Can ‘thinking like an animal’ solve security fears?

It might seem like there’s nothing farther from the world of IT security than the natural one, but there might be more of a connection than you’d think. By looking closely at the ways animals protect themselves, some are discovering effective ways to meet security challenges by copying our animal friends. This is called “biomimicry,” and it’s actually a big part of scientific advances, as this Deloitte article by global chief information security officer JR Reagan recently noted.

Animals like ants may actually be effective models for IT security issues.Animals like ants may actually be effective models for IT security issues.

Skeptical? Consider some of the examples the source mentions. Swarm intelligence, which utilizes constant monitoring, is based off of the way insects work together to accomplish things, while data masking and steganography use defense tactics from moths and chameleons.

Back in 2013, Rafe Sagarin touched on similar ideas in a piece for the Harvard Business Review. He wrote that companies should consider a “full-spectrum approach” to data security that assumes all electronic data could be hacked, and has more than one general defense option in place.

“Multiple data-backup systems are a simple method that most sensible organizations employ, but you can get more clever than that,” Sagarin said. “For example, redundancy in nature sometimes takes the form of leaving certain parts unsecure to ensure that essential parts can survive attack.” In the digital world, he continues, this could mean “sacrificial systems” that are meant to lure out hackers — and that’s just one possible idea.

So, if you’ve been investing in unsuccessful application security strategies, maybe it’s time to think like an animal. It can all start with an in-depth analysis to see what the organization needs next.


About the Author:

Rob Cross is currently an executive with PSC.
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