Thursday, March 22, 2018

Fullers Ferries emails clear text passwords

Are you a Fullers Ferry customer? Before you continue to read this, change your password immediately to ensure that it is unique to all other passwords.

Fullers should shut down this service immediately until this is resolved.

Have you been getting random phone calls from scammers lately, wondering how they got hold of your personal information? I wonder if this is a potential source.

Recently, Fullers Ferries (a Public Transport contractor to Auckland Transport) provided a new mobile app to the citizens of Auckland City – My Ferries.

I downloaded the app to my mobile phone to find that it required me to log in so that I could use the app. The app provides basic information such as ferry timetables, ticket purchases and travel alerts through push notifications.

When attempting to use the app for the first time, I was asked for my user name and password. I could not remember the password that I had previously when wanting to gain access to Fullers online services. I requested that for my information to be emailed to me.

I expected that I would receive an email with a username and a link to rest my password. However, I received something that shocked me, a user name and a clear text password. For readers who are not familiar with the term “clear text”, it means I could read the password.

Why is this a concern? By operating in this manner there are a lot of people who could gain access to your password without even having to hack the Fullers system. Most people I know use the same password for multiple websites. This means that someone who gets hold of this password could potentially gain access to other accounts such as Social Media accounts, Bank Accounts, IT systems belonging to an employer and other essential services.

I wrote to Mike Horne, CEO of Fullers, to ask why they were using such a low form of security and to outline my concerns. I received an email back from Fullers IT Manager,  who reassured me that the passwords are encrypted in the system that they use and that this was a limitation of the software. In my view this is unacceptable, in today’s world, if an end to end secure system cannot assure a high degree of security, then the online service should not be offered.

The IT Manager then referred me to a privacy policy on the Fullers website. The policy is very simplistic, and basically says that Fullers will look after the information but may sell it on based on consent from you (whoever “you” is). They also mention that they may provide information to trusted third parties for specific projects that are covered by confidentiality agreements.

I would be interested in knowing what of my information has been provided to “trusted” parties and who these parties are. I would also like to run some background checks on staff at Fullers and their trusted third parties to ensure that I deem them safe to have my passwords.

There are so many questions that I have about online security with Fullers. If they have chosen to use a budget system, do they also have a budget firewall, budget security policies, budget security consultants, budget auditors?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Digital transformation must create new value for the enterprise

In the news this week, Amazon Drive ends their unlimited free cloud storage plan. Opting to give customers a smaller amount of free capacity data and charging for additional data. It appears that disruption has knocked on the door of the disruptor as Sia provides distributed enterprise storage at 10% the cost of AWS. The more traditional players like AWS, HP, and EMC are either in talks or working with now partnering with Sia.

Technology-led innovation and disruption are paving the way to better problem solving (business) while also eroding traditional revenue streams. At the CIO Summit (New Zealand), IDC's Frank Gens spoke about Digital Transformation in 2017, is about the creation of new value for the business. As with the example of the Amazon Drive, old revenue streams may no longer deliver the value they once did.

While technology is moving quickly, businesses are creating services right behind it. Cloud providers are managing to help organisations keep pace because they provide the ability to trial ideas and then scale the heck out of them. Is there any wonder that the likes of Lemonade can approve an insurance claim in just 3 seconds through the use of an AI bot? It took you longer to read that sentence. Lemonade may not be running on AWS, but you get the idea.

As we live in an ever more connected world, we need to create platforms within our business so that people can connect to us for things that are relevant to our industry. By allowing other organsiations and customers to interface with our business will provide a new wave of innovation. Aren't you thankful for API's?

As businesses are transforming, they are looking for new ways to engage the digital customer. An excellent example of this is Campbell's Soup. Campbells have created an ecosystem of innovative partners to find the means to add value, both to the consumer and to the business. One solution has been to provide a method whereby a customer can send a DNA sample (through a swab) for analysis so that Campbell's can provide a nutritional plan for the consumer! Who would have thought that a company selling traditional canned soup would be offering nutritional advice based on DNA samples?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The smart customer needs you to innovate, integrate and incorporate

Look around you right now. How many inanimate objects do you see? Each of them serves a purpose or did at some point. But they're just dumb things with no intelligence or superpowers. Well, that's the way it use to be until everything became smart. What's that you hold in your hand? The next digital assistant?

Today, I attended New Zealand's CIO Summit where Sandra Ng (IDC, Group Vice President - ICT Practice Asia Pacific), opened the summit by talking about the importance of Leading in 3D to drive digital transformation to scale. She spoke about the importance of leading in three key areas: Innovation, Integration and Incorporation.

Sandra spoke of businesses rethinking how their solutions are integrated into human experiences. Take lift manufacturer Schindler Group, for example. After use, a lift would typically return to the ground floor while awaiting the next request with no intelligence about where it could best be utilised. Schindler's Transit Management System now provides, among other things, the "smart lift" that knows where it needs to be and when. With integration to the building tenants' calendar, the lift is able to predict when someone will need to leave the building to get to a meeting. Just push the button, and ping! No more waiting for the lift!

Perceived experiences are one of the strongest influences in customer purchasing decisions. Will this product or service really make my life better? Take the Huggies TweetPee prototype as an example. A wearable device with a moisture sensor is attached to a diaper, sending messages to inform parents that it's time for a change. Affordable sensors like this provide comfort and health benefits for the infant and the ability for a caregiver to respond on demand.

So much for making objects smart when we are presented with traditional organisations, the likes of government departments. Siim Sikkut (Digital Policy Advisor - Government Office of Estonia) spoke of building a digital society of e-residence. The Estonian government set out to transform how it engages with its citizens through the use of technology. In Estonia, it doesn't matter who you are, young or old, everyone uses online services to the same level.

Simple things save time and improve experiences and often they are the most obvious. Estonia has a rule of 'once only'. If the Estonian government already has the information, why should it ask for this information again just because you find yourself dealing with a different department. Siim went on to say that his government aimed to recycle information and systems wherever it seemed logical. Open standards play a significant role to ensure that they recycle the experience of experts from around the globe.

Today's world seems to lend itself to small but powerful tweaks. While sensors are affordable and efficient, cost effective changes can be made to business models and processes to help improve the lives of the people we serve. As Paul Keesing put it, "We think we know how customers should be served but we don't."
In the quest to understand the customer better, the digital business will innovate, integrate, and incorporate products and services into the smart worlds of the modern consumer.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bioscientists find ways to store data using the DNA of common household bacteria

There is nothing worse than not having enough space on your mobile phone to store holiday photos and videos. We are forced to delete old data to clear room for the new. As we try to find the 'trash' icon, moments pass as we are lost in time. If only we had another gigabyte! Maybe you do, have you checked the fridge lately?
In every refrigerator there is a bacteria feeding frenzy. The household refrigerator is a great breeding ground for bacteria like Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli. This bacteria often causes food poisoning when ingested due to food contamination.

In 2014, Engineer and Neuroscientist, John Hewitt reported that scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were able to store 700 terabytes of data on a single gram of E. coli DNA. That's the same as the amount of data stored on a tower of 14,000 Blu-ray discs. In the future, your data may even be encrypted and stored within your personal DNA.

In their research paper entitled The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things, EMC says "Like the physical universe, the digital universe is large - by 2020 containing nearly as many digital bits as there are stars in the universe. It is doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 the digital universe - the data we create and copy annually - will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes."

Traditional forms of data storage are no longer going to be sustainable. Today's hard drives are slow, unreliable and consume vast amounts of electricity. Enterprise storage requires redundancy leading to multiple copies of the same data, requiring further duplication as it is backed up. The cost of storing data has the potential to increase exponentially.

Over the past couple of decades, individuals have been forced to consider their carbon footprint and its effect on the world around us. While we're changing our behaviour in regard to greenhouse emissions, we hardly give thought to our resource hungry digital addiction and its effect on global emissions. Most of this is invisible to us as it is in the 'cloud', out of sight and out of mind. The ability to store data on DNA, will significantly disrupt the way that we store information and help us to address the issue of global emissions as we move into the future of innovative, sustainable data storage.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Nanomechanics and wearable devices contribute to life beyond 100 years

The convergence of health and smart technology are not only changing the way we think about healthcare, but also the future of life as we know it. By 2028, it is expected that one in three people will live beyond 100 years. Not only will driverless cars be the norm but people with locked-in syndrome will be able to drive these vehicles by using their thoughts to provide instructions. They will be able to control their world. The average person will be a 34 year old Indian male.

Over the last couple of days, I have attended the 2015 Healthcare Congress where the importance of technology has been discussed by the majority of speakers.

Futurist and keynote speaker, Craig Rispin, talked about the massive amounts of money being invested into health sciences by leading technology companies, Apple and Google. Some of the more obvious developments in these areas are wearable devices such as the Apple Watch, but what's more surprising is what is happening behind the scenes.

Google X is a semi-secret facility being run by Google to make technological advancements. One such advancement is to baseline the human body, to create a picture of what a healthy human body should be. Never before has there been an example of a perfect human body that can act as a reference point. Comparisons can then be made to aid in the early detection of illness. This will enable future intervention at the onset of disease.

Another research project undertaken by Google is the Google Contact Lens. This lens allows tear fluid to seep into the lens where it can then measure the body's blood sugar levels. Technology like this will allow us to have a better understanding of diseases like diabetes. Not only will we be able to know if medical assistance is required, but when this information is linked to other data sources like food and exercise, the patient will be able to make lifestyle decisions affecting their personal wellbeing.

The world of the unseen is providing new opportunities as we aspire to know more about our bodies. By unseen, I mean what is beneath our skin, but I am also referring to the fascinating world of nanotechnologies.

Dr. Michelle Dickinson of the Nanomechanical Testing Laboratory at The University of Auckland, provided insight into research that involves nanoparticles that aren't visible to the human eye. Research centres around the world are looking for ways to replace needle vaccinations with inhaled medicine for respiratory diseases such as the flu, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

In the future, it is predicted nanotechnology will be used as a tool to gain near real-time insight into what is happening in the human body. With the ability to inhale or snort nanoparticles, information about diseases will be collected as particles use the blood system to traverse the human body.

Today, young people appear to have less regard for privacy, yet the amount of personal information being shared is set to increase. The above examples of research enable the ability to gather masses of personal data. Humans are participating in what is nothing but a 'Data Tsunami'. We want to be able to collect data so that we can understand the world around us. However, data that stands on its own has little value. When this data is shared, however, it can be analysed to help identify trends that will lead to further investment and medical advancement. It will be interesting, therefore, to see how this data is managed and controlled.

It's time to rethink the term 'midlife crisis'. As technology is helping to advance healthcare, life expectancy will also increase. If you thought you were running out of time to achieve all that you want, it might be time to think about bigger goals and achievements. It sounds like you may have more time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Today I'm blogging from the 2015 Healthcare Congress

Over the next couple of days I will be blogging and tweeting from New Zealand's 2015 Healthcare Congress which is being held in Auckland.

Why the Healthcare Congress? As you can imagine, technology has a significant role to play in the wellbeing of people.
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