​The Security Aspiration - Rik Ferguson from Trend Micro launches CLOUDSEC conference

"Today we face a different kind of threat. To take us down, it only takes one point of breach. The only question is - will it be you?"

This was how Trend Micro started their CLOUDSEC 2016 conference held, for the first time, in Sydney on 1 Sept 2016.

Trend Micro's Rik Ferguson started the opening keynote by looking at not just the rapid rate of change we see but also the longer waves that occur but are less obvious. In effect, there's a need to look at global change as well as microcosms. But what is clear is even large changes are happening faster than ever before.

Paraphrasing Rupert Murdoch, Ferguson says "big will not beat fast anymore"

Ferguson noted that the fastest passenger trains in the world can carry us about 40km in five minutes. In that time a crypto-ransomware attack could fully encrypt all your data, 1800 new threats are created and released into the wild, more than 800,000 people are exposed to malicious software and 6730 records are breached.

In that same five minutes, you can provision enough cloud infrastructure to launch a new business, communicate and collaborate with thousands of people across the world or automate a massive number of business processes.

Cybercrime is evolving and acting at those speeds.

For example, 29 new families of ransomware arrived in 2015, up from 13 the year before. So far, this year, there are 79 new families of ransomware.

Business email compromise or CEO fraud is also on the rise as well as a number of other threat vectors. That has netted criminals $2.3B over the last couple of years. And $200,000 of that came from an Australian local council duped into paying fake invoices.

Like many other experts, Ferguson noted that breaches are inevitable but he says we need to also focus on past breaches. Data stolen years ago can be exploited even today.

The recent Dropbox breach was made possible by the use of credentials stolen in the LinkedIn breach of 2012 and a user who reused a LinkedIn password.

But Ferguson says there is a way out of this, and he made the point strongly to the audience.

"It's about taking control, taking responsibility and doing things about what's in your environment. But there are so many basics you're not doing".

Some of the things he suggested was building solid perimeters around individual servers, per items around data by the use of encryption, looking for lateral movement inside the network and not just what's happening outside, and better user authentication.

Looking at the company's APAC CyberSecurity Readiness survey, Ferguson says just over a quarter of businesses are fully prepared for a cyber incident, over half still don't have a strategy in place for APTs, 59% feel that employee errors or a lack of knowledge is their most concerning insider threat, and almost half don't have an ongoing education program in place.

All of these issues, says Ferguson, can be addressed. And often at a relatively low cost.

Ferguson says many companies become distracted by compliance but he notes that compliance and security are not the same thing.

"Compliance is a minimum standard," he says. "Compliance is an obligation. Security is an aspiration".

So, what's the way forward?

Ferguson says there are some keys.

  • Have an information security program in place
  • Have employees educated, aware and engaged
  • Form an incident response team
  • Investigate and fix incidents in a timely manner
  • Notify your customers
  • Learn and improve

Ferguson says it is critical for the IT and security team to really understand what's happening in the business. This will result in a truly integrated security function and not "bolted-on security".

When it comes to people, Ferguson noted that he didn't have any technical qualifications - he studied French. But he learned on the job and developed his analysis skills. This is important - find the right people, not just "qualified" people.

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