Tech News

Brexit Blindsides English Tech Industry

In London many tech and media companies are set to bolt town in the wake of the Brexit. Many are beginning to wonder if this could be the end of London’s position as Europe’s  media capital of the continent.  Since the begining of the television revolution, London has been there to answer the call, and more importantly collect those dollars of the market. London in many ways has long been seen as the finacial and media capital of the world just behind the United States of America. American tech and media companies such as Facebook and Google have hube offices there, and it’s an English speaking toehold for American firms doing business on the continent.

Now to put this in the context of recent developments most notably the Brexit. This does not mean that there aren’t consequences for the firms in the media and business sectors that are based out of London. In fact its quite the opposite really. According to Frank Sinton who is the CEO of Beachfront Media, a company that makes an advertising platform for mobile video he says that, “We’d been thinking about an EU extension for the last year, and we took a month long trip to figure out where we wanted to set up base, it became pretty clear among the media and ad community that London was the clear choice. But the leave campaign winning has us completely reevaluating.” 

You may think that given the recent developments on the isle there is going to be some recourse that is not favorable. This is most certainly the case, but what does not naturally follow which would in most cases of industry is the notion that they will be overhauled and taken over by some new hub of industry. The reason being is that there is very little they can do in this regard to really not be seen as a go to, and the sheer fact that there isn’t really anyone who is even positioned to take them to that level and necessitate England’s fall from grace. What I mean by that is the only thing that will happen is an attack to quality and scope but they do not face an existential threat to their holdings. Carter Pilcher, is the head of Shorts international, a video company that specializes in (surprise) and or short form video for a largely concurs with Sintons. “I think it will go from the capital of media in Europe to capital of the U.K. The biggest beneficiary is possibly Germany, but probably the Netherlands, because their regulation system is effective.”

“A lot of American TV type businesses-MTV,CNN, Discovery- are all headquarter in London because it’s a much easier place to live… it’s an enormous set of media companies; And they haven’t yet negotiated what will happen but i am almost certain that the EU will not allow TV networks created outside the EU to broadcast because media is too precious to be regulated outside the trade zone.” This is the state of affairs we find on the isle known as Britain.

FBI Employee Information Accessed By Hacker

This Monday, the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced that investigations were taking place regarding a hacker that broke into the American government’s computer systems and stole sensitive information about employees at the agencies.

The hacker accessed and stole information regarding 9,000 Department of Homeland Security employees online Sunday and publicized data on 20,000 FBI employees on Monday.

DHS spokesperson S.Y. Lee gave the following staement:

motherboard“We are looking into the reports of purported disclose of DHS employee contact information… We take these reports very seriously; however, there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive or personally identifiable information.”

The Department of Justice was investigating “unauthorized access of a system operated by one its its components containing employee contact information,” and added that no sensitive personally identifiable information appeared to have been compromised.

Strange statements considering that DHS data posted to the Web contained phone numbers and email addresses of past employees, though some of them hadn’t worked int he agency for years.

Motherboard did report the data theft on Sunday, claiming that a hacker had turned stolen information over to it and announced his intention to go public with the information.

According to Motherboard, the hacker was able to use the email account of a DOJ employee and social engineering to enter into the agency’s intranet and download 200GB of files. This was all explained to Motherboard by the hacker.

Motherboard is a section of Vice news focused on the future:

“With in-depth blogging, longford reporting, and video journalism, Motherboard investigates the news and events that are already affecting the years to come. We want to help you get your hands on tomorrow. Beyond that, we strive to bring our audience an honest portrait of the futures we’re racing towards.”

The hacker apparently failed to penetrate the DOJ Web portal on his own,  but had the bright idea to call a government department, act like a newbie, and simply request the code for accessing the portal, which eh was given over the phone. Once inside, he gained access to the computer used by the person whose email he had compromised and gained access to DOJ’s internal network.

mb2“It was a fairly simplistic attack combined with social engineering, but audacious when your’e going after an FBI employee,” commented chief research analyst with IT-Harvest Richard Stiennon. “It’s easy for complacency to set in at high-volume call environments such as government help desks… If you flood a help desk with password reset requests and similar requests without any negative consequences, eventually operators are going to get comfortable handing out login tokens.”

The whole situation is an indicator of the limits of even the most secure systems; the gullible employee is always the Achilles’ heel.

“All the advanced algorithms, machine learning and log aggregators can’t protect an organization from a gullible employee susceptible to the ‘Look, your shoe’s untied’ ruse,” commented Stealthbits Technologies channel marketing manager Jeff hill.

“In today’s world, the best cybersecurity strategy is to look for and identify suspicious behavior of legitimate accounts,” he added.

Zano Fails, Kickstarter Hires Investigative Journalist

Zano promised the world a mini-drone with a host of bells and whistles, and the world was psyched. Its Kickstarter raised over $3 million and earned its stature as a Kickstarter staff pick. It was even short listed for its best of CES 2015 award and chosen as one of Popular Science’s 100 most amazing innovations of 2015 last October.

torquing groupUnfortunately, the crew behind Zano just couldn’t deliver on its promises.  Its failure sparked intense anger among Kickstarter donors, who accused Zano of scamming them out of their hard-earned donations. Kickstarter took a creative approach to the mounting tension, enlisting an investigative journalist named Mark Harris to determine what factors led to Zano’s disappointing inability to produce.

Based in Seattle, Harris was shown to South Wales, where he spent six weeks conducting interviews and connecting the dots to complete an epic tale of tragedy that was no scam, but a legitimate failure on the part of Zano.

It all started with a business called the Torquing Group, a business led by self-taught engineer Ivan Reedman. Reedman wanted to create a marketable drone that, through clever and misleading marketing, lit Kickstarter on fire and galloped towards its target goal.

Unfortunately, once the money was secured, Reedman and his associates soon discovered that the past to mass producing what would have been an incredible drone was fraught with obstacles; obstacles none of them was equipped to handle.

“Torquing’s director managed their business poorly and spent the Kickstarter money too freely, but I’ve found no evidence that any of them ended up rich on the backs of the crown,” concluded Mark Harris in his 13,000 word write up. He claims that as production problems increased, Touring associates demonstrated “a dangerous lack of self-awareness of the problems the company was making for itself.”

Reedman himself apparently admitted that neither he or any member of his team “possessed the technical or commercial competencies necessary to deliver the Zano as specified in the original campaign.”

And so a humbling lesson was duly learnt by Reedman and the Tourquing group. But what about Kickstarter?

kickstarterHarris asserted that Kickstarter and other funding websites must “reconsider the way they deal with projects involving complex hardware, massive overfunding, or large sums of money,” advising that they bring in mentors to keep an eye on projects like Zano which suddenly become responsible for opening much more money on many more consumers than originally projected.

Harris also stated that Kickstarter and crowd-funding websites should be much more straight-forward about the risks that backers face; after all, it’s not Kickstarter’s responsibility if a project like Zano ends up tanking.

Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler wasn’t open to much of Harris’s criticisms. He claims that Kickstarter’s rules regarding realistic videos and genuine prototypes are extremely difficult to enforce, and that it is a backer’s responsibility to assess the potential for the creator to successfully create the product.

“If you want 100% success with hardware and new products, I think the only solution is that you just shop on Amazon,” Strickler stated.