The death of the password

2018 will be the year where we see the death of the password. This according to the latest tech predictions from virtualisation company Citrix.

Citrix says that a wide variety of authentication methods will be introduced that will replace passwords including biometrics, behaviour analytics and the like.

“The amount of security breaches will accelerate to record heights which will force companies to abandon traditional passwords as a way to protect accounts,” says Brendan McAravey, country manager at Citrix South Africa.

He says that access to web pages and apps will become much more controlled next year to protect end users which will limit the viral nature of the web as we know it today. Dark web concepts will also be adopted by web apps to limit exposure.

Artificial intelligence & machine learning
Citrix’s second prediction for 2018 is that machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will have a huge impact on the future of work and security. The company says that machine learning and AI tools and platforms are getting easier to use and “are thus becoming more pervasive”.

“Machines will be able to learn what’s normal and what’s not normal to predict and enable future automations or shutdown bad-actors in security use cases.”
McAravey believes AI will however not replace the need for human employees, but rather will give an opportunity to learn new skills and apply more strategic and meaningful actions to new roles.

“Nothing will ever replace the importance of human creativity, empathy and innovation,” he says.

Age of voice
“The impact of voice as the next generation human-computer interface will absolutely be a key innovation moving forward in 2018. This will be more impactful than virtual, augmented, or mixed reality,” adds McAravey.
Citrix believes that being able to use voice, combined with machine learning, to interact with complex data will be a huge benefit to everybody. It also says that analytics tools are going to allow people to work more productively in 2018.

“Imagine a scenario where AI helps contextualise what it is you do every day and from where. Meaning that people will in future spend less time looking for data and more time acting on the information.”

Internet of things
Citrix sees the rise of the Internet of things (IOT) continuing over the next two years and says there are already smart companies which are using a design thinking approach to innovate and deliver products that are making the most of the potential for IOT.

“2018 may not see these types of innovations at scale but there is a potential that we all take a customer-centric approach and think about how IOT can make us more efficient in our day. 2019 is when we will really see these innovations take off,” explains McAravey.

He says that IOT has huge potential for the workplace. In future the ability to cost effectively leverage IOT to improve the quality of the workplace will become real, thereby improving efficiency and effectiveness of employees.

“IOT will move from being seen as a security risk in the enterprise, to becoming a critical part of an enterprise’s security posture. Concepts, such as Bluetooth beacon technologies, GPS, biometrics, facial recognition and pervasive analytics on user behaviour, resulting in people getting access to the right things at the right time,” he concludes.

Source: IT Web 

Spat between Google and Amazon heats up

A tit for tat between the two tech giants just reached a new level, with Google announcing Wednesday it is restricting YouTube access on Amazon products, since Amazon doesn’t sell Google’s products.

Both companies sell rival television streaming devices and voice-activated speakers — and one of the big selling features of its Echo Show, which is equipped with a screen, was the ability to watch YouTube videos.

​“We’ve been trying to reach agreement with Amazon to give consumers access to each other’s products and services. But Amazon doesn’t carry Google products like Chromecast and Google Home, doesn’t make Prime Video available for Google Cast users, and last month stopped selling some of Nest’s latest products,” a statement from Google said. “Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and FireTV. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.”

So, for now, Amazon’s Echo Show and its Fire TV can only access YouTube via its existing website, not through the app.

“Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website,” said Amazon said in a statement. “We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.”

Amazon users have been greeted with a message letting them know they won’t be able to access YouTube on their devices, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

By Alyssa Newcomb for NBC News

Internet blackout in Zimbabwe

A core platform failure at Zimbabwe’s largest internet access provider saw Zimbabwe lose internet services for the better part of Tuesday.

The internet outage started at 11:30 and lasted until 17:00 and affected most operators that use Liquid Telecoms Zimbabwe, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless Global.

At the time of writing this story it was still unknown as to what caused the outage.

However, Econet Wirelesss Zimbabwe, which also rides on liquid, issued a statement saying: Econet Wireless apologises to its valued customers for the data outage experienced on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 resulting in customers being unable to access the internet and related data services on our network.”

Company spokesperson Fungai Mandiveyi said the outage was due a technical fault which has since been resolved.

“Econet sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused,” he said.

Liquid Telecom is one of the fastest growing internet service providers in Zimbabwe in particular and Africa in general.

It provides state-of-the-art fibre internet which links Zimbabwe and the Southern African region to the outside world. It is the biggest internet access provider with a market share of more than 80%.

Its sister company, Econet Wireless, controls 75% of mobile phones meaning the outage affected approximately 75% of the telecoms market. Social media platforms such as WhatsApp were also affected.

The outage also affected most of the businesses that rely on online based activities including sending emails.

State owned fixed telecoms provider Telone also issued a statement saying: “This is due to faults that occurred on our main links through South Africa and Botswana.

“Our back back-up link through Mozambique has remained active with limited connectivity.”

ByCrecey Kuyedzwa for Fin24

Doctor banned for not being able to use the Internet

What if your profession has never required much computer literacy — and then all of a sudden it does. Should you be fired? Should your licence be yanked? That’s the question raised by the bizarre case of Anna Konopka, a doctor who claims that New Hampshire has barred her from the practice of medicine because she does not know how to use the Internet.

Konopka, 84, received the bulk of her medical training overseas. She voluntarily surrendered her license this fall after allegations that she was not participating in New Hampshire’s new mandatory system for reporting opioid prescriptions. Why not? Because to do so she would have to go online — something for which she lacks the requisite skill.

Konopka has long tried to keep the digital revolution at bay. Here’s the Washington Post on Konopka’s office.

Aside from a fax machine and landline telephone, there isn’t much technology. …

Instead, her patients’ records are tucked into two file cabinets, which sit in a tiny office next door to her 160-year-old clapboard house in New London, New Hampshire Records are meticulously handwritten, she said. Konopka does have a typewriter, but it’s broken, and its parts have been discontinued.

New London is a rural town with a population of 4,000 and change. Many of Konopka’s patients are uninsured, but if you have $50 she’ll treat you, and if you don’t you can pay her later. It’s a niche market but an important one. Rural patients are notoriously underserved.

As a doctor, Konopka gets mostly high grades. New Hampshire Public Radio interviewed some of those she’s treated and found big fans:

To talk with her patients is to hear story after story of medical turnaround, of admiration and gratitude. Unlike other doctors, Konopka listens and spends time with you, her patients say. She learns your family history, your physical and mental state. She doesn’t simply rush you out the door with a prescription.

But that’s all over now. To settle the charges Konopka agreed to give up her licence. Her lawsuit seeking to overturn the settlement on grounds of coercion was dismissed.

As part of the deal, Konopka agreed that should she ever seek to get her license back, she will have to meet the requirements for new entrants into the practice of medicine — which means being able to use the internet.

In addition to Konopka’s unfamiliarity with the technology, she also has objections that we might term ideological. Here’s part of an interview she gave to the website Ars Technica:

“I am getting the patients from the system, and I see how badly they are mistreated and misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all,” she said. “Therefore, I am not going to compromise patients’ lives or health for the system. Because I am out of the system, it was almost like in communism, you were like the enemy and you had to be destroyed.”

So Konopka’s refusal to adopt what she derides as “electronic medicine” is not only a matter of familiarity with the technology; she also seems to believe that the whole enterprise is a bad idea. She is hardly the only doctor to complain that the accelerating switch to digital records has harmed patient care.

But the system she rejects has its points, and there are perfectly good reasons to require a degree of computer literacy from medical professionals. Put aside the question of reporting on opioid use. Just consider the enormous amount of information that we nowadays expect providers to have at their fingertips. The latest research. The latest scans and lab reports. The latest messages from other doctors. And those who practice rural medicine, because specialists often are far away, may have the greatest need for the latest technology.

On the other hand, if Konopka’s patients are mostly happy, we should at least be wary of snatching away her licence not because she doesn’t know her medicine but because she doesn’t keep up with the technology.

Whatever the right answer, one thing is clear: As the digital revolution continues, the issue raised by what happened to Konopka will arise more and more. Imagine the ageing but beloved professor who teaches brilliantly but runs afoul of a newly adopted university rule requiring that all student papers and faculty comments be submitted online. Or the experienced and savvy police officer who is befuddled when the department announces that information formerly recorded on paper in triplicate must henceforth be typed into the online system. Should they be pensioned off, even though excellent at their work, because new information technology has supplanted what they have used throughout their careers?

The question isn’t just hypothetical. Ever since the US supreme court decided in 2005 that disparate-impact claims can be brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employers and their lawyers have wondered whether a requirement that new hires be computer literate might one day form the basis for a lawsuit by older applicants. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes the view that employers may consider “technological skills” as long as “the assessments are accurate and not influenced by common age-based stereotypes.” But this tells us at best how employers may treat new applicants, not how they may treat existing employees.

Where the issue involves not employment but licensure, we should be even more vigilant for the possibility of overreach. Licensing boards always say that they are protecting the public, and sometimes they do, but they also limit entry into the professions, and protect the interests (and income) of insiders. And in the case of rural medicine, it’s not as if the market offers the typical patient a lot of alternatives.

I’m not arguing that Konopka should get her licence back, and I’m aware that there have been other complaints about her practice. But the issues raised by her case are not going to go away. As the pace of technological change accelerates, all of us will sooner or later find ourselves unable to keep up. The question is whether, when that happens, the workplace should make allowances … or show us the door.

By Stephen Carter for Bloomberg/Rand Daily Mail https://www.businesslive.co.za=

Plan ahead or miss out on 2018’s tech trends

Technology is disrupting the world in ways we’ve never seen before, in nearly every industry – and it will irrevocably change the world of work in the future.

That was the overriding message from a recent Business Day Dialogue, held in partnership with Dimension Data and Cisco, on technology trends in 2018 and beyond.

The biggest challenge facing organisations today is the burden of old technology and capability, said Stephen Green, chief technology officer at Dimension Data Middle East and Africa. Companies that have been around for 10 years or more need to digitise their systems or risk being left behind.

Peter Prowse, vice-president of strategic partnerships at Dimension Data, said legacy infrastructure had to be prepared for the journey ahead. Established companies will shore up their technological infrastructure in the years ahead to help them adapt to an unpredictable market.

He said organisations had to plot a route beyond the digital infrastructure horizon. The first step is to implement programmable infrastructure. “More organisations will be considering networking and security requirements in the development phase and programming their applications to take advantage of software-defined infrastructure.”

The second step involves understanding the platform economy. “In the year ahead, businesses will start to recognise the true potential of the platform economy, the impact it will have on their operating models and the changes they will need to make, including digital front-ends and a higher level of risk,” said Prowse.

Third comes a shift in focus from technologies to services architecture. “Hybrid IT is now generally accepted as the model of the future. However, many organisations are far from having the technology in place, so we expect to see businesses future-proofing or upgrading their business architecture.”

In an era of digital disruption, Prowse added, speed trumps cost. Companies are aware of the risk of failing to adapt fast enough and will therefore choose the technology they can use the fastest.

Last, there will be a surge in interest in software-defined wide area networks, with wireless technologies, networks and wireless-enabled processes expected to leap ahead.

More trends to consider
Other trends in technology that will affect businesses are artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, and virtual and augmented learning, all of which will deliver compelling and complementary outcomes, said Green.

These disparate technologies will come together in the year ahead to create useful business applications. AI will drive voice-enabled virtual assistants in the workplace and everyday tasks will be automated, reducing costs and speeding up processes.

Smart buildings will evolve into smart workplaces, and increasingly employees will ask to bring their own devices and apps to work. “Businesses will have to rethink their value proposition,” said Green.

Cybersecurity will continue to be a threat. Companies will start investing in technologies aimed at gaining the upper hand against cybercriminals, including using blockchain innovatively.

During a panel discussion, moderated by Aki Anastasiou, on how technology would affect the future, Tiso Blackstar Group head of digital Lisa MacLeod explained how technology had disrupted the media industry and the steps the company was taking to transform digitally.

She spoke about the challenges posed to business as a result of a lack of digital and development skills in South Africa, as well as the country’s high data costs, which she said entrenched inequalities in our society.

“South Africa has the most expensive data costs on the African continent, which is a huge issue,” MacLeod said.

Commenting on a local shortage of IT skills, Garsen Naidu, head of channel at Cisco Sub-Saharan Africa, said there was a looming global shortage of cybersecurity specialists. He added that South African curricula had to be adapted to teach relevant skills, including teaching children to code from a young age.

Technology offers huge possibilities for the future, and it is how we use those opportunities that is critical, he said.

Giving a millennial’s perspective on technological disruption, Arye Kellman, founder of influencer marketing agency TILT, said millennials did not call it disruption or technology – to them, it was merely the way everything worked.

Source: Business Day https://www.businesslive.co.za

Tech costs ‘likely to rise’ in SA

Information technology (IT) hardware is likely to become more expensive in SA because of the weak economy and rand, according to Mark Walker, associate vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa at the International Data Corporation.

“SA is looking at a growth rate of 0.7% to 1.5% [in 2018]. Many organisations are pricing this weak economy into their discussions as it means that hardware and imported equipment will be more expensive.

“There are also murmurs around adding VAT to petrol and potential increases in taxes, so the technology sector could very well be an easy target from a tax point of view.”

As a result, IT was expected to become more expensive, particularly hardware, and this was likely to prompt “an acceleration into cloud-based computing”, Walker said.

Further, if the outcome of the ANC’s elective conference was not well received, the market would weaken further and this would further fuel the rise in IT costs.

Innovation and investment could be affected by the lacklustre economy, he said. “We have started seeing a trend emerge where you have individuals and organisations innovating locally, but then taking those ideas overseas because they are not able to unlock investment in the local market.”

However, a favourable elective conference outcome would be a boon for the local IT sector.

“The perception that SA is back on track could herald in a period of release of pent-up demand, investment spend on innovation and rolling out the infrastructure to enable broadband in rural areas, fibre and others that SA gravely needs.”

Source: eNCA

They promised the glitch would not steal Christmas for online shoppers. They did not deliver.

As Black Friday neared, online retailers claimed they were ready to fend off system overloads and crashes when thousands of shoppers look for bargains.

Last year shoppers using Takealot.com ran into problems in the checkout process. This year the company advertised sales of up to 80% off for weeks in advance, while it said it had prepared for five times the average payday traffic.

However, the message greeting many shoppers trying to login after midnight disputed that claim.

Takealot sent out tweets apologising for the downtime: “The @TAKEALOT website and apps are temporarily down due to overwhelming volumes. We’re working hard to resolve the issue and we hope to have the site operational as soon as possible.”

Of course, users were quick to jump online to share their frustrations – often with memes.

For the majority of Black Friday, users who got onto the site were shown this message:

Takealot wasn’t the only online retailer to suffer, with users reporting that several other retailers had crashed at one time or another after midnight. While some have since come back online, others are still struggling. Another of the worst affected was Superbalist.

By Times Live 

Bitcoin tops $10 000 as bubble warnings multiply

Bitcoin surpassed $10 000 for the first time, taking this year’s price surge to more than 10-fold even as warnings multiply that the largest digital currency is an asset bubble.

The euphoria is bringing to the mainstream what was once considered the providence of computer developers, futurists and libertarians seeking to create an alternative to central bank-controlled monetary systems. While the actual volume of transactions conducted in cryptocurrencies is relatively small, the optimism surrounding the technology continues to drive it to new highs.

Bitcoin has risen by more than 50% since October alone, after developers agreed to cancel a technology update that threatened to split the digital currency. Even as analysts disagree on whether the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation is truly an asset, its $167bn value already exceeds that of about 95% of the S&P 500 Index members.

This is a bubble and there is a lot of froth. This is going to be the biggest bubble of our lifetimes
“This is a bubble and there is a lot of froth. This is going to be the biggest bubble of our lifetimes,” hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz said at a cryptocurrency conference Tuesday in New York.

Novogratz, who’s says he began investing in bitcoin when it was at $90, is starting a $500m fund because of the potential for the technology to eventually transform financial markets.

There’s no agreed authority for the price of bitcoin, and quotes can vary significantly across exchanges. In Zimbabwe, where there’s a lack of confidence in the local financial system, the cryptocurrency has traded at a persistent premium over $10 000. Volumes are also difficult to assess. Bloomberg publishes a price that draws on several large bitcoin trading venues. It was at $10 166.98 as of 12:02pm Tokyo time.

From Wall Street executives to venture capitalists, observers have been weighing in, with some more sceptical than others as bitcoin’s rise has grown steeper, sweeping along individual investors. The number of accounts at Coinbase, one of the largest platforms for trading bitcoin and rival ethereum, has almost tripled to 13m in the past year, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

Futures contracts

In a move toward mainstream investing, CME Group has said it plans to start offering futures contracts for bitcoin, which could begin trading in December. JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest US bank, was weighing last week whether to help clients bet on bitcoin via the proposed futures contracts, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The rising profile of digital currencies even saw bitcoin feature in the US senate confirmation hearing Tuesday for Federal Reserve chairman nominee Jerome Powell, who’s a current board member. Answering a senator’s question, he said that “cryptocurrencies are something we monitor very carefully”, and that at some point their volumes “could matter” for monetary policy, though not today.

The total market cap of digital currencies now sits north of $300bn, according to data on Coinmarketcap.com’s website.

For Peter Rosenstreich, head of market strategy at online trading firm Swissquote Bank, bitcoin’s surge harks back to the surprises of the UK referendum on European Union membership and US President Donald Trump’s election.

“We have underestimated the populist movements,” he said. “There is growing unease on how central banks and governments are managing fiat currencies. Ordinary people globally understand why a decentralised asset is the ultimate safe haven.”

Reported by Todd White and Julie Verhage, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP. Published on Tech Central

Yahoo hacker pleads guilty

Canadian citizen Karim Baratov has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the hacking of Yahoo in 2014.

The hack involved spear-phishing Yahoo employees and compromising 500 million accounts.

Baratov admitted he was tasked with hacking the email accounts of people of interest by the Federal Security Service of Russia.

Baratov said he sent gatherer email passwords to his alleged handler, Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev.

Dokuchaev was arrested by Russian authorities in December and charged with treason.

Two other men were indicted in February and remain in Russia, along with Dokuchaev.

Baratov is being held in Northern California without bail. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 2018.

Source: MyBroadband

Automation could kill 800m jobs worldwide

As many as 800-million workers worldwide may lose their jobs to robots and automation by 2030, equivalent to more than a fifth of today’s global labour force.

That’s according to a new report covering 46 nations and more than 800 occupations by the research arm of McKinsey & Co.

The consulting company said on Wednesday that both developed and emerging countries will be impacted. Machine operators, fast-food workers and back-office employees are among those who will be most affected if automation spreads quickly through the workplace.

Even if the rise of robots is less rapid, some 400-million workers could still find themselves displaced by automation and would need to find new jobs over the next 13 years, the McKinsey Global Institute study found.

The good news for those displaced is that there will be jobs for them to transition into, although in many cases they’re going to have to learn new skills to do the work. Those jobs will include health-care providers for aging populations, technology specialists and even gardeners, according to the report.

“We’re all going to have to change and learn how to do new things over time,” Michael Chui, a San Francisco-based partner at the institute, said in an interview.

Reported by Rich Miller for Bloomberg LP on Tech Central

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