Home Podcasts Videos Guest Posts Q&A My Take Bio Contact
 

For technologists

 

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.

GUEST ESSAY: How to secure ‘Digital Twins’ to optimize asset use, while reducing exposures

By Claire Rutkowski

Our technological world is advancing at dizzying speeds.

Related: The coming of a ‘bio digital twin”

Over the last decade, we have seen the introduction of 4G and 5G telecommunication service, the iPad, Instagram, and the introduction, acceptance, and adoption of cloud services from Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, as well as cloud computing.

Add in an increasing focus on data becoming a crucial enterprise asset—as well as the introduction of countless database and analytical tools, digital twins, artificial intelligence, and machine learning—and we are dealing with unprecedented technical complexities and risk.

Digital twins are just one example of a complex system, but they expose companies to a lot of risk if they are not properly implemented with a cybersecurity plan in place. Digital twins are a digital representation of reality, either in physical or process form. For example, think of digital cities, or digital infrastructure assets.

Leveraging digital twins

One might operate a plant and then use the digital twin of that plant to plan maintenance and optimization and see what would happen before they execute in reality. Another example is a city using a digital twin so that they can model floods or earthquakes. Digital twins are incredibly useful.

Q&A: Here’s how the ‘Matter’ protocol will soon reduce vulnerabilities in smart home devices

By Byron V. Acohido

After years of competitive jockeying, the leading tech giants have agreed to embrace a brand new open-source standard – called Matter – that will allow consumers to mix and match smart home devices and platforms.

Related: The crucial role of ‘Digital Trust’

After numerous delays and course changes, the Matter protocol, is set to roll out this fall, in time for the 2022 holiday shopping season. To start, seven types of smart home devices will be capable of adopting the Matter protocol, and thus get affixed with a Matter logo.

Matter is intended to foster interoperability of smart home devices – so a homeowner can stick with just one voice assistance platform and have the freedom to choose from a wide selection of smart devices sporting the Matter logo.

What this boils down to is that a consumer living in a smart home filled with Matter devices would no longer be forced to use Amazon’s Alexa to control some devices, while having to switch to Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant or Samsung’s SmartThings to operate other devices. No surprise: Amazon, Google, Apple and Samsung are the biggest names on a list of 250 companies supporting the roll out of Matter.

The qualifying types of smart home devices, to start, include light bulbs and switches; smart plugs; smart locks; smart window coverings; garage door openers; thermostats; and HVAC controllers. If all goes smoothly, surveillance cams, smart doorbells and robot vacuums would soon follow.

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.)

GUEST ESSAY: How amplified DDoS attacks on Ukraine leverage Apple’s Remote Desktop protocol

By Paul Nicholson

Cyber-attacks continue to make headlines, and wreak havoc for organizations, with no sign of abating. Having spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, threats such as malware, ransomware, and DDoS attacks continue to accelerate.

Related: Apple tools abuse widespread

A10’s security research team recorded a significant spike in the number of potential DDoS weapons available for exploitation in 2021 and early 2022. The total number of DDoS weapons, which was previously recorded at 15 million, has grown by over 400,000 or 2.7 percent in a six-month period.

This includes a notable 2X increase in the number of obscure potential amplification weapons such as Apple Remote Desktop (ARD).

The war in Ukraine has seen likely state-sponsored attacks using these types of DDoS attacks. The Log4j vulnerability has predictably proved fertile ground for hackers as well, putting millions of systems at risk, with Russia accounting for more than 75 percent of Log4j scanners and helping drive. In this intensifying threat landscape, the urgency for modern DDoS defenses becomes clearer every day.

A new report by the A10 Networks security research team explores the global state of DDoS weapons and tactics. Key findings follow.

GUEST ESSAY: The case for physically destroying — and not just wiping clean — old hard drives

By Kyle Mitchell

Cybersecurity poses a risk to all businesses.

Related: Biden moves to protect critical infrastructure

Dataprot reports that 59 percent of Americans have experienced cybercrime in the past. An estimate stated that $6 trillion worth of damage was caused by cybercrime in 2022, making it vital for businesses to securely destroy data.

Deleting information from a hard disk drive (HDD) is not enough. Hackers can recover data from physical drives, even when the information has been removed. When businesses have spent years building trust with customers, it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect data and the brand’s reputation by destroying data effectively.

Limits to wiping

Deleting files isn’t enough to keep data safe. With the right tools, hackers can retrieve deleted files. Depending on the operating system, there may be built-in tools to erase data. This is a quick and convenient method but third-party utilities offer a greater level of security.

DBAN is a free tool but is limited in its abilities, as it only works on hard drives and not solid-state drives (SSD). Working independent of the operating system (OS), DBAN can wipe the entire machine. This is important for any businesses upgrading their hardware to new technology, as it allows for the safe transfer of data before it is removed from old machines.

Other tools, such as CCleaner, require an upgrade to the premium version in order to fully wipe data, and cannot wipe the drive hosting the OS as this is where it will be installed.

GUEST ESSAY: Advanced tools, tactics required to defend latest attack variant — ‘DeepSea phishing’

By Michael Aminov

Phishing itself is not a new or a particularly complicated threat. But the emergence of  advanced phishing techniques – “DeepSea Phishing” – poses an entirely new challenge for enterprises.

Related: Deploying human sensors

Phishing comes with a simple premise – lure someone to interact with a malicious link, file, or credentials-input, disguised as a legitimate email or website.

The financial impact of phishing attacks quadrupled over the past six years, with the average cost for U.S. companies rising to $14.8 million in 2021, compared with $3.8 million in 2015.

Despite increased public awareness of cybersecurity risks and safe browsing practices, the impact of phishing has increased exponentially – IBM’s 2021 Cost of Data Breach Report found phishing to be the second most expensive attack vector for enterprises.

Novel tactics

This is so, in part, because growing awareness has pushed hackers to create even more sophisticated means to plunder log-in information, or to lure employees to click on a malware-infected link – AKA next-gen, or “DeepSea” phishing.

These attacks use novel and rarely seen phishing techniques, often employing several layers of deception in parallel. Take this recent phishing attempt, which was identified by Perception Point’s Incident Response team: