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Prediction beats prevention

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It is a human tendency to romanticise the past, to think what existed yesterday was bigger and better. There are examples where this is true, but the same cannot be said for technology and, in particular, security, says HEIN KERN regional sales manager for SA at RSA.

“If you think of where we are today, a lot what we still do is based on historical prevention and signature based technologies,” says Hein Kern, the newly appointed Regional Sales Manager for Southern Africa at RSA. “In the past companies would use various flavours of antivirus, firewalls, hoping that would be sufficient to control their (perimeter bound) IT environment.

“But the sophistication, speed and types of threats have grown considerably. Fortunately security solutions have not stayed reactive, but grown to enable a new type of predictive intelligence. The real difference between modern offerings is how easily they can integrate and grow with not only those challenges, but a company’s infrastructure investments.”

Kern is no stranger to security, having managed it as part of his portfolio at companies such as Computer Associates and IBM. But since joining EMC in 2011, Kern has seen how important convergence among the many parts of the third platform is, as well as the underlying role security plays in that. The third platform is a departure from the so-called second platform. It’s a shift away from static silos and towards the agility of data center platforms married with the cloud, big data and other modern business enablers:

“With EMC and moving to the third platform –  security is always at play within the four elements mobile, cloud, big data and social

After building on experience in EMC, Kern has moved to RSA, part of EMC’s Federation of companies. He is now eager to sharpen that focus around the role of security in enterprises:

“RSA is aligned with the broader EMC federation. It’s about doing new things better, making gains incremental and achievable. RSA focuses on the four tenets of modern security: access management, advanced security operations, governance risk compliance, and combatting online fraud”. The combination of these four and the power of integration between them deliver greater visibility to give better analysis and more effective action.”

That said, Kern and his team are not aiming to force clients into the new direction, but instead help them build towards it: “At RSA we don’t ignore previous investments. We can work together with previously acquired tools and pull that into the security operations centre environment. So you don’t lose that investment.”

Local enterprises are aware of this journey, he added. There is great and growing awareness that prevention is not that effective anymore. Local companies want to adopt security frameworks that helps manage risk and compliance across the organisation.

“From our dealings with enterprise clients, they are looking towards an integrated enterprise governance, risk and compliance capability but still perform core GRC tasks in siloed and often manual toolsets. With our use-case approach, so we can start small with a certain use-case to enable the journey towards an organizational maturity that an integrated eGRC solution provides.

Security is a bigger concern for companies than ever before, a rising tide that is not subsiding any time soon. But that growing risk has also delivered incredible security solutions that cover more bases that traditional prevention ever could. Kern and his team at RSA are ready to help customers take advantage of such developments, building the third platform future modern businesses thrive on.

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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