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Exclusive interview: More of the same not the answer to data protection

By Kai Ping Lew
Mon 7 May 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Cybersecurity is in the midst of a paradigm shift.

Implementing more point solutions as the answer to the need for better security is no longer feasible, nor is it effective for long.

Techday spoke to Forcepoint cloud and network security solution vice president Antti Reijonen about the changing face of cybersecurity, how companies can secure data in the cloud, and the importance of resilience.

Australia and New Zealand have some of the highest cloud adoption rates in the world - how do you see that reflected in the cybersecurity trends and threats occurring there?

It means Australia and New Zealand are at the forefront of the need to adopt [cybersecurity] to that type of environment, and that brings the challenges of how in the past, you had the trusted inside and untrustworthy outside.

That doesn't apply anymore when your documents and your business is running in the cloud.

You need to then extend the security to the cloud and can't rely on the perimeter defences anymore.

Is it difficult to educate customers, clients and partners about the need to shift away from the perimeter defence model?

What happens often is that security is a little bit behind in the process, so there's a business reason first why one adopts a cloud application

For example, you get access to better business tools, so someone made the business decision that Salesforce would be a great CRM tool, and that person may not be considering at that decision time that compared to an on-premise application, what does it mean in terms of security?

So it still happens that security is an afterthought. 

Then also, it might impact the network infrastructure - "Hey, we decided to take this cloud application into use, now you guys figure out what are the consequences to our network." 

What we encourage is to look at all of this at the same time and from all the angles.

This is important for security, but also for the user experience. 

Whose responsibility is it, in your opinion, to protect information when data is stored in multiple cloud environments?

Ultimately, the responsibility is with the customer who owns the data - meaning the company who is the customer of the cloud service providers.

The assessment they make at the point is, are their own capabilities at the level of the cloud service provider's capabilities?

Many companies cannot invest as much as AWS and Microsoft are investing in security.

What we do in that respect is that we do allow companies to extend their own security into AWS and Azure.

It's then a layer on top of the security that they provide.

For example, you can put our firewall into AWS and have all the traffic going through that firewall.

Should organisations prioritise protection of data or resilience?

You need to have both protection and resilience, and resilience is actually very important.

A data breach is one type of outcome, and it's one you would really like to avoid.

So what caused the data breach, there was a compromise of some sort?

Maybe a compromise of credentials?

Maybe there was a compromised machine, but regardless, that is when you need the resilience.

How do you make sure that particular compromise is now eliminated across the board?

So yes, you cannot undo the damage of the data breach, but you don't trust your own systems before you know you have actually cleaned up what caused it and you have systematically made sure that the compromise is contained.

In other types of situations where you have a network vulnerability or exploit inside your network that can yield, you may detect it somewhere but the time of having actually the systems back operational.

Every hour costs an organisation a lot of money. 

What's the biggest trend you see industries and companies moving forward in cloud security?

Today, organisations need to control access to data that is no longer in the infrastructure. 

So you cannot use your own infrastructure as the enforcement mechanism of data access.

When you turn applications into the cloud, it's not your infrastructure.

One thing that was mentioned was that the feeling among the customers is that things are not getting better by doing more of the same.

More of the same won't improve cybersecurity, and asking our customers to spend more money won't help it.

Asking customers to put more people in it - people who aren’t available – is not the solution either.

Asking the companies just to tighten the policies is not the solution either, because you couldn't do your job if you suddenly had all the cloud applications taken away from you.

So you cannot constrain the problem away, so wherever you look, you really need to find a way that is allowing people to use all varieties of tools and allows cloud applications to be used and the variety of activity is so big that you cannot model it. 

All the approaches I offered first, they all essentially had the target of getting rid of the grey area - forbidding everything that's unclear - only allow the good and for a bit, the bad.

That would require you to exactly know it. You need to know all the activity. Your bosses would need to know everything you need to do your work - and they don't.

So the grey area just doesn't vanish.

The whole thing of Forcepoint’s human-centric approach is to make the grey area manageable.

That's the whole idea of the risk-adaptive human point system. 

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