The twin challenges of innovation and cybersecurity are making the provenance of information vital to CIOs, according to Serguei Beloussov, the entrepreneur behind Acronis a security and backup specialist. But Beloussov is not alone, a number of recent conversations with CIOs and next generation service providers demonstrates that as organisations use the full power of cloud computing to develop and implement edge computing opportunities, the number of threats increases as do the innovation opportunities.
The debate about securing devices has passed and gone. Today’s customer centric CIO is far more focused on securing the information. But here in lies the problem, the ability to fake information is a new(ish), and unwelcome innovation to our society. I recently had the pleasure of meet Dr Robert Gates, who served as a defence secretary from 2006 to 2011. Gates revealed that the pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden have never been released as the US government of the time realised the images could be altered and used to inflame the already difficult relationship between cultures of the Middle-East and the West. Fast forward to 2018 and we now know that the EU Referendum and US elections were influenced by information on social media that is of poor provenance.
These may be big macro-political issues, but as Beloussov and I discussed, their counterparts could very soon be coming home to roost in the world of the enterprise CIO. The rise of edge devices collecting and sending data into the organisation from outside of the datacentre increases the opportunities for “threatening state actors” as CIO Alan Hill describes in our recent podcast, to damage an organisation with incorrect information.
“You have to have a blend of security and accessibility,” Beloussov says, adding that CIOs cannot prevent the proliferation of edge devices and nor would they want to. Beloussov explained that Acronis is seeing a rising number of organisations asking: “how do we know that the data is original?”
Increasing accessibility to information is vital to CIOs of organisations taking advantage of developments in the supply chain or the digital economy. Just as digital adoption in many sectors has been driven by consumers, Beloussov believes information provenance will also be driven by the customer. Some economies are aware of this, Singapore for example.
Provenance has been a key part of the vernacular for a number of sectors, but has perhaps not been a regular part of IT’s language, until now. Take the food chain, cast your mind back just a couple of years and how damaging it was to the Tesco supermarket chain that it could not manage the provenance of the meat it sold, the beef turned out to be horse meat. Until now the provenance of the information our organisations create was relatively straight forward, but if organisations lose the ability to guarantee information provenance, then risks to business reputations increase.
But as regulations such as GDPR have shown, CIOs that put the I of information at the forefront of their role prosper.