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Global Survey Shows Companies Are Using More Automation in Cybersecurity, But Still Have Work to Do

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Skybox® Security has released the results of a global survey conducted by Osterman Research, Understanding Security Processes and the Need to Automate. The survey, which includes responses from 465 senior security leaders at large enterprises in the U.S., EMEA and APAC, reveals trends in the use of security automation, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Survey questions focused on workflows in firewall and security policy management and vulnerability management.

Key findings included some surprises. For example, according to the results, APAC is ahead of the U.S. and EMEA in terms of automation for processes involved in the management of firewall rules and security policy — the automation of these processes is least common in EMEA. And despite being hyped at shows and in the media, technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are still in early days, with few organizations using AI/ML in production — just four percent of respondents in EMEA, nine percent in the U.S. and 27 percent in APAC.

In general, the report reveals that companies worldwide are continuing to struggle with network security management, especially as those networks are growing more complex and increasing in size. Surprisingly, most are only partially automating workflows and processes to help overcome these challenges — but they do see the value and are looking to automate more in the future.

“Many organizations have significant deficiencies with regard to their firewall and security management,” said Michael Osterman, Principal Analyst of Osterman Research. “Most realize that they need to improve the way they manage security and policy, and they also realize that automating workflows and processes is key to these improvements.”

Additional insights from the report include the following:

  • Cutting costs, making better use of skilled employees and network size/complexity are top drivers for automation —but that varies by region. In EMEA, 61 percent of respondents said cost was the number one driver; 43 percent said it was in the U.S. Surprisingly, only 35 percent in APAC ranked costs as the key driver for automation. They instead ranked the difficulty of managing the size and complexity of their network as the primary reason (43 percent), as well as being able to move skilled staff off mundane activities to higher value/skill security tasks (40 percent).  The U.S. and EMEA also cited the challenges of managing network size and complexity as a heavy driver (42 percent and 38 percent respectively).
  • Better visibility and context are still needed. Organizations are still deficient in understanding network context and having visibility of firewall and security policy, including why firewall rules exist: 37 percent in the U.S., 61 percent in EMEA and 47 percent in APAC said they had only “minimal or some understanding.” Even more surprising, respondents said they have only minimal or some understanding of how security changes impact their business: 49 percent in the U.S., 63 percent in EMEA and 39 percent in APAC. And it appears that identifying vulnerabilities continues to be a challenge, with 53 percent in the U.S., 63 percent in EMEA and 42 percent in APAC having only minimal or some understanding of what vulnerabilities exist on network devices.
  • Security staff are bogged down with incident response processes, compliance management and making changes to the security infrastructure. The top things respondents said they spend a “substantial” amount of time on are: incident response triage/prioritization and compliance management for the U.S.; firewall configurations and out-of-process changes for EMEA; compliance management and security changes for APAC.
  • Security teams need help, with most organizations admiting they need to make major improvements in how they manage security and policy. The biggest improvements are needed in how organizations decommission applications: 72 percent of respondents in the U.S., 67 percent in EMEA and 54 percent in APAC say they do it “poorly or moderately. ”Security teams also need help pruning firewall rules so that rule sets do not become bloated, with 67 percent in the U.S., 78 percent in EMEA and 48 percent in APAC saying they do it “poorly or moderately.” Ironically, these are areas where automation can make a huge impact.
  • Automation is an impetus for cloud migration. It’s no surprise that for many companies, migration to the cloud is having a significant impact on the automation of security policy changes. This is most notable in APAC where 43 percent of organizations said cloud is impacting the automation of security policy changes. Survey results also show that the vast majority of organizations are working on initiatives focused on security automation to support cloud environments.

“The good news: security leaders have started on their automation journey,” said Sean Keef, Skybox Director of Product Marketing. “However, the results of this survey show us that many companies have a long way to go. It seems security leaders are still trying to understand where they’re going to get the most value out of automation, while also ensuring they’re not putting the organization at risk. There are many areas, however, where it is absolutely essential to implement automation — and, in fact, where the automation reduces risk. For example, collecting/gathering data for attack surface visibility and modeling, network change management and rule lifecycle management. Networks are simply becoming too large and complex to manage manually. If you’re not already working with a vendor in these areas, you should start looking for one.”

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Asia Pacific Predator League 2020 Postponed Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

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Acer announced that the Asia Pacific Predator League 2020 will be postponed to spring 2021 in the Philippines due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The health and safety of the gaming community remains Acer’s primary concerns, and the company has been working closely with public health authorities and their advisories.

The same qualifying teams from the local preliminary competitions will attend the finale in Spring 2021, and the event has been renamed as Predator League 2020/2021 with a prize pool of US$400,000.

“The postponement of the Asia Pacific Predator League, instead of a cancellation, demonstrates Acer’s commitment to the gaming community,” said Andrew Hou, President of Acer Pan Asia Pacific Regional Operations. “With the ongoing Covid-19 situation, we made the decision to move the competition to Spring 2021 for the safety and best interests of the tournament’s competitors, fans, spectators and staff.”

Almost 20,000 tickets have already been sold for the tournament, which was originally scheduled to take place in Manila, Philippines in February 2020 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City in Manila. A total of 17 regions entered the local qualifier competitions held from October 2019.

The inaugural Asia Pacific Predator League was held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018 to reinforce the Predator brand’s commitment to supporting the gaming industry in the region. The second edition in 2019 was held at Nimibutr Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand, watched by over 10,000 fans in real-time. It garnered 4.3 million views online and the peak concurrent viewership reached 123,000.

All contestants will be directly contacted with notices of important updates and when a new date has been established. Follow Acer’s social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep updated on the latest developments Asia Pacific Predator League 2020/2021.

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Microsoft Honored Team Hollo as the Winner of 2020 Imagine Cup World Championship

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Microsoft announced Team Hollo from Hong Kong as the World Champion for the 2020 Imagine Cup who won the grand prize for their mental health companion web app leveraging Azure analytics and AI services to advance youth therapy practices. This is the first time in the 18-year history of the competition that a team from Hong Kong has won the top prize. Runner-up teams include Team Syrinx from Japan and Team Tremor Vision from the United States. Team Syrinx created a neck wearable EL (Electrolarynx) that restores the ability to speak for people who have lost their voices and Team Tremor Vision developed a web-based tool that enables physicians to detect early-onset Parkinson’s and quantitatively track patient progress.

Held at the Microsoft Build digital event,  Team Hollo won USD100,000, a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and USD50,000 in Azure grants. Hollo is a digital mental health companion and therapist, used to enhance practices by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and therapists through an AI chatbot. It leverages Big Data and AI to introduce youth to therapy and counseling practices through online gamified journaling and mindfulness activities. Data from the AI chatbots and journaling can then be collected to generate actionable findings. This scalable model aims to cut the heavy cost of mental health care for youth to make support more accessible and supplements existing self-help techniques and therapy practices.

“Mental health is a really significant problem faced by society around the world, affecting so many especially in 2020. We’re so excited to win the Imagine Cup World Championship because it will allow us to continue working on this innovative mental health platform and technology. Our journey has definitely reaffirmed our belief that going forward, this is something viable and has the potential to save lives,” said Team Hollo.

The 18th annual Imagine Cup competition saw thousands of students across the world submitting innovations to impact their communities, both locally and globally. This year’s innovative and inclusive solutions submitted by teams tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges in healthcare, agriculture, media, and more.

We’re always so impressed and humbled to see the projects these young developers have created, this year is no different! Their innovations aim to address issues in their communities and are focused on bringing the world together. With the competition moving into a virtual format for the very first time, it was inspiring to see how the teams came together to pitch their projects to the judges at Microsoft Build’s inaugural digital event,” said Jennifer Ritzinger, General Manager, Audience Evangelism, Microsoft.

Six finalist teams from Asia, EMEA and the Americas were selected to move forward to the World Championship, after advancing through hackathons, and online semifinals by presenting their innovations via Teams at virtual regional event in their respective regions.

The top three teams — Team Hollo, Team Syrinx and Team Tremor Vision – gave an in-depth presentation of their solutions, which were assessed for their diversity, originality, and innovative design.

This year’s online judging panel consisted of Microsoft executives and innovation experts with technology, diversity, and social change-centered experiences:

  • Dwana Franklin-Davis, CEO of Reboot Representation, a tech innovator, and leader who has worked to empower underrepresented groups in technology
  • The CyberCode Twins, America and Penelope Lopez, young innovators who have participated in tech competitions across the world and hope to introduce other students to opportunities in the field
  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft Corp, who leads work on a wide range of issues involving the intersection of technology and society, including ethics and AI, human rights, and environmental sustainability.

Watch the show to experience the moment when Team Hollo is crowned champion! Registration for the 2021 competition is also now open for students and young developers to sign up today! For more information on the competition and the participating teams, please visit the Microsoft blog.

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Kaspersky’s Founder and CEO Launches ‘Kaspersky Exploring Russia’ Program

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Eugene Kaspersky is a world-renowned pioneering expert-entrepreneur in cybersecurity. But Eugene also has a hobby, which has turned into more of a lifestyle: he’s a passionate traveler and dedicated devotee of wild nature and adventure-tourism. Eugene travels all over the globe, but most of all he enjoys exploring his native Russia by visiting the country’s hidden gems.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the tourism industry especially hard. It damaged not only existing business, but also upcoming projects and plans. Tourist industry companies are now deprived both of any support from the larger actors and even an opportunity to promote themselves to launch new projects. In order to support startups and Russia’s domestic tourism, Eugene Kaspersky is launching the online-accelerator Kaspersky Exploring Russia.

The accelerator has the aim of gathering the most interesting and promising tourism projects and then to help their creators implement their ideas further. After all, projects like these and the enthusiasts behind them made Eugene fall in love with traveling around Russia in the first place. And now it is high time for him to give something back by helping their planned projects become a reality.

Commenting on the new online accelerator program, Eugene said: ‘This COVID-19 pandemic is a tragic experience for everyone. But it has also brought so much unity: people have started helping each other. Meanwhile we’re continuing our main job – maintaining security in cyberspace – but we’ve decided to also help out companies that are suffering the most. And we’re going to do that by giving them a chance to fulfill their plans and use this period for the maximum benefit. Our team, including me personally, is going to assist the projects by using our media- and marketing tools. Also, our accelerator will help with attracting investment. Participants will get a chance to present themselves in front of relevant companies, businesspeople and funds. Needless to say, the pandemic is going to change the tourism industry, but it doesn’t mean people won’t have the desire to travel and explore. And in this situation, the ones who will benefit will be those who use this crisis period wisely – and be able to offer the market new approaches and projects”.

Being Russia-oriented, tourism-related – and smart! – is basically all that a project needs to be in order to be enrolled in the Kaspersky Exploring Russia program. Participants don’t even need to have a fully operating business, and their projects may exist merely as ideas in their creators’ minds. There are also no geographical or national restrictions: participants may be from any country.

Participants will be categorized into four nominations:

  • Technological projects (start-ups) in the field of Travel Tech
  • Projects that make extreme and leisure tourism more accessible, and that also popularize and create infrastructure for it (Infrastructure Track)
  • Business projects that are socially significant in the fields of travel and tourism (Social Tech)
  • Business projects that have a positive impact on sustainable development (Sustainability)

The jury – consisting of Eugene himself, Kaspersky representatives, and leading experts in tourism – will select a shortlist of the most promising projects.

Finalists will get a chance to gain more knowledge on a series of online workshops and lectures. Leading experts in the industry will share their experiences and explain how to create a successful business. The finalists will learn everything from how to calculate a financial plan to how to apply a marketing strategy. During the program, finalist will not only compete for the main prizes, but also they will be helping themselves attract investment. Even the lecturers themselves could become so interested in projects to start supporting them. Moreover, the accelerator program will serve as a communication platform for young entrepreneurs to get in contact with key people.

The winners will be announced and awarded by Eugene himself. The gold medalist will be awarded an online education grant directly relevant to their project. Those coming second will be awarded PR and marketing support for their projects. The participants taking third place will be awarded software subscriptions tailored to solve their business needs.

Throughout the duration of the program, the most inspiring ideas will be mentioned on Eugene Kaspersky and tourism influencers’ social media channels. They will also get PR opportunities in tourism-related media.

Eugene Kaspersky hopes this initiative will help talented entrepreneurs acquire new knowledge and skills. He wishes it will help them find investors for their projects become a reality, and thus will boost the tourism industry. In addition to that, he hopes Russia will reveal itself in a new light – for both domestic and international travelers.

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