In the 1970s, Creeper, computer software designed by researcher Bob Thomas, could wander throughout ARPANET (The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), leaving a breadcrumb trail wherever it went. 'I'm the creeper, catch me if you can,' it said. Ray Tomlinson, the creator of email, created the programme Reaper, which hunted for and eliminated Creeper. Reaper was the first computer worm since it was not only the first example of antivirus software, but it was also the first self-replicating programme.
Since then, the internet has expanded, and globalisation has brought human civilisation together through an elaborate but collective network that reaches everyone on the surface of the planet. With everyone always connected to the network, the entry point and vulnerable surface area are growing by the day. Only ten years ago, cyber security solutions were diverse, with separate portfolios catering to different niches and specialisations. As time passes, threat actors' strategies have evolved to become more organised and centralised.
Fortinet has been in the digital security industry for almost two decades, and its drive and passion have always been to create fungible security solutions. We were able to share a few thoughts on the cyber security environment, particularly in this region, during a recent media tour with Vishak Raman at Fortinet's new office in Equatorial Plaza, Kuala Lumpur.
The Human Firewall Dilemma
When questioned about short-term and long-term solutions to the region's cyber security skill gap, Vishak stated, "Fortinet participated and partnered with leading technological local universities, such as UTP, UMP, and MMU, to integrate cyber security coursework into their 1st-year curriculum." "Our goal is to have a million students certified."
In the immediate future, it is anticipated that 400 students will graduate from Multimedia University Cyberjaya, having been certified and benefiting from the Fortinet-sponsored NSE Training. This is one of Fortinet's initiatives to enhance and strengthen the human firewall in the region. Another answer to this problem is the integration of modules into each of Fortinet's products, which would allow businesses to teach their employees, for example, against phishing threats.
The paradigm change in the working environment is the major factor that contributes to humans being the weakest link in an organisation's digital security. Working from home or hybrid working modules are now being introduced in most firms due to the benefits to both individuals and the company. Nonetheless, the use of networks that are not protected within the company's security parameters may provide another entry point for hostile threats and attacks.
With humans as users, endpoint devices are now progressively also becoming vulnerable to incoming cyber-attacks. As a result, Fortinet has been expanding its portfolio and collaborating with wireless solution companies such as Linksys to deliver security to wireless networks. Thus, this brought our conversation with Vishak to the next point.
CSMA on Security Fabric
According to Gartner, CSMA (Cyber Security Mesh Approach) provides "a modular and scalable solution to extending security controls, even to distributed assets." Their proposed framework is intended for hybrid and multi-cloud environments that may be accessed by a variety of devices and applications.
The mesh method is used when security control points for SIEM, SOAR, and other systems need to communicate with one another. Fortinet is a pioneer in the development of this security fabric. "The control points integrated into the security fabric will allow seamless orchestration of the identification of a threat and the quick remediation of it," says Vishak.
"And how we incorporate security automation in the future of the security fabric," the conversation progressed. Without a doubt, security automation is the way of the future in the cyber security scene. The goal here is to have great products that communicate with one another during a threat, not just great products. And how do we feed threat intelligence from one security control point to the next? Automation is the solution.
AI, or machine learning, elevates the communication of all control points to another height. Of course, human intervention is feasible, but identifying and mitigating a threat can take several days to weeks. It is not the case with AI, which can orchestrate detection and remediation in a fraction of a second. "So, consumers can log into the security fabric, have effective communication with the endpoint, cloud instance, and application," Vishak explained.
Machine learning is used to analyse the pattern and deliver appropriate algorithmic input to the system in order to baseline normal traffic against spiked traffic activity, which characterises a specific sector or company in Malaysia, for example. It is crucial, particularly in Network Detection and Response (NDR), to identify a network activity spike. Thus, it is necessary to construct a baseline pattern for the network activity of a typical business operation in order to compare it to a phenomenon such as a threat actor-caused increase in FTP protocol usage.
Fortinet has acquired Volon, an external attack surface monitoring solution, to add to their arsenal of security control points in their security fabric. Through the automation sorting algorithm, these individual control points will give back all threat intelligence to all security solutions. "So, you identify an attack once, and you are protected on all control points," Vishak explained. What's more, Fortinet's security fabric heterogenous infrastructure offers open connectors with over 480 open ecosystem partners and competitors. The automation will allow the fabric to communicate not just within the Fortinet ecosystem, but also with third-party solutions.
As we neared the end of that fateful evening, Vishak projected, "Where Fortinet is headed is to address cyber security holistically." Fortinet’s 5 years of developing the security fabric from the ground up is existing proof of everyone at Fortinet's efforts.
As the world enters a new phase of globalisation in which everyone and everything is digitally connected, the next phase of cyber security is the convergence of security solutions into a unified security fabric to combat the rapid upheaval of the digital threat landscape.