E-book review: Staying Ahead in the Cyber Security Game

28 August 2014

Some weeks ago I attended the webinar ‘Staying Ahead in the Cyber Security Game: What matters Now’ sponsored by IBM and Sogeti.
The webinar is a good introduction to the free e-book with the same title. And the e-book is absolutely worth reading.

Chapter 10 is entitled ‘The data scientist will be your next security superhero’. Wow! Superhero reminds me always of the Queen song ‘Flash Gordon’:

Flash a-ah
Savior of the universe

In verse ‘Seemingly there is no reason for these extraordinary intergalactical upsets’ the work of a big data Analyst is well described. My favourite verse is at the end of the song:

Flash Flash I love you
But we only have fourteen hours to save the Earth

I love this song, I would really love to be a superhero … ;-). Back to the e-book!

‘We may have effective detection tools to reduce the impact of the attacks. But the real revolution will be with big data: We will be able to more finely analyze what is normal and what is not normal.’

This statement gives me pause. How long does it take to find a hint where seemingly is none? Do we really have fourteen hours in the case of an unknown attack to save the company? Would big data analytics have prevented the eBay or Code Spaces disaster? Should we rely on the good brains of a big data analyst only?

My answer is: Don’t just rely on a single technology! And don’t believe that everything is as easy as it sounds.

Big data technology can support us in boosting IT security but, of course, it will take some time before clear indications to data breaches could be generated.

First, you have to set up data sources like firewall or Windows event logs. In parallel, your analysts and your system must start learning what is normal to recognize what is abnormal, because abnormal events are a strong indicator of an advanced threat or breach. And finally you should make an incident response plan to do the right things when your systems detects an incident.

Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?

By the way: The first security superhero was David Levinson in ‘Independence Day’. In an ocean of electromagnetic signals he detected an alien signal and identified it as countdown, and all within a few minutes. A true superhero!