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Boards finally ‘get’ security

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It was long overdue, but 2017 can be seen as the year the boards of South African companies finally sat up and paid attention to information security, says PAUL WILLIAMS, Country Manager – Southern Africa at Fortinet.

“As recently as just a few months ago, the Fortinet Global Enterprise Security Survey found that 41% of local IT decision-makers believed that IT security is still not a top priority discussion for the board. But we see evidence that this is changing,” says Williams.

With the survey also finding that a full 82% of South African enterprises surveyed have been victims of a security breach in the past two years, along with the pending enactment Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act and the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill set to hold the board more accountable, information security is becoming a business priority at last, says Williams.

“High-profile local breaches in recent months have emphasized the fact that South Africa is fully a part of the global village, and is not immune to cybercrime. In addition, many local organisations began a significant move to cloud technologies this year, making security a key consideration as part of their migration and new digital enterprise strategies.”

Williams notes that this new prioritization of information security has driven a significant increase in IT security spend in South Africa – predicted to top R7 billion this year. “This is more than double the spend only two years ago,” he says. Investment in information security is expected to climb still further next year.

Coming in 2018

Fortinet expects to see broader adoption of advanced, intelligent software defined network security in 2018, as organisations move from complex and inadequate legacy systems to integrated, intelligent and automated security.

“The arrival of intelligent network security, pioneered by Fortinet’s Security Fabric, along with pending new legislation, the growing risk faced by South African enterprises and increasing awareness of the need for proactive – rather than reactive – IT security, are all changing the IT security landscape, he says.

Williams predicts increasingly sophisticated arming of security technology next year. At the same time, he believes cybercriminals will up their game, with more significant breaches likely. “Sectors that we believe are still particularly vulnerable in South Africa are the public sector and the healthcare sector,” he says.

Cloud adoption, moves to the digital enterprise and a new focus on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will also drive the prioritisation of information security next year, says Williams.

“It was too long in coming, but South African enterprises are at last starting to integrate information security throughout their operations, focus more on security awareness and skills development, and prioritising security as part of their business strategy. We expect this trend to develop further next year,” says Williams.

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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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