Tag Archives: CNET

Telecom providers & swaggering vanity

Any business has issues; the one that states that they do not is lying to you. We understand that there is mostly smooth sailing, that there are bumps in the road and that things are not always on track. We have all seen them; we might have all seen them near our desks. It is a reality, if a lumberjack is working, there will be wood chips, such is life. So when we see the Telstra ‘purpose & values’, we see: “The telecommunications industry is experiencing enormous growth; network traffic is growing faster than any other period of time and digital technology is changing our world. Telstra is at the heart of this change—and we’re helping make it happen by connecting everything to everyone“. That might be true, yet when you price yourself out of a market, there tend to be consequences.

So when the Business Insider gives us merely 2 days ago: “It looked like there were national problems with the Telstra network again today, but the Telco says no” (at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/telstra-is-down-nationally-2018-6), we see a troubling setting. So the quote “The Telstra network appeared to have another national meltdown, with services in most of the major capitals disrupted in the first half of Tuesday, but the company denies there were any problems with its mobile network.“, concessions on social media were made and the services were back up in the afternoon. Yet the damage was done. Not the fault, the disruption or the faulty service. The fact that Telstra was in denial is the issue. So when we also see: “Telstra said there was no issue for Telstra customers and the Telco’s 3G and 4G networks. “There was a vendor platform issue that impacted mobile virtual network operating services for a small number of wholesale customers,” a spokesperson said“, we see the issue that Telstra has moved on through carefully phrased denials. It is a tactic to use, it is however the wrong tactic, because it takes away trust and Telstra did not have that much left to begin with. One source gives another view entirely; it is the view that makes CEO Andy Penn too confused for his own good and the health of the company. In regards to the question that ABC host Leigh Sales asked, which was: “How can shedding 8000 jobs, not make your service worse?“, the response “Mr Penn deflected the question and talked about the complexity of a Telco network and the inevitability of network interruptions when dealing with such sprawling physical technology assets and software. After the host tried once more to ask the question, the Telstra boss steered clear of the jobs losses and moved the conversation back towards his message of increased simplicity for customers“, we merely see the fact that Telstra is playing a dangerous game of stupidity. Deflection is bad and shares will get slammed (and they did). You see, the proper answer (or better stated a proper answer) would be: “As we are moving to a flatter organisation, management is now directly in touch with the workforce, management will get the full scope of issues in their area of responsibility. There is no longer a delay of information trickling on the path of 2-3 managers deciding where what goes, the buck stops with the manager in charge. Basically the lower managers get more responsibility and as they resolve the issues also a much better reward. The direct exposure to issues and answering the questions of staff members and consumers will lead to a much better understanding and also decrees the timeline of issues and questions requiring a resolution“. You see?  I resolved that question, I gave an answer, I exceeded the expectation of the current customer base and I did not deflect. So perhaps I might be the better CEO Andy? Now, we can add that this is a work in progress and as any company needs to adjust settings; with a flat organisation structure it is much more direct and easier to adjust. So yesterday’s interview, published today, I merely required seconds to set the stage in a more positive way. Yet Telstra has more issues. Their mobile plans are still horrendously expensive; in some cases placed like Optus will offer 20 times the data at the same price and that was merely a month ago. So Telstra needs to realise that unless they truly become competitive with some of their competitors. In addition when we look at IT News, we see (at https://www.itnews.com.au/news/telstra-completely-changes-how-it-sells-enterprise-services-494853) the issues that some expect. Issues like ‘Confirms it took ‘too long’ to revamp enterprise core’, yet the revamping is not the issue, actually it is as there was no ‘real’ revamping, merely adjust the tailoring to fit other elements (as I personally see it). You see, the danger offered through: ““It is the ability to provide fixed voice, unified communications and messaging with add-ons for mobile and applications on a per seat pricing basis for our midmarket customers. “It will be all digital.” It will be ordered in minutes, provisioned in minutes to hours, and everything will be billed electronically with the ability for the customer to flex up and down in volume in real time. This is what I call the folly setting. It starts with ‘our midmarket customers‘, which translate to ‘corporations and those with money’, which is fair enough, yet the economy is still in a place where the cost of living is way too high. The rest is merely a statement of ‘buy on our website or through a phone app’; there will be no negotiating, no personal touch, not a warm touch to any of it. Merely a ‘buy this by clicking or go somewhere else’. You can rephrase it again and again, but that is where it is heading and the people have no real high regard for an automated Telstra, so that will hammer the share prices for at least an additional 2%-3% in a negative direction. So as more and more people go towards the ‘Yes’ oriented Optus stores, we see that in some places Telstra is setting up movable selling points (Westfield Burwood), yet in the direct cold light of day, it is not merely a transforming business, it is the setting where Telstra looks less appealing than before. That requires addressing and Andy Penn did not go the right way about it from the beginning, yet in the setting we now see it, it is even less appealing than ever before.

It goes further than all this, a mere 3 hours ago, ABC gives us ‘Is this really the end of Telstra’s ‘confusopoly’?‘ (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-21/telstra-what-is-in-it-for-customers/9891076), there we see: “Andy Penn says the job losses will largely come from management so presumably consumer-facing staff will remain”, so why is Andy Capp hiding behind ‘presumably‘?

 

 

 

 

The AFR takes it in another direction. There we see ‘Telstra’s strategy is all about killing Optus, Vodafone and TPG‘. So (at https://www.afr.com/brand/chanticleer/telstras-strategy-is-all-about-killing-optus-vodafone-and-tpg-20180620-h11mtt), we see ” competitors are clearly going to be most obvious victims of his 2022 strategy, which prioritises mobile above everything else in Telstra’s sprawling portfolio of businesses”, yet with the website as it is and the announced 5G rumours that are nowhere near 5G we wonder how much trouble they are in. so even as we see the boastful “Telstra’s mobile business currently earns about $4 billion a year on revenue of $10 billion“, it will have little effect until the data offered is a hell of a lot higher than they currently offer. It might have been a good moment of timing for me, I ended up with twice the data ant half the price. The largest population really cares about a deal that is 75% better and that is not merely me, it includes well over 60% of all households and pretty much 99.43% of all students. Even if Telstra proclaims that they only care about midmarkets, the shareholders will not understand how they lost out on millions of customers and that change is not reflected in anything we heard. It does not stop there. With the setting of the quote “Telstra said on Wednesday that the number of Australian households with no fixed broadband service is between 10 and 15 per cent. It expects this to rise to 25 to 30 per cent as 5G is rolled out around the country“, we see that Telstra is to lose out on more markets. The shear fact that Vodafone figured out in the EU is an optional gain of momentum for Vodafone, yet the hybrid options that Telstra failed to see could cost them even more in the 2020-2024 period. In addition, when we see “Penn’s decision to adopt an aggressive roll out strategy for 5G plays into the established trend of greater use of mobile networks relative to fixed line, much of which is driven by the widespread frustration caused by the poor performance of the NBN Co”, considering the part I discussed yesterday in ‘Telstra, NATO and the USA’ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/06/20/telstra-nato-and-the-usa/) alerted us to a previous stunt played with 3.7G, yet the setting is reflective here. In part it is expected to be merely temporary. So when we see on the Telstra site “Verizon and Ericsson recently decided to test the 5G network on a moving target — a car being driven around a racetrack — and were able to record a 6.4gb/s connection”, now I get it. It is a test setting yet the speed is still off by almost 40%, which is not good. It is better than what we have now, but getting out in front before the technology is truly ready is very dangerous. In addition CNet had another issue that also reflects in Australia, as well as a league of other nations. With “Cybersecurity for 5G networks had been a top priority for the previous FCC under Tom Wheeler, a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama. But the current Republican-led agency believes the FCC should not have authority to ensure wireless providers are building secure networks. “This correctly diagnoses a real problem. There is a worldwide race to lead in 5G and other nations are poised to win,” FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, noted in her statement. “But the remedy proposed here really misses the mark.”

You see, I have been writing for the longest time on the benefits and powers that 5G will give on a whole new range of options, yet the overly non-repudiation ignorance in Telecom town is staggering. Their view is almost on par where the NSA decides to set the admin rights to the guest account and leave the password blank. The dangers that people will face on that level cannot be comprehended. The moment the ball is dropped, the damage to people will be beyond comprehension. It boils down to Cambridge Analytica times 50, with all privacy set to public reading. The business will love the amount the amount of data; the people will be less enthusiastic as their consumer rights and needs are no longer in stock with any shop using the internet for sales. I raised issues on that field in March 2017 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/03/13/the-spotlight-on-exploiters/), yet that was merely the lowest setting. At that point, the Guardian (the writer that is) raised: “The mass connectivity it allows for will also help expand the so-called internet of things (IoT), in which everyday appliances and devices wirelessly connect to the internet and each other“. Yet, this is in equal measure the danger. You see as Telstra gave visibility to ‘Lessons from CES 2018: everything is connected‘ (at https://exchange.telstra.com.au/after-ces-2018-everything-in-tech-is-connected/) and Huawei is giving us ‘Huawei Connect 2018: Activate Intelligence’ (at http://www.huawei.com/en/press-events/events/huaweiconnect2018), they will likely all miss out on giving proper light to non-repudiation. It needs to be the cornerstone, yet for now there seems to be the global ‘understanding’ that someone is working on it, or that ‘block chain solves it’ and a few other hype responses that merely are deflections of a situation not understood and even less properly attended to. To better understand it, I found a promising paper (at https://arxiv.org/pdf/1708.04027.pdf) from Mohamed Amine Ferrag, Leandros Maglaras, Antonios Argyriou, Dimitrios Kosmanos, and Helge Janicke. In the conclusion we see: “Based on the vision for the next generation of connectivity, we proposed six open directions for future research about authentication and privacy-preserving schemes, namely, Fog paradigm-based 5G radio access network, 5G small cell-based smart grids, SDN/NFV-based architecture in 5G scenarios, dataset for intrusion detection in 5G scenarios, UAV systems in 5G environment, and 5G small cell-based vehicular crowd sensing“, which gets us to the real setting that this part is still some time ahead and even as telecoms are rushing to get 5G first to get the better market share, it appears that the players have no clue on the time they will lose by not properly investigating and setting the steps to get non-repudiation on the proper path, it will be seen the moment some CEO decided to listen to marketing and give a first roll out of 5G, whilst not listening to support as they are a cost and not an asset. At that point the situation will unfold where the clever hacker ends up having an optional access to 100% of the available data on several floors and at that point the people attached to any of that will have lost whatever choice they had in the first place regarding their privacy, their accounts and their data. It had all been denied to them.

This was seen in the Economist last year where we saw: “The flaw lies largely with the weakest link: the phone system and the humans who run it. Mr Mckesson and the bitcoin victim, for example, suffered at the hands of attackers who fooled phone-company employees into re-routing the victim’s phone number to a device in the attacker’s possession“. You see this is not about non-repudiation, it is about authentication and that is not the same. There is a whole league of issues and in part because the solution is still not a true given, it is in its initial stage and even as we accept that non-repudiation is sometimes essential, it is not always essential, there is a larger issue on where and when it is needed and it cannot be when the user decides because roughly 92.556% is too ignorant on the subject. The impact on a personal life can be too far stretched and that is where the problem starts. Telstra fails here, in their Cyber security White paper 2017 it comes up once and there we see: “Transaction approval should satisfy certain characteristics – including but not limited to integrity, non-repudiation and separation of duties“, that is it! In a ‘Cyber Security White Paper‘ that give s on the front page ‘Managing risk in a digital world‘, non-repudiation needs to have a much higher priority and in a 52 page paper that gives ‘acknowledgements’ all kinds of high priced firms mentioned in the end, with the ending of “We can assist your organisation to manage risk and meet your security requirements“, so what happens when customers want clear answers on non-repudiation? What is currently in play and available?

The non-acknowledgment that even, if not practised in 2017, or 2016, might be fine, this is about what comes next? That part we see on page 45 with ‘The increased adoption of incident response drives the growth of the after breach market‘ and “In Australia, the highest usage for emerging security solutions is in ‘incident response’, and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB) are used the most in Asia. 47 per cent of organisations surveyed in Australia and 55 per cent in Asia have adopted ‘incident response’ toolsets or services“, as well as “announcement of legislation around mandatory data breach notification by the Australian Government“, so how long until non-repudiation makes it to the main focal area? I reckon one incident too late, at that time Telstra becomes a ‘responsive telecom‘ nothing pro-active about it. When the first victim comes and the 99% realises that there is no actual non-repudiation properly in place, how many will remain with Telstra? And it is not merely them, a much larger global Telecom provider pool has that same flaw, the one who did think ahead will be gaining exponential growth the day after someone got hit and we have seen the growth of non-repudiation need for almost 4-5 years, so it is not coming out of the blue.

So, when we see the sales pitch called executive summary in the beginning, the mention of “That organisations are prepared to take such acknowledged risks speaks to the urgency of their move to cloud services“. So is non-repudiation addressed there? and the start of that page with “Organisations and individuals are dealing with new security and business opportunities, many of which are fuelled by mobility,” which of these sides are giving in that you and only you bought the 50,000,000 shares at $29.04 and the loss of 63.223% (roughly) we saw in the 45 seconds after that. At that point, or a boss that you and only you bought them, would that perhaps be good, bad, or perhaps was blaming a hacker the solution?

so in that report, where we saw ‘Mobile malware‘, ‘Advanced Persistent Threats‘ and ‘Web and application vulnerabilities‘; When we realise that the report gives us ‘Number of days compromise went undiscovered (median)‘ with the average value of 520 days (almost 18 months), would the flag that ‘not an employee’ had access helped perhaps in finding it sooner than 18 months?

It all read like a cloud sales paper as security is less complex. It does not solve the non-repudiation issue which would soon be at the footsteps of telecom companies and as they are in denial (for too long that something needs to be done, whomever solves it, that will be the winner of the 5G race and they will gain the 5G business from those claiming to have any non-repudiation and those who did not bother. It is not sexy, it is not limelight, but it will be the cornerstone of personal and corporate safety lot sooner than most people realise.

It all matters because flattening the organisation means that there is either space provision for that branch of security or it falls in the gaps and is forgotten until too late. Andy Penn can deflect all he can at that point (or his successor), but at that point the impact of such an event will be too devastating to respond to or correct for.

The issue remains complex, and if people remember the issues I have with Microsoft, will also accept the part I now give them, because one quote on this from Microsoft is bang on: “Can we say we have non-repudiation by putting a check in a box on a certificate template? Absolutely not, we must first jump through many hoops to be sure that only the owner of a private key associated with the certificate ever has access to it. This involves many controls, policies, procedures and security practices, some of which are listed above“, it is a much harder field, but an essential one and even as financial services are eager to embrace it, data handlers need to start doing this too.

We need to acknowledge that: ‘authentication is easy, non-repudiation is hard‘, and as 5G, automation and cloud systems evolve, the legal need for non-repudiation grows almost exponentially for every day that the three are active in a corporate and personal environment. Those who ignored that essential need end up having no legal foothold on any claim whatsoever. In my mind companies who ignored it will lose their IP and most legal options to get it back the moment it gets downloaded to another place. That IP will soon thereafter be owned by someone else, or it ends up in public domain where anyone can use it free of charge, both are nightmare scenarios for any firm relying on IP.

 

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The gaming E-War is here

The console operators are seeing the light. Even as it comes with some speculation from the writers (me included), we need to try and take a few things towards proper proportions. It is a sign of certain events and Microsoft is dropping the ball again. The CNet news (at https://www.cnet.com/news/xbox-big-fun-deals-e3-week-starts-june-7/) gives us “Microsoft’s big E3 sale on Xbox consoles, games starts June 7“, where we see “Save 50 percent or more on season passes, expansions and DLC and other add-ons“, which sounds good, yet in opposition, some claim that as Microsoft has nothing really new to report (more correctly, much too little to report), they want to maximise sales now hoping to prevent people to move away from the Xbox. I do not completely agree. Even as the setting of no new games is not completely incorrect, the most expected new games tend to not get out in the first month after the E3 (they rarely do), so Microsoft trying to use the E3 to cash in on revenue is perfectly sound and business minded. Out with the old and in with the new as some might say. Yet, Microsoft has been dropping the ball again and again and as more and more people are experiencing the blatant stupidity on the way Microsoft deals with achievements and now we see that these scores are too often unstable (I witnessed this myself), we see that there is a flaw in the system and it is growing, in addition, I found a flaw in several games where achievements were never recognised, implying that the flaw is a lot larger and had been going on for more than just a month or so. The one massive hit that the Xbox360 created is now being nullified, because greed made Microsoft set what I refer to ‘the harassment policy’ of ‘always online‘, this is now backfiring, because it potentially drives people to the PlayStation, who fixed that approach 1-2 years ago (some might prefer the Nintendo Switch). Nintendo needs to fix their one year calendar issue fast before it starts biting them (if they have fixed it, you have my apologies).

Sony is not sitting still either as Cnet reports (at https://www.cnet.com/news/sony-isnt-waiting-for-e3-2018-will-reveal-3-playstation-games-early/), with the quote “Starting Wednesday, June 6, the company will spoil one announcement each and every day for five days in a row. Sony is being tight-lipped about the details, but those announcements will include [censored]“. Yet getting back to Microsoft, they do need and should get recognition for “Up to 75% off select games including Monster Hunter: World, Sea of Thieves and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds“. I admit that a game like monster hunter is an acquired taste, yet 75% off from a 95% rated game like Monster Hunter is just amazing and that game alone is worth buying the Xbox One X for. I only saw the PlayStation edition, yet the impression was as jaw dropping as seeing the 4K edition of AC Origin, so not seriously considering that game at 75% discount is just folly.

The issue is mainly what Microsoft is aiming for (and optionally not telling the gamers). They never made any secret of their desire for the cloud, I have nothing against the cloud, yet when I play games in single player mode, there is no real reason for the cloud (there really is not). So when I see that Microsoft bought GitHub for a little less than 10 billion, we should seriously consider that this is affecting the Xbox One in the future, there is no way around it. Even as we see the Financial Times and the quotes of optional consideration “Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation,” a claim from CEO Satya Nadella. He can make all the claims he like, yet when we consider that this is a setting of constant updates, upgrades and revisions, we see the possible setting where a gamer faces the hardship that the Oracles DBM’s faced between versions 5 and 7. A possible nearly daily setting of checking libraries, updates and implementations to installed games. Yes, that is the real deal a gamer wants when he/she gets home! (Reminder: the previous part was highly speculative)

As we get presentations from the marketeers, those who brought us ‘the most powerful console on the market‘, they are likely to bring slogans in the future like ‘games that are many times larger than the media can currently hold‘, or perhaps ‘games with the option of bringing additions down the track without charge‘, or my favourite ‘games growing on every level, including smarter enemies‘. All this requires updates and upgrades, yet the basic flaw on the Xbox needing extra drives, extra hardware and power points, whilst increasing the amount of downloads with every month such a system is running is not what we signed up for, because at that point getting a gaming PC is probably the better solution. A business setting aimed at people who wanted to have fun. This is exactly the setting that puts the AU$450 PS4, AU$525 and AU$450 Nintendo Switch on the front of the mind of every gamer soon enough.

The elemental flaw that the system holds is becoming an issue for some and when (or if) they decide to push to the cloud to that extent the issues I give will only grow. Now, I will state that in a multiplayer environment, a GitHub setting has the potential to be ground breaking and my making fun with the slogans I gave in Orange, could be the true devastating settings that will form an entirely new domain in multiplayer gaming. Yet we are not there yet and we will not be there yet for some time to come. Even as Ubisoft is getting better and they did truly push the edge with AC Origin, you only have to think back to The Division, the outages and connection issues. The moment that this hits your console for single player that is the moment when you learned the lesson too late. In similar view we can state that the lessons that we learned with Ubisoft Unity, what I call clearly bad testing and perhaps a marketing push to get the game out too early ‘to satisfy shareholders‘, whilst gamers paid AU$99 for a game needing a ‘mere’ patch, which was stated in the media in 2014 as: “The fourth patch for Assassin’s Creed: Unity arrived yesterday as a sizable 6.7 GB download. At least, that’s the case for non-Xbox One players; some players using the Microsoft console are facing 40 GB downloads for the patch“. Think of that nightmare hitting your console in the future, and with the cloud the issues actually becomes more dangerous as patches were not properly synched and tested. That was the fourth, and that was before 4K gaming became the 4K option on consoles, which would have made the Unity download a speculated 80GB, over 10% of the available space of an empty Xbox One. Now, you must consider that such patches would be enormous on the PS4 pro as well, that whilst Microsoft could have prevented 40% of the issues of the issues we are faced well over a year ago, now consider how you want your gamer life to be. Do you still feel happy at present?

Oh, and Sony is not out of the woods either, even as some are really happy with the PS4Pro, it must be clearly stated that there are enough issues with frame rates on several games, all requiring their own patch, which is not a great setting for Sony to face. Even as the new games are more than likely up to scrap and previously released games like Witcher 3 are still getting patches and upgrades, the fact that God of war had issues was not a great start; the game looked amazing on either system. Still, when it comes to fun, it seems that Nintendo has the jump on both Sony and Microsoft. The Splatoon 2 weapons update (lots more weapons) is just one of the setting that will entice the Nintendo fans not put away their copy of Splatoon 2 any day soon. In addition, Amazon implied that Fallout 76 will be coming to the Nintendo switch, which is a new setting for both Sony and Microsoft. For those imagining that this is a non-issue because of the graphics need to play Metroid Prime on a GameCube and watch it being twice the value that Halo one and two gave on an Xbox (with their much higher resolution graphics). The mistaking belief that high-res graphics are the solution to everything clearly has never seen how innovative gaming on a Nintendo outperforms ‘cool looking images‘ every single time. Now that Bethesda is seeing the light, we could be in for a new age of Vault-Tec exploration, but that is merely my speculated view. That being said, the moment we see Metroid Prime 1 and 2, as well as Pikmin and Mario Sunshine on Switch that will be the day that both my Xbox One and Ps4 will be gathering dust for weeks. These games are that much more fun. I just do hope that it will not overlap with the release of some PS4 games I have been waiting for (like Spiderman), because that in equal measure implies that I need to forgo on hours of essentially needed sleep. Mother Nature tends to be a bitch when it boils down to natural needed solutions (I personally do not belief in a red bull life to play games).

So as we are in the last 4 days before the E3 begins, we are more and more confronted with speculations and anticipation. Cnet was good enough to focus on released facts, which is awesome at present. Yet we are all awaiting the news. That being said, the leaks this year has been a lot larger and revealed information has been on overload too. It might be the first sign that the E3 events could be winding down. There had been noise on the grapevine a few weeks ago, yet I was not certain how reliable that information was. The leaks and pre-release information does imply that E3 is no longer the great secret basket to wait for as it was in previous years. We will know soon, so keep on gaming and no matter which console your heart belongs to, make sure you have fun gaming!

 

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Dangers of Android?

Today I got confronted with a danger that Android poses. Yet, is this truly an Android issue? An Apple user will of course nod yes in a very rapid way. My Huawei is not the only one hindered by this. At Android central the following was found: “Are the apps definitely being removed from the App Drawer, or is it just that the shortcut is disappearing from your home screen?

This is of course a fair question, it still is not OK, but the difference between an app and a shortcut is quite the difference.

It turns out that the apps are on my phone, but they no longer run, they are now called ‘com.spyfox.tripletown‘. The apps seem to have gotten themselves damaged. The question no becomes why. At this point I also notice a program called ‘Li emotion’. The kanji next to it gives it away. My question now becomes ‘what is this and what does it do? This is because it is a separate app, I never installed it (as far as I can tell) and the rights it does have are massive. Yet there is no indication what it is, why it is on my phone and why it is allowed to do many things without my permission. It does not take too long that this is part of the Huawei Emui, so there is no real issue as the operating system needs to be able to do all this. Comprehension was the mere element that resolved everything.

This does not solve my app issue (which actually fixed itself) and gets us to the Guardian video (at http://www.theguardian.com/silent-circle-partner-zone/video/2015/aug/17/smartphone-users-read-their-app-permissions-out-loud-video). So yes, when we see the rights and speak them out loud, they sound very disconcerting. But why is it such an issue? ‘Modify calendar events and send e-mails without my knowledge‘ sounds extremely offensive, but now realise that you set up a meeting, you change the meeting and all parties are automatically updated through messages. Did you know that they got another mail stating that the meeting had changed? There you go, mystery solved. Apps ‘reading your text message‘ sounds like a worry, but is that program actually comprehending the information, or does ‘reading’ mean ‘parsing’, processing the text in all this? Computer lingo for the layman is not the easiest task.

In all this the one that stood out for me was ‘I give this app permission to automatically turn of airplane mode‘ if airplane mode was there for safety reasons (the airplane message no one ever believed that mobile phones interfered with airplane instruments), than the option to turn that off should not be allowed, but in all that, this could be as simple as the dialogue box ‘Would you like to deactivate airplane mode?‘ The video ends with ‘the biggest risk to you and your privacy is your smartphone‘, this is a decent claim to make. In all this, it is actually about users and consumers who do not understand (read comprehend) what they are agreeing to. They do not understand what they have consented to. That is always dangerous, because the things you do not realise are the issues that turn you into the greater fool. Here we can paraphrase the greater fool theory which states that “the price of an object is determined not by its intrinsic value, but rather by irrational beliefs and expectations of market participants” into “the security of your environment is determined not by the borders you mentally erect, but rather by naive believe that the applications on your smartphone will respect them“.

You see, I believe that people should be worried about privacy, and #Privacynow is a valid need, but what is your actual privacy? The way that they are getting there is a little bit of a worry, yet the path is not without valid reason. Consider the quote “It’s common for users to employ the same username and password across systems, so if someone compromises that particular password, the potential also exists for them to compromise additional user accounts“, this is a worry in one way, because is this about the safety of the phone and its apps or is this about Common Cyber Sense? Something I have been advocating for about 2 decades. So how is this a danger for Android? That is part of the issue. In my view the danger to IOS is not smaller and the danger is nor subsiding any day soon. One of the earliest sources is around 2008, in 2010 Computer world, CNet and other sources stated “About 20 percent of the 48,000 apps in the Android marketplace allow a third-party application access to sensitive or private information, according to a report released on Tuesday“, there are two sides here. In the first, is this like the earlier issues in the video and stated, ‘a form of feigned transgression?’ Or is this in the second ‘leaky security that leads to open access of information?’ There is however a third option, apps that were created that are intent on creating a backdoor that allows access to all data. It is the third that is a true danger, yet how realistic is this danger?

Computerworld stated this from a Google representative: “This report falsely suggests that Android users don’t have control over which apps access their data.  Not only must each Android app gets users’ Permission to access sensitive information, but developers must also go through billing background checks to confirm their real identities, and we will disable any apps that are found to be malicious“, this is not just clearly the case, there is supporting evidence on several levels that this is true. In addition, these parts are quotes from 2010 and since then both Apple and Google have upped the security game by a lot. Still, it is the news from last week (at http://www.wired.com/2015/10/iphone-malware-hitting-china-lets-not-next/) ‘iPhone Malware Is Hitting China. Let’s Not Be Next‘ is the issue today. The quote “Unlike previous spates of iOS-targeted malware, many of those victims hadn’t jailbroken their phones to install unauthorized apps. The two back-to-back attacks—one far more sophisticated than the other but both unprecedented in iOS’s history—suggest that complacent iPhone users around the world could be in for the same nasty shock“, the issue has now become the fact regarding ‘non jailbroken systems’, which implies that either a flaw has popped up in the Apple device, or overall a new level of access has become a worry. It is the quote that follows which now is centre in all this “Apple has said that only iOS 8.3 and earlier were left open to the attack. Later versions limited access to the APIs it exploited to plant its ads“, so we can accept that we all install the latest versions, yet what happens to those who have an older device (like the iPhone 4)? There are plenty of things people can do that prevent these issues, and in all this ‘Common Cyber Sense’ remains the big issue. So is China hindered by a massive lack of Common Cyber Sense?

Here we now see the evolution that is the danger. It is the assumption of the user. The laziness of their usage and the ignorance of the effects that they easily embrace. The quote “Don’t install strange apps that appear in pop-ups online and aren’t found in Apple’s App Store” is the big part we must adhere too (well Apple users anyway), for most people like you and me, we use the Google Play Store sources only! Both Google and Apple have their methods in place. Would a three pronged app remain the issue as implied in the article? That is hard to state, but what is clear is that 99% of the dangers can be averted by using the reliable source and that reliable source only. The application of ‘Common Cyber Sense’ can aid you in averting another 0.9999%, which means that if you install 10,000 apps, there is a one in 10,000 chance of you ending up having a chance of being in danger.

Yet in all this, we should never relax about the technology we use and the danger it could bring. It is that fear that is driving people in all kinds of corners they never need to be in. When you have sex, not the committed relationship one, but the quickie with that girl next door for some slap and tickle. In that case do you practice safe sex? When you live in the city, do you go to work leaving the front door to your apartment wide open? In that same sense, when you use any technology that has your personal information, you use more than the minimum safety. That last part requires Common Cyber Sense. To the previous generation it is a harder thing to do, but it can still be done, to my generation it is an additional side to my workflow. It is the next generation that is now the part that matters. Many are taking the casual approach their parents (or bigger siblings) have, whilst not realising that Common Cyber Sense will be at the foundation of their lives. So, any OS will come with its own perils. Be it Windows, LINUX, Android, IOS or any other OS. They will face a new area that is on the move with such high speed that there is no way to predict where they will be in 7 years’ time. The dangers of a complete rewrite in an iterative world. You see until 2000, both hardware and software remained highly innovative, it was after 2003 that the iterative world was set in high gear. First Hardware and now to a larger extent Software has been in iterative mode. Yet the world behind all this, the security part has made leaps and bounds and to some extent not in a good way. Here we can make a connection to an article by Tarleton Gillespie from 2014 called ‘Facebook’s algorithm — why our assumptions are wrong, and our concerns are right‘. The quote “I will say that social science has moved into uncharted waters in the last decade, from the embrace of computational social scientific techniques, to the use of social media as experimental data stations, to new kinds of collaborations between university researchers and the information technology industry“. In addition there is “Those who are upset about this research are, according to its defenders, just ignorant of the realities of Facebook and its algorithm. More and more of our culture is curated algorithmically“. This is not upsetting or ground breaking, but it is the next part that links to all this. It is a blog article called ‘Analytic Suspicions‘ (at https://analyticsuspicions.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/metric-failures-and-data-assumptions-4-myths-of-social-analytics/), he is looking at a few myths in social media, in all this (it is a nice read and well written), I personally see one point that is not a myth, it is a worry and it seems to me that many remain ignorant on that danger. You see, the myths whether all Social Media is analysed, that Social Media data is clean enough to Analyse, Influencers should be targeted and sentiments analyses works. In all this we forget the 5th issue (this being the non-myth). The interaction of apps and data. The dangers that we interact our apps and the data that is linked to all this that is now becoming the true issue. You see, even with all the common cyber sense no matter how safe our mobile is, the data is still somewhere and that data becomes available, more data than we agreed on. Yet in all this is the mobile OS Android/IOS the weak link?

That is the part that is not addressed by many speakers in this realm. Some get scared by places like ‘life hacker’ and some are ignoring the woeful text that passes us by, yet when places like Forbes report that ‘Report: 97% Of Mobile Malware Is On Android‘ (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2014/03/24/report-97-of-mobile-malware-is-on-android-this-is-the-easy-way-you-stay-safe/) people get worried (even though the article is more than a year old). Yet the article enlightens us in many ways. The most important quote here is “here’s the part Google’s rivals don’t want you to know: the figures are misleading“, which is one side of the foundation. The second on is the part I already discussed “stick to buying apps on the Play Store and every one in 1000 apps you buy may have had malware for a brief period“, the word ‘may’ is essential and ‘brief period’ is also essential, in the end, the chance of you getting the winning lottery ticket could be slightly higher, odds I’ll take any day.

Yet in all this, with all the protection these providers offer, the number one danger is you!

Common Cyber Sense is the essential step of reducing that danger to almost zero (like 0.0001% chance).

In the end the danger of Android is almost the same as the danger to IOS, both large players presenting into the margins, which is where the mobile phone user (you know that pesky consumer) does not tend to be. Which takes us to the final part in all this. It was my blog article from the 4th of October (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/10/04/cisa-and-privacy-are-not-opposites/) ‘CISA and Privacy are not opposites‘, we get confronted with Silent Circle and their Blackphone 2. I have no doubt that Phil Zimmermann and Mike Janke are men of knowledge, determination and possibly even innovation. Yet, these skills do in my humble opinion not match up to the killer skills of the Google engineers with their keyboards. So when we see the quote in the Guardian (see previous blog link) “Google didn’t support the initial software build, something that probably helped make the phone more popular, rather than less“, do you think that this was done in envy by Google, or because their build did not hold up to scrutiny? That last part is speculation because I have no data or any evidence going one way or another. The Blackphone is marketed by intelligent people with skills, no one will doubt that, and it is also clear that Silent Circle is now tapping into a direction that is gaining traction, which means the market will most definitely grow in this direction. Yet in all this, considering all the facts, in how much danger is your data?

Sit in a quiet corner and let that questions sink in for a minute. I have been in the data field since 1989, in all that time the biggest threat was ‘data at rest’ (data saved on a device), meaning that this implies that you have strong passwords on your hotspot and Bluetooth capabilities, or just switch these options to ‘off’, not data that is moving from point A to Point B. Today both areas are a ‘threat’ and the second one only since very recent.

Since November 2012 I have had 2 phones, the second one I got this year because only now, my Android needs had grown beyond a 1 GB RAM phone. As far as I can tell I have only faced one issue and that was due to an ignorant third party developer and their dim witted approach to synchronisation. The simple use of Common Cyber Sense is all I needed. Basic steps that nearly anyone can adhere to. The threat of criminals and organised crime will not go away. Common Cyber Sense will keep them at bay and common sense should do the rest.

Which now takes us back to the title, you see, the dangers of Android are largely between your ears. The only dangers you face are the ones you open yourself up to! You should never stop asking questions on where things are and what you sign up to, that is common sense, but also feel free to question what certain things mean, it is in the comprehension that you find the answer. If there is one conundrum to leave you with then it is not android or IOS, consider the idea that a Facebook game wants you to give them access to your religious views, whatever for?

To pray for ammunition?

Well, so be it: ‘halleluiah’, now die you zombie master and give me my 10 points towards a high score!

 

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When you BS the customer

I have had three issues on that matter, all in one week, so I reckon that I am slightly agitated in regards to projected presenters of misinformation with intent (also known as recruiters). If that was not enough, in the tech sector Verizon added to this with the article in the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/14/mobile-malware-report-verizon-smartphone-adnoyance). The article is interesting for more than one reason, so let’s get to it.

The title is a valid question as it states ‘Is mobile malware a lot of fuss over nothing?’, some will say yes, a lot more will say no. Yet, how much of an issue is mobile malware? That is in the end a valid question. Verizon, a telecom provider goes for the ‘adnoyance’ key. They are depending on people relying on a provider as without it there is no phone, but is malware just the annoyance of advertisement? Many, including me are not convinced.

One source http://securityxploded.com/demystifying-android-malware.php, gave us clear goods. The article is very ‘techie’, but also very clear, showing step by step the issue in play.

At step 8, we get the part where we see what is going on: “The application sends an SMS to the premium number 1066185829 with the text 921X1. In the background, it blocks any incoming delivery report from this number so that the victim does not get any response regarding the SMS that the application sends in the background. Also, the SMS is sent only once and never again so that the victim has no suspicion of what caused the SMS charges to be sent to him“, premium numbers are a lot more expensive, which could be around $0.75 for one SMS. Now many will not care, thinking it happened once. So what is the deal? Well, see what it amounts to when it is done a million times. We all funded one criminal $750,000 for being clever. When we go back to the beginning of the article we get “McAfee’s first quarter threat report [Reference 1] stated that with 6 million unique samples of recorded malware, Q1 2011 was the most active first quarter in malware history“. Now, not all of them were about money, advertisement annoyance is a chunk here, but the casual air of Verizon becomes slightly offensive, or so it should be when we consider that dozens of creative souls are trying to spike their bank account in this way.

Yet, the one-time loss of $0.75 is not really an issue for the consumers at large, but what is?

Now, I get back at the issue I illustrated a long time ago, when we suddenly got those issues with Facebook messenger. Where you were giving it the right to record Audio. Before I continue, I must be fair to Facebook to and add an article here (at http://www.androidcentral.com/facebook-messenger-permissions-not-scary-stories-might-have-you-believe), it goes over many rights and it does try to suss a few issues (in a good way). There were however a few other issues, mainly connected to Facebook messenger draining the battery in massive ways. My issue here is that if it drains the battery, what is it using the energy for? Just to keep the mobile out of a sleep state?

Gizmodo (at http://gizmodo.com/facebooks-messenger-app-logs-way-more-data-than-you-rea-1633441673) gave us this: “Ever since Facebook first started pushing users over to its standalone messaging app (whether they liked it or not), there have been cries of outrage over what’s seemed like an inordinately large amount of required permissions. And while there’s still no indication that Facebook has any sort of bad intent, the company is collecting a startling cache of data, according to security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski“.

In addition we get “In an email, Zdziarski said that Messenger is logging practically everything a user might do within the app, from what and where they tap, to how often a device is held in portrait versus landscape orientation; even time spent in the Messenger app, versus the time it spends running in the background. …”[Facebook is] using some private APIs I didn’t even know were available inside the sandbox to be able to pull out your WiFi SSID (which could be used to snoop on which WiFi networks you’re connected to) and are even tapping the process list for various information on the device,” he wrote in an email.

Now, like Jonathan Zdziarski, I feel compelled to believe that Facebook is not doing anything wrong or illegal, but they are collecting huge amounts of data, by the way, when this is transmitted, will that be taken of your monthly data allowance? Seems to me that Verizon is downplaying the pressure on the monthly data allowance bill.

Now we get back to Brightcloud, who is giving us ‘Android Malware Exposed‘ (at http://www.brightcloud.com/pdf/Android-Malware-Exposed.pdf). The paper has a part on Spyware. On page 12, they state “Other types of threats are those that spy on you or steal your data. There are a number of apps that are the equivalent to commercial keyloggers found on PCs. These apps offer their services to ‘track’ your kids, spouse or employees. These behaviors are easy to incorporate into an app and this begins with the easy task of requesting the necessary permissions. For example, requesting ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION, ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION, and READ_SMS will grant you access to SMS messages and GPS location“. This is the issue. It was not the $0.75, but the massive amounts of data that mobiles are working with nowadays. How long until these malware solutions get access to some of the larger collectors like Facebook? It is not that far a leap of suspicion is it?

In addition on that same page we see: “Threats which have used these spying techniques are NickySpy, Spitmo, GGTracker and GoldenEagle. NickySpy is interesting in that it utilizes the MediaRecorder() class to turn on the microphone and discretely record and save conversations to the SD Card. It is also able to send captured data to a remote server, although this functionality is not hard wired in. Below is a snippet of the function responsible for voice recording“. Now we get to the good part. The malware can be capturing events on audio without your consent and stream it. So, it was not just about the rights, it is about the ability that is unlocked to use. We focus on the big player like Facebook and Google, but we forget that data collecting is on the minds of governments, big corporations as well as organised crime and those into identity theft.

There are millions of examples, and Verizon trivialised it as ‘adnoyance’. The truth (as I see it) is that there is an entire echelon of dangers that people remain (intentional or not) oblivious to. One of the conclusions given in the article is “Trojans will continue to be bundled in repackaged APK’s and disguised as legitimate applications. With 900,000 daily Android activations worldwide, social-engineering tactics will continue to be used to trick users into installing malware“, so that friend you know that gave you the location of that free game, might in the end not be that good a friend. Unknown to him or not, that little freebee could be the start of your data going somewhere else.

Verizon might light of an issue, as it does not harm them, but it harms their customers. Instead of heralding Common Smartphone Sense, by making sure that people only download from reputable sources only (like Google Play Store), we see trivialisation. The added sentence ‘it’s unlikely to be the source of disastrous data breaches such as the Sony hack any time soon‘ adds to the failing of this article.

Malware is an issue, malware will continue to be an issue with added dangers over time and Yes, Android (as an open platform) has a larger issue to deal with. Yet, Common Smartphone Sense could reduce the dangers by 80% which is a huge diminishment of the risk the user has. In addition ‘the company estimates that just 0.03% of mobile devices are infected with “higher grade” malicious code each week’, sounds like a small number, but that implies that it is well over 600.000 phones each week. This makes it a clear issue, not a minute part. In the end, we are at 2,000,000,000 smartphones on the planet, and as that group grows, then so will the desire from some to infect that realm with higher grade malware.

In addition, two days ago, the Business Insider (at http://www.businessinsider.com.au/thousands-of-people-can-do-sony-hack-2015-4) stated ““There are probably a couple thousand, three, four, five-thousand people that could do [the Sony] attack today,” Miller told “60 Minutes.” He went on to explain that the technology used by the perpetrators of the Sony hack isn’t a custom-made program. Instead, Miller says it can be purchased online from Russian hackers for around $US30,000“, so if that is a fact, then how is North Korea still seen as the Cyber Boogieman? This issue is a lot bigger and the Smartphone is just adding to a Cyber world that is lacking security all over the place. Telecom operators will have to change the way they play the game, the moment that they are no longer seen as simple data provider through innocent dissemination. When the telecom companies are held to account, we will see a shift, one that will be a costly one for those who allowed massive amounts of data theft to remain unmonitored.

Verizon should be ashamed of itself!

 

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Trolls are real

No, this is not an episode of Grimm, where we see the Hässlich as they collect their fee. This is not the case of David Giuntoli, beheading reapers and taking care of the trolls. This is today, the trolls are real and the fee goes up by hundreds of millions. This is the case of SMARTFLASH LLC, et al. v. APPLE, INC., et al. The article was from Cnet, but I got wind of it through EpicTimes. All this got to blows not because of the amount, but because this issue has been allowed to fester for well over two decades. The issue takes a legal leap into the unknown, which is still unmanaged at present. The questions that we have to pose is in two parts.

  1. Is this a festering scene?

You see, it is nice for Apple to cry wolf, but is it a valid scene of the crying?  The fact is that Smartflash LLC has 7 patents, the first one filed Oct 25, 2000, with a Foreign Application Priority date (UK) of Nov 25th 1999, and this makes it a patent that was filed before the initial release of Apple’s iTunes, which was January 9th, 2001.

The Apple response we see (at http://www.cnet.com/news/apple-ordered-to-pay-533-million-over-alleged-itunes-patent-infringement/)

“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented. We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system”, so let’s take a look at the slightly empty response as I see it:

Makes no products‘, is not a prerequisite for a patent;

Has no employees‘, is also not an issue, someone filed for this case and someone filed for a patent. Whether this is an employee is not an issue;

Exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented‘, is slightly moot. The patent was filed before iTunes existed, hence, we could argue that Apple did not invent what they did, the latter statement is an incorrect one, but I will return to this.

Now let me rephrase the Apple statement in a very unflattering way: “Smartflash had an original idea, the idea was not novel because this is the direction the world was moving to”. This notion was a clear given ever since day two that Napster got active. The people understanding these technologies would innovate and come up with ideas. Unlike me, who  was a Patent Virgin in 1999 (and unaware of the power they hold) would see that the future is all about IP, so some of these people would file the ideas and they would stick. Now we see that Apple might have reinvented the wheel, but reinvention is no invention at all. It becomes a license and Smartflash LLC only had to wait for their chooks to grow and grow. Now pay day has arrived.

So as we go back to the initial part, questions come to mind. Questions many (including Apple) might not want an answer to, because the answer might be a lot scarier than we all imagine. You see, in previous blogs I discussed the dangers of a faltering and collapsing economy, because those in charge remained too flaccid to actually act on issues. The consequence is that if a monetary system collapses, what will replace it? In my view, the new currency for any corporation and government is Intellectual Property. If that is true, than those who own the property will become the new true wealth.

This makes Patrick Racz a visionary of massive fortune, if we see the first fee that Apple will end up paying, what will happen to the next step? What will the Samsung invoice become? Beyond that, Apple now has a choice to make, the entire DRM future is now no longer in the hands of the large industrials, so that coin will be making massive waves soon enough.

So where is the festering part? Well, Patent Trolls are not a new group. This ‘valid’ group has existed since the early 90’s. So over the last two decades, this groups had not been dealt with. The valid question becomes, should Patent Trolls be dealt with? You see, patents get bought all the time, someone goes bankrupt, the patent is bought, perhaps sold by a bank trying to limit its losses. This market evolved, because the issue as is, is that corporate ‘losses’ due to patent trolling has been exceeding 20 billion a year from 2010 onwards. So, why not act against trolling?

The question becomes is it wrong to be a troll? The Hässlich might disagree if we say yes. The fact is that those with the novel idea, might not have the means to pursue the real deal. So they might want to file their original idea. To give you an example, which you might not believe, is that I came up with the idea around 1994. Now, it could be seen as a DPod (Data Pod), my idea was not in that direction, you see. In my past I was confronted with the ‘joke’, that was known as a tape streamer. It was a backup solution that never properly worked in households. So I had the idea to make the Minidisc a backup device. To connect it to computers, so that we could copy files, the Minidisc looked like a 3.5″ floppy, but could hold hundreds of megabytes. It could have evolved the need for diskettes and it would have propelled data halve a decade earlier. I would have been decently wealthy. So, I should have patented the idea (although, in those days I did not realise I could). So as such, Patrick Racz was the clever one. Yet, in view of all this, did Apple lag? That becomes the cornerstone in all this. Does it matter? Is a more apt question. A patent was filed, Apple did not do its homework as I see it a cost comes into play.

So now we get a new issue, will Apple et al ‘force’ a change in patenting? Will capping be imposed? All decent questions that are for tomorrow. For today, Apple gets to admire its own armour, which is not as shiny as it was yesterday. I must however state, that I personally do not think that Apple did anything wrong. Now I return to the initial exploiting part I promised to revisit. They came up with an idea and they designed it. In 1370, a Dutchman named Laurens Janszoon Coster came up with an idea, it was the printing press. He came up with the idea around the same time Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg came up with the same idea. They both had similar (not identical) ideas in a time when the need for a cheaper solution was needed. The Dutch and the Germans all state that their citizen discovered the idea, which is fair enough. I think that this is a similar situation. In all fairness it seems to me that the patent system did not allow for such a situation, it does not make it right or wrong, the situation just is. In a land (US) where it is all about number one, it must now bite that this patent is in hands of a non-American. So as we realise that any system is flawed, is it flawed enough? If patents are about innovation, are the little people the solution? I have always believed that true innovation will survive, big companies will need to consider the age old situation, having the person with the ‘nice’ PowerPoint, does not mean that they have the innovation.

  1. Is it unmanaged?

Like any legal system, the Patent system is good, but is it good enough? This one case is calling for visibility, but one case does not a change make. If we go back to 2013 we see the following in Forbes (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/toddhixon/2013/10/04/for-most-small-companies-patents-are-just-about-worthless/). “But, TechCo will need to use a lot of other technology to build and deliver a complete product, e.g., the product design might be protected by a patent, but the manufacturing process might be subject to another company’s “blocking” patent“. Here is the kicker, there has been a lot of noise on how large corporations have the ability to block others. If we accept Business Insider (at http://www.businessinsider.com.au/chart-of-the-day-the-totally-useless-patent-wars-2014-10) “In other words, based on patent cases brought to court by Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, Motorola, and a host of others, litigation is, more often than not, a serious waste of time and money for all parties involved“. The question is, should the system change? Because these big boys are in disagreement, does not mean that the system should just fall away. Are these patent cases valid to begin with? If we look at the quote “As it turns out, only 20 or the 222 patent assertions (9%) were able to establish liability, but even in that small sample, only 10 of those 20 cases resulted in “lasting injunctive relief.” Mueller says that number would be even smaller if “the patents underlying Nokia’s German injunctions against HTC had come to judgment in the Federal Patent Court.”“. My question is that if the numbers are this skewed, why take it to court in the first place? What was the tactic behind it? Delay? A mere pissing contest or was this about satisfying the need for additional costs? I have no idea, but the result data speaks for itself. Is the score so impressive that pursuing a 10% chance is essential, worth the effort or it is something else?

I do not proclaim to have the answer, but the questions are not getting asked, moreover, the press at large have all quoted Apple on their ‘indignation’, but answer me this, how many papers gave any view, brought any decent quotes from Brad Caldwell apart from the one liner victory? In addition, when we see Reuters (at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/us-ip-apple-verdict-idUSKBN0LT0E720150225), the quote “Apple, which said it would appeal, said the outcome was another reason reform was needed in the patent system to curb litigation by companies that don’t make products themselves“, that sounds nice in theory, but that leaves only the large companies in charge of it all, it takes out the small innovators whilst large corporations are left choking those small innovators for a mere tuppence to get complete control. Patents were never designed to give power to the manufacturers, they were an exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention. However, as the world became all about shore term goals and iterative exploitation, in that regard patents are a massive impropriety to the need of large corporations.

Time will tell what direction the legal industry makes, for now, as Apple and Google are so about non tax accountability, the danger of actual change remains not too large (only for now).

 

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Perception from the outside

It is hard to write about this. Not because of the topic, but because of the implications that derive from the thoughts I have. You see, I have thus far always had faith in the intelligence branch. When we look beyond the implied Hollywood drama of all matters, the intelligence branch is a dedicated underpaid group trying to keep its nation and its citizens safe. Yet, what lies beneath the veneer when we look deeper into certain matters. Are they for real or are we all played by the press to some extent?

This is at the foundation, as we cannot rely on any first-hand information, especially when the press is part of it, we are left with a question mark. One that might not need answering, but one that should not be ignored, this is at the core of me, for better or worse, I seek answers.

This all started yesterday when I got wind of a Guardian article at the earliest of dawn, as a final paper was due, I just left it to look at later (that later is now). The article is ‘Lee Rigby murder: internet firm could have picked up killer’s message – report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/25/lee-rigby-murder-internet-firm-could-have-picked-up-killers-message-report-says).

Now, this should be a shock, especially to the family members of Lee Rigby, so why is this even a story? It starts with the first paragraph “Internet companies face intense demands to monitor messages on behalf of the state for signs of terrorist intent after an official report into the death of Fusilier Lee Rigby said one of his killers wrote on a website – later named as Facebook – of his desire to slaughter a soldier, without the security services knowing“, was this written by someone who had a clue? If we consider CNet (at http://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-processes-more-than-500-tb-of-data-daily/), we see that Facebook processes 500 Tb a day, now this is all manner of data, yet consider another indirect connection when we see ‘Tesco director facing questions about lobbying government over dirty chicken report‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/25/-sp-tesco-director-facing-questions-lobbying-government-dirty-chicken-report), the first paragraphs says it all (as far as information goes) “Former FSA chief Tim Smith understood to have warned Department of Health that revealing food poisoning contamination rates could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when we add the text “Tim Smith is understood to have warned the Department of Health in June that FSA proposals for publishing results, which included naming and shaming individual supermarkets, could provoke a food scare and damage the industry“, so when was all this released to the media? how much delay was there? Consider the implication of the statement in there that “it kills around 100 people and makes an estimated 280,000 sick each year“, now we get back to the implied message that might have saved Lee Rigby, if we take that a message in total is no more than 60Kb (it is a lot smaller, but could include graphics), we are looking at 8 billion messages each day (those we make, we forward or share, those we get offered as advertisement). Now, there is more, Facebook has applications with within that application message options. Not one or two, but a few dozen, which means additional messages, like simple online messengers, all that data, now also consider the implied message that the Guardian mentioned. “The report said the authorities were never told that one of the killers, Michael Adebowale, wrote of his murderous intent six months before he and his accomplice, Michael Adebolajo, brutally attacked Rigby in May 2013 in a street near his military barracks and attempted to behead him“, so finding the message, investigating it and acting on it. In well over 2.5 billion optional threats, the National lottery in the UK has better odds of winning a big price in it, so how did all this come about?

Here we get to the issue “The ISC chair, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, accused internet companies of providing a “safe haven” to terrorists but said a despite a string of failings by the security services, which had repeatedly monitored both men before the attack, there was nothing they could have done to prevent the murder of Rigby“, here I start having an issue, particularly with Sir Malcolm. Consider one sincere threat in a place where there are millions of threats, boasts and pranks, all claiming something pretentiously grandiose. It is my believe that Sir Malcolm is all about trying something different and he going about it the wrong way, he is trying to get to Damascus, via Washington and Los Angeles. Not the brightest route to take. Apart from the approach he is implying to take, he is also forgetting about a series of events that he needs to take, which will fail and in the process will enable commercial companies to actually hammer down on consumers in the wrong way. Does Sir Malcolm realise that, or did he intentionally forget about that part?

What did I mean by that? You see, the intelligence branch has access to enhanced statistical algorithms; they match it via other created profiles. Now, normally such a profile is only created when a person has too many flags in his/her name. For example members of an extreme faction, people with links to organised crime and those with additional political agendas. There is a bunch of reasons which will result on the eye of the intelligence community on you. For the most they are checked every now and then and if nothing happens, nothing happens, it is that simple, which an accumulative approach to sifting data tends to be. This is all good and proper; it is a way to protect national interests. For the most they end up verifying that you are not a threat, or not a concern to them, it comes with their territory.

The intelligence branch has resources, they are there, but they are finite. Sir Malcolm seems to be pushing for a change that is extremely dangerous, you see, at some point, Facebook, Google and others will all be shanghaied into becoming ‘volunteers’ in data oversight. They will get all kinds of tax breaks, so there will be interesting benefits for these data farms, but now we get to the real dangers. At one point, they want more and push for a change that will allow these farms access to those advanced algorithms, now we get a new problem, now we see a change where those farms will get to analyse US ALL! they will have the algorithms and the linked data no commercial enterprise should ever be allowed to have, now we will all be set into those who get access (viable as retail commodity) and those who do not matter, we will get marketed into oblivion, but now directly into the realms we use to love, it will be a push to sway us into a direction we never wanted to go, our freedom becomes a point of pressure. Consider, you might love ‘the Office’, once social media digs deep, how much will you enjoy getting 10-20 sales pitches a day on your personal interests? How long until you stop sharing interests?

Now consider the following:

The ISC said in its report: “Whilst we note that progress has started to be made on this issue, with the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (Drip) and the appointment of the special envoy on intelligence and law-enforcement data-sharing, the problem is acute. The prime minister, with the National Security Council, should prioritise this issue”.

The part not mentioned or looked at is data retention. I wrote about it on October 2nd 2014 in ‘Advice from the press?‘ there I wrote “I am still convinced that if data retention becomes a larger issue, the intelligence community will be lacking in hardware, knowledge and staff to deal with these massive amounts of data, which leaves us open to other issues, yet this is just my view!“, now we see a push that social media will do more scanning.

The next two paragraphs illustrate certain dangers down the track: “Adebolajo, the more dominant of the two, had featured in five MI5 investigations and Adebowale in two, but none found evidence of an attack. The ISC said MI5 made errors and was plagued by delays, but even if corrected none of this would have helped the security service to spot the level of danger posed by the attackers before they struck“, so how could we have kept Lee Rigby alive? The information to the better extent is stating that this would not have been the case and I am not the only one thinking this.

When we consider “The Guardian understands senior figures in MI6 expressed anger at the criticisms in the report. One source familiar with the committee’s work said: “It is fair to say that the chaps across the river are not happy at all.”“, we see another part. This is not just within the UK, the UK needs to protect itself, especially with the ISIS acceleration we see all over North Africa and in the Middle-East; this all requires a new strategy. Data is at the centre of it, that part is correctly seen by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the ISC. Yet, my issue is the view the man seems to have in regards to integrity. Commercial enterprises have no integrity and to a larger extent, neither do internet providers. So we have an upcoming issue. The next part you the reader might observe is the part that was not clearly seen in the article and it has been part of the events that miss one item as we see these discussions.

What time is it?

Yes, the timeline! That is part of all this. No matter how lovely that ‘donut’ looks in London, the people there have been delaying with an increased amount of data. I personally would consider it to be in excess of 30% in growth per year, which means that the data collectors and analytical group grows over 100% in size in a little over 3 years, the accumulated requirement for the UK, and beyond that the Commonwealth requires growth beyond that. In my view, letting places like Facebook crunch that data and giving them access to some of these algorithms is clearly a bad idea. In addition, consider that these firms could harbour ‘sympathisers’ to chaos. Once these algorithms gets into other hands, how long until those supporting ISIS and like-minded extremists will get a handle on lowering their profile even further, making this entire approach pointless?

That danger is twofold, storage, which is the non-essential part. As storage seems to become cheaper and cheaper, that part will be decently manageable overall, the other part is the issue, processing power. We can want for all the processors we can, but the power processors of tomorrow are less and less equipped to deal with such a growing load of data. Now consider that this is just Facebook, how much additional data will we need to see mail providers, twitter, Instagram and loads of other multi Gigabyte collecting options. There is no denying that data needs to be looked at, yet direct data crunching is less and less an option. The question becomes how to tackle it, can or even the question should it be tackled like this at all?

That is the dangerous side, isn’t it? When we are confronted with such an abundance of data, why seek the pressured solution? Let’s not forget that the example taken here, namely Lee Rigby, would not have been saved. So why try to seek a solution in such a pressured environment? Consider the lottery example; if 1,000 out of the 5 billion are death threats, we get a number one in 5 million, now we need to tackle these 1000 messages, which ones are genuine? Consider that some are below the radar, which means that some could be WRONGLY disregarded. Add to that the danger of a prank jest where a group and all THEIR friends send one threat regarding a VIP, politician or regent. It would drown out intelligence resources in mere minutes.

So yes, no one denies that something must be done, yet giving social media these responsibilities is not the best idea, giving them access in some way to other algorithms is less a solution, we are in a shift of dimensions, an interaction of data dimensions and profiling intelligence. Consider the NSA data center in Utah, costing over 5 billion in total, in addition, the cost of electricity, manpower and other costs, taking it to an additional 50 million a year (for just one location). Now consider that this centre will need to grow processing power in excess of 50% within two years, how much additional costs will it require? Add to this the energy needs, well over 60 Megawatts, yet within 2 years, that could be closer to 80 megawatts. That means in excess of 10 wind turbines, just for one location, the equivalent of 15,000 households of energy. I think that certain parties are not thinking in the right location, if we disregard the lack of expertise and an offer (in abundance) of revenue based (read commission seeking) expertise, it seems to me that even though data should never be ignored, certain approaches will require a different hand.

Perhaps it is not a new solution they need, but to reinstate a very old one.

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Billion dollar blame

Some do it quick, some do it with conviction, some take a life time and some don’t experience it at all. You might want to guess on what naughtiness I am talking about. It is simple negative profit in a firm. Some seem clear, some are to be expected and some are just plain ignorant.

We could rephrase them as the alphabet, like A is for Airline that’s lost in the queue; B is for banks, who lost more than a few. But then, that nursery rhyme would get boring real quick. The issue is not Tesco, not as we read in Bloomberg: ‘Bank of America Lost $2.7 Billion in a Maze of Accounting‘, it is simple overreaching. First the car industry, now the mobile industry is getting hammered. It would be fine to just blame Apple, who does have a stake in this, but in the end the true culprit is what I call ‘lack of vision‘.

Sony is downgrading its profits to far below zero. It is projecting a loss of 2,140,000,000 at the end of the current financial year. So we are talking about a loss so big, I personally believe is that those ‘idea-illogicals’ are still with their heads in the pre-recession era, they keep on believing that the old ways still work. Guess what! That time is gone, the financial institutions and banks changed that game forever.

The electronics empire initially forecast a $466 million net loss by the end of the current financial year, but has now informed investors that the projected loss has been revised to $2.14 billion. That is the budget for a small nation, so how is Sony still around? Well, that is not about that part of the equation, but it is an interesting question to consider for the future. The biggest issue is with their mobiles and we should wonder how they are currently surviving. I have nothing against Sony mobiles, I have had Nokia mobiles, I have Sony mobiles and mobiles from Ericsson and currently I use a Motorola. The entire mobile market is plummeting, Apple is doing fine, but overall they are likely to see a peaking of profits too.

Why?

Well, like those in the car industry, the people behind them are just not too clued in. They listen to ‘experts’, ‘analysts’ and from there they think that they comprehend their customers. They get market research, get 1000-2000 responses, weigh the hell out of the data and they consider that they have the knowledge.

Guess what, it does not work that way!

True investigation takes more, takes longer and takes actual preparation. Some half-baked set-up, which is quickly designed on Monday, live on Tuesday, data collected up to Thursday and reporting on Friday can work for some parts to get a general idea, but in the end, you will not get the ACTUAL wisdom you need. And guess what, it is not just Sony doing this; there are a few other larger players. Apple, Alcatel, BenQ, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Siemens and Sony Ericsson et all. All of them have several models; most of them are not that cheap.

To this I add two facts. The first one is the economy. It has been 10 years when the 2004 crash came, that hit many people, then the 2008 crash that turned a massive amount of people over the brink of poverty. In that decade the consumer lost close to 21% of purchasing powers. In that decade, the bulk of all people lost a job, or was retrenched at least once, was forced to live on a frozen income, whilst prices of food and housing kept rising and many are not dealing with their debt, so that part is also hanging round their necks as an anchor. The consumer markets ignored that part and now they see the fallout, a fallout that could have been clear to them for at least 3 years, so the writing is not just on the wall, it is a massive neon billboard that was ignored by those who should not have done this (at http://www.cnet.com/au/news/sony-forecasts-2-1-billion-loss-this-year-due-to-its-smartphone-business/)

There is additional ‘evidence’, which is seen here in the quote “The Company blamed the ‘competitive environment of the mobile business.’ Sony has been hammered by competition and an inability to find distributors in key markets such as the US“, I consider that to be a statement of falsehood. Why?

Well, that is always the real question. Consider the list I gave earlier. Siemens has lost a large share, Ericsson lost it as it united with Sony (the company in question), Alcatel was never the largest party in this and neither is Siemens. Huawei is relatively new and several smaller ones do not make the list any more (like NEC), so overall Sony should have consolidated its visibility, but it did not and neither did Nokia. Apple, Samsung and HTC grew, yet overall Sony should not have lost THAT amount, which means that there is more. I blame the over flooding and iterative consumer model as one reason, such a model cannot be sustained if you cannot grow the customer base and that part is currently diminishing and will keep on diminishing for another 2 years. We can no longer afford a new mobile or car every year, in all honesty, we never could, but that part is mainly the result from the pushed idea of ‘ego’ and peer pressure.

The second quote that gives the ‘frying pan’ and ‘the fire’ expression is: “While its Xperia Z3 flagship is making its way into the US through T-Mobile“, many consumers have had enough of being held over a barrel by telecom providers, the ‘new’ mobile is less and less an incentive to hold on to a solution, that side only works for business customers and they too are shopping in the margins. The final quote is “companies such as Google and Microsoft are laying out plans to broaden their reach into the emerging markets with more affordable smartphones“, that group is now targeting the ACTUAL consumers that are available. Huawei had an advantage there, but they are quickly losing that advantage as they emulate Samsung and HTC more and more.

You see, in this day and age, mobile makers have been pressing the ‘exclusivity’ option just a little too long and now the towers break down. You do not have to believe it, but not unlike the car industry, we do not need 7 models with 22 configurations. That image is created by advertisers, finding people telling you that ‘choice’ is all about ‘individuality’ whilst they try to sell that same package to millions; it is a fake concept as I see it. Yes, we want some choice, but the consumer driven industry took that way over the top. That same issue we have seen in mobiles for some time now and the bigger players, coming with half a dozen models are now finding that they are selling ‘hot’ cakes from a fridge in a place where there is no electricity. So why the ridiculous amounts of ‘add-ons’?

Apple avoided most of the issues by having one phone in 3-4 options, where memory was the choice. We do not need 8-12 models, having one phone, which does most, would suffice. Then we get the issue with price, smaller models cost some, or need a ‘contract’, in my eyes it is an interaction of pimping and harlotry for customers, but who is who is not clear to the consumer. Consider that many do not have $800 for a phone, yes we get options for cheaper, but many providers offer a lot less at that point, whilst a generic cheaper phone would be the solution to many, brands are ego pushing the more expensive models at any given opportunity. Although Huawei seemed to have nailed the market, they seem to slowly start making the same error the others are making. Consider that Huawei offered a 4G phone for less than half the price (unlocked and free of contract) than many other providers, so why would we pay twice the price?

Let’s not forget that many providers are no longer delivering a reliable mobile. If it has android than it is likely that the phone is forcing Google search down our throats, whilst forcing people to store all data on a Google account, so that they can copy the data. Apparently there is a way to switch that off, but the result is implied to be so disgustingly customer unfriendly, that we are starting to wonder whether criminal charges are in order. Now, my Motorola suddenly got ‘enhanced’ buttons at the bottom, where it seems that there is a software overlaid button that FORCES me to Google search. How was that MY choice?

So, in the age of data, the market will soon belong to the mobile maker that will respect the customer and BY DEFAULT, let the person choose what they want to do with their data, photos and other smart phone parts. This is all linked, because where confidence dwindles, people are less likely to choose a smart phone and more likely to go back to the old days of the Nokia 1100 (with silver LCD screen, offering voice and SMS only, oh and it avoided bank security for a little while).

It is my firm believe that if big boys like Sony, Nokia and others want to turn their market around, they will need to take time to ACTUALLY learn their customers’ needs and not force corporate choice as customer wishes down the throats of these consumers. For example, instead of 19 Nokia Lumia models make 4 with one extra landscape option. If you only need 5 models, you can simplify the process, down production costs, distribution complications and get a better return. It is just a crazy thought, but what do I know. I thought that the Lumia was gorgeous, but I am not paying $935 for a phone, not in this age of theft and pickpockets, especially as phone insurances are getting less and less affordable. Sony should consider that same idea. Do you think Apple was lazy? 2 phone models, each with three memory options, which means two models each with three memory chip options. NO! Apple foresaw the complicated BS that others face and as such they have more than a small corner in the market. This is odd as the main component for a phone is its battery and Sony has always had superior battery technology, so Sony should have been the number one choice, but alas, that is not the case, so why do we see a contender with a superior key part run a market at minus 2000 million? Beats me, but someone is clearly asleep at the wheel.

Of course, I admit that I am oversimplifying the entire issue, but am I so wrong? I do not think so. I will admit that I missed a few issues in this, but as Sony is at minus a lot and others have a dwindling market, I feel that I am onto something. I am also certain that people have had enough of data collection and these mobile players to use their consumers as off the books revenue piggy banks, the first one to change the wheel on that process might end up owning the market. For those who would ‘ignore’ that path, remember that no matter how ‘valuable’ that data seems to be, once the customers walk away, you end up without data and without people using your product. Sony has the option to bounce back, but that window of opportunity is small and quickly getting smaller as Google and Microsoft are tapping into their own worlds. Sony might have not have that many options left and they forgot the one lesson Miyamoto Musashi instilled upon them almost 450 years ago: “If you do not control the enemy, the enemy will control you”, they forgot this lesson as well as the fact that ego is as much an enemy as an actual opponent, especially as ego is not regarded as an enemy until it strikes after which it gets named Hinan!

 

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