August 18, 2014 By David Cygan 3 min read

The ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ Guide to Black Hat and Security Intelligence

“Found my coat and grabbed my hat / Made the bus in seconds flat,” from “A Day in the Life” on The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” perfectly describes my harried journey to my first Black Hat conference to talk to customers about security intelligence and information security.

Just as Paul McCartney huffs out of breath in the song, so was I — I didn’t want to be late for the conference on my first day, but the monorail was closed, so I had to rush to take a bus to the Mandalay. When I arrived, I quickly picked up my credentials and made my way to the exhibition hall.

The hall was a sight to behold and reminded me of the cast of characters featured on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Though some vendors were dressed in suits, uniforms and casual clothes, there were also plenty of people in costumes. Aliens, women with pink hair and vikings filled the hall, hawking their wares as if they were at a medicine show. Different vendors had point solutions, addressed fraud and had several solutions for different aspects of security.

3 Things to Look for When Deciding What Security Company to Partner With

That’s when it hit me. The chaos of Black Hat was just like the chaos of the information security industry. With all that noise, how does a customer decide which security company to partner with?

In making “Sgt. Pepper’s,” The Beatles took some time off, cleared their minds of the noise around them and then dedicated themselves to writing the album. Customers should do the same and consider the following when choosing a security intelligence partner:

1. Look for Leaders

First, customers should look for a vendor that is a leader in analysts’ reports, and not just in one or two areas. This vendor should lead or be a visionary in most areas of the reports. Attackers are highly sophisticated, so customers need a company that is on top of its game to protect their company’s assets. Because The Beatles were visionaries, “Sgt. Pepper’s” was a groundbreaking album that forever changed the music industry. Customers should look for that same kind of innovation and thought leadership when considering their security needs.

2. Make Sure the Framework Is Meticulous

These companies should also have a well thought-out security architecture or framework in place. Fraudsters are relentless and are attacking systems from all directions. There are plenty of opportunities for vulnerabilities, from users to the network and applications that could be infected by malware. Having this stable architecture allows customers to take a cohesive approach to thwarting these attackers. It took The Beatles 34 hours to complete “A Day in the Life,” when one of their earliest songs took only 10 hours to create. Writing this song combined the work of many artists and instruments and required McCartney and John Lennon to collaborate — no small task!

3. Integration Is Key for Security Intelligence

The company’s architecture should also be integrated. When integrating security, companies are basically casting a large, protective net over their assets.

Consider, for instance, IBM’s security architecture. Each of the main areas of people, data, applications, fraud protection and infrastructure are integrated and work together to form a protective barrier. For example, the “people” pillar works in conjunction with the “data” pillar; thus, privileged access to the customer’s data is tracked and monitored. When anomalous activity is detected, the security intelligence event monitor discovers it and shuts it down. If this was dishonest activity — not just an accident — the data is stored to do complete incident forensics.

Imagine what would happen if there wasn’t this level of integration in “A Day in the Life”? The world would not have been graced with this work of art.

Read the IT Executive Guide: Transitioning to Total Security Intelligence

The Final Chord

The final, iconic chord in “A Day in the Life” is brilliant, with all the artists striking one note to draw listeners to a singular point. So many parts of the song worked together to weave a cohesive story, and everything came together with that unified last chord.

With all the noise out there today, it can be difficult to decide who to partner with for information security needs. But if companies choose a partner that is highly rated by analysts and has a well-defined and integrated architecture, they will be able to rest easy that everything has ultimately come together to keep them protected.

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