Category Archives: Risk Management

Data Security in the Cloud: How to Lock Down the Next-Gen Perimeter

Enjoy the video replay of the recent Threatpost cloud security webinar, featuring a panel of experts offering best practices and ideas for managing data in a cloudified world.

On the path to Zero Trust security: Time to get started

No need to belabour the point. We all know that trying to defend the network perimeter is a bit futile in today’s mobile and cloud first world. So, the obvious question – what’s next? Vendors are quick to come to your aid with their latest, next generation, virtualized, machine learning and AI based security platform. Industry analysts on the other hand are proposing various security frameworks and approaches for reducing risk. Whether it’s Gartner with … More

The post On the path to Zero Trust security: Time to get started appeared first on Help Net Security.

Why ISO 27005 risk management is the key to achieving ISO 27001 certification

If you’re familiar with ISO 27001, you’ll know that it’s the international standard for information security and contains the certification requirements that are expanded upon throughout the ISO 27000 series.

There are 46 standards in total in the series (although only a few apply to every organisation), of which ISO 27005, the risk management standard, is arguably the most important and easiest to get wrong.

What is risk management?

Risk management is the process of analysing how an organisation will be affected by a disruptive incident and what the consequences might be. This includes any scenario in which the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data is compromised.

Assessing these risks helps inform your decision about the best way to reduce risk to an acceptable level.

Getting this process right is essential, because your entire ISMS (information security management system) is shaped around your response to risks. You need an accurate estimation of how risks will play out in order to prioritise the biggest threats and adopt the appropriate controls.

What does ISO 27005 say?

As with every standard in the ISO 27000 series, ISO 27005 doesn’t prescribe a specific approach to risk management. This is because organisations have their own challenges and must tackle them in a way that suits them.

This is markedly different from other popular risk management standards such as OCTAVE and NIST SP 800-30, which adopt a one-size-fits-all approach and are perceived to restrict business efficiency and productivity.

That’s not to say organisations have to figure everything out themselves. ISO 27005 provides a detailed but flexible structure to meet its requirements, comprising five stages.

1. Identification

  • Identify assets: First, you need to locate every piece of information you hold and determine whether it is a ‘primary’ or ‘supporting’ asset. Primary assets are information or business processes, and supporting assets are related IT systems, infrastructure and people resources. Organisations are required to identify primary assets, and supporting assets that could have an impact on the primary asset, typically giving details about asset ownership, location and function.
  • Identify threats: Threats are many and varied, and should be continuously monitored to take into account new and emerging threats.
  • Identify vulnerabilities: Your organisation will have weaknesses in its technology, people (human error, malicious action, social engineering, etc.) and processes, all of which need to be identified.
  • Identify existing controls: Unlike other risk assessment methodologies, an ISO 27005 risk assessment requires an organisation to identify all of its existing controls and to take into account the protection provided by these controls before applying any new ones.

2. Assessment

ISO 27005 encourages organisations to focus their response efforts on the biggest threats, so you should use the information you’ve gathered about your assets, vulnerabilities and threats to prioritise the biggest risks.

There are many ways to do this, but the most common approach involves the following equation:

Risk = (the probability of a threat exploiting a vulnerability) x (total impact of the vulnerability being exploited)

Find out more about risk assessment >>

3. Treatment

Now that you know the level of risk that each threat poses, you need to decide how you’ll treat them. There are four options:

  • Modify the risk by implementing a control to reduce the likelihood of it occurring. For example, you might address the risk of a work-issued laptop being stolen by creating a policy that instructs employees to keep devices with them and to store them safely.
  • Avoid the risk by ceasing any activity that creates it. This response is appropriate if the risk is too big to manage with a security control. For example, if you’re not willing to take any chances of a laptop being stolen, you might choose to ban employees from using them off-site. This option will make things less convenient for your employees but will drastically improve your security posture.
  • Share the risk  with a third party. There are two ways you can do this: by outsourcing the security efforts to another organisation or by purchasing cyber insurance to ensure you have the funds to respond appropriately in the event of a disaster. Neither option is ideal, because you are ultimately responsible for your organisation’s security, but they might be the best solutions if you lack the resources to tackle the risk.
  • Retain the risk. This means that your organisation accepts the risk and believes that the cost of treating it is greater than the damage that it would cause.

The method you choose depends on your circumstances. Avoiding the risk is the most effective way of preventing a security incident, but doing so will probably be expensive if not impossible. For example, many risks are introduced into an organisation by human error, and you won’t often be able to remove the human element from the equation.

You’ll therefore be required to modify most risks. This involves selecting the relevant information security controls, which are outlined in Annex A of ISO 27001 and explained further in ISO 27002.

4. Communication

You need to keep a record of how you are tackling the risk and inform anyone who might be affected.

For example, if you’ve modified the risk of certain sensitive documents being misappropriated by applying access controls to them, you should tell your employees. This ensures that, should a staff member be denied access when they have a legitimate need to view the information, they know what the issue is and what action to take.

Likewise, if you’re avoiding a risk by no longer doing whatever it is that caused the problem, you also need to pass on the message to your staff.

5. Review

Risk management (and ISO 27001 compliance generally) is an ongoing process, so you need to regularly monitor your management plan. This serves two purposes. First, it enables you to check whether the treatment options you selected are working as intended. You might find that a control you implemented isn’t addressing the risk as well as you’d hoped or that it’s simply not appropriate. Likewise, you might have chosen to avoid certain risks but found that they are still present.

Second, it enables you to assess the changing threat landscape. New risks will have emerged and existing ones might have transformed, forcing you to reassess your priorities and your approach to risk management.

Learn how to deliver effective ISO 27005 risk management

Our ISO 27005 Certified ISMS Risk Management training course is the ideal starting point for anyone who wants to know more about how to deal with information security threats.

This three-day course develops your understanding of the key areas of information risk management, and is based on recognised best practice and real-world examples.

Find out more >>

A version of this blog was originally published on 8 May 2017.

The post Why ISO 27005 risk management is the key to achieving ISO 27001 certification appeared first on IT Governance Blog.

Third Party Security Risks to Consider and Manage

Guest article by Josh Lefkowitz, CEO of Flashpoint
 
Acceptable business risks must be managed, and none more so than those associated with external vendors who often have intimate access to infrastructure or business data. As we’ve seen with numerous breaches where attackers were able to leverage a weaknesses a contractor or service provider, third-party risk must be assessed and mitigated during the early stages of such a partnership, as well as throughout the relationship.
 
The following tips can help security decision makers more effectively address the risks posed by relationships with technology vendors.
 
Do Your Homework
Conducting thorough due diligence on a prospective vendor is essential. Organisations could evaluate technical and regulatory risk through due diligence questionnaires, for example, or even on-site visits if necessary. The point is to evaluate not only a third party’s information security risk, but compliance with regulations such as GDPR for privacy and PCI DSS for payment card security, for example. An organisation may also want to evaluate a third party’s adherence to industry standards such as NIST or ISO in certain security- and privacy-related areas.
 
Next, consider what this compliance information doesn’t tell you. What do you still need to learn about the vendor’s security posture before deciding whether you’re comfortable with it? Think about what questions you still have and, if possible, seek answers from the vendor’s appropriate security contact. Here are some questions to pose: 
When was your last penetration test? Is your remediation on schedule?
  • Have you documented security incidents? How did you remediate those incidents?
  • Do you have the result of your last business continuity test? If yes, can you share it?
  • What security controls exist for your users? Do they use multifactor authentication, etc.?
  • How are you maturing your security program?
  • Are you ISO, SOC 1/SOC 2, and NIST Compliant, and is there documentation to support this? 
Additional Security: It’s All in the Controls
If you’re unsatisfied with the answers from a potential partner regarding their security, it’s OK to walk away, especially if you make the determination that working with the vendor may not be critical to your business.  

That’s not always the case, however. If you must partner with a particular third party and if no other reputable vendors offer anything comparable, you will likely need to implement additional technical and/or policy controls to mitigate the security risks associated with your business’s use of the offering, such as:
 
Technical
These are typically restrictions on the access and/or technical integrations of vendor offerings. For example, if a product is web-based but unencrypted, consider blocking users on your network from accessing its website; provided the proper authentication is in place, use its API instead. In most cases, there are two options, remediation or compensating controls:
  • Remediation: Can you work with the vendor to remediate the technical risk?
  • Compensating controls: If you cannot remediate the risks entirely, can you establish technical compensating controls to minimise or deflect the risk?
Policy
These are policies that users of the offering should follow, such as limits on the types and amounts of data that can be input securely. Some typical policy scenarios include:
  • Regulatory compliance: For example, a vendor’s non-compliance could mandate you walk away from a third-party relationship.
  • Contractual obligations: Are there contractual obligations in place with your existing clients that prevent you from working vendors who don’t meet certain security and privacy standards?
  • Security best practices: Ensure your policies around risk are enforced and determine whether they may conflict with your vendors’ policies.
Asset Inventory is a Must
There are several reasons why it’s imperative to know which of your business’s assets the vendor will be able to store and/or access. For one, this knowledge can help identify and shape any additional security controls. Second, having this knowledge on hand is crucial should the vendor suffer a breach. Knowing exactly what assets were impacted, as well as who is doing what with your inventory, can expedite your response and identify and mitigate any exposure efficiently and effectively.
 
Response Plans Must Include Partners
Before finalising a vendor relationship, it’s crucial to use all the information gathered during your due diligence process to construct a response plan in preparation for any future incidents the vendor might experience. Tracking the assets to which your vendor has access is one component of an effective response plan. Others include courses of action to mitigate exposure, disclosure and notification procedures, external communications strategies, and plans to re-evaluate the vendor’s security and remediation following an incident.
 
The most effective way to manage vendor risk is not to work with any external vendors in the first place, which isn’t a feasible strategy. The most secure and successful vendor relationships are rooted in preparation and transparency. Thoroughly understanding all facets of a vendor’s security program, implementing additional controls as needed to appropriately safeguard your business’s assets, and being prepared to respond to future incidents can go a long way toward reducing business risks associated with any vendor relationship.
Josh Lefkowitz, CEO of Flashpoint

Security roundup: March 2019

We round up interesting research and reporting about security and privacy from around the web. This month: ransomware repercussions, reporting cybercrime, vulnerability volume, everyone’s noticing privacy, and feeling GDPR’s impact.

Ransom vs ruin

Hypothetical question: how long would your business hold out before paying to make a ransomware infection go away? For Apex Human Capital Management, a US payroll software company with hundreds of customers, it was less than three days. Apex confirmed the incident, but didn’t say how much it paid or reveal which strain of ransomware was involved.

Interestingly, the story suggests that the decision to pay was a consensus between the company and two external security firms. This could be because the ransomware also encrypted data at Apex’s newly minted external disaster recovery site. Most security experts strongly advise against paying extortionists to remove ransomware. With that in mind, here’s our guide to preventing ransomware. We also recommend visiting NoMoreRansom.org, which has information about infections and free decryption tools.

Bonus extra salutary security lesson: while we’re on the subject of backup failure, a “catastrophic” attack wiped the primary and backup systems of the secure email provider VFE Systems. Effectively, the lack of backup put the company out of business. As Brian Honan noted in the SANS newsletter, this case shows the impact of badly designed disaster recovery procedures.

Ready to report

If you’ve had a genuine security incident – neat segue alert! – you’ll probably need to report it to someone. That entity might be your local CERT (computer emergency response team), to a regulator, or even law enforcement. (It’s called cybercrime for a reason, after all). Security researcher Bart Blaze has developed a template for reporting a cybercrime incident which you might find useful. It’s free to download at Peerlyst (sign-in required).

By definition, a security incident will involve someone deliberately or accidentally taking advantage of a gap in an organisation’s defences. Help Net Security recently carried an op-ed arguing that it’s worth accepting that your network will be infiltrated or compromised. The key to recovering faster involves a shift in mindset and strategy from focusing on prevention to resilience. You can read the piece here. At BH Consulting, we’re big believers in the concept of resilience in security. We’ve blogged about it several times over the past year, including posts like this.

In incident response and in many aspects of security, communication will play a key role. So another helpful resource is this primer on communicating security subjects with non-experts, courtesy of SANS’ Lenny Zeltser. It takes a “plain English” approach to the subject and includes other links to help security professionals improve their messaging. Similarly, this post from Raconteur looks at language as the key to improving collaboration between a CISO and the board.

Old flaws in not-so-new bottles

More than 80 per cent of enterprise IT systems have at least one flaw listed on the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) list. One in five systems have more than ten such unpatched vulnerabilities. Those are some of the headline findings in the 2019 Vulnerability Statistics Report from Irish security company Edgescan.

Edgescan concluded that the average window of exposure for critical web application vulnerabilities is 69 days. Per the report, an average enterprise takes around 69 days to patch a critical vulnerability in its applications and 65 days to patch the same in its infrastructure layers. High-risk and medium-risk vulnerabilities in enterprise applications take up to 83 days and 74 days respectively to patch.

SC Magazine’s take was that many of the problems in the report come from companies lacking full visibility of all their IT assets. The full Edgescan report has even more data and conclusions and is free to download here.

From a shrug to a shun

Privacy practitioners take note: consumer attitudes to security breaches appear to be shifting at last. PCI Pal, a payment security company, found that 62 per cent of Americans and 44 per cent of Britons claim they will stop spending with a brand for several months following a hack or breach. The reputational hit from a security incident could be greater than the cost of repair. In a related story, security journalist Zack Whittaker has taken issue with the hollow promise of websites everywhere. You know the one: “We take your privacy seriously.”

If you notice this notice…

Notifications of data breaches have increased since GDPR came into force. The European Commission has revealed that companies made more than 41,000 data breach notifications in the six-month period since May 25. Individuals or organisations made more than 95,000 complaints, mostly relating to telemarketing, promotional emails and video surveillance. Help Net Security has a good writeup of the findings here.

It was a similar story in Ireland, where the Data Protection Commission saw a 70 per cent increase in reported valid data security breaches, and a 56 per cent increase in public complaints compared to 2017. The summary data is here and the full 104-page report is free to download.

Meanwhile, Brave, the privacy-focused browser developer, argues that GDPR doesn’t make doing business harder for a small company. “In fact, if purpose limitation is enforced, GDPR levels the playing field versus large digital players,” said chief policy officer Johnny Ryan.

Interesting footnote: a US insurance company, Coalition, has begun offering GDPR-specific coverage. Dark Reading’s quotes a lawyer who said insurance might be effective for risk transference but it’s untested. Much will depend on the policy’s wording, the lawyer said.

Things we liked

Lisa Forte’s excellent post draws parallels between online radicalisation and cybercrime. MORE

Want to do some malware analysis? Here’s how to set up a Windows VM for it. MORE

You give apps personal information. Then they tell Facebook (PAYWALL). MORE

Ever wondered how cybercriminals turn their digital gains into cold, hard cash? MORE

This 190-second video explains cybercrime to a layperson without using computers. MORE

Blaming the user for security failings is a dereliction of responsibility, argues Ira Winkler. MORE

Tips for improving cyber risk management. MORE

Here’s what happens when you set up an IoT camera as a honeypot. MORE

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

Games people play: testing cybersecurity plans with table-top exercises

If a picture is worth a thousand words, and video is worth many multiples more, what value is an interactive experience that plants you firmly in the hot seat during a major security incident? Reading about cyberattacks or data breaches is useful, but it can’t replicate the visceral feeling of a table-top exercise. Variously called war-gaming scenarios or simulated attacks, they can be a valuable way of helping boards and senior managers understand the full implications of cyber threats. More importantly, they can shed light on gaps where the business can improve its incident response procedure.

These exercises are designed to be immersive. They might start with a scenario like a board meeting, or a company orientation day. All participants will get a role to play; for the purpose of the session, they might be designated as a head of HR, finance, legal, or IT. As the scenario starts to unfold, a message arrives. The press has been enquiring about a major data breach or a ransomware attack on the company.

Muscles tighten, a wave of nausea passes over the stomach. The fight-or-flight instinct starts to take hold. Your role might say manager, but you don’t feel like you’re in control.

What happens next?

That will depend on how much preparation your business has done for a possible cybersecurity threat. Some companies won’t have anything approaching a plan, so the reaction looks and feels like panic stations. At various points during this exercise, the facilitator might introduce new alerts or information for the group to react to. For example, that could be negative commentary on social media, or a fall in the company stock price.

The exercise should prompt plenty of questions for the participants. What exactly is going on? How do we find out what’s happened? How is this affecting operations? Who’s taking charge? What do we tell staff, or the public, or the media?

A growing sense of helplessness can be a powerful spur to make rapid changes to the current cybersecurity incident response plan (assuming there is one).

Other organisations may already have a series of steps for what to do in the event of an incident or breach. In these cases, the table-top exercise is about testing the viability of those plans. You can be prepared, but do the steps on paper work in practice? Or as Mike Tyson memorably put it, “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

The exercise can show the value of having a playbook that documents all procedures to carry out: “if X happens, then do Y”. This will also shed light on missing steps, such as contact numbers for key company executives, an external security consultant, regulators, law enforcement, or media.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

When it comes to developing or refining an incident response plan, the devil is in the detail, says David Prendergast, senior cybersecurity consultant at BH Consulting. Here are some useful questions to ask:

  • If your policy says: ‘contact the regulator’, ask which one(s)
  • Who is the specific point of contact at the regulators office?
  • Does the organisation have the email address or phone numbers for that person?
  • Who in your company or agency is authorised to talk to the regulator?
  • What information are they likely to need to have that conversation?
  • Do you have pre-prepared scripts or statements for when things might go wrong (for customers, stakeholders, staff, and media (including social media channels)?

It might also force the company into making certain decisions about resources. Are there enough internal staff to carry out an investigation? Is that the most appropriate use for those employees, or is it better to focus their efforts on recovering IT systems?

That’s the value in table-top exercises: they afford the time to practice when it’s calm and you can absorb the lessons. There are plenty of examples of companies that handled similar situations spectacularly badly in full public view. (We won’t name names, but the list includes anyone who uttered the words “sophisticated attack” before an investigation even started.)

By the (play)book

It’s more helpful to learn from positive examples of companies that showed leadership in the face of a serious incident. That can be as simple as a statement of business priorities while an organisation copes with the fallout. In 2017, as Maersk reeled from a ransomware infection, CEO Soren Skou gave frontline staff in 130 countries clear instructions. As the Financial Times reported, the message was unequivocal even as the company was forced into shutting down IT systems. “Do what you think is right to serve the customer – don’t wait for the HQ, we’ll accept the cost.”

Some larger companies will run an exercise just for themselves, but some organisations run joint war-gaming scenarios with industry peers. Earlier this month, financial institutions and trade associations from around Europe carried out a simulated ransomware attack.

According to FinExtra, the scenario took the form of an on-site technical and hands-on-keyboard experience. There were 14 participants at CISO and CIO level, along with many more observers from other companies in the financial sector. The aim of the event was to encourage collaboration and information sharing with other teams and organisations to improve collective defences against cyber threats.

Whether it’s a war-gaming exercise or a table-top event, the goal is the same: to be ready for the worst ahead of time, and knowing what steps are available to you when bad things happen for real.

The post Games people play: testing cybersecurity plans with table-top exercises appeared first on BH Consulting.

Shouldn’t Sharing Cyber Threat Information Be Easy?

A recent article revealed that the United States government has gotten better at providing unclassified cyber threat information to the private sector.  Law enforcement and intelligence organizations have greatly cut down the time it takes to provide unclassified versions of cyber threat indicators (a term that can reference that can refer to a variety of technical data that includes but is not limited to IP addresses, malware, e-mail addresses, etc.) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to disseminate promptly to the private sector.  The process had traditionally been slow as it involves an originating agency to determine if the indicator has been properly vetted without exposing sources and methods, per the article.

 

Speed of delivering pertinent threat information is certainly an improvement in a domain where attacks occur in seconds.  A November 2017 report from the DHS Office of the Inspector General provided a report on actions taken during 2016 in fulfillment of direction mandated by the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 with regards to the sharing of threat indicators.  Per the report, despite successfully classifying indicators and defensive measures, it still faced challenges effectively sharing such information across the public and private sectors.  The report advocated enhanced outreach and a cross-domain information processing solution.

 

One of the steps taken to ameliorate this situation is the improvement of releasing indicators promptly may have to do with DHS’ Cyber Information Sharing Tool that was set to be updated and upgraded in 2018.  Via the automatic indicator sharing tool (a capability that enables the exchange of cyber threat indicators between the Federal Government and the private sector at machine speed), DHS is able to disseminate such information directly to those organizations that have signed up for it.  As of January 2018, more than 200 private sector and government entities had done so, though it appeared per the article that it was believed that most weren’t using the information that they received to automatically block hostile network traffic.

 

Information sharing continues to be an important endeavor between the public and private sector as such data greatly assists in the detection, mitigation, and remediation efforts of organizations.  It also is a confidence building measure to strengthen the relationship between private companies and a government that has been criticized for not doing an adequate job in cyber security. Much of this private sector outreach falls on DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC).  Per its website, the NICCIC serves as the hub of information sharing activities for the Department to increase awareness of vulnerabilities, incidents, and mitigations. The NCCIC’s Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program is the cornerstone on which the public-private information sharing rests.

 

An April 2018 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that DHS needed to enhance its efforts to improve the security of public and private sectors.  Per the GAO findings, DHS had not developed most of the planned functionality for its National Cybersecurity Protection System information-sharing capability, and moreover; “DHS did not always agree about whether notifications of potentially malicious activity had been sent or received, and agencies had mixed views about the usefulness of these notifications.”

 

It’s good to see that bureaucratic red tape is being reduced especially since cyber threats are pervasive, ongoing, and quick.  Any effort that reduces the time to get information out of the classified realm and into the hands of the private sector that has often been cited as owning approximately 85 percent of critical infrastructure, a target-rich environment that is increasingly attracting hostile actor interest.  With only 200 customers signed up to DHS, such an undertaking is destined to spin its wheels.  DHS seems to be making the right moves to improve cyber security to include the recent establishment of its new Risk Management Center.  However, what is consistently lacking is getting private sector organizations on board, a critical component of information-sharing.  While it does not appear that the private sector can be mandated to get on board, something needs to be done to get everyone on the same page whether that be an articulate communications strategy, an incentive-based program, or some combination thereof.  Regardless, DHS is demonstrating its commitment to bringing the private sector on board. When the private sector will finally accept the outstretched hand it’s been given still remains to be seen.

 

This is a guest post by Emilio Iasiello

The post Shouldn’t Sharing Cyber Threat Information Be Easy? appeared first on CyberDB.

Understanding the GDPR

The European Union’s Parliament approved and adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in April 2016. This regulation will take effect after a two-year transitional period, meaning it will be fully enforced on May 25, 2018. At this time, if organizations are non-compliant, they will face hefty fines. There is a tiered approach to these fines; however, at a maximum an organization can be charged 4% of annual global turnover or 20 million euros ($23,554,200).

The GDPR applies to all organizations that process and hold the personal information of EU residents, regardless of the company’s location. To exemplify, the regulation pertains to all organizations located within the EU, as well as organizations that are located outside of the EU that offer good, services, or observe the behavior of EU citizens. These rules also apply to both controllers and processors of information, meaning that the cloud and other technologies are not exempt from the GDPR.

If information can be used to identify a person, directly or indirectly, it is protected under the GDPR. This includes but is not limited to names, email addresses, financials, medical data, and computer IPs.

Steps to take to prepare for the GDPR:

  1. Perform a compliance audit against the GDPR legal framework to identify where gaps exist, then work to remediate these shortcomings.
  2. Classify the personal data your organization possesses that is protected by the GDPR and implement the appropriate security measures. This includes understanding what information you have, where it came from, who it is shared with, and who has access to it.
  3. Appoint a data protection officer for your organization.
  4. Document all processes and keep a record for the Data Protection Association (DPA) in the country or countries your organization conducts business.
  5. Make sure the appropriate contracts are in place to protect your organization and ensure that the businesses you engage with are employing the same security measures.

Infringements of the GDPR include:

  • Not having sufficient customer consent to process personal information.
  • Not having records in order.
  • Violating the “Privacy by Design” and “Privacy by Default” concepts.
  • Failing to notify the data subject and the supervising authority about a breach or incident.
  • Not conducting an impact assessment.

Altogether, the GDPR is the most important change to data privacy regulations in decades. It is intended to make organizations more secure and accountable to their data subjects during all stages of their interactions. For more questions or to implement GDPR standards in your organization, please CONTACT US.

Patch Management

Cyber security controls are only effective if there are no means of bypassing them. If a vulnerability exists that enables someone or something to circumvent your organization’s existing set of security standards, your whole network could then be compromised. With the rise of cybercriminals targeting known vulnerabilities on unpatched systems, especially through worms and malicious code, implementing a patch management system in your organization is critical to maintaining a strong security posture.

Patch management is the routine procedure of administering updates for all technologically based products and programs, primarily applications and operating system versions. The goal is to create a securely configured digital environment in your organization that is consistently protected against all known vulnerabilities.

To be successful, patch management must be an ongoing process in which your system administrator or managed services provider:

  1. Maintains knowledge of available patches.
  2. Determines what patches are appropriate for the specific systems.
  3. Prioritizes the patches and protects your most critical vulnerabilities first.
  4. Tests the patches on non-critical systems before installation.
  5. Performs backups before installing a patch.
  6. Installs patches and makes sure they work properly.
  7. Tests the systems after installation.
  8. Documents all installed patches and the processes utilized.

Patch management is a critically important aspect of cyber security risk management because outbreaks like WannaCry occur because of unpatched vulnerabilities being exploited. In an organization with hundreds of systems, it only takes one compromised system to then harm the entire network. Altogether, in the technological world, there is rarely, if ever, a software or application that is developed without having to be modified or upgraded. As a result, a process must be implemented to distribute patches and remediate known vulnerabilities.

If you would like to discuss patch management in your organization, please CONTACT US.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Although National Cyber Security Awareness Month is coming to a close, COMPASS maintains a commitment to raising cyber security awareness throughout the year. The following are this year’s top blog posts that demonstrate ways to implement cyber security risk management in your organization and minimize the threats you may face.

  1. A Risk Manager’s Approach to Cyber Security 

Cyber security threats arguably pose the greatest danger to an organization’s risk management strategy. Risk managers should leverage their organization’s existing risk governance processes and methodologies to effectively analyze and manage cyber threats.

  1. Top 10 Assessment Findings

Although COMPASS’ client base is highly diverse, there are common findings we encounter on almost every single engagement. They are grouped by our approach to cyber security risk management which focuses on the 3 pillars of cyber security – people, policy and technology.

It is important for organizations to regularly assess not only their technical infrastructure, but also their organizational security awareness and policies. Organizations that fail to perform periodic assessments risk leaving themselves exposed to hackers who can exploit these vulnerabilities or negligent insiders who expose data unintentionally.

  1. 5 Steps to Develop a Security Program

Developing a practical and effective cyber security plan is vital to incorporating security into your organization’s risk management strategy. A common misconception is that a cyber security plan is lengthy and difficult to follow. However, that does not have to be the case. COMPASS recommends 5 steps for your cyber security plan.

  1. Business Email Compromise

BECs remain a prominent threat and will continue to be used in targeted scams. The victims of BEC attacks range from small business to large corporations and all employees should be aware of the dangers. Organizations that utilize robust prevention techniques have proven highly successful in recognizing and deflecting BEC attempts.

 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the unique cyber threats your organization faces, please CONTACT US.

Employee Security Awareness Training

Because humans are often the weakest link when it comes to cyber security, it is critically important to integrate employee security awareness training into your cyber security action plan. By educating employees on best practices, policies, procedures, popular attack methods and trends, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of a data breach.

Increasing your investment in cyber security awareness training can decrease the threat of a cyberattack by 45% to 70%. Common and effective employee training methods include:

  • On-boarding – When a new employee joins your organization, immediately make them aware of cyber security best practices your organization requires. This will create a strong cyber security posture throughout the employee’s lifespan.
  • Mock phishing exercises – Phishing attacks are one of the most common forms of social engineering that can harm businesses. By employing these exercises organizations can test their email platform and see how their employees would react in a real-life scenario.
  • Webinars – Webinars on cyber security trends give employees a chance to ask questions and hear firsthand of the importance of keeping data secure. These interactive sessions empower employees with the information necessary to support the organization’s goal of protecting its sensitive data.
  • Policy check surveys – Regularly testing the knowledge of employees is important to their understanding of company policies and procedures. These can identify and prioritize gaps that should be addressed in further employee training sessions. In addition, these surveys and their results will be important if your organization is audited or breached.
  • Regularly discuss cyber security with employees – Make cyber security part of your workplace culture so that employees are regularly acting with the organization’s best interests in mind. Proactively address employee negligence as it is one of the top causes of security incidents.
  • Incident response plan –Ensure employees are aware of their role in the company’s incident response plan. Practice this plan quarterly so in the event of a breach your organization can respond quickly and comprehensively to minimize the impact and associated costs.
  • Onsite training – Providing face-to-face security awareness training on cyber best practices and company policies and procedures gives employees an opportunity to ask questions and learn from experienced personnel.

Proactively training employees before an information security incident is critical to protecting the future of your business. Create policies and guidelines that assume your company will be targeted by cybercriminals and make sure employees know the appropriate actions that are necessary to keep the company’s data safe. Implementing employee training in your organization at least quarterly is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to reduce cyber security risks.

For more information on employing training in your workplace, please contact us.

Mobile Device Management

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a great method to ensure that your employees remain productive and do not violate any corporate policies. In the ever-expanding Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) world, more organizations are allowing employees the freedom to work from their own mobile devices. Tablets, smart phones, and personal laptops are taking a larger and larger space on corporate networks.

While there are numerous advantages to a BYOD environment, allowing personal devices onto a corporate network introduces a variety of security threats. A Mobile Device Management solution helps in securing that environment.

Here are 5 Tips you should implement when securing your devices with a MDM approach:

  1. Require standards for password strength – Make sure that your MDM is configured to require device passcodes that meet or exceed guidelines concerning length, complexity, retry and timeout settings for the appropriate device.
  2. Device Update Compliance – Set a minimum required version for employee mobile devices. This will require that employee devices are kept updated and restrict devices that do not comply with this setting.
  3. Prevent Jail-breaking – Prevent jail-broken or ‘rooted’ mobile devices. Allowing these devices could add an additional attack vector as many ‘rooted’ or jail-broken devices install third-party app stores that may contain malicious apps. Preventing these devices helps secure access to company data.
  4. Require usage of signed apps and certificates – Use your MDM to screen any mobile devices for suspicious applications before allowing access to company resources. These could be email programs, mobile apps, and networks (Wi-Fi or company VPN access). As with jail-broken devices, unsigned apps and certificates may allow malware to infect the device.
  5. Seek Employee BuyIn – Prior to allowing a user device onto your network, require the user acknowledge and accept basic corporate policies. Make sure that the user understands that company administrators will be able to revoke and/or restrict access to devices that don’t comply with company policy.

The best idea is to decide your corporate strategy and then choose a MDM solution that fits your project. For more information on mobile device security, download our iPhone and Android Security Guides. If you would like to begin a conversation about Mobile Device Management, please CONTACT US.

COMPASS Cyber Security Mobile Application

As a part of COMPASS Cyber Security’s ongoing commitment to raising cyber security awareness in the community, we are excited to announce the launch of our very own mobile application! By downloading this app, users will be provided with real-time cyber security threat alerts, best practice tips, and applicable guidance, so they can be prepared for the cyber security risks they may face. It is COMPASS’ mission to “shift the world’s data to be safe and secure” and this app is a testament to that by offering businesses and consumers valuable content they can use to protect their data.

Download the COMPASS Cyber Security app in the iTunes and Google Play stores to begin improving your cyber security posture!

Back to School Cyber Security

As schools open their doors for a new academic year, it is evident that education is becoming increasingly dependent on technology.  As a result, cyber security is a critically important component to the risk management strategies in schools.

Having worked with dozens of schools internationally, COMPASS understands the unique threats they face. Fall is the best time to set the tone for your school’s cyber security posture, here is how:

  • Perform a risk assessment of your school’s IT infrastructure to identify critical vulnerabilities and remediate them.
  • Segment your network so if one part of your network is compromised, it does not affect the integrity of the rest of your network. For example, put students on a network separate from the faculty and staff.
  • Limit the number of privileged users to only administrators with a legitimate need as defined by management protocol.
  • Implement quarterly cyber security awareness training. It is important that the faculty as well as the students are cognizant of cyber best practices so they have a strong digital safety background.
  • Review all policies to make sure they are current with the technologies and procedures within your organization.
  • Conduct a security configuration review of the central image from which all of the faculty devices are copied to provide maximum security.

With a variety of diverse user profiles traversing the network and a treasure trove of sensitive personal and financial information, it is often difficult to balance cyber security in an open learning environment. However, by implementing these cyber security strategies in your school you will greatly reduce your risk of an incident.

For more information on school security, download our Back to School Security Guide. To discuss your school’s unique cyber security posture please, CONTACT US.