From Vulnerability Found, To Patched Safe

 

While we are preparing for the holidays and the New Year, may it be Christmas/ Hanukkah or otherwise, the hackers are also busy prepping for their busiest time of the year. Although the Holidays is a season to be jolly, it is not a reason to slack off in keeping up with your Cyber Security.

The following image shows a potential timeline of when a vulnerability is found, disclosed to public, Anti-virus software rewritten, patch released, and patch installed.

Notice there is a number of days with no defense in your machines, and that is why a patch that is released should be installed soon.

Why do we say that hackers are also busy? This is because when people tend to lower down their guard, thinking that everyone is busy with the flow of the season, it is also the time that our Cyber protection becomes lenient and weak. When the defense turns less, then the attacker works harder to find these weakness and then it snowballs.

The reason for the easy attacks by the criminal hackers is because we become complacent and do not patch vulnerabilities when we should, and as you can see the vulnerability has been known by the wily attackers for some time… which makes time your enemy.

 

Ever seen a honeybee hive? The bees defend their hives vigorously, regardless of the time of day or season of the year. They attack-to-defend, to secure the hive at the slightest sense of a perceived threat. That is how optimal your Cyber defense should work. That is how wide your Cyber security should be manifested. It should cover all impact levels and all angles whether the threat may be old or new, small or huge.

 

Just like the bees, to keep your system up to date in “sensing perceived threats”, regular sweep and periodic re-enforcement of defenses must be done by updating your system patches. Before running any computer patches on your system, it is always a good decision to perform a system backup at a certain point. This is for you to be able to reset your systems at its most recent format should the patch go bad in the middle of its installation.  Keep in mind that a patch is a fix to system vulnerabilities (that has been out for months), and it is only now that a fix has been created. Although it took time to create the patch, it is still imperative that the patch be run to ensure that probable threats to your system are reduced if not totally eradicated; and for your computer to work properly improving its performance and usability.

 

Question is, how do you know which patch to run? This depends on the probable risks you are able to determine, based on the major threats and concerns you have sited. To illustrate in a process map, think of it this way:

 

  1. Determine the major threats to your working system. Major threats are external forces that you have no control of, that may interrupt or invade your secure cyber space. This may include:

 

  1. Unauthorized access
  2. Insider threat
  3. Data loss due to external sharing
  4. Insecure interfaces
  5. Fraud / Hijacked accounts

 

  1. Next, determine the major concerns that you need to work on to defend your system against the major threats. Major concerns are the areas that cover the major threat and of which you have the capacity to control. Examples are:

 

  1. Data Loss / Leakage
  2. Privacy and confidentiality of information
  3. Legal and regulatory compliance
  4. Compromised security

 

  1. Identify the impact of the threats and the likelihood that they will occur affecting your major concerns. This depends on your usage to the system. These are the magnitude of the identified Risks that you need to work on. Remember the formula for risk analysis as:

 

Risk = Likelihood * Impact

 

The higher the impact of the major threats, the higher the risk factor.

 

  1. Determine the controls and oversite that you need to work on and improve/update your network processes to fix or to be ready to defend your systems aggressively. This is where necessary patching comes in.

 

Since patching is a strenuous process (doing back up, uninstalling all system instances, then patching), it is where most people slack off. You cannot expect not to be robbed if the gate of your house is closed but the front door is open. It may take a while getting used to checking for bug fixes, but vigilance is the key to reducing risks.

 

So if we patch less (due to holidays or otherwise) and we are not as vigilant as we should be amidst the season break, then … you can expect that Hackers are indeed getting busy.

Contact us this year or next to discuss your details.

Cybersecurity: Grin and Bear It

We must have Cybersecurity no matter the business.

No one wants the criminal hackers to have a say in our legitimate business. It will not only bring risks into your business; it may even bring unwanted losses or even damage to our reputation.

Cybersecurity is like securing your home every time, whenever, or wherever you may be. Security and safety is not only checking on your doors, your windows or parts of your house that can easily be invaded by unwanted criminals but also making sure that these areas remain locked with a higher defense mechanisms. Also look beyond what may attack or put your house in danger, whether this may be seen or unseen, or at times may be incidental.

Imagine your house is situated on a very busy highway. How do you go about protecting it? How will you manage putting up a higher defense that could secure your house not only of direct attackers, but also of passers-by that might indirectly put your safety into jeopardy? It will be a judgement call on the kind of defense that you choose. A well-thought-of-decision as your defenses should always be up, whether you are awake, asleep or away from your home.

So how do we decide on what to do? If we know that we need it (like a lock in your house or apartment). What kind of lock do we buy? So how do we decide on what to do? If we know that we need it (like a lock in your house or apartment). What kind of lock do we buy?

Is cost a deciding factor? Or is it the integrity and evidence of protection bring more weight?

Enough with the analogies… We have to spend some money on security the question is how much and what do we buy?

Here are some truths that you may want to contemplate on as you decide on what to use for your base security:

  1. Even though anti-virus software is only 50% effective these days, we have to have some.  We have to protect ourselves from all the recirculating old viruses running around.
  2. We have to have a next generation firewall, as this firewall uses the latest techniques to to protect and remove some more unwanted software (malicious software or malware)
  3. The next step really depends on what you have to defend – if you do a lot of credit card transactions at a retail level with standard credit card machines then you have to place the CC systems on a separate network called a VLAN (Virtual Local Are Network).

 

Cybersecurity must defend everything you use: Windows, Linux, Apple operating systems, firewall, vpn access, data-hard drives, the cloud, notebooks, mobile devices, wifi, network switches and more. Small oversight issues in most cases bring about more damage to your business, to your pocket or even your reputation. So, think about these first, so that you can decide conscientiously for your Cybersecurity.

So it depends on how and what you use on whether a higher Cybersecurity posture is needed.

Did you know the hackers are taking advantage of weak defenses with regard to any part of your network. Unfortunately it takes more vigilance than just having IT people on staff. It requires independent review to ensure as much as possible that the devices have defenses up to where they should be.

I say “Grin and Bear IT”  to make sure you understand even a review of defenses is important .

We can help you review by using industry established methods within ISACA and the CISA (Certified Information System Audit ) rules.

There are constant new patches for cybersecurity reasons, example: “ROBOT” capitalizes on `9-year old vulnerability and vendors issue patch.  

As you see 19years ago a flaw was introduced in encryption software that is now inherent in most software. In the coming days and weeks many vendors will patch their software. If you do not have a system of patching and checking your computer machines.

Contact US to get your site audited and reviewed.

Insider Threats: No1 Cybersecurity Problem

 

Not all Insider threats are malicious in nature, some problems are just laziness, incompetence, not paying attention, or just plain mistakes. How does Murphy’s law  for Cybersecurity work again?

Social engineering is when a someone (usually an evil criminal hacker) tries to trick you by using your good intentions of going about your business on an every day basis.

What happened when evil  hackers wanted to change Point of Sale Credit card systems?

They were not turned away at Michael’s and in fact were allowed to install their own credit card systems, since no one checked if that was sanctioned by corporate or otherwise(no process to see that) and sales associates go along with social engineering scams if they are well executed.

Then of course the evil hackers captured all credit cards as used by shoppers in that location.

Here are some uncomfortable insider threat truths:

  1. The average hacker stays hidden in the network for 140 days.
  2. 45% of IT personnel knowingly circumvented their own policies
  3. There has been a 29% increase in the total cost of data breaches sine 2013
  4. 20% of organizations experience a BYOD (Bring Yur Own Device) breach
  5. 78% of people aware of the risks of unknown links still click on them anyway
  6. 65% of professionals identified phishing and social engineering as the biggest security threat
  7. 70% of millenials admitted to bringing outside applications in violation of IT policies
  8. Trade Secrets lost – Employee of company’s trusted business partner stole the information before accepting job from competitor
  9. Virtual machines Data loss – closely guarded computer code can be exfiltraded using  virtual machines which are hard to detect.
  10. File sharing not secure(dropbox and more), as employees abruptly quit their job and former employees retained cloud access

There are many more stories of businesses not double checking as they should…

When we do not double check a single mistake can blow up to a serious mistake and then it mushrooms from there.

The biggest problem with Cyber attacks is that they are hard to find and attribute (find who did it and blame them/ arrest them). That   is why it takes so long to find an attack that was successful (140 days or more).

If you have not thought about this then it is high time to do it. Cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated and can cripple your business by taking over key pieces of machinery. As we move to the new year (2018) and if there is no thought put towards cybersecurity… Then it is high time you did because the solution is not very hard or that costly if you compare the loss to your reputation.

There are actions to be done to minimize risks.

An average Hacker stays hidden for so long you will not know what is happening until it is too late. Do you know how companies find out?  When the authorities contact the company and tell them the bad news.

There are many bad news scenarios:

Company trade secrets are lost to a competitor –

Employee of the company’s trusted business partner stole the information before accepting job from competitor.

File sharing not secure, as drop box or other programs can be abused by employees before they leave to other jobs.

There are more real life scenarios cataloged in this youtube Video by SEI (Software Engineering Institute) Carnegie Mellon

Although each person makes a decision of good vs evil you have to help them make this decision a right one by setting the checks and balances within your company, and letting everyone know that there is a review of your actions. So if something does happen there is a paper trail, and it is not “lost” which is always the evil  thought (they won’t find me).

The key is to get your company up to speed as the bigger companies do (what is called the Enterprise companies– 1000 computers and larger).

Contact Us as a CISA certified person we can help you with GRC (Governance Risk Compliance) as an enterprise company does things it always leaves a trail so that a criminal internal or external can be found.

 

 

Psychology of Security

People by nature are quantitative. Meaning, people would believe a fact if the parameters of the fact were exactly defined. And when it is, they scrutinize it even further by asking about the basis of how the parameters were considered or under what maximum circumstances were these facts tested or tolerated.

 

People always find a loophole whether or not the scrutiny is triggered by knowledge or ignorance.

 

Sizing up what is indefinite in the field of cyber science, like projected risk exposure budgets, risk recovery figures, and intensity of cyber security know how, not to mention having to recommend what proper action needs to be done to prevent, recover or mitigate a cyber attack, is a challenging role. Not all people are open minded about including IT maintenance costs in their business budget ahead of time, so that proper infrastructure or network check ups can be done to avoid higher recovery costs in the event an unsuspecting cyber attack occurs.

 

Preparing one’s business before a sudden unrecoverable cyber attack is like having to decide if a baby will be immunized early in life. Similar to taking care of a baby before the baby becomes sick, you have to increase the body’s defenses early so that when a sudden sickness comes about, the body has enough defenses to mitigate and recover from the external force. Ignoring these possible sicknesses amidst blatant viral or bacterial exposure will lead to higher hospital bills or even fatality in the case that the meager defenses of the baby’s body can no longer hold up. If your business was like a baby, would you not do everything to ensure that it grows healthily, knowing that every day, exposure to external factors are always at hand? You know that there are a lot of diseases that can happen to a child, especially if they are left unprotected by immunization, healthy food and healthy environment. So if you heed precaution, the growth will be a healthy success. And if you don’t, well, you may have saved a few dollars from the start by not taking immunization into consideration, but in the event the baby becomes sick, recovery may be void.

 

Simply put: Why is there a need to look deeper into your cyber risk status?  We created an infographic that helps explain your understanding of why we may act in a manner that is contrary to what we should do.

This is generally how the brain works when faced with the concept of cyber network and infrastructure health.

 

Less is more. More is less.

Computers have upended many things(where else can more capabilities cost less year after year?) including now in the security area.  As more people connect to the Internet, more business is possible (more sales) but the risk increases as more criminals also connect and learn how to perform hacks so they can make money.

Unfortunately as more people connect higher risks and higher costs in Cybersecurity are mandatory just to keep up.

Look at this slide from VISA seminar:

It is not like the industry is staying still(payment card industry)… but as time goes on more data is at higher risk. this chart has a cost built-in.

 

Focus on the positive health impact to your business (just like a babies health) to gain more and for your projected IT maintenance budgets to be sufficient. The more defense, the lesser the risk. The higher opportunity of ignoring what is needed in your business technologically, will eventually lead to losses in the event that a cyber attack occurs due to limited defenses. Preparing ahead and thinking ahead no matter how undefined or developed the cyber diseases shall be, if you are taking care of your technological health properly, then you can expect constant growth to your company.

Contact Us to discuss risk assessment analysis for your business.

Cybersecurity Challenges in Cloud

It is a known fact: technology is always on the move for progressive changes. So as the phase of virtualization becomes more advanced, it is imperative that we also look upon the parameters of cyber risks and controls oversight, in order to maximize the benefit of virtualization. Oversight controls pertains to seeing in advance, the possible cyber challenges of managing the information technology. Part of a control is to review Cyber Risk of a business, as well as planning, testing and executing methods of recuperation and resiliency to avoid critical risks and losses for a business. In other words, it entails thinking outside of the box, attempting to size up and prevent, if need be, unwanted occurrence and re-occurrence of high risk situations; hence the term oversight controls and risk controls in order to protect a managed virtual environment.

Without the proper know-how, a business wanting to gain more leverage against its competitors by using cyber advancement or automation may actually lead its business to ruin. So instead of paving its way to a more effective and efficient business, it may go the opposite way just because they did not look into possible risks, no matter the complexity, before they actually happened.

 

This is the very reason why some businesses opt to have managed servers. Business owners can save time, money, overhead costs and effort by paying for sites and domains in the managed server environment bringing their business forward with automation. However, this same technological asset may lead a business left behind with limited understanding of what happens in risk exposure.   Open possibilities of risk and fraud may happen if business owners do not understand the challenges of managed servers risk analysis. Here are some questions you may ask yourself, if you are one of the many that see the beauty of using advanced technology in e-commerce:

 

In the managed server environment there are other challenges:

 

  • Are you using a shopping cart in your site?
  • Is your shopping cart exploitable?

 

  • Are you using WordPress for your online business? Is your WordPress site exploitable?
  • Have you ever used add-ons for your site that may actually be a means for higher vulnerability?
    • What plugins are susceptible to attacks?
    • Is your theme safe?
    • Are widgets used?

 

 

In the advanced stream of technology also comes the advanced stream of risks and vulnerabilities. To enjoy the beauty of technology it is always an advantage if we know how to detect, exploit (to one’s own business advantage) and prevent these cyber risks which challenges proper oversight controls. Oversight management as well as risk management are pertinent arenas to be considered when one is a player in the universe of virtualization. Aside from this, a business owner should also know what the costs in the business are if the network fails. No matter how we think managed servers may be the better option to run in your business, as it will minimize overhead cost in maintaining the business you have started (not to mention being able to compete head to head in the e-commerce world), having a Risk Manager and Consultant who would think about the what if’s is a great control measure to minimize and prevent cyber vulnerabilities.

 

True nothing may happen, as it is a “what if” but the risk of failure is so high that doing nothing is even riskier.  So the question is, as the ultimate “Risk Manager” (if you are the decision maker) what is the minor cost that you can live with?  Our best suggestion: Test your devices, network and systems using a qualified individual.

 

Contact Us and experience the empowered difference of a sound virtual environment.