Ransomware And Its Impact

Picture this.

It’s another normal day. You wake and head over to the office, grab a cuppa and settle down to begin going about your daily business. You hit the power on button on your computer and instead of the usual login screen you are accustomed to, you are instead confronted by an on-screen message, very likely featuring the image of a large padlock, informing you that your computer is permanently inaccessible until you make a payment via in a prescribed form.

Welcome to the world of ransomware. You have just become a victim.

So what is a ransomware?

Without getting into technical jargon, ransomware is any malicious software program that infects your computer and restricts access either by locking the screen, encrypting files or both, until you pay the hacker that created the program a ransom.

The first such program to be distributed widely was a program known as Cryptolocker in 2013. Thousands of people had their lives disrupted.
Unlike other malware that spies on your computer silently and sends stolen login details and other personal data to hackers, ransomware announces itself. It’s actually quite audacious on the part of hackers.

Like most viruses and malware, ransomware uses many of the same attack vectors. For example, email attachments and links, botnets, torrents and other technical means such as piggybacking on genuine software updates. The recent Goldeneye/Petya ransomware that affected users in late June 2017, gained access to computers via a software update of a popular accounting application in the Ukraine. The hackers somehow managed to infiltrate the software company that designed the program and injected the ransomware into the software update files. Everyone who performed the update caught the infection.

Unlike other forms of viruses and malware, you can’t get rid of ransomware by flashing the BIOS, wiping the drive or returning the computer to a restore point. The hackers make sure you can’t access any of these features. Also, a unique decryption key is created during the install and stored on the hacker’s server. In the event, you fail to pay the ransom in time or the ransomware detects an attempt to tamper with it, a “self-destruct” is triggered, deleting the decryption key and destroying all the encrypted files on the user’s machine. If the ransom is paid in time, the hacker sends the decryption key to the user and the user enters the key in an area provided on-screen. This unlocks/decrypts the files. Ransom payments are usually demanded via digital currency Bitcoin which makes sure the identity of the hacker remains anonymous.

Because hackers have been known to release the decryption key once paid, many people have resorted to paying the ransom rather than seeking other ways to deal with the problem. This has added fuel to the fire because so long as hackers can make money with ransomware, they aren’t going to stop anytime soon.

Ransomware isn’t simply a nuisance. It is a serious problem that has law enforcement agencies working around the clock to bust hacker rings. While some infected computers are still usable, loss of data has a serious impact on productivity for businesses. Small businesses may never be able to recover if they lost important data.

The best defense

The best defense is data backups. If you have a backup of your data, you won’t have to pay the ransom. You will only lose time trying to get your computer to work properly again. Secondly, install an antivirus program that offers strong ransomware protection and always ensure it is up to date. Don’t ignore operating system security updates. Set your computer to automatically install security updates. And, don’t click on links in emails or open attachments from people you don’t know. Avoid pirated software and torrent sites because these often host ransomware.

Conclusion

If the unimaginable happens and you find yourself having to deal with ransomware, do not panic. Antivirus companies have a number of solutions for the most common types of ransomware. Check out their sites and from another computer and follow the instructions. Unfortunately, if it is a new type, you may have to wait a little longer for a fix. All the same, security researchers are making great strides but it will be a while before they beat the hackers at this game. With ransomware, prevention is better than cure.

3 Beginner Tools to Understand Customer Data

It’s hard to believe that in 2017, there are industries in which customer data isn’t valued at its true worth. The good news is things are changing. According to Forbes, 60% of business owners believe in the revenue power of data within their companies. And 83% feel that data increases profitability among existing products or services.

It’s hard to believe that in 2017, there are industries in which customer data isn’t valued at its true worth. The good news is things are changing. According to Forbes, 60% of business owners believe in the revenue power of data within their companies. And 83% feel that data increases profitability among existing products or services. Even so, some industries out there still lack severely in the customer service sector. Government offices, Healthcare, Airlines, Retail, to name a few. The full list and percentages are available in this infographic by Statista.

Customer support Customer data is crucial to your sales and marketing strategy if you want to:

  1. Understand what your customers need before you upgrade your products and services;
  2. Develop loyalty programs for your buyers;
  3. Apply design thinking principles (innovation) in your line of work;
  4. Attract a new audience and diversify your clientele;
  5. Be one step ahead of your competitors. And more…

Working with customer data isn’t easy especially if you are a beginner in the field of analytics. Or a content marketer with little knowledge in working with stats. But with these 3 beginner tools, no customer data will be left behind.

SEO Tools for Excel

Let’s start with the basics. Before you consider customer data and the sales process, you need to understand what is happening with your website behind the scenes. How people find your website. Who mentioned your website/product/service. Links. And ranking performance. I’m sorry to remind you again, but search engine still matters, and I don’t know of a business who isn’t peeking at competition every now and then.

If you want to discover the current Google cache for a web page, that’s easily manageable by typing “cache:www.websitename.com” into your web browser. But for multiple pages or the entire website, this is time-consuming. Imagine if each product has a dedicated page, and you have about 1,000 products displayed. Not cool, right?

That’s why the Excel SEO tool is useful because it allows users to simply apply a formula to return the data (in this case, the formula is =GoogleCacheData(“URL_TO_CHECK”). There is a basic option (ad supported, free, but with reduced functionality) and a pro version (where you can connect your other accounts, such as Moz, Ahrefs, GA, SEMRush, Majestic), which pulls data directly into Excel, without having to manually transfer it. This guide explains all about the uses of Excel in SEO and marketing, so you might want to check that out. Meanwhile, I have requested permission from AcuityTraining to use some of their screenshots to showcase the tool’s functionality.

Installation Tips and Examples How to Use the Tool

Installation is simple: Go to the SEO Tools for Excel website, and simply download it. This only works for Windows users, and you will need to check compatibility of Office version with Windows version (32 versus 64 bit).

Excel SEO

Here are a few formulas you can use to speed up your analysis. There is a series of string tools that help with text variables (in case you didn’t know, more advanced tools as SPSS, for e.g., do not run an analysis on a string variable, so you must compute the variable from a string into numeric. Which takes up time and energy). But SEO tools in Excel is friendlier with beginners.

To remove spaces from the text, use the “=Normalize()” function. To remove blank spaces in a string variable, use “=StripWhitespace()”.

SEO Excel tool

You can also use the tool for spidering and pull current data for multiple pages. The Spider icon in the upper left will generate a dialogue box that needs to be filled in every section. Add a report name of your choice. Specify the website to crawl, and level of crawling required. Specify data required per page. Highlight the options (you can choose up to 51) in the left-side column. Click Add. Data will be generated in the right-side column.

SEO Excel tool

Clicking Generate will display a table with multiple columns, such as URL, GoogleCacheData, and LinkCount. Or any other metrics of your choice (based on your previous selection from the left column options).

SEO Excel tool

Web stats are a great way to understand what is happening behind the scenes on your page/website. If you have this figure out, it’s time to proceed to the next level: customer specs.

Website Call Conversion Tool

Conversion testing is nothing new. Almost anyone is familiar with A/B testing of channels, for e.g., to see which one drives more traffic, leads, sales. This Hubspot article shows how inbound marketing and sales combine one another.

Recently, more attention has been paid to custom web data reports that showcase what the customer journey is, and how their interaction with your service or product impacts the decision-making process. Call conversion is linked to both customer journey and conversion testing. If you think this isn’t an important subject, think again, as Google Analytics has been allowing phone call tracking since 2016, with phone calls being a marketing channel. Users can simply add the GA code to their websites, and either setup Events and Goals (free option) or opt for an integration software (paid) to track phone calls.

Using Nextiva Analytics: Short Guide

Nextiva is a call conversion software (premium), which offers around 225 report combinations to analyze real-time data and historical data using graphs and tables. Below, you can see an example of Summary for Calls (Total Count, Count by Day, Hourly Average).

Nextiva key features

Besides summary reports and other technical features, call group reports are also available. This how a call group report looks like with graphs (right) showcasing call channels, and scatter-plots (left), displaying count by day.

Nextiva call group

For e.g., if you want to analyze the target group “company employees” with a final objective of understanding the business needs, you can create a custom report and dashboard. An example of the custom dashboard is listed below. This type of report allows you to compare users, sales numbers, call duration, and clusters (i.e. Summer sale promotion team; Sales team; Mike’s calls, Support team).

Nextiva custom dashboard

Operating with agile decision-making processes, the wallboard feature enables transparency and displays critical information. Here’s how a critical process map looks like, detailing all types of calls, duration, and number for each section. I.e. 4,608 dials under Unique calls, 726minutes for International Talks etc.

Nextiva wallboards

The tool itself is easy to handle, and user-friendly. They have a resource center on their YouTube channel, with video guides for Beginners, worth checking out.

Pivot Tables: Sales, Buyer Behavior, and More

For a tool that has been around since before Moses ( the first version of Excel for the Macintosh was launched in September 1985, and first Microsoft version 2.05, in November 1987), you would expect everyone to be an expert at it. For the ‘80s version, probably everybody is. Microsoft developed their Office suite to address its other market segment: businesses. If you’re just starting with customer data, Excel is an excellent tool for beginners.

The simplest, yet useful and powerful feature is Excel pivot tables, which are used to summarize, analyze, explore and present the data through graphs and charts. You can find out how your services and products are performing in an industry, region, segment, by simply grouping the data into designated columns for each variable (i.e. variable “Services”, “Industry”, “Purchases”) and performing the analysis.

Types of Action in Pivot Tables

  1. Summarize your data by finding the average (mean) value of a specific metric/variable. e. Purchases are done per region, per industry, for each product.
  2. Organize the columns of a table. Structure them based on metric/variable/action performed by the customer.
  3. List unique values. You can work here with “outliers” (min and max values, which are outside the mean; call them “particular cases”. For e.g., a customer purchasing your Christmas products in Summer/Fall is natural. But a customer purchasing Christmas gifts in April is peculiar.)
  4. Create dynamic pivot charts and reports that show custom forms and subtotal values. Instead of having a report/graph generated for each segment, you can combine segments, and check for a particular result or for general outcomes.
  5. Filter, sort, and structure your data without formulas or macros. You probably don’t know this, but the main disadvantage of formulas is that you need to carefully follow each function and element/item of the formula. Otherwise, the formula will either not work at all generating error reports, or work in a way, but generate a fake report and false findings. These numbers will affect business decisions. And this isn’t something anyone wants.
  6. Link data sources that are outside Excel and generate pivot reports for this type of data. Think of data such as Google Analytics, tracking stats in email campaigns, surveys, social media data that can be linked to, analyzed, and reported.
  7. Transposition of data from rows to columns and vice versa.

Data sources you can use for a Pivot analysis include GA, Bing, Yandex, surveys, email campaign tracker data, SQL data (website data), external or in-house social media analytics tools, APIs, Internet marketing tools (Moz, Majestic, SEMRush etc).

Example: Customer Devices Pivot Analysis

Let’s say you are interested in finding out if your website should have a mobile-ready version, or it’s enough to have a mobile-responsive theme. You can extract the data from the past year (53 weeks) or from the last 6 months (26 weeks). For this example, I will work with data from the past year, that showcases traffic metrics which came from “All Users” compared to “Mobile Users”.

The steps are: Import Data from GA >> Organize Data in Columns and Rows >> Run Pivot Tables >> Generate Pivot Chart.

SERPiflied pivot table

Based on the results in the pivot table, I see that a third of my customers use a mobile device. I can expect the number to grow in the following year, although I would need to run a predictive analysis to confirm my statement.

However, this pivot chart result is enough, at this point, to convince me to invest is a mobile version of the website, so that my customers can enjoy a fully mobile experience.

More information about pivot tables and user experience is available here.

Takeaways

Remember: customer data is crucial to your sales and marketing strategy. Before understanding your customers’ needs, you need to understand what is happening with the main sales channels. In this case, your web properties and how they rank in the SERPs. For that purpose, the SEO tool for Excel will generate enough valid reports to help you plan your marketing strategy better.

Then, the customer journey and the customer experience are two defining factors in achieving success with your online business. Almost all major e-commerce websites offer call or chat support. Call support helps with conversions. Nextiva has a series of YouTube videos for beginners, explaining how to use the tool and how to get the best out of your reports.

Ultimately, Pivot tables will reveal in a simple, fast, accurate way if it’s worth investing in a mobile-only version for your website. And not only that. Go beyond my example and discover the relationship between sales, purchases, revenue, and trends.

Grab the business insights you need. Data can be turned into calls to action and used for competitive advantages, long-term goals, predictions of future user behavior, success rate analysis, and KPI restructuration. And revisit these examples any time you need.

Cloud Computing Trends to Watch in 2017

Cloud computing is a major technology trend that has become a buzzword in business circles. In a recent survey by IBM, 78% of companies said their cloud systems are fully integrated which is a major improvement from the 34% recorded in 2012. Meanwhile, 45% of workloads remain with on-premise solutions on dedicated servers.

You can avail the benefits of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms by reading detailed Financesonline.com reviews of leading solutions and selecting suitable ones for your needs. The global public cloud services market is predicted to grow 18% to $246.8 billion in 2017 from $209.2 billion last year. This boom is fueled by increasing corporate investments in public clouds as companies seek to integrate their on-premise systems with cloud offerings. As a result, hybrid cloud has become a preferred choice of innovative companies. Now, let’s take a look at the top cloud computing trends that are expected to rule the roost in 2017 and beyond.

Automated Data

Big data has become a major technology buzzword as companies look to analyze the tons of data they collect to get actionable insights from it. Cloud analytic apps are fueling this trend as they enable users to sort, store, and analyze data using automated processes. As a result, businesses expect to get deeper insights from the data with which they can make smarter business decisions.

Cognitive Computing

The growing sea of data accumulated by companies is often unusable and remains “dark”. Cognitive cloud solutions are helping businesses to make use of this “dark data”. These systems can learn, reason, and understand. Cognitive cloud solutions are thus expected to provide new experiences in a range of industries including airlines, healthcare, retail, and financial services.

Cloud without Servers

Cloud systems and capabilities mainly use server storage. But now, serverless cloud is being developed which means vendors can save costs on server maintenance resources such as network infrastructure. This is expected to reduce overall operating expenses. Besides lower cost, the other main advantage of serverless cloud computing is reduction in development time.

Enhanced Security

Reliable security is a major concern for potential cloud adopters. However, security for web-based solutions is expected to improve this year as companies are developing in-depth answers to major cloud security questions. This is expected to boost the cloud services market as more businesses will be convinced that cloud systems are indeed safe and secure.

Another trend is cloud vendors are utilizing cognitive capabilities to convert security loopholes into strengths. These solutions are designed using security intelligence and they generate hypotheses, reasoning based on evidence, and recommendations to improve decision making. For these reasons, cognitive security is expected to resolve skills gap, speed up responses, and reduce the complexity and cost of tackling cybercrime.

More Secure Transactions

In addition to better security, transactions made using cloud systems will also become safer. This is because encryption measures are becoming more sophisticated which makes it harder for hackers to crack the data passing through web-based networks. Thus, consumers can safely carry out financial and purchase transactions on cloud networks.

Use of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is an exciting peer-to-peer technology that promises to transform personal and business transactions. It is a reliable distributed ledger that is made secure by sophisticated cryptography. For this reason, it is considered a fail-proof system. Only selected participants can access the transaction details and each person is only allowed to see the data they are permitted to view inside a transaction.

Of late, a lot of companies and businesses are opting to use cloud blockchain technology. In fact, experts estimate that use of blockchain to improve global supply chains can help to improve efficiencies and save greater than $100 billion annually. The best blockchain systems are broadly accessible, easily scalable, and usable as cloud solutions or APIs.

Widespread Migration to Cloud Systems

Cloud is no longer considered a vague technology that could be understood only by IT experts. Today, businesses are expressing a keen interest to know about the advantages of cloud solutions and researching ways on how they can profitably migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud. The IT units of technologically savvy companies are actively planning and executing their cloud strategies to move into the digital age.

Culture Transformation

As more organizations migrate to the cloud, they need to transform more than technology. Businesses and IT developers need to embrace a changing culture that prioritizes collaboration and user experience. They need to experiment freely to develop innovative ideas about how they can make the best use of their cloud infrastructure.

Conclusion

Innovative companies are developing smart devices and apps to make the most of cloud technology. Cloud-based systems are becoming simpler yet smarter. Their growing power is therefore attracting more and more businesses. Feel free to share your feedback on this article as well as any other cloud computing trend you may have read about recently.

Ronald is a digital marketing specialist who has been working with a B2B company. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest on small business trends because of the nature of his work. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools To Increase Team Productivity

In recent years, the professional environment has evolved into an always connected, increasingly mobile place. This shift paved the way for freelancers and remote workers to thrive, and for some, to even become the lifeblood of business.

A Gallup poll says around 37% of workers in the U.S. have at least tried telecommuting, while staying as productive as other employees. The research also revealed that the average worker telecommutes at least two days in a month. Nowadays, work-from-home setups and distributed global offices can be as successful as your regular Wall Street conglomerate.

In order for your business to stay afloat even in the absence of a physical workplace, you need to harness the power of communication tools that places great emphasis on collaboration capabilities. Your usual devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets count as your main tools. Your broadband internet connection and your internet-powered communications provider serve as your actual gateway to your workplace.

If you’re on the lookout for a cloud platform that lets you collaborate with other team members within a virtual office environment, consider the following tools as your options.

Hubbion

Hubbion is by far the only completely free collaboration tool that offers unlimited collaboration among an unlimited number of users with no restriction whatsoever on the file sizes. Also, unlike a number of other collaboration tools in the market today, Hubbion does not restrict communication to one team of users. Instead, users may interact with multiple teams simultaneously and all projects that they are involved as a project creator, assignee or just as a participant are aggregated and may be viewed over one dashboard.

Glip

Acquired in 2015 by cloud communications leader RingCentral to complement its already powerful platform, Glip has made it easier for people to participate in team conversations via simple text chat and through typical collaboration capabilities such as instant file sharing, task management, calendars, and more. This online tool offers a free version, but existing subscribers of the RingCentral Office suite can also extend their phone system’s capabilities through click-to-call and quick directory controls that can be used in conjunction with Glip. It earns plus points for its intuitive, dedicated app that runs on virtually everything – on a desktop app, on Android or iOS devices, and yes, even on browsers (for those who hate installing stuff).

HipChat

This tool is particularly geared towards users of Atlassian products (especially JIRA). However, it can also be enjoyed by most collaborative teams since it offers simpler, cheaper pricing than most of its competitors. Users also praise it for its numerous integrations not normally found on other tools and the seemingly unlimited cap on file uploads. The UI also feels pretty much straightforward, and some have noticed how the tool keeps its “web-based” look and feel regardless of the client used. For simple team chats, HipChat could be a top contender.

Slack

On other team collaboration tools, users have to log out and log in each time they want to switch teams. Slack has found a way to address this so it’s become very ideal for freelancers who work on multiple projects or companies at a time using the same email address. Slack also gained the nod of several teams for its powerful search capabilities that even extends to file attachments. To top it off, Slack has a ton of investors behind it. Although this isn’t a product feature, you’re assured that the company behind it has the money for research and development – which usually translates to more features.

Zoho

Zoho offers an array of business productivity tools claiming that it’s your “operating system for business.” It delivers sales and marketing apps and business process apps, but its strength lies in its modular email and collaboration offering that makes project monitoring a whole lot easier. Although its features may sound too high-level, they’re pretty simple to use. You can plan projects with milestones, task lists, recurring tasks, subtasks, and the like. It can be very ideal for complex projects because the tool allows you to break them down into subtasks to make them more manageable. There’s also a dedicated bug tracker so you can tag and fix issues faster, making it more ideal for developers.

As with any other paid business solution, the perfect cloud collaboration tool for your team can’t just be based on what’s popular in the market right now or the cheapest among the lot. Some of the products mentioned above have certain advantages over another, so you have to carefully examine your options and find one that will work well with your existing workflow.

Author’s Bio:

Ronald is a digital marketing specialist for RingCentral, a leading cloud phone system solution. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest on small business trends because of the nature of his work. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

3 Legal Liability Issues for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is more than a buzzword, it’s a lifestyle. With smartphones, smart homes, smart tv’s, and more it seems like people want to be constantly connected. With new technology, however, comes a new approach to the legal liability part. IoT comes with challenges that require creative solutions. These can be partially addressed by thinking about the impact of first movers on non-standardized device creation. Here is what you need to know:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is more than a buzzword, it’s a lifestyle. With smartphones, smart homes, smart TVs, and more it seems like people want to be constantly connected.  With new technology, however, comes a new approach to the legal liability part. IoT comes with challenges that require creative solutions. These can be partially addressed by thinking about the impact of first movers on non-standardized device creation. Here is what you need to know:

1. Your Work, Your Product

Product liability is one of the first things to focus on when discussing its impact on the legal landscape. In doing this, an organization that creates technology needs to think ahead. First off, sometimes stuff break or end up not working right. This basic malfunction can cause a house thermometer to malfunction in the winter leaving a house without heat and causing the family to relocate. Secondly, if someone from the outside hacks into the product, they could take control of it and impact the lives of people in an unfortunate manner, such as accidents, human losses etc. Every scenario must be taken into account. Finally, the product or the server is hacked leading to stolen personal data. This can lead to identity theft, which exposes sensitive credit card information or identity information of any kind.

2. So Much IoT, So Little Time

Most of the time, liability needs to be traced back to the source of the problem. In the case of IoT, this is increasingly difficult. IoT development relies on incorporating multiple chips or devices interconnected between each other. This leads to a nightmare when trying to determine the legal root problem of a security breach.  For example, if your smartphone is connected to a chain of routers, this creates multiple “blind spots” from where an attack could occur.

According to legal experts at SteinPag, “the interconnectedness of IoT causes serious negligence issues. With so many parties involved, determining which device is at fault can be challenging. This means that as lawsuits arise, there is also a lot of finger-pointing involved. With the lack of solid laws at this point, finding standards of accountability is determined by adjudication.”

3. Go Speed-Racer

People crave more technology. This drives companies to create or design it. To meet demands means to consider that the creation process is moving much faster than the standards and regulations involved. While there are compliance laws and standards for traditional technology, the IoT landscape still lacks many of them. With no requirements, there’s no specific duty to which the devices can be held accountable for. Moreover, many of the companies driven to create these devices do not have the security built into the applications. This leads to a proliferation of vulnerable devices that are not held to any specific standards, making the connection to liability blurry.

As it appears, liability for IoT devices remains an uncharted territory, for the moment. Increasingly more people want to connect to smart devices, which is good business for many companies and startups, especially. However, IoT providers should pay more attention to the sensitivity nature of developing gadgets and devices, and make sure they meet regulations, in order to avoid lawsuits and liability issues.

Serverless Cloud Computing And Its Benefits

Serverless computing provides a platform which allows the developers to execute code in response to certain events without facing any complexity in building and maintenance of cloud infrastructure. These codes are usually used in conjunction with codes written in traditional server style, like microservices. For instance, part of web application can be written as both as microservices as well as serverless codes. These serverless codes are activated with the help of specific events such as registration with Amazon Cognito or can also be activated by configuring to run behind an Application Programming Interface (API) platform.

Even though there is a word “serverless” in the term “serverless computing”, but it should be remembered that this platform does require servers to run the code. The word “serverless” is used to signify that, the organization or an individual does not need to purchase, rent or provision any server or even virtual machines to develop an application.

One of the attraction of serverless computing deployment is that the cloud customer need to pay, only for the service usage and not for any of the cost associated with idle time or down-time. 

Benefits of serverless computing

It is important to understand that despite the old way of computing which works fine, why would a developer go through the trouble of building a software through serverless computing. The following benefits are the key reasons which can provide an explanation for this.

Simplified management of operations

Serverless computing platforms are meant to provide clear distinction between the infrastructure services and the applications that are running at the upper end of the platform. Thus, the automatic scaling functionality of serverless computing (also known as Function as a Service) not only helps in reducing the computing cost, but also helps in reducing the operational management overheads. Thus, it allows the System engineers and the Software Requirement Engineers to focus on managing and running the underlying platform along with the core services like load balancers and databases.

Packaging and deploying a serverless computing system is easier as compared to the deployment of an entire server. As serverless computing system has no requirement of continuous delivery, continuous integration, and containerization tool thus, enabling the developers to write the code directly in the vendor console and therefore, there is no need of system administration in case of fully serverless solutions.

Reduction in operational cost

Serverless computing saves money, in terms of both, the computing power as well as the human resources. For a developer, it is important to understand that in case of serverless computing you need to pay only for the time your function or functions are running and since, you don’t run the app 24/7, this is a considerable cost saving.

From the perspective of a big company with the huge collection of apps, APIs and microservices, there is continuous resource utilization, no matter whether those resources are currently in use or not. With the help of serverless computing, the company can execute the function for any number of apps in demand and share all the resources, without running the apps 24/7 thus, it reduces idle time to almost zero and provides a fast response time. Therefore, with the introduction of serverless computing, the days of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for servers are gone.

Ease of innovation

Serverless computing has alleviated the problems of system engineering and its underlying platform, thus making it easy for product engineers to innovate at a rapid pace. This less time for operations translates into a smooth application of agile methodologies.

Serverless computing can handle the regular concerns of the internet facing applications such as identity management, storage, etc. Thus, with the ease of innovation through serverless computing due to its various features, it’s not a dream but the reality that product engineers can thereby focus on developing the actual business logic of the application.

An interesting fact about serverless computing is that, it is not meant to replace the existing delivery models rather, it complements them. The world’s largest online media streaming provider, Netflix planned to reduce the rate of errors and save time by replacing the inefficient processes and use AWS lambda to build rule based self-managing infrastructure. Thus, serverless computing seems to provide a promising future in the betterment of computing scenario.

Quantum Cryptography: The ‘Key’ To Perfect Security?

Since the dawn of the computer era with the Apple I, the need for security has been crucial. Although simple encryption was strong enough to fend off some of the first real hackers, the popularization and advancement of technology in our society has made even the strongest means of encryption all but null in comparison.

However, for the last few years scientists have been working on what they believe to be the future of encryption, and a way to ensure encrypted files are completely unhackable no matter what they face. Although some skeptics speculate that this form of cryptography has its flaws like any other, the future is bright with this new means of data security, and the likelihood of a brighter future is all but sealed in exchange. However, to know just how this form of encryption could alter the way we secure our data forever, we must first know exactly what it is, determine whether it truly is unhackable, and back these statements with evidence presented through testing of the actual encryption itself.

What is quantum cryptography?

Quantum cryptography is the science of exploiting quantum mechanical properties to perform cryptographic tasks. One of the most popular forms of quantum cryptography is quantum key distribution, which is where two parties use a shared secret key to encrypt and decrypt messages between them.

The main reason that this form of cryptography is so effective is the fact that it allows the completion of multiple cryptographic tasks that were otherwise proven or conjectured to be impossible using other forms of non-quantum communication. There are multiple different ways that this form of cryptography can be used, including quantum commitment, quantum coin flipping, bounded- and noisy-quantum-storage model, position-based quantum cryptography, device-independent quantum cryptography, and post-quantum cryptography.

However, although many have claimed that these different procedures are utterly unhackable in the past, many of these systems have been proven to be flawed in multiple ways, leaving them completely open to even the weakest hackers out there in a matter of seconds. The main reason for this is the fact that the code can be easily written incorrectly and, in turn, can quite easily lead to a data breach.

In fact, despite this seeming to be a completely unhackable, tried and true solution to the issue of data security, it appears to be far from it at this point in time. However, the question remains: if it were done correctly, would it actually be unhackable?

Is it actually unhackable?

In short, the answer is simply “no”. However, this does not mean that this will be the case indefinitely. In fact, many scientists believe its flaws all come in the form of simple careless human errors in the basic code that creates these cryptographic methods. For instance, on the subject, physicist Renato Renner from the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Zurich stated, “If you build it correctly, no hacker can hack the system. The question is what it means to build it correctly.”

Although we have quite a ways to go, testing continues to occur and, as with all technological advancements, things are certainly looking up for the fans and advocates behind this rather innovative form of data security. In fact, in September of last year, a group of scientists, engineers, and pilots tested quantum cryptography using photon detection in an airplane. These scientists were able to receive encrypted messages through photons from the ground below with ease, making them the first to prove quantum cryptography’s success when used in long distance situations. This test further reveals its ability to be used for things other than point-of-presence technology, as it makes its way towards military applications.

Therefore, although this form of encryption may be currently hackable due to weak keys and mistakes in coding, the likelihood of this form of encryption becoming the norm is extremely high. In turn, the world may be changed forever, and the safety of our most personal information may be an afterthought in the long run.

How can it impact our world?

Although the use of this form of cryptography in the military is already an important factor to keep in mind, this is far from the only way that quantum cryptography can be used. Another massive industry that may be positively affected by this form of data encryption is the job industry. For big companies, the data they receive is not only private, but also highly valuable as well. Because of this, the way this data is secured is extremely important. For instance, if an individual chooses to utilize a system such as FileMaker in the cloud, this completely opens up their company and all of their data to cyber attacks. However, using quantum key distribution, these pieces of data being transferred back and forth can be quickly and meticulously encrypted to ensure their security — no matter what the case scenario is. Because of this particular use, quantum cryptography is an amazing example of workplace cyber security.

Similarly, some scientists believe they can utilize this form of encryption to create networking equipment dedicated to the security of any and all transferred messages throughout entire companies. Although this is a technology that appears to be something we will not successfully achieve until much further in the future, the idea of being able to encrypt messages without doing any work in the process is yet another way that this form of cryptography makes for a highly enticing security future.

Lastly, another way that this form of security may be used in the future is for telemedicine and various other technologies in the healthcare industry. Recently, the use of technology and advancement in healthcare has become an issue of much concern, as multiple individuals have feared that connecting the health of individuals to the cloud could lead to hazards, and even deaths, in the process. From heart monitors leading to the instant death of multiple individuals, all the way to VR attacks on headsets used specifically to rehabilitate stroke victims, quantum cryptography could eliminate these deadly possibilities.

The use of encryption to secure a patient’s information and forms of healthcare is what makes quantum cryptography so enticing to healthcare professionals. By encrypting forms of healthcare which utilize technology such as heart monitors and VR headsets, and by examining the technologies used to create things such as medical images and store personal patient information, quantum cryptography can completely transform the way we look at healthcare as a whole.

In the end, these are only a few examples out of many. The truth is that this form of encryption could very well lead to a brighter future for our country, if built correctly. After all, it takes one big idea to change the world forever, and even the smallest of people can make the biggest of dents.

Reasons Why the Samsung Galaxy S8 May Be The Smartphone You’ll Want This Year

With the upcoming release of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the advanced features of the phone, there is only one thing on people’s minds: is it worth it? There is a lot of discussions about which smartphone will steal the crown this year, and the Samsung Galaxy is one of the top contenders.

Before we delve into that, though, let us review the roster of phones that is going to be released this year like the Apple iPhone 8, Google Pixel 2, HTC 11, Nokia 8, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 & Galaxy Note 8. These phones promise an improved performance, much faster than their predecessors and longer battery life. And this time, people know what to look for because other than those improvements, they are also expecting better graphics and a more intuitive and sleek design.

Which brings us back to the Samsung Galaxy S8. The flagship smartphone is highly anticipated and it is coming out before the iPhone 8 at tech stores like Harvey Norman –  and everywhere else. So here we list down the features of the Samsung Galaxy S8 which you might want to consider when looking at your options this year.

Intelligent digital assistant

If the Apple iPhone has Siri, the Samsung Galaxy S8 will have Bixby. It is also an AI, a voice-powered digital assistant that is reportedly more powerful than Siri. It has three main parts: Bixby Voice, Bixby Vision, and Bixby Home. You can trigger Bixby by pressing on button or calling with the Bixby Voice. The Bixby Vision will allow Bixby to “see” what you can see through the built-in camera and can do tasks like identifying objects or scanning QR codes. Wih Bixby Home, you can get access to various information by swiping right from the home screen like fitness activity or the weather.

Wireless charging

Yes, no more dangling and tangling wires. This is probably one of the biggest innovations in any smartphone flagship. The slap on battery pack offered by Samsung would mean that charging our phones will not be as frustrating, what with all the ruckus about using the right wire and whatnot. At the same time, this is a feature that the Apple iPhone has not yet adapted. There are rumours though, that initially, wireless charging will be featured on the iPhone 8 but is now being scrapped. We will never know for sure until the unboxing event of Apple, but right now, it is looking like the Samsung flagship phone has improved on it.

Headphone jack

Apple may think that they are being revolutionary with their earpods, and it is true, it is innovative; however, it is posing to be more of a problem for users than a feature they want to be excited about. No one wants to lose their headphones, whether they are expensive or cheap, it is such a hassle. So not only is Samsung providing cool new headphones with its purchase of Harman last year, it is also a 3.5mm jack. You can keep your Beats or Bose, because the 3.5mm connector is here to stay, at least for the S8.

Snapdragon 835

The Snapdragon exclusivity of Samsung may bode well for the S8. This time, the Samsung will be released with a Snapdragon 835 and the Exynos 8895 variant. However, a lot of people are excited about the Snapdragon variants. It promises a faster mobile performance, alternate reality exploration, machine learning capabilities, battery efficiency, and more.

Are you pumped for the new Samsung Galaxy S8? Well, we are, too! And to think, these are just a couple of its features that are keeping everyone at the edge of their seats.

Tesla Model S: Is It Really The World’s Quickest Car Ever?

Tesla was, is, and probably will continue to be a hot subject in the automotive universe. While it’s not the first electric car manufacturer out there, it’s certainly the most iconic one, largely due to its daring approach and numerous innovations it brought to the field. Tesla has revolutionized the world of electric vehicles already, and it has no intention of stopping anytime soon. However, while some of its achievements cannot be contested in any way,there are times when misleading facts and figures get thrown around by the media. Here’s the perfect example.

The plot

The Tesla Model S P100D was recently titled “the world’s quickest car ever” by several online new outlets and magazines.

The context

Claims about the Model S P100D being the fastest car ever starter appearing online after Motor Trend performed some tests using a Model S P100D following a software update the car received. While the update was supposed to cut down its acceleration time to roughly 2.5 seconds for 0 to 60 miles per hour, Motor Trend’s tests concluded a time of 2.28 seconds, which boosted the Tesla in the first position of the top, outclassing supercars such as Ferrari LaFerrari, Lamborghini Aventador and even the renowned Bugatti Veyron.

So, is the Tesla Model S P100D really the world’s quickest car ever? Let’s have a closer look.

“Quickest Car Ever” Explained

The terms “quickest car ever” are fairly vague, and consist of some variables. In the automotive industry, the quickness of a car is based on two main elements: acceleration and top speed.

Acceleration is usually measured by the time it takes the car to get to 60 miles per hour (100 km per hour) from a standstill. Some tests also include additional parameters, such as 0 to 120 miles per hour (200 km per hour), and 0 to top speed. The time is measured in seconds, and the lower it is, the faster the car is, and thus the higher spot it takes in comparison charts.

Top speed is another defining element of a car’s performance, and as it names suggests, it refers to the top speed the car is capable of reaching. Once again, the higher the figure, the better the car ranks.

Tesla’s Figures

Taking advantage of one key advantage electric motors have over conventional combustion engines – instant delivery of power, Tesla focused its advertising on the acceleration element. Tesla vehicles were never marketed as sports cars, despite their impressive performance, so their top speed was not a key selling point, but their acceleration was. The carefully calibrated motors that are driving the front and rear wheels of the car allow for the instant delivery of power to the wheels, so the car can accelerate really fast. Depending on the version, 0 to 60 mph acceleration can be achieved anywhere between an unimpressive 5.9 seconds, for the first versions, all the way up to 2.28 seconds for the latest version. An average acceleration within the 3 second ballpark is to be expected from most Model S Teslas.

The case in question, of the fastest Tesla, was achieved using the top-of-the-line Tesla P100D, a model that comes with 4 wheel drive and a 100 kWh battery, using the Ludicrous + mode. In case you’re not up to date with Tesla tech, the Ludicrous mode is a software option that improves acceleration times at the cost of reduced mileage. The Ludicrous + mode was an extreme version of the mode, available as a purchasable software upgrade.

Although the official numbers for the Ludicrous + are 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds, putting Tesla a little behind supercars such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis, tests carried out by Motor Trend have shown a slightly different result – the Tesla Model S P100D set in Ludicrous + mode can hit 60 in less than 2.3 seconds. It only needs 2.28 seconds, to be precise, officially making Tesla the fastest accelerating production vehicle.

Verdict

So, if the Tesla Model S really the world’s quickest car ever? It all depends on where you’re looking from. In terms of pure acceleration, it is outclassed only by the Porsche 918 Spyder, which pumps out an impressive 2.2 seconds for 0 to 60 mph. In terms of top speed, the Model S is not even in the top 15.

However, the Tesla Model S does hold some impressive records. If we’re talking about production vehicles, it is the quickest car in the world, as the previously mentioned Porsche 918 Spyder was produced in a limited series.

So, to be factually correct, no, the Tesla Model S is not the world’s quickest car ever. It is the quickest accelerating production car in the world, which is just as impressive.

Innovative Technology – Are Lasers Really A Mosquito-Zapping Gizmo?

Laser technology has come a very long way. Many industries use it for various different purposes. From using lasers in medicine and printing all the way to killing mosquitoes, there’s no doubt that the technology has advanced tremendously. For many centuries we’ve dealt with the burden of catching mosquitoes using different devices. In underdeveloped countries, the issue still persists because mosquitoes are the cause to one of the world’s most t dangerous diseases: malaria.

Mosquito laser technology, or the “bug zapper”

A recent report issued in The Wall Street Journal, talks about a new project that involves using laser to kill mosquitoes of all sorts and kinds. Dubbed the “Weapon of Mosquito Destruction” (WMD), the project aims at making the technology go mainstream. This way, lasers can be used to eradicate mosquitoes and stop the spread of malaria. A venture company called Intellectual Ventures, sponsors the “photonic fence” project, and it strongly believe that it will succeed. Former CTO at Microsoft, and owner of Intellectual Ventures, Nathan Myhrvold, calls the laser system the “bug zapper”. Basically, the technology is based on locating mosquitoes, and then lasers are fired in their direction and “toasts” them.

The project’s research team is currently working on perfecting the technology. It still need proper target algorithm optimization so as to detect mosquitoes in time, before they can get contact with the human body. According to the developers, the goal is to use the laser system to set a perimeter defense, thus protecting everyone within that perimeter, and completely banishing mosquitoes from going in.

Why a mosquito-zapping gizmo might be better than malaria vaccination

The makers of the “bug zapper” emphasize that above everything else, they are hardcore inventors. They do it for fun, for profit, and for a need to make a different and help tackle a very specific issue. In this case, malaria, which is a very serious disease. With the “bug zapper”, they believe the number of deaths in underdeveloped African countries can be severely reduced. The bug zapper was made in a femtosecond laser lab. Basically, it creates very short light pulses (femtosecond pulses).

One of the core purposes of the bug zapper is to protect the clinics. Since many are packed with people already suffering from malaria, the laser technology can protect it by killing mosquitoes before they go in. The system can also be used for other purposes. Farmers can use it to protect their farms, and ordinary people can have it installed in their homes to protect their crops, backyards and loved ones.

Since the bug zapper is still a prototype, the makers argue that the technology used constantly changes. They want to perfect it and use nonlethal lasers to listen to a mosquito’s wing beat frequency. Then it measures the size of the bug and shots to kill.

Hunting mosquitoes with lasers – a brilliant piece of technology that might change the world

The beauty of IVL’s mosquito-zapping technology is the manufacturing costs involved. The makers claim that it’s very cheap, and yet so powerful. The fence-like laser system only makes use on non-lethal lasers that are completely harmless in humans. It is smart enough to monitor the type of bug entering the perimeter, and if the insect spot is not in the system, it is left alone.

Using the technology to control the mosquito population can mean a lot to the health industry. The spread of malaria is stopped, and if they manage to achieve their target, the laser system can be perfect for a wealth of other purposes. At this point, humanity faces many severe challenges – hunger, poverty, health, energy, and more. Laser technology can help tackle some of these concerns.

From laser engraving and etching to keep track of medical equipment to laser devices that perform more precise surgeries without putting the health of the patient in danger, there’s no doubt that the industry has advanced. Increasingly more companies are seeking a laser engraving service to ease production and craft better products. The future is bright for this sector, and if the bug zapper goes mainstream, other companies will probably expand on the idea, and use it to kill other harmful insects, not just malaria-causing mosquitoes.