What’s Video Phishing and how do You Protect Yourself?

What’s Video Phishing and how do You Protect Yourself?

video phishing

In 2020, phishing is among the most common forms of cyberattacks on businesses and individuals alike. 56% of IT decision-makers state that phishing attacks are the top security threat they are facing, with 32% of hacks involving phishing. Here is video phishing and how you protect yourself.

Phishing is no longer limited to emails from Nigerian princes offering the recipients massive returns on investments.

Many phishing messages and websites have become sophisticated to the point that users are no longer able to recognize them without specific training. Google now blacklists an average of 50,000 websites for phishing every week.

On the upside, the ways that you can protect yourself from phishing attacks have evolved as well in recent years. They range from using up-to-date firewall software to using secure platforms such as cloud-based business phone services.

A new threat is looming on the horizon: video phishing.

Driven by technological advances, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, this new trend has the potential of causing catastrophic security breaches.

Keep reading to find out what video phishing is, what it looks like, and how you can protect yourself.

black iphone 7 on macbook pro

How does Video Phishing work?

Surprise! Elon Musk is interrupting your Zoom call.

Sounds fake? It is.

But it looks disturbingly real.

See the end of the document for embed.

The video above shows an application of Avatarify, a tool developed by a researcher to transform users into celebrities in real-time during Zoom or Skype calls. Its inventor, Ali Aliev, says that the program’s purpose was to have some fun during COVID-19 lockdown — by surprising friends during video conferences as Albert Einstein, Eminem, or the Mona Lisa.

The technology behind donning someone else’s animated face like a mask is called deepfaking.

Deepfakes are relatively new applications of machine learning tools. These tools generate realistic faces by analyzing thousands of videos and images of a target’s face and extracting patterns for common expressions and movements. Then, these patterns can be projected onto anyone, effectively morphing them into someone else.

You use the image of  Elon Musk. Or President Obama. In fact, a deep fake video of the former President calling his successor ‘a total and complete dips**t’ went viral back in 2018.

The implications of this technology for cybersecurity are wide-reaching and potentially disastrous.

Because instead of trolling your friends, or insulting President Trump via someone famous deepfakes — you won’t know if it’s friends being comical — or the dangerous, video phishing.

What are the Dangers of Video Phishing?

According to CNN, the majority of deepfake videos on the internet as of the end of 2019, were pornography. In total, 15,000 of such videos were counted. That might not sound like much, considering the vastness of the internet.

The reason for these rather limited numbers has been that generating convincing deepfakes takes a fair amount of computational power. Avatarify, for example, takes a high-level gaming PC to run properly.

But lower-quality applications have already been developed, such as a face-swapping app that got banned again fairly quickly.

It is only a question of time before deepfake technology becomes widely available. And widely used for cybercrime.

Some of these scams have already been recorded and you can find them on YouTube.

In one case, hackers used similar technology to deepfake the voices of CEOs and sent voicemail messages to executives. They succeeded in effecting a transfer of a mind-boggling $243,000.

In another case, three men were arrested in Israel for swindling a businessman out of $8 million by impersonating the French foreign minister.

Experts are already warning against other possible applications of deepfake videos for frauds to generate funds. One scenario, for example, is extortion. Hackers could threaten the release of a video containing content that can be damaging to a person’s or business’ reputation. Such content could range from straight-out pornography to the CEO of a company endorsing racist views.

As experiences have shown, that could be disastrous. For businesses, even the regular kind of ‘fake news’ can have catastrophic impacts on industry relationships, and even their stock market values.

“Those kinds of things can put a company out of business through reputation damage,” Chris Kennedy of the AI cyber-security platform AttackIQ said in a recent interview with Forbes. “We’re hitting the tipping point in which technology is taking advantage of the biggest human weakness, we’re over-trusting.”

How to Defend Yourself against Deepfake Video Phishing

Today, having a high cybersecurity standard is more important than ever. With online life proliferating during the COVID-19 crisis, scams and phishing attacks have flourished as well.

The good news in the case of phishing videos is that the technology, as of 2020, is still relatively new, and the case numbers relatively low. That means that individuals and businesses have time to prepare, and disseminate information to ward against such attacks.

Know the basic defense moves

As a most basic form of defense, extreme caution is advised if you receive an unsolicited video call, especially from someone famous or in a position of authority. Never trusting caller IDs, hanging up immediately, and not sharing any information on such calls is essential.

If you receive video messages that might be authentic, but you are uncertain about it, you can use software to determine if what you are facing is a deep fake. For example, companies such as Deeptrace offers software with the capacity to recognize AI-generated video content.

Apart from that, some low-tech solutions to protect against video phishing are having agreed-upon code words when communicating about sensitive information via video messaging, using a second communication channel to confirm information, or asking security questions that your interlocutor can only answer if they are the real deal.

Basically, pretend you’re in an old James Bond film. ‘In London, April’s a Spring month’ and all that.

Final Thoughts

Using AI to morph into someone else and extract sensitive information may still sound futuristic. But it is only a question of time until video phishing hits the mainstream.

As technology advances and artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to copy the face and voice of people become widely available, the number of deepfake scams is set to go through the roof.

The best you can do, is to be aware, keep informed, and brace yourself. Keep safe.

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How Location Intelligence Will Create Even Smarter Cities

How Location Intelligence Will Create Even Smarter Cities

location intelligence smart cities

Location intelligence has gained much attention lately, especially as more businesses harness the power of this technology. Location intelligence builds on geographical information systems (GIS) tools, and its definition goes beyond the analysis of geospatial or geographic information. Here is how location intelligence will create even smarter cities.

Location Intelligence is the ability to visualize spatial data to identify and analyze relationships and trends.

The output of location intelligence is actionable insights that help both the public and private sectors to detect patterns and make strategic decisions.

Location intelligence comes from a multitude of sources, such as GPS systems, Internet of Things (IoT) data, and environmental and consumer sources. The technology is not one specific tool but rather the ability to use geospatial data to create business insights. As location intelligence grows in popularity, because its uses are multiplying, it has had an impact on an interesting global technological development: smart cities.

Location intelligence use cases.

Before diving into the implications of location intelligence on smart cities, it’s important to take a step back and look at where this technology has already made an impact.

The insurance industry.

The insurance industry has been leading the charge in the use of location intelligence. By knowing, with high accuracy, if a property is located in a flood, earthquake, or wildfire zone, insurance carriers can more draft accurate policies.

Furthermore, this technology allows carriers to take a more proactive, instead of reactive approach. Instead of simply paying out claims, these companies can help homeowners proactively protect their properties and mitigate risk by understanding the potential damage based on the area.

Financial institutions.

Financial institutions are also using location intelligence to improve fraud detection by better analyzing customer profiles. By matching customer locations and transactions, banks can better understand fraudulent behavior and avoid flagging normal activity.

Both finance companies and retail companies are also using location intelligence to send customers offers when they are near a specific store. Retail companies are taking this a step further by mapping customer behavior in-store to optimize store layout and inventory management.

As more and more industries harness the power of location intelligence, the public and the private sectors are also looking at this technology as a means to create better smart cities around the world.

Location intelligence growing smart cities.

The IESE Cities in Motion Index (CIMI) uses nine dimensions to measure the development of smart cities: human capital, social cohesion, economy, environment, governance, urban planning, international outreach, technology, and mobility and transportation.

The 2019 index (From the Business School at The University of Navarra) named London, New York, and Amsterdam as the smartest global cities based on these criteria, after reviewing 165 cities in 80 countries. Location intelligence plays a critical role in many of these nine dimensions, namely four key parts of any smart city.

Environment

Location intelligence can help with two parts related to the environment. First, natural disasters happen in large cities around the world, causing devastating consequences. From filing damage reports to opening lines of communication, location intelligence can help cities rebuild faster.

Second, location intelligence can help city developers better understand where to plan conservation projects and create green spaces around the city. The technology can also analyze air quality and measure the environmental impact a project will have during and after construction.

Urban planning

Location intelligence is crucial to 3D planning, which has become a considerable part of urban development. From the experimentation phase through construction, this technology helps make sure city planning improves the lives of those in the city and can also help to track and measure operational costs.

Technology

Technology powers almost every aspect of a smart city. According to IESE, (Media iese.edu research, University of Navarra) technology, “is an aspect of society that improves the present quality of life, and its level of development or spread is an indicator of the quality of life achieved or the potential quality of life.

In addition, technological development is a dimension that allows cities to be sustainable over time and to maintain or extend the competitive advantages of their production system and the quality of employment.” Location intelligence clearly aids in this endeavor, as both individuals and cities can use this technology to improve smart city functionality.

Mobility and transport

Smart cities around the globe are revolutionizing transportation using location and mobile data to improve traffic and congestion and optimize travel. City planners are able to harness location data to figure out where traffic is the heaviest, when, and why. Using that information, they can then solve these transit problems with new construction or more modes of transport.

Challenges: Privacy and security.

Data collection happens constantly. From ride sharing apps to food delivery services, consumers are constantly giving out location-based data. While the benefit of this is more customized services, the challenge is consumers are more aware and concerned about how their data is used.

Not only has customer awareness increased, but restrictions such as GDPR have forced companies to be more transparent in personal data collection. Furthermore, as technology advances, so do hackers intent on infiltrating these systems. Security concerns are widespread across the industry, and breaches come with heightened consequences.

On the privacy side, more consumer awareness might end up helping improve location intelligence. Consumers taking control of their data means smart cities can rely more on first-party data, rather than third-party aggregators who may not provide the most accurate data.

On the security side, this challenge will likely always remain and will take a combination of individuals protecting their own data and companies providing more transparent data use initiatives to tackle this challenge.

Location intelligence, however, will continue to grow and aid in the creation of better, smarter cities. Especially as this technology advances, and more cities compete to implement smart initiatives, more will come to rely on location intelligence as the crucial component.

Image Credit: Scott Webb; Pexels

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How COVID-19 is Driving Us into a Cloud-Based Future

How COVID-19 is Driving Us into a Cloud-Based Future

cloud-based future

With the advent of the COVID-19 global pandemic, many organizations have had to re-adjust the way they operate. Remote working is now a reality for large sections of the workforce. Remote collaboration through cloud-based platforms is an accepted part of most workdays. But the utility of cloud-based technology does not end there. Here is how COVID-19 is driving us into a cloud-based future.

A recent report indicates that in the next two years the cloud computing industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.5%. Already a strongly-emerging technology, cloud-based solutions are proving to be invaluable during a global health crisis where people can no longer work at a fixed site. The extent to which cloud-based technologies are driving us into the future are as follows:

Supporting Remote Work and the Freelance Economy

Continued productivity is vital as organizations shift to remote models of working. This is as important to corporate organizations as it is to schools and colleges. During COVID-19, many working and learning programs have continued with high levels of efficiency, thanks to highly-flexible, scalable, and efficient cloud-based solutions.

The seamlessness with which business has continued means that every responsible organization should have a cloud migration solution.

Demand for collaboration tools has seen unprecedented growth in platforms like Zoom and Slack. More entrenched office productivity tools such as Microsoft 365 also sees high demand. These tools are all cloud-based and their excellent conferencing, and productivity suites all enjoy the multiple benefits of the cloud.

When the pandemic eventually subsides, people will have to go back to work. But an increasing number of workers will not. The freelance economy has seen continued growth in recent years, with over 60 million Americans doing freelance work of some sort. Cloud computing is an invaluable tool that has allowed the freelance economy to take hold and thrive.

A boom in E-Commerce and the Fade of Brick and Mortar

As people have been stuck at home, the demand for e-commerce services has risen sharply. Retailers were already migrating away from brick and mortar into the online space before the global pandemic arrived.

Retail companies know that as e-commerce adoption rises, any cloud investment costs will be recouped through cloud cost reduction. This applies to cloud solutions also being responsible for overall reduced IT costs by obliterating the need for most traditional hardware such as servers.

The ways in which global supply chains have become embedded in e-commerce fulfillment points to an inevitable future internet of things. Service provider collaboration and integration happens at the level of the cloud between retailers and logistics service providers, resulting in a smooth and highly-efficient delivery system.

Through the robust scalability of the cloud and its forever switched-on nature, global supply chains can support the wants and whims of consumers everywhere. This has been shown during COVID-19, with online purchases spiking a staggering 146%, and supply chains barely breaking a sweat to deliver.

Growth of the Cloud in the Government Sector

Healthcare has come to prominence during the pandemic. It has benefited greatly from access to a scalable and secure cloud infrastructure. This has been necessary to manage patient information. With millions of people laid low by the virus, it has taken the need for efficient and accurate computing to a new level of importance.

The prominence of the cloud during the pandemic goes beyond patient records. Collaboration between various private and governmental agencies has risen to unprecedented levels. Virus development projects are being shared by many countries and institutions.

Additionally, virus contingency management information is being shared by nations across the world. All these efforts are underpinned by highly scalable and collaborative cloud-based tools.

It is for moments like these that governments were already moving towards a cloud-based future at great speed. Until recently, almost half of all government agencies in the US were actively using cloud services.

These agencies understand the power and versatility of private cloud networks, with benefits such as deep security and information sovereignty being crucial. Cloud adoption within government circles will only continue to rise.

Content Platforms Enjoying a Surge

Binge-consumption of TV and audio content has been a feature of the pandemic. Video-streaming services have reported a strong surge in new subscriptions since the enactment of lockdown orders in many countries.

Not to be outdone, music services and many podcasts and audiobook services have also reported large jumps in membership. The gaming industry has also reported large spikes in usage times. Support services such as mobile networks and internet service providers have benefited from these enforced behavior changes.

Cloud-Dependent Industries on the Rise

The SaaS segment was already a growth area, and its continued importance and growth potential has been revealed during COVID-19. Due to the many daily applications and tools driven by this service, the industry in its entirety is in the limelight.

Service desks, accounting packages, customer relationship management, human resource management, and enterprise resource planning all rely on the SaaS model. Infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and desktop as a service are all part of the cloud family and are all showing continued growth.

The new model of remote working depends on the streamlined continuation of business-critical services such as human resource management. Cloud service providers have been able to remotely manage and secure underlying infrastructure, allowing organizations to continue to function within their constraints. This versatility has been perfect during the pandemic and will continue to be perfect for the business of the future.

Robust and Sustainable Is the Way of the Future

If anything, the virus has taught us the danger of having all your data tied to office sites and fixed hardware installations. There has always been the danger of data loss through disasters on site. Data loss has been mitigated by on-site security, but cloud services offer a better way.

The better way of cloud services is because hardware inevitably deteriorates, can be stolen, corrupted, or become obsolete. When your data is simply inaccessible, as it has been during the pandemic, a better solution must be found.

There is also the matter of sustainability. Large organizations can collect vast amounts of hardware to house their information. It is the responsible thing to do to cut down your environmental footprint by putting everything in the cloud.

There are also downstream issues like energy efficiency and reduced building usage. Other sustainability wins come with the reduced need for workers to commute to the place where the information is held. These wins have come into sharp focus during the virus as many measures have revealed a cleaner planet, even if just temporarily.

Conclusion

The global pandemic has revealed that cloud services will continue to provide strategic flexibility and scalability for a number of organizations. The virus response would likely have been a lot less effective in a time before cloud services.

It is totally imaginable that habits like social distancing would have been impossible to achieve if people needed to be on-site to manage and control business-critical systems.

At this moment in time, cloud services may heavily favor sectors which are useful during a pandemic, but future prospects are robust across all sectors. There are also no geographical boundaries, with cloud services projected to increase in adoption across the world.

New cloud technologies like cloud direct connect, where private networks can join the cloud, will allow more and more types of organizations and networks to take part. Cloud computing is truly taking center stage in driving us into the future.

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The Impacts of COVID-19 on Sustainability and Technology

The Impacts of COVID-19 on Sustainability and Technology

covid sustainability and technology

Impact of COVID-19 – Coronavirus is not stopping, but it has stopped all the activities in the world. There are many efforts put in by all the governments to control these situations and make things easy for people. Most of the businesses are completely at a halt and have no way of earning revenue at this time. Students are stuck inside their homes, many of them have not even been given their exams. Here are the impact of COVID-19 on sustainability and technology.

It seems that everything is mismanaged and there are still things that are scaring everyone around the world.

Talking about sustainable resources we get to know that they are not being properly utilized and because of that there will be negative impacts. All the stations that generate energy will shut down way early as they will not be able to circulate the extra energy. There will be an accumulation of resources and that will create disbalance.

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the technology sector.

Impacts of COVID-19

Impact of COVID-19 over Industry

Many people are thinking about how COVID is affecting all industries. If we look at the enterprises that deal with these resources we will get to know the loss they are facing. No petroleum company is getting any revenue other than LPG. Transportation and Industries are at a halt and hence, electricity and fuel are not getting used — all of these happenings affect the sustainability of that industry.

There is one thing that is still giving relief to organizations and people around the world “Technology.” Without technology, everything would have been ten times harder for all of us right now. Many enterprises are being able to continue work by working from home. People who can provide services digitally are working, schools and colleges are working.

There are only a few types of enterprises that are at complete halt otherwise most of them are working. Almost all enterprises can utilize this time for marketing as most people are using the internet. Digital marketing is at its rescue. There are so many things that technology has done for people in this hard time. It is providing ways to learn new things, entertainment as well as all the important news.

Technology and sustainability are being the part of well being of providing solutions of COVID-19

Technology can only be beneficial to the environment only if it goes hand in hand with sustainability. There are people who are confined to their houses and not able to leave. In this scenario, only technology is helping them to work and connect with each other.

People all around the world are learning new and very different lifestyles. Such as the remote style of working and its challenges, remote and online schooling of children, and a whole different lifestyle in general due to the crisis happening worldwide.

Technology is greatly helping in coping up with stress and dealing with this new lifestyle. But when it comes to sustainability and climate change challenges, it is well-known that the virus has not spared political, geographical or religious boundaries. But like every cloud has a silver lining, this virus too has made some positive changes as per technology and sustainability perspective.

Role of technology in coronavirus crisis.

With the help of technology, the world is running all of its businesses and other services. Advanced technology is helping to get reliable information about the happenings of the world. Other than that, people rely on technology to connect with their family, friends and loved ones.

Nowadays, it has become the only source of entertainment as there are no ways to go out during nationwide lockdowns. People all around the world are learning new skills, getting updated, checking on to close people, and doing all that is necessary through technology only. Thus, it is being observed that it is providing extraordinary support to mitigate the negative effects of coronavirus in today’s scenario.

  1. Good health and well-being.

Technology is helping people with treatment at home. There are many IoT applications that are allowing healthcare companies to check and provide treatment to people remotely. People can also order medicines and test kits to their home and get treatment for most of the things. Remote treatment facilities have been improved and this is all because of the innovation and advancement in technology during the pandemic.

Scientists and developers are still working hard to offer people and healthcare companies with solutions that can help to keep everyone healthy in these hard times. It would never have been possible without the collaboration of healthcare services and technology.

There are many things that people have realized and there are many more to come. After this pandemic, most of the people will keep using these and there will be many benefits to both doctors and patients because of this. This will solve the problem of waiting for patients and crowded hospitals.

  1. Quality education.

There is no denial about the fact that there are many bad effects of closing down the educational institutes. Not just because children are not getting the education they need but also because of other things. There are many schools and colleges that provide shelter and food to many poor students, these are the places where many refugees stay.

All those people needed to vacate them and now they are struggling to stay alive, they do not have anything to survive on. But there are many positive impacts too and no one can ignore them. Colleges and schools have realized that they can teach no matter what happens.

Online lectures and examinations are working and that is keeping the flow going. There are many institutes that have created interactive courses that students can study at their own time and at their own pace, just like online course websites did. Most of the people have realized the importance of online courses and certifications. It is very easy to study remotely, although it is no replacement to in-class study still, it is a way to keep things going in the hard times.

  1. Responsible usage and production.

Responsible usage and production are some of the things that would not have been possible without this pandemic. There are so many retailers and traders who will have to re-plan their supply strategies.

There are many products that they discard or don’t pay attention to as they go out of trend or are not as usable as they were in the past, these products get wasted and so does the resources and material used to make them. In this time all these products can be used.

There are chances that in the times to come these products can be on the high demand lists. This will improve the reusability and the way people use things. There will be a balance in production activities too.

More old material and products will be reused to make the new ones. The supply chain will also see a change as there will be all the products that people didn’t buy in the past. This is now the time when people need things in any way possible.

Producing new things will take time and also money and both of them are not available the way people want. This is a good opportunity to recover the losses and manage the way the sales activities take place in the future. The government is also paying attention to these types of options. It will help them in managing things and there will be no scarcity of resources.

  1. Partnerships among enterprises.

It is a very smart step taken by many enterprises already that they have collaborated with other enterprises that helps them in working remotely. This is the time that provides people with so many partnership opportunities and it is all for the good.

Both consumers and businesses will get benefits from these kinds of partnerships. There are companies that can create 3D and AI-based applications that can help their clients and consumers understand things in a better way. These solutions are empowering enterprises to grow exponentially.

With each other’s help and constant hard work, enterprises in the world can reach the places that will help them a lot after all this ends. Many enterprises need solutions to deploy their services and products in the market. It is needed that they collaborate with some enterprise that can help.

The way partnerships are being made and the opportunity that is still left is something that will make things better for everyone. The government is also asking for partnerships with enterprises that can help them and the country in this hard time.

Impact of COVID-19 on sustainability

Above mentioned are the positive results that coronavirus brought to humans. The virus has also created a fresh and unimaginable impact on the nature and sustainability of the resources. The only way to prevent the virus from spreading is physical distancing.

For practicing physical distancing, countries have opted for lockdown in which only essential duties will be followed and the rest of the people will stay in quarantine and work remotely.

Due to distancing, there has been a drastic change in the way of living. Though people are still adjusting to this new lifestyle, it has been a boon for mother nature. There has been a significant drop in the consumption of electricity, gas and oil. Vehicles are being used less which is why energy is being consumed less and the pollution levels are decreased at significant levels.

Conclusion

Sustainable development can only happen if there is a perfect balance between technology, sustainability, and consumption. One must understand that even after this pandemic ends, it is important to be cautious about saving the energy for future generations and using renewable resources as much as possible.

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Zoombombing Was Just the Beginning – Securing Your Teams for Remote Work

Zoombombing Was Just the Beginning – Securing Your Teams for Remote Work

secure teams remote work

Ask any CEO what makes their product unique, and user experience will be at the top of the list. Products that are easy to use to ensure quick adoption and build brand loyalty are often at risk. It makes sense. After all, why use something difficult to navigate when there are easier solutions on the market? Here is zoombombing and how to secure your teams for remote work.

People searching for easy to navigate solutions has led to the boom of a build-it-first mentality.

But the COVID era has quickly shown the vulnerabilities in this approach with tools that have become critical to life during the pandemic. Many across the US are entering our third month of stay-at-home orders due to the spread of the coronavirus and looking towards a new standard of remote or flexible work — once things open back up.

The world is a different place than we left it before the pandemic and the writing is on the wall.

The way we work will never be the same. Take Twitter, which has said that employees have the option of never coming back to the office to work. While Facebook, Google and Slack have said they don’t expect workers back in the office until 2021 — if even then.

As we consider our new normal, it’s critical that we understand how we got to a place of enterprise communication being so easily hacked and learn from our mistakes. At a high level, corporations and corporate security people believe privacy is their enemy. They don’t worry about privacy; they worry about securing confidential data and ensuring they’re in compliance with regulations – privacy can be an effective tool to meet both of these goals.

The Zoombombing Craze

For example, “Zoombombing,” swept the nation at the height of COVID-19, affecting everything from a popular daily public WFH Happy Hour, to an online event hosted by Recode and New York Times journalists Kara Swisher and The Information’s Jessica Lessin.

Even SNL alum, Will Ferrell got in on the trend, promising 2020 USC grads a new car with their diplomas. Issues sprang from Zoom’s design choice that conference hosts “[do] not need to grant screen share access for another participant to share their screen.”

It’s tempting to shrug off “Zoombombing” as a tasteless prank.

Yes, a tasteless, if entertaining prank. Some don’t think about it in the context of a critical design flaw — but it underscores the security issues perfectly.

Without a clear market leader in the enterprise collaboration space, no service is safe — everyone is an obvious target. When work and our social lives moved online, Zoom became the clear frontrunner and therefore drew the attention of pranksters and cybercriminals alike.

Who bears responsibility? Certainly not the employees??

As we rushed into fully remote work – something many had never experienced before the pandemic – we adapted in live time. Coffee tables were cleared off for makeshift home offices, and we learned to work around our new and sometimes very distracting office mates (spouses, roommates, children and pets). We were largely trying to find the quickest solution to get back up and running after being displaced.

But the blame doesn’t necessarily come down on companies either.

Businesses were in triage to provide employees with new ways to communicate with each other. With how quickly everyone had to shift to communication and collaborating remotely, maintaining strict cybersecurity standards, wasn’t top of mind – even the DoD rolled them back. They simply assumed the remote solutions available would meet the mark believing the claims most companies had made that their solutions were end-to-end encrypted.

Flaws such as “Zoombombing” created by prioritizing ease of use in communication tools existed long before COVID-19, they were simply amplified as the pandemic spread.

The world is finally realizing that most communication platforms – chatting, video conferencing, or otherwise – were never designed to be highly secure tools. Not being highly secure was all fine when confidential work could be done in person. As we look towards a new standard of remote work — we need to be more critical not only of the tools deployed but the products we design.

How do you ensure that a platform is truly secure?

A good place to start with security — is end-to-end (E2E) encryption. True E2E encryption is the method of communication in which the users and only the users in communication can see messages or be included on a call.

One of the places Zoom faltered was by falsely marketing that its meetings were E2E encrypted.

But that would mean video call data is encrypted at all times in transit so that not even Zoom could access it? Zoom was merely delivering client-to-server encryption, something that Slack, Google, Skype, and most enterprise tools offer.

Client-to-server is a foundational level of encryption but it does not secure information fully from end to end.

As we can see from a slew of headlines — the encryption doesn’t stand up to increased attention from “advantageous threat actors.”  Now, something [and someone] is spending the next few months and millions of dollars to go back and fix.

Conclusion

We can’t change the past, but we can look to right these wrongs as we move forward. Our new mindset must include balancing ease of use with privacy and security. Things like preventing anyone not invited to a message or meeting to see or hear the content. Taking time to protect personal information and maintaining call histories for only as long as required by law. The highest priority is to make sure only the users can have access to it must become standard.

Speed and security are often at odds, which in the case of COVID-19 meant making trigger decisions around readily available technologies. We can learn from this experience though, and put better, more secure tools in place as we look towards our new state of work.

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Online Privacy: The 7 Best Tips to Protect Your Data

Online Privacy: The 7 Best Tips to Protect Your Data

protect your data

Nowadays, with the increasing volume of Internet access, there is also a considerable increase in the number of breaches on the network, waiting for the unsuspecting. Recently, in a number of countries, the percentage of users and companies who have suffered some form of cybercrime, fallen victim to illegal digital activities, and violated their online privacy has increased.

In today’s world, practically everyone is connected, whether to check their email, update on social networks, or even buy online. The truth is that we spend a large part of our lives connected to the Internet.

However, do we pay enough attention to what we do and, mainly, to the personal data we provide? Are we sure that we are protecting them properly?

7 tips on how to protect yourself online and have more privacy:

  1. Use trusted passwords.

The stronger your password, the more difficult a threat will be. For your passwords to be secure, they must contain capital letters, lowercase, numbers, special characters (@, #, etc.).

  1. Avoid unnecessary exposure.

Be very careful with the information you share on your social networks. Avoid posting data about where you live, such as address and phone number. Only provide personal data to trusted sites. Although many companies today ask for this personal information, check the origin of those companies, what data they need, and for what.

Another way to avoid risks with exposure is to always disconnect from the GPS when you no longer use it. To maintain your privacy online, the GPS service shows you in real-time where you are located. Being everywhere comes at a price. Always being connected can be useful for your work, but registering everywhere you go allows you to leave marks and records of your routes and preferences.

  1. Be careful with risky downloads.

Just download files from known websites. There are many free download sites for programs and applications that deceive their users. In many cases, when downloading the file, there is the hidden content that can destroy or take over stored data. Remember: always read the terms and conditions before installing an application or service.

  1. Always use antivirus.

Always install and update your antivirus. With it, you can better protect your computer or smartphone. Antivirus not only safeguards you from malicious files and viruses, but it also helps protect your personal information.

  1. Backup culture.

Backup is one of the best ways to protect against the loss of your data. So, if you are a victim of theft or damage to your computer and smartphone, you will have a copy of everything. Make regular backups. In addition to external hard drives, you can choose to backup in real-time to the cloud.

  1. Updates are important.

Sometimes it can bother the warnings to update your Apps because they take up some memory space. But in reality, updates are needed and made to keep your data safe.

  1. Use of encryption.

Finally, this measure is important. Many applications today already use encryption in their messages. Avoid using programs that do not use encryption, especially in instant messaging. With it, even the service provider will not have access to your conversations.

For a coherent internet.

We have seen that risks on the Internet always exist, but we will not stop surfing. Everything you do has its consequences, whether for better or for worse. However, the issue of online privacy has a profound social impact on our current society and one that does not escape the digital issue of laws, for example.

Today we discuss how our data are used by companies, such as machine learning and various other methods that take over decisions, such as artificial intelligence.

Today, protecting user data has become increasingly important in the midst of an open network movement zone. A data breach today is the action of a cybercriminal who successfully infiltrates a data source and extracts your confidential information.

Data in today’s world.

Today, data has become a priority for many companies. And as new technologies evolve, they can improve their methods of capturing and analyzing data. In the immediate future, executives will only use artificial intelligence to eliminate repetitive programming and research tasks. The way to approach online data privacy is already a concern, for example, by European countries, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

GDPR is designed to protect users’ online privacy and provide more control over their personal data. The idea is for the regulation to be ethical and consistent with technologies, companies, and users following the principles of purpose limitation, data minimization, transparency, and the right to information.

The best path will always be the one with the highest security. When it comes to online privacy, as noted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in August 2018, the “big data analysis and artificial intelligence allow more and more states and companies to obtain refined information on the lives of people,” and we often don’t realize what they are used for.

The truth is that we should not expose ourselves to unnecessarily on the Internet.

Conclusion

With these seven tips put in place, they will help you greatly reduce the chances of your information falling into the wrong hands.

Being aware of digital security issues keeps you on the right path to protecting the online privacy of your data. After all, you will not always know what and how much data is being collected at this time.

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10 Ways to Skyrocket Business Growth Using Blockchain Technology

10 Ways to Skyrocket Business Growth Using Blockchain Technology

blockchain

Blockchain technology is cementing its position in the business marketplace to help you get more customers. Gratefully, the first thing that blockchain will help with is better security. But it’s going to take some time for the business community to adopt blockchain properly. With that being said, I’m going to explain ten unique benefits that blockchain technology will offer.

While some in the business community are hesitating to adopt the blockchain tech right now — all business will likely be forced to adopt blockchin tech in the future. Without the benefits of blockchain, businesses will be considered entirely outdated. Blockchain will take over almost every aspect of the business community. To safeguard your business, you will want to follow the blockchain trend, so that you and your business will be on the cutting edge of tech — and be able to compete in the future.

Helps Build Trust with Customers

Most businesses are under the wrong impression that their employees are the only ones who will be affected by the adoption of blockchain technology. Some erroneously think that blockchain might ruin their relationship with the respective clientele.

Surveys show many companies share a mindset sticking to the old ways to entertain long-term clients. Instead, we will urge you to provide your long-term clients better value as keeping a long-term client is far more important than acquiring a new one.

Blockchain can help you in this regard. The biggest fear that most business share is upgrading to blockchain systems will leave the current customer systems obsolete. Well, we are not going to dismiss this fact, because new technologies do take over old ones. While this is a drastic change, it offers several benefits like a better sense of security for the transaction, chat, and privacy.

Also, this change is going to take effect. Businesses that don’t adopt this technology willingly in time, will be forced to adopt it in the future or else they will lose their competitive edge. So, stay ahead of the trends and adopt it before anyone else.

Makes Fundraising Easy

There was a time when applying for a loan at a bank was the only way to fund your business. Fortunately, things have changed dramatically over time, and now you have several ways to fund your business venture, including Crowdlending or Crowd Fundraising.

Now, even if this is a far more feasible option than applying for a bank, this method has its challenges. Regardless, Initial Coin Offering or ICO has become the most popular way to raise funds for your business.

ICO is an initial coin offering which is also called a token sale. This raises funds by offering investors a token in the shape of cryptocurrency in exchange for real money or digital assets like Bitcoin or any other digital currency.

Prevents Spammy Ads

Blockchain will play an instrumental role to make digital ads less intrusive and prevent digital fraud. Now, businesses can use blockchain technology and build goodwill among their clients. But it doesn’t matter what you do, blockchain technology is going to make this change anyway as it will make online advertisement better for everyone.

Users will have a say on what sort of advertisement they want to see when they surf the internet. This means the content creator will get highly relevant traffic without begging any intermediaries to get it.

Improves Online Security

One of the biggest benefits of mainstream adoption of Blockchain is it offers Encryption and Validation. Everything that will happen will be within encryption. It helps to protect data from being altered. Thanks to the distributed nature, you will check the signatures across ledgers on all nodes in the network and confirm no one changed anything.

This will be rather useful for storage solutions, Private messages (between company/ clients or between friends on social media), Safer DNS, and IoT security. Blockchain will have several benefits for cybersecurity, but it will take some time before these improvements can affect how we use the internet.

Easy Payment Options

While online transactions are safer than ever, they still pose a danger to the user’s confidential information. Blockchain can help in this regard as this decentralized platform can help make payments transparent, and tamper-proof which will reshape the revolutionize the financial ecosystem.

The blockchain technology will help verify and secure data without any third party. Put simply, it lets you carry financial transactions without the need of a payment processor like a Bank, PayPal, Credit Card, it’s pure internet.

Blockchain technology helps make your financial transaction secure as it gets rid of central points of attack and failure, it improves enhances security to tamperproof with some fewer errors. This makes the process efficient and economical. Blockchain makes sure the transaction can’t be changed, and history is only viewed by people involved or allowed. It is not open like other platforms.

Blockchain for Insurance Industry

Blockchain will bring some positive changes to the insurance industry as well. These changes can be anything like efficiency gains, cost savings, faster payouts, transparency, and fraud mitigation. This lets the data to share in real-time between various parties in a trusted and traceable way. The blockchains will enable new insurance practices, which let in build better products and markets.

The insurance companies operate a highly competitive environment in which retail and corporate customers get the best value for money and superior online experience. Blockchain technology represents an occasion for a positive change and growth in the insurance industry.

The Ethereum smart contracts and decentralized applications, insurance can be conducted over blockchain accounts, it introduces more automaton and tamper-proof audit trails. The low cost of smart contracts and transactions mean the product is rendered more competitive for penetration of underinsured markets in the developing world.

The emerging trends will take some time but blockchain cyber insurance will be taken as a template, with extensions and endorsement, professional liability, and surety bonds, insurers will have to work with tech companies to assess risk and advise them for loss control and mitigation.

Enables Direct Selling

Blockchain will change the monopoly of social selling.  It disrupts current power imbalances and open industry to the broader retail sector. Blockchain tech is a decentralized and open source. The features can help empower sellers to work and prevent the customer data to be centrally controlled. The open-source aspect blockchain technology which lowers entry cost, it allows new merchants to enter space.

There is some blockchain social selling platform and these platforms have been successful since its inception. With a better sense of security, you can easily integrate your catalog.

Protects Your Information

Blockchain has top of the line encryption and validation. This way, everything that takes place in the blockchain is encrypted, and it’s easy to prove, and the data has not to be altered. The distributed nature, you can see check file signatures across and ledgers on all nodes.

The network and verify that nothing changed.  One thing we would like to mention here is that blockchain is virtually impossible to hack. This technology can be both private and public.

Better Auditing

Audit means the assessment of recorded transactions, which are supported by some evidence that the assessment of transaction is reliable, relevant, objective, accurate, and can be verified. When a bitcoin transaction for something, the transfer is recorded on the blockchain.

As a functionality, the blockchain will serve as an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two party’s efficiency and are in a verifiable and permanent way. The blockchain is used to verify the reported transactions.

Independent Energetics

Blockchain Technology will play a major role in the energy and sustainability sector. This ranges from utility providers to oil, gas, enterprises which are recognizing the transformative impact of blockchain technology. The industry will be catalyzed by innovation including rooftop solar, electric and smart metering.

The blockchain will spur growth in the energy sector as the smart contracts and systems have become interoperable. There are several use cases for the environment.  It might include new business models for the energy market, real-time data management, and moving carbon credits which will renewable and use then as certificates for blockchain.

The distributed ledger tech will improve efficiency for the utility provider as it tracks the chain of grid material. It goes beyond the provenance tracking; this technology does offer renewable energy distribution. As for the large energy sectors, they will take advantage of the implementation of enterprise Ethereum solutions.

The main benefits of blockchain technology for the energy sector will be cutting down costs, help to sustain the environment. While ton this, make sure you have excellent transparency for the stakeholders as it never compromises your privacy.

Conclusion

Blockchain offers several benefits to the business. It doesn’t matter If you are a business owner or entrepreneur who either wants to start their new business or maintain their already established business, this technology as something in store for you.

Above, we have discussed different ways of how blockchain will help businesses to advertise themselves and expand their reach. Now, these things will take a few years to be adopted by the mainstream industry. But you can always adapt it early to stay ahead of the trend.

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The Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes Businesses Are Still Making

The Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes Businesses Are Still Making

The Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes Businesses Are Still Making

Despite evidence of multi-billion-dollar cybersecurity vulnerabilities in some of the world’s most trusted organizations, businesses still aren’t taking cybersecurity seriously. Big corporations are finding reasons to skimp on their cybersecurity budgets, cutting costs rather than investing in their infrastructure, and small business owners are simply negligent of the threat that cybersecurity issues present.

So why is cybersecurity still so underutilized and underappreciated, and what are the most common mistakes business owners are making?

Failing to Take Cybersecurity Seriously

One of the biggest issues here is that business owners continue to not take cybersecurity seriously—or at least not take it seriously enough. For big businesses, this is due to a combination of factors. For example, they may already be spending millions of dollars on IT teams and cybersecurity tools, and they may not have a barometer for whether or not this investment is “enough.” They may also struggle to see the results of their investments; after all, if your cybersecurity strategy is working, you won’t be the target of any major attacks or hacks.

On top of this, big organizations often struggle with departmental silos. Cybersecurity experts find themselves isolated from the rest of the organization, unable to provide direction or advice or limited in their abilities to influence the organization. Accordingly, people in other departments don’t give cybersecurity much thought.

For small businesses, the prevailing attitude is “we’re too small to be a target,” even though small businesses are some of the most common targets for cybercriminals. When faced with a steep bill for even the most basic cybersecurity measures, small businesses are disinclined to spend the money.

In any case, if a business doesn’t treat cybersecurity as important, they aren’t going to do enough to protect themselves.

Treating Cybersecurity Reactively Instead of Proactively

For cybersecurity to be effective, it needs to be done proactively. You need to put in the work long before you suffer from a data breach or opportunistic attack; if you wait until you know for sure you’re a possible victim, it will already be too late.

This is the difference between proactive and reactive cybersecurity. After suffering a data breach, companies are much more keen to invest in the infrastructure necessary to prevent another, similar attack in the future; but if they had done this in the first place, they could have saved millions, if not billions of dollars.

It’s much better to make cybersecurity a routine—something you invest in and improve continuously, even when things seem quiet.

Establishing Cybersecurity as a Separate Department

It’s tempting to think of cybersecurity as its own department, or as a subsection of your IT department. This approach allows you to hire experts in the field, and funnel funding specifically toward this cause. While this isn’t necessarily a bad strategy, this can be misleading—and possibly leave you open to attacks in other areas.

Instead, cybersecurity is something that’s best executed with teamwork and collaboration. For example, teams employing DevOps practices often work hard to ensure that security is incorporated into every stage of the development process—and isn’t simply shoehorned in at the end.

The big problem you’re trying to solve is that security vulnerabilities exist everywhere, in every department of your organization and with every individual. Only by working together will you be able to reduce these vulnerabilities to a minimum.

Implementing Bad Password Practices

Speaking of individual vulnerabilities, too many modern organizations still suffer from bad password practices. The majority of cyberattacks and digital breaches aren’t because of an insanely skilled hacker, but instead are due to an individual (possibly an unskilled one) finding, guessing, or stealing a password. With the right login credentials, anyone can be considered a “hacker.”

Password strategies can go wrong in many ways. Your people may choose weak or easy-to-guess passwords, like those that feature common words or predictable series of numbers. They may fail to update those passwords on a regular basis. Or they may have bad habits related to password storage; for example, they may keep a list of passwords written down on a sticky note by their desk.

Some organizations also use organization-wide passwords, copying and pasting the same sequences for all people across all platforms. This leads to a massive vulnerability.

Choosing the Wrong Software

There’s also something to be said for choosing the “right” software for your organization. Most companies need a variety of different tools to operate effectively, including CRM platforms, project management platforms, and communication platforms. Each of these is going to represent a potential point of vulnerability; these apps store information related to your business, and if breached, could represent a real problem for you.

Accordingly, you’ll need to think carefully about the tools you use. Pay attention to the reputation of the developers, and find out what kind of security measures are available; for example, some apps will employ features like AI designed for cybersecurity, or robust encryption standards.

Failing to Update Consistently

No matter how skilled a developer is, no software is perfectly coded. No matter what, there are going to be security vulnerabilities and issues with long-term integrity. If and when someone figures this out, they can take advantage of the flaw.

Fortunately, most development teams and open source communities are constantly on the lookout for new potential threats—and when they find one, they implement a patch to fix it.

Here’s the thing—the patch only works if you download it. Yet, many organizations fail to update their software or devices consistently. The easiest approach here is to mandate automatic updates, but many businesses simply allow their employees to update as they see fit—which isn’t as often as it should be.

Pinning Hopes on a Single Solution

There are several products and services that can minimize your security vulnerabilities, including firewalls, antivirus software, and virtual private networks (VPNs). However, too many business owners pin all their hopes on a single solution. They believe that since they’re using a firewall, they’re practically bulletproof.

However, complete data protection requires you to pay close attention to a number of potential threats, studying the landscape and employing unique solutions to guard against them. If you’re only using one or two techniques, you’re probably leaving yourself open to attack in some other way.

Neglecting Personal Device Vulnerabilities

Most businesses these days have some variant of a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. This works well for both businesses, which can save money on purchasing employee devices, and employees, who can exercise more control over what type of devices they use and how they use them. However, personal devices brought onto your network can pose a major security risk if your employees aren’t managing their devices correctly.

Additionally, employees may use their devices (with company accounts) or company devices on public Wi-Fi networks that are unsecured—a major risk for attacks.

Failing to Train Staff

One of the most common reasons for small business cyberattacks is simple employee mistakes. Most cybercriminals aren’t sophisticated hackers, but instead are opportunists—looking for ways to exploit basic ignorance or errors. For example, they may try to trick your employees into giving up their login credentials, or they may simply wait for an opportunity to conveniently learn more about your organization through social engineering. The better informed your staff members are, and the more trained they are in cybersecurity practices, the fewer vulnerabilities you’ll face. Unfortunately, most business owners neglect this.

There’s no easy way to get business owners to take cybersecurity seriously, especially when there are already many examples of businesses losing billions of dollars because of lax security habits. However, the more you know about the common failings of cybersecurity in businesses, the more proactively you’ll be able to work to prevent such disasters from happening to you.

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8 Reasons to Implement an MFT Strategy

8 Reasons to Implement an MFT Strategy

MFT strategy

Today’s businesses need to adhere to various security standards (e.g., PCI DSS, HIPAA, the GDPR) not only to prevent the high costs associated with data breaches but also to avoid hefty penalties.

However, ensuring the security of data transferred among employees, partners, vendors, and customers is becoming increasingly challenging due to the large amount of data that organizations need to handle and protect. One wrong step, such as lack of file encryption in just one workflow, could cost you dearly.

Thankfully, you can enhance the safety of your file transfer processes by using proven technologies, such as managed file transfer (MFT) software, without straining your IT resources or interrupting current business processes.

What’s Managed File Transfer (MFT)?

MFT solutions are designed to help organizations reduce the complexity of and costs associated with file transfer. They help improve cybersecurity by replacing vulnerable legacy file transfer protocols, such as FTP.

An MFT software solution is an all-in-one technology that automates and encrypts file transfers.

The administrator of the file transfer can access the program via a centralized dashboard from anywhere and perform tasks needed. The tasks can include:

  • Sending encrypted files.
  • Receiving and decrypting sensitive documents.
  • Scheduling batch file transfers.
  • Sharing information with partners via external servers or cloud-computing platforms.
  • Reviewing audit logs.
  • Generating audit reports for compliance.

Using an MFT solution, you can automate workflows, increase efficiency, minimize manual file transfer, and reduce the need for custom scripting.

8 Reasons for Implementing an MFT Strategy

There are many reasons why organizations should implement an MFT strategy to improve the safety and efficiency of their file transfer processes:

1. MFT Helps Ensure Compliance with Data Security Regulations.

An MFT software offers a high level of security to protect critical data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) in healthcare or credit card payment information in banking.

It helps you effectively eliminate many vulnerabilities from your business communication processes. This will help you not only prevent costly data breaches but also avoid fines associated with the violation of stringent industry regulations.

Most MFT solutions are compliant with common requirements (e.g. PCI DSS, HIPAA, HITECH, and the GDPR.) You can use various features, such as auditing, reporting, role-based access, centralized security controls, key management, encryption, and secure protocols to protect sensitive information.

2. MFT Provides an Audit Log for Your File Transfer Activities.

There are many situations in which you need to audit your file transfers. For example, a business partner requests an overview of the month’s transfer activities, you need to troubleshoot a failed file transfer, or you need to launch an investigation for a data breach.

MFT software stores detailed audit records for all file transfer activities and some also offer the capability to search the audit log for specific terms, users, or date ranges. You can get details about the transfer workflows and investigate whether each step succeeded or failed.

3. MFT Enhances Security Without the Hassle.

If you have been using FTP for file transfer, it’s time for an upgrade. FTP is an old technology that doesn’t meet modern security standards and fails to protect files whether they’re sent through private or public networks.

You should also consider upgrading to MFT software if you have been using homegrown solutions, which often have many security gaps and vulnerabilities that can easily be exploited by hackers. Not to mention, their maintenance is often time-consuming and labor-intensive.

With an MFT solution, you don’t have to worry about the risk, maintenance, and programming needed to set up a file transfer protocol. The software is easy to use and you can schedule batch transfers to improve efficiency. Secure data exchange methods such as SFTP, FTPS, and HTTPS help ensure that all the files are properly encrypted.

4. MFT Minimizes the Impact of IT Downtime.

Did you know that system downtime costs organizations an average of $100,000 an hour? While not all downtime is preventable, you can mitigate its impact on your organization by making sure that critical file transfer systems and servers are available to minimize delays.

A robust MFT solution offers active-passive and active-active (i.e. clustering) methods to help keep your processes running even if you encounter other IT issues. For example, clustering ensures the highest availability by running multiple servers concurrently so your communications won’t be disrupted if one server goes down.

5. MFT Helps You Comply with Government Requirements.

If your organization services government agencies, you’re required to follow special reporting and encryption requirements issued by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These requirements are complex so it’s very challenging and inefficient to build a homegrown solution that meets all the criteria.

On the other hand, an MFT solution can fulfill various NIST requirements with FIPS 140-2 compliant AES and Triple DES encryption algorithms, audit logs and reports, secure authentication and user controls, etc. As such, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you get a government contract.

6. MFT Facilitates Secure File Exchange in the Cloud.

As more businesses are migrating to cloud computing, you’ll inevitably need to exchange files in the cloud — whether within the organization or among partners, vendors, and customers.

However, it’s often challenging to maintain proper cybersecurity practices in these situations. For example, how can you be certain that it’s safe to store sensitive files on a third-party cloud?

Advanced MTF solutions allow organizations to streamline and automate their cloud file transfers to platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services with strong encryption, whether the files are at rest or in transit.

7. MFT Streamlines Workflows with Third-party Integrations and Automation.

Some MTF applications also offer integrations with popular cloud-based services such as Box, Salesforce, and Google Drive. This helps promote the movement of data between on-premise environments and a variety of cloud applications.

The automation allows you to streamline workflows, increase efficiency, and minimize errors or bottlenecks caused by manual processes. Meanwhile, you can continue to use the many cloud-based productivity tools and add an extra layer of security without interrupting your current business processes.

8. MFT Reduces Your IT Costs.

Devising your own file transfer solution while keeping up with the many security standards can be very expensive. Not only do you need to create custom scripts and single-function tools but you also have to invest in IT resources for ongoing maintenance and upgrade so the program meets the latest cybersecurity protocols.

An MFT solution eliminates many manual processes and therefore overhead costs associated with IT maintenance. Not to mention, the many automation features also allow you to increase efficiency and cut down on time-consuming manual tasks that can be costly in the long-run.

Conclusion: Improve Security and Cost-efficiency with an MFT Solution

To stay competitive and optimize profits in today’s complex business environment, you can’t afford to overlook the security and cost-efficiency of your data transfer processes.

Using an MFT solution allows you to leverage the latest cybersecurity measures to ensure the safety of your business-critical information.

MFT Guidelines helps you stay compliant with increasingly complex and stringent regulatory guidelines while streamlining the workflows so critical information can flow smoothly among various stakeholders to optimize operational efficiency.

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Role of Big Data in the Evolution of the Financial Industry

Role of Big Data in the Evolution of the Financial Industry

big data and financial

The financial industry has always been a highly competitive sector. Considering how disruptive technologies like Big Data have reached their maturation, big data can be made a beneficial part of the financial industry. Businesses can harvest big data for security, personalization, and investment decisions.

Big Data is bringing forth new datasets that can help understand customer behavior and improve the area of predictive analysis. With this data-driven approach, let’s take a look at how Big Data is transforming the financial industry.

Enhanced Product Diversity

As stated previously, Big Data is now highlighting new datasets that are a powerful medium to understand the customer psyche and accordingly offer them new and improved financial services.

For example, companies now operate fintech Robo-advisors that offer holistic advice regarding digital investments. Given that these Robo-advisors make use of Big Data to gather insight on customer spending patterns and other parameters for personalization, the advice tendered will also be extremely relevant for the customer. Similarly, other services like loan availability, customer risk analysis, etc. can be included in the list of financial products.

Market Analytics

Investors can effectively tap into the potential offered by big data to analyze market trends and make smarter investments. Several companies have cutting-edge predictive systems in place, which can not only understand large volumes of data but also interpret them to offer informed investment decisions.

With AI-powered trading, investors can increase the profitability of their investments. As a result, the area of market investments is no longer limited to veterans or seasoned investors but also extends to newbies who wish to try their hand at capitalizing on market gains.

Robust Security

In the financial industry, certain services are more vulnerable to security lapses and frauds. Thus, big data can play a vital role in plugging these gaps and keeping customers safer. Lending institutions and banks are making use of a combination of machine learning and big data (clearinghouse.org) to automate their security. Further, it keeps them two steps ahead of any miscreant who looks at exploiting security loopholes, especially in outdated systems.

Location intelligence keeps track of where the customer is using the financial service. It also monitors the kind of products or services that they normally purchase and the number of transactions per cycle. With this information, big data can monitor and highlight deviations from the regular purchase patterns to alert and protect users from fraud.

Fewer Manual Processes

Big data will usher with it the era of artificial intelligence and machine learning. As a result, manual and repetitive processes like documentation, looking up customer history, etc. can be automated through algorithms. Furthermore, it also decreases the response time while also abiding by the prevailing regulatory structure.

While cutting down manual processes does offer a customer-centric approach, it is feared that it will jeopardize the job security of individuals involved in these manual processes. This fear is exacerbated by the fact that technologies are more efficient, more accurate, and much cheaper. However, the displaced human resource can be utilized in new and diversified positions after thorough training.

Customer-Centric Perks

Personalized services are one of the key takeaways of big data-assisted financial services. On the basis of the customer’s spending habits, financial institutions can offer personalized recommendations and upsell products that will meet their needs. With this value-added approach, the companies can develop customer loyalty across all verticals and enjoy a strong consumer presence.

Accurate Risk Analysis

Previously, financial services like loans were based on one or two factors like credit score, debt-to-income ratios, etc. However, Big Data has diversified these datasets and introduced several variables that can offer a more concrete and individualistic risk assessment of the individual.

Machine learning factors in economic conditions, business capital, customer segmentation, etc. in an unbiased manner to identify risky investments or defaulters.

Key Challenges

While, on paper, Big Data may appear like the ultimate solution for all financial institutions, it does bring with it certain challenges. These obstacles may be company-specific and include:

Data Volume

Big Data is characterized by three “V”s: Volume, Velocity, and Variety. Essentially, it means that Big Data technologies handle vast quantities of data in a static and real-time environment while supporting multiple data types. Financial companies are either unable to compute such volumes of data or cannot access this from multiple channels. Moreover, data silos make it difficult to integrate all the collected Big Data.

As a result, they are unable to tap into the full potential of Big Data.

Accuracy and Quality

Diluted and inaccurate data is of no apparent use. Companies have to make use of reliable data to capitalize on the opportunity. When it comes to the financial industry, it becomes even more imperative to seek accurate and reliable data, which is a major challenge faced by several institutions.

Security and Integrity

Banking and financial institutions shall have to maintain the highest standards of safety and security when storing sensitive personal data of their customers. Any security breach or possible threat could result in a severe loss of trust. Some companies may not be prepared to offer this level of data security.

Regulations

In addition to online regulations, there are several banking regulations regarding data security, consumer privacy, reporting, and transparency. Adhering to these regulations while also keeping to digital safety can be a difficult task to balance.

Final Thoughts

In the years to come, it is clear that Big Data will revolutionize how we perceive the financial industry. Big data will give companies an insight into customer behavior and profile the individual into certain types. Resultantly, this data can be of extreme value to businesses to further their business and establish a loyal customer base.

It is only a matter of time until Big Data emerges as a second currency in the financial industry.

Image Credit: Carlos Muza; Unsplash

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