A global crisis, with criminals holding hostage

‘Our dependency on technology will not go away’ says Raj Samani, Chief Scientist at McAfee

16th September, 2021
A global crisis, with criminals holding hostage

In the run up to the Cyber Security Virtual Summit on the 5th October we spoke with Raj Samani, Chief Scientist at McAfee about his cutting edge work and his views on the biggest threats businesses face today.

What position do you hold/ what are your main responsibilities?

I am the Chief Scientist for McAfee Enterprise. What this entails is maintaining oversight of our threat research, and intelligence teams. Effectively ensuring that we understand the latest attacks, and incorporate these findings into our products.

Of course this is an over simplification, for example it will include engagement with law enforcement to support active investigations to disrupt criminal activity as just one beneficiary for our work.

Tell us a bit about your experience to date?

I previously held the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) within the healthcare sector. This role proceeded a number of consulting roles in the field of cyber security where I had the opportunity to hone my technical skills. This resulted in co-authoring multiple books, and papers across multiple disciplines within technology.

To be honest, I have always taken a keen interest in technology. In particular cyber security fascinated me, even when the industry was just forming. I began on the IT Helpdesk and began the long process of breaking into security and to be honest have not looked back since.

What are the biggest cyber security risks businesses face today?

Well ransomware clearly is the risk that hogs the headlines, and for good measure. We are facing a global crisis, with criminals holding hostage the very services we deem as critical for our society to effectively function. What is particularly troubling is that this is not only about the disruption of services, but the adversaries are finding new ways to extort higher payments. For example the theft and leaking of corporate data; which will have significant ramifications for victims.

What challenges and opportunities are there in tackling these risks?

The challenge is one of complexity. The digital footprint deployed by many organizations is burgeoning with systems interconnected and entirely dependent on so many factors. Managing the risk demands the need to understand the risk, and that becomes challenging particularly in light with how we are adapting to the way we work.

The opportunity of course is harnessing this, and empowering a workforce to for example work remotely. It is an opportunity to establish a competitive edge over the competition to make the technology work for your business, whilst mitigating the risk to a level that is acceptable to the business.

What steps can businesses take to protect themselves in an evolving risk landscape?

It is of paramount important to stay abreast of the risks, learning/reading about new tactics and more importantly determining what applies to you and what does not. There is so much noise, being able to filter is critical.

Where do you see cyber security practice and strategy heading in the next 5 years?

Our dependency on technology will not go away. In fact one has to assume we will be more dependent, therefore we will witness the growth of more outsourced models particularly in the field of security.

Whilst this is unlikely to be the most left field prediction it is imperative to note that the adversary will adapt and leverage new channels, therefore this outsourcing of the work will demand continuous adaption as our dependency on new ways of working becomes ubiquitous.

To hear more from Raj as well as leading CIOs and CISOs from the HSE, Ornua, Permanent TSB, Goodbody, AIB, Ervia and more, BOOK YOUR TICKET to the Cyber Security Summit today.

Business Post readers get access to 2 for 1 on tickets by using the code: BPCS21 when registering online.

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