The ever increasing cyber security challenge

One of the greatest changes in the last 10 years is that as a society we have become very reliant on being connected. This offers many benefits but also leads to a major security threat, and a recent IDC survey of over 1,300 businesses found that IT security has become their top priority for the year.

Ten years ago a cyber attack would have most likely been an annoyance. A computer worm would infect our PCs, and perhaps delete a few files. Nobody made much money out of that, with the exception being the security vendors who sold anti-virus software.

Today, targeted attacks are initiated and conducted by malicious insiders, professional criminals and even foreign government agencies. They have a very direct and real impact on a business’s bottom line, and on businesses’ brands. 

Targeted attacks can also cause real disruption to a country’s infrastructure and utilities. 

Furthermore, the borderless nature of the internet also makes it very difficult for law enforcement to pursue and charge cyber criminals, and our reliance on being connected is only going to increase – raising the security risk.  

Governments and businesses must have several key elements in place to defend against targeted attacks. Firstly, they need a robust data classification process that shows the importance of different elements of data and how they must be protected. Then they need the data protection itself, for the different classification levels. 

Identity and access management are also crucial in making sure only the right people have access to the right data at the right time. Transparency is equally vital: including active participation in bodies that encourage greater information sharing on cyber threats.

Outside and inside threats

The main threats most businesses face in today’s connected economy are targeted attacks. These are deliberate attacks conducted by professional cyber criminals aimed at either making money from the attack or retaliation against businesses’ recent activities. Today’s cyber criminals have the means to engage in protracted campaigns against a single or multiple businesses.

Cyber criminals also have a vast array of reconnaissance tools at their disposal to prepare for an attack, and one of the primary tools is social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Information gained from these sites, such as employees working at a particular business, their job titles, and even when they are on holiday, can all be used as a platform to launch an attack.

Another facet of a targeted attack can stem from a legitimate business employee: the malicious insider, and it can be argued that the malicious insider is perhaps more dangerous than a cyber criminal – a business’s employee already has access to the infrastructure and data. Should that employee choose to become malicious, it would be very easy to steal and expose or sell data. Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s famous revelation, that the agency was harvesting citizen phone call data and snooping on foreign leaders, is a prime example of how much damage one person can do to an organisation.

Web warfare 

A country’s national infrastructure and utilities face similar threats to that of businesses. 

In addition to the cyber criminal and the potential of a malicious insider, targeted attacks on national infrastructure and utilities can also originate from government agencies seeking to disrupt a foreign nation it views as hostile. 

An example of this type of attack is the Stuxnet virus, allegedly created by the US and Israeli agencies to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Given a country’s economic reliance on being connected, particularly with regards to developed nations, cyberwar is a very real threat. 

In the future, cyber attacks will be used as a fourth method of attack – the others being Air, Land and Sea. A very recent example of this was during the recent Crimea tension: at its most heightened period, there was a signifiant increase in the number and severity of cyber attacks between Russia and Ukraine.

As the global environment changes, the defence against national cyber attacks, criminal attacks and insider threats will be key to security. Organisations recognise the threat, but must effect very extensive work if they are to meet the challenge.

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The Ultimate Guide to Building a Fast Blog and Why it Matters

A Detailed Guide to Optimize Your Website Load Speed
Speed matters!
High quality content, inbound links and easy navigation are not enough to make your blog or website successful. Internet users today expect a website to load as fast as possible. They really feel cheated by blogs that take a very long time to respond to their web requests.
When it comes to your user’s site  experience and position in search engines, how fast your website loads is a vital factor.
In this post, I’ve covered everything you should know about how to build a fast loading blog and website: why it matters, what are the tools to test it, and what practices you should follow to building a fast blog!

Why speed matters

User experience:

It’s a well known fact if a website takes too long to load; a visitor is more likely to move on to other website (most likely competitors). With the increased internet speed, usage and accessibility, today’s users expect the fastest and most reliable online experience. Everyone has “very limited time” to surf the internet and no one likes to wait on a web page to load.
So, what’s the time limit for a visitor to felicitously wait for loading a web page? Previously it was considered that maximum waiting time should be less than seven seconds. But today, in the world of improved technology, users expect a web page (with simple content) to completely load within two seconds or less. And if a web page takes more than two seconds to load, chances are up to 40% of users may leave your site.

AdWords quality score:

Maybe you’re not aware of this, but the speed of your website can actually impact your Quality Score. Google knows very well that customers are likely to convert on a faster website, so they’ve put more emphasis on the landing page loading speed. If the performance of your landing page is dull, then your Quality Score will suffer.
Apart from this, Quality Score drives your CPC campaigns. It means faster loading speed can help you reduce your advertising costs. In short, faster page load speed results into higher quality score, and higher quality score leads to enhanced spending efficiency and more reach.

Organic rankings:

In 2010, Google had announced that page load speed would be an important factor in determining the ranking of websites in search engine results. Google algorithm makes use of multiple factors to determine where to rank your website in search engine result pages. Some of these factors are evaluation of the legitimacy of the website itself (like number of quality inbound links and age of the domain name), while others are related to a webpage content itself (like title, description, text, URL etc.).
However, after the announcement of Google, it became crucial for website owners to improve their page load time. So if you care about getting ranked higher and more traffic from Google, you should improve your website website’s performance. Though fast load time isn’t a huge ranking factor, but it’s quite important.

Mobile users:

Generally, it is considered that mobile users have more patience than desktop users. The reason is that they use a slower internet connection. But in the present scenario, while the internet connection speed is very fast, page load time became an important factor for mobile users.
Therefore, website owners should keep in mind this factor while using tools to manage mobile versions of their websites. Also, designers and coders should create simple and lightweight mobile version of a website in order to avoid server overload and make sure that the website will load quickly on mobile devices.

Competitors cash in:

When a user clicks away from a web page on your site due to slow load speed, your competitors benefit from it. In traffic rush hours, 75% of online consumers move to a competitor’s site rather than having the patience to wait for a website to load. Hence, if your site is slow, you’re not only going to lose your visitors and money, but also indirectly handle your valuable customers over to your competitors.

Free tools to test your site’s speed

Google PageSpeed Insights:

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool lets you test the performance of a web page both for desktop and mobile devices. It fetches the URL of a web page twice, once with a desktop user-agent, and once with a mobile user-agent. It measures how the page can boost its performance on: time to full page load and time to above-the-fold content load. After analyzing the content of a web page, it generates “consider fixing” and “should fix” type recommendations, which you can use to make your web page faster on all devices.

YSlow:

YSlow, developed by Yahoo, analyzes a web page and accordingly gives you suggestions to improve its performance. All the generated suggestions are based on a set of 23 web performance rules, which are defined by Yahoo’s Performance team. Additionally, it gives your web page a Grade that is based on one of three predefined rule set.

GTMetrix:

GTMetrix is another popular and effective website performance testing tool that helps you optimize your website’s speed and give your visitors an all-around improved experience. Using Google Page Speed and YSlow, it grades the performance of your site and makes actionable recommendations available to you. In addition, you can also set up monitored alerts and view your page load in a filmstrip view.

Pingdom:

Pingdom offers a wide range of website speed testing tools that enables you to monitor the performance of your website and provides invaluable insights to help you make it faster. Using Pingdom, you will be able to monitor individual files and requests on your site and can know the reasons which cause poor website performance. From page analysis to a performance grade, they provide quite useful information related to your website.

MaxCDN Tools:

MaxCDN recently released their set of testing tools through which you can test your website’s performance at 12 different locations around the globe. Performing Ping test, you can compare the ping speed of two domains and know how your site performs against your competitors. Finally, the HTTP Speed Test enables you compare the speed of first and last byte of two websites.

Quick tips to speed up your site

Upgrade your server:

The connectivity and speed of a website depends on the type of server being used for hosting. If your site is hosted on a shared hosting server, upgrade it to a VPS or dedicated server that allows your website having more server resources available. Hosting your website on a shared server may result in web pages being load slower.

Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network):

One of the best ways to decrease your website’s page speed is to host your media files on a content delivery network. Using a CDN, you can save up to 60% bandwidth and halve the number of requests made by your website. Some of the popular and reputed CDNs are MaxCDNCloudFlare, and Amazon CloudFront.

Minimize HTTP requests:

According to Yahoo, up to 90% of the end-user response time is tied up in downloading the different components – like images, scripts, flash, style sheets etc. – of a web page. When someone land on your website, an HTTP request is made for each one of these components. The best practice for minimizing the number of HTTP requests is to eliminate all unnecessary things from your site.

Enable Gzip compression:

Nowadays, Gzip is the most used compression method that doesn’t only save bandwidth, but also speed up web page load time. A web page containing high quality content is often bigger than 100kb and this result in slower page load time. By compressing your website’s content, you can reduce the response size by about 70%. To check whether your site is Gzip enabled or not, you can useGziptest.

Optimize images:

There are two important things that you should keep in mind while uploading images to your website: size and format. As large images take much longer than expected time to load, so it’s crucial to crop your images to the correct size before uploading. For the format of your images, .jpg and .png are best options. Use GIFs for small graphics, and also avoid using .bmp and .tiff formats.

Minify your HTML, CSS and JavaScript files:

WYSIWYG resources make building web pages easy for people, but they sometimes generate junk code that can slow down your website. To avoid slow loading time, you need to minify your files. To minify HTML, you can use chrome extension PageSpeed Insights to get the optimized version of your HTML code. To minify CSS, try cssmin.js and YUI Compressor. And to minify JavaScript, use JSMin and Closure Compiler.

Put scripts at the bottom:

If you want to get your content delivered to your visitors as fast as possible, it’s highly recommended to put scripts as close to the bottom of your page as possible. The reason behind this is simple: visitors would not like to see a blank page while the browser is busy in loading different script related files. Also, put your CSS at the top of your page since browsers would render the CSS file before rendering your page.

Minimize redirects:

Though sometimes it is necessary to redirect a visitor from one URL to another, but if you have a lot of redirects on your site, your site will suffer delay in page load. Redirections lead to additional HTTP requests, which increase web page load time. So minimize the number of redirects even though you have a responsive version of your web site.

Enable browser caching:

When a visitor lands on your site for the first time, different components (like HTML document, style sheets, JavaScript files and images) of your website are stored on his hard drive in a temporary storage, or cache. The next time when the user visits your site, the browser loads the web page from its local cache instead of sending another HTTP request to the server. So, it’s quite important to enable browser caching in order to enhance the performance of your website.

Monitor & improve:

One of the best ways to make your website super speedy is to monitor its performance on a regular basis and make necessary improvements accordingly. Furthermore, always run some quick tests especially when you make any changes in your website’s code or content to see the results.
Author Bio: Ajeet  Yadav is an experienced web developer at CreativeWebLogix – Get Your Existing Site To Responsive. His area of interest are WordPress, HTML5, CSS3, and Responsive. Don’t forget to follow @CWL_WEBDESIGN to get latest updates via Twitter.

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Fast Blog and Why it Matters – Jeffbullas’s Blog

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Leaked iPhone 6 motherboard has NFC chip

Some new images of the iPhone 6 motherboard PCB have leaked from French website NowWhereElse.

The PCB is bigger than the one on the iPhone 5s,
hinting at the larger size and the screw slots align with the
previously leaked case designs. But the important feature here is that
the motherboard has an NFC chip on it, along with Wi-Fi 802.11ac.

The
NFC feature has been rumored to appear on the iPhone for years now but
it never quite materialized. Its presence on the iPhone 6 motherboard
does not quite guarantee it will be on the actual phone but then again,
Apple does not use off the shelf parts so if it’s there it’s there for a
reason.

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You can now unlock your Motorola phone with a ‘digital tattoo’

Moto X digital tattoo unlock

Hate unlocking your Android smartphone so much that even Face Unlock or Skip feels like too much of a hassle? Motorola just came to your rescue. The company has partnered with VivaLnk to launch the previously teased Digital Tattoo, an NFC-based skin tag that unlocks your phone (currently limited to the Moto X)
with a quick tap. The tattoo can stay on your body for up to five days,
and it should survive abuses like showers and sweat-laden runs. It’s a
clever approach that might be appealing if you’re fed up with PIN codes
and patterns, although the back-of-a-napkin math suggests that you’re
paying a lot just to save a couple of seconds when checking your email.
VivaLnk is asking $10 for packs of 10 tattoos, or enough to last 50 days
— you’ll have to spend $80 to get through a whole year. It could be
useful for those busy days when you’re constantly waking up your
handset, but you might be better off rolling that money into a Moto 360 or your next big phone upgrade.

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Engadget Daily: the battle for VR, Bose sues Beats, and more!

Today, we explore the world of VR, watch Bose sue Beats, learn about a few tools to help you get the most out of Netflix and look at our favorite 11 laptops you can buy right now. Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.

The battle for virtual reality: Google, Samsung, Sony and Oculus VR

The history of VR is riddled with missteps like the Nintendo Virtual Boy, but that hasn’t stopped today’s major players from investing in the medium. Even despite the limits of current tech, Google says the best time for VR is right now.

Now that Apple is buying Beats, Bose sues over noise-cancelling patents

Just inches away from officially being part of Apple, Beats is now being sued by Bose. According to the latter, Dr. Dre’s Studio line of wireless headphones infringe on one of plaintiff’s noise-cancelling patents. What a bummer.

The top 11 laptops you can buy right now

The Engadget Buyer’s Guide strikes again! This time, we’ve rounded up 11 of our favorite laptops that you can buy right now. You’re welcome.

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NASA wants commercial space companies to help new Mars missions communicate

The relay radios on two Mars science orbiters are making it possible to communicate with NASA’s robots, rovers
and landers on the red planet. But these spacecraft might be out of
commission soon, and NASA believes one possible solution is to purchase
services from commercial space companies that plan to launch orbiters of
their own. See, the rovers and landers on Mars communicate with the
ground crew by using a severely limited direct link or by using the
Odyssey and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
as relay stations. Sadly, the agency has no plans to launch more
orbiters of its own at the moment, and this could disrupt communication
in a few years’ time.

Thus, the agency has asked for the detailed investigation (a process called Request for Information or RFI)
on the feasibility of paying for the services of commercial orbiters to
communicate with robots on Mars beyond 2020. To be clear, NASA hasn’t
talked to contractors and companies about anything concrete yet, and
it’s also working on other projects that could solve the issue,
including LADEE, which transmitted data to the moon via laser beams
in 2013. Using orbiters as relay stations has been really cost
effective, though, so the space division’s hoping to make it work for
future missions.

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Could Apple finally be ready to unveil its mobile payment service?

A report from The Information is shedding new light on Apple’s plans for a mobile payment solution.

Even though there has been no news about the issue recently, the site
says Apple’s talks with payment industry executives have increased in
the past few months.

The big part of Apple’s system would apparently be the secure enclave found in the A7 chip of the iPhone 5s.
Currently, the enclave is designed to store scans from the pictured
Touch ID sensor. But that might change, according to the report:

Apple has told some partners its system would involve
a so-called secured element in the phones—a piece of hardware where
sensitive information such as a phone owner’s financial credentials can
be stored. The company also aims to run the system without giving up any
control to wireless carriers.

As of earlier this year,
Apple has more than 800 million credit cards on file, which is four
times more than e-commerce giant Amazon. That huge number gives Apple a
large amount of leverage to work with the payment processors.

In April, another report said that Apple was hiring senior executives for two new positions that deal with mobile payment issues.

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So Long, Craigslist Scammers. This Startup Will Change the Way You Find a HOME

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 1.56.19 PM


Urban Compass

There are some companies so deeply entrenched in the American psyche
that, even though they’re not perfect, we just can’t quit them. Perhaps
the best example is Craigslist, that black hole of listings that
inevitably turns apartment-hunting into a tedious chore. It’s a
user-experience nightmare of scammers, phony listings, and duplicate (or
in some cases, quadruplicate) posts. Sending out 10 emails to brokers
gets maybe one response. Then there’s the hectic process of scheduling a
walkthrough—that is, if the apartment ever really existed in the first
place.

Which is why it should come as no surprise that investors are pouring
millions of dollars into Urban Compass, a New York City-based startup
that offers an antidote to Craigslist chaos. On Monday, the company
announced it had raised $40 million at a $360 million valuation to
expand its service beyond New York.* This follows another $25 million round the company raised last September.

But all this money is not simply another example of the frothy
venture capital environment. With Urban Compass, founder Ori Allon, a
serial entrepreneur who previously sold startups to Google and Twitter,
may actually have a viable and lucrative Craigslist competitor on his
hands.

The Apple Approach

Urban Compass is equal parts listing aggregator and brokerage firm.
Customers looking to buy or rent a home can go to Urban Compass and
search for listings by neighborhood, price, and size, just as they would
on Craigslist. Then Urban Compass’s sleekly designed site turns up a
map of listings, along with a neighborhood guide for each listing and
other helpful information such as, for instance, the length of the
commute to Times Square and which subway lines are closest. Users can
then schedule a time online to meet with one of Urban Compass’s own
brokers for an in-person walkthrough. If all goes well, they can fill
out the application paperwork right on the site. Urban Compass owns the
entire experience, from the initial search to the lease signing, an
approach that Allon compares to Apple’s.

map-search


Urban Compass

“Apple controls the hardware and the software to make sure everything is
totally compatible,” he says. “We also want to make sure you have the
best experience from the time you go to the site until you sign the
lease.”
Strange as it may seem in a disjointed market like real estate, it’s
rare to see a company take on both the listing and the brokerage side of
the business, says Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate at the
University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Instead, there are sites
like Zillow and Padmapper that pull listings from a variety of other
websites but don’t employ their own agents. They make their money on
advertising. Then there are agencies that only manage a small selection
of properties and make their money on commission. The fact that Urban
Compass is marrying the two, Wachter says, is a very big deal.

“Unlike many of these information providers, this gives people an
instant connect, which is terrific. It’s like a one-stop-shop,
potentially,” Wachter says. Plus, she adds, the broker business is where
the money is.

Ori Allon, founder of Urban Compass


Ori Allon, founder of Urban Compass Urban Compass

Better for Both Sides

Allon, who has a Ph.D. in computer science, began building Urban
Compass in 2012 after selling his last startup, the real-time search
engine Julpan, to Twitter. After spending his career developing
algorithms, which may be important but are relatively abstract concepts
for consumers, Allon says he wanted to build something that “solved a
real-life problem.”

Home-hunting seemed like both a problem in need of solving and one
that Allon believed could be vastly improved with his technical
expertise. Lucky for him, shortly after starting Urban Compass, venture
capital money began gushing into the real estate tech space. According to CB Insights,
during the last quarter of 2013, investors poured $429 million into 102
real estate tech companies, a 47 percent increase from the year before.

Urban Compass isn’t just working on a big problem for consumers. The
goal is to make agents’ lives easier, too, by giving them access to
Urban Compass’s mobile app, where they can list property, remove
listings, and schedule and manage appointments with clients. The hope is
to have Urban Compass’s 70 agents update the site as frequently as
possible, so listings will always be fresh. If they waste less time,
agents can close deals faster, which makes them more money. Meanwhile,
customers can also rate agents and report them for behaving badly. After
a series of bad reports, Urban Compass will remove that agent from the
site altogether.

listing-detail


Urban Compass

“Our
mission was to remove all the dishonesty and bad stuff about this
industry, the stuff that makes people hate brokers,” Allon says.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

So far, it seems to be working. Though Allon won’t disclose revenue,
he says it has grown tenfold since last year. And all this is just one
piece of what he eventually envisions Urban Compass becoming. As the
company continues to grow, Allon plans to launch something called the
Urban Compass Network, essentially a marketing channel for local
businesses. Any time people move to a new neighborhood, Allon says,
they’re always looking for new local restaurants, coffee shops, dry
cleaners, and other local businesses they’ll habitually visit. In time,
Allon is hoping to establish relationships with local businesses and
allow them offer discounts to newcomers who arrive in the neighborhood
via Urban Compass—sort of like a highly targeted Groupon. “It’s an
effective marketing tool if you do it right,” Allon says, adding that it
will also serve as a nice perk for customers.

Wachter agrees. “There are all sorts of potential advertising
opportunities when customers finally choose the neighborhood,” she says.
“We don’t have the killer model for this out there, yet. This may be
it.”

But first, Urban Compass has to acquire enough customers to make the
deals worthwhile for businesses. To do that, it will have to work harder
to build awareness with consumers. Lousy as the experience may be,
Craiglist is still the first and last place many people look for homes,
unaware that there may be better options out there. Until that changes,
it won’t matter how seamless Urban Compass’s service is.

“It’s really a critical mass issue,” Wachter says. “Why look them up? Name recognition. That’s the key.”

* One of Urban Compass’s
investors in this round was Advance Publications, the holding company
that owns WIRED. However, Advance Publications has no editorial input
into WIRED’s content.

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Amazon expands Prime Music library with loads of new tracks

Amazon’s recently announced music service for Prime members just got a bit better. Today, the giant online retailer revealed that its Prime Music
library is welcoming a bunch of new songs into the mix, from artists
such as Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Kendrick Lamar, Shakira, Skrillex,
Ella Fitzgerald, DJ Snake & Lil Jon (#TD4W, anyone?) and many, many more. To make use of these newly added tunes, Amazon said it has curated “hundreds” of fresh Prime Playlists,
citing this feature as one users have come to love since the service’s
launch last month. Amazon will need to keep making similar moves if
Prime Music is to be a threat to the likes of Spotify,
so this is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction. The next
natural step would be expanding outside of the US, but record labels
might make that a lot more complicated than it sounds.

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