Malware, ransomware attacks are a growing threat to computer and mobile phone!


Ransonware-money-dataFORGET pickpockets or thieves. The biggest threat to your smartphone now is kidnappers cyber “kidnappers” that is, with their Ransomware.

As the name suggests, ransomware is a malware (malicious software) that will keep your phone or computer a prisoner until you pay a ransom. Only when the specified amount of money is paid will you be able to “free” your device and access data or information.

Although it is not new ransomware is said to originate from Russia in 2005 and has been attacking many computers worldwide since the Symantec Corp Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) Volume 18 revealed that ransomware is emerging as the malware of choice because of its high profitability for attackers.

Luckily, says Symantec Malaysia’s senior technical consultant David Rajoo, to his knowledge, no cases have been reported here yet.

“However, as the worldwide web has no boundaries and with increasing broadband penetration and as more users are accessing the Internet, Malaysia is certainly exposed to the Ransomware threats,” he says.

Infected machines display messages which demand payment in order to restore functionality. - David Rajoo Infected machines display messages which demand payment in order to restore functionality. – David Rajoo

Rajoo points out that awareness is key to combat ransomware threat.

As the report highlights, attackers are using deceptive links and poisoned websites to infect unsuspecting users with malicious software and lock their machines.

“The attackers, many of them cybercriminal organisations, then hold users’ machines for ransom. Infected machines display messages which demand payment in order to restore functionality,” he tells.

Recent attacks have also displayed images that impersonate law enforcement.

Consumers on the Android platform are most vulnerable to ransomware and mobile threats, says the report.

Last year, mobile malware increased by 58%, and 32% of all mobile threats attempted to steal information, such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

Although Android has fewer vulnerabilities, its threats are higher than any other mobile operating system. Its open platform and the multiple distribution methods available to distribute malicious apps make it the go-to platform for attackers, adds the report.

With malware growing sophisticated every day, Rajoo adds, a mix of intelligence-based technologies can provide optimal security to stop new and unknown malware.

To avoid getting infected, ensure the device’s software and anti-virus definitions are up to date, and avoid suspicious sites, Rajoo advises.

“We also advise users to use more than antivirus for protection. We recommend using advanced reputation security which provides layered defence. Use more than just Antivirus use a full functionality solution which includes heuristics, reputation-based, behaviour-based and other technologies,” he says, stressing that a key strategy is to fend off threats before they infiltrate your computer system.

Symantec Malaysia’s Systems Engineering director Nigel Tan agrees that stopping the threat at the gate is important as cyber criminals continue to devise new ways to steal information from organisations of all sizes.

Staying ahead of attacks

“The sophistication of attacks coupled with today’s information technology complexities require organisations in Malaysia and globally to remain proactive and use “defence in depth” security measures to stay ahead of attacks,” he added.

According to the annual ISTR which analyses the year in global threat activity, Malaysia was ranked 35th on its global Internet security threat profile in 2012.

As it highlights, there was a 42% surge last year in targeted attacks globally compared with the prior year.

These targeted cyberespionage attacks, designed to steal intellectual property, are increasingly hitting the manufacturing sector as well as small businesses, which are the target of 31% of these attacks.

Small businesses are attractive targets themselves and a way in to ultimately reach larger companies via “watering hole” techniques.

In a watering hole attack scenario, attackers compromise a carefully selected website by inserting an exploit resulting in malware infection. Through the compromised website, the attackers will target victims who visit the compromised site and take advantage of their software vulnerabilities to drop malware that will allow them to access sensitive data and take control of the vulnerable system.

As Symantec alerts, 61% of malicious websites are actually legitimate websites that have been compromised and infected with malicious code.

Business, technology and shopping websites were among the top five types of websites hosting infections. The shift of focus from government websites indicates an increase in attacks targeting the supply chain cybercriminals find these contractors and subcontractors susceptible to attacks and they are often in possession of valuable intellectual property.

The attack uses the security weaknesses in the supply chain specifically the small businesses to gain access into larger and more secured companies, adds Symantec.

Case in point is that those in sales became the most commonly targeted victims last year.

Another growing source of infections on websites is malvertisements this is when criminals buy advertising space on legitimate websites and use it to hide their attack code.

Tan urges organisations to continue to take proactive initiatives to secure and manage critical information from a variety of security risks, especially targeted attacks in the manufacturing and small business sectors, mobile malware, and phishing threats.

By HARIATI AZIZAN sunday@thestar.com

We need competent leaders!


LeaderCompetent leader vital for Information, Communications and Culture Ministry  

The candidate should be someone well rounded, well experienced, not too old or too young

FOR some time now, there has been talk on whether culture is a good fit for the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry (MICC). Some believe culture would be better off parked under the Tourism Ministry.

Culture and tourism, to them, are lines out of the same song not quite jiving with communications or information.

Then, there is talk of some areas of duplication between MICC and the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti). Both should merge as there are common areas, it has been said.

These ministries aside, some folk have been lobbying that a new ministry, the Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Ministry, be set up with the MICC being done away with.

All this talk has resurfaced now that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, fresh off his election win, is busy selecting candidates for his new Cabinet line-up that might be announced in the coming days.

There is certainly some overlap between Mosti and MICC, making sense for them to be merged into one entity. Arts, on the other hand, could be part of the Youth and Sports Ministry or spun off into a new ministry under Arts and Heritage.

It is not an easy decision, but whatever the outcome, one things is for sure Malaysia’s Cabinet should not be bigger than China’s, which has a population of 1.6 billion, as opposed to our 28 million.

Australia and Singapore have gone though the same phase that Malaysia is going through now in terms of merging and segregating its various ministries. In 2001, Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) was expanded to include Arts.

Over a decade later, the Arts and Heritage portfolios became a part of the culture ministry. At present, the role of the MCI is to oversee the development of the ICT, media and design sectors, public libraries and the government’s information and public communications policies.

On a similar note, Australia expanded its Communications Ministry to include Arts in 1994. Four years later, the ministry expanded to include information technology (IT).

However, in 2007, Arts became a part of the Environment/Heritage Ministry. The Communications/IT Ministry was renamed as the Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy.

Even the United Nations has a specialised agency to deal with technology in the form of the International Telecommunication Union because the role of the Internet and broadband transcends all boundaries.

The vision of Malaysia’s MICC is to be a pioneer in promoting the 1Malaysia Concept based on national principles to achieve a harmonious and gracious nation. The ministry’s main aspiration is to enhance Malaysia as a global ICT hub in the region, to ensure information from all sources of media is accurate and precise and to preserve and promote Malaysia’s heritage and culture to the world.

Culture preservation is vital in the era of the social media, but once there is widespread awareness, culture can be placed under the Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry, or could even be one of the units under the Prime Minister’s Department or the Tourism Ministry.

There are even suggestions that MICC be part of the Prime Minister’s Department so that it would fall directly under the Prime Minister’s purview. However, whether this is feasible remains to be seen.

Communications and information have become vital because of the digital era, and their role in Malaysia might need to be reviewed. Australia and Singapore felt the “need to change because of the need to redistribute and re-focus its ministerial workload to improve public communications and engagement for an increasingly diverse society in the age of social media and rapid technology progress”.

All this brings us to the next question: Who is best to lead the MICC?

There are many talented people out there, but the industry feels the choice of candidate should encompass someone “well rounded, well experienced, but not too old or too young”. The person, while having sound knowledge of Law and Economics, should also fulfil the most important criterion being savvy enough about the workings of the Internet and the new/social media.

The choice of candidate is important because there is no room for mistakes, unlike the blunders made in the past over spectrum allocation and technology choices. Most importantly, the candidate should not regress but rather, take the nation forward on the digital path.

Friday Reflections – By B.K. Sidhu

Deputy news editor B K Sidhu has some candidates in mind, but they are not politicians.

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This is what the Malaysian Chinese want

Information innovator


Information Innovator_Vish Iyer

Information technology (IT) is all about innovation. Vish Iyer can’t agree more.

Mobility, social media and big data are all hot-button topics. Cloud computing frees up people from the desk, so an IT system can be managed even on the road. “For a bank, it could be payment via Internet banking or mobile phone,” says the high-flying corporate executive, dapper in a light purple shirt.

Vish Iyer: ‘There is no advantage in having 20 or 30 years of experience unless you are …very merit-driven and work-driven’.

“For an insurance company, it could mean enabling an agent to get quotations and conduct transactions on his or her mobile.” For an airline, pilots no longer carry huge bags with heavy operating manuals. “We put that on an iPad,” he adds.

Few would believe the president for Asia Pacific at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has neither training in IT nor a background in engineering. He learns by doing.

Born and raised in Kolkata around the time when India’s first computer arrived, Iyer graduated from St Xavier’s College, one of the city’s best-known educational institutions with a major in taxation and economics.

Now the head of the largest service provider in the Asia-Pacific region based in Singapore, he manages 10,000 employees in 13 countries including Australia, Japan, China and South Korea.

The 45-year-old Indian company, whose clients include Microsoft and ING Group, is the provider of IT services and business solutions, with a turnover exceeding $12 billion and market capitalization of $45 billion on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

It is part of the Tata group, India’s largest conglomerate in seven sectors including communications, engineering and energy, with a revenue of more than $100 billion in the fiscal year 2011-12.

As a certified accountant, Iyer moved on from the financial field to other areas including human resources, marketing, strategy, mergers and acquisition. “I have been a chief financial officer many times,” he tells China Daily Asia Weekly at the TCS Hong Kong office.

But that didn’t stop him from venturing into new fields after three and a half decades. Midway through his career, he moved into a new-born industry in India.

His rationale is: “What matters is how you put your basic training to use and how you quickly learn from the surroundings. You can do anything as long as you have a will to do it, and you are determined to work hard enough.”

He spent a decade at IBM, where he was director of corporate development. IT has since become his longest stint.

He has witnessed the birth of the industry along with the ups and downs. “The IT industry is very fascinating. Every two to three years are completely different. In that sense, everybody got to continuously learn,” he says.

In the IT world, experience doesn’t necessarily give you an edge over the younger generation. Two-thirds of the company’s workforce has about three years of experience and the average age of a TCS employee is just 28.

“There is no advantage (in) having 20 or 30 years of experience unless you are … very merit-driven and work-driven,” Iyer says.

“This is the industry across the world (where) everything looks the same. There is no different standard in the US or Japan. Once you are inside IT, it is the same. It talks the same language and (has the same) quality level.”

The capability to locate young talent matters for the industry. To Iyer, the Chinese mainland not only has a staggering domestic market but also vast trained manpower resources.

TCS is among the first Indian companies to enter the Chinese mainland as the first wholly-owned foreign enterprise. The IT consultancy commenced its operations in Shanghai in 2002, then established a development center in Hangzhou in Zhejiang province in October of the same year. Its banking products are used by Bank of China in more than 40 provinces.

Iyer sees the potential to substantially increase China’s TCS workforce from its current number of 3,000 people, as the company’s sales growth in China outpaces that in the Americas. TCS now has relations with 20 colleges in China.

“Our business is all about people,” he says. “At the end of the day, we need to find out where are these talents available for serving our customers. China is very important from that point of view — as a pool of talent. It’s equally important for the size of the economy, too.”

“We are very bullish about China,” he said in a previous interview. “Its full potential has not yet been harnessed … We’re looking to leverage its position as an innovation center and a hub for the Northeast Asia region.”

TCS has started to provide a ground-breaking cloud-based service that enables smaller banks and credit unions to establish their own Internet, mobile and ATM facilities by paying a monthly fee. “A village bank need not have an IT department, but the same technology that empowers a (central bank) is now available to small and medium enterprises.”

The TCS pioneer project has found a home in the world’s second largest economy. iCity or the Intelligent City, utilizes smart technologies and collective intelligence to improve a city’s livability and sustainability.

These cities will be built on cloud infrastructure that makes them easy to run. Every citizen will own a personalized information page for health records and blood pressure measurements and even get health alerts and doctors’ advice.

Imagine buildings that glean energy from the sun and rain, reducing energy consumption, and embedded software in cars and traffic poles that automatically monitor local traffic. At the same time, healthcare and consumer services are dispensed to citizens at home, saving time, cost and valuable resources.

An iCity project in southern China’s port city of Guangzhou is slated for a soft launch later this year. More blueprints are on majors’ drawing boards in first- and second-tier Chinese cities, including Tianjin, Ningbo and Chengdu.

“The Indian IT industry over the last 20 years has done exceedingly well,” Iyer says. “Works of best quality are from this industry. There (has been) a lot of proud achievements — so it’s an exciting place to be in.”

But when asked about the most exciting moment in his life, the president’s answer has surprisingly nothing to do with his career. “The day when my daughter was born, and when I was holding her in my hands,” he says, with a gentle smile.

“Lots of people talk about work-life balance. I think each person has to find that balance himself … Family influence is a strong support for the profession I pursue, so there are no conflicts or contradiction.”

Looking back, Iyer has been with his two children — his 23-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son — through every important step of their life. “I (accompany) them through every exam, drop them off and pick them up after classes, and consult their teachers for college admissions. As long as you enjoy it, you’ll find time for doing it,” he adds.

Technology has been the savior for this family man with a hectic business schedule with long hours of frequent travel.

“I am on the road 50 or 60 percent of the time. Each month, I am outside my hometown for 20 days,” he says. “My children have grown up with me spending a lot of time at work. But this is a world of Facebook, email and Skype. That’s what we do now,” he says.

What makes his day? Iyer answers professionally without a second of hesitation: “To satisfy a customer in a meeting.”

Then comes the personal bit: “Followed by a relaxing dinner with my wife.”

By jennifer@chinadailyhk.com 

Vish Iyer
President of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Asia Pacific

Career Milestones:
2010: Becomes president of TCS Asia Pacific
2008: Serves as CFO of global business operations at TCS
2006: Takes up post as head of corporate strategy at TCS
1996: Becomes director of corporate development at IBM Global Services
1991: Joins Tata Elxsi as executive vice-president

QUICK TAKES:
Hobbies:
Playing golf. The question is not how well you play but whether you enjoy the time. Whatever I do, I enjoy. It’s a great opportunity to meet people.
Business philosophy:
I always believe in … simple communication with the customer and the employee. There is no point promising things that you cannot deliver. Whatever you promise, you deliver. Whatever you don’t deliver, you don’t promise.
If you were to do one thing differently in life?
I can’t think of one thing. I do things that I enjoy doing.
How to kill time on the road:
I spend a lot of time watching movies on the plane. My favorite stars are Jackie Chan and Amitabh Bachchan, who hosted India’s version of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Born: December 8 in a Year of the Snake

Bloggers doing their bit to champion a good cause


Blogging_responsible 2013BLOGGER Dr Angelo Nino M. Santos brought his eight-year-old son to visit three children’s homes so that the little boy would appreciate what he had in his life.

“My son Antonio Gabriel was so excited to come.

“He packed his old toys and clothes to be donated to the children here,” he said while at Ramakrishna Orphanage in Scotland Road, Penang.

The visit was in conjunction with the ‘Responsible Blogging 2013: Time To Give Back’ programme.

A total of 40 bloggers visited Rama-krishna Orphanage, Children’s Pro- tection Society and Shan Children’s Home to give away food and other items.

The programme was organised by Crowdpot Sdn Bhd, a social media marketing company.

Crowdpot director Leslie Loh said they planned to help educate bloggers about safe blogging and to achieve one million ‘responsible actions’.

“For example, if each blogger who posted about this event in his or her blog receives about 100 comments, we consider that we have generated responsible action,” he explained.

Dr Angelo, 36, a lecturer at the Allianze University College of Medical Sciences, said it was the first time he was taking part in such a programme.

He said he started blogging in 2007 and his blog mainly focuses on the 3Fs — family, food and fun.

Also present was Penang Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environ­ment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh.

Loh said Crowdpot was also giving away prizes for those who helped to blog about the homes.

“The prizes include three iPad Minis sponsored by Crowdpot and six Ninetology Black Pearl 2 dual-core Android smartphones sponsored by Ninetology Malaysia,” he said.

The contest is until March 23.

For details, visit http://www.responsibleblogging.my. – The Star

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More millionaires nowadays; secret to success and riches


PETALING JAYA: There may be more millionaires in Malaysia now than before but they may not necessarily be feeling rich.

Besides the rising number of successful business owners, many high-salaried people are already millionaires based on the value of their assets and properties.

RAM Holdings Bhd group chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng said the term could also apply to those in the middle-class who could have earned the amount but had spent it on necessities such as on costly children’s education and high property prices.

He said although a millionaire was measured by his or her disposable income, those who have made their million would not have the same purchasing power compared to a decade ago, citing inflation as the main reason.

Dr Yeah said many in business had made their millions as a result of savvy investments and the growth of the industries that they were involved in, adding that overall, the rising affluence was due to sustained economic growth.

“We have seen a strong growth in certain sectors, including plantation, oil and gas and property, which have elevated entrepreneurs into the millionaire class,” he said.

Billionaires, however, remain rare. Malaysia now has 30 billionaires, just three more from the 27 on the list last year.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported last year that Malaysia’s millionaires almost doubled over the previous 18 months.

Citing a report by international financial firm Credit Suisse Group, it said Malaysia added 19,000 new millionaires since early 2010, bringing the total to 39,000 as of October.

The WSJ report attributed the rise to the weakening US dollar and careful spending.

Dr Yeah said those who invested their money wisely had benefited the most.

“In a free market and capitalist economy like Malaysia, people who have capital can generate millions,” he said, noting that many in the upper-income bracket had accumulated wealth past the million-ringgit mark.

Personal financial consultant Carol Yip said the rising cost of living had lessened the feeling of being rich.

“Today, even a small apartment can cost half a million,” she said.

She said careful spending was not a factor for the increase in the numbers of millionaires.

“If we are spending less, we won’t be seeing so many luxury cars on the road,” she said.

She said the rise in millionaires was also due to property prices which have shot up exponentially, adding that the definition should not include the value of the house that one was living in.

“If you still have a million in hand after you convert the value of your other properties, investments and have paid of all your debts, then you are a millionaire,” she added.

Financial adviser Fred Wong said making a million was not a problem these days as long as people were willing to work hard but being self-employed and investing wisely was the better route to riches.

By ISABELLE LAI and P. ARUNA newsdesk@thestar.com.my

Millionaires’ secret to success

PETALING JAYA: Ganesh Kumar Bangah made his first million at the age of 23.

The secret, he said, was as simple as knowing what people needed and delivering it to them.

“I knew what I was good at, which was IT. I used that to come up with something of value to the world.

“I also worked hard and persevered until I reached the goals I had set for myself,” said Ganesh, now 33 and the CEO of MOL Global Bhd, a company worth over RM1bil.

<b>Young and rich:</b> Ganesh (left) and Yap made their first million at the age of 23 and 26 respectively. Young and rich: Ganesh (left) and Yap made their first million at the age of 23 and 26 respectively.

He said that even when he was only 15, he had been using his skills to make money, like repairing his teachers’ computers for a fee.

At the age of 20, he started his own company, which made him a millionaire in three years.

“Be focused and set new goals for yourself to keep climbing higher. Real wealth is the satisfaction you get when you overcome a new challenge that brings rewards. Financial wealth should just be a by-product.”

Feng shui master and multi-millionaire Joey Yap said learning to make good use of time was a key ingredient to achieving financial success.

“In business, time is money, so make sure you use your time to acquire things of good value. Find out what your strengths are, work on your weaknesses and hone your talents,” said Yap, 35, who made his first million at age 26 by selling his first feng shui home study course.

However, having RM1mil does not necessarily make people feel rich, especially for those raising children in the city.

Carol Leong, 57, a mother of three, said it costs more than the amount for an average family to live in the city and raise a child to adulthood.

“There are medical bills, tuition fees, various expenses and their education to pay for. For our family, it has definitely come up to more than RM1mil per child,” she said.

Leong, a lawyer, said she and her businessman husband had placed their money in various investments, which in the long run had helped pay for tertiary education overseas for their three children.

“I would advise young parents living in the city and who are just starting a family to invest to secure some income for the future,” she added.

By YVONNE LIM yvonnelim@thestar.com.my

Certification for Malaysian IT pros ?


The Register® — Biting the hand that feeds IT

Government seeks BOFH control By Natalie Apostolou

A proposal to introduce a bill to force all IT workers in Malaysia to be certified and registered via a single industry body has sparked agitation in the tech sector.

If the proposed legislation, the Board of Computing Professionals Malaysia Bill 2011 (BCPM), is passed, Malaysia will be the first country with a law which requiring IT professionals to be registered with a board before being allowed to practice.

Under the draft bill any professional registering with the board would have to pass examinations, possess professional experience and pay registration fees.

Those against the law claim that the talent pool may shrink if such stipulations are introduced and fear that the board will have too much control over who can be registered, or certified for lucrative government tenders.

The tech community has released a “Common Voice of ICT Professionals” response to the government proposal, stating that the industry is “alarmed” and “caught most of us off-guard”.

“We have not found any information and substantiation that suggests or concludes that the formation of the Board of Computing Professionals is the right and only answer to amicably resolve all matters that the Government perceive to be issues relating to the ICT profession, if such issues indeed do exist in the first place.”

Also under the draft of the proposed bill, unregistered IT professionals will not be allowed to “practice, carry on business or take up employment which requires him to carry out or perform the services of a Registered Computing Professional”. They are also forbidden from gaining any fees, charges, remuneration or other form of consideration for any professional technology services rendered. ®

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MCA against listing IT pros under a regulatory body

The Star 13/12/2011

MALACCA: MCA has voiced its objection against a proposed move by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry to register IT practitioners in the country under a regulatory body known as the Board of Computing Professionals.

Party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said it was strongly against the proposed exercise embarked by the ministry.

“We will be made a laughing stock in the global arena if we go ahead with the proposed body. Nowhere else is there such a regulatory body,” he said after attending Kota Melaka 1MCA Medical Foundation dinner here last night.

He said the ministry should first seek feedback from IT practitioners before coming up with such a plan.

“The board is unnecessary because a code of conduct or guideline is more suitable.

“Furthermore, the fact is undeniable that most of the pioneer members of the local IT Industry are not those from IT background. Yet, they were able to soar,” he said, adding that he had expressed MCA’s opposition against the board to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

On another matter, Dr Chua called on Opposition leaders, especially those from PAS, to understand the religions practised by the Chinese community such as Buddhism and Taoism before making baseless comments.

He claimed that PAS leaders had made derogatory remarks during their ceramah, labelling the Chinese as “praying to Datuk Kong and Pai Kong and later may worship King Kong”.

“MCA is willing to provide classes to PAS leaders if they don’t understand the tenets and teaching of other religions,” he said.

New Bill will restrict IT users, says Pua

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no need to impose bureaucratic control over the information technology (IT) in Malaysia, said DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua.

He said the proposed Computer Professionals Bill (CPB) 2011 would restrict those using IT, despite assurances by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry that there will not be any restrictions on computing services.

He added the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees had promised “unrestricted employment of knowledge workers” and “no censorship of the Internet”.

“The information technology and computing industry has been operating without controversy, issues or impediment for the past decade.

“There is absolutely no bureaucratic requirement to restrict and control the industry, which will only bring adverse outcomes without any corresponding tangible benefit,” Pua said in a statement here yesterday.

IT professionals had raised a stink over the CPB 2011 since a copy of the Bill’s draft was made available online on Thursday.

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 IT folk upset over draft Bill Dec 10, 2011

IT folk upset over draft Bill


Logo of the Ministry Of Science, Technology an...Image via Wikipedia

Many say proposal will cripple industry

By JO TIMBUONG and GABEY GOH bytz@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: Members of the Information Technology industry are up in arms over a proposed Bill that seeks to certify IT professionals, claiming it will cripple not help the industry.

Industry players said a draft of the Computing Professionals Bill 2011, released online on Thursday night, proposed that only registered IT professionals could create software or computer applications for government use.

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) drafted the Bill, with the aim of maintaining a registry of certified IT professionals in the country.

It is a bid to ensure that only qualified professionals can work in the sectors classified under the Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII).

The CNII covers, among others, banking and finance, cyber-security, the national defence industry, healthcare, emergency services, food and agriculture, and utilities.

The Bill will recognise two categories of IT talents certified IT practitioners who do not have formal qualifications, and certified IT professionals who have the full qualification.

But some industry players are arguing that the proposed Bill would in effect hinder innovation and development across the board because CNII was very broad in its scope.

Willie Chan, founder of business software maker xIMnet Malaysia, said anyone should be able to create software or applications, not just certified practitioners or professionals.

“If a doctor who writes code as a hobby comes up with a software that can benefit the health industry, shouldn’t he be allowed to market it to the Government?” he asked.

“If this draft passes into law, it will hinder such cross-pollination of ideas.”

Chan holds a degree in English Literature. Under the drafted Bill, he would be listed as only an IT practitioner, and would not be able to market xIMnet Malaysia solutions to the Government or its agencies.

Daniel CerVentus, co-founder of an online resource portal and community for entrepreneurs Entrepreneurs.my, believes that if such a situation were to develop, it would aggravate the country’s brain-drain problem.

Mosti said the Bill did not aim to regulate the entire computing profession and was only applied to those identified as working in CNII sectors.

It also said registration was not mandatory.

Mosti will be holding an open day at its Putrajaya premises from 9.30am to 5pm on Tuesday to collect feedback and suggestions.

Firefox add-on with 7m downloads can invade privacy


Tweet

Ant Video secretly tracks every website visited

By Dan Goodin

A high-rated Firefox extension with more than 7 million downloads secretly collects data about every website the open-source browser visits and combines it with uniquely traceable information tied to the user, an independent security researcher said.

The undisclosed behavior of the Ant Video Downloader and Player add-on takes place even when the Firefox private browsing mode is turned on or when users are availing themselves of anonymity services such as Tor. The add-on carries a rating of four out of five possible stars and gets an average of almost 7,000 downloads per day, according to official Mozilla statistics.

 The revelations raise new questions about the safety of extensions offered on Mozilla’s website. A spokeswoman for the open-source developer said the media player, like all public extensions not designated experimental, was vetted to make sure it meets a list of criteria. Chief among them is that add-ons “must make it very clear to users what [privacy and security] risks they might encounter, and what they can do to protect themselves.”

“We’ve looked into the Ant Video Player and found that it does send information about websites users visit in order to power its ranking feature displayed for each website, and also includes a unique identifier in this communication,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email. “While this does not violate our policies, we do require it to be disclosed in the privacy policy and the add-on’s description. We have contacted the developer and asked them to correct this.”

In the meantime, the add-on is available for download on Mozilla’s site with no warning.

Messages left through a submission form on Ant.com, where a stand-alone version of the software is hosted, weren’t returned. Attempts to reach the developers through other channels weren’t successful.

The stealth tracking came to the attention of Simon Newton while he was diagnosing problems with a web application he was in the middle of developing. When he fired up a packet sniffer, he discovered that information about every single HTTP request his PC made was being sent to a server at rpc.ant.com, which used an IP address owned by the Reality Check Network Corp. The data included the external website or internal server being accessed, the time, the browser details, and several persistent browser cookies that contained a Universally Unique Identifier.

Newton quickly linked the behavior to the the Ant Video add-on installed on the PC. He said packets captured during a recent visit to El Reg looked like this:

POST / HTTP/1.1
Host: rpc.ant.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.2.17) Gecko/20110422 Ubuntu/10.04 (lucid) Firefox/3.6.17
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
Keep-Alive: 115
Connection: keep-alive
Content-Type: application/json; charset=UTF-8
Content-Length: 327
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Ant.com servers responded with the following:

Content-Type: application/json
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Server: thin 1.2.7 codename No Hup
Connection: close
Date: Tue, 10 May 2011 20:19:09 GMT
{"version":"1.0","id":1,"code":0,"result":"4,086"}

Interestingly, the unique identifier of Newton’s PC didn’t change even after he removed the add-on and reinstalled it. The only way he was able purge the tracking ID was to completely revert Firefox to its original settings and then reinstall the Ant Video extension.

“As there is this unique identifier, patterns could be built up about where I go — for example if I use my laptop at work, at a public wifi hotspot, at home or a friends house — that [UUID] and cookie can be tied to all of those IP addresses, building a picture of not only what I am doing online, but where I am doing it from,” he wrote in a blog post published on May 10.

“What alarms me a bit more is that the data that is transmitted about me and my browsing (even anonymously) is going onto servers in New York, USA,” he continued. “What if I were visiting [a] site I did not want anyone to know about? What if the US government subpoena ‘Reality check network corp’ for all information stored on their servers about my IP address, cookie, or UUID?”

Newton said he tried contacting the add-on’s developers to find out if the snoop behavior is the result of a bug, but so far no one has responded to a personal message or his blog post.

The larger lesson here is that just because a Firefox add-on has been subjected to Mozilla’s official vetting process there is no guarantee it doesn’t do things that many users consider to be invasions of their privacy. With at least 5,000 add-ons hosted on its site, it wouldn’t be shocking to find out that Ant Video isn’t the only extension that comes with a few nasty surprises. ®

Update

As of late Thursday night California time, the Ant Video Downloader was no longer available on Mozilla’s site.

“The page or file you requested wasn’t found on our site,” the page where the add-on had been located read. “It’s possible that you clicked a link that’s out of date, or typed in the address incorrectly.”

The error message didn’t elaborate.

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IT gender pay gap getting worse


Skills Survey 2009: Female techies not pocketing the biggest bonuses either…

The IT gender pay gap is getting worse, according to results from the 2009 silicon.com Skills Survey.

More than a third (35 per cent) of female IT workers responding to this year’s survey said they were on the bottom rung of the tech pay ladder, earning less than £25k, compared to just under a third of women (32 per cent) last year. And only 14 per cent of male IT workers are in the lowest pay bracket this year, down from 20 per cent in 2008.

A slightly larger proportion of women than men also take home the second lowest pay packet, of between £25,001 to £40k: 27.5 per cent of women versus 25.5 per cent of men. However when it comes to earnings of more than £40,001, men consistently dominate – and in the highest pay brackets the proportion of men to women is more than double.

Image credit: Natasha Lomas/silicon.com

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of male respondents reported earning £40,001 to £55k this year, compared to less than a fifth (17.5 per cent) of female respondents; while 17 per cent of male respondents reported earning £55,001 to £70k, versus just 12.5 per cent of women. In the top two earnings brackets there is a significant hike in the proportion of men versus women: 15 per cent of male respondents reported earning £70,001 to £110k this year, compared to just five per cent of women; while 5.5 per cent of men claimed to pocket £110,001+, only 2.5 per cent of women did.

When it comes to bonuses, while a larger proportion of female techies reported getting a bonus this year than male techies (42.5 per cent of women versus 35 per cent of men) – a change on last year when the sexes were equally likely to get extra cash – men tended to take home bigger bonuses than women.

The majority of female bonuses this year fall in the less-than-£5k category: 65 per cent of female respondents, versus 47 per cent of men.

For bigger bonuses men were the clear winners: no female IT workers responding to the survey reported receiving a bonus of more than £20,001, yet 10 per cent of male respondents took home the biggest bucks – including one per cent that reported getting a bonus of more than £100k. And while 43 per cent of men reported a bonus of between £5,001 and £20k, only 35 per cent of women did so.

In April this year the government published the Equality Bill which includes measures to strengthen the law on pay equality in the public sector. According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, women still earn on average 22 per cent less per hour than men – a marginal improvement on last year when the gap stood at 22.5 per cent.

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Comments

  1. 1. anonymous

    Statistics. All this proves is that the women spend more time filling in questionaires whilst the men ignore them as they are not very interested. I constantly see more and more females being promoted up the ladder to balance out but a lot are promoted above thier ability and then make a mess of things making it more difficult for women to shine in the future. Promotions should be on talent alone and no other reason and stats like these should be complied properly.

  2. 2. anonymous

    While I don’t necessarily agree with the previous poster, these stats prove nothing. We don’t know the ages of the respondents, how many women choose to leave the profession early to do other things (leaving perhaps more in junior posts), or even if it was a statistically fair sample.

    For example we have few female techies but several female ex techies in senior positions

    So a good start a debate, but there is nothing here that can be relied upon to provide any real information.

  3. 3. blogger123

    Most statistics are made up.

  4. 4. NLondon

    Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show women still earn on average 22 per cent less per hour than men.

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Mobile propping up enterprise IT


Commentary

Despite Gartner projecting a 5.3 percent increase in IT spending in 2010 over 2009, and IT vendors reporting rosy earnings, venture capitalists have been moving away from investing as much in enterprise IT in the past several years. As The Wall Street Journal reports, IT represented 53 percent of VC deals in 2001 but it has plummeted to 33 percent in 2009.

It’s not as if those VCs are holding their money. They’re actively investing in health care, green tech, and other sectors…

…like mobile.

The irony with mobile is that while it’s siphoning away VC dollars from IT, it may actually be fueling enterprise IT spending. Mary Meeker suggests that with the mobile Web we’re entering the fifth major technology cycle, eclipsing the desktop Internet era, an era of personal computers driven by enterprise IT.

But mobile is very much a heavy hitter in enterprise IT, even if it didn’t start there.

For a variety of reasons, enterprise IT is rapidly co-opting mobile. It has to: employees are demanding that IT support their device preferences.

Hence, while companies may have been relatively quick to adopt the BlackBerry (“Hey, I can keep my employees working 24/7, constantly tethered to e-mail!”), even the “toy” iPhone has won over the enterprise, and employees are already inventing arguments why the iPad should be next.

Why? It’s the apps.

E-mail was the initial killer app for mobile, but we’ve moved well beyond that. From Foursquare to mobile search to Facebook Mobile, the enterprise is increasingly running through consumer-esque applications that connect employees to business partners, fellow employees, and vendors of essential services.

Even traditional IT increasingly will run on consumer-driven mobile technology. MeeGo, the amalgamation of Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo mobile Linux initiatives, is making its way onto enterprise-friendly laptops. The same holds true for Google Android.

In other words, even as VCs shift their investments to mobile, their money is likely helping to drive enterprise IT. It’s not a direct investment, to be sure, but no less effective. Enterprise IT is alive and well. It just looks more mobile now, and less tied to the desktop.

(Credit: Dow Jones VentureSource)

Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

Source: http://newscri.be/link/1080275

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