Daily Tech Digest - March 15, 2023

Critical Thinking: The Overlooked IT Management Skill

Critical thinking is essential to IT leadership because leaders sit at the conjunction of four distinct worlds: data, technology, business processes, and people. “An IT leader has to think logically about how to integrate these four distinct capabilities into a reasonable response to organizational challenges,” says Michael Williams, an associate professor of information systems technology management at Pepperdine University. ... Solutions to complex IT problems are not black and white, observes Sydney Buchel, a senior consultant with cybersecurity and compliance frim BARR Advisory. “IT environments vary, based on complexity, size, the data being processed, unique risks, and integrations with other platforms,” she says. “This means that making key decisions for your IT environment cannot be impulsive -- it requires gathering, analyzing, and conceptualizing information to ensure thoughtful decision-making.” ... Critical thinking requires time and practice. “Collect all relevant information: evidence, facts, research, and perspectives from trusted colleagues, as well as your own thoughts and experiences,” Buchel advises.

Don’t do IT yourself: The trick to ensuring business alignment

There are many ways to implement an ITSC, but to start, you and your committee members must work together continuously on a strategic plan until the planning group can finalize an immediate one-year plan that is approved by all departments. Then each department must take this one-year plan and decide what resources are needed to accomplish their objectives — a process that should include conversations with IT to help determine what is needed. These requirements should then be examined by IT and senior department heads to determine initial time and cost estimates, along with expected ROI, which should be the responsibility of the requesting department. With these plans now submitted to the ITSC, the committee, which remember is composed of all direct reports of the CEO or the COO to ensure all departments are included, then determines whether the systems requested do indeed represent what the company needs and at the speed they are needed. By doing so, the committee can determine whether staffing is sufficient or if additional resources are required to accomplish planned goals.

The importance of software testing for Digital Transformation

IT costs represent significant overheads and budget cuts proliferate. With smaller teams and fewer resources, teams have to do more with less when it comes to software development in order to keep pace with Digital Transformation and customer demand. Speed is a must – but if the customer experience is to be protected, then quality must also be prioritized. Often test automation is a late addition to the Digital Transformation process, but this causes many risks and challenges along the way. As enterprise organizations develop applications that rely on continuous software updates, automating testing is a crucial element to increasing release speeds and improving application quality, helping the organization run more efficiently to meet its bottom line. Test automation gives organizations the ability to monitor and assess risk in real time or even prevent issues before they occur. By adopting this real-time or and a pre-emptive approach, major disruptions which can impact everything from productivity to customer experience or revenue, can be staved off.

Bias Busters: The perils of executive typecasting

A common obstacle to good decision making is executives’ adherence to role theory, a concept in sociology and psychology that suggests that most people categorize themselves and others according to socially defined roles—as a parent, a manager, or a teacher, for instance. They adopt norms associated with designated roles, behave accordingly, and, in a form of groupthink, expect others to do the same. ... Organizations must actively encourage dissent and make it safe for individuals at all levels, regardless of role, to share contrarian ideas. In this case, if the CFO could separate her idea to divest from her status in the organization, she might get a fairer shake from everyone involved. One way to do that would be to engage individuals and teams in a “what you have to believe” assessment, highlighting the discrepancies between the product line’s current performance and the resources needed to bring it back to premier status. Such an assessment could put more facts into and structure around strategy discussions.

Why Asia is moving to multi-cloud

So, what is it that attracts Asia Pacific (APAC) customers to his company’s suite of products? Orchard highlighted two reasons that he consistently hears from APAC firms that adopt his organization’s products: a broad ecosystem, and the ability to bridge the cloud skills gap. “With the breadth of technologies in use by our customers across both traditional data center vendors, public clouds, and SaaS providers, they need a vendor whose focus is on the ecosystem. And with over 2,600 providers for Terraform, we fit that bill better than any other vendor in the industry,” he told DCD. In addition, Orchard says standardization through the HashiCorp Configuration Language (HCL) language used to configure its solutions using code can help address the ongoing skills shortage in cloud professionals. Indeed, HCL as used by Terraform was lauded in GitHub’s latest State of the Octoverse report as the fastest-growing language on GitHub. Though the focus of infrastructure-as-code is on provisioning infrastructure, there are secondary benefits to organizations.

Navigating The AI Minefield: HR Grapples With Bias & Privacy Concerns

To guard against bias and potential liability, employers must provide notice and obtain consent from applicants and employees before using AI tools. This includes explaining what type of tool is being used and providing enough information for individuals to understand the criteria being evaluated. Employers must also be mindful of the way their AI tools can affect people with disabilities and be prepared to provide reasonable accommodations. By taking these steps, employers can harness the power of AI while avoiding bias and promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools, though designed to help employers make better decisions, could be causing more harm than good due to algorithmic bias. The problem arises when the AI tool is developed and monitored incorrectly, leading to bias against certain demographic groups, according to experts in the field. ... Additionally, AI tools conducting background checks can pull data from a much broader area than traditional selection tools, such as social media, and trigger data privacy concerns as well. 

DNS data shows one in 10 organizations have malware traffic on their networks

More than a quarter of that traffic went to servers belonging to initial access brokers, attackers who sell access into corporate networks to other cybercriminals, the report stated. “As we analyzed malicious DNS traffic of both enterprise and home users, we were able to spot several outbreaks and campaigns in the process, such as the spread of FluBot, an Android-based malware moving from country to country around the world, as well as the prevalence of various cybercriminal groups aimed at enterprises,” Akamai said. “Perhaps the best example is the significant presence of C2 traffic related to initial access brokers (IABs) that breach corporate networks and monetize access by peddling it to others, such as ransomware as a service (RaaS) groups.” Akamai operates a large DNS infrastructure for its global CDN and other cloud and security services and is able to observe up to seven trillion DNS requests per day. Since DNS queries attempt to resolve the IP address of a domain name, Akamai can map requests that originate from corporate networks or home users to known malicious domains

Heart Device Maker Says Hack Affected 1 Million Patients

The incident illustrates how deeply networked connectivity has penetrated the medical device market, a development that has created new opportunities for hackers to steal personal information in an industry historically unaccustomed to fending off threat actors. Information potentially disclosed in the cybersecurity incident includes individuals' names, addresses, birthdates and Social Security numbers. "It may also be inferred that you used or were considered for use of a Zoll product," the company says in a sample breach notification letter. "More and more medical devices are becoming connected to the network and internet and, in almost all cases, the manufacturer is gaining access to device and patient information," said security researcher Jason Sinchak, who leads cybersecurity firm Level Nine's medical device product security practice. "What was previously an embedded medical device manufacturing organization becomes a software-as-a-service and managed service organization," he said.

How machine learning is changing the way businesses think about customer behavior

“It’s crucial to ensure the emotional data captured accurately reflects the inner feelings of the customers rather than just their expressed emotions through specific keywords or loud expressions. Systems based on nonrelevant data are likely to result in a waste of time and money and will probably have lower success rates compared to systems that incorporate genuine emotion detection and personality assessment,” he adds. This new frontier of so-called Emotional Intelligence-as-a-Service has the potential to significantly impact customer behavior by providing valuable insights into their preferences and motivations. By personalizing the customer experience based on this real-time emotional intelligence, organizations can improve customer satisfaction and assist customers in achieving their goals more effectively.‌ ... “In these new virtual environments, just imagine the impact of a virtual agent in a new Web3 or metaverse world that has its own unique personality and style and can truly understand yours,” Liberman says.

The philosopher: A conversation with Grady Booch

The story of computing is the story of humanity. This is a story of ambition, invention, creativity, vision, avarice, and serendipity, all powered by a refusal to accept the limits of our bodies and our minds. As we co-evolve with computing, the best of us and the worst of us is amplified, and along the way, we are challenged as to what it means to be intelligent, to be creative, to be conscious. We are on a journey to build computers in our own image, and that means we have to not only understand the essence of who we are, but we must also consider what makes us different. ... The field of artificial intelligence has seen a number of vibrant springs and dismal winters over the years, but this time it seems different: there are a multitude of economically-interesting use cases that are fueling the field, and so in the coming years we will see these advances weave themselves into our world. Indeed, AI already has: every time we take a photograph, search for a product to buy, interact with some computerized appliance, we are likely using AI in one way or another.

Quote for the day:

"Leaders are the ones who keep faith with the past, keep step with the present, and keep the promise to posterity." -- Harold J. Seymour

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