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How AI secures enterprises

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By CHARLES BARRATT, principal business solutions architect for EMEA EUC Strategic Accounts at VMware

Despite the hype that exists around it, we have to remember that in its current format, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is actually quite limited with what it can offer. Why? Because AI and Machine Learning (ML) are based on data – it doesn’t have opinions of its own. When I talk to Alexa, I can ask it what the weather will be tomorrow, the bookies favourite for the next Bond actor or how long to roast a chicken for, and it will be able to give you a fairly accurate answer. Yet when, after the 1000th time that week of hearing it, I ask why the song Baby Shark went viral, I’m faced with silence.

But whilst you can have a lot of fun testing the ability of your Alexa or other AI technology, there are some practical applications of AI that can transform the workplace.

As a society, we are starting to interchange the terms Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML) without fully understanding what the nuances are between them. AI can be described as intelligent machines that mirror a human’s approach to solving challenges. An extension of this, is machine learning which is the act of leveraging vast amounts of data to automate a response.

These concepts are not new, but have been made possible through:

  • Huge amounts of data being generated by systems
  • Internet scale and reach
  • Better computing resources

We know that automated processes can help with productivity and empower the workforce to express their creativity. However, companies are struggling to find a balance between employee experience and maintaining the sufficient levels of security required within the enterprise. Two crucial attributes that can help with this are insights and intelligence. So how can businesses harness the power of AI to help build these qualities?

What security challenges do we face?

As we advance as a society, so do the tools we use. AI should be seen as simply another weapon businesses can use to help them succeed, rather than something that should be feared. And this applies to security. CEOs who are now responsible for digital security, are heavily reliant on the IT function to deliver this. If a business doesn’t know where a device is being logged into, by which employee and which applications they’re accessing – how can they ensure that their enterprise is secure? Visibility is a core part of a security approach, because the traditional perimeter methods are obsolete and more sophisticated attacks are inevitable.  It doesn’t come as any surprise that two areas of significant interest are UEBA (User Entity Behaviour Analytics) to deliver a context based access to users and SOAR (Security Orchestration and Automation Response) to ensure that attacks are remediated swiftly with minimal manual process.

Mobile devices have become a great source of cyber security breaches and there’s a lot of technology available to help mitigate these threats. Whilst this might seem like a positive, the result is an extremely complex environment, with multiple security systems that aren’t integrated, and information remains insecure. These clouds of information have become siloed; split into the different business functions – HR, IT, marketing, sales etc. IT will historically focus on devices and the data associated with them, and the other business units will focus on their relevant applications and data.

Businesses need a way to view the entire digital workspace across all endpoints, apps, networks and user experience, to enable them to pin point what is and isn’t working in the environment and adopt a zero trust approach to security.

Click here to read about why one needs AI, and how business benefits.

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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