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Blog | Feb 01, 2019

Notes from RSA conference 2016: it's time to embrace the hunt

The first day official day at the RSA Conference is always exciting. The number of cybersecurity professionals descending on San Francisco is almost unimaginable. This year, it’s expected that more than 40,000 people will attend the conference itself while thousands more will join sessions online.

There is no question that the InfoSec industry is shifting. In his keynote this morning Amit Yoran, President of RSA pointed out that prevention is not enough. Time and time again headlines remind us that regardless of how big you are, or how many technologies you have in place, you will get compromised. The 2015 Anthem data breach and Juniper back door compromise proved just that.

Amit made one point very clear: “prevention is a failed strategy”. Organizations need more than just baseline technologies in place to defend against cyber attacks. We cannot continue to operate under the false assumption that sandboxing, firewalls, next-gen firewalls and the plethora of defensive technologies in the market are adequate to address today’s security realities. Around-the-clock monitoring with human analysts is becoming more than just a ‘nice to have’. It’s becoming a ‘NEED to have’. In fact, Amit pointed out that Gartner predicts that rapid human detection and response will comprise 60% of security budget expenditures by 2020.

As InfoSec continues to experience explosive growth, universally it faces a significant dilemma. Trained security analysts are in high demand and short supply. When it comes to cybersecurity, real-time forensics operations requires a unique skill set. They need to be ever-vigilant and inquisitive. More and more we’re hearing the term ‘hunting’ when it comes to security forensics teams. Hunting is a methodology, a process that when applied to threat identification and remediation it means faster anomaly detection and immediate containment. Alongside this methodology is the need for expanded investment in behavioral analytics, human assisted machine learning and ultimately artificial intelligence to provide the tooling and insights to arm our future “hunters”.

We’ve recently partnered with Lt. General Ronnie Hawkins (Ret’d) to explore the idea behind hunting as an applied methodology. When it comes to hunting, Mr. Hawkins is an expert. As the Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency he led the team responsible for hunting cyber threats and through his experience, he’s identified the strategy of ‘moving the flash to boom left’, which essentially translates to finding threats faster. We’re honoured to host Mr. Hawkins at the RSA conference for a podcast recording today, March 1. Stay tuned for download and subscription details.

At eSentire, we recognize the importance of curious, sharp human analysts. Without them, many rely simply on technologies that will eventually fail to stop the sophisticated attacks facing businesses today. When addressing the scarcity of talent, Amit Yoran suggests that “if you (organizations) don’t have hunters, grow them. Don’t stand in their way, let them evolve. Embrace hunting.” Last year at RSA the ask of the industry was to foster intelligence sharing in our communities; move beyond a siloed approach to help unite our community. Because with rich information, we’re better equipped to combat the emerging threats that we all face. In the early days of RSA 2016, the emerging theme seems to suggest that today, we need to use the intelligence we’re building to help mould our hunt teams, embrace free-thinking and the desire to ask ‘why’.

We couldn’t agree more.

Mandy Bachus

Mandy Bachus

Director of Corporate Communications

Mandy leads a team of savvy communicators who continually strive to interpret to share thought provoking news and resources with the InfoSec community.