We need to rethink how we store our personal data

The data breach at credit reporting agency Equifax, the gory details of which became clear last week, is the latest installment in a series of cybersecurity disasters in which consumers have been at the receiving end of the miseries. The breached data affected the information of 143 million people. That’s not a big number when compared to some of the bigger data breaches of the past year, such as Yahoo’s 1 billion user account record breaker.

However, what made the Equifax breach especially damaging was the sensitivity of the data that attackers laid their hands on. This included Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card information, birthdates and addresses, and more. The only data breaches that compared in terms of severity were Anthem (approx. 80 million people affected) and the Office of Personnel Management (approx. 21 million people affected).

What makes matters worse is that Equifax professes to be a company that protects its customers from identity theft, the same kind of cyberattack that the stolen data will enable. The company is now scrambling to make amends with customers, and is getting ready to face several lawsuits. But that won’t bring back the data that has slipped through its fingers. Continue reading

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What happens to a smart appliance when its manufacturer dies?

Juicero smart-juicer device. Source: Juicero

Early this month, the widely ridiculed juice-squeezing company Juicer, which managed to raise the absurd amount of $120 million in funding from Silicon Valley investors, declared its shutdown. The startup’s demise, which is another manifestation of solutions to non-problems, also points out another endemic problem with our increasingly connected world: the fate of connected devices after the end of their companies.

20 years ago, when you bought a fridge or dishwasher or washing machine for your home, it wouldn’t make much of a difference to you if the company that created the appliance would go bankrupt or remained in business. You would install it in a corner in your home and let it work for years, until it was time to replace it.

Soon enough, that may no longer be the case, thanks to the increasing number of “smart” appliances that are entering consumers’ homes. Continue reading

The importance of ongoing tech education as a manager

By Southern Cross University

The rapid technological change that has occurred in the last decade has transformed every corner of our lives, from how we communicate with friends to the skills needed to navigate and prosper in the current labour market.

As Professor Ian Chubb, neuroscientist and former Chief Scientist of Australia, summed it up in 2013: “STEM is everywhere. Our nourishment, our safety, our homes and neighbours, our relationships with family and friends, our health, our jobs, our leisure are all profoundly shaped by technological innovation and the discoveries of science.”

The scale and pace of these changes poses challenges for those at all stages of the education and career ladder. For mid-career professionals moving into roles managing ambitious graduates with a higher technological literacy than their own, the challenges are perhaps greater than for any other cohort. In line with that, there is great opportunity for both tech education and management training. Continue reading

Redefining the DNA of the shopping experience—or trying to

People walk by the Amazon Go brick-and-mortar grocery store without lines or checkout counters, in Seattle Washington, U.S. December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Redmond – RTSUU23

By Alan O’Herlihy, Everseen

It’s easy to point to Amazon’s lack of experience in brick-and-mortar retail as an explanation for the difficulties it’s facing as it tries to launch Amazon Go. Retail is not for the faint of heart, so entering the space and trying to transform it seemingly overnight has inevitably resulted in some skepticism—and even a little bit of schadenfreude when the company missed its self-imposed, and highly publicized, launch date.

But the same can be said of many of the industries that Amazon has reinvented. Amazon had no business getting into books, video content, clothing, warehousing and delivery, etc. And yet it continues to redefine all of these, much to the dismay of early skeptics (not to mention, the businesses it has upended). Continue reading

Can (And Should) Self-Driving Cars Learn and Adapt?

Self-driving car

Guest post by Charles Bell (@csbell88)

Slowly but surely, smart devices are becoming a part of our everyday lives, and there’s a great deal of debate about it. People wonder how far it will go, whether or not it’s truly good for us, and what risks or benefits may not have become fully apparent yet. Some of these topics were covered in a recent article about the IoT and machine learning, as related to home functions and everyday applications. But another area in which machine learning is becoming a fascinating topic is where autonomous cars are concerned.  Continue reading

Where will the encryption battle between FBI and Apple lead to?

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If you haven’t heard about the ongoing encryption showdown that has pitted tech giant Apple against the FBI, you’re probably not living on planet Earth. But here’s a quick breakdown: The involved parties are at loggerheads over an iPhone 5c recovered during the investigation of the San Bernardino massacre last December.

FBI is asking Apple to help it break into the phone by developing a special version of its iOS operating system, which would enable the feds to bypass security measures that protect against brute-force attacks. Apple is vehemently denying the request, maintaining that doing so will compromise the security of all iPhones and the privacy of its consumers. Continue reading

The hard truths about the encryption debate

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In my latest piece in TechCrunch, I gave a full breakdown of the ongoing debate between government agencies and tech firms over whether consumer devices and software should be embedded with strong encryption technology, and if manufacturers should bake backdoors into their products to allow security agencies access to encrypted communications.

I had started work on the piece weeks ago, and by coincidence, the brutal Paris attacks came to pass just as I was about to submit the final draft. The tragic episode has added a new twist to this ongoing conflict, and now government officials blame secure apps and hardware – and their vendors – for providing terrorists with the right tools to keep their schemes hidden.

I’m not wont to give an opinion on such issues in my pieces, and what I detailed in the TechCrunch article was a pure analysis of the issue and a reiteration of the arguments that each of the parties involved put forth. In this blog post, I will give you the hard facts, which in my belief prove that blocking encrypted communications and installing backdoors on devices aren’t the way to stop such attacks from happening again. Continue reading