Increasing value of personal data a 21st century challenge

The increasing value of personal data presents the challenge of managing a personal data economy

 

 The increasing value of personal data presents the challenge of managing a personal data economy

 

 

At the start of the millennium, the value of online services was equated with the number of registered users, but that changed after the dot-com bubble burst, according to Jon Shamah, chairman of EEMA, the European association for e-identity and security.

Jon felt that since 2010, that understanding has evolved, and increasingly the true value has been recognised as data about those registered users. He told the EEMA ISSE 2018 cyber security conference in Brussels.

He want on to say that the reality was that personal data had value for the service providers, but people were blindly throwing information at these companies in exchange for services.

This approach has changed in recent times, he said, particularly after the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal that highlighted the potential for personal data to be misused.

People are finally waking up to the value of the information they have so willingly given in the past and their eyes have started to open. The evolution of data analysis tools, including the incorporation of artificial intelligence, he said, means that data collected in the past is becoming useful in new ways and therefore even more valuable.

John mentioned that it also means that service providers are able to analyse users’ online activities, largely without users’ knowledge or consent, and use that to tailor advertising on web pages, creating new and direct revenue streams. Something had to be done, and if it has achieved nothing else, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation has focused people’s minds and got company executives and board members to take this issue seriously because now they have to be accountable and declare breaches.

This means data protection in Europe, said Shamah, is no longer just the concern of technical teams in organisations, but also chief executives and shareholders.

In the light of the recent revelations about the misuse of data, everyone needs to consider what kind of digital footprint they want to leave; a permanent one like those left by the first astronauts on the surface of the moon or temporary like those left in the sand on a beach.

The aim, he said, should be for digital footprints that last only for as long as they are needed and then erased without a trace. In addition to being disposed of properly, personal data also has to be geographically safe because there are a lot of concerns about where data is stored and keeping it in home jurisdictions, and we need the trustees to be accountable and responsible.”

The issue going forward, said Shamah, is how well people and society will be able to adapt to the new reality that there are no free services without giving up personal data.

Perhaps the company will be able to control their own data through the application of things like self-sovereign identity, but ultimately the challenge is attaining a mixed and balanced personal data economy.

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DNS attacks cost finance firms millions of pounds a year

Average cost of recovering from a single DNS attack is $924,390 for a large financial services company, survey shows

 Average cost of recovering from a single DNS attack is $924,390 for a large financial services company, survey shows

 

The costs of restoring services after a DNS (Domain Name System) attack are higher for financial services firms than for companies in any other sector.

According to a survey of 1,000 large financial services firms in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, the average cost of recovering from a single DNS attack is $924,390 for a large financial services company.

The survey, carried out by network automation and security supplier EfficientIP, and its subsequent 2018 Global DNS threat report found that the average cost of recovery for such finance firms had increased by 57% compared with last year.

It also revealed that financial services firms suffered an average of seven attacks each last year, and 19% of them were attacked more than 10 times.

The survey found that finance firms took an average of seven hours to mitigate a DNS attack and 5% of them spent a total of 41 working days mitigating attacks in 2017. More than a quarter (26%) lost business because of the attacks.

The most common problems caused by DNS attacks are cloud service downtime, compromised websites and internal application downtime.

David Williamson, CEO at EfficientIP feels that the DNS threat landscape is continually evolving, impacting the financial sector in particular. This is because many financial organisations rely on security solutions that fail to combat specific DNS threats.

Financial services increasingly operate online and rely on internet availability and the capacity to securely communicate information in real time. Therefore, network service continuity and security is a business imperative and a necessity.

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority voices concerns about weaknesses in banks’ IT systems.

There was a 48% rise in the amount of money stolen from UK online banks in 2014, as criminals pilfered more than £60m. But IT security teams at large finance firms have to balance their resources in the face of increasing cyber threats. A survey commissioned by VMWare earlier this year showed that 90% of IT security professionals in financial services have to make compromises that could leave other areas of their organisation exposed to cyber threats, and half admitted doing this regularly.

Types of DNS attack include:

  1. Zero day attack – the attacker exploits a previously unknown vulnerability in the DNS protocol stack or DNS server software.
  2. Cache poisoning – the attacker corrupts a DSN server by replacing a legitimate IP address in the server’s cache with that of another, rogue address in order to redirect traffic to a malicious website, collect information or initiate another attack. Cache poisoning may also be referred to as DNS poisoning.
  3. Denial of service – an attack in which a malicious bot sends more traffic to a targeted IP address than the programmers who planned its data buffers anticipated someone might send. The target becomes unable to resolve legitimate requests.
    Distributed denial of service – the attacker uses a botnet to generate huge amounts of resolution requests to a targeted IP address.
  4. DNS amplification – the attacker takes advantage of a DNS server that permits recursive lookups and uses recursion to spread the attack to other DNS servers.
    Fast-flux DNS – the attacker swaps DNS records in and out with extreme frequency in order redirect DNS requests and avoid detection.

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O2 crash proves that humans are the weakest link in cyber security

The O2 mobile network failure that took out data access for some 30 million people recently was caused by an expired software certificate.

The O2 mobile network failure that took out data access for some 30 million people recently was caused by an expired software certificate

No programming error, no undiscovered bug, no malicious interference, but one of the most basic systems administration mistakes you can imagine. Someone somewhere just forgot to renew a certificate.

As a wise voice once said, there’s no patch for stupidity. And herein lies the great unspoken conundrum at the heart of the digital revolution.

Computers go wrong.

Why? Because they’re designed, manufactured, programmed, configured, secured and operated by the most fallible, unpredictable and unreliable resource in the technology world – people.

Of course, it’s those same people who every day ensure that the IT systems supporting every company and government in the world work mostly as intended, who keep the internet running and protect the vast majority of our personal data.

That’s because people are pretty good at computers these days. But we’ll never be perfect.

The job of running IT systems is becoming increasingly abstracted from the technology – virtualisation, cloud, containers, serverless, orchestration, all these trends aim to remove that human fallibility from everyday tasks. Not forgetting that it still takes another human somewhere to make those technologies work in the first place.

Much as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are replacing or augmenting corporate jobs, so the IT department will see further dramatic change as more of its responsibilities are taken over by software robots. Of course, those software robots were created and programmed by humans too.

And they aren’t exactly perfect – as the Amazon workers in a New Jersey warehouse found out this week, when a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent, sending 24 staff to hospital.

There is, correctly, much debate about ethics in AI and technology, not least the need to prevent human bias from becoming too infused in the algorithms they rely on.

People outside IT are taking more of an interest in the workings of IT than ever before. It’s fair to assume those non-IT types are pretty fallible too.

The outage was a small reminder of how reliant most of us have become on technology.

When O2 went down, there was much humour taken from the sight of people trying to consult paper maps to find their way around, and attempted insights from those who found a whole new world beyond the smartphone they’d been glued to until then.

For all the great advances of recent decades, it’s going to be a long time before we no longer see headlines screaming “computer crash”. Whether through malice or simple error, human fallibility is a part of our digital future too.

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GCHQ warns of cyber security scams on Black Friday

GCHQ has issued an warning of cyber security scams on Black Friday.

GCHQ has issued an warning of cyber security scams on Black Friday.

Black Friday sales could be targeted as easy pickings for cyber-crime, according to Cheltenham-based GCHQ.

The National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, is advising shoppers of the risk of online threats. It is the first such official cyber security warning in the run up to Christmas.

GCHQ wants to start a “national cyber-chat” today (Black Friday), when billions are spent online. Known for working in secret, the agency wants to be open and engage with the public over the seriousness of the threat.

The National Cyber Security Centre has tackled more than 550 significant cyber incidents over the past year, and has taken down almost 140,000 “phishing” websites.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is giving tips for shoppers to avoid cyber-crime – and for the first time it will be publishing answers to questions from the public on Twitter.

The agency recently warned of a serious and sustained threat from elite hackers in other countries, which could include the theft of millions from retailers and attacks on the financial networks the shops depend on.

The British Retail Consortium is backing the calls for better cyber security during the Christmas shopping season, and retailers continue to invest heavily in protecting themselves against cyber-threats.

The National Cyber Security Centre’s advice to reduce the risk of cyber crime is:

  • Install the latest software and app updates
  • Type in a shop’s website address rather than clicking on links in emails
  • Choose strong and separate passwords for accounts
  • Keep an eye on bank accounts for unrecognised payments
  • Avoid over-sharing unnecessary information with shops, even if they ask
  • Make sure all your home gadgets are secure

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UK business in the dark on impact of cyber security attacks

UK businesses so not understand the resilience required to withstand cyber security threats, a study shows.

UK business in the dark on impact of cyber security attacks

While 99% of UK business leaders believe that making technology resilient to business disruptions is important, only 54% claim their organisation is as resilient as it needs to be, a study has revealed.

In recent years, the security industry has increasingly recognised the importance of focusing on resilience to ensure that when defences are breached, organisations are able to reduce the impact on the business.

A fifth of more than 1,000 UK business decision makers polled by security firm Tanium admitted they would not be able to calculate indirect costs from lost revenue and productivity following a cyber attack.

The Tanium resilience gap study also found that there are more barriers to achieving the resilience that 97% of respondents believe to be important, with 38% of respondents blaming their organisation’s growing complexity as one of the biggest barriers to building business resilience, while 21% blame siloed business units.

Asked about their team and tools, 35% of respondent said the issue lies with the hackers being more sophisticated than IT teams, 21% claim that they do not have the skills needed within the company to detect cyber breaches accurately in real time, and 27% said poor visibility of entry points is a barrier to resilience.

Business resilience is fundamental to any strategy for long-term growth, yet the findings suggest that many UK businesses still have a long way to go.

The study also revealed gaps in accountability and trust across organisations.

One of the main reasons organisations are unable to achieve business resilience against disruptions such as cyber threats is due to growing confusion internally on where the responsibility for resilience lies.

More than a quarter (28%) believe it should be the responsibility of the CIO or head of IT, the same proportion said every employee should be responsible, while 13% said full responsibility lies with the CEO alone. One in 10 (11%) believe it falls to senior leadership.

Businesses are becoming entirely dependent on their technology platforms. But if that technology stops running, the business will too, with potentially serious consequences for sales, customer confidence, and brand equity, not to mention productivity.

To deliver resilience, a new discipline needs to be instilled across governments and enterprise organisations. This discipline is more than prevention. It’s more than recovery. It’s a shared practice that should unite IT, operations and security teams to ensure strong security fundamentals are embedded across the entire company network. Only then can organisations act and react in real time to threats.

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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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Investors target Board Directors for cyber security incidents PT2

Investors are growing concerned that directors are ill prepared for cyber security incidents and technological challenges.

Investors target Board Directors for cyber security incidents

An investor “We want the board to be tech savvy, but we wouldn’t just want it to be a tech board. Our fear is they appoint a tech expert but then no one else on the board is engaged. We want to understand the extent to which all the board is competent.”

Earlier this week, British Airways was forced to vow to compensate passengers after it revealed hackers had stolen data relating to about 380,000 customers from its website and mobile app during a two-week period in August. The data included personal and financial details.

Companies ranging from Equifax to JPMorgan Chase have all suffered data breaches in recent years. Meanwhile, large multinationals from Moller-Maersk to Reckitt Benckinser and FedEx were all forced to warn shareholders that the NotPetya cyber attack in 2017 had hurt profits, potentially costing each company hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ovidiu Patrascu, research analyst at Schroders, says it is crucial that companies have well-resourced cyber security teams that should ideally report directly to the highest levels of the organisation.

“As seen in a number of recent high-profile public failures, data breaches often uncover poor governance practices and weak management at the heart of companies, while also hitting their revenues and intangible assets such as reputation and trust,” he says.

“Cyber risk should also not just be the preserve of tech specialists — company boards also need to ensure they understand and can effectively oversee these very particular risks,” he adds.

A 2017 study by the Ponemon Institute, a research centre, found that there had been a 22.7 per cent rise in the cost of cyber security for businesses in just one year. It also found a 27.4 per cent rise in the number of data breaches at businesses, based on 2,182 interviews from 254 companies in seven countries — Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.

A follow-up study in 2018 found that the average cost of a data breach globally is $3.86m, a 6.4 per cent increase from the 2017 report. It also warned that so-called “mega breaches”, ranging from 1m to 50m records lost, could cost companies between $40m and $350m to deal with.

For many investors, the fact that a huge technology company such as Facebook could suffer a data breach has hit home how vulnerable smaller or less tech-savvy businesses could be. In July, Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office hit Facebook with its first financial penalty over the data leak to Cambridge Analytica, accusing the social network of breaking the law.

A big investor at a large asset manager says that he wants boards to be able to explain where their key vulnerabilities are and whether they have stress tested the financial impact of tech issues. “We think every board member should be able to speak about this issue. They need to know where they are vulnerable, what the impact could be and how the board would respond,” he adds.

Mr Krefting says he wants the businesses M&G invests in to clearly outline in their reports and accounts what risks they face when it comes to technology and cyber security. “When we talk to companies about this, they often clam up — either because the CEO or chair doesn’t know about it or it is delegated to the chief information officer or someone below the board, or they say this is too sensitive.”

But he adds: “We want policies on governance and structures and how they are approaching cyber. We don’t necessarily need to know how many times they were faced with attempted hacks last week, but we want to see processes and that they are doing testing and that the right controls are in place.”

This article was first published by the Financial Times at https://www.ft.com/content/c70caa94-2d88-3ece-b802-79e9bac2f32c.

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Investors target Board Directors for cyber security incidents

Investors are growing concerned that directors are ill prepared for cyber security incidents and technological challenges.

Investors are growing concerned that directors are ill prepared for cyber security incidents and technological challenges.

Facebook has been hit with a fine, a slowdown in user growth and a fall in its share price since news of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal broke in March.

In the months since, the social media company’s handling of the scandal — where data was improperly obtained from up to 87m users — has been heavily scrutinised by regulators, politicians and users.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandburg last week testified before Congress, facing hours of questioning from the Senate Intelligence Committee. She said the company was “strengthening our defences” against targeted hacking and data collection.

It is also being closely watched by corporate governance specialists at big asset managers who are increasingly concerned that senior management and board directors at listed businesses across the world are ill-prepared for potential data breaches and other technology problems.

“We see cyber security as a key emerging risk,” says Rupert Krefting, head of corporate finance and stewardship at M&G Prudential, which oversees £342 billion in assets. “It is hard for us to judge if management and board directors at listed businesses really do know the technology risks because they are not prepared to talk about it.”

Now a growing number of investors are demanding that directors ensure they are well versed in the technology issues their companies could face.

number cyber data breaches by company type

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Leon Kamhi, head of responsibility at Hermes Investment Management, says the asset manager is engaging “heavily” on the issue. “Cyber security risk is a big issue,” he says. “IT skills on boards can be really important in order to challenge what a head of IT is doing at the inside. Boards need to be on top of it.”

“We want the board to be tech savvy, but we wouldn’t just want it to be a tech board. Our fear is they appoint a tech expert but then no one else on the board is engaged. We want to understand the extent to which all the board is competent.”

The introduction of stringent European data protection rules earlier this year has also prompted investors to ask tough questions about how well companies are coping with technological changes. The General Data Protection Regulation, which came into effect in the EU in May, has reshaped how companies can collect, use and store personal information. Companies face fines of up to 4 per cent of global turnover or €20m, whichever is greater, if they fall foul of GDPR.

Mr Kamhi says that if companies do not step up on cyber security issues there is a risk they will be hit with even more legislation.

Many investors believe the potential issues companies could face linked to technology are far reaching. As well as being “disrupted” — meaning technological solutions could be developed that upend their business model — companies that hold consumer information are at risk of data breaches. There are also concerns about hacks or cyber attacks which could damage business brands and cost businesses millions of dollars.

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Cathay Pacific under fire over breach affecting 9.4 million passengers

Hong Kong-based airline reveals massive data breach of the most sensitive personal data of passengers five months after loss was confirmed

Hong Kong-based airline reveals massive data breach of the most sensitive personal data of passengers five months after loss was confirmed

Cathay Pacific is coming under fire for taking months to report a breach of the most sensitive data affecting 9.4 million passengers, including some from its Hong Kong Dragon Airlines division.

Suspicious activity on the airline’s IT systems was discovered in March 2018 and the “unauthorised access” of personal data was confirmed in May, but Cathay Pacific has kept quiet about it until now.

Brian Vecci, technical evangelist at Varonis, said that as insiders and external actors get more sophisticated, organisations must be able to do a better job of detecting suspicious activity quickly and reducing the time it takes to investigate an incident.

Months went by between when this attack was apparently noticed and when investigators figured out sensitive data might have been stolen, and then almost half a year passed before it was announced, That is unacceptable and highlights just how far behind the eight ball most organisations are when it comes to threat hunting and incident response.

The data breach includes 860,000 passport numbers, about 245,000 Hong Kong identity card numbers, 403 expired credit card numbers and 27 credit card numbers with no card verification value (CVV) that were accessed, although the airline claims no passwords were compromised.

Breached data also includes passenger names, nationalities, dates of birth, telephone numbers, email and physical addresses, passport numbers, identity card numbers and historical travel information – all extremely valuable to cyber criminals for identity theft, phishing and fraud.

The chief executive Ruper Hogg explained how very sorry the company are for any concern this data security event may cause our passengers.

The company acted immediately to contain the event, commence a thorough investigation with the assistance of a leading cyber security firm and to further strengthen our IT security measures.

It is not known whether any EU nationals are among the passengers affected, but the airline could face a stiff fine under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has been in full force since May and requires notification of personal data breaches within 72 hours.

However, in April, the privacy commissioner for personal data in Hong Kong, Stephen Kai-yi Wong, made it clear that Hong Kong-based businesses like Cathay must comply with the GDPR.

Stephen felt that as the EU is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner, the new GDPR’s extra-territorial effect suggests that as long as Hong Kong businesses collect and process personal data of EU individuals, they should be prepared to comply with the GDPR’s requirements.

Steve Malone, director of security product management at Mimecast, said it is likely that EU citizens were included in a breach of this size and GDPR questions will be asked.

Malone went on to say that once personal information is compromised, cyber criminals can implement highly targeted spear phishing and social engineering attacks, often via impersonation emails against friends or business contacts. These impersonation attacks are now the easiest way for criminals to steal money and valuable data.

Cyber security commentators said the airline industry is a rich source of personal data for cyber criminals and should ensure that extra care is taken in keeping that data safe.

Although several airlines have been targeted in recent months, including British Airways, Delta Airlines and Air Canada, the Cathay Pacific breach stands out because of the number of passengers affected and the combination of extremely sensitive data involved.

Ted McKendall, CTO of Trusted, said the breach makes BA’s breach in September of data belonging to 380,000 passengers look “trivial” by comparison.

What is staggering here is the sheer volume of passengers involved, the nature of the data that has been accessed, and how long it took the airline to alert customers.

There are no details of how the breach was executed yet, but Kendall felt that he can only assume that the extreme delay between identifying the breach and notifying customers is because the airline was trying to patch its systems first.

Although Cathay Pacific has been quick to assure customers that only a small amount of financial information has been leaked, McKendall said the data that has been leaked is more than unsettling.

McKendall stated that the passport information of passengers on the dark web will have an extremely high price tag. Much of this information – names, dates of birth, email and physical addresses – could be used to conduct further attacks against passengers’ other accounts, as these details are often enough to bypass security.

However, sadly that is not the worst of it. All those seriously affected will have to be on the lookout for identity fraud, and this shows just how serious cyber crime has become. Cathay Pacific inherently trust a multitude of companies with their details, but they cannot get them back once they are taken.

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Cyber security criminals outspend businesses in security battles

Cyber security criminals are spending 10 times more money finding weaknesses in the cyber defences of organisations than the organisations they target are spending on protecting against attack.

Cyber security criminals are spending 10 times more money finding weaknesses in the cyber defences of organisations than the organisations they target are spending on protecting against attack.

Research from Carbon Black carried out in August also asked 250 UK-based CIOs, CTOs and CISOs about the attacks they faced over the past 12 months.

In total, 92% of UK businesses have had cyber security breaches in the past year and nearly half off those reported falling victim to multiple breaches (three to five times in the past year).

A total of 82% of respondents said they have experienced more attacks this year than last year. In the financial services sector, 89% said this is the case, while 83% of government organisations and 84% of retailers had also experienced an increase in the number of attacks.

Malware was the most common attack on the UK organisations surveyed, with about 28% experiencing at least one such attempted breach. Ransomware was the next most common, with 17.4% reporting at least one attack.

“Following a global trend, cyber attacks in the UK are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated, as nation state actors and crime syndicates continue to leverage fileless attacks, lateral movement, island hopping and counter incident response in an effort to remain undetected,” said the report. “This issue is compounded by resources and budgeting. Not only is there a major talent deficit in cyber security, there is also a major spending delta.”

The report found that IT leaders believe Russia and China to be the source of the vast majority of cyber attacks, but it identified North America as the starting point for more attacks than Iran and North Korea combined.

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