Microsoft gives founder of Acompli the reigns to Outlook

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In December 2014 Microsoft acquired mobile software developer Acompli for $200 million who had developed very popular and critically acclaimed email clients for iOS and Android. Shortly after the purchase Microsoft rebranded these to “Outlook” keeping the functionality and compatibility to other mail providers that critics originally praised.

The rebranded Outlook app has also seen critical success under Microsoft and Microsoft own Windows 10 mobile app currently in development shows signs of its inspiration.

Microsoft announced this week that Javier Soltero the founder of Acompli has been officially but in charge of Outlook on all platforms, including the web, smart phone, tablets and most importantly PCs.

Before Microsoft purchase Acompli Javier was used to a team of less than 75 so being put in charge of one of Microsoft most used applications must be a daunting task.

With the great critical praise and innovative design shown thus far, Javier lead versions of Outlook in the future is definitely one to watch. We are likely to see mobile only features such as the focused inbox make the jump to desktops and we are likely to see new innovations that only make sense with the larger screen real estate on the PC.

As interesting as this is for the future of Outlook, it is as interesting for Microsoft itself, Microsoft is showing they recognise great, unique talent, even if from outside the company until recently and letting them lead large and established products that may otherwise face complacency. Of course with any leadership shift this does introduce new risks but taking the opportunity to crucial to grow in a hugely competitive field.

Google’s “ne m’oublie pas” hit by Europe’s desist and delist world ruling as “right to be forgotten” issue rumbles on

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France’s privacy regulator, the CNIL, has rejected Google’s request that the “right to be forgotten” ruling on their websites should only remain restricted to Europe domain names, vs applying to all Google websites worldwide.

The decision requires Google to close a loophole that enabled searchers to defeat a judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) last year, whereupon they removed results from more localised sites such as google.fr, google.co.uk etc, but continued to display disputed links on google.com.   The French regulator stated Google’s various domain names were just “different paths to the same processing operation”, making it easy for users to circumvent the block.

As we widely reported in our blogs in May 2014, the CJEU recognised the right to be forgotten, thus allowing people to ask search engines not to display certain links if they requested, following a search on their name.

Based on the original Spanish ruling, the upshot from the Spanish court was not to erase the original searches, but make them far harder to find.  The desire and drive for data privacy was duly thrown into conflict with the arguments for freedom of speech and public interest.

It’s essentially one of the inevitabilities for society when citizens have access to such an incredibly powerful search tool at our fingertips, which today’s younger generation greedily take for granted.  It’s only a generation ago in pre Google days before 1998, when people would have had to resort to books and library articles to comb paper archives to get the information they wanted.  We move now at such lightning pace with technology that we must always be mindful about some of the downsides of this technology and fully maintain our corporate responsibilities surrounding data privacy, or pay the heavy penalties.

For a business a privacy breach might prompt a penalty of up to 5% of their global profits, however, in the EU regulation ring, there is a seemingly weak trust from the particular CNIL sword.  After four months, the French national threat is limited to “discussing appointing someone to report to its sanctions committee with a view of obtaining a ruling on this matter”.

With 500 million EU citizens, there is a mess of different legal regimes, making it hard for European businesses to work towards.  This is what the new EU Data Protection Regulations hopes to cure, if the EU stakeholders can agree the text.  It would certainly be a stimulant to Google if it knew it had one Euro privacy regulator to deal with and 5% of ITS turnover at stake if it broke the rules.  It seems a long way off, but organisations should consider data security and data protection as amongst their highest priorities looking ahead.

IBM launches Cloud Security Enforcer to counter risks from BYOD

IBM

The BYOD trend remains as strong as ever according to IBM’s recent security study.  Their research returned feedback indicating that over 30% of Fortune 1000 employees share and upload corporate data on third-party cloud apps, despite increasing awareness over the last few years of the risks of ‘shadow IT’.

The stubbornness and secrecy of Senate politician and presidential candidate Hilary Clinton in running dual public and private communications systems has certainly thrown the spotlight on cloud security risks – which affect the public sector as much as the private sector.  This has been a trigger for IBM to launch their new Cloud Security Enforcer (“CSE”).   Added to this, 25% of those surveyed link to cloud apps using a corporate log-in and password.

IBM’s new corporate protection device using their host IBM Cloud, aims to counter this by combining cloud identity management (“Identity-as-a-Service”), with the ability to discover any outside apps employees are using (including those on their mobile devices to make access more secure).

1.    CSE enables detection of unauthorised cloud app usage, followed by secure configuration of the apps as well as managing, viewing and directing how employees can use them.

2.    Can determine and enforce which data owned by an organisation can or cannot be shared by employees via specific third-party cloud apps.

3.    Security-focused connectors can connect employees to third-party cloud apps which include automatically assigned sophisticated passwords to help alleviate security breaches from human error.

4.    Finally CSE employs its global X-Force Exchange threat intelligence network to protect against employee-induced and cloud-based threats by analysing real-time threat data.  These involve scans of the internet and analysis of more than 20 billion global security events daily as a safeguard.

With connectors into Box’s cloud-based content management; a collaboration platform with Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce.com + other popular enterprise software, IBM’s broad view on seeking to secure and manage the wilder risks from cloud to business should resonate in the marketplace, though as of yet the price point for Cloud Security Enforcer has yet to be published, but it is certainly indicating of intelligent packing for enterprise organisations.  As long as users retain the freedom to use their personal devices without interference from their organisations and equally, that enterprise has the ability to securely ringfence company data, then the two can sit comfortably side by side and it’s a good package.

 

 

US med students in cyber security class given licence to kill in University exercise

It’s bad enough to have to consider the threat of our mainstream data being hacked, but what if the threat was to successfully target and kill someone?

This is the finding of some students at the University of South Alabama who sought to hack a medical grade human simulation called iStan.   Described as “the most advanced wireless patient simulator on the market, with internal robotics that mimic human cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological systems,” iStan costs about $100,000 and is regularly used by hospitals to teach medical school students how to perform procedures without murdering people.

The medical target here might be someone with a pacemaker which are apparently quite susceptible to hacking. Director of Simulations at the university, Mike Jacobs commented:  “The simulator had a pacemaker so we could speed the heart rate up, we could slow it down. If it had a defibrillator, which most do, we could have shocked it repeatedly. If it was the intent, we could definitely cause harm to the patient.   It’s not just a pacemaker, we could do it with an insulin pump, a number of things that would cause life-threatening injuries or death.”

The students were able to access iStan’s functions within a few hours and the technology was found to be vulnerable to denial of service attacks, brute force attacks, and security control attacks.

This exercise published in ‘arXiv’ was aimed at increasing awareness of the vulnerabilities of patients for the students and will reinforce the use of alternate or traditional techniques that do not rely on technology.  Nonetheless, it was lucky it was just iStan.  Whilst Jacobs advises it would be possible to encrypt wirelessly transmitted data sent between medical devices, it does mark a dark and cynical moment to consider this kind of threat being targeted at a senior business figure say in a FTSE 500 company with a discovered medical condition.  Reminder to self:  “Arrange BUPA check up and call in those connections at MIT”.

Citrix CEO Shares 5 Digital Workplace Imperatives

At a recent US Citrix Industry Analysts Day, CEO Mark Templeton offered his vision of the future direction of Citrix and the evolution to the next mobile workspace solution – “Workspace as a Service” (any app, any device, any infrastructure).     In order to realise this vision, Templeton outlined five workspace imperatives that companies must respond to if they are to be successful going forwards:

1.       Design for what’s next – do you know? Your organisation will need a new approach and imagination to put this in place. Organisations need to be able to respond to the next device, app, location, employee, contractor, and re-organisations.
2.       Game over: consumerisation has won. Whether you call it BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), apps or identity, it’s a mindset change that is happening and needed.   IT is thinking about getting out of the ‘factory business’ and moving to design, experience and delivery.
3.       Secure what matters: apps, data and use. Device security gives a false sense of security. It could be a virtual desktop, VM container etc. Companies must understand usage and identity.
4.       Power of “any” in one infrastructure. A company wants to design once and re-use infrastructure. Today, companies buy technologies incrementally to address their needs in what Templeton calls an “If- Then infrastructure”.   With this approach, companies won’t get technology re-use. Companies must build the next infrastructure to be device agnostic where it can broker any set of apps and data while running it on your choice of infrastructure.
5.       Deliver for human and business outcom. Companies are moving from simply running infrastructure to providing technical innovations and outcomes. His view is that companies needs to derive an entire experience for the user, as well as an improved business outcome.

The Citrix CEO also identified the key priorities to help MSPs capitalise on this market transition with a strategy focusing on:

1. Enabling customer migration and transition to a new platform spanning premise, hybrid and cloud solutions.
2.       Companies need easier, faster and simpler ways to build application service delivery infrastructure.
3.       Increasing focus on industry sectors where secure app and delivery solutions deliver premium value.
4.       High-value integration across product lines for differentiation, automation and customer value.
5.       Innovations that drives adoption, differentiation and consumption out of core software infrastructure and increasing effectiveness and efficiencies of product development.

The takeaway from Citrix is that a mobility vendor can only be successful by providing an integrated portfolio of services that spans from mobility through the cloud in a cloud first and mobile first world.

When is a Pro not a Pro?

iPad Pro

This week Apple unveiled their much rumoured iPad Pro, a larger iPad, equipped with a 12.9” screen with optional accessories for attachable keyboard and stylus dubbed the ‘Apple Pencil’.

• The look of the new iPad Pro with its larger size, especially when attached to its keyboard cover looks much like Microsoft’s Surface Pro line. The big difference here is in its operating system. The iPad pro like all previous models runs on the company’s mobile iOS platform, instead of the desktop platform OSX. This means you will still be unable to use full desktop software like Photoshop or Xcode.
• Apple boasts desktop-class performance, but when limited to mobile Apps you may not see the benefit of this as an end user.
• The extra performance also enables two applications to be run at the same eg. Mail and Word.

The argument for it becomes more difficult though when you consider the iPad Pro actually costs more than a Microsoft Surface.

Justifying the purchase for this new iPad will be a difficult tasks, it is likely aimed at the Apple faithful who already have all the Apple kit, but why purchase the Pro when a MacBook (which can run full desktop software) can be obtained for almost the same price?

There will be specific, niche markets that will reap the benefits of a larger iPad with a pressure sensitive stylus, such as graphic artists, but they will be limited to the mobile App versions of Adobe’s software instead of their full desktop Creative Cloud suite.

It feels like Apple has missed a huge opportunity here, not only in enabling iPads to run full desktop software, but also bringing OSX into businesses which have already iPads.

BlackBerry’s Good acquisition

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It’s no secret that Canadian based Telecoms Company BlackBerry has been struggling over the last five  years to sell its own smart phones against fierce competition from Google and Apple.

During this time the company has turned its primary focus on its enterprise mobile security plans, opening up its proprietary BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) to additionally support competing platforms such as Android and iPhone.

On the 4th September 2015, BlackBerry surprised many by announcing its largest acquisition in the company’s 31 year history by purchasing MDM (Mobile Device Management) company Good Technology for $425 million.

Most news out of BlackBerry of recent years has been on the negative side, mass job cuts and a huge decrease in marketshare, which has seen Blackberry trimming down to form a smaller, leaner company.  So few would have predicted it was preparing itself for a large acquisition to re-position itself in the highly competitive mobile security sector.

Over half of the Fortune 100 are using Good Technology to secure mobile devices so the purchase is a great fit, BlackBerry bolsters its security capabilities as well as opening doors to many high profile business opportunities to sell both hardware and services.

In relation to BlackBerry’s ongoing hardware, Good Technology could also prove very useful in both the ongoing development of their own BlackBerry OS and the much rumoured Android-powered smart devices. Good Technology could provide a similar security layer similar to Samsung does with Knox on future devices.

In conclusion, the future for BlackBerry is now a lot more interesting than it was hitherto.  The company, despite shrinking marketshare is not afraid to take big risks to shake things up – and the one they have chosen here makes a lot of sense. With a big bet like this, it will truly be feast or famine for BlackBerry as they try and conquer enterprise mobile security.