Enterprises have mistakenly come to believe that endpoint compromises are unavoidable and the new normal. In fact, over the last three years, many companies have had two or more disclosed data breaches including: Aetna, Aflac, Anthem, Boeing, CVS Health, Equifax, Humana, Hyatt Hotels, IRS, Intuit, Kaiser Foundation, Neiman Marcus, Rite Aid, Sabre, T-Mobile, Uber, Walgreen, Walmart, and Yahoo.
Jon Loew, CEO of AppGuard, endpoint cybersecurity software provider, recently sat down with Inside Counsel in an exclusive interview. With $100 million in total funding, most recently closing a round in September, AppGuard has risen to the occasion in 2017. Its unique approach to endpoint security has secured its clients from some of the biggest hacks this year, such as OurMine and WannaCry. As an insider excelling in the space over the last year, Loew elaborated on key trends he’s seen in 2017.
“There are perspectives that characterize the customers of these enterprises as the victims rather than the victims themselves,” he explained. “Rarely is a data breach truly unavoidable. More often than not, each results from a mistake or a choice. No cyber budget is large enough to mitigate all possible risks.”
According to Loew, choices must be made as to how large the budget should be and then how that budget should be allocated. These choices change for the bigger, more secure budgets when the impacts to the end-customers are large enough to impact the enterprise enough to warrant change. And therefore, some don’t regard the enterprise as the victim.
Today, cybersecurity vendors profit far more from treating symptoms than root causes. Imagine all of the cybersecurity tools, functions and personnel that exist because of chronically compromised enterprise endpoints, for instance. There’s another dimension to this. In addition, vendors profit from a chronic and pervasive cybersecurity skills shortage, because it creates demand for tools to alleviate that.
“Now, imagine if malicious code attacks were suddenly made obsolete, how many products, services and staffing requirements would vanish or diminish?” Loew explained. “Flip this over. Consider the profit centers of the vendors. Those revenue streams that only treat symptoms far outweigh those that actually treat root causes. Large vendors therefore have a conflict of interest.”
Prevention products threaten their greater revenue streams–smaller vendors are less conflicted; they are the potential disruptors. However, big vendors exert the most thought leadership and mindshare. Big vendors tend to offer broad product portfolios that address all customer needs. If they copy what others do, they retain or grow their market share. If, however, they solve root problems, the bulk of the profits can evaporate.
So why have enterprises come to believe that numerous endpoint compromises are unavoidable and the new normal? The big four antivirus vendors have failed to protect enterprise computers for the last decade, prompting many to publish/state that “antivirus is dead,” per Loew. Application whitelisting failed to defeat in-memory and non-malware attacks. Machine learning enhanced products that magically tell good from bad files are susceptible to the same obfuscation tactics as antivirus, and they miss in-memory and non-malware attacks. EDR and behavior analytics products, which have a lot of the same hype, allow malicious code to detonate before these products do what they do.
He added, “Industry pundits have preached resilience, adding that it’s not a matter of if the adversaries will get in but when. Big Data will auto-magically find the intrusions. All combined, many believe endpoint compromise prevention is unattainable, and the new normal.”
Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Freelance Journalist for Corporate Counsel and InsideCounsel, where she covers intellectual property, legal technology, patent litigation, cybersecurity, innovation, and more.