Category Archives: Cloud Computing

What Technology Can Displace The Password?

What Technology Can Displace The Password?

The Future Password

Many people shout that the password is dead or should be killed dead. The password could be killed, however, only when there is an alternative to the password. Let us think about what technology can displace the password.

Some people might say that multi-factor authentications or ID federations will do it. It is not easy, however, to conceive that the password can be displaced by multi-factor schemes for which one of the factors is a password or ID federations which require a reliable password as the master-password.

Some might say “Not using any password altogether is the way to kill the password dead”. Yes, I have to admit, the password could then be killed dead entirely, but it would be criminals rather than us that will be the beneficiaries of such password-free cyber space. In a world where we live without remembered passwords, i.e., where our identity is established without our volitional participation, we would be able to have a safe sleep only when we are alone in a firmly locked room. It would be a Utopia for criminals and a Dystopia for most of us.

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(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Some might say “PIN can”. This observation would, however, only lead us to the entrance to Alice’s Wonderland. If a PIN that is a weak form of numbers-only password could displace the password, a puppy should be able to displace the dog, a kitten the cat, a cub the lion.

Many are saying “Biometrics can”. This observation would lead us to another entrance to Alice’s Wonderland. Biometric solutions used in cyber space need a password (fallback password) registered in case of false rejection. If “something” which has to rely on“the other thing” could displace “the other thing”, your foot should be able to displace your leg for walking. Alice’s Wonderland might receive it, but I have huge difficulties in imagining what it could look like in this 4D Space-Time universe.

There are a lot of people who take it for granted that the password can be displaced by the biometrics operated in cyberspace together with a fallback password. How could such a misconception happen?

Blind Spot in Our Mind

Let us imagine that we are watching two models of smart phones – Model A with Pincode and Model B with Pincode and Fingerprint Scan. Which of the two models do you think is securer?

  • when you hear that Model A is protected by Pincode while Model B is protected by both Pincode and Fingerprints
  • when you hear that Model A can be unlocked by Pincode while Model B can be unlocked by both

Pincode and Fingerprints

  •  when you hear that Model A can be attacked only by Pincode while Model B can be attacked by both Pincode and Fingerprints

Is your observation the same for all the 3 situations?

Eye-Opening Experience

Now let us imagine that there are two houses – (1) with one entrance and (2) with two entrances placed in parallel. Which house is safer against burglars? Every one of us will agree that the answer is plainly (1). Nobody would dare to allege that (2) is safer because it is protected by two entrances. Similarly, the login by a Pincode/password alone is securer than the login by a biometric sensor backed up by a fallback Pincode/password.

Debates over Backdoor between Apple vs FBI

It appears that something crucial is overlooked in the heated debates about the backdoor on smartphones, which is the focus point of the recent events with Apple and the FBI that have drawn a lot of attention worldwide.

data-security

I would like to point out that there already exists a backdoor on many of the latest smartphones, namely, a fingerprint scanner or a set of camera and software for capturing faces, irises and other body features which are easily collected from the unyielding, sleeping, unconscious and dead people.

As the technologies of sensing biometric features advance, so do the technologies of copying and replaying them. None of body temperature, movement, pulse and brainwave can be exceptions. Biometrics could be great technologies for forensic and physical security, but far from valid for identity assurance in cyber space.

Suggestions

As analysed above, the authentication by biometrics in cyber space comes with poorer security than Pincode/password-only authentication in most cases. A false sense of security is often worse than the lack of security. I would like to put forward the suggestions below.

  • The vendors of those smart devices, who are conscious of privacy and security of consumers, could tell the consumers not to turn on the biometric functions.
  • Consumers, who are concerned about their privacy and security, could refrain from activating the biometric backdoors.
  • The deployment of biometric solutions could instead be recommended where consumers can accept “below-one” factor authentication in return for better convenience as the case may be.

By Hitoshi Kokumai

(Visit Hitoshi’s LinkedIn profile for more information and continued discussion on this subject. You can also visit CloudTweaks for future updates from Hitoshi)

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Easter Egg Backup

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Easter Egg Backup

cloudtweaks-easter

By Rick Menard

Please feel free to share our comics via social media networks such as Twitter with a clear attribution (Twitter example: via @cloudtweaks) to the original comic source. If you are a company brand looking to utilize our comics to generate leads to a specific landing page, newsletter, presentation or social media campaign, you can contact us regarding commercial licensing rates. Enjoy!

The Internet of Things And The Knowledge Revolution

The Internet of Things And The Knowledge Revolution

The Knowledge Revolution

Think about a few things in your life right now. It really doesn’t matter what they are, as long as you interact with them daily. They could be your phone, your shoes, your watch, your car, your refrigerator, your garage door opener…you get the idea. What do all of these things have in common (besides you, of course)? Well, at the moment, they may not have much of anything in common, but within the next decade, you can expect every last one of them to have Wi-Fi connections to the Internet.

The Internet of Things is an interesting concept because, on one level, it’s still largely theoretical, but on another it’s already a network that you use every single day. The strict definition of the Internet of Things (IoT) right now is, per the Oxford English Dictionary, “A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.

As much as it’s still a “proposed” development, though, we’re seeing a lot more than proposals in the IoT. As just one example, are you one of the millions of people around the world using fitness trackers to check their daily activity and caloric output? Fitbits, heart rate monitors, and other activity and fitness tracking devices were arguably some of the first “things” in the Internet of Things to come into widespread use.

Fitbit

Just a few years ago, if you wanted to shed a few pounds, you might go on a diet or start running a few miles a week. Now you can download an app to track your intake and track calories out with your fitness tracking device. And, because everything is connected, you can get all of the data you need in one place. Instead of counting calories and guessing at how much you need to run, swim, bike, or lift, you have all of the information you need in your pocket at any time, and your activities get logged automatically.

Data, Information, and Knowledge

So how is your Fitbit going to drive a knowledge revolution? Well, when you connect your fitness tracker to your diet app, the two can work together to automatically tell you how much and what you need to eat to stay on track with your goals. They do this by recording data and parsing it into information that you or I can understand. Then, when that information is put in the context of a fitness plan, you have a lot more knowledge about your current fitness level, your goals, and your progress than you had before, all without doing any research on your own.

Now, imagine taking this example to a whole new level. As more and more of our devices and “things” are connected, they share more and more data, translate it into information that we can understand, and deliver it to us in contexts that create more knowledge than we’ve ever had access to before. With knowledge about our fitness and diet needs, the energy efficiency of our homes and cars, and much, much more, we will not be constrained by our natural memories or the time it takes to research these topics.

Instead, we can use the knowledge that’s being pushed to our fingertips on our phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches to work faster, exercise more effectively, and enjoy more time with our friends and family.

By Ronald Van Loon

Article originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse.  

Containers as a Service – The Ins and Outs

Containers as a Service – The Ins and Outs

Containers as a Service

Containers as a Service (CaaS), not to be confused with Content as a Service (CaaS), Communication as a Service (CaaS), or Cloud as a Service (CaaS), is a form of container-based virtualization wherein container engines and the core compute resources are delivered to users as a service from a cloud provider. Containers as a Service allows users to upload, organize, scale, run, manage, and stop containers through a provider’s API calls or web portal interface, and as with most cloud service providers, they pay only for the resources they use (load balancing, compute instances, scheduling capabilities, etc.).

Goodbye, SaaS?

Falling somewhere in between Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), Containers as a Service is typically positioned as a subset of IaaS, and some industry specialists believe it signals the end of Software as a Service (SaaS). One drawback of SaaS is the contracts negotiated early on which are predictably multi-year and user count based, oftentimes negating the ‘pay as you use’ benefit of SaaS. Further muddying the finance waters, SaaS expenses are accounted as operating expenses, affecting EBITDA, while on-premise software is considered a capital expense. Another difficulty enterprises are facing with SaaS is that they often find themselves with restricted access to their own data as vendors meter access based on user counts and API purchases, forcing companies to pay for scaled access to their data.

Docker Containers

docker

The new generation of Docker-powered containers are easy to learn, and with the ability to separate an application, microservices, and their configuration from the principal Linux operating system, Docker containers are very appealing. Three of the major could providers, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft provide Constrainers as a Service allowing any Docker container to run on their platforms, and Docker Inc. recently released Docker Datacenter, a subscription-based platform and support service enabling companies to run Docker-based Containers as a Service for building, deploying, and managing containerized applications and infrastructure.

Could a CaaS Evolution Mend SaaS?

With a little innovation, Containers as a Service could evolve into Containers as a Service for Independent Software Vendors, offering a world wherein organizations rent applications or purchase software and then run it either in the public or private cloud, as best suits their needs. While software would automatically be maintained by vendors, companies would control their data, as well as vendor access. This new model could ensure software customers have the best of both SaaS and on-premise solutions including complete visibility, full data ownership, tightly controlled security, and flexibility. Already a few startups including Sapho, tray.io, Replicated, and Infradash are offering their own innovative angles.

Notes analyst Janakiram MSV, “Containers as a Service is becoming the new Platform as a Service. With the interest in containers and microservices skyrocketing among developers, cloud providers are capitalizing on the opportunity through hosted container management services.” Thanks to programs such as the Open Container Initiative, an industry trend towards conforming to container standards is developing, suggesting future users will have access to the greatest choice and flexibility to best suit their needs.

By Jennifer Klostermann

How Netflix Is Using Big Data To Create Better, Successful Shows

How Netflix Is Using Big Data To Create Better, Successful Shows

How Netflix is using Big Data

When every TV network in America refused to telecast even the pilot season of House of Cards, the show’s creators turned to Netflix. The online streaming service believed so much in the show that they shelled $100 million for the first two seasons.

On February 1, 2013, when the show debuted its first season on Netflix, it was an immediate hit, and it continues to do so with its current season four. But was all that a coincidence? What made Netflix invest $100 million in an original show which was something they hadn’t done before.

The Big Data Game

Just like all the other e-commerce websites, Netflix too monitors user data. It picks up on things like – at what time you watch action, horror and humour, which scenes make you forward the video and which ones make you do a rewind, at which point you pause a video or stop it altogether and whether you watch Netflix on your TV, laptop or your phone. And that’s not all, according to Variety, Netflix also scans piracy websites to check what’s doing well online.

If you are a Netflix user, and you didn’t know about it, then we strongly suggest going back and reading the terms and agreements of Netflix.

Now, coming back to House of Cards, when Netflix got this proposal, they used Big Data to determine if the show would be a success or not. In their research, they found out that people already loved Kevin Spacey and the British version of the show. People were also fond of the director, David Fincher, who had previously shot The Social Network. When the numbers came in, there was a strong correlation and Netflix was sure that House of Cards was going to be a big hit.

Are statistics more important than creativity?

When the news about Netflix using big data broke out, many critics started talking about how the company was abusing data and hindering creativity. According to them, if big data can decide the actor, story and the director of the show then what would stop it from deciding the dialogues and the cinematography of the show?

Well, the answer isn’t as simple. Even though Netflix used big data to determine if House of Cards would be a hit, in no way did the online streaming service try to decide what kind dialogues would go into the show. In fact, if Netflix had to go completely with the statistics, they wouldn’t have agreed to Kevin Spacey talking directly to the camera. This tactic is called breaking the fourth wall, which was present in the British version of the show but it is not very common for American TV shows or movies.

Cloudtweaks-Comic-3d-printing

And we have to remember that this is the same streaming service that came out with shows like Orange is the New Black and Jessica Jones. While OITNB would create a big stir if it were telecasted on cable TV, Jessica Jones is the first Marvel Superhero with a gritty and a grey side, and she has no fancy costume.

Final Word

Let’s be honest for a minute – nobody likes to invest big bucks in something and fail. If you have a brilliant technology like big data to use and predict the results, then you are going to use it and reap its benefits.

By Ritika Tiwari

Is FBI set to open encrypted iPhone: Report

Is FBI set to open encrypted iPhone: Report

Israel’s Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is helping the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s attempt to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Wednesday.

If Cellebrite succeeds, then the FBI will no longer need the help of Apple Inc, the Israeli daily said, citing unnamed industry sources.

Cellebrite officials declined to comment on the matter.

Apple is engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over a judge’s order that it write new software to disable passcode protection on the iPhone used by the shooter.

The two sides were set to face off in court on Tuesday, but on Monday a federal judge agreed to the government’s request to postpone the hearing after U.S. prosecutors said a “third party” had presented a possible method for opening an encrypted iPhone.

The development could bring an abrupt end to the high-stakes legal showdown which has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the United States…

Full Article Source: Reuters

Montreal – A Burgeoning International Startup Hub

Montreal – A Burgeoning International Startup Hub

Montreal Startup Industry 

Montreal, ranked at number 20 in Compass’ 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking and home of our own CloudTweaks, is, verified by our firsthand observation, a burgeoning startup city. A liberal and fun capital, the low-cost but high-quality education system attracts much talent, as does the low cost of living. In January, the first Startup Weekend Montreal – Sustainable City event, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, kicked off at Le Salon 1861, one of many Montreal affairs targeting innovators, investors and business leaders alike aimed at the development of functional startups and successful collaboration.

The Economics of Montreal

Though Silicon Valley still tops the global startup charts, the cost of living is high, and since start-ups traditionally are investing almost everything they have into product development, finding an accommodating but inexpensive home for your startup could be the make or break factor. According to Numbeo’s cost of living comparison, Montreal easily defeats San Jose providing a value for money, startup-centric hub, with Montreal offering lower transportation, utility and general consumer prices than Silicon Valley (San Jose), and rental prices a whopping 70% cheaper. In fact, Expatistan’s index suggests an overall 32% reduction in the cost of living for those choosing Montreal over San Jose.

montreal-cost-of-living

Providing the Amenities

But Montreal isn’t merely good for the startup’s budget; it also provides an ideal setting for startup initiation and activation with its low-priced talent pool, sound infrastructure, and bright cultural background. Says Carl Mercier, co-founder and CEO of Montreal startup VerageSale Inc., “There’s a vibrant startup scene [in Montreal]. It’s not a big startup scene but it’s a vibrant one. There is lots of activity, a lot of events, a lot of early-stage capital. Startups can get off the ground cheaply and quickly.”

Investment Prospects

Some of the world’s tech giants are already taking notice of Montreal’s many positive features, and Amazon has just announced that it will be open its first Canadian data center in Montreal. Not only the first in Canada, this data center for AWS cloud services will be the first such data center situated outside of the US, and the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has welcomed this news as proof that Montreal’s IT sector is a top worldwide competitor. Notes Michel Leblanc, president of the Board, “The arrival of such a company in Montreal will have very positive impacts on innovation and generate creative projects.

Closer to home, Telus, a Canadian national telecommunications company, is investing $2 billion in IoT, cloud services, and infosec in the next five years, with infrastructure and technology investments to advance services across networking infrastructures, business facilities, and health and community amenities.

Montreal Startups

For more about some of the flourishing Montreal startups, have a look at Built in MTL’s line up which includes Hexoskin (wearable body metrics for human health and performance), DoBundle (powering commerce across the visual web), E14N (infrastructure for social software), and many other innovators. And for an unforgettable and unconventional startup event, be sure to check out Montreal’s Startupfest, a global gathering of the world’s best founders, entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors taking place in July.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Weighing in on Recurring Revenues to Tip Your Business’ Scale

Weighing in on Recurring Revenues to Tip Your Business’ Scale

Tip Your Business’ Scale

CEOs, investors, analysts, and business advisors have fallen in love with the recurring revenue business model. In fact, when comparing like software companies, Wall Street gives 2x higher valuations for businesses with successful recurring revenue models in place. It’s no wonder that research indicates 50% of US businesses have already adopted or are considering to adopt a recurring revenue business model.

And why not? Recurring revenue is more predictable than one‐time sales.

The Fast Track

Global 5,000 public companies are quickly moving to transform via recurring revenue models. Here’s why: suppose you run a $100 million company and 90 percent of that is recurring revenue. When the next year starts, you can count on $90 million in repeat revenue and only need to book $10 million in new sales to reach last year’s level. If you run a $100 million non‐recurring revenue business, you start at zero every year and need to book the entire $100 million each time.

Significant competitive advantages exist with recurring revenue models that can adjust to meet changing market demands. Compare the fates of two movie rental companies: subscription‐based goliath Netflix and once‐mighty Blockbuster, a company that relied on one‐time transactions.

netflix-subscription

(Image Source: Statista)

As customer demands and preferences shifted towards new technological advancements, Netflix soared and Blockbuster headed for bankruptcy. Customers clearly preferred the convenience of Netflix’s distribution methods and the cost advantages of a recurring revenue model, which enabled the company to develop a rapidly expanding and predictable business.

Beyond Basic Billing

Recurring revenue models offer advantages that go beyond predictable streams:

  • Capability to scale revenues with costs
  • Lower cost of sales
  • Added bundling potential
  • Higher customer lifetime value
  • Exponential growth and valuation

Who doesn’t want that?

Yet, with the added flexibility and increased benefits of recurring revenue models also comes added complexity that can trickle down into every aspect of managing customers and products. Keep in mind that while the model is compelling, failing to manage its hidden complexities can negate the benefits.

business-meet

Many mistakenly view recurring revenue as just basic subscription billing, like paying for a time-honored magazine subscription. But recurring revenues come in many flavors: basic subscriptions, usage-based, tiered, and hybrid models to name a few. As a result, recurring revenue management may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in the business world. Many managers think of recurring revenue management as repeat customer orders handled by the billing department, with printers spewing out invoice after invoice, while the accounts receivables manager sends out an occasional collection email. If it were only that simple.

Smart businesses, on the other hand, realize that taking advantage of recurring revenue setups require technology that not only handles the bill, but also monetizes their products and services over time.

Go All in: Manage Every Revenue Moment

Bill handling is just the start. To maximize recurring revenue, companies need to manage the complete customer relationship rather than the discrete transaction. The goal is to engage with the customer over the course of years or even decades. To effectively manage the relationship you must manage every customer interaction or “revenue moment”. Since every interaction has the potential to add profits or lose customers, management is critical.

The good news is recurring revenue businesses have ample opportunities to manage these moments. Here are some revenue moments that should be managed and accompanying actions that could be taken:

  • Customer acquisitions – introduce attractive bundles or offers
  • Product and service delivery – add the option for support packages
  • Management and rating of usage – give the opportunity to upgrade plans when usage nears its threshold
  • Financial interactions – alert customers of expiring credit cards to avoid service disruptions
  • Data interactions – offer new features or services based on data usage with upsells and cross-sells

By focusing on the relationship versus the transaction, you can proactively guide a positive customer experience into a loyal, long-term partnership.

A Paradigm Shift in the Back Office

When embarking on a recurring revenue model, you should rethink how you currently price, package, and manage revenue. To build a successful recurring revenue management system, “normal” communications and billing systems must also change. What’s traditionally relegated to back office operations should move into the front office, driven by the focus on the customer relationship.

Hop aboard. The recurring revenue implementation journey may be windy, but the end destination is worth its weight in gold.

By Tom Dibble

CloudTweaks Comics
Disaster Recovery – A Thing Of The Past!

Disaster Recovery – A Thing Of The Past!

Disaster Recovery  Ok, ok – I understand most of you are saying disaster recovery (DR) is still a critical aspect of running any type of operations. After all – we need to secure our future operations in case of disaster. Sure – that is still the case but things are changing – fast. There are…

Cloud Computing Services Perfect For Your Startup

Cloud Computing Services Perfect For Your Startup

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Do Small Businesses Need Cloud Storage Service?

Do Small Businesses Need Cloud Storage Service?

Cloud Storage Services Not using cloud storage for your business yet? Cloud storage provides small businesses like yours with several advantages. Start using one now and look forward to the following benefits: Easy back-up of files According to Practicalecommerce, it provides small businesses with a way to back up their documents and files. No need…

The Questions of Privacy In The Internet of Things Revolution

The Questions of Privacy In The Internet of Things Revolution

Privacy in the Internet of Things Revolution The Internet of Things (IoT) has been promising a lot to consumers for a few years and now we’re really starting to see some of the big ideas come to fruition, which means an ever-growing conversation around data security and privacy. Big data comes with big responsibilities and…

5 Predictions For Education Technology

5 Predictions For Education Technology

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5 Essential Cloud Skills That Could Make Or Break Your IT Career

5 Essential Cloud Skills That Could Make Or Break Your IT Career

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The Monstrous IoT Connected Cloud Market

The Monstrous IoT Connected Cloud Market

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Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

Report: Enterprise Cloud Computing Moves Into Mature Growth Phase

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The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

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Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions Running a cloud server is no longer the novel trend it once was. Now, the cloud is a necessary data tier that allows employees to access vital company data and maintain productivity from anywhere in the world. But it isn’t a perfect system — security and performance issues can quickly…

The Future of M2M Technology & Opportunities

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The Importance of Cloud Backups: Guarding Your Data Against Hackers

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Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

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Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

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

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5 Things To Consider About Your Next Enterprise Sharing Solution

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The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

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3 Keys To Keeping Your Online Data Accessible

3 Keys To Keeping Your Online Data Accessible

Online Data Data storage is often a real headache for businesses. Additionally, the shift to the cloud in response to storage challenges has caused security teams to struggle to reorient, leaving 49 percent of organizations doubting their experts’ ability to adapt. Even so, decision makers should not put off moving from old legacy systems to…

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

How The CFAA Ruling Affects Individuals And Password-Sharing

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Using Private Cloud Architecture For Multi-Tier Applications

Using Private Cloud Architecture For Multi-Tier Applications

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