Category Archives: Executive Perspectives

Why AI Innovation Must Reflect Our Values in Its Infancy

In my last blog, I explained that while AI possesses the mechanics of humanness, we need to train the technology to make the leap from mimicking humanness with logic, rational and analytics to emulating humanness with common sense. If we evolve AI to make this leap the impact will be monumental, but it will require our global community to take a more disciplined approach to pervasive AI proliferation. Historically, our enthusiasm for and consumption of new technology has outpaced society’s ability to evolve legal, political, social, and ethical norms.

I spend most of my time thinking about AI in the context of how it will change the way we live. How it will change the way we interact, impact our social systems, and influence our morality.  These technologies will permeate society and the ubiquity of their usage in the future will have far reaching implications. We are already seeing evidence of how it changes how we live and interact with the world around us.

Think Google. It excites our curiosity and puts information at our fingertips. What is tripe – should I order it off the menu? Why do some frogs squirt blood from their eyes? What does exculpatory mean?

AI is weaving the digital world into the fabric of our lives and making information instantaneously available with our fingertips.

AI-enabled technology is also capable of anticipating our needs. Think Alexa. As a security professional I am a hold out on this technology but the allure of it is indisputable. It makes the digital world accessible with a voice command. It understands more than we may want it to – Did someone tell Alexa to order coffee pods and toilet tissue and if not – how did Alexa know to order toilet tissue? Maybe somethings I just don’t want to know.

I also find it a bit creepy when my phone assumes (and gets it right) that I am going straight home from the grocery store letting me know, unsolicited, that it will take 28 minutes with traffic. How does it know I am going home? I could be going to the gym. It’s annoying that it knows I have no intention of working out. A human would at least have the decency to give me the travel time to both, allowing me to maintain the illusion that the gym was an equal possibility.

On a more serious note, AI-enabled technology will also impact our social, political and legal systems. As we incorporate it into more products and systems, issues related to privacy, morality and ethics will need to be addressed.

These questions are being asked now, but in anticipation of AI becoming embedded in everything we interact with it is critical that we begin to evolve our societal structures to address both the opportunities and the threats that will come with it.

The opportunities associated with AI are exciting.  AI shows incredible promise in the medical world. It is already being used in some areas. There are already tools in use that leverage machine learning to help doctors identify disease related patterns in imaging. Research is under way using AI to help deal with cancer.

For example, in May 2018, The Guardian reported that skin cancer research using a convolutional neural network (CNN – based on AI) detected skin cancer 95% of the time compared to human dermatologists who detected it 86.6% of the time. Additionally, facial recognition in concert with AI may someday be commonplace in diagnosing rare genetic disorders, that today, may take months or years to diagnose.

But what happens when the diagnosis made by a machine is wrong? Who is liable legally? Do AI-based medical devices also need malpractice insurance?

The same types of questions arise with autonomous vehicles. Today it is always assumed a human is behind the wheel in control of the vehicle. Our laws are predicated on this assumption.

How must laws change to account for vehicles that do not have a human driver? Who is liable? How does our road system and infrastructure need to change?

The recent Uber accident case in Arizona determined that Uber was not liable for the death of a pedestrian killed by one of its autonomous vehicles. However, the safety driver who was watching TV rather than the road, may be charged with manslaughter. How does this change when the car’s occupants are no longer safety drivers but simply passengers in fully autonomous vehicles. How will laws need to evolve at that point for cars and other types of AI-based “active and unaided” technology?

There are also risks to be considered in adopting pervasive AI. Legal and political safeguards need to be considered, either in the form of global guidelines or laws. Machines do not have a moral compass. Given that the definition of morality may differ depending on where you live, it will be extremely difficult to train morality into AI models.

Today most AI models lack the ability to determine right from wrong, ill intent from good intent, morally acceptable outcomes from morally irreprehensible outcomes. AI does not understand if the person asking the questions, providing it data or giving it direction has malicious intent.

We may find ourselves on a moral precipice with AI. The safeguards or laws I mention above need to be considered before AI becomes more ubiquitous than it already is.  AI will enable human kind to move forward in ways previously unimagined. It will also provide a powerful conduit through which humankind’s greatest shortcomings may be amplified.

The implications of technology that can profile entire segments of a population with little effort is disconcerting in a world where genocide has been a tragic reality, where civil obedience is coerced using social media, and where trust is undermined by those that use mis-information to sew political and societal discontent.

There is no doubt that AI will make this a better world. It gives us hope on so many fronts where technological impasses have impeded progress. Science may advance more rapidly, medical research progress beyond current roadblocks and daunting societal challenges around transportation and energy conservation may be solved.  It is another tool in our technological arsenal and the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of it improving the global human condition.

But realizing its advantages while mitigating its risks will require commitment and hard work from many conscientious minds from different quarters of our society. We as the technology community have an obligation to engage key stakeholders across the legal, political, social and scientific community to ensure that as a society we define the moral guardrails for AI before it becomes capable of defining them, for or in spite of, us.

Like all technology before it, AI’s social impacts must be anticipated and balanced against the values we hold dear.  Like parents raising a child, we need to establish and insist that the technology reflect our values now while its growth is still in its infancy.

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I am an AI Neophyte

I am an Artificial Intelligence (AI) neophyte. I’m not a data scientist or a computer scientist or even a mathematician. But I am fascinated by AI’s possibilities, enamored with its promise and at times terrified of its potential consequences.

I have the good fortune to work in the company of amazing data scientists that seek to harness AI’s possibilities. I wonder at their ability to make artificial intelligence systems “almost” human. And I use that term very intentionally.

I mean “almost” human, for to date, AI systems lack the fundamentals of humanness. They possess the mechanics of humanness, qualities like logic, rationale, and analytics, but that is far from what makes us human. Their most human trait is one we prefer they not inherit –  a propensity to perpetuate bias.  To be human is to have consciousness. To be sentient. To have common sense. And to be able to use these qualities and the life experience that informs them to interpret successfully not just the black and white of our world but the millions of shades of grey.

While data scientists are grappling with many technical challenges associated with AI there are a couple I find particularly interesting. The first is bias and the second is lack of common sense.

AI’s propensity to bias is a monster of our own making. Since AI is largely a slave to the data it is given to learn from, its outputs will reflect all aspects of that data, bias included. We have already seen situations where applications leveraging AI have perpetuated human bias unintentionally but with disturbing consequences.

For example, many states have started to use risk assessment tools that leverage AI to predict probable rates of recidivism for criminal defendants. These tools produce a score that is then used by a judge for determining a defendant’s sentencing. The problem is not the tool itself but the data that is used to train it. There is evidence that there has historically been significant racial bias in our judicial systems, so when that data is used to train AI, the resulting output is equally biased.

A report by ProPublica in 2016 found that algorithmic assessment tools are likely to falsely flag African American defendants as future criminals at nearly twice the rate as white defendants*. For any of you who saw the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report, it is disturbing to consider the similarities between the fictional technology used in the movie to predict future criminal behavior and this real life application of AI.

The second challenge is how to train artificial intelligence to be as good at interpreting nuance as humans are. It is straight forward to train AI how to do something like identifying an image as a Hippopotamus. You provide it with hundreds or thousands of images or descriptions of a hippo and eventually it gets it right most if not all the time.

The accuracy percentage is likely to go down for things that are perhaps more difficult to distinguish—such as a picture of a field of sheep versus a picture of popcorn on a green blanket—but  with enough training even this is a challenge that can be overcome.

The interesting thing is that the challenge is not limited to things that lack distinguishing characteristics. In fact, the things that are so obvious that they never get stated or documented, can be equally difficult for AI to process.

For example, we humans know that a hippopotamus cannot ride a bicycle. We inherently know that if someone says “Jimmy played with his boat in the swimming pool” that, except in very rare instances likely involving eccentric billionaires, the boat was a toy boat and not a full-size catamaran.

No one told us these things – it’s just common sense. The common sense aspects of interpreting these situations could be lost on AI. The technology also lacks the ability to infer emotion or intent from data. If we see someone buying flowers we can mentally infer why – a romantic dinner or somebody’s in the doghouse. We can not only guess why they are buying flowers, but when I say somebody’s in the dog house you know exactly what I mean. It’s not that they are literally in the dog house, but someone did something stupid and the flowers are an attempt at atonement.

That leap is too big for AI today. When you add to the mix cultural differences it exponentially increases the complexity. If a British person says put something in the boot it is likely going to be groceries. If it is an American it will likely be a foot. Teaching AI common sense is a difficult task and one that will take significant research and effort on the part of experts in the field.

But the leap from logic, rationale and analytics to common sense is a leap we need AI to make for it to truly become the tool we need it to be, in cybersecurity and in every other field of human endeavor.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss the importance of ensuring that this profoundly impactful technology reflects our human values in its infancy, before it starts influencing and shaping them itself.

*ProPublica, Machine Bias, May 23, 2016

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Celebrating Mother’s Day: How McAfee Supports Expecting & Working Mothers

Mother. It’s one of the best, hardest, most rewarding, challenging and unpredictable jobs a woman can have.

As we approach Mother’s Day in the U.S, I’m reminded of the immense happiness motherhood brings me. I’m also reminded of my own mother. As a child, I distinctly remember watching her getting ready for work. I remember what it stirred in me. In a word? Pride. My mother’s commitment to her career inspired me. I wanted a career I would be passionate about, and in turn, inspire my own children.

That’s why this Mother’s Day I’m appreciating working for a company where I can be a mother and a business professional in a role I truly love. I’m also reflecting on how critical the strides we’re making in workplace culture, policies, and programs are to better serve working mothers and parents.

In an industry made up of just 24% women, we can’t afford to miss out on the perspectives and innovation we unlock when we ensure our workplace mirrors the world in which we live. And considering our current cybersecurity talent shortage, an inclusive workplace is critical to bridging our workforce gap.

To encourage more women to bring (and keep!) their valuable and highly sought-after skills in the workplace, we can’t just talk a good game when it comes to championing inclusion and diversity; we have to walk the walk. Here are three ways McAfee is doing just that when it comes to supporting mothers:

Supporting You as Your Family Grows

Welcoming a child is an exciting time in your life. We want to help you take the time you need and to celebrate, bond, and adjust to new life with the newest addition to your family. Whether it’s offering extended leave with your new baby, providing the convenience of bringing your kids to the office or flexible working schedules, our parent initiatives recognize, celebrate, and accommodate your life’s big moments.

Offering Comfort and Convenience in the Workplace

Coming back to work after having a baby can be a big transition for many, which is why McAfee helps support mothers returning to the workplace after leave. For example, if you’re a nursing mother who travels throughout the U.S., we offer a Milk Stork delivery program to give you peace of mind and convenience to get your baby’s nourishment delivered in a safe and speedy manner.

In an ever-growing number of McAfee offices we offer Mother’s Rooms to provide a private and convenient way for mothers or mothers-to-be to enjoy a quiet and comfortable space while providing for their infant (and let’s be honest, sometimes that’s the only 20 minutes or so of quiet time a new working mother might have!). And for expecting or new mothers, Stork Parking provides reserved parking spaces. Fun fact: a pregnant woman’s lungs become increasingly compact as the baby grows which means getting from A to B is no longer a simple task. We recognize this at McAfee. We know that the small things count.

Reintroducing Mothers to the Workforce

We know careers aren’t always linear, and parents may choose to pause their careers to care for their families. McAfee’s Return to Workplace program taps into the potential of those who may have taken a career break with the support, guidance, and resources needed to successfully rejoin the workforce. This global initiative was launched in our Bangalore, Cork, and Plano offices last year. I’m proud to share 80 percent of program participants were offered a full-time position at McAfee.

Being a working mother is a strength. It only adds to the varying perspectives and experiences that drive innovative solutions. At McAfee, I’m so proud of the ways we’re recognizing and supporting mothers – and all of our team members – in being successful at home and at the workplace.

To learn more about the ways we support working mothers and our efforts to build an inclusive workplace where all can belong, read our first-ever Inclusion & Diversity Report.

Ready to join a company that helps you achieve your best at work and at home? We’re hiring.

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Why Data Security Is Important

The Increasing Regulatory Focus on Privacy

The ongoing trend of data breaches and the increasing privacy risks associated with social media continue to be a national and international concern. These issues have prompted regulators to seriously explore the need for new and stronger regulations to protect consumer privacy. Some of the regulatory solutions focus on U.S. federal-level breach and privacy laws, while individual U.S. states are also looking to strengthen and broaden their privacy laws.

The focus on stronger consumer privacy has already sparked new regulations like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Many customers of U.S. companies are covered by GDPR’s broad privacy protections, which protects the rights of residents of the European Economic Area. As U.S. states increasingly pass their own privacy laws, the legal environment is becoming more fragmented and complex. This has led to an increased focus on potentially creating a U.S. federal privacy law, perhaps along the lines of the GDPR or otherwise protecting individuals’ information more broadly than the sectoral laws now in place. Although it is not clear whether effective national legislation will pass in the immediate future, the continued focus on regulatory solutions to strengthen consumer data privacy appears certain.

Privacy is Important to McAfee

For technology to be effective, individuals and corporations must be able to trust it. McAfee believes that trust in the integrity of systems – whether a corporate firewall or a child’s cell phone – is essential to enabling people to get the most possible out of their technologies. Fundamental to that trust is privacy and the protection of data. McAfee is committed to enabling the protection of customer, consumer and employee data by providing robust security solutions.

Why Privacy Matters to McAfee
  • Protecting our customers’ personal data and intellectual property, and their consumer and corporate products, is a core value.
  • Robust Privacy and Security solutions are fundamental to McAfee’s strategic vision, products, services and technology solutions.
  • Privacy and Security solutions enable our corporate and government customers to more efficiently and effectively comply with applicable regulatory requirements.
  • McAfee believes privacy and security are necessary prerequisites for individuals to have trust in the use of technology.

Effective Consumer Privacy Also Requires Data Security

Today, electronic systems are commonly used by government, business and consumers. There are many types of electronic systems and connected devices used for a variety of beneficial purposes and entertainment. The use of data is a common element across these systems, some of which may be confidential information, personal data and or sensitive data.

A reliable electronic system must have adequate security to protect the data the system is entrusted to process and use. Data leaks and security breaches threaten the ability of customers to trust businesses and their products. Flawed or inadequate data security to provide robust data protection puts consumers’ privacy at risk.

Too often, privacy and information security are thought of as separate and potentially opposing concerns. However, there are large areas of interdependency between these two important policy areas. Privacy and information security must work in harmony and support each other to achieve the goal of consumer privacy. Privacy requires that consumers have the capacity to decide what data about them is collected and processed, and the data must have safeguards driven by appropriately secure technologies and processes.

Data security is the process of protecting data from unauthorized access and data corruption throughout its lifecycle. Privacy is an individual’s right or desire to be left alone and or to have the ability to control her own data. Data security also enables the effective implementation of protective digital privacy measures to prevent unauthorized access to computers, databases and websites. Data security and privacy must be aligned to effectively implement consumer privacy protections.

An effective risk-based privacy and security framework should apply to all collection of personal data. This does not mean that all frameworks solutions are equal. The risks of collection and processing the personal data must be weighed against the benefits of using the data. Transparency, choice and reasonable notice should always be a part of the way data is collected. The specific solutions of a framework may vary based on the risk and specific types of data. The key is to have in place a proactive evaluation (Privacy and Security by Design principles) to provide the most effective protection for the specific application and data use.

Examples Where Privacy Regulations Require or Enable Robust Data Security

Breach Notification Safe Harbor for Encrypted Data in U.S. State Privacy Laws

Data breach notification laws require organizations to notify affected persons or regulatory authorities when an unauthorized acquisition of personal data occurs as defined by the applicable law or regulation. Many U.S. state laws provide a “safe harbor” for data breach notice obligations if the data was encrypted. A safe harbor may be defined as a “provision of a statute or a regulation that reduces or eliminates a party’s liability under the law, on the condition that the party performed its actions in good faith or in compliance with defined standards.”

Security safe harbor provisions may be used to encourage entities and organizations to proactively protect sensitive or restricted data by employing good security practices. Encrypting data may protect the organization from costly public breach notifications.  Encrypted data may be excluded from breach requirements or unauthorized access to encrypted data may not be considered a “breach” as defined in the statute. To be protected by an encryption “safe harbor” exemption, the breached organization must encrypt data in compliance with the state statute. The state-specific statutes may also require control of the encryption keys to claim safe harbor.

GDPR Security Requirements

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2018, enhancing further the privacy rights of residents of the EEA.  In addition to allowing EEA residents access to personal data collected about them, the GDPR requires companies interacting with this data to perform risk analyses to determine how to secure the data appropriately.  The GDPR lays out basic security requirements in Article 32, GDPR Security of processing, which requires entities to “ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability, and resilience of processing systems and services.”

Controllers of personal data must also have appropriate technical and organizational measures to satisfy the GDPR. Business processes that handle personal data must be designed and implemented to meet the GDPR security principles and to provide adequate safeguards to protect personal data.

Implementing a robust security framework to meet the GDPR requirements means the organization should proactively evaluate its data security policies, business practices and security technologies, and the organization must develop security strategies that adequately protect personal data.

Next Steps:

Federal policymakers need to pass uniform privacy legislation into law. A key part of this effort must include sufficiently strong cybersecurity provisions, which are imperative to protecting data, as evidenced by GDPR and thoughtful state breach notification laws. Instead of relying on hard regulations to incent organizations to implement strong security, policymakers should include a liability incentive – a rebuttable presumption or a safe harbor – in privacy legislation. Such an approach, ideally aligned to NIST’s flexible Cybersecurity Framework, would enable policy makers to promote the adoption of strong security measures without resorting to a “check the box” compliance model that has the potential to burden customers and discourage innovation in cyber security markets.

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Federal, State Cyber Resiliency Requires Action

It is no shock that our state and local infrastructures are some of the most sought-after targets for foreign and malicious cyber attackers, but the real surprise lies in the lack of preventive measures that are able to curb them. Major attention has been drawn to the critical gaps that exist as a result of an ever-expanding attack surface, making old system architectures an increasing liability.

Recently, the city of Albany, New York became a victim of a ruthless ransomware attack, which created a series of municipal service interruptions. Residents weren’t able to use the city’s services to obtain birth certificates, death certificates or marriage licenses, and the police department’s networks were rendered inoperable for an entire day. This resulted in an enormous disruption of the city’s functionality and made clear that the threat to infrastructure is more real than ever. Bolstering state and local digital defenses should be of the utmost priority, especially as we near the 2020 presidential elections when further attacks on election infrastructure are expected. We must take the necessary precautions to mitigate cyberattack risk.

The reintroduction of the State Cyber Resiliency Act by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Michael McCaul (R-TX), does just that. The legislation demonstrates a critical bipartisan effort to ensure that state, local and tribal governments have a robust capacity to strengthen their defenses against cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). States have made clear that they suffer from inadequate resources to deal with increasingly sophisticated attacks, but also the most basic attacks, which require proper safeguards and baseline protection. This bill works to strategically address the challenges posed by a lack of resources to deal with emerging threats.

The possibility of cyber warfare must not be taken lightly and has long gone ignored. This bill shows that the status quo of kicking the can further down the road will no longer stand as a “strategy” in today’s political and cybersecurity landscape. Action is necessary to better secure our national security and the systems upon which every sector of our economy relies, from utilities to banking to emergency first responders to hospital networks to election infrastructure. It is our responsibility to create and support the safeguards against bad actors looking for gaps in our infrastructure.

The bill makes states eligible for grants to implement comprehensive, flexible cybersecurity plans that address continuous vulnerability monitoring, protection for critical infrastructure systems and a resilient cybersecurity workforce. States would also be able to repurpose funds to various local and tribal governments. In addition, the bill would implement a 15-person committee to review the proposed plans and track the spending of state and local governments. This committee would help states and localities formulate and deliver annual reports to Congress that detail the program’s progress. The specific funding was not disclosed, but this effort showcases the timeliness of the issue and why it is such an imperative step at this stage in time.

We must take basic steps to ensure the security of our state and local systems, and enable systems to be patched, maintained and protected from outside threats. This bill is a welcomed and needed effort by lawmakers to address the existing challenges states and local governments and infrastructures are dealing with every day.  As adversaries become increasingly sophisticated and targeted in their attack strategies, we have a responsibility to best equip states and localities with the necessary tools to close gaps and mitigate gaps.

We at McAfee are committed to partnering with federal, state and local governments to equip them with the best strategies to create a better and more secure cybersecurity future.

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McAfee CTO @ RSA: Catching Lightning in a Bottle or Burning Bridges to the Future?

I spoke last week at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on the subject of AI related threats and opportunities in the cybersecurity field. I asserted that innovations such as AI can strengthen our defenses but can also enhance the effectiveness of a cyber attacker.  I also looked at some examples of underlying fragility in AI that enable an attacker opportunity to evade AI based defenses. The key to successfully unlocking the potential of AI in cybersecurity requires that we in the cybersecurity industry answer the question of how we can nurture the sparks of AI innovation while recognizing its limitations and how it can be used against us.

We should look to the history of key technological advances to better understand how technology can bring both benefits and challenges. Consider flight in the 20th century. The technology has changed every aspect of our lives, allowing us to move between continents in hours, instead of weeks. Businesses, supply chains, and economies operate globally, and our ability to explore the world and the universe has been forever changed.

But this exact same technology also fundamentally changed warfare. In World War II alone, the strategic bombing campaigns of the Allied and Axis powers killed more than two million people, many of them civilians.

The underlying technology of flight is Bernoulli’s Principle, which explains why an airplane wing creates lift. Of course, the technology in play has no knowledge of whether the airplane wing is connected to a ‘life-flight’ rescue mission, or to a plane carrying bombs to be dropped on civilian targets.

When Orville Wright was asked in 1948 after the devastation of air power during World War II whether he regretted inventing the airplane he answered:

“No, I don’t have any regrets about my part in the invention of the airplane, though no one could deplore more than I do the destruction it has caused. We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the earth. But we were wrong. I feel about the airplane much the same as I do in regard to fire. That is, I regret all the terrible damage caused by fire, but I think it is good for the human race that someone discovered how to start fires, and that we have learned how to put fire to thousands of important uses.”

Orville’s insight that technology does not comprehend morality—and that any advances in technology can be used for both beneficial and troubling purposes.  This dual use of technology is something our industry has struggled with for years.

Cryptography is a prime example. The exact same algorithm can be used to protect data from theft, or to hold an individual or organization for ransom. This matters more than ever given that we now encrypt 75% of the world’s web traffic, protecting over 150 exabytes of data each month.  At the same time, organizations and individuals are enduring record exploitation through ransomware.

The RSA Conference itself was at the epicenter of a debate during the 1990’s on whether it was possible to conditionally use strong encryption only in desirable places, or only for desirable functions.  At the time, the U.S. government classified strong encryption as a munition along with strict export restrictions.   Encryption is ultimately just math and it’s not possible to stop someone from doing math.  We must be intellectually honest about our technologies; how they work, what the precursors to use them are and when, how and if they should be contained.

Our shared challenge in cybersecurity is to capture lightning in a bottle, to seize the promise of advances like flight, while remaining aware of the risks that come with technology.  Let’s take a closer look at that aspect.

History repeats itself

Regardless of how you define it, AI is without a doubt the new foundation for cybersecurity defense. The entire industry is tapping into the tremendous power that this technology offers to better defend our environments. It enables better detection of threats beyond what we’ve seen in the past, and helps us out-innovate our cyber adversaries. The combination of threat intelligence and artificial intelligence, together or human-machine teaming provides us far better security outcomes—faster—than either capability on their own.

Not only does AI enable us to build stronger cyber defense technology, but also helps us solve other key issues such as addressing our talent shortage. We can now delegate many tasks to free up our human security professionals to focus on the most critical and complex aspects of defending our organizations.

“It’s just math..”

Like encryption, AI is just math. It can enhance criminal enterprises in addition to its beneficial purposes. McAfee Chief Data Scientist Celeste Fralick joined me on stage during this week’s keynote to run through some examples of how this math can be applied for good or ill. (visit here to view the keynote).  From machine learning fueled crime-spree predictors to DeepFake videos to highly effective attack obfuscation, we touch on them all.

It’s important to understand that the cybersecurity industry is very different from other sectors that use AI and machine learning. For a start, in many other industries, there isn’t an adversary trying to confuse the models.

AI is extremely fragile, therefore one focus area of the data science group at McAfee is Adversarial Machine Learning. Where we’re working to better understand how attackers could try to evade or poison machine learning models.  We are developing models that are more resilient to attacks using techniques such as feature reduction, adding noise, distillation and others.

AI and False Positives: A Warning

We must recognize that this technology, while incredibly powerful, is also incredibly different from what many cybersecurity defenders worked with historically. In order to deal with issues such as evasion, models will need to be tuned to high levels of sensitivity. The high level of sensitivity makes false positives inherent and something we must fully work into the methodology for using the technology.

False positive can have catastrophic results.  For an excellent example of this, watch the video of the keynote here if you haven’t seen it yet.  I talk through the quintessential example of how a false positive almost started World War III and nuclear Armageddon.

The Take-Away

As with fire and flight, how we manage new innovations is the real story.  Recognizing technology does not have a moral compass is key.  Our adversaries will use the technology to make their attacks more effective and we must move forward with our eyes wide open to all aspects of how technology will be used…. Its benefits, limitations and how it will be used against us.

 

Please see the video recording of our keynote speech RSA Conference 2019: https://www.rsaconference.com/events/us19/presentations/keynote-mcafee

 

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Mobile World Congress 2019: Q&A with McAfee Leadership

Next week, Mobile World Congress (MWC) will kick off in Barcelona. This year’s event will have an estimated 107,000 attendees, along with 2,400 exhibitors, all representing about 205 countries. While the focus of the event is mobility, we can expect the industry to continue to drive conversations around IoT, artificial intelligence, 5G, connectivity, and more.

As Europe’s biggest gathering in the IT sector nears, we spoke with McAfee leadership about the major themes we should expect to see at MWC this year and what it means for McAfee.

Q: Artificial intelligence and the new 5G standard have been the hot topics of mobility. Do you think these two topics will play an important role at this year’s Mobile World Congress?

Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Security Evangelist: Absolutely. With 5G starting to be rolled out, everyone is waiting on bated breath to see how that affects society and our ecosystems in general. With technologies like 5G enabling almost zero latency, more data will be collected and aggregated. Insights from that mass of data can only be gleaned by using AI-based solutions.

Radhika Sarang, Director of Global Consumer Product Marketing: 5G and AI should be hot topics of discussion at MWC 2019. I fully expect several products and services displaying both technologies on the show floor. 5G will be transformative in how we consume content, adopt new technologies, and connect with one another. However, this phenomenon will increase the need for redefining the concept of digital trust. Narrow or weak AI has grown leaps and bounds recently in areas of natural language processing, machine learning, and advanced analytics. These technologies are also enabling cybersecurity teams to foresee cyberattacks and create proactive solutions.

Q: This year’s theme for Mobile World Congress is Intelligent Connectivity. What does this term mean to McAfee? What does it mean for enterprise businesses?

Davis: For McAfee, we would interpret that to mean that for something to be intelligent, trust must be established. Without trust, intelligent connectivity fails to exist.

Nathan Jenniges, Senior Director of the Device Security Business: It means having access to information when and how you need it. Increasingly the “how” is through mobile devices. The “when” is not defined by traditional business hours, as people engage at all times of the day. They also use the same device for enterprise business as they do for personal business, which increases the level of risk to an organization. Inherent in intelligent connectivity is security. You can connect at any time. But to connect intelligently, you need to be confident the connection is secure and not increasing your risk. As an example, you could connect your mission critical equipment to any electrical outlet. But if you connected intelligently, you’d have some sort of surge protector, so you don’t destroy your mission critical equipment. The surge protector is equivalent to protecting mobile devices from attack when they are connected to organizational resources.

Q: At any industry event, we can expect to see announcements for new technologies and IoT devices. What can you tell us about new security challenges that may arise this year and beyond?

Davis: Most everything being built today is engineered to be connected. However, most manufacturers are solving for time to market and convenience, thus forgoing any meaningful security controls. This results in the rapid expansion of the attack surface, which bad actors will most definitely target.

Sarang: Security threat vectors are shifting and evolving alongside the growth of IoT among consumers, enterprises, and network providers. Hackers are always looking to find creative ways to monetize in this increasingly connected world. With predictions of over 50 devices in each household by 2020, we fully expect to see more DDoS attacks and IoT-based ransomware. And with the advent of 5G that promises to transform our digital lives, it’s imperative that security is addressed as a top priority by service providers to create consumer digital trust in an even more connected world.

Q: How will mobile impact the enterprise in 2019?

Jenniges: Mobile threats continue to increase at record-breaking levels with more and more vulnerabilities discovered every month. In alignment with the threat, more business work is being done on mobile than ever before as mobile devices quickly become the dominant endpoint device. These devices access the same information and contain the same information that a traditional endpoint does with zero protection. As an attacker, you will look for the most efficient attack path and mobile is clearly the new favorite path.

 

We’ll be making a splash at this year’s conference, so be sure to stop by booth #5A21 in Expo Hall 5, where we will host demos, giveaways, and more. Also, be sure to follow @McAfee and @McAfee_Home for real-time updates from the show and opportunities to win giveaways throughout the week.

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Privacy and Security by Design: Thoughts for Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day has particular relevance this year, as 2018 brought privacy into focus in ways other years have not. Ironically, in the same year that the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect, the public also learned of glaring misuses of personal information and a continued stream of personal data breaches. Policymakers in the United States know they cannot ignore data privacy, and multiple efforts are underway: bills were introduced in Congress, draft legislation was floated, privacy principles were announced, and a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Privacy Framework and a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) effort to develop the administration’s approach to consumer privacy are in process.

These are all positive steps forward, as revelations about widespread misuse of personal data are causing people to mistrust technology—a situation that must be remedied.

Effective consumer privacy policies and regulations are critical to the continued growth of the U.S. economy, the internet, and the many innovative technologies that rely on consumers’ personal data. Companies need clear privacy and security expectations to not only comply with the diversity of existing laws, but also to grow businesses, improve efficiencies, remain competitive, and most importantly, to encourage consumers to trust organizations and their technology.

If an organization puts the customer at the core of everything it does, as we do at McAfee, then protecting customers’ data is an essential component of doing business. Robust privacy and security solutions are fundamental to McAfee’s strategic vision, products, services, and technology solutions. Likewise, our data protection and security solutions enable our enterprise and government customers to more efficiently and effectively comply with regulatory requirements.

Our approach derives from seeing privacy and security as two sides of the same coin. You can’t have privacy without security. While you can have security without privacy, we strongly believe the two should go hand in hand.

In comments we submitted to NIST on “Developing a Privacy Framework,” we made the case for Privacy and Security by Design. This approach requires companies to consider privacy and security on the drawing board and throughout the development process for products and services going to market. It also means protecting data through a technology design that considers privacy engineering principles. This proactive approach is the most effective way to enable data protection because the data protection strategies are integrated into the technology as the product or service is created. Privacy and Security by Design encourages accountability in the development of technologies, making certain that privacy and security are foundational components of the product and service development processes.

The concept of Privacy and Security by Design is aspirational but is absolutely the best way to achieve privacy and security without end users having to think much about them. We have some recommendations for organizations to consider in designing and enforcing privacy practices.

There are several layers that should be included in the creation of privacy and data security programs:

  • Internal policies should clearly articulate what is permissible and impermissible.
  • Specific departments should specify further granularity regarding policy requirements and best practices (e.g., HR, IT, legal, and marketing will have different requirements and restrictions for the collection, use, and protection of personal data).
  • Privacy (legal and non-legal) and security professionals in the organization must have detailed documentation and process tools that streamline the implementation of the risk-based framework.
  • Ongoing organizational training regarding the importance of protecting personal data and best practices is essential to the continued success of these programs.
  • The policy requirements should be tied to the organization’s code of conduct and enforced as required when polices are violated.

Finally, an organization must have easy-to-understand external privacy and data security policies to educate the user/consumer and to drive toward informed consent to collect and share data wherever possible. The aim must be to make security and privacy ubiquitous, simple, and understood by all.

As we acknowledge Data Privacy Day this year, we hope that privacy will not only be a talking point for policymakers but that it will also result in action. Constructing and agreeing upon U.S. privacy principles through legislation or a framework will be a complicated process. We better start now because we’re already behind many other countries around the globe.

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Step Up on Emerging Technology, or Risk Falling Behind

Earlier last year, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) put out a call for public comment on criteria for identifying emerging technologies that could potentially be subject to future export control regulations. The tech industry responded in full force, providing recommendations for how the federal government can ensure U.S. competitiveness in the global market while supporting the development of emerging technology (read comments submitted by McAfee here).

Emerging technology poses an interesting challenge for tech companies and federal regulators alike. In many cases, technologies that BIS designates as “emerging,” such as AI and machine learning, are already in widespread use around the world. Other technologies like quantum computing are very much in the research and development phase but have the potential to alter the course of national security for decades to come. Many of these technologies are difficult to define and control, and many are software-based, which greatly complicates the development of regulation. Software technologies, by their very nature, are fundamentally different from physical items and physical process technologies. Their intangible, readily-reproducible character makes software-based technologies inherently difficult to define and control.

This task is enormous and must be handled cautiously, as history has provided countless examples of how overregulation has the capability to hamper development. A poignant example of overregulation at the cost of progress is the automobile industry. According to Deloitte, although tough restrictions on automobiles were nothing but well-intentioned in the late 1800’s, regulation greatly hampered research and advancement. The early days of the automobile industry should serve as a cautionary tale when it comes to regulating new and innovative technology.

The U.S. is in a unique position to act to protect our technological interest and secure the nation’s position as a global leader. The U.S. secured a pivotal tech leadership role, having spearheaded the development of the internet in the early 1990’s. The nation has immense power and potential to take the mantle on emerging technology, and the stakes are high. Some of the country’s greatest accomplishments have stemmed from empowering the private sector and encouraging innovation. For example, tremendous strides in private sector space exploration have been made possible due to the support and administration of empowering legislation. Companies like SpaceX and Boeing are creating next generation space technology, working each day to ensure that the U.S. maintains competitiveness.

Cybersecurity is another area that requires particular attention. Given the global availability of cybersecurity tools, many of which make use of the emerging technologies under review, McAfee understands that great care needs to be taken by our government before imposing additional export controls on American cyber companies. These rules can have the unintended and harmful consequence of stunting the growth and technical capabilities of the very companies that currently protect vital U.S. critical infrastructure, including federal and state government infrastructure, from cyber-attacks. As a leading nation, it is critical to stay ahead of threats by criminal actors. This is only possible if cyber companies have the ability to access global markets to fund the research and development needed to keep pace with rapid innovation. Controls should be implemented with a great understanding of the need to stay competitive in global innovation, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity.

Overregulation could cause great harm, and the U.S. government must tread carefully in administering a carefully-crafted, targeted approach. Rather than burdening U.S. software companies with new and substantial export control compliance costs, the U.S. should seek to empower these companies. Any controls deemed essential by the government should be as narrowly tailored as possible, especially given the broad range of current and future companies and technologies. A multilateral approach to export controls on emerging technologies is vital for U.S. companies to remain innovative and competitive in the global marketplace. This cautious approach would ensure alignment between the private and public sectors, ultimately allowing for emerging technology to be front and center. Providing an ecosystem in which the technology of tomorrow can flourish is essential to the U.S. continuing to blaze the trail on emerging technologies.

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We Put You at the Core

As we usher in the new year, I want to update you on some exciting transformations the McAfee Customer Success Group (CSG) has undergone. As a company, McAfee is committed to putting you—our customer—at the core. Our goal is to help you make the right decisions as you evolve your security maturity from device to cloud and to bring you the best possible customer experience every time we interact.

McAfee uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to quantify customer sentiment about our brand and our products. This allows us to see customer feedback, analyze it, and make strategic decisions based on this intelligence. By listening to and acting on your input, CSG has made significant changes around people, process, technology, and offerings. These enhancements will help you make the most of your McAfee solutions so that you can successfully achieve your desired security outcomes.

We’re constantly innovating to provide cybersecurity services that align with your definition of success. The transformation changes include:

Cybersecurity Services

To help move your security goals forward, we’ve updated and developed new offerings.

McAfee Customer Success Plans

We’re now offering three unique Customer Success Plans: McAfee Premier, Enhanced, and Essential Success Plans. These plans help enterprises—of all sizes—address today’s biggest challenges: the cybersecurity talent shortage, the growing threat environment, and lack of sufficient training. The plans are a strategically packaged set of personalized services, resources, and expert guidance that help drive product adoption, reduce security risks, and maximize your investment. You can expect proactive planning, success and escalation management, consulting, and education services, and business reviews to help transform your security into a business driver. Learn more.

McAfee Education Services

The IT professionals who enforce the security policies and run the tools that protect their organizations’ data frequently lack access to the training they need. The skills shortage, combined with lack of easily accessible training, leaves organizations exposed to attacks and data loss. Our cutting-edge McAfee Education Services portfolio offers flexible product and security training options that help you stay ahead of threats, save time, and maximize your McAfee investment. We’ve added guided on-demand training, bringing the classroom training experience in a remote setting with hands-on labs access, and refreshed our product training catalog. Learn more.

McAfee Incident Response

You need to be prepared for cyberattacks. The McAfee Incident Response (IR) Service is a comprehensive offering that combines two services that prepares and strengthen your company against potential cyberattacks and gives you greater peace of mind. Our 40-hour IR readiness assessment provides you the opportunity to collaborate with McAfee security professionals to proactively build a comprehensive IR plan. You also receive 160 pre-paid emergency IR hours to use over a 12-month period. Should a cyberattack occur, you have access to McAfee security experts to help you through the crisis, saving downtime and loss of reputation. Learn more.

McAfee Corporate Support Enhancements

McAfee understands that your time is valuable. We’ve made some important changes to help you resolve issues more quickly and, ultimately, make it easier to interact with McAfee Technical Support. These enhancements include a simplified Service Request submission process, single case ownership from creation to resolution, phone lookup enhancements for direct connect to the case owner. This provides consistency and reduces the time spent on troubleshooting, ensuring your business issues are addressed. Learn more.

Self-Service Tools

To improve your digital support experience, we’ve developed several new self-service tools and resources. These include:

  • New mobile application which allows you to receive notifications and view, update, and close Services Requests.  Download to your Android or iOS mobile device from the app store
  • New portal landing pages, a central location for common resources, categorized by product, where you can get answers to your critical questions
  • Support communities where you can collaborate with liked-minded security professionals to resolve issues and share information and best practices
  • Access to a library of YouTube videos that provide “how to” support for new product features
  • Launching next month, an in-product McAfee ePO Support Center plug-in to simplify and streamline technical troubleshooting (for version 5.3 and higher)
McAfee Customer Success Group

CSG supports your aspirations. The improvements we’ve made demonstrate how we are transforming along with you. We’re listening to your needs and committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience to each of you, every time.

Advanced security solutions from McAfee are designed to detect, protect, and correct—from device to the cloud.* CSG helps you optimize those security solutions so that you can innovate fearlessly, proactively protect your business, and scale up in line with your timeframe.  We look forward to working closely with you to accomplish your near-term and long-term security and business goals. As we’re accustomed to saying around here, “Together Is Power.”

To find out how we can help you reach your security goals, visit the “Learn More” links above or contact your sales account manager or partner.

 

 

*McAfee technologies’ features and benefits depend on system configuration and may require enabled hardware, software, or service activation. No connected environment can be absolutely secure.

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Championing Equality: McAfee to Achieve Gender Pay Parity in 2019

Recently, the World Economic Forum revealed it will take 202 years for women to achieve economic gender parity at our current rate. Two hundred and two. Let that sink in for a moment. Doesn’t quite seem right does it? At McAfee, we believe every single employee should be compensated fairly and equally for their individual contribution and impact to the company, regardless of gender. Which is why we’re committed to acting now to address any gender pay parity discrepancy in the first half of 2019.

This announcement underlines our unwavering commitment to inclusion and diversity. When McAfee reaches global pay parity in 2019, we will be the first pure-play cybersecurity company to do so. And while study after study reinforces the simple fact that diversity drives prosperity, we’re still falling short with just 11% female representation in cybersecurity.

 

Making significant progress is not going to happen overnight. It also won’t happen on its own. We need greater collaboration to help drive the actions that will change the conversation. So in the spirit of transparency and sharing best practice, here are five steps McAfee is undertaking to achieve gender pay parity:

  1. We define pay parity. At McAfee, pay parity means fair and equal pay for employees in the same job, level and location, controlling for pay differentiators such as performance, tenure and experience, regardless of gender.
  2. We review our employee data integrity. Audit employee job codes to ensure they appropriately represent the employee’s role.
  3. We analyze our data. Group employees by job code, level and location to evaluate any gaps outside of the predetermined controlling factors.
  4. We adjust pay. If a gap is found between females and males within the group, our purpose is to ensure nothing about a person’s gender is causing the discrepancy and to make adjustments if needed.
  5. We uphold pay parity. This will not be just a point in time review, but an annual analysis to stay the course. But maintaining pay parity also means keeping it at the forefront throughout the year—from our hiring practices to how we promote and reward our employees.

In these five steps lies a momentous promise to equality. Each day, I’m proud to work alongside a team dedicated to creating a workplace where all voices, perspectives and experiences are welcomed, where everyone can belong. But our investment in pay parity is among the most important steps in showing our people we value them, equally.

With this commitment, we continue to live our values, build an inclusive culture, create better workplaces and build stronger communities. I’m honored to join companies beyond the world of cyber already striving towards pay parity and I hope more will join us in reaching this milestone in equality.

Ready to work for a company committed to equality? McAfee is hiring!

Disclaimer: This blog was originally published on LinkedIn

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