The risk of cyber-attacks – a question of good management

In size, cyber-attacks in 2013 eclipsed previous peaks by over 200% and the number of large attacks increased multifold. 2014 too has been a year of cyber-attacks, with new and increasingly large attacks happening on a daily basis. We’ve seen Bitstamp, one of the world’s largest Bitcoin exchanges fall victim to a Denial of Service (DoS) attack that halted trading, and a website in France was hit with the worst Distributed Dos (DDoS) attack the world has ever seen, reaching at least 325Gbps.

Spear phishing, ransomware, insider threats and mobile malware are just a number of the different kind of cyber-threats we are facing, and attacks of this kind are not likely to stop any time soon. Cyber-criminals are constantly improving their methods, coming up with new attacks and with the amount of data entering the digital world constantly increasing, there is huge incentive for these attacks to continue. This means that security professionals and organisations need to constantly improve their methods as well – no matter how secure your business, you must never stand still.

Due to cyber-attacks becoming ever stronger and sophisticated, it is unlikely there will ever be a platform that is completely safe from these attacks. There will be no final answer in the dialogue between cyber-attacks and cyber-security, making our business a matter of effective and ongoing risk management. Below, we’ve identified four essential steps in order to help companies achieve effective risk management.

  1. Identify and prioritise crucial assets – It is important to know your environment and what systems or applications are crucial to the functioning of your business.
  2. Understand current and emerging threats – You need to know what is happening in the world of technology and cyber-threats and how this affect might your business.
  3. Apply defensive techniques, or mitigate the risk – Preventing cyber-attacks is near on impossible, but the key is to know about emerging attacks and to pick up on an attack as soon as possible. This will help you to adapt and respond quickly and effectively. Big data and analytics have a big role to play, as they have this technology has the power and ability to monitor systems for anomalies and alert the user. This kind of monitoring requires investment of course, but there is no denying how worthwhile this would be and much this could improve our defenses against cyber-crime. To mitigate risk, aim to ensure additional protection where there is increased vulnerability in your system.
  4. Monitor and adjust – Keep moving and never stand still. Monitor your systems, see what works and what doesn’t and try to stay one step ahead.

In short, cyber-attacks aren’t going anywhere and there will be no perfect solution to them any time soon. But, by investing in the right tools and analytics, businesses can equip themselves with the necessary means to effectively manage the risk, responding quickly to anomalies and carrying out the appropriate action quickly and efficiently. The key is to keep developing; cyber never sleeps, and neither should we.

EMC at Cloud Expo 2014

Business Exhibition

Cloud Expo Europe is taking place from the 26th to the 27th of February at ExCel London and EMC will be present as diamond sponsors. There will be a number of specialist speakers and we wanted to highlight two.

The business track keynote will be from David Trigg (VP & GM, EMC Cloud Service Provider) and will be on ‘Putting IT in Control of Choice’. This will take place on Wednesday 26th of February at 15:05.

On the technology track Alfredo Nulli (EMEA CTO, Cloud Service Provider) will be giving a keynote on ‘The Cloud Ready Technology Evolution’. This will take place on Thursday 27th of February at 12:35.

David and Alfredo will be able to outline EMC’s vision of a “well run hybrid cloud” – and share their insights on the valuable role Cloud Service Providers can play as well as what this means for partners and businesses.

The EMC booth will hold a tweetup after keynote sessions from David Trigg, Alfredo Nulli, Mauro Bonfanti and John Harcourt. There will also be “ask the expert” sessions on Wednesday covering big data analytics, ScaleIO & XtremeIO, XaaS: EMC Powered and other topics.

If you’d like to visit us on the day we’ll be at stand 1025 and 1092, close to the cloud management, services and applications theatre.

For more detail on EMC at Cloud Expo Europe you can visit the EMC Community blog.

Mind the gap: more delays for NHS data plans

It’s disappointing that the NHS central database has been delayed by six months, but it’s certainly not surprising. It’s a shame as much of the hard work in creating a digital NHS has already been delivered, which is why I hope that the delay is only a temporary measure. It’s easy to forget that our current healthcare system is, historically speaking, still in its infancy. For most our hospitals are seen as the absolute centre of healing and whilst that is vital to maintain, perhaps overall healthcare needs to adopt a more progressive approach and look beyond the operating theatres and patient wards to additional interested and highly capable parties. Crucially, the health service now has the opportunity to drive better patient care and greater efficiencies, through the application of technology and the data insights afforded by it.

Although it’s a non-trivial task to securely and efficiently move to a paperless model and share patient’s data digitally, it’s a step which has already been conquered by many in the health sector and one which is manageable when tackled with the support from decision makers across any health organisation or NHS Trust. We agree that patients need to be informed and given the opportunity to opt out, but technology can enable this process much more easily than before, as part of the NHS digital transformation.

It’s no small undertaking for every NHS Trust and partner in the UK to move to a paperless model to enable this central database, but we would stress that the step is not the impossible task considered only a few years ago. Technology has taken huge leaps forward and has the ability to support a stronger health service in the UK. Ultimately the future of healthcare will require that the right people get to see the patient’s data, with their consent, and provide the appropriate care based on a full understanding of the patient’s history. This in turn can drive real change in how we are able to predict and tackle health problems across the population, particularly around chronic diseases. With this collaboration of data and population buy-in, we will be well poised to drive an efficient and effective health service in the UK and we look forward to the next step in this development, now planned for the Autumn.

Stuart Nyemecz, district manager, regional public sector at EMC

Big ideas: New leaders for a changing market

Over the last few weeks, we’ve had news of a lot of changes within the leadership of some major brands. At the end of January, it was announced that Justin King, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s will be stepping down in July, after 10 years as head of the company. This month Microsoft announced Satya Nadella, a veteran insider and previous head of the company’s cloud computing division and enterprise business, will take over from CEO Steve Ballmer. It isn’t unexpected that in a time when companies have to contend with a very real and immediate sense of market disruption, that these management changes receive intense scrutiny as businesses look to safeguard their future.

Even the leadership of the mighty Apple continues to be under the microscope. Tim Cook, despite presiding over some spectacularly successful sales since he took the reins from Steve Jobs, continues to be subject to criticism as the market expects more from the business and looks to the leadership to facilitate further innovation. So much so that Forbes published a column last month, asking if he would be the next ‘Steve Ballmer.’

Whether through regulation, market consolidation and/or new technology, businesses are being forced to undergo substantial change in order to keep or grow their market position and often new leaders are pushed to the helm to help overcome these disruptions and deliver a new era of profitability and growth.

Leaders have a key role in enabling and informing the strategy of innovation. Unless a business can innovate then it risks becoming obsolete. Just look at BlackBerry’s swift decline, which was reportedly down to infighting at its executive level that ultimately prevented it from being competitive.

Microsoft has placed a bet on the cloud and mobile markets, explaining that conquering them remains critical to its future success. The company will now need to try and find its identity and manage wholesale change as the markets it dominated historically, such as the personal computing market, decline or vanish. Microsoft is only just beginning to tackle this challenge in its consumer business, with limited reports of its success.

Similarly, when his time comes, Mike Coupe, who is set to take over from Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King in July, has a tough market to battle in. In his 10 years, King has delivered unprecedented growth through a period of intensifying and aggressive competition in the retail sector. As one of the most vocal proponents of big data and analytics, King credits the Nectar programme with delivering much of Sainsbury’s competitive edge and in delivering sustained margins in an industry famous for discounting.

Although well placed to do so, Coupe will need to build on this in the years ahead as he takes the top job. As I outlined in my joint paper with Joe Peppard of the Cranfield School of Management, all CEOs need to harness the potential of data to drive their decision-making and spearhead a path for growth. And, in equal measure, Sainsbury’s will need to continue to invest in its customer experience online and in-store, drawing on the wealth of insight available to it via the Nectar programme and beyond.

Facing change in established markets can take significant courage: as technologies like smartphones start to redefine human behaviour around everyday things, from shopping to routefinding, businesses may find themselves needing to completely redefine their operating model. As part of a report I authored recently, called ‘EMC Leader 2020’, I commissioned research to explore the attitudes of UK business leaders to change, risk, technology and innovation. It found that some two thirds of CxOs at large companies in the UK say they are experiencing disruption in their markets right now. 85% are ready to embrace change but, somewhat worryingly, over half of them find change difficult to handle. In the UK, we’ll need to get better at this if we are to maintain our global competitiveness.

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So how can we discover these next great innovations? And how do you capitalise on it? Well, my first prescription would be decisiveness. Almost all of CxOs surveyed for my report said their teams were sometimes unable to take decisions due to information overload and a focus on consensus. Cutting through this syndrome, often referred to as analysis paralysis, is a crucial first step to delivering innovation.

Secondly, I believe the CEOs role should be that of a sponsor and champion of innovation, rather than necessarily being the innovator-in-chief. That means fostering an adaptive culture that is open to change, and persuading all staff that experimentation should be part of their role, then exercising good judgement when picking which ideas to develop. It’s an approach that requires driving, nurturing and encouraging innovation across all levels of the business.

In the UK, it’s crucial that we do everything we can to achieve this. PwC’s recent Breakthrough Innovation and Growth paper showed that British companies think innovation is much less important than most countries in the world, in particular China and Germany. The same paper showed that the most innovative 20% of companies grow an average of 50% faster that the least innovative – which does a lot to illustrate the impact that an innovative culture can have on the bottom line.

James Petter, Vice President and Country Manager, UK and Ireland, EMC

Prince’s Trust and EMC Leadership Dinner Raises over £507,000

46023_814494615242745_1454036748_nLast month The Prince’s Trust and EMC hosted a leadership dinner at The Royal Courts of Justice to raise money for the charity. Across a range of auction prizes from a Transatlantic crossing on board Queen Mary 2 and artwork from Ben Mosley, the event raised an incredible £507,000. The auction was hosted by newsreader Katie Derham, along with speeches from HRH The Prince of Wales and Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, and was attended by the UK’s business leaders.

Our UK MD James Petter describes how, “In the five years that we have been working with the Prince’s Trust, I have continuously been astounded by the positive impact that this organisation has made on young people all across the country. I am proud of what we across the Technology Leadership Group have achieved so far. With one in five young people looking for work there has never been a more important time to provide them with support. This community is making a significant impact on the lives of thousands of young people across the UK and this evening’s fundraising has been a further opportunity to show our support.”

In October, EMC announced that we have become a Gold Patron of the charity and have been working on a number of initiatives over the past six months to support their efforts. EMC became a Silver Patron of The Prince’s Trust in 2010 and has been a member of The Trust’s Technology Leadership Group for a number of years. You can find out more about our fundraising efforts on our Facebook page, along with viewing pictures of our super hero themed events from 2013.

To find out more about The Prince’s Trust and its patrons, visit the site.