Chair: Martin Gill

Mike Anderson – Sr. Security Program Manager at Microsoft (USA)
Steve Elliot – Managing Director, LexisNexis Risk Solutions (UK & Ireland)
Mark Hobden – Business Continuity Manager at Bidvest Noonan (UK)
James Willison – Director at Unified Security Ltd, Vidsys Consultant and Expert Evaluator (UK)

Bidvest Noonan logo
This session is sponsored by Bidvest Noonan

Key points

Steve Elliot begins by underlying the importance of definitions, noting that words such as ‘big data’ and ‘personal privacy’ mean different things to different people, and this complicates communication about what the benefits are; he argues the case for workable definitions. Steve’s contribution emphasises the benefits of big data, he outlines the science of the possible. For example, you will hear him discuss the different types of data, and how they each pose different possibilities to enhance both effective security (and business operations) but crucially (and controversially), to more effective privacy protection. By understanding the user and the broader networks big data can help identify when someone is being subject to a fraudulent attack (by a more sophisticated analysis of unusual patterns of use) and then more effectively protect them. Slightly differently he outlines a future with more trusted identify schemes, where firms don’t hold data but individuals do and these can be analysed to provide more personal services while at the same time protecting them more efficiently. In response to criticisms about how some technology companies are perceived to have underperformed he points to successes and notes that the protection of data is the most important item on the risk register.

Mike Anderson notes this his company, Microsoft, is well invested in big data, and his own focus is on physical security solutions using data. He also underlines the importance of a common terminology; terms such as AI, machine learning are branded about but it is not at all clear what is meant by them and the words ‘big data’. Nevertheless, large datasets enable companies to tell a story with it, and they can tell in a different way and interpreting it is a big issue. He uses the example of discussing Covid-19 differently. For example in the US two approaches are used, morbidity as percentage of infection, and as a percentage of the overall population, one suggest the US is doing well and the other poorly. He discusses the potential going forward in making use of quantum computing, not least in speeding up processes, dramatically. In discussing protection against errors he stresses the importance of company culture. Companies managing data wield immense power, they need their leaders and employees to recognise that and be engaged with all that it implies.

James Willison emphasises the importance of collaboration. In addressing the point about definitions of and approaches to big data he references the work of the World Economic Forum, and specifically a book entitled, The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Despite a variety of standards, which he applauds, and the many reference points for good practice, he notes that many companies don’t use the technology available effectively. Even Governments can be remiss in appropriate risk assessments. Thinking about Covid-19 specifically he links the impressive response of South Kora compared to the UK, and asks that we better understand the role technology may have played in this. He also stresses that having access to big data is one thing, analysing data is quite another and he highlights an interesting perspective on the future control room operator.

Mark Hobden offers a perspective from the front line, that is where much of the theory about the pros and cons of big data are played out. While he welcomes big data and of course all the capability it proffers, the risks of errors are always present. His own wish would be to find ways of better assessing clients’ likes and dislikes on a big scale; that would be the route to enormous commercial opportunity. Mark describes work with staff and clients which you will find interesting. What all the panelists note is that this is an area where more awareness amongst all parties is key.

This webinar highlights some of the real opportunities of big data but does not hide from the realities that there are challenges. The argument that the use of big data can enhance privacy merits more attention. The panelists underline the value of convergence. The futurist discussion is fascinating, so much potential if done well of course, and those who use technology have not always been good at that; therein rests another challenge, the interaction with humans.

Martin Gill
13th August 2020

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