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“We want to compete with the large hyperscalars”

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Close the circle. This is what Akamai has managed to do in the last year, with two of its most interesting acquisitions in recent times: that of Guardicore at the end of 2021 and that of Linode, last February. Two names that not only complement their product portfolio, but as Francisco Arnau, VP of Akamai for Spain and Portugal, tells us, stand out spectacularly in their offer.

With Arnau we have had the opportunity to talk about how the company’s business has developed in the last year, the growth of investments that are being carried out in the field of information security and how they are preparing to become relevant players in the world of public cloud. This is what he has told us.

[MCPRO] What balance do you make of the year 2023 and what goals do you set for 2023?

[Francisco Arnau] It has been a very good year for Akamai as a company globally, regionally in EMEA and locally, with growth in the security area of ​​around 13-14% and for next year we expect double-digit growth as well. in Spain for next year.

[MCPRO] We are seeing a lot of movement in the cybersecurity sector, especially with the entry of private investment funds. How are you seeing the market?

[Francisco Arnau] Security is such a hot topic, and such a growing problem, that it is clear that we all need to invest. VCs, tech companies like Akamai, which has invested a lot of money in the last 4-5 years…but also customers are investing more and more in security. Threats are growing and more sophisticated and it is something that is more and more in our day to day.

[MCPRO] Speaking of purchases, your acquisition of Linode has been in the news in recent months. How does this acquisition fit into your strategy and how does it broaden your product and service offering? How do you want to develop in the cloud world from here?

[Francisco Arnau] It is an acquisition that fits spectacularly into our offer. Akamai is a company that has been talking about the edge for 25 years. And Linode is one of the pioneers in the world of cloud computing. The addition of Akamai, which has the largest distributed edge platform in the world, with the growing number of Linode cloud nodes, makes the solution perfect from the development itself, to the delivery and security of the application.

From here, the first step is full and complete integration with Akamai’s traditional solutions, positioning Linode as the perfect complement to Akamai’s distributed network. We plan to open 13 new data centers in 2023, also in Spain. First of all there will be one in Madrid and later, there will be another in Barcelona.

[MCPRO] Is this expansion in the number of data centers aimed at being able to share with the large hyperscalars?

[Francisco Arnau] Of course. Our intention is to play in the Champions League. It is true that it will take some time. Right now we are making a very important investment, firstly from Linode in Akamai’s DNA and then, what is going to be a brutal investment in infrastructure.

[MCPRO] What should companies be most concerned about in terms of security for next year?

[Francisco Arnau] What we are seeing, and what we have published in our latest report on Internet security, has been a significant increase in threats in three areas. One, a very large increase in denial of service attacks on distributed networks; on the other, we are increasingly seeing a bigger problem in the world of bots, which are generating brutal traffic in all companies (and much of it is aimed at stealing customer data or their credentials) and, of course, we have seen growth very important in the area of ​​ransomware.

They are no longer aimed only at large companies, but any company is likely to receive them.

[MCPRO] Precisely, you recently spoke in some reports about how DDoS and ransomware attacks were increasing for attacks that have not been seen until now. How do you help companies defend themselves in this field?

[Francisco Arnau] One year ago we acquired GuardiCore, the leading defense company against hacker attacks. ransomware. The company complements our suite of security solutions and if until recently Akamai was a little more focused on protecting from outside the firewall, now this acquisition also allows us to position ourselves within the infrastructure, the client’s perimeter.

In this way we provide a comprehensive security solution, from the DNS to the protection of applications and APIs, the protection of the client’s infrastructure regardless of where it originates, to its own internal perimeter.

[MCPRO] Don’t you think that the security market is now more fragmented than ever? That CISOS have more and more options to protect their assets, but perhaps there are too many companies that do very specific things? Would some market consolidation be necessary?

[Francisco Arnau] Yes, but one of Akamai’s goals is precisely that. Having a consolidation of all products and being able to offer a defense strategy from a single point of view. Hence the investment we are making in the development of new solutions, such as our “Bot Manager” for bot management, DNS protection, protection of user browsing… or the security of access to critical applications of business, in addition to multi-factor authentication.

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And it is true that there are more and more attack vectors, more things to protect. There is everything that teleworking has brought, which is distributing and increasing the risk… and we have to be increasingly aware of all this.

[MCPRO] If we go to investment, it is true that there is no digital transformation project that does not already take security as an absolute priority. So much so that IDC speaks of growth of 7.7% in Spain in 2022 and exponential growth for the period 2022-2025. In your case, how is this demand materializing?

[Francisco Arnau] Probably, the security division is going to be the one that grows the most in 2023. Akamai’s third-quarter results already anticipated a very significant growth in the security area, so that it is already the second area in business volume of the company behind that of CDN, and we expect that for Q1, Q2 of next year it will be the area with the highest billing of the company.

We have billed 400 million euros in Q3 and we expect that figure to grow in double digits over the next year, but not only in billing, but also in investment.

[MCPRO] At the same time, all this demand and concern for cybersecurity is causing two trends that are not nearly as positive: an alarming shortage of talent (with which we have been dealing for years) and widespread burnout in this specific sector.

[Francisco Arnau] I think that in Spain in general there is a lot of talent in the world of cybersecurity. Obviously there is a lot of competition to attract this talent and above all to retain it. We at Akamai are very concerned about this retention, for us it is one of the critical points in which we are immersed this year. For me personally, as the head of the region, for me this is absolutely critical.

And it’s not just about offering great salaries, but also about many other things that Akamai is trying to provide for its employees. Here we include, for example, the flexibility when it comes to working from the point of the country you want to work in, and a bit because of the very idiosyncrasy of the company in which in the end we all end up believing and which comes from above.

A relationship based on trust, on believing in the future of the company and of course on caring for the employee with measures such as our wellness dayseight days a year that the company provides us for our personal relaxation.

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How to avoid being a victim of cryptocurrency theft

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The cryptocurrency theft it has become a juicy business for growing cybercriminals. A way to take advantage of the anonymity of this new monetary model, which seems to be reviving again, for their own benefit. Being aware of possible signs will make us not be the next victim.

There are many scams that hide behind cryptocurrencies. Kaspersky analysts, for example, have discovered a new *text muted* campaign that spreads through direct messages on Twitter to steal cryptocurrencies from the victims. The method consists of asking users for help to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars from the cryptocurrency account of a stranger in exchange for financial compensation. The scammers ask victims to create and pay for a VIP account on a domain controlled by the scammers, which will cause them to lose their cryptocurrency.

However, this scam is by no means the first, but it also doesn’t look like it will be the last. *text muted* campaigns or other extortion methods based on cryptocurrencies are becoming more popular every day, as is this niche. In this sense, Andrey Kovtun, security expert at Kaspersky explains:

“Cryptocurrencies continue to be a hot topic for scammers as more and more users open cryptocurrency wallets. Blockchain allows cybercriminals to steal funds from victims without a trace, which makes matters worse. We believe that more and more scams of this type will appear. Users should know how to secure their accounts, wallets and coins.”

Although interest in cryptocurrencies has never been completely lost, the “resurrection” of their capitalization will motivate consumers and companies to reactivate their desire to invest and transact with these virtual currencies. So much so that it is already estimated that one in five consumers has cryptocurrencies and, in addition, plans to increase their wallet in the long term. One more vein to try to keep cybercriminals and their scams at bay.

Avoiding being the victim

To avoid being the protagonist of a similar *text muted* campaign with which we end up with 0 cryptocurrency, Kaspersky recommends that users do the following:

  • Be careful if the message pushes you to act urgently. *text muted*mers often apply pressure in this way. To do this, they include the words “urgent” or “immediate action required” in the subject of the message, in order to put pressure on the victim
  • Pay attention to how we react to *text muted*. If you can, it’s best not to reply to or click on these types of messages. If in doubt about whether or not it is *text muted*, the message should be deleted. It is not a safe practice to reply to *text muted* messages. Doing so alerts scammers that the account is active and invites more *text muted*. Links or attachments in emails should not be clicked – they can lead to the download of malware or initiate a phishing attack
  • Even if the message comes from a known person (such as one of our best friends), remember that these email accounts could have been hacked previously. You have to be cautious in any situation, even if the messages come from known sources and people. Pay attention to links and attachments
  • Install a trusted security solution and follow its recommendations. Security solutions automatically resolve most problems and alert the user when necessary.

With all this, the main recommendation that we can give from w3volution is, as in any other digital action, that the user apply the criterion of good sense. Cryptocurrencies are a very interesting environment if they are used judiciously and without falling into speculative or excessively attractive messages.

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73% of companies increase their investment in cybersecurity due to the increase in cyberattacks

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There is no doubt that the Internet has become an indispensable resource today for the vast majority of companies. But no, it’s not a safe place. It never was, because cybersecurity threats have always existed. However, the unstoppable technological progress of recent years has also brought with it an increase in increasingly sophisticated attacks suffered by companies. What to do then? There is no other option: increase spending on cybersecurity.

This is the conclusion behind the latest report published by the edge cloud platform, Fastly. 73% of organizations around the world have decided to increase economic items in this regard, a figure that is even higher in our country. Spanish companies have done so by 77%. But, is it investing well? Do companies and IT managers really know where to focus said investment? Not at all.

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Using cybersecurity tools well is essential

Only 61% of cybersecurity tools are fully active or well used, also in the case of public administrations (64%). Furthermore, due to a dispersed approach to cybersecurity implementation, more than 4 out of 10 of these tools overlap, causing them to protect organizations against the same threats and suffering a high number of false positives.

“These statistics paint a landscape of fear-fueled cybersecurity strategies. Businesses are well aware of the serious repercussions of a cybersecurity breach and are trying to increase their security budgets accordingly. However, this increase in spending is rarely driven by a key strategic objective. This means that companies often end up with solutions that are not fit for purpose and in many cases run these tools in log-only mode for a long period of time, offering absolutely no protection,” comments Sean Leach , Chief Product Architect at Fastly.

This study also reflects the great concerns and the serious threats contemplated by IT managers in the US by 2023. A line of continuity from those of 2022 but no less important. Data breaches and data loss (32%) lead the way, followed by malware (29%) and phishing (26%).

In Spain, things change slightly. These perpetrators are more afraid of malware (34%), to data breaches and loss (29%), and then to ransomware (22%). In the UK, for example, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and actors targeting known vulnerabilities are also prominent. This change represents a significant shift toward social engineering-based threats targeting individual employees for hackers.

Lack of experience in security Technologys

In this study, carried out with more than 1,400 IT decision-makers in large organizations from multiple sectors in the US, Europe, Asia Pacific and Japan, the security of remote workers has also been analyzed. That despite the fact that its number has decreased after the decrease in the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, they continue to be millions all over the world.

In this sense, up to 82% of IT managers were concerned about teleworking in their cybersecurity strategy. 46% predict that cyberattacks on remote workers will drive cybersecurity threats in the next twelve months, and more than a third have made protecting the new hybrid workforce their top priority for the coming year.

In Spain, however, this increase in fear of attacks through teleworkers is somewhat less (40%). “Although the penetration of teleworking has increased in Spain after the lockdowns, we have currently returned to a face-to-face situation of around 50/50, which is somewhat higher than others,” explains Daniel Howe, Security Senior Presales, Fastly.

The lack of experience in security Technologys among employees is another of the problems analyzed in the report, at least for 43% of them, increasing by 46% in the case of Spain. Here, This is especially a concern in smaller organizations. -fewer than 1,000 employees- with 55% more than in the largest companies -from 5,000 to 10,000 employees- with 29%. Although yes, half of the companies claim to be working on improving the cybersecurity skills of their employees through training or through talent acquisition.

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Tips for video conferencing safely

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Today, very few offices survive without having some kind of conference platform. But something that many workplaces forget is that the security of video conferencing is just as important as the security of calls, emails or any other form of remote communication.

Something as transcendent as protecting video chats, in reality, is not usually easy. Many companies are tempted to settle for security measures like firewalls or additional passwords in web tools. However, in practice, these are just hurdles that hackers can get around, and once overcome, organizations have no protection against illegal access to their private business communications and even user data. Even for small businesses, these types of attacks can have devastating consequences, costing immediate lost revenue and a serious tarnish on the company’s reputation.

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It should be noted that intrusions by hackers can arise as a result of human error. Therefore, in addition to using effective technology to protect your web conferences, it is essential that workers maintain good practices for video conferencing security and do not lose sight of them at any time.

Although technology must be designed securely from inception, there is always the possibility that employees will circumvent protocols, through ignorance or malice. Passwords and account access are the first line: If a cybercriminal gets hold of an employee’s account access credentials for the video calling platform, he will gain access to a huge amount of data and communications.

By far the most important best practice in video conferencing security is to keep passwords confidential in all cases. Employees should never share their passwords in chats, emails, or even calls, as hackers often try to trick users into sharing this information by pretending they are someone authorized in the company (a practice known as phishing).

In video calls, there are numerous guidelines that it is advisable to respect. However, these are the most important:

  • Immediately expel suspects: Unless you’re running a forum that’s open to a lot of people, users you don’t recognize shouldn’t be part of video calls. To prevent them from interrupting the call or listening to sensitive information, delete them instantly.
  • Mute unwelcome participants: If a group of trolls enters your call, it is crucial that you keep them silent while you manage to remove them. Features to mute all participants will help you maintain order until you kick them out.
  • Avoid suspicious links in chat: Many hackers will post URLs in chat to wreak havoc, even after getting kicked. These links will direct users to harmful or *text muted* sites, so they should be warned not to click on them or, much better, erase them from the screen.
  • Turn off video and screen sharing: Many trolls interrupt calls with obscene images and unbearable noise. Moderators and hosts should always keep in mind that they can disable the video or prevent other users from screen sharing.
  • Add limits to conferences: Passwords or user limits can be a very powerful additional security measure to prevent trolls from sneaking into your video calls.
  • Start the meeting without video or voice: For conferences open to a large audience, it is recommended that you set up the conference so that users are muted and without video from the start. This is a good firewall against interruptions.
  • Prioritize the webinar format: Events with many participants and few speakers tend to work better in webinar format than as video conferences. This is because in the webinar setup, the audience engagement options are limited, which allows interruptions to be kept to a minimum, without much effort on the part of the moderator.

Applying these good practices will allow us to secure our system, but, by themselves, they will not have a sufficient impact. Built-in protocols like login protection, encryption, and direct browser-to-browser connections can work, in combination, to keep your company meetings private, even when they’re taking place over the internet.

It’s crucial that these measures are integrated into the solution and are always activated as a component of the platform, instead of functioning as plugins or add-ons that can be disconnected. To be truly secure on a video call, security measures have to be an inherent aspect of the system and an integral part of its design.

Daniel Asensio, Wildix Country Manager

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