Tech Bytes - Daily Digest: October 20, 2016
AI: The greatest threat in human history, Organizational culture of fear & innovation assassination, Big data is eating the world - but it is not eating the data scientist, Why poor cyber hygiene invites risk, Stupid encryption mistakes criminals make and more.
Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence (AI) could be the greatest disaster in human history, unless humans learn to mitigate the risks posed. Of these looming threats, Hawking suggested the rise of AI could lead to the creation devastating autonomous weapons and new oppressive methods of controlling the masses. Perhaps the most distressing point from Hawking’s speech was his notion that machines could develop a will of their own. To this, a Terminator-like scenario is not inconceivable. Humans make autonomous weapons for the next stage of combat, a global autonomous arms race beings, the machines learn to think, humans get wiped out. This may sound exaggerated, but it does mimic to some extent the speech Hawking delivered, if AI’s advancement goes unchecked.
With semantic-based data modeling in a smart data lake, all your data can be neatly organized using business models that the user defines, based on human-readable, standardized terms that allow you to link and contextualize information regardless of where it came from. And all this smart data can then be used to automatically create data extracts, ETL, and ELT jobs for quick and efficient analysis. Because the data model has been created with a semantic approach, that model can be queried endlessly. Analysts can ask the model where data came from, what it means, and what conservation happened to that data. Bringing the data together from various sources, combining it together in a database using a customized domain model, and then conducting analytics on that combined data set creates a huge benefit and freedom to analysts, and to the organization.
There are innovation-obliterating assassins lurking in all parts of your organization. Frighteningly, the biggestinnovation assassins are often wearing a disguise. So many high-level executives will earnestly (and with a straight face) wax poetically about how important it is to change the organizational culture, catalyze innovative thinking throughout all ranks of the company, and dismantle the power and comfort of the status quo. ... So why the discrepancy between what such executives say and what they actually do? They typically aren’t “lying” for the sake of deceit or other callous intentions; but instead, their self-contradictory statements and behaviors are usually due to fear. As stated in Robert’s Rules of Innovation II, “Sometimes, it is pure fear. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of criticism. Fear of change. Fear of being terminated.”
As for a takeaway for banks, Blumberg says, “Banks need to adapt, adopt or hasta la vista, baby. Banks cannot continue to do what has made them successful for the last 50 or 100 years. We are at a fundamental changing point because of big data, cloud infrastructure, mobile telephony, social media, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. That combination of new technologies have unleashed incredible power from the bottom up. Yes, some of it is used for hedge funds for sophisticated trading, but the business-to-consumer portion of our portfolio is focused on helping to level the playing field, helping Joe Lunch Pail do better in their finances. Traditionally, that’s only been available for the wealthy. Fintech makes it cheaper and easier to distribute those tools of algorithms, that advantage, to average people.”
"People ask, 'What's the benefit?'" Ranta added. "For someone who's not tech savvy, they have probably tried it once and said, 'What's the big deal with this? Opening up my wallet and swiping my card wasn't a big deal to me, so why do I need to get rid of that habit? Instead of relying on some weird, wireless thing -- screw that. I have a physical card that I can put in a terminal." Not everybody feels that way. The biggest users of mobile wallets are under age 35, according to various surveys,including one in May by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Smartphone users will pay for goods over the internet or through an app without entering a store, but in-store mobile payments are not as popular. "We're still at the early-adopter stage," said Bryan Yeager, an analyst at eMarketer.
There are warning signs that a colocation provider may not meet its SLA. For example, unexpected or frequent changes to the SLA can suggest that the provider is struggling to meet responsibilities. Internal company instabilities, such as acquisitions and mergers, can also indicate that an SLA will change or service a larger customer base. Use SLA monitoring tools, such as IDERA Uptime Infrastructure Monitor or Mindarray Systems' Minder. But first, talk to your colocation provider to make sure these tools can integrate with your provider's APIs or monitoring hooks. You can also test colocation services by occasionally triggering their support function to determine response time and quality.
The missing piece is visionary leadership. McKinsey predicts that by 2018 there will be a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with analytical experience and a staggering 1.5 million shortage of managers with adequate skills to make critical big data decisions. Hiring a couple of PhDs will reap a few rewards, but without direction and support from the top, the highly paid data scientists may end up being glorified (and overpaid) analysts, who make a few SQL queries followed by the odd Tableau visualisation. Management needs to clearly define the key business questions that need to be answered and create roadmaps for the medium to long term – showing what software needs to be built or bought, and who needs to be hired along the way.
Despite a growing awareness of the threats that target them, some organizations still aren’t practicing some of the fundamental steps of cybersecurity to ensure the level of resiliency needed to endure current threats. It is imperative for organizations to prioritize addressing the problem of aging infrastructure and systems. ... The time has come for organizations to realize that they must move away from products that are no longer supported and can’t be upgraded to meet today’s security challenges. Modern cybersecurity is about risk management - that is, eliminating and mitigating risks where possible, and knowingly accepting those that remain. Poor cyber hygiene — not patching, keeping outdated solutions in place, etc. - puts the overall resilience of an organization into jeopardy.
Writing secure code can be challenging, and implementing cryptography correctly in software is just plain hard. Even experienced developers can get tripped up. And if your goal is to swindle people quickly, not to wow them with the quality of your software, there are sure to be serious crypto mistakes in your code. ... Malware authors may provide significant lessons in how not to implement cryptography. Such was the upshot of research by Check Point’s Yaniv Balmas and Ben Herzog at the recent Virus Bulletin conference in Denver. Malware authors may be more likely to insert crypto doozies in their code than developers working on legitimate software because they may not care as much about code quality or design, said Balmas and Herzog.
According to the cybersecurity audit report, the USSS has little room for error in its primary mission of "protecting the president, other dignitaries and events, and investigating financial [crimes] and cybercrimes to help preserve the integrity of the nation's economy." "USSS has much work to do to make IT a priority. This requires establishing and implementing an IT governance framework that addresses, at a minimum, the IT organizational and management deficiencies identified in this report," the report read. "It also requires that USSS leadership fully understand and address the potential for insider risks, not only from system administrators and inadequately managed IT contractors, but also from employees and business partners."
Quote for the day:
“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” -- Jack Welch