Author Archives: Julia Sowells

Security as a Service: Why Apply for SECaaS?

In today’s corporate environment, businesses and organizations rely heavily on services. This is especially true for their IT department, whose proprietary system and infrastructures can be costly to build. “As-a-service” products range in various types across all industries, and security as a service is one such product.

What Is Security as a Service (SECaaS)?

Security as a service (SECaaS) is a business model that offers companies and organizations affordable cloud-based cybersecurity services. Through SECaaS, companies and organizations no longer need to buy cybersecurity hardware or software to improve their cybersecurity system.

The company also doesn’t need to hire extra personnel to handle cybersecurity on a daily basis. In a security as a service model, the provider handles the management of the company’s cybersecurity.

Benefits of SECaaS

Security as a service is not a new business model, but cloud computing and other advancements in technology have made SECaaS a more cost-effective choice than having a heavily dedicated in-house cybersecurity group.

Below are the benefits of security as a service:

Affordability

Security as a service is the most affordable way to strengthen a company’s cybersecurity. Because SECaaS providers offer their services to multiple clients through a cloud platform, they can keep their rates low and affordable even for midsize companies.

Use of the latest cybersecurity tools

Through security as a service, companies can use the latest cybersecurity tools and software without having to buy it themselves. Their cybersecurity tools won’t fall behind industry standards, and hackers cannot use old exploits to infiltrate their system

Lower overhead cost

Since companies don’t need to hire extra personnel and buy patches for cybersecurity tools, the company has less overhead cost. In the long run, this can translate to profits that can be put into expansion or other investments.

Better data management

Through SECaaS, organizations can be sure that their data remains safe and secure. SECaaS providers monitor the movement of data across the company’s network and can detect when a user tries to access a file without permission.

Security as a Service Example

Security as a service offers a broad spectrum of cybersecurity services and solutions. Due to the wide spectrum of these services, the non-profit organization Cloud Security Alliance has outlined them into the following categories:

Network Security

Cybersecurity service that provides network access permissions while monitoring and protecting network services.

Vulnerability Scanning

Focuses on scanning and evaluating the client’s system for security vulnerabilities.

Web Security

Protects the company network from website and internet-based attacks.

Email Security

Monitors inbound and outbound emails for any malicious files and attachments, spam emails, and phishing emails.

Encryption

A service where outbound files are scrambled using ciphers to prevent any third party from reading the file.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Monitors, protects, and backs up files in case of data breach or loss.

Final Note

Businesses today know just how important data and information are. That’s why cybersecurity is a top priority for many businesses that deal with sensitive information.

Through security as a service (SECaaS), companies of all sizes can have the best cybersecurity without breaking the bank.

Also Read,

The 10 Best Managed Security Service Providers in 2019

Illegal Streaming Services Threatens Computers and Data Security

Adwind Spyware-as-a-Service Utility Grid Operators Attacks

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What Does GDPR Mean for Your Organization?

GDPR ,or the General Data Prevention Regulation, is a new law that has been enforced by the European Union since May 25, 2018. The goal of this regulation is to update the Data Protection Directive of 1995; this was was enacted before the widespread use of the internet, which has drastically changed the way data is collected, transmitted, and used.

Another key component of the GDPR is to update regulations about data protection for sensitive personal information. It places an emphasis on the need to protect any and all collected data.

At the core of this new regulation, it aims to simplify, update, and unify the protection of personal data.

Why Does GDPR Matter to You?

The main changes from GDPR mean that companies can no longer be lax about personal data security. In the past, they can get away with simple tick-boxes to achieve compliance. This is no longer the case.

Here are the top points to consider regarding the General Data Prevention Regulation.

  1. A company does not have to be based in the EU to be covered by the GDPR. As long as they collect and use personal data from citizens of the EU, they must adhere to this regulation.
  2. The fines for violating the regulations set forth by the GDPR are huge. Serious infringements such as not having the right customer consent to process their data can net the violating company a fine of 4% of their annual global income, or 20 million Euros — whichever one is bigger.
  3. Personal data definition has become wider and now includes items such as the IP address and identity of their mobile device.
  4. Individuals now have more rights over the use of their personal data for security purposes. Companies can no longer use long-worded terms and conditions in order to obtain explicit consent from their customers to process their data.
  5. GDPR has made technical and organizational measures of protecting personal data to be mandatory. Companies now need to hash and encrypt personal data in order to protect them.
  6. Registries relating to data processing are now mandatory as well. What this means is that organizations need to have a written record (electronically) of all the activities they would do with the personal data, which captures that lifecycle of data processing.
  7. Impact assessments for data protection, such as data profiling, will now be required.
  8. Reporting any and all data breaches is now mandatory. Organizations have a maximum of 72 hours to report a breach in their security, which places personal data at risk. If it poses a high risk for individuals, then it should be reported immediately or without delay.
  9. If an organization processes a large amount of data, they will be required to have a Data Protection Officer, who is in charge of monitoring compliance with the regulation and reports directly to the highest management level of the company.
  10. The GDPR is mainly focused on data protection by design and by default.

There is no doubt that the legal and technical changes the GDPR requires in order to comply at an organizational level is big. Achieving compliance takes more than information security or legal teams alone. It takes the creation of a GDPR task force to find an organization that understands the changes and effects on its operation. They will work together in order to meet compliance requirements set forth by the new regulation.

Also Read,

GDPR: Non-Compliance Is Not An Option

GDPR Compliance And What You Should Know

How Will The GDPR Survive In The Jungle of Big Data?

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The Five Incident Response Steps

It is important to remember that implementing incident response steps is a process and not an isolated event. For a truly successful incident response, the team should have a coordinated approach. There are five key steps in responding to incidents to ensure efficiency.

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The five important incident response steps are the following.

Preparation

The key to an effective incident response is preparation. Sometimes even with the best team, they cannot effectively address a situation without the proper guidelines or plan. This should be in place in order to support the team and is one of the most important incident response steps.

Features that should be included in the plan are:

  • Develop and document policies and procedures for proper incident response management.
  • Create a communication standard so teams can coordinate properly during an incident.
  • Incorporate threat intelligence feeds, and perform ongoing analysis and synchronization of feeds.
  • Do cyber hunting exercises for a more proactive approach to incident response.
  • Assess the current threat detection capability of the organization, and update if needed.

Detection and Reporting

The second in the series of incident response steps is detecting and reporting potential security threats.

Monitor

Firewalls, IP systems, and data loss prevention solutions can all help you monitor security events in the environment.

Detect

Security threats can be detected by correlating the alerts in a SIEM solution.

Alert

An incident ticket should then be created and the initial findings documented. An incident classification would then be assigned.

Reporting

All report processes should include ways to accommodate regulatory reporting escalations.

Analysis

Most of the understanding of a security threat happens during the analysis part of the incident response steps. Evidence is collected from the data coming in from tools and systems for proper analysis and identification of the incident.

Analysts should focus on three main areas:

Endpoint Analysis

  • Find any tracks that could have been left behind by the threat actor.
  • Collect all the artifacts required to recreate the timeline of events.
  • Analyze the systems from a forensic perspective.

Binary Analysis

Analyze any malicious binaries or tools used by the attacker, and document these programs along with their functionalities. This can be done either through behavioral analysis or static analysis.

Enterprise Hunting

  • Check systems and the event log to determine what was compromised.
  • Document all the accounts, machines, tools, programs, etc. that were compromised for proper containment.

Containment

The fourth in the incident response steps is one of the most critical: containing and neutralizing the threat based from all indicators gathered through the analysis. Normal operations can resume after system restoration.

Coordinated Shutdown

Once all the affected systems are identified, a coordinated shutdown should be done for these devices.

Wiping and Rebuild

All infected devices need to be wiped, then the operating systems are rebuilt from the ground up. Passwords need to be changed for accounts compromised by the threat event.

Threat Mitigation Requests

If domains or IP addresses are identified and known to be used by threat actors, you should issue a threat mitigation request in order to block all future communication with these domains.

Post-Incident

There is more work to be done even after containment is successful with the final of the incident response steps.

  • Create a complete incident report.
  • Closely monitor the activities of affected devices and programs.
  • Update your threat intelligence to avoid similar attacks.
  • Last but not least of the incident response steps, implement new preventive measures.

Also Read,

Building Your Incident Response Team

Many Organizations Lack Plan to Respond to Incidents: Study Report

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Defining and Understanding User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)

User and Entity Behavior Analytics, or UEBA for short, provides you with a comprehensive solution for IT security while helping find and detect any user or anomaly that might be harmful to the network.

Defining UEBA

This is basically a cybersecurity solution that can recognize and essentially remember normal user behavior. As such, it can identify weird or anomalous instances whenever a user or an entity deviates from their regular “pattern.” A good example of this is if a user normally downloads 10MB worth of data in a da, but suddenly starts to download 100GB, the UEBA would detect this as anomalous and flag it.

A great feature of UEBA is that it uses a combination of machine learning, statistical analysis, and complex algorithms in order to detect deviations in patterns that can lead to harmful effects for the entire system. The UEBA can essentially aggregate the data that you have.

The main difference of UEBA is that it does not track events or monitor devices; instead, it tracks the actions of all the organization’s users and its entities. It focuses more on insider threats, which can include rogue employees or those who have been compromised by outside machinations.

Benefits of UEBA

Hackers and malicious attackers are evolving to the point that conventional security tools are fast becoming obsolete. Firewalls, gateways, and intrusion prevention applications can be bypassed now, which is especially true with bigger corporations, since their IT is more complex to maintain and manage.

Detection is now incredibly important, more so than ever, because it is just a matter of time for hackers to figure out your defenses and get into the network. It is up to other systems, such as UEBA, to detect anomalous activities for immediate response and potential threat prevention.

How UEBA Works

The concept of UEBA is quite simple. Hackers can steal usernames and passwords, but it would be difficult for them to mimic an employee’s habits or normal behavior when accessing the company’s network, especially since their intent is to steal rather than to work.

A relatable analogy here is if a thief is able to steal your credit card. That thief would then go on a shopping spree, using your card in retail stores that you do not normally visit. This would trigger the bank’s fraud detection policies.

Because of this, UEBA has proven to be an important part of any organization’s IT security.

  • It can detect insider threats, such as an employee or group of employees who’ve decided to go rogue against the company by stealing data. This can be detected by UEBA.
  • It can detect compromised accounts like in the above example. A hacker may obtain the username and password of an employee and start stealing information. This anomalous behavior can be detected by UEBA.
  • A brute-force attack is a common hacker tool that can be hindered or otherwise prevented by UEBA.
  • It can detect changes in user permissions or the creation of super admins to flag these, especially if they are deemed unnecessary by the system.
  • UEBA can prevent unauthorized access of sensitive and protected data, limiting access to only those who actually need said data.

Best Practices of UEBA

UEBA was established due to the malicious behavior of users and other entities. It  is not meant to replace other monitoring systems but  to complement them instead, which enhances your organization’s overall security.

It is a great idea to harness Big Data, statistical analysis, and mechanical learning in order to prevent a huge increase in useless alerts due to the large amount of data generated.

UEBA essentially helps you take a more proactive approach in IT security and threat detection. It creates a layer of protection against malicious attacks. And as they say, prevention is always better than a cure.

Also Read,

It Should be Cybersecurity and not IT security

IT Security Procedures You Should Not Forget After Electronic Gadget Shopping

IT Security Culture Evolution of Businesses Exposed

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Defining the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP)

The Principle of Least Privilege, or POLP, is the idea that any user, program, or even process should only be provided the bare minimum of privilege for them to perform their function. For example, a new user created for the purpose of pulling records from a database may not need administrative privileges, while a programmer who updates lines of legacy code does not need access to financial records. The main principle of POLP is also known as the Principle of Least Authority, or POLA, and the Principle of Minimal Privilege, or POMP.

Following POLP is considered best practice for information security.

How It Works

The POLP works by granting just enough access to perform a specific task. Within an IT environment, this reduces the risk of malicious attacks gaining access to critical systems, as well as sensitive data, due to a low-level account user, a single device, or an application being compromised. By implementing the Principle of Least Privilege, this contains the compromise to the area of origin, which stops it from spreading.

Examples of Principle of Least Privilege (POLP)

The Principle of Least Privilege is applicable on every level of a system, including end users, devices, processes, networks, applications, systems, and all other facets of the IT environment. Here are examples of how POLP can work in practice.

User Accounts With POLP

An employee who’s tasked to enter information into a database requires access to the specific database. If a malware is able to infect this employee’s device, the infection would be limited to this database because that employee does not have access to other databases or systems.

MySQL Account With POLP

A MySQL account can use POLP by employing several different accounts to do a unique task. An online form that allows users to sort data should only use an account with sorting privileges. This way, if an attacker gains access, they are only granted one specific privilege. However, if that account has the ability to delete records, for example, the attacker would be able to wipe out the entire database.

“Just in Time” Least Privilege

A user who rarely needs root privileges should only be granted such freedom when working on a specific task. Otherwise, those privileges should be pulled. Disposable credentials are a great way to implement POLP and increase security.

POLP Benefits

POLP was established for enhanced security and so carries many benefits.

  • Enhanced Security – Edward Snowden was able to access and take millions of NSA files because he had administrator privileges even though his task was simply to create backups. Ever since, the NSA has implemented POLP.
  • Limit Malware Attacks – If a system or device is infected by malware, POLP is able to contain it to the original infection and prevent it from spreading throughout the network.
  • Improve Audits – The scope of an audit will dramatically reduce when POLP is in effect. On top of that, several regulations actually require companies to abide by this principle.
  • Improved Stability – The Principle of Least Privilege increases the system stability by limiting the effects of changes.

POLP Best Practices

  1. Do a privilege audit – Check all current accounts, programs, and processes to see if they have the right privileges or too much.
  2. Create accounts with least privilege – By default, new user accounts created should have the least possible privilege set and higher ones to be set later on.
  3. Separate privileges – There should be separate administrative accounts from standard ones and higher accounts from low-level system functions.
  4. Use “just in time” privilege – When possible, you should restrict raised privileges in moments of need only.
  5. Trace individual actions – Automatic auditing can simplify tracking and mitigation of damage.
  6. Regularize – In the practice of POLP, privilege audits should be done regularly to prevent old user accounts and processes from accumulating privileges they do not need.

Also Read,

API Security, Developers And Users Responsibility

5 Informative Security Podcasts to Listen To

Cybersecurity In Mid-2019: Nothing To See Here, Same Problems

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Why Is a Data Classification Policy Absolutely Important?

Today, data is a valuable commodity. Without it, company executives cannot make well-informed decisions, marketers won’t understand their market’s behavior, and people will have a hard time finding each other over social media platforms. But not all data are equal, which is why companies must have a data classification policy in place to safeguard the important and sensitive data.

What Is a Data Classification Policy?

Data classification policy is an organizational framework aimed at guiding employees on how to treat data. During the creation of a data classification policy, categories for data are created to help the company distinguish which data are considered confidential and which are considered public.

A data classification policy applies to all kinds of data acquired by the company. Both digital and written data must be inspected with equal importance and classified appropriately according to the data classification policy.

Data Classification Policy and Cyber Security

When it comes to cybersecurity and risk management against unexpected data breaches, data classification policies play an important role.

Data classification policies help rank-and-file employees, as well as C-level management, identify which set of data must be treated with utmost care. A well-crafted data classification policy would view corporate decisions as strictly confidential, and such highly-sensitive information must be secured with the highest possible form of encryption.

Data policies also shed light on what data are considered public, personal, confidential, and sensitive. Each classification is given a different level of security under the policy, and each data set is given to key personnel for compilation, collection, and storage.

Because of the nature of the policy, data classification plays a supporting role in a company’s cybersecurity program, making it harder for corporate spies to retrieve valuable company data. The data classification policy must also provide details on where the data should be stored and who has authority to retrieve them.

Data Classification Services

Information security firms know how risky data theft is for companies, especially for Fortune 500 companies that have a large volume of sensitive data. That’s why many information security companies offer data classification services to help companies reduce their overall vulnerability.

Data security experts provide data classification services that include tools, training, and collaboration with clients in the creation of a data classification program. Many data classification services build the data classification policy from the ground up and help with the implementation of the policy. They also conduct security checks to help ensure that the level of security does not fall.

Conclusion

With companies receiving a large volume of data every day, it’s difficult for company employees and managers to stop and think about how a piece of data must be classified and handled. Without a clear and well-structured policy in place, employees are left to decide how data are stored and managed.

If you believe in the importance of data security, then having a well-structured data classification policy and availing data classification services from data security experts will give your company the data protection it needs to prevent heavy damages in case of a data breach.

Also Read,

Defining Data Classification

Common Sense Ways Of Handling Data, Digital Or Not

Key Factors for Data – Centric Data Protection

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