The pandemic & cybersecurity

26 अगस्त 2020

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There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an outbreak of new and unanticipated business moments. As digital spreads its roots deeper, it also increases the risk and impact of cyberattacks. The World Economic Forum’s COVID-19 Risks Outlook reported that 50% of enterprises were concerned about increased cyberattacks due to a shift in work patterns alone.

A TCS report states that, cybercriminals are using the heightened digital footprint and traffic to track vulnerabilities, or to siphon off money. They are launching Covid-19-themed attacks in the form of phishing emails with malicious attachments that drop malware to disrupt systems or steal data and credentials.

Attackers are creating temporary websites or taking over vulnerable ones to host malicious code. They lure people to these sites and then drop malicious code on their digital devices. Fake websites have also been soliciting donations for daily wage earners through email links. Some Covid-19 patient count-status apps and links are laden with viruses and identity theft malware. Remote working tools such as videoconferencing systems have been hacked for vulnerabilities; recent examples on Zoom are alarming.

In such a scenario, the first step in the right direction for Organisations would be to advise their staff and customers to be more vigilant and cautious especially when opening links, emails or documents related to the subject COVID-19.

Next, organizations should ensure their detection and ing capabilities are functional while keeping an eye on the impact of having many remote workers. There are some interesting solutions available in the market. For eg. KnowBe4 delivers on-demand internet security awareness training to small and midsized enterprises focussing on threats like social engineering, spear-phishing and ransomware.

Cofense provides organizations with the ability to improve their employees’ resilience towards spear phishing, malware and drive-by attacks and further facilitate employee-sourced detection of such attacks.

In India, cybersecurity start-ups like Cloudsek offers real-time information to prevent and monitor cyber threats through its SaaS platform. Another start-up Cyware’s cyber fusion solutions empowers organisations to foster information sharing with their employees mitigating cybersecurity risks.

The pandemic presents an opportunity for full-blown innovation, a dramatic shift in perspective and the adoption of safe and resilient operating processes. The intensity and emphasis an organisation brings to its cybersecurity strategy will determine its long term growth.

Credits : Akhil Handa

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Tech-enabled Hostels

In the current era of technological advancements where there is an app for almost everything, hostel management appears to lag behind in adopting a new innovation. From redundant paperwork to time-consuming manual processes, most of the hostels are still following archaic methods to manage their day to day activities. These old school methods of functioning results in ineffective communication between hostels, its students and parents. 
Some of the hostels or student housing companies are investing in new-age technologies to differentiate themselves by being markedly different from traditional university-led hostel systems. Such technologies include facial recognition security systems, RFID enabled libraries and canteens, attendance systems that both students and parents can access on their smartphones. 
Even though student housing as a market is currently dominated by university-led facilities, it will potentially see a substantial growth with private companies entering the space to plug demand gaps. Real estate consultancy firm JLL estimates the space is expected to see a 38% CAGR amounting to Rs 2,400 crore by 2020. 
Most companies in the space, like OxfordCaps, Stanza Living and Placio have standardised their attendance systems with a professional escalation matrix. They also offer biometric security systems where entry and exit times are recorded. Hostels can set a threshold time, based on which if the student is not in within a certain time, parents get a notification. OxfordCaps is leveraging IoT-connected devices to monitor energy and space consumption, specifically in gyms, reading lounges and TV rooms, where usage usually remains untracked. 
Considering industry average of around 40% for food wastage in hostels in urban centres, various organisations like Stanza Living are using advance analytics to reduce operational costs. With the ability to predict and analyse consumption data, food wastage at Stanza properties have been reduced to less than 10%. 
On the other hand, Placio brings social incentive that is used by ride hailing firms such as Uber and Ola to hostels. It digitally tracks various parameters like student behaviour, general cleanliness, punctuality etc. to reward the better ranked students with online gift vouchers. 
With majority of the students staying at hostels to complete their education, such tech-based offerings not only improve the quality of life but also help them get exposed to advanced technologies like facial recognition, digital gift vouchers etc. 

The Ship Robots

The astounding progression of robotic technologies is playing a key role in the future of all industries. According to International Federation of Robotics (IFR), from 2020 to 2022 almost 2 million new units of industrial robots are expected to be installed in factories around the world. Like many different industries throughout the world, robots are impacting the maritime industry as well.
Take for example, SeaRobotics which has developed a Hull cleaning robot that helps save fuel and improves the efficiency of a ship. Their Hull BUG is a small autonomous vehicle which attaches itself to the underside of ships, using a negative pressure device that creates a vortex between the BUG and the hull. Sensors provide obstacle avoidance, path cleaning and navigational capabilities. A fluorometer lets the robot detect biofilm and then it uses rotary brushes or water-jets to scrub the fouling film off.
In another collaboration, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), has partnered with SEA-KIT to create robotic oil-cleanup vessels
Another solution by SeaDrone, can perform underwater Inspections in lieu of Dry Docking (UWILD). The solution is designed in a way that provides an end-to-end hull inspection solution, inspecting a vessel in 1 hour and creating a certified report that can be quickly shared with the stakeholders.
An alternative use case for robots in the maritime industry is strengthening of anti-piracy measures. ReconRobotics has developed a small, dumbbell-shaped robot that can infiltrate the main deck of a boat for stealth inspections. Magnetic wheels allow it to crawl up the side of a ship onto the deck and manoeuvre around. Cameras enable the operators to see what’s happening in real-time, even during the night, with the help of infrared sensors. The company has recently been awarded a contract by U.S. Navy to develop the Recon Scout XT micro-robot for them.
Promare, a U.K. ocean-research nonprofit, in partnership with IBM will unveil their new, fully autonomous ship - Mayflower on Sept. 16th, across the Atlantic Ocean. This autonomous ship will follow the same route on which the original Mayflower travelled 400 years ago.
The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) is chiefly propelled by solar power, with a diesel generator on board as backup. IBM will power an onboard “AI Captain” with the ship leveraging edge computing for its AI and navigational smarts. All the data processing must be available on the ship because a vessel in the middle of the ocean can’t rely on satellites or cloud connectivity.
As COVID-19 shifts global structures and accelerates innovation, we can easily visualise how robotic technology could help ships continue operating through future pandemics.
Credits : Akhil Handa

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