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Saturday, March 28, 2015         

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As its name suggests, ransomware is a class of malicious software that infects and restricts access to your computer until a payment is made. The method of infection is similar to that of phishing attacks and spreads through compromised websites and email containing malicious attachments or links.

The Sony hacking incident was a wake-up call, with countries attacking companies and other countries. Because the story is now off the front page doesn't mean hacking is less of a threat.

The residential solar space is in flux. If you're a consumer who would like to put photovoltaic (PV) on your roof and get relief from your electricity bill, it's not quite as simple as calling up a contractor and flipping a switch shortly after.

When 3-D printing first started receiving mainstream publicity a few years ago, the reaction was similar among most folks: "Cool … but for what can it really be used?" One area where the technology is taking off is at dental offices around the country, a place with which most folks are familiar.

Described by some as the third wave of the Internet, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology movement to enable network connectivity to devices, from household items such as light bulbs and televisions, to industrial equipment such as warehouse pallets and water pump sensors, to municipalities such as bus stop signs and parking meters. As these products are rushed to market, security features are often delayed or ignored.

Gov. David Ige wants to balance the budget and is not inclined to spend on new initiatives. But we have huge unfunded liabilities, largely in failed and delayed infrastructure, and it's time we figured out how we're going to pay the piper.

University of Hawaii researcher Bradley Willcox, a Canadian-born physician, is quite certain he lives in paradise. It's not the beaches, the weather or the surfing that has this geriatrician so enthralled.

Businesses and government agencies across the country continue to adopt Microsoft's Office 365 software productivity suite.

If you have an email address, you've probably been the target of a phishing scam. Online phishes are social attacks delivered through email or a website that attempt to scam potential victims into divulging sensitive information such as logins, passwords or personal information.

One hundred twenty-thousand Japa­nese, mostly U.S. citizens, were imprisoned behind barbed wire during World War II. Meanwhile, 20,000 Japa­nese were recruited to serve in the U.S. army — a huge contradiction, and a disgrace.

Keeping your data safe should always be a New Year's resolution. A recent front-page story in Consumer Reports bluntly stated "Your Secrets Aren't Safe." They have a point. Data thieves are after you — and protecting your computer, mobile devices and cloud-stored info is a necessity.

With all of the recent high-profile hacking incidents resulting in theft of data, many folks seem to overlook the most obvious and glaring exposure encountered by businesses and government agencies.

With countless data breaches occurring even at sizable companies like Sony, Home Depot and Target, it's evident that we need to better prepare and respond to data breaches. Preventive controls, such as anti-virus software, are not enough to stop breaches.

NextEra's multibillion-dollar acquisition of Hawaiian Electric is not only the biggest deal we've ever had; it's a test of how well we can adapt to offshore investment in our economy.

Every December we're overwhelmed with advertisements for bling and distracted in so many ways. It's easy to forget the greatest blessing is good health. With that in mind, we decided it was time to look at a device that could actually help us stay fit by tracking daily activity.

Ultra high-definition (UHD) televisions have been on the market for a couple of years now. Commonly referred to as "4K," these units promise twice the resolution of the standard 1080p televisions, which dominate the current market. So, should one rush out to get a 4K TV during this holiday season?

Today the cybersecurity field is growing rapidly, with more new and vital roles to fill in government and the private sector than the number of qualified applicants.

Have you ever wanted to ask a burning question at a meeting without identifying yourself? Now you can. LiveSift.com is a leader in, what shall we call it? "Meetingware." Over the past year it's been going quietly viral all over the state and beyond.

Remember back in the good old days when futurists were telling us how cool it would be to have your fridge wired to the Internet to keep track of your groceries? It elicited a big yawn or a rolling of the eyes from a lot of people.

In recent weeks a nasty form of virus has been re-circulating the business community. Colloquially known as "ransomware," this particular type of strain infects files on your computer and then offers to fix the problem for a fee in range of a few hundred dollars.

If you're not among the tens of millions of American consumers who have had their credit cards and other personal information breached in the last few months, you're in the shrinking minority. Forty million consumers were hit by the Target breach, 56 million at Home Depot.

Alan Oshima became chief executive officer of Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oct. 1. What is he getting into? These are rough times for HECO, beset by a public and a state Public Utilities Commission and Legislature that have been criticizing it on various issues.

If you've been reading our column of late, you'd have noted that we've reviewed several products related to making videos. One thing we failed to discuss is how to store all those huge files — especially if you're on the road.

Many have expounded on the phenomenon known as "the Internet of things." The idea is that everything from vacuum cleaners to refrigerators are now capable of being connected to, and controlled over, the World Wide Web.

This month marks the 11th anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Cyber Security Awareness Month, an effort designed to remind the public of the hazards they might face while using the Internet.

We need more parks on Oahu. We also need to come to terms on integrating rail into urban Oahu. Can parks and rail live on the same platform? Here in the best weather in the world, no one can say we live in a tree-lined, park-filled city.

Social media has become a marketing vehicle that small-business owners or managers of nonprofits simply can't ignore. From talking to readers of this column, I know there are many of you who feel like deer in the headlights when it comes to getting started with social media.

While tablet computers have become all the rage lately, many folks still have trouble taking advantage of portability and still maintaining productivity. A venerable Taiwanese-based PC manufacturer, Asus, attempts to bridge this gap with its recently introduced Transformer Book series.

Few people had heard the term "catfishing" before Manti Te'o famously revealed last year that he had been a victim of the scam, which involves people who create fake social media profiles to pursue online romances. But Te'o is hardly alone in being duped by fictitious online personas, and most instances of catfishing have far greater — and often financial — consequences.

If you hadn't noticed, Hawaii is an isolated island state dependent on connectivity. Our cable and broadband must be the best we can find. We need every megabit we can get. The faster it is, the less isolated we are.

I love to see local entrepreneurs do well, and anyone who reads this column knows that I've been a big fan of Box Jelly, the Kakaako-based co-working space, founded by former Chaminade student Tony Stanford and his friend, Rechun Fujihara.

You're starting a new business, launching a new product, or initiating a new ad campaign, and looking for that killer domain name. Unfortunately, given that there are literally hundreds of millions of domains registered, you find that yours is already taken.

News broke last week that a Rus­sian crime syndicate had amassed the largest known collection of Internet credentials, including 1.2 billion username-and-password combinations.

The Abercrombie administration claims one of its best accomplishments over the past fours years was the appointment of a chief information officer to modernize the state's ancient computer system.

YouTube has become an indispensable marketing vehicle for businesses of every size. That means to keep your enterprise in front of potential customers, making videos is a necessity. Shooting video is straightforward, but the editing part takes practice, time and the right tools.

By all accounts, the use of smartphones for everyday computing tasks has already overtaken that off traditional computers. This trend is only going to continue.

When news broke in late June about Facebook running unsanctioned psychological experiments on their user population in the name of science, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative.

GEMS, the Green Energy Market Securitization program proposed by the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, raises serious questions and should be a serious campaign issue.

One of the brightest stars in Hawaii's tech firmament is Ikayzo, a Hono­lulu-based Web and mobile app development company that focuses on financial institutions and enterprise-level firms here, on the mainland and Japan.

Over the years, many elements related to starting a business have remained constant: good ideas, a solid business plan and, of course, capital. When it comes to technology, however, cloud computing has made capital requirements lower than ever.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority was created to develop Kakaako three decades ago. Until now things haven't changed much. But now a land rush of towers is going up while you watch.

We all know about the unsafe (and illegal) use of cellphones in cars. While my preference is for the intuitive helper in Android 4.4, there is a lower-cost alternative.

Like cellphone users abandoning landlines, a recent trend we are seeing is businesses and government agencies abandoning file servers. Once ubiquitous, the file server is being replaced by cloud-based storage systems.

In recent columns I've advocated for the general use of password managers as a mechanism to improve your password hygiene. Password managers generate strong passwords on a per-site basis and store them.

Talk of diversification gets to sound like a broken rec­ord because we never do anything about it. As if to excuse the inaction, our economists say we should lie back and let the free market diversify us.

Having an effective Web presence and social media for your business is not just an option — it's an absolute necessity. There are no shortages of Web developers and "consultants" who can build you a website or manage your Facebook page.

As we roll into another hurricane season, many local information technology professionals turn their concern to disaster recovery. What are we going to do in case a big hurricane hits?

With the recent Heartbleed vulnerability blowing up in the news, it's a good time to remind everyone that good passwords, and good password hygiene, are critical for the long-term protection of you and your online accounts.

Like death and taxes, the rising price of energy of in the Aloha State is a constant that we have to live with. The other day I went over to Home Depot with the good intention of buying some energy-efficient light bulbs and power strips.

Seemingly out of the blue, Microsoft last week unveiled its Office for iPad productivity suite. While clearly a leader in terms of capabilities and functions among its peers, it is yet another salvo in Microsoft's battle to move the universe to its Office 365 cloud computing solution.

Since word broke last month that Target was ultimately breached through a connection it had established with one of its vendors, many businesses are taking a hard look at what kind of access they've granted to their own vendors.

Robbie Melton is the new chief executive officer of the Hawaii Tech Development Corp., the state agency charged with the development of our tech industry. She has her work cut out for her.

Let's face it. For years, tourism, construction and the military have been the big cash generators in our state. Hawaii has tried to encourage the growth of tech startups, but with limited success.

Many folks, especially those who work for large businesses or government agencies, are familiar with sometimes infuriating password policies. While such policies may seem onerous, overbearing or even nonsensical, a good policy significantly improves an organization's information security.

Many folks can't wait for tax season to kick off at the end of January so they can file their tax returns and get their refunds. But there's another group of people who are anxious to get started on your taxes, too: scammers.

It's been six years since the Clean Energy Agreement called for an undersea cable. Since then, progress has been disappointing. We've been talking about the cable and the smart grid since the agreement was made.

Here's the second of our home office upgrade series for the new year. Suggestion No. 1 is to consider a wireless router upgrade. The logical question is, Why even consider a new router if the old one is working? Good point.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is now a highly prevalent phenomenon, used by businesses and government agencies large and small. Other information technology-related "as-a-service" offerings are also becoming more and more popular.

For many of us it was a particularly stressful holiday season when Target announced it had been the victim of a computer breach that exposed 40 million credit card numbers and an additional 70 million records containing customer names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

The regents should make College Hill a place for the University of Hawaii faculty, not the president. So far, the keener we are for a president, the more we sweeten the pot. So we've been bidding against ourselves, and we've been paying too much.

For this new year it's back to basics. Without a solid tech foundation, your home office is not going to be productive or secure. Here are two recommendations — we'll have two more in our next column.

It is a given today that any business or government agency needs some sort of online presence. The need for a website varies widely, from e-commerce to social networking and product information.

Many of us woke up to new digital toys underneath the tree this Christmas, and with the new iPads flying off the shelves, there's a good chance a lot of us got one.

It's Christmas, and Ala Moana is bristling with new smartphones with the best consumer technology ever devised. Should you step up or put it off? The iPhone is only 6 years old, but the new apps and sensors have given it functionality beyond even what Steve Jobs might have expected.

We've heard a lot of controversy about genetically modified organisms over the last few months, and this Christmas we thought it appropriate to feature a Maui-hatched company that could revolutionize raising organic food both here and on the mainland.

During the holiday season it's important to be particularly wary of scams and other nefarious activities that tend to dominate the Internet at this time of the year.

On Dec. 4 the VC Summit and Startup Paradise Demo Day at the Sheraton Waikiki hopes to spark new interest in startups.

Cellphones are rapidly replacing land lines across Hawaii and the U.S. A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year showed that nearly 2 out of 5 American homes had cellular phones only. (The CDC tracks these statistics because it affects its health survey samples.)

It is commonplace nowadays for folks to be inundated with updates for their software applications, whether such applications sit on traditional computers or on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Last year's "Cyber Monday" — the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday — was the heaviest spending day of the year for the third straight year, ringing up nearly $1.5 billion in online sales. It was the first time that online sales topped the $1 billion mark.

With the help of state Sen. Will Espero, the Legislature and the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, October's Fashion Month has been a success.

Software applications are numerous. However, there are a few you simply cannot live without. I would argue the PDF is one of them. First introduced in the early 1990s by Adobe Corp., by the end of that decade, the "PDF" (Portable Document Format) eventually became the industry standard.

One of the more popular software-as-a-service (SaaS) options is email. Many organizations, large and small, have moved their email to the cloud, and many more are considering such a migration. There are both business and technical concerns to take into account when making this decision.

This October marks the 10th anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which was launched by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance to promote awareness about using the Internet responsibly.

This just in: The support we've been getting from Washington is no longer something we can rely on. We have to find new self-sufficiency at home.

Recently I got wind of a website called thewirecutter.com run by local entrepreneur Brian Lam. The website is a sort of a Consumer Reports that recommends the creme de la creme of consumer and business electronics.

Windows 8 was released just more than a year ago, evoking a collective groan from IT professionals and users alike. While much of the rumbling was due to the restyling of the interface, there were several outright bugs.

More people today are worried about the growing amount of personal information about them available on the Internet, according to a recent study by Pew Internet, a Washington D.C.-based think tank that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends.

It's been eight years since Al Gore's revelation. We spent the first four years in denial and the rest frozen in the headlights. Our generation will be remembered for not having been inconvenienced.

I've written about Ancestry.com in the past and think it's a great product for anyone interested in researching and creating a family tree. You can build the tree for free — you're charged only if you use the service's databases.

Proponents of the "big data" phenomenon like to talk about its promise and how it will revolutionize research and science as we know it.

Our nation is facing a critical shortage of skilled workers in the cybersecurity arena. A recent study discovered that more than 80 percent of the cybersecurity professionals in the U.S. are over 40 years old, and analysts expect that the number of jobs in this field will increase 28 percent in the next seven years. As our aging workforce looks toward retirement, the nation should consider how to cultivate the next generation of cyberwarriors.

On Bishop Street there's only one Robbie, and he's leaving his job as executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric Co. on Aug. 31. This is huge.

It's funny how we get attached to inanimate objects, but at a certain point, computers, printers, etc., outlive their "useful" lives. Recently I helped a colleague with his home office "makeover." It was clear his "appliances," from the computer on down, were in their death throes.

Microsoft recently disclosed that it took a nearly $1 billion write-down related to slashing the price of its Surface RT tablet computer.

Last week I was in San Diego, helping the National Institute of Standards and Technology develop a framework to secure the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyberthreats. NIST, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, was tasked by President Barack Obama to develop the framework when he issued Executive Order 13636 in February.

Of late, I sense push-back by a lot of people on so-called "technological advances." Once in a while, I'm happy to find technology that really does make life more enjoyable and my work easier to accomplish. I'm going to look at a couple of disparate items — both of which live in the cloud.

With the proliferation of so-called smartphones, folks are more and more dependent upon their mobile devices. In fact, many manufacturers want you to believe that your smartphone is a computer capable of making phone calls, as opposed to a phone with advanced capabilities.

I talk to many people in the local community about computer security, and one of the most common questions is, Why would a hacker want to attack my computer?

Last week my wife took me to Istanbul for a long-awaited vacation. I was impressed by how advanced the country is and had intended to write a column about tech in Turkey. Soon enough, however, I was caught up in the dramatic events at Taksim Square.

If you've been reading the past few columns, you'll note that I've focused on Hawaii's young entrepreneurs. However, startups are not confined to youth.

Since the dawn of history, man has endeavored to know why things happen. Generations have been devoted to determining root causes of countless phenomena.

On May 1, the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert warning of a pending cyberattack targeting high-profile U.S. government agencies and financial institutions. The initiative was dubbed "OpUSA" by its instigators,

We've lost so many things in recent years: an airline, an interisland ferry, a second daily paper, a symphony, a refinery, Dan Ino­uye.

We started paying attention to BoxJelly, the 307-A Kamani St.-based co-working spot in Kakaako, back in 2011.

"Big data" is the latest in a long line of new technologies to take the world by storm. While the promise of big data is as grand as its moniker, many wonder how to get started on such an endeavor.

Ransomware is a type of malware that some analysts predict will be the most prevalent in 2013. Hackers use it for a number of scams, including planting pornographic images on computers and "locking" them, making it impossible to use or shut down the devices without pulling the power cable.

We all know water is getting scarce around the world. The population is growing by more than 75 million persons a year. Demand for water is growing twice as fast.

Shannon Pierce is a striking person. She's tall, blond, smart and entrepreneurial. A former attorney with Wilson Sonsini, a top Silicon Valley law firm, she's now at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel, where she is counsel in the areas of technology transactions and intellectual property.

Often referred to as a choice between “best of breed” and “single vendor,” both sides offer compelling arguments. The arguments for single vendor focus on compatibility and cost.


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