Machine Learning For Cyber-security Not Cyber-crime

Cyber-criminals have yet to adopt machine learning for offensive attack strategies and they probably won’t for a long time.

The cyber-security industry has always been under constant strain from cyber-criminals and malware. With increasing integration of hardware, software and services being built into every aspect of our lives, the task of keeping data secure has become even more difficult.

The arsenal of tools that cyber-criminals now have at their disposal has raised concerns for security companies, and turned the criminals into threat actors who can create, disseminate and penetrate a target’s defences using custom-built and never-before-seen malware. The security industry has had to adopt a new way of dealing with the unknown by leveraging the powerful capabilities of machine learning algorithms.

Threats To Secure Cloud Operations Are Evolving

John Howie, former COO of the Cloud Security Alliance, says secure providers aren’t enough; threats to users are evolving fast.

Confidence in the way the cloud providers manage security has risen as the sun sets on the first decade of cloud computing. If concern over cloud security has taken a step or two to the rear, it remains just off center stage, showing up in surveys as a diminished but still present concern.

And, a broadcast by a former chief operating officer of the Cloud Security Alliance explains why cloud security has yet to move offstage in the IT manager’s consciousness. John Howie, chief privacy officer and head of cyber-security at the Hauwei Consumer Business Group, said new threats are evolving with the cloud in webinar broadcast by IEEE Jan. 24. Howie was COO of the Cloud Security Alliance from 2012 to 2014 and is a principal of Howie Consulting Inc.

AI Technology Takes Center Stage At Retail Convention

Artificial intelligence (AI) and other leading-edge technologies will be highlights of this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show in New York, but many retailers are still struggling with more rudimentary analytics.

Many retailers continue to struggle to keep up with the disruptions that digital natives have brought to the industry. Companies such as Amazon introduced recommendation engines and rating systems. And in the last decade, the iPhone and Android mobile devices have put even more power into consumers’ pockets. Shoppers can be in one physical retail location and search for a better deal elsewhere using their smart phones.

The world is shifting underneath retailers’ feet. And more is yet to come. At the National Retail Federation event in New York (January 15 through 17) technology vendors are be showcasing some of the most cutting edge technologies for retailers, including chatbots, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and more. Are retailers ready?

It depends. There’s really a range of experiences across companies. Analytics can offer retailers value across many aspects of their businesses, from supply chain optimization to workforce management to understanding consumer behavior.

Compiled by Shreyansh Surana

Policy Updates. In today’s policy updates, I give highlights of the Economic Survey released by India’s CEA Arvind Subramaniam.

The Economic Survey projects the GDP growth in 2017-18 to be between 6.75 per cent to 7.5 per cent post-demonetisation. For the current fiscal, the growth is projected to fall to 7.1 per cent from 7.6 per cent last fiscal.

Good fiscal performance by States should be incentivised to keep the overall fiscal performance on track

The Survey has highlighted the need for fiscal prudence both by the Centre as well as the States in order to maintain overall fiscal health of the economy.

It elaborates that as the fiscal challenges mount for the states because of the Pay Commission recommendations, and mounting payments from the UDAY bonds, there is a need to review how fiscal performance can be kept on track. Greater reliance will need to be placed on incentivising good fiscal performance, not least because states are gradually repaying their obligations to the Centre, removing its ability to impose a hard budget constraint on them says the Economic Survey. Above all, however, incentivising good performance by the States will require the Centre to be an exemplar of sound fiscal management itself.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) Scheme an alternative to plethora of State subsidies for poverty alleviation

The Survey has advocated the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) as an alternative to the various social welfare schemes in an effort to reduce poverty.

The Survey says the UBI, based on the principles of universality, unconditionality and agency, is a conceptually appealing idea but with a number of implementation challenges lying ahead especially the risk that it would become an add-on to, rather than a replacement of, current anti-poverty and social programmes, which would make it fiscally unaffordable.

Based on a survey on misallocation of resources for the six largest Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Sub-Schemes (except PDS and fertilizer subsidy) across districts, the Economic Survey points out that the districts where the needs are greatest are precisely the ones where State capacity is the weakest. This suggests that a more efficient way to help the poor would be to provide them resources directly, through a UBI.

Exploring the principles and prerequisites for successful implementation of UBI, the Survey points out that the two prerequisites for a successful UBI are: (a) functional JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile) system as it ensures that the cash transfer goes directly into the account of a beneficiary and (b) Centre-State negotiations on cost sharing for the programme.

The Survey says that a UBI that reduces poverty to 0.5 percent would cost between 4-5 percent of GDP, assuming that those in the top 25 percent income bracket do not participate. On the other hand, the existing middle class subsidies and food, petroleum and fertilizer subsidies cost about 3 percent of GDP.

Property Tax can be tapped to generate Additional Revenue at City Level

Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), having primary responsibility for the development and service provisioning of cities, face major and inextricably linked problems: large infrastructure deficits, inadequate finances, and poor governance capacities.

Currently, tax revenues are not constrained by inadequate taxation powers of ULBs. One promising source is property tax. The study done for the Survey shows that property tax potential is large and can be tapped to generate additional revenue at city level. Satellite imagery can be a useful tool for improving urban governance by facilitating better property tax compliance.

Apparel and Leather industry key to generation of formal and productive jobs

The Survey recommends:

An FTA with EU and UK in the case of apparel will offset an existing disadvantage by India’s competitors- Bangladesh, Vietnam and Ethiopia. In the case of leather and footwear, the FTA might give India an advantage relative to competitors. In both cases, the incremental impact would be positive.
The introduction of the GST offers an excellent opportunity to rationalize domestic indirect taxes so that they do not discriminate in the case of apparels against the production of clothing that uses man-made fibers; and in the case of footwear against the production of non-leather based footwear.
A number of labor law reforms would encourage employment creation in these two sectors.

Labour migration in India increasing at an accelerating rate

Policy actions to sustain and maximise the benefits of migration include: ensuring portability of food security benefits, providing healthcare and a basic social security framework for migrants – potentially through an inter-state self-registration process.

Redistributive Resource Transfers (RRT) should be significantly linked to fiscal and governance efforts on the part of the states

Redistributive Resource Transfer or RRT to a state (from the Centre) is defined as gross devolution to the state adjusted for the respective state’s share in aggregate Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The top 10 recipients are: Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Assam.

The Economic Survey 2016-17 points out that there is no evidence of a positive relationship between the transfers and various economic outcomes. Instead, there is a suggestive evidence of a negative relationship. For example, larger RRT flows seem to negatively affect fiscal effort (defined as the share of own tax revenue to GSDP). These trends are robust to alternative definitions of RRT.

In this context, the question is whether RRT, in future, can be linked more saliently to fiscal and governance efforts on the part of the States.

The Economic Survey 2016-2017, also suggests providing a part of the RRTs or to redistribute the gains from resource use as a Universal Basic Income (UBI) directly to households in relevant states which  receive large RRT flows and are more reliant on natural resource revenues.

Fiscal activism embraced by advanced economies not relevant for India

Since the 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis (GFC), internationally fiscal policy has seen a paradigm shift from the emphasis on debts to deficits, arguing for greater activism in flows (deficits) and minimising concerns about sustainability of the stocks (debt). But India’s experience has reaffirmed the need for rules to contain fiscal deficits, because of the proclivity to spend during booms and undertake stimulus during downturns. India’s experience has also highlighted the danger of relying on rapid growth rather than steady and gradual fiscal and primary balance adjustment to do the “heavy lifting” on debt reduction. In, short it has underscored the fundamental validity of the fiscal policy principles set out in the FRBM.

Suggests setting up of a centralised Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency

The Survey reaches to the conclusion that it may be necessary because

Public discussion of the bad loan problem has focused on bank capital. But far more problematic is finding a way to resolve the bad debts in the first place.
Some debt repayment problems have been caused by diversion of funds. But the vast majority has been caused by unexpected changes in the economic environment after the Global Financial Crisis, which caused timetables, exchange rates, and growth rate assumptions to go seriously wrong.

This concentration creates a challenge since large cases are difficult to resolve, but also an opportunity since TBS could be overcome by solving a relatively small number of cases.
Restoring them to financial health will require large write-downs.
Among other issues, they face severe coordination problems, since large debtors have many creditors, with different interests. And they find it hard –financially and politically—to grant them sizeable debt reductions, or to take them over and sell them.

It increases the costs to the government since bad debts of the state banks keep rising, and increases the costs to the economy, by hindering credit, investment, and therefore growth.
Since, private run Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) have not been successful either in resolving bad debts, though international experience (especially that of East Asian economies) shows that a professionally run central agency with the government backing could overcome the coordination and political issues that have impeded progress over the past eight years.

Source: Swarajya Magazine

In other important Developments, Livemint talks about the Economics of Illegal Immigration. 

US President Donald Trump’s first steps to tighten American border policy have, unsurprisingly, courted controversy. His executive order clamping down on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations is aimed at bolstering national security. The issue that had dominated his campaign trail and much of the first week of his presidency—stopping illegal immigration from Mexico—is a different matter. The driving impulse here, even if obfuscated by unfortunate rhetoric and a border wall solution that is essentially a boondoggle, is economic. That impulse is more complicated than it may initially seem.

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