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IoT to boost B2B data and insights in 2018

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IoT
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Connected technology is the lifeblood of the Internet of Things (IoT), or so say the new predictions from market data company Forrester Research.

The company has put together a list of IoT predictions for 2018, highlighting the increasing impact that connected technology is having upon businesses. The new findings come in a report titled “Predictions 2018: IoT Moves From Experimentation To Business Scale.”

According to a recent McKinsey report, the economic benefits of the IoT are expected to reach between $3.9 trillion and $11.1 trillion within the next decade. The effects of the IoT will be across all industries, and industry leaders will need to understand where their resources can be properly allocated in order to gain the benefits of this transformative tech.

IoT platforms to get more specific

Forrester predicts that IoT platform offerings will start to specialize in “design” and “operate” scenarios.

“Design” use, Smart2Zero interprets, refers to case scenarios that involve creating connected offerings or with environments to engage with customers. In contrast, “operate” use cases are set to enhance processes, creating new efficiencies or enhancing customer experiences.

In line with a growing number of commentators, the Forrester report indicates that there will be a shift away from platforms that are general, like the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite or the General Electric Predix, and towards smaller companies offering specialized IoT services.

The kinds of specific offerings that enterprises could pilot and roll out include voice-based services to consumers and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) services.

B2B opportunities and cybersecurity risks

“IoT is re-shaping how businesses are organized, including the roles and responsibilities of individuals — and how they work together” said Christopher Voce, Vice President, Research Director at Forrester.  “Capturing the promise of any of these scenarios requires organizations to collaborate in new ways.”

Forrester’s research predicts there will also be more exchanges of data and insights between firms. This will lead to more B2B opportunities for companies commercializing data analysis.

Of course, as Forrester’s report points out, this new connected technology comes with well-documented risks. Implementing IoT solutions in businesses currently comes with a large amount of security risk. This could lead to an increase of IoT-related cyberattacks next year and beyond.

According to a study by consulting firm Altman Vilandrie & Company, 48 percent of participating companies have suffered at least one IoT security incident. And almost half of the businesses featured in the study with annual revenues over $2 billion estimated the potential cost of an IoT breach at more than $20 million.

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Investment

AI cybersecurity provider Vectra raises $36m in funding

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Vectra has raised $36m in Series D funding in an investment round led by Atlantic Bridge. The cybersecurity company has developed an AI which uses machine learning to monitor corporate networks. Admins get advance warnings if potential problems are found.

Announced in a press release today, the new investment round takes Vectra’s total funding to $123 million. Besides the Atlantic Bridge technology equity fund, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, Nissho Electronics Corp and several previous Vectra investors also participated in the latest round.

Bringing AI to the cybersecurity fight

Vectra’s AI proactively detects anomalous network traffic before it has a chance to gain a foothold. The company is one of several providers that’s aiming to automate cybersecurity to improve accuracy and resilience. Security admins get warnings as soon as a problem is found, without having to spend time manually analysing server logs or records of network traffic.

The startup already has over 400 enterprise customers, with 60 percent of them sharing data back to the company. This information is used to tune Vectra’s AI so it’s more capable of finding potential entrypoints and identifying emerging risks. Vectra told VentureBeat that customer data sharing helps the company’s AI to better protect all of its users by sharing insights through the cloud.

Real-time cyber threat detection

Vectra will use the $36 million in new investment to expand its business and reach new enterprises. It currently employs over 140 people in various countries worldwide. The company will make additional hires to grow its expertise in artificial intelligence. The additional talent will help make Vectra’s AI more effective at pinpointing cyber threats in real-time.

“We have been impressed by the remarkable growth of Vectra in this fast-moving cybersecurity market,” said Kevin Dillon, managing partner of Atlantic Bridge. “The increasing volume, creativity and effectiveness of cyberattacks means that enterprises must adopt AI to automate cybersecurity operations. We look forward to helping the company expand its global enterprise footprint.” Vectra expects to add over 200 new people to its workforce across technical development, AI research and sales and marketing. The company intends to accelerate the growth of its platform and business to reach new enterprises across the world.

Vectra is competing with a growing roster of companies using AI to thwart cyberattacks, including major cloud providers such as IBM and Microsoft. The company is succeeding by focusing on “non-stop” automated hunting of threats, using behavioral models that find and isolate attackers before they’ve breached the frontline defences.

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Canadian Cloud region brings efficiency, agility and AI to businesses

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Canada’s first Google Cloud region is open for business in Montreal. The new region, called “northamerica-northeast1”, is the 15th for Google worldwide, and the fifth in North America

With its Canadian offering Google joins Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has run a Canada-based region since 2016.

The new region could boost Google Cloud use, and cloud infrastructure in general, for Canadian businesses that have yet to make the switch.

Global Head of Solutions for Google Cloud Miles Ward said the new region will improve latency for Google Cloud’s Canadian customers.

“To be able to put this infrastructure into Montreal improves not just the performance in Montreal, but for all customers here in Canada,” said Ward.

Ottawa-based company Pythian provides consultations and services for international companies, and CEO of Pythian, Paul Vallée, spoke of the advantages that the new cloud region brings to companies looking to build their North American presence.

“You don’t need to put in us-east1 anymore, you can put it right here (in Montreal) and still have access to the entire low latency dynamics, and to the entire North American economy which is I think something new and something really exciting.”

Making the switch to cloud

Google’s new region adds to Canada’s ongoing innovation in the cloud infrastructure arena. According to Forbes, Canada is a major player in the push towards public cloud strategies. The federal government recently released its plan to move all unclassified data to the cloud.

But some hesitation remains. Many business owners will be weighing whether the benefits outweigh the costs and effort to transition to cloud options.

For Ward, the public cloud is all about agility, efficiency and remaining competitive in an innovative market.

“The reality is that the efficiency of these centralized resources is orders of magnitude higher. As a result, the companies that are able to take advantage of those tools just are more agile — able to make choices more quickly with lower risk, able to operate at lower cost. The result is this is the opportunity of this generation to leapfrog their competitors, to outcompete and to operate on a global stage. “

Vallée stressed that the speed of cloud-based project work is the key advantage for businesses — and that this new method of storing and sharing work outmaneuvers old ways of defining success.

“A lot of companies need to adopt cloud because of a velocity or a business agility imperative. They’re adopting the technology in order to win by beating their competitors to market — not win by saving pennies, and not win through a more efficient capital structure, but win because you beat them there and you built it before they could.”

Google Cloud offers modern, AI-friendly option to businesses

Having a data centre located in Montreal could also sway businesses with concerns about data sovereignty or latency to embrace Google Cloud.

According to Vallée, the new region is just the latest reason businesses will want to get on board with Google for their public cloud services, over competitors like AWS or Microsoft Azure.

“They have differentiated in two major ways versus the other cloud vendors,” said Vallée. “The first one is they have a very simplified, platform-as-service-oriented cloud. That’s their roots, that’s their DNA. The other cloud platforms really started with infrastructure-as-a-service and started tacking on platform features after the fact.

“Whereas Google went the opposite route. Their Cloud started with Google apps for MyDomain and… they’ve been expanding that so that now they’re roughly comparable (to other vendors), but have very much a platform centre, which is a much more modern approach to cloud infrastructure.”

Vallée also sees a big bonus to companies looking to develop AI-related products and tools within Google Cloud.

“The other dynamic that I think is really important is Google is really a leader in machine learning, and has the most compelling demonstrations of their machine learning capability in terms of their road map. Google is, I think by general concensus, far in the lead in terms of their machine learning innovation, what with their Google Brain project and Google DeepMind intiative.

“And what we’re seeing coming out of Google Brain and Google DeepMind is all being built into the Google Cloud API support over time. Which means that for future proofing your cloud investment, if you are doing an analytics-oriented, data science-oriented, machine learning or AI-oriented adoption of the public cloud, Google is really a nicely differentiated platform to make that kind of investment on.”

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IAmI taps IBM Cloud to defend enterprise networks against attack

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IAmI Authentications, a B2B cybersecurity provider, has developed a real-time protection system to defend enterprise networks against intrusion attacks using stolen login credentials. IAmI can issue alerts when an ID is being used without authorisation.

Intelligent authentication

IAmI describes its service as a way to “crowdsource, decentralize and tokenize authentication and identity.” The company provides an “intelligent” form of two-factor authentication for the workforce of digital enterprises.

The IAmI app operates similarly to the authentication apps you may already have on your phone. It enforces two-factor authentication using push notifications. When you try to login to a protected company resource, you have to acknowledge the attempt in the app or press “deny” to issue a block. IT administrators can monitor the service to detect incoming threats in real-time.

In a post published to IBM’s blog, IAmI explained that cloud-powered authentication solutions help organisations address data breaches. Many organizations remain unaware of incidents until after the intrusion has occurred. Blocking attackers at the point of an unauthorised login gives IT staff visibility into the threat. It also enables them to actively deploy additional protections.

“Many organizations don’t even know their network security has been compromised until it’s much too late. Once stolen, their private data is impossible to protect,” said IAmI. “[IAmI] empowers users to protect their own login credentials from hackers who would otherwise try to exploit it to gain unauthorized access. Organizations and users can know their login credentials and secure data can no longer be nefariously exploited or breached.”

Cloud security

IAmI’s solution uses IBM Cloud to distribute authentication alerts to enterprise devices. The system can monitor every aspect of an enterprise’s authentication, from end-user logins through to database access attempts. The company’s apps run across all major mobile platforms, including iOS, Android and even the Apple Watch. Admins can monitor intrusion attempts from wherever they are.

The service provides an example of how cloud solutions can improve the cybersecurity posture of enterprises. Although cloud software is often seen as a risk in itself, effective use of breach detection systems can enable firms to mitigate the risks. Stolen credential attacks are common but can be blocked, if the technology is already in-place.

According to IAmI, the average detection rate for major data breaches is 205 days. Use of an authentication app cuts the delay to a matter of seconds when defending against attackers using basic credential theft techniques. Cloud services can also offer behavioural analysis functions to proactively identify irregularities that could be a threat. If a user logs in from an unusual location or a new device, administrators may be alerted first so they can authorize the identity.

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