Friday, 09 September 2011

Regulators Uneasy about Virtual Currency?

Microsoft has been watching the electronics payments space for some time, originally micropayments and now virtual currency such as Microsoft points which are used by 30 million online gamers on Xbox LIVE to buy their virtual goodies. You actually buy this virtual currency with real currency using PayPal or a credit card.

In its latest moves Microsoft is lobbying the Reserve Bank of Australia in their review of innovation in the payments system. Microsoft cites virtual currencies such as Facebook Credits and Microsoft Points as strategic tools for value exchange even between the various schemes,

Virtual currencies are however causing the regulators problems, mPesa may be more money transmission than a virtual currency but although very successful in Kenya the regulators in other countries such as India have banned it outright.

The Chinese authorities, for instance, have moved to ban the use of virtual currency in the trade of real goods and services in a bid to limit its possible impact on the financial system while the French courts are being asked to define the status of the virtual currency Bitcoin, after local banks switched off accounts for exchanges handling the currency on the presumption that Bitcoin should conform to electronic money regulations.

Smart Card for Patients

Colonel Khalid Al Kawari, Deputy Director of the General Anti-Narcotics Department of Dubai Police said a new smart card would soon be launched for patients who have medical conditions requiring the use of prescription drugs. "We have noticed that in many cases drug abusers see many doctors in different emirates and get prescriptions for strong pain killers and psychotropic drugs from them, which they use or sell," he said.

The new smart card, which is currently being planned with the Ministry of Health, will put an end to this, as each drug prescribed and filled will go on the patient's electronic record and double prescriptions for the same drug will not be filled, to prevent drug abuse, he explained.

The card, a Dubai Police initiative, once launched will be valid in all emirates and used in both public and private clinics and pharmacies to help control and monitor the use of prescription drugs.

Multicard to help Manage Emergencies

Multicard, a supplier of credential solutions, identity management and system integration services and a business unit of Identive Group, Inc. has announced it is implementing an identity management and incident command system for the North Central All-Hazards Region (NCR) of Colorado that will help emergency management personnel coordinate and document their response to incidents within the framework of federal standards. Based on the Colorado First Responder Access Card (CoFRAC) credential, the solution allows the region to validate the identity of and track personnel responding to an incident, manage resources at the site, and produce incident report documentation needed for state and federal reimbursement following an event.

As the largest of nine emergency preparedness and response regions in the state, the NCR is responsible for over 50% of Colorado's population and is comprised of a wide variety and diverse type of jurisdictions including mountainous, urban and rural communities that encompass ten counties, including Denver and Boulder. A key requirement for the program was that Multicard's solution must comply with federal Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-12, which standardizes the validation process of responder credentials, and HSPD-5, which defines processes for management of an incident. For emergency management situations, the use of an identity credential that is interoperable across local, state and federal agencies ensures that first responders showing up at an incident such as an earthquake, fire or flood can be quickly and accurately identified, assigned to appropriate tasks and tracked as to their hours and activities

Smart Cards for Thai Farmers

The Yingluck government's programme to offer credit cards for farmers will be launched by Nov 1, fulfilling one of the major campaign promises that the Pheu Thai Party pledged to the grassroots that helped it win the July election.

The committee set up by the BAAC agreed to contract a credit card system, including equipment, managed by a service provider for three years, with a budget of Bt1 billion. Rental fees have been set at Bt 648 billion including issuing 3 million credit cards with a Bt360-million budget.

A 'smart card' system will be used for security authentication.

Techniques, processes for checking transparency, and fiscal control are the main criteria for the appropriate service provider to be selected. Competitors must have scores of at least 80 in order to pass to the next round for their prices to be considered. This project's management system will include registration, credit cards issuance, partners of contract, credit limits, and debt payment.

The BAAC credit cards in their initial phase will be limited to payment for agricultural production costs from varied cooperatives and over 3,000 stores affiliated with the BAAC nationwide, with the number reaching 5,000 shops in the following years.

The cards will offer a maximum 70% loan limit in accordance with the value of each farmer-debtor's product for sale, while carrying a 7% interest rate, or zero per cent--in case a subsidy is provided by the government.

Other benefits include annual fee exemption, a 30-day interest-free period, free life insurance of no more than Bt 100, 000, emergency cash loans of Bt 10, 000, and special interest rates for cash deposits. Promotions from networked stores cover discounts, point-of-sale collections for gifts or other rewards.

In the second phase, farmers will be able to withdraw cash, make payments along with other services as offered by other service providers. The BAAC manager said some Bt20 billion is expected in the credit system in the first year, whereas Bt 44.6 billion is forecast in the second year, and about Bt 70 billion in the third year, respectively. (MCOT online news)

Job Finder App.

Dice, a career site for technology and engineering professionals, is offering its community a new way to manage their careers with free mobile apps for the iPhone and Google's Android platform. Technology professionals can quickly and easily search for jobs matching their specific talents, as well as refine the search based on location, skills, company name and employment type. In addition, Dice's apps include instant access to the latest tech industry news and career advice from more than a dozen Dice bloggers who focus on all aspects of job search and career management in technology.

With the Dice mobile apps, technology professionals will be able to:

  • Search more than 80,000 technology jobs using keywords and GPS location
  • Apply to jobs by accessing resumes and cover letters from Dice accounts
  • Share job opportunities with colleagues via email or save opportunities via the app
  • Learn about the latest hiring trends and technology news
  • Discover relevant career advice tailored to technology professionals

The Dice mobile apps are currently available and free from the Android Marketplace and the Apple App Store.

Trusteer Cybercrime Adds Browser Exploit Removal and Fraudster Machine Fingerprinting to Arsenal

Trusteer, a provider of cybercrime prevention solutions, has announced new versions of the four products which make up its Cybercrime Prevention Architecture. The new capabilities remove malicious exploits in web page content, fingerprint fraudster machines attempting to access protected web applications, protect iOS and Android mobile devices from financial malware, and provide real-time data feeds on new malware attacks. Trusteer's Intelligence Centre also warned that a second non-financial malware variant has been retrofitted with fraud capabilities and is abusing its large installed base of infected machines to attack global financial institutions.

Trusteer is still investigating this new financial malware, which it has temporarily named Shylock. Unlike the non-financial malware Ramnit which Trusteer reported last month had turned into a fraud platform, Shylock doesn't incorporate tactics from the infamous Zeus Trojan. It appears criminals have custom developed financial fraud capabilities for Shylock.

Shylock uses unique mechanisms not found in other financial malware toolkits, including:

  • An improved method for injecting code into additional browser processes to take control of the victim's computer
  • A better evasion technique to prevent malware scanners from detecting its presence
  • A sophisticated watchdog service that allows it to resist removal attempts and restore operations

"As with all financial fraud toolkits, Shylock's detection rate among anti-malware solutions and fraud detection systems is extremely low," said Amit Klein Trusteer's CTO. "The ability of cyber criminals to develop, distribute, and operate new tools under the radar of the industry is troubling. Enterprises and individuals continue to rely on security architectures that were designed 20 years ago and have limited value in protecting their critical assets against cybercrime attacks."

Report say's 90% of Passports will be e-passports by 2016

Within five years 90% of passport holders will be using e-passports that integrate a smart card IC chip. This is one of the conclusions drawn from IMS Research's recent report "Electronic Government and Health Care ID Cards - World - 2011."

A rapid migration from paper or machine readable passports to smart card-based passports (complying with the ICAO standard for ePassports) started in 2007. This has led to nearly half of all passports now in use being e-passports.

"This trend is set to continue" stated the report author Alex Green. "There are still a few countries around the world that are not yet issuing e-passports. However, most have started and with the typical five to ten year replacement rates for passports, it is only a matter of time before all passports in circulation are e-passports."

The report goes on to explore to what extent biometrics are being recorded on these e-passports. Interestingly, even for passports issued in 2010, in the majority of cases no biometric data is held on these secure ICs except for a digital image of the holders face.

IMS Research forecast that this will change. "By 2014, the situation is forecast to have been reversed" states Green. "By this time the majority of passports being issued will also include additional biometric data such a one or more finger print, iris scans, etc."

The e-passport market is examined for 40 countries in IMS Research's report "Electronic Government and Healthcare ID Cards - World - 2011". Similar analysis is also provided for the national ID cards, healthcare cards, electronic driver's licenses and a number of other government related card types.

Budapest Airport Extends use of CEM Fingerprint Terminals

CEM, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland have successfully extended the use of their CEM AC2000 access control system to cover the new E200 million terminal at Budapest airport, the Sky Court. The extension was installed by approved re-seller Bull Hungary.

The project which began in June 2009 and was opened in March 2011, involved the construction of the 40'000m2 Sky Court building as well as the renovation of 55'000m2 of existing facilities. The Sky Court links two existing terminals at Budapest Airport - 2A and 2B - and will double the airport capacity. The CEM AC2000 system was originally installed at Budapest Airport in 1995 and has been continually upgraded over the years to keep up to date with current technology. This system has now been extended to cover the new Sky Court building, with over 200 S610e & S610f fingerprint readers installed throughout the development.

S610e IP card readers feature LCD screens to provide staff with instant feedback on the system such as wrong time zone, card expiring' etc. With the added benefit of a keypad, staff can also enter PIN codes for additional security. The S610e reader offers features of an internal database for offline card validation. This means that should communication be temporarily lost with the host AC2000 server, staff can still validate cards using the card records stored in the reader's internal memory.

The project also utilises the CEM S610f fingerprint reader for added biometric security at critical airside/landside boundaries. The reader eliminates the need for a separate biometric system as fingerprint templates are captured at the same time as capturing other cardholder details on the AC2000 system, such as personnel information and image. The AC2000 software does not store an actual image of the fingerprint anywhere in the system. Instead a unique ID number is derived from the fingerprint scan and is stored into both the AC2000 central server database and the S610f Fingerprint reader database at the door.

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