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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 MitigationSecurity

The Costs of Cyberattacks Are Real

February 13, 2019 — by Radware0

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Customers put their trust in companies to deliver on promises of security. Think about how quickly most people tick the boxes on required privacy agreements, likely without reading them. They want to believe the companies they choose to associate with have their best interests at heart and expect them to implement the necessary safeguards. The quickest way to lose customers is to betray that confidence, especially when it comes to their personal information.

Hackers understand that, too. They quickly adapt tools and techniques to disrupt that delicate balance. Executives from every business unit need to understand how cybersecurity affects the overall success of their businesses.

Long Lasting Impacts

In our digital world, businesses feel added pressure to maintain this social contract as the prevalence and severity of cyberattacks increase. Respondents to Radware’s global industry survey were definitely feeling the pain: ninety-three percent of the organizations worldwide indicated that they suffered some kind of negative impact to their relationships with customers as a result of cyberattacks.

Data breaches have real and long-lasting business impacts. Quantifiable monetary losses can be directly tied to the aftermath of cyberattacks in lost revenue, unexpected budget expenditures and drops in stock values. Protracted repercussions are most likely to emerge as a result of negative customer experiences, damage to brand reputation and loss of customers.

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

Indeed, expenditures related to cyberattacks are often realized over the course of several years. Here, we highlight recent massive data breaches–which could have been avoided with careful security hygiene and diligence to publicly reported system exploits:

The bottom line? Management boards and directorates should understand the impact of cyberattacks on their businesses. They should also prioritize how much liability they can absorb and what is considered a major risk to business continuity.

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

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Application SecurityAttack MitigationAttack Types & Vectors

How Cyberattacks Directly Impact Your Brand: New Radware Report

January 15, 2019 — by Ben Zilberman0

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Whether you’re an executive or practitioner, brimming with business acumen or tech savviness, your job is to preserve and grow your company’s brand. Brand equity relies heavily on customer trust, which can take years to build and only moments to demolish. 2018’s cyber threat landscape demonstrates this clearly; the delicate relationship between organizations and their customers is in hackers’ cross hairs and suffers during a successful cyberattack. Make no mistake: Leaders who undervalue customer trust–who do not secure an optimized customer experience or adequately safeguard sensitive data–will feel the sting in their balance sheet, brand reputation and even their job security.

Radware’s 2018-2019 Global Application and Network Security report builds upon a worldwide industry survey encompassing 790 business and security executives and professionals from different countries, industries and company sizes. It also features original Radware threat research, including an analysis of emerging trends in both defensive and offensive technologies. Here, I discuss key takeaways.

Repercussions of Compromising Customer Trust

Without question, cyberattacks are a viable threat to operating expenditures (OPEX). This past year alone, the average estimated cost of an attack grew by 52% and now exceeds $1 million (the number of estimations above $1 million increased 60%). For those organizations that formalized a real calculation process rather than merely estimate the cost, that number is even higher, averaging $1.67 million.

Despite these mounting costs, three in four have no formalized procedure to assess the business impact of a cyberattack against their organization. This becomes particularly troubling when you consider that most organizations have experienced some type of attack within the course of a year (only 7% of respondents claim not to have experienced an attack at all), with 21% reporting daily attacks, a significant rise from 13% last year.

There is quite a range in cost evaluation across different verticals. Those who report the highest damage are retail and high-tech, while education stands out with its extremely low financial impact estimation:

Repercussions can vary: 43% report a negative customer experience, 37% suffered brand reputation loss and one in four lost customers. The most common consequence was loss of productivity, reported by 54% of survey respondents. For small-to-medium sized businesses, the outcome can be particularly severe, as these organizations typically lack sufficient protection measures and know-how.

It would behoove all businesses, regardless of size, to consider the following:

  • Direct costs: Extended labor, investigations, audits, software patches development, etc.
  • Indirect costs: Crisis management, fines, customer compensation, legal expenses, share value
  • Prevention: Emergency response and disaster recovery plans, hardening endpoints, servers and cloud workloads

Risk Exposure Grows with Multi-Dimensional Complexity

As the cost of cyberattacks grow, so does the complexity. Information networks today are amorphic. In public clouds, they undergo a constant metamorphose, where instances of software entities and components are created, run and disappear. We are marching towards the no-visibility era, and as complexity grows it will become harder for business executives to analyze potential risks.

The increase in complexity immediately translates to a larger attack surface, or in other words, a greater risk exposure. DevOps organizations benefit from advanced automation tools that set up environments in seconds, allocate necessary resources, provision and integrate with each other through REST APIs, providing a faster time to market for application services at a minimal human intervention. However, these tools are processing sensitive data and cannot defend themselves from attacks.

Protect your Customer Experience

The report found that the primary goal of cyber-attacks is service disruption, followed by data theft. Cyber criminals understand that service disruptions result in a negative customer experience, and to this end, they utilize a broad set of techniques. Common methods include bursts of high traffic volume, usage of encrypted traffic to overwhelm security solutions’ resource consumption, and crypto-jacking that reduces the productivity of servers and endpoints by enslaving their CPUs for the sake of mining cryptocurrencies. Indeed, 44% of organizations surveyed suffered either ransom attacks or crypto-mining by cyber criminals looking for easy profits.

What’s more, attack tools became more effective in the past year; the number of outages grew by 15% and more than half saw slowdowns in productivity. Application layer attacks—which cause the most harm—continue to be the preferred vector for DDoSers over the network layer. It naturally follows, then, that 34% view application vulnerabilities as the biggest threat in 2019.

Essential Protection Strategies

Businesses understand the seriousness of the changing threat landscape and are taking steps to protect their digital assets. However, some tasks – such as protecting a growing number of cloud workloads, or discerning a malicious bot from a legitimate one – require leveling the defense up. Security solutions must support and enable the business processes, and as such, should be dynamic, elastic and automated.

Analyzing the 2018 threat landscape, Radware recommends the following essential security solution capabilities:

  1. Machine Learning: As hackers leverage advanced tools, organizations must minimize false positive calls in order to optimize the customer experience. This can be achieved by machine-learning capabilities that analyze big data samples for maximum accuracy (nearly half of survey respondents point at security as the driver to explore machine-learning based technologies).
  2. Automation: When so many processes are automated, the protected objects constantly change, and attackers quickly change lanes trying different vectors every time. As such, a security solution must be able to immediately detect and mitigate a threat. Solutions based on machine learning should be able to auto tune security policies.
  3. Real Time Intelligence: Cyber delinquents can disguise themselves in many forms. Compromised devices sometimes make legitimate requests, while other times they are malicious. Machines coming behind CDN or NAT can not be blocked based on IP reputation and generally, static heuristics are becoming useless. Instead, actionable, accurate real time information can reveal malicious activity as it emerges and protect businesses and their customers – especially when relying on analysis and qualifications of events from multiple sources.
  4. Security Experts: Keep human supervision for the moments when the pain is real. Human intervention is required in advanced attacks or when the learning process requires tuning. Because not every organization can maintain the know-how in-house at all times, having an expert from a trusted partner or a security vendor on-call is a good idea.

It is critical for organizations to incorporate cybersecurity into their long-term growth plans. 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. CEOs and executive teams must lead the way in setting the tone and invest in securing their customers’ experience and trust.

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

Download Now

HacksSecurity

2018 In Review: Schools Under Attack

December 19, 2018 — by Daniel Smith0

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As adoption of education technologies expanded in 2018, school networks were increasingly targeted by ransomware, data theft and denial of service attacks; the FBI even issued an alert warning this September as schools reconvened after summer break.

Every school year, new students join schools’ networks, increasing its risk of exposure. Combined with the growing complexity of connected devices on a school’s network and the use of open-source learning management systems (like Blackboard and Moodle), points of failure multiply. While technology can be a wonderful learning aid and time saver for the education sector, an insecure, compromised network will create delays and incur costs that can negate the benefits of new digital services.

The Vulnerabilities

Some of the biggest adversaries facing school networks are students and the devices they bring onto campus. For example, students attending college typically bring a number of internet-connected devices with them, including personal computers, tablets, cell phones and gaming consoles, all of which connect to their school’s network and present a large range of potential vulnerabilities. What’s more, the activities that some students engage in, such as online gaming and posting and/or trolling on forums, can create additional cybersecurity risks.

In an education environment, attacks–which tend to spike at the beginning of every school year–range from flooding the network to stealing personal data, the effects of which can be long-lasting. Per the aforementioned FBI alert, cyber actors exploited school IT systems by hacking into multiple school district servers across the United States in late 2017, where they “accessed student contact information, education plans, homework assignments, medical records, and counselor reports, and then used that information to contact, extort, and threaten students with physical violence and release of their personal information.” Students have also been known to DoS networks to game their school’s registration system or attack web portals used to submit assignments in an attempt to buy more time.

[You may also like: So easy, a child can do it: 15% of Americans think a grade-schooler can hack a school]

Plus, there are countless IoT devices on any given school network just waiting for a curious student to poke. This year we saw the arrest and trial of Paras Jha, former Rutgers student and co-author of the IoT botnet Mirai, who did just that. Jha pleaded guilty to not only creating the malware, but also to click fraud and targeting Rutgers University with the handle ExFocus. This account harassed the school on multiple occasions and caused long and wide-spread outages via DDoS attacks from his botnet.

What’s more, some higher education networks are prime targets of nation states who are looking to exfiltrate personal identifiable data, research material or other crucial or intellectual property found on a college network.

Why Schools?

As it turns out, school networks are more vulnerable than most other types of organizations. On top of an increased surface attack area, schools are often faced with budgetary restraints preventing them from making necessary security upgrades.

[You may also like: School Networks Getting Hacked – Is it the Students’ Fault?]

Schools’ cybersecurity budgets are 50 percent lower than those in financial or government organizations, and 70 percent lower than in telecom and retail. Of course, that may be because schools estimate the cost of an attack at only $200,000–a fraction of the $500,000 expected by financial firms, $800,000 by retailers, and the $1 million price tag foreseen by health care, government, and tech organizations. But the relatively low estimated cost of an attack doesn’t mean attacks on school networks are any less disruptive. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of attacks against schools are from angry users, a percentage far higher than in other industries. Some 57 percent of schools are hit with malware, the same percentage are victims of social engineering, and 46 percent have experienced ransom attacks.

And yet, 44 percent of schools don’t have an emergency response plan. Hopefully 2019 will be the year schools change that.

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

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Mobile SecuritySecurity

Cybersecurity for the Business Traveler: A Tale of Two Internets

November 27, 2018 — by David Hobbs0

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Many of us travel for work, and there are several factors we take into consideration when we do. Finding the best flights, hotels and transportation to fit in the guidelines of compliance is the first set of hurdles, but the second can be a bit trickier: Trusting your selected location. Most hotels do not advertise their physical security details, let alone any cybersecurity efforts.

I recently visited New Delhi, India, where I stayed at a hotel in the Diplomatic Enclave. Being extremely security conscious, I did a test on the connection from the hotel and found there was little-to-no protection on the wi-fi network. This hotel touts its appeal to elite guests, including diplomats and businessmen on official business. But if it doesn’t offer robust security on its network, how can it protect our records and personal data?  What kind of protection could I expect if a hacking group decided to target guests?

[You may also like: Protecting Sensitive Data: A Black Swan Never Truly Sits Still]

If I had to guess, most hotel guests—whether they’re traveling for business or pleasure—don’t spend much time or energy considering the security implications of their new, temporary wi-fi access. But they should.

More and more, we are seeing hacking groups target high-profile travelers. For example, the Fin7 group stole over $1 billion with aggressive hacking techniques aimed at hotels and their guests. And in 2017, an espionage group known as APT28 sought to steal password credentials from Western government and business travelers using hotel wi-fi networks.

A Tale of Two Internets

To address cybersecurity concerns—while also setting themselves apart with a competitive advantage—conference centers, hotels and other watering holes for business travelers could easily offer two connectivity options for guests:

  • Secure Internet: With this option, the hotel would provide basic levels of security monitoring, from virus connections to command and control infrastructure, and look for rogue attackers on the network. It could also alert guests to potential attacks when they log on and could make a “best effort.”
  • Wide Open Internet: In this tier, guests could access high speed internet to do as they please, without rigorous security checks in place. This is the way most hotels, convention centers and other public wi-fi networks work today.

A two-tiered approach is a win-win for both guests and hotels. If hotels offer multiple rates for wi-fi packages, business travelers may pay more to ensure their sensitive company data is protected, thereby helping to cover cybersecurity-related expenses. And guests would have the choice to decide which package best suits their security needs—a natural byproduct of which is consumer education, albeit brief, on the existence of network vulnerabilities and the need for cybersecurity. After all, guests may not have even considered the possibility of security breaches in a hotel’s wi-fi, but evaluating different Internet options would, by default, change that.

[You may also like: Protecting Sensitive Data: The Death of an SMB]

Once your average traveler is aware of the potential for security breaches during hotel stays, the sky’s the limit! Imagine a cultural shift in which hotels were encouraged to promote their cybersecurity initiatives and guests could rate them online in travel site reviews? Secure hotel wi-fi could become a standard amenity and a selling point for travelers.

I, for one, would gladly select a wi-fi option that offered malware alerts, stopped DDoS attacks and proactively looked for known attacks and vulnerabilities (while still using a VPN, of course). Wouldn’t it be better if we could surf a network more secure than the wide open Internet?

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

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DDoS AttacksHacksSecurity

Hacking Democracy: Vulnerable Voting Infrastructure and the Future of Election Security

November 6, 2018 — by Mike O'Malley1

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It’s been two years since international interference sabotaged the United States’ election security, and still the vulnerability of our voting infrastructure remains a major problem. This past May, during Tennessee’s primary election, the Knox County election website fell prey to a DDoS attack. And just days ago, Texas voters experienced “ominous irregularities” from voting machines.

In the lead up to the midterm elections, Radware surveyed Facebook users on the safety of U.S. elections, and the results paint a gloomy picture. The overwhelming majority (93.4 percent) of respondents believe that our election system is vulnerable to targeting and hacking—and they’re correct. What’s more, respondents were unable to suggest long-term tenable solutions when asked how the U.S. can improve its election safety (which is understandable, given the complexity of the issue).

A Seriously Flawed Voting Infrastructure

It is alarmingly quick and easy to hack into U.S. voting systems; just ask the 11-year-old boy who earlier this year demonstrated how he could hack into a replica of the Florida state election website and change voting results in under 10 minutes.

Why is it so easy? A large part of the problem is a lack of consistency among state election systems in either protocols or equipment. Voting equipment varies from paper ballots, to punch cards to electronic touch screens. Some states manually count votes while others use automation. Because of these many variables, each state has different security flaws and different vulnerability of being hacked.

There are roughly 350,000 voting machines used in the U.S. today, according to Verified Voting. There are two types of machines: direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines, which are digital and allow voters to touch a screen to make their selections, and optical-scan systems. Optical-scan machines allow voters to make their selections on a paper ballot, which gets fed into an optical scanner and can be used later to verify the digital results. The DREs are of particular concern because all models are vulnerable to hacking. And because DREs do not provide a hard copy of the vote, it is difficult to double-check results for signs of manipulation.

[You may also like: Can Hackers Ruin America’s Election Day?]

Additionally, voting machines need to be programmed with ballot information, which likely happens by direct connection to the Internet. Precinct results are often centrally tabulated by state and local governments over their various local area networks, adding even more points of potential hacking and vote manipulation.

Multiple voting machines, multiple connection points, multiple network architectures, multiple tabulation systems. There is no consistent framework to secure thousands of potential different weaknesses.

Today, the burden lies with local municipalities, which are ill-equipped to deal with sophisticated, nationally-organized cyber security attacks by hostile foreign governments. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that we can do something about it.

We Need to Reboot

This midterm election, it’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will cast ballots on machines that do not produce a paper record of their votes. This is highly problematic when you consider that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified election system hacking in 21 states—nearly half of the country—last September. If left unaddressed, these vulnerabilities will continue to threaten national security and our democratic system.

The federal government, through DHS, needs to help municipalities and government workers minimize risks and become smarter about election hacking issues by taking these steps:

  • Teach administrative staff about phishing scams, DDoS attacks, etc.  While election officials and staff are trained on the proper procedures and deployment of their voting systems, it is also important that be educated on cybersecurity events so that they are not as likely to fall prey to them and compromise local networks.
  • Do not open any attachments without confirming the attachment came from a trusted source. Attachments are one of the biggest security risks, particularly attachments coming from unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy sources.
  • Use best practices for password protection such as two-factor authentication so that security is maximized. This method confirms users’ identities through a combination of two different factors: something they know and something they have, like using an ATM bank card which requires the correct combination of a bank card (something that the user has) and a PIN (something that the user knows).
  • Keep all software updated. Turn on auto-updates on your phone and laptops – don’t wait to apply them.
  • Check for firmware updates on all printer and network devices as part of your regular patch management schedule as these devices can be weaponized. Updates can add new or improved security features and patch known security holes.
  • Do not conduct any non-government related activity while connected to the network – fantasy football, signing your kid up for soccer, etc.

[You may also like: DDOS Protection is the Foundation for Application Site and Data Availability]

The Future of Election Security

Looking forward, innovative technologies such as blockchain, digital IDs and electronic signatures should be considered on a single, national voting network. Some states, like West Virginia, have already deployed pilot programs enabling voting via a blockchain network to store and secure digital votes.

The threat of interference remains until we are on a secure nationwide election system. To preserve the democratic value of one person one vote, the U.S. must make the necessary security upgrades to prevent voter fraud, foreign influence campaigns and hacking of our election infrastructure. Federal legislation needs to be introduced to make this happen. Protecting our elections is a matter of national security, requiring immediate action and coordination at all levels of government.

 

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

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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.

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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

SecurityWAF

Access to Applications Based on a « Driving License » Model

July 18, 2018 — by Thomas Gobet0

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More and more countries are modifying their policies with a new “driving license” model.

With a classic license model, drivers can be caught frequently; they just have to pay a huge amount of money to the police each time.

Since this model has lot of limitations, it was changed to a “point-based model.” Either you begin with 0 points (and you increase it based on your “mistakes”) or your points decrease. Regardless of how the model works, you’re still allowed to drive if you have below a certain number of points on your license.