Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.
Australia’s hi-tech beef farmers
How do you keep tabs on thousands of cattle when they are spread over a farm the size of a small country? That’s an issue facing some of Australia’s biggest beef farmers, some of whom only get to physically inspect their livestock once a year.
To automate the monitoring of the cattle, the farmers use a variety of modern technology. The cows are fitted with infrared ID tags and have to walk through a solar-powered, automated weighing station when moving around the paddock. This remotely monitors their growth, enabling farmers to intervene if an animal is losing weight or tell if it is ready for market.
Other technology being used includes radio antennae inserted into pregnant cows, which fall to the ground and begin transmitting during birth; wearable devices to monitor overgrazing and disease; and algorithms that work out if an animal is being herded towards an exit and stolen. At the same time, smart water troughs automatically fill themselves, grazing detectors predict if there’s enough grass left in the paddock and fence integrity monitors tell if a fence has been broken.
Overall, the use of modern technology makes beef farming far more efficient, less labour intensive and improves animal welfare.
Hackers investigated for homicide
Police in Germany are searching for hackers whose attack on a hospital IT system led to the death of a patient. The incident happened after a ransomware attack disabled computers at Düsseldorf University Hospital. With the computer system down and the female patient needing life-saving treatment, doctors decided to transfer her to a nearby hospital, but she died before arrival.
Hospitals have become a major target for ransomware over the last few years with cybercriminals exploiting the risk to patient care in the hope of large and quick payments. They also threaten to publicly reveal the personal data they have stolen. The incident in Germany, however, is the first know attack to cause a patient’s death. Police are now looking for the hackers who will be charged with negligent homicide if caught.
Microsoft using big data to fight hackers
The enormous quantity of data generated by the growth in cloud migration is helping Microsoft tackle cybercrime better than ever before. The diverse data it has access to has massively enhanced its ability to respond to cybersecurity threats.
Microsoft currently has data from half a trillion forms of authentication, half a trillion email messages, a billion device telemetries, 18 million URLs and network signals. This is then analysed internally using machine learning models to further develop its threat detection and prevention capabilities, helping it discover which types of malware are managing to evade detection and to find ways to stop them. As an example, it cites phishing emails which once had to be removed manually from individual accounts and, today, are detected by machine and automatically and immediately removed from across the entire customer base.
Job site recruits the cloud
In its drive towards digital transformation, job listings site, Indeed, is undertaking a major cloud migration, estimated to be 30 petabytes in size. This will include the move of its business-critical workloads, customer-facing products and its legacy databases.
Indeed’s aim is that the adoption of cloud technology will help it cut costs by streamlining its IT operations and reducing its on-site datacentre footprint by 40%. At the same time, the cloud will allow the website to scale its data platform on top of its service provider’s infrastructure, maintain high availability and improve its performance and reliability for visitors.
Additionally, the company will make use of the cloud’s data analytics, ML, security, storage, managed databases and data warehousing. This will help it accelerate the innovation of new products while cutting development costs.
AI testing speeds up app development
While developers are constantly improving applications, getting them to market is severely slowed by the drawn-out process of unit testing. Test-driven development is the methodology of running new and updated code to check that it works as expected. It helps to prevent bugs being accidentally created, assuring the developer that the software will still work after the code has been modified. Without unit testing, the constant ability to release perfectly working updates would be considerably hampered.
The problem with unit testing, however, is that the tedious work slows down development. At the same time, its laborious nature means it’s not always efficiently carried out and, when developers are up against it, is sometimes missed out entirely, leaving the software potentially flawed and at risk.
Now, DIffblue, a company from Oxford, has discovered a way to automate the writing of unit tests using artificial intelligence. Its platform, Cover, writes the full set of unit tests so that when developers make changes, it enables them to find out what’s been changed and any bugs that this might have unwittingly introduced. As a result, the laborious work of writing the tests is removed and the deployment of the updated application is much quicker.
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