The Race to Adopt AI

Artificial Intelligence. A buzzword that immediately makes us picture self-aware computer networks taking over the world, or highly intelligent robots waging war against humanity itself. Thankfully, this is well beyond the realms of reality and still a thing of science fiction. The idea that AI is somehow a hostile piece of technology that could potentially destroy the world as we know it is a widespread misconception. A misconception fueled by captivated human minds and spread across to the general public, the technology industry and even within academic communities. But this does not mean AI is not among us. On the contrary, Artificial Intelligence has well and truly arrived, and is changing the world as we know it, for the better.

Think of AI as a tool to serve us. Although not quite apparent, it has already crept into our everyday life in various forms such as Virtual Personal Assistants, aspects of Online Customer Support, advertising and even video games just to name a few. Companies have realized it’s potential and have already invested millions into AI research for underlying business integration. But the fact of the matter is, AI is still at its infancy, and the waters are still largely untested. So the question remains, what will it take for industry wide adoption?

The early movers in AI are the usual suspects. The cutting-edge, cash-rich tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon and companies like Netflix to a lesser degree, have caught mainstream attention with their AI research. Not so long ago, Google’s AlphaGo managed to beat the Go world champion. The significance lies in the possibility of a more widespread set of use cases for the technology that made it all possible. In contrast, Deep Blue the chess engine that famously beat Garry Kasaprov was really good at chess, but useless at everything else. Amazon is not only transforming eCommerce, but is also pushing towards the grocery industry through its emerging initiative Amazon Go. The idea is to eliminate the need for a traditional checkout system with the help of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. Microsoft, another big player in the field of AI is actively pursuing a General Artificial Intelligence that can effectively address problems in a range of different areas. The tech giants have taken the first steps, but keenly watching on the sidelines are the smaller, less tech-savvy firms trying to identify what might be genuinely valuable for them, going into the future. After all for businesses, AI adoption boils down to whether it can provide a good ROI.

In futurist William Gibson’s own words, “The future has arrived — it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” Clearly, AI adoption is not going to be uniform across business sectors. But what is widely agreed upon and is of paramount importance is that business owners do not ignore it. Promising research has shown the potential for disruptive changes in fields such as healthcare, transportation, marketing, manufacturing, entertainment and even climate change. It is important to try and stay ahead of the curve or be at risk of losing out in the long run. Having said that, there are still very real hurdles that has to be overcome for AI to reach its true potential across all industries. One such challenge lies in the very lifeblood of AI, that is data.

Data powers AI. Training algorithms to be good at something requires volumes and volumes of data. So it is no coincidence that the leading AI researchers in the industry have troves of continuously evolving data at their disposal. Facebook has publicly announced that it processes 2.5 billion pieces of content and 500+ terabytes of data each day. Google has billions of search queries running through its servers on any given day. The sheer volume, growth, and accessibility of data in recent years have been a driving factor towards the advancements seen in the field of Artificial Intelligence. However moving forward, this is a major source of bottleneck for industries and business sectors that are less focused on digitized, data-driven work. Not every company has the capacity or the means to gather and store data at the level of say, Facebook or Google. Not every business sector generates large enough quantities of data that could be channeled towards AI development. Take healthcare for example. Diagnosis support for doctors is an area that has seen significant progress in recent years. But gathering the data required to further this research has proved to be problematic. Partly, the problem is ethical due to the sensitive nature of patient data that might be required for research work. Another problem lies in the traditional nature of the industry, which has not embraced digitization as readily as some others have. The end result is, of course, data lacking in both quantity and quality.

Today, AI is poised at an interesting position. The world has come to realize the potential impact it could have on a wide range of fields, yet does not completely understand where the roads could lead to. There’s exciting developments but the biggest opportunities are still untapped. Some companies have taken giant leaps while some have taken more conservative approaches. The immediate future may churn out solutions to business problems that will require substantial pilot programs before being industry ready. Statistics show that although many business leaders believe a massive cross-industry impact is possible, there is still a sense of reluctance within businesses to move into early adoption. Reasons for this could range from budgetary restrictions to availability of in-house talent and talent acquisition.

The bottom line is, in Artificial Intelligence we have a general-purpose technology with the potential to change the world as we know it. What this change may bring along is still up for debate.  Expert opinions range from a fully fledged sentient Artificial Super Intelligence to more realistic real-world applications. The trajectory of AI is such that neither can be disregarded. But what we do know is the journey ahead promises to be one of a lifetime. So let’s enjoy the ride.

Focus Areas and Trends for the 2018 CIO

A new fiscal year has come and businesses have started – or finished to – re-evaluate their approach for the upcoming year. CIOs, just like in previous years, have started to slowly come out of their shells and become more active towards business-related aspects. They’re not just the guys in charge of the PC systems anymore and in this article, we explore as to what are the expected trends we should expect from our 2018 CIOs.

Given technology’s extremely fast paced advancements, you can almost expect that amongst the company’s organization structure, the CIO would have the most dynamic role. The CEO may have the most daunting of names, but the CIO would have to be flexible in the name of the ever changing environment.

From being a delivery executive to a business executive, the workplace has started to expect a more hands-on CIO when it comes to managerial duties. This includes being concerned with reducing costs, exploiting data centers for profit, and reevaluating processes to increase revenue. This change in trend is not a sudden shift and actually, 78 percent of CIOs are becoming more adaptable and welcoming to change in their respective IT organizations.

Most of the change comes from digitalization or the use of technology to alter business models to create more avenues for revenue and opportunities. Embracing this would certainly mean an inevitable shift of priorities such as:

  • IT-outcome to Business-outcome
  • Assisting or taking orders to compelling or being collaborative
  • Cost control to revenue building
  • Sourcing to creating
  • Within the box of IT to everywhere in the workplace

What we can takeaway from here is that the workplace is broadening the CIO’s role from being just focused on the company’s IT structure to being more involved and proactive towards its business decisions. Doing this harnesses one of the most valuable thing in the business world – growth. Growth is still the most prioritized business objective amongst companies.

However, despite the obvious favorite – focusing on the other business objectives namely:

  • Digitalization to reap economies of scale
  • Profitability
  • Innovation, research & development, new products
  • Customer focusing
  • Possible mergers, acquisition, and transaction that would bring in a new pool of talent

Albeit indirect, these would still provide areas for growth. Also since IT budgets across the world have increased between 2.0 percent to 5.1 percent, there is funding available to support such growth. However, it is worth noting that companies could perhaps allot some of this budget towards strengthening cybersecurity as 95 percent of CIOs expect threats to continue and increase.

Growth means larger and more output. Companies strive to attain this through economies of scale where larger production derives a lower cost. However, this can be tricky for companies to achieve and would mean rethinking their business model and “jumping the curve”. They have to innovate processes in order to avoid stagnancy and being left out.

By 2020, it is expected that half of company sales would come from digital business – and executives are aware of this.

As seen on the chart, companies in several industries all believe that digitalization has a wider impact on their sales than it did on prior years with them estimating that share of products sold online account for more or less half of their total sales. While industries such as industrial products are harder to market online, telecommunications and retail figures show that online shopping is becoming more and more accepted as an avenue for revenue.

This itself already shows that business objectives would inevitably lean towards the hands of the CIOs as who else is better fit to guide the company towards this innovation but them.

The digital world is anything but lacking from innovation however CIOs face walls whenever they attempt to jump into the larger waters. CIOs cite a broad-based culture change and their imposed job objectives as some of the ‘bricks’ they have to tear down in order to facilitate scale improvements.

This is where the trend shift comes in. CIOs have started to spend more time on executive leadership now than from previous years. In addition, their priorities also imply where they would spend their time the most. While BI/analytics takes the cake on being prioritized the most, digitalization and cloud services are also up there. However, there have been discrepancies between the priorities of tech companies relative to their performance in the industry.

Top-performing companies pay less attention to customer relationships perhaps due to the fact that they’re more established in the marketplace and thus, they do not need to allot more resources towards retaining or gaining market position. They are also able to explore the ever-so-fascinating artificial intelligence where there are still a lot of room for growth. On the other hand, trailing companies focus on enterprise resource planning which tends to focus more on the company’s core business processes which, given their standing, might have more areas of improvement. But regardless these differences, the CIOs’ inclination towards BI/analytics imply that they have started to become more ingrained towards business growth.

With all these possible shifts and trends for 2018, it would seem as if change is coming. Despite its inevitability, 78 percent of CIOs say that they’re armed and ready, mainly due to digitalization. If there is a time to accept the shift with an open arm, now is the time to do so. There is so much talent and opportunity to become pioneers in the industry. Scaling the business has never looked so friendlier with all the advancements in technology. It is now the time to build up your team to become more resilient and adaptive towards the ever changing industry. Of course there still are doubts but having an open mindset is the start of something promising. It would suck to be left behind peer companies so leadership teams should start becoming more accommodating on what is bound to happen.

CIOs are no longer just expected to build and create. They are now expected to integrate services and produce efficiency in all the aspect of the business. CIOs need to invest in technologies that are able to provide such services that will in turn have an impact on the IT organization. So get ready to see more of your CIOs in action and discussion and more proactive in the business cycle.



The most common of modern cyber attacks that your business could face in 2018 and ways to avoid them.

There is the Great Isabel; the Little Isabel, which is round; and Hermosa, which is the smallest.

The 2017 news base was dominated by cyber threats, cyber crimes, breaches and more. At every turn of the page you were overwhelmed with headlines surrounding breaches of major companies, viral ransomware and leaks of spy tools from U.S. intelligence agencies.

Unfortunately, 2018 seems likely to be another year of threats across the board. The mission for all involved in the security space is to constantly educate, share and empower one another to be prepared for what is ahead.

2018 brings a plethora of security issues – each more fascinating and challenging than the last:

Non-Malware Attacks

The future of client-side malware attacks is fileless. And it would appear the future has arrived with a growing number of attacks using fileless or in-memory malware to pose a threat to business that’s increasingly difficult to neutralize. Fileless malware infects targeted computers while leaving nothing behind on the local hard drive. This makes it incredibly easy to sidestep traditional signature based security. During the past year, fileless attacks have been on the rise. According to the SANS 2017 Threat Landscape Survey, one-third of organizations surveyed reported facing fileless attacks in 2017.

In 2017 attackers managed to hit 140 enterprises, including banks, telecoms, and government organizations, with the fileless malware. The organizations were primarily in the U.S., U.K., and Ecuador but firms in Brazil, Tunisia, Turkey, France, Spain and, and Spain were also compromised. Researchers described how the attackers used the malware to gain a firmer foothold into bank’s systems and cash out.

New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell, NJCCIC says: “The NJCCIC assesses with high confidence that fileless and ‘non-malware’ intrusion tactics pose high risk to organizations, both public and private, and will be increasingly employed by capable threat actors intent on stealing data or establishing persistence on networks to support ongoing espionage objectives or to enable future acts of sabotage.”

What can you do now? Here is a good start:

  • Make a shift in end-user awareness
  • Disabling the use of PowerShell on networks
  • Monitor more closely outbound traffic
  • Trace it back to applications making those requests.

Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks in 2017 were only the beginning of the growing trend. These attacks seek to damage an organization by targeting less-secure elements in the supply network. Much like social engineering, these supply chain attacks exploit a trust relationship between a software (or hardware) vendor and its customers.

CloudHopper, CCleaner, ShadowPad, Kingslayer, PyPi and M.E.Doc – many of which targeted software aimed at IT administrators and software developers Reports of these attacks are likely to increase in 2018 as new names enter the hacking world. Supply chain attacks are not new, however, the frequency is reason enough to cause concern.

What can you do now? Here is a good start:

  • Create a process of strict control of your institution’s supply network in order to prevent potential damage from cybercriminals
  • Ensure that all applications receive their updates over secure encrypted channels

Phishing Attacks

Phishing Attacks – usually comprised of a malicious email attachment or an email with an embedded, malicious link are the primary vector for malware attacks. Luckily, if you know what you’re looking for, they are easy to detect. However, phishing is far from over.

Some 2017 highlights – source: Info-Security Magazine

  • 1 in 25 for Qatar – A nation of just 2.3 million people saw its businesses and residents hit not just by one major attack, but more than 93,570 phishing events in a three-month span at the start of the year. Such attacks leveraged both email and SMS texts as attack vectors.
  • An Eastern-European cyber-criminal group sent “malware laden” emails to Chipotle staff that compromised Point of Sale systems at most Chipotle locations, obtain customer credit card data from millions of people in the process.


  • After months of uncertainty, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the arrest of a Lithuanian man for allegedly stealing $100 million from two U.S.-based tech companies. The attacker targeted attack successfully used a phishing email to induce employees into wiring the money to overseas bank accounts under his control.

What can you do now? Here is a good start:

  • Training and awareness
  • Strict management on admin access
  • Invest in web protection, email protection, mobile device management, password management etc.

If there is one thing that 2017 should have taught us, it is that attacks are becoming more complex, more advanced and can happen to anyone. Opening the dialogue and empowering our peers to educate and plan accordingly is not only the best course of action – it is possibly the only one!

Cryptoasset Investing: Privacy & Taxes

The Efficient Approach to Investment in Cryptoassets

The innovative crypto investor knows maintaining full autonomy over their cryptoassets is crucial to long-term performance of their portfolio.

Let’s take a look at some interesting progressions on the front of taxation & privacy of blockchain transactions…

Taxation Strategy for Cryptoasset Capital Gains

When there are massive amounts of money being made, you can expect the government to be following to collect their share. Regardless of where you stand on the debate of taxation of cryptocurrency gains, this will be a crucial theme in 2018, especially as we approach April in the United States (and tax season elsewhere).

One of the innovative solutions to efficient tax strategy can be borrowed from a common transaction used in the real estate world.

Source: Crush Crypto — An Analysis of SALT

Rather than selling the underlying asset and realizing a capital gains event, which will ultimately run you about 30% in taxes off of the profit, one can borrow against that asset instead (in order to generate the CF they are seeking). By putting the crypto-asset in escrow and taking a loan out against the value of that asset, the investor avoids a taxable event. This is a great solution for individuals who have amassed sizeable gains but are looking to access fiat capital for any number of reasons.

Now this sounds great and all but can anyone actually do this?

Up until now, there have been very few traditional lenders willing to loan against the value of crypto-assets. Enter SALT Lending (SALT). The following overview is from SALT’s newly-launched platform: “SALT lets you leverage your blockchain assets to secure cash loans. We make it easy to get money without having to sell your favorite investment”.

Privacy of Blockchain Transactions

One of the alluring features of crypto-assets to early adopters was the privacy of transactions. Being able to send and receive transactions off the radar from traditional regulators resulted in black market behavior, however it also served practical applications for users who were not using the privacy for illicit purposes.

As the infrastructure of the crypto industry has been built, gradually the built-in privacy features of coins like Bitcoin have been eroded.

Why exactly did that occur?

Well for individuals in the US, the easiest way to purchase cryptocurrency is through an exchange like CoinBase. In order to open an account and purchase any crypto, the user needs to provide a fair amount of personal information. Such information can and will be used to identify and track users’ capital. This results in a trade-off between ease of use (convenience) and privacy.

Privacy will be a central theme for 2018. Decentralized Blockchains with native crypto-assets should continue to thrive. As users begin to value the feature of a fully private blockchain, there will be a natural flow of capital into privacy-centric assets.

Although there are a number of other privacy centric crypto-assets, Monero (XMR) is my personal favorite at the moment. By using ring signatures and one-off public wallet addresses, Monero ensures that both the user sending and receiving a transaction do not have information related to the transaction stored on the public blockchain which can be traced back. For those of you looking to dig a little deeper, check out this piece on “How Monero’s Privacy Works”.

Source:BTC Manager

Monero has built a reputation as an industry leader, in terms of its development team, community and most important the gold-standard for completely private transactions.

One of the notable drawbacks of Monero has been a lack of support from hardware wallets, making storage of Monero difficult and insecure (as compared to cold storage). However, the Monero team has been hacking away furiously at this issue and we can expect Monero to be compatible with hardware wallets in 2018.

Go to the profile of Thomas L. McLaughlin

25 Top Attacks And Data Breaches That Took Us by Storm in 2017


  1. NHS Cyber Attack: UK’s NHS was attacked by a tool, known as EternalBlue, which affected trusts, GP practices, and hospitals across the nation. The cyber-attack cancelled tens of thousands of appointments and disrupted hospital systems that led to staff resorting to pen and paper as means of administration. Read More
  2. HBO: HBO’s systems were compromised and 1.5 terabytes of data, including episodes of TV shows, were stolen. Read More
  3. Ukraine Cyber Attack: Ukraine was struck with a malware, called wiper, that completely deleted its victims’ hard drives. This disrupted businesses and users were asked to pay USD 300 in bitcoin to regain access to their PCs. Read More
  4. Maersk Cyber Attack: Shipping giant AP Moeller-Maersk was infected by a computer virus which caused outages in its systems and severely affected their operations. Their unloading of vessels at Tacoma port was slowed down after the attack. Read More
  5. Deloitte: Deloitte, one of the biggest auditing firms, was hacked and confidential emails and plans of their blue-chip clients were compromised. It went unnoticed for months.  Read More
  6. FedEx TNT Express: FedEx’s subsidiary, TNT division, had its computer systems compromised by a ransomware outbreak. It would cost the company USD300 million to restore their IT operations. Read More
  7. BadRabbit Russia: Private individuals were warned on the virus called BadRabbit, a ransomware that locks up computers and asks users to pay for the return of access. Read More
  8. Equifax : 700,000 Equifax consumers were compromised by a breach of data which accessed their personal details – including credit card details, phone numbers, and even license number. Read More
  9. Scottish Parliament: Scottish Parliament’s computer systems were attacked and hackers were attempting to access email accounts through cracking their passwords, which resulted in some users getting locked out of their accounts. Read More
  10. Uber: A breach of Uber’s 57 million customers personal information was acknowledged by the company in 2017. They also confirmed that they paid hackers USD100,000 to keep mum and delete the data collected. Read More
  11. Deutsche Telekom: Deutsche Telekom had 900,000 of its routers hijacked which stopped owners and users from going online. A 29-yr-old British man has confessed to carrying out the attack. The estimated cost of the attack was said to be around EUR2 million. Read More
  12. Pornhub: Users of the adult site Pornhub were in danger of contracting a malware as hackers hijacked the websites adverts. The attack was known as malvertising which attracted users to click on a fake advert which allowed the hackers to infect the user’s PC with an ad fraud malware. Read More
  13. NiceHash: NiceHash, a Slovenian bitcoin mining marketplace, was hacked and nearly USD 64 million worth of bitcoin was stolen. According to the people in NiceHash, “a highly professional attack with sophisticated social engineering’ was employed by the hackers to get into their system and steal 4,700 bitcoins. Read More
  14. Wall Street Hack: Wall Street’s regulator admitted that its database of corporate announcement – from the EDGAR filing system – was breached. The hack, which was hushed by the SEC, were thought to be used by cyber criminals to do insider trading. Read More
  15. Yahoo!: Yahoo! Released new figures following their 2013 data breach wherein they admitted that data associated to 3 billion of their user accounts were compromised. Account information such as names, emails, phone numbers, hashed passwords, security questions, and answers were stolen by hackers. Read More
  16. Dallas Siren Hack: Dallas Texas’ 156 emergency sirens were hacked and simultaneously triggered. The noise lasted for 90 seconds which resulted in over 4,000 calls to 911. Read More
  17. Imgur: Imgur admitted to a security breach which compromised their users’ emails and passwords. The company said that they never ask for names, phones, and addresses. While the breach occurred 3 years ago, the company only realized its occurrence this year. Read More
  18. Vevo: Vevo, Sony Music, and several other media platforms were hacked. Roughly 3.12 terabytes of files were taken and then posted online for public viewing. OurMine hackers have claimed the breach. Read More
  19. WikiLeaks: WikiLeaks was attacked by OurMine hackers and they took over their webpage. They carried out a DNS poisoning where links to their website would lead to a page created by the hackers. Read More
  20. Coachella:  Coachella was a victim of a large data breach where festival-goers’ information, including full names, emails, phone, and birthdates, were accessed by hackers. Read More
  21. Instagram: Instagram warned users that hackers may have exploited a bug in the app’s API. While only high profile users were targeted, the hackers stole email addresses and phone numbers. Read More
  22. Microsoft: Hackers, who are now detained by police, have been trying to infiltrate the Microsoft network seeking to steal customer data. Read More
  23. Pizza Hut: Pizza Hut informed customers that personal information stored in their systems have been compromised. A security intrusion gained hackers access to numerous names, billing ZIP codes, addresses, emails, and credit card information. Read More
  24. EtherDelta CryptoCurrency: EtherDelta, a cryptocurrency exchange site, told its users to not open their site due to a malicious attack that gave users risk of having their virtual currencies stolen. The hacker faked the webpage’s facade and was then able to gather information from users logging in. Read More
  25. Korean Bitcoin Exchange Yapizon: Another bitcoin exchange in South Korea, Yapizon, was compromised and had 3,800 bitcoins in customer funds stolen. Read More