Dispelling Fear as a Barrier: Q&A with Lynda Grindstaff, McAfee

Making the case for sharing as an effective weapon against the actions that endanger IoT security in industrial, automotive, consumer, and other environments.

Editor’s Note: EECatalog recently asked Lynda Grindstaff, McAfee Senior Director of the Innovation Pipeline, for insights concerning some of the issues addressed in the McAfee Labs Threats Report: April 2017. While sharing intelligence about cyber security threats is helpful, specific hurdles stand in the way, as the report explains1. And a discussion of threat sharing is not the only issue the report takes on, so we are especially thankful that we had the opportunity to discuss its implications for the embedded engineering community with Grindstaff, a respected expert in her field.

At Intel Grindstaff held numerous technical and leadership positions, including business client strategist, innovation marketing manager, system software developer, chipset validation, and management of global technical teams based in the U.S. and India. Winner of the Intel Achievement Award, Intel Software Quality Award, and the Society of Women Engineers Emerging Leader and Fellow Awards, Grindstaff has two patents and is a valued industry conference speaker.


Embedded Intel Solutions: Do the relationships which key threat vectors—file, web, message, and network—have with one another pose both a challenge and an opportunity to use those relationships in mitigating threats? How do you mine those relationships to best advantage?

Lynda-Grindstaff_WEBLynda Grindstaff, McAfee: The relationships between key threat vectors pose both a challenge and an opportunity. Adversaries can use those relationships to attack an organization from multiple standpoints, forcing the enterprise to be prepared to protect against multiple attacks occurring at the same time. Conversely, the relationships among threat vectors pose an opportunity for the good guys, because the relationships empower machine learning techniques to predict where the adversaries will strike next.

Embedded Intel Solutions: How do you want to see sensors evolve to keep up with evolving threats, and what will the infrastructure look like that makes this possible?

Grindstaff, McAfee: As sensors evolve they will invariably come with more and more compute capabilities. Sensors will need to have firmware/software that can be easily patched and upgraded remotely and without user interaction. Technology that will allow devices to be preconfigured, provisioned, and ready to go as soon as they are plugged in at the home, corporate facility, or warehouse needs to become commonplace — the sheer number of devices expected to be deployed makes human interaction for this untenable. Development platforms that leverage technologies such as blockchain can be used to enable trusted autonomous behavior of IoT devices.

Embedded Intel Solutions: How will the “cutting-edge hardware platform” described in the Overview section at https://www.mcafee.com/us/products/network-security-platform.aspx continue to be cutting edge for the foreseeable future?

Grindstaff, McAfee: It will continue to be cutting edge by providing industry-leading coverage against advanced threats, malware callbacks, zero-day threats, and denial-of-service attacks. It was built from the ground up for integration with McAfee’s Unified Defense Architecture. Our Network Security Platform leverages security data from across the organization and helps plug the security gaps often missed by other pieced-together security solutions.

Embedded Intel Solutions: Before requesting a demo of the McAfee Network Security Platform, what steps should an organization have taken to assure that the Security Platform will be deployed in an environment that maximizes its value?

Grindstaff, McAfee: I would recommend that organizations request a demo because the McAfee Network Security Platform is the only IPS delivering a threat defense architecture that integrates across multiple products. Organizations will be able to share security data across their organization, which will enable connected devices to learn and respond to threats in real time.

Embedded Intel Solutions: What additional barriers, in addition to the “historical barriers to sharing” which the April 2017 Threat Report notes are dropping, do you want to see disappear, and why?

Grindstaff, McAfee: I would like to see fear be one of the barriers that disappears. Organizations are fearful of losing a competitive advantage if they share data when in fact we are better together and together is power. Fear is also seen within security product companies when internal engineering teams don’t want to share best practices. The product developers are fearful of losing their jobs, so they operate in silos and don’t collaborate.

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