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Qualys CEO discusses cloud computing threats, 'cloud without borders'

SAN FRANCISCO -- Enterprises and information security vendors need to start treating malware and threats in the cloud like infectious diseases that can spread across the globe.

That's according to Philippe Courtot, chairman and CEO of Qualys, who spoke at RSA Conference 2015 about why security vendors should take a page from Doctors Without Borders, which he called "a highly specialized intervention force" that can be dispatched anywhere on the planet to identify and quarantine an infection before it becomes an epidemic.

"Today, if you look at how we fight infectious diseases, we definitely have to cross boarders to go and fight those diseases, and vice versa -- we have to make sure the disease doesn't go the other way [outside of the country of origin] as well," Courtot said.

Sadly, Courtot admitted, hackers are already using some of the best practices he'd like to see the information security industry use. "When you really look at how hackers and cybercriminals have organized themselves, that's what they've done," Courtot said. "They've created marketplaces, they've created global networks and highly specialized individuals. Security has to follow that same model."

But Courtot said such a shift requires "a very significant mindset change" because security vendors don't share information with one another. In addition, he said, there are challenges regarding regulations and privacy standards for each individual country.

Still, he said, security vendors and enterprises need to find ways to work together to identify, contain and defeat the latest cloud computing threats -- or else the threats may spread beyond just one or two victims and harm millions of cloud users and enterprises.

"Everything is becoming interconnected today," Courtot said. "I really believe security is becoming a public issue."

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