Quadra

Connecting Technology and Business.

Isn't AI a part of your investment today? You might be left behind!

"Harley-Davidson Uses Artificial Intelligence to Increase New York Sales Leads by 2,930%", reads an article in HBR this May. Today’s leading organizations are using machine learning–based tools to automate decision processes, and they’re starting to experiment with more-advanced uses of artificial intelligence (AI) for digital transformation. AI is already transforming web search, advertising, e-commerce, finance, logistics, media, and more.

 

Here was the status of what AI currently could do (as of November 2016) as per a founding Lead of the Google Brain team: 


Input

Response

Application

Picture

Are there human faces?

Photo tagging

Loan Application

Will they repay the loan?

Loan approvals

Ad plus user information

Will user click an ad?

Targeted online ads

Audio clip

Transcript of audio clip

Speech recognition

English sentence

French sentence

Language translation

Sensor from hard disk, plane engine

Is it about to fail?

Preventive maintenance

Car camera and other sensors

Position of other cars

Self-driving cars


Corporate investment in artificial intelligence is predicted to triple in 2017, becoming a $100 billion market by 2025. Last year alone saw $5 billion in machine learning venture investment. In a recent survey, 30% of respondents predicted that AI will be the biggest disruptor to their industry in the next five years. This will no doubt have profound effects on the workplace.


Machine learning is enabling companies to expand their top-line growth and optimize processes while improving employee engagement and increasing customer satisfaction.


Here are some possible applications of AI to Businesses today:


Personalizing customer service. The potential to improve customer service while lowering costs makes this one of the most exciting areas of opportunity. By combining historical customer service data, natural language processing, and algorithms that continuously learn from interactions, customers can ask questions and get high-quality answers. In fact, 44% of U.S. consumers already prefer chatbots to humans for customer relations. Customer service representatives can step in to handle exceptions, with the algorithms looking over their shoulders to learn what to do next time around.


Improving customer loyalty and retention. Companies can mine customer actions, transactions, and social sentiment data to identify customers who are at high risk of leaving. Combined with profitability data, this allows organizations to optimize “next best action” strategies and personalize the end-to-end customer experience. For example, young adults coming off of their parents’ mobile phone plans often move to other carriers. Telcos can use machine learning to anticipate this behavior and make customized offers, based on the individual’s usage patterns, before they defect to competitors.


Hiring the right people. Corporate job openings pull in about 250 résumés apiece, and over half of surveyed recruiters say shortlisting qualified candidates is the most difficult part of their job. Software quickly sifts through thousands of job applications and shortlists candidates who have the credentials that are most likely to achieve success at the company. Care must be taken not to reinforce any human biases implicit in prior hiring. But software can also combat human bias by automatically flagging biased language in job descriptions, detecting highly qualified candidates who might have been overlooked because they didn’t fit traditional expectations.


Automating finance. AI can expedite “exception handling” in many financial processes. For example, when a payment is received without an order number, a person must sort out which order the payment corresponds to, and determine what to do with any excess or shortfall. By monitoring existing processes and learning to recognize different situations, AI significantly increases the number of invoices that can be matched automatically. This lets organizations reduce the amount of work outsourced to service centers and frees up finance staff to focus on strategic tasks.


Measuring brand exposure. Automated programs can recognize products, people, logos, and more. For example, advanced image recognition can be used to track the position of brand logos that appear in video footage of a sporting event, such as a basketball game. Corporate sponsors get to see the return on investment of their sponsorship investment with detailed analyses, including the quantity, duration, and placement of corporate logos.


Detecting fraud. The typical organization loses 5% of revenues each year to fraud. By building models based on historical transactions, social network information, and other external sources of data, machine learning algorithms can use pattern recognition to spot anomalies, exceptions, and outliers. This helps detect and prevent fraudulent transactions in real time, even for previously unknown types of fraud. For example, banks can use historical transaction data to build algorithms that recognize fraudulent behaviour. They can also discover suspicious patterns of payments and transfers between networks of individuals with overlapping corporate connections. This type of “algorithmic security” is applicable to a wide range of situations, such as cybersecurity and tax evasion.


Predictive maintenance. Machine learning makes it possible to detect anomalies in the temperature of a train axel that indicate that it will freeze up in the next few hours. Instead of hundreds of passengers being stranded in the countryside, waiting for an expensive repair, the train can be diverted to maintenance before it fails, and passengers transferred to a different train.


Smoother supply chains. Machine learning enables contextual analysis of logistics data to predict and mitigate supply chain risks. Algorithms can sift through public social data and news feeds in multiple languages to detect, for example, a fire in a remote factory that supplies vital ball bearings that are used in a car transmission.


Other areas where machine intelligence could soon be commonly used include:


Career planning. Recommendations could help employees choose career paths that lead to high performance, satisfaction, and retention. If a person with an engineering degree wishes to run the division someday, what additional education and work experience should they obtain, and in what order?


Drone- and satellite-based asset management. Drones equipped with cameras can perform regular external inspections of commercial structures, like bridges or airplanes, with the images automatically analysed to detect any new cracks or changes to surfaces.


Retail shelf analysis. A sports drink company could use machine intelligence, coupled with machine vision, to see whether its in-store displays are at the promised location, the shelves are properly stocked with products, and the product labels are facing outward.

 

Machine learning enables a company to reimagine end-to-end business processes with digital intelligence. The potential is enormous. That’s why software vendors are investing heavily in adding AI to their existing applications and in creating net-new solutions.


- gleaned from the pages of HBR

How to keeping winning the battle against hackers

Office 365 is the fastest growing SaaS offering globally. It is also the most targeted by hackers today as phishing and Ransomware transform into business models in the Dark Web world. Breaches come from emails and misused identities and the attacks only accelerate by the minute. It is high time that Office 365 admins hack-proof their environments – and it is possible with the tools available from Microsoft – tools for studying, analyzing, warning and preventing attacks and plugging vulnerabilities.

The recent Wannacry ransomware attack has created a sense of panic among enterprises using Office 365; remember other cloud services too, are not immune to hacking attacks. Attackers use Social engineering to gain access to the victim’s identity, data and device. It is a security attack vector that involves tricking someone into breaking normal security procedures.

A social engineer runs what used to be called a "con game." Techniques such as appeal to vanity, appeal to authority and appeal to greed are often used in social engineering attacks. Many social engineering exploits simply rely on people's willingness to be helpful. For example, the attacker might pretend to be a co-worker who has some kind of urgent problem that requires access to additional network resources.  

Popular types of social engineering attacks include:

  • Baiting: Baiting is when an attacker leaves a malware-infected physical device, such as a USB flash drive in a place it is sure to be found. The finder then picks up the device and loads it onto his or her computer, unintentionally installing the malware.
  • Phishing: Phishing is when a malicious party sends a fraudulent email disguised as a legitimate email, often purporting to be from a trusted source. The message is meant to trick the recipient into sharing personal or financial information or clicking on a link that installs malware.
  • Spear phishing: Spear phishing is like phishing, but tailored for a specific individual or organization.
  • Pretexting: Pretexting is when one party lies to another to gain access to privileged data. For example, a pretexting scam could involve an attacker who pretends to need personal or financial data in order to confirm the identity of the recipient.
  • Scareware: Scareware involves tricking the victim into thinking his computer is infected with malware or has inadvertently downloaded illegal content. The attacker then offers the victim a solution that will fix the bogus problem; in reality, the victim is simply tricked into downloading and installing the attacker's malware.

Security experts recommend that IT departments regularly carry out penetration tests that use social engineering techniques. This will help administrators learn which types of users pose the most risk for specific types of attacks while also identifying which employees require additional training. Security awareness training can go a long way towards preventing social engineering attacks. If people know what forms social engineering attacks are likely to take, they will be less likely to become victims.

Fortunately, Microsoft provides enough tools to protect its users and especially Office 365 subscribers from such attacks.

Exchange Online Protection (EOP)

Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is a cloud-based email filtering service that helps protect your organization against spam and malware, and includes features to safeguard your organization from messaging-policy violations. EOP can simplify the management of your messaging environment and alleviate many of the burdens that come with maintaining on-premises hardware and software.

As a part of Microsoft Exchange Online   By default, EOP protects Microsoft Exchange Online cloud-hosted mailboxes. Exchange Online Protection provides protection against malicious links by scanning content.

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
  • Securing mailboxes - With Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection, admins can protect mailboxes against new, sophisticated attacks in real time. By protecting against unsafe attachments and expanding protection against malicious links, it complements the security features of Exchange Online Protection to provide better zero-day protection.
  • Protection against Unsafe Attachments - With Safe Attachments, admins can prevent malicious attachments from impacting the messaging environment, even if their signatures are not known. All suspicious content goes through a real-time behavioral malware analysis that uses machine learning techniques to evaluate the content for suspicious activity. 
  • Unsafe attachments are sandboxed in a detonation chamber before being sent to recipients. The advantage is a malware free and cleaner inbox with better zero-day attack protection.
  • Protection of the environment when users click malicious links - Safe Links expands on EOP by protecting the O365 environment when users click a link. While the content is being scanned, the URLs are rewritten to go through Office 365. The URLs are examined in real time, at the time a user clicks them. URL detonation provides deeper protection against malicious URLs. Not only does Microsoft check a list of malicious URLs when a user clicks on a link, but Office 365 will also perform real-time behavioural malware analysis in a sandbox environment to identify malicious attachments. URL reputation checks are part of Advanced Threat Protection. If a link is unsafe, the user is warned not to visit the site or informed that the site has been blocked. Reporting is available, so administrators can track which users clicked a link and when they clicked it.
  • Dynamic delivery— Better performance and lower latency for emails with attachments. Users will see a placeholder while attachments are scanned in a sandbox environment. If deemed safe, attachments are re-inserted into the email.
  • Rich reporting and tracking links in messages — Gaining critical insights into who is being targeted in the organization and the category of attacks the organization is facing. Reporting and message trace allow admins to investigate messages that have been blocked due to unknown viruses or malware, while URL trace capability allows admins to track individual malicious links in the messages that have been clicked. Get better insights to malware activity. Security admins will have a new reporting dashboard to see details of malware that Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection is analyzing.
  • Intelligence sharing with Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection— Security admins will be able to see malware activity and relationships across Windows 10 and Office 365.
  • Broader protection— Advanced Threat Protection extends to include protection for SharePoint Online, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive for Business. 
Threat Intelligence
  • The office 365 Threat Intelligence service provides information on security using data from various sources. The data is harvested via the Microsoft Intelligent security Graph technology. Organizations are being targeted with increasingly sophisticated attacks. 
  • Threat Intelligence, which helps admins proactively uncover and protect against advanced threats by analysing billions of data signals across Office consumer and commercial services.
  • It also provides deep insights from cyber threat hunters to create a comprehensive view of malware trends around the world. In addition, Microsoft is integrating signals from Windows and Azure to help customers realize the full benefit of the Microsoft Cloud.
  • Security admins will see a dashboard with rich insights to do deep investigation of malware and will be able to integrate data with existing security management tools.
  • Threat Intelligence takes it a step further by alerting security admins and proactively creating and suggesting security policies to help protect against malware. For example, if analytics show that attacks are happening in the financial industry, the service will alert customers in finance and related areas to the trend. Threat Intelligence will also dynamically create and suggest additional security policies to help protect you before they get to your network.

 

Advanced Data Governance

Microsoft has also brought Advanced Data Governance to Office 365 to help customers manage the exploding volume and increasing complexity of corporate data. Microsoft applies intelligence to help admins achieve organizational compliance and automate data retention.

Enterprises will be able to classify, set policy and take action on the data that is most relevant for their organization and industry, with recommendations driven by behavioral analysis and machine learning.

 

Advanced Data Governance includes the following capabilities:

  • Import—Intelligently import only the data needed from on-premises and third-party archives using classifications such as age, data type, user or groups, sensitivity or importance.
  • Policies—Policy recommendations are provided, based on machine assisted insights of the data, classifications, tenant, organization, industry, geography and more. Recommendations may include delete, move, encrypt or share.
  • Retention—Intelligently preserve only what’s important to the organization by using classifications such as keywords, age, data type, user or group, sensitivity, importance. Integration with line-of-business systems allows admins to trigger retention based upon events, such as creation of a human resources record.

 Advanced Data Governance will help organizations apply the right actions to preserve high value data and purge redundant or obsolete data.

 

Advanced Security Management (ASM)

 

Microsoft has launched Advanced Security Management to help give organizations visibility and control over security in Office 365.

 

They have added a new feature lately called Productivity App Discovery, which will help IT pros and security operations teams understand their organization’s usage of Office 365 and other productivity cloud services. This will help them to better determine the extent to which shadow IT is occurring in their organization.

 

Productivity App Discovery shows usage of Office 365 and other productivity cloud services. App Permissions will assist in monitoring applications that users are connecting to Office 365.

 

Office 365 Secure Score

The Office 365 Secure Score is available to help organization evaluate their security level in Office 365. Secure Score analyzes an Office 365 organization’s security based on their regular activities and security settings and assigns a score. It is a credit score for security.

Secure Score figures out what Office 365 services an organization is using (like OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange) then looks at the settings and activities and compares them to a baseline established by Microsoft. O365 admins get a score based on how aligned they are with best security practices.

Using Secure Score helps increase an organization’s security by encouraging them to use the built-in security features in Office 365 (many of which they have already purchased but might not be aware of). Learning more about these features as they use the tool will help give them piece of mind that they are taking the right steps to protect their organization from threats.

Admins must check secure scores reports weekly. A sample list of reports is presented here:

  • Sign-ins after multiple failure report
  • Sign-ins from unknown sources report
  • Sign-ins from multiple geographies report
  • Mailbox access by non-owners report
  • Malware detections report
  • Sing-in devices report
  • Account provisioning activity report
  • Non-global administrators report
Making use of these features that are made available by Microsoft will help enterprises not only defend themselves  from hackers but also keep winning the battles against them.