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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.

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New York-Based TokenBnk Launches Crypto Savings Account

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The blockchain ecosystem is budding with innovation. TokenBnk has added its name to the list of most interesting blockchain startups when it launched a decentralized application that functions very much like a traditional savings account.

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Traditional Finance Meets Cryptocurrency

New York-based TokenBnk is the world’s first Ethereum-based savings account. The general idea behind TokenBnk is that you can deposit tokens into your Savings Contract (instead of a savings account) and earn rewards in the same token you hold. It operates very much like a traditional bank account, only for cryptocurrency. That’s kinda what we’re all about here at Hacked.

To illustrate how the platform works, suppose you receive 1,000 TBK as a reward and hold 500 of them in ether and 500 in OmiseGo. You will receive the same proportion of tokens back into your Savings Contract, thereby boosting your position size.

To withdraw ether from your savings account, you must pay a predetermined fee using the platform’s native TBK token. The fee is distributed as an award throughout the network via smart contract. The amount network participants receive is proportional to the percentage of the Total Network Value they represent.

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The Launch

TokenBnk emerged-by-stealth on or about Thursday, much to the surprise of the author, who has been anticipating this project for quite some time. The release was accompanied by an 11-page whitepaper and plans for a Nov. 30 token launch.

The protocol is being audited as we speak before beta testing goes live. TokenBnk will launch via mobile app some time in Q1 2018, followed by a full platform launch later in the year.

The development team behind TBK is impressive, with the main website listing 14 young men who can’t be more than 35 years old. The team hails from some of America’s most prestigious universities, such as Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and NYU. Private sector experience is also exemplified with stints at Amazon, AngelList and J.P. Morgan. (We’re glad the former JPM employees at TokenBnk didn’t drink from the same Kool-Aid as Jamie Dimon.)

TokenBnk CEO Shayne Coplan makes a strong case for his platform, especially for those of us keen on investing in cryptos over the long term.

“Currently, most long term holders leave their tokens in their Ethereum wallet, but why do that if you can yield automated regular returns by storing them on the blockchain as part of the TokenBnk network?” Coplan told Hacked. “The idea of holding fiat currency long term and earning no ROI is considered foolish, and it will be no different for cryptocurrencies.”

Coplan was part of the ETH presale back in 2014. With ether prices recently surging past $300, most market participants probably regret trading it right off the bat.

“In hindsight, the buy and hold strategy massively outperformed even the most successful of traders,” Coplan adds. “With the new wave of tokens arriving in the market over the next few years, hopefully TokenBnk can help token holders avoid making that same mistake.”

Ether trails only bitcoin in the race for market cap and is widely considered one of the most promising cryptos from a development point of view.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Blockchain, Insurance and the Crisis of Trust

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Blockchain has been described as the modern-day cure for many ailments facing industry. For insurers, the ledger technology can change the way businesses process claims, share data and prevent fraud.

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Blockchain for Insurance

Fin-tech disruption has played an important role in reshaping the insurance industry. The internet, mobile devices and even data analytics have become indispensable to modern-day insurance providers.  What’s more, the industry full expects this disruption to intensify in coming years.

A survey of financial service providers conducted by PwC found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of insurers identified their own industry as the most likely to undergo significant change as a result of technology. That survey was conducted long before blockchain was even a thing for the average observer.

Fast forward to today, and blockchain is all the rage. Beyond the hype, the ledger technology has radically transformed our perception of record-keeping and trust. As a self-managed system, it can help insurers coordinate claims and boost efficiency without the need for an intermediary.

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Improving Trust

Most people have or at some point will interface with the insurance sector. It is here that they will likely experience the crisis of trust that have caused many to go uninsured. Recent earthquakes in California revealed that only 17% of the state’s homeowners have insurance to cover the natural disaster.

Of course, everyone in the state knows about the San Andreas fault. The choice to go uninsured is a rational one aimed at circumnavigating an industry plagued by a lack of trust. Blockchain isn’t some magic bullet that will fix this problem. But what it can and will provide is transparency.

More transparency can create a more efficient insurance sector by reducing or eliminating all together the need for manual processes. As anyone who has tried to switch healthcare providers knows, manual data entry is prone to huge risks, not to mention fear of losing personal data.  Through blockchain, personal data may be controlled by an individual, but verification is registered on the immutable ledger book.

Blockchain also provides smart contract capability, which can greatly enhance claims processing. By recording and verifying contracts on the ledger, insurers can guarantee that only valid claims are made. For consumers, it also means not having to fill out cumbersome paperwork.

Insurers are also leaning on the blockchain to detect fraud, which drains businesses out of tens of billions of dollars annually. The blockchain’s permanent record provides a decentralized repository insurers can use to verify every customer, policy and transaction. Before the blockchain, this would have required extensive cooperation between various actors.

There’s already a budding community of blockchain companies involved in the insurance industry. Together with other finance companies, they are among the biggest draws of the ICO market. According to CoinSchedule, more than 9% of the total funds raised via ICOs this year have come to finance companies.

When it comes to blockchain, insurance is another sector investors should carefully monitor. It is highly lucrative, but suffers from huge flaws that these new technologies can help fix.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Gizer and Gaze Coin Join Forces to Shape eSports Future

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Global gaming network Gizer has joined forces with VR platform Gaze Coin in a bid to transform the eSports economy.  The companies are expected to boost monetization channels while providing new opportunities for virtual reality-based gaming.

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Partnership Announced

The strategic partnership, which was just announced via Gizer’s Medium channel, appears to be centered on delivering gaming events in virtual and augmented reality. That’s a powerful concept for the rapidly growing eSports segment.

Gizer launched its crowdsale last month amid much fanfare, and has been ranked one of Hacked.com’s best ICOs of the year. The gaming network made headlines last month after it brought on blockchain heavyweight David Drake to its  advisory board. Drake is the Chairman of LDJ Capital and is regarded as an influential blockchain leader.

Gaze Coin’s ICO is coming down the pipeline for Nov. 28. It will be hosted on the Ethereum platform, with a total supply of 100 million tokens.

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Both companies appear to be synchronizing their development roadmaps to deliver games in virtual and augmented reality. Gizer plans to unveil its marketplace in early 2018. That’s around the same time Gaze Coin intends its launch the mixed-reality game Dream Channel, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.

eSports Industry Is Booming

The eSports ecosystem is growing at a rapid rate, according to various research reports that peg it as a billion-dollar industry over the next two years. Earlier this year, Newzoo said it expects eSports revenues to reach $1.5 billion by 2020, with brand investment doubling over that period.

Clearly, the idea of creating professional leagues out of multiplayer games is gaining in popularity. Given the number of users already playing online, the need for an integrated network that connects all the dots and provides incentives has never been greater. The blockchain can greatly enhance the end user experience by creating a stable infrastructure to handle all transactions. This not only improves the platform, but ensures toxic members are kept at bay. (How many times have you played your favorite EA Sports game only to have to deal with members abusing one another and cheating? The blockchain is a potential remedy.)

Greater community involvement and more opportunity to grow the ecosystem are the other major benefits offered exclusively by the blockchain. And because this environment can be monetized, there’s huge incentive to grow and improve it over time.

In reality, eSports is just one of a myriad of industries currently being developed by the blockchain community. A total of 27 industries have been represented by the ICO universe this year alone, according to CoinSchedule. Gaming and VR token raises have been among the most lucrative, drawing in more than $120 million through the first ten months. That’s roughly 4% of the $3.25 billion in ICO funding raised this  year alone.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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