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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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IoT at starting gate

South Africa is already past the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle and well into the mainstream, writes MARK WALKER, associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC).

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Projects and pilots are already becoming a commercial reality, tying neatly into the 2017 IDC prediction that 2018 would be the year when the local market took IoT mainstream. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that IoT implementations will continue to rise in both scope and popularity. Already 23% are in full deployment with 39% in the pilot phase. The value of IoT has been systematically proven and yet its reputation remains tenuous – more than 5% of companies are reluctant to put their money where the trend is – thanks to the shifting sands of IoT perception and success rate.

There are several reasons behind why IoT implementations are failing. The biggest is that organisations don’t know where to start. They know that IoT is something they can harness today and that it can be used to shift outdated modalities and operations. They are aware of the benefits and the case studies. What they don’t know is how to apply this knowledge to their own journey so their IoT story isn’t one of overbearing complexity and rising costs.

Another stumbling block is perception. Yes, there is the futuristic potential with the talking fridge and intelligent desk, but this is not where the real value lies. Organisations are overlooking the challenges that can be solved by realistic IoT, the banal and the boring solutions that leverage systems to deliver on business priorities. IoT’s potential sits within its ability to get the best out of assets and production efficiencies, solving problems in automation, security, and environment.

In addition to this, there is a lack of clarity around return on investment, uncertainty around the benefits, a lack of executive leadership, and concerns around security and the complexities of regulation.  Because IoT is an emerging technology there remains a limited awareness of the true extent of its value proposition and yet 66% of organisations are confident that this value exists.

This percentage poses both a problem and opportunity. On one hand, it showcases the local shift in thinking towards IoT as a technology worth investing into. On the other hand, many companies are seeing the competition invest and leaping blindly in the wrong direction. Stop. IoT is not the same for every business.

It is essential that every company makes its own case for IoT based on its needs and outcomes. Does agriculture have the same challenges as mining? Does one mining company have the same challenges as another? The answer is no. Organisations that want their IoT investment to succeed must reject the idea that they can pick up where another has left off. IoT must be relevant to the business outcome that it needs to achieve. While some use cases may apply to most industries based on specific circumstances, there are different realities and priorities that will demand a different approach and starting point.

Ask – what is the business problem right now and how can technology be leveraged to resolve it?

In the agriculture space, there is a need to improve crop yields and livestock management, improve farm productivity and implement environmental monitoring. In the construction and mining industry, safety and emergency response are a priority alongside workforce and production management. Education shifts the lens towards improving delivery and quality of education, access to advanced learning methods and reducing the costs of learning.  Smart cities want to improve traffic and efficiently deliver public services and healthcare is focusing on wellness, reducing hospital admissions and the security of assets and inventory management.

The technology and solutions selected must speak to these specific challenges.

If there are no insights used to create an IoT solution, it’s the equivalent of having the fastest Ferrari on Rivonia Road in peak traffic. It makes a fantastic noise, but it isn’t going to move any faster than the broken-down sedan in the next lane. Everyone will be impressed with the Ferrari, but the amount of power and the size of the investment mean nothing. It’s in the wrong place.

What differentiates the IoT successes is how a company leverages data to deliver meaningful value-added predictions and actions for personalised efficiencies, convenience, and improved industry processes. To move forward the organisation needs to focus on the business outcomes and not just the technology. They need to localise and adapt by applying context to the problem that’s being solved and explore innovation through partnerships and experimentation.

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ERP underpins food tracking

The food traceability market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2022 as increased consumer awareness, strict governance requirements, and advances in technology are resulting in growing standardisation of the segment, says STUART SCANLON, managing director of epic ERP

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Just like any data-driven environment, one of the biggest enablers of this is integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to track something through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. When it comes to the food industry, traceability must also enable stakeholders to identify the source of all food inputs that can include anything from raw materials, additives, ingredients, and packaging.

Considering the wealth of data that all these facets generate, it is hardly surprising that systems and processes need to be put in place to manage, analyse, and provide actionable insights. With traceability enabling corrective measures to be taken (think product recalls), having an efficient system is often the difference between life or death when it comes to public health risks.

Expansive solutions

Sceptics argue that traceability simply requires an extensive data warehouse to be done correctly, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are standard data records to be managed, but the real value lies in how all these components are tied together.

ERP provides the digital glue to enable this. With each stakeholder audience requiring different aspects of traceability (and compliance), it is essential for the producer, distributor, and every other organisation in the supply chain, to manage this effectively in a standardised manner.

With so many different companies involved in the food cycle, many using their own, proprietary systems, just consider the complexity of trying to manage traceability. Organisations must not only contend with local challenges, but global ones as well as the import and export of food are big business drivers.

So, even though traceability is vital to keep track of everything in this complex cycle, it is also imperative to monitor the ingredients and factories where items are produced. Having expansive solutions that must track the entire process from ‘cradle to grave’ is an imperative. Not only is this vital from a safety perspective, but from cost and reputational management aspects as well. Just think of the recent listeriosis issue in South Africa and the impact it has had on all parties in that supply chain.

Efficiency improvements

Thanks to the increasing digital transformation efforts by companies in the food industry, traceability becomes a more effective process. It is no longer a case of using on-premise solutions that can be compromised but having hosted ones that provide more effective fail-safes.

In a market segment that requires strict compliance and regulatory requirements to be met, cloud-based solutions can provide everyone in the supply chain with a more secure (and tamper-resistant) solution than many of the legacy approaches of old.

This is not to say ERP requires the one or the other. Instead, there needs to be a transition provided between the two scenarios that empowers those in the food supply chain to maximise the insights (and benefits) derived from traceability.

Now, more than ever, traceability is a business priority. Having the correct foundation through effective ERP is essential if a business can manage its growth and meet legislative requirements into the future.

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