IP Expo attacks the issue of IT security

Another week, another trade show to explore. This time, on behalf of Babel, I ventured east to London’s Docklands to visit IP Expo Europe 2016. Encompassing six strands – cloud, cyber security, networks and infrastructure, data analytics, devops and open source – the event showcases the latest IT innovations, with a range of sessions and talks on how best to deploy these in order to drive business.

With October marking the beginning of Cyber Security Month, I thought it fitting to make a beeline for the cyber security area at the Expo yesterday. IT and software are the mainstay of any digital business – and which credible business today would not call itself digital? – so cyber security should be central to any business strategy. As Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure commented at the show, “computer security people” no longer just secure computers; “what we are really doing is securing the whole of society. We’re securing the whole infrastructure.”

Despite cyber-attacks permeating every area of the IT industry and beyond, security isn’t yet taken seriously in certain sectors, according to a panel session on day two of the Expo. Speakers Alicia Asin Pérez, Libelium; James Hatch, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence; David Spezia, Tableau; Harvey Lewis, Deloitte MCS; and Jamie Moss, Ovum, raised the issue that, in the expanding Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, security and privacy continue to be overlooked.

Hackers are now taking advantage of advances in IoT tech and are targeting connected devices via Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Hackers take aim at websites by directing large amounts of data to the sites via an unwitting consumer’s IP device; webcams, printers and digital video recorders can all be hijacked, with a recent DDoS attack incorporating an IoT botnet logged by Akamai at 600Gbps.

Also discussing techniques and new opportunities for exploitation was James Lynne, Global Head of Security Research at IT security specialist Sophos. He provided visitors with a comprehensive tour of cybercrime tactics in his keynote presentation on day one of the show. Lynne and his team at Sophos create products to provide end-to-end network security, however, in many cases the weak link within a business is not your technology, but your employees.

Dan Sloshberg, Director of Product Marketing at Mimecast highlighted the danger of phishing scams during his presentation at IP Expo. Ninety-one per cent of attacks start with a phishing scam, according to Sloshberg, and nearly all of these use email as the main way to penetrate an organisation. Tactics like URL rewriting, URL scanning, real-time analysis, sandboxing and inspecting email attachments should all be second nature to employees. You can buy all the software and hardware in the world and lock down networks, but without educating your workforce attacks will continue.

Sharing ideas on digital transformation with visitors to their stand at the IP Expo were our friends at NETSCOUT, a provider of real-time service assurance and cyber security solutions. The buzz on the stand was about the premiere of documentary maker Werner Herzog’s latest film. Produced in collaboration with NETSCOUT, Lo and Behold offers a unique exploration of our connected world, explored through interviewing tech visionaries like Elon Musk and roboticist Sebastian Thrun. I’m excited to be going along to the premiere itself, and the film will also be launching with the UK’s first ever virtual premiere – featuring a live Q&A with Herzog himself – on Thursday 13th October.

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