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7 questions to ask yourself as a business owner after 150 million individuals have their data leaked

150 million individuals have their data leaked by a Fitness App. Data leaks are a common issue that continues to go on and on. Each time more and more money and time is lost by people, companies, and governments in fixing, patching, strengthening and understanding why it went wrong this time.

Let’s look at the positives on the latest data breach

  • The data breach was reported to all users within 4 days of the hack being discovered, and that was only a month after they believe it occurred
  • The passwords were all stored using encryption, although some the encryption was a lower level than it could have been.
  • Only usernames emails and encrypted passwords were exposed, no personal information such as date of birth, credit cards, height or weight

As yet the Under Armour (who own the MyFitnessPal app) have yet to confirm the cause, although speculation is that it was due to user clicking an infected email attachment. User training on security is becoming more and more important, if you don’t have a training program for your team that is run at least annually you are putting your customers at risk. As firewalls and antivirus and spam detectors have become more and more robust, the hackers are also adapting with more and more elegant and creative ways to get the link to the user.

Things to think about as a business

  • If you allow any (and we mean any) employee to connect their own device to your wifi, is that wifi separate from the corporate network ?
  • If you have any corporate mobile devices, are you monitoring the patch, firewall and antivirus status of the devices, what access to other physical ports are allowed?
  • What intelligent devices do you have on your network that are connecting and talking with the outside world, are they on a separate network ?
  • Are there any physical network cabling / ports in public places, are they disconnected or protected ?
  • How are you monitoring the training of staff on their security awareness, is cybersecurity awareness part of a new starters induction ?
  • Consider unwanted people that might enter the building, are staff aware of which doors should be kept closed ?
  • How would you detect a data breach ?

If you don’t have the answer to these 7 questions our security consultancy services are available to assist.

#telanovaReporter

How your phone is leaking data in the physical world.

If you own a modern (post 2012) phone, then you may have had a pop up at some time on your phone when in a shop or cultural or leisure centre. It may be that you found the pop up on your phone useful, you clicked it and it led to an webpage of the place you were in and gave a coupon or information for the location.

What you may not have known is that same technology can also being used to track your movements. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) works by transmitting data to your phone over a very small distance (generally less than 7m). This is very useful in museums for instance, to tell you which room you are in and provide you with a map and information. In doing so your phone tells the beacon your MAC address (one of your phone’s unique identifiers).

Your mac address can thus be tracked as you move around the area covered with the transmitters, not all beacons will cause a popup, but it will receive your MAC address regardless to allow the tracking.

What’s the impact for the business? Tracking how people move around and where they stop allows for better product placement and keeping the flow moving. What’s the impact for you ? Tracking anonymous MAC addresses could mean that you do or don’t get offers depending on how often you are in the building. Imaging a regular shopper getting no offers, but a new shopper (new phone) being given the option of a voucher to help them become a customer.

Will you be keeping your Bluetooth on next time you enter a location, or turning it off to go stealth mode ?

#telanovaReporter

What’s your brands reach, count the logos?

There are a number of uses for knowing what, where and how many images of your company’s logo are out on the internet. Until now the ability to know this information has been poor, and detection systems not of the greatest quality.

Recent research has been carried out and has tested the different methods of detection and the results of each, and also the results when using combined detection systems. The results have been published and as the methods get absorbed into the software and search engines, there will be a significant change in the data available to businesses.

Searches for the logo could be used to identify where a logo shouldn’t be being used, or to see what the penetration of a logo is in a certain area, eg. country domain etc.

The research by Hang Su, Shaogang Gong, Xiatian Zhu into Scalable Deep Learning Logo Detection brought the comparably low (SL2 W/O CE) 28.9% to 46.9% (Co Learning (YOLO)(SL2) The Co learning Faster R-CNN method coming in at a close 44.2%

So if you’re looking to tell what impact your new logo has reached in the cyberspace, that answer may soon be at the tip of your fingers.

#telanovaReporter

Back on the road with Deep Reinforcement Learning at the Traffic lights

When you’re next waiting at the traffic lights, you may be wishing you were in China, thanks to the research being done by Xiaoyuan Liang, Xusheng Du, Guiling Wang, and Zhu Han. They have been working on deep reinforcement learning for traffic.

Decreasing the pollution created by and energy wasted by vehicles waiting at traffic lights could be a real game changer. Even the smallest gain of 1 or 2 percent could see serious changes to the environment.

While there have been previous studies into using Deep Reinforcement Learning to control traffic signals, Xiaoyuan Liang and teams research takes it further with a Convolutional Neural network effectively on top, creating a proposed whole network called Double Dueling Deep Q Network (3DQN)

And the results were good. They calculated the average cumulative waiting time as the measurable result. And in both rush hour and normal traffic rate situations the system reduced the waiting time by over 20%.

Next time you are at a council meeting, maybe you could raise the new options available to the county planners, a 20% cut in pollution is surely worth investment.

#telanovaReporter

The IT Productivity Paradox and how to fight it.

 

"You see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics" - Robert Solow


It doesn't make sense, does it? The fact that even though we live in the most advanced technological breakthrough in the history of mankind, we should see an exponential curve in productivity; but we don't. It has even been argued to be in decline. With the birth of global communication and easily accessed off-the-shelf technology and software that is designed to maximise efficiency, it's hard to believe that this is the case.

But it is. Matt Richel, for the New York Times, writes, “statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused."

He goes on to explain that the big Silicon Valley firms have a monster of their own creation wrecking havoc in the productivity statistics, with employees checking emails up to 77 times a day, with mundane tasks taking up large amounts of time e.g. group emails and attachments. According to Basex, the United States alone loses up to $650bn a year due to unnecessary tasks and delays that could potentially be remedied by more efficient IT systems being implemented.

So what on earth is going on?

The answer is actually remarkably simple and is known as The Productivity Paradox, which has taken countless victims over the years. It is the unusual observation that despite further investment in IT technology to improve productivity, worker efficiency has hardly budged. This is not an anomaly however; the same technology 'paradox' has been seen before in the early 20th century.



Put yourself back to 1881. You work in a dark, humid and hot factory powered by a steam engine. The sound of mechanical machinery is deafening. Labour turnover is at an all time high due to dangerous working conditions and disease. Then, out of nowhere, Thomas Edison arrives to save the day with his brand new electrical motor! You would of thought businesses would of jumped straight onto it, no?

Wrong.

By 1900, less than 5% of factories used electrical power and instead opted for the traditional method. It took until the 1920s, over 40 years, for 50% of factories to use electrical technology. From this, we can see that despite new and exciting technology that could revolutionise the way we think and work, we still hesitate to use it - and for quite some time.

Why? Because change is difficult and stagnation is easy.

We as humans are hardwired to resist and fight change. And so, with such a radical change needed to push through required electrical motor legislation (or in this case, computer technology) and despite us knowing the immediate and long term benefits of adopting a 'new way' to do things, it's still uncomfortable for us because it will completely upend the way we think - which is understandable to an extent.

But in truth, we all need to get over ourselves and take the initiative. We live in a world of easily accessed software that is a click away. Think of it this way - you have a document you need to distribute and get multiple colleagues to append. Would your business send it on Google Documents, with live editing powered by the cloud and automatic saving? Or would your business use the same method that has been around since the 1990's, requiring all users to send you a separate document and for you to compile it all together manually? 

Now ask yourself - which of these solutions is the steam engine and which is the electrical motor?

If your business is using the steam engine, telanova is at hand to help you join the IT Revolution. 

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