Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, says the government has to move fast to ensure that tech does not subvert society. Presumably, she means the European government.

“…as it becomes clearer how those companies were used to manipulate the 2016 U.S. elections, Vestager feels validated in her distrust of Silicon Valley’s power…”

The quotes come from a podcast interview. It shows Europe, or at least Europe’s competition regulator, is moving in a different direction to the USA and Asia. On the surface at least, these regions seem more comfortable with power being concentrated in fewer hands.

European market

“We want a free market, but we know that the paradox of a ‘free’ market is that sometimes you have to intervene. You have to make sure it’s not the law of the jungle, but the laws of democracy that works.”

Vestager said her commission will continue to focus on preventing large tech incumbents like Google from stifling competition from startups. She also has misgivings about the secrecy surrounding the algorithms that power much of the internet.

“I think some of these algorithms, they’ll have to go to law school before they’re let out. You cannot just say, ‘What happens in the black box stays in the black box.’ You have to teach your algorithm what it can do and what it cannot do, because otherwise there is a risk that the algorithms will learn the tricks of the old cartels.”

While it is easy to identify problems caused by tech companies, fixing them looks harder. Regulating for greater competition is a start, so is transparency, yet, for now, the tech giants have momentum.

Source: Europe’s chief regulator Margrethe Vestager on reining in tech: ‘This is the biggest wake-up call we’ve ever had’ – Recode

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Kiwibank software

At Reseller News, Rob O’Neill writes:

Kiwibank has booked a $90 million impairment in its software assets and flagged a major change in its SAP core banking roilout.

“Although the strategic review has not yet concluded, a potential change to how we build the core ‘back end’ IT system (CoreMod) to match the demands of the ‘future front end’ has prompted a re-assessment of the value of the work in progress since successfully migrating our batch payments to SAP,” the bank said today.

Source: Kiwibank books a $90 million impairment on software – Reseller News

You have to wonder why boards tolerate large-scale SAP projects when the failure rate  is so high.

I’ve been told, off-the-record, by a number of high-ranking technology executives that dumb decisions are imposed from the top down with CIOs left to carry the can and pick up the pieces.

One recurring theme is that most of the cost and time overruns are due to extensive integration and customisation.

Make that unnecessary integration and customisation.

It is as if every bank or large business has unique, arcane and esoteric processes that can only be covered by expensive and risky software rewrites.

We know that simply isn’t true.

To think there is something magic tied up in those processes is madness. And expensive.

A smarter strategy for a bank, or any large-scale enterprise, would be to purchase off-the-shelf technology and redesign internal business processes to fit the software. Packaged software usually comes with flexible enough options and settings to cope with essential exceptions.

That’s how it works for small businesses buying accounting software from firms like Xero. Speaking of Xero…

Ben Kepes writes about an infosec panic:

Bitglass, a company that is all about protecting organizational data, wanted to see the impacts of widespread use of public wi-fi, alongside the use of unsanctioned file sharing solutions…

…Bitglass’ threat research team tested two real-world scenarios—public wi-fi use and sharing of data from within a cloud app. The assumption being that the combination of public (and, one assumes, at-risk) wi-fi and cloud file sharing apps (shock, horror, cue the “cloud is risky” FUD) would deliver a double blow of cataclysmic risk.

Source: Public WiFi plus cloud file sharing: A recipe for InfoSec panic? « The Diversity Blog 

Kepes goes on to talk about his experience of using public wi-fi. He says he uses it a lot and never runs into trouble.

That makes sense. But it misses something. Kepes is motivated. He owns a business. He has enough experience, knowledge and sense to steer clear of obvious traps.

You, I and Kepes might be sensible. You can’t assume everyone using an enterprise computing app on a mobile device will be as careful or as savvy.

No amount of training or awareness programmes changes that.

Risky, not too risky

Organisations are at risk from careless use of public wi-fi. As Kepes points out the level of risk might not be high.

There is a simple way to deal with the risk. Build VPN functionality into every heavy-duty mobile enterprise app. That way that users have a secure, encrypted end-to-end link from their mobile device to the server handling their data.

VPNs are not expensive, they are not hard to build. They don’t impose much of a performance overhead.

Enterprise software companies can absorb the cost, a few cents per month, into their pricing model. It makes sense to guarantee security with an insurance policy against data being hijacked between a mobile device and the server.

Kepes’ point, is spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt undermines cloud computing. In general, cloud is more secure than older computing models. You might not expect cloud infrastructure vendors to address mobile access risks; it should be a priority for an enterprise SaaS business.

New Zealand Public’s Support for Data Analytics

New Zealanders don’t like welfare agencies using personal spending data from credit card or insurance to verify benefit claims.

The 2017 Unisys New Zealand Security Index found only 42 percent agree with welfare agencies accessing this kind of information.

It’s not just welfare. Even fewer New Zealanders support the tax office collecting similar data to verify income tax returns. Just 21 percent think this is OK.

Researchers found the most positive government use of analytics is with border security. Allowing border security officers to analyse the travel history of passengers and their fellow travellers to decide if they are eligible for fast-track border clearance gets a tick from 57 percent of New Zealanders.

Sharp insights or nosy parkers?

Business use modern analytics and big data. They see it as a way to pluck customer insights from masses of messy-looking scraps of information. It gives them a short cut to the consumers most likely to buy their products.

Governments use big data and analytics for social policy and security reasons. Marketers also love the technologies. Used well they can boost sales and reduce marketing waste.

It turns out New Zealand consumers are, at best, luke-warm, about that idea. We don’t like marketing department computers sifting out personal data. Most of the time we are not at all happy with sharing information.

Unisys found a majority, almost two-thirds, of New Zealanders do not like data analytics being used to sell goods and services to them.

Lack of trust with banks

Researchers found 64 percent don’t want their bank to monitor their spending habits to offer related products such as insurance for items they have purchased.Shop workers using face recognition glasses to identify loyalty programme members gets a thumbs down from 62 percent of New Zealanders.

Richard Parker, Unisys Asia-Pacific vice president financial services says: “While they may be trying to improve the customer experience, if businesses cross the line and appear to invade customers’ privacy by revealing that they know more about them than what the customer has knowingly shared, it just turns the customer off.

“Technology alone is not enough. It must be used in the context of understanding human nature and cultural norms.”

This is part of a series of sponsored posts about the 2017 Unisys Security Index New Zealand.

 

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When do New Zealanders Support Wearable Biometrics?Unisys Security Index researchers looked at how comfortable New Zealanders are with biometrics and wearable computer devices. That’s the technical name for biometric hardware like health bands and other kit that measures medical data. It also covers smart watches and products like Google Glass.

When there’s a clear benefit, New Zealanders are happy with the devices.

Most New Zealanders support the idea of police or border security staff using face recognition body cameras to identify criminals or even terrorists on watch lists.

Likewise three-quarters of New Zealanders are happy when medical devices like pacemakers or blood sugar sensors report important changes back to a doctor.

Fingerprint scanning

About half of all New Zealand consumers are comfortable using a fingerprint scan to access a smart watch or authorise payment.

This is curious. Most recent Apple and Android phones include finger scanners. Phone makers promote the feature in advertisements and marketing. The products sell in huge quantities. This suggests a significant slice of people buying those products aren’t happy with fingerprint scans.

Around half of all New Zealanders are happy with airline staff wearing face recognition glasses to verify the identity of passengers as they board aircraft. Again, this makes sense, there’s a clear benefit from the technology speeding queues.

It seems a large segment of New Zealanders are still fiercely egalitarian. Only 24 percent support airline staff using the same glasses being used to identify VIP customers and provide them with personalised service. The same suspicions are evident in news there is low support for employers giving employees fitness trackers to track their movements or heart rate stress levels while in the workplace. Unisys says only 29 percent like the idea. This also suggests a mistrust of employers. Let’s face it, some have been known to abuse this kind of personal information in the past.

Biometrics

New Zealanders are positive about biometric devices that help health, safety and security. We don’t like devices that are part of someone’s marketing plan. New Zealand consumers do not consider a loyalty programme sufficient justification.

Mark Sabotti, director of healthcare & life sciences for Unisys Asia-Pacific, makes an interesting point on the biometric hardware results. He says consumers see a clear difference between, say, a doctor monitoring a condition and an insurance company collecting information. Even if that information means some people can save money.

Sabotti sees challenges ahead for health providers and others as the use of smart medical devices rises.

This is part of a series of sponsored posts about the 2017 Unisys Security Index New Zealand.