This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 26th April 2013

On the beat – BYOD lawsuit to change commercial habits?
Lack of clear policy and forward-thinking governance for mobile devices will be the highlight of a court case reaching Chicago shortly. The case relates to 200 police officers filing a claim for overtime after being pressurised into answering work-related calls on department issued Blackberries. This should be of interest to MDM providers and all businesses. The flexibility of BYOD and the easy approach thus far to consumer technology at work, is increasingly a topic that needs addressing by business. Thoughts of cost savings and a casual approach to mobile device management may end up having a very costly sting in the tail which businesses must start to address, and soon.

Once more unto the breach
Verizon’s recent Data Breach Report identified hacking as the cause in 52% of breaches in 2012. 80% of these came from authentication-based attacks. Using the same password on different accounts is all too common, but getting people to change their habits has proven difficult and organisations are too slow to roll out more complex barriers to security breaches. Two-factor authentication is a good start (where a phone device delivers a unique password to accompany the primary access on a computer) and is available on Microsoft accounts. Sadly it seems that only large scale attacks felt personally are currently getting any habits changed. How important is your information to you and what extra measures are you taking to keep it secure?

Head technology
No longer limited to just science fiction, Samsung and other researchers at the University of Texas are creating the technology to control tablets with just your brain. Researchers are using an EEG cap to monitor brain waves which lets testers launch Apps, choose music and basic menu control by thinking of its name. The process sounds similar to how voice activation tasks are currently handled. However instead of saying the phrase aloud – you think it. So far the system is said to have an accuracy rate between 80 to 95% and is still quite slow to use. However, as tablets and other devices become more accessible, the benefits particularly to disabled users will be substantial once fully developed.

No longer taking the scenic route
Smartphone technology “Fit4KidsCare” has been used to great effect at the Miami Children’s hospital in the States. This has centred on using triangulated Wi-Fi signals (vs satellite GPS) to bounce off WiFi access points situated around the hospital. It has enabled patients and their families to navigate quickly to their destinations, even whilst using lifts. With delays in patients reaching their hospital appointments and unfamiliarity with hospital environments, it is an interesting development that could have useful ramifications for the healthcare industry in the UK.

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 19th April 2013

UK SMBs Main Target For Cyber Threats
Symantec’s latest Threat Report shows cyber attacks having risen by 42% in 2012, with the UK being the subject of 20% of all global threats. Whilst smaller businesses with weaker security systems are traditionally the initial target, these are seen merely as stepping stones for larger company breaches. BYOD trends have added to the headache with virtualisation, mobility and cloud requiring security across all devices (32% of all mobile threats were aiming to steal information). Even if companies have not been directly attacked, their websites have been compromised, spreading malware (30% up on the previous year). We believe companies must be more proactive and create “defence in depth” security measures, as it is no longer an option to ignore this issue if they are to stave off future attacks.

Microsoft obtains its largest patent licensee with Foxconn
Microsoft will be celebrating this week with the news it has secured its largest ever patent licensee with Taiwanese phone maker Hon Hai, owners of Foxconn. Although details of the deal are currently scarce, Microsoft will be getting a flat fee per Android device produced, accounting for 40% of Smart Phones worldwide including Kindle Fire. These patents include how file names are implemented, data management and contact databases. Microsoft already extracts royalties from most big name Android manufactures such as Samsung, LG and HTC. Adding Foxconn gives Microsoft a highly profitable new revenue stream, which is more per device than the manufacturers make on the sale of phones themselves.

Amazon takes on Google with their App Store
Amazon has announced over the next few months it will be extending support to almost 200 countries from their app store that runs on top of Android for the Kindle Fire tablets. The Amazon Appstore for Android will support more countries than the native app store available on other Android tablets, such as Samsung and HTC. Indicating Amazon’s commitment and momentum in the mobile sector it will drive sales of Kindle devices in countries where Google’s app store is not supported. In our opinion, it also fuels rumours of Amazon’s move to the Smart Phone sector later this year. Without the support of additional countries, the company would have trouble launching worldwide.

Sony streams in to lay claim to world’s fastest home internet
Google Fiber has been generating internet chatter with its rollout of 1Gbs internet access in America. However Sony have announced what they claim is the ‘world’s fastest commercially-provided home internet service’, which launched in Japan this week providing 2Gbps downloads. We think Sony may be using the service to help the launch of their next-gen HD streaming service later in the year, driven by their acquisition of Gaikai. The launches of these super speed internet connections could make the commercial and business thin client PCs mainstream. From our point of view, it is no coincidence that Google and Sony who would be interested in delivering these services, are preparing the groundwork to make this a reality.

Money on a flashstick
Bitcoin a new virtual currency is making waves. Whilst used for buying goods and services online its distinct feature is its anonymity and independence. Hard to regulate and with transactions tough to trace, it’s a growing honeypot for black marketeers. It’s also an interesting alternative to cash if you are in a country caught in a crisis. Largely disliked by banks and governments, it appealed sufficiently however to the Wikelvoss twins, who went public this week claiming to own 1% of the internet currency worldwide ($11m). They have preserved security from hackers by keeping their digital cash on flashsticks in safe deposits in different banks. Anonymity is a big attraction, however the risk due to wild fluctuation in bitcoin value will keep the meek at bay. We consider that if it continues to grow, it could signal a new player in the global economy. In the meantime, businesses will be more comforted by traditional forms of payment for services, rather than in kind.

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 12th April 2013

Windows XP – Your time is nigh
With the support for Windows XP due to run dry by April 2014, any business still using this operating system is going to find itself extremely vulnerable to security risks and potential data loss. Companies still running Windows XP need to get their upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 sorted without delay.

Microsoft preparing to launch two factor authentication for Microsoft accounts
Microsoft’s two factor authentication will rely on having a mobile App in addition to your Microsoft account and password. The ‘Authenticator’ App is available to download early on Windows Phone and is expected to also arrive later on iOS and Android. We expect the move to tighten security around Microsoft accounts comes with the company pushing their use more than ever with integration built into Windows 8, Surface, SkyDrive, Windows Phone, Xbox, Xbox Music and more.

HP target eco-friendly route for next generation of enterprise server for big data and cloud “Moonshot”, the next generation of software-defined server has been unveiled. It will use 89% less energy and cost 77% less than the existing generation of servers. Whilst this “green” news highlights the difficulties facing the capacity of server farms, it would be surprising to see a change in hardware server provision and management in the near future, due to the restrictive scope of the new technology.

Android – The Trojan horse
FairSearch a group of companies including Microsoft, Nokia and Oracle have filled an antitrust complaint relating to Google’s Android smart phone and tablet OS to the European Commission. Describing the Android platform as a Trojan horse for Google Services and free to date for phone manufactures to use, its prominent placement gives Google an unfair advantage in the lucrative internet services market. Microsoft makes money on each Android phone sold because of their patent portfolio. If the EU levies a fine on Google, it will be interesting to see if they start charging OEMS to use the Android platform to recoup some of the profits they will loss from mobile services and advertising.

This week’s technology news from Amicus ITS – Friday 5th April 2013

Amazon’s Cloud Drive finally includes File Synching
Amazon who holds more Cloud market share than both Google and Microsoft have finally added a file synching feature to Cloud Drive. Cloud storage services are a hugely competitive sector and with Google Drive having suffered 3 service fallouts recently lasting up to 3 hours, it could mark an opportunity for Amazon to promote their alternative further. Amazon’s main differential with Cloud Drive in addition to its vast access to users, is its incorporation into the Kindle Fire tablets. This has helped Amazon gain market share. In conclusion the Cloud storage war will be decided not only on features, but the depth and reach to users and its integration onto different mobile platforms.

ICO compulsory audits of the NHS
The NHS is described as having “significant and widespread data protection compliance concerns” in a consultation document, based on an ICO submitted business case. The Government is investigating making data protection auditing compulsory for the NHS. Currently when a serious data protection problem occurs and is exposed, organisations often do not submit to an audit. ICO reveal that only 53% of NHS organisations referred for audit agreed to it, compared to 71% across the whole public sector. Compulsory audits for the NHS will be the right move to increase patient confidence in what is one of the UK’s largest and most important data control areas.

Windows Phone 123% growth
This week Kantar released its latest data of smartphone market share including data for the UK. Over the last 12 months Windows Phone has shown 123.3% growth in the UK, officially making Microsoft 3rd for Smart Phone market share behind Google and Apple, while Blackberry sits in 4th. This surge of customer interest in Windows Phone is likely due to the launch of Windows Phone 8 and a large marketing campaign, still on-going by Microsoft and Nokia. We predict over the next 12 months Windows Phone will see further growth, while both iOS and Android take the hit to make this happen.

IT Outsourcing on the up
In a recessionary market where cost-savings have included bringing services inhouse, one exception may be the ever increasing outsourcing of IT services. A recent study by Bluewolf (a global business consulting firm), found that out of 200 IT decision makers, 32% said they planned to increase IT outsourcing in the next 12-18 months. Additionally 48% believed they would be hiring more contractors vs full time staff. The ability to capture the best talent managing the latest technology, allied to elasticity of workforce, mobile application assistance, infrastructure support services, cloud data management and disaster planning tailored to a company’s needs will be fundamental to providing the necessary resilience and business continuity to firms in a fast changing commercial environment.