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Andrew Newman, ReasonLabs: "consumers must take cybersecurity seriously”

Nowadays, people are spending a significantly larger amount of time online – working, studying, socializing, shopping, etc. Consequently, cybercriminals receive more opportunities to spread malicious programs and obtain illegal profits.

While it might seem that only large-scale corporations are prone to cyberattacks, consumers are equally targeted as well. Luckily, more and more people start to see cybersecurity as a critical aspect of their online activities and use protection solutions, like antivirus software, VPN, or other security tools.

For this reason, we had a chat with Andrew Newman, the Founder and CTO at ReasonLabs – a company that provides enterprise-grade security. Our guest talked about the best cybersecurity practices, poor cyber hygiene habits to avoid, and the latest cyber threats.

Since your start in 2012, how has ReasonLabs evolved? What were your major milestones?

I got my start in cybersecurity long before 2012. In 2001, I co-founded the GIANT Company Software which was acquired by Microsoft in 2004 to release Microsoft Anti-Spyware. From there, I stayed on to serve as the Lead Security Program Manager for the Windows Antivirus group, which produced the Windows Defender. I ultimately left Microsoft and founded the ReasonLabs in 2012, intending to provide cyber protection to users everywhere.

Since founding ReasonLabs, our company has gone through a few different transformations, mainly driven by advancements in technology, general industry standards, and differing needs by consumers. We also started with just one product and today, we offer a suite of solutions that serve different areas of the consumer-focused cybersecurity ecosystem.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? What technologies do you use to ensure the highest levels of cybersecurity?

At ReasonLabs, our mission is to bring enterprise-grade cyber protection into the homes of users all around the world. That means providing people with the same level of security that large corporations and government agencies have. We accomplish this by delivering complete protection to users with our next-generation RAV endpoint protection system, a powerful RAV Saferweb DNS solution, and a fully-featured RAV VPN. Our vigilant approach and powerful defense layers have combined to create an advanced shield against security breaches and ever-evolving cyber threats.

RAV Endpoint Protection is powered by advanced machine learning algorithms which enable proactive detection, identification, and resolution of even the most complex malware binaries. Using threat intelligence collected from always-on active sensors, we analyze, organize and bring context to evolving cyber activity.

This behavior-centric detection is a core element of our multilayered approach to protection and has proven to be one of the most efficient ways to protect against advanced malware threats. By creating tens of thousands of known and assumed playbooks, the very behavior of an attack can be quickly detected and stopped.

Altogether, between our suite of security products and threat intelligence gathering, our powerful network allows us to democratize enterprise-grade protection and bring the highest levels of cybersecurity to users in more than 180 countries.

You often stress the importance of a multilayered approach to cybersecurity. Would you like to share more about this vision?

It’s crucial to bring a multilayered approach to cybersecurity in today’s 24/7 connected world. While traditional antiviruses (AVs) often use a one-to-one detection technology to fight breaches and malware, ReasonLabs' next-generation endpoint protection and response system utilize a variety of technologies and techniques to address malware from every angle. It predicts, participates, and prevents virus attacks at every stage. This is almost impossible to do without a multilayered approach.

Let’s take your home for example. At home, you might have a fence around your house. You also have a door, and that door has a lock on it or even two. You might also have a home security system that alerts you if a door or window opens when you’re not home. All these layers compliment each other and add up to provide you with the highest level of protection possible. We take this same approach to cybersecurity, making it harder and harder for bad actors to infiltrate a user’s system.

It seems like the pandemic challenged the state of cybersecurity worldwide. In your opinion, what are the main takeaways?

The Covid-19 crisis pushed forward years of digital adoption in a matter of just a few months. There are more connected devices now than ever before, and people all over the world are spending tremendous amounts of time online – whether it’s for school, work, play, or to remain connected with friends and family. As attack surfaces have expanded, enterprises have started to shift their cybersecurity practices from reactive to proactive. This transformation has made it harder for bad actors to carry out attacks against large institutions, forcing them to turn their attention to the low-hanging fruit – average consumers.

For 2022, we expect this general shift in hackers’ focus away from enterprises and back to consumers to continue. Compared to enterprises, consumers are less secure, have fewer resources, and are sometimes neglected by major AV providers. We also predict the targeting of the most unsecured consumers, such as tweens/teens who are highly connected and are starting to use crypto and other digital assets, to come into the mainstream. Education around the different types of commonly found cyber threats and overall best cybersecurity practices are paramount.

The belief that only large and well-known companies are prone to cyberattacks is only one of many misconceptions still prevalent today. What cybersecurity myths do you come across most often?

This belief that only large enterprises or government organizations can fall victim to cyberattacks is a misconception that causes a lot of harm. It leads people to believe that they aren’t important enough to need protection and as we have just detailed in our State of Consumer Cybersecurity 2022 report, consumers are just as susceptible to suffering an attack and must be protected accordingly. Malware does not discriminate – no matter who you are or where in the world you might be, everyone is susceptible to an advanced attack.

Another myth I often hear is how an Apple Mac or iPhone is completely safe from attacks. Now the actual software might be slightly more secure due to its walled app garden, but anyone can fall victim to social engineering or phishing, regardless of the device’s OS they are using. Such attacks happen all the time by sending phishing emails or fake logins, credit card scam attacks, etc. These attacks all have very little to do with how safe the Apple OS is and more around human education and cybersecurity practices.

With work from home becoming the new normal, could you share the key principles that help maintain a secure remote working environment?

The shift to work from home, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and a general transformation in corporate culture, has opened up a world of new opportunities for cyber attackers. It has forced organizations to rethink their cyber practices and make sure their employees are protected 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

There are many possible ways for people to maintain a secure remote working environment and protect themselves while outside of their corporate networks. Taking a multilayered approach to security is the first step – the more layers of security one has, the harder it is for someone to get through. People should be utilizing next-generation antivirus solutions like RAV Endpoint Protection coupled with complementary tools, such as RAV Saferweb or RAV VPN, to bring added layers of security to a home network. This idea of using a complementary system that builds off one another will greatly reduce the chances of suffering from a cyberattack.

What would you consider to be the worst cybersecurity habits that are widely prominent today?

Unfortunately, there are many people with so-called poor cybersecurity hygiene. I believe this is since education around best cyber practices or the most common threats is often not readily available. This is a big reason why we just published our State of Consumer Cybersecurity 2022 report.

Some poor cybersecurity habits that I’ve noticed over the years include:

  • The storing of passwords, sensitive information, and personal data in non-secure places, including the browser’s built-in password manager
  • Many users probably do not utilize two-factor authentication (2FA) unless they are forced to. Even then, they're using the bare minimum, such as SMS instead of an authenticator app
  • Downloading software from third-party sites
  • Delaying or pushing off Windows OS or other device updates
  • Not using cloud data backups from reputable services

Besides ensuring protection, you also run the Threat Intelligence Center. Would you like to share some of your recent research?

Our work at the Threat Intelligence Center is what helps to make ReasonLabs’ engine the most complete AV engine in the market today. The investigative work that we do on malware data perfectly complements our machine learning technology, which powers our next-generation AV product, RAV Endpoint Protection. Besides powering our own products, we take great pride in playing a leading role in exploring cyber threats and advancing intelligence capabilities within the industry at large. As we operate on a very high scale, our team of defense experts is dedicated to exploring malware elimination and sharing the latest findings with the research community, ensuring everyone is protected from every known immersive threat.

As far as our recent work, we just published our State of Consumer Cybersecurity 2022 report which details the top threats consumers faced last year. The goal of this report is to shed light on what affects consumers the most today and to promote the need for cyber education at every level. Consumers must take cybersecurity seriously and protect themselves from advanced threats. Back in December, our researchers were the first in the world to identify what we called the Spider-Miner threat, which was a Monero miner that we found hiding in a torrent download of what seemed to be the movie Spider-Man: No Way Home. The file identifies itself as spiderman_net_putidomoi.torrent.exe, which translates from Russian to spiderman_no_wayhome.torrent.exe.

Would you like to share what’s next for ReasonLabs?

We will continue to iterate on our technology so we can fulfill our mission of providing consumers all around the world with enterprise-grade cyber protection. We are deeply committed to this cause and plan to build out more products and solutions that can help people in their everyday connected lives. We will remain extremely dedicated to our research and development at the Threat Intelligence Center so we can continue to play our part in ridding the world of cyber threats.

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