Avaya Named a Leader by Gartner in 2018 Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

Avaya today announced the company is positioned as a Leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide, marking the 17th time that Avaya has been in the position. Companies in the Leaders quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant are defined as “companies that execute well against their current vision and are well positioned for tomorrow”.

Companies in over 150 countries around the world choose Avaya contact center solutions to transform their customer service and support operations, including Alorica, Eletropaulo, Exelon, Florius, Liberty Mutual, Yanfeng Automotive Interior Systems and others. Avaya’s comprehensive, end-to-end portfolio helps drive digital transformation by providing the secure, flexible foundation to power seamless self and assisted service over any channel, the ability to create and integrate applications in house, from Avaya or other third parties, and the workforce management tools to ensure continuous improvement. Avaya believes the portfolio addresses the Customer Experience Priorities in 2018 identified in a Gartner report:

Across a range of CX improvement projects, personalization, Voice of the Customer (VoC), metrics and multichannel-related projects will be the highest priority activities in 2018.”

Avaya’s flagship contact center offering, Avaya Oceana™, enables omnichannel capabilities for a personalized, multi-touch customer experience, a context-rich agent environment and seamless interactions and handoffs between mobile, self, and live service. Avaya Analytics delivers powerful, real-time and historical analysis and visualization of the customer journey. In addition, Avaya Breeze enables rapid development and integration of customized or pre-built applications – known as Avaya Snap-Ins – from Avaya and third-party developers. Avaya Workforce Optimization solutions enable companies to record the voice of the customer, analyze, and evaluate employee performance and deliver coaching to improve the customer experience.

Throughout the year, Avaya continued to advance its contact center portfolio with a number of strategic moves and innovative solutions: Offering Avaya Contact Center solutions as cloud, hybrid, or on-premises deployments – including Avaya Oceana; acquiring Spoken Communications for CCaaS for large enterprises; announcing the Avaya Mobile Experience – a unique offering that enables contact centers to identify incoming calls from mobile devices and optimize the customer experience for the device; and a strategic partnership with Afiniti to incorporate behavioral pairing into Avaya contact center routing. In addition, Avaya Ava – the company’s virtual customer assistant — made her debut equipped with natural language processing, machine learning, and innovative analytics to enable effortless customer engagement through social media and messaging platforms.

The 2018 report on the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldwide, evaluated 11 different contact center infrastructure vendors on completeness of vision and ability to execute. Gartner then positions companies within one of four quadrants: Visionaries, Niche Players, Challengers, and Leaders. Gartner defines contact center infrastructure (“CCI”) as “the products (equipment, software, and services) needed to operate call centers for telephony support and contact centers for multichannel support. A third deployment option for CCI is as a core component of customer engagement centers, in which functionality is tightly integrated with CRM and social media channels to give a ’single view of the customer’ across all touchpoints”.

 

 

Guest Post: NordVPN Highlights That The Securus Data Breach Shows Data Collected by Government Can Be Easily Exposed

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

Securus, a company that buys up smartphone location data of private citizens and sells it to law enforcement, was just hacked. According to Motherboard, the hacker had gained access to the account information of thousands of law enforcement officials who were using the servicer to track phones.

Before the hack, cybersecurity researcher Robert Xiao discovered an exploit where Securus’ free demo could be used to discover a cell phone’s exact location without even logging in. Anyone, anytime, for any reason, could use their platform to track someone’s exact location.

Securus bought the data from LocationSmart, a company that collects location data from telecoms and sells it to third parties – anybody willing to track someone’s location.

In addition to tracking private citizens, Securus was using the data in other questionable ways. For example, a former sheriff of Mississippi County, Missouri, Cory Hutcheson, used the service to track local judges and other law enforcement officials.

“Many companies are not doing enough to secure sensitive user data. The governmental methods of data collection cannot be trusted either,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “As we have seen with Securus, its cybersecurity was so fragile that the company was hacked less than a week after the existence of its legally questionable and unethical service was exposed. When government hires private companies like Securus, millions of private user data can get stolen, hacked or sold. Collecting data and tracking people can always backfire since this data is handled by other people, who can make mistakes.”

In the documents provided to Motherboard, the hacker proved that they had accessed the login information of prison wardens, administrators, correctional officers, and other law enforcement officials. They also indicated that the hack was “relatively simple,” though no further details have been published.

 

How to protect one’s privacy?

There’s no way to prevent one’s phone from being tracked while also remaining connected to a network capable of receiving and making phone calls. If phone calls are not necessary, a user can turn their phone off or turn an airplane mode on.

Turning off one’s location settings will make it harder to discover one’s location, but not impossible. To maintain a constant connection, modern phones always try to stay connected to at least three cell phone towers, which allows mobile network operators(and, by extension, the government) to triangulate one’s approximate location to varying degrees of accuracy.

Besides protecting one’s location, those who use the Internet should make sure they use an encryption method to protect their online activity. VPNs help encrypt the information between a user’s computer and VPN server and make it invisible to third parties.

 

Oh Noes! Even More Spectre Like CPU Flaws Found

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

Google and Microsoft are out with details on yet another Spectre like CPU flaw which is documented in CVE-2018-3639. It is similar to the other Spectre flaws as it stems from speculative execution. This is a technique that modern chips use to optimize their performance by making assumptions about upcoming operations. In this case if the CPU begins a process that doesn’t take place, then it should unwind and delete all of the related data. But sometimes it doesn’t do that which means that someone could get access to that data and here we are talking about it.

Intel has said that the fixes it has already deployed for other variants of this flaw should make this more difficult to exploit. And new fixes are on the way. But they may impact performance. Thus they will be off by default because the risk level is low. But the risk exists so you should expect to see some action on this front in the near future.

Review: 2018 Mazda6 Signature – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on May 22, 2018 by itnerd

The Mazda6 in the recent past has only come with a Skyactiv 2.5L normally aspirated four cylinder engine that put out 187 horsepower and 186 pound feet of torque. While those don’t sound like big numbers, none of the Mazda6 models that I’ve driven ever felt lacking in any way when it came to power. And quite frankly I saw no need for them to change anything. Now that engine is still available in the 2018 model year (and as a bonus it comes with Cylinder Deactivation technology). But for the first time, you have a second option if you need more power:

IMG_1551.jpg

This is the Skyactiv 2.5L turbo engine that puts out 227 horsepower (250 if you use premium gas instead of regular) and 310 pound feet of torque. If this engine and those numbers sound familiar, it’s because a similar engine is in the Mazda CX-9 7 passenger crossover. In this application, this takes a car that is already fun to drive, and amps it up by several orders of magnitude. If you put your foot down, it will leap off the line (in fact, I chirped the tires accelerating off the line from a light). Turbo lag exists if you look hard for it, but it is minimal and you blow by it in a blink of an eye. While it’s not quite “pin your back to the seat” acceleration, its acceleration is very authoritative and you will have lots of power for any situation that you find yourself in. Be it passing trucks or merging onto the highway. Plus it sounds great when you put your foot down.But if you want something closer to that “pin your back to the seat experience”, hit the sport switch and hang on. Though I will note that whether it is in normal mode or sport mode, it’s also one of those cars that has enough power and enough smoothness that it can get you to license suspension country in a hurry if you are not careful. It’s paired to a six speed automatic that in the Signature trim level has paddle shifters for those who like to shift gears themselves. But this is a well sorted transmission that really doesn’t require any human intervention at all. Thus I would leave it alone and let it do its thing. For those of you who want a real manual with a clutch pedal, that option is not available anymore. Likely because like many other car makers have discovered, the take-up on manuals was likely low.

#SaveTheManuals

The accelerator is easy to modulate. Ditto for the brakes. Noise, harshness and vibration is approaching luxury car low. The only times I heard anything was when I put my foot down to accelerate was the growl of the engine. Body roll is minimal and the suspension is firm without being so firm that it shakes you to bits unless you are on really rough roads. It’s also extremely agile and moniker of “sports sedan” fits it very well. What helps with that is G-Vectoring Control which responds to driver inputs with fewer steering adjustments, so your vehicle behaves as you intend and you enjoy a more enjoyable drive. It has a great amount of road feel which makes it very easy to figure out what the car is doing beneath you and the steering is well weighted at all speeds. Finally, visibility is excellent in all directions.

In terms of fuel economy, I am currently getting 9L per 100 KMs which is quite good as I am driving in city and highway traffic, and I am making no attempt to drive in any way that saves fuel.

Tomorrow I will discuss the interior which can be described in two words: “Class Above.” Tune in tomorrow to find out why.

TeenSafe Leaks Emails And Passwords…. Oh My

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 21, 2018 by itnerd

TeenSafe which bills itself as a way for parents to securely monitor their kids turns out it isn’t secure. I say that because it has leaked thousands of Apple IDs and the plain text passwords of accounts. ZDNet has all the details:

But the Los Angeles, Calif.-based company left its servers, hosted on Amazon’s cloud, unprotected and accessible by anyone without a password.

Robert Wiggins, a UK-based security researcher who searches for public and exposed data, found two leaky servers.

Both of the servers was pulled offline after ZDNet alerted the company, including another that contains what appears to be only test data.

“We have taken action to close one of our servers to the public and begun alerting customers that could potentially be impacted,” said a TeenSafe spokesperson told ZDNet on Sunday.

Oops. That’s a #Fail. One wonders if they have other servers in the same state. In fact, I would suggest that this company is trying to find out as I type this. Because you can bet that hackers are trying to find out what state their servers are in as I type this.

SAP Recognizes Seidor as the Best Global Partner in Cloud Services and Analytics for SMEs

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 21, 2018 by itnerd

Seidor, a multinational consulting firm specializing in technological services and solutions, has received two new SAP Pinnacle Awards to add to its outstanding global track record. The company has been recognized as SAP Cloud Partner of the Year – Small and Midsize Companies and SAP Partner of the Year – Analytics & Insight. Seidor was also a finalist in the SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Business ByDesign Partner of the year categories.

Every year, SAP delivers the prestigious Pinnacle Awards in recognition of those partners that have best contributed to the development, growth and track record of the business. As the main selection criteria, SAP took into account sales and performance data in terms of innovation, technology, services and specific areas of the solutions.

The official handover of the SAP Pinnacle Awards will take place at the next SAP Global Partner Summit, to be held on June 4 as part of SAPPHIRE NOW, the international customer conference organized by SAP.

 

Seidor has over 2,000 customers to whom it offers SAP services. The consultancy is also a founding member of United VARs, the largest global alliance of SAP partners, which this year obtained a total of 9 nominations for winners and finalists.

Review: 2018 Mazda6 Signature – Part 1

Posted in Products with tags on May 21, 2018 by itnerd

This is a USB memory stick I received from Mazda at an event that I attended a couple of years ago:

 

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Why am I highlighting this USB stick? It’s one of the best USB sticks that I have ever received. It feels very nice and upscale, as well as giving off an sense of being hand crafted and a quality product. Quite frankly it’s the best USB stick that I’ve had. I actually try not use it because of how well it is constructed.

Now imagine if you took that sort of attention to detail and applied it to a car. Well, you don’t have to imagine because Mazda would like you to look at the 2018 Mazda6 Signature:

 

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This is a mid sized car that looks very nice and upscale, as well as giving off an sense of being hand crafted and a quality product. The changes in the exterior of the 2018 model are subtle but significant. For example, LED exterior lights are the norm and there’s a nip here and a tuck there to make it look very upscale. But the real story is the engine and interior which really kick things up a notch. I’ll get to those in parts two and three of this review. But I think what you will see is that this is one impressive car.

My review of the 2018 Mazda6 Signature will be done in five parts:

  • Exterior
  • Engine, transmission, handling, fuel economy, and driving comfort
  • Interior
  • Technology in the vehicle
  • Wrap up

The next part of this review will cover the engine, transmission and driving comfort. All of which are far above what you would expect from a your average mid sized vehicle thanks to one significant change. Tune in tomorrow to see what I mean.

Are Canadian Carriers Sharing Location Data With LocationSmart?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 19, 2018 by itnerd

You might recall that I brought you a story about LocationSmart yesterday and the fact that not only four US carriers were sharing data with them, but they had a bug that allowed anyone to see any cell phone’s location. Well it seems that the “Big Three” cell phone carriers in Canada, as in Rogers, Bell, and Telus may be sharing data with this company according to Global News:

Privacy officials in Canada plan to look into reports over the past week that Canadian telecom companies share location data on subscribers with third-parties, a practice that, in at least one case, appears to have allowed similar data on Americans to be accessed by police without a warrant.

Bell, Rogers and Telus were named in an article on ZDNet.com, a technology website owned by a subsidiary of CBS Corp., as among the North American telecom companies selling real-time location data on subscribers to a company called LocationSmart.

If that’s true, then that’s very troubling. I expect better from the “Big Three” carriers in Canada. I would expect that all of the big three to explain whatever relationship that they have with this company and do it now. Because all three of these companies aren’t exactly loved by the public. And this isn’t going to help their public image.

 

Cell Phone Tracking Firm Exposed Millions Of Americans’ Real-time Locations

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 18, 2018 by itnerd

You’ve likely never heard of a company called LocationSmart. But I will let security researcher Brian Krebs tell you why you should care:

On May 10, The New York Times broke the news that a different cell phone location tracking company called Securus Technologies had been selling or giving away location data on customers of virtually any major mobile network provider to a sheriff’s office in Mississippi County, Mo.

On May 15, ZDnet.com ran a piece saying that Securus was getting its data through an intermediary — Carlsbad, CA-based LocationSmart.

Wednesday afternoon Motherboard published another bombshell: A hacker had broken into the servers of Securus and stolen 2,800 usernames, email addresses, phone numbers and hashed passwords of authorized Securus users. Most of the stolen credentials reportedly belonged to law enforcement officers across the country — stretching from 2011 up to this year.

None of that is good. But it actually gets worse. Apparently the LocationSmart website had a bug in its website that allowed anyone to see where a person is located without obtaining their consent:

LocationSmart’s demo is a free service that allows anyone to see the approximate location of their own mobile phone, just by entering their name, email address and phone number into a form on the site. LocationSmart then texts the phone number supplied by the user and requests permission to ping that device’s nearest cellular network tower.

Once that consent is obtained, LocationSmart texts the subscriber their approximate longitude and latitude, plotting the coordinates on a Google Street View map. [It also potentially collects and stores a great deal of technical data about your mobile device. For example, according to their privacy policy that information “may include, but is not limited to, device latitude/longitude, accuracy, heading, speed, and altitude, cell tower, Wi-Fi access point, or IP address information”].

But according to Xiao, a PhD candidate at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, this same service failed to perform basic checks to prevent anonymous and unauthorized queries. Translation: Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about how Web sites work could abuse the LocationSmart demo site to figure out how to conduct mobile number location lookups at will, all without ever having to supply a password or other credentials.

“I stumbled upon this almost by accident, and it wasn’t terribly hard to do,” Xiao said. “This is something anyone could discover with minimal effort. And the gist of it is I can track most peoples’ cell phone without their consent.”

Well, that’s very disturbing. This demo software was promptly taken offline when the story broke. But there’s a larger issue here. Which is the security of your data and what you should expect in terms of privacy. A US senator is poking around the edges of this, but this requires a more stringent response. As in the four telcos and all of the companies above need to come in front of congress to answer some tough questions about this.

Guest Post: NordVPN Discusses What Happens To Millions Of Facebook User Profiles Scraped by Scholars?

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 17, 2018 by itnerd

Just two months ago, the #deletefacebook hashtag was trending all over the Internet due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Back then, it was revealed that Facebook had allowed third parties to scrape users’ personal data. Aleksandr Kogan, a University of Cambridge psychology professor, had obtained the data of about 87 million Facebook users, which was then used in the Trump election campaign, among others.

Since then, it has come to light that – besides Mr. Kogan – various other scholars have been harvesting information from Facebook accounts, capturing the behavior of millions of individuals.

For example, Swedish and Polish researchers were using a program called “scraper” that logged every comment and interaction from a selected number of Facebook pages for about two years.

“It is still not clear how the data of these millions of scraped profiles is being used,” said Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. “As for Cambridge Analytica, at least we know where this data went –it was used to influence elections. How about all the other millions of profiles, collected by other scholars? We know that academic institutions do not always have experts in online security and data protection. Past experience shows that lots of this private information is stored on unsecure servers, and may be sold to marketers, stolen by hackers or handed over to political parties or consulting firms.”

The retained data may include people’s interests, preferences, geographical location, political profile and much more. The amount of collected data allows to match it with profiles and identify the actual people hiding behind anonymized profiles and to target them with specific messages, whether commercial or political. It can also end up in the wrong hands, allowing hackers to expose private information or to blackmail Facebook users.

NordVPN recommends following some simple rules that can help avoid being tracked on Facebook. It’s important not to use any third-party apps, such as quizzes, that require access to a user’s profile. It’s also advisable to revoke access to Facebook apps that are no longer in use or that offer users to get likes or followers.

Outside of Facebook, users should use ad blockers, regularly delete cookies and install anti-tracking browser extensions, such as Disconnect Private Browsing or Privacy Badger. Using a VPN is also crucial – it helps to browse the Internet privately and encrypts the data between a user’s device and the VPN server.