The Six Major Cyber Risks of 2019

Cyber Risks

What are the six major cyber risks of 2019 that businesses will need to guard against in the perpetual war against cyber criminals.

The cyberthreat landscape is constantly changing with hackers using ever more sophisticated means to gain unauthorised access to computer systems.This coupled with some of the more established tools utilised by hackers produces a cocktail of cyber attacks vectors that provide the ultimate test to cyber risk management of a busines.

Cyber risks come in many shapes and forms and it is likely that we will see the following featuring throughout the world in the coming days and months.

Supply Chain Vulnerbilities

This is proving to be a very real vulnerability with businesses heavily reliant on their suppliers and contractors for services whether this be for the provision of technology services that are fundamental to the effective functioning of the business.

If one of the suppliers systems are compromised this is likely to result if a significant businesses interruption loss where income will be lost and reputation damaged.

http://cyberbrokers.co.uk/how-secure-is-your-supply-chain/

Mobile Applications

We are are all reliant on our smart phones and laptops and end to end encryption of these is therefore of paramount importance. Confidential information and personal data is in abundance on these devices and a hacker will no doubt target such devices that do not have the appropriate security in place.

With the emergence of 5G this it will become increasingly harder to protect mobile applications.

Phishing Attacks

These are well established methods that hackers use to overcome human vulnerabilities.

This is carried out by e-mail compromise where uses click on a link that leads to malware being spread resulting in crippling the computer system or falsely changing a clients bank details to one set up by a hacker which leads to a loss of funds.

Ransomware Attacks

There have been a number of high profile ransomware attacks namely WannaCry and Non-Petya that impacted many countries around the world. Business affected by these include WPP, Maerck and the National Health Serice in the U.K.

A ransomware attack can be very cleverly disguised with many means available to gain access to a computer network. Over the past twelve months ransomware attacks have declined but they still remain a very real threat with different strains of malware emerging. This will only increase and make detection harder awareness of new methods and defense of these will therefore be vitally important to mitigate this on-going threat.

The Morrison’s Effect

As a result of a Morrison’s employee stealing salary details and distributing these to a number of newspapers Morrisons were sued for damages by a number of the affected individuals.

As a result of this it was found after appeal that Morrison’s were vicariously liable for the employees’ actions. The court also stated that the affected individuals could claim for financial loss and emotional distress. It is therefore conceivable that this could open the flood gates for class actions against other such businesses in similar circumstances.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45943735

Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now developing at an alarming pace as businesses recognized the benefits that machine learning can bring such as increased efficiency in manufacturing and data analysis. this however brings increased cyber risks. It is possible for inter-connectivity to take place which leads to communication with other devices called the Internet of Things (IOT) the result of which can lead to a compromise of systems , loss of data or even physical damage.

Cyber attacks backed by AI would be far greater than a conventional human lead cyber attack causing more damage for longer periods. This is a new emerging cyber threat but it could be one of the most dangerous and damaging as cyber security has not kept pace with the ensuing risks.

Cyber attacks will undoubtably become more sophisticated with the cyber risk landscape becoming more unpredictable and difficult to assess the threat vectors that develop.

Image : Shutterstock

Loss of Reputation – The Biggest Cyber Threat ?

Loss of Reputation

Is the loss of reputation on the biggest cyber threats that a business faces today ?

A good reputation takes a long to build up but the emerging cyber threat landscape can ruin this reputation in a matter of hours. It is important therefore that businesses have in place a loss mitigation plan in place in order to manage this disaster case scenario.

One of the highest profile cyber attack in the UK was the data breach at TalkTalk where the long term consequences of this still being felt within the business today.

The impact on the reputation a business of a data breach 

  • Loss of existing customers
  • Loss of confidence in the business
  • Competitors exploiting the situation
  • Share price of the business
  • Loss of future earnings
  • The stigma of a data breach
  • The attractiveness of future investment in the business
  • Attracting new employees
  • Bad management of the data breach

Be Prepared 

It is essential that the business has an incident response plan in place in order to manage the cyber attack and the ensuing  fall out that will inevitably occur.  This would include a crisis management and business continuity plan.

These should be regularly updated with “dry runs” carried out in order to ensure that they work effectively..

Cyber Insurance 

This specialist form of insurance can help manage and mitigate a cyber attack at both the very early stages of a data breach and also help the business through the process. This is facilitated through the incident services that an insurer offers as part of the policy benefits . This includes public relations consultants and access to a solicitors so that sensitive data can be handled in the most effective manner.

The policy also provides coverage for reputational harm or business interruption coverage modules, typically this would encompass loss of profits and increased costs of working as a result of the data breach.

Policy wordings and intent vary considerably in the insurance market and it is therefore important that an insurance broker with a specialism in this area is utilized.

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The Holiday Cyber Risk Landscape

Holiday

The holiday season is now in full swing where people travel to far off destinations to enjoy a well earned break and to spend time with their families. Unfortutely the cyber threat remains with us …… and arguably is increased as people’s guard is somewhat down due to the relaxed environment that being on holiday promotes.

A survey carried out by Keeper Security Inc last year showed that the US posed to the greatest threat to holiday makers from hackers, however more worryingly the UK came in a second place with France, Spain and Italy also featuring in the top ten.

https://www.marieclaire.co.uk/entertainment/technology/cyber-security-holiday-destinations-523668

Some of the cyber threats that exist to indivuals and businesses are as follows :-

Insecure Wi-Fi Networks

A hotel wi-if network may be vulnerable if not secured with the latest security encryption software. This could also be said of restaurants or cafes. Attacks know as “Man in the Middle” where a third party is listening and changing information pretending to both the user and the application can intercept highly sensitive data and use this to compromise a users details.

GCHQ regularly warn travellers of the threats posed by insecure wi-fi networks and the holidayseason is when these threats become more prevalent. It is therefore important to check that the wi-if has the appropriate safety protocols in place in particularly when money is being transacted.

Holiday Scam E-mails 

It is conceivable that an individual could fall foul of a hacker before they leave their house .Holiday scam e-mails may portray a bogus website that offers a holiday deal which is too good to be true and the likelihood is that this could well be the case. Funds could be stolen by an on-line transaction with debit or credit card details also being compromised by a hacker.

Being Aware

Leaving a laptop or smart phone on your beach towel of on a cafe table opens opportunity for a speculative hacker to steal an electronic device and use data themselves or to post on the dark web to be sold at a later date.

Keeping a tight ship

The same principle applies to businesses during the holiday season who may not have their usual numbers in their cyber security team which creates an environment where threats could be missed or not acted upon as quickly as normal. A greater reliance therefore is imposed on everyday users to carry out good cyber hygiene in their everyday work schedule. Watching out for phishing e-mails and dubious website links which could lead for example to an incident of fraud or a ransom ware attack.

Back Home

Once back home it is good housekeeping to to check matters such as bank statements to ensure that no fraudulent transactions have taken place and that you can account for everything spent.

At work looking for any unusual e-mail activity or change in the functionality of your computer in case a virus may have downloaded itself whilst you were away.

Wherever you are on holiday cyber threats exist in many forms , hackers do not go on holiday so it is vitally important that you maintain the same cyber security posture.

The Challenges Facing Cyber Security

Cyber Security

What are the challenges facing cyber security in 2018?

These will involve the development of existing threat vectors and the emergence of new ones, keeping up with the evolving capabilities of hackers will never be more difficult to repel and prevent.

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

This presents a major challenge to all organisations with time marching towards the 25th May deadline. Many businesses in the SME space are behind the curve in their preparations for this and will do well to meet this deadline. If missed they will face the wrath of the ICO and possible fines for non-compliance.

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

AI and machine learning is now available to hackers to conduct cyber attacks providing a challenging new cyber threat landscape that will need to be navigated. Machine learning will also be used for the good as it can assist the cyber security sector in analysing and monitoring new and existing threats.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT theat is likely to develop further with possible focus on critical infrastructures and home devices. With it now being possible to purchase botnet kits on the dark web it is becoming easier to set up DDoS attacks.

State Sponsored Cyber Attacks

These do not look they will be alleviating any time soon and are likely to grow eminating from countries that look to install government instalibility or to carry out cyber espionage.

Ransomware

Ransomware will continue to be a major cyber security threat with new strains being developed by hackers focusing on businesses that have immature cyber risk management.

Mobile Breaches

The threat of mobile breaches is still very much with us and this could be the year that a substantial breach occurs. This could happen via a vulnerability in an app which may itself contain considerable amounts of data that a hacker could gain access to for ill gains.

Bitcoin and Blockchain

Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency made the headlines at the end of last year with its value increasing by leaps and bounds before coming back down to a more sensible valuation. Blockchain is not very well understood , but is now recognized as method in which fraud can be prevented and will gain in popularity as it becomes more mainstream.

Trust

Trust is emerging as a side issue in the development of cyber security. Trust that business are safe to trade with and that in the event of a data breach they will act in an honorable fashion and in the best interests of their employees and shareholders. This will impact on future trading and the reputation of a business.

What Will Cyber Criminals focus on?

  • Supply Chain

Cyber threats are being targeted on supply chains as their computer systems do not always have the same standard of cyber security as the main contractor this presenting oportinuties for hackers to exploit inferior systems as a gateway to compromising the main contractors systems. This is likely to continue.

  • The Healthcare Sector

This sector has always been a principal focus for hackers as the stolen data can be used for a number of things.With the standard of cyber security not being considered the most robust this presents this sector as being vulnerable to hackers.

SME businesses

The general immaturity of SME’s computer systems and lack of cyber risk management makes them a prime target for hackers . The mentality of “ it won’t happen to us “ does not hold true and is a dangerous game to play.

Adequate levels of cyber security risk management and the emergence of cyber insurance will play an important part in managing a cyber attack on a businesses’s computer systems. The challenges that lay ahead in the coming year will be huge and defending a business against such a varied threat landscape will be demanding.

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Ransomware : The Modern Day “Stand and Deliver”

Ransomware

Ransomware : It you didn’t know what ransomware was a few weeks ago….. it is almost certain that you do now in the wake of the WannaCry cyber attack that occurred earlier this month.

What is Ransomware? 

This is a form of malicious software that is designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. It is not possible to use the data and in some cases the hackers threatens to publish the data until a ransom is paid, there is of course no guarantee that once the ransom has been paid that the encryption code will be provided or if the hacker will still delete the data. If the ransom is paid it is possible that the hacker will return to carry out a further attack.

This form of malware effectively employs scare tactics not unlike that which have been seen in the days of a highway man in Victorian times who would hold a coach of unsuspecting passengers at gunpoint until they had handed over a ransom representing their wealth. Ransomware can be compared to the modern day “stand and deliver” threats that a highwayman posed.

The Impact of a Ransomware Attack 

Ransomware attacks have increased four fold over the past two years with the UK being one of main targets for ransomware attacks as we are perceived to be a destination that will readily pay the ransom.

One report has collected data which reveals that 54% of UK businesses have been targeted with a ransomware attack where revenue has been lost and in extreme circumstances the businesses have had to close. The impact of a ramsomware attack can also cause reputational issues to a business that they may never recover from.

With the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into force on the 25th May next year the emphasis of protecting personal data is increasing. If a ransomware attack encrypts personal data and the business is unable to restore the data it is conceivable that the ICO would consider that the business has not taken appropriate measures to keep the data safe and as a result in breach of the Data Protection Act.

The WannaCry Attack

The ransomware attack affected approximately 200,000 computers in 150 countries on 12th May . The most high profile organisation hit by this attack in the UK was the NHS . Outside of this, Renault, Nissan, FedEx and Telefonica were also hit by this indiscriminate cyber attack that appear to target legacy software that had not been updated. Organizations that still utilized Windows XP were particularly hard hit as this contained certain software vulnerabilities.

Managing the Ransomware Cyber Risk

Businesses should consider the following:-

  • Adequate Back Up and Recovery of computer systems
  • Patch Management of all systems with particular attention to older systems
  • Staff Training to raise awareness of what to look for in a ransomware attack
  • Regular Firewall Management
  • The Purchase of Cyber Insurance

The National Cyber Security Centre offer some excellence guidance on their website entitled “Protecting your organization from ransomware” at the attached link :-

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/protecting-your-organisation-ransomware

How Cyber Insurance Can Help 

Cyber Insurance is a modular policy and it is possible to purchase specific areas of coverage tailored to a businesses requirements.

Cyber Extortion Coverage

This includes the negotiations with hackers and payment of the actual ransom

Forensic Investigation

This determines what data was compromised and how the systems were accessed

Data Restoration

This covers costs associated with trying to unencrypt data and to assist with the back up of data.

Business Interruption

This module provides coverage for costs associated with costs incurred with increased costs of working and possible loss of profits.

There are now many strains of ransomware which are becoming increasing harder to manage , presenting a constant challenge for businesses to manage. Business do need to constantly review their cyber security risk management processes and procedures which will go some way in alleviating this evolving threat that this poses.

Is BYOD an acceptable Cyber Risk?

BYOD

BYOD know as Bring Your Own Device is a practice whereby businesses permit the use of employees own laptops, notebooks or smartphones in the working environment.

The cyber risk associated with this philosophy is very real and it is vitally important that this is managed within the businesss.

A survey carried out by Information Security last year reported that 1 in 5 businesses around the world suffered a mobile security breach. The survey also identified that the main concern of usage of BYOD’s was data leakage or loss.

Did you know that 35% of employees store their work password on their smartphone (Source : SecureEdge Networks)

BYOD Policy

It is crucial that the business has a clear and robust BYOD policy which should include the following:

1.An acceptable use policy that reflects appropriate guidance and accountability with input from other stakeholders of the business.

2.Management of Social Media as it is likely that there will an an increased use of this.

3.The type of personal data that can be processed on the device.

4. Ensure that a back up plan is in place as mobile devices can fail or be compromised.

5.Reporting of incidents in a prompt fashion in order to comply with company policy and to meet any legal obligations.

The Information Comissoners Office provides guidance notes on BYOD which are a good reference point for businesses.

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1563/ico_bring_your_own_device_byod_guidance.pdf

What are the risks?

The main feature of BYOD is that the user owns, maintains and supports the device. As a result of this the data controller will not have as much control as they would should the device be provided by the business.The main concern is the security of the data and this is monitored over a number of devices.

With the focus on data the business should be aware of the following:-

The type of data held on the device

What application data will be held on

How the data will be transferred and asssessment of any possible leakage.

The type of security that is operated under the device.

The line between personal use and business use.

Can Cyber Insurance help?

It is possible for a cyber insurance to provide coverage for cyber risks arising from BYOD devices within a business. Insurers will ask certain risk management questions in order to assess the risk and if acceptable will include this aspect of coverage under the policy.

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