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GUEST ESSAY: The role ‘deep learning’ AI can play relieving security teams of debilitating stress

By Karen Crowley

The cybersecurity profession can be very rewarding, but at the same time quite taxing.

Related: Equipping SOCs for the long haul

In fact, stress factors  have risen to where some 45 percent of the security professionals polled in Deep Instinct’s third annual Voice of SecOps report said they’ve considered leaving the industry altogether.

Ransomware is at an all-time high; attackers are as elusive as ever. Thus the job of detecting an active adversary and stopping them before they can do material damage has become extremely difficult.

Some 91 percent of respondents reported feeling stress in their security roles, of which 46 percent stated that the level of stress had increased in the past 12 months.

Productivity disruptor

A significant proportion of security pros concede that stress is negatively impacting their ability to do their daily tasks at work; this is the result of a number of variables including:

•A gap between the number of qualified candidates to fill positions and experienced staff members; skilled security personnel are often poached for higher wages and larger responsibilities. (more…)

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GUEST ESSAY — How threat detection services for SMBs are continuing to evolve and improve

By Morten Kjaersgaard

Small and medium-sized businesses are facing immense security challenges and these are the same as those of mid-size or larger enterprises.

Related: Myths about safe browsing

Clearly, SMBs need to be alert for cyberattacks, but they also need to stay focused on their business and not sacrifice productivity.

Organizations are confronted with a severe security threats landscape, and it is critical that they have the ability to prevent, detect and respond to these threats in a timely manner. Hence, using a threat prevention and detection solution that doesn’t disrupt day-to-day operations while providing early warning and stopping potential threats before they escalate is essential.

Our dependence on technology has grown and so has the number of ways that criminals can exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information or disrupt critical systems. Today, businesses of all sizes must be vigilant in protecting their data and infrastructure from a wide variety of threats, including malware, phishing, and denial-of-service attacks.

While the threat landscape is constantly evolving, there are a few trends that we are seeing in the modern cybersecurity landscape:

•Increased use of AI and automation by attackers.

NEW TECH: DigiCert unveils ‘Trust Lifecyle Manager’ to centralize control of digital certificates

By Byron V. Acohido

To get network protection where it needs to be, legacy cybersecurity vendors have begun reconstituting traditional security toolsets.

The overarching goal is to try to derive a superset of very dynamic, much more tightly integrated security platforms that we’ll very much need, going forward.

Related: The rise of security platforms

This development has gained quite a bit of steam over the past couple of years with established vendors of vulnerability management (VM,) endpoint detection and response (EDR,) and identity and access management (IAM) solutions in the vanguard.

And this trend is accelerating as 2023 gets underway. DigiCert’s launch today of Trust Lifecycle Manager, is a case in point. I had the chance to get briefed about this all-new platform, which provides a means for companies to comprehensively manage their Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) implementations along with the associated digital certificates.

I visited with Brian Trzupek, DigiCert’s senior vice president of product. As a leader of digital trust, DigiCert is best known as a Certificate Authority (CA) and a supplier of services to manage PKI. We drilled down on why getting a much better handle on PKI has become vital in a massively interconnected operating environment. DigiCert’s new solution is designed to “unify PKI services, public trust issuance and CA-agnostic certificate lifecycle management,” he told me.

Here are the main takeaways from our discussion:

NEW TECH: How I started a company to supply democratized pentests to immunize websites

By Eden Zaraf

My name is Eden Zaraf. I’ve been driven by my passion for technology for as long as I can remember. Somewhere around the age of 13, I learned to code. I developed scripts, websites and got involved in security which led me to penetration testing.

Related: Leveraging employees as detectors

Penetration Testing is a never-ending challenge. Five years ago, my friend Sahar Avitan, who is the co-founder and CEO of Kayran, began developing an automatic penetration testing tool for our own use.

A year and a half ago, we decided to turn it into a commercial platform. I was sitting in a classroom when I had this Eureka moment. I realized that our technology could actually help people. I decided to meet with my neighbor, Arik Assayag. I said to myself, if he thinks we can market it, let’s go for it. He did and, together with Sahar and I, co-founded  Kayran.

We supply an advanced web application scanner that’s unique in the world of web penetration testing.

GUEST ESSAY: How preserving trust — in a tumultuous 2023 to come — can lead to success

By Enza Iannopollo

The 2020s are already tumultuous.

Related: The Holy Grail of ‘digital resiliency’

Individuals are experiencing everything from extraordinary political and social upheaval to war on the European continent to the reemergence of infectious diseases to extreme weather events.

Against this unsettling backdrop, citizens, consumers, employees, and partners will look to organizations that they trust for stability and positive long-term relationships.

Not every organization knows how to cultivate trust, however, or that it’s even possible to accomplish. As a result, in 2023, specific industries that normally experience healthy levels of trust will see major declines in trust that will take years to repair. Others will buck historical trends just to simply maintain their current trust levels.

Organizations should take into account the following predictions as they plot out the next steps of their trust journey in the year ahead:

•Trust in consumer technology will decline by 15 percent.

Over the past three years, technology has proven critical to consumers’ daily lives — from remote working and home-schooling to entertainment and e-commerce.

MY TAKE: Poll shows consumers won’t patronize companies that fail to assure ‘digital trust’

By Byron V. Acohido

It’s all too easy to take for granted the amazing digital services we have at our fingertips today.

Related: Will Matter 1.0 ignite the ‘Internet of Everything’

Yet, as 2022 ends, trust in digital services is a tenuous thing. A recent survey highlights the fact that company leaders now understand that digital trust isn’t nearly what it needs to be. And the same poll also affirms that consumers will avoid patronizing companies they perceive as lacking digital trust.

DigiCert’s 2022 State of Digital Trust Survey polled 1,000 IT professional and 400 consumers and found that lack of digital trust can drive away customers and materially impact a company’s bottom line

“It’s clear that digital trust is required for organizations to instill confidence in their customers, employees and partners,” Avesta Hojjati, DigiCert’s vice president of Research and Development, told me. “Digital trust is the foundation for securing our connected world.”

I recently had the chance to visit with Hojjati. We conversed about why digital trust has become an important component of bringing the next iteration of spectacular Internet services to full fruition. And we touched on what needs to happen to raise the bar of digital trust. Here are a few key takeaways from our evocative discussion:

MY TAKE: The role of semiconductors in bringing the ‘Internet of Everything’ into full fruition

By Byron V. Acohido

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is on the near horizon.

Related: Raising the bar for smart homes

Our reliance on artificially intelligent software is deepening, signaling an era, just ahead, of great leaps forward for humankind.

We would not be at this juncture without corresponding advances on the hardware side of the house. For instance, very visibly over the past decade, Internet of Things (IoT) computing devices and sensors have become embedded everywhere.

Not as noticeably, but perhaps even more crucially, big advances have been made in semiconductors, the chips that route electrical current in everything from our phones and laptops to automobile components and industrial plant controls.

I recently visited with Thomas Rosteck, Division President of Connected Secure Systems (CSS) at Infineon Technologies, a global semiconductor manufacturer based in Neubiberg, Germany. We discussed how the Internet of Things, to date, has been all about enabling humans to leverage smart devices for personal convenience.

“What has changed in just the past year is that things are now starting to talk to other things,” Rosteck observes. “Smart devices and IoT systems are beginning to interconnect with each other and this is only going to continue.”

FIRESIDE CHAT: Anchoring security on granular visibility, proactive management of all endpoints

By Byron V. Acohido

Endpoints are where all are the connectivity action is.

Related: Ransomware bombardments

And securing endpoints has once more become mission critical. This was the focal point of presentations at Tanium’s Converge 2022 conference which I had the privilege to attend last week at the Fairmont Austin in the Texas capital.

I had the chance to visit with Peter Constantine, Tanium’s Senior Vice President Product Management. We discussed how companies of all sizes and across all industries today rely on a dramatically scaled-up and increasingly interconnected digital ecosystem.

The attack surface of company networks has expanded exponentially, and fresh security gaps are popping up everywhere.

Guest expert: Peter Constantine, SVP Product Management, Tanium

One fundamental security tenant that must take wider hold is this: companies simply must attain and sustain granular visibility of all of their cyber assets. This is the only way to dial in security in the right measure, to the right assets and at the optimum time.

The technology and data analytics are readily available to accomplish this; and endpoints – specifically servers and user devices – represent a logical starting point.

“We have to make sure that we truly know what and where everything is and take a proactive approach to hardening security controls and reducing the attack surface,” Constantine observes. “And then there is also the need to be able to investigate and respond to the complexities that come up in this world.”

For a full drill down on Tanium’s approach to network security that incorporates granular visibility and real-time management of endpoints please give the accompanying podcast a listen.

Acohido

Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.

 

 

MY TAKE: Can Matter 1.0 springboard us from truly smart homes to the Internet of Everything?

By Byron V. Acohido

Ever feel like your smart home has dyslexia?

Siri and Alexa are terrific at gaining intelligence with each additional voice command. And yet what these virtual assistants are starkly missing is interoperability.

Related: Why standards are so vital

Matter 1.0 is about to change that. This new home automation connectivity standard rolls out this holiday season with sky high expectations. The technology industry hopes that Matter arises as the  lingua franca for the Internet of Things.

Matter certified smart home devices will respond reliably and securely to commands from Amazon AlexaGoogle Assistant,  Apple HomeKit or Samsung SmartThings. Think of it: consumers will be able to control any Matter appliance with any iOS or Android device.

That’s just to start. Backed by a who’s who list of tech giants, Matter is designed to take us far beyond the confines of our smart dwellings. It could be the key that securely interconnects IoT systems at a much deeper level, which, in turn, would pave the way to much higher tiers of digital innovation.

I had the chance to sit down, once more, with Mike Nelson, DigiCert’s vice president of IoT security, to discuss the wider significance of this milestone standard.

FIRESIDE CHAT: Timely employee training, targeted testing needed to quell non-stop phishing

By Byron V. Acohido

Humans are rather easily duped. And this is the fundamental reason phishing persists as a predominant cybercriminal activity.

Related: How MSSPs help secure business networks

Tricking someone into clicking to a faked landing page and typing in their personal information has become an ingrained pitfall of digital commerce.

The deleterious impact on large enterprises and small businesses alike has been – and continues to be — profound. A recent survey of 250 IT and security professionals conducted by Osterman Research for Ironscales bears this out.

The poll found that security teams are spending one-third of their time handling phishing threats every week. The battle has sprawled out beyond email; phishing ruses are increasingly getting seeded via messaging apps, cloud-based file sharing platforms and text messaging services.

Guest expert: Ian Thomas, VP of Product Marketing, Ironscales

Some 80 percent of organizations reported that phishing attacks have  worsened or remained the same over the past 12 months, with detection avoidance mechanisms getting ever more sophisticated.

I had the chance to visit with Ian Thomas, vice president of product marketing at  Ironscales, an Atlanta-based email security company.

We discussed advances in cybersecurity training that combine timely content and targeted training to combat the latest phishing campaigns. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen.

Timely, effective security training of all employees clearly must continue to be part of the regimen of defending modern business networks, even more so as cloud migration accelerates. I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.

Acohido

Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.

(LW provides consulting services to the vendors we cover.)

 

SHARED INTEL: A breakout of how Google, Facebook, Instagram enable third-party snooping

By Federico Morelli

More and more consumers are using apps every year. In fact, Google Play users downloaded 111.3 billion apps in 2021 alone, up more than 47 percent since 2018.

Related: Microsoft CEO calls for regulating facial recognition.

This increased demand for apps also raises the need for improved data protection measures, which Google took steps to address with the new data safety section they launched in July 2022.

This data safety section aims to help users understand how apps handle their data (especially when it comes to collection and sharing) and make more informed decisions about which apps to download.

To provide even further insight into the data safety and privacy practices of app developers, researchers at Incogni conducted a study of the top 500 paid and top 500 free Google Play Store apps. The results shed light on how much data apps really share, which apps pose the biggest risks to data privacy, and how transparent developers are about their practices.

Rampant ‘sharing’

The study revealed that more than half (55.2 percent) of the apps share user data with third parties.

FIRESIDE CHAT: Why ‘digital resiliency’ has arisen as the Holy Grail of IT infrastructure

By Byron V. Acohido

Digital resiliency has arisen as something of a Holy Grail in the current environment.

Related: The big lesson of Log4j

Enterprises are racing to push their digital services out to the far edge of a highly interconnected, cloud-centric operating environment. This has triggered a seismic transition of company networks, one that has put IT teams and security teams under enormous pressure.

It’s at the digital edge where all the innovation is happening – and that’s also where threat actors are taking full advantage of a rapidly expanding attack surface. In this milieu, IT teams and security teams must somehow strike a balance between dialing in a necessary level of security — without unduly hindering agility.

Digital resiliency – in terms of business continuity, and especially when it comes to data security — has become a must have. I had the chance to visit with Paul Nicholson, senior director of product at A10 Networks, a San Jose, Calif.-based supplier of security, cloud and application services.

Guest expert: Paul Nicholson, Senior Director of Product, A10 Networks

We discussed how and why true digital resiliency, at the moment, eludes the vast majority of organizations. That said, advanced security tools and new best practices are gaining traction.

There is every reason to anticipate that emerging security tools and practices will help organizations achieve digital resiliency in terms of supporting work-from-home scenarios, protecting their supply chains and mitigating attack surface expansion. As part of this dynamic, Zero Trust protocols appear to be rapidly taking shape as something of a linchpin.

“When you say Zero Trust, people’s ears perk up and they understand that you’re basically talking about making sure only the right people can get to the digital assets which are required,” Nicholson told me.

For more context on these encouraging developments, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Meanwhile, I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.

Acohido

Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is … more

SHARED INTEL: The cybersecurity sea change coming with the implementation of ‘CMMC’

By Byron V. Acohido

Finally, Uncle Sam is compelling companies to take cybersecurity seriously.

Related: How the Middle East paved the way to CMMC

Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification version 2.0 could  take effect as early as May 2023 mandating detailed audits of the cybersecurity practices of any company that hopes to do business with the Department of Defense.

Make no mistake, CMMC 2.0, which has been under development since 2017, represents a sea change. The DoD is going to require contractors up and down its supply chain to meet the cybersecurity best practices called out in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s SP 800-171 framework.

I sat down with Elizabeth Jimenez, executive director of market development at NeoSystems, a Washington D.C.-based supplier of back-office management services, to discuss the prominent role managed security services providers (MSSPs) are sure to play as CMMC 2.0 rolls out. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are my takeaways:

Black Hat Fireside Chat: Replacing VPNs with ZTNA that leverages WWII battlefield tactics

By Byron V. Acohido

The sunsetting of Virtual Private Networks is underway.

Related: VPNs as a DIY tool for consumers, small businesses

VPNs are on a fast track to becoming obsolete, at least when it comes to defending enterprise networks. VPNs are being replaced by zero trust network access, or ZTNA.

VPNs encrypt data streams and protect endpoints from unauthorized access, essentially by requiring all network communications to flow over a secured pipe. VPNs verify once and that’s it. This was an effective approach when on-premises data centers predominated.

By contrast, ZTNA never trusts and always verifies. A user gets continually vetted, per device and per software application — and behaviors get continually analyzed to sniff out suspicious patterns.

Guest expert: Rajiv Pimplaskar, CEO, Dispersive

This new approach is required — now that software-defined resources scattered across hybrid and public clouds have come to rule the day.

I had the chance at Black Hat 2022 to visit with Rajiv Pimplaskar, CEO at Dispersive,  an Alpharetta, GA-based supplier of advanced cloud obfuscation technology. We discussed how ZTNA has emerged as a key component of new network security frameworks, such as secure access service edge (SASE) and security service edge (SSE)

We also spoke about how Dispersive is leveraging spread spectrum technology, which has its roots in World War II submarine warfare, to more effectively secure modern business networks. For a full drill down on our forward-looking discussion, please give the accompanying podcast a listen.

Black Hat Fireside Chat: MSSPs are well-positioned to help companies achieve cyber resiliency

By Byron V. Acohido

Network security is in dire straits. Security teams must defend an expanding attack surface, skilled IT professionals are scarce and threat actors are having a field day.

Related: The role of attack surface management

That said, Managed Security Services Providers – MSSPs —  are in a position to gallop to the rescue.

MSSPs arrived on the scene 15 years ago to supply device security as a contracted service: antivirus, firewalls, email security and the like.

They’ve progressed to supplying EDR, SIEM, threat intel platforms and numerous other advanced network security services on an outsourced basis.

Guest expert: Chris Prewitt, CTO, Inversion6

 

Today, big IT services companies, as well as legacy cybersecurity vendors, are hustling to essentially give shape to the next-gen MSSP, if you will. The leading players are partnering and innovating to come up with the optimum portfolio of services.

I had the chance to visit at Black Hat 2022 with Christopher Prewitt, CTO at Inversion6, a Cleveland-based supplier of managed IT security services. We discussed how far MSSPs have come since the early 2000s, when the focus was on helping companies do check-the-box compliance. For a full drill down on our forward-looking discussion, please give the accompanying podcast a listen.

Going forward, MSSPs seemed destined to play a foundational role in enabling digital commerce. They could help enterprises and SMBs overcome the IT skills shortage, truly mitigate cyber risks and comply with audit requirements, to boot.

Black Hat insights: Getting bombarded by multiple ransomware attacks has become commonplace

By Byron V. Acohido

The top ransomware gangs have become so relentless that it’s not unusual for two or more of them to attack the same company within a few days – or even a few hours.

Related: How ‘IABs’ foster ransomware

And if an enterprise is under an active ransomware attack, or a series of attacks, that’s a pretty good indication several other gangs of hacking specialists came through earlier and paved the way.

In short, overlapping cyber attacks have become the norm. This grim outlook is shared in a new white paper from Sophos. The report paints a picture of ransomware gangs arriving on the scene typically after crypto miners, botnet builders, malware embedders and initial access brokers may have already profited from earlier intrusions.

I had the chance to discuss these findings last week at Black Hat USA 2022, with John Shier, senior security advisor at Sophos, a next-generation cybersecurity leader with a broad portfolio of managed services, software and hardware offerings. For a drill down on our discussion, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are the key takeaways:

Common infection paths

Security teams face a daunting challenge. They must detect and remediate multiple cyber attacks by numerous, determined hacking groups, sometimes coming at them simultaneously and quite often seeking different objectives.

GUEST ESSAY: How to detect if a remote job applicant is legit — or a ‘Deepfake’ candidate

By Zac Amos

Technology provides opportunities to positively impact the world and improve lives.

Related: Why facial recognition ought to be regulated

It also delivers new ways to commit crimes and fraud. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a public warning in June 2022 about a new kind of fraud involving remote work and deepfakes.

The making of Deepfakes

The world is on track to see around 50% of workers transition to sustained, full-time telecommuting. Conducting job interviews online is here to stay, and deepfakes may be part of that new normal.

The term refers to an image or video in which the subject’s likeness or voice was manipulated to make it look like they said or did something they didn’t.

The deepfake creator uses “synthetic media” applications powered by machine learning algorithms. The creator trains this algorithm on two sets of videos and images. One shows the target’s likeness as they move and speak in various environments. The second shows faces in different situations and lighting conditions. The application encodes these human responses as “low-dimensional representations” to be decoded into images and videos.

The result is a video of one individual convincingly overlaid with the face of another. The voice is more difficult to spoof.

FIRESIDE CHAT: ‘Attack surface management’ has become the centerpiece of cybersecurity

By Byron V. Acohido

Post Covid 19, attack surface management has become the focal point of defending company networks.

Related: The importance of ‘SaaS posture management’

As digital transformation continues to intensify, organizations are relying more and more on hosted cloud processing power and data storage, i.e. Platform as a Service (PaaS,) as well as business tools of every stripe, i.e. Software as a Service (SaaS.)

I had the chance to visit with Jess Burn, a Forrester senior analyst, about the cybersecurity ramifications.

Guest expert: Jess Burn, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research

We discussed how the challenge has become defending the cloud-edge perimeter. This entails embracing new security frameworks, like Zero Trust Network Access, as well as adopting new security tools and strategies.

This boils down to getting a comprehensive handle on all of the possible connections to sensitive cyber assets, proactively managing software vulnerabilities and detecting and responding to live attacks.

A new category of attack surface management tools and services is gaining traction and fast becoming a must-have capability. To learn more, please give the accompanying Last Watchdog Fireside Chat podcast a listen.

Acohido

Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.

(LW provides consulting services to the vendors we cover.)

Q&A: Here’s why VPNs are likely to remain a valuable DIY security tool for consumers, SMBs

By Byron V. Acohido

It is astounding that billions of online accounts have been breached over the past 18 years and that US consumer accounts are by far the most compromised.

Related: VPNs vs ZTNA

Now comes hard metrics quantifying the scope of this phenomenon. It’s in findings of a deep dive data analytics study led by Surfshark, a supplier of VPN services aimed at the consumer and SMB markets.

Surfshark partnered with a number of independent cybersecurity researchers to quantify the scope and pattern of data breaches over the past couple of decades. For this study, a data breach was defined as an intruder copying or leaking user data such as names, surnames, email addresses, passwords, etc. Much of the hard evidence came from correlating breached databases sitting in the open Internet.

Data scientists sorted through 27,000 leaked databases and created 5 billion combinations of data. Researchers could then sort those combinations based on specific data points, such as countries, and perform a statistical analysis of their findings.

The data analytics show:

•A total 2.3 billion U.S. accounts have been breached so far. The scale is so massive that it makes up 15 percent of all breached users globally since 2004 (the year data breaches became widespread)

•More than two thirds of American accounts are leaked with the password, putting breached users in danger of account takeover.

FIRESIDE CHAT: New ‘SASE’ weapon chokes off ransomware before attack spreads laterally

By Byron V. Acohido

It’s stunning that the ransomware plague persists.

Related: ‘SASE’ blends connectivity and security

Verizon’s Data Breach Incident Report shows a 13 percent spike in 2021, a jump greater than the past  years combined; Sophos’ State of Ransomware survey shows victims routinely paying $1 million ransoms.

In response, Cato Networks today introduced network-based ransomware protection for the Cato SASE Cloud. This is an example of an advanced security capability meeting an urgent need – and it’s also more evidence that enterprises must inevitably transition to a new network security paradigm.

Guest expert: Etay Maor, Senior Director of Security Strategy, Cato Networks

I had the chance to visit with Etay Maor of Cato Networks. We discussed how Secure Access Services Edge – SASE – embodies this new paradigm. In essence, SASE moves the security stack from the on-premises perimeter far out to the edge, just before the cloud.

This gives security teams comprehensive visibility of all network activity, in real time, which makes many high-level security capabilities possible. For a full drill down on my conversation with Etay Maor, please give the accompanying podcast a listen.

Network security developments are progressing. I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.

Acohido

Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.

(LW provides consulting services to the vendors we cover.)

RSAC insights: ‘CAASM’ tools and practices get into the nitty gritty of closing network security gaps

By Byron V. Acohido

Reducing the attack surface of a company’s network should, by now, be a top priority for all organizations.

Related: Why security teams ought to embrace complexity

As RSA Conference 2022 convenes this week (June 6 -9) in San Francisco, advanced systems to help companies comprehensively inventory their cyber assets for enhanced visibility to improve asset and cloud configurations and close security gaps will be in the spotlight.

As always, the devil is in the details. Connecting the dots and getting everyone on the same page remain daunting challenges. I visited with Erkang Zheng, founder and CEO of JupiterOne, to discuss how an emerging discipline — referred to as “cyber asset attack surface management,” or CAASM – can help with this heavy lifting.

Based in Morrisville, NC, JupiterOne launched in 2020 and last week announced that it has achieved a $1 billion valuation, with a $70 million Series C funding round.

For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are my takeaways:

MY TAKE: Log4j’s big lesson – legacy tools, new tech are both needed to secure modern networks

By Byron V. Acohido

Log4j is the latest, greatest vulnerability to demonstrate just how tenuous the security of modern networks has become.

Related: The exposures created by API profileration

Log4j, aka Log4Shell, blasted a surgical light on the multiplying tiers of attack vectors arising from enterprises’ deepening reliance on open-source software.

This is all part of corporations plunging into the near future: migration to cloud-based IT infrastructure is in high gear, complexity is mushrooming and fear of falling behind is keeping the competitive heat on. In this heady environment, open-source networking components like Log4j spell opportunity for threat actors. It’s notable that open-source software vulnerabilities comprise just one of several paths ripe for malicious manipulation.

By no means has the cybersecurity community been blind to the complex security challenges spinning out of digital transformation. A methodical drive has been underway for at least the past decade to affect a transition to a new network security paradigm – one less rooted in the past and better suited for what’s coming next.

Log4j bathes light on a couple of solidifying developments. It reinforces the notion that a new portfolio of cloud-centric security frameworks must take hold, the sooner the better. What’s more, it will likely take a blend of legacy security technologies – in advanced iterations – combined with a new class of smart security tools to cut through the complexities of defending contemporary business networks.

GUEST ESSAY: Embracing ‘Zero Trust’ can help cloud-native organizations operate securely

By Jawahar Sivasankaran

Some 96 percent of organizations — according to the recently released 2021 Cloud Native Survey — are either using or evaluating Kubernetes in their production environment, demonstrating that enthusiasm for cloud native technologies has, in the words of the report’s authors, “crossed the adoption chasm.”

Related: The targeting of supply-chain security holes

It’s easy to understand why a cloud-native approach elicits such fervor. By using flexible, modular container technologies such as Kubernetes and microservices, development teams are better equipped to streamline and accelerate the application lifecycle, which in turn enables the business to deliver on their ambitious digital transformation initiatives.

However, despite cloud-native’s promise to deliver greater speed and agility, a variety of legitimate security concerns have kept IT leaders from pushing the throttle on their cloud-native agenda.

According to the most recent State of Kubernetes Security report, more than half (55 percent) of respondents reported that they have delayed deploying Kubernetes applications into production due to security concerns (up 11 percent from the year prior) while 94 percent admitted to experiencing a security incident in their Kubernetes or container environment in the past year.

It’s clear that until we can deliver security at the same velocity in which containers are being built and deployed that many of our cloud-native aspirations will remain unfulfilled.

Cloud-native requirements

Traditionally, developers didn’t think much about application security until after deployment. However, as DevOps and modern development practices such as Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) have become the norm, we’ve come to appreciate that bolting security on after the fact can be a recipe for future application vulnerabilities.

Security must be ‘baked in’ rather than ‘brushed on’—and this current ethos has given rise to the DevSecOps movement where security plays a leading role in the DevOps process. However, it’s not enough to simply shoehorn these practices into the dynamic cloud-native development lifecycle.

SHARED INTEL: Can Apple’s pricey ‘Business Essentials’ truly help SMBs secure their endpoints?

By Apu Pavithran

Today’s operating system battleground has long been defined by the warfare between the top three players—Microsoft’s Windows, Google’s Android, and Apple’s iOS.

Related: Adroid vs. iOS – battle of the OS giants

While each of them has its distinguishing features, Apple’s privacy and security are what makes it the typical enterprise’s pick. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, could be heard stating in the virtual Computers, Privacy, and Data Protection Conference, “Privacy is one of the top issues of the century and it should be weighed as equal as climate change.”

In June 2020, Apple’s intention of expanding in the enterprise space was made evident by the acquisition of Fleetsmith, a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution for Apple devices. What would unfold next with Fleetsmith on their team was the most anticipated question.

In effect, Apple launched Apple Business Essentials (ABE). Let’s take a look at whether ABE will suffice enterprises’ demands.

Apple eyes SMBs

In recent years, we have seen diverse initiatives, including the Apple Business Manager (ABM) app launched in spring 2018 and Apple Business Essentials (ABE) in 2021, clearly showing Apple’s desire to conquer the enterprise market.

MY TAKE: What if Big Data and AI could be intensively focused on health and wellbeing?

By Byron V. Acohido

Might it be possible to direct cool digital services at holistically improving the wellbeing of each citizen of planet Earth?

Related: Pursuing a biological digital twin

A movement aspiring to do just that is underway — and it’s not being led by a covey of tech-savvy Tibetan monks. This push is coming from the corporate sector.

Last August, NTT, the Tokyo-based technology giant, unveiled its Health and Wellbeing initiative – an ambitious effort to guide corporate, political and community leaders onto a more enlightened path. NTT, in short, has set out to usher in a new era of human wellness.

Towards this end it has begun sharing videos, whitepapers and reports designed to rally decision makers from all quarters to a common cause. The blue-sky mission is to bring modern data mining and machine learning technologies to bear delivering personalized services that ameliorate not just physical ailments, but also mental and even emotional ones.

That’s a sizable fish to fry. I had a lively discussion with Craig Hinkley, CEO of NTT Application Security, about the thinking behind this crusade. I came away encouraged that some smart folks are striving to pull us in a well-considered direction. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are a few key takeaways:

A new starting point

Modern medicine has advanced leaps and bounds in my lifetime when it comes to diagnosing and treating severe illnesses. Even so, for a variety of reasons, healthcare sectors in the U.S. and other jurisdictions have abjectly failed over the past 20 years leveraging Big Data to innovate personalized healthcare services.

GUEST ESSAY: 5 tips for ‘de-risking’ work scenarios that require accessing personal data

By Alexey Kessenikh

Working with personal data in today’s cyber threat landscape is inherently risky.

Related: The dangers of normalizing encryption for government use

It’s possible to de-risk work scenarios involving personal data by carrying out a classic risk assessment of an organization’s internal and external infrastructure. This can include:

Security contours. Setting up security contours for certain types of personal data can be useful for:

•Nullifying threats and risks applicable to general infrastructural components and their environment.

•Planning required processes and security components when initially building your architecture.

•Helping ensure data privacy.

Unique IDs. It is also possible to obfuscate personal data by replacing it with unique identifiers (UID). This de-risks personal data that does not fit in a separate security contour.

Implementing a UID system can reduce risk when accessing personal data for use in analytical reports, statistical analysis, or for client support.

SHARED INTEL: Log4j vulnerability presents a gaping attack vector companies must heed in 2022

By Byron V. Acohido

As we close out 2021, a gargantuan open-source vulnerability has reared its ugly head.

Related: The case for ‘SBOM’

This flaw in the Apache Log4J logging library is already being aggressively probed and exploited by threat actors — and it is sure to become a major headache for security teams in 2022.

“This vulnerability is so dangerous because of its massive scale. Java is used on over 3 billion devices, and a large number of those use Log4j,” says Forrester cybersecurity analyst Allie Mellen, adding that crypto miners and botnet operators are already making hay.

“We can expect more devastating attacks, like ransomware, leveraging this vulnerability in the future,” Mellen adds. “This vulnerability will be used for months if not years to attack enterprises, which is why security teams must strike while the iron is hot.”

This Log4j vulnerability was disclosed to Apache on Nov. 24 by the Alibaba Cloud Security team. Then on Dec. 9, the vulnerability, formally designated CVE-2021-44228, was disclosed on Twitter; meanwhile a  proof-of-concept exploit got posted on GitHub.

This flaw in an open-source web server software used far and wide  puts open-source risks in the spotlight – yet again. Companies will have to deal with Log4J in much the same manner as they were compelled to react to the open source flaws Heartbleed and Shellshock in 2014.

ROUNDTABLE: Cybersecurity experts reflect on 2021, foresee intensifying challenges in 2022

By Byron V. Acohido

Privacy and cybersecurity challenges and controversies reverberated through all aspect of business, government and culture in the year coming to a close.

Related: Thumbs up for Biden’s cybersecurity exec order

Last Watchdog sought commentary from technology thought leaders about lessons learned in 2021– and guidance heading into 2022. More than two dozen experts participated. Here the first of two articles highlighting what they had to say. Comments edited for clarity and length. The second roundtable column will be published on Dec. 27th.

Paul Ayers, CEO, Noetic Cyber

In 2021, large supply chain attacks successfully exploited critical vulnerabilities.  Patching is hard and prioritization is key. By mapping cyber relationships to business context, security teams can focus on a smaller number of critical assets and vulnerabilities.

The cyber industry swings back and forth between prevention and response. A renewed focus on preventative approaches, like security posture management, cyber hygiene and cyber asset management shows organizations are trying to anticipate these problems. Forward thinking security teams working to unlock siloed telemetry and generate a wider cybersecurity view of the organization.

Dr. Darren Williams, CEO, BlackFog

We’re seeing ransomware gangs morph into savvy businesses, with one going so far as to create a fake company to recruit talent. In 2022, we’ll see this trend continue to pick up steam, with greater coordination between gangs, double extortion evolving to triple extortion, and short selling schemes skyrocketing.

Additionally, we will see a shift in threat actors coming from Southeast Asia and Africa. As cyber criminals look to find cheaper labor and technical expertise, we’ll see activity pick up in these regions in 2022 and beyond.

SHARED INTEL: Here’s why it has become so vital to prioritize the security-proofing of APIs

By Byron V. Acohido

Application Programming Interface. APIs. Where would we be without them?

Related: Supply-chain exposures on the rise

APIs are the snippets of code that interconnect the underlying components of all the digital services we can’t seem to live without. Indeed, APIs have opened new horizons of cloud services, mobile computing and IoT infrastructure, with much more to come.

Yet, in bringing us here, APIs have also spawned a vast new tier of security holes. API vulnerabilities are ubiquitous and multiplying; they’re turning up everywhere. Yet, API security risks haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. It has become clear that API security needs to be prioritized as companies strive to mitigate modern-day cyber exposures.

Consider that as agile software development proliferates, fresh APIs get flung into service to build and update cool new apps. Since APIs are explicitly used to connect data and services between applications, each fresh batch of APIs and API updates are like a beacon to malicious actors.

Organizations don’t even know how many APIs they have, much less how those APIs are exposing sensitive data. Thus security-proofing APIs has become a huge challenge. APIs are like snowflakes: each one is unique. Therefore, every API vulnerability is necessarily unique. Attackers have taken to poking and prodding APIs to find inadvertent and overlooked flaws; even better yet, from a hacker’s point of view, many properly designed APIs are discovered to be easy to  manipulate — to gain access and to steal sensitive data.

Meanwhile, the best security tooling money can buy was never designed to deal with this phenomenon.

MY TAKE: lastwatchdog.com receives recognition as a Top 10 cybersecurity webzine in 2021

By Byron V. Acohido

Last Watchdog’s mission is to foster useful understanding about emerging cybersecurity and privacy exposures.

Related article: The road to a Pulitzer

While I no longer concern myself with seeking professional recognition for my work, it’s, of course, always terrific to receive peer validation that we’re steering a good course.

That’s why I’m thrilled to point out that Last Watchdog has been recognized, once again, as a trusted source of information on cybersecurity and privacy topics. The recognition comes from Cyber Security Hub, a website sponsored by IQPC Digital. We’ve been named one of the Top 10 cybersecurity webzines in 2021.

Here is their very gracious description of what Last Watchdog is all about:

“Founder, contributor and executive editor of the forward-thinking Last Watchdog webzine, Byron V. Acohido is a Pulitzer-winning journalist and web producer. Visit Last Watchdog to view videos, surf cyber news, gain informative analysis and read guest essays from leading lights in the cybersecurity community. Expect content that is always accurate and fair, with recent posts exploring the monitoring of complex modern networks, telecom data breaches that expose vast numbers of mobile users, efforts to make software products safer and ransomware attacks on global supply chains.”

MY TAKE: For better or worse, machine-to-machine code connections now form much of the castle wall

By Byron V. Acohido

Managing permissions is proving to be a huge security blind spot for many companies.

Related: President Biden’s cybersecurity order sets the stage

What’s happening is that businesses are scaling up their adoption of multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud infrastructures. And in doing so, they’re embracing agile software deployments, which requires authentication and access privileges to be dispensed, on the fly, for each human-to-machine and machine-to-machine coding connection.

This frenetic activity brings us cool new digital services, alright. But the flip side is that companies have conceded to a dramatic expansion of their cloud attack surface – and left it wide open to threat actors.

“The explosion in the number of human and non-human identities in the public cloud has become a security risk that businesses simply can’t ignore,” observes Eric Kedrosky, CISO at Sonrai Security.

I’ve had a couple of deep discussions with Kedrosky about this. Based in New York City, Sonrai is a leading innovator in a nascent security discipline, referred to as Cloud Infrastructure Entitlement Management (CIEM,)

MY TAKE: Can Project Wildland’s egalitarian platform make Google, Facebook obsolete?

By Byron V. Acohido

Most of the people I know professionally and personally don’t spend a lot of time contemplating the true price we pay for the amazing digital services we’ve all become addicted to.

Related: Blockchain’s role in the next industrial revolution

I’ll use myself as a prime example. My professional and social life revolve around free and inexpensive information feeds and digital tools supplied by Google, Microsoft, Amazon, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

I’m productive. Yet, I’m certainly not immune to the clutter and skewed perspectives these tech giants throw at me on an hourly basis — as they focus myopically on monetizing my digital footprints. I don’t know what I’d do without my tech tools, but I also have a foreboding sense that I spend way too much with them.

Technologically speaking, we are where we are because a handful of tech giants figured out how to collect, store and monetize user data in a singular fashion. Each operates a closed platform designed to voraciously gather, store and monetize user data.

SHARED INTEL: Reviving ‘observability’ as a means to deeply monitor complex modern networks

By Byron V. Acohido

An array of promising security trends is in motion.

New frameworks, like SASE, CWPP and CSPM, seek to weave security more robustly into the highly dynamic, intensely complex architecture of modern business networks.

Related: 5 Top SIEM myths

And a slew of new application security technologies designed specifically to infuse security deeply into specific software components – as new coding is being developed and even after it gets deployed and begins running in live use.

Now comes another security initiative worth noting. A broad push is underway to retool an old-school software monitoring technique, called observability, and bring it to bear on modern business networks. I had the chance to sit down with George Gerchow, chief security officer at Sumo Logic, to get into the weeds on this.

Based in Redwood City, Calif., Sumo Logic supplies advanced cloud monitoring services and is in the thick of this drive to adapt classic observability to the convoluted needs of company networks, today and going forward. For a drill down on this lively discussion, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are the main takeaways:

ROUNDTABLE: Why T-Mobile’s latest huge data breach could fuel attacks directed at mobile devices

By Byron V. Acohido

TMobile has now issued a formal apology and offered free identity theft recovery services to nearly 48 million customers for whom the telecom giant failed to protect their sensitive personal information.

At the start of this week, word got out that hackers claimed to have seized personal data for as many as 100 million T-Mobile  patrons.

Related: Kaseya hack worsens supply chain risk

This stolen booty reportedly included social security numbers, phone numbers, names, home addresses, unique IMEI numbers, and driver’s license information.

Once more, a heavily protected enterprise network has been pillaged by data thieves. Last Watchdog convened a roundtable of cybersecurity experts to discuss the ramifications, which seem all too familiar. Here’s what they had to say, edited for clarity and length:

Allie Mellen, analyst, Forrester

According to the attackers, this was a configuration issue on an access point T-Mobile used for testing. The configuration issue made this access point publicly available on the Internet. This was not a sophisticated attack. T-Mobile left a gate left wide open for attackers – and attackers just had to find the gate.”

T-Mobile is offering two free years of identity protection for affected customers, but ultimately this is pushing the responsibility for the safety of the data onto the user. Instead of addressing the security gaps that have plagued T-Mobile for years, they are offering their customers temporary identity protection when breaches happen, as if to say, ‘This is the best we can do.’

Chris Clements, VP of Solutions Architecture, Cerberus Sentinel

Author Q&A: In modern cyberwarfare ‘information security’ is one in the same with ‘national security’

By Byron V. Acohido

What exactly constitutes cyberwarfare?

The answer is not easy to pin down. On one hand, one could argue that cyber criminals are waging an increasingly debilitating economic war on consumers and businesses in the form of account hijacking, fraud, and extortion. Meanwhile, nation-states — the superpowers and second-tier nations alike — are hotly pursuing strategic advantage by stealing intellectual property, hacking into industrial controls, and dispersing political propaganda at an unheard-of scale.

Related: Experts react to Biden’s cybersecurity executive order

Now comes a book by John Arquilla, titled Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Cyberwarfare, that lays out who’s doing what, and why, in terms of malicious use of digital resources connected over the Internet. Arquilla is a distinguished professor of defense analysis at the United States Naval Postgraduate School. He coined the term ‘cyberwar,’ along with David Ronfeldt, over 20 years ago and is a leading expert on the threats posed by cyber technologies to national security.

Bitskrieg gives substance to, and connects the dots between, a couple of assertions that have become axiomatic:

•Military might no longer has primacy. It used to be the biggest, loudest weapons prevailed and prosperous nations waged military campaigns to achieve physically measurable gains. Today, tactical cyber strikes can come from a variety of operatives – and they may have mixed motives, only one of which happens to be helping a nation-state achieve a geo-political objective.

•Information is weaponizable. This is truer today than ever before. Arquilla references nuanced milestones from World War II to make this point – and get you thinking. For instance, he points out how John Steinbeck used a work of fiction to help stir the resistance movement across Europe.

Steinbeck’s imaginative novel, The Moon is Down, evocatively portrayed how ordinary Norwegians took extraordinary measures to disrupt Nazi occupation. This reference got me thinking about how Donald Trump used social media to stir the Jan. 6 insurrection in … more

Black Hat insights: How to shift security-by-design to the right, instead of left, with SBOM, deep audits

By Byron V. Acohido

There is a well-established business practice referred to as bill of materials, or BOM, that is a big reason why we can trust that a can of soup isn’t toxic or that the jetliner we’re about to board won’t fail catastrophically

Related: Experts react to Biden cybersecurity executive order

A bill of materials is a complete list of the components used to manufacture a product. The software industry has something called SBOM: software bill of materials. However, SBOMs are rudimentary when compared to the BOMs associated with manufacturing just about everything else we expect to be safe and secure: food, buildings, medical equipment, medicines and transportation vehicles.

An effort to bring SBOMs up to par is gaining steam and getting a lot of attention at Black Hat USA 2021 this week in Las Vegas. President Biden’s cybersecurity executive order, issued in May, includes a detailed SBOM requirement for all software delivered to the federal government.

ReversingLabs, a Cambridge, MA-based software vendor that helps companies conduct deep analysis of new apps just before they go out the door, is in the thick of this development. I had the chance to visit with its co-founder and chief software architect Tomislav Pericin. For a full drill down on our discussion please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are the big takeaways:

Gordian Knot challenge

The software industry is fully cognizant of the core value of a bill of materials and has been striving for a number of years to adapt it to software development.

FIRESIDE CHAT: All-powerful developers begin steering to the promise land of automated security

By Byron V. Acohido

Software developers have become the masters of the digital universe.

Related: GraphQL APIs pose new risks

Companies in the throes of digital transformation are in hot pursuit of agile software and this has elevated developers to the top of the food chain in computing.

There is an argument to be made that agility-minded developers, in fact, are in a terrific position to champion the rearchitecting of Enterprise security that’s sure to play out over the next few years — much more so than methodical, status-quo-minded security engineers.

With Black Hat USA 2021 reconvening in Las Vegas this week, I had a deep discussion about this with Himanshu Dwivedi, founder and chief executive officer, and Doug Dooley, chief operating officer, of Data Theorem, a Palo Alto, CA-based supplier of a SaaS security platform to help companies secure their APIs and modern applications.

For a full drill down on this evocative conversation discussion please view the accompanying video. Here are the highlights, edited for clarity and length:

LW:  Bad actors today are seeking out APIs that they can manipulate, and then they follow the data flow to a weakly protected asset. Can you frame how we got here?

Dwivedi: So 20 years ago, as a hacker, I’d go see where a company registered its IP. I’d do an ARIN Whois look-up. I’d profile their network and build an attack tree. Fast forward 20 years and everything is in the cloud. Everything is in Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure and I can’t tell where anything is hosted based solely on IP registration.

So as a hacker today, I’m no longer looking for a cross-site scripting issue of some website since I can only attack one person at a time with that. I’m looking at the client, which could be an IoT device, or a mobile app or a single page web app (SPA) or it could be an … more

NEW TECH: How the emailing of verified company logos actually stands to fortify cybersecurity

By Byron V. Acohido

Google’s addition to Gmail of something called Verified Mark Certificates (VMCs) is a very big deal in the arcane world of online marketing.

Related: Dangers of weaponized email

This happened rather quietly as Google announced the official launch of VMCs in a blog post on July 12. Henceforth companies will be able to insert their trademarked logos in Gmail’s avatar slot; many marketers can’t wait to distribute email carrying certified logos to billions of inboxes. They view logoed email as an inexpensive way to boost brand awareness and customer engagement on a global scale.

However, there is a fascinating back story about how Google’s introduction of VMCs – to meet advertising and marketing imperatives — could ultimately foster a profound advance in email security. Over the long term, VMCs, and the underlying Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standards, could very well give rise to a bulwark against email spoofing and phishing.

I had a chance to sit down with Dean Coclin, senior director of business development at DigiCert, to get into the weeds of this quirky, potentially profound, security development. DigiCert is a Lehi, Utah-based Certificate Authority (CA) and supplier of Public Key Infrastructure services.

Coclin and I worked through how a huge email security breakthrough could serendipitously arrive as a collateral benefit of VMCs. Here are the main takeaways from our discussion:

ROUNDTABLE: Kaseya hack exacerbates worrisome supply-chain, ransomware exposures

By Byron V. Acohido

It was bound to happen: a supply-chain compromise, ala SolarWinds, has been combined with a ransomware assault, akin to Colonial Pipeline, with devasting implications.

Related: The targeting of supply chains

Last Friday, July 2, in a matter of a few minutes,  a Russian hacking collective, known as REvil, distributed leading-edge ransomware to thousands of small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) across the planet — and succeeded in locking out critical systems in at least 1,500 of them. This was accomplished by exploiting a zero-day vulnerability in Kaseya VSA, a network management tool widely used by managed service providers (MSPs)  as their primary tool to remotely manage IT systems on behalf of SMBs.

REvil essentially took full control of the Kaseya VSA servers at the MSP level, then used them for the singular purpose of extorting victimized companies — mostly SMBs —  for payments of $45,000, payable in Minera. In a few instances, the attackers requested $70 million, payable in Bitcoin, for a universal decryptor.

Like SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline, Miami-based software vendor, Kaseya, was a thriving entity humming right along, striving like everyone else to leverage digital agility — while also dodging cybersecurity pitfalls. Now Kaseya and many of its downstream customers find themselves in a  crisis recovery mode faced with shoring up their security posture and reconstituting trust. Neither will come easily or cheaply.

MY TAKE: Why monetizing data lakes will require applying ‘attribute-based’ access rules to encryption

By Byron V. Acohido

The amount of data in the world topped an astounding 59 zetabytes in 2020, much of it pooling in data lakes.

Related:  The importance of basic research

We’ve barely scratched the surface of applying artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics to the raw data collecting in these gargantuan cloud-storage structures erected by Amazon, Microsoft and Google. But it’s coming, in the form of driverless cars, climate-restoring infrastructure and next-gen healthcare technology.

In order to get there, one big technical hurdle must be surmounted. A new form of agile cryptography must get established in order to robustly preserve privacy and security as all this raw data gets put to commercial use.

I recently had the chance to discuss this with Kei Karasawa, vice president of strategy, and Fang Wu, consultant, at NTT Research, a Silicon Valley-based think tank which is in the thick of deriving the math formulas that will get us there.

They outlined why something called attribute-based encryption, or ABE, has emerged as the basis for a new form of agile cryptography that we will need in order to kick digital transformation into high gear.

For a drill down on our discussion, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are the key takeaways:

Cloud exposures

Data lakes continue to swell because each second of every day, every human, on average, is creating 1.7 megabytes of fresh data. These are the rivulets feeding the data lakes.

A zettabyte equals one trillion gigabytes. Big data just keeps getting bigger. And we humans crunch as much of it as we can by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to derive cool new digital services. But we’re going to need the help of quantum computers to get to the really amazing stuff, and that hardware is coming.

As we press ahead into our digital future, however, we’ll also need to retool the public-key-infrastructure. PKI is the authentication and encryption framework … more

GUEST ESSAY: ‘Cybersecurity specialist’ tops list of work-from-home IT jobs that need filling

By Scott Orr

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic turned many office workers into work-from-home (WFH) experts, the trend toward working without having to commute was clear.

Related: Mock attacks help SMBs harden defenses

As internet bandwidth has become more available, with homes having access to gigabit download speeds, a whole new world of career paths has opened for those who want to control their work hours and conditions. Maybe you want better pay, to be home near your kids or you just like the idea of avoiding the daily drive to an office. Whatever the reason, you can likely find work online.

One of the hottest fields right now on the WFH radar is the information technology (IT) sector. But you’ll first need to learn the specifics to get to work. Fortunately, there are online classes you can take to get that knowledge – and best of all, you can take them for free.  Let’s look at what’s available and how you might jumpstart a new career.

Most IT jobs require you to have some sort of experience before you can start charging enough to make them viable as full-time employment. And some are more like a side hustle or temp job.

Having said that, here are some examples of IT careers you can learn online through free courses:

Security specialist

The more we do online, the more criminals want to take advantage of us. That makes fighting cybercrime a definite growth industry. A wide range of companies, in just about every field, are adding computer security specialists. In fact, these jobs are expected to increase a whopping 31% by 2029. This job involves planning and implementing security measures for large and small companies that rely on computer networks. You will need to develop the ability to anticipate techniques used in future cyberattacks so they can be prevented.

MY TAKE: Apple users show strong support for Tim Cook’s privacy war against Mark Zuckerberger

By Byron V. Acohido

Like a couple of WWE arch rivals, Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have squared off against each other in a donnybrook over consumer privacy.

Cook initially body slammed Zuckerberg — when Apple issued new privacy policies aimed at giving U.S. consumers a smidgen more control over their personal data while online.

Related: Raising kids who care about their privacy

Zuckerberg then dropped kicked Cook by taking out full-page newspaper ads painting Apple’s social responsibility flexing as bad for business; he then hammered Cook with a pop-up ad campaign designed to undermine Apple’s new privacy policies.

But wait. Here’s Cook rising from the mat to bash Z-Man at the Brussels’ International Privacy Day, labeling his tormentor as an obsessive exploiter who ought to be stopped from so greedily exploiting consumers’ digital footprints for his personal gain.

This colorful chapter in the history of technology and society isn’t just breezing by unnoticed. A recent survey of some 2,000 U.S. iPhone and iPad users, conducted by SellCell.com, a phone and tech trade-in website, shows American consumers are tuned in and beginning to recognize what’s at stake.

Fully 72 percent of those polled by SellCell said they were aware of new privacy changes in recent Apple software updates, not just in a cursory manner, but with a high level of understanding; some 42 percent said they understood the privacy improvements extremely well or at least very well, while 21 percent said they understood them moderately well.

Another telling finding: some 65 percent of respondents indicated they were extremely or very concerned about websites and mobile apps that proactively track their online behaviors, while only 14 percent said they were not at all concerned.

SHARED INTEL: Here’s why security analysts need to remain on high alert for fake bug reports

By Zac Amos

In an ideal world, cybersecurity analysts would get legitimate daily reports on improving a company’s security. Unfortunately, the likelihood of being handed unsolicited, untrustworthy advice is high.

Related: Tech giants foster third-party snooping

This is what fake bug reports are all about. Scammers now routinely spray out fake bug reports designed to take advantage of the naiveite and/or lack of vigilance of security analysts in the field.

Scammers will send reports known as bug bounties stating security vulnerabilities in a machine. The fraudster might claim it’s missing security credentials or necessary security software.

These often come as unsolicited phone calls or computer notifications and might sound convincing and well-intentioned, claiming they can solve all the vulnerabilities in the electronics if recipients buy the report.

Compounding risk

These engagements aim to extort money — and in the most severe circumstances with more advanced cybercriminal tactics — infect computers or steal data. Security analysts should be on high alert. Unless it’s someone from within an organization or part of a company’s employed team, a best practice is to second guess any experts claiming they have cybersecurity advice.

What may appear to be a legitimate cybersecurity query, may in fact be designed to flush out and exploit security in the system. Caution is the order of the day.

GUEST ESSAY: How ‘DPIAs” — data privacy impact assessments — can lead SMBs to compliance

By Bipin Damodaran

As the world becomes more digital and connected, it is no surprise that data privacy and security is a growing concern for small to medium sized businesses — SMBs.

Related: GDPR sets new course for data privacy

Large corporations tend to have the resources to deal with compliance issues. However, SMBs have can struggle with the expense and execution of complying with data security laws in many countries.

Organizations with 500 or fewer employees have many positive attributes, such as their ability to make fast decisions and avoid bureaucracy that can slow down larger enterprises. But this same characteristic can also be a disadvantage, as SMBs often lack the resources and expertise to keep up with complex regulations.

Let’s look at some of the challenges faced by SMBs in today’s data privacy landscape.

GUEST ESSAY: In pursuit of smarter cybersecurity — to overcome complex risks and grow revenue

By Chris Reffkin

In golf there’s a popular saying: play the course, not your opponent.

Related: How ‘CAASM’ closes gaps

In an enterprise, it’s the same rule. All areas of an organization need to be free to “play their own game.”

And  when malware, ransomware, or other cyber threats get in the way, the focus shifts from forward progress to focused co-operation. A security strategy should clear obstacles and enable  every part of a business operation to run smoothly.

Smarter security is the rising tide that lifts all ships. As all parts of an organization overlap with security, an increase in one allows benefits in others.

Departments such as support, manufacturing, design, services, and delivery are enhanced by smart security measures, which allay distracting setbacks and increase the overall inertia. This leads to revenue gains and positive customer outcomes.

What constitutes “smarter security?” Smarter security to me broadly refers to relentlessly focusing on fundamentals while maturing the program, making sure your risk posture aligns with your business strategy.