Interview with Erik Ploegmakers

Highly promising technologies in the fight against cybercrime

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Published by managersonline.nl on the 19th October 2016 - 

New ideas and methods are sorely needed in the battle against cybercrime. According to Erik Ploegmakers, Director of KPN Security Services, start-ups and large organisations need to join forces to improve security technologies.

Arms race against cybercrime still in high gear
Ploegmakers believes that start-ups and large organisations need one another. “Start-ups offer a breath of fresh air with their nonconformist and innovative ideas. That is why we organise start-up events regularly. This lets us cherry-pick specific talent and explore opportunities to work together. I’ve gotten acquainted with a few very promising start-ups in this way. It is up to the large companies to embrace these kinds of companies and partner up in the fight against cybercrime.”

1. SaaS, but absolutely safe

KPN Security Services puts its money where its mouth is by seeking out partnerships with new players. One such partner is BitSensor, a start-up that helps companies find out whether their SaaS applications have been hacked at a much earlier stage. Ploegmakers explains, “The average time between a hack and detection is currently nine months. That is much too long and, until the hack is detected, the hacker can go about his business undeterred.”

BitSensor has helped to close this gap, says Ploegmakers. “The solution is embedded in the web apps and checks from the inside out whether the application displays suspicious behaviour. This makes it possible to detect at a much earlier stage whether an application may have been hacked than with traditional security solutions that act more like a ‘shell’ around the application.”

But BitSensor does more. “BitSensor also collects all kinds of data on the user, not only the IP address, but also things like session information and the physical location. BitSensor uses this data to predict user intentions and then block any threats.”

2. Preventing life-threatening hacks

Another promising start-up according to Ploegmakers is SecurityMatters. “They focus exclusively on securing industrial environments,” he says. “Hackers attack this sector of the economy increasingly often, simply because factories and utilities are digitising more and more. If a power plant or water purification system is hacked, this can be life-threatening.”

“Special security arrangements are required since many systems in the industry are not designed with digital safety in mind,” says Ploegmakers. “SecurityMatters provides highly advanced solutions and has a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise.”

3. Encrypted chunks

Ploegmakers also believes that Coblue Cybersecurity has what it takes to be a success. This start-up offers a data storage service called Storro that enables users to save and share files. That may not sound very special, but the way they do this is quite unique.

Ploegmakers explains, “Unlike Dropbox, for instance, Storro is fully oriented towards privacy and security. It does not store the data at a central location, but breaks it down into small encrypted chunks. The user also decides who can access this data. Storro then stores these chunks with the Storro contacts indicated by the user. Hackers and curious governments are kept at a distance since there are no central data storage servers.”

4. Artificial intelligence

The most recent start-up mentioned by Ploegmakers is EclecticIQ. “They’ve built an intelligence platform that collects all kinds of data in the IT environment. Organisations can use this data for analyses. The platform looks for suspicious patterns, for example, that point to an approaching hack attack, espionage or fraud attempt. By recognising the signs early, the company has a better chance to stop the attack before serious damage is done.”

What makes EclecticIQ particularly unique is that it views safety in a totally new and holistic manner, making clever use of the power of artificial intelligence.

Arms race still in high gear

The arms race against cybercrime will not end thanks to these new tools. The innovations described here make the familiar tools of firewalls, endpoint security, IPS systems, etc. anything but superfluous. Yet, these kinds of start-ups are indispensable, says Ploegmakers. “Innovative defence mechanisms and services are extremely important because cybercriminals are innovating continuously as well. This makes innovation ‘by the good guys’ absolutely essential.”

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