December 03, 2014

Why FBI Is Wrong On Encryption Workaround
Regardless of what the FBI wants to call it, the fact of the matter is that by creating opportunities to circumvent security features in computing devices, the FBI would fundamentally make them less secure. Keys can be stolen, and the federal government hasn't been immune to data breaches. There are at least two likely consequences of pursuing this course. First, in a market where security is king, products and services with weaker security are less competitive. In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, the US tech sector already has begun to lose out to European and Asian competitors that promise better security from the prying eyes of the government.

Natural Course of Refactoring – a Refactoring Workflow
Refactoring is not a new technique yet still quite a hot topic. It became an indispensable tool in a programmer toolbox. At least in theory. In practice surprisingly I still see that this practice is abandoned in many teams. “We don’t have time”. “We are not allowed”. I think that one of the problems is a false dichotomy thinking here. Refactoring is not a zero-one decision: do it or not. This is why I differentiate two types of refactoring: everyday refactoring and strategic refactoring.

Australia reaches mobile market saturation: ACMA
The ACMA Communications Report 2013-14 revealed that over the past year, there has been a small decline in operational mobile services in Australia, indicating that Australia's mobile landscape has reached saturation point. "Mobile services are now at saturation levels, with 2013-14 seeing the first, albeit small, decline in the number of mobile services in operation to 31.01 million mobile services" the report said. "There is evidence of a similar slowdown occurring in the growth of internet connections, with approximately 81 percent of Australians (14.7 million) having an internet connection in the home, with growth slowing over the past three years."

Big Data Ethics for Targeted Segmentation
Financial services and insurance firms face these practical dilemmas more often than businesses in other sectors, perhaps because denying people equal access to insurance, loans, and credit can be an effective tool for disenfranchising specific segments of the population. For example, consider scenarios in which an insurer decides to shunt specific minority groups into high-risk categories that, as a consequence, pay higher premiums or receive lesser benefits than other groups and/or are less likely to receive any coverage whatsoever.*

To Gain the Upper Hand, Amazon Disrupts Itself
While Amazon does not give numbers of Prime subscribers, most analysts think those numbers have been increasing rapidly from a base of 20 million. The Prime subscribers, who pay $99 a year for two-day shipping and all of the media, are the most enthusiastic Amazon customers. Set against that opportunity, what is a few missing media sales? “In essence it appears they’re mortgaging one smaller business” — media sales — “to drive the much bigger, longer-term business opportunity of overall retail leadership,” said Peter Hildick-Smith of the Codex Group, a book industry research firm.

Proposed Cybersecurity Norms to Reduce Conflict in an Interdependent World
Microsoft believes that there are certain acts in cyberspace that, whatever the national or strategic aim, nation states should not pursue. Because of that we are today publishing a new white paper “International Cybersecurity Norms, Reducing Conflict in an Interdependent World”,as part of the EastWest Institute’s 2014 Global Cyberspace Cooperation Summit in Berlin, Germany. In the paper we recommend six cybersecurity norms with the intention of reducing the possibility that Information Communication Technology (ICT) products and services are used, abused, or exploited by nation states as part of military operations.

The Delusions of Big Data and Other Huge Engineering Efforts
it was not neural realism that led to most of the progress. The algorithm that has proved the most successful for deep learning is based on a technique called back propagation. You have these layers of processing units, and you get an output from the end of the layers, and you propagate a signal backwards through the layers to change all the parameters. It’s pretty clear the brain doesn’t do something like that. This was definitely a step away from neural realism, but it led to significant progress. But people tend to lump that particular success story together with all the other attempts to build brainlike systems that haven’t been nearly as successful.

#NoEstimates Project Planning Using Monte Carlo Simulation
Deterministic planning used these days forces certainty on uncertain situations and masks the uncertainty instead of highlighting it. It calculates the project-specific costs based on a detailed study of the resources required to accomplish each activity of work contained in the project’s work breakdown structure or in other words, taking an “inside view” on the project being estimated. For high-level planning, deterministic estimation of all work items is wasteful of people’s time and infers precision when it isn’t present. The techniques presented here are fast and for most of the projects they will produce more accurate results.

Eight Reasons IT Needs to Consider Multi-Factor Authentication
Today’s IT administrators juggle a whole portfolio of third-party platforms, including remotely accessed cloud apps, within their network environments. Security is clearly a top priority, but it must be balanced with cost, convenience, interoperability, effectiveness and ease of use – many of which often take precedence over security depending on the moment’s needs. Therefore, the IT administrator must ensure that any strategy to secure remote access must work seamlessly and easily with every platform in the portfolio, without breaking the budget. Multi-factor authentication does just that.

Exclusive: FBI warns of 'destructive' malware in wake of Sony attack
The five-page, confidential "flash" FBI warning issued to businesses late on Monday provided some technical details about the malicious software used in the attack. It provided advice on how to respond to the malware and asked businesses to contact the FBI if they identified similar malware. The report said the malware overrides all data on hard drives of computers, including the master boot record, which prevents them from booting up. "The overwriting of the data files will make it extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible, to recover the data using standard forensic methods," the report said.

Quote for the day:

"If you define your company by how you differ from the competition, you're probably in trouble." --Omar Hamoui