“I’ve read that my web hosting provider’s website that they have a good security solution in place to protect me against hackers.”

This is a pretty common answer that a lot of bloggers and small business owners gave me when I ask them if they know about how secure their web hosting is. Also, they often add that their budgets are pretty tight so they’ve chosen to go with “an affordable provider.” By “affordable,” of course, they mean ‘ridiculously cheap.”

Come on, people.

Do you really think that a cheap web hosting has everything in place to stop a website attack? Do you think that they will protect you from all types of hacker attacks?

While I don’t know everything about how web hosting providers choose security solutions, I can tell you with some confidence that a lot of them have laughable solutions.

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Some businesses – usually those that have never experienced any kind of major IT incident – think of cybercrime as an inconvenience. They may believe that if their company is hacked it will cause some disruption and perhaps an embarrassing news story, but that ultimately the breach will have only a minor effect.

However, the truth is that cybercrime can have a huge range of unexpected consequences. Here we take a lot of the real impact of a breach – cybercrime might affect you a lot more than you think.

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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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US Cybersecurity

A recent article revealed that the United States government has gotten better at providing unclassified cyber threat information to the private sector.  Law enforcement and intelligence organizations have greatly cut down the time it takes to provide unclassified versions of cyber threat indicators (a term that can reference that can refer to a variety of technical data that includes but is not limited to IP addresses, malware, e-mail addresses, etc.) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to disseminate promptly to the private sector.  The process had traditionally been slow as it involves an originating agency to determine if the indicator has been properly vetted without exposing sources and methods, per the article.

 

Speed of delivering pertinent threat information is certainly an improvement in a domain where attacks occur in seconds.  A November 2017 report from the DHS Office of the Inspector General provided a report on actions taken during 2016 in fulfillment of direction mandated by the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 with regards to the sharing of threat indicators.  Per the report, despite successfully classifying indicators and defensive measures, it still faced challenges effectively sharing such information across the public and private sectors.  The report advocated enhanced outreach and a cross-domain information processing solution.

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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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US Space Force logo

Space Force picture, an independent military branch by 2020.  The move is designed to counter the weapons that China and Russia have already developed that threaten U.S. satellites.  The U.S. Vice President quickly assured that the force did not and would not be created from the ground up, but would leverage the personnel and material resources already existing in the service elements.  The goal is to streamline efforts and maximize efficiency, a noble endeavor given the difficulties that invariable arise when mission responsibilities traverse and overlap so many different organizations.

 

The protection of U.S. civilian and military space assets are considered a national security concern.  In December 2017, U.S. Department of Defense officials expressed concern that the United States’ anti-satellite capabilities were not up to par as some of its adversaries.  In contrast, adversary adoption of anti-satellite weapons been documented in the news.  In April 2018, a report detailing global counterspace capabilities (that include direct ascent weapons, co-orbital, directed energy, electronic warfare, and cyber warfare) underscores how adversarial nations are actively pursuing the development of such weapons and the threat that they pose to U.S. space interests.  The report reveals that such investment by these states started in the mid-2000s.

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Cyber threat

Thus far, there has been no confirmed retaliatory cyber strikes conducted by a victimized government against a suspected aggressor state.  There has been some speculation that after the Sony Pictures attack, the United States “knocked” North Korea off the Internet for a brief period of time, although this has never been corroborated.  Despite being a cyber power, the United States has demonstrated restraint in punishing against those transgressor states it believes to have been orchestrators of cyber attacks against its interests, preferring to level sanctions as a punitive alternative.

The question that governments ask is how to deter hostile acts in cyberspace?  And while an important question to raise, perhaps the reality is that there is no viable answer.  There is a reason why international efforts continually fail when trying to gain consensus on cyber norms, Internet governance, and the legalities and criteria of hacking back – there is lack of a fundamental desire to actually find a solution.  Governments willing to agree to the standards and principles of any of these issues are stating their willingness to abide by them, and while that may fit the current situation, the dynamism of cyberspace has proven unpredictable.  Being cuffed to such an agreement that no longer has relevance while other governments operate without constraints is not an ideal situation.  Therefore, without an agreement in place, the status quo remains.

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Lock and network cable with computer keyboard background

Nowadays the cyber security is essential for individuals, companies, economies, governments and nations as a whole. The reality is that all of them are trying to stay on track against the latest cyberattacks, but there are some countries committing most to cybersecurity.

One of the best ways to determine where most of the cyber attack really come from in real time is by using the map created by Norse.

NORSE Heatmap

(Source:Norse.com)

Another great alternative if you want to find out which are the countries best prepared against cyberattacks is to use the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) created by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  As described by them it is “…a survey that measures the commitment of Member States to cybersecurity in order to raise awareness.” The GCI covers the five pillars of the ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA): legal, technical, organizational, capacity building and cooperation.

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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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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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