Securing the Cloud in Cyber Security

Securing the Cloud is a major challenge across the Cyber Security industry. On Episode 19 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we spoke to Abhishek Singh, the Co-Founder and CEO of Araali Networks, about how Cyber Security professionals are navigating the growing challenges of keeping the Cloud secure. Abhishek has 25 years’ experience in Cyber Security, including a period in which he led a team to build a data centre scale platform to enable micro segmentation and security in a virtual machine environment. This wealth of experience gives him some great insights into the current issues around securing the Cloud. 

Could you explain what zero trust is and what the biggest problems are with implementing it?

Zero Trust has become a buzzword. Zero trust people say ‘trust nothing’, but zero trust is fundamentally a networking concept. That concept is actually very simple. Imagine it as a castle and moat problem, where you have a castle and a moat around it called a perimeter. Everything inside the castle is trusted. Everything outside the perimeter is untrusted. If you have to come into the castle, you come through a firewall, and then you are trusted. So it is a networking concept which relies on perimeter security and having an open interior.

The problem with that approach is that your perimeter has to be perfect. If there’s one bad guy coming in, you’re in trouble. If one Trojan horse seeps in, you’re in trouble. If you’re building a zero trust environment you have to keep your controls inside out. Even if your environment is not pristine, every resource has to defend itself. 

The Cloud is very zero trust friendly in that it denies access by default, so if you want to expose anything online you have to explicitly open it up. However, egress is open. And that is the problem with zero trust, it’s too hard to close down egress. So if someone is already inside, going out is free, and that is what attackers abuse. So in spite of Cloud being very different, very novel, very thought through and upfront, egress is open. And that is the fundamental problem. 

What do you see as the biggest challenges in securing the cloud itself?

The real question is, ‘is the Cloud more secure?’ That is the biggest thing that people need to understand, and there is no straight answer. Depending on who you ask, they will give you a different answer. Many people believe the Cloud is more secure because Amazon has done a lot of good work there, and other cloud providers have followed suit. But the real rub there is, it’s as secure as you make it. Security is a shared responsibility, and Amazon is very clear about it. They are saying ‘we have given you the tools to make it secure’, but they have not done your work for you. Amazon has not secured your stuff. Coming from an on-prem background, when you go into the Cloud where there are new paradigms, it’s very hard to fulfil your shared responsibility. If you have not done so, Cloud is not more secure. 

The other challenge is attackers. On-prem Windows is a fertile ground for attackers to be doing things. They have not exploited Cloud. At some point though, that’ll change. Things like solar wind supply chain attacks used to be science fiction, right? The cloud is like that – it’s waiting to explode. It’s not that it’s more secure – it’s just that attackers have not diverted their attention to it yet. They’re still trying to go after Windows workloads on prem. The moment they come to Cloud, there’s a lot to be had.

Why do you think businesses like Waze have had such success over the last few years?

So the reason Waze has been successful is because of simplicity. Security has been very cumbersome over the years. Orca was the first company who came out and said, ‘We’ll give you a Cloud account, and without any agents we’ll go and survey it and show you visibility’. The ease of use itself was very compelling. My problem with that approach is that by showing your Cloud position, you’re making yourself more vulnerable. I know I’m vulnerable. I did not need to see a picture to get that insight. The thing I need to know is how do I not become exploitable? How do I remediate my vulnerabilities? That is still a hard problem, because the Cloud is hard. It’s difficult, which is why it is vulnerable. Showing me my visibility is not helping me become less vulnerable. The thing we should focus on is remediation, and that’s the language of zero trust. The reason this became so popular is because of the ease of installation in a world where Cyber Security is hard to work with. Time to value is unspoken. 

To learn more about securing the Cloud, listen to Episode 19 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Tackling Talent Challenges in the Cyber Security Sector

As recruiters, we’re often faced with a number of challenges when it comes to sourcing talent in the cyber security sector. On Episode 18 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we spoke to Jake Bernardes, the CTO for Whistic, about his perspectives on the topic. Here are his insights: 

The reality is that there never has been a skill shortage in cyber security. That is completely fake news. The problems are actually between the hiring manager or hiring team and the candidate. And those issues are extensive. Let’s start with the kind of person that the hiring manager wants. Do they know what the key skills are that that person needs to have? Secondly, people are very bad at writing job descriptions. The next problem is that once you’ve written the job description it gets translated to a job ad. 

We all rely on recruitment in our business. Usually HR are filling in for recruitment functions, and they don’t understand what I’ve told them they’re hiring for. Do they know what I’ve actually asked for? Are they translating something which doesn’t make any sense? Are they adding things because they are standard requests, like ‘must be college or university educated’, ‘must have this qualification’ etc, when I actually don’t care as a hiring manager? The problem is when that person HR misinterprets my request and does not put the right spin on it when it goes out to market. 

There are then two more problems in that situation. Firstly, that description doesn’t make a lot of sense, and secondly it’s not focussing on the right keywords. We’re often having issues with the salary as well, because this is a high-paid field. We’re going out to recruiters who can’t fulfil a role where the requirements don’t make sense and the salary doesn’t work. It’s impossible to find someone that doesn’t exist, so it creates the illusion of a talent shortage.  

The flip side is that I don’t have a shortage of candidates. What I have is an inability to screen candidates properly because everyone has realised that there’s money in cyber so they’ve made their resume cyber orientated. If HR does the screening, they don’t have the competence to know what is or isn’t relevant. They often miss potential gems because the resumes are quite simple but have one really interesting line at the bottom. They just go and find an SRE or cybersecurity analyst. HR puts on a layer of nonsense that they think makes sense, including a salary banding which is completely unrealistic, then throws it to recruiters and hopes that they can turn carbon into diamonds. 

Our industry is a weird one. There are so many people who are very good, but on paper they shouldn’t be good. On paper they should never have even been in the interview. Standard education and experience doesn’t allow me to spot the people who are going to excel, but people’s passion projects do. And so I stand by my statement, there is no skill shortage here. There is a fundamental disconnect and a poor process between cybersecurity leaders and the candidates who are applying. Everything in between those two dots is broken currently.

To learn more about the talent challenges in the Cyber Security sector, tune into The Cyber Security Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

Cyber Security and AI: Insights from David Stapleton

AI has been sweeping the internet for months since the release of Chat GPT 3. As the world looks at the implications of these powerful new AI models, the cyber security industry is no exception. On Episode 17 of The Cyber Security Matters Podcast we spoke to David Stapleton, the CISO at CyberGRX, who we met at the RSA conference. With over 20 years of experience in business administration, cyber security, privacy and risk management, David has a unique expertise that makes him the perfect person to share insights on the relationship between Cyber Security and AI. Read on to hear his thoughts! 

A lot of attention has been paid to AI – with good reason. I have this mental model where if my mother is aware of something that’s in my field, that’s when it’s really reached the public Zeitgeist. When she asked me a question about the security of AI, I knew it wasn’t a niche topic anymore. 

Artificial intelligence is an interesting phenomenon. Conceptually, it’s not that different from any other rapid technological advancement that we’ve had in the past. Anytime these things have come up, the same conversations have started to happen. With the advent of cloud there was a real fear that was sparked – particularly in the cybersecurity community – around the lack of control over those platforms. We had to trust other people to do the right thing. How do I present that risk to the board and get their approval for that? Maybe it’s a good financial decision, but we are introducing unnecessary risks. 

Another example of that may have been the movement towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and allowing people to connect their personal devices to company networks and data. That sounds terrifying from a security perspective, but you can see how that opens the door to increased productivity, efficiency and flexibility. 

AI is not too dissimilar from that perspective, and we can see plenty of positive aspects to the utilisation of artificial intelligence. It’s a catalyst for productivity which could provide exposure to multiple different data points and bring together salient insights in a way that it’s hard for the human mind to do at that kind of a speed. It can also reduce costs, bring additional value to stakeholders and potentially help companies gain competitive advantages. 

Conversely, there are potential risks. It is such a new technology, and we’re still learning about how it works as we’re using it. There’s a lot of questions from a legal perspective about the ownership of the output of different AI technologies, particularly with the tools that produce audio visual outputs. The true implementation and impact of that isn’t going to be known until the courts have worked those details out for us. 

We’re in a position now where some companies have taken a look at AI and said, ‘We don’t know enough about this, but we feel the risk is too great, so we’re going to prohibit the utilisation of these tools.’ Other companies are taking the exact opposite approach: ‘We also don’t know a whole lot about this, but we’re going to pretend this problem doesn’t exist until things work themselves out.’ 

At CyberGRX we’re taking a middle of the road approach where we’re treating AI models as another third party vendor that we’re using for work purposes. We’re going to share access or data with that tool, but we need to analyse it from a security risk and legal risk perspective before we approve its utilisation. That’s a fairly long-winded way of saying that there are amazing opportunities for AI but there are risks. 

We’ve already seen threat actors starting to use artificial intelligence to beef up their capabilities. You could understand logically how artificial intelligence gives a fledgling or would-be threat actor the ability to get in the game and take action sooner than they otherwise would be able to. When Chat GPT first was released to the public, the very first thing that I put into it was ‘Write a keylogger in Python’. That’s a little piece of malware that will log your keystrokes and collect things like passwords or credentials. It just did it. It was there on the screen as a perfectly legitimate piece of software. Since then they’ve tightened the controls, but there was a time when someone with bad intent could start producing different types of malicious software without even learning to code.

To learn more about the uses of AI in Cyber Security, tune into The Cyber Security Matters Podcast here

We sit down regularly with some of the biggest names in our industry, we dedicate our podcast to the stories of leaders in the technologies industries that bring us closer together. Follow the link here to see some of our latest episodes and don’t forget to subscribe.     

RSAC: Insights, Community and Cybersecurity Trends

Spring is blossoming in San Francisco, the highly anticipated #RSAC2023 commences attracting leaders and companies from around the world.

Being my first conference, I embarked on this journey with a mix of excitement, nerves, and curiosity.

The big takeaways from the conference were the valuable insights into the cybersecurity industry, the strong sense of community and the hot topics of investments, the impact of AI and talent shortages. Additionally, we had the opportunity to explore the vibrant food scene of San Francisco, which added a cultural touch to the conference experience.

Grand Opening and Impressive Booths

The conference kicked off with great anticipation, as attendees gathered in the entrance hall, the atmosphere was electric, and the buzz of excitement was palpable. As the doors opened, a polite stampede of cybersecurity enthusiasts filled Moscone South Hall. The sight of numerous booths was awe-inspiring, with companies investing substantial resources to impress and display the immense potential of the cyber security world with exhibits highlighting the industry’s advancements and potential.

Networking calls and conversations up to this point had evolved around RSA Conference, emphasising its values as a place to connect and meet face-to-face.

Community – Diversity & Inclusion

The most profound takeaway from my first RSAC was the vibrant and supportive community within the cybersecurity industry.

As a newcomer, the community came across as surprisingly friendly and collaborative.

I had the privilege of attending the Women in CyberSecurity (WiCys) drinks event, where representatives from Microsoft, Amazon and Google gathered to promote diversity, the motto “not done yet” resonated strongly emphasising the importance of the continuous effort needed to enhance diversity in this tech space.

The next morning, I attended the Women’s in Cyber breakfast, featuring a panel discussion with founders, CEOs and CISOs. The conversation revolved around the challenges faced by successful women in maintaining work-life balance. It was inspiring to witness the support within the community, with ideas exchanged freely, fostering growth and empowerment.

Insights and trends

Apart from the community aspect, RSA Conference 2023 offered valuable insights into trends and concerns.


One notable takeaway was the significant investment in the Cybersecurity sector. Funding for Cybersecurity start-ups increased from $2.4 billion in Q4 2022 to nearly $2.7 billion in Q1 2023, underscoring the industry’s growth and the recognition of its importance in the digital landscape.

AI – Changing the landscape.

Discussions throughout the conference highlighted the transformative role of artificial intelligence in the Cyber security industry. AI technologies are reshaping the landscape, influencing threat detection, incident response, and overall security operations. The integration of AI into cybersecurity practices has become indispensable for organisations to stay ahead of evolving threats.

Talent shortage and calls for solutions.

Addressing the shortage of talent has become a top priority for organisations with discussions focussing on strategies to attract and retain skilled professionals. Collaborative efforts are necessary to bridge the talent gap and nurture a diverse and competent cybersecurity workforce.

Amid networking and business meetings, we took the opportunity to explore San Francisco’s renowned food scene, indulging in the famous Clam Chowder, Oysters, and the Buena Vista Irish coffee.

While RSAC is over, another key takeaway is that the fight is not over, so we look forward to next year to witness the continued growth in the industry and learn new and innovative ways to disrupt cybercrime.