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Women in Security: Enterprises in Security Should Seek Curiousity and Attitude

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Serra Luck, the Vice President for Strategic Business Development at HID Global, speaks about why she chose the security industry as her career choice

Tell us about yourself and your current job role.
I was born and grew up in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and have earned my degree in Statistics from Middle East Technical University. At that time analytics and statistical models had been used in finance mostly however after a summer trainee program at a renowned financial institute, I decided to progress in the technology sector where I could be close to innovation and rapid change and could work in an environment where I would have customer-facing contact.

Technology was exciting even 30 years back, I  worked with computers that were the size of a fridge and discs that were the size of a physical music album (LP), have seen the worldwide web take off, and learned statistical programming. I moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1997 and worked for Oracle in their EMEA Direct Marketing Division until I decided to pursue an MBA. I earned my master’s degree in international management in Germany in 2000.

From 2000 to 2010, I had the opportunity to apply my analytics, technology, and management skills at Siemens Headquarters in Munich. There I worked at various customer-facing roles in business development across information and communication and medical segments with a focus on identity and access management. Identity and privacy had been two pillars that kept me intrigued over the years especially with the dawn of cloud, connectivity, and IoT.

HID and I crossed our paths during HID’s pursuit to connect physical access control with logical access and provide the best of both worlds to their channel. I felt I could make a difference and combine my acumen of the IT and identity business with the physical dimension. That is why I decided to join HID in 2010.

At HID I held various positions, starting with Segment Management. After that, I moved towards business development for mobile access. At the time when I stepped into that role many years back, mobile access was a new concept in the security industry. Back then we have built the foundation for what the offering has evolved into today. The role was exciting, I was part of the core team that incubated and led HID, the industry market leader, into a new offering as well as a new business model. From there on I was promoted into roles to set up end-user and consultant business practices, inside sales team, and build sales excellence across the global business.

Today I lead the strategic business development team for the largest business area of HID, namely Physical Access Control Solutions (PACS).  In my current role, I am responsible for leading the vertical engagement, consultant specification, strategic alliances, marketing, and sales excellence teams for PACS globally. Looking back, the red thread in my career so far has been a lot around transformation and change management next to the technical, sales, and business development parts I get a lot of energy out of change management. Empowering teams, departments, and business units to embark on a journey to discover new territories and challenging the status quo is something I enjoy very much.

Tell us about your journey into the security industry. Was the security industry your first choice?
HID being a leader in the identity space with credential authentication, authorization and administration capabilities were and are clearly innovating and genuinely investing to make physical security a strategic stakeholder in IT transformations. Everything I did in the IAM (Identity and Access Management) space was connected to security, compliance, and governance with a focus on software and services. HID added the hardware dimension to the multifaceted security approach.

From my perspective, the security industry makes a difference in people’s lives. What we do as an industry helps to mitigate risks, we strive to enable our customers to create trusted environments so that they and the people who use them can fulfill their potential and have ease of mind when it comes to being secure to move freely.

Have a look at what we do for K-12, for universities, hospitals, airports, age care facilities, multi-tenant buildings; we are genuinely in the business of protecting people, things, and places. We have a responsibility, we have a brand promise, “ it just works” we deliver reliable, durable, and easy-to-use products and services with the highest security standards in the market and best in class customer support. Technology, innovation, and the element of protecting what matters pulled me into this industry; that is why I am still here. Having seen the impact of what we do, my respect for the security industry and for those who serve keep growing to date.

During your tenure in the security industry have you experienced major changes the industry has gone through?
I did and these are very remarkable moves. The first one I can call out is the move from hardware to software and services. HID-led mobile access has been a strategic shift in the security mindset of end-users as well as security installers/integrators from an added-value perspective. The possibility of giving and revoking access rights in real-time, using different form factors other than a badge, opens many opportunities in a connected ecosystem.

The second one is digitisation. Industry 4.0 and digitization are not only about automation and robotics. Digital engagement/marketing, social engineering, user journey-focused agile development, and innovation are also prominently finding their foundation in the physical access control world. How we communicate and what we communicate to our end-users have fundamentally changed; with the possibility of using Omni-channels to access information and any offer, we are much more cognizant of the desires of the user and user experience.

Then third the commoditization of IT and us expecting to receive every service at our workplace with the same ease and speed and simplicity as we have in the private world; that means if I am able to buy, subscribe, delete, activate, terminate, update service with a click in the private world, why cannot I do that at work? That is why we have invested/continue to invest heavily in the cloud to give this ability to our customers.

Finally the return to workplace challenges: Will we work all the time from an office or not? How will this impact us and our channel and end-users in the coming years? How can we adapt to change? The voice of customer efforts we lead across functions evaluates all angles that will ease adapting to changing requirements.

Are there any challenges you face on a day-to-day basis working in this industry?
Working in a global business and having a team in many corners of the world from California to Sydney, the current travel restrictions and regional lockdown policies as well as resulting remote work situations are challenges. I guess we are all taking our toll in connecting with our customers, with our teams, and our people. While we do our utmost, homo sapiens is (I am) a social creature, we need live interaction, we want to debate face to face, we want to mingle. We have new members of the team who never had the chance to meet the larger team face to face. We all look forward to seeing each other again.

What sort of future do you foresee for the security industry as a whole?
Security is there to stay but will go beyond security as well playing a vital role in bigger ecosystems. In my view, the industry will transform and merge with IT in the years to come. We will see a time where we will move in spaces and those spaces will recognize us. There will be mechanisms that will adjust all ecosystem controls towards the individual automatically and in crowds, with machine learning and patterns the systems will advise best options or even pick for you. So technology in combination with new ways of identification and authentication will most likely change the known access control user experience we see today fundamentally.

Data analytics will derive conclusions and the assets-related predictive analytics will evolve to more sophisticated security predictions/forecasts. Identity will play the most crucial role and whoever holds the identity of whoever is favored as the most reliable identity holder will scale. This will not be limited to governments, private enterprises will be part of this. The security experts will walk to a site and let augmented reality tools guide them for best practices. Digital competent installers/integrators will provide less error-prone services.

End users will have a full view of their assets and maintenance maps. Due to all these technology shifts, we are seeing the dynamic of new entrants offering adjacent and complementary functionality to traditionally single-purpose physical security offerings. All these changes will lead to a new dynamic as to who provides value where and the role of players in our renewed industry.

What more needs to be done to welcome more and more women into the security industry?
While I look for new team members, the most important attribute I seek and encourage is curiosity. The second is an attitude; the right “can do” attitude. We should encourage enterprises in security to seek curiosity and attitude. Education and technical knowledge may be gained over time but others not. That is why I encourage recruiting women who have these traits, and where possible directly from universities and coach and grow them. I know for a fact that for us that had been a rewarding experience and we will continue to do so.

I do not think we make a good job of marketing the value of the security industry in our job advertisements. We should speak to the desires of women who seek diversity, who seek to make a change, who look to take part in projects that have a meaningful impact. Security has many aspects which can intrigue women that seek a career in innovation, technology, analytics, risk management. The security industry is that place because it holds all these elements. Our eye for detail, multi-tasking nature, and conflict management skills are of great value when it is a matter of creating trusted environments.

Also, I call on employers to consider the positive impact of diversity at the leadership table. Diversity can come from many areas including gender diversity, women and men have different gifts. I strongly believe that companies need to diversify to remain competitive. Bringing in people with different backgrounds and perspectives can lead to better decision-making, greater innovation, and higher engagement in the workplace; different views stimulate creative problem-solving.

Albert Einstein says the best: We must not only learn to tolerate our differences. We must welcome them as the richness and diversity which can lead to true intelligence.

Cyber Security

Surge in Ransomware Attacks Has Made Effective Cyber Security and Defence a Top Priority

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Emad Fahmy, the Systems Engineering Manager for Middle East at NETSCOUT, speaks about the evolving threat landscape in the region

How has the security threat landscape evolved in recent months?
According to a 2021 survey by PwC, cybersecurity is a growing concern for organizations, with approximately 43% of Middle East CEOs planning to increase investments in cybersecurity and data privacy by 10% or more over the next three years. Moreover, 41% of these leaders think that their organization should be doing more to measure cybersecurity. The ever-evolving threat environment has made it increasingly necessary to be vigilant.

Cybercrimes continue to grow in terms of both complexity and frequency. Among the businesses that identify breaches or attacks, 21% lose money, data, or other assets, and 35% report being negatively impacted in other ways and suffering from wider business disruption. As such, it’s vital for enterprises to ensure the security of data, applications, networks, and critical business processes to stay competitive and thwart attackers. Depending on traditional security solutions and methodologies isn’t enough to combat the sophisticated attacks that target businesses today.

Is ransomware still an issue?
It is, unfortunately. The unprecedented surge in ransomware attacks has made effective cyber security and defence a top priority in today’s world. Every day, new ransomware attacks are reported by businesses and government authorities alike, not to mention the attacks that go unreported, and it seems like no one is immune.

Threat intelligence is vital to combat ransomware attacks. Threat intelligence is the study of the bad actors who perpetrate these attacks, along with the tactics and tools they use. This involves unveiling the bad actor’s attack methodologies and why they are targeting those victims. This knowledge is then turned into actionable insight that enterprises can access and comprehend. Empowered with this knowledge, enterprises can learn about their network’s vulnerabilities to actively defend against ransomware.

Companies have been trying to protect the endpoint for years. How can companies make sure endpoints are protected and monitored for attacks and mitigation?
As service providers increasingly focus on cloud services, edge computing, end-users, and endpoint devices, the traditional approach of utilizing distributed detection solutions in concert with centralized mitigation centres within the network is no longer enough. However, mitigation measures that are distributed out to the network edge necessitate both infrastructure and intelligent defence capabilities that are capable of working hand in hand across locations and platforms.

A more modern threat mitigation strategy involves distributing both detection and mitigation functions throughout the network to intercept threats nearer to the source. In this way, network operators can stop attacks upstream, instead of having to incur the cost of peering and transit link traffic that is only going to be discarded once it reaches a centralized scrubbing centre. By conducting the scrubbing as close as possible to the threat source, service providers can reduce any potential impact on traffic, helping to ensure high-quality service.

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Interviews

Video: Axis Inaugurates Experience Center in Dubai

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Axis Communications has opened an Axis Experience Center (AEC) in Dubai. As the first experience center in the Middle East & Africa (MEA) region, the center has been designed to offer visitors an intimate look at the wide range of network and security solutions offered by the world’s leading surveillance services provider. We speak with Rudie Opperman to learn more:

To know more about the Axis Experience Center, log on to www.axis.com/axis-experience-center/

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Interviews

Podcast: Bringing Innovation in Access Control and Workforce Management

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In this episode of Future Tech Podcast Show, we are joined by Shiraz Kapadia, CEO, and President at Invixium, who speaks about the company, the products and solutions it offers on the market, and its regional plans:

We are also available on Anchor.fm, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, PocketCasts, and OverCast.

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