Over the last few years, Middle Eastern economies have increased their dependency on technology and state-of-the-art ICT solutions to deliver high-quality, efficient, and effective services. With this increased dependency comes the need for organisations and governements alike to protect these critical infrastructure.
We sat down with Mariana Pereira, a Director at Darktrace, the world leader in Enterprise Immune System technology for cyber security. She gave her take on some of the cyber security challenges prevalent in the MENA region and how machine learning/artificial intellignece could be the answer to some of those challenges.
In your opinion, what are the top 3-5 cyber security challenges prevalent in the MENA region? Why do you think organisations find it difficult to address them?
Cyber security is one of the greatest technical challenges of our day. Nation states, enterprises and individuals are today routinely outpaced both by sophisticated attackers and internal threats, who are successful not only in infiltrating fortified network borders, but also in going unnoticed inside their systems for long periods of time. At Darktrace, we are seeing three main challenges emerge in the MENA region.
Firstly, we are seeing new areas of vulnerability arise as modern companies embrace the Internet of Things. The proliferation of new connected objects multiplies the inroads to critical networks and data, yet organisations often have remarkably poor visibility of these hidden outposts of their networks.
Secondly, the threat posed by insider-related activity is expanding. These incidents are not necessarily malicious; however, the increasing digitization of everyday work processes means that legitimate network users can expose data and systems to significant vulnerabilities.
Finally, the thriving ecosystem of cyber criminals means that malware can be bought easily and cheaply on the dark web. Attackers can therefore easily outpace the efforts of human security teams to identify and block new variants of threats.
Some of these challenges could prove a hurdle to economic development across the region. How can your company support national efforts to collectively tackle cyber security?
These challenges threaten not only economic development, but critical infrastructure as well. While hundreds of potential attacks are being blocked every day, it’s critical to recognize that a significant number of advanced attacks will get through the border and into the network. This reality of pervasive threats means that it is vital that organisations are continually monitoring for abnormal activity and remediate emerging threats before they escalate. Artificial intelligence can help here, because it is constantly learning: it can detect and autonomously respond at the first subtle signs of threats within a network.
How do you ensure that you bring value to your customers on a consistent basis?
Leveraging the power of advanced machine learning and mathematics, Darktrace takes a fundamentally different approach to the challenge of defending against sophisticated cyber-attacks. This approach, known as the Enterprise Immune System, deploys cutting-edge technology modeled after one of the most powerful biological systems – the human immune system. By understanding what ‘normal’ looks like, our immune systems can distinguish ‘us’ from ‘not us’ to quickly identify potential threats. This self-learning capability gives it the means to adapt and evolve in an intelligent manner, defending against new threats and changing environments. Critically, Darktrace’s technology uses no training sets of data or prior assumptions, and the same technology is deployed in every network. The Enterprise Immune System functions across all sizes of organisations, from a small hedge fund with a handful of staff to large multinationals with numerous global locations and hundreds of thousands of devices.
How do you foresee machine learning being the future of cyber security?
In an age of limitless data and complex networks, there is simply too much happening, too quickly, for legacy information security methods to be able to deal with. The principal reason for this is that legacy security tools typically depend on pre-defining the threat, and using rules based on these prior assumptions in an attempt to stop the attack at the network boundary. However, threats are evolving too quickly for rules and signatures to be sufficient.
To catch advanced threats, it is often necessary to look across a number of slight, subtle changes in order to establish a pattern of abnormality. Humans can be very effective in performing this nuanced task, however they do not have 24/7 attention spans, and get bored. This is why we need machine learning.
Advanced machine learning is at the forefront of the fight against sophisticated cyber-threats, overcoming the limitations of rules and signature-based approaches. Firstly, it learns what is normal within a network – it doesn’t depend upon knowledge of previous attacks. Secondly, it thrives on the scale, complexity and diversity of modern businesses, where every device and person is slightly different. Thirdly, it turns the innovation of attackers against them – any unusual activity is visible. Fourthly, it constantly revisits assumptions about behavior, using probabilistic mathematics. And finally, it is always up to date and not reliant on human input.
Darktrace is a sponsor of Naseba’s Cyber Defence Summit series. With its unique combination of expertise in mathematics, software and intelligence, Darktrace has delivered the world’s first operational Enterprise Immune System. The leading-edge solution gives organisations the ability to detect emerging cyber-threats, allowing them the opportunity to proactively defend against in-progress cyber-attacks
Learn more about the DARKTRACE here.