Article | August 9, 2021
No matter what business you run, digital marketing is crucial to reach out to people and generate leads today. Businesses of all sizes rely on digital marketing to take the business to the next level.Digital marketing in many forms, such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, and online advertisements, have been utilizing to bridge the gap between business and customers.
Technology is evolving and is expected to be transformed further. As technology gets improved every second, online advertising and marketing opportunities are also getting amplified. However, the villain, cyber threats and attacks, can jeopardize your business dreams and opportunities. Yes, alarmingly, cybersecurity in digital marketing has become a serious concern today. The more the opportunity you have in digital marketing, the more you become vulnerable to cyber threats and attacks.
Cybersecurity in Digital Marketing-Importance
Cybersecurity is very significant as digital marketing heavily depends upon data and information, which are sensitive and confidential to your business. This confidentiality is to be maintained to retain your customers. If your business is affected by cyber-attacks, your customers lose trust in you and your business. That is because the customers think their data and information could be compromised or stolen. Therefore, you need a strong cybersecurity practice to save you and your customers from breaches and malware attacks.
Apart from information loss, financial loss, loss of brand reputation, etc. too, can happen. Ultimately you may end up witnessing a crippling loss in your business. Thus cybersecurity in digital marketing is essential as threats and attacks are detrimental to your business.
Cybersecurity in Digital Marketing- Challenges
As all businesses are going digital now, cyber threats are expected to increase. As a result, according to Gartner, the information security market is projected to grow to US$170.4 billion in 2022. This warns businesses to be extra alert regarding the startling rate of cyberattacks. Organizations have to be ever ready with solutions.
There are a lot of challenges faced by cybersecurity in digital marketing. Email marketing is an essential and powerful part of digital marketing. Email marketers face the challenges, such as phishing. Small businesses are the main targets of phishing activity as they are unaware of it. Hackers may send spam using your email accounts with virus-infected emails. Occurring continuously, the server may backlist or block your site, affecting your email campaign. Customers will lose trust in you.
Content marketing is also vulnerable to cyber-attacks as hackers are well aware of content management systems (CMS) and how it works. Therefore, they can easily hack it and distribute malware. In addition, social media marketing is vulnerable to identity theft. In case a hacker cracks your password, he can do unimaginable damages to you and your business. The hacker can do unauthorized downloads, share your confidential data and information, and even exploit your customers.
The above-mentioned are some of the cybersecurity challenges in digital marketing. In addition, e-commerce and customer relationship management (CRM) systems are also prone to cyberattacks and threats. Therefore, it is essential to take necessary cybersecurity measures to overcome becoming the prey of cybercriminals while performing digital marketing activities online.
Overcoming Cybersecurity Challenges in Digital Marketing
As businesses began to use digital marketing widely to reach out to customers successfully, organizations started getting exposed to cybersecurity threats. The consequences of breaches and malware attacks can be far-reaching. Therefore, it's high time for businesses to be ready to tackle these cybersecurity issues in digital marketing. The following tips may help companies to do it proactively.
Your digital marketing executives are vulnerable to cyberattacks, especially those who are handling email marketing. To protect your campaigns, train all how to recognize a phishing email. Also, encourage them to use spam filters and strong passwords.
SSL to Secure CRM
Installing an SSL(Secure Sockets Layer) protocol on the website makes your data transfer secure and encrypted, eliminating the chances of hackers getting access. Also, your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system should have strict data security policies. It helps you keep your data protected while your staff access sensitive data.
Regular Data Backup
Data loss can happen in many circumstances, such as ransomware attacks, hard drive damage or crash, or malware hijacking. These data losses will result in losing you a lot of money. Thus, encourage your staff to backup all data regularly in a different location other than your system. It will protect 100% of your data in case of cyber-attacks and system malfunction.
Integrating Security Features
As part of content marketing, businesses use Content Management Systems (CMS) to upload, edit easily, and publish different forms of content. However, as hackers are very familiar with CMS, they can damage your reputation by distributing malware if they hack your site. Thus, it is very much crucial to integrate security features in your CMS platform.
In addition, many vulnerabilities could be closed off by installing security plug-ins. The following security measures also can be taken regarding your CMS.
Use strong password
Change the default admin login URL
Do not use public Wi-Fi networks to access your CMS
These cybersecurity measures in digital marketing are necessary as content marketing is part and parcel of the process.
Ensuring cybersecurity is a team effort and is a continuous process. The set-and-forget policy will not work with cybersecurity. Your company's measures taken regarding cybersecurity in digital marketing have to be audited regularly to ensure your cybersecurity goals are met correctly. The audit should be done at least once a quarter.
It is a time-consuming process to devise strategies to protect businesses from cyber-attacks and threats. However, unless you take necessary measures in time, your business can be jeopardized, losing clients, money, and reputation. Cybersecurity threats in digital marketing are expected to increase as technology is getting transformed every second. A stitch in time saves nine!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is cybersecurity so important in digital marketing?
Cybersecurity benefits your brand by protecting your website and each of your digital marketing activities. It saves all your data as well as the data of your clients. However, cyber-attacks can be detrimental to your business.
What is the biggest problem in digital marketing?
Apart from standing out from the competitors, the biggest problem in digital marketing is cyber-attacks and threats. Unfortunately, cyberattacks can jeopardize your business.
"name": "Why is cybersecurity so important in digital marketing?",
"text": "Cybersecurity benefits your brand by protecting your website and each of your digital marketing activities. It saves all your data as well as the data of your clients. However, cyber-attacks can be detrimental to your business."
"name": "What is the biggest problem in digital marketing?",
"text": "Apart from standing out from the competitors, the biggest problem in digital marketing is cyber-attacks and threats. Unfortunately, cyberattacks can jeopardize your business."
Article | December 15, 2020
There are three significant and disruptive cybersecurity threats that are catching organizations of all types and sizes by surprise:
Cloud misconfigurations; and
Supply chain backdoors.
Let me explain with recent examples and guide you on what you can do to avoid making other’s mistakes and falling victim to the threats.
Let’s start with ransomware. It is one of the most disruptive risks facing your organization today. Why? Because it can literally bring your operations, no matter who you are, to a standstill and inflict significant cost, pain and suffering.
Just look at the recent example of one organization. It was infected with ransomware, and IT systems were shut down for several weeks, bringing operations to a standstill. It had to gradually re-start systems over several more weeks. It estimates it will cost around $95 million from lost sales, recovery and remediation, impacting profitability. Also, it announced it will not be able to attain its growth plans for the year.
Take another recent example. A three-hospital system was infected and IT systems were shut down and it could not accept any incoming patients for several days. It had to operate using paper, until gradually the IT systems were re-started over several days. Fortunately, in this case, the incoming patients turned away did not suffer any loss of life and were able to be diverted to other hospitals timely, but it could have been tragic.
No organization is immune to ransomware and it can rear its ugly head anytime and inflict severe pain.
There are many variants and each can be tweaked easily by the attackers to evade the defense. The Ryuk ransomware is an example of one that has already inflicted significant pain to hundreds of organizations this year in the U.S. and across the globe. Previously, the SamSam ransomware attacked a variety of organizations in the U.S. and Canada, and provided over $6 million in ransom payments and inflicted over $30 million in losses. Prior to that, NotPetya ransomware rapidly inflicted hundreds of organizations in various parts of the world, and caused over $10 billion in damages.
The attackers are seeing that with ransomware it is quicker and easier to make the intrusion, and encrypt some of the data than try to exfiltrate all of it. They are asking themselves, why take all the time and trouble to look for all of the data and try to steal it, when only some critical systems and data can be locked up, until a ransom is paid?
They are seeing that with ransomware there will be immediate adverse impact since the victim will not be able to access critical data and systems, and will not be able to operate. So, there is high probability the ransom will be paid to stop the pain and suffering, especially if the victim has cyber insurance in place. The organization is likely to use the insurance policy to pay the ransom, rather than continue to have its operations disrupted or shut down.
They are also seeing that while most organizations have put in place various controls to prevent and detect data theft, they have not placed an equal weight to preventing and detecting ransomware. Most organizations have a lot of data and given all of the data thefts that have occurred and continue to occur and reported in the press, the bias has been to focus on data theft. But ransomware risk cannot be ignored or approached less seriously.
Imagine that you are infected with ransomware and your people cannot access documents, files or systems, and operate. All critical files and systems are locked out from the ransomware encryption, and a ransom payment is demanded by the hacker for the keys to unlock the encryption. What if, it will take you days, weeks or months to recover? What impact would it have on your organization?
You may think that you will be able to recover quickly from back up files and systems, but are you sure? The new ransomware variants are devised to hunt down and delete or encrypt backup files and systems also, and in some cases, first, before encrypting rest of the files and systems.
The organization that was recently infected that estimates $95 million in financial impact from the ransomware thought it had the risk under control, until it was hit with the ransomware and realized it was not prepared to manage the risk.
Now, let’s move to the threat from cloud misconfigurations.
You are most probably in the cloud completely or partially. Whether you have completely outsourced your infrastructure and services to a cloud provider or are utilizing one partially, remember, ultimately, you own the cybersecurity and that you are responsible for security in the cloud, while the cloud provider is responsible for security of the cloud.
While the cloud provider will provide perimeter security, you are responsible for security of your data, IP and other assets in the cloud, and are equally susceptible to attackers in the cloud as you are on the premises. Even if any of the “big six” cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure or others, provide the cybersecurity, attackers can exploit weak links in the chain, break in and steal data or cause other harm.
A common weak link in the chain are misconfigurations of the various systems that the cloud provider makes available as part of its service. You are responsible for all of the configurations, not the cloud provider. So, if your team does not take the time to fully understand all of the configurations that are necessary and complete them timely, security holes will arise and remain open for the attackers to exploit.
Just look at the recent example of an organization that fell victim where the data of over 100 million customers was stolen. This organization was using one of the “big six” cloud providers, but missed making all of the necessary configurations. A former employee of the cloud provider, who was familiar with the systems and configurations, discovered a misconfiguration in a web application firewall and exploited it to break in. The attacker then was able to query a metadata service to obtain keys and tokens, which allowed the attacker to query and copy storage object data and eventually exfiltrate it.
This was a case where configuration errors in a web application firewall coupled with unrestricted metadata service access and other errors handed the attacker the keys to the kingdom for the theft of 100 million customers data.
Other common cloud misconfigurations that create opportunities for attackers to exploit include:
Unrestricted in bound access on uncommon ports
Unrestricted outbound access
Unrestricted access to non-http/https ports
Unrestricted metadata service requests
Inactivate monitoring of keys and tokens
You may think that you do not have any misconfigurations in your cloud environment, but how do you know? The organization that recently lost 100 million customers data thought it had strong security in its cloud infrastructure, until it was hit with the data theft and realized it was not prepared to manage the risk.
Now, let’s move to the threat from supply chain backdoors.
No matter what type of organization you are or your size, you most probably have a supply chain, comprised of independent contractors, vendors or partners. Each of these could be the weakest link in the chain.
In other words, the attackers may find that one of your suppliers may be easier to break into first because of weaker cybersecurity and may have privileged access to your organization, given their role and responsibilities. So why not first attack the weaker supplier, steal their privileged user credentials and use it to break into your organization and eventually attain the ultimate objective, steal data or commit other harm?
Or they may find that one of your suppliers has part of your data in order to provide the outsourced service, so they can steal the data simply by breaking into the supplier with the weaker cybersecurity, so no need to attack you directly.
There are many examples of supply chain risk, such as with a government agency, where the credentials of a background check vendor were first stolen to access the agency’s systems, then to move laterally and find other unprotected privileged users credentials to access databases and steal data of 21.5 million individuals, including fingerprints data of 5.6 million individuals.
But just look at the recent example of an organization that had outsourced billing and collections to a supplier. This is a case where the attackers did not have to attack directly. In this case, attackers broke into the supplier and injected malicious code into the payments webpages managed by the supplier and stole credit card, banking, medical and other personal information, such as social security numbers, of 11.9 million consumers. The attackers had access to the supplier’s system for eight months, during which it skimmed the data being input by consumers on the payments webpages.
So, while your cybersecurity may be in good shape, the weakest link in the chain may be one of your suppliers, who may unwittingly provide the attackers the backdoor into your organization or to your data or IP.
So, ransomware, cloud misconfigurations and supply chain backdoors are three significant and disruptive threats facing your organization today that you should mitigate.
Article | April 22, 2020
According to a Gartner study in 2018, the global Cybersecurity market is estimated to be as big as US$170.4 billion by 2022. The rapid growth in cybersecurity market is boosted by new technological initiatives like cloud-based applications and workloads that require security beyond the traditional data centres, the internet of things devices, and data protection mandates like EU’s GDPR.
Cybersecurity, at its core, is protecting information and systems from cyberthreats that come in many forms like ransomware, malware, phishing attacks and exploit kits. Technological advancements have unfortunately opened as many opportunities to cybercriminals as it has for the authorities. These negative elements are now capable of launching sophisticated cyberattacks at a reduced cost. Therefore, it becomes imperative for organizations across all industries to incorporate latest technologies to stay ahead of the cybercriminals.
Table of Contents:
- What is the cybersecurity scenario around the world?
- Driving Management Awareness towards Cybersecurity
- Preparing Cybersecurity Workforce
- Cybersecurity Awareness for Other Employees
What is the cybersecurity scenario around the world?
Even as there has been a steady increase in cyberattacks, according to the 2018 Global State of Information Security Survey from PwC: 44% companies across the world do not have an overall information security strategy, 48% executives said they do not have an employee security awareness training program, and 54% said they do not have an incident response process.
So, where does the problem lie?
Many boards still see it as an IT problem.
Matt Olsen, Co-Founder and President of Business Development and Strategy, IronNet Cybersecurity.
The greater responsibility of building a resilient cybersecurity of an organization lies with its leaders. There is a need to eliminate the stigma of ‘risk of doing business lies solely with the technology leaders of an organization. Oversight and proactive risk management must come under CEO focus. According to the National Association of Corporate Directors' 2016-2017 surveys of public and private company directors, very few leaders felt confident about their security against cyberattacks, perhaps due to their lack of involvement into the subject.
Driving Management Awareness towards Cybersecurity
• Gain buy-in by mapping security initiatives back to business objectives and explaining security in ways that speak to the business
• Update management about your current activities pertaining to the security initiatives taken, recent news about breaches and resolve any doubts.
• Illustrate the security maturity of your organization by using audit findings along with industry benchmarks such as BSIMM to show management how your organization fares and how you plan to improve, given their support.
• Running awareness program for your management regarding spear-phishing, ransomware and other hacking campaigns that aim for executives and teach how to avoid them.
The bottom line is that leaders can seize the opportunity now to take meaningful actions designed to bolster the resilience of their organizations, withstand disruptive cyber threats and build a secure digital society.
The bottom line is that leaders can seize the opportunity now to take meaningful actions designed to bolster the resilience of their organizations, withstand disruptive cyber threats and build a secure digital society..
READ MORE: WEBROOT: WIDESPREAD LACK OF CYBERSECURITY BEST PRACTICES
Preparing Cybersecurity Workforce
Hackers are able to find 75% of the vulnerabilities within the application layer. Thus, developers have an important role to play in the cybersecurity of an organization and are responsible for the security of their systems. Training insecure codingis the best way to raise their cybersecurity awareness levels.
Raising Cybersecurity Awareness in Developers:
• Training developers to code from the attackers’ point of view, using specific snippets from your own apps.
• Explain in-depth about vulnerabilities found by calling remedial sessions.
• Find ways to make secure coding easier on developers, like integrating security testing and resources into their workflow and early in the SDLC/
• Seek feedback from developers on how your security policies fit into their workflow and find ways to improve.
Cybersecurity Awareness for Other Employees
According to the Online Trust Alliance’s2016 Data Protection and Breach Readiness Guide, employees cause about 30% of data breaches. Employees are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. But that can be changed by creating awareness and educating them on the risks surrounding equipment, passwords, social media, the latest social engineering ploys, and communications and collaboration tools.Make standard security tasks part of their everyday routine, including updating antivirus software and privacy settings, and taking steps as simple as covering cameras when they end a video conference call.
The technological advancements are moving faster than anF-16, so the measure are by no means exhaustive. The important thing is to keep pace with numerous cybersecurity measures to not fall prey to a cyberattack. Every organizational level plays an important role in achieving a matured security infrastructure, thus making awareness and participation mandatory.
Organizations should consider a natively integrated, automated security platform specifically designed to provide consistent, prevention-based protection for endpoints, data centers, networks, public and private clouds, and software-as-a-service environments
READ MORE: A 4 STEP GUIDE TO STRONGER OT CYBERSECURITY
Article | July 29, 2020
1. Zero Trust – Demystified
Everyone seems to be talking about Zero Trust in the security world at the moment. Unfortunately there seems to be multiple definitions of this depending on which vendor you ask. To help others understand what Zero Trust is, this white paper covers the key aspects of a Zero Trust model.
1.1. What is Zero Trust
Zero Trust is a philosophy and a related architecture to implement this way of thinking founded by John Kindervag in 2010. What it isn’t, is a particular technology!
There are three key components to a Zero Trust model:
1. User / Application authentication – we must authenticate the user or the application (in cases where applications are requesting automated access) irrefutably to ensure that the entity requesting access is indeed that entity
2. Device authentication – just authenticating the user / application is not enough. We must authenticate the device requesting access as well
3. Trust – access is then granted once the user / application and device is irrefutably authenticated.
Essentially, the framework dictates that we cannot trust anything inside or outside your perimeters. The zero trust model operates on the principle of 'never trust, always verify’. It effectively assumes that the perimeter is dead and we can no longer operate on the idea of establishing a perimeter and expecting a lower level of security inside the perimeter as everything inside is trusted. This has unfortunately proven true in multiple attacks as attackers simply enter the perimeter through trusted connections via tactics such as phishing attacks.
1.2. Enforcing the control plane
In order to adequately implement Zero Trust, one must enforce and leverage distributed policy enforcement as far toward the network edge as possible. This basically means that granular authentication and authorisation controls are enforced as far away from the data as possible which in most cases tends to be the device the user is using to access the data. So in essence, the user and device are both untrusted until both are authenticated after which very granular role based access controls are enforced.
In order to achieve the above, a control plane must be implemented that can coordinate and configure access to data. This control plane is technology agnostic. It simply needs to perform the function described above. Requests for access to protected resources are first made through the control plane, where both the device and user must be authenticated and authorised. Fine-grained policy can be applied at this layer, perhaps based on role in the organization, time of day, or type of device. Access to more secure resources can additionally mandate stronger authentication. Once the control plane has decided that the request will be allowed, it dynamically configures the data plane to accept traffic from that client (and that client only). In addition, it can coordinate the details of an encrypted tunnel between the requestor and the resource to prevent traffic from being ‘sniffed on the wire’.
1.3. Components of Zero Trust and the Control Plane
Enforcing a Zero Trust model and the associated control plan that instructs the data plane to accept traffic from that client upon authentication requires some key components for the model to operate. The first and most fundamental is micro-segmentation and granular perimeter enforcement based on:
Their devices and its security posture
Their Context and other data
The above aspects are used to determine whether to trust a user, machine or application seeking access to a particular part of the enterprise.
In this case, the micro-segmentation technology essentially becomes the control plane. Per the above section, encryption on the wire is a key component of Zero Trust. For any micro-segmentation technology to be an effective control plane, it must:
Enforce traffic encryption between endpoints
Authenticate the user and machine based on their identity and not the network segment they are coming from.
1.4. Zero Trust Technologies
As stated earlier, Zero Trust is an architecture. Other than micro-segmentation, the following key technologies and processes are required to implement Zero Trust:
Multifactor authentication – to enforce strong authentication
Identity and Access Management – to irrefutably authenticate the user / application and the device
User and network behaviour analytics – to understand the relative behaviours of the user and the network they are coming from and highlight any unusual behaviour compared to a pre-established baseline which may indicate a compromised identity
Endpoint security – to ensure that the endpoint itself is clean and will not act as a conduit for an attacker to gain unauthorised access to data
Encryption – to prevent ‘sniffing of traffic on the wire’
Scoring – establishing a ‘score’ based on the perimeters above that will then determine whether access can be granted or not
Apart from the above key components, the following are needed as well:
File system permissions – needed in order to implement role based access controls
Auditing and logging – to provide monitoring capabilities in case unauthorised access is achieved
Granular role based access controls – to ensure access is on a ‘need to know basis only’
Supporting processes – all of the above needs to be supported by adequate operational procedures, processes and a conducive security framework so that the model operates as intended
Mindset and organisational change management – since Zero Trust is a shift in security thinking, a mindset change managed by robust change management is required to ensure the successful implementation of Zero Trust in an organisation.
1.5. Challenges with Zero Trust
So Zero Trust sounds pretty awesome, right? So why haven’t organisations adopted it fully?
As with any new technology or philosophy, there are always adoption challenges. Zero Trust is no different. At a high level, the key challenges in my experience are:
Change resistance – Zero Trust is a fundamental shift in the way security is implemented. As a result, there is resistance from many who are simply used to the traditional perimeter based security model
Technology focus as opposed to strategy focus – since Zero Trust is a model that will impact the entire enterprise, it requires careful planning and a strategy to implement this. Many are still approaching security from the angle that if we throw enough technology at it, it will be fine. Unfortunately, this thinking is what will destroy the key principles of Zero Trust
Legacy systems and environments – legacy systems and environments that we still need for a variety of reasons were built around the traditional perimeter based security model. Changing them may not be easy and in some cases may stop these systems from operating
Time and cost – Zero Trust is an enterprise wide initiative. As such, it requires time and investment, both of which may be scarce in an organisation.
1.6. Suggested Approach to Zero Trust
Having discussed some challenges to adopting a Zero Trust model above, let’s focus on an approach that may allow an organisation to implement a Zero Trust model successfully:
1. Take a multi-year and multi-phased approach – Zero Trust takes time to implement. Take your time and phase the project out to spread the investment over a few financial years
2. Determine an overall strategy and start from there – since Zero Trust impacts the entire enterprise, a well-crafted strategy is critical to ensure success. A suggested, phased approach is:
a. Cloud environments, new systems and digital transformation are good places to start – these tend to be greenfield and should be more conducive to a new security model
b. Ensure zero trust is built into new systems, and upgrades or changes – build Zero Trust by design, not by retrofit. As legacy systems are changed or retired, a Zero Trust model should be part of the new deployment strategy
c. Engage a robust change management program – mindset adjustment through good change management
3. Take a risk and business focus – this will allow you to focus on protecting critical information assets and justify the investments based on ROI and risk mitigation
4. Ensure maintenance and management of the new environment – as with everything, ensure your new Zero Trust deployment is well maintained and managed and does not degrade over time.
To summarise, Zero Trust is a security philosophy and architecture that will change the way traditional perimeter based security is deployed. A key component of it is the control plane that instructs the data plane to provide access to data. Zero Trust dictates that access can only be granted once the user / application and device are irrefutably authenticated and even then this access is provided on a ‘need to know’ basis only. Micro-segmentation is a key technology component of Zero Trust implementation and this paper has stated other key technology components and processes that are needed to implement Zero Trust adequately. This paper has discussed some of the challenges with implementing Zero Trust which include change resistance as well as legacy systems. The paper then provided an approach to implementing Zero Trust which included taking a phased approach based on a sound strategy underpinned by a risk and business focused approach.