How to avoid being a target of script kiddies!

There is a huge difference between a cyber attack generated by a script kiddy running an automated system and one where you are being targeted by a dedicated hacker.

For one, if you are targeted by a dedicated hacker then you already know that you have something worth protecting and you have, hopefully, done something about it.

The biggest problems with cyber attacks on the internet are that 95% of them are coming from an automated system controlled or managed by trainees (script kiddies).

Automated systems have three reasons they are used:

  • They are easy to get.
  • They are easy to use.
  • They are easy to make money out of.

They are easy to get!

There are a number of ways for anyone to get hold of an automated system. They can download an operating system that has an automated system running on it. Kali, Parrot OS or Black-arch are all very good examples but there are others.

Designed as penetration testing tools, these systems have all of the requirements that they need to target organisations, multinationals, or anyone connected to the digital world.

Before you ask, yes it is all legal and above board as long as you are not targeting someone else.

To make these systems more effective they allow them to either download additional components from GitHub or design and program your own applications.

They are easy to use!

The old saying that whenever anything is free you are the product rings true with these systems as well. The creators of these systems keep track of people using them and incorporate any updates into their own releases.

To set up one of these systems all you need is a computer. Once you have administrator access to a computer you can download a virtual environment (VMware if you have some money or Virtual Box for free) and you can then install these operating systems as a virtual operating system.

You can even run the operating system on a microcomputer (Raspberry Pi) for under $100.

Once set up you now have access to the tools and capabilities that, if used correctly, can rival someone who has been in the industry for years. Almost like a novice woodworker creating a dovetail joint on their first try without knowledge of what to do.

No training, just using other people’s knowledge.

In addition, and a bigger issue, what they do not know can be learned or discovered by simply searching google.

The capability and effectiveness of these systems allow them to set up the automated attack and target a huge number of vulnerable systems based on blocks of internet-based addresses.

Simply they can find out if there is a targetable vulnerability just by using facets of the automated systems.

They are easy to make money out of!

These free operating systems have the capability of making money.

To make serious money, though, you need to work with partners. Working with partners can be both beneficial as well as detrimental to their own security.

When it comes to making money it is either through selling information on the dark web, selling cryptovirus decryption keys to vulnerable people or selling access to compromised systems to leverage other attacks.

How to avoid being a target of script kiddies.

To avoid being a victim you need to implement some protective strategies.

You need to apply the CareMIT business security methodology to the organisation but to start at the basics this is what you need to do:

  • Patch and update everything – operating systems, application and to really be secure remove anything that you do not use from the system. This is applied to computers, websites, servers, and smart devices.
  • Disable macros – do not allow macros to run on the computers
  • Use complex, unique and more than 12 characters for every site, service or system in the digital world
  • Use 2 factor or multi-factor authentication. If you manage websites or other cloud-based services make sure the third level of security is in place – captcha
  • Only allow good applications to run on the system. This is called application whitelisting and only approved applications are allowed to run. There are some anti-virus systems that allow you to do this.
  • The last one is critical to your sanity – DO A BACKUP. All the bad guys have to do is win once. A backup ensures that if and when they win they have not really won.

At the basic level, the users of these automated systems are just as vulnerable as the people that they are targeting. A severe case of “user beware”, because if you do not configure the system correctly you are just as vulnerable as your targets.

At the most fundamental level, we all know that most people between 13 and 30 have a limited ethical attitude and good and bad is debatable.

That’s why we have the proliferation of these systems.

Secure your business!

Get proactive!

Do the scorecard!

Read your report!

Linkto scorecard https://caremit.scoreapp.com

#ceo #ExecutivesAndManagement #ProfessionalWomen #CareMIT #cybersecurity #infosec

All organisations must face up to their business security requirements

Since small and medium businesses, charities and not for profit organisations are now the bread and butter of cybercriminals targeting.

Isn’t it about time that we started to look at the reasons?

Reason 1 – SME’s have a lack of expertise!

The digital world is complex.

Every area requires a different set of skills and knowledge.  There are areas where some of the skills and requirements flow from one area to another, but these are definitely an uncommon occurrence.

The skills to implement and manage a website are different from networking which in turn are different from the requirements for coding.   Its not the fact they are different, the problem is the required level of skill to do it correctly.

Anyone with a little bit of help can write code, but to write it correctly, securely and properly requires years of skill and practice.

When it comes to the business world, we have a significant requirement for using the digital world.  In most cases, we see the introduction of a digital component into an organisation as easy.

It is not.   To implement and configure is easy.   To implement and configure securely, correctly and in a way that will benefit the organisation takes more than a fundamental underlying knowledge.

Reason 2 – SME’s have a lack of time!

Most SME’s are doing more with less just to keep themselves in profit.   Throw in another complicated process or system and they now have more to do with the same amount of time.

Business security takes time.   To secure an organisation takes time.

A solution is to employ someone on staff to manage the ICT and we will then give him the role of security professionals.   Getting someone with the required skills will cost money.

The second alternative is to enter a service level agreement (SLA) with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) and contract the support of the OCT and security to someone else.   Again this requires the correct skills as well as culture.

Both options will free up some time.

Reason 3 – SME’s have a lack of money!

Security solutions for SME’s can be expensive.   When it comes to technology and the integration of different technologies into the business environment we see some significant costs.

Comparing the costs of a breach to the costs of putting the right technology in place, it is a no brainer, but not until after the fact.

SME’s have the same compliance and governance of multinational corporations but do not have the resources to implement tier 1 or 2 technological solutions.

They make do with what is available and inexpensive not realizing the impact of these additional vulnerabilities can have on their business.

We know the problems here are some solutions

To reduce all three of these issues, as already mentioned is a contractual agreement with an MSP or a Managed Security Solution Provider (MSSP).

They bring the required expertise, they free up time and in most cases they are a viable and cost-effective.

A better solution is to look for an Organisation that has normal MSSP skills but has the capability to add additional security components around your Organisation.

Why 2020 could be a bad cybersecurity year for SME’s

SME’s are a prime target for cybercrime.

They have reduced expertise, minimal money, and an attitude, we are too small to be a target, that leaves them wide open to a cyber event.

Our industry, the people who know and think we understand the bad guys have been pushing for an attitude change for the last 10 years. In a large number of ways, we have failed, especially in the SME space.

In some, we have failed significantly.

By the time we get called in, after a cyber event, it is way too late.

To late to recover, too late to respond and definitely too late, in a number of organisations, to get back to business as normal.

Most SMEs, after a cyber event and especially after a ransomware attack, have but 3 choices,

  • pay the ransom,
  • recover from backup and hope you have a decent backup (a decent, tested backup is vital, no matter the situation)
  • or go out of business.

Here are 3 cybersecurity strategies that every SME should implement to be more secure and avoid that devastating cyber event.

Training users

Increased awareness of business security in a workplace is vital in today’s business world.

Not many businesses know where to go to get that training.

Training needs to be done as an ongoing process.

Once or twice a year is inadequate. But training and education has to be easy, bite-size pieces, easily digested, easily implemented and easily followed.

In addition to ongoing training, you also need to incorporate business security into your onboarding process to instill the required cultural elements into new people on staff.

Want some free cybersecurity training, here is something that will definitely help
https://wizer-training.com/partner/caremit

Risk management and gap analysis

SME’s have a limited understanding of the new risks delivered to the business via our digital components.

The game has changed significantly in the last 10 years and we, as small and medium businesses, are constantly playing catch-up.

We are significantly hampered and handicapped by the impact and scale of our digital usage.

It is everywhere, used in every component and used all of the time.

To understand the risks without understanding the systems you need some help.

Here is some help for you.
Https://CareMIT.scoreapp.com

With the report, you can now implement a gap analysis and work out what you need to do to increase security around your organisation.

The report also ties in well with:

Implemented a framework

If you are looking for a better way to manage security within your Organisation, you need to look no further than a framework.

A framework is a documented system that allows an organisation to follow the bouncing ball and tighten up the security in a regimented way.

The more the components of the framework are implemented the more secure and mature the organisation.

Frameworks are easy to follow and implement and the one I recommend is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework.
https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework

Answer the 98 questions, honestly, and you now have a road map to implement cybersecurity in a significant way.

The NIST cybersecurity framework also gives you a number.

Between 0 – 4, it can be used as a comparison between businesses, supply chain components, and government departments so you can do business with like-minded organisations.

What can SME’s do?

It is not too late to implement any of these strategies. The bad guys are getting more and more clever, so time is running out.

They are targeting everyone who is connected to the digital world, the internet, with more sophisticated systems, a number of them are now fully automated.

Some of those automated systems have minimal human involvement after the initial set up.

From initial social engineering attack, all the way through to payment of ransom everything is automated and driven by machine learning.

Every SME should be implementing a training and education process, doing a risk and gap analysis and implementing a cybersecurity and business security framework.

With that everything else will follow.

The business will be more stable, the culture of the organisation will change and getting back to business as normal after an attack can be significantly easier.

The impact of a cyber event for an organisation implementing these 3 components or not is significant.

If you haven’t implemented these 3 strategies in the last 12 months, 2 years or 5 years then 2020 is going to be a bad year.

But it’s not too late.

Thinking you are immune to a cyber event is a regular occurrence for SME’s

Even if you think you are immune to a cyber attack these ideas are critical to restricting the impact.

I want to talk about some of the problems we have encountered when being called into a cyber event situation for a new client.

Have you looked at all of our business risks?

Risk is the biggest invisible issue in today’s business world.

Most Organisation does not know how to evaluate the risks that their digital component brings to the Organisation because they cannot visualize the risk.

Only by looking at the digital risks will it become apparent that more is needed to be done.

Get some good legal advice!

We regularly come across businesses that do not know what their legal obligations are when it comes to protecting data that they are the custodian of.

If your Organisation collects information about a person or a business you are now the custodian of that data.   The legal implication of being the custodian need to be understood before you make the decisions concerning the information or type of information collected.

Always err on the side of less.  If you cannot justify it do not collect it.

Check your response plan!

When it comes to SME’s, they think they are Bulletproof.

It will never happen to us, we are too small, yadda yadda!

Well, NO.   A cyber event can happen anytime and to anything digital.   When it comes to a true cyber attack you need to have a breach plan.

A plan that tells everyone in your Organisation what you expect them to do, how they will do it, who they report to and the process needed to preserve evidence and get back to business as normal.   Without it, chickens missing heads, running, lots of running, come to mind!

Test your systems with a tabletop war game.

This is absolutely essential to any Organisation with more than 5 staff.

Run some hypothetical scenarios.    Think of a problem and make sure that everyone knows what to do if it ever occurred.   Especially test disaster recovery, business continuity and breach plans.

After testing the system do both a hot wash up (debrief) and a report.

Implement any discovered failures.   Things that could be done better.   Things that were done badly.

You do not want a real emergency to be the first test of these plans.

Test some “what if …” plans.

Another alternative is to come up with some unusual issues.

A fire in the building that does not impact your business but your business is in the same location and your staff can no longer get to the office, showroom, shop for a week.

What is the impact?   What is your solution?

Tested our backup, we have.

We have a rule.   When it comes to backups we have the 3-2-1 rule.

There are 3 copies of all data.   The original data plus 2 other copies.   Those 2 copies consist of an on-site incremental data copy and an off-site copy.  There is always 1 copy of the data stored off-site.

Once again a backup is useless unless it has been tested.    A regular restore copy of a couple of files should be documented every month.   A full-blown restore of the system should be done every year from both locations.

Who do we have to report to?

When it comes to a breach there also needs to be a reporting structure.   Part of your business continuity plan should be a list of people who are allowed to talk to the media, post on social media, talk to vendors or talk internally and to who.

Reputation always impacts needs to be controlled as much as possible in today’s live world.   The policies, plans, and tests will ensure that everyone knows what they need to do.

Does anyone know how to preserve evidence?

If you are knee-deep in a cyber event the last thing that anyone is going to think about is the preservation of evidence.

Once again if the breach plan has been tested then you will know what has to be done.   If would be cold comfort to know that someone who has ruined you life will not face the consequences because there is no evidence against them.

Preservation of digital evidence can also include the information and machine learning that comes from your System Information and Event Management system (SIEM).

Train everyone, security should be part of everyone’s role in the organisation.

Social engineering is the process of targeting people.

It is used to great effect against everyone in business.   Social engineering is a 2 fold process – the bait, the email SPAM, phishing and the bad technology – link, application or attachment.

Combined together they are an effective attack system for the bad guys.

To counteract the social engineering you need to educate everyone.   There are free online courses but additional resources can include competitions, posters.

Get a framework and implement it.

One of the best protective strategies any business can implement is a framework.   I recommend the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity framework.

By answering the 98 questions, you get an instant base level indication of where your Organisation is in regards to the security maturity.

A framework does a number of things.   It gives you a base level, it gives you a score between 0 and 4, it ensures that you do not forget anything and gives you a road map for business security within your Organisation.

As a flow-on effect, it gives you a score that you can compare apples with apples (security maturity with security maturity) against other Organisations.   When it comes to data sharing you can make informed decisions on how secure the other Organisation will be in regards to data protection.

You have done a vulnerability assessment

Every device that is connected to a network has the capability of compromising the whole network.   The first law of Cybersecurity is “if there is a vulnerability it will be discovered and it will be exploited – no exceptions”.

To ensure that those vulnerabilities are addressed you need to do regular vulnerability scans on the network.

This can be achieved with expensive or free systems.   Either type it is important that vulnerability scans are completed and mitigated and vulnerabilities are patched and managed correctly.

Cybersecurity is not easy!

There’s no such thing as set and forget when it comes to protecting your Organisation from a cyber event.

It is a diligent and continuous process that needs to be done correctly to protect the integrity of the data within your custodianship.

Keep it safe, protect it, monitor it and ensure that if something does happen you have a way back to business as normal.

How fast will your business be back to business as normal after a disaster?

Why you need a new breed of Business security

Introduction

In the last 20 years, there has been a slow change in how the business approaches the management of the ICT component.

As business and technology changes there have been significant changes in the management process of these systems.   The more complex and costly the systems the more dedicated the support has to be.   We have gone from onsite support from staff (I know computers) to off-site support from a service provider.

SME’s no longer have the resources available to manage their ICT and a new breed of company has been slowly taking more and more control over these parts of your business.

Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Originally these organisations were known as ICT or IT companies.   They were usually run out of hardware and software stores and were more focused on those areas.

It was eventually realized that just managing the hardware and software of small and medium business and not for profit organisations was not enough.   When technology broke, the most organisation still could not afford a technician to come to the site and an IT company need to make their resources go further.

The managed service provider did a number of additional things:

  • They had systems that remotely monitored and managed (RMM) the technology within the organisation.   This allowed them to give feedback to the clients in the way of comprehensive reports on their network
  • They had helpdesk capability to fix issues as they arose from the RMM systems or issues that arose from the users.
  • They started to become proactive, not reactive.
  • In a number of ways they even became vendor managers.  They looked after their clients from the internet down to the user.

Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)

The business has changed and the requirements for ICT support have changed, the MSP needed to do more.

To be competitive and to be more productive they started adding on services.   These services included if not delivered by the MSP:

  • off site backup,
  • managed firewall,
  • web application firewalls,
  • web site management,
  • managed Anti Virus and many more.

In most cases, they were a bolt-on action to the MSP requirements and were supplied to maximize profit and reduce cost.   In a large number of situations, the customer was not getting value for money because the MSP was tied to a specific vendor.

In the last 5 – 10 years, the bigger the perceived problem with security was the more clients were going to purchase systems from their trusted advised – their MSP.   Once again increasing profits by reducing costs.

Any MSSP that does this is actually exposing their clients to huge problems.   Most of the service level agreements (SLA) reduce this down to “all care no responsibility”

Managed Business security service provider (MBSSP)

SME’s and NFP organisations needed to approach business security in today’s business world from a new direction.

Business security has to be approached from the top down.    Management and board members HAVE to get involved.   Your MSP or MSSP who is not recommending risk management and cybersecurity frameworks is in fact doing a huge disservice to your organisation.

Risk management and a risk management process looks at all of the risks to the organisations and allows you to think and work through the process and deliver strategies to protect the organisation.   It includes the ICT and technology area but there is so much more that has to be incorporated into a risk management plan.

The second part is a cybersecurity framework.   A framework does a number of things:

  • It focuses management on the required tasks to secure the organisation.
  • It removes knee jerk reactions to perceived threats.
  • The more you implement the framework the more secure your organisation.
  • It has to be done with the involvement of all areas of the organisation from management down and from coal face up.
  • It can be managed with reduced costs, expertise and time constraints

Most frameworks have a baseline requirement.   When you start to implement the framework you have to know how secure you are before you can start to improve.   The baseline also allows you to look at priorities within the organisation.

Conclusion

If your organisation is still using an MSP or an MSSP to manage your security without looking at the risk components or without implementing a cybersecurity framework (we recommend the National Institute of Standards and  Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework) then you need to rethink your business security requirements.

Talk to an organisation that is focused on MBSSP capability.

Secure your business!

Get proactive!

Do the scorecard!

Read your report!

Link to scorecard https://caremit.scoreapp.com

#ceo #ExecutivesAndManagement #ProfessionalWomen #CareMIT #cybersecurity #infosec