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Security

Protecting Enterprises From State-Sponsored Hackers

July 11, 2019 — by Mike O'Malley0

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There seems to be a continuous drip, drip, drip of cyber breaches on a daily basis. For example, last month 12 million patients may have had information exposed in a data breach from Quest Diagnostics, the world’s largest blood-testing company.

The only thing we know for sure is that tomorrow some other enterprise will be next. However, what’s new is the rising threat of state-sponsored cyber attacks on enterprises. Per the White House, cyber attacks cost the US economy between $50 million and $100 million in 2016 — the last year quantified. It’s likely significantly more today.

States Are Leading Players in the Cyber Game

Enterprises need to understand that 22 countries around the world are currently suspected of state-sponsored programs for governmental cyber attacks. And lest you believe that these are all focused on stealing nuclear codes, half of all targets for these attacks are private enterprises, NOT governmental agencies.

World governments are actively investing in building and operating cyber espionage teams to both protect their national interests as well as collect IP for their domestic industries. With this information, they are acquiring expertise, malicious botnets and cyber attack tools to further advance their craft.

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

Enterprises in developed nations around the world need to understand the high stakes and the need for increased protection. If a company competes based on its Intellectual property in a global marketplace, then it may be a mark for government cyber attacks.

Some nations are more direct about the domestic industries they are interested in building and are tipping their hands as to what intellectual property they are interested in acquiring from specific industries. China for example, has a position paper, “Made in China 2025“, which lays out specific industries in which it has a strategic interest in building domestic expertise.

The plan lays out a very aggressive goal of producing 70% of the content in the following industries with Chinese enterprises: IT, robotics, green energy and EVs, aerospace, ocean engineering, railroads, power, materials, medicine and med tech and agriculture engineering. These plans require domestic industries in developing countries to acquire massive amounts of new intellectual property in order to meet this 70% local content threshold.

Enterprises Don’t Have the Expertise to Fight Government Agents

In this environment, where 20-plus countries are aggressively building cyber attack organizations and pouring millions of dollars into ever more sophisticated attack technology, who is the best, most expert person to protect these businesses?

[You may also like: Here’s How You Can Better Mitigate a Cyberattack]

Before we answer that, let’s understand the current cyber employment context. Per an international security non-profit (ISC2), there were three million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally in 2018. There continues to be a global STEM shortage. Job boards are bursting with open positions for IT security specialists.

Given the cybersecurity work shortage, it is neither advisable or practical for every Fortune 1000 business to try to match the security defense capabilities of nationally funded cyber attackers. Enterprises cannot spend enough money individually to have the state of the art automated defenses or hire enough security engineers to fight cyber attacks in real time.

We cannot and should not expect the Fortune 1000 to replicate the people and investment of nationally funded cyber groups to protect their most important intellectual property.

[You may also like: How Cyberattacks Directly Impact Your Brand]

In fact, we are seeing tremendous new innovations like the UK government initiative, Cyber Skills Immediate Impact Fund that promotes neurodiversity to help close the security skills gap. This is a tremendous new initiative that taps into groups like people on the autism spectrum for their puzzle-solving prowess to improve cybersecurity through their different and valuable coding abilities. However, initiatives like this alone will take years to provide the additional security engineering talent needed today.

Service and Cloud Providers Could Be the Expert Defenders

Cloud and service providers are another story. Many of them already have Security Operations Centers (SOC)s manned 24×7 to protect themselves and their customers. Many have real-time defenses and have implemented SDN control planes with automated policy. These systems identify an attack in one part of the network and mitigate the attack, while simultaneously updating all other endpoints with the attack characteristics. They are already staffed with top security engineering talent.

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

Managed security solutions for virtually all enterprises need to ultimately be the answer. Cloud and service provider SOCs are the only private organization capable of protecting businesses and their most valuable intellectual property. Enterprises can never invest enough individually to have the latest tools and talent to fight the most complex real-time cyber attacks. However, the cloud and service providers have the scale to invest at the necessary level to protect from the most nefarious state-sponsored actor.

We need to fight fire with fire and recognize the Heads of Tier 1 SOCs are the ones who should be protecting the intellectual property of enterprises worldwide. Not 1,000 different IT managers individually.

[You may also like: Hacking Democracy: Vulnerable Voting Infrastructure and the Future of Election Security]

Service Providers Need to Stay Vigilant

As telco companies are racing to deliver 5G services, security has, in some cases, taken a back seat to speed. The most recent attack on telcos by the Chinese government is only the beginning. While it wasn’t especially intricate, nation state cybercriminals are proving that they are able to exploit the growing vulnerabilities that telcos leave behind as they race to 5G. As we approach the 2020 election, we will see a heightened focus as nation states leverage every vulnerability to their advantage. Telcos must be prepared, or the damage could be astronomical.

A version of this post was originally published on Light Reading.

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

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Security

Executives’ Changing Views on Cybersecurity

July 9, 2019 — by Radware0

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What does the shift in how cybersecurity is viewed by senior executives within organizations mean? To find out, Radware surveyed more than 260 executives worldwide and discovered that cybersecurity has moved well beyond the domain of the IT department and is now the direct responsibility of senior executives.

Security as a Business Driver

The protection of public and private cloud networks and digital assets is a business driver that needs to be researched and evaluated just like other crucial issues that affect the health of organizations.

Just because the topic is being elevated to the boardroom doesn’t necessarily mean that progress is being made. Executive preference for cybersecurity management skewed toward internal management (45%), especially in the AMER region (55%), slightly higher than in 2018. Yet the number of respondents who said that hackers can penetrate their networks remained static at 67% from last year’s C-suite perspectives report.

[You may also like: Executives Are Turning Infosec into a Competitive Advantage]

As in the past two years’ surveys, two in five executives reported relying on their security vendors to stay current and keep their security products up to date. Similar percentages also reported daily research or subscriptions to third-party research centers.

At the same time, the estimated cost of an attack jumped 53% from 3 million USD/EUR/GBP in 2018 to 4.6 million USD/EUR/GBP in 2019.

Staying Current on Attack Vectors

Looking Forward

The respondents ranked improvement of information security (54%) and business efficiency (38%) as the top two business transformation goals of integrating new technologies. In last year’s survey, the same two goals earned the top two spots, but the emphasis on information security increased quite a bit this year from 38% in 2018 (business efficiency held steady from 37% in 2018).

Although the intent to enhance cybersecurity increases, actions do not necessarily follow. Often the work to deploy new technologies to streamline processes, lower operating costs, offer more customer touch points and be able to react with more agility to market changes proceeds faster than the implementation of security measures.

Every new touchpoint added to networks, both public and private, exponentially increases organizations’ exposure and vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. If organizations are truly going to benefit from advances in technology, that will require the right level of budgetary investment.

The true costs of cyberattacks and data breaches are only known if they are successful. Senior executives who spend the time now to figure out what cybersecurity infrastructure makes sense for their organizations reduce the risk of incurring those costs. The investment can also be leveraged to build market advantage if organizations let their customers and suppliers know that cybersecurity is part of their culture of doing business. Prevention, not remediation, should be the focus.

[You may also like: How Cyberattacks Directly Impact Your Brand]

Securing digital assets can no longer be delegated solely to the IT department. Rather, security planning needs to be infused into new product and service offerings, security, development plans and new business initiatives. The C-suite must lead the way.

Read “2019 C-Suite Perspectives: From Defense to Offense, Executives Turn Information Security into a Competitive Advantage” to learn more.

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Security

The Impact of GDPR One Year In

June 27, 2019 — by Radware0

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Data breaches are expensive, and the costs are only going up.

Those reporting attacks that cost 10 million USD/EUR/GBP or more almost doubled from last year — from 7% in 2018 to 13% in 2019. Half of Radware’s C-Suite Perspectives survey respondents estimated that an attack cost somewhere between 500,001 and 9.9 million USD/EUR/GBP.

One Year In

Arguably, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has been active in the European Union since May 2018, contributes to these rising costs.

Every EU state has a data protection authority (DPA) that is authorized to impose administrative fines for improper handling of data. Fines can go up to 4% of a company’s worldwide revenues for more serious violations. Article 83 of the GDPR requires that fines be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive.”

More than half of Radware’s 2019 C-Suite Perspective survey respondents from EMEA experienced a self-reported incident under the GDPR in the past 12 months.

In the largest fine to date, France levied a fine against Google for €50 million for lack of consent on advertisements. Germany fined Knuddels €20,000 for insufficiently securing user data, enabling hackers to steal user passwords. And a sports betting café in Austria received a €5,000 fine for unlawful video surveillance.

C-Suite Perspectives: From Defense to Offense — Executives Turn Information Security Into a Competitive Advantage

So far, DPAs have received almost 150,000 complaints about data handling. Most are about video surveillance and advertising calls or mailings, according to the EU Commission. While fines have not yet been imposed in many cases, the potential for significant penalties is there.

The takeaway? C-suite executives in all regions should not let the leniency of the first year of GDPR enforcement lull them into complacency. The threat of GDPR fines is just one risk facing organizations that experience a data breach.

The danger is very real.

Read “2019 C-Suite Perspectives: From Defense to Offense, Executives Turn Information Security into a Competitive Advantage” to learn more.

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Attack Types & VectorsCloud SecuritySecurity

Anatomy of a Cloud-Native Data Breach

April 10, 2019 — by Radware1

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Migrating computing resources to cloud environments opens up new attack surfaces previously unknown in the world of premise-based data centers. As a result, cloud-native data breaches frequently have different characteristics and follow a different progression than physical data breaches. Here is a real-life example of a cloud-native data breach, how it evolved and how it possibly could have been avoided.

Target Profile: A Social Media/Mobile App Company

The company is a photo-sharing social media application, with over 20 million users. It stores over 1PB of user data within Amazon Web Services (AWS), and in 2018, it was the victim of a massive data breach that exposed nearly 20 million user records. This is how it happened.

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

Step 1: Compromising a legitimate user. Frequently, the first step in a data breach is that an attacker compromises the credentials of a legitimate user. In this incident, an attacker used a spear-phishing attack to obtain an administrative user’s credentials to the company’s environment.

Step 2: Fortifying access. After compromising a legitimate user, a hacker frequently takes steps to fortify access to the environment, independent of the compromised user. In this case, the attacker connected to the company’s cloud environment through an IP address registered in a foreign country and created API access keys with full administrative access.

Step 3: Reconnaissance. Once inside, an attacker then needs to map out what permissions are granted and what actions this role allows.

[You may also like: Embarking on a Cloud Journey: Expect More from Your Load Balancer]

Step 4: Exploitation. Once the available permissions in the account have been determined, the attacker can proceed to exploit them. Among other activities, the attacker duplicated the master user database and exposed it to the outside world with public permissions.

Step 5: Exfiltration. Finally, with customer information at hand, the attacker copied the data outside of the network, gaining access to over 20 million user records that contained personal user information.

Lessons Learned

Your Permissions Equal Your Threat Surface: Leveraging public cloud environments means that resources that used to be hosted inside your organization’s perimeter are now outside where they are no longer under the control of system administrators and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Workload security, therefore, is defined by the people who can access those workloads and the permissions they have. In effect, your permissions equal your attack surface.

Excessive Permissions Are the No. 1 Threat: Cloud environments make it very easy to spin up new resources and grant wide-ranging permissions but very difficult to keep track of who has them. Such excessive permissions are frequently mischaracterized as misconfigurations but are actually the result of permission misuse or abuse. Therefore, protecting against those excessive permissions becomes the No. 1 priority for securing publicly hosted cloud workloads.

[You may also like: Excessive Permissions are Your #1 Cloud Threat]

Cloud Attacks Follow Typical Progression: Although each data breach incident may develop differently, a cloud-native attack breach frequently follows a typical progression of a legitimate user account compromise, account reconnaissance, privilege escalation, resource exploitation and data exfiltration.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

Protect Your Access Credentials: Your next data breach is a password away. Securing your cloud account credentials — as much as possible — is critical to ensuring that they don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Limit Permissions: Frequently, cloud user accounts are granted many permissions that they don’t need or never use. Exploiting the gap between granted permissions and used permissions is a common move by hackers. In the aforementioned example, the attacker used the accounts’ permissions to create new administrative-access API keys, spin up new databases, reset the database master password and expose it to the outside world. Limiting permissions to only what the user needs helps ensure that, even if the account is compromised, the damage an attacker can do is limited.

[You may also like: Mitigating Cloud Attacks With Configuration Hardening]

Alert of Suspicious Activities: Since cloud-native data breaches frequently have a common progression, there are certain account activities — such as port scanning, invoking previously used APIs and granting public permissions — which can be identified. Alerting against such malicious behavior indicators (MBIs) can help prevent a data breach before it occurs.

Automate Response Procedures: Finally, once malicious activity has been identified, fast response is paramount. Automating response mechanisms can help block malicious activity the moment it is detected and stop the breach from reaching its end goal.

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

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Cloud Security

Are Your DevOps Your Biggest Security Risks?

March 13, 2019 — by Eyal Arazi0

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We have all heard the horror tales: a negligent (or uniformed) developer inadvertently exposes AWS API keys online, only for hackers to find those keys, penetrate the account and cause massive damage.

But how common, in practice, are these breaches? Are they a legitimate threat, or just an urban legend for sleep-deprived IT staff? And what, if anything, can be done against such exposure?

The Problem of API Access Key Exposure

The problem of AWS API access key exposure refers to incidents in which developer’s API access keys to AWS accounts and cloud resources are inadvertently exposed and found by hackers.

AWS – and most other infrastructure-as-as-service (IaaS) providers – provides direct access to tools and services via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Developers leverage such APIs to write automatic scripts to help them configure cloud-based resources. This helps developers and DevOps save much time in configuring cloud-hosted resources and automating the roll-out of new features and services.

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

In order to make sure that only authorized developers are able to access those resource and execute commands on them, API access keys are used to authenticate access. Only code containing authorized credentials will be able to connect and execute.

This Exposure Happens All the Time

The problem, however, is that such access keys are sometimes left in scripts or configuration files uploaded to third-party resources, such as GitHub. Hackers are fully aware of this, and run automated scans on such repositories, in order to discover unsecured keys. Once they locate such keys, hackers gain direct access to the exposed cloud environment, which they use for data theft, account takeover, and resource exploitation.

A very common use case is for hackers to access an unsuspecting cloud account and spin-up multiple computing instances in order to run crypto-mining activities. The hackers then pocket the mined cryptocurrency, while leaving the owner of the cloud account to foot the bill for the usage of computing resources.

[You may also like: The Rise in Cryptomining]

Examples, sadly, are abundant:

  • A Tesla developer uploaded code to GitHub which contained plain-text AWS API keys. As a result, hackers were able to compromise Tesla’s AWS account and use Tesla’s resource for crypto-mining.
  • WordPress developer Ryan Heller uploaded code to GitHub which accidentally contained a backup copy of the wp-config.php file, containing his AWS access keys. Within hours, this file was discovered by hackers, who spun up several hundred computing instances to mine cryptocurrency, resulting in $6,000 of AWS usage fees overnight.
  • A student taking a Ruby on Rails course on Udemy opened up a AWS S3 storage bucket as part of the course, and uploaded his code to GitHub as part of the course requirements. However, his code contained his AWS access keys, leading to over $3,000 of AWS charges within a day.
  • The founder of an internet startup uploaded code to GitHub containing API access keys. He realized his mistake within 5 minutes and removed those keys. However, that was enough time for automated bots to find his keys, access his account, spin up computing resources for crypto-mining and result in a $2,300 bill.
  • js published an npm code package in their code release containing access keys to their S3 storage buckets.

And the list goes on and on…

The problem is so widespread that Amazon even has a dedicated support page to tell developers what to do if they inadvertently expose their access keys.

How You Can Protect Yourself

One of the main drivers of cloud migration is the agility and flexibility that it offers organizations to speed-up roll-out of new services and reduce time-to-market. However, this agility and flexibility frequently comes at a cost to security. In the name of expediency and consumer demand, developers and DevOps may sometimes not take the necessary precautions to secure their environments or access credentials.

Such exposure can happen in a multitude of ways, including accidental exposure of scripts (such as uploading to GitHub), misconfiguration of cloud resources which contain such keys , compromise of 3rd party partners who have such credentials, exposure through client-side code which contains keys, targeted spear-phishing attacks against DevOps staff, and more.

[You may also like: Mitigating Cloud Attacks With Configuration Hardening]

Nonetheless, there are a number of key steps you can take to secure your cloud environment against such breaches:

Assume your credentials are exposed. There’s no way around this: Securing your credentials, as much as possible, is paramount. However, since credentials can leak in a number of ways, and from a multitude of sources, you should therefore assume your credentials are already exposed, or can become exposed in the future. Adopting this mindset will help you channel your efforts not (just) to limiting this exposure to begin with, but to how to limit the damage caused to your organization should this exposure occur.

Limit Permissions. As I pointed out earlier, one of the key benefits of migrating to the cloud is the agility and flexibility that cloud environments provide when it comes to deploying computing resources. However, this agility and flexibility frequently comes at a cost to security. Once such example is granting promiscuous permissions to users who shouldn’t have them. In the name of expediency, administrators frequently grant blanket permissions to users, so as to remove any hindrance to operations.

[You may also like: Excessive Permissions are Your #1 Cloud Threat]

The problem, however, is that most users never use most of the permissions they have granted, and probably don’t need them in the first place. This leads to a gaping security hole, since if any one of those users (or their access keys) should become compromised, attackers will be able to exploit those permissions to do significant damage. Therefore, limiting those permissions, according to the principle of least privileges, will greatly help to limit potential damage if (and when) such exposure occurs.

Early Detection is Critical. The final step is to implement measures which actively monitor user activity for any potentially malicious behavior. Such malicious behavior can be first-time API usage, access from unusual locations, access at unusual times, suspicious communication patterns, exposure of private assets to the world, and more. Implementing detection measures which look for such malicious behavior indicators, correlate them, and alert against potentially malicious activity will help ensure that hackers are discovered promptly, before they can do any significant damage.

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

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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.

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Attack MitigationAttack Types & Vectors

5 Ways Malware Defeats Cyber Defenses & What You Can Do About It

January 17, 2019 — by Radware0

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Malware is a key vector for data breaches. Research shows that 51% of data breaches include the usage of malware, whether for initial breach, expansion within the network or heisting data. Yet despite malware being a pivotal attack vector, companies are unable to defend against data-theft malware running wild in their network. In fact, some of the biggest and most well-publicized breaches ever were the result of undetected malware.

Why? Modern malware is built to evade traditional anti-malware defenses. Today’s malwares are sophisticated multi-vector attack weapons designed to elude detection using an array of evasion tools and camouflage techniques. In the game of chess between attackers and defenders, hackers constantly find new ways to stay one step ahead of existing defenses.

Modern Malware

Here are five common evasion techniques used by modern malware and how they beat traditional anti-malware defenses.

Polymorphic malware: Many traditional anti-malware defenses operate using known malware signatures. Modern data-theft malware counteracts this by constantly morphing or shapeshifting. By making simple changes to the code, attackers can easily generate an entirely new binary signature for the file.

Shapeshifting, zero-day malware beats signature-based defenses such as anti-virus, email filtering, IPS/IDS, and sandboxing.

File-less malware: Many anti-malware tools focus on static files and operating-systems (OS) processes to detect malicious activity. However, an increasingly common technique by attackers is to use file-less malware which is executed in run-time memory only, leaves no footprint on the target host and is therefore transparent to file-based defenses.

File-less malware beats IPS/IDS, UEBA, anti-virus, and sandboxing.

[You may also like: Threat Alert: MalSpam]

Encrypted payloads: Some anti-malware defense use content scanning to block sensitive data leakage. Attackers get around this by encrypting communications between infected hosts and Command & Control (C&C) servers.

Encrypted payloads beat DLP, EDR, and secure web gateways (SWG).

Domain generation algorithm (DGA): Some anti-malware defenses include addresses of known C&C servers, and block communication with them. However, malwares with domain generation capabilities get around this by periodically modifying C&C address details and using previously unknown addresses.

Beats secure web gateways (SWG), EDR, and sandboxing.

Host spoofing: spoofs header information to obfuscate the true destination of the data, thereby bypassing defenses that target the addresses of known C&C servers.

Beats secure web gateways (SWG), IPS/IDS and sandboxing.

[You may also like: Micropsia Malware]

What Can You Do?

Beating zero-day evasive malware is not easy, but there are several key steps you can take to severely limit its impact:

Apply multi-layer defenses: Protecting your organization against evasive malware is not a one-and-done proposition. Rather, it is an ongoing effort that requires combining endpoint defenses (such as anti-virus software) with network-layer protection such as firewalls, secure web gateways and more. Only multi-layered protection ensures complete coverage.

Focus on zero-day malware: Zero-day malware accounts for up to 50% of malware currently in circulation. Zero-day malware frequently goes unrecognized by existing anti-malware defenses and is a major source of data loss. Anti-malware defense mechanisms that focus squarely on identifying and detecting zero-day malwares is a must have.

[You may also like: The Changing Face of Malware: Malware Being Used as Cryptocurrency Miners]

Implement traffic analysis: Data theft malware attacks take aim at the entire network to steal sensitive data. Although infection might originate from user endpoints, it is typically the aim of attackers to expand to network resources as well. As a result, it is important for an anti-malware solution to not just focus on  one area of the network or resource type, but maintain a holistic view of the entire network and analyze what is happening.

Leverage big data: A key ingredient in detecting zero-day malware is the ability to collect data from a broad information base amassed over time. This allows defenders to detect malware activity on a global scale and correlate seemingly unrelated activities to track malware development and evolution.

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

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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'Malley0

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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.

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Application SecurityDDoS AttacksSecurity

The Million-Dollar Question of Cyber-Risk: Invest Now or Pay Later?

October 30, 2018 — by Radware3

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Cybersecurity is often an afterthought. Executives are quick to focus on the endgame benefits of customer-centric strategies, digital transformation, mobility, IoT and cloud computing, yet cybersecurity often falls by the wayside compared to these strategic initiatives. In fact, many executives view cybersecurity strictly as a cost center.

This cost-savings, bolt-on approach to implementing cybersecurity might yield short-term financial savings that leave the finance department feeling good. But it also leaves organizations in a “pay me now, pay me later” scenario that runs the risk of significant financial loss and damage to customer satisfaction and market reputation in the long run. Resulting breaches devalue and compromise any digital transformation and/or customer-facing programs, resulting in lost time, money and, most importantly, customer faith.

In an increasingly insecure world where security and availability are the cornerstones of the digital consumer, organizations must reevaluate how they balance the investment versus risk equation and alter how and when they implement cybersecurity.

THE TRUE COST OF A CYBERATTACK/DATA BREACH

To understand just how detrimental this approach can be to the long-term health of an organization requires a grasp of the true cost of a cyberattack and any resulting data breaches. Sadly, these types of statistics are often poorly understood by organizations. According to Radware, 80 percent of organizations don’t calculate the cost of cyberattacks. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Ultimately, cyberattacks are far more expensive than organizations realize. Not only in monetary costs but also by damage incurred to brand reputation, operational expenses and, most importantly, the impact on the customer experience.

As a starting point, cyberattacks cost, on average, more than 1 million USD/EUR, according to 40 percent of global executives. This figure represents the actual operational costs associated with “cleaning up” an attack. Five percent of executives estimate this cost to be more than 25 million USD/EUR. But these figures only represent the tip of the iceberg.

The larger, more damaging effect is the impact on customer loyalty and trust, brand damage and a wide array of other “hidden costs.” According to executives, the top three impacts from a cyberattack are:

  • 41% Customer loss
  • 34% Brand reputation loss
  • 34% Productivity/operational loss

Specifically, there is a high price for not securing the customer experience. In today’s digitally driven world where consumers own the relationship, the foundation of the customer experience is a mix of security and availability. When an organization’s customers have their data compromised, the price is steep. Customer attrition rates can increase by as much as 30 percent following a cyberattack. Moreover, organizations that lose over four percent of their customers following a data breach suffer an average total cost of $5.1 million. In addition to these direct impacts, there are “hidden” costs associated with a data breach as well, including increased insurance premiums, a lower credit rating, devaluation of trade name and loss of intellectual property. Lastly, there are legal fees as well because today’s customers are willing to retaliate. Forty-one percent of executives report that customers have taken legal action against their companies following a data breach. Target, among many name brands such as Panera Bread, Sears, and Saks, is just one well-publicized example of both the legal and customer loyalty impact that cyberattacks have had on name brands.

Flip The Paradigm

What if organizations could flip the paradigm? What if organizations could create a secure environment for their customers and, in the process, use security as a competitive differentiator?

That opportunity now exists because 21st-century digital consumers are asking if they are conducting business with organizations that are proactive about safeguarding their information and how they will fix it if a breach does occur. For example, consumers are now more concerned about having their personal data stolen than their physical possessions such as wallets, automobiles and house keys. High-profile attacks in recent years (and the resulting fallout) mean that cybersecurity and data protection is no longer a topic just for network analysts and IT professionals. It has transitioned from the back pages of tech publications to mainstream conversation.

The impact on businesses is twofold. Whereas companies were once reticent to speak publicly about cybersecurity because it could cause consumers to question their business’s fragility, they must now embrace and communicate their ability to safeguard customer data. Forward-thinking organizations must use security and due diligence as competitive differentiators to build trust and loyalty with customers in the face of an increasingly insecure world.

It is no longer about delivering a world-class experience. It is about delivering a SECURE, world-class experience. In today’s digitally driven, social media world where consumers own the relationship, security has to become the very fabric of the business.

So how are executives expected to accomplish this facing new security threats, tight budgets, a shortfall in cybersecurity professionals and the need to safeguard increasingly diversified infrastructures? The key is creating a secure climate for customers by embracing technology and change. Corporate networks are the linchpins of interactions with customers who expect responsive apps, fast performance and, above all, protection of their data.

To create this climate, research shows that executives must be willing to accept new technologies, be open-minded to new ideologies and embrace change. Executives committed to staying on top of this ever-evolving threat must break down the silos that exist in the organization to assess the dimensions of the risks across the enterprise and address these exposures holistically. Next is balancing the aforementioned investment versus risk equation. All executives will face tough choices when deciding where to invest resources to propel their companies forward. As the threat of cyberattacks becomes a question of when not if, C-suite executives must leverage the aforementioned data points and carefully evaluate the risks associated with security vulnerabilities and the costs of implementing effective security solutions. As identified in the same report, four in 10 respondents identify increasing infrastructure complexity, digital transformation plans and integration of artificial intelligence as putting pressure on security planning and budget allocation.

The stakes are high. Security threats can seriously impact a company’s brand reputation, resulting in customer loss, reduced operational productivity, and lawsuits. C-suite executives recognize the multiple pressures on their organizations to integrate new network technologies, transform their businesses and defend against cyberattacks. Those executives who are willing to embrace technology and change and prioritize cybersecurity will be the ones to win the trust and loyalty of the 21st-century consumer.

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

Download Now