May 16, 2020

Security in the age of digital transformation

Cloud Computing
Big Data
Cloud Computing
Glen White
3 min
Security in the age of digital transformation
The quickening pace of change in business today is forcing companies to transform themselves digitally, in new and innovative ways. Its requiring them t...

The quickening pace of change in business today is forcing companies to transform themselves digitally, in new and innovative ways. It’s requiring them to shake off traditional, legacy-based approaches to IT, and think more like those new-age competitors that were ‘born digital’. The name of the game is to digitise and transform business processes – embracing new ways of connecting with customers, partners and others in the value chain. However, by doing this, organisations are also faced with new complexities from a security perspective.

In listed companies, studies have shown that data leaks and security breaches have a clear relationship to share price. Once all other variables have been controlled for, research indicates that organisations typically see a 10 percent mark-down in their share price, even eight months after the security breach occurred.

So, security perceptions have a direct impact on shareholder returns. This reality often causes CIOs to take the most conservative approach possible – looking to lock-down, protect and prevent incidents with strong firewalls and policy-driven approaches to security. But in the new digital economy – where ecosystem-based networks and the world of APIs means deeper integration into partners, suppliers and customers – the ‘prevention’ approach is simply not always possible. We advocate a more pragmatic approach to security: that of detection and quick response, rather than an attempt at prevention. Data is now hosted in new ways, exposed to external parties in new ways, and extended to users via new (often mobile) devices.

Traditionally, staff inside the organisation were protected by, but also restricted by, firewalls and strong-arm IT policies. To compete in a changing environment, the emphasis needs to shift towards empowering staff to take ownership of security, by giving them the knowledge and tools to make the right decisions. With this change in mind-set, organisations unlock opportunities to find these “white spaces” of business possibility – new efficiencies, new markets, and new relationships. In being able to work with and share data more easily, they can collaborate, find solutions, find new opportunities, and get closer to customers.

However, harnessing the power of Big Data and transforming it into knowledge requires a fresh look at IT security.

So, how do organisations deal with the threat of increasingly-severe penalties for data leaks (such as the forthcoming POPI Act) for instance, while at the same time readying the business for the new world of open-platforms and real-time integration?

The first step is to accept that any security system is fallible; and to shift the focus to rapid response alerts that minimise any the damage and return the organisation to a state of business-as-usual. Perfection is something that cannot realistically be achieved. Even some of the world’s most prestigious companies – like Apple, MasterCard and Sony – have fallen victim to attacks. Previously, breaches were considered to be an exception. The new model requires us to view them as something endemic to the digital age – something that can be mitigated and immediately addressed, but not prevented entirely.

Organisations should adopt a more refined, granular approach to data access. Instead of blanket policies, data access should consider who needs to access data, at what times, and under what conditions. By using permissions, signing in and out, and using audit trails, organisations can build what we call a ‘programmatically controlled’ approach to data security. Ultimately, now is the time to invest more in security than ever before. Threats are on the rise, and their natures are shape-shifting at very rapid rates. With the right approach and the appropriate solutions, organisations can position themselves to capitalise on the benefits of open innovation needed for digital transformation, while responding in real-time to any new security threats.

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Jun 8, 2021

IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery

Elise Leise
3 min
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) claims that while markets are rising and manufacturing is coming back, it’ll push for global immunisation

After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022

Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery. 

Lingering Concerns Over COVID

Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high. 

Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery? 

IMF: Current Boom Could Falter

Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”. 

Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”. 

Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.

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