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Theresa Payton's FICO World Keynote: White House, Black Art

“A security breach is inevitable, so how do we prepare and recover from one?” warned Theresa Payton, former White House CIO and cybersecurity authority in her keynote to the audience at FICO World.

Preparedness was the message; proactive planning the answer to a problem that has shot to the top of corporate agendas across the US and around the world.

Data breaches have been thrust into the media spotlight in the past year after a string of high-profile incidents. Target’s loss of 40 million credit and debit cards is still fresh in people’s minds, while more recently we have seen data comprises at Home Depot and an Apple iCloud celebrity nude selfie scandal.

These incidents are both embarrassing and extremely costly from a fraud, operations and brand reputation perspective.

Payton believes that corporations need to embrace a mix of behavioral change and technology to be effective against data breaches as they become the new honeypot for criminals.

The first step is asking management –“What are we going to do to prevent a breach from happening and what are we doing to help our customers?”

Next comes mapping the approach. Payton believes that you can’t boil the ocean and that you should pick the two most important digital assets to protect within your organization. In the theme of her past role, she named these assets the POTUS (President of the United States) and the VP of your administration.

Once identified, these assets should inform your investments and approach. Then a 90 day post-breech plan should be developed. Payton explained the importance of identifying all the players and procedures: What’s our crisis PR plan? Do we have a 24/7 customer call center we can switch on? Who will be our data breach lawyer? What’s our fallback system?

Payton also explained that part of the being effective against the dark arts of cybercriminals is to pay careful attention to all your contracts.

“Only 28% of companies strenuously require their vendors, partners and supply chain to match levels of risk control. If you are moving to the cloud for example, make sure you have a ‘pre-nup’ with your provider. Make sure you have an SLA about a breech in the cloud that details how quickly you will be notified, what will be done and how you might rectify the situation.”

Being a good neighbor is also important. Make sure your suppliers report any incidents to you, so you can be vigilant and examine potential ways others have been attacked.

When it comes to technology, Payton is a big believer in behavioral analytics. To her mind, with the current velocity of attacks (a new malware deviant is discovered in the wild every 90 seconds) analytics is the only way to discover out-of-pattern attacks on your network.

Payton explained that not harnessing analytics could leave you at a disadvantage.

“The bad guys are using Big Data now to manage Botnets, malware, command and control systems for their operations.”

Increasing the number of attacks and the variety of threat vectors has been a visible change in approach by criminal syndicates. Fighting this Big Data attack, with a Big Data defense not only makes sense but is perhaps the only way to manage what is becoming an increasingly complex problem.

In the next few weeks we will post the full video of Theresa Payton’s keynote.

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