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Cybersecurity is everyone’s biz

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Now more than ever before, businesses need to offer exciting opportunities to boost employee productivity, creativity, and engagement, but they cannot be at the expense of security, writes BRENDAN MCARAVEY, Country Manager at Citrix South Africa.

The future of work very much revolves around the future of security. New ways of working offer exciting opportunities to boost employee productivity, creativity, and engagement, but they can’t come at the expense of security. The work force in today’s businesses is predominantly young, and according to a Citrix commissioned study carried out by Opinium in 2016, younger people aged 18 – 34 are more willing to store private data on their computers when compared to their older counterparts.

Led by this younger generation in the work space, the practices that are already shaping the future of work like —BYOD, unprecedented mobility, any-network access, employee-centric experiences, have the potential of increasing risk for data, applications and networks. The attack surface has never been so broad or so inviting—and threats have never been more sophisticated. At a time when data is both more valuable and more vulnerable than ever, how will we secure the future of work? As a guiding principle, we can’t rely on add-on security technologies and teams operating in siloes.

Security must be woven throughout both the IT architecture and the organisation to ensure that no matter how or where people work, the organisation is protected. At the same time, the measures we rely on can’t be allowed to impair the user’s experience or productivity. Today’s workforce won’t accept arbitrary restrictions or barriers; the same creative spirit that fuels innovation will also lead them to seek consumer-market workarounds.

The key is to make cybersecurity everyone’s business. When employees are fully bought in to security—when they understand its importance and relevance, and they’re empowered to support it without sacrificing their own work, your security team becomes truly organization-wide.

To that end, here are six security best practices for the future of work.

1.       Educate users: User education has been a tenet of cybersecurity since the early days. But that makes it all the more important to reinforce its importance, so that we never overlook it or take it for granted. As people gain the freedom to work anywhere, on any device, knowing how to do so safely must be a top priority. In the employee-centric modern workplace, it’s also important to consider how this education takes place. It’s not enough simply to recite lists of rules and protocols.

2.       Engage with lines of business: Security doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The most effective policies are grounded in a firm knowledge of operational processes. Regular meetings with business decision-makers helps employees understands the implications of new initiatives. It also helps get crucial perspective into the tools, workflows and practices that enable to drive value, helping design measures that maintain protection and control without getting in the way of business.

4.       Modernize and mobilize your security policies: Mobility increasingly defines IT—in terms of both the mobile devices people use, and the constant movement of people, devices and data from one place to another. Ensuring security policies reflect the real world—not some antiseptic, locked-down cybersecurity dream (and employee nightmare). Creating clear rules and guidelines to help employees stay safe without losing the freedom and flexibility they’ve come to rely on. Specify convenient yet secure alternatives to consumer-grade technologies.

5.       Enforce policies fairly and consistently: Inconsistent enforcement can doom even the best security policy—and can undermine the credibility of any subsequent policy. When security becomes part of the culture, the whole organisation becomes safer for the long term no matter what the future brings.

6.       Make it seamless—and automatic: The less you have to rely on human intervention, the more reliable security becomes. This can include everything from conditional access controls that show employees only the apps they’re authorised to use in a given scenario, to business data encryption by default on mobile devices. Open-in controls can prevent email attachments from opening in non-corporate apps. Micro-VPN can ensure security over public Wi-Fi. Automated logging and reporting can facilitate compliance and audit readiness.

There are many opportunities to make security more seamless and transparent for users, and simpler and more efficient for IT to maintain. As the scale and complexity of the enterprise environment continues to grow, steps like these will be critical to stay one step ahead. The future of work gets a lot of buzz these days, and rightly so—it gets more exciting by the day. With these best practices, you can make sure it’s also growing more secure by the day.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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