Things

  • Recently, the US Department of Justice levied an indictment against three North Korean military hackers for their role in cyber-related crimes (see video below). These included (but not limited to): Targeting of and Cyberattacks on the Entertainment Industry: Such as the destructive cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in November 2014 in retaliation for the farcical movie The Interview. Cyber-Enabled Heists from Banks: Attempts to steal more than $1.2 billion from banks in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Malta and Africa. Creation and Deployment of Malicious Cryptocurrency Applications: Development of multiple malicious cryptocurrency applications including Celas Trade Pro, WorldBit-Bot, iCryptoFx, Union Crypto Trader, and more, which would provide the North Korean hackers a backdoor into the victims’ computers. Spear-Phishing Campaigns: Multiple spear-phishing campaigns that targeted employees of United States cleared defense contractors, energy companies, aerospace companies, technology companies, and more. Ransomware and Cyber-Enabled Extortion: Creation of the destructive WannaCry 2.0 ransomware in May 2017, and the extortion and attempted extortion of victim companies involving the theft of sensitive data and deployment of other ransomware. And it is to that last point that I thought a brief discussion on Ransomware would be warranted. Even Digital Batman’s own father was a victim of a ransomware attack that left him $400 poorer! In 2019 over 187.9 million users were affected by this bold malicious threat to online activities such as web‐surfing, e-commerce, gaming, and more. Put simply, this highly‐disruptive form of Internet‐viral malicious software (malware for short), not only infects your computer but holds all of your most precious files (i.e. photos, documents, apps, etc.) completely hostage—via permanently encrypting such files—until the victim is forced to pay a “ransom” to the criminal entity behind the attack for a decryption key to unlock the files. Usually to the tune of $100 ‐ $400 or more for...
  • In the battle of the Virtual Assistants (VA), it seems like everything else, there are too many choices. Alexa, SIRI, Google Assistant, and Cortana are practically household names at this point. While each has their particular set of benefits, no one AI (i.e. Artificial Intelligence, because that’s what we’re really talking about here) can fulfill every request made of it. With next year’s pending launch of my company’s (PTC) flagship PLM platform, Windchill (integrated with Microsoft Azure’s cloud solution)—facilitating manufacturers’ efforts to rollout NPIs (i.e. new product introductions)—I thought it would be interesting to explore some aspects of where VAs/AIs are these days in a practical sense from home to business. I’d venture to guess that most homes feature more than one VA. The Digtal Batman household runs both SIRI on our iPhones/iPod and AppleTV 4K, and we run an Echo Dot featuring Alexa. It’s interesting to note the significant differences for our needs. For example: Alexa comes in handy when playing music from Amazon Music Unlimited and radio broadcasts over IHeartRadio. Whereas, SIRI dials our phone numbers, reads our texts, provides us with navigation, and helps us search/navigate our Apple TV 4K streaming device. Conversely, like most PTC employees running Windows 10 on their laptops, Cortana can easily be enabled. But I think it would be a little weird if everyone in the open seating at Seaport HQ started talking into their computers all at once! Though I haven’t used “Okay Google” in a while, it does come in handy for general searches and navigating the plethora of online/cloud‐based productivity, calendar, and meeting tools available—especially if you’re using Google Chrome. And what’s really interesting is now each of these separate VA platforms are starting to work together: organizing calendars across different devices (like cell phones), providing email from multiple...