In today’s rapidly shifting risk landscape, IT security professionals have to do more than just build up a wall of defensive solutions in the hopes that it will be sufficient to ward off a cyber attack.
They also have to face the possibility that a cyber attack might be unavoidable and figure out how to keep that from shutting down their organisation. That’s why an essential part of any cyber security strategy is building cyber resilience.
What is cyber resilience?
Cyber resilience is the ability of organisations to stay agile if they become the victim of a cyber attack. Weaving it into your cyber security strategy gives you an edge when you need to act fast.
By making smart choices when selecting defensive solutions, you don’t just gain protection against cyber attacks – you also gain valuable tools that empower your business to pivot as needed to minimise business disruption in the event of a successful cyber attack.
Why does it matter to my business?
If you think about what might happen to your business during a successful cyber attack scenario:
Would your operations grind to a halt?
How much money would you lose from the resulting downtime?
Today’s cyber attacks are more complex and more dangerous than ever before. Cyber security experts are innovating all the time, but so are the criminals – and they are just as motivated to damage your business as you are to defend it.
By building cyber resilience, organisations can ensure that they are agile and ready to act fast, deploying smart tools that maximise their defensive resources in case of trouble.
How can I boost my company’s cyber resilience?
A cyber resilient organisation has a variety of tools at their fingertips that can minimise business disruption in the event of a cyber attack. Build your cyber resilience by adding solutions with features that enable you to act fast in order to segment, block and stop damage. These solutions would include:
Email Security Gateway
Security Awareness Training
Advanced Endpoint Protection
Mobile Threat Defence
Vulnerability and Patch Management
24/7/365 Device Monitoring
Privileged Access Management
User Admin Privilege
Cloud Access Security Broker
Network & Log Security Monitoring
Back Up and Disaster Recovery
Technical defensive tools alone aren’t enough to protect a business anymore. That’s why embracing cyber resilience is crucial if companies want to truly protect themselves against cyber crime. Cyber resilient organisations combine strong security solutions with active, people-based defences for flexibility of response during a cyber attack.
Save time, money and resource with our cost-effective managed cyber security services designed to keep your users safe, protect your core infrastructure, enhance your security and mitigate risk. By utilising our expertise and experience you’re leveraging an enhanced team who are constantly trained and certified in all specialist areas.
We work alongside industry-leading vendor partners and invest the time and resources, so you don’t have to.
When you are busy running a SME with 101+ things to manage, you could be forgiven for thinking all bases are covered with O365 native security features and an antivirus product.
But with cyber criminals innovating faster than entry-level security features can keep pace with, affordable managed security services protect your core infrastructure without taking up your time or resources to manage them.
Security Posture-as-a-Service Animation
Watch our short animation to see how Security Posture-as-a-Service allows you to enhance your security posture, while being free to run your business.
Need to improve your cyber security posture?
Whether you’re just starting out, or know you need to invest more in technology and resource, our handy calculator, featured on the MyRedFort community, offers a comparison between taking it in-house vs using a managed security service.
Cyber security debt is a result of the perfect storm businesses face as they accelerate towards digital transformation.
Expanding cyber attack surfaces, lack of investment in technology and skills are exposing SMEs to great risk.
A perfect storm
Arguably, businesses have needed to focus on keeping their workforce productive and providing continuity in their performance for their customers. This has led to a large proportion of the workforce working outside the usual place of work, often using their own devices.
As a business leader, it also won’t have escaped your notice the reports across various media of the alarming rise in cyber attacks such as phishing scams and ransomware demands. This isn’t scaremongering, it’s fact. SMEs are now the main target of cyber criminals because they know they’re easier to breach than larger enterprises who have many more safeguards in place.
What is Security Debt?
Security debt is the continuing accumulation of security vulnerabilities in your software that compound to make it harder (read: impossible) to deploy enough remediation to secure your data and people from attacks. Unlike technical debt, which may get in the way of releasing new features for the needs of the business, the growing pile of security vulnerabilities puts your organisation at an increased risk from cyber attacks.
How do I know if I have security debt?
Unless you live and breathe your own technology environment the likelihood is, things are getting missed. Whether you’re aware of it or not, it’s likely you already have some security debt. This is because the threat landscape is continually shifting and the number of technologies available on the market to fix problems are vast. Throwing individual technologies at specific cyber issues isn’t the answer.
For example, many businesses think Microsoft 365 and their Antivirus has their needs covered – this simply isn’t the case. As a business grows it’s exposed to greater and greater risk as security controls don’t keep ahead of the complexities and gaps when a patchwork cyber security strategy is in place. Cyber security debt accumulates as a result of failing to implement the right security controls and cyber security strategy.
I can’t see or feel the debt, why should I care?
The cost of reducing or eliminating security debt is far less than the potential cost of a data breach in terms of incident response, fines, loss of customer and investor trust, and possibly litigation. In many ways, it should be considered an investment – an insurance policy, if you like.
Be smarter, more is not more
No business has unlimited budget or skills within their business to throw at their security posture, nor should it be required. Some businesses buy way too much security software because they think more is more.
The key is understanding what you need to protect and applying the right resource to it.
Start the conversation
Talk to your employees – Tell them how to look after your data and behave online.
Talk to your board – Get them to understand the importance of prioritising cyber security and the implications for business continuity if it’s not .
Talk to us – Even implementing basic security best practices or managing a limited amount of cyber security technology can be a big task without any, or the right, staff. We know our stuff and are happy to take time to understand what your business needs.
Discover a boardroom case for cyber security as a managed service!
Cyber attacks on British businesses are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated – that’s a dangerous combination. Although an attack remains statistically unlikely, the chances are increasing almost daily.
Despite these trends, too many firms are still adopting passive, reactive policies, only reacting after an attack has happened. The question to ask yourself and your board of directors is whether you would be happy to leave the contents of your home uninsured, and only react if you had a burglary.
Think of your cyber security strategy as an insurance policy. While the best tools used to be affordable only to large enterprises, they are now much more accessible to SMEs. Given this, the challenge becomes how to bring it onto your management team’s agenda.
IT needs to be an innovator
As a highly digital economy, it is vital to be at the top of your game in the UK market. Whether your customers are B2B or B2C, evolving customer demands, operational efficiency, and the need to differentiate your products or services means IT needs to be at the centre of everything you do.
To do so, the limited IT resources you have cannot be consumed by tactical activities such as cyber security defences. Bailing water out of a leaking boat is a guaranteed way to ensure you never have the time or focus to drive new digital products or experiences for your customers.
By outsourcing “keeping the lights on” IT tasks such as cyber security, internal IT teams can be put to much more strategic use to innovate, create and develop. In the digital age, the reality is that every business initiative is an IT initiative – or at the very least needs involvement from IT.
Communicate the cost of an incident
Although the most common link is with paying a ransom demand, there are many ancillary costs associated to a cyber security incident – so much so that the response to the incident often proves much more expensive than preventing them in the first place.
And that assessment does not factor in the great intangible of reputational damage – the loss of public trust. In short, if your customers lose trust in you, they will leave.
Not only that, but it is estimated that only 35% of SMBs could remain profitable for more than three months without access to vital data.
To compound the issue, there is a recognised cyber security skills shortage in the UK. This makes it difficult to hire in specialist cyber security professionals, and as a result it can mean IT generalists without specific cyber skills trying to plug the gap.
Protecting the core of your business
More than 90% of successful hacks and data breaches start with phishing scams. By focusing on this threat and eliminating it, you can significantly reduce the cyber security risk factor.
By adopting cyber security as a managed service, you can focus on what matters to your without worrying about managing the burden of day-to-day IT infrastructure. With NetUtils managed services, you gain access to their highly trained, certified and experienced technical team who will manage, review and maintain your critical infrastructure so you don’t have to.
Managed cyber security versus in-house
Four ways managed cyber security services trump in-house recruitment:
Remove the pain and cost of recruitment: The cyber security skills shortage in the UK makes it difficult and expensive to recruit in-house
Short term-ism: The average tenure of senior security leaders is less than 3 years
Fills knowledge gaps: Only 6% of companies have a CISO on the board of directors, with the result being a lack of focus on security strategy
Lack of skills: The number of technologies needed in a comprehensive security strategy make it hard to acquire those skills in-house
From tighter regulations for public sector to ransomware and the continued rise of the remote workforce, the senior management team at NetUtils offer their observations on how businesses are adapting to the evolving working landscape.
The ‘great return to the office’ has not materialised as expected by most, with more organisations opting to have more staff working remotely as a permanent option.
The first of the studies that have looked at issues such as productivity and mental wellbeing are starting to emerge and, in many instances, home working seems to be on parity with office working and, in some cases, proving a benefit. However, organisations are now looking at the often-temporary measures rushed out to support home workers that are now becoming standard.
Where masses of laptops were hurriedly deployed, and cloud based filesharing systems were utilised to help teams collaborate – these devices and platforms need to be audited for security and compliance to standards such as GDPR. This will inevitably trigger more use of cyber security as a service – especially as the current shortage of skilled IT and Infosec staff grows.
Although Ransomware isn’t new, the last year has seen its meteoric rise in the public consciousness and indications show this year is, unfortunately, more of the same.
However, the move by AXA, one of Europe’s largest insurers, to stop offering new insurance policies that cover ransom payments to criminals for French policy holders may be the start of a wider trend across the region during 2022.
The logic is that ransom payments encourage more ransomware attacks and drive up the cost of cyber security insurance policies. Although UK companies can still gain insurance policies that will pay ransoms – assuming you can prove no liability, it’s likely that AXA’s position might spread.
The whole market for insuring against all forms of cyber-attack and outage is an interesting area and I suspect that this will gain a great deal more attention from enterprises.
Tighter regulatory oversight for the public sector.
The NHS is already going through Data Security Privacy Toolkit (DSPT) processes and several recent tenders for large public sector organisations have made compliance to Cyber Essentials Plus a mandatory requirement for every supplier.
If the NHS is a template, then more public sector organisations will be required to adhere to CE+ within a few years. I’d expect these requirements to spread to anybody that supplies into the public sector.
The framework is not onerous, but it is audited which means that organisations need to do more than just a “check box” exercise so it’s wise to start looking at these optional processes now and before they become mandatory.
These are just some of the issues faced by organisations big and small, public or private sector. SMEs are often particularly vulnerable if they lack the skills and resources to adapt at the pace required.
From tighter regulations for public sector to ransomware and the continued rise of the remote workforce, read all about it from our senior management team as they weigh in on their thoughts for 2022.
Looking at 2022, and it seems clear that there will be tighter regulatory oversight for the public sector.
The NHS is already going through Data Security Privacy Toolkit (DSPT) processes and several recent tenders for large public sector organisations have made compliance to Cyber Essentials Plus a mandatory requirement for every supplier. If the NHS is a template, then more public sector organisations will be required to adhere to CE+ within a few years. And I would expect these requirements to spread to anybody that supplies into the public sector. The framework is not onerous, but it is audited which means that organisations need to do more than just a “check box” exercise so it’s wise to start looking at these optional processes now and before they become mandatory.
Although Ransomware is certainly not new, the last year has seen its meteoric rise in the public consciousness and the coming year will unfortunately be more of the same.
However, the move by AXA, one of Europe’s largest insurers, to stop offering new insurance policies that cover ransom payments to criminals for French policy holders may be the start of a wider trend across the region during 2022. The logic is that ransom payments encourage more ransomware attacks and drive up the cost of cyber security insurance policies. Although UK companies can still gain insurance policies that will pay ransoms – assuming you can prove no liability, it’s likely that AXA’s position might spread. The whole market for insuring against all forms of cyber-attack and outage is an interesting area and I suspect that 2022 will be a year where its starts to get a lot more attention from enterprises.
The ‘great return to the office’ has not materialised as expected by most, with more organisations opting to have more staff working remotely as a permanent option.
The first of the studies that have looked at issues such as productivity and mental wellbeing are starting to emerge and, in many instances, home working seems to be on parity with office working and, in some cases, proving a benefit. However, organisations must now look at the often-temporary measures rushed out to support home workers that are now becoming standard. Where masses of laptops were hurriedly deployed, and cloud based filesharing systems were utilised to help teams collaborate – these devices and platforms need to be audited for security and compliance to standards such as GDPR. This will inevitably trigger more use of cyber security as a service – especially as the current shortage of skilled IT and Infosec staff grows.
Knowing where to start with your organisations cyber security can be confusing. Have you considered a dedicated cyber security platform to help reduce the risk of a cyber incident?
A combination of bad employee behaviour and dark web data spells trouble for businesses! From SMBs to giant multinationals, it doesn’t matter how high-flying a company is, unfortunately password problems will still plague them.
The struggle to get users to make good, strong, unique passwords and keep them secret is real for all organisations and IT professionals. It can be hard to demonstrate to users just how dangerous their bad password can be to the entire company, even though an estimated 60% of data breaches involved the improper use of credentials in 2020. There’s no rhyme or reason to why employees create and handle passwords unsafely, no profile that IT teams can quickly look at to determine that someone might be an accidental credential compromise risk. Employees of every stripe are unfortunately drawn to making awful passwords and playing fast and loose with them – and that weakness doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.
Many of those logins were compromised from the start thanks to abundant dark web data. An estimated 15 billion unique logins are circulating on the dark web right now. In 2020 alone, security professionals had to contend with a 429% increase in the number of corporate login details with plaintext passwords exposed on the dark web. That dramatic increase in risk per user comes back to haunt businesses. The average organisation is now likely to have about 17 sets of login details available on the dark web for malicious actors to enjoy. That number is only going to continue to grow thanks to events like this year’s giant influx of fresh passwords from the RockYou 2021 leak.
Employees are dedicated to making bad passwords
Research by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) shows that employees will choose memorability over security when making a password every time. Their analysts found that 15% of people have used their pet’s name as their password at some point, 14% have used the name of a family member,13% have used a significant date, such as a birthday or anniversary and another 6% have used information about their favourite sports team as their password. That makes the criminals jobs easy even if they’re trying to directly crack a single password. After all, those users have probably told them everything that they’d need to know to do the job in their social media profiles.
US companies aren’t any better off. In fact, their bad password problems are just a little bit worse. 59% of Americans use a person’s name or family birthday in their passwords, 33% include a pet’s name and 22% use their own name. We can’t chalk that blizzard of bad passwords up to ignorance of good password habits, because even employees who know better are slacking on password safety. Over 90% of participants in a password habits survey understood the risk of poor password hygiene, but 59% admitted to still engaging in unsafe password behaviours at work anyway.
43% of survey respondents have shared their password with someone in their home
22% of employees surveyed have shared their email password for a streaming site
17% of employees surveyed have shared their email password for a social media platform
17% of employees surveyed have shared their email password for an online shopping account
Based on analysis of the top 250 passwords found through the application of Dark Web ID’s dark web search function that uncovers exposed credentials, these categories of information were used to generate the weakest passwords in 2020 which were: Names, Sports, Food, Places, Animals and Famous People/Characters.
The most common passwords spotted by Dark Web ID by category
Every organisation in every industry is in password trouble
No industry is immune to the powerful lure of terrible password habits, especially that perpetual favourite password recycling and iteration. In a study of password proclivities, researchers determined that some sectors did have a little more trouble with passwords than others though. The telecommunications sector had the highest average number of leaked employee credentials at 552,601 per company. The media industry had the highest password reuse rates at 85%, followed by household products (82%), hotels, restaurants & leisure (80%), and healthcare (79%).
A trove of exposed data about Fortune 1000 companies on the dark web was uncovered by researchers earlier this year, including passwords for 25.9 million Fortune 1000 corporate user accounts. Digging deeper, they also unearthed an estimated 543 million employee credentials from Fortune 1000 companies circulating on commonly used underground hacking forums, a 29% increase from 2020. Altogether, they were able to determine that 25,927,476 passwords that belong to employees at Fortune 1000 companies are hanging out on the dark web. That’s an estimated 25,927 exposed passwords per Fortune 1000 company, marking a 12% increase in password leaks from 2020.
Busted credentials are plentiful on the dark web
If data is a currency on the dark web, then credentials are solid gold. Credentials were the top type of information stolen in data breaches worldwide in 2020, (personal information took second place just over financial data in third), and bad actors didn’t hesitate to grab batches of credentials from all over the world. Cyber criminals snatched them up in about 60% of North American breaches, 90% of APAC region breaches and 70% of EMEA breaches. Researchers disclosed that the average company experiences 5.3 credential compromises that originate from a common source like phishing every year, a number that should give every IT professional chills.
An abundance of records on the dark web has spawned an abundance of passwords for cyber criminals to harvest, and that’s bad news. Giant password dumps on the dark web like the 100GB text file dubbed RockYou2021 have ratcheted up risk too. That giant dump of data is estimated to contain 8.4 billion passwords. Bad actors make use of that bounty quickly and effectively.
In the aftermath an enormous 2020 hack, ShinyHunters breached the security of ten companies in the Asian region and brought more than 73 million user records to market on the dark web. A group like ShinyHunters will of course try to profit by selling that stolen data at first, but when the data has aged or there are no interested buyers, cyber criminals will just offload it in the vast data dumps of the dark web making it available for anyone to sift through.
Protect your business from password danger quickly & affordably
With our support we can discover if any of your employee’s reused passwords have been exposed on the dark web so that you can change them right away.
By utilising our certified dark web monitoring tool we’ll perform a non-invasive scan of your company’s domain and produce a pdf report that will highlight any compromised credentials.
Last week I read this blog titled 3 Big Facts About Cybersecurity In 2020 To Remember For 2021 which talks about phishing, ransomware and The Dark Web. Whilst I agree with these 3 threats, it’s important to remember that a layered security approach for any organisation is key to the sustainability of growth and development. Yes, last year saw a rise of the distributed workforce, the fast adoption to the cloud and a massive increase in COVID related scams, which are still being executed by cyber criminals, thus making your company and all your employees more susceptible and an easy target especially when security most certainly was not and is not top of mind.
For many the need for business continuity and getting up and running as soon as possible those few days before lockdown announcement number 1 massively outweighed concerns over networking and security. And why wouldn’t it! However now we face being in lockdown number 3, with no real idea of when we will be normal again or what normal might look like and still you’ve not addressed those ‘pesky’ security concerns.
So, following on from the blog mentioned above here are 3 key takeaways so you can start to take your cyber security back into your own hands. Remember cyber security is companywide and not just and IT issue.
1. Phishing Rules the Roost
Most of today’s nastiest threats have a common denominator: phishing. More than 80% of all cyber attacks are phishing based. That means that an essential part of keeping your business safe from cyber crime is keeping your business safe from phishing. Phishing attacks skyrocketed by over 600% in 2020, and that’s not going to go away.
How to mitigate the risk?
People are a critical layer within your cyber security posture and with greater reliance on email communication, the dangers of phishing are even more apparent for businesses, especially in the form of ransomware.
By committing your company to Security Awareness Training in this ever changing world will help protect against the growing and varying threats organisations face today. Don’t let those criminals leap to the golden opportunity that increased email usage creates for them to launch phishing attacks – and they’re branching out with more attempts through voice, text, messaging, and SMS.
2. Ransomware is Here to Stay
Ransomware was the most devastating and disruptive single threat type in 2020, and that looks set to keep going through 2021. More than 50% of businesses were impacted by ransomware in 2020. It’s become a favoured tool of hackers from sophisticated nation-state groups to cyber criminal gangs on The Dark Web. Experts estimate that a ransomware attack will take place every 11 seconds in 2021.
Cyber criminals aren’t just using ransomware to steal data anymore. In 2020 there’s been a trend towards ransomware being used to disrupt operations at businesses, manufacturers, essential services, infrastructure targets, and hospitals plus many organisations in other sectors worldwide. Just before the COVID-19 vaccine news started rolling in, cyber criminals were deploying ransomware against hospitals, pharmaceutical developers, laboratories, even cold storage trucking companies. They weren’t trying to steal data, they were trying to disrupt operations at critically needed organisations in order to score a big, quick payday, and they were successful in many cases.
How to mitigate the risk?
Don’t click links in emails
Scan emails for malware
Firewall and endpoint protection
Keep data backups, regular
Protect your information
3. Dark Web Danger is Real and Growing
The Dark Web is a complicated place, and just like everything else in the world, the chaotic nature of events in 2020 impacted the way it operates too. It hasn’t stopped growing – Dark Web activity has increased by more than 300% in the last 3 years. While it hasn’t been as much of a newsmaker as flashier things like nation-state hacking, make no mistake – it’s still an enormous threat to all businesses, and that threat is only growing larger with time.
The growth of the cybercrime-as-a-service sector of the Dark Web economy also puts companies squarely in the crosshairs of bad actors. Plus, in a challenging economy, even cyber criminals are feeling the pinch and looking for new ways to rake in cash.
How to mitigate the risk?
Dark Web monitoring solutions are a security essential because it provides your company with something incredibly precious: time. By having your business credentials monitored 24/7/365 with our expert human and machine-powered analysis, you’re making it possible for you to find out if you’ve been a victim of credential compromise fast. Which gives your IT team time to address vulnerabilities before the bad guys even find them.
No Company Can Afford A Cyber Security Nightmare.
Let NetUtils help you add strong cyber security protection at a price that won’t keep you up at night. To get you started we’d like to offer you a complimentary Dark Web scan and we’ll show you how our solutions can help you secure yours and your clients’ systems and data against today’s (and tomorrow’s) biggest threats fast.