Turbotodd

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

Archive for June 2017

iPhone Shmyphone

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Apparently I missed the whole iPhone 10-year anniversary celebration thing yesterday.

Judging from my RSS feeds, though, there was a lot of fond remembrances of how much the iPhone changed the world, even if the original 2G phone connections were lethally slow.
In 2007, I was still a diehard BlackBerry user — my Bold took me around the world and back again, and it did email really, really well (and worked in just about every country I flew to).

But eventually I pried my cold, live hands from the BlackBerry keyboard and migrated to the iPhone. I’d already been a Mac user since…well, I won’t say when…and it only seemed logical.

I’m not one of those who holds the iPhone up on the altar of technology worship. Nor do I denigrate the iPhone because it’s presence has led to no end of human folly and absurdities due to its use or misuse. And don’t ask me to name any of them, because I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

No, for me, the iPhone is a tool, plain and simple. A wonderous one, one that allows me to stay in touch with people all over the globe at the touch of a button.

One that allows me to watch human calamity in real-time from afar.

One that allows me, for good and bad, to respond to work email from anywhere I have a data connection (which is almost everywhere, but not completely).

One that allows me to learn new things, entertain myself, buy stuff, take pictures and videos….we all know what it does for us, personally.

What it does for culture and society and the broader world? Well, I can make a strong argument that it brings us all closer together, but others would argue it does just the opposite, that it takes us further apart.

As with anything, and as with any technology, it’s really all relative and depends on your point of view.

As I look back on the first ten years of the iPhone, I force myself to remember that these devices are called “smartphones.”

Whether or not the iPhone (and subsequent smartphones) have made us any smarter is probably still up for debate.

Whether or not I would pretty much be lost without my own is not.

Are you paying attention to me? Are you still reading this?!

Look at me and stop looking at that damned phone!

: )

Written by turbotodd

June 30, 2017 at 9:06 am

The Petya Attack

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Another big ransomware attack is coming…has already arrived??

From The Verge: A major ransomware attack has brought businesses to a close throughout Europe, in an infection reminiscent of last month’s WannaCry attack. The most severe damage is being reported by Ukrainian businesses, with systems compromised at Ukraine’s central bank, state telecom, municipal metro, and Kiev’s Boryspil Airport. Systems were also compromised at Ukraine’s Ukrenego electricity supplier, although a spokesperson said the power supply was unaffected by the attack.

From Krebs on Security: A new strain of ransomware dubbed “Petya” is worming its way around the world with alarming speed. The malware is spreading using a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that the software giant patched in March 2017 — the same bug that was exploited by the recent and prolific WannaCry ransomware strain….Security firm Symantec confirmed that Petya uses the “Eternal Blue” exploit, a digital weapon that was believed to have been developed by the U.S. National Security Agency and in April 2017 leaked online by a hacker group calling itself the Shadow Brokers….Organizations and individuals who have not yet applied the Windows update for the Eternal Blue exploit should patch now. However, there are indications that Petya may have other tricks up its sleeve to spread inside of large networks.

The Guardian is reporting that “Victims of a major ransomware cyberattack that has spread through the US and Europe can no longer unlock their computers even if they pay the ransom.”

The New York Times on what we know and what we don’t.

And from IBM’s X-Force Exchange: Petya Ransomware Campaign.

Written by turbotodd

June 27, 2017 at 4:14 pm

American Airlines Migrates Key Workloads to IBM Cloud

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IBM announced that American Airlines will use IBM Cloud as the foundation for a massive cloud transformation designed to make internal processes more efficient, faster, and adaptable to better handle site traffic during high volume periods.

Building on the strategic cloud partnership signed with IBM in 2016, American Airlines will migrate to the IBM Cloud a portion of its critical applications, including aa.com, its customer-facing mobile app and its global network of check-in kiosks. In addition, other workloads and tools, such as the company’s Cargo customer website, will also be moved to the IBM Cloud.

“In selecting the right cloud partner for American, we wanted to ensure the provider would be a champion of Cloud Foundry and open-source technologies so we don’t get locked down by proprietary solutions” said Daniel Henry, American’s Vice President Customer Technology and Enterprise Architecture. “We also wanted a partner that would offer us the agility to innovate at the organizational and process levels and have deep industry expertise with security at its core. We feel confident that IBM is the right long-term partner to not only provide the public cloud platform, but also enable our delivery transformation.”
– via www-03.ibm.com

As part of the solution, American and IBM will work together to move critical applications to the IBM Cloud. In parallel, the two companies have teamed to rewrite these applications to the IBM Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS), and establish a cloud-native architecture. As part of this process, American will work with IBM Global Services to leverage IBM’s Garage Methodology of creating innovative applications quickly through a micro-services architecture, design thinking, agile methodology, DevOps, and lean development.

IBM Cloud will help enable developers to quickly build and change application functionalities for the airline’s customers. These customer-facing systems will be on the IBM Public Cloud, while American maintains backend connectivity to other on-premise legacy and third-party systems, for true Hybrid Cloud functionality.

You can more about IBM Cloud solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

June 27, 2017 at 9:58 am

Google To Scrub Out Private Medical Records

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Happy Friday.

Bloomberg is reporting that Google has “quietly decided to scrub an entire category of online content — personal medical records — from its search results.

On Thursday, the company added the line: “confidential, personal medical records of private people” to its policy page.

As Bloomberg observes, prior to that Google had only removed webpages with identifying financial information (credit card numbers) and content that violated copyright laws. Revenge porn was later added in 2015.

What led to the change?

According to Engadget, last December an Indian pathology lab mistakenly uploaded 43,000 patients’ blood tests, including their names and corresponding HIV test results.

Google indexed them all because, well, that’s what Google’s algorithm does.

Written by turbotodd

June 23, 2017 at 9:34 am

The Weather Channel Launches Advanced Global Radar App

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The Weather Company, an IBM Business, announced today that its consumer brand, The Weather Channel, has launched a new, highly advanced global radar app for iPhone and Android devices.

The Storm Radar App places the most accurate, detailed, and advanced weather and storm tracking data directly in the hands of individuals across the globe – providing them with the necessary information to help them prepare for safety when severe weather strikes.

Utilizing sophisticated forecasting models and leveraging over 800 data sources, as well as the expertise of over 160 meteorologists – the largest in the private sector – The Weather Company is able to generate hyperlocal forecasts for over 2.2 billion locations across the globe every 15 minutes.

Taking weather information to the next level, the Storm Radar App provides eight hours of high-resolution past-to-future radar data, over 20 map layers, as well as hyperlocal current condition and forecast information based on data collected from the company’s network of over 250,000 personal weather stations across the globe. The Storm Radar App helps prepare users for impending weather via customizable storm tracking and real-time weather data layers.

Features of the app include:

  • Global Future Radar: Two hours of animated past radar and six hours of cutting-edge, forecasted future radar across land and sea
  • Storm Tracks: Detailed analysis of impending severe weather, including storm arrival time, strength rating, detailed components of the storm (such as wind, hail, lightning, and tornadoes), the speed and direction of the storm, the precipitation rate, storm tracker data, and more
  • Hurricanes and Tropical Storms: Historical and forecasted paths, complete with wind speed, strength, arrival times, and the cone of uncertainty
  • Lightning: 100 miles of lightning data for the Continental U.S.
  • Local Storm Reports and Severe Weather Alerts: Local radar and global severe weather warnings and alerts from anywhere in the U.S. and around the globe from NOAA, National Weather Service (NWS), Environment Canada, and MeteoAlarm
  • Customizable Data Layers: Severe weather alerts, local storm reports, wind, temperature and precipitation overlays, earthquake info, and more

 

To help users prepare for the Atlantic hurricane season, summer thunderstorms and other seasonal severe weather around the world, The Storm Radar App is available for global audiences and is free to download on mobile devices within the App Store or Google Play.

Written by turbotodd

June 22, 2017 at 10:30 am

AOS and IBM Developing Logistics and Transportation Solution Using IBM Blockchain, Watson IoT

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IBM and AOS — a Colombian company specializing in providing business solutions — today announced they are collaborating to create a solution to enhance efficiency in the logistics and transport industry throughout the country, built on IBM Blockchain and Watson IoT on the IBM Cloud.

Traditionally, supply chain transactions are completed manually, creating delays and a higher risk for recording error, which can cause differences between what was recorded and what was actually loaded.

By digitizing this process using blockchain and IoT, the relevant information is captured directly from the sensors placed on the trucks, and entered onto the blockchain, creating a single, shared repository that all authorized participants can access and which can only be altered with consensus from all parties.

With the solution, once the truck leaves the distribution point, an automatic message is sent to the customer, informing them about the load, weight and estimated time of arrival. If part of the delivery is returned, the invoicing can be automated depending on the actual load delivered.

Also, through the sensors located on the trucks, an information repository is generated using IoT and blockchain, which tracks all the exchanges, stops and transactions made by each truck and its respective load, from the distribution point to the final customer. This heightened level of transparency can help increase accountability between shippers and their customers, promoting the flow of business.

The new solution also integrates Watson IoT, designed to monitor what is happening with the trucks. For example, the solution captures the input and output weight to define available capacityas well as in which silo and which person will carry the load; and that data is also correlated to external information, such as weather, humidity, temperature and driver’s data, to estimate delivery time to customers.

You can learn more about IBM Blockchain solutions here.

Written by turbotodd

June 21, 2017 at 8:30 am

IBM & Ponemon Institute: Cost of Data Breaches Dropped 10 Percent Globally In 2017

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IBM Security has announced the results of a global study exploring the effects of data breaches on business.

Sponsored by IBM Security and conducted by Ponemon Institute, the study found that the average cost of a data breach is $3.62M globally, a 10 percent decline from 2016.

This is the first time since the global study was created that there has been an overall decrease in the cost. According to the study, these data breaches cost companies $141 per lost or stolen record on average.

Analyzing the 11 countries and two regions surveyed in the report, IBM Security identified a close correlation between the response to regulatory requirements in Europe and the overall cost of a data breach.

According to the 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Overview, “compliance failures” and “rushing to notify” were among the top five reasons the cost of a breach rose in the U.S. A comparison of these factors suggests that regulatory activities in the U.S. could cost businesses more per record when compared to Europe.

For example, compliance failures cost U.S. businesses 48 percent more than European companies, while rushing to notify cost U.S. businesses 50 percent more than European companies. Additionally, U.S. companies reported paying over $690,000 on average for notification costs related to a breach — which is more than double the amount of any other country surveyed in the report.

Some additional findings from the report:

  • By Industry, Healthcare Breaches Most Costly: For the seventh year in a row, healthcare has topped the list as the most expensive industry for data breaches. Healthcare data breaches cost organizations $380 per record, more than 2.5 times the global average across industries ($141 per record.)
  • Top Factors Increasing Cost of a Breach: The involvement of third-parties in a data breach was the top contributing factor that led to an increase in the cost of a data breach, increasing the cost $17 per record. Organizations need to evaluate the security posture of their third-party providers – from payroll to cloud providers to CRM – to ensure the security of employee and customer data.
  • Top Factors Reducing Cost of a Breach: Incident response, encryption and education were the factors shown to have the most impact on reducing the cost of a data breach. Having an incident response team in place resulted in $19 reduction in cost per lost or stolen record, followed by extensive use of encryption ($16 reduction per record) and employee training ($12.50 reduction per record). 
  • Positive Impact of Resiliency Orchestration: Business continuity programs are significantly reducing the cost of a data breach. The overall average data breach cost per day is estimated at $5,064 in this year’s study. Companies that have a manually operated Disaster Recovery process experienced an estimated average cost of $6,101 per day. In contrast, companies deploying an automated Disaster Recovery process that provides resiliency orchestration experienced a much lower average cost per day of $4,041. This represents a net difference of 39 percent (or a cost savings of $1,969 per day).

You can download the full study results here.

Written by turbotodd

June 21, 2017 at 8:24 am

IBM Opens European X-Force Command Center In Poland

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IBM Security today announced the official opening of its modernized European IBM X-Force Command Center based in Poland.

The center has new cognitive capabilities, including IBM Watson for Cybersecurity, and expanded data localization services designed to help address clients’ preferences and GDPR requirements.

Located in Wrocław, Poland, the center joins the global network of IBM X-Force Command Centers, which process upwards of one trillion cyber incidents each month, helping to protect 4,500 clients across 133 countries.

This global network is staffed by over 1,400 security professionals who provide around the clock service to clients. The IBM X-Force Command Center in Poland builds upon IBM’s $200 million investment in incident response capabilities announced last year.

The key areas of focus for the IBM X-Force Command Center in Poland are supporting clients in responding to cybersecurity incidents and serving as the hub in the company’s global network for GDPR expertise and specialized services.

Through the center, IBM will be able to offer clients the option of managing their security data via IBM staff and infrastructure in Europe. IBM X-Force analysts and experts will also help clients with expedited incident response reporting, which could aid clients with the data breach notification requirement of the GDPR.

According to the 2017 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, which surveys cyber security trends, 2016 saw a dramatic increase in records compromised, from 600 million to more than 4 billion incidents of illegally acquired records, climbing 566% from 2015. 

Analysts warn that the problem will be exacerbated, as the number of incidents within the next 5 years is expected to double. These statistics expose the companies to hefty potential losses, with the average total cost of a data breach amounting to $4 million.

The newly-launched IBM X-Force Command Center in Wrocław is staffed by world-class security professionals who will use cognitive technologies like Watson for client services, including chat sessions and data delivery, as well as Watson for Cyber Security to quickly address cyber security events.

The new center has expanded its space by nearly three times, while client engagement spaces have also been modernized to include telepresence systems. IBM analysts will be working in a modern space designed to promote an agile work environment, including new workstations which enable better communication between employees.

Wroclaw Center’s services can now be provided under the EU delivery model, which implies that the client’s data will not be moved outside of the European Union.

For more information on or to arrange a visit to the IBM X-Force Command Center visit http://www.ibm.com/security/xforcecommand.

Written by turbotodd

June 19, 2017 at 9:09 am

Amazon Eats The Whole Food

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Since when did Fridays become M&A days? Did I miss a memo?

The big elephant deal in the room is Amazon’s acquisition of Austin’s own Whole Foods Market for a whopping $13.7 billion in an all cash transaction (what, no PayPal??).

Here’s what the two companies’ respective founders had to say:

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.” “This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO.
– via phx.corporate-ir.net

Also according to the press release, Whole Foods Market will continue to operate under the Whole Foods Market brand, and John Mackey will remain as CEO of Whole Foods Market. And their HQ will stay here in Austin.

The other deal was Walmart’s announcement that it had acquired Bonobos, a 10-year-old mens clothing brand that started as an online mens pants sales operation but later expanded into brick-and-mortar.

According to Recode, in that deal Walmart is paying $310 million in cash, and is offering $20M golden handcuffs to Bonobos co-founder and CEO Andy, along with other top executives.

Recode speculates that Walmat may end up selling Bonobos apparel less through Walmart stores or Walmart.com, and more through Jet.com, another shopping site it acquired for $3B that is aimed at an upmarket shopper.

At last count, Amazon’s stock was up 3.41 percent on the announcement of the Whole Foods acquisition, while Walmart’s stock was down 4.95 percent.

Written by turbotodd

June 16, 2017 at 9:49 am

LivePerson, IBM Watson Offer Combined Platform For AI, Bots To Advance Customer Care

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LivePerson, Inc., a leading provider of cloud mobile and online business messaging solutions, and IBM have announced LiveEngage with Watson, the first global, enterprise-scale, out-of-the-box integration of Watson-powered bots with human agents.

The new offering combines IBM’s Watson Virtual Agent technology with LivePerson’s LiveEngage platform, allowing brands to rapidly and easily deploy conversational bots that get smarter with each interaction, and lets consumers message those brands from their smartphone — via the brand’s app, SMS, Facebook Messenger, or even the brand’s mobile site — instead of having to call an 800 number.

The customer care sector has lagged behind consumers in terms of technology adoption, still requiring most interactions to be conducted by analog voice call. In fact, customers make more than 270 billion phone calls to customer support lines each year.

This legacy approach has not kept pace with the consumer move to smartphones and messaging apps, now the dominant way consumers communicate digitally. Forrester’s 2017 Customer Service Trends report revealed that “Customers of all ages are moving away from using the phone to using self-service — web and mobile self-service, communities, virtual agents, automated chat dialogs, or chatbots — as a first point of contact with a company” and, according to Dimension Data, while there has been a 12 percent decline in phone volume, there has been growth in every digital channel.

LiveEngage with Watson helps meet that demand – allowing consumers to message large brands from their smartphones and instantly get answers from AI-powered bots, with human care representatives brought in seamlessly, in real-time, if a bot is not able to resolve an issue satisfactorily.

The move will help enable millions of consumers to avoid the frustrating experience of legacy, voice-based customer support, which requires them to dial an 800 number, wait on hold, then talk to an agent, and often multiple agents over multiple phone calls.

LiveEngage with Watson gives brands the ability to customize bots based on their own unique corpuses of data — from product manuals to customer service guidelines — creating a personalized interaction that can be up and running as quickly as in a few days. These bots can be informational, personalized, and transactional — quickly addressing the most commonly raised customer service issues such as taking bill payments and finding contact information — while bringing in human expertise when necessary to drive effective customer engagement.

“Providing customer care over 800 numbers is not just extremely costly — it is a poor and antiquated experience for consumers,” says Robert LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson. “Nobody likes waiting on hold. This partnership between IBM and LivePerson marries the technology and services to solve the problem at scale. We’re working with top brands in the telecoms and banking space right now to get this done, moving customer care away from costly, analog voice calls with frustrating hold times and toward consumer-friendly mobile messaging. We’re thrilled to form this partnership. No other company but IBM brings this sophistication of cognitive technology and breadth of supporting consulting and implementation services.”

As business decisions continue to be made with the help of AI, customer care will be no different. IBM Global Business Services, the company’s consulting unit, is providing a set of strategy and implementation services to help companies integrate LiveEngage with Watson as part of their broader business transformation.

By building experiences that learn, and adapt, into core processes, companies can deliver better engagement with customers. Together with LivePerson, IBM plans to operate a Cognitive Care Center of Excellence to help enable brands to drive this change at scale. 

You can learn more about IBM Watson here.

Written by turbotodd

June 15, 2017 at 3:31 pm

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