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A Deeper Look Into the WhatsApp Hack and the Complex Cyber Weapons Industry  Voir?

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Phil Zongo and Darren ArgyleOn 13 May, the Financial Times reported the discovery of a major security flaw in the popular messaging app, WhatsApp. The pervasive vulnerability, which affected both Apple and Android devices, allowed malicious actors to inject commercial spyware by ringing up unsuspecting targets using WhatsApp’s VOIP-based call function.

The world is now accustomed to daily data breach news. What makes this threat particularly disturbing, however, is its novelty and deftness. This flaw allowed hackers to break into phones by simply calling a target. The victims didn’t even need to pick up, and the missed calls simply vanished from the logs. Device hacks that don’t require victim participation, such as clicking a weaponized hyperlink, are difficult to fend off and dramatically alter the game.

According to the report, the commercial spyware in question was developed by Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO Group. While NSO has denied the allegations, the incident has nonetheless brought to light the complex, secretive and dangerous world of the cyber arms market, in which companies like NSO operate. Within this industry, governments and other sophisticated groups buy advanced surveillance tools, zero-day vulnerabilities, exploit kits and several other malicious programs from defense contractors or niche malware developers.

These advanced digital munitions are used to debilitate adversary nations’ critical infrastructure, influence elections; jam airwaves to silence opposition; and spy on journalists, dissenters, suspected terrorists and a wide array of targets. According to research, the global cyber weapons market stood at US$406.77 billion in 2016 and is poised to reach a staggering US$524.27 billion by 2022.

When we dig deeper into factors that have spurred the exponential rise in the cyber weapons market, three insightful answers emerge. At the root of this predicament is the rapid shift in defense policies. As geo-political tensions rise, more and more nations are rushing to acquire offensive cyber capabilities. This props up the commercial cyber weapons industry, as governments find it easier and more economical to buy or rent digital arms than to develop their own. As a 2013 article highlighted, “A government or other entity could launch sophisticated attacks against just about any adversary anywhere in the world for a grand total of $6 million. Ease of use is a premium. It’s cyber warfare in a box.”

Back in 2017, US defense chiefs, via a joint statement to the US Senate Armed Services Committee, bemoaned the growing threat from adversary nations exploiting cyber space to steal military secrets, sensitive research and other high-value information. “Many countries view cyber capabilities as a useful foreign policy tool that also is integral to their domestic policy, and will continue to develop these capabilities,” they emphasized.

Secondly, and perhaps the most vexing, is the absence of collective will to curtail the development and acquisition of cyber weapons. As one of the co-authors of this blog post wrote in his book, The Five Anchors of Cyber Resilience, international cooperation between law enforcement agents is non-existent or weak at best. As both geo-political and geo-economic tensions crank up, according to the World Economic Forum Global Risks, the prospects of achieving a binding global cybercriminal justice system invariably pale.

Granted, there have been sporadic efforts to address this void. In 2018, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations chief, issued a withering assessment, saying, “Episodes of cyber warfare between states already exist. What is worse is that there is no regulatory scheme for that type of warfare; it is not clear how the Geneva Convention or international humanitarian law applies to it.”

History also is a guide. At the 2015 G20 summit held in 2015 in Belek, Antalya Province, Turkey, G20 leaders agreed on language pledging not to conduct cyber-enabled economic espionage. But because the G20 communiqué was non-binding, it represented only form, not substance. It did very little to de-escalate rising cyber tensions or alter deep-seated nationalistic motivations. Messy situations demand strong leadership, but as powerful nations have significant stakes in the game, we are likely to see more of the same.

Third, while commercial cyber arms creators may not harbor intentions to sell their wares to repressive regimes or criminal mobs, it’s inevitable that these tools will eventually fall into wrong hands. The NSO Group, for instance, claimed that its program is licensed to authorized government agencies “for the sole purpose of fighting crime and terror.” But once a vendor sells powerful cyber weapons, it has little to no control on how and when that software is used. The 2016 incident in which a ghostly group of hackers infiltrated the Equation Group, a complex hacking enterprise believed to be operated by the NSA, provides a chilling example. The cyber weapons were later repurposed to debilitate several institutions, such as the NHS hospitals in the UK, resulting in billions in damages. Further compounding an already grave situation, insurers are now refusing to pay cyber claims when attacks are deemed “acts of war.”

What’s at stake here is innovation, peace and human development. Hacker incursions into critical infrastructure such as WhatsApp, which connects more than a billion people across more than 180 countries, can negatively alter consumer trust – derailing innovation and human development. As Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, accentuated in a recent Time article, “Technology has the potential to keep changing the world for the better, but it will never achieve that potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.”

About the authors

Phil Zongo is a director and co-founder of Cyberresilience.com.au, an enterprise that develops the next generation of cyber leaders. He is the Amazon best-selling author of “The Five Anchors of Cyber Resilience,” a practical cyber strategy book for senior business leaders. Zongo has won multiple industry awards, including the respected 2017 ISACA International’s Michael Cangemi Best Book/Article Award, for major contributions in the field of IS audit, control and security.

Darren Argyle is a non-executive director and co-founder of Cyberresilience.com.au, an enterprise that develops the next generation of cyber leaders. He is a former Group Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Qantas Airlines. Argyle was named in the top 100 Chief Information Security Officers globally in 2017 and in the top 100 Global IT Security Influencers in 2018 by the SC Magazine. He was recently appointed Ambassador for the Global Cyber Alliance in recognition of his collaborative work advising small businesses on critical measures they can apply to defend against cyberattacks. He has nearly 20 years of experience in international cyber risk and security, with broad expertise in providing hands-on leadership, strategic C-level and board direction, and cybersecurity program execution.

Category: Security
Published: 5/21/2019 10:45 AM

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(20/05/2019 @ 22:46)

Controls in the Cloud – Moving Over Isn't As Easy As Flipping a Switch  Voir?

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Shane O'DonnellLift and shift.

While this phrase is not new, it’s now said with regularity in relation to moving infrastructure to the cloud. Providers promise seamless transitions as if you were moving a server from one rack to another right next door. While moving to the cloud can put companies in a more secure position, proper care needs to be taken. Assuming everything is the same can be a fatal mistake, one that is happening on a regular basis.

No-brainers
From a physical security perspective, moving infrastructure to the cloud will almost always be more secure. Large cloud providers place infrastructure in state-of-the-art data centers with top-of-the-line physical security measures. Organizations do not often have the budget, time, or expertise to build their own on-premise data centers to these specifications. I have seen the full spectrum of data centers over the years (umbrellas over server racks as a control to protect from a leaky roof, anyone?). Even the most advanced data centers we see on premise do not match those of the large cloud providers.

What hasn’t changed
Requirements and basic control concepts have not changed as the proliferation of cloud infrastructure unfolds. User access, change management, and firewalls are all still there. Control frameworks such as COBIT, ISO 27001, NIST CSF, and the CIS controls still apply and have great value. Sarbanes-Oxley controls are still a driver of security practices for public companies.

What has changed
How the controls of the past are performed has changed upon moving to the cloud. Here are some common examples:

Security administration is more in-depth. Some of the most high-risk access roles in organizations, admin rights, are a main target of malicious actors. Handling admin rights in the cloud is different and needs proper due care. Knowing which roles are administrative in nature can be confusing, so it’s important to implement correctly from the start. Separation of duties in relation to key administration and key usage is essential. Having the proper tools to administer access can be daunting. Don’t assume your cloud provider will guide you through all these intricacies; plan ahead.

Perimeter security has changed. While layered security always has been important, it becomes even more important in the cloud. Recently, several news stories have appeared where breaches occur due to things like “containers being exposed to the internet” with a large cloud provider’s name associated. At first blush, I have heard most people blame the cloud provider, but most often these breaches are the cloud customer’s fault. Some important items to think about are proper DMZs for critical and/or regulated data, firewall configurations, and proper restriction of admin rights to those resources.

Securing connectivity becomes more important. Servers and other hardware won’t be sitting down the hall when moving infrastructure to the cloud. Access will almost always be remote, thus creating new security challenges. Understanding all ingress and egress points is essential, as is putting proper controls around them.

Encryption. Encrypting data will be a top concern for many organizations, as the data is now “somewhere else.” The good news is the native encryption tools of many large cloud providers are advanced, and most times data at rest can be automatically encrypted using a strong algorithm. This is a huge step up right off the bat for many companies. Because encryption is so important in the cloud, key management becomes a high-risk control. Policies, procedures, and controls around key management need to be well-thought-out.

Fear not, it’s not all bad!
While some challenges may be present as outlined above, moving to the cloud is most often a great move for an organization. Improved security, improved performance, and cost savings are only a few benefits of a cloud migration. Multiple frameworks exist to provide a secure path to cloud adoption, so organizations are not approaching this “blind.” A cloud security framework can guide you through the process of secure adoption and also provide assurance over cloud adoptions you have already performed. We are helping clients in all industries with these cloud migrations/adoptions and have some great perspective on dos, don’ts, and best practices.

Editor’s note: For more cloud-related insights, download ISACA’s complimentary new white paper, Continuous Oversight in the Cloud.

Category: Risk Management
Published: 5/16/2019 3:00 PM

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(15/05/2019 @ 15:53)

Securing Major League Baseball - On and Off the Field  Voir?

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Three strikes and you're out is one of the more well-known sayings in baseball, but it only takes one devastating cyberattack to inflict huge damage on Major League Baseball or any of its 30 teams.

At Wednesday's session, "It's Only Baseball: Technology and our National Pastime - A Security Perspective," at ISACA’s 2019 North America CACS conference in Anaheim, California, USA, Neil Boland, the CISO of Major League Baseball, and Albert Castro, director of information technology with the Los Angeles Angels, provided perspective on the scope of the security challenge for an organization with such high visibility as MLB.

“Baseball has a lot going on,” Boland said. “We have a lot of fans, a lot of games, a lot of activities throughout the course of the year, and a lot of exposures around the globe in many, many countries. The sport continues to grow, and the consumption of the sport continues to grow.”

The session traced the rise of prominence of security in baseball from when security was an afterthought to today’s state, in which the bottom line is: “This is critical. Don’t mess it up.”

MLB works with numerous partners, which is often where the most challenging security considerations come into play. Boland said MLB is taking steps to strengthen partner onboarding and provide further guidance on mitigating risks.

"There's just a vast amount of partners we work with to pull this off - 162 games a year, not even counting spring training and the postseason for a club, and [multiply] that by 30 teams," Boland said. "There's a lot of data, a lot of tools and a lot of systems, and some of them are really important, like industrial control systems to keep people safe."

Recognizing the scope of the challenge, in 2017, Boland helped to implement a program to better protect the league and its clubs from cyberattacks, standardizing the security stack and integrations. A vastly increased use of mobile platforms, IoT and cloud services means the traditional perimeter is gone, putting the onus on MLB to provide simple and reliable tools that prevent attacks.

"We wanted to raise the bar a lot higher," Boland said. "We wanted to be faster than the next guy running from the bear."

Boland encouraged session attendees to move quickly to upgrade their organizations’ security posture rather than delay in search of the ideal solution.

"Any layer that you can add that just makes life harder for your adversary is a good thing, even if it's not perfect," Boland said.

Unlike the sport’s signature rivals such as the Red Sox and Yankees or Cubs and Cardinals, Boland emphasized that everyone needs to be on the same team when it comes to cybersecurity, and said it is important to share information on cyber threats.

"I ring the bell, and I think that's really important to do, because we're all in this together," Boland said.

Beyond the security realm, Castro highlighted the way that teams leverage technology in areas such as ticketing, sponsorship activation, fan engagement and scouting and developing players.

“The access to information has just grown exponentially and with that has come the ability to do all kinds of really sophisticated analysis that just makes technology critical to running a baseball team,” Castro said.

Category: Security
Published: 5/15/2019 2:31 PM

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(15/05/2019 @ 19:41)

The Evolution and Power of Disruptive Technology: Insights From an Executive Panel at NA CACS  Voir?

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At ISACA’s North America CACS conference Tuesday morning, an executive panel spoke on the past 50 years of tech disruption—and where technology is taking us in the future.

Technology has truly democratized society, according to the panelists.

“I want to impress on everyone how easy it is to disrupt technology today and how little knowledge you need in order to do it,” panelist Jed Yueh, founder of Amavar and author of Disrupt or Die, told the audience. “You can go from idea to building a company in very little time, and there are so many resources available.”

As an example, consider how long it took college student Mark Zuckerberg to effectively transform the world and how we interact socially. He coded Facebook in one week—and he wasn’t even an engineer.

Joining Yueh on the panel were:

  • Kim Bollin, Vice President of internal Audit at Workday
  • Ken Venner, Former CIO of SpaceX
  • Jenai Marinkovic, CTO and CISO of Beyond
  • Moderator Thomas Phelps IV, vice president of corporate strategy and CIO of Laserfiche

The panelists looked at industry predictions—both those that came true (the 1980s prediction that “decisions can and will be made by artificial intelligence, by computers grown large or very small like a pocket encyclopedia“) and those that fortunately never materialized—including Ken Olson’s 1977 statement, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home” and an ISACA (then the Electronic Data Processing Auditors Association) prediction that said, “Many members will leave the association if the name is changed from the EDPAA to ISACA.”

They also shared what they believe to have been the most disruptive technologies invented in the past decades. Among the responses:

  • The internet—It has democratized information and transformed the ability to transfer data
  • Social—We can take the collective minds of humanity and bring them together on social. The privacy considerations are daunting, but while consumers say they absolutely want privacy, they are remiss to hold companies accountable when that privacy is breached.
  • Mobile—We are now living in an always-on world.
  • Cloud—We’ve taken the expense away and enabled accessibility for so many organizations, regardless of size and budget.

The executives also looked at future challenges and opportunities, such as:

  • AI—How do you secure it? But even more importantly, what do you do if the data is laden in bias? If data or systems are biased, there are going to be serious social issues. AI is personalized in many ways. If a system has assumptions about certain races, for example, people’s livelihoods could be at risk.
  • Retail disruption—Amazon is considering a model shift from shop and ship to shift and shop—where predictions are made about what you want and need, and you pay after receiving the items.
  • Blockchain—The benefits are a more trusted, online, portable identity you can take with you everywhere—but there are still security issues and risks inherent with blockchain.
  • Quantum computing—The implications and knowledge needed to understand a totally new technology stack are huge.
  • The need to shift to data-centric organizations—Consider Disney, which has long been an entertainment, theme park and merchandise company. They are increasingly creating content and capturing data, and becoming truly data-centric.

Technology has truly changed the way we live and work for the past 50 years in which ISACA has been in existence —and the pace of change is only getting faster.

Where do you think technology will take us over the next decade?

Category: ISACA
Published: 5/14/2019 2:13 PM

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(14/05/2019 @ 19:49)

Dernière mise à jour : 22/05/2019 @ 09:20