Security can't be an afterthought

Security can't be an afterthought

       The Hampton Roads Chamber’s Education Series continued on April 18, with a packed audience for Cybersecurity and the Future of the Cloud. This panel style talk provided insight into cloud storage and securing and protecting data. Whether you are an IT professional or a small business owner looking at off site data storage, this program was both cautionary and informative. Moderated by Craig Johnson, Vice President of Business with the Teneo Group and panelists Gustavo Cornel of Check Point Systems and Joe Calabria of Unitrends, the presenters covered real issues in cloud computing and discussed the evolution of cyber threats.

      Just as Uber and AirBNB are disruptive business models in their industries, cloud storage uses the same concept. “Why can’t you be a company and not have an IT environment? A cloud is anything as a service, (AAS) where somebody else’s data center takes over your business IT responsibilities. Moving to the cloud means keeping our environment up to date,” Johnson said.

     Using the analogy of only locking the front door of your home to protect against intruders, Johnson detailed the vulnerabilities of an unlocked window or other access. “Hackers aren’t going against your strongest asset, they are going in through a back door.”

     In a World Economic Forum for Global Risk study, the last 5 years have shown a shift from natural disasters, and migration to massive data fraud and cyber theft. Johnson provided startling statistics that show we are fundamentally unprepared for a mega-attack. In the late 1980’s the population was approximately 60% equipped for PC attack by way of anti-virus protection. Starkly contrasted with today’s generation of cyber threat, only 2.8% are equipped to handle a mega-attack.

      Enter the cloud. Gus Cornel discussed the need for public and private cloud protection and it’s inevitability. “If you have a data center now, you will be in the cloud eventually. Just as we no longer get water from a well, we will evolve to cloud storage.” Cornel said. Cornel is in the business of data protection. “How do we secure something when there is no perimeter? We go back to basics and to the zero-trust model. We assume an attack can from anywhere, inside or outside.” Cornel detailed the savvy phishing attempts of hackers and explained the reality of the internet’s underbelly where hackers have intricate operations set up to barter and sell your personal data. The lesson was clear, “you must have consistent protection across all cloud platforms. Security has always been an afterthought. A doctor cares about saving a lie, not about the security of patient data. Protecting the data in the cloud should include automated security provisioning with dynamic enforcement that can react in seconds.”

     Johnson echoed this sentiment. “Security can be built as code. If you can practice just the top 5 best practices of the 20 recommended by the Center for Internet Security, then you can protect yourself from 80% of attacks. The more you learn, the more you can protect yourself,” Johnson said.

     Susan Long Molnar of Managing Communications asked the panelists how feasible it would be for a small business to enact cloud storage. Cornel said, “The return on investment absolutely makes sense for small business. Rather than a huge initial investment for something you may only have for a few years, you can build your cloud data center exactly as you want it for exactly as long as you need it, even if it’s only for a day.”

     Unitrend’s Joe Calabria specializes in data back-up solutions and spoke to exactly what it takes to protect data. He shared scenarios concerning ransom attempts on data and detailed the reality that loss of data “is really no different than any other type of disaster now.” Sharing a quote from the Federal Bureau of Investigation which said, “We often advise people to just pay the ransom if they don’t have backups.” Calabria elaborated, “Data is just about your most valuable asset, without a backup and disaster recovery plan, it’s gone.” Calabria emphasized that every individual and company needs a plan going forward. “The key to 2018 is IT resiliency, adapting in the face of adversity.”

    The Teneo Group provided a link the their powerpoint presentation here.

   The Chamber Education Series continues on June 10, with the Top 10 HR Issues and How to Resolve Them, featuring Maria Watkins with Paychex, Inc.

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