From Predictions to Prevention: The Big Three in Network Security

Every year McAfee Labs publishes its McAfee Labs Threats Predictions Report that identifies the top threats it foresees affecting the security landscape over the next year.  The recently published 2014 Threats Predictions Report highlights the top forecasted threats based on directions in attack behavior seen 2013.

When I review the predictions for 2014, it’s validating to know that at McAfee we are always one step ahead of the security challenges – thanks to McAfee Labs, the world’s leading source for threat research, threat intelligence, and cybersecurity thought leadership.  Again this year, I wasn’t all that surprised by the predictions being made by McAfee Labs mainly because my teams of engineers, product developers, and product managers have already begun incorporating targeted protection into our solutions.

So, what’s in store for 2014?  McAfee Labs makes seven broad threat predictions in its recent report.  Because I lead the Network Security business side of things at McAfee, I am especially interested in the predictions that will guide the development of our network products.  So here’s what’s on our radar from a network and content security perspective.

1.       Social Attacks

Social attacks leverage the large user bases of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others.  The use of social media is so pervasive that by the end of 2014, McAfee Labs believes that no business will be immune to social attacks.  Risks include exposing confidential data, losing authentication credentials to cybercriminals, and endpoint infection by malicious payloads hosted on social media sites. It’s important that organizations enforce social media guidelines and best-practices, while also evaluating their security posture to ensure defense-in-depth with a combination of email, web, data loss prevention, and endpoint protection.

2.       New Stealth Attacks

McAfee Labs predicts that cybercriminal gangs will deploy new stealth attacks that will be more difficult to detect and stop.  These bad actors are fast at work designing zero-day and custom attacks that can circumvent signature-based defenses and other traditional security defenses.  So what are organizations supposed to do?  The key is a defense-in-depth strategy that combines network IPS, web security, and Next Generation Firewall to protect the network.  Sandboxing, with static analysis that can detect and defend against sandbox-aware malware, should be integrated within these solutions.

3.        Big Data Security Required

The bottom line here is that organizations must employ ‘big data’ security analytics so they can identify the sophisticated advanced evasion technique attacks and advanced persistent threats that can disable the business.  We call our use of big data McAfee Global Threat Intelligence or McAfee GTI.   Fast and accurate identification of new threats is important, but equally important is that a big data tool needs to be tightly integrated with technologies that can act on that knowledge immediately.  Our solutions like IPS, NGFW, Email, Web, Endpoint, and Real Time ePO are all integrated with GTI to both react to detected threats and remediate the damage they have caused.

As the year unfolds, my teams will be working to develop and integrate the technology necessary to address the risks that McAfee Labs believes will impact our network security solutions.  We’ve got experience and ‘intelligence’ – two of the critical keys to prevention.  I think we’ve got this.  Thanks McAfee Labs.

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