Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Class Action Suits Target Google, Facebook, Zynga

A raft of class action lawsuits filed in the US Federal court charge the globe's biggest social networking firms with violating federal communications privacy laws, allowing advertisers to profit from personal information harvested from users.

Weeks after the Wall Street Journal blew the whistle on lax data privacy standards on Facebook, a string of class action suits attempt to hold the social networking giant, as well as game company Zynga and Google, liable for what the suits contend are, 'lax practices that allow advertisers to harvest personal information on Web users.'

The suits are seeking monetary damages on behalf of potentially millions of users of Facebook, Google and game company Zynga. The suits allege that the users' personal information has been leaked to advertisers and other unauthorized individuals, in violation of the companies' privacy policies and a number of state and federal statues protecting the confidentiality of electronic communications.

Stephen fry animated about Language

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography - Language from Matthew Rogers on Vimeo.

Social Networking and Social Media: Kid's Stuff?

To read more of this presentation from G Leonhard at Impact 2010 - click on the slide

Hackers Firesheep & Latent Evil

In America there is a saying “guns don’t kill people.” Some people add “people with guns kill people.”

This does put a handy slogan on a view about moral responsibility. On the face of it, the sayings are accurate: while a gun can be used to kill a person, guns are not themselves moral agents.

As such, a gun or any weapon, bears no moral responsibility for any deaths that it might be used to bring about.

Today, we will be looking at applying this argument to the use of hacking program, in particular, one called Firesheep, not to be confused with the user-friendly browser Firefox or the emulator Sheepshaver.

Firesheep was written by Eric Butler and brings easy to use 'hacking' functionality to the Firefox web browser. The 'add-on' allows users to view information in internet cookies at sites such as Twitter, Facebook. Flickr, Tumblr and Yelp.

Fortunately, Firesheep is limited in what it can do. It can allow a user to get usernames and session number IDs but it cannot be used to get passwords. In effect, it allows users to view information e.g. a person’s Facebook or Amazon account, but does not let users do anything that would require a password.

It is also limited to hacking on the same network. However, this means that if you are reading this blog on a public wi-fi, then someone with Firesheep could be reading through your darkest Facebook secrets. It is very popular for the 'man-in-the-middle' interceptions used in cafes and public sites. So remember that the creepy fellow sitting two tables down, may also be reading your pages and Tweets too.

The creator, Eric Butler makes it very clear that he sees himself as a white hat: he is hacking to expose vulnerabilities so that they will be fixed. Interestingly, he does directly address the moral issue at hand: “The attack that Firesheep demonstrates is easy to do using tools that have been available for years. Criminals already knew this, and I reject the notion that something like Firesheep turns otherwise innocent people evil.” (Discuss!)

Firefox's response to the topic of Firesheep and hacking on their browser

On the face of it, Butler may be correct. Firesheep, like other tools, is not some sort of cursed weapon that can possess the mind of potential victims and compel them to do evil, unlike television and other media. Clearly, the same is true of other potential harmful pieces of technology, such as guns and junk food.

Therefore, Butler and the other folks who make such tools openly available, are not directly accountable for what people do with the tools. Using the same argument as arms dealers, saying, “I just provide the weapons, the customer does the actual killing.”

Clearly, Butler has no malign intent in creating and releasing Firesheep. Rather, he seems to be like Dr. Gatling, he is hoping (albeit naively) that his creation will do good, rather than generating further evil.

There is another, deeper concern. Namely that providing the tools that makes misdeeds easier makes a person accountable to a degree. While the person who invents or distributes such tools or weapons does not make people evil or make them do misdeeds, the person does make such misdeeds easier.

Check out what Network World are saying about the Firefox and Firesheep threat

Therefore, the person providing the tool does play an indirect causal role in the misdeeds, especially if the tool or weapon serves as a “but for” cause e.g. if someone would have been unable to track down the whereabouts of, and start stalking, their Ex girl friend, without using Firesheep. The assumption is that the Ex would not have been stalked but for intervention of Firesheep. Therefore, making misdeeds easier does appear to bring with it a degree of moral accountability.

Butler answers this sort of criticism by stating that other tools already exist to do just what Firesheep does. Firesheep is just a better known and easier to use tool. So, to use an analogy, Butler is not inventing the gun, he is merely making the gun easier to use.

“Firesheep doesn’t hack. People hack with Firesheep.” You decide!

Mystery disease kills 51 in India

Doctors in a northern Indian state are struggling to identify a disease that has killed more than 50 people over the past two weeks.

The suspected virus affects mostly children and older people, who suffer from a high fever, vomiting and headaches before succumbing, officials said Thursday.

"We are not able to identify the virus that is causing the deaths. It could be a mutant form of dengue or malaria, but we are not sure," said S.P. Ram, the state's top medical official. "Microbiologists are trying to pinpoint the exact cause."

In the state capital, Lucknow, about 340 people have been sickened and at least 51 have died, said Manish Mishra, a government spokesman.

Blood samples have been sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in New Delhi to identify the disease, Mishra said.

Health authorities blamed unhygienic conditions for the spread of the disease, which has particularly hit Lucknow's Khadra neighborhood.

"We cannot give the exact reason for the deaths, but it could be due to unhygienic living conditions in Khadra," said A.K. Shukla, Lucknow's chief medical officer.

Heaps of garbage, open drains filled with fetid water and clogged sewers mark the entrance to Khadra, home to around 250,000 people. The community tap, located next to an open drain, supplies darkish brown water, which people use for drinking and cooking.

"We are living in hell. We drink muddy water and live in a neighbourhood full of filth and dirt," said Kamla Maheshwari, a housewife, as she waited for her turn at the community tap.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wi-Fi Direct Connects Any Wi-Fi Device to Any Other Wi-Fi Device Anywhere

The Wi-Fi Alliance is about to drop a wireless connectivity bombshell called Wi-Fi Direct that will enable device-to-device connections using current Wi-Fi standards. The Wi-Fi Alliance will begin certifying Wi-Fi Direct devices today.

Communication between Wi-Fi devices isn’t specifically new. The Nintendo DS, for instance, has had device-to-device Wi-Fi interaction for some time, but the technology is proprietary.

The Wi-Fi Alliance differentiates Wi-Fi Direct by certifying the standard, ensuring interoperability. Devices stamped with the Wi-Fi Direct certification don’t need wireless networks, as they essentially become micro-hotspots.

This technology will conceivably allow devices like an Eye-Fi memory card to directly beam an image to a wireless printer. Since Wi-Fi Direct is largely software based, many recent devices should be upgradeable.

Speeds for Wi-Fi Direct are based on 802.11b/g/n channels, so we’re looking at intra-device throughput at rates upward of 300Mbps. Range will also be a major selling point, and it’s reasonable to expect that future Wi-Fi Direct devices will eventually achieve distances similar to our home wireless networks.

Bluetooth will undoubtedly be the first technology to suffer as a result of Wi-Fi Direct. Although Bluetooth is aimed, almost universally, at close connections like headsets, it will be hard to trump the speed of Wi-Fi direct. Additionally, Wi-Fi Direct would use the same transponders as other Wi-Fi functions, so device manufacturers will likely be quick to cut redundant technologies.

Here’s a quick animation that illustrates the functionality of Wi-Fi Direct:

How To Improve Your Memory And Concentration

How To Improve Memory And Concentration

If you're looking to improve your memory and concentration, the first thing is, you have to make sure that what you're trying to remember is important to you.

A colleague once said to his wife, in an unwise moment, 'I have real problem remembering people's names'. She said, 'When they start to matter to you, you'll remember their names.' So you've got to make sure that what you're memorising has significance to you.

E-Books: The End of the Textbook

You've heard it before: Digital technologies blew up the music industry's moneymaking model, and the textbook business is next.

For years observers have predicted a coming wave of e-textbooks. But so far it just hasn't happened. One explanation for the delay is that while music fans were eager to try a new, more portable form of entertainment, students tend to be more conservative when choosing required materials for their studies. For a real disruption in the textbook market, students may have to be forced to change.

That's exactly what some companies and college leaders are now proposing. They're saying that e-textbooks should be required reading and that colleges should be the ones charging for them. It is the best way to control skyrocketing costs and may actually save the textbook industry from digital piracy, they claim. Major players like the McGraw-Hill Companies, Pearson, and John Wiley & Sons are getting involved.

To understand what a radical shift that would be, think about the current textbook model. Every professor expects students to have ready access to required texts, but technically, purchasing them is optional. So over the years students have improvised a range of ways to dodge buying a new copy—picking up a used textbook, borrowing a copy from the library, sharing with a roommate, renting one, downloading an illegal version, or simply going without. Publishers collect a fee only when students buy new books, giving the companies a financial impetus to crank out updated editions whether the content needs refreshing or not.

The new plan: Colleges require students to pay a course-materials fee, which would be used to buy e-books for all of them (whatever text the professor recommends, just as in the old model).

Innovation frustrated by short-term thinking

Information technology departments have often been accused of slowing down change or innovation, since systems can take time to adapt to new processes. However, a new survey reveals CEOs view their IT departments as the best thing they have going when it comes to innovation.

These are part of the findings found in Olympus Corporation of the Americas’ recently released findings of a Harris Interactive survey of the attitudes of 304 Fortune 1000 executives toward enterprise innovation. The study had some other interesting findngs as well. For example, most CEOs want an innovation culture as a way to attract and retain employees, and most say there’s too much short-term thinking to focus on innovation. An executive summary of the survey is available here.

IT is viewed as having been the most innovative function within executives’ own companies during the past 10 years (44 percent), and by far the most likely focal point for investment (60 percent) and continued innovation (63 percent) over the next two years.

Many of the innovations that companies are depending on to compete in a hyper-competitive global economy — analytics, e-business, automation, and mobile to name a few — are all about IT.

The survey finds that executives see a culture of innovation as crucial to not only growing their businesses (95 percent) and profitability (94 percent), but also for attracting and keeping talent (86 percent). However, more than half of executives (53 percent) say their company does not focus enough on enterprise innovation, citing the following obstacles to innovation:

  • Pressure to meet short-term goals and achieve quick results (64 percent);
  • Other business goals or objectives taking priority (61 percent);
  • Lack of incentives to inspire or reward enterprise innovation (36 percent);
  • Lack of systems or tools for fostering enterprise innovation (31 percent);
  • Insufficient resources to enable high-quality human capital to focus on innovation (29 percent); and,
  • Lack of support from senior leadership (19 percent).

While IT is seen as the main proponent of innovation, executives and managers in this area of the business may also be stymied by short-term priorities. IT departments are often so busy fighting fires and trying to keep the lights on with an overstretched staffs that long-term efforts end up on back burners. Here’s where a close partnership with the business side can make a difference, and keep exciting new innovations on the top of the priority list.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

UNLOGO: Removes Logos from your Video Footage

Unlogo Intro


Unlogo is a web service that eliminates logos and other corporate signage from videos.

On a practical level, it takes back your personal media from the corporations and advertisers.

On a technical level, it is a really cool combination of some brand new OpenCV and FFMPEG functionality.

On a poetic level, it is a tool for focusing on what is important in the record of your life rather than the ubiquitous messages that advertisers want you to focus on.

For more information visit the Unlogo website here

Dilbert and the Sales process

Visit the Dilbert strip website here

Practical Economic wisdom - Dilbert style

The 2011 Dilbert calendar is available in all good shops near you or online here on the Dilbert website

Packed full of good economic sense, HR insight, philosophical wisdom and unique problem-solving strategies.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Brief Review of Creativity

"Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found." -- James Russell Lowell

Often times creativity is thought to be artistic, lofty, intelligent, out-of-the-ordinary, and beyond understanding.

However, creativity comes in much simpler forms such as formulating a solution to an everyday problem; if someone runs out of fuel on the highway, the person must think of a way to get to his/her destination, and this requires creativity even if it is in its simplest form.

Creativity can be observed in the unusual as well. For instance, Craig Wallace, now a college freshman, developed a nuclear fusion reactor out of junkyard parts and cheap finds. Creativity is not just the writings of Descartes or the oil paintings of Klimt, so what is it?

What Is Creativity?

After exhaustive research, Morgan (1953) listed the universal factor for creativity to be novelty (Cropley, 1999). Novelty requires originality and newness. There must be something fresh to the idea.

Sternberg and Lubert (1995) proposed that novelty must be coupled with appropriateness for something to be considered creative. Novelty can be the coalescence of any two or more different things or thoughts. For instance,

Damien Hirst is a controversial artist who has sliced animals into fragments, but many people do not consider this creative even though it is novel and original. Many people do not recognize the factor of appropriateness in his work and consider it to be feckless.

Although creativity can be seen in the products, it can also be considered in terms of the process. Weisberg (1986) proposes that creativity can be defined by the novel use of tools to solve problems or novel problem solving. Dr. Gunther von Hagens has in the past few years started exhibiting the dissected and transfigured bodies of people.

Professor von Hagens is a medical professor at the University of Heidelberg who perfected plastic injection into bodily tissue. This is a novel use of tools to solve the problem of decay and distortion from old methods of preserving human tissue. The end product is creative because of the creative use of tools.

Ward, Finke, and Smith (1995) defined creativity in the products made, the differences in people, the pressures that motivate, and the processes behind creativity. The products made are new and fresh which is the clearest example of creativity.

However, there are defining subtleties in people; for example, some people are considered to be more creative than others, and in addition to inherent differences in people, there are different motivations for creativity (e.g., some people are driven to create).

Finally, the process for creativity can be different. Some people seclude themselves while others seek guidance and dialogue.

While there is debate over the guidelines for judging creativity, two things remain: novelty and appropriateness. These two things may be viewed in the product, the tools, the people, the motivation, and/or the processes, but these are the two necessary ingredients.


Once considered to be the result of insanity or divine intervention, now the mystery behind creativity is slowly being revealed. There has been much debate over what exactly creativity is, and now creativity is believed to be characterised by novel and appropriate ideas, products, and/or use of tools.

It was once thought that creativity was caused by psychoticism, but now it is considered to be a series of cognitions following some sort of process. The process is not precisely known, but there are thoughtful speculations which remove the mystery from creativity and the stigma that it is only being possessed by geniuses.

With all this new information, there is a great deal of implementation. AI is now being considered to be more alive if it possesses creativity, and theories are quickly being developed as to how to program creativity.

Education is attempting to encompass creativity in addition to the acquisition of hard facts and other skills, and business is noticing the importance of creativity in furthering growth of individual companies and departments.

To read more visit.....................A Brief Review of Creativity

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dalai Lama - Compassion, Respect and Education

The need for dialogue in resolving conflict and disagreement.

Stanford University on YouTube

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Festo Air Penquins


Twitter and the American Revolution

Twitter is a global information network made powerful by what the American sociologist Mark Granovetter from Stanford University first theorised as "The Strength of Weak Ties."

Granovetter's paper was later popularised by the international bestselling book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by the esteemed Malcolm Gladwell.

In his book, Gladwell teaches us how Paul Revere and this "weak-tie" phenomenon contributed to the success of The American Revolution.

Paul Revere had a broad network, a fast communication system (a horse), and a catchy phrase far less than one hundred and forty characters: "The British are coming!"

In "Small Change," Mr. Gladwell admits that social media activism is "a wonderful thing" empowering citizens with "marvelous efficiency."

The American Revolution and Civil Rights Movement were not tweeted, but to suggest that emerging tools like Twitter have no part to play in the future of meaningful change is absurd.

Little things can make a big difference and social networks are the carriers of change.

"Viva la revolución."
"Small Change" dismisses leaderless, self-organising systems as viable agents of change. A flock of birds flying around an object in flight has no leader yet this beautiful, seemingly choreographed movement is the very embodiment of change.

Rudimentary communication among individuals in real time allows many to move together as one--suddenly uniting everyone in a common goal. Lowering the barrier to activism doesn't weaken humanity, it brings us together and it makes us stronger.

Philosophically speaking: Determinism and Free Will

Determinism (specifically causal determinism) is the concept that events within a given paradigm are bound by causality in such a way that any state (of an object or event) is, to some large degree, determined by prior states.

Given any set of circumstances (A) and the laws of nature (L) then (on the assumption that the laws of nature are -in this universe at least- inviolable) then A plus L will inevitably lead to their consequent B.

It goes without saying that A will itself be the consequence of a set of antecedent circumstances in conjunction with L.

Determinism has been taken by many philosophers to be incompatible with Free Will on the grounds that our actions are the product of “choices” both of which are part of the natural world and are therefore subject to L.

Choices are also “events” and are therefore the inevitable consequence of some set of antecedent circumstances acted upon by L; as are the expression of those choices in action.

Determinism may or may not be true but if it is true then there is no room (so the incompatibilist argues) for free will.

Free will is an illusion: occasionally comforting, occasionally not.

on the other hand argues that if we allow that our choices are uncaused (call this indeterminism) then this makes them random and therefore not choices at all: the very concept of free will seems inimical to randomness. It is the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe both without being logically inconsistent

There must, therefore, be an account of free will that rescues it from determinism. Other philosophers (most notably Peter van Inwagen) have suggested that it might instead be the case that the concept of free will is incoherent since it seems inconsistent with all logically available positions regarding the truth or otherwise of determinism.

At best free will is mysterious on this view.

The paradox of the human condition, is that we are at one and the same time objects in a world of other objects and governed by the same physical laws as those objects, and simultaneously freely choosing subjects with an apparent perspective on that world of objects, from which it follows that we are apart from that world of objects.

Freedom, again, is mysterious on this view and to set up free will in competition with determinism is misconceived.

Technology outstrips security yet again - SmartPlanet

Cisco is today releasing a survey on the security (or lack of) of corporate data. It is something that should give us all cold chills.

We are already well aware that there are professional and national gangs of cyberthieves crafting malicious code that can target and steal bank passwords and other sensitive corporate data online.

However, that’s not the subject under discussion today; it’s corporate carelessness, incompetence and stupidity, combined with very mobile devices whose capabilities are drawing corporate IT players out of their comfort zones.

Three out of five workers believe they need to be in the office to be productive, according to Cisco. They feel so strongly about being mobile that they’d sacrifice (a small) part of their valuable salary to retian this freedom and flexibility, even although it generally means putting in longer hours.

This is especially true outside of the Westernised world; India, China, Brazil and Spain.

Two-thirds of workers make demands on IT resources and services to enable them to use any device they believe suitable and appropriate, whether personal or corporate, to access the company network, regardless of date, time or location.

Nearly half of the IT people surveyed said they were not ready to allow or enable this, siting security as their biggest concern. Clearly, constrained budgets and the limited skills of staff is also a deterent. However users continue to make more demands on th eIT services to provide this capability and if it is not forthcoming they see IT as the obstacle.

You know that IT departments have good reasons to be concerned:

- 1 in 5 workers said they’ve noticed strangers looking at their computer screens in public – and another 1 in 5 said they don’t bother to check who’s looking at their screens.

- About 1 in 5 workers have left their computing devices unattended in public.

- Nearly 3 in 5 workers lend their devices to people they don’t work with — and then don’t supervise them.

- As for the IT people, 1 in 4 said a quarter of the devices they’ve issued to employees in the last 12 months are already either stolen or lost.

- And we are well aware of the Man-in-the-Middle tactics of public access WiFi sites and Hotspots in cafes and libraries.

This survey was actually two surveys – one of employees, the other of IT professionals, 2600 people in all – in 13 countries: the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, the U.K., France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China, Japan and Australia. Cisco sponsored the survey, but it was conducted by a third party,

Here’s a parting remark from the chief technologist (and futurist) of Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group — Dave Evans: “Work is not a place anymore. It’s a lifestyle…”

Morality: Don't be afraid to dream

A LUCID dream has three phases. First you experience the dream as reality. Then you recognise it as a product of your mind. Finally, you gain the power of control.

Morality is proceeding along similar lines. We have long thought of moral laws as fixed points of reality, self-evident truths rooted in divine command or in some Platonic realm of absolute rights and wrongs. However, new research is offering an alternative, explaining moral attitudes in the context of evolution, culture and the neural architecture of our brains.

This apparent reduction of morality to a scientific specimen can seem threatening, but it can be explained. By unmasking our minds as the authors of our morality, we may be better able to affect the narrative arc towards a happy (or happier) ending.

One way to do this is to recognise the ways in which evolution has shaped morality. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt asked students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to imagine a brother and sister engaging in secret, consensual, protected sex. Would that be wrong, he asked? Most thought so.

However, when asked why, the students floundered. Protection meant no threat of disabled children, and secrecy brought no possibility of disclosure or embarrassment (in the short term). The pair had no conscience or regrets because it was through mutual agreement and consensual. So how is it wrong?

Perhaps incest is simply an arbitrary taboo, passed on through religion, law, parents and peers or is it a societal taboo instilled in less enlightened time to restrict the genetic weakening effect of inbreeding.

Debra Lieberman, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Miami in Florida, tested these rival hypotheses with an ingenious experiment (Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, vol 270, p 819). She considered the ways in which evolution could have built in a "sibling detector".

For older siblings, it is easy: just watch who your mother gives birth to and who she raises as her own. For younger siblings a more subtle strategy is needed: note how many years you live in the same household as other children.

Lieberman asked over 1000 people how much the thought of incest disgusted them, and the results were clear as day: older siblings were uniformly disgusted by the thought, while younger siblings' disgust was a linear function of years of co-habitation.

Then Lieberman showed that unrelated children reared together in Israeli kibbutzim develop sexual aversions according to the same factors, even though there is no cultural taboo against relationships between them.

Finally, she showed that people's moral outrage when contemplating others engaging in incest was predicted by the level of aversion they would feel towards intercourse with their own siblings, again based on those two factors. In short, it seems that the moral injunction against incest is a product of a specifically evolved mechanism to prevent sibling sex.

Theories about the biological evolution of morality have been around for some time, but a very recent area of research is into the cultural evolution of morality. Just as we inherit genes from our parents, we inherit values from cultural sources, and just as genes adapt to environments, values evolve to match the structure of social life.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Microsoft seeing record levels of Java Malware

According to data from Microsoft’s malware protection center, there has been an “unprecedented wave” of exploits against vulnerabilities in Oracle Sun’s Java software in 2010.

Microsoft’s Holly Stewart notes that there has been a dramatic spike in Java attacks in the third quarter this year, mostly against these three vulnerabilities:

A deserialization issue in vulnerable versions of JRE (Java Runtime Environment) allows remote code execution through Java-enabled browsers on multiple platforms, such as Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Apple Mac OS X.
Another remote code execution, multi-platform issue caused by improper parsing of long file:// URL arguments.
Another deserialization issue, very similar to CVE-2008-5353.
“The first two, in particular, have gone from hundreds of thousands per quarter to millions,” Stewart said.
The startling data comes on the heels on last week’s massive Java patch that covered 29 critical security vulnerabilities.

According to Oracle, 28 of these vulnerabilities could be remotely exploitable without authentication (over a network without the need for a username and password). The patches are available for Windows, Linux and Solaris users.

According to Oracle’s advisory,  15 of the 29 vulnerabilities carry the maximum 10.0 CVSS severity rating.

How to Create an Inspiring Work Setting « Workplace Psychology

Harvard Business Review’s Answer Exchange lists some great ways to foster an inspired work environment:
  • Regularly explain to your employees the importance of their work to the company’s larger goals.
  • Express your appreciation of their efforts towards this goal
  • Break down long-term assignments into clear, achievable, short-term milestones that can be celebrated when achieved.
  • Demonstrate confidence in your employees’ ability to overcome problems. (not by disappearing to the golf course or having long lunches)
  • Regularly take employees aside and ask them if they feel challenged, listened to, and recognised. (check you know their names first)
  • When giving feedback, balance negative criticism with feedback that accentuates the positive.
  • Always recognise others for a job well done. Use rewards to acknowledge superior performance.
  • Celebrate every success and milestone. (remember to Budget for this and don't skimp)
Reference: Harvard Business Review (2010). HBR Answers Exchange.
More............Workplace Psychology

Extraverts Working With Introverts

We are all aware that our personality traits exist within a wide or narrow spectrum. Within that band, we can be low, moderate, or high on the introvert /extraversion trait.

If you are low in extraversion, you are referred to as being high in introversion.

While personality can help predict how someone is likely to behave, it doesn’t always determine how we behave towards them. The situation, the setting, how others act, our mood, our values, our intentions, etc – are just as likely to have an impact or force a reaction in our behaviour and actions.

None the less, the behaviours of an extreme introvert and an extreme extravert can vary so dramatically in response to an identical situation. If you are apart on th eintrovert /extravert scale then you may have difficulty understanding how and why the other person is reacting in the way they are.

To be an effective leader, you must be able to recognise and adapt your style to integrate and complement the characteristics of others. To work effectively in a team situation, it is essential that you recognise, respect, and meld with the differences of others.

Emotional Expression
One hallmark of extraverts is that they are very likely to display positive emotions whenever they feel them. In contrast, an introvert may be very happy or pleased, yet less attentive colleagues around them may not recognise a change because they are more restrained and reserved in their emotional expression.

Introverts will not jump up and down in response to a birthday gift or a promotion but you cannot assume that they are unhappy or unappreciative of the event. They are more likely to express their true emotions through words rather than actions. Remember to take those words at face value and don’t read too much into them.

Information Processing
Extraverts will express their thoughts as they occur and sometimes start talking before their thoughts are fully developd or make sense, even to them.

If introverts start taking without a plan in mind, then they will only get very embarassed and confused by the immediate feedback from their colleagues. This is especially true in problem-solving.

Don’t expect an instant answer from an introvert because they have a complex checks and balance thought process to undergo, prior to providing a response.

It's always good meeting management to provide everyone with the agenda, the problem, the questions, etc and a summary of the expected outcome or action. It maximises the contributions that everyone will make and is especially important to give the introverts a chance to pre-think their views.

In recent years, open collaboration spaces have become very popular and are great for the extraverts. However, make sure you also have private, quiet spaces where work can be done relative 'privacy' and without interruptions. Introverts work better if their 'personal space' is not invaded.

Social Interaction
It is a misconception that introverts have poor social skills or are shy. It appears this way because introverts expend more nervous energy and become drained after interacting with others and they need to recharge after such event by retreating into their 'personal space' and taking some 'alone time.'

Introverts are more likely to enjoy interacting with others one-on-one than in larger group settings. They also tend to enjoy getting to know a few people very well rather than lots of people superficially. Because introverts process information internally and in additionally complex way, they may be slow to express what they are thinking through speech. Give them time to finish expressing themselves, without interrupting.

Quick tips:

  • Extraverts tend to dominate brainstorming sessions. Ask introverts for their opinion specifically in a 'round robin' manner and create an atmosphere where they can be heard without interruptions.
  • Phone conversations create awkward pauses when the introvert is thinking. Use email if you want to get their clear and comprehensive thoughts around a topic.
  • Introverts will often keep their emotions, interests, ideas, and thoughts to themselves. It takes time, trust, and relationship bilding to get to know them fully.
  • Introverts have a larger personal space bubble and a lower tolerance for external stimuli. Hold the hugs, turn down the music, and give them some space.

Crowdsourcing: Customers' design power

Let me introduce a furniture business with no warehouse - and no inventory.

Instead, products are "crowdsourced".

This is how it works. Visitors to the website are encouraged to submit their designs. The best of these are worked up into prototypes, and posted on the website. Registered members of the community vote. The most popular pieces are then available for pre-order - made in China (unfortunately), shipped by container and delivered directly to buyers from the port.

The designers are paid nothing upfront - but receive 5% royalties on successful designs, which Mr Li maintains is above the industry average. It also motivates the designers to promote and market their 'own' products.

By going directly to manufacturers in Mr Li's native China (of course), he says the company can offer high-quality furniture at (cheap prices) discounts of between 60-70% compared to traditional (European and US) high street retailers.

"People buy things from very valued brands. They buy from an importer, who buys from an agent, who sources it from elsewhere. Each time a mark-up is added, sometimes it changes hands three to four times."

"You can sell cheap furniture for a cheap price, but that's not a bargain for consumers. The only way to create a bargain is to create quality furniture for a good price.

"How do we do that? When you link the consumer to the manufacturer there are huge areas of opportunity." (Big savings in not paying designers for their designs i.e. the IKEA effect)

Defining crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing isn't new. Wired magazine's Jeff Howe, defines it as "the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call."(which ignores the impact on designers and the null price attached to their work and skills)

Companies who have embraced it include Procter & Gamble. Their Connect + Develop initiative gave birth to the Swiffer range of cleaning products. InnoCentive crowdsources solutions to R&D problems; chipmaker Intel is looking for the home phone of tomorrow; industrial giant GE is offering $100,000 for a green electricity grid, and Crowdspring deals in design. (Clear corporate and financial benefits to removal of designer costs from product creation and development)

It's the internet, of course, that makes crowdsourcing possible - on a global scale.

So is turning your customers into both creative director and chief of research the ideal low-cost model for business?(which is great unless you are a professional creative director or designer)

John Winsor is the author of Spark: Be more Innovative through Co-Creation and chief executive of Victors & Spoils, an ad agency built on crowdsourcing principles: "First of all it's a lot cheaper, and secondly you get a lot more diversity of ideas, so those are the big advantages, and the speed - you get hundreds of ideas in a matter of four or five days. Great ideas come from the edges."

(Clearly you will get a wave of new ideas of variable quality, because there is no cost, filtering or selection criteria carried out. In the same way, you would get lots of applicants for a highly paid CEO position if you asked for no qualifying criteria or relevant experience)

Even the evangelists of crowdsourcing admit that there are pitfalls. "The biggest caveat is the issue of curation. It's great you opening the gates up to everybody - but all of a sudden you're going to get a lot more stuff."

To cope, ever more companies offer to help setting up crowdsourcing solutions. Mr Li, though, feels that the technology doesn't need to be onerous.

"We take very good photos, with a solid, fast website. We have a technical team so everything's been built in-house. The voting section for instance, this kind of feature is very easy to design."

NHS IT manager illegally accesses patient records

An NHS IT manager was given a six-month suspended jail sentence for illegally accessing medical records in Hull between October 2008 and June last year.

Dale Trever, 22, was employed by Hull Primary Care Trust as a data quality manager and saw no harm in accessing the medical details of 413 patients. Of these, 336 were his family, friends and colleagues.

Trever was caught after a general practitioner’s practice manager became suspicious and reported him.

He pleaded guilty to seven counts of breaching the Computer Misuse Act 1990 because he believed “idle curiosity” was not a crime. He did not feel he had done any harm because he did not alter the data, save it or print it.

Under the Act, primarily aimed at hackers, there does not have to be intention to access specific data or programs, only that the data has been accessed and the access was unauthorised. It is rare such cases come to court because of the difficulty of proving guilt.

Having been formulated in 1990, the law is somewhat out of touch with modern computing techniques and is currently being updated.

The files Trever accessed included details of a female colleague who had spurned his advances, a former girlfriend and girls he had been at school with.

Trever has resigned from his post and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Network security open to new attack

Network security open to new attack | IT PRO

All network security equipment, the strongest of which is used by the financial industry, is exposed to a new kind of online attack, Finnish data security vendor Stonesoft claimed today.

Stonesoft said it has found a new threat category – advanced evasion techniques (AETs) – which simultaneously combined different evasions in several layers of networks, and in the process became invisible for security gear.

While evasions – tools hackers often use to penetrate network security – are nothing new, AETs package them in new ways to let attackers bypass most firewalls and intrusion detection and prevention systems (IPS) without being detected.

This could give them access to data on secure corporate networks and allow them to plant further attacks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Whooping cough makes a comeback: many not vaccinated

Recent outbreaks of whooping cough highlight the need for adults to be vaccinated against this highly contagious disease, U.S. health officials said.

Not only does vaccination protect adults against the disease, it reduces the odds that they will pass on an illness that can be life-threatening to those most at risk: infants who haven't finished their full vaccination series, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A whooping cough outbreak this year in California has already sickened more than 5,270 infants and killed nine, the agency reported. That rate of illness is the highest recorded in the state since 1955, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The best way to protect yourself and the infants you come into contact from getting whooping cough — also known as pertussis — is the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, the CDC advises.

"A pertussis booster shot is essential to prevent the spread of pertussis to infants," said infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University in New York City, who was not involved in the report.

"This vaccine wears off, and if you don't get a booster you are putting babies at risk because the spread of pertussis is on the increase, with 17,000 cases reported in 2009," he said. Most infants that have not had their full vaccination series are under six months of age.

If you take care of an infant or have contact with an infant, you have to get a booster, Siegel said. "That booster is best done by getting Tdap, because you need a tetanus booster anyway, so Tdap makes total sense," he said.

The CDC recommends that all adults 18-64 in contact with infants or working in health care receive a Tdap within two years of their last tetanus vaccination, and that other adults in the same age range be offered the vaccine 10 years or more after their last tetanus shot.

However, in the event of outbreaks or a jump in cases of whooping cough in the community, these adults can be vaccinated even when they got last tetanus shot less than 10 years ago, the agency said.

Tdap, which was first introduced in 2005, offers protection from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.

Video: From No Limbs To No Limits

Friday, October 15, 2010

Phone a Friend with Skype

Skype has added Facebook integration to its latest voice over IP (VoIP) telephony software.

Skype 5.0 features a new interface and improved video conferencing alongside the Facebook connection. Simplicity has been the watchword in designing this latest version, Skype claimed.

The connection brings Facebook into Skype rather than the other way about. Ethan Beard, the director of Facebook Developer Network, blogged: “When you install the new Skype version 5.0 for Windows and sign in with Facebook, you can easily call or SMS your friends. You also can check out your News Feed, update your status, and Like and comment on posts directly within Skype.”

After the introduction, several internet commenters have pointed out they spend more time in Facebook than in Skype and would have preferred the integration to be reversed.

Rick Osterloh, head of consumer product marketing at Skype, welcomed the new version with a blog in which he revealed video has been a focus because of its growing popularity.

“Video calling accounted for approximately 40 per cent of all Skype-to-Skype minutes in the first half of this year,” he said.

The download, which has been available since yesterday, has a free trial of group video conferencing. Up to 10 people can be linked into a single session and the company said this was added partially because of business user demands.

VoIP calls have had a bad reputation for dropping calls. On Skype this has meant redialling the connection. Osterloh said call recovery is now included to allow automatic reconnection.

Another improvement added to the calling experience is an automatic call quality manager that gauges audio and video quality as the phone conversation progresses.

Anyone who got excited when a rumour hit the internet that Facebook was considering releasing or endorsing a phone, can download Skype 5.0 now rather than waiting.

Protect your Wi-Fi connection

How do you keep your Wi-Fi connection safe from hackers and casual snoopers?

Top five tips

1 – Always use encryption and try to avoid WEP wherever possible. Stick to WPA2 encryption as WEP is crackable in a matter of minutes.

WPA2 is still currently considered secure, as long as you use a complex key (PSK) – use upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

2 – Make sure you change the default SSID and passwords on your Wireless Access Point or Router.

3 – Do not broadcast your SSID. This does not make you invisible from committed hackers, but it does help avoid casual snoopers.

4 – Try not to name your network after anything relating to your company name or address, giving away any kind of unnecessary information about which network belongs to. You will only aid those seeking to penetrate it.

5 – If you are running a smaller network, consider implementing MAC address filtering on the router or access point in order to restrict network access only to trusted devices. Again this is not “unhackable” but it will deter al but the most dedicated.

Beware! The Son of Zeus can bypass your Antivirus Controls

Trend Micro has reported a new variant of the Zeus Trojan will not be detected by conventional antivirus applications. In fact, it has proved to be virtually undetectable.

Zeus has proved to be a persistent threat and was responsible for the recent £6 million theft from UK bank accounts by an international gang. This latest evolution of the Trojan means more financial misery could be happening, with computer users unaware their PC had been involved.

The latest variant has been given the typically ungainly name TSPY_ZBOT.BYZ. It has avoided detection by importing a large number of application programming interfaces (APIs), making it difficult to know where it would strike.

The new Zeus is also compressed differently to its predecessors, which foils a detection system based on calculable entropy. This is finding where in the viral code certain trigger routines might be hidden. It has enabled the Trojan to fool the heuristic detection systems in antivirus protection systems.

In addition to these features, analysing the virus has proved difficult for the numerous labs that develop counter measures. Normally, a virus is isolated in a sandbox, or isolated environment, to see how the code executed, what system changes it made and any network traffic it generated. Zeus just refused to play in a sandbox, Trend Micro claimed.

Since the appearance of Zeus.BYZ, another variant, Zeus.SMEQ, has been found and, given the difficulty in detection, there may have been more added to the family.

Trend’s experts, and all the other antivirus companies, have been working on a detection process.

Julius Dizon, research engineer at Trend Micro, concluded: “To properly guard against this threat, conventional antivirus is not sufficient. Both improved detection techniques and proactive blocking of the websites, working together, can protect users.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Change your attitude, then your suit

Studies have proven something that we have always known, there’s such a thing as the 'beauty dividend', which means, good-looking people get hired first, receive more praise and get more raises.

Unfortunately, not all of us look like George Clooney or Madonna. We do not have the time money or motivation to go through complete re-constructive plastic surgery, prior to an interview. We simply have to accept how we really are and make the best of it, warts and all.

Most of us have to work hard at getting hired by simply being better at what we do, and be prepared to fight for recognition and scant rewards in an unfair and highly competitive world.

Fortunately, there is something more valuable and important than good looks and charm, Something we can use to our advantage. We mere mortals have the 'attitude dividend.' If you ask any HR professional to name the most coveted attribute in a candidate, they will almost always respond with; “We’re looking for a positive can-do attitude.”

The good news is that a positive attitude is something people can actually work on developing and improving, to the point where it comes across loud and clear during your interview. 

You can get somebody to notice you for one day by paying for a spray tan, an expensive make-over and changing your suit but you can get people to notice you for a lifetime by your strong positive attitude.

Lookout George we are after your crown!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Fine, The Good, and the Meaningful

Can philosophy really offer advice on happiness? Certainly this was one of its traditional aspirations.

In the seventeenth-century, it was taken for granted that the philosopher’s job included talking about how to achieve a happy life.

When René Descartes was a schoolboy, one of the state-of-the-art textbooks he studied was a massive compendium of philosophy in four parts published in 1609 by the now forgotten scholastic philosopher Eustachius; it discussed logic and metaphysics and physics and psychology, but it also stated that “the final goal of a complete philosophical system is human happiness.”

This was following a long tradition, that stretched back through the middle ages, and indeed right back to classical times. The Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote a treatise called De Vita Beata, “On the Happy Life”; and much earlier his Greek Stoic predecessors had offered many recommendations on how to live in a calm and balanced and tranquil way, how to achieve a “good flow of life”, as Zeno, the founder of Stoicism put it, in the third century before Christ.

Going back just a little earlier, Aristotle, the co-founder of Western philosophy along with Plato, gave lectures on ethics which described the goal of human life as what he called eudaimonia, that is to say, happiness or human fulfilment.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Word washing

The Pyramid Of Expectation

A basic overview of expectations. One of the central pillars of a compelling experience is that it exceeds expectations.

People are pleased, but not really moved, when their expectations are met.

If you don’t meet expectations, then you disappoint people and provide a bad experience.

On the other side, people are really thrilled and motivated to tell others when they’ve had an experience that exceeded their expectations.

Most companies today are patting themselves on the back and are thrilled when they hit ‘satisfaction’ levels.

Satisfaction is the fruit of the company delivering on what they promised they would. It’s just like keeping a promise – and in this day and age, keeping a promise is not so difficult hard, is it?

From the Pyramid of Expectation, you will see that you are only reaching the half way point to controlling, meeting and exceeding your customers' expectations.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Five Simple Steps to Better Decisions

Business processes seem to come in two flavors: those that produce transactions or content and those that produce decisions. The quality of decisions from the latter category often drives the trajectory of the business. Well-executed, insightful decisions can lead to superior results.

1. Focus on the Processes that Matter most to Your Business
Organizations improving insightful decision-making carefully pick the key processes and operational variables on which to focus. Clear alignment exists between a successful organization's market strategy and its processes and operating metrics to implement the strategy.

W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, in their groundbreaking book, "Blue Ocean Strategy," developed an interesting approach in which they recommend picking operational variables in the context of strategy development. They point to well-known examples of companies with clearly differentiated strategies, including Southwest Airlines and Cirque du Soleil.

In the high tech electronics industry, clients select variables that include forecast accuracy, order fulfillment rate and inventory levels. Making planning decisions on a weekly basis at the SKU level, based on insights across those variables, resulted in tremendous improvements in all three.

2. Stay Focused on Your End Goal
The improvements you target should be expressed as changes in the specific selected variables. For example, if the goal is to reduce inventory by 30 percent, the initiative should fit that objective clearly.

This kind of Deming approach of "you get what you measure" is well-documented, but it is surprising how many organizations do the first step without then taking the time to set clear objectives in the second.

Deriving insights from a business process requires a good balance of freedom to efficiently explore information and decision alternatives coupled with a clear idea of the objective.

3. Ensure Your Data Supports Your Insights
Taking into account the processes, variables and objectives selected in the first two steps, the third step in improving decisions is to determine the readiness of your data and infrastructure to support the kind of insights required.

Organizations often get caught in the trap of believing that their data or infrastructure are not up to the task and assuming that progress cannot be made without solving those issues. And yet, decisions must still be made, and it falls on business analysts to cobble together information manually and come to meetings armed with spreadsheets.

These discussions based on suspect data often lead to finger pointing and fact questioning instead of insightful decisions.

If the data is suitable to drive the required, but often ineffective, discussions, would it not make more sense to leverage the data in a smarter way to derive insights more systematically and in a way that improves over time?

One of these techniques is to provide analytic reports showing all variations of a particular data field along with their owners. The process designers indicate which field variant is authoritative for a particular value, and technology can be used to manage the communication with other owners as they align their data.

As alignment is achieved, the quality of the insights steadily improves. This "peer pressure" approach to data cleansing at the source is reminiscent of rating systems used for sites like eBay.

There is incentive to getting the information right at its sources because everyone sees the impacts of good and bad data downstream.

This technique is distinct from the traditional approach of creating large data warehouses that attempt to consolidate schemas and provide highly cleansed enterprise data from a central source for driving analyses and processes.

Many organizations have struggled with the data warehouse approach, in part because their businesses don't remain static long enough to even finish the warehousing project.

It is always beneficial to leverage warehouses that are in place, at whatever level of completion, and then use the peer pressure approach to fill in the gaps and address new gaps as they emerge.

4. Parlay Processes & Insights into Smarter Decisions
The fourth step is to design and engineer the process and business analytic capabilities required to produce the insights and execute the resulting decisions.

This work might seem straightforward, but it is fraught with subtleties and traps typically resulting from experience biases among the team involved in the work. For example, an IT team charged with deploying a company's business intelligence technology of choice would naturally focus on the reports required.

The reports are a critical part of deliverables, but if the business analysts still have to manually transform the information and engage in offline or disconnected interpretation discussions spanning a company's functions, driving insightful decisions remains difficult.

Alternatively, if the team is adept at business software development that supports transaction or content production processes, the tendency is to try to develop analytical processes using the same methodology. This typically results in elongated development cycles and solutions that still miss the mark.

Improving insight requires a careful combination of flexibility and context management in some kind of guided analytics environment, as opposed to an exact, step-by-step approach.

If the team comes from a process development or consulting background, the two traps I see most are biasing the work more toward the process than the result and producing one-time deliverables that may not transition well into an ongoing change vehicle.

While many of the skills of these teams are often highly valuable, agile development processes coupled with the right amount of business-focused domain expertise are more suitable for business analytics.

Getting capabilities in the hands of the process stakeholders quickly and then letting them evolve as the methods of gaining insights emerge usually adds more value quicker than locking down exact requirements and following traditional development methods. And it is equally important to ensure that the resulting process captures the entire insight loop, including planning, reporting, analysis, collaboration, decision-making and execution.

5. Use Your New Processes to Drive Improvements
The fifth step is to operate the new process and drive the targeted improvements. Here, it is important to make sure resources are provided for properly interacting with the process, data and stakeholders to facilitate the emergence of insights and decisions.

Initially, the new process might require more work than the old process, especially until the stakeholders get comfortable with the differences in the new decisions versus what they would have done in the past. This initial increase in work should be planned for, and if your program is successful you should soon see a much sharper net decrease in work versus the old process.

The best insight-driven processes eventually require tremendous effort to stop, as opposed to tremendous efforts to keep them running.

Even if you do not have all the skills needed to implement these changes, you don't have to go it alone or wait to get started until your team is fully in place. Business models and other resources are emerging quickly to help organizations holistically with these kinds of programs and will be of tremendous value as you develop your program.

As you move through the steps, you can define the gap between the resources you have and those that are needed and build your case around the target variable improvements that process insights will incrementally deliver to your business.

NASA - ASTER Captures New Image of Pakistan Flooding

In late July 2010, flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains began in several regions of Pakistan, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and parts of Baluchistan.

According to the Associated Press, the floods have affected about one-fifth of the country.

Tens of thousands of villages have been flooded, more than 1,500 people have been killed, and millions have been left homeless.

The floodwaters are not expected to fully recede before late August.

The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft captured this cloud-free image over the city of Sukkur, Pakistan, on Aug. 18, 2010. Sukkur, a city of a half-million residents located in southeastern Pakistan's Sindh Province, is visible as the grey, urbanized area in the lower left center of the image.

It lies along the Indus River, Pakistan's longest, which snakes vertically from north to south through the image and is the basis for the world's largest canal-based irrigation system. As reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation, Sukkur is one of the few urban areas in the region that has thus far escaped widespread destruction from the flooding, which has affected an estimated 4,000,000 people in the province.

Relief camps have sprung up across the city to house some of these displaced people. The land along the Indus River in this region is largely agricultural, and the flooding has taken a heavy toll on the region's crops and fruit trees.

The ASTER image is located at 27.8 degrees north latitude, 68.9 degrees east longitude, and covers an area of 62.4 by 77.6 kilometers (38.7 by 48.3 miles).

With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet.

ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched Dec. 18, 1999, on NASA's Terra spacecraft. The instrument was built by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and the data products.

The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change.

Example applications are: monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance.

The U.S. science team is located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.

More information about ASTER is available at

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Changing Password does not Secure Hacked E-mail Account

People are baffled when their Gmail account is re-compromised and often have no idea how it keeps happening. So I’ve laid out some of the more obvious items that need to be checked to ensure that your Gmail/Google account is locked down.

Mind your filtersThe best method for an attacker to get back into your account is to keep reading your emails even after you’ve changed your password. So the basics of any Gmail backdoor will be to setup some email forwarding rules that send him or her a copy of your messages as they arrive - including password reset messages. Make sure you disable these following any compromise.

Under Settings> Forwarding and POP/IMAP ensure that disable forwarding is selected and that your incoming email is not being forwarded to the attacker. Next, check your filters list in Gmail and make sure there are not any rules setup that forward email to the attacker.

Check the Password Recovery settingsThe next best method of a backdoor is for the attacker to have the ability to recover or reset your password. This is not the sneakiest of routes but it accomplishes the job well. Ensure an additional recovery email address was not added to your account.This will allow an attacker to get the password reset link straight to his email.

Go to settings> Accounts and Import > Google account settings> Change password recovery options> Email.

Make sure the SMS number has not been changed in Google account settings. Also, make sure your security question has not been changed to a question known by the attacker. Sneaky attackers will leave your question the same but change the answer to one they know. Go ahead and change your question and answer.

Watch out for rogue applications
Gmail isn't just an email program, its part of an entire Web based application ecosystem. Check your authorized applications to see if the attacker added their own malicious application to be allowed on your account.

Everyone today adds social applications and gives permission to their Facebook/Google accounts through third party applications. Most people don't even look at what permissions the third party applications have.

In Gmail applications can pretty much do everything an attacker would want to do. Even better, from the attacker's stand point, is that no one even knows where how to revoke or check permissions on these applications once they've been approved, they're forgotten.

There are open source applications will grant full IMAP/SMTP access using OAUTH. Once the Gmail account is hijacked, an attacker can run this script and grant access to the application for full privileges.

Even if you change your password multiple times, a rogue application can continue reading your email and accessing your personal data.

Think beyond e-mail
Not only back doors allowing full access to read email should be considered. Attackers have several options to obtain your data in the world of open social collaboration that is easier then ever.

If you have Google voice, go into voice settings and make sure voicemail and text messages are not being sent to additional email addresses.

If you have important Google documents in Google Docs, ensure the attacker has not enabled sharing. Google calendar is a very nice backdoor. I'm sure you don't want someone unexpectedly dropping in and listening on your next board meeting. If so, there are a couple areas you need to check.

In the Calendar Settings, click on your calendars to display the detailed view and make sure you click "reset private URLs" in the private address section. This will change the private address that can be used to retrieve your calendar feed.

As an attacker I can easily just copy this URL and monitor your calendar. Next, click 'Share this calendar' tab and make sure that no email addresses are added that you don't recognise.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Employees not sociable at work; Gen Y needs to change this

Employees not sociable at work; Gen Y needs to change

A new study by Plantronics focusing on the communication habits in the workplace show that social networking, either on Facebook or Twitter or on business networking sites like LinkedIn, are the least constructive activities for business productivity.

Email unsurprisingly has shot through through the roof in the last five years, increasing by over 70% according to the poll, which surveyed 1,800 knowledge workers in medium-sized and large businesses. Even though video and audio conferencing is on the rise, email remains at the top spot with mobile devices being able to take our written conversations anywhere we go.

However half of the 90% of those surveyed in the enterprise environment stated that they spend nearly a quarter of their working hours off site, making the need for mobile devices connected up to their corporate communications networks all the more important. But with over-the-air bandwidth being sluggish at the best of times mobile email access is the only viable option.

Texting is limiting, social media is public and too ‘personal’ and instant messaging though can be useful, is often not incorporated into the enterprise world.

The way we communicate entirely depends on the profession that we enter into. Those working in policing and intelligence will most likely prefer text-based communications as it enables quick, effective referencing to on-demand data.

Journalists will usually prefer phone conversations or face-to-face over any text based communications because it enables vocal inflections to be detected; stutters, stammers and physiological impairments, because frankly we like to catch people out. Press and public relations, publicists and corporate spokespeople will of course in light of the aforementioned prefer email and text-based communications.

The study goes on to further purport the theory that though there are more ways to communicate than before, most prefer the traditional methods even though they often cause confusion. Email works only so well on the basis that the two or more people in contact are on a level playing field emotionally, professionally and in terms of level of knowledge, language and skill being used.

Using buzzwords and acronyms out of context or in an illegible way requires the recipient to spend more time emailing back and asking for clarification, which causes an imbalance in the working relationship; the person losing self-confidence while the other gains higher ground by exerting even more unnecessary communication to make up for their previous misgiving. A phone conversation will lessen this a great deal.