Daily Archives: August 21, 2019

The transformation of enterprise security from 2017 to 2019

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The nature of enterprise security is such that it continuously keeps evolving. Trends change, threats vary and morph into different entities, approaches that seem relevant get outdated in six months or sometimes even lesser. For enterprises looking to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to cybersecurity, staying stagnant is not an option. The need of the hour is to keep abreast of the latest new trends and technologies to stay safe.

Thanks to the speed of transformation, enterprise security has seen multifold changes in the last two years, some due to need and some due to necessity. These changes can be summed up through the following pointers:

A move towards a zero-trust network

More and more organizations are moving towards a zero-trust model where no one and nothing is trusted. Introduced by American market research giant, Forrester Research, the zero-trust network model eliminates the concept of a perimeter and calls for enterprises to inspect all network traffic without any classification of ‘internal’ and ‘external.’. Basically, no user or traffic is considered ‘authorized’ and all access to a specific network is governed by the same set of rules.

The evolution from 4G to 5G

In 2017, enterprise security needed to understand 4G – now, network technology has evolved to such an extent that the world is embracing 5G. It is a trend which enterprises must also embrace but at the same time, be aware of the security tradeoffs. As with the advent of any new technology, cybercriminals will also join the bandwagon to ensure they create chaos and profit. 5G will likely have different types of phones, different networks and a completely different kind of technology which will open up new vulnerabilities – early adopters should be extremely careful.

The rise of cryptojacking

An important trend which has caught the industry’s attention is the dangerous threat of cryptojacking. This is a threat which will only become more widespread as the usage of cryptocurrency increases. It works by hackers sending unsuspecting targeted emails with malicious code in them -or they embed this code into sketchy websites. The attack succeeds if malicious code is accessed by unsuspecting users – this malicious code works in the background, silently mining cryptocurrency. This takes up a lot of computer resources and can often lead to slow system performance.

Spear phishing

While phishing is a tactic that continues to be used, it has an upgraded, even more dangerous avatar, popularly known as spear phishing. In spear phishing, users get meticulously personalized emails from a trusted source or a company you’re familiar with and interact quite often. This could be as scrupulous as an email from a friend, colleague or your boss asking you for access to classified information. Attackers are now closely examining their targets and gathering as much information about them to ensure their email is as believable as possible. This is done by employing Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) to entire systems, gathering humongous amounts of data about enterprise and customer habits, and then using this data to launch a spear-phishing campaign.

Certainly, enterprise security has seen a lot of changes in the last two years which is a natural state of affairs in this sector. It is important for enterprises to invest in solutions which continue to evolve and stay attuned to the latest cybersecurity trends to ensure they are not lagging behind. Seqrite’s range of enterprise security solutions is continuously updated to enable enterprises to remain safe from the ever-evolving threats in today’s digital age.

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IDG Contributor Network: Lack of cybersecurity is the biggest economic threat to the world over the next decade, CEOs say

In its 2019 CEO Imperative Study, Ernst & Young surveyed 200 global CEOs from the Forbes Global 2000 and Forbes Largest Private Companies across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region. Also interviewed were 100 senior investors from global firms that manage at least $100 billion in assets.

However, regardless of their location, CEOs, board directors and institutional investors cited national and corporate gaps in cybersecurity as the biggest threats to business growth and the global economy. Income inequality and job losses stemming from technological change came second and third in the list of threats, while ethics in artificial intelligence and climate change respectively rounded out the top five.

To read this article in full, please click here

Data Residency: A Concept Not Found In The GDPR

Are you facing customers telling you that their data must be stored in a particular location?

Be reassured: As a processor of data, we often encounter a discussion about where the data is resident, and we are often facing people certain that their data must be stored in a given country. But the truth is, most people don’t have the right answer to this legal requirement.

To understand the obligations and requirements surrounding data storage, you first need to understand the difference in concepts between “data residency” and “data localization.”

What Are Data Residency and Data Localization?

Data residency is when an organization specifies that their data must be stored in a geographical location of their choice, usually for regulatory, tax or policy reasons. By contrast, data localization is when a law requires that data created within a certain territory stays within that territory.

People arguing that data must be stored in a certain location are usually pursuing at least one of the following three objectives:

  1. To allow data protection authorities to exert more control over data retention and thereby have greater control over compliance.
  2. In the EU, it is seen as means to encourage data controllers to store and process data within the EU or within those countries deemed to have the same level of data protection as in the EU, as opposed to moving data to those territories considered to have less than “adequate” data protection regimes. The EU has issued only 13 adequacy decisions: for Andorra, Argentina, Canada (commercial organizations), Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Israel, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, New Zealand, Switzerland, US (Privacy Shield only) and Uruguay.
  3. Finally, it is seen by some as a tool to strengthen the market position of local data center providers by forcing data to be stored in-country.

However, it is important to note that accessing personal data is considered a “transfer” under data protection law—so even if data is stored in Germany (for example), if a company has engineers in India access the data for customer service or support purposes, it has now “moved” out of Germany. Therefore, you can’t claim “residency” in Germany if there is access by a support function outside the country. Additionally, payment processing functions also sometimes occur in other countries, so make sure to consider them as well. This is an important point that is often missed or misunderstood.

Having understood the concept of data residency and data localization, the next question is, are there data residency or localization requirements under GDPR?

In short: No. GDPR does not introduce and does not include any data residency or localization obligations. There were also no data residency or localization obligations under the GDPR’s predecessor, the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC). In fact, both the Directive and the GDPR establish methods for transferring data outside the EU.

Having said that, it is important to note that local law may impose certain requirements on the location of the data storage (e.g., Russia’s data localization law, German localization law for health and telecom data, etc.).

So, if there is no data residency or localization requirement under GDPR, can we transfer the data to other locations?

The GDPR substantially repeats the requirements of the Data Protection Directive, which states that you need to have legal transfer means if you move data outside of the EU into a jurisdiction with inappropriate safeguards (see map here). The legal transfer means are:

  • Adequacy— A decision by the EU Commission that a country has adequate protection level;
  • Binding Corporate Rules— Binding internal rules of a company to be approved by data protection authorities;
  • Standard Contractual Clauses / Model Clauses—Individually negotiated contracts between controller and processor
  • Privacy Shield— For US companies only; this is a replacement self-certification program for the Safe Harbor.

I have heard that Privacy Shield and Standard Contractual Clauses are under serious scrutiny? What is this all about?

Following the European Court of Justice decision that the EU-US Safe Harbor arrangement does not provide adequate protection for the personal data of EU data subjects, the EU and US entered into a new arrangement to enable the transfer of data (the Privacy Shield). However, a number of non-governmental organizations and privacy advocates have started legal action to seek decisions that the Privacy Shield and the EU Standard Contractual Clauses do not provide sufficient protection of data subjects’ personal data.

It remains to be seen how the European Court of Justice will decide in these cases. They are expected to rule on these matters by the end of 2019.

I have heard that the Standard Contractual Clauses/Model Clauses might be updated.  What is that all about? 

In order to protect data being transferred outside of the European Union, the Union issued three Standard Contractual Clause templates (for controller to controller transfers and for controller to processor transfers). These have not been updated since they were first introduced in 2001, 2004 and 2010, respectively. However, the European Union’s consumer commissioner, under whom privacy falls, has indicated that the EU is working on an updated version of the Standard Contractual Clauses. It remains to be seen how the Clauses will be modernized and whether the shortcomings, concerns and gripes of existing Standard Contractual Clauses will be addressed to the satisfaction of all parties.

One thing is for certain, however—the data protection space will only get more attention from here on out, and those of us working in this space will have to become more accustomed to complexities such as those surrounding Data Residency.

 

This blog is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, contractual commitment or advice on how to meet the requirements of any applicable law or achieve operational privacy and security. It is provided “AS IS” without guarantee or warranty as to the accuracy or applicability of the information to any specific situation or circumstance. If you require legal advice on the requirements of applicable privacy laws, or any other law, or advice on the extent to which McAfee technologies can assist you to achieve compliance with privacy laws or any other law, you are advised to consult a suitably qualified legal professional. If you require advice on the nature of the technical and organizational measures that are required to deliver operational privacy and security in your organization, you should consult a suitably qualified privacy professional. No liability is accepted to any party for any harms or losses suffered in reliance on the contents of this publication.

 

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How to avoid the security mistakes that cost an estate agency £80,000 in fines

Last month, Life at Parliament View was fined £80,000 by the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) after security errors exposed 18,610 customers’ personal data for almost two years.

The incident occurred when the London-based estate agency transferred personal data from its server to a partner organisation but failed to implement access controls.

This meant that tenants’ and landlords’ bank statements, salary details, passport information, dates of birth and addresses were publicly available online between March 2015 and February 2017, when Life at Parliament View learned of the breach.

During its investigation, the ICO discovered many security practices that contravened the DPA (Data Protection Act) 1998. Had the incident occurred after the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) took effect on 25 May 2018, Life at Parliament View would have faced a much higher penalty.

Unfortunately, many organisations are vulnerable to the same mistakes. So how can you be sure that your systems and processes are secure?

Anonymous access

The breach at Life at Parliament View can largely be attributed to the company’s failure to turn off ‘Anonymous Authentication’ after completing its file transfer. This caused two major security issues.

First, the information was no longer subject to any kind of access control, meaning anyone who found the database was free to view or copy the information it contained.

That’s bad enough, but it also meant that those who accessed the database did so anonymously. Life at Parliament View had no way of knowing whether the people opening or amending the database were employees doing their job or whether the information had been compromised by an unauthorised person – be it another employee or a criminal hacker.

There were other security mistakes that exacerbated the issue, like a lack of encryption and poor staff awareness training to identify security lapses, but the root cause was the lack of access controls to ensure only authorised employees could access the sensitive information in question.

What are access controls?

Put simply, access controls are measures that restrict who can view data. They consist of two elements:

  1. Authentication: a technique used to verify the identity of a user.
  2. Authorisation: determines whether a user should be given access to data.

To be effective, access control requires the enforcement of robust policies. This can be difficult when most organisations operate in hybrid environments where data is mobile and moves between on-premises servers to the Cloud, external offices and beyond.

Organisations must determine the most appropriate access control model to adopt based on the type and sensitivity of the data they’re processing. They have several options:

  • Discretionary access control: employees control the programs and files they use, and determine the permissions other users have relating to that information. It is commonly referred to as a ‘need-to-know’ access model.
  • Mandatory access control: the administrator defines the usage and access policy, which cannot be modified by users.
  • Role-based access control: provides access based on a user’s role, and applies principles such as ‘least privilege’ and ‘separation of privilege’. This means the user can access only the information that is required for their role.
  • Attribute-based access control: based on different attribute types: user attributes, attributes associated with the application, and current conditions. This provides dynamic, fine-grained access control but is also the most complex to operate.

Whichever model you adopt, it’s important to keep access to your data to a minimum, as this limits the opportunities for a criminal hacker to access your information.

Access controls and Cyber Essentials

Organisations that want understand how to implement access controls should look at Cyber Essentials, a UK government assurance scheme based on “10 Steps to Cyber Security” and administered by the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre).

Cyber Essentials has two objectives:

  1. To set out five basic cyber security controls that can protect organisations from common cyber attacks.
  2. To provide a simple and affordable certification process for organisations to demonstrate that they have implemented essential cyber security measures.

Access control is one of the five basic controls outlined in Cyber Essentials, along with secure configuration, boundary firewalls and Internet gateways, patch management, and malware protection.

Find out more about Cyber Essentials >>

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The Sky Has Already Fallen (you just haven’t seen the alert yet)

Of course, the much-touted “Cybersecurity Skills Shortage” isn’t news to anyone, or it shouldn’t be. For seven or more years, journalists, industry analysts and practitioners have been opining about it one way or another. Analyses and opinions vary on how we have reached this impasse, my own being that this is a largely self-inflicted crisis caused by proscriptive hiring practices and unreasonable job requirements, but the outcome remains the same. We have too few people doing too much work, with too many tools and too few meaningful resources.

The typical SOC of today is drowning in a volume of alerts. In the financial world for example 60% of banks routinely deal with 100,000+ alerts every day, with 17% of them reporting 300,000+ security alerts, according to research carried out by Ovum, and this pattern is repeated across industry verticals.

There is no way that the typical Security Operations Center is staffed to the levels required to be able to triage these alerts, meaning that a large proportion of them are simply never actioned (read ignored). Of those that do eventually see a pair of eyes, it hardly seems worth the effort. An EMA report all the way back in 2017 found that analysts were spending around half an hour investigating each incident with much of the time being spent either downgrading alerts marked as critical (46%) or otherwise reprioritizing (52%) and identifying false positives (31%).

This deluge of information, coupled with a focus on small, repetitive and often manual tasks are critical components contributing to fatigue, boredom, and a feeling of powerlessness in the workplace. A recent survey carried out by Trend Micro revealed that IT teams are under significant pressure, with some of the challenges cited including prioritizing emerging threats (47%) and keeping track of a fractured security environment (43%). The survey showed that they are feeling the weight of this responsibility, with many (34%) stating that the burden they are under has led their job satisfaction to decrease over the past 12 months. It’s not just the SOC analysts either. In that same survey one third of IT executives told us that they felt completely isolated in their role.

Workplace pressure at these levels is simply not sustainable, fatigue leads to neglect, neglect to mistakes, and mistakes lead to burnout, further reducing the available talent pool and dissuading others from ever entering into the industry, it’s a vicious circle.

This security event flood is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of organizations rely on large numbers of specialized and disconnected tools. Many of the alerts that analysts are dealing with are often different views of the same object, or duplicate notifications from discrete security tools. The Ovum report I mentioned above notes that almost half their respondents (47%) told them that only one in five events is actually related to a unique security event.

In fact, Security Operations Centers are drowning in threat data, all the while thirsting for meaningful threat intelligence.

Water, water everywhere and all the boards did shrink,

Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.

A recent blog post by my friend and colleague Greg Young laid out his reasoning on “Why XDR is a big deal and is different from SIEM and Platforms.” And a truly mature XDR technology, with feature rich APIs, collecting, correlating, triaging, reporting and perhaps even remediating (to a certain level) must represent the direction of travel for the SOC of the near future.

We are not going to solve the skills shortage within a decade; arguably, we are not going to solve it at all, particularly if we continue to focus on filling the gap with human brains. The problem is not in the potential recruitment pipeline, it is in the actual data pipeline and that is where technology must play the lead role. An AI driven Tier I SOC platform able to scale with the continually increasing volume of data, automating and accelerating initial analysis, the creation of incident context, chasing down patient zero through an automated root cause analysis. Such a system would present the human Escalation Analysts with aggregated data in a logical attack-centric progression automating the Monitor, Prevent, Detect and Investigate roles and providing the SOC analyst with actionable threat intelligence for real Response and Remediation.

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FAKE APPS!—courtesy of Agent Smith

As new mobile malware sweeps the globe, here’s how to keep your device secure.

We’re spending more and more of our lives online and for most of us the door to this digital world is our smartphone. It’s the first thing we look at when we wake up and the last thing we check at night. It’s where we do our banking and shopping, where we hang out with friends, play games to pass the time, post status updates and share photos. It’s where we watch TV, hail cabs and even consult our local doctor.

There’s just one problem: the bad guys know this and they’ve become highly skilled at making money off the back of our reliance on mobile devices. Early this month a new global Android malware campaign called Agent Smith was revealed to have compromised 25 million handsets across the globe including many in the US.

It should be another reminder to users not to take mobile security for granted. Fortunately, with a few easy steps you can make giant strides towards keeping the hackers at bay.

What is Agent Smith?

Remember the malignant agent/virus antagonist to Neo in The Matrix? Well, Agent Smith is the latest in a long line of malware campaigns designed to infect consumers’ mobile devices. It begins life embedded inside legitimate-looking applications like photo apps, gaming titles and/or adult-themed software. These are found more on popular third-party marketplaces such as 9Apps, rather than the official Google Play store, though it showed up there too.

Once a user installs one of these booby-trapped apps, the malware will get to work, exploiting vulnerabilities in the Android operating system. It extracts a list of all the legit apps that the user has installed on their phone and then sets about replacing them with identical-looking but malicious versions.

How does it affect me?

If you’re unlucky enough to have your device infected with Agent Smith, it will then go on to hijack your apps to show unwanted ads – thereby generating the hackers money. Although this doesn’t sound too catastrophic for the victim, there is the potential for the attack to get much worse. Researchers have claimed that the same malware could be used to steal sensitive information like online banking credentials from an infected device.

As of early July, Agent Smith had already infected over 302,000 mobile devices in the US. The number may be even higher today. It’s one of the biggest threats seen so far this year, but it’s by no means the only one. Attackers are always looking for ways to get malware onto consumers’ devices, and in so doing:

  • Steal log-ins for key accounts like online banking
  • Secretly mine for crypto-currency using your device, which can cause it to slow down
  • Flood your screen with pop-up adverts, making it unusable
  • Lock your device with ransomware until a fee is paid
  • Sign your device up to premium rate services which can incur heavy charges

How do I stay safe?

Google is getting better at preventing apps loaded with hidden malware from being published on its official Play Store, but there are still occasions when some sneak through. The hackers behind Agent Smith were found to have hidden malware elements on 11 apps listed on Google Play. Two of them had already reached 10 million downloads by the time Google was notified and they were withdrawn.

App downloads are also only one of several avenues where your mobile device could be at risk of attack. Others include via malicious text or IM messages, public Wi-Fi networks that you might be sharing with hackers, and even lost or stolen devices.

Here’s a quick rundown of some key steps to stay safe:

  • Stick to legitimate stores (Google Play and Apple’s App Store) – you are 23 times more likely to install a potentially harmful application (PHA) outside Play, according to Google.
  • Read the permissions requested by applications when you install them. If they seem excessive (i.e., a gaming app that wants to access your address book and microphone) then avoid. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Always ensure you’re on the latest version of Android.
  • Don’t log-in to public Wi-Fi, or if you must, don’t use any sensitive accounts (email, banking etc) until you get back onto a private and secure network. Otherwise, use a WiFi VPN, like Trend Micro WiFi Protection.
  • Ensure your device has a remote lock and wipe feature switched on, to sign out of accounts and wipe the device if it is lost or stolen.
  • Don’t brick/jailbreak the device as this can expose it to security risks.
  • Be cautious – you may be more likely to click on phishing links in emails, texts, and via social channels when on the move as you could be distracted and/or in a rush.
  • Run anti-malware on your mobile device, from reputable company like Trend Micro.

How can Trend Micro help?

The last recommendation is non-trivial. Trend Micro offers customers comprehensive anti-malware capabilities via Trend Micro Mobile Security (TMMS), which provides protection from malicious apps via the Mobile App Reputation Service (MARS).

With Agent Smith, there are two malicious parts: the Agent Smith malware itself and the doppelganger apps that it creates on victim devices to replace the legitimate ones. MARS/TMMS detects both. On Google Play, the MARS/TMMS pre-install scan will detect Agent Smith before it installs. (This same function will prevent you from downloading other malicious apps to your device.) Otherwise, both Agent Smith (installed from a 3rd-party store) or the doppelganger apps it creates will trigger the real-time scan in MARS/TMMS and warn you the apps are not safe, so you can delete them from your device.

Among its other features, Trend Micro Mobile Security also:

  • Blocks dangerous websites
  • Checks if public WiFi connections are safe
  • Guards financial and commercial apps
  • Optimizes your device’s performance
  • Protects your kids’ devices with parental controls
  • Protects your privacy on social media
  • Provides lost device protection.

Used in conjunction with Trend Micro Password Manager, for securing and managing your passwords, and Trend Micro WiFi Protection, for keeping you save on public WiFi, Trend Micro Mobile Security can help keep your mobile device—both you and your identity—safe from threats like Agent Smith and countless others.

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Protecting Chrome users in Kazakhstan



When making secure connections, Chrome trusts certificates that have been locally installed on a user's computer or mobile device. This allows users to run tools to inspect and debug connections during website development, or for corporate environments to intercept and monitor internal traffic. It is not appropriate for this mechanism to be used to intercept traffic on the public internet.

In response to recent actions by the Kazakhstan government, Chrome, along with other browsers, has taken steps to protect users from the interception or modification of TLS connections made to websites.

Chrome will be blocking the certificate the Kazakhstan government required users to install:

Common Name
Qaznet Trust Network
SHA-256 Fingerprint
00:30:9C:73:6D:D6:61:DA:6F:1E:B2:41:73:AA:84:99:44:C1:68:A4:3A:15:
BF:FD:19:2E:EC:FD:B6:F8:DB:D2
SHA-256 of Subject Public Key Info
B5:BA:8D:D7:F8:95:64:C2:88:9D:3D:64:53:C8:49:98:C7:78:24:91:9B:64:
EA:08:35:AA:62:98:65:91:BE:50


The certificate has been added to CRLSet. No action is needed by users to be protected. In addition, the certificate has been added to a blocklist in the Chromium source code and thus should be included in other Chromium based browsers in due course.