Online Bitcoin Theft Rampant

Bitcoin continues to make headlines but the topics have certainly taken a turn for the worse. Following a meteoric rise to a peak of $900/btc, criminals have taken the logical next step and ramped up their bitcoin heists. In this case, the liquid nature of a digital online currency is its own downfall.  The easily transferred “wallet file” is the only tangible mark of a bitcoin so heists are nothing new, but heists that would have been worth thousands are currently worth hundreds of thousands or even millions.

A Denmark based company named BIPS released a statement on November 19th that they had suffered a heist of 1,295 bitcoins, or rough $1 million stating that “Regrettably, despite several layers of protection, the attack caused vulnerability to the system, which has then enabled the attacker/s to gain access and compromise several wallets.” The bitcoins didn’t come from BIPS itself but from many of its customers, whom BIPS promised they would contact individually.

And that’s not even on the bigger end. China’s GBL bitcoin exchange abruptly went dark in October, taking $4.1 million in bitcoin with it. Attempts to contact or trace the website owners have turned up nothing but dead ends, and at this point it is speculated that its investors were scammed.

The main takeaway from the last several months seems to be “don’t store your untraceable, easily hacked money on the internet.” Given that the online rate of bitcoin theft is increasing, users might find it prudent to make sure their wallet files are secure by storing them in a “cold” such as a USB drive, or take it a step farther and put that drive in a safety deposit box.

Cloud Tech

NSA Shifts Cloud Market In Security Companies’ Favor

The uproar over the NSA’s PRISM program is starting to die down as online forum fighters find new topics to rant about, but all of that might change as NSA’s MUSCULAR program starts to hit the mainstream spotlight. This second round of exposures could carry implications for the cloud industry, with analysts speculating a $22 billion to $35 billion loss from the PRISM announcements.

However, a particular branch of the cloud world is not only making it through unscathed but raking in a hefty profit.

Pravin Kothari is the founder and CEO of CipherCloud, a company that provides security for cloud-based information. When news about the NSA broke earlier in June, the requests for CipherCloud’s services came pouring in.

“If you ask any security enterprise customer what the major issues are with the cloud, they will tell you undoubtedly the two are loss of control of the data and lack of visibility,” says Kothari. CipherCloud’s primary mission is to give customers full understanding of where their data goes in the cloud, because only with full understanding of something can you be comfortable using it.As the public NSA outcry continues to grow, the importance of data security is coming into the spotlight and cloud customers are responding. Companies like CipherCloud seem well positioned to take advantage of digital privacy being a hot-button topic for months to come.

Cloud Tech

Dropbox Thinks It’s Worth 8 Billion

It looks like even cloud’s biggest names still have room to grow. Seeking funding for future business expansions, Dropbox is currently looking to raise $250 million in the next several weeks and bring its estimated valuation to around $8 billion.

Though CEO Drew Houston recently stated that they still have plenty of money left over from the last funding round, he is hoping to increase Dropbox’s presence with businesses in addition to your average consumer. Dropbox reported around 200 million users this year, and more than 4 million businesses now use their services compared to 2 million a year ago.

Moving into the corporate world will require a fairly major extension of resources, likely including new technology to accommodate a deeper corporate infrastructure and a dedicated sales team to market specifically to large companies. This move would put them in the arena with the likes of Amazon and Google, so even with a fantastic funding base Drew Houston has his work cut out for him.


Attack of the Drones: A View from the Unfriendly Skies

TED Blog

Marc Goodman

 is the founder of the Future Crimes Institute and chair for Policy, Law and Ethics at Singularity University. At TEDGlobal in Edinburgh in 2012, Goodman shared a sobering look at the dark side of technology in his talk, “A vision of crimes in the future.” The TED Blog asked him to share his latest thinking on the promise — and threat — of drones.

For most people, drones are flying robots irrevocably associated with killing, warfare or even war crimes over the skies of Iraq or Afghanistan. Yet what started out as a purely military technology is rapidly migrating into our everyday lives.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Customs and Border Protection Agency has been flying drone missions along the Southern US border to enforce everything from fishing and game violations to illegal immigration and narcotics smuggling. The FAA has authorized…

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Cloud Tech, Technology

5 Tip To Stay Afloat At Dreamforce 2013

Dreamforce 2013 officially kicked off yesterday, and if you’re a first time attendee odds are you’re still reeling from the 130,000 strong crowd trying to pack into the Moscone venue built for 60,000 people. Major keynote speakers include Salesforce leader Marc Benioff and Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, who is making headlines with her rejection of the NSA.
The rising popularity of cloud computing has turned Dreamforce into one of San Francisco’s biggest annual business conventions, from humble beginnings in 2003 with a turn-out of 1300 people up to 92,300 attendees counted last year.
It has become the business event for cloud computing as a networking opportunity, speaking forum for tech celebrities and a place to enjoy yourself as you absorb the best that the business has to offer. If you happen to be an attendee of Dreamforce (or any major convention really), Mat Rider with Dreamforce veterans Docusign, founded by Keith Krach, has a few tips to help you stay on your feet.
1) Be prepared, practical and patient
This is the basic stuff. There’s a lot of area to cover, so make sure you have a schedule you can keep to and follow it so you don’t hang your colleagues out to dry. Anticipate that you’re going to be walking everywhere due to massive congestion and dress accordingly by wearing comfortable, light clothes you can stay in all day. Leave the heavy gear behind and stick with a smartphone or tablet. Be prepared for crowds!

2) Find your niche
This ties into planning out your time. Dreamforce is huge, and events and speeches are going to be directed at audiences that want to see and hear them. If you’re a developer, you might not want to spend an hour listening to a talk on marketing strategies (though if you do, kudos).

3)Build relationships
One of the main reasons to go to Dreamforce is for the networking. Take the time to get to know people in your field and pass out those business cards. Build a rapport that will last after the convention is over, and you might end up with a positive friendship, business relationship or both.

4) Have fun (but not too much fun)
One of the other main reasons to go is to attend one of the dozens of official and unofficial parties. Go fit in as much fun as you can, but don’t forget that it’s still a business conference and your coworkers are probably with you. Know when you shouldn’t have that last drink. There’s an app available that does the leg work for you called Partyforce.

5) Be an advocate for your favorite apps and companies
Companies have vendors at Dreamforce to market their product and make connections with their fans. If there’s a company you’d like to show support for, go to their booth and ask to become and advocate. You can support the companies you want to succeed will likely end up with some convention swag for your efforts.


Google And Microsoft To Block Searches That Lead To Child Pornography

Google, after initial resistance, have both capitulated and promised a worldwide block on roughly 13,000 search terms that may lead to child pornography at behest of British Prime Minister David Cameron. In a rare showing of cooperation with their chief competitor, Microsoft also stated that the Bing search engine would follow suit.

Mr. Cameron seemed pleased with the outcome, given Google’s initial claim that it “couldn’t be done and shouldn’t be done”. Despite this, he seemed unsatisfied and mentioned possible legal action if Google and Microsoft did not take further action.
The move invites a lot of skepticism, as a logical breakdown of the scenario finds that no child sex offender in their right mind is going to use a traceable Google search to find illegal media.

Illegal activity is often conducted through means such as peer-to-peer networking or underground online communities, and search engines have already been blocking inappropriate content for some time now.

Skeptics argue that at best, nothing will change and that this amounts to a very public but ineffective crusade on Mr. Cameron’s part. The worst case scenario is that a precedent has been set for censorship of any online content the government chooses via changes to the Google search engine.


How Our Files Are Safer And Stronger Than Ever

Cloud software often makes headlines as a means to optimize business and convenience, and it is still a long ways off from becoming as mainstream in our lives as say, cell phones and USB ports but having access to your data anywhere isn’t just about convenience, it’s also about disaster-proofing. Not everyone understands the mechanics of cloud software, but they do come to understand that backups of your files are stored somewhere safe and can be made to appear out of thin air. Smart use of these programs means that the age of losing documents to hardware failure is almost over.

Software like Dropbox allows files to transcend the physical frailties of paper and ink. Not just in the sense that paper can be ripped or damaged, but that these documents can actually be made to exist in multiple places at once via the cloud. It is a level of data security that is unprecedented for the average consumer until recent times. It has gone even farther beyond just safely keeping information though. Functional use of electronic documents has been around since the first email attachment, and only continues to improve as electronic devices become more and more portable. Keith Krach’s Docusign has not only digitized important forms but their function as well; you can send legally binding signatures electronically and securely. It’s a seemingly mundane step up, but the translation of physical action to digital transmission with no real downside is probably the biggest step towards the future of business interaction. And consumers seem to agree, with Dropbox reporting 100 million users in 2012 and Docusign reporting 13 million and growing around the same time.

This becomes particularly relevant when you consider the recent surge of natural disasters. When Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, many companies found out the hard way that data centers are just as susceptible to flooding and power outage as any other building. Entire data storages that only had backups in Sandy’s path were lost. The flip side of this is that those who took advantage of the clouds ability to easily allow data redundancy survived unscathed, and events like Sandy are highlighting the needs to keep data secure from all threats, including Mother Nature.