Sunday, 23 July 2017
Its has been a while since we took time to thank you for reading our little blog. We have been running it now for 9 years, and it has been an absolute pleasure.
We have had some amazing moments. Thank you to everyone who has read our stories, and to people and companies who have supported us.
From the Silicon Ireland Team.
Saturday, 22 July 2017
2017 Midyear Cybersecurity Report (MCR) uncovers the rapid evolution of threats and the increasing magnitude of attacks, and forecasts potential “destruction of service” (DeOS) attacks. These could eliminate organizations’ backups and safety nets, required to restore systems and data after an attack. Also, with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), key industries are bringing more operations online, increasing attack surfaces and the potential scale and impact of these threats.
Recent cyber incidents such as WannaCry and Nyetya show the rapid spread and wide impact of attacks that look like traditional ransomware, but are much more destructive. These events foreshadow what Cisco is calling destruction of service attacks, which can be far more damaging,leaving businesses with no way to recover.
The Internet of Things continues to offer new opportunities for cybercriminals, and its security weaknesses, ripe for exploitation, will play a central role in enabling these campaigns with escalating impact. Recent IoT botnet activity already suggests that some attackers may be laying the foundation for a wide-reaching, high-impact cyber-threat event that could potentially disrupt the Internet itself.
Measuring effectiveness of security practices in the face of these attacks is critical. Cisco tracks progress in reducing “time to detection” (TTD), the window of time between a compromise and the detection of a threat. Faster time to detection is critical to constrain attackers’ operational space and minimize damage from intrusions. Since November 2015, Cisco decreased its median time-to-detection (TTD) from just over 39 hours to about 3.5 hours for the period from November 2016 to May 2017. This figure is based on opt-in telemetry gathered from Cisco security products deployed worldwide.
Threat Landscape: What’s Hot and What’s Not
Cisco security researchers watched the evolution of malware during the first half of 2017 and identified shifts in how adversaries are tailoring their delivery, obfuscation and evasion techniques. Specifically, Cisco saw they increasingly require victims to activate threats by clicking on links or opening files. They are developing fileless malware that lives in memory and is harder to detect or investigate as it is wiped out when a device restarts. Finally adversaries are relying on anonymized and decentralized infrastructure, such as a Tor proxy service, to obscure command and control activities.
While Cisco has seen a striking decline in exploit kits, other traditional attacks are seeing a resurgence:
- Spam volumes are significantly increasing, as adversaries turn to other tried-and-true methods, like email, to distribute malware and generate revenue. Cisco threat researchers anticipate that the volume of spam with malicious attachments will continue to rise while the exploit kit landscape remains in flux.
- Spyware and adware, often dismissed by security professionals as more nuisance than harm, are forms of malware that persist and bring risks to the enterprise. Cisco research sampled 300 companies over a four-month period and found that three prevalent spyware families infected 20 percent of the sample. In a corporate environment, spyware can steal user and company information, weaken the security posture of devices and increase malware infections.
- Evolutions in ransomware, such as the growth of Ransomware-as-a-Service, make it easier for criminals, regardless of skill set, to carry out these attacks. Ransomware has been grabbing headlines and reportedly brought in more than $1 billion in 2016, but this may be misdirecting some organizations, who face an even greater, underreported threat. Business email compromise (BEC), a social engineering attack in which an email is designed to trick organizations into transferring money to attackers, is becoming highly lucrative. Between October 2013 and December 2016, $5.3 billion was stolen via BEC, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Unique Industries Face Common Challenges
As criminals continue to increase the sophistication and intensity of attacks, businesses across industries are challenged to keep up with even foundational cybersecurity requirements. As Information Technology and Operational Technology converge in the Internet of Things, organizations struggle with visibility and complexity. As part of its Security Capabilities Benchmark Study, Cisco surveyed close to 3,000 security leaders across 13 countries and found that across industries, security teams are increasingly overwhelmed by the volume of attacks. This leads many to become more reactive in their protection efforts.
- No more than two-thirds of organizations are investigating security alerts. In certain industries (such as healthcare and transportation), this number is closer to 50 percent.
- Even in the most responsive industries (such as finance and healthcare), businesses are mitigating less than 50 percent of attacks they know are legitimate.
- Breaches are a wake-up call. Across most industries, breaches drove at least modest security improvements in at least 90 percent of organizations. Some industries (such as transportation) are less responsive, falling just above 80 percent.
Important findings per industry include:
- Public Sector – Of threats investigated, 32 percent are identified as legitimate threats, but only 47 percent of those legitimate threats are eventually remediated.
- Retail – Thirty-two percent said they’d lost revenue due to attacks in the past year with about one-fourth losing customers or business opportunities.
- Manufacturing – Forty percent of the manufacturing security professionals said they do not have a formal security strategy, nor do they follow standardized information security policy practices such as ISO 27001 or NIST 800-53.
- Utilities – Security professionals said targeted attacks (42 percent) and advanced persistent threats, or APTs (40 percent), were the most critical security risks to their organizations.
- Healthcare – Thirty-seven percent of the healthcare organizations said that targeted attacks are high-security risks to their organizations.
Friday, 21 July 2017
AMI, Ireland’s leading secure IT retirement company, today reveals the results of a survey of senior IT decision-makers in Ireland, which found that almost one-third (32%) of organisations that use third-party IT retirement companies may be exposed to huge fines under the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation. The companies admitted that they do not receive formal confirmation from their providers that their data has been completely erased.
The survey reveals that many Irish companies have overlooked the risk posed by failing to properly dispose of end-of-life IT assets. Some 47% of those surveyed stated that they manage data-destruction themselves and wipe or physically destroy data on site. As well as this, a quarter of respondents said that end-of-life IT assets remain on their premises for more than one year, highlighting that many organisations do not have established processes in place for managing the disposal of old IT equipment.
Despite these practices, the majority of organisations accept that the consequences of data theft from a retired device would be very grave, with 77% of those surveyed stating that it would have a serious effect on their company. Of those companies, 8% believe that their company would be forced to cease trading as a result.
Of those organisations that do have established processes for handling end-of-life assets, just over half (52%) send retired assets to a third-party specialist. A further 43% donate the equipment to employees, schools or charities.
For this reason, it’s clear why 71% of respondents say that security of data disposal is their most important consideration when it comes to choosing a means of disposal for data-bearing devices.
GDPR will introduce more stringent guidelines around where data flows and how it is processed. In the event of a data breach or compromise, companies who are unable to account for the whereabouts of their data could face fines of up to 4% of global turnover or €20 million, depending on which is greater. This will require companies to closely review supplier processes and policies to safeguard their interests. However, according to the survey results, 39% of those who work with a third-party IT retirement provider never audit the provider’s security processes.
The survey also found that despite the significant value of old IT equipment, 70% of businesses say that they don’t recover any value when retiring old assets. More than half of these (37%) would consider it in the future.
Philip McMichael, managing director, AMI, said: “It is extremely clear from the results of this survey that Irish organisations are leaving themselves vulnerable at the end-of-life stage by failing to securely manage the retirement of their old IT assets. Companies need to establish processes for disposing of this equipment and dramatically reduce the amount of time that it spends in storage, as this increases the risk of data going missing. It also devalues the equipment, so it’s in companies’ own interest to manage this process effectively.
It’s interesting to see that so many companies claim to manage and carry out data destruction themselves as this is a specialist security process that requires advanced tools to ensure that data-bearing equipment is erased to the most stringent global standards. Unless companies have trained specialists in place using the correct software and carrying out data erasures, they should reassess their ability to carry out this process themselves and align themselves with a specialist IT retirement provider.
Those that do work with IT retirement companies need to ensure that they receive formal confirmation that their data has been destroyed, as organisations that are happy to hand over data-bearing devices without a certification process in place are putting themselves at real risk of a data breach.
Companies that work with an IT retirement specialist can benefit from the creation of a new revenue stream that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as upgrading IT equipment or even charitable donation. However, the primary focus for Irish organisations now has to be plugging the security gap stemming from current and past failings to securely tackle IT retirement.”
Posted by Editor in Chief at 20:42