Cyber security has become one of the greatest threats to businesses, regardless of industry or size. Every year, cybercriminals find more inventive and insidious ways into our systems and their cumulative impact is becoming more and more devastating.
As of 2017, the cost of cyber attacks hit $1 trillion per year. This meant the US now spends more on cyberattacks than it does on natural disasters and experts only predict the trend to worsen. And while criminals get smarter, our defenses against them seem less and less adequate to mediate the threat.
However, with the advent of blockchain technology, new ways of leveraging the layer of digital trust it provides may have the potential to change this dynamic completely. Following its recent stealth round of funding which saw it raise $15m, we spoke to blockchain cybersecurity company ALTR CEO David Sikora about the current state of the global cyber security industry and how the firm is shaking it up.
Innovation Enterprise: What would you define as currently being the greatest cybersecurity risk to businesses based in the US?
David Sikora: The largest unaddressed cybersecurity risk to businesses in the US is the risk that insiders present to security. More often than not, an insider's risk isn't intentional; it can be social engineering, a misconfiguration or a weak password. Depending on the study you read, 70% to 90% of all data breaches feature an insider element. Most security professionals will tell you it's what keeps them up at night.
IE: Can we expect the trends of high-profile breaches to carry on escalating?
DS: Yes, until we change the way we approach the problem. Though cybersecurity spending is more than $60bn in the US alone now, and increasing year over year by 10% to 20%, breaches are still ramping exponentially year over year. The disconnect between spend and results is due to a problem in approach. First, cybersecurity is stuck in reactive mode. The industry is like the Dutch boy, putting a finger into every leak that the dam springs without spending the time to think about how to redesign the dam. Second, we are fighting a losing battle in the defending the network, which is populated by insider elements and whose perimeter is constantly growing and changing. Solutions must get more proactive and focus on protecting what attackers are after: the data.
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IE: What does ALTR offer users which current cyber security measures can't?
DS: We are not the only company focused on data-centric security, but we are the only provider doing so by leveraging a combination of smart driver and blockchain technologies. We have developed a proprietary, private high-performance blockchain technology which we deploy on behalf of each customer. We integrate that blockchain into their existing infrastructure using a smart database driver that sits in the critical path of data. From there, we audit all database activity out to the blockchain, govern access and record all administrative actions out to the blockchain, and actually tokenize and store critical data securely in the blockchain in a solution that leaves data better protected, more performant, and more functional than homomorphic encryption. Our mission is to restore digital trust by transforming how data is monitored, accessed and stored.
IE: With the introduction of blockchain into cybersecurity, does the sentiment of "no system can't be hacked" stand true?
DS: There is no system that can't be hacked. But blockchain technologies properly integrated can reduce the risk of a data breach to nearly zero. By removing the threat of stolen keys, compromised credentials, and providing clear visibility into the relationship between users and data for executives from the CEO to the CISO, we feel that teams within an enterprise can begin to trust their systems and each other again.
IE: In your opinion, will blockchain revolutionize computing?
DS: Yes. In the 15th century, the first widespread application of double-entry accounting in Venice is credited with the birth of modern finance and the Renaissance. This was largely a revolution of trust, as a new system provided significant acceleration to the process of two parties doing business trusting one another. Blockchain is another such system, perhaps the first natively digital one, which provides another such leap to a new level of trust in dealing with each other. But while blockchain will likely someday revolutionize macrosystems like supply chains, industries, and continental politics, it can start by tackling microsystems like the system of data security inside individual enterprises.
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