A group of women from Silicon Valley are setting out to change the trend at tech companies that employ mainly men. According to surveys carried out, most companies in the US tend to hire men and white men at that. This coincides with a recent social experiment that investigated people’s reaction to calgary IT support companies sending women to address their IT problems.

IT-Support

Project Include is made up of Women who have in their individual capacities, dared to challenge the big Silicon Valley companies like Google, Pinterest and Slack among others.

Erica Baker is famed for shaking up Google when she created a spreadsheet to show employees salaries with the intent to show the difference in pay for employees of different genders doing the same job. While Laura Gomez is seeking to create a difference in the hiring process to see to it that there is more diversity.

Like the saying goes, “there is safety in numbers” these ladies are joining hands to change the roles of women in technology. It is certainly no secret that the majority of IT support companies seem to hire men more than women and Project Include will definitely have a hard time trying to turn things around.

It is not that Silicon Valley or other tech companies are opposed to hiring women or people of a certain minority. Like one HR Manger explains, there are not a lot of qualified women to take up the positions available in the tech industry. “I would happily employ a qualified woman but the thing is you don’t see them sending in applications.” Jeremy Black the Hiring Manager at one of the tech companies explains.

Project Include has noted this and is working towards fixing it. The project is looking to create more opportunities for girls in school to take up tech related studies. Kimberly Bryant who works with Girls Code is working with Laura Wideman of Code 2040 are creating the opportunity for young girls to be included in computer science programs in their companies which will drive them to have more interest as well as experience in the tech world.

Another obstacle in the inclusion of women in the tech world is revealed by the social experience carried out with IT tech support companies. Many of the customers had a raised eyebrow or some sign of scepticism when they saw a woman showing up to attend to them. It may take a while to change the general perception that an IT expert needs to be a man or an oriental. This is going to need more women getting involved so that it is common place to have women experts.

Project include is a big step towards changing the perception. The women involved in this project are well known in the tech industry and by joining hands to promote diversity in employment it shouldn’t be long before the results can be seen.

But such initiatives do not go without criticism. There have been complaints that by focusing on particular groups, the project is not being diverse and is instead focusing on affirmative action which is going to be unfair to equally qualified white men who may be turned down by employers because of their gender and skin colour.

All in all, there is no denying that there is a need for fair employment systems at IT support companies and other tech companies regardless of gender, skin colour and ethnicity.

retail security systems

A data breach investigations report was recently presented by Verizon. It was a 60-page document that contained compiled and analyzed 63,000 security breach incidents and 1,300 confirmed data breaches that came from some 50 companies worldwide. This is a summary of the four categories of cyber security issues faced by major businesses, as acknowledged in the report.

Point-of-Sale (POS) Intrusions

Hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, and other retailers are all big targets of most POS intrusions. With regards to the means of attack, the POS machine should be compromised first, to be able to install some sort of a malware that is designed to collect magnetic strip data from credit cards as they are processed. Retrieval of data comes next to be able to transfer funds or make purchases with the retrieved credit card information.

Almost all POS attacks can be attributed to organized criminal groups operate out of Eastern Europe, according to the report, for monetary gain. Though POS attacks have been dwindling down over the last few years, the report still cautions that the threat is real and still happening and that it is more of a threat that retail security systems should target.

Web App Attacks 

The proverbial punching bag of the Internet, as the report refers to web applications, is the most common type of data breach. The methods being used by those with malevolent intent are weaknesses in the application such as inadequate input validation, which are then exploited by the injection or use of malware, phishing methods and just plain guessing at the user’s private information. Hacked credentials that are also being manipulated have access by simply pretending to be a valid user.

The report also stated that two-factor identification is better than single password-based protection.

Crimeware

The report defines crimeware as any malware incident that did not fit other patterns like espionage or POS attacks. Crimeware covers an expansive range of malware attacks that includes getting an online user’s banking information, mounting DoS attacks, spamming, and other unlawful actions. Web downloads and drive-by infections are reported to be the most common ways of infecting a system.

To combat crimeware, it is suggested that keeping software such as browsers up to date or applying security patches as soon as they are released.

Cyber-Espionage

Unauthorized network or system access linked to state-affiliated actors has tripled over the last year per the report. Cyber-espionage is actually gaining a wider variety of “threat-actions” pattern which is a cause a great alarm.

Another disturbing fact that the report cited is, once the foreign intruder or intruders have gained access, they can then participate in all kinds of not-so-good activities such as scanning of networks and transferring of sensitive data. China was once considered the only participant until Eastern Europe joined in and has reportedly instigated 21 percent of the reported attacks.

In this present day, Cybercrime is a big business. IT security pros and their retail security systems are being called upon to be watchful in identifying current and new generation of the threats and to continue to work on new and better ways to keep those threats at bay.

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