Monthly Archives May 2016

The Psychology of Piracy

piracyWe’ve all seen the ads that explain why piracy is theft. And yet a lot of people use torrent sites to access bootlegs copies of their favourite shows, movies, and music with an easy conscience. But why? New research by Australian PhD student Robert Eres has shed some light on the phenomenon.

Eres’ home country, despite its population of only about 23 million, leads the world in Game of Thrones piracy. Australians aren’t all thieves though, right? Eres studied the brain activity of a person stealing via file sharing compared to someone doing something obviously criminal like shoplifting. Here’s the catch – our brains won’t let us feel the same guilt about piracy.

Eres’ study proves the human brain cannot process the same level of guilt in a crime where physical objects are not involved.

“The findings from the two brain imaging experiments suggest that people are processing the intangible and tangible objects very differently within their brains,” Eres was quoted as saying in a CNET article. He connected these findings to the rise in online bullying and hacking, suggesting that the same logic might apply.

VoIP is Taking Over

headsetVoIP has become a standard part of the telecom and business world, and it’s only getting bigger. According to IHS analytics, the global VoIP market rose five percent to $73 billion in 2015. This growth is attributed, at least in part, to businesses and the diverse network of suppliers.

Suppliers don’t have just businesses to thank for the market growth, however. Residential VoIP use remains a major player, accounting for 62 percent of 2015 revenue. At the end of 2015, there were 230 million residential VoIP users.

VoIP isn’t the only service with significant growth. Similarly, use of SIP trunking, hosted PBX, and UC services also increased across North America in 2015. This reflects a widespread trend of multi-site businesses seeking increasingly-hybrid solutions to their telecom needs.

IHS predicts that by 2020 the VoIP service market will reach $83 billion.

*Source: Fierce Telecom

FCC, FTC to Investigate Mobile Security Updates

smartphoneThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are launching parallel probes into the mobile industry’s security update practices. The agencies want to determine how manufacturers issue security updates for mobile devices, and how carriers review and release the patches.

“As consumers and businesses turn to mobile broadband to conduct ever more of their daily activities, the safety of their communications and other personal information is directly related to the security of the devices they use,” stated an FCC press release.

“There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device, including ‘Stagefright’ in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally.”

In all, the FTC has contacted eight companies – Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola and Samsung – to gain insight into how manufacturers determine if a vulnerability needs to be patched. It has also asked for a list of all devices offered for sale since 2013, with information on any bugs that have impacted them and any fixes that were issued.

The main concern is that delays in developing patches may be leaving devices unprotected. Older devices may never receive the necessary protection.

Lawsuit Shuts Down Facebook Trademark Violation

facebook_2015_logo_detailIt doesn’t look like “face book” potato chips will be landing on shelves anytime soon after a Chinese court ruled in the social media giant’s favor in a recent trademark violation lawsuit.

According to a CNET article, the Zhongshan Pearl River got the green light to use “face book” to sell a variety of food items, including coffee, tea and candy. Its initial application was approved in 2011, but Facebook was none too happy about the move. And in the end, the court agreed, stating Zhongshan “violated moral principles” and was clearly intending to capitalize on Facebook’s name. Ironically, Facebook is blocked in China and cannot be accessed from computers.

While Facebook was victorious in its suit, other companies don’t always fare so well. Apple just lost a similar lawsuit, giving third parties permission to use “IPHONE” to market handbags and wallets.

Amazon Business Rakes in $1B in Sales

amazon businessAmazon Business is celebrating one year in business with significant milestone, reaching $1 billion in sales. Vice president Prestin Wilson attributes the runaway success to the company’s focus on chasing large customers.

According to Wilson, Amazon Business – which offers office supplies and equipment, similar to Staples – has grown at a rate of 20 percent per month since its launch. Apparently it has been selling far more than just your typical printer toner and paper.

“We have pediatricians who buy toys for the lobby, businesses that buy artwork for the wall,” Wilson was quoted as saying in a Seattle Times article. “Insurance companies will buy random items when customers have claims.” Clearly, having something for everyone is serving the company well.

The $1 billion figure includes sales from Amazon.com and third-party sellers peddling merchandise through Amazon Business.

Internet Explorer Dethroned by Chrome

Chrome_LogoInternet users around the world have spoken, pronouncing Chrome their brower of choice. For the first time, Chrome has overtaken Internet Explorer, now being used by 41.7 percent of PC users. Microsoft’s IE still has 41.3 percent market share, with the next choice being Mozilla Firefox at 10 percent.

This probably doesn’t seem like huge news, especially if you use the web on your phone more often than your computer. Google’s browser has long been dominant on mobile devices, accounting for 49 percent of mobile usage, followed by Apple’s Safari at 29 percent. In the mobile world, Internet Explorer lags far behind with four percent usage.

However, this is sad news for Microsoft, since its Internet Explorer has been the most widely used browser for PC since 1998. This is coupled with the fact that its operating system, Windows, is still the norm on desktop computers.

Microsoft has recently replaced Internet Explorer with an updated browser, Microsoft Edge, for the Windows 10 OS. Will it be able to make Edge attractive enough to users that the company can reclaim its former title?

*Source: Seattle Times

Credit Card Cloning Scam Shocks Connecticut Town

Visa credit cardA recent credit card theft in Clinton, Connecticut proves our money may not be as safe as we think. Hundreds of dollars have been stolen due to credit card cloning, which exploits the 40-year-old magnetic stripe on the back of cards. This leaves both credit and debit cards vulnerable.

Two men were caught on a security camera at a convenience store in Clinton making hundreds of dollars’ worth of fraudulent purchases. The card they cloned belonged to a man in the Hartford area.

“The technology is the problem,” resident Robert King was quoted as saying in an NBC article. “I think they’ve got to find a way to make it more fool-proof.”

And King is right. Experts believe that the process of cloning a magnetic stripe card is relatively easy for a tech-savvy person with the right computer and card reader. It could be harder to accomplish with the newly introduced chip-and-PIN cards.

As always, experts are recommending consumers keep tabs on their credit card statements and never let credit or debit cards off their person. Cash is still the safest way of protecting against this kind of scam, which can be frustrating in an increasingly card based world.

FCC to Examine Business Data Services

FCCThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it will be taking a hard look at the business data services market to reform and modernize its rules surrounding the industry.

According to a press release, the FCC plans to call for public comment to ensure market conditions do not hinder innovation and competition, and to make transitions into new technology easier for businesses.

“Business data services are critical in the day-to-day life of consumers, business and industry, and are integral to the competitiveness of the U.S. economy as a whole in the information age,” stated the FCC release.

“Users include banks and retailers connecting ATM machines and credit card readers, government and corporate users connecting branch offices and data centers, and mobile phone providers offloading calls and data from wireless networks – a need that will grow exponentially with the deployment of advanced 5G wireless service.”

Additionally, the FCC has ordered AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink and Frontier to file new special access tarrifs, stating their existing filing was “unjust and unreasonable, and had the effect of decreasing facilities-based competition and inhibiting the transition to new technologies.”