Businesses need to take their cyber security seriously. There are huge financial implications for being hacked, not just from the perspective of lost revenue and weakened reputation, but also in the form of stricter regulations from laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, there are a number of myths about cyber security that make it difficult for companies to know what the best course of action is. Here are four myths about cyber security that are still affecting British businesses.

Myth #1: Cyber security is purely dealt with by the IT department

One commonly held myth that can actually put businesses at risk is the idea that cyber security is something that the IT department (and only the IT department needs to be concerned about). Of course, it is necessary to provide your IT team with the budget and resources to defend your business against the risk of a cyber-attack.

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It is not a secret that many people nowadays do not pay much attention when they surf the web at home or at work. There are new data breaches and exploits on a daily basis and still avoiding to take any precautions may result in a catastrophic consequences. Even the biggest corporations are paying millions of dollars so they can improve their cybersecurity and remain safe. However, if you still believe in some of the cybersecurity myths you may put your own computer or even your whole organization to a huge risk. We from CyberDB have decided to bust some of the top 5 cyber security myths and make it clear for you.

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Trump Cybersecurity background

The White House has recently published its new National Cyber Strategy, rescinding an Obama-era memorandum Presidential Policy Directive-20 (PPD-20) that laid forth the process by which the United States would undertake cyber attacks against cyber foes, to include foreign state actors.  The Strategy consists of four primary pillars designed to guide how the United States will undergo defensive, and perhaps more importantly, offensive actions in order to preserve its interests in cyberspace.  Per the Strategy, the four pillars are:

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Iran Cyberspace picture

There has been recent focus on alleged Iran cyber activity the past few weeks, spurned on by the publication of a vendor report on Iranian operations.  Per the vendor’s findings, not only was Iran likely behind the activity that was targeting government and private sector in the Middle East, it was implementing National Security Agency exploits that were stolen and dumped into the public domain by the Shadow Brokers group in April 2017.  As recently as late August 2018, Iran is suspected of trying to launch influence operations ahead of the midterm elections.  The conclusion is that Iran is increasingly using asymmetric attacks, particularly via cyberspace, as part of its tool box to conduct retaliatory attacks.

The new reporting comes at a time when Russia’s cyber malfeasance has largely dominated the press, due to its influence operations efforts and election shenanigans, not just in the United States but in other countries as well.  Prior to the Russia focus, North Korea was the focal point with its suspected cyber activities targeting cryptocurrency, and the SWIFT banking transactions before that.  Iran was propelled onto the scene with Operation Ababil

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Baseball player getting to bat

According to 2017 reporting, Major League Baseball believed that the Boston Red Sox, at the time in first place in the American League East, used the Apple Watch to illicitly steal hand signals from opposing teams.  Allegedly, the Apple Watch was used to not only “steal” hand signals from opposing catchers in games using video recording equipment, but transmit the information likely to team trainers.  The theft of such information would help determine the type of pitch that was going to be thrown.  The recording of signals is strictly forbidden by league rules.

When it comes to targeting billion-dollar sports franchises, many would assume that cyber crime would be the foremost cyber actors behind the scenes.  Based on a 2015 report that estimated the professional sports market in North America to have an expected worth of $73.5 billion by 2019, it’s easy to see why.  Indeed, there have been several incidents where cyber crime operations have focused on professional sports teams.  In April 2016, the National Basketball Association Milwaukee Bucks players had their financial documents (player addresses, Social Security Numbers, and compensation) accidentally leaked due to a team employee falling victim to an e-mail scam.  The employee released players’ 2015 IRS W-2 documents to an emailer impersonating the team’s president. Also in 2016, a crippling TeslaCrypt ransomware attack impacted a NASCAR racing team.  An estimated $2 million worth of information was potentially lost prompting payment of the ransom to the criminals.

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Vietnam Cybersecurity

In June 2018, Vietnam’s National Assembly passed a new cyber security law that has generated much concern for its stringent restrictions on popular social media organizations.  Per the law that will go into effect January 1, 2019, tech companies would be compelled to store data about Vietnamese users on servers in-country, a move designed to improve the security of Vietnamese nationals.  Vietnam has been historically weak when in it comes to cyber security, and has been ranked among the bottom regionally.  According to a 2017 report by the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union Global Cyber Security Index (GCI), Vietnam ranked 101 out of 165 countries in terms of being vulnerable to cyber attacks.  The GCI is a survey that measures the commitment of member states to cybersecurity to classify and project development process at the regional and global levels.

There are several critics of the new cyber security law.  Such a move – as has been expressed with regards to China’s new cyber laws – can potentially impact economic development and deter foreign investment.  Perhaps more alarming, dissenters and even some Vietnamese lawmakers signed petitions and conducted peaceful demonstrations to denounce the new law.  At the crux of this protest is the potential for the government to use this law in order to stifle human rights and privacy concerns such as online freedoms of speech and expression.  According to the law, Vietnam’s authorities will have the discretion to determine when expression might be identified as “illegal” and restricted.  It bans Internet users in Vietnam from organizing to conduct activities for “anti-state purposes” or to be allowed to distort the nation’s history.  Unsurprisingly, Amnesty International has underscored how the law could empower the government to monitor everything people say online.

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Russian Flag Hacker

A recent interview of Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed insight into his – and by extension – Russia’s views concerning cyber attacks, and really the cyber domain, as a whole.  Made at a joint press briefing with France’s president, when asked about alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Putin remarked: “Action always causes reaction” and that “If one does not want to get a reaction he does not like, rules for actions need to be set.”  Putin pointed out that in the early days of nuclear weapons, governments had found a way to negotiate guidelines on their use, an effort that should be replicated in today’s political climate.  While not necessarily as catastrophic as nuclear weapons, the potential impact is similar in that the disruption and/or destruction of interconnected information technology can potentially impact millions of people.  The implication is certainly clear: an international understanding needs to be done sooner rather than later.

These public pronouncements of the Russian president are noteworthy as they provide insight into not only how Russia views the activities that transpire in cyberspace but express a potential avenue of engagement for world leaders to approach Russia on these issues.  Cyber norms and discussions of how states have been ongoing in international forums.  The preferred U.S. approach – via the United Nations Group of Experts in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (GGE) – notably stalled in June 2017, calling into question if this Western-preferred approach to establishing norms will succeed under this umbrella.

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cyber battle fatigue

There is much concern about the realities of “Cyber Battle Fatigue” – a condition resulting from a never-ending process of defending networks and sensitive information from an onslaught of cyber attacks conducted by cyber criminals, cyber espionage actors, and hacktivists. These attackers continue to use a wide variety of tactics, tools, and procedures that span from being unsophisticated to very sophisticated and continue to have more successes than failures. Two things are certain in a constantly-changing domain – that no business that operates online is immune to being targeted, and two, the cyber security talent pool is sparse, and is contributing to the cyber battle fatigue reality.

The numbers are staggering and continue to outperform previous activity. In 2017, ransomware attacks demonstrated how prolific just one type of attack was. The WannaCry outbreak impacted computers in more than 150 countries that cost approximately USD $ 4 billion. According to one U.S. IT Company, in 2017, some notable cybercrime statistics illustrate the challenges facing those network defenders:

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UK’s Digital Strategy – Future Model or Another Thought Piece?

First announced in 2015, the United Kingdom (UK) finally published its Digital Strategy that went into effect on March 1, 2017.  Per the government’s website, the goal of this document is to provide a blueprint how the UK will build on its success to date in developing a world-leading digital economy that works for the greater good.  This is particularly important given that the UK is a global capital for financial technology, which generated £6.6bn of revenue in 2015.

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