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.”

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Most small businesses (SMEs) not prepared for GDPR

There is still much work to be done before small businesses (SMEs) are fully prepared for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

There is still much work to be done before small businesses (SMEs) are fully prepared for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

With the GDPR compliance deadline just over six months away, the UK’s small business community remains unsure about a number of related issues.

Small businesses are struggling to come to grips with what “personal data” really means, their customers’ new and extended rights, and whether the permissions they currently have to contact customers will meet the requirements of GDPR.

This is one of the key findings of the Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly survey that questions more than 900 SME owners and senior management across a range of sectors and regions in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

“GDPR is intended to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the EU, but will also affect the UK regardless of Brexit,” said Neil Davies, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance.

“It will ensure that all personal data has to be managed in a safe and secure way, has to be gathered lawfully, is only used for the purposes for which it was collected, and must be accurate and up to date.

Poor understanding of GDPR compliance requirements

“The figures from the barometer tell us that uncertainty persists on a number of key compliance issues, and SMEs are concerned about the implications for their business.”

Less than a third (31%) of SMEs answered “yes” to the question, “Are you clear what ‘personal data’ means in a business context?”, with 50% responding “sort of” and the remaining 19% saying “no”.

“On a positive note, 73% of firm owners categorically stated that they do not share customers’ personal data with third parties,” said Neil. “There are, however, companies openly admitting to sharing customers’ details (8%), and a further 18% conceding they were unsure of whether they do or not.”

Less than half (48%) of respondents said they understand the new and extended rights that customers have when it comes to collecting and utilising their personal information.

Despite the lack of clear understanding of the extended rights customers will have, 58% of SMEs are confident that the permissions they currently have to contact customers will meet the requirements of GDPR.

“This still leaves more than 40% of firms which are unconvinced about their readiness ahead of 25 May 2018,” said Neil. “How it works is that companies must get prior consent from data subjects – opt in – and record that consent. What’s more, the consent must relate specifically to the purposes of why a company needs that data – companies cannot get consent for one purpose and then use the gathered personal data for another.

“On top of this, consumers must be able to revoke their consent as easily as it was originally given, because many consumers complain that it is easy to opt in to data gathering, but difficult to unsubscribe or opt out.”

Of those polled, 44% said they had a process in place to ensure their firm was collecting data in the correct manner, against 35% who were “unsure” and 21% admitting they had no existing process in place

“Businesses have to be seen to be compliant, and this includes ensuring these sorts of processes are in place to ensure customers are fairly treated,” said Neil.

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SMEs more vulnerable than ever to cyber security attacks

The overwhelming majority of cyber security attacks on small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) result from poor password management, a study of 1,000 UK and US SMEs by the Ponemon Institute shows.

The overwhelming majority of cyber security attacks on small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) result from poor password management, a study of 1,000 UK and US SMEs by the Ponemon Institute shows.

Despite this fact, SMEs are doing very little to boost visibility into the password practices of their employees, according to the study sponsored by password management firm Keeper Security.

The study report said employee negligence is the top root cause of successful data breaches.

“Survey respondents believe cyber attacks are becoming more targeted, more severe in terms of consequences, and more sophisticated,” said Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute. “So you would think things would be getting better in terms of protecting themselves, but they are really trending to worsening.”

According to the survey – 61% of respondents reported a cyber security attack, up from 55% a year ago – while 54% reported a data breach, up from 50% a year earlier.

Ransomware attacks were reported by 52% of respondents, with 53% of those reporting they were hit by more than one ransomware attack.

The total costs associated with successful cyber attacks on SMEs now total well in excess of £1m, meaning a single attack could bring an SME to its knees financially.

Not only has the cost of data breaches risen to an average of just over £1.2m including all attack mitigation and business disruption costs from £717,909 a year ago, but the average number of records stolen has soared from just over 5,000 per attack last year to 9,350 this year – an 87% increase.

While 54% of respondents say the root cause of the attacks are negligent (not malicious) employees, a full third of the companies surveyed could not even determine the root cause.

An ongoing lack of attention to password usage underlies much of the cyber security woes at SMEs, the study said, referring to the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, which noted that 81% of all cyber attacks result from poor password management practices.

More information about SME cyber security risks

  • SMEs are failing to address cyber threats despite the risks.
  • SMEs typically face the same threats as bigger organisations, but lack the same level of expertise and other security resources.
  • The latest Ponemon research shows that 59% of respondents said they have no visibility into their employees’ password practices, which is unchanged from a year ago.

Among the bad practices cited are using the same passwords for access to multiple accounts and servers; sharing passwords in highly insecure ways; and failing to use strong passwords, settling instead for 123456 or other very easily compromised passwords.

Less than half – 43% – of SMEs surveyed have any sort of password policy in place. And of those that do have such a policy in place, 68% (up from 65% last year) said they either do not strictly enforce the policies or are unsure if they are enforced.

According to the study, SMEs need to implement greater data protection beyond the “traditional” protection tools, with two-thirds of respondents reporting cyber attacks that evaded the company’s intrusion protection defenses, up from 57% a year ago, and 81% reporting such attacks evading traditional antivirus defences, up from 76% last year.

The Ponemon study shows that the top barriers to adopting better cyber defences are a lack of trained security staff (73%) and inadequate budget (56%).

However, the report said given the enormous costs associated with a data breach, failing to protect against today’s dynamic threat environment could prove disastrous, and the costs associated with doing so may not be as high as imagined.

So if you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a 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

Business needs help to act on cyber security advice

Businesses need help to act on all the information they receive about cyber security according to the London Digital Security Centre,

Businesses need help to act on all the information they receive about cyber security according to the London Digital Security Centre,

Small businesses need help in tackling cyber crime and embracing cyber security, not just information, according to John Unsworth, chief executive of the London Digital Security Centre (DSC).

“Information is good, but action is better,” he told the Whitehall Media Enterprise Cyber Security Conference in London. “There is a lot of information, but businesses want help in implementing it.”

The London DSC was set up as a not-for-profit organisation in 2015 by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime to help the city’s roughly one million small businesses protect themselves from cyber crime.

The centre is run as a joint venture between the Mayor of London, the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London Police to protect small businesses that are at the heart of the economy.

“The point of the centre is to help businesses act on the wealth of information that is out there to take control of their cyber security by implementing controls that make a difference,” said Unsworth.

“Part of our role is also to cut through the noise and show businesses that the things that will make a difference for the majority of small businesses cost little or nothing to implement.”

Many of the things small businesses can do to improve their cyber security only have a cost in time and effort, said Unsworth. “Cyber security is not always about buying a technical solution,” he added.

Investments in security technologies depend on the size of the business, the business operating model and what the business is trying to achieve, he said. “So for businesses that handle sensitive information, there is a cost because they need to ensure that data is protected and demonstrate that they have a good security posture.”

The role of the London DSC is to identify and prioritise business needs in terms of cyber security controls, said Unsworth.

 

Underlining the need to support small business in the face of cyber crime, Unsworth said that although more than 50% of crime reported to police is cyber enabled in some way, only 0.1% of policing resources across England and Wales are dedicated to the prevention and detection of cyber crime.

This is symptomatic of the fact that not everyone recognises that cyber crime is a big problem and it tends to be under-reported, he said. “What we need to start doing is creating a little bit of evidence noise about what the issues are, so we can get the right type of response to all of this.”

 

“What we have got to change and shift is this behaviour, so what we have done is to set about getting face-to-face with small businesses and talk to them one-to-one rather than relying on social media campaigns to get businesses to take cyber security more seriously.”

“When you start speaking to them in simple language, they soon realise that all cyber security is really about is understanding what you are using, what you are connected to, and if you have got the right controls in place,” said Unsworth.

Small businesses in denial over cyber security threats

According to Unsworth, many small businesses are in denial when it comes to cyber crime – they tend to think it will not happen to them because they don’t understand why they might be targeted.

“We want to help businesses avoid the regret of not doing something that could have prevented a cyber attack by helping them to embrace cyber security and putting in appropriate controls,” he said.

So if you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a 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

National Cyber Securty Centre’s 2017 Annual Review

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) celebrates its first anniversary of operations this week.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) celebrates its first anniversary of operations this week.

The Annual Review highlights the work it has done to make the UK the safest place to live and work online.

While there is still much work to be done, the NCSC’s first annual report says it has prevented thousands of cyber attacks since its inception.

The NCSC received 1,131 incident reports, with 590 classed as “significant”, according to the agency’s first annual review.

Those “significant attacks” ranged from attacks on key national institutions such as the National Health Service (NHS) and the UK and Scottish Parliaments, through to attacks on large and small businesses and other organisations, said Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the NCSC.

But, he said, so much of the NCSC’s work aims to make successful attacks less likely, and to that end the NCSC has so far produced more than 200,000 protective items for military communications; supported the Cabinet Office in developing more secure communications for key government organisations; and supported the Home Office in ensuring the security of new mobile communications for emergency services.

The NCSC, part of GCHQ, brought together elements of its parent organisation with previously separate parts of government and intelligence to create a single, one stop shop for UK cyber security, with the aim of making the UK the safest place to live and work online.

A crucial part of the NCSC’s role is to help everyone in the UK operate more securely online.

“Through a pioneering partnership with the private sector, tens of millions of suspicious communications in the UK are being blocked every month,” he said.

Martin highlighted the fact that the NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence programme has developed capabilities, which have seen the average lifetime for a phishing site hosted in the UK reduce from 27 hours to less than an hour.

He added that the NCSC’s information-sharing platform with industry, the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP), grew 43% over the year.

However, he said the NSCS still has much to do in the years ahead to “counter this strategic threat to our values, prosperity and way of life” in collaboration with GCHQ and the UK intelligence community, law enforcement, wider government, industry and the rest of the world.

Martin said cyber security is crucial to the UK’s national security and prosperity. “We’re incredibly proud of what we have achieved in our first year, bringing together some of the best cyber security brains in the country in a single place.

“But the threat remains very real and growing – further attacks will happen and there is much more for us to do. We look forward to working with our partners at home and abroad in the year ahead in pursuit of that vital goal,” he said.

According to the review, tens of millions of cyber attacks are being blocked every week by industry partners implementing NCSC’s Active Cyber Defence programme

The programme currently includes the NCSC’s protected domain name server (DNS) service built by Nominet to block bad stuff from being accessed from government systems; the use and support of the domain-based message authentication, reporting and conformance protocol (Dmarc) to block bad emails pretending to be from government; and a phishing and malware countermeasures service to protect the UK, including government brands.

Similarly, while the number of IP-addresses associated with phishing around the world is up 47% this year, the UK share of those has gone down from 5.1% to 3.3%.

 

Million new cyber phishing sites created each month

Cyber phishing attacks continue to increase in volume and sophistication, according to researchers at security firm Webroot.

Cyber phishing attacks continue to increase in volume and sophistication, according to researchers at security firm Webroot.
In May 2017, the number of new phishing sites reached a new high of 2.3 million in that month alone, according to the September 2017 Webroot Quarterly Threat Trends Report.

Data collected by Webroot shows that the latest phishing sites use realistic web pages that are almost impossible to find using web crawlers to trick victims into providing personal and business information.

Once this data is harvested, attackers are able to steal digital identities to access business IT systems to steal data and compromise business email accounts to carry out CEO fraud attacks.

The Webroot data also shows phishing attacks have grown at an unprecedented rate in 2017, with it continuing to be one of the most common, widespread security threats faced by both businesses and consumers.

According to the report, phishing is the top cause of cyber breaches in the world, with an average of more than 46,000 new phishing sites created each day.

The sheer volume of new sites makes phishing attacks difficult to defend against for businesses, the report said.

Even if the block lists are updated hourly, they are generally 3–5 days out of date by the time they are made available, the report said, by which time the sites in question may have already victimised users and disappeared.

Attacks are increasingly sophisticated and more adept at fooling the victim, the researchers found. The note that while in the past, phishing attacks randomly targeted as many people as possible,today’s phishing is more sophisticated.

Cyber attackers now typically research their targets and use social engineering to uncover relevant personal information for individualised attacks. Phishing sites also hide behind benign domains and obfuscate true uniform resource locators (URLs), fooling users with realistic impersonated websites.

The researchers found that zero-day websites used for phishing may number in the millions each month, yet they tend to impersonate a small number of companies. Webroot categorised URLs by the type of website being impersonated and found that financial institutions and technology companies are the most phished categories.

According to an FBI public service announcement issued on 4 May 2017, phishing scams cost US business $500m a year, while Verizon found phishing to be involved in 90% of breaches and security incidents and a report by ESG showed that 63% of surveyed security and network influencers and decision makers have suffered from phishing attacks in the past two years.

In the ESG report, 46% of respondents said malware attacks have become more targeted over the past two years, and 45% said there is a greater volume of malware than in the past two years.

“Today’s phishing attacks are incredibly sophisticated, with hackers obfuscating malicious URLs, using psychology and information gleaned from reconnaissance to get you to click on a link,” said Hal Lonas, chief technology officer at Webroot.

“Even savvy cyber security professionals can fall prey. Instead of blaming the victim, the industry needs to embrace a combination of user education and organisational protection with real-time intelligence to stay ahead of the ever-changing threat landscape,” he said.

So if you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a 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