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Banner year for cyber security [Business Times (Malaysia)]
[January 06, 2014]

Banner year for cyber security [Business Times (Malaysia)]

(Business Times (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) KUALA LUMPUR: CONTENT has traditionally been king, but with so much information and data residing on networks today, 2014 is looking a lot like it will be a banner year for the cyber-security industry.

As data protection comes to the forefront of the information technology sector, no thanks to the thousands of cyber attacks taking place daily, businesses need to further invest to defend themselves.

"In banks, telcos and government organisations, we are seeing an increase in the number and severity of cyber attacks that deploy targeted, sophisticated approaches.

"There was a major bank impacted by a targeted malware attack and suffered a network outage that left customers unable to access their bank accounts or withdraw money from ATMs. A telecom company in the region, which also had its systems compromised, had thousands of logins and passwords exfiltrated and posted on torrent sites for downloads.

"These industries each bring their own unique challenges. What's common across these organisations is that they all count the number of (cyber) attacks they face in the tens of thousands every week or month," said Sourcefire managing director of Asia-Pacific operations Ammar Hindi in an email interview.

He said cyber attackers are successful because they understand the nature of traditional security technologies and exploit gaps in the layers and security deployed by most organisations.

Hackers do not discriminate and relentlessly drive their attacks using tools that have been developed specifically to circumvent the target's chosen security infrastructure.

These cyber attacks, he said, result in damages such as significant financial losses, network outages and harm to the organisation's reputation.

To combat these attacks, he advocates that organisations across all industries look at security from a defender's perspective and map an attack to a continuum consisting of three phases - before, during and after an attack.

Ammar is well-placed to offer his observations: Cisco, the biggest maker of networking equipment, paid US$2.7 billion (RM8.9 billion) last year to purchase cyber-security giant Sourcefire. The hefty price tag is very telling of Sourcefire's reputation and strength, as well as the important work it does.

Across Asia Pacific, Ammar said, some of the most active threats include Zeus, which has primarily been designed to steal confidential information from the computers that it compromises; and cross-site scripting attacks, in which cybercriminals inject malicious script into a website, planting beachheads for future attacks.

"Given the severity of attacks and the changing nature of threats and approaches attackers are adopting, businesses must shift their mindset, start thinking like an attacker and adopt an approach that enables them to defend themselves before, during and after an attack across networks and endpoints," he said.

Ammar said a threat-centric model of security lets defenders respond at any time, all the time, gives customers broad visibility and continuous analysis of malware and attacker activities, and allows them to be far more effective even if an attacker gets in.

"Mindsets need to shift and organisational structures need to be redefined." With its range of anti-hacking and intrusion-detection products, Sourcefire offers technologies that enable visibility, automation and intelligence to help organisations break the attack chain and foil attacks before lasting damage occurs to their businesses and reputation, he added.

(c) 2014 The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad. All rights reserved. Provided by, an company

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