Security Roundup: Automation and Gamification, Barracuda, Attivo and SecurityFirst


Automation and gamification could be two big keys to winning the war against cybercriminals.

That’s according to a new report by McAfee. It includes a survey of 300 senior security managers and 650 security professionals in public-sector and private-sector organizations with 500 or more employees in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Singapore, Australia and Japan.

The growing threat landscape, and cybersecurity skills and talent shortage, are driving automation as an essential ingredient in fighting cyberattackers, according to McAfee. By pairing human intelligence with automated tasks and putting human-machine teaming in practice, automated programs handle basic security protocols while practitioners have their time freed up to proactively address unknown threats.

Grant Bourzikas, McAfee’s chief information security officer, tells us that automation increasingly is going to play a role in overall cybersecurity.

McAfee's Grant Bourzikas

McAfee’s Grant Bourzikas

“New technology into the industry typically beats the new threat actors; it doesn’t become a problem until there’s enough widespread adoption, and once that adoption hits, the attackers start to target and then it loses its effectiveness,” he said. “We’ve seen this over time with companies that are the hottest new thing, and then all of a sudden a threat actor can beat the software. So I think one of the key things is the ability to roll and stay current with software. So how do we automate that [more easily]? How do we automate patching? How do we automate configuration? How do we automate identity and access controls? Those are going to be very core things.”

According to the survey:

  • Eighty-one percent believe their organization’s cybersecurity would be safer if it implemented greater automation.
  • One-quarter say that automation frees up time to focus on innovation and value-added work.
  • Nearly one-third (32 percent) of those not investing in automation say it is due to lack of in-house skills.

And automation isn’t necessarily about saving money, Bourzikas said.

“Security changes so quickly that it takes a lot of time to learn about it, and how do we stay ahead of the next attacker? It’s really an automation and a CI (continuous improvement) exercise — what could we have done better?” he said. “Where I think we are on this skills shortage is if we can automate, it will allow us to start to overcome some of the work that’s on us so we can focus on the higher-value stuff. The cloud is a good example. With the movement to the different cloud providers, how we automate those repeatable processes to build out environments quickly is a very key message in doing it fresh.”

Most organizations say they are already using some form of automation in their cybersecurity processes; however, much of that appears to be at a very basic level and automation is not being used as effectively as it could be, with a lot of room for improvement, according to McAfee. For example, use of automation is still relatively low for key cybersecurity tasks such as identifying all locations of a threat (29 percent), correcting and remediating threats (33 percent), detecting threats across some of the IT architecture (33 percent) and threat containment (36 percent).

Gamification, the concept of applying elements of game-playing to non-game activities, is growing in importance as a tool to help …

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