Monday, October 20, 2014

Steal my phone, steal my phortune? Convergence. Apple just added “credit card processing” to its resume.
Apple Pay Rolls Out, With Holes in System
Starting Monday, Apple Inc. will begin its bold undertaking to add a wallet to its iPhones.
The iPhone already has pushed aside many once-independent devices, including music players, cameras and GPS navigation systems.
… Many retailers—including the nation’s largest, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. —aren’t part of Apple’s network. Only a minority have machines capable of reading the near-field communication radio signal that makes Apple Pay work. And only Apple’s newest phones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, include the technology.
Apple has signed up the six biggest card issuers, accounting for roughly 83% of credit-card transactions, with 500 financial institutions coming by early next year. It also has the three major credit-card networks: Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc. and American Express Co.
… Still, corporate credit cards or prepaid cards aren’t accepted yet. Neither are retailers’ proprietary credit cards, so shoppers can’t use their Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s cards. That means customers might miss out on discounts tied to the store cards, while merchants relinquish revenue they receive from issuing banks.
Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski said he expects the Macy’s branded card to be added eventually. He said roughly half of Macy’s sales come from its proprietary card, which is also linked to its loyalty program.
… An important selling point for Apple Pay will be security, after high-profile data breaches at retailers including Target and Home Depot. Apple Pay encrypts each transaction with a distinctive code that can only be used once, a security feature that protects consumers’ personal information from being stolen as it is transmitted through a retailer’s network, or from the retailer’s central database.
Banks pay Apple a small percentage from each transaction, but there are no additional costs to users and merchants for using Apple Pay.

(Related) Apple already knew customers were using their phones for more that making calls.
Digital Nation Report Shows Rapid Adoption of Mobile Internet Use
“A report released by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) found that Americans are rapidly embracing mobile Internet devices such as smart phones and tablet computers for a wide range of activities beyond just voice communications, such as checking email and using social networks. NTIA’s Exploring the Digital Nation: Embracing the Mobile Internet, which is based on a U.S. Census Bureau survey in October 2012 of more than 53,000 households, found that Americans were increasingly using their mobile devices to engage in applications that they might have previously done on a desktop or laptop computer or not at all. Between July 2011 and October 2012, the report found big increases in mobile phone users 25 and older who used their devices to download mobile applications (22 percent to 32 percent), browse the Web (33 percent to 42 percent), check their email (33 percent to 43 percent), and use social networks (22 percent to 30 percent).”

(Related) This is for my Computer Security students. Is the risk being accepted at the proper level of the organization? (Does the CEO or CFO know what the CIO is exposing them to?)
Security in the New Mobile Ecosystem – Report
“Ponemon Institute and Raytheon are pleased to present the findings of Security in the New Mobile Ecosystem (reg. req’d). The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of mobile devices, mobile apps and the mobile workforce (a.k.a. mobile ecosystem) on the overall security posture of organizations in the United States. Security is sacrificed for productivity. The majority of respondents (52 percent) say security practices on mobile devices have been sacrificed in order to improve employee productivity. For a complete copy of the study, please visit the Raytheon website.”

“We're the DEA! We don't need no stinking rules!” A sting is a sting – even online?
Facebook Goes To War With The DEA
Facebook has officially censured the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) over claims the latter created and operated a fake profile on the social network. Facebook sent a letter to the DEA making its position on this clear, calling it a “knowing and serious breach of Facebook’s terms and policies.
It was recently revealed that a DEA agent pretended to be a woman named Sondra Arquiett in order to communicate with people suspected of criminal activity. Creating a fake Facebook account is against the company’s terms and conditions, and in the letter Facebook insists it has “long made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies.” That’s fighting talk.

A downside of Data Mining? What happens if your insurance company also has this “Big Bad Data?” [Perhaps I should Copyright that phrase!] This makes me think that detecting errors and forcing corrections could become a rather large issue.
Like most people, I get a lot of emails from firms I’ve ordered from online. And I nearly just deleted one email I received this week from a vitamin and supplements store that recommended I might want to re-order three items that I had supposedly previously ordered from them. But then I took a closer look at the email, which was addressed to the tagged email address I used with them, and thought about the fact that they were recommending I reorder three items I had never ordered from them or ever purchased from one of their brick-and-mortar locations.
A simple error in their records? Maybe. But do I want a store’s records reflecting that I bought supplements to treat health problems I don’t have?
So I emailed Customer Care and told them that their records of my purchasing history were incorrect. And because of data mining, I told them, I wanted them to delete those records from my history.
What followed was some interesting correspondence that included them asking me whether I wanted a password reset (which is fine, but irrelevant if the error was made by a clerk in a brick-and-mortar location).
So now I’m waiting to see if they’ll delete the incorrect records, as I requested, or – as I let them know I would do – I delete my account with them altogether (which would not be to their advantage and wouldn’t get incorrect records disassociated from my name).
This incident made me realize how often I might not think to seriously look at what I’m being sent, even though it might alert me that a store’s records might include purchases I didn’t make, and how those records might come back to bite me if the purchases suggest health problems or other issues I don’t have.
I know this might seem like a very small deal and not even worth blogging about, but because I do not know with what other firms or data brokers those records might be shared, yeah, I responded to this instead of just letting it all go.

Both articles are worth reading. Perhaps we could use Skype at the Privacy Foundation.
Evan Selinger writes:
In a previous post, I mentioned that exciting speakers are making guest appearances in my current “Technology, Privacy, and the Law” course. Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, just dropped by via Skype. The conversation was so interesting that I wanted to share some of the highlights with you here.
Read more on Forbes.

“The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley” Robert Burns I doubt this will hold up when consumers shift into “power shopper” mode the week before Christmas.
Past data breaches could hurt hacked retailers at the holidays
  • Data breaches are discouraging consumers from returning to retailers that have been hacked, according to a survey conducted this month by 45% of consumers with credit or debit cards say they’ll “definitely” or “probably” refrain from holiday shopping at a retailer previously hit by a data breach, the survey found.
  • 29% said they “probably” wouldn't shop at a compromised retailer, while 16% said they definitely wouldn’t. Some 48% say they’ll be using cash instead of cards to shop this season.

“Search Neutrality?” Search become less objective (if you can pay)
Google changes 'to fight piracy' by highlighting legal sites
… The new measures, mostly welcomed by music trade group the BPI, will instead point users towards legal alternatives such as Spotify and Google Play.
Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page.
Crucially, however, these will be adverts - meaning if legal sites want to appear there, they will need to pay Google for the placement.
The BPI said that while it was "broadly" pleased with Google's changes, it did not think sites should have to pay.
  • The BPI made 43.3 million requests for Google to remove search results in 2013 (the US equivalent group, the RIAA, made 31.6 million)
  • Google removed 222 million results from search because of copyright infringement
  • Google's Content ID system, which detects copyrighted material, scans 400 years-worth of video every day
  • 300 million videos have been "claimed" by rights holders, meaning they can place advertising on them
… Google has also added extra measures to doctor its search results so that links pointing to illegal content fall lower in results, with legal sites floating to the top.

“You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run ” Kenny Rogers Another indication that businesses (if not governments) know when to cut their losses.
Globalfoundries to Take Over IBM Chip Unit
Globalfoundries Inc. has agreed to takeover the semiconductor operations of International Business Machines Corp., which is effectively acknowledging the rising cost of chip making is too burdensome.
The two companies did not state the financial details of the transaction, but IBM will pay Globalfoundries $1.5 billion to take the chip operations off its hands, according to a person familiar with the situation.
IBM initially hoped to sell the operations for more than $2 billion, the people said, but bidders were coming in closer to $1 billion. Talks with Globalfoundries at times were marked by disagreements over financial terms, one person familiar with the talks said.
Though IBM has been a pioneer in advancing semiconductor technology, the company’s manufacturing capability fell behind others that produced chips in large volume. IBM for years produced chips used in videogame consoles but lost that business for the latest generations of hardware from Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.
Globalfoundries, which manufactures chips to order for other companies, emerged as the most likely candidate in part because of geography. Most of the relevant IBM operations are in New York state.
Globalfoundries, which is owned by entities associated with the government of Abu Dhabi, has built a large factory near Albany.

For my students taking Accounting and those with an entrepreneurial urge: You rally need to understand this!
At Amazon, It’s All About Cash Flow
… That operating cash flow is much higher than net income at a company that has been investing huge amounts of money as it strives for global retail domination isn’t a big surprise, although the sheer size of the difference, and the sharp upward trajectory of the cash flow line, is still staggering.
Free cash flow does count all of Amazon’s investments — although it counts them when the money is spent instead of depreciating and amortizing them over subsequent years. That it has remained consistently higher (usually more than $1 billion higher) than net income is a remarkable and very important thing. And the difference between free cash flow and net income is all about timing.
Net income is a noble if flawed attempt to match expenses and revenue in time.
… With free cash flow, on the other hand, what counts is when the money actually changes hands. So if you have a business where your customers pay you quickly, you manage your inventory well, and you’re able to take your time in paying your suppliers, your free cash flow can be consistently positive even when your net income is not. Which is exactly the kind of business that Jeff Bezos and his colleagues have constructed at Amazon over the past decade.
… In Amazon’s case, all this cash is being used to finance the company’s continued explosive growth. The company doesn’t need to borrow, it doesn’t need to issue stock. It can just keep spending its own cash to attack new sectors and upgrade its offerings.

For my geeks. (I can't imagine why normal people would want this.)
– since there are no more security updates from Windows, Windows XP is now under threat of harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. To allow users to keep running applications and accessing data on XP, FarStone has developed VirtualXP to convert an XP system to a Microsoft virtual disk.

This is one my website students will use. (I send them out to find website designs and features they would like to incorporate in their sites.)
– is a free online tool allows you to easily detect what WordPress theme a site uses (including parent and child themes). Additionally, it will also detect what WordPress plugins are being used.

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