‘Tis the season to be careful. We live in uncertain times—made even more perilous by the specter of cyber attacks on every level of business. But there’s a lot that can be done to improve things.
To dive deeper into the threats and opportunities, Xconomy convened the top names in cybersecurity from around Boston and beyond on Dec. 8. We put them in a room together with our business audience and hashed out some of the big issues in the field: the prospects for securing the Internet of Things; how to combat ransomware; the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in security tech; the security policy landscape in the coming years; and much more.
We can’t run events like this without a lot of help. Big thanks to our platinum sponsors: Invest Northern Ireland, Resilient (an IBM Company), and Veracode. Thanks as well to our gold sponsors, Cybereason, GE, and Imprivata. And to our silver sponsors, BDO, BitSight Technologies, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, and Northeastern University.
Also, a shout-out to our host and longtime partner, WGBH, for providing a spectacular venue.
And special thanks to Keith Spiro Photography for the pictures above.
Below are six takeaways and quotes from the day:
1. There’s no silver bullet for cybersecurity. CyberArk’s CEO, Udi Mokady, said there’s a mindset shift in the industry to “think like an attacker” instead of an auditor. And also a shift toward partnerships between security companies.
2. Ransomware is mostly an economic innovation, not a technological one. By cutting out middlemen, Veracode co-founder Chris Wysopal said, attackers don’t have to be sophisticated and can look for easy targets. Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali called it “the Uberization of the bad guy” and warned, “I don’t think it’s that far off that they’ll get into your Tesla and lock it up, and you have to pay $1,000 to unlock your car.”
3. You can combat ransomware with simple steps. Back up your data. Beware of phishing-style e-mails and educate employees about that. Compartmentalize systems and employees so if attackers gain access to one part of the business, they don’t get everything. And learn how to use bitcoin, Ali said, just in case you need to pay a ransom in a hurry.
4. Secure your wireless networks and all your devices. Pwnie Express CEO Paul Paget pointed to HP printers, Samsung TVs, cheap tablets, and Internet-connected toys as everyday threats (and conduits to other attacks). LogMeIn CTO Sandor Palfy added that device manufacturers “need to factor in security pretty much from the beginning.”
5. “World War III will be a cyber war.” That was from Chris Lynch, a managing partner at venture firm Accomplice, stirring the pot as always. He added that cyberwarfare represents “the biggest threat to our way of life”—bigger than climate change or any other problems.
6. The future of security tech looks cognitive, analytical, and orchestrated. Carbon Black CEO Patrick Morley and Resilient CEO John Bruce (now part of IBM) both alluded to machine learning as an important part of the solution. Morley emphasized the need to collect better data and context around device and server security, while Bruce and others talked about managing and coordinating the response to incidents and breaches. There’s a long way to go in both cases.
Xconomy’s Jeff Engel contributed to this report.