Friday, April 12, 2013

Closing the Loop: Part of an Assumption of Breach Security Paradigm

Tim O'Reilly gave a talk recently at Stanford University on the importance for startup companies to "close the loop" with their customers. Uber was used to demonstrate the concept. Both the Uber driver and the Uber customer know a lot about each other. They can track each other's location. The customer knows what the driver looks like as well as his license plate number. They can communicate with each other prior to the vehicle arriving. There's immediate feedback required on the customer's experience with the driver. There's almost no uncertainty in the entire service chain of an Uber hire. Uber has closed the loop with its customers.

As I listened to Tim speak, I immediately related it to the uncertain world of cyber security. Think of Uber as a U.S. corporation or government agency. Think of the Uber customer as the adversary state or non-state actor who's breaking in to steal valuable data. What cyber security tools "close the loop" between the two?

If you adopt an "Assumption of Breach" paradigm, then you've accepted that attackers may already be active in your network. Any tool which provides you with information on their movements in real-time "closes the loop". Then it just becomes a question of weighing cost against effectiveness and spending your dollars wisely on those tools.

Another way to close the loop with an adversary who's targeting your company or agency is to know what they want. This article in The Telegraph describes how MI-5 has issued a warning to British universities that their research on graphene and quantum computing is being stolen by Russia and China and, eventually, informing those countries' patent development work:
Researchers have already warned that work on graphene is moving abroad, with Britain funding extra research by our own academics but seeing their 54 patents outstripped by 2,204 from China.
Overall, cyber crime costs the UK £27billion per year, official figures suggest, with universities now identified as targets.
Researchers from Manchester, for instance, including academics Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov who won the 2010 Nobel Prize, have been warned that their servers could be targets. Graphene is a kind of two-dimensional carbon which is one of the thinnest, lightest, strongest and most conductive materials known to man. Identified only in 2004, it is harder than diamond, just a single molecule thick and conducts electricity.
Threats are posed both by hackers infiltrating UK university computers and from the theft of data from computers used by academics travelling abroad. 
My company, Taia Global, with financial support from our angel investors, is currently in development on a product which knows what the research priorities are in potential adversary states and can predict what will be stolen from our customers; thereby closing the loop between the victim and the thief and giving the victim time to take the necessary steps to protect those targeted documents. This is particularly useful when a company has millions of files, cannot protect all of them, and doesn't have a reliable way to classify those which are of value to an adversary or competitor.

Our product development cycle is currently in early Alpha. If you'd like to receive more information about this product as we get closer to beta, please contact us.

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