Daily Tech Digest - February 28, 2017

FinTech unleashed: Why banks and FinTech have a love-hate relationship

Banks, asset managers, wealth advisors and insurance companies once competed only in their silos. While they still do today, they also face competition from non-traditional market players with new skills, funding sources, and approaches. In the prolonged low-interest rate environment, many have been driven to use cost containment as the key to success in a more complex regulatory environment. Others are scrambling for top line growth (both organically and through acquisition) in a search for new revenue opportunities. Getting back to technology, the nature of the FinTech narrative over the past few years has been evolving. As well, the pace of technology change continues to accelerate. Rapidly evolving advances in artificial intelligence across chatbots, robo-advisors, claims, underwriting, IoT and soon blockchain, add another layer of potential to further shake-up the traditional business model.


Ransomware Getting More Targeted, Expensive

“Actors engaging in this targeting strategy are also charging ransoms based on the number of host (or servers) infected,” the FBI warned. “Additionally, recent victims who have been infected with these types of ransomware variants have not been provided the decryption keys for all their files after paying the ransom, and some have been extorted for even more money after payment.” According to the FBI, this recent technique of targeting host servers and systems “could translate into victims paying more to get their decryption keys, a prolonged recovery time, and the possibility that victims will not obtain full decryption of their files.” ... “People behind these scams seem to be setting different rates for different countries,” Abrams said. “Victims in the U.S. generally pay more than people in, say, Spain.


Digitization inches towards the mainstream

Most CIOs joke that their transformations are never truly complete as they embrace emerging technologies, including internet of things, artificial intelligence and blockchain, but some sectors are further along than others. Media and entertainment (62 percent), along with retail (55 percent) and high-tech (54 percent) tend to be ahead in their digitization efforts compared to sectors such as consumer packaged goods (31 percent), automotive (32 percent) and financial services (39 percent). Industries hovering in the digital media include healthcare (51 percent), telecom (44 percent) and professional services (42 percent). McKinsey also found that digitization levels vary by business operations. For example, 49 percent of survey respondents say customer-focused areas such as marketing and distribution are primary focuses of their digital strategies.


Stanford experts urge healthcare professionals to harness power of people’s mindsets

“It should be about designing a formal curriculum for medical school that weaves all of this throughout the training,” Leibowitz said. “So it’s not just mentioned in one or two classes or taught for one semester and then forgotten about.” The experts also called for a reform of standard randomized trials in the healthcare system. When examining the effects of a new drug, researchers should include natural conditions, which don’t use placebos, alongside conditions that include altered social context and mindset. This, Crum said, will help researchers understand how beliefs, labels and context can help magnify or reduce the effects of the drug and treatment. These reforms, however, would require additional rigorous research that builds more scientific evidence for the importance of the effects of social context and mindsets, they said.


IT orgs enlist startups to address container security concerns

Startups have begun to make a name for themselves with IT organizations, as their products address container security concerns. Network-based attacks and exploits on IT infrastructure aren't new, but container technology, popularized by Docker, demands a new way to address time-honored problems. For example, containers spin up and disappear far faster and more often than VMs, so container security policies must follow an ever-changing infrastructure. Containers also tend to rely on overlay networks, which can be difficult to visualize with traditional network monitoring tools. ... It's not uncommon for startups to pop up around new technologies, according to analysts, but there are pros and cons to trusting a startup's product as part of an IT infrastructure. A big pro for many large IT organizations is that they can play a part in shaping the roadmap of an early-stage vendor, and possibly an entire market space.


Artificial Intelligence: Removing The Human From Fintech

If and when AI becomes more prevalent in the fintech industry, the same will happen. This is the thing with technology, as sometimes it can seem as if the new system has taken again, years or decades in fact, to create, but for customers to adopt and more importantly, trust, the technology, it could take even longer. Alongside this, with films like Ex Machina coming out and showing society what could potentially happen, as Pesenti alluded to, the negativity surrounding AI could result in the service taking even longer to be adopted. On the other hand, the millennial generation seem to welcome and encourage new technology - cellphone apps are a perfect example of how quickly new systems can enter the marketplace, so it could be said that this is the area in which AI could potentially blossom.


Google Shifts On Email Encryption Tool Leaving Its Fate Unclear

The tool is designed to work as an extension to Google's Chrome browser that uses the OpenPGP standard to encrypt emails, ensuring that only the recipient can read them -- and not the email provider or a government. The main goal of Google's project was to make OpenPGP easier to use. It was announced amid growing scrutiny over U.S. surveillance efforts following disclosures from noted leaker Edward Snowden. However, the search giant hasn't made the extension officially available on its Chrome Web Store. Instead, the project's source code has only been made available on GitHub, a software collaboration site, making the extension harder to install, especially for non-technical users.


20 Cybersecurity Startups To Watch In 2017

In spite of a slowdown in the overall funding activity from venture capital firms in 2016, the cybersecurity market continued to raise money at full steam. Last year saw the market break records in terms of funding deals, with Q3 tallying up to be the most active quarter for deals in cybersecurity in the last five years, according to CBInsights. That influx of money is driving innovation in a number of areas. Particularly notable market segments targeted by these firms include security for data centers and public cloud infrastructure, security orchestration and incident response tools, and third-party risk assessment tools. The following 20 firms are primarily early- to middle-stage startups, with a few more mature start-ups that have courted growth equity to change course or expand into a particularly hot new market segment. We believe these firms are worth watching due to several factors.


Are You Over-Confident on Cyber Security Risks?

"Consumers vastly underestimate cybersecurity threats and don't know how to identify, respond or protect themselves from future attacks," said David Blumberg, founder and managing partner of Blumberg Capital. "Naiveté and arrogance are a really dangerous combination. The cybersecurity landscape is complex and ever-evolving. Bad actors are constantly finding new ways to bypass security measures to infiltrate confidential systems and steal information or sabotage infrastructure. Even experts can miscalculate how to mitigate risks and existing security solutions are no longer enough, especially in areas such as IoT or cloud security. At Blumberg Capital, we support companies at the forefront of innovation in cybersecurity. We partner with innovative startups creating new ways to minimize cybersecurity threats and protect personal, business and government information."


A Tale Of Two User Experiences

Although the products and software are of undoubted quality, what’s remarkable is the fit and finish of the process the user goes through. The selection cycle and the actual purchase steps are streamlined, taking into account how busy I am.  Then there’s the initial product experience, which is the box. Apple’s process dictates that I feel it and appreciate it before I open it. Really. But the fact that they want me to go through this tactile experience is an indication of how seriously they take the first impressions of their product, and the implied quality of every part of the product experience. In subsequent steps, they want me to touch the product and use the UI in low-risk interactions that provide the most non-threatening training experience. Even though migrating the old phone’s data and configuration had built-in complexity and potential for blind alleys, it didn’t feel like it.



Quote for the day:


"Encourage the small steps in order to see the big steps achieved." -- Gordon Tredgold