Daily Tech Digest - March 09, 2017

Google: Democratisation of AI tech to ‘greatly improve’ quality of life

The technologies stand to have a transformational impact on the way processes are carried out in the financial services, education, manufacturing, healthcare, retail and agriculture industries, to name a few – if organisations in these sectors can access it. “As technology reaches more people, its impact becomes more profound. This is why the next step for AI must be democratisation, by lowering the barriers to entry and making it available to the largest possible community of developers, users and enterprises,” she said. “It requires rare expertise and resources few companies can afford on their own. This is why cloud is the ideal platform for AI.” Particularly, said Fei-Fei Li, when it comes to drawing on the global reach of the Google Cloud Platform to put AI technologies in the hands of everyday users all over the world.

Say hello to the Robo-bankers: how AI is affecting banking and finance

“The development in the basic technologies, from computer processing and data storage to communication, is allowing more sophisticated technology to advance,” says Marcos Monteiro, CEO of Veezoo and participant in the inaugural Kickstart Accelerator based in Zurich. “So we have AI now able to process all this data and come up with better predictions – giving companies more data and more information.” “Companies have a lot of data but they still find it very difficult to get the information that they need. Our goal is to democratise data inside a company and make it easier for everybody to get the information they need to work.” ... When speaking at the recent RegTech Futures summit in Amsterdam, Sybenetix’s R&D president, Paul Young, advised companies to treat AI as a specialist team member: “A supervised AI approach combined with expert domain knowledge is the key to supporting people, not replacing them.”

GE Favors SaaS For Non-Differentiated Apps, Has Big Plans For IoT 

The more SaaS we can buy the better off we are, especially for non-differentiated applications like HR, scheduling, administrative, bill paying, taxes, compliance, customs, etc. The world can’t get to SaaS fast enough for us. The core applications that make GE different -- how we do field services better, how we sell better, how we do inventory, planning and predictive analysis better -- that stuff we don’t want as SaaS because there is differentiation there for us. Our software and our analytics allow us to do better than our competitors. That’s where we invest. Our feedback to the vendors that want to come in and sell us infrastructure as a service … skip that. We can already run stuff pretty cheap. We’ve got a great cloud strategy and we’ll move when we need to. Give me SaaS, that’s what I really want.

The Disconnected Digital World

Ironically, the continuous stream of digital information itself can create a dissociative effect. Digital feeds such as social media, email, enterprise messaging and collaborative communities inundate individuals to the point where they become info-blind. People are unable to recognize the important slivers of information within the digital landscape before them. How many helpful informational messages are sent in your organization each day, week and month? Are personnel now in the habit of simply filing these away or deleting them before absorbing what may be an important security item? In the same way that startups and DevOps talk about the minimum viable product (MVP), as described in “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses,” by Eric Ries, perhaps we need something akin to a minimum viable digital insight for security.

Securing DNS against threats from the Internet of Things

The simplicity with which DDoS attacks can be generated using DNS infrastructure is what makes them so concerning. After taking control of a system, hackers will use a spoof IP address of their target to send queries to named servers across the internet which, in turn, will send back responses. The attacker is able to amplify the query to return the largest possible response, often by employing a botnet of thousands of computers or, in the examples above, connected devices, to incapacitate the target. However, the responsibility for these attacks needn’t always lay with the owners of the connected devices. It isn’t always clear whether a particular device is vulnerable. The name on the label isn’t always the name of the manufacturer, for example, and these manufacturers tend not to make it easy – or in some cases, possible – to change the passwords on these devices.

Manage SELinux policies for better troubleshooting, access controls

Security-Enhanced Linux is an advanced access control mechanism built into most modern Linux distributions. With Security-Enhanced Linux in place, administrators use policies to better manage security. But these policies are key to not only the security of a system, but to its functionality. For example, Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) allows applications to query a policy; admins to control process initialization, inheritance and program execution; and admins to manage files, file systems, directories, sockets, open file descriptors, messaging interfaces and network interfaces. It also allows for in-place policy changes -- the ability to alter SELinux policies without rebooting the system. SELinux works by implementing mandatory access control (MAC) on top of discretionary access control (DAC) to protect systems from intrusion.

Open Rights Group calls for control of spies’ use of zero-days

“While targeted surveillance is a legitimate aim, we need to know that government regulation of this area is sufficient,” said Open Rights Group campaigner Ed Johnson-Williams “From what we learnt during the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act, it appears that the ‘creation’ of techniques is not really regulated at all,” he wrote in a blog post. The leaked CIA documents indicate that US intelligence agencies are working with the UK to stockpile vulnerabilities that can be used on Microsoft Windows, Mac and Linux computers ,as well as iOS and Android smartphones and smart TVs. In the light of the fact that many of the vulnerabilities disclosed came from UK intelligence agencies, Johnson-Williams said the UK government has serious questions to answer

A pragmatic approach to master data management

Some organizations are drawing upon their existing resources to handle master data management, often calling upon employees to manually clean and migrate data. This method tends to be prone to human error, causing further complications and does not scale well as business needs change. Many organizations have implemented specific data management tools to aid with integration and cleansing. Integration tools, however, do not always support large amounts of data and are limited in the types of files and data sources they can manipulate. Another strategy implemented by organizations, despite common understanding that it is a poor solution, is point-to-point integration. Point-to-point integration, commonly referred to as custom code, is a method in which skilled developers write custom code and implement it within each specific endpoint in order to create connectivity.

Hackers Exploit Apache Struts Vulnerability To Compromise Corporate Web Servers

On Monday, the Apache Struts developers fixed a high-impact vulnerability in the framework's Jakarta Multipart parser. Hours later, an exploit for the flaw appeared on Chinese-language websites and this was almost immediately followed by real-world attacks, according to researchers from Cisco Systems. The vulnerability is very easy to exploit and allows attackers to execute system commands with the privileges of the user running the web server process. If the web server is configured to run as root, the system is completely compromised, but executing code as a lower-privileged user is also a serious security threat. What's even worse is that the Java web application doesn't even need to implement file upload functionality via the Jakarta Multipart parser in order to be vulnerable.

How to start building your next-generation operating model

Technology is a core element of any next-generation operating model, and it needs to support a much faster and more flexible deployment of products and services. However, companies often have trouble understanding how to implement these new technologies alongside legacy systems or are hampered by outdated systems that move far too slowly. To address these issues, leaders are building modular architecture that supports flexible and reusable technologies. Business-process management (BPM) tools and externally facing channels, for example, can be shared across many if not all customer journeys. Leading technology teams collaborate with business leaders to assess which systems need to move faster. This understanding helps institutions decide how to architect their technology

Quote for the day:

“Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.” -- Abraham Lincoln