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Global Survey Quantifies Exploding Cybersecurity Initiatives

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Cybersecurity represents one of the fastest growing industries in the world, if not the fastest, as Internet commerce expands, and online data becomes more exposed to cyber attack. The cost of cybersecurity is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.

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PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP quantified the business and government investment in cybersecurity in a recent survey, Global State of Information Security 2016. The survey examines cybersecurity initiatives by business and government organizations in the last few years.

The survey is a global initiative of PwC, CISO, and CSO. It was conducted online from May 7, 2015 to June 12, 2015. The report is based on responses from more than 10,000 CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, chief information security officers (CISOs), chief security officers (CSOs), vice presidents and directors of IT and security organizations from 127 nations.

The study includes charts on cybersecurity incidents, investments, safeguards, leadership and other results.

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PwC charts

A snapshot of the state of corporate cybersecurity.

Investment Takes Many Forms

Business and government organizations are undertaking numerous initiatives to improve cybersecurity systems.

Online security risks are causing business and government to adopt new technologies such as cloud-enabled cybersecurity, “Big Data” analytics and advanced authentication measures.

Collaborative approaches include sharing intelligence on threats and response techniques. Organizations are reconsidering key executive and board of director roles to provide more resilient and proactive security measures.

The vast of survey respondents, 91%, use a risk-based cybersecurity framework. Most said they follow ISO 27001 guidelines, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework and SANS Critical Controls. Such guidelines enable organizations to identify and prioritize threats quickly and reduce risks.

By adopting a risk-based framework, organizations can better communicate and collaborate on security measures both internally and externally. Such a framework can help an organization design and measure goals.

Bar Chart

An even larger majority, 96%, use cloud-based cybersecurity services. Providers have invested in advanced technologies for privacy, data protection, network security and identity management. Many have also provided capabilities to enable intelligence gathering. This allows them to better prevent attacks and improve response.

Sixty-nine percent of the respondents have cloud-based security to protect data and better ensure privacy. They further entrust a range of services to the cloud such as real-time monitoring/analytics, identity and access management, and advanced authentication.

How Big Data Plays a Role

Fifty-nine percent of respondents leverage Big Data to improve cybersecurity. Big Data analytics can model and track cybersecurity threats. The analytics also allow organizations to respond to incidents and yield audit data to better understand how data can be used.

A data-based approach can transfer cybersecurity from perimeter-based defenses. This can enable an organization to use real-time data to predict incidents. Data-based approaches enable organizations to better comprehend anomalous network actions and respond faster.

Some organizations combine Big Data with existing security and event management systems to create a better view of activity within their networks. Others use data analytics to identify and track employee use patterns and improper access.

Also read: The top five cybersecurity vulnerabilities for businesses

Collaboration Becomes More Important

Sixty-five percent of survey respondents collaborated with other parties in 2015 to improve cybersecurity, marking a significant gain over 2013 when 50% noted doing this.

Organizations taking this action cite specific benefits. Most say such collaboration gives them more actionable data from peer organizations, in addition to information from law enforcement and government agencies. Many say such sharing improves awareness of threats.

Organizations that do not collaborate cite a lack of a data-sharing framework and data formats that are compatible. Another vulnerability cited by these organizations is not communicating updates at network speed.

Security Executives Assume A Bigger Role

A positive finding the survey cited is that top security executives and board members are playing more prominent roles in organizations.

Fifty-four percent have a CISO to oversee security while 49% have a CSO. Top security executive roles have expanded. The CISO of today should have expertise in risk management, corporate governance and business in addition to security.

This year marked a double-digit increase in board of director involvement in data security. Such involvement improves cybersecurity measures. Forty-six percent of respondents noted the board participates in security budgets. Outcomes attributed to this involvement include higher security spending, key risk identification, fostering a culture of security, and closer alignment of data security with business goals and risk management.

Financial Services Takes Center Stage

One of the more positive findings is that financial services respondents reported slightly fewer cybersecurity incidents in 2015. At the same time, these organizations increased data security budgets over the prior year. The study examined how financial services companies address challenges such as third-party partners’ security capabilities, growing use of apps and mobile devices, and an increase in foreign nation-state attacks, organized crime and hackers.

Such companies are upgrading security systems with cloud-based services, biometrics, advanced authentication and Big Data analytics. These firms ranked security capabilities of third-party service providers as a leading challenge in data security measures.

Some financial sector companies are upgrading cooperation with third party providers through risk-based frameworks. Such guidelines can enable organizations to exchange information more easily with third party partners and can relay concerns about services.

The use of apps and mobile devices for consumer banking has increased, and to better secure these interactions, respondents cited security of mobile devices as a top 2015 spending priority. One way they are addressing this risk is through advanced authentication.

Financial sector companies noted organized crime groups and foreign nation states are working together on cyber attacks. Many financial companies are using Big Data analytics to monitor covert threats to better comprehend security risks.

Cybersecurity Impacts Many  Industries

Other industry sectors impacted by cybersecurity include: retail and consumer; life science and pharmaceuticals; power and utilities; automotive; entertainment, media and communications; health care payers and providers; industrial products; oil and gas; public sector; technology; and telecommunications.

Findings include:

•    In 2015, there were 38% more security incidents than in 2014.
•    Theft of “hard” intellectual property grew 56% in 2015.
•    Survey respondents increased information security budgets in 2015 by 25%.
•    58% of respondents have an information security function.
•    53% have an employee training and awareness program.
•    52% have third party security base-line standards.
•    49% do threat assessments.
•    48% have active monitoring and analysis of security intelligence.
•    59% have cybersecurity insurance.

Images from Shutterstock and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsLester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.




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Blockchain Talent Demand Surpasses Supply

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If there’s any group in the global workforce that is sitting pretty it’s blockchain developers. Their success has unparalleled with anything in the stratosphere, yet they’re still receiving offers with compensation packages rivaling that of CEO pay packages. And many of them have already become millionaires from investing in the coins of the market leaders they helped to build, including bitcoin and Ethereum, which means they’re less incentivized to join other projects for the size of the offer alone.

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Decentralized World

The thing to remember about blockchain pioneers is that they set out on the mission of a decentralized world not so that they could be subject to the whims of cryptocurrency prices. They are just as focused on the social impact of the blockchain as they are the success of their respective projects. Consider Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin, who during the peak of the cryptocurrency market rally at year-end 2017 tweeted the following reminder to his followers –

Buterin went on to use Venezuela as an example, whose economy is in tatters. He was dismayed that bitcoin’s price posts were getting more traction than “how Venezuelans were being rescued by crypto.”

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If the corporate culture reflected Buterin’s mission rather than dangling a six- or seven-digit compensation package in front of recruits, they might have more success attracting top blockchain talent.

Talent Battle

Meanwhile, blockchain startups are creating roadmaps with product release dates obligating them to have top development talent in-house, all of which is leading to projects getting stuck and helping to fuel the hiring frenzy. It’s not solely blockchain startups, however.

Global corporations including certain FANG stocks are no longer waiting on the sidelines as ICOs raise billions of dollars and the cryptocurrency market cap has balloons to nearly $400 billion, all of which has placed a high bounty on the pool for blockchain talent. If you have any doubts, consider again Ethereum co-founder Buterin. As Hacked.com previously reported, Buterin tweeted about having received a job offer from Google.

David Schwartz, whose Twitter profile describes him as “one of the original architects of the XRP network,” told The Wall Street Journal how both a startup and a big tech play attempted to poach one of his team members, each of them offering the Ripple developer a million dollar signing bonus.

Meanwhile, the blockchain, a public immutable ledger where transactions are recorded and joined together in individual blocks, has become a catchphrase, one that can mean the difference between hits on a LinkedIn profile or not. According to the Journal story, there are thousands of available jobs posted on the social platform hunting blockchain talent through the early part of May, reflecting more than a 150% jump versus all of last year.

But just as regulators have said they don’t want to rush into crafting any policy in response to market performance, employers should similarly take a step back before throwing everything but kitchen sinks out to software developers. Some companies are developing talent in-house, which is another route to consider. But overall, hiring companies could be much more effective at recruiting blockchain talent if they understood the mission behind decentralization.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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Crypto Hedge Funds Grow 64% Over the Past Year as Institutions Embrace Digital Currency

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After spending much of the last eight years bashing cryptocurrency, Wall Street is beginning to embrace the digital asset class more intently than ever before. Case in point: the number of cryptocurrency hedge funds has increased 64% over the past year. As it turns out, Goldman Sachs isn’t the only institutional player pivoting toward cryptocurrency.

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The Rise of the Crypto Hedge Fund

There are now 287 hedge funds devoted to cryptocurrency trading, compared with 175 a year ago, according to data from Autonomous Next. Astonishingly, there were only 20 crypto hedge funds in existence in 2016.

Over the past year, at least 100 hedge funds have been launched for the sole purpose of trading cryptocurrency. At this rate, institutions will play an increasingly pivotal role in the digital currency market in the very near future.

Digital currency exchanges are betting big on institutional money. San Francisco-based Coinbase recently unveiled four new products designed to unlock up to $10 billion in institutional capital currently sitting on the sidelines. This includes a new custodial service that will provide institutions with a trusted steward to safeguard their digital assets.

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As for hedge funds themselves, April saw a huge turnaround in terms of profitability, as firms played the crypto-market rebound to great success. In the process, they gained more than 80% compared with March.

The Next Bull Market

Coinbase has put forward the position that institutional capital will be responsible for the next great bull market in cryptocurrency. If 2017 was the year of the retail investor, 2018 and beyond will largely be driven by institutions. A close examination of Google search trends seems to support this view.

The 2017 bull market was accompanied by a wave of new entrants into the cryptocurrency market, as evidenced by the surge in Google search results for terms like “bitcoin” and “cryptocurrency.” If we use the same metrics, we can conclude that cryptocurrency has lost its buzz among new traders. For example, a term like “cryptocurrency” achieved a Google Trends score of 12 in the most recent week, down from a perfect 100 at the start of 2018.

That said, hedge funds are still a long ways away from dominating the crypto market.  In fact, institutional adoption remains weak overall in spite of the recent growth. This was recently pointed out by Tom Lee, the Wall Street crypto analyst leading research at Fundstrat Global Advisors.

In Lee’s view, cryptocurrencies failed to rally during blockchain week because of adoption hurdles at bank as well as a lack of custodial tools among major institutions. Using the same logic, Lee concludes that institutional demand is one of the missing ingredients for a large rally in prices.

However, Lee has maintained a strongly bullish outlook on crypto assets, including a price forecast for bitcoin of $25,000 by the end of the year.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Walmart’s Flipkart Deal: The Dawn of a New Day in India

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It’s the dawn of a new day in India, particularly cross-border investment, thanks to Walmart’s groundbreaking controlling stake in Bengaluru-based e-commerce darling Flipkart. Walmart has tried for years to no avail to enter the South Asian country, until now.

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As a result of the deal, Walmart now has five seats on the online retailer’s board and is poised to play an influential role on the direction of the company — including a possible Flipkart IPO — setting the tone for further investments into the region in the interim.

It’s $16 billion deal values Flipkart at a whopping $21 billion and helps the Arkansas-based big-box retailer to compete more fiercely with Amazon, considering that the integration goes smoothly. Walmart has chosen a controversial target company to kick things off. Flipkart has been at the center of a saga ironically surrounding a previous cross-border investment.

Amazon is fighting back, however, as evidenced by it reaching into the belly of western India including Gujarat’s Bhuj, where some residents don’t even have online access. Amazon is taking an Etsy-like approach there with a focus on handmake craft items that are unique to this corner of the world.

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No doubt corporations around the world have it on their radar as a possible harbinger of more cross-border investment activity to unfold in the region.

Gopal Jain of Mumbai-based private equity firm Gaja Capital told The Financial Times: “India continues to be perceived in global boardrooms as a tough place to do business in.” But he also said that as a result of this deal, global executives have gone from “being on the heels to being on the toes.”

India’s Cross-Border Investment

The overhaul of India’s international investment has been two decades in the making. And while India Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his administration has opened the doors to foreign investment, there still hasn’t been much evidence of that. For instance, cross-border M&A into India totaled $14.5 billion last year, lagging the performance of other developing countries including Brazil and China by as much as 50%, as per Dealogic data cited in the FT.

Indeed, the last time that a deal of anything close to the size of Walmart’s Flipkart acquisition was more than a decade ago in the telecom space when Vodafone took a majority position in Hutchison Essar. That deal left a sour taste in the mouths of would-be pursuers given hostile tax environment in which Vodafone was forced to operate.

Prime Minister Modi has the opportunity to prove to the rest of the world that India indeed is open for investment. If the Walmart deal can somehow help to shake the stigma that is attached to foreign investment into India, as evidenced by the “tax terrorism” that’s been attached with the region, it, in fact, could reflect the dawn of a new day for cross-border M&A in India.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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