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Every Consumer of IT Shares the Responsibility of Security in an Organisation

Harish Chib, the Vice President for the Middle East  and Africa, speaks to Arabian Reseller about what CXOs today need to know about security

What according to you are the new potential threats and emerging risks in this part of the region?
It is impossible to predict with certainty what will happen in 2018, however, it is fair to assume that Android and Windows will continue to be targeted with ransomware and other Malware attacks. An email will also remain the primary attack vector threatening corporate cybersecurity, especially in the case of targeted attacks.

Four trends that stood out in 2017, and are likely to dominate in 2018 are:

  • A ransomware surge fueled by RaaS and amplified by the resurgence of worms;
  • An explosion of Android malware on Google Play and elsewhere;
  • Continued efforts to infect Mac computers; and
  • Ongoing Windows threats, fueled by do-it-yourself exploit kits that make it easy to target Microsoft Office vulnerabilities.

Security is a responsibility that needs to be shared among employees. Do you believe in this statement? Why?
Whoever is a consumer of IT in an organization shares the responsibility of security. User-focused malware, which is one of the two major vectors of attack, is spread through methods like social engineering that tricks users into opening an email, clicking an attachment or visiting a URL. It is a shared responsibility of every employee to understand the basics of staying secure, stay careful and cautious online and when interacting with email and websites.

The convergence of mobility and cloud has brought forth new areas of compromise. What do CXOs need to know in order to stay ahead of such security threats?
Increasingly complex and sophisticated threats, the rise of new attacks such as ransomware and targeted phishing continues to drive a need for education and technology to protect the business. It is the unfortunate dark side effect of all the wonderful benefits we get from mobile computing and global connectivity.

Cybercrime is a big business and is well-funded – and criminals don’t need to be IT experts in order to be successful. Toolkits with support services can be bought on the Dark Web, and even “hackers for hire” will launch an attack on your behalf.  Ransomware as a service (RaaS) is now marketed on the Dark Web as a legitimate business tool – complete with technical support if the cybercriminal requires it.

Attacks are becoming more targeted. Phishing will disguise itself as a legitimate email or even phone call in order to get into a network – people remain a weak link in the armor, although to be fair, many of these new attacks are difficult for even experts to spot right away.

These attacks do however highlight the growing concern over cybersecurity, the impact of breaches, and why cybersecurity needs to be a top priority for a CXO of every organization, whatever their size. It is important to get the basics right. Even the most well-resourced companies are still falling victim to attacks that use phishing and social engineering techniques to dupe employees.

What challenges do companies face when it comes to exposure to security threats?
We recently announced the findings of our survey, The State of Endpoint Security Today which shows the extent to which businesses are at risk of repeated ransomware attacks and are vulnerable to exploits. The survey polled more than 2,700 IT decision makers from mid-sized businesses in 10 countries worldwide, including the US, Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, UK, Australia, Japan, India, and South Africa. The survey concludes that despite the high profile headlines of 2017, businesses are still not prepared to face today’s fast-evolving threats.

Two-thirds of the IT admins surveyed do not understand Anti-exploit technology, which is alarming. IT professionals also need to be aware of how exploits are used to gain access to a company’s system for data breaches, distributed-denial-of-service attacks, and cryptomining. Unfortunately, Sophos’ survey revealed considerable misunderstanding around technologies to stop exploits with 69 percent unable to correctly identify the definition of anti-exploit software.

With this confusion, it’s not surprising that 54 percent do not have anti-exploit technology in place at all. This also suggests that a significant proportion of organizations have a misplaced belief that they are protected from this common attack technique yet are actually at significant risk.

How can CXOs make sure they have plugged security holes to minimise security risks and implications?

  • They need to re-think the traditional approach of “layered security” and think more about “synchronized security” With the latest deep learning technologies, new cybersecurity solutions can now take action faster than an IT Manager predicting issues and stop threats before they can enter an organisation’s network
  • User education is the key – reduce clicks but increase reports to the security team
  • Recognize when your employees or customers are targeted and take protective actions
  • First, encrypt the data!  Many IT organizations have steered clear of encryption thinking that it impacts performance or that it’s simply too complicated to effectively implement.  This is no longer the case.  Enterprises should be encrypting their most critical data far more often than they do
  • Ensure that any contractors, outsourcers or third-party partners take cybersecurity as seriously as you do.  After all, it’s your data that your customers have entrusted you with, and it’s your responsibility to secure it
  • Simplify.  Complexity is the enemy of security.  Too often complicated tools aren’t configured correctly, aren’t communicating with other tools or aren’t even deployed at all because despite all their power they are simply too complicated for mere mortals to use effectively

The insider threat is a major concern in today’s business environment. How can this be mitigated?
Take a user-centric view to your security.  Too often IT departments focus on devices and fail to see the connection between a user, their data, and all the devices (including mobile devices) that they use on a daily basis

And, train your users! They are often the weakest link in a cybersecurity strategy. Too often users willfully hand over their credentials and engage in risky cyber behavior that can put the company at risk.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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