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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

5 Minutes with an Analyst: Steve Hunt of DB Networks

Steve Hunt is president and COO of DB Networks, a database cybersecurity provider. He spoke with Upside recently about his current work.

Cybersecurity is big business today; enterprises work diligently to protect their data and operations from attacks. DB Networks provides database security solutions that detect threats using machine learning and behavioral analysis. Steve Hunt, president and COO of DB Networks, leads the development and operation of the company.

Prior to DB Networks, Steve was senior vice president of engineering and operations at Coradiant and later was a member of their Technical Advisory Board before it was acquired by BMC Software. He spent many years at Bell Labs, including heading their Internetworking Department.

He spoke with Upside recently about his current work.

UPSIDE: Are you working on anything interesting right now? If not, what's your dream project?

Steve Hunt: I'm heads down working on cutting-edge information security technologies. Information security involves both the technical understanding of data processing and the practical knowledge of the taxonomy of attacks. This directed analysis creates a more precise and meaningful result. When you can not only focus on what looks like an attack but also provide insight into what stage that attack is in, you can determine how urgent your response should be.

What's a personality trait you think people need to succeed at your job?

I would say resilience. Whether you're looking at complex data and trying to find the needle in the stack of needles or developing effective processes that acquire, analyze, extract, and act on important aspects of an environment, you have to be willing to try a number of approaches. Many times one attempt will result in less-than-ideal results and you have to be able to put that behind you and try again.

What's your biggest pet peeve (abused buzzword, overhyped idea, etc.) and why?

Too many terms in our industry are used improperly. In particular, it irritates me when terms such as "behavioral analysis" and even "artificial intelligence" are applied to static, rules-based systems or simplistic false-positive-based rule-reduction systems. Some vendors attempt to elevate minimally effective technologies and products by applying a respectable label, and this practice simply dilutes those terms.

Whether it's the latest Python build or a 50-gallon drum of espresso, what's the one thing you can't do your job without?

In a general sense I would say visualization tools -- in particular I love D3. Visualization allows you to use the immense pattern-matching capabilities of the human brain to discover key aspects of a data set or classify the severity of a problem. It's critical for those that consume your results to quickly grasp the key value.

Where is data analytics/data science headed in the next few years?

In information security, data analytics will evolve toward much broader analytics systems. These systems will include elemental analysis based on data sets from homogenous systems that extract key indicators of risk into a data model. These data models can then be compared across heterogeneous systems to establish real-time, prioritized threat vectors.

This ability to distill large amounts of granular data into small amounts of high value, actionable data is the only way to address the extremely critical talent shortage in the security industry. If the analysts who build security systems don't reduce the workload required to use those systems we cannot hope to meet this daunting challenge.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of TDWI, including research reports, the Business Intelligence Journal, and Upside newsletter. You can contact him via email here.

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