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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

GUEST ESSAY: The Top 5 myths about SIEM –‘security information and event management’

By Allie Mellen

One of the most commonly repeated phrases in the security industry is, “Security teams hate their SIEM!”

Related: The unfolding SIEM renaissance

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is not what it was 20 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, SIEMs do take work through deployment, maintenance, and tuning. They also require strategic planning. Yet, much to the chagrin of everyone who believed the vendor hype, they fail to provide the “single pane of glass” for all tasks in security operations promised so long ago.

With all that said, there are some aspects of the SIEM that have improved significantly over the past 20 years, despite a barrage of security marketing suggesting otherwise.

Further, there are innovations happening in the market today to bring forth a new era for the SIEM. This evolution is more aptly named security analytics platforms, which not only handle log ingestion and storage, but also more effectively address the detection and response use cases SOCs need.

Security analytics platforms combine SIEM, SOAR, and UEBA to cover the complete incident response lifecycle from detection, investigation, and response, in conjunction with other important use cases like compliance.

GUEST ESSAY: Top 5 cyber exposures tied to the rising use of international remote workforces

By April Miller

While every business needs to prioritize cybersecurity, doing so is becoming increasingly complicated. With many employees now working remotely, securing company data isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. Things get even more complicated if you have an international remote workforce.

Related: Employees as human sensors

As of 2018, more than 2 million people were working abroad for U.S. companies in China alone. Since then, as remote work has become more popular and accessible, that figure has likely only increased. International workforces can be an excellent way to find top talent, but they can introduce unique security risks.

Here are five unique cybersecurity challenges you should know about.

•Inconsistent data regulations. Countries have different data security laws, and these can get in the way of one another. For example, suppose you have workers in the EU. In that case, you must abide by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposes fines on some activities that are perfectly legal in the U.S.

Having workers in multiple countries with laws like this introduces further complications. For instance, if you have employees in China and the EU, you’ll have to obtain Chinese government approval to provide data from China to EU authorities enforcing the GDPR. These conflicts and inconsistencies can make it hard to create a cybersecurity program that abides by all relevant laws.

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

MY TAKE: What NortonLifeLock’s $8 billion buyout of Avast portends for consumer security

By Byron V. Acohido

So NortonLifeLock has acquired Avast for more than $8 billion.

This deal reads like to the epilogue to a book titled The First 20 Years of the Supremely Lucrative Antivirus Market. Way back in 1990, Symantec acquired Norton Utilities and made Norton the heart of its antivirus subscription offering.

Related: The coming of ubiquitous passwordless access

This was around the same time antivirus vendors like Trend Micro, McAfee, Kaspersky, ESET, Sophos, Bitdefender, Avira, AVG and Avast were staking out turf in what they saw, very accurately, as a profitable new software subscription market.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. Norton got ‘demergered’ from Symantec in 2014 and then acquired LifeLock for $2.3 billion in 2017; Avast acquired AVG  for $1.3 billion in 2016, for instance.

Meanwhile, native security is increasingly being built into popular operating systems, and there’s a trend toward beefing up application security, as well. These are eminently complex times. Companies are migrating to the cloud IT; consumers are working from home much more often.

NortonLifeLock and Avast appear to be betting on the next iteration of the huge and longstanding consumer antivirus market. Last Watchdog asked Forrester analyst Allie Mellen to connect the dots –- and clarify the significance — for individual consumers:

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.