By Morey Haber, VP, Technology, BeyondTrust
It’s that time of year again when we look back at what has motivated the market for IT security solutions in the last year, in order to develop our plans for the next year. With so many public exploits, and data breaches, there’s certainly no shortage of material to leverage! I have grouped my predictions in to three categories: Methods for major hacks, breaches and exploits; The business of cybersecurity – focus and investments; and Offensive and defensive strategies.
Category: Methods for major hacks, breaches and exploits
Prediction #1 – The bigger they are, the harder they fall
If we think the headlines, with news of major organizations getting breached, shocked us, we will learn that large organizations have poor cyber security hygiene, are not meeting regulations, and are failing to enforce the policies they developed, recommend, and enforce on others. Next year’s news will have even more high-profile names.
Prediction #2 – Increase in mobile phone spam
With there being more mobile phones in most countries than there are citizens in those countries, mobile phone spam will rise 10,000% due to automated spam and dialing ‘botnets’ that essentially render most phones unusable because they receive so many phone calls from unidentified numbers. This rise in phone spam pushes cellular carriers to start to require that end users adopt an “opt in” policy so only those in their contacts can call them.
Prediction #3 – Major increase in ‘gaming deleteware’ infections
‘Gaming deleteware’ infections across most major platforms will increase as botnets continuously attack gaming networks and devices such as Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo systems with the sole intention of rendering the machine inoperable. The malware is downloaded as an embedded game add-on, causing millions of devices to need to be replaced.
Prediction #4 – The first major Apple iOS virus hits within a popular “free” game
As users click on the ‘ad’ to play a game for free, their iOS11 device will be compromised, leaking all data stored in the local Safari password storage vault.
Prediction #5 – Continued growth in the use of ransomware and cyber-extortion tools
2017 has proven the model that vulnerabilities nearly 20 years old are being exploited in organizational networks (Verizon DBIR 2017), so the opportunity is too great and too easy for organized crime to ignore. Further, the commoditization of these tools on the deep web opens the door to anyone who feels the risk is worth the reward. This is likely to continue until organizations get the basics right and the risk/reward balance tips, making ransomware far less appealing.
Prediction #6 – More end-user targeting
Penetration through unpatched servers like in the case of Equifax will happen, but hackers will continue to target end users with more sophisticated phishing and targeted malware, taking advantage of unpatched desktops where clients have far too many privileges. Again, don’t take your eyes off the end users.
Prediction #7 – Biometric hacking will be front and center
Attacks and research against biometric technology in Microsoft Hello, Surface Laptops, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Apple iPhone X will be the highest prize targets for researchers and hackers. The results will prove that these new technologies are just as susceptible to compromise as touch ID sensors, passcodes, and passwords.
Prediction #8 – Cyber recycling
As we see a rise in the adoption of the latest and greatest devices, we will see devices, and now IoT, be cyber recycled. These devices, including mobile phones, won’t be destroyed however. They will be wiped, refurbished, and resold even though they are end of life (EOL). Look for geographic attacks against these devices to rise since they are out of maintenance.
Category: The business of cybersecurity – focus and investments
Prediction #9 – More money for security, but the basics still won’t be covered
Organizations will continue to increase spending on security and new solutions, but will struggle to keep up with basic security hygiene such as patching. Hackers will continue to penetrate environments leveraging known vulnerabilities where patches have existed for quite some time. Regardless of whether it is an employee mistake, lack of resources, or operational priorities, we are sure to see this theme highlighted in the next Verizon Breach report.
Prediction #10 – IAM and privilege management going hand-in-hand
Identity Access Management (IAM) and privilege management adoption as a required security layer will continue. We will see more security vendors adding identity context to their product lines. Identity context in NAC and micro-segmentation technologies will increase as organizations invest in technologies to minimize breach impact.
Prediction #11 – Greater cloud security investments
Vendors will begin to invest more heavily to protect cloud specific deployments for customers migrating to the cloud. Supporting Docker/containers, DevOps use cases, and enforcing secure cloud configurations are some initiatives that will be driven by customers.
Prediction #12 – Acceptance that “completely safe” is unobtainable
As 2018 progresses and more and more organizations accept that breaches are inevitable there will be a shift toward containing the breach rather than trying to prevent it. This doesn’t mean abandoning the wall, but rather accepting that it isn’t perfect, can never be and shifting appropriate focus toward limiting the impact of the breach. Organizations will refocus on the basics of cybersecurity best practice to enable them to build effective solutions that impede hackers without impacting legitimate users.
Prediction #13 – Chaos erupts as the GDPR grace period ends
As organizations enter 2018 and realize the size of the task to become GDPR compliant by 25th May, there will be a lot of panic. This legislation seems poorly understood which has led to many organizations tabling it for ‘later’ and, for many, they will wait until the first prosecution is underway before they react. The EU gave over 2 years, after GDPR passed into law (27th April 2016), for organizations to become GDPR compliant, so there is likely to be little tolerance for non-compliant organizations which are breached after 25th May and, more than likely, some example setting. Those who completed their GDPR compliance ahead of the deadline will be right to feel smug as they watch their competitors flail.
Category: Offensive and defensive strategies
Prediction #14 – Increased automation in cybersecurity response
The size of the cybersecurity threat continues to grow through 2018, with increasing numbers of attack vectors combined with increased incidence of attacks via each vector (driven by commoditization of attack tools) leading to massive increases in the volume of data being processed by cybersecurity teams. This demands improvement in the automation of responses in cybersecurity tools to do much of the heavy lifting, thereby freeing the cyber teams to focus both on the high-risk threats identified and in planning effectively for improvements in defences. Increased use of machine learning technologies and, from that, more positive outcomes will lead to a significant growth in this area.
Prediction #15 – Richer cybersecurity vision
As organizations’ needs for more comprehensive cybersecurity solutions grows, so will the need for effective integration between the vendors of those technologies. This will lead to more technology partnerships in the near-term and eventually to industry-standards for integration in the longer term. The ability for systems to work with relatively unstructured data will allow for more effective information interchange and, as a result, far richer and more rewarding views across our cyber landscapes.
Prediction #16 – It is now law
Governments will begin passing legislation around cybersecurity and the basic management of IoT devices required for safe and secure computing.
Financial transformation is the new digital transformation
By Luke Fossett, ANZ Head of Sales for global recurring payments platform, GoCardless
The term ‘digital transformation’ has become somewhat synonymous with COVID-19. As teams and operations became decentralised, companies looked to quickly build their remote tech stacks, striving for ‘business as usual’ despite the circumstances.
But in the background of COVID’s chaos, different regions and industries experienced major changes, sparking a different breed of transformation beyond the digital spectrum.
Take Australia as an example. In July, the market saw the local arrival of Open Banking, as well as further detail into the regulated and planned transition away from the existing Direct Debit system to the central-backed New Payments Platform (NPP) and it’s Mandated Payment Service. With these changes comes the impetus for a wave of ‘financial transformation’; a term that describes the process of making financial operations, processes and outputs more efficient.
Despite its potential for broad interpretation, financial transformation has the potential to produce use-cases that drive value for the customer; from things like seamless payment experiences, to data-rich APIs and integrations, to managing real-time bank to bank payment and the automation of everything from customer acquisition to using data to retry a failed transaction on the date that gets the best success. These innovations are well within reach for enterprise organisations, however, to extract real value, business leaders need to plan their financial infrastructure in parallel with making digital investments.
With the right deployments, financial transformation can reap significant rewards from a customer and internal operations perspective – so here’s why business leaders should be paying attention:
Value speaks volumes to the C-suite
Financial transformation benefits enterprise organisations as well as small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) that need to create efficiencies as they scale, but translating its value is not always easy.
Payments are a complex part of any business, impacting many different consumer-facing and internal functions. Yet the role of ‘payments specialist’ is a rarity in most organisations.
Responsibility for financial transformation often falls – and gets lost – somewhere between the Chiefs of Technology, Information and Finance. That’s why leaning on platform providers and payments experts as early as possible, is key to understanding your customers and capabilities, before you implement and invest.
Outsourcing financial transformation initiatives is a much easier sell to enterprise decision-makers than redirecting IT resources to new DevOps projects. Credible payment providers, and the specialised knowledge that comes with good ones, are in most cases a more cost-effective solution than employing a full-time expert. Translating the value of financial transformation to achieve buy-in from the C-level boils down to maximising efficiency and return on investment (ROI).
A simple solution is using automation for tasks like streamlining processes, such as collecting payments on time without human contact. Find the sweet spot between how you want your customers to pay, and how they prefer to pay; then offer those options, while making sure they can be done with little to no touch internally.
‘Best-in-class’ platform providers typically describe innovative fintech companies, who, as opposed to generalist banks, are deemed specialists in niche elements of financial services.
Again, using the example of Australasia, there are nearly 5,000 active fintechs, and it’s a market that legacy-laden big banks are tapping into. For example, Australia’s largest bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, recently partnered with venture capital firm Square Peg, and AI-focused capital fund Zetta Ventures Partner; pouring $AUD28 million into new financial technology that delivers better digital banking services to its customers.
Fintech-led transformation doesn’t only have to benefit the customer; it can offer significant value for financial teams too.
In an enterprise environment, choosing the right technology allows for slick front end payments, but the true value comes in optimising financial management behind the scenes.
Take the rising consumer demand for subscription services as a use-case. According to Zuora’s Subscription Impact Report, 50 per cent of all subscription companies are growing just as fast as they were before the pandemic, while 18 per cent are actually seeing subscriber growth rates accelerate. With this trend comes a rise in companies looking to invest in recurring billing platforms that make it easy to accept regular payments, however, finding a low-touch platform that offers the financial infrastructure to support subscription-based payments will generate much greater ROI. There is no point blowing budgets on a ‘rip and replace’ billing platform if internally, finance teams still have to revert to a manual process of uploading payment files in a spreadsheet.
The future is financially transformed
The Reserve Bank of Australia’s latest Consumer Payment Behaviour survey shows that in 2007, cash was used for 69 per cent of all transactions, while last year it accounted for just 27 per cent. Additionally, over 50 per cent of Australian businesses prefer bank-to-bank payments, known as Direct Debit, over credit cards as a way to collect payments.
Payment preferences are rapidly evolving, and keeping up with consumer payment trends is key to staying competitive. To be effective, however, you need to have the infrastructure to support and accept diverse payment methods.
‘Payments as a Service’ (PaaS) is a phrase used to describe platform providers that connect multiple payment systems, enabling companies to offer several payment options while replacing outdated practices like paper-based Direct Debit.
In 2020, the most successful enterprises are utilising PaaS providers, built for self-serve and high rates of conversion. Take Bulb, for example; the UK-based energy company allows users to sign-up, switch energy providers and lock-in their payment preferences, all in under two minutes. Better yet, the process requires almost no people management.
Taking a visionary lens on financial transformation means building greater payment efficiencies for both the customer and the enterprise. Additionally, the specialist and agile nature of fintech platforms puts the organisations who use them on the cutting-edge of innovation, future-proofing operations in a fast-moving market without significant investments in research and development.
Best-in-class platform providers are driving financial transformation change; helping business navigate and plan so they are prepared for today, and for what’s coming.
RegTech 2020: Exploring financial crime and the emergence of RegTech in the USA
with host, Alex Ford, VP Product and Marketing, Encompass, and guests, Dr Henry Balani, Head of Delivery, Encompass; Pawneet Abramowski, Chief Compliance Officer
Today, financial institutions deal with increasingly complex transactions and regulations that are continually changing. For the financial services industry, the cost of regulatory obligations has dramatically increased in recent years and, as a result, there has been a strong demand for more efficient reporting and compliance systems to better control risks and reduce compliance costs.
The complexity of regulation has made it more difficult for compliance and legal teams to manage risk. Also, the rise in large monetary fines, the impact of reputational damage, personal liability and even prison sentences have all played a factor. However, it remains essential that RegTech and AI is not seen as the only answer to addressing all financial crime risk, but rather a tool that, if used properly, can create more efficiency in the management of money laundering, bribery, corruption and fraud.
This month’s insightful and thought-provoking RegTech 20:20 podcast, from Encompass Corporation, delves into these topics from a US perspective, as guests, Dr Henry Balani, Head of Delivery, Encompass, and Pawneet Abramowski, Chief Compliance Officer. Pawneet has more than 17 years of combined experience in both public and private sectors with a focus on compliance and Henry has experience supporting innovative technology solutions that address issues of financial crime and money laundering. He advises technology firms as a Non-Executive/Board Director.
Encompass Corporation aims to demystify RegTech for listeners and understand what practitioners and experts are doing to overcome organisational challenges. This time,
Pawneet discusses how the US is at the forefront of the utilisation of technology, while also reflecting on the long history of money laundering and financial crime there, saying that “the birth of RegTech in the last 5-7 years has been really prominent in the United States”.
Henry, having had more than 25 years’ of financial services industry experience, speaks about how so many transactions worldwide are cleared in a US bank and how the US dollar is a powerful weapon, especially when money laundering comes into play.
When asked about her thoughts on technology assistance, Pawneet suggests that organisations are having to continuously evolve their programme and controls, telling the audience: “I think that’s where this desire for having technology assist in making things more efficient and operationally effective”.
Henry gives listeners an insight into regulatory penalties being a driver in changing behaviour, suggesting that this type of enforcement is a successful method.
“…as we see the increasing use of these penalties, organisations are noticing the reputational damage as embarrassing. We have seen a lot of these companies coming to RegTech firms asking for solutions to help them identify these potential challenges and issues”
Later on in the podcast, he goes on to speak about the challenges for regulated banks in the US. Breaking down the latest data and survey figures, Henry insists that the US has huge workforces in this organisation of growth. “To be a compliance professional, you are certainly in huge demand.”
Technology advancement is increasing at a rapid rate in the US. Regulated firms have a challenge not only to stay ahead of criminals, but there is often a rush to introduce new technology and continue to improve the experience of customers. Regulated bodies in the US, especially banks, have long been reinventing and adapting their compliance programmes to meet both their legal and community obligations and, as Pawneet explains, “it feels like a constant regulatory revolving door as a compliance professional”.
More expert commentary, RegTech conversation and industry insight can be found in the full episode of RegTech 20:20. You can listen here https://www.encompasscorporation.com/regtech2020-podcast/, and across all major podcast players
86% of UK businesses face barriers developing digital skills in procurement
A shortage of digitally savvy talent, and a lack of training for technical and soft skills, hinder digital procurement initiative
Research from Ivalua, a leading provider of global spend management cloud solutions, has shown that a majority of UK businesses (86%) face significant barriers developing digital skills in procurement. The findings reveal that a shortage of digitally savvy talent (31%), a lack of training for technical and soft skills (28%) and a lack of understanding of the skills required (13%), are some of the main barriers preventing UK business from developing the digital skills they need. Additionally, over half (55%) of UK businesses say that digital skills in procurement are less advanced compared to other departments
The research, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Ivalua, surveyed 200 UK-based procurement, supply chain and finance professionals about the true nature of digital skills within procurement, and the challenges businesses looking to digitally transform will face. More than eight-in-ten (84%) UK businesses believe that the skill set required of procurement professionals has shifted from procurement-first to digital-first. The study also highlighted that most respondents believe that greater digitalisation (84%) and better digital skills (83%) in procurement would have enabled UK businesses to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak more effectively.
“Over the last decade, the role of procurement has transformed from one of cost-cutter to a vital ally that can help inform and enable a business’s strategy. The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend even further, reinforcing the importance of procurement as businesses adapt to the new normal,” commented Alex Saric, smart procurement expert at Ivalua. “However, for too long, procurement has been seen as a digital laggard, with technology adoption trailing behind other departments. In order to keep its seat at the table in strategic discussions, procurement must ensure it has people with the right skills in-house, as well as easy to use technologies, or risk being unable to offer significant strategic value.”
Challenges in hiring digital skills in procurement
As part of ongoing digital transformation efforts in procurement, the report found that UK businesses have started to introduce new technologies such as data analytics (55%), cloud-based platforms (53%), automation (35%) and AI/machine learning (30%) in the last 12 months.
But when it comes to deploying these technologies, UK businesses are finding it difficult to complement them with the digital skills required. The study found that 88% find it challenging to hire the right digital skills to work with technologies such as AI, cloud-based platforms or data analytics, while 76% say they are concerned that existing procurement teams will struggle to work with new technologies. Developing digital skills is vital for businesses, as 91% of respondents say that improving digital skills can make procurement more strategic, while 94% say it will help them gain a competitive advantage.
“In a rapidly evolving business environment, digital skills are essential for procurement teams to analyse and mitigate risk, identify new opportunities and collaborate with suppliers. However, procurement teams are struggling to both attract digital talent and upskill existing teams, which puts them at risk of falling behind competitors, losing market share, and struggling to identify risk and opportunities ahead of time,” comments Saric.
“To address the digital skills gap in procurement, UK businesses need to ensure they are focusing on adopting tools that are easy to use and improve access to actionable insights. By making procurement smarter, businesses are giving teams the tools and skills needed to thrive in the new normal, allowing the business to react and proactively address the shifting sands of a post-COVID world.”
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