Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

5/3/2018
07:24 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

RSA CTO: 'Modernization Can Breed Malice'

Zulfikar Ramzan predicted the future of cybersecurity, drivers shaping it, and how enterprise IT should react in his InteropITX 2018 keynote.

InteropITX 2018 — Las Vegas — In a room packed with business technology executives, RSA CTO Zulfikar Ramzan discussed the reality of today's cybersecurity landscape and the threats IT organizations should have at top of mind as they adopt new tech like machine learning.

"No organization exists as an isolated entity," said Ramzan in his keynote presentation. "The ripples of chaos can spread farther and faster now, as technology connects us in remarkably astonishing ways … in cybersecurity, they're quite prevalent."

To illustrate his point, he cited several recent security incidents that expanded far beyond players' expectations. The Target breach, one of the largest in history, happened because threat actors accessed a single password for a third-party HVAC system. Makers of baby cameras became entities in a massive DDoS attack that resulted in the takedown of major websites. An attack on the DNC caused people to question the foundations of democracy, he said.

Now, board members can see their careers fall apart following a cyber incident. In a world like that, Ramzan noted, we need to think less about security trends and more about the drivers: modernization of technology, malice of threat actors, and mandates forcing organizations to tie their business value to the strength of their security posture.

"Innovation can invite exploitation. Modernization can breed malice," Ramzan said.

Consider the evolution of ransomware, a comparatively old threat that has grown with the modernization of payment technology. The advent of digital payment systems has given attackers the means to collect more money from increasingly large groups of victims. Some hackers couple their attacks with 24/7 customer support to help their victims pay up.

"When threat actors start talking about customer support, we are in a brand-new world," explained Ramzan, who calls this mindset the "hacker industrial complex." It's not only the advanced actors his audience will have to worry about either, but the average attackers who are happy to do "a simple smash-and-grab" to generate a lot of money in a short timeframe.

Ramzan turned the conversation to artificial intelligence and machine learning, two hot topics of conversation among the InteropITX enterprise audience. AI has been around for a long time, and it has been used in the context of security for a long time, he explained. It's used to combat spam, online fraud, malicious software and malware, and malicious network traffic.

"But we're just at the beginning of what AI can actually do," he continued.

What worries Ramzan about AI and machine learning is putting all data in one place for technology to analyze it. It's not the theft of data that concerns him, but the manipulation of that data. If a threat actor can access and modify an organization's data, chances are nobody will notice it. Few people understand the mathematics of how these technologies work.

"Machine learning wasn't designed to deal with threat actors," he explained. "But if you're going to think about technology becoming ubiquitous, you have to think about the risks."

But how to address the risks? Ramzan warned of the danger in adopting a "no vendor left behind" policy when shopping for security tools. The industry "is effectively a hot mess," he said. With some 2,000 vendors in the security space, there is a need to consolidate and innovate. IT pros should figure out which vendors provide the most value, and focus on them.

He closed out his keynote by explaining how to react when security incidents occur. "Plan for the chaos you can't control," he noted, pointing to the "ABCs" of incident response planning.

The first: Availability. When forming an incident response plan, you should only use resources that are already available to your organization. "An incident response plan isn't a wish list," said Ramzan. "Don't put empty fire extinguishers in every hallway."

Budget is second. Security breaches come with unexpected costs, he noted. You may need legal help, for example, and if you don't have an in-house team you'll need to hire an outside law firm. "Response plans must have budget authority," said Ramzan. Without them, "effectively, it's just a fairy tale."

The final factor is Collaboration. During an incident, most areas of an organization can inevitably get involved. Security teams will be identifying the root cause of the attack while the IT team patches infrastructure and quarantines networks. If customers were affected then the sales team will be involved; if sales is involved, then the marketing team may be involved also.

Success in cybersecurity will depend on enterprise ability to gauge the risks that lie ahead, he concluded. "Adapt quickly and adopt technology in a way that fosters and fuels innovation."

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/14/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-10287
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
The IRC5 family with UAS service enabled comes by default with credentials that can be found on publicly available manuals. ABB considers this a well documented functionality that helps customer set up however, out of our research, we found multiple production systems running these exact default cre...
CVE-2020-10288
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
IRC5 exposes an ftp server (port 21). Upon attempting to gain access you are challenged with a request of username and password, however you can input whatever you like. As long as the field isn't empty it will be accepted.
CVE-2020-15780
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
An issue was discovered in drivers/acpi/acpi_configfs.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.7. Injection of malicious ACPI tables via configfs could be used by attackers to bypass lockdown and secure boot restrictions, aka CID-75b0cea7bf30.
CVE-2019-17639
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
In Eclipse OpenJ9 prior to version 0.21 on Power platforms, calling the System.arraycopy method with a length longer than the length of the source or destination array can, in certain specially crafted code patterns, cause the current method to return prematurely with an undefined return value. This...
CVE-2019-20908
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
An issue was discovered in drivers/firmware/efi/efi.c in the Linux kernel before 5.4. Incorrect access permissions for the efivar_ssdt ACPI variable could be used by attackers to bypass lockdown or secure boot restrictions, aka CID-1957a85b0032.