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One of the benefits of the world wide web is the ability for people to share their thoughts and convictions with anyone and everyone. Social media is a perfect example with additional blogging and video platforms allowing everyday citizens to become publishers. Still, there is another form of contentious free speech that is being used online — hacktivism.

Hacktivism, a portmanteau of hacking and activism, can range from any number of digital activities including virtual sit-ins, defacing websites, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, website mirroring, information leaking and much more. Many of these methods are controversial even in the hacker community.

But while netizens discuss the merits and detriments of hacktivism, one thing is certain — businesses need to wise up to the threat.

There seems to be a fine line between hacktivism and cybercrime when it comes to protesting private businesses. PayPal, for example, felt the furry of hacking group Anonymous after the popular payment site froze donations to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Part of Anonymous’ Operation Payback was to launch DDoS attacks against PayPal and MasterCard in December of 2010 which crippled the sites operations and lead to thousands of dollars in lost business. The hackers were caught and have since plead guilty to the cyberattack.

Conversely, Netflix’s Twitter account was temporarily taken over by OurMine, a group of young internet hackers determined to show that the world’s security isn’t up to snuff. Similar social account takeover attacks have targeted Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, actor Channing Tatum and TechCrunch.

A compromised post from Marvel Entertainment in December 2016 read: “Hey, it’s OurMine, Don’t worry we are just testing your security, contact us to help with your security,” followed by an email address. This type of self-promotion walks the line between hacking and hacktivism, but either way, it’s rather disconcerting.

So what can you do to safeguard your business against hacktivists?

Cyber Defense for Businesses

Large companies make perfect victims for hacktivists looking to raise their profile since their efforts are often highly publicized. But, as it turns out, 43 percent of cyberattacks target small businesses. The lesson here is that literally anyone with an internet connection can be targeted by hackers. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to safeguard your business.

Don’t Poke the Bear: Whatever you do, do not provoke potential hackers. It is their job to make Swiss cheese of even the most robust security measures. So operate with trepidation. If you believe you are being targeted by a hacktivist group, discuss the risk with your cybersecurity provider.

Get Password Savvy: One of the easiest way for cybercriminals to crack your confidence is to exploit a weak password. Require your workforce to use stronger passphrases on all their account, use different passwords for each account and change their login credentials regularly.

Ignore Sketchy Emails & Links: The most common methods of digital incursion stem from spam emails. Attachments often hide malicious software and links often redirect to phony sign-in pages which fool employees into turning over their personal login information. Don’t let this happen to you. Avoid opening emails, links and downloads from sources you do not know well.

Block DDoS Attacks: DDoS is an external attack that floods your website or service with phony web requests until it collapses. It is a favorite tool in the hacktivist arsenal because it is easy to use and easy to deploy. Take advantage of DDoS attack prevention methods that detect, block or redirect malicious traffic before it damages your operations.

Keep an Eye on Social: Hacktivism is all about image and one of the most effective ways of catching attention is to infiltrate your social media accounts. Keep a close eye on your social pages for any hint of hacker activity. Mistakes are highly visible and unapproved messages coming from your brand can negatively affect customer relations.

Knowledge Is King: Finally, it’s vital to educate your staff about the risk of cyberattack. Teach them the techniques necessary to keep their information and your business safe from hackers. As the famous philosopher and war strategist Sun Zu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Business

How Has Technology Changed Farming Over The Years?

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Technology has become a big thing in the world. No matter where you look, technology is everywhere and that isn’t going to be changing any time soon. We live in the age of tech, and if you can’t get behind it then you are going to be left behind while everyone else surges forward. This is exactly what has happened to the farming industry over recent years. Technology has made processes easier to complete, and generally made a positive impact on the industry as a whole. 

But. how has it done this? There are many different elements that make up farming, and tech has managed to ingrain itself in each and every one of them. 

Crop Genetics And Pest Management

While the idea of improving plant genetics isn’t new, it is made a lot easier by the development of technology in the field. Plant breeders have been working to improve germplasm to develop seeds that have the best mixture oc characteristics possible. As such, they can make sure they get the best yield when it comes to specific weather conditions and soil. It’s important to understand that the older methods are still used here, but they are also combined with a newer approach that involves the latest tech. 

Genetic engineering technology plays a huge part in this process, as it helps to improve a number of different things about the plant. By doing this, farmers are able to increase crop yields, making their farm more efficient. 

Mechanization

The new and improved farm equipment has had the most significant impact on the farming industry. It has drastically changed the way that farmers raise and care for their livestock, as well as growing plants. The heavy duty equipment such as tractors, combines, and planters all make their life a lot easier. If you need any old school products such as a G8P 12V 8 GPM Portable Fuel Transfer Pump then these are still available for farmers to purchase. It’s not to say that just because tech has come about it’s completely out with the old. 

The biggest benefit of mechanization is that farmers are now able to produce more from their farms with less labor. Saving farmers money, producing more to cater for the demand and all around making life much easier for those who are in this industry, tech has been a lifesaver in some ways. 

Specialization

When you think back to being a kid, do you remember the farms that you saw on TV? Well, that is how they used to be. There was a little bit of everything by way of animals, and certain crops were also grown depending on what kind of farm you had. With tech coming into the equation more and more, farms have become more specialized in recent years. 

When you visit a farm now, you are more likely to see one type of livestock being raised than a whole range of them. Back in the olden days, raising a range of different livestock was where the money was, but not anymore. Thanks to technology, focusing on one area rather than all of them is actually more profitable. It gives you the chance to acquire all of the tech that you need to focus on that one area, and it also means the farmer has more knowledge of it. Therefore, what is produced is a much higher quality than it would be otherwise. 

Livestock Genetics And Breeding

Humans have been domesticating animals for a long time now, and farmers used to select particular livestock, breeding them to adapt to certain conditions. Or, they would be bred with one purpose in mind: the end goal. The technology to aid this practice has come a long way in recent years, and now there are animal geneticists who work to identify the genes within animals and then enhance them for various reasons. 

Embryo transfer is gaining more and more popularity over recent years, especially in the dairy industry. This wouldn’t have been possible fifty year ago, and it is thanks to technology that it is possible now.

Now, you should understand a little more about how technology has changed farming over the years. There have been many changes to how farming used to be, ensuring that farmers can keep up with the rising demand from the market. Of course, it’s not easy to make all of these changes for farmers, especially the ones who have been used to doing things the old fashioned way. But, with technology at the forefront of almost everything that we do, it’s hardly surprising that it has made its way into the farming sector.

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How Will Roads Change As Logistics Become Automated?

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There have been a lot of big developments to be found inside the automated vehicle space over the last few years. With countless car companies throwing their hats into the ring, it’s only a matter of time until cars that don’t need drivers are able to spend more time on the road. Of course, though, personal transport is only one side of this, and the automated driving scene is much more likely to impact logistics in the short-term. But how exactly will this change the way that transport companies operate, and how will the roads you use be impacted by changes like this?

Increased Safety

Currently, many truck drivers have to push themselves to their limits to be able to get their work done. Long drives can easily be held up, but important deadlines can’t be missed without throwing off an entire schedule, and this leaves drivers having to miss sleep and drive long distances without breaks. A tacho card will usually be used to monitor this, making sure that drivers don’t break the law. Automated transport promises to solve problems like this, with digital machines never tiring and being able to work for days on end without having to take a break.

Greater Efficiency

Many transport companies have to use the roads at the same time as normal drivers to make sure that they can make their deliveries without pushing drivers too hard. This sort of approach wouldn’t need to be taken with automated vehicles, instead giving transport operators the chance to choose the quietest times to have their machines on the road. Alongside this, route planning can be more dynamic, with plans being changed on the fly to make up for things like traffic issues. Of course, though, as a big part of this, normal drivers may experience some strange behavior from the automated trucks that they see, especially when they are first starting to hit the road.

Convoys

While it may be something that changes in the future, transport companies are often more interested in systems that use convoys of trucks rather than simply sending trucks out on their own. This involves having a lead truck that is driven by a normal person, with several other trucks that tail safely behind it. This can make it much easier to have trucks follow specific routes without having to rely on GPS systems can lose signal or be disrupted in other ways. Of course, though, as a big part of this, many transport companies simply can’t afford the technology like this, and it could be a few more years until they start to be spotted when you’re out and about.

With all of this in mind, you should have a much better idea of how the automated logistics market is going to change roads over the next few years. The way that you drive will almost certainly change as time goes by, with more and more automated driving options becoming available all the time.

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Matica’s CEO Sandro Camilleri speaks about security in digital payments

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secure digital payments

One thing is for sure: the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many behaviors and trends that once were holding their pace. A great example can be found in digital payments and online shopping. According to Rakuten Intelligence, from March through mid-April, e-commerce spending in the United States increased more than 30% compared to the same period last year. When it comes to worldwide scores, it reaches the surprising increase of 74%.

Although books and cleaning products led the ranks mapped by Rakuten, specialists argue that digital payments and online shopping are here to stay, as much as it has already been observed in Asian countries. In this sense, securing financial transactions and protecting consumer data became a mandatory issue to be addressed both by companies and the government.

As a leading European company in the processing and printing of cards and identification documents for security systems, Matica Technologies is dedicated to granting safety and technological solutions to businesses dealing with financial transactions online. According to the CEO and founder of Matica, Sandro Camilleri, the advent of digital payments is a revolution similar to that which technology has caused and is currently causing in other areas, such as transports. “It is an inevitable revolution, which citizens will have to get used to, and which must therefore be managed in order not to risk unintended consequences, being the key issue obviously safety,” he argues.

Camilleri stresses that there are two different phases when it comes to digital payment security. A first one is about information and personal data storage, one of the greatest topics of our time and also a potentially enormous market sector. The second, less discussed though equally important, is guaranteeing strength and security for the financial transaction itself — and this is a purely technological issue. “The use of chips that are equipped with incredible memories, high precision lasers and holograms makes it extremely difficult, not to say impossible, for any attacker to clone a card produced by us. Secondly, the transaction must be secure thanks to specific and constantly updated software,” explains Matica’s CEO.

Now, when it comes to privacy, Camilleri states that people must be aware of what is at stake when data is leaked and why such occurrences are so alarming. With more and more appliances being automated and connected to computers and to the internet, such as is the case for cars and home security systems, cyberattacks could lead to consequences that are not only terrible, but tragic. 

In such situations, Matica’s CEO believes that only biometric data could spare individuals from having their systems hacked, though this data must be filed with care and used only for strictly necessary purposes. In any case, Camilleri argues that using biometrics is becoming day by day more inevitable with the increasing rhythm of automation, and this is a feature that can already be found in some of Matica’s available systems, such as is the case of the passport series.

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