itwbennett writes: Many of us can remember a day (not so long ago) when business processes were a company's secret sauce, and custom software was built to suit those processes. Not anymore. According to a survey by low-code software company TrackVia, 82 percent of companies report changing a part of their business operations or processes to match the way their software works. The reason: companies are no longer looking to their processes and operations to provide competitive advantage. Instead, as anyone who's bought into the 'digital transformation' hype will tell you, the new differentiator is customer experience.
itwbennett writes: On April 4, Google triumphantly tweeted that it had closed the gender pay gap. Just 3 days later, in a hearing about a lawsuit that the Labor Department brought against Google to force the company to hand over salary information, Labor Department Regional Director Janette Wipper testified in a San Francisco court that the department 'found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce,' according to a report in The Guardian. 'The government’s analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry,' Janet Herold, regional solicitor for the DoL, told The Guardian.
itwbennett writes: Asked to point to a successful open source business model, you'd likely bring up Red Hat and how it charges for services. Or maybe you'd point to charging for customization and support for open source software. But are those the best business models for open source startups? Venture capitalist Sam Myers doesn't think so. 'Despite Red Hat, it is actually quite challenging to make money selling customization, support and consultancy,' Myers says. 'Why? Because it is head-count driven, the model doesn't scale, and you get low renewals. And you have competition from other consultancies.' What do you think is the best business model for open source software?
itwbennett writes: SoftBank, Sprint’s parent company, reportedly wants to merge the wireless carrier with either T-Mobile or Comcast. CIO.com's Bill Snyder says that's a terrible idea — not because going from 4 to 3 major carriers would restrict consumer choice all that much, but because it comes at 'a time when competition in the wireless market is finally heating up,' says Snyder. As for which merger would be worse for consumers, Snyder says 'losing T-Mobile as an independent force would be as bad as it gets' because of all the carriers, it is the one most willing to try new pricing schemes in the fight for marketshare.
itwbennett writes: Over the weekend, security researcher Alexander Klink disclosed an interesting attack where exploiting an XXE (XML External Entity) vulnerability in a Java application can be used to send emails. At the same time, he showed that this type of vulnerability can be used to trick the Java runtime to initiate FTP connections to remote servers. After seeing Klink's exploit, Timothy Morgan, a researcher with Blindspot Security, decided to disclose a similar attack that works against both Java's and Python's FTP implementations. 'But his attack is more serious because it can be used to punch holes through firewalls,' writes Lucian Constantin in CSO Online.
Copy that 2 writes: Bitcoin and ransomware seem to go hand-in-hand, but experts explain that doing away with the cybercurrency would just force cybercriminals to find another anonymous way to extort money.
itwbennett writes: Whether or not beginning programmers should learn C is a question that has been roundly debated on Slashdot and elsewhere. The general consensus seems to be that learning it will make you a better programmer — and it looks good on your resume. But now there might be another reason to learn C: the rapid growth of the internet of things (IoT) could cause a spike in demand for C skills, according to Gartner analyst Mark Driver. 'For traditional workloads there is no need to be counting the bytes like there used to be. But when it comes to IoT applications there is that need once again.'
itwbennett writes: According to a report on CSO Online, 'Moscow-based forensics firm Elcomsoft noticed it was able to pull supposedly deleted Safari browser histories from iCloud accounts.' Elcomsoft CEO Vladimir Katalov, writing about the finding in a blog post on Thursday, said that 'we discovered that deleting a browsing history record makes that record disappear from synced devices; however, the record still remains available (but invisible) in iCloud. We kept researching, and discovered that such deleted records can be kept in iCloud for more than a year.' Katalov added that they were also able to 'pull additional information about Safari history entries including the exact date and time each record was last visited and deleted.' For its part, Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The CSO article also notes that 'Elcomsoft has previously found that Apple was saving users’ call history to iCloud, but offering no explicit way to turn the synching on or off.'
itwbennett writes: The IRS starts processing tax returns today, but early filers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, won't receive their refunds until Feb. 15. The delay gives the IRS extra time to spot fraud, but it also hurts lower income Americans for whom, the "refund check is the largest payment they’ll see all year," notes CSO's Steve Ragan. A USA Today article points out that the maximum annual income to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2016 is $50,198 for married couples who file jointly and have two children. 'Early filers who don't claim the EITC or ACTC should receive refunds in less than 21 days after their returns are accepted for processing,' writes Kevin McCoy.
itwbennett writes: Citing the involvement of Volkswagen engineers in the emissions scandal, the fake news 'epidemic' on Facebook and elsewhere, and the president elect's promise to create a Muslim registry, CIO.com's Sharon Florentine proposes that the time might be right for an 'all-encompassing set of [ethics] standards that includes the entire industry.' This isn't a new idea, and the world has certainly not gotten any less complicated. As Florentine puts it, 'there's no way to know definitively every possible outcome of the development and use of every piece of technology, every line of code.' But would having an industry code of ethics at least give some guidance to developers who feel they're being asked to do something unethical?
itwbennett writes: On Monday, Deutsche Telekom reported that close to a million customers experienced internet connection problems from the new Mirai strain infecting their routers. Now security firm Flashpoint is saying the problem is more widespread and could affect up to 5 million internet routers and modems across the globe, including in the U.K., Brazil, Iran and Thailand. It’s still unclear how many devices have been infected, but Flashpoint estimates that as many as five million devices are vulnerable. 'If even a fraction of these vulnerable devices were compromised, they would add considerable power to an existing botnet,' Flashpoint said in a Tuesday blog post.
itwbennett writes: On Sunday, malware researcher Bart Blaze discovered an attack that uses Facebook Messenger to spread Locky ransomware. 'The Ransomware is delivered via a downloader, which is able to bypass whitelisting on Facebook by pretending to be an image file,' CSO's Steve Ragan explains.