Protecting Mobile Data Privacy in the Enterprise

The workplace today is dominated by mobile devices. Employee interaction via smartphone or tablet has become second nature. They will very likely use them to check work emails, download files containing customer information or access privileged network content remotely without a second thought. Unfortunately, accessing information in this way is inherently insecure. Whether it’s Internet snoopers at the airport, a stolen or lost device or state-sponsored surveillance company, confidential information can all too easily fall into the wrong hands. For this reason, implementing secure business communication techniques that protect the privacy of mobile data – on the device, in transit and at rest – has become essential. The answer lies in a combination of security best-practices and encryption-based technologies such as virtual private networks (VPNs).

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Meltdown and Spectre – play down or panic?

Users have long since accepted that software errors can be exploited for digital attacks. In fact, these have become so frequent that only highly critical incidents make the news. Hardware is mostly a different story and not often considered as a security threat. But now the Meltdown and Spectre security flaws can only be described as disastrous. Andreas Stiller from heise IT security news describes the two vulnerabilities with which data from protected internal memory areas can be read by many processors as a catastrophic security incident. Under certain circumstances, the CPU security flaws allow passwords or other confidential information to be read and forwarded to an attacker via a network connection. More than a dozen possible attacks have already been outlined publicly. It can be assumed that stakeholders who are interested in clandestine exploits may also have a few more ideas on the subject which are not in the public domain.

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Keeping Industrial Revolution 4.0’s Treasures Hidden

The growing use of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) worldwide is in the process of turning the concept of smart factories into reality. The phenomenon has been described by observers as the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 for short. Big things are expected. Analysts at Gartner expect manufacturing to account for 57% of total IoT spending in 2017, while total enterprise IoT investments will reach $964 billion. Industry 4.0 promises to combine digital technologies with all-pervasive internet connectivity to produce valuable data. Companies then mine, analyze and convert the information into a wealth of insights. The knowledge will then be used to boost factory productivity, increase supply chain efficiency and make cost savings. As always, new trends bring fresh challenges. Connecting industrial machinery to the outside world can lead to new security risks. Deployment of virtual private networks (VPNs) can help reduce such risks significantly, ensuring that Industry 4.0’s data treasures stay hidden from unwelcome observers.

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Looking into the crystal ball

In 2017, some of the worst data incidents of recent years have occurred. Whether Equifax, Uber or Maersk, organizations have had to admit, sometimes too late, that their customers’ personal data have been stolen. To some extent, companies’ tactics to cover up the incidents have seemed almost as criminal as the data theft itself. All industry insiders and security software companies that dare to make forecasts for the coming year agree that ransomware in particular seems to be developing into a threat that companies cannot currently handle.

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Could Net Neutrality reversal spell open season for connected car data?

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to overturn Net Neutrality. The decision gives internet service providers (ISPs) and telecom companies the right to prioritize services according to customers’ ability to pay and to sell customer data to third parties. One industry likely to feel the effect of this is the automotive sector. Connected cars depend on consistent data transmission. It’s estimated that by 2021 over 380 million connected cars will be on the road, more than double the number now. Today, the motor manufacturing industry is still in the very early stages of figuring out how to make money from connected car data. The relaxing of Net Neutrality rules makes it likely that auto manufacturers will team up with telcos and ISPs to offer customers a range of data-based services. Ultimately, this could be even more profitable than actual vehicle sales. One of the biggest challenges for motor manufacturers will be to convince customers that their privacy is assured and that it will not be open season for their data. One sure fire way to secure driver data is to use virtual private networks (VPNs).

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Christmas is coming – but turn off the Wi-Fi

Every year, as Christmas draws nearer, many can be heard questioning the sanity of annual gifting madness. In the past, everything was better when the parents themselves were children and most were happy with a wooden car. Today’s children are far too spoiled anyway. But if you think the favorite toys of yesteryear (Magic Cube, He-Man, Furby, Tamagotchi) are the spawn of the devil, you’ll be amazed by the current toy trends. A survey of parents by the security software manufacturer McAfee found that 90 percent of children want networked toys. Hardly any parent, however, has IT security in mind, which is quite important with such digital technology finding a place in our children’s bedrooms.

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Four Common Myths about VPNs

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a useful tool that encrypts data before it passes across the public Internet and then decrypts it when it reaches its destination. Rather like shutters on the windows of a house, it shields what goes on inside even though the outside can be seen by everyone in the street. The process, often referred to as tunneling, is particularly useful for businesses whose workers have to use the Internet in public places like coffee shops or airports. It is also helpful for those who want to keep confidential customer information or intellectual property safe from the prying eyes of hackers and spies. In 2017, the U.S. Trump administration overturned regulations preventing ISPs from making money from users’ browser data. At the same time in the UK, the Investigatory Powers Act served to increased government surveillance of Internet activity in response to a heightened threat of terrorism. Both led to a surge in interest in VPNs. A VPN is an established technology that has traditionally been seen as the province of technical specialists. Perhaps because of this, and in spite of VPN services becoming easier to deploy, a number of enduring myths persist.

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GDPR: Who is responsible for what?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Network Information Security (NIS) directive are already causing a flurry of activity among businesses. Who is ultimately responsible for cybersecurity seems to be attracting particularly intense discussion. According to a recent study by Palo Alto Networks, cybersecurity is usually the responsibility of CIOs in 50% of companies compared to 30% of CISOs. This is a surprising finding, especially considering that the role of Chief Information Security Officer implies this task. Whether this changes is probably more of a political rather than technical matter. At least around 30 percent of respondents believe that the CISO or CSO should be responsible for cybersecurity. The current situation points to long established and seldom adapted rituals in the distribution of responsibility within companies.

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