In the news: 5 tech news stories worth another look

Debbie Thomson

Debbie Thomson monitors technology industry developments and recaps five tech news stories from August 16-31 that stood out to her.

IT employees can make a good living. But are they living well?

TINYpulse found job happiness in IT is sorely lacking. More than 5,000 IT pros were surveyed for the “State of Employee Engagement in Tech.” Responses were compared to those in roles such as marketing and finance — and the picture painted should make everyone pause.

The report pinpoints five trouble spots:

  • An unhappy work experience — Only 19% of IT workers are satisfied with their jobs.
  • Feeling trapped — Just 36% see a clear path to advancement
  • Thankless work — 17% feel strongly valued
  • Alignment with the company — 28% know their employer’s vision, mission and values
  • Relationship with co-workers — 47% have a strong rapport with colleagues

“All these roadblocks are holding IT employees back from doing their best work,” the report explains. “This isn’t just bad news for the tech industry — it hurts everyone whose work relies on their innovation. If your business benefits from having newer and better technologies, then you should be paying attention.”

The report is required reading.

What else made this round-up? Read on:

‘Operation Clean Internet’

China is routinely in the headlines for hacking incidents. (Sony scandal, anyone?) However, the country’s Ministry of Public Security says it is cracking down on cybercriminal activity.

Called “Operation Clean Internet,” the initiative has led to arrests of 15,000 people allegedly linked to Internet crimes.

According to CNN Money, “The ongoing campaign, launched in July, is aimed at stamping out cybercriminal gang networks and improving overall cybersecurity. To date, the agency said it has investigated 7,400 domestic cases, a majority of which involve hacking and the theft of personal and financial data.”

A statement released by the government says a telecommunications company was victimized; financial data was stolen in a text message scam; and individuals with disabilities have been targeted in fraud attempts.

Political power

It’s fascinating and scary at the same time: The web’s most-used search engine, Google, has the power to decide political elections.

So says Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology.

“Google’s search algorithm can easily shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more—up to 80 percent in some demographic groups—with virtually no one knowing they are being manipulated,” Epstein wrote in this op-ed for Politico.com.

Epstein explains that manipulating search results can increase a candidate’s favorability from 37 to 63 percent — after one 15-minute search session.

According to Epstein, this means Google has the ability “to flip upwards of 25 percent of the national elections worldwide.”

The cost of phishing

How about some hard numbers that place phishing attacks in context?

On average, U.S. companies are hit for $3.7 million a year, according to a new report called “The Cost of Phishing & Value of Employee Training.” The Ponemon Institute, which conducted the study, found that the biggest chunk of that total is due to loss of productivity.

“According to the report, productivity losses from phishing account for more than $1.8 million,” SC Magazine reported.

Other costly aspects of phishing attacks include:

  • Compromised credentials that are not contained (more than $1 million)
  • Cost to contain those credentials ($381,000)
  • Malware that is not contained ($338,000)
  • Cost to contain that malware ($208,000)

What could your company do with those savings?

Social media milestone

The Goliath of social networks, Facebook, celebrated a significant “first” on Aug. 27: It attracted one billion users in a single day.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg devoted a post to it.

“When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different,” he wrote. “This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it's just the beginning of connecting the whole world.”

Hitting the magic number meant 1 in 7 people worldwide connected to Facebook.

“A more open and connected world is a better world,” Zuckerberg added. “It brings stronger relationships with those you love, a stronger economy with more opportunities, and a stronger society that reflects all of our values.”

Whatever you think of Facebook, those are things we should all “like.”