Businesses Value File Transfer Security But Fail to Properly Secure Themselves

A recent survey on file transfer services has shown that although businesses agree that security is “critical,” some industries are lagging far behind in setting up security systems.

Infosecurity Magazine reports that a survey conducted by software company Biscom revealed that at the very least, industries across the country are unanimous in their belief that security is a core component of their file transfer systems. A good 70% of respondents, which included representatives from the healthcare, financial, retail, technology, and manufacturing industries, among others, said that security was the most important thing to them when looking for file transfer services. A full 72% said security was “critical” for cloud-based services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

“Our survey confirmed what we were already starting to see: that security will be the key focus in all areas of business for 2015,” said Bill Ho, the CEO of Biscom. “The data breaches within the past year have shown us that all businesses are increasingly at risk and should be actively assessing tools and processes which can help reduce their exposure.”

The study gave clues as to why security breaches are spiking. Roughly 86% of respondents claim to use email to transfer files and 51% claim to use file transfer protocol (FTP). Though 60% say they use secure file transfer protocol (SFTP) to transfer files, that is apparently not enough to prevent significant hacking cases.

Of all the industries surveyed, healthcare is the most vulnerable to breaching. About 81% of organizations in the medical industry still use email to share files, and 45% still use FTP.

Moreover, half of respondents who viewed cloud security features as “critical” use consumer-based services such as Dropbox, which, when compared to private cloud services, are fairly susceptible to hacking. Many of those who use such services store sensitive information: 82% store office documents, 34% for financial documents, 51% for medical records, and 40% for legal documents.

Regardless of the industry, American businesses are increasingly at risk for security breaches and data loss. Nearly 70% of businesses will experience data loss at some point due to system failure, hacking, or hardware damage.

Facebook’s Suicide Prevention Feature Is Now Easier to Use

New York State has a suicide rate of eight deaths for every 100,000 people. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state has a population of about 19.75 million. This means that every year, about 1,580 people commit suicide in New York State.

Now, those suffering and contemplating the unthinkable can get help from a surprising place: Facebook.

In February, the social network announced a new suicide prevention feature, which makes the process of reporting suicidal content (a feature available since 2011) easier, and also provides those who may potentially hurt themselves with ways to take action.

“The updated resources are currently available to 50 percent of people who use Facebook in the U.S.,” Andrew Souvall, a rep with Facebook, told the Huffington Post. “We hope to expand to all Facebook users in the U.S. in the coming months.”

When a user spots suicidal content, they have the option to either contact that friend, another friend, or a suicide helpline. Facebook will then notify the reported user that they have a friend who’s concerned about them, and will then ask if they’d like to call someone or message a suicide prevention expert.

The social network boasts more than 1.15 billion users across the world, and more than 10.6 million users in New York State. All data considered, the new feature should be able to help more than 800 users in New York state.

Additionally, Facebook also provides videos from those who have contemplated suicide, provides information on relaxation techniques, and even offers to help users find self-care experts. The options come as the result of Facebook partnering with suicide prevention networks such as Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, Now Matters Now,, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“If this initiative helps even one person take a different course than ending his or her life, it will be important and meaningful,” Gregory W. Dalack, a member of the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, told the Huffington Post. “Resources and support are available to help those struggling and in desperate distress. Kudos to Facebook for taking this step to facilitate connections to those resources.”

Facebook Puts More Focus on Videos, Mobile Use

On Wednesday, Facebook reported that nearly 75% of its advertising revenue came from mobile devices in the first quarter of this year.

The New York Times reports that most of Facebook’s 1.44 billion users access the social networking company’s services on a mobile device. Of those users, 1.25 billion or 87% accessed them on a smartphone or tablet at least once a month — a 24% increase from last year.

Smartphone and mobile app use is growing dramatically around the world. Smartphone users are growing at an annual rate of 42%.

And rather than focusing on text, Facebook is shifting its resources toward video. Users view four billion videos a day, or four per person (Facebook defines a “view” as a video playing for at least three seconds).

“More than any other company right now, they are the single biggest beneficiary of this shift to video and mobile,” said Mark Mahaney, an Internet analyst with RBC Capital Markets. “This growth is going to be more sustainable than people realize.”

The growth of Facebook’s ad revenue is critically important to the company, considering it makes nearly all of its money from advertising. Interestingly, Facebook limits the amount of advertising on its social network and on one of its apps, Instagram. Facebook’s other apps, Messenger and WhatsApp, do not feature ads.

“They have advertisers pounding at the doors to get their customers,” said Ben Schachter, an analyst with Macquarie Securities.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, told investors on Wednesday that Facebook intends to improve the advertising on its services, not increase it. “The primary goal is to increase the quality. That’s our strategy for growing the business,” he said.

According to the Washington Post, Zuckerberg also introduced Hello, a voice-calling­ app for Android users that is meant to replace the voice dialing apps already built into smartphones.

“We’re really pleased with the growth, which is across all of our verticals,” said Sheryl K. Sandberg, Facebook’s COO.

Facebook is second only to Google as the world’s largest competitor in the digital advertising market. Last year, Facebook had 7.0% of the $145 billion global digital advertising market. Google had 31.4%.

Zuckerberg claims that his company will start to focus more on Internet phone calls and messaging services. “What we’re focused on doing is providing more higher-quality services for free than what you could otherwise get in paying for them,” he said.

Are You Ready for “Mobilegeddon?”

According to MediaPost, 85% of internet users around the world use Google’s popular search engine, giving businesses plenty of reason to focus their online marketing efforts on the site. However, new changes to Google’s search algorithms are taking effect this week, causing mobile-friendly websites to rank higher than those which prefer more traditional browsing habits. Now, many business are tweaking their websites to prepare for what many in the media are calling “Mobilegeddon.”

Google first announced that they would be changing their algorithm in November, but the development finally started taking effect on Tuesday, April 21. As a result, companies who haven’t optimized their sites for mobile usage will likely see a drop in their web traffic over the next few days. In a recent article, USA Today estimated that as many as 40% of websites could be affected by the change.

Mobile-friendly websites avoid software like Flash, which can’t be used on phones, feature layouts that automatically scale to the size of the device, and have placed their links in such a way that they can easily be navigated with a touch screen. Businesses can test their mobile-readiness by using Google’s mobile test, which will evaluate the website and offer a preview of what the site will likely look like on a smartphone.

In the months before the change took effect, the inbound marketing company Moz studied 10,000 search queries and found that 70% of sites were listed as mobile-friendly, more than many industry professionals expected. However, the remaining 30% could see severe consequences, especially given how many users now search on their smartphones and mobile devices instead of computers. While search results on laptops and desktops will likely look the same, rankings for the same companies could look drastically different on mobile devices if websites have failed to prepare for the algorithm change.

Despite the sudden shift in their industry, however, many search engine optimization experts are calling Google’s decision a necessary development, with some even calling it overdue. As the world increasingly uses multiple screens to complete a variety of everyday tasks, it is important that businesses ensure that their content translates to every device if they are too remain effective and appeal to customers. With Mobilegeddon in full effect, it is clear that inbound marketing strategies simply aren’t complete without mobile optimization.

Study: Resistance Regarding Electronic Health Records Culturally, Not Empirically, Based

Hospitals and doctors’ offices across the country have worked in recent years to adopt electronic health records, spurred largely by the 2011 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and its financial incentives. But critics say these EHRs have not been shown to significantly improve patient care quality, and may even leave patients vulnerable to having their information stolen.

According to a recent study, however, the real reason such anxiety surrounds the implementation of EHRs is simply fear of change among medical professionals. “They want to stick with what they know works,” co-author Jaeyong Bae, of Northern Illinois University, said in a March 5 news release.

Bae, along with William E. Encinosa of Georgetown, found that hospitals that do not use EHRs see a 14% increase in medical errors over those that do. Because of this and other factors, their study concludes that cultural changes, and not efficacy, are the real impediment to expansion and more efficient use of EHRs.

The study has been published in the March issue of the journal Healthcare.


The Question of Interoperability

Another major criticism of EHRs is that current efforts — including billions of dollars in public funds awarded through the HITECH Act — have done little to address interoperability, or sharing of EHRs among practitioners.

Part of the vision of EHRs is that doctors will be able to pull up information from visits with other providers and be able to better coordinate care, but even Bae acknowledges this is not yet fully a reality.

Because providers use many systems, most of which are incompatible with one another, it’s fairly common for one practitioner to receive patient information via fax or in physical form, then have to actually enter it into a new EHR.

Interoperability was even the subject of a scathing blog post written by five American senators and released on the Health Affairs blog March 4. “What have the American people gotten for their $35 billion dollar investment [in the HITECH Act]?” the authors ask. “… There is inconclusive evidence that the program has achieved its goals of increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving the quality of care.”

Mozilla Chooses Yahoo to Be Firefox’s Default Search Engine

Studies estimate that 93% of all internet experiences begin with a query on a search engine. In most cases, that search takes place on Google: a March 2014 analysis showed that the popular service controls 67.5% of the search engine industry, placing well above its competitors, all of whom own less than 20%. However, thanks to a new deal, that superiority may be at risk: Yahoo! will replace Google as Mozilla Firefox’s default search browser.

For the past 10 years, Google has been the default search browser on Firefox’s Web browser in the United States. But despite this arrangement, tensions have been high ever since Google unveiled their Chrome web browser in 2008, drawing a considerable number of users away from Firefox. Despite a loyal audience that conducts over one billion search annually, experts say that Firefox has no choice but to become more competitive, and with Google’s contract with the company expiring at the end of November, the search engine will be replaced. The new agreement with Yahoo! is planned to last for five years.

This opportunity comes at an advantageous time for Yahoo!: the search engine is reportedly responsible for a mere 10.1% of searches, and the company’s own website has used Microsoft’s technology to generate its search results since 2010. This deal could be the perfect chance for Yahoo! to become a bigger threat to Google, and the company is duly taking action: CEO Marissa Mayer has announced that Yahoo! will unveil a redesigned search engine in December, before adding the same model to its own site in 2015. As part of their 10-year deal, the technology will continue to be supplied by Microsoft.

Despite these plans, however, it will likely be difficult for Yahoo! to overcome the legacy of their predecessor: in 2012, Google accounted for 90% of Mozilla’s royalty revenue. The company has yet to release its financial report for 2013. Likewise, the financial details of its partnership with Yahoo! have not been disclosed.

In addition to supplanting Google with Yahoo! in the U.S., Mozilla plans to switch to Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia. Firefox users around the world still have the choice to opt out of using the default browser and switching to another choice, such as Google.

Updated Google App Allows Users to Search Past and Upcoming Bills

Search engine use is currently one of the two most popular internet activities worldwide, and it’s easy to see why. Where an old-fashioned Google search used to require careful phrasing and involved punctuation techniques, smartphone users can just hit a mic button and ask their phones a question. Even if a query is poorly phrased, Google can usually still come up with a good answer.

Google has evolved to become the mobile equivalent of an extremely brainy personal assistant, with access to all the information the internet has to offer. As users get more and more used to getting information with a single question, Google’s next move shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The newest update to the mobile app will allow users to check the status of their bills, right from their search engines.

Once users download the newest version of the Google app, they just have to tap the mic and say “Show me my bills” or “my bills due this week.” The Google app will quickly search your Gmail account for any billing notifications, and a quick summary will pop up in your search results. Google hopes that the new feature will help users pay bills on time and maintain good credit standing.

The feature also requires users to enable Google Now, Google’s virtual personal assistant app that can also notify users of weather reports and traffic conditions, among other things. This will actually be advantageous to users concerned about privacy: they won’t be automatically opted into this feature, since they would have to manually enable Google Now and give it access to Gmail.

The new Google feature comes with a subtle re-branding: the Google Search app is now simply called Google, as part of the search engine app’s transition into an all-in-one tool. It’s a smart move on Google’s part, since the bill function is also an incentive for people to switch email functions to Gmail.

At the moment, there are no plans to introduce a desktop equivalent to the Google app, and it remains unavailable to Windows and Windows Phone users.

New Study Reveals Shift Towards Mobile Ads and Rich Media

Vdopia, a leader in rich media advertising, recently released a new study revealing that 77% of telecommunications companies’ mobile ad budgets are devoted to video and rich media.

The new report reflects the changing advertising landscape. Mobile ads represent a far bigger part of the marketing puzzle nowadays than they used to. Google, Facebook, and Twitter are just a few of the big names who are already reaping the shift’s benefits.

“With video consumption on the rise, telecom marketers are leveraging video ads to reach smartphone audiences in an engaging and intuitive manner,” says Vdopia CEO Saurabh Bhatia. “With larger and better smartphones and user access to faster mobile broadband, comes a great opportunity for marketers to leverage videos for conveying the right marketing message.”

The trend towards heavier spending on mobile ads should come as no surprise. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and a 2014 Pew Internet Research Group study, there are about 140,633,076 adult smartphone users in the United States. About half of these people use their devices as their primary Internet source, which means that mobile ads would most heavily affect about 70,316,538 adults.

Savvy marketing professionals are also riding the mobile ad wave. Just this month, Sprint’s top digital marketer of 15 years, Scott Zalaznik, has left the telecommunications company for mobile ad-tech firm xAd, which sells marketers location data for mobile-ad serving.

The report also found some interesting details about what telecom companies use mobile ads to advertise. According to the study, 35% of mobile ads pitch data plans, 29% advertise discounts and/or offers, and 27% advertise product promotions.

Yet few companies cared about increasing brand awareness. The study found that improving brand recognition was the chief goal of a mere 9% of campaigns running ads with Vdopia.

Amazon Readies to Slug It Out with PayPal, Square with New Payment System

There’s a bigger, badder fish swimming in the payment processing waters. Amazon has announced that it will take on the likes of PayPal, Square, and Intuit’s GoPayment with its new Amazon Local Register payment processing service. The eCommerce behemoth aims to supplant other services with technology engineered specifically to give small and medium businesses a cheaper, more effective way to take digital payments, whether in-store or online. Like Square, Amazon Local Register uses a card reader that can attach to smartphones and tablet computers.

With eCommerce on a Tear, the Move Isn’t Surprising
Amazon has been one of the main drivers of eCommerce for a long time now. In 2011, eCommerce was valued at $1 trillion, in 2013 $1.2 trillion. According to the most recent estimate from online financial analyst eMarketer, 2014 will see online spending spike to $1.5 trillion. Amazon, the company that not too long ago was credited by Forbesas being a bigger influence on online purchases than Google, has truly been the wind in the sails of digital commerce. This new service will allow them to continue that trend.

Amazon Comes with Built-in Brand Recognition, without the negative PR of PayPal
There can be no doubt that news of Amazon entering the market is cause for concern for Square, PayPal, and other big names. After all, Amazon comes into the game with something others never had: brand recognition. Consider, the company’s premium shopping and delivery service hosts 10 million active users. In 2013, along with the general consumer base, these premium members drove Amazon revenue above $74 billion. So far this year, the eCommerce behemoth shows no signs of slowing down.

Meanwhile, PayPal, arguably Amazon’s biggest rival in this sphere, has seemingly been struggling to adapt to meet customer demand for new and improved services. In other words, Amazon enters the payment processing world as the big shark, and there’s already blood in the water.

Google Fiber Inspires Competition to Double Download Speeds

Comcast is boosting its broadband internet speeds in areas were Google Fiber is set up. They’re also enhancing their services in areas without Google Fiber, but they didn’t fool anyone with their announcement last week that they would be increasing speeds in Kansas City, a Google Fiber market.

These new-and-improved internet speeds come at no additional cost to customer. Those paying for 25 megabit service will be upgraded to 50 megabits, those paying for 50 megabits will get 105, and those paying for 105 megabits will get a whopping 150 megabits, which is enough for all but the most voracious of video streamers.

To put this perspective, 25 megabit per second download speed is plenty fast for most people. However, the higher the download speed, the higher-quality streaming experience you get on sites like Netflix and YouTube.

Google Fiber, however, is on a completely different level, offering download speeds at 1 gigabit per second. At this speed, users can download a full two-hour movie in less than a minute.

But speeds are always increasing with increasing demand. Just last year, a download speed of 50 megabits per second was viewed as exceptionally high, beyond what would be necessary for the majority of internet users. 6-10 mps was seen as the good middle ground for most users.

Time Warner is also “coincidentally” doubling their internet speeds in Google Fiber markets. AT&T is also building out a gigabit network in Kansas City, as well as elsewhere, to compete with Google Fiber’s.

Companies are scampering to increase their download speeds because consumers are growing less and less patient in this era of instant gratification. Research shows that consumers typically only wait four to 20 seconds for a web page to load. With that kind of impatience, internet providers who can’t provide the highest speeds are going to be out of the game.

With consumer eyeballs spending so little time on webpages, it’s important for companies to make the most of their web marketing. Hiring a web design company to provide your customers with the most pleasant web experience possible is not a bad idea. You want your customers to be able to easily navigate your website, to get the information they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.