The CIA Secret to Cybersecurity That No One Seems to Get

Cyber Security

The CIA Secret to Cybersecurity That No One Seems to Get

IF YOU WANT to keep yourself up at night, spend some time reading about the latest developments in cybersecurity. Airplanes hacked, cars hacked, vulnerabilities in a breathtaking range of sensitive equipment from TSA locks to voting booths to medical devices.

The big picture is even scarier. Former NSA Director Mike McConnell suspects China has hacked “every major corporation” in the US. Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks revealed the US government has its own national and international hacking to account for. And the Ponemon Institute says 110 million Americans saw their identities compromised in 2014. That’s one in two American adults.

The system is broken. It isn’t keeping us, our companies, or our government safe. Worse yet, no one seems to know how to fix it.

How Did We Get Here?
One deceptive truth seems to drive much of the cybersecurity industry down a rabbit hole: If you keep bad actors and bad software out of your system, you have nothing to worry about.

Malicious actors target “endpoints”—any device or sensor connected to a network—to break into that network. Network security seeks to protect those endpoints with firewalls, certificates, passwords, and the like, creating a secure perimeter to keep the whole system safe.

This wasn’t difficult in the early days of the Internet and online threats. But today, most private networks have far too many endpoints to properly secure. In an age of “Bring Your Own Device,” the cloud, remote access, and the Internet of Things, there are too many vulnerabilities hackers can exploit. As Ajay Arora, CEO of file security company Vera, notes, there is no perimeter anymore. It’s a dream of the past.

But the security paradigm remains focused on perimeter defense because, frankly, no one knows what else to do. To address threats, security experts should assume compromise – that hackers and malware already have breached their defenses, or soon will – and instead classify and mitigate threats.

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