RSA 2013: No need to wait for information sharing when Big Data-driven security is here now

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Intelligence-driven security, which makes use of Big Data analytics, will play an integral role in protecting corporations and governments from future waves of hacktivist and nation-state threats, a keynote speaker assured RSA Conference audience members.

Art Coviello, executive chairman of RSA, a division of EMC, said during an address that unofficially kicked off the conference that while the government must make a concerted effort to help thwart advanced attacks through threat information sharing, security practitioners can't wait for this to move forward.

“What are our governments going to do about it – and what are we going to do to better defend ourselves?” Coviello asked the crowd. “As to defending ourselves, there are additional challenges we are all collectively facing, [such as] a very disturbing escalation from our adversaries that we need to have a thorough understanding of.”

The “escalation” Coviello was referring to is hackers moving from simple breaches or small-scale financial fraud to persistent attacks, like surveillance of government agencies or denial-of-service-attacks against the financial industry, launched by skilled and well-funded hackers.

In his keynote, Coviello said the use of Big Data analytics – technology capable of analyzing massive amounts of information and providing real-time detection for remediation – would give the security industry a needed edge to stop increasingly sophisticated attacks.

Coviello advocated the establishment of security systems that are “antifragile” – a term used in author Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book, “Antifragile: Things that Gain Order from Disorder.” According to Coviello, an antifragile system can endure attacks by using the incidents to inform future detection and response measures.

To do this, Coviello advised that security practitioners begin to transition to intelligence-driven security that studies threats on a comprehensive level. He also said that professionals should migrate to Big Data security controls, and make data science skills a priority in workforce education.

Companies will also need to leverage threat intelligence from external sources to see a bigger picture of how sophisticated attacks are occurring, he said.

The theme of Coviello's talk shouldn't have come as a surprise, however. RSA is producing many of its technologies, such as its Authentication Manager, with Big Data analytics in mind to provide users greater visibility into identity risk.

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