The Last Watchdog

MY TAKE: 3 privacy and security habits each individual has a responsibility to embrace

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Would you back out of a driveway without first buckling up, checking the rear view mirror and glancing behind to double check that the way is clear? Consider that most of us spend more time navigating the Internet on our laptops and smartphones than we do behind the wheel of a car.

MY TAKE: Here’s why the Internet Society’s new Privacy Code of Conduct deserves wide adoption

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When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg infamously declared that privacy “is no longer a social norm” in 2010, he was merely parroting a corporate imperative that Google had long since established. That same year, then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt publicly admitted that Google’s privacy policy was to “get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”. Related: Mark Zuckerberg’s intolerable business model. We now know, of course, they weren’t kidding.

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MY TAKE: Why Satya Nadella is wise to align with privacy advocates on regulating facial recognition

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We’re just a month and change into the new year, and already there have been two notable developments underscoring the fact that some big privacy and civil liberties questions need to be addressed before continuing the wide-scale deployment of advanced facial recognition systems. This week civil liberties groups in Europe won the right to challenge the UK’s bulk surveillance activities in the The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. Related: Snowden on unrestrained surveillance.

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MY TAKE: Why companies should care about 2.2 billion stolen credentials circulating in easy reach

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Some chilling hard evidence has surfaced illustrating where stolen personal information ultimately ends up, once it has flowed through the nether reaches of the cyber underground. Wired magazine reported this week on findings by independent security researchers who have been tracking the wide open availability of a massive cache of some 2.2 billion stolen usernames, passwords and other personal data. Related: Massive Marriott breach closes out 2018.

MY TAKE: What it takes to beat cybercrime in the age of DX and IoT: personal responsibility

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Back in 2004, when I co-wrote this USA TODAY cover story about spam -spreading botnets, I recall advising my editor to expect cybersecurity to be a headline-grabbing topic for a year or two more, tops. Related: A primer on machine-identity exposures. I was wrong. Each year over the past decade-and-a-half, a cause-and-effect pattern has spread more pervasively into the fabric of modern society.

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Here’s how anyone with $20 can hire an IoT botnet to blast out a week-long DDoS attack

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Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks continue to erupt all across the Internet showing not the faintest hint of leveling off, much less declining, any time soon. Related video: How DDoS attacks leverage the Internet’s DNA. To the contrary, DDoS attacks appear to be scaling up and getting more sophisticated in lock step with digital transformation; DDoS attacks today are larger, more varied and come at the targeted website from so many more vectors than ever before.

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NEW TECH: This free tool can help gauge, manage third-party cyber risk; it’s called ‘VRMMM’

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Late last year, Atrium Health disclosed it lost sensitive data for some 2.65 million patients when hackers gained unauthorized access to databases operated by a third-party billing vendor.

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GUEST ESSAY: Australia’s move compelling VPNs to cooperate with law enforcement is all wrong

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The moment we’ve all feared has finally come to pass. When government agencies and international intelligence groups pooled together resources to gather user data, the VPN’s encryption seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel. Related: California enacts pioneering privacy law. However, it looks like things are starting to break apart now that Australia has passed the “Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018”.

MY TAKE: ‘Bashe’ attack theorizes a $200 billion ransomware raid using NSA-class cyber weapons

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A report co-sponsored by Lloyd’s of London paints a chilling scenario for how a worldwide cyberattack could trigger economic losses of some $200 billion for companies and government agencies ill-equipped to deflect a very plausible ransomware attack designed to sweep across the globe. Related: U.S. cyber foes exploit government shutdown.

GUEST ESSAY: Why the hack of South Korea’s weapons, munitions systems was so predictable

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The disclosure that malicious intruders hacked the computer systems of the South Korean government agency that oversees weapons and munitions acquisitions for the country’s military forces is not much of a surprise. The breach of some 30 computers of South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), which is part of the Ministry of National Defense, reportedly occurred last October.

Port Covington, MD re-emerges as ‘CyberTown, USA’ — ground zero for cybersecurity research

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When CyberTown, USA is fully built out, it’s backers envision it emerging as the world’s premier technology hub for cybersecurity and data science. DataTribe , a Fulton, MD-based cybersecurity startup incubator, has been a key backer of this ambitious urban redevelopment project , which broke ground last October in Port Covington, MD, once a bustling train stop on the south side of Baltimore.

GUEST ESSAY: The case for engaging in ‘threat hunting’ — and how to do it effectively

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Modern cyber threats often are not obvious – in fact it is common for them to lurk inside a business’ systems for a long time without anyone noticing. This is referred to as ‘dwell time’, and a recent report from the Ponemon Institute indicates that the average dwell time is 191 days. Related podcast: The re-emergence of SIEMs. In an ideal world there would no dwell time at all, and threats would be identified before they can penetrate business’ defenses.

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MY TAKE: US cyber adversaries take cue from shutdown to accelerate malware deployment

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One profound consequence of Donald Trump’s shutdown of the federal government, now in day 33, is what a boon it is to US cyber adversaries. And moving forward, the long run ramifications are likely to be dire, indeed. Related: Welcome to the ‘golden age’ of cyber espionage.

Q&A: Here’s why robust ‘privileged access management’ has never been more vital

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Malicious intruders have long recognized that getting their hands on privileged credentials equates to possessing the keys to the kingdom. This is because privileged accounts are widely deployed all across modern business networks — on-premises, in the cloud, across DevOps environments and on endpoints. Related: California enacts pioneering privacy law.

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Q&A: Why emerging IoT platforms require the same leading-edge security as industrial controls

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The heyday of traditional corporate IT networks has come and gone. In 2019, and moving ahead, look for legacy IT business networks to increasingly intersect with a new class of networks dedicated to controlling the operations of a IoT-enabled services of all types, including smart buildings, IoT-enabled healthcare services and driverless cars. Related: Why the golden age of cyber espionage is upon us.

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MY TAKE: Here’s why we need ‘SecOps’ to help secure ‘Cloud Native’ companiess

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For many start-ups, DevOps has proven to be a magical formula for increasing business velocity. Speed and agility is the name of the game — especially for Software as a Service (SaaS) companies. Related: How DevOps enabled the hacking of Uber. DevOps is a process designed to foster intensive collaboration between software developers and the IT operations team, two disciplines that traditionally have functioned as isolated silos with the technology department.

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GUEST ESSAY: What your company should know about addressing Kubernetes security

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Kubernetes is one of many key enabling technologies of digital transformation that has tended to remain obscure to non-technical company decision makers. Related podcast: Securing software containers. Kubernetes is an administration console — an open source project from Google that makes containerized software applications easy to deploy, scale, and manage.

GUEST POST: Six tangible ways ‘SOAR’ can help narrow the cybersecurity skills gap

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The cybersecurity talent shortage is here to stay. With an estimated 1.5-2 million unfulfilled cybersecurity positions, organizations are coming to terms with the fact that no amount of creative hiring initiatives will rid them of the need of figuring out how to protect their organizations despite being short staffed. Related: Addressing the cyber skills gap. This does not mean the creative staffing solutions do not serve their purpose.

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Q&A: Crypto jackers redirect illicit mining ops to bigger targets — company servers

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Illicit crypto mining is advancing apace. It was easy to see this coming. It began when threat actors began stealthily embedding crypto mining functionality into the web browsers of unwitting individuals. Cryptojacking was born. And now, the next-level shift is underway. Related article: Illicit crypto mining hits cloud services. Cybercriminals have shifted their focus to burrowing onto company servers and then redirecting those corporate computing resources to crypto mining chores.

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MY TAKE: Here’s how diversity can strengthen cybersecurity — at many levels

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Of the many cybersecurity executives I’ve interviewed, Keenan Skelly’s career path may be the most distinctive. Skelly started out as a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician. “I I was on the EOD team that was actually assigned to the White House during 9/11, so I got to see our national response framework from a very high level,” she says.

Trend Micro takes multi-pronged approach to narrowing the gaping cybersecurity skills gap

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Remember the old adage, you can never be too thin or too rich? The software development world has its own take on that dictum—you can never be too fast. Related: Gamification training targets iGens. Business demand dictates a frenetic pace for delivering new and better technology. To perfect the process, more organizations are taking a DevOps approach—melding software development and software operations simultaneously.

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GUEST ESSAY: The true cost of complacency, when it comes to protecting data, content

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Facebook was lucky when the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)—the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest—hit the U.S. social media company with a £500,000 fine. Related: Zuckerberg’s mea culpa rings hollow. This penalty was in connection with Facebook harvesting user data, over the course of seven years — between 2007 and 2014. This user data became part of the now infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal.

MY TAKE: Michigan’s cybersecurity readiness initiatives provide roadmap others should follow

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Michigan is known as the Wolverine State in deference to the ornery quadruped that roams its wild country. However, after a recent visit to Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids as a guest of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., or MEDC, I’m prepared to rechristen Michigan the Cybersecurity Best Practices State. Related: California’s pioneering privacy law ripples through other states. This new nickname may not roll off the tongue. But it does fit like a glove.

GUEST ESSAY: Did you know these 5 types of digital services are getting rich off your private data?

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Now more than ever before, “big data” is a term that is widely used by businesses and consumers alike. Consumers have begun to better understand how their data is being used, but many fail to realize the hidden privacy pitfalls in every day technology. Related: Europe tightens privacy rules. From smart phones, to smart TVs, location services, and speech capabilities, often times user data is stored without your knowledge.

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NEW TECH: Critical Start applies ‘zero-trust’ security model to managed security services

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All companies today are exposed to intense cyber-attacks. And yet the vast majority simply do not have the capability to effectively defend their networks. That’s where managed security services providers, or MSSPs, come in. MSSPs monitor and manage cybersecurity systems as a contracted service. This can include spam filtering, malware detection, firewalls upkeep, vulnerability management and more. Related: Delivering useful intel to MSSPs. Companies are gravitating to MSSPs in a big way.

Q&A: Here’s how Google’s labeling HTTP websites “Not Secure” will strengthen the Internet

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In a move to blanket the Internet with encrypted website traffic, Google is moving forward with its insistence that straggling website publishers adopt HTTPS Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Related: How PKI can secure IoT. Google’s Chrome web browser commands a 60% market share. So the search giant has been leading the push to get 100% of websites to jettison HTTP and replace it with HTTPS.

MY TAKE: The no. 1 reason ransomware attacks persist: companies overlook ‘unstructured data’

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All too many companies lack a full appreciation of how vital it has become to proactively manage and keep secure “unstructured data.”. One reason for the enduring waves of ransomware is that unstructured data is easy for hackers to locate and simple for them to encrypt. Related video: Why it’s high time to protect unstructured data. Ironically, many victimized companies are paying hefty ransoms to decrypt unstructured data that may not be all that sensitive or mission critical.

MY TAKE: Massive Marriott breach continues seemingly endless run of successful hacks

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I have a Yahoo email account, I’ve shopped at Home Depot and Target , my father was in the military and had a security clearance, which included a dossier on his family, archived at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management , I’ve had insurance coverage from Premera Blue Cross and I’ve stayed at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco. Related: Uber hack shows DevOps risk. The common demonitor: All of those organizations have now disclosed massive data breaches over a span of the past five years.

GUEST ESSAY: Pentagon’s security flaws highlighted in GAO audit — and recent data breach

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Being the obvious target that it is, the U.S. Department of Defense presumably has expended vast resources this century on defending its digital assets from perennial cyber attacks. Related: Why carpet bombing email campaigns endure. And yet two recent disclosures highlight just how brittle the military’s cyber defenses remain in critical areas.

New DigiCert poll shows companies taking monetary hits due to IoT-related security missteps

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Even as enterprises across the globe hustle to get their Internet of Things business models up and running, there is a sense of foreboding about a rising wave of IoT-related security exposures. And, in fact, IoT-related security incidents have already begun taking a toll at ill-prepared companies. Related: How to hire an IoT botnet — for $20. That’s the upshot of an extensive survey commissioned by global TLS, PKI and IoT security solutions leader DigiCert.

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MY TAKE: As phishers take aim at elections, why not train employees to serve as phishing police?

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If there is a data breach or some other cybersecurity incident, a phishing attack was probably involved. Over 90 percent of incidents begin with a phishing email. One of the more infamous hacks in recent years, the DNC data breach , was the result of a phishing attack. Related: Carpet bombing of phishing emails endures. Phishing is the number one way organizations are breached, Aaron Higbee, CTO and co-founder of Cofense, told me at Black Hat USA 2018 in Las Vegas.

GUEST ESSAY: Atrium Health data breach highlights lingering third-party exposures

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The healthcare industry has poured vast resources into cybersecurity since 2015, when a surge of major breaches began. While the nature of these breaches has evolved over the last four years, the growth in total healthcare incidents has unfortunately continued unabated. Related: How to get of HIPAA hit list. The recent disclosure from Atrium Health that more than 2.65

GUEST ESSAY: ‘Tis the season — to take proactive measures to improve data governance

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The holiday season is upon us and the bright lights and greenery aren’t the only indicators that we’ve reached December. Sadly, data breaches often occur at this time of year. Recently we’ve seen major news stories about breaches at Starwood Hotels and Quora. Related podcast: The need to lock down unstructured data. Last year, at this time, it was announced that there was a significant privacy leak at eBay affecting many customers.

GUEST ESSAY: 5 security steps all companies should adopt from the Intelligence Community

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The United States Intelligence Community , or IC, is a federation of 16 separate U.S. intelligence agencies, plus a 17th administrative office. The IC gathers, stores and processes large amounts of data, from a variety of sources, in order to provide actionable information for key stakeholders. And, in doing so, the IC has developed an effective set of data handling and cybersecurity best practices. Related video: Using the NIST framework as a starting point.

NEW TECH: DataLocker introduces encrypted flash drive — with key pad

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One sliver of the $90 billion, or so, companies are expected to spend this year on cybersecurity products and services is an estimated $85 million they will shell out for encrypted flash drives. One of more fascinating innovators in this space is 11-year-old DataLocker, based in Overland Park, Kansas. Related: How DataLocker got its start h. Co-founder Jay took a business trip to South Korea in the fall of 2007.

NEW TECH: WhiteSource leverages automation to mitigate lurking open-source vulnerabilities

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Just like the best sourdough bread derives from a “mother” yeast that gets divided, passed around, and used over and over, open-source software applications get fashioned from a “mother” library of code created and passed around by developers. Related: Equifax hack highlights open source attack vectors. In today’s world, quick innovations are a necessity, and software developers would rather not lose valuable time reinventing the wheel.

GUEST ESSAY: A guide to implementing best security practices — before the inevitable breach

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The United States has experienced the most cybersecurity breaches in the world and the Equifax Breach was one of the first to be considered a “mega breach.”. The headlines immediately attempted to lay the blame, in large part, on the fact that Equifax’s chief information security officer was a music major and did not have a background in technology. Equifax was not special in this regard. Related: How social media is used to spread malware, influence elections.

GUEST ESSAY: The privacy implications of facial recognition systems rising to the fore

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Tech advances are accelerating the use of facial recognition as a reliable and ubiquitous mass surveillance tool, privacy advocates warn. A string of advances in biometric authentication systems has brought facial recognition systems, in particular, to the brink of wide commercial use. Related: Drivers behind facial recognition boom. Adoption of facial recognition technology is fast gaining momentum, with law enforcement and security use cases leading the way.

Q&A: How your typing and screen swiping nuances can verify your identity

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The recent data breaches at Timehop and Macy’s are the latest harbingers of what’s in store for companies that fail to vigorously guard access to all of their mission-critical systems. Related podcast: Why identities are the new firewall. A common thread to just about every deep network breach these days is the failure of the victimized entity to effectively deploy multi-factor authentication (MFA) to at least make it harder for threat actors to access their sensitive systems.

NEW TECH: Silverfort extends ‘adaptive multi-factor authentication’ via key partnerships

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Tel Aviv, Israel-based Silverfort continues to make inroads into proving the efficacy of its innovative approach to multi-factor authentication, or MFA, in corporate settings. Related: Why a ‘zero-trust’ approach to security is necessary.