Archive for September 15, 2021

Microsoft Allows You To Go Passwordless For Their Accounts

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 15, 2021 by itnerd

Anyone with a Microsoft account can now remove their password from the account entirely to enable better security:

For the past couple of years we’ve been saying that the future is passwordless, and today I am excited to announce the next step in that vision,” Microsoft corporate vice president Vasu Jakkal writes in the announcement post. “Beginning today, you can now completely remove the password from your Microsoft account.” As for the “why” of this change, Microsoft points to the fact that passwords are insecure and are the focus of over 18 billion attacks every year, or 579 attacks every second. Before you can go passwordless, you’ll need the Microsoft Authenticator app on your smartphone. Then, you can use Windows Hello, a security key, or a verification code that’s sent to an email address, your phone, or a compatible app or service like Outlook, OneDrive, Microsoft Family Safety, and more to sign-in, depending on the location.

This is huge and I applaud Microsoft for making this move as this will encourage other companies like Apple and others to make the same move. I’ll be experimenting with this and I will post a story on what my experiences are with living in a passwordless world.

Parler’s Hosting Company Has Allegedly Been Pwned By Anonymous

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 15, 2021 by itnerd

I haven’t written about anything to do with Parler for a while now. But there are back in the news for all the wrong reasons as it seems that Epik Hosting who has been hosting Parler since they were Thanos snapped off of Amazon Web Hosting has allegedly been pwned by Anonymous:

Members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous claim to have hacked web registration company Epik, allegedly stealing ‘a decade’s worth of data,’ including reams of information about its clients and their domains. Epik is controversial, having been known to host a variety of rightwing clients, including ones that previous web hosting providers, like GoDaddy, have dropped for various reasons. Its users have included conservative social media networks Parler and Gab, as well as conspiracy-theory-laden YouTube wannabe Bitchute and former President Trump fansite, The Donald. The company recently hosted — the website designed to help people snitch on Texas residents who want abortions — but later forcibly removed the tip-collecting platform after determining that it had violated Epik’s terms by nonconsensually collecting third-party information.

I’m going to be completely transparent here. I am not sure how I feel about this.

On one hand, I am no fan of any of the clients that they host. So part of me feels that their hosting company deserves to get pwned. On the flip side nobody, no matter how unsavory, deserves to get pwned. Thus I am very conflicted about this.

UPDATE: Saumitra Das, CTO and Cofounder, Blue Hexagon had this to say:

“The response from Epik does not make it clear if they know what happened. This has happened to a lot of the right-wing outlets (Parler and Gab) because they have been brought up in record time to capitalize on current events like the Election, Vaccines, Voting, Deplatforming to be able to fundraise or get traction quickly. Unfortunately, this usually means that security takes a back seat from business pressure which can result in breaches. Usually, hacktivists are not known to be as sophisticated as nation-state groups or the big game ransomware operators but nowadays a lot of tools and malware are for sale and can be used by anyone who is reasonably technically adept at penetrating networks.”

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Introduces AI-Based Engagement Scoring, Data Integrations To Help Marketers Boost Personalization

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 15, 2021 by itnerd

Today, Salesforce introduced new AI-powered innovations for Marketing Cloud that help companies humanize every interaction; make trusted, first-party data the foundation of their digital strategy; and optimize marketing impact with unified analytics.The innovations announced today include Einstein Engagement Scoring in Salesforce CDP, Einstein Designer, Interaction Studio Templates, and Datorama Connectors.

In this digital-first world, companies need to deliver moments that are connected, relevant, and human in order to develop trusted relationships that build loyalty and grow revenue. In fact, 84% of marketers say that customer expectations are changing as digital experiences become more sophisticated. To deliver on these expectations, companies must harness the power of data and leverage AI— while also respecting privacy and using data with consent. 

Today’s news builds on the recently announced innovations that combine the power of Slack and Salesforce to help marketers build digital HQs that transform collaboration and deliver insights fast, improve their strategies through streamlined workflows, and enable quicker decisions.

Know your customer to engage with relevancy

According to the State of Marketing Report, 60% of customers are open to the use of AI to improve their experiences. Marketers’ top AI use cases include driving recommendations, personalizing the overall customer journey, and automating customer interactions. 

Customers can use AI in combination with cross-cloud data to target their most active subscribers

Einstein Engagement Scoring in Salesforce CDP helps marketers use AI in combination with cross-cloud data to target their most active subscribers within Salesforce CDP, an enterprise customer data platform that supercharges customer interactions everywhere. This capability improves engagement, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction across every touchpoint. For example, marketers can use Einstein Engagement Scores in Salesforce CDP to omit users unlikely to engage with emails or mobile, and instead utilize other channels like advertising or social media to engage with them.

Humanize every moment with real-time personalization

Eighty percent of marketers say that engaging customers in real time is their number one challenge. Marketing Cloud innovations announced today help meet this need through:

Customers can create relevant content with the help of AI in seconds

  • Interaction Studio Templates deliver personalized interactions with templates that now extend and simplify personalization to customers via ATMs, point-of-sale systems, and call centers.
  • Interaction Studio Integration with Experience Cloud provides personalized web, mobile, and portal experiences based on real-time engagement.
  • Interaction Studio Integration with CRM gives sales and service teams real-time visibility into customer behavior, segmentation, and next-best actions.
  • Einstein Designer creates relevant content with the help of AI in seconds using variations of available images, copy, and headlines. 

Optimize marketing impact with smarter insights

According to the Marketing Intelligence Report, the top three improvements marketers are seeking to make over the next year include optimizing marketing spend, developing a strategic view of overall marketing performance, and gaining a stronger ability to understand and engage customers. AI innovations in Marketing Cloud that meet these needs include:

Customers can use out-of-the-box analytics apps and AI-driven insights understand the business impact of their marketing efforts

Datorama Connectors and Apps for Salesforce CDP and Interaction Studio enable marketers to understand the business impact of their first-party, data-driven marketing and advertising. With out-of-the-box analytics apps and deeper Einstein Marketing Insights, companies can optimize return on investment (ROI) and customer lifetime value (LTV).


  • Einstein Engagement Scoring in Salesforce CDP is generally available today.
  • Interaction Studio Templates are generally available today.
  • Interaction Studio Integration with Experience Cloud is generally available today.
  • Interaction Studio Integration with CRM will be generally available to customers early next year.
  • Einstein Designer will be generally available to customers early next year.
  • Datorama Connector and App for Salesforce CDP is generally available today.
  • Datorama Connector and App for Interaction Studio is generally available today.

Guest Post: US Online Searches For ‘Facebook Account Hacked’ Surge 93% YTD, Almost Double 2020 Figure Says Atlas VPN

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 15, 2021 by itnerd

Facebook has had its fair share of security mishaps over the years, and 2021 is no exception. This may explain why a record number of people in the United States are scouring the web for information about Facebook account hacks.

According to the data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, average monthly searches for the keyword ‘Facebook account hacked’ have grown by a whopping 93% since last year. This year alone, US internet users have looked up the keyword 159,000 times compared to 82,300 times in the entire year of 2020.

If we look at the historical data, the searches for the keyword ‘Facebook account hacked’ have increased a whopping 188% since 2016 when they were at 55,208

The keyword reached a record number of monthly searches in July of 2021 when it hit 40,000. The second most searches for the keyword were recorded in April of this year, totaling 28,000. Meanwhile, May 2021 occupies the third spot on the list with 25,000 searches.  

Peaks in the keyword searches this year coincide with Facebook’s security crisis. In April, sensitive data, including phone numbers of 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries was scraped and posted on a hacking forum.

Ruth Cizynski, the cybersecurity researcher and writer at Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the situation: 

“While Facebook had its fair share of security and data breaches in the past, Internet searches about hacked Facebook accounts only blew up this year. It suggests that people are getting more conscious about their cybersecurity. ”

To read the full article, head over to:

Uber Helps To Get The Vote Out In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 15, 2021 by itnerd

On Monday, Canadians will be heading to the polls to participate in Canada’s 44th Federal Election. And as part of Uber’s global commitment to help people move to the polls, we’re offering up to 50% off for roundtrip rides to and from the polls (up to $5 off for each trip)*. On September 20 across the country, Canadians can use the code VOTE2021 while the polls are open in their home province.  

From the 2020 U.S. election, to state elections in India earlier this year, Uber is proud to use its technology to reduce transportation barriers and help eligible voters safely cast their ballots.  

This is part of our ongoing effort in Canada to help move what matters, whether it’s helping Canadians get to vaccination centres, or helping first responders arrive safely to work. We’re proud to be a trusted partner for Canadians making plans to get to the polls, and help keep the wheels of democracy turning.

Pulling an election together is no easy feat—to Elections Canada and their staff, the candidates who put their names on the ballot, and the volunteers who power their campaigns, thank you for your efforts. 

Learn more about where to vote through Elections Canada here.

*Terms and conditions apply.  Code can be used in any Canadian city where Uber is available. Must apply the promo code in the Wallet section of the Uber app prior to requesting the ride to redeem the discount. Discount valid for up to $5 off maximum of two (2) UberX, UberXL or Uber Green trips on September 20, 2021. Cannot be combined with other offers. One time use only. Non-transferable. Offer is available between 7:30 am ET and 10:00 pm ET on September 20, 2021. Discount does not apply to tips. Offer and terms subject to change.

Canadian Organizations That Migrate to Cloud Primarily as a One-Time Cost Savings Activity Risk Missing Out on Competitive Advantages: Accenture 

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 15, 2021 by itnerd

A new global report from Accenture has identified a select group of organizations spanning several industries that treat cloud as a new operating model to continuously reinvent their businesses using innovative, multi-cloud capabilities — across public, private and edge — realize greater business value, well beyond cost savings.

Based on a survey of nearly 4,000 C-suite executives at both private- and public-sector organizations globally, including 200 Canadian executives, the report, titled “Ever-ready for Every Opportunity: How to Unleash Competitiveness on the Cloud Continuum,” explains why looking at cloud as a one-time migration to a static destination — essentially as a cheaper, more-efficient data centre — is limiting for most organizations, including those in Canada. In fact, a narrow focus on cost savings can actually put organizations at a competitive disadvantage compared to those using cloud more strategically across its many dynamic forms, including public, private and edge.

The report reveals that while Canadian organizations plan to migrate more than two-thirds of their workloads to cloud, on average, over the next three to five years, only half are using the full potential of cloud in its various forms to transform their day-to-day business operations, carry out knowledge work and modernize applications to meet business needs.

Accenture defines the organizations leading the way in cloud as “Continuum Competitors.” These organizations — about 12-15% of respondents globally — stand out by extending the experience they gained from public cloud to their private data centers and edge locations to transform daily business operations. As a result, they achieve substantial gains from their continued cloud engagement and outperform competitors. Continuum Competitors are also much better positioned to withstand future shocks, according to the research.

Continuum Competitors include organizations such as Carlsberg, for example.

Unlike organizations whose cloud efforts focus primarily on one-time migration to cloud for cost savings and efficiency, Continuum Competitors in Canada are:

  • 1.6x more likely to see outcomes such as AI-augmented knowledge work; 
  • achieving 1.3x greater cost reduction than organizations focused mainly on data migration;
  • targeting at least 1.3x better in financial and operational goals, such as increased customer value, lower operating costs, financial growth and flexibility, and scaling new innovations;
  • 3.6x more likely to use the cloud for at least two sustainability goals, such as using green energy sources, designing for lower power consumption, and using servers more efficiently to reduce energy consumption.

By studying Continuum Competitors’ use of cloud, Accenture has identified four winning cloud approaches applicable to any organization: 

  1. Know where you want the continuum to take you. An organization must first develop a strategy with a vision that clearly states the core values and future aspirations, identifies competitive vulnerabilities and classifies capabilities relative to where the company is today and its future aspirations. They must develop these strategies by taking into account the constant evolution of cloud capabilities across the continuum.
  1. Establish cloud practices to support and augment your technologies. Organizations need to couple technology adoption with practices that bring discipline and help change non-technology areas at the pace of computational improvements. Agility is the most critical mindset to being a Continuum Competitor; it infuses cloud-first apps, talent transformation, information technology experimentation and compute awareness, among other areas.  
  1. Accelerate innovation to deliver exceptional experiences. Continuum Competitors prioritize their investments in one area: experience. They use a combination of human-centered design and cloud-based technologies such as edge computing to rethink experience to push it closer to where their customers, partners and employees engage. This is done by driving the experience mindset throughout the organization, including products and services, employee experience and delivery models.
  1. Provide continuous strategic commitment. Leadership needs to establish business objectives, set appropriate risk levels and promote a culture of agility and growth. Organizations must also recognize the “all-hands” nature of the challenge: everyone across the organization needs to be informed of the cloud’s ever-improving potential and best practices.

Accenture’s “Ever-ready for Every Opportunity: How to Unleash Competitiveness on the Cloud Continuum” research arrives at a time when Canadian organizations have been forced by the pandemic to provide their customers with unique experiences and serve them in new and virtual ways. Prior global research from Accenture found that companies, including those Canada, that scaled technology innovation during COVID-19 are growing revenue approximately five times faster than lagging adopters of technology innovation.

About the Research 

In late 2020 and early 2021, Accenture surveyed nearly 4,000 C-suite executives, in both information technology (IT) and non-IT roles, across 25 countries and 16 industries. The research — which included interviews, case study research and economic modelling — focused on collecting data on adoption and scaling of technologies associated with cloud, each organization’s cloud journey, strategy, and goals, management practices around cloud, multiple measures of financial and operational performance, and the impact of cloud on innovation and sustainability outcomes.