If you were at last week's RSA Conference in San Francisco, chances are good you heard someone talk about data visibility. The influx of connected devices and the rise of cloud adoption are driving concerns about information management: how can companies view and secure the data they have in environments with shrinking perimeters and larger attack surfaces?
The "legacy mode" of threat intel traditionally has been a tactical feed of malicious IP addresses feeding into the security operations center or security information and event management system with little context or relation to the business impact or risk, Flashpoint CEO Josh Lefkowitz said in an interview with Dark Reading.
Over the last two years, the shape of threat data has evolved. "We've seen a shift toward more correlation and understanding that intelligence needs to drive a decision advantage," Lefkowitz explained. This idea applies to all sectors and industries, which "are wearing the same jersey when it comes to staying ahead of the threat."
Cyber-risk and intelligence need to overlap with business decisions, he continued, and the artificial barriers between sectors are beginning to break down. It has taken a long time for information-sharing to catch on, but more businesses are now adopting a "fusion-style" approach to threat intelligence in recognition of the fact they all face the same threats.
"They're realizing intelligence really is table stakes at this point," he noted. Now, those tactical data feeds have an overlay of strategic information aligning with business requirements. These metrics, and a feedback loop, "help keep a scoreboard" and ensures everyone's needs are met.
"What people don't get about the threat landscape is it's less about the [attackers'] techniques and more about the attack surface and the number of openings that have been created," said Art Coviello, executive chairman (retired) of RSA. The key is to have enough data to spot malicious activity. "At some point, the attacker has to do something anomalous," he noted.
"The best place to stop an attack is before it starts," Coviello continued. "The idea is to have enough data that you can analyze in one of those controls that spots the signal and the noise. … At some point, the attacker has to do something anomalous."
As Data Grows, Privacy Fears Abound
"So many people look at the world through a threat lens," said Richard Ford, chief scientist at Forcepoint. "But there's a difference between watching the game and being part of the game."
The level of monitoring accessible with today's technology is great, he added, but people are becoming more aware that better analytics tools come with privacy concerns. The answer is not to choose between privacy and security but figure out how to balance the two.
"We don't have enough of a dialogue around privacy — what it means and how to protect it," he said. "We shouldn't take 'privacy or security,' it's 'privacy and security.'"
Katie Lewin, federal director of the Cloud Security Alliance, echoed this sentiment, noting that privacy is an "up-and-coming issue" in the United States, especially as the European Union prepares to launch the General Data Protection Regulation next month. While she doesn't expect the US will fully adopt GDPR, she does anticipate companies will pay closer attention to privacy as a result.
"There will be a bigger shift in the US in the way in which organizations are looking at personal data," said Cloud Security Alliance CTO Daniele Catteddu. "There is going to be a radical shift in the way compliance, privacy, and security are conceived in organizations."
Threat Intel: An Oversaturated Market
The young and growing threat intelligence space is becoming crowded with companies selling point products, promising to help collect threat data. Instead of offering another monitoring service, some vendors are beginning to add capabilities to unify data across intelligence feeds — one way they can set themselves apart in an increasingly saturated space.
Jaime Blasco, vice president and chief scientist at AlienVault, said he's seeing an "oversaturation of the market" and expects we will see unification in threat intelligence as more businesses try to solve the same problems. Some companies will work together; others will be acquired.
BluVector, which announced intelligence-focused partnerships with Endace and SS8 the week of RSA, is one company exploring these opportunities. The first partnership will combine BluVector's threat detection with Endace's analytics platform; the second will bring together network intelligence with a network security platform for detecting and responding to threats.
A company can use around 70 to 80 tools, said BluVector CEO Kris Lovejoy. To learn about the data they collect, they need to marry threat intelligence with what's happening in the network. "Now, what they're really worried about is [that] they're discovering tools are missing things or catching them, but throwing off false positives," she added.
Brian White, vice president at Forcepoint, also predicted the future will bring consolidation and it's time to think about building systems, not point products. "This is finally the year it feels like [businesses] acknowledge that reality it coming," he said.
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