Aernout Reymer, the CSO of EMEA for BT, discusses the state of network security in the EMEA region.
When looking at the main security issues in the EMEA region, Aernout Reymer says that the issues he and his peers face in Europe regarding security are very familiar to the security community in other countries. Aernout: “On a daily basis, we’re faced with attacks carried out not only by those with a criminal-commercial agenda, but increasingly, by me-too activists looking to promote a cause, make a statement, or cause damage to reputations and profits. Over the last nine months, this cyber threat has very much become a cyber reality, and I see no signs of it abating.”
What causes him particular concern is that the sophistication of the attacks is increasing and that the availability of online hacking tools, which make it easier for amateurs to carry out effective hacks, is, likewise, increasing.
“So, while corporations spend millions of Pounds, Euros, and Dollars to secure networks”, Aernout continues, “our foes are getting their tools for free or relatively low cost, whether they are a hobbyist, criminal, or terrorist”.
“It’s very similar to an asymmetrical arms race, but strangely one where the super power, that is the corporation, is at a material disadvantage”.
The EU and cyber crime
What can the EU do? Aernout: “While legislation, regulation, and other initiatives act as a good safety net by requiring a minimum level of security and seek to diffuse the advantage that the hackers have been building, I believe that the EU still needs to do more and become more agile if the member states and all critical players within the EU markets really wish to make a dent in cyber crime”.
“BT seeks to provide its customers with a great level of protection for their digital information assets, and best-in-class security remains a strong element of our contracts and works with its clients to customize security offerings for those who recognize the need and want to be proactive in their approach”, the CSO of EMEA for BT adds.
“We particularly see this in the banking and credit card processing verticals where information is highly prized by hackers. But these hackers also can be after technology for the latest car engine or airplane design, or bio-genetic research results: information that requires major investments for years in R&D, but which can be copied and obtained with far less effort through corporate espionage. As the value of the asset goes up, so does the risk level, and security must keep up also in these industries”
“What complicates all this, of course, is that Europe, and even the EU for that matter, is not homogenous. There are widely differing levels of development, and while the wealthier countries may be at the point where the value of personally identifiable information is accepted and there is a great deal of corporate wealth, both intellectual and capital, to be protected, it is certainly not that way across the region. Even neighboring countries have vastly differing risk appetites and shortcuts to wealth may be perfectly acceptable”, Aernout continues.
“This problem is one of the reasons that I would like to see more standardization of regulations relating to cyber security across the EU in the future. As I see it, if we can solve these problems now and create a level playing field for both service providers and consumers, we’ll be much better placed to face the fast-developing Advanced Persistent Threats and cyber warfare. With some countries experimenting with this, even under the guise of uncontrolled groups of sympathetic amateur hacktivists, we need to be prepared for the time when there are full-on assaults against a state’s critical infrastructure, which includes assets and capabilities controlled by companies, and protect our information and our wealth”.
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