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SHARED INTEL: How ‘observability’ has enabled deep monitoring of 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:

MY TAKE: Surfshark boosts ‘DIY security’ with its rollout of VPN-supplied antivirus protection

By Byron V. Acohido

Surfshark wants to help individual citizens take very direct control of their online privacy and security.

Thus, Surfshark has just become the first VPN provider to launch an antivirus solution as part of its all-in-one security bundle Surfshark One.

Related: Turning humans into malware detectors

This development is part and parcel of rising the trend of VPN providers hustling to deliver innovative “DIY security” services into the hands of individual consumers.

It’s notable that this is happening at a time when Microsoft, Apple and Google are going the opposite direction – by natively embedding more consumer-grade security services into their popular operating systems, like Windows, Mac, IoS and Android. And let’s not forget the longstanding, multi-billion market of antivirus software subscriptions directed at consumers.

The consumer anti-virus vendors have been generating massive subscription revenue for two decades; though this market is mature and in a consolidation phase, it is not going to disappear anytime soon, as suggested by  NortonLifeLock’s $8 billion buyout of Avast.

Last year I agreed to serve a one-year term on Surfshark’s advisory board. I accepted because I appreciated Surfshark’s emphasis on privacy and security — and saw it as a way to learn more about the consumer cybersecurity market.

GUEST ESSAY: Why it’s worrisome that China has integrated Huawei switches into telecoms worldwide

By Sarina Krantzler

In the previous discussion, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan was summarized to capture relevant aspects of dual circulation, the Digital Silk Road (DSR), and the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) that aim to advance China as an economic, technological, and foreign policy powerhouse.

Related: Part 1. China’s 5 year digital plans

Both of those initiatives are well-funded, thoughtful, and strategic in their attempts to spread influence and widespread dependency on Chinese products.

The first blog concluded with a strong message of encouragement for the U.S. to evolve its own creative cybersecurity strategy leveraging strategic goals with economics and public policy to create a sustainable, secure cyber system consistent with Western ethical standards, our free market philosophy, and our democratic traditions.

The FCC’s Rip and Replace Model was introduced, by title only, to provide a glimpse into how the U.S. should, and is beginning to, take action to counteract intrusive Chinese technology within our critical infrastructure. To understand our options in this fight, however, we first need to understand who we’re up against.

Huawei Technologies, or Huawei for short, is a Chinese telecommunications firm that has been fed tens of billions of dollars in financial assistance by the Chinese government on a scale of subsidization that dwarfs the next closest competitors’ monetary receipt. To fuel their rise to the top of the global telecommunications landscape, Huawei had access to as much as $75 billion in state support as it grew from a little-known vendor of phone switches to the world’s largest telecom equipment company (Wall Street Journal).

Subsidies aside, since 1998, Huawei has received an estimated $16 billion in loans, export credits, and other forms of financing from Chinese banks for the firms’ operations and customers.

As referenced in the previous blog, Brazil was originally firmly in opposition of adopting Huawei technology into their infrastructure until the country became desperate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

GUEST ESSAY: How China’s updated digital plans impacts U.S. security and diplomacy

By Sarina Krantzler

In May 2021, China unveiled their updated Five-Year Plan to the world. This plan marks the 14th edition of their socioeconomic, political, and long-range objectives, and has set the tone for a Chinese-dominated supply chain that will be accomplished using antitrust, intellectual property, and standards tools to promote industrial policies.

Their plan poses a grave threat to the US.

Related: Part 2. The danger posed by Huawei switches

Despite this threat, the United States currently does not possess a similar strategic plan to combat China’s advancements or create a sustainably secure cyber system.

China is developing a self-reliant domestic economy supported by a domestic cycle of production, distribution, and consumption. Strategic investments made on behalf of the Chinese government to the technology industry, in the form of annual 7% increases and billion-dollar loans, will move China closer to their goals of technological independence and global influence.

The external aspect of this strategy attempts to secure their supply chains against pressures from the United States.

This portion of the strategy is integrated with China’s largest foreign policy known as the “One Belt One Road Initiative” (BRI), which includes offering critical infrastructure investment to cash-strapped nations and has led to an increasingly complex and prevalent alliance between China and its homegrown internet companies in the construction of their “Digital Silk Road” (DSR).

Both the BRI and DSR initiatives have been strategically positioned to facilitate secure trade and gain initial global footholds to accomplish the “Made in China 2025” goal.

Enormous subsidization efforts by the Chinese government, as part of their BRI initiative, allow internet giants such as Huawei and ZTE to conduct sweeping internet infrastructure strategies to secure rights to provide to poor or developing nations. Those providers will be discussed in detail in the following blog.

By embedding Chinese infrastructure in networks around the world, the Chinese government could have the ability to access information traveling across these networks … more

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.