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GUEST ESSAY: Addressing data leaks and other privacy, security exposures attendant to M&As

By Alicia Townsend and Ariel Zommer

Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity hit record highs in 2021, and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon.

Related: Stolen data used to target mobile services

Many attribute this steady growth to the increase in work-from-home models and adoption of cloud services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such consolidation across markets is good news for customers and vendors alike in terms of market growth and maximizing security investments.

Underlying all of this optimism, however, is the ever-present threat of cyberattack. The FBI recently issued a warning that ransomware gangs are targeting companies during “time-sensitive financial events”, such as mergers and acquisitions.

With ransomware attacks increasing year-over-year, we will continue to see this as a common attack vector. Going through an M&A is highly risky business due in large part to the potential impact on the market, valuation, shareholders, business partners, etc. (more…)

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SHARED INTEL: Data breaches across the globe slowed significantly in Q4 2021 versus Q1-Q3

By Vytautas Kaziukonis

After a gloomy start with its first three breach intensive quarters, 2021 has finally ended, and on a positive note.

Related: Cybersecurity experts reflect on 2021

This conclusion is derived from an analysis of data taken from our data breach detection tool, Surfshark Alert, which comprises publicly available breached data sets to inform our users of potential threats.

Our analysis looked into data breaches that occurred from October to December 2021 (Q4) and compared them with the numbers from July through August 2021 (Q3). Breached accounts were analyzed according to the country’s origin, and the actual time the breach was recorded.

All information either stolen or taken from a system without the authorization of the platform’s owner (in other words, proactively hacked or scrapped) is considered a data breach. Data associations to specific breach instances are only stipulated. Full study data is available here.

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.

MY TAKE: Why companies had better start taking the security pitfalls of API proliferation seriously

By Byron V. Acohido

APIs are putting business networks at an acute, unprecedented level of risk – a dynamic that has yet to be fully acknowledged by businesses.

Related: ‘SASE’ framework extends security to the network edge

That said, APIs are certain to get a lot more attention by security teams — and board members concerned about cyber risk mitigation — in 2022. This is so because a confluence of developments in 2021 has put API security in the spotlight, where it needs to be.

APIs have emerged as a go-to tool used by threat actors in the early phases of sophisticated, multi-stage network attacks. Upon gaining a toehold on a targeted device or server, attackers now quickly turn their attention to locating and manipulating available APIs.

“Threat actors have become aware that APIs represent a ton of exposed opportunity,” says Mike Spanbauer, security evangelist at Juniper Networks, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based supplier of networking technology.

Over the past year, I’ve had several deep conversations parsing how APIs have emerged as a two-edged sword: APIs accelerate digital transformation, but they also vastly expand the attack surface of modern business networks.

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.

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.

Q&A: 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.

GUEST ESSAY: A primer on why AI could be your company’s cybersecurity secret weapon in 2022

By Anurag Gurtu

Artificial intelligence (AI) is woven into the fabric of today’s business world.

However, business model integration of AI is in its infancy and smaller companies often lack the resources to leverage AI.

Related: Deploying human security sensors

Even so, AI is useful across a wide spectrum of industries. There already are many human work models augmented by AI. Understanding the established models before integrating AI is critical. For instance, here are a few common algorithm models that use data sets to detect patterns and make conclusions.

•Linear regression. Using supervised learning, this finds relationships between input and output variables; for example a person’s weight based on known height.

•Logistic regression. This is a statistical model for predicting the class of dependent variables from a set of given independent variables.

•Linear discriminant analysis.  LDA commonly gets used when two or more classes have to be differentiated; it is especially useful in the field of medicine and computer vision.

GUEST ESSAY: Here’s why EDR and XDR systems failed to curtail the ransomware wave of 2021

By Eddy Bobritsky

Looking back, 2021 was a breakout year for ransomware around the globe, with ransoms spiking to unprecedented multi-million dollar amounts.

Related: Colonial Pipeline attack ups ransomware ante

All this while Endpoint Detection and Response system (EDR) installations are at an all-time high. EDR systems are supposed to protect IT system endpoints against these very malware, ransomware, and other types of malicious code

Despite investing in some of the best detection and response technologies, companies with EDRs are still experiencing ransomware attacks. Surprisingly, during the same timeframe in which EDRs became more popular, not only have malware and ransomware attacks become more frequent, it now takes an average of 287 days to detect and contain a data breach, according to IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021.

Infection required

So, why is this happening if so many companies are adopting EDR and XDR solutions, which are supposed to neutralize these threats?

In short, it’s just about the way EDRs and XDRs work. EDRs, by design, aren’t really equipped to prevent 100 percent of malware and ransomware attacks.

When most EDRs detect malicious behavior, they develop a response in order to stop the attack from causing more damage.

GUEST ESSAY: The case for network defenders to focus on leading — not lagging — indicators

By Rohit Sethi

A key CEO responsibility is reporting results that deliver on a company’s mission to shareholders. This reporting often requires a host of metrics that define success, like Annual Recurring Revenue and sales for software as a service (SaaS) companies. These are lagging indicators where the results follow behind the work required to achieve them.

Related: Automating SecOps

Lagging indicators are separate from leading indicators that could include marketing leads, pipeline generation and demos. When it comes to sales targets there is a correlation between increased sales to shareholder value creation, but closing sales in B2B transactions can be time consuming. Ideally, companies should know that their work will lead to the appropriate future lagging indicators, and not the other way around.

Leading indicators provide a shorter feedback loop. This enables employees to drive improvement, and are more motivating because employees know what they have to do to succeed. In cybersecurity we often face a bias towards lagging indicators, unfortunately.

Cybersecurity nuances

One could argue that the true lagging indicator in cybersecurity is a breach, and that anything that helps prevent a breach, like adopting a “shift left” philosophy as part of a DevSecOps initiative, is a leading indicator.

However, “vulnerabilities” are lagging indicators because you don’t know how many vulnerabilities you have until you test for them. If targets such as defect density or compliance to scanner policy (i.e. having only a certain number of “allowable” vulnerabilities before releasing software) are the only targets, there are few ways of predicting success.

GUEST ESSAY: JPMorgan’s $200 million in fines stems from all-too-common compliance failures

By Dima Gutzeit

Last month’s $125 million Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) fine combined with the $75 million U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) fine against JPMorgan sent shockwaves through financial and other regulated customer-facing industries.

Related: Why third-party risks are on the rise

According to a SEC release, hefty fines brought against JPMorgan, and its subsidiaries were based on “widespread and longstanding failures by the firm and its employees to maintain and preserve written communications”. These views were echoed in a CFTC release as well.

While the price tag of these violations was shocking, the compliance failure was not. The ever-changing landscape of rapid communication via instant messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Signal, WeChat, Telegram, and others, has left regulated industries to find a balance between compliance and efficient client communication.

Insecure platforms

Approved forms of communication such as phone calls, emails, and fax are viewed by some consumers as obsolete. So, as teams work to remain relevant, team leaders and employees carry the burden of ensuring a better and more intuitive customer experience.

Many of these instant messaging platforms are secure, even offering end-to-end encryption, so the lack of security is not necessarily in the apps themselves. Without a responsible business communication platform for these conversations to flow through, customer requests and discussions live only on employees’ personal devices.