If you run a SME, you may think that data breaches and cybercrime are concerns mostly for big banks, retailers and telecoms companies. But you would be wrong, a data brach for an SME can damage a company for years to come, writes DARYL BLUNDELL, GM for Sage Pastel Accounting.
Not just for big firms
Even though headlines about data breaches and losses focus on big companies like Sony and Dropbox, small businesses are not immune. The UK’s Federation of Small Businesses found that 41% of SMEs in that country suffered from cybercrime last year. Though there’s a shortage of similar research for South Africa, our stats are likely to be in the same ballpark.
Small companies are, if anything, more vulnerable than larger counterparts because their defences tend to be weaker. They don’t have the IT specialists or budgets of larger companies, so their information security is often more basic. Yet their customer data or access to their online banking systems are nonetheless lucrative targets for today’s highly motivated cybercriminals.
SMEs are likely to become even more attractive as targets as a spate of recent high-profile data breaches prompt bigger companies to redouble their security efforts. Thus, small companies must take firm steps to protect their businesses, especially with laws such as POPI compelling them to safeguard the processing, usage and handling of sensitive customer information.
A technical and financial challenge
For many small companies, this sounds daunting as they do not have the technical expertise or the budget to build an effective on-site security and backup solution. This is where cloud computing can be hugely valuable, due to its ability to offer any organisation top-of-the-line protection.
Credible cloud providers’ offers strong security measures to give firms peace of mind. The companies that provide cloud solutions have bullet-proof security in place because they serve thousands of clients who trust them to keep their data safe. Thus, they are able to invest in the sort of high-end information infrastructure and processes that no SME can afford.
Get up and running with data backups
Another key advantage of cloud services is that if a business does encounter data loss or breaches, it will be able to access backups stored in the cloud to immediately get up and running again, minimising any disruption to services and ensuring downtime doesn’t cost the company money.
Of course, it’s also important to follow common-sense precautions to protect your information. Use anti-malware software on your computers. Ensure that access to your devices and online services are protected by strong passwords.
Encrypt any sensitive data you must store on a device’s hard drive or flash memory. And educate your end-users about the importance following these simple policies as well as the dangers that phishing, malware, and other security threats pose to your business.
You wouldn’t leave your business premises unlocked overnight so that thieves can walk in and help themselves to your assets. Don’t leave a virtual door open for them, either. After all, your online banking logins, customer data, and good reputation are some of the most valuable things that your small business owns.
Protect them with care.
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.
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.
Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry
Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time.
Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable.
We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks.
So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility?
Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly.
The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.
Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.