The title highlights a question that we have all asked ourselves at one point in time. It is a relatively old but still relevant question, especially after recent scandals like that of Ashley Madison. Questions like “Is my password long enough?”, “Isn’t my password too easy to guess?” and remarks like “Damn, I forgot my password again” probably also sound familiar. Lengthy passwords often seem like a safe option as shown by Intel in the attached .gif.
Intel however accounts for a brute force attack on your password. A brute force attack involves computers trying every possible combination of letters and symbols until they get your password right. In their infographic, Intel doesn’t account for the fact that passwords are rarely cracked by brute force. According to Dr. Angela Sasse, UCL’s head of information security research, passwords are usually obtained by phishing and malware which renders both the length and complexity of your password obsolete.
There is however more to password security than just the user side, oftentimes the server side is forgotten. Say a user manages to create an “uncrackable” password that includes a combination of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. This password is then stored on the servers of the website or service involved. There are to this day websites that store your password in plain text. If the servers of abovementioned website or service were to be hacked, your password could be exposed to the internet and thus essentially the entire literate part of the world. No need for fear yet, your password is usually encrypted and then stored in a database. Problem solved right? Not exactly. In the recent Ashley Madison hack, gigabytes of data, including passwords were stolen. The passwords were well encrypted and it was estimated that decrypting them would take approximately 11 years (BBC.com, 2015). Nevertheless, earlier this month, an amateur password cracking group called Cynosure Prime found a flaw in the way that Ashley Madison encrypted the passwords before storing them. This enabled Cynosure Prime to crack roughly 11.2 of the 15 million susceptible passwords in just 11 days.
By now you might be wondering “well, so how DO I keep my password safe?”. One way to go is password managing software that stores all of your passwords in a safe place. Again there is one drawback to this service … your password vault it is often password protected. There are some innovative password managers (like passwordchef) on the rise, but currently it is not your best bet. A better alternative is to use biometrics for login. Thanks to Apple, millions of people are already familiar with the convenience of fingerprint login. However, biometrics have a rather significant drawback, namely you cannot change them. Since you cannot swap your fingerprint if someone manages to get ahold of it, this method of logging in should at least be complemented by a password, which in turn diminishes the convenience. A more secure alternative is the so called two-factor authentication. This involves both entering a user chosen password as well as a code, usually received by SMS, that is useable only once and for a limited amount of time.
As for the server side of the story, they can improve the security of your password as follows: Websites should prefer HTTPS over HTTP, they should ensure that passwords are encrypted and more importantly that the encryption method used is secure as well.
All things considered, fact remains that the safety of your password is only partly in your own hands. You can however take measures that your side is as safe as possible. Never write your password down, never tell your password to anyone etcetera. For more (obvious) information on passwords I suggest you read this report.
Knowing a bit more about the client & server side now, what are some useful experiences you can share with the rest of the world?
Sources & useful links:
Going green is hot, companies and consumers place more emphasis on being environmental-friendly than ever before. One of the industries that is a main target of the ‘going green’ campaign is the automobile industry, one of the oldest industries. This industry is ruled by big players such as Toyota, VAG (e.g. Volkswagen, Audi) and General Motors. These companies have come up with several hybrid cars throughout the years, as well as partial electric cars. Surprisingly, the step towards 100% electric cars seems to be approached in a conservative manner.
As probably most of you know, Tesla Motors is one of the companies that pursues the fully electric dream. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk is determined to disrupt the automobile industry, by being a successful fully electric car manufacturer. In 2008 Tesla introduced their first model, the Tesla Roadster, which was a high-class electric sportscar. Hereafter they introduced the Model S, their primary model at this moment which can be called a huge success, as a prize winning car in numerous rankings (Automobilemag, 2013). In the coming months their SUV, the Model X, will be released.
What is more interesting however, is the business idea that is behind Tesla. This is an important point where Tesla differentiates themselves from other car manufacturers, and especially from those (electric car) start-ups that didn’t manage to enter the automobile industry with success. Tesla has a so-called ‘three-stage strategy’ according to Elon Musk. The first stage was offering a car at a low volume, for a high price. This car was the Tesla Roadster. This initial car opened a new market in the automobile industry, a so-called blue ocean (Kim & Mauborgne, 2004), which is the fully electric car market. After that, Tesla moved on to the Tesla Model S, a mid-volume car offered at a medium price. This second stage of their strategy will be expanded by introducing the Model X in a few months, which will also be a mid-volume car at a medium price. Tesla entered a niche, the electric automobile market, and are now pushing forward to move out of this niche, by moving towards their third stage, offering a high-volume car at an affordable price (Musk, 2014). This enabled Tesla to enter the dominant automobile industry, with almost insurmountable barriers due to the dominance of current manufacturers, with success.
It is interesting to see what Elon Musk’s view is on the implementation of his three-stage strategy. Musk himself said that the Tesla Roadster was required in order to gain experience in the field of electric cars, but more importantly, to create enough buzz around the concept in order to gain funding and to create a hype. As we can all see, this plan is a success so far. Tesla is taken seriously by the automobile industry, as companies such as Toyota, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo are more and more focussing on electric vehicles.
As Tesla can be called a succes story so far, my first thoughts are:
- What does this mean for other (electric) automobile start-ups, will they follow a similar strategy as Tesla did?
- What will Tesla’s impact be on the automobile industry, in means of speeding up the electrification process?
- And at last, where will Tesla end up? Will it become one of the biggest players in the automobile industry?
Personally I think that Tesla has opened the door for other start-ups with their creative approach towards the automobile industry. Not saying that the market will now be flooded with electric vehicle brands, but Tesla has proven that it is possible to enter this industry as a stand-alone fully electric vehicle manufacturer. Therefore I believe that Tesla’s impact is disruptive to say the least, traditional car manufacturers have now seen the real possibilities of electric driving. I won’t be surprised if Tesla will be among the biggest players in the industry in 10-15 years time.
So what do you think? Will Tesla disrupt the automobile industry? And has it opened up doors for many more (electric) car manufacturers to enter the industry, due to Tesla’s three-stage strategy?
How can you save money on travel trips ?
Nowadays booking a flight ticket is really simple. But how to be sure that you got the best price ? Many travellers already know different techniques to save money on their online bookings : travel at the cheapest time, travel in low season, use comparative price tools… But did you know it was possible to spare more money ?
Since the 70’s traveling companies practice yield management. This technique is a variable price setting strategy based on the anticipation of the consumer behaviour. Travelling companies are using all the available information to identify your willingness to pay and charge you at the highest possible price. In this article I will provide some advices to get the cheapest prices when you book your trip online.
- First, travelling companies are using your Operating System (OS) to set their prices. As the Mac OS X users’ willingness to pay is higher than for other OS users, many websites show higher prices to Mac users. Therefore in order to get a cheaper price use Windows or even Linux.
- Cookies are also used by travelling companies in their yield management strategy. Travellers probably know it : prices increase when you visit the same website several times. In fact some travellers will first look at the different companies, comapring offers to find the best price. The first time you visit the website the comapny will display a lower price in order to keep your attention on their offer. Unfortunatelly after having checked all the different offers you see that the company already increased its price. How to avoid this price increase ? Before booking your travel, make sure that you well deleted all the cookies of your browser so that the company thinks it is the first time you visit their website. You will therefore benefit from the lower price.
- Companies also set variable prices for different countries. In fact the willingness to pay of a consumer changes according to its country. For exemple cost of life is higher in the Netherlands than in Spain, meaning that for a same product a Dutch will generelly pay a higher price. Therefore when booking your trip, check the prices on different versions of the website. For travelling companies the difference is not huge but you can spare around 3% of the ticket price by using this technique. Suppose you want to book a flight from Amsterdam to Roma with Easy Jet. The prices proposed by the Spanish website are 2% lower than on the Belgian website. The cheapest price displayed by the Spanish EasyJet website for the Thursday 24th September was 99.99€ whilst the Belgian EasyJet website proposed the same ticket at 102.50€. This technique is also used by other companies such as Amazon. Let’s take another example. I was looking for an electronic version of “Investments” from Bodie, Kane & Marcus. I displayed here below the prices I found for the same book on the different Amazon websites (note that I look for an electronic version so there are no delivery costs to take into account). You can see below that there is a difference of more than 20€ between Italy and Netherlands, which means that you can spare 30% of the book by buying it on Amazon Italy rather than Amazon Netherlands !
- Amazon Netherlands : 73.54€
- Amazon Germany : 58.18€
- Amazon Italy : 51.51€
- Amazon UK : 66.78€ (48.73£)
- Amazon France : 56.10€
- Internet Protocol is also a data which is often used by companies to practice yield management. Travelling companies track your position on the Internet to set dynamic prices. They thus use your position to charge higher prices. A way to reduce the price of your ticket is to change your IP address so that the company think you are currently in another country. The first way to change your IP is to create a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. However if you are not used to this tool, a simpler solution exists. Tor is a free legal browser that creates a circuit of different relays. Tor enables you to surf on Internet in Rotterdam whilst your IP address indicates that you are somewhere in Russia ! This browser makes the tracking system of the travelling companies inefficient, meaning that you will benefit from a lower booking price.
If you have other advices to buy cheap online tickets feel free to share them in the comments !
Fastned: building the world’s first network of fast charging stations where all electric cars can charge
The auto industry is rapidly changing. Electric Vehicles are the future. At this moment 62,287 registered electric vehicles are driving on the road, but the development of the growth is exponential (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland, 2015).
According to the strategy firm Roland Berger (2015) 50% of the cars will be using traditional engines with gasoline or diesel in 2025. The other 50% will be either electric (EV) or hybrid vehicles. AON (2010), a financial service provider, reported that there are 8 million registered cars in the Netherlands, an easy calculation states that there will be at least 4 million registered electric or hybrid vehicles by 2025 driving on the Dutch road.
Fastned is trying to respond to this rapid change in the automobile industry by building a network of fast charging stations along the Dutch highway with national coverage. They are building the infrastructure that is necessary to fast charge all the electric vehicles.
They state that: only when this infrastructure is in place, the driver of an electric car will experience true freedom. This will start the electric revolution.
Currently they are building one new fast charging station per week and they already have a basic national network of stations in place. Ultimately, they will open 201 charging stations through the Netherlands. They designed their stations in a way that is compatible with frequent hardware and software updates. By doing this they can ensure that their stations will be usable in the future.
With an app it is possible to not only charge your car but also pay for it. Besides that you can check your charging history and change your plan and payment method.
As from yesterday (September 22, 2015) Fastned is cooperating with Nissan by giving buyers of the Nissan Leaf two years of free supercharging. With this cooperation drivers can easily charge their vehicles unlimited in a fast way. According to Michiel Langezaal (CEO, Fastned) this cooperation is a very logic step, and is actually the same as with mobile phones. When you buy a mobile phone you will also subscribe to a telecom provider in order to actually call. Will this be the future for buyers of electric vehicles? And will these kind of stimulations encourage consumers to buy an electric vehicle more faster than a regular vehicle?
Are the Dutch ready for the exponential growth in electric vehicles by incorporating the Fastned charging stations throughout the country or need they start to think of other ways to cope with this growth? What do you think should these ‘other ways’ be?
Bridging the gap between IT and Management is why we study Business Information Management. We learn frameworks on how to manage information and IT within the company. With a rising need for a higher understanding of this topic, we are certainly not the only ones studying this in our Masters. However, when talking to an Accounting major it turned out that we had completely different ideas about the subject and the frameworks we were studying. One of the most talked about frameworks when talking about Information management within Accounting is the COSO framework, which I will explain below.
The COSO Framework
The Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of Treadway Commission (hereafter, COSO) was an initiative started in the mid 1970 in the United States. Its goal was to provide a framework for firms to help them deal with internal control issues.
Nevertheless, COSO remained unknown until the emergence of accounting scandals such as: Enron, Worldcom, Ahold, only to name a few.
These scandals all incurred in the beginning of the new millennium, and one of their common denominators was the lack of internal control within an organization. This meant that a lot of override was possible within the firm and money could be funneled out of an organization, which ultimately did not help achieve the goals of the enterprises.
After the accounting scandals a lot of effort was put into upgrading and improving COSO. This framework is composed of five essential building blocks:
- Control environment: It is the foundation of the COSO framework; it is the tone that the organization adopts. In other words it is the integrity, the ethical values, and the managers operating style. Without the control environment all other characteristics would be useless, because if a manager does not abide, promote nor enforce control activities, you can be certain that the lower level employees will not abide to it either.
- Risk assessment: It is essential that a firm is aware of the risks that it is faced with. Therefore, there is the need for it to assess its risk level. That will enable it to distinguish between the acceptable and the unacceptable risks.
- Control activities: The activities that ensure that management orders are carried out at the lower hierarchical levels. These are the activities that prevent fraud within an organization. The most common example is the segregation of duties.
- Information and communication: The importance of information system within the organization to provide reliable and relevant information to the right people.
- Monitoring: Although all the processes help avoid error or fraud, there is still the need for general monitoring of all these processes.
Looking at the exponential development in information system, will this have a marginal benefit towards the goals of COSO and will help avoid fraud within companies?
Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. (2015). Retrieved September 23, 2015
Apple recently launched its new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus with a brand new slogan: “The iPhone 6S is here and the only thing that’s changed is everything”. When reading this, I became surprisingly eager to know how new and different this smart phone actually is. In fact, many IPhone users might consider upgrading! So the question is, is it worth upgrading to or not?
At first sight, the iPhone 6S seems almost identical to the iPhone 6, and therefore lacks the ‘wow’ factor. But let’s not judge a book by its cover and see whether we can actually bring some justice to this slogan!
The table below presents a comparison between the iPhone 6 and 6S. The screen size, resolution, pixel density and storage options did not change one bit (International Business Times, 2015). Some might not even appreciate the changes in thickness and weight, although some of this might be due to the use of 7000-series aluminium, which is claimed to be less pliable (Techradar, 2015) (So, no whining people!). Another thing that many will value is the much faster Wi-Fi connection all-possible with the new A9 –processor with embedded M9 motion coprocessor (techradar 2015).
But here it comes; Apple did more than slightly improve the camera quality, increasing the rear camera to 12-megapixel and front camera to 5-megapixel (IBtimes 2015)! Unfortunately, increasing the mega pixels doesn’t necessarily result in better quality photos; more mega pixels just implies bigger photos (yeah, this is called marketing) (Iphoned 2015). However, when you zoom in more details are revealed and the picture remains sharp much longer (macworld 2015). The cameras are also equipped with 1,22 micron-pixels, while the iPhone 6 and 5S included 1.5 micron-pixels. The smaller the micron-pixels, the less light will be caught; implying that the new iPhone takes worse photo’s than its predecessors (Iphoned 2015).
The IPhone 6S and 6S Plus are the first ones that can shoot videos in 4K-resolution! There is just one downside to it, 4K videos are a disaster for your memory. After just 32 minutes of filming, your 16GB IPhone would already be full! And that is IF you are not using it for other applications as well (iCulture 2015).
In fact, this gets me to the following point; Apple didn’t increase the minimum storage from 16GB to 32GB. But to make things even worse, they didn’t include a micro SD card slot to be able to create more storage space yourself. Obviously Apple smartly solved this by referring to its online iCloud storage system as an alternative. But this doesn’t really help if you have poor 4G connections or a low monthly data cap (International Business Times 2015).
3D Touch screen
The most revolutionary and exciting new feature in the 6S series must be the 3D-touchscreen. ‘YES 3D!’ But how would this work? Yeah, I asked myself the same thing at the time. So basically, practising a little bit more pressure on the screen should do the trick, after which a pop-up window should appear against a translucent background. Apparently this new feature allows you to use apps, without having to open them completely (Techradar, 2015). It works just like the Force Touch on the Apple watch (macworld 2015).
Apple added new software, called ‘Live photos’, which records 1.5 second before and after taking a photo. (International Business Times 2015). When pressing on the 3D-touch screen, it shows the movement in the picture during those seconds (Techradar, 2015). Unfortunately only those with IOS 9 or El Capitan can see the animation in the picture, everyone else only receives a normal JPEG (macworld 2015).
Price and release date
The iPhone 6S and 6S plus will cost respectively, $649 and $749 and will be released on September 25 (techradar 2015).
Bottom line; the 2 newest additions seem to be the 3D Touch and Live photos, although Live photos isn’t even accessible for everyone. Personally, I think that if you already own the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, upgrading seems to be an unnecessary luxury. You won’t even be able to show off, as no one will even notice you have the new version for god sake! Secondly, ask yourself this; do you actually need 4K video and increased camera mega pixels? Yeah sure these can come in handy if you’re (1) a fanatic ‘vlogger’, (2) a selfie addict, or (3) a selfie addict (you get my point I hope). I must admit however that I do appreciate the stronger material that is used for the screen and the stronger aluminium. Especially after all the fuzz about the iPhone 6 being bendable (#Bendgate) (Elsevier 2014). Don’t get me wrong, I think all the upgrades are great extra’s. I just don’t think it’s worth upgrading for. However, if you own older versions of the iPhone, this one might be a huge upgrade worth buying.
Everyone has had a moment or multiple moments in their life where they cannot find their phone, keys, bike, or their bag. We, humans, spend 10 minutes every day searching for lost items such as keys, books or/and phones (Dailymail.co.uk). On average the human being spends 3,680 hours (or 153 days) of their life searching for lost items (Dailymail.co.uk). Especially in today’s world where managing your time is very important it can be disastrous to loose 10 minutes of every day. Not only do you loose time when you have to search for lost items, the stress level rises and the mood changes as well. Once at the office or school or wherever it is you need to go, your mood will effect others around you thus creating an unpleasant atmosphere.
However, thankfully there is a very small (literally) solution to this problem. TrackR is the solution: it is a small round, flat, coin-like device that can be attached to anything; from your wallet to your phone, to your laptop, bike, car, and bag. It works very easily, all you have to do is download the TrackR app which is compatible for both Android and Apple smartphones and you of course need to purchase the small TrackR device. You attach the device to anything you find valuable, lets take for example your keys. You link your TrackR device with your app and then it is ready for use. Once you loose your keys you can open the app on your smartphone and it will show you exactly (through the GPS tracking system) where your keys are, and if you want you can even make the device generate noise to make your search even simpler.
Not only can you generate noise through the device you can also alert other TrackR users of a lost item, and then when one of these users is within 100 meters of the lost item he/she will get a signal that the item is very close by. This way you let others do your search for you while you patiently wait at home or at the office.
The idea is very simple and I know you are wondering why there isn’t anyone else around who has thought of this idea, but there is. Tile is a competitor of TrackR and basically it has the same functions, however there is one major difference between the two, a difference which I think makes TrackR even more unique. The difference lies in the fact that if you have found the lost item through the app and you loose your phone in the process of finding the lost item, you can press the TrackR device attached to the lost item and it will make the phone generate noise to make it easier to find it, even when it is on silent mode. So you can find two things with just one simple device, it works both ways!
So stop spending time trying to find your phone, keys, bag, laptops etc. and be able to hit that snooze button that one extra time on your alarm clock.
Philip van Zadelhoff (352591pz)
I came across this video about the use of big data in the healthcare industry. In particular, solving the global health problems in developing countries through the use of big data. In the lecture, we talked about big data and analytics; how we can predict the consumer’s behaviour, how we can predict if someone’s daughter is pregnant, etc. However-as I watched this video-I felt that we’re not able to use this technology to save lives.
Key points on the data issue in developing countries
- For doctors and volunteers who deals with global health problems, their issue is not about which data is relevant to them –> They usually know which data they need, e.g. (How many children in the rural area of Indonesia need vaccination? How many children are born in Zambia?)
- Their issue is that within the large amount of data, none of them helps them to save lives.
- What do I mean by that? When these data are being collected (data on those two previously mentioned questions), you have to go and visit each individual household, ask them the question, and then the answers are recorded on paper.
- This “physical data” includes thousands and thousands of paperwork to be input into a computer system and can lead to poor data quality (inaccurate recording while inputting the data in a computer system) and most importantly, they might not make it to the computer system (Going to each household in every single developing country is way too much or lack of manpower).
Essentially, global health organizations does not have accurate data to base their solutions on, for instance, they don’t know how many children needs a vaccine in Indonesia. Which led to the development of http://www.Magpi.com. Mr. Selanikio created Magpi.com to encourage data collection in developing countries. Users can create forms (see image 1) with questions such as “How many people are ill in your village? and this can be sent via SMS and another user can reply via SMS, “10 people” and this data will be stored in the Magpi.com server. An example of an organization using this website is World Health Organization.
Upon reflecting on this video, I thought about the different use of big data. Magpi.com is great for individuals who either knows how to use a SMS or someone who has internet connection with a laptop. But what if that’s not the case? It is an enormous advantage for businesses to predict consumer’s purchasing pattern via big data analytics, but what good is big data analytics without an internet infrastructures? What good is big data without a proper data collection method? In the debate of “treatment for a cause or a symptom”, for this example, more emphasis should be on treatment for the cause.
First, provide an internet infrastructure in developing countries and then, individuals can start making the use of technology such as magpi.com. There are IT solutions which saves lives such as crisis mapping or predicting patient outcome, but they are meaningless without the individual’s ability to access the internet.
Cerner Implements a Cloudera Enterprise Data Hub to Transform the Healthcare System and Help Save Lives. (2015). [online] Available at: http://www.cloudera.com/content/cloudera/en/about/press-center/press-releases/2015/02/12/cerner-implements-cloudera-edh.html [Accessed 23 Sep. 2015].
Magpi, (2015). Mobile Data Collection – Mobile Forms | Magpi. [online] Available at: http://home.magpi.com/ [Accessed 23 Sep. 2015].
TED, (2013). Joel Selanikio: The surprising seeds of a big-data revolution in healthcare.Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb8x6vLcggc [Accessed 23 Sep. 2015].
Wikipedia, (2015). Ushahidi. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ushahidi [Accessed 23 Sep. 2015].
Kunitake Nakajima – 366667kn
Headspace is a mindfulness app that aims to improve the health of people’s minds by applying meditation to their daily activities. Nowadays, the benefits of meditation as a treatment for pain, depression, anxiety and other mental diseases are becoming more familiar. If practiced on a regular basis, meditating can also help people handle life issues such as:
- Lack of focus;
- Relationship problems;
This is where Headspace kicks in with its collections of meditations that suit different moods and lifestyles. Users can choose their session length, replay their favorites and learn how to apply mindfulness to daily activities. They can also map their journeys, track their progresses and get rewards on the way. Headspace users can now basically create ‘’personal gym memberships for their minds’’. The app also sends push notifications, so that they are reminded to be mindful throughout their day.
Headspace was launched in 2010 and has been growing very quick ever since; it is now used by more than three million users over 150 different countries and books are translated into 12 different languages. Headspace differentiates itself from competing applications such as Calm and Buddhify by offering users a Take 10 programme that has ten ten-minute sessions of guided meditation.
Some people question if mindfulness applications can really help people with letting go of distractions, especially since these apps need to be downloaded and used on iOS, Android or the web. Isn’t it somewhat adverse to use an app for mindfulness in a world where mindfulness is counteracted by such digital distraction?
Still, Headspace’s success speaks for itself through its growing popularity. Perhaps the app shows us that the negative sides of digital distraction can be fixed through the same digital distraction devices. Or maybe this depends on the intentions of the app users? What do you think; can the Headspace app really improve lives and make this world a happier place? And will the impact of digital distraction remain?