Security Market Segment LS
Monday, 17 September 2018 12:04

You cannot keep ahead of future attacks without machine-speed response times, says Splunk


Automated responses to attacks on IT systems are the only way to stay ahead of those with malicious intentions, according to a senior official from big data analytics vendor, Splunk.

“Automation and collaboration are very important this year,” Haiyan Song, senior vice-president, Security Markets, told iTWire.

Splunk began life as a machine data log file aggregator, capturing unstructured information from devices all across the enterprise, allowing detailed drill-down and discovery and helping technology departments correlate events and fault-find effectively.

Yet, Splunk customers found they could equally well apply the product - and importantly, its insights and visualisations - to any data at all, providing business users with the same depth of capability to query their data, even helping different departments get answers to different questions.

Since its inception and humble beginnings Splunk has grown to a large company - while preserving start-up culture, now delivering a nerve centre for security, IT infrastructure management, devops and a wide range of use cases.

What has aided this transformation, Song says, is the almost half a billion dollars worth of acquisitions in 2018 – Phantom Cyber Corporation for US$350 million and VictorOps for US$120 million.

“I am super excited we have enriched our portfolio,” Song said. “Splunk can take the customer on a smooth and effective journey and deliver on this portfolio.

“Phantom and automation are very hot topics for many of customers,” Song said. “The value our customers are looking for is security orchestration with detection and protection at machine speed.”

Externally, Song finds business awareness around security has increased due to the European General Data Protection Regulation, forcing customers to bolster their breach capabilities because they are compelled to report to the authorities and thus require greater mechanisms and systems in place, and an ability to understand the situation.

“Phantom provides complementary power to complete the loop and provide a very scaled solution for automation, going back to what Splunk is all about, delivering a nerve centre for security. That capability is now completed by having the orchestration and automation platform at scale. It’s a big differentiator for us to have that platform and scale,” she said.

Within the last year, Splunk has continued to develop its Security Essentials product, growing from “about 80 different use cases to 200 now”, with customers leveraging it in different vertical markets. Splunk has further increased content updates from “about every six weeks to every two weeks, delivering the latest actionable intelligence to customers helping them on their journey”, Song said.

“Phantom allowed us to really start building the response part of the story, which are ‘playbooks’ for Phantom. It becomes part of a big planning exercise, to bring the technology and people together and deliver to customers in a holistic way so they can start at the beginning and end with playbooks to automate.”

Automation is important. Phantom’s research identified a human analyst takes around 40 minutes to go through the entire process of analysing an email, correlating the recipients, validating sources and purging it from the mail system. “Once you can automate it, it takes less than 30 seconds,” Song said.

“This is a good metric for people to think about. An incident response has to go from hours to tens of minutes down to seconds. There is interesting data from a ransomware event last year at one of the world's biggest shipping giants in Europe.

"From the time the ransomware entered, it took seven minutes to paralyse the organisation. If in the best use case an analyst can respond in 10 minutes, there is no way you can get ahead of future attacks coming at you unless you have an automated response and can respond in machine speed. That’s how fast the attacks are coming at you,” she said.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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