Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for July 2012

A New Class Of Security

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Click to enlarge. This graph outlines some of the key types of security attacker types and techniques that the 2011 IBM X-Force Trends Report identified as being most common. By the end of last year, the frequency and scope of these incidents persisted, and continue to bring awareness to the basic tenants of operating a business and protecting its assets in an increasingly connected world.

As hackers increasingly find new and nefarious ways to threaten the global digital infrastructure, recent policy advancements such as the proposed “Cybersecurity Act of 2012” in the U.S. have been introduced as solutions to the world’s growing cybersecurity problem.

While IBM accepts it is an imperative to properly secure critical systems, private sector advancements should be balanced with pragmatic legislative policies that avoid overly-prescriptive mandates that can inhibit the very innovation needed to ensure cybersecurity.

Consequently, IBM moved quickly and sent a letter urging the U.S. Senate to address flaws in the proposed cybersecurity bill.

According to IBM’s X-Force 2011 Trend and Risk Report, cyber attackers are adapting and moving quickly to target newer information technologies such as social networks and mobile devices. This rapidly evolving nature of cyber attacks necessitates a new approach to enabling cybersecurity.

Responding to the ever-changing nature and volume of attacks requires agility, risk-based management, and a commitment to innovative defensive measures. IBM supports bipartisan, cybersecurity legislation, but the “Cybersecurity Act of 2012” would add bureaucracy to a process that needs speed to succeed.

Government and industry would be best served by a common-sense approach to cybersecurity that allows for investment in R&D, improved information sharing between public and private sectors, better security for federal IT networks, and criminal penalties for cyber-crimes.

Industry Solutions To A Network Problem

Advanced threats, rapid adoption of social media, and Web applications have also been driving the need for new, intelligent approaches to security.

As employee access to the Web has become ubiquitous, enterprises are struggling with massive increases in malware as well as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), which can compromise proprietary data.

Many of today’s security solutions often offer limited visibility and control over network activity, which can put the company at risk.

To help clients proactively protect against evolving security threats, including those posed by social media sites and malicious websites, IBM today announced a new class of network security appliance that delivers a more granular view of a company’s security posture and a simplified security management interface.

This new next-generation intrusion prevention appliance helps clients address advanced attacks targeting their organization, providing visibility into exactly what applications are being used on the network, where users are going on the Web, with the ability to monitor and control this activity, which can result in improved security and reduced operational costs.

IBM Security Network Protection XGS 5000

IBM Security Network Protection XGS 5000 is a next-generation intrusion protection system specifically designed to address the constantly evolving, increasingly sophisticated threats that organizations face today.

It builds on the proven, core security features found in IBM Security Network Intrusion Prevention System, including helping protect against “zero-day” exploits, by adding new levels of visibility and control over the network, applications, data and users to help improve security by helping prevent misuse and identify previously undetectable threats.

IBM Security Network Protection incorporates global threat intelligence from X-Force, including a Web filter database of over 15 billion URLs — capable of monitoring and categorizing millions of Web servers and applications each day to provide superior protection against the changing threat landscape.

Gaining Control, And Visibility, Into Security Events

Once organizations are aware of the nature of activity on their network, the new application control features enable clients to have granular control over what is happening on their network; this means granular user and group-level control over which applications and Websites are permitted, and how they are used down to individual actions or activities within these applications and sites.

IBM Security’s Advanced Threat Protection Platform helps clients by providing the following features and capabilities:

  • Proven security to help protect against zero-day threats: enables preemptive protection against a full spectrum of advanced threats, including Web application attacks and exploits hidden in files. IBM’s protection engine is built upon years of security intelligence gathered by X-Force Research, and can stop entire classes of attacks — including new and unknown threats – without updates; most solutions available today match individual protection signatures — a process that can be too slow to stop evolving threats and can result in higher rates of false positives and false negatives.
  • Visibility and insight: provides application awareness, monitoring and control, with high level dashboards for drilling down into events and reporting. Also provides deep insight into the nature of activities on the network through broad application awareness and flow data analysis. Integrates with QRadar Security Intelligence Platform to provide even greater levels of insight including anomaly detection and event correlation.
  • Control: utilizes intelligence related to Web applications, Websites, and non-Web applications, including Web application and Web site coverage with over 15 Billion URLs across 68 categories and support for 1000+ applications and actions.

IBM Security Network Protection XGS 5000 will be available starting in 3Q12.

 About IBM Security

IBM’s security portfolio provides the security intelligence to help organizations holistically protect their people, data, applications and infrastructure. IBM offers solutions for identity and access management, security information and event management, database security, application development, risk management, endpoint management, next-generation intrusion protection and more.

IBM operates one of the world’s broadest security research and development, and delivery organizations. This comprises nine security operations centers, nine IBM Research centers, 11 software security development labs and an Institute for Advanced Security with chapters in the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific. IBM monitors 15 billion security events per day in more than 130 countries and holds more than 3,000 security patents.

A Deal In Cement

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IBM is partnering with global building materials company, CEMEX, to deliver business process and information technology services over a 10-year period.

CEMEX provides high-quality products and reliable service to customers and communities in more than 50 countries throughout the world.

CEMEX has a rich history of improving the well-being of those it serves through its efforts to pursue innovative industry solutions and efficiency advancements and to promote a sustainable future.

This agreement is expected to generate CEMEX savings of close to US$1 billion during the life of the contract. Additionally, it will improve the quality of the services provided to CEMEX; enhance business agility and scalability; maximize internal efficiencies; and allow the company to better serve its customers.

The 10-year services contract awarded to IBM is worth just over US$1 billion, and will include: finance and accounting, and human resource back-office services, as well as IT infrastructure, application development and maintenance services.

IBM currently delivers global scale, talent and technology based on business expertise and a global network of more than 70 Service Delivery Centers and more than 400 Data Centers, in 170 countries covering more than 40 languages.

To learn more about CEMEX, go here, and here to learn more about IBM’s services capabilities.

The Blackout In India

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To my friends in India, I hope you’re fairly weathering your blackout.

I was just reading through some BBC coverage which has reporters spread across northern India, including Utter Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.

The report suggests Calcutta was not as badly affected as other regions, because it has a private electricity board, but that power went out across the rest of West Bengal state.

Thus far, coverage suggests the power breakdowns in India are mainly in the north, the east, and the northeast, and that about 600 million people have been in affected in over 20 Indian states.

To put that in perspective for those of us here in the west, that would be like the power going out across all of the U.S. and all of the United Kingdom, at once.

Yes, just imagine that.

Obviously, there will be lots of fingerpointing until an investigation can get to the bottom of this, but in the meantime it demonstrates once again how fragile infrastructure can be, in both emerging and advanced economies.

In the Northeast blackout of 2003 here in the U.S., some 55 million U.S and Canadian citizens were impacted and some left without power for up to 16 hours.

Though there was no major civil unrest during that particular blackout, one need simply just read the Wikipedia entry of that event to remember how many “systems” were impacted: everything from transportation to healthcare to water supply.

In India, telecommunications are being particularly hard hit in this outage, because so many people there depend on mobile phone service for their communications.  Even if the cell towers have backup generators, many folks in rural India have no alternative method of recharging their cell phones once that primary charge dissipates.

Also, business process outsourcing companies such as Wipro, Genpact, WNS and others have “kicked in business continuity plans” to ensure continuity of services to global clients. Thus far, The Hindu Business Line is reporting that the IT-BPO industry, which accounts for over 7% of Indian GDP, are running their operations at centers in the north and eastern India using backup generators running on diesel.

The Wall Street Journal India has an “IndiaRealTime” blog where you can follow the latest on the India power outage.

REAL Coupons

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Anybody watch the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games from London?

I don’t know about you, but I rather enjoyed them, in a British humor sort of way.

The testament to the National Health Service was a bit out of left field, but Danny Boyles made even that fun.

As for the image of the Queen skydiving with James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) into Olympic Stadium…well, cue the Bond theme, and shake up a martini, please, Miss Moneypenny, as that was a surprise indeed!

Across the English Channel and a bit further east, IBM recently partnered with major German retail hypermarket chain, REAL, to bring about its own recent surprise.

IBM and REAL have partnered to launch a new electronic coupon system throughout REAL’s 320 German stores, a first-of-its-kind digital coupon system developed with IBM Research to enable consumers to use their mobile phones to find and redeem e-coupons as they shop in stores.

This new capability delivers a convenient and personalized service to shoppers, even if they forgot their paper coupons back at home.

The REAL Deal

REAL hypermarkets sell about 80,000 different items, from food to electrical appliances to clothing, and already were conducting the largest coupon program in Germany through the company’s “Payback” program.

In fact, REAL cites customer loyalty programs like Payback as an important part of their business strategy in the highly competitive German retail market.

The REAL coupon program enables in-store Payback members to use their mobile phones to browse online coupons as they walk through the aisles. Shoppers can choose their favorite coupons from the REAL homepage or a Payback app on their smartphones.

In a maximum of 500 milliseconds, the system confirms their choice and transfers an eCoupon to the store’s “3V – Value Voucher Validation” coupon system in real time.

To redeem the eCoupon, customers then display their Payback membership card upon check-out and the transaction is automatically processed.

Consumer Checkout

For REAL, this new electronic system offers a more personalized view of customers and the option to change coupon distribution in real time. Promotions can respond more flexibly to seasonal changes or fashion fads to appeal to ever-changing consumer tastes.

“In essence, we are simplifying and improving the coupon redemption process,” explained Bernd Hasenbank, Head of Point of Sale Solutions at REAL.

REAL expects that it will be receiving several hundred thousand eCoupon queries and eCoupon redemptions per day at the cash registers of it 320 stores. That is not an easy task for the underlying information technology (IT) architecture with a central server.

The new 3V coupon system at REAL is based on existing IBM solutions at METRO Group, which are compliant with the EPC Information Services Standard (EPCIS) of EPCglobal. The system is based on IBM InfoSphere Traceability Server, a high-performance data storage device, that is able to manage and analyze large amounts of data, integrate master data systems and provide data in real-time for internal and external applications.

If you’d like to learn more about IBM Smarter Commerce solutions, go here, and don’t forget the upcoming Smarter Commerce Summit to be held in Orlando, Florida, September 5-7. You can learn more about and register for that event here.

Written by turbotodd

July 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Let The Games Begin

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What a Friday.

The London Summer Olympic games are set to officially kick off with tonight’s opening ceremony. In the U.S., it actually starts at 4 PM EST, so get those DVRs ready to record.

I’ve been perusing the NBCOlympics.com Web site to try and get a better lay of the land, and I have to say, it’s a little overwhelming trying to figure out what to watch, what with all the social and livestreaming capabilities and endless broadcast coverage.

On the other hand, there’s a little something for just about everyone (and for me, that means soccer!)

London, I wish you all the best and will be watching from afar. Much as I love you, boy am I glad I’m not there trying to fight the crowds in person.

Uh, in the meantime, following up on that last post about waiting for the bugs to get worked out to upgrade to Mountain Lion?…well, he says sheepishly, I admit it, I have no self-control…I dropped by $20 in the Apple virtual till last night, and after about a gazillion hour download, was able to effortlessly upgrade my MacBook Air with the new Apple OS.

So far, I’ve had no pains whatsoever, and I think my machine actually runs that much smoother and faster with the upgrade.

I’ll reserve full judgement until I’ve had the opportunity to take it for a few more times around the block, but so far so good, and I haven’t even begun to play with the new toys yet.

Facebook Foes

I’m looking forward to the Facebook integration, which is expected in a Mountain Lion later update this fall.  I expect Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg might be looking forward to it as well, for after yesterday’s post-earnings announcement beating that Facebook stock took, Z’s probably ready for any good news to come his way.

All this Facebook smack talk, particularly in the mass media on TV shows like “Morning Joe,” makes me wonder if there’s a hidden conspiracy afoot. Are broadcast media concerned about Facebook’s growth and stickiness because, perhaps, it’s starting to steal time spent watching their TV programs, and, thus, swiping $$$ away from their bottom lines?

Facebook revenues were up 32% year-over-year, an increase that would be perfectly reasonable in most any other business, but for social media growth expectations have become over-inflated. When a property like Facebook grows from 100 million to 800 million in a few short years, you can presume at some point the growth will slow.

On the other hand, by having a user base where over 500 million of those consumers come back daily on average, it seems to me that’s a place where plenty of marketers would want to be.

What cable channel, offers up 500 million pairs of eyeballs on a daily basis?

Oh well, perhaps it’s time to look for other diversions on this Olympic Friday.

Tablet THINK

How about this one?

To celebrate centuries of science and technology innovations, IBM has reinvented its award-winning 2011 THINK exhibit at New York City’s Lincoln Center as a free interactive app for iPad and Android tablets.

Geared to tech fans and educators, the IBM THINK exhibit app is an “innovation time machine” that shows how early tools have evolved into modern advances that create healthier populations, greener energy and safer, less congested cities.

It includes all kinds of cool stuff, including an interactive timeline that chronicles the simple act of measurement since prehistoric times, as well as various stories of progress on everything from space exploration to weather prediction.

You can find the iPad version here, and the Android version here.

Written by turbotodd

July 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Unleash The Lion

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Today Apple released the latest version of its operating system, dubbed OS X “Mountain Lion,” which includes a more robust messaging capability, integrated dictation, expanded integration of social apps like Facebook and Twitter, and over 200 other new features.

Today’s the day Apple unleashed another wild cat out into the digital wild, this time in the form of Macintosh OS X “Mountain Lion.”

This release could be characterized as a more minor upgrade than that from “Leopard” to “Snow Leopard,” but still bears mentioning, particularly for all you Mac fan boys and girls.

Apple’s Web site for Mountain Lion asserts over 200 new features, including a new “Dictation” capability, which allows you to “talk anywhere you can type.”

Though this may seem pedestrian enough, as a Dragon Dictation user, I’ll look forward to giving this new integrated voice capability a test drive (and it’s certainly a deal, considering the $19.99 price tag for the upgrade, compared to the $100+ cost of full dictation products like Dragon Dictate).

Other notable features are the new and more integrated social applications supporting Facebook and Twitter. Now, you simply sign in once and your Mac can share to Facebook. Notification Center and Contacts also are now fully integrated.

Mountain Lion has similar capabilities for Twitter, allowing you to Tweet from key Apple apps (Safari, Preview, Finder, Photo Booth, Quick Look), and to more easily share links and photos from iPhoto.

Also notable, the new “Messages,” which allows you to send messages to anyone who has an iPhone, iPad, or iPod using iOS5 or later (or another Mac running Mountain Lion). This will also allow you to send iMessages to a phone number or email address associated with an Apple ID.

MG Siegler with TechCrunch has been previewing Mountain Lion for several months and blogs that “notifications are the most in-your-face and probably best new feature of Mountain Lion,” explaining that we’re used to dozens of apps alerting us to things. The Messaging app streamlines those messages into a more unified stream.

The details: Mountain Lion is available here in the Mac App Store, and for the princely sum of $19.99, you’ll be able to upgrade ALL your machines to ML.

Me, I’ll suffer the delayed gratification of waiting for the bugs to get cleaned up before I throw down my Mastercard.

Written by turbotodd

July 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm

New IBM Study: Enabling A Flexible Workplace

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What is work?

Click to enlarge. IBM’s recent workplace study revealed that 74 percent of CIOs prioritize flexible workplace investments over all other IT spend, with many forward thinkers seeing a 20 percent jump in productivity and 20 percent reduction in costs.

Is work a place? Is it something you do? Is it a combination of the two, or is it something else?

Those questions beg a larger one, particularly in our always-on, increasingly globalized business environment: What is the workplace?

Or, more specifically, what constitutes a flexible workplace?

IBM’s Center For Applied Insights recently conducted a study to try and better answer this question through a survey of 675 CIOs and IT managers of large enterprises in Australia, China, India, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.

The study was intended to gain perspective on the flexible workplace and to develop insight into what the most successful implementers of this workplace are doing that sets them apart.

Survey respondents suggested that such a flexible workplace is a new reality, with 74 percent of CIos and IT managers placing greater priority on the flexible workplace compared to other investments over the next 12 months.

The vast majority, in fact, expect to make significant investments across all the key attributes of the flexible workplace in the next one to two years.

More importantly, they expect these investments to yield productivity gains and enhanced security, and nearly half believe it will reduce costs and potentially increase revenues.

What Is A Flexible Workplace?

Today’s workplace is a virtualized and physical environment characterized by connections, collaboration, and user choice that enables the worker to be more agile and perform activities anywhere and anytime.

This redefinition of the workplace is the result of industry, demographic, and behavioral trends in technology and work habits. For example, with the introduction of smartphones, workers expect such tools that have enhanced their personal lives to play an increasingly important role in their business lives, a trend that poses important challenges and opportunities for the organization supporting the workplace.

The workplace study revealed that the most successful companies implementing the flexible workplace are reporting 20+ percent improvement in productivity and cost savings.

Facing The Challenges Of The Flexible Workplace

The study also revealed there are some important challenges that need to be met to accomodate the flexible workplace, most notably security and cost.

Security is seen as the most significant issue, but it’s also seen as a key benefit.

Improving colalboration is also key, with those organizations that leverage social business technology to strenghten two-way communication and sharing — amongst employees, partners, customers and vendors — becoming a competitive advantage.

In the attached infographic, you can see what the survey respondents highlighted as being key characteristics to becoming a more flexible workplace.

To learn more, register to download the full study results here.

Or, take this self-assessment to learn how your organization can increase its workforce productivity and reduce costs through enhanced and more flexible workplace development.

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