Complex security architectures and innovation
by Mirko Zorz - Thursday, March 29 2012.
Ultimately advances in terms of integrating security intelligence with IT operational systems and even physical infrastructure will be made. But right now itís all about giving companies that information they need to combat cyber criminals that are not only becoming increasingly sophisticated, but also more patient in terms of the extremes they are willing to go to in order to compromise a valuable target.

Finally I would say that the concept of self-learning is already integrated in today's security analytics solutions. Machine learning and data mining techniques are the basis for advanced correlation and predictive analytics.

The increasing amount of data to be processed actually requires automated methods and tools. Actually, we want to get a step beyond "self-healing".

Self-healing implies that there was a security breach beforehand. Our research labs are working on solutions that are "secure by design" and withstand any attack.

Based on your talks with C-suite executives, what type of threat scenario keeps them awake at night?

Scan the papers any day and this new reality is crystal clear. Confidential hospital patient records wind up on the Internet. Hackers are attacking networks, and employees are losing their laptops and smartphones along with the sensitive corporate data stored on them. These are all real-world examples with real legal, financial, and brand consequences. This is the stuff that keeps CIOs and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) awake at night.

The reality is that the new digital world provides huge opportunities, but it also creates new risks. Cloud and mobile computing are cost-effective ways for employees to tap data anytime, anywhere, but they also open the door to losing control of that data. Globalisation means that corporate networks are more far-flung. Digitising services and customer care helps companies cater to customers, but it can also lead to exposing much more data.

Discussing security with IT executives, it is clear that companies are committed to increase their level of protection and attempt to reduce risk but are struggling to understand gaps in their protection and to control the complexity of the multitude of security solutions available.

The level systems are compromised is often unknown and many companies are constantly dealing with sophisticated security threats that are coming from all parts of the world and even from within their own organizations.

Major security reports routinely paint a sombre picture of the state of Internet security. Based on your experience, do you expect things to be better in the next 5-10 years?

If you look at our very latest IBM Full Year X-Force 2011 Trend and Risk Report you will note that despite the many challenges, throughout the report, we have also observed some positive trends and improvements.

The total number of reported web application vulnerabilities is lower than weíve seen since 2005 and X-Force is seeing a significant decline in the number of true exploits that have been publicly released. When exploit code is released on the Internet it can provide an easy means for attackers to target vulnerabilities. In the past few years, exploit code was released for about 15 percent of the vulnerabilities that were publicly disclosed.

This year that number has dropped to 11 percent. The frequency of exploit code releases targeting web browsers as well as document readers and editors was down to levels not seen in over four years. Publicly disclosed vulnerabilities were also more likely to have patches than ever before. The percentage of unpatched vulnerabilities was down to 36 percent from 43 percent last year.

Throughout 2011 security teams were repeatedly challenged to do better.


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