Agility and Anticipation, a Tale of Two Business Strategies  By Daniel Burrus

StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

When the competition launches a new product, how do you react? Chances are, you act quickly and decisively to address the changing factors and conditions.

In short, you use agility to change directions and head the competition off at the pass. But what if you could skip that pivot altogether?

Think about some of the most powerful, most industry-disruptive products and services that have become well-known of late. Put them in context with the concept of agility.

Did Kickstarter become a dominant force in the growing crowdsourcing industry because it was agile? Was agility the driving force behind Facebook’s dominance in social media? Of course not. The reason is that agility is a form of reaction to an outside force.

1. Agility Is Reactionary, Not Proactive

Your organization may be the fastest around at being agile, but it’s still a form of reaction, something of an after-the-fact event. You’re taking on problems as they happen, putting out fires here and there.

2. Agility Is a Lateral Move, Not a Forward One

Moreover, agility doesn’t allow you to innovate and jump ahead of the competition. As examples such as Kickstarter and Facebook illustrate, game-changing products and services don’t happen because of agility; they happen because of anticipation.

3. Agility Is Outside-In, Which Is Limiting

The level of pervasive disruption that you need comes from the inside out (making the first move) rather than the outside in (moving in response to something).

By using strategies such as Hard Trends (those things we know for certain are going to occur) and Soft Trends (those that may occur but are open to influence), you can anticipate the future and, from there, plan accordingly. That’s a dynamic force that moves from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

Agility and Anticipation: Better Together

Although my Anticipatory Organization Model is geared to showing both organizations and individuals how to anticipate the future and to make decisions with the utmost confidence, it would be unreasonable to suggest that agility is utterly obsolete. Not at all.

No matter how adept we are at anticipating the future, there will inevitably be problems and events that call for some form of response. Given that, my question is: Would the ability to effectively anticipate the future make you and your organization more agile?

The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s paint a scenario to illustrate that point.

Being a Company That Anticipates

Your organization is highly regulated by the government. Being anticipatory, you’re constantly on the lookout for new laws that will impact your activities. In monitoring new legislation, you spot a bill that will affect your organization’s tax structure. It seems likely to pass, so you notify your attorneys to begin work on restructuring your employee benefits plan to take advantage of the new guidelines.

The bill becomes law, and your organization is already set to leverage the new rules. By contrast, other organizations also affected by the legislation are forced to scramble after the fact.

That illustrates how being anticipatory makes an organization much more agile—a trait valued by many leaders. Even better, by anticipating what may occur in the future, an anticipatory organization is effectively positioned to act in advance—to pre-solve a problem before it really becomes a major headache.

What events and developments can you anticipate to become that much more agile?

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Protect Your Business From Hackers at Points of Vulnerability By Ernest Thompson

stevepb / Pixabay

Every business, regardless of how good they think they’re doing with cybersecurity, or their size, is vulnerable to hackers. There are points of vulnerability all over your company from top to bottom.

You need to protect these points of vulnerability, encrypt your data, and get you and your employees up to snuff. Let’s get to work on protecting your business from a solopreneur project, to a startup with dozens of employees!

Protect your business from hackers

Knowing what the risks are

The first thing you should do is know what the three biggest risks are. If you don’t know where you are vulnerable you cannot protect yourself. The most common issues faced by businesses are:

  • Phishing: This is when hackers send messages through email, or social media, which appear to be genuine. They can appear to come from the CEO, from an internal security agency, or anyone else with authority. They will then prompt the person that is being phished to give over important information. This shows that one of your most vulnerable points is your employees, and human error.
  • Malware: This is when a hacker has the opportunity to install malicious programs on your computer network. This commonly happens when an employee downloads something onto one of their machines that they should not. Malware can also gain access through advertising on the Internet.
  • System hacking: This may sound really fancy, but the most common form of system hacking is done with a brute force tool. These tools will try to guess the login details, especially passwords, for your systems. They will simply guess thousands of times per second until they are correct.

These three issues are the most common forms of hacking against a company. They are not particularly sophisticated, nor do they need to be as so many companies leave themselves vulnerable.

Encrypting your company data

Finding ways to encrypt all of your company data, at all times, is essential to protecting your business. Here are the most vulnerable times for your information and when it should be encrypted:

  • Full disk encryption: Most operating systems have a default encryption setting. All you have to do is turn on full disk encryption for your individual machines and they will be able to protect any data on them. It doesn’t slow down the machines, it doesn’t make your employees less productive, and yet it still protects your business. Learn about full disk encryption for Mac and for Windows.
  • Public Wi-Fi: From time to time, you’re going to find yourself using public Wi-Fi for business reasons. At times like these, you need to turn to the corporate VPNs that companies have been using for decades. These tools encrypt your data right at the source of your computer all the way to the server you’re connecting to. You cannot neglect this type of encryption due to something known as a man in the middle, or even a fake WAP, attack. These take place specifically on public Wi-Fi networks which you think are secure… But are controlled by a hacker.
  • Cloud storage: You cannot automatically assume that your cloud storage provider encrypts and protects your data. You need to choose cloud storage providers such as SpiderOakOne, Certain Safe, and Sync.com.

These are three points when you need to make certain that you have encryption on your side. Hackers can’t stand it when you use encryption. It makes their job difficult. When their job is made difficult, they move to another target.

Securing the hardware of your business

Sometimes, it doesn’t come down to any sort of fancy computer skills. Some of the worst hacks happen because hardware is not secured. You have to make sure that your devices are physically locked down.

Device locks

The first step in physically locking down your machines is using something like Kensington lock ports. These physically tie your machine down to a desk. They’re not foolproof, but they certainly slow someone down who is trying to steal your device. Again, slowing a hacker down makes their job more difficult and makes them more likely to move to another target.

The other type of device lot that you need to look at is digital locks. I am referring to your machines requiring some sort of password in order for them to be opened. These digital locks can help you out when your physical locks fail you.

Server room locks

If a hacker ever gets access to your server room… It’s all over. Once in here there is an absolutely limitless number of things that they can do to compromise the security of your business. It’s almost like the last line of defense is a simple lock on a door. You’re going to need to:

  • Limit the number of people who have access to your server room.
  • Install a door which automatically closes.
  • Install a door which automatically locks when it closes.
  • Make sure that your employees know the importance of this door being locked and closed, and not propped open.

Making sure that the server room is locked is not sexy, but that door is a definite point of vulnerability for your business.

Change your company culture

In the old days, most company culture security practices began and ended with a sign that said “No employees beyond this point.” And that was it, you made sure that your employees knew that no one went beyond that point. That obviously no longer cuts it.

Here is how you will change your company culture:

  • Have a formal Internet policy and train your employees. Make sure that there are consequences for those who breach it so that it has meaning to them. Tell people what can and can’t be access within the office. Cover attachments, apps, personal email, and devices used.
  • Make each employee aware of how their position is vulnerable to hackers. Your cashiers need to be aware of POS scams, while your office staff need to be aware of access control and badge use.
  • Have regular briefings on new threats that could impact any member of your team. Keep things personal rather than addressing everyone. They have plenty to worry about without getting updates on something which applies to the night staff leaving doors open when they’re in accounting.
  • Make sure that the information they get is from an expert on your IT team. Have a lead contact on the team, and try not to have management with little knowledge guide policy, or assist employees. Your team deserves a competent, knowledgable, and adaptable employee. They deserve better than a half-knowledgable manager reading from a policy.

If this doesn’t change your company culture, you need to change employees that don’t get in line. Out of everything discussed above, it always comes down to your employee’s actions.

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Prevention Isn’t Enough. Why All Companies Need Detection Too By Travis Wilkins

Prevention Detection Blog Banner.png

How would you know if your prevention methods failed to catch a critical threat? One of two ways: Either a customer, an auditor, or another third party would find out about it (an embarrassing situation for you) or you could get lucky and find it yourself — which is rare without detection.

Prevention techniques and technologies (e.g., security controls, firewalls, encryption, antivirus), are designed to block an attacker from getting in, and can be critical to your security strategy. However, they can’t be the only defense you have in place. If history is any indicator (and we believe it is), attackers will find a way in. So, as a defender, you also need the ability to detect threats once they are inside your modern cloud infrastructure. That’s why companies are shifting their focus to detection techniques and technologies (e.g., monitoring, alerting).

In this post, we’ll explain what detection does that prevention cannot, what to watch out for if you’re relying on prevention alone, and how you can use them in parallel.

Detection Keeps Prevention Honest

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Trust, but verify.” You want to trust that your prevention techniques are working, but how would you know if they were not? That’s where detection tools come into play.

Detection tools (such as an IDS or continuous monitoring solution) give you continuous visibility into activity within your modern environment. They not only alert you about known issues (e.g., CVEs and previously disclosed threats), but also about new and unknown ones that may be trying to slip past defenses. With this information, you can quickly make decisions, such as whether to patch a server, shut down access to an application, or write a new script to detect similar events in the future. This is something prevention tools are not built to do, because that’s not their purpose.

While tools like firewalls or antivirus can mitigate common and known security events, they weren’t designed to detect new threats, and on top of that, many prevention tools don’t have built-in alerting to notify you in real-time about new issues. It’s important to note here that some security solutions may offer both prevention and detection, just be sure you understand what it is and understand its purpose.

A good rule of thumb is to have a detection control for every prevention control you have in place. Especially if you’re running in the cloud, you know that new threats are always cropping up, so it’s inevitable that some undiscovered attack will slip past your prevention solutions, which is where detection comes in.

When Prevention Fails

Statistically speaking, prevention will fail at some point. And one of the biggest reasons companies are rushing to adopt detection solutions is that workload payloads are moving to the cloud.

In the cloud, companies are able to operate at scale. As they scale, detection becomes more and more critical because changes happen rapidly and there are a greater number of endpoints to watch.

Gartner put it best: “Treat the cloud as an opportunity to apply fresh thinking and to adopt new methods for defending information from attack.” While prevention was popular back in the days when static, on-premise environments were less prone to today’s invasive and tricky attacks, we’re operating on a whole new battlefield in today’s cloud.

With hundreds or thousands of hosts running at any given moment, having the ability to see into all of them, understand when new threats and vulnerabilities try to make their way in, and shut down hosts and apps to stop threats in their tracks is key to being effective in the cloud. Consider now your best opportunity to rethink security with cloud-based detection.

How Detection and Prevention Go Hand-in-Hand

This is not to say you should throw your prevention tools and techniques out the window. Detection tools collect the data you need to have (the who, what, where, and when) about a security event as it’s happening, so your security team can respond at the speed and scale of the cloud. Prevention doesn’t offer this intel because it’s only designed to block, not aid in an investigation. In practice, you should look to use prevention techniques and tools in order to keep known threats out, and layer on detection capabilities so you can find and remove new and unknown threats.

This way, if there is ever a point of failure or a gap in coverage (and there inevitably will be), your second-layer defense (detection) will kick in, keeping you in the know. Even more, detection will help you see where your gaps are anywhere in your security infrastructure so you can continuously develop more robust defenses.

Final Words . . .

It’s never been more important to have the ability to simultaneously identify intrusions, vulnerabilities, insider threats, and data loss. And not only should you have the ability to detect when anomalous activity happens, but also know exactly where it is and how to respond to it. Automated monitoring is an intelligent form of detection that not only alerts you about potential threats, but also gives you contextual and historical data to inform your response so you can get right to work.

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Digital Transformation: Finding Your Data is Half the Battle By Roger Nolan

3093594 / Pixabay

You’ve undoubtedly heard all the hype about the volume of data doubling every two years. The sad fact is that first, it’s true and second, 50% of data is coming from external (read: less controllable) sources. That means it’s getting harder and harder to find the forest (read: business insight) for the trees. Wouldn’t it be great if you had a data catalog that could show you exactly what data you have across your entire organization?

A Wall Street journal article estimated that 50% to 80% of any data project is spent on data discovery and data prep. I would estimate, based on talking to customers, that the great majority of that time is spent just on data discovery. It’s a fact: the first step in any data-driven digital transformation project is finding the data you will need to drive the new analytics and new business processes that are core to the success of that project.

Let’s look at a few examples. Customers tend to talk of the “journeys” they are on as they build the data strategy and architecture that will fuel their digital transformation initiatives, so let’s discuss it that way:

  • The Journey to Data Lakes:
    Nobody has achieved success by throwing all their data into a data lake and hoping for an amazing insight to emerge. But, I have certainly seen organizations try. The more likely path to success is to pick a functional area (like Marketing) and an important business problem to solve (like optimized lead conversion, improved wallet share, etc.). The next step is to identify and gather all the data that is relevant to that specific problem and ingest it into the data lake. This will very likely be a combination of internal structured data, internal unstructured data (weblogs), and a wide variety of external data from third parties and partners. The question is: how will you find this data? As you can see, it is scattered all over your organization.
  • The Journey to Cloud:
    A lot of organizations take the approach that they will simply start a new CRM cloud application, for example, by loading the relevant data from their current on-premises CRM system, and then, voila! they are ready to go. Unfortunately, if organizations stop at this point they will never get full-value from their new CRM systems. Sure, a good starting point is to migrate your current CRM data over to the new system, but there is a lot of other data that from other systems that would have relevance in this environment. The biggest examples would be customer data and data from marketing automation systems. There also needs to be a data flow the other direction as well. It is probably very important to synch data in the new cloud CRM system with other transactional and analytical systems, both on premises and in the cloud, on a regular basis. Suddenly, with a relatively simple example, we have a fairly complicated bi-directional data synchronization requirement between this cloud CRM system and multiple cloud and on-premises applications. How will you determine what data you have and what data is important to keep synched up across your very distributed environment?
  • The Journey to Enterprise Data Governance:
    So, let’s say that you are a new data steward for the Marketing function. Congratulations! Do you know where the data you are trying to manage is located? Or, take expensive marketing research: Do you know who has this data in your organization? Do you know if multiple people are buying this research without knowing if other employees already have it? It’s like they say in baseball, “you can’t tell your players without a scorecard.”
  • The Journey to Modern Data Integration:
    This is a pretty common situation: Organizations have accumulated dozens or hundreds of systems over decades of time and many M&A transactions. After a while it looks like a technology history museum. And all of it is cobbled together with a collection of point-to-point data integrations that the business depends on as the “currency” that runs the business. How will you make a requested change to this complex environment?

    • To consolidate on a modern application?
    • To augment a data warehouse with a data lake and machine learning?

Touching anything could cause a major failure to the overall environment. You need to be able to start by figuring out what data the new systems require, where it resides today, and how to get it to where it needs to be in order to provide value to the organization – without disrupting the ongoing business.

And the data management challenge does not stop there.

  • Can you find the data? It may very well be in multiple systems, cloud and on-premises. Do you have duplicate versions of the data? Which version do you choose?
  • Do you trust the data? Remember that a lot of that CRM data is typed in by sales reps. Just how accurate, fresh and complete is that data? You will also need to think about some data cleansing.
  • Suppose you want to do some analytics. That is undoubtedly going to require joining two or more tables together and anybody who has tried to do that will know how complicated finding and using the right keys can be.

Data-driven digital transformation isn’t just about shiny new business models. It’s also about speed. A 2017 KPMG study found that “Speed to market” was the #1 CEO priority. So, how exactly do you achieve speed?

It can’t just be IT doing all the data management work we have described above. They don’t have the resources or bandwidth to scale up for all the new initiatives that are coming to them. The focus on digital transformation means that the demand for trustworthy and timely data has never been higher. And worse, IT lacks the business context to understand the relevant context of the data.

What we are looking for here is a way for business people to effectively discover, manage, and use data quickly and that takes an enterprise-class data catalog solution. What are you look for in a data catalog?

  • Enterprise Visibility:
    It must provide enterprise-wide visibility into ALL of your data. A great solution for only structured data or only cloud data (for example) will not solve the problem.

  • Ease of Use:
    It must be easy for business users to use. It must enable business analysts, data analysts, data stewards, and others to self-serve their data needs. Specifically, users of Tableau, Qlik, or Microstrategy should be able to self-service their data for analytics use without IT assistance.
  • Productive:
    It must be intelligent. It has to automate routine activities to make people more productive and willing to take on data tasks. More importantly, it has to provide intelligent recommendations. How do you get people to use prepared data sets that already exist instead of trying to re-create the wheel by doing the work from scratch? Experience has shown that people do not have much patience for searching for existing work to re-use, but if that existing work was proactively offered them as an intelligent suggestion, it is an entirely different matter.

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5 Great Examples of Push Notifications To Re-Engage Lapsed Users By Justina Perro

One of the best parts about push notifications is your ability to reach users outside of the app. You don’t need to wait until they come back to your app (if they ever do). Instead, a push notification can serve as a friendly tap on the shoulder to remind users about how awesome you are.

An effective re-engagement push notification should entice users to come back to you by reminding you of exactly why you downloaded the app to begin with.

What does a good re-engagement push notification look like? Below are 5 real-life examples I received over the past 2 weeks:

1. Sweet Green

sweetgreen-2.png
SweetGreen’s “last chance” push is the perfect example of how to drive customers back into your store. The above push notification has all the elements to entice me to visit the salad chain for lunch.

The timing of the push is spot on. I don’t know about you, but by 10:50am my stomach is rumbling and I’m just waiting for the clock to strike 11am so it’s acceptable to start talking lunch plans.

Combine the opportune timing with the sense of urgency that their most popular salad will soon be gone (plus great use of the salad emoji!), and there’s no doubt this push had plenty of people hitting up SweetGreen for lunch.

2. Yelp

yelp.png

If delicious looking pastries aren’t enough to win you over, do you even have a heart? Yelp delivers all the key elements of a world-class push with this one:

  • It’s a rich push notification
  • It’s personalized to the end user 2 fold: they use my name and location
  • It has an emoji

Hats off to Yelp for nailing it with this one. Rich push and personalization are only going to become even more important as we look towards 2018 (too soon?).

3. Reddit

Reddit push.png

Who doesn’t love a little TIL from Reddit? I used to read this subreddit often, but truth be told I hadn’t visited it in quite a while. Reddit clearly recognized my lapse in sessions and serve up this engaging push to remind me what I’ve been missing.

Since receiving this I’ve picked up my visits to not only the TIL subreddit, but my overall time in the app.

4. Amazon

Amazon push.png

Back-to-school online? For my generation, this was non-existent, but for today’s kids it’s their new reality. Amazon’s push serves as a great reminder to parents that they’re a one-stop-shop for all of their back-to-school needs for all of their kids, regardless of age.

The key to maximizing the results of a message like this are to make sure you target it at parents.

5. Podcast

podcasts.png

Podcasts are all the rage right now.

Letting users know when the latest episode from their favorite podcasts is live is a perfect way to keep them in the know and coming back to the app.

Final Thoughts

Re-engagement is a critical part of every mobile app marketing strategy. And while push notifications are an incredibly powerful tool at your disposal to drive users back into your app, it’s also an easy one to screw up.

Any re-engagement push notifications you send need to fully consider behavioral information about the user. As much as it hurts, these users have clearly lost interest in you so you’re on thin ice.

You usually have one chance to win them back so make sure your push is tailored to the end user and very enticing. Follow suit of the above examples and you’ll be in good shape.

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What Would James Bond Do? Security Measures Fit for 007 By Scott Kortright

James Bond is known for impeccable taste in clothes, cars and cocktails. Not to mention, cool gadgets and tricks up his sleeve like wristwatch lasers and passenger ejector seats. Along with the style and grace, keeping data safe and intelligence top secret is still top of mind for Bond.

This got us thinking: If given a choice, what would the world’s daring Secret Service agent choose to authenticate his identity? Or has he already used different systems, and in what capacity? As an MI6 agent, however, shouldn’t Bond try to be less conspicuous, and put a premium on security over style?

jamesb2.jpg

Photo by Ludovic Bertron

Mission-critical online service

Bond is on a mission. He desperately needs to access information in an unsecure internet line. Bond is required to log-in using a username and password plus a secondary factor — SMS text to a ‘burn phone’ or an alphanumeric code displayed on his wristwatch. If he’s logging in outside the secure realm of MI6-issued computers, he may be required to scan his fingerprint as well. Multi-factor authentication can deter potential prying eyes from getting access to sensitive data.

But is fingerprint scanning safe enough?

In Skyfall, Bond had a slick, biometrically encoded pistol that uses a palm scanner to lock out unauthorized users. The Walther PPK is coded to Bond’s palm prints to allow him, and only him, to fire the gun. Talk about the ultimate security protection. There’s also a radio transmitter to trace Bond’s whereabouts.

While biometric security is becoming increasingly commonplace as a way to secure and protect assets, the technology has been featured in many Bond scenarios as fingerprint scanners appear quite frequently. But fingerprints and palmprints can easily be lifted from a bar glass (shaken, not stirred) and replicated. 007 should know better!

Technology such as keystroke dynamics could be a better alternative. His overall typing speed, the length of time keys are depressed, common typing errors, or variations of speed moving between specific keys can be used to determine 007’s identity more securely than a fingerprint. There’s also body shape scanning or vein recognition, a type of biometrics based on the vein patterns in the human finger or palm.

Facial Recognition: Is it infallible?

Biometric face recognition technology has received significant attention in the past several years. Compared to other biometrics using fingerprint/palmprint and iris, facial recognition has distinct advantages because of its non-contact process. Face images can be captured from a distance without touching the person being identified, and the identification does not require interacting with the person. In addition, face images that have been recorded and archived can later help identify a person.

In Quantum of Solace, Bond photographs a series of strangers across a darkened opera hall, many facing partly away from him. The photos are beamed to the SIS’s backend systems and the software analyses the faces by breaking them into geometric shapes. They are referenced against a database, and the individual’s identities are rapidly returned.

Facial recognition is getting increasingly sophisticated, even Facebook has developed an algorithm to calculate a face “template.” The key factor is how much of the face the system needs to see to return a match with a confidence level of 80%.

In Skyfall, Raoul Silva a former MI6 operative turned cyber-terrorist who is hellbent on seeking revenge has a changed look. In Silva’s case would the facial recognition hold up as Silva wears a prosthesis to replace the teeth and keep his left cheek up. When taken out his face is disfigured. The polygon analysis normalizes the faces, mapping elements and examining their positions. Perhaps a 3D facial expression database for facial behavior could detect villains who may not look quite the same as they used to.

In essence James Bond has always been ahead of the curve. He has utilized palm print activation, facial recognition and other new and exciting forms of identity verification.

In future films, will we see the use of handwriting, odor, walking style or gait, odor, or actual DNA segments to determine the identities of MI6 agents? What could the future hold for Q’s new inventions and ways to continue protecting 007’s identity?

MFA007.jpg

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What Would James Bond Do? Security Measures Fit for 007 By Scott Kortright

James Bond is known for impeccable taste in clothes, cars and cocktails. Not to mention, cool gadgets and tricks up his sleeve like wristwatch lasers and passenger ejector seats. Along with the style and grace, keeping data safe and intelligence top secret is still top of mind for Bond.

This got us thinking: If given a choice, what would the world’s daring Secret Service agent choose to authenticate his identity? Or has he already used different systems, and in what capacity? As an MI6 agent, however, shouldn’t Bond try to be less conspicuous, and put a premium on security over style?

jamesb2.jpg

Photo by Ludovic Bertron

Mission-critical online service

Bond is on a mission. He desperately needs to access information in an unsecure internet line. Bond is required to log-in using a username and password plus a secondary factor — SMS text to a ‘burn phone’ or an alphanumeric code displayed on his wristwatch. If he’s logging in outside the secure realm of MI6-issued computers, he may be required to scan his fingerprint as well. Multi-factor authentication can deter potential prying eyes from getting access to sensitive data.

But is fingerprint scanning safe enough?

In Skyfall, Bond had a slick, biometrically encoded pistol that uses a palm scanner to lock out unauthorized users. The Walther PPK is coded to Bond’s palm prints to allow him, and only him, to fire the gun. Talk about the ultimate security protection. There’s also a radio transmitter to trace Bond’s whereabouts.

While biometric security is becoming increasingly commonplace as a way to secure and protect assets, the technology has been featured in many Bond scenarios as fingerprint scanners appear quite frequently. But fingerprints and palmprints can easily be lifted from a bar glass (shaken, not stirred) and replicated. 007 should know better!

Technology such as keystroke dynamics could be a better alternative. His overall typing speed, the length of time keys are depressed, common typing errors, or variations of speed moving between specific keys can be used to determine 007’s identity more securely than a fingerprint. There’s also body shape scanning or vein recognition, a type of biometrics based on the vein patterns in the human finger or palm.

Facial Recognition: Is it infallible?

Biometric face recognition technology has received significant attention in the past several years. Compared to other biometrics using fingerprint/palmprint and iris, facial recognition has distinct advantages because of its non-contact process. Face images can be captured from a distance without touching the person being identified, and the identification does not require interacting with the person. In addition, face images that have been recorded and archived can later help identify a person.

In Quantum of Solace, Bond photographs a series of strangers across a darkened opera hall, many facing partly away from him. The photos are beamed to the SIS’s backend systems and the software analyses the faces by breaking them into geometric shapes. They are referenced against a database, and the individual’s identities are rapidly returned.

Facial recognition is getting increasingly sophisticated, even Facebook has developed an algorithm to calculate a face “template.” The key factor is how much of the face the system needs to see to return a match with a confidence level of 80%.

In Skyfall, Raoul Silva a former MI6 operative turned cyber-terrorist who is hellbent on seeking revenge has a changed look. In Silva’s case would the facial recognition hold up as Silva wears a prosthesis to replace the teeth and keep his left cheek up. When taken out his face is disfigured. The polygon analysis normalizes the faces, mapping elements and examining their positions. Perhaps a 3D facial expression database for facial behavior could detect villains who may not look quite the same as they used to.

In essence James Bond has always been ahead of the curve. He has utilized palm print activation, facial recognition and other new and exciting forms of identity verification.

In future films, will we see the use of handwriting, odor, walking style or gait, odor, or actual DNA segments to determine the identities of MI6 agents? What could the future hold for Q’s new inventions and ways to continue protecting 007’s identity?

MFA007.jpg

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