XON and NEC’s sixth annual summit in Cape Town on November 6 before AfricaCom launched the joint Cyber Defence Operation Centre (CDOC), the only such facility from a single service provider in Africa that offers end-to-end physical and cyber defence services, with all the underlying IT infrastructure necessary for a turnkey solution.
An invitation-only audience of CIOs and other executives from Africa’s most prevalent state and enterprise security organisations discovered how CDOC is an automated, machine-learning-based neural platform that provides proactive cyber security for the hyper-scale, hyper-speed threat scenarios currently challenging global organisations. CDOC also harnesses the capacity of a world digitalised, such as big data feeds from social media and other customer-specific sources, to link the cyber world to the physical world for integrated, smart city safety and security.
“Businesses face a wealth of new cyber security threats. And they’re evolving so rapidly at the moment that people are unable to keep up. You need machines to be able to keep up with the advances and shift us from a reactive state to a proactive state if you want your security to be anywhere near effective,” says Vernon Fryer, who heads up CDOC for NEC/XON. “Nations, organisations, and public venues also face numerous physical security threats from a variety of global and local challenges and CDOC’s ability to tie the cyber world to the physical helps them mitigate those too.”
CDOC simultaneously addresses the dire shortage of security professionals to meet the innovative threat vectors of multiple, advanced cyber criminals, terrorists, and nation state actors.
“In the cyber realm, the only way to become proactive is to automate our responses and today that means harnessing the power of machine learning in neural platforms. CDOC is still controlled by humans but it’s figuring out that attacks are happening at the speed of machines, not the speed of humans. People are so slow at security that machines infect thousands of devices before we even know it’s happening let alone actually doing something to stop it. The neural, machine learning-based CDOC figures out what’s happening with the attack on the very first machine or device on the network by looking at a whole range of parameters that add up to a threat scenario. The instant it detects such a scenario it locks down the affected machine. It instantly stops the attack from spreading, quarantines the issue, and alerts the humans who can then take their time making intelligent, informed decisions on how to proceed.
NEC collaborates closely with Interpol and various other global organisations in the fight to secure the safety and wellbeing of citizens in many countries. NEC has established several cyber defence and operations centres around the globe to assist in that on-going cause.
XON and NEC Africa’s centre differs markedly in that it provides that same world class service in Africa, from Africa, and also integrates the dependable solutions and services of XON’s enterprise-class systems integration business for the complete solution.
“Our customers get the full range of services and solutions from creating data centres to field infrastructure and services, even including alternative energy, and the networks that connect everything,” says Bertus Marais, GM of Public Safety and Security at XON. “The CDOC unites the worlds of physical and cyber security and include analytics and biometrics systems. The individual services are too numerous to mention but range from access and perimeter control and surveillance to fingerprinting, iris recognition, to big data analytics to provide facial recognition at scale, crowds in public areas behaviour monitoring and control, and then the increasingly crucial cyber security technologies and services.”
“Our primary goal in these solutions and services is to ensure the safety of people,” says Marais. “Wherever people are, from shopping centres to public parks, government institutions, their places of work, their homes during natural disasters or during other difficult circumstances, our CDOC is designed to help emergency responders and other safety and security personnel in a united, co-ordinated effort that maximises resources for positive outcomes.”
“The CDOC centre is a specialised combination of technologies and skilled personnel who monitor cyber situations 24-7 on behalf of clients who don’t have the expertise to do so themselves,” says Fryer. “The reality is that this is a rapidly evolving scenario that few organisations have the resources to effectively mitigate. The recent Deloitte hack is still being investigated. Although, they say few customers were affected. In another case, last year November, it emerged that someone used the Mirai botnet to conduct a denial of service (DDoS) attack against Liberia. Much closer to home, an unscrupulous person used Twitter to lure unsuspecting candidates into his fake South African Defence Force enrolment scheme, charging them, and essentially keeping them prisoner at a property in Pretoria. A South African woman was also rescued from a human trafficking syndicate in Malaysia after being lured in by a fake modelling competition online that attracted women from 14 countries.
“These examples combine the cyber world with the physical world,” says Fryer. “The borders between the two are increasingly blurred as the ramifications span from one to the other and back. The ability to reveal a wealth of personal information, from our physical locations to contacting us, anonymously, and tapping our supposedly restricted personal data, means criminals and other nefarious elements have unprecedented power to corrupt and subvert our safety and security. It’s a difficult world for the authorities and emergency responders to navigate as it relies on skills and infrastructure usually foreign to them.”
9 November 2017