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5/25/2012
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Fatalism, Realism -- Or The New Normal

The 'new' reality that you can't stop a determined attacker and you've likely already been hacked has become an accepted mantra

There's no way to pinpoint the exact moment security reached the tipping point of accepting that you've already been breached whether you know it or not, but it has been coming for a long time. Talk to most security experts, and they'll say this mindset is nothing new. But it wasn't until recently that it became acceptable to publicly acknowledge it.

Call it security's new reality, its new reality check, the acceptance phase of the inevitable state of hacking, or pure fatalism, but saying out loud that we can no longer keep the bad guys out of our networks, and they are already inside, has become the new normal. Many traditional security vendors, after years of marketing products that promised to stop the bad guys from infiltrating, are now acknowledging that the bad guys are more determined now and ultimately more successful at getting inside.

Read the other articles in this series on security's new reality:

>> Part 1: Security's New Reality: Assume The Worst
>> Part 2: Damage Mitigation As The New Defense
>> Part 3: Advanced Attacks Call For New Defenses

It was painfully obvious at the RSA Conference this year that the industry was accepting that the bad guys were winning big-time. A couple of start-ups there were all about gathering intelligence from the attackers who were already inside: CounterTack showed off a newly commercialized appliance that sits inside the network and observes the attacker's moves, gathers intelligence, and uses that to contain the damage. And CrowdStrike (which is still holding details of its business close to the vest) says it's focused on the attackers behind targeted attacks. George Kurtz, co-founder, president, and CEO of the company, says the goal is to make it more costly for the human being sitting behind the exfiltration stage of a hack.

Defensive posture is still relevant, of course, but defense alone is no longer the answer. The focus now is on minimizing the damage. This new normal requires organizations to beef up their detection and intelligence-gathering, but of course not all will have the resources and budget to do that.

Experts say it's time for a new generation of defenses built to detect, study, and apply that intelligence to existing defenses in order to contain the damage. We're already seeing vendor announcements featuring threat intelligence over the past few months, and a growing awareness of it, so the tide is turning.

The new focus isn't to stop the bad guys from getting in, but to stop them from actually stealing or damaging your data. Fatalism, realism, or the new normal -- it's where the security conversation has progressed, and there's no turning back.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is senior editor at Dark Reading

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Senior Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise Magazine, ... View Full Bio

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