Amicus ITS weekly technology news – Easter Edition

Windows Store V Mac App Store
This week the Windows Store hit over 50,000 published downloadable Apps on Windows 8 and RT. Although this number is smaller compared to the app stores for smart phones, it is definitely worth noting that the Mac App Store launched in January 2011 currently has only around 16,000 Apps. Microsoft is effectively beating Apple at its own game!. What comes of the future from Microsoft and Apples ecosystem?

Continued growth in mobile browser usage
Web browsing on phones and tablets has tripled in the last two years, and doubled over the last 12 months. Apple’s Safari leads all mobile traffic with over 50%, people are using iOS much more for web searching than other mobile platforms. Although other browsers including Chrome and Safari are available on the iOS app store they are in reality just Safari re-skinned. The importance of information being quick and easy to find on a mobile browser is more important than ever! Is your website user friendly enough on a mobile, or are you potentially ignoring this new growing sector of ’mobile on the go’ users?

USB’s and IT Professionals
At the recent RSA conference, more than three-quarters of IT professionals admitted to breaching their own protocols and plugging in USB flash drives that they found abandoned or lying around! There are a number of ways to prevent this as an organisation, as a starting point, we would suggest educating your staff against this. Why not supply your staff with encrypted USB sticks which can be regularly checked for malware, or you could use software which restricts USB devices. However you choose to address this issue, you should be aware and actively trying to reduce or restrict it.

Cyber Attacks
You might have heard about the recent major cyber attacks, firstly the attack that South Korea has accused China of starting (potentially falsely) and then a row between a spam-fighting group and a hosting firm. Cyber attacks on national infrastructure remains a top concern. In the US, President Barack Obama has recently signed a cyber security executive order requiring federal agencies to share cyber threat information with private companies. Security experts are voicing concerns about the choice of targets for the recent cyber attacks which suggest that an attack that could put a nation into jeopardy could happen. The Cyberbunker attack is said to be on an unprecedented scale and has been continuing for well over a week with five national cyber police forces currently investigating. Whilst this highlights some potential gaps in the security, organisations need to remain vigilant in their search of indicators of compromise on their networks.

Have a happy Easter !

Your latest news in technology by Amicus ITS

Samsung Galaxy S4 comes to UK with 4-core not 8-core processor
A follow-up from last week’s launch details on the Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. Samsung has announced the UK variant will not in fact come with its latest 8-core processor which was boasted at during the launch last week, but a weaker 4-core unit similar to what is found in its predecessor. Will this decrease interest in Samsung’s latest flagship phone? Which has already achieved a 40% higher demand than the Galaxy S III.

Microsoft launches Windows Embedded 8
Following the release preview just 2 weeks ago, Microsoft has announced the general availability of Windows Embedded 8. Windows Embedded powers POS terminals used widely across retail, healthcare and manufacturing industries. Microsoft state that their latest embedded platform shortens development cycles, has more immersive and natural user experiences while bringing the latest security technologies. However will the current mainstream attitude towards Windows 8 hesitate organisations adopting this next embedded OS?

Half of all companies lose devices with important data
A recent study has uncovered some unsettling results, including the statistic of 50% of employees reporting that someone at their company has lost a mobile device with important data. The real question of course is was this data secured? With the correct MDM solution you can mandate complexity of lock screens for employees, locate and even wipe devices to ensure your data does not fall into the wrong hands.

BlackBerry 10 doesn’t pass security standards for government workers
The new Blackberry 10 platform hasn’t passed the high security standards of the Communications Elections Security Group unlike its previous Blackberry OS BB 7.1. BlackBerry has stated it is now working closely with CESG to get BB10 approved for government workers here in the UK. We can speculate due to the history of the BlackBerry platform’s security and use in government environments, that BlackBerry are currently hard at work to get their latest phones green lit for government use.

The newest information in technology from Amicus ITS

Pirated software costs $144bn
Figures from an IDC survey show the costs of buying illegal software are $144bn worldwide. Businesses face opening the door to viruses, malware and desktop problems as a result of installing pirated software. The IDC’s main findings included that a third of PC software globally is counterfeit, and of those using counterfeit, a third faced malware problems. They also found that consumers wasted 1.5bn hours dealing with the malware from pirated software. Obviously piracy is still a huge concern today and can have substantial long term costs.

Google’s spring clean
Google is shutting down its Google Reader and seven other products and services, taking the total number of features or services shut since its spring cleaning began in 2011 to 70. The company said it needed to focus to take advantage of new opportunities, rather than spread itself “too thin and lack impact.” However this statement seems odd as Google is currently developing wearable computer-glasses, self-driving cars, laptops, phones and more. Google Reader needed no further development, so it seems more likely it had to go because of the failure to make money from the service.

Nokia and Apple v Samsung
In an odd turn of events, Nokia will be supporting its competition Apple to secure injunctions on several of Samsung’s products. The Finnish manufacturer will remain the only alien company to support Apple in its appeal. Nokia had instituted legal proceedings against Apple three years ago, but now the companies have joined hands to fight against the current market leaders. Going by this information, recent sales figures and social posts by Nokia it is easy to see that Nokia see Samsung as their biggest competitor rather than Apple.

Samsung Launches 8-core Galaxy S4 and Knox security
Today Samsung announced it’s much anticipated Samsung Galaxy S4, weighing in at 130g it includes a 8-core processor, five inch, 441ppi high-definition Amoled screen and a new 13-megapixel camera. Samsung also launched their new security platform: ‘Knox’ which will be the first to be compatible with the S4 and future devices. It also allows IT departments to separate work from personal use as Knox can have a different environment in work mode, which Samsung claims is separate from the personal use environment. Whilst Knox does show some impressive security functions, it is also yet another propriety system an IT department would have to familiarise themselves with. We suggest deployment of an MDM environment that is more platform agnostic.

This week’s technology news by Amicus ITS

Intel expands BYOD program
Intel is expanding its own Bring Your Own Device program, claiming it has been a resounding success and said that over the last year that had gained 5 million hours of additional productivity gains. Intel had 23,500 mobile devices in total in the program, an increase of 38% from 2011. The BYOD program consists of phones, tablets and ultra-books. It has also stated although productivity has been improved it has had less of an impact on cost savings. Given the perceived problems around data security and BYOD, it’s great to see a company being so flexible and letting employees choose their own devices.

Apple CEO promises device innovation to shareholders
Speaking at a recent shareholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook promises new innovation and a new product line but strangely failed to confirm when they are planning to unveil this! The promise of innovation was surely needed to calm shareholders as Apples shares and phone market share has been steadily declining despite continued strong sales. There are rumours from numerous sources that claim this new line of products could either be a smart TV or a smart watch. Out of these two the smart watch seems more likely but we are unsure if Apple could convince the mass market it is something they need.

€561 million euro fine for Microsoft
Microsoft has been fined by the European Commission for failing to comply with 2009s commitment to let users choose their default browser. EC’s competition commission determined Microsoft had an unfair advantage in the browser market as 95% of machines would come pre-installed with Internet Explorer. The failure to keep this commitment was a technical one which Microsoft brought to the attention of The EC. The software would only run on specific versions of the Windows OS, which was not update to include SP1 of Windows 7, resulting in millions of users not getting the browser choice prompt. Microsoft said it took “full responsibility” for the technical error that caused the problem, and apologised for it. Looking at the modern technology trends, could we be expecting Apple to receive a similar notice relating to browser choice for the tablet sector?

HP sells WebOS to LG for Smart TVs and Smart devices
In 2010 HP picked up the gesture friendly mobile OS: WebOS in its acquisition of Palm for $1.2 billion. However shortly after releasing its own WebOS tablet, HP publically stated its immediate plans to stop all future production for WebOS hardware. WebOS has now been picked up by LG, who has stated its focus for WebOS will be on smart TVs. WebOS has its roots in both phones and tablets and LG may be using Smart TVs as a low risk move to develop the OS further and test user feedback before releasing their own WebOS smart phones and tablets. We believe this is a clear attempt to differentiate from the current Android crowd.

Evernote hacked, 50 million accounts compromised
Last weekend Evernote revealed it was the latest victim of a cyber-attack which potentially compromised the passwords of 50 million users. Evernote quickly forced all 50 million accounts passwords to reset to combat this and promises it is accelerating its plans to roll out two-factor authentication, to make the note storing platform more secure. This recent data breach provides more evidence that a single password isn’t secure enough and we stress all readers to use different passwords across online accounts.

Top Technology News from Amicus ITS….

Chinese Inquisition
Did you know that China has developed an IT and Business Process Offshoring industry that is worth in the range of $4-$5 billion? The primary target is business in the US and Europe, however, recent reports are airing major security concerns. The security firm Mandiant released a report this week revealing government espionage and suggested that the Chinese military were the main instigator of cyber attacks on US firms. The White House also released a report this week amplifying the problem with details of trade secret thefts by the Chinese. Given the above, would you trust an offshore provider?

App Attack
According to a report by Gartner a quarter of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in 2013 will be application-based. Instead of inundating websites with requests, such DDoS attacks send targeted commands to applications to overwhelm them and make them unavailable. Companies should also be aware that some of the most ‘at risk’ applications are internal business applications which include Microsoft SQL, Server Message Block and Remote Procedure Call. We would suggest that companies should revisit and re-architect their network configurations and ensure a layered approach that combines multiple DOS defences. Just another thing for the teams to look at.

Picture Perfect Password
Windows 8 have launched their picture password, this enables you to log into your machine using a picture rather than an alphanumeric password. In fact what you are actually doing is sketching a custom sequence of gestures on top of a picture to verify your identity. Despite the convenience in the tablet arena, we believe this may not be more as secure an option to the alphanumeric one we know and love as the fingerprints you leave could still leave you open to the risks of a “smudge attack”. You could argue it would be better on a desktop, as the use of a mouse to sketch would eliminate this risk. Overall, it is a new, fun alternative but our tests show it is no more secure.

Is it a simple new world?
Consumer and cloud technologies have enhanced our lives with new kinds of efficiency and freedom. To achieve the same agility at work, employees are flooding the environment with a dizzying array of mobile platforms and devices—many of which are not integrated, secured, or managed at all. For IT, we see an increasingly complex and dynamic environment that’s hard to administer with rigid PC-centric tools and processes. VMware® Horizon Suite is trying to move IT beyond these limitations—with the technology and capabilities to securely deliver and manage robust end-user computing across all devices. Another example of traditional platform providers desperately trying to get into the mobile environment leaving IT Directors in a quandary. Should they go with a trusted supplier trying to integrate, or with a data security focused supplier? If it helps, we have taken the approach of combining best in breed in each sector.

Microsoft on the Move
Microsoft is working towards a public preview version of Windows Blue, we believe Microsoft’s plans have revealed that the software giant is aggressively targeting a summer launch date for Windows Blue, ensuring its development cycle is short. Blue is expected to be made available to existing Windows 8 users by the end of the summer, with support for new 7 and 8-inch devices and Internet Explorer 11 built-in. Microsoft is also preparing a Blue update to its Windows Phone operating system and other services as a project to further integrate all of its software offerings. Does this suggest a radical change in the Microsoft Operating System with more aggressive updates?