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A recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO) said it would take the UK 20 years to develop the sophisticated skills needed to improve cyber security.
But there is no need to despair a€“ with a calm head and using current IT capabilities properly, you can keep the risks to your organisation acceptably low and protect your most valuable information.
Even though technical defences are improving, as is public awareness, it seems clear the bad guys will always have the initiative.
Computers do not make mistakes by themselves, so employees remain your biggest potential vulnerability. To stay secure an organisation needs a joined-up approach between IT, personnel, legal, operations and many other disciplines.
Two weeks into a new CIO job at a global bank, Harvey Koeppel was faced with a cybersecurity threat halfway across the globe. Reflecting on the top cyber security threats from last year, one trend is apparent: continuous innovation in cyber crime practices to camouflage cyber-attacks.
However, facing sophisticated malware from the front is usually the last resort for the IT community in charge with guarding IT networks of resource-driven enterprises. Anticipating potential threats specific to your organization is key to enhancing security of your company in 2014. Linux, once amongst the safest platforms now sees a modest growth in targeted malware trends as the OS is widely used to deliver services and host Web content. Modern malware is all about stealth in practicing targeted attacks viciously and IT personnel need to keep a keen eye on IT movements within their organization’s networks.
IT may easily be fooled by clever cyber-attacks capable of dodging past the apparently vast security fences, but looking into IT operations within the network says a lot about how the security deployments are doing their jobs. Because if you don’t detect malicious traffic at the front gates of your IT networks, you might as well have been a victim to sophisticated cybercrime practices already.
There are some online resources indicating the current threat level related to cyber security. This entry was posted in Cybersecurity, Protection, Risk Management, Security Incidents and Cases, Security Threats. When checked, Shutterstock's safe search screens restricted content and excludes it from your search results. Last month was European Cyber Security Month (ECSM), and this year’s theme was ‘Cyber Security is a Shared Responsibility’, reflecting the notion that cyberspace cannot be secured without the help of all users. We’ve spoken to two experts in the area of insider threat to provide some insight into what it is and how it can be defended against. GC: In our industry, insider threat is essentially any threat that relates to information on the network, and it could be either a malicious act or due to just plain negligence. GC: If you look at it from a data perspective, every organization has some type of data that makes it unique – this could be a customer list or a business strategy – anything that has economic value or is a financial driver.
FA: Think about all the files and folders that are stored on your organization’s internal network – any part of this information could become a target. Organizations should get all the right stakeholders in one room to really understand what they are trying to achieve in terms of security and from there create a robust insider threat program that is part of the business process. FA: At a more granular level, you can set and enforce rules to restrict and control user logins as well as access to specific files and folders. Repeated training can be quite boring and attendance is in no way a measurement of effectiveness. FA: Training and software solutions are both important but in order to create a culture of cyber security, they must work together and not be treated as separate tools.
Q: Many industries work under regulations with regards to internal security, how do you think organizations in these industries view compliance? GC: In the US, there is a lot of regulation and in industries that have personal and public involvement like in healthcare, it is taken very seriously.
So most organizations meet regulation needs but they should do more than that – they should make risk management part of the whole-company strategy. FA: Most regulated organizations view compliance seriously and take all the necessary steps to meet the industry-set criteria. More people and things are coming online, bringing many new opportunities and many new threats. Recent events have shown us how unsecure many new Internet of Things (IoT) devices are with cars, drones and even guns being hacked in the last few months. Setting security standards and introducing even basic cyber security provisions will help enormously, but as the security challenge grows do the techniques we have relied on for so long even fit the bill?
These challenges and innovations were explored in a recent Hot Topics discussion with three excellent speakers from the world of cyber security: Miranda Mowbray, Research Engineer at HP labs, Chris Wallis, founder and CEO of the cyber security startup Intruder, and Dave Palmer, Director of Technology at Darktrace. The results are a little shocking: an average of 25 security flaws per device, with easily interceptable watch to mobile communication and easy access to many aspects of the home security systems. Many of the SMEs who enter this area also have limited capacity and let’s be honest, security is generally last on the list. Part of the issue is also technical, many of the off-the-shelf components that go into making these products are not designed or do not have the capacity to run adequate measures. Miranda finished her talk with a number of suggestions for how to overcome many of these issues. Chris began the second talk by delving into what being a penetration tester means and reflecting on his many years in the business.
Trying to find flaws in a network's defences and understand where there are weaknesses in a system that you don’t know anything about is not an easy thing to do. A lot of the tools that exist are fairly blunt and indiscriminate in terms of what they pull out as a possible vulnerability. Intruder is an automated vulnerability tester that considers context, provides continuous scanning and cuts out the noise to provide clear, actionable information. It is as much about better communication as better technology - by removing the noise and communicating threats effectively they can help non-experts to better understand and deal with security issues. One of the biggest issues is not knowing when you have been hacked (until the names of your clients are plastered all over the internet and it is far too late to do anything).
The third speaker Dave Palmer discussed a new approach to cybersecurity that Darktrace is taking. It is possible to integrate an automated response from the security system but very few of Darktrace’s customers opt in to this service. Combined with firewall defences this kind of security approach creates a real edge over hackers - if someone wanted to get on the network and not be identified they would have to be able to copy the system's idea of 'normal behaviour' without knowing what this was.
As more people come into the field from different backgrounds the communication will improve, and security marketing teams are already emerging to help sell security services and ideas.
Perhaps because it is a newer problem we tend to talk about solving cybersecurity but there is no way of ‘solving’ it in the same way we will are unlikely to solve street robberies. Not only are more and more people going to come online in the near future but these people will be much more computer savvy than previous generations.
At the end of the event each of the speakers were asked what one thing discussed during the event would make the most difference to cyber-safety.

Dave Palmer in a professional context sees the gap that Darktrace is filling as fundamental. The challenge is getting bigger but so are our capabilities, as long as we can tip the balance in favour of defence and make attacks as difficulty as possible we should be okay. All our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, unless it says otherwise.
Recent studies by Qualys and Duo Security report high levels of unpatched software in Android devices (50%), Java (40%), Adobe Reader (32%) and Apple Quicktime (25%). If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States.
Cyber criminals are easily converting unprotected systems into botnet chains that tend to hide the original attack sources. For security warriors leading the battle against cyber crime, the ability to bypass potentially catastrophic cyber-attacks saves enterprises billions of dollars each day. Looking back at the last 12 months, we noticed a few growing trends in the security threat landscape.
However, the consumer-centric business model of mobile software companies and app developers played a crucial role in continuously improving mobile platforms and services. The platform will be an obvious target through 2014 as most of the underlying internet infrastructure runs on Linux-based servers. Considering the technological advancements in the cyber crime industry, breaking into weak IT networks is often a walk in the park for high-profile cyber criminals. Meanwhile, Week 2’s topic ‘Creating a culture of cyber security at work’ related closely to what is most organizations’ weakest link – its employees. The first is Francois Amigorena, President & CEO at IS Decisions, a solutions provider specializing in securing internal user network access, that works with big name organizations including Barclays, Dell and US Department of Justice.
Putting security measures in place that will track, monitor and restrict data access and movement is therefore hugely valuable. Preventing or limiting concurrent or multiple logins is one such restriction that will reduce what’s called the ‘attack surface’ – the sum of vulnerable points open to a breach.
But often after employees go through security training, they sign a form and the task is done. So training needs to be part of the overall process improvement so we recommend exercises with employees where someone poses as an insider and does activities to really test out your system.
Most insider threat breaches are down to plain human error but you don’t want your staff to think that the software solutions are there as part of a witch-hunt. New malwares are being written everyday and from a legal perspective, organizations can often say that they were compliant in line with government regulations but that does not necessarily stop a breach.
However, when you see a case like the one earlier this year when hackers infected a Chinese restaurant’s online menu with malware to target employees of an oil company, it shows that a threat can come from anywhere.
Organizations need to realize that there is no longer a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution – even for regulated industries. IS Decisions software offers organizations proven and effective solutions to help protect a Windows Network against Insider Threats. Over 60% of all internet users are in developing countries, with 45% of all internet users below the age of 25 years. Some companies are not taking the risk seriously enough but what happens when cities start to rely on sensors that can be easily hacked? Automated approaches to penetration testing and identifying suspicious behaviour on a network are providing the next layer of intelligent defence but will this be enough to keep us secure in an ever more connected world? Miranda presented research from HP that looked at the vulnerability of a number of common IoT devices, smartwatches and home-security systems. The problem is everywhere in the home - thermostats, garage doors, a hacker could even gain access to a network through a lightbulb.
Firstly, innovation is moving much faster than the security fixes and many of these IoT vendors have not had to think about security in the past.
The version of linux that many IoT devices run on will be out of date by the time they are integrated in the home. Lightweight Cryptography could help in the ‘constrained environments’ IoT devices have but in time Moore’s law and advances in computing power will help solve this. Communication has always been key to Chris’ ethos and is often done very badly by penetration testers. It does seem staggering that around $75.4bn will be spent on cybersecurity in 2015 but most people will not be able to tell when someone is inside their network. It is a bit like the body’s immune system and uses machine-learning approaches to understand what is normal behaviour on a network so you can see when things look strange. But communication is not just about talking to customers, staff have an equally difficult time trying to get senior colleagues to understand the value and process of security. Miranda mentioned that HP are doing work on this and it involves figuring out how valuable bits of the system are so you can say if this service goes down the cost will be ?X. The ‘bad guys’ will get better at what they do, particularly as the sector becomes more financially profitable.
While trying to prepare the next generation with new skills are we inevitably creating a new army of computer hackers? Chris referred back to the fundamental need to get people to really care about this stuff, both personally and professionally. Being able to tell when there is suspicious activity on your network and lock it down before it does any damage is a huge advantage. The industry is very labour intensive and as the number of possible attackers, attacks and data increases we will need ways of lightening the burden. Sophisticated malware and exploit kits are being sold openly in cyber crime underground black markets. For enterprise IT, dealing with widespread, camouflaged and resilient threats from botnet chains received high attention while botnet operators kept responding efficiently with countermeasures.
Yet, smartphones are expected to be the biggest contributors toward security concerns in the consumer sector as well as the BYOD-bound enterprise world in the era of consumerization of IT next year. 2013 saw a large proportion of malicious PHP scripts directing Web traffic via internet channels not intended to follow by service providers and internet users.
Monitoring incidents of unexpected data transfers, network traffic trends and service requests go a long way in detecting network infringements by stealthy malware that bypass all layers of network protection. The fact is that many, if not most, security breaches involve internal users, and this risk is known as ‘insider threat’. The second is Greg Cullison, Senior Executive of Security, Suitability & Insider Threat Programs at Big Sky Associates, specialists in helping federal and commercial organizations mitigate threats, discuss how understanding insider threats plays an important part in creating a culture of cyber security. The most common is the employee who has legitimate access to the system and data as part of their job.
This is obviously a significant risk, but the more common occurrence comes from human error.

If there aren’t any protocols in place for when a breach happens, by the time you find out about it it could be too late to recover or even minimize the damage.
Monitor real-time access across the network on all sessions including Wi-Fi and VPN, and record and audit who was connected, from which system, since what time and for how long. This is not enough – companies should follow up on training because here is where the danger lies if there are no reminders. It is important to educate them on why the tools are there, how they work and how employees can proactively be a part of the process that helps safeguard company information.
Media coverage on beaches also gets organizations to take notice of compliance because if there is a breach, they don’t want the same thing to happen to them.
You then start to think about combining different risk procedures that will help protect your employees and your company information more effectively. Creating a culture of cyber security within and for your employees is paramount in helping to safeguard your company against insider threats. They do not have integrated processes to deal with security issues and current business models do not support the development of better systems (personal data is a valuable commodity). Some react immediately and welcome the findings while others respond with suspicion or worst of all do not seem to care about the implications at all. Security and privacy designed in from the start will be vital and open-source tools for connecting offline things will help companies that don’t have existing processes. If you make the comparison with surgery, penetration testers are a bit more like the 18th century doctors with hacksaws rather than the surgeons of today with plenty of precision equipment at their fingertips. The learning algorithm takes about a week to learn what is normal on the network and then is able to flag up any unusual activity. They may even start employing advanced tools like machine learning algorithms and as a result defence will have to become even smarter. This generation is going to rely on the security systems we create and use, if we don’t get it right we may have some pretty unpleasant consequences in store. In a broader sense he believes improving password strength is key, if everyone were to ensure they used passwords with 12 characters or more it would have a big impact. Here technology employed by Darktrace and Miranda at HP will form an increasingly important part of the solution.
And every successful malware invention neutralized by security experts is being replaced by nasty alternatives capable of inflicting more damage, faster and silently.
For the consumer sector, botnets were used primarily to deliver ransomware via phishing and spoofed emails.
Then there is the outside worker who is temporarily contracted to do a job within the company.
This will help flag anomalies in individual usage, which will help you see and respond to potential breaches in advance, as well as provide an audit trail to minimize damage in the event of a breach.
Organizations have to understand what they need to achieve and then set policies in place to meet these objectives. On the other hand technology can help with the training process, by giving users reminders of policy ‘in situ’, for instance if they are trying to login from a new device.
Talking to organizations about compliance and risk in terms of revenue losses helps them relate to it better. By the year 2020, the number of networked devices (the a€?internet of thingsa€?) will outnumber people by six to one, transforming current conceptions of the internet. But trying to communicate the effectiveness of a security system is hard - it is easier to know how often you have been hacked than how many attacks you have avoided.
When it comes to current IoT issues even relatively basic security protocols will be a huge advantage. And finally, there is the ‘outside insider’ who has gained access to the network through the acquisition of passwords or a lost device such as a laptop or USB stick.
This leaves the organization wide open to social engineering tactics, whereby an outsider could gain access not with clever hacking techniques but by tricking a user into sharing access. It can also provide a more engaging way to educate employees, IS Decisions’ ‘The Weakest Link’ is a fun free online game we created for users to play, testing their security awareness.
Security is not high on their priorities though more highly publicised hacks may turn that around.
Imagination is need when it comes to communication, with better visualisations and storytelling.
For example with IT and HR working together, you can have a policy in place to monitor an employee who might have been flagged as having grievances or performance issues. Using Recorded Future, I ran a search for events related to the IT industry from January 2010 to March 2014. Youa€™ll notice an unprecedented increase in the last two quarters of 2013, and the first quarter of 2014. These costs are likely to increase with the greater internet penetration, and as organizations continue digitalizing their products to compete in ever more competitive markets. It is also noteworthy for the first time they can no longer be referred to as the hub from where these attacks originate for reasons that will be explained ahead.By opening up the data displayed in the form of heatmaps, it is easy to observe the number of attacks against US and European businesses, firms, and institutions far outnumber the attacks that originate from within these regions, but are directed elsewhere.
This makes the cyber infrastructure within these regions shift into a defensive posture.Ita€™s also interesting to observe most of these attacks are consistent in their details and references, with a high number of offensives originating from countries in Asia and Eastern Europe. Improving IT InfrastructureCountries with fast developing economies such as China, Hong-Kong, South Korea, and India have huge incentive in strengthening their IT infrastructure to support their booming economies. Expanding Tech and Telecommunication SectorWith high tech companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung shifting their operations into Asian countries, the development must also be balanced with the technical structure which could support the increasing IT sector.For example, the next generation of IT infrastructure such as the 4G internet network could support advanced persistent threat attacks.
Or the increased number of server farms or call centers within a country are ideal to host Command and Control (CnC) centers for receiving call backs. Weak Legislation and State ControlThe greatest incentive, particularly in the case of Eastern European countries like Ukraine, lies in the fact the majority of these countries have weak (if any) legislation on cyber crime. Moreover, the implementation of these laws is further balked by technological limitations of state institutions (bureaucratic and legal loopholes) providing excellent cover to cyber criminals.
These actors also happen to derive their motivation from supportive social structure, as well as readily available economic and professional incentives that are becoming increasingly conditional to cyber attacks.Forecasting the Cyber Threat LandscapeA suitable combination of aforementioned factors, in the context of global geo-political and economic framework, would determine the future hotbeds for cyber attacks. Now the scope, rate, and nature of cyber attacks depends largely on an organizationa€™s industry, size, and location, but ita€™s clear EVERY organization MUST reconsider its cyber security strategy.The conventional remedies are unlikely to suffice in the face of fast-evolving threat complexities in the cyber milieu, and todaya€™s cyber security policy must ideally switch its posture from defensive to preventive. By making use of Recorded Futurea€™s web and cyber analytics, you can take a more realistic look at the threats your organization is, or likely to, face.

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