Without adequately trained professionals, combating cyber threats is like entering a firefight underprepared

Hitesh Dharmdasani, CTO, AnexGATE and Founder & CEO, NetSense Cybersecurity Pvt. Ltd discusses the ethical dimensions of AI in fraud detection, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability. As cybersecurity practices integrate more AI and ML capabilities, ethical considerations become paramount to ensure these technologies are used responsibly and do not infringe on privacy or integrity.

In the complex world of cybersecurity, the dynamic between evolving digital threats and the measures to counteract them continues to challenge even the most robust defense systems. In an in-depth discussion with Nisha Sharma, Principal Correspondent at CIO&Leader, Hitesh Dharmdasani, CTO, AnexGATE, and Founder & CEO, NetSense Cybersecurity Pvt. Ltd, unravel the intricacies of today’s cyber threat environment, and examine the cutting-edge technologies that are shaping the future of cyber defense.

This exploration sheds light on the necessity of real-time threat protection within our interconnected digital ecosystem. With the potential for a single security breach to set off a cascade of damaging events, the stakes have never been higher. We scrutinize the increasing complexity of phishing schemes and delve into the paradoxical role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). These technologies, while enhancing defensive capabilities, also equip cyber adversaries with more sophisticated tools for attack.

Through this analytical dialogue with Hitesh Dharmdasani, we aim to equip organizations with a deeper understanding of the cyber threat landscape and provide them with strategic insights to fortify their defenses against various sophisticated digital threats. This conversation is about outlining problems and highlighting proactive strategies and ethical considerations essential for future-proofing cybersecurity infrastructures.

Hitesh Dharmdasani, CTO, AnexGATE and Founder & CEO, NetSense Cybersecurity Pvt. Ltd

CIO&Leader: Can you share insights on the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats and the importance of real-time threat protection in today’s interconnected world?

Hitesh Dharmdasani: The cyber threat landscape rapidly evolves, with attackers exploiting human vulnerabilities through phishing and other social engineering tactics. Along with ransomware and supply chain vulnerabilities, these attacks endanger everyone – from large enterprises to individuals. As devices and networks become more interconnected, criminals find new ways to bypass traditional defenses.

Real-time threat protection is crucial to combat these evolving threats. It goes beyond patching vulnerabilities after an attack, offering continuous monitoring, analysis, and response. This proactive approach allows for early detection and mitigation, minimizing damage to systems and data.

In today’s digital world, a single breach can have a domino effect, harming an organization’s reputation, finances, and even the security of its customers. Investing in robust real-time threat protection safeguards your digital assets and the entire digital ecosystem you interact with.

CIO&Leader: What are the key considerations when designing the architecture of large and complex networks to ensure they are both secure and efficient?

Hitesh Dharmdasani: One of our offerings, AnexGATE USG is a Comprehensive Unified Threat Management Solution designed to protect large and small networks from external and internal threats and provide a Secure Connectivity terminal for all internal communication. 

However, a good security architecture is always a layered approach, which involves deploying multiple security measures such as firewalls, Intrusion detection systems (IDS), and web security systems to protect against different types of threats at different layers. For example, organizations may use firewalls to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic and stop traffic bursts at lower network layers. At the same time, intrusion detection systems can detect more complicated attacks due to the vast signature databases and respond to a potential security breach in real-time. 

A UTM may do all the above, but it’s much better to have multiple systems acting in line and providing higher throughputs for more extensive networks.  Scalability is another crucial factor, as networks must accommodate increasing traffic volumes and support additional users and devices without sacrificing performance or security. A layered approach helps with this, too, since one appliance’s capacity does not limit you.

CIO&Leader: With phishing attacks becoming more sophisticated, what advancements have been made in the automated detection and flagging of phishing websites? 

Hitesh Dharmdasani: In the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity, automated flagging of phishing websites has evolved significantly, driven by AI and machine learning advancements. Today, organizations rely on sophisticated algorithms to analyze website content, URL structures, and user behavior patterns to swiftly identify and flag potential phishing attempts. For example, machine learning algorithms can analyze patterns far beyond what a threat intelligence feed can. To identify potentially malicious activity, AI-powered systems can dynamically adapt and respond to emerging threats in real-time. Additionally, comprehensive threat management solutions like Unified Threat Management (UTM) offer advanced features such as real-time monitoring and threat intelligence integration, further enhancing an organization’s ability to combat phishing threats effectively.

Moreover, integrating threat intelligence feeds and leveraging cloud-based security solutions can enhance detection capabilities and provide comprehensive protection against phishing attacks. By leveraging these advancements, organizations can strengthen their defenses and proactively detect and mitigate phishing threats before they cause harm.

CIO&Leader: How can organizations build and utilize threat intelligence to preempt cybersecurity threats? 

Hitesh Dharmdasani: By utilizing comprehensive threat intelligence, which includes data from various sources such as security feeds, incident reports, and threat intelligence platforms, organizations can gain valuable insight into emerging threats and adversary tactics. Moreover, threat intelligence can also provide early warnings of potential phishing campaigns by identifying suspicious URLs or email addresses associated with malicious activities.

By leveraging this intelligence, organizations can proactively block access to phishing websites or deploy email filtering mechanisms to prevent employees from falling prey to phishing attempts. One of our offerings, the AnexDNS Cloud, makes managing web filtering settings from anywhere easy. Whether at the office, home, or on the go, you can monitor web usage, block unwanted sites, and limit access to specific content categories. This is invaluable in the context of people working from home and using email on their own devices.

CIO&Leader: Looking ahead, what are the most significant emerging trends in cybersecurity, and what challenges do they pose to organizations?

Hitesh Dharmdasani: The most significant emerging trends in cybersecurity and the challenges that organizations pose include the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The increasing interconnectedness of IoT devices presents new challenges in securing networks and data, as these devices often need robust security measures.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies: AI and ML are increasingly used in cybersecurity for threat detection and response, but they also introduce new risks, such as AI-driven attacks and adversarial ML. It is now easier than ever to craft a unique message per phishing attempt, thereby forcing threat intelligence systems to gather more information to detect the same threat.
  • Cloud computing and hybrid cloud environments: The adoption of cloud computing continues to grow, leading to an expanded attack surface and the need for enhanced cloud security measures to protect sensitive data and applications.
  • Skills gap: The demand for cybersecurity professionals with expertise in emerging technologies such as AI, MI, and cloud security outpaces the supply, creating a skills gap that organizations must address to effectively protect against cyber threats. Overall, these emerging trends in cybersecurity bring both opportunities and challenges for organizations; organizations need to prioritize investments in cybersecurity technologies, workforce training, and proactive threat intelligence programs to stay ahead of emerging threats and safeguard their digital assets and operations.

CIO&Leader: How is AI transforming the approach to fraud detection, and what are the key benefits of integrating AI technologies into fraud prevention strategies?

Hitesh Dharmdasani: AI is fundamentally transforming the approach of fraud detection by revolutionizing how organizations analyze and respond to fraudulent activities. By using the power of advanced machine learning algorithms, AI enables organizations to detect fraudulent patterns and variances in vast amounts of data with unprecedented accuracy and speed. One of the key ways AI is transforming fraud detection is its ability to find many needles in many haystacks, which would not be possible for a human to do. 

Traditional fraud detection methods often rely on rule-based systems and blocklists that struggle to keep pace with the rapidly evolving tactics of fraudsters. In contrast, AI-powered fraud detection systems can continuously learn from new data and adapt their detection algorithms to detect emerging fraud patterns more effectively. AI can uncover sophisticated fraud schemes that would otherwise go undetected by analyzing multiple data points and identifying correlations that may not be apparent to human analysts.

CIO&Leader: As cybersecurity technologies advance, how do you see ethical considerations shaping their development and deployment?

Hitesh Dharmdasani: Ethical considerations are crucial in shaping the approach to cybersecurity technologies. After all, when it comes to cybersecurity, it’s not just exploiting technical vulnerabilities but also human vulnerabilities. Ethical considerations encompass various aspects, including privacy, transparency, and accountability. One of the primary ethical considerations is privacy, as cybersecurity measures often involve accessing and analyzing sensitive data. 

Organizations must ensure their cybersecurity measures respect individuals’ privacy rights and adhere to relevant regulatory requirements. Additionally, there are ethical implications related to the potential misuse of cybersecurity technologies. While these technologies are designed to enhance security and protect against threats, they could also be used for malicious purposes if not implemented responsibly. Secondly, Transparency and accountability are ethical considerations in cybersecurity. Organizations must be transparent about the capabilities and limitations of their cybersecurity technologies and how they collect process, and store data. 

Having an approach where access and visibility are granted only on a need-to-know basis or a role-based access control approach ensures that even administrators cannot go beyond their call of duty and intrude into user privacy.

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