Big Data Helping People Back into Work

Worxica is a labour market information research tool built for use by Canadian job seekers, students, and employers.

After entering a job title and location, they can see a summary showing the number of applicable local job ads advertised over the past year, who has been hiring, the typical annual wages offered, skills and certifications required, and more. Users can then click on any reported metric to dive into the job postings it was retrieved from.

Worxica was built to help Canadians make informed decisions when planning and executing their next career move. “Big Data and Artificial Intelligence technology advances are already revolutionizing the way employers hire workers and monitor productivity.

Isn’t it time for job seekers to reap some benefits too?” asks Strac Ivanov, president and CEO of Vicinity Jobs. “For over a decade, we have been collecting information from online job postings for Canadian government economists, universities, and labour market researchers. Through Worxica, we are putting much of this information in the hands of Canadians looking for work.”

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Cyber Security Basics

Many people think that cyber security only applies to big companies and governments, and that it should like to be dealt with by the IT guys.

Anyone who owns a computer, who works with a computer or who has a smart phone needs to be aware of some pretty basic rules about cyber security, both for their own sake and for anyone they work with or for.

Cyber security is about understanding the risk of cyber crime, and doing whatever you can to minimise the risk, and then when necessary insure against what ever potential risk is left.

Cyber Crime

The nature of cyber crime is a rapidly evolving one, and can cover a wide area. At one level it is about criminals trying to obtain money or other benefits either by installing some type of ransom ware on a computer or a system, and demanding payment for releasing encrypted files, or by some other type of blackmail.

On the other hand cybercrime can be about online bullying, where there may be no financial element involved, but where the emotional and personal distress can often be enormous.

Cyber crime can also  be connected to malicious software, known as malware, and viruses, which do not have any specific financial target, but which are designed to disrupt and in some cases destroy data or computer systems on a particular network.

Prevention

The old adage that prevention is better than cure  is an absolute truism when talking about cyber security. Perhaps the number one priority for all types of cyber security is to make sure that all your data is always backed up, ideally more than once, to different locations.

Backups can either be by way of  cloud computing, memory sticks or to another network, but they are crucial to restore the integrity of the system in the event of any cyber attack. Nowadays it is dead easy to automate backups and so there is no excuse really not to do it.

The same goes for making sure that your computer operating system is up-to-date, and any applications or software that you use is running the latest version.

Also that any browser you use is up to date as well. If you are running it as part of a network, then it is also important that all firewalls and anti-virus and anti-malware software is in place and up-to-date.

Cyber Security basics are in many ways common sense.

A lot of the incidents that relate to cyber security happen because very basic rules are just not always followed. Simple things like not opening email attachments unless you know who they are from is a classic example.

Much of the damage done to computer systems and networks is done from some things like opening attachments that shouldn’t be opened, letting viruses and malware into the system, not changing passwords regularly enough and an increasing problem, is people using their own mobile devices at work on a company network.

Mobile Cyber Security

Smart phones seemed to have escaped the focus of cyber security, which has largely been on desktop computers and networks.

However the risk to smart phones is certainly ever present, and is likely to increase it to me as smart phones become much more of a digital hub for people’s lives, both in their own home, in their car and at work as well.

The same principles apply to mobile cyber security as to the desktop and network security.

Make sure the operating system is up-to-date, make sure the browser is up-to-date, and do not open email attachments unless you are certainly know who they are from.

Also with smart phones it is really important to be sure that the Wi-Fi network your are using is secure, especially if you are using the phone for things like online banking.

Some public Wi-Fi networks  are notoriously unsafe, and should be used with great caution.

Smart Home – Internet of Things

The relentless drive of the Internet of things has received a major boost in recent years with Amazon, Google and Apple all producing their own smart home hubs.

These are designed to control all the wirelessly connected devices in the home, of which there are an increasing number. The idea of a smart home has been around for some time, and is gradually becoming a reality whether people like it or not.

An increasing number of devices and products, from washing machines to refrigerators to televisions have wireless internet capability, and can talk to other devices electronically as well as connect to the Internet.

There are huge cyber security risks involved in this, as many devices either do not have proper security safeguards built in, or are out of date by the time they arrive in the home.

The issue of cyber security in the home, especially in the Smart home, is rapidly becoming an issue.

The most important things to do to check that any devices that to have wireless capability had the latest software and security updates from the manufacturer installed, that your home Wi-Fi network is secure, and check online with any product you buy to see if there are any problems regarding security that other people may be reporting.

Cyber Security Governance

The idea of some type of governnance is largely a corporate one, but the principle applies to anyone who runs any type of business or organisation of any size, and can also be adapted very easily to anyone’s home or domestic environment.

The principle of cyber security governance is that a business or organisation of any size has a dedicated risk management plan and system for making sure that cyber security is as strong as it can possibly be within the organisation.

This in part is about policies and procedures, but is also about systems and people as well.

Firstly it is important to have one person at board level or equivalent  whose sole responsibility or whose major responsibility is cyber security. They must be accountable to the organisation, and have the authority to make decisions and spend money when necessary.

The structure should be similar to that of many companies who have a risk management system in place.

The individual concerned needs to develop policies and procedures for making sure that the integrity of the network system is always as secure as it can be, whether it is done in-house or by way of outside contractors, and that people who work within the business or organisation are also fully aware of cyber security risks, and what can be done to minimise these risks.

This can involve training, as well as online monitoring of activity that may be deemed inappropriate in a workplace, and making sure some type of cyber insurance policy is in place that ideally includes an incident management team which can oversee the practical resolution of any data breach or cybercrime, and the restoration of the integrity of any compromised computer or IT system.

 

 

 

Identity Theft – What Is It?

Someone who is a victim of identity theft is someone who has had their identity stolen in some way, and the criminal has used that identity to fraudulently obtain some type of benefit, such as a bank loan, credit card or other financial gain in the name of the person whose identity they have stolen.

Identity theft is widespread, although the scale of it is difficult to assess financially as a lot of banks and financial institutions do not like to advertise the fact that they had been misled and had money stolen from them.

The risks of identity theft are well  known, and there is a lots of good advice available about how to try and prevent identity theft, and there is some insurance protection available in the event that someone’s identity has been stolen, although the help that is offered is in reality fairly minimal.

Risk of Identity Theft

The crime of identity theft  occurs when a criminal is able to obtain unique information about an individual, and then use that information to clone their identity. This cloned identity then becomes liable for a wide range of financial fraud, perpetrated by the criminal in the name of the individual’s identity that has been stolen.

In order to steal an identity, it is generally accepted that there are a number of specific pieces of information that someone needs.

These normally relate to areas of information that are unique to that individual, and cannot apply to anyone else, such as their date of birth, their social security number or national insurance number, passport etc.

In reality, a criminal will try and obtain as much information about that individual as possible, in order to build up a picture that can be used to effectively represent them in a fraudulent manner.

Preventing Identity Theft

There is no sure way to prevent identity theft, but there are certain things you can do to make it more difficult.

Perhaps the most important is to make sure that all information that is unique to you as an individual regarding tax and social security, pension benefits, medical benefits etc is sent to you by regular post rather than email.

This may seem fairly basic but the is in truth probably the most practical way of preventing unique information falling into the hands of criminal.

The other things that you can do are to monitor things such as bank accounts, credit cards etc, to see any unusual activity.

This can also apply to any strange letters or visits or phone calls  that might seem to imply unusual activity regarding your finances.

Any warning sign that your credit is being altered in some way that seems to you unlikely should alert you to the possibility of some type of identity theft or identity theft tampering.

Dealing With Identity Theft

If you discover that your identity has been stolen, there are a number of steps that you should immediately following. Firstly is to notify your bank or credit card company you believe your identity has been stolen, and ask for their assistance in helping to resolve it.

Make sure that they are willing to work with you to sort out the issue without penalising you by way of freezing  your account or anything similar.

Make sure you register the identity theft online, there is normally a government backed websites available, that is either a government site or a law enforcement site that allows you to lock the fact that you have had your identity stolen, and should be able to provide some assistance in terms of helping to recover it.

If your stolen identity has been used to fraudulently obtain a loan or a credit card, make sure you collect all the information you can about it before it is completely disabled and shut down to  help track and trace the initial fraud.

Identity Theft Insurance

Some type of identity theft insurance is normally offered  by way of a rider or endorsement to a home or homeowners or renters insurance policy. The cover it gives normally focuses on some type of financial assistance for help with attorney/lawyers fees, assistance with credit monitoring, acting as a liaison with banks, insurance companies to try and resolve ongoing fraud issues etc.

Whilst this help can be of some value, the real help that is needed with virtually types of identity fraud is unravelling fraud that has taken place, and getting banks and financial institutions to believe that it has actually happened in the first place.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that implies that banks tend to want the individual to prove their identity has been stolen to an exacting degree before they are willing to consider the possibility that fraud has taken place.

Proving identity theft  has taken place can be quite difficult, especially where it is the sort of crime where you are up against a number of institutions that initially may well not believe you at all. This is an area where some type of identity theft insurance would be really invaluable, but unfortunately most current insurance policies do not really provide much value in this area.

Identity Theft and Cyber Insurance

Whilst the scale of identity theft is hard to assess, what is fairly clear is that the growth of cybercrime and cyber security means that the amount of identity theft and fraud is bound to increase fairly substantially over the next few years.

It is becoming easier and easier to know more and more about people, whether they want you to or not.

Some of this is around information gathered from social networks, and what people post online about themselves, privately and professionally. The growth of the Internet of things, and of big data, means that the amount of information available are people, with or without their knowledge, is going to explode into a level that is almost incomprehensible at todays levels of knowledge.

Sometimes this information is gathered through hacking into corporations websites where personal data such as credit card etc has been stolen.

Current cyber insurance policies are mainly aimed at businesses and organisations, and the insurance companies that offer best practice seem to include some type of incident management team, that includes lawyers, IT specialists, reputational management specialists etc.

The insurance policy is designed for a team to come in and take over the running of dealing with the cyber attack, both negotiating a successful outcome and restoring integrity of the system as well.

It is likely that as the rate of identity theft grows, insurance companies will need to provide some type of incident management team for individuals as well, either as part of an existing insurance policy, or as an add-on to some type of specialist cyber insurance policy.

The Internet of Things – What is it?

The Internet of things is a collective term for all the various devices, products and wearables that can connect to each other, and to the Internet as well.

Whilst the idea of devices talking to each other, electronically, has been around for some time, the reason the Internet of Things has become a huge concept in more recent times is because of the sheer volume of devices and products that can access the Internet.

Various experts predict growth in the market of the Internet of things to be so huge over  the next 5/10 years that it is almost impossible to put it into any sort of context.

What is undoubtedly true is that there is a relentless drive by manufacturers of every single product to make sure that they are able to connect their device wirelessly to the Internet.

This has huge  implications, not only for the nature of society and how it will change, but for people’s privacy, the control of the information that pertains to their life and their security and well-being.

Moral questions aside, perhaps the most potent issue is that of cyber security and cyber insurance.

Given that in a  few years time virtually everything we own, drive and wear is likely to be connected to the internet wether we like it is or not, the potential risks in terms of some type of cyber attack are enormous, and there are significant implications for people’s safety, both physically and emotionally and financially.

How these risks are managed and understood, both by way of minimising them and insuring against them is a major challenge that has yet to be clearly addressed.

Internet of Things and Smart Homes.

When people think of the internet of things they normally think of smart homes and smart home devices. This is largely because most examples of the Internet of things have tended to paint a picture of how wireless devices will make people’s lives easier by automating normal everyday functions, whether it be driving home from work, fixing the evening meal, automating lights and music in the home, controlling heating levels etc.

Whether normal people actually find the idea of this attractive or not is debatable, but what is clear that virtually all current devices and products that are now being built and produced for the home will contain internet capability.

This is true whether it be a smart television, a baby alarm, a refrigerator or a washing machine. What is also likely is that these devices will be switched on by default, and it is not clear yet whether there will be any capability for turning them off so you are not wirelessly collected.

There is also a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that a lot of major companies are pushing out products that have internet capability with a speed that is more about getting to market quickly and riding on the wave of popularity that the internet of things seems to be generating, than it is about really understanding the security  implications of what they are doing.

What’s this means is that there may be many products that are reaching market that has not been fully tested or manufactured with security in mind, and may need continual software updates or patches to make sure they are secure.

The risk of a cyber attack in a smart home mirrors many of the current risks that a business or organisation will face in its current day-to-day operations.

The dangers inherent in smart hones are not so much that someone’s refrigerator is at risk of attack, but that someone can access a person’s home network through one of these devices, such as a baby alarm or a washing machine, and through that gain access to the  individual or families private data.

Wearables

When people talk about the Internet of things they are also talking about wearables. These can currently only be best thought of as smart watches and fit bit devices. The last couple of years show that  major tech companies have been experimenting with different types of wearables, such as glasses, watches and even tattoos as a way of connecting people to the Internet by things that are a part of their body or apparel.

What is really important to realise here is the principle. That tech companies wants to find at least one wearable that people feel comfortable having on them at all times that can access the internet.

Obviously from a tech company’s point of view it is preferable to have more than one, but one will do. For this reason major tech companies will happily experiment with different types of wearables until they find one that really hits the market.

The implications for wearables are pretty much the same as for those of a smart home.

The fact that an individual will have something connected to their body that is internet accessible means that they are much more at risk of a cyber attack, with all the security implications already mentioned.

Wearables are not simply about phones and glasses.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that manufacturers of clothes, shoes, shirts etc are looking at ways of inserting internet access and internet products, probably by way of some type of barcode, that would give them information about individual and their shopping habits.

There is also anecdotal evidence of manufacturers of  pillows and bed clothing doing the same thing, again under the pretext of collecting information about how an individual sleeps and  various sleep patterns.

Often, once people understand the implications of how their life will be fully monitored 24 seven via access to the Internet, there is some shift towards a fight against it in terms of privacy and control of their data.

Whilst both these areas are hugely important, they sometimes skew perhaps an even greater need for the understanding of cyber security and cyber insurance to minimise and manage these risks with some degree of safety.

Internet of Things and Autos

In the space of only a few years, most manufacturers of cars and trucks are talking about and developing autonomous vehicles.. No one really seems to be asking the question why, there is a general assumption, often untested, that it is about safety, and that somehow self driving cars and trucks are safer than those with a human behind the wheel.

It is worth going back to the original Google car that was the first self driving vehicle.

That had nothing to do with safety at all. Google’s first car, that resembled more of the old bubble car, was designed with one particular aim in mind. It saw the commuter market, particularly in the West Coast, where people would sit in their cars in gridlocked traffic for approximately fours a day, two hours each way, doing nothing other than look at the scenery around them.

Google saw these cars as opportunities to provide consumers with content that could carry advertising. This meant that if the car could drive itself, the individual could spend time either watching content or playing with content, having a screen in the middle of the car and not having  to worry about where it was going.

As manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon of this, the narrative slightly changed and people started talking about safety.

Quite where it will end up is unclear, but what is clear is that  the trend in most modern cars is to turn them more into infotainment centers than vehicles than can be driven on highways and byways.

The rise in the use of technology in cars, both inside the engine and inside the vehicle itself, is enormous.

What this also means is that the security implications are huge as well.

There seem to be too likely scenarios that are likely to develop in the future. One is the rise of  autonomous cars that drive themselves with no human involvement  at all, the other scenario is where technology is used to automate a number of functions within the vehicle, largely around safety, but with a human driver still in  overall control of the vehicle.

Both scenarios are likely to coexist for a significant period of time, and both have fairly obvious cyber security implications.

The most common threat that is talked about is where someone manages to take control of the vehicle remotely by way of hacking into the cars various systems, and this is obviously a very real threat.

The other major threat, less often talked about, is where someone manages to access the cars computing system through the individuals smart phone, which will largely be used to control most of the on-board Internet access.

Once someone has managed to hack into a smart phone, then it’s open season for all the information contained therein, whether it relates to banking details, credit cards, passwords etc.

It is not clear yet how auto insurance or car insurance will manage and insure these risks.

One reason for this is simply that at the moment it is very difficult to quantify these risks, let alone assess who is responsible for them, and what can be done to minimise them. One thing is likely, which is that the risk of a cyber attack will undoubtedly increase the cost of an individual’s car insurance, whether it is an autonomous vehicle or not.

Agriculture and Energy Management

There are many areas in business and commerce where the internet of things can undoubtedly speed up production and efficiency, logistics and inventory control. There is likely to be a significant cost in terms of human labour, but history seems to suggest that companies don’t worry about this too much.

Two areas that are worth looking at briefly are those of agriculture and energy management. Agriculture especially because it relates to the food that we would eat, and the internet of things could dramatically alter the nature of farming and farming techniques.

Energy management is the other area, which has a direct link to smart homes and the use of energy in businesses and factories. One of the great selling points of the internet of things  is that it can make people’s homes more energy efficient, thus saving them money and conserving energy and fuel at the same time.

Energy management is already a crucial issue in society, even if not all politicians are open to doing what needs doing to effect climate change.

The internet of things has the potential  to manage all types of energy industries and infrastructures with a much greater degree of efficiency and safety. This also means that there is much greater scope for a cyber attack, either around the issue of nuclear plants or oil and gas installations etc.

Again the issue from a cyber security and insurance point of view is assessing the level of risk, understanding how best to minimise that risk, and arranging some type of cyber insurance that can effectively deal with the implications and reality of any type of cyber attack or disruption.

Smart Cities

There is also a lot of talk of smart cities. This is where cities use the collective data generated by all the internet of things within a city or town, generated by cars, sensors, Wi-Fi networks, peoples wearable’s etc as a way of planning urban development  in a more efficient and productive manner.

Again the security implications are significant, as more and more people generate more and more information and data, that is collected and analysed, then there is obviously a greater risk of that data being accessed and stolen, with real implications in terms of cyber security and identity theft.

What is Big Data and A.I?

The term big data refers largely to the massive amounts of information and data that has come with the growth of the internet, and with the growth of the mobile internet in particular.

To understand big data, you really need to understand databases, and the relationship between information and how it is used.

What is a Database

Imagine that you own a business which employs say 10 to 15 people, and when each one joined the company they will fill in an application form that details say  30 / 40 specific pieces of information about themselves.

This information would be their surname, christian names, date of birth, place of birth, previous jobs, start date,  qualifications, skills etc.

You would probably also want to record information such as their starting salary, additional payments, date of annual appraisals, pension contributions etc.

Once you have collected all the application forms for all the employees,  you would want to have a system where you could record it all and access any of the information whenever you needed it.

The easiest way probably would be to set up a spreadsheet, where you allocate a row to each individual employee, and fill out each piece of information in a particular cell going along the row.

Once you had done this for all employees, you would have 10 to 15 rows of information going a long spreadsheet,  and maybe 30 or 40 columns going down the spreadsheet which gave you the collected information for the specific areas for all the different employees.

That quite simply is a database.

Databases have been around pretty much since paper was invented, but have only really become significant with the advance of computational power, firstly with mainframes and lastly with PCs and the internet, and currently through cloud computing.

A database can be the information collected by a community organisation with three or four members,  or a massive multinational with hundreds of thousands of employees scattered across the globe.

The common factor in most databases is that you have very specific areas of information, which can be stored in very logical ways, itemised and analysed by virtue of  their field or category.

Growth of Big Data

Many experts claim that 90% of all the information available in the world today has been generated in the last two years (@2018). Whilst this is a difficult claim to verify, it is most likely true that somewhere near this figure is probably reasonably accurate. The growth in online information has come about through the massive expansion of the mobile Internet, and the different types of data that have been produced.

Big Data Types

When people talk about big data. what they are really referring to is the information that has been generated on smart phones, desktop computers, trading platforms, different learning machines. the various types of programs that have generated big data include blogs,  video sharing platforms, social networks, podcasts etc.

The sheer volume of these combined posts and tweets and webpages is almost too big to comprehend any meaningful level.

Big Data Analysis

Big data is not simply about the sheer volume of data and information that is generated at the moment (2018)  it is also about how this information can be stored used and analysed.

Aside from huge privacy issues, there are real questions about who has access to this information and what it can be used for.

Companies want to use it to be able to target individuals specifically for advertising and products, governments want to use it for a range of different purposes, some probably more devious than others.

The problem from an analysis point of view, is that the information generated by way of social networks and tweets etc does not fit into a traditional database as outlined above.

This has meant that the manipulation of data to generate extra focus  is virtually impossible. This means that other ways have had to be found to analyse information in order to be able to use it as other people see fit.

Internet of Things

What ever the accurate figure is as to the level of information that has been generated today in 2018, it is going to be dwarfed by the amount of information that will be generated over the next five or 10 years with the massive growth of the Internet of things, more clearly explained here.

The significance of the Internet of Things in relation to big data  is that it seems to be open season for virtually everything related to an individual’s life to be made wireless, so that companies and governments can get access to the information about how people live their lives.

This presents huge issues not only in terms of privacy, but also in terms of security. The more that people’s homes, cars, clothes, wearables, pets etc are connected to each other and to the Internet, the more at risk they are of some type of cybercrime, and the more need there is for some type of cyber security program and some type of cyber insurance to cover the risk.

The Four V’s of Big Data

Quite often reference is made to what are known as the Four V’s of big data. These are most commonly volume, variety, velocity and  voracity.

Volume refers to the sheer scale of data and information that is generated minute by minute across the globe.

Variety refers to the different types of data and information that are generated, from audio to video to written, with the advent of virtual worlds and 3-D world’s this could change significantly.

Velocity refers to the sheer speed at which this information is generated, and the problems in terms of analysing it that are relevant to that.

Veracity refers largely to the accuracy of the information or data that is produced. Given that companies and governments want to rely on this information in order to analyse it, there are real difficulties and problems in terms of verifying how accurate it is.

Hadoop

Hadoop  is an open source software system, run by Apache, that is effectively the current de facto way of analysing  big data.

What it essentially does is to break the data down into significantly smaller chunks, direct these chunks to a wide range of different computers which can analyse it efficiently, and then these computers send back the results to Hadoop, which collects it and generates the finished analysis.

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are often linked to big data, because it is recognised that it is virtually impossible for any human to effectively be able to analyse and make sense of the data has been produced.

This has given free rein to companies to produce some type of process of  artificial intelligence which can analyse and make sense of  big data. The implications from a societal point of view, and from a privacy point of view, are pretty terrifying to a lot of people, but there seems to be no appetite by any government or organisation to really try and put some sort of break on it.

The supposedly benefits of artificial intelligence are sold as being a legitimate reason for developing it at breakneck speed, with examples given such as Netflix and Amazon, and governments or cities ability to use data to improve public services within those cities.

These claims are at best probably highly dubious, and give credibility to the speed with which this whole process is taking place. The issue of security and privacy seems to be completely ignored or marginalised, with those who raise them being looked at or talked about as almost Luddite.

It may well take some major catastrophe in terms of cyber security to wake people up to the reality of what is happening, and the inherent risks associated with this breakneck speed approach to technological change and advancement.

 

 

What is Cyber Insurance and What does it Cover?

Cyber Insurance is a dedicated insurance policy, that provides both financial cover and practical help to anyone who has been victim of a cyber crime. At the moment, this type of policy is mainly aimed purely at businesses and organisations, of all sizes, any of whom could be vulnerable to a cyber attack or a data breach.

This is likely to change significantly in the near future as more and more areas of people’s individual lives are becoming vulnerable to Cyber attacks, such as their cars and their homes,  and the whole nature of cyber insurance will have to evolve to deal with these threats.

This is likely to mean that either people’s home insurance or their car insurance will have to start covering the risks of a cyber attack, or cyber insurance policies will have to evolve themselves to cover these areas.

Cyber Insurance and Indemnity

Insurance companies talk about indemnity, which is an important concept to understand. It means that the insurance policy is designed to put the insured in the same position as they were before the loss happened.

With regard to cyber insurance this means that not only is there financial protection included as part of the insurance policy, but the insurance policy  should also cover practical areas of help, such as lawyers, I.T. technicians etc. Some cyber insurance policies do include these extra areas of help, and some don’t.

Deciding what type of cyber insurance policy to buy is often determined by how much additional help is available, in the policy, in the event of a data breach, and quite often the cost will reflect this.

Cyber Crime

Cyber crime is considered one of the, if not the fastest growing area of criminal activity, and is widely evolving and quickly changing. This makes keeping up with an understanding of current threats more difficult, but there are a number of specific areas that need to be understood.

Cyber crime normally refers to a situation where information or data has been stolen from an individual or an organisation, normally known as a data breach, and there is either some financial loss as a result, some reputational damage, or something such as a ransom demand to release a computer or network that has been encrypted by a third party hacker.

Cyber Insurance Policy Cover

These are the basics of what good cyber insurance policy can offer,  although as said above, policy cover will differ significantly between insurance companies.

Incident Management Team

This is a general term for a team of specialists who can effectively take over and oversee the management of any claim as soon as there is a known reporting of a cyber crime. This can include the paying of any ransom demand,  and the restoration of any I.T. systems that have been breached as a result.

This support team  should be able to investigate the data breach, find out how it happened, restore any computer systems to full integrity, notify any clients or customers that the data breach has happened and it’s implications, and notify any relevant regulatory or statutory bodies that need to be told.

The incident management team should also include a legal team, a company that can offer access to a credit monitoring system to help with the risk of identity theft, a PR company who can help with reputational damage, and a specialist who can negotiate in the event of a kidnapping demand for a time of information or ransomware.

The Cyber Insurance Policy  will also need to have a significant financial indemnity cover, which may be needed to pay any ransom demand, loss of income  or business interruption, any type of cyber extortion or criminal activity. and any costs needed to repair the infrastructure of the computer or network system involved.

Who is at Risk ?

People often tend to associate cybercrime with big companies such as Facebook or Sony, or with governments, as data breaches that affect them tend to be the ones that get the most publicity.

In fact anyone who owns a computer that is linked to a network of any type is potentially at risk.

This applies to people who have a computer connected to the internet in their own home, as well as any computer they may use at work, it also applies to any smartphone that they may have, and quite soon will apply to the car they drive and the washing machine and refrigerator in their home as well.

Whilst it is difficult to predict trends in this area,  there is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting normal everyday people for relatively small amounts of money, through various types of ransomware and threats, as well as big companies and corporations.

It is very easy to scare people into giving away small amounts of money, relatively, and in some ways this can be much more cost effective from the criminals point of view. From the point of view of the person who has experienced the crime, they are like his feel as violated as if they had either been physically attacked or their home had been broken into.

The Internet of Things

There is often reference nowadays to the internet of things, normally in the context of how it is going to change everyone’s life within the next 5 years.

What it is really referring to is that virtually every device that is not being produced is being given a wireless capability so that it can connect to the internet, as well as connecting to other devices in the home or office.

This means that anything from a refrigerator or an oven, through to a baby alarm or your car can connect to the internet and speak to other devices. There is a huge area of debate about the implications of this regarding privacy and other things,  although what is absolutely clear is that it is going to present a huge potential risk of cybercrime.

Companies love the idea of be able to connect their devices or products to the internet and other devices, and the rush to do so and get them to market often means that the security capabilities are not as carefully thought through as they should be, and that software updates are not issued or installed automatically as they should be either.

Some people like the idea of a smart home or office, other people find the idea pretty horrible. Either way in the next few years virtually everything that every individual owns or uses is likely to have the capability of connecting to the internet wirelessly.

This has huge security implications,  and is an iisue the insurance industry has not fully caught up with them. This means that most people standard home or auto insurance policy is vague about its cover in this area, and people could be left in limbo as to whether or not they are covered for any data breach that happens in their own home.

Identity Theft

The risk of identity theft has been around for some time, but with the growth of cyber crime and the amount of personal information that is shared online and through smartphones means that the risk of identity theft is probably now greater than ever.

From an insurance point of view, some home insurance policies do already provide some degree of cover for identity theft, either as part of the policy or add an additional section that can be bought at  extra cost.

The problem with the existing level of cover is that all it really does is help provide access to additional levels of credit checks and a few other useful but not really that important areas of restitution.

What most identity theft insurance protection does not do is actually help the person recover any loss that may have been incurred as a result of their identity having been stolen.

What tends to happen is that a person will have their identity stolen, and then the criminal will use that  person’s identity to obtain bank loans or credit cards or other financial benefits in that person’s name, and then run.

When  the original person discovers that their identity has been stolen and fraudulently used,  the anecdotal evidence is that most banks and other institutions are relatively unsympathetic, and the onus is on the individual to prove that they did not take out the loan or credit card etc.

This  is where an insurance policy could probably help,  but at the moment there seems to be little by way of practical benefit that most policies offer. This  may well need to change with the growth of cybercrime and cyber insurance.

Cyber Bullying

It  is worth flagging up cyber bullying as being a major element of cyber crime,  although it is not often thought of as such because the bullying tends to be emotional rather than financial.

The consequences of cyber bullying can be devastating for individuals and families, and whilst there may not be an awful lot that an insurance policy can do, the overall approach to cyber security can have a hugely beneficial effect in terms of minimising the effect of bullying, and taking steps to deal with its perpetrators.

Liability Insurance

Many  companies and organisations believe that they already have enough  cyber security insurance under different levels of liability insurance that they have already taken out. These types of insurance policies can include product liability insurance, errors and omissions insurance  or simply a public liability insurance policy.

In truth, they are unlikely to have sufficient cover, and any cover they do have is likely to be financial only, and not include any incident management team as specified above.

One of the problems is that there a lot of companies and organisations who do not have a sufficient cyber governance program, and therefore do not take cyber security as seriously as perhaps they should.

Cyber Governance

This is the name given to any structure within a company or organisation, which should represent best practice for establishing policies and procedures that both minimise the risk of, and deal with any data breach  that may occur within the company.

It can be thought of as similar to a risk management structure,  and depending upon the size and structure of the business, should have a dedicated board member partner who has specific responsibility all aspects of cyber security.

This position does not have to be a person  who has a lot of technical knowledge of computers,  but needs to be someone who can implement a policy which includes both technical and non-technical assessments of cyber security risks and how best to deal with them.

iPhone Data at Risk

While Facebook desperately tightens controls over how third parties access its users’ data – trying to mend its damaged reputation – attention is focusing on the wider issue of data harvesting and the threat it poses to our personal privacy.

Data harvesting is a multibillion dollar industry and the sobering truth is that you many never know just how much data companies hold about you, or how to delete it.

That’s the startling conclusion drawn by some privacy campaigners and technology companies.

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Threat of Cyber Attacks to Global security

Cyber attacks are now the third-largest threat facing the world, following natural disasters and extreme weather, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2018, released Wednesday.

A World Economic Forum (WEF) executive summary said that cybersecurity risks have grown “both in their prevalence and in their disruptive potential.”

Some of the biggest risks, the report noted, were attacks against critical infrastructure and connected industrial systems—many of which can cause physical harm in the process. Some examples given in the report were WannaCry, Petya, and NotPetya.

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What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things is a collective term for hundreds of devices that can connect to the internet wirelessly, and possibly connect to each other as well.

Some of the most common questions asked are :

What is the Internet of Things?

What are Internet of Things Devices?

How Does the Internet of Things Work?

How do IoT Devices Communicate with Each Other?

What is a Smart Device?

Whilst wireless devices are not new, what is new is the growth, and anticipated growth, in such devices, which is massive and set to explode in the next five or ten years. Many of these devices, which cover all areas of modern life, are being rushed to market, often with inherent security weakness’s as a result.

The Internet of Things is perhaps best understood by the following scenario.

Driving home from work, your car automatically detects that you are approaching home. Your car automatically opens your garage doors, turns on the lighting in your home, turns on the central heating in your home, switches your oven on, starts playing your favourite music that it has taken from your playlists on your smartphone.

As you get into your garage, you see the groceries that have been automatically delivered to your home. This was done buy your refrigerator realising that it had run low on a number of items and had contacted your local grocery store.

The grocery store had updated your normal inventory, automatically debited the money from your bank account and delivered your groceries. To some people, this scenario sounds like a dream, to others like a nightmare.

In any event, the Internet of Things refers to a world Web watch everything is connected wirelessly, with a huge range of privacy and cyber security implications involved. To people who think the above scenario is a kind of fairytale, the reality is that it is happening at the moment.

It is being driven by the major tech companies in the same way that cell phones and smart phones were being driven by phone companies a few years ago.

The range of Internet connected devices and wearables and products is growing at a huge rate, and it is only a matter of time before the Internet of Things, a wirelessly connected world, becomes more of a reality.

INTERNET of THINGS – SMART HOME

The smart home has become the focus of where the Internet of things is seen as developing, see Amazon’s Echo, but is closely followed by the healthcare industry where wireless connection of devices is already gathering significant momentum. Other areas of industry and finance and commerce are moving forward a pace as well.

The issues concerning cyber security are enormous, and the need for some type of cyber insurance staggering. If everything that you own, buy or wear can be connected wirelessly to the Internet, then it can also be theoretically hacked, or have some other way of some type of malware installed in the system.

This means potentially an individuals home is at risk, their car is at risk, their body is at risk if they have something like a pacemaker fitted, their pet is at risk if it is microchiped, as well as all their day-to-day activities being at risk such as banking, shopping etc, especially if being done on a smart phone or mobile device.

The other way that the Internet of things impacts hugely on cyber security is simply that any employee or volunteer will be taking their connected life with them into their place of employment or work, meaning that anything on or about them that is wirelessly connected will then feed into the IT infrastructure of their place of work.

This means that any organisation or businesses IT systems and networks can immediately be exposed to a wide range of wearables and devices that the IT system administrators have no real control over.

This of itself poses significant risks in terms of a data breach, in addition to the unpredictability of whatever wearable or device an individual may unwittingly bring into their place of employment or work.

 

What is an Effective Cyber Security Policy?

Cyber security means different things to different people, and this can be one of the problems in creating a relatively good cyber security protection system within any organisation or business.

Some of the most common questions asked are :

What is  a Cyber Security attack?

What is a Security Network?

What is a Cyber Security Policy?

What is Cyber Crime?

What is  a Cyber Security Engineer?

In a number of organisations, staff employed or think of cyber security as being the realm of the IT guys. To them it means the risks of a network being hacked by someone and stealing data, and it’s down to the IT systems professionals to protect the network through firewalls etc.

Whilst this is certainly a large part of cyber security, the danger in this understanding is that it leaves out the day-to-day activities of people employed within the organisation. These account for the bulk of the activity through networks, and it is day-to-day activity that in many ways poses a much greater risk for many organisations.

This is not so much an issue around complacency, as around getting staff or people working/volunteering in any organisation or business to appreciate the real risks posed by doing any activities online, on any device, at any location.

Any organisation or business will be acutely aware how internet access has changed profoundly over last few years, not only in terms of broadband speeds, but in terms of how people access the internet through smartphones, tablets etc. There is also the strong drive/push by many organisations and government agencies to push people to use the Internet to do their daily chores.

CYBER SECURITY – INTERNET USAGE

It is worth recapping the various areas that people use the Internet for. People employed in any organisation or business likely to use the internet at that place the employment not only for company business, but also for their own day-to-day activities.

This invariably puts the company or organisation at risk of a data breach, and it is important to understand the dangers of this happening.

CYBER SECURITY – EMAIL

Email – email is still used by most people as a primary means of communication, both to work colleagues and to friends/family.

Whilst a company/organisation should have its own anti-virus and anti-malware software installed, there still a danger through unsolicited emails of introducing malware into the network. It is estimated that between 85 and 90% of all email sent is spam.

Surprisingly many people do click on spam links, partly because a huge amount of spam is directed at pharmacy medications and Viagra, which can sometimes be made to look convincingly professional.

The risks of clicking on any type of spam email, or opening any attachment from an unknown source or that it will introduce some type of malware into the organisation’s IT system, with potentially highly damaging effects.

CYBER SECURITY – BANKING and FINANCE

Banking and finance – most of the major banks are increasingly persuading/forcing customers to do their banking online, which again raises real security issues, often through email.

Many of the scams people fall for stem from emails sent to them that purportedly come from their bank, or from their credit card company or organisation such as PayPal.

These scam emails will contain links within them encouraging individual to click on the link and either enter a password or confirm some other details. This type of scam invariably leads to disclosure of critical private information from individual, which usually results in monetary loss and/or the risk of identity theft.

CYBER SECURITY – SOCIAL NETWORKING PROFILES

The other huge area of potential risk is through social networking. People quite happily post a huge amount of private information on social network sites such as Facebook/Twitter/Google + etc, which presents a potential minefield in terms of privacy and identity theft.

The danger is that enough information could be gathered about an employee through that social networking profiles to allow hackers/criminals to gain access to a company’s network through posing as an individual connected to that organisation.

The other main areas of Internet usage tend to relate to areas such as online shopping, online gaming and gambling, downloading and distributing videos and file sharing. Whilst internet usage itself is not primarily dangerous, the issue within an organisation/business is that of cyber security.

All the above activities when carried out within an organisation or business environment can potentially expose the security of the network through unintentional personal carelessness.

The main way to protect the organisation/business against risks outlined above is really through education, and having policies and procedures in place which help staff and volunteers to remember the potential dangers that daily online activities can expose them to.

CYBER SECURITY – PASSWORDS

Changing passwords is a classic example. Every cyber security guide there is encourages people to change their password regularly, but most people don’t. If they do, they change it to something memorable so they don’t forget it.

Changing an attitude or culture within any organisation is difficult, but an area of website security it can be increasingly dangerous or financially damaging not to.

CYBER SECURITY – INTERNET of THINGS

The other huge area of cyber security which is likely to become dominant in the next couple of years is what is referred to as the Internet of Things.

This refers to the ever increasing installation of wireless capable activity into and onto such everything that people own, eat, where, buy or in some other way have about them on their person or in their person in daily life.

The intent is to make people and their daily activities always connected to the Internet. This may take some time to achieve, but is being driven by all the major tech companies and all the major manufacturers.

This means in simple language that everything from clothes to watches, spectacles, shoes, refrigerators, ovens, speakers, televisions, cars, pacemakers, public transportation etc are becoming, or soon will be, wirelessly connected. To some people, this scenario is a dream, to others it is a nightmare.

However it is likely to become a reality of some description within the next few years. It is largely been driven by the belief that the more people are connected wirelessly to their lives, the more goods and services can be sold to them, and the more profitable large manufacturers and tech companies can come.

Whatever the ideological bent about the Internet of Things, perhaps the major issue is cyber security.

If peoples lives are literally connected with the world online, it will expose then and their possessions to extensive cyber security risks, both in terms of hacking and other risks as outlined above, and will require extensive rethinhing about different types of insurance and risk management.

What does Big Data and Predictive Analysis Really Mean ?

One of the problems with understanding Big Data, is that the term itself means different things to different people !

Some of the most common questions asked are :

 – What is Big Data all about?

 – What is the Big Data Market?

 – Why is it important to use Data?

 – What is Strong Data?

 – What si Big Data Used For

There are however two main areas of the term that most people recognise, and in reality cover the present reality. It is important to realize that we are really only just at the beginning of what Big Data means, what the implications are and its relationship to Artificial Intelligence.

The two main areas referred to above are the amount of information posted by and about people online, and the amount of information made available by governments, business’s etc. The scale of the amount of information that is posted online is almost too big to quantify.

What is important to realize is that this type of information, i.e. blog posts, social media posts, videos etc don’t fit into the traditional format of a database, and as such cannot be analysed in the same way. In relation to Big data, this mean new ways have to be found to both store and analyse this information.

In terms of governmental information, Big data is at its simplest just that. Huge amounts of data/information that are produced by governments, businesses and other organisations, some of which is made public, some of which is kept private.

The issues around big data are complex and varied. The primary concerns have to be those of privacy and cyber insurance/cyber security.

The sheer volume of big data, however you may come to define that term, means that a significant number of different people and different networks will be involved in processing and using the information. The privacy issues of big data are significant.

However much the information is anonamized, the implications regarding the data being hacked and personal information on individuals being gathered is significant. Identity theft is a significant cyber insurance and cyber security issue, yet one that remains under the radar for many people.

In most instances, cyber security has at its core the issue of a data breach occurring, and the implications thereof. Given the sheer fact that big data implies a huge increase in the volume of data being processed, both structured and unstructured data, the number of servers and networks involved also going to be significantly increased.

The logic therefore dictates that the risk of cyber security threats that would apply to one network within a company or organisation will be multiplied many times over.

Big Data – Government

Most governments in the West actively encourage the release of big data relating to many areas of government and life generally. This in part is because governments believe it shows an openness in their storage of information, which may be true or not, and because it allows an unprecedented level of predictive analysis of trends and behaviour in society generally.

The US government website has huge amounts of big data available relating to a wide range of areas, listed below.

Agriculture

Climate

Consumer

Ecosystems

Education

Energy

Finance

Health

Local Government

Manufacturing

Maritime

Oceans

Public Safety

Science and research

BIG DATA and BUSINESS

Whether or not many businesses want to get involved with big data, often they do not really have a choice.  It is more an issue of how they analyse and use the data that is flowing through them, both to enhance their business and also to promote their industry.

The issue is really about how to make sense of the huge volumes of data in ways that benefit their company as opposed to being overwhelmed by it.

Predictive Analysis

Predictive analysis is the phrase that has given to the manipulation of data into formats and charts that make sense of the information in a way that is useful. Predictive analysis of the data as to add value to any organisation, government or business.

It has to help them understand potential future trends, both in their underlying business as well as consumer or citizen habits. Predictive Analysis will to a large extent also show likely developments in individuals lifestyles and behaviours, as part of a wider pattern.

Such analysis will inevitably mean more information being gathered from consumers/ordinary people in order that predictive analysis have some meaning. This inevitably raises even more privacy concerns and cyber security threats and need for cyber insurance planning.

BIG DATA and ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The whole area of artificial intelligence is relatively new, but one being heavily invested in by the major tech companies. The aim behind a lot of artificial intelligence research is to allow it to automatically analyse and manipulate the data by itself, without the need for human intervention.

The growth of artificial intelligence and robotics is one that will profound effect on the issue of big data and how it is used. The cyber security implications need to be part of any process of form regarding the storage, usage and predictive analysis of the data by whoever is storing it.

BIG DATA and HADOOP

Hadoop is an open source structure that can be used to store and manipulate sets of big data. Hadoop acts as a system that allows it to monitor clusters of computers to allocate types and amounts of different  jinformation in the most efficient manner possible.

Equifax Hack and Protection

Equifax customers should request a credit freeze from all three major credit bureaus to ensure hackers behind a massive data breach can’t exploit their stolen information, a leading consumer advocacy group said Friday.

The National Consumer Law Center is calling on Equifax to pay for the freezes, which would prevent anyone from seeking a person’s credit information without their authorization.

“It’s the most effective measure against new identity theft when it involves Social Security numbers, dates of birth — the gold mine of information these hackers stole,” said Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney with the law center. “It prevents existing creditors and new creditors from using your information. And it prevents new accounts in your name.”

Equifax, one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus, said Thursday that “criminals” exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year.

The hackers obtained consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. The purloined data can be enough for crooks to hijack victims’ identities, potentially wreaking havoc on their lives. Equifax said its core credit-reporting databases don’t appear to have been breached.

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When Your TV is watching You …….

Users of Samsung’s Smart TV devices have raised concerns over the device’s privacy policy, which seems to suggest that they should not discuss any sensitive topics in their living room while the television is plugged in.

The warning relates to the product line’s voice recognition services, which lets users control their television with voice commands input through a microphone on the set’s remote control.

Samsung privacy policy warns: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of voice recognition.”

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Here we go, Here we go ……

Sex toy maker We-Vibe has agreed to pay customers up to C$10,000 (£6,120) each after shipping a “smart vibrator” which tracked owners’ use without their knowledge.

Following a class-action lawsuit in an Illinois federal court, We-Vibe’s parent company Standard Innovation has been ordered to pay a total of C$4m to owners, with those who used the vibrators associated app entitled to the full amount each. Those who simply bought the vibrator can claim up to $199.

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When Dolls aren’t so Friendly ….

An official German watchdog has told parents to destroy an internet-connected doll because hackers can use it to spy on children.

My Friend Cayla was found to be equipped with an insecure Bluetooth device, which cybercriminals could hijack, in order to steal personal data and listen and talk to the child playing with it.

Germany’s Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) has now warned parents to destroy it, according to the BBC.

The doll answers users’ questions by accessing the web, but also asks for sensitive personal information, such as the user’s name, school, parents’ names and hometown.

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