Daily Tech Digest - February 22, 2022

Partner Across Teams to Create a Cybersecurity Culture

Just because a software engineer doesn’t work on the security team doesn’t mean that security isn’t their responsibility. In addition to the standard security training, you can further empower your engineering teams by training and encouraging them to think like hackers. I was fortunate enough to work for a company some time ago that scheduled annual competitions with prizes and bragging rights. These competitions served as security training and engaged us in a series of engineering puzzles that included SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS), cryptography and social engineering. ... Even with well-implemented training programs and a dedicated cadre of security-minded engineers building your applications, there is still plenty for your security engineers to work on. The shared-responsibility model will reduce the risk of successful phishing attacks or other malicious activity, but it won’t remove it entirely. Ideally, security teams will move from a place where they are constantly fighting fires to one where they can engage in strategic initiatives to further improve security for the organization, automate risk detection wherever possible, and prepare your organization for the future.

Agile Doesn’t Work Without Psychological Safety

Soon after implementing agile, many organizations revert to the default position of worshiping at the altar of technical processes and tools, because cultural considerations seem abstract and difficult to operationalize. It’s easier to pay lip service to the human side and then move on to scrumming, sprinting, kanbaning, and kaizening because these processes serve as tangible, measurable, and observable indicators, giving the illusion of success and the appearance of developing agile at scale. Begin your agile transformation by framing agile as a cultural rather than a technical or mechanical implementation. In doing so, be careful not to approach culture as a workstream. A workstream is defined as the progressive completion of tasks required to finish a project. When we approach culture as a workstream within the context of agile, we classify it as something that can be completed. Culture cannot be completed. Yet I see agile teams attempting to project-manage it as part of the work breakdown structure, as if it has a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn’t.

Inside the U.K. lab that connects brains to quantum computers

While BCIs and quantum computers are undoubtedly promising technologies emerging at the same point in history, the question is why bring them together – which is exactly what the consortium of researchers from the U.K.’s University of Plymouth, Spain’s University of Valencia and University of Seville, Germany’s Kipu Quantum, and China’s Shanghai University are seeking to do. Technologists love nothing more than mashing together promising concepts or technologies in the belief that, when united, they will represent more than the sum of their parts. Sometimes this works gloriously. As the venture capitalist Andrew Chen describes in his book The Cold Start Problem, Instagram leveraged the emergence of camera-equipped smartphones and the simultaneous powerful network effects of social media to become one of the fastest-growing apps in history. Taking two must-have technologies and combining them doesn’t always work, though. Apple CEO Tim Cook once quipped that “you can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but, you know, those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.”

Three ways COVID-19 is changing how banks adapt to digital technology

Bank leaders face the difficult task of balancing the traditional approach to risk management with the need to respond quickly to a crisis that has created massive changes to their operating environment. Criminal cyber activity, including fraud and phishing attacks, has increased as more employees work remotely. However, as one participant said: “We have not yet seen the massive increase in sophisticated, advance persistent threat cyber attacks that we normally associate with events like these.” As banks shift from crisis mode, their boards need to address new emerging risks, such as video and voice communication surveillance with everyone using Zoom and other platforms, data security controls for the use of personal equipment, and cases of third and fourth parties falling victim to cyber issues. ... As the economic impacts of the pandemic become clearer, banks are updating risk models and stress scenarios in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve. However, uncertainty in the operating environment continues to pose challenges. A lack of regulatory harmonization may further complicate benchmarking among peers across countries, though there is hope that this will improve soon.

The threat of quantum computing to security infrastructure

The report states:”The encryption technologies that are securing Canada’s financial systems today will one day become obsolete. If we do nothing, the financial data that underpins Canada’s economy will inevitably become more vulnerable to cyber criminals.” In the US, as noted above, the National Security Agency took an early lead in identifying the perceived threat. On January 19, 2022, an action from the US president came public. The White House issued a “Memorandum on Improving the Cybersecurity of National Security, Department of Defense and Intelligence Community Systems.” The document shows the urgency needed to address perceived major threats. It outlines major actions to avoid security lapses that would be created by quantum computers targeting critical secret data and related infrastructure. It also identifies the management responsibilities in the various agencies to implement these measure within a matter of months. This perceived threat to existing cybersecurity will generate a great deal of private industry and bring well-funded new companies into the business of transition to new security solutions.

AI fairness in banking: the next big issue in tech

“People want to be treated fairly by an agent whether artificial or not. The difference for a lot of applications is that people are not aware of the full extent of the decision making and the statistical regularities across a larger population where some of these issues can arise. There is a lot of cynicism around these decisions.” He adds that there are technical as well as organisational solutions that financial services providers need to apply. This, combined with policies of transparency about the processes in place all combine to provide an overall strategy. He adds: “The first thing is to have processes of regularly reporting on and examining and making corrections to data that is used to train models as well as to test them. “So, a simple test is representation of people that belong to legally protected categories by race, age, gender, ethnic origin and religious status to determine if there is enough data to represent each of these groups with accurate models. In addition, these is a need to determine whether there are other inputs to the model or features that could be corelated with these protected classes and have a potentially adverse or discriminatory impact on the output of the model.”

4 common misunderstandings about enterprise open source software

It might seem natural to download community-supported bits from the Internet rather than purchase an integrated product. This is especially the case when the community projects are relatively simple and self-contained or if you have reasons to develop independent expertise or do extensive customization. (Although working with a vendor to get needed changes into the upstream project is a possible alternative in the latter case.) However, if the software isn’t a differentiating capability for your business, hiring the right highly-skilled engineers is neither easy nor cheap. There’s also the ongoing support burden if your downloaded projects turn into a fork of the upstream community project. And if you don’t want them to, you’ll need to factor in the time to work in the upstream projects to get needed features added. There’s also a lot of complexity in categories like enterprise open source container platforms in the cloud-native space. Download Kubernetes? You’re just getting started. How about monitoring, distributed tracing, CI/CD, serverless, security scanning, and all the other features you’ll want in a complete platform? 

Leadership when the chips are down

Particularly noteworthy is the obsessive nature of Shackleton’s encounter with a territory so resistant to accurate perception. We risk bathos to say that the business landscape presents challenges on a par with the South Pole, yet the perceptual difficulties posed by Antarctica offer clear parallels for executives and entrepreneurs. The southernmost continent is unpredictable, unstable, and unforgiving. Compasses don’t behave normally. Much of what appears terra firma is actually floating ice, and deadly crevasses lurk under the snow. Snow blindness, a painful effect of the dazzling surroundings, can make vision itself impossible. ... Shackleton’s failings as a manager were manifest in his planning for the Heart of the Antarctic expedition. For a trip on foot of 1,720 miles to and from the Pole, his four-man unit brought food for just 91 days of hard labor, high altitude, and mind-numbing cold. His return instructions to the crew of the Nimrod, the ship that dropped off his party, were impossibly vague. 

How can banks remain relevant in the fastest growing digital market in the world?

While bolting on a digital banking system may be a quick fix for incumbents, the only way for FIs to truly keep up with the pace of change and future-proof their business is to invest in modern architecture which offers them the flexibility required to develop and deploy products and services at speed. Built with advanced customisation at their core, modern platforms enable FIs to approach product development with a different mindset to those struggling with legacy systems. As a result, FIs benefit from faster time-to-market, being able to scale up innovative digital operations, offer new products or services, and respond to ever-changing market requirements much faster. Shifting consumer behaviours, coupled with intensified competition, is making it increasingly difficult for banks in the APAC region to remain relevant. They are fighting not only to keep their loyal customer base, but stay ahead of the curve by offering customers the advanced digital services they require. Only by ensuring they have a comprehensive, future-proof system in place, underpinning their operations, will they truly be able to embrace the digital future.

Sustaining Agile Transformation – Our Experience

The organization needs to rethink and create a career roadmap for the Agile roles like Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Developers. The organization must build and enhance the self-paced learning experience, embed learning experience, develop role-based training, develop new learning areas, etc. For certain key roles, the organizations can focus on establishing academies such as Scrum Master Academy. This will ensure there is continuous learning and flow of trained Scrum Masters as and when needed. Coaching skills should be taught and embedded in Agile leaders and change agents. Ensure Leaders are trained and embrace foundational values and principles. Establishing and retaining a Central team such as a lean CoE will be very beneficial to oversee the transformation and support when needed. The organization can deliberate on the establishment of the CoE at divisional or organization levels. Collaborative forums like the CoPs, Guilds, Chapters, etc. should be established and run successfully. 

Quote for the day:

"Leaders must see the dream in their mind before they will accomplish the dream with their team." -- Orrin Woodward

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