Tag: software

By Aaron Holmes for Business Insider US 

As coronavirus spreads, companies are increasingly being forced to work from home – and some are using online conference tools to try to prevent a dip in productivity.

Some are turning to tools like Sneek, a group video conference software that’s always on by default.

Sneek features a “wall of faces” of employees at a company, automatically taking a photo of employees through their webcam every one to five minutes.

“Sneek was never designed to spy on anyone,” cofounder Del Currie told Business Insider. “We’d be the worst spy company ever considering we named our app ‘Sneek.'”

Working from home can make it feel like managers have less direct supervision over workers. But an always-on video-conference tool changes that by automatically snapping webcam pictures of employees every few minutes.

Companies across the world have been forced to abandon offices in favor of working from home in recent weeks to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, which has sickened more than 39,000 people in the US alone.

In order to keep productivity high while working remotely, some companies are turning to tools like Sneek. The software features a “wall of faces” for each office, which stays on throughout the workday and features constantly-updating photos of workers taken through their laptop camera every one to five minutes.

Sneek’s user base has rapidly expanded in recent weeks as companies transition en masse to work-from home – signups have increased tenfold in in the past few weeks, cofounder Del Currie told Business Insider. It has over 10,000 users and boasts clients including American Express, Lego, Fred Perry, and GoFish digital.

The software’s interface lets people set their webcam to automatically photograph them every one or five minutes, depending on how frequently they want their image to update (or how frequently their boss requires it).

If a coworker clicks on their face, Sneek’s default settings will instantly connect the two workers in a live video call, even if the recipient hasn’t clicked “accept.” However, people can also configure their settings to only accept calls manually – and only take webcam photos manually – if their employer allows it.

Currie told Business Insider that, while some may be put off by the software’s interface, it’s meant to build a connected office dynamic.

“Sneek was never designed to spy on anyone, we’d be the worst spy company ever considering we named our app ‘Sneek,'” Currie said. “We know lots of people will find it an invasion of privacy, we 100% get that, and it’s not the solution for those folks, but there’s also lots of teams out there who are good friends and want to stay connected when they’re working together.”

After Sneek’s interface was reported by The Information’s Priya Anand last week, some were turned off by the workplace surveillance tool. David Heinemeier Hansson, CTO and cofounder of the development firm Basecamp, tweeted that the idea “makes my skin crawl.”

Currie acknowledged that the company “did indeed get some Twitter fame last week” after The Information story was published. Sneek was inspired in part by a book on remote work that Hansson co-authored, Currie said, but now the company has received messages from Hansson’s followers “abusing our staff and calling us pieces of s-.”

The purpose of Sneek isn’t surveillance, Currie said, but office culture.

“We’ve worked from home for 10+ years and one of the biggest things that starts to creep in is that sense of isolation, it does really affect people’s mental health,” he said. “Just having that ability to look up and see your teammates there can make all the difference.”

By Andile Sicetsha for The South African

The South African Police Service’s (SAPS) cybercrime unit has been forced to drop investigations into hundreds of cases because software licenses have not been paid.

A report in the Sunday Times revealed that investigations into organised crimes, hacking and EFT scams have been halted due to expired software licenses for equipment used to decode and interpret cellphone data.

Other forensic capabilities have also been hindered by this. Data that would’ve been vital in the trial of alleged Islamic State members, Aslam Del Vecchio and Fatima Patel, is not available because of this.

Earlier this year, a service provider appointed by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) threatened to halt essential services due to lack of payment, and the parliamentary portfolio committee on police said several police and SITA agreements were major security risks.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, a source with knowledge of the cybercrime unit’s operations said the police were migrating from technology that could be used in the field to a solution which tied officers to their desks.

In the past, investigators used a system called Cellebrite Touch. This was a device that could be used to interpret cellphone data in the field. It was quick and efficient.

This time, however, it seems that the unit has been moved to a desktop system, meaning that there would be a larger gap in turnaround times, and in this form of crime, time is everything.

Craig Pederson, the head of digital forensics at Computer Guyz, expressed the importance of the work conducted by the cybercrime unit.

“We live in an age where technology is used broadly and plays a definite role in many of the more serious crimes. The unit is a vital link in the complex task of collecting evidence”, Pederson stated.

Brenda Muridili, the SAPS’ spokesperson, could only state that the police would not be commenting on the issue.

“We are not able to disclose any information with regard to covertly required IT solutions”, she said.

Cars need software updates: just like a smartphone

In response to millions of people fleeing Florida in the face of Hurricane Irma, Tesla has “flipped a switch” in some of its cars to temporarily extend their range.

Tesla cars receive software updates much like an iPhone does — via the Internet in an update process called “over-the-air” or OTA updates. It’s one of the only car companies that can do this with their cars, regularly sending updates to fix security flaws or update autonomous driving capabilities.

Contrast this with the approach taken by Chrysler, which sent out USB sticks with a safety update to 1.4m vehicles after hackers showed they could remotely take control of a Jeep. With such USB updates, there was really no way of knowing whether the updates had been applied properly or even got to the right person.

Most people don’t realise just how much of a car’s function is controlled by computer processors. The average car has between 25 and 50 different processors, with cars from BMW and Mercedes having around 100 processors each.

These processors control everything from advanced engine features to braking, automatic parking, collision detection, entertainment, navigation and security. As cars become more intelligent, they are coming to rely on increasingly sophisticated software.

Most of these processors have software that, at the moment, can only be updated by taking the car into to an authorised dealer. Car recalls have become a multibillion-dollar expense for the car industry and a major inconvenience for owners.

For this reason, over-the-air updates will be coming to most cars soon. General Motors recently announced that it would start to deliver updates to its cars using GM’s OnStar network. Bosch, one of the leading companies delivering electronics and processing to car manufacturers, is gearing up to deliver secure over-the-air capabilities to cars through a subsidiary, Escrypt.

Malware

It is estimated that 180m cars will be built with this capability in the next five years.

Despite the recent interest, car manufacturers have been wary of updating vehicles in this way. There was concern that too many things could go wrong during the update, leaving the car not driveable.

Security has also been a concern. Hackers could potentially intervene and substitute malware during the update, for example, with potentially lethal consequences.

The process of updating a car turns out to be not that dissimilar from updating an iPhone.

In fact, the acceptance of over-the-air updates for a car starts with the fact that people are more familiar and comfortable with updating a smartphone. They understand that the process can’t be interrupted and the phone must have enough power, for example.

From the technological perspective, the update is encrypted and is accompanied with appropriate signatures that get checked and accepted by special security hardware on the car, called a hardware security module.

The updates are transmitted over secure connections and special software on the car can receive the update and apply it. If something goes wrong, the system needs to be able to roll the update back and leave the original version of the software intact and operating.

Traditional car dealers may see this as a way of cutting them out of the loop, and may resist any regulations allowing these types of updates outside of a normal service
The arrival of more autonomous driving capabilities in cars will make updates essential, as with the case of Tesla. While these updates could be done at an annual service, the demands of autonomous driving will require more frequent updates of software.

At the same time, consumers are becoming sophisticated enough to be able to manage these updates themselves.

The challenge for companies wanting to move to over-the-air updates may not just be a case of car manufacturers moving too slowly. Traditional car dealers may see this as a way of cutting them out of the loop, and may resist any regulations allowing these types of updates outside of a normal service.

Other potential barriers may come from regulators. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has a task force looking at cybersecurity and over-the-air updating in motor vehicles.

One area of concern for this group is that if a vehicle has been certified by a country’s motor vehicle safety standards, what happens if it receives an over-the-air update that changes how it performs? Does this render its certification invalid? This might be the case especially if the vehicle’s emissions change as a result of the software update.

Another challenge that may give car manufacturers pause is that if a car can be updated with new features using a simple software update, will customers hang onto the cars for longer and not upgrade their cars quite so often?

By David Glance published on TechCentral

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top