MWC, cyberattack hot zones and TikTok in trouble – The February Tech Digest
As we near the end of the cold season and the first hints of spring enter the air, it is a good time to reflect back on the last stretch of winter and how it shook up the tech world. February can be tough – we’re all tired of the winter and as the end of the month nears the excitement builds up for warmer temperatures to come.
This sense of build-up was also rife in the tech industry last month, with Mobile World Congress, the Telecoms sector’s largest trade show, taking over Barcelona. Alongside MWC’s high attendance this year, numbers were a recurring topic this February, as open banking achieved a big user milestone, hitting 7 million users in the UK.
In less positive news, recent data revealed just how popular a target the UK is for cyber criminals. Other than that, big tech stories continue to dominate the news, with Elon Musk making further questionable headlines and TikTok sparking controversy due to security concerns. And yes, Chat GTP and AI continue to persist in an arms race between Big Tech companies – let’s examine all of this more closely.
The beast is back – the return of MWC
We reached that time of the year again… MWC came back in full swing! The conference took place at the Fira, Barcelona starting at the end of February through to the beginning of March. Post-pandemic conditions made this year’s telco convention chaotic compared to the previous – with crowds of over 88,500 people, from 202 countries and over 1000 speakers and thought leaders. Big topics include sustainability, 5G, and 6G while the overall takeaway is that telecoms is entering a bit of an existential crisis.
What was abundantly clear is that for telecoms, innovation is a constant – whether that be 5G and 6G, network functions, or how cloud providers position themselves within the Telco world. The big names included Microsoft, Verizon and T-Mobile and all of the big European and US telcos. You can read a recap here.
Our #telecoms team are back from a busy week in Barcelona packed with events, filming and media briefings.
It was great seeing and supporting so many #clients at the busiest Mobile World Congress we’ve seen in years.
See you next year! pic.twitter.com/S21lasXrXc
— Babel PR (@BabelPR) March 6, 2023
Open banking reaches user milestone in the UK
If all the MWC excitement is not enough for you, let’s look at a big milestone that was achieved by the UK banking world. Towards the end of the month, The Fintech Times reported that open banking reached 7 million users in the UK, only 5 years after its inception, marking this as the first time the technology has been used by seven million SMEs. Pretty huge, if you ask me.
One of the big factors behind this achievement is the cost-of-living crisis. Open banking can be a salve for financial anxiety in this case, as banks are met with increasing customer demands for insight into income and outgoings. It is also worth mentioning that awareness and education around open banking to enable its adoption are vital, when adopting the technology, as the biggest concern that comes with it is security.
Costa del UK, a hot zone for cyber criminals
It feels like there is at least one cyber attack appearing in the news every day lately. Recent research has shown that the UK is a hot zone for cybercriminals, and has suffered the most cyberattacks of any European country within the last year. In fact, the UK accounted for 43% of attacks observed in Europe over the past 12 months! Germany came in second with 14%.
But what made the UK such a popular target? This could come down to various things – while underinvestment in security systems and a lack of understanding when it comes to its implementation could be factors, the size of the UK tech industry could also make UK companies tempting targets.
IT vulnerabilities were the most common intrusion route for these attacks, which comprised 18% of the attacks in the UK. Needless to say, there is a push to invest more in updated security services, as there was a recorded drop in cybersecurity in 2022, with 11.3% of the average IT budget being spent on cybersecurity. What’s even more shocking is that this remained flat since 2021, calling for the UK tech industry to take drastic measures.
TikTok ban in the US kicks off domino effect
In the enterprise tech world, February saw the resurgence of the ongoing battle between the US and China – and it all comes down to TikTok. If the tech layoffs were not enough, recent controversy on TikTok’s data management and security have meant that the US, followed by Canada and the EU have raised national security fears and have been ordered to wipe the Chinese app from all their services.
Back in 2020, TikTok was almost banned in the US by former-US President Donald Trump, a proposal finally overturned by Biden in 2021. This might have eased the tension in the TikTok headquarters for a time. However, it seems that we are back to square one, as research speculates whether TikTok has brainwashing powers in influencing the masses and whether it is used by Chinese authorities to spy on users. One can only reflect on what a US ban would mean for the platform’s future.
AI slowly being adopted by tech giants as Microsoft incorporates ChatGPT in their search engines
AI and Chat GPT seem to be everywhere in the news these days. In a tired haze, I opened my Snapchat app the other day and realised that an AI assistant had been set up – is AI completely taking over?
At the beginning of the month, Microsoft announced a new version of its search engine Bing, which has incorporated Chat GPT technology. Interestingly enough, the announcement came a day after Google revealed their own chatbot, Bard, marking the beginning of the arms race between Google and Microsoft. The Big Tech leaders are certain that the adoption of artificial intelligence technology will reshape every software category known. Microsoft has followed by announcing their collaboration with Open AI and described it as a “multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment”, affecting platforms such as Microsoft Teams.
As Chat GPT has been criticised for giving wrong answers in the past, this will affect professions such as journalism and PR – now if that doesn’t make you shiver a little bit, what will?
Last month brought excitement for telcos, loads of data breaches, a big win for the open banking world and very stressed TikTok employees. The AI takeover also continues, placing Google and Microsoft in what I can only picture as a medieval knight horse tilt with AI superiority as the prize. Overall, February did not disappoint, covering big tech, fintech, the world of telecoms and cybersecurity – tune in next month to find out what March will bring in our latest instalment of the top news in tech.