Interview: ROHAN VAIDYA, Regional Director-India, CyberArk: ‘Attackers are consistently refining their strategies’

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November 24, 2021 1:30 AM

So security teams are faced with a much greater attack surface to secure and manage, and this is identity security’s significance, he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview.

We have had conversations with a few business leader who have now started evaluating contracts based on where the vendors and suppliers are on their cloud journey.We have had conversations with a few business leader who have now started evaluating contracts based on where the vendors and suppliers are on their cloud journey.

Thinking like an attacker is the best route to effectively contain the inevitability of a cyberattack, says Rohan Vaidya, regional director – India at CyberArk, a leading information security firm offering Privileged Account Security. The company’s technology is utilised primarily in the financial services, energy, retail, healthcare and government markets. The number of identities that are being created— both humans and machines—has exploded. Identities touch sensitive data and assets all the time, every day. So security teams are faced with a much greater attack surface to secure and manage, and this is identity security’s significance, he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview.

Excerpts:
How has the pandemic impacted the security landscape in India?
India, just as in the rest of the world, has seen dramatic shifts in the way that attackers target critical data and assets, driven mostly by two key factors: hybrid work from home, and increased digital acceleration. Both of these have brought into sharp relief the importance of identity and its central importance in these two major shifts in the security landscape.

Do you see the significance of identity security increasing in the current scenario?
As we adapt to these phases of business growth and adaptation, we must also recognise the shifting nature of the cybersecurity risks that come hand in hand with them. At the centre of both of these is the concept of identity. Security teams need to understand how fundamentally important identity is to doing business, and by that we can include every aspect of business, from public to private sector, consumer, citizen, and supplier ecosystems.

The number of identities that are being created—both humans and machines— has exploded. Identities touch sensitive data and assets all the time, every day. So security teams are faced with a much greater attack surface to secure and manage, and this is identity security’s significance. They must understand how identities are defined, what processes they touch, what privileged access they need, and so on. Only by understanding this can they establish controls that reduce the risk of identity related attack.

What do you think of the pace of cloud adoption in India and the advantages that come with it?
In the recent past we have seen a very strong inclination for adoption of cloud with the Indian organisations. With the current pandemic situation, the business leaders are exploring as well as adopting disruptive technologies which gives them a faster time to market as well as an innovative opportunity to fight competition. Cloud adoption comes as a part of the strategy. Multi-cloud adoption has also been trending strongly within the enterprise customers considering business continuity and single vendor dependency. We have had conversations with a few business leader who have now started evaluating contracts based on where the vendors and suppliers are on their cloud journey.

From an IT standpoint, what are some of the key initiatives taken in ensuring business continuity?
As more companies adopt collaboration tools to support remote workforces, increase their automation capabilities, and move workloads to the cloud, attackers are consistently refining their strategies to innovate and exploit the shifting attack surface. Maintaining business continuity and resiliency in the face of dynamic threats starts with understanding their mindset. Motivations may vary—from financial gain and espionage to business disruption—but how an organisation is targeted remains relatively constant. First, motivated attackers will use common means to gain a foothold on a network, like phishing—to compromise an identity— or exploiting a known software vulnerability.

Once they have this foothold, they will typically seek to exploit privileged access to move laterally, for the purposes of reconnaissance, or to maintain persistence on the network to launch further attacks. Without this privileged access, the vast majority of attacks do not proceed beyond nascent stages. So key initiatives that companies are taking to maintain operations in the face of cyberattack include putting in place strong identity security programmes, centred on privileged access management. But perhaps the most effective change is to adopt an ‘assume breach’ mindset. Thinking like an attacker is the best route to effectively contain the inevitability of a cyberattack.

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