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Top 10 IT security predictions for 2018

Ian Kilpatrick, executive vice president for cyber security company, Nuvias Group, offers his top 10 IT security predictions for the year ahead…

1. Security blossoms in the boardroom

Sadly, security breaches will continue to be a regular occurrence in 2018 and organisations will struggle to deal with them. New security challenges will abound and these will grab attention in the boardroom. Senior management is increasingly focusing on security issues and recognising them as a core business risk, rather than the responsibility of the IT department alone. The coming year will see further commitment from the boardroom to ensure that organisations are protected.

2. Ransomware has not gone away

Too much money is being made from ransomware for it to disappear – it won’t. According to Cyber Security Ventures, global ransomware damage costs for 2017 will exceed US$ 5 billion, with the average amount paid in ransom among office workers around US$ 1400. Companies can help prevent ransomware by tracking everything coming in and out of the network and running AV solutions with anti- ransomware protection. And, of course, you should do regular backups to a structured plan, based around your own business requirements – and make sure you test the plans.

3. IoT – A security time-bomb

IoT is a rapidly growing phenomenon which will accelerate in 2018, as both consumers and businesses opt for the convenience and benefits that IoT brings. However, manufacturers are not yet routinely building security into IoT devices and 2018 will see further problems generated through the use of insecure IoT. IoT is a major threat and possibly the biggest threat to businesses in the coming years. Unfortunately, it is not easy, and in some cases impossible, to bolt on security as an afterthought with IoT, and many organisations will find it challenging to deal with the consequences of such breaches. As IoT cascades through organisations’ infrastructures, it is likely to become the ultimate Trojan horse.

4. More from the Shadow Brokers

The Shadow Brokers, a hacker group which stole hacking tools from the American National Security Agency (NSA), created havoc in 2017 with the Wannacry ransomware episode. The group has already stated that it will soon release newer NSA hacking tools, with targets that might include vulnerabilities in Windows 10.

There will certainly be further episodes from them in 2018, so patch management, security and regular backups will be more crucial than ever. A major target of these hackers is the data that organisations hold, including PII (Personally Identifiable Information) and corporate data, so protecting the data ‘crown jewels’ inside the network will become ever more crucial.

5. GDPR – Have most businesses missed the point?

The arrival of GDPR in May 2018 will, of course, be a big story. However, many organisations are missing the main point about GDPR. It is about identifying, protecting and managing PII – any information that could potentially identify a specific individual. This will become more important in 2018 and there will be considerable focus on identifying, securing and, where required, deleting PII held on networks.

6. GDPR Blackmail – The new ransomware?

Unfortunately, GDPR will give a great opportunity to criminals, hackers, disgruntled staff and anyone who might want to do an organisation harm. They simply have to ask you to identify what data you hold on them, ask for it to be erased, and ask for proof that it has been done. If you can’t comply, they can threaten to go public – exposing you to the risk of huge fines – unless you pay them money. Watch out for that one!

7. DDoS on the rise

It is now possible for anyone to ‘rent’ a DDoS attack on the internet. For as little as US$ 5, you can actually pay someone to do the attack for you! This is just one of the reasons DDoS threats will continue to escalate in 2018, alongside the cost of dealing with them. The dangers of DDoS for smaller companies are that it will leave them unable to do business. For larger organisations, DDoS attacks can overwhelm systems. Remember that DDoS is significantly under-reported, as no-one wants to admit they have been under attack!

8. Cloud insecurity – It’s up to you

Problems with cloud insecurity will continue to grow in 2018 as users put more and more data on the cloud, without, in many cases, properly working out how to secure it. It is not the cloud providers’ responsibility to secure the information – it is down to the user. With the introduction of GDPR in 2018, it will be even more important to ensure that PII stored in the cloud is properly protected. Failure to do so could bring serious financial consequences.

9. The insider threat

Historically, insider threats have been underestimated, yet they were still a primary cause of security incidents in 2017. The causes may be malicious actions by staff or simply poor staff cyber-hygiene – i.e. staff not using the appropriate behaviour required to ensure online “health.” In 2018, there will be growth in cyber education, coupled with more testing, measuring and monitoring of staff behaviour. This increasingly involves training and automated testing, such as simulated phishing and social engineering attacks.

10. Time to ditch those simple passwords

In 2018, simple passwords will be even more highlighted as an insecure ‘secure’ method of access. Once a password is compromised, then all other sites with that same user password are also vulnerable. As staff often use the same passwords for business as they use personally, businesses are left vulnerable. While complex passwords do have a superficial attraction, there are many challenges around that approach and multi-factor authentication is a vastly superior method of access.


A third of UK infrastructure fails to meet basic cyber security standards

According to Freedom of Information requests by Corero Network Security, over a third of the UK’s critical infrastructure doesn’t meet the most basic cybersecurity standards.

The fact that so many infrastructure organisations have not completed the ’10 Steps to Cyber Security’ programme indicates a lack of cyber resilience within organisations which are critical to the functioning of UK society. It also suggests that some of these organisations could be liable for fines of up to £17m, or four per cent of global turnover, under the UK Government’s proposals to implement the EU’s Network and Information Systems (NIS) directive, from May 2018.

The Freedom of Information requests were sent by Corero, in March 2017, to 338 critical infrastructure organisations in the UK, including fire and rescue services, police forces, ambulance trusts, NHS trusts, energy suppliers and transport organisations. In total, 163 responses were received, with 63 organisations (39%) admitting to not having completed the ’10 Steps’ programme. Among responses from NHS Trusts, 42% admitted not having completed the programme.

Sean Newman, Director of Product Management at Corero, said: “Cyber attacks against national infrastructure have the potential to inflict significant, real-life disruption and prevent access to critical services that are vital to the functioning of our economy and society. These findings suggest that many such organisations are not as cyber resilient as they should be, in the face of growing and sophisticated cyber threats.”

Worryingly, the Freedom of Information data revealed that most UK critical infrastructure organisations (51%) are potentially vulnerable to these attacks, because they do not detect or mitigate short-duration surgical DDoS attacks on their networks. As a result, just 5% of these infrastructure operators admitted to experiencing DDoS attacks on their networks in the past year (to March 2017). However, if 90% of the DDoS attacks on their networks are also shorter than 30 minutes, as experienced by Corero customers, the real figure could be considerably higher.

Newman continued: “In the face of a DDoS attack, time is of the essence. Delays of minutes, tens-of-minutes, or more, before a DDoS attack is mitigated is not sufficient to ensure service availability, and could significantly impact the essential services provided by critical infrastructure organisations.

“By not detecting and investigating these short, surgical, DDoS attacks on their networks, infrastructure organisations could also be leaving their doors wide open for malware or ransomware attacks, data theft or more serious cyber attacks. To keep up with the growing sophistication and organisation of well-equipped and well-funded threat actors, it’s essential that organisations maintain comprehensive visibility across their networks, to instantly and automatically detect and block any potential DDoS incursions, as they arise.”

Employee Security Risk

SMB’s ‘lack of concern’ regarding Ransomware threat an issue

A new report from security vendor Webroot has revealed that less than half of small and medium sized businesses think they’re at risk of suffering a ransomware attack in 2017, despite the fact that more than 60 per cent have already been affected.

600 IT decision makers at companies with 100-499 employees from across the UK, US and Australia were contacted to compile and publish Webroot’s latest report ‘Cyber Threats to Small and Medium Sized Businesses in 2017’.

Only 42 per cent thought that ransomware was a major external security threat for the company, despite the recent major global attacks such as WannaCry and Petya.

However, almost 100 per cent of all IT decision makers polled for the report said they would be increasing their annual IT security budget in 2017.

72 per cent of UK IT decision makers said their business wouldn’t be fully prepared to combat threats, such as DDoS, phishing and other forms of malware infections.

“The lack of concern about ransomware is leaving a gaping hole in the security of global businesses, as witnessed by the recent outbreaks of WannaCry and not-Petya,” said Webroot’s EMEA regional manager, Adam Nash.

“This, combined with the UK’s false sense of security when it comes to businesses’ ability to manage external threats, is worrying. Small- to medium-sized businesses can no longer afford to put security on the back burner and need to start engaging with the issues and trends affecting the industry.”