March 30, 2021

Learning the dance moves from the data.

Cast your mind back to 2010 and consider what you heard about cyber security. Not a whole lot was being said about the topic down here in sunny SA. Security was quietly misunderstood. That was 10 years ago. Fast forward to present day, and it’s now loudly misunderstood.

There are so many views and perspectives and opinions. Too much marketing jargon from brands pushing agendas that don’t necessarily reflect the current climate, but rather, try to influence it and justify their approaches for commercial gain. You need to really widen your lens and read as much variety as possible to remove any bias. And it’s flippin’ tough.

As my wife always tells me, ”Don’t knee-jerk, Jared. Look at the data then decide”. And she’s generally always right so…

I decided to do one positive thing during this period of ‘kakness’. I’ve spent the past four months or so researching many aspects of cyber security. From frameworks to tech, to user behavior analyses, to consulting firm trend reports. I’ve done a lot of reading in-between home-schooling and at-home-wine-tasting. And I’ve chatted to nearly all my peers, clients and users who could spare me their thoughts or even an insight.

Here are some of the data points I found interesting in all this research. I hope you’ll find them interesting and useful.

The data
So, here are the common themes with associated data points which I picked up from all the research I did over the past few months (Source list is at the end for your convenience):

That feeling of control:

The data points:
• Cyber companies spend 13% of their time & effort on cyber monitoring
• 43% of companies say that visibility into infrastructure security is their biggest headache
• 93% of companies have reported the presence of shadow IT in their environment
• User feedback: “Monitoring systems must be accurate and immediate. There’s no room for misinformation or confusion. Granular context is extremely valuable to anyone managing a network and its security.”

The data above suggests that the big vendors out there don’t seem too concerned with giving their users visibility into the workings of their security, despite the headaches pointed out. The lack of internal control enforcement and perhaps, disjointed integration of disparate systems, frustrates users so much that they would rather do it themselves, further imbedding internal risk. Without proper controls in place, you’re in trouble.

The move to the cloud:

Perhaps it’s [distrust] linked to a lack of understanding on our part, which stems from murky visibility into the service, and ultimately, the absence of control.

The data points:
• 70% of companies use more business critical cloud services YoY
• 72% of respondents could not cite a security breach on a public platform over the past 12 months
• 47% of respondents perceive private and public cloud to be less secure than on-prem

Despite the data above, users seem to be pushing more ‘stuff’ to the cloud, almost in defiance of their distrust in ‘cloud security’. Why is it that even though almost none of us can remember the last major public or private cloud breach, we still perceive the cloud as being less secure than on-prem? Why is it that we can’t seem to trust these providers with bottomless budgets and resources? Perhaps it’s linked to a lack of understanding on our part, which stems from murky visibility into the service, and ultimately, the absence of control.

The rise of the data asset:

You can’t manage what you don’t see.

The data points:
• The top cloud security concern of all cybersecurity professionals is data loss and leakage
• 38% of respondents were concerned about data privacy when stored in the cloud
• 43% of all data breaches occur within the organisation – that’s 45 data records leaked daily!
• User feedback: “Data is the number one corporate asset that needs to be protected. Being able to track audit and compliance progress is very helpful when managing data risk.”

We are rightfully obsessed with data protection. When a third of all users are concerned over cloud privacy, but nearly half of all data breaches occur from inside the company, one has to relook priorities and sharpen focus. There seems to be a mismatch between our perceptions of the value of data, and our actions to safeguard that asset. Data needs to be visualized within its context so that you can understand its impact and the associated risk to your business. You can’t manage what you don’t see.

The drawstring

The common themes of; control, cloud and data seem to all have an underlying supporting pillar: visibility. Being able to understand context and therefore impact, gives you that sense of control. Seeing how a cloud security service is performing for your business restores trust in the stability and integrity of that service and in the provider.

As the old saying goes, “The truth shall set you free”. Unbiased, raw data is truth, or at least, some version of it. But you need to be able to interpret that data for you.

There are over 300 000 new malware variants released every day.

With over 120 million new malware variants every year, in my opinion, it’s near impossible to defend against everything. Your best bet is to be prepared for the eventuality of breach regardless of your security strategy. You need to recover quickly.

How you be prepared is by having contextual visibility into your security service performance. Run scenarios. Understand business impact. How you recover is by employing specialist providers and holding them accountable.

Lastly, the ultimate custodian of user data is the user. It is our behavior that places the integrity of our data at risk. If 70% of global cyber-attacks are financially motivated and use simple methods such as phishing in order to get hold of valuable user data… then train your people.

#hackproof your business.

Source list: