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.

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.

Trial Cisco Umbrella for 14 Days, completely free and no obligations!

If you have read the last few updates you should now have a deeper understanding of Cloud Security, that’s great! But what can YOU do about it? 

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.

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I made a call, the customer said no, but I loved it

 

We have been doing our cloud security blog now for a couple of weeks and decided to start to speak directly to some of the contacts who had been reading the blogs. I spoke to one contact from the legal sector (who shall remain nameless) who gave some very interesting feedback.

 

The bad news is that the call did not end up in a sale or a trial of the software, and they didn’t want to meet with us or try out any of our services so there is no fairy tale ending here.

 

What was more interesting was that the customer said about Umbrella cloud security and his current IT partner.

 

On the subject of Cisco Umbrella, he said they had been using it for over a year now and “it was absolutely brilliant”. The ability to automatically block bad domains and to investigate suspected threats was extremely good and he was very happy that they had decided to deploy the product.
Furthermore, he said it was introduced to him by their IT provider whom they have worked with for nearly 10 years now. He said it was a very strong partnership where they had offered an exceptional quality of service, they weren’t the cheapest but it would just be silly for them to look elsewhere at this stage because you get what you pay for and they certainly were getting very good value for money. He felt it would be silly of them to be looking to change under such circumstances. I said to him I hoped my customers felt the same way about the service we provide as we certainly strive to differentiate ourselves in this way. He thanked me for the call and we went t our separate ways.

 

Wow this is what I have been banging on about for what seems a lifetime, it’s not about being the cheapest or biggest, but rather about providing good value for money.

 

What was even more satisfying is the fact that he appreciated what we had been writing about in terms of cloud security and the importance of DNS security. He was totally happy with the Umbrella product and now couldn’t see them operating without it.

 

So I am really happy that though this customer said no to us, they endorsed what we believe and what we have been banging the drum about.

 

Protect yourself against 92% of malware threats that can be stopped at source via secure DNS. The free trial is waiting for you to just click the link and be up and running in 5 minutes. It will be the best cyber security click you’ve ever made.

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What Will You Pay? Costs of a Cyber Attack

What will you pay?

With a 750% increase in ransomware attacks in 2016, a first layer of defense is needed.

View the infographic for new proactive strategies with Cisco Umbrella and keep your business protected.

Click here to view the infographic

Take Control with CASB and DNS

Its been a cloudy blog of a fortnight (pardon the pun but I couldn’t help it). To summarise we have been looking at the changing IT landscape and the consequent change in the threat landscape. We then looked at how organisations need to change their approach to cloud security to address this new reality.

 

The age of digitisation is bringing about a dramatic change to the IT landscape. Digitisation is about new efficient ways of doing things at scale. It’s about automation and new ways of engagement with customers in a way that suits them and at a time that suits them.

 

Digitisation is turning century old industries on its head as new players emerge that are agile, visionary and creative at a rate it’s outpacing their peers.

 

The new IT landscape is about DevOps “scoring an end goal” around or despite IT. Being applied to conceive and deploy apps in a fraction of the time it used to take using a conventional approach. Its about using the cloud to take advantage of Infrastructure, Platform or Software as a Service and being able to globally scale an application.

 

The new IT landscape is also about anytime anywhere access for users/employees. Power is being devolved to branch offices because they need better connectivity to access their new apps in the cloud. Analysts are saying that approximately 50% of users now access their applications remotely and 25% actually work remotely.

 

We also need to factor the explosive growth of IoT and the pervasive use of mobile devices to access the web.

 

Digitisation is a bright new horizon but it also brings major security headaches. Some of these include;

  • A massive increase in cyber attack landscape, more devices, more apps, more points of access
  • Increase in the number of alerts security teams need to process and understand
  • More applications to monitor and manageLack of visibility in what users are doing and how they are using apps
  • The growth of shadow IT exposing corporate information and services to attacks
  • Outdated non-cloud savvy security relative to the emerging landscape

 

Cyber attackers have evolved in sophistication to keep apace of the changes in IT. They constantly evolve their exploits, they are offering attacks as a service, they are using cloud scale computing power as well. Cisco’s annual cyber security report identifies that the scale and sophistication of attacks have increased over the past 12 months.

 

Security teams need to evolve their approach to security making it cloud centric with the ability to protect users and data anywhere anytime. Remember cloud services still require organisations to take responsibility for the security of their data. Gartner has identified that 95% of data breaches will be the fault of the end user.

 

Some of the essential tools that security need to include in their new armoury include secure DNS services as well as CASB services. DNS will block access to malware sites before they happen, or if a machine has been infected, it will block the command and control call back. CASB has the ability to monitor user activity in the cloud, profile applications in use and prevent data leakage. Both tools can also provide invaluable visibility into the normal behaviour of users and trigger protective actions and alerts as and when behaviour varies from the norm.

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WHAT IS INCLUDED?

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  • Predictive intelligence — automates threat protection by uncovering attacks before they launch.
  • Worldwide coverage in minutes — no hardware to install or software to maintain.
  • Weekly security report — get a personalized summary of malicious requests & more, directly to your inbox.
  • 1,000+ users? — You’re eligible for the Umbrella Security Report, a detailed post-trial analysis.

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In the Cloud you need CASB: How to Secure the Cloud

We introduce another acronym yesterday, CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker) and we now expand on the features and benefits of deploying a CASB solution as we continue in our approach to cloud security. We noted in our previous blog that cloud security was a shared responsibility between service user and service provider. Gartner analysis indicates that by 2021, 27% of corporate data will bypass perimeter security. In addition by 2020, 95% of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault.

 

Cloud Umbrella, DNS, Firewall, Cloud Security, Data Breach

 

Securing the cloud will need a robust security approach which includes features such as the ones outlined below;

 

Cloud User Security

Attackers are defeating today’s security controls that rely on the network perimeter, firewalls, or a specific platform. Activities across platforms are not correlated, making it difficult to identify suspicious behavioural patterns. At the same time, security teams are inundated with alerts that lack priority, useful information, or context. Faced with a flood of unhelpful notifications, the legitimate security breaches get overlooked. This problem is magnified with the use of cloud applications and platforms, as organisations often have little visibility into the activities of their users in their cloud environments.
A CASB can analyse user and entity behaviour, using the analytics to profile behaviour and detect and respond to anomalies in real time, while alerting security teams.

 

Cloud Data Security

The number one cloud security concern for organisations is storing sensitive data in the cloud. 53% of organisations rated this top of their list. A CASB is an effective solution to address this by enabling tuneable policies to be deployed to monitor and provide data loss prevention. In the event of a policy violation, a CASB can initiate an automated response mechanism that can notify users, encrypt connections and quarantine data as necessary.

 

Cloud Applications Security

Unauthorised cloud applications is now a major security hole being exploited by cyber attacks. Discovery and security rating of cloud applications are therefore another essential feature that is needed to determine compliance with the organisations security policy. The ability to also block or whitelist applications may also be a necessary measure for compliance.

 

Correctly configured the CASB solution should provide the following benefits;

  • Detect and respond to compromised accounts
  • Detect and respond to malicious insiders
  • Monitor and secure privileged accounts
  • Protect sensitive data in the cloud
  • Enable compliance with cloud data
  • Gain full visibility into cloud app usage
  • Block cloud malware
  • Secure cloud marketplace apps

Securing SaaS Applications: How to Secure the Cloud

Security in the cloud is a shared responsibility: Cloud Security, DNS, IaaS PaaS Saas

 

More organisations are adopting a cloud strategy to leverage cloud services and enjoy the associated speed of development and deployment. One of the biggest challenges, however, is creating the balance that provides an appropriate level of governance over the use of cloud applications that still empowers users to leverage these services.

 

We recently highlighted a news article (read it here) about a tool that was able to trawl through Amazon Web servers and access potentially sensitive data hosted by a number of organisations. The tool highlighted flaws in the configuration of servers in the cloud. This is a good example possibly of a rush to deployment that left good cyber security practices behind.


In this blog series, we have discussed the need for a pervasive cloud centric cyber security approach that not just protects the user but also the data.

 

Cloud service providers are responsible for the security of their infrastructure, while organisations that use those services are responsible for user activities on top of that infrastructure. Cloud service providers will build security into their platforms and environment, however, if the data is being accessed by the wrong person or used inappropriately, they will not be aware of that. Additionally, they do not know what applications an organisation has approved or disallowed. 

 

The cloud centric security approach, therefore, needs to have extensive visibility of who is accessing applications and data and how they are using it. The security approach must have the ability to identify malicious infrastructure and protect sensitive data from it. Compromised accounts need to be identified as well as potential malicious insiders. The emerging security tool that addresses this security concern is the cloud access security broker (CASB).

 

A cloud access security broker helps organisations address a range of cloud security vulnerabilities by providing visibility into the applications in use, profiling them from a risk perspective, and enforcing policies especially around data loss prevention (DLP) and user activity.

 

A good CASB implementation will also provide for the retrospective discovery of sensitive data and malware in cloud applications. The CASB should also integrate with network based entities to give visibility into real time data, threats in motion, as well as preview historical use of cloud applications.

 

In our next episode, we will take a deeper look at CASB and how they can work more effectively with other security tools to secure the cloud.

Free eBook: 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 the eBook here!

What Next?

 

Trial Cisco Umbrella for 14 Days, completely free and no obligations!

If you have read the last few updates you should now have a deeper understanding of Cloud Security, that’s great! But what can YOU do about it? 

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).

So what have you got to lose? 

Click here to start your trial! 

See how easy Umbrella is to installwatch this video 

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

Block 82% of cyber threats before they get you: How to secure the cloud

Cloud Security DNS

In our previous blogs, we looked at the changing IT landscape and how cyber security protection needs to change to meet the new challenges and threats.

 

  • We know that cloud adoption in the form of SaaS is pervasive.
  • Remote working is the norm providing increased flexibility, costs savings, higher productivity and generally a happier workforce.
  • More power is being devolved to branch locations as they contribute more to an organisation’s success.
  • Branches need more speed and direct internet access to more efficiently support the adoption of cloud.
  • IoT connectivity is growing apace as is mobile device connectivity which is outpacing fixed devices.
  • Cyber threats are increasing in scale and sophistication and we have experienced a number of attacks on a global scale, this trend is likely to increase and accelerate.

 

The rapidly changing IT landscape characterizes a new era of digitisation where IT adoption and automation of business processes is happening at a scale rarely seen before. The changes are bringing about a paradigm shift in our approach to providing cyber security where we need to essentially provide continuous, pervasive protection for known and unknown threats. As we continue in this series we discuss some technological approaches to delivering pervasive cloud centric security.

 

Securing DNS

We are aware of the pivotal role of DNS in getting us connected to literally any service we need to access, whether via email, web or a bespoke application. 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 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.

 

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.

 

In our next blog, we will take a look at how SaaS applications can be used in conjunction with secure DNS.

 

Trial Cisco Umbrella for 14 Days, completely free and no obligations!

If you have read the last few updates you should now have a deeper understanding of Cloud Security, that’s great! But what can YOU do about it?

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).

So what have you got to lose?

Click here to start your trial! 

See how easy Umbrella is to instalwatch this video 

It Starts with Policy: How to Secure the Cloud

So now we have confirmed what we already knew, the era of digitisation is bringing unimaginable opportunities for business innovation and differentiation. The big BUT is that our traditional approach to securing IT assets needs to be transformed and be relevant for the emerging world of large scale remote working, cloud based applications and massive increases in connected devices.

 

Our starting point in addressing the new cyber security approach must be policy based. It is vital to have a policy that is agreed at Executive level. The policy needs to identify the risks to the business of compromised information systems which could result in severe financial loss and reputational damage. The importance of securing these systems and the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the organisation needs to be clearly communicated. Having an effective policy is also a necessary step not just for good governance but also an important step on the journey to meeting statutory requirements such as PCI or GDPR compliance.

 

The policy of necessity should look at all aspects of the day to day user access, processing and storage of information, identify the risks for each component and identify the controls that are necessary to mitigate that risk. In a previous blog we identified some of these key controls which include;

 

  • Education and Awareness: train users to adopt a security conscious culture
  • Securing Configurations: to protect systems from vulnerabilities
  • Secure Network Connectivity: follow industry best practices and design approaches
  • Managing User Privileges: ensure users do not have unnecessary privileges that can be exploited
  • Effective Incident Management: reduce the impact of a cyber breach and aid speedy resolution
  • Malware Prevention: ensure good anti-malware practices are implemented to prevent infection
  • Systems Monitoring: detect how systems are used and if they have been attacked
  • Remote working: ensure that an effective secure remote policy and controls are in place

 

All of the above controls (and some) will be necessary for GDPR compliance and an area that to date has often been ignored by SMBs is systems monitoring. This will certainly need to change with one requirement of GDPR for detailed breach notification.

 

The above policies and their associated controls could go a long way creating a more secure business environment that is able to mitigate risk before, during and after a cyber attack. So the simple message is that policy must underpin and be the foundation for any kind technology or people solution to security organisations from cyber breaches.

 

In the next edition of our blog, we will begin to explore what some of the technological solutions should look like and the benefits they could bring if correctly deployed.