Automated Security Assessments and Proactive Measures Set to Revolutionize Cybersecurity

In a recent interview with CIO&Leader, Ron Davidson, CTO, Skybox Security analyses the security challenges and emphasizes the need for real-time monitoring and a proactive approach to cybersecurity. 

Ron Davidson,
CTO, Skybox

Remote work is not unique but during and after lockdown the demand for remote and hybrid work rose exponentially. But so did the security challenges posed by the same, especially the exploitation of vulnerabilities within organizations’s VPNs.

Ron being the CTO understands the importance of secure VPNs. He also knows how AI, data analytics and machine learning’s crucial role in not just improving cybersecurity but also driving innovation. 

In a recent interview with CIO&Leader, Ron Davidson, CTO, Skybox Security analyses the security challenges and emphasized the need for real-time monitoring and a proactive approach to cybersecurity. 

Ron Davidson is a respected 30-year tech veteran who is the current Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Engineering at Skybox. He leads the company’s long-term technology vision and oversees product innovation and the Skybox Research Lab. 

Previously, Davidson served as the senior director of security research and analytics at Cisco’s video security business and established Check Point’s first threat intelligence program.

CIO&Leader: Now that the hybrid workplace has become the norm, with employees choosing to work from their choice of location, what are the challenges you see emerging that enterprises are facing, and how are you planning on addressing them?

Ron Davidson: The rise of hybrid and remote workforces has introduced a significant security challenge: the deliberate exploitation of vulnerabilities within organizations’ VPNs. These VPNs are essential, providing secure access to critical resources for geographically dispersed employees. However, if not properly secured, they can become a gateway for malicious actors, creating new attack vectors. 

Skybox Vulnerability Control’s Vulnerability Detector feature offers a powerful solution to this growing threat. Unlike traditional vulnerability scanners that require disruptions and can impact network performance, Skybox leverages innovative techniques to automatically identify vulnerabilities within an organization’s VPN infrastructure on a daily basis. This continuous, passive approach ensures VPNs remain secure without sacrificing performance, allowing remote workforces to access critical resources with confidence. 

CIO&Leader: AI has become the new trend in the technology sector. How are you leveraging data analytics, AI, and ML to drive innovation and improve user experience? 

Ron Davidson: The rise of AI-powered attackers necessitates a comprehensive cybersecurity analytics approach. Not only are these insights crucial for securing critical assets, but they also fuel internal innovation. However, managing the data deluge from multiple security products can be a major hurdle. 

Skybox’s Continuous Exposure Management Platform simplifies security by connecting, normalizing, and optimizing data from existing tools. This empowers security teams to develop targeted defenses against evolving threats, foster innovation with security awareness, and proactively manage cyber risks for guaranteed enterprise protection.  With complete visibility, Skybox leverages advanced data analytics to process the massive amount of information about vulnerabilities, allowing for effective prioritization of mitigation efforts. This empowers organizations to rapidly detect, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities – the critical actions the market urgently demands. 

CIO&Leader: How does your team stay abreast of emerging cybersecurity trends and incorporate them into your strategies?

Ron Davidson: The National Vulnerability Database (NVD) is a ticking time bomb, overflowing with nearly 200,000  vulnerabilities in 2023 and a staggering 25% increase (over 25,000) reported in just 2022 alone. This isn’t mere data – it’s a growing threat for  every organization struggling to keep pace with the relentless tide of security risks. Traditional responses, often a patchwork of impromptu scans, spreadsheet tracking, and periodic patching cycles, are simply overwhelmed by the sheer volume of vulnerabilities.

This creates a formidable challenge for security teams, demanding a more comprehensive and proactive approach. 

Real-time monitoring is mandatory, but also a fundamental change as it replaces reactive cyber strategies. Skybox’s External Attack Surface Management  (EASM) solution focuses on identifying, analysing, and securing a company’s external digital footprint to mitigate vulnerabilities and exposures before malicious actors exploit them. 

CIO&Leader: How do you suggest enterprises stay safe in this ever-evolving cybersecurity era? 

Ron Davidson: The explosive growth of internet-facing assets has created a sprawling attack surface. This expanding landscape, a byproduct of staying competitive in today’s interconnected world, overwhelms traditional security measures. Patching vulnerabilities becomes a troublesome task, leaving businesses exposed to a barrage of cyber threats. Unauthorized access, data breaches, and disruptive attacks can cripple operations, result in hefty fines, and erode customer trust. 

This is why more and more organizations must adopt a vulnerability management solution to help them address this challenge. However, not all vulnerability management solutions are created equal. Skybox’s 5-step program conquers cyber risks: meticulous asset inventory, scans & intelligence to find vulnerabilities, threat-based prioritization, fixing or compensating for weaknesses, and progress reporting for informed decisions. This comprehensive approach empowers proactive security. 

CIO&Leader: What are some of the top tech trends of 2024, which you are looking forward to? 

Ron Davidson: 2024 will see a dramatic shift from manual checklist assessments to automated procedures for evaluating third-party security. This mirrors the rise of external attack surface management, with companies adopting automated vendor assessments for a more holistic approach. Additionally, customers are poised to become more proactive, conducting in-depth evaluations and deploying automated solutions to bolster code controls and security measures. This focus on automation will ultimately strengthen the vendor-customer relationship by fostering trust and shared responsibility for security. 

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