Remote Work May Cut Gender Gap, but Will AI Freeze Cyberbullying

Izenda Content Strategist

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By Bob Pepalis, Izenda
bob.pepalis@izenda.com

Each month we take a look at recent technology news to spot the trends and advances in software and other industries. If you spot a piece of news that should be shared or have a comment, send it to me via email.

Remote Work Options May Help Solve Tech Gender Gap

Could remote work solve the tech industry's gender diversity gap? A leadership study from Remote.co seems to suggest it might work, according to an article on Tech Republic.

The National Center for Women & Information Technology reported that Women held just 25 percent of professional computing jobs in 2015. That's 11 percent lower than the high in 1991.

But Remote.com found women occupied 42 percent of leadership roles at remote companies in the 53 organizations it surveyed. That's much more than the 14 percent of leadership roles at S&P 500 companies that women held.

Seventy-six percent of the women surveyed by Robert Walters and Jobsite said offering fully remote jobs or allowing some work from home options could help retain top talent.

A Pew Research Center study found that 51% of women - and only 15 percent of men - said being a working parent made it more difficult to advance their careers. The study revealed that 42 percent of mothers cut their work hours to care for a child or family member, with only 28 percent of fathers doing the same.

Can AI Solve Instagram's Cyberbully Problem?

A little over a month ago Wired reported that Instagram started using the same Deep Text AI that helps control spam to curb cyberbullying. Time will tell if the algorithms work well enough to recognize the context necessary to determine if a comment is cyberbullying.

Just like with spam last year, Instagram put contractors to work sorting through comments to determine if they are OK, or if they belong to forbidden behavior such as bullying, racism or sexual harassment.

If a survey by UK anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label
detailed on Engadget.com can be believed, Instagram's actions come not a moment too soon. The charity's annual survey of more than 10,000 people aged 12 to 20 claims Instagram has more cyberbullies than any other social media platform.
Of the respondents who said they've dealt with cyberbullying, 42 percent said it was on Instagram. Facebook was slightly lower at 37 percent, with Snapchat getting 31 percent of the blame for cyberbullying. Almost all the participants said they used YouTube, but only 10 percent claimed to have suffered cyberbullying on the video platform.

Small Software Companies Eligible for Software R&D Tax Credits
You don't have to be a tech giant to qualify for a Software R&D Tax Credit, according to an SDTimes.com article by Tracy Lustyan.

The IRS gives out billions of dollars annually through the R&D Tax Credit. Lustyan's article details four major misconceptions software developers have about the tax credit that stop them from applying:

Misconception #1: Smaller businesses and start-ups need not apply. The PATH Act of 2015 expanded it to small to mid-sized businesses to offset regular and alternative minimum tax liability. Start-ups can use it against payroll taxes.

Misconception #2: Only brand-new software qualifies. With an expanded definition of R&D, a new version of your software can qualify for the R&D credit. Testing new software or databases, development of algorithms and applications and other activities also qualify.

Misconception #3: Only commercial software qualifies. If your company customizes software or developers it for use by a third-party, it qualifies as R&D whether you market, license or sell it.

Misconception #: Payment for the work or a government contract is a disqualification. Getting paid for your work or a government contract won't necessarily prevent your company from qualifying.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/08/researchers-encode-malware-in-dna-compromise-dna-sequencing-software/

Your DNA May Infect a Computer (Someday)

Researchers proved that it's possible to put computer malware in DAN to attack computers that analyze DNA sequences,
according to a report in arstechnica.com.

While these scientists had to make a version of software with an exploitable vulnerability to show the risk exists, researchers don't seem to do much about vulnerabilities. The article reports that an audit of some open source DNA analysis software shows not much attention gets paid to security best practices.

Since work from many different lab runs on a single sequencing machine at a time, it's easy to get the malware on other machines via DNA.

Old Software Vulnerable to Low Skill Hacks

It's not just DNA that causes heartburn among security officials. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that an attacker with a low skill could exploit vulnerabilities in medical devices that use older Windows software.

Siemens plans to update software in some of its medical scanners to deal with vulnerabilities, according to an article in U.S. News & World Reports. No evidence of attacks has been found, but the German industrial giant's PET (positron emission tomography) scanners that run on Microsoft Windows 7 could be exploited remotely.

PET scanners help to reveal how tissues and organs are functioning.

UK-based independent computer security analyst Graham Cluley said underfunding and older machines being incompatible with the latest versions of software operations systems make hospitals in general badly protected against hacking.

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