2012年2月27日 星期一

IBM eyes cybersecurity market with new platform

IBM Turns to Big Data Algorithms for Computer Security
New York Times (blog)
IBM is now the latest company to attempt to take a more holistic approach to corporate security using “Big Data.” On Wednesday, the company will roll out QRadar, its new security intelligence platform, to track corporate vulnerabilities in real time ...

IBM eyes cybersecurity market with new platform

(Reuters) - International Business Machines is gearing up to take a chunk of the growing Internet security market by applying its data analytics to help companies and organizations fight cyberattacks.

IBM said on Wednesday that its QRadar Security Intelligence Platform allowed it to analyze real-time data feeds from more than 400 different sources.

QRadar identifies abnormal activity by combining known threats and hackers' methods with real-time analysis of the traffic on the corporate IT infrastructure, the company said.

For example, IBM said, it can detect when multiple failed logins to a database server are followed by a successful login and access to credit card information, followed by an upload to a questionable site.

Many corporations have been unable to create a security defense system because they have cobbled together technologies that are not integrated, creating a patchwork approach with loopholes that hackers can exploit, IBM said.

"Trying to approach security with a piece-part approach simply doesn't work," said Brendan Hannigan, general manager at IBM Security Systems.

IBM is betting that a broadbased approach will appeal to companies and organizations looking to prevent threats before they happen.

"These attacks don't come out of the blue," Hannigan said. "No one walks into a bank and walks out with the crown jewels in one fell swoop.

"They will spend a enormous amount of time and put in place the mechanisms to get the info they want," he said, "and obviously they try to hide their trail and not set off security events."

Hannigan said IBM's X-Force threat feed monitored 13 billion security events per day, and "that could flag behavior from teams of attackers that may access networks through stealth means."

Organizations are struggling to defend themselves against an onslaught of ever-evolving data breaches, such as theft of customer and employee information, credit card data and corporate intellectual property, IBM said.

Defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp have been among the high-profile victims of cyberattacks. Others include Google Inc, Citigroup Inc and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said recently that cyberattacks against government agencies and businesses would surpass terrorism as a danger to the United States.

That translates into an information security market that, according to research firm Gartner, will grow to $71 billion by 2015 from $55 billion last year.

In response, IBM organized its security portfolio into a security systems division last year and beefed it up with the acquisition of Q1 Labs in October.

The company said 7,000 customers used its security products.

Shares of IBM were up 0.3 percent at $194.05 in afternoon trading.

(Reporting by Nicola Leske in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

2012年2月22日 星期三

scientists could dance

First Person: John Bohannon

The idea that scientists could dance their PhD started as a drunken party stunt about five years ago. I was living in Vienna and working as a contributor to Science magazine at the time.


I helped organize a big party with some scientist friends and, to make the party more interesting, decided to do a dance contest. I read the title out of each guest’s thesis – titles that were mostly obscure and indecipherable except to specialists in the field – and then the contestants danced.


I made a video of the evening and put it online, and it wasn’t long before I started getting emails from scientists all over the world asking me when the next contest was. I put the idea to my editor at Science, suggesting that the magazine could put up some prize money and do an online contest. My editor agreed and I put an advertisement in Science. Videos arrived from all over the world. Today, we’re in the fifth year of the contest and the quality keeps getting better and better.

我把当晚的比赛录了下来,并将其上传到网上,不久我就开始收到全球各地科学家的电邮,问我下一 次比赛会在什么时候。我把这个想法告诉了我在《科学》杂志的编辑,暗示该杂志可以设置一些奖金,举办一次在线比赛。我的编辑同意了,于是我在《科学》杂志 上刊登了一则广告。我收到了来自全球各地的视频。现在,这一赛事已经举办到第五届了,水准也变得越来越高。

This year’s winner studies hip replacement. He works with titanium and lasers and, if you read his research, it’s very abstract. He also didn’t have a video camera. So he took thousands of photographs of himself, his sister and his girlfriend doing the dance. He strung the pictures together to make stop-motion animation. At one point he was flying off the ground. He must have had to jump-click-jump-click. The whole thing has a brilliant sense of humour and an epic feeling but, most important, by the end you totally understand what his PhD is about. For a film to succeed, the audience needs to understand the concepts as well as be entertained.

今年的获奖者研究的是髋关节置换。他的工作都是与钛和激光打交道,如果你读读他的研究,你会发 现它们非常抽象。此外,他没有摄像机。因此,他把自己、他的妹妹和女友跳舞的场面拍成数千张照片。他将这些照片串在一起,制成定格动画。在某一个点上,他 正飞离地面。他必须不停的“跳、按快门、跳、按快门”。整个作品带有极强的幽默感,而且有着史诗般的感觉,但最为重要的是,最后,你完全理解了他的博士学 位所研究的内容。一部电影要成功,观众既需要理解片中的概念,还需要从中得到娱乐。

Last year the winner was a laboratory of Canadians. They did Scottish highland dancing to illustrate a complex but important breakthrough in molecular biology. It’s very funny but also manages to explain the science. The video is now being used at Harvard in the introductory molecular biology class.


Of course, not all the films have humour. Some just fail but even in failure they can have a charm. One of my favourites is the bee guy. It’s one of the best dances I have ever seen – while at the same time being an awful dance. The scientist studies bees and his setting is the grassy field with beehives where he works. The man emerges from a hive dressed as a bee and earnestly begins mimicking bee behaviour. You can’t help but be moved. I’d like to create an alternative prize to recognise dancers like him.

当然,并非所有的视频都幽默。一些可能没能入围,但虽然失败了,它们也有动人之处。我最喜欢的 参赛选手之一是一位研究蜜蜂的科学家。这是我看过的最棒的舞蹈之一——同时也是一项糟糕的舞蹈表演。这位科学家研究蜜蜂,他的背景是一片草地,放置着很多 蜂箱,他就在那里工作。他打扮成一只蜜蜂的样子从一个蜂箱中出现,然后开始认真地模仿蜜蜂的动作。你不能不为此感动。我希望设立一个另类奖项,以表彰他这 样的舞者。

The competition has become really competitive. Even though the grand prize is only $1,000 and a free trip to Brussels, I think one of the attractions for scientists is that they are having their work recognised by one of the top scientific journals in the world. Although I can say confidently that winning the competition offers no advantage for scientists trying to publish their work in Science.


One of the reasons the competition works is that it operates a very weird, specific constraint so that only certain people can take part. Each person only has one option: to appear in his or her own PhD research dance. It’s like a secret society, but I think it appeals to scientists because their lives are hard work. Most of them are poor and obscure but with this competition, they can exhibit themselves. This whole contest is an experiment for outgoing, exhibitionist scientists. It gives them a platform.

比赛得以进行的原因之一在于,比赛的限制条件非常奇怪而且明确,这样只有某些人可以参加。每个 人只有一种选择:在他或她自己的博士研究舞蹈中出现。这像是一个秘密结社,但我认为,它之所以会吸引科学家,是因为他们的生活就是努力地工作。多数人贫穷 且默默无闻,但通过这场比赛,他们可以展示自己。整个比赛是那些乐观而且有表现欲的科学家的一次尝试。这为他们提供了一个平台。

Of course, I have a day job too. I’m also a correspondent for Science. These days I cover war for the news section. I’ve been focusing on the data side of war and its most controversial aspect: how you count the dead. So I guess the dance competition gives my working life a little balance.



Platform wars: A history of personal computing

Daily chart

Platform wars

Feb 22nd 2012, 14:54 by The Economist online

A history of personal computing

A GOOD way to think of the computer industry is to see it as a series of “platform wars”. When a new computing platform is still young, many different systems fight it out—until one or two standards emerge. Data from Asymco, a consultancy, illustrates that this was the case with the personal computer and is now happening in the market for smartphones and other mobile devices. It is still too early to call the winner(s), but the outcome may be similar to the one in the PC industry: Android, an operating system maintained by Google, could play the role of Microsoft’s Windows (or DOS, its predecessor) and Apple’s iPhone the one of the Macintosh, its older and bigger brother (albeit with a much bigger market share). Only one thing seems certain: the PC’s dominance in the computer industry is coming to an end.

2012年2月8日 星期三

A second wireless revolution is starting

White-space puts Wi-Fi on steroids

A second wireless revolution is starting, thanks to television’s switch to digital

Who needs TV?

Think of how Wi-Fi has made computing so much more convenient. It has untethered users from pesky cable connections to the internet, allowing them to wander around the home or office with laptop or tablet in hand, surfing the web, making free phone calls, sending files wirelessly to printers, video to tele­vision sets, and many more things. But what if Wi-Fi radio beams travelled not just a few hundred feet but stretched for several miles—and were unimpeded by trees, terrain and walls so that they could penetrate all the nooks and crannies within buildings? That is the promise of “white-space” wireless.

“White-space” is technical slang for television channels that were left vacant in one city so as not to interfere with TV stations broadcasting on adjacent channels in a neighbouring city. In the early days of television, America’s broadcasting authorities reserved 50 or so channels for TV stations. But because of worries about interference, no metropolitan area has ever come close to using all 50 channels at its disposal. In rural areas, vacant channels (ie, white-space) have frequently amounted to 70% or more of the total bandwidth available for television broadcasting.

With the recent switch from analogue to digital tele­vision, much of this protective white-space is no longer needed. Unlike analogue broadcasting, digital signals do not “bleed” into one another—and can therefore be packed closer together. All told, the television networks now require little more than half the frequency spectrum they sprawled across previously.

The attraction of white-space is that the frequencies used for television broadcasting (54MHz to 806MHz) were chosen in the first place for the distance they could travel and their ability to penetrate obstacles. They were also good at transmitting information quickly. Where Wi-Fi can shuttle data at 160-300 megabits per second, white-space can do so at 400-800 megabits per second.

In America the best frequencies for doing all this—the 700MHz band covering channels 52 to 69 on the old television dial—were auctioned off in 2008 to mobile-phone companies. Between them, Verizon, AT&T and others paid close to $20 billion for this “beachfront property” of the wireless spectrum. The white-space freed below 700MHz is to be made available for unlicensed use by the public.

Do you want to play in my bandwidth?

White-space should help to solve the bandwidth problem that has begun to plague wireless networks in general—as more consumers download films, television episodes and other video offerings wirelessly from the internet, instead of receiving such fare from their traditional cable, satellite or over-the-air TV broadcasters.

A decade ago the biggest bandwidth hogs were computer users downloading music tracks from Napster and other peer-to-peer websites. Nowadays media seekers are more likely to be downloading whole television episodes from Amazon, iTunes or Hulu (which typically gobble up 14 times the bandwidth of music tracks) or streaming films from Netflix (110 times). Blame the current bandwidth crunch on the growing popularity of the iPhone and Android smartphones as well as media tablets like the iPad.

What if Wi-Fi radio beams stretched for several miles?

Apart from easing bandwidth problems, white-space could lead to a wireless revolution even bigger than the wave of innovation unleashed over a decade ago when Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other wireless technologies embraced the unlicensed 2.4GHz band previously reserved for microwave ovens and garage-door openers. Some insiders even talk about white-space offering a “third pipe” that will rival cable and telephone broadband for access to the internet. Others see it as a cheaper alternative to today’s mobile-phone system.

Microsoft has been using just two experimental white-space antennae, instead of thousands of Wi-Fi access points, to blanket its 500-acre (200-hectare) campus in Redmond, Washington. With white-space hotspots capable of covering such wide areas, supermarkets, shopping malls, even local municipalities could use it to offer free (advertising-supported) internet services to their customers and local residents, to search the web and make free telephone calls using Skype, Google+, or something similar on their smartphones and other devices.

Pipe-dreams? Far from it. Technical hurdles remain, but the first “enterprise-level” pieces of white-space equipment are about to go into service, with commercial trials of various applications expected throughout 2012. How soon before individuals can buy $100 white-space routers for the home? The consensus view is 2015 at the very latest.

Nick Valéry: Difference Engine columnist, The Economist


Scientific publishing

The price of information

Academics are starting to boycott a big publisher of journals

SOMETIMES it takes but a single pebble to start an avalanche. On January 21st Timothy Gowers, a mathematician at Cambridge University, wrote a blog post outlining the reasons for his longstanding boycott of research journals published by Elsevier. This firm, which is based in the Netherlands, owns more than 2,000 journals, including such top-ranking titles as Cell and the Lancet. However Dr Gowers, who won the Fields medal, mathematics’s equivalent of a Nobel prize, in 1998, is not happy with it, and he hoped his post might embolden others to do something similar.

It did. More than 2,700 researchers from around the world have so far signed an online pledge set up by Tyler Neylon, a fellow-mathematician who was inspired by Dr Gowers’s post, promising not to submit their work to Elsevier’s journals, or to referee or edit papers appearing in them. That number seems, to borrow a mathematical term, to be growing exponentially. If it really takes off, established academic publishers might find they have a revolution on their hands.

Dr Gowers’s immediate gripes are threefold. First, that Elsevier charges too much for its products. Second, that its practice of “bundling” journals forces libraries which wish to subscribe to a particular publication to buy it as part of a set that includes several others they may not want. And third, that it supports legislation such as the Research Works Act, a bill now before America’s Congress that would forbid the government requiring that free access be given to taxpayer-funded research.

Elsevier insists it is being misrepresented. The firm is certainly in rude financial health. In 2010 it made a £724m ($1.16 billion) profit on revenues of £2 billion, a margin of 36%. But it charges average industry prices for its products, according to Nick Fowler, its director of global academic relations, and its price rises have been lower than those imposed by other publishers over the past few years. Elsevier’s enviable margins, Dr Fowler says, are simply a consequence of the firm’s efficient operation.

Dr Neylon’s petition, though, is symptomatic of a wider conflict between academics and their publishers—a conflict that is being thrown into sharp relief by the rise of online publishing. Academics, who live in a culture which values the free and easy movement of information (and who edit and referee papers for nothing) have long been uncomfortable bedfellows with commercial publishing companies, which want to maximise profits by charging for access to that information, and who control many (although not all) of the most prestigious scientific journals.

This situation has been simmering for years. In 2006, for example, the entire editorial board of Topology, a mathematics journal published by Elsevier, resigned, citing similar worries about high prices choking off access. And the board of K-theory, a maths journal owned by Springer, a German publishing firm, quit in 2007.

To many, it is surprising things have taken so long to boil over. Academics were the internet’s earliest adopters, with all the possibilities for cutting publishers out of the loop which that offers. And there have indeed been attempts to create alternatives to commercial publishing. Cornell University’s arXiv website (pronounced “archive”, the X standing in for the Greek letter “chi”) was set up in 1991. Researchers can upload maths and physics papers that have not (yet) been published in journals. Thousands are added every day. The Public Library of Science (PLoS) was founded in 2000. It publishes seven free journals which cover biology and medicine.

But despite the enthusiasm for such operations, there are reasons for the continued dominance of traditional publishers. ArXiv’s papers, though subject to merciless post-publication commentary, are not formally peer-reviewed before they are posted. Their quality is thus rather uneven. PLoS relies partly on donations, but also charges publication fees of up to $2,900 per paper. These must be paid by the authors, a significant expense for cash-strapped university departments. And there is also a lingering prejudice against electronic-only publishing. Web-based alternatives often seem less respectable than their dead-tree counterparts.

That matters, because university departments (and individual researchers within them) are rated both by the number of papers they publish and the reputation of the journals those papers appear in. Youngsters, who might be expected to embrace new ways of doing things, must therefore publish in existing, reputable journals if they want recognition and promotion. And the definition of “reputable” changes slowly, since journals with the best reputation get the pick of new papers.

Commercial publishers have begun to experiment with open-access ideas, such as charging authors for publication rather than readers for reading. But if the boycott continues to grow, things could become more urgent. After all, publishers need academics more than academics need publishers. And incumbents often look invulnerable until they suddenly fall. Beware, then, the Academic spring.

2012年2月7日 星期二

政務委員/ 國科會主委

此次國科會主委為某朱先生 經濟學者

今年の 1 月 14 日、台湾では総統選挙と立法院選挙 (日本の国会議員選挙にあたる) が行われ、与党・国民党が引き続きこれからの 4 年間の政権を担うことになったが、今度の新しい内閣には、科学技術担当の政務委員 (無任所大臣に相当) に Google 台湾から張善政氏を迎えており、「台湾クラウドバレー」計画を推進していくとのことだ (台湾ビジネス情報の記事より) 。

台 湾クラウドバレーは企業や行政組織など 25 以上の団体が共同で推進するもので、台湾のクラウドコンピューティング産業が国際市場に進出するための足掛かりとすることを目的としているようだ。また中 国との提携をも視野に入れている模様。中国では北京や広東など 10 箇所以上でクラウドコンピューティング目的のデータセンターが設置されているのだが、ご存じの通り Google と中国の関係はここ数年であまり良好なものではないこともあり、台湾政府の一員として Google が含まれている事に懸念が感じられる、としている。