Written by Andrew Moore, Director, DAV Management
At this year’s CES, one of the largest global consumer electronics and consumer technology trade-shows, it was announced that augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence will be the primary disruptive consumer technologies for the next 20 years. In addition to this a recent report published by research company, Mintel, looked at how virtual and augmented reality technologies are entering our homes and stated that this will have an impact on how we shop, the brands we choose, and so on. You only have to think about the potential of drones delivering your goods versus the good old parcel delivery driver, to appreciate the impact this technology is likely to have on our lives and the environment around us.
In fact, it’s already happening. In 2016 Pokémon Go and Snapchat demonstrated how brands can effectively capture consumer attention and monetise augmented reality experiences at scale. Add to this recent news from Digi-capital, which showed that in the first quarter of 2016 investment in augmented reality and virtual reality grew to $1.1 billion (compared to the $700m total in 2015) and you can start to appreciate how these technologies are beginning to move centre stage.
Many believe that 2017 will be the year when artificial intelligence breaks through as a platform enabler, at least in the consumer world. Imagine a phone that knows you so well it launches your favourite app before you’re able to tap the icon or is able to drop you into a live music performance, courtesy of its built-in immersive technology features! ΑΙ technology has been on a continuous evolution that will offer amazing functionality to users.
Novel as the current developments are and despite the hype that surrounds them, it feels as though we’re still at the early stages of what this technology can deliver. There’s even been some derision from certain quarters. In an article published recently in The Register, the author summed up the offerings on show at CES as ‘too much landfill and not enough purpose’. Taking a wider view, I sense there’s a collective holding of breath as we all wait for a catalyst to really open this technology out for mainstream business consumption.
Some years ago I was involved in a start-up business that developed interactive multi-media content based on the online rights of a huge lifestyle back catalogue. Today this is mainstream, but back then it was innovative. Unfortunately for us, the infrastructure technology required to deliver content ‘products’ to users was in its infancy and somewhat underpowered. It wasn’t until the more mainstream players moved into the market that the technology improved. In effect, they legitimised the technology and went on to dominate the market. I wonder whether we’re at the same stage with VR, AR and AI technology from a business solutions standpoint and, if so, what the modern day killer apps will prove to be and who will get first mover advantage.
At CES, one of the prototype applications on show immersed the user in a virtual reality car, enabling them to interact with the vehicle’s exterior and interior design. It’s easy to see how such an application would have a wide appeal in the automotive industry, but others too could benefit from such immersive reality technology: construction, aerospace, healthcare, to name a few.
What about collaboration? We constantly talk about living in an ever-connected world, but usually we are referring to hand-held devices. VR will have a huge role to play in this area and surely represents a massive opportunity for developers of collaboration software. Today, employees and businesses distributed all around the world conference using video and presence technology, but what if they could ‘sit together’ and interact with a virtual product, discussing design details in real time? The possibilities are as endless as the speculation. Perhaps what we really need is for one bold business to pull the trigger.
Maybe convergence is the key, where those able to bring together appliances, applications and infrastructure to deliver the whole experience will make the breakthrough and in so doing become the big winners. We’ve already seen a similar evolution to this in the Telco/Media space, with the big players provisioning dual mode mobile, fixed line telephony, broadband internet access and television, as an integrated, ‘Quad-Play’ Service. It’s evident from CES that the various components in the VR, AR and AI space are available with some elements already beginning to converge.
Amazon’s foray into the market place is a good example of this. Last year in the UK, we saw Amazon launch the Echo, along with its Alexa personal assistant. Together they make an effective ‘team’. The Echo is a Wi-Fi speaker to which users can direct questions, commands and playback requests, with Alexa handling the voice interaction. It uses a ring of far-field mics to pick up voices and a complex artificial intelligence-powered voice recognition system, which some have said is the best in the business. What has surprised many is how Amazon appears to have stolen a march on its tech based competitors with Alexa, leaving Apple (Siri), Microsoft (Cortana) and Google (Now) somewhat in its wake. Industry watchers have speculated that the reason for this lies in Amazon’s decision to design Alexa so that it can be adapted by third party manufacturers and integrated into a wider range of products. At this point in time this still really only applies to the consumer domain, but it does show how the kind of convergence mentioned above is happening and from this we might see a migration into more business oriented solutions and the emergence of a killer app.
Such applications are likely to take the business world by storm, just as those in the consumer space are already poised to do. And, whilst these apps have the power to transform our lives and will no doubt deliver huge benefits, they do raise an interesting dilemma. Last year my co-director Charlie Mayes wrote an article about AI and IOT and how this could revolutionise the world as we know it. He drew parallels with technical revolutions of the past and commented on how poorly prepared society was to adapt to the seismic impact of the changes these introduced and how they evolved in ways no-one could have predicted. He also touched on the ethical questions and quandaries that these technologies will raise, such as the issues involved in designing driverless cars and how they will be programmed to deal with potentially lethal accident scenarios. Charlie concluded that how these technologies are developed and applied will impact on how well and how quickly society adopts them.
There’s little doubt that VR, AR and AI will become major elements in both our everyday and business lives, but to my mind they do create a particular irony – at least in their current incarnation. As we don our masks and immerse ourselves in a virtual landscape and community that is artificially created, we are instantly closed into our computer generated world and somewhat isolated from real life. It seems questionable, therefore, whether we are truly interacting between the two. That may not matter given today’s ‘game’ centric applications, but I think it is a limiting factor for wider consumer applications and certainly when it comes to mainstream business apps. All of which leads me to think that the big breakthrough will come when this type of technology can be ‘embedded’ into everyday usage without all the paraphernalia and have it seamlessly interact, perhaps also with other sensory components such as taste and smell, so that the lines between VR and real life become completely intertwined. Now that would truly be a revolutionary development for both the consumer and the business world.
What does cybersecurity look like for the financial sector in 2021?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
Data protection: it’s time to reassess your security strategy
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Sumitomo Life Insurance Selects Talend to Build Company’s Data Infrastructure
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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