China bans Apple products from government purchases: Report

BEIJING: China has prohibited government agencies from purchasing Apple Inc hardware products due to security concerns, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday, citing government officials familiar with the matter.

Ten Apple products including versions of the iPad tablet and MacBook laptop have been omitted from a government procurement list distributed by China’s National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Finance, Bloomberg News said. They were included in a June draft, according to the report.

The ban would apply to all central and local agencies in China, Bloomberg News said.

Reuters could not immediately reach officials at the NDRC and finance ministry for comment. Apple spokespeople in China did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The report comes after the Chinese government published a software procurement list last week that excluded foreign anti-virus vendors like Kaspersky Lab and Symantec Corp , which had previously sold software to Chinese agencies.

China, citing security concerns, has increasingly sought to limit the use of US technology over the past year following revelations by Edward Snowden of widespread US government spying.

State-run China Central Television said in a report in June that location-tracking software on Apple’s iPhone could potentially lead to the disclosure of state secrets. Apple said in response that it has never allowed and will never allow governments access to its servers.


Is your CRM not working for you?

By Kate Leggett

CIOs, very often, have quires for CRM, which go something like this: “we implemented a CRM solution from Vendor X, and it doesn’t work. Nobody is using it, and when they are forced to use it, it is slowing them down instead of making their life easier. Are there solutions from Vendor Y or Z that would do a better job for us?”

The answer goes something like this: “CRM solutions are mature. Most vendor solutions are chock full of features and functions – probably more than you would ever need. Your CRM is not supporting your needs, perhaps, because:

1) You don’t have crisp definitions of your processes, the stages within processes, and the exit criteria to move to the next stage (ex. what are your criteria to promote a lead to an opportunity? Are they the same for all business units?)
2) You have implemented your CRM without doing any customisation or configuration. As a result, your organizational processes are not well supported in your CRM.
3) You have not paid attention to your data quality. Users don’t trust the data that they use.
4) You haven’t spent the time to integrate other systems to your CRM, so you cannot empower your customer facing personnel with all the information they need from your CRM. It’s not helping them get their job done easier or faster.
5) You don’t have the right reports available to your end users to allow them to measure their performance.
6) You haven’t focused on usability or the user experience. The UI is probably not role based, or tailored to what your users need, and you haven’t thought though the actual data elements that are important to your users at the various stages of your processes.
Sound familiar?

A Forrester survey, conducted in partnership with CustomerThink, of 650 business professionals and IT leaders who had been involved in a CRM technology project last year it was found that:

1) Nearly half of survey respondents had faced problems grounded in poor or insufficient definition of business requirements, inadequate business process designs, and the need to customise solutions to fit unique organizational requirements.
2) More than two-fifths said that their problems were the result of people issues, such as slow user adoption, inadequate attention paid to change management and training, and difficulties in aligning the organizational culture with new ways of working.
3) Two-fifths had challenges related to their CRM strategy, such as a lack of clearly defined objectives, poor solution deployment practices, and insufficient solution governance practices.

What does this all mean? Choosing CRM solution is an important step. But it is not enough to ensure success with your CRM project. A CIO must pay attention to CRM strategy, processes, and people factors to ensure success. He must take the time to understand how he will use CRM to generate business value, and spend the time to ensure a perfect fit into your organisation. He just can’t shoehorn a vendor solution without configuration, customisation or integration into operations, and think that it is going to work.

The author is VP, Principal Analyst Serving Application Development and Delivery Professional at Forrester. The article was first published on Forrester.


Why consumers feel more empowered about privacy

By Fatemeh Khatibloo

The tide is turning on privacy. Since the earliest days of the World Wide Web, there has been an increasing sense that the Internet would effectively kill privacy – and in the wake of the NSA PRISM program revelations, that sentiment was stronger than ever. Forrester found that attitudes on privacy are evolving: Consumers are beginning to shift from a state of apathy and resignation to caution and empowerment.
A recently published Forrester report says that in the past year, individuals have 1) become much more aware about the ways in which organizations collect, use, and share personal data and 2) have started to change their online behavior in response:

Of course, even now, consumers demonstrate a wide range of attitudes toward an understanding of data privacy: Some individuals tune out technology news, while others struggle to navigate the legalese of the average privacy policy. But this lack of understanding shouldn’t be taken as apathy – as knowledge gaps close, individuals seek out companies that actually work to win their customers’ trust.

This research further emphasizes that the concept of privacy is redefined. CIOs need to provide transparency and choice about data collection and usage practices or risk losing customers.

It’s time to leverage qualitative and quantitative insights to understand customers’ privacy attitudes, adjust practices accordingly, and prioritize privacy and preference on business planning agenda.

Fatemeh Khatibloo is principal analyst serving consumer insights professionals at forrester. This article was first published on Forrester.

Microsoft may become first MNC to set up cloud data centre in India

BANGALORE: Microsoft said it is considering setting up its first data centre in India – the fastest growing cloud markfor the software giant. The company will become the first multinational to set up a data centre in the country if the plans fructify.

“We are considering a data centre in India. There are a lot of different companies that are looking at cloud right now, in anticipation that Microsoft will somehow figure out how to get that work,” said Jim Dubois, corporate VP and CIO at Microsoft. Currently, the company offers cloud computing services to Indian customers through its global data centres.

However, RBI guidelines prohibit storing any customer data outside of India, which limits cloud adoption by financial services company. Cloud services are the fastest growing segment for Microsoft, though it contributes less than 5% to Microsoft’s overall revenue as of now. “It (cloud services) is growing double, triple digit every month, not every year,” Dubois said. According to Gartner, public cloud services market in India is expected to grow from $423 million ( Rs 2,550 crore) in 2013 to $1.3 billion ( Rs 7,800 crore) in 2017. Gartner expects India to be the fastest growing market for cloud adoption globally.

Despite this, none of the large cloud computing companies, including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, has so far built a local data centre. Microsoft has 13 data centres globally to serve its cloud services while Amazon has eight and Google 12. In Asia, all three companies have data centres in Singapore, but none in Mainland China or India.

Unpredictable power supply, patchy internet connectivity, limited bandwidth and unreliable optical fibre connectivity between different parts of the country have so far prevented these companies from setting up data centre in the country. However, with cloud adoption rapidly increasing, this is set to change.

“Over the last couple of years, the groundwork has been done in terms of Indian customers understanding nuances in public cloud. We are hearing about Amazon considering setting up a data centre in India but nothing has happened yet,” said Naveen Mishra, research director at Gartner.

Gartner believes that changes in political and economic scenario have triggered positive sentiment for making such investments in India. “With high optimism, everyone is of opinion that enterprises will invest more into expansion and they will have to leverage IT for growth,” Mishra said.

Oxford and Cambridge in the race to eliminate passwords

More novel approaches to authentication have been gaining media attention this week, each linked to major universities.

Cambridge University are working on a technology-oriented approach where multiple small devices create an “electronic aura”, enabling a main device to transmit a unique identification signal.

Meanwhile a company spun out of an Oxford University programme is developing morebiomechanical methods of recognising humans, and indeed specific people, based on the way they move, behave and interact with devices.

The problem of authentication is central to secure use of computers and the internet. Our machines and services need to know we are who we claim to be, if they are to ensure only the right people can access their stuff.

Passwords are woefully flawed

As we are frequently reminded, our current methods of authentication are woefully flawed. Our reliance on passwords leaves us open to all sorts of risks.

We choose them badly, we’re not good at remembering them, we reuse them across different sites. Companies struggle with appropriate policiesinternally, and websites, even major brands, don’t enforce strong rules either.

Passwords are regularly leaked in data breaches and need to be reset, withsloppy approaches to alerting people putting them further at risk.

Even where two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security, it is often shunned as too fiddly and time-consuming.

So we keep trying to come up with better approaches. We’ve heard aboutimplants, recognition of biological features such as fingerprints, faces,heartbeats, even vein patterns.

Major cross-industry alliances are working to make sense of all these options, and produce a unified framework to support them, but it remains a chicken-and-egg problem – no single scheme can really take off without widespread adoption, and widespread support won’t be provided until an approach is well-established, trusted and used by significant numbers.

Adding further to the list of potential saviours, Cambridge University’s Pico project posits a small device storing your credentials for various things – not just websites, but ATMs, cars and anything else we need to authenticate ourselves to.

Miniature secondary devices for authentication

The device connects as and when needed to confirm the identity of its owner, but will only do so in the presence of a collection of miniature secondary devices referred to as “Picosiblings”, worn on the body or clothing.

This solves the main problem of using biological information such as retina patterns or fingerprints, that they cannot be changed once compromised or forged, and avoids the issues of a single identifying item, which could simply be stolen.

The Pico setup would require all the items be stolen, which might be fairly easy with a phone-sized device, but the pickpocket’s job would be considerably harder if he also needed a ring, a pair of glasses, and few micro-devices embedded in clothing or carried in a pocket or wallet.

To make it all the more difficult, there’s no reason part of the aura couldn’t be embedded in the body itself.

Spoofing by relaying the signals from the real user to a stolen device is prevented by requiring close proximity of the devices, measured by checking the response times from inter-device communication.

The main device would be programmable, and backed up so it could easily be replaced if lost – a stolen device on its own would be safe as the highly sensitive data on it would be inaccessible without the ancillary “aura”.

Sounds good so far, but there are likely to be a number of other potential risks to address – the project remains at the development stage.

The setup is also complex, relies on hardware which is unlikely to be cheap, and requires the user to remember all the bits that make up their aura for it to work.

These factors may make it unlikely to be universally adopted, but it could well be an acceptable approach for those requiring very secure access to a wide range of things.

Considerably less reliant on human effort, the “eDNA” concept from Oxford BioChronometrics instead uses the stuff we’re all doing anyway.

It apparently takes a large number of small measures of how we interact with devices – typing speeds and patterns, mouse movements, swiping motions on touchscreens, presumably much more detailed data on how we move around from motion-sensitive hardware – and uses them to compute a unique fingerprint with which to identify a person.

Trials underway by ‘a major household name’

The company, which originated in a startup programme run by the University of Oxford but which is now based in Luxembourg, offers a variant of its technology as a free WordPress plugin designed to eliminate comment spam from bots, and the full authentication system is at an advanced stage of development with trials apparently underway with at least one unnamed “major household name”.

This seems pretty close to the panacea for password replacement, with no extra hardware required and no active effort needed at the user end.

Again adoption is the issue though, and the proof of the pudding will be in how easy such an approach is to implement and operate, and how secure it remains against the endlessly inventive imaginations of attackers.

It seems like we’re unlikely to run out of choices for better, safer, simpler methods of authentication any time soon.

With such a diverse range of options available, it’s also unlikely that any single approach will become widespread enough to achieve a dominant position for quite a while.

But if enough services start supporting a range of these approaches, then they’ll start to be properly tested, both for ease of operation and security, in real widespread use.

Then we may start to see some, possibly many, achieve real penetration into all our lives, and eventually the slow death of tired old methods.

As organisations, we can hurry this process along by investigating these new technologies and seeing which might work, which would fit our environments and requirements to provide viable methods of authenticating our employees, users or customers.

As users or customers, we can help by keeping an open mind and trying out these new approaches to see which ones work best for us, which fit our lifestyles and usage patterns the best, which make us feel the most secure.

It’s going to be a long process, but we’ll get there one day.

‘IoT’ is full of major security holes for hackers to find

The surge of Web-connected devices — TVs, refrigerators, thermostats, door locks and more — has opened up huge opportunities for cyberattacks because of weak security, researchers said Tuesday.

A study by the Hewlett-Packard security unit Fortify found 70 percent of the most commonly used “Internet of Things” devices contain vulnerabilities, including inadequate passwords or encryption, or lax access restrictions.

“While the Internet of Things will connect and unify countless objects and systems, it also presents a significant challenge in fending off the adversary given the expanded attack surface,” said Mike Armistead, vice president and general manager for Fortify’s enterprise security.

“With the continued adoption of connected devices, it is more important than ever to build security into these products from the beginning to disrupt the adversary and avoid exposing consumers to serious threats.”

The study comes amid recent security warnings about hacking of medical devices, cars, televisions and even toilets that have an Internet connection.

The researcher scanned the most popular devices and their cloud components and found on average 25 vulnerabilities per device. These products included TVs, webcams, home thermostats, remote power outlets, sprinkler controllers, hubs for controlling multiple devices, door locks, home alarms, scales and garage door openers.

The study said eight of 10 devices tests leaked private information that could include the user’s name, email address, home address, date of birth, credit card or health information.

Most of the devices lacked passwords, making it easier for hackers or others to gain access while some included simple default passwords such as “1234.”

Some 70 percent of the devices analyzed failed to use encryption for communicating with the Internet and local network, another weakness that makes for easy outside access.

HP said that while demand for these devices is surging, security has failed to keep pace, and this “opens the doors for security threats” from a variety of sources.

The study said some estimates indicate as many as 26 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

“Fortunately, there’s still time to secure devices before consumers are at risk,” the report said.

Top ten ways to have a productive life

How happy do you feel with life at the end of a long hard day? Do you feel complete and fulfilled, satisfied with what you have achieved? Or do you feel empty and disappointed, angry at yourself for not being distracted easily? Perhaps your life is composed of good days and bad, times when you have felt both those things. Perhaps it is not days you think of in particular, but life in general that you feel is short-changing you. But little things matter. It is the days that lead to years and how you choose to spend them will have a telling effect on how your life turns out.


We all know that implementing certain habits and ways will make our day far more productive than what we usually manage on a regular basis. We also know that we will be better off by doing so. Then what is the barrier that comes in between us and our goals? The answer is simple. It is the human mind. The mind is very good at making excuses and convincing the person why they should not do something. It is why most diets don’t work or why New Year resolutions do not get fulfilled. The mind is a master manipulator and procrastinator. It is extremely reluctant to step out of its comfort zone, the resultant victim being You. If you try out these top ten tips for having a productive day, you have to shut put your mind. For a while at least. Concentrate on cold hard logic and reasoning. By doing so for a considerable length of time, you will have cultivated such good habits that having productive days every day will become a norm. Even your mind won’t be dissuading you any more, since it will have adapted to your new ways. So what are you waiting for? Shut out the traitorous mind and follow your heart. A new and improved quality of life awaits.

10. Be Disciplined


There was a time when I detested everything about the word Discipline. I was a student and not the master of my own choices. One had to be disciplined to study, bathe, eat, sleep and pee. I remember feeling so liberated when I moved to college and decided discipline will have nothing more to do in my life. The first few months passed by in a haze of independence. Then slowly the changes started registering. The slowed tired body, always sleepy, lack of appetite, insomnia at night, terrible grades, procrastination and lack of overall enthusiasm. The decision to be self-disciplined was very hard to take. It went beyond every grain of belief I held that creativity cannot be bound by the rigours of discipline and that life is best lived spontaneous. Now, a couple of years later, I am a sworn fan of the disciplined way of life. The way it allows one to manage tasks, cultivate good habits and improve health and wellness, it actually allows for way more spontaneity and creativity than an ill disciplined life ever could. Try it. You won’t be disappointed.

9. Wake Up Early

Wake up early

When in a recent comment Jennifer Lawrence said that she goes to sleep by eleven pm every night, I was surprised at the number of eyebrows raised at the statement. In modern times it has become something of an embarrassment to admit to going to sleep early. But don’t compromise with your body and your productivity in an effort to be cool. Studies show that people who wake up early lead far more full and productive lives than ones who are night owls. The human body is naturally acclimatized with the cycle of the sun. When you stay awake till late in the night, it is a strain your body can ill afford. If you manage to wake up early, you will perfectly synced with the world around you. It is a wonderful way to start the day and an amazing way to be productive throughout.

8. Exercise


A sharp and witty mind is of little consolation if the body is ill and sluggish. You will be at the top of your productive game when a fit and healthy body accompanies that sharp clear mind of yours. Most of us lead sedentary lifestyles being cooped up in air conditioned offices or classrooms and libraries. An enormous number of gadgets at our disposal also ensure minimum human effort where daily duties are concerned. All you need to do is exercise twenty minutes a day to increase blood flow and keep the body in good shape. The more time you add to this activity, the better you will look and feel. Your skin will look great, you will have increased stamina, your chances of various diseases will decrease considerably and your lifespan will increase tenfold. If going to the gym bores you to death, try walking, jogging, hiking, jumping rope, yoga. Aerobics, salsa dancing, swimming, kick boxing or playing a favourite sport. If you feel you have time for none of these, then even doing strenuous household chores will take care of your daily exercise needs.

7. Breakfast


This has been said before. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How you choose to start your day will determine how productive you are. Waking up early with plenty of time in hand to go about your morning ablutions versus kicking the alarm clock aside and snatching a few extra zzzzz…. Though the latter sounds more attractive, it will rob you of the time to sit and enjoy a power packed meal that will fuel your body throughout the day. Breakfast should be a nutritious meal full of proteins, vitamins and some carbs. Having energy in the first half of the day is so important because it determines the pace of your work. If you are feeling tired, hungry and crabby, as missing breakfast will make you feel, you will not make any worthwhile headway in your work. As the day passes, your stress will only mount, ensuring you finish it on an awful note. If you miss breakfast chronically, then it will have serious health implications in the long run. Sit down to a meal of oats, fruits, brown bread and beans or eggs in the morning and feel good throughout the day.

6. Prioritize


This simple tip, if followed religiously, will remove stress magically from your life. It will also ensure that your work is top quality. Target to do the most important things first and the easier tasks later. The serial procrastinator that I was, this seemed horrific at first. My scheme of operation was exactly the opposite. But finishing off my favourite things first gave me nothing to look forward to at the end except mountains of unlikeable work. It was especially hard to accomplish anything worthwhile with such a negative outlook. In the morning, when your mind is fresh and the day long and wide, finish off difficult and important tasks. They take longer. This way you will be able to devote more time and research to them. Keep the fun easy stuff for later. You will have a blast doing it, knowing that no backlog will haunt your dreams.

5. Organize


Organization is a crucial element of productivity. Keep your things clutter free and in specific places meant only for them. This goes for your stationery, clothes, shoes and other important things. Not only will this maximise space and comfort, you won’t have to spend valuable time looking for things you might have misplaced. Chart out your schedule clearly. Meetings, memos, tasks and duties should all have a clearly designated time. By leading a well-organized life not only will you be able to exploit your productivity to its complete potential, it will also reduce friction and tension in your tasks and interactions.

4. Routine


This tip goes hand in hand with the organization and prioritization tips. By routine, I don’t mean chalk out every second of every day of your life. But do have a clear drawn out itinerary of your day and what you will roughly be doing at what points of time. Keep enough time for recreation and leisure activities, but schedule the important tasks at the beginning of the day. The principle difference between prioritizing and routine is that the former can be changed on a daily basis. However the routine should be similar for all regular days. Your body will accustom itself to meal times, sleep habits, relaxation and busy periods of work. Your routine should be functional, but not necessarily rigid. Make what changes you want to within the bounds of a flexible framework. As you completely master a certain routine for your life, you will find yourself accomplishing tasks much faster than before and doing them far more efficiently. The combo of discipline, routine, priority and organization will make a magical productive being out of you, you’ll see.

3. Recreation


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Your day should be a balance of work and play. Periods of recreation will boost positive moods, give a much needed break from work and spurt enthusiasm. By recreation I don’t mean face booking. Social media is a magnetic world and will draw you in, make you lose sense of time. Try to spend at less time online on interactions as possible. Catch up on reading, follow a hobby, listen to music, play with your children and pets or simply sit alone and reflect in solitude. Engaging in pleasurable and positive activities will enhance your creativity, thereby increasing your productivity by default.

2. Love What You Do

Love what you do

Renowned filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor said that he dropped the word career from his vocabulary at the age of twenty four. Today he is a much happier man because of it. His accomplishments speak for themselves. Take a page from his book. Do what you love and love what you do. When you wake up in the morning, the thought of the day ahead should excite you. You should feel stimulated at the tasks that lie ahead. Your brain should welcome the challenge and your heart should revel at the thought of doing things it loves. If you have to drag yourself out of bed with a groan and talk yourself into facing a gruelling day, then know that you are doing something wrong. Life is too short to be miserable. Either change your attitude or change your life. Mary Poppins said that for everything that has to be done, there’s a fun way of doing it. Though in the movie it applied only to little children, I don’t think why adults should be exempt from it. When you are following your dreams and passion in life, then it becomes infinitely more easy to be productive than if you were forcing yourself to do something you don’t really like.

1. Eyes on the Goal

Eyes on the goal

Ultimately, days are not isolated components of your life. The intention behind mastering the art of having productive days is to have a happy and successful life. Thus, the best way to keep having such days is to keep your eyes on the goal. You are reading this article because you want advice on how to live your life a certain way. Something propelled that decision. Whenever you are on the point of wavering, remind yourself of that reason. For me it was when I had a nasty epiphany. I realized that if I kept living my life exactly as I do now, then in three years’ time, nothing would change. Though I had a bevy of goals and lists planned, none of them would ever see the light of the day if I changed nothing and continued to live my days exactly as I do them now. Don’t let the idea of a mediocre future intimidate you. Tackle the problem at the grassroots. Take each day as it comes, focus on doing the small little tasks well. The big things will automatically take care of themselves. When you tire of the monotony or want to break the rules for a spot of fun, think of the goal you have in mind and how your actions will affect the consequences. No harm in enjoying yourself every once in a while. But when the exception becomes the routine, that’s when you have to be cautious.

work fast fnf