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Battle on for consumer data

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The development in cyber attacks over the past couple of years has been rapid, but what is even more worrying, says BRYAN HAMMAN of Arbor Networks, is that companies are only now waking up to the idea that their current defences are inadequate.

The last couple of years have seen rapid and complex developments in the cyber threat landscape. A significant portion of cyber attacks are now being made up of brute-force, volumetric distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which look to disrupt on-line presence and conceal malicious activity, often with the aim of stealing data. What’s worrying is the fact companies are only now starting to realise their defences might not be ready for these types of attacks.

Adding to this concern is the fact that attackers are becoming increasingly adept at combining tools to their best effect and targeting all sorts of organisations. It’s not solely large companies that are being hit. Businesses large and small, across all industry sectors, public and private, even charities, are being targeted, for a variety of reasons. The rise of ideological hacktivism, the use of DDoS attacks to distract or disguise from other kinds of cyber-crime and the use of DDoS as a “competitive weapon’” in some industry sectors are just some of the key motivations behind those attacks, as shown in Arbor’s 11th annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report.

As a consequence there has been a clear increase in the level of interest from businesses in solutions and services to help protect themselves. Executives within a wide variety of businesses are now aware of the severe consequences of a successful DDoS attack – both in terms of financial and reputational damage – and businesses are starting to realise the fact that a one-size-fits-all approach to security is unlikely to be successful in the long term.

Specific threats require, in a lot of cases, specific solutions and DDoS is a good example. On-premise firewalls and intrusion detection system (IDS) products can deal with small, more simple attacks – but they can’t stop the more sophisticated application layer attacks that have become more prevalent over the past five years.  As such, firewalls or cloud-only mitigation solutions are no longer comprehensive enough to protect the network. Firewalls can’t deal with volumetric attacks, which saturate Internet connectivity, while cloud-based solutions may not proactively detect more stealthy attacks and take several minutes to activate, by which time significant damage has already been done.

Clearly then, organisational defences, from all kinds of threats, need to be multi-layered. To successfully deal with DDoS attacks, businesses need specialised defences at the network perimeters to proactively protect their networks from attacks and at the same time, cloud-based DDoS protection that can be called upon when an attack saturates the connectivity.

This layered approach is also needed when organisations try and protect themselves from compromise via malware or insider misuse. Organisations can have firewalls, IDS and antivirus systems in place but these aren’t always enough. With modern network and service architectures and the increasing prevalence of obfuscation techniques available to malware, businesses now need to monitor “inside” their network perimeters, as well as “at” the perimeter, to detect suspicious and malicious activities or compromised devices on their networks.

When thinking about enterprise security, it’s important to remember that additional layers of security need not be more complex to operate or deploy. If the right solutions are selected, with the right workflows, then organisations can actually help their operational security teams to become more efficient and effective. This helps IT pros to protect the organisation against the growing number of cyber threats out there. Thinking proactively about security and combining different layers of defences will ultimately help companies keep the front foot in the cyber war over customer data.

* Bryan Hamman, territory manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Arbor Networks 

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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