Helping Firms Secure their Digital Transformation at Cloud Expo Europe

by Ian Heritage

The quest for competitive advantage through digital innovation has hit the mainstream. Organisations across the globe are turning to agile development practices, cloud and mobile platforms, smart devices and more to drive profits and get closer to their customers. Yet going digital means new risks, a larger corporate attack surface and more work for stretched IT teams.

Finding a solution to these challenges is not easy, but it is essential to the success of crucial digital transformation projects. That’s why our Principal Security Strategist, Bharat Mistry, will be offering some guidance for IT leaders at this year’s Cloud Expo Europe in London next month. His presentations will cover security for CI/CD environments and the value of Managed Detection and Response (MDR).

The race for digital supremacy
Digital transformation has been on the CIO’s agenda for years, but the truth is that today, adoption has grown to the point that organisations simply can’t afford not to have a strategy. In fact, 85% of corporate decision makers feel they have just two years to make an impact with digital before suffering financially and/or falling behind their competitors. UK firms are relatively advanced in their plans, with 42% using some form of cloud service, almost double the EU average of 26%.

DevOps is right at the heart of the push to become more agile and digitally innovative, increasingly using horizontal microservices, updated several times per day, to achieve these goals. More than a quarter (27%) of firms have implemented new development practices or are doing so, with an additional 41% saying it’s a priority for the next few years, according to one report.

Yet digital transformation also means digital threats, which could in turn lead to damaging data breaches or IT outages. The corporate attack surface has grown exponentially as cloud accounts, virtual endpoints, connected devices, OT systems and more come online. As firms come to rely on these as mission critical, the risk of systems being locked down by online extortionists grows. Digital growth also means more customer data, which is now heavily regulated by the GDPR, with potentially large penalties for non-compliance.

Backed by a vast underground economy providing all the tools and knowhow they need to succeed, as well as a readymade market on which to sell stolen data, cyber-criminals have become increasingly brazen. They have a variety of tools and techniques to draw on today, from fileless malware to automated credential stuffing and even AI-powered spear-phishing. We’re also starting to see new threats emerging to target modern DevOps environments. Last year it was revealed that malicious images had been downloaded at least five million times from Docker Hub. Just this month, a serious flaw was discovered in runc, the default runtime for Docker, Kubernetes and many other container platforms.

Fighting back
As Bharat will explain in his presentations at Cloud Expo, IT teams need to get security right if they want to support the business in driving digital success. Yet many are stretched to the limit. The global cybersecurity workforce shortage is nearing three million, including 142,000 in EMEA. SMBs in particular can become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of threat data spewing out from their systems. This makes adoption of a proactive, strategic security posture even more challenging.

One approach increasingly popular among organisations is MDR. This involves outsourcing to an expert provider activities including 24/7 alert monitoring, threat hunting, investigation and remediation. It’s all about getting back on the front foot by detecting and isolating threats and using threat intelligence to proactively reduce the organisation’s level of exposure to attacks. It works across network, endpoint and server layers with continuous monitoring for maximum visibility. In this way, MDR goes beyond a typical managed security service provider (MSSP) approach, which is often limited to perimeter-based tools and does not involve extensive forensics, threat research, or analytics.

At a DevOps level, organisations should also consider automated continuous scanning of container images for vulnerabilities and malware, including pre-runtime checks. With DevOps and Infrastructure as Code, everything became software-defined, and security must follow the same path. With security features exposed as API-based services it becomes much easier to embed these controls into the DevOps workflow.

To find out more on how to mitigate security risk, and protect the bottom line and corporate reputation whilst enhancing compliance and driving digital success, drop in to Bharat’s keynotes at Cloud Expo Europe next month.

Security optimized for your CI/CD pipeline: Cyber Innovations & GRC Theatre, Tues 12th March 2019, 12:30 – 12:45

Bridging cybersecurity gaps with Managed Detection and Response (MDR): Security Strategies & Service Providers Theatre, Tues 12th March 2019, 15:25 – 15:50

What: Cloud Expo Europe
When: 12-13 March, 2019
Where: London ExCel


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