Hidden Adversaries, Evolving Threats

Last week we hosted a 1940s cold war inspired cyber security briefing with partner Symantec and guest speaker, Jack Barsky – a former KGB sleeper agent.

Last week we hosted a cyber security briefing with partner Symantec at the Westbury in Dublin. Our concept for the day, ‘Hidden Adversaries, Evolving Threats’ explored the parallels between 1940s cold war and the 2018 cyber landscape with guest speaker, Jack Barsky – a former KGB sleeper agent – providing insight into his own experiences. The day was a great success, with key insights from our range of speakers.


Opening the event, Threatscape CEO Dermot Williams noted that the theme was particularly topical as the previous day the head of MI6 – Alex Younger (code name “C” to James Bond fans) – had given only his second ever public address in which he warned of the threat of technological espionage, commenting that “Cyber is now our fastest-growing directorate. We are shifting our focus to the nexus between humans and technology”. He also warned specifically of his fears over Russia and China by saying that “Basically, power, money and politics is going east, that’s the political reality we need to adjust to. This is something we really need to talk about; the future of knowledge is in play.” 


Our first speaker was Gavin O’Gorman, a senior analyst in Symantec’s Security Response team in Dublin, where one of three global facilities powering their 24×7 STAR operation is located. The team comprises some 80+ researchers focused on tackling threat response and attack investigations all around the world. Gavin discussed real life examples of how they provide important data to support ongoing law enforcement investigations.


Mark Seger, Systems Engineering at Symantec, discussed the current threat landscape, and some of the challenges facing customers at present – namely reduction in IT budgets and skills shortages in cyber security. He highlighted some recent acquisitions to Symantec’s portfolio, emphasising how this breadth – now available via their Cyber Defence Platform – can provide a more complete, and tightly integrated, security solution. He also argued that despite the constantly improving solutions, it is still vital for people develop a stronger understanding of security: “The number one vulnerability in every organisation or infrastructure is always the human”.


A highlight of the day was hearing from Jack Barsky, who operated under a fake identity in the USA for over a decade. During his talk he gave some interesting insights into how the KGB operated during the cold war – their approach to espionage, and how we can see similar philosophies among cyber attackers in the current era. Jack also gave his own thoughts on the future of cyber crime and warfare. “I’m of the opinion that the biggest threat is cyber war. I am convinced that if there is another war, it will have a significant element of cyber warfare, or will be fought in cyber space.”


Our final speaker, Tom Thorpe of Symantec, discussed security as an accelerator for digital transformation, emphasising the importance of keeping a company’s security team at the centre of any digital transformation projects.


Lastly, thank you to everyone for attending, and for your active participation in our Q&A sessions throughout the day. If you would like a copy of any of the presentations, please contact Kylie Mooney at kmooney@threatscape.com.


If you are interested in attending a future cyber security briefing with Threatscape, get in touch with us at events@threatscape.com


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