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POPI is the new Y2K

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As the POPI Act compliance date draws closer many are panicking about compliance and fines. Fines aside, this presents an opportunity for businesses to take a look at their security portfolios, and underline the steps needed to become compliant, writes PIETER ENGELBRECHT of Aruba.

We have all spent countless hours attempting to become experts on the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act and, if you conduct business in Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you’re anything like me, you still feel a long way from fully understanding the implications of these legislations. Unfortunately, clear or not, the urgency is real.

When I read the warnings that fill our media, and the scramble for information, I’m reminded of the Y2K bug. Just like 1999, we are getting close to a full-scale panic about compliance, fines and the potential loss of business if we don’t make some pretty big changes.

While the eyes of every business are on your IT systems, there is a huge opportunity that you can take advantage of. POPI and GDPR are not just about privacy or incredible fines. They present an opportunity to take a holistic look at your security portfolio, and underline the necessary steps you need to take to become compliant.

Security is a business problem, not an IT problem, and with the support of business leaders, you can build on POPI and GDPR to create an end-to-end strategy for your IT systems. It’s an opportunity to gain much greater visibility of your network, and preparing you for any future changes or possible attacks that may occur.

Getting ahead of growing networks through automation

In the event of a security attack, particularly if malware is involved, IT systems have to be taken offline. This can cost a company millions in lost revenue, and longer lasting damage to its reputation.

The potential sources for security breaches are huge, and that, to me, is the biggest catalyst for action. Every business is becoming more reliant on connected things, from old operational technology (like energy sensors) to GPS, to the latest connected lighting or locking systems. Your network is an enormous web of endpoints, from the core out to the millions of user devices at the edge, and customer data can travel through any one of them.

Without looking at this entire landscape, and applying some more rigorous security policies, the loss of customer data in the future is almost inevitable.

When I speak to CIOs, I hear a lot about the need to audit the entire network to understand every place that customer data can touch. This is key to POPI and GDPR compliance of course, but if we stop there, we only tackle half the issue.

To achieve real end-to-end security, CIOs should work towards:

1.       Segmenting the network so that each individual user and device can be reviewed separately

2.       Automating the network configuration using machine learning

Using this combination, we will see machines become wise to individual devices and user behaviours, meaning they will act when a new behaviour is recognised. The subsequent actions could be network re-authentication, quarantining or blacklisting the user or device. All without the intervention of IT staff.

As the network continues to grow exponentially, IT systems are running to keep up. POPI and GDPR are just the beginning of a bigger security concern that is never going to go away. To effectively manage endpoint security, end users and user devices in a secure and sustainable way, we can no longer view the network as piecemeal. The network of the future will represent a single ecosystem, with the ability to create unique policies at any time, in any location. It’s our best chance to get ahead of what’s coming.

* Pieter Engelbrecht, Business Unit Manager for HPE Aruba

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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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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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