Infographic: Secure remote working with DNS

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What can you do to mitigate the risks associated with “off-network” access to sensitive data and applications?

According to a recent IDG Research Services report, roaming workstyles are the new norm. Workers are dispersed, on the move and increasingly blending their work and personal lives. Unfortunately, they’re also bypassing corporate VPNs to get their work — and personal business — done; and traditional security measures are falling short.

The best way to counter rogue activity is with DNS-layer security that’s always-on … just like your end-users.

Today’s workers are using laptops and other mobile devices for anytime, anywhere access to corporate networks and to conduct their own personal business. VPN usage is necessary but not always mandatory; and
end-users readily admit to bypassing that security precaution.

  • 45% using their laptops outside the office at least 50% of the time
  • 20% using their laptops outside the office 100% of the time
  • 61% used online banking
  • 51% visited social media sites
  • 52% watched videos
  • Only 16% must log onto a VPN in order to access the internet
  • 82% have browsed the internet without logging into the VPN

Virtually all have gone around the VPN for one reason or another
“I would rather NOT use the VPN as it is slower…”— End-user

Traditional approaches to security — firewalls, proxy servers and anti-virus solutions — are simply not enough to avoid off-network security issues.

Extremely concerned all about enabling your workforce while protecting your business against off-network activity. By adding an always on DNS-layer of security in the cloud, we can help safeguard devices on and off your corporate network, prevent malicious traffic and payloads from reaching
their target, and even apply learnings from internet activity patterns.

Our solution is easy to deploy, transparent to end-users and lightweight to devices — everything you need to quickly and efficiently shore up your network.

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DNS Security Guide: the centre of cloud security

Remote working: Cloud Security, DNS, Branches

DNS is the most ubiquitous protocol on the Internet and is deployed in literally every connection that takes place whether surfing a website, watching YouTube videos or accessing corporate cloud applications. This ubiquitous use of DNS means that it is also involved in some very undesirable connections to sites like malware sites, known bad sites, command and control centres etc. Other attacks have involved data exfiltration in packets disguised as DNS.

 

The fact that DNS is involved in around 92% of web attacks strongly suggests that it is an area that is worthy of further efforts in the fight against cyber-attacks. DNS is one of those protocols that just works in the background like a utility and as long as resolution is working then no one pays attention to it.

 

DNS is a lynch pin, if it doesn’t work then most applications will stop working and the IT services will grind to a halt. It is vital therefore that DNS gets more prominence and is monitored and secured to ensure continued running of services. It has a pivotal role in getting us connected to literally any service we need to access, whether via email, web or a bespoke application.

 

Here are some numbers though that tell us not only what’s happening but also some concerns that we need to have at the forefront of our minds:

 

  • 82% of mobile workers admit they always turn off their VPN
  • 15% of command and control threats evades web security
  • 60% of attackers penetrate an organisation in minutes and steal data in hours
  • 100 days is the average detection time for an attack
  • 100% of networks interact with malware sites
  • 92% of attacks make use of DNS

 

Clearly, there is a wide range of threats that organisations need to address in crafting and implementing an effective approach to cyber security. One area that has and is receiving very little attention is the area of DNS.

 

DNS is a service we always make use of. So how can securing a simple background process like DNS have a dramatic effect on an organisation’s cyber security posture?

 

DNS Monitoring

DNS monitoring and the implementation of an active security policy that cannot be circumvented by staff can have untold security benefits. Such an approach could be used to block malware and phishing attacks in real time as opposed to after the event. Also, the use of DNS to resolve requests for known malware sites could also prevent attacks before they happen.

 

The DNS controls could hold a regularly updated list of known malware sites and block devices from accessing these sites. Active monitoring could also provide valuable information about whose machine has been compromised and where they are connecting from.

 

DNS monitoring can also provide a baseline of what normal behaviour looks like for your organisation. Anomalous behaviour is, therefore, easier to detect and acted on. A number of high profiles sites such as Tesla, that have been hacked could have been prevented if the DNS records were being monitored and these organisations were then able to detect and block changes to their DNS records.

 

Visibility of who is connecting to what site is also a great benefit of DNS monitoring. The explosive growth of IoT devices poses significant threats if they are not properly secured. DNS security could play a vital role by enforcing policy e.g. if the CCTV network should be blocked from Internet access, DNS security controls could prevent these devices being used as a backdoor that could be used for malware propagation or data exfiltration.

 

Failing to monitor and control DNS is a lost opportunity not only to secure your organisation’s network but also to gain visibility into who is doing what.

 

An important service in addition to the above is the ability to query domains and file hashes from a central intelligence platform that has up to the minute data on the bad domains so that your security incident response team has the ability to conduct intelligent investigations independently of any infections. For instance if you keep doing a DNS query for a site in Russia and you don’t have any business relationship in Russia, that’s something that you should query.

 

DNS and Remote Working

Adoption of cloud based technology and the proliferation of remote working is driving a new approach to security that needs to be omnipresent providing the highest practical levels of cyber security for the user, the network and the data.

 

The decentralised nature of organisations due to remote working and the increasing importance of branch offices is another security challenge organisations are facing. Mobile devices such as laptops are the primary devices where user changes could compromise security. Around 80% of remote workers disable their VPNs when they browse the web.

 

Therefore, a DNS based security mechanism can help to maintain the security posture where these remote workers able to still make use of this form of protection even when they disable their VPNs. DNS security can protect any device including IoT, guest devices and roaming clients.

 

Remote Working: Cloud Security, DNS

Security Internet Gateway

Security analysts such as Gartner and IDC have a new security term that is relevant to this emerging security environment and have coined it the Security Internet Gateway. The principle function of the Secure Internet Gateway is to secure the cloud environment in the same way that we secure the on-premises environment.

 

Implementing a security platform in the cloud will break the limitations and constraints of centralised solutions. The security must be flexible in line with user access, virtualised to deliver security wherever it is needed and extend beyond just securing web protocols such as http and https.

 

Most security vendors now offer cloud based security solutions and in many instances what they have done is taken a conventional security component such as Anti-Virus or Web Proxy services and deployed it in the cloud. While this may be a good start, a range of other technologies need also to be included in the security stack deployed to protect users and data.

 

When users connect to the web they must immediately undergo inspection and policy enforcement to ensure their connection is being done in a secure manner. These may include but not limited to;

 

  • Visibility and enforcement of policy on or off VPN
  • Security against threats from all ports and protocols
  • Inspection of web traffic and file inspection including behavioural sandboxing
  • Live threat intelligence from global internet activity with near real time updates
  • Visibility and control of SaaS applications

 

Clearly no single solution can provide all of these components, but a Secure Internet Gateway correctly specified could go a long way to providing many of these security measures. Secure DNS must be a major component of the functionality of Secure gateway because of its ability to stop a large swathe of attacks before they reach the user or the data.

 

DNS Security Protection

An effective DNS security protection control can have the ability to identify the endpoints attempting the malware connection and therefore feed into the clean-up and mitigation plan.

 

Analysis has shown that most ransomware does a DNS call back, ransomware payment notification also uses DNS. The ability therefore to block a malware connection via DNS security at one or another step of the malware execution process can therefore prove to be the most effective way to implement malware protection.

 

DNS security can act as a form of perimeter security where the perimeter is pushed back to the source of the cyber threat. So the threat is initially blocked at the source or its point of origin. How this works is that the DNS points to a secure DNS service with up to date threat domain intelligence and machine learning that discovers and protects against emerging threats. Remember that 100% of organisations interact with known malware domains. Securing DNS will instantly block these connections as they are requested, as well as blocking future domains that have been identified as malware hosts.

 

Correct implementation of DNS security could make it the first line of defence even before a connection is established by checking the DNS request and blocking bad sites. This will help the IT teams by freeing them up from a large number of alerts that would be generated if the malware had been downloaded.

 

If a previously infected device connects to the network or service, secure DNS will block the command and control call back to the malware domain and notify the security team.

 

This level of security is highly scalable in that it can be provided for an individual roaming client, a branch site or the organisation’s principle location.

 

Another useful feature is the ability to track normal behaviour for your organisation in terms of the rate and volume of requests over time. Anomalous behaviour can then be detected by comparing significant changes in normal behaviour.

 

A secure DNS solution will also provide detailed information about the malware domain such as IP addresses, associated domains and attacks associated with these domains. A robust, secure DNS solution could also provide a data feed into other security components in the organisation, thus sharing security updates that can be actioned elsewhere in the security stack.

 

 

Cyber Risk Assessment– get good at it

Today’s reliance on IT technology is unparalleled and will only increase. While some businesses are pondering the benefits of IoT deployment or bespoke business applications, others are ploughing ahead and pioneering their initiatives. Some of these initiatives are stuttering and some are big winners that have transformed their business. Digitisation and it’s attendant benefits is the new game in town and it is not going away soon.  

The constant question that new initiatives will always raise is, what about cyber security? These new initiatives also need to be balanced against new compliance regimes such as GDPR which can levy punitive fines for breaches involving sensitive personal data. IoT means a greater footprint or attack surface; a new cloud application means potential exposure of data or the possibility of unauthorised access. While these risks and others exist, this should not hinder businesses taking advantage of the potentially major opportunities from digitization. What is therefore of paramount importance is a way to effectively assess and mitigate the risk from these initiatives and other IT activities that will enable the businesses to safely adopt new technology. 

 

Cyber security is everyone’s concern 

Cyber security is no longer just an IT issue, now it is definitely everyone’s concern. Responsibility is now being devolved as applications move to the cloud. More departments are involved in selecting and implementing their apps, therefore they also need to have security at the forefront in both the selection and operational processes. 

 

Comply with regulation or become extinct 

Regulation is now gaining real teeth and therefore compliance is no longer an optional nuisance. Consider the Carphone Warehouse breaches recently. If the recent 6m records breach occurred under the watch of GDPR, the fine could be a whopping £428m, compared with the max £500k fine which could have been levied under the previous Data Protection Act. Compliance is now an imperative and failure could mean business extinction due to the punitive fines.  Compliance should be seen as an opportunity to get your business in shape in which case everyone benefits. 

 

Cyber risk assessment is a specialism 

Change is another constant in IT, therefore risk assessment should be constant and continuous. Oftentimes risk assessments are left till the end of an initiative when in fact it should feature right at the beginning and be a part of the “go/no go” decision. If risk assessment is built into project implementation, the end result will definitely look a lot better than if it were an after thought. The struggle is to find the skills where there is a good understanding of IT risk management. It is an area where businesses need to invest in training staff at all levels of the organisation. 

 

Risk assessment and mitigation needs to be a continuous process where all departments in a business are engaged in continuing assessment, monitoring and improvement of the risk exposure.  

 

An interesting development in this light is a joint solution offered by Aon, Apple, Cisco and Allianz. The components of the solution include the following; 

  • Risk Assessment with a target output of an analysis of the businesses level of insurability, its security posture with recommendations on how to correct any gaps.  
  • Those wishing to improve their security posture receive a plan that includes an enterprise ransomware solution incorporating, advanced email security, endpoint protection and DNS layer security.  
  • The business will also deploy Apple MacOS and iOS endpoints.  
  • Businesses choosing this solution will receive favourable terms from Allianz who consider this combination to be a more secure solution.  

 

While it may not be practical for all businesses to adopt this solution, the method/approach is a useful indication of a what can be done. The importance things is the assessment needs to be continuous and reflect the status of the business and it’s use of IT at any point in time which of course is a moving goal post.

7 infographics from the Cisco 2018 Cyber Security Report explained

In our final part of Cisco’s 68 page 2018 Annual Cyber Security Report, we summarise the key findings and highlight the main takeaways contained in the report.
While most of the information is already known, put in context it gives a thorough view of the changing landscape and importantly identifies some of the steps that Information Security teams could take to mitigate the growing risk.
The reports highlights include;
  • Self-propagating ransomware is a growing trend
  • Legitimate cloud platforms are increasingly being exploited for cyber attacks
  • Cyber attackers are exploiting gaps in security coverage as organisations move to the cloud
  • Lack of skilled cyber security staff is a growing problem
  • Security is more effective when policies governing technology, processes and people are synced
  • Scalable cloud security, advanced endpoint protection and threat intelligence can be deployed to reduce the cyber threat risk
According to the Cisco report, cyber attackers are amassing their techniques and capabilities at an unprecedented scale.
Ransomware is the most profitable form of malware and has evolved into self-propagating network based cryptoworms as witnessed by Nyetya
and WannaCry. These ransomware variants took down whole regions and
sectors of infrastructure such as the Ukraine and the NHS.
Cyber attackers are weaponizing the cloud and using legitimate cloud services from well known vendors such as Google, Amazon, Twitter to host and conduct malware attacks. They are in fact capitalising on the benefits of cloud platforms such as security, agility, scalability and good reputation, oftentimes repurposing their sites before they are detected.
Cyber attackers are exploiting gaps in security coverage including IoT and cloud services especially where the organisation has not extended their security controls to include securing users and data in the cloud. Another growing obstacle to more effective cyber security is lack of skilled cyber security personal and inadequate budgets.
Cisco’s report also provides some essential guidance that organisations
should adopt in order to meet the growing challenge and provide more effective cyber security protection. Some of these measures include;
  • Implementing scalable cloud security solutions
  • Ensuring alignment of corporate policies for technology, applications and processes
  • Implementing network segmentation, advanced endpoint security and incorporating threat intelligence into security monitoring
  • Reviewing and practising security response procedures
  • Adopting advanced security solutions that include AI and machine learning especially where encryption is used to evade detection
While the security report is essential reading for all personnel responsible for an organisations information assets, in many areas it reiterates what we have been hearing about in the news and trade publications. The essential call to action is really to make a good start by doing the essentials. If you have already done this, then keep testing, refining and improving your cyber security posture.

5 Takeaways from the Cisco 2018 Annual Cyber Security Report

Cisco Annual Cybersecurity Report 2018

Cloud abuse on the rise according to Cisco Security Report

Cisco’s Annual Cyber Security Report 2018 provides an insightful account into the changing cyber security landscape. This article summarises some findings of the report pertaining to cloud security.
Some main take aways from the report that will be discussed in this blog include:
  • Legitimate cloud services such as Twitter and Amazon being used by attackers to scale their activities
  • Machine-Learning is being used to capture download behaviour
  • Cloud Security is a shared responsibility between organisations and its provider
  • There is an increase of belief in the benefits of cloud security
  • Cloud abuse is on the rise
According to the report, increased security was the principle reason security professionals gave for organisations deciding to host corporate applications in the cloud.
Fifty seven percent believe the cloud offers better data security
Organisations who have a security operations team are likely to have a well defined cloud security approach that may include the adoption of Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) as they deploy to the cloud.
Many smaller organisations however are adopting cloud services without a clear security strategy, there is therefore a blurring of the security boundaries where many organisations are not certain about where their responsibilities end and where the responsibility of the cloud provider starts.
Security in the cloud is a shared responsibility: Cloud Security, DNS, IaaS PaaS Saas
Security in the cloud is a shared responsibility
Cyber attackers are increasingly taking advantage of this blurring of the boundaries to exploit systems.
An increasing trend amongst cyber attackers is to use legitimate cloud services to host malware and command and control infrastructure. Public clouds that have been used for malware activity include Amazon, Google, DropBox and Microsoft.
This makes it doubly difficult for security teams to identify bad domains and take protective measures without risking significant commercial impact caused by denying user access to legitimate business services.
Examples of legitimate services abused by malware for C2
The misuse of legitimate services is attractive to cyber attackers for a number of reasons;
  • Easy to register a new account and set up a web page
  • Adopt use of legitimate SSL certificate
  • Services can be adapted and transformed on the fly
  • Reuse of domain and resources for multiple malware campaigns
  • Less likely that infrastructure will be ‘burned’ (service can just be taken down) with little evidence of its purpose
  • Reduce overhead for attacker and better return on investment
Cyber attackers are effectively using legitimate and well known cloud infrastructure with their attendant benefits; ease of scale, trusted brand and secure features such as SSL. This enables them to scale their activity with less likelihood of detection if current protection methods are retained.
The challenges posed for the security teams defending organisations from these new threats call for a more sophisticated approach because in effect you need to block services that users are trying to access for legitimate work such as Amazon or Dropbox. Furthermore, the legitimate services are encrypted and so malware will be encrypted and evade most forms of threat inspection techniques– the threat will only become apparent after it has been activated on a host.
Intelligent cloud security tools will need to be deployed to help identify malware domains and sub-domains using legitimate cloud services. Such tools can also be used to further analyse related malware characteristics such as associated IP addresses, related domains and the registrant’s details.
An emerging and valuable approach to detect anomalous behaviour is machine learning.
Machine learning algorithms can be used to characterise normal user activity, unusual activity can be identified, and action taken automatically.
Machine-learning algorithms capture user download behaviour 2017
To meet the range of challenges presented by cloud adoption,
organisations need to apply a combination of best practices, advanced security technologies, and some experimental methodologies especially where they need to overcome the use of legitimate services by cyber attackers.

Would you like to learn more? Claim your Free copy of our latest eBook “A View of the Cyber Threat Landscape”. Click here.

What’s HOT What’s NOT: Cyber Security 2018

What are the main cyber security trends and focus areas for IT Managers and Chief Security Officers so far in 2018?

One thing we know for sure is that cyber security won’t be taking a lower profile as IT embeds itself at the core of organisations becoming a true business enabler.
IT is at the core of organisations and if there is a glitch then the business impact is profound. It is therefore beneficial to be able to focus limited resources and efforts on the priorities that will really
make the biggest difference.
 So the question is what will be HOT and what will NOT in 2018. The list below, while not being exhaustive, gives a focus on what you should be prioritising.

 HOT

  • GDPR
  • Ransomware
  • Cloud

NOT

  • Anti-Virus
  • VPNs

HOT: GDPR

25th May 2018 is the date the GDPR will come into force. The regulation will affect literally every organisation that holds personal data. With the increasing regulatory powers for investigation and enforcement, firms not complying with the regulation could face severe penalties.
GDPR must, therefore, be high on the list of business priorities and a comprehensive approach to GDPR compliance will necessitate a comprehensive review of policy, process and technology.
In a recent article we discovered that 52% of medium sized business have NOT made changes/prepared for GDPR!

NOT: Anti-Virus

In the face of the new breed of sophisticated, adaptable forms of cyber attacks, traditional Anti-Virus is becoming redundant. The approach of traditional Anti-Virus which is based of signatures relies on threats having been detected and updates being propagated to clients before an attack occurs.
Organisations need multiple layers of protection to stand any chance of detecting and blocking new threats some of which can dynamically probe and adapt to the host environment.
Anti-Virus is still essential especially if it also monitors for abnormal behaviour, however if it is your primary line of defence, expect the worst, as Robert Mueller says, you will be attacked, depending solely on Anti-Virus increases the likelihood of it happen sooner and more frequent.

Related Resources

HOT: Ransomware

2017 saw the spread of global ransomware variants Wannacry and Nyetya. Wannacry made significant parts of the NHS powerless while Nyetya caused major losses for businesses. Fedex counted losses in excess of $300m and at one stage had to resort to WhatsApp for internal communications due to compromised email systems.
The ransomware ‘business model’ has stepped up a notch with it being made available to buy as a service. The avatar of the attacker has suddenly changed from a stereotypical hoody wearing geek to just about anyone who can pay with some Bitcoin.
Ransomware has been the most profitable form of cyber attack to date and franchising it just made it cement it’s pole position as the number one threat in 2018.

Related Resources

NOT: VPNs

Statistics indicate that nearly 50% of workforces are mobile, meaning they access their organisation’s IT applications from remote locations to the organisation’s offices. The ubiquitous VPN has been the secure way of connecting.
 With the various flavours and increasing range of users requiring connections, VPNs are becoming a greater management overhead and an increasing security risk especially if the controls are not kept up to date with the threats.
A need for a more sophisticated and granular method of providing remote access is emerging where users are connected only to what they require, when they require it and furthermore their security posture is established even before they are allowed any connectivity.

Cloud: HOT

Organisations having realised the benefits of cloud adoption have embraced it while mitigating the risks as best they can. The benefits of the cloud in many instances include lower operational costs, agility, increased resilience and scalability.
Cloud adoption is also well suited to the growth of a mobile workforce who need anytime anywhere access to their applications. Securing the cloud data and user access is however an area of cloud implementation that is emerging as a focus area that businesses have not paid sufficient attention to.
Technologies such as secure DNS and the secure Internet gateway are solutions that are highly likely to gain a lot of traction as organisations audit and protect cloud connectivity from a range of emerging cyber threats.

Related Resources

There will inevitably be questions about security topics such as BlockChain, IoT and Phishing just to name a few. Let us know how your list wouldn’t be different.

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We are offering a 14 day trial of Cisco Umbrella, the industry’s first Secure Internet Gateway in the cloud.

Cisco Umbrella provides the first line of defence against threats on the internet. Because Umbrella is delivered from the cloud, it is the easiest way to protect all of your users in minutes.

It takes no time to install and you don’t have to provide any payment details (or even have a phone call).

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A View of the Cybercrime Threat Landscape

Download: A View of the Cybercrime Threat Landscape

$2,235,018 per year

The average amount SMBs spent in the aftermath of a
cyber attack or data breach due to damage or theft of IT
assets and disruption to normal operations.

 

The amount is staggering, and enough to jeopardize the viability of
many companies. Yet the business benefits that come with the internet,
Cloud computing and other applications are impossible to forego
and remain competitive.

 

That’s why business owners and executives are asking one question:

  • Is our internet safe?

 

If your service provider can’t demonstrate how it is making you
company less likely to become a victim of cybercrime, then it is time
to consider alternatives.

 

In this eBook, we’ll outline what companies are up against
today, and how Cisco Umbrella can help bring you peace of mind.

Download: A View of the Cybercrime Threat Landscape

The Changing Face of IT Security

We recently held a seminar on the subject of Cyber Security and the changing threat landscape. The event was very well received by the attendees and covered a number of areas that resonated with them.

 

Topics covered during the event included ;

The cyber security threat landscape covered by James Barrett who is the Cyber Security Lead in Cisco’s Commercial teams. James has over 10 years experience in the security space. He outlined some key developments that affect organisations and are worthy of consideration as they map out or refine their Cyber Security strategy. In light of recent cyber attacks the impact, particularly financial is becoming more severe. One recent example is the Equifax hack which resulted in a 40% fall in the company valuation as well as the resignation of the most senior executives. The recent Nyeta/Wannacry attack resulted in losses totalling in excess of $350m for FedEx who at one stage they were so severely degraded they resorted to WhatsApp for internal communications.

 

James also mentioned the increased talent gap of over 1.5m cyber security professionals globally with this number set to increase. The landscape is further complicated by the proliferation of security products many of which do not work effectively together. In order to gain the right balance and capability of deployed security technology, it was essential to view security from the perspective of an integrated architecture. Such an approach provides for a more comprehensive security solution that shares intelligence between all touchpoints of the information and systems network, whether they are located on premise, in the cloud or remotely. James explained how the need for integration had driven Cisco’s security acquisition strategy.

 

An example of this is their AMP (Anti-Malware Protection) engine which has been fully integrated with a wide range of their platforms such Meraki MX Security gateway, ISR router, ASA Firewall, on the Web and Email security devices, on endpoints and Umbrella in the Cloud. This effectively provides the same Anti-Malware capability on clients on and off net as well as a network based service on premise or in the cloud. All these instances benefit from the collective intelligence gained by their large pool of threat researchers, as well as analysis of 100TB of daily telemetry and tens of millions of users.

 

James concluded by focusing on the question of where organisations could start. Some options included;

  • Stop Threats at the Edge
  • Protect Users wherever they work
  • Control Who gets onto the network
  • Simplify Network Segmentation
  • Find and Contain Problems Fast

Any option would be a good start and other options could be added progressively to eventually achieve a comprehensive and integrated approach to Cyber Security.

 

The second speaker for the event was Ali Wadi who works within the OpenDNS Division (now Umbrella) of Cisco. Ali while being a real larger than life and entertaining character communicated the importance of DNS in cyber attacks in very practical terms. He broke it down into concepts that were easy to understand and highly relatable.

 

Important takeaways include;

  • 92% of cyber attacks involve DNS services
  • 100% of organisations interact with known Malware sites
  • Umbrella essentially stops cyber threats in the Internet before they reach the network perimeter – similar to stopping a criminal at their doorstep instead of waiting for them to get to your doorstep
  • The Umbrella solution could be deployed in a matter of minutes
  • It profiles normal behaviour and flags up unusual behaviour
  • It automatically blocks known malware sites, and IP addresses with a poor reputation

Ali included a demonstration of Umbrella which included views of the portal traffic and behaviour of a period of time demonstration how easy it was to identify some anomalies.

 

The event host Ajani Bandele, Managing Consultant at NetworkIQ, by way of introduction outlined some of the developments in digitisation and corresponding Cyber Security threats. Some points covered included;

  • Digitisation impacts on virtually all organisations
  • Adoption of cloud by 80% organisations by end of 2018
  • 10 billion IoT devices by 2020
  • 25% users now connecting remotely

All these factors serve to dramatically increase the attack surface available to cyber criminals who have an ever growing toolkit. Also, the cyber attackers are developing a business model which provides threats such as malware and ransomware as a service. Ajani advised that a sensible security approach would be to ensure that a multi-layered approach is taken to security that effectively manages known types of threats but also is agile and comprehensive enough to respond to unknown and emerging threats.

 

Ajani also presented a case study based on the trade union PCS who needed to beef up their cyber security to meet new regulatory requirements as well as fill internal skills gaps. PCS conducted a trial of an advanced threat management solution which highlights some unknown threats and also provided an extremely detailed insight into their traffic and user profile. The solution deployed by NetworkIQ helped them further secure their network providing 24/7 proactive threat management and reporting capabilities.

 

The event received overall good feedback from the attendees and NetworkIQ will be organising a webinar soon to further look at the risk posed by DNS and how this could be addressed.

The true financial costs of a security breach

IT security is critical to protecting those elements of business that you work so hard to secure – goodwill, a solid reputation and consumer trust (as well as avoiding the things that can threaten to damage your company irrevocably, such as bad publicity that endures). Looking beyond these business risks, there lies a wealth of data that provides a window into the true financial costs of an IT breach – and if we begin with the fact that UK businesses faced costs of £29bn from cybercrime in 2016 alone, we come to realise that never has the threat of cyberattacks loomed so large on the horizon for UK companies (ITGovernance).

The (staggering) costs of recovery

Whilst many businesses still consider robust security as simply an unnecessary or overinflated cost, the alternative is what can be truly costly. For UK SME’s, the average malware attack represented a bill of £10,516 in time and money spent following a breach. What makes this figure even more staggering, is the fact that two-thirds of all UK businesses have been impacted by a cyber breach in the last twelve months alone (Government). For large UK companies, the costs of recovery have averaged out to £4.1 million.

When looking to the transnational brand names, we also see that no company is immune to the potential of an attack. TalkTalk faced a £60m recovery bill (that’s notably still rising), in addition to a fall in their share price of 30%; not only this, but the brand’s profits are down as they’ve battle to stem the flow of a mass exodus of customers (to date over 100,000 customers have left TalkTalk).

Across the Atlantic, retailer Target were forced to build an entirely new cyber centre – a move that was inevitable following $118 million in lawsuits filed by banks, card issuers and customers after 40 million credit card numbers were stolen.

Facing regulatory fines (and the bad press that accompanies it)

As of 2015 the UK Government reported that they’d collected a record breaking £1.4bn in regulatory fines (each of which had a maximum of £500,000 [pwc]). Yet even these figures may soon just be the tip of the iceberg, as EU GDPR legislation is set to come into effect as of 2018, with estimates that UK companies could then be stumping up as much as £122bn.

Whilst these figures are incredible, there’s a cost that accompanies them that isn’t directly monetary – and that’s the loss of goodwill. Put simply, the bad press that comes along with such fines can be nothing short of business breaking. For more insight into the business implications of a breach outside of financial costs, read last our previous blog: The business risks of a cyber breach.

The potential for business closure

In some cases, the costs of a security breach are untenable. Code Spaces, Nirvanix and MyBizHomepage are all prime examples of companies that folded due to security breaches. Notably, the latter company was once worth $100 million – and despite a $1 million attempt to right the wrongs of the breach, the company still folded. What’s more it’s not merely financial gain that attackers set their sights on, as was the case with Ashley Madison (the extramarital affair ‘hook-up’ website), the result of which has been many a divorce case (and a situation that many experts predict Ashley Madison won’t wriggle out of).

What next?

We help businesses of all shapes and sizes in protecting their vital IT assets. For a consultation with our team as to how we can help protect you from a cyber breach, simply get in touch for a free, no-obligation conversation. Alternatively, our free downloadable guide offers more insight into avoiding (and surviving) a cyber-attack.