The Corliss Group Latest Tech Review: How secure are payment technologies?



New payment technologies have the potential to make shopping online and in store more secure, but banks, tech companies and shops must first move to upgrade their systems efficiently and correctly, say cyber safety experts.

The payments industry is working to make it faster and more convenient to move money around. Yet, if implemented wrongly, this can make life easier for hackers too, the security experts say.

“Many of these evolutionary or revolutionary changes have been driven by convenience and ease of use, and often accepting a certain amount of risk,” says Amit Mital, chief technology officer of security firm Symantec.

Making the purchase of goods more secure is a priority for retailers, banks and payment companies. In the US, where payment card technology is less sophisticated than in Europe, retailers have recently been hit by massive data breaches, in which hackers have been able to steal tens of millions of customers’ card and personal data.

The highest-profile technology to hit the market is Apple Pay, which works with the iPhone 6s. It lets shoppers store their credit card information on their iPhone and pay for goods by tapping the phone on an in-store receiver. Because of a technology called “tokenisation” experts say it is more secure than current card systems.

With tokenisation, merchants receive data that obscures the shopper’s actual credit card number, reducing the chance that hackers can steal usable data from merchants’ internal systems. Because iPhones use fingerprint recognition to verify shoppers’ identity, it is also nearly impossible for a thief to steal an iPhone and make a purchase.

“We do not see any concern on our side in terms of security,” says Thierry Denis, president in North America for Ingenico, a manufacturer of credit card readers.

But there is a catch. In the first few months after Apple Pay’s launch last year, thieves have been able to take stolen credit cards, load them on to iPhones, and go shopping. They have not compromised the technology, but have got through the banks’ processes for checking — during the Apple Pay set-up — that the customer adding the card to his or her phone is the card’s real owner.

That fraud started showing up within a month of Apple Pay’s launch last year, with the level of fraud seen through the set-up far higher than that seen typically seen in credit cards, according to Cherian Abraham, a payments analyst who wrote one of the first blog posts to call attention to the issue. Given Apple’s sophisticated technology, the fraud was a “surprise to all”, he wrote.

Mr Mital of Symantec said the recent incidents of fraud on Apple Pay were “more of a failure in process than in technology”.

Joe Majka, chief security officer of Verifone, a manufacturer of point of sale terminals where shoppers swipe their cards, says that better encryption on such devices could be a security “game changer”, if widely adopted.

Like tokenisation, encryption means that hackers cannot make as much use of data they might steal if they are able to get into a retailer’s network.

Retailers have been slow to adopt such encrypted systems for various reasons. Regulations in the US are changing later this year and retailers will soon be responsible for the cost of fraud if they do not accept chip-and-pin cards, which make transactions more secure than when users just swipe their card.

But small retailers do not often see fraudulent purchases and so may be reluctant to spend on upgrading, without realising that their older systems mean they could be giving hackers a way to steal their customers’ data, says Mr Majka.

For larger retailers, making the shift takes work.

“When you talk to merchants and [payment] processors,” says Mr Majka, “there are so many changes in their systems, in their coding, that have to be made to accommodate an encrypted transaction.”
Other innovations featuring purely digital mobile payments via apps also face risks.

Cash-transfer app Venmo, which is owned by PayPal, recently faced media reports highlighting how hackers could access the app to transfer money to themselves.

Venmo has since added better email notifications and is adding multi-factor authentication to make logging in more secure. But the fact that this was already standard on services such as Gmail underlines how companies do not always use the most secure solutions available on the market.

Similarly, while US banks have been rolling out the more secure chip-and-pin cards for many months in anticipation of the regulatory changes this year, they are not yet available to all consumers.

Mr Majka of Verifone replaced his card recently and wanted a chip card. His bank, however, said he would have to wait. “It’s a little disappointing,” he says.

Corliss Tech Review Group: Google Glass barely alive

Two years ago, Google has hyped its Glasses device as the greatest thing since sliced bread -- and for a moment, many of us believed it.

During its launch, there was much enthusiasm on the part of the consumers and developers but now people seemed to be losing interest. (Whether that's because of the $1,500 price tag or the fact that you can't really find a place to buy it from remains unknown.)

While it may still sound supercool to geeks, Glass might not even reach the hands of the general public as developers are jumping out of the bandwagon. Some of them have felt the lack of support from Google, especially since an official public launch date is yet to be set. When Glass became available for developers in 2012, 10,000 units were reportedly sold. Then last year, it became available to tech lovers and media people but as of now, there's no news when it would become commercially available.

"It's not a big enough platform to play on seriously," said the founder of Normative Design Matthew Milan who discontinued their Glass app supposed to target fitness buffs.

According to Corliss Tech Review Group, out of more than a dozen Glass app developers, 9 have already put their efforts on hold owing to the limitations of the gadget and perceived lack of customers. Meanwhile, 3 of them have instead switched their focus on developing software for businesses.

"If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There's no market at this point," said Tom Frencel, CEO of a game developer firm that held back its efforts to make a Glass game.

What's more, in the past 6 months, a number of Google employees responsible for the Glass development have reportedly left. Also, the Glass Collective, a funding consortium by Google Ventures has invested in only 3 startups this year and has taken down its website without notice. A spokesperson from Google Ventures said that the reason for the website closure is for entrepreneurs to come to them directly.

Google insists it's still committed to developing Glass. Chris O'Neill, its head of business ops said, "We are completely energized as ever about the opportunity that wearable and Glass in particular represent. We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launch this product until it's absolutely ready."

The formerly proud "Explorers" who go around the streets touting their Glasses are now getting flak for being "Glassholes". After all, no one really wants such evident threat to privacy hanging around in obvious, or obscure, places. In fact, someone from Google admitted himself that Glass is a perfect example of privacy issues concerning wearable devices.

Experts from Corliss Tech Review Group have already predicted that it's a tall order for Glass to be a mass-market gadget. It's more likely to go down the road of Segway; a supposedly cool invention that ended up being used only in professional and industrial settings.

tag : Corliss Tech Review Group, Google Glass barely alive

The Corliss Group Latest Tech Review: New Algorithm Finds the Most Beautiful

The way we navigate in cities has been revolutionized in the last few years by the advent of GPS mapping programs. Enter your start and end location and these will give you the shortest route from A to B.

That’s usually the best bet when driving, but walking is a different matter. Often, pedestrians want the quietest route or the most beautiful but if they turn to a mapping application, they’ll get little help.

That could change now thanks to the work of Daniele Quercia at Yahoo Labs in Barcelona, Spain, and a couple of pals. These guys have worked out how to measure the “beauty” of specific locations within cities and then designed an algorithm that automatically chooses a route between two locations in a way that maximizes the beauty along it. “The goal of this work is to automatically suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant,” they say.

Quercia and co begin by creating a database of images of various parts of the center of London taken from Google Street View and Geograph, both of which have reasonably consistent standards of images. They then crowdsourced opinions about the beauty of each location using a website called UrbanGems.org.

Each visitor to UrbanGems sees two photographs and chooses the one which shows the more beautiful location. That gives the team a crowdsourced opinion about the beauty of each location. They then plot each of these locations and their beauty score on a map which they use to provide directions.

The idea here is that the user enters a start and end location and an algorithm then finds the most beautiful route, rather than the shortest one. It does this by searching through every possible route, adding the beauty scores for each and choosing the one that ranks highest.

Quercia and co say that on average these routes turn out to be just 12 percent longer than the shortest routes, which makes them reasonable alternatives for a pedestrian.

To work out whether the routes chosen by the algorithm are really more beautiful, Quercia and co recruited 30 people who live in London and are familiar with the area, to assess the recommended paths. And indeed, they agreed that the routes chosen by the algorithm were more beautiful than the shortest routes.

But that’s just the start. Crowdsourcing opinion for every possible location in a city is clearly a time-consuming and potentially expensive business. So Quercia and co have automated this process using photos from Flickr and the data and tags attached to them.

They chose some five million pictures taken in the same places as their original photos and then mined the data associated with them to see what parameters correlated with beauty.

Factors that turn out to be a good indicator of beauty are things like the number of pictures taken of a particular scene and comments associated with positive emotions. So looking for locations on Flickr that fulfill this requirement ought to produce a list of beautiful places in any city.

Quercia and co tested this idea in Boston to find beautiful locations on Flickr and then used their algorithm to find the most beautiful path between two locations. They then asked 54 people to evaluate these paths. Sure enough, the participants generally felt that the routes chosen by the algorithm were more beautiful than the shortest parts.

If you know Boston or London yourself, you can evaluate the routes chosen by the algorithms yourself by examining the maps in the paper.

Of course, there are potential problems. Some locations are less attractive at certain times of the day, for example during rush hour when traffic is heavier or at night when the character of some parts the city can change dramatically. The algorithm cannot account for these differences

Nevertheless, this is an interesting approach that has the potential to change the experience people have in interacting with the city. It’s not hard to imagine that tourist authorities might use an application like this to help visitors experience the best parts of a city on foot.

Quercia and co have a plan like that. Their next goal is to build a mobile app and test it in the wild across different cities in Europe and the U.S. Keep an eye out for it.

Topic : Corliss Review Steinbeis Technology Grou
Genre : News

tag : Shortest Route, New Algorithm, The Corliss Group Latest Tech Review

Corliss Group Tech Review: Is Google Chromecast worth its low price?

It weighs just 34 grams, is 72 x 35 x 12 mm in size, and costs only the $39: The Google Chromecast looks and feels like a USB flash drive with a glandular problem.

Cheap, easy to set up and even easier to use, there’s really nothing to dislike about the Google streaming device, except for one thing: Canadian content (which we will get to in a moment).

The Chromecast is so small that once it's plugged into an HDMI port in the back of a television set, there’s almost no indication that it's a part of your home theatre setup. Only its power cord, which can either be plugged into a wall socket or available USB port, gives a hint that it’s even there. Unlike other streaming media devices like the Apple TV or Roku 3, Google Chromecast doesn't come with a remote control, or in fact, any onboard applications or content. Everything, from setting up the device to watching a video from your personal media collection or browsing YouTube, is done through the use of apps on an Android phone or tablet, iOS device or via Google Chrome browser on a Chrome OS, Windows or Mac PC.

No matter which device you use with the Chromecast, setup is a cinch. Simply power the device, plug it into an available television HDMI port and follow the Chromecast's onscreen prompts. The device will walk you through the process of connecting it to a Wi-Fi network, pairing with your choice of source device and downloading any available firmware updates. Even with the lousy Internet speeds I suffered while testing the hardware in rural southwestern Ontario I was setup and ready to start streaming content to my Chromecast in under 10 minutes.

Sending content from your computer Chrome browser requires the download of a browser extension. Once it was installed, I was able to send content displayed in Chrome to the Chromecast with a click of my mouse. Video I purchased and rented from The Google Play store streamed smoothly, albeit at lower than HD resolutions. I was also able to access and watch movies via Netflix and YouTube just as easily, and I found that Rio, my online music streaming service of choice, worked well via Android, iOS and Chrome for Mac as well.

However, I quickly discovered that the Chromecast doesn't play well with all in-browser content: while I was able to send The Globe and Mail's website to my TV to read on the big screen, there was a noticeable second-long lag between the clicks made on my laptop to when the commands given would be displayed by the Chromecast on my TV. On the Android side of things, I found sending Netflix content, as well as video and audio stored on Nexus 7, to be a seamless experience. The same can be said for firing content over from an iPhone or an iPad, although you’ll need to download Google free Chromecast app from the iTunes App Store in order to do so.

The pain point here is the limited number of content options it provides to its Canadian users. When compared to what is available to other streaming media devices here in Canada, the content options available on a Chromecast seem pretty slim. Apple TV users in this country enjoy the largest selection of movies, TV and music to purchase or rent of any service available today. Roku users have access to hundreds of channels worth of content, in addition to Netflix and even a handful of games. Here in Canada, thanks to a lack of licensed services and content, the Chromecast can only provide access to Netflix, Google Play Video, YouTube and select content dished up from your computer browser tab. By way of contrast, in the U.S. Chromecast hardware provides users with access to such paid services as HBO Go, Amazon Prime Video and Pandora. This makes the device a much more attractive buy south of the border than it is up here. More apps and compatible services are sure to be on the way, but that doesn't help early adopters of the device.

You can argue that this lack of content can be sidestepped through VPN tunneling or downloading PLEX – a Chromecast-compatible computer program designed to collect streaming online channels and user-owned content into one interface, which can then be streamed to mobile devices or TV hardware like the Chromecast. But setting up and tweaking either of these options may be beyond the capabilities of many of the Chromecast's potential users.

The Final Verdict:

The Google Chromecast provides computer, tablet and smartphone owners an affordable, easy to use means to push Netflix, YouTube video, movies purchased or rented from the Google Play Store and music from select streaming services to their HDMI-equipped TV. Unfortunately, a lack of additional content options keep this low-cost, merely adequate device from being great.

Topic : Global Information
Genre : News

tag : Corliss Group Tech Review, Google Chromecast, low price

This is what the new reversible USB 3.1 cable looks like, Corliss Review Group

 


In December last year the technology consortium responsible for the USB standard announced that the next generation of connectors would be entirely reversible – now the first picture of the new plug has appeared online.

As expected, the new design looks pretty much identical to Apple’s Lightning connector - a proprietary standard which is also reversible and appears on the latest iPhones and iPads.

The new USB 3.1 Type-C is similar in size to the current Micro USB design used to charge most small gadgets and will break computability with current ports.

The designs are not expected to be finalized until July and it will take many months more before manufacturers start to introduce the new Type-C to their products.

This latest update to the most widely accepted connector in the tech world will offer increased bandwidths of up to 10Gbps but for most of the clearest advantage will never having to fiddle with getting our USB plugs the right way round.
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