Understanding the state of technology helps companies to plan and structure their products and distribution efforts. Businesses like predictability and without it they tend to contract and hold on to their investments. Fortium Partners puts out a monthly Technology Pulse Report for businesses to help today’s corporate leaders gain valuable insights they need.Burke Autrey the president and COO of Fortium Partners has years of experience in the software as a service industry working for and with many of the top global consulting firms. He joins Craig this week to discuss their Technology Pulse Report and what businesses can learn from reading it.
Burke Autrey the president and COO of Fortium Partners has years of experience in the software as a service industry working for and with many of the top global consulting firms. He joins Craig this week to discuss their Technology Pulse Report and what businesses can learn from reading it.
As President and COO, Burke leads the operational and administrative activities of the Firm. He ensures that Fortium’s resources are aligned to serve our Partners as our most valuable asset and our clients as our chief objective. He is responsible for developing the Firm’s services offering and practice areas as well as the internal systems, knowledge management, and relationships our Partners rely on to serve their clients. In addition to his Operating responsibilities, Burke leads the Firm’s Software Industry Practice.
Supporting his role as the Firm’s Software Industry Practice Leader, Burke has been the CIO, CTO, or COO for many software companies with Fortune 500 customers including a market-leading financial services SaaS provider, the leading SaaS provider to the retail automotive finance and insurance market, two healthcare software-as-a-service providers, an enterprise on-premise and SaaS provider for the corporate legal market, a loyalty and incentives SaaS provider, a value-added reseller of enterprise software, a business strategy software company, an online auction software provider, and a workflow/business process automation software provider. Burke serves commercial software providers in leadership roles directing product development, technical operations, product management, product support, quality assurance/testing, and leading quality/process improvement initiatives in these areas.
Prior to Fortium, Burke’s career included roles at the global consulting companies of Deloitte and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Partner in the Technology Leadership practice of Tatum, as well as direct technology leadership roles with The Walt Disney Company, SOURCECORP, Ristken Software, and others. Burke has a Master of Business Administration in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Business Administration in management information systems from the University of Texas at Austin.
Fortium Partners (www.FortiumPartners.com) is an international executive services firm that provides fractional and interim IT leadership and advisory services to companies that have an immediate need to improve IT performance, reduce spend, and improve competitive standing and operational efficiency. Fortium’s Partners are all experienced C-Suite executives of significant, recognizable companies and possess, on average, 20-25 years of experience helping CEOs, boards, and investors lead substantial technology initiatives and solve complex problems. Fortium brings a unique perspective that results in better outcomes, lower risk, and shorter time to value.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing Date: November 5, 2016
Craig Peterson: Welcome back to Tech Talk with Craig Peterson. There is a lot of technology the businesses are using every day. And you know it’s almost impossible to keep up on all of these tech. There’s so many things to know. So many things to track and really kind of understand where everything’s going from your compensation plans all the way through what’s the latest security problems. Us business people, we got a lot to worry about. So we’ve invited Burke Autrey to join us right now. He’s the president and CEO over at Fortium Partners. We’re gonna talk about their latest technology pulse report and what it means and a little bit about what they doing as well to help businesses out. Burke, welcome.
Burke Autrey: Thank you Craig. I appreciate it.
Craig: So let’s talk a little bit about this here. Businesses, lots to track, lots to do. Over at Fortium Partners, you have quite a bit of information I read through the monthly report here which was survey results from Fortium Partners. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about this technology pulse report? Why do you make it? And what kind of information can be found here?
Burke: Well thank you Craig. So, the technology pulse report is a monthly survey that we take of CIOs in our network. We have a large number of CIOs as you might expect. Some of them are partners with our firm and others are just simply in the network and the report unveils really the most important issues that are plaguing CIOs and tries to get inside the mind of the CIO and how they’re doing in their role. It takes 3 different approaches. We’ll take the financial approach to understand how they’re doing financially. Are they ahead of budget? Behind budget? And each of the 3 key areas of capital expense and personnel. And so that’s interesting in a monthly basis for us to check in and see how those CIOs are doing and what sorts of pressures they might be experiencing and then we try to interpret what might be going on as a result of that. We’d look at the risk section that CIOs are facing, CIOs and CISOs, the security guys out there, and we poll them to find out what sort of risk factors and risk experiences they’re having in a monthly basis. And it’s very interesting to see the flow of those risk areas ebb and flow during each month. So one month it was phishing. The other month it was ransomware. And so it’s very interesting to see what those are and so we try to get interest for this and we try to zero in on some of those individuals and find out kinda what their stories are and poll our partners to see what they’re experiencing as well. And then the third area that we get from the survey is of trends and innovation. And it’s been very interesting to see on a monthly basis, we ask them what’s on your radar? The things you’re looking at… what’s in production today? And what are those things that you’re looking to retire and move to the back burner so that other things can take their place. Recently we’ve seen some interesting trends around topics like Blockchain. We see software-defined networks. We see a lot of things that tend to be a little more technical but they’re the harbinger of the types of technologies that we’re likely to see coming in the future and it helps us inform the CIOs in our network but it also helps us to be able to present these to our clients and keep an idea of where things are going.
Craig: Now Burke you mentioned that this is a survey primarily of CIOs. Why don’t we kind of start there? CIOs, CTOs, these are terms that are around quite a while. You got your Chief Information Officer, your Chief Technology Officer. Are we seeing this shift in the roles? Are they getting split up a little bit here? I’ve heard terms like Chief Security Officer in some places and many others. As it gets more complicated are we seeing different titles or more titles?
Burke: We are Craig. We’re seeing so that there is always the Chief Information Officer. That would call that kind of the general contractor of the technology world. The CIO, the Chief Information Officer in the way we typically explain it to clients and others is they’re the ones that are at the forefront of the leadership space around technology. And they’re the ones who are there to organize technology. To manage it and provide that leadership. You do have, as technology becomes more and more complex and more specific in certain areas, you do have other roles emerging. The CTO has been around a long time. In non-product technology companies, that’s often the person in charge of infrastructure. The computers, the networks, the data centers, that sort of thing. The CTO role is very prominent in technology companies like software companies and software and service as they lead product development and are primarily responsible for the product, the software development as well as the running of that software on the data center where the customer finds it out there. You mentioned another one, the Chief Information Security Officer, another level of obstruction of technology and focus on the security, mostly data security. Although sometimes there are aspects of physical security access to billings and data centers and so forth. But primarily, data security is where we get the details around cyber security and some other issues we’re seeing there. And then it starts to fan off from there. We’ve been seeing instances of something called a Chief Marketing Technology Officer because of the explosion of technology around the marketing functions especially at the top end of the marketing funnel where you’re trying to get demand. There’s an explosion of technologies there and it takes a really specialized skill set to understand how that works and how to team up with the CMO to get the most out of those technologies.
Craig: Really interesting as this goes forward. Lots of changes. Let’s talk about what’s in the report here this month. You mentioned, for instance, ransomware. There are many things, many risks that we have to be careful of. And I’ve seen ransomware at every one of my clients, frankly. It’s really significant. It can cost a company a lot of money. We’ve seen entire hospitals shut down because of ransomware. And somehow, I just don’t get it Burke, businesses don’t seem to think this is gonna happen to them.
Burke: Right. It’s a very difficult thing to prevent because it often comes through the employees themselves. It’s not necessarily coming in where you typically put your defenses at the network of the perimeter of the security is coming in through email attachments that people are not trained to defend against. They open it up, they think it’s a note from a friend or their boss potentially and they’re priming it. And you’re right Craig. 40% of the businesses were surveyed in that report had experienced some issue with ransomware and there’s been a five-fold increase from last year to this year. So it is definitely rampant and increasing. It’s the new area and the criminals that are doing those are making a lot of money off it because there are times they’re asking for a reasonably small amount of money. Still thousands but reasonably a small amount of money that people make that value decision to whether they’re just gonna pay it so they can get their business back on their feet and of course that is the problem. Disclose that you’re willing to pay, you become an even greater target.
Craig: Well Burke, we’ve only got a couple of minutes left here. You mentioned Blockchain. It is definitely emerging. There are financial systems that are being put in place now, including in the banking industry that is looking at using Blockchain as really it’s kind of its basis. And really there’s a lot more and so if people want to find out about this, FortiumPartners.com is your website? Is that the best place for people to go?
Burke: Yes. That’s the great place to go to find out Fortium to reach out to us if you have any questions like. You won’t find a lot of information on the site itself about technologies like Blockchain. A number of our partners will work at our blog. They will blog about that. In fact, mentioned in that article is a series on Blockchain and what Blockchain means. But we also have lots of other topics on the blog at Blog.FortiumPartners.com, if you wanna read some of those. And of course if you wanna just reach out to us coz you have a question about technology, we have a contact us place in that site as well.
Craig: Alright. So Blog.FortiumPartners. And Fortium is spelled F-O-R-T-I-U-M. Blog.FortiumPartners.com. Good information there. I really like this report. It’s straightforward. It’s pretty simple. You’re talking about a six to eight page, it looks like, report here. Bottom line, on the technology pulse available from Fortium Partners as well I’d imagine.
Burke: Absolutely. That’s correct.
Craig: Alright. We’ve been joined by Fortium Partners president and COO, Burke Autrey. And as I said you’ll find them online. Lots of great information online on Twitter as well @FortiumPartners. F-O-R-T-I-U-M. Thanks, Burke. Anything else you’d like to add?
Burke: No that’s great. I appreciate you having me on today and we’d love to hear from your listeners if there’s anything we can do to help.
Since October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, I invited Erik Knight the founder and CEO of SimpleWan to discuss some of the various data breaches that have occurred and how it has affected their businesses. He warns companies not to take their Cyber Security lightly —- those days are seriously over. Businesses must get a solid grip on their IT department because it might be the one unit that puts you out of business.
The average company is both unaware and unprepared for attacks that occur more than 10 thousand times each day, and the number of these attacks are growing. When a data breach does occur, it can almost guarantee that they are a target for a cyber threat. These attacks are increasing not only in volume but also in complexity and sophistication. Businesses are now being held responsible for protecting their customers and employees privacy by various organizations and governments agencies.
Currently, in the US there are 10 thousand attempted intrusions on small and medium businesses every day and the most common time of the attack is at 3 AM on Sundays as well as on Holidays. Over 169 Million personal records were exposed by hackers in 2015 each confidential and sensitive data record costing $154. The healthcare industry was the industry with the highest record loss, at $363 per record. The number of breaches rose 38% from 2014 to 2015, and we are on pace for another huge increase this year.
Erik Knight is the founder and CEO of SimpleWan. Current IT Chair & Board member of the Arizona Science Center. Prior to SimpleWan he started COMVOICE, an early to market hosted VoIP company, and also an IT company; both successfully sold and rolled up by other companies. He also developed DirtSearch.org, which is a free background search site. Erik currently has 6 patent pending; all involving development and inventing new technologies. His specializations & experience include: Oracle DB; MYSQL/PHP; Cisco CCNA; Microsoft; Windows/Servers; and FreeBSD/Centos/Linux/Solaris. Summed up Several Database, Networking and Operating System Certifications.
With programing experience in over eight computer languages. Erik’s technologies and security experience has been reviewed by and used by fortune 500 companies and government organizations. He is a strong believer in investing back into the community. His philanthropy includes: Operation Home Front, St Joseph Hospital, Toys for Tots, Christmas Angel Program, ChildHelp USA, Make a Wish Foundation, Team Lizzy Bell, The Cade Purdue Foundation, CRS (Children’s Rehabilitation Services), and many more.
SimpleWan is a subscription and hardware based firewall designed for small, medium and enterprise-level businesses that allow them to improve overall connectivity. That means improvements to overall traffic speed, VoIP call quality, security and general IT cost and maintenance. SimpleWan is a wholesale product for service providers that deploys network equipment of any kind on their customer’s premises. Our goal is to provide reliability and the tools to troubleshoot broadband technology quickly in real-time when services go down. We have many unique add-on services that lower the cost to manage hosted subscribers. Our mission is to bring all these tools and services at a wholesale level to content and service providers and lower their overall customer churn.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing Date: October 22, 2016
Craig Peterson: Welcome back to Tech Talk with Craig Peterson. Security, always an issue, and when you’re in the small, medium business space, you’re kinda stuck in between here. There’s a lot of fancy systems out there. There’s some simple ones that aren’t very good. Many businesses, especially the small ones, just go to the big box retail store and buy whatever they might have there on the shelves. Obviously, that can be a real big problem. We’re gonna talk right now about what that problem is. Are small businesses really under attack? Why would anyone want my information? Try and break into my business. We’re gonna answer that question and a whole lot more with the CEO of SimpleWan. That’s where you’ll find them online. SimpleWan, as in W-A-N.com. And we’ll find out a little bit more about what small businesses can do to keep their offices safe but also some of the workers who are working from home more and more nowadays. Erik Knight, welcome.
Erik Wan: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Craig: So let’s talk a little bit about this. SimpleWan, of course, you’re in the security business. But let’s start with the basics here. What kind of risk is really out there for the small-medium business space?
Erik: Well, they’re just as much at risk as big businesses. Except big businesses now are allocating millions of dollars in budget to go out and combat and fight these kinds of things. So they’re looking less and less attractive and so the hackers and you know, the state that are doing corporate espionage, they’re moving downstream to the smaller organizations.
Craig: And how small are we talking about? Does a one man accounting shop have to worry about this?
Erik: If it’s easy to get in, absolutely. And that’s what hackers are looking for. The easiest target. Craig: Alright. So let’s define easy when it comes to targets here. I mentioned, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to businesses and all they have is the latest, cheapest thing from Linksys and at that point they think they’re all set. They’ve got the firewall right? They’ve got everything they need right there at that edge device. And I’m shocked, Erik, because sometimes they are buying the internet from a service provider who says they’re all set and yet all they have is this little edge, frankly, a little edge router.
Erik: And that’s what’s scary. And that’s what gives hackers power and tools is if you go to a big box retailer and just buy whatever’s off the shelves and just clip it in and say you’re good to go, they know and they can identify what that device is and that means they can find out what these all passwords are. What these all configurations are? What progs are out there for it that they can use to break in? In fact there’s a massive list that contain those kind of items, then you’re just making it easy for them because you’re giving them a whole roadmap to get into your business.
Craig: Well, that’s a good point. The black arts guys and gals, they’re sharing this information. And there’s more and more state-sponsored attacks too.
Erik: And absolutely. And that’s it in fact, you know, just because you don’t see it, you know, oh it doesn’t happen. But even as a small business or medium sized business realm. What we see is that there’s about 10,000 accepted intrusions a day per internet connection. And people are just looking for those easy targets. And if you don’t see it, you know, of course it’s not happening. But it really is and it’s really scary.
Craig: Alright. Let’s nail this down here. Obviously there’s some risk and in some cases it could be a huge risk. We could be talking about massive fines under HIPAA violations and frankly, every business nowadays has HIPAA information which is personal identifiable information dealing with your healthcare. So if you have health insurance for your employees, you’ve got that so can face fines. If you have credit cards, the payment card industry requires you to have certain levels of security. If you don’t then you can face huge fines as well. That list kinda goes on and on. So even if you think you’re not in a regulated industry, in fact, you can have some serious repercussions because you do have exposure. And when we’re talking about these types of intrusions, these are happening thousands of times a day. And I don’t mean across the internet. Erik, you and I, we’ve both seen thousands of attacks and power against small businesses.
Erik: Absolutely. And it’s happening. And it’s actually, it’s getting busier. And the things that we see out there. Their goal is to not be detected. So the busiest time on top of that, it goes up from there, is Christmas and holidays and when people aren’t paying attention. And when you come back, the first thing you do is oh let me check to make sure all my files are secure. Nobody does that. And so they’re counting on those kinds of things, especially overseas. And you know, the best hack in the world is not being detected. So you may be hacked and not even know it.
Craig: Well, when do these hacks occur? Is this something that’s happening during every business day? Waking hour? Or the more common, you know, at night? Or evenings. Or Christmas Day?
Erik: Well yeah. So they’re happening all the time, first of all. But they increase the severity and frequency when, you know, it’s nighttime here. Because they know nobody’s staying at home, especially small business owners paying attention to hey, am I getting hacked right now? Or you know, what is my risk right now? No, they’re all with their families and kids and doing something else and nobody’s at the office paying attention. That is the time to get in. So at night is by far greater than during the day. Sunday night is the extreme because they know nobody’s paying attention. Nobody’s thinking about work. And then, you know the holidays. Christmas is just through the roof. Especially during that time period because when people do get back to work after taking a vacation, it’s not on they’re mind. They’re trying to just get caught back up. Let alone the security aspect.
Craig: Well that makes a whole lot of sense. Now, let’s say they’ve hacked me. They view some of the bugs that are in that router that I haven’t updated. The firmware in ever, right? So now they’re into my network, how do I know? What are the signs and symptoms that someone’s broken in?
Erik: Well so the average hack is not detected for at least 6 months. And that makes it scary. And normally it’s somebody else calling you up saying hey. My credit card has been used and we’re just taking it back to you. Or your credit card process is saying hey, we’re seeing some fraud based on all the cards that you’ve charged in the last 6 months. Or some of your records were released. So it’s scary because it’s somebody else reporting to you and then that’s when the crisis begins.
Craig: And when we’re talking about crisis we mean major crisis. Has anyone gone out of business because of this?
Erik: They do. You just may not see it in the headlines and especially with the credit card stuff. We talk about that a lot. Is the compliance. Every business that takes a credit card is regulated by something called the PCI compliance and those rules got really tough a year ago. And they’re starting to enforce them. And the severity is for every credit card number that you lose out of your network or that gets stolen from your business for your consumers, it’s a $250 fine. So even if you’re a small business and you only run a thousand credit cards, that’s a $250,000 fine. Most businesses can’t survive this, especially small.
Craig: So what do you do? You got at the bottom line here. We’ve got devices that are sitting there on the network that may not have ever been patched up. And frankly Erik, they may not be smart enough to deal with the current threats.
Erik: What we say is again the hackers are looking for the easiest targets. So do something. If you think, oh well I bought this device 3 years ago and I’m good. I haven’t had a problem, that doesn’t mean you didn’t or that doesn’t mean you’re not going to. So the best thing we can say is have a real IT person. Don’t try to do it yourself because there’s so many security things, what we call zero day analysis and stuff like that. It’s happening all the time and unless you’re in that industry, it’s hard to follow. So, definitely bring in an expert that’s gonna bring in something and some kind of security, you know, peace of mind to you. And you’re already that much more less likely to have a problem because you’re that much harder to get into than the business next door.
Craig: So when you say have a professional IT person this is one of those full time jobs right? Because this is constantly changing, how can a small business afford to have that kind of expertise available?
Erik: Well, if you’re a small business, don’t hire on a full time IT person. But there are plenty of companies out there that manage service providers. And for a monthly fee which is not out there, they will manage everything. And they will work updates with you. And they’ll make sure your firewall is up to date and they will make sure your computers are running the right software. And they’ll give you a report every month that says here’s what we recommend. Here’s what you have to do, and here’s what we’ve been… and you know, it’s very manageable especially since it’s not a huge dollar amount up front for doing those kind of things anymore. But you’ve got to do it. The most expensive part of starting a business today and in the future is going to be your security and safeguarding your customers’ records or they won’t trust you.
Craig: Yeah. And in that frankly could put you out of business too. Everywhere you turn there’s a lot to know. There’s a whole lot to understand. You mentioned, someone to manage it for you Erik. We’re speaking with Erik Knight. He’s the CEO over at SimpleWan.com. And there are now what are called managed security providers that will not only take care of that network edge but will go all the way inside and do these patches you were talking about even for your Windows computers, servers, Macintoshes, etcetera.
Erik: Absolutely. And they are on list. They getting list from government agencies. There’s a lot of FBI partnerships and things like that as far as you’re getting fed all these information. And they’re on the know. And you know, it’s their core business. They don’t do anything else but that. So, you know, we provide tools for those kind of people to automate some of those processes because it’s intense, it’s time consuming. So a lot of that stuff has to be automated and so they can do it for a fixed cost because a lot of their, you know, type of management is automated now. But they also still have to stay up on what’s current and the news and it’s a full time education.
Craig: Yeah. And something that you really can afford for most small-medium businesses. Now, you mentioned what you’re doing here and for those people who maybe are a little bit bigger who are providing some of these services. Why don’t you tell us about SimpleWan?
Erik: So, what we are, think of it as an alarm system. You know, we talk to a lot of businesses and say well, do you have an alarm system? And everybody says, oh yeah, of course we have an alarm system. And then we ask them, well, do you have it monitored? And next question is always will yeah, of course. If we don’t then the police won’t come. And then we talk to them about their firewall and some of their other services that they have. Well, do you have a firewall? And they always say yes. But then we’re like, do you have it monitored? Is anybody watching it and paying attention? And the look across their face dumbfounded is like, oh. When you think about you got ten thousand people a day throwing rocks to your biggest window, which is your internet connection, and you’re not monitoring it, it just sounds kinda insane.
Craig: Yeah, doesn’t it though? Having what you have is called the single pane of glass. So in other words it’s one screen people can go to to keep an eye on the network. So if I’m a bit of a bigger business, I may have a few different offices, I may have people working at home. This is the type of thing that can be deployed in order to make your life simpler and a whole lot safer. And I don’t want people to get by here just thinking, Erik, that having this type of security in the main office is good enough. So many of us are working from home. So many people are using VPNs and that’s extending their office network to their house or their coffee shop etcetera. Now you have potential problems of piggybacking and a whole lot more. So is this something SImpleWan can help to monitor as well?
Erik: Absolutely. So most of our customers are branched so they’re multi-location because they don’t have an IT person on site and a lot of them have home workers as well because some IT person somewhere whether it’s within the organization or an external party, needs to monitor it and be alerted when there’s actual issues and that’s the key. It’s just having knowledge, hey, something is out of whack here. Let’s take a look at it. Somebody needs to pay attention to this and right now, most of the technologies that are out there that you buy off the shelf or, you know, even order online, they don’t do that. You put it in and you forget about it. And the problem is the hackers count on you forgetting about it.
Craig: Yeah. They really do. And not doing the upgrades and, you know, this branch off is… you just haven’t paid attention to because the wheel hasn’t been squeaking. So having it all again in a single pane just makes so much more sense. It’s absolutely incredible. So you mentioned, SimpleWan is really kinda aimed at the slightly larger businesses here, with maybe a couple of branch offices or is this also good for managed security providers or maybe just someone that has a business, that has a few customers where they’re trying to provide them with IT services?
Erik: Absolutely. And so our focus is of course, we do a lot of branch sites. But our actual customers are those managed security and service providers that are doing that for multiple small businesses. So the bottom line is to provide a cost-effective service to multiple businesses and not live out there. You have to do things like these so that you can actually give them a good service but not have a ridiculous cost. And so we provide this tool for a lot of managed service and security providers so that they don’t have to run out to the office and build people to do that and things like that and do it all remotely and can be completely on the know of what’s going on.
Craig: Yeah, that’s really good. That’s very, very important here. Now I wanna go out, Erik, talking about one more thing. People are still going to kinda think they’re invincible. Maybe they don’t wanna stir up the card here because things have been working. I don’t wanna open up this whole IT can of worms here for everyone. It could be absolutely crazy. But the bottom line is everyone has breaches. We just saw the NSA apparently got hacked. Tools were apparently stolen and put up for auction online. FBI’s been hacked. Everyone gets hacked. And the lack of attention to some of the details and the confusion in a larger organization where you don’t have the single pane. You don’t have one throat to choke coz I like to put it, seems to really be a contributing factor.
Erik: Well, bottom line, I mean certainly there’s a part of these hacks, you know hackers looking for particular businesses and organization types. But online you have an address. It’s called an IP address. And you look just like your neighbor and them and the next person after that. And so the hacker’s not saying oh, well I wanna get Bob’s Dry Cleaning. I’m gonna go after them it’s a small business. They’re not looking for that. They’re saying Bob’s Dry Cleaning is really easy to get into and they’re not specifically targeting Bob’s Dry Cleaning. They’re going after it coz it’s easy and it looks like a general address on the internet. It’s like driving down the street in a neighborhood and looking for the easiest house to break into. That’s what’s going on right now.
Craig: Alright. It’s a big problem. It’s a problem that has to be addressed. We have to address it. We can’t rely on anyone else. We, as small business people, have amazing, amazing amount of liability that most people just don’t recognize. You gotta get the security in place. You gotta keep a close look at it. You need to get someone who manages security for you. If you’re a larger organization, you really need to get that single pane of glass. You should have a look at SimpleWan.com. They’ve got tools. There you could see what they’re doing. What they’re providing. And they can help you with some of the costs because some of the bigger names with the bigger systems might just be priced out of your price range. I’ve seen that many times as well. Erik, thanks for being with us. Anything else you’d like to add?
Erik: The big thing is we tell all business owners to don’t assume that what’s there is ok. If you do something, you’re doing more than your neighbor and you’re that much safer.
Craig: That’s a really good point, right. If you lock your front door, it provides just enough safety here for you. So let’s do it. Let’s be better than our neighbors and continue to improve. Erik Knight has been our guest. CEO over at SimpleWan. He’s been involved for two decades now in the security side and IT as well. Lots of great information there. Thanks for being with us today.
Erik: Thank you for having me.
The NH High Tech Council held its annual Tech Out Challenge and is proud to announce the 2016 winners. Joining Craig is Micheline Dufort, the Director of Business Operations and they will discuss how the NHHTC supports advancing innovation and expanding a strong technology sector within the State of New Hampshire.
Their Tech Out Challenge is a competition which seeks to identify talented, entrepreneurial tech companies and to fund them with up to a hundred thousand in investment capital awards annually. The fast-paced TechOut event combines finalists live pitches along with prototypical displays of their innovations while providing them the chance to network with other innovators, entrepreneurs and investors. The energetic Tech Out is sponsored jointly by Alpha Loft and the NH High Tech Council.
The 2016 winners were Awato in First Place, winning a 50 thousand dollar investment in their project, Forcivity in Second Place, winning a 30 thousand dollar investment and KudosWall in Third Place won 20,000 dollar investment. It was the responsibility of the audience in attendance to determined the Third Place winner. NHHTC is proud to support the launching of and growth these and other businesses in the Granite State.
Michelline Dufort is a professional with deep skills and relationships in public policy, association management, non-profit organizations and strategic communications, and is a well-known entity in New Hampshire’s legislative and business arenas. Her first leadership role was as Executive Director of a Boston-based foundation that distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to area organizations until she relocated to New Hampshire to lead a prominent business association. That role led to a stint in higher education as a Vice President, and eventually to her own consulting firm with a roster that included a coalition of competitive energy suppliers and a joint venture of five healthcare systems.
In the public policy arena, Michelline launched an advocacy program for a statewide association and also has been the lead on a variety of legislative winning issues for a wide range of clients. At Cookson Strategies, Michelline leads the public policy side of the business for this small but powerhouse communications firm and oversees the operations of one of CSC’s most cherished clients, the NH High Tech Council. In the year and a half since joining CSC and NHHTC, the Council has grown in membership, programming, and engagement.
The NH High Tech Council is a member-driven organization with a focus on advancing innovation throughout the State of New Hampshire. Explore this site to learn more about the Council’s services, our events, and our commitment to expanding New Hampshire’s strong and cohesive technology sector.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing Date: October 8, 2016
Craig Peterson: Welcome back to Tech Talk with Craig Peterson. We have a lot of high tech here in the Northeast in New Hampshire. It’s just amazing. And there’s a couple of organizations, I think everyone needs to know about and the awards ceremony that just happened. We’re gonna talk about the New Hampshire High Tech Council. My business has been a member for many, many years. We’ve been involved in a few things over time. Well, they just had a beautiful TechOut presentation. We’re gonna talk about what that is, how some of these tech companies can get in front of investors, who won, what that means, and more, right now. We’re joined by Michelline Dufort. She is with the New Hampshire High Tech Council as well as Cookson Strategies Corporation. We’re gonna talk about what this is all about. Michelline, welcome.
Michelline Dufort: Hi, good morning. Thank you Craig. Glad to be here.
Craig: Now, let’s talk about what’s going on here. First of all, a lot of high-tech business here in New Hampshire. I know we used to be the second or third most high-tech state in the union per capita. Since then we’ve had some things change here. Some of the companies have moved, some of them have closed. But there’s a lot of upstart technology right around here.
Michelline: Oh my gosh. There sure is, you know, and I feel that every day we come across someone who’s doing something fantastic and new. I think we have slipped a little bit. I think the last I heard is we are 6th per capita. And that is for probably a number of reasons that I’m sure you talk about a great deal. But that does not mean we have any lack. It means we are surrounded by technology and innovations and entrepreneurs. And I think too, the climate right now is that a lot of folks on a big stage we’re talking about that we hear about it in political circles. You certainly hear about that part of economy certainly being towards the elections. And we think that’s great. The more light shone on it the better.
Craig: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. Of course we have universities here in New Hampshire, some of which have expanded, moved from colleges to full universities. Kids coming out with great ideas. And some businesses moving here. In fact I’ve just interviewed another business moving from Europe right here to New Hampshire. And I think that’s great thing too. So, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, that’s long been a kind of a pillar of what I talk about on the show. We’ve got Dean Kamen here in Manchester, of course, big thing for him. The New Hampshire FIRST competitions which just started up here again for this season, with the LEGO League moving all the way on up. Tell me, are there opportunities for our kids here in New Hampshire to get into the high tech field or is it kind of a closed thing?
Michelline: Oh gosh, that’s a great question. I think there are ample opportunities and I think as you said, we work a lot with educators in a lot of different ways and we know that a lot of people are teaching towards that, trying to fill that pipeline on all levels, and I think too, there are so many STEM-related organizations that are trying to get at that students as early as they can right up through the CTE centers and many of the high schools and then you find those partnerships that go right into the community colleges or into the college university systems. I think there’s ample opportunity absolutely.
Craig: And they’re reaching out, by the sounds it here, to the schools, which I think is great. The scholarships abound in some of these programs. And there are so many of them, I only mentioned FIRST. But others include like Destination Imagination. You’ve got Odyssey of the Mind. And of course FIRST breaks into multiple things. You’ve got there LEGO League or Tech Challenge, the robotics. And then you guys over the high tech council also have Tech Women and Tech Girls. So there’s a lot of opportunities. And I think you’d agree with this Michelline, there’s a lot of high tech in our future. It doesn’t matter what career you’re looking at, everyone’s in the high tech biz.
Michelline: Oh my gosh, we say that all the time. A lot of our members don’t produce technology but they can’t get where they are without it. For instance, Fidelity, they’re a fantastic member and they know it is the technology that runs the shop over and so, we tell everyone it is every business is high tech. Every worker is a high tech worker and I think, you know, everyone looking at again filling that pipeline is the number one issue we hear from members is they wanna grow, but there’s times that the barrier to growth is that hiring where they are at. So, we say the more the merrier. Come on in, train them, and excite them and get them going and we try to build those wherever we can, those relationships.
Craig: Yeah. It can be hard as an employer, I can say this. It can be very hard to find the right people that have the right background. And high tech is wonderful. Now, the New Hampshire High Tech Council, you guys have grown in membership. You have reached out more and more. You’ve got more programs. You’re engaged in more ways and one of the ways is what I was talking about a little bit earlier. I mentioned, you have gotten together with Alpha Loft. You’ve made this TechOut, you call it a challenge or competition. Why don’t you tell us about it?
Michelline: Sure. So, this is the 5th year of TechOut. And it is a competition. And basically the background on it is a number of investors, about 5 or 6 years ago decided they wanted to pump some money into the investment community, above and beyond what they were already doing in their different venture capital groups. So they built a fund and they turned to the council and to Alpha Loft and to have us kind of be a feeder program to put people to that process towards receiving some startup investment funds. So, the way it works is every year we put a call out for applications to start ups and more and more as you and I both just said the visibility in the startup community is so much higher. We get tons of applications. We build some judges. This year the judges were from the investment community and they determined through weeding down process which groups they invite in to present to a live crowd and we give away collectively, we all those groups, a hundred thousand dollars in investment capital in one evening. So that was last night. So it was. It was incredibly energetic and exciting and is fantastic.
Craig: Yeah, I really like this. I can also say again, having started a couple of companies. Finding investors, getting in front of them. Getting, frankly, even just getting the practice to do these presentations for investors, a little roadshow that you have to do. It’s a difficult thing. So, putting this together, I think, is just fantastic. All these companies. Getting the opportunities to see, to hear, and get in front of judges, can award them real money.
Michelline: That’s right. And you know, and as you say, so last night there were 3 winners, but we say all 5 won. And what they won was that exposure, that practice. We put each of these teams together with TK Kuegler of Wasabi Ventures who is a pitch camp extraordinaire. And I ventured this process now 3 years in a row. These teams who are pretty green, pretty fresh, come in with their presentation and by the time they leave a session with him, it is completely re-worked. And all of them, in time, they just say how much it was helpful to them as they go on and as you say it’s not just one putch, they’re pitching, pitching, pitching. I mean, this is a continuing cycle for these young startups. Young companies, I don’t mean all of the young individuals. And so, that alone has a great deal of value. But you know, with 250 people in the room last night at Dine, no matter who walked away with the trophy last night, everyone walked away with tons of connections. They had a chance to exhibit what they’re producing and they had tons of interactions. And so, there’s value. There’s just value with being involved in TechOut.
Craig: Yeah. It’s phenomenal. Now, 3 prizes. You’ve mentioned the 5 companies and the number 1 price was $50,000. The 2nd place was $30,000. And the 3rd place was $20,000. Now, you explain this narrowing down process that occurred and then the judges got to decide who they thought the winners were. But this 3rd place, I don’t think, Michelline, I’ve ever heard anything quite like this before. How was that 3rd place person chosen?
Michelline: Yeah, that’s great. Well, the 1st and 2nd, that is the investment panel of judges that award that money. But the 3rd place it is so much fun to be honest. It’s just really fun. Everyone in the room, after hearing the 5 presentations, then we take out the 1st and the 2nd place winner and we’d take them off of the block there, and then, we have a live vote. And so we used a platform, we used a direct poll is a software that we used. Everyone gets online. We have dedicated Wi-Fi for the event. Everyone has 60 seconds to vote. There’s a live vote stream and so you kinda see that bar going up and you know, back and forth and back and forth like a little horse race. And then at the end, the last team comes in and they did, as you said, they walked away with $20,000 of investment funds, which was pretty darn cool.
Craig: And what do these companies do here? The three, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, of course, on the website you can find out more by going to nhhtc.org. That’s New Hampshire High Tech Council .org. Who were these 3 winners?
Michelline: Sure. So the 1st one called Awato, and it is an online platform that was created so basically as you’re gearing up for your what am I going to do with my life? What am I gonna become? Choices that a lot of our kids and ourselves are making. It’s a platform to help intake questions to a series of questioning that kinda brings you along a map to help you determine what you’re good at and what you should do. And its founder is a young gentleman. He said that he found himself 6 years out of college and in completely the wrong career. So he stepped back and created a better way to look at those choices that you have when you’re overwhelmed and you’re looking at school. And he’s looking to work with different colleges. So he walked away with $50,000 and he did a great presentation. 2nd place was a company called Forcivity and its founder is Steve Baines, and I call him a serial entrepreneur because this is not his first to go at creating a startup. He’s been successful. He has found, because he works a lot in the world of sales force, an overlay software that takes sales force and makes it manageable on all levels. And he is an example of a CFO who walks into and assistants’s office and says I need a report, a huge report. And no one really knows how to crunch the data, this makes that much easier. And then the 3rd place is… we had a father and son team present, which was the father started and a 13-year-old, and this is the live crowd favorite vote. The 13-year-old presented. He and his dad created an app called KudosWall, which, you start building your resume. Think of LinkedIn, but think of it doing it from when you’re about 10 years old. My team won, you know, soccer. I was on an anti-bullying poster contest and came in 2nd place. I volunteer with, you know, my local church. Whatever it may be, you start building a resume by a drag-and-drop sort of process and so as again, you’re going towards what you’re going to be in life. It’s like a resume that is being created for you. And it really focuses on that K-12 timeframe, the K-12 community. And so, he did a great job presenting. He even took a selfie and said you’re all in my KudosWall now.
Craig: He made it. Now, New Hampshire High Tech Council, you guys do a lot of things during the year. You have various benefits for businesses. Why don’t we just take a couple of minutes here and run through that with us as well, Michelline?
Michelline: Oh sure, thank you for that. We do a number of events where we really celebrate entrepreneurs and we have an entrepreneur of the year coming up as product of the year where we choose the biggest and brightest, newest, freshest refresh or new products going on in New Hampshire and people apply for that. But I think, maybe for your fans, what would be really interesting to know is we have a relatively new program called TechWomen/TechGirls and that is female technologist driven. And every month they have a program where they bring in women who have been pioneers in tech, who come in and on a very, very informal basis, present during a breakfast, and talk about what they learned on the way. And I mean you have leaders in hardware, you have advance manufacturers. We’ve had folks’ software who’ve gone global. And it’s a great way for people to network, but also get to know each other. And through that TechWomen/TechGirls, we also we have an ambassador week where we say, put a call out to volunteers, hey, do you have an interest in showing young kids, you know back to what you said, showing young kids what can be, in a world of tech, what a tech job could look like. And then we invade the schools. We mobilize. We send in about ninety to a hundred volunteers to go into the schools. So, we continuously have programs where we try to a lot of show and tell, and we invite students to everything that we do. We have a lot of sponsors. You say, I want to sponsor and I want some of it to go to scholarships for kids. So, we really feel that we’ve kinda stepped up our game in that area of being connected with them, young learners if you will.
Craig: Alright. You can find out more by going online as I’ve said a couple of times here, the New Hampshire High Tech Council, nhhtc.org. They are always open for businesses to join them, as they continue to grow and help promote high tech jobs, careers, and businesses here in the state of New Hampshire, in fact, throughout the Northeast as well. Michelline, anything else you like to add?
Michelline: I don’t think so. You just did such a great job. I couldn’t even do better than that. So thank you for the opportunity.
Craig: Alright, Michelline Dufort, thanks for being with us today.
Michelline: Thank you so much Craig.
After earning a Harvard Ph.D., she started her career in academia but then went to work on Wall Street. Here she eagerly used her math skills to watch the market movements but quickly realized that the math she loved was being used immorally against peoples retirement funds.
As a mathematician, she sees our world as an age of algorithms. Mathematical models are making decisions that are paramount to our lives and livelihoods. While this should create a fairer society, the opposite is happening
She found that these mathematical models are creating our futures unbeknownst to us. She has researched the mathematical engines that are responsible for these decision-making processes and warns everyone to be aware of the use of tyrannical software whose decisions are uncontestable even when they are wrong.
She now spends her time discussing the political implications of big data models and educating anyone who will listen about their use and misuse.
Cathy O’Neil received her Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University and, after a brief stint in academia, landed a position as a quant on Wall Street. She was eager to put her math skills to use, predicting movements in the market. But when she realized that the hedge fund she was working for was betting against people’s retirement funds, she became deeply disillusioned. Math was being used in a way she felt was immoral. She left Wall Street and became the financial advisor to the Occupy Movement, bringing their message to audiences from NPR’s Morning Edition to the WGA “Best Documentary” award-winning Frontline episode called “Money, Power, and Wall Street.” She then became a data scientist for a New York start-up.
Now, she is an evangelist for the cause that is at the heart of her book, writing about these ideas and much more on her blog Math Babe. O’Neil is uniquely situated to talk about the social and political implications of this kind of math given her deep knowledge of modeling techniques and an insider’s understanding of how companies are using them.
In WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION, O’Neil not only exposes many ways that mathematical models are determining our futures, but she also offers ideas for making models more transparent and using them to promote positive social change. She emphasizes the importance of demanding transparency, embedding better values into our algorithms, and creating big data models that follow our ethical lead.
Part expose, part polemic, and part call to action, O’Neil’s WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION digs deep into the mathematical engines that are running the modern world, warning about the tyranny of software.
WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION traces the arc of a person’s life, from school to retirement, and looks at models that score teachers and students, sort resumes, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole and prison sentences, and monitor our health. The models being used are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they are wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his race or neighborhood), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. O’Neil has dubbed these harmful models Weapons of Math Destruction, or WMDs. In our society, where money buys influence, WMD victims are nearly voiceless. These models are propping up the lucky and punishing the poor and oppressed, creating a toxic cocktail for democracy. But the poor are hardly the only victims of WMDs. They hit the middle class too. Even the rich find themselves micro-targeting by political models.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing Date: September 24, 2016
Craig Peterson: Welcome back to Tech Talk with Craig Peterson. We’re gonna talk right now about some Mathematics that really should interest all of us. It’s affecting everything in our lives. From the jobs that we’re able to get. The applications for those jobs are gonna be looked at through policing, through politics. And we’re gonna talk right now with the author of a book called Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil. Now I’ve read through this book and I was just nodding my head again and again because so much of what Cathy is saying in this book is stuff that we’ve talked about here in the radio show for the last 15 or 20 years. She has gone through a lot of trouble here to put it all together presented in a way that really makes a lot of sense and that can really help change our democracy and our lives for the better. Cathy, welcome.
Cathy O’Neil: Thank you so much. So glad to be here.
Craig: Good book. Very interesting read. It’s gonna be at the Harvard Bookstore at October 3rd… excuse me, you are gonna be at the Harvard Bookstore at October 3rd this year for a book signing. I found it fascinating as I went through it. I was saying yes, yes, yes again and again through the book. Everything from even the FICO Score that they used for looking at the so-called credit worthiness and how that’s all put together. I was just nodding my head. You know, I’m someone who hasn’t had a credit card in 17 years now. And when I look at my credit report and you know, even though I pay in cash for everything and run a multi-million dollar business, I can maybe get a $500 secured credit card online. It’s just incredible. What brought you to this point? I saw in the beginning of the book, you’re talking about how as a kid, you would sit in a car and figure out the prime factors of peoples’ license plate numbers. You’ve been a nerd a long time.
Cathy: I have. I come by my nerd properties very honestly. You know, I was just such a nerd kid and I loved mathematics. Like I’ve decided to become a mathematician by going to a math camp when I was in high school at Hampshire College. You know, I was like a hippie nerd. And I was a really naïve, hippie nerd. So I decided to become a mathematician. I decided to become a math professor when I was basically turning 15. And 20 years later, I was turning 35 and you know, I got into Harvard, I got a PhD in Number Theory, I went to MIT as a Post Doc. I ended up at Barnard College in New York City. And I just fell in love with the city. I wanted to be part of the city. But I was still extremely naïve and I was like, well all I know how to do is math, what kind of job can I get? This is in 2006. And you know I applied for and got the only job I knew how to get which was a quant at a hedge fund.
Craig: A quant being?
Cathy: You know, quantitative analyst. One of those math nerds that sort of scrapes the data off the market in order to make money from it. I really didn’t know what I was getting into and I’ve started in June 2007 and almost immediately after that, the financial crisis erupted. So I went and thinking, oh, I’m gonna be able to use mathematics to sort of improve the efficiency of the market, blah blah blah. And almost immediately I was confronted by a very dark realization which is that math within finance was actually being used to, rather than clarify which is my experience, it was being used to obfuscate, to shield corrupt practices in the mortgage market. So I eventually discussed it with my experiences in finance. I left and I started a blog called mathbabe.org where the goal of the blog was to sort of expose the math, the hypocrisy and the way math was being abused within finance. But, in the meantime I needed a day job. So I became a data scientist and I worked at a startup, in Adtech in New York City. And that means basically I was deciding which kind of ads to show to people depending on their property. And I knew a lot of people understand this is the tailored ads that they see. I was working in a world of travel. But what I realized relatively quickly and what I also realized that the people around me who hadn’t had the experience of finance that I had was that we were doing, we’re making many of the same mistakes that I’d seen in finance. We’re making the same mistakes in the world of big data.
Craig: It’s interesting you brought up that company. In fact, it’s a company that has been on my radio show before. And the whole idea was hey why don’t we present ads to people that they will appreciate, right? It’s if you’re buying a car, why would I wanna see car ads 24/7 for 5 years before I look into buying the car. And a lot of these big data, a lot of the analysis, you know it seems to make sense at the surface. It’s something that’s gonna provide a real benefit.
Cathy: Yeah, if you don’t mind I’m gonna tell you the story of like what made me realize that I needed to write this book.
Cathy: Which was a venture capitalist came into our company because we were looking for a new round of funding. A typical thing that happens in startup world. And the whole company was sort of gathered to listen to the wisdom of the venture capitalist. And what he said was that he was looking forward to the day when ads were so smart they were so tailored that he would only get, he would only be exposed to things like offers for trips to Aruba or jet skis. And that he would never again have to see another University of Phoenix ad. Because University of Phoenix ads weren’t for people like him.
Craig: They have a great football team.
Cathy: The thing is that everyone in the company kind of giggled. And I looked around saying what? You know, I thought you know, the internet was a democratizing force where you all got to have an even playing field. But this soon would expose to me kind of the sort of evil master plan and I’m not saying it’s just, it’s actually a conspiracy. But it’s like the underbelly of, you know, oh we get to see the kinds of things we wanna buy, is that on the far end of the spectrum, essentially for poor people, were preying upon them. And I think of poor profit colleges coz I looked into it, as a very predatory industry.
Craig: Yeah. You’ve got a lot of interesting stuff about the poor profit colleges, again in the book Weapons of Math Destruction where it’s going in showing how they’re advertising, who they’re targeting, how they’re targeting them and paying… these schools are paying, what was it? 150 bucks a pop for some of the leads to get a student into the school?
Cathy: Yeah. And unfortunately, in the sort of dynamics of the market for advertising, poor people are much more valuable to, like, poor profit colleges which, by the way, don’t get money from those poor people. They get money from the federal aids system if they can enroll those students into their schools. They’re much more valuable from the perspective of a predatory industry like payday loans or poor profit colleges than they are for, you know, some consumer purchase. So, where I might see a lamp that I looked at, you know, on a website following me around in the internet, other companies, other demographics of people will not have the same experience. And that’s one of the things I realize was actually kinda more pernicious about big data than had been true of financial manipulation of mathematics which is that it’s actually silent in the sense that the people like me, the technologists, the very well educated, we do not see the damage that’s being done for the most part. Because for the most part, we are exposed with different environment. An environment of opportunities and not of predatory behavior.
Craig: Well I’m in New Hampshire and I can remember very, very clearly one of my clients who was a chain of hospitals. And they had some new IT staff that had come in. And they were praising how New Hampshire had gotten rid of its predatory lending rules that had been in place where you could at that point now charge basically whatever interest you wanted to. There’s no more usury here in the state of New Hampshire. And that really, that blew my mind about how excited they were. Not because, hey, listen, now anyone can get a loan if they really, really need the money won’t it be great? It was, wow we can charge these people anything and that frankly turned my stomach just to see that aspect of it. And I didn’t really realize the depth of it until I read that chapter in your book.
Cathy: Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up. It’s generally speaking true that the algorithms that I worry about and I’ll get into exactly which ones I worry about. I certainly don’t worry about all of them. I have a triage of like which algorithms to worry about. But it’s certainly true that many of the most destructive algorithms are successful in the narrow sense. And narrow sense is typically profit. So from the perspective of those deploying that algorithm, it’s actually a very successful algorithm. But it has a sort of unintended side effects on the population. And that’s what I worry about.
Craig: So instead of getting something that’s more kind of the democratization that we hoped to get from the internet where everyone can learn everyone’s equal. That the SAT scores, for instance, are going to be a great equalizing factor that you can go to US news and world report and find out which are the best colleges. These algorithms, these computer programs that are behind many of these decisions and are used by people just blindly, are causing a whole lot of problems. We’re speaking with Cathy O’Neil. She’s a data scientist and author of a new book called Weapons of Math Destruction. You can go down, in fact just this week here if you go down on Monday morning to Harvard here. You’ll be able to see here at the Harvard Bookstore. October 3rd and talk to her a little bit and get a copy of her book and hopefully get that signed. Cathy O’Neil, again, this is something that’s disturbing coz people don’t really realize the assumptions that are behind so much of these data.
Cathy: You know I’m glad you brought up the word democracy because one of the things, and I talked about that near the end of the book, is the way that political campaigns are using data. You know, to make a short story out of it, political campaigns have profiles on every single voter and they don’t care about every single voter. They typically only seem to care about swing states and within those states, they only care about certain kinds of voters. But nevertheless, they have certain scores for each voter like how likely are you to be persuaded on this issue and which issues you care about and the end result is and most of the stuff happens on Facebook actually. Facebook has an enormous amount of money coming in for political ads. But what happens is that different people literally get different messages from the same politician. And going back to this idea like is this a successful model? It is a successful model from the point of view of the campaign because the campaign can send you the exact message that they want you to hear. And the example that I can give is you know, I, I’m a progressive. But Ron Paul, the politician and I agree about financial reform. Right? Not much, but if he knew me, if he could’ve profiled me, he could’ve sent me that message. Like I agree with you, we have to break up the big banks or whatever it is.
Cathy: I would have been highly motivated to vote for him if I wasn’t also aware of his other… his entire platform.
Cathy: And the problem is that it’s getting increasingly difficult to become, sort of, informed. Because even if you go to the website of a given candidate, they will have tracked you. They will give profile will come with you to that website and they will show you exactly what they want you to see.
Craig: What you wanna see frankly. Or at least what they want you to think that you wanted to see. In the first… no, we’re getting into a loop here. Feedback loop.
Cathy: You know exactly. The point being that what is efficient for the campaign is actually inefficient for democracy as whole. The most efficient thing for a democracy, which campaigns absolutely hate, is literally public debates where we get to know what someone stands for on a whole host of issues. That’s increasingly being replaced by the specific messages that are going to us as individuals. And we don’t know what other people are saying. And by the way, journalists can’t track it either because it’s very difficult to track. You have to have many, many different personas to see what other people are seeing.
Craig: Well then, in fact, you mentioned Facebook. They’re very, very conscientious about making sure that you can’t have multiple personas. They want you to use your real name. Same thing with Quora and these other sites online. So they can track you a little better and for very many years now Cathy. I kinda started out my technology career, my first was in banking and the second big job that I had was in direct mail marketing back in the 1970s. And what was interesting to me is how much data we had at the time. So I’ve been conscientious since then to make sure that I use fake names, addresses, answers to questions, played around with different sets of cookies on my browsers as time went on, to make myself harder to track and confuse things. But they’re now trying to make sure that that just plain doesn’t happen.
Cathy: It’s a really good point and I was actually trying to work with a group here at Columbia to understand how Google search works and the accentuates, you know, they show different advertisements depending on your profile.
Cathy: But the problem is that they have a rule against having more than a few emails even though you’re allowed to have a couple fake emails, you know, on Gmail. But you’re not allowed to have a sort of arbitrary number of them. Even if you’re a researcher. So that’s one of instance I call for these companies that have this much power. And they should talk about which algorithms I worry about. But let me just say that Google, Facebook, the really obviously powerful ones need to have more transparency especially for researchers.
Craig: Yeah. It’s a difficult, difficult world from that end, let me tell you. Well, let’s get into the kind of the conclusion here. You’re concerned about a number of different times of algorithms that are being used that policing was one that you had brought up in here. That there are some programs out there that are designed at least intended to try and find the high crime areas so the police can pay more attention to that. But there’s, again, a negative feedback loop.
Cathy: Yeah. Great example. Like in the solved experiment I like to present is imagine that after the credit crisis, after the financial crisis, all the police have been told, go down to Wallstreet and arrest the bankers that put a sense to this mess. If we had done that, which we didn’t of course, we would have had a lot of data about arrests in criminals on Wallstreet. And then that data would have fed into these algorithms and after all algorithms, all they do is find patterns then predict that patterns will continue. They would have sent the police back down to Wallstreet to look for more criminals in 2016. But what actually happened is instead we’ve had uneven policing in black communities and other poor communities. And so these algorithms simply propagate on uneven policing but under the guise of scientific objectivity.
Craig: Sure. If you have a lot of police concentrated in one area that you believe may be a high crime area. Those police are going to observe crimes, mostly very small crimes at some places. And now you have more reports of more crime in that area. And so there would be more police, more observation and then it gets into just a terrible loop.
Cathy: It does and one of the reasons… I mean the biggest reason it gets into that loop is this practice of broken window policing where we’re not actually focusing on the crimes that we should be focusing on. We’re not focusing on violent crimes which, really nobody could argue against trying to prevent and deter. Where instead like arresting people for sound crimes. Things like vagrancy and resisting arrest and typically resisting arrest comes with basically harassing people and stuff and frisks and all that kinds of things that the police… they basically are asked to do 2 things. Are asked to look for violent crimes which is a great thing for them to be asked to do. But they’re also asked to kinda, you know, harass citizens and that is the part of the data that creates a toxic feedback loop. And I’ve just like to jump in and say that the algorithms we’ve talked about are all what I call weapons of math destruction. And those have 3 characteristics. As I said, I don’t care about all algorithms, just, by nature I only care about the ones that have the following 3 characteristics. The first is that they are widespread and they have high impact on people’s lives that we talked about. Like you’re getting arrested. There’s another set of algorithms that decide how long you got to jail. We talked about whether you get to go to college, whether you get a loan, whether you get a job. That kind of thing. The second characteristic is that there’s secret in some sense and often that means that the people who are targeted by these algorithms don’t know how their scores are calculated, their typical scores. And finally, that they’re actually destructive. The people who are considered the losers of these systems actually have their lives affected and they suffer and there’s actually, typically alongside that a destructive feedback loop that ensues as well so that they undermine their original purposes. So for the example the predictive policing that we were just talking about where you send police into a neighborhood to deter crime. It actually has the opposite effect. It doesn’t actually, it doesn’t slow down crime at all. In fact it kinda propagates that kind of crime.
Craig: Very interesting. A lot of good points in the book. It’s well worth the read. And if you can head down on Monday morning here down to the Harvard Bookstore, October 3rd, you will get to meet Cathy O’Neil. Data Scientist and author. Have a look at her website, in fact there’s more details about the visit to the Harvard Bookstore there on the website. Go to mathbabe.org. M-A-T-H-B-A-B-E.org, that’s also her Twitter handle, mathbabe.org. Cathy O’Neil has been our guest. And check out the book online as well. Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil. How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Cathy, anything else you like to add?
Cathy: I’m looking forward to seeing people on Monday. Thank you.
Craig: Alright. Thanks again. Take Care. Thanks for being with us.
Mr. Robert Wann founded Enova Technology Corporation to develop a suite of full disk encrypted and cryptographically authenticated systems-level solutions. The company specializes in solutions that offer real-time hardware-based encryption for both data that is moving and stored data. Robert Wann has dedicated all of Enova’s R & D resources to the advancement and innovation of real-time hardware encryption technology.
If you need to protect your data while in transit to cloud-based storage services, or to protect the data on hard drives, then Enova’s hardware encrypted products are an excellent option to consider.
Mr. Wann founded Enova Technology Corporation in April 2000 which specializes in developing hardware-based real-time full disk encryption and related cryptographic authentication technologies in the form of an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) with system level solution suitable for securing Data-In-Motion and Data-at-Rest for modern storage subsystem applications.
Mr. Wann has specialized in chip engineering, software/firmware development and business development for over 20 years and developed the latest innovative X-Wall MX+ FIPS 140-2 certified SATA in-line 6Gbps AES CBC/XTS/ECB 256-bit cryptographic performance along with robust, trusted identity-based authentication for storage sub-storage system. Mr. Wann holds more than 12 worldwide patents related to data encryption technology.
Enova Technology has dedicated its research and development to hardware real-time full disk encryption technology since year 2000, and has engineered and manufactured a variety of real-time crypto ASIC and system solutions including high speed interfaced IDE (ATA), SATA (Serial ATA), USB2.0/USB3.0, U.S. Government CAC/PIV based 2-factor authentication encrypted storage, SecureRAID 1U, SecureRAID Mini-Tower and SecureNAS T2.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing Date: September 17, 2016
Craig Peterson: Welcome back to Tech Talk with Craig Peterson. We’re gonna talk right now about some technology that’s designed to help with various types of encryption here. Keeping your data safe. And boy, is that a big problem nowadays. It’s getting nothing but worse. If you’re in the healthcare business, of course, you have to keep it safe by law. If you’re a public company you have to keep it safe. And if you are company that has intellectual property, and this goes all the way across the board. From the entertainment industry that obviously has some pretty valuable stuff. All the way through just the small company that someone might wanna steal your technology here. Your intellectual property and run with it. You also have to keep it safe. It’s just all across the board. We’ve invited Robert Wann to join us. He is CEO over at Enova Technology Group. You’ll find them online at Enovatech, to talk about what is going on out there in the security business and a little bit of course about some of the problems we’re seeing as well. Robert, welcome to Tech Talk with Craig Peterson.
Robert Wann: Thank you Craig.
Craig: So you’re in Taiwan.
Robert: Yes, I’m currently in Jiufen, Taiwan.
Craig: And you have a number of different products out there. They’re all aimed at various aspects of security. You know, Robert, were hearing about security problems every day. Is there really something we can do as business people or as moms and dads, trying to keep our information safe and secure?
Robert: The most efficient way will be doing it by hardware. And that’s the best secure and most efficient way.
Craig: Can you explain a little bit more for us?
Robert: It’s sitting on a hardware chip that perform automatic and transparent encryption to encrypt your entire disk drive content. So that when you operated your computer, when you read the file, it’s automatically decrypted. When you save the file, the file is automatically encrypted. So that if you shut down your computer, this encryption key it’s gone. It’s erased. Such that when your computer got stolen, the people who have possession of your computer will need to understand how to get over the data encryption key which is your secret key. And the authentication over them is pretty much talking about how would you be able to manage your data encryption key.
Craig: Ok, that makes sense. So, if you have your key stored on that hard disk and it’s used to decrypt the hard disk, obviously that’s not secure at all. If you have the key separately so your machine boots up, one of the first things it does as it is booting is asks you for that encryption key, you can provide the key at that time and it’ll use it to decrypt the disk as it’s running here. And now you have a much safer system but how do you maintain the keys? That’s kind of our next problem here right Robert?
Robert: You’re absolutely correct Craig.
Craig: Alright. So there are many ways to do it. Two factor authentication is kind of the gold standard today. Which means something you have along something you know. So, if I want to keep my data safe, how can I use two factor authentication in order to help with this encryption process?
Robert: It’s something you have. For example a hardware key dongle. Or a small card. Or any USB key dongle that’s under your possession. And it’s something you know as a secret, a PIN, or a password.
Craig: We’re speaking tight now with the CEO of Enovatech, you’ll find them online at enovatech.com. E-N-O-V-A-T-E-C-H.com. Now, Robert, you’ve got a dozen, more than a dozen worldwide patents related to data encryption technology, you truly are an expert here in the field. You have a new product coming out here now, we got a couple of minutes left, called Enigma 3. Why don’t you tell us about what that is and how that can be used to help secure some of our data.
Robert: Definitely. Previously, when you were talking about data encryption, we talked about data sitting on the drive label. So that’s called DAR, a security as you mentioned earlier. Now, talking about Enigma 3, or Enigma 3.1 which is our new product coming to the market in next month or so. It’s a technology utilizing the hardware encryption chip to perform data emulsion security so that to ensure that every data you transfer or you put on the hard drive will be automatically encrypted by the hardware chip or hardware dongle and only the possession of the dongle plus the knowledge, because that’s what you know, as a PIN or password, can successfully decrypt the hardware encrypted file. So that’s the purpose of the Enigma 3.0 or 3.1. I take the advantage of the latest USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 technology. That comes very handy with your notebook computer or your desktop computer. For previously, was on the USB 2.0 but we figured the 2.0 particle might be running a little bit slow such that we operate the entire solution to USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 speed to get you the convenience of the speed while secure with the hardware chip.
Craig: Now, this is an interesting idea. Now it’s a USB dongle. So I plug this into my computer and then the idea is I can plug an external drive or drive ray into this? And all of that data is now encrypted as well?
Robert: Not entirely. Because the Enigma solution secure your data emulsion, meaning that people today, they tend to put all their photos and confidential documents into the public hard drive such as the Google Drive or Dropbox. It’s a cloud service drive and those documents or the information that you place in there wasn’t really secure. Simply because that they’re not encrypted. So when you send it over to cloud, you pretty much give it your 100% trust to the cloud service provider, that they will be able to take good care of your confidential information. There’s a better way to do that. That’s where Enigma 3.0 and 3.1 comes in that utilize the latest USB technology on the hardware chip label to allow users to select any file or folder they wanna encrypt or they wanna protect before they send the files or folders to the cloud storage for archiving or for sharing purposes.
Craig: Ok, I see how that goes now.
Robert: So you have an NGY as application programming running on top of either your Windows operating systems or your Macintosh operating systems and you get to select the file or folder you wanna encrypt. And so the performance out there relies on the hardware chip that is in there on your USB port.
Craig: Of course the encryption can be very, very difficult to do in software on your computer. Very time-consuming for the computer itself. Slows everything down. So by doing it with hardware encryption like you’re talking about here with your Enovatech Enigma 3 that speeds things up dramatically and can actually run it at USB 3.0 speeds which is going to make it just incredibly fast. Lets you now encrypt all of the stuff as it goes up to the cloud. And of course, the cloud is where everything seems to be going here in the future. This product, the latest one, should be out in the September 2016 timeframe, so keep an eye out for it and the company, again, is Enovatech. E-N-O-V-A-T-E-C-H.com. we’ve been joined by their CEO, Robert Wann. Thanks for being with us today Robert.
Robert: Thank you so much, Craig for your time.
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