Tech News for June 2

Salesforce Acquires Demandware for $2.8 Billion

CRM giant Salesforce continued its investment in cloud technology today with the announcement that it has agreed to acquire enterprise cloud commerce provider Demandware for $2.8 billion. The company will become part of Salesforce’s Customer Success Platform, which helps companies connect with their customers using new technologies and platforms.
Demandware offers a variety of enterprise services through the cloud, including digital commerce, order management, predictive intelligence and point of sale. Prior to the acquisition, the company had counted several global brands among its clients, including Design Within Reach, Lands’ End, L’Oreal, and Marks & Spencer.

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Attack on Electrical Grid Could Collapse Economy

It was like something from a Hollywood movie, but it was real. At about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 23, a computer in an electricity distribution center in western Ukraine seemed to take on a life of its own. While a helpless worker watched, the cursor on the screen moved by itself and clicked on a box that opened a series of circuit breakers — a move that would take the entire power station offline. When a dialogue box appeared asking for confirmation of the command, the ghostly cursor moved again and completed the action. Reaching frantically for the mouse, the worker tried to abort what was happening, but the computer was being controlled from elsewhere. In all, about 30 substations were taken out of commission and 225,000 customers were suddenly cut off from the power supply. It marked what is believed to be the world’s first successful cyber-attack on a nation’s power grid.

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Ransomware is working, and the cybercrooks know it

The number of internet domains serving up ransomware has risen massively in just the space of three months, as cybercriminals look to cash in. Sites designed to host malware, exploit kits, phishing scams, and other threats have also reached their highest-ever level, according to security researchers at Infoblox. In raw numbers, exploit kits remain the biggest security threat, accounting for just over 50 percent of the index. As in past quarters, Angler remains the top piece of ransomware, but a new contender has emerged from far back in the pack: observations of Neutrino have grown by 300 percent, the researchers said. “Again in simple terms: Ransomware is working,” the report said.

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Long Beach’s Tech and Innovation Department Recognized for Tech Use with National Award

The CIO Awards have selected Long Beach’s Tech and Innovation Department for a national award regarding its use of technology in creating and delivering business value, the city announced today. Long Beach was reportedly the only city recognized for the award, called the CIO 100 award, among a group consisting of companies like Aflac, Dell, Hilton, Intel and Wells Fargo. “Long Beach is using technology and innovation to increase business efficiency, improve health outcomes and safety, and help residents communicate more efficiently with City Hall,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “Long Beach is growing and evolving,” said Bryan Sastokas, chief information officer for the City of Long Beach in a statement. “This award is a great example of the Mayor and City Council’s dedication toward innovation technology that allows the City to deliver genuine business value.

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Anonymized Data Really Isn’t Anonymous: Vehicle Data Can Easily Be Used To Identify You

Companies increasingly hoover up larger and larger oceans of consumer data, promising that security and privacy aren’t much of a worry because data is “anonymized.” But as research has shown time and time again, anonymous data isn’t all that anonymous — since it takes only a modicum of effort to either analyze the data — or cross reference it with other data — to ferret out personal identities. It doesn’t really matter whether we’re talking about NSA surveillance troves or social networking data: anonymous data just isn’t anonymous. As yet another example of this, researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California at San Diego have found that the data collected by a car’s onboard computer can be surprisingly personal. In fact it’s so personal, the researchers found that they could identify a driver — from a possible list of fifteen drivers — just by looking at data collected from the brake pedal alone.

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California, other Western states leave more than $133M in FCC E-Rate funds unclaimed

In Western states, more than a hundred million dollars in federal funding for school and library broadband projects went unclaimed in fiscal year 2014, according to Gary Rawson, chairman of the State E-Rate Coordinators Alliance. At the National Association of State Technology Directors Western Region conference, Rawson presented data showing that the 10 states in the region — Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota and Wyoming — failed to claim more than $133 million in grant money from the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program. That is just over 26 percent of the total $500 million that was committed to the states.

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Agencies open up to OpenStack

Three out of four government IT professionals in a new poll say their agencies are now using cloud computing services. The new survey also found that a significant portion of the respondents have favorable perceptions about the cost, security and ease of deploying the popular open source software platform, OpenStack, for their on-premises cloud computing initiatives. The findings indicate that open source technology, like OpenStack, is coming into wider use within government agencies, with about one-fourth of government respondents reporting that their agencies currently use open source technology for their on-premises cloud services. The technology manages large clusters of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter as an alternative to using proprietary cloud software.

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Prison Industry Authority Seeks CMAS Vendor for Tech Recovery Services

The California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) is seeking a CMAS-certified vendor to provide technology recovery services for a one-year period. The contractor will provide a risk management plan, risk analysis, testing and exercises, monthly status reports, and a plan for selecting a third-party technical recovery provider, among many other tasks. The work will be done in Folsom, Calif., through a deliverables-based contract. Responses to the RFO are due June 17.

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Campaign and Lobbying Database Upgrade Gets Go-Ahead from State Senate

The state Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would authorize the Secretary of State to upgrade California’s campaign and lobbying database, a system one senator described as “put together with duct tape.” Bill author Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, urged senators to support a much-needed rebuild of the antiquated online campaign and lobbying database known as Cal-Access. “We’ve seen recently story after story of that system that’s put together with duct tape and bailing wire, so to speak, fail,” Hertzberg said.

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Effort to Build a Smarter Transportation Network Takes a Giant Step Forward

The end of congestion brings many tantalizing promises: safer roads, less pollution, a better life for people in low-income neighborhoods. The technology to make that happen — intelligent transportation — always seemed to be just around the corner. Until now. The effort to build a smarter transportation network, which could put a big dent in congestion, is taking a step forward in the form of one gigantic carrot the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is dangling in front of America’s cities.

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NIST asks for help recovering corrupted data

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is looking for products and expertise to help organizations reliably recover corrupted or destroyed data. The search is being conducted by NIST’s Data Integrity project, which is part of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence. The project is working to develop ways organizations can prevent or recover from data loss or alteration resulting from malware or human error. In a Federal Register notice posted Wednesday, NIST says it wants to learn more about ways to deal with lost or corrupted data.

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Driverless Car Testing May Spark a Tech Transformation for One California Town

It looks like something from a Cold War nightmare — a ghost town uninhabited for decades, abandoned after a nuclear war, overgrown with weeds and deathly silent. Single-pane windows crack and crumble to concrete floors below. Trees sway lazily in front of a building that could have been an elementary school. A single car, an Acura RLX, turns a corner. On the road in front of it stands a figure: pale white, motionless, with a black and yellow duffel bag at his feet. He might be waiting for a friend to pick him up. He doesn’t move as the Acura approaches, and so the car swerves to avoid him.

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