Connect with us

Technology

Between the Hackers and the Regulators…

Between the Hackers and the Regulators…

Mobile security can be a weak link when it comes to both cybercrime and compliance, says Alistair Millar of Altodigital

By Alistair Millar, Group Marketing Manager, Altodigital 

Mobile working has become a way of life – so much so that it’s difficult to remember all the fuss surrounding the whole BYOD issue. At the time, those who decided on a BYOD policy took measures to counteract the risks of allowing remote access to company data from employee devices. For example, they strengthened their firewalls and introduced tiered systems of mobile access.

Alistair Millar

Alistair Millar

As a result, many businesses felt even stronger than ever – invincible even. However, in reality the number of security breaches continues to rise. High profile victims such as Uber, which recently revealed being hacked late 2016, exposing the personal information of 57 million customers and drivers, the credit rating company Equifax and Yahoo have contributed to the shock headlines by admitting their own breaches and showing that nobody is immune.

Even Deloitte, the multinational professional services firm, suffered a humiliating security attack in September this year. It came to light that the company wasn’t using two-factor authentication which was surprising as Deloitte was once named as ‘the best cybersecurity consultant in the world’.

It seems cybercrime is a real leveller. Earlier in 2017, the UK government released the results of a cybersecurity survey which revealed that seven in ten large businesses had identified a breach or attack. However, the survey points out that small businesses can be hit particularly hard by a cyberattack, with nearly one in five taking a day or more to recover from their most disruptive breach.

This is not to say that mobile access has been responsible for all these breaches. However, cyber criminals will always find the weakest links. Today, mobile devices are increasingly under attack. In fact, in a study for Check Point software, 20% of companies polled said their mobile devices had been breached and nearly all (94%) expected the frequency of mobile attacks to increase.

The problem is similar to all security weaknesses. The more secure and robust the mobile operators make their systems, the smarter the criminals become in creating malware to penetrate them – with spyware becoming equally sophisticated.

Mobile apps are another target, especially those which enable users to store personal details. Increasingly these are being used by workers in the field such as insurance risk assessors, sales reps and customer service agents. They can store significant amounts of data – often customer information and personal details – and are extremely vulnerable to hackers.

At the same time, many businesses are also migrating their data to the cloud (it’s suggested one in three now use cloud storage) and bringing a whole new set of concerns. They need to ensure that their security is at least mirrored by that of their cloud provider. If a company is using cloud services, they are themselves still liable for the security of any data forwarded to those services.

All these issues are currently coming to a head as the deadline for compliance with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018 comes closer. Now businesses face being hit from two sides – the hackers and the regulators. With the promise of severe penalties of up to £20 million, it’s difficult to know which is the greater threat. Gartner appears to agree, noting that “by 2019, 30% of organisations will face significant financial exposure from regulatory bodies due to their failure to comply with GDPR requirements to protect personal data on mobile devices.”

Point of no return

Yet, we’ve come down the road of no return when it comes to remote and mobile working. To deny employees access to corporate data when out of the office could be akin to surrendering to the competitors, so great are the productivity gains.

So how can businesses – and especially small businesses without a huge IT department – exercise ‘due diligence’ and protect their data to the required levels?  As I see it, there are four main areas to consider:

  1. Is security housekeeping up to date?

Updating patches regularly would have negated many of the problems associated with the recent WannaCry ransomware attack. Easier said than done for many hard-pressed small businesses where patching can be seen as a hassle. However, making sure the latest anti-virus and anti-malware software is in place and firewalls and gateways are up to date is a vital first step to protecting data.

  1. Protect against data leakages

A mobile security strategy should be developed. This should include who can access what, a policy on mobile apps and storage of confidential company details – not just on mobile phones, but also on laptops, tablets and USB sticks which can be easily mislaid.

Education is key here. For example, some people like to save work in multiple locations to ensure accessibility and to know there is a back-up. But this doubles or trebles even the vulnerable spots. If the laptop is left on a train, it could fall prey to anyone with the basic skills needed to break into it. Any file sharing applications used could also be compromised.

Employees should be made aware of potential security threats and be responsible for ensuring passwords are strong and they carefully manage and protect both their own personal data and the company information entrusted to them.

Businesses should protect other potential weak spots such as mobile printing. If documents are sent to print from a mobile phone to an office, they can easily then get into the wrong hands. They should ensure to use printers that hold documents until a user enters the right PIN code or other authentication and use encryption.

  1. Put the right authentication processes in place

Adaptive authentication based on certain parameters can ensure that while employees have easy access to low risk data, a company’s confidential information is kept safe and only access by those with the right authority and trust.

This may mean that access to some parts of the network require only a single password, whereas reaching HR data, for instance, requires two-factor user authentication and a digital certificate, even for the same user.

  1. Security at every point

An increasing number of organisations are implementing several layers of mobile security to plug every vulnerability. This can include mobile device management, mobile application management as well as anti-malware and anti-ransomware.

There’s no one size fits all here, just a policy of adding protection at any weak point.

At the same time, all these measures can’t prevent the mobile worker from doing their job as efficiently and productively as possible – otherwise all the advantages of mobile working will be lost. It’s a balance between benefits and responsibilities and only those who get it right will win out in the end.

Technology

How sustainable AI improves the triple bottom line

How sustainable AI improves the triple bottom line 36

An investment in green AI enables financial services firms to align people, profit, and planet

By Nick Dale, EVP business development, Verne Global

Green investing is widely regarded as a mega trend, with chief executive Larry Fink of BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, stating, “Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects … awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

The recent seismic shift in public opinion about climate change has not only increased attention on the sustainability and societal impact of investing in a company, it’s also influencing the decisions being made in finance industry boardrooms overall, whether that’s implementing innovative business models or adopting new partnerships and technologies. However, as business leaders strive to make green choices, many are unaware of the hidden environmental costs of the technologies they are employing.

AI in the finance industry

The use of AI has become ubiquitous across industry sectors, and is now an integral part of the technologies being used in financial services, from optimising asset portfolios and underwriting loans to assessing risks.

AI is especially beneficial for things like quantitative trading, which uses large data sets to identify patterns that can then inform strategic trades. AI’s machine learning models can analyse vast and complex data and make predictions accordingly. But AI models are not only data-hungry, they are power hungry.

Power-hungry AI

Supercomputers train and test mountains of data for AI models, and can run 24-hours a day, for hours, days, or even weeks. These applications consume huge amounts of energy, and as AI technology continues to grow and develop, the computations behind it are also increasing in size and complexity. The carbon emissions from training a single AI model for language translation is roughly equivalent to 125 round-trip flights from New York to Beijing (AI Now 2019 Report).

The carbon cost of AI becomes even higher when you factor in the energy required to keep the computing equipment housed in data centres cool – overheating can impact performance and damage equipment. As a result, in a conventional data centre, at least 40% of all energy consumed goes towards cooling.

But sustainable AI is possible if financial services organisations take positive steps to minimise its environmental impact.

Minimising AI’s carbon footprint

Location, location, location

Many tech giants are committing to reducing their carbon footprint, with Amazon pledging to reach 80% renewable energy by 2024, and Google investing in data centres in Nordic countries specifically for better energy efficiency.

Nick Dale

Nick Dale

This is because in the Nordics, data centres are largely powered by renewable energy sources. Iceland, in particular, uses 100% renewable hydroelectric and geothermal power – with no nuclear power sources – and is connected to a reliable power grid. These renewable energy sources are much less harmful to the environment because, unlike fossil fuels, they don’t cause pollution and don’t generate greenhouse gases. Not to mention, renewable energy is based on natural resources that can be replenished within an average human lifetime, as compared to fossil fuels, which can take thousands—or even millions—of years to replace.

Over 80% of compute doesn’t need to be near the end-user, and in those situations, choosing data centre locations in cool climates has a significant impact on carbon emissions. AI compute can be located in places like Iceland, which can utilise all-year-round, free cooling due to its temperate climate.

Data centres that are located in hot climates, like Arizona in the US, require high-powered cooling systems in operation around the clock. With average high temperatures of 40° Celsius in the summer, these data centres can use up to 4 million gallons of water a day to absorb heat through evaporation into cooling towers. Consequently, when location doesn’t hamper performance or accessibility, housing AI compute in data centres with natural cooling is a no-brainer.

Energy efficient and cost-effective

Many in the financial sector have traditionally viewed sustainability as a trade-off between profit and planet, but when it comes to green AI, financial services firms can have it both ways. By housing the servers that train AI models in data centres powered by renewable energy sources, businesses can substantially reduce energy expenses and benefit from long-term, fixed pricing.

And when renewable energy sources are combined with year-round, cool climates, the energy demands and costs of AI can be dramatically reduced. AI is here to stay, but by making the right choices, companies in the finance sector can still drive profitability whilst making real and measurable progress on sustainability.

Continue Reading

Technology

Survey of IT decision makers exposes the increased pressures IT organisations face amidst covid-19

Survey of IT decision makers exposes the increased pressures IT organisations face amidst covid-19 37

Independent Survey Uncovers the Limitations Traditional IT Infrastructure Imposes, Exacerbated by a Remote Workforce

Nebulon, Inc.®, the pioneer of Cloud-Defined Storage, released today the results of an independent survey completed by IT decision makers at 500 companies in the IT, financial services, manufacturing, retail, distribution and transport industries across the UK, US, Germany and France. Conducted in June of this year, the survey exposes the biggest challenges enterprises face in transforming their on-premises application storage environments, which have only been exacerbated during this COVID-19 era. While IT organisations cite multiple restrictions, the survey reveals limited infrastructure automation and high CAPEX as the most significant challenges for those deploying enterprise storage array technology, forcing them to re-examine IT spending and operations even more so than usual amidst the pandemic.

While increasing automation and reducing costs may seem like mainstream initiatives for any large organisation, the pandemic and resulting workforce restrictions mandate significant progress in days or weeks, versus months or quarters. The results of the survey, undertaken by Vanson Bourne, further reinforce this as respondents also highlighted their on-premises application storage environments are difficult to maintain, and reveal that they lacked the in-house expertise necessary to manage them. Even more disconcerting, respondents indicate that their traditional external storage arrays are not suited to handle new workloads, including containers and NoSQL databases. This is unsurprising as modern workloads have been architected for local versus shared storage resources.

British IT decision makers specifically ranked “expensive” highest, with 57% making this one of their top three challenges, followed by “time consuming to maintain” (50%) and “difficult to automate at scale” (49%). Respondents from smaller organisations (1,000-2,999 employees) were more likely to mark “lack of in-house expertise” highly compared to larger organisations (3,000+employees) (59% compared to 31%) while these larger companies were more likely to consider cost a top challenge (61% compared to 35%).

“The impact of the pandemic is forcing CIOs worldwide to reconsider their operations,” said Siamak Nazari, Co-Founder and CEO of Nebulon, Inc. “Reducing costs through server-based storage alternatives without the restrictions of hyperconverged infrastructure, and reducing operating cost pressure through cloud-based management of the application storage infrastructure are crucial initiatives for IT organisations looking to survive this new normal.”

For companies with a growing class of mission-critical data that cannot or should not move to the public cloud, Cloud-Defined Storage is an alternative to expensive storage arrays, offering enterprises a cloud-managed, server-based approach for mission-critical storage. By combining a cloud-based control plane, called Nebulon ON, with server-based storage that is powered by the Nebulon Services Processing Unit (SPU), Nebulon enables organisations to reduce cost for enterprise storage by up to half without compromising on enterprise data services. This is made possible by Nebulon’s unique architecture that makes use of commodity SSDs in industry standard servers, Ethernet in favour of Fibre Channel, and by eliminating operational complexities by moving management to Nebulon ON with an as-a-service model.

Nebulon ON uses AI to analyse application workloads during operations, provides actionable recommendations for IT organisations and provides a single API endpoint that greatly streamlines automation at-scale. Customisable application templates, tailored for customer’s application clusters, eliminate the guesswork in configuring infrastructure and produce repeatable, reliable infrastructure services for modern, mission-critical workloads. With the architectural and operational simplicity of Cloud-Defined Storage, application owners gain a self-service infrastructure provisioning that is unmatched with existing on-premises storage solutions.

“IT organisations have been seeking a cost-effective alternative to external storage arrays for years,” said Nazari. “With our Cloud-Defined Storage offering, they finally have the opportunity to reduce costs while also deploying a self-service solution for application owners that also reduces the operational burden.”

Continue Reading

Technology

Are you ‘prescribing’ the right security solution to your merchants?

Are you ‘prescribing’ the right security solution to your merchants? 38

By Sandra Higgins, Chief Marketing Officer at Sysnet Global Solutions, draws parallels between taking multivitamins for the body to keeping small businesses ‘healthy’ using an all-in-one security solution

When it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, eating the right food, taking regular exercise, and maintaining a positive mindset are key. However, despite these best intentions and practices, you still might not get all the nutrients your body needs to ensure it is working as effectively as possible. To combat this, a doctor might suggest taking a daily multivitamin as an insurance policy, to guarantee the body gets all the minerals and vitamins it needs, avoiding any shortfalls. Makes sense, right?

This same logic can be applied to businesses and the importance of cybersecurity and compliance solutions, especially in the current climate and the risks associated with remote working. Like a doctor prescribing a multivitamin to help their patients’ minds and bodies function effectively, in the same way, acquirers can offer security ‘prescriptions’ to help merchants keep on top of business health. The prescription is then deployed by a security software provider, much like a pharmacy would, dispensing the multivitamin of data security services and tools to help keep businesses in good health.

Just what the doctor ordered

With a wide variety of data security and compliance solutions available, like the streams of vitamins you see on pharmacy shelves, smaller businesses can often become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of available tools and may forego sourcing their business ‘medication’ altogether.

Taking the stress out of trying to understand what the business needs, it’s an acquirer’s responsibility to prescribe one solution that allows merchants to stay security fit and prevents them from becoming overwhelmed at the choice available. That way, merchants don’t end up buying the wrong solutions or supplementary add-ons at additional cost, that they don’t actually need.

The benefits of an all-in-one solution

Like with medicine, merchants need to know the long-term benefits of prescriptions before administering it, and with an all-in-one solution, the benefits are vast. In addition to easy compliance with payments standards such as PCI DSS and access to security tools that are appropriate to business set-up, other benefits of all-in-one security solutions include;

  1. Increased energy levels. With business security taken care of, business owners will have more time to focus on what matters, giving them more energy to run other areas of the business.
  2. Reduced fatigue. If a business has to work hard to manage its security levels, or its owner is losing sleep over not managing it at all, resulting in overdrive just to perform simple tasks, being compliant with regulations, like the PCI DSS standard, becomes much harder.
  3. Long-term healthy lifestyle. By taking an all-in-one security solution, businesses will become ‘compliance and security fit’. Everything will run more efficiently, without security issues slowing things down and preventing a business from moving forward.
  4. Improved mood. Certain studies have shown that a daily multivitamin has positive effects on a person’s mood and emotional well-being. Not having to think so much about security and compliance lifts a burden and has the same effect – business owner don’t feel guilty about not paying it enough attention and there’s no need to worry about breaches or facing fees from not being PCI compliant.
  5. Reduced stress and anxiety. Similar to having an improved mood, by simply attending to security matters, businesses will have one less thing to worry about.

Strength in numbers

Not only is there a multitude of long-term benefits attached to having a fully managed data security solution prescribed by acquirers, allowing businesses to be faster, simpler and more profitable, it also means that costs are kept low. Many people buy vitamins in bulk to help share the cost with family or close friends. By buying security tools at scale, costs are kept down for merchants. This means that when a business is weighing up their budgets, they can be sure their compliance and security cost is entirely affordable.

When buying a multivitamin, customers will likely buy from a reputable brand so that you can rely on the quality and effectiveness of the daily dose, as reputable multivitamin providers undergo meticulous analysis and rigorous quality controls during the manufacturing process. In the same vein, humans wouldn’t want a substandard multivitamin for their own body, so businesses wouldn’t expect this from an acquirer’s prescription.

Easy to consume

Multivitamins can provide patients with numerous health benefits but the biggest benefit of all is having these solutions in one place. It makes it easier to ensure the body gets all it needs to stay healthy. It is the same thing for businesses. Taking a security ‘multivitamin’ will greatly take the stress out of addressing compliance and security, and provide a business with more time to focus on other pressing tasks.  If small businesses, in particular, can get into the habit of taking a regular multivitamin, a straightforward all-in-one solution, to address compliance and security at their business, they will be more open to trying other things too that may lead to an evolution of the business.

Continue Reading

Latest Articles

How sustainable AI improves the triple bottom line 39 How sustainable AI improves the triple bottom line 40
Technology25 mins ago

How sustainable AI improves the triple bottom line

An investment in green AI enables financial services firms to align people, profit, and planet By Nick Dale, EVP business...

The impact and implications of Covid-19 on financial reporting 41 The impact and implications of Covid-19 on financial reporting 42
Finance47 mins ago

The impact and implications of Covid-19 on financial reporting

By Mark Billington, Regional Director, Greater China & South-East Asia, ICAEW The economic consequences of Covid-19 have been unprecedented, affecting...

Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy   43 Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy   44
Business3 hours ago

Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy  

Leading payments provider, Contis, has applied for two grants from the RBS & BCR Alternative Remedies Package, totalling £35 million.   Unlike most applicants who...

Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver 45 Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver 46
Business3 hours ago

Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver

Nearly a third (32%) of consumers would switch providers if a brand’s website is unavailable for more than 24 hours...

Demonstrating the value of collaborative leadership during crises 47 Demonstrating the value of collaborative leadership during crises 48
Business1 day ago

Demonstrating the value of collaborative leadership during crises

By Jean Stephens, CEO, RSM International In 2000, a leading expert in behavioural science, Daniel Goleman, outlined the six key...

Empowerment Accelerates Continuous Improvement 49 Empowerment Accelerates Continuous Improvement 50
Business1 day ago

Empowerment Accelerates Continuous Improvement

By Larry Sternberg, JD, Fellow, Talent Plus, Inc. Empowerment First, let me clarify how I am using the word “empowerment”...

What is loneliness and how can you manage it? 51 What is loneliness and how can you manage it? 52
Top Stories1 day ago

What is loneliness and how can you manage it?

By Iris Schaden Your Business and Personal Coach A mere century ago, almost no one lived alone. Today, many do...

How banks can build digital transformation into business continuity 53 How banks can build digital transformation into business continuity 54
Business1 day ago

How banks can build digital transformation into business continuity

By Andrew Warren, Head of Banking & Financial Services, UK&I, Cognizant Businesses around the world are falling victim to the...

Akerton Partners 55 Akerton Partners 56
Finance1 day ago

Akerton Partners

Akerton Partners S.L. is a Spanish independent mid-market corporate finance advisor founded over a decade ago, in 2008, amid a...

Looking to the future, virtual (or online) businesses will prove more profitable 57 Looking to the future, virtual (or online) businesses will prove more profitable 58
Business1 day ago

Looking to the future, virtual (or online) businesses will prove more profitable

By Richard Fletcher Magic Sauce Marketing Business owners of all types have had to make some major adjustments this year. With...