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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

CyberSecurity: The most dynamic and cool technology in the IT field

Sridhar Jayanthi
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Sridhar Jayanthi
When I first joined McAfee in 2002, most people (including myself) thought information security was all about anti-virus technology. In fact my friends told me that once the Windows vulnerabilities were fixed, there would be no need for security and I would be out of a job. Boy were we naïve!

Since then, I have studied Security technologies from close quarters, as part of the product development team at McAfee. I have come to the conclusion that information security is the most dynamic, interesting, challenging, and coolest technology in the entire IT landscape. There’s never a dull year for McAfee and its competitors. We have added technologies to our businesses that were not even on the drawing board two years ago. We have to react to the market dynamics much faster than any other industry. For instance, in 2009, we did not even know about a product like iPad. Less than 18 months after its release, we have had more than 20 million iPads sold all over the world; add Android tablets to this mix; the trend is clear. Even more dramatically, iPads have become ubiquitous devices inside the corporations, often accessing corporate data. This immediately raises security questions–Who’s watching the quality and vulnerabilities of these apps accessing confidential information? Needless to say; the security vendors have been busy bringing new solutions to the market as soon as possible, often acquiring companies in the process. The excitement around Virtualization and Cloud technologies has been of similar magnitude. Most of these transformations have resulted in huge business opportunities and innovation to keep up with it. Such is the daily life of a security technology worker.

Until about 8 years ago, most of the hackers were attacking computers and networks for fun, or notoriety among the cyber-underworld. Around 2003, hackers started focusing on profit, and organized themselves. It truly became organized-crime that created a multi-billion dollar profit industry, focused on identity-theft, and online-sales of bank and credit card accounts. It is not hard even today to find bank-account details, with significant bank balance, for a paltry $200 a-piece. Presently, cyber espionage is the new persistent-threat, where corporations are spying on other corporations, or countries are spying on corporations, or countries on countries. It is not too far in the future, when cyber warfare would become an integral part of real wars, given the strategic importance of information and communication to them. If this was the mafia underworld, and if there was physical violence, the whole world would be panicked and will be working harder to prevent cyber-crime right now. But since there is no bloodshed, the effort to stop cyber-crime stops, well short of the needed efforts and investment.

In McAfee India Operations, which consists of McAfee’s largest research team and product development team in the world, we own, contribute to, or influence every product made in McAfee (seriously!). The research team members are the “commandos of the security industry”, that jump into action as new threats appear. The product development team takes the results of the research team and makes it available to all the customers, via the numerous products. The research team works on cutting-edge programming and reverse-engineering methods, in an attempt to keep up with the thousands of new malware/URL/email samples that are sent to us each day. Smart automation is the only way to stay ahead of the volume of malware. In simple terms, using the collective global threat intelligence gathered by the research team, the products are designed to protect our customers systems, networks, data and mobile devices. Apart from malware, we have engineers focused on behavior analysis of applications and network traffic, data classification to protect against confidential data theft, and technologies to manage all of these scenarios in an easy and inexpensive manner.

There is education available: information assurance training, for those interested in information security as a career.

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