BetaNews Staff

From spoofing to iris scanning -- the future of biometrics

Biometric scan

As we enter the first part of the new year, we’re setting our resolutions (or perhaps already breaking them), and reflecting on 2016. We witnessed many highs and lows last year, and it seems it’s trendy right now to bemoan everything that happened. This is no different in the security world. We saw some of the biggest -- and highest profile -- breaches of all time (DMC and Yahoo, just to name a few) and nearly all of them involved compromised, weak or reused passwords.

Everyone can agree that passwords are no longer adequate for protecting information online: even the most complicated passcodes can be broken relatively swiftly with a sophisticated algorithm -- or a specially targeted spoofing email. In an attempt to combat this, companies have been adopting new approaches, like tokens, OTPs and multi-factor authentication -- but many experts are pointing to biometrics as the next big thing -- especially for industries rife with risk, like finance, healthcare and government.

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Hacking group uses Google services to control malware

Hackers laptops

Carbanak, a powerful cyber-crime group, is using certain Google services as command and control for its malware and other malicious elements. The news was released by cybersecurity firm Forcepoint this week.

Forcepoint uncovered a trojanized RTF document, which, once ran, will "send and receive commands to and from Google Apps Script, Google Sheets, and Google Forms services."

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Tech Deals: Get the Google Daydream VR Headset for only $50, plus other great bargains

google daydream view

With the holidays out of the way, you’re probably looking to save some money, or at the very least avoid spending too much.

Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains we have a selection of fantastic deals with huge savings to tempt you. Offers include $30 off the price of the new Google Daydream View VR headset, an Alienware Gaming desktop for $899.99 (instead of the usual $1025), and great deals on SSDs, keyboards, laptops, HDTVs, and more.

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We know email can be hacked, but what could be next? (Shhhh it's voice)


If you are like most people, you are beginning to wonder if anyone has even a tenth of a clue about how to protect email. We all watched, for example, as reams of stolen political correspondence from a major email provider were posted each day leading up to the recent election, more than likely influencing the outcome.

And we all watched as another major email provider lost 500 million accounts to hackers who seemed to barely break a sweat in doing so. And, as if that’s not bad enough, the criminal underground put these swiped email goods up for sale at about a millionth of a cent per user account. Sadly, that’s just how trivial the bad guys think it has now become to break into our email. Criminal theft of email has officially become commoditized. The old Pony Express was safer.

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Younger workers are a major security threat to enterprises

office workers

It is now normal for technology companies, media and telecom companies to be victims of either fraud or cyber-attacks, a new Kroll report says.

Almost four-fifths (79 percent) of companies were victims of fraud in the last year, with physical assets or stock being most sought after (35 percent). Cyber-attacks were no less dangerous, with 77 percent claiming to have been victims. These attacks are mostly virus or worm infections.

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Microsoft buys 3D optimization company Simplygon


As part of its new "3D for Everyone" strategy, Microsoft has announced that it will acquire the 3D optimization vendor Simplygon.

The company's corporate vice president of Next Gen Experiences Kudo Tsunoda revealed the acquisition intended to help boost its own 3D efforts. The Swedish company Simplygon will play a large role in allowing Microsoft to simplify the process of allowing its users to capture, create and share in 3D.

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Few consumers believe it's their job to secure their data

Security Lock

Gemalto has just issued a report which clearly shows how lenient we are when it comes to protecting our private data on the Internet. In short, we are very quick to give companies our personal data, we want them to safeguard it, but we’re pretty certain they’re doing a terrible job at it.

Gemalto has polled 9,000 consumers in the following countries: Australia, Benelux, France, Germany, Russia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, India, Japan, United Kingdom, and United States. Almost three quarters (70 percent) claim organizations are responsible for securing customer data. Just 30 percent believe the responsibility lies with them.

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What we learned from predicting the 2016 US presidential election

2016 us presidential election

As we approach the end of 2016, what feels like a very long election cycle in the US is finally coming to an end, complete with what, for many, was a surprising conclusion based on the pre-election polls (or, more accurately, how those polls were interpreted). Given the pre-election polls and the subsequent critical press coverage, it is natural to wonder whether the data presented in various 2016 presidential election predictions had some "issues".

Four years ago we were interested in how data analytics could be used in pre-election polling to make it statistically more accurate so we created an analytic app that was based on Gallup polling data to predict the winner (Barack Obama or Mitt Romney) of the election. It was a simpler application, but we got some accurate results, predicting 85 percent of the counties correctly.

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UK will face a shortage of three million highly skilled workers

Jobs Job

By 2022, the UK could be missing approximately three million highly skilled workers, according to a new annual CEO survey by PwC. The report says that, by that time, there will be 15 million high-skill jobs in the country. This state will actually come as a result of automating low-skill, routine tasks, which will place more emphasis on higher-skill, agile roles.

Another interesting conclusion is that more than nine million people could be chasing four million jobs. This is according to the government’s State of the Nation report.

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What does 2017 have in store for the bot?


A lot can happen in 12 months. Last year, bots exploded into the mainstream, and adoption was rapid. For example, over $1.5 billion was invested in AI startups; Microsoft has over 35,000 bot developers on its platform; The Economist even asked if bots are the new apps.

As with any technology that grows so quickly in such a short amount of time, sometimes we need to take a step back. Last year, we saw bots enter the home through the likes of Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Google Assistant, and this paved the way for more bots to be introduced to our everyday lives. So what happens next?

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Few UK retailers confident about their customer experience

Shoppers retail shopping bags

Retailers are seriously lacking confidence when it comes to delivering a seamless, connected experience across channels. This is according to a new report by SAP and PwC. The report, based on a poll of 300 retailers and more than 2,000 consumers, says less than a fifth (17 percent) of retailers are confident in their capabilities.

More than six in ten agree siloed business units are hurting their efforts, and a third say they are having trouble implementing the "single view of the customer". Just eight percent have successfully done this, the report claims.

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Amazon introduces new job training program in UK

Amazon logo

Amazon has steadily been expanding the scope of its cloud storage business AWS beyond hosting websites and apps for businesses and today the company announced its latest venture aimed at increasing IT skills training in the UK.

During an event in London, the company announced its new training and job placement program, re:Start. Amazon's new service, that was built in partnership with the UK's Ministry of Defense, the Prince's Trust and QA consulting, is geared toward educating young adults and military veterans and their wives.

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Chinese citizens can be tracked in real time


A group of researchers have revealed that the Chinese government is collecting data on its citizens to an extent where their movements can even be tracked in real-time using their mobile devices.

This discovery was made by The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs who specialize in studying the ways in which information technology affects both personal and human rights worldwide.

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UK companies take too long to react to Internet disruptions

reaction time management smartphone clock

Internet disruptions, in their biggest part, are taking place outside a company’s network, a new report by Dyn claims. The report also says having poor visibility beyond "company walls" makes it harder for those companies to react on time.

More than half (57 percent) of all Internet disruptions UK companies faced in the last year happened outside company networks. These companies need double the time to react compared to companies in the US.

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European businesses are not ready for ransomware attacks


Ransomware was the number one way hackers attacked businesses in 2016, a new report by Radware confirms. Entitled Global Application and Network Security Report 2016-2017, it says 49 percent of European businesses confirmed cyber-ransom as the biggest motivator last year.

That basically represents a 100 percent increase compared to a year before, when it stood at 25 percent.

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