Make Your Organization More Successful With These Growth Strategies

If you want your organization to be as successful as possible, now is the time to implement proven growth strategies. Below you’ll find three which can help your business expand in a dynamic way:

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1. Utilize Maintenance Services.

One simple way to make your organization more successful is by using maintenance services. These services will empower you to keep your office equipment in optimal condition. In addition to optimizing your company’s daily operations, the maintenance services can help improve the aesthetic appeal of your office setting. Companies like Reactor Services are pleased to offer clients dynamic catalyst management services. Before you purchase maintenance services from any specific company, do background research to ensure that they are known for providing customers with high quality, effective services.

2. Work With A Mentor.

Another strategy you can deploy to make your organization more successful is working with a mentor. This approach is effective because it helps ensure that you have an individual evaluating your professional habits and personal proclivities. This monitoring work can lead to the identification and analysis of your strengths and weaknesses, thereby empowering you to become a better, brighter business professional. Another great benefit of working with a mentor is that she or he can function as a networking contact.

3. Optimize Your Marketing Process.

In addition to working with a mentor, make sure you optimize your marketing process. This strategy is key to growth because it ensures that more and more members of your target audience are being exposed to your brand. Luckily, there are hundreds of techniques you can implement to make your marketing process more savvy and successful. One technique you may find effective is hiring a digital advertising company. The professionals of this company can implement diverse marketing strategies to ensure that your brand becomes increasingly authoritative and influential online. Some of the strategies may include:

• web design and development
• email marketing
• online reputation management
• social media optimization
• content marketing
• responsive web design
• search engine optimization

Also note that some digital marketing companies offer public relations services like press releases, blog work, and crisis communications. Remember that PR services are important because they help ensure that your brand is constantly in the public eye while also increasing the likelihood that the company image is positive.

Don’t Delay: Start Growing Your Organization Today!

Three strategies you can use to keep your business growing include utilizing maintenance services, working with a mentor, and optimizing your marketing process. Start using these techniques immediately so you can see substantive growth!

Hayo’s Kinect-like sensor for your home now has an API

Sometimes I miss the Kinect. It was such a breakthrough device, yet it didn’t go anywhere. But it inspired a lot of entrepreneurs, including the team behind Hayo. This new device lets you set up virtual buttons on a table to control all your connected objects.

Hayo recently announced there will be an API so developers can play with the company’s image recognition technology. Some people already want to use Hayo for games, others for their shops. There are many possibilities, and I can’t wait to see how developers are going to use this new input device.

Brian already wrote about the device, and the company is now live on Indiegogo — in fact, the campaign will certainly reach its goal today. The device is shipping later this year and currently costs $219 on Indiegogo.

I played with a prototype at a TechCrunch meetup in Barcelona and I was quite impressed by the technology behind it. You can put the tube-shaped device on a table and tap on a specific area to turn on the lights, pause the music and more.

 Hayo isn’t a complicated device. In fact, the first prototype was just a Kinect and a few electronic components inside a Pringles can. But the magic happens on the company’s servers. The startup has been working on image and signal processing for years.

The device creates a depth map with a bunch of sensors and then sends data to a server. The server analyzes the data using the company’s image processing algorithms. If a user triggered something, Hayo can then send a message back to the device. Finally, the device talks with the connected devices around your home to control them.

In my testing, this could provide a nice alternative to voice-powered interfaces like Alexa, Google Home or Siri. We tried using it with Philips Hue lights and a Sonos speaker. You can use objects as “phantom switches” or maybe print some buttons to pin them up. But I’m even more interested in other use cases that will go beyond the smart home.

Former Maker, Disney, Nickelodeon execs raise $6 million for kids media startup Pocketwatch

With traditional television no longer the powerhouse it once was, today’s kids grow up on a diet of Netflix and YouTube and other digital content. A new startup aiming to be the next big kids brand to tackle this space, Pocketwatch, announced today it has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Machinima co-founder Allen DeBevoise’s Third Wave Digital, a firm that invests in digital media brands.

The round also included a number of the entertainment industry’s big names, including Les Moonves, Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO of CBS; Jon Landau, an Academy Award winning Producer of Avatar & Titanic; United Talent Agency (UTA); Robert Downey Jr. (Downey Ventures); Chris Jacquemin, Partner, Head of Digital Media, at WME; Defy Media CEO Matt Diamond; and several others.

Pocketwatch is currently being led by Chris Williams, one of Yahoo’s first 100 employees, who previously founded Take180, a startup acquired by Disney. At Disney, he launched Disney Online Originals, a division devoted to short-form content. He later served as the Chief Audience Officer of Maker Studios, which was also acquired by Disney.

Pocketwatch’s Chief Content Officer Albie Hecht, meanwhile, has a wealth of experience in the kids’ media business, as well. Before joining the company, he served as President of Nickelodeon Entertainment, where he oversaw the development of top kids’ shows like SpongeBob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, and All That. He was also responsible for the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and previously headed TV channel HLN.

Jon Moonves (Leslie’s brother) is Pocketwatch’s Chief Strategy Officer. A well-known entertainment attorney, he has represented Hollywood talent like Ray Romano, Michelle & Robert King, Marc Cherry and Nia Vardalos, and online creators like Bethany Mota and Lele Pons. He also worked with Apple and NFL on their digital content initiatives in the past.

This team, including its investors and advisors, is what makes Pocketwatch interesting. But for now at least, there’s no consumer-facing product to evaluate.

Williams tells us that Pocketwatch will initially launch this summer with five YouTube channels, which will serve as its entry point in establishing its online brand and generating revenue through ads and subscriptions via YouTube Red. The larger goal, however, is to develop high-quality kids programming that could be packaged and resold to other platforms.

If successful, its content could be licensed to the new streaming TV services, which are hungry for digital brands to fill out their core lineups. Pocketwatch also wants to expand into other areas, like toys and gaming.

The company is emerging at a time when online video viewing – for kids – has eclipsed TV. According to a DHX/Ipsos survey from September 2016, 72 percent of kids’ daily video viewing takes place on streaming services like YouTube and Netflix, noted Williams.

“That was a big, driving force in wanting to tackle this space,” he explains. “And also, there had not been a digitally born brand targeting this audience. There are other categories – like fashion and beauty where you have StyleHaul, and gaming where you have Machinima, or food where you have TasteMade – but there’s no one who really said ‘we’re going to target this kids two to eleven audience,’” Williams says.

In addition, he believes that traditional kids’ media companies, like Disney, have to focus more on the preservation and growth of their large, multi-billion dollar businesses that are in a state of evolution. For example, the up-ending of the cable television model by streaming services is an area they’re trying to address.

“But what that does is create a nice window for companies like Pocketwatch to get started and have a nice, clean runway for a period of a few years,” Williams adds.

Of course, the fact that kids are already tuned into so much digital video content – from toy unboxing videos to Minecraft to highly produced shows and movies via streaming TV and subscription services and everything in between is also what can make it difficult for a new brand to find an audience.

Pocketwatch says it will also leverage its Facebook Page presence and the popular kids app to promote its characters and content, to start.

Its programming will be aimed at kids ages 2 to 11, but it will focus on ages 6 to 11 at first. The preschool set will be served instead by a sub-brand at later date – think Nickelodeon vs Nick Jr. or Disney vs. Disney Jr., for example.

The company will also roll out a sub-brand for parents, focused on keeping them better informed about what kids are watching online – an area where there’s a clear need for expertise given the vast amount of online content available today via online services and YouTube.

Though initially Pocketwatch sounds like another multi-channel network (MCN), it has a different approach. Traditional MCNs aggregated YouTube channels and generally focused on a specific vertical. But Pocketwatch’s content won’t entirely consist of that from online creators. Instead, the company plans to offer both animated and live action premium series, in addition to partnering with 10 to 15 digital creators.

These creators will also be offered a “significant” equity stake in the company, Williams says, declining to say how much.

That’s a different business model than prior MCNs, which focused on ad revenues after achieving scale. Arguably, that model didn’t really work out – many MCNs exited to larger companies, as Maker did with Disney. Many creators also felt their contributions were under-valued or overshadowed by the network’s top performers.

Culver City-based Pocketwatch, a team of ten, will officially launch to consumers this summer with its preschool brand arriving later this year.

The Art of the Pitch

If you’ve ever seen me speak at an event, you have probably noticed that I get very excited and passionate about pitching. There’s an excellent reason for that. I believe that a great pitch is useful in so many walks of business. As the CEO of a company, you’ll be pitching your startup morning, noon and night. Short, 90-second elevator pitches. Three- to six-minute pitches as part of a demo day or a pitch competition. And finally, the Holy Grail: in a VC’s office, for a 30- to 60-minute explanation of what the future looks like, if you have anything to do about it. Becoming a truly great pitch artist takes a lot of practice, which I encourage you to invest time in. But that doesn’t mean that there’s any excuse for having a downright poor pitch.

First things first, what is a pitch? In my mind, it’s a narrative that ends in a specific call to action. You’re pitching because you want something from someone. Maybe you want their advice, their business or (in the context we’ll be focusing on here) their investment. Whatever you’ll be pitching for in the future, know that you’ve done many pitches for your business already. You probably pitched your friends, family and significant other to convince them that this crazy startup thing you’re about to embark on was a good idea. Maybe you pitched your old boss to let you work part time, or when you told him or her you were considering quitting your job.

The “call to action” part of the pitch is extremely important. If you’re including stuff in your pitch that doesn’t help build the case for your call to action, you should absolutely scrub it from the script. For example, a 90-second elevator pitch has the same purpose as the introductions we talked about in Chapter 28. The idea is to get a meeting. You don’t get a meeting by speaking extra fast and loading tons and tons of information into your pitch. You’re not trying to explain everything; you’re trying to share enough information to pique their curiosity and make them want to learn more.
Most pitches take place on a stage, of sorts. Not always a literal stage, but a stage nonetheless. Like everything delivered from a stage, your pitch is a performance. If your business is the most innovative thing on stage that day but you’re staring at your shoes, mumbling and reading from the slides… guess who won’t be getting a phone call.

As your company grows and evolves, you’ll probably get to do a number of three-minute pitches, as part of accelerator demo days, pitch competitions, and so on. The goal here is the same: get that meeting. But there are also a couple of other objectives. If you are part of a large, well-known accelerator, you’re probably a great startup, but you have a problem: you will be pitching alongside dozens, if not a hundred, other startups. They’ve all been prepped well. They all need to raise money. That means your goal changes: out of the hundreds of pitches your audience will sit through, you need to stand out enough that you’re remembered. When the investors go home at the end of the day, their notepads will have a ton of notes scribbled down on them. Your goal is to ensure that there’s a circle around your company’s name, and a dollar sign in the margin.
Think of every pitch you do as a competition. You’re pitching to win the grand prize in a competitive field. That means you need to be rehearsed, prepared, well rested and ready for battle. The prize, by the way? Yeah, that’s that meeting we were talking about. It is a little bit like winning a hot-dog eating competition, only to learn that the prize is a jumbo-sized hot dog, but trust me: it’s worth it. The meeting will include another pitch, this time about 20 minutes in length. If they like what they’re hearing and if there’s a good back-and-forth happening, the meeting will stretch to an hour.

So, what goes into the pitch, any pitch? First of all, you need to capture your audience’s attention. They have their phones in their hand, and they are probably checking Twitter and reading emails as they watch your pitch. If they hear something interesting halfway through your pitch and decide to start paying attention, they won’t have heard anything up to that point. That sucks for you, but it’s the reality of things. So, you need to lead with the one thing that will get their attention. The single most important part of your presentation: traction. How well is your company doing? How many users do you have? How fast are you growing? How much revenue are you generating? If your numbers are good, chances are that the investors will pay attention, even if they’re not immediately interested in your space. If someone is pitching something that is consistently growing at 50 percent per week, I’m reaching for my checkbook, and you can explain to me what it is later. It’s that simple.

The next part of your pitch is what your company is about. Who is your customer, and what is the problem you are solving? This is important because if I don’t know those two things, I don’t have any context for evaluating the company. As I discussed in Chapter 20, it’s much easier to start with a very focused customer. Make them obsessed about the product, and expand from there. In other words: it is a far better story to say that a third of people in San Francisco use your product and that you have a plan for scaling it to the rest of the world, rather than saying that 200,000 people use your product worldwide. The absolute numbers might be the same, but the implication and the story are vastly different. There is no shame to limiting your user base geographically, or to a more narrowly focused market, but make sure you explain that as part of your presentation.

Okay, we’ve now checked off your traction and the market, and explained why the problem is important to the users. Next, consider exploring how the problem is currently being solved. It is unlikely that you came along and found a completely new market. Uber didn’t invent transportation; they just looked at the taxi industry and thought, “You know what? That’s terrible, we can do better.” In explaining how customers are currently solving these problem, you are helping illustrate that it is worth solving. If nobody is experiencing the problem you have a solution for, I have some bad news for you: you don’t have a business. The same goes for competitors, by the way. If you don’t have any, it means there is no problem, there’s no market and you don’t have a business.

If your presentation has gone well up to this point, the audience is at the edge of their seats. They know the market, they feel the problem and now they are eager to hear how you’re going to solve this problem. Explain how your solution is perfect for the task at hand. I like to compare painkillers to vitamins: if your solution is something that’s nice to have that people can’t be bothered restocking when they run out, you are facing a challenge. Conversely, when my Advil bottle is half empty, you’d better believe I’ll be stopping at a pharmacy on my way home. Be Advil, not vitamins, and make sure that your audience knows it.

Trust me, everything I’ve explained above can be done in 90 seconds. For presentations where you have more than just a quick elevator ride worth of time, hit the audience with the how. If you have 20 minutes, it’s time for a live demo. If the clock is running out, a few screen shots do the trick. Either way, the investors want to know exactly how you’re going to deliver on your promises.

 For something to be a VC-investable proposition, the next part of your pitch is going to be all about the market. It had better be huge. It needs to be, because otherwise the VCs aren’t interested in placing a bet on you. Explain how big the market is, and how quickly it is growing. In fact, the speed of growth of a market is even more important than its current size. If you are coming into a big market that’s stagnant, you’ll have to take each customer from a competitor with a bigger name, more money and more trust. On the other hand, if you become a leading player in a market growing 100% per year, you will grow that fast by just playing the game.

Next, it’s time to explain what your business model is. How are you going to attract new customers and how is your company going to make money? How will you find new customers, how much does it cost and how long does it take? How soon will you break even on them? How much revenue will they bring your company over their lifetime? And now that we understand the total market size and your business model, provide some summary financials. How much money will you be making in three years? How big will your team need to be then?

Something your investors will definitely want to learn more about is your management team. As investors, they are about to place a sizable bet on your company. They need to be convinced that the people in the company know what they are doing and have the capacity to deliver. If you and your team have built companies and exited them before, brag about it. If you used to work at Budweiser, and you’re about to launch a product that makes selling more beer easier, make that clear. If you are the foremost expert in the world on something and you have a doctorate to prove it, shout it from the rooftops. I wouldn’t spend too much time on this in short pitches, but if you have a little bit more time, do so. Remember, your company’s chance of success will be guesstimated based on your traction and your team. Ideas are cheap, execution is everything. This part of your pitch is where you explain to your audience that you have the right team to execute your idea. If there’s even the slightest doubt in your mind that you have the right team, then stop pitching and start hiring.

Right. That’s it for your pitch, except the most important part: closing the deal. A great way to end your pitch is to restate why you’re there. “We have some really smart tech that will change the way you order groceries, and the best, most experienced team in the business. We are raising $2 million. My details are on the screen, please email me to find out more.” Perfect, clean and to-the-point.

For the pitching itself, I want to briefly talk about body language. I strongly recommend getting some one-to-one training with a pitch coach. This is part of the package in an accelerator, but even if you haven’t gone through an accelerator program (yet), try to find someone who can see you in action and give you some pointers. Exuding confidence, planting your feet solidly on the ground, projecting your voice well and working on having eye contact with your audience is crucial and not that difficult to master. All it takes is some practice.

A few investors will ask you to send them your slides before you pitch to them, which is a little bit awkward. If you’ve ever seen a very good presentation, you realize that the slides are there to help set the pace and to illustrate what the presenter is saying. It doesn’t tell the full story. If you send the slide deck to your investors, they probably won’t understand what the deal is, so I typically recommending saving it for the meeting. One way around this issue (worth considering especially if you are based geographically far away from potential investors) is to prepare two slide decks. One is your normal deck for presenting, the other is an executive summary designed for reading and getting a feel for what you’re about to present.

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Bear that in mind; if you can’t explain your company to a room full of investors who may not be experts on your market segment, go back to the drawing board.

Nokia Sold 35 Million Feature Phones in 2016: Strategy Analytics

Nokia, whose mobile brand is now controlled by HMD Global, reportedly managed to sell 35 million feature phones in 2016. The company was only second to Samsung, who managed to sell 52.6 million feature phones last year.

Nokia Sold 35 Million Feature Phones in 2016: Strategy Analytics

In all, 396 million feature phones were shipped in 2016, refuting all myths that the market for feature phone is extinct. And now, with the potential Nokia 3310 reboot, the feature phone segment may see a shift in dominance from Samsung to Nokia. Nokia took 8.9 percent of the market share worldwide, while Samsung managed to rake in 13.2 percent of the market share, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

HMD Global took rights of the Nokia brand in 2016, and soon after released the Nokia 150 feature phone as well. This means that Microsoft and HMD Global together managed to sell 35.3 million feature phones last year. Samsung boasts of an even larger number – 52.3 million – strongly indicating that there is still an audience for feature phones. In the number three spot was TCL-Alcatel, with 27.9 million units shipped. Other manufacturers accounted for the remaining 280.5 million units.

“Global feature phone shipments reached 396 million units in full-year 2016, accounting for 21 percent of all 1.88 billion mobile phones shipped last year. Feature phones today still account for 1 in 5 of all mobile phones bought worldwide and the category is surprisingly larger than many think,” the report further states.

As mentioned, Nokia is hosting its pre-MWC event today scheduled to begin in a few hours. It is expected to launch the Nokia 3310 reboot at the event with a larger colour display, and run on Series 30+ user interface. At the event, the Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 8 are also expected to be revealed.

Huawei P10, P10 Plus With Leica Dual Rear Cameras Launched at MWC 2017

As expected, Huawei launched the P10 and P10 Plus flagship smartphones in Barcelona. The company has continued its Leica partnership to introduce their-branded dual cameras at the back. The metal bodied device has a lot more to offer than its predecessor with respect to design change, upgraded processor, camera, and software. The device has been launched in as many as eight colour options at MWC 2017. Huawei also unveiled the Watch 2 at the event.

Huawei P10, P10 Plus With Leica Dual Rear Cameras Launched at MWC 2017

Huawei P10 is priced at EUR 649 (roughly Rs. 45,700), and the Huawei P10 Plus 4GB is priced at EUR 699 (roughly Rs. 49,200), while the Huwei P10 Plus 6GB is priced at EUR 799 (roughly Rs. 56,300). Both the smartphones will be available Australia, Austria, Chile, China, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, the UK, and Vietnam beginning in March.

The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus come with a Hyper Diamond-cut finishing that prevents scratching or fingerprint smudges. As mentioned, it will be available in a range of colours including – Greenery, Dazzling Blue, Prestige Gold, Dazzling Gold, Rose Gold, Mystic Silver, Ceramic White, and Graphite Black. The other big highlight is that the fingerprint sensor is underneath the glass in the front, and supports gestures. To elaborate, a short tap will let you go back, a long press will bring you back to the Home Page, and swiping right or left will left open the app tray.

As for specifications, the P10 and P10 Plus are powered by the HiSilicon Kirin 960 SoC (4x Cortex-A73 and 4x Cortex-A53) with an integrated Cat 2/11 modem and Mali-G71MP GPU. The P10 comes with a 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, while the P10 Plus comes with 4GB RAM/ 64GB storage or 6GB RAM/ 128GB storage bundles. There’s also support for microSD for further expansion (up to 256GB).

Both the smartphones sport a dual camera setup with one 20-mgapixel sensor that takes in monochrome details, and another 12-megapixel sensor that takes in RGB details. It supports 4K video, 3D facial recognition, OIS, 4-in-1 hybrid autofocus, hybrid zoom, and event bokeh effect in mono mode. In the camera app, a slew of modes are available for different conditions with one professional mode as well that allows for manual control of ISO, exposure, RAW output, shutter speed, white balance and more. The front camera is at 8-megapixel with f/1.9 aperture and 2x brightness. The dual-SIM devices (Nano + Nano/ microSD) run on the new Android 7.1 Nougat-based EMUI 5.1 OS, and connectivity options include 4.5G LTE with 4×4 MIMO Technology for faster speeds (exclsuive to P10 Plus) , 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, USB Type-C, GPS, and DLNA.

The Huawei P10 features a 5.1-inch HD (1080×1920 pixels) display and comes with a 3200mAh battery. In comparison, the Huawei P10 Plus features a 5.5-inch 2K (1440×2560 pixels) display, and comes with a 3750mAh battery. The screens of both the smartphones are protected by 2.5D Gorilla Glass 5 that the company claims ‘blends’ with the metal. Also, both phones support fast charging, and Huawei claims that 30 minutes of charging can keep the lights on for up to a day.

Alongside, Huawei also launched a slew of cover cases for the smartphones, and a purse for the phone aka ‘Limited Edition Pouch’.

HGH- Boons and Banes

HGH is a single chain peptide that is produced by the pituitary gland to initiate and process growth and development in children. It also maintains manybiological functions, like tissue repair, brain operations, muscle advancements, energy, metabolism and absorption, throughout one’s life. It is released into the blood and then travels throughout the body. It goes into the adipocytes or generally called the fat cells and probably cause them to reduce in size (extracting fat out). It even enters into the muscle cells, stimulating lean muscle progression, so helps one to look stronger and toned. When it extents to  the skin, it continues healthy blood supply, ramps up the collagen fibre production, and thus strengthens the underlying sub-structure (dermis) of the skin, keeping the skin firm, taut, and suave.

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The peak levels of HGH occurs during the adolescent years and slowly declines with increasing age. ). The concentration of HGH in average male circulation is 5mg/ml. Woman bearing child has twice this amount of growth hormone in her blood. Growth hormone is released majorly during deep sleep, so it is recommended to have a good long nap to maintain HGH, supplemented with balanced diet.Studies have often recorded that adults who are obese have diminished levels of HGH than normal-weight people. These studies suggest the important role of HGH in old age as well as the weight loss functions. The only option which remains in the hands of the physique-craving bodybuilders and athletes who are not in their early age is taking expensive prescription based HGH injections or more rarely the HGH dietary supplements. However the latter is less common in use because it doesn’t give fast result and just augments the original process of pituitary synthesizing HGH, which is pretty irrational if the production rate stops entirely or becomes immeasurably low in an old age person.

HGH cycles

A cycle term is used for the entire usage plan of any drug. HGH cycles (medically prescribed, which is in case of any severe genetic disorder or pituitary gland deformities e.g. Down syndrome, Brain Tumor etc.) can range from 20 to 50 days of one injection daily, with short intervals afterwards, all depending on the diagnosis and age of the patient.

For non-medical HGH cycles i.e. In case of bodybuilding and fitness trainings, the cycle only depends upon the desires of the user. It may range from 12 to 20 weeks with increased dosage of drug per day.. People do not take only HGH only. It is stacked with testosterone itself or its synthetic anabolic derivatives for effective results. HGH only provides the helping hand to augment the process through which these steroids help to increase the muscle strength, helping in performing more exercise with less breaks, escalate bone density, reduce fat (majorly abdominal and visceral) proportions, and induce other benefits like increased libido. One should only consult a medicine professional for advice, before he starts using it to prevent major side-effects and contraindications.

Hormones can have anenormous impact on thephysical, psychological, and social health of a wellbeing. So it will be best if a person utilizes the time when there are peak levels of HGH in the body.

Cyber Grinches Could Disrupt Holidays’ Biggest Shopping Weekend

Online spending last year exceeded US$5.8 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to Adobe, and that figure is expected to be even higher this year.

“If you want to mess with the economy, that’s the most disruptive time to do that,” said John Wu, CEO ofGryphon.

“A lot of retail sales have shifted from brick and mortar to online these days,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Cyber Monday is a huge day for a lot retailers.”

Easy Target for Bot Herders

If hackers want to disrupt shopping during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, they’ll likely use a botnet composed of devices connected to the Internet of Things to do it. Such botnets recently attacked DNS server provider Dyn, disrupting Internet service in the United States.

Attackers also used them to launch one of the largest DDoS attacks ever on the website of security blogger Brian Krebs.

“The reason IoT devices are being used now is because they’re so easily attacked,” Wu said. “They also have enough processing power on them to carry out these kinds of attacks.”

What’s more, devices like routers and DVRs are always on, so they’re always available for enlistment in an assault on a website.

“You can have a huge effect because you can control lots of the devices — in some cases hundreds of thousands — and flood a server,” Wu said, “and it’s very difficult to prevent these attacks, because they’re coming from IP addresses around the world. You can’t scale your bandwidth fast enough to prevent it.”

During Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, the situation will be exacerbated by a legitimate surge in traffic.

“Some sites went down last year because they couldn’t handle the spike in traffic to them,” Wu explained. “You could compound that effect with a denial of service attack.”

 Cyber Grinches Could Disrupt Holidays' Biggest Shopping Weekend

10 Million Logins an Hour

Botnets can do more than disrupt shopping traffic during Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. They can crack into user accounts at e-commerce sites, using the millions of username and password pairs available on the Internet from hundreds of recent data breaches.

“Because human beings resuse their passwords, that attacker is going to be successful when he uses a password stolen from another website,” said Omri Iluz, CEO of PerimeterX.

“On average, a person uses six passwords for all their online activity,” he noted.

“These attacks are very successful,” Iluz told TechNewsWorld. “With 10,000 bots, thousands of accounts can be compromised in a matter of hours.”

Automation is crucial to those kinds of attacks, however, he said. “It’s only meaningful if they can run 10 million or more login attempts in an hour to get the success rate they need.”

Gift Card Scams on Steroids

Digital desperadoes also have brought the power of bots to another holiday scam: compromising gift cards. After figuring out how gift card numbers are generated for a retailer, an attacker can write a script for the botnet to execute to determine if there’s a balance on the card.

A hacker could check tens or hundreds of millions of combinations in that way and then register and sell cards discovered to have a balance.

Unsafe mobile apps also might victimize Black Friday-Cyber Monday shoppers.

Researchers found 5,198 Black Friday apps in global app stores for a recent RiskIQ study. Of those, one in 10 already had been tagged as malicious and unsafe to use.

Be Paranoid

Online bandits also are exploiting the reputation of some of the largest e-commerce sites on the Web to prey on consumers.

The top five brands leading in e-commerce have had a combined total of more than 1,950 blacklisted URLs that contain their branded terms as well as “Black Friday” and are linked to spam, malware or phishing, the RiskIQ report notes.

The same is true of apps from those brands. More than 1 million blacklisted apps reference one of the leading e-commerce brands in either their title or description, according to the study.

While consumers can’t do anything about a DDoS attack on one of their favorite shopping sites, they can protect themselves from attacks aimed directly at them.

“Consumers need to be paranoid about what kinds of things people might do to lure them into scams,” said Venkat Rajaji, senior vice president for marketing at Core Security.

“You’ve got to keep your guard up during the holiday season. Don’t click on any link in a consumer email unless it’s a highly, highly trusted source,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“You’ve got to be paranoid,” Rajaji added. “You’ve got to assume the worst when you’re shopping.”

Breach Diary

  • Nov. 14. Data breach at Friend Finder Network places at risk personal information in more than 412 million accounts.
  • Nov. 14. Adobe agrees to pay $1 million to 15 states to settle case stemming from 2013 data breach at the company, which resulted in unauthorized access to accounts of some 552,000 people.
  • Nov. 15. Seventeen-year-old boy pleads guilty in UK to data breach last year at telecommunications provider TalkTalk, which resulted in unauthorized access to personal data of nearly 160,000 people.
  • Nov. 15. TalkTalk reports profits more than doubled to $75 million from $31 million during the 12 months following a data breach at the telecommunications provider.
  • Nov. 15. Kryptowire discovers several models of Android mobile devices sold through major U.S.-based online retailers, which contain firmware that collects sensitive personal information without the owner’s knowledge or consent, and sends it to third-party servers.
  • Nov. 16. Workers at Indian security firm AI Solutions discovered selling phone records of Australians from call centers of Optus, Telstra and Vodaphone.
  • Nov. 16. Database configuration error exposes to public Internet personal information of nearly 25,000 members of Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 104 in California.
  • Nov. 16. Protenus reports month-to-month decline in healthcare data breaches to 35 in October from 37 in September, although the number of patient records compromised increased to 776,533 from 246,876.
  • Nov. 16. Personal records of more than 34 million residents of the Indian state of Kerala were posted to Facebook by a hacker disenchanted with the security of the state’s computer systems, GulfNews reports.
  • Nov. 17. Chicago Public Schools notifies families of some 30,000 students that confidential information about them was shared improperly with a charter school operator for use in a mail advertising campaign.
  • Nov. 18. The Three mobile network in the UK reports personal information of more than 130,000 customers was compromised by data breach made public earlier in the week and for which three men were arrested on Wednesday.
  • Nov. 18. Michigan State University announces it will notify some 400,000 current and former students and staff of data breach that has compromised their personal information.
  • Nov. 19. Russian telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor discovers data breaches at 55 websites that contain personal information of children who have written to “Father Frost,” the Russian Santa Claus.

Upcoming Security Events

  • Nov. 28-30. FireEye Cyber Defense Summit 2016. Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. Registration: through Sept. 30, general admission, $495; government and academic, $295; Oct. 1- Nov. 21, $995/$595; Nov. 22-30, $1,500/$1,500.
  • Nov. 29, Secure Your Enterprise to Maintain Quality of Care. 5 a.m. ET. Webinar by Alto Networks, Free with registration.
  • Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Gartner Identity & Access Management Summit. Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd., South Las Vegas, Nevada. Registration: $2,850; public sector, $2,350.
  • Nov. 30. Smart Cities & Critical Infrastructure Cyber Attack Vulnerabilities. 9 a.m. ET. Webinar by Cyber Education Centre. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. How is Data Analytics Reducing Payments Fraud? 10 a.m. ET. Webinar by BrightTalk and Fiserv. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. Cyber Attackers and the Law – Threats, Challenges & Regulations. 11 a.m. ET. Webinar by Centre for Strategic Cyberspace + Security Science. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. Threat Hunting for Command and Control Activity. 2 p.m. ET. Webinar by Sqrrl. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. Securing the Cloud: Trends in Cloud, Collaboration & Security. 2 p.m. ET. Webinar by Dropbox. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. Cyber-Intelligence: Protecting Yourself Against Your Own Worst Enemy. 2 p.m. ET. Webinar by Centre for Strategic Cyberspace + Security Science. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. Intelligence: The Planners Strategic Edge. 3 p.m. ET. Webinar by Centre for Strategic Cyberspace + Security Science. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. Cyber Supply Chains: Risks & Protection. 4 p.m. ET. Webinar by U.S. Cyber Defence Advisor to NATO. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. How Artificial Intelligence Supports Security Science in Security Operations. 5 p.m. ET. Webinar by Centre for Strategic Cyberspace + Security Science. Free with registration.
  • Nov. 30. Best Practices for Preparing for Breaches. 1 p.m. ET. Webinar by Centre for Strategic Cyberspace + Security Science. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 1. The Big Challenge of Big Data: Untangling the Security Conundrum. 11 a.m. ET. Webinar by Gemalto. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 2-3. B-Sides Phliadelphia. Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Free.
  • Dec. 6. The 2017 Threatscape. 9 a.m. ET. Webinar by ISF Ltd. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 6. Storm on the Horizon — 2017 Threats Both Foreign and Familiar. 2 p.m. Webinar by OCD Tech. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 7. Insider Threats and Critical Infrastructure: Vulnerabilities and Protections. 10 a.m. ET. Webinar by @LKCyber. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 7. Weaponizing Data Science for Social Engineering: Automated E2E Spear Phishing. Webinar by ZeroFOX. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 7. Quantum Threats: The Next Undefended Frontier of Cybersecurity. 1 p.m. ET. Webinar by Isara Corporation. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 7. Trends in Email Fraud, and How to Prevent Enterprise-Facing Email Attacks. 2 p.m. ET. Webinar by Agari. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 8. Cybersecurity Trends — Security Analytics Is the Game Changer. 1 p.m. ET. Webinar by Interset. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 8. I Heart Security: Developing Enterprise Security Programs for Millennials. 5 p.m. ET. Webinar by NCC Group. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 12. How Cybersecurity, Technology and Risk Is Maturing the Role of the Modern CISO. 5 p.m. ET. Webinar by City of San Diego, California. Free with registration.
  • Dec. 13. You CAN Measure Your Cyber Security After All. 1 p.m. ET. Webinar by Allure Security Technology. Free with registration.
  • Jan. 12. FTC PrivacyCon. Constitution Center, 400 7th St. SW, Washington, D.C. Free.
  • Jan. 16. You CAN Measure Your Cyber Security After All. 1 p.m. ET. Webinar by Allure Security Technology. Free with registration.

Google Maps for Android Redesigned for Easier Access to Useful Features

Google has redesigned its Maps app for Android to provide users with easier access to some of the most useful features within the app. With the latest design overhaul, three tabs – Places, Driving, and Transit are accessible right from the bottom of app’s home screen with a simple tap. Google says that the real-time information from these bottom bar navigation tabs will help users in finding a nearby restaurant, beating the traffic, or catching the next available bus.

Google Maps for Android Redesigned for Easier Access to Useful Features

With a quick swipe up from the Places tab, users will be able to find places to eat or drink with curated lists like ‘best dinners’, ‘cheap eats’, or ‘business dining’ around their current location or the location they choose, the search giant said in its blog post. Google Maps for Android can also choose to search for ATMs, pharmacies, or gas stations with just a tap.

The other two tabs on the bottom bar are concerned directly with commute needs of the app users. If you feel like driving and have saved your work and home address already in the app, you can go to the Driving tab and you will get real-time ETAs to home and work. Further you get the traffic conditions nearby as well as the expected delays on your route. “If you don’t need turn-by-turn directions but want real-time traffic info as you take your usual route, you can tap on “start driving” to go directly into driving mode,” Google added about the update to Maps for Android.

If you feel like taking public transport, you need to head to the Transit tab on Google Maps for Android and you will get recommendations for buses or trains as well as ETA to your work or home. You can of course swipe down and check out schedules if you are headed somewhere else.

Considering that the options were a little scattered in the earlier version of Google Maps, it is a welcome design change that makes the interface look clean and easy-to-use. Google says that it has started rolling out the update, but hasn’t clarified whether it’s a new version of the app or a server-side change. However, there has been no word regarding the design overhaul on the iOS counterpart of the app as of now from the company.

Trump Immigration Ban: US Government Urges Appeals Court to Reinstate Order

The US government on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s travel ban as a “lawful exercise” of his authority, and urged an appeals court to reinstate the suspended measure in the interests of national security.
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Three days after a federal judge put the controversial measure on hold, Justice Department lawyers filed a court brief challenging the nationwide injunction as “vastly overbroad.”

An hour-long telephone hearing has been set for Tuesday at 3:00pm (11:00pm GMT) in a high-stakes case that looks increasingly likely to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Two new polls show a majority of Americans now oppose the travel ban on refugees and travellers from seven mostly-Muslim nations, which sparked airport chaos and condemnation around the world – but Trump has shown no sign of bending, pushing back late Monday in a new Twitter salvo.

“The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!” he wrote.

Earlier in the day, during a visit to US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, Trump accused the media of downplaying the terror threat which his administration cites to justify its ban, saying they purposefully ignored jihadist atrocities.

Asked to explain Trump’s comments, White House spokesman Sean Spicer promised to “provide a list” of attacks that had been “underreported.”

Trump’s decree summarily denied entry to all refugees for 120 days, and travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days – a move critics charge will damage US interests. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.

The president says the ban is needed to tighten US security against foreign terror threats, citing the September 11, 2001 attacks despite the hijackers having no links to the named countries.

In its filing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the government argued that the federal court which temporarily rolled back Trump’s directive had “erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order,” asking that the ban be reinstated.

The Justice Department argued that “the executive order is a lawful exercise of the president’s authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees.”

“Even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” it said.

The government again denied that the order specifically targets Muslims, defending it as a means to review and revise screening procedures in order to “protect against terrorist attacks.”

And it said non-US citizens seeking to enter the United States for the first time have no constitutional rights to be upheld.

Friday’s decision by a federal judge in Seattle has allowed the many travelers who were suddenly barred from US soil to start trickling back in.

The State Department has said visa holders from the seven countries are allowed to travel to the US as long as their documents have not been “physically canceled.”

On Sunday, the appellate court refused to overrule the federal judge.

Attorneys general for the states of Washington and Minnesota, which won the temporary stay of the ban, have asked the appeals court to refuse to reinstate it. They were backed Monday in a court brief filed by attorneys general from 16 other US states.

Several legal and rights groups have filed in support of the states, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union.

And in an additional blow, a slew of Silicon Valley giants led by Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have filed a brief in support of the lawsuit, arguing that the ban threatens their ability to attract crucial foreign talent and investment to the United States.

Tesla and SpaceX were among another 30 companies that added their names to the filing late Monday, pushing the total to more than 120.

A group of prominent Democrats including former secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeleine Albright added their voices to the criticism, arguing that Trump’s ban could endanger US troops in the field, disrupt counterterrorism cooperation and feed Islamic State group propaganda.

Spicer insisted the administration was “absolutely not” planning to back down on its plan for extreme vetting at US borders, saying: “Once we win the case, it will go right back into action.”

But top Republicans have shown renewed signs of discomfort with the president as the controversy escalates – specifically over Trump’s virulent attacks on James Robart, the Seattle federal judge.