With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.
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With over 10 years experience working solely in the Data & Analytics sector our consultants are able to offer detailed insights into the industry.
Visit our Blogs & News portal or check out our recent posts below.
Ben Owen and Danni Brooke are the Co-Directors for the EMEA Practice at Fortalice Solutions, a leading global cyber security and intelligence operations company. They travel globally to assist clients with their cyber security requirements, bespoke training needs, intelligence and investigations both online and physical and counter fraud training/consultation. They deliver and manage a portfolio of pro-active intelligence solutions to keep people, nations and businesses safe from threats and head up the EMEA operations. Ben and Danni also feature on the hit Channel 4 show, Hunted and Celebrity Hunted which has been airing for over four years with another series set to be filmed this summer. I caught up with them recently to discuss the latest Fraud, tools and challenges for the Cybersecurity industry. Cybersecurity is an ever-changing landscape. What trends do you anticipate for the next 12 months and beyond? It is always difficult to pin down what the next real trend is going to be in the Cybersecurity space as adversaries are becoming ever more sophisticated. What was once a very difficult process for skilled individuals is becoming more readily available to novices with advances in software, particularly those shared on the Dark Web. What is an inevitable threat trend in the next 12-months and beyond is the exponential rise in the Internet of Things (IoT). With a world where everything is hooked up to the web, it is apparent that tech companies selling these devices are under immense pressure to get products to market. The need for speed could mean that some security principles and best practices may be overlooked. As the UK encountered during the Mirai Botnet attack of 2016, a network of electronic devices acting in concert can cripple the internet or, worst case, become a weapon that could cause actual physical damage as well as cyber damage, power stations, hospital networks to name but a few. How have Data & Analytics impacted the detection, and prevention, of cyber-crime? A company will have to protect themselves against an enormous amount of cyber threats every second. A cyber-criminal will only need one successful attempt. Data & Analytics are proving successful in the fight against cyber-crime and their proactive and holistic approach is at keeping people and businesses safe. Of course, it is Data that is being stolen, but very often Data can come to the rescue. It helps in a number of ways, e.g. identifying anomalies in employee and contractor computer usage and patterns, detecting irregularities in networks, identifies irregularities in device behaviour (a huge advantage with the rise of the IoT). What one must remember, however, is the people behind the Data. You can’t simply collect Data and assume you will be able to detect and respond with the right actions. You need the people with the right analytical skills to sift through the Data, find the right signals and then react to the threat with an appropriate and timely response. What tools and technologies do you think will become increasingly important in the fraud and cyber-crime landscape? Here at Fortalice we are investing a lot of time into coverage of the Dark Web. We live in a rapidly changing digital landscape. Criminals, fraudsters, and others are now operating with more sophistication and anonymity. Where do they go to exchange fraudulent details and ideas about current victims? What medium do they use to discuss organisational targets or new ways of defrauding companies? The answer is the Dark Web. Traditionally, companies fight fraud from the inside out. We want to change this landscape by accessing the entirety of the Dark Web, its pages, shady storefronts, and treasure troves of Data, and drawing on monitoring toolsets to give our clients a 360-degree resource for identifying adversarial communications and movements. It’s all about Internet coverage. Wherever it is difficult to find – that’s where your threat will be. A final point to this question is one of sharing tools and techniques. A collaborative approach is always a good way of making sure the wider audience benefits. We always work with our clients and offer other services and support outside of our remit to make sure they’re fully protected from a cyber and physical space. What are the biggest security threats for businesses? Security is fundamentally broken because the design of many security solutions does not design for the human psyche. Security solutions are bolted on, clunky, and hard to use but because security teams prioritise defending against easier cyber threats, they often don’t focus on the hardware side. The biggest risk to companies and individuals is always defined by the Data that is most important to you or to the business. For individuals, this might be privacy or identity. For businesses, this could be customer Data, intellectual property, and the company’s money in the bank. The reality is that business executives can’t outspend the (cybersecurity) issue and they must be prepared. Cybersecurity no longer exists in a vacuum and it must be elevated to the conversations held in the boardroom and with senior leadership as well as entire divisions, departments, and organisations. For someone trying to get into security analytics, what skills do you think are key to being successful in the industry? The detail is in the name of the role. A huge ability to interpret large amounts of technical Data is key to the role, as well as being able to assimilate what it means and how to action it. Risk management is also key to this role. Very often you will identify potential risks and you will have to triage those priorities on your own as co-workers won’t have the technical expertise to assist. You will need to be able to communicate successfully to all levels of a workforce and last but by no means least – a good sense of humour! When you think you have gotten to understand a new threat or vulnerability a new one will replace it within seconds. Time to put the kettle on, smile, and get back to work with your analytical prowess. Within fraud, it's well known that criminals are sharing their approaches, is this mirrored in cyber-security and if so, how is the industry combating this? Criminal collaboration is huge on the web. First of all, there is no talent shortage for fraud rings or cybercriminals. There are no requirements for fancy university degrees or certifications and the crime ring pays for performance. They don’t care what you look like, how you dress, or if you clock in during normal work hours. They care about getting the job done - hacking into and stealing information from others. Together they are sadly stronger and more effective. On Dark Web forums, you will see fraudsters sharing and selling their ‘IP’ knowing that others will also contribute. That way they are all winners. In the private world ideas equal money. That is of course not a bad thing for business, but it is bad for collaboration. Businesses generally don’t like to share ideas with one another because it has taken them lots of time and expense to get to their product or solution. As cliché as this comment sounds - we have to change this landscape for the greater good. There are lots of smart government initiatives for national defences in cyber security and fighting high-end cyber-crime but seldom does this have a positive impact locally with smaller businesses. There is a huge amount of information out there for individuals and advice, but we need to bridge the gap still between criminal collaboration and that of the good guys. If you could change one thing in the industry, what would it be? The mind set of security professionals that humans are the weakest link. We’re not! Humans are at risk because technology is by design, open. I’d also change the mind set of those not in the Cyber Security industry. All too often the severity of what is being reported is not taken seriously, nor are budgets set aside for cyber security issues. That said, it is improving but there is a long way to go. Ben and Danni spoke to Senior Consultant, Rosalind Madge. Get in touch with Rosalind or take a look at our latest job opportunities here.
21. March 2019
The phrase Campaign Analyst means many things to many people. A quick Google search alone turns up a variety of titles and job descriptions, united by one common thread; creating merit through customer value, metrics, and consumer insight. As a rule, Campaign Analysts have become more and more important in every forward-thinking business over the past few years, particularly in B2B marketing departments. But what are the big trends we should expect to see over the next year or so? Recapping the role Campaign Analysts are the go-to resource for everyone from staff to stakeholders, acting as advisor in regard to digital campaigns segmentation and analytical needs, and utilising their comprehensive knowledge and understanding of customer Data. They are often the bridge across departmental teams and help provide a big picture scope, while also diving into the details of customer and marketing insights to achieve actionable results. As an overview, they: Develop guidelines and build Database procedures to evaluate individual, multi-and omnichannel testing methodologies. Mine Data and reach out to customer segments for query Data.Identify areas of improvement for campaign organisation.Provide critical support to campaigns, from conception to implementation, with the ability to translate marketing plans into production-ready endeavours. Is it time for a Data Health Check? Though Data & Analytics have played a big role in retail over the last few years, Marketing departments have often lagged a bit behind. However, they’re beginning to catch up. In 2018, a Dun & Bradstreet survey showed over 60 percent of B2B companies thought Data quality was extremely important. In 2019, the same rings true. But, as things develop even further, here are a few things to consider in your Marketing Data ecosystems: Updating your company’s customer Data health – Eliminate duplicate records, make sure customer information is accurate and up-to-date, and make sure your segmentations still make sense. Have decision makers for targeted campaigns changed or moved on? Are email addresses and phone numbers still valid? Keeping your customer Data up-to-date ensures you’re not analysing invalid Data. Creating a more focused Data-Driven approach with Marketing ROI – Assess and evaluate spending and revenue with a lens on Marketing channel variety. What’s working? What isn’t? Where can you cut costs while increasing market-generated revenue?Micro-segmenting your targeting efforts – Go deeper in your targeted Marketing efforts. Narrow your Data parameters. The more layers you add, the more targeted you can focus your messaging, and the more likely you are to reach the best audience for your business.Utilising video Marketing – Much like boosting your resume with video, the same can be said for targeted Marketing campaigns. As a Campaign Analyst, you’ll need to work with departments across the business to create a unified Content Marketing Strategy and video remains a crucial format according to a LinkedIn study. And on that note… Pressing play on video The bland days of corporate speak, restrictive tone, and limited colour in video Marketing are a thing of the past. Video is now a crucial Marketing and engagement tool, providing the opportunity to engage with customers in almost real-time. With this, customers feel heard and can help transform a product as well as gain trust in the business itself. From GDPR to fake news to Data breaches, it’s highly important for businesses to provide transparency in their interactions and video helps them do that. By being transparent and acknowledging mistakes, business can both gain consumer trust and improve upon their mistakes.. In addition, customer’s no longer feel like voices in a canyon; they are part of the business and therefore more invested in the company’s success. Additionally, this can expand your reach, allowing you discover what a broader range of customers think. If we want a recommendation for a good restaurant, a doctor, or some other place or service, we turn first to our friends. And in the era of social media, our friends are everywhere. What better way to reach out to your target audience than by video with authentic customer reviews and testimonials? A well-developed strategy leads to happy customers and their goodwill is, ultimately, free Marketing. If you’re looking for your next Campaign Analyst opportunity, we may have a role for you. Check out our latest roles or get in touch with one of our specialist consultants.
13. March 2019
Big Data is present in every aspect of our daily lives. Virtually all activities we carry out involve the generation of data; every time you turn on your computer, every search we make, every purchase or subscription online, when we use our mobile phones, each time we pay with our credit card… This list goes on and often we leave our mark without even realising it. Worldwide, Data companies are aware of the immeasurable value of this information. From improving, predicting and avoiding future developments, to making decisions more effectively and efficiently, reducing costs, and, in short, making things easier and better. Barcelona is no exception. But, like many major cities, demand is far exceeding supply. A Shortfall of Talent Understandably, crucial to a business’ Data & Analytics success are the professionals in charge of the development of the technologies that gather, transform, analyse and draw conclusions from that Data. Without these professionals the Data has no use, and it is almost impressive how the lack of skilled professionals is affecting this sector in particular. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to Barcelona and meet several companies who are leading the global digital transformation. My time there highlighted to me that not only are most of the companies are looking for very similar profiles, but also that they all are struggling to find skilled people to join their projects. Broadly speaking, there are two types of profiles within the Big Data field: The specialists who put in place the necessary infrastructure to store collected Data. These are purely technical profiles such as Software Developers, Data Engineers, Data Architects, and Programmers.The specialists working on this Data, generating insights and making suggestions in order to make a profit. These profiles are typically more business-oriented such as Data Analysts and Data Scientists. The recent emergence of these profiles, and their importance in the success of a business has led to a skills short. This has resulted in a real challenge for companies who are looking to adapt and keep at the forefront of technology. Education, Education, Education How is a booming sector with such a good prospects having such difficulties finding skilled professionals? Are companies looking to hire without considering the real labour market situation? Is it a problem that affects only Spain? The main reason for the shortage is understandably the rapid growth of the market as a result of a huge increase of Data generation, associated with the increased use of mobile devices. This has brought new demands on a workforce, in particular for specialised profiles and skills, and experts in the latest technologies. It must be taken into account that a Big Data expert profile, like a Data Engineer or a Data Scientist, barely existed few years ago – therefore training and retraining is fundamental. Given that situation, governments, companies and universities need to be taking measures and establishing agreements in order to provide subsidies, to offer training aids, and to facilitate the access for study and research offering a wider variety of studies and internships programs. Fortunately, this something that I’m seeing more of now in Spain, in addition to numerous perks like competitive salaries, flexible working, and even working remotely. Looking Further Afield However, whilst education may help address a shortage in the long term, it still leaves a lack of viable candidates in the present. Barcelona, like many tech hubs, is embracing international candidates with attractive relocation offers and benefits packages. By opening up to the world’s best talent, as well as continuing to find local stars of the future, the city is cementing itself as a leader of the digital transformation. If you are currently focused within this area then there are likely to be multiple job opportunities available, with above average salaries. You’ll be able to continue to refine your skills with additional training and likely have the pick of any sector in which you might like to work. Get in touch if you’re considering Barcelona for your next role or take a look at our latest opportunities to discover hundreds of Big Data & Analytics jobs.
07. March 2019
This is the second part of our interview with Derek Dempsey, Fraud Analytics Director for FICO. To read the first part click here. How have Data & Analytics impacted the detection, and prevention, of Fraud? Big Data is interesting. We want to use as much Data as possible but you have to be sure the Data you have is reliable and robust. Bad Data could lead to significant issues for anyone in Fraud detection. But really, Data & Analytics are the fuel that drives effective Fraud detection. Our world has used these tools very effectively for many years and we have always been at the forefront in the use of new techniques. Effective Fraud detection relies heavily on using the best Data available and the right analytical techniques to extract useful information. Furthermore, it is constantly evolving as more information becomes available. What impact do you think Machine Learning and AI can have on Fraud prevention and detection? In the last few years we’ve seen an explosion of new interest and new techniques, with lots of new players coming into the market. Companies like FICO have been using Machine Learning for Fraud detection for 25 years so this isn't new. What is new is a whole generation of new technologies, new companies and disruptive approaches that have been driving change. For us, apart from increased competitive pressures, one of the other big changes is that companies have built large Data Science teams and have a bigger appetite to build their own solutions using open source technologies. However, it’s one thing building these great models, it’s another getting them to operate effectively and correctly in the real world. The level of governance that we are subject to is enormous just to make sure that our models perform as they should. This will be a challenge to the newcomers. They are here to stay though, and should drive better performance and better Fraud detection. Where AI techniques are set to make an impact is in AML and compliance monitoring. These have used rule-based techniques due to regulatory pressures, but it is clear that more advanced techniques are required to provide better detection of money laundering and terrorist financing. However, businesses do require us to provide explainability but regulators are saying the will look favourably on AI usage if it can provide this. The more AI techniques are used, the more this issue of explainability is going to be important. Why is the development of analytics, tools and techniques so important within different industries? I think domain knowledge of the Data and business will always be important. 'Specialisms' occur and always will. The analytic techniques, the tools and languages can be standard although some are more appropriate for different specialities. However, the differences in Data and business model always results in specialised applications to address this. For example, something like Card Fraud or AML require techniques that can analyse and process huge volumes of transactions, whereas something like Claims fraud or Application Fraud won't have this requirement and other factors can be more relevant. However, there is little doubt that Financial Services and Telco have actively sought AI technologies while others have been more fearful of so-called 'black box' approaches. How are Big Data and Data Science tools, such as Hadoop, helping combat Fraud effectively? There’s no question from an analytics perspective that Python and R are the two languages that Data Scientists are using. But it helps to have specialists in technical skills, such as DevOps and DataOps, to provide the technical expertise that allows them to build models and utilise Data most effectively. As for Hadoop, it makes sense for Data Scientists to have an understanding, but ultimately I see that skillset as one belonging to the technical specialists. This is why I firmly believe that every Data Science team should have a supporting tech function. What are the latest technologies helping combat Fraud? From an analytical perspective there has been a recent focus on graph analytics and network analytics as these can be applied to external Data. These approaches have been around for a while however and are limited to certain types of Fraud. We’re also seeing more unsupervised techniques being used as these do not rely on prior fraud case data so can be applied to a wider set of cases. Another new area has been adaptivity. This is a model that adapts over time depending on operational feedback from the analysts. Again this is not new but you really need to balance the impact of this new information compared to how the model is currently working and so is very challenging. As long as you can maintain a sufficient degree of explainability you can ensure the process is sufficiently well governed. There has been a significant move to cloud-based technologies where companies can reduce their implementation and maintenance costs. We are just about to release our new Falcon X platform, which is a cloud-based fraud platform, that will allow clients to use all the FICO capabilities but also allow them to develop their own analytics as well. I think potentially the biggest change will be the progressive adoption of biometric authentication. SCA is a requirement for all high-value transactions in PSD2 and this requires two-factor authentication from inherence, ownership and knowledge: so something you are, something you have or something you know. I think biometrics will start to play a big role in authentication and, hopefully, will provide much greater identity security. Another trend I think we may see is the growth of digital IDs. There is already a well-advanced program in the Nordics called BankID and the concept of a digital ID seems inevitable at some point. Derek spoke to Senior Consultant, Rosalind Madge. Get in touch with Rosalind or take a look at our latest job opportunities here.
28. February 2019