Google street view is a handy tool to use when you need to know what that building your looking for should look like from your car. These Google cars traverse the U.S. and 30 countries taking pictures and sending back GPS data about locations around the world. Recently Google has admitted to the F.C.C. that they were in fact in violation of Federal privacy and wiretapping statues when these cars were equipped with WiFi detectors.
Google originally set out only to mark the locations of wifi devices. Recently though, for a yet explained reason, Google cars actually capture Wifi data on unencrypted Wifi connections. Google in the process capture emails, web data and other traffic from thousands of unsuspecting citizens.
Once notified Google did delete the data and reported themselves to the authorities and no further legal action has been taken but privacy watchdogs are not happy with the lack of follow up but the federal government.
For businesses this is a stark reminder of how easy it is to let data outside the network. Wifi is a handy tool but carries with it some risks when not properly configured and monitored. We recommend all our clients with Wifi secure them with at least WPA+ security or higher and all passwords on public facing routers meet complex password policies. Your firewall and routers simply cannot have the same basic passwords they must be complex and include no words in the dictionary.
Most businesses today think with anti virus and a firewall that is sufficient given they don’t have any “private” data or regulatory restrictions. Keep in mind that PCI compliance requires network security and applies to almost every company that takes credit cards.
Do you have reports confirming your networks safety?
So you have heard about Net Neutrality and don’t know enough to have an intelligent discussion about the issue. First a few resources on the subject: (Note this is a political issue and a technical one so read both sides of everything)
Net Neutraility represents the issue of the internet, or our access to the internet which not matter who your provider is will eventually rely on one or more of a small group of major wire runners in the U.S. folks like AT&T and Verizon. There is currently no regulation on the internet. This is in some ways by design, there is no regulation, no tax etc. to allow the internet to bolster the U.S. economy and allow the free market to run free. The other side of the lack of regulation coin is that in theory, though never done, AT&T and Verizon could one day decide to give preference to certain traffic for compensation. They could allow traffic to and from say the New York times go through faster than the traffic to this blog. Some argue that its Verizon’s right to do so given the costs they have experienced laying copper and fiber throughout the U.S. Others see this as an opportunity for great abuse and perhaps a real challenge to small businesses. Would facebook gotten off the ground if they could have only support 100 users because they couldn’t PAY for enough speed to be allowed to their site?
The second link about is to the proposers of the most current legislation, no not your senator, but Google. Google, a private company with Verizon are trying to pass a moderate version of a bill in order to get some protection on the books now. Note that this proposals balance point is that it curiously makes an argument that wireless net neutrality should not exist. Perhaps they are biased since they are buddies with Verizon, perhaps not.
What is important is that Net Neutrality could drastically alter our daily internet experience. The great power of the internet comes from the ability for everyone to have a voice on the same playing field. Its up to us and our government to help find the balance on this issue before an offer to an ISP gets too big to say no to.
I have to confess – I find the growing situation between Google and China to be very interesting both in terms of an ethical and business standpoint. In short, the situation is this:
In the past, the Chinese government required Google to sensor search results on topics they find objectionable. Last Monday, Google began sending Web searchers in mainland China from the China-based Google.cn to Google.com.hk based in Hong Kong where an “open” Internet is available. On Tuesday the Chinese government responded, using Internet filters to prevent results from being displayed for certain search topics. For example, searches related to pro-democracy returned errors saying the page couldn’t be displayed and in certain cases, the web browser disconnected for a short time. Clearly Google risks significant revenue by taking the stand they have, yet they’ve also likely gained quite a bit of respect from many users. In my opinion the situation is a game of “chicken” presently. The Chinese government hasn’t prohibited Google from doing business in China and Google hasn’t stopped censoring searches on the Google.cn domain. Yet, the situation is definitely tenuous. So what would you do if you were Google? Their stock dropped 1.5% this week on news that they’re effectively “thumbing” their nose at potentially the largest market. Interesting. Very Interesting.
A ton of information exists about this topic. I’ve included a few links below – silently glad that none of them are sensored…
Google services available in mainland China: http://www.google.com/prc/report.html#hl=en
General information: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100323/ap_on_hi_te/as_china_google
Google co-founder Sergey Brin urges US to act over China web censorship: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/mar/24/google-china-sergey-brin-censorship
The world is taking a break from everything this last week and watching the images coming from Haiti and I think we are all taken back. It is a great new year in 2010 and we have so much to be thankful for here in America. One of the technology innovations making a difference in this crisis is the ability to text and donate $10 to the Red Cross. So join us here at ITP and text to help:
Text HAITI to 90999 to donate 10$ to American Red Cross
Microsoft’s upcoming iteration of Office, Office 14, looks like it will have some interesting features – most prominently, the ability to operate in a browser. Though this new option was likely pushed by Google’s product, Google Apps, it does pose some interesting options for attorneys. For example, one of the reasons many firms have moved to Word from WordPerfect is to make communication with clients and other firms easier. Now, with the ability to view Word documents in a browser, the Word vs. Word Perfect issue still in debate for many law firms would be even easier to make. Certainly, it doesn’t address some of the other reasons firms utilize WordPerfect, but it does put another chink in the WordPerfect armor. Possibly the more interesting issue, however, is how word processing in a browser will change the way attorneys communicate with clients and other attorneys. Rest assured I’ll be posting more thoughts about that as we find out more about Office 14’s capabilities.
Okay, whether you’re a fan of Vista or one of Vista’s many critics, a little news about Microsoft’s next operating system is interesting reading. The new operating system will be simply named “Windows 7″ and it appears Microsoft has listened to the complaints users have pounded them with about Vista.
In short, a quick look at Windows 7 shows some expected and some unexpected changes. Here’s a quick list of some of the features of the new operating system:
• The Windows sidebar is gone, but the gadgets can still be accessed
• The Windows security center is gone (thank God!!!) though some features have been incorporated into the maintenance section of the control panel
• A function that allows greater Bluetooth functionality
• A “Sticky Notes” feature that allows you to place a sticky note anywhere on the desktop.
• Greater performance analysis tools
• The use of ribbons which were introduced in Office 2007
It is also expected that Windows 7 will be faster to boot and be more compatible with software and peripherals at launch.
Ultimately, only time will tell, but if early indicators are any sign, it appears as though Microsoft is working to eliminate some of the issues associated with Vista.
Check out the full article from Cnet here complete with some screenshots.
Okay, okay, so this isn’t directly related to legal technology, but it is interesting. Tech Republic is a great source for all things “tech” and it’s no surprise that’s exactly where I found the article. Take a look at it…just for fun if nothing else.
Microsoft announced the pricing for their new server software line, Windows Server 2008. The product is scheduled to be released in late February 2008. Eight versions will be available, though the distinction between two sets of three versions focusses on whether the product includes the new Hyper-V virtualization technology. This PC World article outlines the pricing for all versions of the product: PC World.
Although it is slated for release in the first quarter next year, as with most products, we stay away from implementing bleeding edge solutions. It’s especially important to wait awhile to ensure stability in server software as the server is the heart of your network. There were no announcements related to a Small Business version of the product, which generally trails behind the standard server releases by atl least 6-9 months.
I came across an interesting site a few days ago called “One Laptop Per Child (OLPC).” It is a charity organization whose goal is “…to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves.” OLPC strives to do this by providing very basic laptops to children in countries who would normally not have access to one. The program is set up so that an individual or company donates $200 and the OLPC organization then donates an “XO Laptop” to a child in one of the designated countries.
When I first stumbled upon the site my gut reaction was to think “Wouldn’t it be better to provide staples such as food, shelter and medicine?” The organization’s founder, Nicholas Negroponte, convincingly addresses many of these types of questions here: XOGiving.
On November 12 the xogiving site will be offering an incentive for making a donation to purchase a laptop. For a $400 donation they will send one laptop to a child in a developing country, and a second to you. The laptop is actually a pretty interesting device. It’s extremely portable and durable, has built-in long range wireless, 7.5” dual mode screen (one is ideal for reading in the sunlight) and comes pre-installed with an intuitive Linux interface (preloaded with a number of applications). The laptop is about the size of a hardcover book, so could likely be used as a type of e-book reader. Anyway – I just thought I’d pass on the information.
It’s an interesting idea, and seems like a very worthwhile charity.
Microsoft’s long awaited “Windows Home Server” has finally been released – at least as an OEM software product. It is now available for purchase from a number of online retailers. This means that the full systems shouldn’t be far behind (Windows Home Server pre-installed on various systems, including the HP MediaSmart Home Server).
The product was announced back in January of 2007, but has been in development for a couple years. The platform is Microsoft’s attempt to develop an easy-to-use media server and backup system for home networks. The initial offerings from HP include two systems with the pre-installed software – one with 500 gigabytes of storage, the other with 1 terabyte.
At its core, Windows Home Server is a shared network device that may be accessed on a home network, as well as over the Internet. This allows users to store video, pictures, music, etc. in a centralized location. In addition, it provides centralized management for remote desktop access (similar in some ways to Small Business Server). Microsoft has attempted to make the setup for sharing data over the Internet easy using its recently launched Windows Live service.
The other major selling point is the built-in backup. Although the technical documentation is not available online yet, Microsoft indicates that that the backup will be automated (to run daily by default), and will allow quick restoration of individual files and even entire systems for connected computers.
Much more information is available on Microsoft’s website at the link referenced above.