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Computing

Once upon a time it sounded a novel idea, but cloud computing is anything but that in 2016.

The term has proved to be confusing to some, but that’s not stopped it from soaring in popularity. At first it was winning domestic battles – replacing USB drives and other popular forms of storage with an online alternative. Now, it’s entered the business market – and entered it with a bang.

The capabilities that cloud computing offers means that businesses no longer have to function in the one-dimensional way that they have been used to for centuries. It’s allowed them to expand and at the same time, created a whole host of opportunities for companies to prosper.

Let’s look at the examples. Years ago, a company would be in charge of absolutely everything under its business umbrella – it would take an order, manufacture it, ship it before selling it.

Now, make no mistake about it, the cloud isn’t the reason this process has ended. Over time businesses have realized that specialism is the key – handing processes to third parties in a bid to make their overall approach much more efficient. Now, you might have four or five companies carrying out all of the tasks that we outlined above.

What the cloud has achieved is making this much more scalable. While specializing within these tasks is great, it’s also very complicated. With so many fingers in one pie so to speak, it means that not everything is in the principle company’s control.

Previously, over the last couple of decades anyway, businesses have had to negotiate such problems by communicating as efficiently as possible. Each one will run their own set of software – usually sending emails to the next supply partner when their part is complete.

Suffice to say, it’s a problematic approach. It created a gaping opportunity; one which cloud computing has taken with both hands.

Now, data is freely available. It means regardless of where the company selling the goods is based, they can tap into the logistics information even if their freight firm is based across the other side of the world. The cloud means that everything can be tapped into instantly.

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that and there are various software considerations that should be made. You only have to take a look at Charles Phillips’ business affairs at Infor, and the immense R&D investment he has orchestrated in such solutions, to see that the industry is complex.

The difference is that it is now just complex for the software vendors – the ones who can, and are ultimately paid, to deal with such complexity.

For business owners, who have been tapping into all sorts of systems in a bid to get on the same page as their supply partners over the years, it’s anything but complex. Cloud computing has allowed them to shine and concentrate fully on their own business – providing them with all of the data they need in, well, the cloud.

San Francisco — Yahoo alerted users of its free email service Thursday that hackers slipped into accounts to loot information using stolen passwords.

The California company did not disclose the extent of the breach, but said that it is asking those affected to change their passwords.

“Security attacks are unfortunately becoming a more regular occurrence,” Yahoo senior vice president for platforms and personalization products Jay Rossiter said in a blog post.

“We regret this has happened and want to assure our users that we take the security of their data very seriously.”

A malicious computer program armed with Yahoo Mail passwords and usernames apparently slipped into accounts aiming to glean names and addresses from messages that had been sent, according to Rossiter.

Yahoo recently discovered the invasion and suspected that the passwords were snatched from a third-party database that the company did not disclose.

“We have no evidence that they were obtained directly from Yahoo’s systems,” Rossiter said.

Yahoo said it was working with federal authorities to investigate the breach.

What can the users do?

The company is resetting passwords on accounts that have been affected and is taking steps to allow users to re-secure their accounts. It is sending notification e-mails instructing those users to change their passwords; users may also receive a text message, if they’ve shared their phone number with the company.

It’s a song-and-dance that users may be tiring of, but it is important for Yahoo account holders who were swept up in the attack to change their passwords for immediately.

They should also change their log-in credentials for any account that may share their Yahoo password, particularly if they use their Yahoo e-mail as their username. The same is true if you use a similar e-mail address as the username — it’s not a big leap for hackers to think that you may be both [email protected] and [email protected]

Finally, everyone should also be on the lookout for spam, as the attack also appears to have picked up names and e-mail addresses for the most recent contacts from affected accounts, according to the company’s post.

If you get an odd e-mail from the Yahoo account of someone you know, ignore the message, and do not click on any links in the message. (It’s also be nice to let the person whose account has been hacked know about the fraudulent messages, so they can warn others to avoid the e-mails.)

VIDEO

Here you can find some of the best tips, tricks and ghoulish tools for this year’s Halloween.

ZOMBIE-PALOOZA

According to Yahoo Search stats, Zombies are back at the top of the list of pop culture costumes. Look no further than your own smartphone for the start of a skin-puppet-palooza that puts you at the very center of this craze. Check out free apps Walking Dead (iTunes, Google Play), Zombiematic Camera (iTunes) and ZombieBooth (iTunes, Google Play). Each app uses chilling photo effects to transform you, your friends, even your pets, into a truly gruesome headshot that you can share with the (living) world.

If you want to bring even more undead action to life, take a look at Zombie apocalypse extravaganza World War Z. The newly released Blu-ray combo pack (around $20 on Amazon) includes an unrated version that was “too intense” for theaters — plus awesome behind-the-scenes footage that shows just how the blockbuster plague of corpse characters were made. You can leave it playing in the background of your Halloween happenings to create a “restless dead” effect, or use it to just get inspired.

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013

Get all the Pin-spiration you need for everything else, from makeup tips, printable décor and even to braiinnnnn food on Pinterest. But if the edible eyeballs aren’t quite gory enough, just shuffle on back to your mobile device to add a pair of creepy peepers to just about anything via the Digital Dudz app (iTunes, Android). The animated 3-D gore this app brings to fright night is gut-rippingly great. You can make your costume to display the animation, or buy a Morphsuit (around $30) that comes with a special pouch to display the grisly scenes. There’s everything from an open-heart zipper wound exposing a still-beating heart to a scary clown face with moving eyes.

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT WITH LESS CREEP AND MORE CUTE

Moving on from the stuff of nightmares to the stuff that can give parents nightmares – kids costumes. Here’s how to make sure they’re both stellar and safe. Electronics retailer RadioShack is demonstrating just how simple it is to make costumes stand out from the crowd, and in the dark, with a few simple DIY designs. Just follow the directions on this Hacky-Halloween how-to using EL Wire to make simple fairy wings appear to take flight, or set your little wizard aglow with some LEDs and a Battery Powered Inverter.

TRACK OR TWEET

A brand new combination of a QR coded bracelet and smartphone app called Scan Me Kidz helps you track down kids in seconds. With GPS, you can keep kids in sight on the app, while the QR code contains information that when scanned can get youngsters back home or even alert people of allergies and medical conditions.

Even without a bracelet, there are a handful of free smartphone tracking apps such as Mamabear (iTunes, Google Play) and Trick or Tracker (Amazon, Google Play, typically $4.99 but free on Halloween) that help keep a watchful eye on kids. Both apps let you see where your kids are at any time, and they both let parents create a digital fence to get alerts if kids go out of a pre-set area.