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Cyberattacks on global democracy among regional fears, says IBM: Malaysia security interview

AvantiKumar | March 1, 2017
'There is no doubt that security is now a board level issue and organisations are realising that security is not just about risk management,' says IBM Security's Jean-Claude Broido.

Image (GraphicStock) Cyberattacks

Image (GraphicStock) - Cyberattacks


  When Computerworld Malaysia reached out to IBM Security's Asia Pacific vice president Jean-Claude Broido to run through his security fears, he listed the use of cyber attacks to try and undermine global democracy and dent public infrastructure as one of his concerns.

To complement our special security insights roundup and general industry predictions special (What's really in store for Malaysia's IT industry in 2017?), which takes in some of the themes included in this year's Computerworld's Security Summit in Kuala Lumpur (April 2017) as well as a recent interview with CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Dato' Dri Amirudin Abdul Wahab, I asked Jean-Claude to also share his regional enterprise insights in one of our 'rapidfire' QA interviews.

JCB - IBM Security

Photo - Jean-Claude Broido, Vice President Asia Pacific, IBM Security
Let's run through what your security fears are for industry this year and also your thoughts on 'emerging tech' trends?

[JCB] If anything, my fears are obviously related to the ever increasing number of security attacks and breaches which organisations could experience.

All organisations are at risk but personally I am concerned about the rise of attacks on public infrastructure and the use of cyber attacks to undermine global democracy and political institutions.
In terms of trends I think there are four that will shape the industry and the outcomes for organisations this year.
The first is IOT (internet of things). The proliferation of IOT devices is creating additional risk but it is the type of attack that is concerning. A recent DDOS attack in the USA was orchestrated through individual IOT devices in homes. I think organisations and governments need to prepare for an acceleration of this type of indirect attack.
The second is artificial intelligence/machine learning. I think this is the year that we'll see machine learning make its mark on security. IBM calls this capability "cognitive" and recently announced the availability of Watson for Cyber Security. Machine learning is the only way organisations will be able to make contextual sense of the deluge of security information out there and be able to act with speed and accuracy based on the learned body of knowledge. It will also be one of the best ways to solve the talent and skills crisis facing the industry.
The third trend will be driven by organisations and their demand for solutions not point products. Some organisations have upwards of 80 products from more than 40 different vendors which makes security management a complicated task. I think we will see services companies dominate the market to meet the demand of organisations.
The fourth trend is around the involvement of governments. Governments will become increasingly more engaged in security initiatives and regulations as they continue to protect against attacks and consider the wider implication to citizens, infrastructure and economies from attacks on the private sector.
 Following on, what challenges are foremost in your mind and what steps are you taking to overcome these?
Unfortunately, the question for our customers is not whether they are going to be attacked and breached but when.

  Protection is important but it's not enough. The real challenge lies in clients understanding the need for ongoing monitoring and analysis so they know what is going on in their network and its perimeter which allows them to detect an attack quickly and take proper action before it becomes too late.
The other challenge is getting organisations to invest in preparedness and response. The reality today is that poor response to a breach may cause more damage than the attack itself. Data from the Ponemon Study shows that the average cost of a data breach is US$4 million - up 29 percent over the past 3 years.
To adequately prepare for - and respond to - cyberattacks, companies need to assemble security teams that bring to bear a strategic mix of technical and legal skills, regulatory understanding, as well as a comprehensive crisis communications plan of action. As an example, IBM invested some US$200 million last year in our capability in this area and it began with the acquisition of Resilient Systems, the pioneer in incident response software. Now we have created a new elite Incident Response and Intelligence Services team called IBM X-Force IRIS and upgraded our global network of X-Force Command Centres.
How do you see the current status of the cybersecurity war and are the "good guys" becoming better organised?
We have numerous examples that the "bad guys" are sharing more information, for example on the "Dark Web", than the "good guys" are. Our analysis shows that not only are the attacks sophisticated but are also very well planned.
There is no question that the good guys must increase their cooperation and learn to share intelligence. Initiatives have been started by academia, vendors and governments.
IBM was one of the first to move the industry forward on threat intelligence sharing with the launch of IBM's X-Force Exchange in April 2015. This threat intelligence platform provides open access to historical and real-time data feeds of threat intelligence, including reports of live attacks from IBM's global threat monitoring network, enabling enterprises to defend against cybercrime.
To end: Security adoption has been touted as a strategic business driver/enabler? What's your take on this?
I absolutely agree that security is becoming a strategic business enabler. There is no doubt that security is now a board level issue and organisations are realising that security is not just about risk management. This is of course very important but many organisations see it as a business enabler that can provide differentiation from their competitors.
Organisations who have embraced the opportunities of digital are well aware that security can derail their initiatives making data protection and risk reduction critical but they also know it can give them a real competitive differentiator and entice a customer to their product or service.

This article was first published on Computerworld Malaysia on 1 March 2017.


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