Your Vulnerability is the Target

Vulnerability exposed

Thanks to everyone who came by RSA to say hello! We enjoyed our time in San Francisco and talking with everyone. Ransomware and the Internet of Things dominated the conversations, but will these topics still be hot in two years? Probably not. As technology, training and awareness address current vulnerabilities, a new weak link in enterprise, SMB or personal security will surface – usually something we forgot existed (ransomware) or something new we have yet to properly address (IoT).

In an interview with Sue Marquette Poremba of IT Business Edge, James Strickland, CEO of Veridium, gives us “Four Reasons Why Data Breaches Continue”:

  • Hackers target large corporations and individuals alike
  • Passwords are broken
  • Digital property is increasingly becoming popular
  • Hacking evolves faster than security

There is a lot of truth here, but more fundamentally:

  • Someone is always trying something to get an edge
  • Hackers try everything on everyone all the time
  • The weakest link will always be the one to break

Many managers and business owners believe “I’m too small to target;” hence, Strickland’s warning that hackers target large corporations and individuals. While true, it may be useful for us to shift perspective and recognize that a lot of malware simply isn’t targeted at any specific entity; it is targeted at a specific weakness. The malware is launched into the internet and it simply attacks anyone vulnerable to that weakness. Automated bots scour the internet for open ports and ISP addresses that are vulnerable. Ransomware is fired off against purchased email lists and invade the network as soon as someone clicks on the infected links or files.  You get the point.

Even after a vulnerability or weakness has been remediated, hackers tend to continue using the tools, tactics and techniques they have mastered until they can develop new attacks that defeat the countermeasures. But that doesn’t mean you can simply ignore older styles of attacks – some new hacker, somewhere, is just learning to master the old attacks. Ransomware, for example, has been popular for over a decade, according to Ryan Francis’ “The History of Ransomware” in CSO magazine. It only gained prominence with the massive scale of attacks after it was combined with a technology that had been quiet for years: a worm virus.

In a seemingly never-ending cycle, security vendors try to lock down vectors of attack and hackers try to develop new ones or break existing security. The next big vulnerability will be the one no security vendor was able to predict – but that doesn’t mean you need to be a victim. Here are 4 cybersecurity tips for the mildly paranoid (plus 3 for the truly anxious):

  • Always assume there is a vulnerability – you are never 100% safe
  • Train employees in cybersecurity principles
  • Keep up the basics of security hygiene (updates, firewalls, anti-malware)
  • Work with your internal teams and external experts (MSP, consultants, etc.) to develop multiple layers of defense to delay or reduce malware and hacker damage. Should a hardware store have the same protection as an international bank? No. Add protection in proportion to the value of what you need to protect and where you need to protect them. Protection can also offer other benefits (compliance, personal information protection, full segregation of work and personal information, etc.)
  • Keep a backup of all your data
  • Monitor the network continuously to identify rogue devices (check out NetAttest LAP One for basic network monitoring)
  • Implement secure remote browsing to protect employees on the road (see what SecureShield can do for you).

No matter the size of your business, hackers are working overtime to find a way in. Not to be too paranoid, but the vulnerabilities we missed will be the ones where we get hit…  A little work now to implement smart cybersecurity is smart business.

Ready to get started? Arrange for a free 14-day evaluation of NetAttest LAP One or a 30-day free trial of SecureShield.