Choose Your Own Adventure With The 2014 Verizon DBIR

Rick Holland

In a world where every single security vendor has their own annual threat report, the Verizon Databreach Investigations Report (DBIR) is the gold standard, and this year is no different. Last year I began blogging my initial analysis (Observations on the 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report), and I wanted to continue that again this year.  Here are some of the high-level details on this year's report: 

  • Fifty organizations representing 95 countries were included in the data set. This included 1,367 confirmed data breaches. By comparison, last year’s report included 19 organizations and 621 confirmed data breaches.
  • In a significant change, Verizon expanded the analysis beyond breaches to include security incidents. As a result, this year’s dataset has 63,437 incidents. This is a great change, recognizes that incidents are about more than just data exfiltration, and also allows for security incidents like DoS attacks to be included.
  • The structure of the report itself has also evolved; it is no longer threat overview, actors, actions and so on. One of the drivers for this format change was an astounding discovery. Verizon found that over the past 10 years, 92% of all incidents they analyzed could be described by just nine attack patterns. The 2014 report is structured around these nine attack patterns.  
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Key Lesson From The US Airways #Fail: Marketers Need Help Managing Risk

Nick Hayes

Everyone makes mistakes, but for social media teams, one wrong click can mean catastrophe. @USAirways experienced this yesterday when it responded to a customer complaint on Twitter with a pornographic image, quickly escalating into every social media manager’s worst nightmare.

Not only is this one of the most obscene social media #fails to date, but the marketers operating the airline’s Twitter handle left the post online for close to an hour. In the age of social media, it might as well have remained up there for a decade. Regardless of how or why this happened, this event immediately paints a picture of incompetence at US Airways, as well as the newly merged American Airlines brand.

It also indicates a lack of effective oversight and governance.

While details are still emerging, initial reports indicate that human error was the cause of the errant US Airways tweet, which likely means it was a copy and paste mistake or the image was saved incorrectly and selected from the wrong stream. In any case, basic controls could have prevented this brand disaster:

  • US Airways could have built a process where all outgoing posts that contain an image must be reviewed by a secondary reviewer or manager;
  • It could have segregated its social content library so that posts flagged for spam don’t appear for outgoing posts;
  • It could have leveraged technology that previews the full post and image before publishing.
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Big Data Initiatives Can Lead To Big Security Problems For Asia Pacific Firms

Asia Pacific firms are gradually beginning to understand how important big data is for responding to rising customer expectations and becoming customer-obsessed to gain a competitive edge in the age of the customer. Data from our Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Survey, Q4 2013 shows that 40% of organizations across Asia Pacific expect to increase their spending on big data solutions in 2014.

In addition to traditional structured data (from ERP and other core transactional systems), organizations are increasing seeking insight from unstructured data originating in both internal (IM, email) and external (social networks, sensors) sources to enhance the business value of data. But these initiatives pose a significant challenge to security and risk professionals:

  • Protecting sensitive data from fraudsters. Today’s fraudsters are active both inside and outside of firms, working to steal business-critical data. Inadequately secured and poorly controlled big data environments can potentially make the job of these malicious actors easier by reducing the number of systems or entry points that they must compromise in order to steal the data they need.For example, the personal data of 20 million South Koreans (40% of the country’s population) was stolen by a contract worker at the Korea Credit Bureau.
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What Asia Pacific Firms Must Learn From The Data Privacy Breach In Australia

It was recently revealed that the personal details of 10,000 asylum-seekers housed in Australia were accidently leaked via the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website. This has damaged asylum-seekers’ trust in the Australian government and, according to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, potentially put lives at risk. Such incidents represent significant breaches of local regulations and can result in heavy penalties.

Recent amendments to existing privacy laws in Australia and Hong Kong allow each country’s privacy commissioner to enforce significant penalties for repeated or serious data breaches. Countries like Japan and Taiwan, where new privacy laws have been passed and/or existing ones are being enforced more strictly, also assess penalties for noncompliance.

You must treat the protection of sensitive customer data as a core responsibility essential to your enterprise’s success. Help earn and retain customer trust by formulating a comprehensive strategy for complying with local privacy regulations that includes the following action items:

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New Research: CISOs Need To Add Customer Obsession To Their Job Description

Edward Ferrara

The CISO And The Customer

Next month Forrester will publish research focusing on the role the customer plays in security planning. Customer attitudes are changing, and companies need to recognize these changes or risk losing customers. These changes put enormous attention on the CISO and the security team. But CISOs should also look at this as a big opportunity for CISOs to move from the back office to the front office. Security incidents, managed well, can actually enhance customer perceptions of a company; managed poorly, they can be devastating. If customers lose trust in a company because of the way the business handles personal data and privacy, they will easily take their business elsewhere. Sales will fall, stock prices will follow, and the CISO will be accountable. CISOs need to improve their security program by focusing on the company’s true customers – the ones that create revenue – clarifying and speeding communications and implementing customer-focused security controls.  Look for it next month!

Target Breach: Vendors, You're Not Wrestlers, And This Isn't The WWE

Rick Holland

Yesterday, Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story providing some alarming details on the Target breach.  The article, “Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It,” didn’t paint a pretty picture of Target’s response. 

Some of the highlights in case you haven't read it yet: 

  • Six months before the incident, Target invested $1.6 million in FireEye technology.
  • Target had a team of security specialists in Bangalore monitoring the environment.
  • On Saturday November 30, FireEye identified and alerted on the exfiltration malware. By all accounts this wasn't sophisticated malware; the article states that even Symantec Endpoint Protection detected it. 
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Competition For The Established CIA Triad

Andrew Rose

The information security profession is built on three fundamental tenets, those of confidentiality, availability, and integrity. Increasingly, however, I see two things happening:

-       Organizations are reprioritising these to reflect their significance within their organization, with confidentiality often trailing to availability and integrity; or

-       Additional aspects such as authentication, authorization, non-repudiation etc. are supplementing the CIA triad.

It seems that there may be a growing group of S&R professionals who are dissatisfied with these concepts, feeling that they are ambiguous or incomplete, and some find it troublesome that they lack standard units of measurement.

It was with interest, therefore, that I noted a competition issued by the O-ISM3 Consortium, an organization that focuses on fostering alignment between security objectives and business goals. Their challenge lays out a use case for participants to navigate. It involves a mock audit on a travel company and presents entrants with the audit findings. The participants are then challenged to create a set of audit questions that would lead to these responses, but they have to choose one of two alternative paths – either their questions must all include references to C, I, and A, or none of them may.

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Symantec Challenges Financial Services Security

Edward Ferrara

Symantec Challenges Financial Services Security

In this age of the customer, there is nothing more important than the effective and safe operation of the global financial system. Trillions of dollars move around the world because of a well-oiled financial services system. Most consumers take our financial services system for granted. They get paid, have the money direct deposited into their account, pay bills, use their ATM card to get cash, and put family valuables in the safety deposit box. The consumer’s assumption is that their cash, investments and valuables are safe.

Symantec’s 2014 CyberWar Games set out to prove or disprove how correct are these assumptions. Symantec’s cyberwar event is the brainchild of Samir Kapuria, a Symantec vice president within the Information Security Group. Symantec structures the event as a series of playoff events. Teams form and compete, earning points for creating and discovering exploits. Out of this process, the ten best teams travel to Symantec’s Mountain View, California headquarters to compete in the finals.

Not Just Hackers Need Apply

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Adoption Of Managed Security Services Is On The Rise In Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific (AP) organizations have historically been slower to outsource critical information security functions, largely due to concerns that letting external parties access internal networks and manage IT security operations exposes them to too much risk. They have also not fully understood the real business benefits of outsourcing partnerships from a security perspective. However, this trend has recently started to reverse. I have just published a report that outlines the key factors contributing to this change:

  • Skill shortages are leading to higher risk exposure. Scarce internal security skills and a dearth of deep technical specialists in the labor pool are ongoing challenges for organizations around the world. This not only raises the cost of staffing and severely restricts efficiency, it may also increase the costs of security breaches by giving cybercriminals more time to carry out attacks undetected; at least one study indicates that the majority of reported breaches are not discovered for months or even years. The early adopters of managed security services in AP tell us that external service providers’ staff have more technical knowledge and skill than their internal employees.
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You Should Attend Next Year’s RSA Conference Innovation Sandbox

Rick Holland

Last week I attended the RSA Conference (RSAC) Innovation Sandbox for the first time.  Not only was I an attendee, but I also was fortunate enough to host a CTO panel during the event. For those that aren’t aware, the Innovation Sandbox is one of the more popular programs of the RSAC week.  The highlight of the Innovation Sandbox is the competition for the coveted “Most Innovative Company at the RSA Conference” award.  This is basically the information security version of ABC’s Shark Tank.  If you want to learn about the up-and-coming vendors and technologies, this is one place to do it. To participate, companies had to meet the following criteria: 

  • The product has been in the market for less than one year (launched after February 2013).
  • The company must be privately held, with less than $5M in revenue in 2013.
  • The product has the potential to make a significant impact on the information security space.
  • The product can be demonstrated live and on-site during Innovation Sandbox.
  • The company has a management team that has proven successful in the delivery of products to market.
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