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Application SecurityAttack Types & VectorsBotnetsSecurity

Are Connected Cows a Hacker’s Dream?

April 3, 2019 — by Mike O'Malley0

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Humans aren’t the only ones consumed with connected devices these days. Cows have joined our ranks.

Believe it or not, farmers are increasingly relying on IoT devices to keep their cattle connected. No, not so that they can moo-nitor (see what I did there?) Instagram, but to improve efficiency and productivity. For example, in the case of dairy farms, robots feed, milk and monitor cows’ health, collecting data along the way that help farmers adjust techniques and processes to increase milk production, and thereby profitability.

The implications are massive. As the Financial Times pointed out, “Creating a system where a cow’s birth, life, produce and death are not only controlled but entirely predictable could have a dramatic impact on the efficiency of the dairy industry.”

From Dairy Farm to Data Center

So, how do connected cows factor into cybersecurity? By the simple fact that the IoT devices tasked with milking, feeding and monitoring them are turning dairy farms into data centers – which has major security implications. Because let’s face it, farmers know cows, not cybersecurity.

Indeed, the data collected are stored in data centers and/or a cloud environment, which opens farmers up to potentially costly cyberattacks. Think about it: The average U.S. dairy farm is a $1 million operation, and the average cow produces $4,000 in revenue per year. That’s a lot at stake—roughly $19,000 per week, given the average dairy farm’s herd—if a farm is struck by a ransomware attack.

[You may also like: IoT Expands the Botnet Universe]

It would literally be better for an individual farm to pay a weekly $2,850 ransom to keep the IoT network up. And if hackers were sophisticated enough to launch an industry-wide attack, the dairy industry would be better off paying $46 million per week in ransom rather than lose revenue.

5G Cows

Admittedly, connected cows aren’t new; IoT devices have been assisting farmers for several years now. And it’s a booming business. Per the FT, “Investment in precision ‘agtech’ systems reached $3.2bn globally in 2016 (including $363m in farm management and sensor technology)…and is set to grow further as dairy farms become a test bed for the wider IoT strategy of big technology companies.”

[You may also like: Securing the Customer Experience for 5G and IoT]

But what is new is the rollout of 5G networks, which promise faster speeds, low latency and increased flexibility—seemingly ideal for managing IoT devices. But, as we’ve previously discussed, with new benefits come new risks. As network architectures evolve to support 5G, security vulnerabilities will abound if cybersecurity isn’t prioritized and integrated into a 5G deployment from the get-go.

In the new world of 5G, cyberattacks can become much more potent, as a single hacker can easily multiply into an army through botnet deployment. Indeed, 5G opens the door to a complex world of interconnected devices that hackers will be able to exploit via a single point of access in a cloud application to quickly expand an attack radius to other connected devices and applications. Just imagine the impact of a botnet deployment on the dairy industry.

[You may also like: IoT, 5G Networks and Cybersecurity: A New Atmosphere for Mobile Network Attacks]

I don’t know about you, but I like my milk and cheeses. Here’s to hoping dairy farmers turn to the experts to properly manage their security before the industry is hit with devastating cyberattacks.

2018 Mobile Carrier Ebook

Read “Creating a Secure Climate for your Customers” today.

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Mobile DataMobile Security

Here’s How Net Neutrality & Wearable Devices Can Impact 5G

March 28, 2019 — by Mike O'Malley1

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AT&T and Verizon are committed to an aggressive, multi-city roll out plan in a race to be the first carrier to implement national 5G deployment. We see this competition play out almost daily in the news: AT&T’s “5G E” is slower than Verizon 4G,  Verizon declares 5G war on AT&T, Verizon inks a deal with the NFL to bring 5G to stadiums, and so forth. And yet, despite this newsworthy competition between telecom giants, we still have a limited understanding of the benefits and risks of 5G.

There are the obvious benefits – faster service, for one – and risks, like insufficient security infrastructure. But what about other, less considered factors that can impact 5G (both positively and negatively), such as net neutrality and wearable devices? How do they play into the risks and rewards of this communications (r)evolution?

Net Neutrality

Currently, net neutrality in the U.S. is embroiled in partisan politics and it’s unclear whether these regulations will be reinstated. But operating under the current status, in which net neutrality rules are suspended, service providers stand to profit from 5G.

[You may also like: Here’s How Carriers Can Differentiate Their 5G Offerings]

As we’ve previously discussed, 5G allows for service providers to “slice” portions of a spectrum as a customizable service for specific types of devices and different customer segments—and without net neutrality, carriers can conceivably charge premium rates for higher quality of service. In other words, service providers could profit by charging select industries that require large bandwidth and low latency – like healthcare and manufacturing, for example – higher premiums.

This premium service/premium revenue model represents a significant ROI for carriers on their 5G infrastructure investment. Not only does slicing provide flexibility for multi-service deployment, it enables the realization of diverse applications on that physical resource, which helps recoup cost for the capital investment.

[You may also like: Don’t Be a “Dumb” Carrier]

However, because implementation will be patchy, with initial focus on high-density, urban areas (versus rural populations), the so-called digital divide may very well deepen, not just for consumers but for rural industries like healthcare and agriculture as well.

Wearable Devices

IoT devices have outpaced the human population for the first time in history. And 5G will undoubtedly  fan the flames of interest in wearable devices, due to its projected speed and availability of data.  

While these devices can certainly make life easier, and even potentially healthier (think about the ECG app on the Apple Watch!), they also carry enormous risk. Why? Because they’re hackable – and they contain a treasure trove of sensitive data, like your location, health stats, and more. And the risk doesn’t only impact the individual wearing an IoT device; enterprises are likewise at risk when their employees wear devices at work and transmit data over office WiFi.    

[You may also like: Securing the Customer Experience for 5G and IoT]

What’s Next?

With the ever-changing nature of internet regulations and the explosion of wearable devices, security must be top-of-mind for service providers. Not only is security advantageous to end users, but for the carriers as well; best-of-breed security opens the possibility for capturing new revenue streams.

No matter the complexity of securing 5G networks, there are solutions. For example, service providers should consider differentiated security mechanisms, offering security as a service to vertical industries, and segregating virtual network slices to safeguard their networks. And of course, let the (security) experts help the (carrier) experts.

2018 Mobile Carrier Ebook

Read “Creating a Secure Climate for your Customers” today.

Download Now

Mobile SecurityService Provider

Here’s How Carriers Can Differentiate Their 5G Offerings

February 28, 2019 — by Mike O'Malley0

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Much of the buzz surrounding this year’s Mobile World Congress has focused on “cool” tech innovations. There are self-driving cars, IoT-enhanced bee hives, smart textiles that monitor your health, realistic human chatbots, AI robots, and so forth. But, one piece of news that has flown relatively under the radar is the pending collaboration between carriers for 5G implementation.

A Team Effort

As Bloomberg reported, carriers from Vodafone Group Plc, Telecom Italia SpA and Telefonica SA are willing to call “a partial truce” to help each other build 5G infrastructure in an attempt “to avoid duplication and make scarce resources go further.”

Sounds great (who doesn’t love a solid team effort?!)…except for one thing: the pesky issue of competing for revenue streams in an industry fraught with financial challenges. As the Bloomberg article pointed out, “by creating more interdependent and overlapping networks, the risk is that each will find it harder to differentiate their offering.”

[You may also like: Securing the Customer Experience for 5G and IoT]

While this is certainly a valid concern, there is an obvious solution: If carriers are looking for differentiation in a collaborative environment, they need to leverage security as a competitive advantage.

Security as a Selling Point

As MWC19 is showing us in no uncertain terms, IoT devices—from diabetic smart socks to dairy milking monitors—are the way of the future. And they will largely be powered by 5G networks, beginning as early as this year.

Smart boot and sock monitor blood sugar, pulse rate, temperature and more for diabetics.

Which is all to say, although carriers are nervous about setting themselves apart while they work in partnership to build 5G infrastructure, there’s a huge opportunity to differentiate themselves by claiming ownership of IoT device security.

[You may also like: Don’t Be A “Dumb” Carrier]

As I recently wrote, IoT devices are especially vulnerable because of manufacturers’ priority to maintain low costs, rather than spending more on additional security features. If mobile service providers create a secure environment, they can establish a competitive advantage and reap financial rewards.

Indeed, best-of-breed security opens the possibility for capturing new revenue streams; mobile IoT businesses will pay an additional service premium for the peace of mind that their devices will be secure and can maintain 100% availability. And if a competing carrier suffers a data breach, for example, you can expect their customer attrition to become your win.

My words of advice: Collaborate. But do so while holding an ace—security—in your back pocket.

2018 Mobile Carrier Ebook

Read “Creating a Secure Climate for your Customers” today.

Download Now

HacksSecurity

How Hackable Is Your Dating App?

February 14, 2019 — by Mike O'Malley0

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If you’re looking to find a date in 2019, you’re in luck. Dozens of apps and sites exist for this sole purpose – Bumble, Tinder, OKCupid, Match, to name a few. Your next partner could be just a swipe away! But that’s not all; your personal data is likewise a swipe or click away from falling into the hands of cyber criminals (or other creeps).

Online dating, while certainly more popular and acceptable now than it was a decade ago, can be risky. There are top-of-mind risks—does s/he look like their photo? Could this person be a predator?—as well as less prominent (albeit equally important) concerns surrounding data privacy. What, if anything, do your dating apps and sites do to protect your personal data? How hackable are these apps, is there an API where 3rd parties (or hackers) can access your information, and what does that mean for your safety?

Privacy? What Privacy?

A cursory glance at popular dating apps’ privacy policies aren’t exactly comforting. For example, Tinder states, “you should not expect that your personal information, chats, or other communications will always remain secure.” Bumble isn’t much better (“We cannot guarantee the security of your personal data while it is being transmitted to our site and any transmission is at your own risk”) and neither is OKCupid (“As with all technology companies, although we take steps to secure your information, we do not promise, and you should not expect, that your personal information will always remain secure”).

Granted, these are just a few examples, but they paint a concerning picture. These apps and sites house massive amounts of sensitive data—names, locations, birth dates, email addresses, personal interests, and even health statuses—and don’t accept liability for security breaches.

If you’re thinking, “these types of hacks or lapses in privacy aren’t common, there’s no need to panic,” you’re sadly mistaken.

[You may also like: Are Your Applications Secure?]

Hacking Love

The fact is, dating sites and apps have a history of being hacked. In 2015, Ashley Madison, a site for “affairs and discreet married dating,” was notoriously hacked and nearly 37 million customers’ private data was published by hackers.

The following year, BeautifulPeople.com was hacked and the responsible cyber criminals sold the data of 1.1 million users, including personal habits, weight, height, eye color, job, education and more, online. Then there’s the AdultFriendFinder hack, Tinder profile scraping, Jack’d data exposure, and now the very shady practice of data brokers selling online data profiles by the millions.

In other words, between the apparent lack of protection and cyber criminals vying to get a hold of such personal data—whether to sell it for profit, publicly embarrass users, steal identities or build a profile on individuals for compromise—the opportunity and motivation to hack dating apps are high.

[You may also like: Here’s Why Foreign Intelligence Agencies Want Your Data]

Protect Yourself

Dating is hard enough as it is, without the threat of data breaches. So how can you best protect yourself?

First thing’s first: Before you sign up for an app, conduct your due diligence. Does your app use SSL-encrypted data transfers? Does it share your data with third parties? Does it authorize through Facebook (which lacks a certificate verification)? Does the company accept any liability to protect your data?

[You may also like: Ensuring Data Privacy in Public Clouds]

Once you’ve joined a dating app or site, beware of what personal information you share. Oversharing details (education level, job, social media handles, contact information, religion, hobbies, information about your kids, etc.), especially when combined with geo-matching, allows creepy would-be daters to build a playbook on how to target or blackmail you. And if that data is breached and sold or otherwise publicly released, your reputation and safety could be at risk.

Likewise, switch up your profile photos. Because so many apps are connected via Facebook, using the same picture across social platforms lets potential criminals connect the dots and identify you, even if you use an anonymous handle.

Finally, you should use a VPN and ensure your mobile device is up-to-date with security features so that you mitigate cyber risks while you’re swiping left or right.

It’s always better to be safe and secure than sorry.

Read “Radware’s 2018 Web Application Security Report” to learn more.

Download Now

Mobile SecurityService Provider

Don’t Be A “Dumb” Carrier

February 12, 2019 — by Mike O'Malley0

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By next year, it is estimated that there will be 20.4 billion IoT devices, with businesses accounting for roughly 7.6 billion of them. While these devices are the next wireless innovation to improve productivity in an ever-connected world, they also represent nearly 8 billion opportunities for breaches or attacks.

In fact, 97% of companies believe IoT devices could wreak havoc on their organizations, and with good reason. Security flaws can leave millions of devices vulnerable, creating pathways for cyber criminals to exfiltrate data—or worse. For example, a July 2018 report disclosed that nearly 500 million IoT devices were susceptible to cyberattacks at businesses worldwide because of a decade old web exploit.

A New Attack Environment

In other words, just because these devices are new and innovative doesn’t mean your security is, too. To further complicate matters, 5G networks will begin to roll out in 2020, creating a new atmosphere for mobile network attacks. Hackers will be able to exploit IoT devices and leverage the speed, low latency and high capacity of 5G networks to launch unprecedented volumes of sophisticated attacks, ranging from standard IoT attacks to burst attacks, and even smartphone infections and mobile operating system malware.

Scary stuff.

[You may also like: IoT, 5G Networks and Cybersecurity: A New Atmosphere for Mobile Network Attacks]

So, who is responsible for securing these billions of devices to ensure businesses and consumers alike are protected?  Well, right now, nobody. And there’s no clear agreement on what entity is—or should be—held accountable. According to Radware’s 2017-2018 Global Application & Network Security Report, 34% believe the device manufacturer is responsible, 11% believe service providers are, 21% think it falls to the private consumer, and 35% believe business organizations should be liable.

Ownership Is Opportunity

Indeed, no one group is raising its hand to claim ownership of IoT device security. But if service providers want to protect their networks and customers, they should jump at the chance to take the lead here. While service providers technically don’t own the emerging security issues, it is ultimately the operators who are best positioned to deal with and mitigate attack traffic. While many may view this as an operational cost, it is, in actuality, a business opportunity.

In fact, the Japanese government is so concerned about a large scale IoT attack disrupting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, they just passed a law empowering the government to intentionally identify and hack vulnerable IoT devices.  And who is the government asking to secure the list of devices they find vulnerable? Consumers? Businesses? Manufacturers?  No, No, and NO.  They are asking service providers to secure these devices from attacks.

[You may also like: IoT, 5G Networks and Cybersecurity: Safeguarding 5G Networks with Automation and AI]

Think about it: Every device connected to a network is another potential security weakness. And as we’ve written about previously, IoT devices are especially vulnerable because of manufacturers’ priority to maintain low costs, rather than spending more on additional security features. If mobile service providers create a secure environment that satisfies the protection of customer data and devices, they can establish a competitive advantage and reap financial rewards.

From Opportunity to Rewards

This translates to the potential for capturing new revenue streams. If your mobile network is more secure than your competitors’, it stands to reason that their customer attrition becomes your win. And mobile IoT businesses will pay an additional service premium for the knowledge that their IoT devices won’t be compromised and can maintain 100% availability.

[You may also like: The Rise of 5G Networks]

What’s more, service providers need to be mindful of history repeating itself. After providers lost the war with Apple and Google to control apps (and their associated revenue), they earned the unfortunate reputation of being “dumb pipes.” Conversely, Apple and Google were heralded for capturing all the value of the explosion of mobile data apps. Apple now sits with twice the valuation as AT&T and Verizon, COMBINED.  Now, as we are on the precipice of a similar explosion of IoT apps that enterprises will buy, the question again arises over whether service providers will just sell “dumb pipes” or whether they will get involved in the value chain.

A word to the wise: Don’t be a “dumb” carrier. Be smart.  Secure the customer experience and reap the benefits.

2018 Mobile Carrier Ebook

Read “Creating a Secure Climate for your Customers” today.

Download Now

Application SecurityMobile Security

Millennials “Swipe Right” On Fintech and Security

February 6, 2019 — by Mike O'Malley0

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Let me cut to the chase: The financial services industry is rapidly changing to satisfy its new best friend, millennials. There’s no getting around it; their sheer numbers necessitate attention. Millennials represent one in three Americans in the workforce, 25 percent of the global population (fun fact: there are more millennials in China than people in the United States!), and have $200 billion in buying power. They are the largest single generation in the workforce today.  And, most importantly for financial services, they are 43 percent of all mobile banking and finance usage.

Digital Trumps Traditional

Indeed, millennials don’t value traditional banking like previous generations. Born into a digitally-connected era, they heavily rely on the Internet and smartphones to conduct their business, including managing their finances. According to research from Gemalto, more than one in four (27%) millennials have never even visited a bank branch. Comparatively, 77 percent use online services every month and many consider mobile banking “essential,” with nearly 40 percent reporting that financial apps help them control their finances. This becomes critically important in maintaining trust.  Since they’ve never been to a branch, there are no people, no relationships to build loyalty.  All trust, loyalty and affinity for the brand comes 100% from experience on the web and via mobile apps. Any breach here, and trust is broken…forever.

[You may also like: Growing Your Business: Millennials and M-Commerce]

And, it’s worth noting, millennials want financial help. Millennials grew up during the global financial crisis, so managing debt responsibly and avoiding risk is very important to them.  A TD Bank survey designed to understand these young adults’ banking behaviors found that “while 59 percent of millennials reported that they are ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ knowledgeable about their day-to-day banking products like checking accounts, they still want advice on personal finance topics,” including savings, credit cards and creating a budget.

In other words, millennials value tools and advice that give them control over debt and credit alike—which helps explain their reliance on fintech over traditional banks for financial advice and things like debt consolidation loans. In fact, millennials are driving a surge in personal loans, 36 percent of which are from fintech lenders.

Opportunity…and Risk

All these statistics converge to make one key point: While there is  a huge opportunity for fintech providers to capture market share and growth, there is also sizable risk. Why? Because data security is top of mind for these so-called “digital natives.” They understand the liabilities of trusting organizations, like financial institutions, with their online data and expect that it will be well guarded 24/7 with no lapses.

[You may also like: Millennials and Cybersecurity: Understanding the Value of Personal Data]

If it isn’t? say goodbye to your millennial customer base; millennials are 2.5 times more likely to change banks than their older counterparts if they aren’t pleased. And one surefire way to keep them happy is with a secure mobile and/or online customer experience. After all, the number one tool millennials want is better mobile security for financial transactions.

Don’t risk losing the most connected, powerful consumer demographic because of lax security. The guaranteed fallout—customer attrition, reputation loss and more—simply isn’t worth the risk. Proactively securing a secure customer experience is paramount to maintaining a competitive advantage and capturing the trust of your most important customers.

2018 Mobile Carrier Ebook

Read “The Millennial View on Data Security” today.

Download Now

HacksSecurity

Here’s Why Foreign Intelligence Agencies Want Your Data

January 23, 2019 — by Mike O'Malley0

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The implications of the recent Marriott hack go far beyond those of your average data breach. This megabreach of 383M records doesn’t just compromise sensitive data for the sake of fraud or financial gain, it paints a frightening picture of international espionage and personal privacy.

When news broke that hackers working on behalf of a Chinese intelligence agency may be responsible for the Marriott breach, questions abounded. Why would China be interested in loyalty program data by the millions? And why hospitality data?

Could You Be A Target?

Let’s be frank: Foreign intelligence agency actors aren’t exactly interested in earning a free night’s stay at a Marriott property. The answer is potentially far more nefarious. The fact is, data collected from breaches are but one piece of a larger, darker puzzle. Stolen customer data—when combined with travel data (see Delta, Cathay Pacific, and British Airways hacks, among others) and other sources of online personal information (i.e., what we share across social media platforms)—enable intelligence agencies to build profiles on individuals. These profiles can then be leveraged to recruit potential informants, as well as check the travel of known government and intelligence officers against their own government to identify moles.

It’s also critical to note that heads of state and other political VIPs are no longer foreign intelligence agencies’ only marks; ordinary citizens are similarly targeted, especially those who may have unfettered access to troves of company Intellectual Property (IP) that a foreign government may want for their domestic economy.

[You may also like: Will Cyber Serenity Soon Be a Thing of the Past?]

For example, if you work for a cloud storage company whose customers’ data is in an area of interest to an intelligence agency, you may very well become an object of interest. For example, in the FBI’s most recent indictment against foreign intelligence services, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong were charged on acting on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security for stealing personal information and IP from companies in various industries including banking and finance, telecom, consumer electronics, healthcare, biotech, automotive, oil and gas, mining and the U.S. Navy.

The Hua/Shilong case is just the latest example of foreign intelligence agencies playing a game of chess while the U.S. is playing checkers. 2018 demonstrated this multiple times: In March, the Justice Department announced that Iranians had, through years-long cyberattacks, stolen intellectual property from over 300 U.S. universities and companies. In July, several Russian agents were indicted for election hacking and in September, North Korea was accused of trying to hurt the U.S. economy through a hack. And, of course, in December, the U.S. government accused China of the Marriott megabreach.  But 2018’s record isn’t unique; France was accused of stealing U.S. IP for French companies in 2014 by the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

In the case of Marriott and other large enterprises like it, CISOs and C-suite executives are focused on individual pieces of data lost, versus the sum of what that data can reveal about an individual as a whole, putting them (and us) at a significant disadvantage. Indeed, the entirety of the digital footprint we create, which can be used to impersonate us or to profile/create leverage on us, is greater than the sum of the individual data parts. Consumers likewise don’t typically consider the bigger picture their personal data paints, regarding their travel patterns, purchasing habits, hobbies, (not so) hidden secrets, social causes and more. Add in breach burnout, wherein the public has become desensitized to countless stories of data exposure, and a perfect storm for harvesting operatives and stealing IP emerges.

[You may also like: AI Considerations in Cyber Defence Automation]

Look at the Whole Picture

Until enterprises view data holistically and realize that any company with valuable IP could be the target of a foreign government on behalf of that company’s foreign competitors, they will continue to play into the hands of transnational threat actors at the expense of consumer safety and national security.

It is critical that organizations incorporate cybersecurity into every fabric of the business, from the C-level down, including training and education, as well as seeking expertise from security service companies who understand how to protect organizations from the capabilities of foreign intelligence groups. And that education must include an understanding how personal, government and business-related information can be used by foreign intelligence agencies, and how corporate IP may be of value to foreign competitors. Whether it’s a game of chess or an intricate puzzle, individuals must look beyond the breach at hand and grasp what’s around the corner.

Read “The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum” to learn more.

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Application SecurityMobile DataMobile SecuritySecurity

Growing Your Business: Millennials and M-Commerce

December 6, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley0

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Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force—a position they’ve held since 2016—and they’re involved in the majority (73%) of B2B purchasing decisions. Raised in the age of the Internet, they’re digital natives and easily adopt and adapt to new technologies. And mobile apps are their lifelines.

Why does this matter? Well, when you combine Millennials’ tech savviness with their business acumen, their clout in a digital economy comes into focus. As both decision-makers and connoisseurs of mobile technology, they can make or break you in a low-growth economy if your business model doesn’t square with their preferences.

In other words, if you’re not embracing mobile commerce, you may soon be ancient history. This generation has little-to-no use for brick-and-mortar storefronts, banks, etc., instead preferring to use apps for shopping, financial transactions and more.

Of course, making m-commerce a linchpin of your business model isn’t risk free; cybersecurity concerns are of critical importance. Increasingly, personal data protection is tied directly to consumer loyalty to a particular brand, and Millennials in particular care about how their data is used and safeguarded.

You Can’t Rush Greatness

While Millennials are renowned for an “I want it fast, and I want it now” attitude (which explains why 63% of them use their smartphone to shop every day, versus trekking to a store), the biggest mistake you can make is overlooking security in a rush to roll out a mobile strategy.

The fact is, vulnerabilities on m-commerce platforms can result in severe financial impacts; the average cost of a corporate data breach is $3.86 million. If a mobile app or mobile responsive e-commerce site is hit by an application attack, for example, short-term profit loss (which can escalate quickly) and longer-term reputation loss are serious risks. And as we move into 2019, there are several mobile security threats that we need to take seriously.

[You may also like: Are Your Applications Secure?]

Baking cybersecurity into your mobile strategy—as a core component, not an add-on—is, without question, necessary. The reason is manifold: For one thing, mobile devices (where your app primarily lives) are more susceptible to attacks. Secondly, mobile commerce websites are often implemented with a web application firewall to protect it.  Thirdly, Millennials’ reliance on m-commerce, both as B2B and B2C consumers, means you stand to lose significant business if your app or website go “down.” And finally, Millennials are security conscious.

Securing the Secure Customer Experience

So how can you help ensure your m-commerce platform, and thereby your Millennial customer base, is secure? A number of ways:

  • Guard your app’s code from the get-go. Test the code for vulnerabilities, ensure it’s easy to patch, and protect it with encryption.
  • Consider a Web Application Firewall (WAF) to secure your APIs and your website.
  • Run real-time threat analytics.
  • Be mindful of how customer data is stored and secured. (Don’t pull an Uber and store data unencrypted!)
  • Patch often. Because security threats evolve constantly, so must your security patches! Just ask Equifax about the importance of patching…

[You may also like: Growing Your Business: Security as an Expectation]

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of proactive security measures you can take, but it’s a good start. As I’ve said time and time again, in an increasingly insecure world where security and availability are the cornerstones of the digital consumer, cybersecurity should never be placed on the back burner of company priorities. Don’t wait for an attack to up your security game. At that point, trust is broken with your Millennial customer base and your business is in trouble. Be proactive. Always.

Read “Radware’s 2018 Web Application Security Report” to learn more.

Download Now

ComplianceSecurity

Marriott: The Case for Cybersecurity Due Diligence During M&A

December 4, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley0

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If ever there was a perfectly packaged case study on data breaches, it’s Marriott’s recently disclosed megabreach. Last week, the hotel chain announced that its Starwood guest reservation system was hacked in 2014—two years before Marriott purchased Starwood properties, which include the St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton and W Hotels—potentially exposing the personal information of 500 million guests.

The consequences were almost immediate; on the day it announced the breach, Marriott’s stocks were down 5% in early trading and two lawsuits seeking class-action status (one for $12.5 billion in damages) were filed. And the U.S. Senate started to discuss stiffer fines and regulations for security breaches. So far, this is all par for the course.

But what makes Marriott’s breach particularly noteworthy is the obvious lack of cybersecurity due diligence conducted during the M&A process.

Never Ever Skip a Step

In September 2016, Marriott International announced that it had completed the acquisition of Starwood Resorts & Hotels Worldwide, creating the largest hotel company in the world. In its press release, Marriott specifically touted the best-in-class loyalty program that the two brands, combined, could now offer members.

What Marriott International executives didn’t realize was that hackers had gained unauthorized access to Starwood’s loyalty program since 2014, exposing guests’ private information including names, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, credit card numbers and more.

However, if Marriott had done its homework, it might have avoided the mountain of legal fees and compliance fines it now faces. In today’s digital age, cybersecurity due diligence during any M&A process is, without question, imperative.

[You may also like: The Million-Dollar Question of Cyber-Risk: Invest Now or Pay Later?]

And it’s not just security evangelists like myself who emphasize this. The American Bar Association likewise asserts that “it is critical to understand the nature and significance of a target’s vulnerabilities, the potential scope of the damage that may occur (or that already has occurred) in the event of a breach, and the extent and effectiveness of the cyber defenses the target business has put in place to protect itself. An appropriate evaluation of these issues could, quite literally, have a major impact on the value the acquirer places on the target company and on the way it structures the deal.”

The cost of cyberattacks is simply too great to not succeed in mitigating every threat, every time. A successful cyberattack and resulting data breach obliterates trust and destroys brands.

The Only Way Forward

When one company acquires another, it doesn’t just acquire assets. It also assumes the target company’s risks. Put simply, their gaps become your gaps.

In addition, lack of cybersecurity due diligence can actually undermine the value drivers of the deal.  In Marriotts’ case, a big driver was retention of the Starwood high value travelers: the people who make up the loyalty program. Due the pain these customers will now endure—changing credit card numbers, passports, etc.—this value driver has been irrevocably damaged.

It is critical that organizations incorporate cybersecurity into every fabric of the business, from the C-level to IT. Securing digital assets can no longer by delegated solely to the IT department; it must be infused into product and service offerings, security, and perhaps most importantly, development plans and business initiatives. In the case of Marriott, its $13 billion acquisition of Starwood represented a strategic initiative that involved the board of directors, C-level executives and management—all of whom are now partially responsible for the erosion of Marriott’s brand affinity.

[You may also like: Why Cyber-Security Is Critical to The Loyalty of Your Most Valued Customers]

And as we’ve written before, when it comes to loyalty programs, security must transition from the domain of reactive disaster recovery and business continuity into the realm of proactive protection. If loyalty programs are designed to focus on your most valuable customers, why wouldn’t its security fall in line with the other mission-critical assets and infrastructure responsible for servicing these very clients?

Marriott’s Starwood breach is an unfortunate case study for why CEO and executive teams must lead the way in setting the tone when it comes to securing the customer experience. When cybersecurity is overlooked or treated as an afterthought, the potential damage goes far beyond dollars and cents. Your very reputation is at stake.

Read the “2018 C-Suite Perspectives: Trends in the Cyberattack Landscape, Security Threats and Business Impacts” to learn more.

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Attack MitigationHacksSecurity

Growing Your Business: Security as an Expectation

November 7, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley2

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Who is responsible for my device and application security? This is a critical question in today’s growing threat landscape, and one without a clear answer. Despite increases in demands for mobile app and connected device security features, no key players—device manufacturers, consumers, mobile carriers or organizations that consumers do business with via devices—will take responsibility.

While this is certainly problematic, it also represents an opportunity to differentiate your business from competitors by baking security into your platform. Over 70% of C-suite executives report being greatly concerned about data privacy and 66% admit that their network is vulnerable to hacking. In light of this, security must be recognized and acknowledged beyond an add-on or premium feature; it must be treated as an integral feature for any business owner.

The True Cost of Data Insecurity

When security is included as a core component of a business, it strengthens customers’ perceptions of your company. In fact, security itself can be a key selling point that sways customers from competitors. Startups that especially integrate security as part of its foundational architecture have a competitive advantage over companies of all sizes that gloss over security or utilize it as an unsupported, unplanned add-on.

[You may also like: The Million-Dollar Question of Cyber-Risk: Invest Now or Pay Later?]

Indeed, security as an afterthought is a major, and potentially fatal, flaw during a company’s decision-making process. The average cost of a data breach is $3.9 million – an amount enough to put myriad companies in bankruptcy. But costs can be even higher. For example, Yahoo agreed to a settlement of $50 million following its 2013 data breach and had to pay an additional $37.5 million for attorney fees and expenses.  And it didn’t end there; the original $4.83 billion deal to sell Yahoo’s digital services to Verizon was also discounted by $350 million as an added penalty for decreased brand value and to amend for other potential related costs. The true cost of a data breach? Far more than the current visible numbers.

Potential Growth Areas

Instead of approaching security as an extra, optional cost, business owners would do well to view security as a core capability for revenue; the growth potential for security as an integrated core strategy is enormous. Need proof? Just look at the numerous security vulnerabilities that accompany the constant onslaught of innovative hacking threats. Commonplace attacks, like IoT botnets, mobile APIs and malware, show no evidence of going away anytime soon and companies that are prone to system vulnerabilities are at risk. Even threats from a decade ago, such as Trojan malwares, and exploitation of vulnerabilities are still utilized as attacks, either in their original form or through modifications like malware botnet Mirai.

[You may also like: Defending Against the Mirai Botnet]

This is why companies shouldn’t wait for the “perfect” security product; delaying an investment in security only increases a company’s risk factor for being attacked and potentially dooms one to a constant game of catch up—and enormous costs. Conversely, by adding new applications within a secure business framework from the start, businesses can ensure optimal protection without any extreme added costs.

The sooner a business incorporates security as a core piece of the business puzzle, the better they’ll be at protecting and mitigating threats, and capturing new revenue opportunities. 

Don’t let data seep through the cracks. Secure the customer experience now.

Read the “2018 C-Suite Perspectives: Trends in the Cyberattack Landscape, Security Threats and Business Impacts” to learn more.

Download Now