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2021 business strategies AI Connected Devices Data and Security data science Data scientists Soft skills

5 Vital Soft Skills Data Scientists Must Possess in 2021

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Technical skills are overrated, particularly in data science. Many data scientists quickly realize that much of their job challenges aren’t due to what they can or cannot do. Rather, the mentality with which they approach tasks matters a lot.

For instance, a data scientist who has mastered communication will present their insights better than their more (technically) skilled counterpart whose reports are jumbled. Likewise, extrapolating insights from raw data require a huge dose of creativity and critical thinking, both of which are not taught as technical skills but must instead be developed personally.

Other soft skills that are necessary for data scientists include business aptitude, problem-solving, and adaptability.

All of these are time-proof skills that transcend technological innovations. Success in 2021 and beyond as a data scientist will heavily rely on the development of these soft skills.

Critical Thinking

This author defines critical thinking as “the judicious and objective analysis, exploration and evaluation of an issue or a subject in order to form a viable and justifiable judgment.�

Critical thinking is often regarded as the most essential skill in data science.

It makes you well-informed, enhances your judgment, and makes you better equipped to make more effective decisions. As a data scientist, you must be capable of examining the available data from multiple perspectives. To develop critical thinking, do the following:

  • Question your assumptions: as a scientific field, your job is to apply empirical methods to analyzing data and extracting insights. However, the human mind remains subject to all kinds of biases and presuppositions. You must thoroughly interrogate them to hone your reason and avoid decision pitfalls.
  • Engage different perspectives: As social beings, we are drawn to people who act and think like us. But the lack of healthy dissent leads to poor decision-making. Thinking critically means consistently seeking out fresh perspectives. This doesn’t necessarily mean disagreement; it could be as simple as connecting with colleagues from another department in order to understand their outlook.

Communication

The purpose of data analysis is to make informed decisions. And your responsibility as a data scientist includes being able to present your findings in a clear manner to the non-data-scientists who have to make the decisions.

Your non-technical audience needs to know how you reached a specific conclusion, the justification for your methods, the implication of your findings, and why you consider one solution better than the other.

You can make your presentation more effective through storytelling. As Brent Dykes says in his book, Effective Data Storytelling,  “…narratives are more compelling than statistics if your goal is to make an impact on your audience.”

Visuals achieve the same effect; when used right, they help your audience see and understand patterns between scraps of data. Your insights don’t matter unless you can make others understand it and drive them to take the necessary actions.

Problem Solving

A data scientist is like a detective. Both workers investigate the available facts and data to address problems. In one case, the purpose is to solve crimes; on the other, the purpose is to deliver business value.

Data is what we make of it. And a data scientist needs to be resolute at, and equipped for, investigating issues to the root. Project managers love a data scientist who can identify creative solutions to problems.

For instance, discovering that your company’s customers behave in a certain way is different from why they behave so. And even then, the job is most likely not done. You must still use the available data to determine how to make the customers behave differently or to make the company adapt to the customers’ habits.

Data science is a continuous job of evaluating data and weighing options, determining why one approach to fulfilling a goal is better than the other. The consequences of your conclusions could be massive; so you need to get it right, at least based on the data available to you at the time.

Practice makes you a better problem-solver. There are websites that help you learn to tackle various data science challenges with real business impacts.

Business Aptitude

Analyzing data is one thing; contextualizing it to solve real business problems is another. Dr. N. R. Srinivasa Raghavan of Infosys is widely quoted thus: data science is more than just number crunching: it is the application of various skills to solve particular problems in an industry.

Without a good understanding of business processes and operations (such as supply chains, customer service, finance, human resources, logistics), it would be impossible to extrapolate actionable insights.

Data science is a field involving so much theory but has far-reaching practical implications. Therefore, a good data analyst is one that understands the business model and can quickly adapt to various business situations.

How does the business work? How does your company work? What do you know about your industry? How does your company make money? What product/service does your company deliver, and how does that work? What makes your company lose money? Who are your competitors?

These questions, and more, are important to understanding business operations. You can develop this by research. But you first need to possess a keenness for business and understand that data science is not just about Python, SQL and all the technical parts.

Adaptability

Adaptability has to do with how quickly you are able to adjust to new conditions, which may be positive or negative. In this information age, innovation grows at such a rapid pace that it is often difficult to keep up. We are living in a world of possibilities, and what’s new today can become outdated in a few months or years.

In fact, the tools you use for data analysis five years from now may be different from the ones you employ today.

Adaptability is also important for moments of crisis, a time when data scientists come under greater pressure to deliver. Consider the COVID-19 pandemic. The global spread of this virus has disrupted business operations everywhere and altered, perhaps permanently, the course of work and business.

When there is a setback, people seek answers; they want to know exactly what went wrong and how they can move forward.

Today, everyone relies on data. In this world of several unprecedented changes, you must be ready to adjust to the prevailing trends.

Conclusion

Soft skills deal with how you approach data. You may know all the technical bits of data analysis, but a wrong approach almost always leads to wrong results.

More importantly, the technical aspects may change. In five years or a decade, the currently popular data science tools may be entirely out of the limelight, edged by newer advanced tools.

But skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving will endure. Developing these skills early is a great way to secure your career in the future.

Image Credit: pixaby; pexels

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business Data and Security Hack Internet of Things IoT Mobile ReadWrite Software software security

Why Your Business Needs Non-Stop Software Security

software security

Have you ever lost 30 minutes of creative works on your computer? Or has it suddenly occurred to you that you have a great piece of data that will augment a business proposal, only to discover that the data is missing? Oh – how frustrating!

Data loss occurs for various reasons

  • 78 percent – Hardware or system malfunction
  • 11 percent – Human error
  • 7 percent – Software corruption or program malfunction
  • 2 percent – Computer viruses
  • 1 percent – Natural disasters
  • 1 percent – Other acts.

Impact of critical data loss across global enterprises

Meanwhile, research reveals that global enterprises lose a whopping sum of 1.7 Trillion dollars due to data loss and downtime. And this excludes disruption of business activities, the loss of productivity, the diminished customers’ loyalty, the break of investor’s confidence, the cost of time spent on reconfiguration, and lots more.

While it may be difficult to establish a precise impact of data loss and downtime on organizations, it’s obvious that it would, sure, have a radical negative effect.

With a seamless increase in web adoption and constant acceptance of new technologies, both small and large scale businesses have been able to share important data as regards their products and services — using the web-as-a-service, Waas.

Hackers can compromise corporate networks

Meanwhile, hackers are seriously looking for ways to compromise the corporate network of several industries. As a matter of fact, the Verizon Data Breach Report reveals that 15.4 percent of reported incidents were related to malware and web application attacks.

Also, many of the most fatal breaches that covered the media in the past few years were caused by web-application and software security vulnerabilities. A very good example is the Equifax breach.

Simply put, “business websites possess the greatest threat to organizational security.�

Watch your data loss due to website and software patches

A sizable number of business sectors have experienced (or will experience) data loss due to website and software patches. This has reduced the efficiency and productivity of these organizations to the barest minimum. Little wonder why 70 percent of firms that experience data loss run out of business within one year of the attack. (DTI)

You may not know when the next attack could occur, but taking proper precautions can hamper or completely abolish a hacker’s attempt at gaining access to your business website.

Why your business website needs software security programs

1. Monitoring and detection

How satisfying will it be to have effective and efficient protection of your business website against the worst threat ever?

Using a software security program means your business web is on the watch, and any single vulnerability will be detected on the spot.

Software security companies provide website security scanners that check your website at predetermined intervals to detect any malicious action. You can rest assured that you’ll receive an alert as well as the next line of action when this happens.

Not only does website security monitoring protect you and your customers, but it protects your website’s rankings by checking a variety of different blacklists, and notifying you if you have been placed on one.

2. Performance optimization

Do you know that Google, Bing, and other search engines, use site speed as a ranking factor?

We live in a world where nobody is ready to wait for anything. We have become accustomed to business websites and apps working instantly and perfectly. As a matter of fact, a study reveals that 47 percent of customers abandon business websites that take more than 3 seconds to load!

Performance optimization is a major reason why your business website needs software security programs. Besides SEO, a site performance typically revolves around reducing the overall size of web pages. This includes the size of the files and perhaps, more importantly, the number of them.

3. Fast disaster or data recovery

In an age where data is king, the idea that data can be lost so easily should be enough to encourage businesses to take steps to protect it.

The U.S National Cyber Security Alliance found that 60 percent of companies are unable to sustain their businesses over six months after a data breach.

According to the Ponemon Institute, the average price for small businesses to clean up after their businesses have been hacked stands at $690,000; and, for mid-sized businesses, it’s over $1 million.

Recent events have proven that nobody is safe from the threat of data breach — not large corporations, small businesses, startups, government agencies or even presidential candidates.

When a crisis occurs, there would be one of the two scenarios:

  1. You run a licensed app/piece of software and the vendor is responsible enough to issue an update/patch when issues are reported.
  1. You run a custom software delivered by your software development company and you ask for the software to be enhanced. That is going to take just as little time but chances are your custom software will ever be hacked is drastically lower. Just because the hacker would need to spend even more time looking for vulnerabilities than the AQ department of your software developer.

Even if your website is secure, a misconfiguration or simple mistake can lead to data loss. Only a sure backup plan can save you if your custom files are overwritten or tampered with.

A website security provider can offer secure remote storage, automatic backup scheduling, and an easy recovery process without disturbing your workflow. Decent software companies offer a fast and easy way to recover all the files you need in a very short time.

4. Regular software update

A software update, also known as a service pack is a periodically released update to software from a manufacturer, consisting of requested enhancements and fixes for known bugs. A software update is mainly to present security vulnerabilities in their existing items.

You may think that you do not have anything to protect on your business website but the reality is that security software gives protection for your data. Data is valuable for the sustenance of your business. Top software security programs keep your data secure by providing regular updates to keep you safe from malicious attempts.

Summing It Up:

Since 60 percent of businesses that are affected by a breach in business websites or data will shut down in 6 months, cybersecurity experts, thereby, recommend that you have an effective software security program to save yourself and your business from this calamity.

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Data and Security IoT Tech

The Importance of Cybersecurity for the Investment Banking Industry

cybersecurity for investment banking

Digitalization is visible across most, if not all, spheres of our professional and personal lives. While it offers a number of undeniable advantages, it brings along the need for security, especially cybersecurity. Consider the following:

  • An increasing number of devices are interconnected, communicating via the Internet
  • Digitalization brings convenience but also collects data, with the potential for misuse

Implications of interconnected devices for companies.

This brings along implications for companies. They must protect themselves from cyberattacks, or else – for instance – hackers could take control of Internet-connected medical devices. This is but one example, and the vulnerable lot includes financial services firms, including those in the investment banking industry.

A good cybersecurity setup for this sector is difficult to determine.

Cybersecurity is hard to determine considering the constantly changing threat landscape, plus the effect of shifting business priorities and exponential technology forces on how organizations approach cyber risk management.

There is no denying, though, that the cloud, data and analytics, and social media are top of the list of technology items requiring attention at large firms.

Look what large enterprise banking spend on cybersecurity

The criticality of cybersecurity is borne out by budgets for the same. The largest budgets of course belong to Fortune 500 companies. Within the Fortune 500, financial institutions appear to have the deepest pockets. JP Morgan Chase & Co, as per a 2018 letter to its shareholders, spends roughly USD 600 million annually on cybersecurity. They also employ around 3,000 IT security people.

Media reports have suggested that Bank of America spends roughly the same amount on cybersecurity.

It is thus no surprise to see the number of financial institutions posting job ads for cybersecurity positions. Given how cybersecurity covers a broad range of issues and security breaches are quite common, the pool of investment banking professionals must also include tech-savvy information security personnel to protect their online systems.

Why are banks a cybersecurity risk?

Why, though, is Wall Street at such risk? According to Moody’s, the capital markets businesses of banks “are an appealing target for cybercriminals attempting large-scale theft or launching sophisticated attacks to create operational disruption.�

Companies in the investment banking industry also house other attractive “targets�, such as payment and cash management systems, and data of their high-net-worth clients and retail banking private clients. Cyberattacks have many purposes:

  • Stealing money
  • Extorting ransoms
  • Stealing or manipulating data
  • Creating significant operational disruption
  • Generating negative publicity

The attacks themselves can take many forms across a wide range of channels. A typical attack is perpetrated by a criminal in a remote, safe location, trying to get into the systems of a bank or of its clients. Other attacks include attempts to divert payments into the accounts of criminals.

Fraud is very closely linked with cybercrime, and so are the methods employed by investment banking professionals to fight the two.

Investment Banking

Because of the nature of its work, the investment banking industry offers a number of targets for attacks and fraud. These include the following:

  • Pending mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions: Business negotiations for M&A deals include some very valuable information attractive for attackers, especially for industries such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medicine.
  • Mobile computing devices: Given how many activities of investment banks happen through such devices, they are often targeted to get unauthorized access to client or management accounts.
  • Insider trading: The fact that people working at investment banks are privy to confidential information means they can also facilitate cybersecurity breaches. Interestingly, some analysts also speculate there could be a correlation between such institutions hiring cybersecurity professionals and the increased instances of breaches and insider trading attacks a few months later.

What does a successful cyber attack do?

The impact of a successful cyberattack could be wide-ranging for the work of investment banking professionals, with effects in financial, regulatory, and reputation terms. A challenge in this regard comes from the number of ‘false positives’ that could arise and unfortunately, are not possible to eradicate completely.

The only way out is to keep working on rules to detect such instances and thereby reduce their occurrence. The rules need to become more accurate and efficient, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) could be of great help hereby, for instance, scanning for a change in client behavior or for suspicious IP addresses.

Compromised data can also affect the bottom line. Details of an ongoing deal could be manipulated or transferred, thereby damaging share prices of involved companies involved.

New cybersecurity technology

The solution is for the investment banking industry to invest in new cybersecurity technologies. Investment banks must encourage proper procedures to remove human errors, negligence, or failure to follow security protocols. Some key aspects are as below:

  • Huge amounts of data: With larger amounts of data being collected, processed and analyzed for decision-making, every aspect of data collection and management must be secured.
  • Autonomous devices: Do not miss out on security for sensors and smart meters. Watch out for physical tampering, unauthorized access, and other attempts to affect data integrity.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) security: Data assurance programs must establish end-to-end security for IoT data.
  • Hire the right people: This implies hiring sufficient staff to implement and monitor security measures, as well as ensuring they are trustworthy.
  • Keep clients and staff informed: These entities must be informed about the risks of phishing attacks, social engineering, and others.

The way ahead is clear. Security measures and awareness along with effective regulation are imperatives to mitigate the risks and effects of cyberattacks in an industry as critical as investment banking. Given the sensitivity of information here, the monetary and reputation damages could otherwise be very serious for the business.

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ccpa Data and Security data privacy data protection privacy regulations

What Prop 24 Means for Your Data Privacy Strategy

data security

California recently passed Proposition 24, a landmark data privacy referendum that expands privacy protections in the world’s fifth-largest economy. Starting in 2023, the nation’s most comprehensive privacy regulations will protect nearly 40 million people and govern $3.2 trillion in economic output.

Prop 24 will ripple across America, which still lacks a national privacy law. Most companies will choose to extend these privacy protections to all users — rather than address the privacy patchwork with state-specific solutions. That solution is easier and more economical.

So what does this mean for those of us working in technology and connected devices? We have a whole new set of rules to learn. Prop 24 replaces the CCPA with the CPRA, which stands for the California Privacy Rights Act. Here are a few action items to guide you as you reorient around the latest data privacy regulations.

#1: Prepare for data privacy enforcement

The passage of Prop 24 creates the Privacy Protection Agency, America’s first government watchdog for privacy and data protection. The statewide agency will have a budget of at least $10 million annually, finally putting enforcement muscle behind privacy protections, something that the previous privacy law (the CCPA) lacked.

Businesses that leak data (either knowingly, by sharing without permission, or unknowingly via a data breach) will pay $2,500 per violation. The per-violation fine triples fines for violating the privacy of minors, which means that each violation can cost your business $7,500! You’ll want to be very careful if any of your connected devices capture or otherwise interact with data from those under 15.

Also, know this: the threat of fines is blood in the water for hackers. In Europe, bad actors are forcing businesses to pay up using ransomware and the threat of GDPR fines. These attacks will likely shift to the US now that there’s a privacy enforcer. Now is the time to shore up your cybersecurity defenses and prepare staff!

TL; DR: Voluntary compliance is over. Get ready for America’s first privacy enforcer. Make a plan to verify your data tracking, collection and storage methods so that you have clear documentation and strong internal controls.

#2: Evolve for the end of cookies

Cookies — the small files used to track users across the internet — are on their way out. Good riddance! Cookies were intended to improve the user experience by remembering details about users between sessions. Instead, they became invasive trackers that enabled a massive industry to invade privacy, often without permission.

It’s long past time to rebalance the dynamic. Consumers have a right to privacy and the industry must catch up. We need to prepare for our cookieless future and create solutions that offer insights and anonymity simultaneously. We can no longer expect to know everything about consumers in a permissionless environment; rather, the marketing industry must evolve with innovations that aggregate data in useful ways while preserving privacy.

Most people are ok with this type of anonymized aggregation, also called “differential privacy.� It’s a data collection framework that collects data in aggregate without ever revealing the identity of individuals. It can even be used to automatically ensure that data sharing across borders conforms to local privacy laws.

TL; DR: Future-proof your data discipline. Preserve anonymity, avoid collecting unnecessary personal information and use pattern matching to build segments that give aggregated, actionable insights without compromising individual identity.

#3: Put AI to work for data privacy management

Artificial intelligence is at work in other areas of your business — why not put it to work for privacy too?

AI can detangle the complexities of privacy management by rapidly sorting and segmenting user data to conform to privacy regulations while still offering the benefits of personalization to both consumers and companies. AI can also make sure that you are only storing necessary information and thus minimize your data collection footprint — and privacy compliance exposure.

By using its capabilities to process massive data sets, you can both increase precision and reduce human intervention when it comes to privacy compliance. These two factors — precision and human intervention — are going to be key when the sheer volume of data that will soon be governed by Proposition 24 will accelerate investment and innovation. Companies will need to maintain data privacy while still preserving the reach, quality and precision that their advertising-based business models depend on.

TL; DR: When implemented strategically, AI can help you sort, segment and store data in ways that both preserve privacy and comply with CPRA. Use it!

#4: Monitor your thresholds

The CPRA changes the compliance thresholds in two key ways. First, sharing is now the same as selling. If your business shares data with third parties for commercial purposes (without necessarily selling that data), you’ll be on the hook for compliance.

Second, the CPRA doesn’t apply to businesses that bought, sold or shared data from fewer than 100,000 customers/households annually. That’s up from 50,000 customers/households, which is a good thing for startups seeking traction. But, in the trenches of startup life, it can be easy to cross this threshold and not even realize it.

However, you’re still on the hook if your company made more than $25 million in gross revenue in the previous calendar year. And, if you use sister brands, these thresholds still apply if it’s clear to consumers that your sister brands share common ownership. So don’t think about circumventing these rules by making subsidiaries — unless they truly are standalone brands.

TL; DR: If you buy, sell or share data from more than 100,000 customers or households, you must comply with CPRA. Monitor this threshold closely.

#5: Innovate now to leap ahead later

In a nod to increased control, Prop 24 adds a new right to limit data sharing, which isn’t covered by California’s prior law, the CCPA. This is a step in the right direction. However, consumers want more than just the right to limit how companies collect, use and share their data. The onus shouldn’t be on the consumer to navigate these complexities; brands should implement user-centric privacy tools that empower consumers, not companies.

First and foremost, they want more transparency. In one survey, four out of five consumers will share more data if brands are transparent about how it’s used. They also want more control. In the National Privacy Survey, which my company did in anticipation of Prop 24’s passage, we found that not only did the majority of Americans want a national privacy law, but they also want new tools: 83% of Americans want the right to set an expiration date for their personal data.

These types of privacy innovations may be complex to deliver at scale, but it is the true benchmark for control. Data expiration controls empower consumers to determine the ideal privacy parameters for their unique needs, all on a case-by-case basis. That’s true transparency and control — and a way to earn customer loyalty.

TL; DR: Now’s the time to consider privacy innovations that help you not just comply but also leap ahead. Data portability, transparency and control, can earn you the trust (and loyalty) of your customers.

Future proof your business against a national privacy law

Absent a national law, California’s robust privacy regulations will likely shape the conversation around federal privacy regulations. It remains to be seen whether politicians will react by prioritizing a national law or if California will set the pace for everyone else.

One thing’s for certain: It’s a new dawn for data privacy in America. And it’s about time! Everyone deserves privacy — and our digitally-connected ecosystem must evolve to accommodate both privacy and profit. This isn’t an idealistic pipe dream; rather, it’s the most exciting business challenge of the coming decade.

I see the new privacy framework as an accelerant to a more responsible and user-centric approach across the digital ecosystem. Ultimately, our business models will strengthen, as will our bonds with customers. It’s a win-win; we just have to put in the work now to be ready for our inevitable privacy-first future.

Image Credit: fernando arcos; pexels

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Data and Security data privacy data protection Personal Data Store

A New Way to Enhance Consumer Privacy

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Personal data is the raw material that fuels a significant proportion of business operations. A few examples include credit card scoring based on collated personal data from various sources, calculation of premiums based on past driving habits, or the use of online tracking to build complete profiles of individuals and then targeting them with personalized ads based on those profiles. While personal data is highly essential to these business operations, individuals have little to no control and oversight on the collection and usage of their personal data.

There is anger towards the data economy and frequent privacy violations; there are still ways to restore control to the people and rebuild a trust-based and transparent relationship.

This lack of control is due to a few practices common to the current data collection and usage practices:

  • Personal data is scattered across so many different companies that it is nearly impossible to keep track of who accesses it, how they use it or who they share it with. For example, data brokers’ business model depends on the collecting, collating, selling and licensing personal data on a mass scale. It is next to impossible to track data across systems and determine whether the data was obtained lawfully or object to the processing of data.
  • The reproducible nature of data exacerbates the risks even further, contributing to a growing fear over privacy. Once personal data enters into a business’ internal systems, it can be copied to multiple locations, used by employees on their personal devices, left unprotected on legacy servers. All these processing activities increase unauthorized use or access to personal data.
  • Collection, analysis, and personal data transfer are usually conducted behind closed doors not visible to individuals and often with technologies such as machine learning, which is opaque to ordinary individuals. Individuals are often not adequately informed about the use of their data due to reasons such as trade secrets, impracticality, or simply the bureaucratic hurdles caused by the relevant business itself. Even laws such as GDPR and CCPA may not be effective at coercing a business to provide the maximum transparency possible.

Individuals’ lack of knowledge on collection, use and sharing of their personal data inevitably leads to distrust in companies involved in personal data collection.

The imbalance of power and lack of trust is evidenced by a PRC study that found that 76% of Americans do not trust third-party businesses to handle their personal data and feel a sense of lack of control over how their data is collected, managed and used.

Furthermore, Americans outside of California want to have more control over their data and want to have the same protections on their personal data as regulated under CCPA (91%).

While consumer demands are crystal-clear, how to deliver on those demands remains unclear. Personal Data Stores, however, can be an effective solution to remedy consumer concerns and provide them the visibility and control over their data.

Personal Data Stores – An unconventional solution to a bleeding problem

What is the Personal Data Store?

Personal Data Store (PDS) is like a safe for individuals to upload, share, store, edit and erase their personal information, such as addresses, passport numbers, credit history, health records and other information.

One unique character of the PDS is that users(consumers) can unilaterally grant or withdraw consent to access their personal data. Once the consumer decides to block access to her data, the relevant business is prevented from accessing it.

How Personal Data Stores help consumers regain control over their data?

1. Increased transparency equals stronger control

Firstly, Personal Data Store gives complete visibility over what data an individual has, who accesses it, how it is used, and for what purposes.

The scattered nature of personal data in the current ecosystem makes it impossible for individuals to track who retains their data and who they share it with. For example, home address data could be captured and stored by data brokers, postal offices, e-commerce companies and various other entities. If individual wishes to find out who uses their data and how, it would be challenging to contact each entity, fill out forms, and then track requests.

With Personal Data Stores, however, individuals are given exclusive control and visibility over how their data is processed and by whom. Increased transparency is a prerequisite to having control over data and this is what personal data stores achieve.

Thanks to this visibility, consumers can withdraw access to certain third parties, edit personal data that is not accurate and ask for the deletion of their data.

2. Stronger control enables the exercise of privacy rights under the relevant laws

New privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA provided new rights to consumers, such as the right to deletion of their data, the right to rectify inaccurate data and the right to restrict access to their data.

For consumers to properly exercise their rights under these laws, they first must have complete information about the collection and use of their data. Exercising privacy rights is a decision, and this decision will not be well-informed without individuals having control and visibility.

Via Personal Data Stores, individuals can see which specific data is accessed by which specific third-party on a granular level.

One factor that plays a vital role in the successful implementation of privacy rights is a convenient and swift exercise of those rights. If a consumer has to fill out tens of details to complete a form, wait for weeks to get her privacy right fulfilled, then the essence of such privacy rights would be undermined because the consumers would be discouraged from using their rights.

What if a person changes her health insurance plan and now has to contact multiple pharmacies and hospitals to update this detail?

New privacy laws exist to restore control to the individuals, and this cannot be achieved with processes that make it unbearable for individuals even to try to exercise their rights. In other words, the individuals would not be empowered but rather find themselves in the same powerless position.

Personal Data Store serves the purpose of privacy laws because it streamlines the process of exercising privacy rights such as deletion and data rectification rights. It provides a single user-interface that people can use to send their requests without dealing with the separate and cumbersome procedures set by third-party businesses.

Suppose an individual wishes data concerning her unsuccessful job applications deleted, for instance. In that case, she can log this request via the Personal Data Store, and all relevant third parties will be notified of this request and they will have to execute on such request.

A better future for privacy lies ahead.

New privacy regulations across the globe brought significant obligations on businesses to respect privacy and allow individuals to exercise certain rights over their data. While these new laws and the expansion of privacy is to be celebrated, there is still more work to be done. Personal Data Store can contribute to individuals’ empowerment by allowing them to exercise stricter control over the access and usage of their data.

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Data and Security Small Business website security

The Ultimate Guide to Website Security for Small Businesses

website security

Online space continues to thrive as the leading channel for conducting business and communications. In this fast-paced information age, new websites are popping up faster than ever. Here is the ultimate guide to website security for small businesses.

Is a Website Less Expensive to Run than a Brick and Mortar?

Most websites belong to small business owners who wish to take advantage of an efficient and cost-effective online business model.

Having a website helps a business overcome challenges associated with conventional brick and mortar stores like inventory and large lease timeframes or rents.

As soon as your new site goes live, you are immediately confronted with a significant 21st-century requirement — website security.

It is easy to assume that cybercriminals are more interested in big companies and government institutions where big money lies. However, recent studies show that hackers are increasingly targeting small businesses.

Why Small Businesses Should Care About Website Security

Any business, big or small, relies on its customers. For you to have a successful business relationship with your customers, you need to assure them of safety when they are browsing through your website. During purchases on your site, your customers will provide sensitive info like official names and credit card details.

Your success as a small business is directly proportional to the level of customer trust you can cultivate. Website security is of utmost importance, especially during these cyberattack-prone times.

Importance of Website Security for Small Business

As a small business, you most likely plan to sell products and services on your website. To sell online, there are industry standards that you have to comply with.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) has requirements, one of which requires you to have an SSL certificate for website security.

You will be receiving sensitive customer data like email address, name, and bank details that can bring harm to your clients in case of a breach. Another stringent law you’ll likely need to get certification that governs data is the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Advantages of a Secured Website

There are indeed numerous benefits that come with implementing website security for small businesses. When you have an SSL certificate in place, it ensures that any data transmitted to and from your website is encrypted.

Encryption protects so that no eavesdropper can decipher the data, only the intended recipient. Encryption provides integrity and authentication of data, which in turn improves customer trust.

Google labeling lists all HTTP sites as Not Secure. You’ll want to migrate to HTTPS if you haven’t already done so. Https shows customers that you care about their security, which will have a positive outcome on your conversions.

It is also important to note that Google uses SSL encryption as a ranking signal so you can rank slightly higher in search engines.

How can I Ensure the Security of My Small Business Website?

Securing your small website usually starts by acquiring an SSL certificate. You can reach your SSL provider to help you in identifying the best package for your site.

You should then ensure that HTTPS redirection is configured in your content management system.

The next step is changing the default URL to HTTPS version in your Google Analytics account and finally resubmitting your sitemaps to Bing and Google webmaster tools so that all your URLs now read HTTP and not HTTPS.

What is an SSL certificate?

SSL or Secure Socket Layer is an encryption technology used to encrypt communications between a web server and a client browser or a mail server and a mail client.

Usually, an SSL certificate comes as a data file installed on your server, effectively encrypting information being shared to and from your server.

A single domain certificate covers one domain, whereas a multi-domain certificate can cover many unrelated domains.

An SSL certificate, on the other hand, can cover one main domain along with all sub-domains covered with it.

Why HTTPS?

HTTPS or Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol is an advancement of HTTP with an S (secure) added to it. The protocol is activated by installing an SSL certificate effectively adding a layer of security to any data being transferred to and from your server.

A padlock is also added to your URL bar to indicate that your website is secure. You could also get a company name and your business’ physical location listed if you acquire an EV (Extended Validation) SSL certificate.

Security Tips for Small Business to Avoid; Automated Threats

Enforce strong passwords

It is worrying how many people still fall victim to attacks resulting from weak passwords. Using details like your birthday or name sets you up as an easy target for brute force attacks.

You can use password generators to create complex passwords and password managers to remember them.

Protect your admin interface

As the chief administrator of your site, be careful how you assign and manage admin roles.

You should set up multi-factor authentication to ensure that no one logs in to your admin panel without permission.

Update your CMS regularly

The best way to beat automated threats is by keeping all your software, content management systems, themes and plugins updated.

Whenever a new patch or update is released, be the first to install it because that effectively guards you against any vulnerabilities associated with the previous version.

Security Solutions for Small Business

Apply reputable security solutions for small businesses.

HTTPS Everywhere

Released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this is an extension for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox browsers that encrypts all communications between your site and most significant websites, keeping you always secure.

Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a renowned security solution used by millions of websites all around the globe. It offers you protection from DDoS and brute force attacks, SQL injections, malware, and other security threats that a small business is likely to face.

Conclusion

Starting a small business can be the first step of a journey towards becoming a multi-million-dollar entrepreneur. As such, you need to accord it all seriousness and one thing to prioritize is website security.

If you have several subdomains for your website, try the wildcard SSL certificate that offers overarching protection to your main domain and all related sub-domains.

Website security for small businesses can have immense benefits.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Website Security for Small Businesses appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Passwords and Their Ability to Bring Down Even the Largest of Enterprises

passwords hacking

The dangers of using passwords as a means of authentication cannot be overemphasized. According to reports by IT Governance, poor password behavior is the number one cause of data breaches. Despite this, passwords are still very common in the average person’s personal and work life. Here are passwords and their ability to bring down even the largest of enterprises.

Passwords are difficult to manage, and bad password habits are easy to develop because of how difficult it is to store multiple complex passwords.

They are also very insecure because passwords are just too easy to guess, hack or intercept. What’s more, the legacy of bad password habits, reusing and sharing online credentials, leads to constant cybersecurity attacks of both people’s personal accounts and enterprises.

The consequences of a cybersecurity attack from a leaked, stolen, or shared password could be disastrous; a hacker could launch a highly sophisticated attack on you or your business, causing serious short-term and long-term damages. This could lead to serious financial and legal implications. In a worst-case scenario, a malicious attack could even sabotage your business and its operations to the extent that it may never be able to recover.

Too Many People Use Old Passwords — STOP THAT!

According to a 2019 HYPR password usage study, a study that involved analyzing data from over 500 American and Canadian full-time workers, about 72% of people surveyed reuse an old password when forced to change to a new one, and 78% percent of them forgot their passwords in the previous 90 days.

This can be said to be due to the overwhelming number of passwords users have to manage because the study further showed that over 37% of respondents have over 20 passwords in their personal life, which in most cases is too much to manage effectively.

Hackers will Always Try to Attack Your Employees

Many negative implications come with your business’ security being compromised due to poor passwords, some of which are discussed below.

  • Financial Implications

On average, cybersecurity attacks in 2017 alone cost enterprises $1.3 million and $117,000 for small and medium scale businesses to repair hardware and software. A data breach can also lead to legal consequences for your company if data leaked belongs to a third party or contains sensitive information.

  • Data Theft and Sabotage

Every single day, companies from around the world lose about 5 million records containing sensitive data due to vulnerability in their system or a human factor failure, with only a mere 4% of escaped data being protected by strong encryption and, therefore, cannot be misused.

In some cases, millions of email addresses and passwords are leaked during a single data breach.

Hacking and data breaches may also negatively affect digital data or even physical equipment. Some hackers may intentionally modify or damage data in order to harm their targets.

  • Poor Web Presence

For many businesses, especially small ones, most sales and operations are made online – as an online presence exposes businesses to larger markets, with two-thirds of small businesses relying on websites to connect them to customers.

Hacking or data breach, in this case, however, may be seriously detrimental to your online presence; it may lead to your website being slowed down considerably as hackers try to upload and run files on your company server.

Also, if hackers try to use your IP address to attack other websites, your web hosting might be suspended, or your website may shut down entirely and only display a “PAGE NOT FOUND – 404 ERROR” message; all these will also cause your company’s SEO ranking to take a big hit.

  • Damages to Company Reputation

When a business is hacked, its reputation also takes a huge hit, either temporarily or permanently. A large percentage of a hacked company’s customers may choose to switch over to their more secure competitor.

According to a 2019 study published on BitSight, nearly two out of five (38%) enterprises admit that they have lost business due to either a real or perceived lack of security performance within their organization. Nearly half of all executives surveyed in that same report admit that their ability to attract new customers was harmed following a security incident.

  • Business Failure

Many businesses, especially small ones or those in their early stage, operate on low margins and may not withstand the significant financial loss resulting from data breaches.

Depending on the severity of such attacks, how stolen data is used, or the damage caused, your business might not be able to withstand the financial implications. It may be forced to close all operations and shut down.

How Enterprises Can Protect Themselves

Data breaches due to bad passwords are bound to happen when you ask employees to create and manage their passwords without providing them with the proper tools to do so.

There are limits to how many passwords your employees can remember and how complex they can be; this, coupled with the ever-growing number of online accounts, makes it easy for your employees to settle for poor password habits and security shortcuts put your company at risk of a data breach.

Employees often create passwords that are easy to remember and very predictable, as creating and storing different complex passwords is a burden.

Hence, employers and enterprises need to sensitize their employees to keep good password behavior with some of the solutions below.

A. Password Managers

Password managers are secure software applications designed to store and manage your online credentials. They make your accounts more secure by freeing you from generating and remembering sufficiently complex passwords, thus allowing for single-purpose passwords that meet a much higher security level.

From auto-filling to encrypting passwords, password managers ensure that credentials stored with them are kept secure.

B. Two Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication makes use of newer improvements to authentication by combining two out of the three types of authentication; what you know (password, pin), what you have (bank card, sim card), and who you are (fingerprint, facial recognition).

Two-factor authentication is far more secure than passwords alone because it considers two forms of authentication rather than one. Other methods of two-factor authentication include using an authenticator app like Google authenticator or Microsoft authenticator, SMS Codes, and biometrics alongside your password for more secure verification.

C. Passwordless Authentication

One major shortcoming of both password managers and two-factor authentication that is commonly overlooked is the fact that they don’t completely eliminate the burden that is passwords’; this is where passwordless authentication comes in. This provides enterprises the ability to deploy desktop MFA and strong customer authentication.

The passwordless authentication technology removes hackers’ most popular target by completely replacing passwords, forcing them to attack all devices individually. This provides enterprises with increased security and a more secure means of authentication.

In Conclusion

It is becoming clearer that passwords are more of a burden or headache than they are a security tool. As a business owner, protecting your personal and customer data and ensuring your website’s security has to be one of your top daily priorities.

Hackers will always try to attack your employees, the weakest link in your security infrastructure.

The best way to strengthen your entire security system is to make sure both your employees and IT admins are aware of their responsibility to maintain good password security and that necessary steps are taken to provide employees with the necessary tools to fulfill this responsibility.

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Data and Security Data Collection e-commerce IoT pricing Sales Tech web scraping

How E-Commerce Giants Battle it Out for Your Purchase

ecommerce purchases

There is an invisible real-time data war taking place in the e-commerce world. Made up of numerous battles fought by soldiers, it is waged by major players competing for dominance in the highly competitive e-commerce environment.

The purpose is clear: to post the lowest price and make the sale.

While people don’t realize that this war is taking place, it’s still there and is getting more brutal as time goes on. My company – Oxylabs – provides the proxies or “soldiers,â€� plus the strategic tools that help businesses win the war. This article will give you an inside view of the battles taking place and techniques to overcome some of the common challenges.

Web Scraping: The Battle for Data

Spies are valuable players in any war as they provide inside information on the opponent’s activities.

When it comes to e-commerce, the “spies� are in the form of bots that aim to obtain data on an opponent’s prices and inventory. This intelligence is critical to forming an overall successful sales strategy.

That data extraction through web scraping activities aims to obtain as much quality data as possible from all opponents. However, data is valuable intelligence, and most sites do not want to give it up easily. Below are some of the most common major challenges web scrapers encounter in the battle for high-quality data:

Challenge 1: IP Blocking (Defense Wall)

Since ancient times, walls were built around cities to block out invaders. Websites use the same tactic today by blocking out web scrapers through IP “blocks.�

Many online stores that use web scraping attempt to extract pricing and additional product information from hundreds (if not thousands) of products at once. Sometimes these information requests are often recognized by the server as an “attack.� This can result in bans on the IP addresses (unique identification numbers assigned to each device) as a defense measure. This is a type of “wall� a target site can put up to block scraping activity.

Another battle tactic is to allow the IP address access to the site but to display inaccurate data.

The solution for all scenarios is to prevent the target site from seeing the IP address in the first place. This requires the use of proxies – or “soldiersâ€� – that mimic “humanâ€� behavior. Each proxy has its own IP address. Thus, the server cannot track them to the source organization doing the public data extraction.

There are two types of proxies – residential and data center proxies. The choice of proxy type depends on the complexity of the website and the strategy.

Challenge 2: Complex/Changing Website Structure (Foreign Battle Terrain)

Fighting on enemy territory is not an easy task due to the home advantage leveraged by the defensive army. The challenges faced by an invading army are especially difficult because they are simultaneously discovering the territory while engaged in the battle.

This is analogous to the terrain faced by web scrapers. Each website has a different terrain in the form of its HTML structure. Every script must adapt itself to each new site to find and extract the information required.

For the physical wars of the past, the wisdom of the generals has proven invaluable when advancing on enemy territory. Similarly, the skills and knowledge of scripting experts are invaluable when targeting sites for data extraction.

Digital terrain, unlike physical terrain on earth, can also change at a moment’s notice. Oxylabs adaptive parser, currently in beta phase, is one of the newest features of our Next-Gen Residential Proxies solution. Soon to become a weapon of choice, this AI and ML-enhanced HTML parser can extract intelligence from rapidly-changing dynamic layouts that include the title, regular price, sale price, description, image URLs, product IDs, page URLs, and much more.

Challenge 3: Extracting Data in Real-Time (Battle Timing)

Quick timing is essential to many types of battle strategy, and often waiting too long may result in defeat. This holds true in the lighting fast e-commerce world where timing makes a big difference in winning or losing a sale.

The fastest mover most often wins. Since prices can change on a minute-by-minute basis, businesses must stay on top of their competitors’ moves.

An effective strategy involves strategic maneuvers using tools and scraping logic to extract data in real-time. Also, the use of multiple proxy solutions so data requests appear organic. While it is possible to construct an in-house real-time data extraction mechanism, anticipate many hassles for it to work as expected. Instead, leading brands tend to outsource ready-to-use tools, allowing them to instantly draw insights instead of focusing on challenging real-time data extraction.

Ethical Web Scraping

It is crucial to understand that web scraping can be used positively. There are transparent ways to gather the required public data and drive businesses forward.

Here are some guidelines to follow to keep the playing field fair for those who gather data and the websites that provide it:

  • Only scrape publicly-available web pages.
  • Ensure that the data is requested at a fair rate and doesn’t compromise the webserver.
  • Respect the data obtained and any privacy issues relevant to the source website.
  • Study the target website’s legal documents to determine whether you will legally accept their terms of service and if you will do so – whether you will not breach these terms.

A Final Word

Few people realize the war taking place behind the low price they see on their screen. That war is composed of multiple scraping battles for product intelligence fought by proxies circumventing server security measures for access to information.

Strategies for winning the battles come in sophisticated data extraction techniques that use proxies and scraping tools. As the invisible war for data continues to accelerate, it appears that the biggest winners of all are the consumers that benefit from the low prices they see on their screens.

Image Credit: photomix-company; pexels

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Connected Devices Data and Security ReadWrite Tech

11 IoT Securities You Must Have for Your Smart Devices

iot securities smart devices

When talking about IoT securities — smart homes are the hot new trend that is completely changing the house security situation’s face. It is a revolution in people’s life. The internet of things has made life much simpler and hassle-free. The world is now in a gold rush of the internet of things. Tech tycoons are launching products that are entering our homes, offices, and cars. The webcams, digital assistants, motion sensors, and much more play a big part in making your life easier. Here are eleven IoT securities that are must-have for your smart devices.

Our inter-connectivity world.

Though internet-connected devices make lives a cakewalk, many fail to understand that all the connectivity is a two-edged sword. The security tradeoffs in IoT are not paid attention to by many. Let’s look at how your IoT has a second life — and how to handle this and cut it out.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

IoT refers to physical objects embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other systems over the internet. These things range from ordinary household objects to the industrial tool. 

The importance of IoT now extends across; multiple sectors, including:

Consumer applications: This comprises consumer products such as smartphones, smartwatches, and smart homes. These can be used to control everything from air conditioning to door locks.

Business sector: The internet of things used by businesses ranges from smart security cameras to trackers for vehicles, ships, and goods to sensors that record industrial data of machinery.

Government sector: You might wonder where the government uses IoT, but the IoT makes the government official’s work trouble-free. Few areas where the IoT plays a great role are wildlife tracking, traffic monitor, disaster alerts.

The number of IoT devices is surging to more than billions, and this number will not stop here. With the rise of internet-connected devices, one of the great concerns that are surfacing with users is security. As the devices are connected to the internet, it is open to threats worldwide, increasing the scrutiny of inherent security issues.

How your IoT makes you vulnerable?

Some hackers can enter your network through the most innocuous device connected to the network. Your smart devices, like smart TVs, smart locks, gaming consoles, smart thermostats, or anything, can be the gateway to your network. It provides the entry point for cybercriminals. They can access a lot of information like your daily routine, life status, or sensitive information like passwords or financial information. This will make you more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other problems. The attackers can install malicious programs like malware, which renders your router inoperable and collects all the details from devices connected to the router. Smart home devices are more vulnerable because they have little or no built-in security.

Anecdote of an IoT attack

In 2016, the Mirai botnet compromised a huge amount of devices — all scammed by teenagers. A botnet is used to conduct large scale cyber-attack by combining the processing power of small devices. The Mirai botnet took down famous companies like Etsy, GitHub, Netflix, and Spotify. The Mirai mainly attacked older routers and IP cameras and launched a DDoS attack. The out of date versions and easy credentials was the prey to this malware. To prevent your devices from cyber-attack, practice the following steps to make it more secure.

Another massive attack in 2010 is using the Stuxnet worm, a sophisticated computer worm that hunts down specific machinery used in the nuclear industry. These viruses commenced the attack in 2006 but executed a mass play in the year 2009. The viruses targeted the control system and the data acquisition systems and infected the instruction to the machinery. Therefore it is imperative to understand that the internet of things is open to attack at any level. 

Vulnerabilities that puts you at the risk 

Though we cannot stop the hackers and cybercriminals from performing the attack, the best thing you can do is take some measures. To establish the right security measures, we can be safe and secure from these hackers’ curbs. But to understand this, first, you have to understand the security vulnerabilities that invite breaches and crimes to your home or organization. 

  • Weak, guessable, or hardcoded passwords
  • The insecurity in-network services
  • The insecure interface ecosystem
  • Lack of up-to-date mechanism in the devices with the latest software
  • Use of components that is out of date or insecure
  • There is no enough privacy.
  • Overlook the transfer and storage of data
  • Default settings that grant permission to unnecessary
  • Lack of physical measures

IOT Securities You Must Have

1. Make sure your device secure by design

Before purchasing an IoT device or solution, make sure it is secure by design. If the provider cannot supply the adequate details, reconsider going for a particular device or solution. You should also make sure that the manufacturer provides timely patches and updates for the device all along its lifetime. The timely patches and updates for the device keep it up to date with the latest trend at that time.

2. Name your router

Change the name of your router from the one that is given by the manufacturer. The manufacturer provided name is used to identify the model of the router. The router’s name has to be unusual and not associated with your personal information like your name or address. The name of the router should not be a personal identifier.

3. Know your network and connected devices

The moment your device connects to the internet, it becomes vulnerable right at that point. With more and more devices connected to the network, it becomes tough to keep track of it. To be secure, you have to know about the network, the devices connected to it, and the type of information the devices can access. If the devices have apps featuring social sharing, select the permissions carefully.

4. Use strong encryption

Your router should have a strong encryption method. Don’t use the public WiFi networks or one that doesn’t have a reliable encryption protocol. Use the latest encryption standards like WPA2 instead of WEP or WPA. Installing updates and timely patches helps in having a minimum level of risk.

5. Use a strong password

The first main thing to do while installing a device is to change the default passwords. The cyber attackers might already know the default passwords and usernames of the IoT device. If the device doesn’t allow you to change the password, then consider a different one. Second, use a strong password and username that cannot be easily identified. Ditch the passwords like “password� or “123456.�

The password should be a combination of lower case, upper case, numbers, and special characters. Also, make sure that you change your password and username frequently.

6. Check the settings of your devices

Usually, the smart devices come with default settings that might be insecure for your device. The worst thing is that some devices won’t allow changing these settings. The things that have to be checked based on settings are weak credentials, intrusive features, permissions, and open ports.

7. Install firewalls and other security solutions 

The security gateways stand between your IoT devices and network. They have more processing power, memory, and capabilities than IoT devices. You can install more powerful features like a firewall to prevent hackers from accessing your IoT devices. The firewall systems block unauthorized traffic over the wire and run IDS or IPS that is an intrusion detection or intrusion prevention system to scrutinize the network system.

To make your job easier you can use vulnerability scanners to unveil the security weaknesses within the system. You can employ a port scanner to identify the open ports. 

8. Use a separate network

If you are running a big enterprise, then this tip is for you. Using a separate network for smart devices apart from the business network for the IoT devices is one of the most strategic approaches to ensure IoT security. When segmentation is in place, even if the hackers lure the way into the IoT devices, they can’t get hold of your business data or sniff the bank transfers.

9. Make sure that universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is off

The Universal Plug and Play is a set of network protocols that allow network devices to discover others’ presence seamlessly. But the same has rendered the possibility of exposing you to hackers outside more easily. The UPnP comes as a default setting on many routers nowadays. So check the settings and disable this feature if you don’t want to compromise on security for the sake of convenience. 

10. Implement physical security

If you have the privilege of controlling the smart device with a phone, then be double-cautious that you don’t lose your phone. Have protection like Pin, password, or biometric on the device. In addition to this, make sure that you can erase your phone remotely. Have automatic backups in place or selective backups for the data that are important. 

11. Increasing consumer awareness

Many consumers overlook security while purchasing an IoT device. The users have to be aware of the latest security measures that have to be enabled for protection. As a user, you have to be aware of updating the default credentials and software update application. Beware of the security threats that are happening around. 

Bottom line

Despite the risks, it is no brainer that the internet of things has a mammoth potential. It has made day to day chores easy like a smart kettle. But the best experience is when these devices are completely secure. By adopting the necessary security measures, you can enjoy the benefits of the devices without any lag to its fullest.

Image Credit: cottonbro; pexels

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Cybersecurity Posture is a Must in an Anti-Cyber-Attack

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More than 10 years ago, fewer than one in four companies relied on the Internet for their business. But now,  it is 100 percent. Despite this growth,  the Internet has now been accompanied by a steady increase in the severity of “Cyber-Attacks.”

Billions of business individuals worldwide have had their personal data stolen, exposed, and rapidly occurring at a high frequency.

According to the WHSR Security evaluation, Germany tends to have the highest cyber incident. Although the United States is naturally a major target for cybercriminals. However, Germany lost an estimated $50 Billion to cybercrime, ranging from big corporations to small business enterprises.

Cybercriminals are reaching further than before, that for every 60 seconds, $1.1 million is lost to cyberattacks. In fact, Australians lost over $634 million in total to cyber-attack in just 12 months. Meanwhile, these at pace have set to cost business affair $5.2 trillion ‘worldwide’ with continuity to affect critical, pivotal facilities.  For all that, this unprecedented cybercriminal activity has generated businesses across the globe, $128 billion in cyber spending.

It’s fair to say that this has been the era of Cyber Attacks. However, not becoming a victim should be a priority for every organization rather than adding up to the number of amounts “lost” to cyber-threats.  Since cyber-attacks are globally increasing, operational effort to respond and prevent must therefore be proactive.

Cybersecurity posture; an organization’s coast-to-coast defense in disagreement with cyber-attacks

Understanding cybersecurity posture is essential to recognize where your organization stands regarding online security threats such as data breaches and intrusions.  However, by understanding where your organization is most vulnerable, you can begin to establish a plan for creating a more secure environment.

Security posture refers to the strength of your overall cybersecurity defense. This is important because cybersecurity threats are ever-increasing, and cyberattacks are considered the third greatest global threat, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The modern enterprise’s attack surface is ever-growing, which makes gaining an accurate understanding of a big challenge. The hard truth is that most organizations only have a vague understanding of their attack surface and overall cybersecurity posture.

For an organization with a thousand employees, over 10 million time-varying signals should be analyzed to predict breach risk accurately. This enterprise attack surface includes a wide variety of assets spanning across its infrastructure— applications, managed and unmanaged endpoints (fixed and mobile), IoT, and cloud services. Once these elements, breached in many ways, this compromise enterprise asset, giving cyber-attackers an initial foothold inside the company’s network.

It is important to create a habit of regularly monitoring and maintaining your cybersecurity posture, most importantly, your cybersecurity risk. To understand the efficacy of cybersecurity posture, cybersecurity risk assessment by an organization must be completed. Cybersecurity risk is the probability of exposure or loss resulting from a cyber-attack or data breach on your organization. A better, more encompassing definition is the potential loss or harm related to technical infrastructure, use of technology, or an organization’s reputation. To put it simply, as your cybersecurity posture strength increases, your cybersecurity risk should decrease. This helps to identify all vulnerability points to help your organization more proactive rather than reactive to cybersecurity threats.

Maturity Assessment – worth of your cybersecurity posture; coming-of-age call’s and objectives

Maturity assessment is an upright pillar of an organization’s information security capability to protect the business against applicable cyber risks.  This measures the ability of an organization for continuous improvement in a securing discipline, which can be drilled down to departmental view, functional view, and process view.

Throughout the course of operations, business leaders set goals and objectives for their enterprise, and they rally teams to work hard and deliver on them. These goals and objectives are business needs; they are the things the business must have or achieve to run, be profitable, serve effectively, and deliver successfully on its mission. However, organizations with the most mature security posture don’t break-out, avoid cybersecurity mistakes during business racing and successfully outperform their peers.

The higher the maturity, the higher the chances that mistakes or errors will lead to improvements either in the quality or the use of the discipline’s resources as implemented by an organization. The Security Maturity Assessment gives a first look at how mature your organization is concerning cybersecurity. By knowing the security level, an organization can build an effective cyber protection strategy for the future.

Cybersecurity maturity assessment can analyze the current security state, with a view towards the desired state. It assesses cybersecurity controls and realize new technology-process controls. The main advantage is to specify the maturity level of an organization. Whereby each level depends on a group of processes. Each process can depend on the infrastructure, resources, operation’s automation, and user’s knowledge. Hence, cybersecurity maturity can help to distinguish between organizations.

Cybersecurity posture score; accompanied by a risk management program

The terms “safeguards� and “controls� refer to risk-reducing measures. The process of risk management allows the balance of operational and economic costs of protective measures and achieve gains in mission capability by protecting information systems and data that support organizations’ missions.

Protecting information is a business problem costing millions of dollars and reputational loss. Even with an acute awareness of these risks, many attacks go unchecked. The solution requires more than deploying technology, like firewalls and antivirus gateways, and hoping for the best.

However, security professionals cited a critical need for expertise, technology, and external services to address these external threats’ growing concerns. The solution requires a vigorous, comprehensive investment in risk management for your organization’s complete environment.

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