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Cyber-crime doesn’t (always) pay July 29, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in Internet, IT Services.
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If you have read the book ‘A few kind words and a loaded gun’ by former bank robber Noel ‘Razor’ Smith, you will understand how far the world has come from the days of blaggers charging into a bank branch with a shotgun and making off with a stack of cash.

Smith laments the amount of security measures attached to the movement of cash that now makes simple bank robberies almost impossible, and he notes that anyone carrying out such a crime today would be a fool. Cyber-crime offers the chance for greater riches without ever going near a gun.

All you need is a computer and some nous and you can commit various types of crime without ever leaving home. Fraud, organised crime, electronic espionage, IP theft, terrorism, activism, and even warfare can call fall under the wider label of cyber-crime and all can be perpetrated without much risk if you know how to cover your online tracks.

This all means that is it harder than ever to protect your company from criminals because there are now so many ways in which an attack can take place. Publishers may lose content to online thieves. Activists or terrorists may target your brand for attack with such tools as the dreaded denial of service attacks. Insiders can raid your company funds and misappropriate assets. The list goes on.

But the real point is that crime has now become virtual and hidden in the shadows. Mastering the technical skills of computer networks and the smooth-talking social engineering required to get passwords from the unwary now gives any unscrupulous hacker the keys to the vault.

Are we really prepared for this new era of crime?

What is Web 3.0? July 22, 2011

Posted by Mark Hillary in Internet, Outsourcing, Software.
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The Internet continues to evolve at a frenetic pace. Back in the nineties, having a website meant little more than a series of static pages that used hyper-links to allow the reader to click between pages.

Web 2.0 changed all that. Websites became based on dynamic data, so different readers might see different pages, based on their own profile. Your Facebook profile is a good example – endlessly changing whenever you update it or load new content such as photos. It became normal for readers to also become contributors.

Now the tech world is talking of Web 3.0, even as many in the enterprise are yet to fully take advantage of the dynamic information flow of Web 2.0.

But Web 3.0 is not really here just yet. It revolves around how information can be better linked through concepts such as the semantic web. In short, there will be a point at which the systems are publishing information automatically and tagging or linking the data to existing information. Like Web 2.0, but with the computers doing much of the publishing and linking for us.

The clear advantages of this are obvious. We are drowning in a sea of information at present. Just search Google for ‘John Smith’ and hundreds of millions of possible results come up. If your own name is ‘John Smith’ and the search system had some way of linking data that relates to the correct ‘John Smith’ then search suddenly becomes far more intelligent.

Given the amount of content now being created it is becoming essential for the systems to help connect the dots. For example, the video site YouTube gets 35 hours of new video uploaded by users every single minute. How can we make sense of this vast sea of data if it has no context?

The downside of relying on the technology is that machines make mistakes. Only time will tell how laws designed for a previous era might handle cases related to an automated system linking millions of pieces of data, where some of those links are erroneous and create a knock-on effect that invalidates other data.

It’s a problem we have yet to encounter, but this world is just around the corner not decades away.