Archive for March 15, 2017

Concur Unveils First Integrated Traveler Risk Management Solution & Active Monitoring Service

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 15, 2017 by itnerd

With heightened uncertainty around the world – from terrorist attacks to severe weather –businesses identify travel security as one of their top challenges in 2017.

To address this issue, Concur today unveiled the first integrated traveler risk management offering – Risk Messaging and Active Monitoring – to help businesses find and share critical information with employees at a moment’s notice during a crisis.

Concur, the world’s largest provider of travel and expense management solutions, is uniquely positioned to deliver this offering.

  • Risk Messaging leverages Concur’s comprehensive travel and expense data set, giving travel managers immediate visibility into employees that may be at risk and empowering them to take action.
  • Active Monitoring services include 24/7 monitoring, communication and assistance services – from pre-travel guidance to emergency safety information.
  • This can be severe weather, global health crises or terrorism attacks – anywhere in the world, at any time of day. For example, following terrorist attacks in Nice, France, Concur was able to locate employees within the hour.

Concur previewed new travel risk management capabilities at its annual Fusion customer conference in Chicago. Concur Risk Messaging and Active Monitoring will become available to global customers in 2017.

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Feds Identify Four Perps In Connection With Yahoo Hacks

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 15, 2017 by itnerd

According to a report by Bloomberg, four people have been identified in connection with the hacks of Yahoo. Three are Russian. One, in a moment of national shame for me, is apparently Canadian and he or she is under arrest:

U.S. officials are planning to unseal charges against four people, including two linked to the Russian intelligence service, related to the hacking attacks against Yahoo! Inc., according to a person briefed on the matter.

The Justice Department is accusing them of participating in massive online security breaches that compromised hundreds of millions of user accounts, said the person, who asked not to be identified because it was a sensitive legal matter. The hacks came to light last year and threatened to derail the sale of Yahoo’s web operations to Verizon Communications Inc.

One of the people was arrested in Canada Tuesday and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for an extradition hearing, according an officer with the court in Hamilton, near Toronto. Additional details weren’t immediately. Three of the suspects are believed to be in Russia, according to the person. Representatives of Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo and the Justice Department declined to comment.

So this case has taken an interesting turn as it looks like these hacks were state sponsored. That’s going to be a concern going forward as it is now clear that whether you’re a government or a corporation, you have to consider those actors as well as the 12 year old living in their mother’s basement.

UPDATE: There are many more details on this story now coming to light which make for a very interesting read. For that, I would direct you to this story. Also of note, Marissa Mayer who is the CEO of Yahoo who was clearly asleep at the switch when these hacks occurred had this to say on Twitter:

Twitter Hack Puts Nazi References Into High Profile Twitter Accounts

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 15, 2017 by itnerd

Today, many high profile Twitter accounts including the European Parliament, Unicef, Forbes Magazine, BBC North America, Die Welt and Reuters Japan had Tweets sent out from the accounts with Nazi slogans. The vehicle for the hack was a Twitter app called  Twitter Counter which some people and organizations use to measure Twitter stats. It has been blocked by Twitter as a result of the hack. Seeing as this has happened before and Twitter Counter was the source the last time, that seems like a wise move. According to The Guardian, the messages that were posted were supporting controversial Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan:

The attackers used the service’s permissions to post a message in Turkish, reading “卐 #NaziGermany👌#NaziNetherlands, a little👋#OTTOMAN SLAP for you, see you on #April16th.” That date is when Turkey is planning to hold a referendum on whether to grant stronger powers to its president Tayyip Erdoğan, and the tweets also linked to a pro-Erdoğan video on YouTube.

A search for the hashtags in the message – #Nazialmanya and #Nazihollanda in the original Turkish – returned thousands of results, indicating widespread success on the part of the hackers. The attackers also changed profile pictures and header images for some more high-profile targets, changing the main image to a Turkish flag and the profile picture to a Turkish-style coat of arms.

To avoid having your Twitter account pwned by hackers, I suggest that you double check your account and any third party apps or services. You can find instructions on how to do that here. Because if they get pwned, then you get pwned. Next I’d also recommend making sure you use a unique password and have two-factor authentication enabled to make sure that you’re not the next victim.

Why EVERY Canadian Should Get An Unlocked Phone

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 15, 2017 by itnerd

When Canadians need a new smartphone, they typically go to their carrier and get the phone of their choice. I’ve done that and I am sure that you’ve done that as well.

The problem is that it’s costing Canadians more money to do that. Here’s why.

When you go to your carrier to get a smartphone, you pay a lower up front cost. But you then pay a “subsidy” over the next two years to cover the rest of the phone’s cost. Note the quotes because it actually isn’t a “subsidy.” It’s more like a loan that you’re paying back with interest. So, by the time it’s all over you would have paid more than what the phone is worth. Another point worth considering is that if you ever wanted to change carriers within that two year term, you’ll have to pay off  that”subsidy” in full. Finally if you wanted a better price plan, that may be difficult to get from the carrier you’re with. If you can get a better price plan, you can bet that there will be strings attached. Such as renewing the two year agreement. Now, some of you will point out that paying for a phone up front is expensive. I get that as I just paid almost $1200 for a new iPhone 7 Plus which is not a small amount of money. But in the long run I am saving money as I am not paying for the costs associated with a “subsidy.” Thus it’s worth it to me.

Another factor in why you should get an unlocked phone is that Canadian carriers often have a bring your own device plan that can save you 10% or more. That 10% savings can add up quickly given how expensive carrier plans are in this country. It also gives you the option of going month to month with a carrier. That way, if you don’t like the coverage that carrier has, or they do something that annoys you for example, you have the option to move to another carrier. To illustrate this, I will use my experience since I started using an unlocked phone 6 years ago. Until last November, I have used Bell as I had a very good deal with them in terms of voice and data. But then switched to Rogers in November when they offered a better deal than what Bell was offering me. In both cases, I was month to month. I truly have no allegiance towards a carrier as it is all about which carrier will offer me the best coverage and speed for the lowest price.

Travelling is another factor. And when I say travelling, I mean to places other than the USA. Every Canadian carrier has reasonable rates to roam with your smartphone to the US of roughly $5 to $7 a day which I can live with and I am sure you can as well. But you can typically do much better if you have an unlocked phone as you can usually buy a local SIM card and get much cheaper rates in your destination. Let me give you two examples:

  • When I traveled to Australia on business a couple of years ago, I got an Optus SIM card that gave me unlimited voice, data, voice mail, 4G coverage and 500 MB of data a day for $2 AUD a day, which is basically $2 CAD. I was there for 5 days so that was a total of $10.
  • On a trip to India last year, I got a Vodafone SIM that gave me unlimited everything except for data which was capped at 1.4 GB for 675 INR which is $13 Canadian for the week that I was there.

When you consider that Bell, Rogers, and Telus offer you international roaming for $10 a day, it’s easy to see that the clear choice is to have an unlocked phone. The only potential downside is that you lose access to your Canadian number while you’re travellng. If that’s not a factor for you, then this is a no brainer.

Finally, buying an unlocked phone means that you avoid having to pay your carrier or a third party to unlock your phone. Canadian carriers are legally obliged to unlock your phone if you’ve been with them for more than 90 days. But that can cost you $50 or more. You could go to a third party shop and have them do it for you. But that’s going to cost money as well and I have never really felt comfortable recommending third party services as I am not confident that they will unlock the phone and not do something to it. Maybe I am being paranoid on that front. I am not sure. But it makes more sense to me that I avoid all of that by getting an unlocked phone up front.

Canadians pay way too much for their telco services as illustrated by this example. Thus it only makes sense that you as a consumer do everything possible to get the best deal for yourself on that front. By buying an unlocked phone, you can take some of that money that would normally go into the bonus plans of telco execs, and put it towards your next vacation, car or night out with your spouse. After all, it’s your money. Shouldn’t you get to hold onto it?