Where is technology taking us?

Where is technology taking us
One world loads of technology

This month we have trawled articles on the Net and looked at some ideas of where tech is going. Most of the credit for this content belongs to https://highexistence.com/10-ways-the-next-10-years-are-going-to-be-mind-blowing/, I have then added some of my observations. Here are some we have pulled together for you to think about and watch this space as they appear over the next few months and years. Please note that these ideas and statements are pulled from various sources and just give a reflection of what is happening. The nature of the beast is by the time you type these articles things have moved on.

Bio Technology

Bionic Hand controlled by brain signals

Okay, it doesn’t let you crush rocks as you would think, BUT it does allow people without fingers to have fully functional hands that can pick up and handle delicate objects. It is completely controlled by the brain and requires no surgery. Touch Bionics, the company the produces the Pro Digits hand, is able to install the hand complete with “living skin,” a plastic covering resembling human skin, for under $50,000.

Computer Speed, Size and Usability

Speed

Most people tech-nerds know of Moore’s Law from 1965 (the number of transistors we are able to cheaply put in computer chips doubles every year, thereby doubling the speed).  However, most people don’t know that Moore, himself, came out and said his law will most likely fail finally in 2020 where the number of transistors we can put on chips will be limited by the laws of physics. Does this mean the exponential rise in computer processing speed will come to a halt in ten years?

Not a chance, says Jim Tully, chief of research for semiconductors at Gartner. “The technology which will replace this is a bottom-up approach, where chips will be assembled using individual atoms or molecules, a type of nanotechnology.”

Ray Kurzweil, a well-respected Futurist, stated in 2008 that when this molecular computing technology comes out in 2020, computers will have the intellectual capability of human beings. You might want to digest that for a minute before moving onto the next section.

That Macbook Air is pretty damn thin. So thin, in fact, that it makes you wonder if physical computers will even exist in 2020. Well according to developers at Intel, the keyboard and mouse surely won’t. Who needs QWERTY when you can control a computer with your mind?

“We’re trying to prove you can do interesting things with brain waves,” said Intel researcher Dean Pomerleau. “Eventually people may be willing to be more committed … to brain implants. Imagine being able to surf the Web with the power of your thoughts.”

Pomerleau and countless research groups around the world are working with brain scanning devices to map blood flow in the brain. They have found that when different individual focus on the same image, they have very similar patterns of blood flow in their brains. For example, one British group announced that they could discern where subjects wherein a computer-generated virtual environment by looking at where blood flowed in their brains.

How we interact with the world

The way in which we interact with the outside world has changed SO much since the introduction of the internet, smartphones, etc. In the very near future, another huge jump will be made: integrating the information on the internet with our surroundings.

By that, I mean being able to look at a building, product or place and immediately seeing information about the subject on our devices and eventually just with our eyes.

If you’re still confused as to what I mean, check out the earliest innovation of this concept, Goggles by Google. This app allows you to take a picture of whatever you are looking at and instantly receive info about it on your Android phone.

Like the video says, Goggle is only scratching at the surface of this technology. Kurzweil says that “By 2020 we’ll routinely have pop-ups in our visual field of view that give us background about the people and places that we’re looking at.” Your memory and the vast information bank of the internet will be one at all times.

Until we can do this with a chip in our brain, a new device has come out that overlays video onto our normal vision using special glasses. It’s called the Vuzix display Wrap 920AR and it goes on sale soon for around $800.

Energy

Solar energy will soon leave fossil fuels and inefficient wind farms in the dust. According to Kurzweil, “the cost per watt of solar energy is coming down rapidly and the total amount of solar energy is growing exponentially. It has in fact been doubling every two years for the past 20 years and is now only eight doublings away from meeting all of the world’s energy needs.”

Emerging technology from a company called Sandia is making the reality that much closer:

Sandia’s solar cells are made of 100 times less material than the current top solar cells while operating at the same efficiency. Since the biggest hurdle in the path of solar power is the expensive and large nature of solar panels, these new microscopic cells will make a huge difference. For example, current panels are massive and require large motors to move them to track the sun. Sandia’s cells, on the other hand, would only need to be moved a fraction of a millimetre to track the sun efficiently while weighing next to nothing.

Even more amazing, they can be suspended in liquids and printed on flexible materials, allowing the cells to be placed on any surface. What if your entire car was covered in these powerhouses? Bye bye, Chevron.

Health

While we still can’t cure a common cold, custom-made organs are just around the corner.

A company called Organovo has developed the first commercial 3-D bio printer that builds custom organs cell-by-cell. Each individual cell is based upon sample cells from the body of the customer. Organovo reports that veins and arteries will be available in 5 years, and more complex organs like hearts and livers in 10.

On a more general note, nanotechnology is revolutionizing the health world. The awesome combination of a higher understanding of how DNA works and the ability to create very small cellular parts is painting a very bright future for medicine.

Scientists are finding specific sequences of DNA that code for conditions like schizophrenia, autism and even ageing. The cures are actually in sight.

Robots

The first decade of the 21st century has been a remarkable time for innovation in robotics. While we’re still far away from having bots helping around the house or doing our construction, big strides have been made towards that future.

Recently a robot was able to teach itself human facial expressions by randomly contorting its face and receiving feedback on what resembled real expressions.

Here’s another robot called BigDog that came out a couple of years ago, but if you haven’t seen the video, you really should. It’s a 4-legged robot that can navigate difficult terrain and correct its balance when shoved. If you can’t watch the whole video, at least fast-forward to 1:50 where the robot can be seen running and jumping.

And finally here is the bipedal version of BigDog that walks heel-to-toe just like humans do. Again, it can regain balance when shoved.

Clothing

Nanotechnology in Clothing

– Nano-fibres will make garments tremendously more comfortable and durable. “By this process, the textile products can be made more attractive, strong and responsive to customers’ choice.”

– Fibre-based Nano generators will build up electrical energy in clothing from physical movement, ultrasonic waves and even blood flow. “If we can combine many of these fibres in double or triple layers in clothing, we could provide a flexible, foldable and wearable power source that, for example, would allow people to generate their own electrical current while walking.”

– Extremely hydrophobic (water-resistant) Nano filaments allow for completely waterproof clothing. It can be submerged in water for two months and still remain dry to the touch. “The water comes to rest on the top of the Nano filaments like a fakir sitting on a bed of nails.” (Whatever that means…)

2019 Trends

Machine Learning will advance Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations will continue to bring scientific breakthroughs, in part, thanks to the vast amounts of data that new technologies have been collecting and is now available. 

In 2019, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will be embedded in the business platform creating and enabling smart business operations. 

In the Artificial Intelligence space, China is going to leave the U.S. behind, emerging as a leader in AI developments and applications.

Advances in Machine Learning technology and algorithm training will result in new and more advanced AI. Autonomous vehicles and robotics are the two industries that will see the most rapid developments during 2019. 

In 2019, there is going to be a convergence of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning in business applications. As AI and learning technologies get to work together in order to reach better results, AI will have greater accuracy at all levels. So far, humans have only developed Narrow Artificial Intelligence. A superior AI, though, is in the future of mankind. How far should humans go with AI development is still a subject of controversy. Is this really going to be mankind’s last invention? 

Quantum Computing (Supercomputing)

Quantum Computing, still an emerging technology, is one of the most fascinating things researchers, organizations, and governments have been working on in this century so far. The race toward building the first fully-functional, fully-working quantum computer (also called supercomputer) is on.

With its impressive computational power, quantum computers will most like be a cloud service in the near future rather than on-premise machines. IBM is already offering cloud-based quantum computing services. 

The first quantum computer is going to have a significant advantage over others. In 2019, the competence to achieve supercomputer supremacy will intensify. As a consequence, the last mile in the race will remain mostly secretive, for obvious reasons.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Advances in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR), all of which can be summarized in R+, will continue to be at the forefront of attention during 2019 with some fascinating new practical applications for industries.

R+, which once was only found in video gaming has been quickly advancing to become a useful tool in industries such as engineering design, manufacturing, healthcare, space exploration, and many others. 

In 2019, Virtual Reality is going to open up to innovative industrial applications that will change how people work and collaborate across geographies. 

Augmented Reality has been rising in Virtual Reality’s shadow for the past year. But in 2019, AR is set to grow exponentially. 

Global Internet of Things (IoT) security breach

Hackers never sleep. Everyone in the cybersecurity industry knows that. As long as you connect something to the Internet it immediately becomes vulnerable.

In the past years, we have seen how hackers have turned to the unsecure Internet of Things (IoT) devices to create an extensive botnet which then they could use to push enough traffic to take down Dyn, the DNS provider. As a way to refresh your memory, here is how the DDoS attack using IoT devices happened in 2016.

A quick look at the news tells us that not much has been learned. However, the great number of security breaches occurred during 2018 should serve as an alert of what can happen at a global scale in 2019 if organizations don’t take the necessary precautions. 

Analyst firm Gartner forecasts that 20.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020. And with the rise of autonomous things –I will call this the Internet of Autonomous Things (IoAT)– there is a good chance that many of these things will show a certain level of weak security. 

In 2019, it will be paramount for IoT manufacturers and all of their supply chain to dramatically increase the security in all the products that come out to market. It can be a connected refrigerator, a robot, a drone, a vehicle, or a health tracker.

Manufacturers must implement a level of security that keeps hackers at bay. Otherwise, there is a good chance we are going to witness a global IoT security breach in 2019. 

Blockchain technology

In 2019, for the delight of organizations, Blockchain is going to bring the first enterprise applications in active use. The most innovative corporations will start using Blockchain as a way to improve collaboration.  

Blockchain in 2019 comes out cryptocurrency transaction and becomes an integral part of the business platform. Blockchain enables transactional transparency across a variety of business functions. In 2019, Blockchain will be present in many industries at the core of business innovation.

Should old kit be abandoned?

laptop update
Old kit gets a new life

The current statistics shown that the sales of various tech is now down and that people aren’t eagerly awaiting to buy the latest thing.

There are various reasons for this and to put your finger in the one would be wrong.

But it begs the question about what we do with old kit? I have been recently taking 7 year old laptops that have still some very good kit on board and upgrading by adding a SSD drive to them.

What do we do with our computers?

We need to look at what we now do with computers: –

  • A few years ago all programmes were on the computer and so was the data until we backed it up
  • The Internet was growing fast and we are getting faster access.
  • So cloud storage became a thing and has grown over the last few years to an amazing level.
    • “According to recent research by Nasuni, there is over 1 Exabyte of data stored in the cloud, or: 1024 Petabytes of data. 1,073,741,824 Gigabytes of data. Quintillion bytes of data” This data was 2013. 6 years ago.
  • These figures don’t even make sense to us. To try and comprehend this amount of data and storage becomes something we can’t relate to.
  • Applications are also becoming more cloud driven and this will only increase over the next few years. SAAS. (Software As A Service). Office 365 is a well-known one. Google utilities, (G-suite), etc. Monthly subscriptions and the latest and greatest always at your fingertips.

So what does this mean?

Well, the strain is being taken off a lot of standalone machines as the storage needs to be less as all data goes to the cloud. (See article on using the cloud, here.)

The machines if they have a large amount of RAM and a fast SSD drive can boot up in anything from 4 seconds to 18 seconds. (The one I worked on recently booted up in 4 seconds)

So old kit can be slightly upgraded and cope very well with what you need it to do. Thus alleviating the direct need to buy the latest kit all the time.

What’s best for you?

Well, that really depends on how you operate and the things you need to achieve. But don’t immediately write off all your current kit. Maybe it is just better connections that you need or you need to think about the way you operate and see if there are ways it can be done better.

What are your thoughts on this?

Comment below.

Let’s all use the Internet. But which one?

Internet Evolution

I love this and was also blown away by this. What does my title mean and how many Internets are there?

Background info

Let me give you background info. At the end of last year I attended, with some tech colleagues, a Digital Expo in Edinburgh. A day of tech talks and an exhibition area full of stands and vendors showing their wares. (And the usual freebies as we like to call them.)

The main keynote speech was by an MSP about the Scottish Government trying to help tech companies and get Scotland at the top of the tech ladder. After that came the chap from Google. (I must admit at this point as to being an avid Google follower and watcher to see what they are going to do next.)

He started by taking us back to how tech and Internet access has developed over the last 30 years. Things have just exploded.

From Dial up to now literally instant access on all sorts of devices from fridges to watches and phones and laptops and so on.

Explaining the Internet

Now in a previous work post I had the privilege of teaching small business the benefits of getting a website and how the Internet worked for their benefit and the benefit of the user.

A common way I described the Internet was to keep it simple but make it understandable, went as follows: –

“Think of the Internet as a giant library full of information. Shelves of books going into the distance and finding things required a librarian to help you. They were at that time mostly Yahoo and Google. You asked then for what you were looking for and they went into the library and retuned all the relevant content”

People could visualise this and then I told them that their website would be in that content and how they could encourage the librarian to bring it to customers searching for what they had to offer. All makes sense and even though simplistic, easy to get your head around.

How would you explain the Internet? (This was very early days as well.)

So what has changed?

So if that explains the Internet then, surely it has just become much larger and has so much content the librarians have become smarter and better at what they do?

This is true of course and the search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to cater for new searches and the rise of the social media traffic.

Bur prepare to have your mind blown away. “Your Internet is not the same as my Internet”

WHAT? I hear you cry. Of course it is.”

My man from Google explained the rise of the A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), has created tailored Internet for each user. So each time you interact and even shop, look for things, cafes, and theatres. Locations you search for, what locations you are in when you search. All these and many more things influence what return you get. So we could be in the same location and search for the same thing and get slightly different results. Our info is being tailored depending on our habits, likes and history etc.

Conclusion

Some people may find this very disturbing and that so much info about us is going around. Well unfortunately for them it is the case. Even using a food order app influences things. Loyalty card at stores, the list is endless.

I personally am excited about AI and what it can do for us. I think if used well and smart, we can benefit well from this technology.

So what Internet do I use, well I use the one tailored for me?

What are your thoughts on this?

What scares you about using the cloud?

The nature of computing over the last few years has gone one way and one way only and that is to drive users on the cloud. The software is now offered as a service and machines locally are less powerful with less storage, as your storage is not local anymore and is on the cloud remotely.

Most people are going with the flow and some others are still thinking the old way and have loads of data stored locally. The machines then become infected and data is lost or compromised.

Some companies have to store data locally due to legal requirements or just their processes in-house require it. However, the way the world is going is to store remotely, which allows so many good benefits.

What are the Benefits?

Let us start by looking at some of the benefits of cloud and remote storage: –

  1. The use and accessibility of files and work become easier. Users can drag and drop files etc. to cloud storage drives ion their machines. You don’t have to be technical. The stored data can then be accessed from anywhere in the world.
  2. How about disaster recovery? A backup plan for data has been something us I.T. guys have shouted about for years. Cloud storage drives create an automatic backup of all data stored, taking away the need for you to do it and the costs involved.
  3. Security is always the main argument against using the cloud. However, the best thing about cloud-stored data is that the server data is distributed across redundant servers and the data that is stored in the cloud is safeguarded against any type of hardware failure. Cloud servers also provide automated backups and snapshots in order to make sure that your data is safe.
  4. There are cost savings in using cloud-based data storage as well. No expensive on-site storage solutions that have running costs as well. All this is saved and the cost of cloud storage against it usually means a cost saving. This depends on your company and setup of course.
  5. Data sharing is another great benefit of cloud storage. Files can be shared in-house with colleagues or with clients externally.
  6. Automation of backups etc. is also a massive benefit. Once set up a daily routine isn’t needed locally and this frees up people for other tasks.
  7. Online cloud storage is also a great way to allow staff and clients to collaborate on documents and projects. From anywhere in the world.
  8. File integrity is also another great plus. When working on a cloud-based file you simply save and close. This means we don’t have various copies on various machines. Then trying to sync most recent of them.
  9. The amount of convenience and peace of mind offered by cloud storage system is amazing! Even if you store data on transportable devices like external hard drives or flash drives, some kind of manual intervention and physical handling is required. The data that is stored in a cloud is backed up online and it can be accessed from anywhere. Information is automatically saved as it streams in. There is no need for you to save, label or track information. The convenience of online cloud storage enables you to completely concentrate on your work without getting stressed about data loss.

Conclusion

Online storage and backup are beneficial for all types of businesses. It is a platform that does not require any huge investment and can be actively used in connecting staff and clients. Collaborating and using data smartly. Not to mention less supervision and online activities. Secure in the knowledge that it is all backed up for you and can be accessed from anywhere.

Do you own a NAS and are you looking after it well?

Synology NAS box

Synology, one manufacturer of NAS box’s

A strange question for the uninitiated. What is a NAS and what sort of food does it eat and how should I be treating it?

My focus recently has been all about storage and the space we are each using to store our data. (Whatever that data maybe). From faster drives to access the data to storage solution on the cloud and in the office. It is one of the most important and common questions I am asked.

One solution doesn’t meet everyone’s needs. But a combination of solutions is usually what people use and sometimes chaotically with no thought on how this will progress and what the strategy is or should be.

So what is a NAS?

Well, it isn’t a small creature that keeps you company and helps with your storage and access to data. Well, that is not completely true it does allow storage and access to data in various ways and will cleverly backup said data in different ways. NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. A system of storage media that is attached to your network at home or work. Over the years this type of storage has become more and more intelligent and can literally be a self-contained computer system that runs all your data and data access. It can be a small unit to a much larger unit. Various companies make them and they are, well what can I say I am biased, brilliant.

I have used one for business for over 8 years now and it has served me well. I can store data on it and it has internal drives that automatically backup to each other creating what is called a mirror of my data. I also can, and have configured it to back up to a cloud drive and have chosen the important data to back up in this way. So I have offsite data as well.

The NAS unit allows me to access it remotely over the Internet, (Through a secure connection), so my own personal cloud drive with access. I can add users and give them a proportion of the space and they can store their data there and we can collaborate on data.

Benefits

This is a lower costs system to having a fully-fledged file server in your office and still allows multiple access by users and storage and remote access. It has a configuration panel that is easy to understand and configure. An admin is appointed and can add users, block users and configure all the aspects of the system. The amount of storage is up to you and your budget. But it can be easy to handle and allow for expansion to a cloud drive or even to add extra space at the NAS unit itself.

Remember the biggest asset to any business is data and the importance of data and how easy it is to access it and collaborate using it is important.

So if you are considering storage and where it all goes?

I have just given my Mobile Phone Some Pie.

Android Pie

Android Pie Operating System

I must admit that my mobiles for a good number of years have all had a sweet tooth. Being named after desserts ranging from Éclair, my first venture, through incarnations of Marshmallow to Nougat and now Pie.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, these are all incarnations of Android operating systems for mobile phones. Being a Google man for all mobile work this has always intrigued me, and I am usually waiting for the next version and the improvements that come with it.

Android has driven the mobile market and is now the most used operating system for mobile phones worldwide, taking Apple’s crown.

Nowadays we are all fixated and linked to our mobile devices, they feed us with so much information and in my case a business owner, they help me manage my day to day activities both private and business related.

Android has always given me the flexibility and customisation that I would like in a device. Every incarnation allows me to change and alter and get the device working exactly the way I want it to.

Collecting and accessing my emails and web-based file systems. Communicating through various mediums from text-based to video calls. As more of what we do pushes onto the cloud you can expect these devices to be, literally what they have been for a while now, your main computer system. Allowing the flexibly to work anywhere and carry out complex activities and not need to be tied to a desk environment.

Here is a link to some of the new features in Android P (Pie) from our friends at Android Central

https://www.androidcentral.com/pie

What mobile devices do you use and what operating system do they employ/ Do you see this as the way forward and the way we work changing to go more mobile?

Relaunch video for parent organisation

Check out the new video from our parent organisation. (Sorry for the bitable banners)

Chromebook Acer R11 Review

chromebook

 

So it’s been a while and I thought I would start with my latest piece of kit. Chromebooks have been around for a while and haven’t captured a lot of the market in the UK. In the USA, however, they have been competing with Apple in the education market and have taken schools by storm as the students love the idea of a keyboard and the lightweight functionality of a Chromebook over an IPad.

 

There are various manufacturers of Chromebooks and I did a little research before I purchased my one. So what did I go for?

Acer R11 Chromebook

This is a relatively new Chromebook in their range and this allows it to run Android Apps from the Google Play Store, as well as the Chrome-based apps, from the web store. This appealed to me as I wanted something to replace my ageing Nexus 9 tablet as it seems that Google has decided to drop the tablet market and launched all their Pixel Books instead, which are rather prohibitively priced.

This particular Chromebook is lightweight and 11-inch screen makes it very clear and visible. It also has the lovely function of flipping 360 degrees to create an 11-inch tablet. So it ticked a lot of my boxes. Larger than I had been carrying around, but I was prepared to make that sacrifice.

Battery life claimed to be around 10 hours when charged as well. However, I am finding when fully charged it is telling me around 7 hours…. Slight discrepancy there Acer.

However after some initial problems when I received it, I finally got a working Chromebook and have been using it as my tablet replacement for a few months now. Boots up fast as all SSD drives. 4 GB of Ram and 32 GB of internal storage, the rest of the cloud. High relation screen and camera for video calls etc.

Here is the full spec: –

  • Processor: 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Celeron N3150 (quad-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.08GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3L
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Screen: 11.6 HD, 1,366 x 768 touchscreen, LED-backlit IPS
  • Camera: 720p webcam
  • Wireless: 802.11ac (B/G/N) dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Ports: 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI with HDCP, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x SD card slot
  • Weight: 2.76lbs
  • Size: 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (W x D x H)

It is Blue the one I got as you can see from the photos attached.

openchromebook

So how do I feel it has been going?

So far it has been good going and I have been able to do all I want on this device. It is fast enough and covers all my bases. The only faults are that the use of an emulator to run the Android Apps is sometimes very buggy and resizes the screen and crashes at times. I have wandered over to the web-based apps for so many things and they run marvellously on the Chromebook. It allows me to carry out all my online worm and to edit a document using the Google Apps suite and then save them to the cloud and access them at my desk and phone when I need to.

I haven’t outputted the display yet through the HDMI port, but I have cast it through a Chromecast and it works well. Chrome as an OS is adequate and easy to get to grips with. Automatically updates and keeps me on top of what is happening.

It connects to any Wi-Fi I have tied so far and does it fast. Speakers seem OK as well and can play audio nicely.

I think this is a good replacement for my Nexus 9 and will be happy to use this into the future.

tentedchromebook

Talking about the future.

Acer, after I purchased this, have launched a Chromebook Tablet. 10 inch. Again to compete in the Education market in the USA. However, it is making its way to the UK market in May time. So that will be one to watch. Will run Chrome OS and allow the use of Android apps as well.

Let me know what you think and do you think the age of Windows ruling devices is over?

What do you use and why?

IoT’s, I don’t have any IoT’s do I?

IoT devices

IoT devices, do I have any?

Here is a newish term that has been getting brandished around the Internet for some time now. At first as a techie I may think, Institute of Technology devices, Oh, I don’t have any of these. However, I would be so wrong. So what are they and what does it stand for?

IoT’s or Internet of things devices are now all around us whether we like it or not. They are devices that require an IP address to access the network or Internet. I like to think of them as Internet on Technology.

Your mobiles and any tech wear that you have, card reader machines, cash points, smart TV’s Tablet computers and any smart home devices that you may own. Your car, security cameras, home thermostats, amoung other things, even ticket machines and some vending machines.

What does it mean?

It means that things have progressed along a road that had been predicted, but the faster broadband speeds and methods of connectivity have meant it is now a reality.

Let’s rewind a little, A few years ago we have a desktop PC and then maybe a laptop and at first they did not connect to the Internet at all. We then got dial up Internet and we all tentatively put our toes in the water that was the Internet. Well, from there speeds just got faster and faster and Mobile phones came along, then they became smart. This meant connecting to the Internet and using it as a resource to feed you constant information. This meant improving phone signal strength and so we got up to 4G with 5G on its way.

Other devices then came along and allowed us to stream content around our houses and cars, how great was all this connectivity. Well, it is amazing how far we have come in such a short time.

So what’s all the fuss about, surely this is great news?

The reason that these devices are in the news a lot today is that there are now hundreds of thousands of them, being made by well-known companies and also so not so well known but less expensive alternatives and they all connect to the Internet. Now, securing our stand alone network that had no Internet connection was easy, what you put into it was the only danger. Now that these devices are on the Internet all the time they are able to pull all sorts of data into your device and if it is connected to your network, then onto your network as well.

You would think that this was matter of the device being smart and you being able to configure all the settings and hence protecting all that is does. However, loopholes in the software on these devices, not them all, but some are causing the security world a massive headache and some of the attacks to systems that you have read about recently have been because the software on these devices is not well written and is very insecure. Hackers are catching onto the fact that the world has a massive amount of these types of devices and there are more switched on each day and they are targeting their weaknesses.

So really the question is, “When is a smart device not so smart?” when it runs badly written software that has security holes that you can drive a programming bus through.

Here are a few articles to give you some more information: –

http://www.csoonline.com/article/3119765/security/hackers-found-47-new-vulnerabilities-in-23-iot-devices-at-def-con.html

http://www.darkreading.com/vulnerabilities—threats/internet-of-things-contains-average-of-25-vulnerabilities-per-device/d/d-id/1297623

What are your thoughts about this and have you bought into any of these devices and are you using them. I have to admit I have some.

Big Brother is watching you and has been for a while

data capture nline

Big Brother is watching you

“‘Who controls the past’, ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” Part 1, Chapter 3, pg. 37

The above is all inspired by someone the other day putting up a quote about the fact they had read 1984 and couldn’t believe how bad things were back then. Which made me laugh.

George Orwell’s 1984 was a book I read at high school for my higher in English prep. I was into science fiction and that genre and this sort off ticked some of those boxes. Obviously, it was about the state watching everything that the populate did and the perceived freedom people had was really not freedom at all. Orwell based it on the communist state in 1948 and his publisher’s enforced that he change the title to 1984 to make it more sellable and not offend the communist state of Russia.

History lesson over now, I came across a comic photo of Cortana, Microsoft’s office help in Windows 10, based on their game character from their Halo franchise. She will listen to you and answer questions to help. Similar to the OK Google in Android Google NOW.

But what are these helps really doing?

In the comic photo I saw that someone was happy that Cortana was there and they could chat, until eventually they had to switch Cortana off as she was so intrusive the person’s privacy ceased to exist.

My title is that Big Brother, the state in Orwell’s book that spied on everyone, has been watching us for a long time is in fact very true. Since the Internet has been around we have been spied on and catalogued in our preferences and histories and then email allowed us to be spied on. Particularly when it went online and became web based. Our shopping habits are spied on by supermarkets and stores, again with loyalty cards, as we scan, they record. We get vouchers emailed and sent through the post that give us money of the things we buy each week and use. Isn’t it amazing how do they know?

Should we be worried and concerned?

I meet a lot of different people in my IT travels from training to techie talks with geeks like myself. They range from the extremists who are so paranoid that they don’t use a lot of the available tech and systems that are around just now, to the laid back who use everything and deal with the aftermath.

I must admit to being nearer the second type of person with some criteria on what I would and would not do. I do love the latest tech and am slightly addicted to where it is taking us.

I would suggest to you that you are kept on record on the World Wide Web at a host of locations from government bodies who use your ID and unique NI number to shops and web page stored info. (Cookies and their friends). So worrying would be a fruitless activity and probably not get you any real benefit. Paranoia is the other extreme I find and people go to amazing lengths to avoid their real data and identity getting out there. It will get out there and to be honest it already is out there, is the amazing and correct answer to that.

Precautions

Of course I am not saying forget everything and lay abandon to any security and common sense, now that would be absurd, and I do meet that category of person as well.

We really need to use the latter, common sense and be aware of what we are doing.

  • Not clicking on everything that pops up.
  • Not filling in every form of filed that is asked of us by companies.
  • Unticking boxes that want to store our info and sent us data all the time.
  • Have all updates on and installed.
  • Make sure we have the latest and up to date Anti-Virus and spyware/Malware kit on our machines.
  • AND above all use common sense.

What are your thoughts on this and what do you do? Are you paranoid or very open?

Great to hear your comments.