Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
Carlos Fernandes | February 12, 2014
U.S. companies have become a target for hackers across the world.
By Carlos Fernandes
Cyber incidents are on the rise, with nearly 100 percent of Forbes Global 2000 companies reporting breaches within the last 18 months. With the emphasis placed on new and emerging technologies, corporate America has become an attractive target for cyber criminals.
Contrary to rising domestic and international accusations and mistrust of U.S. government cyber programs, prompted by media attention to NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the NSA Surveillance Program, the U.S., by policy, does not engage in economic espionage. By contrast, most other nations do. We have all heard news reports of nation-state sponsored cyber activities, targeting U.S. public and private sector organizations, allegedly from China and Iran.
It is further alleged that Iran, in retaliation for the Stuxnet incident in 2010 responsible for setting back their nuclear ambitions, has recruited the largest army of hackers on the planet. According to Vice Admiral Mike McConnell, former NSA and DNI Director, speaking at the Bloomberg Cybersecurity Conference in October 2013, it is estimated that over 200 nations have an active Cyber Intelligence capability.
Cyber tools, used for computer network exploitation, can also be used for cyber-attacks. These capabilities are cheap and are being built by the thousands. The alarming reality is that most U.S. corporations have been penetrated and in most if not all cases malware has been installed and hidden within their networks, with data either currently being “exfiltrated,” or with an ability to do so remotely and at will.
It is estimated that over the next 10 years, if these clandestine operations against U.S. corporations continue, there will be serious consequences to our free market economy. Our market-leading, competitive advantage in research and development and world class innovations could be greatly reduced, potentially hurting our ability to compete globally.
We believe that the answer to combatting this threat is focused around the concept of precognitive capabilities, a holistic approach utilizing both artificially intelligent technologies and top industry cyber professionals, with a laser focus on predicting, preventing, and persisting against cyber incidents.
An ethical hacker was recently quoted saying, “Given enough time and resources, I have always been able to breach my target. I start with the low-hanging fruit. The sad truth is that there is so much low hanging fruit to choose from. If I can do it, there are others that can, too.”
The fact is that much of this low-hanging fruit can be eliminated with the 80-20 rule. About 80 percent of cyber breaches can be prevented with the application of industry security best practices. It’s the remaining 20 percent that causes C-level executives (especially those from Target and Neiman Marcus) to lose sleep at night.
The alarming reality is that regardless of how diligent any organizations’ IT department is at reaching compliance with security best practices, it is impossible to eliminate all vulnerabilities. I equate it to the legend of the Dutch boy plugging the hole in the dike with his finger, in an effort to hold back the Atlantic Ocean. You plug one hole only to find ten more. You simply end up running out of fingers.
So, what’s there to do and where to begin? We can no longer afford to wait for a breach to occur before we respond. We must predict and prevent—educate, train, and employ security best practices so that when the adversary strikes we are ready. The following is a simple list that, if applied, is guaranteed to reduce cyber incidents.
- Develop a security and risk assessment strategy
- Implement the strategy
- Establish a security baseline, aligned with best practices
- Identify security gaps
- Prioritize findings
- Develop and implement a mitigation strategy
- Continuously monitor network assets
But to stop there would be a mistake; we must persist. It has been said more than once that the solution is less technical and much more philosophical and political. Cyber security is not a once and done IT project. It is an ongoing effort with newly evolving threats that we must anticipate and adapt to overcome.
I encourage those of us that have been in the fight for many years to not grow weary and continue to look for ways to find common ground for reaching collaboration between public, private, and international communities, with the realization that cyber security is a journey, not a destination … it never ends.
Carlos Fernandes is Salient’s director of the Cyber Security Center of Excellence. He is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) with over 21 years of experience in information security. Prior to joining Salient, Carlos served as founder and managing pPrincipal/CEO of Agile Cybersecurity Solutions. He can be reached via email at email@example.com
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- Canadian Insurer Deploys Guidewire’s Digital Claims Portal
- UCT Adds Moroz as Sales Director
- National Lloyds Modernizes Distribution with VUE Software
- SE2 and NTT DATA Expand Partnership in Life & Annuity Market
- Sapiens to Leverage Microsoft’s Data Centers for Cloud-Based Services in South Africa
- Alaska National Implements Cincom’s Customer Communications Software
- CIG Successfully Deploys Guidewire Policy, Billing Solutions
- Patriot National Replaces Mariano with Rearer as CEO
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA is pleased to present the 2014 Webinar Series. We have many topics for you to choose from and attendance is open to all ITA members. The webinar topics are current and exciting — ranging from predictive analytics to telematics and will focus on the direction insurance carriers need to follow for the future. All webinars are presented by insurance IT professionals along with some of the leading analysts and consultants in the field. There is no cost to attend an ITA webinar. For more information and to register for the webinar, click the “title” of the webinar below.
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
The insurance industry is on the brink of major technology-driven change. IoT, mobile computing, big data, and blockchain ecosystems will bring even... READ MORE
Robert Regis Hyle
Insurance will always be about fulfilling the promise to policyholders when something happens, but in recent years there has been a subtle switch in... READ MORE
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE
The core systems replacement cycle is speeding up. Twenty years ago, even if you spent your entire career working at the same insurance company, you... READ MORE
- Partner News