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- Encrypting images chaotically
An artificial neural network approach to image encryption offers many advantages over conventional encryption methods suggests a review published in the International Journal of Services Operations and Informatics. Shaimaa Abbas Fahdel Al-Abaidy of the University of Baghdad in Iraq explains that exploiting what is colloquially known as the "butterfly effect" in chaos theory can be even more effective.
Mobile computing and communications devices are almost ubiquitous now. We rely heavily on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart TVs, and other such devices. They almost all rely on being constantly connected with the internet either through a cellphone network or via Wi-Fi for their many different functions. However, the transfer of data to and from such devices can often be vulnerable to third-party intrusion.
There are some instances where this is not particularly problematic, but there are other cases, such as sharing personal images where the sender and recipient, a student and educator, patient and doctor, employee and executive, may not wish other people to have access to those images. This is where encryption becomes a critical part of the communication.
There are many different approaches to encryption some are very secure but have high overheads, particularly when the files being encrypted are themselves relatively large, such as is the case with high-resolution photographs, for instance. Encryption needs to be smoother, faster, and preclude overpowering the encrypting and decrypting device as well as not adding to the data transfer costs in terms of the connecting network capacity.
The new approach discussed by Al-Abaidy offers protection against the integrity of the encrypted and decrypted image file and protection against common attacks such as a cipher attack, plaintext attack, and brute force attack.
Al-Abaidy, S.A.F. (2020) 'Artificial neural network based image encryption technique', Int. J. Services Operations and Informatics, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp.181–189.
- Solid state life extension
Solid-state storage on mobile devices and computers is becoming de rigeur, it offers much shorter read and write times for data than conventional magnetic storage devices with spinning disks and other moving parts, it uses far less power, and it is silent in operation. But, those advantages come at a cost in that all the rapid reading and writing of data can wear out the device much faster than a conventional hard disk. There are techniques for reducing the wear based in software and settings, but ultimately lifespan is rather limited and there is an urgent need to developed solid-state storage that has greater longevity.
Research published in the International Journal of Embedded Systems offers a new approach to reducing the number of read-writes that occur when data is stored on one particular type of solid-state media, the solid-state disk (SSD). These are commonly used to replace magnetic hard disks in personal computers and laptops offering faster bootup and quicker access to data files.
Hai-Tao Wu and Tian-Ming Yang of Huanghuai University in Henan, China, Ping Huang of Temple University, Philadelphia, USA, and Wen-Kuang Chou of Providence University, Taichung, Taiwan, explain that the problem of SSD electronic wear and tear is due to the legacy of traditional file systems on mechanical drives which involvs a lot of partial page rights.
The team has traced the write activity in an SSD and found that partial page writes are most common for the heads and tails of large write requests. This, the team suggests, means that it might be possible to reduce the number of writes made by compressing two partial page writes from the same large write request into a single page before the data are written into flash. This would reduce significantly the number of accesses to each bit of memory and so prolong the lifespan of the device.
The team adds that their novel approach to prolonging the life of an SSD not only reduces erase number but write latency, and read latency by up to 69%, 47%, and 50%, respectively.
Wu, H-T., Yang, T-M., Huang, P. and Chou, W-K. (2020) 'Extending the lifetime of NAND flash-based SSD through compacted write', Int. J. Embedded Systems, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.129–135.
- Whatsapp for helpful social communities
Dutch computer scientists have assessed the value of the Whatsapp mobile communication platform in the context of social support. The research seems rather pertinent in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic that has forced countless people to work entirely remotely, usually at home, to engage with their doctor and other healthcare workers via online applications, and to work with educators to teach their children at home too.
Whatsapp is a free, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service provided by one of the most well-known of the social media companies, Facebook. Whatsapp users can send each other text messages and voice messages without paying the usual charges that might be required of SMS and phone calls by utilizing a Wi-Fi or internet data connection on their phone. They can also make voice and video calls, share images, documents, and other files, and even their location with other users in end-to-end encrypted connections. Users can also build groups of collaborators, friends, and family to communicate and share among that community.
Writing in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, Luuk Simons and Catholijn Jonker of Delft University of Technology in Netherlands and Wouter van den Heuvel of the Health Coach Program also in Delft, suggest that WhatsApp groups can be used as attractive social support systems augmenting existing electronic tools and personal coaching. Their exploratory study of a small number of young professionals revealed that they were all happy to engage with others using Whatsapp. Indeed, the app led to greater engagement than other social media tools.
The team demonstrated that the use of a Whatsapp group by these young professionals led to healthy behaviour and health advocacy and confirmed the potential of the system for peer coaching. The research did show that there is a need to educate potential users on how to form relevant communities more effectively. They offer several ideas in their paper on how Whatsapp use might be improved. For instance, it is perhaps essential in a coaching community environment that at least one of the members of the group is an expert in that realm to ensure the quality of advice and discussions, to catalyse group interactions, to prompt users to act as health advocates within the group and to ensure that help is always given to participants when they need it.
Simons, L.P.A., van den Heuvel, W.A.C. and Jonker, C.M. (2020) 'eHealth WhatsApp for social support: design lessons', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.112–127.
- We'll meet again, online
Virtual conferences and meetings have been around for many years but they have come to the fore and are a standard form of group communication now that we are in a "new normal" because of the Covid-19 global pandemic. A team from India, writing in the International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, discusses the ways in which virtual teamwork can be made more effective.
Monica Kunte, Sonali Bhattacharya, and Netra Neelam of the Symbiosis International (Deemed) University, in Hinjawadi, India, point out that virtual teams have always offered a way to reduce costs by allowing people to meet online and so preclude the need for transport and accommodation. They have measured perceived effectiveness of participants by looking at goal orientation, interdependency, knowledge sharing, empowerment, and preparedness in a multidimensional second-order construct.
The team has tested and proven their model to offer a useful scale of virtual team effectiveness. As such it will allow organizers and participants to improve their virtual meetings. Factors such as team size, diversity, participant hierarchy and even the timing, length, and frequency of virtual meetings might be optimized using the scale. This should improve efficiency, ensure any agenda is satisfied as well as ensuring all participants are essential to the team at any given point and avoid wasting human resources.
Kunte, M., Bhattacharya, S. and Neelam, N. (2020) 'Shall we ever meet; does it matter: unfreezing the constructs of virtual team effectiveness', Int. J. Networking and Virtual Organisations, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.128–148.
- Cleaning up money laundering
Money laundering is big business but wholly illegal big business. It has an enormously negative impact on local, national, and international economies as well as providing the financial means to fund other criminal activities such as people trafficking and drugs. By definition, money laundering is activity carried out to obscure the source of money that has been obtained illegally.
Writing in the International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining, researchers from the Sultanate of Oman and Saudi Arabia describe a new dynamic approach to identifying suspicious financial transactions that might be part of the chain in a money-laundering scheme.
Abdul Khalique Shaikh of the Department of Information Systems at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman and Amril Nazir of the Department of Computer Science at Taif University, in Al-Hawiya, Saudi Arabia, explain that among the many millions, if not billions, of financial transactions carried out every day, a worrying proportion will be associated with money laundering. Identifying such illegal transactions is difficult especially as the criminals carrying out such transactions are well aware of the tools used by banks and financiers to spot suspicious money movements and as such can usually obfuscate the activity very efficiently.
The team has devised a way to profile individual users and to flag up activity that is genuinely suspicious without the false positives that might otherwise interfere with genuine banking and other financial transactions members of the public might carry out entirely legitimately.
"The approach works based on the dynamic behaviour of customer transactions that measures the customer's own transaction history, profile features and identifies suspicious transactions," the team writes. They have tested the approach against realistic data and validated the result with confirmed suspicious customers. The dynamic approach has an accuracy of well over 90 percent, which exceeds that seen with statistical models based on pre-defined rules, the team concludes.
Shaikh, A.K. and Nazir, A. (2020) 'A novel dynamic approach to identifying suspicious customers in money transactions', Int. J. Business Intelligence and Data Mining, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp.143–158.
- Guerrilla marketing
How do marketing professionals evaluate the success or otherwise of their guerilla marketing campaigns? That is the question addressed in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising.
Thérèse Roux of the Department of Marketing, Logistics and Sport Management at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa and Marcel Saucet of the University of San Diego in California, USA, explain how consumers are exposed to a wide range of advertising and media every day with countless brands vying for attention. Many advertisers have, for several years, incorporated out-of-home media channels such as guerrilla street marketing to try and grab customer attention through surprising, bewildering, and otherwise novel campaigns.
There have been numerous high-profile examples of guerilla marketing in recent years: Japanese vehicle manufacturer Toyota launched its new RAV4 Hybrid car by creating a gigantic outdoor climbing wall in the in the middle of Times Square in New York City and allowed novice climbers to have a go. Swedish home furniture and fittings retailer Ikea opened a pop-up DIY restaurant in London where locals could prepare family dinners under the supervision of celebrity chefs. Commuters in Colombia were encouraged by sportswear and equipment company Reebok to join an exercise session in pop-up-gymnasiums within bus shelters.
The team has reviewed the research literature as well as interviewing marketing communications professionals from large internationally recognised agencies as well as smaller independent guerrilla marketing companies. "Professionals carefully and purposefully select appropriate environments and combine distinctive instruments to track cognitive, affective and behavioural responses," the team writes. In that context, they have found that the effects of guerrilla street marketing are moving from performance at the street level to acquiring and quantifying online diffusion. They add that their work, which is among the first such investigation, will help improve our understanding of the practices of experienced professionals and identify practical techniques that can be used to evaluate contemporary street guerrilla marketing.
Savvy marketing agencies have already recognized that a guerilla marketing campaign on the street has the potential to "go viral" on social media and extend the reach way beyond those who see it live to the millions who might view videos and photos of such an event captured by the public or even those involved in the campaign. The team suggests that we are now seeing an evolution from asking a limited number of customers to be involved, figuratively speaking, in "dancing in the street" to providing a point of interest and engagement for global, online "socializing" that will hopefully boost brand reach and engagement, and on the bottom line, sales of the product or service being marketed.
Roux, T. and Saucet, M. (2020) 'From dancing on the street to dating online: evaluating guerrilla street marketing performance', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.336–359.
- Hybrid measures to beat phish
A hybrid algorithm that used machine learning to feed off statistical induction ratios can spot malicious web pages known as phishing sites and so alert unwary users to the possibility that their data, privacy or security may be compromised before they access such sites Details are published in the International Journal of Data Mining, Modelling and Management.
Hiba Zuhair of Al-Nahrain University, in Baghdad, Iraq, and Ali Selamat of the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Johor, Malaysia, explain how there are some very powerful machine learning systems that can detect phishing sites. However, the criminal creators of such websites are rather wily and there are always novel page structures and coding that might be missed by such protection systems on the day when the new malware site is first launched and the early unwitting users get hooked. To preclude users falling for such zero-hour phishing sites there is an urgent need for an adaptive approach that can spot the problem even with novel sites.
As such, "Phishing induction must be boosted up with the extraction of new features, the selection of robust subsets of decisive features, the active learning of classifiers on a big webpage stream," the team writes. Their two-pronged algorithmic defence provides a more holistic way to detect phishing sites. They have demonstrated efficacy against existing machines learning-based anti-phishing techniques. The team hopes that their analysis of earlier approaches and the method they suggest could provide a new "taxonomy" for the development of more effective still protection against this ubiquitous security problem in the digital realm.
Zuhair, H. and Selamat, A. (2020) 'Phish webpage classification using hybrid algorithm of machine learning and statistical induction ratios', Int. J. Data Mining, Modelling and Management, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.255–276.
- Breaking brand
Back in the day, if you liked a brand, you bought and used its products, perhaps mentioning or even recommending to friends and family. Today, the ubiquity of social media means that consumers have so many additional, albeit online, ways in which to "interact" and "engage" with a brand beyond simply using the product. One might post photos of the brand in action on a personal blog, photo or video site, such as Instagram or Youtube, one might offer updates and critique on platforms like Twitter, and, of course, there is the possibility of endless opportunities for liking, following, and commenting with and about a brand on Facebook.
Now, researchers from Korea and the USA writing in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, discuss why some consumers ultimately disengage with some brands they once showed allegiance to on Facebook. They discuss the notion of advertising avoidance and one's shift in the consumer-brand relationship not only in the context of hiding content that is no longer wanted but also as a means of direct self-expression.
A former brand fan that friends and family knew "liked" a brand summarily "unliking" it may be seen as a change in attitude or personal identity. Of course, the rationale may be perceived information overload, attitude towards social media marketing in general, but there is a certain element that pushes the brand detachment as social-identity expression, the team suggests.
Kwon, E.S., Kim, E. and Chung, Y.J. (2020) 'Social break up: why consumers hide and unlike brands on Facebook', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp.299–317.
- Less work, more play
In the current global situation many people have been forced to rethink what we previously referred to as a work-life balance. There was much pressure from good mental health advocates for us to opt for more leisure time if that were a possibility. Now, in the time of the global coronavirus pandemic, we can see new ways to look at leisure time with a perspective on life satisfaction. However, in research carried out before Covid-19, Yen-Lien Kuo and Tzu-Hsiu Huang of the Department of Economics at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, Taiwan, investigated the relationships between working hours and changes in time spent on leisure and sports activities, as well as perceived health status, and individual life satisfaction.
Fundamentally, they analysed data from the Taiwan Social Change Survey and were able to show that longer working hours almost inevitably led to significantly lower life satisfaction whereas more leisure time improved subjective health measures and enhanced life satisfaction markedly. There was a caveat in terms of health. In that those in full-time work tended to be healthier than those were not. However, there was still the potential to improve mental health by boosting life satisfaction when employees were able to have more leisure time at the expense of working hours.
For Taiwan in particular, it is as a nation third in the league tables for longest working hours among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. It had been suggested in much earlier work that people with long working hours and inadequate recovery time see various problems accumulate over time and become chronic reactions. Work and leisure time may have been upturned in recent months because of pandemic lockdown and other factors. However, part of the new-normal may well see an increased need to balance work and leisure without trying to cram more hours into the day by reducing working hours. We already know that many more people can work from home and avoid the daily commute. This research suggests that government-led initiatives, particularly in Taiwan could drive this forward to the benefit of employees and perhaps even for employers.
Kuo, Y-L. and Huang, T-H. (2020) 'The impacts of increasing leisure time on subjective health and life satisfaction', Int. J. Happiness and Development, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.26-40.
- Self-healing concrete
The almost ubiquitous construction material we know as concrete has high compressive strength but low tensile strength. In order to overcome this problem, reinforced concrete was developed. Unfortunately, reinforced concrete more readily succumbs to corrosion particularly from water ingress so there is a need to develop ways to improve the formulation of reinforced concrete and perhaps to develop additives that allow the self-healing of cracks and fissures that grow so that a structure might be saved from complete deterioration.
Writing in the International Journal of Structural Engineering, a team from the National Institute of Technology, in Raipur, India, explain that there are two major causes of deterioration: carbonation-induced corrosion and chloride-induced corrosion. "Through the random distribution of pore spaces in concrete, aggressive substances, such as carbon dioxide, chloride, moisture, and oxygen may penetrate the structure," the team explains. This, in turn, can break down the protective layer around reinforcing steel bars within the structure leading to their corrosion and ultimate failure.
In terms of the chemistry of the initial corrosion process involving carbonation. The initial alkalinity arising from the hydration process of cement protects the concrete formed from corrosion. However, carbon dioxide ingress leads to reactions with calcium compounds in the concrete which generates calcium carbonate and lowers the alkalinity making the material more acidic, unstable, and thus susceptible to degradation.
Other researchers have already shown that adding Bacillus subtilis bacteria to the cement formulation can have a protective effect. The team has now shown that calcium lactate can boost the benefits of the microbes by reducing the carbonation rate. It also improves the compressive strength of the concrete. Moreover, the living bacteria can refill and repair microscopic cracks within the structure to a degree allowing concrete to self-heal. This was observed in the laboratory by the team using scanning electron microscopy.
Vijay, K. and Murmu, M. (2020) 'Effect of calcium lactate and Bacillus subtilis bacteria on properties of concrete and self-healing of cracks', Int. J. Structural Engineering, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp.217–231.
New Editor for International Journal of Knowledge Science and Engineering
Associate Prof. Jianxin Li from Deakin University in Australia has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Knowledge Science and Engineering.
New Editor for International Journal of Nuclear Law
Associate Prof. Jakub Handrlica from Charles University in the Czech Republic has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Nuclear Law.
New Editor for International Journal of Technology Marketing
Dr. Peter Bican from Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Technology Marketing. The previous Editor in Chief, Prof. Philipp A. Rauschnabel of Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany, will remain with the journal on its Editorial Board.
New Editor for International Journal of Reliability and Safety
Prof. Om Prakash Yadav from North Dakota University in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Reliability and Safety. The journal's founding editor, Prof. Zissimos Mourelatos of Oakland University, USA, will remain on the board as Executive Editor.
New Editor for International Journal of Governance and Financial Intermediation
Prof. M. Ángeles López-Cabarcos from Santiago de Compostela University in Spain has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Governance and Financial Intermediation.