CSM-ACE 2018: Palo Alto Networks Interview - How Technology and Security Are Moving in Opposite Directions

“Today’s problem is that the world of technology and the world of security designed to protect technology are moving in opposite directions”, said Alvin Tan, Regional Head, ASEAN, Palo Alto Networks. At the CSM-ACE event last month, Alvin addressed the crowd during the opening keynote speech titled “The Game Changer: Next Generation Cyber Security in 4th Industrial Revolution”, where he pointed out six major trends that highlight the differences between the paths taken by the world of technology and the world of cybersecurity throughout the years.

In his words, the world of technology has evolved to become simpler, more convenient, natively integrated, more automated, requiring fewer people to do the same tasks, and designed to prevent future problems.

On the contrary, the world of cybersecurity has become more difficult, increasingly complex, isolated, mostly manual, requiring more people to operate, and depends on reactive response to deal with problems.

And that’s the reason Alvin feels that traditional cybersecurity defences have failed. While five or ten attacks a day were considered a lot 20 years ago when he first started his career, today, that number can rise into the hundreds of thousands. With data being proliferated across ever expanding hybrid, multi-cloud environments, the edge and IoT devices, it becomes very hard to keep up and securing your endpoints manually or merely reacting to each attack is no longer feasible.

What today’s organisations need is a next-gen approach which takes advantage of shared threat intelligence. To which Alvin said, “I think in security, as a defender, we need things to be integrated and automated. So the next generation [of security], basically, is a platform and it needs to be built from the ground up to be able to automate, defend and prevent the attacks at scale. We at Palo Alto Networks believe that when any one of our customers sees a threat, every single other customer should also be protected.”

However, Alvin did concede that the marketing and messaging from many of the cybersecurity vendors are starting to sound very similar with a large number claiming to offer next-generation solutions, even the legacy providers. Therefore, it’s difficult for customers to tell one solution from the other.

As for Palo Alto Networks’ credentials, Alvin highlighted that Gartner has said that the company is the largest cybersecurity player in the market and has been recognised as a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for enterprise network firewalls seven times in a row with the “highest in ability to execute” as well as “furthest in completeness of vision”.

“We serve 85 of the top Fortune 100 customers and out of the Global 2000’s, we have over 60% of them using our solution.” Nevertheless, a good reputation can only get you so far. Alvin said his team at Palo Alto Networks are always willing to go every step of the way in the effort to understand customers’ architectures and help them come up with a design that will help them best secure their environments.

He continued, “In helping these customers on their journey, we find that security is such a tough topic that oftentimes we will go into deep dive conversations with the customers, we will run workshops with the customers to help them understand our solutions.”

Alvin hoped that Palo Alto Network’s presence at an event like the CSM-ACE would not only help him and his team spread awareness on cybersecurity best practices and what next-gen security technology actually entails, but also to help customers understand what his company can provide and help them protect their digital way of life by preventing cyber breaches.

He ended the interview by sharing with us how next-generation cybersecurity solutions must possess four key capabilities that can make this possible:

  1. Complete visibility” of your entire network, endpoints, users and applications
  2. Reduce the attack surface
  3. Prevent known threats, through tried and tested methods such as signature-based algorithms or shared intelligence
  4. Prevent new forms of attacks that are popping up every day at increasing pace through automation or AI

Last but not least, the solution must be able to achieve these consistently across all business locations, be it at the headquarters, branch offices, across public/private clouds, SaaS applications, mobile users or IoT devices.

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