Is the cyber security industry nothing more than a deceitful scam? Or are the professionals failing to target threats due to tech’s lack of emotional understanding?
“The cyber security industry can be romanticised as a crime-fighting cabal of protectors facing off against hackers to keep the Internet safe. In this version of the story, there are good guys and bad guys, and the good guys do everything they can to keep their adversaries at bay.
“Unfortunately, this is just a story. The reality is that cyber security is a corrupt industry that needs bad guys to stay lucrative. Major security technology vendors are running a billion pound con by selling software that they know won’t work. This scam makes them arguably more corrupt than the hackers themselves.
“First, let’s establish that the security industry is, in fact, broken. The global cyber security market is set to be worth around £50 billion in 2015 and experts estimate it will more than double to £100 billion by 2019. Companies are spending billions and billions of pounds on cyber security technology to protect themselves against security incidents, which are rising rapidly.
“The connection between more cyber crime and more spending is clear. What is not clear is that more spending on security technology has actually done anything to curb the crime. Most of the security products out there use 20th century technology against 21st century foes, and they are obviously failing.
“Tools from mainstream vendors are primarily based on an outdated antivirus approach that relies on having prior knowledge of an attack. Threats are detected by comparing a program’s software to known malware in a virus dictionary. If a piece of code matches an entry in the dictionary, this raises the red flag.
“Most of the security products available on the market are just a half-step better than old antivirus products. This method fails today because it only works if an attack has been seen before. Modern cyber criminals are more sophisticated than that. We are no longer looking at kids in their room coming up with annoying hacks.
“These approaches to security do not really protect anyone because what happened a day ago is not necessarily relevant to what is happening today. So beware of threat intelligence clouds, sandboxing, containerisation, and white listing. They are all based on stale information and don’t work.
“The companies that make these products sell them for millions of pounds, knowing that they won’t work. Then when they fail, the vendors ask for millions more to tell their clients why they failed. It is a racket. Without the “robbers,” the “cops” have no business; the more breaches occur, the more money companies make.
“In order to be effective, security software can’t rely on prior knowledge. It has to somehow figure out what is happening without looking at a list, because that list is inevitably going to be stale and incomplete. A better approach is to use Big Data and machine learning, which make it possible to identify patterns and predict discrepancies in real-time based on actual circumstances, not old or useless information.
“Major cyber security vendors are not taking this approach because it is in their best interest to keep the breaches happening. For this, they are just as culpable as the hackers themselves. In addition to developing new, better approaches for preventing attacks, startups also have an opportunity to realign the goals of the security industry to put customers’ best interest at the core.”
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