The Internet of Things

The internet of things is about connecting devices over the internet, letting them talk to us and applications. The rapidly growing network of connected objects that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. Devices can include smart fridges, smart home and smart watches. The introduction of these devices is more about the use of personal argumentation – which means less about individual devices and more about living services that people program and connect smart devices however they feel.IoT_20141023_01.jpg

Smart heating gives the user the control to turn down and up the heating remotely or turn it off even though there isn’t anyone home. Smart homes are the most readily available for consumers, from the amazon echo or the Nest thermostat there are quite a few products on the market for users to control and make their lives feel more connected. As well as this the smart fridge which would tell you when it’s out of milk or text you when an items went out of date.

Smart watches like the apple watch and other smart watched in the market are great examples of how the market has turned our wrists into a smartphone with the availability for text messages and phone calls.

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There could be some downsides to this awesome technology, though. You could seriously compromise security and privacy if these items were hacked, however, because there isn’t really that big of a market for some of these products yet you would think that hackers would ignore it. But that’s just my wishful thinking.

Think about it, a house which his fully controlled through a little device you can control. However, let’s hope that it doesn’t go down the same road as that Simpsons episode where the house goes crazy and ends up attacking the characters.

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CyberWar!

Cyber warfare is known as an internet conflict which involves politically motivated attacks on information and information systems. Each side attempts to compromise and destroy the others infrastructure, disable websites and networks, disrupt of disable essential services or steal or alter classified information. Physical weaponry, in this case, has changed and become the not so important part of welfare. Cyber warfare levels the playing field between the riches and the most technologically sophisticated nations and those without the same resources.

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Cyber warfare is used by a whole lot of different groups such as CyberCaliphate. The group has hacked multiple websites of newspapers, TV nations and Twitter accounts in the US. CyberCaliphate has successfully hacked the US central commands Twitter account and during the times they had the account in their hands they posted threatening messages to the US soldiers. The Islamic state has also claimed to have hacked into the US’s department of defence services and posted the names and addresses of the US service people that are engaged in a war against ISIS.

Another group of people who are known for Cyberwar fare is Anonymous. The group declared war on ISIS and sprung revolutions against regimes in Egypt and other nations against them. One act which was their first was to start a cyber war and take down ISIS’s social media accounts.

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In 2009 a cyber spy network going by the name of Ghostnet accessed confidential information belonging to both governmental and private organisation sin over 100 countries around the world. It was said that this network was originating from China however they denied this.

Reading up on the Cyberwar fare and the things they are capable of is quite interesting. It’s not something that you would hear about very often through the traditional news. I guess the most effective way to protect yourself against Cyberwar fare would be to secure your information and networks properly and also update your security frequently!

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Hacktivists

Hacktivists are people who gain unauthorised information or access to computer files or networks in order to further social or political ends. We all know there are people out there that would do anything to get a hold of our personal information, even out social media sites. We have to be careful to use a variety of different passwords and usernames in order to avoid our accounts being hacked.

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If you don’t already know, Myspace has been hacked and it has been said to be the largest breaches ever on social media. Yes, your old Myspace account has been hacked and has come back to haunt you. In the days of Myspace, 1464367311324180.pngpasswords were not protected very well which means that if you are sill using the same passwords on any other site today as you did for this social network your account is at risk!

Thomas White who is a security researcher known as ‘TheCthulhu’ has published the database of 427 million passwords for more than 260 million users of the Myspace social network. So right now, the passwords have been dumped on the online public domain for anyone to access. Once this information is out there it’s going to be hard to get rid off.

So moral of the story, check your accounts and make sure that your passwords are all secure. Hackers are interested in your passwords more than your account because they cause it to access anything that you have used the same password for, so that could mean your bank account or any other important account you have. Be careful!

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Social Network Revolutions

Social media has the power to unite and link people around the world. During the #Blacklivesmatter protests in America, Twitter became the platform used to unite all people from around the world to one very big topic.  Twitter was used in order to bring pressure and light on a number of shooting that had been taking place around America to unarmed, innocent black lives.
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trayvon4.jpgIn July 2013 the trial of George Zimmerman who had shot dead a 17-year old African American Trayvon Martin while he was unarmed on his way back from a convenience store was where the black lives matter hashtag was created. Using the hashtag allowed and encouraged people to speak out on twitter and other platforms about their experience and their outrage over these issues.

url-1.jpgAgain, another incident happened where 18-year old Michael Brown was shot dead by an officer in Ferguson. The officer fired 12 rounds at Brown even though he was unarmed. Again protests broke out on the day of the shooting, which started riots and a freedom ride under the black lives matter hashtag and campaign.

The movement used to unite people and inform people about the black lives matter campaign is powerful. Social media plays a very big part in these situations, where it becomes a tool that people use to find out information from as well as inform others. “Social media could serve as a source of live, raw information. It could summon people to the streets and coordinate their movements in real time

From across the world, people know about the issue and want to help the people in need in a way, and social media allows for this to happen.

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Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism is present in the everyday society through the use of the internet and mobile technologies. The basic idea of the news and how it is being presented and captured is experiencing a fundamental shift in society. Nearly 60% of people are not using Facebook as a recurring news source while magazines and newspapers struggle to keep up with the news. Many people express the idea that traditional news outlets have become slow in reporting news and in some cases have too much of an underlined agenda in their reporting.

Citizen journalism has the opportunity and the tools of modern technology and a limitless reach of the internet to create content that would probably not have been reveal without. This new system of journalism allows for independent parties to create a wide range of relevant information that can be seen as crucial to a democratic society.

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Citizen journalism can be a very powerful tool, as individuals can bring aspects of information to the forefront of a case. An example of this would be the news release of Jamaica’s constabulary communication network which indicated that a man who was shot and killed by police attacked them first. However, citizens that were witnesses to this case circulated a video of the attack that told a very different story to the one that the police were circulating. It was seen through the footage that the man had in fact been attacked and beaten by the police officers before being shot whilst lying subdued on the ground. In this case, citizen journalism was a very important aspect of evidence that revealed the truth of the encounter.

However, citizen journalism doesn’t always go as planned. During the Boston bombings, there was a search for the suspect on the website Reddit. There were unchecked facts which lead the manhunt to the wrong man who was found to be dead from suicide. The website Reddit is a valuable resource which allows users to post and aggregate content in a way that could have really helped the investigation, however, due to the wrong facts in the event found to have gone off track.

Citizen journalism is great, especially when it’s done through the right platforms and with the right information.

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Apple and Android – Does it Really Matter?

The classic iPhone vs. Android debate, the two dominant operating systems for mobile devices today. The two are basically the same at the lowest level of operating: they allow for the user to call, text, access the internet and use applications. However, there is a very clear difference between the two operating systems which I will get into.

iOS.pngThe Apple iPhones IOS operating system is a more closed or a ‘walled garden’ where users can only access applications and other software which have been accepted by Apple themselves. In doing this the IOS system only holds applications which have been reviewed by apple which can be a bit of a process. This limits the user’s control over the platform and also the types of applications that they can have on their phone.

url.jpgOn the other hand, Android is more of an open ecosystem which allows for more user flexibility. The phones software can be easily manipulated and customised by the user, which also allows the user to create and download applications when they desire. The user is able to manipulate the phone to what they want.

 

Now, I have to fess up here. I do own an iPhone and love the way that the apple ecosystem works. I like the idea of having a controlled platform as I really don’t have the need to customise my device or the software in it. The apple system just seems easier to me and it’s the system I grew up using so its like second nature. I must admit, though, I was seriously thinking of changing to an Android, only because I wanted to test out the whole system. I never got around to it though because it was a bit of a commitment plus I was worried how it would go with connecting to my MacBook and such.

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Its great to see people branching out into the Android ecosystem, I mean go for it! Even people who absolutely love the simplicity of the Apple products, good for you! But I honestly don’t understand why this has to be such a bit debate or thing. People will choose the system that they feel comfortable with which is totally okay. My parents, for example, wouldn’t be able to operate an Android because they are so used to a simple operating system and that’s all good. My point of this post is to highlight that yes, both these two operating systems do come with positives and negatives and it’s totally okay to pick whatever you feel is good for you because in the end it really doesn’t matter!

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Big data, Surveillance, Permission Control

Everybody knows about the risks that come with signing up for social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others. When we use these social media sites were given permission and invite the owners of these companies to our personal data. Sites like Facebook are well known for using our data in order to personalise advertisements and to track our movements on and offline.

Geofeedia – a controversial social media monitoring tools put together to pull social media feeds through APIs – was used to monitor Ferguson and Baltimore. Police were given access to the social media sites to user data by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in order to track the protests in Baltimore and Ferguson. The ability for individuals to access the social media sites allowed for the quick distribution of content.

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The companies involved provided data which included the locations of the users of these sites to Geofeedia, who then analysed the data and delivered surveillance information to 500 law enforcement agencies. Geofeedia shows the popularity of governments using these programs in order to monitor crime and civil unrest in countries.

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Geofeedia was discovered to have entered into agreements with the companies Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in order to gain access to the user’s data and in turn gain developer level access to information. Geofeedia was available to access the three company’s sites in order to:

  1. Facebook – Access topic feed API that let the company get a hold of posts centred around specific hashtags, places and events
  2. Instagram – Access the applications programing interface that allowed for the company to access the feeds of users and also locations
  3. Twitter – Access to search the data bases of tweets

However, after finding out how Geofeedia was using the data that was available to them the media sites restricted access when presented with the findings. The ability of a company to easily gain access to the data of these sites is worrying, but I guess as previously states signing up with the media sites means accepting the risks involved even if that means compromising your private data.

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The Long Tail Effect and Successful Businesses

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The long tail effect suggests that the internet makes it easier to distribute items and products, this will then entail a shift from the most popular products being at the head or centre of the public eye and demand to a number of small niches being increased. So overall we a shifting our focus onto a small number of specific niche markets.

The digital market – Amazon, Spotify, iTunes and Netflix – allows for an unlimited amount of choices for the public with no restraints.

Amazon is a great example of the long tail effect in action as they are one of the world’s most successful e-commerce website. Through using the theory of the long tail effect Amazon holds an advantage over other competitors which makes them the most powerful and popular sites in the world today.

Amazon holds a wide range of products, from DVD’s to CDs, games, books and general products. Through including niche products through these categories it gives amazon the ability to sell their products to a wider audience. What’s interesting about this is the fact that Amazon finds most of its money supplying items to the hundreds of niche markets compared to copies of ‘popular’ items from their best selling range.

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Other sites like Spotify and iTunes are also making money from the long tail theory as they are supplying their customers with growing and extending content. In doing this it allows for customers all around the world to access their niche markets just as simple as finding the ‘top 10 pop chart’ songs.

Netflix also involves this theory somewhat with the availability to stream movies from their site. Netflix holds quite a decent amount to DVD titles from a respectable spread of categories as well as films which may be been discontinued from other rival companies. However, Netflix doesn’t apply the long tail effect as effectively as the other digital markets that were discussed. This would be because the movies which are added to the site are somewhat restricted to viewers based on where they live in the world due to copyright and what not. In doing this, Netflix limits itself in a way and hinders its expansion. Netflix has a great opportunity to make itself one of the world’s most successful business, its possibilities are endless, however, in doing what they are doing they are shooting themselves in the foot.

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Information is Power

We live in a society where we are always available and connected. It’s important to remain on top of things that happening during the day – daily news or even family and friend’s updates on social media sites. We often forget to look at social media platforms as a business, which happens to only run because we fuel it. We become the producers of these social media sites, we help them stay alive by constantly being on them and posting things about our everyday, even things that should remain personal.

When using these sites, we give permission and invite these companies into our lives and days, we then give out our personal data, and that’s how they make their profit. The data captured gives third party marketers information which they can use to determine what advertisements you would respond to or even what your next app download would be.

A great example of this is the current Pokémon Go game, where players are encouraged to hunt down Pokémon. The app uses geolocation to generate maps and place Pokémon around them, however through doing this the data that it collects is aggregated and shared though the company for “research and analysis, demographic profiling”.

In this example, information is seen as power, and these companies like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and even Pokémon go have a whole lot of it.

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Distributed and Decentralised Networks

The internet provides forms of communication and information to everyday individuals all around the world. Communication networks such as distributed and even decentralised networks allow for connections to be made through numerous amounts of central points, which connect to one another.Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 6.35.42 PM Using these two modes of communication it can be very difficult to shut down or break the node to stop information from traveling.

Torrent file sharing is a great example of these communication networks at work. Sites like The pirate bay (TPB) do not host any local files which could be subjected to copyright laws, but do provide information about the files and way to get to them. This torrenting website uses distributed server structures that make it somewhat impossible to shut down.

In December 9 2014, TPB had their servers raided by the Swedish police, and managed to shut down their servers for the first time while a majority their main founders were convicted. However, did little to stop the site as they are still up and running today. By hosting a number of cloud providers which are located in many different countries it is impossible for a single police raid to stop this organisation. It is seen as almost impossible to shut down one decentralized or even distributed networks as the information is more than likely distributed across the other nodes or if one shuts down others are still readily available.

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