Enterprise security isn’t allowed time off. It doesn’t shut down at 6pm and go home. It has to stay active and ready every moment of every day, writes MATTHEW KIBBY, Regional Director at VMware Sub-Saharan Africa.
Security has evolved into an almost living entity which has to adapt to new circumstances and challenges on an ongoing basis. It is also one of the least understood and often most ignored part of the business with many employees finding the rules and regulations tedious and annoying, things to be dodged and avoided rather than understood and adhered to. These attitudes to security have to change, especially as the threats continue to loom large on the enterprise horizon.
Organisations are, quite simply, becoming more and more vulnerable. Expansion into digital territory, commonplace cloud solutions and employees traversing globe and country with digital devices – all these factors impact security and its validity. So does the fact that most of the technology and mechanisms used by cyber-criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and most IT decision makers (ITDMs) don’t think they can keep up. In fact, most are concerned that the threats are moving faster than the defences.
Recent research undertaken by VMware and World Wide Worx with local IT Decision Makers, found that 30% of IT leadership anticipates a major attack on their firm within the next 90 days, a more worrying 16% expect one in the next few days. These statistics are compounded by the fact that 49% of South African IT decision makers (ITDMs) believe their organisation is vulnerable to a cyber-attack.
It’s not surprising to see why – for the research also showed that 8% of organisations won’t detect a cyber-attack unless 24 hours have gone by, 2% won’t realise one has happened at all, and 23% will take around an hour. In just that short period of time, information is gone and systems are compromised. And reputations may lie in expensive tatters.
The challenges around security are not only driven by digital business complexities and a growing mobile workforce – there is a dearth of robust security protocols which are known and adhered to by everyone. There needs to be more awareness around what security solutions are in place and what needs to be done across the organisation in an event of a breach. The survey found that 43% of South African enterprises had a plan in place, but that only part of the company was aware of it. Only 40% said the entire business knew of the plan and a nervous 10% either didn’t have a plan or didn’t know one existed.
While the 40% may well be ready and waiting for the daring cybercriminal to launch an attack, the rest are not. This is compounded by further research which revealed that one-fifth of employees are willing to breach security and those who are untrained or careless are the biggest threat. It is time for the business to drive compliance across the organisation and to ensure that the rules and regulations around security are clear, concise and accessible.
It is essential that the business develops strategic initiatives to combat threats to security, both internally and externally, and shows employees why these are of value. Take that dusty tome out of the drawer, get it up to date and get everyone on board. Even that guy in the C-Suite who thinks the rules don’t apply to him. They do.
Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh
In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.
When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.
This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy.
“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.
“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”
Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.
“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.
“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”
Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.
“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.
“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”
Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.
Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”
Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream
If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd
As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?
In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!
Nation-State Hacking & You
It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.
With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.
Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.
Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.
Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.”
When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.”
Ignorance is not bliss
Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.
Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!