Three lessons to take away from Intel's Focus 15 security conference

Intel’s Focus 15 security conference at the beautiful Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas has come to a close, rounding off two days of keynotes, interviews and breakout sessions (mixed with an obligatory visit to the Blackjack table).

The conference was a very timely one, what with a spate of recent security breaches at high profile companies bringing the conversation into the mainstream. I’m talking of course about the likes of TalkTalk, Marks & Spencer and British Gas, all of which occurred in the last couple of weeks alone.

So, obviously there was plenty to talk about and Intel did a good job in making sure all the key issues were addressed, but what did I take away from the event? Here are five things that stuck with me the most:

Grey clouds ahead

Cloud computing has been a hugely hyped technology that has the potential to improve business processes for SMBs and enterprises alike in so many ways. Mix it in with the Internet of Things (that other much publicised trend) and the possibilities are endless, but with these opportunities also come some serious threats.

And the problem isn’t that those threats exist, but that companies either aren’t taking them seriously enough or, more likely, just don’t understand the risks.

A huge amount of customer data is already being stored in cloud solutions and this is only going to increase as the IoT industry continues to grow. As we are all too aware, the theft of customer data is big business for hackers – who are able to sell this information to the highest bidders on the Dark Web – and if security isn’t made the top priority, cyber criminals will have a field day and consumers will be the ones hung out to dry.

I predict a riot

One of the things Chris Young, Intel’s senior vice president and general manager and Brian Dye, Intel’s head of products, spoke about during Tuesday’s keynote was the key role that analytics can play in predicting cyber attacks before they happen.

Predictive analytics plays a key role in Intel’s new strategy to security, where the focus is on “going on the offensive” and being the hunter rather than the hunted. Intel’s Threat Defense Lifecycle – with the mantra ‘protect, detect and correct’ – uses analytics to “detect the undetectable” and provide threat intelligence through real time hunting.

More importantly, it’s about detecting “the one per cent of attacks that really matter,” which can all too often get lost in the swathe of threats that companies are having to deal with every day. The McAfee Endpoint Security and McAfee Active Response solutions provide this active threat detection and, whilst going on the offensive might not be everyones first instinct, it might soon become a necessity.

Security skills wanted, apply within

There has been plenty of talk around the growing digital skills gap and, in the security industry specifically, this is now more prevalent than ever. The talent shortage was mentioned on multiple occasions during the keynote by several different Intel executives, as well as Docusign chief information security officer Vanessa Pegueros, which is a real worry seeing as the hackers don’t appear to be slowing down.

Brian Dye revealed the results of a study that highlighted this, where 60 per cent of respondents said that the shortage of top quality talent is the biggest problem in an industry that is struggling to keep up with every more sophisticated cyber attacks.

Whether this is down to misconceptions about the industry, a lack of support from the education sector or the quality of the training young professionals are receiving, something needs to be done to turn the tide and a company with the knowledge and experience of Intel might be the one to do it.