Talk to any security specialist and they will tell you that, today, the number of different security attacks they potentially face is overwhelming. It’s the direct result of two trends. Firstly, professional hackers have become more sophisticated in their approach using automated attacks, whereby robots are used to launch very advanced persistent attacks, and secondly, the new wave of ‘off the shelf’ hacks that can be bought for as little as £20 are able to cause untold damage to a network.
Of course, Bots aren’t new, but this year alone the industry has seen an extraordinary rise in their use, posing a big question to company security experts – can we cope? And the simple answer is no. Trying to respond to bots and make complex decisions quickly enough is something the human brain is simply not equipped to deal with; nor is it capable of managing high intensity attacks for days on end.
In response, more and more companies are employing good bots to fight back in a bid to move their security experts from the front line to more strategic development roles.
Strategy is such a fundamental part of security today. No longer is it possible to react on the spot; you need to anticipate the threats and stay ahead. Plus, it needs to be done in line with the overall company strategy and in conjunction with suppliers.
Suppliers are often overlooked, but today skills need to extend beyond your organisation and ensure that your internet service provider (ISP) for example won’t be the ‘cyber domino’ that takes you down. ISPs are one of the most targeted facilities because they are an easy route to attacking hundreds of companies at a time – attack once, damage many. The development of contracts that cover this risk is common practice and should not be underestimated.
In terms of company strategy, if you are moving to an internet of things model, or have ambitious plans to expand market share, your networks, and your partners’ networks, this will inevitably need to change and be able to manage a new level of demand to ensure consistent delivery and a great customer experience.
That’s why finding the tools that will always detect and mitigate the risks is an essential part of network and application delivery today. However, it’s also a necessity to know what the risks will be; they change so rapidly and it can be an impossible task to monitor the risks when you already have other responsibilities.
It’s thought that more than 20 per cent of companies are now turning to ex-hackers for help (37 per cent say they are considering it). As risky as it may sound, many IT directors have identified that they are able to tap into sources in the ‘darker’ web and listen into conversations that are happening between individual hackers, and organised groups. They are also able to spot the malicious technology developments and even tell you the next target, well before they hit.
As I say, for security professionals that have built a reputable career, this whole approach can seem an oxymoron. Why potentially cultivate an enemy within? It’s therefore important to have the right checks and balances, and day-to-day management skills in place to ensure conduct is above board at all times. Or indeed, assess if a security partner who employs the skill is a better option.
Whatever path you choose, the future will be constantly changing, and when security attacks are a question of when not if, every company needs a plan in place. How they are shaped will be down to the organisation and the sector it operates in, but understanding how technology and skill are blended will be an essential part of a successful strategy.
Adrian Crawley is responsible for the Northern EMEA region at Radware, specialising in network and application security. He oversees the cyber security for international brands as well as medium sized enterprises in a mix of sectors including finance and insurance, retail, utility, public sector and telcos and ISPs.