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Time to flip the security switch

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The constant worry of virus outbreaks, malware and cyber espionage are often overlooked by business mangers, despite their CIO’s warning’s. KIBBY, REGIONAL Director at VMware Sub-Saharan Africa, believes the time is now for management to take heed of the malicious software out there and pay more attention to security.

The shuffling feet and the groaning voices echoing in the virtual dark of the organisation are not the zombie apocalypse. No, the moaning shouts of pain are the soundtrack of the cyber security conundrum. Where business leaders remain in the dark, scratching for insight into the real issues behind the security warnings and IT decision makers wave wildly on the other side of the room, desperately trying to get someone’s attention. In spite of consistently worrying outbreaks, statistics and attacks, cyber security remains plagued by a lack of understanding, limited internal resources, poor planning in the event of a breach and no cross-silo communication.

A recent survey by VMware found that organisations are under increased risk of serious cyber-attack with almost one fifth of IT decision makers (ITDM) in South Africa expecting to be hit within the next few days and 49% believing their organisation is vulnerable to an attack. These are scary figures made even scarier by the fact that 52% of respondents felt there wasn’t a plan in place to address a security breach, and that only a small number of people within the business even knew such a plan existed.  In fact, the research found that 43% of organisations which have a plan in place only have a few people aware of its existence and 10% either don’t have a plan or don’t know of one.

Added to this, there is a perception among IT decision makers that their board or C-Suite does not pay the right amount of attention to cyber-security and the issues which surround it. There is a reason – senior management doesn’t know how much of an issue it really is.

While IT experts can assess the threats and challenges without breaking a proverbial sweat, they need to communicate these more clearly. IT has to sit down and explain security birds and bees to the C-Suite so that all parties can come together to ensure there is planning and prioritisation around cyber security. It is a topic which must become a standard feature of the boardroom agenda and the IT decision maker is responsible for putting it there.

The survey found that many ITDMs were as guilty of not prioritising the cyber security story as the C-Suite thanks to limited budgets and allocation being pulled back across a number of silos. This included 23% cutting on mobile security, 18% reducing spend on threat monitoring and 24% dropping the budget on encryption investment. In light of the current economic conditions and a market that redefines the concept of mercurial, flat budgets are expected, but security has to remain a priority as the cost impact of a breach can be astronomical.

Budget constraints aside, security breaches are already significantly outpacing the amount spent on security. Ad hoc approaches to solutions are no longer capable or prepared enough to cope with the cyber onslaught. The statistics bandied about in media and research papers are all telling the same tale – cybercrime is rising, it is more organised, it is more targeted and nobody is sacrosanct. Every organisation, from the small business to the enterprise to the mega-conglomerate, is vulnerable to an attack.

The ITDM has to turn on the lights so the C-Suite can see what they’re up against and provide them with the right levels of support. Protecting critical assets and company reputation must remain a discussion point for both business and IT leaders and plans have to be put in place to ensure the organisation, from the top down, is aware of what needs to be done in the event of a breach.

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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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