Wednesday, September 14, 2016

FREE Guide on How to Communicate Security Issues to Employees

Creating a secure and safe working environment has become an essential priority for employers. Cyber-attacks, terrorist activity and even inadvertent employee actions feature all-too-frequently in the media. No organization or individual is immune.

Effective communication and education are central to developing a robust, security-conscious culture. But this has been highlighted as one of the biggest challenges faced by employers. So how do you get your employees to sit up and take notice of security issues?

Global communications company SnapComms has developed a new white-paper to help organizations implement an ongoing security framework for all staff through better communication and training. You can download the white paper, "How to Communicate Security Issues to Employees," here.

The white paper outlines common threats and activity that lead to security issues, as well as recommended training techniques for avoiding these security situations and methods for communicating better practices to employees such as:

•       Making your security message personal;
•       Targeting communications by employee role;
•       Cutting through the noise to share messages that build culture;
•       Tracking employee progress;
•       Keeping messages simple; and
•       Developing a theme that resonates with your workforce.

Related Books

Asset Protection through Security Awareness

Managing an Information Security and Privacy Awareness and Training Program, Second Edition

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cyber Attacks Inflict Unprecedented Damage; Enterprises Still Lack Intelligence

As Threats Become Increasingly Severe and Complex, Enterprises Should Consider an Intelligent Hybrid Security Strategy     
LONDON, UK, September 13, 2016 – Cyber attacks aren’t slowing down – in fact, 76 percent of organizations have experienced a breach within the last two years. Enterprises of all sizes, across every industry, are challenged to respond to increasingly complex and severe attacks – often only learning about the size, severity, and type of incident they’re dealing with as their security teams work to stop them. However, many organizations continue to maintain a reactive approach – implementing stand-alone point solutions that only fragment and silo security efforts. NSFOCUS recommends an intelligent hybrid security approach based on harnessing true global threat intelligence across an organization’s cyber defenses (hybrid cloud and on-premises), and turning that insight into action – to proactively and holistically protect assets across the organization.
“Cybercriminals have been trying to gain access to protected networks since the dawn of the Internet,” said Stephen Gates, Chief Research Intelligence Analyst at NSFOCUS. “In response, security teams implement counter-measures to try and keep them at bay – like anti-virus, DDoS defenses, intrusion preventions systems, web application firewalls, and a host of other security technologies. This segmented approach has led to visibility tools like log aggregators, SIEMs, and traffic analyzers – but has proven to be a poor attempt to get a holistic look at the threat landscape. In reality, these solutions have created security silos that require specialized teams, and result in a limited, expensive and ineffective approach to security.”
NSFOCUS advises enterprises to move toward an intelligent hybrid security model by taking the following steps:
  1. Automate Threat Intelligence: Consume real-time global threat intelligence and put it into action across all of the security technologies deployed within the enterprise, in an automated fashion that requires no human interaction.
  2. Eliminate Silos with Integrated Defenses: Deploy defenses that interoperate with and are fully aware of the other defenses in place, communicating vertically with the cloud and laterally across the entire enterprise, helping eliminate security silos and fragmented approaches.
  3. Identify Security Blind Spots: Implement closed-loop threat intelligence feedback for both cloud and on-premises defenses that removes blind spots and significantly reduce the time from measure to counter-measure, infection to detection.
  4. Take an Intelligent Look across the Network: Execute on a vision of an intelligent ecosystem of threat-aware solutions combined into a single entity that dramatically increases the visibility of the entire network and application landscape in the enterprise.
  5. Implement an Intelligence-Enabled Enterprise Security Platform: This platform allows organizations to upload all of their proprietary and additional third-party threat feeds into a comprehensive reporting and analysis solution.. 
“Security departments have spent countless amounts of money trying to undo the damage caused by hackers, while simultaneously bleeding their budget in a futile effort to proactively protect themselves from increasingly malicious campaigns,” said Allan Thompson, Chief Operating Officer, NSFOCUS. “It is no longer enough to implement disparate security solutions and hope that they will work together. If organizations aren’t looking at security holistically, taking an intelligent hybrid approach, and working to get ahead of attacks using real, actionable threat intelligence, they will continue to remain vulnerable and at great risk. NSFOCUS is committed to developing solutions and services that empower intelligence-in-action to proactively protect global businesses from threats across their entire network.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Corporate Defense and the Value Preservation Imperative: Bulletproof Your Corporate Defense Program

Corporate Defense and the Value Preservation Imperative: Bulletproof Your Corporate Defense Program
by Sean Lyons

"Corporate Defense and the Value Preservation Imperative" by Sean Lyons explores corporate defense, which is an organization’s obligation to implement a comprehensive corporate defense program in order to deliver long-term sustainable value to their stakeholders. It considers the challenges of implementing a world class corporate defense program and looks at this concept from strategic, tactical, and operational perspectives. Finally this #newbook looks at the business case for implementing a corporate defense program and the value proposition of introducing a truly world class approach to addressing the value preservation imperative.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Study Finds Employees’ Security Hygiene Getting Worse Just As Ransomware Exposes Insider Negligence

Varonis-Sponsored Ponemon Institute Report Examines Widening Gap between End Users and IT Professionals as Data Breaches Increase

LONDON, UK -- August 30, 2016 -- At a time when ransomware and other attack techniques that exploit insider negligence become rampant, only 39 percent of end users believe they take all appropriate steps to protect company data accessed and used in the course of their jobs. This is a sharp decline from 56 percent in 2014, according to a new survey of more than 3,000 employees and IT practitioners across the U.S. and Europe. The report was conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Varonis Systems, Inc.

Moreover, while 52 percent of IT respondents believe that policies against the misuse or unauthorised access to company data are being enforced and followed, only 35 percent of end user respondents say their organizations strictly enforce those policies.

The new release, "The Widening Gap between End Users and IT," compares end-user practices and beliefs with those of their colleagues in IT security and IT generalist roles. This new analysis draws from the same data released by Varonis and the Ponemon Institute August 9, 2016, in a report entitled "Closing Security Gaps to Protect Corporate Data: A Study of US and European Organisations," which found a sharp rise in the loss or theft of data, an increase in the percentage of employees with access to sensitive data, and the belief among participants that insider negligence is now the #1 concern for organizations trying to prevent these losses.

The survey results are derived from interviews conducted in April and May 2016, with 3,027 employees in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Respondents included 1,371 end users and 1,656 IT and IT security professionals, in organizations ranging in size from dozens to tens of thousands of employees from a variety of industries including financial services, public sector, health care and life sciences, retail, industrial, and technology and software.

Among the key findings:
•    Sixty-one percent of respondents who work in IT or security roles view the protection of critical company information as a very high or high priority. In contrast, only 38 percent of respondents who are considered end users of this data believe it is a very high or high priority.
•    Asked about their organization's attitude on productivity vs. security, 38 percent of IT practitioners and 48 percent of end users say their organizations would accept more risk to the security of their corporate data in order to maintain productivity. 
•    Asked to agree or disagree that the protection of company data is a top priority for their CEO and other C-level executives, only 35 percent of end users agreed while 53 percent of IT professionals believe it is a top priority for senior executives.
•    Asked for the most likely causes of the compromise of insider accounts, 50 percent of IT practitioners and 58 percent of end users say negligent insiders. "Insiders who are negligent" was by far the most frequent response for both IT and end users, more than twice as common as "external attackers" and more than three times as common as "malicious employees."
•    End users are far more likely to attribute data breaches to insider mistakes than IT or security professionals. Seventy-three percent of end users say data breaches are very frequently or frequently due to insider mistakes, negligence or malice, while only 46 percent of IT respondents draw the same conclusions.

Dr. Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of Ponemon Institute, a leading research center dedicated to privacy, data protection and information security policy, observed, "At a time when one would expect general improvement in end-user hygiene due to increased awareness of cyberattacks and security breaches, this survey instead found an alarming decline in both practices and attitudes. If an organization’s leadership does not make data protection a priority, it will continue to be an uphill battle to ensure end users' compliance with information security policies and procedures. Major differences between the IT function and end users about appropriate data access and usage practices make it harder to reduce security risks related to mobile devices, the cloud and document collaboration."

Yaki Faitelson, Co-Founder and CEO of Varonis, said, "Human error will always be a weak link in security. Insiders compromise security maliciously or accidentally and outside attackers continue to hijack the credentials and systems of employees, administrators, contractors, and executives. The only way to stem this tide is to implement controls on data access, monitor all activity and implement the most advanced user behavior analytics and alerting technologies throughout the organization."


We'll be publishing "Walling Out the Insiders: Controlling Access to Improve Organizational Security" by Michael Erbschloe in February 2017. The book is grounded in the reality that many, if not most organizations have limited security budgets and security personnel. It

  • Explains security planning and management strategies in a manner that can be understood by security professionals as well as non-security managers and executives.
  • Provides long-term security design, implementation, and management methods to guide managers through the long process of achieving improved security.
  • Provides practical advice on how to determine security weaknesses and security needs.
  • Provides practical advice on how to select security vendors and service providers.
For more on the insider threat, read these articles:

The Insider Threat: A View from the Outside

Why Insider Threats Are Succeeding

The Top 10 Ways to Combat Insider Threats

Insider Threat Concepts and Concerns

Friday, August 26, 2016

SMBs Subject to New Fines for HIPAA Compliance Issues

August 26, 2016 - There’s a new warning from the government to small businesses. Safeguard your company, or else.

The US Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) said they would investigate small security breaches. Normally they investigate breaches affecting more than 500 people, but now they’re investigating breaches affecting less than that number.

"The news from The US Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights should be a wakeup call to small business," Ebba Blitz, CEO of Alertsec. "If the OCR uncovers widespread HIPAA compliance issues, that could mean small companies are at risk for new fines."

This is important because smaller companies who need encryption don’t have to pay for an IT department or cumbersome software. They can get enterprise-level encryption software that would be unavailable otherwise.  This is crucial to small businesses who are required by HIPAA to encrypt their laptops.

"According to the Ponemon Institute more than half of all data breaches emanate from a lost or stolen unencrypted laptop," Ebba said. "When we work and live with sensitive information at our fingertips this information needs to be safe. Not only is a breach damaging to patients and clients, ultimately it will affect you brand and revenue. Protecting health information will soon be an issue that will move from the IT departments to the boards."

OCR listed that factors will spark an investigation:
•         the size of the breach;
•         whether theft of or improper disposal of unencrypted Protected Health Information (PHI) occurred;
•         whether unwanted intrusions to IT systems (for example, by hacking) occurred;
•         the amount, nature and sensitivity of the PHI involved; or
•         cases where an entity has numerous breaches involving similar issues.

This makes encryption more important than ever before. If a laptop is lost or stolen (more than 1 million laptops are lost in the USA every year, according to Ponemon) the information can be hacked. However, if the computer is encrypted it can’t.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cyber Criminals Possibly Influencing US Presidential Election

PORTLAND, Ore. - August 11, 2016 - Tripwire today announced the results of a survey of over 220 information security professionals who attended Black Hat USA 2016on July 30-August 4, 2016.

Tripwire's opinion-based survey assessed how cyber security issues were impacting the current U.S. presidential election. When asked if cyber criminals were influencing the outcome of the upcoming election, nearly two-thirds (sixty-three percent) of the respondents said, "yes."

The FBI is currently investigating a high-profile breach of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network after its email content surfaced online. Security experts believe Russia may have orchestrated the hack to influence the outcome of the presidential election. Additionally, AndrĂ©s SepĂșlveda, a political hacker connected with manipulating elections across Latin America, said he was "100 percent sure" the U.S. presidential campaign was being tampered with in a controversial March interview with Bloomberg.

"This is an unprecedented moment in both politics and information security," said Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire. "A foreign power possibly influencing the U.S. presidential election through electronic means is a game changer for information security professionals. While these survey results aren't surprising, they are very important. We're seeing a significant shift in the role that information security plays on the global stage. While the DNC attack is the most visible, it's not the first incident. We've been building up to this type of event for a number of years."

Additional findings from the survey included:

• Eighty-two percent of the respondents believe state-sponsored attacks on elections should be considered acts of cyber war.
• The 2016 Republican Party platform states that victims of cyber attacks should have "a self defense right" to retaliate. Just over half of the respondents (fifty-five percent) believe this policy would improve national or global cyber security.
• Only ten percent of the respondents consider nation-state attacks to be one of the top two security threats their organizations face.

"In addition to considering nation-state cyber attacks to be an act of war, respondents favor an organization's right to strike back," said Dwayne Melancon, chief technology officer and vice president of research and development for Tripwire. "These two positions have one thing in common: a high margin for error. Attribution of cyber attacks is very difficult. For example, investigations sometimes discover that attacks appearing to come from other countries actually have a command and control base in the U.S., and vice versa. If a cyber attack escalates into war or retribution, you'd better be certain of its origin."

Erlin continued, "While it's clear that the majority of respondents believe state-sponsored attacks are an act of cyber war, there's little consensus on what an appropriate response should be. It's time for the conversation to move beyond true and false to defining an appropriate cyber war response."

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Data Theft Rising Sharply, Insider Threats Cited as Leading Cause

New Study: Data Theft Rising Sharply, Insider Threats Cited as Leading Cause

New Ponemon Institute Report Finds Most Employees Have Too Much Access, Multiplying Damage When Accounts Are Compromised

London, UK, August 9, 2016 – Three out of every four organizations have been hit by the loss or theft of important data over the past two years, a sharp increase since 2014, according to a new survey of more than 3,000 employees and IT practitioners across the U.S. and Europe. The report, released today, was conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Varonis Systems, Inc.

The rise in data loss and theft, according to the survey, is due in large part to compromises in insider accounts that are exacerbated by far wider employee and third-party access to sensitive information than is necessary, and by the continued failure to monitor access and activity around email and file systems – where most confidential and sensitive data moves and lives. 

The survey report, “Closing Security Gaps to Protect Corporate Data: A Study of U.S. and European Organisations,” resulted from interviews conducted in April and May, 2016, with 3,027 employees in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany.  Respondents included 1,371 end users and 1,656 IT and IT security professionals, in organizations ranging in size from dozens to tens of thousands of employees from a variety of industries including financial services, public sector, health care and life sciences, retail, industrial, and technology and software.
Among the key findings:
  • Seventy-six percent of IT practitioners say their organization experienced the loss or theft of company data over the past two years. This is a significant increase from 67 percent of IT respondents who gave the same response in the 2014 study conducted by Ponemon for Varonis.
  • IT respondents say insider negligence is more than twice as likely to cause the compromise of insider accounts as any other culprits, including external attackers, malicious employees or contractors.
  • Seventy-eight percent of IT people are very concerned about ransomware, a type of malicious software that that blocks access to files until a sum of money is paid. Fifteen percent of organizations have experienced ransomware and barely half of those detected the attack in the first 24 hours.
  • Eighty-eight percent of end users say their jobs require them to access and use proprietary information such as customer data, contact lists, employee records, financial reports, confidential business documents, or other sensitive information assets. This is sharply higher than the 76 percent recorded in the 2014 study.
  • Sixty-two percent of end users say they have access to company data they probably shouldn’t see.
  • Only 29 percent of IT respondents report that their organizations enforce a strict least-privilege model to ensure insiders have access to company data on a need-to-know basis.
  • Only 25 percent of organizations monitor all employee and third-party email and file activity, while 38 percent do not monitor any file and email activity.
  • Thirty-five percent of organizations have no searchable records of file system activity, leaving them unable to determine, among other things, which files have been encrypted by ransomware.
Dr. Larry Ponemon, Chairman and Founder of Ponemon Institute, a leading research center dedicated to privacy, data protection and information security policy, observed, "Despite all the technology available and the spike in highly publicised attacks, data breaches continue to rise. The most valuable data featured in most breaches is unstructured data such as emails and documents. When emails and files are surfaced, they tend to cause scandal, forcing the breach to have a lasting effect on the company’s reputation. This survey raises key points as to why hackers are able to maximise impact – too many employees have too much access, beyond what they need to do their jobs. On top of this, when employees access valuable data and their activity is not tracked or audited, it becomes far too easy for an external hacker or a rogue insider to get away unnoticed.”

Yaki Faitelson, Co-Founder and CEO of Varonis, said, “Right now we’re in a technology arms race with hackers and insider threats. Unnecessarily excessive internal access combined with a lack of monitoring and auditing sets organizations up for disaster. Sony Pictures, the Panama Papers and the recent Democratic National Committee intrusions all concerned the theft of files and emails that were not protected well enough from insider threats or outside attackers that compromised insider credentials, causing major damage to those organizations and their reputations. These new findings, alongside the fallout from those breaches, should keep executives awake at night. What will be the straw that makes businesses focus their efforts on protecting their precious information assets? Varonis is helping thousands of organizations around the world address these challenges, prepare for and stop ransomware and other malicious threats that get inside and impersonate insiders.”