Louis Evans

Send In the Blade Runner: Human Cybersecurity in the Age of Machines

I need ya, Deck. This is a bad one, the worst yet. I need the old blade runner, I need your magic.
– Harry Bryant to Rick Deckard

I’ve always felt there was something a little weird about the plot of Blade Runner. It’s this: why not track the replicants down with ordinary police work? The police department has names, and mugshots, and rap sheets for all the escaped replicants; they’ve got known identities and objectives. The replicants may be androids, but why not just hunt them down like any other criminal? Why all this complicated foofaraw with a retired “blade runner” (replicant-hunting expert) and the Voight-Kampff test (a device that evaluates the humanity of its subjects), when ordinary police tactics could have worked just as well?

Now, I have some ideas about this as a fan of sci-fi. But as a cybersecurity evangelist, I kind of have to suspect that Dick was, once again, an accidental prophet entirely unaware of his talent. (Just as in his obscure short story, “Waterspider”)

Because in the world of cybersecurity, that’s exactly what we do in the face of new threats: we send in the blade runner.

Who is the blade runner?

Here at Arctic Wolf, we call our blade runners “Concierge Security Engineers” (CSE)—the title helps keep things professional. But the concept is exactly the same. When your business is threatened by replicants—by cyberattackers disguising themselves as legitimate business—the keystone of your defense has to be a trained expert. Not unsupervised technology, not part-time attention from staff with other skills. A dedicated cybersecurity expert.

The Blade Runners of the film use the newest and most sophisticated machinery to hunt down their targets—the Voight-Kampff test. But the test doesn’t administer itself, and it requires human intuition to be maximally effective.

That’s just what our CSEs do. They use sophisticated sensors, they use machine learning to keep their indicators of compromise updated to the bleeding edge—but at the end of the day, they use human intuition to evaluate possible attacks. In today’s cybersecurity environment, you need a well-engineered system to raise the alarm, but you need a human to evaluate an attack and make the final call.

Only a solution that combines technology, process, and people—the right people, highly trained, highly motivated, dedicated to their jobs—can provide your organization with real security.

And just as in the film, the threat is bad now, but it’s getting worse. Your team needs an expert on its side. Your team needs to send in the blade runner.