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Notes from RSA 2015: is infosec having an identity crisis?

BY eSentire

April 27, 2015 | 3 MINS READ

Cybersecurity Strategy

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This year’s RSA Conference drew an unbelievable number of security professionals from around the globe. The electricity was palpable, as more than 28,000 descended on San Francisco to dissect last year’s major breaches, the lessons learned and emerging trends. And while a large number of sessions focused on the pressures facing professionals working in the field, they also built on the conversation around the state of the industry’s maturity and repeatedly asked the question, is InfoSec having an identity crisis?

Information Security is a young industry, especially when compared to other industrialized fields. The discipline is growing at an unbelievable pace, though this should come as no surprise given the steep rise in cybercrime. Like any growing discipline, InfoSec is experiencing its own brand of growing pains. From an adoption standpoint, the industry has made great strides in convincing the boardroom that cybersecurity is a critical organizational function. However even with that recognition, many organizations are still lagging when it comes to implementing cybersecurity policies and measures. The pendulum swung quickly in large enterprise, especially as the effects of the 2014 mega breach stories were realized. But what about the smaller companies - the small to mid-sized organizations?

Through regular surveys we’ve observed that small to mid-sized enterprise is still having a difficult time adapting and adopting cybersecurity infrastructure. Leaders in this space are contending with a cybersecurity trifecta: while they understand that they too have high-risk data, they’re having a difficult time reconciling internal cybersecurity bandwidth, resources and dollars, especially when balancing it with other crucial business functions. To some degree, many businesses in this space are still consider themselves below the radar of cyber threats. And if they are wise enough to realize they are the achilles heel of larger industry, they struggle with monumental task of protecting themselves, particularly when they see the F500 falling victim time and time again.

One walk through RSAC’s exhibition floor amplified the industry’s explosive growth. More and more cybersecurity services are emerging to help organizations build out defenses. On the show floor and in the RSAC lecture rooms, it became evident that InfoSec is in fact, having an identity crisis. Without question, ours is an industry that’s outpacing all other global industry. As a discipline, we recognize the risks, threats and implications our environment presents and are pivoting constantly to stay ahead of the threat curve.

We have an abundance of data that we can use to help educate enterprise at all levels. And really, it’s our duty to share resources to help establish the need for proactive cybersecurity programs and solidify the commitment towards action. Like any immature industry, we’re having a hard time defining who we are. We use variant language to describe what we do and unfortunately for us, this is complicating the conversation that's happening in boardrooms, where business decisions are made.

So what can we do? The conference sent us on our way with an answer - a call to action, if you will. As a discipline, we have to collaborate together to elevate our already tenacious discipline. We need to drive the definitions that will define the discipline’s identity and continue to foster the profession's collaboration that has already proved invaluable in today’s shifting landscape. Think of the ISAC’s as just one example. Back in late 2013, eSentire issued a service advisory to its client base giving visibility to a .docm file circulating through the hedge fund atmosphere. Then, the intent of the attack was to drive a spear-phishing campaign with the explicit intent of accessing sensitive financial data in the hedge fund market through credential harvesting. At the time, eSentire’s Security Operations Center flagged what became known in 2014 news reports as “FIN4”. In addition to our client advisory, eSentire shared this information with FS-ISAC (we’ve been a member of the ISAC community for several years) to help warn others in the financial community of this emerging threat.

At the end of the day, every professional working in the InfoSec industry is an influencer. Every professional possesses the data and resources that can help define industry-wide policies, drive best practices and perhaps most importantly, help the industry shake its identity crisis.


eSentire, Inc., the Authority in Managed Detection and Response (MDR), protects the critical data and applications of 2000+ organizations in 80+ countries, across 35 industries from known and unknown cyber threats by providing Exposure Management, Managed Detection and Response and Incident Response services designed to build an organization’s cyber resilience & prevent business disruption. Founded in 2001, eSentire protects the world’s most targeted organizations with 65% of its global base recognized as critical infrastructure, vital to economic health and stability. By combining open XDR platform technology, 24/7 threat hunting, and proven security operations leadership, eSentire's award-winning MDR services and team of experts help organizations anticipate, withstand and recover from cyberattacks. For more information, visit: www.esentire.com and follow @eSentire.

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