CIO Panel: Security Challenges in the Midmarket
- Blair Shiver
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Despite some of the most expensive fortifications on the market, CIOs and their technology teams in the midmarket struggle daily to stay ahead of malware and cyberattacks that stand to cripple their company’s operations.
Global NGO Human Rights Watch was the victim of numerous attempted attacks by cyber criminal rings in both Russia and China according to Chief Information and Technology Officer Walid Ayoub. He employed Cisco, Sophos and Palo Alto as part of an overall security strategy, but endpoint alerts, when investigated further by his team, revealed machines that were completely clean.
He was able to identify a company offering network forensics, but the service came with a hefty price tag. The solution was only a short term patch to a long term challenge.
“When we were under attack, I was told I had to replace the whole system,” Ayoub explained. “We needed to better understand how we were attacked and infected. If we replaced the system outright, we’d likely be attacked again.”
Like many of his peers in the midmarket space, Ayoub is cautious toward a full migration to the cloud for fear of losing visibility into his network.
Ed Eskew, CIO of TYR, likens making the case for significant investments in security solution to selling life insurance to an 18 year old. By the time we realize we need it, the premiums have increased exponentially.
He’s examining solutions for proactive profiling to combat against an increased frequency of C-suite phishing attempts. Attackers are using social profiling to mimic instant message and chat styles of executives.
“We had a recent event where our CFO was on the way to the bank to wire money to the CEO while he was in Europe,” Eskew explained. “As I understand it, he quickly ran the request by one of our engineers, who, after a bit of digging, found the message did not come from a company-secured iPhone.”
The discovery raised a red-flag and prompted adoption of new C-level policies that mandated financial requests would no longer be made via email or chat.
At New Jersey-based luxury watch producer, Movado Group, Mike Torrente notes increased involvement at the Board of Directors level for regular reporting on incidents risks.
They realize the vulnerability and exposure companies have today, Torrente explained, particularly around how a DDoS attack all but suspend operations.
“Five years ago, we used to be able to operate our facilities independently. As we move more to a digital landscape, it’s unavoidable to ensure our networks are secure.”
Last year, the company’s security strategy included site visits to all retail locations and facilities to educate employees. That was followed this year by an outside company building internal phishing attacks. Torrente said one of the first users to receive the suspicious message immediately sent out a company wide email.
“One of the challenges in getting tools in place that are affordable and manageable,” he noted, adding that though there were a plethora of products in the marketplace, they often require too much overhead for a midmarket IT staff to implement.