In-depth

Q&A: George Kurtz, CTO, McAfee

We met with the chief technology officer (CTO) of McAfee, the largest dedicated security vendor, to discuss the growing information security threats facing business, and how IT professionals can respond.

Spending on information security is one area that has escaped budget cuts in many enterprises, and for good reason. The threats against businesses continues to grow, as hackers become more sophisticated, and seek out new targets.

IT PRO met with George Kurtz, McAfee's chief technology officer (CTO), to discuss how companies can boost security, without standing in the way of innovation, and still allow businesses to exploit the consumerisation of IT.

Advertisement - Article continues below

You have been CTO at McAfee for around a year now. What's changed in that time, especially when it comes to the IT security threats faced by businesses?

What we are really focused on now are low and slow attacks, trying to evade any security technologies that are in place. We are seeing malware compiled for each company to avoid static signature detection and for the individual network settings of that company.

We are seeing much lower infection rates too as low as 10 computers within that company very targeted attacks at the critical servers and devices to gain access to whatever the intruder is looking for.

So why are attackers changing tack? What is prompting this?

It's more a refinement than a change. The refinement has really come in the ecosystem and the economy which has changed some of the tactics that the bad guys are using. Because the economy has become more fluid and more efficient and more anonymised in nature, not only are they trying to get in under the radar but they are just waiting. Sometimes they will wait months, even up to a year.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

These are almost sleeper cells within a company and they wait until the timing is right. When the timing is right it's almost a bank heist: they hit everything at oce pull out what they need and are gone.

They also have a technique I call social footprinting, mapping out what I call a "chain of trust" within privileged users. They are doing a lot of up-front reconnaissance so that when they attack, it has the most effect. So rather than "spray and pray", trying to infect as many people as they can, it is very targeted.

Featured Resources

Preparing for long-term remote working after COVID-19

Learn how to safely and securely enable your remote workforce

Download now

Cloud vs on-premise storage: What’s right for you?

Key considerations driving document storage decisions for businesses

Download now

Staying ahead of the game in the world of data

Create successful marketing campaigns by understanding your customers better

Download now

Transforming productivity

Solutions that facilitate work at full speed

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/business-strategy/careers-training/356422/ibm-job-ad-calls-for-12-year-experience-with-6-year-old
Careers & training

IBM job ad calls for 12-years of experience with six-year-old Kubernetes

13 Jul 2020
Visit/business/business-operations/356395/nvidia-overtakes-intel-as-most-valuable-us-chipmaker
Business operations

Nvidia overtakes Intel as most valuable US chipmaker

9 Jul 2020
Visit/security/cyber-attacks/356417/trump-confirms-cyber-attacks-on-russia-election-trolls
cyber attacks

Trump confirms US cyber attack on Russia election trolls

13 Jul 2020