Monthly Archives March 2018

Canadian Wireless Spectrum Auction will not favour Big Three Telecoms

Canada’s federal government lent a helpful hand to smaller telecoms in anticipation of next year’s wireless spectrum auction, to be held March, 2019. According to the Financial Post, it decided that 43 percent of the 70 MHz of available spectrum for “potential new entrants and regional competitors.”

The decision was recommended by the Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) department, which cited the need to “increase competition and affordability” in Canada’s telecom industry.

“Competition is a key driver of innovative and affordable telecommunications services,” ISED Minister Navdeep Bains said in a statement. “This is an important step toward more choices, lower prices and higher quality cell phone services for Canadians.”

The auction next March deals in particular with very valuable blocks of airwave. Financial Post describes that the “600 MHz frequency can carry signals over long distances and penetrate buildings, qualities that make it desirable in both rural and urban areas.”

Of course, Rogers, Bell, and Telus weren’t delighted to hear that their purchasing power will be limited. Rogers CEO Joe Natale referred to these auctions as “the lifeblood of our industry” while Telus CEO Darren Entwistle criticized ISED for treating “strong regional players like start-ups.”

Many in favour of ISED’s decision hope it will lead to more affordability for Canadians.

Source: financialpost.com – Ottawa favours smaller wireless players over Big Three in spectrum auction rules
Published: March 28, 2018

Mobile Payments helping bakeries and cafés succeed

You’ve probably heard about mobile ordering and payment at big name businesses like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. But you may not know that some smaller, locally-run cafés and bakeries are trying to bridge the digital divide between themselves and larger companies. And it’s going great!

Online publication PYMNTS.com recently interviewed Tanya Li, assistant director of operations for Flour Bakery + Café – a Boston area business with seven locations. To stay competitive, Li and her team have begun implementing mobile payment solutions for their customers.

In 2016, Flour Bakery + Café  changed its POS software to keep up with its ever-changing menu, along with the growing trend of digital gift cards. In 2017, it was receiving a high volume on call-in orders, so the company decided to release an application with digital ordering features. This would save both customers and staff time by helping to manage the demand. As PYMENTS explains, “The app gave guests a quicker digital ordering option, allowed them to use saved payment information and freed up staff from taking down phone orders.”

Li explains that this has allowed them to take more orders overall. “The online ordering has allowed us to help more people during lunch, to take on more orders, where before we were pretty thoroughly limited by being only able to take phone orders.”

Flour’s busiest location takes in approximately $20,000 and 8,400 orders per day, and this rate is continually growing. Li has attributed the mobile ordering platform as a reason for her company’s success.

Source: pymnts.com – Flour, Butter, Mobile: Payments Tech As A Key Bakery Ingredient
Published: March 26, 2018

Verizon hit with lawsuit after installing unauthorized cables

Here’s a great reminder to telcos to not leave their cables lying around! A developer in Orlando, Florida found its office tower project significantly delayed after Verizon installed an unauthorized cable on site. The developer, Lincoln Property Company, claims this added about $500,000 in unexpected costs to the project.

In August, Lincoln Property Company says “an underground cable line was unexpectedly discovered” on the project site, delaying construction. The developer claims the cable was never properly authorized before installation, and moreover, when Verizon showed Lincoln Property Company maps of the site, the cable was never included.

The worst part, according to Lincoln Property Company, was that Verizon waited three months after discovery to send a crew to remove the cable.

According to Fierce Telecom, the lawsuit outlines the property damage, fees, and other expenses incurred by Lincoln Property Company to remove the cable, as well as losses caused by the delay. The lawsuit also asks for attorneys’ fees and administrative costs.

Source: fiercetelecom.com – Verizon gets hit with lawsuit over unauthorized cable in Orlando
Published: March 23, 2018

Can Twitter debate really be more civil?

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey wants to improve one of the most controversial features of his social media platform – debate and conversation. According to The Toronto Star, Dorsey is asking for help improving “the openness and civility of conversation on Twitter.” Dorsey believes the company has “failed to prevent misinformation, echo chambers and abuse of its global messaging service.”

Twitter is now soliciting proposals for strategies on measuring the healthiness of conversation on the service and ways to improve it. Those proposals are due mid-April.

“We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough. We simply can’t and don’t want to do this alone,” Dorsey tweeted.

As anyone on the web knows, Twitter certainly isn’t the only culprit in unhealthy social media discussion. Already this year, Mark Zuckerberg has promised his time in fixing the same issues on Facebook. YouTube has recently expressed difficulty in this area, especially in the wake of polarizing events in the news. This goes to show that Twitter may have a long road ahead.

Source: thestar.com – Twitter CEO looking to improve ‘civility’ of online debate; YouTube Stumbles
Published: March 2, 2018

Is Canada on the path to 5G?

Canada’s federal government, as well as the governments of Ontario and Quebec, have partnered with industry leaders Ericsson, Ciena Canada, Thales Canada, IBM Canada, and CGI, to bring the country up to speed with 5G technology.

According to Metro News, “A $400-million public-private investment will create a corridor of 5G wireless test beds through Canada’s two largest provinces, aimed at giving companies a chance to experiment with new ideas and products that are only now becoming possible thanks to recent breakthroughs in telecommunication technology.”

This project is called ENCQOR. Or, if you prefer, ‘Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Quebec and Ontario for Research and Innovation.’ It will give about 1,000 small and medium-sized lucky businesses the opportunity to plug into 5G early for research and development purposes. Both Ontario and Quebec have pledged about $67 million. This will also benefit residents of these provinces, where the projected is expected to create 4,000 jobs.

5G is still decently far into the future for most Canadians. But it is an important development, especially in terms of a more connected world that includes “driverless cars, remotely controlled complex surgeries, and download speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks.”

“5G is the gateway to the future and we are just on the brink of this technological revolution,” Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said Monday at a funding announcement in Ottawa.

Source: metronews.ca – Data alert: 5G wireless telecommunication corridor is coming to Canada
Published: March 19, 2018

Grand theft auto leaves Florida towns without internet connection

Last week, citizens of Rockledge and Cocoa, Florida were left without internet for several hours following one man’s theft of a repair truck routing fiber optic cable.

Florida Today reported that the “outage affected up to 5,000 customers, including businesses and residences.”

The person of interest in this crime, Shane Younger, stole the “$100,000 truck, hitched to a $50,000 trailer filled with tools and other equipment” right out from under the repairmen’s nose as they were spooling fiber optic cable. The truck was recovered the next morning at 5:30am from a Denny’s parking lot.

“The person came out of nowhere and stole the truck,” Joe Durkin, spokesperson for Spectrum – the company that owns the truck and cables – told Florida Today. The publication says, “One worker actually jumped from the truck as the suspected thief rolled off, violently snapping and damaging the cable.” The damages caused to the cables could cost as much as $10,000 to repair.

Surely Younger had no idea how impactful his crime would be when stealing the vehicle. A spokesperson for the Cocoa Police Department told Florida Today that “several police agencies” also experienced outages. “Officers had to use backup radios after the cables were snapped.” Luckily 911 systems were not effected.

Younger was taken into custody and booked at the county jail on charges of grand theft.

Source: floridatoday.com – Stolen cable repair truck in Cocoa leads to Spectrum internet outage
Published: March 14, 2018

Mac targeting malware is on the rise

Macs have long been considered a secure PC option, given that less malware is created to attack the less-used operating system. But that might be changing. Anti-malware security vendor Malwarebytes is warning users that malware attacks targeting the platform jumped 270 percent in 2017.

In particular, security experts warn that four new malware exploits have been identified by Mac users in 2018. One Mac user found that their Domain Name Server settings (DNS) had been changed, and they were blocked from changing them back. According to Computer World, this malware “also installed a trusted root certificate on the person’s Mac. The threat left the user vulnerable to fraudulent phishing websites posing as the real deal and man-in-the-middle attacks.”

Malwarebytes researchers have also found a new Java-based exploit for Macs that they believe was likely developed “for nefarious purposes” by an undisclosed nation state. Another attack found by the security vendor “included deployment of malicious links on a popular software downloads website.”

While Apple platforms tend to be very secure, the truth is that they are not impenetrable. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of Mac users’ lax sense of security.

“Apple’s macOS includes some good security features that are helpful, but they are easily bypassed by new malware,” Malwarebytes told Computer World.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Computer World gave a pretty comprehensive list. It recommends:

  • Avoid clicking links if you don’t know the sender.
  • Use strong passcodes.
  • Understand the risk of public Wi-Fi, and don’t access confidential or financial services using such networks.
  • Do not download software from unapproved App Stores.
  • Run a virus scan now and then.
  • Use two-factor authentication when possible.
  • Learn to use and understand Apple’s new privacy protection tools when they appear in iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4.
  • Read the Mac and iOS security guides.

Source: computerworld.com – Warning as Mac malware exploits climb 270%
Published: March 12, 2018

 

 

Macs reach ten percent of global computer usership

It’s one of those milestones that is supposed to be great –  but also shows just how dominant Microsoft truly is in the personal computer market. According to Computer World, Apple’s Mac computers account for one in every ten personal computers used to access the internet over the last two months. A year ago, the number was 6.2% of the global user share.

Chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, Bob O’Donnell, told Computer World why he believes Apple has finally reached this milestone. “It’s due on some level to growth driven by BYOD. Over the years, companies have been more willing to let employees bring their own devices in. I presume that has something to do with [Mac growth].”

O’Donnell also noted that recent security concerns could have contributed to the company’s growth. “Macs are generally considered to be more secure because of fewer attacks [aimed at them].”

Another reason for the rise in popularity may have something to do with longevity of devices. On average, Mac owners tend to hold onto their PCs for longer than Windows owners. Although this means that more Windows systems are being purchased, Apple’s share would slowly build against them.

Source: computerworld.com – Macs now account for 10% of active personal computers
Published: March 13, 2018

You can now officially sue Yahoo for those data breaches

You probably remember Yahoo’s large series of data breaches that lasted from 2013 to 2016, where the personal data of potentially three billion Yahoo users were exposed to hackers. Well, if you’re a U.S-based Yahoo user who was a victim of this breach and you’re looking for compensation, you now have a chance to get it. Judge Lucy Koh, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, recently ruled that victims can launch a class-action suit against Yahoo, despite parent company Verizon’s request to drop such suits.

The FBI was aided by Yahoo in closing the hacking case. Two Russian intelligence agents, as well as a Canadian hacker, were charged in accordance with the incident. The Canadian hacker plead guilty to aggravated identity theft and conspiracy charges this past November, according to BGR.

Even though the case was solved, Yahoo users have still been impacted. Some have spent money on extra security measures and credit freezes following the data breach. Koh argued that this was the responsibility of Yahoo. Part of the issue was that Yahoo did not disclose until 2016 that it had experienced hacking for the past few years.

“Plaintiffs’ allegations are sufficient to show that they would have behaved differently had defendants disclosed the security weaknesses of the Yahoo Mail System,” Koh wrote in her decision. Koh believes that Yahoo users might have “taken measures to protect themselves had they known about the breaches sooner.”

Source: bgr.com – Judge rules that Yahoo Mail data breach victims can sue Yahoo
Published: March 12, 2018

BlackBerry files lawsuit against Facebook over patent infringement

blackberry logo longOn March 6th, BlackBerry reportedly filed a patent infringement suit against Facebook and Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram under the argument that they copied technology from BlackBerry Messenger.

“Defendants created mobile messaging applications that co-opt BlackBerry’s innovations, using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features,” the suit, filed with a Los Angeles federal court, claims.

BlackBerry spokeswoman Sarah McKinney told Venture Beat that “Protecting shareholder assets and intellectual property is the job of every CEO.” This comment addresses rumours that litigation and patent infringement lawsuits are central to CEO John Chen’s business strategy.  McKinney said that this was “not central to BlackBerry’s strategy.”

Facebook obviously won’t go down without a fight. The company’s Deputy General Counsel, Paul Grewal, said in a statement that, “Blackberry’s suit sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business. Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, Blackberry is now looking to tax the innovation of others.”

BlackBerry sued Nokia Corp last year for patents relating to 3G and 4G wireless communication. That case is still pending in a federal court in Delaware, according to Venture Beat. Qualcomm also agreed to pay BlackBerry $940 million over a royalty payments dispute. In October 2017, BlackBerry settled with Blu Products Inc, a Floridian low-cost mobile device manufacturer which it had sued over patents.

Source: venturebeat.com – BlackBerry sues Facebook over messaging patents
Published: March 6, 2018