Tuesday, 12 March 2019

e-Crime & Cybersecurity Congress: Cloud Security Fundamentals

I was a panellist at the e-Crime & Cybersecurity Congress last week, the discussion was titled 'What's happening to your business? Cloud security, new business metrics and future risks and priorities for 2019 and beyond", a recap of the points I made.
Cloud is the 'Default Model' for Business
Cloud is now the default model for IT services in the UK; cloud ticks all the efficiency boxes successful business continually craves. Indeed, the 'scales of economy' benefits are not just most cost-effective and more agile IT services, but also include better cybersecurity (by the major cloud service providers), even for the largest of enterprises. It is not the CISO's role to challenge the business' cloud service mitigation, which is typically part of a wider digital transformation strategy, but to ensure cloud services are delivered and managed to legal, regulatory and client security requirements, and in satisfaction of the board's risk appetite, given they ultimately own the cybersecurity risk, which is an operational business risk.

There are security pitfalls with cloud services, the marketing gloss of 'the cloud' should not distract security professionals into assuming IT security will be delivered as per the shiny sales brochure, as after all, cloud service providers should be considered and assessed in the same way as any other traditional third-party IT supplier to the business.

Cloud Security should not be an afterthought

It is essential for security to be baked into a new cloud services design, requirements determination, and in the procurement process. In particular, defining and documenting the areas of security responsibility with the intended cloud service provider.

Cloud does not absolve the business of their security responsibilities

All cloud service models, whether the standard models of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS), always involve three areas of security responsibilities to define and document:
  • Cloud Service Provider Owned
  • Business Owned
  • Shared (Cloud Service Provider & Business)
For example with a PaaS model, the business is fully responsible for application deployment onto the cloud platform, and therefore the security of applications. The cloud service provider is responsible for the security of the physical infrastructure, network and operating system layers. The example of the 'shared' responsibility with this model, are the processes in providing and managing privileged operating system accounts within the cloud environment.

Regardless of the cloud model, data is always the responsibility of the business.


A "Trust but Verify" approach should be taken with cloud service providers when assuring the security controls they are responsible for. Where those security responsibilities are owned by or shared with the cloud service provider, ensure the specific controls and processes are detailed within a contract or in a supporting agreement as service deliverables, then oversight the controls and processes through regular assessments.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Learning from the Big Data Breaches of 2018

Guest article by Cybersecurity Professionals

What can we learn from the major data breaches of 2018?
2018 was a major year for cybersecurity. With the introduction of GDPR, the public’s awareness of their cyber identities has vastly increased – and the threat of vulnerability along with it. The Information Commissioner’s Office received an increased number of complaints this year and the news was filled with reports of multi-national and multi-millionaire businesses suffering dramatic breaches at the hand of cybercriminals.

2018 Data Breaches
Notable breaches last year include:

5. British Airways
The card details of 380,000 customers were left vulnerable after a hack affected bookings on BA’s website and app. The company insists that no customer’s card details have been used illegally but they are expected to suffer a major loss of money in revenue and fines as a result of the attack.

4. T-Mobile
Almost 2 million users had their personal data, including billing information and email addresses accessed through an API by an international group of hackers last August.

3. Timehop
A vulnerability in the app’s cloud computing account meant that the names and contact details of 21 million users were affected on Timehop. The company assured users that memories were only shared on the day and deleted after, meaning that the hackers were not able to access their Facebook and Twitter history.

2. Facebook & Cambridge Analytica
One of the most sensationalised news stories of the last year, Facebook suffered a string of scandals after it was released that analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had used the Facebook profile data of 87 million users in an attempt to influence President Trump’s campaign and potentially aid the Vote Leave campaign in the UK-EU referendum.

1. Quora
After a “malicious third party” accessed Quora’s system, the account information, including passwords, names and email addresses, of 100 million users was compromised. The breach was discovered in November 2018.

GDPR
As the UK made the switch from the Data Protection Act to GDPR, businesses and internet users across the country suddenly became more aware of their internet identities and their rights pertaining to how businesses handled their information.

With the responsibility now firmly on the business to protect the data of UK citizens, companies are expected to keep a much higher standard of security in order to protect all personal data of their clients.

How many complaints to the ICO?
Elizabeth Denham, the UK’s Information Commissioner, said that the year 2017-18 was ‘one of increasing activity and challenging actions, some unexpected, for the office’.

This is shown in an increase in data protection complaints by 15%, as well as an increase in self-reported breaches by 30%. Since this is the first year of GDPR, it is expected that self-reported breaches have increased as businesses work to insure themselves against much higher fines for putting off their announcement.

The ICO also reports 19 criminal prosecutions and 18 convictions last year and fines totalling £1.29 million for serious security failures under the Data Protection Act 1998. The office has assured that they don’t intend to make an example of firms reporting data breaches in the early period of GDPR but as time goes on, leniency is likely to fade as businesses settle into the higher standards.

What does it mean for SMEs?
With 36% of SMEs having no cybersecurity plan, the general consensus is that they make for unpopular targets. However, with the GDPR, the responsibility is on the business to protect their data so being vulnerable could result in business-destroying costs. Considering the cost to businesses could total the higher of 2% of annual turnover or €10 million, data protection is of paramount importance to small businesses.

How exposed are we in the UK?
At 31%, our vulnerability rating is higher than the Netherlands, Germany, Estonia (30%) and Finland (29%), but the UK is a more likely target for cybercriminals looking to exploit high tech and financial services industries, which are some of the most vulnerable across Great Britain.

Despite a higher level of vulnerability, the UK has one of the largest cyber security talent pools, showing there is time and manpower being dedicated to the protection of our data online.

https://www.cybersecurity-professionals.com/blog/2019/03/01/cybercrime-in-the-uk-infographic/

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Deriving value from the MITRE ATT&CK Threat Model

The MITRE ATT&CK knowledge base continues to gain traction as the defacto source for supporting business threat assessing, developing proactive cybersecurity and cyber resilience strategies. ATT&CK provides a defined understanding of the adversaries, their associated tactics, their techniques and procedures (TTPs). The ATT&CK comprehensive knowledge base of adversary tactics and techniques has been built up using real-world observations and is freely available to use. 
There are many ways in which organisations can benefit from ATT&CK, often dependant on an organisation's security capabilities and the general security maturity. Steve Rivers, Technical Director International at ThreatQuotient has written guidance on the MITRE ATT&CK stages of maturity, so that any organisation can derive value from it.

MITRE ATT&CK Framework: Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer

Steve Rivers, Technical Director International at ThreatQuotient

So, how can you get started and use the framework? Nearly every organisation is interested in using MITRE ATT&CK, but they have different views on how it should be adopted based the capabilities of their security operations. We need to make sure that the MITRE ATT&CK framework doesn’t become another source of threat data that is not fully utilised, or a passing fad, or a tool that only the most sophisticated security operations teams can apply effectively. To avoid this fate, we must look at ways to map the framework to stages of maturity so that every organisation can derive value. Here are a few examples of how to use the framework with appropriate use cases as maturity levels evolve.

Stage 1: Reference and Data Enrichment

The MITRE ATT&CK framework contains a tremendous amount of data that could potentially be valuable to any organisation. The MITRE ATT&CK Navigator provides a matrix view of all the techniques so that security analysts can see what techniques an adversary might apply to infiltrate their organisation. To more easily consume this data, a good place to start is with tools that make that data easy to access and share across teams. This may be through an enrichment tool or a platform with a centralised threat library that allows a user to aggregate the data and easily search for adversary profiles to get answers to questions like: Who is this adversary? What techniques and tactics are they using? What mitigations can I apply? Security analysts can use the data from the framework as a detailed source of reference to manually enrich their analysis of events and alerts, inform their investigations and determine the best actions to take depending on relevance and sightings within their environment.

Stage 2: Indicator or Event-driven Response

Building on the ability to reference and understand MITRE ATT&CK data, in Stage 2 security teams incorporate capabilities in the platform within their operational workflows that allow them to apply a degree of action to the data more effectively. For example, with the data ingested in a centralised threat library, they can build relationships between that data automatically without having to form those relationships manually. By automatically correlating events and associated indicators from inside the environment (from sources including the security information and event management (SIEM) system, log management repository, case management systems and security infrastructure) with indicators from the MITRE ATT&CK framework, they gain the context to immediately understand the who, what, where, when, why and how of an attack. They can then automatically prioritise based on relevance to their organisation and determine high-risk indicators of compromise (IOCs) to investigate within their environment. With the ability to use ATT&CK data in a more simple and automated manner, security teams can investigate and respond to incidents and push threat intelligence to sensors for detection and hunt for threats more effectively.

Stage 3: Proactive Tactic or Technique-driven Threat Hunting
At this stage, threat hunting teams can pivot from searching for indicators to taking advantage of the full breadth of ATT&CK data. Instead of narrowly focusing on more targeted pieces of data that appear to be suspicious, threat hunting teams can use the platform to start from a higher vantage point with information on adversaries and associated TTPs. They can take a proactive approach, beginning with the organisation’s risk profile, mapping those risks to specific adversaries and their tactics, drilling down to techniques those adversaries are using and then investigating if related data have been identified in the environment. For example, they may be concerned with APT28 and can quickly answer questions including: What techniques do they apply? Have I seen potential IOCs or possible related system events in my organisation? Are my endpoint technologies detecting those techniques?

The success of MITRE ATT&CK will depend on how easy it is to apply effectively. With an understanding of maturity levels and use cases, and the ability for technologies to support security operations teams at whatever stage they are in, organisations will be able to use the framework to their advantage. As their desire and capabilities to use the data evolve and grow, they’ll be able to dig deeper into the MITRE ATT&CK framework and gain even greater value.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Cyber Security Roundup for February 2019

The perceived threat posed by Huawei to the UK national infrastructure continued to make the headlines throughout February, as politicians, UK government agencies and the Chinese telecoms giant continued to play out their rather public spat in the media. See my post Is Huawei a Threat to UK National Security? for further details. And also, why DDoS might be the greater threat to 5G than Huawei supplied network devices.

February was a rather quiet month for hacks and data breaches in the UK, Mumsnet reported a minor data breach following a botched upgrade, and that was about it. The month was a busy one for security updates, with Microsoft, Adobe and Cisco all releasing high numbers of patches to fix various security vulnerabilities, including several released outside of their scheduled monthly patch release cycles.

A survey by PCI Pal concluded the consequences of a data breach had a greater impact in the UK than the United States, in that UK customers were more likely to abandon a company when let down by a data breach. The business reputational impact should always be taken into consideration when risk assessing security.


Another survey of interest was conducted by Nominet, who polled 408 Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) at midsize and large organisations in the UK and the United States. A whopping 91% of the respondents admitted to experiencing high to moderate levels of stress, with 26% saying the stress had led to mental and physical health issues, and 17% said they had turned to alcohol. The contributing factors for this stress were job security, inadequate budget and resources, and a lack of support from the board and senior management. A CISO role can certainly can be a poisoned-chalice, so its really no surprise most CISOs don't stay put for long.

A Netscout Threat Landscape Report declared in the second half of 2018, cyber attacks against IoT devices and DDoS attacks had both rose dramatically. Fuelled by the compromise of high numbers of IoT devices, the number of DDoS attacks in the 100GBps to 200GBps range increased 169%, while those in the 200GBps to 300GBps range exploded 2,500%. The report concluded cybercriminals had built and used cheaper, easier-to-deploy and more persistent malware, and cyber gangs had implemented this higher level of efficiency by adopting the same principles used by legitimate businesses. These improvements has helped malicious actors greatly increase the number of medium-size DDoS attacks while infiltrating IoT devices even quicker.

In a rare speech, Jeremy Fleming, the head of GCHQ warned the internet could deteriorate into "an even less governed space" if the international community doesn't come together to establish a common set of principles. He said "China, Iran, Russia and North Korea" had broken international law through cyber attacks, and made the case for when "offensive cyber activities" were good, saying "their use must always meet the three tests of legality, necessity and proportionality. Their use, in particular to cause disruption or damage - must be in extremis".  Clearly international law wasn't developed with cyber space in mind, so it looks like GCGQ are attempting to raise awareness to remedy that.

I will be speaking at the e-crime Cyber Security Congress in London on 6th March 2019, on cloud security, new business metrics, future risks and priorities for 2019 and beyond.

Finally, completely out of the blue, I was informed by 4D that this blog had been picked by a team of their technical engineers and Directors as one of the best Cyber Security Blogs in the UK. The 6 Best Cyber Security Blogs - A Data Centre's Perspective Truly humbled and in great company to be on that list.

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REPORTS

    Friday, 22 February 2019

    What's the greater risk to UK 5G, Huawei backdoors or DDoS?

    Have we been focusing too much on the Huawei backdoor threat instead of the DDoS threat facing the incoming 5G network infrastructure? Lee Chen, CEO at A10 networks thinks so.

    The size and sophistication of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks have risen at an ever-accelerating pace. As new 5G networks become operational, we expect the size of attacks will dwarf these records. This is primarily due to the increase in IoT devices that 5G will introduce, with the number set to reach 4.1 billion globally by 2024. Each device is a perfect nest for botnets carrying malware, offering a new DDoS weapon for hackers to take advantage of.

    Service providers will need to evolve rapidly with these growing threats and adopt intelligent automation to detect and mitigate security anomalies in a matter of seconds. Sophisticated DDoS threat intelligence, combined with real-time threat detection and automated signature extraction, will allow the marketplace to defend against even the most massive multi-vector DDoS attacks, no matter where they originate.


    The Huawei threat remains a political football, there is still uncertainty on whether the Chinese telecoms giant's network devices will be banned in the UK or not. I have updated my post - Is Huawei a Threat to UK National Security? with the latest developments.

    Monday, 11 February 2019

    The Business of Organised Cybercrime

    Guest article by David Warburton, Senior Threat Research Evangelist, F5 Networks

    Team leader, network administrator, data miner, money specialist. These are just some of the roles making a difference in today’s enterprises. The same is also true for sophisticated cybergangs.

    Many still wrongly believe that the dark web is exclusively inhabited by hoodie-clad teenagers and legions of disaffected disruptors. The truth is, the average hacker is just a cog in a complex ecosystem more akin to that of a corporate enterprise than you think. The only difference is the endgame, which is usually to cause reputational or financial damage to governments, businesses and consumers.

    There is no way around it; cybercrime is now run like an industry with multiple levels of deceit shielding those at the very top from capture. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for businesses to re-evaluate cybercriminal perceptions and ensure effective protective measures are in place.

    Current perceptions surrounding Cybergangs

    Cybergangs as a collective are often structured like legitimate businesses, including partner networks, resellers and vendors. Some have even set up call centres to field interactions with ransomware victims. Meanwhile, entry-level hackers across the world are embarking on career development journeys of sorts, enjoying opportunities to learn and develop skills. 

    This includes the ability to write their own tools or enhance the capabilities of others. In many ways, it is a similar path to that of an intern. They often become part of sophisticated groups or operations once their abilities reach a certain level. Indeed, a large proportion of hackers are relatively new entrants to the cybercrime game and still use low-level tools to wreak havoc. This breed of cybercriminal isn’t always widely feared by big corporations. They should be.

    How Cybergangs are using Technology to Work Smarter and Cheaper

    Cybergangs often work remotely across widely dispersed geographies, which makes them tricky to detect and deal with. The nature of these structures also means that cyber attacks are becoming more automated, rapid and cost-effective. The costs and risks are further reduced when factoring in the fluidity and inherent anonymity of cryptocurrencies and the dark web.

    The industry has become so robust that hackers can even source work on each link in an attack chain at an affordable rate. Each link is anonymous to other threat actors in the chain to vastly reduce the risk of detection.

    IoT Vulnerabilities on the Rise
    According to IHS Markit, there will be 125 billion IoT devices on the planet by 2030.  With so much hype surrounding the idea of constant and pervasive connectivity, individuals and businesses are often complacent when it comes to ensuring all devices are secure. 

    Significantly, it is easier to compromise an IoT device that is exposed to the public Internet and protected with known vendor default credentials than it is to trick an individual into clicking on a link in a phishing email.

    Consequently, it is crucial for organisations to have an IoT strategy in place that encompasses the monitoring and identification of traffic patterns for all connected devices. Visibility is essential to understand network behaviour and any potential suspicious activities that may occur on it.

    Why Cybersecurity Mindsets must Change

    IT teams globally have been lecturing staff for years on the importance of creating different passwords. Overall, the message is not resonating enough.

    To combat the issue, businesses need to consider alternative tactics such as password manager applications, as well as ensuring continuous security training is available and compulsory for all staff.

    It is worth noting that the most commonly attacked credentials are the vendor defaults for some of the most commonly used applications in enterprise environments. Simply having a basic system hardening policy that ensures vendor default credentials are disabled or changed before the system goes live will prevent this common issue from becoming a painful breach. System hardening is a requirement in every best practice security framework or compliance requirement.

    Ultimately, someone with responsibility for compliance, audit, or security should be continually reviewing access to all systems. Commonly, security teams will only focus on systems within the scope of some compliance or regulatory obligation. This can lead to failure to review seemingly innocuous systems that can occasionally result in major breaches.

    In addition to continual access reviews, monitoring should be in place to detect access attacks. Brute force attacks can not only lead to a breach, they can also result in performance impacts on the targeted system or lock customers out of their accounts. As a result, there are significant financial incentives for organisations to equip themselves with appropriate monitoring procedures.

    Cybergangs use many different methods to wreak havoc, making it increasingly difficult to identify attacks in a timely manner. Businesses are often ignorant about the size of attacks, the scope of what has been affected, and the scale of the operation behind them. You are operating in the dark without doing the utmost to know your enemy. Failing to do so will continue to put information, staff and customers at risk by allowing cybergangs to operate in the shadows.
    David Warburton, Senior Threat Research Evangelist with F5 Labs with over 20 years’ experience in IT and security.

    Thursday, 7 February 2019

    Is Huawei a Threat to UK National Security?

    On 19th July 2018 the UK government, through the GCHQ backed Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, gave “limited assurance” that Huawei poses no threat to UK National Security. Since then the UK, EU, and NATO member government politicians and security services have all raised concerns about the nation-state cyber threat posed by the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. 

    There has been particular political unease around the Huawei provision of network infrastructure devices (i.e. switches and routers etc.) within the UK national infrastructure, devices which controls network traffic and capable of accessing the data that traverses them. Huawei has been operating in the UK market for 18 years, whether its their smart phones or a network devices, Huawei products are generally far cheaper than their competitors' equivalents. This has led to major telecoms providers such as BT, purchasing and implementing Huawei network devices within their telecommunications infrastructure and data centres, some of which are regarded as critical components within the UK national infrastructure. As such, Huawei has been subject to unfavourable security scrutiny, which has recently spilt out into political and media arenas. 


    Huawei has always denied its products poses a threat, and there is no evidence of any malicious capability or activity publicly disclosure by any UK intelligence agencies or cyber security firms. But there is also the Chinese 2017 National Intelligence Law, which states that Chinese organisations are obliged to "support, cooperate with, and collaborate in, national intelligence work".

    Three nations in the intelligence alliance ‘Five Eyes’, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, have effectively prohibited the installation of Huawei equipment within their generation telecommunications equipment, namely 5G networks. The remaining two members of "Five Eyes", the United Kingdom and Canada, are expected to state their position within the coming months. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre has published warnings about the Chinese company's security standards. Elsewhere, nations including France, Germany and India have expressed their concerns about the use of Huawei equipment within their telecommunications 5G upgrades.


    On 4th February, a leaked draft 'Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre' 2019 report, said the issues and findings it had raised previously had not been fully addressed by Huawei, and was critical about the security of Huawei's technology.

    Then on 6th February 2019,  a letter sent to MPs by Huawei was published. In it Huawei said it could take up to five years to address security issues raised by the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre, at a cost of $2bn (£1.5bn) of their own money. The president of Huawei's carrier business group also said the process of adapting its software and engineering processes to meet the UK's requirements was "like replacing components on a high-speed train in motion".

    Huawei also made the following points in the letter to rebut the threat allegations,  "Huawei is a closely watched company.  Were Huawei ever to engage in malicious behaviour, it would not go unnoticed - and it would certainly destroy our business. For us, it is a matter of security or nothing; there is no third option. We choose to ensure security." The letter also addressed the Chinese 2017 National Intelligence Law, stating "no Chinese law obliges any company to install backdoors", a position they have backed up by an international law firm based in London. The letter went on to say that Huawei would refuse requests by the Chinese government to plant backdoors, eavesdropping or spyware on its telecommunications equipment.

    The ball is now in the UK government's court, in the next couple of months we shall see if the UK Gov bans Huawei or continues to work with them to help assure the implied national security threat of their products. A ban could well result in Huawei pulling out of the UK market altogether, taking their billions of pounds of investment with them, and would likely negatively impact post Brexit trade deal negotiations between the UK and China, so we can expect the situation to become even more political in the short term.

    Huawei Threat News Timeline
    Who are Huawei?
    • Chinese multinational conglomerate which specialises in telecommunications equipment, consumer electronics and technology-based services and products.
    • HQ in Shenzhen, Guangdong
    • Founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People's Liberation Army
    • Largest telecommunications-equipment manufacturer in the world
    • Overtook from Apple in 2018 as the second-largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world
    • 72nd on the Fortune Global 500 list
    • 180,000 employees
    • Chinese military remain an important customer for Huawei
    • Invests Billions into R&D around world
    • 3 Billions Customers Globally
    • Operating within the UK for 18 years
    • Made a five year commitment (2018 to 2023) to invest £3 billion in the UK.
    • Allegations its equipment may contain backdoors to allow unauthorised surveillance and/or data theft by the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army
    The 5G Evolution
    5G is expected emerge in the UK in late 2019 and early 2020, and will be much faster than 4G. The theoretical maximum speed for 4G is 1Gbps, while the theoretical maximum speed for 5G is 20Gbps, so 5G is potentially up to 20 times faster than 4G. Potentially faster than the UK average broadband speed, which stands at 18.57Gbps.

    Mobile networks are changing with the arrival of 5G and the impact of this change will be felt across the industry. Adrian Taylor, regional VP of sales for A10 Networks, provides the follow insight about the impact of 5G on the market and how it will change the enterprise world.

    5G and the Evolution of Mobile Networks
    Fifth generation networks, just like the preceding 4G LTE and WiMAX networks, are expected to greatly increase available bandwidth, with improved end-to-end performance providing a better end-user experience. In the most basic of terms, 4G LTE was the long-term evolution of Radio Access Networks (RAN); 5G is the next iteration.

    Wireless carriers have invested billions into their networks to support the ongoing demand for faster network speeds. They must look for ways to increase revenue while delivering more value to the end user. This continues to drive new devices into the hands of the consumer. The demand for increased efficiencies, bandwidth, and coverage has pushed carriers towards a decentralised deployment model.

    Network Virtualisation Remains in The Early Stages
    Service providers monitor and review technology for advancements that will help deliver faster and less expensive networks. Recently, they have looked into areas of Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and automation to support their advancements. Mobile network operators are investing heavily in reducing delays and errors through repetitive processes as they build and add capacity to existing 4G networks.

    Virtualisation and Software Defined Networks (SDN) improvements are driving a shift from hardware to software. SDN is promising, but it’s not an instant solution, as purpose-built hardware still remains the preferred choice. NFV and SDN have offered service providers an alternative to existing methods, including dedicated appliances sitting idle. However, it’s safe to say that the age of virtualisation remains in the early stages.


    Hardware manufacturers and service providers are now betting on the acceptance and success of virtualised functions. Software development continues at breakneck speed to meet timelines and demands for more integrated solutions, which easily scale and reduce operational overheads at the same time.

    The 5G Revenue Opportunity
    5G’s impact is expected to extend beyond the typical mobile network carriers/operators such as Virgin Media, EE, O2, and Sky in the UK and overseas. It promises to enable increased connectivity and flexibility, that will drive additional functions throughout all supportive components of a mobile carrier’s network.

    RAN access providers face the question of how to support the ever-increasing appetite for cutting the cord. How can we use our mobile devices in more ways than previously thought, as the end user goes about their daily tasks? This mobility, whether it’s tied to a carrier’s technology or even a simple Wi-Fi home network, reaches all corners of our day-to-day life.

    This reach extends from the cloud to the data centre environments and continues to drive capacity needs, supported by both legacy appliances and the ever-increasing virtual environments. This continued appetite for consumption has opened up opportunities for all facets of technology and associated vendors.

    5G Mobile Network Evolution
    The continued expansion of 5G networks will have a revolutionary impact upon every mobile subscriber and business in the world.

    The fundamental market forces of network evolution are not based on wired or wireless infrastructure. Companies are currently focused on upgrading existing mobile networks. Whereas at the exact same time, NFV, SDN and the global IoT industry are all preparing to utilise the next generation of mobile networks.

    Software solutions are easier to move from concept to production and frequently offer a lower up-front investment cost. This all adds up to help drive increased functionality for all service providers, including the wired infrastructure.

    5G and IoT will be demand-driven. As a result, the more the infrastructure expands to meet that demand, the more opportunities will be uncovered. It’s a positive feedback loop that will revolutionise how we think of the internet.

    Get ready for a world that will be changed forever with the next generation mobile networks on the horizon.

    Wednesday, 6 February 2019

    Customers Blame Companies not Hackers for Data Breaches

    RSA Security latest search reveals over half (57%) of consumers blame companies ahead of hackers if their data is stolen. Consumer backlash in response to the numerous high-profile data breaches in recent years has exposed one of the hidden risks of digital transformation: loss of customer trust.

    The RSA Data Privacy & Security Survey 2019 identified that companies have lost the trust of customers as a disconnect has formed between how companies are using customer data and how consumers expect their data to be used.

    Despite the fact that consumers harbour heightened concerns about their privacy, they continue to exhibit poor cyber hygiene, with 83% of users admitting that they reuse the same passwords across many sites, leaving them more vulnerable.

    Key takeaways from the RSA Data Privacy study, include:

    • Context matters: Individuals across all demographics are concerned about their financial/banking data, as well as sensitive information such as passwords, but other areas of concern vary dramatically by generation, nationality and even gender. For example, younger demographics are more comfortable with their data being used and collected than older survey respondents. 
    • Privacy expectations are cultural: Consumers respond to data privacy differently based on their nationality due to cultural factors, current events and high-profile data breaches in their respective countries. For example, in the months of the GDPR being implemented, German attitudes shifted in favour of stricter data privacy expectations, with 42% wanting to protect location data in 2018 versus only 29 percent in 2017.
    • Personalisation remains a puzzle: Countless studies have demonstrated that personalised experiences increase user activity and purchasing. However, the survey results showed that respondents do not want personalized services at the expense of their privacy. In fact, a mere 17% of respondents view tailored advertisements as ethical, and only 24% believe personalisation to create tailored newsfeeds is ethical. 
    “With a growing number of high-profile data breaches, questions around the ethical use of data and privacy missteps, consumers increasingly want to know how their data is being collected, managed and shared,” said Nigel Ng, Vice President of International, RSA. “Now is the time for organisations to evaluate their growing digital risks, doubling down on customer privacy and security. Today’s leaders must be vigilant about transforming their cybersecurity postures to manage today’s digital risks in a way that ensures consumer trust and confidence in their business.

    Tuesday, 5 February 2019

    Automotive Technologies and Cyber Security

    A guest article authored by Giles Kirkland
    Giles is a car expert and dedicated automotive writer with a great passion for electric vehicles, autonomous cars and other innovative technologies. He loves researching the future of motorisation and sharing his ideas with auto enthusiasts across the globe. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and at Oponeo.


    Automotive Technologies and Cyber Security
    Surveys show that about 50% of the UK feel that driverless vehicles will make their lives much easier and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of this exciting technology. Cities expect that when driverless car technology is fully implemented, the gridlock which now plagues their streets will be relieved to a large extent. Auto-makers predict that the new technology will encourage a surge in vehicle purchases, and technology companies are lining up with the major auto manufacturers to lend their experience and knowledge to the process, hoping to earn huge profits.



    Delays to Driverless Technology
    While some features of autonomous technology have already been developed and have been rolled out in various new vehicles, the full technology will probably not be mature for several decades yet. One of the chief holdups is in establishing the infrastructure necessary on the roads themselves and in cities, in order to safely enable driverless operation.

    The full weight of modern technology is pushing development along at a breakneck pace. Unlike safety testing of the past, where some real-life scenarios were simulated to anticipate vehicle reactions, high-powered simulators have now been setup to increase the rapidity at which vehicle software can 'learn' what to do in those real-life situations. This has enabled learning at a rate exponentially greater than any vehicle of the past, which is not surprising, since vehicles of the past were not equipped with 'brains' like autonomous cars will be.

    The Cyber Security aspect of Autonomous Vehicles
    Despite the enormous gains that will come from autonomous vehicles, both socially and economically, there will inevitably be some problems which will arise, and industry experts agree that the biggest of these threats is cyber security. In 2015, there was a famous incident which dramatically illustrated the possibilities. In that year, white-collar hackers took control of a Jeep Cherokee remotely by hacking into its Uconnect Internet-enabled software, and completely cut off its connection with the Internet. This glaring shortcoming caused Chrysler to immediately recall more than one million vehicles, and provided the world with an alarming illustration of what could happen if someone with criminal intent breached the security system of a vehicle.

    Cars of today have as many as 100 Electronic Control Units (ECU's), which support more than 100 million coding lines, and that presents a huge target to the criminal-minded person. Any hacker who successfully gains control of a peripheral ECU, for instance the vehicle's Bluetooth system, would theoretically be able to assume full control of other ECU's which are responsible for a whole host of safety systems. Connected cars of the future will of course have even more ECU's controlling the vehicle's operations, which will provide even more opportunities for cyber attack.


    Defense against Cyber Attacks
    As scary as the whole cyber situation sounds, with the frightening prospect of complete loss of control of a vehicle, there is reason for thinking that the threat can be managed effectively. There are numerous companies already involved in research and development on how to make cars immune from attacks, using a multi-tiered defense system involving several different security products, installed on different levels of the car's security system.

    Individual systems and ECU's can be reinforced against attacks. Up one level from that, software protection is being developed to safeguard the vehicle's entire internal network. In the layer above that, there are already solutions in place to defend vehicles at the point where ECU's connect to external sources. This is perhaps the most critical area, since it represents the line between internal and external communications. The final layer of security comes from the cloud itself. Cyber threats can be identified and thwarted before they are ever sent to a car.

    The Cyber Security Nightmare
    If you ask an average person in the UK what the biggest problem associated with driverless cars is, they’d probably cite the safety issue. Industry experts however, feel that once the technology has been worked out, there will probably be less highway accidents and that driving safety will actually be improved. However, the nightmare of having to deal with the threat which always exists when anything is connected to the Internet, will always be one which is cause for concern.

    Monday, 4 February 2019

    Cyber Security Roundup for January 2019

    The first month of 2019 was a relatively slow month for cyber security in comparison with the steady stream of cyber attacks and breaches throughout 2018.  On Saturday 26th January, car services and repair outfit Kwik Fit told customers its IT systems had been taken offline due to malware, which disputed its ability to book in car repairs. Kwik Fit didn't provide any details about the malware, but it is fair to speculate that the malware outbreak was likely caused by a general lack of security patching and anti-virus protection as opposed to anything sophisticated.

    B&Q said it had taken action after a security researcher found and disclosed details of B&Q suspected store thieves online. According to Ctrlbox Information Security, the exposed records included 70,000 offender and incident logs, which included: the first and last names of individuals caught or suspected of stealing goods from stores descriptions of the people involved, their vehicles and other incident-related information the product codes of the goods involved the value of the associated loss.

    Hundreds of German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have had personal details stolen and published online at the start of January.  A 20 year suspect was later arrested in connection to this disclosure. Investigators said the suspect had acted alone and had taught himself the skills he needed using online resources, and had no training in computer science. Yet another example of the low entry level for individuals in becoming a successful and sinister hacker.

    Hackers took control of 65,000 Smart TVs around the world, in yet another stunt to support YouTuber PewDiePie. A video message was displayed on the vulnerable TVs which read "Your Chromecast/Smart TV is exposed to the public internet and is exposing sensitive information about you!" It then encourages victims to visit a web address before finishing up with, "you should also subscribe to PewDiePie"
    Hacked Smart TVs: The Dangers of Exposing Smart TVs to the Net

    The PewDiePie hackers said they had discovered a further 100,000 vulnerable devices, while Google said its products were not to blame, but were said to have fixed them anyway. In the previous month two hackers carried out a similar stunt by forcing thousands of printers to print similar messages. There was an interesting video of the negative impact of that stunt on the hackers on the BBC News website - The PewDiePie Hackers: Could hacking printers ruin your life?

    Security company ForeScout said it had found thousands of vulnerable devices using search engines Shodan and Cenys, many of which were located in hospitals and schools. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems were among those that the team could have taken control over after it developed its own proof-of-concept malware.

    Reddit users found they were locked out of their accounts after an apparent credential stuffing attack forced a mass password invoke by Reddit in response. A Reddit admin said "large group of accounts were locked down" due to anomalous activity suggesting unauthorised access."

    Kaspersky reported that 30 million cyber attacks were carried out in the last quarter of 2018, with cyber attacks via web browsers reported as the most common method for spreading malware.

    A new warning was issued by Action Fraud about a convincing TV Licensing scam phishing email attack made the rounds. The email attempts to trick people with subject lines like "correct your licensing information" and "your TV licence expires today" to convince people to open them. TV Licensing warned it never asks for this sort of information over email.

    January saw further political pressure and media coverage about the threat posed to the UK national security by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, I'll cover all that in a separate blog post.


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