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Application SecurityCloud SecurityDDoS AttacksSecurityWAF

Protecting Sensitive Data: The Death of an SMB

September 26, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley1

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True or False?

90% of small businesses lack any type of data protection for their company and customer information.

The answer?

Unfortunately true.

Due to this lack of care, 61% of data breach victims are specifically small businesses according to service provider Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations.

Although large corporations garner the most attention in mainstream headlines, small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) are increasingly attractive to hackers because of the combination of valuable records and lack of security protections. The high priority of sensitive data protection should not be limited to large companies but for organizations of all sizes.

While large corporations house large amounts of data, they are also capable of supporting their data center with the respective necessary protections. The combination of lacking security resources while maintaining sensitive personal information is what makes smaller-sized businesses the perfect targets for attackers. Hackers aren’t simply looking at how much information they can gather, but at the ease of access to that data – an area where SMB’s are largely deficient.

The bad publicity and dark connotation that data breaches hold create a survive-or-die situation for SMBs, but there are ways SMBs can mitigate the threat despite limited resources – and they exist in the cloud.

The Struggle to Survive

Because of their smaller stature as a company, most SMBs struggle with the ability to manage cybersecurity protections and mitigation of attacks – especially data breaches. In fact, financial services company UPS Capital found that 60% of smaller businesses fall out of business within six months after a cyberattack. Unlike business giants, SMBs cannot afford the financial hit of data breaches.

Security and privacy of sensitive data is a trending hot topic in today’s society, becoming more of an influence on customers’ purchase decisions. Customers are willing to pay more for provided security protections. Auditor giant KPMG reports that for mobile service providers alone, consumers would not hesitate to switch carriers if one provided better security than the other, as long as pricing is competitive or even for a moderate premium.

[You might also like: Protecting Sensitive Data: What a Breach Means to Your Business]

One Person Just Isn’t Enough

Many SMBs tend to prioritize their business over cybersecurity because of the false belief that attackers would go after large companies first. Research Center Ponemon Institute reports that 51% of its survey respondents say their company believes they are too small to be targeted. For businesses that do invest in cybersecurity, they narrowly focus on anti-virus solutions and neglect other types of attacks such as DDoS, malware, and system exploits that intrusion detection systems can protect from.

Auto dealerships, for example, are typically family-owned and operated businesses, valued at $4 million USD, with typically an average of 15-20 employees overall. Because of its size, of that number of employees there is typically only one employee that manages the IT responsibilities. Dealerships attempt to satisfy the need of security protection with this employee that has relevant certifications and experience; they are equipped with resources to support their day-to-day tasks, but not to manage high-level attacks and threats. Ponemon Institute’s research reports that 73% of its respondents believe they are unable to achieve full effective IT security because of insufficient personnel.

A study conducted by news publication Automotive News found that 33% of consumers lack confidence in the security protection of sensitive data at dealerships. The seriousness of cybersecurity protection, however, should not correlate to the number of employees but the amount and value of the sensitive data collected. The common error dealerships make isn’t the lack of care in their handling of sensitive data, but the underestimation of their likelihood of being attacked.

Dealerships collect valuable consumer information, both personal and financial – ranging from driver’s license information to social security numbers, to bank account information, and even past vehicle records. An insufficient budget and management of IT security make auto dealerships a prime target. In fact, software company MacKeeper in 2016 revealed a massive data breach of 120+ U.S. dealership systems made available on Shodan – a search engine for connected, but unsecured databases and devices. The source of the breach originated from backing up individual data systems to the vendor’s common central systems, without any cybersecurity protections in place.

The Answer is in the Clouds

Cybersecurity is often placed on the backburner of company priorities, perceived as an unnecessary expenditure because of the flawed perception and underestimated likelihood of being attacked. However, the level of protection over personal data is highly valued among today’s consumers and is enough to be the deciding factor for which OS or mobile app/site people would frequent, and likely which SMB they would patronize.

Witnessing the growing trend of data breaches and the rapid advancements of cyberattacks, SMBs are taking note and beginning to increase spending. It is crucial for organizations to not only increase their security budget but to spend it effectively and efficiently. Research firm Cyren and Osterman Research found that 63% of SMBs are increasing their security spending, but still experience breaches.

Internal security systems may seem more secure to smaller business owners, but SMBs lack the necessary security architecture and expertise to safeguard the data being housed. Cloud solutions offer what these businesses need: a data storage system with better security protection services. Meanwhile, in the same Cyren and Osterman Research report, only 29% of IT managers are open to utilizing cloud services. By utilizing cloud-based security as a solution, small-and medium-sized businesses no longer have to depend on one-staff IT departments, but can focus on the growth of their business. Cloud-based security solutions provide enterprise-grade protection alongside improved flexibility and agility that smaller organizations typically lack compared to their large-scale brethren.

Managed security vendors offer a range of fully-managed cloud security solutions for cyberattacks from WAF to DDoS. They are capable of providing more accurate real-time protection and coverage. Although the security is provided by an outside firm, reports and audits can be provided for a deeper analysis of not only the attacks but the company’s defenses. Outsourcing this type of security service to experts enables SMBs to continue achieving and prioritizing their business goals while protecting their work and customer data.

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

Download Now

SecurityService Provider

Protecting Sensitive Data: What a Breach Means to Your Business

August 29, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley0

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Data breaches have made big headlines in recent years, from Target to Equifax to Hudson’s Bay Co’s Saks and Lord & Taylor.  But the growing trend is actually in all the litigation stemming from data breaches. International law firm Bryan Cave analyzed the increasing trend of legal action following data breaches of all sizes. It found that in 2016 alone, there were 76 class action lawsuits related to data breaches:

  • 34% were within the medical industry
  • 95% had negligence as the most popular legal theory
  • 86% emphasized the breach of sensitive data

Our own research supports these findings. Radware’s 2018 Consumer Sentiments Survey found that 55% of U.S. consumers stated that they valued their personal data over physical assets, i.e. cars, phones, wallets/purses. In addition, Radware’s C-Suite Perspectives report revealed 41% of executives reported that customers have taken legal action following a data breach. Consequences of data breaches have extended past bad press, and include lasting effects on stock prices, customer acquisition costs, churn, and even termination of C-Suite level executives.

[You might also like: Consumer Sentiments About Cybersecurity and What It Means for Your Organizations]

Types of sensitive data vary by industry and therefore have respective attack methods. For example, the finance and commerce industry are expected to protect data such as names, contact information, social security numbers, account numbers and other financial information. Likewise, the healthcare industry is at high risk of data breaches, as medical records contain the same personal data in addition to more details that aid in identity fraud – such as doctor and prescription records, medical insurance information, and individual health attributes from height and weight to blood type.

On the surface, data breaches fall under the jurisdiction of CISO, CTOs, etc., but CEOs are now just as likely to be held responsible for these incidents; Target’s then-CEO was forced to resign following its 2013 data breach.  Other CEO’s at Sony and Home Depot were no longer in their positions within 6 months of their high profile breaches.

Laws and regulations surrounding data breaches are now moving at a faster pace due to steeper consequences, with the implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the United States’ growing interest and demand in data privacy and protection. Security at its bare minimum is no longer realistic, and instead a competitive advantage for smart companies. C-level executives who aren’t reviewing security plans are opening themselves and their companies to significant liabilities.

How does GDPR affect me?

The GDPR’s purpose is providing protection over the use of consumers’ personal data. Companies are now held to a higher expectation to protect their customers’ data, further emphasizing the evolving consideration of cybersecurity as a necessity in business. At its strictest, companies found not having done enough can be penalized upwards of €20 million or 4% of the offending organization’s annual worldwide revenue.

Although data breaches alone are months of bad publicity in general, the wrath of consumers often stem from the delayed notification and response from the company. Companies incur this fury when they attempt to keep a data breach hidden only for it to be uncovered, resulting in increased litigation costs. The GDPR now mandates and upholds companies to the high standard of notifying data breach-affected consumers within 72 hours.

Targeted for a Data Breach

In 2013, one of the most notable, mainstream headlines focused on the data breach of Minnesota-based, retail giant Target Corporation. During the holiday shopping season, Target revealed their mass data breach of personal information, of which 40 million customers had personal financial data stolen and 70 million had general personal data (such as email and addresses) revealed. Attackers were able to exploit the company’s customer database through a third-party vendor’s stolen credentials, utilizing malware as the weapon of choice; the same malware was later utilized to attack other retailers such as Home Depot. Hackers after the finance and retail industry still utilize malware like Target’s 2013 data breach to create pathways from minimally-protected 3rd parties into more complex systems.

At the end of the investigation, Target had to pay a fine of $18.5 million across the U.S. in addition to its cumulative legal fees of a staggering $202 million for the data breach. What goes unmentioned however, is also the potential cost of lost customers from these breaches, as well as the brand reputation decline. The company must also abide to new Terms of Agreements by various State Attorney Generals that include requiring Target to employ a security leader for the creation and management of a thorough information security program, in addition to other related guidelines.

The Early Bird Avoids the Attack

Target became a lasting example of the need for cybersecurity to be implemented within a company’s architecture and business processes. The topic of protecting customer data has become its own high-profile discussion across various industries, rather than just within the technology industry. Being proactive with not only the security surrounding the company’s products/services, but also the data it collects, will be a competitive differentiator moving forward.

Radware research found that 66% of C-Suite Executives across the world, believed hackers could penetrate their networks, yet little is changed to implement protections as exhibited by the graphic below.

[You might also like: Cybersecurity & Customer Experience: Embrace Technology and Change to Earn A Customer’s Loyalty]

Sensitive data across all industries are valuable, coming at different prices in the dark net market. As data breaches are becoming more commonplace, industries have to take different levels of precaution in order to protect consumers’ personal data. For example, the healthcare industry heavily utilizes encryption to protect data such as medical records and prescription history. However, attackers are also implementing encryption attack tools in order to access this information. It is crucial for the cybersecurity systems of these organizations to be able to distinguish between valid encrypted information versus attack information encrypted with SSL, in order to prevent a breach. A comprehensively designed network infrastructure that consistently manages and monitors SSL and encryption technology through its security systems can ensure protected network and data privacy.

Transitioning cybersecurity from the hallways of IT and embedding it into the very foundation of business operations allows an organization to scale and focus on security innovation, rather than scrambling to mitigate new threats as they evolve or worse, litigating expensive class actions. In addition, this proactive approach further builds customer relationships via improved trust and loyalty. Knowing that cybersecurity is a company’s and CEO’s priority will help the customer feel more at ease with potential partnerships and strengthens the level of trust between.

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

Download Now

Attack Types & VectorsSecurity

Is My Smart Home Telling People What I Do Every Day?

February 13, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley4

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2017 will forever be known as the year that the smart home started to take off.  Researchers estimate that Amazon has sold over 15 million Echo devices  to date. Plus, Google has sold another 5 million Google Homes.  The overall smart home market is expected to grow to over $50 billion by 2022.  Already 1 in 4 U.S. households has some kind of smart device in their home.  With all the smart thermostats, smart fridges, smart light bulbs, smart doors and windows, personal assistants, and smart home surveillance, internet-connected home devices are rapidly stacking up in U.S. households. These devices are adding convenience and efficiency, but are they safe?

Security

Create Trusted IoT, become the King of Sweden?

January 25, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley0

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Internet of Things (IoT) devices continue to become more and more prevalent in our daily lives.  Alexa gives us the daily news, smart agricultural sensors help farmers optimize yield, and connected sensors can monitor your pet’s movement and sleeping patterns.  All told, IoT is expected to become a $500 billion market by 2022, r the same size as the overall economy of Sweden, 23rd largest in the world.

DDoSSecurity

Could Your Local Car Dealer, Bank or Doctor’s Office be Next?

August 17, 2017 — by Mike O'Malley0

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What do local car dealers, hospitals and banks all have in common? At first glance, not much. However, all of them have become recent hacker targets. Why now when other, much larger corporate entities have traditionally been targets? One word – resources. Their resources, both network and personnel, are stretched thin. With the increased complexity and length of Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, it’s a struggle for all organizations, let alone small and medium businesses. The 2016 State of SMB Security Report found that half of the 28 million small businesses surveyed were breached in the past year. Verizon cited, in their 2017 Data Breach report, that 61% of data breach victims were businesses with less than 1,000 employees.

DDoSSecurity

The Money Behind DDoS Managed Security Services

July 27, 2017 — by Mike O'Malley0

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In a recent Light Reading webinar, Principal Heavy Reading Analyst Jim Hodges and I discussed the growing need for Managed Security Services. DDoS attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, lasting more than 24 hours in some cases. The attacks aren’t limited to specific industries or company sizes anymore, and push stretched internal IT resources to the breaking point. The 0s and 1s that flash through service provider networks are equally vulnerable.  Attackers don’t care where the data is coming from…they’re looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit for money. The days of hacks focused on large retail organizations like Target and Home Depot are behind us. Merck and Co., a large U.S.-based pharmaceutical firm, was one of several global companies impacted by a massive global attack. Don’t let these hacks bring your customers’ network down.

SecurityService Provider

Enterprises are asking for help to protect their data. Here’s the answer service providers should provide.

June 20, 2017 — by Mike O'Malley0

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Big. Small. Public. Private. Government. Retail. B2B. Non-profit.

Hackers don’t care about the size or purpose of the organizations they attack. They’re bombarding networks all over the globe with sophisticated multi-vector DDoS attacks, looking to grab any data from which they can profit.