Rabat – The rise of cyber-crime has become one of the emerging difficulties of a more technologically integrated world. As it becomes easier to access the internet, chances increase for cyber-crime to take place. Morocco World News has recently had the pleasure of interviewing Harish Chib, Vice President of IT for security company Sophos. In our brief discussion, Mr. Chib brought clarity to many of the challenges facing the cyber community and how Sophos is working to combat that threat.
Cyber-crime is a form of malicious activity that utilizes internet and IT infrastructure for purpose of theft and other nefarious activities. Often this is accomplished through the introduction of malware packages, or software with malicious intent, into a system. Mr. Chib indicates that cyber-crime is not necessarily motivated by financial gain, but can be a, “… More insidious objective, which may include stealing sensitive information, causing disruption in IT infrastructure for the intended victim, inflicting reputational damage to victim etc.”
More recently, cyber-crime has become a tool for political objectives, what Chib calls, “Nation-state cyber-crime campaigns.” This often involves one country using a variety of cyber-crime strategies to directly affect a rival country. Cyber-crime is also becoming much more coordinated and sophisticated, reaching past the traditional methods of phishing and malware-laden files. “For example, when we hear about a cyber-attack on a bank in Africa, then what it means is that the people behind did a thorough research and managed to dig out all important information about possible vulnerabilities and security gaps in the bank’s network and IT infrastructure.” Cyber-criminals are ahead of the curve when it comes to IT security and companies such as Sophos are working to develop synchronized security tools to match the rate of progress found in cyber-crime.
Cyber-crime represents a clear and present threat for all of the African continent, including Morocco. According to Chib, Morocco currently experiences the, “… fastest registration of Internet users, social media participants and email usage for MENA region.” By increasing the number of internet users, cyber-criminals have an, “Expanding attack surface,” through which they can achieve more. Chib is eager to point out that growing reliance on the internet is pushing cyber-crime to alarming levels. In fact, cyber-crime is becoming, “Interlocked with terrorist networks too and providing these adversaries with more sophisticated means of financial crime, data theft, and unauthorized access to sensitive information assets like secret government and business documents, credit cards, banking documents and other mission-critical assets.” The unfortunate fact is that there is no surefire way to ensure complete protection from cyber-attacks. Cyber criminals no longer just attack traditional protections such as firewalls, but are taking advantage of open internet connections to utilize a variety of different tricks.
This increased organization of cyber-criminals has highlighted overly complex and poorly designed IT networks currently employed at most organizations. These systems are simply not designed to combat the rising number of attacks as well as their increased complexity.
“Every day, hundreds of thousands of new malware variants are launched to fuel coordinated, automated and multi-stage cyber-attacks that cleverly make progress without being detected, mostly because security systems fail to work in coordination. Attackers have a massive attacks surface available at their advantage. They can find a weak spot in a network, or they can find an endpoint or a computer with a weak password or unpatched software or they can also drill a hole in a server that lacks layered protection. Today’s cybercrime thrives on a team of uniquely skilled cybercriminals.”
Because of this team based strategy being adopted by cyber-criminals, it has become necessary for systems to adapt and adopt coordinated protection methods. Mr. Chib believes that Sophos has developed a solution to combat this more complex and coordinated wave of threats. Their system provides higher levels of security automation and simplicity.
“We at Sophos have addressed this in a truly revolutionary manner, making it an industry-first. Sophos being a pioneer in automated cybercrime protection believes that complexity is the enemy of effective security. Therefore, we devised a new wave of security innovation that we call synchronized security, which for the first time allows endpoint and network security products to actively and continuously share threat intelligence with each other to more effectively protect against today’s sophisticated threats, in a manageable way.”
Sophos believes that this automated system allows for faster recognition of threats and the automatic isolation of infected devices. Utilizing this system, or others like it, will mean that Moroccan companies and government entities will be better protected with fewer resources and at less expense.
The IT security industry is working rapidly to ensure this protection is available. Sophos, in particular, has multiple projects and divisions offering products for all corporate needs.
“At the heart of our solutions is SophosLabs, a 24-hour threat research and intelligence center that we believe is one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world, providing real-time cloud enabled security intelligence that updates our products multiple times each day. Every day SophosLabs analyzes over 1 million suspicious URLs, over 350,000 previously unseen suspicious files and more than 3 million spam messages. Many vendors focus exclusively on the “Global 2000” or the largest enterprises while Sophos focuses on the other 60 million underserved businesses and organizations requiring enterprise-grade security that is simple enough to be deployed by any size organization. With Security Heartbeat, Sophos is enabling organizations of every size to advance their defenses against increasingly coordinated and stealthy attacks and drive a dramatic reduction in the time and resources required to investigate and address security incidents.”
Sophos has also recently launched Intercept X, which is another product which works to combat malware and stealth attacks with high efficiency based products. While there will always be more cyber-threats and attacks, companies such as Sophos are hard at work to ensure protection of valuable data both in Morocco and across the globe.
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