Kurt John: Threats Ebb, Flow, Grow, Shrink


“What I’ve discovered over the past two years is that the right way to look at threats is that they’re there, they’re alive. They ebb, they flow, they grow, they shrink. Something like an exploit control risk today is an IT risk tomorrow and the next a specific business risk. And that’s from a risk perspective.

“And so with threats, more or less the same thing happens, because I suspect most organizations face similar threats. What makes it different is where that organization is on its journey. What are its strategic priorities? What are the things that help it achieve strategic objectives? In other words, those nuggets of gold, those absolutely critical assets. And that’s where you start applying a stronger lens, or you narrow the aperture for the kinds of threats you need to focus on.

“So a lot of it for us is tied to strategic objectives, successful business results and working backwards from there. So if the company launches a new product, and even if we don’t expect to earn a lot of revenue from the product, it’s strategically critical to our transformation from an industrial hardware manufacturer to an industrial technology company. Those are the types of risks and threats that you want to limit your lens to make sure it’s protected because it’s critical to the company’s future.”

M&A and threats from within

“There are some really interesting threats and risks that I see on the horizon. It’s going to be really interesting to see how we navigate them. Are we going to face them all? I think so, whatever industry you’re in, the one maybe more than the other And I mention two specifically.

“The first is M&A, or let’s call it a variant of the supply chain attack. This is where the market is super saturated with these start-ups – and not just in cyber but across the board – and so bigger companies are taking over these smaller companies. We see indications that the smaller companies could be at risk in the near term and they are hedging their bets on when a takeover happens so that they can gain a foothold in a larger organization.

“The other one that caught me off guard is an evolution of the threat from within. So we’ve seen in some, not necessarily in the US, but in other parts of the world, where the threat actor calls, say, your IT admin and says, “You’re getting paid horribly. What do you think of this? What if I email you, copy the file, you deploy it, it erases your tracks so no one knows you did it. And you deploy some ransomware in your organization. We’re going to ask for $6 million and you will get 35% of that $6 million. What do you think? And we ask for payment in bitcoin”.

“And it’s a fascinating insider threat scenario, which is very leaning because now whole generations are emerging where, say, Bitcoin or cryptocurrency means a lot more to them than probably the people who didn’t necessarily grow up with it. And so you see this leaning forward, merging these threats that normally wouldn’t happen, so it’s almost an evolution of the insider threat. And how do you explain that? How do you deal with that? So those are threats that I think we’re going to see even more of in the coming year.”


“Build strong, resilient, dynamic, diverse teams. cognitively diverse. Diversity across the board. That is the most important way to stimulate creativity in response to these threats we face.”

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