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Six months is a long time in Cybersecurity

August 7, 2011

As we reach the halfway point of 2011 – metaphorically speaking, at least – I think it is time to play a little game.  Who can tell me what the following organizations have in common?

▪    RSA

▪    SONY

▪    The CIA

▪    The International Monetary Fund

▪    Citibank

▪    Epsilon

▪    The Pentagon

▪    News International

▪    HB Gary

▪    Lockheed Martin

▪    PBS

Following yesterday’s announcement by McAfee another 70+ organizations, including 22 governmental agencies and contractors, 13 defense contractors, 23 businesses, think-tanks and political nonprofits, can also be added to the list…

OK, it’s not a difficult question – and it definitely isn’t a game! But, if anybody had suggested at the start of the year that all of these organizations would have their networks breached, very few people would have believed it possible.  Most, if not all, of these organizations spend millions on security tools and consultancy every year.  What is, perhaps, most surprising is that some networks were breached even when it was pre-announced that an attack was planned.  So, what went wrong?

The problem is that with modern cyber attacks there is no single, easily identified signature of an attack – even if you know it’s coming, it is still not possible to spot it using traditional point monitoring technologies.  That makes taking action to stop an attack almost impossible.  Of the companies listed above, only one – Lockheed Martin – appears to have been able to counter an attack on its network effectively. Why? Because they had situational awareness!

The cybersecurity landscape has changed almost beyond recognition in the last six months – what has your organization done to protect against the new threats to your network? Do you have the ability to spot an attack in real time and take action to stop it or at least mitigate the damage it does?

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