A high-stakes competition is underway between traditional financial services institutions and disruptive FinTech startups.
The Economist reports that more than $25 billion has been invested in financial technology — FinTech — in the last five years, with 4,000 firms challenging banks in just about every product line. As financial services comprise about $1.2 trillion of U.S. GDP, increased levels of investment are likely.
Big banks have the advantage in this fight — at the moment. These institutions have well-earned reputations for safety and security. They benefit from strong, multi-generational customer relationships, have considerable brand equity, and offer myriad financial products and services.
Except well-funded, agile FinTech startups including SoFi, Billguard, Square, Wealthfront, Venmo and Neighborly are innovating and nibbling away at banks’ market share. They’re doing this by offering custom solutions for everything from student-loan refinancing and payment processing to lending and facilitating neighborhood investment.
The development of autonomous vehicles promises a future of safe and efficient roads, unimpeded by distracted, impaired, aggressive, or deliberately speeding drivers. But to achieve this, the companies involved in developing driverless cars will have to navigate significant obstacles.
The transition from personally controlled to automated vehicles can be likened to the shift that occurred over the past 20 years from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce. For traditional storeowners, security depended on door locks, alarm systems, cameras, and access to cash registers. For online retailers, security has to do with networks and software.
Similarly, the safety focus in driverless vehicles will be largely about securing the networks and software that drive the cars. Today’s cars have approximately 100 million lines of code in them. Autonomous cars will have many times more. The companies that manufacture driverless cars will have to actively manage all of the security aspects of the vehicles’ software.
Today’s carmakers have, over time, developed efficient procedures for recalling and fixing vehicles with parts identified as faulty or unsafe. Similarly, with autonomous vehicles, manufacturers will need to devise methods of identifying and fixing problems discovered in software. In many cases, repairs can be done remotely, in the same way that mobile phone and computer makers can send patches over networks. But however fixes are made, management of software supply chains will need to be as efficient as the management of the supply chains for physical parts.
The data breach at the law firm of Mossack Fonseca in Panama sent shock waves around the world recently with the prime minister of Iceland stepping aside, Swiss authorities raiding the headquarters of the Union of European Football Associations, and relatives of the president of China linked to offshore companies. The size of the breach was also shocking with 2.6 terabytes of data leaked. That’s 30 times bigger than the WikiLeaks release or the Edward Snowden materials. However, the most shocking part of the “Panama Papers” story is that the breach and exploit of the popular open source project Drupal was totally preventable.
Everyone knows that law firms manage large amounts of highly sensitive information. Whether the data involves an individual’s estate plan, a startup’s patent application, or a high-profile merger and acquisition, clients expect their information to be secure. Indeed, lawyers are required to keep this information both confidential and secure. Yet, despite the very high level of security owed this information, many firms lack an IT staff and outsource the creation and maintenance of their data management and security services. Once outsourced, there is an assumption that someone else will effectively manage the data and ensure its security.
This is many firms’ first mistake. Even if they aren’t managing their own IT, law firms still have an obligation to make sure that data is properly secured. This means asking frequent questions about security and ensuring that the vendor is implementing reasonable security measures.
If you wanted to hack a business, which one would you pick: A Fortune 500 company with a large digital-security budget and a team dedicated to protecting its cyberassets? Or a small enterprise that doesn’t employ a single IT security specialist? Of course hackers are equal-opportunity criminals, but you get my point.
Security breaches at big companies such as J.P. Morgan,Sony and Home Depotdominate the headlines, but safety measures are crucial for organizations of all shapes and sizes. According to the 2012 Verizon Data Breach Report, 71% of cyberattacks occur at businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The average cost of a data breach for those small businesses is $36,000.
We can no longer assume that hackers are solitary figures sitting in basements fiddling with their laptops. They may be members of organized-crime groups or employed by nation states, and they have resources that can destabilize entire companies and countries. These hackers constantly look for Internet vulnerabilities. They break through firewalls, infect machines, and use phishing schemes to gain access through emails to people’s passwords and Social Security numbers. They can then leverage weaknesses in applications to cause a database to output its contents.
So what can the owner of a small business do to defend himself? Here are some tips.
Mobile payments will be one of the hottest businesses in 2015 as consumers increasingly swap cash and credit cards for their smartphones. How fast the mobile payment market segment grows, however, will depend on consumer trust, security and ease of use.
While consumer-to-business (C2B) payments have taken off with companies like Apple Pay and PayPal, consumer-to-consumer (C2C) payments are the next frontier.
Reliable statistics on C2C mobile transaction growth are hard to come by. But according to Gartner Research, by 2017 the total worldwide mobile payments market is expected to reach 450 million users (18% growth a year) and be worth $721 billion (35% a year).