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.

(Image: Interop)

(Image: Interop)

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

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Banking Malware Up 50% in First Half of 2019
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/17/2020
Active Directory Needs an Update: Here's Why
Raz Rafaeli, CEO and Co-Founder at Secret Double Octopus,  1/16/2020
New Attack Campaigns Suggest Emotet Threat Is Far From Over
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  1/16/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20399
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-23
A timing vulnerability in the Scalar::check_overflow function in Parity libsecp256k1-rs before 0.3.1 potentially allows an attacker to leak information via a side-channel attack.
CVE-2020-7915
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
An issue was discovered on Eaton 5P 850 devices. The Ubicacion SAI field allows XSS attacks by an administrator.
CVE-2019-20391
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
An invalid memory access flaw is present in libyang before v1.0-r3 in the function resolve_feature_value() when an if-feature statement is used inside a bit. Applications that use libyang to parse untrusted input yang files may crash.
CVE-2019-20392
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
An invalid memory access flaw is present in libyang before v1.0-r1 in the function resolve_feature_value() when an if-feature statement is used inside a list key node, and the feature used is not defined. Applications that use libyang to parse untrusted input yang files may crash.
CVE-2019-20393
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-22
A double-free is present in libyang before v1.0-r1 in the function yyparse() when an empty description is used. Applications that use libyang to parse untrusted input yang files may be vulnerable to this flaw, which would cause a crash or potentially code execution.