Monday, October 2, 2017

Enemies of innovation

"No intelligent idea can gain general acceptance unless some stupidity is mixed in with it.” This phrase came from the mouth of Fernando Pessoa and although the Portuguese writer died in 1935, it could have been said yesterday. It´s in force, and will continue to be in force for much longer, as it points to a problem that emerge in human societies since they began to exist: the opposition to new technologies that can change the world. But, and when this opposition seems justified?


The technology changes at a dizzying pace and the growing acquisition of online devices is unstoppable. These, among other reasons, make it difficult to keep up in terms of security. This week it´s necessary to quote not just one interview, but two, both done by ZDNet. The first was made to Matthew Moynahan, CEO of computer security firm Forcepoint. The second one to Ed McLaughlin, president of operations and technology of Mastercard. Both agree on their current perception of the cybersecurity sector and also point in the same direction when looking for a solution.

The thing begins to complicate. Matthew Moynahan believes that because of the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) it´s increasingly difficult to protect against online threats. In Matthew's words "How do you secure a world where there's infinite number of attack points and extreme mobility? It's very difficult, so something has to change. While basic security hygiene encompassing, amongst others, antivirus tools and a patching regime, still were essential, the industry needed to relook at the way security worked in this new world"

To Moynahan the answer is in understanding human beings; figuring out who they are, how they behave, and what they need, and don´t need, to perform work tasks specific to their role. For this in-depth study it takes much more than a small portion of data in order to establish more accurate assumptions of behaviour that seemed out of the ordinary. To make it clearer Matthew puts an example: "Banks would know, for instance, a US-based customer who had just used his credit card in Singapore might not necessarily be a victim of fraud if they were aware he was scheduled to have a business meeting in the Asian country".

It is not a simple idea, Moynahan is clear how to put it into practice: "If the various types of information could be associated with a certain individual, organisations then would more likely know his identity had been stolen if hackers used his credentials to carry out activities not normally linked to the compromised individual. "We would know because they would not behave like you". Reading Moynahan's words between the lines one could say that it´s the industry itself that is moving towards the need to broaden the context of the data and towards the knowledge of the daily routines of consumers.

For this same reason Mastercard has acquired NuData. Thanks to NuDetect technology, they will be able to analyze devices, locations and biometric and behavioral signals to build a digital identity that establishes the risk of each transaction. Ed McLaughlin clarifies, "We will now have the ability to analyze behavior without disrupting the consumer experience, thus being able to determine the legitimacy of each transaction." In short, the analysis of user data and behaviors will allow companies to know if you are really you, thus avoiding any type of fraud or theft.

But not everything was going to be a breeze. Just as the managers of security companies are clear and see these measures as an innovation that will increase the security of our data, consumers have their doubts. According to a recent study by Worldpay, 39% of Australian respondents do not feel secure with the fact that a device makes payments for them. More than half of the respondents believe that these measures, if finally implemented, should be regulated.

In favor of innovation and more if this is in favor of security and to the detriment of data leaks and fraud. But it is also important to keep in mind that the consumer can´t lose control over their data. For or against, we´re grateful for the search for new measures to face the current situation. But, are these the right ones?

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