Daily Tech Digest - August 21, 2017

Industry 4.0: How the Internet of Things is Revolutionizing Manufacturing

"Unlike traditional relationships where feedback on products and services takes time to gather, the automated closed-feedback loop is an inherent component of Industry 4.0," Ramaswami said. "The seamless record-keeping enabled by digital systems will speed traceability, while limiting liabilities, warranty costs and recalls." Despite these advantages, the shift is still in the early stage. According to research from Capgemini, only 6 percent of manufacturers are considered "digital masters," or those that have reached an advanced stage in digitizing the production process. That means competitive advantage is still up for grabs, rather than implementation becoming an imperative to merely remain competitive. Still, the movement is real; Capgemini estimates that 76 percent of manufacturers already have a smart factory initiative in the works or currently under formulation.

The importance of building ethics into artificial intelligence

Companies deal with team changes regularly. Issues arise tied to trust, accountability and personnel behavior that goes against the values of a company – or society, in general. In the tech industry alone, sexism, racial bias and other serious, but eradicable trends persist from the C-suite down to the entry-level.  Consequently, the industry should focus on efforts to develop and grow a diverse talent pool that can build AI technologies to enhance business operations and address specific sets of workplace issues, while ensuring that it is accountable.  Employers need to recruit people who understand the importance of applying strict human resources guidelines to AI performing tasks alongside human employees across industries and geographies. AI, for its part, needs to learn how to conduct itself in a work environment and be rewarded for expected behavior to reinforce good habits.

Top 3 Breakthroughs in Combating Financial Crime

In times of political and economic change, financial crime and corruption tend to grow fast. The shock of Brexit, terrorist attacks, the revolution in the Islamic world and other factors create an environment that is demanding for change. AI and Analytics driven solutions have been widely adopted across different industries for various purposes. However, only a handful of banks around the world are working with advanced analytics and artificial intelligence technologies to improve their risk and compliance activities. As the world enters into an era of high uncertainty, the upcoming years will see financial institutions adopt and deploy best-in-class analytics powered tools as part of their efforts to remain fully compliant and to combat financial crime. With that in mind, here are the top three trends that will power the compliance revolution

Building security into IoT devices: the new potential for security integration

IoT devices are vulnerable by virtue of their networked operation. A connected wristband monitoring a patient’s heartbeat and blood oxygen levels, for instance, might continually send sensitive private data over a wireless link to a medical application hosted by a cloud service provider. It is useful to think of the vulnerability in this type of device – and therefore the protection that is required – in terms of layers. For example, one layer is the personal area network connection, typically a Bluetooth Low Energy radio link to a smartphone or tablet with which the wristband is paired. An extension of this layer might be the Wi-Fi link provided by the smartphone or tablet to a home router or gateway. The second layer might be the cloud platform, such as Microsoft’s Azure or Amazon’s AWS; and the third is the application itself running in the cloud.

Predictive marketing: taking the guesswork out of adverts

Predictive marketing moves away from stats, stereotypes or the constraints of age and gender towards informed messaging decisions that amplify the customer journey. This is done through AI-driven propensity models based on billions of moments. These models learn about a customer’s future behaviour, based on their previous interactions, such as browsing behaviour, past purchases and interests, as well as metadata about their devices and thousands of other variants. All these aspects combined paint a holistic picture of the entire customer journey and are delivered at scale in real time. All the data in the world – even your own – is worthless it can be converted to intelligence and applied to your business, giving you better insights into your own customers and prospects than ever before.

Seven Keys to Strengthen Your Cybersecurity Culture

A lot has been written about benchmarking and following best practices in cybersecurity. One important question is whether you know where you are heading? What is the vision of what success looks like for your security and technology teams? Consider visiting your industry peers and learning from other public and private sector organizations that are doing cybersecurity culture well. Look at the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) award-winners, NGA best practices and state and local partners in your region. Consider a road-trip to learn from others and benchmarking progress. For example, back in 2011-2012, Stu Davis the Ohio CIO, brought a team up to Michigan to see how we built our security architectures and governance. Ohio State government used that visit and follow-on conversations to build an excellent cybersecurity program.

Your failure to apply critical cybersecurity updates is putting your company at risk

Despite the impact of WannaCry, a month later it seems that many organisations hadn't bothered to apply the correct patches, as Petya used the same exploit to spread itself across infected networks. It claimed a number of high-profile victims -- many of which are still dealing with the post-infection fallout. "Something we don't talk about often enough is the opportunity everyone has to limit bad consequences by employing consistent and effective cybersecurity hygiene," said Phil Quade, chief information security officer at Fortinet. "Cybercriminals aren't breaking into systems using new zero day attacks, they are primarily exploiting already discovered vulnerabilities." Researchers say lessons must be learned and that if security patches are released then they need to be applied.

What’s new with WebAssembly portable code

A key goal of WebAssembly is enabling code written in languages besides JavaScript to run in the browser. The technology serves as a compile target for other languages. Right now, C++ is the preferred language for use with WebAssembly. It is technically possible now to use other languages with WebAssembly, and there have been experimental implementations to work with the format. However, these languages cannot currently achieve the ideal performance, memory utilization, or DOM integration, Wagner said. As a result, WebAssembly will likely be enhanced to support languages using higher level garbage collection, such as Java, C#, and Python. “We’ve been discussing adding direct support for WebAssemby in a way that plugs into the garbage collector that’s already in the browser,” Wagner said.

Debunking the myths around agile development

By all indications, agile is helping enterprises around the world succeed. For the past five years, the top three cited benefits of agile include: manage changing priorities (cited by 87 percent), team productivity (cited by 85 percent), and project visibility (cited by 84 percent). Still, projects still have interdependent tasks and the percentage complete must still be tracked and reported to completion. A project is still a project, a deliverable is still a deliverable, and as such project management principles still apply. So myth one debunked: Agile does not mean you don’t project manage. Agile means you project manage constantly, to the very heartbeat of the development teams. Keep your basic project management practices as your guiding principles. And stop thinking that the scale or complexity is new or unique.

UCaaS vs. CPaaS: Which supports external communications better?

Any cloud communications-as-a-service system -- whether it's a UCaaS or CPaaS platform -- will usually be better than on-premises options for external communications, because the cloud itself resides outside corporate premises. The cloud-based system naturally communicates across network boundaries. At times, though, cloud-based systems may falter for internal communications, especially if the network or IT is highly restrictive. If this is the case, an on-premises approach is probably a better option. But, with on-premises networks, external communications can be challenging. In general, internal communications can work better with UC services, whether it's a UCaaS platform or on premises. UC is designed, developed and deployed to handle internal communications.

Quote for the day:

"He that is overcautious will accomplish little." -- Friedrich Schiller

Daily Tech Digest - August 20, 2017

How to Prepare for the Next Cloud Outage

Preparing for a cloud service outage isn't much different than getting ready for any system failure, according to HyTrust's Krishnan. No matter the nature of the network, there will always be three pinch points, or "vectors of control," that managers need to master. The first is scope, which is the number of objects each admin or script is authorized to act upon at a particular time. Using the Microsoft outage as an example, a deployment task's scope would limit the number of containers it could operate on at one time. The second control vector is privilege, which controls what type of action an admin or script (task) can take on an object. An example of a privilege restriction would be a task that is allowed to launch a container but not to destroy one. 

A former Marine cyber warrior explains how hackers will transform the face of modern combat

Cyber warfare is already used for such things as disabling air defense systems, but these attacks will grow dramatically in range and capability in the coming years. Thanks to the rise of Internet of Things technologies, which are now being adapted into everything from dams and power grids to commercial trucks, US cyber warfare teams will have an abundance of targets at their disposal.  It’s not hard to imagine future scenarios in which US forces use cyber warfare tactics to sabotage power plants, telecommunications infrastructure and other critical facilities, either through coordinated remote attacks or on-site Special Forces teams with embedded cyber warriors. We’ve already seen this to some extent with Stuxnet, Flame and other malware which were designed to disrupt the nuclear capabilities of adversarial states.

Merging big data and AI is the next step

Businesses can now process massive volumes of data which was not possible before due to technical limitations. Previously, they had to buy powerful and expensive hardware and software. The widespread availability of data is the most important paradigm shift that has fostered a culture of innovation in the industry. The availability of massive datasets has corresponded with remarkable breakthroughs in machine learning, mainly due to the emergence of better, more sophisticated AI algorithms. ... Previously, chatbots had trouble identifying certain phrases or regional accents, dialects or nuances. In fact, most chatbots get stumped by the simplest of words and expressions, such as mistaking “Queue” for “Q” and so on. With the union of big data and AI however, we can see new breakthroughs in the way virtual agents can self-learn.

Artificial intelligence is coming to medicine — don’t be afraid

Artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing us to the precipice of an enormous societal shift. We are collectively worrying about what it will mean for people. As a doctor, I’m naturally drawn to thinking about AI’s impact on the practice of medicine. I’ve decided to welcome the coming revolution, believing that it offers a wonderful opportunity for increases in productivity that will transform health care to benefit everyone. Groundbreaking AI models have bested humans in complex reasoning games, like the recent victory of Google’s AlphaGo AI over the human Go champ. What does that mean for medicine? To date, most AI solutions have solved minor human issues — playing a game or helping order a box of detergent. The innovations need to matter more. The true breakthroughs and potential of AI lie in real advancements in human productivity.

How Do You Get Data into Your Company DNA?

How Do You Get Data into Your Company DNA? 5 Strategies for Spreading Data Management Best Practices Throughout Your Organization It would be nice if sound data management required nothing more than hiring great data scientists or having the right data tools. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. Sure, having data experts on your team and a great data management toolset in your organization’s portfolio of IT resources forms the foundation for leveraging value from your data. But making the very most of your data requires help from everyone in your organization. That doesn’t mean every employee needs to get a stats Ph.D. It does, however, require you to implement some organization-wide policies and cultural values in order to brick smart data practices into your entire organization.

Gartner Predicts Information Security Spending To Reach $93 Billion In 2018

The Gartner report suggests that security services will continue to be the fastest growing segment – especially IT outsourcing, consulting and implementation services. However, hardware support services will see growth slowing, due to the adoption of virtual appliances, public cloud and software as a service (SaaS) editions of security solutions, which reduces the need for attached hardware support overall. ... “If you look at the continuous and almost unstoppable acceleration in breaches, I think these estimates are vastly underestimated. If you take a look at the aggregate losses due to data breaches in the last five years and project those forward, the growth rate would be at least an order of magnitude above what the spend estimates are to stop these breaches. ...”

How to make agile work for the C-suite

At the enterprise level, think of all of your corporate initiatives as a backlog just like how software developers think of future product features as a backlog. See your leadership team as employing an agile software-development framework that prioritizes the backlog based on importance, then tackles each task in sequence until they’re all completed. Reprioritize your enterprise backlog when new initiatives are added and supplement the traditional annual strategic-planning cycle with real-time, issue-based planning, so resources can be allocated more dynamically. Continuous planning can ensure that resources are being directed toward evolving priorities and away from initiatives that have grown less important.

How IT became business problem solvers at Level 3 Communications

It’s important that we as an IT organization understand that entire journey, since unlike any other organization at Level 3, we are involved from quote to cash. Each step in the journey may be unique, but the reality is that they all build upon each other. In IT, we see the steel thread and the levers we can use to improve the experience. There used to be a time in IT when we would say to our business partners: “Don’t tell us the how; tell us the what.” We are beyond that now; we don’t wait for the “what.” Our job is to bring the “what” to our business partners. For example, members of my team were looking at how the business was processing orders. They found a way to aggregate multiple orders, which made the process much simpler. They came up with that themselves, and brought it to the operations group, where the solution was well received.

Australia Aims to Regulate Bitcoin Exchanges

When we speak about casinos and betting in Australia, it is important to note that the country is now in the process of changing its gambling regulation regulation. The results of the amended regulation have already been felt, quite a few gambling companies have exited the market and more are expected to stop operating in the country within the coming weeks. Consequently, more severe regulations in the bitcoin space will assist Australian officials in keeping the industry compliant. Next to this, it is a common knowledge that the bitcoin is a main currency for various illegal activities: ransoms, drug deals, weapons and more. Once the exchanges get regulated, illegal transactions will not be as frequent, at least on the territory of Australia. However, the above use cases are not the main rationale behind regulating the bitcoin exchanges in Australia.

Q&A on the Book Stupidity Paradox

Many organisations encourage people to think of themselves as inspirational leaders. But this often alienates their followers and means they ignore the nuts and bolts of getting a task done. The second is an attachment to branding. We witnessed military organisations which were more keen on running rebranding exercises than running military exercises. The third driver of functional stupidity is mindless imitation. Often large organisations copy others for no better reason than they want to up with the latest fashion. This leads firms to implement new initiatives which are inappropriate for them. The fourth is pointless policies and procedures which are thoughtlessly followed. Many professionals spend more time ticking off boxes than actually doing their job.

Quote for the day:

"If you want people to to think, give them intent, not instruction." -- David Marque

Daily Tech Digest - August 19, 2017

Oracle doesn't want Java EE any more

Oracle plans to explore its desire to offload Java EE with the open source community, licensees, and candidate foundations. Although Oracle has not named possible candidates, the Apache Software Foundation and the Eclipse Foundation are likely possibilities. Oracle has already donated the OpenOffice productivity suite and the NetBeans IDE to Apache, and the Hudson integration server to Eclipse. Like Java, all three technologies—OpenOffice, NetBeans, and Hudson—were acquired in Oracle’s 2010 acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Eclipse is ready to take on Java EE if chosen. “We believe that moving Java EE to a vendor-neutral open source foundation would be great for both the platform and the community,” said Eclipse Executive Director Mike Milinkovich. “If asked to so, the Eclipse Foundation would be pleased to serve as the host organization.”

Next step in the content evolution

A recent ASG-commissioned technology adoption profile study, “Today’s Enterprise Content Demands a Modern Approach” by Forrester Consulting found 95% were using more than one system to manage enterprise content, including 31% using five or more systems. This leads to disjointed information and difficult access. Lack of flexibility is therefore one clear shortcoming of existing approaches to ECM. Organisations want to invest in systems and technology that allow them to grow and adapt to changing markets but traditional ECM often hinders their progress. Further, 82% of respondents reported an increase in unstructured data in the form of business content, like office documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and rich media. They are also managing transactional content from outside the organisation. Traditional ECM systems struggle to cope with this level of growth due to another key shortcoming – their inability to scale.

How Blockchain Technology Is 'Disrupting' The Art Economy As We Know It

The technology that supports Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and is now being used to decentralize other industries as well. Given that the blockchain is a distributed ledger and completely secure and transparent, users are able to be connected to each other without the centralized hub of a corporation. Simply put, management has been replaced by machines. In this new decentralized world, art has been one of the first and greatest use cases. Artists who otherwise would have been forced to use a large-scale centralized company to distribute their work are now able to distribute work in a decentralized way, and to receive rewards for their creations without profit-skimming corporate structures in place. And, are there entities seeking to disrupt matters, although whether they can succeed in their endeavours is another matter.

How a data cache can solve your JavaScript performance problems

Service workers can be unpredictable. They can generate their own responses, and their response mechanism is not baked into the browser. "There are no caching semantics baked into service workers, unless the developer adds them in," Weiss said. If a service worker is not able to create a response, it uses the fetch API to look further up the stack. At the network layer, the application then checks the HTTP cache, which uses very strict caching semantics. HTTP cache is also persistent, which allows it to save resources to disk for later use. However, it is considerably slower than MemoryCache, which operates at RAM speeds. If data is not found in HTTP cache, the browser makes one last check for the Push Cache available as part of HTTP/2. But this is more complicated, since different browsers have different rules for managing Push Cache.

Demystifying AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning

Deep learning is the name for multilayered neural networks, which are networks composed of several “hidden layers” of nodes between the input and output. There are many variations of neural networks, which you can learn more about on this neural network cheat sheet. Improved algorithms, GPUs and massively parallel processing (MPP), have given rise to networks with thousands of layers. Each node takes input data and a weight and outputs a confidence score to the nodes in the next layer, until the output layer is reached where the error of the score is calculated. With backpropagation inside of a process called gradient descent, the errors are sent back through the network again and the weights are adjusted improving the model. This process is repeated thousands of times, adjusting a model’s weights in response to the error it produces, until the error can’t be reduced any more.

Pentagon eyes bitcoin blockchain technology as cybersecurity shield

The key to blockchain’s security: Any changes made to the database are immediately sent to all users to create a secure, established record. With copies of the data in all users’ hands — even if some users are hacked — the overall database remains safe. This tamper-proof, decentralized feature has made blockchain increasingly popular beyond its original function supporting the bitcoin digital transactions. Many cutting-edge finance firms, for instance, have used blockchain to expedite processes and cut costs without compromising security. In Estonia, home of the video phone pioneer Skype, officials have reported using blockchain to track national health records. In Russia, experiments are underway to integrate blockchain into the general payment economy.

Tech breakthroughs megatrend

Collectively, those driving factors are forcing big questions to the surface - questions that C-suite executives themselves are asking. To help provide answers, we tracked more than 150 discrete technologies, and have developed a methodology to identify the most pertinent of those technologies;  ... The specific technologies most impactful to a company can - and likely will - vary, of course, but when we analysed for technologies with the most cross-industry and global impact over the coming years, eight technologies emerged. They are at varying degrees of maturity; some have been around for years but are finally hitting their stride, while others are maturing rapidly. None will be surprising to CEOs; they are regular subjects of often breathless coverage in popular newspaper coverage.

Hacker claims to have decrypted Apple's Secure Enclave

"Apple's job is to make [SEP] as secure as possible," xerub said. "It's a continuous process ... there's no actual point at which you can say 'right now it's 100% secure.'" Decrypting the SEP's firmware is huge for both security analysts and hackers. It could be possible, though xerub says it's very hard, to watch the SEP do its work and reverse engineer its process, gain access to passwords and fingerprint data, and go even further toward rendering any security relying on the SEP completely ineffective. "Decrypting the firmware itself does not equate to decrypting user data," xerub said. There's a lot of additional work that would need to go into exploiting decrypted firmware—in short it's probably not going to have a massive impact. An Apple spokesperson, who wished to remain unidentified, stated that the release of the SEP key doesn't directly compromise customer data.

Businesses need to talk about the cloud

Performance issues are a commonly cited bugbear following a cloud migration – with research finding organisations experience a problem at least once every five days. If the application in question is business critical, this could be at serious detriment to the organisation. From high network latency to application processing delays – poor cloud performance costs businesses both time and money, and greatly affects the end-user experience. But for many organisations, simply understanding where a performance issue occurs in the first place, is a challenge. In the ‘old days’ of on-premise IT infrastructure, life was simpler. Organisations could, for example, quickly identify a misbehaving server in their data centre and initiate a fix. Today, the picture is not that straightforward, particularly with the increased uptake of public cloud services, because ‘your’ server is now in someone else’s data centre.

All ‘things’ connected, the ‘I’ in the IoT – a closer look. Part three

Which technology or network type will prevail in the future is (very) hard to predict. In fact, there’s no real reason why they should be mutual exclusive, they don’t have to be. The fact that LTE networks have such a broad range globally and that they can also be used to provide NB-IOT and LTE-M networks with relative ease could oppose a threat to LPWAN networks. Especially when companies like Verizon and AT&T are the ones pushing the technology. Though the same can be said for LoRa as well, companies such as IBM and Cisco are showing immense interest, as are CSP’s like Swisscom and KPN. On the other hand, with the LTE/cellular companies focussing on the high-end market, so to speak, and the LPWAN providers focussing on the lower to mid-market range, mainly in the form of sensor based data transport, there could be room for both.

Quote for the day:

"The desire of knowledge, like the thirst for riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it." -- Laurence Sterne