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How to secure your cloud

Cloud adoption in key African markets has grown phenomenally over the past five years. According to a recent study by World Wide Worx, it is pervasive in the key African markets of South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, with between 95 and 100 percent of medium and large companies using the cloud. Eighty percent or more of companies in these countries will increase their spend on cloud computing into 2019.

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As a result, growing amounts of sensitive customer (and company) data is stored on the cloud, and there is evidence to suggest that many organisations are still struggling to secure their clouds. Six months into 2018, some spectacular breaches had occurred, with the most significant being the personal information of all 1.1 billion citizens registered in India. Locally, the most significant case has probably been the breach at Liberty Holdings in January. Such breaches are increasingly common.

A complicating factor is that businesses often operate across more than one cloud, such as AWS and Azure, each having differing security protocols to grapple with.

Worse, many appear to be reluctant to even address the issue at hand. The 2018 Global Cloud Data Security Study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of Gemalto, shows that a third of respondents (34 percent) believe that it’s the customer’s responsibility to secure their data in the cloud, whereas two thirds (62 percent) of customers actually hold businesses responsible. With less than half (46 percent) of businesses clearly defining roles and accountability for securing confidential or sensitive information in the cloud, it’s clear many are struggling to get their houses in order.

Taking responsibility for cloud security

In a growing number of countries, the legal responsibility for safeguarding customer data, no matter where it is housed, is unambiguously allocated to the company or organisation. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa are just two examples of this growing international trend. Organisations, and ultimately their boards, found to be taking insufficient steps to secure the data will be subject to fines and legal repercussions.

So, what can organisations do to avoid falling foul of both regulators and customers?

The key ingredient is leadership. While cloud services themselves are generally secure, the task of configuring and using them securely is often left to organisation’s IT leaders, development teams, or even business line managers. However, confusion surrounding who should implement cloud security has created challenges. Organisations must now take full ownership of the security within their clouds. A figure, such as a CISO, must be appointed to the board of a business to educate other C-level executives on the importance of data security and take responsibility for the data in the event of a breach. This ensures the business has buy-in from the board, can communicate a cloud security strategy widely, and educate staff about good cyber hygiene, thus minimising internal risks.

Once a central figure has been appointed to the board, he or she must set about ensuring that the cloud is protected. Below are five steps to help with this.

Five steps to cloud security

  1. Understand where the data is

Before implementing any cybersecurity strategy, businesses must first conduct a data audit. This helps them understand what data they have collected or produced and where the most sensitive and valuable parts sit. If businesses don’t know what data they possess and produce, they can’t even begin to start protecting it.

2.    All sensitive data must be encrypted

While it’s crucial that businesses restrict who can access sensitive data, it’s encryption that protects data in the event of a breach. Regardless of where data is – on their own servers, in a public cloud, or a hybrid environment – encryption must always be used to protect it.

3.    Securely store keys

When data is encrypted, an encryption key is created to unlock and access encrypted data. Consequently, businesses must ensure that these keys are securely stored away from the cloud. Storing a physical key offsite helps ensure it can’t be linked to any encrypted data in the cloud.

4.    Introduce two-factor authentication 

Next, businesses should adopt strong two-factor authentication, to ensure only authorised employees have access to the data they need to use. Two-factor authentication involves using something authorised individuals possesses, such as a smartphone that can receive a message, and something they know, like a password. This is more secure than relying on passwords alone, which can be easily hacked.

  1. Always install latest patches

As bugs and vulnerabilities emerge, hardware and software vendors constantly issue patches. However, many businesses don’t install patches quickly enough or use software which no longer receives regular patches. Figures from Net Applications show that one in 10 organisations still use Windows XP, despite patches being discontinued. It is imperative that businesses install patches as they become available, to avoid becoming easy targets for hackers.

  1. Evaluate and repeat

Once a business has implemented the above steps, it’s crucial that each step is repeated for all new data that enters its system. Cybersecurity and legal compliance are a continuing process, not an event. These steps will ultimately help make businesses unattractive or unviable targets for attackers as even in the event of a breach they won’t be able to use, steal or hold their data for ransom.

With businesses now footing the bill, reputationally and financially, for any data breach, it’s never been more important for them to take full ownership of the data they hold.

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PC sales crash as virus hits

COVID-19 is now an integral element of forecasting of computer sales, as the impact of coronavirus begins to be felt in the supply chain

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Overall shipments of personal computing devices (PCD) will decline 9% in 2020, reaching 374.2-million by the end of this year, as a result of the impact of coronavirus, or COVID-19, on manufacturing, logistics and sales.

According to new projections from the Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker,  International Data Corporation (IDC) has lowered its forecast for PCDs, inclusive of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets. 

The long-term forecast still remains slightly positive, with global shipments forecast to grow to 377.2-million in 2024, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.2%. However, this is based on an IDC assumption that the spread of the virus will recede in 2020. Since the figure represents only marginal growth, the ongoing impact of the virus could quickly reduce long-term forecasts into negative expectations. IDC did not provide alternative scenarios should this occur.

The decline in 2020 is attributed to two significant factors; the Windows 7 to Windows 10 transition creates tougher year-over-year growth comparisons from here on out and, more recently, the spread of COVID-19 is hampering supply and leading to reduced demand. As a result, IDC forecasts a decline of 8.2% in shipments during the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20), followed by a decline of 12.7% in 2Q20 as the existing inventory of components and finished goods from the first quarter will have been depleted by the second quarter. In the second half of the year, growth rates are expected to improve, though the market will remain in decline.

“We have already forgone nearly a month of production given the two-week extension to the Lunar New Year break and we expect the road to recovery for China’s supply chain to be long with a slow trickle of labour back to factories in impacted provinces until May when the weather improves,” said Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices & Displays. “Many critical components such as panels, touch sensors, and printed circuit boards come out of these impacted regions, which will cause a supply crunch heading into Q2.”

“There’s no doubt that 2020 will remain challenged as manufacturing levels are at an all-time low and even the products that are ready to ship face issues with logistics,” added Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “Lost wages associated with factory shutdowns and the overall reduction in quality of life will further the decline in the second half of the year as demand will be negatively impacted.”

Assuming the spread of the virus subsides in 2020, IDC anticipates minor growth in 2021 as the market returns to normal with growth stemming from modern form factors such as thin and light notebooks, detachable tablets, and convertible laptops. Many commercial organizations are expected to refresh their devices and move towards these modern form factors in an effort to attract and retain a younger workforce. Meanwhile, consumer demand in gaming, as well as the rise in cellular-enabled PCs and tablets, will also help provide a marginal uplift.

Worldwide Topline Personal Computing Device Forecast Changes, Year-Over-Year Growth %, 2020-2021 (Annual)

Product Category Forecast Version 2020
Shipments (M)
2020 Year-Over-
Year Growth
2021
Shipments (M)
2021 Year-Over-
Year Growth
2021 Year-Over-
Year Growth
Total Traditional PCs 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 248.0 -7.1% 251.2 1.3% 1.3%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 252.4 -4.6% 248.3 -1.6% -1.6%
Total Tablets 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 126.2 -12.4% 125.4 -0.6% -0.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 127.8 -10.8% 125.2 -2.0% -2.0%
Total Personal Computing Devices 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 374.2 -9.0% 376.6 0.6% 0.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 380.2 -6.8% 373.5 -1.8% -1.8%

Worldwide Topline Personal Computing Device Forecast Changes, Year-Over-Year Growth %, 2020 (Quarterly)

Product Category Forecast Version 1Q20 2Q20 3Q20 4Q20
Total Traditional PCs 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 -6.4% -10.3% -6.4% -5.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 -2.0% -6.8% -5.7% -3.5%
Total Tablets 4Q19 – Feb. 2020 -11.8% -17.5% -15.0% -6.6%

3Q19 – Nov. 2019 -8.1% -10.7% -16.3% -7.8%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, February 19, 2020

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The chip that will drive the 5G smartphone era

No less than 15 manufacturers have announced they will use Qualcomm’s new mobile platform to power the first wave of 2020 5G smartphones

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Qualcomm Technologies has announced that 15 global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and brands have selected the Snapdragon 865 5G Mobile Platform for their 5G device launches this year. The OEMs are ASUS, Black Shark, Fujitsu, iQOO, Lenovo, Nubia, OPPO, realme, Redmi, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, vivo, Xiaomi and ZTE.

The company made the announcement at a media event in San Diego this week under the banner, “What’s Next in 5G”.

Qualcomm described the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform as “the world’s most advanced mobile platform, designed to deliver the unmatched connectivity and performance required for the next wave of flagship devices”. It features the company’s second-generation 5G Modem-RF System, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55, while redefining Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth audio with the Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 mobile connectivity subsystem. The  865 enables premium devices with breakthrough features, from Gigapixel-speed photography and Elite Gaming with desktop-level features, to intelligent and intuitive experiences due to the 5th generation Qualcomm AI Engine.

“As the world’s leading wireless technology innovator, we are committed to driving and scaling 5G to the consumer,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile at Qualcomm Technologies. “This year, the Snapdragon 865 will help make 5G accessible to billions of smartphone users around the world, further enabling immersive mobile experiences like high-speed gaming, intelligent multi-camera capture and all-day battery life.”

Qualcomm says that, after introducing the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform in December 2019, more than 70 designs have been announced or are in development based on the platform. Additionally, more than 1,750 designs have been announced or are in development based on the Snapdragon 8-series mobile platforms. Smartphones announced or coming soon based on the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, include:

  • Black Shark 3*
  • FCNT arrows 5G*
  • iQOO 3*
  • Legion Gaming Phone*
  • Nubia Red Magic 5G*
  • OPPO Find X2*
  • realme X50 Pro*
  • Redmi K30 Pro*
  • ROG Phone 3*
  • Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra
  • Sharp AQUOS R5G*
  • Sony Xperia 1 II*
  • vivo APEX 2020 Concept Phone*
  • Xiaomi Mi 10* and Mi 10 Pro*
  • ZenFone 7*
  • ZTE Axon 10s Pro*

*Features Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 mobile connectivity subsystem

For more information, visit the Snapdragon 865 5G Mobile Platform Product Page.

Read more about new 5G technologies unveiled by Qualcomm this week.

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