Details Of What’s New In Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Endpoint Security, 2020
Five technologies are on the Hype Cycle for the first time reflecting remote working’s rapid growth and the growing severity and sophistication of endpoint attacks. Unified Endpoint Security, Extended Detection and Response, Business E-Mail Compromise Protection, BYOPC Security and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) are the five technologies added this year. Many organizations are grappling with how to equip their remote workforces with systems, devices and smartphones, with many reverting to have employees use their own. Bring your PC (BYOPC) has become so dominant so fast that Gartner replaced BYOD on this year’s Hype Cycle with the new term. Gartner sees BYOPC as one of the most vulnerable threat surfaces every business has today. Employees’ devices accessing valuable data and applications continues to accelerate without safeguards in place across many organizations.
Extended detection and response (XDR) are on the Hype Cycle for the first time, reflecting the trend of vendor consolidation across cybersecurity spending today. Gartner defines XDR as a vendor-specific, threat detection and incident response tool that unifies multiple security products into a security operations system. XDR and its potential to reduce the total cost and complexity of cybersecurity infrastructures is a dominant theme throughout this year’s Hype Cycle. XDR vendors are claiming that their integrated portfolios of detection and response applications deliver greater accuracy and prevention than stand-alone systems, driving down Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and increasing productivity. Key vendors in XDR include Cisco, FireEye, Fortinet, McAfee, Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks, Sophos, Symantec and Trend Micro.
Business email compromise (BEC) protection is on the Hype Cycle for the first time this year. Phishing attacks cost businesses $1.8B in 2019, according to the FBI, underscoring the need for better security in the area of business email. Gartner defines business email compromise (BEC) protection as a series of solutions that detect and filter malicious emails that fraudulently impersonate business associates to misdirect funds or data. There have been many instances of business email compromise attacks focused on C-level executives, hoping that a fraudulent directive from them to subordinates leads to thousands of dollars being transferred to outside accounts or being sent in gift cards. Gartner found that fraudulent invoices accounted for 39% of such attacks in 2018, posing an internal risk to organizations and reputation risk.
Unified Endpoint Security (UES) is being driven by IT organizations’ demand for having a single security console for all security events. Gartner notes that successful vendors in UES will be those that can demonstrate significant productivity gains from the integration of security and operations and those that can rapidly process large amounts of data to detect previously unknown threats. CIOs and CISOs are looking for a way to integrate UES and Unified Endpoint Management (UEM), so their teams can have a single, comprehensive real-time console of all devices that provides alerts of any security events. The goal is to adjust security policies across all devices. Absolute’s approach to leveraging their unique persistence, resilience and intelligence capabilities are worth watching. Their approach delivers unified endpoint security by relying on their Endpoint Resilience platform that includes a permanent digital tether to every endpoint in the enterprise. By having an undeletable digital thread to every device, Absolute is enabling self-healing, greater visibility and control. Based on conversations with their customers in Education and Healthcare, Absolute’s unique approach gives IT complete visibility into where every device is at all times and what each device configuration looks like in real-time.
Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) is expanding rapidly beyond managing PCs and mobile devices to provide greater insights from endpoint analytics and deeper integration Identity and Access Management. Gartner notes interest in UEM remains strong and use-case-driven across their client base. UEM’s many benefits, including streamlining continuous OS updates across multiple mobile platforms, enabling device management regardless of the connection and having an architecture capable of supporting a wide range of devices and operating systems are why enterprises are looking to expand their adoption of UEM. Another major benefit enterprises mention is automating Internet-based patching, policy, configuration management. UEM leaders include MobileIron, whose platform reflects industry leadership with its advanced unified endpoint management (UEM) capabilities. MobileIron provides customers with additional security solutions integrated to their UEM platform, including passwordless multi-factor authentication (Zero Sign-On) and mobile threat defense (MTD). MTD is noteworthy for its success at MobileIron customers who need to validate devices at scale, establish user context, verify network connections, then detect and remediate threats.
Gartner says ten technologies were either removed or replaced in the Hype Cycle because they’ve evolved into features of broader technologies or have developed into tools that address more than security. The ten technologies include protected browsers, DLP for mobile devices, managed detection and response, user and entity behavior analytics, IoT security, content collaboration platforms, mobile identity, user authentication, trusted environments and BYOD being replaced by BYOPC.
Bottom Line: Redefining the future of fraud prevention starts by turning trust into an accelerator across every aspect of customer lifecycles, basing transactions on identity trust that leads to less friction and improved customer experiences.
Start By Turning Trust Into A Sales & Customer Experience Accelerator
AI and machine learning are proving to be very effective at finding anomalies in transactions and scoring, which are potentially the most fraudulent. Any suspicious transaction attempt leads to more work for buying customers to prove they are trustworthy. For banks, e-commerce sites, financial institutes, restaurants, retailers and many other online businesses, this regularly causes them to lose customers when a legitimate purchase is being made, and trusted customer is asked to verify their identity. Or worse, a false positive that turns away a good customer all together damages both that experience and brand reputation.
There’s a better way to solve the dilemma of deciding which transactions to accept or not. And it needs to start with finding a new way to establish identity trust so businesses can deliver better user experiences. Kount’s approach of using their Real-Time Identity Trust Network to calculate Identity Trust Levels in milliseconds reduces friction, blocks fraud, and delivers an improved user experience. Kount is capitalizing on their database that includes more than a decade of trust and fraud signals built across industries, geographies, and 32 billion annual interactions, combined with expertise in AI and machine learning to turn trust into a sales and customer experience multiplier.
How Real-Time AI Linking Leads To Real-Time Identity Trust Decisions
Design In Identity Trust So It’s The Foundation of Customer Experience
From an engineering and product design standpoint, the majority of fraud prevention providers are looking to make incremental gains in risk scoring to improve customer experiences. None, with the exception of Kount, are looking at the problem from a completely different perspective, which is how to quantify and scale identity trust. Kount’s engineering, product development, and product management teams are concentrating on how to use their AI and machine learning expertise to quantify real-time identity trust scores that drive better customer experiences across the spectrum of trust. The graphic below illustrates how Kount defines more personalized user experiences, which is indispensable in turning trust into an accelerator.
An Overview of Kount’s Technology Stack
Realize Trust Is the Most Powerful Revenue Multiplier There Is
Based on my conversations with several fraud prevention providers, they all agree that trust is the most powerful accelerator there is to reducing false positives, friction in transactions, and improving customer experiences. They all agree trust is the most powerful revenue multiplier they can deliver to their customers, helping them reduce fraud and increase sales. The challenge they all face is quantifying identity trust across the wide spectrum of transactions their customers need to fulfill every day.
Kount has taken a unique approach to identity trust that puts the customer at the center of the transactions, not just their transactions’ risk score. By capitalizing on the insights gained from their Identity Trust Global Network, Kount can use AI and machine learning algorithms to deliver personalized responses to transaction requests in milliseconds. Using both unsupervised and supervised machine learning algorithms and techniques, Kount can learn from every customer interaction, gaining new insights into how to fine-tune identity trust for every customer’s transaction.
In choosing to go in the direction of identity trust in its product strategy, Kount put user experiences at the core of their platform strategy. By combining adaptive fraud protection, personalized user experience, and advanced analytics, Kount can create a continuously learning system with the goal of fine-tuning identity trust for every transaction their customers receive. The following graphic explains their approach for bringing identity trust into the center of their platform:
Putting Customers & Their Experiences First Is Integral To Succeeding With Identity Trust
Improving customer experiences needs to be the cornerstone that drives all fraud prevention product and services road maps in 2020 and beyond. And while all fraud prevention providers are looking at how to reduce friction and improve customer experiences with fraud scoring AI-based techniques, their architectures and approaches aren’t going in the direction of identity trust. Kount’s approach is, and it’s noteworthy because it puts customer experiences at the center of their platform. How to redefine the future of fraud prevention needs to start by turning trust into a sales and customer experience accelerator, followed by designing in identity trust. Hence, it’s the foundation of all customer experiences. By combining the power of networked data and adaptive AI and machine learning, more digital businesses can turn trust into a revenue and customer experience multiplier.
Worldwide spending on information security and risk management systems will reach $131B in 2020, increasing to $174B in 2022 approximately $50B will be dedicated to protecting the endpoint according to Gartner’s latest Information Security and Risk Management forecast.
AI, Machine Learning And The Race To Improve Cybersecurity
The majority of Information Security teams’ cybersecurity analysts are overwhelmed today analyzing security logs, thwarting breach attempts, investigating potential fraud incidents and more. 69% of senior executives believe AI and machine learning are necessary to respond to cyberattacks according to the Capgemini study, Reinventing Cybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence. The following graphic compares the percentage of organizations by industry who are relying on AI to improve their cybersecurity. 80% of telecommunications executives believe their organization would not be able to respond to cyberattacks without AI, with the average being 69% of all enterprises across seven industries.
The bottom line is all organizations have an urgent need to improve endpoint security and resilience, protect privileged access credentials, reduce fraudulent transactions, and secure every mobile device applying Zero Trust principles. Many are relying on AI and machine learning to determine if login and resource requests are legitimate or not based on past behavioral and system use patterns. Several of the top ten companies to watch take into account a diverse series of indicators to determine if a login attempt, transaction, or system resource request is legitimate or not. They’re able to assign a single score to a specific event and predict if it’s legitimate or not. Kount’sOmniscore is an example of how AI and ML are providing fraud analysts with insights needed to reduce false positives and improve customer buying experiences while thwarting fraud.
The following are the top ten cybersecurity companies to watch in 2020:
Absolute – Absolute serves as the industry benchmark for endpoint resilience, visibility and control. Embedded in over a half-billion devices, the company enables more than 12,000 customers with self-healing endpoint security, always-connected visibility into their devices, data, users, and applications – whether endpoints are on or off the corporate network – and the ultimate level of control and confidence required for the modern enterprise.
To thwart attackers, organizations continue to layer on security controls — Gartner estimates that more than $174B will be spent on security by 2022, and of that approximately $50B will be dedicated protecting the endpoint. Absolute’s Endpoint Security Trends Report finds that in spite of the astronomical investments being made, 100 percent of endpoint controls eventually fail and more than one in three endpoints are unprotected at any given time. All of this has IT and security administrators grappling with increasing complexity and risk levels, while also facing mounting pressure to ensure endpoint controls maintain integrity, availability and functionality at all times, and deliver their intended value.
Organizations need complete visibility and real-time insights in order to pinpoint the dark endpoints, identify what’s broken and where gaps exist, as well as respond and take action quickly. Absolute mitigates this universal law of security decay and empowers organizations to build an enterprise security approach that is intelligent, adaptive and self-healing. Rather than perpetuating a false sense of security, Absolute provides a single source of truth and the diamond image of resilience for endpoints.
Centrify – Centrify is redefining the legacy approach to Privileged Access Management (PAM) with an Identity-Centric approach based on Zero Trust principles. Centrify’s 15-year history began in Active Directory (AD) bridging, and it was the first vendor to join UNIX and Linux systems with Active Directory, allowing for easy management of privileged identities across a heterogeneous environment. It then extended these capabilities to systems being hosted in IaaS environments like AWS and Microsoft Azure, and offered the industry’s first PAM-as-a-Service, which continues to be the only offering in the market with a true multi-tenant, cloud architecture. Applying its deep expertise in infrastructure allowed Centrify to redefine the legacy approach to PAM and introduce a server’s capability to self-defend against cyber threats across the ever-expanding modern enterprise infrastructure.
Centrify Identity-Centric PAM establishes a root of trust for critical enterprise resources, and then grants least privilege access by verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment. By implementing least privilege access, Centrify minimizes the attack surface, improves audit and compliance visibility, and reduces risk, complexity, and costs for the modern, hybrid enterprise. Over half of the Fortune 100, the world’s largest financial institutions, intelligence agencies, and critical infrastructure companies, all trust Centrify to stop the leading cause of breaches – privileged credential abuse.
Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2021, approximately 75% of large enterprises will utilize privileged access management products, up from approximately 50% in 2018 in their Forecast Analysis: Information Security and Risk Management, Worldwide, 4Q18 Update published March 29, 2019 (client access reqd). This is not surprising, considering that according to an estimate by Forrester Research, 80% of today’s breaches are caused by weak, default, stolen, or otherwise compromised privileged credentials.
Deep Instinct – Deep Instinct applies artificial intelligence’s deep learning to cybersecurity. Leveraging deep learning’s predictive capabilities, Deep Instinct’s on-device solution protects against zero-day threats and APT attacks with unmatched accuracy. Deep Instinct safeguards the enterprise’s endpoints and/or any mobile devices against any threat, on any infrastructure, whether or not connected to the network or to the Internet. By applying deep learning technology to cybersecurity, enterprises can now gain unmatched protection against unknown and evasive cyber-attacks from any source. Deep Instinct brings a completely new approach to cybersecurity enabling cyber-attacks to be identified and blocked in real-time before any harm can occur. Deep Instinct USA is headquartered in San Francisco, CA and Deep Instinct Israel is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Infoblox – Infoblox empowers organizations to bring next-level simplicity, security, reliability and automation to traditional networks and digital transformations, such as SD-WAN, hybrid cloud and IoT. Combining next-level simplicity, security, reliability, and automation, Infoblox can cut manual tasks by 70% and make organizations’ threat analysts 3x more productive.
While their history is in DDI devices, they are succeeding in providing DDI and network security services on an as-a-service (-aaS) basis. Their BloxOne DDI application, built on their BloxOne cloud-native platform, helps enable IT professionals to manage their networks, whether they’re based on on-prem, cloud-based, or hybrid architectures. BloxOne Threat Defense application leverages the data provided by DDI to monitor network traffic, proactively identify threats, and quickly inform security systems and network managers of breaches, working with the existing security stack to identify and mitigate security threats quickly, automatically, and more efficiently. The BloxOne platform provides a secure, integrated platform for centralizing the management of identity data and services across the network. A recognized industry leader, Infoblox has a 52% market share in the DDI networking market comprised of 8,000 customers, including 59% of the Fortune 1000 and 58% of the Forbes 2000.
Kount – Kount’s award-winning, AI-driven fraud prevention empowers digital businesses, online merchants, and payment service providers around the world to protect against payments fraud, new account creation fraud, and account takeover. With Kount, businesses approve more good orders, uncover new revenue streams, improve customer experience, and dramatically improve their bottom line all while minimizing fraud management cost and losses. Through Kount’s global network and proprietary technologies in AI and machine learning, combined with flexible policy management, companies frustrate online criminals and bad actors driving them away from their site, their marketplace, and off their network. Kount’s continuously adaptive platform provides certainty for businesses at every digital interaction. Kount’s advances in both proprietary techniques and patented technology include mobile fraud detection, advanced artificial intelligence, multi-layer device fingerprinting, IP proxy detection and geo-location, transaction and custom scoring, global order linking, business intelligence reporting, comprehensive order management, as well as professional and managed services. Kount protects over 6,500 brands today.
Mimecast – Mimecast improves the way companies manage confidential, mission-critical business communication and data. The company’s mission is to reduce the risks users face from email, and support in reducing the cost and complexity of protecting users by moving the workload to the cloud. The company develops proprietary cloud architecture to deliver comprehensive email security, service continuity, and archiving in a single subscription service. Its goal is to make it easier for people to protect a business in today’s fast-changing security and risk environment. The company expanded its technology portfolio in 2019 through a pair of acquisitions, buying data migration technology provider Simply Migrate to help customers and prospects move to the cloud more quickly, reliably, and inexpensively. Mimecast also purchased email security startup DMARC Analyzer to reduce the time, effort, and cost associated with stopping domain spoofing attacks. Mimecast acquired Segasec earlier this month, a leading provider of digital threat protection. With the acquisition of Segasec, Mimecast can provide brand exploit protection, using machine learning to identify potential hackers at the earliest stages of an attack. The solution also is engineered to provide a way to actively monitor, manage, block, and take down phishing scams or impersonation attempts on the Web.
MobileIron – A long-time leader in mobile management solutions, MobileIron is widely recognized by Chief Information Security Officers, CIOs and senior management teams as the de facto standard for unified endpoint management (UEM), mobile application management (MAM), BYOD security, and zero sign-on (ZSO). The company’s UEM platform is strengthened by MobileIron Threat Defense and MobileIron’s Access solution, which allows for zero sign-on authentication. Forrester observes in their latest Wave on Zero Trust eXtended Ecosystem Platform Providers, Q4 2019that “MobileIron’s recently released authenticator, which enables passwordless authentication to cloud services, is a must for future-state Zero Trust enterprises and speaks to its innovation in this space.” The Wave also illustrates that MobileIron is the most noteworthy vendor as their approach to Zero Trust begins with the device and scales across mobile infrastructures. MobileIron’s product suite also includes a federated policy engine that enables administrators to control and better command the myriad of devices and endpoints that enterprises rely on today. Forrester sees MobileIron as having excellent integration at the platform level, a key determinant of how effective they will be in providing support to enterprises pursuing Zero Trust Security strategies in the future.
One Identity – One Identity is differentiating its Identity Manager identity analytics and risk scoring capabilities with greater integration via its connected system modules. The goal of these modules is to provide customers with more flexibility in defining reports that include application-specific content. Identity Manager also has over 30 direct provisioning connectors included in the base package, with good platform coverage, including strong Microsoft and Office 365 support. Additional premium connectors are charged separately. One Identity also has a separate cloud-architected SaaS solution called One Identity Starling. One of Starling’s greatest benefits is its design that allows for it to be used not only by Identity Manager clients, but also by clients of other IGA solutions as a simplified approach to obtain SaaS-based identity analytics, risk intelligence, and cloud provisioning. One Identity and its approach is trusted by customers worldwide, where more than 7,500 organizations worldwide depend on One Identity solutions to manage more than 125 million identities, enhancing their agility and efficiency while securing access to their systems and data – on-prem, cloud, or hybrid.
SECURITI.ai – SECURITI.ai is the leader in AI-Powered PrivacyOps, that helps automate all major functions needed for privacy compliance in one place. It enables enterprises to give rights to people on their data, be responsible custodians of people’s data, comply with global privacy regulations like CCPA, and bolster their brands.
The AI-Powered PrivacyOps platform is a full-stack solution that operationalizes and simplifies privacy compliance using robotic automation and a natural language interface. These include a Personal Data Graph Builder, Robotic Automation for Data Subject Requests, Secure Data Request Portal, Consent Lifecycle Manager, Third-Party Privacy Assessment, Third-Party Privacy Ratings, Privacy Assessment Automation and Breach Management. SECURITI.ai is also featured in the Consent Management section of Bessemer’s Data Privacy Stack shown below and available in Bessemer Venture Partner’s recent publication How data privacy engineering will prevent future data oil spills (10 pp., PDF, no opt-in).
Transmit Security – The Transmit Security Platform provides a solution for managing identity across applications while maintaining security and usability. As criminal threats evolve, online authentication has become reactive and less effective. Many organizations have taken on multiple point solutions to try to stay ahead, deploying new authenticators, risk engines, and fraud tools. In the process, the customer experience has suffered. And with an increasingly complex environment, many enterprises struggle with the ability to rapidly innovate to provide customers with an omnichannel experience that enables them to stay ahead of emerging threats.
The survey’s results are noteworthy because they reflect how AI and machine learning-based fraud prevention techniques are helping retailers, financial services, insurance, and restaurants to reduce false positives that, in turn, reduces friction for their customers. All industries are in an arms race with fraudsters, many of whom are using machine learning to thwart fraud prevention systems. There are a series of fraud prevention providers countering fraud and helping industries stay ahead. A leader in this field is Kount, with its Omniscore that provides digital businesses with what they need to fight fraud while providing the best possible customer experience.
The following are the key insights from the Javelin Strategy and Research report published this month:
Retailers, financial institutions, restaurants, and insurance companies need to invest in fraud mitigation at the same rate as new product innovation, with retail and banking leading the way. Restaurants and insurance are lagging in their adoption of fraud mitigation techniques and, as a result, tend to experience more fraud. The insurance industry has a friendly fraud problem that is hard to catch. Over half of the financial institutions interviewed, 52% plan to invest in additional technologies to secure existing accounts, and 46% plan to invest in better identity-verification measures. Based on the survey, banks appear to be early adopters of AI and machine learning for fraud prevention. The study makes an excellent point that banking via virtual assistants is still nascent and constrained by the lack of information sharing within the ecosystem, which restricts authentication measures to PINs and passwords.
57% of all businesses are adding new products and services as their leading digital innovation strategy in 2020, followed by refining the user experience (55%) and expanding their digital strategy teams. Comparing priorities for digital innovation across the four industries reflects how each is approaching their omnichannel strategy. The banking industry places the highest priority on improving the security of existing user accounts at 52% of financial institutions surveyed. Improving security is the highest priority in banking today, according to the survey results shown below. This further validates how advanced banking and financial institutions are in their use of AI and machine learning for fraud prevention.
Digital businesses plan to improve their omnichannel strategies by improving their website, mobile app, and online catalog customer experiences across all channels in addition to better integration between digital and physical services is how. 40% of respondents are actively investing in improving the integration between digital and physical services. That’s an essential step for ensuring a consistently excellent user experience across websites, product catalogs, buy online and pick up in-store, and consistent user experiences across all digital and physical channels.
69% of all digital businesses interviewed are planning to make additional fraud investments this year. Banking and financial institutions dominate the four industries surveyed in the plans for additional fraud investment. 82% of consumer banks are planning to invest in additional fraud detection technologies. Insurers are least likely to invest in fraud detection technologies in 2020. The study notes that this can be attributed to insurers’ unique challenges with first-party fraud or fraud committed by legitimate policyholders, which is poorly addressed by many mainstream fraud controls.
Using AI-based scoring techniques to detect stolen credit card data being used online or in mobile apps, dominates financial institutions’ priorities today. 34% of financial institutions cite their top fraud threat being the use of stolen credit card data used online or in mobile apps. 18% say account takeovers are their most important area to reduce fraud. Financial institutions lead all others in fraud technology investments to thwart fraud, with managing digital fraud risk being the highest priority of all compared to the three other industries represented in the survey.
52% of all financial institutions say that improving the security of existing user accounts leads all digital investment priorities in 2020. What’s significant about this finding is that it outpaces adding new digital products and services and improving identity verification of new users. This is another factor that contributes to financial institutions’ leadership role in relying on AI and machine learning to improve fraud detection and deterrence.
There were a record 160 publicly-disclosed security incidents in K-12 during the summer months of 2019, exceeding the total number of incidents reported in all of 2018 by 30%.
47% of K-12 organizations are making cybersecurity their primary investment, yet 74% do not use encryption.
93% of K-12 organizations rely on native client/patch management tools that have a 56% failure rate, with 9% of client/patch management failures never recovered.
These and many other fascinating insights are from Absolute’s new research report, Cybersecurity and Education: The State of the Digital District in 2020, focused on the state of security, staff and student safety, and endpoint device health in K-12 organizations. The study’s findings reflect the crisis the education sector is facing as they grapple with high levels of risk exposure – driven in large part by complex IT environments and a digitally savvy student population – that have made them a prime target for cybercriminals and ransomware attackers. The methodology is based on data from 3.2M devices containing Absolute’s endpoint visibility and control platform, active in 1,200 K-12 organizations in North America (U.S. and Canada). Please see the full report for complete details on the methodology.
Here’ the backdrop:
K-12 cybersecurity incidents are skyrocketing, with over 700 reported since 2016 with 160 occurring during the summer of 2019 alone. Educational IT leaders face the challenge of securing increasingly complex IT environments while providing access to a digitally savvy student population capable of bypassing security controls. Schools are now the second-largest pool of ransomware victims, just behind local governments and followed by healthcare organizations. As of today, 49 school districts have been hit by ransomware attacks so far this year.
“Today’s educational IT leaders have been tasked with a remarkable feat: adopting and deploying modern learning platforms, while also ensuring student safety and privacy, and demonstrating ROI on security and technology investments,” said Christy Wyatt, CEO of Absolute.
Research from Absolute found:
K-12 IT leaders are now responsible for collectively managing more than 250 unique OS versions, and 93% are managing up to five versions of common applications. The following key insights from the study reflect how severe K-12’s cybersecurity crisis is today:
Digital technologies’ rapid proliferation across school districts has turned into a growth catalyst for K-12’s cybersecurity crisis. 94% of school districts have high-speed internet, and 82% provide students with school-funded devices through one-to-one and similar initiatives. Absolute found that funding for educational technology has increased by 62% in the last three years. The Digital Equity Act goes into effect this year, committing additional federal dollars to bring even more technology to the classroom. K-12 IT leaders face the daunting challenge of having to secure on average 11 device types, 258 unique operating systems versions and over 6,400 unique Chrome OS extensions and more, reflecting the broad scale of today’s K-12 cybersecurity crisis. Google Chromebooks dominate the K-12 device landscape. The following graphic illustrates how rapidly digital technologies are proliferating in K-12 organizations:
42% of K-12 organizations have staff and students regularly bypass security endpoint controls using web proxies and rogue VPN apps, inadvertently creating gateways for malicious outsiders to breach their schools’ networks. Absolute found that there are on average 10.6 devices with web proxy/rogue VPN apps per school and 319 unique web proxy/rogue VPN apps in use today, including “Hide My Ass” and “IP Vanish.” Many of the rogue VPN apps originate in China, and all of them are designed to evade web filtering and other content controls. With an average of 10.6 devices per school harboring web proxies and rogue VPN apps, schools are also at risk of non-compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
While 68% of education IT leaders say that cybersecurity is their top priority, 53% rely on client/patch management tools that are proving ineffective in securing their proliferating IT infrastructures. K-12 IT leaders are relying on client/patch management tools to secure the rapidly proliferating number of devices, operating systems, Chrome extensions, educational apps, and unique application versions. Client/patch management agents fail 56% of the time, however, and 9% never recover. There are on average, nine daily encryption agents’ failures, 44% of which never recover. The cybersecurity strategy of relying on native client/patch management isn’t working, leading to funds being wasted on K-12 security controls that don’t scale:
“Wyatt continued, this is not something that can be achieved by simply spending more money… especially when that money comes from public funds. The questions they each need to be asking are if they have the right foundational security measures in place, and whether the controls they have already invested in are working properly. Without key foundational elements of a strong and resilient security approach in place – things like visibility and control, it becomes nearly impossible to protect your students, your data, and your investments.”
Providing greater device visibility and endpoint security controls while enabling applications and devices to be more resilient is a solid first step to solving the K-12 cybersecurity crisis. Thwarting the many breach and ransomware attacks K-12 organizations receive every day needs to start by considering every device as part of the network perimeter. Securing K-12 IT networks to the device level delivers asset management and security visibility that native client/patch management tools lack. Having visibility to the device level also gives K-12 IT administrators and educators insights into how they can tailor learning programs for broader adoption. The greater the visibility, the greater the control. K-12 IT administrators can ensure internet safety policies are being adhered to while setting controls to be alerted of suspicious activity or non-compliant devices, including rogue VPNs or stolen devices. Absolute’s Persistence platform provides a persistent connection to each endpoint in a K-12’s one-to-one program, repairing or replacing critical apps that have been disabled or removed.
Cloud Security’s Weakest Link Is Mobile Device Passwords
The Twitter CEO’s account getting hacked is the latest in a series of incidents that reflect how easy it is for hackers to gain access to cloud-based enterprise networks using mobile devices. Verizon’s Mobile Security Index 2019 revealed that the majority of enterprises, 67%, are the least confident in the security of their mobile assets than any other device. Mobile devices are one of the most porous threat surfaces a business has. They’re also the fastest-growing threat surface, as every employee now relies on their smartphones as their ID. IDG’s recent survey completed in collaboration with MobileIron, titled Say Goodbye to Passwords found that 89% of security leaders believe that mobile devices will soon serve as your digital ID to access enterprise services and data.
Because they’re porous, proliferating and turning into primary forms of digital IDs, mobile devices and their passwords are a favorite onramp for hackers wanting access to companies’ systems and data in the cloud. It’s time to kill passwords and shut down the many breach attempts aimed at cloud platforms and the valuable data they contain.
Three Reasons Why Killing Passwords Improves Your Cloud Security
Killing passwords improve cloud security by:
Eliminating privileged access credential abuse. Privileged access credentials are best sellers on the Dark Web, where hackers bid for credentials to the world’s leading banking, credit card, and financial management systems. Forrester estimates that 80% of data breaches involve compromised privileged credentials, and a recent survey by Centrify found that 74% of all breaches involved privileged access abuse. Killing passwords shuts down the most common technique hackers use to access cloud systems.
Eliminating the threat of unauthorized mobile devices accessing business cloud services and exfiltrating data. Acquiring privileged access credentials and launching breach attempts from mobile devices is the most common hacker strategy today. By killing passwords and replacing them with a zero-trust framework, breach attempts launched from any mobile device using pirated privileged access credentials can be thwarted. Leaders in the area of mobile-centric zero trust security include MobileIron, whose innovative approach to zero sign-on solves the problems of passwords at scale. When every mobile device is secured through a zero-trust platform built on a foundation of unified endpoint management (UEM) capabilities, zero sign-on from managed and unmanaged services become achievable for the first time.
Giving organizations the freedom to take a least-privilege approach to grant access to their most valuable cloud applications and platforms. Identities are the new security perimeter, and mobile devices are their fastest-growing threat surface. Long-standing traditional approaches to network security, including “trust but verify” have proven ineffective in stopping breaches. They’ve also shown a lack of scale when it comes to protecting a perimeter-less enterprise. What’s needed is a zero-trust network that validates each mobile device, establishes user context, checks app authorization, verifies the network, and detects and remediates threats before granting secure access to any device or user. If Jack Dorsey’s telecom provider had this in place, his and thousands of other people’s telephone numbers would be safe today.
The sooner organizations move away from being so dependent on passwords, the better. The three reasons why killing passwords improve cloud security are just the beginning. Imagine how much more effective distributed DevOps teams will be when security isn’t a headache for them anymore, and they can get to the cloud-based resources they need to get apps built. And with more organizations adopting a mobile-first development strategy, it makes sense to have a mobile-centric zero-trust network engrained in key steps of the DevOps process. That’s the future of cloud security, starting with the DevOps teams creating the next generation of apps today.
IT decision-makers (ITDMs) report that cybersecurity is the hardest area to find qualified talent, followed by cloud computing skills.
56% of ITDMs report that certified personnel closes organizational skills gaps.
48% of ITDMs report that certifications boost productivity.
44% of ITDM report that certifications help meet client requirements.
Knowing which cybersecurity certifications are in the greatest demand is invaluable in planning a career in the field. I asked Global Knowledge, the world’s largest dedicated IT training company, which hosts over 3,000 unique IT courses delivered by over 1,100 subject matter experts for their help in finding out which cybersecurity certifications are the most sought after in North America this year. Their 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report is considered the gold standard of IT skills, certification, and salary data, with many IT professionals relying on it to plan their careers. Human Resource professionals also use the report and consider it an invaluable reference to guide their recruiting efforts. Thank you Global Knowledge for providing custom research of the current state of demand for cybersecurity certifications.
Ranking The Most Sought-After Cybersecurity Certifications
Of the 63% of North American IT professionals planning to or are pursuing a certification in 2019, 23% are pursuing a cybersecurity certification according to the latest Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report. The certifications reflect how quickly unique, specialized areas of knowledge are gaining in popularity. “Traditionally, cybersecurity senior leadership-level certifications have been dominated in popularity by the administrative and Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance accreditations. This continues to be reflected in the latest data with the most popular (ISC)2 and ISACA certification bodies represented well in the list,” said Brad Puckett, Global Knowledge’s global product director for cybersecurity. Brad used the Global Knowledgebase of survey data to produce the ten most sought-after cybersecurity certifications in North America in 2019 shown below:
Christy Wyatt’s career exemplifies what you would expect from a high-performing tech leader who thrives on turning challenges into growth. Showing persistence, resiliency, and tenacity – she has a long history of scaling high-growth technology companies and infusing them with greater creative energy, ingenuity, and intensity for results. As CEO of Absolute, she’s leading the company through an evolution that is shifting its focus from simply being known as a ‘track and trace’ company to becoming the world’s most trusted security company delivering endpoint resiliency to businesses of all sizes.
Previously she served as CEO of Dtex Systems, a user behavior intelligence company that grew revenue by 321% last year. Before Dtex, she was Chairman, CEO, and President of Good Technology, the global leader in mobile security where she defined and delivered an aggressive growth strategy before its successful acquisition by BlackBerry. Wyatt began her career as a software engineer and rose through the executive leadership ranks at Citigroup, Motorola, Apple, Palm and Sun Microsystems. She was named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 50 Women Entrepreneurs in America, CEO of the Year by the Information Security Global Excellence Awards, and one of Fierce Wireless’s Most Influential Women in Wireless.
Insights From Absolute’s Latest Earnings Call
On August 13th, Christy Wyatt and Errol Olsen, CFO of Absolute, hosted the company’s latest earnings call with financial analysts. A transcript of the call is available here. Key insights from the company’s latest quarter and fiscal year-end were shared and included the following:
Total revenue in FY19 was $98.9M, representing an increase of 6% over the prior fiscal year with the ACV Base reaching $98M as of June 30, 2019, up $6.5M or 7%, over the prior year.
Enterprise sector portion of the ACV Base increased 11% year-over-year. Enterprise customers represented 55% of the ACV Base of June 30, 2019. And the Government sector portion of the ACV Base increased 15% year-over-year, now representing 12% of the ACV Base as of June 30, 2019.
Incremental ACV from new customers was $5.2M in FY19, compared to $3.4M in FY18.
Adjusted EBITDA in FY19 was $19.3M, or 20% of revenue, up from $9.2M or 10% of revenue, in the prior fiscal year.
FY19 Net Income increased 144% over the prior fiscal year based on continued Enterprise market growth.
In Q4, Absolute signed a new financial services customer with an ACV just under $1M with their service being delivered by a Managed Service Provider (MSP) that maintains the customers computing infrastructure.
Absolute has provided product-level enhancements to make it easier for MSP partners to use their products to support multiple customers, with the strategy paying off with more deals globally.
Christy Wyatt On Competing In Today’s Cybersecurity Industry
I recently had the opportunity to interview Christy and learn more about how she sees the cybersecurity industry today and where it’s heading, in addition to gaining insights into her and her teams’ goals at Absolute, one of the top 10 cybersecurity companies to watch in 2019. Absolute serves as the industry benchmark for endpoint resilience, visibility, and control. Embedded in over a half-billion devices, the company enables more than 12,000 customers with self-healing endpoint security, always-connected visibility into their devices, data, users, and applications whether endpoints are on or off the corporate network, and the ultimate level of control and confidence required for the modern enterprise.
The following is my interview with Christy:
Louis: Coming into a new company environment and establishing yourself with credibility in the role is key. What are the things that you’ve gone after immediately to address how the company is doing and where it’s going? In essence, what’s been your 90-day plan, and how’s that going overall?
Christy: Most incoming CEOs join a company with a thesis about why this is an interesting opportunity and how they can invest significant intellectual capital into it. And then that first 90 days is really about vetting out that model and seeing if the opportunity is real. With Absolute, my thesis was here is a company that very few people understood, with an amazing install base and partner community built around unique self-healing capabilities. If you juxtapose that against the security industry today, you’ll see the glaringly huge problem. There are start-ups after start-ups all claiming they can protect businesses from breaches – so organizations keep buying more and more technology – all while breaches are accelerating. And those businesses keep asking themselves, “Are we more secure? How do I know if my business is more secure?” And the answer is they don’t know.
When I talk to customers, they say, “I have more than ten agents on every laptop in my device fleet. User experience is suffering, and the complexity is mind boggling.” As a CEO, I want to be able to fix that, right? How do we effectively deploy security controls in a way that is healthy and productive for both the laptop and for the user? That’s a massive opportunity, and that’s what gets me excited about Absolute.
Louis: In your last few earnings calls, you referenced wins in financial services, healthcare, and professional services. What do you attribute the success of Absolute moving more towards the enterprise?
Christy: The initial transition and increased focus on the enterprise market predates me. Over the past year, however, we’ve expanded our discussions into all the sectors you mention, and more, to better understand what they’re doing around enterprise resilience.
In April, we published original research that examined the state of decay and exposure points around endpoint security. Once we quantified that, we then spent our time with customers talking about what’s happening within their unique environments. What we found was that they had a false sense of security. They have encryption, malware security, and VPN all checked. But based on our research and new analytics, we were able to show them there are gaps in their protection when those agents became un-installed, missed a patch, or conflicted with other controls. That is the rate of decay we are talking about. How to make their existing controls more resilient to decay. We highlighted how their existing deployments degrade, weaken and fail over time. We also showed them some simple strategies to heal and even boost the immune system of their environment. That’s very powerful, and as a result, customers are leaning into our resilience story – it helps them capture the value of the investments they have already made.
Louis: Regarding your product roadmap and the direction you’re going in, what are some of the plans that you’re looking to be able to capitalize on that presence that you have on billions of devices?
Christy: Critical to our success has always been our partners. If you look at our Resilience product, which is our enterprise product, we can heal other third-party applications. So if the average enterprise has ten plus security agents deployed, there are probably at least three to five that they care about. They say, “Look, I feel exposed from a compliance perspective or a risk perspective if I don’t have, for example, encryption turned on… and it’s not okay with me that my users can delete something or turn it off.” Our data tells us where and how we can serve, and better secure, those enterprise IT architectures.
There’s a growing list of things within our platform today that we already heal. Broadening our resilience capabilities is something you’re going to see us invest significantly in. And then there’s work we have to do for our customers’ security and IT organizations, pointing them to the specific, critical things that need their focus right now. So if there’s a gap or something has gone offline in their security fabric, I want to bring their attention to it; I want to heal it and fix it. Absolute excels at solving those challenges for our customers.
Louis: You mention endpoints often, and it makes me think about ‘Zero Trust’ security and the proliferation of IoT and industrial internet of things devices and how that’s flourishing across manufacturing and other distributed based industries like supply chains. What are your long term plans in these areas?
Christy: We’re doing a lot of work in that space. With 5G quickly evolving, this is going to have a significant impact on the enterprise, and the ability to have similar controls on anything that’s connected to your network will be critical. I think there is a lot of credence in Zero Trust model as one of the many security architectures, but any one of these has to be rooted in something. So even if you’re trying to manage security from the cloud, your efficiency and your effectiveness are only as good as the data that you’re getting. If you don’t have visibility on what’s connected or what’s happening on the endpoint, your ability to diagnose it or fix it is relatively is impacted. My view is whatever you think your security strategy is today, the controls you think you need are going to be completely different 18 months from now. And so the five things you care about persisting and healing today are not going to be the same five things you care about in that timeframe. Our job is leverage our BIOS enabled foundation that allows enterprises to get reliable data, see the things that are protecting their environment, and heal them if something goes wrong – regardless of what their stack looks like.
Louis: So Absolute becomes a system of record because it is the definitive record of all activity coming off of that laptop or that device that’s enabled at the BIOS level with your technology.
Christy: I think we’re a big part of that. We’ve talked to a lot of customers, and there are other visibility solutions on the market. A lot of times somebody says, “Well, I have a fill-in-the-blank-security-product, and so I think I see everything.” My answer is the thing they are relying on is likely one of those ten things that are sitting in the stack that has a rate of decay – because it is not rooted in the BIOS so, therefore, it has some inherent vulnerability. So we should be instrumenting that and ensuring that we protect that critical control, ensure it is always running, and heal it if it goes offline. Our customers rely on us because they know that we are giving them the complete picture.
I don’t see the vast ecosystem of security products as competitive to what we are doing. I see those as complementary. Whatever is in your security technology stack, let’s make sure it’s always there, let’s make sure it’s always turned on, and let’s heal it if it goes offline.
Louis: Regarding the designed-in win you’ve achieved with being embedded at the BIOS level, do you spend time OEMs? How is that all orchestrated at the platform level, or at the OEM level, to ensure that you continue to have that as a competitive advantage?
Christy: We’ve had very close relationships with our OEM partners for well over a decade. We spend a lot of time looking at both the technical architectures and customer challenges. Every one of our OEM partners has a unique strategy for how they are delivering unique security services to their customers, and we view ourselves as an enabler of those strategies.
Louis: When you visit customers, what are they most excited about? What’s their burning need right now? What are they focused on?
Christy: Right now, we’re spending a lot of time with our customers focused on simplifying their experience and making these new capabilities easier to use, and easier to integrate into their environments. A lot of our customers have been with us for a long time and get very excited about how we make their jobs easier with more automation using things like our constantly expanding library of Reach scripts, enabling their IT teams to automate a lot of their endpoint tasks.
Where we also see a significant change in behavior is when we show them the power of some of our Resilience capabilities, paired with some of our analytics pieces. When we show them the state of the endpoint as it applies to their unique environment, where the gaps are, and demonstrate how we can help heal those gaps, I often hear, “Oh, I didn’t know Absolute could do that…” It’s a big departure from where we were ten years ago. So I think we’re going through a period of reintroducing ourselves to our customers and showing them that, even with the technology they already have, they could be doing so much more.
Louis: How do you build the business case for Absolute?
Christy: I think it depends on the customer. I think that if they’re a customer that’s talking to us about our visibility and control products, which are really about trust in our BIOS level visibility and control, management and tracking and locating and taking fine grain view at their assets, then I think the conversation is really about return on investment around the asset itself. Using their data to give them valuable insights about the state of their assets, as well as their posture. It’s a conversation about protecting the investment you’re making in your computing infrastructure.
When we’re talking to a customer about resiliency, it’s really about how much they are spending on security and how do we help them get back the return on investment of the dollars they’ve already spent. I believe the frenzy around security spending has put a lot of IT managers into a position where they have deep stacks and are not getting the full return on investment from those controls. We want to help them close the gap.
Louis: How do you enable innovation of culture and be able to turn out the next generation products?
Christy: So, I’ve done it a bunch of different ways, and I believe that what is most empowering to people who love to build great products….is when individuals get to see their stuff, their unique idea, their new concept go to market and be used by customers. We are fundamentally builders using our tools to solve customer problems.
What I like is a little bit more of the startup energy. Where people can bring forward ideas, and if we agree this is a cool idea – we invest. We give them a team and a timeline. We can give those ideas an opportunity for commercialization. And by the way, that’s what engineers and innovators and entrepreneurs love the most. That’s what they want. They get passionate about pointing to a product and saying, “I did that. That’s super cool. It was my idea; they gave me a team. I learned a lot, and I got to have an impact.” And I think that impact is really what fires or fuels the innovation culture.
The average cost of a data breach has risen 12% over the past 5 years and is now $3.92M.
U.S.-based breaches average $8.19M in losses, leading all nations.
Not integrating mobile phone platforms and protecting them with a Zero Trust Security framework can add up to $240K to the cost of a breach.
Companies that fully deploy security automation technologies experience around half the cost of a breach ($2.65M on average) compared to those that do not deploy these technologies ($5.16M on average).
These and many other fascinating insights are from the 14th annual IBM Security Cost of a Data Breach Report, 2019. IBM is making a copy of the report available here for download (76 pp., PDF, opt-in). IBM and Ponemon Institute collaborated on the report, recruiting 507 organizations that have experienced a breach in the last year and interviewing more than 3,211 individuals who are knowledgeable about the data breach incident in their organizations. A total of 16 countries and 17 industries were included in the scope of the study. For additional details regarding the methodology, please see pages 71 – 75 of the report.
Key insights from the report include the following:
Lost business costs are 36.2% of the total cost of an average breach, making it the single largest loss component of all. Detection and escalation costs are second at 31.1%, as it can take up to 206 days to first identify a breach after it occurs and an additional 73 days to contain the breach. IBM found the average breach lasts 279 days. Breaches take a heavy toll on the time resources of any organization as well, eating up 76% of an entire year before being discovered and contained.
U.S.-based breaches average $8.19M in losses, leading all nations with the highest country average. The cost of U.S.-based breaches far outdistance all other countries and regions of the world due to the value and volume of data exfiltrated from enterprise IT systems based in North America. North American enterprises are also often the most likely to rely on mobile devices to enable greater communication and collaboration, further exposing that threat surface. The Middle East has the second-highest average breach loss of $5.97M. In contrast, Indian and Brazilian organizations had the lowest total average cost at $1.83M and $1.35M, respectively.
Data breach costs increase quickly in integration-intensive corporate IT environments, especially where there is a proliferation of disconnected mobile platforms. The study found the highest contributing costs associated with a data breach are caused by third parties, compliance failures, extensive cloud migration, system complexity, and extensive IoT, mobile and OT environments. This reinforces that organizations need to adopt a Zero Trust Security (ZTS) framework to secure the multiple endpoints, apps, networks, clouds, and operating systems across perimeter-less enterprises. Mobile devices are enterprises’ fasting growing threat surfaces, making them one of the highest priorities for implementing ZTS frameworks. Companies to watch in this area include MobileIron, which has created a mobile-centric, zero-trust enterprise security framework. The framework is built on the foundation of unified endpoint management (UEM) and additional zero trust-enabling technologies, including zero sign-on (ZSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and mobile threat detection (MTD). This approach to securing access and protect data across the perimeter-less enterprise is helping to alleviate the high cost of data breaches, as shown in the graphic below.
Accidental, inadvertent breaches from human error and system glitches are still the root cause for nearly half (49%) of the data breaches. And phishing attacks on mobile devices that are lost, stolen or comprised in workplaces are a leading cause of breaches due to human error. While less expensive than malicious attacks, which cost an average of $4.45M, system glitches and the human error still result in costly breaches, with an average loss of $3.24M and $3.5M respectively. To establish complete control over data, wherever it lives, organizations need to adopt Zero Trust Security (ZTS) frameworks that are determined by “never trust, always verify.”. For example, MobileIron’s mobile-centric zero-trust approach validates the device, establishes user context, checks app authorization, verifies the network, and detects and remediates threats before granting secure access to a device or user. This zero-trust security framework is designed to stop accidental, inadvertent and maliciously-driven, intentional breaches. The following graphic compares the total cost for three data breach root causes:
Lost business is the single largest cost component of any breach, and it takes years to fully recover from one. IBM found that 67% of the costs of a breach accrue in the first year, 22% accrue in the second year and 11% in the third. The more regulated a company’s business, the longer a breach will accrue costs and impact operations. Compounding this is the need for a more Zero Trust-based approach to securing every endpoint across an organization.
Interested in learning more about ransomware and how to help municipalities and manufacturers protect themselves against it, I attended Centrify’s recent webinar, “5 Steps To Minimize Your Exposure To Ransomware Attacks”. Dr. Torsten George, noted cybersecurity evangelist, delivered a wealth of insights and knowledge about how any business can protect itself and recover from a ransomware attack. Key insights from his webinar include the following:
Ransomware attackers are becoming more sophisticated using spear-phishing emails that target specific individuals and seeding legitimate websites with malicious code – it’s helpful to know the anatomy of an attack. Some recent attacks have even started exploiting smartphone vulnerabilities to penetrate corporate networks, according to Dr. George. The following graphic from the webinar explains how attackers initiate their ransomware attempts by sending a phishing email that might include a malicious attachment or link that leads to a malicious website. When a user clicks on the file/webpage, it unloads the malware and starts executing. It then establishes communications to the Command and Control Server – more often than not via TOR, which is free, open-source software for enabling anonymous communication. In the next step, the files get encrypted, and the end-user gets the infamous ransomware screen. From there on, communications with the end-user is done via TOR or similar technologies. Once the ransom is paid – often via Bitcoin to avoid any traces to the attacker – the private key is delivered to the users to regain access to their data.
To minimize the impact of a ransomware attack on any business, Business Continuity and Prevention strategies need to be in place now. A foundation of any successful Business Continuity strategy is following best practices defined by the U.S. Government Interagency Technical Guidance. These include performing regular data backup, penetration testing, and secure backups as the graphic below illustrate:
There are six preventative measures every business can take today to minimize the risk and potential business disruption of ransomware, according to the U.S. Government Interagency Technical Guidelines and FBI. One of the most valuable insights gained from the webinar was learning about how every business needs to engrain cybersecurity best practices into their daily routines. Calling it “cyber hygiene,” Dr. George provided insights into the following six preventative measures:
Stopping privileged access abuse with a Zero Trust Privilege-based approach reduces ransomware attacks and breaches’ ability to proliferate. Centrify found that 74% of all data breaches involve access to a privileged account. In a separate study, The Forrester Wave™: Privileged Identity Management, Q4 2018, (PDF, 19 pp., no opt-in) found that at least 80% of data breaches have a connection to compromised privileged credentials. Dr. George observed that hackers don’t hack in anymore—they log in using weak, default, stolen, or otherwise compromised credentials. Zero Trust Privilege requires granting least privilege access based on verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment.
One of the most valuable segments of the webinar covered five steps for minimizing an organization’s exposure to ransomware taking a Zero Trust-based approach. The five steps that every organization needs to consider how to reduce the threat of ransomware includes the following:
Immediately Establish A Secure Admin Environment. To prevent malware from spreading during sessions that connect servers with privileged access, establish policies that only authorize privileged access from a “clean” source. This will prevent direct access from user workstations that are connected to the Internet and receive external email messages, which are too easily infected with malware.
Secure remote access from a Zero Trust standpoint first, especially if you are working with remote contractors, outsourced IT, or development staff. When remote access is secured through a Zero Trust-based approach, it alleviates the need for a VPN and handles all the transport security between the secure client and distributed server connector gateways. Ransomware can travel through VPN connections and spread through entire corporate networks. Taking advantage of a reverse proxy approach, there is no logical path to the network, and ransomware is unable to spread from system to the network.
Zoning off access is also a must-have to thwart ransomware attacks from spreading across company networks. The webinar showed how it’s a very good idea to create and enforce a series of access zones that restrict access by privileged users to specific systems and requires multi-factor authentication (MFA) to reach assets outside of their zone. Without passing an MFA challenge, ransomware can’t spread to other systems.
Minimizing attack surfaces is key to stopping ransomware. Minimizing attack surfaces reduces ransomware’s potential to enter and spread throughout a company’s network. Dr. George made the point that vaulting away shared local accounts is a very effective strategy for minimizing attack surfaces. The point was made that ransomware does not always need elevated privileges to spread, but if achieved, the impact will be much more damaging.
Least Privilege Access is foundational to Zero Trust and a must-have on any network to protect against ransomware. When least privilege access is in place, organizations have much tighter, more granular control over which accounts and resources admin accounts and users have access to. Ransomware gets stopped in its tracks when it can’t install files or achieve least privilege access to complete installation of a script or code base.
Ransomware is the latest iteration of a criminal strategy used for centuries for financial gain. Holding someone or something for ransom has now graduated to holding entire cities and businesses hostage until a Bitcoin payment is made. The FBI warns that paying ransomware attackers only fuels more attacks and subsidizes an illegal business model. That’s why taking the preventative steps provided in the Centrify webinar is something every business needs to consider today.
Staying safe from ransomware in the modern threatscape is a challenge, but a Zero Trust Privilege approach can reduce the risk your organization will be the next victim forced to make a gut-wrenching decision of whether or not to pay a ransom.