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Tackling deep fakes will be a key concern in 2020, A-LIGN leaders say

Margie Manning

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Cybersecurity will become a critical business function in 2020, a new report from CompTIA said.

The organization, the tech industry’s leading trade association, has released 10 trends to watch in the coming year, and the St. Pete Catalyst asked tech leaders in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area to comment on them.

Online security is a key focus of the “IT Industry Outlook 2020.” It’s a familiar concern locally, where there’s a heavy concentration of companies working to keep cyberspace safe from attacks, ranging from ReliaQuest, a Tampa company that helps clients manage their IT security, to KnowBe4, a Clearwater company that trains its clients’ workers to spot online threats.

Scott Price, CEO of A-LIGN

“Cybersecurity over the past decade [has shifted] from a purely defensive mindset to a proactive approach that combines technology, process, and education. Moving forward, the shift will be from cybersecurity as a component of IT to cybersecurity as a critical business function,” the CompTIA report said. “When treated as part of IT, a proactive approach to cybersecurity may still struggle to get the proper budget allocation or properly demonstrate value to the business. As a result, organizations are beginning to treat cybersecurity as a dedicated function.”

It’s not a matter of if, but when, said Scott Price, CEO of A-LIGN, a Tampa firm that specializes in helping businesses with their audit and security assessments.

“Without a strong cybersecurity system in place, organizations are at risk to lose revenue, their reputation and customers, which ultimately will lead to a considerable drop in profitability. By taking a proactive approach and investing in routine penetration testing and vulnerability scans and assessments, organizations can ensure that outdated practices are not being relied upon and identify vulnerabilities and gaps before the ‘bad guys’ do,” Price said.

Deep fakes – video and software that convincingly makes people appear to be doing and saying things they are not – as well as the rollout of high-speed 5G networks are exacerbating the data management challenge, according to CompTIA.

Joseph Cortese, A-LIGN’s penetration testing practice lead

Big data and artificial intelligence, or computer systems that perform tasks that normally would require human intelligence, allow for the creation of deep fakes, said Joseph Cortese, A-LIGN’s penetration testing practice lead. Super-fast 5G will increase the complexity, resolution and “realness” of the videos, he said.

“Thinking into security, we will need to combat this technology and incorporate countermeasures, possibly using the same AI algorithms. A deep fake video that was created will most likely leave details in a stream that are not possible to capture with the human eye; but may be very obvious to sampling software similar to the software that was used to create a deep fake,” Cortese said. “Providers may have a challenge tagging, tracking, and monitoring the data for authenticity but should increase AI in their networks NOW. This will allow real-time and historical data to be analyzed and monitored, and through enhancements in the future, AI can be used to counter and combat other AI.”

Many observers are keeping an eye on the role technology will play in the 2020 election. More about that in Monday’s report.

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