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Cybersecurity Performance

Measuring Success: Cybersecurity Performance Metrics that Count

Some time ago, businesses could go by with just a little help from their antivirus software friends. But as cybercriminals became sleeker with innovative tactics, the old lines of defense just didn’t work anymore. 
Staying vigilant in the face of today’s possible hacks requires a more thorough strategy. Long gone are the days when you could set an antivirus software and forget about it for about two or three years. These days, you need to continuously evaluate how effective your security controls are, what are the weak access points, compliance guidelines, and other elements of a sound security strategy.
But how do you determine how effective the tools are? Especially if your company leader wants to know the effectiveness of your strategy. You need to bring them value, be it through ROI or other results that are harder to quantify.
In this article, we will single out metrics that help determine how good your cybersecurity performance is.

The Best Cybersecurity Performance Methodologies

The two best methodologies you can use to assess cybersecurity performance work the best when combined.

The first one entails just measuring everything. Collecting data from all points of your cybersecurity strategy means you are aiming to create a culture of measurement and make decisions based on facts. The fallback of this method is that you can get overwhelmed with all the data to the point where it doesn’t bring you value. The truth is that you don’t need heaps of data to make management decisions. 

The second method entails collecting data and then applying analytical techniques that describe the nature of the data. Here, you don’t really go for numbers. Rather you go for scales that have grades such as “nominal, ordinal, ratio”, etc.

The Best Cybersecurity Performance Metrics to Use

Now we’ll go over some metrics that can give you practical ideas on forming your cybersecurity performance plan.

The Proportion of Devices with Endpoint Protection

In a company’s cybersecurity program, endpoints like laptops, servers, and printers are among the most vulnerable components, in part because they are handled by another fragile component: people. Every device should be taken into account for endpoint protection as part of a cybersecurity program, and any unprotected endpoints should be noted. This performance metric for cybersecurity aims for a value as near to 100% as possible.

Cybersecurity Performance Metrics

Number of Systems with Vulnerabilities

A crucial cybersecurity indicator for assessing the risk your company faces is the number of exposed assets in your environment. Although managing updates and patches is a difficult task, it is crucial to do so to close security gaps, especially those related to access control. A vulnerability scan that covers all of your assets will show you what needs to be done to strengthen your company’s security posture. An effective vulnerability management program is not just a matter of courtesy.

Amount of Users with “Super-user” Access

The most effective methods for managing information security involve giving users complete discretion over how much access control they have to the company’s resources. Employees should only have access to the assets, systems, and data they need to do their jobs. By identifying the access levels of every network user, you can change them as necessary by preventing any illogical super users or administrators.

The Time It Takes to Deactivate Former Employee Credentials

You can determine whether the IT and HR departments are on the same page by tracking these cybersecurity KPIs. In a perfect world, access for users who have been fired by the company would be promptly revoked through responsive access control. Maintaining them in use poses a danger since it exposes private data and may compromise devices.

Average Time to Handle Breaches

How long does it take to update the software when vendors provide security updates? Delays in installing security patches expose the organization to a known vulnerability that could be used to launch a cyberattack. Fast patch installation is recommended, as is virtual patching while patches are unavailable. Applying patches as soon as possible—within days or even hours following the publication of the update—is the aim.

Average Rating of Security Vendors

Attacks on supply chains are becoming a bigger concern to businesses of all kinds. A cybersecurity program must include ongoing monitoring of vendors’ cybersecurity defenses as well as the regular third-party assurance of both new and existing vendors. All third parties engaged by your company should receive high-security ratings and low-risk ratings from this KPI.

Final Word

If you want to know if your cybersecurity strategy is doing the job, you should do more than just secure your access controls. A good strategy incorporates KPIs that are both quantifiable and quantifiable. By combining the lessons learned from the metrics above, you can do your company a big favor. Along with getting continuous monitoring, you will also get results that will firmly set you on the right path.

Cybersecurity Habits

7 Cybersecurity Habits You Need to Break ASAP

Rarely a day passes without news of a cyber attack at yet another company, institution, or government body.

Many businesses continue to implement poor network security procedures in the face of identified risks. Here are 7 negative habits that are all too prevalent in cybersecurity, or lack thereof.

7 Worst Cybersecurity Habits

Here are the worst cybersecurity practices you might have seen, or been guilty of yourself.

Poor Password Security Rules

Commonly used and short passwords are a weak spot for your network, cloud apps, and email services. Such passwords can be easily guessed by potential attackers. So think about using a password manager tool. Such a tool helps you create and remember your unique logins. Another thing that helps is MFA (multi-factor authentication).

Also, consider not giving users admin access. That is sometimes given to users during troubleshooting, and then forgotten. Such a practice leaves you in a very vulnerable spot.

Bypassing Corporate Controls

Cybersecurity specialists frequently work around company controls – they disable them, or change repetitive settings only to forget to revert the changes after finishing.

Sure, it’s possible to disable or remove security measures like antivirus software, network security protocols, or MFA, but that exposes your system and unencrypted documents to attacks. And you should educate the rest of your staff on the dangers of bypassing corporate controls, too. Denying access to certain websites is done not just for productivity reasons but also to implement healthy cybersecurity habits.

Using Outdated Technology

Many businesses continue to use Windows Server 2003, despite the fact that it has a number of unpatched security vulnerabilities.

Rigidity is a common problem in the IT sector—if something isn’t broken, why fix it? Despite the fact that something may be functional, it is weak in terms of security. Even if an older piece of technology has been patched, that doesn’t guarantee that it is safe or that another vulnerability won’t expose it in the near future.

Companies must stop with the outdated methods and implement cybersecurity habits that can handle modern problems.

Failing to Review the Environment as a Whole

Security experts frequently don’t look at the wider picture to assess whether an environment is getting less safe. They are too busy responding to pressing problems. For instance, a senior admin’s privileges may be elevated to super admin status for the day, but due to urgent issues not revoked afterwards.

A thorough system review should be conducted following a penetration test. After a penetration test, we shouldn’t sit idly; instead, we should use the test as a starting point. Networks are incredibly dynamic, and updating or adding software can quickly alter your security posture.

Cybersecurity Poor Password Security Rules

Using Company Equipment for Personal Use

A lot of us are quick to use company devices for personal use. One personal email may not seem like a lot, but the outcome could be huge and damning.

Educate and train your staff on the dangers of misusing company equipment. Online shopping and downloading non-company apps and software can have wide-reaching company consequences. Especially if it opens the door for potential cyberattackers.

Your staff shouldn’t keep their personal data on company devices, and vice versa – no company data should be on their personal devices. To help them with the latter, get them all company devices to use so they don’t have to use their own laptop to perform tasks.

Negligence Toward False Positives

Some cybersecurity experts are careless when it comes to false positives, which happen when a security system identifies a benign file as malicious and blocks it. Data corruption, service interruptions, or a total inability to function are all potential consequences of this.

The cybersecurity habits some security professionals have is to minimize the possibility of high false positives and choose security stack solutions that are configured to overly cautious levels, which leads to false positives.

Not Patching Straight Away

Companies regularly invest thousands of dollars on security systems only to have them thwarted by something as simple as delaying the installation of a security patch. Many businesses put themselves at danger by delaying the installation of crucial security upgrades for at least a week after they are released.

Patch management weak spots include pushing out updates too quickly and devices going offline. But the most notable risk is simply and bafflingly leaving a system open to cyberattackers by not patching straight away.

Final Word

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to good cybersecurity practices and innovations. But we can all universally agree on bad cybersecurity practices. Never stop re-evaluating your security assets and how big a risk they pose. Vigilance in keeping a certain cybersecurity level is the foundation for strong security best practices. 

hackers use AI

How Hackers Use AI and Machine Learning to Target Enterprises

AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning are often touted as things that will bring both small businesses and enterprises to new levels. But the bad frequently follows the good. Meaning that while AI and machine learning improve cybersecurity, they are also being used by cybercriminals.

Cybercriminals are using advanced technology to create and launch sophisticated malware and cyber attacks that easily bypass and fool cybersecurity systems.

More complex cyberattacks are our future, along with increased frequency. So in this article, we will cover in more detail what AI and machine learning do when in the wrong hands.

Importance of Cybersecurity in 2022

With the increasing number of cyberattacks, spotting vulnerable spots in your IT infrastructure is crucial to keep your business’ data, hardware, and other software safe.

In case your company does fall victim to a cyberattack (which isn’t the end of the world because you can never be 100% safe), there are steps to take afterward. After neutralizing the threat, the important thing is to revise the security protocols using the lessons learned from the recent attack.

Another vital step is to never stop learning – hackers use AI and machine learning more and more, and you should know about the latest hacker trends and what exactly they do to extract sensitive company data.

What are AI and Machine Learning in Cybersecurity?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is great in assisting security operations analysts to tackle the cyberattacks’ increase in scale and variety. Artificial intelligence (AI) tech such as machine learning and natural language processing enables analysts to link together various threats.

Machine learning, as a subset of AI, creates automated analytical models. What this translates to is that it lets IT systems gain more insight and thus update various processes according to what the program experienced through continuous use. That allows IT systems to learn from previous calculations and adapt on their own.

Ways Hackers Use AI and Machine Learning

Hackers use increasingly sophisticated methods to breach IT security, gather information, and launch attacks. The usefulness of machine learning and AI also benefits cybercriminals. The following evolving threats in the IT sector are ones that your company needs to be aware of.

More Sophisticated Phishing Emails

Attackers create phishing emails using machine learning. On dark web forums, they are promoting the sale of these services. There, they mention utilizing machine learning to produce more effective phishing emails. They operate by creating fake personalities for use in scam efforts.

Hackers can use machine learning to creatively alter phishing emails so that they don’t appear in bulk email lists and are optimized to encourage engagement and clicks. They go beyond the email’s text. Hackers use AI to produce realistic images, social media personas, and other content to give the interaction the best possible legitimacy.

hackers use AI Cyber threat

Faster Password Guessing

Additionally, criminals use AI and machine learning to improve their password guessing skills. It is evident that password guessing engines now have more sophisticated techniques based on the frequency and success rates of criminal hacking attempts. The ability to hack stolen hashes is also improving as criminals are creating better dictionaries.

Additionally, they are utilizing machine learning to identify security measures so they can guess better passwords with fewer attempts, increasing their likelihood of success.

Using Deep Fakes

The deep fake tools that can produce video or audio difficult to distinguish from the real human speech are the most terrifying way hackers use AI and machine learning.

A few high-profile cases involving faked audio costing businesses hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars have come to light recently.

In order to make their messages seem more credible, scammers are increasingly using artificial intelligence and machine learning to create realistic-looking user-profiles and videos. It’s a huge industry. Since 2016, company email scams have caused over $43 billion in losses, according to the FBI.

Social Engineering

Cybercriminals use the tactic of social engineering to trick and convince victims to disclose confidential details or perform a specific action, like sending money abroad or opening an infected file.

By making it simpler and faster for them to gather data on businesses, employees, and partners, AI and machine learning make use of the actions of criminals. In other words, social engineering-based attacks are strengthened by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Final Word

There are so many different aspects of cybersecurity to cover, and we covered just a tiny portion in this article. But it is enough to get you started and realize just how much hackers use AI and machine learning.

So if criminals are using the best technology out there to perform malicious activities, you should be breathing down their necks, too, by continuously updating your security systems.

Because remember – AI and machine learning can keep you safe from various cyber threats.

security threat cyber attack

Logic Bomb – A Hidden Security Threat

While it may seem daunting to continuously stay informed on security threats, you have to face the reality that that’s the norm these days. After all, the accessibility of technology brings with it malicious activity, with cybersecurity attacks being performed daily all over the globe.

From hopeful startups to enterprises with thousands of workers depending on their efficiency, all the way to individuals and whole governments trying to preserve peace – all organizations and individuals are in jeopardy when it comes to cybersecurity.

So that is why you should be vigilant to prevent potential attacks and lessen their impact if they do occur. That is why today we will cover the topic of the logic bomb – what is it, and how do you keep your business and yourself safe?

Definition of a Logic Bomb

A logic bomb is a piece of code inserted by cybercriminals into operating systems, programs, apps, and networks. It lies dormant and is activated once certain conditions are met.

Once activated, the logic bomb “goes off” which in this case means files start getting deleted, hard drives get erased, and sensitive data becomes corrupted.

If you want to get more technical – logic bombs are not malware. Rather, security threat being present is a part of the malware. Some well-known types of malware are viruses and works, and logic bombs can be a part of their code. But while other kinds of malware can often infect a system on their own, malware containing logic bombs is frequently inserted by an inside man – a displeased employee or a worker who secretly started working for the competition.

And just like timebombs, logic bombs are triggered by a specific condition, one that’s coded into them.

security threat cybersecurity

How Do Logic Bombs Work?

Let’s get more into the inner workings of a logic bomb.

The conditions that trigger these bombs can be:

  • Positive: Such logic bombs go off after a condition is met – after a file is opened, for instance.
  • Negative: Such logic bombs actually go off when a condition is not met – for instance, if the logic bomb isn’t disabled in time.

Logic bombs can inflict serious damage even to reputable financial reputations by wiping out their data. Here are other ways logic bombs affect your IT infrastructure and network:

  • Using system resources
  • Restricting or prohibiting legitimate user access
  • Letting hackers into your system via backdoors
  • Tampering with data
  • Wiping out data

Having in mind that attackers usually exploit the software development lifecycle to insert a logic bomb, you should act preemptively against these security threats.

Logic Bomb Prevention: Short Overview

Just like real physical bombs, logic bombs hit your business or government when you least expect them. What can you do to keep your data and employees safe?

Get Yourself a Trusty Antivirus Software

The foundation for a cyber-secure working environment is made from two things – educated employees aware of the threats lurking in the digital world, and reliable antivirus software. Robust apps and software stop the malware before it gets the chance to infect devices in your IT system.

Moreover, by getting a proven antivirus software, you are probably also signing up for software that updates constantly to ensure a safer online experience.

Educating Employees on Cybersecurity

While the most educated teams working for your organization should be your in-house IT team and your outsourced managed service provider, other people working for you should also grasp the dangers of the online world.

Continuous education through online courses and live conferences is a great investment. Not only do teams get to go on team buildings, but you get real value from them being sent to learn about cybersecurity. That way, you lessen the chance of them unintentionally letting in a security threat into your system by downloading something from an untrusted source.

Monitor and Maintain Your Operating System

Just as you’d get a security guard to work in your office space, you should do the equivalent for your organization in its virtual setting.

Your cloud, the data on it, and the data stored on hardware – all of it should be protected round the clock. If your full-time IT team has problems covering all shifts, then monitoring your operating system could be handed over to an outsourced team.

Also, they can handle the updates for the operating system, allowing you and the in-house teams to focus on other challenges. In the meantime, your OS gets updated with new features and enhanced security.

Final Word

Logic bombs are challenging to find once in your network. They are hidden within legitimate programs and apps. Most organizations won’t be aware that a security threat is lurking in their IT infrastructure or systems until the bomb goes off. The first step is realizing what you’re up against, and then you can work with your in-house team or dedicated outsourced experts to flesh out a cybersecurity strategy fit for 2022.

Cyber Extortion

What Is Cyber Extortion and How to Protect Yourself From It?

Technology is changing by the day. And while we reap many benefits from it, other people are also taking advantage by engaging in criminal behavior that is extremely damaging to individuals, organizations, and whole governments.

One of the many risks lurking online is the theft of valuable data. Lots of it is stolen for cyber extortion. Its most common form is ransomware – a sophisticated and emerging form of malware. Country leaders, CEOs, and individuals should be ready and equipped with knowledge not just to mend from such attacks but also to prevent them altogether.

Find out what forms cyber extortion takes and how you can protect yourself from it.

Definition of Cyber Extortion

Cyber extortion is an online attack that has the goal of extracting huge ransom sums. It often involves criminals that threaten with server failures and/or data encryption – which locks your access to previously accessible data.

The act of taking data hostage can happen when you or your knowledgeable staff clicks on malicious links that automatically download malware, encrypt your files, and locks you out. Another thing a hacker can do is copy your important data. As with real-life extortion, psychology plays a massive part in the whole process, with cyber criminals making outrageous ransom requests, for which you have no way of knowing if they are being serious or bluffing.

Most Common Types of Cyber Extortion

Cyber extortion can take many forms since every piece of data stolen in any way can be used for extortion purposes. But the most common types of cyber extortion take form in the following ways:

Cyber Extortion Ransomware

Ransomware

Ransomware is the most frequently found form of extortion. In these cases, criminals hack into your network and take your data hostage or any other important element of your IT infrastructure and network. Then these cybercriminals contact you or leave a message demanding payments in exchange for the safe return of your data and for preventing the data to be leaked or sold to a third party. These days criminals often ask for payment in cryptocurrency.

DDoS

Another often-seen sort of cyber extortion includes a DDoS attack. It’s done by cyber criminals who send a large number of fake service requests to your web server, which overloads its capacities. Sending out these fake requests is done through infected servers (botnets).

That overload renders your website non-functional and stops it from serving users who visit the site. Not only does that cause downtime and make your users switch over to your competition, but it can also cause a loss of capital and/or stakeholders

Email-based Cyber Extortion

There are some overlaps between different types of extortion, and such is the case with email-based cyber extortion. While the attack itself could’ve been done in a myriad of ways, what defines email-based extortion is that the threat comes through the email, and the attacker threatens to release private information through emails sent to your entire address book, which often includes colleagues, family, and friends.

Cybercriminals often obtain sensitive emails, pictures, videos, and more.

How to Protect Yourself From Cyber Extortion?

Cyber Extortion Cyber Attack

Since cybercriminals are no danger to you until they breach your network, the main question now is – how do you prevent extortion?

There are several ways, the most prevalent and useful ones being:

  • Educating Your Employees: Unfortunately, breaches often happen because employees are not informed enough about the dangers of cyberattacks. Your older staff can particularly be vulnerable to scams and downloading malware. Make sure you send your work staff to cyber security courses.
  • Backing Up Data: This is the first and most useful step. Because no matter how hard you try, you can never be 100% safe. Backing up data regularly will save you from lots of stress, money losses, and internal conflicts.
  • Implementing a Patch Management System: Hackers are constantly seeking weak points in networks. Regularly check your network for potential security gaps and apply software patches to close them.
  • Applying a Strong Password Policy: Attackers can take advantage of your system if you use default administrator usernames and passwords. Default passwords should be changed, and strong passwords used. Avoid using the same password for several different accounts, add special characters and numbers to a password, and change it frequently.

Final Word

Ransomware is one of the most prevalent types of digital attack and is rapidly evolving. Your organization must develop its systems to guarantee that data is safeguarded from cyber extortion both now and in the future. You can ensure your company is safe in 2022 and beyond by doing detailed ransomware risk assessments and employing the help of proven Managed Service Providers.