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Shadow IT Is The Cybersecurity Threat That Keeps Giving All Year Long

Shadow IT Is The Cybersecurity Threat That Keeps Giving All Year Long

  • More than 5,000 personal devices connect to enterprise networks every day with little or no endpoint security enabled in one of every three companies in the U.S., U.K., and Germany.
  • More than 1,000 shadow IoT devices connect to enterprise networks every day in 30% of the U.S., U.K., and German companies.
  • 12% of U.K. organizations are seeing more than 10,000 shadow IoT devices connect to their enterprise networks every day.
  • Associates most often use shadow IT devices to access social media (39%), followed by downloading apps (24%), games (13%), and films (7%). Hackers, organized crime and state-sponsored cybercrime organizations rely on social engineering hacks, phishing, and malware injection across these four popular areas to gain access to enterprise networks and exfiltrate data.

Shadow personal IoT voice assistants, Amazon Kindles, smartphone, and tablet devices are proliferating across enterprise networks today, accelerated by last-minute shopping everyone is trying to get done before the end of December. 82% of organizations have introduced security policies governing the use of these devices but just 24% of employees are aware of them. Meanwhile, the majority of IT senior management, 88%, believe their policies are effective. These and many other fascinating insights are from a recent study completed by Infoblox titled, What is Lurking on Your Network, Exposing the threat of shadow devices (PDF, 7 pp., no opt-in).

Shadow IT’s Security Gaps Create New Opportunities For Hackers

Gaps in threat surface and endpoint security are what hackers, organized crime, and state-sponsored cybercrime organizations thrive on. The holidays create new opportunities for these organizations to capitalize on security gaps using social engineering hacks, phishing, malware injection and more. “With cybercriminals increasingly exploiting vulnerable devices, as well as targeting employees’ insecure usage of these devices, it is crucial for enterprise IT teams to discover what’s lurking on their networks and actively defend against the threats introduced,” Gary Cox, Technology Director, Western Europe for Infoblox said. Just a few of the many threats include the following:

  • A quick on-ramp for hackers to exfiltrate data from enterprise systems. Every personal device left unprotected on an enterprise network is an ideal threat surface for hackers and other malicious actors to infiltrate an enterprise network from. The most common technique is to use DNS tunneling, which enables cybercriminals to insert malware or pass stolen information into DNS queries, creating a covert communication channel that bypasses most firewalls. Project Sauron was one particularly advanced threat, which allegedly went undetected for five years at a number of organizations that used DNS tunneling for data exfiltration.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are often launched from a series of hijacked connected devices that are often the least protected threat surface on corporate networks. It’s common for DDoS attacks to begin with malicious actors hijacking any vulnerable device they can to launch repeated and frequent queries that bombard the Domain Name Server (DNS) with the intent of slowing down its ability to process legitimate queries, often to the point that it can no longer function.
  • Creating and targeting Botnet armies using vulnerable IoT devices to attack organizations’ enterprise systems is increasing, according to Verizon’s latest 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report. “Botnets are truly a low-effort attack that knows no boundaries and brings attackers either direct revenue through financial account,” according to Verizon’s 2019 study. Botnets are also being used to steal privileged access credentials to an enterprises’ systems that are being accessed from the same personal devices employees are using for social media access and shopping. There have been over 40,000 breaches initiated using botnets this year so far, according to Verizon. The report notes that a variant of the Mirai IoT botnet began scanning for vulnerable Drupal servers in April of this year and was successful in finding the most vulnerable systems globally to install crypto mining software. The attack is known as Drupalgeddon2, and the scope of its vulnerabilities are still being discovered today.
  • Unsecured personal devices connected to enterprise networks are ransomware landing zones. 70% of all malware attacks happen in healthcare according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report because patient health records are bestsellers on the Dark Web, ranging in price from $250 to over $1,000 per record. Ransomware is a form of malware that, once it takes over a computer or network, threatens to deny access to or destroy an organizations’ data. Ransomware can easily intercept an enterprise network after being accidentally downloaded by an employee on either a business or personal device connected to a network.

Where To Start: Secure The Networks Shadow IT Relies On

Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) have told me that the most challenging aspect of securing the proliferation of shadow IT devices is protecting the multitude of remote locations that together form their distributed networks. They’re saying that in 2020, enabling network security is the greatest challenge their enterprises will face. More enterprises are adopting cloud-based DDI platforms that enable enterprises to simplify the management of highly distributed remote networks as well as to optimize the network performance of cloud-based applications. Leaders in this area include Infoblox, a leader in SD-WAN and cloud-based DDI platforms for enterprises. Here are the most common strategies they’re relying on to secure their distributed networks based on the proliferation of personal devices:

  • Integrating threat intelligence data to evaluate if specific sites and applications are high risk or not. IT administrators need to deploy solutions that allow them to build safeguards that will prevent potential dangerous activity occurring on the network. Integrating threat intelligence data into DNS management enables security teams to monitor and prevent access to Newly Observed Domains. Many new domains will be set up ahead of phishing and/or spear-phishing campaign, so in preventing access to these sites, organizations can reduce the risk of employees accidentally introducing malware through clicking through to insecure links on personal devices connected to the enterprise network.
  • Set the goal of achieving full visibility across distributed networks by starting with a plan that considers cloud-based DDI platforms. CISOs and the IT teams working with them need to translate their policies into action by achieving more unified visibility by upgrading their core network services, including DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, on cloud-based DDI platforms to bring greater security scale and reliability across their enterprise networks.
  • Design in greater DNS security at the network level. Enterprise networks are heavily reliant on DNS, making them an area malicious actors attempt to disrupt in their broader efforts to exfiltrate valuable data from organizations. Existing security controls, such as firewalls and proxies, rarely focus on DNS and associated threats – leaving organizations vulnerable to highly aggressive, rapidly proliferating attacks. When secured, the DNS can act as an organization’s first line of defense. The DNS can provide essential context and visibility, so IT teams can be alerted of any network anomalies, report on what devices are joining and leaving the network, and resolve problems faster.

Conclusion

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives’ benefits far outweigh the costs, making the business case for BYOD overwhelming positive, as seen in how financial services firms stay secure.  Enterprises need to consider adopting a cloud-based DDI platform approach that enables them to simplify the management of highly distributed remote networks as well as to optimize the network performance of cloud-based applications. Many CISOs are beginning to realize the model of relying on centralized IT security isn’t scaling to support and protect the proliferation of user devices with internet access, leaving employees, branch offices, and corporate networks less secure than ever before. Every IT architect, IT Director, or CIO needs to consider how taking an SDWAN-based approach to network management reduces the risk of a breach and data exfiltration.

 

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.

Three Reasons Why Killing Passwords Improves Your Cloud Security

Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account getting hacked by having his telephone number transferred to another account without his knowledge is a wake-up call to everyone of how vulnerable mobile devices are. The hackers relied on SIM swapping and convincing Dorsey’s telecom provider to bypass requiring a passcode to modify his account. With the telephone number transferred, the hackers accessed the Twitter founder’s account. If the telecom provider had adopted zero trust at the customer’s mobile device level, the hack would have never happened.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Conclusion

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.

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