefty fines for data spoliation.

But what about when you move to the cloud?

Of course, you’ve probably thought of this already. You’ll have a migration strategy in place and you’ll carefully select migration vendors to help you get there. All that remains is following the plan, right?

CloudTweaks Comic

Everything going well, your valuable data will be migrated without a hitch and will be at your fingertips just in case legal or compliance issues arise.

But what if it doesn’t? What if, when you go to pull-up company records, your data is corrupted or not there at all?

That’s when the headache starts. Your legal team starts knocking on your door, compliance officers look to point their fingers at one of your team, and you face a hefty fine for data spoliation.

Oops.

As much as I’d like to say I’m painting a dystopian picture that has very little foothold in reality… that’s just not the case.

Just ask UBS Warburg, West and Phillip Morris.

Now, I’m not an expert on all things data migration, but I do know a thing or two about the backbone of corporate communications: email.

Seemingly innocuous, email is the kind of thing many don’t tend to think much about. You send, receive, agonize over and trash thousands of emails a year. But it’s just email right? How difficult can it be to migrate it to a new cloud service?

The truth is, it’s pretty darn difficult.

Sure, there are lots of email migration vendors out there, waving their hands in the air and jumping up and down saying: “Pick me! Pick me!” (full disclosure: I work for Fookes Software and our product Aid4Mail is right there jumping and waving with the best of them). But how many of them can you really trust?

The fact is, converting email accurately is incredibly complex and we’ve seen very few vendors actually do it well.

Here are just some of the issues we’ve seen come up with poorly converted emails, all of which could result in data spoliation sanctions:

  • Entire folders of emails skipped because of a few special characters in the folder name
  • Unable to render special characters or character based languages (like Chinese, Arabic and Hebrew)
  • Lost attachments
  • Alteration of the SMTP header, this means:
    • Loss of original sent, received and stored dates
    • Loss of email addresses
    • Loss of status information (read, unread etc)
  • Emails being skipped as they’re too large

We even have an example for you:

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And here’s another one:

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So to put this into context, let’s say you produce consumer electronics. You’ve just launched a flagship device after a few years of planning and development. Everyone’s thrilled!

BUT there’s an issue with the battery. It overheats and catches fire in certain circumstances.

A few of your customers’ houses burnt down, a couple of cars caught on fire and around 20 people suffered from burns.

One of the burn victims has leaked some inside information, and now they want to sue you for negligence. The plaintiff is saying you knew about the battery issue and chose not to do anything about so as not to jeopardize the launch.

You’re not worried, you can prove that no one knew anything about it. So, you go back into your archives to pull up all the relevant communication between the project team and your Chinese battery supplier.

That’s when you see that all the emails between the China-based purchasing manager and the battery supplier are all question marks and blank spaces.

The sent date is showing as after the received date and all the emails look like they’re unread.

This, my friends, is data spoliation. Sure it’s not your fault, but you’ll still get sanctioned.

So, what’s the moral of this cautionary tale? Test, test and test again before you choose ANY migration application to move your email to the cloud.

Taking the time now to thoroughly test the application in all scenarios before you commit will pay off in the long run.

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katie-cullen-montgomerieBy Katie Cullen Montgomerie

Katie is the marketing and communications manager for Fookes Software, the developers of email migration software Aid4Mail.

Higher Education Institutions Increasing Cloud Use In Next 5 Years

Higher Education Institutions Increasing Cloud Use In Next 5 Years

Cloud Computing Advancing Edtech

In a new research study by ResearchMoz it’s predicted that the global cloud computing market in higher education will grow steadily at a CAGR of 24.57% over the period 2016 to 2020. Making use of computing resources connected by either public or private networks provides the benefits of scalable infrastructure, greater resource and application access, and IT flexibility, solutions quickly adopted by the private sector and now moving more rapidly into government and educational institutions. And in another study by MeriTalk, it’s apparent that 81% of higher education institutions surveyed would be increasing cloud use in the next five years, with overall cloud usage across federal, state, local, and higher education nearly doubling from 35% to 60%.

The Cloud and Education

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The promise of access to enterprise applications and online software from any device and at any time is motivating in any industry, taking the fuss out of installations, maintenance, and upgrading. In a classroom, filled with tomorrow’s tech workforce and, let’s face it, often today’s most savvy tech users, the advantages of cloud computing are undeniable. Not only does a well-designed and carefully implemented cloud computing infrastructure provide teachers and students with the latest and most appropriate tech tools available, but it also helps equalize educational possibilities across schools of all sizes. Cloud computing means that smaller institutions with limited budgets still have access to the most recent innovations, and makes it easier for sizeable organizations to keep their large networks and services current.

Top Drivers for Moving to Cloud

Some of the most obvious drivers moving educational institutions to the cloud are, unsurprisingly, very similar to those driving everyone else to cloud adoption. Better management of budgets, upgrading, application migration and software patching takes the sting out of cost and time requirements to ensure an organization remains progressive. Cloud adoption also requires less CapEx investment and makes it possible for students to use their own devices both on premises and at home for a broader reach and improved engagement. Finally, a driver much lauded once realised is the promise and profit of collaboration which cloud allows for. Student collaboration via cloud computing is a more streamlined and dynamic process not only encouraging teamwork and better technology usage but providing students with a sense of the direction many businesses are taking today.

Why Moving to Cloud Makes Sense

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The obvious benefits of cost and flexibility aren’t the only reason why moving to the cloud makes sense for educational institutions; the growing importance of cloud in all businesses means that keeping up with the world requires immersing one’s organisation in the cloud, and what better place to start than the establishments training the next generation? The cloud is changing the dynamics of IT in many organisations as the need for specific IT departments shifts, and it’s possible instead to implement user-centric computing that requires less specialised IT aptitude while broadening the possible utilizations and functions available to both teachers and students. The cloud means it’s possible for educational programs to be structured to suit individual organisations, and even individual students, for a more immersive and tailored experience.

What to Know Before You Go Cloud

Cloud migration is already happening swiftly, but as with anything, there are a few important considerations. Security is a serious concern that increases with every advance of technology, and ensuring that networks and databases are properly fortified is an obvious requisite. Furthermore, data privacy needs to be considered, as implementing open networks for the benefit of student education can also introduce vulnerabilities. Policies and regulations will need to be explored and implemented to appropriately safeguard institutions rolling out cloud strategies, covering everything from authorised access to rules regarding the use of personal devices. And although the cloud often means systems need less IT skills than those employing only in-house applications, there will always be a necessary level of tech proficiency as well as the need to be familiar with the latest advances in technology. These challenges notwithstanding, it’s time for education to embrace the cloud and immerse itself in the possibilities and innovations on offer.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Big Data and AI Hold Greatest Promise For Healthcare Technologies

Big Data and AI Hold Greatest Promise For Healthcare Technologies

Digital Healthcare Executives and Investors Addressed Opportunities and Challenges Facing the Industry

New York City – September 21, 2016  According to a survey of 122 founders, executives and investors in health-tech companies released today by Silicon Valley Bank, big data and artificial intelligence will have the greatest impact on the industry in the year ahead. Healthcare delivery and healthcare IT also promise the most growth in 2017.

Big data has been integral to our work at Celmatix. It has empowered physicians to be able to counsel women about their chances of having a baby, based on their relevant personal metrics, and not just their age,” said Dr. Piraye Yurttas Beim, Chief Executive Officer at Celmatix. “It’s an exciting time to be in a field where the pace of innovation continues to increase as both physicians and patients realize the potential of big data and personalized medicine.

The Silicon Valley Bank survey was conducted at the company’s HealthTech NYC event on September 8, 2016. The day-long event brought together more than 200 founders and executives from healthtech companies including Aledade, babylon Health, Celmatix, PokitDok, Quartet Health and ZocDoc, as well as healthcare and technology investors from firms including  Andreessen Horowitz, New Enterprise Associates and Venrock. Featured speakers included Karen M. Ignagni, President and CEO, EmblemHealth; Tom Rodgers, SVP and Managing Director, McKesson Ventures; and Steve Allan, Head of SVB Analytics, who presented the latest SVB research report on digital health called, Consumer Digital Health: How Market Shift is Leading to New Opportunities.

Findings from the survey highlight the biggest opportunities and threats for healthcare-related technology companies in the coming year:

  • Biggest ChallengeAlthough the industry is at the forefront of innovation, consumer, patient and client adoption remains the biggest industry challenge (37 percent) followed by regulation (34 percent).
  • Greatest Impact on Investments Thirty-four percent of survey respondents say the success of existing technologies gaining traction will have the greatest impact on investment in the sector next year. Despite uncertainty, the upcoming US Presidential election was seen as least influential factor impacting investment in the industry (7 percent).
  • Most Promising Technology – Survey respondents say big data (46 percent) and artificial intelligence (35 percent) are the technical innovations that will have the greatest impact on healthtech in 2017.
  • Biggest Growth Sector – Healthcare delivery/IT is cited as most likely to experience growth in the coming year (45 percent), ahead of more consumer-focused products including mobile health apps (8 percent) and wearables (7 percent).
  • Best Funding SourceThe majority of respondents (61 percent) believe venture capital will provide the greatest funding opportunities for healthtech companies in the coming year.

The complete survey results are available below.

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About Silicon Valley Bank 

For more than 30 years, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) has helped innovative companies and their investors move bold ideas forward, fast. SVB provides targeted financial services and expertise through its offices in innovation centers around the world. With commercial, international and private banking services, SVB helps address the unique needs of innovators. Learn more at svb.com.

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