Thursday, October 20, 2016

The hits keep coming!  It never rains but it pours.  Murphy was an optimist.
Caleb Pershan reports:
California Attorney General Kamala Harris is leading an investigation into whether criminal identity theft took place at Wells Fargo, a bank embroiled in a scandal that may involve up to two million bank and credit card accounts allegedly created without customers’ approval as part of an unscrupulous, sales-driven corporate culture.
The LA Times has learned through a public records request of a warrant served on October 5th to search Wells Fargo’s San Francisco headquarters.
Read more on SFist.

There are many ways that governments can interfere with businesses.  Consider the impact of a government that suggests Microsoft was helping them spy on Brazil, for example. 
Microsoft allows Brazil to inspect its source code for ‘back doors’
Microsoft, still stung by accusations that it installed “back doors” for the U.S. government to access customers’ communications, opened a center in Brazil on Wednesday where officials will be able to inspect its programming code, in an attempt to allay suspicions in the region that its software programs are vulnerable to spying.
Behind reinforced walls and with strict security settings, the world’s biggest software company showed off its fourth ‘Transparency Center’ in Brasilia, where experts from Latin American and Caribbean governments will be able to view the source code of its products.
   At the new site, visited on Wednesday by officials including the speaker of Brazil’s Congress, no electronics will be allowed into the secure viewing room. [Because no one understands the intricacies of operating systems like a politician!  Bob]
Microsoft prevents anyone from copying the massive amount of coding on display – as much as 50 million lines for its email and server products.  Viewers inspect copies of source code on computers connected only to local servers and cut off from the internet.  The copies are later deleted. [This is refered to as “hiding the evidence.” Bob]
Viewers can use software tools to examine the code, Microsoft said, but it was not immediately clear whether experts would be able to run deep code analysis necessary to uncover back doors or other bugs. [So how will they prove to themselves that there are no back doors?  Bob]
   The Brasilia facility is Microsoft’s fourth transparency center after the NSA scandal.  It set up the first one at its Redmond, Washington headquarters in the United States in 2014, one in Brussels last year and one in Singapore earlier this month.  It will soon open another in Beijing.

Flailing about?  My students agreed they would walk away from the deal for Verizon to buy Yahoo.  The problem is, if Verizon wants to compete with Google and Facebook, they need a company like Yahoo.  Who else is there?
Yahoo demands ‘transparency’ from National Intelligence director over security order
Yahoo revealed on Wednesday that it has submitted a letter to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper demanding transparency involving national security orders issued to tech companies around obtaining user data.  The move is intended to provide citizens insight about what the U.S. government is looking for.
The company acknowledged that while its communication makes “specific reference to recent allegations” levied against it, “it is intended to set a stronger precedent of transparency for our users and all citizens who could be affected by government requests for user data.”  Yahoo once again denied reports that stated it secretly scanned customer emails on behalf of the intelligence community: “The mail scanning described in the article does not exist in our systems.” [Not one of those broad denials… Bob]

Do they know something we don’t know?  Does this have anything to do with Russian hackers? 
Regulators to Toughen Cybersecurity Standards at Nation’s Biggest Banks
U.S. regulators on Wednesday unveiled an initial plan to bolster the ability of the country’s largest banks to withstand a major cyberattack, a move aimed at protecting the U.S. financial system in the event of a technology failure.
The plan, released jointly by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, would strengthen the way agencies oversee how large U.S. banks and foreign banks operating in the U.S. with $50 billion or more in assets manage and address threats to cybersecurity.
   The draft plan would impose the toughest restrictions on firms considered to pose the greatest risk to the financial system.  Those firms would have to prove they can get their core operations running within two hours of a cyberattack or major IT failure.  The new rules also would apply to nonbank financial companies deemed systemically risky by a panel of regulators headed by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

This is one of those subject that I honestly have not begun to think about.
Orin Kerr writes:
I’ve blogged twice before about whether it is a Fourth Amendment search for the government to scan the magnetic stripe of a seized credit card.  In my view, the answer is yes.  But the cases so far are coming out the other way: The Sixth Circuit held that the answer is no, as did a divided Eighth Circuit panel.
The Fifth Circuit has now ruled on the question.  In an opinion by Judge Gregg Costa involving gift cards, United States v. Turner, the court agreed with the Sixth Circuit and the Eighth Circuit that scanning the magnetic stripe is not a search.
I’m a fan of Judge Costa’s work, but I think this decision is wrong.  I thought I would expand on my prior posts and say more on why it’s wrong — and why I think it matters.
Read more on The Volokh Conspiracy.

Perspective.  I never would have bet that this could happen.  Why can’t taxis adapt?
Uber and Lyft Are Now Bigger than Taxis and Rental Cars Combined
For the first time in the third quarter of 2016, more business travelers are choosing ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft than traditional taxis and rental cars combined, according to statistics from the expense report software company Certify.
Of the over 10 million ground transportation receipts Certify processed during the three months that ended in September, 52% of them were for the two ride-hailing services, VentureBeat reports.  Uber was the overwhelming victor, with 48% compared to Lyft’s 4%. The numbers cover North America.
   The numbers showing ride-hailing becoming the dominant business transportation option come just a day after Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick said at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco that the ride-hailing giant had reached than 40 million monthly active riders worldwide.  He added that he company paid out between $1.5 billion and $2 billion to drivers in the last month, after taking its cut, and that an average Uber rider spends $50 monthly on the service.

For my Architecture students.  This may be the world you will work in.
Gartner’s 10 strategic predictions for 2017….and beyond
The overarching theme, Plummer said, is digital disruption, which is not only happening, but is increasing in scale over time.  Here are the 10 predictions:
1.      By 2020, 100 million consumers will shop in virtual reality.
2.      By 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen.
3.      By 2019, 20% of brands will abandon their mobile apps.
4.      By 2020, algorithms will alter behavior of billions of global workers in a positive way.
5.      By 2022, a blockchain-based business will be worth $10 billion.
6.      By 2021, 20% of activities will involve at least one of the seven digital giants.
7.      Through 2019, every $1 that enterprises invest in innovation will require an additional $7 in core execution.
8.      Through 2020, the Internet of Things will increase data center storage demand by less than 3%.
9.      By 2022, IoT will save consumers and businesses $1 trillion a year.
10.  By 2020, 40% of employees can cut healthcare costs by wearing a fitness tracker.

Blockchain keep popping up.  I keep finding new perspectives on how it will be used.
How the Blockchain Could Change Corporate Structure
UP UNTIL NOW, a centralized company has been the best way to create a network that solves a large need: Uber connected riders with drivers, banks connected savers with borrowers, and Twitter connected content writers with content consumers.  But thanks to the invention of the blockchain, we will no longer need central companies to act as the middleman.  The business models of the future will be software protocols developed, governed and owned by the communities they support.
   Every centralized company based on a network has to overcome the chicken-and-egg problem regarding customer acquisition: No riders want to start using an Uber network with just one driver, and no one wants to drive for an Uber network with no riders.  The successful companies often have bizarre tales of how they overcame this problem.  Uber individually coordinated private black-car drivers, Facebook ripped Harvard’s student pages, and Twitter convinced a few celebrities to start blasting content.  But many more would-be useful networks failed before they ever got started.
The decentralized blockchain model circumvents this problem by incentivizing early adopters, who are rewarded if the network grows, not just the central company that owns it.  Imagine if the first Uber drivers and riders had gotten a stake in the network.  This model will be applied to other services, such as a Dropbox disrupter where you can pay to store your files or get paid to contribute your hard-disk space, or decentralized global marketplaces where payments are escrowed on a blockchain.

I’ve been wondering what I should do with all those violins I’ve been collecting.

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