Have you identified all your cybersecurity risks yet?

Every aspect of running an enterprise involves some degree of risk. Be it an investment, an operation, a plan, or a decision, there is always a possibility of something going wrong, leading to losses. And the sustainability and success of businesses are often predicated upon their ability to manage these risks. Among the many risks that businesses face, those associated with their IT systems, data, networks, and communications, i.e., cybersecurity risks are gaining increasing importance among business leaders.

Why a Wi-Fi password is not enough to secure your network

A decade or two ago, if you asked a business owner what the basic needs of their business were, you’ll be more likely to receive answers like capital, people, resources, and so on. If you ask the same question to a business owner today, this list of needs will include ‘the internet’. Whether we realize it or not, connectivity to the internet has become an integral part of business today.

 

Risks of shadow IT and how to eliminate them

The larger an enterprise gets, the harder it becomes for the IT department to monitor all the devices and applications being used by the employees. This may especially be the case if the enterprise has a BYOD culture, which most modern-day organizations have. And many of them are devices and applications used by employees may not be approved or issued by the IT team, and hence may elude their awareness.

What enterprises must know about India’s new personal data protection bill

The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018 is an act proposed to the Indian government which, if passed, will redefine the way Indian enterprises gather, handle, and use their customers’ and employees’ personal information. The bill requires businesses to adopt reasonable policies, practices, and measures for handling personal information to avoid data leaks and breach of privacy.

Is cybersecurity affecting your productivity?

Cybersecurity, or any kind of security for that matter, is often seen as a hindrance to the smooth operations in many organizations. That's because, in these organizations, the security measures are often so strict that they minimize the ease of functioning for the employees. In a bid to prevent their employees from visiting harmful and undesirable sites or stop them from accessing sensitive information, organizations end up denying employees access to sources of information that are essential for their day-to-day operations. And this adversely affects organizational performance.

While it is understandable that it is "better to be safe than sorry", playing it too safe also has consequences. What then, could be the solution to this conundrum? The answer is simple -- contextual intelligence.

Instead of leaving your cybersecurity fences wide open or shutting them too tight, organizations must be able to assess cybersecurity situations on a case-by-case basis. They must be able to understand the context behind every attempt to access or share sensitive information. And for that, they need cybersecurity tools such as firewall solutions that are built with contextual intelligence. These tools can monitor every application and every user for suspicious activities and prevent sensitive information from leaking out. And they can do so without interrupting legitimate attempts to access information from within as well as outside the organization, thus maximizing the productivity without compromising security.

Why you need an application filtering service for your business

The internet is a vital enabler of business, regardless of industry or location. Thus, it is necessary for enterprises to ensure that all their employees have internet connectivity all the time. However, while it is important to give all your employees limitless connectivity, you should also be mindful of how the internet is being used by your employees. That’s because sometimes it is possible that your network resources are being used for unproductive or even harmful purposes such as torrenting, social media, and video streaming.

Social media and streaming sites, if used in an unrestrained manner for long by your employees can potentially lead to a loss in productivity. Even more dangerous to your enterprise can be the use of torrent and other illegal sites, which may draw legal and regulatory action towards your enterprise, while also making you vulnerable to malware and virus attacks. To prevent this, your business should be equipped with a robust URL-filtering solution. However, in recent years, due to the rapid propagation of mobile technology, websites are mostly being replaced by applications. So, instead of using the YouTube website, more and more people are using the YouTube mobile application. Similarly, torrenting and other similar sites are being accessed through their corresponding applications, which can contain malware and viruses.

To prevent your enterprise from falling victim to unwanted legal problems as well as avoidable virus and malware attacks, you must secure your enterprise network with a next-generation firewall solution backed by contextual intelligence. You can configure these systems to prevent your employees from accessing specific applications and services, even if these applications use anti-tracking measures such as SSL. Additionally, these solutions also work on mobile devices, protecting your network even if you implement a BYOD policy. Thus, you can keep your enterprise safe from harmful sites and applications around the clock.

 

Simple things you can do to prevent ransomware attacks

While the awareness of ransomware attacks has spread across India -- and the world in general -- not much is being done to prevent it. Or at the very least, whatever is being done to prevent this cybercrime isn’t helping. That’s because ransomware still poses a threat to businesses across the world, now in 2019, two years after its incipience. Does that mean there's nothing you can do to prevent ransomware attacks? The answer is, no. That’s because there are a few very simple things that you can do as an enterprise to prevent ransomware attacks. Here are the simplest yet the most effective ways of preventing ransomware attacks:

Training your employees on preventing ransomware attacks

As has been emphasized numerous times before, employees are an enterprise’s weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity. This is especially so against ransomware attacks, which begin with a phishing attempt targeted at unsuspecting employees. Regardless of how strong your cybersecurity systems are, a simple careless action by your employees, such as clicking on a spam link or downloading an attachment from an unknown sender, can make your enterprise vulnerable to not only ransomware but also other kinds of cyber attacks. Educating your employees on the best cybersecurity practices can steer them away from such behaviors and prevent ransomware attacks.

Installing and updating your antivirus and antispam systems

Having reliable antivirus and antispam tools can help stop malware as well as phishing attacks. As ransomware attacks keep evolving, it is vital to keep your antivirus programs up-to-date with the latest patches. Doing so will prevent harmful ransomware programs from stealing your data away or leaking it out.

Monitoring all incoming communications

While your antispam and antivirus tools can protect you from most phishing attempts and malware attacks, a well-planned ransomware attack using advanced tools can still penetrate your defenses and harm your network and data. To prevent such a situation you’ll have to deeply monitor every email communication that your organization receives. This means verifying the sender identity, scanning the email body and attachments, and all the embedded links that come with the message. While you can do all this manually with the help of your cybersecurity team, it will take a lot of time and resources, and slow down your business process.

To perform detailed analysis of all incoming communications without slowing down your business processes, you’ll need to use a contextually-intelligent firewall solution. A contextually-intelligent firewall solution can constantly monitor your enterprise networks, keeping bad actors out and thereby preventing ransomware attacks.

The growing need for enterprise security awareness training

Indian enterprises are projected to spend 1.9 billion USD or over 13,000 crore on information security by the end of 2019. However, despite such increasingly heavy spending, the frequency of cyber attacks does not look like going down. Threats like ransomware, malware, and cryptojacking still run rampant across the networks of unaware enterprises. That’s because, while these forward-thinking enterprises may pour lakhs or even crores of rupees in buying the latest cybersecurity devices and software, they are not focusing on the leading cause of most cyber attacks -- their people.

The weakest link in cybersecurity

According to studies, around 28% of data breaches in India occur just due to human error. And this is not taking into account the numerous attacks carried out by external entities that exploit the ignorance, cybersecurity-wise, of enterprises’ employees. Examples of this include phishing that happens when employees open untrustworthy emails, and credential stuffing that results from bad password management practices. Thus, it is not an exaggeration when people say that the weakest link in an enterprise’s cybersecurity is its people. Or more precisely, the biggest threat to an enterprise’s network and information security is its people’s lack of cybersecurity awareness. To combat this, businesses need to build awareness in their employees through enterprise security awareness training.

Through enterprise security awareness training, businesses can easily prevent harmful entities from gaining entry into its network while also ensuring no sensitive data leaves the organization. The training can educate employees on identifying spam, phishing, and social engineering attempts. It can also teach them password-related best practices. However, doing so does not mean that enterprises can neglect the technological aspect of cybersecurity, instead, they should compliment their human-centric cybersecurity efforts with tools like a contextually-intelligent firewall solution. Such a tool can add another layer to your cybersecurity system, making it watertight and impenetrable -- both from the inside and out.

Network visibility is a priority for enterprise cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is never a static, one-time initiative. It is an ongoing process that should always be top-of-mind for CSOs, CIOs, and other IT leaders. To that end, technology and security leaders should always have access to information regarding the security of their enterprise networks. In fact, not just the leaders but even employees need real-time network visibility to report any damage to or illicit use of the organization’s IT resources. And ensuring enterprise-wide network visibility should be a priority even if the organization uses the most cutting-edge cybersecurity tools and technologies. That’s because cybersecurity systems, while generally being effective at keeping bad actors out and sensitive data in, cannot keep your network protected all the time and from all threats. There can always emerge newer forms of threats that may require the immediate attention of an enterprise’s cybersecurity personnel and leaders. And the time it takes between a threat’s incipience and the cybersecurity team’s awareness of it can be the difference between security and enterprise-wide mayhem.

Seeing is securing

The most compelling reason as to why network visibility is a must for network security is simply that it is impossible to protect what you can’t see. If you want to protect your enterprise network, you must be able to monitor every nook and corner of it. That means having real-time knowledge of:

  • every piece of information that is transmitted to, from, and within the organizational network,
  • every byte of data that is stored on-site as well as in remote data centers (or cloud servers),
  • all the devices used by the enterprise, which includes all the hand-held devices used by employees, their computers, and IoT sensors placed in factories and other remote locations,
  • all the applications that run on and interact with these devices, and
  • the source and destination (URLs, email IDs, etc.) of every inbound and outbound communication.

Monitoring all of these elements ensures that the leaders and employers know the state of their cybersecurity at all times. Network visibility ensures that cybersecurity personnel can identify abnormal behaviors that may indicate potential cyber threats, even if their firewall system fails to recognize them. This capability can be especially useful in mitigating the impact of zero-day attacks.

 

For instance, if a new type of malware is somehow planted in an enterprise network, the cybersecurity system may not yet be capable of categorizing it as harmful. Thus, the malware may start affecting the organization’s data and its applications, without anyone’s knowledge, possibly until it is too late to recover. A network visibility solution can point out malicious or abnormal behavior by applications to users in real time, enabling the cybersecurity team to take quick action. They can prevent the malware from wreaking further havoc. The network visibility application can also help cybersecurity personnel to trace the origins of such threats and develop countermeasures for the same.

With growing networks come growing vulnerabilities

As a business scales up, it naturally incorporates an increasing number of devices, people, and possibly even other smaller businesses into its core enterprise architecture. This means the addition of new points of entry for external threats in the form of unprotected devices, endpoints, and applications. For instance, a business based in Mumbai may expand and incorporate a manufacturing facility located in another city, say, Bangalore, which may not have full-time access to the enterprise’s cybersecurity personnel. Under such circumstances, if an external agent attacks the Bangalore-based manufacturing facility’s computers using some kind of malware, the head office in Mumbai won’t be able to realize this even if they have a firewall system in place. Additionally, the sheer number of devices and applications, and the volume of information that needs to be monitored makes it a daunting task for even a team of multiple cybersecurity experts.

However, a firewall solution that offers network visibility can ensure that the cybersecurity personnel located in the head office, no matter how far away, can monitor the network in real time and spot anomalies. It constantly monitors the enterprise network, regardless of how large and complex it might be. The network visibility tool provides the cybersecurity team with a dashboard that points out any abnormal activity and provides detailed reports regarding the same. This enables the cybersecurity team to take appropriate responsive actions and keep their IT assets safe from external cyber attacks. However, as enterprises are realizing now, it is not enough to secure your enterprise networks from external threats alone.

Not all threats come from the outside

While it is important to protect your data and your organizational network from external attacks, it is equally important to realize that large enterprises can face threats from the inside as well. Among the biggest threats to businesses is a data breach. Loss of critical business data can lead to many negative consequences for enterprises. For instance, losing financial data or data pertaining to plans and predictions can lead to an enterprise potentially losing its competitive edge in the market. Losing personal information, such as employee or customer data, can land enterprises in legal trouble. To add to it, data breaches also throw a business's trustworthiness and reliability into question, leading to reputational loss. And the most dangerous data leaks often happen due to internal employees rather than external attackers. This may be in the form of unintentional negligence or intentional plans. For instance, disgruntled employees may leak sensitive information in a bid to lead the organization into chaos. Or well-meaning employees can accidentally share critical information outside the organization. And most enterprises don't have the means to detect such cases, let alone stop them.

 

Using a firewall solution that also offers network visibility can enable cybersecurity teams to strictly control what data leaves their organization. It can help security leaders view the different forms of communications that leave the organization. These solutions can give the enterprises the information regarding the senders and recipients of all communications, enabling them to detect potential data breaches. They can also monitor specific pieces of critical information and see how it is used by different applications as well as employees. These solutions can notify the enterprises of any attempts to leak sensitive data while also preventing them. They can generate real-time reports outlining network activity and data use. This does not only help to secure data in the short term but also enables the enterprises to develop long-term data security strategies.

Network visibility completes enterprise cybersecurity

Thus, an advanced network visibility tool complements a good firewall solution. In fact, it is crucial to deploy a next-generation firewall solution having built-in network visibility tools to ensure comprehensive data and network security. These solutions, while preventing internally-initiated data leaks as well as external cyber attacks, also give businesses unprecedented levels of insight into and control over their networks and data. And as enterprises attempt to navigate the modern business landscape in the face of toughening competition as well as tightening regulations, such solutions are no longer an option but an absolute necessity.

How to protect yourself from credential stuffing

Credential stuffing is a cyber-attack where the attacker finds a set of login credentials from an individual and then uses the same set of credentials to try and unlock the other services and accounts that the user has. So, if an attacker finds your Gmail password, then they’ll be able to use those credentials to log in to your Netflix account if you happen to use the same credentials for these accounts. Media, gaming and entertainment companies saw 11.6 billion such attacks in second half of 2018 alone and up to 200 million attacks against sites in the video media sector alone.

Meanwhile, the overall figures may understate the extent of the problem in industries in which email addresses are not used as user IDs, notably the financial industry.

Earlier this year, the discoveries of five caches of login credentials that were floating around the internet and between them contained 2.2 billion purloined login details.

Such Credential Stuffing attacks can have an even more serious impact in a business and enterprise context. If your organizational members use the same set of credentials for their personal and professional accounts, your organizational network and critical business data might be at risk. You can protect yourself from credential stuffing by adopting certain best practices as well as technological tools.

Preventing credential stuffing

To prevent credential stuffing, the simplest countermeasure is to educate your employees on using different passwords for all their accounts. They must be especially taught to differentiate their work and personal account credentials to minimize the risk to critical enterprise data, which can have severe implications for the entire business.

However, you cannot be assured that all your employees will adopt healthy password management practices, at least not in the short term. Thus, you need to adopt multifactor authentication for protecting your business applications, which will lower the chances of attackers gaining entry to your enterprise network. That’s because multi-factor authentication minimizes the dependence on login credentials which makes your network security more robust.

While many cyber attacks are caused by a failure in cybersecurity systems, most of them -- such as credential stuffing -- are caused by the carelessness of employees. Using a firewall solution that also offers 2-factor authentication will guarantee that even if your employees’ passwords are compromised due to their negligence, attackers still won’t be able to access your enterprise network. That way, you’ll have a cybersecurity system in place that is resistant to both technological failure and human flaws, all in a single, easy-to-manage package.