2025 tech predictions an opportunity for hackers and innovators

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on May 18, 2015
NSA Headquarters

NSA Headquarters

The future – at least in the short term – will make our identities even more of an open book if we’re not careful. That’s according to a new report out from the Institute for the Future called Information Generation: Transforming the Future Today, and identifies five “key directional shifts” in the coming decade.

1. The information economy, which will take the data we generate from shopping, dieting or working out and securely chache it or sell it to the highest bidder.

Commerce in the data arena will be able to do everything from literally enrich us to helping society at large via the secure transfer of genomic data.

2. An increase of connected devices Not just your phone, but your car, your refrigerator and your headphones will all be talking to each other and sharing your habits with the Internet marketeers and manufacturers.

4. Multi-sensory communication, with tools like digital wristwatches (think Apple), will do everything from tap us on the shoulder to measuring our heart rate to remind us when our eyes have had too many screens.

Speaking of hacking, here are eight more trends as reported by USA Today:

Cyber predictions for 2015

1. While hacks of major retail businesses will continue to occur with frightening regularity, it will be the health care industry that will be the source of many, if not most, major data breaches. Due to a perfect storm of vulnerability caused by large amounts of stored electronic data shared by many users within the health care system, the health care industry has become a major target for hacking, with the stolen personal information used for identity theft, including medical identity theft. The effects of that can be particularly harmful when an identity thief’s medical records become mixed with the victim’s medical records. The FBI has warned the health care industry that its cyber security is not presently sufficient to protect the information it stores.

2. As evidenced by the recent attack on Sony, companies are extremely vulnerable to hacking by nation states, criminal organizations or terrorists. The type of malware used to attack government agencies and major corporations is increasingly available to such groups who are showing a willingness to wreak havoc for purposes not restricted to financial gain.

3. A key element found in just about all major data breaches is that the malware necessary to harm the company or governmental agency is unwittingly downloaded. This is done through sophisticated phishing e-mails that appear to be legitimate and are specifically addressed to the employee or third-party contractor who is the weak link. Then it is exploited by luring that person into downloading the malware that brings about the hacking. These e-mails will continue to become more difficult to recognize in the upcoming year. Dealing with this type of phishing, called spear phishing or social engineering, and learning how to identify it must become an element of primary security for everyone, including individuals, companies and government agencies.

4. The Cloud will become even more broadly used by everyone for data storage and will consequently become a greater target for hackers and identity thieves. They will will focus their attention on hacking smartphones to gain the passwords necessary for access to the victims’ information in the cloud. Greater use of dual-factor identification, and greater attention to smartphone security, including complex passwords, encryption and security software, will help us all increase security.

5. Just as in 2014 we learned of the Heartbleed and Shellshock computer vulnerabilities that had been present, but largely unrecognized, for years, so will we find that other long-standing vulnerabilities will be discovered and exploited by identity thieves and hackers. Part of the problem is that much of the development of new software is built upon open-source programming such as Open SSL that contained and most likely still contains vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited. Developers have got to do a better job of building in security and updating security to all programs.

6. Personal banking and other financial transactions will become increasingly mobile and consequently will become an increasing target of hackers and identity thieves. We can learn from the experience in Europe where mobile banking has been done longer and where hackers have been able to even defeat dual-factor identification programs used for enhanced security. A great source of the problem with smartphone security can be traced to malicious apps that are unwittingly downloaded. Limiting your sources for apps to legitimate vendors, such as Google App, can help limit your vulnerability.

7. Hacks of major retailers will increase in the months preceding October of 2015. That is the date that stores must switch to smart cards with computer chips that generate a unique number for every individual transaction. Although some stores, such as Walmart have already switched to smart card technology, many have not, and many people have not received new credit cards with computer chips to avail themselves of the protection provided by the new system. Security measures to eliminate the types of hacking done to Target, Home Depot and others have still not been sufficiently taken by many American companies.

8. Expect a repeat in 2015. As exposed recently by the security company FireEye, hackers were able to use spear-phishing techniques to gain access to pharmaceutical companies’ computers, data and e-mails in order to gain information that they could use for purposes of profiting by insider trading using information not available to the public. We can well expect that this scenario will be repeated again and again in 2015.

Google to make surgery robots

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on May 15, 2015

Google and Johnson & Johnson are teaming up to develop robots that can perform surgery.  The companies say they are developing a “platform” to make robotic assistants to help doctors during surgery. Financial terms were not disclosed. What are your thoughts? Click the image to read more:
Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 12.15.55 PM

California’s drought problems need innovators to step up

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on May 1, 2015

I travel to California frequently, and have seen first hand the devastating effects of the drought and the water problems facing people and businesses. And many other states will soon feel the pinch of what’s happening to our California friends, by way of food shortages and the like. But for those who live and work there, California is becoming a land of thirst. Thankfully, there are many great minds working on this issue. Boston-based Cambrian Innovation is one. It has seen a spike in California inquiries for EcoVolt, a self-contained system that uses electrically active microbes to both purify wastewater and generate energy-producing methane gas. EcoVolt is aimed at food and beverage companies, and is in use by a few California wineries and breweries. Read more here:

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 3.21.57 PM

Amazon says government red tape is impeding innovation

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 30, 2015

We all know how frustrating red tape can be. Last week Amazon vented just a bit before a Senate subcommittee, telling them that they are stifling innovation.

Amazon says that the Federal Aviation Administration is taking so long to approve its requests to test-fly unmanned drones that the models they’re developing are becoming obsolete before they’ve even taken to the skies. Amazon officials say their original application took a year and a half to be approved, according to The Verge. By that time, the company had already developed a completely different design. Read about it here:

At Boeing, Innovation Means Small Steps, Not Giant Leaps

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 19, 2015

This is a great lesson learned for aerospace giant Boeing, who recently discovered that saving up a trove of advanced technologies for a single new project was simply too expensive and disruptive to succeed.  The WSJ has the story:

Source; Boeing, via the Wall Street Journal

After a turbulent decade, Boeing Co. is rethinking its formula for innovation.

The 99-year-old aerospace giant long has focused on developing new technologies that it reserved for big projects every 15 years or so to craft the fastest—and farthest-flying jetliners—such as its 787 Dreamliner.

Today, Boeing is centering innovation on incremental improvements that it can deliver more quickly to airlines with greater reliability and at a lower price, said Ray Conner, chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, in an interview.

Mr. Conner is overseeing the development of seven models to upgrade Boeing’s portfolio of jets with capacities from 125 seats to just over 400 seats, plus a new military refueling tanker. The updated products are adapting some of the technologically advanced features of the Dreamliner to models that have long been in production.

“It’s not to say you don’t innovate,” said Mr. Conner. He wants engineers “innovating more on how to [design jets] more simplistically, as opposed to driving more complexity,” he said. “How do you innovate to make it more producible? How do you innovate to make it more reliable?”

Read the rest here

Innovation helps Japan’s tsunami-hit farmers bounce back

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 17, 2015

Here is a great example – one of many innovative approaches taken to help eastern Japanese farmers bounce back from the tsunami, modernize the region’s agriculture and increase farming output.

wikipediaSENDAI, Japan – Even before a tsunami swamped fields east of the Japanese city of Sendai in March 2011, Chikako Sasaki and her husband, a rice farmer, had dreamed of starting a business selling food made from their own produce.

The tsunami was sparked by the biggest earthquake to hit Japan since records began, killing nearly 16,000 people and wiping out villages and towns in what was described as the country’s worst crisis since World War Two.

But just two years after the disaster, thanks to government subsidies and the enterprising spirit of the Sasakis and other farming families, Chika-chan’s Riceball Teahouse began serving lunches made by local women in its open kitchen.

“There was nowhere to work after the tsunami,” explained Sasaki, standing in the first-floor dining room. “So we decided to open this cafe, and now we all enjoy working here together.”

The restaurant is just one example of many innovative approaches taken to help eastern Sendai’s farmers bounce back from the tsunami, modernize the region’s agriculture and increase farming output.

The rice used in Chika-chan’s “nigiri” balls and curry dishes, also sold in the shop downstairs, is grown by the women’s husbands. The vegetables come from their own plots, and the “miso” – a fermented soya-bean paste – is made by hand.

The company in Wakabayashi ward also has a processing facility nearby, and is planning to expand its other activity of making boxed lunches for convenience stores and public events.

Sasaki said her husband managed to get his rice output back up to pre-disaster levels three years after the tsunami hit.

Recovery from the disaster has been a tough process for farmers, whose land was strewn with debris and contaminated with seawater. In eastern Sendai, along the coast, some 1,800 hectares of farmland were damaged, most of it rice paddies.

Read the rest here

Filed Under: Innovation

No room for fear

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 14, 2015

Fearless free photo pixabay

You’ve heard it said, “no guts, no glory?” In open innovation, there is no room for fear.

Many companies today are averse to taking risks in this economy, and who can blame them?  When leaders are not willing to take risks, their corporate culture might seem “safe.”

But managing risks is something we can all do well, with the right culture, systems and tools in place. I tell companies to boldly embrace disruption, especially in their existing internal processes.

The goal is not to upset the applecart, but to look for more apples, in new talents, technologies, skills and partners. We also must embrace the possibility of failure, and encourage risk taking within reason. Going back to building trust in your organization, you have to encourage innovators on your team to learn from their mistakes and succeed from failure.

Building Conversations Create Innovative Ideas

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 10, 2015

pixabay free photoWe all want to get employees excited about innovation, especially when changes are something they themselves helped create. They want to talk about it, and they should!  And we should help, so that excitement builds across the organization and spills over to your customers and to the world.

So what’s the best way to help them have those conversations? I recently spotted a case study over on Fast Company, in which researchers studied innovation efforts at Red Hat, Rite-Solutions, KBS+, and Boston Children’s Hospital,T found three factors that led to conversational success:

  1. Provide a strong vision, but not the solutions.Management offers overall strategy guidance or poses specific problems to be addressed, but lets employees drum up ideas, both individually and in teams.
  2. Offer structured forums for discussions. To ensure that good ideas are spotted and developed, companies create discussion frameworks, such as innovation days and challenges.
  3. Empower employees who step up to affect change. Management takes on the role of keeping the conversation going by offering employees guidance, mentoring, and resources. They make sure employee ideas aren’t shut down by others and that employees who fail aren’t penalized.

Read the resulting strategy here:

Volvo’s safe night spray gets glowing reviews

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 2, 2015

Did you know that in the Netherlands, one out of three people consider a bicyle as their main form of transportation?  Now the Volvo company has come up with a unique way to make commuting by bike more safe, with a transparent spray that cyclists and pedestrians can apply on their clothes or bikes before heading out into the night.

Volvo collaborated with advertising agency Grey London to bring their commitment to safety outside car doors, and when they joined forces with Swedish startup Albedoo100, LifePaint was born.

LifePaint is a highly reflective spray that’s invisible during the day but shines brightly when a light source — like the glare of a headlight — hits it. The safety spray washes off, and it doesn’t change the color of the surface to which it’s been applied.

Click the image to read the story

Click the image to read the story

The Invention That Changed March Madness

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 1, 2015

For my basketball friends, a little something innovative to consider as we head to the Final Four. (Go Badgers!):

The NCAA’s March Madness tournament is in full swing, and in addition to the players and the coaches, our team here at WNYC Radio is watching out for the whistles on the court.

We are blowing the whistle on the most intense aspect of the March Madness competition: The Fox 40 whistle. It’s the official referee whistle of the tournament and was initially invented by a jolly Canadian businessman, inventor, and basketball freak by the name of Ron Foxcroft.

Foxcroft’s patented invention improves upon the whistle—an invention whose mother was a very terrifying necessity: Making sure a whistle blows when its needs to blow.

It’s something Ron discovered when he was refereeing the Olympic gold medal game between the U.S. and Yugoslavia.

Today, Foxcroft is the founder and CEO of the company that makes the Fox 40, along with hundreds of other products. He’s a former NCAA referee and the father of three boys whose determination has insured that no referee has to worry about not being heard ever again.

Story here: