Mar 10, 2021

Aera Technology: redefining agility in supply chains

cognitive automation
Data
Rhys Thomas
3 min
Aera Technology: redefining agility in supply chains
Gonzalo Benedit, Aera Technology on how cognitive automation is redefining agility in supply chains, as well as the company’s partnership with Kearne...

With 15 years of experience in various enterprise software leadership roles Gonzalo Benedit joined Aera Technology in 2020 as General Manager, EMEA. “Aera is a digital platform that enables Cognitive Automation for large enterprises, such as Fortune 500 companies. So pretty large scale organisations operating mostly within the Consumer packaged goods (CPG), pharma chemicals and discrete manufacturing industries. At Aera Technology, we help them to digitise, augment and automate decision-making at scale,” says Benedit. Whilst Aera Technology is headquartered in Mountain View, California, the company operates worldwide, with more than 450 colleagues across Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Empowering supply chain leaders with Cognitive Automation

When asked: what makes Aera Technology’s Cognitive Automation platform unique? Benedit believes “its uniqueness comes from the fact that it’s a single platform that is able to address the core dimensions that are critical to deliver Cognitive Automation at scale: data, science, process, and change.”

Breaking down the four core dimensions, Benedit adds that “when it comes to data, Aera Technology is able to build a single data model. We're able to connect with all the transactional systems of an enterprise and build a single end-to-end data model. When it comes to science we help our customers to apply and deploy deterministic logic, machine learning, and simulations. In terms of process it's about digitising the way decisions are being made in a certain company, division or country. Last but not least the fourth dimension is about change on which we not only deliver an intelligent experience that allows users to easily engage with the platform, but also generate a digital record of all the decisions that have been made and the context under which those decisions were made.”

Aera Technology’s partnership with Kearney

After recently announcing a strategic alliance with global consulting firm Kearney, Benedit explains that Aera Technology is “incredibly excited about our partnership. This means a lot to us, and I would say there are two core components to this partnership.”

  1. Transformations

“We're working on these with our customers and it's about redefining the way of working for them. This is where we believe in the stability of taking the best of both worlds. So combining Kearney's incredible experience, breadth and depth of knowledge of these industries and operational knowledge and our own Cognitive Operating System™,” says Benedit.

  1. Opportunity

“At the same time we believe there is a great opportunity, which is also the purpose of the partnership, to leverage Kearney's IP. An example of this is through sense and pivot through our own platform. It's basically delivering [Kearney’s] Sense & Pivot powered by Aera Technology. That allows us to deliver value, incredible value, at pace to many of these companies around the world,” says Benedit.

Reflecting on the company’s overall partnership with Kearney, Benedit concludes that “for us, it's an amazing opportunity working with Kearney; it gives our customers access to incredible experience built throughout almost a century so that's invaluable for us. Combine that knowledge with our ability to deliver at a very fast pace, Cognitive Skills, and a digital platform for Cognitive Automation, together we can enable self-driving enterprise. That's a pretty unique value proposition for our customers.”

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Jun 21, 2021

Google and NIST Address Supply Chain Cybersecurity

Google
NIST
SLSA4
Sonatype
Elise Leise
3 min
The SolarWinds and Codecov cyberattacks reminded companies that software security poses a critical risk. How do we mitigate it?

As high-level supply chain attacks hit the news, Google and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have both developed proposals for how to address software supply chain security. This isn’t a new field, unfortunately. Since supply chains are a critical part of business resilience, criminals have no qualms about targeting its software. That’s why identifying, assessing, and mitigating cyber supply chain risks (C-SCRM) is at the top of Google and NIST’s respective agendas. 

 

High-Profile Supply Chain Attacks 

According to Google, no comprehensive end-to-end framework exists to mitigate threats across the software supply chain. [Yet] ‘there is an urgent need for a solution in the face of the eye-opening, multi-billion-dollar attacks in recent months...some of which could have been prevented or made more difficult’. 

 

Here are several of the largest cybersecurity failures in recent months: 

 

  • SolarWinds. Alleged Russian hackers slipped malicious code into a routine software update, which they then used as a Trojan horse for a massive cyberattack. 
  • Codecov. Attackers used automation to collect credentials and raid ‘additional resources’, such as data from other software development vendors. 
  • Malicious attacks on open-source repositories. Out of 1,000 GitHub accounts, more than one in five contained at least one dependency confusion-related misconfiguration. 

 

As a result of these attacks and Biden’s recent cybersecurity mandate, NIST and Google took action. NIST held a 1,400-person workshop and published 150 papers worth of recommendations from Microsoft, Synopsys, The Linux Foundation, and other software experts; Google will work with popular source, build, and packaging platforms to help companies implement and excel at their SLSA framework

 

What Are Their Recommendations? 

Here’s a quick recap: NIST has grouped together recommendations to create federal standards; Google has developed an end-to-end framework called Supply Chain Levels for Software Artifacts (SLSA)—pronounced “Salsa”. Both address software procurement and security. 

 

Now, here’s the slightly more in-depth version: 

 

  • NIST. The organisation wants more ‘rigorous and predictable’ ways to secure critical software. They suggest that firms use vulnerability disclosure programmes (VDP) and software bills of materials (SBOM), consider simplifying their software and give at least one developer per project security training.
  • Google. The company thinks that SLSA will encompass the source-build-publish software workflow. Essentially, the four-level framework helps businesses make informed choices about the security of the software they use, with SLSA 4 representing an ideal end state. 

 

If this all sounds very abstract, consider the recent SolarWinds attack. The attacker compromised the build platform, installed an implant, and injected malicious behaviour during each build. According to Google, higher SLSA levels would have required stronger security controls for the build platform, making it more difficult for the attacker to succeed. 

 

How Do The Proposals Differ? 

As Brian Fox, the co-founder and CTO at Sonatype, sees it, NIST and Google have created proposals that complement each other. ‘The NIST [version] is focused on defining minimum requirements for software sold to the government’, he explained, while Google ‘goes [further] and proposes a specific model for scoring the supply chain. NIST is currently focused on the “what”. Google, along with other industry leaders, is grappling with the “how”’. 

 

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