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Using advanced AI to stay ahead of cybercriminals

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Staying ahead of today’s accelerated cybercrime trends requires adding artificial intelligence (AI) to an organisation’s network security strategy

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 18, 2019/ — By Doros Hadjizenonos, Regional Director – SADC at Fortinet

As the threat landscape continues to evolve rapidly, it now includes increasingly sophisticated, zero-day malware that traditional security approaches can no longer keep pace with. As a result, security researchers estimate that the cost of cybercrime will outpace security spend by over 16X, reaching $2.1 trillion by the end of 2019. Staying ahead of today’s accelerated cybercrime trends requires adding artificial intelligence (AI) to an organisation’s network security strategy.

The rise of artificial intelligence

The goal of AI is to replicate the analytical processes of human intelligence but to enable decision making at machine speeds. The most effective AI uses a deep-learning model built around an artificial neural network (ANN). This network is comprised of hardware and software configured after the neuron patterns in the human brain. This design not only accelerates data analysis and decision making but also enables the network to adapt and evolve based on new information.

To accomplish this, an ANN goes through a machine learning (ML) training process where implanted learning models are carefully fed vast and increasingly complex amounts of information on an ongoing basis. Once the system has identified patterns and problem-solving strategies, it is then provided with new information that enables it to adjust its algorithms so that it can adapt to and identify new tactics and capabilities adopted by malware or an attack vector.

Fortinet and AI

As an early adopter of AI, Fortinet (www.Fortinet.com) began developing a self-evolving threat detection system over six years ago. This system leverages a custom-designed ANN comprised of billions of nodes, and we have been meticulously training it with new threat data every day since, giving us a significant competitive threat intelligence advantage over every other vendor in the security marketplace.

Our FortiGuard Labs team now uses this advanced AI technology to analyse files and URLs and label them as clean or malicious—at machine speeds and with a high degree of accuracy.

Training an AI

The most crucial element of any AI solution is the methodology used to train its analysis and decision-making algorithms. The ML model used to train FortiGuard AI leverages the three essential learning model strategies endorsed by the AI community:

  • Supervised learning. This initial model begins the training of the AI by feeding it a vast amount of labelled data, clearly identifying the characteristics of each labelled data set, and then repeatedly applying those characteristics to unlabelled data.
  • Unsupervised learning. In this next phase, the algorithm has no known solution set to follow. Instead, it recognises patterns learned in phase one that enable it to label data without human help. At this point, new data can be slowly introduced to force it to deal with data it hasn’t seen before and make new decisions.
  • Reinforcement learning. The results of supervised and unsupervised learning are then “tested,” by scoring the system’s performance with unlabelled files and “rewarding” the system for good results. Training then continues to cycle between these three learning strategies on an ongoing basis.

Because of the recursive requirements of machine learning, any AI system that does not use all three of these learning models is incomplete. Each learning model helps refine results and improve accuracy.

Delivering true AI to customers

Many cybersecurity companies claim to have introduced AI capabilities into their solutions. But the reality is, most fall short of true AI because their underlying infrastructure is too small or their learning models are incomplete. Others refuse to divulge the methods that they use, which raises concerns about the reliability of their AI. Fortinet instead opts to be more transparent about its methodology so that customers know the breadth and depth of the analysis involved.

Sharing intelligence across the Security Fabric

Intelligence in isolation is useless. The more it is shared, the more effective your defensive systems can become. This is why every time a threat is identified, FortiGuard AI generates threat intelligence that automatically updates defensive signatures for every solution across the entire Fortinet Security Fabric, enabling security tools to work together to defend customers with advanced threat detection and protection solutions.

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And because AI powers it, all of this happens seamlessly and behind the scenes—requiring no staff time from an organisation’s security analysts. This allows the Fortinet Security Fabric to integrate, collaborate, and automate threat detection, prevention, and remediation capabilities through sandboxing by sharing threat intelligence across each security element in real time.

Because Fortinet covers the network from end to end, we have a unique and comprehensive view that includes every component needed to protect an organisation’s ecosystem—from the data centre to multiple clouds. This approach, unique in the industry, improves operational efficiencies while dramatically mitigating risks. And because FortiGuard AI threat detection is incorporated into the Security Fabric’s centralised visibility and controls, it also enables the network security team to work proactively based on the most accurate and timely information possible.

– Fortinet

Technology

The Internet as an Investment Tool: How to Leverage It

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By Syd Dickinson

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a sudden throttle to an already expected recession. It is now looking to be a worse financial crisis than the 2008 debacle and the “Great Depression”. Despite that, financial experts note that this actually marks a great time for smart investments. With reduced financing costs and better market penetration opportunities among other benefits, investors can expect an active market that can still yield returns with the right tools.

Much of what is keeping the market active in this time of crisis is the advent of digital resources and the internet. If investors can tap into the well of the World Wide Web’s enterprises, then it can be the most valuable tool in their arsenal. After all, it carries all the necessary assets to leverage on the market.

News Sites and Social Media

Arguably one of the staples of modern media is the torrent of real-time updates that continuously get uploaded on a regular basis. Even with the advent of social media platforms, new consumption habits have changed, and the common public has come to expect quick turnouts with reliable information. As much of investment and trading is reliant on picking up on the most relevant news and market trends, being able to have a 24/7 connection to global numbers and updated data is truly valuable. Of course, what sites you need to follow will likely depend on where you’re situated or where your assets are concentrated. But even Google’s main news page can be a good place to glean some relevant insights. Global market news sites like Reuters and MarketWatch are great sources of information, as well as more regional pages like Business Africa Online.

Research Resources

Adequate knowledge is what keeps investors from taking unwise risks and putting themselves in the red. Having access to the right resources is a must, if only to decrease the inherent risk that investment already brings. With the internet, various websites, applications, and learning platforms are right at an investor’s fingertips.

There are many trustworthy resources available now for both new investors and the more experienced ones. Among these is Dotdash’s popular online financial website, Investopedia. It’s not so much a news site but a finance education site and since its introduction in 1999, it has become one of the most regarded resources for encyclopaedic information on investment as well as relevant reviews, ratings, and trend reports.

Heat Maps

Another core factor for investors is market movement. Assessing the performance of different sectors and assets informs the modern investor of what their next viable move can be. This is where tools that can help investors to accurately monitor and visualize movement come in. FXCM’s trading heat map is very useful for investors and traders. It’s a reliable asset tracker as it covers historical market data and provides real-time market movements in various categories. This tool becomes even more essential for individuals who keep a diverse portfolio, as they can simultaneously monitor forex, cryptocurrencies, stocks, commodities, and more.

Analytics and Calculations Software

Active investment requires foresight that may have once taken years to develop. Though this learning curve still exists, there is a lot of software that makes the process much more accessible to the less experienced. Analytics tools aid investors in staying ahead of the curve, especially during a time when fluctuation can be volatile in core avenues of investment.

That goes hand in hand with investment calculators, which are crucial for private investors considering the value of their potential investments and how much return of invested capital they can expect. In fact, there are even government-funded digital resources like the South Africa’s compound interest calculator that investors can make use of.

According to The World Bank’s 2021 outlook report, economic growth is projected to grow after the widespread introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Strategic investment has become more accessible, and those who make use of the tools readily available in the digital landscape can expect to coast on this headwind.

By Syd Dickinson

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Digitalization in logistics – A user’s experience

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Geraldine Mamburu, Founder & MD PDQ Logistics (Source: Geraldine Mamburu)

In some cultures, children are sometimes named after events that would have taken place close to or during their birth.  Jokes around naming children Quarantine Buthelezi, Social-distance Moyo, or Pandemic Ndlovu, were circulating in 2020 and made for a good laugh, however, one couple in India took this a little too seriously and named their twin boy and girl, Corona and Covid.

Looking back, I do not recall ever coming across a proposal to name children after any of the variations around the word digital, after all, every second Point of View that was being released was around digitalization and digital transformation. It got me thinking, and realised that a lot of these terminologies are thrown about in the corporate space, but what does this actually mean to the end-user? How does the user interact, make use of, and appreciate digitalization?

Being in the logistics space has found me interacting with a lot more digital platforms over and above e-commerce, social media, and the all-so-dreaded-virtual-meeting platforms. My favourite most convenient app (which is currently the best thing ever since sliced bread in my books) has got to be Truck Fuel Net (TFN). TFN offers a cloud-based, real-time software management solution that helps me manage all my on-road refuelling and driver spend needs. Given that the bulk of operational costs in road freight is fuel, one must have their finger on the pulse and be on the constant lookout for the best price, over and above monitoring driver efficiency. The TFN Management system helps me decide, where, when, and how much the driver can refuel.

Sidebar – I’ve been driving a Ford Kuga 1.6 AWD for a few years (NB: No fire starter jokes allowed) and for such a small engine, that car can chow fuel – I’m talking 11 – 12km/100! I never used to fill up because it was painful watching all that money go down the drain. When I filled up the truck for the first-time round, let’s just say I needed to sit down because I felt a little dizzy.

Every day, we transport goods worth millions of Rands. It goes without saying that the safety and security of the driver, the goods we carry, as well as the trucks themselves, is of paramount importance. TFN’s solutions enable us to run a cashless operation. In the road freight sector, cargo, equipment, and increasingly drivers, are all targets for criminals and if we can take one incentive out of the equation, the better off we are.

Whilst on cashless operations, I would like to give SANRAL a standing ovation. Now, now, before your eyes roll all the way to the back of your head, let me just say that we might have qualms as “Gautengers” about how they went about the e-toll saga, but their app is such a lifesaver! With an e-tag fitted on the vehicle, I can manage my account quickly and securely. The app works in real-time, allowing me to be kept informed of my spend on vehicles. And lo and behold when I do forget to top up (because …you know …admin), I immediately get a notification the moment my funds are depleted, allowing me to top up immediately whilst the truck is still on route, contributing to a seamless operation. Well done SANRAL. Sometimes the government does get it right …sometimes.

The South African logistics sector contributes about 12% towards the GDP, according to Stellenbosch University and the World Bank. Of that percentage, approximately ¾ is attributed to road freight alone. With such modestly generous figures, it’s encouraging to see various organisations come up with digitally inspired solutions to cater to this industry.

This brings me to my most used platforms, Car Track and Tracker. I can only assume that before the advancement in technology, one must have had to have a great deal of faith, composure, and trust. Not to say that we no longer require these skills, but the ability to log onto these apps and be able to get real-time updates on the exact location of a customer’s goods in transit certainly prevents a blood vessel or two from popping (in the event that you cannot reach the driver.) As for Google Maps, it goes without saying, that this is the backbone of my interaction with these tracking platforms.

There are a bunch of other digital platforms such as Linebooker that I am still to explore as the business continues to grow. However, it’s been interesting to know that before we start thinking self-driven trucks (think of that one scene from Terminator, were the machine is operating the truck…but I digress) and other seemingly complex technological advancements aimed at this industry, there are still digital channels that make the day to day operations in logistics that much easier.

What other digital platforms are you using or have you heard off that have made a world of a difference in the logistics space?

Article by: Geraldine Mamburu, Founder & MD PDQ Logistics

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Technology

Three African-American Female Engineers Who Changed Our World

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Image source: Pexels

The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) produce innovation that drives us forward as a species. Despite the fact that women and people of color have often been at the forefront of new discoveries, their representation within the STEM fields is historically low.

As culture progresses in understanding toward the value of a diverse workforce, those seeking out the future leaders of STEM are reaching out to underrepresented populations – specifically, women and people of color. One such outreach is ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’, a global campaign established by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

The event, which takes place this February 25, is run by teachers, volunteers, and STEM professionals, and includes engaging engineering-based learning activities that encourage young women to develop problem solving skills and indulge their interest in science and engineering.

The road to their future success was paved by the intrepid women who came before them, including these three remarkable African-American female engineers:

  • Kimberly Bryant: Seeking to create an inclusive technology learning space for young women of color, Ms. Bryant created the not-for-profit coding camp Black Girls Code. As of late 2019, the organization has 15 chapters, and Ms. Bryant has been recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion as well as one of 2013’s 25 Most Influential African Americans in Technology.
  • Dr. Patricia Bath: An early pioneer of laser surgery for cataract treatment, Dr. Bath was the first female member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, the first female African-American surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, and the first female leader of a postgraduate ophthalmology training program.
  • Alice Parker: A housewife from New Jersey, Mrs. Parker developed and filed a patent for a gas-powered central heating system inspired by cold coastal winters. Her filing came before both the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, a remarkable achievement for an African-American woman during her time.

More stories of African-American female engineers and  female leadership in engineering can be seen here:

To discover more about Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, visit NSPE online.

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