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Darktrace AI stops 4,000 threats a week at fashion brand Ted Baker

Darktrace AI stops 4,000 threats a week at fashion brand Ted Baker

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Organisations are making better use of smart technology such as AI to predict and protect against sophisticated cyberattacks. Here, Leon Shepherd, Chief Information Officer, Ted Baker, discusses how it relies on Darktrace’s AI technology to protect its digital systems and explains how the solution enables the company to focus on higher-value tasks.

Darktrace, a global leader in cybersecurity AI, has announced that its Self-Learning AI is being used to intercept 4,000 cyberthreats every week at Ted Baker.

The quintessentially British global lifestyle brand has revealed that, of these cyberthreats, over 200 are targeted attacks. These include spearphishing emails devised to reach high-level executives, and cyber campaigns that seek to steal competitive insights or intellectual property.

Ted Baker relies on Darktrace technology to identify and interrupt cyberthreats before they escalate into full-blown compromises, including Darktrace Antigena, Darktrace’s Autonomous Response product, which is able to respond to ransomware within one second of suspicious behaviour emerging. The technology protects the full range of its digital systems, from email to point of sale devices.

Powered by Self-Learning AI, Darktrace technology works by developing an understanding of what is normal behaviour for each user and device within an organisation, and neutralises malicious behaviour by enforcing this normal ‘pattern of life’. Crucially, this means that day-to-day business is not disrupted.

“Within seconds of out-of-the-ordinary behaviour emerging, Darktrace AI forms an understanding of whether an attack is underway or not, and can interrupt that activity before our security teams are able to,” said Leon Shepherd, Chief Information Officer, Ted Baker. “With Autonomous Response, I know the AI is always ready to jump in on our behalf at machine speed, giving my team more time to focus on higher-value tasks.”

We caught up with Leon Shepherd, Chief Information Officer, Ted Baker, to learn more about Darktrace’s technology and how it enables the organisation to better protect its systems and focus on higher-value tasks.

Can you tell us about your role at Ted Baker and how you ensure the company operates with a robust cybersecurity culture?

I am the Chief Information Officer of Ted Baker, responsible for ensuring the digital security of the organisation. In addition to my CIO role, I also lead our overall business transformation which is dependent on significant Digital Transformation projects and the speedy delivery of innovative digital products and services with cybersecurity built-in from day one. As part of this transformation, we have been navigating a full scale shift to the cloud that is now close to completion which meant that when the pandemic hit we were fully able to support remote working. It is my responsibility to ensure that both our day-to-day operations and our Digital Transformation are delivered seamlessly and securely, as well as making sure that we have the right people and technologies in place to protect the business as a whole from sophisticated attacks.

What business/cybersecurity challenges were you looking to address ahead of your work with Darktrace?

We are a long-standing user of Darktrace and we understood early on that to meet the challenges of securing our infrastructure across disparate environments and tools, we needed a technology that was able to work across any area of our infrastructure to detect and, critically, respond to attacks as they happen.

As a business which had to pivot quickly online once the pandemic hit, cloud and SaaS platforms proved incredibly useful and innovative tools for us. However, this new infrastructure came with its own challenges – as the traditional network perimeter was redefined, the attack surface has widened. In addition, with new partners and third-parties being thrown into the mix, the risk of supply chain attacks is constantly growing. Yet, as we have come to depend on these platforms for the long-term, security has now become a cross-departmental, board-level issue and we rely on Darktrace to adapt in lockstep as our business evolves to help us address new challenges that emerge.

As one of the leading global lifestyle brands, how important is having reliable and effective protection against cyberthreats? 

Even before the pandemic hit and cybersecurity was thrust onto board level agendas, attackers had been proliferating and innovating. This year, we’ve seen organisations of all kinds and sizes fall victim to attacks – often with incredibly disruptive consequences – which is why for us at Ted Baker, cybersecurity has long been a top priority. We need to ensure that not only our employees, but also our customers and partners remain secure as we work with them.

In particular, we have seen a rise in social engineering attacks which target the weakest link in the chain – the human. By deceiving just one user into handing over credentials or other sensitive information, successful social engineering attempts are able to grant attackers a foothold into an organisation. These sorts of attacks are notoriously challenging to counter and detect, and the number of human engineers needed to defend against this level of attack is immense. Humans alone are never going to be able to stop attacks as they happen. The only way of doing so is by using AI to do the tasks that humans fundamentally cannot – responding with proportionate, precise actions, without shutting down business operations. 

Can you tell us more about the Darktrace AI platform and its benefits?

Darktrace AI interrupts in-progress cyberattacks in seconds, including ransomware, email phishing and threats to cloud environments and critical infrastructure. Its Self-Learning AI works across all digital environments – including cloud, SaaS, email, IoT, endpoint and on-premise network, and builds up an understanding of ‘on the job’ of the regular patterns of behaviour of every user, device and system. It uses this understanding – known as a ‘pattern of life’ – to detect subtle indications of threatening activity, and respond proportionately with no disruption to the wider business. 

What specific higher-value tasks does the solution allow your team to focus on?

With technologies like autonomous response and automated investigation, attacks are mitigated before they develop into a crisis. This buys us critical time that we need to ensure all systems are updated with the latest patches, proactively checking for potential vulnerabilities and supporting our wider Digital Transformation agenda by ensuring cybersecurity is designed-in to all systems and processes.

How do you predict Ted Baker will evolve, from a cybersecurity perspective, over the next 12 months? 

Over the next year, our focus will be on further strengthening our cloud defences as we complete our full migration to the cloud as part of our overall business transformation activity. A great example of this is our new global e-commerce platform that goes live early next year. By designing-in cybersecurity from the very start, there have had to be no compromises in the customer experience. We will be continuing to work closely with third-party supply chain vendors to ensure that these do not become a point of ingress as well. Our human security team will continue to focus on the higher order proactive activities such as red-teaming and challenging ourselves with ‘what if’ modelling.

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