Intel, Fortinet, launch cybersecurity initiatives

By: Pete Carey

Two Silicon Valley cybersecurity companies are independently calling for more personnel and more collaboration to battle cybercrime in an era when launching a ransomware attack requires little more than a credit card.

Outgunned and sometimes outfoxed by criminals, security companies are urgently trying to add skilled staff and are cooperating instead of competing to counter attackers who have staged massive thefts, pirated data on millions of people and held corporate networks hostage. Ransomware blocks access to a network until a payment is received.

Fortinet, a Sunnyvale security company, on Tuesday announced a Network Security Academy to address an estimated 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. Fortinet said it will provide equipment and know-how to universities around the world to train students for jobs in the cybersecurity industry.

“As an industry as a whole, we need to win this war together,” said Derek Manky, chief global security strategist with Fortinet.

Independently, Intel Security, of Santa Clara, called in a report Tuesday for more sharing of threat intelligence among security companies that are currently prevented by corporate policy from releasing data about attacks.

“We are up against highly resourced, highly skilled groups of bad guys out to steal millions,” said Raj Samani, Intel Security vice president and chief technology officer.

“The need for collaboration in the intelligence industry has never been more important,” said Samani, who is based in London. “Ransomware is child’s play now.”

“A lot of ransomware campaigns, you can log in, register and they’ll do the campaign for you. The only thing you have to do is give them a percent of your profits,” he said.

Fortinet, Intel, Palo Alto Networks and Symantec founded the Cyber Threat Alliance in 2014 to promote collaboration.

“It’s fair to say we can share intelligence on the attacker and remain competitive on technology,” said Manky, who was in Luxembourg for a NATO workshop on cybercrime.

Fortinet’s new academy is intended address an industrywide shortage of trained cybersecurity professionals.

There are an estimated 1 million job openings globally, and those are expected to grow to 6 million by 2019, according to Fortinet.

The security company is providing equipment and its experience training its own cybersecurity professionals over the past 15 years, Manky said. “We’re going help those students be armed with the necessary skill set, whether they are getting a job at Fortinet or at another place in the industry,” he said.

Seven universities have joined the network, and an additional 20 are expected in the next quarter, the company said. “We have been getting universities coming to us from all over the globe. There’s a massive demand and desire for this,” Manky said.

Total ransomware attacks increased 26 percent from a year ago in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a McAfee threat analysis released Monday by Santa Clara chip maker Intel.

Just last week ransomware attacks targeted major U.S. and British publications and more than one hospital.

“The level of technical sophistication in ransomware has gone up again from where we were last year,” when Intel devoted its threats report to the problem, Samani said.

“It is scary and quite daunting,” Samani said, “but it is important that we as an industry are collaborating and sharing with law enforcement. There is a whole history of battles we’ve won, rings we’ve disrupted, arrests made.”

In one more initiative, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office has awarded a $921,000 grant to the Metropolitan Education District, which operates high school training programs in the valley. MetroED is joining with Transmosis, founded by Silicon Valley tech companies to promote career technical education, and the McKinsey Social Initiative, to train cybersecurity apprentices and find them entry-level security jobs with companies in the valley. The initiative is reaching out to valley tech giants such as Cisco, Symantec and Palo Alto Networks, said Jim Stoch, business liaison with the Metropolitan Education District.

“We’re going to start the talent pipeline right here in Silicon Valley,” Stoch said.

Intel, Fortinet, launch cybersecurity initiatives