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  • While worldwide IT spending was previously projected for a slight boost in 2015, a revised forecast indicates that sales will actually decline this year, according to the latest research from Gartner. The pattern will affect industry categories across the board, including communications services, devices, IT services, data center systems and enterprise software. Fortunately, the pattern isn't linked to any decrease in demand; it's all about the rising U.S. dollar. "We want to stress that this is not a market crash," says John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. "Such are the illusions that large swings in the value of the U.S. dollar versus other currencies can create. However, there are secondary effects to the rising U.S. dollar. Vendors have to raise prices to protect costs and margins of their products, and enterprises and consumers will have to make new purchase decisions in light of the new prices." The forecast includes additional insights about the hardware, data center, enterprise software and other markets, and we've included a sampling of that information here.

  • The daily drumbeat of breaches and cyber-security attacks has become overwhelming for business and IT leaders. Yet, despite all the news and information about attack methods and protection strategies, many organizations are still struggling to keep up with the risks and dangers. At the center of the problem: zero-day risks. A recently released report from CheckPoint Software Technologies, "Check Point 2015 Security Report," snaps the issue into sharp focus. It found, among other things, that an incredible uptick in zero-day attacks occurred. These were directed at both networks and mobile devices. What's more, the cost of these events is on the rise, loss of proprietary information is a growing problem, and organizations have an increasing number of high-risk applications on their networks. "Today's cyber-criminals are sophisticated and ruthless," warned Amnon Bar-Lev, president of Check Point. "They prey on the weaknesses in a network, approaching any security layer as an open invitation to try to hack it." The security report is based on collaborative research and in-depth analysis of over 300,000 hours of monitored network traffic, from more than 16,000 threat prevention gateways and 1 million smartphones.

  • Most employees must deal with Internet outages more than once a month, according to a recent survey from WiredScore. These outages result in a significant productivity hit, as the majority of professionals have to stop doing their work once they lose online connectivity. Given this situation, the reliability of Internet services should be a top priority when assessing an office facility. Most organizational decision-makers discuss telecom and IT services when considering an office facility, but relatively few of them actually receive detailed information about the state of connectivity within their workplace, and many receive no information at all. Ultimately, these decision-makers and their employees are on a different page when it comes to evaluating office space, with decision-makers focusing primarily on cost, and employees ranking connectivity as their top consideration. In fact, there's a considerable opinion gap between decision-makers and workers about whether online access even plays a critical role in business. Nearly 450 office workers and organizational decision-makers took part in the research.

  • Cyber-criminals are increasingly using sophisticated techniques to target their victims, including malvertising, crypto-ransomware and zero-day exploits.

  • Over the last decade, distributed-denial-of-service attacks have grown from a nuisance to a persistent problem that can potentially cripple a company. The Kaspersky Lab reports that there were 12,281 unique victims of DDoS attacks during the first quarter of 2015, and these attacks targeted Web resources in 76 countries. A new report from security firm Imperva offers a deeper examination of the topic—as well as the risks and repercussions from DDoS assaults. Among other things, the "Imperva DDoS Report 2015" found that once an organization becomes a target of DDoS attacks, it remains a target; the length of a typical attack extends beyond the period most enterprise executives expect; and, if no mitigation occurs, organizations can lose millions of dollars and also wind up with frustrated customers who decide to give their business to competitive vendors. Imperva collected data in the wild during the course of mitigating thousands of DDoS assaults against Imperva Incapsula-protected domains and network infrastructures. Here are some of the key findings from the DDoS report:

  • A leading e-commerce company in China turns to a more sophisticated technology platform to ratchet up its e-commerce and analytics capabilities.

  • It takes a special breed of person to succeed as a tech company CEO. They must stay on top of the dizzying pace of technology change, while constantly making a solid business case for innovation. They need to lead a workforce of intelligent, distinctive and often nonconformist employees by demonstrating a unique vision for IT. They must find ways to sufficiently reward (either through pay, perks or satisfying job challenges) the most valuable of these team members. And they have to exude a sense of cool, collected confidence, no matter how their company is faring in a fickle, topsy-turvy marketplace. Given all of this, the following list of the top 10 tech company CEOs represents a best-of-the-best ranking of IT industry leaders who excel at these challenges. The list was compiled based on a "50 Highest Rated CEOs in 2015" report recently released by Glassdoor. IT companies rose to the occasion here, as three of the top 10 tech CEOs ended up in the top five overall CEO ranking of companies in all industries. The list is based on CEO approval ratings submitted on Glassdoor.com by employees, with each CEO needing to receive at least 100 reviews.

  • Although the methods used for malicious attacks constantly change and those in the crosshairs must continually adapt to new and changing tactics, some old and often forgotten approaches continue to do damage. One of these threats is the malicious macro. A new report from cyber-security firm Proofpoint—"How Does an Attack Technique Go from Antique to Blockbuster?"— examines these risks. By combining technical analysis of malware samples with investigation on cyber-criminal forums, the report identifies the economic and technical drivers behind the recent rise of malicious macros. It found that, from a cost perspective, malicious macros deliver the most "bang for the buck" because they combine lower up-front and maintenance costs with higher effectiveness to create a killer app for cyber-criminals. The advantages include the following: They are highly successful at evading signature and reputation-based defenses; they're easy to update at a low cost; they work across platforms; they are easy to use; and they are highly effective with social engineering techniques.

  • Quantum computing, an alternative to classical computing, will eventually help solve problems that cannot be solved today due to limitations in computing power.

  • Innovations in technology that make autonomous cars possible also deliver advances in driving safety and comfort features that we can take advantage of today.

  • When it comes to Windows 10, anticipation abounds: Microsoft reports that this version of its operating system will directly align with today's cloud- and mobile-driven world. Plus, it will be Internet of things (IoT) friendly, while accommodating both large and small devices. That said, it may take some time before Windows 10 dominates the enterprise, as a considerable majority of IT professionals report that their company will wait at least six months before deploying this OS, according to a recent survey from Adaptiva. Barriers include app compatibility and time investment, time constraints and the need to retrain staff, findings reveal. When they're ready to make the transition, many organizations will depend primarily on tools such as System Center Configuration Manager and the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) to do so, rather than using third-party systems management software, according to the survey. Until they make the switch, the companies will stick with systems such as Windows 7 and Windows 8. (Very few still run Windows XP, for which extended support ended in April.) More than 185 IT professionals and managers took part in the research, which was conducted at Microsoft Ignite 2015.

  • The use of texting as a go-to business communications tool continues to grow, according to a recent survey from RingCentral. The majority of business professionals surveyed said they send at least 20 texts a day, and a notable share send 60 or more. Many employees can't stand to let an unanswered text linger for longer than 10 minutes, and most depend on multiple messaging apps to do their job, findings show. There are, of course, consequences as a result of this activity: Workers are feeling communications overload on at least an occasional basis—if not all the time. Meanwhile, a great many of the respondents admitted to texting while driving—a deadly practice to be avoided, as any highway safety expert will tell you. (If you need convincing, consider these stats: Texting increases the likelihood of a crash by 23 times, as drivers are distracted from looking at the road for at least five seconds per text. If traveling at 55 miles per hour, that's enough time to drive across the length of a football field.) Approximately 250 business professionals took part in the research.