October 18, 2017

min read

Cloud Computing in Cybersecurity: Leveling the Battlefield

Cloud computing and big data

If you're tired of hearing about cloud computing and big data, you might want to unplug and take a break from technology news the next few years. These two technologies are becoming more mainstream as their benefits extend into every aspect of our lives, from delivering a competitive business advantage to cracking the code on cancer.

This is especially true in the world of cybersecurity, where not a week passes without headlines describing a major cyberattack, new strain of malware or deceptive social engineering technique used to attack businesses. In fact, cybersecurity has now become an all-out arms race with malicious actors constantly developing new tactics while businesses seek even more sophisticated tools to fight back.

Unfortunately, there's an asymmetry inherent in the cybersecurity war. Businesses face a multitude of cyber adversaries who need only succeed once to cause catastrophic damage, as in the Equifax case, while defenders must remain vigilant all the time at a huge cost differential. In other words, it's not a fair fight!  We need to level the battlefield and shift the economic balance of cyberattacks, making the cost of conducting one riskier and expensive.

Cloud and big data: The ultimate technology escalation

Cloud computing and big data are the ultimate technology escalation. With virtually unlimited on-demand resources, the cloud makes it possible to apply supercomputer-like processing power to large, relevant data sets to obtain the best possible insights. These technologies act as a force multiplier, dramatically increasing the effectiveness of enterprise defenses against increasingly targeted and more sophisticated threats. The cyber threat landscape is evolving quickly - so must the tools used to combat it.

There's an old saying, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."  In other words, when your tools are limited, you're likely to try and fix everything with what you have rather than look for the best way to solve a problem. For example, some mobile security vendors claim their "on-device" threat detection is sufficient. This same strategy has been employed in the legacy PC anti-virus world for more than a decade. It may be effective for some attacks, but it's insufficient to protect against today's escalating threat. Moreover, a skilled attacker can reverse engineer an on-device solution, or simply test their attacks against it to ensure they remain undetected. On-device detection should be viewed as necessary but not sufficient protection.  

Today there's no excuse for continuing to rely on a limited tool set. Cloud computing and big data allow us to fundamentally rethink our efforts to chase down attackers. Better tools help alter the balance of power and risk.

Layered security: Why it works

At Lookout, we recognize there's no magic bullet. That's why we provide customers a layered approach to mobile security. We begin with behavioral detection at the device level to uncover malware and other exploits where we can observe well-known indicators of compromise (e.g., OS modification, application privilege escalation, etc). However, we strengthen this approach with our cloud computing platform and large global dataset to discover hidden patterns and unknown correlations that can't be found on a single device. These patterns are exponentially more revealing than individual indicators of compromise and can be used to profile an attack even before it can cause damage. Once discovered, we instantly share these patterns across our collective user base, creating a protective shield from a specific attack vector or variation of it. This network effect multiplies the value of our solution for customers while making it exponentially more difficult for attackers to succeed.

Our unique "cloud-first, device assisted" approach provides a layered defense that addresses the limitations of on-device detection by incorporating the power of cloud computing and big data. It provides the strongest defense against an increasingly sophisticated enemy while making the cost of conducting an attack far more expensive. Look for these important, innovative tools when evaluating a mobile security technology.

Want to learn more about how Lookout can protect your company? Contact us today.