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The IT Productivity Paradox and how to fight it.

 

"You see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics" - Robert Solow


It doesn't make sense, does it? The fact that even though we live in the most advanced technological breakthrough in the history of mankind, we should see an exponential curve in productivity; but we don't. It has even been argued to be in decline. With the birth of global communication and easily accessed off-the-shelf technology and software that is designed to maximise efficiency, it's hard to believe that this is the case.

But it is. Matt Richel, for the New York Times, writes, “statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused."

He goes on to explain that the big Silicon Valley firms have a monster of their own creation wrecking havoc in the productivity statistics, with employees checking emails up to 77 times a day, with mundane tasks taking up large amounts of time e.g. group emails and attachments. According to Basex, the United States alone loses up to $650bn a year due to unnecessary tasks and delays that could potentially be remedied by more efficient IT systems being implemented.

So what on earth is going on?

The answer is actually remarkably simple and is known as The Productivity Paradox, which has taken countless victims over the years. It is the unusual observation that despite further investment in IT technology to improve productivity, worker efficiency has hardly budged. This is not an anomaly however; the same technology 'paradox' has been seen before in the early 20th century.



Put yourself back to 1881. You work in a dark, humid and hot factory powered by a steam engine. The sound of mechanical machinery is deafening. Labour turnover is at an all time high due to dangerous working conditions and disease. Then, out of nowhere, Thomas Edison arrives to save the day with his brand new electrical motor! You would of thought businesses would of jumped straight onto it, no?

Wrong.

By 1900, less than 5% of factories used electrical power and instead opted for the traditional method. It took until the 1920s, over 40 years, for 50% of factories to use electrical technology. From this, we can see that despite new and exciting technology that could revolutionise the way we think and work, we still hesitate to use it - and for quite some time.

Why? Because change is difficult and stagnation is easy.

We as humans are hardwired to resist and fight change. And so, with such a radical change needed to push through required electrical motor legislation (or in this case, computer technology) and despite us knowing the immediate and long term benefits of adopting a 'new way' to do things, it's still uncomfortable for us because it will completely upend the way we think - which is understandable to an extent.

But in truth, we all need to get over ourselves and take the initiative. We live in a world of easily accessed software that is a click away. Think of it this way - you have a document you need to distribute and get multiple colleagues to append. Would your business send it on Google Documents, with live editing powered by the cloud and automatic saving? Or would your business use the same method that has been around since the 1990's, requiring all users to send you a separate document and for you to compile it all together manually? 

Now ask yourself - which of these solutions is the steam engine and which is the electrical motor?

If your business is using the steam engine, telanova is at hand to help you join the IT Revolution. 

Would you trust a HTTPs verified site?

Oh, you think you're so safe with your little green padlocks, huh?

Think again. PhishLabs have recently published research where they have found a staggering 24% of phishing sites use HTTPS, an otherwise well known protocol that used to establish trust and privacy of using a site.

Over the years, we have seen a massive push towards encryption of everyday services. Browsers now display a warning for sites that aren't encrypted and half the web now uses standard encryption for their websites. So why fight the competition when you can just join them?

How many times have you visited a website and trusted inputting your sensitive financial data just because your browser says its safe? It's time for that behaviour to change!

How to stay safe online

Create complex passwords. Yes, I know, you've heard it all before. But the reason you've heard this before because it is the forefront of security, and arguably the most important part. Having a strong password (e.g. complex, numbers, capitals, special characters) can save you from a world of trouble.

Be overly cautious. If its too good to be true, it probably is. Don't enter or give any information to anyone unless you can authenticate who they are. And, for whatever reason, don't click random links on the internet.

Look into active web protection. In a day and age of increasing number of cyber attacks, we also fortunately have an increasing number of methods to protect ourselves. Look into installing some form of active web protection that blocks possible malicious websites e.g. McAfee

 

Your teams are being targeted

Sharks circling targeting users

Like spearing fish in a barrel.

The sharks are circling.

Advances in technology have seen great benefits to humankind as a whole. Each step forward for mankind, sees an additional step forward for the criminal underground.

Machine learning is becoming more wide spread. If your company uses Adwords, you may well be using their own machine learning on which of your adverts performs better based on the demographic and information of the person they display the advert to.

In the past many of us will have received an email purporting to be from a bank or parcel carrier that we’ve never used. You may well have become accustomed to saying to yourself, but I don’t have a Western Union account etc.

What now if the machine learning was reading your public social media, of you and your friends and tailoring the email or social post to match what you wanted to see. Imagine if you suddenly saw a post on your social feed that said
yourname
I know you went to insert place last year and I wondered if you’d seen these photos of the place insert sample image ,
catch up soon
insert a name of a friend

  • How closely would you look at the poster's signature
  • Would you click and check out the photos ?
  • What if it said update your Adobe Reader / Gallery Pack software when you did ?
  • Did it all seem legit ?
  • What if on the gallery page you visit theirs more social engineering, such as donate to just giving page ?
  • What would your employees and friends do ?

In research published this month shows that by using machine learning to facilitate socially engineered phishing campaigns they are achieving a 5-14% better rate of return.

  • How does a 5-14% higher chance of breach fare with your company?
  • When and how did you last assess your risk of attack?
  • What action have you taken to reduce that risk ?
  • Are you ready for the onslaught ?
  • What actions have you already taken to upskill your employees?
  • What packages are there that can assist you ?

Stealthy Trojans need the 'door bouncer' treatment on your network.

No, this isn't a blog post on Brad Pitt. 

I'm hopeful you've heard of the mythical story of the Trojan Horse? Where, in 1194 BC, the Trojans built a gigantic wooden horse that was disguised as a gift and left it outside the City of Troy's gates. The people of Troy celebrated the peace offering and took the horse inside its impregnable walls. Little did they know, the horse was full of Trojan's best warriors - and at night, they jumped out; opening the gates to the Trojan army where they plundered and razed the city.

The same ruse is now being used to enter our networks and steal our sensitive data. All it takes is a user to open or download a link sent from a malicious email that is disguised as secure and safe. A study in 2011 showed that a 69.9% of all malware attacks are Trojans.

Once downloaded or opened, the malware infects your network or local computer. Attackers can then steal data such as credit cards, financial information, email accounts, passwords and emails, and even send thousands of emails to clients from your own email with the same link or file, creating a snowball effect that is hard to stop. Whatever is saved or used on your network is at risk.

It's a network's Achilles heel.

Thankfully, whilst Trojans are getting sneakier and craftier as technology gets more complex and advanced, so do the deterrents and prevention we can put in place. These prevention's act the same way as a bouncer at a club; checking ID's and making sure no unwanted visitors get in.

That's what Telanova is; a bouncer. We monitor remotely and seamlessly in the background, allowing you to get on with the important work at hand without having to worry and lose sleep over network security issues. Contact us to find out how we can protect your network's city walls from attacks.

Just when you thought it was safe to go online

Facenet and dating of the future

Sometimes there are times when you read something that makes you consider the future in a very poor light. Having this particular program made publically available at this early stage of development is also a cause for concern of how skewed the world will become in the near future.

Many people will have by now at sometime in their adult life joined , have a close friend or family member that has experienced one of the online dating services. The services generally rely heavily on the basis of instant attraction. In many, you are presented with a visual of the person before any details of the personality are supplied to the browser. Again on the visual impact, the browser can choose to like / skip etc.

Think now to the newly released python script, from Charles F. Jekel and Raphael T. Haftka of the University of Florida [arXiv:1803.04347 [cs.CV]], that based on just 20 of your likes is able to build a generic facial representation, which when applied to further images has an accuracy of 60% of knowing if you will like that image.

Once trained on 406 profiles, where each like represented a different classifier, it was over 70% accurate. Being one of the first algorithms in the area, accuracy is likely to improve over time. The question being then is where will this lead ?

Will you be able to take your liking profile from one supplier and use them with another. The reality of how oddly familiar this all seems, think about where else your liking data is used for marketing. Marketing teams will see the usefulness of this data being collected. Will the privacy agreement you’ve signed protect you liking data. The company you use could use that data for their own purposes as long as it is in their privacy agreement.

Fast forward a few years, and every website you visit could be presented by a computer generated personna that is facially configured to match your dream person. How could you resist not purchasing 63 pallets of widgets that you really don’t need just because you want to please them.

During the rise of computers we were wowed by the amazing graphics and realism that slowly grew as processors became more powerful. Soon the realism will not be realism but a distortion of reality based on our dreams and desires.

Back in reality however, it may just be time to think twice about how you let companies use your data, not all of your data is input by you on a clearly laid out form. Your data is how you navigate, how you interact, how you choose, what you look at. Under GDPR companies must release all your data they collect about you to you, and must tell you how they are processing it.

For more information about the FaceNet script see https://github.com/cjekel/tindetheus/ * arXiv:1803.04347 [cs.CV]

For more information about GDPR email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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