Daily Tech Digest - March 13, 2019

Wearable tech in the enterprise grows, but few workplace uses exist
More interesting than the growth predictions, perhaps, the report splits enterprise wearable use into two parts: employee use and customer applications. The top employee uses include workplace security, employee time management, and employee communications. From my perspective, though, much of that sounds like messaging and checking the time. The customer application side seems more promising. Common customer applications predicted include loyalty programs, point-of-sale (PoS) uses and something called an “integrated shopping experience.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing a lot of smartwatch-based loyalty programs or PoS applications. I have no idea what an integrated shopping experience is, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen one on of those on a smartwatch, either. The report cited the lack of applications as the biggest barrier to B2B adoption of wearable tech, and that problem doesn’t seem to have disappeared. Nor have other concerns in the report, including cost, device capabilities, and security.

Cyber attackers favouring stealthier attacks, says Darktrace

Despite the rise in popularity of cryptojacking, however, banking Trojans once again appear to be the most profitable tool for cyber criminals, according to Max Heinemeyer, director of threat hunting at Darktrace. “Unlike ransomware, banking Trojans do not rely on a victim’s conscious willingness to pay. Instead, they use deception to perform transactions without the victim’s knowledge. Given the decline in ransomware incidents in 2018, it seems that subtler attacks have become the weapons of choice for hackers,” he said. In one Fortune 500 e-commerce company, Darktrace discovered a privileged access user – a disgruntled systems administrator – was hijacking power sources from the company’s infrastructure for monetary gain. The employee co-opted other users’ credentials and service accounts to stealthily take over multiple machines for the purpose of cryptomining. Darktrace’s 2018 threat data also revealed that more than 15% of internet of things (IoT) devices detected by its AI technology were unknown to businesses concerned, with a 100% year-on-year increase in IoT attacks.

Researchers build nanoscale distributed DNA computing systems from artificial protocell

Living cells communicate with each other by sending and receiving molecular signals that diffuse between neighboring cells to activate key molecular processes. This communication enables cell populations to implement collective information processing functions that cannot be achieved by individual cells in isolation. Although synthetic biologists have made significant progress in engineering cell populations to perform computation, such engineering still remains a major challenge because of the complex interplay between synthetic devices and natural cellular processes. In a new paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, a team of researchers led by Tom de Greef at the Eindhoven University of Technology and Radboud University, Stephen Mann at the University of Bristol, and Andrew Phillips at Microsoft Research present a method for implementing distributed DNA computing systems by compartmentalizing DNA devices inside artificial protocells.

Data and analytics offer a seismic opportunity in manufacturing

Data and analytics offer a seismic opportunity in manufacturing image
Until recently, predictive maintenance was a time consuming, manual process requiring large teams of data scientists. It was used in industries where regulation demands it, as well as by a small number of pioneering industrialists to monitor their most important production assets. Although predictive maintenance was proven to keep aircraft in the air and the most vital wheels of industry turning, the vast majority of manufacturers couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity due to the high cost and complexity of gathering and analysing sufficient data to drive tangible results. Things started to move on, however, with the adoption of IoT sensors and machines capable of recording their own vital statistics. Manufacturers can now collect large amounts of data from across their production environments and relay to factory historians or third-party platforms such as Siemens MindSphere and the OSIsoft Pi System. The ease with which this can be done has led to a data rush. Around two-thirds of manufacturers today are gathering data from their production environments.

Why Every Company Needs A Data Strategy For 2019

Why Every Company Needs A Data Strategy For 2019
Creating a data strategy isn’t a standalone activity; it must be driven by your overarching business strategy. Therefore, a critical starting point for any data strategy is the business’s strategic objectives. To put it another way, what is your business trying to achieve and how can data help you get there? After all, what's the point of a data strategy – indeed, what's the point of data in general – if it doesn't help you achieve your organizational goals? So before you charge ahead to your data strategy, review your business strategy first and then develop your data strategy ... When you use data to make smarter decisions, optimize business process and so on, it's likely to have a positive effect on the bottom line. But this link between data and the bottom line can also be much more direct. In other words, data can be monetized to increase revenue and create a new income stream. This monetization may take many forms. For example, it may involve bringing new, data-driven products or services to market. Or it may involve selling data to customers through optimized services.

The NSA Makes Ghidra, A Powerful Cyber Security Tool, Open Source

The NSA announced Joyce’s RSA talk, and Ghidra’s imminent release, in early January. But knowledge of the tool was already public thanks to WikiLeaks’ March 2017 “Vault 7” disclosure, which discussed a number of hacking tools used by the CIA and repeatedly referenced Ghidra as a reverse-engineering tool created by the NSA. The actual code hadn’t seen the light of day, though, until Tuesday—all 1.2 million lines of it. Ghidra runs on Windows, MacOS, and Linux and has all the components security researchers would expect. But Joyce emphasized the tool's customizability. It is also designed to facilitate collaborative work among multiple people on the same reversing project—a concept that isn't as much of a priority in other platforms. Ghidra also has user-interface touches and features meant to make reversing as easy as possible, given how tedious and generally challenging it can be. Joyce's personal favorite? An undo/redo mechanism that allows users to try out theories about how the code they are analyzing may work, with an easy way to go back a few steps if the idea doesn't pan out.

Unbelievable Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionizing Education

ways artificial intelligence is revolutionizing education
How have teachers been developing their careers in the new technological age? In the past, they did it with the help of specialized workshops, seminars, or courses. Unfortunately, professors have little time for self-development because they must come up with an individual approach to their students. The development of both AI and global education ecosystems can change this situation. For example, American Institutes for Research (AIR), provides teachers with online training courses and webinars to share experiences with colleagues. Another solution is The Global Education Conference, a project that gives access to educational conferences and hundreds of courses for professional growth. Such innovations can deliver astonishing results. For teachers, AI has become synonymous with expanding the boundaries of how you can share experiences and knowledge. ...  An intellectual curriculum can also be developed on a turnkey basis for a particular student. In this case, there is no need to buy costly textbooks and materials.

You can’t benchmark culture

A benchmarking exercise is one of analyzing and copying the things another company does. (Companies can also benchmark their own current performance against past performance.) That won’t work for cultural elements, because every company’s cultural situation is as unique as a fingerprint. It incorporates emotionally resonant, deeply embedded perspectives and habits that have built up through years of challenges and experience; these factors can’t be easily separated from one another. Moreover, these elements have to fit the company’s strategy and core capabilities, or the company won’t be able to continue delivering value. The behaviors and emotions that should be emphasized in one company may be precisely those that would hold another company back. For example, at PetroChem, the leaders sought to borrow a new behavior from Polymer Plus and Google: rapid launches of imperfect products, which would be improved later, after the product had been on the market.

NVMe startups’ different routes to flash performance gains

All the startup solutions presented so far are based on new hardware designs, but another route being taken by startups such as Excelero and WekaIO is to eliminate the storage hardware and go completely software-defined. Of course, there has to be some storage hardware somewhere, but the benefit of the software-defined architecture is that solutions can be implemented either as a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), dedicated storage or even in public cloud. Excelero has created a storage solution called NVMesh that implements NVMe-over-Fabrics through a proprietary protocol called RDDA. Where RDMA connects multiple servers together and provides direct memory access, RDDA takes that step further and makes NVMe storage devices accessible across the network. This is achieved without the processor of the target server and so delivers a highly scalable solution that can be deployed in multiple configurations, including HCI.

Hackers Love to Strike on Saturday

Hackers Love to Strike on Saturday
Attackers were more likely to strike on a Saturday than any other day. This makes obvious sense, since organizations are likely to have fewer employees minding the shop. After a successful attack, hackers would also have more time to explore a network before employees returned to work on Monday. One caveat, however, is that in some parts of the world, the weekend begins on a Friday. In Bangladesh, for example, Friday is a Muslim day of prayer. Not coincidentally, that's the day attackers hit Bangladesh Bank. ... Want to bury bad news? One age-old strategy long practiced by businesses and politicians in the U.s. is to release bad news on a Friday, after markets have closed, in the hope that it will be old news by Monday. Many breached businesses, likely not coincidentally, publish their first public data breach notification on a Friday. Redscan found that half of all breach reports were submitted to the ICO on a Thursday or Friday, suggesting that this ethos exists in the U.K. as well.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership in today's world requires far more than a large stock of gunboats and a hard fist at the conference table." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

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