Daily Tech Digest - July 23, 2022

How CIOs can unite sustainability and technology

CIOs must be proactive in progressing these organizational shifts, as business leaders will continue to lean on them to ensure company technologies are providing solutions without contributing to an environmental problem. While in years past this was not an active concern, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector has recently become a larger source of climate-related impact. Producing only 1.5% of CO2 in 2007, the industry has now risen to 4% today and will potentially reach 14% by 2040. Fortunately, CIOs can course-correct by focusing on three key areas: Net zero - Utilize green software practices that can reduce energy consumption; Trust - Build systems that protect privacy and are fair, transparent, robust, and accessible; and Governance - Make ESG the focus of technology, not an afterthought. As a first step in this transition, CIOs can begin assessing their organization’s technology through the lens of sustainability to ensure that those goals are being thought about in every facet of the business. In addition, they can connect with other leaders in the company to encourage greater emphasis and dialogue in cross-organization planning for technology solutions as they relate to sustainability targets.

Design patterns for asynchronous API communication

Request and response topics are more or less what they sound like:A client sends a request message through a topic to a consumer; The consumer performs some action, then returns a response message through a topic back to the consumer. This pattern is a little less generally useful than the previous two. In general, this pattern creates an orchestration architecture, where a service explicitly tells other services what to do. There are a couple of reasons why you might want to use topics to power this instead of synchronous APIs:You want to keep the low coupling between services that a message broker gives us. If the service that’s doing the work ever changes, the producing service doesn’t need to know about it, since it’s just firing a request into a topic rather than directly asking a service. The task takes a long time to finish, to the point where a synchronous request would often time out. In this case, you may decide to make use of the response topic but still make your request synchronously. You’re already using a message broker for most of your communication and want to make use of the existing schema enforcement and backwards compatibility that are automatically supported by the tools used with Kafka.

What is Data Gravity? AWS, Azure Pull Data to the Cloud

As enterprises create ever more data, they aggregate, store, and exchange this data, attracting progressively more applications and services to begin analyzing and processing their data. This “attraction” is caused, because these applications and services require higher bandwidth and/or lower latency access to the data. Therefore, as data accumulates in size, instead of pushing data over networks towards applications and services, “gravity” begins pulling applications and services to the data. This process repeats, which produces a compounding effect, meaning that as the scale of data grows, it becomes “heavier” and increasingly difficult to replicate and relocate. Ultimately, the “weight” of this data being created and stored generates a “force” that results in an inability to move the data, hence the term data gravity. Data gravity presents a fundamental problem for enterprises, which is the inability to move data at-scale. Consequently, data gravity impedes enterprise workflow performance, heightens security & regulatory concerns, and increases costs.

Windows 11 is getting a new security setting to block ransomware attacks

The new feature is rolling out to Windows 11 in a recent Insider test build, but the feature is also being backported to Windows 10 desktop and server, according to Dave Weston, vice president of OS Security and Enterprise at Microsoft. "Win11 builds now have a DEFAULT account lockout policy to mitigate RDP and other brute force password vectors. This technique is very commonly used in Human Operated Ransomware and other attacks – this control will make brute forcing much harder which is awesome!," Weston tweeted. Weston emphasized "default" because the policy is already an option in Windows 10 but isn't enabled by default. That's big news and is a parallel to Microsoft's default block on internet macros in Office on Windows devices, which is also a major avenue for malware attacks on Windows systems through email attachments and links. Microsoft paused the default internet macro block this month but will re-release the default macro block soon. The default block on untrusted macros is a powerful control against a technique that relied on end users being tricked into clicking an option to enable macros, despite warnings in Office against doing so.

Untangling Enterprise API Architecture with GraphQL

GraphQL is a query language that allows you to describe your data requirements in a more powerful and developer-friendly way than REST or SOAP. Its composability can help untangle enterprise API architecture. GraphQL becomes the communication layer for your services. Using the GraphQL specification, you get a unified experience when interacting with your services. Every service in your API architecture becomes a graph that exposes a GraphQL API. In this graph, everyone who wants to integrate or consume the GraphQL API can find all the data it contains. Data in GraphQL is represented by a schema that describes the available data structures, the shape of the data and how to retrieve it. Schemas must comply with the GraphQL specification, and the part of the organization responsible for the service can keep this schema coherent. GraphQL composability allows you to combine these different graphs — or subgraphs — into one unified graph. Many tools are available to create such a “graph of graphs."

How The Great Resignation Will Become The Great Reconfiguration

We are witnessing a great reconfiguration of how employees expect to be treated by employers. Henry Ford gave his workers a full two-day weekend as early as 1926, but now a weekend is expected in most office-based jobs—unless the job involves serving customers over the weekend! We have certain expectations of the employer and employee relationship, and what was normal before the pandemic is now being challenged. Even Wall Street cannot hold back the tide. People expect more flexibility over their hours and work location. Within a few years, this will be normalized by the effect of the top talent expecting it and that expectation fitering throughout company culture. This is how work will function post-pandemic. The Great Resignation is the first step, but eventually, I believe we will call the 2020s the Great Reconfiguration. ... WFH will live on - You might want your team back in the office, but they know they can be more productive remotely, and research backs up the employees. A new Harvard study suggests that all that in-person time can be compressed into just one or two days a week.

Will Your Cyber-Insurance Premiums Protect You in Times of War?

Due to the changing market and geopolitical situation, you need to be keenly aware of the exact kind of cyber-insurance coverage your organization requires. Your decisions should be dictated by the industry you're working in, the security risk, and how much you stand to lose in the event of an attack. It's important to note that insurance providers are also being more stringent in their requirements for companies to even obtain cyber coverage in the first place. Carriers are increasingly requiring companies to practice good cyber hygiene and have rigid cybersecurity protocols in place before even offering a quote. Once you have proper cybersecurity protocols in place, you should better qualify for adequate plans. However, remember that no two plans are alike or equally inclusive. When choosing a plan, be sure to look for any fine print regarding act-of-war and terrorism exclusions or those for other "hostile acts." Even when you've done everything right, your carrier can still attempt to deny you coverage under these loopholes.

The new CIO playbook: 7 tips for success from day one

It’s possible that, up to now, your focus has been solely on technology. One of the big differentiators between working on an IT team, even in a leadership role, and being CIO is that you will need to understand how technology fits into the larger business goals of the company. You will need to be a technology translator and advocate for the CEO, business leadership, and board. For that, you have to understand the business first. “We can come up with creative technical solutions,” says Roberge. “We know you need an email system, a CRM system, and an ERP. But how does the business want to use those tools? How is the sales guy going sell product and be able to get a quote out, get the tax requirements, things like that?” Business leaders are unlikely to understand technology the way you do. So, you must understand the business in order to help the other business units, the CEO, and the board understand how technology can fit into their goals. “As technology experts, we know our technology extremely well,” says Roberge.

Explained: How to tell if artificial intelligence is working the way we want it to

Far from a silver bullet, explanation methods have their share of problems. For one, Ghassemi’s recent research has shown that explanation methods can perpetuate biases and lead to worse outcomes for people from disadvantaged groups. Another pitfall of explanation methods is that it is often impossible to tell if the explanation method is correct in the first place. One would need to compare the explanations to the actual model, but since the user doesn’t know how the model works, this is circular logic, Zhou says. He and other researchers are working on improving explanation methods so they are more faithful to the actual model’s predictions, but Zhou cautions that, even the best explanation should be taken with a grain of salt. “In addition, people generally perceive these models to be human-like decision makers, and we are prone to overgeneralization. We need to calm people down and hold them back to really make sure that the generalized model understanding they build from these local explanations are balanced,” he adds.

Future-Proofing Organisations Through Transparency

Partners that trust each other, perform better. Both parties should clearly understand the decisions and actions they own. Consequently, organisations cooperate with less friction and enhance accessibility to relevant information. A study in the Harvard Business Review notes that managers frequently adopt a trust but verify approach, evaluating potential partner behaviours during negotiations to determine whether they are open and honest. As one manager in the study advised, “To see if [the] person is forthcoming; ask a question you know the answer to”. Transparent companies are viewed as ‘ethical’ as their customers believe they have nothing to hide. The new era of the business-to-business model demands transparency. Companies want to know that what they do matters and trace a project back to their organisation’s vision. In a modern world where sustainability is not just a buzzword, clients want to know that partnerships are built with brands that support their morals. Unsatisfied customers disengage with a company to find one that works together to achieve a greater outcome and takes accountability for their actions. 

Quote for the day:

"People will not change their minds but they will make new decisions based upon new information." -- Orrin Woodward

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