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Do you need a blockchain

Blockchain technology is set to have a profound impact on a wide variety of industries, ranging from capital markets to the music business. While some use cases may seem obvious, the technology is still surrounded by its fair share of hype and uncertainty. As a manager, how should you approach the subject, and when should you put your money where your mouth is and actively aim to implement blockchain technology?

According to Juniper Research, six of 10 large corporations are either actively considering or in the process of deploying blockchain technology. Amongst companies that have reached the Proof of Concept stage, two-thirds (66 percent) expected blockchain to be integrated into their systems by the end of 2018.  The research claimed that those companies that would benefit most from blockchain include those with the need for (1) transparency in transactions, (2) current dependence legacy storage systems and (3) a high volume of transmitted information.

Looking at the reasons for implementing blockchain, there is an inherent risk that managers eager to explore new technologies jump to conclusions without exploring alternative options. According to the research, systemic change rather than technological may provide both better and cheaper solutions to the issue at hand.

For many corporations, the go-to approach to investigate potential use cases for blockchain is to look for inefficiencies in current processes.This approach is guaranteed to provide some results, but often the solution is to truly re-design legacy processes to fit a digital world rather than exploring new and unknown technologies.

One reason why blockchain often emerges as an answer to many problems is that it is easy to imagine high-level use cases of blockchain technology. However, as we venture under the surface of such use cases, applying blockchain technology to a known problem is all too often a theoretical solution.

If we look at it, blockchain in its simplest form is an alternative to the traditional database. Blockchain differs from a database in many ways, but the most significant exception is the decentralized nature of blockchain. While a database requires a central authority to maintain and manage data, blockchain offers a decentralized approach to storage and verification of data. However, this feature comes at a cost. Blockchain

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Centrify gives states a deal on identity management software to secure midterm elections

To secure U.S. election systems from the very real threat of targeted cyberattacks, states might need to reframe their security practices to look more like they would in a tightly-controlled corporate environment.

To that end, Centrify, an enterprise cloud-based identity management company, is extending its security offerings to help states cover their bases as part of a “Secure the Vote” initiative. The company is encouraging state and local election boards to employ its services for basic security measures like multi-factor authentication and user privilege management — two easy steps that could thwart potential attacks. To coordinate with states, Centrify is working with the Department of Homeland Security on the budget and procurement processes as states begin to work more closely with the agency on the challenge of election security.

In a conversation with TechCrunch, Centrify CEO Tom Kemp emphasized that states could bolster election security considerably by even undertaking the most basic safety measures.

“There’s some low-hanging fruit that can be done relatively quickly,” Kemp told TechCrunch, noting that this level of precaution would only take “a couple weeks of implementation work.”

As Kemp notes, the hackers targeting state election systems generally try to compromise admin-level accounts with broad system access. Multi-factor authentication requires an external confirmation of user identity in order to log into a system and is widely considered one of the more basic and most robust cybersecurity precautions for individuals and organizations alike. Centrify eschews the “trust but verify” approach, opting instead for a zero-trust security model that verifies user identity at all levels.

State and local election boards can work with Centrify to get free access to the company’s services for eight months, though they’ll need to sign up for an annual plan to get the deal. The company will work with those groups to deploy its services, with discounted on-site rates. Because the company is already registered in the federal procurement system, states have one less hurdle to overcome if they choose to work with Centrify while taking advantage of federal assistance seeking to bolster state election security. According to a federal contractor search, Centrify’s federal contracts have included work with the U.S. Navy and the National Instit

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Russia’s game of Telegram whack-a-mole grows to 19M blocked IPs hitting Twitch Spotify and more

As the messaging app Telegram continues to try to evade Russian authorities by switching up its IP addresses, Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) has continued its game of whack-a-mole to try to lock it down by knocking out complete swathes of IP address. The resulting chase how now ballooned to nearly 19 million IP addresses at the time of writing, as tracked by unofficial RKN observer RKNSHOWTIME (updated on a Telegram channel with stats accessible on the web via Phil Kulin’s site).

As a result, there have been a number of high-profile services also knocked oput in the crossfire, with people in Russia reporting dozens of sites affected including Twitch, Slack, Soundcloud, Viber, Spotify, Fifa, Nintendo, as well as Amazon and Google. (A full list of nearly forty addresses is listed below.)

What’s notable is that Google and Amazon themselves seem still not to be buckling under pressure. As we reported earlier this week, a similar — but far smaller — instance happened in the case of Zello, which had also devised a technique to hop around IP addresses when its own IP addresses were shut down by Russian regulators.

Zello’s circumventing lasted for nearly a year, until it seemed the regulator started to use a more blanket approach of blocking entire subnets — a move that ultimately led to Google and Amazon asking Zello to cease its activities.

After that, Zello’s main access point for its Russian users was via VPN proxies — one of the key ways that users in one country can effectively appear as if they are in another, allowing them to circumvent geoblocking and geofencing, either by the companies themselves, or those that have been banned by a state.

It’s important to note that the domain fronting that Google is in the process of shutting down is not the same as IP hopping — although, more generally, it will mean that there is now one less route for those globally whose traffic is getting blocked through censorship to wiggle around that. The IP hopping that has led to 19 million addresses getting blocked in Russia is another kind of circumvention. (I’m pointing this out because several people I’ve spoken to assumed they were the same.)

Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder and CEO, has made several public calls on Telegram and also third-party sites like Twitter to praise how steadfast the big internet companies have been

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Cambridge Analytica was reportedly exploring an ICO

In the most 2018 thing of the year so far, Reuters and The New York Times are both reporting that Cambridge Analytica was talking to crytpocurrency experts in preparation for the launch of its own initial coin offering. Of course, things may have gotten a bit off-track when the company was revealed to have obtained the data of as many as 87 million Facebook users. Life, as they say, comes at you fast.

According to Reuters sources, the embattled firm was looking to issue its own digital currency in an effort to raise upwards of $30 million. Understandable, perhaps — startups reportedly raised $5.6 billion through ICOs in 2017 alone. Surely Cambridge Analytica was well positioned to get in on that action. 

The company wouldn’t confirm whether it was still looking toward digital currency as a fundraising method moving forward, though it did tell the news agency that  using blockchain for security purposes is still very much on the table.

“Prior to the Facebook controversy, we were developing a suite of technologies to help individuals reclaim their personal data from corporate entities and to have full transparency and control over how their personal data are used,” a spokesperson said. “We were exploring multiple options for people to manage and monetize their personal data, including blockchain technology.”

The Times also confirms via leaked emails that CA’s work with another digital currency, Dragon Coin, “associated the firm” with a gangster know as Broken Tooth. Though Dragon Coin’s founder denies any connection with Mr. Tooth.

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Reddit hires former Time Inc exec Jen Wong as COO

Reddit, one of the internet’s largest hubs for both traffic and controversy, announced today that it has hired former Time Inc. President of Digital Jen Wong to take on the role of COO.

She will be tasked with managing Reddit’s business strategy, working out of the company’s New York office. Wong left Time Inc. earlier this year when the company was acquired by Meredith Corp for $1.84 billion.

In a blog post, the company detailed the scope of her role as COO. A major focus will be building the company’s advertising strategy.

Her goals as COO will align closely with her past experience at Time, PopSugar, and AOL: using her media, publisher, advertising, and operations expertise to help us build out our offerings for users, advertisers, and partners; applying her experience building successful digital advertising offerings for internet media giants to our own ads platform; and, through it all, working to grow our business while staying true to the things that make Reddit unique.

Despite claiming 330 million monthly active users, Reddit is still a relatively small operation by Silicon Valley standards. A major part of that is that they’ve been slow to build out a sophisticated advertising product, though in recent months they’ve begun rolling out native ads in the company’s mobile apps.

“Jen is a seasoned digital veteran and successful executive at some of the biggest media companies in the world, her experience and vision will help carry Reddit’s momentum forward in the years to come,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in a statement.

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