Daily Tech Digest - November 05, 2023

Less Code Alternatives to Low Code

Embracing a “minimalist coding” philosophy is foundational. It’s anchored in a gravitation toward clarity, prompting you to identify the indispensable elements in your code, and then discard the rest. Is there a more succinct solution? Can a tool achieve this outcome with less code? Am I building something unique and valuable or rehashing solved problems? Every line of code must be viewed for the potential value it delivers and the future burden it represents. Reduce that burden by avoiding or removing code when you can and leveraging the work of others. ... Modern frameworks offer a significant enhancement to development productivity, primarily by reducing the amount of code written to perform common tasks. Additionally, the underlying code of the framework is tested and maintained by the community, alleviating peripheral maintenance burdens. The same goes for code generators; they’re not merely about avoiding repetitive keystrokes, but about ensuring that the generated code itself is consistent and efficient. 

Software Deployment Security: Risks and Best Practices

Blue-Green Deployment is a release management strategy designed to reduce downtime and risk by running two identical production environments, known as Blue and Green. At any time, only one of these environments is live, with the live environment serving all production traffic. The primary security implication of the Blue-Green deployment is the risk of data inconsistency during the switchover. If not properly managed, sensitive data could be exposed, lost or corrupted. Furthermore, because two environments are maintained, security measures must be duplicated, potentially leading to inconsistencies and vulnerabilities if not properly managed. ... Canary deployment is a strategy where new software versions are gradually rolled out to a small subset of users before being deployed to the entire infrastructure. This strategy allows teams to test and monitor the performance of the new release in a live environment with less risk. Canary deployment can potentially expose new software versions to a smaller user base, potentially exposing vulnerabilities before a full-scale release. If a vulnerability is exploited during this stage, it could lead to a security breach affecting a subset of users. 

It’s time to take your genAI skills to the next level

The workforce of the future will learn AI in school and during the next 15 years, each successive generation of graduates will likely have much stronger AI kung fu than the last. In fact, my own son owns a Silicon Valley based startup called Chatterbox, which exists to teach AI literacy to kids as young as eight years old. Learning AI at that age is unimaginable to adults currently in the workforce. Young workers entering the workforce will have a vastly superior knowledge of, and ability with, AI than the workforce that went to school before the LLM-based genAI revolution of 2022 and 2023. That’s why one of the smartest things you can do now, regardless of your specific occupation, is to get very serious about learning a lot more about genAI. “Prompt engineering” — the ability to use words to get output from genAI tools — is the skill of the year. But it’s only a matter of time before basic proficiency in prompt engineering becomes commonplace and banal. It’s important to set yourself apart from the crowd by going further and really studying how generative AI works, its limitations and potentialities, and the ethical and legal issues are around its output.

Why digital banking is a crucial financial literacy skill for kids

By starting early and providing guidance, parents and educators play a crucial role in helping children develop strong financial literacy skills. Digital banking not only enables children to understand the mechanics of money but also fosters a healthy relationship with finances. For instance, some innovative neobanks in India are currently providing prepaid cards that are exceptionally user-friendly and intuitive. These cards offer a unique opportunity for children to develop crucial financial literacy skills, such as prudent money management, efficient budgeting, and smart savings habits. ... The positive impact of early financial education, including digital banking literacy, on long-term financial well-being cannot be overstated. Introducing children to digital banking at a young age provides them with the knowledge and skills needed to make informed financial decisions throughout their lives. It not only equips them with the tools to navigate the cashless economy effectively but also fosters financial independence, responsibility, and resilience in the face of evolving financial challenges.

Mastering a multi-cloud environment

It is essential to understand the challenges that exist while creating a robust multi-cloud architecture. You need to incorporate the right set of tools and technologies to support workload placement across diverse platforms and services. A solid operating model to effectively manage multi-cloud use is imperative – breaking it down into process security, technology, financial operations and people and skills. One of the keys is aligning IT service management with your multi-cloud operating model – implementing the right technology to effectively operate, manage, monitor and secure resources and services among providers – from data management, governance and security to vendor licenses, contracts and more. ... In today’s fast-changing and threat-laden environment, a new approach to resilience is indispensable – one that helps ensure your ability to ‘bounce back’ quickly from disruptions and maintain application availability. New functional capabilities and skills to embed resilience through design is the way forward and it will likely require businesses to give resilience greater priority as they invest in innovation.

Do we have enough GPUs to manifest AI’s potential?

The current production and availability of GPUs is insufficient to manifest AI’s ever-evolving potential. Many businesses face challenges in obtaining the necessary hardware for their operations, dampening their capacity for innovation. As manufacturers continue ramping up GPU unit production, many companies are already being hobbled by GPU accessibility. According to Fortune, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman privately acknowledged that GPU supply constraints were impacting the company’s business. ... Exploring alternative hardware to power AI applications presents a viable route for organizations striving for efficient processing. Depending on the specific AI workload requirements, CPUs, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) may be excellent alternatives. FPGAs, which are known for their customizable nature, and ASICs, specifically designed for a particular use case, both have the potential to effectively handle AI tasks. However, it’s crucial to note that these alternatives might exhibit different performance characteristics and trade-offs.

The state of API security in 2023

Only 38% of organizations have solutions that enable them to understand the context between API activities, user behaviors, data streams, and code execution. In hyper-connected digital ecosystems, understanding this data is crucial. An anomaly in user behavior or a suspicious data flow might be early indicators of a breach attempt or a vulnerability exploitation. Moreover, the capability to tailor security responses based on dynamic threat parameters is indispensable. While generalized security protocols can thwart common threats, customized defenses based on threat actors, compromised tokens, IP abuse velocity, geolocations, IP ASNs, and specific attack patterns can be the difference between a repelled threat and a security breach. Yet most organizations do not have this capability. Lastly, companies continue to overlook the need to monitor and understand the communication patterns between API endpoints and application services. An API might be functioning as intended, but if its communication pattern is anomalous or its interactions with other services are unexpected, it could be an indicator of underlying vulnerabilities or misconfigurations.

AI Safety? Rishi Sunak is all in for Elon Musk's work-free fantasy

“There will come a point where no job is needed,” Musk said. “You can have a job if you want to have a job, for personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything.” In this world, everyone would have what they wanted: “Not a universal basic income, we'll have universal high income.” Musk didn’t give any ideas on how that world will appear, either because he didn’t think he had to, or he didn’t want to face up to the idea that billionaires might have to learn to share. Instead, he cited the Civilisation science fiction novels of Iain Banks, which really just do the same thing better, placing people in a future quasi-Utopia, without giving any suggestion how society transferred from capitalism to a world of freely available high-tech. The real frustration of the AI Safety Summit, on display in the Musk-Sunak show, is that knowledge is power. Musk and the tech billionaires have both, while our elected representatives have neither [even if Sunak and his wife are personally close to billionaire status themselves].

Digital risk: Time to merge cyber security and data privacy

Taking an integrated business approach to managing digital risk delivers a number of key benefits to organisations. Firstly, it can help to bring forward digital transformation initiatives because the data classification and compliance that companies are undertaking across the business for various purposes is aligned and coordinated. Secondly, a digital risk function that conducts comprehensive assessments of third-party and supply chain digital risk is better positioned to ensure that risk is considered across the organisation. One way to do this is by pre-approving vendors from a risk perspective. “Businesses can digitally transform quicker if they do the supplier approval process up front,” says James Arthur, Partner, Head of Cyber Consulting, Grant Thornton UK. “It’s a lot easier to do this if you have a single digital risk function that proactively assesses cyber security and privacy risk together.” Thirdly, businesses continue to use new technologies to seek out commercial advantage, meaning their approach to data privacy and cyber security also needs to continually evolve, to address new threats and vulnerabilities. 

Where Does Cybersecurity Fit Into the Acquisition Process?

Acquiring and integrating an outside company also means inheriting a brand-new set of cybersecurity risks -- both direct and third-party. “If we make an acquisition, a lot of our customers will request to gain some understanding of the security of the company [we] acquired,” Huber explains. How will a company manage those newly acquired risks? Answering that question takes time and comes with a learning curve. Due diligence plays a big role in uncovering those risks, but the possibility that an unknown risk will emerge following the closing of a deal is almost certain. “I think that is always going to happen,” says Huber. “It’s not [a challenge] you can really plan for other than knowing that something’s going to happen.” Acquisitions can take months or quarters from deal consideration to closing. The first part of that process involves vetting the potential fit from business and technical perspectives. Once an acquisition appears to be a promising fit, the acquiring organization must go through its entire due diligence playbook to understand the opportunities and risks associated with its target.

Quote for the day:

"If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." -- Tom Hanks

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