Articles by Bernard Parsons
Today, customers are demanding immediacy, personalisation and seamless services from their providers and our desire for instant gratification means that those servicing the public need to provide easy, fast, smooth and continuous ways to meet customer expectations. This is where interactive kiosks can really help organisations to deliver a high level of service in an easy to use, automated way. In recent years, kiosks have fast gained popularity, not only because they enhance customer satisfaction, as they operate in self-service mode, but they also provide crucial information or services to customers as and when they need it. Think about how you utilise such services, at a railway station to buy tickets, in a fast food outlet to order food or in other ways as you go about your daily business. Interactive kiosks can really help organisations to deliver a high level of service in an easy to use, automated way Today, kiosks are typically placed in high foot-traffic environments such as retail stores, hospitals, banks, hotels, airports, courthouses, libraries, railway stations – you name it – providing customer access to information, products, websites, tools, or applications. For those less familiar, an interactive kiosk is a computer terminal featuring specialised hardware and software that provides access to information and applications for communication, commerce, entertainment, or education. Kiosk software platforms are easy to deploy Integration of technology allows kiosks to perform a wide range of functions, for example, kiosks may enable users to order from a shop's catalogue when items are not in stock, check out a library book, look up information about products, issue a hotel key card, or enter a public utility bill account number in order to perform an online transaction. Kiosks are computing platforms where the user interface needs to be limited to serve a specific purposePut simply, kiosks are computing platforms where the user interface needs to be limited to serve a specific purpose. Whether it is a citizen-facing platform in a government building or a device in a train station, the common theme is that the user is constrained to undertake very specific tasks with that device i.e. buy a train ticket. The device itself might have a full-blown operating system but all the user can see is the app and what they need to do. Therefore, it is very important for kiosk software platforms to be very easy to deploy and they must provide a very intuitive user experience. It is very much about the interaction the user is undertaking and little beyond that, which means the software must be optimised for user interaction in that context. But what that means is that security is often a secondary consideration, with many kiosk software providers paying lip service to security, while they focus primarily on ease of use and ease of management. Thinking of a kiosk as just a terminal that wouldn’t be of interest to a hacker is precisely why they are so attractive to attacks The threat of cyber attacks However, today we are seeing cyber-attacks escalating and becoming an everyday occurrence; as adversaries seek out new methods of attack and new threat vectors, so kiosks are becoming more of a target and an attractive platform for cyber adversaries to attack. Most kiosk software platforms just provide a management layer to configure an endpoint device in that kiosk. If you think about a traditional endpoint device such as a laptop, they are more likely to have a greater set of defence tools deployed, actively managing and monitoring the device, regularly patching and updating it. This is not the same where kiosk platforms are concerned. Kiosks are becoming more of a target and an attractive platform for cyber adversaries to attack So why is this? Often, the business can’t justify having a full-blown operating system and sophisticated defence tools on that platform, especially if they have a large number of kiosks deployed out in the field. They are normally in highly remote or widely geographically dispersed locations, which means there are significant costs involved to go out and fix them. Protecting devices in a more robust way Likewise, organisations don’t always have the local IT resource in many of these locations to maintain the equipment and its security. Or, if there is a patch management process in place it might not always be timely. For example, if you adopt an Android platform, Google regularly announces the vulnerabilities they have patched. This means the device manufacturers have to try and create patches for the vulnerabilities that have been announced publically to the cybercriminals. Adversaries know there is a window of opportunity they can exploit because the software author has told them about it. That time delay can be even worse in kiosk ecosystems, where there may be a diverse geographic spread of devices. We need to increasingly think about how we protect these devices in a more robust way Or the kiosk might simply be old. One of the reasons the WannaCry ransomware attack ended up being so widespread, is that there were old computing terminals throughout the NHS, running old operating systems. Any unpatched version of Windows is susceptible, so it can end up being a false economy by attempting to run these legacy systems for too long. As we continue to exploit and expect technology in every far-flung corner of the world, we need to increasingly think about how we protect these devices in a more robust way. Thinking of a kiosk as just a terminal that wouldn’t be of interest to a hacker is precisely why they are so attractive to attacks, because they know the security might not be as tight as it should be. Making kiosks more secure could be the difference between you being breached and remaining safe.
Becrypt, a trusted provider of endpoint cybersecurity software solutions, announced the launch of Paradox Edge, a desktop-as-a-service or secure ‘cloud client’ platform that is optimised for accessing cloud services. Paradox Edge is a managed service that enables organisations to extend the value of cloud adoption across the enterprise by reducing the software complexity associated with end user devices. It represents a highly cost-effective and scalable solution to the challenge of giving users - in certain cloud native communities and specific cloud use cases - agile, secure and stable access to cloud-based services and online applications. Reducing complexity, cost and time The integrated ‘cloud client’ model in the Paradox Edge platform means the need for third party software is eliminatedAs more businesses invest in cloud infrastructure, end user devices become little more than a platform from which to launch a browser. However, the complexity of third-party client applications on those devices – such as anti-virus, IDS and personal firewalls – means that setting up and managing them still represents an unwelcome cost to businesses. The integrated ‘cloud client’ model in the Paradox Edge platform means the need for third party software is eliminated and automated patch management is simplified, thereby reducing complexity, cost and management time. Users can access all their familiar tools such as Office365, VDI or online apps easily through Paradox Edge, meaning minimal training and end user support is required. New users can be set up in minutes and Paradox Edge is device agnostic, so organisations can repurpose existing devices from desktops and laptops to tablets and thin-clients. Management is simplified with Paradox Edge. Organisations simply select a preferred cloud infrastructure (AWS, Azure, or private), deploy the cloud client devices and then manage users through an intuitive web management console. A range of comprehensive support options are offered by Becrypt and its certified partners, providing end-to-end cloud-to-device expert support. Robust security-focused operating system Security and privacy features built into the service architecture allow organisations to stay in full control of applications and dataParadox Edge is based on Becrypt’s flagship product, Paradox, a security-focused ‘cloud client’ operating system that incorporates a ‘secure by design’ architecture which ensures devices remain in a known healthy state, free of malware. Security and privacy features built into the service architecture allow organisations to stay in full control of applications and data. Paradox Edge has a wealth of business applications, from agile start-ups who want to deploy an end user device infrastructure quickly, at low cost with the ability to scale, to established enterprise environments who need to roll out secure access to their cloud-based infrastructure to mobile workers or contracted employees to boost productivity. All organisations will benefit from reduced desktop management costs and the peace of mind associated with deploying a robust security-focused operating system, designed in collaboration with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. Secure and efficient operating environment Bernard Parsons, Co-Founder and CEO at Becrypt, commented: “At Becrypt, we believe that not all the benefits of cloud reside in the cloud. Organisations aiming to realise the cost savings and flexibility offered by the cloud are finding that the burden of provisioning and managing end user devices is a barrier to success. By eliminating the need for third party software on devices, Paradox Edge removes that management pain point, reducing cost of ownership and complexity to provide a more easily managed environment. “Paradox Edge simplifies ‘cloud client’ computing to provide a secure and efficient operating environment with an exceptionally low cost of ownership – helping organisations to truly realise the full benefits of cloud adoption.”