Open Source: From Great Technology to Greater Intelligence

By Leon Ward, Product Manager, Advanced Malware Protection: Network, Cisco Security Group

The financial services industry has embraced the adoption and use of open source software and according to software and consulting firm Black Duck, up to 75% of the code supporting a UK investment bank’s trading application is commonly based on free and open-source software. Only 18% of the code is proprietary, it says. And analysts say that adoption in financial services is poised to increase further as cost pressures grow.

In turning to open source, the financial services sector is following a path trodden by other regulated industries – healthcare and government IT, for example – which are attracted to open software development models by promises of cost control and increased innovation.

The origins of Open Source can be traced back to the software developer community that evolved around the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the 1960s and 1970s. In those early days, all software was shared freely amongst the academics and enthusiasts who wanted to build great software to address new challenges.  As technology adoption spread in the 90s, interest in the ‘open’ approach continued to grow as users also recognised the value side of the equation. Not only were they gaining access to software that had the benefit of a community of engaged and interested minds working together to continuously improve it, but open source saved costs by opening the market for support and maintenance of the code. As corporate networks expanded another benefit emerged. Open source enabled agility.  Organisations could more easily integrate complementary applications and services into their environments to respond to new business imperatives and expand capabilities for their users.

More recently, in the context of cybersecurity, open source is a very effective way to solve complex problems because it creates real collaboration and trust between vendors and the experts that are tasked with addressing advanced and aggressive IT security threats.

Modern corporate networks extend beyond the traditional perimeter to include data centres, endpoints, virtual, mobile and the cloud. These networks and their components constantly evolve and spawn new attack vectors including: mobile devices, web-enabled and mobile applications, hypervisors, social media, web browsers and home computers. Attackers are taking advantage of gaps in protection to accomplish their mission. They also go to great lengths to remain undetected, using technologies and methods that result in nearly imperceptible indicators of compromise.

Open source is a valuable tool for defenders as they work to close these gaps and to gather greater intelligence about potential threats to make better decisions and take action. Let’s take a closer look at the role of open source in these two areas.

Closing security gaps. Reducing the attack surface is essential as organisations strive to protect against the latest sophisticated threats. Waiting for updates from vendors to close vulnerabilities isn’t realistic when high-value assets are at stake and attacks are relentless. For organisations creating their own custom applications, the ability to detect and protect these applications is even more challenging. An open approach can help organisations close security gaps faster with the ability to create protections on their own or apply shared best practices and tools.

Gaining greater intelligence. To deal with dynamic environments organisations need access to global intelligence, with the right context, to identify vulnerabilities and take immediate action. An open architecture facilitates the sharing of real-time threat intelligence and protections across a vast community of users for collective immunity. It also streamlines integration with other layers of security defences added as IT environments and business requirements change, thus enabling more effective, coordinated protection.

In the realm of technology, open source has a long history and its applications and benefits will continue to evolve and grow.  The findings of the 2013 Future of Open Source Survey state that increasingly enterprises across the board see open source as leading innovation, delivering higher quality and business driving growth. Based on the tenets of community, collaboration and trust, it is an approach that delivers stronger solutions, addresses complex problems and demonstrates technical excellence, innovation and dependability.

Technology – the marketing team’s (not so) secret weapon

By Mike England, content director, Connected Business Expo

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the modern organisation – from enhancing efficiency and enabling a flexible workforce, to daily operations and meeting objectives, both on a localised departmental level and on a broader, strategic level. In the marketing arena particularly technology can be used to assist an organisation in a number of ways, including developing a better customer experience, using various sources of data to better understand customers’ needs, and creating a more agile team.

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SMEs Flock to the Cloud – Changing the Way We Work

By Richard Reggel, Head of Cloud Services, WeWorkEverywhere

In today’s technology centric world organisations of all sizes are turning to remote working to drive forward their businesses. Increasingly we are living in an always-on, mobile world where the need to work from anywhere, using any device, is critical. A recent report by IDC says that SMB cloud spending will grow by nearly 20% over the next five years. The report also cites web hosting and hosted email as early examples of cloud computing that were fully embraced by  many SMBs prior to the popularisation of the term ‘cloud computing’.

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IT Managers Struggling To See Through All-Flash Storage Myths

By Gavin McLaughlin, Solutions Development Director, X-IO

UK businesses are being bamboozled by overhyped marketing myths about the performance, reliability and power consumption of all-flash storage arrays despite practical evidence and common-sense arguments to the contrary.

According to a recent survey, close to three-quarters (74%) of IT managers have a rose-tinted view of all-flash storage, despite misgivings about the cost, risk and general lack of need for all-flash arrays.

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Combating The Rise Of Cyber Security

By Jon Milward, Operations Director, Northdoor

In 2011, cybercrime caused damages of up to £3.37 million to small businesses in the UK, which on average cost small businesses £5,400 per cyber-attack. However, the UK Home Office recently reported that in 2012 companies with less than 20 employees spent £200 a year on cybersecurity prevention tools. In contrast companies with 50-100 employees spent roughly £4,000 per year on IT security and companies with 100+ employees spent double that sum costing them £10,000 per year.

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It’s The Business; CIOs Demand More Strategic Suppliers

By Charles Bligh, Managing Director, TalkTalk Business

It takes many elements to make any relationship work – and CIOs and the ICT channel are no exception to the rule. Delivering timely, cost effective solutions may form the foundation of the CIO and channel relationship, but business understanding and strategic input undoubtedly have major parts to play too. The Integrate Britain report, a study conducted by Ovum, and commissioned by TalkTalk Business, found that over half (57%) of UK CIOs would like to see their ICT partners show more business awareness.

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Why Are Digital Skills So Important?

By Claire West, Fresh Business Thinking
“I think I’ve been on record as saying before that you can’t be a proper citizen if you don’t know how to use the internet and I mean by that, that you are missing out on so many of the benefits of being online. So, we know that you save money online, you’re more likely to get work, your children will do better at school, you’ll feel more connected to people around you, so, I think it’s incredibly important that we make sure as many people as possible are able to enjoy all of the massive benefits of the web.” Martha Lane Fox 

Challenges To Your IP In The 3D Printer World

By Kim Walker, Partner, Thomas Eggar

3D print technology has been used for complex engineering design by specialist companies for over 15 years.  Greater availability and affordability of 3D printing has sparked a ‘revolution’, the implications of which are said to be “limitless” as all that is needed is a printer, software, raw materials and a design.

This shift in control of production means that designers, owners and those that carry out 3D printing need to be aware of the way in which intellectual property rights will be created, how these should be protected, when they might be infringed and what remedies are available.

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Payments and Collections Factory – Realising the Cost Benefits

By Richard Ransom, Product Marketing Manager, Payments, Bottomline Technologies

Centralised Model

Over the past few years, growing numbers of international organisations have begun to explore opportunities for consolidating diverse accounting functions globally into a single, centralised Payments Factory. Operating in-house or via a third party bureau, the model typically handles a raft of payment instruments, using the SWIFT network to make both wire and bulk domestic and international payments.

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