Must Read: Is AI friend or foe?... Security automation and the C-suite... The risk of trusted insiders

From AI in security, to automation and executive approval, to the onrushing GDPR. We gather together the essential security reads of the last few weeks.

By Jo Best

Mon 17 Jul 2017 @ 15:14

The appearance of the Petya/NotPetya ransomware has been dominating headlines of late, particularly thanks to signs the latter may not have been intended as a money-making scheme. Elsewhere in recent weeks, security news has been both good and bad, with announcements that few businesses are prepared for GDPR and remain as vulnerable as ever to trusted insider risks balanced by falling data breach costs and behavioural analytics trials in the US Army.

From the growing appetite for security automation to the growing payouts for bug bounties, here are our picks of the need-to-know security stories of the last few weeks.

Security automation has the C-suite's attention

Good news for security pros: the board is finally waking up to the promise of machine learning for security. According to a new survey, four in five C-suite members have already increased, or are considering increasing, their use of security automation. The research also found that a significant proportion of companies expect automation to be the backbone of their security strategies within the next two years.

Will AI be security's friend or foe?

Security's artificial intelligence arms race has already begun. As use of AI begins to enter the mainstream, the technology could potentially allow criminals to fine tune how they find and lure new targets, as well as automate malware campaigns. Equally, AI tools will offer businesses more sophisticated ways of defending against threats such as automated and correlated analysis of data.

Are you ready for GDPR?

While it's under a year until the General Data Protection Regulation is enforceable, many companies are still in wait-and-see mode and have yet to come up with a strategy for how to deal with the new regulations. Given the expected ripple effect of GDPR within most business functions, it's wise to start preparing as soon as possible. If the GDPR isn't near the top if the CIO's list of actions, it should be.

Déjà vu all over again: Ransomware that's about more than money

In the early days of computer threats, malware was just a way for mischief-makers to cause as many computer users as much of a headache as possible, rather than a means for criminal groups to earn easy cash. Now security researchers are warning we could be heading back to the bad old days, with suggestions that the motivation for the recent NotPetya ransomware attack was purely to cause widespread disruption, rather than to make a quick buck.

Data breach costs: Who's up and who's down

For the first time, the average cost of a data breach has fallen in some parts of the world. European firms saw the cost per breach fall by 26 per cent, according to new research, thanks in part to better prevention and strategies for dealing with breaches when they do occur. However, it's not all good news: the US has seen the average breach cost rise by five per cent, due to the current strength of the dollar, as well as the fragmented nature of breach notification legislation across US states.

The risk of trusted insiders

The more trusted employees are, the bigger the threat they can pose to their organisation. In most cases, trusted users aren't acting with malicious intent when they create security holes – it's just that their privileges mean that any risky actions they take can have more serious consequences. So how do you mitigate the risks that come with trusted employees? Take a long hard look at who you're trusting, and whether that needs to change.

How the US Army defends against digital attacks

The US Army has revealed that it's trialling behaviourial analytics to help keep its networks secure. The organisation has begun using pattern-based threat detection to spot anomalies on its networks and protect against external attacks, as well as insider threats. The Army is also predicting that such network analysis will lead to a greater reliance on artificial intelligence, used to sort through the reams of data it generates.

Better bug bounties

Good news for bug finders: the average payout for detecting a bug in a company's systems has risen by over 16 per cent over the last two years, with some bounty programs giving away around $50,000 a month to hackers, a recent report has found. As well as increased payments, there are other signs that enterprises are becoming more proactive in blocking threats: the average time taken to respond to a reported vulnerability has fallen from seven days to six.