Jan 182015

Today’s links include a look at the complexities of the Charlie Hebdo discussion, how Lithuania intends a passive aggressive response to a Russian invasion and how Winston Churchill was not always Britain’s most admired figure.

Should we hang Mr Churchill?

The New Statesman has delved into its archives to find its articles on Winston Churchill, it’s an interesting article that shows the complexities of the Churchill myth and legend.

Lithuania’s plan of passive resistance

Having the Russians occupy your country is a living memory in Lithuania. With the troubles in the Ukraine, the Lithuanian authorities are planning for a future invasion. Their advice is to be passive aggressive.

The world’s highest cost living

Which countries are the most expensive for a British expat to live in? Switzerland and Norway top Movehub’s list with the UK coming in tenth, New Zealand seventh and Australia sixth.

No, I am not Charlie

A British cartoonist’s view on the Charlie Hebdo murders illustrates the complexities beyond the facile soundbites.

The popping of the tech startup seed bubble

Has the tech startup mania peaked? The funds being invested into startups at seed stage seems to falling away, which may not be a bad thing suggest Alex Wilhelm.

What’s your password?

The Jimmy Kimmel show went onto the streets asking people what their passwords are. The results, sadly, are not surprising.

Jan 102015
we need to treat chinese markets carefully

Today’s links have a distinctly Chinese flavour around them with a look at how the country’s smartphone manufacturers are coming to dominate their market, Tencent’s plans for global domination and how property developers are looking to the internet to save their falling sales.

Uber and Microsoft make their regular appearances to round out the links in their changes to billing and security.

Chinese property developers turn to the web

Faced with declining sales, Chinese property developers embrace – the Internet!

How Chinese smartphone makers are beginning to dominate the market

The rise of China’s smartphone makers: 10 of the top 17 smartphone manufacturers now come from China.

An interview with Tencent

Business Insider has an intriguing interview with one of the VPs of Chinese internet giant Tencent.

In his Q&A, S. Y. Lau discusses how Chinese communities are seeing their incomes rise due to the internet. One of the famous case studies of connectivity are India’s Kerala fishermen who used SMS to arbitrage their market. We may be seeing a similar story with Chinese tea farmers.

Microsoft restrict warning of patches to paying customers

In a short term money grabbing exercise, Microsoft have unveiled a plan to only inform enterprise customers of upcoming security patches. My prediction is this won’t last.

Uber cuts prices

Car hiring service Uber has cut its fares in thirty US cities while guaranteeing drivers their incomes. This is probably a move to keep competitors like Lyft at bay.

Dec 152014
Sony display at CEDIA conference

For the last week the gossip and tech industry websites have been full of revelations gleaned from a massive hack into the network of entertainment company Sony.

Sadly it isn’t surprising that Sony that targeted in that hack, 2011 was described by this site as the ‘year of the hack’ and at the time I wondered when corporate managers would start taking IT security seriously.

As the most recent security breach shows, Sony’s managers certainly weren’t taking their information security seriously as alleged North Korean hackers gleefully disabled systems and downloaded confidential documents.

While Sony’s woes are deeply damaging to the company, not least for the executives caught out gossiping about movie stars, the stakes are far higher for other companies.

In Turkey its alleged a 2008 oil pipeline explosion was caused by Russian hackers while in the US, Palestinian sympathisers are accused of causing massive damage to the IT systems of the Sands Casino group.

Sony may be one of the most digitally incompetent business in history – at least in respect to IT security – but it’s important for every business to making sure their information systems and critical business systems are hardened against attacks.

Dec 022014

Hackers are infiltrating public companies to gain an edge on Wall Street warns a story on financial website Finextra.

This is not news, companies’ networks have been the target of insider traders since the early days of corporate computing. What is different today though are the nature of the risks as Chinese and even North Korean hackers are probing networks containing vast amounts of information to find weaknesses and confidential information.

For insider traders, it may be the internet of things turns out to be a boon. By hijacking delivery or supply data, traders may have an advantage over the market.

Things could get very nasty if those hackers subtly alter the data, say over reporting production yields, so a company gives the wrong income guidance based on faulty information.

Security is one of the big issues facing the internet of things sector and the consequences of poorly protected sensors or systems could be immense when governments, businesses and communities come to rely on a stream of data they can trust.

The bad guys are only just starting to explore the possibilities of the connected world.

Oct 172014
what do we share on social media sites

The Guardian today has a stunning expose on the Whisper social media network and its practice of tracking users.

In trying to sell its services to the Guardian, the company showed that it was betraying their promises of anonymity to its users.

Whisper’s behaviour is particularly disgraceful given the service’s promise of user confidentiality and their changing of their terms of service only shows the company’s struggle to understand ethics.

No social media service can afford to burn user trust in the way Whisper has.

If you’re going to promise users anonymity and security then you better deliver. Whisper has failed


Sep 022014

This week’s news about celebrities’ personal photos being stolen from their iCloud accounts would be irritating Apple ahead of their September 9 media event.

Unfortunately for Apple they seemed to have walked into this by making things convenient for users rather than enforcing strong security measures.

As Arik Hesseldahl in Re/Code describes, this breach was probably due to Apple not encouraging two factor authentication and not limiting the number of password guesses.

The latter is particularly irritating as it shouldn’t be hard for a system to pick when a brute force attack — a computer guessing a password millions of times a second — is being staged against a user.

It’s also trivial to limit the number of guesses as most other services do.

For users, the best protection is to have complex passwords which reduces the effectiveness of brute force attacks. It’s also worthwhile being careful with your personal nudie photos.

The consequences of having your iCloud account compromised are more than just losing your embarrassing photos, Wired’s Mat Honan had his entire digital life hijacked through this method two years ago.

With Apple aspiring to control the smarthome and smartcar markets, the consequences of accounts being breached becomes exponentially greater. These are issues Apple and the rest of the internet of things industry need to take seriously.

Hopefully at Apple’s big media event next week, some brave journalist will stand out of the assembled masses of sycophant hacks and ask CEO Tim Cook some hard questions about security on the shiny new iDevices.