NSCS warns about business’s third party cyber security risks

GCHQ’s NCSC warns that third party suppliers may be businesses’ biggest cyber security risk.

GCHQ's NCSC warns that third party suppliers may be businesses' biggest cyber security risk.

Despite spending millions on cyber security enhancements and compliance around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organisations remain reluctant to address the weakest link in their IT security environment – their supply chain and associated third-party relationships.

A report in October from the UK National Cyber Security Centre revealed that the GCHQ offshoot had stopped almost 1,200 attacks in the past two years and is fighting off around 10 attacks every week.

Addressing third party cyber security risks are challenging and significant.

For larger organisations, procurement decisions are usually made without input from those responsible for cyber security, and such agreements can provide access to critical systems via open application programming interfaces (APIs) and other interaction mechanisms.

Supplier relationships are also overwhelming without a standard process to manage cyber risk when the relationship is via an arms-length contractual arrangement. Many organisations are struggling to address their internal network security issues and have not sufficiently considered the risks beyond their own network.

But third party cyber security risk is too significant and too dangerous an issue for board members to continue to overlook.

NIS Directive
Current regulatory initiatives including the Networks and Information Systems (NIS) Directive and GDPR require organisations to take responsibility for ensuring that external suppliers have implemented adequate cyber security measures.

Both NIS and GDPR require notification to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) no later than 72 hours after an organisation is aware of a data breach or a cyber incident having a substantial impact on its services.

Many data breaches affecting large organisations occur within a third party service provider. Organisations that do not have the contractual provisions and processes in place with these suppliers to secure the necessary information surrounding the data breach are unlikely to meet the 72-hour deadline.

Missed deadlines and poor or inaccurate information reveal due diligence and contractual failures. These failures increase the risk of a regulatory investigation and significant financial penalties.

But regulatory fines are just the beginning. There are also civil liabilities, as well as loss of consumer trust and investor confidence that result from a cyber breach. Under GDPR, individuals can claim compensation for material and non-material damage.

A data controller is jointly and severally liable for the damage if it was in some way also responsible for a breach due to unlawful processing by a data processor.

To mitigate these risks, organisations that outsource cyber security functions should comprehensively review their third party contractual arrangements and revise their internal procurement processes and procedures to include cyber security assessments. These reviews should, at a minimum, assess, document and monitor these agreements.

Cyber threats are on the rise in both number and complexity. They are purposely attacking the supply chain. Recent regulatory approaches under NIS and GDPR require organisations to take an active role overseeing their third-party providers.

Failure to do so can result in regulatory fines, civil liabilities and reputational loss. Investing human and financial capital now to assess and mitigate risk can help significantly reduce these liabilities, protect an organisation’s reputation and strengthen consumer trust.

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UK small business cyber security spend low despite breaches

The UK is the most breached country in Europe, but business’ IT cyber security spend remains low compared with other countries in the region, a report reveals

UK small business cyber security spend low despite breaches

More than a third of UK businesses reported cyber security attacks in the past year, which was higher than any other country in Europe, according to the European edition of the 2018 Thales data threat report.

However, despite a 24% increase in the number of attacks compared with the previous year, UK firms claimed to feel less vulnerable to data threats, compared with those across Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, and consequently invested less in cyber security.

While more organisations across Sweden (78%) and the Netherlands (74%) admitted to being breached in the past, compared with just 67% of organisations in the UK, the report said it was a different story in the past 12 months.

Thales data shows that while 37% of businesses across the UK were breached, the figures were lower for Germany (33%), Sweden (30%) and the Netherlands (27%).

Despite the rise in attacks, just 31% of UK organisations said they feel “very” or “extremely” vulnerable to data threats, leaving the majority (69%) feeling “somewhat” or “not at all” vulnerable. Businesses across Sweden claimed to feel the most vulnerable (49%), followed by the Netherlands (47%) and Germany (36%).

Although 69% of UK organisations reported an overall increase in their IT security spending, with 15% saying it was much higher’ than the previous year, the report said the increase is still less than spend in Sweden, where 75% of businesses have upped their budgets to offset threats, and Germany where 76% have increased their IT security budgets.

While 72% of organisations polled have dedicated more money to IT security, UK businesses appeared to still fall short compared with their European counterparts, with 39% of Swedish respondents saying their budget was “much higher” than the previous year and an additional 36% claiming it was ‘somewhat higher’, and spending said to be “a lot more” by 29% of firms in the Netherlands and 24% in France.

The report also reveals that despite the two year bedding in period allowed for compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), 49% of companies in Sweden failed data security audits in the past year, followed by the Netherlands (38%), Germany (33%) and the UK (19%).

Aside from the UK, all other European countries showed decline in their efforts to meet compliance, which the report said was “worrying” in the light of the fact that there are so many changes to standards and regulations. Despite this drop, respondents across the board all cited compliance as being effective when it comes to preventing data breaches.

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Skills shortage a major cyber security risk for small businesses

Cyber security skill shortages remain a major risk to small businesses who are still struggling to defend against cyber breaches, an new survey shows.

Cyber security skill shortages remain a major risk to small businesses who are still struggling to defend against cyber breaches, an new survey shows.

The proportion of information security professionals who feel organisations are getting worse at defending against major cyber security breaches has leapt from 9% to 18% in the past three years, the survey by not-for-profit industry body, the Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP) has revealled.

Security industry leaders are increasingly putting emphasis on cyber resilience based on good detection and response capabilities, rather than relying mainly on defence technologies and controls.

“These results reflect the difficulty in defending against increasingly sophisticated attacks and the realisation breaches are inevitable – it’s just a case of when and not if,” said Piers Wilson, director at the IISP.

“Security teams are now putting increasing focus on systems and processes to respond to problems when they arise, as well as learning from the experiences of others.”

When it comes to investment, the survey suggests that for many organisations, the threats are outstripping budgets in terms of growth. The number of businesses reporting increased budgets dropped from 70% to 64% and businesses with falling budgets increased from 7% up to 12%.

According to the IISP, economic pressures and uncertainty in the UK market are likely to be restraining factors on security budgets, while the demands of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other regulations such as Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and Networks and Information Systems Directive (NISD) are undoubtedly putting more pressure on limited resources.

The survey report highlights the problem of skills shortages with the proportion of respondents reporting a dearth of skills as a challenge growing to 18%, up from just 8% in 2015.

While acting as a potential brake on capability, the skills shortage is also driving job prospects year-on-year, reflected in a growth of respondents in all the higher salary bands and in those reporting good job and career prospects.

“This year’s survey further highlights the continued need for industry, government, academia and professional bodies like the IISP to continue to work to resolve these shortages in skills across all levels and disciplines,” said Amanda Finch, general manager at the IISP.

“We have seen AI and machine learning used in defensive security systems for some time and this is now starting to become part of a wider automation approach,” said Wilson. “But like the IoT, AI can also be exploited by cyber criminals, so we need to have the people and technologies to respond and mitigate these emerging risks.”

The IISP represents more than 8,000 individuals across private and government sectors, 41 corporate member organisations and 22 academic partners.

As well as surveying its members, the IISP opened the survey up to non-member security professionals, representing a wide range of ages, experience and industry sectors.

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Majority of SME businesses firms unprepared for cyber phishing attacks

57% of SME small businesses are unprepared for a cyber phishing attack, despite the fact that 78% have been hit by a cyber security attack that started that way, a report shows.

57% of SME small businesses are unprepared for a cyber phishing attack, despite the fact that 78% have been hit by a cyber security attack that started that way, a report shows.
Most cyber attacks can be traced back to a phishing email, but more than half of small businesses are unprepared to deal with email-based attacks, research has revealed

Security teams reported that they are struggling to respond to the number of suspicious emails being received, according to the latest European phishing response trends report by phishing defence firm Cofense.

Other key findings of the small business report include that the top security concern is phishing and email-related threats, with 41% of respondents saying their biggest anti-phishing challenge is poorly integrated security systems.

The UK reports the most suspicious emails each week across Europe with 23% reporting more than 500, followed by the Netherlands (22%), France (20%), Germany (18%) and Belgium (16%).

With phishing and email-related threats being the main security concern of the European-based survey respondents, the report said it is critical that businesses have an effective strategy to counter the attack vector, which is fully integrated with broader security solutions.

According to Cofense, it is paramount that phishing simulations are like the real thing and encourage reporting which, in turn, can not only stop a malicious email compromising an enterprise’s network, but can also give the incident response team a head start.

“The analysis of email-based attacks gives us extremely valuable insight into the security posture of European organisations,” said Rohyt Belani, co-founder and CEO of Cofense. “What we’re really looking at here is addressing human susceptibility and building human resiliency to work in concert with technology to combat security threats facing Europe.”

Cyber Security Phishing Dangers

  • More than one million new phishing sites created each month.
  • Phishing is no longer just a consumer problem, say experts. The scams are hurting companies’ reputations and bottom lines.
  • Email is the number one entry point for data breaches, which includes targeted email attacks such as business email compromise and spear phishing.
  • Targeted malware attacks and social engineering schemes such as phishing and whaling pose a growing security threat because cyber criminals are getting help from unwitting users.

Cyber attacks, particularly those on a scale that can siphon billions of euros from the financial system, involve a complex web of both victims and potential access points for cyber criminals to elevate the severity of an attack.

Phishing attacks, despite being among the most well-known cyber security attack vectors, are still consistently fooling companies and private individuals.

Phishing presents such a concern because it is the “spark that ignites a long line of malicious activity, creating a pipeline of infected systems and accessible data for threat actors to leverage in further criminal campaigns.

Small businesses need to engage with stringent educational campaigns around these issues across all levels of the organisation.

So if you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a phising data cyber incident with affordable, live systems protection please ring us now on 01242 521967 or email [email protected] or complete the form on our contact page NOWContact Cyber 139

ICO fines Carphone Warehouse £400K over data loss

Carphone Warehouse has received one of the highest fines by the ICO after putting it’s clients’ personal data at risk.

Carphone Warehouse has received one of the highest fines by the ICO after putting it's clients' personal data at risk.

The UK privacy watchdog – the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) warns that more stringent data protection laws will apply from 25 May 2018, with potentially much greater fines.The Information

According to the ICO, the personal data at Carphone Warehouse was exposed in a cyber attack because of the company’s failure to protect the data from unauthorised access.

The compromised customer data included names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, marital status and, for more than 18,000 customers, historical payment card details.

The records for some Carphone Warehouse employees, including name, phone numbers, postcode and car registration, were also exposed.

In determining the monetary penalty, the ICO considered that the personal data involved would significantly affect individuals’ privacy, leaving their data at risk of being misused.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that a company as large, well resourced and established as Carphone Warehouse should have been actively assessing its data security systems and ensuring that systems were robust and not vulnerable to such attacks.

“Carphone Warehouse should be at the top of its game when it comes to cyber security, and it is concerning that the systemic failures we found related to rudimentary, commonplace measures,” said Denham.

Following a detailed investigation, the ICO identified multiple inadequacies in Carphone Warehouse’s approach to data security and determined that the company had failed to take adequate steps to protect the personal information.

Using valid login credentials, intruders were able to access the system via an out of date version of WordPress software.

The incident also exposed inadequacies in the organisation’s technical security measures. The ICO said important elements of the software in use on the systems affected were out of date and the company had failed to carry out routine security testing.

The ICO said its investigation had revealed a serious contravention of Principle 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998, which requires appropriate technical and organisational measures to be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.

According to Denham, the real victims are customers and employees whose information was open to abuse by the malicious actions of the intruder.

“The law says it is the company’s responsibility to protect customer and employee personal information,” she said. “Outsiders should not be getting to such systems in the first place. Having an effective layered security system will help to mitigate any attack – systems can’t be exploited if intruders can’t get in.

“There will always be attempts to breach organisations’ systems and cyber attacks are becoming more frequent as adversaries become more determined. But companies and public bodies need to take serious steps to protect systems and, most importantly, customers and employees.”

From 25 May this year, the law will get more stringent as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance deadline is reached, the ICO said.

Data protection by design is one of the GDPR’s requirements, the regulator said, and must be in every part of information processing, from the hardware and software to the procedures, guidelines, standards and polices that an organisation has or should have.

Companies and public bodies should ensure strong IT governance and information security measures are in place, tested and refreshed to comply with the provisions of the law, the ICO said.

Failure to comply with the GDPR requirements will put companies at risk of fines of up to €20m or 4% of their global annual turnover.

So if you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a data incident with affordable, live systems protection please ring us now on 01242 521967 or email [email protected] or complete the form on our contact page NOWContact Cyber 139

Digital identity needs to be cyber security priority in 2018

Protecting digital identities and protecting employees are key cyber security challenges for 2018.

Protecting digital identities and protecting employees are key cyber security challenges for 2018

The issues of protecting digital identity, gaining data visibility and protecting employees are key cyber security challenges for 2018 according to the cyber security 2018 predictions report by security firm FireEye.

“The idea that you can get someone’s date of birth, and their Social Security number and steal their identity and do fraudulent tax refunds, or try to get a loan or credit card – that has to change,” FireEye said.

“This has to happen. Otherwise, every five months, we’re going to have another huge data breach,” they warned.

In addition to the imperative of finding a better way to manage identity, RedEye said it was also important to find a way of dealing with international privacy.

On the topic of nation state actors in the cyber realm, RedEye considers Iran the most interesting country to watch, rather than Russia, China or North Korea.

RedEye said while Iran started “acting at scale” in 2017, the extent of that activity was not really known. “We don’t know if we are seeing 5% of Iran’s activities, or 90% – although I’m guessing it’s closer to 5% – but they’re operating at a scale where, for the first time in my career, It feels to me that the majority of the actors we’re responding to right now are hosted in Iran, and they are state sponsored,” they said.

On the topic of cloud security, RedEye claimed better visibility was of paramount importance. I know that a lot of people are depending on the cloud, and we need visibility.

“Many of these cloud providers are providing it, but we don’t always have security operations that can take advantage of that visibility and see what’s happening,” he said.

An area many companies are still overlooking, RedEye said, is protecting employees from cyber attack.

He said companies needed to consider whether hackers could access corporate accounts through hacking employees’ private accounts, or if they could make it appear as though they have hacked the enterprise.

“There are hackers out there who will hack an employee at a company, and they will post any document they can get, and they will say they hacked the company even if they haven’t. It’s a reputational thing – while it’s hard to gauge the public response to these types of incidents, right now many companies are being deemed irresponsible or negligent or compromised when they are none of those things,” he said.

RedEye said all security professionals should be thinking about what employees are doing when they go home, how they can be secured, how they can be helped, what policies are needed and how those policies could be enforced.

They advised that all organisations moving into the cloud should know everything that is going on.

While there are bound to be new, interesting attacks in 2018, organisations should be preparing for modified versions of current attacks

“For instance, do you have places where documents are getting uploaded and then going into your back office? That’s a good place to ensure there is some high-grade detection, beyond an antivirus scanner. Because you essentially have unauthenticated input going directly into the key parts of your organisation.”

So if you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a data incident with affordable, live systems protection please ring us now on 01242 521967 or email [email protected] or complete the form on our contact page NOWContact Cyber 139