Archive | November 2016

Predictions: “Security 10 for 2017” – Time to consider where to act and to “Act now”

Once a year either at the end of an old or the start of a new year, I deliver a view on the forthcoming year. Common to many industry analysts who “call” the market, it’s a view based on customer sentiment (I speak to many many customers), extensive research, market knowledge and many years of experience (an elegant way of writing “gut feel”). This year I will release the “Security 10 for 2017” earlier than normal to reduce the comparison to other market perspectives that will appear on mass in January. Important note: the views within are my own and do not constitute the views of Computacenter Group.

This overview will be slightly longer than my normal 400 – 500 words, however I hope you understand the content deserves the extra literary real estate. Happy reading.

1: IOT attacks will increase

Focus on IOT non-human devices with weak security may increase as they become the ideal candidates to be used as botnets or drones. The weaker security layers within IOT devices with less evolved security components may result in the industry acting in catch up mode as each compromise signposts the remediation required and the next likely targets. There is no easy fix in sight with between 24 and 50 million IOT connected devices expected by 2020 but security basics including changing default passwords and remaining in tune with vendor software and patch updates are mandatory first steps. Key tip when considering IOT to deliver a business outcome, start with security in mind and end with security by default.

2: DDOS mega attacks will continue and worsen

DDOS attacks haven’t gone away, in fact Akamai cite a 125% increase in year on year attacks. With an increased volume of bots enabled via compromised IOT platforms and the real world turmoil generated by the massive DYN DDOS attack in October, attackers may consider the potential for disruption second to none. DDOS protection solutions have been deploy and forget for far too long with insufficient proactive scrutiny of logs and early warning alerts that may indicate a future larger attack is pending. Now is the time to fully understand the protection delivered by the service provider as a minimum to determine the likelihood of a successful attack.

3: Rise of insider (user) driven attacks.

Sadly humans can be a weak link with non-malicious user errors and insiders encouraged, bribed or bullied into undertaking actions that compromise systems. As client and datacentre security solutions increase in capability, therefore deliver enhanced protection, the user remains the least protected vector. User awareness, education and (with emphasis on accountability and liability) is continually highlighted as essential – now is the time to act and assign the highest priority level possible to security education for end users.

4: Last minute rush for GDPR compliance

Common to other historical compliance requirements, GDPR may suffer from a yearlong “wait and see” with the result slow progress, then a crisis driven rush to design and deploy solutions. GDPR shines a light on privacy with emphasis on data that contains personally identifiable information must be secure by default. The journey to compliance starts with awareness of the key GDPR directives, quickly followed by the need to understand the type of data in existence, where it resides across the enterprise and whether it is within the scope of GDPR. GDPR assessment and remediation solutions will be a major business impacting activity through 2017.

5: Social engineering attacks may become undetectable

Social engineering attacks may become so personalised and well-crafted they may be hard to detect from a human or systems perspective. Whether it’s sales driven “Black Friday” or the Christmas “social” season updates, the endless stream of social media publicised events may act as a catalyst to drive increased volumes of “better than good enough” phishing messages with amazing offers (that sadly deliver a malware payload or redirect). Social engineering is an area positively affected by enhanced user awareness and education.

6: Ransomware may spiral out of control

2016 has proved a successful year for ransomware with ransoms increasing in size and frequency – 2017 may see attacks increase rather than decrease. Recent vendor commentary indicates as many as 54% of UK businesses have experienced some form of attack (source: malwareBytes). Ransomware authors based of the sheer volume of malware released have access to an unprecedented amount of potential human targets. Client security solution enhancement, with the arrival of specialist anti exploit solutions may slow the ransomware march but not without the assistance of greatly increased end user security education. The fear of modern ransomware will drive a review of existing endpoint security technologies to reduce or eliminate the number of “first casualties” as surely one casualty is one too many

7: Cloud computing specific attacks will increase.

With organisations moving to the cloud, dedicated attacks (compromised permissions, etc) on cloud delivered applications and workloads may become the norm based on the potential to gain the largest prize. Cloud platforms are extremely well protected but the long list of potential attack vectors including credential theft, DDOS, data theft, compromise via zero day exploits and many other general security attacks (but targeted at cloud computing) may steadily increase as enterprises accelerate their use of cloud computing solution delivery modes.

8: Credential theft will continue to rise.

A robust digital identity is fast becoming a key deliverable within modern enterprises to facilitate secure single sign on across multiple platforms. This makes a stolen credential more lucrative than ever. Digital identity and credential theft may rise to the top of the security risk agenda for many organisations with digital credentials the golden key to both known and unknown “digital enterprise locks”. Attackers are familiar with the process of stealing credentials for access or to create subsequent hidden and elevated credentials for use during an attack. A least privilege, zero trust approach to IT security must become the new normal.

9: Banking and payment system attacks will increase.

As the world moves to digital payment by default, compromise of a payment system, ATM, contactless platform or digital financial services intermediary may deliver a major shock to the confidence of the financial sector as a whole. We now have attacks on banking and payment systems that have successfully breached existing defences leveraging both known and unknown techniques. This may encourage attackers to invest further to ensure they remain one step ahead of not just those defending but equally other assailants seeking to attack first then disappear. Enhanced visibility is a must with assistance delivered by big data and machine learning enabled advanced security platforms to proactively stargaze “what could happen next” before it occurs.

10: Dedicated attacks on “HomeHub” smart technology

We are entering an era of smart home devices and intelligent digital assistants. This style of attack may exhibit nothing previously seen and include highly non standard attack modes including homes held to “thermal ransom” with heating systems shut down or the potential for unexpected orders / purchases from voice activated digital assistants that may not be detected until a later date. It is a valid assumption that “smart home” technology with wireless enabled devices, creating and accessing data continually will permeate even the most basic home / work environment. Protection of smart home / IOT platforms will evolve as adoption increases, but the initial lag may create a window of opportunity for attackers.

 

The “Security 10 for 2017”mentioned could be 20, 30 or 100 depending on the enterprise, vertical market and enterprise current state. A few of the perspectives mentioned may concur with other industry / market watchers and others may even deliver a totally different viewpoint. However all are areas of potential attack or compromise that should be considered to determine the likelihood of a successful attack and therefore form part of a pre-emptive protection or remediation plan for 2017.

2017 will be the year good enough security may not be “good enough”. Now is the time respond to minimize the need to react.

Until next time.

Colin

Twitter: @colinwccuk

Chief Technologist Computacenter UK:   Networking, Security and Collaboration

Important note: the views within are my own and do not constitute the views of Computacenter Group.

 

An update from our 2016 Associates…

First off, thanks to James and Callum for the useful tips on applying for the Associate Programme. The other Service and Sales Associates have just come to the end of assisting with the assessment centres which definitely brings back memories from when we were in their place just this time last year. I have to say, it’s much nicer being on this side of the table and passing on our words of wisdom to the hopefuls for next year instead of being put under the spotlight ourselves. That apart though, it really puts into perspective just how far we have all come since starting the programme ten months ago and it’s both scary and exciting to think we only have eight months left!

With this in mind and with the new associates nearly in place to start their role in January, I thought I’d take the opportunity to take a look at what I’ve found particularly valuable on the programme so far. I certainly feel that the programme has continued to improve the longer I’ve been on it. By this point in the scheme I’ve gained a grasp of the services and solutions Computacenter provide, I’ve managed to finally decode a large number of the acronyms I hear used in work every day and I have a much better idea of who the best person to turn to for each individual challenge I come across is.

One of the rotations which, I think really shows how much we’ve all learnt since starting the programme in January is ‘Helping Clients Succeed’. For those of you who are not aware, during this module the Associates are split into groups of three or four and are given the challenge of responding to a brief from a telecommunications company. We have to go through all the usual, well known processes when first qualifying and going ahead with an opportunity. The module concludes with each group presenting back to the key stakeholders within the dummy telecommunications business. Each group is just getting to the end of their initial conversations with the key stakeholders from within the company: Martin Roberts, Barry Binding, Andy Bryant, Derek Wilks and Darren Chapman or, as you may better know them, Pete Larson, Stewart Filler, Ade West, Gavin Bell and Rob Stanley. It’s surprising how capable and relaxed I think we’ve all felt in leading these conversations with the key stakeholders. It’s been really interesting to find out the ways in which you can best lead these initial conversations with prospective new customers. Hopefully, as we progress through the module we’ll continue to feel as at ease, especially when undertaking our final presentation.

For me, another highlight of the programme so far has got to be working on the Waitrose Account. I’ve been on the account for the past two months supporting and assisting the Service Management team. The John Lewis Partnership has been a long standing customer for Computacenter and it has been really useful to experience the Service Management role on this account.

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Working with Waitrose has given me real exposure to what the Service Management role is really like. It has shown me that Stuart Maynard, when he introduced the role of Service Management to us all in January, wasn’t exaggerating when he said the role was fundamentally ‘spinning a lot of plates’. Juggling is certainly a skill I think I’ll be able to add to the CV by the time I finish the programme! Working alongside Waitrose, our internal teams and third parties has challenged me but it has also been a thoroughly positive and enjoyable experience. They say the best way to learn is to really get stuck in and get your hands dirty and this has definitely been my experience so far on the account. It’s been very rewarding to watch ideas progress and see relationships build with the customer. The experience so far has definitely made me very pleased I decided to go into Service Management and I’m looking forward to working with both Waitrose and the Service Management and Account Team during the peak period which will soon be upon us all.

My final highlight of the year is a bit more general. A lot of the programme revolves around us building relationships with key people within the business and ensuring that we get to know each part of Computacenter well. One of my highlights so far has been doing just this, and I don’t just mean drinks at the Oyster Shed after work! As we’ve all been progressing through the programme, I’ve found that so many people put time aside to assist with your development and that’s one of my favourite things about Computacenter as a whole: if you want to achieve, Computacenter will do its best to give you the tools to do this. Having had a small taste of seeing what being a Service Manager is like, I know how busy people are and so I’m extremely grateful to all the people who so far have given up some of their spare time to help with my development.

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Admittedly, some of this has taken place in a more fun environment such as the Services University, but we’ve also all spent a lot of time with people from across the business during the working day, whether that’s whilst we are on set rotations or because they’re willing to give up time to give us the benefit of their experience in a particular area which may not be covered by the programme. So many people at Computacenter have worked here for so long and it is always useful to pick up hints and tips from those who have much more experience.

It’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to what the next eight months will bring. There’s still much more to learn and many more people to meet. Thanks for giving up the time to listen to my ramblings, next month we will be hearing from Harry Walkden.

In the midst of digital transformation don’t forget “People Matter”

We view the world through filters created by our personal perspective of “self”, the environment, experiences and our interaction with others. The end result could infer the current human state of “normal” may not really exist with the social concept hard to anchor to anything consistent or common.

The current “digital world” further compounds this state by allowing us to create a digital secondary, individualised “own view” of the “human experience” augmented by technology personalised to our social or working desires. Why all of the fluffy prose, there is no universal guarantee this new digital world of “self” delivers an ideal one with the endless change creating as much personal and emotional instability as it does excitement and enthusiasm. People matter, the feelings of people matter, the dreams of people matter – and now in the midst of the wave of “technology is the answer” dialogue, we will all do well to focus a lens or shine a light on the importance of continually reinforcing “people matter”.

I often labour when discussing personal development with our graduate new starters that personal development is owned by and starts with the individual, not the organisation. The best “YOU” that you can be becomes the best you for all who interact or experience you (both in and out of the work domain). But the organisationor the employer plays a massive part in that ongoing development by continuing to acknowledge and signpost personal development as a fundamental enabler of business differentiation.

It fills me with pride that I have been appointed as the UK country unit person within the Computacenter “People Panel” team to work with our Human Resources function to ensure we maintain our effort on inclusion, empowerment and the development of our people to ensure Computacenter continues to deliver an employee development experience second to none. No one really knows what the future holds but a few things are guaranteed, it will still be a world of people, for people, driven by people and their experiences – technology will purely assist those people to maximise their experiences and potential. The digital and technology evolution occurring now and potentially forever more will deliver an amazing ride for all, but don’t let it become more important than the “people” it serves.

Until next time.

Colin W

@colinwccuk

Chief Technologist Computacenter UK, Networking, Security and Collaboration