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GUEST ESSAY: A primer on content management systems (CMS) — and how to secure them

By Sebastian Gierlinger

You very likely will interact with a content management system (CMS) multiple times today.

Related: How ‘business logic’ hackers steal from companies

For instance, the The Last Watchdog article you are reading uses a CMS to store posts, display them in an attractive manner, and provide search capabilities. Wikipedia uses a CMS for textual entries, blog posts, images, photographs, videos, charts, graphics, and “talk pages” that help its many contributors collaborate.

Chances are strong that your corporate website uses a CMS, and perhaps you have a separate CMS for documents and other files shared by your employees, partners, and suppliers.

Security is essential for a CMS. That’s obviously true if the content in that system requires some level of privacy and access control for internal use, such as for legal documents, customer contracts, and other assets. Security is also necessary if your retrieval system (such as a website or mobile app) has a paywall or is restricted to only a subset of people, such as customers or resellers.

What about public information? Even if you give your content away, you don’t want to allow unauthorized people to add, delete, or tamper with your files.

GUEST ESSAY: The many ways your supply chain is exposing your company to a cyber attack

By Josel Lorenzo

It’s a scenario executives know too well.

Related: Third-party audits can hold valuable intel

You and your cybersecurity team do everything correctly to safeguard your infrastructure, yet the frightening alert still arrives that you’ve suffered a data breach.

It’s a maddening situation that occurs far more often than it should.

One of the main culprits for these incredibly frustrating attacks has not so much to do with how a team functions or the protocols a company employs, but instead, it’s a procurement issue that results from supply-chain shortcomings and the hard-to-detect vulnerabilities layered into a particular device.

“The same technologies that make supply chains faster and more effective also threaten their cybersecurity,” writes David Lukic, a privacy, security, and compliance consultant. “Supply chains have vulnerabilities at touchpoints with manufacturers, suppliers, and other service providers.”

The inherent complexity of the supply chain for modern technology is a reason why so many cybercrime attempts have been successful. Before a device reaches the end user, multiple stakeholders have contributed to it or handled it.

GUEST ESSAY: Rising global tensions put us a few lines of code away from a significant cyber event

By Emil Sayegh

Reflecting on the threats and targets that we are most concerned with given the Russia-Ukraine war, cybersecurity is now the front line of our country’s wellbeing. Cyber threats endanger businesses and individuals — they can affect supply chains, cause power grid failures, and much more.

Related: Reaction to Biden’s cybersecurity order

This growing environment of risks and increasingly aggressive adversaries demand our readiness, yet our national response continues to be largely reactive to threat conditions. History shows how a small event built on daisy-chained circumstances can kick off a catastrophe, or even a shooting war.

As the war in Ukraine endures and as countries around the world align, a rising threat emerges from Russian sources, adversarial states, unscrupulous opportunists, and a shadow world of 5th column provocateurs. An 800% increase in activities was observed in the first 48 hours of the invasion alone, and scanning and probes on domestic network infrastructures are reaching historic highs.

Cyber vs kinetic warfare

This is a heightened condition of hostilities that will continue and extend beyond physical engagements. We must confront the fact that globally sourced cyberattacks are the essence of modern warfare. It is simpler, cheaper, and more impactful to run a cyberattack campaign than a traditional kinetic act of war.

GUEST ESSAY: Best practices checklists each individual computer user still needs to follow

By Peter Stelzhammer

In the days of non-stop attacks on personal and work devices, the common day consumer wouldn’t know where to begin in order to protect their devices.

Related: Apple’s privacy stance questioned

The rise of attacks is unavoidable and with the everyday announcement of a new strain of malware, ransomware and now data wipers, consumers find themselves asking: where do I start? How do I do this?

Whether you are focused on your home computer, work laptop or business operating system as a whole, it’s important to learn the key steps you can take to ensure your defenses are active and up to date.

Update checklist

•Use and keep your security software (i.e. anti-virus program) up to date and turned on. Many users switch off their real-time protection to gain some speed, but safety should come before. We strongly recommend making sure that you use the latest version of the anti-virus software, and for that matter of any software that you are using on your computer. Newest versions come with improved and additional features to enhance software capability.

•Keep your firewall turned on. Software based firewalls are widely recommended for single computers, while hardware firewalls are typically provided with routers for networks. Some operating systems provide native software firewalls (such as Windows OS). For Microsoft Windows home users we recommend using the firewall in its default settings.

GUEST ESSAY: Leveraging ‘zero trust’ and ‘remote access’ strategies to mitigate ransomware risks

By Den Jones

Ransomware? I think you may have heard of it, isn’t the news full of it? Well, the stats are even scarier with over 50% increase in ransomware attacks in 2021, compared to 2020.

Related: Make it costly for cybercriminals

The media paid close attention to ransomware attacks last year, as they had a significant impact on Colonial Pipeline, the nation’s largest fuel distributor, and JBS, the nation’s largest meat distributor. In fact, Colonial Pipeline shut down, causing major problems at the gas pumps for days.

When these ransomware attacks occurred, RiskyBiz podcast host Patrick Grey commented that the U.S. would respond: “Don’t take away our gas or burgers.” What an outstanding response! And, he’s not wrong. When supply chain attacks start impacting everyone’s daily life, it becomes very real for us all.

Ransomware is likely going to be here for years to come. It’s such a big industry that Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) actually offers criminals customer service and tech support. This means it’s now a commoditized industry leveraging backend services and capabilities all built for scale.

Best practices

Let’s walk through some practical steps organizations can take today, implementing zero trust and remote access strategies to help reduce ransomware risks:

•Obvious, but difficult – get end users to stop clicking unknown links and visiting random websites that they know little about, an educational challenge. As an enterprise security team, you could restrict internet access at your egress points, but this doesn’t do much when the workforce is remote.

GUEST ESSAY: A primer on Biden’s moves to protect U.S. water facilities from cyber attacks

By Ilan Barda

Potable water and wastewater management is a top priority for cybersecurity professionals and the Biden administration alike. With new regulations and funding, companies must find the best way to implement and manage cybersecurity to protect these systems.

Related: Keeping critical systems patched

As the US federal government begins to put its eye on securing more of its infrastructure against the rising risk of large-scale cybersecurity attacks, a late January statement from the White House has put its eye on securing water facilities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Water Sector Coordinating Council and Water Government Coordinating Council (WSCC/GCC), are taking part in President Biden’s Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Initiative. This is part of National Security Memorandum 5, Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems.

GUEST ESSAY: Why automating distribution of strong passwords to employees is wise to do

By Julia O’Toole

Passwords have become ubiquitous with digital. Yet most people don’t know how to use them properly. The humble password is nothing more than a digital key that opens a door.

Related: The coming of passwordless access

People use keys to open their house, office, garage or car. And they use passwords to open a device, a system, an account, a file and so on.

But the similarities stop here. In the physical world, people are not required to make their own keys; keys are given to them by a landlord, a locksmith, or an employer. Whereas in the digital world, people are required to make their own passwords, which they then have to remember and type every time.

Which begs the question: why do people create their own passwords? In truth they don’t need to. Just as they don’t need to hammer their own keys. All they need is to receive, retrieve and use them.

Cybersecurity’s blindspot

This misunderstanding has real implications for companies as it takes away their ability to be cybersecure. From the moment companies let their employees create their own passwords, they transfer their network command and control, financial risks and liabilities to their employees.