Tom Holloway, Principal Business Resilience Consultant, Sungard Availability Services
The manufacturing industry is among the most advanced in the world for its adoption of digital platforms. Robotic and connected sensor technology are now mainstream throughout most factories, allowing manufacturers to gather insights in real time. The use of digital technology in manufacturing is nothing new, it has been embedded within processes for decades, and routine disruption has become the norm given the industry’s reliance on technology. However, increasing automation, data-rich production cycles and complex global supply chains make this industry particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks.
It’s predicted that there will be 1.3 million robots in factories worldwide by the end of this year, which could open up as many security risks as it helps with operational efficiencies. Imagine if a hacker managed to access the software the business relies on – it could cause a total shut down of operations. Forcing industrial robotic arms to misperform even slightly could not only result in tons of ruined products but the robots could unwittingly grant access to the business’ security networks, bringing all operations to a halt. The cost of this could be astronomical to a manufacturing business; to put into perspective the cost of the recent NotPetya ransomware attack to businesses is estimated at $1.2Bn, not an improbable figure when you consider that a stoppage in a complex car manufacturing plant can cost £10,000s per minute. This trend is also playing out across other critical infrastructure sectors – with even the US government issuing a rare public warning that energy and industrial firms are vulnerable to sophisticated attacks.
Complicated systems require a hands-on approach. The huge amount of data needed to manage manufacturing processes with tiny degrees of tolerance, are sitting only a few degrees of separation away from public networks. The use of sensor-embedded automation controls, RFID tags and Radio Data Terminals reliant on WLAN infrastructure increase the potential points of system vulnerability.
Historically, investment in manufacturing has been focused on safety and cost reduction, which hasn’t been matched by investment in security. But with these growing risks against our critical infrastructure systems, it is vital that businesses take all the proper precautions.
You are the weakest link, goodbye
Despite these very real risks, our recent research shows that the industry is in danger of becoming complacent. The majority (67%) of IT Decision Makers in the manufacturing sector feel confident that they are prepared for a cyber-attack. While it is encouraging to see this confidence, the headlines have made it clear that manufacturers can’t afford to take the foot of the pedal when it comes to security.
A business works best if all the components work in harmony: people, processes and technology. If one of these falters, the remaining components won’t be able to perform. Each have their own weaknesses, but human error often becomes the most visible of these, but it can be avoidable. An employee clicking a link on a simple spam email might be all it takes to bring the system to a standstill. So, when looking at ways to prevent business downtime the best place to start is with your own people. Make sure everyone is kept appraised of the latest security threats. This could be through inductions or annual training that the organisation needs to take.
Avoiding the domino effect
Increased connectivity through Internet of Things (IoT) devices is transforming the manufacturing industry, allowing leaders to monitor and act upon data flowing between machines, devices and people. A multitude of sensors pour data into systems and build up a real-time picture of operations, however the added sensor touchpoints and more automated processes have left the industry with a more exposed attack surface. The level of disruption a hacker could cause has the potential to be far-reaching; not only would they have the power to stall productions lines, but privacy and even physical safety also pose significant risks to operations. As automation increasingly dominates all aspects of manufacturing processes, leaders need to analyse the robustness of the business’ core technology. IT teams need to make sure they have all their data backed up, whether in a physical data-centre or in the cloud and have regularly tested action plans in place for recovering data and keeping the production line moving.
Watch your WiFi
It’s well known that WiFi can be hacked and cause issues across the supply chain, from networks inside storage depos, to public WiFi used by people working remotely – even supermarket ‘zappers’ could be hacked. Hacking supermarket zappers may not sound alarming, but if the system that provides all this information is corrupted then it could potentially bring down the entire network. What can be done? Keep your inventory record up to date with software management.
While investment in safety and cost reduction are both key elements for success in the manufacturing industry, it should not come at the cost of security. Ultimately, if a customer comes to doubt the ability of your businesses to run efficient operations you risk losing the trust, and business of important suppliers. Careful preparation will help leadership teams manage a crisis when it happens.
Resilience training for operations teams is essential to improve awareness of the entire business and ensure any vulnerabilities can be swiftly resolved. Don’t assume that all staff are appraised of the latest technology in the work place. Spend time upskilling them on the latest technologies otherwise outside threats will get the better of them, and your business.
‘Spooky’ AI tool brings dead relatives’ photos to life
By Umberto Bacchi
(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Like the animated paintings that adorn the walls of Harry Potter’s school, a new online tool promises to bring portraits of dead relatives to life, stirring debate about the use of technology to impersonate people.
Genealogy company MyHeritage launched its “Deep Nostalgia” feature earlier this week, allowing users to turn stills into short videos showing the person in the photograph smiling, winking and nodding.
“Seeing our beloved ancestors’ faces come to life … lets us imagine how they might have been in reality, and provides a profound new way of connecting to our family history,” MyHeritage founder Gilad Japhet said in a statement.
Developed with Israeli computer vision firm D-ID, Deep Nostalgia uses deep learning algorithms to animate images with facial expressions that were based on those of MyHeritage employees.
Some of the company’s users took to Twitter on Friday to share the animated images of their deceased relatives, as well as moving depictions of historical figures, including Albert Einstein and Ancient Egypt’s lost Queen Nefertiti.
“Takes my breath away. This is my grandfather who died when I was eight. @MyHeritage brought him back to life. Absolutely crazy,” wrote Twitter user Jenny Hawran.
While most expressed amazement, others described the feature as “spooky” and said it raised ethical questions. “The photos are enough. The dead have no say in this,” tweeted user Erica Cervini.
From chatbots to virtual reality, the tool is the latest innovation seeking to bring the dead to life through technology.
Last year U.S. rapper Kanye West famously gifted his wife Kim Kardashian a hologram of her late father congratulating her on her birthday and on marrying “the most, most, most, most, most genius man in the whole world”.
‘ANIMATING THE PAST’
The trend has opened up all sorts of ethical and legal questions, particularly around consent and the opportunity to blur reality by recreating a virtual doppelganger of the living.
Elaine Kasket a psychology professor at the University of Wolverhampton in Britain who authored a book on the “digital afterlife”, said that while Deep Nostalgia was not necessarily “problematic”, it sat “at the top of a slippery slope”.
“When people start overwriting history or sort of animating the past … You wonder where that ends up,” she said.
MyHeritage acknowledges on its website that the technology can be “a bit uncanny” and its use “controversial”, but said steps have been taken to prevent abuses.
“The Deep Nostalgia feature includes hard-coded animations that are intentionally without any speech and therefore cannot be used to fake any content or deliver any message,” MyHeritage public relations director Rafi Mendelsohn said in a statement.
Yet, images alone can convey meaning, said Faheem Hussain, a clinical assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.
“Imagine somebody took a picture of the Last Supper and Judas is now winking at Mary Magdalene – what kind of implications that can have,” Hussain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) animations could be use to make someone appear as though they were doing things they might not be happy about, such as rolling their eyes or smiling at a funeral, he added.
Mendelsohn of MyHeritage said using photos of a living person without their consent was a breach of the company’s terms and conditions, adding that videos were clearly marked with AI symbols to differentiate them from authentic recordings.
“It is our ethical responsibility to mark such synthetic videos clearly and differentiate them from real videos,” he said.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi in Milan; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Does your institution have operational resilience? Testing cyber resilience may be a good way to find out
By Callum Roxan, Head of Threat Intelligence, F-Secure
If ever 2020 had a lesson, it was that no organization can possibly prepare for every conceivable outcome. Yet building one particular skill will make any crisis easier to handle: operational resilience.
Many financial institutions have already devoted resources to building operational resilience. Unfortunately, this often takes what Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer of TheCityUK, calls a “near death” experience for this conversion to occur. “Recent years have seen a number of cases of loss of reputation, reduced enterprise value and senior executive casualties from operational incidents that have been badly handled,” he wrote.
But it need not take a disaster to learn this vital lesson.
“Operational resilience means not only planning around specific, identified risks,” Charlotte Gerken, the executive director of the Bank of England, said in a 2017 speech on operational resilience. “We want firms to plan on the assumption that any part of their infrastructure could be impacted, whatever the reason.” Gerken noted that firms that had successfully achieved a level of resilience that survives a crisis had established the necessary mechanisms to bring the business together to respond where and when risks materialised, no matter why or how.
We’ll talk about the bit we know best here; by testing for cyber resilience, a company can do more than prepare for the worst sort of attacks it may face. This process can help any business get a clearer view of how it operates, and how well it is prepared for all kinds of surprises.
Assumptions and the mechanisms they should produce are the best way to prepare for the unknown. But, as the boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The aim of cyber resilience is to build an effective security posture that survives that first punch, and the several that are likely to follow. So how can an institution be confident that they’ve achieved genuine operational resilience?
This requires an organization to honestly assess itself through the motto inscribed at the front of the Temple of Delphi: “Know thyself.” And when it comes to cyber security, there is a way for an organization to test just how thoroughly it comprehends its own strengths and weaknesses.
The Bank of England was the first central bank to help develop the framework for institutions to test the integrity of their systems. CBEST is made up of controlled, bespoke, intelligence-led cyber security tests that replicate behaviours of those threat actors, and often have unforeseen or secondary benefits. Gerken notes that the “firms that did best in the testing tended to be those that really understood their organisations. They understood their own needs, strengths and weaknesses, and reflected this in the way they built resilience.”
In short, testing cyber resilience can provide clear insight into an institution’s operational resilience in general.
Gaining that specific knowledge without a “near-death” experience is obviously a significant win for any establishment. And testing for operational resilience throughout the industry can provide some reminders of the steps every organization should take so that testing provides unique insists about their institution, and not just a checklist of cyber defence basics.
The IIF/McKinsey Cyber Resilience Survey of the financial services industry released in March lasy year provided six sets of immediate actions that institutions could take to improve their cyber security posture. The toplines of these recommendations were:
- Do the basics, patch your vulnerabilities.
- Review your cloud architecture and security capabilities.
- Reduce your supply chain risk.
- Practice your incident response and recovery capabilities.
- Set aside a specific cyber security budget and prioritise it
- Build a skilled talent pool and optimize resources through automation.
But let’s be honest: If simply reading a solid list of recommendations created cyber resilience, cyber criminals would be out of business. Unfortunately, cyber crime as a business is booming and threat actors targeting essential financial institutions through cyber attacks are likely earning billions in the trillion dollar industry of financial crime.A list can’t reveal an institution’s unique weaknesses, those security failings and chokepoints that could shudder operations, not just during a successful cyber attack but during various other crises that challenge their operations. And the failings that lead to flaws in an institution’s cyber defence likely reverberate throughout the organization as liabilities that other crises would likely expose.
The best way to get a sense of operational resilience will always be to simulate the worst that attackers can summon. That’s why the time to test yourself is now, before someone else does.
Thomson Reuters to stress AI, machine learning in a post-pandemic world
By Kenneth Li and Nick Zieminski
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp will streamline technology, close offices and rely more on machines to prepare for a post-pandemic world, the news and information group said on Tuesday, as it reported higher sales and operating profit.
The Toronto-headquartered company will spend $500 million to $600 million over two years to burnish its technology credentials, investing in AI and machine learning to get data faster to professional customers increasingly working from home during the coronavirus crisis.
It will transition from a content provider to a content-driven technology company, and from a holding company to an operational structure.
Thomson Reuters’ New York- and Toronto-listed shares each gained more than 8%.
It aims to cut annual operating expenses by $600 million through eliminating duplicate functions, modernizing and consolidating technology, as well as through attrition and shrinking its real estate footprint. Layoffs are not a focus of the cost cuts and there are no current plans to divest assets as part of this plan, the company said.
“We look at the changing behaviors as a result of COVID … on professionals working from home working remotely being much more reliant on 24-7, digital always-on, sort of real-time always available information, served through software and powered by AI and ML (machine learning),” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in an interview.
Sales growth is forecast to accelerate in each of the next three years compared with 1.3% reported sales growth for 2020, the company said in its earnings release.
Thomson Reuters, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment and other items.
Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals, and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit. As part of the two-year change program, the corporate, legal and tax side will operate more as one customer-facing entity.
Adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were ahead of the 46 cents expected, based on data from Refinitiv.
The company raised its annual dividend by 10 cents to $1.62 per share.
The Reuters News business showed lower revenue in the fourth quarter. In January, Stephen J. Adler, Reuters’ editor-in-chief for the past decade, said he would retire in April from the world’s largest international news provider.
Thomson Reuters also said its stake in The London Stock Exchange is now worth about $11.2 billion.
The LSE last month completed its $27-billion takeover of data and analytics business Refinitiv, 45%-owned by Thomson Reuters.
(Reporting by Ken Li, writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)
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