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MY TAKE: Account hijackers follow small banks, credit unions over to mobile banking apps

By Byron V. Acohido

As long as cyber attacks continue, financial institutions will remain a prime target, for obvious reasons.

Related: OneSpan’s rebranding launch

Outside of giants JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp, the remainder of the more than 10,000 U.S. firms are comprised of community banks and regional credit unions.

These smaller institutions, much like the giants, are hustling to expand mobile banking services. Yet, they are much less well equipped to detect and repel cyber attackers, who are relentlessly seeking out and exploiting the fresh attack vectors spinning out of expansion of mobile banking.

I had the chance at RSA 2019 to discuss this war of attrition with Will LaSala, director of security services and security evangelist at OneSpan, a Chicago-based provider of anti-fraud, e-signature and digital identity solutions to 2,000 banks worldwide. The good news is that OneSpan and other security vendors are innovating to bring machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence to the front lines. For a drill down on our conversation, give a listen to the accompanying podcast. Key takeaways:

Shifting risks

We’ve seen a shift in bank fraud, especially for small banks and credit unions, over the past couple of years. In the not-so-distant past, banks dealt with online and account takeover fraud, where hackers stole passwords and used phishing scams to target specific individuals.

Now this fraud has moved into the mobile space because nearly every financial institution now has an app, changing the fraud landscape. Organizations like OneSpan now analyze bank fraud through the mobile app landscape through areas like social engineering attacks, screen captures, or changing SIM cards, LaSala told me. …more

MY TAKE: What ‘fake news’ really is: digital disinformation intended to disrupt, manipulate

By Byron V. Acohido

President Trump’s constant mislabeling of mainstream news reports he doesn’t appreciate as “fake news” has done much to muddle the accurate definition of this profound global force – and obscure the societal damage this rising phenomenon is precipitating.

Related: The scourge of ‘malvertising’

Fake news is the willful spreading of disinformation. Yes, much of political propaganda, as practiced down through the ages, fits that definition. But what’s different, as we approach the close of the second decade of the 21st century, is that it is now possible to pull the trigger on highly-targeted, globally-distributed disinformation campaigns – by leveraging behavior profiling tools and social media platforms.

Like seemingly everything else these days, this is a complex issue, and it takes effort to decipher the bottom line. Here are three things it is vital for every concerned citizen to grasp about disinformation campaigns in the digital age.

Fake news is scaling.

There are plenty of factual articles  about how “fake news” influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential election. What many citizens still don’t realize is that this was just one of the major elections jarred by this potent variant of disinformation spreading. This includes England’s Brexit vote and very recent cases in Brazil and India, where disinformation campaigns fueled some tragic outcomes.

In the 2016 US elections, Russia targeted Facebook users to receive incendiary ads and bogus stories, and used botnets to facilitate intelligence gathering and distribution. And human  “supersharers” – mostly Republican women older than the average Twitter user – got into the act, as well, Tweeting stories from ideological websites at a furious daily pace, according to a study by Northeastern University in Boston.

Meanwhile, in January 2016, during the heat of the presidential contest, some 39 percent Trump’s Twitter followers were faked.  A tally by Twitter Audit showed Candidate Trump with 22.7 million Twitter followers – 16.6 million real, and 6.1 million fabricated.

Fast forward to Brazil’s presidential election last October. WhatsApp was flooded with fake news about both of the leading candidates. And in India’s national elections, which are underway right now, disinformation has stoked emotions tied to India’s conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir. …more

MY TAKE: How ‘CASBs’ are evolving to close the security gaps arising from digital transformation

By Byron V. Acohido

The Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) space is maturing to keep pace with digital transformation.

Related: CASBs needed now, more than ever

Caz-bees first took shape as a cottage industry circa 2013 to 2014 in response to a cry for help from companies reeling from new Shadow IT exposures: the risk created by early-adopter employees, quite often the CEO, insisting on using the latest smartphone and Software-as-a-Services tools, without any shred of security vetting.

A wave of acquisitions absorbed a half-dozen early CASB startups. One company still actively innovating as an independent CASB is San Jose, CA-based security vendor CipherCloud. I had the chance to visit with CipherCloud CTO Sundaram Lakshmanan at RSA 2019.

We discussed how the basic notion of flowing all data coming into a company’s network — from whatever device or web app — through a cloud gateway for security scanning has become elemental. For a full drill down, give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are the key takeaways:

Shifting role

As with almost any security solution, the bottom line for CASBs is all about protecting the data — without detracting from users’ experience, and thus eroding productivity.  This is especially important within the cloud. CASBs began by closing glaring security gaps created by the rapid  adoption of mobile devices and cloud tools. Quite naturally, that role is now shifting and expanding.

Now that CASBs have been around for half a decade, companies are figuring out how to utilize them to reinforce specific silos within their IT and security teams. More enterprises are rethinking their internal processes, seeking a more centralized, convenient approach to securing web apps, Lakshmanan told me.

“At the end of the day, it is about business productivity and helping users get their job done,” he said. Enterprises are starting to understand that as they pursue velocity and scale, …more

NEW TECH: CloudKnox takes aim at securing identity privileges for humans — and non-humans

By Byron V. Acohido

Companies are embracing hybrid cloud deployments like never before, mixing and matching on-premises IT systems with off-premises cloud services.

Related: Machine identities present wide open attack vector

To accomplish this, they must grant and manage access privileges to human identities: remote employees, third-party suppliers and far-flung customers.

Arguably even more vital is the granting of access privileges to thousands more non-human identities – the service accounts that connect modular coding components, like the microservices, software containers and APIs that make up the stretchable fabric of cloud services.

Without this provisioning of access privileges to human and non-human identities, hybrid cloud commerce  would not be possible. And yet, somehow, hybrid deployments have gained wide adoption without fully accounting for an entire new tier of identity risks.

This exposure extends from companies losing track of identities and overprovisioning privileges.  CloudKnox Security, a Sunnyvale, CA-based security vendor, launched last October, specifically to help companies more effectively manage human and non-human identity privileges in the brave new world of hybrid networks.

I had a chance at RSA 2019 to visit with company founder and CEO Balaji Parimi. For a drill down, give a listen to our full interview via the accompanying podcast. A few key takeaways:

Multiplying privileges

Remember the old problem of Microsoft shipping Windows server software with weak administrator passwords as the default? Take that systemic security weakness, put it on steroids, and you get a sense of the exposure lurking in identities today.

For instance, on the human side of things, Parimi informed me that there are 7,800 distinct privileges, or unique actions—granted to administrators across Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and VMware vSphere.

And then there are magnitudes of order more non-human identities to worry about. “With DevOps, when you check-in your code, it automatically gets built and created into production. All of this is done with a service account, …more

BEST PRACTICES: Rising complexities of provisioning identities has pushed ‘IGA’ to the fore

Identity governance and administration, or IGA, has suddenly become a front-burner matter at many enterprises.

Related: Identity governance issues in the age of digital transformation

This is, in large part, because the complexity of business networks continues to escalate at a time when compliance mandates are intensifying. I had the chance at RSA 2019 to visit with Mike Kiser, global strategist at SailPoint, an Austin, TX-based supplier of IGA services to discuss this.

SailPoint, which went public in November 2017, has grown to more than 1000 employees in 30 locations. Its customer base is comprised of eight of the top 15 banks, four of the top six healthcare insurance and managed care providers, nine of the top 15 property and casualty insurance providers, five of the top 13 pharmaceutical companies, and 11 of the largest 15 federal agencies.

The identity challenges these large organizations are wrestling with can be instructive to organizations of all sizes and in all verticals – any entity that is participating in the global supply chain. For a full drill down of our conversation, give a listen to the accompanying podcast. Here are a few of the key takeaways:

Identity’s moment

Traditional concepts of putting up perimeter defenses to protect on-premise systems have gone out the window. Companies today routinely use a combination of on-premise and cloud-supplied infrastructure. Meanwhile, employees, partners, suppliers and customers are using their smartphones to gain access.

In this digitally transformed environment, maintaining perimeter defenses still has a place. Yet,  most breaches today can be traced back to a compromised identity, or misuse of an authorized identity. …more

NEW TECH: Cequence Security deploys defense against botnets’ assault on business logic

By Byron V. Acohido

One way to grasp how digital transformation directly impacts the daily operations of any organization – right at this moment —  is to examine the company’s application environment.

Related: How new exposures being created by API sprawl

Pick any company in any vertical – financial services, government, defense, manufacturing, insurance, healthcare, retailing, travel and hospitality – and you’ll find employees, partners, third-party suppliers and customers all demanding remote access to an expanding menu of apps — using their smartphones and laptops.

This translates into a sprawling attack surface available to determined, well-funded threat actors. I had the chance at RSA 2019 to visit with Larry Link, CEO of Cequence Security, a Sunnyvale, CA-based startup that has secured $30 million in venture funding to help companies address this exposure.

Cequence’s technology detects and repels bot attacks designed to manipulate business logic. Such attacks can create or takeover accounts, detonate reputation bombs, scrape content, deny inventory and carry out extortion variants. For a full drill down on our discussion, give a listen to the accompanying podcast. Here are the big takeaways:

Hyper-connectivity

We live, work and play in a hyper-connected environment. Because we are constantly switched on and tuned in, organizations are now being forced by their customers to provide a much broader suite of access points into their application environment. Customers are all demanding access and requiring access from all of their devices, new and old.

Take the airline industry as an example. A decade ago, purchasing an airline ticket online was straight forward. You found the flight you wanted, …more

Cloud computing 101: basic types and business advantages of cloud-delivered services

By Mike James

If you are looking for a simpler method of managing issues such as storage, software, servers and database, cloud computing could have the answers that your business needs. The cloud is becoming increasingly popular around the world, as organisations are starting to understand the organisational and cost benefits to using them.

Related: Using a ‘zero-trust’ managed security service

In this article we will take a look at the different types of cloud computing services available to see whether this might be something suitable for your business.

Four types

Before you can establish whether or not cloud computing is right for your business, it is necessary to understand the differences between the forms of cloud computing that are available to you. Known by the …more