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Mobile employees the biggest threat to business?

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There is a global threat to the finance sector, and it’s not one that has to do with the stock market, bust cycles or a sudden drop of ten points. It is the Generation X employee who wants to use a personal device at work. MATTHEW BARKER at Aruba Networks offers some advice on how to eliminate any threats posed by these employees.

The finance sector is in agreement: there’s a major global threat to the success of the banking and finance industry, one that ignores boom and bust cycles, doesn’t care about stock market fluctuations and wouldn’t bat an eyelid if interest rates suddenly jumped ten points.

But this threat is also an essential and highly successful ingredient in the revival of the finance industry’s fortunes.

What is this unwitting, non-malicious threat? It’s your mobile-tech carrying employees themselves.

Which ones?

You’ve heard of Generation X (you might be one yourself), Generation Y (you probably employ a few of these) and Generation Z (the Internet’s digital natives); but there’s another category to add to the list: #GenMobile.

Brought up in a world where mobile devices are an integral part of everyday life, #GenMobile is defined by a productivity-focused attitude that finds it as easy to share a status update as it does a password or mobile device with a colleague. And this is why your #GenMobile workforce is both an asset and a threat to your business.

To identify the true nature of this new type of employee, Aruba Networks surveyed 11,500 workers in 23 countries, asking them detailed questions about their work, their approach to data and their take on corporate and personal security in a technological landscape dominated by mobile devices.

Who are they?

#GenMobile are generally young (18-35), highly effective and mostly indifferent to computer security. Given the finance sector’s risk-averse take on data security, you’d be forgiven for dismissing the idea of a ‘threat’ from your own highly trained staff. But with an alarming four out of every ten finance organisations admitting to having lost data through the misuse of a mobile device (25% higher than other industries), you might want to read on.

Ok, so what are they doing?

#GenMobile, as the name suggests, are 100% comfortable with mobility, flexible working and using multiple mobile devices to get the job done. #GenMobile will stop at nothing to get their work tasks completed, and 51% say that mobile technologies enable them to be more productive and engaged at work.

This fervent need to get things done means 57% of South African #GenMobile’rs will disobey their managers to get complete a task — while more than three-quarters are happy to take IT issues into their own hands without getting in touch with their IT department.

Sharing is also a risk factor, as 32% of South African respondents reported being happy to let others use their work mobile devices at least once a month, while just under a fifth don’t have passwords on their mobile devices at all, in part to make sharing easier. You won’t be surprised that security only limps into the top five of office tech concerns for #GenMobile.

Five tips to turn a threat into a safe bet

So what do you do? Lockdown all mobile devices? Implement a highly restrictive password policy? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet — this new generation is already contributing to the overall health of the finance sector. They bring big-thinking creativity, better collaboration and new ways of doing things; priceless in an era when consumer behaviour is changing at an incredible speed. Yet the impact of a security breach is both seismic and often irreparable.

Here’s five ways to make sure your organisation is prepared for #GenMobile:

1)      Over a third of businesses don’t have a basic mobile security policy in place. Make sure you have a policy covering roles, devices, locations and other contextual attributes.

2)      Create enforcement rules that extend from applications to devices to the network.

3)      Make sure your security measures and policies map back to your organisation’s business objectives.

4)      Training is vital: all staff should have needs-assessed training to help them understand why policies are in place and how they can help.

5)      Take heed of feedback — it may improve your IT workflows and performance.

* Matthew Barker, regional manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Aruba Networks

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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