Cyber Week Israel 2017: United We Stand, Divided We Fall

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Below, Dave Polton, Director of Innovation at NTT Security, writes about the recent Cyber Week conference in Israel between June 25th and 29th.

Cyber Week Israel 2017 concluded with the main theme touting that 2017 is the year of the state sponsored attack. But what does this mean for the future of cybersecurity? This seemed to be split into three main themes that most, if not all, of the presenters touched upon:

United Cybersecurity – a premise that the only way we, as cyber defenders, are ever going to stand a chance at protecting our assets, is to join forces against our adversaries. The idea is that partnerships needs to be drawn not just within each industry vertical but across the entire industry with both public and private organisations.

Whilst this is not a new idea, the cyber week presenters challenged the industry to build solutions to overcome the objections many have to these partnerships. Just what we will see in this area is yet to be seen, but perhaps we will see some innovation in this space in the not too distant future.

A particular focus was given to the unification of government and industry where critical infrastructure was concerned which led to the second main theme.

IoT / OT / ICS – depending on where you get your statistics, the projected number of connected devices is expected to roughly be 50 billion. However, as we try to understand just how huge the problem may be, my main frustration is how the industry seems to keep interchanging the acronyms IoT, ICS and OT as though they all mean the same thing. I will try to simplify my view. An IoT is something that’s primary function does not require an internet connection.  An OT requires a network connection in order to deliver its primary function. Arguably there are some grey areas but loosely this definition works.

Whilst we are starting to see some new innovative technologies to help protect OT, the messaging from an IoT perspective, is that IoT requires security by design, not an aftermarket technology solution. Just how much an organisation will invest in security by design will of course depend on the potential impact of a compromise. For example, one would hope that in the case of the autonomous cars the investment be high.

Cognitive Computing – a number of presenters referenced machine based learning, artificial intelligence, orchestration, automation and expert systems. I have grouped them under the term ‘cognitive computing’. Irrespective of the term that was used, the message was clear. In order to bridge the skills gap within the cybersecurity industry we need to leverage cognitive computing. I have blogged about this previously here.

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