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Why companies must rethink security

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By DOROS HADJIZENONOS, regional director for SADC at Fortinet

Possibly the most important attribute of the cloud is that critical business applications, can be deployed, managed, and distributed faster and easier than by any other method, giving employees and customers real-time access to critical information—wherever they are located and on whatever device they are using. That requires nimble resources that can scale and move, and applications that are simple and intuitive to use, have access to real-time data, and can be quickly updated to meet constantly evolving trends.

Security is just as critical a component of any cloud environment—especially as cybercriminals look to exploit the rapidly expanding attack surface. But to be effective, it needs to be as agile and dynamic as the cloud infrastructure being protected.

Effective security not only needs to protect connections between data and users, but also secure literally every connection to every physical or virtual device across the distributed infrastructure.

In such an environment, complexities arise from the use of different security solutions, as deploying security solutions that are only available on a single cloud platform may not be available on others, and may have functional limitations. Such deployments have actually imposed limits on the true potential of the cloud.

To address these challenges, organisations need to incorporate the following four security concepts into their cloud development strategies:

1. Security-led cloud development: Security breaches tend to be the result of a determined cybercriminal exploiting the weakest link in an organisation’s attack surface. And for many organisations, the adoption of the cloud has expanded their attack surface exponentially. Eliminating those weak links requiressecurity to be enforced consistently everywhere, even when the infrastructure is in a state of constant flux. 

Because infrastructures are expanding and changing so rapidly, it is essential that an overall security plan become the foundational requirement for any network changes. Mandating that proper security tools, policies, and procedures are in place before any new resources are spun up allows security to adapt in sync with infrastructure and application changes. This requires selecting security tools that understand the infrastructure in which they have been placed, and that can also operate consistently across all environments—including multi-cloud—to enforce policies and ensure visibility that enables secure applications and connectivity from data centre to cloud.

2. Cloud-native security: Since data and workflows will need to move throughout the infrastructure and to the cloud, security needs to function consistently. Selecting a cloud firewall from the same vendor that is protecting the organisations physical assets will not necessarily solve that problem. There is a need for these solutions to interact seamlessly with cloud services and subscribe themselves to these services as well as identify cloud-based resources in the same logical way that they identify other resources. That said, the underlying technology used for protecting networks is very different from the tech used for protecting cloud-based resources, but the practice of managing security needs to remain similar. That is why native integration into the cloud infrastructure is critical.

3. Multiple form factors: Consistent security enforcement depends on the same security solutions being deployed across as many platforms and in as many different form factors as possible. Applications, for example, should be able to make calls to a cloud-based security solution to identify and protect specific data and transactions. Container-based applications should have access to containerised security tools in order to easily integrate security functionality into the application chain. And ideally, these tools should be operated in the exact same way as solutions deployed everywhere across your distributed infrastructure, including at branch offices and edge devices.

However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a virtual version of your network firewall will be adequate for your cloud or container deployment.

4. Central management: One of the biggest complaints from network administrators is that they cannot see and manage their entire network through a single console that extends visibility across physical and virtual networks. A management solution that can see and close the gates against an attack in one area of the network but not in another is likely lead to a compromised infrastructure. To eliminate gaps in security enforcement, organisations need a single pane of glass to gain visibility and define consistent security policies throughout the entire infrastructure to effectively manage risk. Security solutions need to share and correlate threat intelligence, receive and implement centrally orchestrated policy and configuration changes, and coordinate all resources to respond to detected threats.

Rethink Your Security

Traditional security models where devices are placed at a network gateway to monitor predictable traffic and devices are obsolete. Today, security needs to span your distributed infrastructure, dynamically scale when application resources grow, and automatically adapt as the infrastructure continuously adjusts to changing demands. And just as important, it also needs to ensure consistent functionality and policy enforcement regardless of its form factor or where it is deployed. Achieving that may require you to rethink your current security infrastructure.

If the cloud is going to play a significant role in the future of your organisation, you may be better off finding a single vendor that supports your overall application lifecycle and infrastructure roadmaps and expansion plans—especially a solution that provides consistent protection and functionality across multiple public and private cloud domains, even if that means replacing the traditional security hardware you have deployed on-premise.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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