This week’s headline story: Technology is Key in Fighting Ebola
The Ebola scare may turn out to be one of health care technology’s important trial runs, given the sheer number of apps, mapping tools, collaboration platforms and even robots that have been recruited for duty during the six-week-old crisis. Among the key systems called into play is our electronic healthcare record system – or EHR system, a core technology of the Obama administration’s plan to set up a data-driven health care system. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT established a Public Health Electronic Records Vendors Collaboration Initiative, which the agencies have asked to adapt the EHR system as a profiling tool for detecting Ebola carriers. The CDC is working to implement an algorithm and checklist into the EHR system to evaluate patients for Ebola. Another CDC system, called the Epi Info viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) application is helping to locate people exposed to the deadly virus in a faster way.
Microsoft Corp. said it would provide free cloud computing and research applications to qualified medical researchers working on the Ebola virus. Cloud technology could also act as a platform for integrating tracking and virus mapping applications now emerging to help disease experts anticipate the path of a more serious Ebola outbreak in the United States.
In August, Flowminder, a Swedish firm, showed an application using big data to track Ebola. Using 2013 cell phone records from Senegal, the program was able to overlay past Ebola outbreaks on Senegalese traffic patterns to show the likely growth and direction of the virus in that country.
Exotic technologies including robots are also being trained to fight Ebola. A White House Office of Science and Technology workshop is planned next month to discuss how machines could help during health emergencies, including decontaminating rooms and moving supplies.
in other tech news…
- Own Your Own Hoverboard for $10,000 [NewsFactor]
Fans of the “Back to the Future” films can relax: the hoverboard is finally here. First seen in 1989’s “Back to the Future Part II” when Marty McFly travels into the future, the hoverboard has finally made its real-world debut. Just like the movies predicted, it will be available by 2015. The catch? The real hoverboard costs $10,000 and requires a special non-ferromagnetic conducting surface on which to hover.
and in Information Security news this week..
- Staples Investigating Possible Data Breach [NewsFactor]
It looks as though Staples is the next big retailer to announce a data breach. Krebs on Security has reported that multiple banks have identified a pattern of credit and debit card fraud that suggested several Staples stores in the Northeastern United States were hit.
- Backoff Malware Is Spreading in Retail Systems [NewsFactor]
A new report from enterprise security firm Damballa’s, advises businesses to just assume that they are hacked. The report states hat with enterprises now averaging more than three dozen infected IT devices daily and attacks by point-of-sale (POS) malware like Backoff rising by double digits, companies today need to “operate under the assumption they are in a state of continuous breach.” The best response is for businesses to adopt a mindset of ‘continuous response,’ the report concluded. “Assume you will be compromised and be ready to remediate.”
- A Physical Key to Your Google Account [TechReview]
Google Chrome Now Allows Use of USB Security Key [NewsFactor]
Google is offering security-minded individuals an even higher level of security than its 2-step authentication that double checks your identity with a text message to your cell phone. Now you can get a USB Security Key to hang on your key chain. Plug the key fob into your USB drive to convince Google that you are who you say you are.
- Chinese Authorities Hack Apple’s China iCloud [NewsFactor]
Greatfire.org, a site that works to bring transparency to the Great Firewall of China, is reporting that Chinese authorities are staging man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks on Apple’s iCloud in China. The site previously reported MITM attacks on Google and Github, and broke the news about a recent attack on Yahoo. But the watchdog said the attack on Apple’s iCloud is different than all the rest.“This is clearly a malicious attack on Apple in an effort to gain access to usernames and passwords and consequently all data stored on iCloud such as iMessages, photos, contacts, etc.,” Greatfire reported. “Unlike the recent attack on Google, this attack is nationwide and coincides with Apple’s launch of the iPhone 6 in China.
and in Tech Industry news…
- Will Firms Flock to Facebook Chat Rooms? [NewsFactor]
Facebook is bringing back the chat room. A new Facebook feature dubbed Rooms allows Facebookians to chat with like-minded people in an anonymous fashion.
- Zuckerberg Talks His Way Into Chinese Hearts and Minds [Ecommerce]
Mark Zuckerberg went on stage at Tsinghua University in Beijing Wednesday for a 30-minute Q&A session. The Facebook CEO, delighted the audience when he made his introductory remarks in Mandarin, and astounded them when he continued through the entire interview speaking Mandarin. Zuckerberg has apparently been studying the language intensely in preparation for this surprise and perhaps to win good karma in the world’s fastest growing economy.
- Why Google wants to replace Gmail [Computerworld]
Google has a new email app named Inbox. The app allows you to more easily organize email, and set messages aside for later. Google says that Inbox is built on everything it learned from Gmail. It’s a fresh start that goes beyond email to help you get back to what matters. Inbox is currently available by invite only.
- Some Apple Pay Users Get Double-Billing and Double-Talk [Ecommerce Times]
Apple pay has launched! Apple Pay is the new service from Apple that allows iPhone 6 users to store credit card information on their device and pay for products using tap-to-pay terminals in stores, or via apps when shopping online. Unfortunately, the launch was not without issue. Shortly after the launch, some eager early users were unsettled to see duplicate charges on their accounts. Because one of Apple Pay’s security features is that it keeps no transaction records, customers found themselves trying to convince their banks they were not responsible for the duplicate charges without being able to produce any paperwork or backup data. To make matters worse, when questioned about the duplicate payments, banks said, “Call Apple,” and Apple said, “Call your bank.”
- Amazon’s Cold Fire Phone Inflames Investors [Ecommerce Times]
Amazon’s having a relatively difficult year. The company posted a net loss of US$437 million for the third quarter, causing its shares to drop 10 percent on Friday. Some of the loss is due to the poor sales of its new Fire phone. CEO Jeff Bezos is keeping an upbeat outlook encouraging share holders to focus on the upcoming holiday shopping season.
- Ello Raises $5.5M with Its ‘Facebook Is Evil’ Positioning [Newsfactor]
Ello, the new social network that promises not to abuse your data, has quickly gained widespread publicity and a fast-growing number of adherents. Now armed with $5.5 million in new funding, and driven by a binding manifesto declaring it will never make money by selling ads or user data — the Vermont-based startup is preparing to take its anti-Facebook ethos to even greater heights.
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