Technology

Addressing weak links in a cyber world

We live in a cyber world with a vast array of technologies used by industries, organizations, governments, and people. This reliance on technology saves time and provides cost efficiencies to consumers and businesses, including businesses critical to our national infrastructure. However, the ever-growing scope, sophistication, and organization of cyber attacks demands that government, businesses and American consumers take an active role in cybersecurity.

The connectivity provided by the Internet has benefits and drawbacks, and both demand understanding and action from each stakeholder to ensure the overall system is protected. Without holistic implementation of security principles, bad actors and criminals will simply exploit the weakest link.

Because of this, Congress, in its debate over cybersecurity legislation, should take a comprehensive approach, to determine appropriate security standards for all businesses, and as a result, provide more effective protection to consumers.

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A Web divided? Not on cybersecurity

Critics are trying to portray the tech community as split or opposed to cybersecurity bills moving through Congress. They are wrong. The tech sector is 100 percent behind the effort to strengthen America’s cybersecurity defenses. It’s in the best interest of America and Americans.
 
Quite simply, cybersecurity is personal security.
 
Last year, personal information – names, addresses, Social Security numbers, credit card information, and the like – represented 95 percent of all the data compromised by cyber intrusion. Criminals used this data for identity theft, phishing campaigns, and other fraud. We have an opportunity to provide people with stronger shields against these crimes by building defenses that are fast, flexible, and adaptive to the threats we face each day.

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Message to Congress: Space junk is serious business

This week’s National Space Symposium galvanized the aerospace community around a theme critical to our planet: space situational awareness, which – in short – is an understanding of the escalating danger of space junk and the risk this poses to the growing traffic in Earth’s orbit.
 
This space debris isn’t just the humorous – astronaut gloves, for instance – dropped inadvertently from shuttles past, floating harmlessly by the International Space Station. Rather, these bits of debris include defunct satellites, fragments left behind from earlier orbital collisions, or even lost tools from astronaut repair jobs that hurl through space at speeds up to 17,000 miles per hour. At this rate, even a small particle can pose dire consequence to lives and infrastructure should it collide with one of our critical satellites.

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What Google Monopoly?

​What’s that creaking, cracking, croaking, crumbling noise that can be heard all the way from Silicon Valley, California past Washington, D.C to Europe?

​It’s the sound of the antitrust authorities’ case against Google creaking, cracking, croaking, crumbling, and collapsing into a pile of regulatory-redux rubble.

​The sound of collapse is borne on the news that Google’s archival, Facebook, is planning to move aggressively into the search business.

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For cybersecurity, let bipartisanship succeed

When Congress returns from recess, expectations of what it can accomplish this year will remain low. The 112th Congress has not been very productive thus far, and significant achievements will only grow more difficult as the next election nears. But, believe it or not, there are a few remaining glimmers of bipartisan hope in 2012. One of which is passing cybersecurity legislation.



Cyber efforts haven’t garnered much press so far for two simple reasons. First, unlike the budget and the Keystone XL pipeline, cyber proposals only recently became mired in entrenched political partisanship. And second, it’s an issue that isn’t well understood.



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Future innovation needs public-private balance

From the days of Edison and the Wright brothers to our own generation’s Burt Rutan and Steve Jobs, scientific innovation and technological advancement have always provided the basis for our country’s economic engine. These advancements have forever changed the way we live and the way we do business. They have been the sources of job creation, wealth and America’s place as a world leader.
 
Past generations understood that significant technological breakthroughs come at a price. Each dollar spent on research and development was an investment with risks and rewards, and often the list of successes paled in comparison to the failures that piled up along the way. Ours is a nation that has always believed the rewards outweighed the risks; that there is true value in investing in science and technology research. We cheered the innovative. We championed the entrepreneurial. We rooted for those who dared dream making possible the impossible. And we’ve reaped the economic and societal benefits many times over. 

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The ultimate crash avoidance system

In 2010, drunk driving represented 31 percent of all highway deaths, equating to 10,228 lives lost. Another 350,000 people were injured in drunk-driving crashes. The cost of this epidemic to our country was $132 billion. However, to me, these aren’t just numbers. My 15-year-old daughter, Alisa, was killed in a drunk driving crash. And while drunk-driving deaths have been reduced by more than half in the 32 years since Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded, we still have much work to do.
 
A cutting edge research project called DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) is currently underway and could one day eliminate drunk driving in our country. The project seeks to develop an in-vehicle technology to seamlessly and passively detect a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The program to develop this lifesaving technology is a joint effort between the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, comprised of the world’s leading auto manufacturers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Who's paying for the attacks on MADD?

Who else but Richard Berman would argue we need to better protect drunk drivers? Sarah Longwell, the “managing director” of the American Beverage Institute (ABI) is credited with Today's MADD drives dangerous new policies, but Longwell’s real job is vice president at Berman’s public relations firm, Berman & Company, and ABI is just one of Berman’s many industry front groups. 

With a title like managing director of the American Beverage Institute, you might think Longwell is an expert on sometimes conflicting goals of the hospitality industry, which both wants to ring up sales and, at the same time, ensure patrons drink responsibly. She’s not. Rather, she’s a paid flack trying to undermine the influence of Mothers Against Drunk Driving – a nonprofit that enjoys high public confidence – at the behest of corporate interests that don’t want their own fingerprints on such a dirty game.

According to ABI’s website, the group is “a restaurant trade association dedicated to protecting the on-premise dining experience – which often includes the responsible consumption of adult beverages.” As a representative for ABI, Longwell decries the inhumanity that, one day, alcohol detection technology may be installed in all vehicles. Sure, this technology would crack down on drunk drivers, but Longwell claims this also would inhibit the personal freedom of anyone who opts to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking responsibly. Never mind that even the facts she cites in her post do not support her claims. But the truth doesn’t interest Longwell.

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Mobile broadband legislation black hole

One of the more lively debates that has been dominating Washington centers around something none of us can even see: spectrum — the invisible infrastructure that powers everything from radios and broadcast television, to Wi-Fi, cellular phones, and even garage door openers.

Spectrum is today’s hot topic due to the unprecedented growth of mobile broadband, which is taxing the networks of America’s wireless providers. Simply put, if spectrum is the oxygen of the wireless world, providers are quickly running out of air, and unless more spectrum can soon be purchased by the carriers who need it the most, our country risks missing out on the full economic and social benefits mobile broadband promises to bring.

The pressing need to free up more spectrum is not lost on the Federal Communications Commission or Congress. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has warned of a “looming spectrum crisis,” and in February, with a wise compromise on the payroll-tax extension bill, lawmakers set an important process in motion. Congress not only freed up more spectrum, but recognized the importance of ensuring a humble approach to the way the next round of spectrum auctions — which could mean billions to America’s economy — is crafted.

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Crowdfunding: Don't panic, don't pout

Imagine you have a great idea for a small business. You’ve identified an untapped market, drawn up a detailed business plan and saved about 50 percent of the capital to get the idea off the ground. But your bank isn’t lending to start ups right now- you’re too much of a risk. And there is no rich aunt to leave you an inheritance.

Where can you get the money to make your dreams come true? The answer is crowdfunding. The idea behind crowdfunding is simple: an entrepreneur obtains money through the Internet from many micro level investors, instead of using traditional banks for a line of credit and beyond what the entrepreneur could have obtained from “friends and family” investors. Until now, crowdfunding has been popular with non-profit projects but illegal for capital investors looking for a financial return on their investment.

And with so much turmoil in the nation's banking institutions, the entrepreneurial spirit in this country is at risk of being choked to death. Banks have become more and more afraid of taking risks - even small ones. Capital for start-up ventures has become harder and harder to come by. By opening up the Internet to investors looking for new businesses to invest in, we can stoke the creativity that is waiting to be unleashed in this country, especially for entrepreneurs who have given up on employment in the formal sector of the economy.

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