Quantum Computing Uses That Solve Business Problems

Quantum Technology Monitor, funding from private and public sectors for this new technology is skyrocketing worldwide.

How it Works

Unlike classical computing whose information is encoded by bits, in quantum computing a qubit is the basic unit of quantum information. Qubit allows all combinations of information to exist simultaneously so that quantum computers can solve problems exponentially faster and with less energy consumption than classical computers.

In 2019, Google, in partnership with NASA, achieved quantum supremacy by demonstrating that quantum computers can compute in seconds what would take advanced supercomputers thousands of years.

Advanced development in this technology has also seen the introduction of quantum-computing cloud infrastructure through Quantum as a Service (QaaS). QaaS provides access to quantum computing platforms over the internet to customers. Major technology companies, such as Amazon, Alibaba, IBM, Google and Microsoft, have already launched commercial cloud services for quantum computing.

With the continued increase in the quantum computing ecosystem and emerging business use cases, business leaders must stay aware and prepare to adopt the new technology.

Business Use Cases for Quantum Computing

1. Quick Data Analytics

Today more than ever, businesses are faced with big data and a large quantity of information requiring analysis and storage. Since classical computers are built to solve one task at a time, it takes longer to solve these complex problems.

However, quantum technology has the potential to turn complex computations into simple calculations that are solved in less time.

2. Optimize Investment Strategies

Optimization is all about finding the most ideal solution in a situation. When many options are available, it takes a classical computer a long time to find a solution. Therefore, classical computers use shortcuts, and the final solution is partly optimal. But, with quantum computing, there will be better optimization.

3. Better Forecast and Prediction

Businesses rely on forecasts and predictions generated after analyzing complex and large data sets. Quantum computing is built to process huge amounts of data quickly and more accurately. As a result, better forecasts and predictions will enable better decision-making.

4. Solve Problems With Financial Services

There are various computationally intensive jobs in finance that could be facilitated by quantum computing, such as credit-risk management, financial crime reduction and trading strategy optimization. These tasks will greatly benefit from quantum algorithms that increase the speed of financial calculations.

5. Improve Data Security

Quantum computers are built to break encryptions that ordinary computers cannot. This might become a problem if hackers were to acquire encrypted data and store it until large-scale quantum computers are operational. To handle this problem, postquantum cryptography, a type of cyber security that can be used by conventional computers, is currently being developed. Therefore, a switch to quantum-resistant cryptography will prevent the possibility of data being exposed. At the same time, it will ensure better protection of digital assets.

Final Thoughts

Quantum computers will not replace classical computers; however, the two will form a hybrid solution whereby each task will be assigned to the most suitable machine – either quantum or classical.

Achieving the aforementioned benefits will require businesses to have teams of experts who are knowledgeable about the implications of quantum computing and who can recognize the company’s potential future needs, opportunities and vulnerabilities.

With signs of commercial quantum computing becoming a reality, it’s not too early for business leaders to consider how it will encourage digital investment, reshape industries and ignite innovation. Therefore, having a thorough understanding of quantum applications is essential for positioning a business to gain a competitive edge.

Increase In Deepfake Attacks and How Enterprises Can Prepare

fraudsters used AI to mimic a CEO’s voice. This incident happened in March 2019, when criminals impersonated a chief executive’s voice to direct a payment of $243,000.

Cybercriminals are able to execute social engineering attacks by accessing readily available information online. They can research a business, employees and executives. The criminal will even use an actual event picked from social media – for instance, a financial director who is just returned to work from a holiday – to sound more legitimate.

This emerging security threat is also made possible by the development of video editing software that can swap faces and alter facial expressions. Such developments have enabled deepfakes to fool biometric checks (like facial recognition) to verify user identities.

The deepfake cybersecurity threat has become such a concern that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a Private Industry Notification (PIN) cautioning companies of the possible use of fake content in a newly defined cyberattack vector referred to as Business Identity Compromise (BIC).

How to be Prepared and Protect Against Deepfakes

Deepfake videos and images can be recognized by checking for unnatural body shape, lack of blinking in videos, unnatural facial expressions, abnormal skin color, bad lip-syncing, odd lighting, awkward head and body positioning, etc. However, cybercriminals keep evolving and creating more convincing deepfakes.

Other measures introduced to combat deepfakes include creating solutions that detect deepfakes. There also was an introduction of deepfake legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in December 2019.

Unfortunately, this has not been enough, and enterprises have the task of helping reduce the impact of these attacks. The following measures can help:

  1. Use anti-fake technologies
    Businesses should explore automated technologies that help identify deepfake attacks. They should also consider watermarking images and videos.
  2. Enforce robust security protocols
    Implement security protocols to help avoid deepfakes, such as automatic checks for any procedure involving payments. For instance, putting systems that allow verification through other mediums.
  3. Develop new security standards
    As security threats keep evolving, so should security standards within a company. For instance, introduce new security standards involving phone and video calls.
  4. Training and awareness
    Enterprises should enforce regular training and raise awareness among employees, management, and shareholders on the dangers of deepfakes to businesses. When all involved parties are trained to identify deepfake social engineering efforts, this will help reduce the chances of falling victim.
  5. Keep user data private
    Deepfake attackers use the information found in public domains such as social media. Although not a failsafe procedure, company profiles can be made private. Users also should avoid adding or connecting with strangers they don’t know and posting too much personal information online.
  6. Disinformation response policy
    Some deepfake incidents are out of control for an enterprise, such as fake videos purporting to be from top management. However, establishing a disinformation response plan will help in cases of a reputation crisis. This should include monitoring and curating all multimedia output – which will help present original content to the public as authentic content.

Conclusion

Deepfake is an emerging cybersecurity concern that requires enterprises to be aware of its potential threats and stay prepared. Although it might be possible to identify a poorly generated deepfake with the naked eye, the technology continues to advance. In response, countermeasures must keep pace.

Risk of Browser Extensions and How to Stay Safe

recent study by Talon, a digital security company, most Chrome Web Store extensions (62.43 percent of extensions) require dangerous permissions, including permission to read or change user data and activity. This means that an extension can see the sites visited, keystrokes, login credentials and private data, such as payment card details.

Since this information is readily available on a user’s web browser, cybercriminals can use a malicious extension to collect the data for their gain. At the same time, the data collected is sold without user consent or knowledge and used by third-party data brokers to send users tailor-made ads.

Although not all browser extensions are a security risk, some might be built to impersonate legitimate extensions, especially those from third-party resources. In other cases, legitimate extensions have been compromised or bought by a developer who uses them for malicious purposes.

Some browser add-ons are built to download malware onto your device, redirect search traffic to malicious websites or download ad ware and Trojan horse viruses.

The extensions can automatically update without requiring any action from a user. This means that if a legitimate extension is compromised, it can be used to install malware without user knowledge. Even secure extensions are prone to attacks or can be compromised, enabling attackers to gain access to data stored by browsers.

Additionally, malicious extensions can be built to bypass fraud detection by official Web stores. For instance, in 2020, Google removed over 500 extensions from its web store that violated policies, with some already having infected users and stolen their data. This followed the discovery of some malicious extensions that users had already downloaded.

A recent report released by Kaspersky, a cybersecurity firm, shows just how dangerous malicious add-ons are. After the firm analyzed data from January 2020 to June 2022, it discovered that over this time frame, 4.3 million users were attacked by adware hiding in browser extensions. This put adware as the highest representative of browser extension risks, with malware coming second. The report also indicates that Kaspersky products prevented more than 6 million users from downloading adware, malware or riskware disguised as browser extensions.

Such figures from just one cybersecurity firm are worrying, considering the study focused only on users that use their security solutions. This creates a need for users to be more vigilant when using browser extensions.

How to Make Sure Browser Extensions Are Safe

There are various ways to help reduce the risks posed by browser extensions:

  1. Ensure the extension is from an official web store. Since these extensions can also be compromised, it is best to find out more information about the developer.
  2. Check reviews as they help to know what other users think of the extension and if there have been any complaints. However, users should be cautious of identical comments or too many 5-star reviews, as these could be fake.
  3. Check whether the extension is updated regularly. An extension last updated many years ago might not be reliable.
  4. Review extension permissions for each extension.
  5. Check that you are not installing clones of the original extension. For instance, if you search for an extension, you can find other similar ones that look legit.
  6. Uninstall browser extensions that you don’t recognize or those you no longer need.
  7. Use browsers that have the features you want.
  8. Install reliable antivirus software that will help spot malicious activities or applications.

Conclusion

Browser extensions play an important role in the user browsing experience. Although not all extensions are dangerous, users must conduct due diligence to ensure they install legitimate extensions.

What Are NFTs and How Can Businesses Benefit?

research conducted in March 2021 by Morning Consult, a global decision intelligence company, about half of the people who identified themselves as avid physical collectors were interested in NFTs. In addition, users have more control over the asset bought because it cannot be used in any other way or duplicated, making it more valuable.

It might not be obvious to most when NFTs are worth an investment. However, looking at NFTs that have already been sold, this can present an opportunity that businesses should not ignore. For instance, the first tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was sold for over $2.9 million in March 2022. The Nike brand also has been making headlines with its virtual sneakers, with one selling at $134,000.

With such news making the headlines, businesses may wonder how they can benefit from NFTs. 

How Can a Business Benefit from NFTs?

Businesses still hesitant about adopting new technologies should start considering creating NFTs that align with their brand image. Below are some ways in which a business can benefit:

1. Brand Visibility

Aside from digital marketing, NFTs provide another way businesses and corporations can drive attention to their brand. For instance, by creating a digital version of your products, you expose it to NFT enthusiasts, some of who might not be aware of your products. NFTs also can be incorporated as part of your brand storytelling, creating unique experiences for your customers, consequently increasing consumer engagements.

2. Authenticity

Many businesses undergo massive losses of revenue due to counterfeit products. With NFTs, businesses can ascertain the authenticity of their products and services. A digital certificate is issued with every transaction and a record is kept on the blockchain. A customer can check the authenticity since the blockchain can be traced to the original seller.

3. Additional Revenue Stream

Businesses can use NFTs as an additional source of income by selling digital forms of their products or services. One way to do this is by creating an early access opportunity before the official product launches, creating a buzz and ensuring the NFT value will rise.

4. Customer Loyalty Program

The versatile nature of NFTs makes them ideal for use in loyalty programs. The tokens can be used as medals for loyal clients or as membership tokens.

5. Prevent Ticket Scams

Many people fall victim to online ticket scams where they buy fake discounted tickets or duplicate tickets of an original event ticket. The money collected doesn’t go to the business, which also affects the event organizers. Customers also risk their credit card information being stolen by scammers. However, turning a ticket into an NFT makes it easy to verify its authenticity and even prevent ticket black markets.

6. Managing Supply Chain

NFTs are positively disrupting the supply chain. By the use of blockchain technology, it’s now easy to trace the entire process of a product lifecycle, from raw material, transportation, manufacturing, and distribution up to the end consumer. Hence, businesses interested in improving transparency and accountability can embrace NFTs to automate their supply chain.

Conclusion

NFT technology is relatively new, and its practical use is still limited. However, the fact that people are willing to spend on them is reason enough why any business should consider leveraging NFTs in its marketing strategies to help boost brand engagement and drive sales. 

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Ways Technology Can Improve Business Cash Flow

Cash flow awareness is vital in running the day-to-day activities of a business. Keeping track of the inflows and outflows helps a company make better plans and decisions, such as the right time to expand. Cash flow knowledge reveals where a business is spending money and can protect business relations, among other benefits. However, tracking cash flow is a challenge for many businesses.

To avoid business failure due to poor cash flow management, business owners are investing in software applications to help manage cash flow challenges. Modern technology enables access to these applications over the cloud, giving small- and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to benefit from them. These cash flow management tools help companies improve cash flow in various ways.

  1. Remove Manual Paper Systems that Cost Time and Money
    Using a cash flow automated system, it’s possible to create and send invoices directly to clients through email. This saves on time that would otherwise be used for printing invoices, mailing, bank trips, and going through paperwork comparing details. It is also possible to automate recurring invoices, saving the time used to create and send invoices.
  2. Makes it Easy for Clients to Pay
    Paying invoices takes time if a client has to keep confirming the payment details. However, an automated invoice can contain a pay now link, which facilitates quick payments for applications that include access to online payment options.
  3. Helps Avoid Data Entry Errors and Reduces Risks
    There is no need to move from one platform to another to check details, manually enter details, verify figures, etc. This ensures fewer errors, such as those generated when copying details like bank information to a check, or paying the wrong amount. Sorting out these errors takes time, hence delaying payments.
  4. Cash Flow Forecast
    The applications offer access to account insights in real time using cloud-based software and mobile apps, making it possible to forecast when clients are likely to pay and when bills are due. Access to live data also means there is no more dealing with complicated spreadsheets and paper ledgers. This way, a business can plan its actions to ensure positive cash flow. For instance, a business can delay paying vendors and plan when best to pay bills without running out of standby cash.
  5. Avoid Late Payments
    Late payments can result in fines that will cost the business unnecessary losses. However, with software that automatically sends invoice reminders, it is possible to make timely payments.
  6. Centralized Cash Flow System
    All activities involving cash transactions are located in one system, offering the ability to see cash inflows and outflows at a glance. As a result, a business can streamline its accounts and monitor cash flow; and since it includes real-time reporting, it’s easy to spot any red flags and solve problems that could adversely affect a business.
  7. Leverage on Data Analytics
    A centralized system will collect data and store it in one place. By deploying artificial intelligence technology that performs data analysis, a business can better forecast its cash flow. This also provides insight into how changes such as a new products or price adjustments affect cash flow.

Choosing a Cash Flow Tool

Cash flow automation enables a business to maintain a positive cash flow and have cash in its reserves to afford reinvesting in its operations, settling debts, and handling other operating costs. However, before investing in an automation tool, it’s recommended to analyze different tools to find the best fit for your business. Each tool is different and built to address various business problems.

Some features to look out for include integration with the existing accounting system, payments and invoicing, accepting a variety of payment methods, and security.

Besides getting the most suitable application, there are other considerations to establishing a healthy cash flow. Technology has its benefits, but it does not act as a cure for a poorly implemented system. For instance, if employees don’t know how to use new technology, its impact will be limited. Therefore, a business should establish a workflow process before implementing any new technology.

Why Businesses Should Be Worried About Mobile Security and How to Keep Safe

WhatsApp phishing campaign that attempts to lead WhatsApp users to install an information-stealing malware. The senders impersonate the WhatsApp notification service and send an email to a user claiming they have received a private voicemail. A user who is unaware of this ploy and clicks on the play button in the email will download malware onto their phone.

Attackers also take advantage of data leakage through malicious mobile apps. Users can get these apps by downloading fake versions of real apps, which are infected with malicious code that steals personal data stored on a phone.

Data can be stolen through legitimate solutions, as researchers found at the end of October 2021, when they discovered a banking trojan horse known as SharkBot in six phoneapps. These apps were designed as legitimate antivirus solutions. The malware could bypass multifactor authentication to steal credentials and banking information, and even transfer money. Although the six dangerous apps have since been deleted from the Google Play store, this goes to show that hackers do not tire of looking for ways to infiltrate mobile devices.

Mobile phones also are affected by web-based mobile security threats when users access affected sites that download malicious content onto a device.

Other security threats to phones include using unsecured public WiFi, lost or stolen mobile devices, mobile spyware, rooting malware and jailbroken phones that become more prone to attacks.

How to Keep Safe

Since phones are now primarily being used as business tools, business owners need to rethink their mobile strategies for both employer-provided devices and bring your own device (BYOD).

Businesses that deploy mobile device management (MDM) tools will block potentially harmful apps, automatically update software, and remotely wipe off data on stolen or lost phones.

Users are the weakest link in security issues; hence, a need for regular security risk-training on social engineering by learning how to differentiate suspicious emails and SMS messages. Users also need to learn to avoid downloading applications from third parties and other untrusted sources and use only authorized app stores. Furthermore, user training should include the dangers of public Wi-Fi, the importance of turning off a phone’s Wi-Fi when not using it, and locking the device with a strong password or biometrics, such as fingerprint detection.

Users also should avoid granting broad app permissions, especially for free apps that may be sending sensitive data to remote servers, where it can be used not only by advertisers but also by cybercriminals.

Keeping device operating systems and other software updated will reduce attack possibilities since cybercriminals use old bugs to hack devices.

It is important to install anti-malware and anti-virus programs on mobile devices since they now face the same threats as computers and laptops.

Businesses can introduce a mobile device policy that employees sign before accessing company resources on their devices or when receiving employer-provided devices. Such a policy includes the dos and don’ts of using phones.

Regular security testing is crucial for enterprise applications as it helps expose vulnerabilities in apps and especially those developed by third-party agencies to ensure the security meets required compliance guidelines.

Conclusion

Mobile phones now have capabilities similar to computers and store a lot of personal and sensitive data. As more devices access business systems, it creates more endpoints that put the business at risk of a data breach. Therefore, businesses of all sizes should take mobile security seriously through strong defensive measures, which can be enhanced with enterprise mobile security solutions.

The Rise in Ransomware Attacks and How to Keep Safe

CISA, FBI, NSA and International Partners, has called for every government, business and individual to be aware of this threat and take necessary action to avoid becoming victims.

President Joe Biden also continuously issues warnings to business leaders to strengthen their companies’ cyber defenses. The risks of cybersecurity are expected to increase with the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

On the other hand, there are efforts to reduce the threat scale by various groups. One such group is the Cyber Threat Intelligence League (CTI-League), made up of cybersecurity experts from different countries. They have helped take down malicious websites, detect vulnerabilities, collect and analyze different phishing messages, and assist law enforcement organizations in creating safer cyberspace.

Protecting Against Ransomware

Before a ransomware attack is fulfilled, there are detectable activities that can aid in mitigating an attack. In any case, the attackers target specific user behavior, unchanged default security configurations and common technology vulnerability. This means that ransomware attacks can be avoided. Some ways to keep safe from ransomware include:

  1. Timely patches – ensure to patch operating systems and other software immediately whenever a patch is released. Patching also should apply to cloud environments, including virtual machines, serverless applications and third-party libraries.
  2. Keep backups – it is impossible to fully protect an organization network as one user action may expose the network to attacks. Regularly backing up data is crucial. However, ensure that cloud backups are encrypted and can’t be deleted or altered. Also, always keep a backup version that is not accessible through the cloud to ensure business continuity in case of an attack.
  3. User training – users are considered the weakest link in the line of defense against cybersecurity. An attack can start with a seemingly legit email containing a link or an attachment that downloads malware to a device once clicked. Therefore, continuous user training and phishing exercises will help reinforce user responses to suspicious emails.
  4. Secure and monitor RDP – as more people adopt remote working, they rely on the remote desktop protocol to connect to office computers or colleagues. This has made RDP one of the most commonly used methods for attackers to gain access to a network. Therefore, businesses should use Network Level Authentication (NLA) and use unique and complex passwords for users to authenticate themselves before making a remote connection. Other ways include multifactor authentication, setting time limits to disconnect inactive RDP sessions automatically, and limiting login attempts.
  5. Use up-to-date antivirus software – this should be used to regularly scan the systems and scan files downloaded from the internet before they are opened.
  6. Network monitoring – use network monitoring tools and intrusion detection systems to look out for any suspicious activity.

The CISA, FBI, NSA and International Partners joint advisory discourages paying ransom to cybercriminals and recommends following the CISA ransom response checklist, and reporting to cybersecurity authorities such as the FBI, CISA or the U.S. Secret Service. System administrators should also follow incident response best practices that can aid in handling malicious activity.

What Does the Metaverse Mean for Businesses

$1 trillion. Hence, the metaverse has a massive business opportunity, including advertising, demand for new hardware, virtual events, e-commerce, etc.

As an example of the readiness for companies to adopt metaverse, consider Nike. The brand has already taken steps into the metaverse by filing for trademark applications, indicating its intention to make and sell virtual branded sneakers and apparel.

Businesses will benefit differently from the metaverse. For instance, companies manufacturing computer chips and servers stand a good chance for a significant gain to their businesses. So will cloud service providers that will be vital for the metaverse virtual worlds.

Manufacturers also will use the metaverse to create digital models of their products using digital twins technology (a virtual representation of a physical object or process). This will help adjust manufacturing processes, carry out quality control, product demos, and simulate the supply chain.

Remote work that was highly adopted due to the recent pandemic will be enhanced by the metaverse. It will be possible to have co-working spaces and carry out virtual trainings and simulations.

It also will help promote physical businesses. By interacting with objects in 3D form, shoppers can try on clothes online, check out houses, cars, etc. The ability to shop virtually means that businesses can design brands to suit different customer needs and increase retail sales.

Such possibilities mean that marketers will need to research customer behavior and preferences in the virtual space. This will require businesses to set up metaverse teams if they want to remain competitive. This is especially necessary to reach customers where they spend their time.

On the downside, there are concerns about privacy issues and data harvesting – like any other technology. The decentralized characteristic of a true metaverse also means it will be challenging to regulate. Such cases introduce risks to businesses. Nevertheless, such risks have never stopped businesses from adopting new technologies.

Conclusion

Customer experience is vital in any business. For businesses to continue maintaining long-term relationships with customers, they may have to adapt and use virtual avatars to serve as customer service agents. Thus, businesses need to be more innovative to tie existing communication channels to the metaverse channel. They can do this by formulating an entry plan to the metaverse while ensuring a balance between opportunities and risks.

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