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Driving Agility with Flexible Tech

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Driving Agility with Flexible Tech

By Chris Labrey, Econocom UK & Ireland, MD 

For organisations across the UK, the latest extension to Article 50, which outlines the process the country needs to take to leave the European Union (EU), means ongoing uncertainty and risk. It is all but impossible for companies across the country to plan effectively when the future business landscape remains shrouded in doubt by Brexit confusion. We have already seen many firms put their spending plans on hold. The Office for National Statistics recently estimated that business investment in volume terms fell in the fourth quarter of 2018, representing the fourth consecutive quarter-on-quarter fall in business investment and the first time this has happened since the economic downturn of 2008 to 2009.

While this reduction in spending might be financially judicious, businesses still need to operate as usual and maintain their competitive edge in a global market. Technology has a critical role to play in this – not only is it crucial in supporting staff, operations and customer interactions, it can also improve business agility and responsiveness to market conditions.

Unfortunately, these conditions are not always predictable. One high-profile example from the past year is the drone incident at London’s Gatwick Airport just before Christmas 2018 which resulted in UK airports implementing anti-drone technology costing millions of pounds, just to stay operational.

While drones could potentially be used to target and severely impact major airports, computer viruses are generally much less selective about which industry they attack and can even destroy entire IT estates within organisations. For example, a ransomware attack at Government offices in two municipalities in Alaska took down everything (in the case of one borough, at least) – from email to the electronic door key card network. As a result, the whole system had to be closed down and staff had to resort to using typewriters and manually writing receipts.

What these seemingly disparate cases have in common is that organisations have had to invest in technology with funds outside of their budget. And this is not uncommon – Econocom’s own recent research revealed that 67% of finance directors have had to make an unexpected large technology purchase in the last year, with 60% of these purchases funded by diverting budget from other services.

One way organisations can address this issue is by adopting a subscription or as-a-service model, an approach that helps ease the burden of upfront technology investments, whether they are required for business-critical reasons or not. The approach can balance the investment by relieving the burden on capex while delivering on the organisation’s objectives. This then frees up the business from the burden of diverting funds from other services over technology to remain operational and agile. Additionally, many organisations will be used to this type of model as they use them to provide the funding for large purchases such as cars.

Financing technology in this way streamlines the payment process, thereby both protecting organisations from unpredictable business outlay and also protecting funds already allocated to other projects.

Total cost of ownership (TCO) for any new technology must also be accounted for on the balance sheet and this is not always as simple as it might seem. Managing lifecycle costs such as storage, warranty, running and disposal – in line with GDPR regulations – may be difficult to account for and could have a significant impact on the bottom line if managed incorrectly. Subscription or as-a-service funding models can incorporate these costs into the contract, therefore transferring the burden to opex and protecting the company’s total profits.

Looking to the Future

Most organisations will thankfully not be faced with a situation as dramatic as the Gatwick Airport drone incident, but most will nevertheless, at some point, be faced with an unforeseen scenario that necessitates the urgent installation of business critical technology that is unbudgeted for. In such a scenario, using a subscription or as-a-service model can enable businesses to remain agile and manage any unpredictable technology requirements. In addition to streamlining the payment costs, this model protects capex and has the added benefit of saving costs associated with keeping the technology current and operational.

It’s not possible, of course, to predict the exact nature of the economic climate post Brexit or know what challenges may lay around the corner. But whatever happens, organisations cannot remain agile and responsive with old and outdated technology. Subscription or as-a-service models provide an excellent way to respond to challenges, changes in market conditions and the needs of both employees and customers in a risk-free way.

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What does cybersecurity look like for the financial sector in 2021?

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What does cybersecurity look like for the financial sector in 2021? 1

By Neill Lawson-Smith, managing director at CIS

The landscape is changing incredibly fast, with cybercriminals using the most up-to-date technology to hack systems. Here are the six areas those in finance should be watching out for…

The finance and insurance sector is increasingly becoming a notable target for cyber attacks. Many of these breaches happening are believed to be due to inadequate security measures when teams or businesses are using cloud services.

The financial industry is also being affected by changes in processes with more fintech, virtual banks, and other digital disruptors impacting the market. The landscape is changing incredibly fast, with cybercriminals using the most up-to-date technology to hack systems, so it is therefore up to the financial sector to keep up to avoid security breaches.

What does this look like for the year ahead in the financial sector? Here are the Six areas those in finance should be watching out for:

  1. AI securityand cyber defence

Both Cybercriminals and cyber defence are commonly using Artificial Intelligence (AI). In cybersecurity, it is used to identify new threats, as well as assess the effectiveness of the responses to threats, enabling them to foresee and essentially block attacks before they happen. It is also used to spot behavioural patterns and can quickly identify possible infiltrations.

Hackers have also started to use AI to make it easier for them to get past security systems in place. This year, it is likely that AI will be increasingly used as a means of gaining personal details (i.e. credit card details) as well as optimising spam phishing campaigns.

  1. Mobile cybersecurity in banking

With the number of consumers using their mobile devices for banking and financial transactions increasing, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered society predominantly cashless, cybercriminals have been heavily targeting mobile systems. For example, mobile malware only targets mobile phone operating systems. The most common forms of mobile malware are virus and trojans, spyware and madware (mobile adware), phishing campaigns, and browser exploits.

This means it is now more important than ever to protect mobile devices to the same extent as traditional hardware.

The same protocols that are in place to ensure your staff PCs and laptops are secure now, need to also be applied to their mobile devices as well, such as:

  • Ensuring the latest versions of the operating system and other applications are installed.
  • Installing a firewall.
  • Enabling mobile security software to protect against malware and viruses.
  • Using password protected lock screens.
  • Ensuring apps are only downloaded from official sites like Apple App store and Google Play.
  1. Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to all your business networks by ensuring every transaction or login is supported by at least two security measures for access. It is one of the easiest security measures to implement within your business and is becoming more common within the financial sector for many transactions. The traditional username and password are becoming increasingly easy for cybercriminals to acquire, whereas adding an extra identification method, that is not easily accessible to the hackers, ensures an extra layer of protection.

The most commonly used multi-factor authentication methods are:

  • Passwords – They should be complex and comprise at least eight characters and be a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • One-time use code – A randomly generated code sent via SMS or email which is used only once. With weaknesses in mobile networks and email accounts, these can however be intercepted by hackers.
  • App generated codes – a code generated by an app on a mobile phone often created by scanning a QR code that contains a ‘key’. As the key is stored on the phone itself this is less likely to be intercepted by a third party.
  • Physical authentication keys – this is a USB which the user inserts every time they login from a new computer. Unfortunately, they don’t work on all devices without adapters (such as iPhone, MacBook or Android).
  • Biometrics – Using a fingerprint, voice, or an eye dent is an effective identifier. They are extremely difficult to hack but if they are, they cannot be used ever again for anything.
  • Information – this could be something that only the user would know – either a password or a piece of information.

Most of these methods are free or relatively cheap to implement and don’t require anything other than a mobile phone for the user. The added security of multi-factor authentication means even if a hacker has acquired a username/password combination there is still an extra security barrier preventing access.

  1. Refined testing

As the finance industry is constantly changing, then so too are the security threats. Financial cybersecurity is an ongoing commitment, so installing new anti-virus software and implementing MFA, and stopping there is not going to keep you protected for long. It requires ensuring software and firewalls are up to date as well as ensuring access is regularly updated. In addition to this constant maintenance regular testing of the systems is essential. All systems have vulnerabilities, and as these change, cybercriminals learn to overcome them, and therefore software develops.

One thing to remember is that it is not possible to be over-cautious when it comes to cybersecurity. Regular penetration testing essentially identifies any weaknesses in your systems before the cyber criminals do. It is essential to schedule penetration testing or vulnerability scans at least once a quarter unless compliance dictates otherwise. They can be carried out using a vulnerability scanner.

  1. Hiring the right people

It is crucial to have the right team on hand to ensure your systems are up to date, regularly tested and maintained is essential.

Your IT team should have the following skills and knowledge:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the company’s IT infrastructure
  • Knowledge of cybersecurity best practices
  • Understanding of company processes and data flows
  • Up to date knowledge of cybersecurity solutions
  1. Plan a Defence, Prepare for Attack…

Although businesses can take many precautions, there are limitations on skills, investment and timescales in implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity infrastructure, it is essential that appropriate procedures, policies and processes are established to ensure that an appropriate response is carried out in the event of a detection – whether manual or ideally automated – so that whenever an attack occurs, the appropriate and proportionate response is carried out immediately to limit any further damage or intrusion.

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Data protection: it’s time to reassess your security strategy

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Biometrics and data protection in financial services

By Tony Pepper, CEO of Egress

It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm of cybersecurity risk. External threats are heightened, but there’s also a higher level of internal risk too, exacerbated by home working. With most financial services organisations planning to continue with mass remote working for the foreseeable future, it’s important for security teams to review their strategy and assess whether it still works in this new landscape. When it comes to insider threat, there are three key areas that IT leaders should focus on: building a positive culture around security, understanding their organisation’s level of risk and protecting their people.

  1. Build a security-positive culture

Many organisations have unknowingly instilled a security-negative culture among their employees, where people are punished or shamed if they cause a security incident. While they might think that this would discourage employees from causing data breaches for fear of repercussions, this actually makes your organisation less secure. Our Outbound Email Security Report found that 62% of organisations rely on their people to report email data breach incidents – and if employees are too afraid to come forward, that means your business is at risk of developing a security blind spot.

A security negative culture won’t actually prevent data breaches caused by human error, something which organisations need to recognize as largely unavoidable without technological intervention; it just delays remediation, which makes every incident worse. By creating a security-positive culture, you can better engage and educate employees, as well as ensure you’re able to rapidly triage any incidents if they occur.

  1. Understand your risk

When mapping out your risk, you’ll likely find that the picture looks very different to how it did even a year ago. In the past, organisations have focused on their networks and their devices when it came to security strategy. While these are vital areas for consideration, what hasn’t been as well-addressed to date is the human aspect of risk, particularly human error. You need to look closely at the tools that your employees are using daily to facilitate digital communication with clients and colleagues, including when sending sensitive information.

Employees are specifically using email more than ever before – our recent research found that 94% of organisations are sending more emails due to Covid-19, with one-in-two IT leaders reporting an increase of more than 50%. With this expansion of email volumes comes an increase in the risk that an email containing sensitive data might be misdirected. Remote working has also heightened the threat – our research found that 35% of organisations’ serious email data breaches were caused by remote working. Why? The causes lie in their behavior and the environments in which they operate. Some individuals may feel they’re able to take more risks away from the “watchful eyes” of their Security team, and every employee is  faced with a myriad of distractions that make them more likely to make a mistake.

It’s time for organisations to take stock of their risk by looking at where gaps in their security might exist – and provide safety nets for their employees that can automatically detect and mitigate inadvertent data breaches and risky behaviour.

  1. Protect your people

It goes without saying that not all data breaches are caused by malicious activity. An overwhelming amount of data breaches are caused by hardworking employees making honest mistakes, from sending an email to the wrong person to responding to a phishing attack. Unfortunately, human error is an unavoidable part of life, and mistakes will happen. In the past, many organisations have taken the approach that employee error can be ‘trained away’, embarking on comprehensive security training programs in the hope that security incidents might decrease.

Unfortunately, if that were the case, then employee activated data breaches would be a thing of the past! Organisations need to employ a multifaceted approach when it comes to avoiding accidental insider data breaches – education and training remain an important element, but ultimately businesses need to implement the right technology to provide a safety net for their people. Many organisations have legacy DLP solutions in place that cannot mitigate the risk as they fail to fully understand employees’ behaviour.

Often, these tools stand in the way of productivity, prompting users even when there isn’t a legitimate risk. When click fatigue sets in, these solutions become ineffective, with users ignoring prompts whenever they appear. Luckily, advances in machine learning mean that there’s technology available to prevent insider data breaches such as misdirected email, by deeply understanding the way that users behave and the context in which they share data, to ensure emails are sent to the right recipients with the right level of security.

The vast majority of organizations will never go back to every employee working full time within the office environment, instead post-pandemic we will see a myriad of different approaches – with some based in the office, while others work at home part or full-time, and as the world opens up again, their locations may change throughout the day. To mitigate risks from inadvertent errors to intentional data exfiltration, CISOs must address their security culture and protect their human layer with intelligent controls that mitigate employees’ behaviors and stop breaches before they happen.

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Sumitomo Life Insurance Selects Talend to Build Company’s Data Infrastructure

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Sumitomo Life Insurance Selects Talend to Build Company’s Data Infrastructure 2

Leading life insurer uses Talend in data lake environment for data analytics

Talend (NASDAQ: TLND), a global leader in data integration and data integrity, announced today that Sumitomo Life Insurance Company, one of the Japan’s leading life insurance companies, has selected Talend Data Fabric for its data analytics infrastructure.

Sumitomo Life aims to become the most trusted and supported company by its stakeholders, including its customers, and to grow sustainably and stably. Sumitomo Life’s vision is to offer advanced products to enable customers to live vigorously. To respond to that, the company is developing and delivering cutting-edge products that respond to its customers’ current and expected futures needs in areas focusing on nursing care, medical insurance and retirement planning.

“With the trust from our customers as the starting point of all our activities, Sumitomo Life is providing optimal life insurance services to every person through the sound management of the insurance business,” said Mr. Masakazu Ohta, General Manager in Charge of Information System Department at Sumitomo Life. “As a new approach, it was necessary to build a common foundation for big data management, and Talend is the driver. Talend’s superiority in cloud implementation, development productivity, features, and licensing model convinced us to be part of this journey together.”

To meet the needs of its customers and offer them innovative products and services, Sumitomo Life has decided to build a foundation for data analysis (Sumisei Data Platform) in the cloud for the promotion of new insurance products. The company evolved its legacy data environment to the new environment where they can store the data extracted from various systems both on-premises and effectively in the cloud.

In order to meet the needs of each individual customer and provide the best insurance for them, Sumitomo Life uses Talend Data Fabric as the hub of its data infrastructure. This manages data across the organization and integrates data into a data lake, which makes them able to utilize data across the company.

“We have been able to release projects with the continuous support of Talend, even amid the changing business environment in the Covid-19 crisis. We will continue to collaborate with Talend in order to actively promote company-wide data analysis projects,” added Mr. Ohta.

“The insurance market is one of the most competitive sectors. By facing tight regulations and complex customer needs, companies must be at the forefront of innovation to offer even more services and new products to its customers,” said Kenji Tsunoda, Country Manager Japan, at Talend. “Talend helped Sumitomo Life reinvent its data-driven infrastructure to provide a data management platform that enables the development of advanced products for its customers.  We are delighted to support Sumitomo Life in the pursuit of their vision.”

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