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Tuesday, April 29, 2008 – Page updated at 03:56 PM

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Microsoft device helps police pluck evidence from cyberscene of crime

Seattle Times technology reporter

Microsoft has developed a small plug-in device that investigators can use to quickly extract forensic data from computers that may have been used in crimes.

The COFEE, which stands for Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor, is a USB “thumb drive” that was quietly distributed to a handful of law-enforcement agencies last June. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith described its use to the 350 law-enforcement experts attending a company conference Monday.

The device contains 150 commands that can dramatically cut the time it takes to gather digital evidence, which is becoming more important in real-world crime, as well as cybercrime. It can decrypt passwords and analyze a computer’s Internet activity, as well as data stored in the computer.

It also eliminates the need to seize a computer itself, which typically involves disconnecting from a network, turning off the power and potentially losing data. Instead, the investigator can scan for evidence on site.

More than 2,000 officers in 15 countries, including Poland, the Philippines, Germany, New Zealand and the United States, are using the device, which Microsoft provides free.

“These are things that we invest substantial resources in, but not from the perspective of selling to make money,” Smith said in an interview. “We’re doing this to help ensure that the Internet stays safe.”

Law-enforcement officials from agencies in 35 countries are in Redmond this week to talk about how technology can help fight crime. Microsoft held a similar event in 2006. Discussions there led to the creation of COFEE.

Smith compared the Internet of today to London and other Industrial Revolution cities in the early 1800s. As people flocked from small communities where everyone knew each other, an anonymity emerged in the cities and a rise in crime followed.

The social aspects of Web 2.0 are like “new digital cities,” Smith said. Publishers, interested in creating huge audiences to sell advertising, let people participate anonymously.

That’s allowing “criminals to infiltrate the community, become part of the conversation and persuade people to part with personal information,” Smith said.

Children are particularly at risk to anonymous predators or those with false identities. “Criminals seek to win a child’s confidence in cyberspace and meet in real space,” Smith cautioned.

Expertise and technology like COFEE are needed to investigate cybercrime, and, increasingly, real-world crimes.

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“So many of our crimes today, just as our lives, involve the Internet and other digital evidence,” said Lisa Johnson, who heads the Special Assault Unit in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

A suspect’s online activities can corroborate a crime or dispel an alibi, she said.

The 35 individual law-enforcement agencies in King County, for example, don’t have the resources to investigate the explosion of digital evidence they seize, said Johnson, who attended the conference.

“They might even choose not to seize it because they don’t know what to do with it,” she said. “… We’ve kind of equated it to asking specific law-enforcement agencies to do their own DNA analysis. You can’t possibly do that.”

Johnson said the prosecutor’s office, the Washington Attorney General’s Office and Microsoft are working on a proposal to the Legislature to fund computer forensic crime labs.

Microsoft also got credit for other public-private partnerships around law enforcement.

Jean-Michel Louboutin, Interpol’s executive director of police services, said only 10 of 50 African countries have dedicated cybercrime investigative units.

“The digital divide is no exaggeration,” he told the conference. “Even in countries with dedicated cybercrime units, expertise is often too scarce.”

He credited Microsoft for helping Interpol develop training materials and international databases used to prevent child abuse.

Smith acknowledged Microsoft’s efforts are not purely altruistic. It benefits from selling collaboration software and other technology to law-enforcement agencies, just like everybody else, he said.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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Enterprise 2.0 To Become a $4.6 Billion Industry By 2013

Written by Sarah Perez / April 20, 2008 9:01 PM / 25 Comments


A new report released today by Forrester Research is predicting that enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies is going to increase dramatically over the next five years. This increase will include more spending on social networking tools, mashups, and RSS, with the end result being a global enterprise market of $4.6 billion by the year 2013.

This change is not without its challenges. Although there is money to be made in the industry by vendors, Web 2.0 tools by their very nature are defined by commoditization; as is much of the new social media industry, a topic we touched on briefly here, when discussing how content has become a commodity.

For vendors specifically, there are 3 main challenges to becoming successful in this new industry, including:

  1. I.T. shops being wary of what they perceive as “consumer-grade” technology
  2. Ad-supported web tools generally have “free” as the starting point
  3. Web 2.0 tools will have to now compete in a space currently dominated by legacy enterprise software investments

What is Enterprise Web 2.0?

Most technologists segment the Web 2.0 market between “consumer” Web 2.0 technologies and “business” Web 2.0 technologies. So what does Enterprise 2.0 include then?

Well, what it doesn’t include is consumer services like Blogger, Facebook, Netvibes, and Twitter, says Forrester. These types of services are aimed at consumers and are often supported by ads, so they do not qualify as Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Instead, collaboration and productivity tools based on the concepts of web 2.0, but designed for the enterprise worker will count as being Enterprise 2.0. In addition, for-pay services, like those from BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft, Awareness, NewsGator Technologies, and Six Apart will factor in.

Enterprise marketing tools have also expanded to include Web 2.0 technologies. For example, money spent on the creation and syndication of a Facebook app or a web site/social network widget could be considered Enterprise 2.0. However, pure ad spending dollars, including those spent on consumer Web 2.0 sites, will not count as Enterprise 2.0.

Getting Past the I.T. Gatekeeper

One of the main challenges of getting Web 2.0 into the enterprise will be getting past the gatekeepers of traditional I.T. Businesses have been showing interest in these new technologies, but, ironically, the interest comes from departments outside of I.T. Instead, it’s the marketing department, R&D, and corporate communications pushing for the adoption of more Web 2.0-like tools.

Unfortunately, as often is the case, the business owners themselves don’t have the knowledge or expertise to make technology purchasing decisions for their company. They rely on I.T. to do so – a department that currently spends 70% of their budget maintaining past investments.

Despite the absolute mission-critical nature of I.T. in today’s business, the department is often provided with slim budgets, which tends to only allow for maintaining current infrastructure, not experimenting with new, unproven technologies.

To make matters worse, I.T. tends to view Web 2.0 tools as being insecure at best, or, at worst, a security threat to the business. They also don’t trust what they perceive to be “consumer-grade” technologies, which they don’t believe have the power to scale to the size that an enterprise demands.

In addition, I.T. departments currently work with a host of legacy applications. The new tools, in order to compete with these, will have to be able to integrate with existing technology, at least for the time being, in order to be fully effective.

Finally, given the tight budgets, there is still a chance that even if a particular tool does meet all the requirements to get in the door at a particular company, I.T. or other company personnel utilizing the service may try to exploit the free version of the service if the price point for the “enterprise” version gets to be too high. They may also choose to look for a free, open source alternative.

Enterprise 2.0 Adoption

How Web 2.0 Will Reach $4.6 Billion

All that being said, the Web 2.0 market, as  small as it is now, is, in fact, growing. In 2008, firms with 1000 employees or more will spend $764 million on Web 2.0 tools and technologies. Over the next five years, that expenditure will grow at a compound annual rate of 43%.

The top spending category will be social networking tools. In 2008, for example, companies will spend $258 million on tools like those from Awareness, Communispace, and Jive Software. After social networking, the next-largest category is RSS, followed by blogs and wikis, and then mashups.

The vendors expected to do the best in this new marketplace will be those that bundle their offerings, offering the complete package of tools to the businesses they serve.

However, newer, “pure” Web 2.0 companies hoping to capitalize on this trend will still have to fight with traditional I.T. software for a foothold, specifically fighting with the likes of Microsoft and IBM. Many I.T. shops will choose to stick with their existing software from these large, well-known vendors, especially now that both are integrating Web 2.0 into their offerings.

Microsoft’s SharePoint, for example, now includes wikis, blogs, and RSS technologies in their collaboration suite. IBM offers social networking and mashup tools via their Lotus Connections and Lotus Mashups products and SAP Business Suite includes social networking and widgets.

What this means is that much of the Web 2.0 tool kit will simply “fade into the fabric of enterprise collaboration suites,” says Forrester. By 2013, few buyers will seek out and purchase Web 2.0 tools specifically. Web 2.0 will become a feature, not a product.

Enterprise 2.0 Spending

Other Trends

Other trends will also have an impact on this new marketplace, including the following:

External Spending Will Beat Internal Spending: External Web 2.0 expenditure will surpass internal expenditure in 2009, and, by 2013, will dwarf internal spending by a billion dollars. Internally, companies will spend money on internal social networking, blogs, wikis, and RSS; externally, the spending patterns will be very similar. Social networking tools that provide customer interaction, allowing customers the ability to create profiles, join discussion boards, and read company blogs, for example, will receive more investment and development over the next five years.

Europe & Asia Pacific Markets Grow: Europe and Asia Pacific will become more substantial markets in 2009. Fewer European companies have embraced Web 2.0 tools, leaving much room for growth. Asia Pacific will also grow in 2009.

Web 2.0 Graduates from “Kids’ Stuff”:  Right now, it’s people between the ages of 12 and 17 that are the more avid consumers of social computing technology, with one-third of them acting as content creators. Meanwhile, only 7% of those 51-61 do the same. However, this is another trend that is going to change over the next few years. By 2011, Forrester believes that users of Web 2.0 tools will mirror users of the web at large.

Retirement of Baby Boomers: As with many things, it takes the passing of the older generation from executive status into retirement before a true shift can occur. Over the next three years, millions of baby boomers will retire and the younger workers brought in to fill the void will not only want, but will expect similar tools in the office as those they use at home in their personal lives.

What It All Means

For vendors wanting to play in the Enterprise 2.0 space, there are a few key takeaways to be learned from this research. For one, they can help ensure their success in this niche by selling across deployment types. That is, plan to grow beyond just selling to either the internal or external market.

Another option is to segment the enterprise marketplace by industry and then by company size. Some industries are more customer-focused than others when it comes to the external market, so developing customized solutions for a particular industry could be a key to success. For internal tools, focusing efforts on deploying enterprise grade tools that include things like integration or security will help sell products to larger customers. Other  levels of service can be designed specifically for the SMBs, featuring simple, self-provisioning products to help cut down on costs.

Finally, vendors looking to grow should consider making a name for themselves in the Europe or Asia Pacific markets, where the opportunity comes from the expected increased investment rates for Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 in those geographic regions.

However, the most valuable aspect of this change for vendors is the knowledge they obtain about how to run a successful SaaS business – something that will help propel them into the next decade and beyond and, ultimately, will provide more value than any single Web 2.0 offering alone ever will.

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The Grid: The Next-Gen Internet?

Douglas Heingartner Email 03.08.01 | 2:00 AM

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — The Matrix may be the future of virtual reality, but researchers say the Grid is the future of collaborative problem-solving.

More than 400 scientists gathered at the Global Grid Forum this week to discuss what may be the Internet’s next evolutionary step.

Though distributed computing evokes associations with populist initiatives like SETI@home, where individuals donate their spare computing power to worthy projects, the Grid will link PCs to each other and the scientific community like never before.

 

The Grid will not only enable sharing of documents and MP3 files, but also connect PCs with sensors, telescopes and tidal-wave simulators.

IBM’s Brian Carpenter suggested “computing will become a utility just like any other utility.”

Carpenter said, “The Grid will open up … storage and transaction power in the same way that the Web opened up content.” And just as the Internet connects various public and private networks, Cisco Systems’ Bob Aiken said, “you’re going to have multiple grids, multiple sets of middleware that people are going to choose from to satisfy their applications.”

As conference moderator Walter Hoogland suggested, “The World Wide Web gave us a taste, but the Grid gives a vision of an ICT (Information and Communication Technology)-enabled world.”

Though the task of standardizing everything from system templates to the definitions of various resources is a mammoth one, the GGF can look to the early days of the Web for guidance. The Grid that organizers are building is a new kind of Internet, only this time with the creators having a better knowledge of where the bottlenecks and teething problems will be.

The general consensus at the event was that although technical issues abound, the thorniest issues will involve social and political dimensions, for example how to facilitate sharing between strangers where there is no history of trust.

Amsterdam seemed a logical choice for the first Global Grid Forum because not only is it the world’s most densely cabled city, it was also home to the Internet Engineering Task Force’s first international gathering in 1993. The IETF has served as a model for many of the GGF’s activities: protocols, policy issues, and exchanging experiences.

The Grid Forum, a U.S.-based organization combined with eGrid – the European Grid Forum, and Asian counterparts to create the Global Grid Forum (GGF) in November, 2000.

The Global Grid Forum organizers said grid communities in the United States and Europe will now run in synch.

The Grid evolved from the early desire to connect supercomputers into “metacomputers” that could be remotely controlled. The word “grid” was borrowed from the electricity grid, to imply that any compatible device could be plugged in anywhere on the Grid and be guaranteed a certain level of resources, regardless of where those resources might come from.

Scientific communities at the conference discussed what the compatibility standards should be, and how extensive the protocols need to be.

As the number of connected devices runs from the thousands into the millions, the policy issues become exponentially more complex. So far, only draft consensus has been reached on most topics, but participants say these are the early days.

As with the Web, the initial impetus for a grid came from the scientific community, specifically high-energy physics, which needed extra resources to manage and analyze the huge amounts of data being collected.

The most nettlesome issues for industry are security and accounting. But unlike the Web, which had security measures tacked on as an afterthought, the Grid is being designed from the ground up as a secure system.


Conference participants debated what types of services (known in distributed computing circles as resource units) provided through the Grid will be charged for. And how will the administrative authority be centralized?

Corporations have been slow to cotton to this new technology’s potential, but the suits are in evidence at this year’s Grid event. As GGF chairman Charlie Catlett noted, “This is the first time I’ve seen this many ties at a Grid forum.”

In addition to IBM, firms such as Boeing, Philips and Unilever are already taking baby steps toward the Grid.

Though commercial needs tend to be more transaction-focused than those of scientific pursuits, most of the technical requirements are common. Furthermore, both science and industry participants say they require a level of reliability that’s not offered by current peer-to-peer initiatives: Downloading from Napster, for example, can take seconds or minutes, or might not work at all.

Garnering commercial interest is critical to the Grid’s future. Cisco’s Aiken explained that “if grids are really going to take off and become the major impetus for the next level of evolution in the Internet, we have to have something that allows (them) to easily transfer to industry.”

Other potential Grid components include creating a virtual observatory, and doctors performing simulations of blood flows. While some of these applications have existed for years, the Grid will make them routine rather than exceptional.

The California Institute of Technology’s Paul Messina said that by sharing computing resources, “you get more science from the same investment.”

Ian Foster of the University of Chicago said that Web precursor Arpanet was initially intended to be a distributed computing network that would share CPU-intensive tasks but instead wound up giving birth to e-mail and FTP.

The Grid may give birth to a global file-swapping network or a members-only citadel for moneyed institutions. But just as no one ten years ago would have conceived of Napster — not to mention AmIHotOrNot.com — the future of the Grid is unknown.

An associated DataGrid conference continues until Friday, focusing on a project in which resources from Pan-European research institutions will analyze data generated by a new particle collider being built at Swiss particle-physics lab CERN.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is venture capital’s love affair with Web 2.0 over? | Tech news blog – CNET News.com

“Silicon Valley remains the hotbed of Web 2.0 activity, but the hipness of start-ups with goofy names is starting to cool in the face of economic reality.
Dow Jones VentureSource on Tuesday released numbers of venture capital activity in Web 2.0 companies and declared that the ‘investment boom may be peaking.’
Venture capitalists put $1.34 billion into 178 deals in 2007, an 88 percent jump over 2006. But once you strip out the $300 million that Facebook raised from Microsoft and others, the numbers don’t look as bullish.
The pace of deal flow, or the number of fundings, has slowed, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Deal flow in 2007 went up 25 percent to 178 deals, but nearly all of those occurred outside the Bay Area, where the number of deals slipped downward.
‘Web 2.0 deals in the Bay Area actually dropped from 74 deals in 2006 to 69 last year and investments were down 3 percent from the $431 million invested in 2006. It’s clear that the real growth in the Web 2.0 sector is happening outside of the Bay Area,’ Jessica Canning, director of global research at Dow Jones VentureSource, said in a statement.”

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