Information Systems Integration – Tony Messina

Monthly Archives: February 2018

Apple may be prepping its biggest iPhone ever

Based on the report from Bloomberg on Monday, Apple is designing three new the largest version of iPhone, a upgraded version of iPhone X and a cheaper version is also in design progress. The largest version will contain an approximately 6.5 inches screen, made possible full screen design just like iPhone X or even better design (I don’t like current iPhone X full screen deisgn with a black bar on the top of the screen, that should not be called a “full screen”). Moreover, the new version with A12 processor and IOS12 is also expected. The upgraded edition of the current iPhone X is also expected to have the A12 processor, and Bloomberg says Apple is considering a gold color option for both high-end phones. The cheaper version of iPhone will have a similar design on iPhone X, but just like iPhone SE, it will carry lower level hardware.

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Chainlink- Decentralized Oracle Network for Smart Contracts

In my last article, I wrote about how smart contracts on the Ethereum network have the potential to revolutionize legal agreements and international trade. Because Ethereum smart contracts are unchangeable and indestructible, the interested parties no longer need to trust each other to engage in business. The terms of the contract are pre-programmed and are guaranteed by code, instead of a slow and potentially biased international court system.

Once the benefits of smart contracts have been made clear, (2022?) corporations will be looking to integrate these contracts into their everyday workflow. However, smart contracts currently operate in a closed system; the only data that can be analyzed and manipulated are tokens on the Ethereum network. In order for smart contracts to analyze external API data or output a trigger for an external application, the smart contract requires something called an “oracle.” This oracle serves as a connector between the closed Ethereum network and data accessible via the internet.

There are centralized oracles available for use on the Ethereum network like Oraclize, but this creates a point of vulnerability in the smart contract’s workflow. Because the data accessed will likely be on another blockchain, like the hyperledger project, a centralized oracle would be comparatively prone to tampering and downtime. By accessing the blockchain through a network of thousands of decentralized oracles, the risk of tampering and downtime for the oracle on which the smart contracts rely can be reduced to an acceptably minuscule possibility. The Chainlink oracle is especially flexible; it can be used to import and export data from multiple or singular external blockchains of different protocols, such as Ethereum, Hyperledger, NEO., and potentially from EOS and Cardano when the mainnets are released. It can also integrate payments via the SWIFT banking network into the smart contracts, which is a big deal for businesses. Finally, Chainlink is expected to announce a partnership with Docusign, a PDF signature software. This would allow smart contracts to execute upon the reception of a digital signature!

The future is looking very bright for smart contracts and Chainlink. Be on the lookout for big announcements during SXSW this Spring. Please note that this is not financial advice and that I am biased, as I have a small position in Chainlink. Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

The Technological Disruption Phenomenon

Technological disruption has been changing business and organizations at a rapid pace. A new technology or process is constantly being invented that changes industries and organizational strategies. The author of The Innovator’s Dilemma and Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen “sees disruptive innovation as a threat to everything from Microsoft to Japan.” I agree that innovation will increasingly disrupt business strategies worldwide, especially caused by technological advancements. For example, Blockbuster’s entire business model became obsolete due to technological disruptive innovation. Netflix and online streaming services put Blockbuster out of business. More and more business models will become obsolete due to innovative technology.

This topic relates to our class project. A difficulty that most teams have been facing is finding a business model that will be effective against competitors. Taking an approach to the class project with disruptive innovation in mind may be able to help the teams form more effective business models that will not be immediately disparaged. I think that the most effective new businesses usually have some sort of disruptive innovation.

How do you think disruptive innovation can apply to our class project?

SpaceX – Launches experimental satellites Tintin A and B

Elon Musk wants to give internet to everyone possible, last Thursday, February 22 SpaceX successfully launched two test satellites into Low-Earth orbit in attempts to gather data for its satellite driven internet project. Having the support of the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, SpaceX intends to put 10,000 satellites into low-earth orbit to bring internet services to anyone anywhere at speeds that would rival a standard ground connection. “Billions of people around the globe still lack internet access, so companies have been racing to find a better way to beam internet down from the sky (Wattles).” SpaceX speculates having 40 million subscribers and $30 billion in revenue by 2025. This type of technology was barely a thought years ago and now we are moving closer everyday. What are your thoughts on having internet beamed down from 10,000 satellites in the sky ? Do you think this is a necessity or is it being driven for the greater good of people providing access to anyone and everyone ?



New variants of older malware are taking over your IoT devices

If you are technically inclined or even just paying attention to the latest round cybersecurity threats then you have heard of BotNets.  BotNets are normally made up of IoT devices like home routers and IP video cameras and hackers normally sell the usage of this BotNet to other hackers looking to stay anonymous.  Many of these consumer-grade devices use default passwords to help end users set them up without any problems.  Hackers know that most people will never change the default admin password so they write malware code to scan the internet for devices to turn into a BotNet. One such malware program is called Mirai.  Mirai was responsible for taking down a large number of major websites in 2016.  Most devices that were infected by Mirai remain infected to this day, but even the IoT devices that were patched are still susceptible to the new variants of Mirai.  A variant is a malware that uses a modified version of an older malware’s source code. FortiGuard Labs has found one variant that may be worse than the original Mirai version.  This new version dubbed OMG because of the letter OMG found in the source code now has the ability to turn the infected device into a proxy server.  Proxy servers allow hackers to look like they are coming from a different location and IP then they actually are.  This anonymity comes at a price.  Since hackers are willing to pay for the privilege of using a BotNet the demand for new IoT victims increases.  Thus, driving the number of variants up and the potential for another large-scale cyber attack.

What do you think can be done to improve the security of IoT devices?  Should the manufacturers be held responsible for BotNets?–mirai-based-bot-turns-iot-devices-into-proxy-servers.html

Hacking Cryptocurrency







Blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in a cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly. The attractiveness of this new technology is that it allows users complete financial control since there are no banks or other third parties involved in the process. However, there are some risks that come with purchasing cryptocurrenices such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple.

Due to the rise of cryptocurrencies, hackers have been discovering new ways to breach data. Since blockchain technology is still in the early stages, it is vulnerable to security issues. The article below discusses how hackers have used an app named Coinhive to mine digital currency. In the past few weeks, numerous US and UK government websites have been compromised. Hacking is enticing since the currency is not on anyone’s phones or computers, instead it is held on companies websites alongside many other user’s transactions. Because of this framework, multiple user’s sensitive data have been breached simultaneously. There is now an increasing market for software, services, and hardware to secure blockchain activity and it was estimated that $259 million was spent in 2017 for businesses looking for a solution.

Do you think investing in cryptocurrency is secure? Does it have a bright future? Would you/have you invested in any?


Uber wants to start flying you to your destination

Uber has made a promise that it will invest and lead innovation for inner-city transport. The next move for Uber is Short-Haul flights ? The company’s head of products wants to offer customers more varieties and quicker ways to travel.
VTOL : Vertical takeoff and landing aircraft will allow ascending and descending like a helicopter but quick like a plane. The solution requires takeoff and landing to occur on rooftops of building as inner city streets are too populated even thought VTOL does not require a runaway. The functions of VTOL are similar to those of a drones with take off and lading being the same. The question will be if these aircraft’s will require a pilot or just be self-flying passengers to their destination.

Most of the engineering is being done by the military with The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency working on the VTOL X-Plane. With technology innovating so quickly talks of flying cars have always been talked about. Uber might be the first innovator to actually test out this product and see if it could be efficient for the future.

Will it be possible to have another transportation method which could locally fly passengers ? Is this method a danger to society or could it be helpful ?

How Veil Protects Your Private Information

The cybersecurity issue is no longer a news to us. However, we still could not protect our personal information due to the established computing processes. The solution is here: Veil, a new technology invented by MIT and Harvard scholars, ensures us that our private information will not be tucked away by our browsers in three ways:

Shell Game: Every activity we do on the browser is stored in our devices even in private-browsing mode. This potentially allows a highly motivated attacker to retrieve it. Shell game will prevent this from adding an encryption to our data, which cannot be utilized by a third party.

Decoys: Adding redundant and useless codes into our private records, Veil blinds any third party.

The Back End: Converting websites into Veil version and then reloading information allows users to directly use Veil browsing all the websites that may have safety threatens.

What do you think of the new service? It is necessary or there is a better way to do? When it is available, will you try it?



What Our Digital Lives Say About Our Health

Research has shown that our actions on our smartphones, computers, and social media account can indicate a lot about our current well-being. This realization has no led to a new field of study called digital phenotyping, which studies people’s interactions with digital devices to make assessments of their mental and physical health. One company in particular that has made efforts to perform this kind of analysis is Facebook. Facebook has begun to use artificial intelligence to analyze posts, comments, live-stream videos, and status updates for behavior that may indicate severe depression or suicidal thoughts. When it detects these characteristics, the site can send a message to the individual, encouraging them to get professional help.

Other than Facebook, there are other companies working to provide similar services with digital phenotyping. One company called Sharecare offers an app that monitors your stress levels during phone calls to provide an assessment of your current mental health. Others use information about daily smartphone use to gather insight about memory and mood swings.

What do you think about digital phenotyping? Will this be something we see used more in the future? What is the ceiling for the amount of insight it could provide? What do you think the health insurance implications will be? Feel free to leave your comments below.


The Surprising Secret Of Microsoft’s Financial Success

When you think of “IT” or “profit” what is the first thing that comes to mind ? Definitely not compassion!!

As surprising as it is, compassion is actually Microsoft’s secret to financial success. The company’s CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning “ compassion is a crucial component of business. We are in the business of basically meeting unmet, unarticulated needs of customers, And there’s no way you’re going to be able to get that consistently right if you don’t have that deep sense of empathy, or being able to see what others are seeing.”

In a way that only a genius can think of, Nadella turned compassion into profit. He always entices his team members to be ethical, transparent, and honest. In a world where we think that all big organizations are corrupt, it is refreshing to have a big company like Microsoft have integrity but most importanly attribute their success to havinng integrity and compassion.

Are big corporations honestly ethical or they just project that image to the public? Is compassion that important in making the success of an IT company?

Share you comments below.

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