Archive for March 22, 2017

ITAC Comments On Budget 2017

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 22, 2017 by itnerd

Today’s federal budget addresses many of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector’s core recommendations to make Canada’s Innovation Agenda a success, according to the Information Technology Association of Canada, the voice of Canada’s ICT sector.

“Knowing the federal Government’s plan for this to be an Innovation Agenda budget, it does contain a number of important measures that address our nation’s technology skills gap, bolster our ability to help innovative businesses grow and scale while strengthening Canada’s ability compete digitally on the world stage,”says Robert Watson, President and CEO of ITAC.

“The devil is in the details though, so ITAC will continue to review the budget, discuss implementation with departments, distill down industry’s perspective and continue this dialogue,” Watson says.

“We are happy to see that the Government will create Innovation Canada to reduce confusion and make it easier for innovators to understand and access Government-led innovation support programs. This platform will look at six innovation opportunities and we are very pleased to see digital industries is a part of it,” adds Watson.

ITAC is equally as pleased to see the Government has announced $225 million over four years to establish a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada. This new organization will provide the knowledge base needed to address Canada’s ICT skills gap. This was a central recommendation in ITAC’s 2017 pre-budget submission.

ITAC also applauds the additional investments the Government will make: to help innovative companies grow through strategic procurement, providing up to $50 million to launch a new procurement program called Innovation Solutions Canada; encourage the development of Smart Cities, with $300M allocated to the adoption of new and innovative approaches to city building; growing Canada’s advantage in Artificial Intelligence (AI) with a $125 million to launch a Pan-Canadian AI Strategy for research and talent; and $1.26 billion dollars over five years for a Strategic Innovation Fund aimed at consolidating and simplifying existing business innovation programming.

There are some initiatives outlined in the budget that ITAC looks forward to learning more about. In particular, the new Impact Canada Fund that aims to help the President of Treasury Board’s mandate.  A modern digital government is a critical success factor in building our digital nation and funds to help kick-start digital service experimentation across departments is welcomed.

More information from ITAC on their perspective of Budget 2017 can be found here [Warning: PDF].

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‘Rivolta’ To Make World Premiere At Hot Docs Film Festival

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 22, 2017 by itnerd

Recently, I wrote about Michael Calce who is also the well known Canadian hacker ‘MafiaBoy’ and his association with HP to make a film called ‘Rivolta’ which directed by Academy Award nominated director Huber Davis. Today I got news that the movie will make its world premiere at the Hot Docs Film festival in Toronto. This is North America’s largest documentary film festival, conference and market, which makes it the perfect venue for this movie to make its debut. If you’re in Toronto, I’d make plans to see this movie as the topic is timely given what is going on with the state of computer security these days.

You May Want To Reset Your iCloud Password… Just In Case What I’m About To Tell You Is True

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 22, 2017 by itnerd

Now, I will say up front that I wonder about the veracity of their claims, but I will put this out there just in case there’s something to them. Motherboard is reporting that a group calling itself the Turkish Crime Family is threatening to reset iCloud accounts and remote wipe iPhones if Apple doesn’t pay them by April 7th. What’s got the attention of many is that the group claims to have access to 300 million accounts:

The hackers, who identified themselves as ‘Turkish Crime Family’, demanded $75,000 in Bitcoin or Ethereum, another increasingly popular crypto-currency, or $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards in exchange for deleting the alleged cache of data.

“I just want my money and thought this would be an interesting report that a lot of Apple customers would be interested in reading and hearing,” one of the hackers told Motherboard.

The hackers provided screenshots of alleged emails between the group and members of Apple’s security team. One also gave Motherboard access to an email account allegedly used to communicate with Apple.

Now, Apple has put it out there that they aren’t going to reward this group. That means that one of two things is going to happen:

A) Nothing. Because this group is bluffing.

B) A lot of Apple users are going to be really upset on April 7th.

My advice? This is a good time to look at your iCloud account in terms of how secure it is. Consider using a strong password that is distinct from other passwords that you have and enabling two factor authentication to ensure that you will not end up being pwned by this group. Assuming that their claims are true of course. We’ll find out if it is true on April 7th.

LastPass Seems To Have A Security Problem

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 22, 2017 by itnerd

The news is out that password manager LastPass has some critical security flaws that allow malicious websites to steal passwords. The first flaw was spotted by Tavis Ormandy of  Google’s Project Zero security team. He found that the LastPass Chrome extension has an exploitable content script that webpages can exploit to extract usernames and passwords. The good news is the LastPass folks quickly fixed this exploit. The bad news is that Firefox users are not immune as a similar exploit was found in an extension for that browser:

There is apparently a fix for this on the way. On top of that, LastPass is recommending that you move to version 4.x of their Firefox extension. However, before you do, you might want to read this from Mr. Ormandy:

It really seems that LastPass has some serious holes in it at present. Hopefully this all gets patched quickly. But you may want to consider moving to another password manager if you feel the least bit insecure.