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Shadow IT make you wannacry

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The opinion of shadow IT, or the installation of unauthorised apps in an organisation is divided. Some believe that it answers the need for agile solutions, while others think in increases security risks. SIMEON TASSEV, MD and QSA at Galix Networking sets the record straight.

There are mixed opinions about implementing unauthorised, IT applications (apps) within the organisation, a practice known as Shadow IT. Opinion on Shadow IT is divided into two camps. Some believe that due to the fast pace of business, demands are exceeding IT capability, Shadow IT answers the need for fast, agile solutions and encourages innovative thinking. However, others suppose that Shadow IT causes a breakdown in traditional yet necessary processes, opening up the scope for risk.

While the market has driven the need for Shadow IT to play a role, the risks cannot be overstated. There has been a significant rise in cyber-crime activity over the last few months, with malware such as the WannaCry Ransomware, and the more recent Petya and NotPetya attacks, making news headlines due to the damage caused on a global scale.

Shadow IT, Ransomware and the missing link

Many businesses lost crippling sums of money and critical data due to these attacks, with some being forced to shut down for an extended period.  In an environment where malware can be introduced on any devices, businesses cannot afford not to be fully cognisant of everything that touches their network. So, does this mean Shadow IT is the cause by being the key that unlocks the door to virulent network attacks?

Today’s average user is far more technologically savvy than ever before. The range of apps available across a range of devices means that it is fairly simple for an employee to discover one which they believe addresses a business requirement better than what their current IT department provides. Often, employees are able to better understand what they need from a technology to improve productivity. In fact, Shadow IT may help users to more effectively do their jobs and, if formally introduced, could help businesses to innovate quicker.

However, in many cases where users implement applications or systems without permission, or notifying their IT department, these apps and systems cannot be effectively monitored or controlled. Data moving across these systems is therefore equally unmonitored. The business has no control over where their data is, who has access to it, and what the safety measures are around it. Ultimately, this can be very dangerous.

What can be done?

IT departments should ensure that they conduct regular audits for unauthorised applications and systems to ensure that the business remains secure. Once completed, any discovered (and unapproved) apps need to be discarded or integrated into the existing IT ecosystem, based on their benefits. The IT department should also educate users on the risks of Shadow IT.  Making them aware of their potential to unwittingly introduce malware such as ransomware or other cyber-threats.

Hooked on Shadow IT?

Users often become dependent on the apps and systems that are introduce independently. When the IT department becomes aware of their use, it may be too late to stop use of the app without negatively impacting productivity and functionality. In fact, employees usually search for these kinds of tools in order to boost their productivity in specific areas where the individual may slack. In addition, the tool or app used may not necessarily work for the business or other co-workers and cannot be implemented on a whim.

When the IT department, or the business, is unaware of systems and apps being used for business purposes, they are unable to apply the necessary threat prevention and other security measures that will ensure the safety of not only the business, but also the user. Thus, the user assumes responsibility for any security breach that may occur through their use of an unauthorised app.

A positive spin

Conversely, Shadow IT can only be helpful for the business, however, only if it is carried out in collaboration with the IT department. Users can be empowered to identify and recommend apps and systems which may ease common business pains, which also alleviates the pressure on IT departments while fast tracking innovation. Simultaneously, IT departments retain a say in what will or won’t work with existing infrastructure and security systems.

In conclusion, although Shadow IT can definitely open up the scope for risk within the business, the IT department within the organisation can collectively work with employees to mitigate security risks. The result is a solution that answers the needs of the user and the business, while still falling within the control of the IT department, and under their security umbrella. There are, therefore, no unidentified or insecure points for malware to enter the business’s systems and the responsibility for the protection of company data still resides with the IT department. Finally, IT should become involved in the assessment of these ‘Shadow IT’ apps and systems, and perhaps it should be touted as ‘Collaborative IT’.

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Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon

On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

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Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.

“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.

Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion.   In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

David Noton advises:

  1. Download the right apps to be in-the-know

The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky.  Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.

 

  1. Invest in a lens with optimal zoom  

On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.

  1. Use a tripod to capture the intimate details

As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.

  1. Integrate the moon into your landscape

Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.

  1. Master the shutter speed for your subject 

The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability.  By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.

 

On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!

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How Africa can embrace AI

Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.

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To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.

These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.

Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed

AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.

According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.

It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.

Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.

It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.

Combining STEM with the arts

Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.

As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.

“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.

Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.

Revisiting laws and regulation

For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.

Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.

Preparing for the future

With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.

To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.

It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.

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