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Tag Archives: United States

Microsoft Funded Study Determines Cloud Computing Is fueling Global Economic Growth.

The LSE study selected two industries, aerospace and smartphone services, and examined the impact of cloud computing on these  industries across the UK, USA, Germany and Italy between the years 2010 and 2014. The LSE study was underwritten by Microsoft.

Investing in cloud computing is contributing to growth and job creation in both the fast-growing, high-tech smartphone services industry as well as the longstanding and slow-growth aerospace sector, the study claims. In addition, cloud is directly creating employment through the construction, staffing and supply of data centers, which will host the cloud. Using cloud computing enables businesses of all sizes to be more productive by freeing managerial staff and skilled employees to concentrate on more profitable areas of work.

There will be a new range of employment opportunities opening up as a result of the shift to cloud as well. As the study points out, “as firms shift from proprietary application servers towards virtualization and cloud computing, related skills will be in demand among employers. New direct hires and upskilling for public cloud enablement result in higher-than-average salaries.”

Of the countries analyzed in the study, the US is leading the way in terms of cloud job creation. US cloud-related jobs in the smartphone sector are set to grow to 54,500 in 2014. This is compared to a projected 4,040 equivalent jobs in the UK. The authors of the study say that this can be attributed, in part, to lower electricity costs and less restrictive labor regulation compared to Europe.

Small to medium-size businesses will benefit as well. In the smartphone sector alone, “cloud computing will form the basis for a rapid expansion and high-start-up rate among SMEs 2010-2014 in all four markets in services,” the study says.

The study also shows that there is in fact little risk of unemployment from investing in the cloud, as companies are more likely to move and re-train current staff. This would be alongside the hiring of new staff, likely to be in a higher salary bracket, who have the necessary skills for using virtual data-handling systems.

But researchers found that the level of impact the cloud has on a business or department’s growth and productivity depends on a number of factors, primarily the type of sector in which the business is involved and the regulatory environment in which it operates.

Unsurprisingly, the cloud has a much greater effect on the web-centred smartphone services industry than traditional high tech manufacturing, with expansion and a high-start-up rate among small and medium size businesses in 2010-2014 forecast.  For example, in the UK from 2010 through 2014, the rate of growth in cloud-related jobs in the smartphone services sector is set to be 349%, compared to 52% growth in aerospace. German, Italian and US equivalent growth rates will be 280% vs 33%, 268% vs 36% and 168% vs 57% respectively.

The study’s authors, Jonathan Liebenau, Patrik Karrberg, Alexander Grous and Daniel Castro, also talk about the direct and indirect employment and business opportunities that will stem from cloud, which may not be apparent at first. “Our analysis shows jobs shifting from distributed data processing facilities to consolidated data centers, resulting in a drop in data processing jobs overall as efficiency gains occur especially through public cloud services,” they write. “We see a reduction in IT administrators within large firms in smartphone businesses (and most likely in many other similar sectors) compared to their level of employment otherwise expected by taking into account overall IT spending.”

They add that direct and indirect employment gains will be seen in the construction of new data centers needed to accommodate the public cloud businesses, and an “unanticipated effect is in job creation of site maintenance, janitorial staff and security guards in newly built data centers. Overall, more than 30% of short-term new employment in cloud services originates from the construction of data centers and outfitting them accounts for around another third.” Almost 25% of new jobs accrue from direct employment in public cloud services firms, they add.

Then there’s the “cloud dividend” that enterprises will see as the cloud infrastructure develops. These gains will be “in the form of…continue reading at source.

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Predator and Reaper Drone Virus Hits U.S. Fleet.

By Noah Shachtman

A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones.

The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech’s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system.

“We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back,” says a source familiar with the network infection, one of three that told Danger Room about the virus. “We think it’s benign. But we just don’t know.”

Military network security specialists aren’t sure whether the virus and its so-called “keylogger” payload were introduced intentionally or by accident; it may be a common piece of malware that just happened to make its way into these sensitive networks. The specialists don’t know exactly how far the virus has spread. But they’re sure that the infection has hit both classified and unclassified machines at Creech. That raises the possibility, at least, that secret data may have been captured by the keylogger, and then transmitted over the public internet to someone outside the military chain of command.

Drones have become America’s tool of choice in both its conventional and shadow wars, allowing U.S. forces to attack targets and spy on its foes without risking American lives. Since President Obama assumed office, a fleet of approximately 30 CIA-directed drones have hit targets in Pakistan more than 230 times; all told, these drones have killed more than 2,000 suspected militants and civilians, according to the Washington Post. More than 150 additional Predator and Reaper drones, under U.S. Air Force control, watch over the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. American military drones struck 92 times in Libya between mid-April and late August. And late last month, an American drone killed top terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki — part of an escalating unmanned air assault in the Horn of Africa and southern Arabian peninsula.

But despite their widespread use, the drone systems are known to have security flaws. Many Reapers and Predators don’t encrypt the video they transmit to American troops on the ground. In the summer of 2009, U.S. forces discovered “days and days and hours and hours” of the drone footage on the laptops of Iraqi insurgents. A $26 piece of software allowed the militants to capture the video.

The lion’s share of U.S. drone missions are flown by Air Force pilots stationed at Creech, a tiny outpost in the barren Nevada desert, 20 miles north of a state prison and adjacent to a one-story casino. In a nondescript building, down a largely unmarked hallway, is a series of rooms, each with a rack of servers and a “ground control station,” or GCS. There, a drone pilot and a sensor operator sit in their flight suits in front of a series of screens. In the pilot’s hand is the joystick, guiding the drone as it soars above Afghanistan, Iraq, or some other battlefield.

Some of the GCSs are classified secret, and used for conventional warzone surveillance duty. The GCSs handling more exotic operations are top secret. None of the remote cockpits are supposed to be connected to the public internet. Which means they are supposed to be largely immune to viruses and other network security threats.

But time and time again, the so-called “air gaps” between classified and public networks have been bridged, largely through the use of discs and removable drives. In late 2008, for example, the drives helped introduce the agent.btz worm to hundreds of thousands of Defense Department computers. The Pentagon is still disinfecting machines, three years later.

Use of the drives is now severely restricted throughout the military. But the base at Creech was one of the exceptions, until the virus hit. Predator and Reaper crews use removable hard drives to load map updates and transport mission videos from one computer to another. The virus is believed to have spread through these removable drives. Drone units at other Air Force bases worldwide have now been ordered to stop their use.

In the meantime, technicians at Creech are trying to get the virus off the GCS machines. It has not been easy. At first, they followed removal instructions posted on the website of the Kaspersky security firm. “But the virus kept coming back,” a source familiar with the infection says. Eventually, the technicians had to use a software tool called BCWipe to completely erase the GCS’ internal hard drives. “That meant rebuilding them from scratch” — a time-consuming effort...continue reading at source.


The United States of Text Message Spam. Infographic

Take a look at this interesting infographic on Text Messaging statistics in the U.S.  created by the graphics team at Tantango.com


Text Message Marketing by Tatango.

Commercializing Stretchable Silicon Electronics

A Stretchy Sensing Tool for Surgery

Monday, March 7, 2011
By Katherine Bourzac

A new surgical tool covered in stretchable sensors could reduce the time required to map electrical problems in the heart from over an hour to just a few minutes. The tool could be one of the first commercial applications for an innovative method for making dense arrays of stretchable, biocompatible electronics using high-performance materials including silicon. The tool, which senses temperature and electrical activity, could also lead to better monitoring during other types of surgery, potentially reducing the rate of complications.

Putting such devices on a stretchy surface is not possible using conventional electronics manufacturing. The stretchable silicon electronics used were developed by John Rogers, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and a cofounder of MC10, a startup that is commercializing the technology. Researchers at MC10 are leading the development of the catheters and are also developing the electronics for other applications.

The surgical tool has performed well in animal tests designed to mimic a disorder called atrial fibrillation. This results from electrical problems in the heart tissue around the pulmonary vein, which carries blood back to the heart from the lungs. The condition, in which the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beating, is seen in over 2 million Americans, and in 15 percent of all people who have strokes. Atrial fibrillation is difficult to control with drugs, and the drugs that are used, including blood thinners, can have serious side effects. But the problem can be corrected with surgery. First, surgeons map the source of the electrical problem with a probe, and then they knock out the electrical trouble spots by heating and damaging those tissues.

The new multifunctional surgical tools could help speed this surgery, lowering the risk that something will go wrong.

Mapping electrical activity in heart tissue is conventionally done using a tool called a balloon catheter—a soft, inflatable probe fitted with one or two electrodes. The catheter is moved back and forth over the damaged tissue, taking thousands of electrical readings one at a time, and these become the basis for a map of electrical activity. But the process is time-consuming—in the case of some fibrillations it takes over an hour.

continue reading…

Ze Frank’s web playroom

Very inspiring TED.com talk.  It’s nice to run across a video like this after crunching code and designing over the last few weeks.

“On the web, a new “Friend” may be just a click away, but true connection is harder to find and express. Ze Frank presents a medley of zany Internet toys that require deep participation — and reward it with something more nourishing.  You’re invited, if you promise you’ll share.”
Check out the video:



Facebook takes top spot for social networking-related malware infections, followed by YouTube and Twitter

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

Image via Wikipedia

Thirty-three percent of SMBs have been infected by malware propagated via social networks; 23 percent cited employee privacy violations on popular social media sites.

Thirty-five percent of SMBs infected by malware from social networks have suffered financial loss.  Facebook takes top spot for social networking-related malware infections, followed by YouTube and Twitter

      ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire

      Panda Security, the Cloud Security Company, today announced the results of its first annual Social Media Risk Index for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The study, which surveyed 315 US SMBs with up to 1,000 employees throughout the month of July, revealed that 33 percent of these companies had experienced a malware or virus infection from social networks, with 23 percent citing employee privacy violations resulting in the loss of sensitive data.  In addition, thirty-five percent of survey respondents that were infected by malware from social networking sites suffered a financial loss, with more than a third of those companies reporting losses in excess of $5,000.

      “Social media is now ubiquitous among SMBs because of its many obvious business benefits, yet these tools don’t come without serious risks,” said Sean-Paul Correll, threat researcher at Panda Security. “In Panda’s first annual Social Media Risk Index, we set out to uncover the top SMB concerns about social media and draw a correlation to actual incidence of malware infection, privacy violations and hard financial losses. While a relatively high number of SMBs have been infected by malware from social sites, we were pleased to see that the majority of companies already have formal governance and education programs in place. These types of policies combined with up to date network security solutions are required to minimize risk and ultimately prevent loss.”

      Social Media Benefits Outweigh Concerns

      According to the survey, SMB’s top concerns with social media include privacy and data loss (74 percent), malware infection (69 percent), employee productivity loss (60 percent), reputation damage (50 percent), and network performance/utilization problems (29 percent). However, these concerns are not deterring SMBs from reaping the business benefits of social media as 78 percent of respondents reported that they use these tools to support research and competitive intelligence, improve customer service, drive public relations and marketing initiatives and directly generate revenue. Facebook is by far the most popular social media tool among SMBs: Sixty-nine percent of respondents reported that they have active accounts with this site, followed by Twitter (44 percent), YouTube (32 percent) and LinkedIn (23 percent).

      Facebook Emerges as Top Source for Malware Infections

      Facebook was cited as the top culprit for companies that experienced malware infection (71.6 percent) and privacy violations (73.2 percent). YouTube took the second spot for malware infection (41.2 percent), while Twitter contributed to a significant amount of privacy violations (51 percent). For companies suffering financial losses from employee privacy violations, Facebook was again cited as the most common social media site where these losses occurred (62 percent), followed by Twitter (38 percent), YouTube (24 percent) and LinkedIn (11 percent).

      Social Media Governance and Education Are Prevalent Among SMBs

      To minimize the risks associated with social media, 57 percent of SMBs currently have a social media governance policy in place, with 81 percent of these companies employing personnel to actively enforce those policies. In addition, 64 percent of companies reported having formal training programs in place to educate employees on the risks and benefits of social media. The majority of respondents (62 percent) do not allow the personal use of social media at work. The most common disallowed social media activities include: Playing games (32 percent); publishing inappropriate content on social media sites (31 percent); and installing unapproved applications (25 percent). In addition, 25 percent of companies said that they actively block popular social media sites for employees, mainly via a gateway appliance (65 percent) and/or hosted Web security service (45 percent).

      Survey respondents included individuals involved in setting and/or enforcing policies related to network activities at 315 SMBs within the United States. A slideshow on the study’s results is available at: http://bit.ly/cD9wX4.

      UPS includes Social Media in its first global B2B campaign.

      United Parcel Service logo (2003-present)

      Image via Wikipedia

      September 13, 2010

      UPS launched its first global business-to-business campaign, “We Love Logistics,” on September 13 to emphasize its breadth of services. The campaign includes direct mail, print, TV, digital, social media and out-of-home and targets business decision-makers.

      The company worked with Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, its global advertising agency of record, on the effort, as well as the agency’s specialist units. UPS hired Ogilvy last October.

      “Logistics became the focus as a way to articulate everything we do,” said Betsy Wilson, director of global advertising at UPS, which has acquired more than 40 companies in the past decade to bolster its services. In addition to package delivery, UPS offers trucking and air freight, retail shipping and business services, customs brokerage, finance and international trade services.

      UPS is first launching the campaign in the US, UK and China, followed by Mexico on September 20. It will run the effort in 25 countries.

      The shipping company also created a dedicated microsite, www.thenewlogistics.com, which contains downloadable case studies of some clients, including electronics company Toshiba and plumbing product company Toto USA, said Maureen Healy, VP of customer communications at UPS. There is also a corresponding Facebook fan page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel, she said.

      Wilson said the company will measure customer engagement and business impact.

      “[We want to emphasize] UPS has a way to partner with clients and bring value to your business through our integrated network,” said Healy.

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