Check Point's Gil Shwed: Cloud is the weakest link

Christopher Tredger
By Christopher Tredger, Portals editor
Vienna, Austria, 20 Feb 2019
Gil Shwed, founder and CEO of Check Point Software.
Gil Shwed, founder and CEO of Check Point Software.

The cyber security landscape is getting ever-more complex. The multi-vector, sixth-generation threats have emerged, cloud is the weakest link and almost no one protects their mobile devices.

This is according to Gil Shwed, founder and CEO of Israeli cyber security solutions provider Check Point Software Technologies.

Speaking at the company's CPX 360 2019 event in Vienna, Austria, yesterday, Shwed said the demand for cyber security staff is at an all-time high.

"For all of you cyber security professionals, if you keep doing what you are doing, you all have jobs for life," he told the almost 4 000 delegates during the opening keynote.

Shwed, who is credited with inventing the firewall, founded the company in 1993 on the back of the FireWall-1 software, which he developed with two of his founding partners.

He said the increase in threat actors and threat vectors, as well as the complexity of digital security and shortage of cyber security skills, call for a more focused approach from businesses.

In 2018, Check Point identified over a thousand threat actors, blocked over 100 million unknown attacks, while its ThreatCloud Managed Security Service passed 86 billion indicators of compromise queries (Google: six billion) per day and discovered16 555 vulnerabilities; a sharp rise from 6 447 in 2016.

Over 700 vulnerabilities affected mobile devices, which Shwed said "we all love but most of us do not protect". According to Check Point research, less than 1% of people protect their mobile devices against malware.

But it's the cloud that is the weakest link, he stressed.

"When we do our research [we find that] the easiest target is everything in the cloud. And these days, everything we do is connected to some application in the cloud."

Why is it so difficult?

Cyber security faces real challenges today, he said. "What can we do to get to the highest level of security? Our job is to make the world a more secure place; it's a big task."

He offered key reasons as to why cyber security is challenging.

Detection mentality: Many people are still in the detection mentality, he said. "[For them] the number one task is to find when they have been attacked. In cyber space, we cannot deal with detection because by the time we detect, we have already lost. We need to have a prevention mentality."

Not protected to the current level of attacks: Shwed said only 3% to 5% of companies are adequately equipped to protect against current fifth-generation attacks. "Most enterprises are protected against generation two and getting close to generation three." Meanwhile, generation five attacks are targeted but can also be large-scale; they are commercially-driven, government-grade attacks, not using some software developed by a kid to show off, he added.

There is too much complexity in cyber security: "About a decade ago, we had less than 50 threat actors, now there are over a thousand. Less than 100 alerts a day per firm, now it's on average over a million. And our industry is also getting more complex: there used to be 100 security vendors, today it's getting close to 3 000 vendors.

"There are at least 16 different attack vectors and 26 technologies, resulting in 416 different combinations, and it just keeps going up; there will soon be over 800 different combinations to solve.

"To solve this problem, you need to be super-sophisticated, probably smarter than Einstein."

And if that is not complex enough, the next generation of cyber attack, generation six, has emerged. The way to go, according to Shwed, is to simplify and consolidate cyber security, and "religiously" focus on prevention.

"Be future-ready for the next wave, next innovation of hack. Have an architecture that can stay ahead and can be automatically updated."

At its CPX 360 2019 event, Check Point announced the roll out of two additional security appliances in its GS Series and Maestro gateway threat prevention architecture as part of its strategy to integrate artificial intelligence and nano-technology to bolster prevention.

The technology combines the company's threat prevention suite with Sandblast Zero-Day protection and is designed to support the migration from monolithic systems to automated micro-services.

"We are effectively splitting our architecture to bring back control, unify security and implement AI-adaptive security control," said Shwed.

He added the company would make its full suite of cloud services and solutions available in 2020.