October rites and IT musings

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By Ike Suarez This IT reporter is at the Torch Restaurant in Greenhills, San Juan. It is late October and is a day towards the weekend. Halloween is just several days away and it is time once more for Norton by Symantec’s Rites of October. Each year on this month, this security solutions vendor holds a media event to announce the following releases: a new security solution, new enhancements to its current solutions, its Cybercrime Report for the Year. The event is on its nth year already and this IT reporter has covered it for nearly as many nth times. It now forms part of the traditions of the Philippine IT industry. The venue for this year’s Norton event has taken a somewhat different tack from where they have traditionally taken place over the years. It is in Greenhills, not at the Ayala Center — the area media professionals who belong to the tribe of technology journalists have declared as their happy hunting grounds for news gathering. And so, mid-morning of that day, this IT journalist finds himself walking along the street leading to the venue. Admittedly, it takes several minutes to do so after having alighted from a bus which has stopped by a mall once notorious as a software pirate’s haven. Good thing the weather is fair and the temperature cool. He does finally find his sway to the venue. And lo and behold. Most of the attendees when he arrives there are bloggers. For this IT reporter, this is something new. He muses that this perhaps is a portent of the eventual migration of journalism from the newsroom to the blogosphere. Several minutes more pass by, however. More journalists arrive after struggling to find the venue. Their number now equals that of the bloggers. For now, they can hold their own against this emergent species of Web-based and individualistic communicators. And so, the press briefing at last begins. It remains true to the format of previous Norton by Symantec events: announcements of a new product release, enhancements to current products, and its Cybercrime Report for the year. Main presenter for this year is Jason Mok, the vendor’s consumer sales manager for Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Also on hand is Andy Lau, ACW Group managing director whose company is the distributor for Norton by Symantec in the region. Mok is a newbie to the Philippines and appears to still have not gotten over his discovery of adobo and kare-kare the night before. Once in a while, he makes reference to these dishes as he talks to his audience. He states that the Norton 360 Multi-Device is in response to the fact that users today own more than one IT device. Mostly mobile and connected to the Internet, these devices are multi-platform — Windows-based PCs, Macs, Android smartphones and tablets. Owners use them quite often to log on to online social networks. Mok therefore says the Norton 360 Multi-Device enables users to install the solution in up-to-three of their devices. “It’s Windows 8 ready,” he assures. That users utilize their devices to connect to online social networks heightens their vulnerability to cybercriminals, who have found these networks excellent media for digital and unlawful activities, according to him. He adds users of these devices often make easy prey for such criminals. Likewise, users can activate protection for their devices with only one key. The solution also offers new defenses against attacks and scams via online social networks. It also gives users warnings on potentially risky sites. Before going further, Mok makes the admission most users have already known. He owns to the fact that Norton by Symantec solutions have had the reputation of slowing down Internet connectivity. He softens his admission by pointing out this had been caused by the several layers of protection built into these products. Norton by Symantec has now reengineered its solutions though, according to him. The same layers of protection remain, but the solutions now enable faster connectivity to the Internet. Which takes us now to the Norton 2012 Cybercrime Report. Once upon a time, the yearly reports only gave out the types of malware spreading around the world and their places of origin. And yes, there were years when the Philippines was high on the list of countries in Asia used as transit points for such malware. The Philippines’ notoriety as such, however, never matched that of China’s. Over the years though, things became more complex. Criminals began to replace emotionally immature adolescents as authors of malware. And then, cybercrime syndicates began forming to spread their tentacles globally. Today, with connectivity increasingly taking a social character, cybercriminals have now targeted these networks. At the press briefing, Mok says their latest Cybercrime Report had been based on data gathered from a sample size of 13,000 adult respondents in 24 countries. Cybercrime has cost its victims worldwide $110 billion in losses, according to him. Mok says that among the findings are the following:

1) Everyday, there are 1.5 million victims of cybercrime around the world

2) Fifteen percent of online social network users had their profiles hacked

3) Around 1/3 of users have received text messages from unknown persons requesting that they click on an embedded link or dial an unknown number to retrieve voicemail.

A Q&A session follows. Journalists and bloggers take part on equal terms with both appearing knowledgeable of the topics they ask. The Q&A session is over, Norton’s October rites for 2012 also end. Once an event only for technology journalists, it has now also become an event for bloggers. Journalists had better take note of this and adapt. This year’s Norton by Symantec event is an early indicator that bloggers are now coming out on their own. With traditional media now beleaguered, journalists will eventually have to become bloggers themselves. And this is why this IT reporter has filed his reporter in this format. He is now learning how to blog. This year’s Norton event has been an eye-opener for him indeed.]]>

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