March 13, 2024

The Future of Cybersecurity: Insights from Cyber Upgrade’s Founders

By Randy Ferguson

AI and Cybersecurity: Innovations and Challenges

In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology, where artificial intelligence and cybersecurity shape the future of our digital world, CloudTweaks is pleased to present an interview that delves into these critical domains. Join us as we engage with Algirdas Stasiūnaitis (AS), Aurimas Bakas (AB), and Andrius Minkevičius (AM), the pioneering trio behind Cyber Upgrade. These co-founders bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, with Algirdas focusing on strategic operations as the CxO, Aurimas steering the company’s vision and direction as CEO, and Andrius spearheading technological advancements as the CTO. Together, they discuss the forefront of AI integration in cybersecurity measures and the ongoing battle against cybercrime, offering insights into their innovative approaches and the challenges they face in an increasingly interconnected world.

With the increasing regulatory landscape and rising cyber threats, what do you see as the most pressing challenges for CISOs today?

AS: It’s definitely regulatory pressure. Considering the time constraints for submitting reports, on top of dealing with daily cybersecurity hazards, there is a risk of mismanagement that could lead to significant fines.

AB: Let’s be honest. For a long time paper security or no security at all was normal in the SME sector. It was considered that if one has certificates, such as the ISO27001, along with antivirus and VPN – everything works well. This is not the case anymore. The security landscape has changed. On the one hand, there is an increase in cyber incidents – some get announced to the public, but there are numerous cases that fly under the radar. On the other hand, new and demanding regulations are on the way (Dora, NIS2, MiCA, etc.). Managing all these factors at once requires time, tools, automation, hands-on experiences, adaptation management skills, etc. 

AM: Let’s look at an ideal hypothetical scenario – a CISO starts a cybersecurity project. His management provides full funding, as well as all other needed resources. The CISO proceeds to assess all cyber risks, then starts reducing them over the long span of 6-9 months. One day the CISO announces that the project is done. This leads the management to think it is completed, and that they are fully secure from now on. 

However, in reality, the journey to cyber security just started. Numerous continuity tasks need to be addressed. People in the venture will come and go, so new employees will have to be onboarded and instructed to get up to speed. Those who leave will have already been offboarded, cybersecurity-wise. The catch is that you get new cyber security problems every week, leaving an educational gap between recruitments. To stay ahead, you need CISO brains focusing on both reactive and proactive streams. This is a huge challenge. 

The report mentions a significant percentage of CISOs experiencing burnout. How do you think this impacts organizational security, and what strategies can be employed to address it?

AS: Burnouts lead to mistakes and a decrease in speed. Every organization has its own differences, but we recommend searching for tools and methods that increase efficiency.

AB: As a CISO you may try to get more funds and hire more team members, but this is not always easy. Employing automation, crafted from a standpoint of hands-on experience, is the way to go, in my opinion. This also applies because cyber attacks are now increasingly performed by machines. To help protect core systems, CISOs must be able to build defense zones based on automated tools, while also working to increase cybersecurity awareness among the team. Such an awareness is pivotal, as the staff’s ignorance can undo any security efforts.

AM: CISOs burn out due to the reasons mentioned above – regulatory challenges, adaptive challenges, and new incidents that need to be reacted to on top of all of this. Cybersecurity is not feasible anymore without additional help, especially in the SME sector. 

As the threat of cybercrime continues to grow, what steps do you believe organizations should take to mitigate their risks effectively?

AS: An effective way to mitigate risks is by implementing real, systematic cybersecurity measures, using the best practices, and employing frameworks such as ISO27001, EU NIS2, or similar.

AM: The only viable strategy in cybersecurity is to plow through and “get things done”. Our recommendation is not to treat cybersecurity as a one-off project, it should be centered around a philosophy of daily practice. If you want to visit your dentist less – you clean your teeth every day. It is cheaper to clean your teeth when compared to the costs of dental medicine.

However, there are some practical steps to be taken:

  • Risk Assessment and Management
  • Implement Strong Cybersecurity Policies and Frameworks
  • Employee Training and Awareness
  • Data Encryption and Protection
  • Regular Updates and Patch Management
  • Advanced Threat Detection and Monitoring
  • Incident Response Plan
  • Backup and Recovery Procedures
  • Vendor and Third-Party Risk Management
  • Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Requirements
  • Promote a Culture of Security
  • Regular Security Audits
  • Regular Self Assessments
  • Implement Zero Trust Security Model

How do you anticipate the upcoming NIS2 Directive, MiCA, and DORA regulations will impact the role of CISOs, particularly in terms of compliance and reporting?

AM: The upcoming regulations will not have any significant impact on companies that are already following the best practices and striving to go the extra mile in terms of cybersecurity. However, they will still add more stress on CISOs due to:

  1. Broader scope of responsibility: Beyond basic cybersecurity measures, CISOs will have to ensure their organizations’ compliance with the new industry standards.
  2. Increased emphasis on cybersecurity: DORA focuses on ensuring that the financial sector can withstand all types of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) related threats and disruptions.
  3. Stronger reporting requirements: These regulations will come with significantly increased reporting duties.
  4. Budget allocation: SMEs and other sectors will need to allocate additional financial resources to cope with the new requirements. 

The use of AI-powered automation is suggested as a solution to streamline cybersecurity processes. In what specific ways do you think AI can assist CISOs in managing their workload and responsibilities?

AM: AI-powered automation in cyber security can greatly help with threat detection and response, predictive analysis, automated incident responses, vulnerability and network security management, phishing detection, and many more. 

These tools go beyond simply reducing the stress placed on CISOs. Without AI-based, or strongly automated tools, having robust cybersecurity is not even possible – there are too many blind spots.

Could you elaborate on how AI-powered tools, such as those developed by Cyber Upgrade, contribute to enhancing cybersecurity practices within organizations?

AB: Cyber Upgrade is a cybersecurity and governance platform that is designed to embrace a pragmatic approach. Our company designed a proprietary AI model that promotes the inclusion of every team member in the cyber governance process, thereby effectively bridging the gap between theoretical measures and true operational security. 

Ongoing in-depth scans enable the software to collect factual, as well as evidence-based information about cyber defense lines, while also documenting the process along the way to have all things in line for audits. This process leads to constant improvements, continuous monitoring, and audit-ready, evidence-based documentation at the push of a single button.

What are the potential benefits and challenges associated with integrating AI-driven cybersecurity solutions into existing organizational frameworks?

AB: Well-developed companies are known to already employ multiple such tools. Getting everything integrated is a challenge. The proper orchestration of the processes, tools, and defense zones is indeed a considerable undertaking. However, it should be done sooner rather than later if one wants to avoid significant security risks. 

AM: I will add that, in many areas, it is impossible to execute decent cyber security without using automation or AI-based cybersecurity tools. Especially when it comes to overseeing areas like logs and network monitoring, as well as phishing detection. Everyone who has helped us fortify our software against viruses and spam emails has been aware of automated tools for a long time. The solutions have been around, it’s just that they have evolved to become much more streamlined and easily manageable.

Given the emphasis on mental health and its impact on organizational security, how can companies ensure the well-being of their CISOs while maintaining robust cybersecurity measures?

AS: The cyber-world lacks experienced CISOs. If you are lucky enough to have one in-house, you should value that and try to help him help you. Simplify or optimize legacy procedures, embrace a cyber-awareness culture, and provide a decent budget for cybersecurity tools and other needed assistance.

With Cyber Upgrade’s focus on affordability and adaptability, how do you envision the future of AI-driven cybersecurity solutions evolving to meet the diverse needs of businesses?

AS: The needs of various businesses are not really that different in terms of functioning in the digital world. However, organizations have to embrace change in order to successfully mitigate cyber risks. The best practices can, and should be, applied to most companies. Adhering to the known cybersecurity standards will ensure a safer way of executing daily business processes. 

What factors do you believe inspired the development of AI-driven cybersecurity solutions, such as those offered by Cyber Upgrade? Additionally, how do you foresee these advancements influencing the future direction of cybersecurity practices?

AS: We believe that everyone is seeking efficiency, especially with the new regulatory requirements, cyber threats, and limited company resources. Moreover, we seek to educate and increase the awareness regarding cybersecurity risks. If unaddressed, ignorance among your team can cause a lot of harm.

By Randy Ferguson

Randy Ferguson

Randy boasts 30 years in the tech industry, having penned articles for multiple esteemed online tech publications. Alongside a prolific writing career, Randy has also provided valuable consultancy services, leveraging a deep knowledge of technological trends and insights.



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