Keynote: ARE CERTAIN CULTURES MORE PREDISPOSED TO CYBER-THREATS?

Great discussions on the suspicious nature of society with data experts at the BankenForen Conference IT- & Cybersecurity in the financial industry

Details HERE

Video: Full ec4u digital thoughts Conference Keynote: What’s next? Expeditions into the digital realm

Jochen Werne, Director Marketing & Business Development at Bankhaus August Lenz, explains in his keynote address how we can shape the future from the innovations and topics of the past and why digitization must be thought of not only technologically but also culturally.

ec4u Digital Thoughts Conference Keynote

Jochen Werne, Direktor Marketing & Business Development beim Bankhaus August Lenz, erläutert in seiner Keynote, wie wir aus den Innovationen und Themen der Vergangenheit in der Gegenwart die Zukunft gestalten können und warum Digitalisierung nicht nur technologisch, sondern auch kulturell gedacht werden muss.

Keynote announcement: International Banking Innovation Forum, Vienna

Banking Professionals are faced with many new challenges as PSD2 & Instant Payments in Europe at center stage which are driving automation and Innovations. It will be a great pleasure representing Bankhaus August Lenz with a keynote on the importance of the combination of all aspects of HUMAN, DIGITAL & CULTURE to create valuable business models for future banking. Looking forward joining other Top Industry Experts to tackle these topics with them.

The Cultural Dimension of Cyber Threats

Country-specific aspects of cybercrime.

The number of cyber attacks on businesses, governments and individuals is increasing worldwide. The human being in his cultural environment is an important element. Different cultures seem to be associated with different susceptibilities.

by JOCHEN WERNE – Original published in German on January 18, 2019 at Der Bank-Blog – Translation with DeepL.com



In its annual management report “The Situation of IT Security in Germany 2018”, the Federal Office for Information Security records a threatening scenario: The number of cyber attacks on the federal government, German industry and private individuals is increasing at an alarming rate. Germany, in particular, is being massively targeted by criminal hackers.

One thing is certain: almost 90 percent of all cyber attacks have a criminal background. Approximately ten percent of all cyber attacks are caused by state cyber warriors. The goal of criminals is either personal data (account connections, credit card numbers, passwords, etc.) or capturing the computer for new attacks via bot network or to extort ransom money for the renewed release of the computer. The ransomware “Wannacry” is an equally prominent and frightening example of this. If state systems become the target of hackers, this usually results in sabotage, espionage and the spying out of trade secrets. The BSI discovered 800 million malicious programs for computer systems last year. In the previous year, the figure was 600 million – around 400,000 malware variants are added daily.

Cyber Security and the Human-Cultural Factor

The view must be directed to an important dimension of the human factor: The influence of different cultures on the handling of technology and in particular on the behaviour of individuals in the context of cyber security. Cultural peculiarities influence preferences, prejudices and behaviours. In his renowned book “The Culture Code”, anthropologist and marketing expert Dr. Clotaire Rapaille explores how members of different nationalities have developed very different codes for the image of products, companies or countries.

These findings come from client assignments in which Dr Rapaille conducted extensive interviews with focus groups to identify cultural preferences, prejudices, idiosyncrasies and behaviors. In more in-depth analyses, a piece of generalized psycho-cultural characteristics is then derived from representatives of the countries studied.

Country-specific aspects of cybercrime

Questions arise as to what protective concepts and guidelines might look like that take this background into account appropriately? And what role do cultural and country-specific aspects play here, such as the famous “German Angst” and corporate cultural aspects, such as the comparison of a classical hierarchical system versus Holacracy models, which have become increasingly en vogue in times of digital transformation?

Some concise examples from the findings of Dr. Rapaille: Americans define themselves strongly through their work. In this culture, professional activity largely determines the image of one’s own identity. The importance of money in this culture is proof of diligence and success.

The author sees completely different meanings in European countries. In France, for example, work and money are regarded more as “necessary means to an end” – those who can afford it expect at least a certain amount of entertainment and comfort from their job there. According to Dr. Rapaille, quality and technical perfection play an important and in some cases even absolute role in Germany or Japan, while US-Americans, according to his analyses, in many cases content themselves with “It just works” and are even sceptical about excessive perfection.

The author recognizes the Germans’ tendency towards perfectionism, which is partly exaggerated from a foreign point of view, as decisive for the quality of “German Engineering” and the global economic success of the Germans in this field. Dr. Rapaille is convinced that US culture, on the other hand, is characterized by a widespread refusal to grow up, which in turn leads to a great competitive advantage in the field of innovation.

Conclusions for more cyber security

This raises the question what are the appropriate protection concepts in an increasingly complex threat situation. A classic approach is the definition and enforcement of policies, both on a technical and organizational level, which are intended to guarantee compliance with security measures. The more hierarchically and authoritatively a corporate culture is aligned, the more restrictive the corresponding guidelines usually become.

However, the approach of establishing security primarily through bans and restrictions on user freedoms has proven to be double-edged in practice. The more the possibilities of an individual user are restricted, the more this encourages the tendency to escape the corset of safety-related rules.

A typical consequence is the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) problem with which many company IT departments have been confronted for years – if the functions and authorizations of their work equipment are too limited, users bring private end devices with them to the workplace. These are then often not integrated at all into the protection and security concepts of the company. If the BYOD escape route is also suppressed, such measures often result in a refusal attitude à la “The desired is not possible with the means available – if the IT department wants it that way, then this task cannot be solved”.

Flat hierarchies and personal responsibility as a solution?

Is the better way, then, in holacracy models, in flat hierarchies, or in “loose reins” in terms of security and a strengthening of employees’ personal responsibility?

For the reasons derived in the preceding sections, this approach is by no means a guarantee for higher IT and information security. A healthy middle course could lie in adequate risk management. Technical and organisational security measures take into account the hazard level of specific data and applications. Sensitive areas and particularly sensitive data are subject to more stringent security measures, business areas or processes with less sensitivity are also protected, but assign employees a higher degree of personal responsibility. All protective measures take into account the above-mentioned psychological and cultural-historical findings.


Human. Digital. Culture. Our life in times of exponential technologies

16 January 2019 – Author: Jochen Werne

Almost every day, experts in the media try to create a historical analogy for us in order to explain the dynamics and speed with which changes are taking place today at all levels of our lives – from private consumption and our working world to international politics. Often analogies are drawn to different decades of the 20th century. The prominent British historian and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson contradicts these comparisons and sees an analogy rather in the effects that the invention of the printing press in the 15th century had on our lives and on our society. Only that today the changes due to exponential technologies and the Internet take place much faster.

For us as the HUMAN Factor, these comparisons are incredibly important. In times of uncertainty, they help us to better assess the changes and thus at least maintain a certain reassuring feeling of security and explainability. However, if we do not succeed in setting the right filters in times of social media and “information overload”, we run the risk that this feeling of understanding does not materialize and that we all too easily become victims of supposedly simple explanations and “fake news”. Ferguson uses a striking example to illustrate that this is not a new phenomenon and that serious technological changes have also brought major and often turbulent changes to society. In times of the invention of book printing, knowledge was spread more cheaply and a broad part of the population gained access to higher education. One of the first books to be printed in large numbers was the Bible. But also other writings, like “Malleus Maleficarum” or in English the “Hammer of Witches” became famous. The “Fake News” book served to justify the persecution of witches, appeared in 29 editions and has been second place on the book bestseller list for 200 years.

At the latest since the end of the 1990s, since the mass “democratization” of the Internet, our lives have been shaped by the exponential progress of modern technologies. The associated digitalization – the DIGITAL Factor – is not only a technical and economic challenge, but also a societal one. However, the enlightened man began, not to accept everything that a “Beautiful New World”, sometimes reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s novel, promises. This is shown by citizen projects such as the so-called “Charter of Digital Fundamental Rights” of the European Union.

The word “exponential” automatically hides the logical conclusion that change will take place even faster in the future. These changes affect almost every industry and what is seen today as a billion-dollar future market can quickly become a basic business with significantly lower costs and thus significantly lower profit margins tomorrow. The camera chip of our smartphones costs today only about two to three Euros, a Spotify subscription, and thus the access to an incredible amount of music, only a few Euros a month.

The conclusion for companies in the 21st century is simple: Those who do not understand these exponential dynamics of technical development or do not take them sufficiently into account in their business model can quickly lose touch – not only with customers but also with potential business partners. But why is it so difficult for us to correctly assess the development potential of the technologies? The answer: People think linearly. This is why technologies are usually overestimated at the beginning of their development, but tend to be underestimated in the long run. This was first described in 1965 by the Intel engineer Gordon Moore – later known as Moore´s Law, one of the essential theoretical foundations of the “digital revolution”. In times of exponential technologies, our society risks a split between the group of people with an affinity for digital and digital natives and a group of people who have growing difficulties with the speed of change of our time. The latter have not learnt to keep pace with fast-moving digital innovations due to their low affinity, age or lack of points of contact in everyday life.

Throughout history, new technological possibilities have always come with threatening concepts that have been published and discussed on all media channels available during this period. Today it is: “total transparency”, “transparent consumer”, “constant availability” or even job loss due to ongoing automation and artificial intelligence. At the social and state level, attempts are being made to counteract such fears, to increase competitiveness and to involve the population in the process of change. Two of the many good examples referring to Germany are the strategy on artificial intelligence put in place by the Federal Government and the Platform for Learning Systems initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

It is important never to forget, that every change – even if the trigger is a rapidly developing technology – requires a certain time horizon to be implemented and to create broad acceptance. Here the “CULTURE Factor” often comes into play. One example is cash. While the Scandinavian countries, above all Sweden, are about to digitalize their payment systems to a large extent, in Germany currently about 80 percent of all transactions are carried out with cash.

In every business model, global trends need to be identified, changes need to be driven, and local conditions need to be taken into account in order to be successful in this market. The same formula applies to societal change. Especially when it comes to creating an agenda for the use of new technologies for the benefit of our society.

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Photo from Niall Ferguson and Peter Robinson discuss networks and hierarchies throughout history in this episode of Uncommon Knowledge. Quote from the New York Times article “‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It” by David Streitfeld

Human. Digital. Culture. Unser Leben in Zeiten exponentieller Technologien

16. Januar 2019 – Autor: Jochen Werne

Fast täglich wird von Experten in den Medien versucht für uns eine geschichtliche Analogie herzustellen, um die Dynamik und Geschwindigkeit zu erklären, mit der sich heute Veränderungen auf allen Ebenen unseres Lebens – vom privaten Konsum, unserer Arbeitswelt bis hin zu internationaler Politik – vollziehen. Oftmals werden hierfür Vergleiche zu den 1930ern oder 70ern gezogen. Der bekannte britische Historiker und Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson widerspricht diesen Vergleichen und sieht eine Analogie vielmehr in den Effekten, die die Erfindung der Druckerpresse im 15. Jahrhundert auf unser Leben und auf unsere Gesellschaft hatte. Nur, dass sich heute die Veränderungen durch exponentielle Technologien und das Internet wesentlich schneller vollziehen. Für uns Menschen – also den HUMAN Factor – sind diese Vergleiche unglaublich wichtig. Sie helfen uns in Zeiten der Unsicherheit, die Veränderungen besser einschätzen zu können und somit zumindest ein gewisses beruhigendes Gefühl der Sicherheit und Erklärbarkeit zu erhalten. Wenn es uns jedoch nicht gelingt in Zeiten von Social Media und medialem „information overload“ die richtigen Filter zu setzen, laufen wir Gefahr, dass sich dieses Gefühl des Verständnisses nicht einstellt und wir allzu leicht Opfer vermeintlich einfacher Erklärungen und „Fake News“ werden. Dass dies kein neues Phänomen ist und gravierende technologische Veränderungen auch große und oftmals turbulente Veränderungen auf die Gesellschaft mit sich brachten, macht Ferguson an einem prägnanten Beispiel fest. In Zeiten der Erfindung des Buchdrucks kam es zu einer  kostengünstigeren Verbreitung von Wissen und somit zur Möglichkeit, dass breite Bevölkerungsschichten Zugang zu höherer Bildung erlangten. Eines der ersten in großer Auflage gedruckten Werke war die Bibel. Doch erlangten auch andere Schriften, wie „Malleus Maleficarum“ oder zu deutsch der Hexenhammer Berühmtheit. Das eindeutige „Fake News Werk“ diente zur Rechtfertigung der Hexenverfolgung, erschien in 29 Auflagen und belegte für immerhin 200 Jahre den zweiten Platz der Bücherbestsellerliste. 

Spätestens seit Ende der 90er Jahre, seit der massenhaften „Demokratisierung“ des Internets, ist unser aller Leben durch den exponentiellen Fortschritt moderner Technologien geprägt. Die damit einhergehende Digitalisierung – also der DIGITAL Factor – ist nicht nur eine technische und ökonomische Herausforderung, sondern vor allem auch eine gesellschaftliche. Dass der aufgeklärte Mensch jedoch beginnt, nicht alles einfach unreflektiert hinzunehmen, was eine an Aldous Huxley erinnernde „Schöne neue Welt“ zu versprechen scheint, zeigen Bürgerprojekte, wie die sogenannte „Charta der Digitalen Grundrechte“ der Europäischen Union. 

Bereits im Wort „exponentiell“ verbirgt sich automatisch die logische Schlussfolgerung, dass sich Veränderungen in Zukunft noch schneller vollziehen werden. Diese Veränderungen betreffen nahezu jede Branche und was heute ein milliardenschwerer Zukunftsmarkt ist,kann morgen schnell zu einem Basisgeschäft mit deutlich geringeren Kosten und somit auch deutlich geringeren Gewinnmargen werden. Der Kamera-Chip unserer Smartphones kostet heute nur noch rund zwei bis drei Euro, ein Spotify-Abo, und somit der Zugriff auf eine unfassbar große Menge an Musik, nur wenige Euro im Monat. 

Die Schlussfolgerung für Unternehmen im 21. Jahrhundert ist sichtlich einfach: Wer diese exponentiellen Dynamiken von technischer Entwicklung nicht versteht oder nicht ausreichend in seinem Geschäftsmodell berücksichtigt, kann schnell den Anschluss verlieren – Anschluss an Kunden aber auch an potenzielle Geschäftspartner. 

Doch warum fällt es uns so schwer, das Entwicklungspotenzial der Technologien richtig einzuschätzen? Die Antwort: Menschen denken linear. Deswegen werden Technologien zu Beginn der Entwicklung meist überschätzt, langfristig aber tendenziell unterschätzt. Dies wurde 1965 durch den Intel Ingenieur Gordon Moore erstmals beschrieben – später bekannt als Moore´s Law, einer der wesentlichen Theoriegrundlagen der „digitalen Revolution“. 

Unsere Gesellschaft lebt in Zeiten exponentieller Technologien natürlich auch mit der Gefahr einer Spaltung zwischen der Gruppe digital affiner Bevölkerungsschichten und Digital Natives sowie einer Gruppe von Menschen, die wachsende Schwierigkeiten mit der Veränderungsgeschwindigkeit unserer Zeit hat. Letztere haben aufgrund geringer Affinität, teilweise des Alters oder fehlender Berührungspunkte im Alltag nicht gelernt, mit den schnelllebigen digitalen Innovationen Schritt zu halten. Mit allen technischen Möglichkeiten geistern zudem Begrifflichkeiten durch die Medien, die vielen Sorgen bereiten und Ängste schüren: „Totale Transparenz“, „gläserner Konsument“, „ständige Verfügbarkeit“ oder gar Arbeitsplatzverlust aufgrund anhaltender Automatisierung und Artificial Intelligence. Auf gesellschaftlicher und staatlicher Ebene wird versucht solchen Ängsten entgegenzuwirken, Konkurrenzfähigkeit zu steigern und die eigene Bevölkerung in den  Veränderungsprozess miteinzubeziehen. Zwei der vielen guten Beispiele in Deutschland hierfür sind, die von der Bundesregierung verabschiedete Strategie zu Künstlicher Intelligenz oder die vom BMBF initiierte Plattform für Lernende Systeme.                  

Es gilt bei jeder Veränderung – sei der Auslöser auch eine sich schnell entwickelnde Technologie – nie zu vergessen, dass es einem zeitlichen Horizont bedarf um Neues zu implementieren und eine breite Akzeptanz zu schaffen. Hier kommt der „CULTURE Factor“ oftmals ins Spiel. Ein Beispiel ist Bargeld. Während die skandinavischen Länder, allen voran Schweden, davor stehen ihre Bezahlsysteme weitgehend zu digitalisieren, werden in Deutschland aktuell noch rund 80 Prozent aller Transaktionen mit Bargeld durchgeführt. Es gilt also in jedem Geschäftsmodell globale Trends zu erkennen, Veränderungen zu treiben, jedoch auch lokale Gegebenheiten zu berücksichtigen, um in diesem Markt erfolgreich zu sein. Dieselbe Formel gilt für unsere gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen und das Ziel neue Technologien zum Guten für unsere Gesellschaft einsetzen zu können.