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CFOs must be security-savvy

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Most CFO’s are not directly involved in IT or security in IT, except possibly when reacting to an incident like a security breach. However, PERRY HUTTON of Fortinet believes that CFOs need to become more hands on when setting out IT budgets and motivating them.

Recessions may eat into enterprise budgets as a whole, but information security stands alone in enjoying increased budget allocation, thanks to CFOs who see the returns inherent in mitigating risk, says security specialist Fortinet.

Perry Hutton, Regional Vice President – Africa at Fortinet, says CFOs in South Africa’s largest enterprises typically don’t get involved in IT spend, beyond approving the CIO’s budget. “We don’t usually meet with CFOs, particularly in the large enterprises. Our top 120 to 140 enterprise customers are well structured, with very knowledgeable CIOs or CISOs in place who manage the information security spend, supporting their budgets with clearly laid-out business benefits and returns. Their CFOs are typically tech-savvy and – more importantly – aware of the potential costs of security breaches, and support spend on IT security. However, they seldom get directly involved. Possibly the only time large enterprise CFOs would get directly involved in information security budgets is when they are being reactive to an incident.”

In the mid-market sector, which may not have specialised CISOs in place, CFOs are more likely to become involved in the information security budget discussion, says Hutton. “Fortunately for us, security tends to be treated separately from infrastructure and other components of IT. Even when organisations are cutting their budgets, you don’t find too many cutting their IT security budget. If anything, finance is allocating a larger percentage of the IT budget to security, because the world is becoming more dangerous and they have to throw more cash at mitigating risk,” he says. “Of course, the money has to come from somewhere, so invariably it comes from somewhere else in IT like stretching storage. For us, it’s a good position to be in. Back when the global recession struck in 2008, we didn’t suffer as badly as other players in the IT space, because the threat landscape didn’t go into recession, and long may this situation last.”

Because Fortinet plays in a space where the benefits to business are well understood, it seldom has to assist CIOs in motivating for budget, Hutton says. However, in cases where the CIO or IT manager must motivate for budget from the CFO, Fortinet is able to supply extensive threat reports, in depth research and risk analysis to highlight the benefits to business of making the investment. “We’ve also just launched our Cyber Threat Assessment Program (CTAP) in South Africa, in which we will perform a real time threat assessment for prospective customers; with analysis by our FortiGuard Labs. After our recent launch in East Africa, we had requests for a few assessments in the region.” The requests typically came from CISOs and CIOs, but Hutton expects the CTAP results to help IT build its case for budget with the CFO.

“There are typically two schools of CFO – the old school CFO, who is usually in place in larger enterprises where the IT budget is managed by an experienced CIO and CISO. Then you find the New School CFOs, typically younger, who are typically in the small to mid-sized enterprises. These CFOs are well educated and well versed in technology and the need for IT security. We might spend some time with them, explaining the changing threats and pointing out how IoT has exploded and perimeters have become infinite, increasing their risk profile. The CFO of today is usually well aware of the benefits of IT security, they understand that there is growing risk and they have to invest in mitigating it.”

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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