Ethio Telecom launches electronic payment services

Ethio Telecom launches electronic payment services

Ethio Telecom launches electronic payment. (Image source: Google/

Ethiopia’s sole telecommunication provider, Ethio Telecom has announced the launch of payment services for prepaid mobile recharging. The service allows customers to recharge their mobile airtime online. The new system has been made available to customers across the telecom’s 214 service centres, while the existing manual payment system will remain functional.

The electronic payment system is expected to alleviate the shortage of scratch card vouchers and reduce forex costs for their procurement, according to Abdurahim Ahmed, corporate communications manager of Ethio Telecom.

The new system helps to address shortage of recharge cards as well as to reduce foreign exchange spent to print cards abroad, said Ahemd.

Customers have so far been using manual recharging system. They recharge their mobile phone by scratching the hidden numbers on 5, 10, 25 and 100 birr recharge cards.

Ahemd said the manual system will continue side by side with the electronic one.

This service will be accessible in around 3,000 of the telecom’s service distributors in a few months. The state-owned Ethio telecom, which operates in one of Africa’s few non-liberalised telecom markets, it has 58 million mobile subscribers.

In September 2017, Ethio Telecom launched a system that prohibited individuals from getting more than five SIM cards under their name in a bid to prevent theft and crimes in the telecom industry.

Ethio telecom’s Ahmed said that the system helped the company to control fraud in the mobile telecom service.

Ahmed further said that as part of the efforts to prevent crimes; the company is using only its shops and legal agents to sell SIM cards through electronics payment system.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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How startups can cash-in on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

How startups can cash-in on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business.

Provided that SMEs prepare ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is an opportunity to leverage off the global hype, where some simple alignment to the theme can result in big benefit without much investment into promotion.

In the midst of low consumer and business confidence, tapping into the opportunities presented by these two days could contribute significantly to boosting the cashflow of SMEs.

“To benefit from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two big focus points would be the thinking around what the business will offer to customers and how it will promote the offerings ahead of the days. This allows customers to plan their purchases ahead of time, which also ensures traffic for the SME,” says Jesse Weinberg, Head of the SME Customer Segment at FNB Business.

Weinberg provides useful tips for small businesses to help SMEs take full advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday:

· Use social media – Businesses should make full use of social media as a tool to support their offers on these days. A powerful tactic seen recently is for businesses to actually ask customers what they might like to see as a special offering by the businesses to assess the potential demand from the market.

· Gauge customer appetite – A simple poll survey offers great insights into what customers want. The real trick for business on these two days is to ensure that the special deals on offer will actually be desired by customers, especially if the business plans on taking-on extra stock in for these specials.

· Pre-promotion of specials – Another powerful example of using social media would be to communicate the specials that you plan on running on these days to create sufficient awareness and demand by persuading customers to plan their wish lists, with the idea that the special the business wants to run will be on their list.

· Stock management – Businesses should avoid over-buying with the hopes of profiting from the additional demand. Getting in touch with customers may help the business buy the most desirable stock to ensure it sells.

“SME’s should take full advantage of special global trade days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday – it’s like being able to plug your specials into someone else’s marketing campaign for no extra charge,” concludes Weinberg.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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MEST launches incubator spaces in Lagos and Cape Town

MEST launches incubator spaces in Lagos and Cape Town

MEST launches incubator spaces in Lagos and Cape Town.

On Tuesday 21 November 2017 Pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, and incubator MEST announced the launch of two new Incubator spaces in Lagos, Nigeria, and Cape Town, South Africa, as the program continues to expand its presence across the continent. The spaces will join the flagship headquartered in Accra, Ghana, as part of a growing Pan-African network of MEST Incubators.

MEST Incubators in Lagos and Cape Town will act as an extension of the Accra community, offering entrepreneurs the same support, skilled staff, mentorship, network and resources enjoyed in Ghana, as well as a number of curated events in an effort to bring together the African tech community – catering to everyone from startup founders and teams, to investors and corporate executives.

As well, the spaces will add a new pillar to the MEST offering: co-working. Core pillars of MEST include a 1-year technology training program in Ghana for African entrepreneurs, followed by potential seed funding and incubation for MEST portfolio companies in Pan-African incubator spaces. The new co-working offering will invite local entrepreneurs to apply to join the MEST Incubator space as well, opening the community up to startups who did not graduate from the MEST training program.

Members of the MEST Incubator will find hot desks and private office packages in each location, joining a curated, Pan-African community of entrepreneurs and innovators working in technology, venture capital, digital and media, with the goal of bringing together the brightest minds in each field.

Following a soft launch during Lagos Startup Week, the MEST Incubator Lagos, led by General Manager Neku Atawodi-Edun and located at 19b Adeyemi Lawson, Ikoyi, will officially open on 21st November.

“With its 9-year track record in Ghana, we are glad to finally see MEST expand their footprint into Nigeria,” said Lagos State Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr. Tunde Durosinmi-Etti, on the launch. “This new incubator in Nigeria’s economic centre, Lagos, is a strategic move towards partnering with the state government in changing the future economy of the state through its support for new businesses, empowering millennials and providing more jobs.”

The MEST Incubator Cape Town will launch in the former Cape Town Garage, located in Woodstock Exchange on Albert Road, taking over the space and welcoming the existing community. Official launch to be celebrated on Thursday, 23rd November.

“As a South Africa-based VC, we’re thrilled about MEST’s South African expansion,” said Andrea Böhmert, Partner & Co-Founder, Knife Capital. “MEST has a unique offering that combines capacity-building with access to funding and a global network, in an effort to create globally successful entrepreneurs. Their presence will certainly add to the dynamic startup community in Cape Town and further fuel growth on the continent.”

MEST Managing Director Aaron Fu notes, “We’re extremely excited to enter the Nigerian and South African markets with the launch of our new incubator spaces. Lagos and Cape Town are home to an enormous amount of ambitious tech talent with massive potential. We also look forward to welcoming companies from the larger local community to join our Pan-African network of like-minded entrepreneurs.” Fu recently joined the MEST team as Managing Director, from and Metta, both central players in the Kenyan tech eco-system.

MEST entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local and global markets, received outside follow-on funding from global investors, and have gained admittance to top accelerator programs such as Y-Combinator, 500 Startups and TechStars. MEST entrepreneurs have also been selected by President Obama as representatives of the African business community at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. and have been named Mandela Washington Fellows, a flagship program of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Corporate strategic partners include Samsung, Vodafone and Facebook’s—all of which have a shared interest in bolstering the emerging tech ecosystem in Africa as means to economic growth.

Edited by Dean Workman
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Ransomware is here to stay – can your data say the same?

Ransomware is here to stay – can your data say the same?

Mike Rees, Territory Account Manager for SA at Commvault.

Ransomware looks set to stay, and more variants are emerging every week to wreak havoc on enterprises and individuals alike. As the vicious malware grows increasingly sophisticated and prevalent – even being offered as a service on the dark web – so, too, will organisations continue be attacked and their data will be at risk.

Ransomware, a form of malware that holds a business’s or individual’s data to ransom, can cost hundreds of thousands of rands in ‘ransom’ in order for the data to be made available again. In worse case scenarios – such as with NotPetya, where financial gain appeared to not be the primary objective – data is permanently lost, costing even more in terms of repetitional damage and loss of valuable information. Businesses can no longer afford to take a traditional approach to data security. They have to start developing creative ways to ensure the safety of their company, its data and its people.

How protected are you?
Many organisations assume that if they have network security tools, such as a firewall, in place, that they are adequately protected against ransomware. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While it is necessary to have network and data security tools in place, these are not fully effective unless they are tested and updated frequently.

Updates ought to be implemented within a business as soon as they are released, and not only in reaction to the latest newsworthy ransomware outbreak. Understandably, installing patches and updates as they are made available isn’t always practical as, typically, operations need to be ceased while these are installed. The concern with scheduling change control to install patches is that organisations are left vulnerable in the time between the patch release and its implementation. This can sometimes take as long as a week, or even more, depending on a business’s change control frequency.

Businesses need to think creatively to install patches as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to daily business. Whether this means staggering the install across the business, scheduling more frequent change control sessions at the least disruptive times, or leveraging sophisticated technology which enables the automatic installation of patches while the business is fully operational, the fact remains that the faster that a business implements an update, the safer they will be.

Automated updates that run in parallel with an organisation’s operations are ideal, but can be expensive. Businesses need to consider what they are willing to spend to keep their data safe, including weighing up what risks they are and are not willing to accept, and adapt their data protection strategy to this.

Why a data security policy matters
Even the most up to date systems, however, are rendered ineffective if they are not tested regularly to ensure that they work as they should. A proper data security policy needs to be implemented which enforces the regular testing of all security tools, measures, procedures and practices. Before compiling a policy, however, businesses need to understand the flow of their data.

Part of any good data security policy is the ability to carry out the necessary procedures when a threat occurs. This is a three-pronged approach. Firstly, the business needs to understand the business’s data flow, to help identify precisely where data is located within a business and to isolate that data when a breach occurs.

Then, the business needs to be able to react quickly and reliably in response to any threat, in order to protect their data. There are tools available which help to identify threats and automatically isolate them, while also encrypting data and storing it centrally to achieve faster data restorations. Automatic multiple backups allow an organisation to go back to a specific point in time to retrieve any data lost, so as to achieve the best possible sameness as prior to the threat. Having a single tool which covers all of this reduces the complexity and helps to more easily manage data flow, data security and data restoration

Lastly, everyone within the business needs to be aware of what steps to follow to protect their data proactively and reactively, and what the consequences are if they do not follow these protocols. When individuals understand the importance of their data, and the requirements for protecting that data, they are better able to do so. This, in fact, may be one of the most important aspects of creating a data security policy – if everyone follows the right steps to protect themselves and the company, risks are drastically reduced.

The reality is that data, today, is a business’s most valuable asset. Boldly speaking, when it comes down to it, every other aspect of a business can be replaced, from the building to its infrastructure to its very staff. Data is irreplaceable, and cybercriminals are cashing in on this weak point. Businesses must be prepared.

By Mike Rees, Territory Account Manager for South Africa, Commvault

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South Africa: Makro buys WumDrop

South Africa: Makro buys WumDrop

South Africa: Makro buys last mile delivery startup WumDrop (Source:)

On Tuesday 21 November, Makro, a cash and carry chain store in South Africa, announced that it has acquired a majority stake in South African last mile delivery startup WumDrop. The company believes that the move will allow it to speed up delivery of orders to customers.

WumDrop is available in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban. The service allows users to request the pickup and dropoff of packages via their phones, allowing for a new and convenient way to receive deliveries.

With the acquisition of WumDrop, Makro will now be able to drastically reduce the time it takes for customers to receive their delivery. The window between customer order placement and delivery will be cut from three days to three hours for customers located within 20 kilometres of a Makro store.

WumDrop said the deal will also cement its ability to offer lower and simpler, flat prices across the board, the benefit of which will be passed on to new and existing WumDrop customers, which include The Foschini Group, BOTTLES, Standard Bank, and Zando.

Makro has already rolled WumDrop out to 16 stores in Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria, and Johannesburg, and says the initial results are pleasing.

“WumDrop just works. Their tech is extremely flexible and solid, allowing integration with any retailer big or small, and after extensive testing it was apparent to us that their solution provided the kind of transparency, speed and flexibility for our customers that we just couldn’t say no to,” said Dean Bauer, Makro supply chain director.

“We are incredibly excited to work so closely with a business like Makro, which backs our mission to eradicate the anxiety one normally experiences while waiting for a delivery; that your delivery guy might or might not get to you at some point in the giant window between 9am and 5pm,” WumDrop founder Simon Hartley said.

Edited by Dean Workman
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What can South Africans expect this Black Friday?

What can South Africans expect this Black Friday?

What South Africans can expect this Black Friday?

We’ve all heard the stories about Black Friday in the US – all the latest goods at crazy low prices – but are South Africans experiencing the biggest day on the shopping calendar in the same way? Kevin Tucker, Founder and CEO of PriceCheck, an African comparison and discovery service, says there’s no doubt about it.

The shopping craze was introduced to South Africa a few years ago by PriceCheck and a few other intrepid online retailers, and has since grown significantly. It’s been reported that sales on Black Friday tripled from 2015 to 2016 and despite a gloomy economy, this stellar growth is set to continue.

In an attempt to figure out just how big Black Friday will be in South Africa this year, PriceCheck took to the streets of Cape Town to better understand the expectations of consumers. Some predicted discounts of 25% while others are expecting 50% off, but most are hoping that the local retailers will join the ranks of the original US sale and mark merchandise down by a whopping 70 – 80%.

This year, masses of retailers – from grocers like Checkers and Pick ‘n Pay to clothing stores like H&M, Superbalist and Spree to general online merchandisers like Takealot and Loot – will be offering their stock at super-low prices. Even travel agents have discounted flights and travel packages, so there really is something out there to benefit everyone, and deals from most of these retailers can be found on PriceCheck.

Downsides to the day include the physical queues in-store, and the bunfights that often ensue when products are limited. In the US, serious fights have broken out amongst customers, with Black Friday fight compilations filling YouTube feeds for days thereafter. Most squabbles over Black Friday bargains tend to be over higher value items, such as TVs and game consoles, but last year a grabbing frenzy erupted at Walmart when shoppers fought tooth and nail for towels. Luckily, the worst that can happen when shopping online is that the website crashes.

“This is very exciting for retail – South Africans are more invested in Black Friday than ever before – with savings we all welcome in these tough times,” concludes Tucker.

By Kevin Tucker, Founder and CEO of PriceCheck

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Cybersecurity is everyone’s business

Cybersecurity is everyone’s business

Cybersecurity is everyone’s business.

The future of work very much revolves around the future of security. New ways of working offer exciting opportunities to boost employee productivity, creativity, and engagement, but they can’t come at the expense of security. The workforce in today’s businesses is predominantly young, and according to a Citrix commissioned study carried out by Opinium in 2016, younger people aged 18 – 34 are more willing to store private data on their computers when compared to their older counterparts.

Led by this younger generation in the workspace, the practices that are already shaping the future of work like —BYOD, unprecedented mobility, any-network access, employee-centric experiences, have the potential of increasing risk for data, applications and networks. The attack surface has never been so broad or so inviting—and threats have never been more sophisticated. At a time when data is both more valuable and more vulnerable than ever, how will we secure the future of work? As a guiding principle, we can’t rely on add-on security technologies and teams operating in siloes.

Security must be woven throughout both the IT architecture and the organisation to ensure that no matter how or where people work, the organisation is protected. At the same time, the measures we rely on can’t be allowed to impair the user’s experience or productivity. Today’s workforce won’t accept arbitrary restrictions or barriers; the same creative spirit that fuels innovation will also lead them to seek consumer-market workarounds.

The key is to make cybersecurity everyone’s business. When employees are fully bought into security—when they understand its importance and relevance, and they’re empowered to support it without sacrificing their own work, your security team becomes truly organisation-wide.

To that end, here are six security best practices for the future of work.

1. Educate users: User education has been a tenet of cybersecurity since the early days. But that makes it all the more important to reinforce its importance, so that we never overlook it or take it for granted. As people gain the freedom to work anywhere, on any device, knowing how to do so safely must be a top priority. In the employee-centric modern workplace, it’s also important to consider how this education takes place. It’s not enough simply to recite lists of rules and protocols.

2. Engage with lines of business: Security doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The most effective policies are grounded in a firm knowledge of operational processes. Regular meetings with business decision-makers helps employees understands the implications of new initiatives. It also helps get crucial perspective into the tools, workflows and practices that enable to drive value, helping design measures that maintain protection and control without getting in the way of business.

4. Modernise and mobilise your security policies: Mobility increasingly defines IT—in terms of both the mobile devices people use, and the constant movement of people, devices and data from one place to another. Ensuring security policies reflect the real world—not some antiseptic, locked-down cybersecurity dream (and employee nightmare). Creating clear rules and guidelines to help employees stay safe without losing the freedom and flexibility they’ve come to rely on. Specify convenient yet secure alternatives to consumer-grade technologies.

5. Enforce policies fairly and consistently: Inconsistent enforcement can doom even the best security policy—and can undermine the credibility of any subsequent policy. When security becomes part of the culture, the whole organisation becomes safer for the long term no matter what the future brings.

6. Make it seamless—and automatic: The less you have to rely on human intervention, the more reliable security becomes. This can include everything from conditional access controls that show employees only the apps they’re authorised to use in a given scenario, to business data encryption by default on mobile devices. Open-in controls can prevent email attachments from opening in non-corporate apps. Micro-VPN can ensure security over public Wi-Fi. Automated logging and reporting can facilitate compliance and audit readiness.

There are many opportunities to make security more seamless and transparent for users, and simpler and more efficient for IT to maintain. As the scale and complexity of the enterprise environment continues to grow, steps like these will be critical to stay one step ahead. The future of work gets a lot of buzz these days, and rightly so—it gets more exciting by the day. With these best practices, you can make sure it’s also growing more secure by the day.

By Brendan McAravey, Country Manager at Citrix South Africa

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Samsung address IoT data security with new solution

Samsung address IoT data security with new solution

Samsung address IoT data security with new solution.

On Tuesday 21 November 2017 Samsung Electronics, a producer of semiconductor technology, announced the launch of its integrated Secure Element (SE) solution for Internet of Things (IoT) applications that offers a turn-key service for both hardware and software needs.

As the benefits of IoT devices grow, so does the importance of security throughout the network that spans from cloud, servers and hubs to the individual connected devices. With both hardware and software support for the security requirements in today’s IoT devices, Samsung believes it’s SE solution will help chip manufacturers to easily employ reliable security features, and bring innovative products and services to market faster.

At the hardware level, Samsung’s SE will stop and reset itself the moment it detects abnormal activity, thus protecting the sensitive data stored within the security integrated circuit (IC). The SE adopts embedded flash (eFlash) for the first time in the industry at the 45-nanometer (nm) process node, which brings faster data processing and more flexible software modifications compared to traditional electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROMs).

Samsung’s dedicated software for the SE supports various tasks such as personal verification, security key storage, and encoding and decoding. It also allows key and authentication information to be safely transferred between devices, servers and clouds.

“Securing personal information stored on electronic devices and in the cloud, is a top priority,” said Rui Brits, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Samsung South Africa. “Samsung’s Secure Element solution is another demonstration of our advanced security technology that has been proven through mobile application processors (AP), smart card ICs and other semiconductor products. We believe that applications for Samsung’s SE solution will continue to diversify, along with the vastly expanding IoT industry.”

Edited by Dean Workman
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Dell EMC launches new machine and deep learning solutions

Dell EMC launches new machine and deep learning solutions

Dell EMC launches new machine and deep learning solutions.

On Tuesday, 22 November 2017, Dell EMC announced the launch of its new machine learning and deep learning solutions, which according to the company is in line with it continuing its work to bring high-performance computing (HPC) and data analytics capabilities to mainstream enterprises worldwide.

Dell EMC believes that this enables organisations to take advantage of the convergence of HPC and data analytics and realise advancements in areas including fraud detection, image processing, financial investment analysis and personalised medicine.

According to the company, these new innovations represent the next step in the company’s focus on democratising HPC, optimising data analytics with artificial intelligence (AI) technology innovations, and advancing both the HPC and AI communities.

While AI techniques, such as machine learning and deep learning, being rapidly being deployed by many organisations across several industries, only a small number possess the expertise to design, deploy and manage such systems to use them effectively for rapidly gaining new insights. Dell EMC believes that by leveraging Dell’s ecosystem of partnerships and internal expertise in HPC and data analytics services, the company’s new solutions offer customers the ability to harness the power of the massive amounts of their collected data, delivering faster, better and deeper business insights in real-time.

Enabling the best path for machine and deep learning
As emerging technologies become a more important part of organisations, enterprises often have difficulty knowing where to begin to get the most out of their machine and deep learning solutions. To help them benefit from machine or deep learning, quickly and efficiently, Dell EMC new HPC solutions are focused on specific use cases and business problems backed by industry and HPC expertise and guidance.

The new Dell EMC Machine and Deep Learning Ready Bundles are part of a new portfolio that the company believes will deliver on the commitment of democratising HPC and helping customers achieve faster, better and deeper data insights. These Ready Bundles combine pre-tested and validated servers, storage, networking and services optimised for machine and deep learning applications.

According to Dell EMC the new Ready Bundles will:

  • Enable faster, better, deeper data insights: Identifying, analysing and automating data patterns empowers customers to do more with their data in a wide range of applications such as facial recognition for security, tumour diagnosis in healthcare, and better understanding of human behaviours in the retail industry.
  • Include trusted experts: Using the knowledge and experience of Dell EMC and its strong ecosystem of technology partners helps customers get the most out of machine and deep learning solutions quickly.
  • Maximise efficiency, security and control: Enabling customers to reduce the costs associated with moving significant amounts of data in hybrid cloud environments while minimising risk and maximising data control.

Dell EMC maintains that the Ready Bundles for Machine and Deep Learning will help mainstream enterprises worldwide get a competitive advantage from these capabilities on-premises and in hybrid cloud environments.

Dell EMC announced that it also plans to introduce Ready Bundles working closely with Intel technology. Dell EMC and Intel have embarked on a Joint Innovation Agreement to collaborate on advancing artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning.

Transforming the future by expanding HPC, Big Data capabilities into machine and deep learning
Dell EMC says that their new machine and deep learning solutions build on experience gained in collaborations with customers leading research that maximises the value from machine learning.

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin actively has conducted research to identify brain tumours using machine learning as one of the first applications of its new “Stampede2” supercomputer with Intel Xeon Phi 7250 processors across 4,200 nodes connected with Intel Omni-Path Fabric. This system was developed in collaboration with Dell EMC, Intel and Seagate and ranks No. 12 on the TOP 500 list of the most powerful computer systems worldwide.

Additionally, Simon Fraser University’s “Cedar” supercomputer was built for big data, including artificial intelligence, with 146 Dell EMC PowerEdge C4130 servers with NVIDIA Tesla P100 GPUs. Canada’s most powerful academic supercomputer ranks No. 94 on the TOP500 and No. 13 on the Green500, helping researchers chart new territory across several areas. University researchers use Cedar to study the continually changing DNA code in bacteria, with public health agencies worldwide, implementing faster and more effective infectious disease control measures.

The Dell EMC Ready Bundles for Machine Learning and Deep Learning will be available in the first half of 2018 through Dell EMC and its channel partners.

Armughan Ahmad, senior vice president/general manager, Hybrid Cloud and Ready Solutions, Dell EMC says: “Our customers consistently tell us that one of their biggest challenges is how to best manage and learn from the ever-increasing amount of data they collect daily. With Dell EMC’s high-performance computing experience, we’ve seen how our artificial intelligence solutions can deliver critical insights from this data, faster than ever before possible. Working with our strategic technology partners, we’re able to bring these powerful capabilities to all enterprises. When you think about what this means for industries like financial services or personalised medicine, the possibilities are endless and exciting.”

Edited by Dean Workman
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Securing the enterprise network with artificial intelligence

Securing the enterprise network with artificial intelligence

Securing the enterprise network with artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence (AI) often throws up visions of a futuristic Earth, where self-aware robots are programmed to be ethical in their behaviour and protect human lives at all costs. It’s clear that an AI future is already here, with chatbots and home assistants making the present almost as advanced as was envisaged years ago.

But what about the role of AI in protecting the enterprise network? With the increased threat of cyber-attacks across the world, what role can AI have within data protection?

The idea of using AI in combating cybersecurity breaches is not a new one; however, cybersecurity relies on the technical ability of those implementing and designing the technology, which means experts need to work practically error-free. This undertaking is massive, and requires thousands of lines of code to be written and audited to ensure no vulnerabilities creep into the software used by businesses to protect their networks. To be in full control, businesses need to be able to learn from their existing data.

Machine learning and IoT
Machine learning, one of the key components for AI, is deployable in ways that can help companies develop technologies that can stand the malevolent AI test. This is partly thanks to the vast quantities of data residing in enterprise networks, made usable for machines to analyse and learn from. With this insight and resource, IT professionals can make a significant amount of headway in their quest for AI capable of protecting large-scale connected networks autonomously.

These networks, huge as they are now, are going to expand even further, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming more prevalent in today’s society. IoT is a prodigious threat, as was shown by recent research, detailing the industries that are most affected by breaches of the technology. By 2019, up to 89% of healthcare institutions will have adopted IoT technology in one form or another, yet 89% of organisations who have already deployed the technology have suffered a breach. The research also showed that governments have suffered significant amounts of breaches – 85% in fact – but there are tactics in play and in development to help mitigate these risks.

Intent-based networking
One such strategy, intent-based networking, which is a piece of software that aids in the planning, designing, implementation and operation of networks, is already a working concept. This takes the business goals and policies as input and converts that intelligence into a network configuration, which it generates into a design and configuration.

The key for AI is to have readable and actionable data to feed off, which means networks that see a lot of data traffic can make decisions based on the behaviour of the user. A technology called User and Entity Behaviour Analytics can do just this. Through machine learning, and the innate knowledge of knowing what to look out for, it can monitor what end-points are using the network.

Automated mitigation
On the mitigation side, with the knowledge built up through data processing and analytics, networks can be programmed to take certain actions against suspected malicious behaviour, automatically. Suspicious individuals are asked to re-authenticate and obvious dangers can be quarantined. When a breach does occur, AI can also use its knowledge to ‘score’ the risk of the threat, enabling security teams to quickly detect and respond to advanced cyber-attacks.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can work hand-in-hand on enterprise networks, learning the various nuances of the risks associated with cyber-attacks and respond adequately. Data is key for this process but so is diligence because criminals are usually one step ahead. However, with the way the technology is progressing and the amount of data flowing through networks, there is plenty of material for AI to learn from and help keep businesses safe.

By Pieter Engelbrecht, Business Unit Manager for HPE Aruba

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