Security threats are on the rise as the economy declines, and the solution will likely come from collaborative partnerships that span all IT platforms and international boundaries.
That was the message McAfee President and CEO Dave DeWalt emphasized in his keynote speech Wednesday at RSA Conference 2009.
DeWalt painted a grim picture of the security landscape. Consumer confidence has gone down while unemployment and has risen, he said. And as the economy has gone into a tailspin, cybercrime has seen a sharp upward spike, with more malware detected in 2008 than in the previous five years combined. Last year, 80 percent of cybercrimes were financially motivated, he added.
Numerous variants of the Conficker worm have infected millions of machines. And data loss has cost the world's organizations more than one trillion dollars.
Meanwhile, recent malware attacks on government infrastructure indicate that cyberterrorism might also be trending up. "Clearly we're starting to see the armament of cyberwarfare," DeWalt said. "It's getting to be a perfect storm."
Many organizations are vastly underprotected or fail to regularly update patches and security software, which have opened up copious threat vectors for attackers, DeWalt said.
In addition, the explosion of malicious threats in the last year can also be attributed to lack of user education and best security practices, as well as lack of comprehensive security. "They [malware victims] don't have host intrusion or a data loss products," he said. "I can't tell you how many CSOs say that they can't get to all the projects they need to have deployed."
One of the solutions, DeWalt proposed, would be to build comprehensive security architecture across numerous IT platforms that would be able to interoperate with companies' existing network infrastructure. That architecture would ultimately allow organizations to create correlating reports for every department and system, while allowing greater overall visibility into their organization's network, DeWalt said.
To address these challenges, DeWalt said that McAfee is taking the lead on a cross-platform security architecture that interoperates with other components of companies' IT infrastructure. That cross-platform collaboration provides IT administrators a panoramic view into their network and allows communication across the threat vectors to shore up otherwise unseen security holes.
"It's a huge part of what we're trying to build with our architecture," DeWalt said, adding that "the window of time you're exposed is minimized."
That same type of collaborative architecture will ultimately be required to extend across international borders and throughout global networks as the threats continue to become more sophisticated and the attacks more prevalent, DeWalt said.
"The most depressing part of this is that we do not have a global architecture in place," he said. "We need to work together. Undoubtedly, (attacks) will continue to increase."