May 19, 2020

How to stay cybersecurity productive

Cybersecurity
Automation
John Titmus
4 min
How to stay cybersecurity productive

It is no surprise to hear that we’re in a productivity slump, it’s an uncertain time politically and economically, and output levels are correspondingly low. In the UK, we have seen another dip as workers' productivity fell again in the first quarter of this year according to the Office for National Statistics, down by 0.2% compared to the same quarter during the previous year.

Solving this situation is one issue. But how can we ensure this trend doesn’t seep into the enterprise cybersecurity programme, and how do businesses ensure they stay cyber-secure and protected and risk even worse productivity due to malicious cyberattacker activity?

Too much noise, not enough visibility

A lack of visibility is one of the biggest barriers that businesses need to overcome to improve and develop an effective security strategy. A security team is only able to respond to what they can see, meaning they’re at risk if they don’t have a full picture of their environment. Bad actors prey on weak systems and can easily hide when a network is overly noisy. Even those without a cybersecurity background can appreciate the complexity of the IT system, and how hard it can be spotting odd behaviours or indicators of attack that may show an intruder in the system, or a malicious threat taking action against company data, users, or funds.

When choosing a cybersecurity solution it’s easy for businesses to select an offering which over-notifies the security team. Better to be safe than sorry, many would say. While visibility is key, notification overload can not only impact security team productivity levels, it can lead to network blind spots of real malicious activity. The best way to ensure this doesn’t become the team’s downfall is to use a solution which gives a digestible dashboard which tracks any suspicious activity on the network and shows detail and context on each possible threat. This allows teams to understand the bigger picture and what the health of the system should be.

Automation is key

Automated solutions which harness behavioural analytics and machine learning are a must-have when trying to keep productivity levels high. Letting automation take the strain can help reduce some of the pressure on security teams, ensuring the repetitive, tedious aspects of the job can be done correctly and in-line with company policy. It gives security teams the time to deal with those issues that need an educated eye and a human response to understand and remediate.

Next-generation solutions have the analytical power to discover both the known threats and recognise unknown threats by their behaviours. This should be the beating heart of every security team as the wide range and quantity of emerging threats can easily topple teams into panic mode as disaster strikes. An intelligent solution performs initial legwork so that security teams can focus on the edge cases, the novel, and the truly unexpected - bringing human ingenuity to bear on the situation.

By leveraging next-generation security solutions, teams can track suspicious behaviour and eject malicious actors before they have a chance to damage, steal or disrupt the network.

It’s a wise choice to consider the cloud element. Some solutions train their AI and machine learning automation on huge data-sets of normal and abnormal enterprise activity - understanding what real users do, how company administrators use their privileges, and therefore what a new kind of threat looks like when it diverges from the usual parameters. The power of the cloud offers massive scalability in training solutions, as well as considerable power crunching customer data at pace, meaning that a business can achieve better protection, faster, through the cloud rather than purely on-premise, as their business grows.

Working against the clock

Using the tools above will ensure security defences are at a high, however, timing is key for any security team to be proven productive. Teams must be able to quickly report and secure their next work against threats in real-time. The productivity ‘grail’ is to stand by the 1-10-60 rule. This is where security operations teams aim to detect malicious intrusions in under one minute, understand the context and scope of the intrusion in ten minutes, and initiate remediation activities in less than one hour. Quick turnarounds are not only good for the security and protection of the business but this practice also instills a culture of productivity which all security teams should be seeking to maintain.

A robust security strategy requires a productive team

Creating a productive and efficient team starts with ensuring they are equipped with the correct tools to be able to complete the job at hand. As per a recent report by the Ponemon Institute, security teams can increase productivity by an average of 56 per cent by adopting solutions that use tactics similar to those mentioned above.

These tools will give teams time, as the second a breach is detected it is a countdown to how much an adversary can damage, destroy or steal while moving laterally through the network. By deploying the 1-10-60 rule a business ensures that minimum damage is done and productivity stays at a high level.

John Titmus is the Director of EMEA at CrowdStrike

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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

GfK
VMware
3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.  

In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade. 

“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.

Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.

By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.

One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.

“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.

Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs. 

“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.

The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment. 

The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.

One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.

“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.

“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client. 

“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”

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