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Industry-Wide Collaboration & Intelligence Sharing - Key to Successfully Tackling Cyber Threats

Ankit Agarwal, Head - IT, Encora

Having completed his master’s degree in Cloud Computing & Infrastructure from BITS Pilani and PGP in Artificial Intelligence from Great Lakes Institute of Management, Ankit is a passionate technology professional with over 20 years of experience in IT infrastructure, security, and governance areas. Prior to joining Encora in 2020, he has successfully handled key positions across diverse companies such as Presto Infosolutions, NISG, Back Office IT Solutions, Jabil and Wipro, to name a few.

In today’s dynamic business scenario, collaboration is very important not just with our industry peers and customers, but also with partner ecosystem and OEMs. This is because customers today are very knowledgeable and well-informed about their diverse business requirements. On the other hand, partners work with customers directly in a very closed environment for maintaining their infrastructure and thus have a clear picture of the various pain points customers are facing. Similarly, since OEMs communicate with both customers and partners, they have the ability to clearly understand the current challenges that businesses are facing, along with their future roadmap, required services, and focus areas. Once the collaboration is established between these entities, businesses can focus their efforts on R&D to come-up with new industry-specific products and services.

India has improved significantly in recent times regarding innovation and R&D, wherein leading global OEMs are recently setting-up their R&D hubs in our country. In terms of cybersecurity, the opportunities and potential for R&D in India are humongous. However, there is an immediate need for Indian startups and OEMs to invest more in understanding the nature of business across different verticals and accordingly design their solutions. Once the OEMs are able to effectively address these core issues, there is a huge scope

for further R&D in the cybersecurity domain in India.

Integrating Threat Intelligence into R&D
This is one of the most concerning areas for business across many industries. Every organization that have their SOCs and NOCs in place gather threat intelligence from every available source - right from industry forums, news, online articles to government platform like CERT-In. Every time they gather any threat intel, organizations first carefully analyze it to see if it is applicable to their systems and take necessary measures. While this is the general line of defense that I have seen over the years, I haven't seen much collaborations being done in this direction in terms of all OEMs coming together and sharing their threat intel with each other to develop effective solutions that can efficiently tackle the evolving cyber threats. Thus, I strongly feel that there is an immediate need for OEMs to share their threat intel with everyone in the industry, collaborate with government bodies and collectively build a platform where all the threat intel is available for all stakeholders of the industry.

Stay Updated with Latest Security Tech Advancements
It is paramount for every professional in the cybersecurity realm to pay close attention on the latest developments happening in the global business ecosystem. The primary reason why a cyber threat converts into an attack is because we fail to either identify the threat intel or take the necessary measures on time. Most of the time, cybersecurity professionals miss-out on the threat intelligence by considering assets as non-critical to save money in terms of licensing costs or do not update their systems/applications. Thus, it is very important for organizations to have a clear policy where none of the systems or applications must be running on older versions and must have a clear roadmap to get rid of all older version hardware and end-of-life assets. Also, many organizations still rely on homegrown applications, wherein in majority of the cases, they aren't agile enough to be updated as per the latest tech advancements and not worth the capital spent to upgrade them in terms of ROI.

The primary reason why a cyber threat converts into an attack is because we fail to either identify the threat intel or take the necessary measures on time.

Strategies to Attract Top Cybersecurity R&D Talent
Talent retention has been a major challenge across almost every industry in recent times. Although companies spend a lot of money on employee retention programs and initiatives, we are seeing that the workforce – especially in IT and cybersecurity domains – go to other companies for a varied reasons. Firstly, compensation is among the most common, yet top concerns for employees especially post covid. The second factor is the levels to which employees can contribute towards the company's growth to feel valued and belonged in the organization. This is because in cybersecurity domain, almost 60-70 percent of the work is routine in nature, where they have to filter-out alerts, analyze them, and submit their reports. Due to this, employees tend to feel non-productive and bored. Thus, it is paramount for organizations to automate their first lines of defense by adopting technologies such as AI/ML to take care of the routines tasks and utilize the freed-up workforce in other critical functions such as R&D to keep them engaged and feel productive.

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