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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.)

FIRESIDE CHAT: Poll shows senior execs, board members grasp strategic importance of cybersecurity

By Byron V. Acohido

A singular topic has risen to the top of the agenda in executive suites and board rooms all across the planet: cybersecurity.

Related: Security, privacy fallout of IoT

A recent survey by Infosys, a tech consulting and IT services giant based in Bangalore, India, quantifies the degree to which the spotlight has landed on cybersecurity in large organizations.

Infosys polled 867 senior officials from 847 firms in a dozen industries, each with at least $500 million in annual revenue; the companies are based in the US, Europe, Australia or New Zealand. Some 83% of respondents said they viewed cybersecurity as critical to their organization, while 66% of the companies reported having implemented a well-defined cybersecurity strategy.

What jumped out at me was that 60% of C-level executives and 48% of board members indicated they actively participated in formulating cybersecurity strategy. Just five years ago a participation level like this was more of an optimistic hope, than anything else. At least that’s what I took away from a memorable fireside chat I had, back then, with the late Howard Schmidt, former White House Cybersecurity Advisor under Presidents Bush and Obama.

Last week, I had the chance to sit down with Vishal Salvi, Infosys’ chief information security officer. We met at the Infosys Americas Confluence conference in Scottsdale, AZ, and had a well-rounded discussion about the drivers behind this new board-level awareness – and the going forward implications. For a full drill down, please give a listen to the accompanying podcast. Here are a few key takeaways:

Time to execute

Salvi walked me through other survey findings illustrating how pervasively a cybersecurity consciousness has taken hold in the upper echelons of the corporate sector. According to the Infosys poll, these items are on the front burner:

•The top concerns faced by enterprises are hackers and hacktivist (84 percent), low awareness among employees (76 percent), insider threats (75 percent), and corporate … more

DEEP TECH NEWS: The drivers behind the stark rise — and security implications — of ‘memory attacks’

By Byron V. Acohido

A distinctive class of hacking is rising to the fore and is being leveraged by threat actors to carry out deep, highly resilient intrusions of well-defended company networks.

Related: Memory hacking becomes a go-to tactic

These attacks are referred to in the security community as “fileless attacks” or “memory attacks.” The latter conveys a more precise picture: memory hacking refers to a broad set of practices, which can include fileless attacks, that constitute this go-deep form of network break-ins.

I had the chance at RSA 2019 to discuss memory hacking with Willy Leichter, vice president of marketing, and Shauntinez Jakab, director of product marketing, at Virsec, a San Jose-based supplier of advanced application security and memory protection technologies.

They walked me through how threat actors are cleverly slipping snippets of malicious code past perimeter defenses and then executing their payloads  – undetected while applications are live, running in process memory.

For a long time, memory hacking was the exclusive province of nation-state backed operatives. But over the past couple of years, memory attacks have come into regular use by common cybercriminals. Garden-variety threat actors are now leveraging memory hacking tools and techniques to gain footholds, move laterally and achieve persistence deep inside well-defended networks.

For a comprehensive drill down, please view the accompanying YouTube video of my full interview with Leichter and Jakab at RSA 2019’s broadcast alley. Here are excerpts, edited for clarity and length:

LW: Can you frame this new class of hacking?

FIRESIDE CHAT: The way forward, despite overwhelming cyber threats

By Byron V. Acohido

NEW YORK CITY – Cyber Connect 2017 cybersecurity summit that just wrapped up at the beautiful Grand Hyatt located adjacent to Grand Central Station here in the Big Apple. I got the chance to be on the other side of the interview, sitting down with John Furrier and David Vellante, co-hosts of The Cube. We did it live; here’s the recorded stream.

FIRESIDE CHAT: Why board directors, senior execs must gain full understanding of data breaches

By Byron V. Acohido

Driven by the fallout of major data breaches at Target, Sony Pictures, Anthem and hundreds of other large and small organizations elsewhere, cybersecurity is now a problem of strategic importance in organizations of all sizes.

ThirdCertainty sat down last week at the RSA Conference in San Francisco with Howard Schmidt, former White House Cybersecurity Advisor under Presidents Bush and Obama, to discuss the wider context. The fireside chat was sponsored by TaaSera, supplier of pre-emptive breach detection systems.

3C: Are the dots starting to connect in the minds of senior executives that their organizations are facing profound new exposures?

Schmidt: Yes, they are starting to look at cybersecurity as a strategic issue that needs to be dealt with at the corporate level. The financial services sector years ago said, “OK, we can lose this amount of money through credit card fraud, and we can work within that.” Now the exposures are much more than that. It’s reputation, it’s government regulation, it’s customer confidence, and so a lot of attention is going into it.

Security & Privacy News Roundup: Stay informed of key patterns and trends

3C: Security vendors certainly are paying attention. There’s no shortage of clever technology to defend networks.

Schmidt: Yes, clearly. Every year at RSA and at Infosec Europe, I see products developed to react to what happened this past year or last week or last month, so you wind up in a situation where you are chasing the problem instead of developing systems to deal with those problems before they occur. For example, we have tremendous capabilities: intrusion detection, intrusion prevention, malware protection, breach detection, all those sort of things. They’ve been good, but they have not been as effective as we need them to be.

3C: Because they’re perimeter focused?

Schmidt: That’s correct, they’re all perimeter-based, so when somebody gets in and it looks like they should be inside, they can start doing … more