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Kaspersky moves to build transparency in security

A day after the Paris Call for trust in cyberspace, Kaspersky Lab unveiled its first Transparency Centre in Zurich

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In a further move to allay fears in the West of possible security compromises due to its Russian origin, Kaspersky Lab has announced that malicious and suspicious files shared by users of Kaspersky Lab products in Europe will start to be processed in data centers in Zurich.

This initiates the first part of a relocation commitment made by the company in late 2017 under its Global Transparency Initiative. Kaspersky Lab says the move symbolises its determination to assure the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. It is accompanied by the opening of the company’s first Transparency Center, also in Zurich.

 The relocation of data processing is part of a major infrastructure move designed to increase the resilience of the company’s IT infrastructure to risks of data breaches and supply-chain attacks, and to further prove the trustworthiness of its products, services and internal processes.

The move comes a day after the Paris Call for trust and security in cyberspace unveiled at the Paris Peace Forum on November 12 by President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The Paris Call lays out several important principles and guidelines for international cybersecurity. In particular, it recognises the responsibilities of key private sector actors in improving trust, security and stability in cyberspace, and encourages initiatives aimed at strengthening the security of digital processes and products across the supply chain. It also promotes broad digital cooperation and a multi-stakeholder approach to build confidence, capacity and trust.

Kaspersky Lab says the call coincides with its own championing of international cooperation on cyber issues and the need to counter the risk of balkanisation.

The company said in a statement: “Online crime is borderless; and so must be the world’s response. We cannot fight back if we are isolated and fragmented. Shared intelligence and public-private partnerships, for instance through cooperation between national police forces and cybersecurity companies, are necessary to ensure stronger protection for all.

“The solution is also to become more transparent and to give stakeholders proof that they can trust cybersecurity. We have started already through our Global Transparency Initiative (GTI), a programme designed to build trust, accountability, assurance and resilience. Within the GTI framework, we are relocating some of our infrastructure to Switzerland – starting from November 13, 2018, when we begin to process suspicious and malicious files shared by users in Europe, in Zurich, and open the doors of our first Transparency Center in the city. More data and processes, and more regions, will follow.”

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, said today: “I’m very glad to see the wheels are turning to international cyberspace cooperation. The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace announced by the French authorities is a very positive shift given the atmosphere of growing mistrust that the cybersecurity industry is experiencing now. This Call recognises the responsibilities of leaders of the private sector in improving trust, security and stability in cyberspace.

“That’s exactly what our efforts have been focused on lately in many of our company’s initiatives – to become more transparent, to prove our trustworthiness, and, as we love to do, become pioneers of a new industry standard. We’ll undoubtedly continue to push for cooperation in the industry and open doors in cyberspace, and it’s great to feel supported in this mission!”

From November 13, threat-related data coming from European users will start to be processed in two datacenters. These provide world-class facilities in compliance with industry standards to ensure the highest levels of security.

The data, which users have actively chosen to share with Kaspersky Lab, includes suspicious or previously unknown malicious files and corresponding meta-data that the company’s products send to Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) for automated malware analysis.

Files comprise only part of the data processed by Kaspersky Lab technologies, yet the most important one. The relocation of other types of data processed by Kaspersky Lab products, consisting of several kinds of anonymised threat and usage statistics, is planned to be conducted during later phases of the Global Transparency Initiative.

Today also marks the opening of Kaspersky Lab’s first Transparency Center in Zurich, enabling authorised partners to access reviews of the company’s code, software updates and threat detection rules, along with other activities. Through the Transparency Center, Kaspersky Lab will provide governments and partners with information on its products and their security, including essential and important technical documentation, for external evaluation in a secure environment. These two major developments will be followed by the relocation of data processing for other regions and, in phase two, the move to Zurich of software assembly.

According to independent rankings, Switzerland is among the world’s top locations in terms of the number of secure internet servers available, and it has an international reputation as an innovative center for data processing and high quality IT infrastructure. Being in the heart of Europe and, at the same time, a non-EU member, it has established its own data privacy regulation that is guaranteed by the state’s constitution and federal laws. In addition, there are strict regulations on processing data requests received from authorities.

“Transparency is becoming the new normal for the IT industry– and for the cybersecurity industry in particular,” said the CEO. “We are proud to be on the front line of this process. As a technological company, we are focused on ensuring the best IT infrastructure for the security of our products and data, and the relocation of key parts of our infrastructure to Switzerland places them in one of the most secure locations in the world.”

Liv Minder, Investment Promotion Director at Switzerland Global Enterprise, said: “The settlement of Kaspersky’s Transparency Center in Switzerland underlines that our country has become a global centre for innovation and technology with a strong cyber security cluster, offering advanced and secure digital infrastructure within a strong framework of security and privacy that attracts ever more technology leaders.”

Cars

“Hello BMW” – Now we’re talking

BMW brings impressive safety features and a built-in voice assistant to its 4th generation X5, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Marking 20 years since its release, the BMW X5 has been given a substantial redesign for its fourth generation. A major revamp of aesthetics and functionality affirms this luxury Sports Activity Vehicle’s (SAV) position in the market.

New safety features not only make it safer but also more comfortable to drive. The redesigned headlights utilise laser lighting, which eliminates glare on reflective objects like signboards in dark driving conditions. The laser lighting technology also extends the distance of bright lighting to about 500 meters, 200 meters further than the previous generation.

The Driving Assist Professional package, an option for the SAV, comprises a steering and lane control assistant as well as a lane keeping assistant. These assistants work closely with a smart collision evasion system, which helps avoid collisions with vehicles or pedestrians suddenly appearing in the driver’s path. As soon as an evasive manoeuvre is detected, the system assists the driver with steering inputs to direct the vehicle into a clear, adjacent lane.

BMW Operating System 7.0, the latest version of the car’s software, focuses on customisability. This means that more aspects of the vehicle can be set up in a way that is most comfortable for the driver. For example, the 12.3” infotainment panel features a home screen which uses a three-tile layout, where one can have one large tile and two smaller tiles. These tiles can be swapped around and configured to the point where drivers no longer have to search through menus to get what they would need, as their favourites sit on a customised home screen.

The X5 gets a voice assistant with the BMW Assistant Professional. “Hello BMW” will wake the onboard voice assistant for voice commands. These voice commands could be anything from “Play rock music” to “Is my tyre pressure okay?”. Renaming the voice assistant’s wake prompt is also possible if the driver has named their car something other than BMW.

Keeping in line with the latest technology, the X5 features options for a wireless charging tray in the front and two additional USB Type-C ports. Other features include an adaptive navigation system, a hard-drive-based multimedia system with 20 GB of memory, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity.

BMW’s attention to minor details goes a long way with massage seats and thermo-cupholders. Electrically adjustable and heated sports seats are fitted standard. Additional options include seat massage functionality and ventilated seats. The thermo-cupholder option allows a driver to keep a beverage heated or cooled during a drive.

Unlocking the X5 with a smartphone will soon be a reality with a planned update to the BMW Connected Drive app, in the second quarter of 2019. BMW Digital Key brings functionality to lock and unlock the car with a smartphone’s NFC chip, which eliminates the need for a traditional car key. The driver will simply hold the smartphone to the door’s handle and the car will unlock. Once the driver is inside, the smartphone can be placed on the built-in wireless charging tray, and the NFC chip will register again to verify the driver. From there, the engine can be started.

Overall, exciting technology features come with the new X5 and even more impressive features will come with software updates in 2019.

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ERP needs asset management

A single, integrated EAM and ERP solution can power an asset-intensive business into the future, says MOHAMED CASSOOJEE, MD and Country Manager, IFS South Africa and Africa.

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Most Enterprise Resource Planning software originated in the manufacturing sector as materials resource planning (MRP) solutions for organisations that needed to manage a lot of inventory. From there, they were rapidly developed into solutions for every industry imaginable.

But these roots mean that most standalone ERP software isn’t quite enough on its own to address the needs of organisations in asset-intensive industries such as metal foundries, mining, oil and gas, pulp and paper, energy and utilities, and construction and engineering.

Companies in these sectors are not managing inventory as much as they are managing the capacity of a fixed asset over its lifecycle as well as handling large-scale infrastructure projects with long planning cycles. This is where enterprise asset management (EAM) comes into play, offering capabilities that are not found in typical ERP systems.

EAM systems are built to help organisations manage assets such as plants, heavy machinery, pipelines and industrial-class vehicles. These solutions enable organisations to track the location and status of assets and asset objects in real time, schedule work orders to maintain and fix the assets, and manage the storage of spare parts required to service them.

As Africa’s governments, state-owned enterprises and private sector step up infrastructure investment, EAM has a vital role to play in ensuring that organisations drive the highest possible value from their new assets, whether these are telecoms networks, railway systems, ports or power plants.

According to the World Bank, Africa needs to spend around $93 billion a year over the next decade to address its infrastructure backlogs — about one-third of that cost is for maintenance. In 2008, World Bank found that about 30% of the infrastructure assets of a typical African country needed rehabilitation.

These numbers point to the urgent need for organisations across the continent to take a more proactive and preventative outlook towards maintenance of their key infrastructure and assets. Implementation of EAM can enable organisations to better track, manage and maintain assets to prolong their lifespan and enhance return on investment.

From asset planning to construction to operation to decommissioning and replacement, EAM allows organisations to maintain, manage and optimise assets over the entire asset lifecycle. By helping companies to increase asset productivity and availability – while reducing total cost of ownership – EAM can have a direct impact on profitability and financial sustainability.

Good EAM solutions can also be paired with corporate performance management and analytics tools to let organisations analyse operation disruptions and determine and address the causes, such as maintenance issues, inadequate training, or design faults.

Technological advances, along with the associated price drop for smart products being developed for the Internet of Things (IoT), now make it possible to monitor almost any asset in real-time from nearly any location across the globe. This further boosts the power and usefulness of an EAM solution. It is imperative that the EAM solutions that are implemented are built on robust, newer technologies that can easily support IOT, AI and smart bots.

EAM and ERP: a critical partnership

To sum up, ERP manages business operations, while the EAM system manages all the monitoring and operations of the asset. That means for most companies it isn’t an either-or choice because they need both EAM and ERP to drive optimal business performance.

Some organisations opt for so-called ‘best of breed’ EAM and ERP solutions from different providers. Yet integration can be a headache. The challenges include master data synchronisation and transaction integration. The company may also need to consider whether the ERP or EAM system is the better fit for a particular transaction or asset type.

However, for most organisations in asset-intensive industries, the ideal solution is an ERP system with extensive EAM capabilities: a system built from the ground up to manage not only basic business functions but also assets and their maintenance. Such a solution provides one complete solution spanning key processes and data.

This approach enables the organisation to truly manage and maximise value over asset lifecycles. It also empowers the enterprise to organise operations around the assets and individual asset objects it uses to create value for stakeholders, customers and the community.

For most asset-intensive companies, delivering EAM capabilities as part and parcel of an integrated ERP solution, simplifies their business systems landscape, giving them a single source of truth. The same arguments apply to project management and workforce management systems.

Organisations seeking to transform their business by standardising processes and leveraging reliable, real-time data will benefit from an ERP system with all of these capabilities, setting them up to adopt IoT, artificial intelligence, or whatever other new technologies are coming up next.

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