Some Things Don’t Just Stay in Vegas: Talking Cyber Security at SALT 2017

Some Things Don’t Just Stay in Vegas: Talking Cyber Security at SALT 2017

Some Things Don’t Just Stay in Vegas: Talking Cyber Security at SALT 2017

Last week the Options team took to Las Vegas for the annual SALT conference to sponsor and provide onsite IT support at the hedge fund industry’s largest get together.

Hosted by our client Skybridge Capital, the exclusive three day event was held in the Bellagio and over the course of the week welcomed an estimated 1800 delegates ranging from leading investment firms, business titans, political and economic leaders and media. Celebrity sessions are the norm for this conference and, this year, appearances from comedians Steve Harvey and Dana Carvey (not a double act, despite the rhyme), singer Jewel and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, peppered the agenda and provided entertainment amid the industry discussions (while The Gypsy Kings and Duran Duran kickstarted the evening festivities).

Every day, delegates flocked between the Bellagio’s Grand Ballroom keynote addresses and side session streams, eager to get the inside track for their investment strategies from stock predictions and portfolio diversification to the geopolitical climate which underpins it all.

Headlining the industry discussions were billionaire investors Dan Loeb of Third Point and Sam Zell of Equity Group Investments, former Federal Reserve Chairman Dr Ben Bernanke, former VP Joe Biden, former Presidential candidate Jeb Bush and ex Prime Minister David Cameron, among others.

It’s no surprise that there was heightened interest in all things cybersecurity following the WannaCry attack last weekend – echoed by prominent featured speakers: Alphabet (Google’s parent company) Eric Schmidt; ex CIA Chief John Brennan; and our CTO John Bryant.

Read on for a few of the notable takeaways on that theme.

Highlights: WannaCry and Cyber security dominated…

In one of the opening sessions of the conference, Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman (& former Google CEO) of Google’s parent company Alphabet, addressed the importance of patching and ensuring individuals take responsibility for their operating system updates, noting that many government entities are still running Windows XP. Security technology firms saw an upside to recent ransomware attacks, he said, quoting a gain of more than 30% year to date for Fortinet, Symantec and Checkpoint (just some of the fundamental security technologies that are the bedrock of the Options Managed Platform).

On Day 2, former CIA chief John Brennan continued the cybersecurity narrative from a political perspective. He deemed cyber attacks as the biggest threat to the US and called for more collaboration between private firms and the US government to develop standards to protect the ever increasing digital society.

Fresh from ensuring our some 250 clients remained unscathed by the Wannacry ransomware, Options CTO John Bryant continued the discussion as he took to the stage to offer a first hand account of the attack and caution about the prevalency and intensity of cyber vulnerabilities today.

Growing number of vendor vulnerabilities

Linking to the recent NSA tools hack, John advised firms against ignoring the crippling threats legacy software presents. Only 20 weeks into 2017 and already 1700 known security vulnerabilities had been detected across the top 7 software vendors to date – making that a remarkable 85 a week to keep on top of and an indication of a growing industry trend. The workload this presents to firms in terms of monitoring, managing updates, etc, means that cybersecurity best practice is ever changing and evolving.

The panel, which included the FBI’s Aristedes Mahairas (Special Agent in Charge of the bureau’s Special Operations & Cyber Division), cautioned that capital market participants are the most lucrative target for cyber crimes. Malware and phishing, in particular, seem to be the root of exploitation and organizations are slow to spot these, regardless of how seemingly robust their cyber defences are.

Seek outside specialists

As ransomware attacks continue to threaten the industry, due diligence has never been more important. Firms need to not only educate employees on risks but take a proactive approach to cybersecurity management including regular pen tests and seek outside specialists to bridge the internal knowledge gap.

With over $100 billion in assets under management (AUM) supported by Options technology and infrastructure, we have made a significant multi-million dollar investment in cybersecurity real-time alerting to detect and mitigate against brute force attacks and rogue mobile threats, to name a few. Watch the video to learn more about our fully managed security solutions.

Click here to download our Cyber Security white paper

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