Spy software for economic analysis

 

The Pentagon's Joint Staff recently warned against using equipment made by China's Lenovo computer manufacturer amid concerns about cyber spying against Pentagon networks, according to defense officials.

A recent internal report produced by the J-2 intelligence directorate stated that cyber security officials are concerned that Lenovo computers and handheld devices could introduce compromised hardware into the Defense Department supply chain, posing cyber espionage risks, said officials familiar with the report. The “supply chain” is how the Pentagon refers to its global network of suppliers that provide key components for weapons and other military systems.

The J-2 report was sent Sept. 28, and also contained a warning that Lenovo was seeking to purchase American information technology companies in a bid to gain access to classified Pentagon and military information networks.

Spy software for economic analysis

Rising star business intelligence blogger, Tricia Aanderud, is on fire with her SAS BI blog posts over at http://www.bi-notes.com/author/tricia .

Her post today is quite excellent and worth reading through in detail. It’s available here at http://www.bi-notes.com/2012/02/dashboard-sas-bi-google-analytics-data . I’m cross-posted it here:

Tricia Aanderud is SAS BI evangelist, enthusiastic innovator & hired gun, pursuing design tips, programming tricks & other mishmashes to share. Tricia is the author of the upcoming book Building Business Intelligence Using SAS: Content Development Examples which helps new and experienced users of SAS BI to get up to speed quickly. She invites you to connect to her on Linked In or follow her on Twitter using one of the icons below:

The Pentagon's Joint Staff recently warned against using equipment made by China's Lenovo computer manufacturer amid concerns about cyber spying against Pentagon networks, according to defense officials.

A recent internal report produced by the J-2 intelligence directorate stated that cyber security officials are concerned that Lenovo computers and handheld devices could introduce compromised hardware into the Defense Department supply chain, posing cyber espionage risks, said officials familiar with the report. The “supply chain” is how the Pentagon refers to its global network of suppliers that provide key components for weapons and other military systems.

The J-2 report was sent Sept. 28, and also contained a warning that Lenovo was seeking to purchase American information technology companies in a bid to gain access to classified Pentagon and military information networks.

Since all of these ideas piggyback on one of the most ubiquitous wireless signals, they’re ripe for wide distribution once they’re refined, without the need for any new or expensive equipment. Routers could soon keep kids and older adults safe, log daily activities, or make a smart home run more smoothly—but, if invaded by a malicious hacker, they could also be turned into incredibly sophisticated hubs for monitoring and surveillance.

I’m commiserating with a friend who recently left the technology industry to return to entertainment. “I’m not a programmer,” he begins, explaining some of the frustrations of his former workplace, before correcting himself, “—oh, engineer, in tech-bro speak. Though to me, engineers are people who build bridges and follow pretty rigid processes for a reason.”

His indictment touches a nerve. In the Silicon Valley technology scene, it’s common to use the bare term “engineer” to describe technical workers. Somehow, everybody who isn’t in sales, marketing, or design became an engineer. “We’re hiring engineers,” read startup websites, which could mean anything from Javascript programmers to roboticists.

The idea of an economic moat refers to how likely a company is to keep competitors at bay for an extended period. One of the keys to finding superior long-term investments is buying companies that will be able to stay one step ahead of their competitors, and it's this characteristic--think of it as the strength and sustainability of a firm's competitive advantage--that Morningstar is trying to capture with the economic moat rating.

At Morningstar, one of the first things we do when we're thinking about the size of a firm's economic moat is look at the company's historical financial performance. Companies that have generated returns on capital higher than their cost of capital for many years running usually have a moat, especially if their returns on capital have been rising or are fairly stable. Of course, the past is a highly imperfect predictor of the future, so we look carefully at the source of a company's excess economic profits before assigning a moat rating.

For example, a competitive advantage created by a hot new technology usually isn't very sustainable, because it won't be too long until someone comes along and invents a better widget.