LORCA identifies top priorities for cyber security innovation

The top priorities for cyber security innovation are identity management, patch management and configuration management.

The top priorities for cyber security innovation are identity management, patch management and configuration management.

“These are basic components of cyber security, but failure to do them well is still responsible for the bulk of cyber attacks that we are seeing.”said the new LORCA CEO  Hannigan

Identity is one area where the UK is particularly strong, with some great companies focused on it, he said, particularly in the academic “pre-company” sector, where universities are doing some “really innovative things” around identity management and authentication.

“Identity is key to cyber security, and if we can get a product out there that beats others, the sky is the limit, especially for the export market, and it will be about who gets there first with a viable solution,” he said.

Hannigan believes the internet of things (IoT) and cloud computing are two more areas where cyber security entrepreneurs should be focusing their efforts.

He said cloud computing is “problematic” because it makes it harder for companies to understand what the perimeters of their networks are.

“Even for those companies that have worked out what their cyber security policy is and managed the risks, suddenly to do all their processing and storage in the cloud complicates that,” said Hannigan. “It is not terminal, but it means they need to rethink their risks and mitigations.”

He advised organisations to look at the guidance on security in the cloud from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

IoT is ripe for innovation

The IoT is “ripe for innovation”, said Hannigan, because it is unlikely that regulation or government guidelines will address the immediate risks.

“It is going to be a long time before security by default is achieved, so in the meantime we need to find ways to mitigate potential disasters, with billions of devices connecting to the internet,” he said.

In terms of going to market, Hannigan advises cyber security entrepreneurs to spend some time considering things from the customer’s perspective.

“In the UK, companies are more likely to be conservative in their cyber security investments and stick with well-established suppliers than countries like the US and Israel, so startups need to take that into consideration,” he said.

Hannigan believes Lorca has a role to play here in helping startups to think through how their technology will integrate with existing IT environments, making it as easy as possible with minimal disruption.

Time and skills required by businesses

Although businesses do not necessarily need to spend a fortune on cyber security, it does require some time and sometimes skills that may be lacking in-house, said Hannigan.

“I do have sympathy for small businesses, but many are doing more than they used to in the past and are using things like Cyber Essentials and the small business guide because they are seeing how cyber attacks are affecting companies or because their insurance companies have told them to,” he said.

Hannigan believes there is a need for effective managed security services for small and medium-sized businesses. “A regular complaint I get is that managed security services suppliers are not really appropriate for small businesses and aren’t necessarily that effective, so there is a challenge there to the industry to come up with managed security services that really work and that don’t just dump the problem back onto the client, but actually do something about it,” he said.

LORCA to help drive UK cyber exports

LORCA – the new London cyber security innovation centre will help to boost exports of UK cyber security expertise.

LORCA - the new London cyber security innovation centre will help to boost exports of UK cyber security expertise.

A key part of the ambition for London’s £13.5m government-funded cyber innovation centre is that it will help drive UK exports, according to Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ.

“We hope that companies founded and given a boost and support in going to market will also go to market overseas,” he said at the official opening of the centre – to be known as the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (Lorca).

“The government’s ambition is very clearly to make the UK a leader in cyber security exports, and I see massive potential out there in countries around the world that need a variety of different solutions,” said Hannigan, who will lead Lorca’s industry advisory board.

“We know we have great talent, potential and possibilities, and bringing it all together was the challenge for government and what has led to this [cyber security innovation] centre,” he said.

The centre will play an important role in bringing together the many good innovators and incubators across the UK and provide a focal point for interacting with government, said Hannigan.

Lorca will also bring together cyber security innovators with academics in the field, with various industry sectors – starting with the cyber security-leading finance sector, with other technical and non-technical disciplines, and with international partners.

“This centre has links to the US, Israel and Singapore, and convening the three most prominent cyber security industry centres in the world is going to be very powerful in magnifying the value of this centre,” said Hannigan.

Commenting further on the potential for cyber security exports, Hannigan said there is a “massive market” out there because there are many economies that are some way behind the cyber security technology front-runners that are looking for solutions.

“There is massive potential, we have got some great companies, the UK has a good reputation and we should capitalise on that because if we put all that together and get it right, we will have a booming cyber security export industry,” he said.

“There is a lot of private sector capital looking to invest in cyber. So there is no shortage of capital, it is all about finding the right vehicle, and Lorca will help with that. But there is no reason why, in the future, there shouldn’t be more initiatives along the same lines.”

For this reason, Hannigan believes there is room for many more initiatives aimed at supporting cyber security entrepreneurs.

“There is no competition between incubators and accelerators within the UK – the more the merrier,” he said, explaining that each has something different to offer, with Lorca being more industry-focused with international links, for example, and the GCHQ accelerator and innovation centre in Cheltenham being more focused on national cyber security.

The government funding for Lorca will also promote its role as a convening body for other accelerators and incubators as a “useful way of amplifying the UK’s overall cyber security offering, particularly overseas, said Hannigan.

Fifth of businesses would pay ransoms rather than in security

One fifth of UK business executives from non-IT functions would pay hackers’ ransom demands to cut costs rather than invest in information security.

One fifth of UK business executives from non-IT functions would pay hackers’ ransom demands to cut costs rather than invest in information security.

According to the latest report commissioned by NTT Security they say that businesses are still making the same mistakes, failing to make any progress in crucial areas such as cyber security awareness and preparedness

The report shows that a further 30% in the UK are not sure whether they would pay or not, suggesting that only about half are prepared to invest in security to proactively protect the business.

This means many businesses are still stuck in a reactive mindset when it comes to cyber security.

The findings are particularly concerning, the report said, given the growth in ransomware, as identified in NTT Security’s Global Threat Intelligence Report (GTIR), published in April. According to the GTIR, ransomware attacks surged by 350% in 2017, accounting for 29% of all attacks in Europre, the Middle East and Africa and 7% of malware attacks worldwide.

Levels of confidence about being vulnerable to attack also seem unrealistic, according to the report, with 41% of respondents in the UK claiming that their organisation has not been affected by a data breach.

More realistically, 10% of UK respondents expect to suffer a breach, but nearly one-third (31%) do not expect to suffer a breach at all.

More worrying, the report said, is the 22% of UK respondents who are not sure whether they have suffered a breach or not.

Given that just 4% of respondents in the UK see poor information security as the single greatest risk to their business, this is unsurprising, the report said. Only 14% regard Brexit as the single greatest business risk; the list of concerns was topped by competitors taking market share (24%) and budget cuts (18%).

When considering the impact of a breach, UK respondents are most concerned about what a data breach will do to their image, with almost three-quarters (73%) concerned about loss of customer confidence and damage to reputation (69%), which are the highest figures among the countries polled.

The estimated loss in terms of revenue is 9.72% (compared with 10.29% globally, up from 9.95% in 2017). .

The report found there is no clear consensus on who is responsible for day-to-day security, with 19% of UK respondents saying the CIO is responsible, compared with 21% who said the CEO, 18% the CISO and 17% the IT director.

A key area of concern, according to the report, is whether there are regular boardroom discussions about security, with 84% of UK respondents agreeing that preventing a security attack should be a regular item on the board’s agenda. Yet only about half (53%) admit that it is and a quarter do not know.

With a lack of cohesion at the top, organisations are still struggling to secure their most important digital assets, the report said.

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Top cyber security criminals earn up to £1.5m a year study shows

Academic study reveals just how lucrative cyber security crime can be, with top level cyber criminals out earning government leaders.
Academic study reveals just how lucrative cyber security crime can be, with top level cyber criminals out earning government leaders.

Cyber security criminals are acquiring, laundering, spending and reinvesting about £1.1 trillion in profits a year, research has revealed.

The highest earning cyber criminals are making up to £1.5m a year, almost as much as a FTSE250 CEO, according to a study commissioned by Bromium.

Mid level cyber criminals make up to £639,000, which is more than double the US president’s salary, while entry level cyber criminals make about £30,000, which is significantly more than the average UK graduate, the research noted.

The findings on how much cyber criminals earn from their illegal activities and what they spend their profits on are part of an 11-month study into the macro economics of cyber crime and how the various elements link together. It has been led by Michael McGuire, senior lecturer in criminology at Surrey University.

The report highlights how cyber crime has become a booming economy, and reveals cyber criminal links to drug production, human trafficking and even terrorism.

The use of ransomware, crime-as-a-service, data theft, illicit online marketplaces and trade secret/IP theft are helping cyber criminals generate huge revenues with relative ease, the report said.

According to the research the cyber security industry, business and law enforcement agencies need to come together to disrupt cyber criminals and cut off their revenue streams. By focusing on new methods of cyber security that protect rather than detect, we believe we can make cyber crime a lot harder.

Data gathered by the research team through first-hand interviews with 100 convicted or currently engaged cyber criminals, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions, combined with dark web investigations, reveals that 15% of cyber criminals spend most of their money on immediate needs, such as paying bills.

One fifth of cyber criminals focus their spending on drugs and prostitution, 15% spend to attain status or impress, but 30% convert some of their revenue into investments. Some 20% spend at least some of their revenue on reinvestments in further criminal activities, such as buying IT equipment.

The proceeds of cyber crime fuel other crimes, such as terrorism and human trafficking, the report said, much like a legitimate business reinvests profits to expand while also contributing towards core philanthropic values.

The research showed that cyber criminals are reinvesting their money to grow their own business, but also to promote other types of crime. Terrorism, human trafficking, drugs manufacturing and firearms trading have all been beneficiaries of cyber crime.

A lot of cyber criminals spend their money on increasing their status, whether that be with peers or romantic interests.

One individual in the UK, who made around £1.2 million per year, spent huge amounts of money on a trip to Las Vegas, where he claimed to have gambled $40,000 and spent $6,000 hiring sports cars so that they could ‘arrive in style’ at casinos and hotels.

Another UK cyber criminal funnelled his proceeds into gold, drugs, expensive watches and spent £2,000 a week on prostitutes. It’s alarming how easily cyber criminals are able to spend their illicit gains. There is an ever-growing market that is almost tailor-made for cyber criminals to make these ostentatious purchases with little to no regulation or oversight.

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