Cybersecurity Concerns with COVID-19

Cybersecurity Concerns with COVID-19

We are having increasing numbers of conversations with clients about cybersecurity and business continuity challenges resulting from the rapid adoption of work-from-home scenarios to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Clients are interested in cybersecurity policy updates to improve remote access, and asking for increased employee education around BYOD security, secure WiFi use, basic security hygiene, and COVID-19 phishing attack awareness. And finally, clients are asking how they can maintain security with a dramatic increase in devices and employees accessing sensitive data and systems from remote locations.

Below are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) we’re being asked along with the advice we are sharing.  There are likely many approaches, and many other questions. Please join the conversation by posting your point of view. We’re interested to hear how others are solving the challenges.

Technology Concerns:

My corporate VPN will not handle the strain of thousands of telecommuting employees. What should I do?

Most organizations do not have VPN capacity for everyone. If you find your existing VPN infrastructure overwhelmed, it will be challenging to procure physical equipment and increase the capacity of your internet links, in a short time period.

We recommend you start by asking ‘what applications and business processes really require VPN’. Many services your business consumes are now delivered from the Cloud and are accessible directly without a VPN connection. (i.e. Office 365, Salesforce, Netsuite, Workday, etc.)

If you really need to increase VPN capacity, we can suggest a temporary workaround: Open VPN Server via the AWS marketplace. A number of our clients have done this.  You can procure the license and the VM’s in a pay-as-you-go model. This allows you to leverage Amazon’s internet presence, and by establishing a site-to-site VPN back to your internal systems, you can rapidly increase your VPN capabilities while you procure enhancements to your internal infrastructure.  Typically, your existing firewalls can handle more traffic via a site-to-site VPN than from 1000’s of remote users.

What technology should I prioritize to facilitate business continuity in a work-from-home situation?

  • Collaboration licenses. Do you have enough collaboration license for everyone? With meetings shifting online it will likely stretch your collaboration infrastructure. 

We recommend balancing capabilities along with the desire to allow employees and business partners to communicate via both voice and video when it makes sense. Video could become very important to maintaining a cohesive environment over time if people are unable to meet in person for an expended period of time.

  • Password reset infrastructure.

The pressure on password reset infrastructure will become a challenge.

We suggest investing in self-service capabilities, if not already done so.  If you haven’t, you are likely to face problems and potentially have your helpdesk over-run with requests.

Security Concerns

What are the current tactics most commonly employed by attackers to compromise my security?  

Kudelski Security has received many reports from our clients about the following:

  • Fake Users Requesting Remote Access from the HelpDesk. This will continue to grow in frequency

Organizations will need to have a robust method of authenticating their remote employees in order to avoid falling victim to this type of attack. Hopefully, the time you previously invested in having a robust password reset process for your helpdesk will be able to be leveraged to protect against this attack.

  • Fake Users Pretending to be Helpdesk Support. This tactic usually involves the attacker asking employees to install software. This will also continue to grow in frequency.

We recommend you educate your workforce on how to identify a valid helpdesk request.  Technical controls limiting the software employees can install is also a good call at this point.

  • Fake Hardware Purchasing Requests Attackers are attempting to place orders for hardware under the auspices of a newly remotely working employee.

You will be better protected if you authenticate your requestors properly. Having a process in place where your hardware vendors only accept requests from validated sources will help you here.

What are the implications of remote working on my SOC data and operations?

A dramatic increase in remote connections is going to throw off your SOC baselines and will require you to re-baseline your traffic. It could also test your SEIM capacity to process and analyze all the new alerts.

We recommend you refine your threat hunting activities since all of these new remote connections are going to make it much harder to find bad actors.

Many employees work with sensitive data.  How can we facilitate secure business continuity in a remote-office environment?

Many employees are working with sensitive data and may not be used to working with it outside of the office environment.

We recommend you run some compulsory security training to remind employees about good security practice (secure WiFi use, issues around BYOD, shadow cloud/IT, basic security hygiene, and Covid-19 phishing attack awareness).

We also suggest you may need to revamp your process to enable this type of work securely. This extends to having sensitive conversations in an unsecure environment, and will impact your research and development personnel who may be working on unreleased products. What are you going to let them take home? Or will you have to suspend certain projects if you determine you need to close your office?

Staffing & Business Continuity Concerns

What are the best ways to support employees working from home, many of whom are not used to working remotely?

Having a large influx of new remote employees, many of whom are not accustomed to working remotely will place a significant short term strain on your support staff.

Start by looking at additional resources or special incentive plans to mitigate any slack.  Do people have the hardware to be productive?, i.e. printers, multiple monitors, power adaptors, dongles for our Mac people, etc. And while many clients are enabling staff to outfit their home offices with equipment from their primary offices, some cataloging should be done. At some point, many of these folks will likely return to an office. Corporate IT and finance will want to account for all the extra hardware that was either borrowed or purchased during this time to ensure it is returned or inventoried.

How can we keep morale and momentum going, in the medium to long-term? How do I keep revenue-generating employees engaged if the pandemic continues to affect new sales?

Honesty here is key. We also recommend having an open and honest discussion with your employees about the situation as it develops. It’s important that staff are reassured that this situation won’t last forever. Maintaining morale and ‘just checking in’ on your teams through regular phone calls/video calls will go a long way to keeping employees engaged.

See this unprecedented situation as an opportunity for online training. Programs that help skills development for remote working as well as developing industry-relevant knowledge are readily available.

What is the best way to preserve capital?

Preserving capital is an important point for reflection.

We suggest effective action is to right-size your project portfolio. Take the time to determine what projects across the enterprise are business-critical given the new operating environment. It’s likely you have many initiatives that can be postponed so that staff can focus on business-critical ones during this event. Not only does this preserve capital, but it also helps with any future staffing shortages

Need an expert? We can help. Click here.

This is an on-going blog post. Please comment here with anyone questions or concerns you may have and one of our experts will answer. 

5 Ways to Up Your Threat Management Game

5 Ways to Up Your Threat Management Game

Good security programs start with a mindset that it’s not about the tools, it’s what you do with them. Here’s how to get out of a reactive fire-drill mode with vulnerability management.

The basis of a good security program starts with a mindset that it’s not about the tools, it’s what you do with them. This mindset is most evident when critical vulnerabilities are released and everyone scrambles to mitigate exploitation.

Most recently, we saw this following the release of the latest critical Windows vulnerability (CVE-2020-0610 and others), which some folks have nicknamed CurveBall. The vulnerability affects Windows CryptoAPI and how Windows handles Elliptical Curve Ciphers (ECC) as part of this service. Microsoft also released two Remote Code Execution (RCE) bugs that are equally important.

It’s critical that companies get out of a reactive fire-drill mode and work toward cyber resiliency. Here are five recommendations for getting there.

Develop a VTM Strategy
One of the most important business strategies for a security program should be around vulnerability threat management (VTM). VTM strategies should include effective, timely, and collaborative reporting of actionable metrics. Avoid simple items such as the number of vulnerabilities on Windows systems and focus on meaningful items such as remediation rates of exploitable vulnerabilities on critical systems.

It’s important to keep in mind that VTM is a culture and an operational mindset. An effective VTM program should be implemented in concert with the larger security operations organization to mitigate threats and reduce threat actors’ overall attack landscape. It goes beyond scanning for vulnerabilities and telling IT ops to “not suck at patching.”

I recommend splitting your VTM strategy into two phases: detection and response. Detection aims to ensure effective, risk-based reporting and prioritized vulnerability mitigation by gathering all your data, validating the results, and applying a business risk. Automation can make this process easier. Further, using the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) loop continually reduces the time it takes to locate and inform IT ops and development teams where corrective action needs to take place.

Response is where the rubber meets the road and where many of us pass on the work to other businesses to assist in applying patches or hardening systems. To that end, ensure the correct solution (mitigation or corrective action) is recommended by the VTM team and that the agreed-upon solution has been tested and won’t break production.

In deploying the solution, it’s critical that IT ops and development get prioritized patching and that we provide as few false positives as possible. Trust is earned through transparency and repetition, but it can be destroyed through bad data in an instant.

Know Your Inventory
Knowing where your assets are and who owns them is the basis of an effective and efficient VTM program. Inventory management is a common struggle, partially because VTM teams use a combination of sources to identify where assets live. There are widely available tools to automate and integrate inventory systems so you can avoid time-consuming inventory pulls or maintaining manual spreadsheets. I also recommend partnering with the leaders across your business lines to ensure that when new systems are spun up, the VTM program is effective.

Implement, Then Continually Improve
Don’t wait for the sky to fall to realize that you needed to practice. Just like any other part of an effective security organization, your VTM program should constantly improve. I’ve been a big fan of OODA loops for years.

They are highly effective when leveraged to continually improve an operational program where every initial Observation exits the loop with an Action to adjust the next Observation. If you’ve seen the same thing twice, you’re failing. Leverage cyclical processes to continually improve VTM operations and continually measure your own effectiveness.

Step Up Your Vendor Management
While we cannot simply run vulnerability scans or penetration tests against our vendors, we can put contractual obligations in place with vendors that have access to our sensitive data to secure it appropriately.

Rights to audit are key in any contract. I see many large financial institutions conducting audits on client programs. It’s a great way to validate how effective a program is, but keep in mind that it’s also very expensive to operationalize.

Finally, don’t be shy in working with your vendors. Build relationships with their security and IT organizations so that when a critical vulnerability is released, you know whom to call, and it’s also not the first time you have spoken.

Build a Professional Network
When I first entered the security field several decades ago, collaboration between security organizations in different companies was taboo. Today, it’s required. This sounds simple but is key: As a CISO or security leader, you must have an external network of peers to collaborate with. We must put egos aside and ask each other simple questions around the common problems we all face.

The release of new security vulnerabilities is only going to continue in the coming weeks and months. The most successful (and secure) companies will be able to look outside their network for actionable information and develop internal strategies to stay ahead of increasing threats.

This article was originally published in Dark Reading.

Global Cybersecurity Outlook: Andre Kudelski at World Economic Forum

Global Cybersecurity Outlook: Andre Kudelski at World Economic Forum

The annual cost of cyberattacks is expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021. What trends will shape cybersecurity in the near future?

On the Forum Agenda:
– Threats and opportunities for emerging technologies
– New models of public-private information exchange
– Improving organizational management and talent development

Access the Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust via TopLink.

Cybercriminalité; La sécurité des réseaux électriques devient vitale

Cybercriminalité; La sécurité des réseaux électriques devient vitale

Kudelski se profile dans la sécurité des infrastructures critiques alors que la Confédération est en train d’étudier la vulnérabilité du système électrique

La cybersécurité est au cœur de la controverse qui oppose l’entreprise chinoise Huawei à l’administration
américaine dans le déploiement de la 5G. La question va immanquablement se poser bientôt dans
l’infrastructure des réseaux électriques dits intelligents. S’ils venaient à être piratés, un hôpital, une ville, voire
un pays pourraient être plongés dans le noir par l’action de personnes mal intentionnées.

Ne pas répéter les mêmes erreurs

À Davos, André Kudelski était l’une des vedettes des panels de discussions organisés par le WEF. À ses
yeux, il ne faut pas répéter la même erreur que celle commise avec le développement d’internet, infesté de
virus et vulnérable aux manipulations.

Faute d’avoir anticipé les risques de cybersécurité, tous les systèmes informatiques classiques doivent
constamment renouveler leur protection dans l’espoir qu’ils pourront contenir une attaque. «Les nouveaux
réseaux électriques intelligents, qui vont monitorer en temps réel les flux d’énergie, relier consommateurs et
producteurs, doivent être conçus dès le départ pour être résilients et non colmatés après coup», explique le
CEO André Kudelski. Le directeur de l’Office fédéral de l’énergie, Benoît Revaz, acquiesce: «Les réseaux
électriques vont comporter des milliers d’accès sensibles. S’ils seront très utiles pour gérer la demande et la
consommation, la vulnérabilité augmentera fortement.

La voiture dans le ravin

L’analogie avec la voiture connectée permet de mieux illustrer le problème que pose la sphère virtuelle quand
elle pilote le monde réel. S’il n’est pas très grave de perdre ses mails ou de devoir interrompre
temporairement l’activité d’une entreprise, une voiture connectée piratée finira, elle, dans le ravin. Dans le
domaine de l’électricité, un réseau peut s’effondrer et, en cascade, déclencher un black-out intégral.

Voilà pourquoi Kudelski a développé des compétences dans la gestion des réseaux d’infrastructures
sensibles, aux États-Unis mais également en Suisse. Certains États, comme le Royaume-Uni ou la Lettonie,
ont déjà essuyé de sérieuses attaques. Dans le cas d’un hôpital anglais, l’enquête a démontré que les pirates
étaient entrés dans son système informatique par l’ordinateur gérant la ventilation.

Conscient de ces dangers, qui vont décupler avec l’arrivée des compteurs intelligents, l’injection de courant
par des milliers de propriétaires d’installations photovoltaïques, l’Office fédéral de l’énergie procède
actuellement à une évaluation des risques et examine le type de réglementation qui sera nécessaire pour
éviter les pannes à répétition qui affectent les réseaux informatiques classiques.

L’OFEN pense qu’il est illusoire de vouloir réguler de manière rigide la sécurité. Il est plus utile de s’adapter
en permanence à la technologie en collaboration avec l’industrie. L’important est de vérifier que des
standards minimaux sont respectés dès le départ dans le déploiement des nouvelles applications.

Partenaires confidentiels

La société Kudelski se profile comme l’un des partenaires des entreprises suisses; elle réalise déjà un chiffre
d’affaires de plusieurs millions de francs par année avec des acteurs qui ne peuvent toutefois pas être
mentionnés pour des questions de confidentialité et de sécurité. Les labos de l’entreprise de Cheseaux lui
permettent d’examiner non seulement la vulnérabilité aux attaques de type virales, mais également la nature
des composants électroniques, les puces et microprocesseurs fabriqués par les usines de semi-conducteurs.

Les ingénieurs vérifient si les puces comportent ou non une porte d’entrée cachée utilisable par des pirates.
C’est précisément ce doute que les États-Unis brandissent pour interdire au fabricant chinois Huawei de
déployer la 5G sur leur territoire. On l’aura compris, si la sécurité dans les réseaux de téléphonie mobile est
critique pour les États, elle va devenir vitale dans le domaine de l’électricité.

Article original par Pierre Veya, est publié dans La Tribune de Genève, 24 jan. 2020