March 25, 2016

Should You Worry That Your Car Will be Hacked?

Consumers, however, should stay informed about the capabilities of their cars, just as they would about most connected devices they own -- from PCs to smartphones to smart home appliances -- especially considering that vehicles are much a more complex and "dangerous tool," Menting said. "So it is perhaps even more important to understand the risks," she added. Egil Juliussen, director of research at IHS Automotive Technology, said other than gaining notoriety, there really isn't much of an incentive for hackers to break into your vehicle's electronic systems. In fact, the only business case for hackers to break into a vehicle is to extort money from owners or automakers. "They have to earn money on it; otherwise, it doesn't pay for them to do it," Juliussen said.

As Silicon Valley chills, Europe’s tech gets hotter

Silicon Valley is indeed undergoing a chill, while tech in Europe is growing, purposefully, confidently and across a broad front of geographical hubs and industries. Currently, France is leading Europe in investments so far this year. CB Insights shows that the absolute number of funding rounds for early-stage companies — what’s called Series A rounds — in the U.S. appear to have peaked in 2014 ... In Europe, Series A investments only really started to ramp from 2014, and the number of local companies hitting this funding milestone continues to rise. 2015 was a record year for Europe — up 12 percent from the year before. In January and February so far this year, A rounds are up 38 percent year-over-year.

SDNs come to the branch office, with risks

Despite the benefits of SD-WAN, Shaffer says that he still worries about the viability of startups such as Viptela in such an immature market: "I'm relying on something they have and what happens if they go away or get acquired and some company buries their product?" Shaffer says. "You may have time to get out, but you've invested the time and it's not what you wanted." While there is no crystal ball to help Shaffer see whether Cisco Systems or some other player decides to gobble Viptela, Shaffer says he believes the company is well-positioned for growth based on its funding and commercial track record. Viptela in 2014 raised $33.5 million from Sequoia Capital and counts Gap as one of its customers. Last month Verizon began selling a hosted SD-WAN service powered by Viptela.

The Evolution of today’s enterprise applications

In the old days, corporate IT departments built networks and data centers that supported computing monocultures of servers, desktops and routers, all of which was owned, specified, and maintained by the company. Those days are over, and now how you deploy your technologies is critical, whatone writer calls “the post-cloud future.” Now we have companies who deliver their IT infrastructure completely from the cloud and don’t own much of anything. IT has moved to being more of a renter than a real estate baron. ... At the same time, the typical endpoint computing device has gone from a desktop or laptop computer to a tablet or smartphone, often purchased by the end user, who expects his or her IT department to support this choice. The actual device itself has become almost irrelevant, whatever its operating system and form factor.

Are electronic medical records worth it?

The value of the technology has been heralded as improved diagnosis and treatment through better information access and sharing. Researches, however, have found that the vast majority of providers don’t share electronic patient data outside their own practice. According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, just 14 percent of providers were sharing data with other providers in 2013 Psychology Today notes that many medical centers’ outpatient systems cannot “talk” to their inpatient hospital systems; and actually accused “One of the bigger “providers” of electronic health records” of creating data silos that prevent the sharing of their records with outside organizations unless a high fee is paid. This current state of affairs argues for strong action by the government and even stronger action by healthcare organizations.

Quantum Networkers, Watch Out: Twisting Light Slows IT Down

By putting a twist on beams of light and changing how they travel through space, engineers can create another variable for encoding information. Each kind of twist creates a different corkscrew pattern, and theoretically there's no limit to the number of patterns that can be created, said University of Ottawa Assistant Professor Ebrahim Karimi, who led the research team. With that extra form of encoding, networks could carry as much as four times as much data as they do now, just using fiber already in the ground, Karimi said. More advanced fiber could allow for many more times the data. Twisted light may also play a role in quantum computing, the fledgling field of number-crunching using more than just binary zeroes and ones.

Australia can't afford to miss the 'blockchain' revolution

Financial services is the largest and also the fastest-growing sector in the Australian economy, according to the recent UBS/FSC State of the Industry report. The broader services sector is the key contributor to employment growth, making up for weaker figures in other sectors, according to the RBA. Think about things like international tourism, wealth management and natural energy. It is in the services industry that blockchain technology can be most transformative. We do need to catch ourselves before we go running away with all the possibilities of the blockchain. On the one hand, the technology has the potential to reduce fraud because of the transparency among users. On the other hand, there are still open questions about how secure the system is, which has obvious implications for something described, ironically enough, by The Economist as "the trust machine".

9 Myths Surrounding Blockchain Smart Contracts

Historically, the concept was first introduced by Nick Szabo in 1994. Smart contracts then had a long gestation period of inactivity and disinterest, because there was no platform that could enforce them, until the advent of blockchain technology in 2009. Now, smart contracts are entering their prime, especially since Ethereum has popularized them further by making their programming a basic tenet of their blockchain's power. Like any new buzzword, the more a term gets popular, the more it spreads around. The more it will get used, but also misused and abused. It will mean a lot of different things to different people. Here’s a list of 9 misconceptions about smart contracts, and my efforts to debunk and explain away those misconceptions:

Interactive Intelligence Doubles Down on Cloud Computing

Each microcomponent processes one transaction at a time. If processing completes successfully, it moves to the next, and so on. If a transaction fails, that transaction might be lost, but another version of the microcomponent is activated to go on processing other transactions of the same sort. Thus any failure is isolated and has limited impact. If the number of transactions is higher than expected, this can be handled in one of two ways; either the system calls on AWS to provide more processing resources, or more instances of the microcomponent can be activated. The architecture also impacts how bugs are fixed or new capabilities are added. In both cases a new microcomponent is developed, and once tested, it takes over from an existing one or is activated to provide new capabilities.

Security vs. privacy: Evaluating the government’s case

Clearly, the government couldn’t compel the terrorist to reveal the key, since he is dead. So instead, it had to reveal its own blundering by taking this to court. I can only assume that, by choosing this case to push its agenda, the government is either desperate, feigning desperation or just staggeringly inept. I don’t find comfort in any of those scenarios. If the government is truly desperate, it has to know that it is losing the “crypto wars” and this is a last-ditch attempt to try to extract victory from the jaws of defeat. If it is merely feigning desperation, it is trying to lull us back into thinking our systems are more secure than they really are — meanwhile, it has developed or is developing some post-Snowden means of obtaining our data. And if it’s just staggeringly inept — then God save us.

Quote for the day:

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.” -- @SirKenRobinson