A … botnet?

IE Focus | By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School 

You may not know this, but your computer could have a secret life of its own. It may form part of a network that takes advantage of chinks in your computer’s security system to commit fraud. Such a network is called a botnet.The news of the recent arrest of three Spanish citizens responsible for the “Butterfly Network”, described as one of the largest botnets in the world, was received with great interest by Spain’s technology sector. But exactly what is a botnet and what is it used for? What is a zombie computer? What are we talking about?

A botnet, or “robot network”, is a group of computers which, after being infected by a specific person or group, remain under his or its control and can be used for fraudulent purposes. The owners of the computers are usually unaware of the infection and do not know that their machine is being used, together with many more, for some type of generally criminal purpose. The person who manages to control a botnet has many options on the table: collecting sensitive user data, launching distributed denial-of-service attacks and even ordering the computers to click on websites with advertising contracted by a third party. The possibilities are manifold: the botmaster has an army of computers ready to execute a certain command at his/her will, with the profit resulting from any fraudulent behaviour being very difficult to identify as a result of the distribution.

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Out of sync at 40

IE Focus | By Celia de Anca, Director Centre of Global Diversity Management at IE

The midlife crisis affects both men and women, but while men tend to seek an emotional answer, women often need a more rational approach. It would be to business corporations’ advantage to provide women with just that.According to Jewish mysticism, a man can only start his learning of the cabbala after his 40th birthday, when life starts to fall apart and needs to be rebuilt, not so much from the outside, but rather from within, from a connection with his true nature. In our more prosaic civilisation, we speak of the midlife crisis, which, as Tony Judt pointed out not long ago, is that crucial moment when many men either get a new wife or buy a motorbike. 

A woman could not study the cabbala so there was apparently no reason for speaking about when her life starts to fall apart in mystic terms, and women have not traditionally changed their husband for one who was 20 years younger when reaching the age of 40. Her crisis, at least in our society, used to be the empty nest syndrome, which left a woman waiting to refill it with grandchildren.
Our society has changed, even if the midlife crisis is still with us. A woman no longer cries when her chicks fly the nest. Indeed, many of them are happy to see them go and become hungry for a professional career with some kind of meaning. A male friend once told me that after 20 years in the same profession, the time had come to change his life. At the same time, his wife, after 5 years at home looking after the children, had reached a point where she really needed to go back to work. Hence pure logic led them to change their roles, whereby he stayed at home for a few years enjoying his time with his children, who were still small, while she went back to work to enjoy the pleasures (yes, there are some) of a full professional life.

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Alternative Financing

IE Focus | By Ignacio de la Torre, Academic Director of Master in Finance, Master in Advanced Finance

The credit crunch could go on for years. That’s why alternative funding is on the rise, and it looks like it is here to stay.In 2009 more European companies financed their businesses using bonds rather than banks. This has never happened before, so what’s going on? The current situation means that banks are having to clean up their balance sheets, build up equity and write off toxic assets, which makes it difficult for them to offer companies competitive interest rates. Plus, Basel III will penalize bank loans to companies, which further exacerbates the current liquidity crunch. This scenario has forced companies to do their homework and to seek alternative sources of funding for expansion.

What is alternative financing? It’s the kind that does not depend on the banks. Traditionally, risk capital has played a major role in financing companies undergoing growth. It is normally broken down into two types: venture capital, which finances startups (often technology-related businesses) and private equity, which is generally used by more mature companies with a lower growth rate and a higher debt volume.

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The World Cup in South Africa: Dream or Nightmare?

IE Focus | By Gildo Seisdedos, Professor at IE Business School

South Africa’s much-desired World Cup could turn into a nightmare if global coverage exposes the country’s weakest points.This year the World Cup will be held in Africa. For the first time in history, the world’s most coveted sporting event after the Olympics has gone to the African continent. Beyond the strong symbolism of the pictures of Nelson Mandela holding the trophy and the impressive athletic progress made by African soccer, an unanswered question remains: was it a good idea to take soccer so far away from its origins?

Events as drivers for territorial transformation
We live in times when everyone wants a piece of the action where sporting events are concerned. Why? We might have to look for the root of this growing demand in what some have called the “Barcelona effect”. An industrial city in decline, positioned rather poorly within the regional hierarchy, manages to turn itself into a world-class city for tourism and services thanks to the impact on its brand made by an ambitious urban redevelopment project that used the Olympics as a driver and a global showcase. What mechanisms lay behind this magic transformation? Big events are without a doubt an excellent opportunity to tackle a region’s lack of certain facilities or infrastructure, both of which can benefit from the impact of the magic and far-reaching legacy of a major sporting event.

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IE Communicator’s Competition

In a network society, as individuals or organizations, we express our human and digital identity. The practice of story-telling abilities as a mean to communicate strategically & creatively is crucial as the world becomes smaller as a result of greater connectivity between information & opinions. With this mindset we encourage individuals to put in test…

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IE Global Environmental Leaders Competition

The Master in Global Environmental Change from the IE School of Biology is an innovative program with a unique focus. The Master will prepare students to translate the emerging insights about our changing living environment into understandable information to guide decision-makers in business, governments, and communities. To celebrate this pioneering program, IE School of Biology…

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Pritzker-Hyatt Scholarships for the IE Bachelor in Architecture

The Pritzker-Hyatt scholarships, for the education of professionals in the world of Architecture, are directed toward students of IE University’s Bachelor in Architecture + Business. The IE Foundation and Pritzker-Hyatt have signed an agreement, offering two scholarships to candidates that have successfully completed the admission process, therefore being admitted to the IE School of Architecture,…

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IE Online Programs – more than just distance learning

Why switching your postgraduate plans just because of your recent promotion? Are you “scared” about distance learning or online programs just because they do not provide the same learning as in a full-time programs?  Join the upcoming IE presentation about its online programs and the worldwide recognized blended learning methodology. Prof. Gamaliel Martinez will guide…

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Are we really so ignorant?

IE Focus | By Jose Mari O’Kean, Professor at IE Business School

The economic crisis has taught us an important lesson, namely that increases in wealth have to be based on real business, not on rises in the price of financial assets.We now have different books and reports on the financial crisis and they all have one common denominator: our ignorance of what happened and the difficulty involved in predicting it.

But if we stop and think for a minute, we can perhaps see that we aren’t really so ignorant:

a)We know that the market is what works best, but it has its faults. Several of them led to this crisis, namely the lack of information and the low-level transparency of financial markets, the principal-agent problem in bank management, behaviour among brokers that gave rise to moral risk, and inappropriate choices made by savers regarding financial assets and by banks regarding mortgage borrowers.

b)For better or for worse, states have intervened to correct these faults in economies, but we have no regulators to correct the faults of the global economy.

c)We operate in a global environment and this has made it possible to channel savings from where they were made to where they were needed with relative ease. The appearance of an emerging country such as China, with a savings rate of more than 40% of its revenue and a current-account surplus of 6% of its GDP, has brought an influx of funds available for loans on global financial markets.

d)And the newest facet of this crisis is perhaps that a generalized mega-expansionary monetary policy has been put in place coupled with the controlled inflation of the prices of goods and services, but nobody thought to control the significant increases in price it brought to financial and real assets.

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The iPad or cult of the apple

IE Focus | By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School

Apple did it again. It focused everyone’s attention on the iPad launch, and it will be a success because it takes the best that tablets had to offer and adds the Apple touch.The world of technology has experienced another of those characteristic “cult of the apple” events, also known as the “field of distortion of reality”. Once again we saw how that high priest called Steve Jobs, thin and fragile after his liver transplant, hypnotised the world of technology from a stage, completely redefining, almost reinventing, an entire market segment. For several hours, searches on Twitter for the word “iPad” returned more than five thousand new results per minute, while devotees and critics eagerly followed the news via the several thousands of bloggers and journalists who were at the Yerba Buena Centre of San Francisco. Once again the mystical information system designed by the company worked its magic: a combination of obsessive secrecy seasoned with a few information leaks that were not confirmed until the moment of truth and a staging capable of creating a truly surprising level of expectation. 

Before the iPad, the world of mobile devices began with mobile telephones, continued with the so-called netbooks and ended with laptops, the category in which Apple´s sales reached their high. However, Apple had often snubbed the intermediate category of netbooks, which it referred to as small, limited computers that led to poor user experiences. As a result, Apple had a clear gap in its product range, a gap it has filled with a move that is strategically perfect. It offers a product that is familiar: after redefining mobile telephones with the iPhone and becoming the reference design, it has designed something that is simply a very big iPhone, something everyone who has ever had an iPhone in their hands knows how to use or, in the light of the company´s concept of usability, even if they have never held one. It is everything from a book or a magazine to a simple computer when used with a keyboard base. 

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Toyota, the just-in-time spirit is alive and well

IE Focus | By Daisy Escobar, Professor at IE Business School

Toyota has been shaken to its very foundations by the mechanical faults detected in some of its models, but it has managed to react fast, with improvements that are reminiscent of its just-in-time breakthrough.A company with faulty products is nothing new. Situations in which the fault affects its products en masse are not quite so common, but the business annals now contain several notorious cases, some of which have been solved more successfully than others.

The problem is therefore not a new one. The difference lies in that it is happening to Toyota, the company renowned for manufacturing fault-free products, that demonstrated the cost of ´no quality´ and that continuously works to eliminate any kind of wastefulness. Indeed, the concept of faulty product is what the company focuses on most in order to eliminate it from its plants. Toyota invented the famous poka-yokes, the alarms and controls that warn of errors so that they can be corrected before they become faults, in other words, before they are found by customers.

The mechanical problem affecting the accelerator pedals on some of its models and the brake pedals on others has struck the very heart of Toyota´s ideology: its commitment to quality. The company has not had long to wait to feel the effects of the problem: more than ten million cars recalled for a service; around two million dollars in costs (estimated figure); and a somewhat tarnished image as far as its customers are concerned

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The IE “Marketing Gurus”

Original published at Bangkok Post on May 4, 2010 Earlier this year, Patr Bhalakula, a talented young Thai pursuing a Master in Marketing Management degree at IE  Business School, and his team won the second prize in the Novartis Masterminds Challenge in Spain.  The challenge is a competition involving the London Business School, IESE (Instituto…

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Upcoming IE Days in Jakarta, May 17-18

Join the upcoming IE presentations and meeting possibilities with one of Europe’s leading business schools next Monday and Tuesday in Jakarta. On Monday, you can learn more about IE and our programs. On Tuesday you can join an Admissions Workshop as well as have individual profile assessments and clarify any doubts you might have related…

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