This Week’s technology news – 6th December 2013

Little chance of privacy on Liberty’s shores
America’s NSA is trawling a whopping 5 billion mobile phone records per month in an attempt to connect terrorists by location and conversations. The volume almost defies analysis when only 1% is useful in anti-terror work. Microsoft plans to counter this invasion of privacy by encrypting its services to thwart tracking. The power player also confirmed it will continue to fight legal orders to release consumers’ details to government departments. Commercial security for customers with a mobile workforce remains a key priority for MSPs. Top players including Mobile Iron, Airwatch and Good ensure that the positivity of identifying location, plus wipe and lock device management remain a desirable paid-for feature with their audiences and not a threat.

DDoS caused Natwest’s service failure last Friday
Last Friday shoppers around the UK were unable to use their Natwest accounts. RBS Group have reported the reason for service failure was due to a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. This news comes shortly after Monday’s IT failure, where cash machines and card payments were also affected. RBS are stating Monday’s IT failure and Friday’s DDoS were not connected and no customer information was compromised. No comment has been made whether any further action has been taken to prevent future attacks, but whether customers trust them enough to remain with the bank remains to be seen.

Apple add Topsy to the shopping basket
Apple may have recently bought the 3D sensor company PrimeSense but their shopping spree has not ended yet. This week Apple purchased Topsy a Twitter analytics firm for an estimated $200m. Topsy is one of a few companies with access to Twitter’s entire data stream and archive of 400 billion tweets. Apple has mostly stayed out of the social networking game, with iTunes Ping their now closed social network attempt, falling flat on its face shortly after release. Although Apple has no native search tools (unlike Google or Microsoft) to take advantage of this large datastream, they could be looking to integrate it into their virtual voice assistant tool Siri for iPhone and iPad. The other advantage this data could have for Apple is a better understanding of consumers’ habits, utilising what people are talking about to help place effective advertising in social media.

Amazon drones on about their courier service
Online retailer, Amazon, has announced plans to launch Prime Air, a possible new drone delivery service expected to be in development till 2015. Using a gyrocopter to fly small packages under 5 lbs, it would have a range of 30 minutes from its distribution centres. The hurdles are considerable and create more questions than answers currently: FAA approval needed for flightpath clearance, limited address viability (delivery to flats, offices and pavement access headaches), plus a very limited payload. Similar drones are being developed in Australia and China, so no opportunity for patenting. However, if approved, the upside for the US economy is a potential $13.6 billion injection plus 70,000 new jobs over 3 years and an estimated economic development of $82 billion over 10 years. Like all good technology revolutions there is lots of hype – whether it “delivers” on speeding business up remains to be seen?