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Steps forward

 

RSAC insights: Malware is now spreading via weaponized files circulating in data lakes, file shares

By Byron V. Acohido

The zero trust approach to enterprise security is well on its way to mainstream adoption. This is a very good thing.

Related: Covid 19 ruses used in email attacks

At RSA Conference 2022, which takes place this week (June 6 – 9) in San Francisco, advanced technologies to help companies implement zero trust principals will be in the spotlight. Lots of innovation has come down the pike with respect to imbuing zero trust into two pillars of security operations: connectivity and authentication.

However, there’s a third pillar of zero trust that hasn’t gotten quite as much attention: directly defending data itself, whether it be at the coding level or in business files circulating in a highly interconnected digital ecosystem. I had a chance to discuss the latter with Ravi Srinivasan, CEO of  Tel Aviv-based Votiro which launched in 2010 and has grown to  .

Votiro has established itself as a leading supplier of advanced technology to cleanse weaponized files. It started with cleansing attachments and weblinks sent via email and has expanded to sanitizing files flowing into data lakes and circulating in file shares. For a full drill down on our discussion, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are key takeaways.

RSAC insights: Software tampering escalates as bad actors take advantage of ‘dependency confusion’

By Byron V. Acohido

It’s not difficult to visualize how companies interconnecting to cloud resources at a breakneck pace contribute to the outward expansion of their networks’ attack surface.

Related: Why ‘SBOM’ is gaining traction

If that wasn’t bad enough, the attack surface companies must defend is expanding inwardly, as well – as software tampering at a deep level escalates.

The Solar Winds breach and the disclosure of the massive Log4J vulnerability have put company decision makers on high alert with respect to this freshly-minted exposure. Findings released this week by ReversingLabs show 87 percent of security and technology professionals view software tampering as a new breach vector of concern, yet only 37 percent say they have a way to detect it across their software supply chain.

I had a chance to discuss software tampering with Tomislav Pericin, co-founder and chief software architect of ReversingLabs, a Cambridge, MA-based vendor that helps companies granularly analyze their software code. For a full drill down on our discussion please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are the big takeaways:

‘Dependency confusion’

Much of the discussion at RSA Conference 2022, which convenes this week (June 6 – 9) in San Francisco, will boil down to slowing attack surface expansion. This now includes paying much closer attention to the elite threat actors who are moving inwardly to carve out fresh vectors taking them deep inside software coding.

The perpetrators of the Solar Winds breach, for instance, tampered with a build system of the widely-used Orion network management tool.

RSAC insights: How ‘TPRM’ can help shrink security skills gap — while protecting supply chains

By Byron V. Acohido

Third-Party Risk Management (TPRM) has been around since the mid-1990s – and has become something of an auditing nightmare.

Related: A call to share risk assessments

Big banks and insurance companies instilled the practice of requesting their third-party vendors to fill out increasingly bloated questionnaires, called bespoke assessments, which they then used as their sole basis for assessing third-party risk.

TPRM will be in the spotlight at the RSA Conference 2022 this week (June 6 -9) in San Francisco. This is because third-party risk has become a huge problem for enterprises in the digital age. More so than ever, enterprises need to move beyond check-the-box risk assessments; there’s a clear and present need to proactively mitigate third-party risks.

The good news is that TPRM solution providers are innovating to meet this need, as will be showcased at RSA. One leading provider is Denver, Colo.-based CyberGRX. I had the chance to sit down with their CISO, Dave Stapleton, to learn more about the latest advancements in TPRM security solutions. For a full drill down of our discussion, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are key takeaways:

Smoothing audits

CyberGRX launched in 2016 precisely because bespoke assessments had become untenable. Questionnaires weren’t standardized, filling them out and collecting them had become a huge burden, and any truly useful analytics just never happened.

“Sometimes you’d get a 500-question questionnaire and that would be one out of 5,000 you’d get over the course of a year,” Stapleton says, referring to a scenario that a large payroll processing company had to deal with.

RSAC insights: ‘SaaS security posture management’ — SSPM — has emerged as a networking must-have

By Byron V. Acohido

Companies have come to depend on Software as a Service – SaaS — like never before.

Related: Managed security services catch on

From Office 365 to Zoom to Salesforce.com, cloud-hosted software applications have come to make up the nerve center of daily business activity. Companies now reach for SaaS apps for clerical chores, conferencing, customer relationship management, human resources, salesforce automation, supply chain management, web content creation and much more, even security.

This development has intensified the pressure on companies to fully engage in the “shared responsibility” model of cybersecurity, a topic in that will be in the limelight at RSA Conference 2022 this week (June 6 -9) in San Francisco.

I visited with Maor Bin, co-founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based Adaptive Shield, a pioneer in a new security discipline referred to as SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM.) SSPM is part of emerging class of security tools that are being ramped up to help companies dial-in SaaS security settings as they should have started doing long ago.

This fix is just getting under way. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are the key takeaways:

Shrugging off security

A sharp line got drawn in the sand, some years ago, when Amazon Web Services (AWS) took the lead in championing the shared responsibility security model.

To accelerate cloud migration, AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud guaranteed that the hosted IT infrastructure they sought to rent to enterprises would be security-hardened – at least on their end.

RSAC insights: Concentric AI directs Google’s search techniques towards locking down data sprawl

By Byron V. Acohido

In order to extract value from the Internet, data sprawl first must get reined in. This has always been the case.

Related: Equipping SOCs for the long haul

What good is connecting applications, servers and networks across the public cloud if you’re unable to securely operationalize the datasets that these interconnected systems store and access?

Solving data sprawl has now become a focal point of cybersecurity. It’s about time. Much of the buzz as RSA Conference 2022 happens this week (June 6 – 9)in San Francisco will be around innovations to help companies make sense of data as it gets increasingly dispersed to far-flung pockets of the public cloud.

I had the chance to visit with Karthik Krishnan, CEO of San Jose, Calif.-based Concentric AI, which is in the thick of this development. Concentric got its start in 2018 to help companies solve data sprawl — from the data security and governance perspective – and has grown to 50 employees, with $22 million in venture capital backing. For a full drill down of our discussion, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are a few key takeaways.

Crawling, classifying

Jeff Bezos solved data sprawl for selling books and gave us Amazon. Larry Page and Sergey Brin solved data sprawl for generalized information lookups and gave us Google.

In much the same sense, companies must now solve data sprawl associated with moving to an increasingly interconnected digital ecosystem. And addressing data security has become paramount.

RSAC insights: Why vulnerability management absolutely must shift to a risk-assessment approach

By Byron V. Acohido

Vulnerability management, or VM, has long been an essential, if decidedly mundane, component of network security.

Related: Log4J’s long-run risks

That’s changing — dramatically. Advanced VM tools and practices are rapidly emerging to help companies mitigate a sprawling array of security flaws spinning out of digital transformation.

I visited with Scott Kuffer, co-founder and chief operating officer of Sarasota, FL-based Nucleus Security, which is in the thick of this development. Nucleus launched in 2018 and has grown to over 50 employees. It supplies a unified vulnerability and risk management solution that automates vulnerability management processes and workflows.

We discussed why VM has become acutely problematic yet remains something that’s vital for companies to figure out how to do well, now more so than ever. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. Here are the key takeaways:

GUEST ESSAY: Deploying ‘XDR’ can help companies avoid the security ‘vendor-silo’ trap

By Christian Espinosa

According to recent data from Oracle and KPMG, organizations today employ over 100 cybersecurity products to secure their environments. These products play essential roles in detecting and preventing threats.

Related: Taking a ‘risk-base’ approach to security compliance

However, because they generate thousands of alerts every day, this vast sprawl of security sources adds even more work to already over-stretched security teams. It could create a cybersecurity ticking time bomb.

Many organizations have recently undertaken rapid digital transformations in response to the ongoing pandemic and a societal shift toward a “work from anywhere” future. This hybrid model has created exciting opportunities for employees and organizations and significantly raised the security stakes.

Most combine the cloud, Office 365, and Active Directory to store and transfer sensitive corporate data, and they need security solutions to protect their entire environment as it grows and evolves. The once “protective perimeter” surrounding enterprise IT has dissolved, transforming it from a closed environment into one that spans far and wide with copious entry points.

To address this security challenge, organizations are deploying more security products today. This seems to be creating new problems in vendor sprawl, further burdening security teams with more to do. The challenge is that disparate vendors do not represent data in the same way, so there is no correlation between dashboards and metrics.

When organizations have two or three security platforms protecting their environment, security teams must toggle between them and make sense of disparate data sets. This often results in a lack of clarity, inhibiting them from seeing the big picture of what is really happening in their security environment. This is why cyber gangs tend to favor layered attacks. They’re harder to identify across disparate security data sets.