A panel session held for out the Trend Micro CLOUDSEC event, held in Syndney on 1 September 2016, brought together Trend Micro's VP for Security Research, Rik Ferguson, Timothy Wallach from the FBI and Forrester Research's Michael Barnes.
Their discussion started by looking at the audience responses to a survey.
The first question they looked at was "Do you think the government's cyber security strategy go far enough for Australian organisations?".
The audience responses to this question were: 8% said "Yes", 72% responded "No" with 18% taking the "I don't know" option.
The session moderator, Stephen Parker, the Director and Senior Industry Evangelist for 1 Vision OT, put it to the panel that recent issues, such as the standoff between the FBI and Apple over access to data on the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone might have been overcome if Apple provided law enforcement with a secure backdoor to devices.
Ferguson left the audience in no doubt on his views.
"There's no such thing as a safe backdoor. The people who you are protecting are your customers who trust you to put in effective trustworthy security from anybody else trying to access that system or data. If you're building a backdoor, you're already explicitly giving access to somebody else. That's a problem".
He also noted that there was no guarantee that the authorised entity would be the only one using that backdoor.
"There's no such good thing as a safe backdoor".
Parker put the second audience question, "does your organisations educate staff on mitigating cyberattacks and ransomware" to Barnes.
The audience's responses were 9% had no training, 45% offered very little, 40% said staff had a good understanding and education while 4% took the "Don't know" option.
Barnes says "If organisations are not educating their employees and are not educating the business there's a limit".
Ferguson noted that businesses have a duty of care to customers and staff to ensure they understand their security obligations and they have the skills to fulfil those obligations.
"Too much access is given too easily to too many people," he says.
Wallach says that the traditional approach of security as a "bolt on" that is largely operational by business leaders is changing. With the importance of privacy to customers, it's become a question of "can they survive if they lose the trust of their customers". He called this a "existential crisis".
As a result, security is becoming more "sexy" with increased finding for education and other security initiatives.
Wallach says there has been a shift in the awareness, particularly over the last two years.
"It's no longer an IT problem to an enterprise risk problem," he says.
Ferguson noted that sandboxing has been an effective tool with preventing malware from entering networks but we need to go further.
"We should be sandboxing people," he says. "You should be able to get your employees, drop them into a safe environment and expose them to threats and see what happens without risking your business. You need to build a training initiative that is a human sandbox."
Importantly, this needs to be ongoing and results need to me measured. This is an approach, Ferguson says, is done within Trend Micro.
One of the positive measures, says Ferguson, is that more issues are reported as a result of the increased awareness.
"The training should be fun and interesting, not punitive," adds Wallach. "People should be rewarded for reporting".
The final question the panel looked at was "Has your organisation suffered a data breach or ransomware attack in the last 12 months?".
Conference attendees responded with 36% saying "yes", 40% answering "no" and 12% taking the "don't know" option.
Parker wondered if the 40% who answered negatively were a "statistical self-deluding anomaly" given research suggesting most breaches took about 200 days to detect on average.
Barnes thought perhaps a more apt question would be to ask how confident are companies that they haven't suffered an attack.
Ferguson asked the audience "How do you know? Where do you get that information from?".
He likened this to a physical theft. When someone breaks into your home and steals your jewellery, the valuables are gone. But for a company, they can steal the data or intellectual protect and it's still there, leaving you unaware.
He thought the "I don't know" category was strongly under-represented.