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Cybersecurity is everyone’s biz

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Now more than ever before, businesses need to offer exciting opportunities to boost employee productivity, creativity, and engagement, but they cannot be at the expense of security, writes BRENDAN MCARAVEY, Country Manager at Citrix South Africa.

The future of work very much revolves around the future of security. New ways of working offer exciting opportunities to boost employee productivity, creativity, and engagement, but they can’t come at the expense of security. The work force in today’s businesses is predominantly young, and according to a Citrix commissioned study carried out by Opinium in 2016, younger people aged 18 – 34 are more willing to store private data on their computers when compared to their older counterparts.

Led by this younger generation in the work space, the practices that are already shaping the future of work like —BYOD, unprecedented mobility, any-network access, employee-centric experiences, have the potential of increasing risk for data, applications and networks. The attack surface has never been so broad or so inviting—and threats have never been more sophisticated. At a time when data is both more valuable and more vulnerable than ever, how will we secure the future of work? As a guiding principle, we can’t rely on add-on security technologies and teams operating in siloes.

Security must be woven throughout both the IT architecture and the organisation to ensure that no matter how or where people work, the organisation is protected. At the same time, the measures we rely on can’t be allowed to impair the user’s experience or productivity. Today’s workforce won’t accept arbitrary restrictions or barriers; the same creative spirit that fuels innovation will also lead them to seek consumer-market workarounds.

The key is to make cybersecurity everyone’s business. When employees are fully bought in to security—when they understand its importance and relevance, and they’re empowered to support it without sacrificing their own work, your security team becomes truly organization-wide.

To that end, here are six security best practices for the future of work.

1.       Educate users: User education has been a tenet of cybersecurity since the early days. But that makes it all the more important to reinforce its importance, so that we never overlook it or take it for granted. As people gain the freedom to work anywhere, on any device, knowing how to do so safely must be a top priority. In the employee-centric modern workplace, it’s also important to consider how this education takes place. It’s not enough simply to recite lists of rules and protocols.

2.       Engage with lines of business: Security doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The most effective policies are grounded in a firm knowledge of operational processes. Regular meetings with business decision-makers helps employees understands the implications of new initiatives. It also helps get crucial perspective into the tools, workflows and practices that enable to drive value, helping design measures that maintain protection and control without getting in the way of business.

4.       Modernize and mobilize your security policies: Mobility increasingly defines IT—in terms of both the mobile devices people use, and the constant movement of people, devices and data from one place to another. Ensuring security policies reflect the real world—not some antiseptic, locked-down cybersecurity dream (and employee nightmare). Creating clear rules and guidelines to help employees stay safe without losing the freedom and flexibility they’ve come to rely on. Specify convenient yet secure alternatives to consumer-grade technologies.

5.       Enforce policies fairly and consistently: Inconsistent enforcement can doom even the best security policy—and can undermine the credibility of any subsequent policy. When security becomes part of the culture, the whole organisation becomes safer for the long term no matter what the future brings.

6.       Make it seamless—and automatic: The less you have to rely on human intervention, the more reliable security becomes. This can include everything from conditional access controls that show employees only the apps they’re authorised to use in a given scenario, to business data encryption by default on mobile devices. Open-in controls can prevent email attachments from opening in non-corporate apps. Micro-VPN can ensure security over public Wi-Fi. Automated logging and reporting can facilitate compliance and audit readiness.

There are many opportunities to make security more seamless and transparent for users, and simpler and more efficient for IT to maintain. As the scale and complexity of the enterprise environment continues to grow, steps like these will be critical to stay one step ahead. The future of work gets a lot of buzz these days, and rightly so—it gets more exciting by the day. With these best practices, you can make sure it’s also growing more secure by the day.

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How to rob a bank in the 21st century

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In the early 1980s, South Africans were gripped by tales of the most infamous bank robbery gangs the country had ever known: The Stander Gang. The gang would boldly walk into banks, brandishing weapons, demand cash and simply disappear. These days, a criminal doesn’t even have to be in the same country as the bank he or she intends to rob. Cyber criminals are quite capable of emptying bank accounts without even stepping out of their own homes.

As we become more and more aware of cybersecurity and the breaches that can occur, we’ve become more vigilant. Criminals, however, are still going to follow the money and even though security may be beefed up in many organisations, hackers are going to go for the weakest links. This makes it quintessential for consumers and enterprises to stay one step ahead of the game.

“Not only do these cyber bank criminals get away with the cash, they also end up damaging an organisation’s reputation and the integrity of its infrastructure,” says Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President of Trend Micro, Sub-Saharan Africa. “And sometimes, these breaches mean they get away with more than just cash – they can make off with data and personal information as well.”

Because the cyber criminals operate outside bricks and mortar, going for the cash register or robbing the customers is not where their misdeeds end. Bank employees – from the tellers to the CEO – are all fair game.

But how do they do it? Taking money out of an account is not the only way to steal money. Cyber criminals can zero in on the bank’s infrastructure, or hack into payment systems and even payment documents. Part of a successful operation for them may also include hacking into telecommunications to gain access to one-time pins or mobile networks.

“It’s not just about hacking,” says Siriniwasa.. “It’s also about the hackers trying to get an ‘inside man’ in the bank who could help them or even using a person’s personal details to get a new SIM so that they can have access to OTPs. Of course, they also use the tried and tested method of phishing which continues to be exceptionally effective – despite the education in the market to thwart it.”

The amounts of malware and available attacks to gain access to bank funds is strikingly vast and varies from using web injection script, social engineering and even targeting internal networks as well as points of sale systems. If there is an internet connection and a system you can be assured that there is a cybercriminal trying to crack it. The impact on the bank itself is also massive, with reputations left in tatters and customers moving their business elsewhere.

“We see that cyber criminals use multi-faceted attacks,” says Siriniwasa. “This means that we need to come at security from multiple angles as well. Every single layer of an organisation’s online perimeter need to be secured. Threat isolation is exceptionally important and having security with intrusion protection is vital. Again, vigilance on the part of staff and customers also goes a long way to preventing attacks. These criminals might not carry guns like Andre Stander and his gang, but they are just as dangerous – in fact – probably more so.”

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Beaten by big data? AI is the answer

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by ZAKES SOCIKWA, cloud big data and analytics lead at Oracle

In 2019, it’sestimated we’ll generate more data than we did in the previous 5,000 years. Data is fast becoming the most valuable asset of any modern organisation, and while most have access to their internal data, they continue to experience challenges in deriving maximum value through being able to effectively monetise the information that they hold.

The foundation of any analytics or Business Intelligence (BI) reporting capability is an efficient data collection system that ensures events/transactions are properly recorded, captured, processed and stored. Some of this information on its own might not provide any valuable insights, but if it is analysed together with other sources might yield interesting patterns.

Big data opens up possibilities of enhancing internal sources with unstructured data and information from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Furthermore, as we move to a digital age, more businesses are implementing customer experience solutions and there is a growing need for them to improve their service and personalise customer engagements.

The digital behaviour of customers, such as social media postings and the networks or platforms they engage with, further provides valuable information for data collection. Information gathering methods are being expanded to accommodate all types and formats of data, including images, videos, and more.

In the past, BI and Data Mining were left to highly technical and analytical individuals, but the introduction of data visualisation tools is democratising the analytics world. However, business users and report consumers often do not have a clear understanding of what they need or what is possible.

AI now embedded into day to day applications

To this end, artificial intelligence (AI) is finishing what business intelligence started. By gathering, contextualising, understanding, and acting on huge quantities of data, AI has given rise to a new breed of applications – one that’s continuously improving and adapting to the conditions around it. The more data that is available for the analysis, the better is the quality of the outcomes or predictions.

In addition, AI changes the productivity equation for many jobs by automating activities and adapting current jobs to solve more complex and time-consuming problems, from recruiters being able to source better candidates faster to financial analysts eliminating manual error-prone reporting.

This type of automation will not replace all jobs but will invent new ones. This enables businesses to reduce the time to complete tasks and the costs of maintenance, and will lead to the creation of higher-value jobs and new engagement models. Oracle predicts that by 2025, the productivity gains delivered by AI, emerging technologies, and augmented experiences could double compared to today’s operations.

According to the IDC, worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics (BDA) solutions was expected to total $166 billion in 2018, and forecast to reach $260 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.9% over the 2017-2022 forecast period. It adds that two of the fastest growing BDA technology categories will be Cognitive/AI Software Platforms (36.5% CAGR) and Non-relational Analytic Data Stores (30.3% CAGR)¹.

Informed decisions, now and in the future

As new layers of technology are introduced and more complex data sources are added to the ecosystem, the need for a tightly integrated technology stack becomes a challenge. It is advisable to choose your technology components very carefully and always have the end state in mind.

More development on emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, IoT, virtual reality and others will probably be available on cloud first before coming on premise. For those organisations that are adopting public cloud, there are opportunities to consume the benefits of public cloud and drive down costs of doing business.

While the introduction of public cloud is posing a challenge on data sovereignty and other regulations, technology providers such as Oracle have developed a ‘Cloud at Customer’ model that provides the full benefits of public cloud – but located on premise, within an organisation’s own data centre.

The best organisations will innovate and optimise faster than the rest. Best decisions must be made around choice of technology, business processes, integration and architectures that are fit for business. In the information marketplace, speed and informed decision making will be key differentiators amongst competitors.

¹ IDC Press Release, Revenues for Big Data and Business Analytics Solutions Forecast to Reach $260 Billion in 2022, Led by the Banking and Manufacturing Industries, According to IDC, 15 August 2018

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