Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘cyber security

The Cost of New Breaches

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Earlier this week IBM Security released the results of a global study examining the full financial impact of a data breach on a company’s bottom line. 

Overall, the report found that the hidden costs in data breaches — lost business, negative impact on reputation and employee time spent on recovery — are difficult and expensive to manage. One-third of the cost of “mega breaches” (1 million lost records or more) were derived from lost business.

So what was the average cost of a data breach globally? $3.86 million, which was up 6.4 percent from their 2017 report.

Based on in-depth interviews with nearly 500 companies that experienced a data breach, the study analyzes hundreds of cost factors surrounding a breach, from technical investigations and recovery, to notiifications, legal and regulatory activities, and cost of lost business and reputation.

This year, the study also calculated those “mega breach” costs, projecting that those involving lost records ranging from 1 million to 50 million cost companies between $40 million and $350 million respectively.

Some other sound bytes:

  • Average cost of a data breach of 1 million compromised records is nearly $40 million dollars
  • At 50 million records, estimated total cost of a breach is $350 million dollars
  • The vast majority of these breaches (10 out of 11) stemmed from malicious and criminal attacks (as opposed to system glitches or human error)
  • The average time to detect and contain a mega breach was 365 days – almost 100 days longer than a smaller scale breach (266 days)

You can download the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study here.

Written by turbotodd

July 13, 2018 at 10:14 am

Guccifer Unmasked?

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The Daily Beast is reporting that Guccifer 2.0, the lone hacker who took credit for providing Wikileaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU).

As the Daily Beast observes, the attribution of Guccifer 2.0 as an officer of Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency would “cross the Kremlin threshold” — and move the investigation closer to Trump himself.

The identification came about as a result of Guccifer’s failure to activate a VPN client before logging, thereby leaving a Moscow-based IP address in the server logs of an American social media company.

Working from the IP address, U.S investigators identified Guccifer 2.0 as a particular GRU officer working out of the agency’s HQ on Grizodubovoy Street in Moscow.

As Daily Beast explains, this is a breakthrough because Guccifer had sprung into existence on June 15, 2016, after a computer security firm tied Russia to an intrusion at the Democratic National Committee. The Guccifer persona had identified themselves as an “independent Romanian hacktivist who’d breached the DNC on a lark.”

Guess we’ll have to wait and see what special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has to say about that provenance.

Meanwhile, back here in these United States, online classified site Craigslist has pulled its entire personal ad section after Congress passed a new sex trafficking bill that puts more liability on websites.

Craigslist said it couldn’t afford the risk of continuing the host personal ads:

US Congress just passed

HR 1865, “FOSTA”

, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully. Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back someday. To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

And it wasn’t just Craigslist… Reddit has also banned certain subreddits, with several less well-known sites also having ended their personal sections.

The name of the bill was H.R.1865, or the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or “FOSTA.”

Written by turbotodd

March 23, 2018 at 11:15 am

Posted in 2018

Tagged with ,

IBM X-Force Mid-Year Report: Security Attacks Focused On Browsers, Mobile, Social

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SPAM aside, IBM’s mid-year X-Force Trend and Risk Report shows a sharp increase in browser-related exploits, renewed concerns around social media password security, and continued challenges in mobile devices and corporate “bring your own device” (BYOD) programs.

Yesterday, IBM released the results of its X-Force 2012 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report.

The mid-year report is troubling, revealing ongoing challenges and opportunities and the need for continued vigilance in the digital security realm.

The headlines: The latest report shows a sharp increase in browser-related exploits, renewed concerns around social media password security, and continued challenges in mobile devices and corporate “bring your own device” (BYOD) programs.

“Companies are faced with a constantly evolving threat landscape, with emerging technologies making it increasingly difficult to manage and secure confidential data,” said Kris Lovejoy, General Manager, IBM Security Services. “A security breach–whether from an outside attacker or an insider–can impact brand reputation, shareholder value, and expose confidential information. Our team of security threat analysts track and monitor security events and attack activity to better help our clients stay ahead of emerging threats.”

Mobile, Social: New Security Targets Of Opportunity

Since the last X-Force Trend and Risk Report, IBM’s X-Force has seen an increase in malware and malicious web activities:

  • A continuing trend for attackers is to target individuals by directing them to a trusted URL or site which has been injected with malicious code. Through browser vulnerabilities, the attackers are able to install malware on the target system. The websites of many well-established and trustworthy organizations are still susceptible to these types of threats.
  • The growth of SQL injection, a technique used by attackers to access a database through a website, is keeping pace with the increased usage of cross-site scripting and directory traversal commands.
  • As the user base of the Mac operating system continues to grow worldwide, it is increasingly becoming a target of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) and exploits, rivaling those usually seen targeting the Windows platform.

Emerging Trends in Mobile Security 

While there are reports of exotic mobile malware, most smartphone users are still most at risk of premium SMS (short message service, or texting) scams.

These scams work by sending SMS messages to premium phone numbers in a variety of different countries automatically from installed applications. There are multiple scam infection approaches for this:

  • An application that looks legitimate in an app store but only has malicious intent
  • An application that is a clone of a real application with a different name and some malicious code
  • A real application that has been wrapped by malicious code and typically presented in an alternative app store

One game-changing transformation is the pervasiveness of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. Many companies are still in their infancy in adapting policies for allowing employees to connect their personal laptops or smartphones to the company network.

To make BYOD work within a company, a thorough and clear policy should be in place before the first employee-owned device is added to the company’s infrastructure.

Improvements in Internet Security Continue 

As discussed in the 2011 IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report, there continues to be progress in certain areas of Internet security. IBM X-Force data reports a continuing decline in exploit releases, improvements from the top ten vendors on patching vulnerabilities and a significant decrease in the area of portable document format (PDF) vulnerabilities.

IBM believes that this area of improvement is directly related to the new technology of sandboxing provided by the Adobe Reader X release.

Sandboxing technology works by isolating an application from the rest of the system, so that if compromised, the attacker code running within the application is limited to what it can do or what it can access.

Sandboxes are proving to be a successful investment from a security perspective. In the X-Force report, there was a significant drop in Adobe PDF vulnerability disclosures during the first half of 2012.

This development coincides nicely with the adoption of Adobe Reader X, the first version of Acrobat Reader released with sandboxing technology.

New IBM Security Operations Center Opens In Poland

To further protect its clients from emerging threats like those reported in the IBM X-Force Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report, IBM yesterday announced the opening of a security operations center in Wroclaw, Poland.

This newest IBM Security Operations Center is the 10th worldwide facility to help clients proactively manage these threats, including real-time analysis and early warning notification of security events.

Data for the bi-annual X-Force report comes from IBM’s security operations centers which monitor more than 15 billion security events a day on behalf of approximately 4,000 clients in more than 130 countries.

About the IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report 

The IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report is an annual assessment of the security landscape, designed to help clients better understand the latest security risks, and stay ahead of these threats.

The report gathers facts from numerous intelligence sources, including its database of more than 68,000 computer security vulnerabilities, its global Web crawler and its international spam collectors, and the real-time monitoring of 15 billion events every day for approximately 4,000 clients in more than 130 countries.

These 15 billion events monitored each day, are a result of the work done in IBM’s 10 global security operations centers, which is provided as a managed security service to clients.

To view the full X-Force 2012 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report go here.

Flame No Game

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What a week for cybsecurity matters last week was.

First, the story about the Flame virus discovered by Kapersky Labs in Russia, a new and improved “Stuxnet” virus that has apparently infiltrated computers throughout Iran (and, it seems, beyond).

Then, The New York Times reported on the code-named “Olympic Games” cyberintrusion program, in which the U.S. and Israel allegedly developed Stuxnet for the express purpose of disabling Iranian centrifuges that were being used to enrich uranium.

If you ever had the question as to when or whether the digital realm would meet that of the physical, Stuxnet and, now, Flame, are perfectly good examples of how that intersection is being brought about.

But Eugene Kasperksy himself, who’s team discovered the Flame virus, suggests this intersection is one of foreboding, explaining at CeBIT last month that “Cyberweapons are the most dangerous innovation of this century.”

Is he right?  More dangerous than the nuclear weapons they were intended to prevent the manufacture of in Iran?

More dangerous than Hellfire missiles zooming down from the skies of Pakistan?

I suspect it depends on your respective point of view, literally.  But there can be no question the cyberintelligence debate will heat up over the coming years.

Now that digital (and, often, very economically efficient, when compared to more traditional means) mechanisms can be used for the art of proven and productive warfare and espionage purposes, state actors will likely shift more investment into cyber territory, putting much more muscle into what had previously been the domain of fringe actors.

Such a trend could lead to the development of much more serious and sobering digital “agents” whose primary purpose — for espionage, for risk mitigation, and so forth — could ultimately be betrayed by Murphy’s Law of Unintended Consequences.

The virus intended to destabilize the spinning centrifuges in Iran could spin out of control and instead open the floodgates on a dam in China.  Or so goes the fear.

But perhaps the fears are not without some justification?  If you don’t know who you can trust in the digital milieu…or, worse, if your systems don’t know who they can trust…how can you trust anyone? Or anything?

Just overnight SecurityWeek posted that Microsoft had reached out to it customers and notified the public that it had discovered unauthorized digital certifications connected to the Flame virus that “chain[ed] up” to a Microsoft sub-certfication authority that had been issued under the Microsoft Root Authority.

If such certificates can be co-opted by the “Flames” of the world, and appear to be legitimate software coming from Microsoft…well, that’s a fast and slippery slope to cyber anarchy.

As SecurityWeek also recently reported about Flame, yes, the short-term risk to enterprises is low.  But Flame “demonstrated that when nation-states are pulling the strings, they have the ability to repeatedly and significantly leap ahead of the state of the art in terms of malware.”

As state-actors raise the table stakes by developing more and more sophisticated cyber intruders, they will, in essence, be raising everybody’s game.  These virii don’t live in a vacuum — they will be gathered by the non-state actors, hackers white and black hat alike, then deconstructed, disassembled, and, potentially, improved upon before being re-assembled and unleashed back into the wild.

So what’s the answer?  Unfortunately, there is no single cyber bullet.

Constant vigilance, education, monitoring, and adaptive learning will be mostly required, in order to both keep pace with the rapid evolution (or, as the case will likely be, devolution) with these digital beasts, and enterprises everywhere would be well-served to step up their Internet security game.

Finally, let’s not forget that state-actors aren’t just looking to instill damage — many are searching for valuable intellectual capital they can benefit from economically.

That alone is more than enough justification for enterprises to have a more comprehensive cyber intelligence strategy.

In the meantime, let’s just hope the next Flame or Stuxnet doesn’t lead to a more disastrous scenario than knocking out a few centrifuges in Natanz, one that starts to make a Michael Crichton novel look as though it’s actually coming to life!

Written by turbotodd

June 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm

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