The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Sides of AI

Computopia or man-made Dystopia
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Paul Briggs
July 11, 2023

This month’s Knowledge Exchange will examine both the benefits and the potential dangers of unregulated Artificial Intelligence on Enterprise resourcing, business IT platforms, sales and marketing strategies and also on customer experience. It will also ask if it is possible to pause AI development to roll out ethical and regulated AI that protects and enhances jobs rather than potentially replace them; protects personal data, privacy, and preferences rather than manipulate it for nefarious reasons and that doesn’t spiral us into a “Terminator” or “Matrix” like future where the machines are in control!

The Good Side of AI

As we discussed in last month’s Knowledge Exchange on Hybrid Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has some compelling usages for ITDMs especially when it can help tame IT complexity by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks. It can also be used to learn and write code from past data and be used to autogenerate content and images from multiple sources by mimicking human intelligence and human labour. As the technology develops, there seems to be a whole raft of plug-ins and algorithms that people such as Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella believes will: “Create a new era of computing.”

Copilot (sic) works alongside you, embedded in the apps millions of people use every day: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and more…it (sic) is a whole new way of working.

Microsoft 365 head I Jared Spataro


And as corporations and investors are constantly looking at growth, efficiencies and ultimately profit, the lure of AI to support this new paradigm must be insatiable proposition right now, especially as we are seeing a lot of economic pressure from various financial, energy and geopolitical crises.

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Will EMP Attacks Be The Next Emerging Cyber Threat?

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This month’s Knowledge Exchange white paper on emerging and existing Cyber Security threats will examine why ITDMs and Business Leaders are extremely worried about a ‘catastrophic cyber event’ that could have more of a societal impact than Covid-19 in next few years, and what ITDMs can do today and longer term to mitigate those risks. 

It may be pure co-incidence, but it was certainly chilling to see that in a matter of weeks after the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2023 annual summit in Davos, Switzerland that warned of a total “grid down” scenario caused by a ‘catastrophic cyber event;’ a mysterious high-altitude balloon was seen floating across America. 

And while many in the mainstream media have quickly judged this and subsequent other balloons to be a surveillance or spy balloons, other commentators claim that most state sponsored espionage is done via satellites1 and that this vehicle has potentially a more sinister capability: The ability to activate an electromagnetic pulse or EMP at high altitude (HEMP) using a smaller lighter nuclear payload. 

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What does the EU’s AI Act mean for artificial intelligence innovation? 

The EU's landmark AI Act gained momentum last week as negotiators from the EU parliament, EU commission and national governments agreed rules about systems using artificial intelligence. The proposal will be passed in the new year by the European Parliament, but what does it mean for the AI technological revolution? 

The draft regulation aims to ensure that AI systems placed on the European market and used in the EU are safe and respect fundamental rights and EU values. This landmark proposal also aims to stimulate investment and innovation on AI in Europe. 

“This is a historical achievement, and a huge milestone towards the future! Today’s agreement effectively addresses a global challenge in a fast-evolving technological environment on a key area for the future of our societies and economies. And in this endeavour, we managed to keep an extremely delicate balance: boosting innovation and uptake of artificial intelligence across Europe whilst fully respecting the fundamental rights of our citizens.” – Carme Artigas, Spanish secretary of state for digitalisation and artificial intelligence. 

Key Points of the provisional agreement: 

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The role IT departments play in achieving business ESG goals 

What is ESG? 

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is a holistic framework for businesses to achieve sustainability beyond just environmental factors, but diversity and societal priorities too. It requires businesses to behave ethically to achieve a sustainable and responsible future.  

  • Environmental: This considers how companies use energy and manage their environmental impact considering factors such as energy efficiency, climate change, carbon emissions and waste management. 
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Why is ESG important?  

ESG is important for several reasons. It not only addresses environmental and social challenges, but it also contributes to the overall resilience, sustainability, and success of companies as it focuses on the following areas: 

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Top 5 Security Techniques for Safeguarding Online Presence

Source: Protech Insights

In today’s digital age, safeguarding your online presence is more critical than ever. With cyber threats constantly evolving, traditional security measures may not always be sufficient to protect your sensitive information from prying eyes. In this blog, we’ll delve into advanced security techniques that you can implement to fortify your digital defenses and ensure the safety of your online identity. 

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring two forms of verification before granting access. In addition to entering your password, 2FA typically involves a second factor, such as a one-time code sent to your mobile device or generated by an authentication app. By enabling 2FA on your accounts, you significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access, even if your password is compromised. 

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet connection and routes it through a secure server, protecting your data from interception by malicious actors. VPNs are especially useful when accessing public Wi-Fi networks, which are often targets for cyber attacks. By using a VPN, you can browse the web anonymously and securely, shielding your online activities from prying eyes and potential threats. 

Secure Password Managers

Managing passwords for multiple online accounts can be challenging, leading many people to resort to using weak or easily guessable passwords. Secure password managers offer a solution by generating complex, unique passwords for each of your accounts and storing them in an encrypted vault. With a password manager, you only need to remember one master password to access all your other passwords securely. This not only enhances the security of your accounts but also simplifies the password management process. 

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication utilizes unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, facial features, or iris patterns, to verify your identity. Many modern devices, such as smartphones and laptops, come equipped with biometric sensors that enable convenient and secure authentication. By leveraging biometric authentication, you can add an extra layer of protection to your devices and sensitive data, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. 

End-to-End Encryption

End-to-end encryption (E2EE) ensures that data is encrypted from the moment it is sent until it reaches its intended recipient, preventing anyone, including service providers and hackers, from intercepting or accessing the information in transit. Messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp employ E2EE to protect the privacy of their users’ conversations. By using E2EE-enabled services and applications, you can communicate securely and protect your sensitive information from eavesdroppers. 

Conclusion 

As cyber threats continue to proliferate, adopting advanced security techniques is essential for safeguarding your online presence and protecting your sensitive information from unauthorized access and exploitation. By implementing measures such as two-factor authentication, virtual private networks, secure password managers, biometric authentication, and end-to-end encryption, you can significantly enhance the security of your digital life and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your online identity is well protected. Remember, staying vigilant and proactive is key to staying one step ahead of cyber threats in today’s ever-changing digital landscape.

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Safeguarding Your Digital Assets in an Era of Persistent Threats

Source: Protech Insights

In today’s interconnected world, where digitalization permeates every aspect of our lives, safeguarding our digital assets has never been more critical. From personal information to sensitive financial data, our digital footprint holds a treasure trove of valuable assets that are increasingly targeted by cybercriminals. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of safeguarding your digital assets and discuss proactive strategies to mitigate the risks posed by persistent cyber threats. 

Understanding the Landscape of Cyber Threats 

Cyber threats come in various forms, ranging from phishing scams and malware attacks to data breaches and ransomware incidents. These threats exploit vulnerabilities in our digital infrastructure, including weaknesses in software, inadequate security protocols, and human error. With cybercriminals becoming more sophisticated and organized, the threat landscape continues to evolve, posing significant challenges to individuals and organizations alike. 

The Stakes Are High: Why Digital Asset Protection Matters 

Our digital assets encompass a wide range of valuable information, including personal identity data, financial records, intellectual property, and business-critical information. The loss or compromise of these assets can have far-reaching consequences, leading to financial loss, reputational damage, and legal liabilities. Moreover, in an era of digital transformation, where cloud computing, IoT devices, and interconnected networks are ubiquitous, the attack surface for cyber threats has expanded exponentially, amplifying the importance of robust cybersecurity measures. 

Proactive Strategies for Digital Asset Protection 

  • Implement Strong Security Measures: Start by implementing robust security measures to safeguard your digital assets. This includes using strong, unique passwords for each account, enabling multi-factor authentication, and regularly updating software and security patches to address known vulnerabilities. 
  • Educate Yourself and Your Team: Knowledge is a powerful defense against cyber threats. Educate yourself and your team about common cyber risks, such as phishing attacks and social engineering tactics. Provide training on cybersecurity best practices, including how to recognize and respond to suspicious emails or messages. 
  • Deploy Advanced Threat Detection Tools: Invest in advanced threat detection tools and technologies to monitor your digital environment for signs of malicious activity. Deploy firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and endpoint security solutions to detect and block threats in real-time. 
  • Backup Your Data Regularly: Protect your digital assets against data loss by regularly backing up critical information to secure, offsite locations. Implement a comprehensive backup strategy that includes both onsite and offsite backups, as well as cloud-based storage solutions for added redundancy. 
  • Stay Vigilant and Adapt: Cyber threats are constantly evolving, so it’s essential to stay vigilant and adapt your security measures accordingly. Stay informed about the latest cyber threats and security trends, and be prepared to adjust your defenses as needed to mitigate emerging risks. 

Conclusion 

In an era of persistent cyber threats, safeguarding your digital assets is paramount. By understanding the landscape of cyber threats, recognizing the importance of digital asset protection, and implementing proactive cybersecurity strategies, you can mitigate the risks posed by cybercriminals and protect what matters most—your valuable digital assets and sensitive information. Remember, cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and by working together, we can create a safer, more secure digital environment for all.

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5 Useful Tips to Safeguard Your Business from Ransomware Attacks

Source: Protech Insights

Ransomware attacks have increased exponentially in the last two years. With the pandemic forcing everyone to work remotely, ransom attacks have risen by 148%. That’s an alarming number considering the duration. Only last week, Accenture became a victim of a ransomware attack, but the tech giant immediately contained it.

“WannaCry” was another famous, malicious attack that hit both small and medium-sized businesses across the globe and brought them to a stop. The program attacked MS Office operating systems where the hackers took the user’s data hostage for a Bitcoin ransom.

But why do big and small businesses fall victim to ransomware attacks? How can organizations build strong cyber defense systems to prevent such attacks? Let us take a look at them now.

Why Organizations Fall Victim to Ransomware Attacks?

Poor cybersecurity and not fixing underlying attacks are the major reasons for becoming an easy target to hackers. Also, your businesses can become a frequent target of different types of ransom attacks if you’ve already witnessed them once. You also tend to fall victim to opportunistic attacks, especially if you have systems connected to the Internet that are vulnerable or not protected.

Secondly, if the early attackers leave a backdoor in your network that they can access when required, you can be attacked more than once. Although it happens less frequently, you cannot rule this out completely. Once you pay the attackers, the greed to earn more can lead them to target your systems again. Especially if they are still vulnerable. Constantly upgrading network security and monitoring your network can save you from such future attacks.

5 Tips to Protect Your Business from Ransomware Attacks

Evolving technology has made businesses dependent on data-driven networks. This gives ransom attackers myriad opportunities to find loopholes in your system security and target them time and again. Here are some useful tips to protect your business from ransomware attacks.

Educating and training your employees

Your employees can be an “insider threat” if you do not train them regularly on system security. Insider threat is nothing but negligence or any error by your employee that can lead to a complete compromise of your data and security. Also, since all your employees aren’t aware of security breaches, they become easy victims of hackers. Educate your employees on what are ransomware attacks, how their computers can be compromised, and what they can do to prevent them. Teach them about phishing emails and how to avoid opening them. Such awareness helps prevent these security breaches.

Layer security measures

Taking a layered approach to network security helps you prevent security breaches for your business. This means using a combination of security tools such as anti-virus, firewall, anti-malware, spam filters, etc. to prevent data loss and cyber breaches. Most IT experts suggest using a combination of security tools so even if one fails, other layers offer enough protection to the systems.

Use multifactor authentication and strong passwords

It is always a good practice to use multifactor or two-factor authentication for extra security. Two-factor authentication is a two-step process you follow to gain access to your network. First, you provide a username and password on one platform and then confirm your identity on another platform as well. This ensures tighter security and safety. Apart from this, you must encourage your employees to use strong passwords and keep changing them frequently.

Back up everything, often

Want to avoid paying hefty sums to intruders even if your systems are compromised? Back up your data every day without fail. A robust backup strategy is one of the most important defenses against ransomware attacks. You can also do regular testing of images and other data to check their integrity. Ensure your IT team follows a proper data backing-up process frequently.

Use strong spam filters

Educating your employees about phishing is one step. However, enabling strong spam filters further enhances the security of your systems. Add strong spam filters to your email and messaging services to avoid receiving any unwarranted files or messages. To prevent spoofing, you can also use  DomainKeys Identified Mail, Sender Policy Framework, and Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance.

Conclusion

Whether you are a small business or a flourishing MNC, prevention is always better than cure. To prevent a cyber breach, having all the basic security processes in place is good. Frequent backing up of data, updating the security software, changing passwords frequently, and using strong spam filters are some steps you must follow to steer clear of ransomware attacks.

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