Cybersecurity trends sound scary when you hear us talk about some of this stuff.  Cyberscary is actually what we decided to call it.  The good news is we do talk about other things sometimes. There are two reports that came out in recent weeks have gotten my attention and just have to be discussed with you guys.  We cover these reports along with the OCR’s January 2018 newsletter on Cyber Extortion in this episode.

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In this episode:

Cyberscary Trends – Ep 148

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Cyberscary Trends

In the OCR January newsletter, they discussed rising incidents of cyber extortion.  They point out this goes beyond a ransomware attack to include things like blackmailing you to keep it quiet that you have been hacked.  Talking to you Uber.

Another attack tied to extortion is called DoS or DDoS.  Basically, the attacker turns thousands of requests towards your specific connections to the internet and overwhelms the connection so that it doesn’t work at all.  There is a story out of MN where an ex-employee actually hired hackers to do one of these attacks against their former employers.

The OCR newsletter is educating us on how many different ways extortion attempts are playing out these days.  Yes, that is concerning when you see that list expanding.  As we have said many times, healthcare if very vulnerable and the criminals have figured that out.  Once they determine your business has weak protections and valuable information they don’t care what kind of business you run, they want your money.

When CISCO published their 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report in Feb the OCR information seemed to calm in comparison.  Another research report from Ponemon Institute sponsored by Raytheon came out in Feb.  This one is the 2018 Study On Global Megatrends In Cybersecurity.  Between these three documents, there is enough to make some folks ready to move out into the forests and sign up for an episode of living off the grid on HGTV.

First, let’s review the summary of the CISCO report.  

They are urging organizations to pay attention to what is going on out there.  In fact, they say specifically:

…by dismissing what seem like distant campaigns, or allowing the chaos of daily skirmishes with attackers to consume their attention, defenders fail to recognize the speed and scale at which adversaries are amassing and refining their cyber weaponry.

According to their study over the last 12 to 18 months, there are three general themes.

  1. Adversaries are taking malware to unprecedented levels of sophistication and impact.
  2. Adversaries are becoming more adept at evasion and weaponizing cloud services and other technology used for legitimate purposes.
  3. Adversaries are exploiting undefended gaps in security, many of which stem from the expanding Internet of Things (IoT) and use of cloud services.

Basically, they are saying the tools or weapons used by the bad guys are developing exponentially in sophistication and the ability to do serious damage without a person being involved in launching the attacks.  Plus, they are finding ways to hide their nefarious activity within legitimate activity on the internet and your network.  All of that doesn’t even take into account the fact that millions of new devices are connecting to networks around the world (IoT) with little or no security in place.  Those devices are rolling out quickly and no one seems to care about securing them at all.

Next the high points of the Ponemon report.

They, too, point out there are differences in perception since the 2015 study they did like this one and lots of changes in the landscape as well.  Here are their seven global megatrends that they say are “problematic for the state of cybersecurity over the next three years”.

  1. A data breach from an unsecured Internet of Things (IoT) device in the workplace is predicted to be very likely over the next three years.
  2. The risk of cyber extortion and data breaches will increase in frequency.
  3. IT security practitioners are more pessimistic about their ability to protect their organizations from cyber threats.
  4. Cyber warfare and breaches involving high-value information will have the greatest negative impact on organizations over the next three years.
  5. Despite the growing cyber threat, cybersecurity is not considered a strategic priority.
  6. Boards of directors are not engaged in the oversight of their organization’s cybersecurity strategy.
  7. Companies will have to spend more to achieve regulatory compliance and respond to class action lawsuits and tort litigation.

After this list, they do add that some things will get better over the next three years.  Sort of.

  • As the threat landscape worsens, organizations will increasingly rely upon the expertise of the CISO.
  • Cybersecurity governance practices are expected to improve.
  • Many respondents are optimistic they will be promoted to a better position with greater authority and responsibility. (Cybersecurity folks have plans to stick around and help protect their organizations.)
  • Companies will invest in enabling security technologies and managed security service providers as part of their cybersecurity strategy.
  • Companies are expected to improve collaboration and reduce the complexity of business and IT operations.

What they all keep telling us is that the attackers are getting better at what they are doing.  In reality, we are just starting to see the capabilities expand as these networks of criminals and attackers build on their experience and buy more tools and capabilities with the billions they have made over the last few years.  They are investing in their businesses while it appears their targets competing for the title of Queen of Denial.

Other information noted in cool charts and graphs. 



Source: Ponemon Institute Research Report, 2018 Cyber Megatrends




Source: Ponemon Institute Research Report, 2018 Cyber Megatrends


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We have discussed these issues so many times one would think we are tired of it.  I just don’t think we have the luxury of getting tired of it since our intent is to help people prevent or mitigate these things.  There has to be a point when everyone in charge will be forced to pay attention.  I can only hope that happens before they suffer some catastrophic losses or damages due to these trends and predictions.

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