Guest written by: Jeff Clarke, Vice Chairman, Operations and President of Client Solutions, Dell
If you could predict the future, how would you do things differently? According to the Digital Business study conducted by Dell Technologies across 16 countries which include UAE and Saudi Arabia, 66% said competition from digital start-ups is incentivizing them to invest in their IT infrastructure and digital skills leadership.
The last couple of years have been tumultuous for organizations to say the least. Every cinema in the region has its Netflix and YouTube. Every bookstore and library has its Amazon. Expect even more disruption to come down the pike. Established companies are being out-maneuvered and out-innovated by digital start-ups across the world. Nearly one in two don’t even know whether they’ll be around in 3-5 years’ time.
But amid the disruption is opportunity – and lots of it. Here are seven significant trends for 2017 and beyond (seven being a lucky number). No doubt some of these will change the way you do business, from the edge, to the core, to the cloud.
Prediction 1: Immersive technology goes mainstream
2017 will signal the democratization of immersive creativity. Very soon, creators will be able to weave their magic with some super powerful technology – and in time, this technology will be adopted by the wider population. Builders and architects will walk onto project sites and use their devices to see full-scale models of buildings before any work has even begun. Hobbyists will see and do with a twist of a knob, swipe of their finger, or scribble of a pen. Using touch and totem rather than point and click, kids will draw their way onto Minecraft.
Prediction 2: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality come to the fore
According to IDC’s ‘Worldwide Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending the MEA market is set to expand to $6 billion by 2020. Over the next few years, expect VR/AR to reach a tipping point and redefine the future of GCC. Organizations in the region have been quick on leveraging this technology to transform consumer processes and interactions, in addition to democratizing business, education and health care.
The blurring of the physical and virtual worlds could well herald the end of lectures and incessant note-taking, by bringing education to life with more immersive senses like touch. Furthermore, AR and VR will enable medical institutions and hospitals in the region to facilitate access-at-a-distance surgeries and medical care. This is likely to increase the relevance of the efforts put forth by Dubai, which is taking giant strides in becoming the medical tourism hub with an aim to draw 500,000 medical tourists by 2020.
Pokemon Go may be adding around 700,000 new players a day, but AR and VR are ripe for much more than just gaming.
Prediction 3: Chief IoT Officer
Business chiefs are popping-up all over the place. Chief Digital Officers were all the rage but now there’s a new kid on the block, in the shape of the Chief IoT Officer.
Why do we need them? Because companies will experience mounting pressure to bridge the gap between operations and IT. IDC claims that the global data volume will increase to 44 zettabytes over the next six years.
In a bid to improve ROI and efficiency, the Chief IoT Officer will be the agent of change, responsible for pulling their organizations into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a world which pulses to the rhythm of eleven billion connected devices on the planet today (by 2025, IDC forecasts this will grow three-fold to 80 billion or more – 11 times more than the number of people on the earth). Big job!
Prediction 4: Securing mobility
Expect the attack perimeter to widen this year and encroach upon other areas of the business beyond the IT network. 2016 has been earmarked with a series of advanced cyber-attacks particularly targeting the banking and finance, Oil & Gas and the energy sectors – which are the backbone of the regional economy. Recently, a variant of a lethal computer virus called Shamoon attacked Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation. It crippled thousands of computers in its wake, bringing all operations to a halt. This proves that in the age of the connected world – practically anything with an IP address can be hacked.
Understanding that it’s not just your data that needs to be protected, but devices as well is going to be a critical awakening for businesses going forward.
Prediction 5: The era of intelligent machines
Any doctor will tell you that prevention is better than cure. And now, thanks to machine learning, we can tell when a piece of technology is about to break before it does, and address the issue quickly. Advancements in machine learning are enabling organizations to take a step closer to develop intelligent systems, which are more responsive to the changing IT environments. Furthermore, besides deploying talent on more strategic IT projects vs. spending time on break/fix services, machine learning allows the IT staff to focus on business innovation. This represents far fewer fires to put out.
Prediction 6: 5K and more
This isn’t the generation who settles for second-best, because we’ve gotten used to progress at 100mph. R&D teams are constantly working-up a sweat to surprise and delight their customers. And just when people thought 5K resolution would supplant 4K as the next industry standard, rumors of large displays with double the resolution are starting to circulate.
In 2017, people’s experiences of living in technicolor will be upgraded further, until the real-world will look dim in comparison.
Prediction 7: Machine perception
It’s no secret that companies – and people – are struggling to cope with the tremendous amount of data now online. But brace yourselves – large scale data will soon help machines understand things in brand new ways. For instance, MIT is doing some really cool stuff with vision perception. By making machines watch popular TV shows like The Office and Desperate Housewives, they’re learning how to predict how humans will behave.
The MIT researchers believe machine perception will revolutionize industries where insight can be acquired from data at scale. For example, computer vision may provide an affordable, more accurate procedure to screen people for medical issues.
In time, machines will start to apply their learning across modalities and domains – making it possible to learn from text or virtual worlds.
Exciting stuff! Maybe I’ll let the machines write these predictions in a few years’ time.
Top 10 Steps to Securing Your New Computer
Written by Phil Muncaster, guest writer at ESET
With Windows 11 making headlines for all the right reasons, it could be a great time to invest in a new PC for the family or the home office. But any new household computing device should come with an attendant safety warning. Hackers will be after your data the minute it’s connected to the internet. And they have numerous ways to get it.
That’s why you need to think about cybersecurity even before plugging your machine in and switching it on. Take time out now to refresh your memory and make cyber-hygiene a number one priority.
What are the main threats to my PC?
As soon as you’re connected to the internet, malicious actors will be looking to steal your data, encrypt and hold your machine ransom, lift financial details, secretly mine for cryptocurrency, and much more. They’ll do so via some tried and true methods, which often rely on cracking, stealing or guessing passwords, or exploiting software vulnerabilities. Top threats include:
Phishing: One of the oldest con tricks in the book. Cybercriminals masquerade as legitimate and trustworthy sources (banks, tech providers, retailers, etc) and try to persuade users into clicking on links and/or open attachments in emails. Doing so will take users to a spoofed site requesting that they fill in personal information (like logins and/or address/financial details) or could trigger a covert malware download.
Drive-by downloads and malicious ads: Sometimes merely visiting an infested website or a site running a malicious ad could trigger a malware download. We may think that well-known sites may be less compromised in this way as they are better resourced and can afford enhanced protection. But there have been plenty of counter-example through the years showing that it’s not always the case. That’s why its essential to invest in security software from a reputable provider and ensure that your browser’s security settings are correct.
Digital skimming: Hackers may also compromise the payment pages of e-commerce sites with malware designed to silently harvest your card data as it is entered. This is difficult to guard against as the issue is with the provider. However, shopping with better-known sites can reduce risk.
Malicious apps and files: Cybercriminals also hide malware inside legitimate-looking applications and downloads. Many of these are posted to online forums, P2P sites, and other third-party platforms. That’s why it makes sense to download only from trusted sources, and to use an effective security software tool to scan for malicious software.
Ten tips to keep your computer safe
Many of the below steps may be taken care of automatically by your PC manufacturer/Microsoft, but it pays to dig a little deeper to make sure all the settings are as secure as you need them to be. Here are our top 10 tips for computer safety:
- Apply automatic updates for the OS and any software running on the PC
- Remove bloatware that often comes with PCs. Check beforehand if you don’t recognize any software to ensure removing it won’t degrade the performance. The fewer pieces of software on the machine, the less opportunity for attackers to exploit bugs in it
- Install multi-layered security software from a reputable third-party vendor and keep it up to date
- Configure backups, and ideally back up a copy of data to a remote storage device kept offline
- Secure the browser by adjusting privacy and security settings and ensuring it is on the latest version
- Switch on and configure your firewall on the OS and home router, ensuring it is protected with a strong password
- Download a multi-factor authentication app in order to help protect your accounts from being hijacked via phishing and other attacks
- Avoid using USBs that you don’t own, in case they are loaded with malware
- Use a password manager to ensure that all your credentials are unique, strong, and hard-to-crack
- Only download apps/files from trusted sources and avoid pirated material, which can often be booby-trapped with malware
It goes without saying that, even by following these best practices, you could still be at risk when browsing online. Always proceed with caution, don’t reply to unsolicited emails/online messages, and ensure device encryption is switched on.
Why You Should Use a VPN While Traveling
According to a survey conducted by NordVPN, 50% of travellers use public Wi-Fi while on the road. However, only 20% of them use a VPN (a virtual private network) to protect themselves while being connected to a public network. “Travelers connect to public Wi-Fi in airports, cafes, parks, and trains. Some even use public computers to print their visa information or flight tickets. A VPN in those cases is crucial if you want to make sure that your vacation will not be ruined by cyber criminals. Nobody wants to lose access to their device or their bank account during a trip to a foreign country,” says Daniel Markuson, a cybersecurity expert at NordVPN.
As International VPN day (August 19th) is just around the corner, Markuson lists all the benefits offered by the service.
Enhanced online security
The main purpose of a VPN is to keep its user’s online connection secure even when they are away from home. Hackers can set up fake hotspots or access unsecured public routers and this way monitor users’ online activity. Once a user is connected, criminals can intercept their internet traffic, infect the device with malware, and steal their victim’s personal information.
When authenticating themselves on public Wi-Fi, users often need to type in their email address or phone number. However, if a user has accidentally connected to a hacker’s hotspot, they could be exposing themselves to real danger.
A VPN hides users’ IP addresses and encrypts their online activity. That means that, even if a user is using a malicious hotspot, the hacker behind it won’t be able to monitor their activity. Therefore, getting a VPN for travelling abroad is essential if you want to stay secure and private online.
Grab the best deals
Depending on the country in which you’re located, the prices for airline tickets, car reservations, and hotels might vary. That’s because businesses know that people in different countries can and will pay higher amounts for certain products and services. If you use a VPN for travel, you can hop between servers in different countries and find the best deals available.
Make the best of additional VPN features
As the industry is evolving, many VPN providers add new features to make their users’ experience even more wholesome. NordVPN, for example, recently added the Meshnet feature that lets travellers connect to other devices directly no matter where in the world they are. This enables users to form a remote connection with their home or office PC from anywhere in the world to share files or for other uses.
However, having said that, please check local laws and regulations about using VPN services on your devices, before you do.
Social Media Data Leaks Account for 41% of All Records Breached
Written by Edward G, Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN
Social media is quickly turning into a primary security weak point. A single data breach within one of the major social media networks can result in millions of records being stolen. Within the past few years, we have seen multiple large-scale data breaches involving companies like Facebook and Twitter. Yet, we rarely see the bigger picture.
Luckily, data presented by Atlas VPN gives insight into the scope of the issue. It turns out that 41% of all compromised records in 2021 originated from social media data leaks, which is a significant upsurge compared to 25% in 2020. The data presented is based on the 2022 ForgeRock Consumer Identity Breach Report, which gathered data from various sources, such as 2021 Identity Theft Resource Center, IBM Ponemon, TechCrunch, Forrester Research, as well as UpGuard, and IdentityForce.
A few other factors make social media a security weak point within the current online landscape. First, criminals can prey on business clients by posing as the company in order to obtain credentials. This is becoming especially prevalent since companies increasingly use social networks to communicate with customers.
Second, fraudsters frequently attempt to infiltrate businesses by leveraging mutual connections, which create a false sense of security. Moreover, people who overshare on social media make it simple for thieves to locate personal information that aids in company breaches.
Besides social networks, another major source of leaked information is the retail sector, which accounted for nearly a quarter of all records breached in 2021. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Retail Indicator Division, e-commerce sales increased by 50% during the pandemic. Retail data breaches increased in frequency and severity during the same period.
While the average cost of a retail breach was $2.01 million in 2020, it increased by 63% to $3.27 million in 2021. Customer credit card, payment information, and personal data were the principal targets of retail data breaches. E-commerce websites and applications sometimes skip security precautions like two-factor authentication (2-FA) as they seek a simple user experience.
When the enormous volumes of personal data that retail websites collect are not adequately protected, it creates the ideal environment for breaches and subsequent fraud. Finally, the healthcare sector is worth mentioning with only 1% of records, yet, at the same time, the information leaked is usually particularly sensitive.
Data compromised from healthcare institutions tend to include name, address, SSN, date of birth, and, in two-thirds of the breaches, actual medical history information. With this information in hand, cybercriminals can blackmail companies or even particular individuals.
To round up the findings, it’s obvious that retail and social media companies should go the extra mile in securing their customer information. In addition, even though healthcare providers leak only a fraction of the data, they should still safeguard their client data with particular care due to the sensitive nature of the information.
Some services offer data breach monitoring tools. Data breach monitors track any data breaches related to your online accounts. It automatically scans leaked databases and informs you of any past or recent breaches where your personal information was exposed.
As always, we must mention the most effective countermeasure against data leaks. It is advised to enable multi-factor authentication on all of your accounts that offer the functionality. This way, even if your credentials are compromised, threat actors will not be able to access your account unless you lose your phone, and it is also found by ill-meaning individuals, which is less than likely.
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