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CLOUDSEC 2021 validates that in future 'the cloud is the after limit'

Exploring industry trends, best practices and ways to secure digital ecosystems from cyberattacks

Published: Nov 24, 2021 10:17:06 AM IST
Updated: Nov 24, 2021 10:55:10 AM IST

CLOUDSEC 2021 validates that in future 'the cloud is the after limit'

Between the 16th and 18th of November, CLOUDSEC one of the digital technology industry’s biggest cybersecurity and cloud events, was hosted by Trend Micro in partnership with Forbes India. The event brought together leading technology professionals, regulators and corporate users on one platform so they could explore emerging industry trends, best practices and new ways to secure digital ecosystems from the risk of cyberattacks, while corporates and governments safely achieve their goals.

The virtual event began with welcome addresses by Vijendra Katiyar, Country Manager, Trend Micro, India and SAARC and Sharda Tickoo, Technical Director, Trend Micro, India and SAARC. They began by remarking on how the move towards adoption of digitization and cloud services had accelerated in the past 18 months. This, however, has been accompanied by a spike in cybercrime. “If cyber crime was an economy, it would be the third largest in the world, after the US and China; that’s the scale that we are talking about,” explained Sharda Tickoo.

In response, Vijendra Katiyar observed that all the digital disruptions taking place were pushing enterprises to reimagine and redesign cybersecurity. They went on to describe four success factors behind undertaking a digital overhaul at the organization level – modern architecture, defining the attack surface, security by design and changing mindsets to view cyber security as a business enabler. They concluded that while digitization was not a priority but an imperative, these facets would ensure that companies followed a proactive rather than reactive approach to their cybersecurity.

Next up was a Fireside Chat, themed ‘Scaling to New Heights with Confidence: The Cloud Play’, and featuring Prasad Ramakrishnan, Chief Information Officer, Freshworks and Vijendra Katiyar of Trend Micro. They discussed how cloud computing is transforming industries across sectors and regions and companies are increasingly upgrading to hybrid environments. To continue to secure cloud and on-premise environments, security controls must be extended and frequently retooled to identify and preempt or mitigate cyber threats.

Prasad Ramakrishnan recounted Freshworks’ experience of assisting corporates during their transition to the cloud and discussed the opportunities and road ahead for a hybrid work model. From a security perspective he pointed out, “Irrespective of whether you are in a work-from-home or work-from-office mode, there will always be security challenges. The focus must be on staying a step ahead of the threats and continuing to invest in mechanisms which make it easy for employees to do their job.”

Vijendra Katiyar observed that most of his customers were considering deploying resources towards a combination of hybrid and multi-cloud strategy. In this new normal, there were new challenges that would emerge and he explained how Trend Micro’s Cloud One addresses a spectrum of these. They both agreed that at the end of the day, the aim was to delight customers and help them delight their customers.

With cloud becoming the new normal in the post-pandemic era, the next session showcased a discussion between Anupam Mishra, Head- Technology & Solution Architecture, AWS India & South Asia and Vijendra Katiyar on how having cloud and cyber security moving in tandem helped companies in their digital transformation journey.

Anupam Mishra explained that in the wake of the pandemic, businesses had to adopt cloud very quickly to adapt to the needs of their businesses, which were not previously anticipated. “Companies which had cloud as a strategy were able to react very quickly,” he said. Vijendra Katiyar suggested that although there was pressure to migrate to the cloud, it could not really be an overnight transition but rather an ongoing journey.

As the discussion proceeded to cyberattacks and the need for security, the consensus takeaway that emerged was that cybersecurity could not be an afterthought but must form part of the core cloud implementation strategy.

The first panel discussion, featuring eminent banking industry stalwarts and leading technology partners focused on emerging cyber security threats in digital banking. The panel comprised Rajesh Thapar, Chief Information Security Officer, Axis Bank; Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Ex. Sr. Banker and Board Member, Reserve Bank Innovation Hub & NABARD; Anagha Mujumdar, BFSI India Head, Trend Micro and Ed Cabrera, Chief Cybersecurity Officer, Trend Micro.

At the outset, Rajesh Thapar pointed out that e-governance has been taken to the next level, at the citizen and organizational level as well as from a supply chain perspective. “This has been made possible through the open APIs. The entire banking industry and the ecosystem is going to leverage a lot of benefit from the interconnect of devices, users and applications,” he said, adding that technology obsolescence is the biggest challenge for banks who need to upgrade their legacy stacks and apps.

Mrutyunjay Mahapatra agreed that in a connected world, banks do benefit from open APIs but security is at a nascent stage and being work-in progress, it is nowhere near the desired level of maturity. Ed Cabrera expected that there will be an exponential growth in the number of cyberattacks and the impact will increase too. He added, “With this backdrop, the need for collaboration with trusted partners becomes crucial to increase resiliency.”

The panel also touched upon how banks are dealing with ransomware threats and strategies to secure public cloud and cloud native applications within the ever-evolving banking interface. They also conversed on adherence to compliance and security responsibilities of banks and their cloud service-providing partners.

Anagha Mujumdar concluded by sharing how Trend Micro is very cognizant of regulatory and other cybersecurity requirements and has made investments in India towards meeting these. “Our roadmap will be in sync with bank requirements, while we accelerate time-to-value and focus on understand market trends. Our overall vision is innovation in technologies, and how partnerships will benefit banks in times to come,” she said.

The final discussion of the day revolved around security threats to government networks. In recent times, the government of India has jumped onto the digital bandwagon with mega-pan-India projects like Jan Dhan and more recently, CoWIN. Accordingly, a strong and secure cyber security network has become imperative to support these initiatives. RS Mani, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre (NIC) and Himanshu Gupta, Director – Government Business India, Trend Micro discussed the role of cyber security and the government, along with current trends towards digitalization.

RS Mani observed that in the past few years, the government has been reaching out to citizens through ICT. This has delivered many benefits such as rapid reach and ability to avail services remotely, while ensuring lower economic costs. However, with all this, there are numerous bad actors that try to highjack systems by phishing or through malware sites.

“We had to open up our systems once the pandemic started, so that our officers could work from home. This meant suddenly switching over from a very controlled situation to a loosely coupled system of home broadband and PCs. It became extremely critical to maintain the security posture of the system as the number of attacks increased manifold,” he said. “But we were aware this would happen so our teams put in tremendous effort to make sure that we were safe and secure. These attacks will keep increasing and getting more sophisticated as time goes by.” Nevertheless, he assured that this would not deter the government from rolling out many more digital applications in health and other research areas and the government’s cybersecurity teams were equipping themselves with capabilities to deal with these.

Himanshu Gupta agreed that 2020 was not just the year of the pandemic, it was the year of a cyber pandemic for India too, with an unprecedented number of cyberattacks. “The threat vector hasn’t changed at all but what has changed is the mode of delivery of the threats. Bad actors using ransomware are following a double extortionist method, wherein they claim ransom and leak information on the public domain,” he shared.

The discussion went on to cover how as vulnerabilities are changing, so is the attack surface and challenges due to legacy systems and lack of timely patching. RS Mani assured that a lot of effort was being made to set up numerous Centers of Excellence and awareness has also increased through hundreds of free trainings to millions of people at various levels. Efforts were also on to generate academic interest in the space, towards bringing India to a leading position in cyber security posture.

The broad takeaway of ‘CLOUDSEC 2021 – Reimagine Your Cloud’ was that in Industry 4.0, where everything from baby monitors and health devices to banks and government APIs will be cloud-based and connected, cyber resilience will have to be built in to every system at every level. In addition to constantly working to stay ahead of cyber criminals, responding promptly to attacks will be the way forward in the new normal, where cybercrimes are increasing in volume and impact and nothing is unexpected. Consequently, seeking trusted cyber-protection partnerships will be a crucial part of the solution.

For more insights and information, the entire event can be viewed at https://bit.ly/Cloudsec2021 and CLOUDSEC 2021 on-demand at https://bit.ly/3HOJkp8

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