The CEO’s guide to the threat landscape
Last year, AT&T opened its Cybersecurity Insights Report with a startling fact: ‘The FBI estimates that ransomware is on track to become a $1 billion crime in 2016.’
This is just one element of the huge rise in cybercrime, and the reasons are obvious. Increasingly, businesses are placing sensitive information in potentially accessible areas via use of the cloud: ‘Widespread adoption of emerging technologies such as IoT, cloud technology and mobile devices provide new points of entry for cyber criminals to exploit using tool kits easily acquired on the Dark Web,’ the Executive Summary of the report explains. AT&T’s publication aims to outline the risks in brutal detail, and then show companies how to combat the threat before it can strike.
‘The Global State of Cybersecurity survey found 90 percent of organizations experienced at least one malware-related incident in the previous 12 months, with 58 percent acknowledging occasional or frequent malware threats… cybercrime has become a global business’, the report states. There was a 300 percent increase in malicious e-mail attachments between 2015 and 2916, and worryingly, between 25 percent and 30 percent of employees click on suspicious links in the workplace. The statistics are endless, and companies must lock down their data by securing the cloud and locking down portable devices.
John Vladimir Slamecka, Region President, Global Business, EMEA of AT&T has offered Business Review Middle East the following essay entitled ‘The CEO’s guide to the threat landscape’, in which he further describes the role of the Cybersecurity Insights Report, expresses hope for future security evolution, and predicts what we can expect in 2017:
Over the past year, the cybersecurity threat landscape has continued to grow. Each new device connected to the internet presents a new target for attackers. And each new social media post creates new risks for phishing attacks or social engineering.
The AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Report further emphasizes the impact of successful attacks: downtime (46 percent), loss of revenue (28 percent), reputational damage (26 percent), and even loss of customers (22 percent). In Europe, cyberattacks are also common and increasing in frequency. Some attacks make the headlines – like OVH, Krebs and DynDNS. However, most remain unheard of.
While this trend is concerning, security has come a long way this year. And it will continue to evolve in 2017. But, detecting and responding to threats isn’t getting easier. A rising tide of known threats and the mainstreaming of cyber-criminal activities has created an undercurrent of concern.
Despite the growing concern, many businesses are not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves. In today’s landscape, a company’s security should be one of its most important investments.
Businesses need to ask themselves: Are we doing enough to defend against known threats? Where will the next threat come from?
What’s in store for 2017 and beyond?
Looking at the year ahead we can expect some changes in cybersecurity that will affect businesses in the region:
- IoT security will remain a key concern for security in the upcoming year. Attackers will keep looking for weaknesses in devices across different verticals and industries spanning automotive, agriculture, manufacturing and healthcare to name a few. Hackers will become more interested in day-to-day items in these sectors such as network-connected wearables or smart coffee pots.
- Authentication technologies such as biometric scanning and facial recognition scanning will begin replacing passwords.
- There will be a call for more government support in Europe on cybersecurity. In 2017, we expect policymakers will focus on: how to better protect national IT systems; support for the deployment of more cyber resilient technologies; and the role of a national deterrence policy and active defense.
- There also will be a call for the continued development of industry standards and guidelines and possibly certification programs for IoT devices, as it is fast becoming the latest battleground.
The key thing to remember is prevention.
Criminals are always looking for the next way into your company. Your cybersecurity practices need to help keep them out.
By John Vladimir Slamecka, Region President EMEA, AT&T
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”