Monthly Archives: November 2016

Chinese Firms Suffering From Increase in Cyber Attacks

cyber-crimeOver the last two years, Chinese companies have experienced a rapidly increasing number of cyber attacks. One of the most vulnerable areas for these attacks is thought to be technology that connects devices in Internet-enabled homes.

In an increasingly digital age, it only makes sense that more and more crimes would be committed digitally, but the numbers in China are high enough to cause a lot of concern. Between 2014 and 2016, companies in mainland China experienced a 969% increase in cyber attacks. The average number of daily attacks on Chinese companies was upwards of seven in some instances.

Despite China’s growing number of cyber attacks, the global average dropped three percent in the same time period, and 30% since 2015.

Experts are saying that China’s new additions to domestic and industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technology may have something to do with the rapidly growing number of attacks. Marin Ivezic, a partner on cyber security at PwC in Hong Kong, said that IoT technology all around has “not paid attention to cyber security.”

Without attention paid to cyber security, devices like webcams and automated home systems can easily be hacked and transformed into “zombies” that can then perform cyber attacks on larger companies.

However, the companies being attacked haven’t increased their cyber security budgets. In fact, a 2016 survey of Chinese companies revealed that cyber security budgets experienced a 7.6% drop in budget from 2015.

Ivezic said that the drop in cyber security budgets is most likely a reflection of China’s economy. The nation’s economy has slowed as a result of national debt and other financial factors in the industrial community.

Reports have also revealed that bringing personal devices to work may be partially responsible for the increase in internally occurring cyber attacks. Because people bring private technology to work, the companies aren’t able to implement the same security measures, leaving them wide open for attack.

Approximately 87% of small businesses reported security breaches in 2012, but nothing can quite compare to the sheer volume of breaches that Chinese companies have seen in the last two years.

Avionic Startup Releases Plans for New Supersonic Passenger Jet

Currently, there are more than 3 million people flying commercially every day. However, if Sir Richard Branson gets his way, that number may increase.

Photo: Boom Technology

Photo: Boom Technology

Branson recently announced that he’s backing the American aviation startup Boom Technology. He hopes to pioneer the first supersonic jet available for public use since the Concorde, which was retired by British Airways back in 2003. Ever since, Branson has been trying to develop a way to get passengers to fly at supersonic speeds.

Boom Technology’s supersonic jet, XB-1 demonstrator, looks similar to a typical two-seater passenger jet. But, it promises three and a half hour flights between London and New York City, a trip that would typically take around six to seven hours.

How much would it cost? According to Branson, an affordable $5,000 for a round trip ticket.

Branson believes new developments in technology and cheaper material costs will be beneficial and credits Concorde’s failure to high fabrication costs.

The model, dubbed the Baby Boom, is described on Boom Technology’s website as “the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet and the fastest civil aircraft ever made

.” It is expected to make its first passenger flight around this time next year.

Boom Technology also released more exciting details about the development of their full-size passenger plane. It will be ready by 2020 and will be able to seat up to 55 passengers. Each seat will be equipped with its own personal window, overhead baggage storage, and aisle access.

The plane will be manufactured in part by Virgin Galactic, leading avionics maker Honeywell, and engine manufacturer General Electric.

The plane’s creators hope that they will be able to entice passengers to choose their fleet simply for the convenience and that they’ll be willing to pay a premium price for a faster speed. They predict their planes will be able to travel 2.6 times faster than traditional commercial airplanes.

The Traditional Nativity Scene Just Got a 21st Century Update

nativityChristmas is traditionally associated with presents, Santa, carols and beautifully lit Christmas trees and other decorations. One of the most classic decorations associated with the holiday is the nativity scene. One retailer loved this scene so much that they thought it could use a good 21st century update.

Modern Nativity has recently released the “Hipster Nativity Set” on its website, and shoppers far and wide are sharing the link to this quirky take on a traditionally religious scene.
The product description reads, “A lot has changed in the last 2,000 years … If you love Amazon Prime, and have no idea what frankincense and myrrh are, this is the Nativity set for you.”

Not surprisingly, millennials in particular have gotten a kick out of this item. In truth, 50% of millennials report browsing online for items that they don’t necessarily plan on purchasing. While this might not be a necessity, per se, it’s certainly a novelty that a fair few have considered buying.

Although with a price tag of $129.99, it may not be the most cost effective gift for the holiday season.

The website certainly goes all out in promoting the product. No detail was left out of the parody scene: the traditional cow and sheep, a shepherd, Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, and the three wise men. Yet every piece there features a crazy twist.

The cow is eating out of a trough labeled “gluten-free feed” and sports a “100% organic” brand on its flank. The sheep, meanwhile, is clothed in an ironic patterned sweater and placed next to the shepherd, who only has eyes for his iPad.

Joseph and Mary are posing with baby Jesus for a selfie, sure to go on Instagram. As the product description states, “It wouldn’t be a modern day birth if at least one person wasn’t putting it on Instagram.”

Finally, the three wise men have arrived on noble Segways, bearing their gifts for the child in the form of Amazon Prime boxes. Maybe frankincense is eligible for Prime shipping?

As the final touch, the stable itself even has solar panels on the roof. It may not be a traditional nativity scene, but it’s definitely been entertaining the masses this holiday shopping season.

Domino’s Testing Drone Delivery Systems in New Zealand

Businesses have been taking advantage of the sky for decades. In the early 1920s, planes began trailing banner advertisements for companies and we’ve certainly come a long way since then, although aerial messages are still a popular form of advertising. Today, our world is on the verge of the drone being just as common as the bird.

This November, in Whangaparaoa, New Zealand, Domino’s Pizza has been testing its drone delivery system, which could soon be a popular form of delivery across the world.

“Part of our internal process is our project 3-10, which is where the customer can pick up an order within three minutes, and a pizza is delivered within 10 minutes still fresh and hot,” said Scott Bush, general manager of New Zealand’s Domino’s. “With our partnership with Flirtey, it is going to cut down times even further where we can anticipate drone deliveries within seven to eight minutes in the future.”

Flirtey, a drone delivery startup company, designed the drone-based unmanned delivery system. Using a GPS program and drone pilot, some delivery tests took only two to three minutes to deliver a fully made pizza.

According to UPI, Domino’s is planning to use its drone delivery program in Belgium, France, Australia, Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Flirtey plans on addressing the U.S. drone market and recently relocated its originally New Zealand-based headquarters to Reno, Nevada. After receiving permission from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the drone company has since been testing itself by attempting to deliver medical supplies to rural areas in Virginia and off the coast of New Jersey.

Quartz reports that the FAA released a new set of regulations in June that govern the way drones are used in the U.S. for commercial purposes. However, the rules do not allow for flights beyond the line of sight of the pilot controlling the done, which means delivery programs could be an issue unless the destination is in close proximity to the pilot. Flirtey and other commercial businesses are hoping the FAA will amend its rules in the near future.

Mounting Evidence Reveals Wisdom Teeth Removal May Not Always be Necessary

Dental instruments and tools in a dentists officeWhile it’s common for adults to have their wisdom teeth removed, mounting evidence now suggests that the painful introduction to adulthood may not be necessary in a lot of cases.

The most commonly given reasons for removing wisdom teeth are that there’s only room in the mouth for 28 teeth and the possibility of future medical issues. However, an increasing number of experts are beginning to question the validity of many of these surgeries.

Some wisdom teeth removal procedures are very necessary, especially in instances where the teeth are already on the cusp of causing medical issues. However, many individuals don’t experience any issues at all.

The cases that researchers question are those in which the wisdom teeth are impacted but otherwise completely healthy.

As a result of similar evidence compiled in 1998, the UK stopped routinely removing wisdom teeth without extremely valid reasons to do so.

Despite that, routine wisdom teeth removal remains a standard procedure in places like the U.S. and Australia.

“Everybody is at risk for appendicitis, but do you take out everyone’s appendix?” Greg J. Huang, chairman of orthodontics at the University of Washington said in an interview with The New York Times.

The answer to his question is no, but on the off chance that you have wisdom teeth removed and keep them, there’s a new trend sweeping the world.

A woman from the Netherlands has started making jewelry from teeth, polishing them into pearl-like stones for her pieces.

Lucie Majerus is spearheading a project called Human Ivory, which showcases jewelry she’s made out of — you guessed it — her own teeth.

Majerus claims that rather than stealing from other species, we should be able to create beauty from our own bodies. She started with her own pulled wisdom teeth.

After finding success with her own teeth, Majerus began asking dentists and friends to donate their pulled teeth for pieces such as rings, earrings, pendants, and even cufflinks.

While many experts may agree that having wisdom teeth pulled is often an unnecessary procedure, projects like Majerus’s give those with extracted teeth an opportunity to repurpose them.

Workplace Injuries Continue to Decrease As a Part of 13-Year Trend

Workplace injuries are a major problem and can result in permanent injury and the loss of working ability. In 2013, workers missed an average of eight days of work because of workplace injuries. But according to a new survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational injuries and illnesses are on the decline, and have actually been trending downward for the last 13 years.Concept of construction and design. 3d render of blueprints and

In 2015, private employers reported about 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). There were three reported cases of injuries per every 100 full-time workers, the lowest recorded rate since 2002.

“We are encouraged to see the significant decline in worker injury and illness rates,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels. “This is the result of the relentless efforts of employers, unions, worker advocates, occupational safety and health professionals, and federal and state government agencies ensuring that worker safety and health remains a top priority every day.”

OSHA says that they will continue to work to drive the rate down — despite the progress made, workplace injuries still number in the millions.

OSHA, which was created more than 40 years ago, has recently shifted to focus more on reporting. The agency says that it is concerned that employers under-report incidents, and that employees are afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation.

Indeed, currently OSHA’s record-keeping rule — which includes anti-retaliation provisions in regards to safety incentive programs and post-incident drug testing — is being contested in federal courts by business groups.

But there is no doubt that the overall trend is positive. Most employers want to comply with safety standards, for the benefit of their reputation and the well-being of their workforce.

$30 Million Lawsuit Brought Against Amazon for Selling Dangerous Hoverboard

amazonA hoverboard, also known as a self-balancing electric scooter or a two-wheeled electronic moving board, has risen in popularity around the world over the past year. However, recent stories show that these boards aren’t as safe as some manufacturers make them out to be.

Take the Fox family from Nashville, Tennessee. They have recently announced their plans to sue retailer giant Amazon for damages incurred when their hoverboard, which was bought on their site, caught fire and ruined their $1 million home.

According to their lawyer, Steve Anderson, of the Nashville law firm Anderson & Reynolds PLC, the Foxes believe Amazon knowingly sold the dangerous product to its customers.

“The Foxes contend that Amazon and its various subsidiaries had information about the danger of this product well in advance of the Jan. 9 fire, and on top of that, they had notice, they should have known the product was being misrepresented on their website, Anderson explains to USA Today.

The lawsuit alleges that the Foxes thought they were purchasing a hoverboard made with Samsung lithium iron battery, but were instead provided with a counterfeit, dangerous product from an unnamed organization. After months of investigation, Anderson and his colleagues are still unable to find the manufacturer of this product. All leads point to a sham online hoverboard retailer, W-Deals, which is registered to an apartment in New York City.

Residents at the apartment have not responded to requests from lawyers in the case.

All in all, the lawsuit named 10 defendants, including Amazon and its retailers on their site. A representative for Amazon declined making a statement, saying their company does not speak on matters of pending cases.

The Foxes are asking for $30 million in damages resulting from the fire, as their entire home and all belongings were destroyed. They are also asking for the jury to consider additional financial penalties, citing emotional distress.

UNM Study Shows it Costs Less to House the Homeless Than It Does to Keep Them on the Streets

The University of New Mexico Institute for Social Research (ISR) released a new study showing various economic benefits to housing the homeless population.

The study takes a look at the past and current economic impact of homelessness and shows how it actually costs much less to house the homeless than keep them unprotected on the streets.

“From an economic development standpoint, it is creating a cost savings for taxpayers,” said Breanna Anderson, communications director for the Heading Home Initiative, a program that is expanding resources to house chronically homeless people. “Since the study has proven that it’s almost 32% cheaper to house someone than it is to leave them on the streets.”

This study comes after Forbes released a statement saying that since the population growth continues to significantly rise, roughly 1.5 million new housing units will need to be build each year to accommodate everyone. The homeless, if cities adopt this new UNM recommendation, could soon be part of those plans.

According to the Daily Lobo, researchers spent roughly three years with 95 applicants alongside Heading Home. The plan was to find out exactly how much each participant cost through social and behavioral services before enrolling in the heading home program. The study concluded that for every one dollar spent, the program earned $1.78 in benefits.

“Participants consent to allow us to get information from the county jail, any hospitals, ambulance services, arrest data from APD, and the county sheriff and information from all the shelters that they could have been to,” said ISR Researcher Paul Guerin. “We can also get information from substance abuse treatment centers and really any other place we can think of that they might have been for services that cost money.”

Phys reports that the study determined, on average, that roughly $14,700 per person is saved for those enrolled in Heading Home’s program.

“This program saves money,” Guerin added. It costs less to keep someone housed than to keep them homeless. That should be sufficient information to inform local government that this works.”

New Website to Boost Online Marketing for Women-Owned Businesses

woman-at-workThe women’s rights advocates of ChooseWomen.org are planning to launch a website this month for consumers looking to support women-owned businesses across the globe.

The website will allow users to search for a business by zip code or product. So far, more than 70 retailers have chosen to participate, including fashion brands like Coach, Nasty Gal, and Cynthia Rowley.

A percentage of each sale on the website will go towards giving microloans to impoverished women so that they can start their own businesses. The founder of the site, Wendy Diamond, said that she was inspired to launch the initiative after seeing the success of the Adelante Foundation in Honduras, which also provides microloans to aspiring female entrepreneurs.

“I saw firsthand how 90% of the money earned by these women is used to educate their children and provide for their families – bettering the overall community,” said Diamond.

“Women worldwide have historically been underpaid, undervalued, underrepresented and underfunded … and still are,” Diamond noted.

She is also the founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, which is on November 19. Not only is Diamond striving to break through the proverbial glass ceiling, but she is also focused on simply spreading awareness. Though most people have a vague understanding of the obstacles women face, few realize just how great the gender gap really is when it comes to income and positions of power within the workforce.

In reality, women hold less than five percent of CEO positions and 19.2% of Board seats in S&P 500 companies. More than 9.4 million U.S. firms are owned by women, companies with women on their boards are 30% more profitable, yet only seven percent of venture dollars go towards women-owned businesses.

“When you look at the numbers, it all starts making sense that we need to really empower women,” said Diamond.
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Because 80% of consumers report doing “a lot” of research before making a purchasing decision, the ChooseWomen.org website should successfully act as a strong marketing initiative for participating businesses.

As many as 60% of marketing professionals say that “blog content creation” is one of their top priorities. Blogs are necessary for a successful SEO strategy, but having their brand advertised, recommended, and sold on another reputable website, will certainly boost lead generation and conversion for these companies as well.

UC Regents File Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Medical Corporations

uc-regentsIn the last 20 years, patent lawsuits have seen an increase from 500 to nearly 3,000 annually, and medical organizations are no exception to the numbers. Recently, the UC Board of Regents filed a lawsuit against St. Jude Medical and Boston Scientific Corporation for patent infringement.

UC alleged that the two organizations had made use of various medical technologies without permission from the regents, who own their patents.

Micheal Lesh, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco, invented a piece of equipment as well as a method that helps prevent atrial fibrillation, which happens when irregular electrical impulses in the heart cause poor blood flow and erratic heart beats.

The patents, one acquired in 2000 and the other in 2003, were specifically for developing a circumferential conduction block, which isolates electronic pulses from the pulmonary vein to the left atrium in the heart.

Atrial fibrillation, the disorder Lesh was aiming to prevent with his technologies, affects over 6.1 million Americans every year.

Lesh was granted patents for both pieces of technology under the name of the regents.

According to the lawsuits filed, the regents alleged that the use of their technology “induces others to infringe” on their patents. The lawsuit also stated that both companies under fire were well aware of the patents’ existence and even supported them with live demonstrations of the technology.

St. Jude responded to UC’s initial letter on June 13. Their letter stated that the regents “wrongfully asserted that it was not promoting any SJM devices for use in a manner that infringes the asserted patents.”

The lawsuit may seem sudden to many, but according to a 2012 article from the Daily Californian, this type of behavior isn’t unusual for the university.

The article recalls that in 2012, UC sued organizations such as Facebook, Wal-Mart, and even Disney.

Greg Aharonian, editor of the Internet Patent News Service, said that patent lawsuits like the one UC is filing currently have the potential to bring in a lot of money for research institutions.

“These kinds of cases are in the tens [to] hundreds of millions, so it’s a worthwhile gamble,” he added.