Synack Raises $7.5 Million Putting Bounties On IT Security Threats

JONATHAN SHIEBER | April 26, 2016

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Security company Synack has a proposition for the hackers of the world.The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is putting a bounty out on the network and data security threats a business could face and will pay the best hackers to uncover  them.It’s a new approach to the omnipresent issue of how businesses can best secure their data and networks, and one that has netted the company $7.5 million in financing from investors led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.“Organizations have been ill-equipped to deal with their security challenges — especially in terms of locating and spotting security vulnerabilities. We bring together a global contingent of the top security experts worldwide and pay them on a bounty basis to discover security vulnerabilities in our customers,” says Jay Kaplan, Synack’s chief executive.

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Noxious Zero-Click Attack: What Is It And How To Avoid It

Article | January 19, 2021

For years, we have been told that cyber-attacks happen due to human-errors. Almost every person has stressed about training to prevent cyber-attacks from taking place. We have always been on the alert to dodge errant clicks or online downloads that might infect devices with security threats. However, not all attacks need a user’s oversight to open the door. Although avoiding clicking on phishing emails is still significant but there is a cyber threat that does not need any human error and has been in the recent news. It is known as Zero-Click attack where some vulnerabilities can be misused by hackers to launch attacks even without interaction from the victim. Rather than depending on the hardware or software flaws to get access to the victim’s device, zero-click attacks eliminate the human error equation. There is nothing a victim can do once coming into the limelight of the hacker. Also, with the flourishing use of smartphones around the world that entails all the personal information and data, this thread has expanded enormously. How Zero-Click Attacks Occur? The core condition for successfully pulling off a zero-click is creating a specially designed piece of data which is then sent to the targeted device over a wireless network connection including mobile internet or wifi. This then hit a scarcely documented vulnerability on the software or hardware level. The vulnerability majorly affects the messaging or emailing apps. The attacks that have begun from Apple’s mail app on iPhone or iPad, have now moved ahead on Whatsapp and Samsung devices. In iOS 13, the vulnerability allowed zero-click when the mail runs in the background. It enables attackers to read, edit, delete, or leak the email inside the app. Later these attacks moved to Samsung’s android devices having version 4.4.4 or above. The successful attacks provide similar access to the hackers as an owner, entailing contacts, SMS, and call logs. In 2019, a breach on Whatsapp used the voice call functionality of the app to ring the victim’s phone. Even if the victim didn’t pick the call and later deleted it, the attacks still installed malicious data packets. These grants access to the hacker to take complete control of call logs, locations, data, camera, and even microphone of the device. Another similar attack had happened due to the frangibility in the chipset of WI-FI that is used in streaming, gaming, smart home devices, and laptops. The zero-click attack blooms on the increase of mobile devices as the number of smartphones have reached above 3 billion. How To Avoid Zero-Click Attacks? Most of the attacks of zero-click target certain victims including corporate executives, government officials, and journalists. But anyone using a smartphone is a possible target. These attacks cannot be spotted due to the lack of vulnerabilities. So the users have to keep the operating system along with the third-party software updated. Also, it is a must to give minimal permissions to apps that are being installed on the device. Moreover, if you own a business and are afraid of the zero-click attacks on your company’s app, you can always seek IT consultations from top-notch companies orhire developersthat will help in developing applications with hard-to-creep-into programming languages where detecting an attack is efficient.

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Protecting against Cybersecurity Threats when Working from Home

Article | March 11, 2020

With the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many organizations are requiring or permitting employees to work remotely. This post is intended to remind employers and employees that in the haste to implement widespread work-from-home strategies, data security concerns cannot be forgotten.Employers and employees alike should remain vigilant of increased cybersecurity threats, some of which specifically target remote access strategies. Unfortunately, as noted in a prior blog post, cybercriminals will not be curtailing their efforts to access valuable data during the outbreak, and in fact, will likely take advantage of some of the confusion and communication issues that might arise under the circumstances to perpetrate their schemes. Employees working from home may be accessing or transmitting company trade secrets as well as personal information of individuals. Inappropriate exposure of either type of data can lead to significant adverse consequences for a company.

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5 Digital Transformation-Driven Cybersecurity Considerations

Article | November 25, 2020

On their road to recovery from the pandemic, businesses face unique dilemmas. This includes substantial and entirely necessary investments in digital transformation, however tight budgets are making such endeavors difficult if not impossible. Businesses continue to struggle with pivots like adopting new digital platforms, shifting their corporate model to resolve supply chain disruption and enabling a remote workforce. The inability for businesses to quickly adopt technologies that support digital transformation processes, including identity-based segmentation, virtual desktop interfaces and full-stack cloud, is hindering their ability to adequately address new threats and even to test new security systems and protocols. “Now more than ever, it’s imperative to remediate risk exposure and vulnerabilities within an organization’s existing systems—optimally from the get-go,” urges cybersecurity expert Nishant Srivastava, Cyber Security Architect and field expert at Cognizant—an IT Solutions and Services firm for which he's focused on designing and implementing Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions. “Biggest threats should get highest priority, of course, but the magnitude or even likelihood of a threat should not be the sole consideration. Organizations should also look at other forms of value that new technologies can bring.” Below Srivastava, a senior-level IAM, governance and cyber risk authority, offers key digital security vulnerabilities businesses need to be mindful of given increased digital dependency amid the pandemic. Heed these best practices to help keep your company—and customers—uncompromised. Consumer-Facing App Gaps For consumer-facing web applications, some of the biggest security threats include path traversal, cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injections and remote command execution. Of course, protecting customer data is an utmost security concern and breaches abound. One of the biggest challenges to address these kind of issues lies with lacking human resources. There is a lack of aptly trained and skilled security staff in even the most sophisticated of regions, which is cultivating a gap in cybersecurity skills across the globe. It goes without saying that employee training and investing in highly-qualified staff are among the best ways to establish, maintain and uphold security levels of consumer facing apps. Rifts, however small, can induce excessive damage and losses. eCommerce Exposure Online delivery businesses that are aware of security risks would be wise to introduce more secure logins, automatic logouts and random shopper ID verification and are preventing shoppers from swapping devices when ordering. Such measures will help thwart breaches that expose of customer names, credit card information, passwords, email addresses and other personal and sensitive information. Companies selling goods or services online also should not launch without a secure socket layer (SSL) connection. It will encrypt all data transfer between the company’s back end server and the user's browser. This way, a hacker won’t be able to steal and decode data even if he or she manages to intercept web traffic. Another useful strategy is to enforce password limitations. Passwords should be as complicated as possible with a combination of symbols, numbers and letters. Investing in a tokenization system is worthwhile because any hacker who accesses the back end system can read and steal sensitive information, which is held in the database as plain text. Some payment providers tokenize cardholder information, which means a token replaces the raw data so the database then holds a token rather than the real data. If someone steals it, they can’t do anything with it because it’s just a token. Ransomware Recourse Ransomware threats are escalating, which is why those doing business digitally should enforce a multi-layer security strategy that incorporates data loss prevention software, file encryption, personal firewall and anti-malware. This will protect both a company’s infrastructure and its endpoint. Data backups are key because there’s still a mild chance of a breach even with all of the aforementioned security solutions in place. The easiest and most effective way to minimize cyberattack damage is to copy files to a separate device. This very reliable form of backup makes it possible for people to recommence work as usual with little to no downtime, and all their computer files intact, should an attack occur. Gone Phishing Gmail blocks over 100 million COVID-related phishing emails every day, but more than 240 million are sent. That means less than half sent via Gmail alone are blocked. Experts cite imposing limits on remote desktop protocol (RDP) access, multifactor authentication for VPN access, in-depth remote network connection analysis and IP address whitelisting as some of the best strategies to maintain security. In addition, businesses should secure externally facing apps like supplier portals that use risk-based and multifactor authentication—particularly for apps that would let a cybercriminal divert payments or alter user bank account details. Shielding Teleconferences The shift to remote work after the pandemic hit has given cybercriminals more and more opportunities, directing their focus on the tools people use for work. It’s important that people recognize their vulnerabilities, particularly while they work from home. Among these are hacked videoconference passwords and unprotected videoconference links, which criminals can use to access an organization’s network without authorization. Many people who work from home do not use secured networks, unknowingly and unintentionally. Many are just not aware of the risks. To avoid online teleconference security issues, meetings should always be encrypted. This means a message can only be read by the recipient intended and that the host must be present before the meeting begins. There should also be waiting rooms for participants. Screen share watermarks, locking a meeting, and use of audio signatures are additional recommendations. When asked what his best advice would be to tweak security for a workforce that’s predominately working remotely, Nishant says that companies should start by analyzing the basics (like those specified above) against the backdrop of a wide range of ever-escalating and evolving threats. “Employees should use dual-factor authentication and make sure apps, mobile phones and laptops are updated and that available patches and updates are always installed,” he says. “They should certainly be wary of all information requests and verify the source. These even include unexpected calls or emails seemingly from colleagues.” Srivastava also pointed out that insiders at the CIO Symposium in July 2020 agreed that the pandemic packed years of digital transformation into just a few weeks. The use of third parties emerged as a major security concern to take into account. For instance, some employees abroad were unable to move their computers to their homes, so employers rushed to supply them with new equipment. In the process, some of it was not set up correctly thus compromising security. Companies should have done more to determine out whether individuals were using technology properly, such as if employees were sharing work devices or using their own personal equipment. On the plus side, the shift toward working from home sped up multi-factor authentication adoption. This is a great opportunity that today’s digitally-driven businesses should take advantage of. In short, Srivastava advocates taking a zero-trust approach. “It might sound harsh, but this is the idea that you can’t trust devices, people and apps by default,” he says. “Everything needs to be authorized and authenticated. Users should always verify and never trust, and businesses should act as if there has already been a breach and work to shore up weak links in the security chain. Finally, businesses should give access to information and data to as few people as possible—and wholly ensure those who do have access are appropriately trained to recognize when a red flag presents. By employing all or even some of the advice above, businesses can continue to thrive as the digital transformation age unfolds—and do so more confidently and contently all around.

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How Organizations can prepare for Cybersecurity

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 - Conclusion 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. 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.. Pwc READ MORE: WEBROOT: WIDESPREAD LACK OF CYBERSECURITY BEST PRACTICES /11029 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. Conclusion: 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

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