457 Visas under the microscope

It’s just possible that the ITPA’s campaign to provide more transparency on the issuing of 457 skilled work visas in the IT sector has had an impact on policy decisions. Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull turned to Facebook in April to announce that 457 visas will be abolished and replaced with two new skilled migrant visa systems.

There was a flurry of news from IT media about the impact it would have on our industry and much of it included comment from ITPA courtesy of a published response from the organisation that was circulated.

You have to fear that this very serious issue for local IT workers has become another political football for those with their snouts in the trough as both sides now wrestle each other to gain the upper hand in a tussle over initiative and popularity. Labor leader, Bill Shorten weighed in with a thought bubble but when you look at what is happening here, you’d have to wonder if anything will ever change.

Redundancies now. New roles in the future. With my tongue firmly in my cheek, I suggest that the new roles require skills that are not available in Australia but which are in abundance in developing nations at reduced wages.

Illegal accessing of data. Be afraid

The AFP has admitted that some of its operatives had been illegally accessing journalists’ phone data in satisfying the needs of powerful people finding out who is leaking information they would rather have been kept hidden.

The bad news is that these privacy invasions have happened over 500,000 times in Australia but that is still lagging a few years behind the US where over 150 million phone records were accessed last year.

The good news is that it is still illegal to access and use the metadata being collected for civil litigation unless there are exceptional circumstances but will that stop rogue individuals, hackers and spooks from digging for it? Probably not.

It’s a massive cache of data just waiting for someone to get their hands on whether they be good guys or bad guys.

But then again, if you don’t think that Big Brother is already watching us, listening to us and predicting our next move, then perhaps we are a little naïve. It’s something that WikiLeaks wanted us to know.

Safe and secure in cyberspace?

Security is always a good source of news for IT journos so it was interesting to see that apparently

systems administrators are a new target to come under attack, personally. Of course, it makes sense I guess if you want to plan a mass breakout from prison you need to somehow compromise the guy with all the keys.

However, according to the 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, the main cyber security threats facing government organisations globally come from “state-affiliated espionage”. It’s not just external threats though that create all this vulnerability to the masses of data now being stored.  “Miscellaneous errors” was also in the top three and it’s the biggest security and integrity problem in health IT.

NBN always in the news

A project as farcical as the NBN has become is always going to garner lots of media coverage. For IT journos, it is almost reaching Lindy Chamberlain proportions. It is a story that just keeps giving and in a similar way to the tragedy of the baby that was taken by a dingo all those years ago, the NBN is sure to keep industry commentators at their keyboards for years to come because the service won’t deliver on its promise.

Meanwhile, technical boffins might enjoy the configuration explained here from a high-speed internet trial by NBN and, I assume, will probably also be able to explain why it is the PR stunt it appears to be. Imagine if we could have a national broadband network that performed like this. We could be an innovative nation. We could build a knowledge-based growth economy. There would be some chance of creating the new jobs we need for the next generation of already tech-savvy citizens.

Sorry, but I had to chuckle at NBN’s claim that they had joined forces with Nokia to test new fibre technology called NG-PON2 that could deliver symmetrical speeds of 10Gbps to premises where fibre to the premises is installed. The “where FTTP is installed” bit being the punchline in this gag. It’s flip phones and snake games for the rest of us.

There is also a mounting body of evidence to suggest that the NBN being built is not going to be a good thing for smaller ISPs. That story is from last year but, quick, put your tin hats on. The conspiracy theorist in me says that “they” are out to get the little guy so only the big guys get the spoils of the proletariat. Traditional small-to-medium ISPs and other communications innovators just seem to be getting bashed from pillar to post - especially in the regions - by regulators who develop policy that always adds costs that only the big end of town can meet, therefore they get to vacuum up the bleeding customers.

We don’t know what is behind the decision but the CTO has been replaced at NBN. Never mind. It’s all OK. When the Federal Government starts spin-doctoring about “Good Debt” and “Bad Debt”, the NBN spending debacle and blow-outs were always going to be classified as good debt.

Amazon coming to Australia

By now, you should be aware that Amazon has its eyes on our farms to build server farms and retail fulfillment centres that could kill local retailers. It’s ironic to me that as the world’s lungs - the Amazon jungle - keeps on shrinking at an alarming rate, conversely, Amazon the online-retail-come-infrastructure-services-company keeps growing and now has a market capitalisation in the vicinity of $500 billion.

Amazon has been around in Australia for a while but it is really upping the ante and looking to take a portion of Australia’s $300 billion retail industry as well as riding on the hockey stick curve of cloud computing growth in this country that is yet to come according to its CTO.

Some pundits suggest that Amazon will probably morph again the future with Artificial Intelligence, Logistics and Web services offering the opportunity for tangential change.

One thing is for sure, with Amazon on the hunt for market share growth in this largely green-field cloud environment, there are going to be some good deals on offer for service providers and IT organisations as they chummy up to the customers.