Category Archives: breaches

7 Cybersecurity Practices to Protect Organizations from Future Threats

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Cybersecurity is the process of protecting and defending an enterprise’s use of cyberspace by detecting, preventing and responding to any of the malicious attacks like disabling, disrupting, injecting malware, or anything thing else aimed to harm the organization.

At its center, cybersecurity defends your organization from vicious and threat attacks aimed to disrupt and steal information from your organization. Cybersecurity risks are similar to financial and reputational risks as it could directly affect the organization’s growth, driving the costs up and adversely affecting the revenue.

If you’re a part of an organization, and especially, if your workplace stocks sensitive information of individuals or clients involved, then this is an ideal time to educate yourself regarding cybersecurity and ways to safeguard your organization against cyber attacks and threats with the help of professionals who hold cybersecurity certifications.

  1. Enable Firewall

In football, there’s a famous phrase- “Attack is the first line of defense.” and in the scenario of cybersecurity, the firewall serves the very same purpose. The firewall protects unauthorized access to your system, mail services, and websites. In addition to the external firewall, considering installing internal firewalls for the work network as well as on for your home network, in cases if employees decide to work remotely.

  1. Conduct Cybersecurity Awareness Training

According to a recent survey, 77% of those who took part admitted that they use free public WiFi networks to access work-related documents or have connected their corporate devices to such networks which are most often unsecured. Only 17% of them said that they use a VPN when outside the office.


33% of insider threat attacks have caused due to mistakes or irrationality from the employees; these mistakes are preventable. As per the SANS, cybersecurity experts have reported that their knowledge programs have made a tangible impact on the organization’s security.

  1. Back-Up Company Data

It is one of the prioritized security practices among cybersecurity professionals. Backing up your data could be a lifesaver. In the advent of Trojan horses and Ransomware, small mistakes could lead to complete data wipeout.


Handling the back-up data is also equally important. Make sure back-ups are thoroughly protected, encrypted, and updated frequently.

  1. Multi-Factor Authentication

MFA (Multi-factor authentication) is considered to be one of the prominent cybersecurity practices among professionals. MFA adds an extra layer of protection to any data that is protected by this means.


Even in an unfortunate situation if any malicious attack gets to your sensitive data, it would further require to pass additional authentication layers of security to get to the actual data and cause any harm. Also, these practices are notification enabled, and any susceptible attempt is reported to the user by multiple communication channels.

  1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policies 

BYOD policies have been around since 2004, and ever since it has managed only to boom among the corporate culture. It is predicted that by 2022, the BYOD market will hit $367B. Also, research data has it that the companies who opt for BYOD, save $350/year for every employee.

Sure, letting the employees use their own devices for work increases their productivity, but it does make the organization’s data susceptible to cyber attacks. With the increasing use of the mobile device, smartwatches, and wearables, and IoT products companies that are serious about BYOD or using cloud storage, in general, should consider the security vulnerability and implement stringent policies to protect their valuable information. MDM (Mobile Device Management) software enables the cybersecurity or the IT team to implement security settings and configurations that let them secure all devices connected to company networks

  1. Manage Passwords

Changing passwords is a pain, and employees often distance themselves from such action unless the HR or the IT team forcefully sit next to them and make them change their passwords.

Password management is a critical part of corporate security, and in today’s BYOD world, it is essential to be extra cautious about data protection. Privileged access accounts are diamond mine for the attackers, and when it comes to the security of these accounts, unauthorized access could doom the growth of the organization.

  1. Document Cybersecurity Policies

Business often operates on verbal bases when it comes to security while ideally, they should be considering documenting every policy and training operations related to cyberspace. Multiple online portals like the Small Business Administration (SBA) & FCC’s Cyberplanner 2.0 Cybersecurity portal provides checklists, online instruction, and information distinct to protect online businesses.


Always remember the fact that one unsafe click could result in complete data wipeout or leak, and education yourselves about the cybersecurity practices that could help your organization prevent itself from threats. Not just to an organization’s security, it is also helpful to any individual who uses the internet. Keeping yourselves afloat regarding such practices is a part of the job as all kinds of engagement is slowly and swiftly happening on the cloud.




Author Bio:

Gaurav Belani is a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at The 20 Media, a content marketing agency that specializes in data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in digital marketing and loves to read and write about AI, ML, cybersecurity and other emerging technologies. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies and listening to music. Connect with him on Twitter @belanigaurav.


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The Threat of Online Skimming to Payment Security

How the emerging threat of online skimming presents a great threat to the payment security community.  On the blog, we cover basic questions with PCI SSC Chief Technology Officer Troy Leach about a newly released bulletin by the PCI SSC on the topic of digital skimming and how to detect and prevent this dangerous threat.

Nine lessons for strong incident response and recovery in a data breach

Data breaches are rarely out of the headlines, but the recent proposed fines against BA and Marriott will have pushed this risk back to the forefront for many businesses. Like many security threats, breaches are nothing new; we’ve covered this subject on our blog many times in the past.

A data breach can take many forms; it can involve an employee losing a laptop or mobile device that contains data about an organisation’s employees or customers. It might involve a criminal infiltrating IT systems to steal payment card numbers or bank account details. When the data involved is personally identifiable information, the General Data Protection Regulation comes into play. Under GDPR, organisations must report a breach to the data protection supervisory authority within 72 hours. A look through our archives netted us a valuable haul of nine lessons from past breaches that can help to guide you in forming an incident response plan.

Lesson 1: pay attention to security alerts

Let’s start back in March 2014. News of the now-infamous breach at the US retailer Target was still fresh, having happened the previous November. The security breach resulted in the loss of 40 million payment card details, as well as 70 million other personal records. The kicker? Not long before, Target had installed a network monitoring tool costing a cool $1.6 million. However, operators dismissed its early alerts that could have averted or at least mitigated the subsequent breach. Side note: back in those heady days, data breaches were still things that happened to other people. Our blog quoted the security expert Neira Jones, who confidently predicted that a retailer in the UK or Europe would suffer a data breach before long.

Lesson 2: scammers read the news, too

Fast forward to summer 2015 and the high-profile breach at Ashley Madison. The website’s interesting business model – encouraging extra-marital affairs – meant the loss of more than 30 million personal records had an extra sting. Apart from launching a thousand double entendres (we may have been guilty of a few ourselves), Ashley Madison catapulted the issue of data breaches firmly into the public consciousness. As it turned out, that proved to be a double-edged sword. As our blog writer Lee Munson noted, scammers often take advantage of the publicity surrounding a large breach. He warned companies to watch out for “spam email, identity theft, carefully crafted phishing emails and even potential blackmail attempts”.

Lesson 3: check password re-use

Later that year, four security breaches came to light in one single week. The victims were Experian, Patreon, and Australian retailers Kmart and David Jones. In our blog, we advised being aware of how information can be used against victims. For example, if someone’s password was compromised in one of those breaches, it’s worth checking whether they use the same passwords on other websites.

Lesson 4: check for vulnerability to SQL injection attacks

Soon after, the Chinese toy company Vtech revealed that an unauthorised party had accessed more than six million accounts. That was enough to make it the fourth largest ever breach to that point – however minor by today’s standards. Possibly the least surprising detail in the story was that the attacker used SQL injection to access the data. Lee Munson noted that even in 2015, this was an ancient and well known attack vector.

Lesson 5: employee negligence can lead to breaches too

Not all breaches are the work of external miscreants. ESET estimated that 138,000 smartphones and laptops are left behind in UK bars every year. Let’s leave aside some questionable maths in arriving at such an arresting stat. There’s no denying the risk from leaving devices just lying around when they could well hold personal information. That could include passwords, location history, personal photos and financial information. The survey found that two thirds of lost devices had no security protection. As anyone familiar with data protection and privacy issues will know, encrypting sensitive data is now a must.

Lesson 6: a data security breach can seriously harm your ability to do business

Whatever the source, the steady drip of breaches was starting to have an effect. By early 2016, data breaches ranked second on a listing of the biggest threats to business continuity. TalkTalk, victim of a serious breach the previous year, was a case in point. In the wake of the incident, and the company’s ham-fisted attempts at handling the fallout, a quarter of a million customers took their business elsewhere. Not long after, we covered a separate report that found the cost of online crime had tripled over the previous five years. Lee Munson wrote: “a data breach is not a one-time cost but rather an event that can cause extreme reputational damage (think TalkTalk) or additional loss of revenue when the damage is widespread”.

Lesson 7: mind your language

All too often, companies that have suffered a data breach are quick to throw about phrases like “sophisticated cyberattack”. But it’s often premature and just downright wrong, when any investigation is still ongoing, and the facts are unclear. “It’s hard to escape the suspicion that victim organisations reach for these terms as a shield to deflect blame. By definition, they imply the incident was beyond their means to prevent,” we wrote. Our post carried the headline “Time to remove ‘cyberattack’ from the infosecurity incident response manual?” Our inspiration was the Associated Press Stylebook’s decision to stop using the word cyberattack unless it specifically referred to widespread destruction. As AP lead editor Paula Froke said: “the word is greatly overused for things like hacking”.

That said, positive communication is a key part of any incident response plan. After detailing what word not to use, our post included advice for companies preparing post-incident statements.

  • Deal only in verified facts
  • Avoid speculation
  • Explain the incident in business terms
  • Include details of users or services affected by the breach.

Lesson 8: prepare a security incident response team

By mid-2017, the prospect of GDPR started coming into view, and the need to handle breaches appropriately started becoming clear. Senior management must lead the response efforts. “This is a business issue, not an IT problem,” said Brian Honan, who was speaking at an awareness-raising event. Brian recommended that organisations should assemble an incident response team from across all business functions. Ideally, the team should include people from:

  • IT operations (because they know how data storage systems work)
  • HR (because a data breach could involve staff data, or because a member of staff may have caused the breach inadvertently or deliberately)
  • Legal (because GDPR obliges organisations to notify the regulator)
  • PR or communications (because the company will need to deliver accurate messages to external stakeholders, the media, or internal staff as appropriate)
  • Facilities management (because the organisation may need to recover breach evidence from CCTV or swipe card systems).

Lesson 9: test the security incident response plan

The most critical lesson is to develop and test their incident response processes in advance. Speaking at the same GDPR event, Brian stressed that companies shouldn’t wait for a breach to happen before testing how its policies work. “Find out in advance how well your team works when an incident occurs. Carry out table-top exercises and scenario planning. It is important to have processes and infrastructure in place to respond to a security breach. Developing your incident response plan while responding to a security breach is not the best time to do it,” he said.

Our trawling expedition proves it’s worth planning for something even when you don’t intend for it to happen. The steps we’ve outlined here should help you to recover from a data breach or security incident faster.

If you would like to evaluate your breach response, see our risk assessment services page for more information. Or, if you need guidance in developing a structured incident response plan, contact us.

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Fighting talk and fines obscure other GDPR lessons from BA and Marriott data breaches

There’s been lots of talk about regulations with bite, a watchdog baring its teeth, and that ‘the gloves are off’ after the UK Information Commissioner’s Office one-two punch of a £184 million fine against British Airways, and £99 million against Marriott International announced a day later.

It certainly looks like the ICO went for the jugular (sorry, it’s contagious) over breaches of the General Data Protection Regulation. But it reminds me of the build-up to the regulation before May 2018. Then, much of the coverage focused on the potentially huge fines at stake. In the same way, last week’s news shouldn’t obscure the lessons beyond the attention-grabbing sums of money.

A wake-up call

The first thing to clarify is that these fines haven’t been issued yet. In both cases, the ICO is saying it’s an intention to fine – it’s giving both companies a warning. Whether or not the amounts will be close to the published figures, we know there will be fines for sure. Companies should take this as a wake-up call that non-compliance with GDPR requirements may result in tough penalties.

As I noted in the SANS Institute newsletter, the fines are not for having a breach, but for poor security that helped it. The ICO press statement makes this very clear. “The ICO’s investigation has found that a variety of information was compromised by poor security arrangements at the company, including log in, payment card, and travel booking details as well name and address information,” it said.

Strong message

That being said, the proposed fine nevertheless amounts to 1.5 per cent of British Airways’ revenue. “This should send a strong message to all organisations that are regulated by the GDPR to take the security and privacy of their customer data seriously,” I wrote.

In an interview with Bank Info Security, I said that more GDPR fines are likely on the way. “Many GDPR data breaches, especially the highly publicised ones, can take a long time for proper investigations by the supervisory authorities… What we are seeing now are the beginnings of the supervisory authorities issuing penalties under GDPR, and I expect we will see many more over the coming months.”

The ICO’s moves last week aren’t the first fines that a supervisory authority has imposed under GDPR. As Tracy Elliott noted in our blog marking the first year post-GDPR, there have been other, smaller fines issued in the UK, Portugal and France. We also know that Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has several cases ongoing against Facebook, Google and Quantcast.

(Don’t just) follow the money

Last week, I was at the Maastricht University European Centre on Privacy and Cybersecurity, where I contribute to certification training for data protection officers (DPOs). Some attendees said their senior management were now asking what the fines could mean. They also wondered what assurances they have that their own organisations aren’t at risk from a similar incident.

After the race to get ready for GDPR by May 2018, a certain amount of complacency set in. Since these breaches, the size of these proposed fines has raised GDPR on senior management’s radar again. (Side note: BA’s share price fell by more than £115 million after the news came out.)

There are broader lessons from last week’s news. It’s important to look beyond the financial repercussions, particularly in companies whose business model relies on gathering and processing data. Bear in mind that fines are just one penalty that a regulator can impose. They could compel companies to delete data or stop processing certain types of data. That could have a bigger long-term impact on their business than a monetary fine which they could absorb. Not being able to gather data in a certain way could have negative repercussions on how you do business.

Third-party risk

The root causes of BA and Marriott’s breaches highlight a particular security risk: external third parties. BA’s breach was due to a software script integrated into its website. There were no checks in place to verify any changes to that code. The Marriott breach came from its acquisition of Starwood hotels in 2016. It only discovered in 2018 that Starwood’s customer database suffered a hack in 2014.

So, companies need to ask what due diligence they need to carry out against third-party vendors and suppliers. If your company plans to acquire or partner with businesses, you inherit their risk profile, security and data protection frameworks. You need to check what assurances you have that these third parties are adhering to your security requirements, rather than you inheriting theirs.

In light of the news, what actions should other companies take? Interestingly, even before the ICO’s news, the Irish DPC issued a short guide to information sources to consider when reviewing or setting security.

Companies should carry out continuous auditing and verification to ensure their security and privacy controls are working. And if they don’t have the internal resources to do this, to work with independent experts to verify those controls.

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Are Virtual Cybersecurity Labs the Future of Cybersecurity Education?

Cybercrime affecting businesses has become so widespread that IT and network security professionals are always thinking about that next breach and the costs of recovering from it. This increased risk has also raised the demand for better virtual defenses to prevent the loss of sensitive organizational data such as personal consumer details and internal communications.

There is a substantial need for cybersecurity training. It’s something that many businesses are interested in, but implementing the right system isn’t easy. Physical labs are expensive, require significant time and resources, and aligning everyone’s schedules is often impossible.

Virtual labs are a great way for you to provide your customers and partners with access to the latest cybersecurity product demos and training. These labs are accessible from anywhere, customers can engage with them on their terms, they cost less, and increase the overall quality of the training.

What’s the Appeal of Virtual Cybersecurity Labs?

In the corporate sphere, there has been a trend in recent years of organizations shifting away from traditional instructor-led courses towards virtual cybersecurity training labs. The transition is due to the high demand for meticulous cybersecurity education that offers first-hand experience to participants while keeping costs low.

Cloud-based training environments are appealing because they offer a scenario-based approach. Since the field of cybersecurity requires analytical and critical thinking in real-world circumstances, the controlled environment of a virtual lab is often cited as the best method for teaching network security. Learners will encounter real-world scenarios, work through them, and engage with essential hands-on material that provides more engagement than a traditional slideshow or lecture.

What Are The Primary Benefits of a Virtual Cybersecurity Lab?

  • These classes offer training and simulations that are run through cloud-based virtual machines that are accessible from any of the major browsers. Participants can engage with the material, request help, and engage in team exercises from anywhere in the world.
  • A virtual lab removes the need for travel costs or high-end hardware on the client side since training is conducted primarily through an Internet browser on the employee’s terminal. The simulation is centralized and accessible from anywhere at any time with nothing but an Internet connection.
  • Because the host hardware is centralized, upgrading the lab in response to continually evolving technologies and security trends can be done inexpensively and quickly.
  • A single lab can be expanded to accommodate additional employees or partners at little to no cost. You can add additional RAM, user slots, and other specs as needed. This has helped make virtual labs a popular choice for growing businesses.
  • Feedback between instructors and participants is instant and convenient. Instructors can step in at any point and offer help, track user participation, and other relevant analytics.

What Should You Look for in a Virtual Cybersecurity Environment Provider?

There is no shortage of virtual lab providers on the market. Cloud-based cybersecurity courses are in huge demand because of the added customization that they offer. The process for developing a suitable training lab differs depending on your organization’s needs and preferences. However, here are a few things to consider:

  • Networking devices, including switches, routers, and firewalls. Remember that you want to support multiple instances of virtualization for the networking scenarios used in the course. While you want the reliability of enterprise-grade equipment, consider looking into the refurbished market if your business needs to keep costs low.
  • Find a reputable virtual lab provider. There are many virtual IT labs on the market. Find one that offers the right mix of features, analytics, and the ability to scale as you grow.
  • Have the right IT team in place. Your IT team will need to create the environments for any material that you want to teach within the cloud. Getting started isn’t hard, but it will require an IT professional that knows how to prepare the needed virtual environments.

The goal of this process is to build a successful hands-on virtual cybersecurity lab that is scalable to all participants and teaches essential cybersecurity skills in real-world environments to your customers and business partners.

Are Virtual Cybersecurity Labs Really the Future?

It’s safe to say that cloud technology isn’t going anywhere at this point. We are still feeling the effects of the innovation wave that was caused by the invention of cloud technology.

Everything we do today is tied to the cloud in some way.

  • The most popular software offered by Adobe and Microsoft is all cloud-based.
  • That CRM your business relies on is powered by the cloud.
  • Your favorite Spotify playlist is stored in the cloud.

B2B training is changing. The advancements in virtual labs have accelerated the obsolescence of traditional labs. Agile companies that want to stay competitive will need to accept this and transition their cybersecurity, IT, and product demos to the cloud.

New technologies are frightening to businesses with established processes. But if we’ve learned anything from the failures of Kodak, Nokia, Xerox, Blockbuster, and other large corporations, it’s that failing to stay in line with innovation can (and will) lead to disastrous results in the long-term.

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GDPR one year on

May 2019 marks the first anniversary since the General Data Protection Regulation came into force. What has changed in the world of privacy and data protection since then? BH Consulting looks at some of the developments around data breaches, and we briefly outline some of the high-profile cases that could impact on local interpretation of the GDPR.

Breach reporting – myths and misconceptions

Amongst the most immediate and visible impacts of the GDPR was the requirement to report data breaches to the supervisory authority. In the context of GDPR, a personal data breach means a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data. The regulation introduced a duty on all organisations to report personal data breaches to the supervisory authority where they are likely to pose a risk to data subjects. This report must take place within 72 hours of the controller becoming aware of the breach, where feasible. There are additional obligations to report the breach to data subjects, without undue delay, if the breach is likely to result in a high risk of adversely affecting individuals’ rights and freedoms.

Between May 2018 when GDPR came into force, and January 2019, there were 41,502 personal data breaches reported across Europe, according to figures from the European Data Protection Board. In Ireland, the Data Protection Commission recorded 3,542 valid data security breaches from 25 May to 31 December 2018. This was a 70 per cent increase in reported valid data breaches compared to 2017.

Notwithstanding the uptick in the number of reported breaches, it has been suggested that many organisations are still unsure how to spot a data breach, when a breach may meet the criteria for reporting, or even how to go about reporting. With this in mind, the key lessons to consider are:

Not every breach needs to be reported

Organisations controlling and processing personal data should have a process in place to assess the risks to data subjects if a breach occurs. This assessment should focus on the severity and likelihood of the potential negative consequences of the breach on the data subject.

Assess the risks

When assessing whether to report, the controller will need to consider the type of breach, sensitivity and volume of the personal data involved, how easily individuals can be identified from it, the potential consequences and the characteristics of the individual or the controller (such as if the data relates to children or it involves medical information).

Who’s reporting first?

It’s possible the supervisory authority may hear about the breach from other sources including the media or affected data subjects. If this is the case, an authority such as the DPC may reach out to the affected organisation first, even before that entity has reported.

Establish the facts

As a final point, it is important not to forget that, even if you do not need to report a breach, the GDPR requires you to document the facts relating to it, its effects and remedial action taken. Therefore, you should keep a record should of all privacy incidents, even if they do not rise to a reportable level. This will help you learn from any mistakes and to meet accountability obligations.

Points to note

Keep in mind that it is not just about reporting a breach; organisations must also contain the breach, attempt to mitigate its negative effects, evaluate what happened, and prevent a repeat.

Breach reporting myths

Several misconceptions quickly emerged about GDPR, so here is a short primer to clarify them:

  1. Not all data breaches need to be reported to the supervisory authority
  2. Not all details need to be provided as soon as a data breach occurs
  3. Human error can be a source of a data breach
  4. Breach reporting is not all about punishing organisations
  5. Fines are not necessarily automatic or large if you don’t report in time

Resource cost – beyond the obvious

There have been a limited number of GDPR-related fines to date (see below) but this amount is likely to increase. Aside from financial penalties relating to breaches, organisations and businesses also need to consider the cost involved in complying with the regulation more generally.

This includes the resources needed to engage with a supervisory authority like the Data Protection Commission, as well as the amount of time it typically takes to manage a subject access request (SAR). The number of SARs is increasing because GDPR allows individuals to make a request free of charge.

GDPR enforcement actions: Google

In the runup to May 25 2018, there had been significant doubts about effective enforcement of the GDPR. If the seemingly invulnerable American social media and technology giants were able to ignore requirements without consequence, what would happen to the credibility and enforceability elsewhere? But against the current global backdrop, those technology companies have become far less invulnerable than they once seemed. Most cases are still making their way through the appeals procedure, but initial verdicts and sanctions are causing ripples for everyone within scope.

On January 21, 2019, the French Supervisory Authority for data protection (CNIL) fined Google €50 million for GDPR violations – the largest data protection fine ever imposed. The case raises several important privacy issues and provides useful insights into how one supervisory authority interprets the GDPR.

CNIL’s decision focuses on two main aspects: (i) violation of Google’s transparency obligations under the GDPR (specifically under Articles 12 and 13) and (ii) the lack of a legal basis for processing personal data (a requirement under Article 6). The CNIL is of the opinion that the consent obtained by Google does not meet the requirements for consent under the GDPR. Google is appealing the decision.

The decision dismisses the application of the GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism by holding that Google Ireland Limited is not Google’s main establishment in the EU (which would have made Ireland’s DPC the competent authority, rather than the CNIL). Since the fine is more than €2 million, it is clearly based on the turnover of Alphabet, Google’s holding company in the United States, not on any European entity.

GDPR enforcement actions: Facebook

On 7 February, Germany’s competition law regulator, FCO, concluded a lengthy investigation into Facebook and found that the company abused its dominant market position by making the use of its social network conditional on the collection of user data from multiple sources.

Facebook has not been fined; instead, the FCO imposed restrictions on its processing of user data from private users based in Germany. Facebook-owned services such as WhatsApp and Instagram may continue to collect data but assigning that data to a Facebook user account will only be possible with the user’s voluntary consent. Collecting data from third party websites and assigning it to a Facebook user account will also only be possible with a user’s voluntary consent.

Facebook is required to implement a type of internal unbundling; it can no longer make use of its social network conditional on agreeing to its current data collection and sharing practices relating to its other services or to third party apps and websites. Facebook intends to appeal this landmark decision under both competition and data protection law in the EU.

Other enforcement actions

After Birmingham Magistrates’ Court fined workers in two separate cases for breaching data protection laws, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office warned that employees could face a criminal prosecution if they access or share personal data without a valid reason.

The first hospital GDPR violation penalty was issued in Portugal after the Portuguese supervisory authority audited the hospital and discovered 985 hospital employees had access rights to sensitive patient health information when there were only 296 physicians employed by the hospital. The failure to implement appropriate access controls is a violation of the GDPR, and the hospital was fined €400,000 for the violations.

Lessons from year one

For data controllers and processors, the lessons to be learned from the first year of GDPR are clear:

Transparency is key

You must give users clear, concise, easily accessible information to allow them to understand fully the extent of the processing of their data. Without this information, it is unlikely any consent we collect will be considered to be a GDPR level of consent.

Fines can be large

CNIL’s response to Google demonstrates that regulators will get tough when it comes to fines and take several factors into account when determining the level of fine.

Watch the investigations

There are current 250 ongoing investigations – 200 from complaints or breaches and 50 opened independently by the data protections authorities so these will be interesting to watch in 2019.

Lead Supervisory Authority identity

Google and Facebook have both appointed the DPC in Ireland as their lead supervisory authority and have included this in the appeals process. CNIL took the lead in Google investigation, even though Google has its EU headquarters in Ireland – because the complaints were made against Google LLC (the American entity) in France.

Further challenges

There are further challenges to the way for the tech giants use personal data show no sign of dwindling. A complaint has been filed with Austria’s data protection office in respect of a breach of Article 15 GDPR, relating to users of Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (again) and Spotify being unable to access their data. 2019 should be an interesting year for Privacy.

What lies ahead?

The GDPR cannot be seen in isolation; it emerged at the same time as a growing public movement that frames privacy as a fundamental right. The research company Gartner identified digital ethics and privacy as one of its top trends for 2019. From a legislative perspective, the GDPR is part of a framework aimed at making privacy protection more robust.

PECR is the short form of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. They implement the e-privacy directive and they sit alongside the Data Protection Act and the GDPR. They give people specific privacy rights on electronic communications and they contain specific rules on marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes, cookies and similar technologies, keeping communications services secure and customer privacy relating to traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

Further afield in the US, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was signed into law in June 2018 and will come into effect on 1 January 2020. It’s intended to give California residents the right to know what personal data is being collected about them, and whether that information is sold or disclosed. Many observers believe the Act will trigger other U.S. states to follow suit.

For the remainder of 2019 and beyond, it promises to be an interesting time for privacy and data protection.

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3 Ways to Improve Your Online Store’s Cyber Security

If you don’t do your utmost best to ensure that your online store is safe to use, you could end up putting your customers in real danger. From their finances being stolen to their personal data being hacked into, any kind of trouble could befall your site’s users if you do not take cyber security seriously. Make sure, then, that you take it seriously!

When it comes to improving your online store’s cybersecurity measures, the following advice makes for essential reading.

Make your mobile payments safer

One of the most burgeoning e-commerce trends is mobile payment. As stated on Oberlo’s mobile shopping trends article, this is because this kind of transaction process prioritizes comfort, and it makes the buying process a whole lot simpler. You would be foolish not to grant your customers the opportunity to pay for things on your store via their mobile devices.

Allowing this kind of payment to take place does come with its fair share of drawbacks; however, the biggest one being that it isn’t always the safest form of transaction. This doesn’t mean that you can’t strengthen your mobile payment process, though. Some of the measures that you can and should put into place in this instance include:

  • Only ever using a trusted payment platform
  • Ensuring that your payment terminals are NFC-enabled
  • Encrypting your network to ensure sensitive information cannot be sent through it

Switch to HTTPS

In this day and age, if you continue to stick with the HTTP protocol, your online store will be a sitting duck for cyber criminality. If you’re serious about safety, you must switch to HTTPS.

Created initially to safeguard the particularly sensitive elements of e-commerce sites, such as the payment process, HTTPS is now used to protect whole websites. By embracing this protocol, you will be able to be sure that your visitors’ data will remain safe at all conceivable points.

Protect your Admin Panel

Your Admin Panel is the aspect of your store that is least difficult for cybercriminals to crack. All it takes is for you to set a weak password, and hackers can have a field day when it comes to accessing all of the data you store in the backend of your site.

To protect your Admin Panel, you need to:

If they were to encounter trouble with a cybercriminal while using your online store, you can be sure that your customers will not give you a second chance. They will lose trust in you instantly, and more than likely never return to you again — and they’ll tell everybody that they know to avoid your website in the future, too, for good measure. If you don’t take cybersecurity seriously, you could also even find yourself in hot water with the authorities. The impact cyber criminality could have on your online store is something you should want to avoid at all costs, which is why you must put all of the above advice into practice as soon as possible.

The post 3 Ways to Improve Your Online Store’s Cyber Security appeared first on CyberDB.

Security roundup: May 2019

We round up interesting research and reporting about security and privacy from around the web. This month: password practice, GDPR birthday, c-suite risk, and further reading for security pros.

Passwords: a good day to try hard

No self-respecting security pro would use easy passwords, but could they say the same for their colleagues (i.e. everyone else)? The answer is no, according to the UK National Cyber Security Centre. It released a list of the 100,000 most hacked passwords, as found in Troy Hunt’s ‘Have I Been Pwned’ data set of breached accounts. Unsurprisingly, ‘123456’ topped the list. A massive 23 million accounts use this flimsy string as “protection” (in the loosest possible sense of the word). Next on the list of shame was the almost as unimaginative ‘123456789’, ‘qwerty’, ‘password’ and 1111111.

The NCSC released the list for two reasons: firstly to prompt people to choose better passwords. Secondly, to allow sysadmins to set up blacklists to block people in their organisations from choosing any of these terrible passwords for themselves. The list is available as a .txt file here and the agency blogged about the findings to give more context. Help Net Security has a good summary of the study. The NCSC published the research in the buildup to World Password Day on May 2, which Euro Security Watch said should be every day.

WP Engine recently performed its own analysis of 10 million compromised passwords, including some belonging to prominent (and anonymised) victims. It makes a useful companion piece to the NCSC study by looking at people’s reasons for choosing certain passwords.

Encouraging better security behaviour through knowledge is one part of the job; effective security controls are another. In April, Microsoft said it will stop forcing password resets for Windows 10 and Windows Server because forcing resets doesn’t improve security. CNet’s report of this development noted Microsoft’s unique position of influence, given its software powers almost 80 per cent of the world’s computers. We recently blogged about what the new FIDO2 authentication standard could mean for passwords. Better to use two-factor authentication where possible. Google’s Mark Risher has explained that 2FA offers much more effective protection against risks like phishing.

GDPRversary getting closer

Almost one year on from when the General Data Protection Regulation came into force, we’re still getting to grips with its implications. The European Data Protection Supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, has weighed in on the state of GDPR adoption. He covered many areas in an interview with Digiday, including consent, fines, and legitimate interest. One comment we liked was how falling into line with the regulation is an ongoing activity, not a one-time target to hit. “Compliance is a continued working progress for everyone,” he said.

The European Data Protection Board (formerly known as the Article 29 Working Group) recently issued draft guidance on an appropriate legal basis and contractual obligations in the context of providing online services to data subjects. This is a public consultation period that runs until May 24.

The EDPB is also reportedly planning to publish accreditation requirements this summer. As yet, there are no approved GDPR certification schemes or accreditation bodies, but that looks set to change. The UK regulator recently published its own information about certification and codes of conduct.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission has started a podcast called Know Your Data. The short episodes have content that mixes information for data controllers and processors, and more general information for data subjects (ie, everyone).

Breaching the c-suite

Senior management are in attackers’ crosshairs as never before, and 12 times more likely to be targeted in social engineering incidents than in years past. That is one of the many highlights from the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Almost seven out of ten attacks were by outsiders, while just over a third involved internal parties. Just over half of security breaches featured hacking; social engineering was a tactic in 33 per cent of cases. Errors were the cause of 21 per cent of breaches, while 15 per cent were attributed to misuse by authorised users.

Financial intent was behind 12 per cent of all the listed data breaches, and corporate espionage was another motive. As a result, there is a “critical” need for organisations to make all employees aware of the potential threat of cybercrime, Computer Weekly said. ThreatPost reported that executives are six times more likely to be a target of social engineering than a year ago.

Some sites like ZDNet led with another finding: that nation-state attackers are responsible for a rising proportion of breaches (23 per cent, up from 12 per cent a year ago). It also highlighted the role of system admin issues that subsequently led to breaches in cloud storage platforms. Careless mistakes like misconfiguration and publishing errors also left data at risk of access by cybercriminals.

The Verizon DBIR is one of the most authoritative sources of security information. Its content is punchy, backed by a mine of informative stats to help technology professionals and business leaders plan their security strategies. The analysis derives from 41,000 reported cybersecurity incidents and 2,000 data breaches, featuring contributions from 73 public and private organisations across the globe, including Ireland’s Irisscert. The full report and executive summary are free to download here.

Links we liked

Challenge your preconceptions: a new paper argues cybersecurity isn’t important. MORE

An unfortunate trend that needs to change: security pros think users are stupid. MORE

It’s time to panic about privacy, argues the New York Times in this interactive piece. MORE

Want a career in cybersecurity, or know someone who does? Free training material here. MORE

NIST has developed a comprehensive new tool for finding flaws in high-risk software. MORE

NIST also issued guidelines for vetting the security of mobile applications. MORE

Cybersecurity threats: perception versus reality as reported by AT&T Security. MORE

Here’s a technical deep dive into how phishing kits are evolving, courtesy of ZScaler. MORE

A P2P flaw exposes millions of IoT security cameras and other devices to risks. MORE

A new way to improve network security by analysing compressed traffic. MORE


The post Security roundup: May 2019 appeared first on BH Consulting.

Busting 5 Cybersecurity Myths

It is not a secret that many people nowadays do not pay much attention when they surf the web at home or at work. There are new data breaches and exploits on a daily basis and still avoiding to take any precautions may result in a catastrophic consequences. Even the biggest corporations are paying millions of dollars so they can improve their cybersecurity and remain safe. However, if you still believe in some of the cybersecurity myths you may put your own computer or even your whole organization to a huge risk. We from CyberDB have decided to bust some of the top 5 cyber security myths and make it clear for you.

Only the IT department is responsible for cybersecurity

It is not wrong to say that the IT department is responsible to implement new processes and policies to keep the cybersecurity in a top notch state. However, they just don’t have a magic stick to protect all of the computers in the network. In reality each employee should be extremely careful when receiving and opening different e-mail messages from colleagues or third parties. It is dangerous since the infection can spread across all of the departments within the organization and this may cause a further data breach for example.

Using just an antivirus software is enough

Antivirus software might have been enough to safe your business from potential attack 20 years ago – nowadays it definitely is just not enough to protect your whole organization. Hackers find new ways to disable your antivirus and hide their attacks in the system. With ransomware gaining more popularity among hackers the time of getting infected and getting your information locked is just a matter of seconds. So using an antivirus is not always enough, but you also need to stay informed about the latest threats. Check out our database of cyber security vendors to find the best solution for your personal or business needs.

A strong password is enough

It is not a secret that having a long and complex password on your accounts is an essential. However, even big tech giants like Facebook or Apple experience data breaches and are pretty often a target for hackers. Every website requires you to create a strong password, but it is also good to use two-factor-authentication (2FA). At first the user was getting an SMS with a code for 2FA, but even this can be compromised by using a cloned sim card. So make sure you have an app like Google Authenticator for example to make your accounts more secure.

Threats are being spread only through the Internet

Some users may think that disconnecting from the internet will prevent the threats spreading around the network and they are completely wrong. Just imagine what happens if an employee brings an infected flash drive and plugs it in – all of the computers may become infected and your company may lose valuable information. You may have your information stolen even when you shop at a local retailer. So threats are not only online, but in our daily life and we need to be very careful and take care of our personal information.

Only certain industries experience cyber attacks

Some businesses still believe that they may be not targeted by hackers because they are a small or mid-sized business or in a specific industry. Well, they are completely wrong. Some companies also believe they do not have anything that hackers may find valuable to steal. In reality there is information like personal addresses or credit card numbers which can make every business in every industry a potential target. Here are the industries which are most vulnerable to cyber-attacks nowadays:

 Top 10 Sectors Breached

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