BetaNews Staff

True password confessions of a security expert

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I have a confession. It's hard to admit, and I know it might make me a bit of a social pariah and an outcast in the industry I work in but I need to get this off my chest:

I used a single password for many online services *deep breath* for a long time.

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Celebrities and identity theft

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America loves celebrities. Scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists, are well aware of our fascination with the lives and sometimes untimely deaths of celebrities, and exploit this interest through a number of schemes aimed at turning the public's fascination into the identity thief’s treasure.

The sad and tragic death by suicide of Robin Williams has become the latest opportunity for identity thieves to exploit a celebrity death for financial gain. In one Robin Williams related scam, a post appears on your Facebook page -- it often can appear to come from someone you know, when, in fact, it is really from an identity thief who has hacked into the Facebook account of your real friend. The post provides a link to photos or videos that appeal in some instances to an interest in Robin Williams related movie or standup performances. However, in other instances, the link will appeal to the lowest common denominator and purport to provide police photos or videos of the suicide site. If you fall for this bait by clicking on the link, one of two things can happen, both of which are bad.

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How happiness is related to internet connectivity

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Internet access doesn’t make people happy, but it is a sign of the probability of happiness.

A 2013 poll by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measured people’s happiness state by state across America. We cross-referenced the Happiness Index from the Gallup Poll with US census numbers on the percentage of a states’ residents who access the Internet from their homes and found an interesting correlation. Nearly 40 percent of the happiness index score for any given state can be estimated by knowing the Internet access percentage of that state.

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How malware could be used to predict future world conflicts

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In terms of usefulness, we typically think of malware as somewhere between a volcano eruption and the Ebola virus. But researchers from security firm FireEye have developed a technique by which the spread of malware could predict upcoming world conflicts.

According to researchers who monitored millions of malware messages sent over the past 18 months, the amount of communications sent by malware programs spiked dramatically in the lead-up to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the future of Crimea. A similar spike was seen in malware attacking Israel in the days before its recent hostilities with Hamas in Gaza.

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BYOD and the issues of managing VDI and VDA

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Software licensing is a complex area, even in organizations with a relatively simple IT infrastructure. Once BYOD (bring your own device) is added into the mix, this takes licensing complexity to a whole new level.

There is much debate over the actual take-up of BYOD. Some sources say adoption is "exploding", others say less than 10 percent of organizations actually have a BYOD policy in place. Regardless of what the true value is, we can expect an increased level of uptake, given the recent announcement of Microsoft Office for the iPad. So BYOD will become even more attractive to end users, and potentially make life even more difficult for the license manager.

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Edward Snowden claims NSA caused the 2012 Syrian internet outage

Snowden: Facebook is allowing the government to see your messages

Edward Snowden has claimed that the US accidentally took most of Syria off the Internet while attempting to bug the country's online traffic.

Speaking to National Security Agency journalist James Bamford for Wired, the whistleblower claimed that a US intelligence officer told him that the NSA was responsible for Syria's disconnect from the web in late 2012, and not the Assad regime.

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Man asks Siri where to hide the body after murdering roommate, Siri offers suggestions

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Most of us are used to asking Siri where the nearest pizza place or supermarket is. He/she has become an almost indispensable part of some iPhone users' lives. But would you ever ask Siri how to hide a dead body? That's exactly what one Florida man did two years ago.

Pedro Bravo, 20, is currently standing trial accused of kidnapping and strangling his friend Christian Aguilar in September 2012 after an argument started over Aguilar dating Bravo's ex-girlfriend. One of the key pieces of evidence used by the prosecutors is a record of Bravo telling Apple's famous digital assistant: "I need to hide my roommate".

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Artificial intelligence in the enterprise -- what you need to know

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a bit of a buzzword among technology professionals (and even within the mainstream public) but truthfully, most people do not know how it works or how it is already being integrated within leading enterprise businesses. AI for businesses is today mostly made up of machine learning, wherein algorithms are applied in order to teach systems to learn from data to automate and optimize processes and predict outcomes and gain insights. This simplifies, scales and even introduces new important processes and solutions for complex business problems as machine learning applications learn and improve over time. From medical diagnostics systems, search and recommendation engines, robotics, risk management systems, to security systems, in the future nearly everything connected to the internet will use a form of a machine learning algorithm in order to bring value. It is the same thing as for humans, we attend schools for many years and we gain practical experience in order to deliver some kind of value.

But what exactly is machine learning, how is it being applied within organizations today, and what does it mean for the future of business? It is becoming ever more crucial for enterprise leaders to understand machine learning, particularly the benefits that it can provide for companies today. Machine learning today is already allowing many businesses to achieve higher productivity and efficiency, innovating their business, and those that do not begin to explore this new tool ultimately are at risk for falling behind their competition.

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Internet of Things is the most over-hyped technology ever

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It's been heralded the as future and celebrated as a beacon of technological advancement, but now analysts are branding the Internet of Things (IoT) as the most over-hyped technology in development today.

For the uninitiated, the concept of the Internet of Things is that one day the world will be completely connected on the web. It has been predicted that within five to ten years every object -- whether a fridge or a bed -- will have its own online presence.

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Chromebook on the rise, with sales set to triple by 2017

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Google's Chromebook is on the up and up, according to the latest report published by analyst firm Gartner.

This year, Gartner estimates that total Chromebook sales will hit 5.2 million, which is up 79 percent from 2013. Looking further out to 2017, the number of units sold should reach 14.4 million, in other words we're looking at a near tripling of sales inside three years. Which has to be music to Google's ears...

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SanDisk launches the Ultra Fit USB 3.0 flash drive

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SanDisk has unveiled a new super-fast tiny USB flash drive designed to appeal to media savvy customers that want top performance inside a small package.

The Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB incarnations and is designed to offer transfer speeds that are up to 10 times as fast as the current USB 2.0 flash drives on the market.

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Windows Server 2003 end of life doesn't have to be the end of the world

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One of my favorite idioms is "Change is Constant". No group has had to embrace that motto more than IT Operations, especially in recent years. As if the daily changes weren’t enough, we all have one more big item to deal with, the End-of-Life for Windows Server 2003.

The official End-of-Life date for Windows Server 2003 is July 14, 2015 (that’s Bastille Day for you history buffs). For IT Operations teams large and small, the date looms like a doomsday clock. Why does this particular platform end-of-life and pending migration seem so ominous? The answer, in a single word, is "Applications!"

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What makes a disruptive technology?

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According to Clayton M Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, disruptive innovations are characterized by their ability to create entirely new markets rather than merely update existing markets with new products. They are black swans, rare events where new thinking and changing markets combine to create radical change.

A common example is the light bulb and Pearl Street Station -- a major gamble by Thomas Edison. Within years of its development the kerosene lighting industry was all but non-existent, and the world was a brighter place. (The kerosene industry had similarly put an end to the whaling industry -- thankfully -- a few decades earlier).

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Sony Xperia T3: Decent smartphone with a few issues [Review]

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The Sony Xperia T3 updates the Xperia T2 which, er, was an update to the Xperia T. Except that's not quite how it is. When the T came out early last year it was the flagship phone for Sony. It even had a much talked about spot in a James Bond movie. The flagship handset line from the Sony range is now the Z series, and the Z3 is due very soon. The T series is now the mid-range in Sony's stable, and the Xperia T3 is priced at £299 online at Sony's website.

Sony has worked hard to consolidate design across its handset range, and that's evident with the Xperia T3. The monolith appearance with squared-off corners and distinctive button design and placement is carried through from the Z range, though the price differential has had a clear effect on materials. Where the Xperia Z2 has a glass back that I found rather too reflective and slippy, the T3 has a more usual rubbery finish on the back that's easier on the hands and doesn't act like a mirror for the narcissists among us.

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Super-secure Blackphone rooted at DefCon conference

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The Blackphone, billed as a super-secure consumer alternative to standard smartphones, has been successfully hacked.

The hack comes not long after Blackphone sparred with BlackBerry after the latter called the secure device "unacceptable" for enterprise and petty customers.

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