• NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    21st Century Learning

    Parliament’s Education and Science Select Committee has launched an enquiry about education needs for the country’s future. The enquiry seeks to identify possible savings in technology and buildings, to develop recommendations regarding optimal learning environments, and to identify the skills required for teachers and students to achieve their full potential in the modern world. Nikki Kaye MP says, “Through the inquiry there is an opportunity to hear from stakeholders across both the education and technology sectors about how we ensure that New Zealand children can become even more digitally literate.”

    The New Zealand education achieves excellent results based on international measures. We should be proud of that, but there is more to be done.

    Every child needs to have a safe and supportive environment that respects and fosters learning. Those who understand how education can help them achieve more will naturally be motivated to achieve, at any stage of their life. An expectation of what the future holds can be transformative, and we believe that articulating career pathways to learners is an important component of this. Technology makes it easier than ever to give all learners the opportunity to excel, no matter who or where they are.

    Microsoft has invested in communities and technology to support learning over many years, as we see it as a critical component of a smart, connected and competitive New Zealand. Last week, we were honoured that the Committee took the time to hear from Anthony Salcito (Vice-President, Education) while he was in New Zealand.

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    Keeping Safe Online

    New Zealand’s first Cyber-Security Awareness Week is on now. It's been organised by NetSafe and the Government, with support from businesses including Microsoft and MSN New Zealand Ltd. It’s a time for everyone to work together to help all Kiwis be safer online.

    Unfortunately, criminals are using the Internet to scam and cheat thousands of Kiwis each year. But a little bit of knowledge can do a lot to protect you.

    Online safety matters

    Crime has gone online, so we need to be smart about what the criminals are doing. Malicious software and fraudulent websites have become widespread tools of crime. They are used to get sensitive information from people – things like credit card details, passwords, and business secrets.

    Once criminals have this information, they will use it for their own purposes, to try to make money at your expense. Or they might try to get at your friends and family, or your employer. Malware can also give criminals control of people’s computers. Usually people whose computers have been infected don’t even realise their computers could be rented out by underground networks to spread spam and scams to new victims.

    So, what are some of the top tips to help people stay safer online?

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    Ten years of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative

    In 2002, Bill Gates wrote an email to all Microsoft employees that made trustworthy computing – including security, privacy and reliability – the top priority for the company. Ten years on, Microsoft continues its dedication to these objectives, which we refer to as the Trustworthy Computing initiative.

    The objective is to improve our products and processes, and to provide transparency about what we do. It's not about marketing assurances or slogans. It's about our culture as an organisation, and allowing people to make informed decisions about trust as it relates to their own individual context.

    Security Development Lifecycle

    One of the best-known outcomes of the trustworthy computing culture at Microsoft has been the implementation and publication of the Security Development Lifecycle, which incorporates privacy by design. It is a company-wide, mandatory continuous improvement policy. As well as being used within Microsoft, it is openly available for analysis, constructive criticism, and industry adoption.

    There is strong evidence that the Security Development Lifecycle has made a difference. Products developed using this methodology have delivered more secure and private computing experiences. For example, in 2002 Microsoft had the highest total of security vulnerability disclosures across its product portfolio. But in recent years the company has moved down the list even while the product portfolio has grown. This is illustrated on the chart below.

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    The technology behind managing digital identities

    This week Microsoft was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the Digital Identity Conference 2012 on Managing Digital Identity in a Networked World, organised by the Victoria University of Wellington.

    There are many facets to the dialogue on digital identity. It is woven of philosophy, context, technology, security, privacy, and individual rights and freedoms.

    Looking at the practical needs for IT systems, people need access to information and IT resources to get their job done. But if the wrong people get access, there can be serious consequences. Reliable identity information is essential for IT systems to know who should have access to what. As we move to a digital-first mind-set, organisations can save significant time and improve reliability of identity verification by moving to a single set of trusted client credentials and relying on a single agency’s identity information - provided that the correct policy and technology settings are in place to protect individuals.

    This article briefly discusses some of the practical issues relating to identity management in IT systems, and Microsoft technology that can help.

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    Congratulations to Team Mobile Eye

    The Microsoft Imagine Cup is a competition that encourages students to solve the world's toughest problems.

    Visual impairment is one of those, and Team Mobile Eye from AUT took on the challenge. Their winning solution is a mobile app to assist people with visual impairment to “see” the world around them, through a combination of computer intelligence and crowd-sourced audio support. 

    Congratulations to Team Mobile Eye for winning the Imagine Cup NZ 2012!

    It was an intense competition this year. From an initial 400 entries across the country, four very strong teams were chosen from to contest the final stage of the NZ 2012 contest. These were Thought-Wired, Connect, Aura and Mobile Eye. You're all awesome.

    Imagine Cup NZ 2012 finalists celebrate.

    For those that attended I know you’d agree that the competition was massive – we were delighted to pack out the Auckland Town Hall with more than 1,000 people for the event. What great enthusiasm for these innovators who will lead NZ's future.

    Update (July 2012): Team Mobile Eye went on to reach the top six in the global finals, in competition with top entrants from 75 countries - an amazing result, and well-deserved.

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    The new and the old of cloud privacy

    Yesterday I was honoured to have an opportunity to speak briefly at the Privacy Commissioner's Privacy Forum,  titled "Think Big?  Privacy in the age of big data".

    A question was put to a panel by Vikram Kumar from InternetNZ as follows: “There are many real privacy risks in relation to cloud services. There also many misconceptions. What do you think is the single greatest risk and the single biggest misconception?”

    Cloud services can give rise to privacy issues, but perhaps the biggest misconception is that privacy issues arise because a service is deployed in a cloud.

    Cartoon © Chris Slane, all rights reserved. Used with permission. www.slane.co.nz

    People need to make decisions about which services to trust. This means weighing up the characteristics of a given provider and service against what is relevant and important to them, or to their organisation. To approach decisions in a principled way, it is critical not to over-simplify. We need to understand the true sources of potential issues.

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    Elements of trust for Internet privacy

    Most of us disclose a lot of private information on the Internet without really thinking about it. What we search for, the links we click, and our email can be very personal.

    In an ideal world, we would all read and understand the privacy statement of each company whose services we use. We would check to see to what extent they limit themselves to using our information only to serve us, or whether they claim rights to use our information for their own purposes.

    But it's asking a lot of people to read long statements when they're often just wanting to get things done. And it’s not always obvious who is collecting this information about us. Most of us make decisions about who we trust with our personal information at a simpler level.

    How do you decide who to trust?

    I think about four simple things that are likely to influence how a company (or other organisation) will respect my privacy preferences over time. I think about their motivations, leadership, discipline, and track record.

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    Privacy Awareness Week 2012

    It’s Privacy Awareness Week in New Zealand from Sunday 29 April.

    Privacy on the Internet is something that a lot of people are interested in, but there are few simple explanations of the issues.

    In this article I’d like to explain a bit about how your activity on the Internet is tracked, and what you can do about it.

    When you look at a website, it’s quite usual for your web browser to automatically communicate with several other websites at the same time. The site you want to look at might also connect to social networking sites, show advertising from other sites, and use third-party analytics to profile you. Here’s a simplified diagram to show how a tracking and advertising company might build a profile based on your activity tracked across multiple websites.

    Like the example in the diagram, most of this is quite benign. Maybe I want to see the highest bidder’s most relevant camera advertisements. But if you’re like me, you may prefer that it just doesn’t happen.

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    Using the Cloud for Good

    Cloud computing is not just being adopted by the business community in New Zealand but has also made a significant impact in not-for-profit organizations (NFP) across the country. 
     
    Attendees of the Connecting Communities conference in Christchurch on 29 February 2012 learnt of several NFPs who have used the Microsoft cloud as a key enabler of both the vision and transformation of their organizations. The NFP focused conference was hosted by Microsoft New Zealand in association with Social Development Partners, as part of Microsoft New Zealand’s programme of activities supporting NFPs to build their IT capability.

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  • NZ GovTech - Microsoft New Zealand Government Affairs Blog

    Dialogue on privacy with Brendon Lynch

    This week Microsoft’s Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch was home in New Zealand to discuss privacy. Originally from Paeroa but now based at Microsoft's global headquarters in Redmond, Brendon is part of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing initiative that was established by Bill Gates in 2002.

    Bill Gates said then that Trustworthy Computing – reliability, security, privacy and business integrity – is the “highest priority for the company and for our industry over the next decade”.

    Brendon is responsible for all aspects of Microsoft's privacy programme, including the creation and implementation of policies designed to protect customer privacy for products and services that are used by millions of consumers and organisations around the world. He also works to provide transparency on Microsoft’s approach, and to encourage broad adoption of privacy standards.

    Sophisticated questions from participants at discussions in Auckland and Wellington show that there is a strong interest in privacy in New Zealand.

    Cartoon © Chris Slane, all rights reserved. Used with permission. www.slane.co.nz

    Privacy breaches involving technology have made headline news this year, and it's no surprise that identity theft and reputation are serious concerns.We heard that privacy is a necessary foundation for freedom of speech. Privacy expectations are individual. Most people are pragmatic and are willing to provide personal information to a trusted party in exchange for value, but some people have much higher expectations of privacy than others.

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