In the news: 5 tech news stories worth another look

Pete Roythorne

We’re monitoring technology industry developments and recapping five tech news stories from December 1-15 that stood out to us.

Uncle Sam wants you

President Barack Obama delivered that message to tech companies during his December 6 speech on terrorism, saying they must play a pivotal role in the ongoing fight against ISIS and other militant groups.

"I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice," Obama said.

What Obama meant by that comment remains to be seen, as CNN Money reported. But it is likely hinting at a tactic tech firms know well: encryption.

“The government wants to keep terrorists from communicating with tools that avoid surveillance,” the report says. “The biggest challenge in law enforcement today is the inability to track terrorists who ‘go dark’ by encrypting their communications.”

There’s no shortage of apps that legally encrypt email, text and video. Terrorists around the world can communicate quickly and securely.

“All of these programs turn words into jumbled computer code,” the report says. “Government spies can't break that code fast enough.”

And terrorists know it.

What else made this round-up? Read on:

Net neutrality 2.0?

Tech Goliath Verizon made news by announcing it plans to test the concept of “sponsored” data.

What is it?

“Sponsored data, as the name implies, allows consumers to access certain content without having to eat into their own data plans. Instead, a third party pays for it,” according to Re/code, which notes that fellow tech giant AT&T has also been testing the concept for some time.

Sounds great, right? On the surface, sponsored data seems beneficial for companies and consumers alike.

Proponents, however, cite the debate over net neutrality. They say sponsored data “interferes with the notion of a level playing field as bigger companies will be able to afford to pick up the tab for data use while smaller ones will not.”

‘Plenty of opportunity’

Qualified IT candidates are in high demand. That’s an issue for hiring managers. But it’s great news for cream-of-the-crop applicants.

And as CIO.com reports, “even if you're not a security pro or a software developer, there's plenty of opportunity out there.”

IT staffing and consulting firm Mondo, along with Upwork and Cybrary, identified the 10 hottest IT jobs for 2016. They include:

  • UI/UX design developers – “Design can be a competitive advantage.”
  • Network engineers – “It’s about having cleaner pipelines. You can’t afford to have complicated, slow backend systems…”
  • Business analysts – “Companies are going to need someone who speaks both the language of business and the language of IT…”

New Year, ‘New IT’

What’s in store for IT when the calendar soon turns to 2016? How about a digital transformation that will “rewrite the rules” and introduce a “new IT,” one CEO tells CIO.com.

“CIOs and other tech leaders will have to revamp the way they approach IT if they want their companies to keep pace and remain competitive,” the article says.

Five predictions for the upcoming year include:

  • Application owners will own IT
  • The data center will assume characteristics of the public cloud
  • Web-scale IT architectures will become available to most enterprises
  • CIOs will face increased pressure to shift spending to operating expenses
  • Cyberattacks and data breaches in the cloud go from perception to reality

Read the full article here.

‘Business savvy’ attacks

If one firm’s findings are any indication, ransomware could be the proverbial coal in your holiday stocking.

“Researchers at iSheriff spotted more than 70,000 incidents of cybercriminals attempting to infect users with cryptographic ransomware variants this week,” SCMagazine reported on December 11.

Most of the infections reportedly spread through phishing emails that targeted unprotected Windows systems.

According to the report, “the sophisticated timing of the attacks appear to be ‘almost business savvy’ because the attackers are counting on a lot of people having money during this time of year.”

The standard best practices still apply:

  • Do not open attachments from questionable sources
  • Make sure all devices run the latest security versions
  • Back up business-critical data

Have fun this holiday season, but be vigilant. You’ve been warned.