Interview

Building Trusted Environment-Symantec Information Security : Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director, Symantec India

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“Today’s threats tend to exploit vulnerabilities in client-side applications such as Web browsers, email clients, or other applications that require a degree of user interaction (word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet programs). In addition, the number of zero-day attacks continues to rise, leaving systems more susceptible to compromise.” Informs Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director, Symantec India (Vishal_Dhupar@ symantec.com) to egov magazine.

  Please tell us about the security and storage solutions that Symantec offers, being the global leader in security technology and protecting information, to enterprises and the public sector?

The important thing to remember is comprehensive protection– end-to-end protection encompassing infrastructure, information and interaction. Symantec offers the following solutions for enterprises and public sector:

  • A full spectrum of IT risk: security, availability, compliance and performance
  • A full spectrum of users: consumers, SMBs, large enterprises
  • A full spectrum of devices: handhelds, laptops/notebooks, desktops, servers, networks
  • A full spectrum of Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, UNIX, Windows CE.

What are the top information security threats to the networks and data? What aspects of Internet infrastructure are most vulnerable to attack?

Attackers are moving away from large, multipurpose attacks on network perimeters towards smaller, more focused attacks on desktop computers. The new threat landscape will likely be  dominated by emerging threats such as bot networks, customisable modular malicious code,  and targeted attacks on Web applications and Web browsers.

Instances of cybercrime and cyber fraud became widespread with more Indian enterprises  conducting business online and with business critical information being made accessible online. Spyware and phishing emerged as two of the largest threats to corporate computing  amongst the enterprises. Phishing emerged as Internet’s biggest identity theft scam. Over the  last one year, there has been a sharp increase in phishing attacks on Indian enterprises.  Spyware has been used to launch corporate espionage, wherein unauthorised business-critical  information, has been acquired and sold to rivals. Using a single password for all applications  on a network exposes an organisation to greater risk of spyware attacks.

Symantec brings out the Internet Security Threat Report, which provides a six-month update  of Internet threat activity. It includes analysis of network-based attacks, a review of known  vulnerabilities, and highlights of malicious code and phishing, spam and security risks. The  10th volume covers the six-month period from January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2006  and these are some of the interesting findings. Over the first six months of 2006, the Symantec Probe  Network detected 157,477 unique phishing messages. This is an increase of 81% over the  86,906 unique phishing messages that were detected in the last half of 2005. Financial  services was the most heavily phished sector. Spam made up 54% of all monitored email  traffic, up from 50% in the last period. The most common type of spam detected in the first six  months of 2006 was related to health services and products at 26%. Fifty-eight percent of all  spam detected worldwide originated in the United States. Eight of the top ten reported  security risks were adware programs.

The current Internet security threat environment continues to be populated by lower- profile,  targeted attacks as cyber criminals identify new ways to steal information or provide remote access to user systems. The attacks propagate at a slower rate in order to avoid  detection and increase the likelihood of successful compromise before security measures can be put in place.

As technological solutions are proving to be increasingly more effective, attackers are  reverting to older, non-technical means of compromise—such as social engineering—in order  to launch successful attacks. Today’s threats tend to exploit vulnerabilities in client-side  applications such as Web browsers, email clients, or other applications that require a degree of  user interaction (word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet programs). In addition,  the number of zero-day attacks continues to rise, leaving systems more susceptible to compromise.

Symantec has shifted its focus from security devices to protecting information. What are the solutions Symantec has to prevent data threats?

Cybercrimes often involve theft of personal or financial data, and threats targeting that kind  of information are on the rise. In the last half of 2005, Symantec found that 80% of the top 50  reported threats could be used for data theft. Unfortunately, it appears profit is the new  motive for Internet threats, and the pride of one-upmanship—which used to inspire many  cyberattacks—is giving way to calculated criminal intent.

As cybercrime proliferates, the odds of becoming a victim also increase. Fortunately, there are  plenty of things that a consumer can do and learn to reduce their risks. As far as solutions  go, a program like Norton Internet Security automatically blocks hackers, viruses, spam,  dangerous spyware, and it can even detect when stealthy programs try to transmit stolen  data from the personal computer. Easily and automatically updatable, it’s also the best way to  make sure you’re protected as new threats emerge.

In its recent report, Symantec has highlighted that home users are less likely to have  established security measures in place, they are being increasingly targeted by attackers for  identity theft, fraud and other financially motivated crimes. Is Symantec prepared to deal  with this scenario? Yes. The recent ISTR (Internet Security Threat Report) released by  Symantec identified that home users are being increasingly targeted, accounting for 86% of  all targeted attacks, for identity theft, fraud, or other financially motivated crime.

As home users are less likely to have established security measures in place, they are ‘the  weakest link in the security chain.’ Given the effect this has on the large and growing customer base for Symantec, we have tried to further understand how to better protect  customers against these security concerns in years to come.

As a category leader in security, it is Symantec’s agenda to educate and raise the level of  awareness on security for consumers. Our Norton 2007 range of product portfolio provides the  consumer a comprehensive security solution that combines antivirus, firewall, intrusion  detection, and vulnerability management for maximum protection against malicious code and other threats.

“Fortunately, there are plenty of things that a consumer can do and learn to reduce their risks.  As far as solutions go, a program like Norton Internet Security automatically blocks hackers, viruses, spam, dangerous spyware, and it can even detect when stealthy programs  try to transmit stolen data from the personal computer. Easily and automatically updatable,  it’s also the best way to make sure you’re protected as new threats emerge.”

In addition, business is conducted over constantly changing connected value chains and  success demands that you’re able to trust these connected value chains – Symantec is  committed to helping build these trusted environments Symantec provides the expertise, services, and products required to design, implement, and manage a trusted environment that enables the business. The components of a trusted environment:

  • Secure – The IT infrastructure is safe and protected. You can trust the information that you create, share, and use. And, you recognise who you interact with and know that you can trust them.
  • Available – The IT infrastructure is highly available and resilient. The information is there when you need it. You can interact whenever, wherever, and however you want.
  • High Performance – The IT infrastructure is scalable, flexible, and efficient, optimising your investment. The information flows freely, without interruption or loss. The interactions are easy, efficient, and fast.
  • Compliant – The IT infrastructure is compliant with IT policies, regulations, and aligned with  business requirements. Your information management is compliant and information can be  discovered. Your interactions are compliant with IT policies and aligned with business requirements.

Only Symantec can provide true Comprehensive Protection – end-to-end protection  encompassing an enterprise’s infrastructure, information and interactions.

The public at large has not much knowledge about security technology. How do you see the role of Symantec in creating the desired awareness?

Symantec is the leader in Consumer PC Security, with a history and commitment to the marketplace. Our competitive differentiators are our expertise, our customer base and brand,  and our market reach/partnerships. Symantec protects more people from more online threats  than anyone in the world and the Norton brand is the most trusted and recognized  security brand in the world

  • Largest installed base of users with over 50 million active subscribers;
  • Protecting over 370 million computers or email accounts
  • Filters about 259% of world’s internet email
  • Worldwide best sellers in NAV/ NIS and NSW

Symantec, with its unmatched depth and breadth of security knowledge has over 40,000  DeepSight Sensors across 180 countries; 4 SOCs and 8 Security Response Labs. The  information gathered from this comprehensive source of information is incorporated into our  product portfolio making our Norton range of products better with every version.

Symantec spent 15 percent of its total revenue on research and development in FY06.  (Source: Symantec Investor Relations, 6/06). The endeavor at Symantec is to constantly stay  ahead of the cyber criminals ensuring our products and the information we send out to our consumers provides them the protection they need!

“As a category leader in security, it is Symantec’s agenda to educate and raise the level of  awareness on security for consumers. Our Norton 2007 range of product portfolio provides the  consumer a comprehensive security solution that combines antivirus, firewall, intrusion  detection, and vulnerability management for maximum protection against malicious code and other threats.”

Symantec effectively addresses its customers’ needs around:

Infrastructure – IT evolution continues from ad hoc operations through standardization, virtualisation and eventually to service-based and policy-based operations
Information – security threats are evolving from graffiti to bank robbery; confidential information and financial gain are today’s drivers; exponential data growth is driving changes in the way businesses assure the security and availability of information and systems Interactions – Just as attacks against businesses are becoming more financially driven,  stealthy and insidious, so are the attacks against individual consumers which negatively  impacts their confidence in conducting online transactions.

What are some of your future plans?

We give consumers the freedom to work and play in the connected world, protected from fear,  frustration, loss, and chaos. Our plan is to move past the protect- the-PC mentality and focus  on the end-to-end process of protecting consumers’ activities and information-as it’s created,  transmitted and stored. Trust is the foundation of the online world and our latest product  offerings will provide consumers with the freedom to enjoy their favourite online activities  with the confidence that they are secure, and protected from the latest threats.

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