Technology plays a larger part in our society than ever before, and what better way to kick off the New Year than with an appreciation for that tech keeping the sky blue and the grass green? Security threats are at an all-time high and there is no doubt that the vast majority of businesses globally utilise some form of security technology in order to keep operations and data sweet.
In recognition of National Technology Day, teiss spoke to seven industry experts about the past, present and future of security in our ever-developing digital landscape.
Stifling the threat of ransomware
“In 2020, there’s no doubt that phishing and ransomware will continue to evolve and be the number one threat to businesses, as attackers are always looking for – and exploiting – new attack vectors,” says Steve Nice, Chief Technologist at Node4. “Whilst there may be headline grabbing attacks on connected vehicles, TVs etc, phishing and ransomware are still the primary revenues for cyber-criminal gangs, and users will still be blasé about security.
“However, there will be new vulnerabilities in 2020, and while older technologies (technical debt) will continue to be exploited, mobile phones will evolve to become a prime attack vector. For example, there could be a ransomware attack on Android phones, where the whole phone becomes completely inoperable unless you pay for a decryption key.”
Alan Conboy, Office of the CTO at Scale Computing echoes this point, stating:
“Threats are evolving at a horrific pace, and they will continue to become smarter, more lucrative and increasingly devious in 2020. So, to the organisations that think they can’t afford to modernise their infrastructure defences, well, the truth is that they can’t afford to not do so.
“As this malicious momentum snowballs into next year, businesses must realise that traditional legacy tools are not only slowing their digital journey down, but leaving them vulnerable to tactical and well-organised criminals.
“We will see organisations taking advantage of highly-available solutions, such as hyperconvergence and edge computing, that allow them to not only keep up with changing consumer demands, but deploy the most effective cyber defences, disaster recovery, and backup.
“The way organisations approach the aftermath of data being corrupted will likely change too, as insurance companies will begin to take an active role, not just in the recovery of data, but in the decision making when it comes to whether or not to pay the ransom demand.
“The overall cost of doing business will rise in conjunction with the growing threat of cyber-attacks, and every business should be bracing themselves for the impact.”
John Ford, CISO at ConnectWise reflects:
“Ransomware is as close to a perfect economy as one could enter, other than the fact that it is an illegal underground market. 2019 saw a dramatic increase in the amount of malicious code created and made available for sale on the black market. The seller not only makes the code affordable ($300-$500), they also provide full tech support in teaching the attacker how to execute an attack. This code is then further modified by the purchaser.
“This last action makes certain that security products that may have seen and prevented the original code, will likely fail to do the same with the modified version. A single version of modified malicious code could yield hundreds of thousands of dollars, and when the ransomware fails to execute, the attacker simply modifies the code and continues on.
“Given that the number of attack groups has risen by 25% over the past year, coupled with the fact that the amount of malicious code has exponentially increased and the barrier to entry remains low, I do not see any reduction in the amount of ransomware attacks for 2020.”
Security in the public sector
“In 2020, organisations across the UK public sector should recognise the need to reprioritise their security best practices to ensure they demonstrate healthy cyber hygiene,” explains Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds. “It’s important for IT teams in the public sector to have up-to-date cybersecurity knowledge to help prevent, as well as prepare for, the security threats they’ll inevitably face in the current hostile landscape.
“To implement this, many public sector organisations in the coming year will look to prioritise cybersecurity training for everyone, from entry level right through to the C-suite, and across every department—not just IT teams. Going back to basics in terms of fostering ongoing cybersecurity awareness is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to keep an organisation secure.”
Joseph Feiman, Chief Strategy Officer at WhiteHat Security questions:
“Is it really necessary to protect all the information? The society is moving toward greater openness and broadly sharing information, including data that just a few years/decades ago was considered most sensitive. Sharing takes place via a wide variety of professional and social networks and public media. Governments are under social pressure to open more information as well.
“But governments, organisations and individuals should realise that protection of all information is unrealistic, and the battle for it has been lost (actually, the victory has never been possible).
They should explore their ability to protect somewhere around 25% of the information they own/handle. For that, they have to select the subset of the most valuable information that is worth protection and that is feasible to protect. They should be gradually, over the years, placing the remaining 75% of the information in the fully/partially open access realm.”
Cyber attacks aren’t slowing any time soon
Tim Bandos, Vice President of Cybersecurity at Digital Guardian comments:
“I think geopolitical relationships around the world have increasingly become strained and uncertain with direction and I believe we’ll see state-sponsored attacks being carried out much more; possibly even against critical infrastructure. There have been a number of attempts and even successful attacks against these types of systems but for the most part they’ve all been isolated incidents.
“One can only wonder though if these attacks were merely conducted to set up backdoor functionality for a future panic button push to cripple the target’s systems. Not to mention the considerable adoption of IoT devices connecting once-segregated Operations Technology (OT) environments; which only further widens the attack landscape.
“The security in these environments need to be fully assessed and controls need to be put in place as soon as possible in order to mitigate against future attacks. It’s only a matter of time.”
Anurag Kahol, CTO at Bitglass concludes:
“Threat actors are always enhancing their current tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) as well as creating new ones in order to infiltrate businesses and steal data, implant ransomware, and more.
“One technique that will continue to gain traction in 2020 is lateral phishing. This scheme involves a threat actor launching a phishing attack from a corporate email address that was already previously compromised.
“Even the savviest security-minded folks can be lulled into a false sense of security when they receive an email asking for sensitive information from an internal source – particularly from a C-level executive. As we will continue to see cybercriminals refining their attack methods in 2020, companies must be prepared.”