Communication and coding named the most-learned subjects on LinkedIn in 2019

Communication and coding named the most-learned subjects on LinkedIn in 2019


All age groups took advantage of LinkedIn Learning courses in 2019, but each generation had a different focus.

How to attract the top millennial tech talent
Millennials are more vocal than previous generations in asking for what they want from employers.

Communication was the No. 1 learned topic across all regions of the world in 2019, and coding dominated two generations’ main focus areas, according to data from LinkedIn Learning on Wednesday. Used by 93 million people worldwide this year, LinkedIn Learning offers more than 15,000 subscription-based online courses taught by real-world professionals, the data found. Through the courses, students can either freshen up their current skills, or gain new ones. 

SEE: Why IT pros need soft skills to advance their careers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Professionals of all ages took advantage of LinkedIn Learning’s online courses, but different age groups had different goals, according to the data. 

Top courses for career starters 

Career starters, or employees with two years or less of work experience mainly focused on becoming skilled developers. These young professionals watched 2x more content on programming languages than the average learner, consuming 47% more hours of content and 50% more courses than their colleagues further along in their careers, the data found.  

The findings outlined the following top courses career starters watched in 2019: 

However, the younger generation wasn’t the only age group interested in developer content. 

Top courses for Baby Boomers 

Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, were also interested in developer content. However, they weren’t as avid in their interest, soft skills in communication and leadership rounded out their other focuses, the data found. 

The findings outlined the following top courses Baby Boomers watched in 2019:

Top courses for Millennials 

The top courses for Millennials, individuals born between 1981 and 1994, covered the widest range of topics out of any generation. However, a lot of the course material focused on becoming more data-driven, the data found. 

Millennials watched 1.2x more content on data driven skills like data visualization, statistics, and data modeling than the average learner. Both Millennials and Gen Xers spent 22% more time on advanced learning compared to their Gen Z counterparts, according to the data. 

The findings outlined the following top courses Millennials watched in 2019: 

Top courses for Gen X 

Gen X, people born between 1965 and 1980, took a step away from technical skills and looked toward leadership skills, the data found. 

According to the data, Gen Xers consumed 1.5x more content on executive leadership than the average learner. This generation also did most of their learning on mobile devices, surprisingly, even 39% more than their Gen Z colleagues.

The findings outlined the following top courses Gen X watched in 2019: 

Top courses learned by managers and C-suite pros 

Gen X wasn’t alone in their leadership interests. Managers, in particular, focused on soft skills, with an emphasis on people management 32% more than other colleagues. They also consumed 2.3x more content on executive leadership skills and 1.8x more on talent management, mentorship, and coaching than the average learner, the data showed. 

The findings outlined the following top courses managers watched in 2019: 

As for C-suite professionals, they made up 64% of the population using LinkedIn Learning. The data clarified that these C-suite professionals are most likely entrepreneurs, running a company with 50 employees or less. 

The entrepreneurial C-suite was 3.2x more focused on how to raise capital or how to pitch to investors, compared to the average learner. This group did a lot of their learning after hours too, with 23% more reportedly taking courses on weekends compared to the average learner, the data found. 

The findings outlined the following top courses C-level employees watched in 2019: 

Across age groups and employee levels, learning had a large presence in 2019, indicating the efforts employees take to improve their skills in today’s enterprise. 

For more, check out The 20 fastest-rising and sharpest-declining tech skills of the past 5 years on TechRepublic.

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Stay cybersecure when shopping for the holidays

Stay cybersecure when shopping for the holidays


Common sense and a careful backup plan are just a couple of the ways to be prepared for online and traditional dangers during the season.

Marketing to Gen Z: How retailers are reaching consumers this holiday season
TechRepublic’s Bill Detwiler interviews Salesforce’s Rob Garf, VP of Industry Strategy and Insights, at Dreamforce 2019, about how retailers are trying to reach buyers during the 2019 holiday season.

Even if you’ve barely drawn breath since Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals filled your inboxes, you’re not out of the shopping woods just yet. 

The holidays are only days away; although the days never come soon enough for those under 10, the average adult is lamenting how quickly the need for even more shopping looms ominously above. 

SEE: 10 ways to raise your users’ cybersecurity IQ (free PDF)

Pretty on the outside only

No matter how anxious or stressed you’re feeling, the first big bit of advice is a sensible one. Do not be swayed by the great marketing ads that populate your social media pages. The ads may look good, but never click and buy without doing your due diligence.

Beware of clicking on links delivered to your email

“During the holiday season, a phishing attempt may come via an email with a link to a fake website built to steal your personal information,” said Chris Duvall, senior director at The Chertoff Group.

 “Exercise caution in refraining from clicking on such links and downloading files from unknown sources—also beware of emails or websites with typos and grammatical mistakes, which are common characteristics of phishing attempts,” he added.

Look up the name of the company proposing to sell you some coveted item and see what kind of feedback they’ve gotten from review pages.

Read the lowest (one) star first, so that you have an idea of what might be going on. Granted, it may seem, in general, like the first ones to complain and dole out a bad review are written by those for whom criticism is a daily thing. But if you continue to read, you’ll get a sense of mutuality.

For example, if you’re looking to get a shower radio, and the majority of the one—and two-star reviews state that the volume control knob comes off too easily, then that’s probably what’s wrong with it. The same can be said for ads touting great bargains. Be sure to read the fine print. 

Assess website security

Duvall advised: “Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar, or a URL that begins with ‘https’ as opposed to ‘http,’ with the ‘s’  standing for ‘secure.’ Some browsers will even indicate whether it’s safe for you to give out your credit card information by showing you a green address bar, while unprotected ones will be red.”

Be skeptical of suspiciously low prices

“While big sales are a holiday trademark, if a price seems ‘too good to be true,’ then it probably is,” Duvall said. “Compare prices for the same items on other websites. If the price is drastically lower, then it is probably a scam designed to acquire your information.”

Deals can be dicey

The holidays are defined by gift-giving, whether for genuine sentiment or obligation, and you may be eager to jump on the deals. 

Monique Becenti, product and channel specialist with the website security company Sitelock, says proceed with caution.

“With the great deals available, shoppers may be tempted to click on third-party links offering coupons or promotions,” Becenti said. “A shopping holiday means there is vast opportunity for cybercriminals to try to steal shopper information through spoofed sites, malicious coupon code links and phishy marketing campaigns.”

Be on the lookout for fake shopping apps

“Hundreds of fake retail apps designed to steal your credit card information are popping up in Apple’s App Store and Google Play,” Duvall warned. “Make sure to download the legitimate version of retail apps by downloading it directly from a store’s website, or by thoroughly checking user reviews if downloading from an app store.”

Prioritize shopping at trusted sites and do your research

Duvall said: “On the internet, some websites are created by people just wanting to steal your information. To avoid this pitfall, shop at retailers you are familiar with and have used before. If you want to purchase an item from an unfamiliar retailer, do some research first.

“Consider checking out the company’s social media following, customer reviews, its record at the Better Business Bureau, and even contact the business directly. When buying from online marketplaces like eBay, thoroughly review the seller’s reputation, assess the item description carefully, read comments, and even ask the seller direct questions before buying.”

Never use that ‘other’ card

While you may have the best intentions, such as avoiding using your credit card too much, don’t use your debit card, either.

Yes, when you want to return an item to a company like Target or Old Navy or Nordstrom, having a card number, credit or debit, in their “system,” makes it much easier when you don’t have a receipt, as they can look you up through your card.

That’s a convenience for those who lose their receipts easily and pay in cash, but it’s a convenience you could and should do without.

With debit cards, while regulated by the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, it’s easier for fraudsters to hack your account. You also are subject to more liability. If you report an issue with your debit card within two business days, your liability is only $50, but after two days, leaps to $500. Credit card liability is limited to $50.

And, if a bartender or hotelier wants to ensure you have the funds to pay them, your debit coin may be on hold, whereas with credit cards, it is instantaneous. Debit cards are also not beneficial to travelers, you won’t get points or credits, and lastly, they won’t help you rack up rewards. Use your debit card for what it’s best and intended for: the ATM and cash withdrawals. 

Handling a hacking

If you’re unlucky enough to be hacked, Becenti said, there are steps to take. “Affected consumers should start by changing usernames and passwords for any connected accounts. If you can implement two-factor authentication, do so.”

“For website owners keen on avoiding a similar fate, enacting security plugins that will monitor your site for suspicious activity, ensuring your website software is always up to date, and utilizing parameterized queries are all key steps to take to keep your data secure,” she added. “It’s also important for businesses to evaluate the cybersecurity practices of their partners.” 

The key to being cybersafe is to not shop rashly, take time to not only ensure you’re getting the best deal, but to give yourself time to do even the most minimal of searching for the company online, never use your debit card, and on-ground, be sure your card has been returned to you by the cashiers. 

Here are 7 tips

1. Don’t rush and don’t let “time-sensitive” sites bully you into buying things quickly. If you are on a site you don’t know and haven’t ordered successfully from, open another browser window and look the seller up. You can put the name of the seller and “review” and you are very likely going to get helpful feedback.

2. Be on the lookout for spoofed sites, malicious code links and too-good-to-be-true marketing campaigns. 

3. If it’s available to you, opt for two-step verification. Use the cybersecurity available to you.

4. Don’t use a debit card for anything but the ATM.

5. If shopping at a store, make sure you get your card back, and put it back into the same place in your wallet right away. 

6. If you suspect you’ve been hacked or lost your card, call the company as soon as you can. One way to ensure you have all the necessary numbers is to keep your CC information admins in your phone contacts, using a simple pneumonic or device you’ll easily figure out and you’ll have handy.  

7. Some stores are open very late. The discount chain shop Ross is open throughout the holidays until midnight (or even later in some locations). That said, and if you have to actually set foot in a shop, be sure you  go with someone. Don’t park far away from the store entrance (that’s where the security guards will be, too). And be aware of your surroundings. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings if you get a weird vibe and don’t want to share an elevator. Wait for the next elevator car. 

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Java and JavaScript dominated software development in the 2010s

Java and JavaScript dominated software development in the 2010s


Ruby and PHP had short-term popularity but long-term impact, and Python is on the rise again.

The mindset of software developers is changing, and employers need to take note
Princeton Professor Ed Felten believes software developers today are looking to make a positive change in the world, and employers need to understand their needs.

Over the last 10 years, Python had two spikes of popularity while Java, JavaScript, C#, and SQL dominated software development. TechRepublic looked at the numbers and talked to a dozen professionals to understand which languages had the biggest impact on the industry. 

Developers favored a few other languages briefly during the 2010s, including Ruby, Swift, and PHP. Java and JavaScript, however, had the biggest impact.
 
This review includes three measures of popularity:

  • The Tiobe Index based on search queries 
  • Developer surveys from Stack Overflow
  • Languages used in technical interviews from Karat 

The Tiobe Index tracks the popularity of programming languages from month to month and year to year based on search queries. The Programming Language Hall of Fame lists the language that had the highest rise in rankings each year:

  • 2018 – Python
  • 2017 – C
  • 2016  – Go
  • 2015 – Java
  • 2014  – JavaScript
  • 2013 – Transact-SQL
  • 2012  – Objective-C
  • 2011  – Objective-C
  • 2010  – Python

Briana Brownell, founder and CEO of the analytics company PureStrategy.ai, said that Python has had the biggest impact in the data science community.

“Machine learning is fast becoming a mainstay of technology, and Python is way ahead in terms
of scientific computing and data analysis,” she said.

Jeff Rouse, vice president of product at ActiveState, said that Python strikes the right balance between ease of use and functional capability.
 
“At the start of the modern AI revolution (circa 2010), Python was suddenly the best candidate to bring machine learning out of academia and into mainstream businesses,” he said. “The result has been an explosion in intelligent automation that has transformed key parts of multiple industries, from fraud detection to customer support (via chatbots/digital voice assistants) to spam filters, and supported solutions are now part of most people’s daily lives.”

Asking developers directly

Stack Overflow has been tracking developers’ habits and coding preferences since 2011 with annual surveys. The first Developer Survey got 2,532 respondents. That year the hot topics were job satisfaction and smartphone wars. In the 2012 survey, the most popular languages were SQL, JavaScript, CSS, C#, and Java. In 2013, SQL was at the top of the list and PHP joined the top 5, replacing CSS. By the middle of the decade in 2015, JavaScript was at the top of the list. 

Transformify CEO Lilia Stoyanov said PHP has had a big influence over the last decade, even if it is already considered outdated. She said many of her clients come to Transformify for help hiring  developers who can work in PHP. 

“It is a widespread language, it’s easy to find developers, and the pay rates are lower,” she said. “I don’t believe that PHP will disappear anytime soon.”

In 2019, almost 90,000 developers took the Stack Overflow survey and the top five list among professional developers looked like this:

  1. JavaScript     70%
  2. HTML/CSS    63%
  3. SQL               57%
  4. Python           39%
  5. Java               39%

The same five languages ruled the top four spots from 2013 to 2017: JavaScript, SQL, Java, and C#. In 2018, HTML and CSS pushed out C# and Python. 

SEE: Implementing DevOps: A guide for IT pros (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

A cybersecurity researcher and software engineer, Akshay Sharma, said that Java and JavaScript had completely changed the industry in many ways.

“JavaScript made ‘serverless’ architecture possible with languages like NodeJS and AngularJS. Previously, one would’ve never even imagined using a client-side language to serve the purposes of a back-end server,” he said. “This led to not only creation of new jobs but a new way of ‘thinking’ on the programmer’s part when conceptualising software projects: recycling the same technologies but using them for a different purpose.”

Bryan Becker, product manager at WhiteHat Security, said there’s no sign of Java ever going away.

“You can complain as much as you want about Javascript but a lot more people know programming now, which is a good thing,” he said.

Venkat Venkataramani, co-founder and CEO of Rockset, said that SQL is still the language of choice for developers building data-driven applications.

“It is annoying to write custom code in order to glue together a data pipeline and it is also notoriously difficult to learn a bunch of domain-specific query languages for different NoSQL databases,” he said. “Turns out the killer feature that is missing from NoSQL systems is SQL, and this explains the renewed interest in SQL.”

Testing technical skills

The Stack Overflow surveys reflect the languages people are learning and using on the job. The next set of data reveals the data job candidates use during a technical interview.

Karat manages the interview process for companies hiring software engineers. Karat trains experienced engineers to conduct technical interviews and to use an interview platform to record the interview, capture a candidate’s code, and create structured feedback. 

SEE: More Decade in Review coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Karat shared these stats from the last three years that reflect language use in technical interviews conducted in a given month.

The company’s VP of Engineering Zach van Schouwen said that Java and Python are the most popular languages for candidates in technical interviews, in part because these languages are most frequently taught in university computer science classes. JavaScript, C#, and C++ tend to be used by more experienced or specialized programmers, so they don’t see the same bumps in the fall interview cycle.

These stats reflect the languages a job candidate used during a technical job interview to complete an assigned task.

screen-shot-2019-12-03-at-8-54-09-pm.png

These stats reflect the languages a job candidate used during a technical job interview to complete an assigned task.

Image: TechRepublic

Van Schouwen said that the reason for the rise of Python is that it tends to be a preferred language for AI/ML-focused and cloud-native programmers compared to Java. Another reason for Python’s rise in popularity is that it’s a really succinct language. 

“Verbosity is a factor that can trip up engineering candidates using a language like Java—it just takes longer to get through code in a timed environment,” he said.

Josh Vickery, SquareFoot’s vice president of engineering, said that when he graduated in 2002, the dot-com bubble had just burst and he spent nights reverse-engineering the framework he was supposed to be using.

“The market has changed a lot since then; now people are learning frameworks on the job,” he said.

Vickery said when SquareFoot, a real estate technology company, recently started building with Python, he budgeted self-directed learning to bring staff members up to speed.

“A reasonably experienced software engineer can learn on the job without coming to a complete standstill,” he said. “Also, this is the first time I chose a language based on hiring potential.”

SEE: Decade in tech: What stood out or fell flat in the 2010s (ZDNet)

Improving security

Alexandre Rebert, co-founder and developer at ForAllSecure, a cybersecurity company, said that an important development in the last decade has been an even stronger focus on security and a push to replace memory unsafe languages like C and C++. 

“This explains, in part, the rise of memory safe languages, like Python, Java, C# or the rise of Go in infrastructure tooling,” he said. “More importantly, Rust has introduced a fundamental new approach to memory safety, offering an alternative to garbage collection for memory management. While still young, the safety concepts introduced in Rust are likely to be a strong influence in the coming decade.”

Becker said the shift left trend is encouraging more developers to use languages that are secure by design. 

“It is really, really hard to program something in Rust that is not secure,” he said.

SEE: Decade in Review 2010 – 2019 (CNET)

Other influential languages

Although Ruby and Ruby on Rails do not show up at the top of any of these lists, the language had an impact on the industry. Stephen Fiser of Central Standard Technologies said that what made Ruby on Rails so successful was the concept of “convention over configuration.” 

“Rails pushed the idea that if you stick to simple naming conventions, there is very limited need to configure the set up,” he said. “You can just type a few simple commands and have an entire basic app up and running. This led to massive improvements in efficiency which is essential to launching new products.

Becker also named Ruby and Ruby on Rails as an influential language.

“It was the first framework that was easy to use and that changed web development forever,” he said.

Quinn Slack, co-founder and CEO of the code intelligence company Sourcegraph, said that the most influential programming language of the last 10 years is the multi-language application.  

“Previously, developers would spend years writing code in a single language,” he said. “Now, their applications are a mix of the best frontend language (like TypeScript), the best backend language (Go), the best high-performance language (Rust), the best language for machine learning components (Python) and the languages for mobile applications (Swift, Kotlin, Objective-C, Java, etc.).”

What about the future?

Transformify CEO Stoyanov said recently employers have been looking for blockchain developers and machine learning experts. Employers want people with experience to fill these roles, which is a challenge because the technology is relatively new. Stoyanov predicts this shortage will last at least three more years.
 
“It is much harder to learn machine learning vs. traditional programming languages – it’s not for everyone,” she said. “PHP and Java could be mastered by people with mid-level math skills but machine learning requires advanced math and logic skills.”

Becker of WhiteHat Security is a fan of Rust and believes that Go and Python will continue to be popular.

“Security tools are built in Python and Go—those are great languages to be skilled at,” he said. “Also, Web Assembly is growing in popularity, everyone is excited to see where it is going.”

Rouse at ActiveState, an open source languages company, said Go is a great choice for developers who are interested in making a long-term investment in a language for their long-lived applications.  

“It scales exceedingly well for web services and Go is ideally suited for building a microservices architecture,” he said.

Vlad Ionescu, chief architect at the software company ShiftLeft, sees a need to go back to strongly typed languages to improve security and make maintenance easier. Although it’s easy to build a prototype faster with JavaScript, Python, and Ruby, it’s harder to maintain the code base long-term, he said.

Ionescu names Go and TypeScript as good examples of taking the learnings from both older languages and newer languages and not repeating the same mistakes.  

Calvin French-Owen, co-founder and CTO of Segment, a data integration company, said Golang and Typescript are both rising in popularity.

“Golang is one of those influential languages that has quickly become the ‘swiss army knife’ of building servers and distributed systems and I believe it’s poised to replace most other languages when it comes to concurrent programming,” he said. “TypeScript will help developers tackle programming challenges at scale.”

Vickery of SquareFoot said if you like what you’re doing right now, there’s no reason to pick a new language.
“If someone’s paying you to do it now, there’s probably 10 more people who want to pay you to do it, too,” he said.

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Top 5 things to know about cyber insurance

Top 5 things to know about cyber insurance


With cyberattacks escalating, it truly is becoming a lot more and far more critical for corporations to safeguard on their own. Tom Merritt lists five factors you should really know about cyber insurance.

Major 5 factors to know about cyber insurance plan
With cyberattacks growing, it is turning into additional and a lot more important for businesses to secure themselves. Tom Merritt lists 5 points you ought to know about cyber coverage.

Cyberattacks are obtaining larger, and paying money on stability is likely turning out to be your prime priority. Cyber insurance is developing and turning into not just an option, but a necessity for some businesses. Here are five issues to know about cyber insurance.

SEE: Mastermind con guy behind Catch Me If You Can talks cybersecurity (TechRepublic download)

  1. Cyberattacks are now the top enterprise issue. A 2019 Worldwide Cyber Danger Notion study (PDF) done by insurance consultancy Marsh and tech big Microsoft found that cyberattacks conquer out financial uncertainty, brand destruction, and governing administration regulation, so which is severe.
  2. Far more corporations have cyber insurance policies than ever before. 47% of corporations surveyed say they have cyber insurance plan now–that is up from 34% in 2017. By 2020, the gross written rates for cyber insurance is envisioned to be just considerably less than $8 billion.
  3. Income will make a variance in your insurance determination. 57% of businesses with revenues of extra than $1 billion experienced a cyber insurance coverage coverage, as opposed with 36% of firms with revenues considerably less than $100 million. And 63% of organizations that categorical cyber possibility economically have cyber insurance policies, as opposed to 46% of individuals who evaluate cyber threat qualitatively or not at all.
  4. The top rated danger protected by cyber insurance looks to be business enterprise e-mail compromises. AIG mentioned electronic mail compromises accounted for 23% of all cyber-insurance statements in the EMEA location in 2017, adopted by ransomware.
  5. Not all cyber insurance policies statements are paid out. Drug maker Merck and foods large Mondelez are equally suing insurance plan suppliers about nonpayment for damages from the NotPetya virus in 2017. NotPetya was deemed by many insurance plan companies as “an act of war.”

We’ll know cyber insurance plan has seriously made it when it receives some variety of mascot–like a duck.

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The 10 most important cyberattacks of the decade

The 10 most important cyberattacks of the decade


After a number of devastating breaches and hacks, the sheer size of data lost is no longer the only indicator of severity.

Video: 3 billion reasons to change your passwords
Yahoo’s parent company Oath revealed recently that 3 billion user accounts were exposed in the 2013 hack. TechRepublic’s Brandon Vigliarolo explains what you should do now to stay secure.

Since 2010, billions of sensitive files, personal information and account details have been leaked thanks to devastating hacks and damaging breaches. 

As more sensitive personal data has made its way online, the size and impact of breaches has steadily increased throughout the decade. Attacks have hit almost every sector and show no signs of slowing down as more people are forced to entrust the safety of personal information to various websites.

SEE: Special report: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“For me, the largest hacks of the decade are not just the ones that were the biggest, but the ones that were game-changers in how we approach security. If we had this talk 10 years ago, we would be blown away by the numbers, but now, the numbers don’t really affect us that much,” said Etay Maor, chief security officer at the cybersecurity firm IntSights.

“All of a sudden, we’re in the age of career-ending or career-altering hack. Honestly in 2011, if you had a hack with over a million credentials, everyone would lose their mind,” Maor said. “Today, you probably won’t even read about hacks that happen with a couple million credentials stolen.”

The most important hacks since 2010

Yahoo – 2013
Yahoo deserves the first mention because of the sheer size of its breach and the damaging effect it had on the company’s ability to compete as an email and search engine platform. 

In 2013, all three billion of Yahoo’s accounts were compromised, making the breach the largest in the history of the internet. It took the company three years to notify the public that everyone’s names, email addresses, passwords, birth dates, phone numbers and security answers had been sold on the Dark Web by hackers. 

Security experts say the Yahoo breach is notable because of how it was mishandled by the company and the devastating effect it had on Verizon’s $4.8 billion acquisition. Yahoo initially discovered that a breach occurred in 2015 exposing 500 million accounts. 

It was later confirmed by American security agencies that the attack was perpetrated by a group affiliated with the Russian government. While looking into the 2015 attack, Yahoo officials realized more than one billion accounts had been exposed in the breach. 

The company then admitted in 2017 that all of its accounts had been breached. Verizon removed nearly $400 million from the buying price and signed an intricate deal that allowed both companies to share the financial liabilities associated with the breach.

Equifax – 2017
The size of the Equifax breach pales in comparison to the value of the data exposed to hackers. As one of America’s largest credit bureaus, the company had the most sensitive data on hundreds of millions of people. 

Hackers gained access to the information of 143 million Equifax customers, including their names, birth dates, drivers’ license numbers, Social Security numbers and addresses. More than 200,000 credit card numbers were released and 182,000 documents with personally identifying information was accessed by cybercriminals.

Equifax’s CEO, Richard Smith, was forced to testify at four hearings before Congress, where he asserted that one employee was responsible for failing to process a necessary update.

“Equifax would probably rank as the most careless given that it as due to an unpatched Struts vulnerability, which might have been prevented using even the most rudimentary protection measure,” said Ameesh Divatia, co-founder and CEO of the cybersecurity firm Baffle.
 
It was later revealed that hackers were able to gain access to passport information from affected Equifax users. The Government Accountability Office released a detailed report about the breach. 

SEE: More Decade in Review coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)
 
Sony Pictures – 2014
The hack of Sony Pictures in 2014 made the news for a bunch of reasons that made it different from most breaches. The situation originated with the controversial Seth Rogen film The Interview, which revolves around a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The North Korean leader was incensed by the film and his government threatened to attack US theaters if the film was released.
 
Sony tried a number of things to quell the controversy, agreeing to recut the movie to make it less offensive and push back the release date. Because of the threats against theaters, executives eventually decided to pull the film from theaters and release it digitally. 
 
This did little to calm North Korean anger about the film and in November 2014, a group that the FBI later said was tied to the North Korean military apparatus attacked Sony Pictures’ servers, wreaking havoc on the company’s internal systems. Some Sony executives, and even Rogen himself, still question whether it was truly North Korea that was behind the attack, hinting at either a disgruntled insider or the Russian government. 
 
While Sony feared the leak of its films, what ended up hurting the company most were the millions emails of film executives discussing their true feelings about some of the world’s biggest movie stars.
 
The attack also launched North Korea into international prominence, kickstarting a new generation of small countries punching above their weight through devastating, yet low-cost, cyberattacks. 
 
Charity Wright, cyber threat intelligence adviser at IntSights, worked for the NSA in the Asia-Pacific theater and said previously, North Korea had mostly focused efforts on attacking South Korea and Japan.
 
“The Sony hack was incredible because it really showed the world that North Korea can hack legitimately. They are legit. They really put themselves on the map as a legitimate threat actor with that hack,” Wright said. 

Gossip sites spent months digging through the nearly 200,000 emails of Sony executives, highlighting negative comments about stars like Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kevin Hart.

Marriott Hotels – 2018
The Marriott Hotel breach was massive both because of the amount of data exposed and the sensitivity of the information accessed.

According to The Washington Post, hackers breached the reservation systems of Starwood Hotels, which was bought by Marriott in 2016 for $13.6 billion. The cybercriminals behind the attack had an astounding four years to move within the Starwood system, which includes the Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, St. Regis, Four Points, Aloft, Le Méridien, Tribute, Design Hotels, Element, and the Luxury Collection.

Hackers gained access to the names, credit cards, addresses and passport numbers of millions of people who stayed at the hotels between 2014 and 2018. 

At first, Marriott said the number of people affected was 500 million but revised that number down to 383 million after an investigation.

“Marriott was significant in that it attacked databases and the content was protected at rest, which demonstrated that traditional database protection methods do not adequately protect sensitive data records,” Baffle’s Divatia said.

SEE: Decade in tech: What stood out or fell flat in the 2010s (ZDNet)

Ashley Madison – 2015
While the information leaked in the hack of discreet extramarital dating website Ashley Madison was not financially significant, its cultural footprint was very wide. More than 30 million email addresses and hundreds of credit cards were leaked in the attack.

The hack also set off months of marital disputes that came from spouses searching for their partner’s email address in the leaked database of Ashley Madison. 

Debate raged online about the ethics of news outlets reporting on famous people and politicians found in the company’s files. There were reports of hackers extorting people based on the information found on the site, demanding people pay a ransom in exchange for hiding evidence of affairs.

In 2017, the company settled a lawsuit filed by users for more than $11 million, but that did little to quell the social furor over the information and messages found on the website. The aftermath was said to have life-altering implications for some.

Police in Toronto attributed two suicides to information that came from the leak and a pastor in New Orleans wrote a suicide note detailing the fear and embarrassment he felt about being implicated in Ashley Madison leaks. The hack was one of the first to lead to real-world deaths.

Target – 2013
The attack on Target is one of the biggest to hit a major retailer and involved a point-of-sale system that was compromised by malware.

The breach highlighted a problem that would come to dominate the cybersecurity conversation for the rest of the decade: third-party partners. Hackers gained access to Target’s systems through a heating and air-conditioning contractor working for the company.

With their access, the cybercriminals got payment card details for more than 40 million Target customers. The company was forced to admit that the number was even larger, with the actual amount of impacted customers reaching 110 million. 

The attack had a devastating effect on Target, forcing the CIO to resign months after the attack and the company reported that it lost more than $160 million due to the breach.

Both Divatia and Maor said the hack was notable because it became the first of many major breaches involving third-party systems or companies.

SEE: Decade in Review 2010 – 2019 (CNET)

Capital One – 2019
In July, Capital One bank acknowledged that from 2005 and 2019, hackers were able to access the personal information of 100 million Americans and six million Canadians. 

According to the bank, cybercriminals obtained the information from a trove of credit card applications, including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income. 

Capital One also said credit scores, limits, balances, payment history and about one million Canadian Social Insurance numbers, as well as 140,000 American Social Security numbers were also seen by hackers.

Unlike most of the hacks on this list, the culprit behind it was caught and charged in court. Paige Thompson, a former Amazon Web Services employee, posted on GitHub about the attack and was charged in August for the massive breach. Thompson was arraigned in September and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The United States Office of Personnel Management – 2015
The hack conducted by the Chinese government on the United States Office of Personnel Management is one of the largest attacks to ever hit the government in the country’s history.
 
While officials initially estimated that the records of four million current and former government workers were released, a later analysis found that 21 million records were accessed. The trove of data even included information from background checks on people who were never hired by the government.
 
The forms accessed by hackers had detailed information about candidates’ family members, college roommates, foreign contacts and psychological information. They also stole millions of Social Security numbers, names, dates, places of birth and addresses.
 
The group also stole a database with nearly six million fingerprints, endangering government officials across the world. 
 
Donna Seymour, CIO for the Office of Personnel Management, was forced to retire because of the scandal and Katherine Archuleta, the director of OPM, resigned. It was later revealed that Chinese government hackers had access to OPM systems for more than a year before they were caught. 
 
First American Financial – 2019
Billion-dollar real estate title insurance company First American Financial had one of the biggest leaks of 2019, exposing 885 million files dating back more than 15 years.
 
The breach was exposed by the security reporter Brian Krebs, who wrote a lengthy blog post explaining how the massive insurance company exposed millions of mortgage deals, which featured bank account numbers and statements, mortgage and tax records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts and drivers license images.
 
He was tipped off by a real estate developer who discovered that you could access any of the company’s documents just by changing the URL link. Although it is unclear whether any of the information was accessed and used, First American immediately took down the entire website.
 
Stuxnet – 2010
The Stuxnet attack, allegedly perpetrated by the governments of the United States and Israel, was relatively minor in its effects but has had wide-ranging implications that will become evermore important in the next decade.

It was one of the first examples of government-led cyberattacks that could destroy physical systems and structures, setting off a growing cascade of attacks that are increasingly blurring the line between military cyberattacks and cyberattacks affecting infrastructure systems.

The Stuxnet worm destroyed Iran’s 984 uranium enrichment centrifuges, essentially ruining most of its nuclear program by specifically targeting Siemens SCADA systems. 

Outside of a few headlines, the attack had little impact on the US. But it kicked off a decade of attacks by dozens of countries that aimed to destroy architecture systems.

The Russian government later used similar tactics during their alarming 2015 attack on Ukraine. For the first time in history, a government was able to shut down another country’s power grid through a cyberattack. Stuxnet and the attack on Ukraine opened the door to increased efforts by adversarial countries to include cyberattacks in their arsenal of military weaponry.

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How Salesforce’s Einstein Call Coaching uses AI to help sales reps be top performers

How Salesforce's Einstein Call Coaching uses AI to help sales reps be top performers


Einstein Call Coaching empowers inside sales managers to build stronger teams and gain strategic AI-powered insights from every sales call through a new channel: Voice.

How Salesforce’s Einstein Call Coaching uses AI to help sales reps be top performers
Einstein Call Coaching empowers inside sales managers to build stronger teams and gain strategic AI-powered insights from every sales call through a new channel: Voice.

At Dreamforce 2019 in San Francisco, TechRepublic’s Bill Detwiler spoke with Efrat Rapoport, director of product management with Salesforce, about Einstein Call Coaching. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

More about artificial intelligence

Bill Detwiler: One of the concerns with artificial intelligence is the effect it will have on jobs, and that’s why I’m really excited to be here at Dreamforce 2019 speaking with Efrat Rapoport about Einstein Call Coaching. So Efrat, tell me a little bit about your role at Salesforce.

Efrat Rapoport: My name is a Efrat Rapoport; I was the CEO and co-founder of the Bonobo AI, which was acquired by Salesforce exactly six months ago. We’re based in Tel Aviv, Israel. We have a great, great team. It’s actually one of the fastest growing hubs of Salesforce.

SEE: The ethical challenges of AI: A leader’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

I was personally always very fascinated by languages, by speech, by the way people choose to construct sentences. You can really learn a lot about people or about customers, in our use case, if you just listen, and today we’re very, very happy and proud to unveil Einstein Call Coaching.

When we designed this product, we constantly had the sales manager in mind. Now think of yourself as a sales manager–you have a team of sales reps out there, they’re making calls, they’re receiving calls, they’re engaging with customers all day long, and very often these calls are the very first interaction customers have with your brand. How do you make sure, as a sales manager, that you’re making the most out of every single call, and how do you coach and support your sales reps to make the most out of every single call?

We’ve talked to many, many sales leaders across different domains, and they all seem to agree that it’s impossible to do this without the help of artificial intelligence, and more specifically conversation intelligence. Today, we’re unveiling Einstein Call Coaching, and this product does exactly that. It gives sales managers the insights, the visibility, they need into every single call. It gives them insight into trends that emerge from calls with customers, such as which competitors are being mentioned in conversations, how are we positioning different products, how are we handling objections, and much more. That’s the product in a nutshell.

Bill Detwiler: This is a little different than what people usually think of when they think of AI and Voice for customer service. Oftentimes, it’s the caller, the customer, dealing with an automated system on the other end. This is really interesting to me because it’s using artificial intelligence, natural language processing, Voice, to help coach humans, to help managers of call center reps make better decisions, produce better outcomes for customers. What was it that drew you to that path when it came to Voice as opposed to just developing another automated call center application?

Efrat Rapoport: There are many, many different use cases for Voice and for speech analytics. We’re really thinking about the experience of the sales manager, and as you said, we’re here to give sales reps what they need to become top performers. We’re here to give sales managers what they need to become informed decision makers at the company.

When you look at the product–if I have to break it down into three different pillars–number one, we have visibility, so we give managers control and visibility into every single call. For the first time we bring this data into Salesforce, the number one CRM, so you can now play calls, listen to them.

Number two, it’s not always enough because how do you even know where to start? How do you find the needle in the haystack. You have so many calls every day, hundreds and thousands, and this is why we’re introducing key moments, and these are the parts in the call that you do not want to miss. They could be a mention of a competitor, mentions of cancellations, upsell opportunities, anything that you are interested in as a sales manager we surface, and then you can jump to the relevant 10 seconds and not listen to the whole call.

Bill Detwiler: What you’re describing is a system where the AI can pick out that key moment from a call without the manager having to go through and listen to the entire call, and pick out that moment where you did a good job, or maybe you missed an opportunity to address a customer issue. Is that right?

Efrat Rapoport: Exactly. This is exactly what we do. And then we get to number three: we can save these calls for future reference for people who would like to learn and improve themselves. So now you can, as a manager–let’s say we have a wonderful call where we listen to one of our top performers handle a pricing objection, and we want to save this call for future reference. We can add it to a library, and then you can access this call as a sales rep, listen to how the objection handling was done, and you’re empowered and you’re better.

Bill Detwiler: Let’s talk a little bit about Voice in general. Salesforce has been incorporating Voice in so many of its products and services, its platforms. You have Einstein Voice, and now we have Einstein Call Coaching. Where do you see Voice going in the future?

Efrat Rapoport: I think that Voice is the new frontier. I think it was clear this morning in the opening keynote that Salesforce is really doubling down on Voice. We’ve seen Call Coaching; we’ve also seen Service Cloud Voice, Einstein Voice, Einstein Voice Builder. These are very exciting times. There’s a lot of demand from customers, and it’s really good to be leading the way and innovating towards the next generation of voice.

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Salesforce’s IdeaExchange gets a customer-centric revamp

Salesforce's IdeaExchange gets a customer-centric revamp


Salesforce’s Jenny Sacks recommends that companies embrace customers’ negative feedback and frustrations. During the recent update of Salesforce’s IdeaExchange, the community’s input was critical.

Salesforce’s IdeaExchange gets a customer-centric revamp
Salesforce’s Jenny Sacks recommends that companies embrace customers’ negative feedback and frustrations. During the recent update of Salesforce’s IdeaExchange, the community’s input was critical.

At Dreamforce 2019 in San Francisco, TechRepublic’s Bill Detwiler spoke with Jenny Sacks, senior director of customer and market insights at Salesforce, about the company’s IdeaExchange. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Bill Detwiler: When it comes to designing products, it’s always important for companies to put the customer at the center of that process. I’m excited to be here and talk to Salesforce’s Jenny Sacks. Tell me a little bit about your role in developing IdeaExchange–what IdeaExchange is–and then we’ll talk about what you’re doing with IdeaExchange in the future. 

Jenny Sacks: Customer Market Insights is really just a fancy way of saying voice of the customer. My entire job is to listen to our customers, to the market, to make sure that we are bringing all of that information into how we make decisions. The goal is to give a customer a seat at the table in every decision, big and small.

SEE: Data analytics: A guide for business leaders (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

One of the big ways that we listen is the Salesforce ID Exchange, which launched 12 years ago. The vision for it was pretty simple. We wanted a way for our customers to tell us what they wanted to see in the product. Anybody with a Salesforce login could come to the site, could say, ‘Here’s what I want to see,’ and the community would crowdsource votes. Over time, we got a sense of what was most important to our community by watching how voting changed, how ideas were logged. 

But–there’s always a but in these stories–we saw a massive amount of growth. Salesforce was smaller 12 years ago–we’re now big, thankfully–and we now had 65,000 ideas logged. We have hundreds of product managers; hundreds of thousands of customers have been added to our ecosystem. Over the years we’ve really struggled to scale that experience. The last year has really been, how do we reimagine the IdeaExchange to allow our community to have more of that dialogue about our roadmap and where we’re going, and to really see how they’re influencing and shaping Salesforce. 

Bill Detwiler: That’s something that’s a little bit of a criticism. Whenever any company–not just Salesforce–puts a program like this out there, people who are providing ideas–I don’t know whether they have realistic expectations about how long it will take before those ideas are implemented. How do you manage that with IdeaExchange? How do you set those expectations? Say, ‘We got all these great ideas, but there’s only so many people. We can’t get to things all of the time.’ How do you manage those expectations? 

Jenny Sacks: I don’t think we’ve always done a great job of setting expectations to be honest, and that was really evident last year when one of our oldest community members–his name is Steve Moelis–logged an idea on the IdeaExchange and essentially said, ‘I have some ideas for how you need to improve this thing. And it feels a little bit like a black hole. I’m not sure where my feedback is going. I’m not sure what you’re doing with it. I don’t know what the expectations are for engagement from the community and from Salesforce on these ideas.’

That idea picked up a lot of steam, got our co-CEO Marc Benioff’s attention, and he basically said, ‘What are we doing here?’ We had to have a long conversation with ourselves about do we want to continue to invest here? What does that look like, and how do we rebuild trust with our community? We had to start by saying hard truth: it’s broken, and we need to fix it. We want to reinvest. That’s really, really important to us, but we don’t necessarily know how to do that. 

Rather than coming up with our own expectations and setting them with the community, we decided to ask them for help in deciding what it should look like going forward. We went out on the road–we did 22 cities, four continents, nine countries–to talk to our community. We went out with some ideas for IdeaExchange, get very meta, and we said, ‘Here’s what we’re thinking about doing. What do you think?’ What we heard from our community was, ‘We want you to build the things that we want you to build.’

We started to look at the IdeaExchange and how it was set up, and logging ideas and voting doesn’t really tell us what’s most important to the community. We needed to build a mechanism that would allow them to put their product manager hat on and go through the trade offs and prioritize what was going to be built in the release. We decided to build an experience for them to do that. 

Bill Detwiler: What was some of that feedback that you got specifically? What were those ideas that people wanted you to incorporate into IdeaExchange? Like those mechanisms to help set those expectations, so that they can give you the feedback, they could understand where it’s going. Talk me through that process. 

Jenny Sacks: First, we had to sort of get over the frustration. We had to get through the, ‘You stopped listening,’ and that was really valuable to hear. I would rather a customer be mad at me than not talking to me at all, so it was really great for them to engage with us in that dialogue. Once we got past that, we realized that IdeaExchange wasn’t nearing our product planning process. Ideas are coming in, and people are logging comments and adding feedback, and the feedback pile is growing. We only do release planning three times a year, and when we make decisions for a release, that’s locked. We moved to the next one; that gets locked, and so on. We weren’t bringing our customers along on that journey with us. 

They were sort of saying, ‘We know that you do this thing, but we’re not really part of it.’ We needed to connect the dots more directly there. Now, what we’re doing is we open a two-week window every release cycle, just like our product managers do. We say to the community, here are the top 10 to 15 ideas from the IdeaExchange; you have a budget which represents the resources that our engineers have, and you get to allocate your budget to what you’re most excited about. Whatever wins that cycle–we call it the prioritization cycle–we will build in our product.

We gave them that direct line from your feedback through to what we deliver. We’ve been piloting it for the last four releases. We just did it manually before we had the product to support it, and it’s been great; it’s great exercise. We tested it; we figured out what worked and didn’t work and were able to fine tune it. The product we’re launching–the new IdeaExchange we’re launching tomorrow–is reflective of all that feedback. It’s kind of not a splashy surprise release. It’s a, ‘here’s the thing we built together, ready for you to now take out and continue to provide us feedback.’

Bill Detwiler: Was that a difficult process internally? You talk about sometimes it’s difficult to take that negative feedback and do something constructive with it. Talk a little bit about that, so that people who are doing that in their own companies maybe can learn from what Salesforce went through during that process. 

Jenny Sacks: A big piece of advice I would give is don’t be afraid of the bad feedback. As I said, I would rather a customer yell and be mad–because at least they’re engaged in the dialogue–than to not have them talk to us at all. If they’re talking to somebody else about their problems, then there’s no opportunity for us to fix it. What we did was really try to channel their energy, their frustration, into helping us make the solution. 

Internally, it was a tough couple of months where we felt like, first we let our customers down, and that’s a yucky feeling. We have a long road to go, but ultimately–for me–it’s been my favorite year at Salesforce. I’ve been at the company for nine years, and it’s been awesome to turn the ship from sort of a negative to a positive and to really see our community be part of that and feel like it’s theirs. I would say to anybody who’s going through a similar situation: embrace the negative feedback, embrace the frustration, and work through it with your customers because then they have a more vested interest in being part of the solution and helping you celebrate the new wins. 

Bill Detwiler: During the pilot program, what type of feedback have you gotten from people that are using the new IdeaExchange as opposed to the old one? What’s been their reaction? 

Jenny Sacks: We took it out on the road, and I think at first we had to just educate people about our product planning process. We realized there wasn’t an education gap. 

Bill Detwiler: And were they surprised?

Jenny Sacks: They were surprised. I think they thought we were just going to fix the voting that they’re used to, the site that they were used to. When we came out and said, ‘We actually need something new.’ They went, ‘Oh, okay.’ Once we played it out, and we tested it with them, I think they really started to see how it made it more of a direct connection from their voice to Salesforce. We essentially dedicate part of our roadmap to what they want, really–no exceptions. That was incredible to watch them. We did see them go through some iterations for a while. We had a price next to every idea, and so you had to pay the price.

We found customers were saying, ‘Well I wouldn’t leave any money on the table, so I would buy things I didn’t even want just to spend all my money.’ That’s going to lead us down a road of building things you’re not that excited about, so we had to iterate the model based on how they engaged with it. We joked that we became experts in game theory, trying to figure out how to stay a step ahead of our customers in terms of the ways that they could play with the model, or make it work in a way that wouldn’t allow the true voice of the community to come through. The entire goal is to elevate their voice as a community within how we plan Salesforce product.

Bill Detwiler: Talk a little bit about customer centric design–when it comes to product services, UI, whatever it is–how important that has been to developing IdeaExchange, this entire process of how Salesforce builds products just in general and how people doing the same thing in other companies–whether it’s in tech or whether it’s in consumer products, or whatever it is–how important that customer centric process is part of the design?

Jenny Sacks: It’s amazing to see ideas that come in and then the product that comes out of it. In a lot of ways, we think of the community around a specific idea as a mini advisory board because sometimes we log an idea, and a product manager will go, ‘Okay, you’re asking for a faster horse. How do I give you a car?’ It allows for really great dialogue, but our customers have a seat at that table to say, ‘Here’s how I would use this in practice. Here’s how I would use it in the real world to serve my users.’ That’s become really invaluable to our product managers to feel like they have that input of, ‘Here’s how I would take this thing you’ve dreamed up in a lab and apply it to my users.’ It allows for changes and modifications.

Often, we will introduce IdeaExchange ideas into the product as a beta, and we’ll say, ‘Play with it; beat it up,’ and they’ll come back and say, ‘I like this. I like that. This didn’t quite work for me.’ We’ll have some time to fine tune it before it becomes generally available across our product. It’s been great to really see them playing that active role. It’s really part of our DNA. The IdeaExchange is one of the ways we listen. Every year at the beginning of our fiscal year in January, I take Brett Taylor, our Chief Product Officer, and all of his leadership on the road for something we call product roadmap tour, where we’re essentially taking his yearly plan for products to our customers and saying, ‘Prioritize it; rank it; take something off; add something that isn’t there.’

We do a series of visionary counsels throughout the year where we are bringing our customers–about 20 of them–into a room, and we’re saying, ‘Let’s imagine the future together.’ We don’t show any slides; we don’t talk about Salesforce. We just say, ‘What’s the future of the workforce? What’s the future of app development?’ It allows us to build the future together. We’re always trying to listen in really big and small ways but make sure our customers stamp every piece of the journey so that when it arrives for them, they go, ‘Yeah, I see myself in this product. It’s built for me.’

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The 10 most important enterprise hardware developments of the decade

The 10 most important enterprise hardware developments of the decade


Learn more about the concepts tha made a big impact in the business realm.

Top 5 things to know about the robots market
The use of robotics in business continues to grow at a steady pace. Tom Merritt explains five things you should know about the robots market.

The years 2010-2019 produced some significant advances in hardware relied upon by enterprises. 

Below are the top 10 hardware developments that have impacted the past decade. 

1. Tablets

While often regarded as a consumer device, the arrival of tablets provided great advantages to the enterprise. Whether it was the Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface Pro, or some other handheld device, businesses began using them to streamline operations. 

Business usage examples include CRM activities, inventory tracking, information gathering, rapid access to data or communications, conducting financial transactions, and more.

It’s worth noting that consumer usage of these devices helps businesses today by increasing the playing field for content delivery. For example, lovers of e-books and streaming audio/video increased revenue for organizations like Amazon, Netflix, and Youtube by purchasing services to use on their tablets.

SEE: Cheat sheet: Microsoft Surface Pro X (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

2. Mobile payment devices

Mobile credit card readers from companies such as Square, Shopify, Payanywhere, Intuit, and other providers (who also coordinate the actual transaction processing) have revolutionized the payments industry. 

The ability for companies or self-employed individuals to take payments from customers on mobile devices not only makes it easier to attract more business, but it increases profits. Whether it is your local hairdresser, neighborhood Scout troop, or nonprofit seeking a contribution, chances are mobile payment devices are in use all around you. 

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

3. Smartwatches

Smartwatches generally tie into mobile devices, which of course are not new to the past decade, but the latest devices facilitate better integration, app usage, and functionality. 

Smartwatches have many business applications, such as facilitating communication via text, phone or email, taking notes, managing to-do lists, receiving calendar or trip itinerary notifications, and even translating text. Some smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch Series 5, include a collection of apps focused on user fitness, biometrics, and health research. 

SEE: Apple Watch Series 5: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

4. Amazon Echo

Like tablets, the Amazon Echo (better known as Alexa) offers many potential business uses even though it is generally considered a consumer device. 

The Amazon Echo isn’t restricted to native capabilities. There are plenty of extra functions, known as skills, that can be added to her repertoire of talents such as spell check/dictionary, translation, time tracking, and more. 

Business functions offered through Alexa are diverse and compelling. A few sample actions to help with worker efficiency include using voice assistant, research, and calculations, translations, coordinating meetings, finding service providers, and tracking travel details, expenses or tasks. You can also use Alexa to order items through Amazon such as office supplies, equipment, and the like.

SEE: Cheat sheet: Alexa skills (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

5. Self-driving cars

Despite being decades away from adoption, few technologies have been more anticipated heading into the next decade than autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars, more specifically, haven’t made huge inroads into the enterprise realm yet but stand poised to greatly transform the transportation field. TechRepublic’s Macy Bayern covered three companies (Waymo, GM Cruise and Argo AI) which stand poised to become leaders in the autonomous vehicle movement.

Business uses and use cases for autonomous vehicles are plentiful. Human chauffeurs, taxi/ride services, truck drivers, may no longer be needed, saving company’s labor costs. Machines can be less error-prone than human drivers, which might cause less accidents. Businesses will not have to worry about lawsuits caused by driver negligence or intoxication, and traffic/speeding tickets levied upon human drivers company vehicles will become a thing of the past.

Yes, machines can break, but as Bayern quoted in the above-referenced article, Mo ElShenawy, vice president of engineering at GM Cruise, feels the benefits will outweigh the disadvantages:

“At the societal level, self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives, reshape our cities, reduce emissions, give back billions of hours of time and restore freedom of movement. At the individual level, we believe self-driving cars will deliver safer, more convenient, more affordable, and more accessible transportation.”

SEE: Special feature: Autonomous vehicles and the enterprise (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Note: The next 5 products were invented before 2010 but gained significant momentum and acceptance over the past decade.

6. Augmented/virtual reality devices

Once thought of as merely a novelty or gaming-related concept, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) devices provide enterprise benefits, which have been realized in recent years.

Retail industries can leverage AR/VR technology to allow customers to interact with their products, thereby increasing potential sales. AR/VR can help with design and planning to simulate the intended finished results. Real estate companies can show virtual tours of properties. AR/VR can assist with education, training and even assist with surgical measures. It’s also possible to work with data and in manufacturing/construction endeavors using AR/VR devices.

SEE: Special feature: Executive’s guide to the business value of VR and AR (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

7. Automated checkout/ordering devices

The progression of automated checkout/ordering devices in enterprises has made a significant impact over the years. I’m referring to self-checkout registers in stores and tabletop devices in restaurants and bars, which permit customers to order more food or beverages, settle their tabs, or summon waitstaff. (Transaction and retail solutions provider ECRS provides some good examples of these devices). 

While there is something to be said for human interaction, many consumers just want to facilitate their transactions or interactions with businesses by using this new technology and this is unlikely to change in the future. 

SEE: More Decade in Review coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

8. Drones

When Amazon first announced plans to use drones to deliver packages the concept seemed impossibly futuristic and unwieldy. However, last June it was reported that Amazon Prime’s Air drone will begin delivering packages “within months.” And the business uses for drones doesn’t stop there. The FAA awarded UPS a certificate to use drones on medical campuses across the country. In Australia, data captured from the drones are trying to save the Great Barrier Reef.

Other common business uses for drones involves aerial exploration, photography, and security surveillance.

SEE: Decade in tech: What stood out or fell flat in the 2010s (ZDNet)

9. Robotics

According to the IFR’s World Robotics Report global robot sales are expected to experience a 12% growth from 2020 to 2022. It’s easy to see why, since robotics has advanced so much over the past ten years that robots can engage in manufacturing and assembly operations, medical procedures, physical security and more. 

Robots can also be controlled by humans and sent into dangerous or unpredictable areas, or even places humans simply can’t go due to environmental hazards.

Further, more than half (64%) of employees said they trust a robot more than their manager, with half turning to a robot instead of a supervisor for advice, an Oracle and Future Workplace report found. 

SEE: Decade in Review 2010 – 2019 (CNET)

10. 3D printers

Adoption of 3D printing is increasing across different industries, with annual growth estimated at 23.5% over the next five years, reported TechRepublic’s James Sanders. 

3D printers have become smaller, more portable, faster, and more affordable. Further, printing capabilities such as printing with metal or concrete, creating vaccines, prosthetics or human organs, printing large objects such as furniture or bridges, and the ability to create artwork or other consumer goods have pushed this technology into the enterprise. In some cases these capabilities already existed but were relatively unknown, cumbersome, or overly expensive.

The uses for 3-D printing seem limitless. ZDNet’s Larry Dignan reported on Casca, a startup out of Vancouver, which is looking to meld 3D printing and additive manufacturing, retail, and footwear to bring mass personalization to insoles and shoes. While, formlabs, a 3D printing company, is launching a new business unit, 3D printer and materials aimed at the dental market.

The field is still very much growing with new developments anticipated including increases in printing speeds, printed homes or food, and advantages in space travel–no need to bring a tools or parts if you can just print the ones you need.

SEE: 3D printer turns out organs that act like the real thing (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

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Amazon Braket quantum computing service glues together three unrelated systems

Amazon Braket quantum computing service glues together three unrelated systems


Amazon is taking a “option is fantastic” strategy to quantum, as distinct qubit patterns are suited to different classes of difficulties.

IonQ announces partnership with AWS at re:Invent 2019: What it indicates for business
IonQ CEO & President Peter Chapman discusses the future of the quantum computing market place and the place it suits in business purposes, and the recently-announced partnership IonQ has with AWS and Azure.

Amazon unveiled Braket, a quantum computing support that signifies a mainly perfunctory entry in the quantum computing industry.—Itit provides choice, surely, as Amazon delivers cloud entry to D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti quantum computers—but practically extracting any benefit from any of these stays the job of the consumer.

To start, D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti depict 3 diverse approaches towards quantum computing: D-Wave provides a quantum annealer, IonQ employs trapped-ion qubits, and Rigetti is advancing a superconducting qubit co-processor. D-Wave’s quantum annealer is a recurrent concentrate on of criticism in the business for currently being significantly less sturdy than other approaches—their supplying depends on all complications staying expressed as a quadratic unconstrained binary optimization (QUBO) trouble. Reasonably, this is skim milk as opposed to the comprehensive-fat styles of other personal computers.

SEE: Quantum computing: An insider’s manual (free of charge PDF) (TechRepublic)

While D-Wave contends that QUBO has small business value—and there are businesses employing it—few situation seem in which a D-Wave annealer performs nicely in head-to-head comparisons with anything else, for the realistic explanation that programmers primarily want to publish specifically for D-Wave.

As an aside, D-Wave also garners criticism for characterizing their quantum annealer as made up of up to 2,000 qubits. Amazon’s announcement blog site article, released Monday, indicates that “as I produce this, the greatest quantum computers have about 50 qubits.” 

IonQ has the difference of getting partnerships with AWS, and with Azure Quantum, announced at Ignite 2019 in Orlando final thirty day period. This most likely bodes very well for IonQ in conditions of availability to builders at a minimum, taking into consideration the size and industry situation of AWS and Azure. Also, Rigetti’s partnership is possible to assistance in mindshare. When there is no ensure that the hosted platform product will win out for quantum—particularly keeping in intellect discrepancies between components developers—that delivery design has worked out for basically every little thing else up to this issue.

Together with the unveiling of Bracket, the corporation is rolling out a Quantum Alternatives Lab, that the organization touts as letting corporations “to faucet into our have abilities and that of our consulting partners. Our objective is to operate with you to discover people realistic takes advantage of, and to enable you to establish up your personal ‘bench’ of capable quantum builders.”

In the same way, the AWS Centre for Quantum Computing, setting up at Caltech, aims to “deliver alongside one another scientists and engineers from Amazon with major tutorial establishments in quantum computing, to create more potent quantum computing hardware and determine novel quantum purposes with the objective of boosting innovation in science and business.”

Update (December 4, 2019): 
A previous variation of this post indicated that D-Wave units have up to 5,000 qubits. D-Wave’s currently commercialized procedure – the 2000Q – has 2,000 qubits. The referenced 5,000 qubit system is slated for availability in 2020.

Even more, a D-Wave spokesperson explained to TechRepublic that “a universal quantum method is on our roadmap.” On programming, D-Wave contends that “for any program, you need to formulate the problem in a way that the QPU understands. D-Wave, between others, has resources to make this simpler by handling large- and low-stage abstractions.”

After the publication of this posting, the Amazon website write-up language was altered to state “the major gated-dependent quantum personal computers contain about 50 qubits.”

Also see 

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Picture: DR JON HERAS, © DR JON HERAS/Science Photo Library/Corbis



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How to protect computers that store biometric data from malware

How to protect computers that store biometric data from malware


More than a 3rd of devices that deal with biometric facts ended up hit by at the very least 1 malware an infection in the 3rd quarter of 2019, according to a new Kaspersky report.

Biometrics are meant to supply a more secure and a lot easier way of safeguarding sensitive information. Using your fingerprint, your face, or your voice to indication into an account or retrieve personalized facts is considered a far better and safer option than trying to juggle an array of passwords. Biometry-based authentication is being used to accessibility authorities and professional workplaces, industrial automation units, company computers, private laptops, and cellular telephones.

But what about the computer systems that gather, process, and retail store biometric data? Are they protected, and if not, how do you far better protect individuals techniques? A analyze produced Wednesday by Kaspersky describes how malware has influenced servers and workstations with biometric details and features advice on how to safeguard people pcs.

SEE: Specific report: A profitable technique for cybersecurity (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Wanting at the first nine months of 2019, Kaspersky ICS CERT industry experts investigated cybertheats which qualified personal computers utilized to gather, method, and retailer biometric facts. Particularly, the computers analyzed ended up types that ran Kaspersky protection products so the enterprise could fully look at them.

Just for the 3rd quarter, some 37% of the pcs bundled in the analyze were being strike by at the very least one malware infection, all of which were being blocked by Kaspersky software program. Specially, 5.4% of the threats detected and blocked ended up fashionable remote-obtain Trojans, 5.1% were malware applied in phishing assaults, 1.9% ended up ransomware, and 1.5% were being Trojan bankers (Figure A).

Figure A

Kaspersky

The internet popped up as the best resource for the malware assaults, accounting for 14.4% of the infections analyzed and blocked by Kaspersky. These sorts of attacks incorporated threats observed on destructive and phishing websites as very well as net-based mostly e mail providers.

Next, detachable media was the perpetrator in 8% of the attacks identified, most often utilised to distribute worms. Soon after hitting a computer, worms can obtain spy ware, remote entry Trojans, and ransomware.

Electronic mail threats rated third, accounting for 6.1% of the attacks in this situation. In most instances, these were being the normal phishing email messages with phony messages about the shipping of items and services or the payment of invoices. The messages contained one-way links to destructive web-sites or hooked up Microsoft Office paperwork with malicious code.

“Our investigate reveals that the current situation with biometric facts protection is critical and needs to be introduced to the consideration of business and government regulators, the group of information security professionals, and the normal community,” Kirill Kruglov, senior security specialist at Kaspersky ICS CERT, reported in a press launch. “Even though we believe our buyers are cautious, we will need to emphasize that an infection induced by the malware we detected and prevented could have negatively affected the integrity and confidentiality of biometric processing programs. This is specifically the scenario for databases the place biometric details is stored, if these devices had been not protected.”

To assist organizations superior protected the pcs that tackle biometric knowledge, Kaspersky delivers the subsequent recommendations:

1) Minimize the exposure of biometric systems to the online and internet-linked threats. Ideally, these types of devices should really be section of an air-gapped infrastructure, which signifies no link (wired or wi-fi) to the world-wide-web and no connection to any other units that connect to the internet. Cybersecurity really should be of the maximum priority when new methods like this are built and implemented.

2) Guarantee that the optimum-amount of cybersecurity requirements are used to the biometric methods. This recommendation contains the next steps:

  • Thoroughly teach the operating personnel on how to resist potential cyberattacks.
  • Make sure that all important cybersecurity controls are in area.
  • Enlist a devoted group of remarkably-skilled protection professionals to keep keep track of of infrastructure security.
  • Often perform safety audits to determine and reduce probable vulnerabilities.
  • Guarantee that latest strategic and tactical danger intelligence is frequently provided to the cybersecurity crew.

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