Business Email Compromise – When the criminal’s reading your email.
This section can be repurposed a number of ways.
Like trying to explain what water tastes like, or defining the word “the”, we’ve found that while today’s business leader is quite familiar with the term “vulnerability assessment” few can explain what a vulnerability assessment actually is.
Even more, ask three IT professionals what a vulnerability assessment is and you’re likely to get three different answers.
So what is a vulnerability assessment? How often should you have one? How much should you expect to pay? And what’s the difference between a vulnerability assessment and a penetration test? .
Defining a vulnerability assessment as “the process of defining, identifying, classifying, and prioritizing vulnerabilities in computer systems,applications, and network infrastructures”, our friends at TechTarget have published an excellent article defining the process and detailing some of the finer points. Below is a summary of TechTarget’s publication, and a few of their highlighted best practices. (For a deeper dive into the process, check out www.techtarget.com/searchsecurity/definition/vulnerability-assessment-vulnerability-analysis)
As explained by Linda-Rosencrance of TechTarget, a vulnerability assessment can provide an organization with the necessary knowledge to understand and react to threats within its environment. Organizations of any size, or even individuals who face an increased risk of cyber attacks, can benefit from some form of vulnerability assessment, but large enterprises and high-target organizations (eg. insurance agencies, financial institutions, accounting firms, medical offices, law firms) that are subject to attacks will benefit most from a vulnerability analysis as they provide an organization details on any security weaknesses in its environment and direction on how to assess the risks associated with those weaknesses.
The process offers an organization a better understanding of its technology assets, security flaws and overall risk, thereby reducing the likelihood that a cybercriminal will breach its systems and catch the business off-guard.
· Network-based scans: Used to identify possible network security attacks. This type of scan can also detect vulnerable systems on wired or wireless networks.
· Host-based scans: Used to locate and identify vulnerabilities in servers, workstations or other network hosts.This type of scan usually examines ports and services that may also be visible to network-based scans. However, it offers greater visibility into the configuration settings and patch history of scanned systems, even legacy systems.
· Wireless network scans: Focus on points of attack within the organization’s wireless network infrastructure. In addition to identifying rogue access points, a wireless network scan can also validate that a company’s network is securely configured.
· Application scans: Test websites to detect known software vulnerabilities and incorrect configurations in network or web applications.
· Database scans: Identify weak points in a database to prevent malicious attacks, such as SQL injection attacks.
A vulnerability assessment often includes a penetration testing component to identify vulnerabilities in an organization’s personnel, procedures or processes. These vulnerabilities might not normally be detectable with network or system scans. The process is sometimes referred to as vulnerability assessment/penetration testing, or VAPT.
However, penetration testing is not sufficient as a complete vulnerability assessment and is, in fact, a separate process.
A vulnerability assessment aims to uncover vulnerabilities in a network and recommend the appropriate mitigation or remediation to reduce or remove the risks. It uses automated network security scanning tools, and lists the results in an assessment report. However, it does so without evaluating specific attack goals or scenarios. Organizations should employ vulnerability testing on a regular basis to ensure the security of their networks, particularly when changes are made. For example, testing should be done when services are added, new equipment is installed or ports are opened.
Penetration testing, in contrast, involves identifying vulnerabilities and attempting to exploit them in order to attack. Although sometimes carried out in concert with vulnerability assessments, the primary aim of penetration testing is to check whether a vulnerability really exists and infiltrate the organization. In addition, penetration testing tries to prove that exploiting a vulnerability can damage the application or network.
Finally, while a vulnerability assessment is usually automated to cover a wide variety of unpatched vulnerabilities, penetration testing generally combines automated and manual techniques to help testers delve further into the vulnerabilities and exploit them to gain access to the network in a controlled environment.
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We’ve been providing IT consulting and technology services to the mid-size business community since 1999, and from basic firewalls to advanced breach detection systems we absolutely guarantee there’s no shortage of security products designed to protect the enterprise.
But third party/supply chain attacks have changed this game. Drastically. And, from the most basic user training videos, to a 24×7 monitored security and information management (SEIM) system, there’s not one thing a business can do to protect data when its business management system, ERP or CRM is breached. Bottom line – every business on the planet relies on third-party software and there’s simply no safe place to hide. Boo!
Since shutting down shop isn’t an option, we must, as always, take up this threat and face it head on!
As we wrote in an post about Zero Trust Cybersecurity, you can only worry about what’s within your control. Since fully defending against this attack isn’t possible, we can only protect our organizations and prepare to be attacked.
1. Deploy a multi-layered detection and response approach. Multisyllable marketing jargon aside – as quickly as possible, you need to know you’ve been breached, and you need a post-attack response plan (or plans). “Honeytokens” or virtual trip wires setup to alert organizations of suspicious activity in their network are a great tool. If a being breached is bad, not learning about it till days or weeks after it happens is worse and not knowing what to do next can be catastrophic. www.upguard.com/blog/how-to-prevent-supply-chain-attacks
2. Include threat hunting as regularly scheduled IT maintenance. As described by our partners at SentinolneOne, threat hunting is quite a different activity from incident response (IR). While IR methodologies aim to determine what happened after a data breach, a threat hunting team searches for attacks that have slipped through your defensive layers to help you find adversaries hiding in your network before they can execute an attack or fulfill their goals.
3. Work with a SIEM solution that offers automated remediation actions. A security information and event management (or SIEM) is a cybersecurity solution that collects and converges data from different parts of your IT environment with the intent of monitoring your firm’s security levels. Providing advanced visibility and insight into your users, endpoints, traffic, activity, and more, a SIEM enables you to maintain oversight into your network and beyond the perimeter as your company scales.
4. Log capture and file retention for critical infrastructure. As detailed in this whitepaper from the National Institute for Standards & Technology (NIST) nvlpubs.nist, log management is essential to ensuring that computer security records are stored in sufficient detail for an appropriate period of time. Routine log analysis is beneficial for identifying security incidents, policy violations, fraudulent activity, and operational problems.
5. Encryption for all data. In cryptography, encryption is the process of encoding information or sensitive data so only authorized parties can access it. While encryption can’t prevent criminal activity or third-party attacks, it does deny intelligible content to the interceptor. For more on encryption, we recommend this article published by UpGuard www.upguard.com/blog/encryption.
6. Use two-factor/multi-factor authentication. With two-factor authentication enabled, criminals who do gain access to user login credentials aren’t automatically granted entry. A key element to a Zero-Trust Security framework, multi-factor authentication requires users validate their identity to provide that extra layer of security.
Above all, at OWG we believe cybersecurity will always come down to your corporate culture and your posture – on your toes, knees bent, arms ready. Stay sharp, be prepared and have your plan in place and you’ll have an advantage and typically able to weather the storm. The complacent or unprepared will get swallowed.
For more information, or to set a time to speak, drop your name and email below and we’ll reach out.
As we detailed in our business case exploring the Zero Trust, at its core, ZT is a concept and shift in how organizations approach the idea of security and data privacy.
It’s not one product or piece of software, rather an approach that assumes breach and secures your organization by requiring users prove they are who they say they are and be granted gated access accordingly.
As explained in a recent article from WIRED, “What is Zero Trust” the approach eliminates the old moat & castle networking model and instead of trusting particular devices and assuming what’s inside your walls are safe, a Zero Trust methodology uses verification, network segmentation and least privilege to protect the enterprise.
Under the old model, all the computers, servers, and other devices physically in an office building were on the same network and trusted each other. Your work computer could connect to the printer on your floor or find team documents on a shared server. Tools like firewalls and antivirus were set up to view anything outside the organization as bad;everything inside the network didn’t merit much scrutiny.
However, the explosion of mobile devices, cloud services,and remote/hybrid work have radically challenged those assumptions. Organizations can’t physically control every device its employees use anymore. And even if they could, once an attacker slipped by perimeter defenses, the network would instantly grant them a lot of trust and freedom. “Outside bad, inside good.”
“Zero Trust is a concept, not an action.”
Ken Westin, Security Researcher
Instead of trusting particular devices or connections from certain places, Zero Trust demands that people prove they are who they claim and should therefore be granted access. Typically, that means logging into a corporate account with biometrics or a hardware security key in addition to usernames and passwords to make it harder for attackers to impersonate users. And even once someone gets through, it’s on a need-to-know or need-to-access basis. If you don’t invoice contractors as part of your job, your corporate account shouldn’t tie into the billing platform.
Zero Trust isn’t a single piece of software you can install or a box you can check, but a philosophy, a set of concepts, a mantra,a mindset.
You still must implement things like device and software inventory, network segmentation, access controls.
Confusion about the real meaning and purpose of Zero Trust makes it harder for people to implement the ideas in practice. Proponents are largely in agreement about the overall goals and purpose behind the phrase, but busy executives or IT admins with other things to worry about can easily be led astray and end up implementing security protections that simply reinforce old approaches rather than ushering in something new.
Here at OWG, we work with our partner clients and help them engineer a true Zero Trust methodology throughout their IT ecosystem. If you have questions or would like to see if we can help your organization better protect its most critical data, email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to set a time to speak.i