As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.
Anthem Hackers Tried To Breach System As Early As December
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The hackers who stole millions of health insurance records from Anthem Inc. commandeered the credentials of five different employees while seeking to penetrate the company’s computer network — and they may have been inside the system since December.
Anthem said this week that hackers stole names, Social Security numbers and other sensitive information for up to 80 million Anthem customers, in a breach that was first detected on Jan. 27. That’s when an Anthem computer system administrator discovered outsiders were using his own security credentials to log into the company system and steal data. Investigators now believe the hackers somehow compromised the credentials of five different tech workers, possibly through some kind of “phishing” scheme that could have tricked a worker into unknowingly revealing a password or downloading malicious software.
The company also confirmed Friday that it found that unauthorized data queries with similar hallmarks started as early as Dec. 10 and continued sporadically until Jan. 27. Attempts may also have been made earlier in 2014, said Kristin Binns, a spokeswoman for Indianapolis-based Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer.
Those earlier attempts, including the one on Dec. 10, were deflected by the company’s network security defenses, Binns said. Like most companies, Anthem routinely deflects a variety of attempts to make unauthorized access to its systems, she added.
The hackers succeeded in penetrating the system and stealing customer data sometime after Dec. 10 and before Jan. 27, Binns said. She declined to be more specific, saying the matter is still under investigation. Binns was confirming details of an Anthem corporate email that was first made public by an industry blog, CSO Online.
Experts say it’s not unusual for sophisticated hacking groups to make repeated attempts to penetrate a computer system before they succeed.
“They may try to compromise them every single day, until the company makes a mistake or one individual makes a mistake,” said Jaime Blasco, lab director at AlienVault, a Silicon Valley cyber-security firm that has investigated other hacking attempts but is not involved in the Anthem case.
Anthem’s security consultants have said the breach resulted from a “sophisticated” attack by hackers using techniques usually associated with organized financial crime rings or groups working for the government of some country. Blasco said that appears likely.
“This is not some amateur that’s trying to hack into their system. We are talking about professionals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Anthem warned Friday that other scammers are targeting current and former customers with “phishing” emails that seek to capitalize on concern over the massive data breach. The emails invite customers to enroll in free credit monitoring by clicking on a link, which the company said is a trick aimed at stealing customers’ personal information.
“There is no indication that the scam email campaigns are being conducted by those that committed the cyberattack, or that the information accessed in the attack is being used by the scammers,” the company said in a statement.
Most Millennials Consider Online Flirting To Be Cheating, According To New Survey
Think those winky face emojis or flirty comments you leave on photos are purely innocent? If you’re in a relationship, it may land you some hot water. According to a new survey, most millennials consider online flirting a form of cheating.
Fusion recently asked 1,000 18- to 34-year-olds about whether “online flirtations or relationships” amounted to cheating, and 82 percent said yes. Broken down by sex, 77 percent of men and 88 percent of women called it a form of infidelity. (Note that the site did not define what behaviors constitute online flirtations or relationships).
The website also quizzed the millennials on how they feel about breaking up via text. Seventy-nine percent said calling it quits over text is never OK, but 14 percent admitted they had done it.
Why would that 14 percent opt to break up through text rather than in person? In a 2013 interview with the Washington Post, linguistics professor Naomi Baron said text breakups have everything to do with our fear of a messy confrontation.
“You don’t have to have a big knock-down-drag-out fight, but you also don’t get that experience of having to interact in uncomfortable situations — face-to-face live situations,” Baron said.
For more interesting findings from Fusion’s survey of millennials, head here.
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Weekend Roundup: ISIS Savagery Taunts the World
The savagery of the Islamic State taunted the world once again this week, striking out at both geopolitically toothless Japan and the tribal kingdom of Jordan. Islamic State fighters beheaded the journalist Kenji Goto and revealed that, in an act of unfathomable cruelty, they had burned alive a captured Jordanian pilot.
Last week Japan’s former defense chief Yuriko Koike wrote from Tokyo that Japan’s constitutional restrictions on using force have prevented it from taking action against ISIS, and argues that that must change. Writing from Beirut, Jordanian analyst Rami Khouri has political misgivings about official support across the Arab world for the anti-ISIS coalition when the public is not consulted. From Amman, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports both on the massive protests against ISIS and on the undercurrent of opposition in Jordan that believes the fight against ISIS “is not our war.”
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter argues that the real aim of the shocking immolation of the Jordanian pilot was to split angry youth in Jordan from their pro-U.S. king. Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab warns that an angry military response is not enough to defeat ISIS.
Writing from Athens, Takis Michas examines the pro-Russian sentiments of the new Greek government and wonders if it will become a “mouthpiece” for Putin in the West. Alexander Motyl takes on the claims of Russia and some in the new Greek government that neo-fascist forces play an influential role in Ukraine.
Writing from Berlin, former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer speculates that the Greek revolt will inevitably force Germany to reconsider its austerity policy for Europe. Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz argues that if there is a moral hazard in the Greek situation, it is on the part of private sector lenders “who have been bailed out repeatedly.” Writing from Paris Jacques Attali, founding president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, offers a new paradigm to cope with sluggish global growth: “We must think of the world as a single economy; as a country.” Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Bob Reich calls out the “sharing economy,” saying it is more of a “share-the-scraps economy” of precarious, low-wage part-time jobs.
In an emotional personal testament, Gursimran Sandhu describes how her mother was shunned like a leper in her Indian community for obtaining a divorce. Singularity University researcher Vivek Wadhwa slams the U.S. deal to provide nuclear reactors to India since renewable energy technologies will be far less costly by the time the new reactors are installed.
Surveying rampant violence across Latin America, Sergio Muñoz Bata traces its roots to lack of trust in government institutions due to the weak rule of law. Writing from Havana, dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez finds that the hopes raised by easing relations with the U.S. are proving hard to meet.
In a WorldPost Essay, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd takes us on a tour of the history of Chinese philosophy and strategic thought and argues for the establishment of “a common narrative” shared by the West and China to avoid a drift into distrust. Writing from Seoul, former Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan expresses his concern that the waning American presence in his region is bolstering China’s strategy of “Asia for Asians.”
Writing from Shanghai, Shen Dingli ponders the debate within the West over free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Chinese law expert Donald Clarke reports on the courageous riposte of Peking University professor Shen Kui who, in response to a new Beijing directive against teaching “Western values,” makes the obvious point that Marxism is a Western import. Looking at the impact of the Internet in China, Han-Teng Liao argues that it has empowered citizens to monitor the corruption of local officials, but at the same time inspires trust in the central authorities in Beijing.
As Nigeria heads to the polls, “Forgotten Fact” this week explains why millions of potential voters in Africa’s most populous country have been disenfranchised.
Philosopher and Google advisor Luciano Floridi ponders the complex balance that must be achieved between privacy and free speech when deciding who has “the right to be forgotten” on Google’s search engines. In an interview, Silicon Valley “anti-Christ” Andrew Keen makes his controversial case that “surveillance is the dominant business model on the Internet.” This week, our Singularity University series looks at how drones are being used to plant trees in remote and difficult terrain. In a short video, Fusion this week focuses on how lungs and arteries are being grown in laboratories.
Finally, drawing on recent biographies, Catherine Corman lays out the compelling parallels between Pope Francis and his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.
WHO WE ARE
EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are Associate World Editors.
CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.
EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.
The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.
Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.
ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.
From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.
The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.
We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.
Scientists Swabbed New York City's Subways, And You Won't Believe What They Found
Mozzarella. Bubonic plague. Kimchi. Staph. What could these things possibly have in common?
They’re all among the strange set of substances DNA-hunting scientists identified in New York City’s subway cars and stations as part of a comprehensive new study.
The researchers behind the so-called “PathoMap” project found DNA from more than 500 species of bacteria, including some from foods as well as 67 known to cause illness.
If that sounds scary, relax. The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs the city’s subways, told The Huffington Post that there was no threat to human health–and the study’s lead author agreed.
(Story continues below.)
Researchers identified 562 species of bacteria in NYC’s 466 subway stations: http://t.co/1JgNcCmlER pic.twitter.com/2c6ZlH63Rj
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 6, 2015
“Despite finding traces of pathogenic microbes, their presence isn’t substantial enough to pose a threat to human health,” Dr. Christopher Mason, assistant professor of computational genomics at Weill Cornell Medical College, said in a written statement. “The presence of these microbes and the lack of reported medical cases is truly a testament to our body’s immune system, and our innate ability to continuously adapt to our environment.”
The research is part of a growing effort by scientists to understand the interactions between the human body and our “microbiome,” the myriad bacteria that call our bodies home. But Mason said the idea to conduct the study arose as much from his experiences as a parent in the Big Apple as from his scientific curiosity.
“The first time I dropped off my daughter at daycare, it made me wonder about the daily transmission of microbes we all share, and in her case, it was with her mouth,” Mason told Huffpost Science in an email. “But I ride the subway almost every day with my daughter, and I kept thinking about how it would also impact the lives of 5.5M New Yorkers!”
Mason and his collaborators — including dozens of students and volunteers — spent a year and a half swabbing turnstiles, benches, railings, ticket kiosks and trashcans in 466 subway stations, along with poles, seats, and doors in numerous subway cars.
All told, the researchers collected 4,200 samples. A mobile app was used to time-stamp each sample and tag its precise location with GPS. Researchers then analyzed 1,457 of those samples and identified more than 10 billion distinct fragments of DNA, Reuters reported.
In addition to finding bacterial DNA, the team found genetic material belonging to beetles, flies, mice, fish, humans, and plants. You can check out an interactive map of the findings here.
Surprisingly, nearly half of the DNA the scientists found didn’t match any known organism. That makes sense, given that scientists have only sequenced the genomes of a fraction of the world’s species, according to the researchers.
Mason said the new microbe map will serve as a baseline measure, and might prove helpful in tracking outbreak of disease in New York — like this past year’s Ebola outbreak — and averting bioterrorist threats.
He also hopes the study will have people looking at subway poles in a whole new way.
“I want them to think of it the same way you’d look at a rain forest, and be almost in awe and wonder, effectively, that there are all these species present–and that you’ve been healthy all along,” Mason told The New York Times.
But not everyone thinks the research is so wonderful.
“This report is deeply flawed, and the interpretation of the results is misleading,” a spokesman for the New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told HuffPost in an email. “The researchers failed to offer alternative, much more plausible explanations for their findings, which is a common best practice for scientific papers.”
The research was published on Feb. 5 in the journal Cell Systems.
To learn more about the human microbiome, check out the podcast below.
Even Science Says Women Should Be Tweeting About Sexism
“Shorter #OscarNoms: White men FTW,” I tweeted the morning the Oscar nominations were announced. I watched my phone buzz as women (and men) retweeted and responded to my tweet with solidarity — and of course, the requisite bit of hate from trolls. Overall, it felt like a very small victory to join a conversation about the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry and to have my voice heard and affirmed by others.
According to a new study published in the British Journal Of Social Psychology, tweets like mine — that is, ones that address issues of inequality on a very public Internet stage — may actually be good for the well-being of the women doing the tweeting.
Dr. Mindi Foster of Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada led the research, which looked at the ways female undergraduate students felt after tweeting about issues of sexism. According to ScienceDaily, Dr. Foster split the 93 students surveyed into three groups: one that tweeted publicly for three days, one that tweeted privately and one that did not tweet at all. All participants were given information each day about current sexism in politics and the media, and took surveys meant to assess their mood and overall well-being.
The study’s results suggested that tweeting publicly about these sort of issues could improve the way women feel, specifically making them see themselves as a part of a collective action. As Mic’s Liz Plank summed it up on “Krystal Clear,”: “Tweeting doesn’t just give you an outlet to express yourself, it also makes women feel less helpless in the face of inequality.”
Social media platforms like Twitter have become a hotbed of feminist activity over the last five years. Given the democratic nature of Twitter — anyone can join and gain followers — it has given voices to those who mainstream media might have traditionally ignored. That’s why feminist, racial and LGBTQ activism has found its way to the platform.
In turn, the conversations that happen on Twitter, whether they are about why victims of abuse stay with their abusers (#WhyIStayed), the perfect sexual assault victim myth (#TheresNoPerfectVictim), police brutality against people of color (#BlackLivesMatter), or the casual sexism women experience every day (#QuestionsForMen) become mainstream news on publications like BuzzFeed, The Guardian, New York Times and, yes, The Huffington Post.
But even as a platform that seems tailor-made for these sort of dialogues, Twitter has its issues. Women are consistently subjected to harassment and abuse, especially when expressing their thoughts about issues of gender equality. “I’m a writer and a woman and a feminist, and I write about big, fat, bitchy things that make people uncomfortable. And because I choose to do that as a career, I’m told, a constant barrage of abuse is just part of my job,” wrote Lindy West for The Guardian. (See Mic’s video of feminists reading mean tweets to get a small taste of the sort of messages vocal women receive on a daily basis.)
But even an exhausting and constant deluge of horrible comments has done little to silence the women (and men) who give a sh*t about calling out injustice. And it seems that Twitter’s higher ups are finally starting to listen. On Feb. 4, Twitter CEO Dick Costelo sent an internal memo to his employees taking personal responsibility for the platform’s failure to protect its users from trolling. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” he wrote, promising to take steps to truly tackle the issue. If and when platforms like Twitter become safer spaces, their power to promote positive change will become even greater.
If tweeting about the inequality that exists in the world makes us feel a part of something greater than ourselves, and creates a space where our voices can be heard and amplified, then that in and of itself is extremely powerful. The feminists of the 1960s and ’70s had consciousness-raising groups, and young feminists of the ’90s had zines and the Riot Grrrl movement. We have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr.
Obviously activism can’t live and die online, but it can be born and nurtured there. #Preach #Listen #Act
9 Funny Someecards To End Your Week On A High Note
Week one of February — check!
We did it, people. We made it through some wildly depressing Super Bowl commercials, listened to even more anti-vaxxer stupidity, and found out that Brian Williams is a big, fat liar. IS NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE?!
No one wants to go into the weekend shrouded in sadness, so we rounded up the funniest Someecards from the past week. Take a look below and cross your fingers that week two goes a little bit better.
You'd Be Surprised At How Much Sleep Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Gets Each Night
I am sure you all have heard the English proverb, “sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never harm you”. But I wonder if that is still true in our modern cyber connected world, with its social networks and anonymous trolls? I mean you don’t even have to be famous or a public figure to have some stranger hating on you, just because they can safely do it from behind closed doors, hidden, using fake names and false social media profiles. It truly is a new phenomenon that is on the rise everywhere.
A significant milestone in cyber terrorism was reached when Sony Pictures recently cancelled the theatrical release of their political satire comedy, The Interview, due to threats by North Korea, who warned there would be 911 style attacks on theaters if anyone dared to go see this movie. Hackers leaked private messages between top executives at Sony about the stars in their upcoming films, which were thoughtless and unkind, causing many uncomfortable and awkward moments in Hollywood.
Just look at the way Jennifer Lawrence’s private photos were shared recently by hackers who managed to extract it from her iCloud account. Privacy is a thing of the past. We live in a culture that loves to know everything about our celebrities, especially the juicy gossip that old Hollywood worked so hard to keep away from the public. Stars used to be like butterflies; they were seen but never touched. The public was always kept in the dark except what the media chose to release about the stars they admired. Nowadays we know way too much about our public figures, and no one is off the list, not even the President of United States.
All of this is a sign of a new era, an era of cyber crime where anyone can be a victim. The only tools needed are a computer or mobile device and an Internet connection. Their weapon of mass destruction is words. Their primary quest is to spread false and hateful messages, which are often exaggerated, clocking up hits on their websites as the result. We live in a “gotcha” world where we find it entertaining to see people in embarrassing situations. Cyber criminals expose their victims’ salacious endeavors online for the world to see, knowing full well the pandemonium they will cause. Stretching the boundaries of the freedom of speech granted to them, these haters, stalkers and hackers find a sadistic pleasure in hurting their quarry, causing major disruption in their lives. Legal action is not always effective, as many of these people do not have much to lose so legal recourse dose not deter them.
We as the public and users of the web need to protect our online privacy. This includes safeguarding our personal information both on the hard drives of our computers or mobile devices, as well as our social media or cloud accounts. In an age where privacy is fast becoming a luxury of the past. There are, however, effective methods in which we can protect our personal data and physical location. Information technology experts offer some useful tips on how best to protect our online privacy.
I’ve been the prey of cyber hackers, haters and stalkers, so I know firsthand how it feels to have strangers discuss my life. Every word I speak and every action I make is taken out of context as they try very hard to falsify reality. I’ve had people writing blogs about me which are filled with false accusations and outrageous claims. Even though there is no evidence to back up any of these allegations, in some way the damage is done. When a lie is told, 50% of the readers believe it, just because it is said online. The other 50% may have doubt about you from that point on, even though under US laws, you’re innocent until proven guilty. That is one of the main reasons why we see negative advertisement campaigns during a presidential candidate run. The opposition knows just by spreading lies about their opponent and creating doubt, the damage is done.
Recently, it seems the laws are finally changing and the powers-that-be have realized there is a new problem with Internet stalkers and cyber bullies. Tougher measures had to be taken, as in the revenge porn case, where a man was convicted for the first time under the revenge porn law in California. In this incident a man sought revenge on his ex-girlfriend by maliciously posting naked photos along with obscene messages about the woman on her employer’s Facebook page, encouraging them to fire her. A judge found him guilty and sentenced the man to one year in jail under the State of California’s revenge porn law.
Who are these keyboard cowards and why do they find pleasure in hurting others’ reputations? Is it all in the name of getting attention or is it fifteen minutes of fame they are seeking? I wonder what the psychological reasons are for anonymous trolls to spread their venomous messages so easily online? A person’s reputation or a company’s public image can be ruined by just a few bad reviews. We have all seen how a movie’s opening weekend at the box office can be affected by poor reviews from the initial screenings.
Cyber criminals find it entertaining to cause havoc and do so with no conscience at all. They are motivated by several factors, including: political, addiction, curiosity, boredom, fame, revenge, power or financial gain. After some research into the psychology of cyber malefactors, I found it is very similar to the physical forms of these actions. Criminal profilers have made the connection between cyber criminal activity and abnormal psychology, such as, compulsive disorder, narcissism, antisocial personality disorder or addictive behavior.
I found an interesting study about the psychological profiling of cyber stalkers, where 2 general categories are identified: the Psychopathic Personality Stalker and the Psychotic Personality Stalker. These two categories are then separated into four main classifications indicated in an article from the Criminal Library including simple obsessional, love obsessional, erotomanic and false victimization syndrome. Although the study focuses on stalkers, most cyber criminals fall into these categories as well.
An in-depth look at these four classes shows that each type of stalking is slightly different. Simple obsessional stalkers have engaged in a previous romantic relationship with the victim. This type of stalker seeks revenge or ultimately tries to resume the relationship with their ex through blackmail and fear. Love obsessional stalkers, (also known as obsessed fan syndrome), have had no previous relationship with the target. They fantasize about an invented love connection and desperately try to create a relationship with their person of interest. When their actions fail, they may try to intimidate their love interest to take notice of them. These stalkers often have mental disorders like schizophrenia, paranoia or bi-polar disorder and usually direct their attention at a celebrity or public figure. Similarly erotomaniacs are under the delusion that their target is in love with them. They begin with simple, subtle expressions of affection which will quickly intensify. When their gestures go ignored or the victim shows lack of interest, actions of anger, frustration and violence can follow. This is similar to love obsessional stalkers but lacks the link to psychiatric disorders. Lastly are people who display False Victimization Syndrome. Perpetrators blame another person, real or imaginary, for stalking them, to cultivate sympathy and support, seeking attention from anyone willing to listen.
The ancient peoples of the world knew words were sacred. They did not utter them without thinking what their words could mean or do. They knew sound is vibration, and vibration can affect matter both positively and negatively. Some of us learned that at school. I remember planting two seeds in a pot, just divided by a piece of cardboard, speaking sweet words of love and support to one side and screamed profanity and anger at the other side. Guess which side flourished and was healthier?
So words do hurt and in some cases they do cut straight to the bone. Words can kill; they can push a person over the edge of despair. In a time where technology is fast changing our world, we have been cast into a new arena. This new battlefield no longer sports gladiators sparring fiercely in mortal combat. Instead, our new enemies are anonymous keyboard cowards who effectively hide in the shadows of social networks, assassinating people’s character and reputation one word at a time.
- Cyber Hacker photo by Jay Tavare
- Graphic Text by Jay Tavare
Netflix Is Developing A Live-Action ‘Legend of Zelda' Series
“The Legend of Zelda,” one of the most popular videogame series of all time, is in the works as a television show at Netflix.
Why Pinterest Ads Are Going to Be Great
Pinterest has already proven successful in driving sales for online retailers, particularly for women. The mostly (80%) female social network has a really smooth flow to a point of sale, which makes it uniquely valuable to marketers. In the new year, Pinterest announced its intention to roll out their advertising platform to the public, and all indications would suggest it will be a great success.
Firstly, as I said, Pinterest boards already convert well to sales. Ads will therefore feel very similar to users. Although there will likely be a design element identifying promoted pins, the interaction with images linked to sites will be very similar. If you think about how starkly ads and posts on Facebook differ, this is a non-trivial difference.
Secondly, Pinterest is a platform where people post about their aspirations, including things they would like to buy. A comparison that I think is on point is: if you’ve bought a new piece of clothing, you Instagram it; if you see something online that you love, you Pin it. This information is incredibly valuable to marketers, making it possible to target an audience that has actively expressed an interest in purchasing their product. No other platform is this powerful: Facebook, for example, can at best offer an audience of people interested in your product, which does not necessarily mean they want to buy it.
Finally, among women Pinterest has reached a percentage of the US market that outshines all but Facebook, with 42% of online adult women using the platform. That is more than Twitter, Linkedin, or Instagram. The platform is growing faster than most, too, with an increase from 21% to 28% of online adults on it from 2013 to 2014 (only Instagram did slightly better).
Pinterest is a large and growing platform with exciting prospects for marketers. However, the high ROI of their ads is doomed to decay. To steal a piece of wisdom from Andrew Chen, “over time, all marketing strategies result in shitty clickthrough rates”, meaning that as a certain marketing channel is used more and more, its effectiveness decreases. Email marketing open rates, for example, decreased from 14% to 11.3% between 2007 and 2009.
Fortunately, there are ways to fight this law, and one such solution suggested by Andrew is to “discover the next untapped marketing channel”. That is where Pinterest comes in. Given all I have said above I believe Pinterest ads will consistently be more valuable than other social ads, but the best results will come to those first out of the gate.
Anthem Hack Exposes 80 Million Individuals: How to Protect Yourself
By Jocelyn Baird, NextAdvisor.com
Health insurance provider Anthem announced late Wednesday, Feb. 4 that it had experienced a massive security breach which exposed the information of up to 80 million of its current and former customers, as well as employees. A letter sent to customers by email and posted on the Anthem website from company president and CEO Joseph R. Swedish informed of a “very sophisticated external cyber attack” in which hackers gained access to the Anthem IT system. Although initially there were no known suspects or motive, new information within the investigation has pointed toward Chinese state-sponsored hackers as the perpetrators, according to Bloomberg Business. President Obama’s cybersecurity adviser Michael Daniel called the attack “quite concerning” during a Bloomberg Business seminar on Feb. 5.
What Anthem customer information was exposed?
The investigation by Anthem, the FBI and cybersecurity firm Mandiant has determined that information of customers — both current and former — as well as employees was exposed during this attack. The information compromised includes names, birth dates, medical ID numbers, social security numbers, home addresses, email addresses and employment information (including income). At this time, there is no reason for Anthem to believe credit card or medical information, such as claims or test results, were targeted or stolen. However, the sheer volume of information that was accessed is incredible.
According to the company’s website, this Anthem hack extends across all of its businesses — including Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Caremore, Unicare, Healthlink and DeCare.
What is the response to this Anthem hack?
According to the letter from Swedish, as soon as the attack was discovered, the company began working internally to close the breach and contacted the FBI to investigate what happened and how. Anthem has also retained Mandiant, a private cybersecurity firm, to help assess and improve its current systems. Customers were notified immediately by email, and Anthem also set up a website — www.anthemfacts.com – that people can visit to get up-to-date information on the investigation. Once it has determined which customers were exposed, Anthem will be sending letters by postal mail with more information — including how they can sign up for free credit report monitoring and identity theft protection service.
As of yet, Anthem has not said which service it will be offering credit monitoring and identity theft protection through. In addition to the website, Anthem has set up a toll-free phone number you can call for more information. When this number is called, customers will hear a recording with information about the attack and have the option to speak with an Anthem representative if they have any questions.
I’m an Anthem customer; what can I do to protect myself?
Although the company’s response has been swift and proactive, the sad fact is that if you are an Anthem customer your information is potentially already in the hands of criminals. Here are some steps you can take to protect your identity in the coming weeks:
1. Sign up for identity theft protection on your own. While it’s nice that Anthem will be offering affected customers free credit report monitoring and identity theft protection, often the plans offered after data breaches don’t measure up. Because so much information was exposed in this attack, you are going to want an all-inclusive identity theft protection service that offers regular credit reports, Internet black market monitoring and identity theft assistance. Our top-rated service, Identity Guard, offers all of this for the reasonable monthly price of $14.99. Since many insurance plans cover the whole family, many parents will be scrambling to protect their children’s identities as well as their own. TrustedID offers a cost-effective family plan that covers all family members living at the same address for just $18/month with an annual plan.
Both services offer a free trial — 30 days for Identity Guard and 14 days for TrustedID — so if you aren’t sure whether you’ll want or need it, you can sign up now and cancel later. Depending on how quickly Anthem rolls out its free service, you can even sign up for both and compare. Canceling within the trial period will ensure you don’t pay a thing, while keeping your identity protected.
2. Be suspicious of strange phone calls, letters and emails. Although phone numbers were not listed among the data exposed, it’s good to cover all of your bases. Be on the lookout for calls, letters and emails that claim to be from Anthem which ask you to provide your personal data to prove your identity. Anthem has already sent emails to customers and has said it will be sending those affected a letter by mail. It is unlikely that any legitimate correspondence from Anthem will ask you to divulge sensitive information or give them money. If you receive an email urging you to click a link or log onto your health insurance account, do not click the link. Instead, visit the website in a separate browser window and log in that way to check for any alerts that have been sent to your account. Similarly, regard any phone calls with suspicion — it’s best to find out what the caller wants, hang up and call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card to determine if the call is legitimate.
3. Shred your junk mail and documents before throwing them out. Any time your home address is exposed, you are at risk. Identity thieves are not above digging through your trash to find discarded credit card offers or other old mail and documents they can use to exploit your identity for their own gain. Ripping up old mail yourself simply won’t cut it — the best option is to invest in a cross-cut shredder, which will completely destroy documents so they cannot be pieced back together.
4. Protect your medical identity. We all know the dangers of having our credit cards and banking information stolen, but do you know the dangers of medical identity theft? Because medical ID numbers and social security numbers were exposed in this attack, you should be on the lookout for suspicious medical bills for procedures or treatments you did not receive. It is also a wise idea to carefully read any and all statements you receive from your insurance provider, especially considering in this case it is your insurance provider that has been hacked.
5. Be on alert for tax identity theft. This breach couldn’t have happened at a worse time of year for people concerned about tax identity theft. Not only did personal information get taken, but income information was also exposed, leaving Anthem’s customers and employees vulnerable to have fake tax returns filed in their names. One of the best ways to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of tax identity fraud is to file your taxes immediately — if you haven’t already — and consider opting for electronic filing over mailing in paper forms, since electronic files are processed much quicker.
Anytime a company as large as Anthem is breached, the repercussions are felt long after. To learn more about how to protect your identity and continue following this story, visit our identity theft protection blog.
This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.
What Is Wrong With Outsourcing Software?
If you’re building a business, you’ve probably had to think about building your software solution. Very often, the way to go is outsourcing, be it onshore or offshore. Sadly, in most cases, this turns out to be a painful experience. A 2011 survey reports that 62% of offshore IT contracts cost much more than businesses expected in the United States.
Indeed, outsourcing your solution comes with many issues. It’s usually quite complex to formulate your needs accurately, leading to expensive delays and difficult discussions. Even when you eventually get what you want, maintaining and evolving it over time is going to be hard. You need to hire the same agency – most programmers won’t touch somebody else’s code -, request a new proposal, etc. And if you reach the limits of the current agency in terms of skills, you very likely will have to start over… Finally, even if it works great, you’ll have to handle your back-end, servers, etc. yourself. They will break at some point, inevitably…
On the other hand, isn’t it better when we get things done by people who are experts at what they do? This usually guarantees a more efficient approach. This is true for lawyers, accountants, or even HR. For instance, ZenPayroll has made many businesses’ lives easier dealing with setting up a payroll and looking after their taxes, etc. Shouldn’t this apply to software development as well? Don’t we want to get our software solutions built by people whose core business is building software, rather than trying to build out an internal software competency?
Building software is a specialist discipline. This is because, today, building software means writing code and engineering systems. And this requires a deep technical training, similarly to understanding law or dealing with taxes. So, we have a dilemma: on the one hand, writing code requires the kind of specialization that’s best dealt with by outsourcing, and on the other, building applications touches on core business issues that are extremely difficult to outsource.
That dilemma is precisely what motivated us to start Bubble. Our – unconventional – solution is to separate the application development process from the coding part. Bubble is a platform where anyone can build an app visually, by putting together some elements and some logic widgets, very much like playing with LEGOs. Coders are still writing the code, but only to build these widgets. Creating the application and coding the software become two very different things.
In other words, we want to have software engineers do what they know best: writing code and handling infrastructure. Let’s not have them do what companies are better at. Companies, employees – the actual end-users – are best at defining what they need, because they are the ones dealing with the issues they’re trying to solve through technology. The reason Facebook was a smashing hit in colleges was also because it was built for students by a student. Mark Zuckerberg happened to know how to code, so he was able to build it. If Bubble had existed back then, any student could have built Facebook.
The advantages of such an approach are huge. First, you get to build exactly what you need. You retain control on the product and you can evolve according to your needs, without outside assistance. And since specialists write the code, the code you’re using is good code (because there is such a thing as bad code). If some functionality (an elementary brick) is missing, and only then, you hire them to code it and add it to the system.
With such an approach, businesses can focus on their core competency, without losing control on the critical tech component. Take a company like Airbnb. Its core competency should not be writing code. In fact, its real competency is building an accommodation business. And, because we’re in 2014, it happens to be online. What Airbnb excels at is defining the right user experience, setting up a great customer service, making sure apartments have nice pictures, etc. Today, Airbnb still needs to hire engineers, but this is not the most efficient way of doing so. Similar to how most startups don’t handle servers any more (thanks to Amazon’s or Google’s cloud services), startups shouldn’t have to handle the code either. This is not just their core competency.
As we move to every business having an online component, this question becomes more and more critical. We need to figure out a way to make software development more efficient. Relying on external agencies or a few highly-paid software engineers just won’t work. We see new platforms such as Bubble — that separate coding from application development — as the solution.
This Is Your Brain On Twitter
To demonstrate the power of tweets, Twitter’s ad researchers turned to neuroscience. Here’s what happened.
Twitter’s senior director of market research, Jeffrey Graham is always looking for ways to show the effectiveness of ad campaigns on Twitter — surveys, home visits, data models.
Who To Follow On Instagram During The Grammys
In <a href="http://videos.huffingtonpost.com/