The Demise of the Cloud

NSA Snooping Compromises the Cloud Computing Industry

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg complained last week that trust in social networks and Internet companies has dived ever since cyber snooping and spying activities by the US National Security Agency began to make global headlines earlier this year.

It is no surprise. In fact, as fugitive former NSA operative Edward Snowden pointed out, the encryption system adopted by the International Organization for Standardization and its 163 member countries were actually written by the NSA, convincing proof that online platforms being used by Internet companies and the commercial world, including banks, could in fact be easily compromised by the NSA.

In other words, the NSA designed their own secret back door into the global encryption system for their convenience. So until the encryption system has been overhauled and taken away from NSA’s control, no server and no cloud service provider is secure enough to be entrusted with any confidential data.

So why then are blindly trusting companies still moving ever more data into the cloud and onto servers, where online access to highly confidential information related to clients, customers, employees, deals, business plans and performances, etc., is available to the US snoops?

You can find the entire column here.

The Spying Game

Spies in the newsroom? Or spying on newsrooms? There’s far too much of both

(The Inside Story of the Bloomberg Spying Scandal – and Snooping on the Associated Press – and Some Remedies.)

I often get strange, tough questions from the clients of my business intelligence and commercial investigation firm, but the recent bombardments highlight a new trend: bloated or irrational paranoia, depending on your take.

Should I stop using emails? Would you recommend a personal VPN? Is it safer to discuss in person than over an electronic device?

Just last week, one client pondered whether he should be using the Bloomberg terminal and another questioned if his phone, video and Skype calls were safe. I can’t blame them. Just look at the headline news the past week alone…

Please read the full column here.

Inspecting the Inspectors

I love my MacBook, as well as my iPhone and iPod. But I now wonder if I will have the same personal struggle I had with Nike more than a decade ago.

Despite all the recent frenzy in the papers about the upcoming public listing of Facebook, Jeffrey Lin and “Lin- sanity” at the New York Knicks, Apple has continued to grab the headlines.

This is not only because its stock topped a record US$500 or chaos at Apple Stores in China when the iPhone4s first went on sale, but also due to the disclosure last week that working conditions at mainland plants making Apple products would be audited and the findings will be made public by an outside independent party.

Wait a minute, did I say independent? (Read the entire column here and there).

Terrorists and Rogue Traders

Banks haven’t learned anything about risk management

Who would have thought that someone would actually be crying “terrorist attack” from of all places, Switzerland? Well, hardly. In Asia, we know about these “terrorist attacks.” The first one occurred in Singapore in 1995 when a 27-year-old former derivatives broker named Nick Leeson caused the collapse of Barings, the United Kingdom’s oldest investment bank.

What Leeson did to Barings bears considerable resemblance to what a senior UBS management executive called, with considerable hyperbole, the “terrorist attack” that sank the bank’s former CEO Oswald Grubel in early September after the discovery of a US$2.3 billion trading scandal (Read the entire column here and there).

Job Cuts and Parties

Are Banks Serious About Cutting Costs?

It may appear that the banking sector is once again vigilantly exercising prudence and going all out with their cost-cutting measures in case another global economic and financial crisis is on the horizon.

The sector is shedding thousands of jobs – 5,000 alone in 2011 from Hong Kong’s HSBC with another 25,000 reported to be cut by the end of the year. Across the sector, as many as 60,000 jobs are set to disappear globally, according to news reports. The job cuts, as the banks’ press releases usually say, are the last resort in order to cut costs and boost profitability during the challenging times that are coming.

I doubt they have used up their cost-cutting algorithms, however. Let’s take a closer look (Read the entire column here and there).