Interview:  Arun Kumar of ManageEngine on Beefing-up IT Security

Organizations in Malaysia can enhance their security operations by embracing integrated IT network monitoring solutions and identity management automation. This is what Arun Kumar, Regional Director, ManageEngine said to Business News in a recent interview.

Integrated network monitoring streamlines security processes by providing a unified platform, eliminating the need for multiple tools and increasing agility. Identity management automation facilitates workflow control and user onboarding through predefined templates. It enables quick execution of tasks, simplifies the removal of inactive accounts, and reduces provisioning costs.

These solutions enhance security, efficiency, and response times in the face of evolving threats and complex network monitoring requirements.

Below are the responses from Mr Arun Kumar of ManageEngine

What are the top 3 factors affecting Malaysia’s cybersecurity landscape in 2023?

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of cybersecurity awareness among businesses, especially among micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises. This continues to impact public trust in the ability of organisations to securely process and use personal data, which the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint states remains weak.

Much like the rest of the world, the local landscape is also acclimatising to the advances in artificial intelligence (AI). While organisations in Malaysia are striving to get the most out of emerging use cases, there are also potential security risks that need to be accounted for. Worryingly, a survey in the Malaysia National Artificial Intelligence Roadmap found that almost 38% of local organisations have no mechanisms to secure AI tools while nearly half have yet to develop any kind of risk management or cybersecurity policy for AI. Local organisations are also behind in terms of adopting AI-powered security tools, with nearly 80% going either partially or entirely without them.

Finally, the shortage of talent is another major hurdle. Recently, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil was reported as saying that the nation was still roughly 12,000 shy of the 27,000 skilled cybersecurity talents it needs by mid-decade.

Malaysian companies and Cyberattacks

How can organisations in Malaysia protect their network from cyberattacks and insider threats using network detection and response solutions (NDR)?

Simply put, digital transformation has rendered reliance solely on endpoint detection and response (EDR) ineffective against advanced threats. On the other hand, supplementing an organisation’s defences with NDR will improve its ability to holistically analyse network traffic data. This, then, provides an added level of security in the event that threats have gotten past EDR solutions. In other words, NDR enables organisations to uphold Zero Trust principles by continuously monitoring the network to detect internal and external threats that may have surpassed firewalls or other signature monitoring systems.

However, an effective NDR solution will go beyond just network traffic analysis. It will also provide real-time visibility into logs and network data, which is achieved by combining machine learning (ML), AI, a security operations centre, EDR, and security information and event management among other analytical techniques. NDR tools also integrate behavioural analytics with AI and ML to utilise historical data and correlate events across longer time periods. This significantly reduces time spent on diagnostics while empowering the identification of post-attack patterns to minimise impact on networks and end users.

Automate security operations

What can organisations in Malaysia do to automate their security operations to save critical response time?

In the face of complex, ever-evolving network monitoring demands, an integrated IT network monitoring solution enables organisations to streamline security operations on a single platform. This, then, eliminates the need to procure multiple, disparate tools and makes security more agile.

Meanwhile, an identity management automation solution enables organisations to empower automation through enhanced supervision. This allows business workflows to be implemented and reviewed by workflow agents, establishing control over scheduled automation tasks. Furthermore, this allows the organisation to onboard users with ease, as a user creation template can be selected to auto-populate the attributes of new user accounts with predefined, corresponding attributes.

Not only that, but the right identity management automation tool will also allow organisations to choose a task from a drop-down list and run it immediately. This ensures inactive accounts can be phased out with ease, removing the security risk that they pose. More importantly, a robust, integrated identity management automation solution enables organisations to choose a user management task and set follow-up tasks, conditions, and a time period for the execution. These condition-based actions help automate mundane administrative tasks effortlessly while greatly reducing costs associated with provisioning and deprovisioning users.

Staying ahead

How can Malaysian enterprises stay ahead of the game?

A key ingredient for success in recent years has been the expanding role of IT. However, this is not without its challenges; our own survey revealed that nearly every respondent from 3,300 organisations across 15 countries said that the decentralisation of IT has raised new security challenges. Therefore, fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness is crucial within organisations, as is building a trusted, secure digital environment. 

Awareness-raising initiatives should be performed in tandem with implementing Zero Trust and upholding the principle of least privilege. This can be done by granting privileges to each user only to the extent that they can execute the tasks that are critical for their roles. Ultimately, it is about enabling users to access what they need to be productive while protecting company assets. 

This will mitigate the very real risk of insider threats and the threat of account compromise without stopping employees from creating business value. It’s obvious that not all users need access to all the resources in the network, and creating categories of accounts that sort users based on the privileges they’re given will exponentially raise an organisation’s ability to show customers, partners, and regulators that they are equipped to thrive in today’s highly competitive business landscape. How? A least privilege policy diminishes the attack surface and prevents the spread of malware to more critical aspects of the network—and this level of protection will do wonders for trust and confidence in an organisation.

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