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.
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.
“There will never be “silence” in the information security world.”
As the world at large reluctantly accepts digital data flows are fast becoming as important as air (ok, that’s stretching the concept slightly but it’s not completely outlandish), protection of those data flows becomes as important as protecting any other key to life. But every day new threats appear, new security challenges become apparent and our attempts to keep them at bay continue to look futile.
Today news of a Stuxnet clone has surfaced that seems to expose links to the now infamous malware that affected SCADA industrial control systems – how long it has existed or evidence of compromise is unknown. IBM researchers have discovered increased coverage of the mobile banking malware Marcher, thus increasing the target landscape of unsuspecting mobile users who may succumb to fictitious notification of funds availability. And the ever present curse of zero day, is again top of mind with Trustwave researchers highlighting as many as 1.5 billion unpatched devices may be vulnerable to a recently discovered Microsoft exploit.
I have highlighted just a few of the ongoing public announcements of security threat and compromise, a full chronicle would be never ending as new information appears in real time minute by minute. Emotionally, some may deem defence against attack a battle that cannot be won with strong evidence to support the point but that is potentially an over simplification. Fundamental security principles and good practice, no different from those applied in non-information technology arenas will help thwart attacks, increase awareness and visibility of an attack in process and accelerate remediation after attack (plus signpost future steps to realise better defence).
I started this outline with a view there will never be “silence” in the security world and for me long may that continue. Both users and organisations should adopt a state of ongoing vigilance, zero complacency and never believe the security problem is solved or the battle won. By getting the basics right, improving understanding of known good states, increasing visibility and measurement of the changes of state from known states (or the highlight of unknown or inconsistent states) and a pragmatic approach to defence based on prioritisation of the “noise” beyond the silence will help to drive positive security solutions rather than signify problems.
Want to know more, keen to rethink security – visit the Computacenter team at Infosec Europe at Olympia London from Tuesday 7th June to Thursday 9th June, stand #E295. We look forward to hosting you and will have a team of business and technology aware security specialists available to discuss security impacts – your way. I hope to see you there.
Until Infosec at Olympia
Chief Technologist: Networking, Security and Collaboration
IT security infrastructure and associated services aim to deliver the secure computing outcomes expected by enterprise organisation. Put simply via effective use of polices, process, IT security platforms, intellect and a little bit of luck organisations and their customers trade and interact in a secure manner.
But do they really? If 2011 was the year of the hack, 2012 is already becoming the year of the advanced attack. The security threat is no longer one of simple endpoint viruses or malware (even though they still exist), but one of advanced threats and attacks with a level of sophistication that makes them difficult to detect. The term APT (advanced persistent threat) seemed to be a marketing term to sensationalise and align real focus to the new wave of multi vector attacks. But no sooner had we branded them, the innovation within the attacks in question has increased.
The new kid on the block is allegedly “Flame“, a virus claimed to be the most complex malware ever found. Threat analysts worldwide have positioned “Flame” as potentially another nation state style malware vehicle that steals carefully selected data (Stuxnet was allegedly another), with a level of sophistication that may take years to analyse and understand.
In the past, this could be ignored as one of those IT systems, or technology based problems that the IT team should solve (and are paid to solve) so deemed less of a priority amongst the non technical community. But with so many high profile names (including Government bodies) now regularly appearing on BBC news apologising for data loss means it may not only be happening by stealth within your organisation, it may be happening as you read this blog (as the best malware isn’t designed to be easily found).
Does that mean it’s time to admit defeat and prepare your apology (and potential resignation letter). Absolutely not – now is the time to challenge even your most secure environment and ask yourself that worrying question “Is my data secure”? Can you really answer “Yes” with confidence?
Enjoy the Queens Jubilee weekend (and keep safe)
Until next time.