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RSA Europe 2012: Privacy regulations blamed for hampering anti-hacker fight

09 Oct 2012
RSA president Tom Heiser

LONDON: Well-meaning activists and laws designed to protect people's privacy are hampering businesses and security vendors' ability to defend against cyber attacks, according to security vendor RSA.

RSA executive chairman Art Coviello claimed that well intentioned policies have stopped security experts making adequate changes to their defence models to protect their data, while simultaneously punishing them when breaches do occur.

"The CIO of a leading manufacturing company in the EU told me the government has laws that state he must protect personally identifying information in his possession or run the risk of strict fines and penalties," said Coviello.

"However, if he implements the policies he needs to protect that info, he could inadvertently break laws designed to protect his workers' privacy. He can't win."

Covellio went on to warn that the current system has caused companies to view data breaches as something to be hidden, making them take an outdated perimeter-based approach to cyber security, overly focused on preventing intrusions.

"No one wants to admit being breached," said Coviello. "Because of this, the true depth of the problem remains hidden."

RSA president Tom Heiser added that this veil of secrecy is particularly dangerous as criminals and nation states have already begun developing their own intelligence-based attack models, seeing them share, sell and lease their information and technology with each other.

"Attackers are continuing to adopt new tools. They're sharing and selling their tools," said Heiser.

"Cyber criminals and nation states have better platforms for information sharing and we're paying the cost."

Coviello and Heiser went on to warn that thanks to the increased sophistication of attacks, businesses must focus on developing their own intelligence-based security models.

"Many businesses defenses are still perimeter-based and as a result static and inflexible," said Coviello.

"Intelligence-based security is no longer an option - it's a requirement," added Heiser.

RSA's comments follow on from similar warnings from Symantec chief technology officer Greg Day, who similarly called for an end to the "shame culture" currently surrounding data breaches.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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