China-Sponsored Hackers Hit U.S. Military Contractors 20+ Times in Year: Senate Probe

China-sponsored hackers infiltrated the computer systems of U.S. Transportation Command contractors 20 times or more in just one year, a report by the Senate Armed Services Committee alleges.

The probe, the committee said in a report, has also revealed vulnerabilities in the military’s system to deploy troops and equipment in a crisis.

The revelations come after a year-long investigation which also found that the military’s U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) was aware of only two such attacks.

The problem, according to the report, is gaps in reporting requirements and neglecting to share information with fellow government entities.

“We must ensure that cyber intrusions cannot disrupt our mission readiness,” said Senator Jim Inhofe, R-OK, the committee’s ranking member. “It is essential that we put into place a central clearinghouse that makes it easy for critical contractors, in particular those that are small businesses, to report suspicious cyber-activity without adding a burden to their mission support operations.”

There were roughly 50 intrusions or other cyber-events into the computer networks of TRANSCOM contractors in the 12-month period beginning June 1, 2012. Of the 50 attempted intrusions, at least 20 were successful “advanced persistent threat” attacks — a term used to described sophisticated state-sponsored attacks.

Other findings of the investigation include:

  • A Chinese military intrusion into a TRANSCOM contractor between 2008 and 2010 that compromised e-mails, documents, user passwords and computer code.
  • A 2010 intrusion by the Chinese military into the network of a CRAF contractor in which documents, flight details, credentials and passwords for encrypted e-mail were stolen.
  • A 2012 Chinese military intrusion into multiple systems onboard a commercial ship contracted by TRANSCOM.

“The investigation found significant gaps in information sharing regarding cyber intrusions,” reads the report. “A committee survey of a small subset of TRANSCOM contractors discovered 11 intrusions by China into contractor networks. The investigation also found that the FBI or DoD were aware of at least nine other successful intrusions by China into TRANSCOM contractors. Of those 20 intrusions, TRANSCOM was only made aware of two.

“That gap was in part a result of contractors and TRANSCOM lacking a common understanding of what intrusions ought to be reported to TRANSCOM. Also, DoD agencies lack a clear understanding as to what information about cyber intrusions can and should be shared with TRANSCOM and other agencies within the Department.”

To address the problem, the committee is directing the Secretary of Defense to put in place procedures for designating companies as “operationally critical contractors.” Contractors must also report all successful cyber penetrations by known or suspected government actors, the committee said.

The DoD is being told to “establish new procedures to assist contractors in detecting and mitigating cyber threats while ensuring protections for trade secrets, commercial or financial information.”

The Secretary has been ordered to assess current reporting requirements and DoD policies and systems for sharing information on cyber intrusions. The Secretary must also assign a section of the DoD to receive intrusion reports from contractors and other government agencies.

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China-Sponsored Hackers Hit U.S. Military Contractors 20+ Times in Year: Senate Probe


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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Bing Ads Launches Campaign Planner Packed With Competitive Data, Keyword Insights

A powerful new tool is available in Bing Ads that will help search marketers better understand the competitive landscape, get new keyword ideas and fine tune their campaigns. Campaign Planner offers marketplace insights including search traffic trending and forecasting data, industry benchmarks,…



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How You Can Harness the Power of YouTube

Are you eager to convert more prospects into customers? A study released by VentureBeat in September 2014 indicates that YouTube might be the perfect way to attract new customers, get them interested in your products and/or services, and encourage them to make purchases. In fact, of all the top social media platforms, the VentureBeat research puts YouTube at the top of the charts, which might surprise some marketers who are certain that Facebook and Twitter are the keys to success.

The statistical data culled shows that YouTube leads in most areas of customer acquisition. This chart shows the specific breakdown of the results:

The chart focuses on dividing user interactions by first, middle and last sales stages. Those stages are explained as:

  • First stage: This is the stage whereby a person is first introduced to an item, whether it’s a service or a product. In a real-life scenario, someone looking for window blinds might put this keyword into their Google search engine. Google would then deliver numerous results, one of which could include a sponsored YouTube video explaining how to measure window blinds. Of course, the sponsor of the video, the window blind manufacturer or seller, would be spotlighted in an attractive position throughout the video. Thus, the customer would not only gain initial awareness of the product, but he or she might also be encouraged to go to the middle stage of the acquisition process.
  • Middle stage: At the middle stage of the buying process, the customer who saw the YouTube video on window blinds might begin to see re-targeted advertisements for the company that sponsored the video. Whether those re-targeted ads are for other YouTube videos, or are directing the customer to take another step, they are building awareness of and – hopefully – interest in the window blinds. Consequently, the customer may watch other videos, such as one on picking out the right type of window blind for a certain size window. This stage can also be considered a stage where research is being done.
  • Last stage: This is the final stage in the buying process, and it’s a critical one. At this point, the customer will actively start to seek out the product or service. More research will be done, and if all goes well for the seller, a purchase will be made. After all, most customers at this point have done their homework and are ready to buy.

As the chart shows, YouTube leads the way in the first and last stages, as well as instances where there is only one interaction that takes place (“only” as labeled in the chart.) Interestingly, Twitter has a stronger hold than any of the other social media platforms for middle stages, where mid-level research is actively done.

Using the Latest Data to Create a Solid Marketing Plan

With the statistical information at our fingertips, we can begin to cultivate a smarter marketing plan to increase sales of a product or service. By adjusting how we focus on each buying stage, we can urge more buyers to go through the sales funnel.

Let’s say that we are launching a new type of exercise equipment for the home fitness enthusiast. If we want to get the most return on investment for our marketing and PR dollars, we may want to put the most effort into creating sponsored and unsponsored YouTube videos that show the equipment in action. A Google Adwords campaign can help direct people to these videos.

In addition, we can increase our first stage sales cycle numbers by also investing in Facebook and, if applicable, LinkedIn advertisements. Facebook and LinkedIn came in second place in the customer acquisition cycle as charted by VentureBeat; therefore, they may prove to be worthwhile in terms of getting a new product seen by the most people.

When we’re ready to launch the second stage of the sales cycle, we cannot ignore the power of Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Each of these platforms seems to have a high rate of return for customers who are eager to find out more information about a product. This translates to making certain that we aren’t avoiding these channels. However, the message we are sending should be one that is appropriate for researchers of our product: stats, testimonials, scientific studies, price comparisons, etc.

During the last stage of the sales funnel, we can revert back to mainly focusing on YouTube, with a secondary focus on both Facebook and Google+. Converting interested prospects into full-blown buyers will demand strong call-to-action videos, posts and advertisements. Remember that since the customers have probably decided to buy, they are open to more assertive encouragement. Sales and special deals with limited deadlines are excellent ways to push a viewer into making the commitment.

A Final Word about Customer Stages and YouTube

We should note that not all customers follow the stages as outlined. Some jump from one stage to another; one person may buy at the first stage. Another may start to make a purchase, and then jump back to the middle stage to get better educated. This means that a comprehensive marketing plan has to balance all possibilities.

It should also be said that while YouTube is obviously the strongest player in the game, other social media channels cannot be ignored or simply used on a part-time basis. The trick is to figuring out the right percentage of your marketing budget to spend on each platform in order to get the greatest amount of returns.

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How You Can Harness the Power of YouTube


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Adrienne Erin writes twice weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses like Environmental Equipment & Supply succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to see more of her work or visit her blog Design Roast to get in touch.

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Why Nofollow Links Could Become the Redheaded Stepchildren of SEO – Search Engine Watch


Search Engine Watch
Why Nofollow Links Could Become the Redheaded Stepchildren of SEO
Search Engine Watch
The Internet is full of amazing webmasters who do have a dedication to their readers, of course, but this whole link thing isn't just the fault of manipulative link builders or SEOs. Money-hungry webmasters are just as guilty of filling the web with

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The End Is Near For Panoramio, Google To Migrate Photos To Google Maps Views

Googler Evan Rapoport announced this week that Google would be closing Panoramio, the geolocation photo site that lets users upload photos to Google Maps and Google Earth. In place of Panoramio, Google will be migrating photos to its Google Maps Views platform. In an interview with CNET, Rapoport…



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Apple Reassures Users It Has Their Back When it Comes to Privacy

Apple wants its customers to know it takes their privacy seriously.

CEO Tim Cook, in an open letter to customers on the company’s new privacy page, said Apple protects users’ privacy by pairing heavy encryption with strict policies to govern how customer data is handled.

Apple icloud-lockupThe new Apple privacy site explains in depth what happens to customer information. Cook, in his letter, which tops the site, said Apple always obtains users’ permission before collecting information. Users are also given the option to stop sharing with the company at any time.

“Every Apple product is designed around those principles. When we do ask to use your data, it’s to provide you with a better user experience,” Cook said.

“A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy. Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t ‘monetize’ the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud.”

Cook also stressed that Apple never reads users’ e-mails or other messages and was adamant the company has never co-operated with any government in its surveillance programs.

“We have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services,” Cook said. “We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will.”

The new site and letter from Cook may well be an effort to keep its customers informed, but it could also be the company’s efforts at damage control after the iPhone maker was blamed recently for the leak of celebrity photos from iCloud.

Hackers are believed to have accessed accounts after entering a wide variety of username and password combinations.

Apple earlier this week also debuted an optional two-step verification for iCloud accounts. Users must enter a numerical passcode sent by SMS to their Smartphones, in addition to usernames and passwords.

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Apple Reassures Users It Has Their Back When it Comes to Privacy


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Mobile Internet Usage Soars by 67% – StatCounter – SYS-CON Media (press release)

Mobile Internet Usage Soars by 67% – StatCounter
SYS-CON Media (press release)
The use of mobile devices to access the internet has increased by 67% worldwide over the last 12 months according to StatCounter, the independent website analytics company. The report from the company's research arm, StatCounter Global Stats, finds

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Steps Managers Can Take to Improve Team Engagement

The more engaged your employees are, the better it is for your organization. Engaged employees are more productive, and more willing to put in extra time and effort to make a project succeed. Engaged employees also tend to remain in their jobs longer, and can refer additional employees and customers. How can managers improve the engagement of their team? Here are some steps to take.

Recognize a job well done

Sometimes managers focus on the problem areas, and fail to recognize the people who are doing a good job. This can be demotivating — everyone wants to know their hard work is appreciated. Try to frequently recognize team members for good results. Thank people in your private conversations, and also give them public recognition, such as in team meetings. All levels of recognition can be helpful, from a simple “Thanks” in the hallway, to an annual performance award. Recognition can go a long way to improving engagement.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, recognition, praise and awards are cost-efficient ways of ensuring a productive, happy workforce. Strategic recognition can work miracles because if highlights social appreciation, praise and recognition employees mostly crave for.

Hold people accountable

It is also important to hold each person on the team accountable for their responsibilities. If you have good performers carrying the load, while they see that a co-worker who is underperforming is coasting by without any repercussions, it can be disheartening to the people doing all the work. Managers need to set clear expectations, and follow through to make sure all employees are meeting or exceeding those expectations. There must be a plan of action to deal with subpar employees and some consequences if they do not raise their performance.

Without crystal-clear expectations, employees will:

  • Waste precious time with redundant work
  • Waste effort because of lack of priorities
  • Bear tension due to uncertainty

With crystal-clear expectations, employees will:

  • Understand their duties
  • Understand the work they perform is important for the company
  • Help the company boost productivity
  • Have a good reason to do their jobs right

Stay on top of what’s happening

To provide either recognition or corrective feedback, you need to know what each team member is doing, and have a good understanding of their performance in their job. This doesn’t mean you need to micromanage them, but you shouldn’t be so hands-off that you become out of touch. That can lead people to feel that you don’t know or don’t care about what they’re doing, which can drive down engagement. Frequent two-way communication is critical.

Keep people in the loop

If employees feel like they are in the dark about what is going on in the company, then they won’t feel very engaged. The more information you can share with them, and the more you can bring them into the communication loop, the more they will feel connected with the larger organization. This is directly tied to engagement. Share company and department goals and challenges, and let people know how their own projects and tasks relate to those. Solicit suggestions and feedback from employees, and get them involved in decision making.

Give employees a career path

If an employee sees his or her job as a dead end with no hope for advancement, he or she is likely to be unmotivated and disengaged. Show your workers there is a career path for them in your company and take an active role in helping them progress. Discuss career path options, and make sure they know what skills they will need to advance into different positions. Provide developmental coaching, and look for opportunities for them to broaden their experience in the desired direction. This is especially important for younger employees, and can directly raise their engagement.

Managers should understand their company’s productivity is directly linked to employee engagement. When people come to work with a smile on their faces, they’re more willing to perform their duties, even if that often means spending more than eight hours at the office. To create that pleasant environment, companies should focus more on supporting team work, collaboration and communication. These traits are paramount for businesses that want to boost productivity and achieve success.

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Steps Managers Can Take to Improve Team Engagement


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William Taylor is the writer of this article. He is a regular contributor to many sites and mainly focuses on business-related topics like small businesses, entrepreneurship, negotiation, leadership, employee retention, etc. He loves to read books and play with his pet in his spare time.

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Has a Toronto designer created the wallet of the future? – blogTO (blog)


blogTO (blog)
Has a Toronto designer created the wallet of the future?
blogTO (blog)
10 must-see art shows in Toronto this winter you're in point of fact a good webmaster. The website loading velocity is incredible. It kind of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are … The Best Baby Stores in Toronto

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The American 40 Hour Week Actually Lasts 47 Hours

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