An attack on a PG&E substation located near San Jose last year sent up alarm bells in regards to security, and California Senator Jerry Hill introduced legislation that would force utility companies to submit security plans to the State Public Utilities Commission.
In the incident last year, gunshots knocked out 17 transformers, causing more than $15 million in damage, while also knocking out power in select Silicon Valley locations.
PG&E representatives described the attack as a "game-changer" for PG&E and other utility providers, bringing new attention to security. PG&E is boosting security by creating fenced-off buffer zones, trimming back vegetation and adding better intruder detection systems.
Every time you connect to the Internet, there is someone interested in stealing data about you, including your personal and banking information, and anything else they can sell or trade.
Looking back at 2013, there were an estimated 450,000 attacks that generated a record $5.9 billion in consumer loss, remaining a major threat to users, according to the RSA "2013 A Year in Review" report focused on phishing.
Cybercriminals have a vast underground in which they are able to share technologies and tools used to launch attacks. Free mass-mailing guides can be found on some of these forums, with in-depth guides available for low prices, it's even easier to launch attacks.
The top five countries targeted by phishing attacks, according to RSA: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, India, and South Africa - North America garnered 26 percent of all phishing attacks worldwide.
Security company Catbird announced it will work with Trapezoid to combine security solutions to improve security and compliance. Security companies have to wade through multiple layers of government bureaucracy for multiple industries, which creates opportunities for these types of enterprise offerings.
"Catbird's comprehensive security, compliance, and policy enforcement engine leverages Trapezoid's integrity, boundary, and trust events for real-time enforcement actions and alerts to policy violations creating mechanisms for potential remediation actions based on the integrity and trust degradation of the cloud platform that is hosting the assets Catbird is monitoring," said Robert Rounsavall, Trapezoid president and cofounder, in a press statement.
Creating working relationships continues to be a major initiative during the 2014 RSA Conference in San Francisco, with companies teaming up to defend against cyberattacks, create new solutions, and enhance customer offerings.
RSA 2014 - The RSA Conference has not surprisingly emerged into a shooting gallery for attendees, exhibitors, and executives, giving them the chance to speak out against NSA spying.
After the conversations I heard everywhere from the press room and discussion panels to the expo show floor, it's apparent that people don't enjoy the NSA snooping. It was most telling when prominent cybersecurity experts spoke out during the show.
From a panel at RSA:
"When you don't have transparency, their claims about (surveillance) being useful and stopping terrorism were BS," said Richard Clark, former cyberspace adviser to President Bush, Clinton and Obama, during a panel.
,The Sony PlayStation 4 game console is popular and it will be hard for the Microsoft Xbox One to try and catch up to its rival anytime soon. Microsoft is likely desperate to claw its way back into the console race, but there is still plenty of time for the Xbox One to make a major impact in the gaming market.
Unfortunately for the Xbox One, which isn't as graphically powerful as the PS4, the game console also is $100 - a whopping 25 percent - more expensive than the PS4. Microsoft had success with the Xbox One through the holiday shopping season in 2013, but sales have significantly dropped, with the PS4 outselling the Xbox One by a 2-to-1 ratio.
Sony has received quite a bit of praise from developers in favor of the PS4, with Grasshopper Manufacture CEO Goichi Suda recently complimenting the game console. Before him, Konami's Hideo Kojima also applauded the PS4, saying Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes will play at 60fps with full 1080p support.
Pioneer, better known as a home and car audio company, continues to dabble with the sport of cycling, unveiled a snazzy new dual-leg power meter. Power meters are used by pro cyclists and avid riders to help track power output that provides an instant look into performance and current fitness levels.
The Pioneer Power Metter uses six independent sensors that sends information wirelessly to the handlebar-mounted head unit using ANT+. The torque, force location, and force angle are calculated, with sensors located every 30 degrees of each pedal rotation.
"Passionate riders know that 'power is king' and in order to reach the next level in performance, power and efficiency must be increased," said David Bales, Pioneer Manager of New Business, in a press statement. "Our engineers, who are avid riders themselves, set out to take power measurement well beyond today's norm. Output analysis of both legs and understanding where and how power is applied will help riders elevate their game."
It's great to see Pioneer involved in cycling, even serving as a sponsor of the Team Belkin Pro Cycling Team, major team based in the Netherlands. The Shimano Ultegra configuration has a $1,550 price tag, Dura-Ace 9000 grouppo will cost $1,850, and the cycle-computer alone will be $300.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has teamed up with 3P Learning to create a unique 3D educational world that replicates real life environments that can be closely studied in the classroom.
Students will be able to study in a virtual research lab, completing quests while working through core science skills. The ability to see real-world locations in high-definition video provides a unique opportunity to show how science truly impacts the environment.
"Imagine walking beneath the dense canopy of the Daintree rainforest, understanding the forces holding up the Sydney Harbour Bridge or exploring the life found amongst the elaborate underground structures of the Jenolan Caves," said Jay Guo, CSIRO Researcher Leader Professor, in a statement.
I am a fan of seeing these type of efforts, regardless of where they are in the world, because increasing educational ability is a major effort. Most students cannot go and learn out in the field very often, but this should give them an interactive, realistic method to explore the world without actually leaving.
Following yesterday's announcement that Comcast plans to acquire Time Warner Cable in a $44.2 billion stock deal, it immediately sent tremors through the industry. Some customers have voiced displeasure to see Time Warner Cable swallowed up by Comcast, while others are a bit more receptive of a possible buyout.
As for whether or not the deal will be approved, Comcast has a few positive aspects working its direction:
"Considering the rise of OTT (over the top) services creating more instances of cord cutters, shavers and neverers, increased competition from IPTV and the eventual IPification of cable MSOs (multiple-system operator), this proposed merger might get approved by the feds," said Mukul Krishna, Frost & Sullivan Senior Global Director, in a press statement. "This is not necessarily going to create a monopoly since cable MSOs rarely compete against each other and have different territories."
There has been continued struggle in the current TV industry, with cable and satellite providers battling against "cord cutting" consumers turning to online video content.
"This is a huge deal in the world of cable television," said Jeff Kagan, industry analyst, in a press statement. "Cable TV has been going through a tough period losing customers to new competitors. This deal would have to win regulatory approval. That may not be easy, but is doable. Comcast does not compete with Time Warner Cable, so that is in their favor. It would just be a matter of selling off part of their customer base."
I am curious to see if the US government allows the deal to happen, though if Krishna is correct, then it's something that should receive regulatory approval.
There is a continued effort to better improve U.S. workforce balance, and that includes boosting domestic growth of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields in the United States.
Dr. Mayim Bialik, also known as "Amy Farrah Fowler" on The Big Bang Theory, has found a way to inspire students to potentially explore STEM fields. I think it's incredible that Bialik is a neuroscientist, graduating with a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA, and plays one on The Big Bang Theory. She's the perfect role model to not only drive STEM fields among Americans, but women - drastically outnumbered by men in tech fields - to explore very exciting, cutting-edge programs.
Instead of joining the biotech world, Bialik went to Hollywood and will have a lasting impact on improving the public image of STEM fields.
To help drive interest in STEM fields, the White House has become more active, with First Lady Michelle Obama previously saying: "If we're going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we've got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math."
Women account for half of all college-educated employees throughout the United States, but only account for 28 percent of STEM careers. There is a lot of work to be done to help drive women into STEM fields, though it's a very possible endeavor that is now more well supported by universities and corporations.
(Thanks to CraftyStiches for the first image!)
The San Francisco Bay Area is a great area for startups to benefit from incubators and co-op working office locations, with countless locations from San Francisco to San Jose. I recently stopped by the Hacker Dojo location in Mountain View, California, which is a community center for tech geeks working on projects.
I originally visited Hacker Dojo when I attended the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) meetup last week. I've attended multiple small tech meetups and think Hacker Dojo, even with a lack of parking in its current lot, is an excellent venue for events.
"What's compelling about Hacker Dojo, it is the open membership for anyone... we don't decide who is allowed, anyone can come in and be a member," said Brian Rouch, Hacker Dojo Executive Director, when speaking to me recently. "We have a lot of members in the ideation phase, start hacking or working on something, and you can see the teams grow."
There is a certain passion that can be immediately recognized throughout the Hacker Dojo building, with people busily typing away on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Others are engaged in phone conversations or conference calls, while some converse about current projects and future aspirations. It's an open work environment that consists of a co-working space, events venue, and large social area.
Hacker Dojo welcomes guests, but also encourages frequent visitors to sign up for a $100 monthly membership, which helps cover overhead (utilities, Internet bandwidth, etc.) - and has some unique perks:
"Members get the farm - 24-hour access, Internet, stocked kitchen, lots of events, electronics and robotics lab, plus other perks," Rouch added that events are a big part of the Hacker Dojo culture - and will play host to six events this Saturday alone, with 20 spread throughout the first few days of February.
The group has around 400 members, and 71 members joined in January, marking the biggest single month of new membership in Hacker Dojo history.
Moving forward, Hacker Dojo will look to continue its expansion, with planning related to additional conference spaces, extra desk space, and improved parking for the growing non-profit.
"(We) want the organization to be self-sufficient," Rouch said, wishing for a bright future of Hacker Dojo. "(We) want a new building fund, for acquiring a large building or expanding to a campus of smaller buildings for Hacker Dojo."
Hacker Dojo is available 24/7 for members, and guest hours are from 8:00AM to 10:00PM every day.
I look forward to visiting again! (Hello Katy - keep up the great work!)
(Images from Wiki)