By: Sarah Johns
Over 14,500 cybersecurity professionals and 400 suppliers descended on Olympia London this week for Infosecurity Europe 2019, arguably the most important cybersecurity event of the year.
Given the size of the event, it was no surprise to see vendors pulling out all the stops to grab the attention of attendees. Stands were adorned with arcade games, water features and escape rooms, and there were freebies galore, with stands giving out everything from free pens to socks and webcam covers to popcorn doused in liquid nitrogen.
It was great to see brands building awareness of their cybersecurity tools and engaging potential customers through gamification and other marketing initiatives in the exhibition hall. However, the conference programme remains an equally important part of the event, giving companies the chance to hear from each other’s security experts on the key challenges they are facing and how they can counter-act threats. So, what were the key takeaways?
Cybersecurity professionals face increasing complexity and uncertainty
What came up time and time again was how challenging cybersecurity work has become. CISOs and their teams must contend with an increasing number of threats. In fact, according to the National Cyber Security Centre, the average number of cyber-attacks on UK businesses has grown from four in 2018 to six in 2019. These threats are also more complex, as highlighted by the commons public accounts committee in The Times. Jane Frankland, author of “Women in Cybersecurity,” stressed that one way companies can deal with this complexity is by hiring more diverse teams. Non-homogenous groups can offer a wide range of approaches and perspectives, therefore often proving more adept at problem-solving than ones primarily made up of personnel from similar backgrounds.
Humans remain the weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity
Whether it’s using easy-to-guess passwords, not using multi-factor authentication or configuring the cloud incorrectly, all too often human error is to blame when it comes to cybersecurity. On the keynote stage on day 1, Dan Raywood, contributing editor at Infosecurity Magazine, chaired an excellent panel discussion on rethinking cyber defence to combat complex risks, threats and vulnerabilities. He discussed the many reasons for it but noted that humans are usually at fault. An interesting point was that it is human nature to assume you will not experience “the worst,” such as a major hack unless it has happened to you.
However, as recognised in the discussion, organisations are cottoning onto this and improving their security procedures following high-profile breaches such as the global 2017 WannaCry attack. This case was somewhat of a turning point for many organisations, serving as a widespread awareness campaign and prompting many organisations, not just those affected by this particular ransomware, to patch their systems more regularly.
Technology is key to bridging the gap
In conversation with one systems engineer, it was noted that no matter how many employees a company has in its SOC (security operations centre) team, there simply will never be enough to deal with all the cyber alerts and incidents manually. Technologies such as AI, automation, and analytics are therefore playing a vital role in helping security teams do their jobs well. For example, there was software being demoed at Infosec that enabled employees to constantly monitor for threats and gauge their risk to the organisation, and easily see which ones they needed to prioritise in order to manage their time effectively.
Infosec 2019 has been another hugely valuable opportunity for European cybersecurity professionals to review the most pressing issues facing the industry today as well as share best practices for securing networks, from cloud to endpoint. But it is not just security specialists that have a responsibility to stay secure. It is up to all of us to ensure we are doing all we can to protect our networks and all the data stored on them.
Sarah Johns is Senior Account Executive in Allison+Partners London office.