Security / August 28, 2018

My Evening with U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna and Some Cybersecurity Industry Heavyweights

As a CEO of a technology company, I’m often asked to explain my company’s solutions and technology. Many of these conversations evolve into discussions regarding networking traffic analytics and cybersecurity tool efficiency — yes, I go to fun parties! — but they result in a lot of bewildered nodding and occasionally very confused expressions. From time to time, I use analogies such as the desire to replace the mousetrap to explain the need for a new line of thinking regarding cybersecurity.

Aside from customer visits where I have a captive audience, it is a rare occurrence that I have the chance to sit with my peers and citizens of the local community to discuss cyber-hygiene and the steps to keep personal data safe and secure.

Last night was one of those times as I had the unique privilege of participating in a Cybersecurity Round Table with U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, along with colleagues from leading tech companies such as @FireEye , @ForeScout and @PaloAltoNtwks, and a soon-to-be @Stanford professor. It was an eye-opening evening for panelists, as well as the audience, with several ah-ha moments that I’ll address below.

The panel and attendees enjoyed a lively conversation ranging from our preparedness for a secure 2020 election, to the proliferation of AI altered videos, to the impact on society of that a loss of electricity would have on the control systems for the services we take for granted, such as the power grid and water treatment plants.

While potential threats have been well documented, along with the damaging potential outcomes from successful attacks, it is my belief that the cybersecurity defenses that have been developed within our digital world are stronger than ever.

The challenge, however, is that the cybersecurity world is fundamentally analog: it’s a continuum as the security posture and defense of an enterprises exists on a scale between totally secure and totally exposed. The greater the self-awareness regarding the perception of where an enterprise exists on this gradient and the reality of where the enterprise does truly exist, the healthier the true security posture of the enterprise.

At Gigamon, we recognize that a healthy security posture is only achievable when visibility to events, activities and communications is pervasive. We also recognize that while business depends upon the movement of information, attacks, threats and anomalies also cause information to move in undesired ways, and hence Gigamon focuses on providing powerful and intelligent visibility to the network traffic-in-motion.

As fellow panelist Jennifer Geisler of ForeScout pointed out, our adversaries only need to be right once in their efforts to gain access to our networks, the defenders have to be right every time.

How cybercriminals breach a barrier and gain access is another matter altogether, as most enterprises are unable to provide an accurate endpoint count. Jennifer also noted that their research has shown that most enterprise IT professionals typically under-estimate the number of attached endpoints by 60 percent.

Think about that for a minute … you set your home alarm system that is fully equipped with around-the-clock monitoring of all your doors and windows and you leave feeling safe and secure. Then you realize that there are an additional ten ground-level doors to your home that you had no idea existed, but were all there long before the expensive alarm was installed.

At the risk of prematurely sounding the security alarm, the reality of a wide-scale act of cyberterrorism, or the “Cyber Pearl Harbor” as my fellow panelists referred to it, is imminent. The real question is whether we would even notice the event before it was too late. As Tim Hastings of Mandiant (an @FireEye company) noted, their research shows that the average dwell time — the time the cybercriminal was inside the network walls — is currently 105 days, down significantly over time, yet still a staggering number.

That’s 105 days for an attacker to access your data without anyone noticing.

There are thousands of security vendors, with more appearing every day, that are working to address these challenges. My belief is that we don’t need more vendors, we need improved results and value from the vendors that exist, which is why I chose to participate in this panel and will continue to help evangelize the need for this new approach to security along with all of the leading security vendors.

A special thanks to @RepRoKhanna and his team for including me in this special event. I really do look forward to working with my fellow panelists to ensure that the security technologies that you buy are as efficient and effective as possible to help ensure the safety of your network data.

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