Virtual and Augmented Reality: Transforming The Way We Look At The Internet and Data Security

Although many gaming and entertainment platforms have developed countless versions of VR in the last few years, the use of virtual reality is far from a solely game-driven industry. In fact, the implications of VR in the IT world are enough to provide solid proof that this form of virtual technology can be utilized in the business and tech sectors effectively and continuously alike.

However, despite the immaculate list of pros involved in virtual and augmented reality, the question of cyber and data security still remains. In 2016, the number of reported data breaches increased by 40 percent and 45 percent of all breached organizations were in the business sector. With a device such as a VR headset which is not commonly known to boast strong security systems, modern-day hackers can turn the IoT that these devices are connected to into a platform with which to wreak havoc on businesses, government officials, and even consumers.

cyber security

However, with every new case of data intrusion, yet another company stands tall and responds with a solution in order to make this form of technology safer in the interim. Furthermore, companies have begun to utilize things such as Steganography and SpatialOS to prevent rather than play offense in this cyber security war and the results are not only positive but also are reforming the way we look at the internet and technology as a whole.

Virtual and Mixed Reality in IT, Design, and Development

In the last few years, since the first virtual reality prototypes were released, companies and consumers alike have been unable to contain their excitement and their demand. In fact, in 2016, 6.3 million VR headsets were shipped across the globe according to a Super Data Report, and over $2 billion was invested in virtual reality according to a Digi-Capital report likewise.

The implications of virtual reality in business have been immense ranging from 3D modeling and testing all the way to 3-DAT data analysis that allows companies to use 3D VR techniques to assess financial and business data. In turn, the future of virtual and augmented reality continues to expand far beyond its original console-based reaches.

For instance, by utilizing CAVE fully immersive virtual reality along with Haptic gloves such as Neurodigital Technologies’ Gloveone showcased at CES and a motion tracker such as HTC’s VIVE tracker, you can not only test and manipulate models, products, and architectural designs but also be able to feel and interact with them as if they were real objects.

Furthermore, the University of Warwick’s Physics researcher, Richard Wellard, created a research company known as 3-DAT to help reduce the time it takes businesses to discover trends and find ways to improve their business model using 3-dimensional data. This kind of 3D technology can be used to track data for IT portfolio management and business model improvements and can help companies in the IT sector review massive amounts of data with ease.

After being part of a team of researchers from Warwick tasked with the difficult analysis of three-dimensional paths of charged particles in near Earth space, Wellard discovered that utilizing 3D technology to analyze the data reduced the time it took to not only compile but rather analyze said data in a far more efficient manner.

Therefore, he created a virtual reality 3D data modeling company dedicated to making data analysis a virtual effort and allowing companies the ability to actually see their data and determine multiple plans for improvement in far more efficient and interactive way. However, even utilizing software such as FileMaker integrated with RESTful API’s, IBM’s Watson Analytics, or Linux’s R or ROOT tools in the future can become wonderful ways to integrate programs currently being used by your business into a virtual platform for better analysis.

Another way companies have begun to utilize Virtual Reality is through its ability to connect various web design tools in order to make web design a far more interactive and easy-to-use process. Although some speculate this could mean a decline in the need for web designers in the next few decades, the market is still rather small and learning to integrate this new tool in your web design department now may help to gain the upper hand if it does become a more substantial form of design in the future.  By using VR design tools such as Javascript’s API, WebVR, and looking into some of the ways that Virtual Reality design can be used at Mozilla’s MozVR, you can begin to learn VR design on multiple platforms including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Google Cardboard.

However, with any connection of devices with low-security standards, the threat of identity theft and data breaches still remains. With 6.3 million VR headsets connected to the IoT, the probability of a massive malware infecting said devices and infiltrating personal data from these headsets is immense and the actions that these VR and IT companies take in the next decade will significantly affect the security of their consumers, companies, and government alike.

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and IoT – Is it Safe?

With the demand for Virtual Reality increasing daily, companies looking to be ahead of their competitors in the release of their VR technology chose to bypass many of the privacy and security standards that would make these devices far more safe to connect to the IoT and various other programs and applications in conjunction with them.

On the subject of supply and demand leading to security issues, Ben Smith, CEO of Laduma, stated, “As new developments are rushed to market in order to gain a lead on competitors, there is a risk that mistakes are being made.” Because of the massive popularity that Virtual and Augmented Reality has gained in the last few years, companies were forced to either put out products that were not necessarily secure or forego their inclusion in the massive VR market of 2016. However, it is no surprise that the connection of multiple insecure devices on a network creates a perfect entry for hackers to retrieve the massive amounts of data which Virtual Reality platforms both receive from the users themselves as well as collect without necessary consent for marketing purposes. In fact, Tata Communication’s Srinivasan CR once stated on the subject, “Every device connecting into a network is a potential vulnerability which can be used to infiltrate the network itself and other devices connected to it.”

When the Oculus Rift was released in March of last year, terms of their agreement stated that they would not only receive basic information from users but also far more personal information such as the user’s email, occupation, date of birth, and place of residence in order to build their marketing analytics and target these individuals based on their location, demographic, and interests. On top of this, Oculus Rift users are also tracked via their online transactions and web and app usage patterns in order for the company to specifically create targeted marketing campaigns that include your personal interests and items you either wanted to buy or need for the items you recently bought.

However, although the company claims to have substantial security measures in place, this collection of data in conjunction with the weak devices connected to the server create a massive opening for identity thieves, data manipulators, visual terrorism, and phishing alike. Furthermore, when using augmented reality such as Pokemon Go or Mixed Reality such as the recent creation from Dan Gottlieb, geolocation is highly important and this poses a threat for many individuals with weak security devices as this makes you traceable and can allow hackers to track your daily routine in order to attack you physically (think back to the people luring Pokemon Go players into alleyways and robbing them) or discovering information such as banks and other location that you frequent which can make stealing your identity even more effective.

Lastly, applications such as OpenSimulator Metaverse’s HyperGrid and Content Delivery Networks (CDN) are another way in which hackers have begun to attack VR users and their personal information. With OpenSimulator Metaverse’s HyperGrid, in particular, you are connected along with various other VR devices via hyperlinks, however, these links are often unsafe which allows for hackers to infiltrate the devices and intrude upon the data collected from them.

Similarly, CDN’s have begun to take hold in the VR world since E3 as they allow for companies to deliver content such as new videos with VR compatibility to their consumers using a system of distributed servers based on geolocation, however, DDoS CDN attacks have continued to rise in the last few years as hackers have discovered new ways to infiltrate the firewalls of these CDN’s and create forwarding-loop attacks likewise time and time again. With this said, utilizing CDN’s in VR could lead to countless infected devices and once again create a botnet which could lead to the leaking and theft of countless consumers’ personal data.

Visual Terrorism, Botnets, Facial Recognition, and Phishing

Although identity theft aspects regarding VR are fairly straightforward in nature, visual terrorism, botnets, facial recognition, and phishing are all slightly more unorthodox ways in which hackers have begun to utilize VR to their benefits. Although many consumers are unaware of these malicious forms of cyber attacks and how they work, they continue to pose a serious threat to VR users and companies across the globe.

Visual terrorism, in particular, is a large concern of multiple countries due to the fact that it consists of intensifying the negative effects that using VR have on a person including dizziness, nausea, muscle twitching, blurred vision, headaches, and seizures. By hacking into weak devices and spreading malware that creates loud flashes, bright colors, or spinning screens, hackers can create mass visual attacks on VR users and even be the cause of some consumer’s deaths in the process.

Furthermore, a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina recently discovered a new way to bypass modern face authentication by using synthetic faces displayed on the screen of a VR device. In the past, facial authentication systems were used in multiple different ways including mobile payment and sensitive data safety precautions for larger companies, however, these past recognition softwares could be easily fooled by the use of a picture in from of the screen. However, now these devices focus on nearly 80 different nodes in a person’s face and textures to analyze their faces in a far more complex manner.

Despite this, the University of North Carolina was able to take a few pictures from each of their tested individuals’ social media accounts and create highly accurate 3D models that were then displayed on the screen of a VR device and put up to the camera of the device looking to achieve facial recognition. In doing so, all five apps that were tested were unaware of the difference between the real thing and the 3D model posing yet another unconventional yet highly terrifying security threat for companies and consumers alike.

Similarly, phishing is another way that hackers can utilize this tech for their malicious intent. Phishing is a technique in which hackers create false identities in order to trick individuals into doing things they would not normally do. For instance, by hacking into VR headsets and using fake virtual objects or pretending to be updates for the system, consumers may unwittingly deploy trojans into the network or leak their passwords to hackers leading to a far easier entry way for hackers to manipulate data in the cloud.

Another threat which has been seen quite often in the last year within the IoT, in particular, are botnets spreading malicious malware such as Mirai into connected devices leading to massive DDoS attacks. Mirai malware, in particular uses a table of nearly 60 common factory default usernames and passwords to target devices with weak security and infect them with the malware. From there, these devices monitor a command and control server to to bypass anti-DoS software.

Along with BASHLITE, Mirai Malware infected a myriad of weak cameras connected to Krebs on Security in September of last year and had the largest attack strength in history at 665 Gbps, however, this was far from the most powerful attack on the IoT performed by this malware. In October, only one month after the attack on Krebs on Security, Mirai Malware infected countless more devices and previously infected cameras from the Krebs attack combined with these newly infected devices and joined a network which included multiple high-profile companies on a DNS service provider known as Dyn. This led to the inaccessibility of multiple large websites including Github, Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, Netflix, and more.

This attack set a new record that was staggering at best clocking in with an attack strength of 1.2 Tbps. In response, ARM CEO, Simon Segars, stated, “If you’re a device maker building IoT products, you really ought to be worrying about updating the firmware that’s in it.” In fact, ARM has since then developed Mbed Cloud to help companies push updates to their device’s chips and customize OS in order to prevent malware attacks such as the DDoS attacks on Dyn and Krebs.

On top of this, multiple other companies have begun to take botnet security extremely seriously implementing new devices and programs to prevent data intrusion and DDoS attacks alike. Securifi, launched January 23rd of this year, in particular, has decided to help the IT professionals looking to utilize VR or retrieve data for their company at home by creating a device which specifically defends against botnets to ensure that your home devices with weak security are not affected by hackers in the long run.

What We Learned From Mirai Malware

One key thing that IT professionals as well as both Dyn and Krebs on Security were able to determine by analyzing the attacks was that they primarily came from cameras and DVR’s with weak security. The issue with this is the fact that it showed us that weak security home devices, in particular, are what Mirai tends to target. With this being said, the push for VR without following proper security measures as well as its dependence on the average consumer whom typically does not focus on security and utilizes weak passwords or default settings all too often may be the perfect formula for malware such as Mirai to create its third record-setting DDoS attack.

In fact, multiple companies claim that this attack proves that AI’s utilized in weak security devices like VR headsets and cell phones will undoubtedly be the next systems attacked by malware and hackers in 2017. On the subject, Alex Matthews of Positive Technology even said, “AI agents will be, perhaps, the most dangerous VR objects. AI is a hard task for security checks since the range of its actions and reactions could be pretty wide.” With this said, it is no stretch to assume that 2017 will be the year of VR data breaches and the companies combatting it will continue to help businesses utilize VR without the fear of becoming a victim of data intrusion in the process leading to a continuation in the expansion of VR technology and its profitability alike.

Similarly, after Krebs on Security was attacked, Brian Krebs stated, “The internet will soon be flooded with attacks.” Despite this seeming rather dark in nature, Krebs and the countless other IT professionals witnessing the effects of connecting weak devices to the IoT may not be far off. By analyzing data from attacks such as these two and learning how to counteract them, we can ensure that the millions of VR users out there including the countless professional settings which utilize this new tech for data analysis specifically are not the next target for the malicious world of hackers and their botnets alike.

Using SpatialOS, Steganography, Cloud Security, Botnet and IoT security, and Load Balancing to Promote Data Security

As data security has become an issue in VR through the IoT and multiple companies have seen the incredible impact VR can have on data analysis, 3D modeling, and more, therein lies a disparity between security and insecure devices which multiple companies are choosing to tackle head-on. For instance, when two representatives from the British government came to the company Improbable in order to use their SpatialOS to create a 3D model of the internet, Improbable rose to the occasion with style.

By using SpatialOS, they were able to demonstrate a dynamic model of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) at scale and study it for various weak spots in order to determine where hackers could attack or were attacking currently. In doing this, they were able to prevent multiple data breaches before they ever became a problem and the use of this form of 3D modeling continues to be an impressive but extremely useful tool for governments to regulate weak devices and the companies providing them.

Furthermore, with companies hopping on the VR bandwagon left and right, accessing data remotely to work from home on virtual models or the testing of products using 3D technology is slowly becoming yet another way for hackers to attack the weak VR devices and access sensitive information from companies world wide. Therefore, the use of steganography in files which can be shared to the VR such as audio or video is slowly becoming a more common process.

With so many of these VR devices connecting to the cloud to become a part of the IoT, companies have tried to target the weak points in cloud security in order to protect these connected devices. However, because of the sheer amount of data being provided, some individuals speculate that using PCI DSS security standards and data anonymization techniques are our only hope at combatting data insecurity.

For instance, with PCI DSS data security standards, they tend to focus on ways to build cloud security as well as CDN security and increase concurrent users and the reliability of apps by load balancing likewise. Furthermore, Teesside University’s Joao Ferreira is a huge proprietor of data anonymization and has even said in the past, “New data anonymization techniques will be required so that the new data being collected by VR devices does not identify its originator.”

Lastly, IoT security measures to prevent botnets have slowly risen in the tech world. In turn, devices such as F-Secure and Norton’s Geodesic Dome have been developed. These devices prevent  your weak home and office tech from being hacked into and also support IoT and cloud security likewise. By using these devices in office VR endeavors, companies can ensure their VR headsets are safe no matter how insufficient the actual technology may be and reap the benefits of virtual reality in business without the unfortunate consequences all too often associated with it in return.

In the end, it is not surprising that these incredible virtual and augmented reality headsets are becoming the bricks with which the future of technology in business is paved. However, by knowing where to step on this road and ensuring you remain safe in the process, you can continue on into the future without falling victim to the crippling effects a data breach can have on your business. With this said, the future is now, virtual reality is finally a reality, and the impact on the internet, security, and our lives that it will have continues to expand each and every day.

Conference Call Statistics

While it is true that internet technology is fast shrinking the size of the world into a local community, communication technologies have plugged into the global opportunities created to facilitate face-to-face digital communications via conference calls.
The rise and adoption of conference calls by digital communication companies has made it possible for business executives to chat or hold business discussions with employees and partners worldwide – and at the cheapest rates possible. Consumers also prefer engaging in conference calls because they pay the lowest rate imaginable or exempted from paying anything most of the time.

Statistics on how conference calls have impacted businesses and consumers

Official statistics reveal that 87% of businesses and consumers who rely on conference calls for instant communication prefer it to face-to-face communication where distance is an issue. To this extent, the following are some of the stats on the use of conference calls and how it has impacted everyone from around the world:

Video web conferencing and phone conference calls go hand-in-hand 75% of the time

Considering the rate at which business managers adopt the use of conference calls and video web conferencing, official stats reveal that both digital communications go hand-in-hand 75% of the time. Depending on the purpose and budget for the calls, business managers may decide to phone conference calls which are much cheaper than video web conferencing which require screen chats and costlier.

Users use web conference at least once per week with a 45% adoption rate

The problem with using conference calls or alternatively video web conferencing is that it is very addictive. You get hooked on it once you try it, and the positive user experience causes you to rely on their use than having to travel to communicate with your staffs or loved ones.

Conference calls save 30% in travel costs and 70% of employees prefer its use

Hundreds of auto accidents are prevented annually with the use of conference calls to engage in instant communications with people around the world simultaneously. To this extent, conference calls save users 30% in travel costs not to mention the fact that 70% of company employees around the world prefer using it because of the convenience and ease attached to its use.

For 96% of remote workers, they insist conference calls improve productivity

A 2015 survey showed that 68% of millennial job seekers would turn down job offers where remote work is not possible, while 96% of remote workers say the use of conference calls and video web conferencing improve productivity. Remote teams can send files via emails and other IM platforms and there is increased collaboration with the use digital collaboration work tools.

A survey of 75% business organizations reveal they consider the use of conference calls

Business organizations now admit conference calls and its alternatives help them save money, promote employees health, and increase productivity while enhancing global collaboration. About 75% of surveyed business organizations say they consider adopting conference calls among their global workforce to save time, money and improve results.

In a related study, researchers stated that conference calls have come to stay and may soon replace web conferencing since you don’t necessarily need a computer for connecting conference calls. In the final analysis, conference calls appear to be much cheaper than web conferencing and many businesses could use the extra saving.

It must be pointed out that what is suitable for one company may not be for the other, so businesses would do best to research on their needs and the options available for meeting such needs. Web conferencing among other digital networking communication systems has its place in daily business, but conference calls is surely the way to go.

Ultimately, conference calls are cheap and affordable; they are quick and easy to set up; and you can connect an unlimited number of people from within and outside the country simultaneously. You can save the names of people to call in advance and with the touch of a button connect tens of them without hassles. The clarity of voice calls will awe all call participants and you can be certain conference calls are the next in-thing in today’s businesses.


7 Must-Know Video Conferencing Statistics

Smart Home Trends And Statistics

Up until recently, all the hype surrounding the smart home movement was just that – publicity driven by technology companies in an effort to entice consumers. For years it seemed as though something were missing from the equation.

Now the field lies at the intersection of several high-tech trends, which finally appear to have reached a level of maturity and sophistication that they lacked in the past. As demonstrated at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in January in Las Vegas, many of the products now on the market represent a big step up from what was possible before.

The home automation arena is expected to be one of the largest tech growth sectors for the next five years. The website Statista has compiled some of the market statistics. Currently, Americans spend an average of $350 per year on smart home devices and services. At the beginning of 2017, 32.5 percent of US homes had voice-activated smart devices. That number is expected to double by 2021. Reports estimate that a total of $14.649 million in revenue can be expected for smart home products before the end of 2017.

At the heart of the newest “smart” goods are improvements in speech recognition technology. They enable a more natural interface than touchscreens or keypads and are widely deployed in today’s digital assistants, like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. This is important because a new study from Coldwell Banker shows that 72 percent of Americans want to use voice control to interact with their smart home equipment. Perhaps they’ve become familiar with this means of operating their gadgets after trying it out with their cellphones. Parks Associates has found that 39 percent of those with smartphones use voice recognition technology.

While computer hardware and software providers were the initial leaders in popularizing voice-enabled digital assistants, the crown now sits atop the head of e-retailer Amazon. Its Echo speaker and Alexa assistant have proven especially popular with the public, selling more than 5 million units since introduction in 2014. What makes the Echo so enviable is that it’s designed to play nicely with other automated home equipment, offering users a single platform from which they can access all their smart devices. Moreover, Amazon has opened the architecture up to third-party developers, who have released thousands of “skills” for Alexa, expanding “her” capabilities. With a large installed user base and the ability to add more features going forward, Amazon is a key player to watch in 2017 and beyond.

Voice recognition systems use advanced artificial intelligence principles to try to understand what users want based on conversational context cues and the history of previous commands. AI has evolved to the point where it’s capable of using sophisticated algorithms and vast troves of data to communicate and solve problems. In software like the Vivint Sky app, an algorithmically-driven agent is able to ask the user questions and thereby learn his or her behavioral patterns. For homeowners and business professionals alike, this type of AI will soon add a layer of functionality and intelligence to connected devices that enhances all aspects of everyday life. In fact, Gartner analysts estimate that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human.

Now that cloud computing allows thousands or millions of devices to communicate with each other, they can share their data and experiences to act even smarter than when they first came out of the box. Gartner Research foresees more than 20 billion devices connected through the IoT by 2020. This much quantity becomes itself a kind of quality as large databases of data empower cutting-edge analysis and learning protocols.

Security cameras are some of the electronic systems that stand to benefit the most from advances in artificial intelligence. Several models shown at CES incorporate facial recognition features, allowing them to differentiate between residents and intruders. The momentum this year is toward combining multiple elements into one camera, like integration with lighting systems and motion sensors. Anything that allows a camera to better focus in on and capture events as they unfold has applications in security monitoring. 360-degree fields of view are another compelling reason to invest in the current crop of all-knowing surveillance cameras.

Smart lights mean no more stumbling around in the dark. Bulbs from Lifx produce normal, visible illumination as well as infrared light, which allows cameras to see clearly even at nighttime. Other units contain motion detectors so that your outdoor lights will brighten if you’re moving around your property. Smart thermostats meanwhile keep tabs on the home environment, tracking and informing users of temperature, humidity, air quality and other metrics that contribute to human comfort and well-being. Although there’s little hard data yet on just how effective smart thermostats are, findings seem promising – residents who use them report energy savings of approximately $135 per year.

The best innovations from multiple areas of research are coming together to make the smart home dream a reality. This fact is perhaps nowhere as evident as it is at major trade shows, like the 2017 CES. After reviewing the exciting innovations on display, it becomes clearer than ever before that home automation systems and products will continue to grow significantly in popularity, flexibility, and convenience.

American Internet Usage Growth Statistics

Pew Internet recently published an updated fact sheet that looked into the growth of internet usage among the US population over the years. The data in the report starts in 2000 when internet usage among US adults was around 52%. This figure gradually climbed to over 60% in 2003 and it took another three years to cross the 70% barrier in 2006.

For the next six years, internet usage among US adults hovered around the 70-79 percent mark although this figure continued to move up over this period. In 2012, the figure breached the 80% figure and at last count in 2016, the internet usage among the American adult population is at 88%. Here is a table with all the relevant data.

Year Internet Usage in %
2000 52%
2001 55%
2002 59%
2003 61%
2004 63%
2005 68%
2006 71%
2007 74%
2008 74%
2009 76%
2010 76%
2011 79%
2012 83%
2013 84%
2014 84%
2015 86%
2016 88%

US Internet Usage By Age

The millennials in the 18-29 year age-group are by far the most savvy when it comes to internet usage. The usage among this group is at a staggering 99%. For perspective, this figure was at 70% in 2000. Back in the day, the 30-49 year old group had a near 10 point deficit over the then 18-29 year age group at 61%. However, as of today, that deficit has been more or less wiped out. Close to 96% of Americans in the 30-49 year old group today access the internet.

Usage among the 50-64 year group too has been impressive. Back in 2000, this age bracket saw internet usage by only 46% of the population. Today, that figure is as much as 87%. Understandably, the only laggards in this stat are the 65+ year group where only 64% of the population accesses the internet today. The corresponding figure for this group at the turn of the century was 14%. Still, an impressive growth in adoption.

18-29 30-49 50-64 65+
2000 70% 61% 46% 14%
2001 72% 65% 50% 14%
2002 76% 70% 54% 18%
2003 78% 72% 56% 22%
2004 77% 75% 61% 24%
2005 83% 79% 66% 28%
2006 86% 82% 70% 32%
2007 89% 85% 71% 35%
2008 89% 84% 72% 38%
2009 92% 84% 75% 40%
2010 92% 85% 74% 43%
2011 94% 87% 77% 46%
2012 96% 91% 79% 54%
2013 97% 92% 81% 56%
2014 97% 92% 81% 57%
2015 97% 95% 82% 63%
2016 99% 96% 87% 64%

US Internet Usage By Race

Among whites, the internet usage grew from 53% in 2000 to 88% in 2016. The growth in internet usage is a lot more impressive among the Black population where the number grew from 38% to 85% during the same period. Pew Internet started studying Hispanics only from 2010 and the usage has grown from 71% then to 88% now.

White Black Hispanic
2000 53% 38%
2001 57% 40%
2002 60% 47%
2003 63% 50%
2004 65% 49%
2005 70% 55%
2006 72% 59%
2007 75% 64%
2008 75% 63%
2009 79% 69%
2010 78% 68% 71%
2011 81% 72% 72%
2012 84% 77% 79%
2013 85% 79% 80%
2014 85% 79% 81%
2015 87% 81% 82%
2016 88% 85% 88%

US Internet Usage By Gender

There is little to separate internet usage and adoption between male and female users in the United States. Back in 2000, 54% of adult males used the internet as compared to only 50% of women. The corresponding figure for 2016 is 89% for men and 86% for women.

Men Women
2000 54% 50%
2001 57% 53%
2002 61% 57%
2003 63% 60%
2004 66% 61%
2005 69% 67%
2006 72% 70%
2007 75% 73%
2008 74% 73%
2009 77% 75%
2010 77% 76%
2011 80% 78%
2012 83% 82%
2013 84% 84%
2014 84% 84%
2015 86% 86%
2016 89% 86%

US Internet Usage By Income

Higher incomes correlate with higher usage of the internet. In 2000, just over a third of people from households with less than $30,000 annual income had access to the internet. Today, the corresponding figure is over 79%. Not surprisingly, people from high household incomes have always had good access to the internet. In 2000, 81% of people with a household income of over $75,000 had access to the internet and today, that number is 98% – very few people from this income group still don’t access the internet.

Less than $30K $30K-$49K $50K-$75K $75K+
2000 34% 58% 72% 81%
2001 36% 60% 75% 84%
2002 39% 64% 76% 85%
2003 41% 66% 81% 87%
2004 44% 68% 83% 88%
2005 49% 73% 86% 92%
2006 52% 75% 86% 92%
2007 58% 74% 86% 93%
2008 54% 78% 88% 95%
2009 60% 79% 92% 95%
2010 61% 81% 88% 95%
2011 64% 85% 90% 97%
2012 70% 87% 93% 97%
2013 72% 86% 93% 97%
2014 74% 86% 93% 96%
2015 76% 86% 94% 97%
2016 79% 90% 95% 98%

US Internet Usage By Education Levels

Adult Americans who are not even high school graduates continue to struggle when it comes to internet usage. The latest figure shows the usage numbers in this category to be just about 68%. For perspective, less than one-fifths of this population used the internet at the start of the millennium. College graduates have always been most likely to use the internet. While 78% already had access to internet in 2000, nearly everyone today does.

Less than high school graduate High school graduate Some college College graduate
2000 19% 40% 67% 78%
2001 21% 43% 68% 81%
2002 24% 48% 73% 83%
2003 25% 51% 75% 85%
2004 27% 53% 76% 86%
2005 32% 58% 80% 89%
2006 37% 61% 83% 91%
2007 40% 65% 85% 92%
2008 38% 65% 86% 93%
2009 40% 68% 87% 94%
2010 41% 68% 87% 93%
2011 43% 72% 89% 94%
2012 52% 75% 91% 96%
2013 54% 75% 92% 96%
2014 55% 76% 91% 96%
2015 62% 78% 92% 96%
2016 68% 81% 94% 98%

US Internet Usage Among Urban/Rural Population

When it comes to internet usage, there is little to separate the urban areas from the suburbs. The internet usage among these locations have not deviated by more than a handful of poicnts at point in time. What’s more surprising though is that suburban areas have always had higher internet usage than urban areas. In 2000, urban areas had a 53% internet usage while this figure was 56% in the suburbs. In 2016, the corresponding figure for urban and suburban areas stood at 89% and 90% respectively.

Rural areas are a whole different story. Back in 2000, rural US had a 42% usage rate. Over time though, this has significantly improved and in 2016, the number stood at 81%.

Urban Suburban Rural
2000 53% 56% 42%
2001 55% 59% 46%
2002 61% 63% 49%
2003 64% 65% 51%
2004 65% 67% 53%
2005 69% 70% 60%
2006 71% 73% 62%
2007 75% 77% 63%
2008 75% 77% 63%
2009 73% 76% 68%
2010 78% 79% 69%
2011 80% 81% 73%
2012 84% 84% 75%
2013 86% 85% 78%
2014 85% 85% 79%
2015 87% 88% 78%
2016 89% 90% 81%

Mobile Responsiveness Trends And Statistics

Smartphone ownership as percentage of population is at an all-time high in the United States. This figure is likely to go further up from 64.05% in 2016 to 68.4% in 2017 and then further to 78.75% by 2021. This has in turn given rise to the app economy along with a higher level of internet consumption from the mobile web.

Mobile responsiveness is a contentious topic with respect to the mobile web. It essentially refers to a website that can render as well on a mobile phone as it does on a desktop computer. Since April 2015, Google has rolled out a few updates to their search algorithm that provided websites with mobile friendly design an additional boost in their rankings. They have also been penalizing websites with non-mobile friendly interfaces and this has rankled quite a few businesses. In this article, we will take a look at some statistics regarding mobile responsiveness and how the internet landscape has been maturing to this new reality.

Consumers Like Mobile-Friendly Sites

In 2012, Google conducted a survey of nearly 1088 smartphone users in the United States to understand mobile behavior and according to this study, 72% of mobile users felt it was important for websites to be mobile-friendly. Further, 74% of the respondents said they were more likely to return to a site in future, if it worked well on a mobile phone. There are other interesting insights from the study – 67% of the respondents said they were more likely to buy a product or service if the site was mobile-friendly. To a question about user experience, 61% of consumers revealed that they were likely to move to another site if they could not find what they were looking for on their mobile site.

Responsiveness Is Not The Only Way To Mobile Web

With responsive design, your website automatically adjusts and aligns to fit the display resolution of your viewing device; desktop or mobile. But responsiveness is not the only way to build a mobile-friendly website. The other ways to do this are by having separate websites for the mobile and desktop user or by dynamically serving different content based on the device requesting content. In a survey, that is admittedly non-scientific, it was found that nearly 82% of webmasters preferred responsive design as a way to build a mobile-friendly website. In contrast, 4% of participants preferred dynamic serving while 6% of participants preferred having separate URLs for mobile and desktop users.

Percentage Of Businesses With Responsive Websites

Back in 2014, a study conducted by BaseKit found that an overwhelming 91% of small business websites were not optimized for the mobile user. In 2015, two months after Google first announced an update to provide a boost to mobile-friendly websites, the company noted that this helped increase the number of mobile-friendly websites by 4.7%. Most recently, Clutch published a small business survey that found that nearly half of the small businesses they surveyed did not have a website. Among those that did, 23% owned sites that were not mobile friendly. Another nine percent of websites had unknown mobile capabilities. Regardless of what the digital marketing gurus are advocating, it is clear that mobile responsiveness as a customer experience strategy is still not actively pursued by a vast majority of business owners.

Exhaustive studies that look into the adoption of responsive web design standards are still hard to come by four years after Mashable wrote an article declaring 2013 as the year of responsive web design. As Google continues to push through mobile-friendly website formats, we will see a larger transformation into responsive design over the next few years. It will be interesting to see how the stats evolve over time in this regard.

Domain Name Statistics 2016

As the year comes to an end, here we take a look at a bunch of statistics, studies and reports relating to domain names that were published over the past twelve months.

Insights About The .AU Domain

A report published by the AusRegistry in April this year noted that there are nearly 29 million .au domains in total and this ccTLD has grown at a rate of six percent annually. This places the .AU among the top 10 most popular country codes in the world. The report included a number of other interesting facts:

    50 percent of .AU domains are between 9 to 15 characters long
    40 percent of all the .AU domains are registered for a period between 2 to 6 years
    Domain names registered for at least 6 years are at least 80 percent likely to be renewed again
    New South Wales has the largest number of registrations – just under 1 million

Trust In DNS Increases

A baseline study commissioned by the ICANN found that the overall trust in the Domain Name System (DNS) has increased this year. Participants in the survey showed an increase in awareness of the generic top level domains (gTLD). Generic TLD refers to the likes of .com, .net, .org, .info and .biz. Here are other interesting takeaways from the study.

    52 percent of respondents were aware of at least one gTLD
    The increase in awareness of strikingly high in North America where the awareness grew by nine percentage points from 29% in 2015 to 38% in 2016
    95% of participants were aware of .COM, 88% knew .NET and 83% claimed to be aware of .ORG
    Participants in the survey also said that they trusted these gTLDs. 91% claimed that websites with these TLDs were trustworthy destinations.
    A significant chunk of participants believed in restricting domain name registration of these gTLDs to increase trust. 70% of the participants preferred one form of restriction or the other.

VeriSign Study Of The Domain Name Industry

According to a report published by Verisign, there were nearly 334.6 million domain names registered across all the top level domains by the close of the second quarter of 2016. That is an increase of nearly 7.9 million domain names just in the second quarter of 2016 alone. On a year-on-year basis, there has been a growth of 12.9 percent. In terms of popularity, .COM rules with over 125 million domains registered. This is followed by .TK, .CN, .DE, .NET and .ORG in that order. Other TLDs in the top 10 list include .UK, .XYZ, .RU and .NL. The two top gTLDs – .COM and .NET together account for nearly 143.2 million registrations – that’s a 7.3% increase YoY. Among ccTLDs, the bottom of the top 10 list include .BR, .EU, .AU and .FR.

The report had other interesting facts. Among the .COM domains, the top trending keywords were ‘research’, ‘bot’, ‘worlds’, ‘gram’ and ‘prince’. Other keywords like ‘vibe’, ‘tesla’, ‘poke’, ‘mosquito’ and ‘brexit’ also made the top 10 list. For .NET, the list comprised of keywords like ‘net’, ‘research’, ‘work’, ‘csgo’, ‘tshirt’, ‘medicine’, ‘prince’, ‘gram’, ‘hearing’ and ‘forums’.

Internet Growth Affected By Lack Of Domains?

An interesting study published in the Journal of Real Estate Finance & Economics, the lack of a valuable set of word combinations in domain names might be stifling the growth of the internet. Based on statistical modeling analysis, the study finds that an estimate for domain name demand not met by the current set of word combinations could be as much as 25% of all registered internet domains. The study focused on the real estate professionals and compared domain name availability with the commonality of surnames as according to the US census data and found that increasing the length of a surname from 6 to 7 characters helps reduce the demand for registrations by a whopping 24%.

Growth Of Social Media Spam Statistics

Despite the advances in web technology over the past few decades, one of the challenges that users continue to face is spam. A research report published by Microsoft Research back in 2004 showed that the presence of webspam on the internet can be identified through statistical analysis. While studies as this have played an important role in identifying and filtering spam, the growth of such websites and pages continue unabated. Experts like GW attribute this growth to the deficiency in technology that govern the identification and filtering out of such pages. Cheap link building tactics aimed at sprucing up the PageRank of a website are often a major cause for link spam online.

Over the past year, Google has deployed a couple of major algorithmic updates aimed at curtailing this practice. Dubbed the ‘Penguin’, the update was aimed at spammy link and content marketing tactics that has been seen as a major reason for webspam. Given these important changes, the spate of link spam was expected to come down. However, according to Social Media security firm NexGate, the overall level of spam on the internet has continued to rise thanks to its increase in other platforms like social media. In a first of its kind report on social media spam, NexGate reports a 355% increase in what they call ‘social spam’ during the first half of this year. Here are some really interesting takeaways from their report:

Description Data
Social media apps that are spammy 5%
Spammy social media apps that are brand-owned 20% (that is 1% overall)
Average number of social profiles contacted by a spamming account 23
Number of new spam accounts created 5 out of every 7 new accounts
Most popular social platforms for spammers Facebook & YouTube
Percentage of spam posts that contain a URL 15%
Overall number of spammy social media messages 1 out of every 200

As anybody who frequents websites like Facebook and YouTube may know, the spam on these websites are extremely higher than what may be noticed on other social media websites. NexGate estimates this number to be 100 times more than other social networks. Consequent to this, the number of phishing attacks on Facebook are also higher than any other network – by a factor of 4. Given that a huge percentage of spam are scams aimed at fooling people into divulging their confidential information, the financial repercussions of social media spam are huge. Some estimates point at a revenue loss of close to $200 million just from Facebook.

Given the rise in prominence of social networks like Instagram and Pinterest, it is to be seen how these various companies huddle up with the likes of Facebook to find a way to root out spam from the social media space.

Tech Transformation in Big Data Analytics

Business analytics is an integral part of any business. This is because it is the only way that you get to deal with the changes that your business constantly faces.

In today’s tech world, the business environment is highly changing, and you need to effectively adjust to these changes for your business to remain competitive.

Unlike in the past when organizations found it hard to analyze their data effectively, the emerging tech trends in big data analytics is enabling them to harness their business data and identify new opportunities.

Types of business analysis for big data

Big data is characterized by massive volumes of data, high frequency of data that is coming in and going out as well as a great variety of data sources. With this, a company’s business intelligence can easily come crashing down because it cannot handle such data effectively.

• A prescriptive analysis of data will reveal to you the actions that you should take to correct a given situation. This is imperative because it will help you to come up with rules and recommendations that should be followed to achieve a certain target.

• In business, predicting the future correctly is critical because it will ensure continuity of your business. This is why you should do a predictive analysis to make the future of your business certain.

• A descriptive analysis will tell you what is currently happening in your business and this can happen through a real- time dashboard.

• A diagnostic analysis deals with past performance and with it, you can determine what and why things happened as they did.

Although big data analytics, in general, can give you the reflection of your business performance at any given time, a detailed analysis can give you a more complete story for accurate business decisions.

The value of big data analytics

One of the most major assets of any business is data. This is why you need a high-performing big data analysis solution for your business.

The tech of big data analysis has come a long way from simple spreadsheets that were examined manually to the current advanced analytics software like the manufacturing analytics software. This has come with reduced costs, improved speed, high accuracy, and efficiency.

Big data analytics brings your huge data from multiple sources into one view in seconds. Apart from getting a deeper insight of your business in real-time, you will have no need of an IT or data expert because it does not have any complex data modeling.

There are no usual complex codes, and instead, you just need to make a few clicks from raw data to advanced easy-to-use visuals that you can easily interpret. Furthermore, you can automate it for better experiences.

Tech trends for big data analytics

The latest trends in data analytics include data analytics in the cloud, Hadoop, in-memory analytics, NoSQL, machine learning and big data lakes among many other tools and software.

You can compare the best products in the market like IBM, SAS, Oracle Business Analytics and even InetSoft Style Intelligence among many others to determine which one can best bring your business intelligence back to life.

While real-time data analysis tech is readily available, the majority of businesses still rely on traditional business intelligence solutions. Analytics software can be programmed to monitor any of your business functions like sales, inventory, and payments.

It does not matter whether you are in retail, healthcare, government, hospitality or any other business. When you examine your business data in an advanced way, you will be able to uncover patterns, correlations, and trends that will give you a better understanding of your business.

The Internet of Things: Breaking Down Hacks and Security

An unassuming, internet-connected toaster is sitting on a kitchen counter when it is assaulted, over and over, with “root” and “xc3511” login credentials. The toaster, however, isn’t real – it’s a honeypot living on a virtual server hosted by Amazon, tracking each attempt to hack it.

The experiment was set up by The Atlantic’s Andrew McGill, which saw the first attack just 41 minutes after going live, and more than 300 IP addresses tried to gain access by the end of the day – which works out to about 27 attacks per hour. The attacks were likely made automatically by Mirai, the malware that was at the heart of the mid-October distributed denial of service attack on Dyn, targeting DNS servers – the “phone book” of the internet translating text URLs to IP addresses – and slowing or blocking access to major websites including Paypal, Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, and Netflix. The open-source malware can be set to automatically scan the internet, specifically for Internet of Things devices, to hack. With estimates of 28 to 30 billion connected devices by 2020, the danger will only increase.


Before getting into what hackers could use exploited IoT devices for, it’s important to see how they were hacked. The October DDoS attack was the first major, widespread attack to utilize IoT devices, and many were webcams and CCTV cameras. The connection is the chip set used in the cameras, made by Chinese manufacturer Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology Co., or XM. These are sold to camera manufacturers. In the aftermath of the attack, the company is recalling millions of devices, but suspects only about 10,000 are vulnerable.

The cameras were made up to 2014. Those with firmware from 2015 and beyond should not be affected by Mirai. The recall only affects a fraction of the 17.6 billion devices currently in use, but consider only about 0.000026 percent of IoT devices were used in the October hack.

The problem, security analyst Brian Krebs noted, was that the password, “xc3511,”  that all the XM devices use by default, is hardcoded into the firmware. Even if the user changes the password, the default password will still work.

Security analyst Ben Dickson wrote that “one of the fundamental problems with IoT security is that the developers often come from an unconnected background, such as embedded systems, which means they have the knowhow to provide functionality but aren’t versed in the principles to write secure code for connected environments.” He also noted that security is neglected in the face of costs and deadlines.


Much like the poor virtual toaster, that’s how some 460,000 IoT devices were used in the DDoS attack. But it wasn’t just cameras – devices ranging from thermostats to DVRs were used in the massive attack. It wasn’t the first attack using IoT cameras, either. In late September, about 150,000 cameras and digital recorders were used to attack, French entrepreneur Octave Klaba’s website. He took to Twitter, noting that at one point, his site was hit with nearly 1 terabyte of information per second – at only a quarter of what was used against Dyn.

In 2013, it took a server just 44 minutes to scan every IP address on the internet. Now, Mirai users are only scanning IP addresses associated with IoT devices to create botnets for DDoS attacks – or other sinister deeds.


Stampado, a budget-friendly piece of ransomware at only $39, is being sold in the dark corners of the internet. The software locks files on a computer, giving the owner 96 hours to pay up. After the time limit is up, it deletes random files every 6 hours. For comparison, Locky, which shut down hospitals by locking out patient records, goes for about $3,000.

Imagine if a hacker, using cheap software, scanned the internet, found your IoT thermostat, turned the heat up to unbearable temperatures in the middle of summer, and demanded payment to unlock the device. Or worse, you are on vacation and the same scenario happens. Pay up, or be saddled with a high energy bill and melted personal items all over the house.

Not scary enough? Hackers have already proven they can remotely hack internet-enabled cars. What if the autopilot feature of a Tesla was hacked, the doors locked, and you are driven to the middle of the desert? While only 2 percent of cars were connected to the internet in 2012, and 10 percent the next year, Spanish company Telefonica estimated in 2013 that about 90 percent would be connected in 2020.


Hacking doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When exploits are found they are often closed. Tesla quickly closed an exploit after hackers released a how-to guide – probably preventing the above scenario from happening in the first place.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is adding Bitlocker and Secure Boot to Windows 10 IoT Core. The change is mostly aimed at DIYers and home hackers, with Windows 10 IoT offered as a bundle with a Raspberry Pi 2 microcomputer. Learning to code for the IoT can give you more control over your device, also increasing security. Securing your router will also turn away the vast majority of automated hacking attempts.

Finally, IBM is experimenting with blockchains to track important items. A current application is tracking where a diamond came from – suppliers can then deny the diamonds if they are from an area that uses forced labor to mine diamonds, or if the sales fund violence. This could be used by manufacturers to monitor where parts in devices come from, to identify potential weak spots in security – and prevent hacking even before the consumer buys the product. If a blockchain was in place, it could have been used to track the pre-2015 XM chipsets, to identify exactly which cameras they were used in, and aid the manufacturer in a recall. Or, a company could decide not to use the chipset, based on its point of origin. The technology is secure – it’s used to track bitcoins – and extremely hard to alter or delete information after it is added by a trusted source.

The IoT is growing fast, and security is trying to catch up. According to Maryville University, cyber attacks cost upwards of $400 billion each year. There is potential for great harm through ransomware, or even shutting down the internet for a wide swath of users. There are bound to be more attacks before security catches up – but securing your network will go a long way to protecting your toaster.

Video Cameras Review: Finding the Best Video Camera for You

Video camera is a perfect gadget to capture the best moments of your trip, a special occasion or even your daily routine in life.  It helps you record special moments so you could go back to it and reminisce. You may also share these moments with people you love who may be far from you at the moment.

In this post, we will share to you some reviews of video cameras to help you find the most suitable one for you that fits your needs and your lifestyle.

  1. Sony PJ530

If you’re after a high-quality video-recording performance, then you can never go wrong with Sony PJ530. It records 1080p video at 50fps. This is perfect for professional shoots with its 30x optical zoom feature that goes to 60x without breaking up. Another feature that you will surely enjoy is the USB tail, which allows you to easily plug it into a computer for easier transfer of captured videos. This is definitely perfect for every day use, and for professional shoots.

  1. Panasonic HC-VX870EB-K

Do you have a tight budget? Do not worry because you can still find a camera that performs well. With Panasonic HC-VX870EB-K, you can record at 4K at 25fps, and you can extract individual frames at 8-megapixel. You will also love the 20x optical zoom feature as well as 5-axis optical image stabiliser solution, which allows you to combine footage from your smartphone as a picture in picture through WI-FI connection. And all those features you can enjoy at a low price. This model is probably one of the most affordable ones in the market that you can still consider for it’s reliable performance. This is perfect to use for family outings.

  1. JVC Everio FZ-R315DEK

If you are looking for the traditional feel of a camcorder, then this one is perfect for you. This model is very sturdy and can survive challenging outdoor trips. You will definitely love the long-life battery that can last up to 5 hours. Not bad really. It has 10-megapixel feature for still photos and zoom microphone feature in case you are doing video production.

  1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 4K Camera

This model is a hybrid camera designed for professional photo shoots and video recording. It is perfect for out of town trips with friends and family. It has 16.05-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor and 4-CPU venus engine that allows capturing of JPEG and RAW photos in high resolution. It is indeed one of the best 4K cameras you can find today.

  1. GoPro Hero4 Silver

For people who love to travel and do outdoor activities, GoPro camera is definitely perfect. Hero4 Silver records up to 4K at 15fps and 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 120fps. You will be able to record high-quality videos with its top-notch image sensor and processor. It is very convenient to bring anywhere too. This is indeed the perfect camera for people with active and adventurous lifestyle.

Hopefully this post would help you find a video camera that is best for you. Do not hesitate to make comparisons first between different models to ensure that you will buy a reliable one.