Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 25th March

Your Weekly Commercial Awareness Update – w/c 25th March

Your round-up of the stories that you should discuss at interview this week:

McDonald’s purchases AI start-up

Reported by Rui Ci Lee

McDonald’s acquired Israeli start-up Dynamic Yield’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology for $300m on Monday 25 March 2019. The technology will determine what products are promoted according to the weather, time of the day, popularity of food items on that particular day.

Each customers’ usual orders based the recognition of car number plates at drive-throughs. For instance, the technology will automatically suggest McFlurry ice cream on a hot day to customers.

This acquisition is McDonald’s biggest purchase in 20 years, as it has previously avoided acquisitions. The company’s turn to machine learning to improve the delivery of its services marks an attempt to stand out in the tougher fast food landscape in the US.

In September 2018, restaurant industry data provider MillerPulse found that the numbers visiting fast-food outlets had fallen by 2.6%. This is accompanied by a saturation of retail outlets and consumer demands for more discounts.

McDonalds plans to roll out the technology at its drive-through locations in the US first before expanding it overseas. Currently, the fast food chain serves about 68m customers each day from almost 38,000 outlets.

As for Dynamic Yield, the company will continue operating as a standalone business by its co-founder, Liad Agmon and serve other clients including Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and Ladbrokes.

Find out more at BBC and FT.

The EU’s new copyright law: What is going to change?

Reported by Jutha Cheewat

On Monday, the European Parliament approved the largest and most contentious change to copyright legislation in two decades.

The change is designed to give artists, musicians and publishes a better chance of being paid when their work appears on the internet. The directive, which has been fought over by MEP’s, creatives and EU governments for the past three years was passed on Tuesday. The most controversial clauses contained within the directive are Articles 11 and 13.

The legislation emphasises people will still be able to upload online content, however large technology firms will have to remove more content automatically. The legislation contained within Article 13 makes tech companies more liable for copyrighted content that is uploaded to their platforms, particularly if automatic scans already take place.

There is an exemption for content uploaded ‘for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche,’ including memes and GIFs.

Small music labels have welcomed the text. The executive chair of the Independent Music Companies Association has said: “This legislation will be the first time anywhere in the world that there is absolute confirmation that user upload services are covered by copyright and need a licence.”

Under Article 11, Google’s news platform will need to take out licences for showing content which is less than two years old on its news feed. An EU official has remarked that this will serve to ‘increase the bargaining power of the press publishers’ as it is now ‘a right that can be enforced in court.’

The directive will have to be implemented by all EU governments by 2021 when the rules come into force.

For more information see the Guardian and the FT.

The everyday battle against malicious web traffic

Reported by Emma Ducroix

“Someone is always trying to hack you,” says Mr Lee. “It’s one of the banal facts of the internet. »

Put an unprotected computer on the net and it’ll be infected by malware in seconds and possibly enslaved in a botnet army carrying out attacks on other targets.

The huge problem with informatics is that today, it has been so far that people are not enough skilled for fighting those eventual harmful web traffic seeking across companies networks. 

The fact to be ‘online’ do not look like a reality but those attacks are as criminals peering through the windows seeking a way in, which can make any person nervous for sure. 

Yet any organisation with an online presence gets exactly this type of unwelcome attention all the time.

This is why a security researcher, Andrew Morris, has started a company, “Grey noise” with a mission of logging, analysing and understanding it. 

He has created a honey-pot network computers and has a set up: considered as basic computers, his installation attracts the attention of bots and cyber-thieves looking to break in.

Indeed, his computers received between 750 and 2,000 connection requests per second and only a small percentage of the traffic is benign. 

So, 95% of the internet background noise is malicious.  

The problem take his roots in blocking those malicious web traffic, because at first it seems to be benign. 

And it’s only when anyone takes the time to trace the origin of this traffic that it becomes obvious it is malicious.

Compared to reality, the background noise or “Grey Noise” is for Martin Lee, outreach manager for Cisco’s Talos security team in Europe, “the constant noise of connections just like people rattling door handles and checking locks.”

It is important to say that trying to put down malware is a hard and a long task to do. And no network administrator wants to take on this responsibility. 

So Andrew Morris is trying to extract some useful insights, using it to profile bad sources of traffic. Ultimately it might be used to block the bad stuff. A protection negligence is allowing the bad guys to get inside vulnerable machines. 

Good internet protected neighbourhoods are few. One of the most suitable is Finland. It has worked hard to ensure that its net cannot be used as a proxy for attacks. 

Indeed, “That is one success factor in making the Finnish internet one of the cleanest ones in the world in terms of malware,” a spokesman for Finland’s cyber-security centre told the BBC.

Finland has put in place policies, which it polices diligently, to limit the abuse of its domains.

The spokesman said that it has laws and statutes that require ISPs and domain registrars to try as much as possible to limit abuse. It also uses automatic tools that scan for malicious use of Finnish domains – ending in .fi – and report when the abuse is happening.

Mr Morris’ analysis of the traffic coming from the bad neighbourhoods is already starting to reveal interesting and useful patterns. The early signs of massive attacks can be seen long before they start to hit everyone. That has been true of several headline-grabbing events such as those that hit office printers and Google’s Chromecast.

“That means defenders do have time to react – it’s not hopeless.”

See more information here.

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