Google Offers Up its Global Cloud-Based Database Technology

Google’s Spanner, developed a decade ago, created a way to store information across millions of machines in a multitude of data centers around the world. Despite its global reach, Spanner behaves as if it operates in a single location, meaning it can reliably replicate and change data without contradicting actions taken at a different location, and retrieve copies if one of the centers goes down. Since its creation, Spanner has become the foundation for 2,000 Google services including Gmail and AdWords. Now, Google plans to unveil Spanner to everyone as a cloud computing service. Continue reading Google Offers Up its Global Cloud-Based Database Technology

Chinese Company Looks to Buy U.S. Money-Transfer Provider

Ant Financial Services Group, China’s largest online-payments company, has announced an $880 million deal to acquire Dallas-based money-transfer provider MoneyGram International. Ant Financial split off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2011 and is controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma. “With the deal, Ant Financial would gain a large footprint and a brand name in the U.S. and expand its global money-transfer business, ultimately bringing it into closer competition with PayPal” and others, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, the deal could be scrutinized by the new presidential administration as global competition is being called into question, despite Donald Trump’s recent discussions with Ma to help create jobs. Continue reading Chinese Company Looks to Buy U.S. Money-Transfer Provider

Cisco Systems Plans $3.7 Billion Acquisition of AppDynamics

As part of its push to ramp up software offerings for enterprise customers, Cisco Systems is purchasing software maker AppDynamics Inc. for a premium $3.7 billion, just as the company was about to go public. AppDynamics software helps companies — including airlines, banks and retailers — monitor their applications’ performance and address any potential problems across cloud services offered by Google, IBM and others. The startup was founded by engineer Jyoti Bansal in 2008. Continue reading Cisco Systems Plans $3.7 Billion Acquisition of AppDynamics

International Law Enforcement Takes Down Avalanche Botnet

An international team of law enforcement agencies and security firms just took down “Avalanche,” a botnet that has been engaged in phishing attacks and at least 17 different malware families since at least late 2009. The team took offline more than 221 servers and more than 800,000 domain names used by Avalanche, and conducted searches and arrests in five countries, according to a statement released by the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice. Avalanche malware impacted victims in over 180 countries. Continue reading International Law Enforcement Takes Down Avalanche Botnet

Harder to Trace Than Bitcoin, Zcash Virtual Currency Debuts

Zcash is the latest in virtual currency, designed by academics with advanced cryptography to be untraceable. After only a few days on the market, Zcash is soaring in popularity, with investors paying over $1,000 for a single unit. The company, led by developer Zooko Wilcox, has already received $3 million from several Silicon Valley venture capitalists as well as the support of computer scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and privacy advocates. Continue reading Harder to Trace Than Bitcoin, Zcash Virtual Currency Debuts

Consortium Unveils Blockchain Platform for Financial Services

More than 70 of the world’s biggest financial institutions publicly released Corda, a blockchain platform that may become an industry standard. R3, a New York-based financial tech company, created a consortium that is behind Corda. Blockchain, which evolved from the digital currency Bitcoin, is similarly a digital means of replacing the use of hard currency with a Web-based transaction system. Via a “shared record” of data in a secure network, Blockchain avoids the need for third-party verification. Continue reading Consortium Unveils Blockchain Platform for Financial Services

Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Uber Technologies, MasterCard and the Alabama Department of Revenue are among the handful of companies and government agencies beginning to use selfies, rather than passwords, as proof of identity. Smartphone cameras take better quality photos than before and facial recognition software is more accessible and affordable, which makes this a new option. But some experts in cybercrime aren’t as sanguine, worried that this way of proving identity is riddled with both security and privacy issues. Continue reading Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Akamai: Hackers Are Using Smart Devices to Attack Websites

New research from Akamai Technologies reveals that hackers are remotely taking over DVRs, satellite antennas and networking devices to steal massive numbers of login credentials. The company says that, in recent months, hackers have plundered as many as two million so-called smart devices in “credential stuffing campaigns,” which means they test whether the compromised user names and passwords can access other websites. Among the devices hacked are Ruckus Wireless Wi-Fi hot spots from Brocade Communications. Continue reading Akamai: Hackers Are Using Smart Devices to Attack Websites

Cloud Services Spending to Reach $195 Billion in Four Years

International Data Corporation (IDC) projects that global revenue from public cloud services will surpass $195 billion by 2020, more than doubling this year’s forecast of $96.5 billion. The new figures, part of IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide, represent a compound annual growth rate of 20.4 percent over 2015-2020. Also, IDC expects that revenue from Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service will increase at a faster rate than revenue from Software as a Service. Media, telecom and retail will experience the fastest revenue growth. Continue reading Cloud Services Spending to Reach $195 Billion in Four Years

IBM to Debut Blockchain for Financial Unit Dispute Resolution

As soon as September, IBM will unveil a real-world use of blockchain, the online ledger that records peer-to-peer bitcoin transactions. Since IBM will be one of the largest organizations ever to apply bitcoin to actual business transactions, the move also goes far in validating the nascent cryptocurrency. Currently, IBM Global Financing has $100 million in capital tied up, and the move to blockchain is expected to free up some of it. Blockchain, by removing the middleman, is intended to make financial dealings more efficient. Continue reading IBM to Debut Blockchain for Financial Unit Dispute Resolution

Consumers Report Financial Data Breaches, Still Trust Banks

According to a new Accenture report, 23 percent of consumers claim their financial data has been breached at least once in the past two years. Interestingly, most remain willing to share their data if it means better service. “About 63 percent of respondents are willing to give their bank direct access to personal information,” reports HousingWire. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions recently called on Congress to combat hacking with legislation that would create stricter standards for retail businesses. Accenture surveyed 4,013 bank customers in North America — 70 percent in the U.S. and 30 percent in Canada. Continue reading Consumers Report Financial Data Breaches, Still Trust Banks

Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Amazon’s Echo, Dot and Tap smart speakers have started to attract the attention of developers interested in adding so-called skills to Alexa, the speakers’ voice-computing platform. Amazon reports that Alexa now has 1,000 skills, an explosion since Alexa’s skills numbered 130 apps in January. Echo debuted last June, when Amazon offered it by invite; now Amazon has brought Alexa to its Fire TV platform and third party hardware manufacturers have also brought Alexa to other connected devices. Continue reading Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Wall Street Firms Gather to Discuss Blockchain, Digital Dollars

In a private meeting with no media in attendance, more than 100 executives from some of the world’s largest financial institutions met at NASDAQ’s New York City office. They gathered to delve deeper into the promise of blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, which became active in 2009. These financial institutions have been wary of Bitcoin, because users are anonymous and can engage in money-laundering and other banking violations. What they looked at was digital U.S. dollars, a “fiat currency” that avoids those risks. Continue reading Wall Street Firms Gather to Discuss Blockchain, Digital Dollars

Wells Fargo Bets on Biometric Security to Replace Passwords

If Wells Fargo is right, the traditional password will be gone in five years. To prepare, the company has been mentoring startup EyeVerify in an accelerator program since 2014. This July, Wells Fargo will debut EyeVerify’s software to corporate clients. Those executives authorized to use commercial bank accounts will be able to use their iPhone camera to take a selfie, and the Eyeprint ID software built into the bank’s mobile app will read their eyes’ veins and other markers to match with a stored template. Continue reading Wells Fargo Bets on Biometric Security to Replace Passwords

Bitcoin Rival Ethereum Offers Online Markets, Smart Contracts

Although other alternative currencies have tried to gain traction as Bitcoin struggles with internal divisions, none have succeeded in doing so — until now. A rival virtual currency, Ethereum, has gained the interest of a wide range of finance and technology behemoths, including JPMorgan, Chase, Microsoft and IBM. As a result, its value has shot up 1,000 percent over the last three months. Built on a blockchain in which every transaction is publicly recorded as is Bitcoin, Ethereum promises to do more. Continue reading Bitcoin Rival Ethereum Offers Online Markets, Smart Contracts

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