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Transform your company for the good

Transformation is an important aspect in any business. In South Africa, it means giving opportunities to those who were previously excluded from advancing their careers because of the color of their skin. In other parts of the world, it means giving opportunities to women who were traditionally excluded from advancing their careers because of old world thinking.

Today, transformation is about much more than that. It is about adapting the way that business is done in order to address the challenges that are currently inherent in the industry. Enterpriseinnovation.net recently did a very insightful interview with Luke McNeal, Head of Workplace at Facebook for the APAC region where this topic was discussed in detail. The interview below is a reproduction of the interview done with enterpriseinnovation.net.

In the past year, according to McNeal, more than 30 000 organizations have been transformed by Workplace, including Asia-based companies such as AirAsia, Grab, Razer and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

What are the common issues and trends companies in Asia Pacific and Japan face when it comes to internal communications?

When we look at the challenges of internal communications, businesses in Asia Pacific tend share similar challenges — they want to foster greater communication, encourage collaboration as well engage their increasingly younger workforce who is tech savvy.

At the same time, communication behaviors have changed significantly over the past several years. People are increasingly more comfortable bringing the technology they use to connect and communicate in their personal lives across to their professional lives.

This move towards ‘shadow IT’ can be difficult for businesses and lead to infosec issues, as well as tool fatigue.

The challenge facing many of Asia Pacific’s business leaders is finding a combination of technology, organizational design, leadership and work practice to create a positive work environment.

At Workplace, we believe that technology can support a cultural transformation of a workplace and ultimately create an environment of collaboration and transparency. We combine next-generation technology and easy-to-use features to transform communications, culture and workflows inside organizations regardless of shapes, sizes and industries.

How are these companies employing Workplace to promote business culture and productivity?

First and foremost, Workplace is a collaborative platform that can be used by any business of any size, anywhere in the world. We have more than 30,000 organizations that use Workplace to collaborate better, in a flatter structure, making it easier to get things done.

The impact that Workplace is having is best seen through our customers.

For example, when we look at AirAsia, it was looking for a platform that would join people together and make workflow more effective.

The AirAsia Group services an extensive network across Asia and Australia, and comprises 9 airline affiliates, 22,000 employees from 16 different nationalities. The team communicates across operations in 5 countries while keeping their 1,300 flights running every day.

As a result, AirAsia realized that improving communication across their teams was a priority. Specifically they wanted to help teams working across multiple countries in various language abilities over overcome language barriers. They also wanted to join disparate workers together across airports (and continents), as well as communicate critical industry information to everyone quickly and accurately.

Workplace has been able to address these challenges. Auto-translation in Workplace enables everyone to be part of the conversation. Every AirAsia employee can instantly understand, in their own language, what is happening across their organization. The mobile app is also empowering people to break down silos, share ideas and collaborate wherever they are.

Another great example is WWF, or the World Wildlife Fund. Traditionally WWF’s annual conference was only attended by senior stakeholders and C-level execs. Now, they use Live video within Workplace to stream the event and it has opened up the conference to everyone in their organization.

By opening up this meeting, WWF gathered valuable insight and suggestions from employees weighing in via comments on the Live session. It also had stronger buy-in from the leadership, as they were able to hear from their entire organization quickly.

How have companies successfully improved in the area of solving business problems as well as faster and better-informed decision making?

Having the right information in real time is probably no more important than in a hospital.

Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital faced a challenge to communicate quickly and accurately, with staff spread out across multiple buildings and within the community. It’s also critical that they share information quickly, as lives on are the line.

With Workplace, staff can share information instantly via the Workplace app. It also allows a single destination to keep staff updated on new practices, processes and standards is crucial.

Team leads run polls and quizzes in groups, and spread learning material virally through the News Feed to engage staff with relevant information.

Similarly, the AirAsia team, which faces the challenge of managing 1,300 flights per day, are using Workplace to streamline communications and ensure staff receive updates in real time.

By setting up Groups and using Workchat, flight teams – from pilots, ground and operations crews – can share accurate information about changes to flights instantly.

They can also collaborate to problem solve in real-time, which is much more efficient than using traditional email distribution lists.

Workplace has been so critical to AirAsia’s success, that CEO Tony Fernandes closed his email account and uses Workplace to chat with staff exclusively.

Transformation enabler

If there was one issue that is forcing companies to adapt their ways, it is internet security. Again, enterpriseinnovation.net recently did an insightful interview with Gerald Penaflor, Country Manager, Akamai Philippines who painted a picture of what the state of internet security was in 2018.

Can you share some key highlights of the Akamai 2018 State of the Internet Security report?

Our latest report is a lookback at our work, including the crisis communication about emerging threats and how it fits into the larger security story of the past year. Our Chief Security Officer, Andy Ellis, also reflected on where current trends might lead us in 2019.

The report also notes ongoing patterns from the past year, suggesting they’ll continue, and how they will continue to evolve in the ways they have been advancing:

  • The Gig Adversary

While this isn’t a new model, the increasing use of it — to create booter networks or validate stolen credentials — heralds an increasing marketization of the adversary landscape. And marketization tends to bring even greater economies of scale, as specialists drive efficiencies into their components of the market to defeat their competitors.

  • Cryptocurrencies and Exchanges

While blockchain has yet to make serious inroads outside cryptocurrencies, the increasing value of cryptocurrencies has also brought adversaries. While some adversaries aim high — attacking cryptoexchanges or making 51% attacks — others aim small.

  • Brute-Force DDoS

DDoS is always a great place to start, mostly because the trends in DDoS are remarkably stable. It might be easiest to think about attacks along two different axes: leverage and bandwidth.

  • Application-Level Attack

While bandwidth is the axis of DDoS most people think about, leverage is as critical in many ways. Leverage is simply a measure of how effective an individual attack is compared to the amount of traffic generated.

  • Credential Stuffing

Attackers also want to gain access to systems in ways that aren’t just about outages. Take the latest high-profile attacks in the world of account takeover, which often begin with credential stuffing. This attack relies on the greatest weakness of the web: passwords. Users, faced with the challenge of managing accounts on dozens of websites, often reuse a few passwords across multiple accounts.

What is the “gig” economy, and how are threat actors leveraging it? How does this shift impact the “gig” economy itself?

In a nutshell, today, hackers have evolved from script kiddies and attacking organizations and individuals they dislike, to become a gig adversary community.

In the past, attackers and hackers would become specialists. For example, if you’re a very good DDoS attacker, then you are a specialist of a DDoS attack. Today, they have leveraged those skills to form an ecommerce ecosystem. Attackers that specialize in different attacks now allow attackers to buy tools and resources from each other, functioning similar to a “gig economy”. Sellers of these resources can even get rated for their services and the quality of tolls.

As a result, a new economy is formed and that transcends boundaries. Since everything can be bought and launched, with multiple vectors, it becomes a much more powerful and coordinated platform to launch an attack.

What is ‘credential stuffing’, and what has led to the evolution towards data harvesting specialization and monetization models?

Credential stuffing is a technique used by cyberattackers to steal account credentials, including usersnames, email addresses and account passwords to gain unauthorized access to accounts. According to the Akamai 2018 State of the Internet / Security Credential Stuffing Attacks report, worldwide malicious login attempts are on the rise. Findings from the report show that Akamai detected approximately 3.2 billion malicious logins per month from January through April 2018, and over 8.3 billion malicious login attempts from bots in May and June 2018 – a monthly average increase of 30 percent.

Threat actors are motivated because of the financial benefits they stand to reap. With the rise of ecommerce and cryptocurrencies, there is increased access to resources and innovations and as such, this is a massive financial gain for attackers.

How has this further contributed to the ‘Dark Web’ and the sophistication of the cybercriminal underworld?

The dark web serves as a source where cybercriminals can maintain anonymity to conduct illegal activities, such as selling ransomware or peddling hacked accounts. Usually, when someone wants to access that information, they will use the dark web because it is encrypted – making it difficult to track down individuals or a hacking group.

Since one cannot control the industry, or how attackers evolve in terms of methodology, their patterns, philosophy and sector, what we can do is control is our ability to respond, scale, research and development for us to keep ahead of the adversary. For example, we have increased the capacity of our scrubbing solution by 300% because we know attackers are coming in by volumes such as botnets.

What else can be expected on the Internet security horizon in 2019?

Penaflor: The introduction of 5G technology means faster connections, and can prove to be new avenue for adversaries to perpetrate their attacks. We foresee DDoS making the loudest noise for the year ahead. It’s akin to that of a massive siren where everyone gets overwhelmed by the immensity of a thousand bots. DDoS attacks have become more sophisticated over time, as attackers have been shifting their focus from network to the application layer, where DDoS protection is harder to maintain. The size of attacks has grown exponentially too, and most enterprises lack the capital resources to scale their security programs to provide adequate DDoS protection.

Secondly, as enterprises aim to keep up with consumer demand, APIs are being incorporated in the cloud, which will make the data in the cloud more vulnerable to attackers. The use of APIs empower companies to create new and innovative business models. At the same time, APIs also increase threat vulnerability and attack surface, and can expose users to downtime and malicious attacks, including unintended misuse by legitimate users.

Lastly, credential abuse will continue to prevail. This comes on the back of the increased usage of bots, along with the rise in cryptocurrency.

“GTconsult is all about transformation and transforming for the right reasons. In my opinion, 2019 will be all about company audits and seeing how companies can transform themselves for the better. GTconsult can assist in this with our wealth of expertise and the skills of our A Team which can help you grow your business, ” says GTconsult Co-Founder and CEO Bradley Geldenhuys.

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