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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

In the Virtual Extension

* The Ephemeral Legion: Producing an Expert Cyber-Security Work Force from Thin Air

Michael E. Locasto, Anup K. Ghosh, Sushil Jajodia, and Angelos Stavrou

Although recent hiring forecasts (some thousands of new cyber-security professionals over the next three years) by both the NSA and DHS show a strong demand for cyber-security skills, such a hiring spree seems ambitious, to say the least. The current rate of production of skilled cyber-security workers satisfies the appetite of neither the public nor private sector, and if a concerted effort to drastically increase this work force is not made the U.S. will export high-paying information security jobs. In a global economy, such a situation isn't necessarily a bad outcome, but it poses several challenges to the U.S.'s stated cyber-security plans.

The authors believe the creation of a significant cyber-security work force is not only feasible, but also will help ensure the economic strength of the U.S. Beyond offering immediate economic stimulus, the nature of these jobs demands they remain in the U.S. for the long term, and they would directly support efforts to introduce information technology into the health care and energy systems in a secure and reliable fashion. Without a commitment to educating such a work force, it is impossible to hire such a work force into existence.

From the authors' point of view, far too few workers are adequately trained mostly because traditional educational mechanisms lack the resources to effectively train large numbers of experienced, knowledgeable cyber-security specialists. Just as importantly, many of the current commercial training programs and certifications focus on teaching skills useful for fighting the last cyberwar, not the current, nor future ones.

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Contributed article DOI: 10.1145/1866739.1866766

* On the Move, Wirelessly Connected to the World

Peter Fröhlich, Antti Oulasvirta, Matthias Baldauf, and Antti Nurminen

Is it possible to experience real-world landmarks through a wave, gaze, location coordinates, or touch, prompting delivery of useful digital information? Today's mobile handheld devices offer opportunities never before possible for interacting with digital information that responds to users' physical locations. But mobile interfaces have only limited input capabilities, usually just a keyboard and audio, while emerging multimodal interaction paradigms are beginning to take advantage of user movements and gestures through sensors, actuators, and content. For example, tourists asking about an unfamiliar landmark might point at it intuitively and would certainly welcome a handheld computer that responds directly to that interest. When passersby provide directions, the description might include local features, as in, say, "Turn right after the red building and enter through the metal gates." They, too, would welcome being able to see these features represented in a directly recognizable way on their handhelds. Or when following a route to a remote destination, they would want to know the turns and distances they would need to take through tactile or auditory cues, without having to switch their gaze between the environment and the display.

This article explores the synthesis of several emerging research trends called Mobile Spatial Interaction, or MSI (, covering new interaction techniques that let users interact with physical, natural, and urban surroundings through today's sensor-rich mobile devices.

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Contributed article DOI: 10.1145/1866739.1866765

* OpenSocial: An Enabler for Social Applications on the Web

Matthias Häsel

Social networking and open interfaces can be seen as representative of two characteristic trends to have emerged in the Web 2.0 era, both of which have evolved in recent years largely independently of each other. A significant portion of our social interaction now takes place on social networks, and URL-addressable APIs have become an integral part of the Web. The arrival of OpenSocial heralds a new standard uniting these two trends by defining a set of programming interfaces for developing social applications that are interoperable on different social network sites.

OpenSocial applications are interoperable within the context of multiple networks and build on standard technologies such as HTML and JavaScript. The advent of OpenSocial increases a developer's scope and productivity considerably, as it means that applications need only be developed once, and can then be implemented within the context of any given container that supports the standard. Meanwhile, operators of social network sites are presented with the opportunity to expand on their own existing functionalities with a host of additional third-party applications, without having to relinquish control over their user data in the process.

Until it was made public in November 2007, the OpenSocial standard was driven primarily by Google. The standard was not suited to productive use at that time however, as there were several shortcomings with respect to the user interface and security. The specification is now managed by the non-profit OpenSocial Foundation and, with its 0.8 version, a stable state suitable for commercial use has been reached.

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