Neighborhood Watch: Uniting the Data Security Community Through Software Development Kits

April 13, 2018
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3 min read

Back in the 1970s, the National Sheriffs’ Association made the Neighborhood Watch program a national initiative. The program as we know it today stemmed from communities looking to enlist citizens to help combat the growing rate of burglaries, especially in rural and suburban areas where police forces were not as highly concentrated.

While the National Neighborhood Watch initially served to lend extra eyes and ears to combating crime, today it has evolved into a proactive and community-oriented program that brings neighbors together to work toward a common goal for the good of the group.

According to the program’s official website, crime rates are lower in communities where citizens are most engaged. Given the increasing sophistication and volume of cybercrime, the data security community would do well take a page out of the Neighborhood Watch playbook to boost collaboration and innovation among cyberdefenders.

Evolving Threat Vectors and the Growing Cybercrime Community

In 2017, there were 25 percent fewer data breaches than the year before, according to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2018. This seems like good news on the surface, but the headlines we saw throughout the past year tell a different story.

Despite the decreased number of breaches, the impact of cybercrime was still felt broadly. We saw businesses pay cybercriminals $8 billion worldwide to gain access to their data after being locked out by ransomware. Many of these ransoms were paid in anonymizing and cybercrime-enabling cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Monero, which became much more prominent in the public eye this past year. Ransomware wasn’t the only type of cybersecurity threat to wreak havoc in 2017, however — there were also network attacks, insider threats and malware, to name a few.

The security landscape is changing, and not for the better. New risk metrics and vectors are emerging, and cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. As more companies shift to a data-first approach and smart devices become internet-enabled, security incidents will only evolve and expand — and the threat actor community will grow larger and stronger as cybercrime becomes more lucrative.

Empowering the Security Community With Software Development Kits

All is not lost, however. We security professionals have a community of our own, and we are united in our common goal to combat cybercrime.

One way to activate this group of security-oriented Samaritans is through tools such as software development kits (SDKs). These toolkits often feed into a broader application exchange program and allow technology partners to build integrations that fill in the gaps and extend the functionality of core products. Companies such as Kaspersky, Bitdefender, PayPal, Splunk and IBM are facilitating developers to bolster the security offerings of their respective products. Just as the Neighborhood Watch program brought members of communities across the U.S. together to combat crime on the streets, these SDKs and application exchange programs aim to bring the best and brightest minds of security together to combat cybercrime.

Security solutions that provide software development kits for business and technology partners to develop integrations are a boon to this community of cyberdefenders. These integrations can be from external products or services for better analytics or data security policy compliance. They can also be built to host security rules or highlight and report suspicious activities to an external source. The IBM Security Guardium SDK, for example, allows for connectivity with all Guardium REST APIs, and each app is hosted in its own Docker container to enable enhanced flexibility.

A Neighborhood Watch for the Data Security Community

Today, there are four use case categories of interest for which we are prompting business partners to build apps: risk discovery and classification, new data sources and platforms supported for data protection, big data aggregation and analytics, and industry-focused compliance solutions. These four use cases can be addressed in a variety of ways. For example, apps can be built to present a combination of internal and external data in tables or visualizations. They can also integrate data from external products or services for better analytics and/or compliance. In addition, apps can be built to host security rules or highlight anomalous activities and send reports to an external source.

The final piece of the puzzle is the skills and expertise of the business partners and developers themselves. Without collaboration from those who are looking for new challenges and innovative ways to contribute to the data security community at large, we can’t move forward. Much like the Neighborhood Watch, the security world needs to band together as a community to ensure that data privacy and security principles are upheld.

So what are you waiting for? To get started, download the Guardium SDK.

Download the Guardium SDK Now

Calvin Bench
Offering Manager, IBM

Calvin is an offering manager with IBM Security, focusing on data security Guardium. He lives in Austin, Texas and went to the University of Texas for a bach...
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