[PODCAST] Ryan Olson Demystifies the Pragmatic Adversary at InfoSec Nashville

Palo Alto Networks Threat Intelligence Director Ryan Olson wants to take the fear out of Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) in network security.

“Small and medium businesses throw their hands up (when they hear APT) and think of this attacker as too advanced and too dangerous to defend against,” he said.

But that’s not always the case. Olson will be a keynote speaker at the 16th annual InfoSec Nashville conference on September 20, 2016, at the Music City Center. His presentation will center around his theory of the Pragmatic Adversary, his take on APT, which states there is not some big complex machine persistently attempting to breaking into your network, it’s a living, breathing human.

“All of these attacks are launched by people – human beings with wives and kids and dogs and jobs. But more importantly, they have a boss who told them they need to go and accomplish this task,” he said.

Olson leads Unit 42, the intelligence team at Palo Alto Networks. In a nod to the big question at the heart of the novel Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Olson’s security team is named after the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything because security is at the heart of everything the company does.

At Palo Alto, Olson works with the notion that there is not a whole lot firms can do to prevent attacks from happening, but they can prevent the attacker from being successful.

“As defenders, we are constantly getting better networks to defend against attackers.”

Taking a multifaceted approach to network security is the only realistic way networks can prevent successful attacks. Using a system of malware prevention and information sharing, Olson called this is the next generation firewall.

“It’s a prevention first posture for their network, not trying to detect and respond to attacks, but stop them from being successful in the first place.”

Ryan Olson will be giving a keynote address at InfoSec Nashville on Sept. 20, 2016, at the Music City Center. Tickets can be purchased here.