RSA 2020

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While attendance at the 2020 RSA Conference might have been down; the quality of the sessions and the opportunities to meet amazing people was undiminished. With a reported 36,000 attendees, 704 speakers and 658 exhibitors, RSA 2020 maintained its position as a world leading cyber convention. No small feat given the Covid-19 pandemic that led to the last minute withdrawal of such big names as IBM, AT&T and Verizon.

For a complete catalogue of the key sessions visit the RSA Conference Youtube Channel. In the meantime, here is a small selection of the sessions that got the Spectra team excited – now is a good time to reflect on these predictions as we all consider and prepare for a post-Covid-19 world., an AI-Powered Privacy Ops company that helps automate all major functions needed for privacy compliance, son of the Innovation Sandbox competition. Since the start of the contest 15 years ago, the top 10 finalists have collectively seen 56 acquisitions and received $6.2 billion in financing. Such is the quality of the competition and the growth of AI / ML and automation in cyber security.

In his keynote, Reality Check: The Story of Cybersecurity, the president of RSA was clear that humans will always matter in cybersecurity despite technologies continued advance. However, he urged that the narrative needs to move towards cyber-resilience. Cyber- and Operational Resilience and Impact Tolerance is a service that Spectra Analytics has been offering for some time. It is good to see that the world is awakening to this key development in thinking.

The Cryptographers’ Panel explored the pressing issues facing the industry today. The discussion points included GDPR and CCPA, the ethical uses of AI, democracy-election security and the rise of blockchain.

Hacking Exposed: Global Threat Brief explored the most novel attacks in the current global threat landscape, diving into specific, real-time examples of threat actor activity from both nation-states and criminal groups.

Navigating Privacy in a Data-Driven World: Treating Privacy as a Human Right, discussed why privacy is a basic human right in a growing technocratic world. Society is at a tipping point due to high-tech drones and biometric clothing. As the world becomes more advanced, society must adjust. Will new legislation really protect citizen privacy?

On the Edge of Something Big: Security’s Next Frontier ML and AI are now woven into security network environments and demonstrating utility in the autonomous cyber security management, saving critical resources and enabling focus on strategic concerns.

Collaborating to Improve Open Source Security: How the Ecosystem Is Stepping Up A useful open source security discussion on the efforts across industry and open source communities which covered projects such as the software bill of materials, and shared best practices for consumers and software vendors.

Look forward to seeing you at RSA 2021

By Chris Crowther, CIO Spectra Analytics

Operational Resilience in Your Life

Andrew Cortis, Perimeter Group

I would like you to take part in an experiment, if you are brave enough you can run it live but a cognitive exercise will perform just as well. It’s going to cost you nothing, just the simple the push of a button…ready….ok…..don’t charge your phone this evening, then set off to work, your next appointment or simply enjoy the weekend for 24hrs without your phone….on purpose!

For many of you, the mere thought of voluntarily turning off your phone and attempting to operate fills you with complete dread.

If you are still with me, begin to run through the important services you rely on hour by hour or day by day; the things that allow you to operate as an optimum version of yourself. Travel times for delayed striking trains, an absolute must down my way, money transfer services on your beautifully designed banking app, streaming music, box sets to block out the daily commute, or perhaps the social connectivity which, at any time of day or night, provides an opportunity to enjoy the endless and questionable antics of your family and friends.

In its simplest terms, what we are doing here is running a personal resilience exercise to establish the impact on us and our network if/when important services are removed. Our ability to perform complex tasks is delivered with simplistic ease if the capability and connectivity to our network exists, but what if it is removed by an outage or failure?

For those of you who have plucked up the courage to consider this set of circumstances and maybe even layered on some additional scenarios of your own, we can use heuristics and simple quantitative measures to rapidly calculate a broad approximation of impact and our tolerance to that impact. Our ability to continue to function is derived from quickly establishing a baseline and by running some relevant scenarios.

Today is the end of a long dark and fairly miserable month, culminating in one final elephant trap – it is the deadline to submit our self-assessment tax return. A spike of anxiety for some and warm smug self-satisfaction for others. What’s important about this example? In some ways it’s a good proxy for impact – we can instantly measure the impact of a delayed submission either through technical failure or apathy, it’s £100.  We can probably all afford the penalty and therefore our impact tolerance to financial loss is high but what about if this delay continues, there might be a reputational impact with significantly higher costs.

There is a famous expression “only the paranoid survive”. What does this mean in this context of Operational Resilience? Well as institutions or individuals we can choose to act by testing our resilience and understanding of the down side risk or we can bury our collective heads in the sand and hope.

Hope is especially appropriate in many forms for me this weekend as I travel to Dublin to watch Ireland play Scotland in the 6 nations; global pandemic aside. I have given scant regard to the connections I will make to all the institutions I will interact with in Dublin. I hope they are all resilient enough to at least serve the black stuff and transport me to and from the game. In this scenario I can afford to hope for a Scotland victory, it’s the only control I have in my world, and I will not be impacted much if they don’t…… where did I leave my phone charger?

by Andrew Cortis, Managing Director, Perimeter Group

Cervus and Spectra Continue Data Science Partnership

spectra-cervusWe are proud to announce the signing of a contract that ensures a long-term partnership between Cervus and Spectra that will continue to build and deliver world class data science into the hands of the frontline user.

The new contract supports product development to scale Hive™ and to significantly enhance its AI functionality. Over the last 18 months, this partnership and Cervus’ analytics platform Hive™ has supported:

  • The US Marine Corp’s Wargame Capability Development to integrate advanced analytics and visualisation to deliver an environment that empowers senior leadership decision making.
  • The British Army’s Virtual Reality Land Training (VRLT) project and the Collective Transformation Programme (CTTOP) to explore Training Measurement and Evaluation (TME).
  • Exercise Iron Strike 3 and supported the development of the British Army’s STRIKE Concept through live simulation data capture and analytics.
  • The University of Chichester to develop a Physical Activity Capture and Evaluation (PACES) tool to inform musculoskeletal injury prevention in service personnel.
  • DSTL’s Transforming Training, Education and Preparation (TTEP) Project and CTTP through a Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) award to capture and analyse both performance and experience across education and individual and collective training environments. This will enable a far richer understanding of military readiness through effective workforce analytics.
  • US SOCOM (via SOFWORX) in the development of a Physiological Assessment Tool (PAT) demonstrator and to aggregate data from a variety of real time physiological capture systems to identify key human behaviours during meetings/engagements.

The effective capture, analysis and exploitation of training and education data is a fast-growing area in the Defence Training Market. The 5 eyes Technical Cooperation Programme (TTCP) commissioned a study into the top 25 emerging trends in learning. The only trend rated in the top 5 for criticality by all 5 nations was learning analytics. This is an exciting time to be in the defence analytics space and our data science credibility and expertise is hugely bolstered by this continued relationship with Marcus and the Spectra team. The UK and Allies ability to access Data Science will be a key issue facing many military organisations over the next 3-5 years and our partnership with Spectra starts to mitigate some of this risk.

Alan Roan – Managing Director, Cervus

The ability to harness artificial intelligence to quickly process and analyse the vast amounts of data that is being generated by the military is vital to protecting our country and allies, and securing the safety of our service men and women. We are delighted to continue our partnership with Cervus as we work together to achieve this goal. ‘

Dr Marcus Ong FIMA – CEO, Spectra Analytics

CEO Dr Marcus Ong elected Fellow of the IMA

Congratulations to our CEO Dr Marcus Alexander Ong being elected Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. This is awarded to individuals with senior professional standing in the field who are actively developing and applying mathematics. You can read an interview with Marcus in Mathematics Today from when he first joined the institute in 2014.


Bloc Hotels: Using AI to Power Hotel Revenue Management

Image result for bloc hotel logoAt Bloc Hotels we have spent the past 5 years developing our own proprietary revenue management system to help manage our room inventory and optimise room pricing. The system incorporates data from a wide array of data sources such as the Property Management System, Online Travel Agents, hotel reviews, Google Analytics, flight information, and local events. It allows us to breakdown and analyse all of this information using a very intuitive web application, and uses AI for demand forecasting and price optimisation. The solution is hosted and managed on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The system is an integral part of our pricing process and has significantly improved pricing strategy and efficiency.

We partnered with Spectra Analytics to develop and manage the system because of their extensive AI and Data Science expertise and their ability to manage cloud computing solutions. They have provided excellent support and guidance over the years and we would highly recommend them to other companies looking to develop AI solutions and use AWS.

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