[Column] Christine Ambetsa: Data Security; embracing autonomy and intelligent machines
CIOs are operating in a state of heightened awareness. Their mission-critical systems are increasingly under threat from constantly evolving viruses and hacks, making it tougher than ever to defend the lifeblood of their business – data.
The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19. The cyber threats detected varied from denial-of-service (DOS) including botnet and brute-force attacks that led to denial of computer services and illegal access to computer systems, online impersonation via social media accounts and domain names, malware including phishing attacks and online abuse including online fraud to name a few.
Unsurprisingly, nearly a third of Kenyan CIOs state that their key focus area is advanced security solutions, the second highest priority listed after disaster recovery and business continuity.¹
Security is hard
Simply put, security is hard. Much of it comes down to the way IT has evolved – as an open environment. For years, people and businesses have purchased disparate products, disparate servers, disparate operating systems and disparate databases and then connected them all together. The unintended and unfortunate result is that lots and lots of individual pathways have been opened up in the corporate system.
As a result, what’s sprung up around these corporate systems is a cyberspace battlefield, in which nobody is safe. Even IT professionals are combatants on that battlefield, tasked to make the right security choice every day, because if you don’t, you’re putting the future of the business at risk.
Adding even greater significance to the security mandate today is the advanced and persistent nature of today’s threats. Malicious actors are seemingly always one-step ahead and in order for enterprise security forces to do their job, they must exercise constant vigilance and innovation.
So how can businesses move forward with confidence and continue to build their data assets, while at the same time facing up to the barrage of security threats?
A new kind of defence
The answer is a new kind of defence; one that pits machine against machine so that organisations have a nearly impenetrable barrier to protect their data and their cloud.
Hackers are already wise to the power of letting machines do the work. Right now, for many organisations this battle takes the form of their malicious bots versus your people trying to defend from inside the business. But in this scenario of machine versus man, which do you think is faster? Who do you think will win?
To give your business a fighting chance in protecting its data, you need a defence system that’s completely automated, and even autonomous. With autonomous data management, database threats can be discovered automatically and then repaired. No human beings are involved. Patches are immediately applied while the database is running, which means you don’t need to wait around to find a window of downtime. This is essential for protecting your data on-premise and in the cloud.
Security in the cloud
The current state of cloud defence, in many cases, is just not good enough – not even close. The smartest technology companies are routinely penetrated, as we’ve seen in the unending stream of media stories about businesses having vast quantities of their data stolen. Even the most security-conscious government agencies are also vulnerable.
And because organisations don’t exist in isolation protection is needed both within the company and without. So, the cloud/s they run on also need robust cyber defences using the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies; to find threats and kill them; to search and destroy. Again, the only way to win is to make the battle robots versus robots. It’s the only way to protect the cloud infrastructure without having both hands tied behind your back.
The good news is that the government intends to focus on emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud solutions and data analytics; this pronounced focus will be a key driver for the local ICT market according to the IDC’s Kenya Enterprise ICT Market Outlook for 2018 and 2019.
Time to let machines take the lead
We’re already seeing some companies turning to use systems like the autonomous database for better protection – and without the additional overheads.
Take National Pharmacies, an Australian pharmacy chain, for instance. The company has to be able to move its data at speed for life-saving insights, but needs autonomous capabilities to keep protecting its database without human intervention; as it can’t risk loosening any security or privacy practices at any point.
So, with attacks becoming more frequent, and attackers getting smarter and businesses data more vulnerable, it’s time to let machines take the lead on the cybersecurity battlefield. In doing so, companies will then have at their disposal, the most advanced tools in order to fight – and win – against the most advanced threats.