The Buzz - 36

Wireless

Devices galore

In five years, consumers worldwide may have so many wireless devices that theyll need Batmans utility belt just to carry them around. Thats the conclusion of Boston-based research company Strategy Analytics.

Strategy Analytics on July 26 released "Wireless Home Devices Global Market Forecast." The biggest take-away: Over the next five years, consumers worldwide will buy almost 950 million wireless home devices, including game consoles, wireless MP3 players and connected TVs.

Add it up, and the digital home will have a bunch of devices that use wireless home networking to connect to one another seamlessly. "Wireless is used on the PC first, but we fully expect many other digital devices to follow," said Peter King, director of Connected Home Devices Service, in Boston.

Research

The synthetic world

Indiana University is starting an initiative to research synthetic worlds. These virtual worlds, which include the likes of "Second Life" and others, are becoming interesting places to research economic trends and behavior.

Indiana professor Edward Castronova, who has pioneer-ed virtual world research, an--nounced the Synthetic World Initiative to be housed within the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University (swi.indiana.edu). According to Castronova, the following are the three missions at SWI:

• Research: Analysis of synthetic worlds with results being reported in papers, interviews, speaking engagements and blogs (arden.blogs.com/swn);

• Construction: Building worlds for education and research; and

• Community: Providing conferences, academic game groups and in-game guilds.

SWI has launched an in-game guild inside the "World of Warcraft" game, but you need a secret word (not disclosed here) to get in. Castronova said the secret-word system ensures that the group is restricted to professionals.

Meanwhile, Indiana University will be "building large-scale synthetic worlds," said Castro-nova, who also noted that IU may be a good outlet for graduate studies on virtual worlds.

Security

Its scary out there

The 11th annual Computer Crime and Security Survey was recently released by the Computer Security Institute and the San Francisco Federal Bureau of Investigations Computer Intrusion Squad.

Bottom line: Its a scary world out there. Here are the key stats from the 2006 CSI/FBI survey of 616 computer security professionals, as well as eWeeks reading between the lines:

• Sixty-one percent of companies dont outsource computer security functions. Our take: This makes sense on the surface, but as more companies screw up security, look for professionals to be hired.

• Twenty-five percent of companies report security breaches to law enforcement agencies, up from 20 percent the prior year. Our take: Bad press keeps companies from reporting more to law enforcement agencies.

• Eighty percent of companies conduct security audits. Our take: Please name the other 20 percent so they can be shamed into paying attention.

• Thirteen percent of respondents said they spend more than 10 percent of their IT budgets on security, while 26 percent said they spend 1 to 2 percent, and 21 percent said they spend less than 1 percent. Twelve percent had no idea what they spend on security. Our take: Those latter figures are scary.

• Companies with sales of more than $1 billion a year have average security expenditures of $199 per employee. Companies with sales of $10 million to $99 million have average security operating expenditures of $461 per employee. Our take: Small fry lose out.

• Forty-two percent of or-ganizations said they use return on investment metrics to measure security projects. Our take: Does this fact help or hurt security spending?

• Seventy-one percent of companies said they have no cyber-security insurance. Our take: Expect that figure to decrease in the future.

—Compiled by Larry Dignan

By the Numbers

23%

Decline in free cash flow for the last 12 months—to $375 million as of June 30. Why? Increased expenses for technology and content.

Source: Amazon.com