Archive for Cloud

Digital Number Plates

Dubai is once again in the news for being an adopter of new technologies after an announcement that it will be hosting a trial of digital vehicle number plates next month.

Smart Plates

The ‘smart plates’ will have digital screens, GPS and transmitters, and according to the head of the Vehicle Licensing Department at Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), the digital plates will make life easier for drivers.
The trial of the new plates is scheduled to start next month and end in November, and one of the key things that is being tested, as well as the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) Tag2Connect (T2C) platform, is thought to be whether any issues / problems may be caused to the hardware and operation of the plates by Dubai’s desert climate.

The smart plates system incorporates Blockchain technology, the same technology behind the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

Why Have Digital Number Plates?

In reality, the plates will have benefits for Dubai’s government as well as for drivers e.g. through being able to track vehicles (via transmitters in the plates), and for the police to gather detailed information quickly about cars and their drivers.

Ways in which drivers could benefit from using the plates include:

  • Allowing real-time communication with other drivers about traffic conditions or any accidents ahead.
  • Contacting the police and ambulance services if the vehicle is involved in a collision.
  • Enabling plates to be changed using the RTA’s app or website.
  • Enabling automatic deductions from users’ accounts for e.g. payment for fines, parking fees or renewing registration plates.

Other Technologies Adopted In Dubai

Dubai is making a name for itself internationally as a place that is proactive in adopting the latest technology. For example:

  • Back in February 2016, Dubai committed to putting all its documents on Blockchain’s shared open database system by 2020 in order to help to cut through Middle Eastern bureaucracy, speed up civic transactions and processes, and help bring a positive transformation to the whole region.
  • In February last year, it was announced by Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Agency, that passengers could be able to use Ehang 184, electric-powered, pilotless, self-flying drone taxis. The app-hailed taxis can travel at 100 mph / 160km/hr top speed, this means that it can travel 31 miles in one trip.
  • Plans for high-speed Hyperloop pods to open by 2020. These pods should be able to transport passengers to the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi in just 12 minutes (covering distances of over 120km / 75 miles).
  • Plans to expand the use of technology in transport, and hopes for self-driving vehicles to be making a quarter of all journeys by 2030.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Some may say that given the wealth of Dubai and the speed of its development in recent years, it is not a big surprise that it is able to afford trials and adoption of the latest technology, and that its road network and geography make it well-suited to driverless vehicles, drones etc.

Some commentators, however, have expressed concerns about the tracking of drivers, and potential issues surrounding privacy and information security.

New transport technologies that are planned for Dubai, such as driverless vehicles, have also experienced some bad publicity recently with the woman killed in Arizona last month when she was hit by an autonomous Uber car.

Smart number plates are an example of how smart technology is providing business opportunities, and bringing simpler, more centralised systems around the world. For example, it is thought that the smart plate system in Dubai will bring together on a single platform all stakeholders e.g. manufacturers, dealers, workshops, insurers, licensing authorities, police and vehicles owners. This could be an example of how greater transparency could be brought to an industry using technology.

Wearable Tech Could Help Solve Murder

Police in Australia are reported to be using data recorded by a murder victim’s Apple smartwatch to help catch her killer.

Murder

The victim and owner of the smartwatch was Grandmother Myrna Nilsson, who was found dead in the laundry of her Valley View home in Adelaide’s north-east in September 2016.

The prime suspect in the murder case is daughter-in-law Caroline Dela Rose Nilsson, who was found gagged and distressed at the scene, and who told Police that her mother-in-law had been followed home by (and had argued at length with) a group of men in a car.

How Could The Watch Data Help?

The Apple watch contains sensors that can measure fitness signals such as heart rate. The watch can also track a person’s movements and, being a watch, it can link the other signals to the exact time.

It is believed that this data could indicate when the victim’s heart rate indicated a loss of consciousness as well as the actual time of death.

Contradiction

Reports about the case so far indicate that while the daughter-in-law’s testimony puts the time of death at around 10pm, and that her mother-in-law allegedly argued with the men for 20 minutes, the data from the watch is not consistent with this version of events.

Reports about evidence uncovered by the Prosecutor in the case, Carmen Matteo, show that watch data shows activity consistent with the victim being ambushed and attacked as she walked into her home just after 6:30pm. The watch is also reported to show activity and heart rate measurements consistent with her body going into shock and losing consciousness.

According to the Apple watch, the deceased must have been attacked at around 6:38pm and had died by 6:45pm, some 3 hours earlier than the time stated by the daughter-in-law.

Bail Denied

The strength and apparent reliability of the watch data has been enough to lead Magistrate Oliver Koehn to deny bail to Ms Nilsson.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Our phones and gadgets are now tracking devices, and can store or transmit a lot of data about us and our activities. In the right hands, as in this case and in situations where mobile phone signals have been used in legal cases, this information can be valuable for some very important reasons i.e. in the interest of justice for victims and their families.

In the wrong hands e.g. ‘sports wearables’ possibly leaking our login credentials and transmitting our activity tracking information in a non-secure way such as that identified back in February 2016 in Canadian research by Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, could make us more vulnerable to crime.

This story should also, therefore, be a reminder to manufacturers of wearable technology that security and privacy of the data stored and transmitted about us should always be a priority, and it is in the interest of the manufacturer and the customer that correct safeguards are taken. After all, as this case proves, you never quite know how useful the secure, uncorrupted data from a mobile or wearable device could turn out to be.

Tech Tip – Google Keep

If you need to jot down ideas and to-dos and share them with team members, you may find ‘Google Keep’ a useful tool.

With Google Keep can:

– Record voice memos within Google Keep on your Android or iOS device.
– Transcribe text from pictures, so you don’t have to worry about typing up notes from a meeting or whiteboard session – you can even photograph a note to get the text from it.
– Create drawings and search hand written notes.
– Take notes you’ve created in Keep, and drag them into Google Docs e.g. client proposals and more.

Fighting Exploitation Via Blockchain and Coke

Coca-Cola, the US State Department, and 2 other companies are working on a project to used blockchain to fight forced labour worldwide.

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain is an incorruptible peer-to-peer network (a kind of ledger) that allows multiple parties to transfer value in a secure and transparent way. Blockchain’s Co-Founder Nic Carey describes Blockchain as being like “a big spreadsheet in the cloud that anyone can use, but no one can erase or modify”.

Forced-Labour

The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are nearly 25 million people working in forced-labour conditions worldwide, and 47% of them in the Asia-Pacific region.

The kind of work where there is known to be forced-labour varies, but many are engaged in work that contributes to products for food and beverage e.g. forced-labour in countries where sugarcane is produced.

A KnowTheChain (KTC), a partnership founded by U.S.-based Humanity United, showed that most food and beverage companies could be doing more solve the problem.

Coca-Cola Committed

As part of a new partnership, Coca-Cola has now committed to conduct 28 country-level studies on child labour, forced-labour, and land rights for its sugar supply chains by 2020.

Blockchain

Blockchain’s validation and digital notary capabilities are being used in the new project to create a secure registry for workers and their contracts. The project, involving Trust Accelerator (BTA), a non-profit organization, the US State Department, Coca-Cola, and U.S.-based Humanity United, will use blockchain to create a validated chain of evidence that will encourage compliance with labour contracts.

US tech company The Bitfury Group, will build the blockchain platform, while Emercoin will provide blockchain services.

Blockchain Used To Reduce Child Labour Too

Earlier this month it was reported that blockchain is also being used in a pilot project between car-maker BMW and start-up Circulor with a view to eliminating battery minerals produced using child labour. In that project, blockchain is being used to help provide a way to prove that artisanal miners are not using child labour in their cobalt mining activities. Bags of cobalt are given a digital tag which can be entered into blockchain using a mobile phone. The details of the digital tag can then be entered by each link in the chain of buyers, thereby providing a clear, verifiable trail, all the way from miner to smelter.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The new project involving Coca-Cola is another example of how blockchain is being used to ethically add value, genuinely reduce suffering and exploitation, and shows how this new technology can deliver social impact. One of the strengths central to blockchain is that it offers an incorruptible and transparent system that can provide a much greater, and more reliable level of proof that something has happened in the correct way in a value chain. Many different types of businesses can use blockchain to categorically prove a certain source and route for e.g. delivery, raw materials or production. This is proving to be particularly valuable to businesses where provenance is necessary to add to the monetary, ethical or other value of a product, service, and brand.

Dropbox Integrates With Google Cloud and G-Suite

Dropbox has announced that it is now one step closer to delivering a unified home for work by forming a new partnership with Google Cloud that will integrate G-Suite in its cloud storage.

What Was The Problem?

Dropbox had been looking for ways to respond to the need for users to be able to make projects easier to manage, centralise their frequently used files and information, and reduce the time wasted in having to swap between files and bits of work scattered across storage buckets, apps, and devices. The company is also looking for new ways to compete in a crowded cloud storage market.

The new integration that the partnership will deliver to all Dropbox users will mean that they can use Dropbox to create, open, and edit Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files live. It will also mean that Business Administrators will be able to manage Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files like any other content that resides in Dropbox.

With a G Suite made accessible, no matter what tools users bring to work, Dropbox and Google customers will be able to better collaborate with their frequently used tools.

Additional Native G Suite Integrations

As well as being able to use Google Docs and files in Dropbox, users will also be able to benefit from additional native G Suite integrations e.g. with Gmail and Hangouts Chat. This could help teams to stay connected with project content and the conversations around it. The Gmail add-on will allow users to display the dates of creation, modification, and last-accessed for linked files, and the Hangouts integration will bring previews for linked files directly to chats.

When Is It Available?

The new Dropbox, Google Cloud and G-Suite integration will be made available to Dropbox customers in the second half of 2018.

One of Many Collaborations For Dropbox

This is one of many collaborations with leading brands for Dropbox in recent times. For example, Dropbox has formed partnerships with Adobe Creative Cloud and its Adobe XD, Microsoft, Apple, and Workplace by Facebook.

Answer To Competition

The latest partnership with Google is another way that Dropbox can fight back against some fierce competition from the likes of Microsoft. For example, Microsoft is reported to have been trying to lure users of cloud services from Box, Dropbox and Alphabet’s Google Drive by giving them its competitive product ‘OneDrive for Business’ for free until their current contract expires. Microsoft will be running the promotional switching offer for the next five months.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For businesses that collaborate online and need to centralise stored documents, this latest partnership is likely to be good news. The promise of centralised content, secure collaboration, and more effective communication through platforms that are already in popular use for many businesses could bring cost and time savings, reduce wastage and frustration, and could improve competitiveness by simplifying things.

All the collaborations between Dropbox and other leading brands could be particularly beneficial to small businesses that will be able to more easily access files, documents and other types of data they need on a daily basis.

Also, this good news about Dropbox can only be helpful in making some headway in restoring trust and helping customers to forget about the bad news from last September when it was revealed that the usernames, email addresses and encrypted passwords of an astonishing 68 million customers, stolen in a hack back in 2012 had re-surfaced in a leak.

Blockchain Used To Reduce Child Labour

Blockchain Used To Reduce Child Labour Blockchain, the same technology that powers the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, is being tested in a pilot project between car-maker BMW and start-up Circulor with a view to eliminating battery minerals produced using child labour.

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain is an incorruptible peer-to-peer network (a kind of ledger) that allows multiple parties to transfer value in a secure and transparent way. Blockchain’s Co-Founder Nic Carey describes Blockchain as being like “a big spreadsheet in the cloud that anyone can use, but no one can erase or modify”.

Battery Mineral Problem

The pilot between BMW and Circulor is focusing on reducing child labour by finding a way to avoid using any cobalt that is mined in unregulated artisanal mines in Democratic Republic of Congo. At the moment one fifth of cobalt is mined in a way that often uses child labour.

How Can Blockchain Help?

The pilot project is using Blockchain to help provide a way to prove that artisanal miners are not using child labour in their cobalt mining activities.

Each bag of cobalt produced by an artisanal miner will be given a digital tag. This tag will be entered into Blockchain using a mobile phone. The details of the digital tag will then be entered by each link in the chain of buyers, thereby providing a clear, verifiable trail, all the way from miner to smelter. Since Blockchain is ‘incorruptible’, provided all organizations throughout the supply chain will be involved in the project, the Blockchain evidence should be accurate.

Challenges

Challenges to the system being tested in the pilot could include cobalt mined by a child could simply being mixed in with ‘clean’ cobalt prior to processing.

Used In Similar Industries

There is every reason to think that Blockchain could help with ethical cobalt mining and supply because it has been used in a similar way by the diamond industry to provide a forgery-proof record of a diamond’s lifecycle.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The Blockchain technology has always shown huge promise, beyond simply being used in digital currencies. One of its key strengths is that trust is embedded into the incorruptible system. This means that businesses can use it to categorically prove a certain source and route for e.g. delivery, raw materials or production. This could be particularly valuable to businesses where provenance of some kind is necessary to add to the monetary, ethical or other value of a product or service.

After first being used in the financial, legal and public sectors, Blockchain is now being used by businesses and organisations around the world in many other different ways such as:

  • Using the data on a Blockchain ledger to record the temperature of sensitive medicines being transported from manufacturers to hospitals in hot climates. The ‘incorruptible’ aspect of the Blockchain data gives a clear record of care and responsibility along the whole supply chain.
  • Using an IBM-based Blockchain ledger to record data about wine certification, ownership and storage history. This has helped to combat fraud in the industry and has provided provenance and re-assurance to buyers.
  • Shipping Company Maersk using a Blockchain-based system for tracking consignments that addresses visibility and efficiency i.e. digitising a formerly paper-based process that involved multiple interactions.
  • Start-up company ‘Electron’ building a Blockchain-based system for sharing information between those involved in supplying energy which could speed up and simplify the supplier switching process. It may also be used for smart grid processes, such as local load-balancing of supply and demand.
  • Australian start-up Zimrii developing a Blockchain-based service that allows independent musicians to sell downloads to fans, distribute the proceeds between collaborators, and allow interaction with managers.

Blockchain still has huge untapped potential for all kinds of businesses and could represent a major opportunity to improve services, and effectively tackle visibility, transparency and efficiency issues.

How Dedicated Network Connections For The Cloud Could Save Businesses A Lot Of Worry

Whilst the cloud has been utilised by companies all over the world, many business owners are still left feeling a little uneasy with the idea of having important data on the wrong side of their own personal security protocols.

The hybrid-cloud, an alternative to standard cloud computing, allows companies to retain some of their vital digital information in house by having total control and utilising their own defences against any potential security threat to their stored data.

Despite this, companies need more from the cloud to have the assurance that they don’t have to look after their precious data themselves.

Cloud_computing

The answer could come from new network services, which are being offered by cloud-service providers to create a connection between the clients infrastructure and the PoP (Points of Presence) of the provider.

These dedicated connections, rather than the standard internet pathway, mean that clients would not have to share their bandwidth with anyone else, can increase and decrease their bandwidth as they please and benefit from easily-transferable data that eliminates internet insecurities.

These dedicated connections between provider and client are not new and are well tested, so companies can feel more assured about the data they store on the cloud by following up this type of data storage service.

For more information on Safe & Secure Cloud Storage Services, get in touch with Pronetic today and we’ll take you through our various technology options for your business.

Useful Password Management Tools For Your Business

We’ve all had to go through the struggle of forgetting our passwords at some point in our lives, but for a thriving business with all kinds of login details affiliated to social media sites and programs across the internet, it can really damage the productivity of a working day.

SafeWalletLogo

Thankfully, various iOS-based applications specifically designed for password management are available in the App Store today, providing iOS users with useful organisation methods that combat the irritating prospect of forgetting your password and keep your online business secure.

It’s important for passwords to remain secure and this is what separates the good password management tools from the great ones. Here are three password management applications we feel your business can’t do without:

1Password

1Password is a really useful password management tool that gives you a wide range of useful features for a reasonable £17.99 in the App Store, whilst it’s also available on other separate operating systems. You can group your individual passwords together to create a well organised categorical system, whilst it can also create highly complex passwords for you to use.

mSecure

mSecure uses an encryption tool to ensure that a password remains secure at all times, whilst it doesn’t save any of your passwords away in the application itself, giving you an extra level of much needed security. You’ll receive automatic backup reminders every now and then and a useful password generator. One of its best features is its custom layout that lets you store all kinds of important data, from key codes and bank account data to safe combinations.

iCloud Keychain

iCloud Keychain is an incredibly useful tool that uses the secure iCloud storage system to maintain important data for you or your business, including credit card details, logins, networks and so on. It works across a number of different platforms and encrypts your important data so that you can access it from the iCloud whenever you need to. You’ll get a free 5GB account on installation, with room for expansion should you feel it necessary.

 

 

 

Facebook Splash Out $2 billion On Oculus Rift – Is This Good News?

Facebook recently decided to splash out on Oculus’ virtual reality system, the Oculus Rift. The question is, have Facebook got it in them to take virtual reality to the next level, and is the $2 billion purchase really worth it for a company that knows next to nothing about gaming?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tech experts and various critics have criticised the purchase, mainly because they felt the Kickstarter campaign was something that could succeed on its own. However, the benefits of Facebook’s acquisition have also been recognised.

Good

  • More money for Oculus. Better chance of going the distance and achieving great things.
  • Technology that can provide for multiple industries and not just for gaming.
  • It will get the reception it needs to succeed on the release date

The Bad

  • Facebook aren’t a trusted company when it comes to online security. Are consumers going to be happy with Facebook taking over a gaming platform after their history with user privacy?
  • Developers don’t like working with Facebook due to unfriendly business terms.
  • Will Oculus still be recognised for their achievements once Facebook starts advertising?

Pronetic know all about online security, but we’re also experts in providing our clients with IT Security Services. Get in touch today and discover how we can improve the security of your online business.

 

World Wide Web’s 25th Anniversary: The Foundation of the Internet

Today marks a significant date in the history of the World Wide Web. It was 25 years ago today when computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee introduced his proposal for the World Wide Web to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). We have encountered all sorts of developments over the years, from the introduction of social media to the importance of IT & data security but in truth, the platform built by Berners-Lee has remained.

World_wide_web

Berners-Lee found that CERN scientists were searching for alternatives to travelling internationally and returning to their laboratories in order to collect and share data. He was also keen to explore the true potential of the internet and whether or not we could connect computers through large-scale online communities.

Berners-Lee made a proposal to CERN that incorporated the idea of having technology that would adjust the internet to meet the needs and demands of its users. For scientists at CERN this would involve sharing important data without the need for long distance travel.

At first, his proposal was rejected by CERN yet he continued to push for a breakthrough in groundbreaking online technologies. He created three essential technologies, HTML, HTTP and URI, which have since become vital to today’s World Wide Web. Berners-Lee created his first web page in 1990 and it was finally made available to the general public just three years later and is still going strong in 2014. Who knows what the internet will be like in 50 years time?