Archive for April 2, 2018

Canadians still weighing the benefits of AI: OpenText

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 2, 2018 by itnerd

Canadians are at the forefront of AI research and development, with cities such as Toronto and Montreal positioned as destinations for global leaders and innovators, but what do Canadians really think about AI? As Canadian government and organizations make investments in AI, citizens are forming opinions about how artificial intelligence and machine learning technology will affect their lives at work and at home.

While the technology offers many promising benefits, allowing for faster, more precise decision making (for example in healthcare), the results of a new survey from OpenText show Canadians still value the input of real people.

Some of this year’s major findings include:

  • The majority of Canadians (70 per cent) are not worried about being replaced by a robot at their job, and 45 per cent think their job could never be taken over by a robot.
  • Only 24 per cent of Canadians would feel comfortable working alongside a robot.
  • Canadians see more accurate diagnoses the biggest benefits of AI in healthcare (26 per cent), followed closely by a quicker diagnosis (21 per cent).
  • One-fifth of Canadians (20 per cent) see not taking time off work to visit a doctor as the biggest benefit to introducing AI in healthcare.
  • Almost half (48 per cent) of Canadians think driverless cars make the road safer, but Canadians are not completely sold on autonomous vehicles, half (50 per cent) would not consider buying or even renting one if priced similarly to a “normal” car.
  • Of the Canadians who feel the roads would be safer with autonomous cars, 31 per cent believed it was because they automatically obey all traffic laws, 10 per cent said they would only make highways safer, 7 per cent said it would be safer but only in towns and cities.
  • Despite all the hype around AI technologies, only 23 per cent of Canadians surveyed are aware of having interacted with AI technology in the last 12 months, 37 per cent didn’t know if they had.
  • Canadians are wary of AI’s ability to make better decisions than elected representatives if used in government, 33 per cent say the technology would not make better decisions because it can’t assess cultural aspects.
  • However, Canadians believe they will see AI technology in government soon (21 per cent say in the next 1-2 years), and they see the biggest potential benefits as reducing wait times for government services (23 per cent) followed by reducing errors (14 per cent).

The complete results of the OpenText 2018 AI survey for Canada can be found here.


Review: Western Digital My Passport 4TB Portable Drive

Posted in Products with tags on April 2, 2018 by itnerd

I was having some issues with my NAS and I needed an external drive with at least 3TB of space to back up the contents so that I could erase it and set it up from scratch. Thus it was timely that my local computer store had a sale on the Western Digital My Passport 4TB portable drive as that would more than satisfy my need to back up 3TB of data.


It is a USB 3.0 drive with a stylish exterior (which has the added bonus of being available in multiple colors, but its finish is a bit of a fingerprint magnet) that fits in your pocket. Though I would recommend getting a case for it to ensure that it survives any bumps that it might be subjected to.

Western Digital does include some software in the box in the form of backup software, a drive utility that will check the status and secure-erase the drive, as well as encryption software for dealing with sensitive data. Further to that, the encryption is hardware based which won’t slow it down. I should note that the drive utility software works on both Mac and PC. Ditto for the security software. But the backup software is PC only.

So, how does it perform? It isn’t the fastest drive around if you’re copying large amounts of data such as 300GB disk images like I was last week. But for most people that won’t matter as I found the performance to be pretty good when copying things like MP3s and movies which are far smaller in size.

So what does this drive go for? You can pick up the 4TB version for $120 USD which is a pretty good deal. It is also available in 3TB, 2TB, and 1TB versions as well if you don’t need that amount of storage or don’t want to spend the cash on a 4TB drive. One thing to consider is that it has a 3 year warranty which makes it an even better value. Not that you’ll need to use that warranty as from my experience Western Digital drives are extremely reliable. And in my mind it should push it to the top of your list if you’re looking for an external hard drive.

Saks Fifth Avenue & Lord & Taylor Pwned…. Payment Card Info Swiped

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 2, 2018 by itnerd

It appears that there has been a data breach at luxury retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor where payment card info was swiped by hackers. The bad part is that someone outside of HBC which owns the retailers in question found the breach:

Dmitry Chorine, the co-founder of Gemini Advisory, said his firm works to improve response to data breaches by analyzing stolen data that appears on the so-called dark web.

Chorine said the firm started looking into the breach when they noticed an influx of stolen credit and debit card information being offered for sale on the dark web last week.

Upon analyzing the data, Chorine said they were able to determine that shoppers at all Lord & Taylor and at certain Saks Fifth Avenue locations were at risk of having their information stolen.

“On March 28, we saw a significant spike of stolen credit cards offered for sale on one of the marketplaces,” said Chorine.

“When we checked, we saw there was an advertisement stating that more than 5 million credit and debit cards will be offered for sale, and that’s when we decided to research this particular breach.”

The data that Chorine and his team found was being offered on a dark web marketplace operated by a hacking group called JokerStash, which Chorine says has been active in hacking retail and hospitality companies for the past three years.

When someone else outside your organization tells you about your bad news, that’s pretty bad. But it gets worse:

Gemini Advisory said Sunday that it had found data that had been stolen from as early as March 2017, and as late as March 2018.

Well, HBC was clearly asleep at the switch. Here’s why that is:

He said that only certain Saks Fifth Avenue locations were affected because the outlet was in the process of switching from card-swipe technology to EMV chip technology, which is already commonly used in Canada. 

That apparently wasn’t enough to stop three Saks stores in the Greater Toronto Area from being exposed to this data breach. The stores are:

  • Sherway Gardens in Toronto
  • Bramalea City Centre in Brampton, Ont.
  • Pickering Town Centre in Pickering, Ont.

The usual advice applies in this case. If you shopped at one of these stores during the time period that I mentioned above, or any Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor location, review their account statements to ensure there hasn’t been activity or transactions they don’t recognize. If you see anything weird, call your bank and get your card swapped ASAP.

Meanwhile, I hope that parent company HBC has a very good explanation as to why this happened and how they will stop future pwnage from happening.

Cloudflare Launches Consumer DNS With A Focus On Privacy

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 2, 2018 by itnerd

I didn’t post this yesterday as it was April Fools Day and I didn’t want people to think this was a joke.

With that out of the way, Cloudflare which is a company that focuses on protecting enterprises from things like DDoS attacks has launched their DNS service which is its first consumer product. Here’s why you should care:

DNS itself is a 35-year-old protocol and it’s showing its age. It was never designed with privacy or security in mind. In our conversations with browser, operating system, app, and router manufacturers nearly everyone lamented that, even with a privacy-first service like, DNS inherently is unencrypted so it leaks data to anyone who’s monitoring your network connection. While that’s harder to monitor for someone like your ISP than if they run the DNS resolver themselves, it’s still not secure.

What’s needed is a move to a new, modern protocol. There are a couple of different approaches. One is DNS-over-TLS. That takes the existing DNS protocol and adds transport layer encryption. Another is DNS-over-HTTPS. It includes security but also all the modern enhancements like supporting other transport layers (e.g., QUIC) and new technologies like server HTTP/2 Server Push. Both DNS-over-TLS and DNS-over-HTTPS are open standards. And, at launch, we’ve ensured supports both.

We think DNS-over-HTTPS is particularly promising — fast, easier to parse, and encrypted. To date, Google was the only scale provider supporting DNS-over-HTTPS. For obvious reasons, however, non-Chrome browsers and non-Android operating systems have been reluctant to build a service that sends data to a competitor. We’re hoping that with an independent DNS-over-HTTPS service now available, we’ll see more experiments from browsers, operating systems, routers, and apps to support the protocol.

The fact that Cloudflare assures that your browsing habits will be kept private is important. ISPs among others desperately want to take your browsing data and make money off of it any way they can. Thus if you factor in the repeal of net neutrality in the US, this is a perfect time for a service like this to launch., If you visit you can get set up with this promising new DNS service. I’ll be trying it out and writing a follow up on this in the coming days.