Kurt Thomas works with organizations all over the world to help them get the most out of their IBM Power ecosystem. His interests range from cybersecurity, data privacy, performance monitoring, and operating systems to artificial intelligence. Kurt is the Technical Product Manager for the Powertech line of Fortra solutions. He has a degree in business informatics and lives in Bonn, Germany.
Q & A with Kurt
What would you say is the biggest barrier holding customers back from strengthening their security?
The biggest barrier used to be awareness, but now, I think it has to be complexity. Security is not a simple business. Cybersecurity is helping to ensure that organizations can perform their business tasks while preventing attackers from achieving theirs. The complexity of business tasks and their underlying business requirements translates into greater attack and configuration surfaces. The second largest barrier is the lack of resources. Even though companies say security is important to them, not all of them prioritize security in their actions.
What changes do you foresee in the world of cybersecurity in the coming years?
The biggest change I foresee is the rise of AI for both defensive and offensive purposes. Both attackers and defenders will be using AI. What we are seeing today is only the beginnings. Secondly, I expect to see an increase in ransomware attacks just because of how lucrative the ransomware business model has been for attackers in recent years. Fighting that will require a concerted effort from not only organizations themselves and from cybersecurity companies like Fortra, but also from lawmakers and executive branches across the globe.
Have you ever worked with a customer that was in the midst of, or recovering from an attack?
Yes, I have. The customer had been hit with ransomware. It was a very stressful time for the customer’s staff. I think what stood out to me the most was how much effort had to be expended for the customer to recover. Huge amounts of resources were being poured to restore a state of normalcy. And the attackers came back into the customer system multiple times, unraveling any progress that had been made. My role was within that event was relatively small. I got a view from the sidelines of just how much of a drain on resources an attack like that can cause.
What is the biggest way you have seen the cybersecurity landscape change since you got your start?
The biggest way is that there is a much greater awareness of the risks that are out there. And that is of course also due to the fact that the risks themselves have multiplied in variety and severity. There is more hacking going on. There is a lot more malware than there was ten or even five years ago. The tactics have become more aggressive. And of course companies are more digital than ever. So objectively, risk has increased and, in response to that awareness has increased. That is the biggest change. The other change is the growth and fragmentation of the cybersecurity market, with hyperspecialized vendors and cottage industries. As a counter-trend, a consolidation of cybersecurity vendors has begun, and it will continue in years to come. Long-term, I expect to see alternating waves of differentiation and consolidation in cybersecurity. That is simply how innovation-driven markets work once they reach a certain level of maturity.