People, technology and security – will it succeed?

Greater security for the organization, and still simplicity and user-friendliness when working with IT systems – how is this possible? Representatives of business, science and education addressed this question during the discussion of the Zero Outage Industry Standard association.

On the occasion of the conference “Zero Outage Executive Summit” on July 12 at the University of Vienna, in the round of talks The possibilities and limitations of technology, organization and people in the design and use of safe systems and products are discussed. The Zero Outage Industry Standard association has set itself the goal of minimizing manufacturer-independent downtime in the event of a failure by defining employee qualification levels as well as safety and platform requirements. And one thing is certain: a solid humanistic substructure will also be needed for the complex digitization structures of the future – in cooperation with science, business and users.

Photo above: Michael Glatz (Accenture), Martin Szelgrad (Report Verlag), Peter Reichl (University of Vienna), Christine Wahlmüller-Schiller (AIT) and Alexander Paral (ANEO Solutions / Quorum Distribution). Photo Monika Thomasberger.

“It’s over for puppies in computer science,” he says Piotr Reichl, University of Vienna. “IT is responsible for the world they are building.” Initiated in 2019 by the workshop of the then Dean of Computer Science at the Vienna University of Technology, Hannes Werthner, the term “digital humanism” refers to this responsibility. Reichl studies the effects of digital change and radically views computing as an artificial tsunami that will engulf mankind – if products and services are not designed in a user-friendly way. “We regularly read about IT system failures and we experience it ourselves every day. Maybe we all should think better in advance about what we can build – and then properly implement it – advises the head of the research group Spółdzielcze Systems at the Faculty of Computer Science.

Can an industry-wide quality standard help avoid IT failures? For Reichl, the “zero downtime idea” is decisive, but science and business have a huge role to play here. “Even if many IT platforms and solutions do not look like a rocket at first glance, we need to deal much better with the complexities behind the scenes.” It calls for an honest discussion about the role of IT in society, and even whether certain technologies should be made generally available for any purpose. Artificial intelligence is now a great cancer detection tool and is also used for deep fake videos. “Humanity has struggled for hundreds of years for a realistic picture of reality. Now we’re destroying it again with technology. Let’s also stop talking about customers – we have to talk about people. ” He advocates actively relying on secure systems and organizations – and thinking about more than just until the next security incident. Universities are responsible for the discussion about values ​​in technology.

Alexander Parall has been involved in backup and recovery topics for over 20 years. “I am convinced that any product can be designed with ease,” says Managing Director of ANEO Solutions and Quorum Distribution, pointing to the success of consumer devices such as the iPhone. Paral also recognizes the need for user-friendly security tools to best protect organizations from cyber threats. This requires bundling complex systems into simple and simple IT tools in order to be able to react quickly and correctly even in crisis situations. “It is difficult to implement such solutions, but that’s what we do together with our customers,” he says. Companies are informed about current threats and supported in preparation for emergencies. “It’s about testing processes multiple times and also learning from mistakes.”

Aneo Solution’s clients in the field of data security are the public sector and many medium-sized companies. “Even if we automate IT and are able to identify weaknesses with technological support, people are always a risk in the processes,” Aneo’s managing director points out to the main point of attack in cyber attacks: phishing. “Attackers are all about people’s willingness to help and trust that in situations involving two factors: urgency and authority – but also trust – some will react mindlessly and click a link, for example,” he announces about important cybersecurity training in his own company.

Regular training and full implementation of security concepts such as access authorization management are typical accompanying measures in customer projects. Practicing, repeating and learning how an organization should respond to threats is essential – technical security still often occurs with high availability in multiple protection of data and systems. In any case, products for this exist. Organizations with adequate prevention and contingency plans would now have to follow suit.

“We design technology and how people and our society deal with and experience applications, websites and new technologies,” he says. Christine Wahlmüller-Schiller, Lead Marketing and Communication at the AIT Technological Experience Center. The team of the Technological Experiences Center focuses on “Human-computer interaction”. “I have been working in the IT industry in many different areas for 25 years,” says Wahlmüller-Schiller. “We talked for just as long about improving the user experience.” “Total Experience” that describes the satisfaction of all aspects of technology systems from the perspective of employees, customers and users.

“As a society, we are moving towards a hybrid world where digital and analog are closely intertwined. The question we must now ask ourselves is: how do we want to design this shared virtual and real world? ” People need to stay abreast of developments from the start – “by design” applies to both user experience and security issues. As the number of cybercrime continues to increase, companies are advised to “take people with them”. “This is the main task for training and further education,” notes the expert “Digital Skills”. With the right knowledge, people can operate applications and tools and properly respond to security incidents.

The technological expertise area of ​​Austria’s largest non-university research institution provides cross-sectional material for a wide variety of industries, such as manufacturing, the health sector, banks and insurance companies. To ensure safety and ease of use, even with complex systems, an interdisciplinary collaboration between sociology, education, science and business is essential for Wahlmüller-Schiller.

Digital transformation and thus the conversion of business processes and business models into more resilient companies and organizations are the areas of responsibility of the IT service provider and Accenture consultant. A joint study with the Industry Federation found that companies with a higher degree of digitization are not only more productive, but also more resilient to the crisis. One reason: the depth of added value and the vertical integration of companies increases with the maturity of digitization – companies are thus becoming independent from suppliers. Therefore, for Michael GlatzManaging Director of Health & Public Services Accenture that “digitization per se is the first step towards resilience.”

“Today there is no more company area that has not been digitized,” reports Glatz. If IT were only seen as a cost center, security would often be neglected and only invested when something happened. It calls for a rethink of strategies to drive IT innovation. The pandemic would show that in many companies, movement is also possible in the case of digitization. “Suddenly, a cloud infrastructure and flexible work environment were deployed and deployed – with all the security challenges,” says Glatz.

With approximately 25,000 employees worldwide, Accenture supports the security area itself in detecting threat scenarios, defending against attacks on the company’s infrastructure and creating a security operations center. “We should always build IT optimally from the user’s point of view,” emphasizes the Accenture manager. However, this is a goal with limitations in practice, such as blocking access to end devices – which users like to keep to a minimum for convenience. Even though IT also creates new attack surfaces, the path is no longer reversible. Every business should now have plans to respond in the event of an IT infrastructure failure, including phone numbers, role assignments, and regular exercise.

Zero failure – four pillars of safety

Zero Outage is the epitome of how an organization behaves in the field of systematic and efficient task processing – for the purpose of continuous quality improvement. Zero downtime affects the operation of telecommunications and IT, service delivery and project implementation, as well as optimization of the customer interface and integration of other ICT providers. Zero Outage also covers the behavior of all employees in the organization – from top management to employees * in the base. The zero-downtime strategy covers various points to make the company’s process landscape safer:

– simple process descriptions
– Clearly define responsibilities and processes
– simulate an emergency situation regularly
– Consistently document and evaluate incidents

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“We started an information revolution – its outcome now depends on us”,
accented Hannes WerthnerFormer Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science of the Vienna University of Technology, on the occasion of the presentation of the “Vienna Manifesto on Digital Humanism” in 2019.

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