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Centrify’s Tim Steinkopf On How To Think Like A Cybersecurity CEO

Centrify’s Tim Steinkopf On How To Think Like A Cybersecurity CEO

Tim Steinkopf is CEO at Centrify, where he leads the management, strategic direction, and execution of the company’s vision. Tim initially joined Centrify as Chief Financial Officer in October 2011 and took over as CEO in January 2019. Before Centrify, he held CFO positions at Secure Computing Corporation (acquired by McAfee), SumTotal Systems, Purfresh, and Silicon Entertainment. Tim has also held executive and management positions with Watt/Peterson and Ernst & Young.

Under Tim’s leadership, Centrify is only one of five cybersecurity companies with six or more years on Inc.’s annual list of America’s 5000 fastest-growing private companies. Centrify’s many honors include being awarded Gartner Peer Insights Customer’s Choice 2019 award earlier this year.

Tim is also a member of the Forbes Tech Council, and his latest article, Five Skills Necessary To Transition From CFO to CEO, shares how the lessons he learned from serving as a CFO for over two decades prepared him for the role of CEO. He says the one clear key attribute of CFOs is the ability to apply a metrics-driven approach to all facets of a business. The ability to orchestrate initiatives, programs, and strategies across the many departments of a company and have them all contribute to the metrics that define organizational success is vital and provides CFOs invaluable training in their progression to leading a company.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Tim recently for an executive Q&A to learn how Centrify is separating itself from the pack in crowded cybersecurity space, under his leadership and in partnership with private equity investor Thoma Bravo:

Louis:            Centrify is only one of five cybersecurity companies with six or more years on Inc.’s annual list of America’s 5000 fastest-growing private companies. What are the most effective growth strategies that also deliver strong profitability today that keep Centrify growing?

Tim:                I’m going to break this into two pieces because I think there’s a difference between growth versus profitability.

On the growth side, you can only attain the Inc. 5000 ranking by looking at a cumulative period of time. So, it isn’t that we’ve just grown for six years, it’s that we’ve had the ability to sustain growth over a rolling four-year period. To maintain placement on that list, we’ve had to excel at the details of how we serve our customers. It is quite an accomplishment and congratulations to all the current and former Centrify employees who were involved in that.

The real driver is our history of innovation. Centrify has always been an innovator, and we’ve always paid attention to our market, our drivers, and what our customers are saying. We’re trying to be a step or two ahead of our customers. If you’re able to do that, and you’re able to continue to innovate, then you can drive additional adoption of your solution set, and continue to drive growth.

Profitability does go hand in hand, but it’s slightly different because now you’re talking about effective, efficient growth. As CFO, I always had an eye on ROI and how to put capital, resources, and additional headcount to use, such that we could drive growth. Then you often ask yourself if you are driving it as efficiently as possible. And that’s where making the right kind of bets in technology for running and growing the business make a difference. It’s also about deploying into the correct markets so that you can land and then sustain growth.

Louis:            In a previous interview, you mentioned the need for balanced metrics and change management strategies. Would you like to comment on those aspects of being a CEO?

Tim:                It all comes down to the role of the CEO, leading a company to accomplish its goals. CEOs report to the board of directors, who ultimately set the goals for any company. And when you’re a CEO, you want to do everything possible to get to those goals. Knowing how the different parts of the company run and knowing where and how to allocate resources and change management all contributes to achieving the company’s goals.

Louis:            How has Thoma Bravo, after becoming the majority investor in Centrify, helped your company pursue new partner, product, and service initiatives?

Tim:               TB is known for placing winning bests, and investing in Centrify is a real feather in our cap. It’s seen by partners, prospects, and customers as a vote of confidence. We’ve been in business for over 15 years, are perennially in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, a leader in the Forrester Wave, and a leader in the channel as recognized by Computer Reseller news. We’ve got our own pedigree, and that’s great. Then you add on the fact that TB is a majority investor, and our reputation is even stronger.

Regarding product and service initiatives, TB spends a lot of time and effort on each investment, and they have a great track record, specifically in InfoSec and cybersecurity. They came in and said, “Hey, our investment thesis is to take Centrify and split it into two companies, where each will have a better ability to focus and compete, and that will drive more efficient resource allocation, and growth opportunities.” Centrify current iteration formed as a result of the investment thesis being implemented, and we’re excelling in our chosen market.

Louis:            Gartner Peer Insights awarded Centrify with the 2019 Customer’s Choice recognition recently. What do you attribute your customers’ success to, and their willingness to share their stories online on forums include Gartner’s Peer Insights and others? They’re so critical to sale cycles right now.

Tim:                Customer references are so important, and this is where we have to give credit to the greater Centrify organization. We have a customer-centric attitude, and that is why our customers are willing to speak up, which gives us the opportunity to compete and win awards, including Customer’s Choice 2019 and others.

Behind the scenes, it includes building and delivering a solid solution set combined with services. Once our solution is installed, we work quickly and in close collaboration with our customers to make sure it’s working and meeting their requirements. We view every customer relationship as a partnership, and how we implement our identity-centric PAM solutions for them is essential to a successful journey for them. We measure our success by our customers’ results, and if they are achieving their goals.

Louis:            Privileged Access Management (PAM) shows potential in 2020 as a growth market. What are Centrify’s plans to capitalize on this market momentum?

Tim:                That’s absolutely the market we’re in and serving customers with solutions for today. Going back 10 to 15 years, legacy approaches to PAM were thought of only in terms of password vaulting. We’ve strived to stay in step with our customers, as they’ve shown us that deploying a vault-only approach to PAM is not enough. They need to move beyond the vault and move to an identity-centric approach.

When organizations deploy a vault-only solution, they’re enabling login with shared admin or root accounts, and so that is a generic approach that is not identity-centric. Centrify’s solution helps organizations to centralize authentication and have their employees request access to specific resources with specific privilege elevation rights while also tracking all activity for audits, compliance, forensics, and regulatory purposes. Our customers place a high value on all of these aspects of our solution as it provides non-repudiation across their environments and better protects resources against cyberthreats.

The real potential for growth are the drivers moving PAM beyond the vault. It’s becoming more identity-centric, with a least privilege access approach. That message is resonating across the industry, and people get it. The biggest driver is the fact that 80% of the breaches are occurring because privileged credentials are getting compromised. Since they’re not identity-centric, too much privilege exists, which means the attack surface is greater, and it continues to get breached.

Louis:            What are the most challenging aspects of being CEO of a fast-growing cyber security company today?

Tim:                The most challenging aspects of being a CEO are the most exciting. One of the most energizing is competing in a very dynamic market. That’s what motivates me and why I’ve been in tech a long time.

Advances in technology drive the market, and it motivates companies, customers, and investors to take advantage of those advances and drive their business forward. At Centrify, our core focus is to capitalize on technology gains to help our customers achieve their goals by bringing new products to market. These include cloud, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), machine learning, and other key strategic technologies. We’re always interested in utilizing new technologies, as the bad actors are also doing their own development of new ways to compromise our customers and their systems. They are looking for the weakest link.

We are completely committed to what we’re doing to stay ahead of those bad actors. Since technology continues to evolve and change, it makes the industry/market very dynamic.

Louis:            When you visit with Centrify customers, what’s the most interesting feedback you’re hearing from them?

Tim:                Our customer is normally the infrastructure and/or security people and teams. Who we primarily interact with is determined by the structure of a given customer’s organization. The people deploying, running, and supporting the networks and IT environments, who are responsible for those areas, are who we primarily work with.

The one common theme we hear from them is that they’re just trying to keep up. They look to us for help doing that, specifically how they can make privileged access management more efficient and effective across their organizations. Our customers look to Centrify so they can capitalize on our decades of expertise and complete commitment to providing privileged access management solutions that scale with their business.

They all know that it only takes one compromised, privileged credential to ruin their day, affecting millions of customers and costing hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars. One of our challenges in helping our customers is to help them face the challenge of educating upwards in their organizations as to the importance of having the proper tools for cybersecurity.

Louis:            When you get invited into a prospect’s bake-off to compare PAM vendors, why does Centrify win? And how do you proceed into a Proof of Concept following winning a bake-off?

Tim:                The number one reason we win is because we have a strong vision around identity-centric privileged access management. In addition, many organizations are undergoing digital transformations, and the majority of organizations have a hybrid IT and cloud environment. This includes on-premises, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments, and ephemeral environments. The ability to manage all of those different aspects with a central approach to identity is much more efficient and effective in the long run.

We see customers looking to make this their ongoing infrastructure deployment strategy, which will set them up for the future. That, and having a more encompassing solution set that addresses their greatest security risks are how we are differentiating today.

Louis:            Your customer base appears to have a robust multi-cloud strategy, combining AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. What’s a major challenge many are facing when migrating to cloud, and what does the future look like in terms of securing their identity and privileged access?

Tim:                Multi-cloud didn’t really shape our strategy because we are based on a central repository for identity. Implicit in that approach is having everybody log in as themselves while providing them the freedom to do their jobs. And when it comes to least privileged access, we focus on allowing just enough access to every member to get their work done, while tracking every login to ensure compliance.

We’ve always supported that vision with an architecture that would span on-premises and cloud systems because nobody is going to completely do multi-cloud overnight. It’s a journey that begins by recognizing the business need for a hybrid IT environment that includes multi-cloud integration and platforms.

Our architecture is based on a cloud-based privileged access service that connects to wherever our customer’s identity store is. Through the use of cloud connectors, we can provide centralized identity and privileged access into your workloads running within a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). We find most customers have multiple VPCs and their architected to be generic, which reflects the fact our customers end up with more than one infrastructure as a service platform provider. We’re able to handle that and provide privileged access management across all those environments.

It’s the strength of our privileged access service and our cloud connectors give our customers the option of selecting a thin client that deploys on their workloads within different VPCs, and then comes back to the service and communicates with various connected identity stores. It’s designed to be a very efficient architecture, and it plays well in ephemeral, quickly-changing elastic environments to support the requirements and scale needs of the business. Our architecture flexes and provides identity and privileged access management across their unique cloud and on-premise system configurations.

 

10 Predictions How AI Will Improve Cybersecurity In 2020

10 Predictions How AI Will Improve Cybersecurity In 2020

Capgemini predicts 63% of organizations are planning to deploy AI in 2020 to improve cybersecurity, with the most popular application being network security.

Cybersecurity is at an inflection point entering 2020. Advances in AI and machine learning are accelerating its technological progress. Real-time data and analytics are making it possible to build stronger business cases, driving higher adoption. Cybersecurity spending has rarely been linked to increasing revenues or reducing costs, but that’s about to change in 2020.

What Leading Cybersecurity Experts Are Predicting For 2020

Interested in what the leading cybersecurity experts are thinking will happen in 2020, I contacted five of them. Experts I spoke with include Nicko van Someren, Ph.D. and Chief Technology Officer at Absolute Software; Dr. Torsten George, Cybersecurity Evangelist at Centrify; Craig Sanderson, Vice President of Security Products at Infoblox; Josh Johnston, Director of AI, Kount; and Brian Foster, Senior Vice President Product Management at MobileIron. Each of them brings a knowledgeable, insightful, and unique perspective to how AI and machine learning will improve cybersecurity in 2020. The following are their ten predictions:

  1. AI and machine learning will continue to enable asset management improvements that also deliver exponential gains in IT security by providing greater endpoint resiliency in 2020. Nicko van Someren, Ph.D. and Chief Technology Officer at Absolute Software, observes that “Keeping machines up to date is an IT management job, but it’s a security outcome. Knowing what devices should be on my network is an IT management problem, but it has a security outcome. And knowing what’s going on and what processes are running and what’s consuming network bandwidth is an IT management problem, but it’s a security outcome. I don’t see these as distinct activities so much as seeing them as multiple facets of the same problem space, accelerating in 2020 as more enterprises choose greater resiliency to secure endpoints.”
  2. AI tools will continue to improve at drawing on data sets of wildly different types, allowing the “bigger picture” to be put together from, say, static configuration data, historic local logs, global threat landscapes, and contemporaneous event streams.  Nicko van Someren, Ph.D., and CTO at Absolute Software also predict that“Enterprise executives will be concentrating their budgets and time on detecting cyber threats using AI above predicting and responding. As enterprises mature in their use and adoption of AI as part of their cybersecurity efforts, prediction and response will correspondingly increase.”
  3. Threat actors will increase the use of AI to analyze defense mechanisms and simulate behavioral patterns to bypass security controls, leveraging analytics to and machine learning to hack into organizations. Dr. Torsten George, Cybersecurity Evangelist at Centrify, predicts that “threat actors, many of them state-sponsored, will increase their use and sophistication of AI algorithms to analyze organizations’’ defense mechanisms and tailor attacks to specific weak areas. He also sees the threat of bad actors being able to plug into the data streams of organizations and use the data to further orchestrate sophisticated attacks.”
  4. Given the severe shortage of experienced security operations resources and the sheer volume of data that most organizations are trying to work through, we are likely to see organizations seeking out AI/ML capabilities to automate their security operations processes. Craig Sanderson, Vice President of Security Products at Infoblox also predicts that “while AI and machine learning will increasingly be used to detect new threats it still leaves organizations with the task of understanding the scope, severity, and veracity of that threat to inform an effective response. As security operations becomes a big data problem it necessitates big data solutions.”
  5. There’s going to be a greater need for adversarial machine learning to combat supply chain corruption in 2020. Sean Tierney, Director of Threat Intelligence at Infoblox, predicts that “the need for adversarial machine learning to combat supply chain corruption is going to increase in 2020. Sean predicts that the big problem with remote coworking spaces is determining who has access to what data. As a result, AI will become more prevalent in traditional business processes and be used to identify if a supply chain has been corrupted.”
  6. Artificial intelligence will become more prevalent in account takeover—both the proliferation and prevention of it. Josh Johnston, Director of AI at Kount, predicts that “the average consumer will realize that passwords are not providing enough account protection and that every account they have is vulnerable. Captcha won’t be reliable either, because while it can tell if someone is a bot, it can’t confirm that the person attempting to log in is the account holder. AI can recognize a returning user. AI will be key in protecting the entire customer journey, from account creation to account takeover, to a payment transaction. And, AI will allow businesses to establish a relationship with their account holders that are protected by more than just a password.”
  7. Consumers will take greater control of their data sharing and privacy in 2020. Brian Foster, Senior Vice President Product Management at MobileIron, observes that over the past few years, we’ve witnessed some of the biggest privacy and data breaches. As a result of the backlash, tech giants such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon beefed up their privacy controls to gain back trust from customers. Now, the tables have turned in favor of consumers and companies will have to put privacy first to stay in business. Moving forward, consumers will own their data, which means they will be able to selectively share it with third parties, but most importantly, they will get their data back after sharing, unlike in years past.
  8. As cybersecurity threats evolve, we’ll fight AI with AI. Brian Foster, Senior Vice President Product Management at MobileIron, notes that the most successful cyberattacks are executed by highly professional criminal networks that leverage AI and ML to exploit vulnerabilities such as user behavior or security gaps to gain access to valuable business systems and data. All of this makes it extremely hard for IT security organizations to keep up — much less stay ahead of these threats. While an attacker only needs to find one open door in an enterprise’s security, the enterprise must race to lock all of the doors. AI conducts this at a pace and thoroughness human ability can no longer compete with, and businesses will finally take notice in 2020.
  9. AI and machine learning will thwart compromised hardware finding its way into organizations’ supply chains. Rising demand for electronic components will expand the market for counterfeit components and cloned products, increasing the threat of compromised hardware finding its way into organizations’ supply chains. The vectors for hardware supply-chain attacks are expanding as market demand for more and cheaper chips, and components drive a booming business for hardware counterfeiters and cloners. This expansion is likely to create greater opportunities for compromise by both nation-state and cybercriminal threat actors. Source: 2020 Cybersecurity Threats Trends Outlook; Booz, Allen, Hamilton, 2019.
  10. Capgemini predicts 63% of organizations are planning to deploy AI in 2020 to improve cybersecurity, with the most popular application being network security. Capgemini found that nearly one in five organizations were using AI to improve cybersecurity before 2019. In addition to network security, data security, endpoint security, and identity and access management are the highest priority use cases for improving cybersecurity with AI in enterprises today. Source: Capgemini, Reinventing Cybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence: The new frontier in digital security.
10 Predictions How AI Will Improve Cybersecurity In 2020

Source: Capgemini, Reinventing Cybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence: The new frontier in digital security.

How To Excel At Secured Cloud Migrations With A Shared Responsibility Model

How To Excel At Secured Cloud Migrations With A Shared Responsibility Model

  • 60% of security and IT professionals state that security is the leading challenge with cloud migrations, despite not being clear about who is responsible for securing cloud environments.
  • 71% understand that controlling privileged access to cloud service administrative accounts is a critical concern, yet only 53% cite secure access to cloud workloads as a key objective of their cloud Privileged Access Management (PAM) strategies.

These and many other fascinating insights are from the recent Centrify survey, Reducing Risk in Cloud Migrations: Controlling Privileged Access to Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments, downloadable here. The survey is based on a survey of over 700 respondents from the United States, Canada, and the UK from over 50 vertical markets, with technology (21%), finance (14%), education (10%), government (10%) and healthcare (9%) being the top five. For additional details on the methodology, please see page 14 of the study.

What makes this study noteworthy is how it provides a candid, honest assessment of how enterprises can make cloud migrations more secure by a better understanding of who is responsible for securing privileged access to cloud administrative accounts and workloads.

Key insights from the study include the following:

  • Improved speed of IT services delivery (65%) and lowered total cost of ownership (54%) are the two top factors driving cloud migrations today. Additional factors include greater flexibility in responding to market changes (40%), outsourcing IT functions that don’t create competitive differentiation (22%), and increased competitiveness (17%). Reducing time-to-market for new systems and applications is one of the primary catalysts driving cloud migrations today, making it imperative for every organization to build security policies and systems into their cloud initiatives.

How To Excel At Secured Cloud Migrations With A Shared Responsibility Model

 

  • Security is the greatest challenge to cloud migration by a wide margin. 60% of organizations define security as the most significant challenge they face with cloud migrations today. One in three sees the cost of migration (35%) and lack of expertise (30%) being the second and third greatest impediments to cloud migration project succeeding. Organizations are facing constant financial and time constraints to achieve cloud migrations on schedule to support time-to-market initiatives. No organization can afford the lost time and expense of an attempted or successful breach impeding cloud migration progress.

How To Excel At Secured Cloud Migrations With A Shared Responsibility Model

  • 71% of organizations are implementing privileged access controls to manage their cloud services. However, as the privilege becomes more task-, role-, or access-specific, there is a diminishing interest of securing these levels of privileged access as a goal, evidenced by only 53% of organizations securing access to the workloads and containers they have moved to the cloud. The following graphic reflects the results.

How To Excel At Secured Cloud Migrations With A Shared Responsibility Model

 

  • An alarmingly high 60% of organizations incorrectly view the cloud provider as being responsible for securing privileged access to cloud workloads. It’s shocking how many customers of AWS and other public cloud providers are falling for the myth that cloud service providers can completely protect their customized, highly individualized cloud instances. The native Identity and Access Management (IAM) capabilities offered by AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and others provide enough functionality to help an organization get up and running to control access in their respective homogeneous cloud environments. Often they lack the scale to adequately address the more challenging, complex areas of IAM and Privileged Access Management (PAM) in hybrid or multi-cloud environments, however. For an expanded discussion of the Shared Responsibility Model, please see The Truth About Privileged Access Security On AWS and Other Public Clouds. The following is a graphic from the survey and Amazon Web Services’ interpretation of the Shared Responsibility Model.

How To Excel At Secured Cloud Migrations With A Shared Responsibility Model

 

  • Implementing a common security model in the cloud, on-premises, and in hybrid environments is the most proven approach to making cloud migrations more secure. Migrating cloud instances securely needs to start with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), deploying a common privileged access security model equivalent to on-premises and cloud systems, and utilizing enterprise directory accounts for privileged access. These three initial steps set the foundation for implementing least privilege access. It’s been a major challenge for organizations to do this, particularly in cloud environments, as 68% are not eliminating local privilege accounts in favor of federated access controls and are still using root accounts outside of “break glass” scenarios. Even more concerning, 57% are not implementing least privilege access to limit lateral movement and enforce just-enough, just-in-time-access.

How To Excel At Secured Cloud Migrations With A Shared Responsibility Model

  • When it comes to securing access to cloud environments, organizations don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Best practices from securing on-premises data centers and workloads can often be successful in securing privileged access in cloud and hybrid environments as well.

Conclusion

The study provides four key takeaways for anyone working to make cloud migrations more secure. First, all organizations need to understand that privileged access to cloud environments is your responsibility, not your cloud providers’. Second, adopt a modern approach to Privileged Access Management that enforces least privilege, prioritizing “just enough, just-in-time” access. Third, employ a common security model across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments. Fourth and most important, modernize your security approach by considering how cloud-based PAM systems can help to make cloud migrations more secure.

7 Signs It’s Time To Get Focused On Zero Trust

7 Signs It’s Time To Get Focused On Zero Trust

When an experienced hacker can gain access to a company’s accounting and financial systems in 7 minutes or less after obtaining privileged access credentials, according to Ponemon, it’s time to get focused on Zero Trust Security. 2019 is on its way to being a record year for ransomware attacks, which grew 118% in Q1 of this year alone, according to McAfee Labs Threat Report. Data breaches on healthcare providers reached an all-time high in July of this year driven by the demand for healthcare records that range in price from $250 to over $1,000 becoming best-sellers on the Dark Web. Cybercriminals are using AI, bots, machine learning, and social engineering techniques as part of sophisticated, well-orchestrated strategies to gain access to banking, financial services, healthcare systems, and many other industries’ systems today.

Enterprises Need Greater Urgency Around Zero Trust

The escalating severity of cyberattacks and their success rates are proving that traditional approaches to cybersecurity based on “trust but verify” aren’t working anymore. What’s needed is more of a Zero Trust-based approach to managing every aspect of cybersecurity. By definition, Zero Trust is predicated on a “never trust, always verify” approach to access, from inside or outside the network. Enterprises need to begin with a Zero Trust Privilege-based strategy that verifies who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment.

How urgent is it for enterprises to adopt Zero Trust? A recent survey of 2,000 full-time UK workers, completed by Censuswide in collaboration with Centrify, provides seven signs it’s time for enterprises to get a greater sense of urgency regarding their Zero Trust frameworks and initiatives. The seven signs are as follows:

  1. 77% of organizations’ workers admit that they have never received any form of cybersecurity skills training from their employer. In this day and age, it’s mind-blowing that three of every four organizations aren’t providing at least basic cybersecurity training, whether they intend to adopt Zero Trust or not. It’s like freely handing out driver’s licenses to anyone who wants one so they can drive the freeways of Los Angeles or San Francisco. The greater the training, the safer the driver. Likewise, the greater the cybersecurity training, the safer the worker, company and customers they serve.
  2. 69% of employees doubt the cybersecurity processes in place in their organizations today. When the majority of employees don’t trust the security processes in place in an organization, they invent their own, often bringing their favorite security solutions into an enterprise. Shadow IT proliferates, productivity often slows down, and enterprise is more at risk of a breach than ever before. When there’s no governance or structure to managing data, cybercriminals flourish.
  3. 63% of British workers interviewed do not realize that unauthorized access to an email account without the owner’s permission is a criminal offense. It’s astounding that nearly two-thirds of the workers in an organization aren’t aware that unauthorized access to another person’s email account without their permission is a crime. The UK passed into law 30 years ago the Computer Misuse Act. The law was created to protect individuals’ and organizations’ electronic data. The Act makes it a crime to access or modify data stored on a computer without authorization to do so. The penalties are steep for anyone found guilty of gaining access to a computer without permission, starting with up to two years in prison and a £5,000 fine. It’s alarming how high the lack of awareness is of this law, and an urgent call to action to prioritize organization-wide cybersecurity training.
  4. 27% of workers use the same password for multiple accounts. The Consensus survey finds that workers are using identical passwords for their work systems, social media accounts, and both personal and professional e-mail accounts. Cybersecurity training can help reduce this practice, but Zero Trust is badly needed to protect privileged access credentials that may have identical passwords to someone’s Facebook account, for example.
  5. 14% of employees admitted to keeping their passwords recorded in an unsecured handwritten notebook or on their desk in the office.  Organizations need to make it as difficult as possible for bad actors and cybercriminals to gain access to passwords instead of sharing them in handwritten notebooks and on Post-It notes. Any organization with this problem needs to immediately adopt Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) as an additional security measure to ensure compromised passwords don’t lead to unauthorized access. For privileged accounts, use a password vault, which can make handwritten password notes (and shared passwords altogether) obsolete.
  6. 14% do not use multi-factor authentication for apps or services unless forced to do so. Centrify also found that 58% of organizations do not use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for privileged administrative access to servers, leaving their IT systems and infrastructure unsecured. Not securing privileged access credentials with MFA or, at the very least, vaulting them is like handing the keys to the kingdom to cybercriminals going after privileged account access. Securing privileged credentials needs to begin with a Zero Trust-based approach that verifies who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment.
  7. 1 out of every 25 employees hacks into a colleague’s email account without permission. In the UK, this would be considered a violation of the Computer Misuse Act, which has some unfortunate outcomes for those found guilty of violating it. The Censuswide survey also found that one in 20 workers have logged into friend’s Facebook accounts without permission. If you work in an organization of over 1,000 people, for example, 40 people in your company have most likely hacked into a colleague’s email account, opening up your entire company to legal liability.

Conclusion

Leaving cybersecurity to chance and hoping employees will do the right thing isn’t a strategy; it’s an open invitation to get hacked. The Censuswide survey and many others like it reflect a fundamental truth that cybersecurity needs to become part of the muscle memory of any organization to be effective. As traditional IT network perimeters dissolve, enterprises need to replace “trust but verify” with a Zero Trust-based framework. Zero Trust Privilege mandates a “never trust, always verify, enforce least privilege” approach to privileged access, from inside or outside the network. Leaders in this area include Centrify, who combines password vaulting with brokering of identities, multi-factor authentication enforcement, and “just enough” privilege, all while securing remote access and monitoring of all privileged sessions.

Securing Multi-Cloud Manufacturing Systems In A Zero Trust World

Securing Multi-Cloud Manufacturing Systems In A Zero Trust World

Bottom Line: Private equity firms are snapping up manufacturing companies at a quick pace, setting off a merger and acquisition gold rush, while leaving multi-cloud manufacturing systems unprotected in a Zero Trust world.

Securing the Manufacturing Gold Rush of 2019

The intensity private equity (PE) firms have for acquiring and aggregating manufacturing businesses is creating an abundance of opportunities for cybercriminals to breach the resulting businesses. For example, merging formerly independent infrastructures often leads to manufacturers maintaining — at least initially — multiple identity repositories such as Active Directory (AD), which contain privileged access credentials, usernames, roles, groups, entitlements, and more. Identity repository sprawl ultimately contributes to maintenance headaches but, more importantly, security blind spots that are being exploited by threat actors regularly. A contributing factor is a fact that private equity firms rarely have advanced cybersecurity expertise or skills and therefore don’t account for these details in their business integration plans. As a result, they often rely on an outdated “trust but verify” approach, with trusted versus untrusted domains and legacy approaches to identity access management.

The speed PE firms are driving the manufacturing gold rush is creating a sense of urgency to stand up new businesses fast – leaving cybersecurity as an afterthought, if even a consideration at all. Here are several insights from PwC’s Global Industrial Manufacturing Deals Insights, Q2 2019 and Private Equity Trend Report, 2019, Powering Through Uncertainty:

  • 39% of all PE investors rate the industrial manufacturing sector as the most attractive for acquiring and rolling up companies into new businesses.
  •  The manufacturing industry saw a 31% increase in deal value from Q1 2019 to Q2 2019 with industrial manufacturing megadeals driving deal value to $27.4B in Q2, 2019, on 562 deals.
  • Year-to-date North American manufacturing has generated 184 deals worth $15.2B in 2019.
  •  Worldwide and North American cross-sector manufacturing deal volumes increased by 32% and 30% in Q2, 2019 alone.

PE firms are also capitalizing on how many family-run manufacturers are in the midst of a generational change in ownership. Company founders are retiring, and their children, nearly all of whom were raised working on the shop floor, are ready to sell. PE firms need to provide more cybersecurity guidance during these transactions to secure companies in transition. Here’s why:

How To Secure Multi-Cloud Manufacturing Systems in a Zero Trust World

To stop the cybercriminals’ gold rush, merged manufacturing businesses need to take the first step of adopting an approach to secure each acquired company’s identity repositories, whether on-premises or in the cloud. For example, instead of having to reproduce or continue to manage the defined rights and roles for users in each AD, manufacturing conglomerates can better secure their combined businesses using a Multi-Directory Brokering approach.

Multi-Directory Brokering, such as the solution offered by Privileged Access Management provider Centrify, empowers an organization to use its existing or preferred identity directory as a single source of truth across the organization, brokering access based on a single identity rather than having to manage user identities across multiple directories. For example, if an organization using AD acquires an organization using a different identity repository or has multiple cloud platforms, it can broker access across the environment no matter where the “master” identity for an individual exists. This is particularly important when it comes to privileged access to critical systems and data, as “identity sprawl” can leave gaping holes to be exploited by bad actors.

Multi-Directory Brokering is public cloud-agnostic, making it possible to support Windows and Linux instances in one or multiple Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms to secure multi-cloud manufacturing systems. The following diagram illustrates how Multi-Directory Brokering scales to support multi-cloud manufacturing systems that often rely on hybrid multi-cloud configurations.

Manufacturers who are the most negatively impacted by the trade wars are redesigning and re-routing their supply chains to eliminate tariffs, so they don‘t have to raise their prices. Multi-cloud manufacturing systems are what they’re relying on to accomplish that. The future of their business will be heavily reliant upon how well they can secure the multi-cloud configurations of their systems. That’s why Multi-Directory Brokering makes so much sense for manufacturers today, especially those looking for an exit strategy with a PE firm.

The PE firms driving the merger and acquisition (M&A) frenzy in specific sectors of manufacturing need to take a closer look at how Identity and Access Management (IAM) is being implemented in the manufacturing conglomerates they are creating. With manufacturing emerging as a hot industry for PE, M&A, and data breaches, it’s time to move beyond replicating Active Directories and legacy approaches to IAM. One of the most important aspects of a successful acquisition is enabling administrators, developers, and operations teams to access systems securely, without massive incremental cost, effort, and complexity.

Conclusion

The manufacturing gold rush for PE firms doesn’t have to be one for cybercriminals as well. PE firms and the manufacturing companies they are snapping up need to pay more attention to cybersecurity during the initial integration phases of combining operations, including how they manage identities and access. Cybercriminals and bad actors both within and outside the merged companies are lying in wait, looking for easy-exploitable gaps to exfiltrate sensitive data for monetary gain, or in an attempt to thwart the new company’s success.

Sources:

Global industrial manufacturing deals insights: Q2 2019, PwC, 2019. A PDF of the study is accessible here (6 pp., no opt-in).

Private Equity Trend Report, 2019, Powering Through Uncertainty, PwC, February 2019, 80 pp., PDF, no opt-in.

Why Manufacturing Supply Chains Need Zero Trust

  • According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, manufacturing has been experiencing an increase in financially motivated breaches in the past couple of years, whereby most breaches involve Phishing and the use of stolen credentials.
  • 50% of manufacturers report experiencing a breach over the last 12 months, 11% of which were severe according to Sikich’s 5th Manufacturing and Distribution Survey, 2019.
  • Manufacturing’s most commonly data compromised includes credentials (49%), internal operations data (41%), and company secrets (36%) according to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report.
  • Manufacturers’ supply chains and logistics partners targeted by ransomware which have either had to cease operations temporarily to restore operations from backup or have chosen to pay the ransom include Aebi SchmidtASCO Industries, and COSCO Shipping Lines.

Small Suppliers Are A Favorite Target, Ask A.P. Møller-Maersk

Supply chains are renowned for how unsecured and porous they are multiple layers deep. That’s because manufacturers often only password-protect administrator access privileges for trusted versus untrusted domains at the operating system level of Windows NT Server, haven’t implemented multi-factor authentication (MFA), and apply a trust but verify mindset only for their top suppliers. Many manufacturers don’t define, and much less enforce, supplier security past the first tier of their supply chains, leaving the most vulnerable attack vectors unprotected.

It’s the smaller suppliers that hackers exploit to bring down many of the world’s largest manufacturing companies. An example of this is how an accounting software package from a small supplier, Linkos Group, was infected with a powerful ransomware agent, NotPetya, bringing one of the world’s leading shipping providers,  A.P. Møller-Maersk, to a standstill. Linkos’ Group accounting software was first installed in the A.P. Møller-Maersk offices in Ukraine. The NotPetya ransomware was able to take control of the local office servers then propagate itself across the entire A.P. Møller-Maersk network. A.P. Møller-Maersk had to reinstall their 4,000 servers, 45,000 PCs, and 2500 applications, and the damages were between $250M to $300M. Security experts consider the ransomware attack on A.P. Møller-Maersk to be one of the most devastating cybersecurity attacks in history. The Ukraine-based group of hackers succeeded in using an accounting software update from one of A.P. Møller-Maersk’s smallest suppliers to bring down one of the world’s largest shipping networks. My recent post, How To Deal With Ransomware In A Zero Trust World explains how taking a Zero Trust Privilege approach minimizes the risk of falling victim to ransomware attacks. Ultimately, treating identity as the new security perimeter needs to be how supply chains are secured. The following geographical analysis of the attack was provided by CargoSmart, showing how quickly NotPetya ransomware can spread through a global network:

CargoSmart provided a Vessel Monitoring Dashboard to monitor vessels during this time of recovery from the cyber attack.

Supply Chains Need To Treat Every Supplier In Their Network As A New Security Perimeter

The more integrated a supply chain, the more the potential for breaches and ransomware attacks. And in supply chains that rely on privileged access credentials, it’s a certainty that hackers outside the organization and even those inside will use compromised credentials for financial gain or disrupt operations. Treating every supplier and their integration points in the network as a new security perimeter is critical if manufacturers want to be able to maintain operations in an era of accelerating cybersecurity threats.

Taking a Zero Trust Privilege approach to securing privileged access credentials will help alleviate the leading cause of breaches in manufacturing today, which is privileged access abuse. By taking a “never trust, always verify, and enforce least privilege” approach, manufacturers can protect the “keys to the kingdom,” which are the credentials hackers exploit to take control over an entire supply chain network.

Instead of relying on trust but verify or trusted versus untrusted domains at the operating system level, manufacturers need to have a consistent security strategy that scales from their largest to smallest suppliers. Zero Trust Privilege could have saved A.P. Møller-Maersk from being crippled by a ransomware attack by making it a prerequisite that every supplier must have ZTP-based security guardrails in place to do business with them.

Conclusion

Among the most porous and easily compromised areas of manufacturing, supply chains are the lifeblood of any production business, yet also the most vulnerable. As hackers become more brazen in their ransomware attempts with manufacturers and privileged access credentials are increasingly sold on the Dark Web, manufacturers need a sense of urgency to combat these threats. Taking a Zero Trust approach to securing their supply chains and operations, helps manufacturers to implement least privilege access based on verifying who is requesting access, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment. By implementing least privilege access, manufacturers can minimize the attack surface, improve audit and compliance visibility, and reduce risk, complexity, and costs for the modern, hybrid manufacturing enterprise.

The Truth About Privileged Access Security On AWS And Other Public Clouds

 

Bottom Line: Amazon’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) centralizes identity roles, policies and Config Rules yet doesn’t go far enough to provide a Zero Trust-based approach to Privileged Access Management (PAM) that enterprises need today.

AWS provides a baseline level of support for Identity and Access Management at no charge as part of their AWS instances, as do other public cloud providers. Designed to provide customers with the essentials to support IAM, the free version often doesn’t go far enough to support PAM at the enterprise level. To AWS’s credit, they continue to invest in IAM features while fine-tuning how Config Rules in their IAM can create alerts using AWS Lambda. AWS’s native IAM can also integrate at the API level to HR systems and corporate directories, and suspend users who violate access privileges.

In short, native IAM capabilities offered by AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and more provides enough functionality to help an organization get up and running to control access in their respective homogeneous cloud environments. Often they lack the scale to fully address the more challenging, complex areas of IAM and PAM in hybrid or multi-cloud environments.

The Truth about Privileged Access Security on Cloud Providers Like AWS

The essence of the Shared Responsibility Model is assigning responsibility for the security of the cloud itself including the infrastructure, hardware, software, and facilities to AWS and assign the securing of operating systems, platforms, and data to customers. The AWS version of the Shared Responsibility Model, shown below, illustrates how Amazon has defined securing the data itself, management of the platform, applications and how they’re accessed, and various configurations as the customers’ responsibility:

AWS provides basic IAM support that protects its customers against privileged credential abuse in a homogenous AWS-only environment. 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.

The following are the four truths about privileged access security on AWS (and, generally, other public cloud providers):

  1. Customers of AWS and other public cloud providers should not fall for the myth that cloud service providers can completely protect their customized and highly individualized cloud instances. As the Shared Responsibility Model above illustrates, AWS secures the core areas of their cloud platform, including infrastructure and hosting services. AWS customers are responsible for securing operating systems, platforms, and data and most importantly, privileged access credentials. Organizations need to consider the Shared Responsibility Model the starting point on creating an enterprise-wide security strategy with a Zero Trust Security framework being the long-term goal. AWS’s IAM is an interim solution to the long-term challenge of achieving Zero Trust Privilege across an enterprise ecosystem that is going to become more hybrid or multi-cloud as time goes on.
  2. Despite what many AWS integrators say, adopting a new cloud platform doesn’t require a new Privileged Access Security model. Many organizations who have adopted AWS and other cloud platforms are using the same Privileged Access Security Model they have in place for their existing on-premises systems. The truth is the same Privileged Access Security Model can be used for on-premises and IaaS implementations. Even AWS itself has stated that conventional security and compliance concepts still apply in the cloud. For an overview of the most valuable best practices for securing AWS instances, please see my previous post, 6 Best Practices For Increasing Security In AWS In A Zero Trust World.
  3. Hybrid cloud architectures that include AWS instances don’t need an entirely new identity infrastructure and can rely on advanced technologies, including Multi-Directory Brokering. Creating duplicate identities increases cost, risk, and overhead and the burden of requiring additional licenses. Existing directories (such as Active Directory) can be extended through various deployment options, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Centrify, for example, offers Multi-Directory Brokering to use whatever preferred directory already exists in an organization to authenticate users in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. And while AWS provides key pairs for access to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, their security best practices recommend a holistic approach should be used across on-premises and multi-cloud environments, including Active Directory or LDAP in the security architecture.
  4. It’s possible to scale existing Privileged Access Management systems in use for on-premises systems today to hybrid cloud platforms that include AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and other platforms. There’s a tendency on the part of system integrators specializing in cloud security to oversell cloud service providers’ native IAM and PAM capabilities, saying that a hybrid cloud strategy requires separate systems. Look for system integrators and experienced security solutions providers who can use a common security model already in place to move workloads to new AWS instances.

Conclusion

The truth is that Identity and Access Management solutions built into public cloud offerings such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud are stop-gap solutions to a long-term security challenge many organizations are facing today. Instead of relying only on a public cloud provider’s IAM and security solutions, every organization’s cloud security goals need to include a holistic approach to identity and access management and not create silos for each cloud environment they are using. While AWS continues to invest in their IAM solution, organizations need to prioritize protecting their privileged access credentials – the “keys to the kingdom” – that if ever compromised would allow hackers to walk in the front door of the most valuable systems an organization has. The four truths defined in this article are essential for building a Zero Trust roadmap for any organization that will scale with them as they grow. By taking a “never trust, always verify, enforce least privilege” strategy when it comes to their hybrid- and multi-cloud strategies, organizations can alleviate costly breaches that harm the long-term operations of any business.

Your Mobile Phone Is Your Identity. How Do You Protect It?

 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 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: Conclusion 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. Not integrating mobile phone platforms and protecting them with a Zero Trust Security (ZTS) framework can add up to $240K to the cost of a breach. Companies working to bridge the gap between the need for securing mobile devices with ZTS frameworks include MobileIron, which has created a mobile-centric, zero-trust enterprise security framework. There’s a significant amount of innovation happening with Identity Access Management that thwarts privileged account abuse, which is the leading cause of breaches today. Centrify’s most recent survey, Privileged Access Management in the Modern Threatscape, found that 74% of all breaches involved access to a privileged account. Privileged access credentials are hackers’ most popular technique for initiating a breach to exfiltrate valuable data from enterprise systems and sell it on the Dark Web.

  • 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:

Conclusion

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.

Not integrating mobile phone platforms and protecting them with a Zero Trust Security (ZTS) framework can add up to $240K to the cost of a breach. Companies working to bridge the gap between the need for securing mobile devices with ZTS frameworks include MobileIron, which has created a mobile-centric, zero-trust enterprise security framework. There’s a significant amount of innovation happening with Identity Access Management that thwarts privileged account abuse, which is the leading cause of breaches today. Centrify’s most recent survey, Privileged Access Management in the Modern Threatscape, found that 74% of all breaches involved access to a privileged account. Privileged access credentials are hackers’ most popular technique for initiating a breach to exfiltrate valuable data from enterprise systems and sell it on the Dark Web.

How To Deal With Ransomware In A Zero Trust World

  • Lake City, Florida’s city government paid ransomware attackers about $530,000 or 42 Bitcoins, to restore access to systems and data last month.
  • The City of Riviera Beach, Florida, paid ransomware attackers about $600,000 to regain access to their systems last month.
  • Earlier this month, LaPorte County, Indiana paid over $130,000 worth of Bitcoins to ransomware hackers to regain access to part of its computer systems.
  • This week, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards activated a state of emergency in response to a wave of ransomware infections that have hit multiple school districts in North Louisiana.

The recent ransomware attacks on Lake City, FloridaRiviera Beach, FloridaLaPorte County, Indiana, the City of Baltimore, Maryland, and a diverse base of enterprises including Eurofins ScientificCOSCONorsk Hydro, the UK Police Federation, and Aebi Schmidt reflect higher ransoms are being demanded than in the past to release high-value systems. There’s been a 44% decline in the number of organizations affected by ransomware in the past two years, yet an 89% increase in ransom demands over the last 12 months according to the Q1, 2019 Ransomware Marketplace Report published by Coveware. The Wall Street Journal’s article “How Ransomware Attacks Are Forcing Big Payments From Cities, Counties” provides an excellent overview of how Ryuk, a ransomware variant, works and is being used to hold unprepared municipalities’ IT networks for ransom.

How To Handle A Ransomware Attack

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Conclusion

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.

Why AI Is The Future Of Cybersecurity

These and many other insights are from Capgemini’s Reinventing Cybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence Report published this week. You can download the report here (28 pp., PDF, free, no opt-in). Capgemini Research Institute surveyed 850 senior executives from seven industries, including consumer products, retail, banking, insurance, automotive, utilities, and telecom. 20% of the executive respondents are CIOs, and 10% are CISOs. Enterprises headquartered in France, Germany, the UK, the US, Australia, the Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, and Sweden are included in the report. Please see page 21 of the report for a description of the methodology.

Capgemini found that as digital businesses grow, their risk of cyberattacks exponentially increases. 21% said their organization experienced a cybersecurity breach leading to unauthorized access in 2018. Enterprises are paying a heavy price for cybersecurity breaches: 20% report losses of more than $50 million. Centrify’s most recent survey, Privileged Access Management in the Modern Threatscape, found that 74% of all breaches involved access to a privileged account. Privileged access credentials are hackers’ most popular technique for initiating a breach to exfiltrate valuable data from enterprise systems and sell it on the Dark Web.

Key insights include the following:

  • 69% of enterprises believe AI will be necessary to respond to cyberattacks. The majority of telecom companies (80%) say they are counting on AI to help identify threats and thwart attacks. Capgemini found the telecom industry has the highest reported incidence of losses exceeding $50M, making AI a priority for thwarting costly breaches in that industry. It’s understandable by Consumer Products (78%), and Banking (75%) are 2nd and 3rd given each of these industry’s growing reliance on digitally-based business models. U.S.-based enterprises are placing the highest priority on AI-based cybersecurity applications and platforms, 15% higher than the global average when measured on a country basis.

  • 73% of enterprises are testing use cases for AI for cybersecurity across their organizations today with network security leading all categories. Endpoint security the 3rd-highest priority for investing in AI-based cybersecurity solutions given the proliferation of endpoint devices, which are expected to increase to over 25B by 2021. Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors and systems they enable are exponentially increasing the number of endpoints and threat surfaces an enterprise needs to protect. The old “trust but verify” approach to enterprise security can’t keep up with the pace and scale of threatscape growth today. Identities are the new security perimeter, and they require a Zero Trust Security framework to be secure. Be sure to follow Chase Cunningham of Forrester, Principal Analyst, and the leading authority on Zero Trust Security to keep current on this rapidly changing area. You can find his blog here.

  • 51% of executives are making extensive AI for cyber threat detection, outpacing prediction, and response by a wide margin. Enterprise executives are concentrating their budgets and time on detecting cyber threats using AI above predicting and responding. As enterprises mature in their use and adoption of AI as part of their cybersecurity efforts, prediction and response will correspondingly increase. “AI tools are also getting better at drawing on data sets of wildly different types, allowing the “bigger picture” to be put together from, say, static configuration data, historic local logs, global threat landscapes, and contemporaneous event streams,” said Nicko van Someren, Chief Technology Officer at Absolute Software.

  • 64% say that AI lowers the cost to detect and respond to breaches and reduces the overall time taken to detect threats and breaches up to 12%. The reduction in cost for a majority of enterprises ranges from 1% – 15% (with an average of 12%). With AI, the overall time taken to detect threats and breaches is reduced by up to 12%. Dwell time – the amount of time threat actors remain undetected – drops by 11% with the use of AI. This time reduction is achieved by continuously scanning for known or unknown anomalies that show threat patterns. PetSmart, a US-based specialty retailer, was able to save up to $12M by using AI in fraud detection from Kount. By partnering with Kount, PetSmart was able to implement an AI/Machine Learning technology that aggregates millions of transactions and their outcomes. The technology determines the legitimacy of each transaction by comparing it against all other transactions received. As fraudulent orders were identified, they were canceled, saving the company money and avoiding damage to the brand. The top 9 ways Artificial Intelligence prevents fraud provides insights into how Kount’s approach to unsupervised and supervised machine learning stops fraud.

  • Fraud detection, malware detection, intrusion detection, scoring risk in a network, and user/machine behavioral analysis are the five highest AI use cases for improving cybersecurity. Capgemini analyzed 20 use cases across information technology (IT), operational technology (OT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) and ranked them according to their implementation complexity and resultant benefits (in terms of time reduction). Based on their analysis, we recommend a shortlist of five high-potential use cases that have low complexity and high benefits. 54% of enterprises have already implemented five high impact cases. The following graphic compares the recommended use cases by the level of benefit and relative complexity.

  • 56% of senior execs say their cybersecurity analysts are overwhelmed and close to a quarter (23%) are not able to successfully investigate all identified incidents. Capgemini found that hacking organizations are successfully using algorithms to send ‘spear phishing’ tweets (personalized tweets sent to targeted users to trick them into sharing sensitive information). AI can send the tweets six times faster than a human and with twice the success. “It’s no surprise that Capgemini’s data shows that security analysts are overwhelmed. The cybersecurity skills shortage has been growing for some time, and so have the number and complexity of attacks; using machine learning to augment the few available skilled people can help ease this. What’s exciting about the state of the industry right now is that recent advances in Machine Learning methods are poised to make their way into deployable products,” said Nicko van Someren, Chief Technology Officer at Absolute Software.

Conclusion

AI and machine learning are redefining every aspect of cybersecurity today. From improving organizations’ ability to anticipate and thwart breaches, protecting the proliferating number of threat surfaces with Zero Trust Security frameworks to making passwords obsolete, AI and machine learning are essential to securing the perimeters of any business.  One of the most vulnerable and fastest-growing threat surfaces are mobile phones. The two recent research reports from MobileIronSay Goodbye to Passwords (4 pp., PDF, opt-in) in collaboration with IDG, and Passwordless Authentication: Bridging the Gap Between High-Security and Low-Friction Identity Management (34 pp., PDF, opt-in) by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) provide fascinating insights into the passwordless future. They reflect and quantify how ready enterprises are to abandon passwords for more proven authentication techniques including biometrics and mobile-centric Zero Trust Security platform.

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