As CEO of ForeScout Technologies Inc., which provides technology for continuous monitoring of networks, T. Kent Elliott says he has to anticipate the next generation of vulnerabilities to make sure the company is well-prepared to address them. So what does he believe is the most significant emerging risk? The Internet of Things.
"The Internet of Things, the wearables, toasters, lamps, refrigerators that are all going to have IP addresses - they're all going to be on the network, and they are going to become a serious security problem, and that's going to happen very quickly," Elliott says. "All those devices are not going to be as sophisticated as the smart phones that we use. They're going to have simplistic software."
As a result, these IoT devices are prime targets for malware infections that can then, in turn, be used to launch network attacks, Elliott says in an exclusive interview for Information Security Media Group's Executive Sessions series with industry leaders.
"My whole job is looking to the future and making sure we're ready ... and that's why this Internet of Things is on the top of my mind," Elliott says. "Anything that is simple to attack and breach becomes the attacking point on the network. We've got to be ahead of that every moment or we're going to be behind the '8 ball'."
Continuous monitoring of networks for threats, whether they're tied to the Internet of Things or other factors, requires gathering information from numerous security systems to spot signs of trouble, Elliott says.
"Most security solutions are silos and they are not working together," he says. "If you're going to have a proper solution, you have to have these products working in a more harmonized fashion. That's one of the challenges [we face] - helping companies we deal with bring together these silos and help them work in a more harmonized fashion."
In the interview, Elliott also:
- Discusses misconceptions about what the term "continuous monitoring" means. "It's real-time visibility of all users, all devices, all systems, all applications."
- Pinpoints the single biggest change in network security he's seen over the last 25 years.
- Describes strategies for mitigating advanced persistent threats.
Elliott has more than 25 years of industry experience. Before joining ForeScout, he was senior vice president and general manager of Nokia Internet Communications, president and CEO of Vienna Systems, vice president of sales and marketing at TMI Communications, and served in various executive roles at Mitel Corp., including senior vice president of product management, general manager for the Asia Pacific region and head of business development for Europe.