Does more surveillance offer more protection?

The trend towards greater state surveillance has become even more obvious since Edward Snowden’s revelations. Governments frequently justify such invasions of their citizens’ privacy as counterterrorism or anti-pedophile measures. In recent weeks, two unmissable examples of state interference have been hurried through including an amendment to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in America and the Investigatory Powers Bill by Theresa May. Both laws permit or legalize massive invasions of privacy. Nobody is questioning the presence of a criminal threat – whatever it may be motivated by. However changes to legislation will weaken the security of many IT products which is already under heavy fire as demonstrated by current events such as the Google hack or attack on Telekom routers in Germany.

Big data, big security questions

Half of enterprises today store sensitive information within big data environments (up from 31 percent in 2015). Influential agencies like ENISA warn there are considerable cyber risks from using big data tools. There is concern, for example, that such developments are a possible point of compromise and there are calls for increased vigilance and compliance.

Mobile payments and security — money walks, money talks

Once upon a time a mobile phone was something we used for talking. Today making a call ranks sixth on the list of most common uses for a mobile phone. Now there’s a new kid on the block that, in time, will push making a call even lower down the list. Mobile payment, or m-payment, is taking off. Early adopters like Starbucks already attribute significant revenue gains to their investment in mobile. Although overall mobile payments adoption and usage rates are still a fraction of standard credit/debit card transactions industry watchers expect this to change very quickly.

Internet of Things raises fresh security challenges for industry

For many years industries like oil and gas, electricity, agriculture and utilities have relied on operational communications infrastructure outside the main corporate network to collect data and provide supervisory control. Known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems the data they collect leads to efficient allocation of resources, monitors safety conditions and improves operational decision-making. But now, with the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, industrial organizations are eager to deploy new wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to collect even more data from field assets in remote, geographically dispersed locations. The number of sensors and data points in industrial networks looks set to multiply exponentially overnight. As a consequence, there will be more access points than ever before. Security, therefore, will be an important factor in determining the overall success of IoT deployment.

Web of Spies

Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of state-sponsored espionage over the Internet in 2013 businesses have been acutely aware of just how vulnerable data communications are to being intercepted. It is no coincidence that in the same period cybercriminals have also stepped up their attempts to spy on organisations. For example, the use of Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) malware and ransomware to try to capture valuable financial or customer data for financial gain has risen dramatically. While no defense method is ever 100% impregnable the risk of snooping and theft of sensitive data can be significantly reduced by encrypting it using VPNs.