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Beyond antivirus and firewalls

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RITIKA SHARMA / EMIRATES BUSINESS

Internet in last few years has changed our world, way beyond any set notions. Things that once seemedimpossible are now not just possible; they are rather ‘common’ and usual. But just like every human discovery, the internet and its high penetration into our day to day lives, has invited some inevitable problems.
Talking specifically about data, which is usually confidential and very important part of any company’s database, is today exposed to threats of attacks and hacks more than it ever was. Therefore, the biggest concern of firms with big-data is security of the same.
Today with use of internet, smart devices and cloud services, traditional safekeeping methods such as antivirus and firewalls is no longer a viable solution. As technology is getting more and more advanced and more mobile, a regular IT department cannot manage the company IT infrastructure by itself.
RardarServices, an Austria-based managed security service company with its operations in UAE has closely studied cases like the recent Etihad airways and the famous Sharjah Bank case which caused data and security breech leading to financial losses.
We speak to Aji Joseph, the Dubai based general manager of the company on why it is high-time we should look beyond the conventional means of security services in the field of IT and computing.

Please share with us a brief about your company and its operations in UAE.
RadarServices is the market leader for pro-active IT security monitoring and IT risk detection as managed services with 100 percent European roots and technology. The services uniquely combine automated detection of security relevant issues and risks with the analysis and assessment done by experts. Data never leaves the client’s premises as part of our service and there is no requirement for additional capital expenditures or headcount from the client side.
We have seen good demand for our services in the Middle East region and in 2013 RadarServices Middle East was setup based out of Dubai. We operate with a broad sales partner network in all the Middle East countries.

Security is and always has been, a big concern. How exactly do you think advancements in technology call for a different approach towards data and information?
Cybersecurity landscape is evolving rapidly as cyberattacks are increasing in number and sophistication from a wider range of sources. It is becoming complex day by day as cyber criminals are trying different ways to breach corporate networks to steal sensitive information.
Organisations find it difficult to keep pace with cyber criminals as security products like antivirus, firewalls and intrusion detection/ prevention systems are breached on a regular basis. Cyber criminals target company’s customer base and steal personal details or credit card information to use in fraud. Malware writers use advanced techniques to evade detection using standard security products. As Trojans, botnets, and malware in general are modified on a regular basis by their authors, they evade detection on the first few days/weeks of appearance by normal security solutions like antivirus, firewalls etc.
Organisations need to look at an effective mechanism that monitors and provides real-time analytics of the IT infrastructure for a more scalable security approach. As cyber-threat has grown up with a vengeance – effective protection can only be achieved if results of security monitoring tools are constantly analysed by experts so that they are properly configured and adapted to any changes in the environment.

How frequently do you come across cases of losses due to technical breaches? Can you share a few of such incidents that you have personally handed?
We come across cases of financial losses due to technical breaches on a regular basis. The most common ones are man-in-the-middle attack and Ransomware (CryptoLocker or Locky) attacks. Companies across different verticals and sizes in the region are victims of such attacks.
A common route taken by cyber-criminals is tricking organisations into transferring funds to accounts controlled by them. Cyber criminals find ways to get access to the email system without the users knowing about it. They mainly target people handling sensitive information such as finance and sales teams. Once the attacker gets access to the email system all mails communicated between the user and clients are read by the attacker. Users are generally unaware of this until their customers receive mails on their behalf and end up transferring money to some third party accounts as instructed in the mail. Many organizations in the region have lost money as they were tricked into believing that the emails were genuine mails from end-users.
Another prevalent form of attack targeting the region is Ransomware or Cryptolocker or Locky. This starts with the attacker getting access to one of the machines in the corporate network and then encrypting data on machines, servers and network drives. Once the data is encrypted the attacker asks for money to be paid to ultimately provide the unlock key.
Companies are forced to transfer money if they do have a mechanism to recover data. Security experts discourage transferring money to attackers as there is no guarantee that the attacker will send the right key to unlock the data. However daily operations of attacked companies are interrupted heavily so that they are forced to pay to get back to business.

If we go beyond conventional ways of protecting our data, there will be major changes in the IT departments of organisations?

Companies need to focus on IT security irrespective of their size to stay competitive. The role of security manager is handled by IT Managers in majority of organisations in the SMB segment.
Also organisations find it difficult to recruit and retain the right technical resources locally. However, security as a managed service helps to stay secure with proper guidance from experts and technology. It helps organisations to focus on their core business than worrying about cyber security.
More and more corporations as well as public institutions are going for managed security services as it is not only cost effective but also more efficient compared to having a dedicated internal IT Security Team which needs to be expanded and trained very well over time as attacks get more and more complex day by day.
New technology like IOT and cloud are helpful and convenient in many ways. How can they be harmful too?
More organisations are embracing technologies like Cloud Computing and IOT in Middle East. It helps them to increase efficiency. However, it is also one of the biggest challenges to with people having access to a lot of sensitive information on their laptops and smartphones and attackers trying various ways to breach corporate networks and steal sensitive information on a regular basis.
People find it difficult to keep pace with cyber criminals as security products are breached on a regular basis thus resulting in major demand for managed security services from experts.

How do you look at the managed security services industry worldwide? What percentage is shared by UAE?
Managed security services are experiencing positive growth worldwide. Security as a managed service helps organizations to stay secure with proper guidance from experts and technology. It helps organizations to focus on their core business than worrying about cyber security.
Managed services are more effective than just relaying on security products as security experts are analysing the customer network on a regular basis with the help of relevant tools. Companies are going for managed security services as it is more effective and economical compared to having a dedicated IT security team in-house. We find high demand for managed security services here.

Innovation is an important element of technology, how important do you think it is in terms of security services as well?
Innovation is the key to stay competitive in the technology industry and the same is true for security services. Security service providers need to keep improving their technology to have better analytical and detection capabilities.
Cyber criminals find ways to breach security solutions and access relevant data. Once they get into the network they act as secretive as possible to avoid detection. Security services need to focus on innovative technology to identify these attacks in the early stages.

What according to you will be the most important trends of your industry in 2016?
There will be more vendor consolidation in IT security space with an increase in number of vendors covering cloud security and big data security analytics focusing on new detection technology. We expect an increase in Ransomware, Cryptolockers and targeted attacks with improved techniques and frequency by cyber criminals. More people will opt for managed security services with cybersecurity becoming more complex day by day.

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Aji Joseph, General Manager, RadarServices Middle East copy

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