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Why Is It So Difficult to Stop Fake News?

Why Is It So Difficult to Stop Fake News?

Ever since the significant emotional effect of the U.S. presidential election, “fake” news is thought to have influenced the outcome by possibly skewing public opinion regarding the candidates with a variety of stories ranging from somewhat believable to completely outrageous. In the aftermath of all this, Facebook, Google, and other search engines and social media platforms are promising to prevent fake news stories from bombarding the public.

However, it will probably be a bigger challenge to “fix” the fake news problem than these online platforms think. It’s easy enough use the label “fake news”, but what about sites like The Onion which are intended to be funny, not factual. Satirical sites are not intended to deceive people, but to entertain them. While these types of sites often bury the fact that they are providing satire, not real news within their about me page, the fact remains that they are not real news sites.

An example of how one satirical news site created a problem involved a New Zealand satire website called Spinner. This site published a satirical news story entitled “Bush to invade Kiribati islands”, which created widespread panic in the country because people who read the story feared an invasion by America.

The Onion doesn’t have an obvious disclaimer on their published content, but they do claim to have a readership of 4.3 trillion people, which is well over the world’s population. That should at least spark enough doubt to look it up on Wikipedia or Google.

The real problem is how often these stories are shared and how many people read the headline, overreact and share them like they are real news. Most people who “read” the story never get past the first paragraph, which means they also aren’t likely to do any real research.

The other side of the spectrum relates to the malicious clickbait sites designed specifically to generate click-throughs, and sales. They make sites that look like real mainstream sites so they seem credible, while they are just money-making sites. Google and Facebook already have initiatives in place to ban such sites.

Then there are gossip magazines that focus on stories about celebrities that may or may not be true. Some of celebrity news sites adhere to basic journalism, using multiple sources, and other kinds of evidence to support their stories. However, some of their stories may still be less than factual. They at least try to vet their stories, so perhaps they shouldn’t be labeled as fake news sites. Not all gossip, rumor, or satirical sites are used for deception.

There should be a way to categorize and flag these sites so people know they are rumor/gossip sites, satirical sites, or fake news sites so people have a clearer picture of what they are looking at before they believe it or even share it as real news.

What about news that people think is fake, but later turns out to be true? It happens with politics, government data, medical data, scientific data, and religious data. Consider Galileo in his day when his scientific findings were dismissed as false that were found to be true later.

Promising to ban fake news from social media and search engines is essentially a false promise. It isn’t possible to differentiate between fake news, bots (e.g. https://fredharrington.com/best-instagram-bots/) fiction, satire, gossip, rumors and truth. They can label click-bait sites, but defining “fake” news is another issue. A broader labeling scheme is needed to help people ascertain the difference between these sites because of the gray areas between them all.

 

How Does the Future of CIJ Technology Look?

How Does the Future of CIJ Technology Look?

Continuous Inkjet, also referred to as CIJ technology is one of two wildly popular and dominant technologies that are used today for industrial coding. CIJ is popular because it’s fast, low-maintenance, and very reliable. The advantages of CIJ printing technology are that it can be used on virtually any packaging material, on curved surfaces, and it adheres well to every material upon which it is used.

CIJ is one of the oldest and still most reliable printing technology to date. Whenever reliability, speed, accuracy, and flexibility are called for in printing, it’s the go-to tech.

 

How does CIJ work?

The basic process of CIJ printing begins when a stream of the appropriate ink is broken down into several miniscule droplets inside an electrically charged chamber. The electrical pulse comes from a non-conducting source like ceramic or a quartz crystal.

A vibration is applied to force the charged ink droplets to pass through an electrostatic field found between its deflector plates. The speed and charge applied helps with the proper positioning of the ink droplets that drop onto the substrate and stick to it. No part of the print head touches the substrate. Excess ink (where applicable) is recirculated and returned and stored in the appropriate tank to be used again.

Up to around 120,000 miniscule ink droplets, measuring around half the diameter of a single human hair, are propelled onto the substrate per second. That is one of the reasons it’s fast, efficient, versatile, and why the ink adheres so well to a wide range of surfaces.

The base solvent used in the CIJ process also allows the ink to dry quickly on production lines, which is crucial to productivity and quality. CIJ printers are capable of printing codes on almost any surface regardless of its shape, size, texture, or porosity.

 

How is CIJ used?

The primary purpose CIJ printing is used is for imprinting information on certain products like dates, batch codes, times, text, logos, and product names. It’s used to provide data on the product/package that can be used for tracing when needed and for compliance regarding mandatory laws and regulations.

CIJ printers can run for several hours before any servicing is necessary, which is better than other printing technologies. It’s a cost-effective solution that offers several diverse printing options for a wide variety of industries. Keeping costs down without affecting quality is important in the business world.

 

Where is CIJ used?

Industries that use CIJ printing technology include food and beverage, electronics, cosmetics, automobile construction, and numerous other industries where marking and coding is required by the government and other regulatory entities. CIJ has proven itself to be the simplest, most cost-effective and inexpensive, and reliable solution for several industrial applications since it can be used for coding and marking virtually any material, at any orientation or speed, and onto nearly any material regardless of the size, texture, or shape.

Continuous Inkjet printing technology has evolved and will continue to do so in the coming years. The basic premise of the printing process will likely remain the same, which means it will maintain its cost-effective and efficient status for years to come. It will continue to be popular and will likely expand its capabilities to more industries.

 

This article was contributed by Erryn Deane from Needham Ink. They manufacture and provide various types of industrial ink.

VMware: Life after EMC

VMware: Life after EMC

When EMC acquired VMware in 2007 waves were made in the technology world, primarily in the server sector.  VMware, after all, was by far the best in show when it came to cloud and virtualisation software and services.  It was a no brainer for EMC, who is a prominent player in the server build space.  The acquisition made EMC a power player in the cloud and virtual space overnight.  But in August of 2016 another such momentous occasion took place.  EMC bolstered by its VMware arm came face to face with one of the tech world’s biggest giants; Dell.

 

Dell has had a storied rise in both business and popularity ever since it was conceived by its owner and founder, Michael Dell.  After a 3-year hiatus from the company, Dell (the man) returned as the head of Dell in 2007 and the company has been on an upward trajectory ever since.  Dell (the company) has basically revolutionised the way consumers and businesses looked at their computer hardware.  Giving their customers the ability to customise their machines in the most hassle free way possible.  This, along with strategic partnerships, advanced marketing techniques and overhauling distribution practices, catapulted the company into the hardware giant it is today.  That’s why the $67 billion (USD) merger of Dell and EMC (the largest in history) is so significant.

 

More than just the mind-boggling dollar figure, the merger turned the hardware giant in Dell into a cloud and virtualisation powerhouse overnight, in a move reminiscent of EMC’s initial acquisition of VMware just under a decade ago.  The banner of EMC2 fell on September 27, 2016 and has forever been replaced by the trademark Dell’s logo, but what does this merger mean for the future of VMware, and more importantly what role will it play in Dell’s current environment?

 

 

According to both entities, the future is brighter for both VMware and Dell, that is after the initial hysteria and uncertainty.  Stock prices of both companies fluctuated significantly once the merger was announced.  Employees, managers and shareholders were unsure of what was to come next.  However, as the hours and days passed, official news and plans were revealed regarding the direction of both companies, and the market seemed to react positively.  Stock prices climbed back up and, if the trend holds, will surpass the pre-merger price in the coming months ahead.

 

For VMware, flying under the banner of Dell gives them much needed stability and reach.  Keep in mind, that VMware is a relatively young company when compared to the likes of EMC, Dell and Microsoft.  It has undergone and, in some case still is undergoing, growing pains.  With Dell’s guidance and backing, VMware can focus on growth and development without having to worry too much about mitigating the risk of both.  Dell’s enormous rolodex of clients (which is continuously growing thanks to Dell’s business development efforts) has been opened to VMware which exponentially increases their reach.  Remember that VMware is already in a class all its own when it comes to cloud and virtualisation services and this merger basically makes them almost untouchable.  Almost.  VMware CEO, Pat Gelsinger, was quick to admit that the only other competition out there is Microsoft with their Azure Stack fronted by Hyper-V.

 

But herein lies the rub.  Critics of the merger view Dell’s inextricable history with Microsoft as a potential for VMware’s downfall.  Almost since it started shipping out PC’s Dell has loaded them with Microsoft software.  For decades this has been standard operating procedure with each Dell box, laptop and server being powered or touched in some way by Microsoft.  Where then will Dell’s allegiance lie?  With its own product in VMware or with the company that it has partnered with for so long in Microsoft?

 

When it comes to server virtualisation it is almost an open and shut case with VMware dominating the market.  However, the emergence of the cloud space created a wrinkle in what was VMware’s absolute reign.  Microsoft’s cloud solution Azure is, for lack of a better term, blowing VMware’s solution, vCloud Air, out of the water.  To add fuel and confusion to the fire, Microsoft’s own CEO, Satya Nadella, posted a video stating that he acknowledges the merger but is looking forward to the continuous partnership that Dell and Microsoft has forged over the decades.  He also adds that Microsoft looks forward to expanding its cloud business with Dell.  In school yard parlance, they be fighting words.

 

So who does Dell ultimately side with.  With the merger, Dell now has a vested interest in the success of VMware.  However, in Microsoft resides a partnership spanning decades in which both companies have benefitted greatly.  VMware management has already stated that the merger will see a greater integration of VMware technology into Dell machines, but this will put Dell directly at odds with their decades long bedfellow in Microsoft.  The ball it seems is in Dell’s court, whether they like it or not.  Who will they back and who will they shun?  Turning their backs on Microsoft’s cloud solution may sour their relationship with software giant, but then again there are no “take-backs” when $67 billion worth of assets has already changed hands.

 

Pundits may argue that Dell may have got a bit more than they bargained for when they inked the EMC merger.  However, one thing is for certain, Dell got a bargain.  Oracle’s chairman Larry Ellison showed a bit of envy when discussing the merger, mentioning that were not Oracle already in the midst of developing their own cloud solution that they would have tried to outbid Dell to acquire EMC and VMware.  Dell and Ellison both believe that the acquisition was both logically and fiscally sound, and that the investment is very much worth it.  Dell is no longer the hardware giant of old.  With the undeniable might and power that it now possesses with the acquisition of VMware it has been transformed into a titan, something that is not often seen in any industry.

 

This article was contributed by David Share from Amazing Support. They provide IT Support in London and surrounding areas.

25 Things you didn’t know about Laser Technology

25 Things you didn’t know about Laser Technology

Laser cutting (engraving) has been in use for about 50 years. This technology has given businesses that use engraving, personalization, design, wood cutting, etching, and other like industries a faster, more efficient, precise, and easier way to manufacture handmade products and to mark products. Laser engraving and cutting technology is used for a multitude of tasks in a wide range of industries. Here are some interesting facts about laser technology, lasers, and laser engraving/cutting machines.

  1. The word laser isn’t just something some person made up. It’s an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”.
  2. Laser history can be tracked back to Einstein’s theory of light emission from 1916.
  3. Laser technology was born at Bell Labs in 1959.
  4. The term “a laser” is incorrectly used. There are several types of lasers used for various applications and purposes. Essentially they all work the same, but they differ in features and other attributes.
  5. Maser technology preceded laser technology. Maser is short for “microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. This technology was also created using Einstein’s theory and was used in atomic clocks.
  6. The earliest versions of laser technology were used to engrave wood and in 1965, the first laser cutter was used to drill holes in diamonds.
  7. Laser measuring is extremely precise and is accurate within a nanometer (a billionth of a meter).
  8. The world’s most powerful laser contains the power of a hydrogen bomb.
  9. Gillettes is not just a razor blade, but the unit upon which early lasers were measured for strength. The reason it named the measurement units in Gillettes is that it counted the number of razor blades the laser beam could cut through.
  10. The breathalyzer medical device uses laser technology to detect diabetes and cancer.
  11. The light beams of lasers are more parallel than any type of light source. Every part of each beam has the identical direction, which means the chance of divergence is low.
  12. You have probably seen laser tools in home improvement stores.
  13. During the Apollo 11 space mission, astronauts measured the distance between the moon and the earth. The readings were accurate within a mere finger’s width.
  14. Supermarket barcode scanners use laser technology and were used commercially for the first time in 1974.
  15. Laser engraving technology is used on a wide range of materials to create beautiful artwork and to personalize jewelry.
  16. The same kind of lasers used for engraving are also used in hair removal and for killing tumors.
  17. When you use a fingerprint scanner at work or in law enforcement offices, you are being scanned by a laser beam. Nowadays, these fingerprints are stored in large databases.
  18. Lasers are categorized into different classes according to the level of danger they pose. The range is one through five. Five is so dangerous that it can burn skin or cause permanent blindness.
  19. Laser tag, considered a fun thing to do among friends and family, was first used in the 1970s to train US Army troops as a non-lethal training program.
  20. Lasers are used in dentistry for quick and virtually painless cavity removal.
  21. Studies are being done to show that broken bones can now be healed faster using highly focused laser beams. This has not been introduced to the general public or for standard medical treatments.
  22. A tiny laser beam is powerful enough to etch the serial number on a diamond, considered the hardest natural substance known to man.
  23. Laser marking has become a popular industry that continues to grow. The use of lasers in this case is for the permanent marking of plastic, leather, metal, and other materials.
  24. Some industries that use laser marking include automotive, medical, diamond, personalization, and product marking,
  25. Today’s laser machines can be programmed for engraving and cutting using software designed to work with the technology.

These are just a few interesting facts about laser engraving technology that most people don’t know about. How many did you know?


This article was supplied by Erryn Deane from Needham Coding.

The Future of Ransomware

The Future of Ransomware

Insiders, experts, and pundits have weighed in on the future of ransomware.  Sorry to say, but it is looking pretty bleak.  The already potent attack vector is still roaming around unchallenged.  Poor defenses, gaping vulnerabilities and current data handling practices still puts thousands of businesses at risk every day.  Cybercriminals are exploiting some of the most basic crutches of businesses like lack of budget and technical know-how to maximise the amount of damage they can do while simultaneously maximising the amount of money they can extort from businesses and individuals alike.

 

Budget is a key issue when dealing with ransomware.  The sad truth is that the vast majority of businesses have and will continue to underestimate the amount of money that should be dedicated to building an air tight security system.  Instead businesses have mostly been acting on a reactionary basis.  This may be a logical when taking a “fix only what is broken approach”, but it’s different when a company’s systems are actively being breached by a criminal.  The criminals are not there to merely cause havoc to a system, they are usually looking to extract data.  Once a system has been penetrated by a ransomware attacker it is too late.

 

Businesses who lack the technically proficient employees required to keep up with the ever evolving attack methods of cybercriminals undoubtedly have massive gaps in their security systems.  Sure, once upon a time, their systems may have been state of the art (most likely when they purchased them), however as time goes on new exploits are created by attackers, the security community responds by creating updates and patches, and this is where businesses often fall short.  Often times businesses lack the in-house talent to properly install and implement these patches and updates (ironically the vast majority of these are free to download).  The gaps in security created by unpatched software only gets bigger over time and makes a breach all but inevitable.

 

While businesses need to step up their security game in a big way, there is still the other side of the equation that must be considered.  Ransomware attackers are nothing if not efficient.  They do not rest on their laurels.  They know that the majority of businesses are ill equipped to handle their type of attack and are prolific at coming up with new methods of penetration, information gathering and infection.  By the looks of it, ransomware attacks are changing and evolving even as you read this.  In the past, cybercriminals have relied on a less efficient way of distributing their exploits.  Using a “spray and pray” approach using mass phishing campaigns, the attackers would send out loaded emails to as many people within businesses as they can, in the hopes that one or more of these unsuspecting employees will open the email and download the attached file in which a malware or Trojan has been embedded.  Even though ransomware attackers have extorted countless millions using this methodology, they have deemed it far too inefficient and are starting to convert their tactics to that resembling a sniper.

 

This time around the weapon of choice will not be a widely distributed email or exploit, but will be a highly dedicated, highly focused self-propagating ransomware.  It has been dubbed a cryptoworm and it is a really, really big problem for those concerned with system security everywhere.  Self-propagating ransomware is not new, certain aspects of it have been used in attacks for nearly a decade now, but in cryptoworms this technology and method has been distilled and refined.  Cryptoworms not only have the ability to infiltrate a system and move within it vertically, but it also has the ability to move across systems laterally using a code and infiltration methods similar to those seen in Conficker and SQL Slammer worms.

While these two exploits are considered by many in the industry to be “old school” methods (Conficker was active in 2008, while SQL Slammer was causing a mess since 2003), they attack vectors are still potent due to the gaping, unpatched loopholes found in systems of many businesses.  It seems that ransomware attackers are familiar with the old adage “don’t reinvent the wheel”, because they are now repurposing old, yet highly efficient, threats and baking them in to new exploits like cryptoworms.

 

 

This article was contributed by David Share from Amazing Support. They provide IT Support in London and surrounding areas.