Tag Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft Invests in STEM for Young Black Girls

Kimberly Bryant

Microsoft, the world’s biggest maker of computer software, announced a partnership with Black Girls Code and the Technology Access Foundation to bring STEM education to students of color. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the $500,000 partnership.  (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.)

Black Girls Code provides programming and technology education to young and pre-teen girls of color. The curriculum is provided through clubs  and taught by women engineers of color. BGC can be found in 13 cities across the U.S. and, with the funding from Microsoft, will launch their 14th chapter in Seattle.

Founder of Black Girls Code, Kimberly Bryant, explains her mission;  “By launching Black Girls Code, I hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”

Trish Millines Dziko

  Technology Access Foundation provides STEMbyTAF. Former Microsoft executive Trish Millines Dziko founded STEMbyTAF in 1997. The program is an out-of-school program that teaches technology skills, provides internships and college prep to students of color in the Seattle area.

Since its launch TAF has opened its own school and become a model for creating learning environments that erase racial disparity in academic achievement. STEMbyTAF is focused on duplicating their successful formula in other schools. TAF has partnerships with Amazon, Comcast, Expedia, Google and Boeing.

Black Girls Code also has partnerships with several of Silicon Valley’s top technology companies including Google, Oracle, Adobe, Verizon and AT&T.

 

City of Atlanta Hit By Ransomware Attack

The City of Atlanta computer network was hit by a ransomware attack last week. The attack left a portion of the city’s data encrypted. According to city officials the full extent of the attack is still under investigation.  Attackers were successful in shutting down some of the city’s online services, including “various internal and customer-facing applications” used to pay bills or access court-related information. The city’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, urged city employees and anyone who had conducted transactions with the city to carefully monitor their bank accounts in case their personal information is misused.

Ransomware is a software that takes control of a computer or computer network and shuts it down by encrypting the data until the ransom is paid. The attacker will usually threaten to destroy the data if the money is not paid. In Atlanta’s case the attacker has demanded approximately $51,000 in bitcoin. City officials have not said if they will pay the ransom. Experts believe paying the ransom will only encourage future attacks.

According to a local NBC news affiliate the ransomware used in the attack is part of a family of ransomware known as SamSam that has been deployed against governments and healthcare systems since 2015.

Though Atlanta’s population is just under 500,000 it is the ninth largest metropolitan area in the country and has the nation’s busiest airport. Atlanta’s new Chief Operating Officer, Richard Cox, who came on the job just a week ago,  said that several departments have been affected. But Cox pointed out that agencies responsible for public safety, water and airport services have not been affected. Mayor Bottoms stated that the city is working with the FBI, DHS, Microsoft and Cisco to find out what data may have been compromised.

The city issued a statement on Tuesday instructing employees that they could begin to turn their computers and printers back on. The move is part of an assessment of the overall impact of the attack. However, CNN reports that systems that allow residents to pay their water bills or parking tickets online remains shutdown. Police have been forced to do some paperwork by hand while some court proceedings have been cancelled.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

Members of Mayor Bottom’s team informed Atlanta City Council members last week that there was  “a high likelihood that the incursion came through the City Council side of the building, through some software used by the Atlanta City Council called the Legislative Management System.”

According to NPR reporter Emily Cureton city officials were warned months ago of weak security in its computer systems. “The audit found a significant level of preventable risk to the city. The auditor writes there were long-standing issues, which city employees got used to and also didn’t have the time or resources to fix. The audit concludes Atlanta had no formal processes to manage risk to its information systems.

Rendition Infosec, a Georgia-based cybersecurity firm, tweeted on Tuesday that it had uncovered data showing a handful of city computers came under attack last year.

Jake Williams, owner of Rendition Infosec said, “We dug into our data and perhaps unsurprisingly, at least 5 of their machines were compromised in April 2017.”

Now the problem facing Atlanta officials is that time is running out to pay the ransom. According to NPR there may be nowhere to send the money. A local television station obtained a copy of the ransome note and tweeted the message out. The result was the payment portal set up by the attackers, with the countdown clock, was disabled. The portal contained a link to a bitcoin wallet.

According to the city’s information webpage there is no resolution in site at this time. According to Mayor Bottoms, “Everything is up for discussion.”

 

 

 

 

ALERT! – Specter and Meltdown Security Flaw – ALERT!

Regardless of what computer you own, Apple or Windows, Spectre and Meltdown security flaws affect you. Security researchers recently revealed the details of these two microprocessor security flaws. Chips made by Intel, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and others are in billions of devices making them sitting ducks for hackers.

Devices with these chips include phones, tablets, PCs, and computer servers. Exploiting the vulnerability opens the door for hackers to steal personal data, passwords, cryptographic keys, and other supposedly inaccessible information from device owners. While the average consumer should exercise caution the impact on business could be devastating. 

The Meltdown flaw only runs on Intel chips while the Spectre flaw can affect devices with virtually any modern processor.

Computer microprocessors handle data like a passwords or encryption keys. Normally these are kept from other apps. But both Intel and AMD pride themselves on the speed of their chips. To do this the chips use whats known as “speculative execution” to try to guess answers that may be needed if a chain of calculations came out a certain way. Since the delay in calculations can be predictable researchers found that a rogue app could guess where confidential data was located in a chip’s memory and steal it.

Regardless of your web browser, Google Chrome, Apple Safari, or any version of the Windows family, they all use Javascript code.  Hackers could introduce a data stealing Javascript program and post it on any chosen web site. Your browser app would automatically run the rogue code like it was an ordinary part of the site’s features resulting in your data becoming vulnerable or stolen. As you can see this is an extremely grave threat to business computing.

Although this vulnerability is now known there is no evidence anyone has used it…yet. And that is where the danger lies. The danger of these flaws is so great that tech companies  swung into action quickly to fix the problem. Perhaps too quickly.

According to various news sources the Microsoft patch to fix the flaw has been damaging some devices.  In some instances the computers are suffering performance problems while others have been bricked. A bricked computer is frozen and unusable. The problem has become so bad that Microsoft has halted issuing the patch for both Spectre and Meltdown for AMD equipped computers and devices.

Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich addressed the Meltdown and Spectre issue as the keynote speaker at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “I want to thank the industry for coming together to address the recent security research findings reported as Meltdown and Spectre,”  said Krzanich. He called the response to the issues a “collaboration among so many companies.” Krzanich promised that “for our processors and products introduced in the past five years, Intel expects to issue updates for more than 90 percent within a week, and the remaining by the end of January.”

Browser makers have swung into action to combat the flaw. Users of Google Chrome should turn on a feature calledsite isolation.”  The feature prevents malicious Javascript from accessing sensitive data. Google will soon release an update to Chrome’s Javascript feature that will improve protection against Spectre attacks, however, browser performance may suffer.

Microsoft has already issued a Windows security update for its Internet Explorer and Edge browser apps labeled “KB4056890” to protect against Spectre. According to Microsoft the update will change the browser’s features to protect confidential information in a device’s CPU. But make sure you check if your device has an AMD chip before using this patch.

Firefox maker Mozilla said its newest apps changed several features to make Spectre attacks more difficult. Released on January 4th, Firefox version 57.0.4 includes the new protections. Mozilla said in a blog post that it is studying additional ways to strengthen security against the attacks. “In the longer term, we have started experimenting with techniques to remove the information leak closer to the source, instead of just hiding the leak by disabling timers. This project requires time to understand, implement and test.”

Apple is planning to release an update to Safari in “coming days” to protect against Spectre. Early tests of the Apple updates showed a minimal impact on browser performance. For additional information on Apple products click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – Dennis Rodman, Drake and Kanye

Dennis Rodman and PotCoin.

Smoking weed has always been big business. And now it is also slowly becoming a very legitimate business. Anytime Microsoft comes looking for a piece of the pie you know its legit.

Dennis Rodman has stepped into the weed game endorsing a new virtual currency to pay for your weed. Rodman showed up in North Korea on a ticket paid for by PotCoin. A new digital currency that bills itself as “Banking for the Marijuana Industry.” Rodman Tweeted a thank you to PotCoin for “financing his mission.”

PotCoin issued a press release announcing the “mission.” According to PotCoin Rodman will tell us all about it when he returns to the states. But we would be remiss if we did not point out that smoking weed is perfectly legal in North Korea. Something I am certain those nice folks at PotCoin are well aware of.

Sporting a PotCoin-branded t-shirt and baseball cap, Rodman released a short video  touting his visit as “all about peace.” This is not the first time Rodman has promoted a company by visiting the most closed country on earth.  Previously Rodman’s visit to the North was sponsored by an Irish betting company. Of course with this visit PotCoin crypto-currency shot up in value.

See also: Snoop Dogg Launches MerryJane.com 

Drake and Kanye Under Hack Attack

 Hackers love celebrities. So why not Drake and Kanye? According to reports a group calling itself the “Music Mafia” hacked Drake’s Twitter account. The same group also released two of Kanye’s unreleased recordings on YouTube and are threatening to strike again. Music Mafia’s website is offering more un-released music for sale using the Bitcoin virtual currency. 

Music Mafia, after claiming responsibility for the leaks,  had been laying low until this week. The group hacked Drake’s Twitter account on June 2nd  and posted a link to their website. The Tweet was quickly deleted.

Then Music Mafia leaked Kanye’s new music. According to the hacker website they are in possession of  unreleased  “songs from artists recorded years ago” as well as new tracks and music videos. Music Mafia is also offering members of the public exclusive leaks. 

Music Mafia offered the unreleased tracks of Calvin Harris’ ‘Slide’, Future’s ‘Ransom’ and a few other songs. But are now threatening to release more music from Kanye, Maroon 5 and PartyNextDoor,  for payments in Bitcoin.

The hackers seem to be are offering the stolen cuts only after they collect an unknown number of Bitcoins. The thefts are being carried out by highly professional hackers who have done well covering their tracks.The Music Mafia website is registered in the Kingdom of Tonga. But that tiny country’s servers appear to be hosted in Iceland by a company specializing in secure and anonymous web hosting. The only way to get in touch with them is through the decentralized and encrypted Bitmessage communications platform.

Google Brings Howard University to Silicon Valley

Google is bringing computer science majors from Howard University to the famed Silicon Valley. Starting this summer Howard University will open a campus at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. Junior and senior computer science majors from Howard’s computer science program can attend the aptly named “Howard West” for three months.  Senior Google engineers and faculty from Howard will serve as instructors. 

It is extremely expensive living in the Silicon Valley even for three months. The school says the students will be provided with “a generous stipend to cover housing and other expenses in Silicon Valley.” According to the school the money will come from Howard and private donors.

Howard University program is expected to host only 25-30 students this summer but plans are to expand the program to as many as 750 students from all HBCU’s over the next five years. 

Google Vice President of Global Partnerships and Howard University alumna, Bonita Stewart said the partnership with Howard University “is now the centerpiece of Google’s effort to recruit more black software engineers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and to make them feel right at home here in Mountain View.”

Google like, many tech giants, have struggled to achieve the elusive goal of diversity. For the past few years Google openly shared data on its workforce revealing the race, gender and ethnicity of each employee hired the previous year. Although the number of African-American employees went up they still only respresented 2 percent of the Google’s employees. Google admits it still struggles to met its diversity goals.

According to Stewart Google believes “Howard West” helps Google reach that goal faster. “We have the opportunity to be able to build a qualified pipeline of talent across the black community,” she said.

Breaking It Down

I like and applaud the annoucement but it is backwards. First of all why is Howard University sending students out to Silicon Valley; the most expensive to place to live on the planet? Howard University and private donors are going to pay for rent and accompanying expenses. Google isn’t coughing up a dime for those expenses. But why not? Its called an investment. But wouldn’t it make more sense from an academic and financial standpoint to bring the Google engineers to Howard as instructors? This would allow more students to gain from the companies knowledge. Why isn’t there a program from Google and other tech giants to offer these high level computer engineers to HBCU campuses on a sabbitical to teach black computer science majors?  This would allow them to select the very best black students for the high paying internship program. And I do mean high paying. Interns at Google can pull in $10,000 a month according to a report from Purdue University. Its called an investment. Black computer science students don’t need a 90 day field trip to California. What they need is the Google Academy at Howard University. What they need is Microsoft Coding School at Alabama A&M. What they need is for these multi-billion dollar companies to spend money to address these problems and quite playing around with short sighted ideas. Invest in black schools and your diversity problem will soon be a thing of the past. My point is this, major corporations like the NBA and the NFL have great relationships with colleges, unversities and even high schools that allow them to find the very best black athletes. Its called an investment. Why can’t major tech companies do the same if they are looking for the very best black computer science students? Answer me that.

 

 

Online Holiday Shopping 2016 – Security Basics

canstockphoto31830688Twice a year scammers crawl from underneath rocks and other nasty places to celebrate special holidays. First, tax season, then the holiday season. African-Americans using the Internet for holiday shopping need to be on guard against cyber crime.  Being aware of the scams and hazards can make a big difference in your holiday celebrations. 

The African-American Cyber Report is offering black people another season of valuable safety information to protect your holiday season so lets get started.

 

Card Skimming

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimmer courtesy of BBB.org

Card skimming is actually pretty simple. Your credit or debit card information is copied when you swipe your card at a retailer or ATM. Cyber thieves install almost invisible devices or special software on retail card readers. This allows them to duplicate your card and steal your PIN. Its as simple as that. So how do you protect yourself?

First of all if something does not look or feel right stay way. For example is the face of the card reader loose or does it look kind of sloppy? Exposed glue or loose fitting parts? Do the buttons require more effort than normal to press? Does your card have to be swiped several times to work properly. Here’s a trick; pull or tug at the face of the reader. It may come off in your hand. Do the same at ATM’s. Check those buttons. Try to move them or lift the key pad. Check the card insert. Pull on that. Check to see if there is something in the slot or protruding from it. You have got to be alert! If you find any of these things notify the retailer and your bank if you have used it.

If possible use your credit card and not your debit card. It is extremely hard to get your money back from a bank debit card. But a credit card transaction can be cancelled and you will normally not be charged. Skimmers can be found anywhere even at Walmart.

RFID Card Protection

paypassThis is less likely but does happen. Your credit and debit card are sometimes equipped with a feature allowing you to charge things with a quick tap of the card on the pay terminal. You may have one of the cards with brands like PayPassExpressPay, or PayWave.

These cards have RFID (radio frequency identification) chips. With the right equipment criminals can scan your card and steal your card’s data. Protect your card by using a RFID blocking sleeve, or an RFID wallet available online at retailers like Amazon.

But as we said before this is not likely. An RFID reader has poor range so the scammer would have to be standing awfully close to read your card. Keep that in mind when you are fighting that crowd on Black Friday. 

 

EMV or Chip Cards Safety

chipcardYou should by now have the credit card with the EMV chip embedded in it. If not contact your bank or card provider and ask for it. That chip is used to encrypt the transaction data when you charge something. 

The objective of card chip was to reduce card fraud. This technology is not perfect. Some retailers have failed to switch to EMV even though the deadline passed in 2015.  Why? Retailers and customers complain that the process is too slow. Chip cards have reduced point-of-sale fraud. But the crooks have worked around it. The latest hazard is fraudulent “card-not-present” transactions online. Criminals can obtain the credit card number, security code, expiration date from criminal websites that sell this information. Personal information like your dog’s name or your mother’s birthday can be found on Facebook. They use this information to hijack your online accounts. That’s what happens when you put too much of your business online.

 

Tech Support Scams


tech-support-scam-popupNew tablets, laptops, smartphones and big screen televisions are big sellers on Black Friday. Tech support scams are common all year round but the efforts by scammers increases during the holidays. 

These scammers are intent on getting you to pay for support or software you don’t need or simply doesn’t exist. This includes extended warranties. They email you with a sales pitch or issue warnings from what appears to be a Microsoft representative. Be aware! Anti-virus companies do not call you to let you know you have a computer virus. Don’t ever agree to let anyone access your computer from a remote location. Don’t download any software online that you are not sure of. If you don’t have the expertise to know then consult a professional.

Computers often come with a ton of useless software or games. This is known as bloatware or crapware. Be careful! These programs can cost you money. They often entice children and adults to buy things without them even realizing it.

 

Phony Bank Calls

During the holiday season you are using your bank and debit cards more often. Beware if someone claiming to be your bank or credit card company calls you. Remember when it comes to your money you should be asking the questions.

Scammers will call victims claiming to be investigating card fraud or suspicious activity. They will ask questions that reveal your personal information like your credit card number or PIN. Don’t answer these questions. Hang up and call your bank from a number you know. Or stop by in person. These scammers are professionals at alarming you and getting you to reveal information used to rip you off.  When it comes to your money only deal with people you know and trust. Never, ever reveal any personal information to a voice over the phone.

 

Email and Phishing Scams

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.net

Be careful where you click! Be extremely cautious about clicking on or downloading coupons in your email. It may be ransomware. This is a malicious software program that locks up your computer until you pay to get it released. It happens a lot and is one of the hottest computer scams going on right now.

Clicking on the wrong email may release malware on to your computer that steals information, monitors your activity and changes your settings. It may even secretly take control of your computer and email itself to all your contacts. Understand that scammers can duplicate an email from Macy’s, Walmart and any other major retailer. Check the return email address to make sure you know who its from. Check the retailers website for information regarding sales, coupons and possible scams. 

Be careful about holiday contests. When you fill out a contest form you maybe giving out personal information. Same for holiday coupons that ask for your name, email address and other personal information.

This holiday season; Be Alert! Be Aware!

 

 

 

Black Women in Technology Doing Their Own Thing – Stephanie Lampkin

stephanie-lampkin

Stephanie Lampkin, Founder-CEO Blendoor

Technology and diversity are not synonymous. But that is not to say that African-Americans and people of color are not making efforts and having success in the cyber realm.

Black people have a saying; “Step out on faith.” That means you believe in yourself and a higher power to succeed. These sistahs have knowledge and talent and have stepped out into the tech industry with new and powerful ideas that can change the world. Black women are breaking the mold and shattering stereotypes by making a difference in the tech industry. 

One of the biggest problems in the technology industry, and industry in general, is racial prejudice. It is common for people with so called “black sounding” names to be passed over for employment opportunities. One black woman has decided to fight back.

Stephanie Lampkin launched Blendoor to fight racial bias in hiring practices. Blendoor was one of the winning companies at Google Demo Day. Lampkin’s company also won Tech.Co’s Startup of the Year competition in 2015.  Blendoor is a recruiting application that shields the prospective job candidate’s name, picture and dates to help curtail racial bias in hiring. Blendoor is focused on providing candidates to companies based on “merits not molds.”

“It’s quantifiable,” said Lampkin. “We realized that hiding names and photos created a safer space. Women and people of color felt better sharing their information.”

Racial bias in hiring has tools. Ethnic sounding names and faces of color are often rejected and using the well traveled professional networks can be an obstacle. 

Lampkin believes women, people of color, members of the LGBT community and other minorities in Silicon Valley feel alienated by job search websites that reveal a candidates name and headshot.

Lampkin told Forbes.com; “I know a number of really successful, Ivy League-educated, African-American people between 35 and 45 who refuse to use LinkedIn out of fear of discrimination. These companies are founded by white guys. There’s a psychology I understand as a woman of color that’s driven how and why I’ve shaped the product the way I have.”

Lampkin 31, is an amazing story. She was born into a welfare household and her mother was at one time homeless while pregnant with her. Yet Lampkin over came incredible odds to become the CEO of a technology start up. She learned how to write code by the time she was 13 then went on to graduate from Stanford and MIT and worked for five years at Microsoft.

But Lampkin learned that was not enough. She was still ignored for jobs at major technology companies. As a black woman, Lampkin admits it was probably because she “did not look the part.” She just didn’t fit the mold of what tech companies are looking for. Deliberate or not it is commonly known as pattern matching. Lampkin states that often veterans and disabled people are also sifted out of the candidate pool.

Lampkin remembers advancing deep into the interview process for a prized job at a well-known tech firm in Silicon Valley. In the end she was told her background wasn’t “technical enough” for a role in software engineering.

“The recruiter told me a sales or marketing job might open up,” said Lampkin. She landed at Microsoft where she spent the next five years. Lampkin is nobody’s fool and understands that being a black women was not an asset in the tech industry. Repeated job rejections have taught her that.

Blendoor is not a one way street for companies looking to improve diversity in its ranks. Job candidates can also use the app to examine a company’s inclusion programs and diversity of its executive staff. 

The app will also collect data on who is applying to tech’s most sought-after positions and who is getting them.  “Blendoor wants to make companies accountable using data,” Lampkin said.

Now you know.

 

 

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Goes Down in Flames!

samsung-note-7Its not often a company releases a product that is an absolute disaster. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it is history.  Samsung has joined the list of companies that have done so. Here is the history of the Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 was thought to be another major success in the heavyweight battle between Samsung and Apple. It turned out to be a calamity of un-imagined dimension. As a result the Note 7, Samsung’s flagship smartphone, has been completely, totally and finally thrown on the crap pile of  epic product failures.

August 19, 2016 – Samsung released the Galaxy Note 7 to the market with great fanfare. Many critics hailed the waterproof device as the best smartphone ever.

August 24, 2016 – Reports surface of  Samsung’s new smartphone bursting into flames.

September 2, 2016 – Samsung announces the first recall of the Note 7. According to Samsung the reason the phones were catching fire was because of a faulty battery from a supplier.  It is one of two batteries that power the phone. Note 7’s sold in the U.S. were recalled. But the recall did not extend to other countries because, according to Samsung, they did not receive phones with the faulty battery. However the recall was delayed and not initiated until  September 21st. Consumers are left confused by the delay.

September 8, 2016The FAA warned owners of the Samsung phone not use the devices on board commercial flights. International and domestic carriers followed the directive and banned use of the phone on flights.

September 21, 2016Samsung initiates Note 7 product recall. The recall did little to correct the situation as replacement phones also began catching fire. This was followed by reports of phones catching fire in other countries like China where the was no recall in effect.

October 5, 2016 – A Southwest Airlines flight was evacuated when a Note 7 went up in smoke on board the plane. The owner of that phone reported that it was a replacement phone.

October  9, 2016 – AT&T refuses to exchange the Note 7 for replacement phones.“Based on recent reports, we’re no longer exchanging new Note 7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents,” an AT&T spokesman said in a email statement.

October 10, 2016 – Samsung ceases all production of the Note 7 phone but does not initiate a second recall of the device.

October 11, 2016 – Samsung announces the death of the Note 7 phone when it initiates the final global recall of the product. Owners can return the phone to the store for another device or a refund.

October 12, 2016 – Samsung begins to suffer the fall out from the Note 7 catastrophe.  The Korean technology company announced it has slashed its quarterly profit estimate by a third. The company will absorb a $2.3 billion direct hit from the flaming demise of it’s latest smartphone. Experts are already calling it one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history. Samsung has not been able to tell consumers what caused the phones to catch fire.

October 14, 2016In an effort to get the phones back Samsung announced an incentive to owners of the Note 7 who have not returned the device. Samsung is offering a $100 credit to owners who trade in the Note 7 for one of Samsung’s other devices like the Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge. Samsung is seeking to regain control of these dangerous devices by encouraging owners to return them.  Owners of the suspect phone who ask for a full refund or switch to another manufacturer’s phone will receive $25.

Tim Baxter president and chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics America said in a statement, “Customers’ safety remains a top priority and we ask consumers with an original or replacement Galaxy Note 7 to power down and take advantage of the remedies available.” 

But Samsung is encountering even more problems trying to retrieve the dangerous devices than it counted on. First many owners of the phone love it because of its waterproof construction, curved screen and excellent cameras. Another problem is the complicated process of packing the phone in the fire proof box provided by Samsung.

For more information and how to return your phone please got to Samsung Product Safety Recall.

Breaking It Down

Samsung is a smart company. It is also a caring company that takes a lot of pride in its products. They are some of the best on the market. So in the long run with solid business leadership this company will recover. But what the consumer is waiting for is a straight answer as to what caused the problem in the first place. Samsung, like Apple, have loyal customers who deserve an answer.  Hey Samsung if you read this; we’re waiting.

But lets look at the market as a result of the Samsung stumble. Look for makers of Android devices to step up marketing and manufacturing to fill the gap left by the Korean giant. Market share is up for grabs. Apple will also look to tear off a chunk of Samsung’s customer’s as well.  After all they are its primary competitor. From Samsung you will probably never hear of the Note product line again. Its gone.

For the foreseeable future its the battle for increased sales from the likes of Motorola, Lenovo, LG, heck even Microsoft might get something out of this.

As for Samsung, the future still looks bright because this company will comeback stronger than ever. Investors know this. Although the stock price has dropped, almost no one is selling. They know that this problem will be solved and Samsung phones will return to market. Most CEO’s understand that these things happen. Not often but they do. The trick is to keep your customers on your side until you get it fixed. Trust me, this is going to be a great business school lesson in few years. Hopefully with a happy ending. Good Luck Samsung.

 

 

 

Microsoft Jumps into the Weed Business

marijuana plant flowering

Marijuana plant flowering

Let’s face it, selling weed has always been big business. It is become more legitimate and has taken its place alongside alcohol as a legal intoxicant. At least it has in 24 states and that number is expected to grow. Why? Because it is no worse than alcohol and it delivers big tax bucks.

Now Microsoft is getting in on the ground floor of providing services to this budding industry (pun intended). Microsoft is working with Kind Financial a marijuana sales compliance company. According to  Kind’s website it provides “seed to sale software and financial technology.”

 

 

Kind-Financial-Logo-600x460Kind Financial offers; 

  • Agrisoft – Seed to sale software for cannabis tracking, compliance and operation management.
  • Kind Government Solutions – Technology and Consulting Services for government and regulatory agencies.
  • Link to BankingFinancial tools for institutions to service the cannabis industry.
  • KindPayCash free mobile pay and customer loyalty platform for the cannabis industry

Microsoft has given it partnership with Kind an official name. Its called the  “Microsoft Health and Human Services Pod for Managed Service Providers.” Microsoft and Kind are collaborating to provide local and state governments where weed is legal with technology to track and trace the  local legal marijuana market. 

But there is more to it than that.  Kind designs technology that monitors marijuana market activity to prevent the illegal trade of cannabis products throughout the supply chain. 

Legal weed for medical and party purposes has exploded in parts of the U.S. over the past several years. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized the sale, possession and use of weed for whatever reason.

MicrosoftAzureKind, based out of Los Angeles, will support government cannabis monitoring programs by running their technology on Microsoft’s Azure Government cloud.

 

 

Breaking it Down

 That’s not weed you smell its money and vice versa. Why is Kind and Microsoft getting together? Money! Why are states legalizing weed for medical and other purposes? Money! Tax money! Colorado took in $70 million in marijuana taxes in 2015 alone. And that number is growing. And don’t let those elected jerks in Washington fool you. They are getting on the marijuana gravy train as well with a 70% tax on legal marijuana businesses. What they are really trying to do is shut down the legal weed businesses.  Won’t happen! Like they say, the genie is out of the bottle. This is a money making business that has come of age. There are simply far too many people who have or continue to smoke weed. They know the truth about the wacky weed and they know what it does to them just like drinkers do. Its too late for governments to turn back so they might as well get in on the party.

Breach Brief – Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Email

gmailIts likely that you have either a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo email account. Its also likely that it has been compromised.  According to Reuters over 270 million stolen Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail and other email account credentials are floating around in Russia’s cyber criminal underground. Email credentials are your username and password.

These stolen email credentials were discovered by Hold Security. Researchers discovered a Russian hacker going by the name of “the Collector,” saying that he was ready to give away the credentials.  “The Collector” offered the credentials to cybercrime expert Alex Holden for free just for the publicity. Holden previously uncovered breaches at Adobe, JP Morgan and Target.

The total haul of the theft was estimated to be over one billion records but the security company eliminated duplicates lowering the total number of  credentials to just 272.3 million.

Yahoo mailMost of the credentials were associated with the Mail.ru service. Email credentials from Germany and China were also found among the stash.  However a significant number belonged to U.S. email providers. The remaining stolen credentials breakdown as follows, Yahoo Mail, 40 million credentials stolen; Microsoft Hotmail, 33 million; and Gmail 24 million. It’s not known if any of these accounts have actually been breached.

The most frightening detail of this breach is that many of the emails are linked to employees of some of the largest U.S. banking, manufacturing, and retail companies. Hold Security has informed the affected companies and organizations.

Hotmail-logoIf you have a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account you should immediately change your password. Experts also recommend that you set up two-step verification on your email accounts. Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail all offer two factor authentication that sends a second password to your smartphone when you sign in.

Officials at Yahoo and Google have yet to issue a statement about the breach. Microsoft said through a spokesperson that the stolen credentials are an unfortunate reality but that it had measures in place to detect account compromise.