Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, James Carlini, Xenia von Wedel, Pat Romanski, Rostyslav Demush

Related Topics: Cloud Security

Cloud Security: Blog Feed Post

Combating Sophisticated Cyber Threats

Industry Conference Follow-up

I was part of a panel titled “Developing Security Strategies to Successfully Combat Sophisticated Threats to your Network, while Protecting Customer Privacy” at the TM Forum conference two weeks ago.  Given the topic, and the interesting conversation, I wanted to highlight some of the ideas expressed around sophisticated threats.

Verizon’s Marc Spitler, and AT&T’s Brian Rexroad. Daniel O’Donnel from Network Critical and Ajay Uggirala from NetScout, and Martin Huddleston from United Kingdom (UK) Ministry of Defense (MoD) accompanied me on the panel.

In essence, cyber-attack is big business.  In 2010, studies from Symantec's newest Norton Cybercrime Report sited that the financial losses resulting from cyber-attack were resulting in similar losses worldwide to the business of illegal drug trade – 388B. Recent studies from the UK Cabinet office state that cyber espionage and intellectual property theft account for the same or greater financial losses to all the other categories of financial loss due to cyber combined[1]. Making an assumption that cyber espionage and intellectual property theft are as significant as this report states, and many organizations either haven’t reported or simply do not know that they have been breached, I think it is safe to assume that the number as it relates to Cyber is likely higher than the Norton report states. In one example in particular, a company lost 1B in Intellectual property over the course of a couple days.  This was a technology that this company worked on for 20-plus years. Cyber presents a relatively low risk, high reward business today, and it is safe to assume that is going to get worse, before better.

Sophisticated cyber attackers are not just aiming their capabilities at big business.  It’s hard for me even to say anymore that there are companies that aren’t being targeted by sophisticated threats since the types and sizes of organizations being attacked by sophisticated threats have become so broad.  In a blog post “Cyber Espionage – Knowing You Are a Target” Cyber Squared provided some basic questions to determine if you or your business is potentially a target of a sophisticated adversary.

During the panel, I discussed that the sophisticated attacker is not your typical smart high school kid; instead we are dealing with strategic, well-funded, and motivated organizations with a plan. The unfortunate reality is that these types of organized attacks are increasing in frequency and are leveraging military grade capabilities against businesses that have immature or no past experiences dealing with such an threat.  Although the sophisticated threat is operating against strategic goals, their attack model is largely tactical.    They utilize attack tools that are just sophisticated enough to penetrate your network defenses, while holding the more powerful tools in reserve for more robust situations.

Annie our moderator at some point in the panel asked “what do you see as being the single most important approach to respond to these changing challenges “.

There were varying answers to this question from the panel.  One panelist, Martin Huddleston from UK MOD stated that a large portion of attack could be averted with simple patch management, and locking down systems.  Another panelist, Ajay Uggirala, offered the advice that combining various systems, most of which are already in place would give the organization better visibility across the attack.  Obviously both are critical; however I think the problem runs deeper than just fixing what we have. You simply can’t defend against these types of threats as you would from a common cyber attacker.  Imagine yourself defending your home against the common criminal.   You would have locks on all your doors and windows, and possibly even have an alarm system or a mean looking dog.  Now imagine that a well-trained, possibly nation-state sponsored and trained fighting force wants to infiltrate your home.  You are simply not prepared, and preparation will cost more than most organizations can afford.  We may force them to use their more advanced capabilities by tightening down our security controls and having better visibility across our networks, but the likelihood that this will be good enough to stop a highly motivated and dedicated attacker, is difficult for me to imagine.

I said something during the panel, which likely made some, or maybe all of the audience cringe.  I said that you should be operating your network as though the sophisticated threat is already inside, because they probably are, and if they aren’t today, they will be at some point.  To further clarify this statement, one must remember that the threat is persistent; they don’t try and move on, they make it their job “literally” to gain and maintain access to your network. Here are a few thoughts that I would share with any organization that believes that they may be targeted by a persistent sophisticated threat.

 

  • The first step in understanding your risk is to understand the threat that is targeting you.  You can’t count on Symantec or McAfee providing you a burglar alarm for the sophisticated threat, instead you need to understand how the adversary will approach, what tools they will utilize, and how once they are in your network – you can continue to do business.  It’s a strategic effort to counter a strategic adversary.
  • Make investments in countering the particular threat that has, is, and will be targeting you.   Make investments in the people whom understand this threat.  Although generalists are good, it is critical to realize that no one person can answer all questions.  Utilize products that provide dynamic capabilities to defend against the attack and that allow constant adaptation given changes in the tactical capabilities of the threat. Practice as though you are being attacked.  The threat does this every day, and you are only one stop along their way.
  • Share and collaborate your experiences about the threat.  This is critical because you are one stop along the road, or potentially being targeted similarly to your business partners and/or competitors.  We can become stronger as a group than you are on your own.
  • Instrument defenses to allow community knowledge of the attacker.  This is critical because the security community takes days, weeks, and months to make a change, while you and your partners can immediately share indicators or patterns of attack, and use this information to defend against the attack.

Given the vast array of organizations being targeted by sophisticated threats, I hope that the panel and this follow-up blog post are helpful in understanding the problem a bit better, and in beginning the process of implementing an organizational plan to deal with this type of threat.

I enjoyed the opportunity to speak as a member of the panel and hope that the TM Forum will invite me back in the future.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Adam Vincent

Adam is an internationally renowned information security expert and is currently the CEO and a founder at Cyber Squared Inc. He possesses over a decade of experience in programming, network security, penetration testing, cryptography design & cryptanalysis, identity and access control, and a detailed expertise in information security. The culmination of this knowledge has led to the company’s creation of ThreatConnect™, the first-of-its-kind threat intelligence platform. He currently serves as an advisor to multiple security-focused organizations and has provided consultation to numerous businesses ranging from start-ups to governments, Fortune 500 organizations, and top financial institutions. Adam holds an MS in computer science with graduate certifications in computer security and information assurance from George Washington University. Vincent lives in Arlington, VA with his wife, two children, and dog.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
BnkToTheFuture.com is the largest online investment platform for investing in FinTech, Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. We believe the future of finance looks very different from the past and we aim to invest and provide trading opportunities for qualifying investors that want to build a portfolio in the sector in compliance with international financial regulations.
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
We are given a desktop platform with Java 8 or Java 9 installed and seek to find a way to deploy high-performance Java applications that use Java 3D and/or Jogl without having to run an installer. We are subject to the constraint that the applications be signed and deployed so that they can be run in a trusted environment (i.e., outside of the sandbox). Further, we seek to do this in a way that does not depend on bundling a JRE with our applications, as this makes downloads and installations rat...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...