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Monday, 06 June 2016 16:52

Time to rethink security, says CTO


The chief technology officer of a major software company has called for a rethink of IT security.

"We need to rethink what security looks like," CA Technologies chief technology officer Otto Berkes told iTWire.

"Security needs to be very dynamic, with a certain degree of intelligence."

Berkes envisages a situation where systems become more "self-aware" in the sense of being able to detect when they are under attack and taking steps to mitigate the situation.

Identifying suspicious activity (such as a privileged account being used to suddenly download large amounts of data) and then mirroring what a human would do in response if the situation was visible is "absolutely in the domain of machine learning", he said.

Even if we did not want systems to respond autonomously, they could at least bring unusual events to human attention.

Such defences could draw on the wide range of available information. For example, an airline ticket in an executive's email account provides a clue about his or her whereabouts on a particular day – so any activity from that location would be less suspicious than at other times.

It's not quite that simple, as it would be fairly easy to send a fake airline ticket to the intended victim just ahead of an attack, but it does illustrate the type of data that could be used. The point is that such measures could work automatically in the background, without the continuing involvement of security experts.

Berkes predicts increased interest in and development of machine learning during the coming year, and the beginning of a wider deployment across more use cases.

It is "coming out of the labs and into practical applications" but "it's not going to be an overnight thing".

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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