Cyber & Risk

Understanding cyber security has never been as critical as it is today. 

The importance of having cyber security and risk mitigation strategies is now well-embedded in the corporate conscience, with more and more senior executives required to know their exact security posture and how to respond in the event of an incident.

In a complex world where new threat vectors appear almost daily, organisations must be ready. How well prepared are you? 

IBRS can help organisations understand how resilient their systems are, develop incident response plans and get the right policies in place to ensure compliance with the most rigorous of security standards. 

Conclusion

Even well-articulated and documented cyber incident response plans can go astray when a cyber incident actually happens. Experience shows the best plans can fail spectacularly. In this special report, IBRS interviews two Australian experts of startups in the field of cyber incident response, and uncovered the better practices for keeping your incident response plans real.

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Conclusion

Many security incidents are having major impacts on organisations. In too many cases these are left to the information technology teams to handle.

Yet the group most responsible for an organisation’s continued survival and growth is the chief officer (CxO) group. Incident response therefore ultimately resides with this group. In order to develop the ability to handle a major attack on an organisation, it is imperative that the CxO group also become familiar with responding to cyber security events.

This can be done by running tabletop exercises that then become the basis for building more detailed plans around communications, crisis management, and the organisation’s preparedness.

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The Latest

27 March 2021: Google has announced programs with two US-based insurance companies where clients taking up Google Cloud Platform security capabilities will receive discounts on cyber insurance premiums. 

Why it’s Important

The number of serious cyber incidents is on the increase and insurance premiums in the US have tripled over the last two years. Having a cyber incident response plan in place helps mitigate the risks and reduces the recovery time from a cyber incident, but also contributes to lowering the premium for cyber insurance. It is akin to having fitted window locks to a house, lowering insurance premiums in certain circumstances.

Google’s security posture, and threat assessment services, and services to manage security incidents effectively are sufficient to both reduce the frequency of security incidents and lessen their impact. Insurance actuaries see the benefit in such services and have determined there are savings to be made by the lower risk and risk mitigation profiles. 

Notwithstanding any special programs brokered between Cloud vendors and insurers, being able to demonstrate both a strong security posture and, importantly, an incident response plan will drive down an organisation's premiums, especially as insurance companies are inserting their own teams into incident response situations. 

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

If not already done, organisations should undertake a cyber risk assessment and implement a cyber incident response plan backed by appropriate cyber insurance. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Improving Your Organisation’s Cyber Resilience
  2. Incident Response Planning: More Than Dealing with Cyber Security Breaches and Outages
  3. How Does Your Organisation Manage Cyber Supply Chain Risk?
  4. Why You Need a Security Operations Centre

Conclusion:

While some bots may be benign, many are engaged in unscrupulous behaviour, such as stealing valuable commercial data or attempting to obtain access illegitimately. At best, bots are a drain on an organisation's resources, increase demands on infrastructure and causing the expenditure of resources, pushing up costs. In the worst case, they represent a significant cyber threat.

IBRS interviewed experts in the field of bot defence: Craig Templeton, CISO and GM Tech Platforms with REA Group and Sam Crowther, developer of the Kasada bot defence platform.

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The Latest

9 March 2021: The Australian Defence Department has inked a deal with Fujitsu, Leido and KBR to blitz its ageing network and end-user computing environment in a program of work thought to be worth around AU$200 million.

Why it’s Important

Fujitsu is not the first vendor that comes to mind when thinking about end-user computing overhauls. However, in the world of highly secure workplaces, vendors such as Fujitsu and Unisys have unique offerings and experiences. Even if not using these vendor’s capabilities, the critical components of the security architecture are worth noting by organisations that need to protect information assets with an increasingly mobile or distributed workforce. 

Who’s impacted

  • End-user computing / digital workspace architects
  • Security teams

What’s Next?

With remote working no longer a choice, but a business continuity issue, organisations need to rethink traditional approaches to securing information assets and people when planning for the next upgrade of end-user computing. Identity management, contextual access control and encryption of information assets are three essential pillars of a modern, secure digital workspace. Building upon these pillars, organisations can look towards zero trust approaches and adopt emerging new techniques for detecting issues and protecting the organisation, such as embodied in products for user, entity and behavioural analytics (UEBA).

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Architecting identity and access management
  2. Embracing security evolution with zero trust networking
  3. Trends for 2021-2026: No new normal and preparing for the fourth-wave of ICT

Conclusion:

Allowing employees to use personal devices for work purposes comes with a unique security challenge. How can the organisation keep track of so many endpoints and make sure that each one is secure? Organisations need to examine their mobile device management (MDM) capabilities in order to protect the organisation from security breaches as a result of insecure mobile devices.

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Conclusion:

As is common in security, a buzzword becomes a product segment which is then flooded with new entrants or even old players with new offerings. A classic case is the detection and response segment. Initially, it was one approach – endpoint detection and response. But as vendors entered the segment they were driven to find differentiation points to stand out from the crowd.

What was a simple segment became one with many new acronyms, new problem definitions and of course a plethora of products. To help understand the basic differentiation of products in this segment this advisory provides a direct and simple definition for each main sector along with points to note about how to select any specific product in the segment.

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Conclusion:

The recent SolarWinds security compromise provides a timely reminder that a cyber security compromise from third parties is a clear and present threat. Virtually all organisations utilise third party vendors to provide services, software solutions and to store data. For these reasons, it is essential that all organisations have a third party risk assessment and compliance program as part of a broader cyber security strategy. Given that organisations utilise a multitude of vendors it is impractical to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to third party risk management. This article provides a pragmatic approach to mitigating this risk.

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IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: Cyber attacks are a clear and present threat. Some organisations now have varying degrees of detection, monitoring and response capability in place, while other organisations still rely on their major incident response process to identify and manage cyber security incidents. In these organisations, cyber security operational responsibility is still embedded in traditional ICT operations. Such a siloed approach is suboptimal and presents risks in the effective management of cyber security risk. CIOs and other cyber security professionals should ensure that they have implemented a SOC capability that is appropriate to their organisation.

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Conclusion: Credential theft is still one of the prime means of attacking systems. Dictionaries of passwords are readily available (many with millions of passwords). These allow attackers to perform credential stuffing attacks – often successfully.

Eliminating passwords has been difficult in the past. However, the consensus amongst vendors of both software and hardware is to bring to market methods of achieving authentication without passwords. The ubiquity of mobile devices with touch or facial authentication is one prime element.

This is a necessary evolution of authentication.

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The latest

14 December 2020: FireEye announced it had been breached. An extremely comprehensive overview is available from FireEye. This blog post includes timelines, technical recommendations, and IoCs (indicators of compromise). 

FireEye, a company that exists to track and thwart advanced and persistent adversaries, was itself compromised by an advanced and persistent adversary. FireEye was compromised through a product from SolarWinds. 

What now?

There are four main areas worth exploring. 

1) Check your SolarWinds instance(s) 

The FireEye blog post includes instructions for what to look for. Good asset management will be useful in this verification process. One CISO noted they found an unmaintained SolarWinds instance in one of their OT environments. 

A core lesson that many security executives drew from the MobileIron vulnerability (CVE-2020-15505) was that anything an organisation has that is internet facing needs to consistently receive critical patches quickly, even out of cycle. 

This will require a process to identify critical patches, but for the process to actually be executed. Citrix, VPNs, staff home routers (see FF no.02), and now MDMs have all been leveraged this year for compromise. Everything is up for grabs, so logically, anything internet facing needs to be aggressively maintained. This relates to patching but also asset management. 

Further, it's an opportunity to review privilege. Just because a product can do something, doesn't mean it should. Does SolarWinds really need to talk to the Internet? There are technical controls like host firewalls and properly profiled application allow-listing that will significantly frustrate an adversary in this scenario. It’s a great example where a zero trust architecture would make a big difference.

2) Organised crime 

The ACSC has noted that once a vulnerability is disclosed, threat actors can develop an exploit within 48 hours. We've seen this timeline achieved this year, with both F5 and MobileIron vulnerabilities. Now that the advanced and persistent actor has been ejected from FireEye (and hopefully from SolarWinds) it could be a matter of time before organised crime tries to exploit unpatched SolarWinds instances. 

FireEye will recover, and have an even better story to tell. At this early stage it seems that FireEye was the last target compromised by this adversary, and probably compromised for the shortest duration before the adversary was detected and ejected. It sounds like FireEye was targeted as a source for further intel on government agencies.  

I've got no evidence for this, but I wouldn't be surprised if FireEye was the last, trophy, "let's see if we can do this" target. 

3) Supply chain

The critical point about FireEye being breached, is it points to what industry has been saying for years - "it's not if, it's when". What matters after bang (or 'right of bang'), is how the organisation responds and FireEye is giving a master class on how to respond. But FireEye is only able to do this on the back of years of refining their art. 

However, going left of bang will encourage technology and security executives to look at their supply chain. What other products have access to systems, data and privileges that would be a nightmare if you did not have sole occupancy?

What other software has pervasive access like SolarWinds? What protocols are my service providers following when they use tools like SolarWinds on my environment? We cannot boil the ocean but, as Kevin Mandia said at a CISO Lens gathering in 2016, "protect most what matters most". 

4) Cyber insurance

I've not heard anyone talking about cyber insurance regarding this whole hostile campaign. It seems inevitable that public attribution will end up pointing to a particular nation. If this is the case, many insurers will likely point to exclusion clauses that indemnify the insurer from costs incurred through nation-state activity.

If you have cyber insurance, it may be worth getting a position from your insurer on whether you would have been able to make a claim against your policy if your organisation had been compromised.

The Latest

10 Nov 2020: CyberArk launches an AI-based Cloud entitlements manager. The solution combines principles of ‘least privilege’ and ‘zero trust’ to reduce risks of poorly configured access privileges for the major hyperscale Cloud platforms. CyberArk uses AI to determine the context and intent, which in turn provides risk assessment and recommendations for appropriate actions, and automation of remediation. 

Why it’s Important

Poorly configured privileges to Cloud solutions - in particular storage services - is a major cause of data breach. It is a significant risk for all organisations that leverage Cloud resources. Reviewing and maintaining privileges over resources is problematic, even with high levels of automation, because automation will only impact known entities in the environment, and can only address well-defined use cases. 

Who’s Impacted

  • CISO
  • Cloud Teams

What’s Next?

The use of Machine Learning algorithms to interrogate Cloud services and identify and remediate risks is a welcome addition to Cloud security management. While the efficacy of the CyberArk solution is not yet known, IBRS anticipates that this approach will be beneficial and at least provide an additional ‘check’ over sprawling Cloud environments.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

To cater for organisations with requirements to keep data in-country, VMware has opened a Sydney based Point of Presence (PoP) for Carbon Black Cloud in the AWS Sydney data centre. Carbon Black Cloud offers end-point security, which provides behaviour based analysis of devices. 

Why it’s Important

The market for end-point security based on behavioural analytics is growing quickly. However, it relies upon hyper scale Cloud or Cloud-like resources. The paradox is that risk-averse organisations that can benefit from this type of endpoint protection are reticent to allow as-a-Service solutions not based domestically to have access to sensitive information about their staff activities. By opening a Sydney based PoP for Carbon Black Cloud, VMware removes a policy barrier to this type of end-point security. 

Who’s Impacted

  • Desktop / digital workplace leads
  • CISO / security teams

What’s Next?

Carbon Black Cloud is one of a growing list of technology offerings in end-point security that leverage Cloud computing and AI. This market will grow rapidly as remote and hybrid working environments become a permanent part of the economy. And rightly so. In principle, IBRS does not see that data geolocation (keeping data domestically) significantly improves an organisation’s security stance, though it may provide regulatory compliance. Latency issues, especially for high-volume services, are also a consideration.

In practice, many organisations still need to address legacy policy regarding information management, and so the trend towards vendors setting up local data processing operations will continue..  

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Embracing security evolution with zero trust networking
  2. What is the security agenda for 2019?
  3. When it comes to security, when is enough... enough?

The Latest

10 Nov 2020: Microsoft has announced the general availability of its Data Loss Prevention (DLP) services. The DLP services are being rolled out to Office 365 customers with E3 and E5 licensing (see details on licensing below). Microsoft also introduced additional features for its DLP service, including: 

  • Sensitivity labels for DLP policies
  • Dashboard within Microsoft 365 compliance center to manage DLP alerts 
  • New conditions and exceptions for mail flow rules

Why it’s Important

The rapid introduction of collaboration tools has opened new vectors for data leakage. This was a particular worry of participants in IBRS’s recent Teams Governance Peer Roundtable, with 67% of executives having data leakage concerns. The current approach to reducing data leakage from products such as Teams is to block sharing and collaboration with external parties. While this does limit data leakage, it also eliminates one of the key benefits of new collaboration tools: the ability to create borderless work environments. 

What’s covered

E3 licensing provides DLP for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive. However, organistions will need E5 licensing for access DLP for Teams Chat and Devices/ Endpoint.

Who’s Impacted

Organisations with Office 365 or Microsoft 365 investments. 

  • Desktop / digital workplace lead
  • Office 365 deployment leads / administrators
  • Information management teams
  • CISO

What’s Next?

Microsoft’s general release of DLP, under existing E3 and E5 licensing levels, is a potent step to addressing collaboration’s woes. While Microsoft’s DLP is not as feature laden as dedicated competitive offerings, it requires no additional budget. Effectively, Microsoft is pushing DLP down into the broader market, to organisations that may not have previously considered such solutions. Along with Microsoft Information Protection (MIP),  Microsoft DLP should be investigated as a priority feature for Office 365 deployments, especially where Microsoft Teams is being deployed with guest access enabled.

Related IBRS Advisory

Conclusion: Security breaches by insiders, whether deliberate or accidental, are on the increase and their consequences can be just as catastrophic as other types of security incidents. Organisations are typically reluctant to disclose insider security breaches and as a result, these breaches receive relatively little media attention. The insider threat may therefore be perceived as being of secondary importance in an organisation’s cyber security program. However, given the consequences, organisations need to ensure that this risk is given sufficient executive attention and resourcing.

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Conclusion: Passwords will continue to be part of the landscape for the foreseeable future. Organisations, driven by the concepts of defence in depth, must implement techniques that enhance the security of the authentication process. Both products and processes can be enabled or added to help secure the creation, use and storage of passwords.

Each of the techniques mentioned can be used on their own to enrich the security. Some or all of them can be combined to further build the security. Most of them have little associated costs apart from deployment and perhaps training, but the cumulative impact on the robustness of the authentication process is significant.

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Conclusion: Cyber incidents and the protection of information have now taken enterprise and national significance. 

Organisations will need to learn to operate securely in a zero trust world. With an ever-increasing number of cyber-related incidents, cyber security risk has evolved from a technical risk to a strategic enterprise risk. The risk of a compromise for most organisations is increasing with the acceleration of digital transformation, adoption of technologies such as Cloud services, analytics and IoT. The threat landscape is further compounded by increased regulatory and compliance requirements.

A cyber compromise is almost inevitable and organisations are now focusing on improving the resilience of their organisation to a cyber incident. Many organisations now have cyber resilience programs in place which not only protect and defend their key information assets but are also well placed to respond should a cyber incident occur. Our cyber strategy, roadmap and implementation advisory are designed to assist on your cyber resilience journey.

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Conclusion: People are and will be using passwords for the foreseeable future despite the numerous efforts underway to dispense with them. Managing them and particularly resetting them are ongoing costs for organisations.

Passwords are also a significant contributor to breaches. They are either captured during credential-grabbing efforts, leaked in a data breach or just too easy to guess.

Yet there are excellent guidelines in existence to assist people to minimise the possibility of passwords being cracked or guessed. Some involve implementing good policies, and most involve making it easier for users to create, remember and use passwords.

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Conclusion: Identity and access management is a crucial component of an organisation’s security posture. At its most basic, it is how an organisation determines whether an individual can access resources or not. In today’s world, it is also becoming the basis of how applications first identify then communicate with each other.

Assurance of identity is the cornerstone of managing access to information. An organisation must be confident in that assurance. One method of bolstering the strength of that assurance could be the deployment of multi-factor authentication – at a minimum to privileged users, but ideally to all users of the services and applications whether those users are staff or not.

As organisations move from office-bound networks to distributed workforces combined with Cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, identity will evolve to be almost the sole element used to assess and grant access. Identity is certainly a central element of zero trust environments.

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Background: The federal government has finally unveiled its cyber security strategy. The Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, released on 6th August will see $1.67 billion invested in a number of already-known initiatives aimed at enhancing Australia's cyber security over the next decade. IBRS provides their key takeaways from the strategy.


Most of the funding for the Strategy 2020 is from July’s announced $1.35 billion cyber enhanced situational awareness and response (CESAR) package much of the Strategy details will be contained in legislation to be put before parliament.

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Conclusion: Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common and Australian organisations have experienced several high-profile incidents in 2020. While the preferred option is to recover from backups, organisations may find that this is not feasible either because of the scale of the compromise or that backups themselves are compromised. While the decision to pay a ransom is complex and poses significant risks, it should be explored in parallel with the recovery from backup.

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Philip Nesci, IBRS adviser and former CIO, has warned that agencies will need to get their information management sorted out to capitalise on the new rules.

‘‘Agencies need to identify their high-value data sets and where they are located.’’ 

Full Story.

Conclusion: Australian financial organisations have been bombarding their suppliers and partners with requests to complete security assessments. If servicing or dealing with financial organisations is part of the operational model for the organisation, this has probably already happened or is about to happen.

Those financial bodies are being driven by an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) issued prudential standard CPS 234 (Cross-industry Prudential Standard). This document lays out how a financial body should manage its cyber security with particular emphasis on extending that management to parties that support or supply the financial body.

These assessments can be tedious and raise concerns about cyber security maturity within the organisation. On the other hand, they bring a clear high-level focus on areas that all organisations should either be covering or working towards covering. This makes CPS 234 a valuable reference for senior executives building a cyber security program.

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Conclusion: In the current COVID-19-driven environment, video conference calls have become the stuff of life. They are used for school, family, leisure and even work. Numbers of call attendees have jumped from tens of millions to more than 300 million worldwide. As is normal in technology, there are a plethora of options to choose from.

One of those, Zoom, has made the news repeatedly over the period of April-May, initially because of its popularity but then because security flaws were being discovered. With the flaws seemingly serious, commentators were recommending organisations abandon Zoom. Many organisations did so, given the amount of coverage the flaws received.

But the product was and is popular. It is one of the easiest video conferencing products to use. It works well and is simple to deploy. A valid question to ask is whether Zoom is safe to use for business purposes. Taking a realistic view of the flaws combined with efforts Zoom has made to correct some of them leads to the conclusion that Zoom is safe for general business usage.

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Conclusion: Many vendors, consultants and managed service providers are pushing ‘security information and event management’ (SIEM) as a panacea to security failings. The intent is correct. Having visibility of what is or has happened in the infrastructure is essential to detecting and responding to intrusions.

What often gets glossed over is that SIEM is a tool, not a complete solution in itself. Deployment requires deep engagement with the IT operations team and a clear vision of what is expected from the SIEM. The vision will be driven by how SIEM will be used, what outcomes would be expected and how its use would evolve over time.

With careful planning prior to deployment, some, if not most, of these issues can be addressed.

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Conclusion: With an ever-increasing number of cyber-related incidents, cyber security risk has evolved from a technical risk to a strategic enterprise risk. While many organisations have enterprise crisis management and business continuity plans, specific plans to deal with various types of cyberattacks are much less common, even though many of the attack scenarios are well known. Every organisation should have an incident response plan in place and should regularly review and test it. Having a plan in place can dramatically limit damage, improve recovery time and improve the resilience of your business.

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"There is more security work to go round than there are resources. So I don't think the market is that crowded. It's important to remember that security is not something you buy and then it's done; it is an ongoing evolution within any organisation and requires constant care and feeding," IBRS adviser Peter Sandilands said.

"The big four has done a lot of their security work using fresh grads. They can use the tools but don't necessarily understand the real world implications."

Full Story.

Conclusion: The increased proliferation of critical digital services has resulted in ransomware attacks becoming one of hackers’ means to make money. As a consequence, many organisations have become the victims of such attacks. IT organisations should implement a full recovery strategy to restore IT services in the event of ransomware attacks. The recovery strategy should become an integral part of the disaster recovery plan. This will raise business stakeholders’ trust in the service security and reduce the spread of this type of IT organised crime.

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Conclusion: Cyber security is now one of the top priorities in many organisations. With an ever-increasing number of cyber-related incidents, cyber security risk has evolved from a technical risk to being regarded as a strategic enterprise risk. The role of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) has traditionally required strong technology skills to protect the organisation from security incidents. With boards and executives now requiring executive-level cyber leadership and accountability, the role of the CISO must evolve beyond the traditional technology domain to also encompass strategy, stewardship and compliance as well as being a trusted business advisor.

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Conclusions: Patching systems is regularly touted as the panacea for security breaches, yet many organisations continue to struggle with that seemingly simple process. There is obviously more to the problem than just buying and deploying a patch management system.

Most organisations are well-intentioned; it is not that they do not want to patch. As one delves deeper into the tasks around patching, it soon becomes clear that many unintentional, and some intentional, roadblocks exist in almost every organisation.

This note attempts to sort through some of those roadblocks and offer some approaches to diminish their impact. Some resources are identified to help with the design and build of a patch service. There is a real dearth of well-structured information around the patching process overall.

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Peter Sandilands, an advisor at analyst firm IBRS, called the discussion paper “a pre-judged survey” that is mostly looking for answers. He also questioned if the resulting recommendations would be published for review and commentary: “Is this window dressing, or are they going to do something out of this?”

The Australian government is charting its next cyber security strategy following an earlier A$230m blueprint laid out in 2016 to foster a safer cyber space for Australians.

In a discussion paper on Australia’s 2020 cyber security strategy, which is being led by an industry panel, minister for home affairs Peter Dutton said despite making strong progress against the goals set in 2016, the threat environment has changed significantly.

Full Story

 

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: As detailed in part one of this pair of notes, the Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential Eight (E8) are detailed technical recommendations for securing an information infrastructure. Implementing them has been touted as being effective against over 85 % of potential attacks. It is hard to ignore that benefit to an organisation’s security stance.

The first note went on to highlight the real-world implications of attempting to implement the E8; in particular, listing the prerequisites for the implementation. Each of the E8 assumes that an organisation has in place the underlying capabilities and information that provide the supporting base for each element of the E8.

While at first glance that appears to put a negative connotation on deploying the E8, in many ways it points to some basic processes and capabilities that any organisation should have in place to use its information infrastructure effectively. This note will explore those implications. It will help any organisation build the basics of an effective security regime.

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Conclusion: Cyber security and data privacy are currently hot topics at both executive and board levels and security incidents feature in the media on an almost weekly basis. CIOs and executive teams will face increasing scrutiny from their boards with a focus on accountability, risk assessment, reporting and organisational resilience to cyber incidents. Boards are genuinely grappling with how to assess risks and how to ensure that the organisation is sufficiently well prepared to protect and respond appropriately to security incidents, within budget and resource constraints. CIOs and CISOs have a unique opportunity to engage with boards and provide the leadership that is expected, as the move to digital accelerates. In this note we highlight the recent trends and outline some of the key recommendations to practical steps to strengthen your organisation’s ability to protect itself holistically from cyber and data loss risks.

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Conclusion: The Essential Eight from the Australian Signals Directorate constitutes a recommended set of strategies to reduce the risk of cyber intrusion. They are said to prevent up to 85% of potential attacks. They are certainly worth assessing as a strategy to apply as an organisation plans out its security strategy.

However, while they may seem simple at first glance, the prerequisites for their implementation are far reaching. These add significant cost and effort to any attempt to take advantage of the E8. In fact, the effort and planning can easily exceed the effort in seemingly just doing the E8.

This will be a two-part article. The first part will explain the question at hand and describe the premise being explored. The second part will work through the implications for an organisation and list the strategies to deal with them.

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Conclusion: Current network and security deployments make many assumptions about the threat environment and which controls are effective. Many of these assumptions are predicated on an older security architecture that emphasised the perimeter. This perimeter then segregated the outside from the inside with an associated perception that inside was good or trustworthy and outside was bad and untrustworthy.

It is easy to see that for many, if not most organisations, the perimeter is no longer just considered a solid demarcation point between outside and inside. The internal network hosts contractors and consultants as well as integrates external services as if they are native to the network. Staff operate from partner and customer locations as well as from public networks via wi-fi hotspots in cafes, airport lounges and hotels.

This evolution requires a fresh security architecture to assist organisations to operate in the evolving network and service paradigms. The zero trust network (ZTN) philosophy lays out an architectural approach to deploying services, enabling staff and supporting customers. ZTN should be assessed by any organisation looking to move to an internet-driven, Cloud-supported and secure operating schema.

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Conclusion: Organisations would hope that their data protection policies are in place and effective. Data loss protection is active on the email channel and data is encrypted while at rest within the organisation. Staff are often trying to share data with others or move data to where it may be easily accessible. A very common channel for this is one of the many Cloud-based file-sharing services such as Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive.

These services conflict with data protection in several ways. In many cases the services used by staff are personal accounts owned by the staff member, not the organisation. This immediately places the data outside the control of the operation.
The sharing of the data can be open-ended where a) even the staff member loses control over who can access the data, and b) it is uncertain where the data is stored and in which jurisdiction.

If the data contains personal information, credit card details or confidential finance information, the organisation may find itself in breach of regulations such as the Notifiable Data Breach Regulation or Payment Card Industry requirements.

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Conclusion: Many organisations are finding themselves being defrauded, especially when making or receiving payments electronically. It is not that the end systems are compromised but rather the payment information itself is being subverted in between the payer and the payee.

This is hard to defeat via technical means as the messages themselves look the same as any other payment request or invoice. A quality email filtering service will remove many of the clumsy attempts thus allowing more focus on the well-constructed efforts.

This article aims to help improve understanding of the threat and identify effective strategies to lessen the possibility of a business being impacted. Security defence consists of more than just technology. A well-rounded defence is composed of people, process and technology. Defeating business email compromise (BEC) is primarily achieved by the people and process segments.

The staff of a business are in the best position to detect attempts to compromise a payment, provided they have been armed with some knowledge of the types of attacks and permission to halt and question the details.

Many fraud attempts can be prevented by implementing a simple business process that allows all staff to question transactions that change payment details and use secondary channels to confirm those details.

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Conclusion: The notifiable data breach regulations have had an impact on business priorities. For any organisation subject to the regulations, protection of personal information should have become a priority. One security technology, data loss prevention, could have offered some assistance. But it has had a mixed reception in the past due to many issues in both implementing and operating the service.

The continued move to SaaS for office systems such as document creation and email is also changing the market. Many capabilities that have been previously offered as standalone products are now being subsumed into the SaaS offerings as just adjunct functions. 

This simplifies the selection of the products and their ongoing management. A prime example of this is data loss prevention which is now being offered as a check-box selected capability in several SaaS offerings.

This could put data loss prevention within reach of small to medium businesses as a component of their personal information protection strategy.

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