Stealing data via a desktop telephone?

Data protection is a hot topic. In many countries worldwide new data protection laws are implemented. These laws are created to ensure that personal data as stored and processed by companies and organizations will be protected against theft and modification.

A well-known example is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as approved by the EU last year, which will become active in 2018. It will become law in all member countries. It is not a directive which can have different interpretations and timelines per country but will be the same law in all member states.

Data protection regulation is relevant when data can identify or provide information about a specific person. Personal data can be anything. Names, addresses, etc. of course. But also photos, financial documents or medical data. And – taking the European laws as an example – not just for the data owner, but also for third parties processing the data (e.g. cloud service providers) on his behalf. It also means that most regulation crosses international borders. The EU regulation applies to all companies who process personal data of European citizens.

What does data protection regulation cover? Typically, companies need to have a proper administration of which data are stored where (including local spreadsheets with customer data). They also should make it possible for customers to have their data erased and the design of their systems should guarantee data protection (called ‘privacy by design’). Finally, they have to inform the regulator and public about data breaches that occurred and penalties are increased to the level which can mean a serious financial risk for a company.

However, it is not just about your data infrastructure

Of course, everything is data nowadays. Also, voice telephony is a data service, and that is specifically the case for VoIP infrastructures and services as deployed in many companies and organizations. We noticed however that the key focus of many data protection projects is on traditional ICT infrastructures. VoIP is often a blind spot.

While…it is also about voice communications

Ignoring VoIP could mean a serious mistake, however. Let’s have a look for example at a medical institute. Patients definitely don’t like the idea that their information becomes public. Nevertheless, the phone can provide easy access to these data. First of all, a modern desktop telephone provides access to the complete contact list of the user of that extension. A customer list, or – in the medical institute – the list of patients for example. This is just a beginning. The desktop phone also gives direct access to the voicemail system, which may disclose some very sensitive information. For example, if one medical specialist shares his diagnosis with a colleague. The biggest risk is however that office phones are the perfect social engineering tool. If someone has unauthorized access to a business telephone, just his caller ID makes him a trusted person to other employees of the organization as well as staff from other organizations. This trusted personal contact is the best way to acquire sensitive information and other personal data.

So, are your business telephones secured?

Most people think that advanced business desktop telephones can be secured by a PIN or something similar. Which is true. However, this security is often not used. The security mechanism most of the time means that employees have to enter a username (for example an email address) and PIN via the very basic keypad of their telephone, which is a very inconvenient procedure. So in many occasions, once logged in, people keep their phones logged in as long as possible. Or the login mechanism is disabled completely. There are examples of professional service managers actually giving such advice to their end-users.

The impact is that many office telephones provide open access to private and other sensitive data. Not at a level that millions of customer or patient records can be downloaded at once. But still, via the telephone, private documents and other information can be stolen from your organization right now. Therefore, protecting your office telephones may be an essential step in your companies data security plans.

Cloud Computing Trends To Watch Out In 2017

Over the past decade, cloud computing has evolved to become a ubiquitous tool for developers and users alike. Businesses of all sizes have migrated to the cloud over the past few years, whether they choose to use private or public cloud solutions. But now that the cloud has become a widely accepted component of our daily computing lives, what is the next step? In 2017, you can expect to see cloud computing evolve and become increasingly efficient. Here are a few of the top trends to watch for this year.

Greater enterprise migration

Forrester research envisions that the biggest trend this upcoming year is an increase in enterprises. Boosts to security and an array of benefits for businesses means that the cloud is prepared for enterprises. Enterprises have larger budgets, complex applications, and correspondingly complex needs. While in the past cloud platforms were still growing in scope, this year they’re mature and secure enough to please even the most cautious enterprises.

Services on a regional level

Although more enterprises will be migrating to the cloud this year, they may not necessarily commit to one provider. Many users are opting to work with a variety of different providers in order to create a more personalized end solution. This means that there will be an increased demand for cloud services at the regional level, as well as the larger companies. The public cloud market is expected to grow at a rapid rate, including services from tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Yet at the same time, smaller providers will be there to fill in the coverage gaps to ensure all enterprises benefit from customized solutions.

Shift to containers

A major trend from 2016 was the use of containers to help manage software code for cloud apps. These Linux containers will be an integrated component of most public and private cloud platform throughout next year. This allows developers to manage their own micro-services, which is useful on many levels.

Integrated security

Cybersecurity is at the top of everyone’s wish list when it comes to any new application. Major telco cloud providers like Nokia Networks have vastly improved their ability to provide security at all levels, and smaller providers are following suit. Expect to see all cloud solutions offering built-in, fully integrated security features with a data-centric focus.  Security features must be built into each layer of cloud infrastructure to protect users from costly breaches.

Reduction in costs

Finally, along with the growth of ever more efficient, secure cloud services comes a drop in pricing. This will open up the cloud to nearly everyone. As it becomes more cost-effective to create cloud services and apps, consumers and enterprises alike will reap the benefits. Because there’s a blend of both big-name public cloud service providers and smaller niche providers, you can mix and match these offerings and scale them up or down as needed. Cloud costs should be more readily contained in 2017, helping the industry to grow even further.

Why App Reviews Are Essential to Designers

You’ve finally launched your app, and you’re waiting for the five-star reviews to start loading. Why wouldn’t everyone else love your app as much as you do? And with app use on the rise, it makes sense to jump into this market. The only issue- it’s a saturated market.

Both Google and Apple applications have just over 2 million available apps each. So, how can you gain more visibility from your app? One way is through the reviews and ratings you receive. And, despite what you may have seen or heard, the more–the better. In today’s market, consumers have a preference for individualized, real reviews over advertising. Of course, good reviews will make your app stand out even more. Nonetheless, we will explain why app reviews are essential to designers.

For discovery

Reviews and ratings are used as metadata for search. Depending on the types of news stories breaking in the tech world this week, ratings may even categorize your app in search results. When a customer types in a keyword such as “crossword puzzle,” you can imagine that all of the crossword puzzle games–with the most reviews–will start to populate the search engine results.

Moreover, you’ll see the ones with the best ratings on top. Search engines want to provide their users with the best experience–this means giving them the best products and services first.

App Reviews

For downloading

When you search for new apps, which ones do you download? Do you download the one with no reviews or the one with multiple reviews? When two apps are similar, most consumers will download the app with either the most reviews and/or the best reviews.

As those stars light up, so do your chances of getting more downloads. It gets your app noticed. If you have the same or a similar number of ratings as another app, then the average user will download the app with the better ratings.

How reviews affect your app ranking

As an app designer, you might read your reviews on a daily basis. It’s essential to being discovered, downloaded and purchased. Not to mention, reviews and ratings help you to show up for relevant key terms. As a result, apps with ratings lower than 3 stars had a much lower ranking that more highly-reviewed applications. Here is a breakdown of what affects your app ranking in both the Google and Apple app stores:

  • The quality of ratings and reviews
  • Number of uninstalls
  • Number of reviews
  • Number of downloads
  • How much your app is used
  • Landing page keyword density
  • App growth

Ratings by system

  1. Google–Reviews are local but star ratings affect average rating value, regardless of the location of the user. As a developer, you can reply to all reviews and they are visible to everyone in the Play Store. The only caveat is reviews will never expire, even those for an older version of your app.
  2. iOS–Reviews and ratings are version-specific. This means that when you publish an updated version of your app, most of the previous reviews disappear. Reviews are local. This means that reviews given by Japanese users are only visible to Japanese users, for instance. The rating is also local. To illustrate, the same app might be a 3.5/5 in the United States and 3.0/5 in Japan. You can’t reply to any of your reviews.
  3. Windows–You can reply to all reviews. Replies are also private and sent directly to the reviewer’s email address. The average rating is local and only visible to a specific country’s users. Reviews never expire.

App Reviews

Feedback helps to improve your work

Certainly, you wouldn’t publish an app unless you thought it was amazing. If only everyone else felt the same way. While you may have many fans, there will be critics. And, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Your app is supposed to appeal to your target audience. If it isn’t doing so, then you’ll find out quickly. This is especially true if users get specific such as reporting bugs or even having issues with a crashing app and a battery drain. These are important issues that you should fix if you find an overwhelming number of reviews discussing the same problems. Otherwise, you will continue to get bad reviews.

Then, there are the positive reviews. We’re not talking about the one your mom or dad wrote. These are good and real reviews showing you did something right, and you provided something your users actually want. It’s always nice to get positive feedback. Since user retention is so critical in the app world, you might encourage users to return by regularly adding exciting new features.

Final Thought

Even with the best intentions, we can sometimes fall short. On the other hand, we can knock our app out of the park. Regardless of how well your app is received, don’t be afraid of reviews and ratings. You need them for rankings and to help make the most of your work.

New Blackberry Model With Hybrid Resistive/Capacitive Touchscreen In Works?

Is RIM working on a new Blackberry model that will come with a hybrid touchscreen display technology? That indeed appears to be the case going by a recent patent application made public by the company. In the filing titled “TOUCH-SENSITIVE DISPLAY WITH CAPACITIVE AND RESISTIVE TOUCH SENSORS AND METHOD OF CONTROL”, RIM describes a touchscreen technology that will detect whether the touch input carries characteristics of a capacitive or resistive input and will perform functions based on these inputs.

The patent application reads,

“When the force applied to the touch-sensitive display exceeds the force threshold that causes the resistive touch sensors to contact each other, a touch is detected via the resistive touch-sensitive overlay and the resistive touch-sensitive controller. The resistive location of the touch is determined utilizing the resistive touch sensors of the resistive touch-sensitive overlay. The resistive touch sensors effectively determine the center of the force of the touch. The force threshold that causes the resistive touch sensors to contact each other is known.

The capacitive touch-sensitive overlay includes capacitive touch sensors separated by a barrier. The overlay may also include a substrate, a ground shield, a barrier on which one of the capacitive touch sensors is disposed, and a cover disposed on the other capacitive touch sensor.”

RIM Touchscreen

While this definitely sounds like an interesting technology, I wonder if there is any use case for such a device. What do you think?

iPad 2 To Be Launched In A Few Hours

The long wait is over. In a few hours from now, Apple is all set to unveil the iPad 2 and unlike its predecessor, this tablet is going to be made available straight away. The media is already at Cupertino as they wait for the second generation tablet to be launched at Apple’s head office. As expected, this one will have a 1.2 GHz processor, high speed connectivity and a slimmer look. Now we will have to wait and see if there are two cameras or only the front camera.

In between all this hype and excitement, there are a few who claim that this second generation would not have any surprises and in fact could turn out to be a dud. However, some sources unknown claim that it is the iPad 3 that is worth waiting for as this surely would take everyone by surprise.

Well for now, let’s concentrate on iPad 2, shall we?

Will iPad 2 Debut With A Lower Price Than Its Predecessor?

It’s now confirmed, the iPad 2 will be unveiled by Apple on Wednesday, which is the day after tomorrow. We have been discussing a lot about the hardware of the iPad 2, what new add-ons it would have etc. But would we be really happy if the iPad 2 were to come out with the expected add-ons and nothing more? Surely, not one tablet I would want to buy if Apple were to do that. But, there is every possibility that Apple would go for a price cut, at least by 100$ on the second generation Apple tablet.

If you are contemplating why, here’s the logic. When Apple first launched the iPad an year ago, it had no idea to what would be the success rate of the tablet. But, Jobs has that Midas Touch and the iPad was an unusual success with Apple selling almost 10 million tablets in 2010. Apple now plans to sell at least 60 million pieces in the next financial year for which to happen, a price slash is inevitable.

Is it iPad 2 or iPad 1.5?

Sources have revealed that Apple would be launching the second generation of its coveted iPad along with the iOS 4.3 on March 2nd. But hang on a second, there is a twist to the tale here as the second generation tablet could after all be only a revived iPad which would be called iPad 1.5 rather than iPad 2. Sources have revealed that the reason for this is issues with production as Apple may not be able to deliver the required add-ons to the tablet yet (the camera to the front might actually be missing in this version).

So, Apple would only be going ahead with a standby version and as John Gruber predicted, we could actually see Apple launching the third generation iPad in September which could actually be the real iPad 2. So for now, let’s just play the guessing game until Wednesday.

iPad 2 And iOS 4.3 on Mar 2?

The latest buzz is that Apple is planning to launch both the second generation iPad and the next version of iOS on March 2 which co-incidentally is a Wednesday. Knowing Apple’s Wednesday sentiment, this could well be true. Also, there have been reports that Steve Jobs‘ health is declining day by day, so Jobs himself would want to see a quicker launch of his babies on which he has worked personally as well. Also, one can expect iOS 4.3 to come out on the same day as Apple definitely would not want to launch the iPad 2 running on iOS 4.2.1.

The beta version of the iOS 4.3 was released on January 12, a week later the iOS 4.3 beta 2 was also released which was followed by the release of beta 3 on February 4 which dealt with a few bugs in the beta 2 version.

Fingers crossed fellas. Let’s hope that this time the rumor about the launch date is true.

Magic Wand To Couple Apple Keyboard and Trackpad

How would you like it if your keyboard and trackpad were to be adjoined to each other? The idea sounds great, does it not? Apparently you can use Magic Wand to do the same. Well! It is not something that you would be waving, in fact it is a mini mount that would help attach the trackpad to Apple‘s keyboard. This non-electrical mini mount is being made available by Twelve South which would enable one club the two wireless devices to be used without the need of a separate table for the two. Also, another unique and lovable feature of the Magic Wand is that it’s ambidextrous, meaning that the trackpad can be fitted either to the left or right of the keyboard making it convenient for both left and right arm users.

The mount costs only 30$ along with a free delivery option.

iPhone 4 Wins The Best Mobile Device Award

So, what if Apple did not take part in this year’s Mobile World Congress at Barcelona, it still hogged the limelight. Apple’ iPhone 4 has won the Best Mobile Device Award for the year 2011. This award was announced earlier today at the Mobile World Congress by the Global Mobile Awards. Apple made its presence felt despite being absent from this year’s show beating several other competitors whose smartphones were also considered for the Award.
The judges after awarding Apple the coveted Award commented that the iPhone 4 had a “Great screen, sharp design, fantastic materials, and phenomenal ecosystem for app developers. In a tight race, the iPhone 4 built on the success of its predecessors to set the pace for smart phones.”

Ironically, rumors are now spreading like wild fire that Steve Jobs looks extremely pale and may not be surviving the next weeks.