Safety and security on the go - be smartphone savvy
With hacking, phishing scams, viruses, malware and the leaking of personal and corporate information in the headlines almost on a daily basis, it’s a relief to see that the mobile industry is starting to make inroads into offering the same level of safety and security on smartphones that we are used to on our PCs.
When I stopped to think about it, the amount of private information I have stored on my smartphone means it is really a mini-computer that I carry around with me. Not only personal data, but access to files saved in the cloud, email and social networking applications. If my smartphone fell into the wrong hands, it really would be a disaster, both from a professional point of view and a personal one.
One of the companies building safety and security for smartphones from the ground up – rather than transplanting desktop services onto the handset – is Cape Town and London-based Mobiflock. The company’s first service is a child safety/parental control app, which sits on the handset quietly filtering activity and, depending on the security levels chosen, blocking dangerous actions such as access to inappropriate websites, contact with unknown people, or indeed, a known cyber-bully, or using a phone late at night. Parents use a web-based dashboard to set the security levels and alerts, and also to get an idea of how their child is using their phone.
The intention says Mobiflock, is to educate parents about growing up as a digital native, so that they can help and guide their children to manage their digital lifestyles themselves. There is no denying that digital communication is here to stay, and that to succeed, kids need to be comfortable and confident with technology.
The Mobiflock parental control service is currently in beta for Nokia Symbian and Android phones, with other operating systems to follow. Next on the agenda for the company is a phone management service for older children and adults: this includes personal safety features such as locating a lost phone and even deleting the data if the phone is stolen or lost for good. Location services are key to the enterprise version of the service Mobiflock is working on, which starts getting very interesting for employers with mobile workforces.
Latest stats from research house Canalys say that globally, the smartphone market grew 73 percent year-on-year, with more than 107.7 million smartphones shipped in the second quarter of this year. Unlike the PC world, the smartphone environment is a highly fragmented one, with a range of operating systems, device manufacturers and capabilities.
In addition, built in functionality such as GPS, cameras and accelerometers give smartphone users access to a totally different range of features and capabilities. Despite this fragmentation, it is likely that criminals and hackers will start focusing their attentions on the growing smartphone user base. Companies like Mobiflock will have their work cut out keeping one step ahead of these threats.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”