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Innovation key to fighting cybercrime

There's a dearth of cyber security professionals to combat criminals who now have more avenues to carry out attacks

Cyber security has gained a lot of attention in the last couple of years, thanks to the increasing number of high-profile cyber attacks across the globe.

As more nations embark on Smart City projects, reliance on data and connectivity will continue to rise dramatically across geographies and industries, giving cyber criminals even more avenues to carry out malicious activities.

Today, cyber criminals are as sophisticated as ever and both governments and organisations are finding it hard to keep up. The recent outbreaks of WannaCry and Petya ransomware are testament to the damage that a single piece of malware can cause.

Overall, cyber criminals are becoming more strategic at targeting vital data across the healthcare, finance and public sector verticals, raising the costs and stakes involved.

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, the cost of cybercrime to the global economy is estimated at US$445 billion (S$608 billion) a year.

In this turbulent landscape, technology companies not only need to make cyber security a priority in the development of their solutions, but they also need to re-instil confidence in the market so that the progress of economies and smart cities or nations are not curtailed by the fear of cyber attacks.

To do this, a multi-pronged strategy and concerted effort across governments and organisations are required.

OUTSMART THE ENEMY

The dearth of cyber security professionals will continue to plague the industry as the cyber security sector's global workforce shortage is projected to reach 1.8 million by 2022, while the amount of data collected, analysed and stored will continue to increase exponentially.

This means that there are simply not enough people to process the data for cyber security detection and prevention.

The good news is, cyber security vendors are accelerating their research and ramping up solutions to meet today's challenges. One major trend we are seeing is the use of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect and respond to cyber attacks.

One example is Apache Spot, an open source cyber security project that uses ML as a filter for separating bad traffic from benign and to characterise the unique behaviour of network traffic, giving organisations the ability to analyse large data sets quickly, leading to better and faster threat detection.

The revival of AI and ML is a rosy development for chief security officers as it can help address several of their common pain points.

If we can offload tasks to ML and AI while harnessing the scarce human expertise for decision-making, our cyber security infrastructure can become more robust and cost-efficient.

The bottom line is, all solution providers - be it Internet of Things, fintech, biotech or data analytics - must make innovation in cyber security a priority in the development of their solutions to stay one step ahead of cyber criminals and meet customer expectations.

ALL TOGETHER NOW

There is also an urgent need for public and private stakeholders to carry out diplomatic dialogues and share threat intelligence as cybercrime is not something that can be dealt with in silo.

Unlike physical crimes, it is not bound by geography or jurisdiction.

Recognising that cybercrime cannot be tackled unilaterally, information-sharing platforms have sprung up around the world, such as the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership in the United Kingdom and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in the United States.

Closer to home, the Interpol World 2017 congress recently held in Singapore served as a neutral platform for the public and private sectors to share information for a more unified approach to cyber security in the region.

These are all positive developments that require the critical support of all stakeholders to prevail and governments should take the lead in promoting a landscape of collaboration and transparency to catalyse action and change.

We should adopt a proactive approach encompassing robust cyber security infrastructure built on the latest technology, coupled with the collective efforts of all stakeholders in contributing to an open and cohesive environment that this region's Smart City building efforts can rely on as a backdrop for progress.


The writer is Cloudera vice-president, Asia-Pacific & Japan. This article was published in The Business Times last Thursday.

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