In darkest reaches of cyberspace, danger lurks
Singapore—Last month, at the height of North Korea’s bellicose bluster that set South Korea and the rest of the world on a nuclear scare watch, another kind of threat was silently stalking Seoul’s business capital.
At the time, a sophisticated attempt to hack a major bank in South Korea was prevented. Digital engineers fought it out with hackers to protect the bank’s vault. The engineers who reported the threat and saw the red flag were from the Philippine unit of Trend Micro.
“Actually, that’s just one of the millions of threats we face everyday,” Eva Chen of Trend Micro told reporters during the recent APAC Media Summit.
Chen isn’t exaggerating. The statistics tell of a dangerous world behind our shiny computers.
According to Chen, a new threat is created every second while cyber intrusion happens every five minutes. Over 90 percent of enterprises have malware while almost 75 percent have one or more bots. Some apps are even outsmarting smartphones, while Apple’s OS no longer appears to be that impenetrable.
By the end of 2013, about a million malicious Android apps will emerge.
“It’s our business to protect businesses in the last 25 years,” says Chen, CEO and co-founder of Trend Micro.
She reports that an average of 1.8 successful attacks per week translates to $8.9-million damages or losses in the United States, $5.15 million in Japan, and $3.38 million in Australia a year.
A 2011 Trend Micro study also shows that 93.6 percent of the world’s currency comes in digital form, while only 6.4 percent is in hard cash or gold.
Most governments have also digitized their major social services, storing identities, credit information and personal details. That’s why digital police is big business for corporations and consumers alike.
In total, Trend Micro system daily monitors 7.2 terabytes (TB) of data, scans one billion Internet protocol (IP) addresses, checks for evolved versions of 90,000 identified malware, and surfs eight billion websites for threats.
Part of the security audit is done by Trend Micro Philippines.
“Each engineer runs system tests on a million sites and process around 10,000 malware, spam, viruses, worms—and even very malicious stuff such as porn—to be classified everyday,” says Paul Oliveria, technical marketing researcher for Trend Micro’s TrendLabs in Manila.
TrendLabs is home to security engineers who update the database, protect clients and subscribers, and thwart the world’s digital thieves.
Sixty-eight percent of Trend Micro’s clients are businesses and governments, while the rest are homeowners and consumers.
BYOD and device-hopping
Chen has shown how Internet security has changed within the decade.
In the not-so-long-ago ’90s, employees would only deal with company files, e-mail and web access. Now, the same employees may need to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work, use cloud and collaborate via social networks.
But Trend Micro does not want to restrict people. It only uses technology to protect the users’ multiple devices.
“The solution is not to restrict an employee’s mobility because the workstation is now on-the-go. Aside from protecting your devices, the aim is to also protect the data itself, such as through our ‘safesync’ and encryptions,” says Chen.
CCC for SSS
The threats are now sophisticated, stealthy and social (SSS), which requires consumer-end user protection, cybercrime intelligence and custom defense (CCC), says JD Sherry, Trend Micro’s global director of technology and solutions.
“When a company is targeted, it’s not a one-time attack,” Sherry explains.
Combating and mitigating risks against a targeted attack is not a single product or technology discussion, he adds.
“A recent survey showed that data breach is the number one concern of IT managers in businesses. The result emphasizes the need to educate this region’s mindset around enterprise security,” Chen says.
“There’s a misconception that investing in better antivirus is the only cure. There’s no silver bullet. These customized attacks require a custom defense. Trend Micro is the only major security vendor who understands targeted attacks.”
Trend Micro is now the market share leader in cloud security, server security and in virtualization security.
Trend Micro counts 48 of the top 50 global corporations as its clients.
In the Philippines, companies are slowly embracing cloud technology, where physical servers are dispensed with, while the data are kept in virtual storage or in so-called clouds.
“We are not servicing cloud security at present, but the Philippines is now big on virtualization. That’s the first big step before getting into cloud,” says Oliveria.
When a tsunami struck Japan, some executives whose companies were affected by the calamity asked Sherry if they could rebuild their database using data stored in cloud.
“That’s one good thing about cloud. If these were [stored] in physical servers, they would have started from scratch,” he says.
“Cloud Security is a very new area, so we are careful [in treading] here,” explains Chen.
By 2016, 71 percent of server workload will be virtualized, allowing organizations to cut costs by up to 74 percent just by storing data in the cloud.
With companies moving to the cloud, Trend Micro offers a two-pronged protection both on the server and the data itself.
There are many users sharing the same data in the cloud, so Trend Micro wants to make sure that only authorized users can have access to it, Chen says.
“A private cloud by companies is only cost-effective when it is protected,” Chen explains. “That’s where we come in and block the bad guys.”