Interview Series - Mourad Ben Lakhoua SecTechno Founder

The next instalment of the Infosec Professional interview series, see us talking to Mourad Ben Lakhoua, Security Researcher, SecTechno founder,  and contributing editor of The Cloud Security Rules.

Ed: Hi Mourad, and thanks for taking the time to answer this weeks questions.
How has information security changed in the last 3 years?
Mourad:  Over the last few years, there has been a big change in the global technology of information security as it's become an important part of today’s innovation.  In the past we had no social networks, VoIP communication or cloud computing.  We are now detecting more new malware that is targeting these newer forms of technology, providing a new income stream to the cyber-criminal.

DDoS attacks are also on the rise, with new automated applications that give criminals a way to shut down a website from a single host.  But the question that we should always ask is 'are prepared for such kinds of attackes?'

Previous incidents have shown that few organisations have been prepared, and the reaction to protect our infrastructure always come after that the system was hacked and never as a preventative approach.

What do you think are the main threats facing organisations in 2012?
Mourad:  Last year we saw the evolution of Stuxnet into DuQu (another kind of malware that targets the industrial systems) which in the past, have usually been highly secured and isolated.  2012 will continue to see other targeted attacks conducted by different hacking groups, with greater focus on existing web applications, CMS systems and web servers.

Social network phishing and spamming is also going to rise.

Mobile malware such as Spyeye and ZeuS will continue to target embedded systems, as they are easily and remotely accessible.  It's likely that Android is going to be the first main target.

Are organisations ready to deal with those threats and what can they do to protect themselves?
Mourad:  If we are talking about SMB’s (small to medium sized business - ed.), than there is a big challenge for them to implement the right security measures.  Relying totally on technology, will not protect against new threats.  If we look at the risk of getting hacked, then all organizations are at the same level of risk, but for smaller organisations, the risk is often higher, as they have a limited budged for security investments.

What do you think are the main threats facing individuals in 2012?
Mourad:  There are a lot of security threats that exist in 'cyber-space', the main risk being user awareness of things like virus spreading and global malware infestation.  As social networking increases, phishing and spam will be a concern.  An initial simple approach for users who are not IT aware, is to keep systems software and anti-virus continually updated, using encryption for sensitive information and checking for basic things like HTTPS and the 'padlock' symbol for secure web access.

Which service or skill will be in hot demand in 2012?
Mourad:  This year, the top demand will be on cloud computing services.  Many organisations are looking to reduce budget by outsourcing key services that are hosted internally.  We are also finding many companies using mobile and flexible working, allowing personnel to access corporate data 24/7, by utilising on-line cloud based portals and services.

With the proliferation of social media and mass collaboration, does security policy and governance need to have separate management for threats in this area?
Mourad:  Security policy needs to be continually updated with any new technology that appears.  Social networking is not an exception and I think it should be managed by better internal security policy and governance.  Many companies are now using social media to promote their services and if the site page or social media account is hacked, that can be a big loss to the company's brand and image

Ed - thanks Mourad for your views on the current trends for 2012.