News

Everyday Objects, Updated for The Internet of Things 150 150 Kerry Butters

Everyday Objects, Updated for The Internet of Things

Picture a world where tiny, intelligent devices capture information about how we live, and what we do. And communicate with each other. In our houses, cars, and factories.

Coffee-pots talk to alarm clocks. Thermostats speak with motion sensors. All choreographed to respond to our needs, solve problems – even save our lives.

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Why Technology is Forcing Business Infrastructures to Adapt 150 150 Kerry Butters

Why Technology is Forcing Business Infrastructures to Adapt

Simple fact of evolution: when change occurs, you either adapt to it and survive, or don’t – and perish. In business, change is ongoing, and an organisation frequently relies on IT’s ability to develop and adapt technology to support new and improved processes.

Game-changers

In their 2013 report, “The Search for Creative Destruction,” analysts at Goldman Sachs identified 8 products or processes set to impact the business arena, with evolutionary consequences.

1. E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes (a.k.a e-cigarettes or e-cigs) could grab 10% of the global tobacco market ($10bn), over the next several years. Offering the “good” aspects of smoking, with “none” of the bad (also, not subject to excise taxes or settlement payments), the technology will offer high margins for manufacturers and retailers.

2. Cancer Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy trains the immune system to attack cancer cells, unlike chemotherapy (which can kill healthy cells) and “targeted” therapy (which cancers often develop resistance to). Combination therapies may earn $10-15 billion by 2025, with lung cancer as the primary sector.

3. Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

With energy savings of up to 85%, longer life-spans, and programmable capabilities, LED lighting could dominate the commercial sector by 2020.

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Android L Keeps Business and Home Separate 150 150 Kerry Butters

Android L Keeps Business and Home Separate

When Android L arrives later this year, it may put an end to the days of carrying separate devices for work and leisure. The mobile platform now boasts the ability to separate data on a single handset or tablet.

How It’s Been Done, So Far:

Historically, there’ve been five ways to access your business and personal accounts without having to carry two phones:

1. Virtual Machines

Created by software your employer installs on your personal phone. Mobile Device Management (MDM) software like Microsoft’s System Centre can control settings on your phone, making sure your security set-up is safe for work.

Virtual machine software like VMware’s MVP permits a phone to maintain a separate business environment with its own apps and settings, distinct from personal data. A phone within a phone.

2. Remote Desktops

Similar to a virtual machine, there are apps (e.g. LogMeIn Ignition on Android) that let a smartphone have access to a Mac or PC. You can see and control programs running on the faraway computer.

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New Jobs, New Workers, and New Digital Frontiers 150 150 Kerry Butters

New Jobs, New Workers, and New Digital Frontiers

The workplace has changed a lot, in the last 20 years. Today, there’s some form of computer at every desk, telecommuting is common, and traditional cubicles have given way to more collaborative work spaces.

Where do we go, from here?

Well, PSFK, a popular blog that also acts as a consultancy, has come up with its own version of the future of work, based on ideas that are already gaining ground. Their report runs to 138 pages (and costs around $150), but I’ve summarised several of the main points (and some input from other sources) below.

New Jobs…

A recent LSE/PSI project suggests the existence of a digital divide, with manual workers having less opportunity to learn and exercise new information-based skills – even though their knowledge of IT is substantial, from using computers at home.

At government level, there’s a widespread belief that the key to genuine improvements lies in encouraging more skills training among employees – especially in the areas of information and telecommunications technology. Policy-makers see raising the level and value of formal educational qualifications as vital to improving competency at work, and promoting more innovation and creativity.

In future, learning initiatives for young entrepreneurs will become common. In the Enstitute model, university students are matched with start-ups, where they learn the ins-and-outs of a company, take relevant Skillshare classes, work on projects, and sit in on panels.

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Android Apps on Your Chromebook 150 150 Kerry Butters

Android Apps on Your Chromebook

At Google I/O, the company’s developer conference in June, it was announced that Chrome OS will now support Android apps natively, and that Chromebooks will run them on-screen in their own windows.

Since most people who have Chromebooks also have phones, greater integration between Android devices and the Chrome OS should come as welcome news.

Great. When?

Sundar Pichai, Google’s Senior VP of Android, Chrome and apps, didn’t say when the feature would actually arrive.

“We’re in early days,” was his statement, at the conference. But he did demonstrate some of the functionality that Google proposes.

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VR Becomes Mainstream – Google’s Headset Dubbed ‘Cardboard’ 150 150 Kerry Butters

VR Becomes Mainstream – Google’s Headset Dubbed ‘Cardboard’

Being in another world – not just looking at a place on a computer screen, but actually experiencing it, as if you’re standing there.

That’s the magic of virtual reality (VR).

Till now, it’s largely been the province of clunky hardware, powered by high-strength processors. Expensive, and unattainable.

With a new app from Google that lets Android users transform their phones into VR headsets, this looks set to change.

Get Cardboard

You’ll need to; but, more of that later.

Google’s system, codenamed ‘Cardboard’, was a hit at the recent Google I/O 2014 developers’ conference. It’s so named, because the visor component which houses the phone can be constructed from simple materials. The aim is to create a low-cost platform users can assemble on their own.

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Security and the Cloud 150 150 Kerry Butters

Security and the Cloud

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years surrounding security and the cloud and it was something that delayed initial traction in the market until reasonably recently. However, as more and more businesses have made the transition, it’s clear that faith in cloud services has grown.

Despite a recent Ponemon Institute study, which found that moving to the cloud could triple the cost of a data breach, there’s still plenty of evidence to suggest that the cloud is much safer than many business premises.

45% of Network Attacks Due to Malware

A recent study by NTT Group found that businesses are still not doing enough when it comes to securing the company network. In fact, it was found (somewhat worryingly) that many businesses don’t even have the most basic protection, such as antivirus software and vulnerability scanning, in place.

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The Cloud and Data as an International Currency 150 150 Kerry Butters

The Cloud and Data as an International Currency

When people and organisations talk about putting information in “the cloud,” data is moved outside their premises, often to a service rented on-demand from large-scale providers like Google, Microsoft, or Amazon.  Cloud storage enables people to gather, retain and generate huge amounts of data – and to derive actionable intelligence from it.

Technological innovation has turned this information into a valuable corporate asset.

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Big Data and Market Estimates for 2014 150 150 Kerry Butters

Big Data and Market Estimates for 2014

With the usual caveats, about prediction being an inexact science, and “the value of shares can go down, as well as up”…

To Date:

 Almost two-thirds of 720 companies surveyed by Gartner last year said they were funding Big Data gathering and analysis projects, or planned to, by the end of 2013.

 A.T. Kearney forecasts global spending on Big Data hardware, software and services will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 30% through 2018, reaching a total market of $114bn. The average business is expected to spend $8m on related initiatives this year.

 The high level of interest and hype surrounding analytics, Big Data and business intelligence (BI) has led to a proliferation of market projections and forecasts.

 

Advanced and Predictive Analytics (APA)

Simplified APA tools (less flexible than standalone statistical models, yet with more intuitive graphical user interfaces and easier-to-use features) are fuelling adoption.

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Why you should Consider Automating your Infrastructure 150 150 Kerry Butters

Why you should Consider Automating your Infrastructure

Virtualisation is the practice of running event or process simulations on a desktop, or through the cloud. It can be useful in creating models or scenarios for new products or scheduled events.

 For IT administrators, virtualisation cuts down on hardware costs and maintenance, but adds a host of new management tasks. Performing each job of monitoring, provisioning or maintenance is not only time-consuming, but leaves room for human error.

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Why the Data Storage Industry is Changing 150 150 Kerry Butters

Why the Data Storage Industry is Changing

For years organisations have been grappling with data backup and recovery issues. Like the need to decide what data needs to be kept in near-term storage for easy access, what can live at a second level where it’s still accessible (perhaps not immediately), and what can be kept in deep archives.

Big Problems

The rise of Big Data brings fresh dilemmas. Besides scale, there are characteristics of Big Data management that distinguish it from traditional approaches.

Big Data analysis often involves large data stores that are really only useful for a short period. Once the analysis is over, the data has served its purpose. The question arises as to whether it’s worth keeping at all, much less backing up.

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[Infographic] Adoption of Wearable Tech 150 150 Kerry Butters

[Infographic] Adoption of Wearable Tech

Wearable technology is the latest tech fad, with more and more people choosing to adopt it in the consumer space. As this infographic from Tech X shows, for the most part adoption remains centred around health related wearables which boost our motivation when it comes to taking daily exercise and monitor things such as sleep patterns.

The rest of 2014 and 2015 is set to see a further rise in wearable adoption, as companies such as Samsung and Apple fight to enter the market on a high. Whilst the Pebble is still regarded by most as the smartwatch to own, this coming year will see a host of new devices enter the market. Exciting times for those who love their gadgets, which according to the image is around 48% when it comes to who will buy.

Of course, it’s not all just health devices and smartwatches. Google Glass will soon release the

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Data is Meaningless Without Analysis 150 150 Kerry Butters

Data is Meaningless Without Analysis

There’s value in organisations being able to analyse social media information and compile profiles to better target their customers. But creating, documenting, and retrieving vast amounts of data is one thing. Understanding it is an entirely different matter.

Context is Key

Measuring ‘likes’ or searching for keywords and phrases is pretty straightforward – a “sentiment analysis”. You might be tempted to develop a marketing strategy directly derived from this.

But there’ll always be examples of impulse buys, or snap decisions in the heat of the moment. And data samples may include information that’s not so easy to quantify – like pictures or videos.

In fact, the majority of actions will be based on the context surrounding them. Brand A might cost less, but B offers greater satisfaction. The sports car looks great, but what about the kids? And so on.

If a data analysis tool can’t provide further context around the solutions it offers, it’s at best, an expensive waste of time.

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Why GoodData and HP Vertica have Collaborated 150 150 Kerry Butters

Why GoodData and HP Vertica have Collaborated

And, why should you care? Well, the partnership brings together two companies from opposing ends of the data analysis / management spectrum – and could light the way for future collaborations in this sector.

The Players

GoodData is a rising star in the field of cloud analytics. The venture-backed start-up recently introduced an Open Analytics Platform to provide a comprehensive set of services spanning the entire analytics lifecycle, from initial collection of records to data processing, visualisation and business intelligence.

With analysis conducted on the fly, GoodData is designed to be very easy for even non-technical business people to use.

Vertica is a high-performance columnar database which Hewlett-Packard acquired from Vertica Systems in 2011. Built to handle really large amounts of data, Vertica is better tailored to address the performance and scalability requirements of enterprise customers.

The Rationale

A key challenge faced by organisations today is the need for speed, high availability, and flexibility of data and analytics. Traditional solutions weren’t built to handle the variety and volume of data flowing through data-driven companies.

Amid increasing demand for its service, GoodData has in effect signed up as a customer of HP Vertica,

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Prepare for your New Quantified Employees 150 150 Kerry Butters

Prepare for your New Quantified Employees

The “Quantified Self” movement has emerged with the rise of wearable devices like Fitbit, Jawbone Up and Nike Fuelband. These gadgets help people monitor their daily health: activities like steps taken, stairs climbed, sleep, and water consumption.

Some devices deliver health tips through a corresponding smartphone or desktop app. The idea being that the more we know about ourselves, the healthier we can be.

Not only are we monitoring our bodies, we’re slapping instruments on everything else. Homes are being monitored by tools like Nest.

Then, there’s social media. Facebook encourages us to post data about where we are, what we’re doing, and who we’re with. When you Tweet, you broadcast your location, what you’re reading or thinking, and often your photograph.

In the Workplace?

The movement has seen organisations begin using data and insights from personal tracking apps given to their employees (or which they’re encouraged to sign up for).

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Top Technology Blogs that your Business Should Be Following 150 150 Kerry Butters

Top Technology Blogs that your Business Should Be Following

Originally a sort of online personal journal,  web logs or blogs have since evolved into a powerful method of communication. Breaking news, insider perspectives, whatever; there’s an infinite number, covering any subject.

 

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10 Reasons Why Your Business Should Consider Chromebooks 150 150 Kerry Butters

10 Reasons Why Your Business Should Consider Chromebooks

Modern businesses have a huge amount of choice when it comes to technology products these days. The power of the cloud means that less storage space on the device is needed now, which further increases choice. It’s possible now to work on wafer thin devices that need very little in terms of power, or of course you can choose to have a laptop or a device that’s powered almost entirely by the cloud.

What IS a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are lightweight laptop computers which run on Chrome OS, an operating system made by Google. Designed primarily to be used online, they’re best suited to professionals who already use services like Gmail and Google Docs.

The Chrome OS

Chrome OS is similar to Windows or Mac OS X, but sits on a Linux platform. It’s

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Google I/O Roundup: What you Need to Know 150 150 Kerry Butters

Google I/O Roundup: What you Need to Know

Google I/O is the company’s annual developer conference and much like the Apple equivalent it offers a number of new tools and approaches. The main news out of the tech gathering is the fact that the Android OS will feature heavily in the company’s future.

The I/O conference is a three-hour-long keynote presentation that’s held in San Francisco, with Google executives and engineers showing off a number of new products. The aim it seems was to add better tech functionality to everyday tasks and users lives. Android powered devices are destined for cars, living rooms, and wrists – wearable tech will be another new platform for Google’s OS.

Let’s consider some of the new tech, products, and innovations promised by the increasingly prevalent Google.

Android’s Lollipop

The newest version of the Android OS featured heavily at the conference and the VP of design at Google Matias Duarte led the discussion. The new OS is titled Lollipop or L for short and it comes with a load of new tools for users to enjoy.

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Top 5 Things to Know about Android L 150 150 Kerry Butters

Top 5 Things to Know about Android L

At Google’s most recent developer conference in San Francisco the company revealed its new mobile OS. The Android update is dubbed “L” or Lollipop and it sits within an emerging range of interconnected Google devices and software ensuring ease of communication between devices.

Let’s have a look then at some of the new approaches to the Android OS and how those may better the experience of this mobile software. This is this is the biggest Android update in a very long time.

New Look

Android 5.0 (or L) looks very different to the current Android 4.4 interface. L is much more vibrant than the current Android OS and it uses interface layers to provide a sense of depth.

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How the Cloud Brings You Better Workers 150 150 Kerry Butters

How the Cloud Brings You Better Workers

The cloud has helped to bring businesses around the world closer together. Cloud storage has made documents that would otherwise have to be downloaded immediately available, and cloud computing has brought familiar software to offices that would otherwise have to go without. But perhaps the greatest impact of the cloud on businesses in the future is how it is changing the shape of our workforces.

Everyone’s Local

Whereas in the past businesses were restricted in their hiring by both their location, and their budget for relocating the talent they wanted, cloud services like storage and remote desktops mean that it’s now possible for employees to work from practically anywhere as long as it’s got a data connection and they have a device capable of accessing it.

Remote working like this used to be a burden for businesses, as it often served as a disruption to regular operations. However, now that it’s possible to unify all documents and software in the cloud, there’s no disruption

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Overview of Amazon Cloud 150 150 Kerry Butters

Overview of Amazon Cloud

As more and more businesses move towards doing their business on the web, it’s important that the infrastructure is in place to handle the challenges that kind of move presents. When you’re not dealing locally with one another, or even with physical objects, there’s a huge amount to take into consideration. How long does a file take to transfer? How is someone going to have access to the right software? Will there be enough processing power available to the user when they need it?

These are all problems that cloud companies are now racing to answer, and cloud infrastructure is set to be big business in the future. Very few companies understand this better than Amazon; whose cloud services are among the top services available today for businesses looking to take themselves to the next level.

Amazon Cloud listed by Gartner as a leader in the ‘infrastructure as a service’ (IaaS) section of their Magic Quadrant report for the third time in three years. They also listed Amazon Web Services (AWS) as having the best complete vision and ability to execute of all others in the magic quadrant. If you needed more evidence of Amazon cloud’s prowess, you need only consider that the Amazon website itself, which received 164 million unique visitors in the USA alone, runs on AWS.

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Computing Degree or IT Certification? 150 150 Kerry Butters

Computing Degree or IT Certification?

It’s a hotly debated topic on IT forums; whether a degree is necessary to work in IT, or if you only need the correct certifications. Certainly all you need to technically do a job is the correct certifications and an understanding of any programs and work that might relate to your field. However, many employers are looking for more than just the ability to do the job.

The choice is partially financial. If you can afford to do a full time degree program, then it’s probably advisable, as a degree gives you a qualification that benchmarks salary and increases your earning potential as you go through life. There are also a lot of benefits to being in an academic environment for that long a time.

You’ll not only learn about your subject, but you will be given the chance to explore other talents that may be useful to you in the future. University is also often the place you make your first business contacts. Many people get their first jobs, or further business, through these contacts, and they can’t be underestimated.

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2014 Facts about the Cloud 150 150 Kerry Butters

2014 Facts about the Cloud

Cloud computing is something that’s here to stay. The legacy of the cloud has been debated for some time but now businesses are embracing this new technology at a faster rate. The cloud allows a business to free up its employees with bring your own device policies and remove them from tethered PC options.

There are plenty of reasons to jump on board the cloud bandwagon but there are likely still some areas of cloud computing (and its benefits) that remain unclear to some businesses. According to a recent study, one of the most important reasons to shift to cloud computing is to connect employees through a multitude of computing devices – ones that they already use.

The cloud is simply about removing traditional restrictions on data and making it readily accessible on multiple devices with no decrease in functionality. This better-connected world is becoming more and more commonplace. So, let’s consider some of the other benefits of cloud computing and some that you may not have thought of before.

Here are some cloud predictions for 2014.

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Google Gets Girls Coding 150 150 Kerry Butters

Google Gets Girls Coding

The IT skills gap is now well documented and there are a few initiatives going on around the world that seek to address the issue. In the UK we’re about to see Computer Science come in as a core subject in the curriculum which goes beyond the current ICT qualification and introduces coding and understanding how computers are put together.

At the moment, ICT is more concerned with using applications than anything else and whilst this is of course valuable when it comes to workplace skills, it’s not going to get anyone a job as an engineer or programmer.

Made With Code – Google Initiative

A new initiative from Google seeks to address the skills gap and the lack of women in IT. Last month the search giants announced that just 17% of its technology employees are women. With this in mind, the company has launched Made With Code, a website that provides access to

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A Guide to CompTIA Certifications 150 150 Kerry Butters

A Guide to CompTIA Certifications

In the online world it’s important to be known for your skillset. There are always going to be numerous competitor businesses doing the same job as you are. But the difficulty that consumers face is picking the right business, or even the best individual, to fulfill their needs. That’s why there are often plenty of different types of certified qualifications that a business can achieve to mark them out as qualified and good at what they do.

CompTIA is one of those qualifications and the certification demonstrates that an individual has a solid grasp on various aspects of the computing industry. There are many different potential accreditation types within CompTIA’s library. One such option is in the cloud computing industry. This means that someone certified by CompTIA has a business and technical perspective on cloud models and infrastructure, as well as a good knowledge of what is involved in moving a business infrastructure to the cloud.

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5 Really Useful Productivity Apps on Android 150 150 Kerry Butters

5 Really Useful Productivity Apps on Android

We recently wrote a blog post about the security problems on the Android OS. Many consider Android to have quite an issue with malicious coding and malware but that’s really not the case. So, in the spirit of becoming reacquainted with the mobile OS here are 5 apps to help increase your productivity.

Increasingly, smart phones are used as portable computers with nearly all of the functionality of a laptop or even a tethered PC. The proliferation of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies ensures that more and more employees are joining the burgeoning ranks of the mobile, transient workforce.

With Android being the most used mobile platform we thought we’d help you out and save you some time. So, without further ado, here are our choices of the top five productivity applications available on the Android OS.

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The Truth about Android Malware 150 150 Kerry Butters

The Truth about Android Malware

Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Developing nations are jumping onboard this platform at a fast rate but there are some negatives to consider. Android has a bad reputation when it comes to malicious malware. This is often very dangerous and it can completely wipe a user’s phone and with it their personal details.

There are lots of accounts of harmful malware being discovered in apps and on Android running phones. Malware on Google’s OS seems set to rise and Google has recently begun patching some of the numerous holes in its mobile platform. Mobile malware is up by 700% since 2011 and most of it is destined for the Android OS.

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Introducing Swift – Apple’s New Programming Language 150 150 Kerry Butters

Introducing Swift – Apple’s New Programming Language

At a recent developers conference, Apple revealed its new iOS 8. This was met with mostly favourable responses and the current beta test is being used by a number of developers. The new iOS will be generally released sometime in Autumn this year.

That’s not all of the news to come from the Cupertino based company, and it seems that Apple is addressing its programming language. The Worldwide developers conference saw the introduction of Swift, which is widely regarded as an attempt to keep developers onside. Google’s Android OS is gaining market share and so Apple needs its own innovative approach to combat its rival’s success.

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What’s New in iOS 8 150 150 Kerry Butters

What’s New in iOS 8

It doesn’t seem too long ago that Apple released iOS 7. This was perhaps the biggest overhaul to its mobile software design since 2007. The new OS came from a post-Jobs era and the design came from Jony Ive.

iOS 7 made the iPhone more up-to-date and it allowed it to be more competitive when it came to the likes of Android. Windows 8 mobile software has been struggling, so iOS 7 was a tempting (if expensive) alternative.

Now however, Apple has revealed its plans for iOS 8 and it looks to be much the same as iOS 7 – but with a better, and more rounded, design. There’s a beta version of this software for developers to play around with and the software will be generally released in the fall of 2014.

With this new OS (perhaps not quite revolutionary) there are a number of changes for users to look forward to. Let’s have a look then and see what we’ve got in store in the coming months. It’s not ground-breaking, but it is an OS update that betters the functionality of iOS 7.

Update to the App Store

The App Store is already fairly good; it doesn’t have the dross of Windows 8, and it’s less cluttered than Android’s offering. It has however had some slight functionality tweaks to make it even better. The Wish List function wasn’t something that many folks seemed to use, but iOS

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What you need to know about Cryptolocker and GOZeus 150 150 Kerry Butters

What you need to know about Cryptolocker and GOZeus

Starting on May 30th a conglomerate of law enforcement agencies hailing from eleven different countries led by Europol and the FBI and with support from the private sector, have been working together to curb an online threat. Law enforcement, alongside Internet Service Providers and the Information Security industry, have been attempting to combat two specific malware groups – Cryptolocker and P2PZeuS (aka GameOverZeus).

Those malware groups however have been disrupted due to the efforts of law enforcement agencies. This isn’t to say the threat is negated however. Instead it marks a distinct shift in policing tactics and the number of countries working hand-in-hand shows just how seriously cyber crime is now considered.

Cryptolocker

This malware collective effectively holds your files hostage. An internet user will find those files inaccessible until they pay a ransom of one bitcoin, worth about $600 USD. This insidious threat is a pain and one that can be avoided – or at least that’s what the enforcement agencies believe.

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