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Trust or bust for brands

Trading data is the new value exchange. Consumers are getting smarter at engaging in the interconnected world and where their data is shared. Yet, the rapid rise in cybercrime is fuelled by cybercriminals trying to exploit this data to sell for profit on the black market, writes MARTIN WALSHAW, SE Team Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa, at F5.

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Apps are the gateway to vital information, so maintaining user identity is more important than ever. With changing attitudes towards cybersecurity and brand reputations at stake, many business leaders need to ask themselves an important question: Do customers today trust you to protect their data and will that brand loyalty remain in the future?

Data is the new value asset

A single hack can set reputations back as the magnitude of a cyber breach can result in severe losses to revenues. In recent times, large scale cyber-attacks have affected companies of all sizes across retail, banking, manufacturing, media and many other industries. Firms can no longer rely on traditional IT infrastructure because technological innovation and malicious hackers are exposing weaknesses in the system through sophisticated techniques, including malware and encryption. Companies need to rethink their security strategy and plan longer-term to safeguard customer loyalty.

Although innovative technology, such as the internet of things (IoT), has delivered tremendous progress, data breaches to inadequately protected devices and networks can quickly erode consumer confidence, which could take extensive resources to regain. A recent European report conducted by Opinium interviewed six thousand consumers covering the UK, Germany and France. The report revealed interesting findings, including two out of five people in the UK would not purchase smart technology for their home over hacking fears. The survey interviewed British citizens who expressed growing concerns over apps collecting their data and the platforms hackers are targeting today. In addition, almost half were most wary about leading social media sites collecting their data, whilst 58% believe it is the app that hackers will exploit to target them as consumers.

Attitudes towards being cyber-safe are changing rapidly. The Opinium survey also revealed that 74% of Brits now check their security measures when downloading apps, 88% check the security of banking apps and 90% with shopping apps, especially with concerns related to credit card fraud. As consumers become more discerning and vigilant about protecting their credentials, the demands on businesses will increase to prove that their service is robust, compliant and safe. It is quite conceivable that consumers will soon in the future differentiate brands based on their ability to protect data and whether they have the necessary security controls in place. The Opinium survey highlighted that over four fifths (82%) of German adults say they would be concerned about their financial data being hacked with half (51%) worried about their passport being hacked. In comparison, over four fifths (83%) of French adults say they would be concerned about their financial data being hacked with half (52%) worried about their National Insurance Number being hacked.

A company’s reputation will only survive and thrive if it understands consumer behaviour and implements a comprehensive security architecture to meet demands and safeguard sensitive information. Understanding risk, accessing, storing, processing, analysing, protecting and appropriately deleting customer data are mandatory for data compliance and demonstrating a strong security posture. It is essential for businesses to have the flexibility to quickly adapt to evolving trends, support new apps, accommodate a growing mobile community and maximise operational efficiency. In fact, studies have shown that the emotional state of users to network delays and data breaches for even very minor hiccups can cause stress and dissatisfaction. Looking ahead, consumers will know their data has intrinsic value and, as responsible cyber citizens, become more discerning about selecting services.

Getting smarter

In the future, data protection and identity preservation will be at the heart of people’s choices when purchasing goods on-line, selecting a banking investment and even sharing credentials with local authorities. The digital economy is driving increased reliance on application services and forward thinking companies are implementing integrated security ecosystems to mitigate cyberattacks and fraud. A failure to scale the security architecture, safeguard and successfully manage customer credentials will be detrimental to a brand’s reputation.

Now ask yourself another question considering digital economic trends: Does my business have the right applications security solutions, which can keep customers happy? Remember, the way organisations deal with data will be a commercial differentiator for consumers. Now is the time to secure the trust.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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