Over complication: The detrimental effect of increased cyber security awareness according to Alienvault CEO Barmak Meftah
With an abundance of products, tools and services available from hundreds of vendors, the world of cyber security has quickly become more complicated than ever before.
For small and mid-market companies and those not as technically savvy, this saturation in the market can throw up myriad of issues when it comes to picking the right product (or products) for their specific organisation.
And, according to AlienVault CEO Barmak Meftah, businesses today don’t want security to be complicated. They want it to be simple, affordable and all in one place.
In the most basic terms, AlienVault’s mission is one of “simplifying threat detection and threat visibility” and ensuring businesses don’t get bogged down by having too many products.
“If you look at the world of antivirus, firewalls, web gateways, all the companies that put a wall between the hacker and the asset, that world is fairly commoditised,” Meftah told Silicon at InfoSecurity Europe 2017.
“Almost everybody has a wall and it just depends on how thick or high the wall is. Our hypothesis is that no matter how thick or high the wall is the hackers are going to breach the wall.”
AlienVault is by no means the only organisation now adopting this mindset but, despite this, clear problems in the industry still prevail. Most notably, the prevalence of damaging security incidents is continuing to increase, despite more money than ever being spent on cyber security.
Meftah’s reasoning is that the increased awareness has had actually had a detrimental effect: “The awareness factor is increasing exponentially every year, the role of the CISO is elevated, infosec and risk are now becoming part of the fabric of every company as opposed to more of an afterthought.
“But I think it’s had an inadvertent effect in that we’ve overcompensated. We’ve gone from not caring about [security] too much to companies purchasing too many tools and not really thinking about the risk profile of their company.”
What is your biggest cybersecurity concern?
- Ransomware (28%)
- Humans / Social Engineering (27%)
- State sponsored hackers (14%)
- Malware (14%)
- Other (7%)
- Out of date tools (6%)
- DDoS (4%)
He believes businesses have been blindly overspending on the latest and greatest tools available instead of looking at the threats related to them specifically and buying accordingly.
“There are just too many products and there ought to be an operating system approach. Our aspiration is to create that security operating system through one orchestration layer and then have security products plug on top of that API.
“That way you simplify security. You have one infrastructure and then as the need for security controls arise you can just plug them on top. There’s no need for it to be complicated.”
This reasoning also forms the basis of AlienVault’s focus on the mid-market, which essentially includes any organisation “below the Fortune 500.”
These businesses, which can’t afford to put together vast security teams and spend huge sums of money, are the ones who are most in need of a simple platform which brings together multiple different tools in one place.
“If you look at the top end of the market like the big financial services companies, they have all the human resources and financial resources to be able to buy a lot of products and be able to stitch them together.
“The only reason we exclude [the Fortune 500] for now is because their security teams are huge. We essentially provide a security operations centre in one form factor.
“Instead of needing the end user to do all the integration and all the orchestration, we’ve come up with this concept of Unified Security Management which brings all these components together, from instruction, detection to vulnerability scanning and asset inventory management, so there’s no reason for you to go buy each of these individual components.”
Meftah believes this section of the market has been widely ignored for a long period of time, so has pushed AlienVault towards targeting customers based on the size of their security team rather than by industry.
And, with an IPO in the works for sometime in the near future, he’ll be hoping that the simplicity mantra is one the industry responds to.
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