Cybersecurity giant McAfee puts collaboration at the heart of its strategy

It’s been a big year for McAfee. The self-styled “cybersecurity first responders” spun out as an independent company in March after five years under the ownership of Intel, and have been working hard to rebuild themselves in the months that followed.

While that’s been the main talking point throughout the year, Monday’s announcement about the acquisition of Skyhigh Networks was very much the headline of the company's first EMEA Mpower event – not bad for an eight-month-old startup, joked CEO Chris Young in his keynote.


The firewall is dead, long live cloud security

The CEO of Skyhigh Networks, Rajiv Gupta, had some bold claims to make about the cloud. His aim of “making cloud the most secure business environment” certainly raised a few eyebrows, as did his insistence that cloud security has the ability to become the driving force behind cloud adoption.

But as Young continued to deliver his keynote, the understanding behind the acquisition became increasingly apparent. Outlining his belief that soon the cloud will become the security operations centre, it makes sense for an endpoint security giant to join forces with one that specialises in cloud.

Network security currently commands the greatest portion of IT security budgets but the line from McAfee is that in the future, the network will no longer be the logical control point. A surge in mobile working has caused the network perimeter to erode – Google no longer use a firewall for protection – and as data and applications are increasingly moved to the cloud, that’s where security efforts should be focused.

Young continued to argue that the explosion in SaaS adoption has further forced a change in the way cybersecurity architecture works and cybercriminals are not blind to this, predicting an increased targeting of cloud environments and endpoints. Adopting an open eco-system, he argued, is going to be the only way to consume cybersecurity in the long run.


The changing face of cybersecurity

For those who live and breathe cybersecurity, the challenges currently facing the industry came as little surprise. The global talent shortage is immense, according to Cybersecurity Ventures with 3.5 million jobs predicted to be unfilled by 2021. However, instead of working to encourage more people into the sector, McAfee are championing the idea that removing inefficiencies in-house and building better tools is the way to tackle the 15% of job openings expected to be seen in 2018.

“A world where tools support people, not where people support tools” read the presentation slide. One of many slogans and pledges Young was keen to show off throughout the morning.

But what sort of tools is the company building to help support people? McAfee Investigator was the star of the show and was exclusively revealed as being available from Monday, rather than Q1 as originally predicted, thanks to some speedy final testing.

Combining data science with machine learning to help security professionals prioritise threats, it certainly hits the right notes in terms of being a next generation solution using emerging technology to help deal with an ever-evolving and expanding problem.

Their recent partnership with Cisco to share threat intelligence was also a key talking point and alongside the excitement about the acquisition of Skyhigh, collaboration was a key concept that Young continued to emphasis as being an important focus for the future.

Cybersecurity trends for 2018 were what you’d expect. Machine learning will become co-opted for spear phishing campaigns, IoT is still a huge risk and consumers need to be more clued up to the sort of data these connected companies are collecting and what they’re doing with it.

Perhaps the most interesting prediction was the rise in pseudo-ransomware. Used to target a Taiwanese bank earlier in the year, adversaries deploy ransomware to distract IT teams, meanwhile carrying out a second attack that will inevitably go unnoticed.

And so, the cybersecurity cat and mouse game seems set to continue, at least in the foreseeable future. However, with all 7000 McAfee employees having signed a pledge to keep “the world safe from cyber threats” we can all rest easy knowing they “will not rest in [their] quest to protect the safety of [their] family, [their] communities, and [their] nations.”


Also read:
Intel concerned about name of John McAfee’s privacy phone
Will Cyren make a big sound in security?
Intel divests McAfee after rough marriage, will now secure hardware



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Charlotte Trueman

Charlotte is Staff Writer at IDG Connect. She is particularly interested in the impact technology will have on the future of work and promoting gender diversity throughout the tech industry.

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