Cybercrimes and data breaches – the new normal?

As the former Assistant Director of Intelligence for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Ray Boisvert is uniquely qualified to help businesses and governments identify risks and create cybersecurity safeguards. His advice? “A new approach that uses analytics to understand the behavioral aspects of hackers is absolutely necessary,” he says.

Boisvert is quick to note he isn’t a technical specialist. “I’m a threat specialist,’’ he says. With experience operating in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and exchanging intelligence and benchmark threat matrices with security and intelligence agencies from around the world, he sees cyberattacks as the emerging fifth dimension of the 21st century’s battlefield – one that will become increasingly important.

What he finds frustrating is that businesses often think that hackers are motivated solely by greed. Motives are as diverse as human beings, and recent evidence suggests political motives are just as critical.

“Disrupting a business is an opportunity to disrupt our Western way of life,’’ Boisvert says, noting that Russian hackers are believed to go after credit card data not only for the money, but also to fight back at Western sanctions imposed on Russia because of events in Ukraine.

The corporate world (the financial sector being a notable exception) tends to view cybersecurity as a low-tier problem. “Something to delegate,’’ he notes. “There is definitely some hubris and self-denial.’’

Rather than pouring millions of dollars into bigger and better firewalls and more anti-virus software, Boisvert sees cybersecurity as a task for analytics that can help organizations tease out the proverbial signal from the massive internet “noise” around serious threats. The challenge is to identify the right threat vector related to the most valued elements an organization holds dear. The organization will only be successful if it has technology to quickly digest huge streams of data, in real time, so that it may begin to see patterns that can thwart further fraud.


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