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Predictive security — protective gear for Tour de France data

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Balancing speed and performance

The modern cycling helmet has a lot to live up to. It must protect the wearer against impact, be comfortable enough to wear for miles on end, and be aerodynamic enough to regulate the free flow of air across the rider’s body without breaking the rules of pro cycling. 

Cybersecurity at the Tour de France is a similar balancing act between safety and performance. We need to protect our client, race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), from various threats without slowing down the flow of real-time data that makes the race come alive in new ways for fans and followers.

Achieving this balance requires a deep understanding of A.S.O.’s risk appetite and the existing threat landscape, and the ability to identify and respond quickly to those threats.

In 2017, the Tour de France drew 12 million TV viewers daily. There were over 16.2 million unique site visits on Race Centre, the Tour’s data website  up 33% from the previous year  and 1.4 million downloads of the official app. Views on video-sharing platforms increased to 71 million (from 6 million in 2014 and up 28% from 2016), while over 6.5 million active fans engaged with the race on various social media channels. With numbers likely to keep climbing across these platforms, the Dimension Data security team has to be a step ahead in protecting these valuable information assets from falling into the wrong hands.  

Understanding risk against the current threat landscape

It’s vital that A.S.O. retains control of the sensitive data behind the statistics and live feeds we see in tandem with the television broadcast, either as part of the broadcast itself or on other, digital channels. 

As you can imagine, the massive global exposure of the Tour de France puts A.S.O at risk from any number of cyberattackers looking to share, trade or manipulate data on the Dark Web. An even greater threat is that of ransomware. This form of attack has seen a 350% year-on-year increase from 2016 to 2017, according to NTT Security's 2018 Global Threat Intelligence Report. Attackers can hold organisations to ransom by ‘kidnapping’ data or bringing down a website. 

The next-generation security platform

Just as cycling headgear has kept up with changes in the sport, using the latest designs and materials to be ever more effective, so too has our security solution evolved since Dimension Data came on board as the Official Technology Partner of A.S.O., in 2015. 

We started with a closed environment for the deployment and have steadily transformed from managing an on-premise solution to running everything in the cloud. (You can read more about this transition in our case study on security at the race.)

Big data truck

The big data truck: where we deployed our on-premise solution in 2015.

This year will be the first time we have an entirely cloud-based security environment, with numerous layers of security being integrated with real-time predictive capabilities. This will enable us to identify and respond to potential threats in a way we’ve never been able to do before – and a lot more quickly. 

Going beyond the firewall with predictive intelligence

The most significant innovation we’re introducing to our 2018 security posture is predictive security intelligence. 

As A.S.O.’s data assets are in the cloud, we need to be able to identify and counteract threats that exist beyond the firewall. This year, we’ll be making use of a solution that monitors activities on the Dark Web and Deep Web to uncover any plans to target the Tour de France or our infrastructure. They use an automated process to collect and feed information on threats directly to us. If there’s something we need to know or investigate, we get automatic alerts as well. Our security analysts can then diagnose suspect incidents and respond accordingly.

With access to intelligence on the nature of the threat and the adversaries planning the attack, we’ll be able to deploy the right controls to block it. And because our security solution is in the cloud, we don’t have to manipulate any physical infrastructure to implement these controls, so we can respond in real-time. 

Our managed security services capabilities give us a platform for managing operations swiftly and effectively, helping us achieve that balance between security and business agility.

incoming security alerts

A multi-layered security posture that incorporates managed services and predictive capabilities helps us stay one step ahead of cyber attackers.

Beyond the firewall and even further: what’s next?

My view is that enterprise security hardware will ultimately disappear, to be replaced with software, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced analytics. Security experiences will be programmed in rather than bolted on.

There'll be much more automation when detecting and responding to threats. There will be less human intervention in distinguishing between real and benign threats, for example. Automation will also apply to recovering data and spinning up new assets in the cloud, without impacting business operations.

Greater orchestration will help us make even better, smarter decisions and implement controls faster.  Basically, we’ll have less hardware and more automation – in the security landscape, at least. I imagine it will be a while before the same applies to cycling helmets.

Careers in cybersecurity

We’re looking for people who can help us develop and manage agile cybersecurity solutions that keep pace with the speed of digital business. If you’re interested in a career in cybersecurity at Dimension Data, visit our careers portal. 

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