Kaspersky Lab experts pitch for cyber security protocol at all levels

By Ashok Dixit (ANI) | Updated: Oct 12, 2017 06:04 IST

Phuket [Thailand], Oct.12 (ANI): Celebrating two decades of the existence of Kaspersky Lab, one of the world's fastest growing cyber-security companies, and the largest one to be privately owned, as also its achievements in this specialized sector, eminent panelists from around the world and participants re-emphasized the need to protect information technology-related infrastructure to counter acts of terrorism and sabotage of key installations and systems.

Taking part in the APAC Cyber Security Weekend 2017 being held here, Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director, APAC Kaspersky Lab, said Wednesday that the company at 20 years is still young in comparison to other competitors in the information technology industry and remains very focused and passionate about cyber security.

"I am amazed to see what Kaspersky has achieved in the last 20 years. I am happy to share with you the news that Kaspersky has joined the free market, which means that products are now available off the shelf to the public, and this will go a long way towards improving global IT systems," he said.

Addressing over 40 delegates, including 26 journalists from about 11 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, Neumeier reflecting on the current cyber security landscape and on cyber threats, said an assessment could be gleaned from the fact that between 1986 and 2006, malware explosions were pegged at about a million, whereas in 2016, more were happening on an average every week.

To emphasize the danger facing the global community, he said 474 million malicious attacks have been observed on the Windows platform and 23 million such attacks on Android i.e. mobiles and tablets etc. in recent times.

Describing India as one of the emerging markets that Kaspersky was looking at with interest, Neumeier said that the next area of focus for the company is Linux operating systems and devices.

He stated that almost everything needs to be protected today and that it would not be sensible to train focus on only one particular structure.

Terrorists, hackers and saboteurs were now increasingly using the digital way to cause harm and meet their goals. As an example, he cited the 2011 case of Aramco, where data on 35,000 personal computers was wiped out and it took three years and 10 million dollars to rebuild from scratch. Another example was the collapse of the power grid in Ukraine in 2016, which resulted in 80,000 people and 20,000 sub-stations being impacted.

"Everything starts with the power grid. We are talking to many governments on this issue of protecting these grids. Without power nothing works. Systems need to be safe, need to be secured and immune by design. Architecture and applications have to be protected," he said.

Vitaly Kamluk, Director of GReAT APAC Kaspersksy Lab, talked about the various types of malware in circulation such as Red October, Stuxnet, Net Traveller, Dark Hotel, Dropping Elephant ad Lazarus, and said that history has taught us that "one who owns the information, owns the world".

To counter cyber espionage, cyber sabotage and any other kind of manipulation, he said that it is imperative to apply the six following guidelines:

. Train your staff and educate common users

. Monitor events 24x7

. Use decent security software and reliable vendors, besides putting in place multi-layered defence

. Investigate alerts and respond quickly; find the root cause

. Control your updates &

. Ensure strict white-listing of software inventory/BYOD policy

Seongsu Park, a senior security researcher, talked of four preventives to safeguard infrastructure from going malicious. These were:

. Need to identify the IT infrastructure accurately

. Check out for vulnerable hosts

. Protect valuable hosts &

. Use adaptive security frameworks

On the issue of identifying spies, Noushin Shabab, a researcher based in Australia, provided a definition of what a cyber spy is i.e. a person who gets unauthorized access to information and documents. Such a person could be found in intelligence agencies; in companies living a double life; private companies indulging in cyber espionage; people working on a variety of campaigns and also people performing different roles and having different responsibilities, she added.

As to what is the motivation to be a cyber spy, Shabab cited four factors namely intolerance; desire to be part of an arms race; pursuing a political agenda to empower government or accompany and last but not least a desire to give a boost to the economy.

Yuri Namestnikov, Head of Research Centre GReAT in Russia, spoke of the urgent need to connect the dots and accept that the nature of a cyber threat has undergone a tectonic shift, wherein, 90 percent is still the traditional form of cyber crime and 9.9 percent are threats against organizations.

Going beyond the subject of cyber espionage, he talked of nation-state sponsored groups using ransomware such as WannaCry and Lazarus to target financial institutions such as banks, automatic teller machines and BItcoin enterprises.

In concluding, he said that there are new ways emerging to fund offensive cyber operations; that it must be accepted that the main target is the Swift eco-system; that nation-state actors are using ransomware as payload; that most attacks are financially motivated and finally the supply chain attack has emerged as a weapon of choice.

Kaspersky currently operates in 200 countries and territories with the help of 3,300 highly qualified specialists. About 400 million users, including 270,000 corporate clients are protected by Kaspersky created technologies. (ANI)