There are many different kinds of sensitive data that can be exposed, each with its own particular exploits and consequences. This article will focus on what we have categorized as “systems information,” data that describes digital operations, such as systems inventory, configuration details, data center and cloud design, performance metrics and analyses, application code, and IT business data, such as equipment spend, vendor discount, and budgeting. By better understanding what this data is, why it matters, and what the potential consequences of its exposure are, we can more effectively act to control sensitive information and prevent future data breaches.
During the course of UpGuard’s cyber risk research, we uncover many assets that are publicly readable: cloud storage, file synchronization services, code repositories, and more. Most data exposures occur because of publicly readable assets, where sensitive and confidential data is leaked to the internet at large by way of a permissions misconfiguration. This type of exposure is damaging enough for most organizations— it disrupts the trust between customer and company by leaking personally identifiable information (PII), and often reveals trade secrets and other proprietary data that businesses depend on to maintain a competitive edge. But there’s another type of resource we encounter as well: assets that are publicly writable.
Introduction Previously we introduced the concept of cloud leaks, and then examined how they happen. Now we’ll take a look at why they matter. To understand the consequences of cloud leaks for the organizations involved, we should first take a close look at exactly what it is that’s being leaked. Then we can examine some of the traditional ways information has been exploited, as well as some new and future threats such data exposures pose.
No, we aren't talking about your burger-inhaling operator passing out on the job, leaving your precious IT assets unattended. You've probably guessed that we're referring to the latest Wendy's data breach announcement: on June 9th, the international fast food chain disclosed that its January 2016 security compromise was, in fact, a lot worse than originally stated—potentially eclipsing the Home Depot and Target data breaches.
The insurance industry has been consistently targeted for cyber attacks as of late, for good reason: sensitive data is at the heart of every process—from handling health insurance claims to archiving medical histories. And because medical records are worth ten times more than credit card information on the black market, firms handling said data are required to take extra precautions in bolstering information security. However, every once in a while hackers are granted freebies—as was the case recently with Systema Software, a small insurance claims management solution provider.
It's not pleasant to think about, but the fact is that when we go to work we are expected to do things. But what are the things that need doing? If we can answer that question without hours of meetings or dozens of emails we can finish our work and do...other things. UpGuard's new Tasks feature provides a lightweight project management system designed especially to maintain quality in a rapidly changing environment.
When we began building a Cyber Risk Research team at UpGuard, we knew there were unavoidable risks. We would be finding and publishing reports on sensitive, exposed data in order to stanch the flow of such private information onto the public internet. It seemed likely the entities involved would not always be pleased, particularly as the majority of the exposures we discovered would be attributable to human error and/or internal process failures. As a team, however, we believed those were risks worth taking. By performing the public good of securing exposures and raising awareness of this problem, UpGuard could help to spur long-term improvements and raise awareness of the growing data security epidemic.
The European Union’s GDPR regulations go into effect in May of this year. In essence, GDPR is a strict data privacy code that holds companies responsible for securing the data they store and process. Although GDPR was approved in April 2016, companies affected by the regulations are still struggling to reach compliance by the May 2018 deadline. A lot of hype has been built up about this systemic unpreparedness, especially in the cybersecurity sector, where GDPR is seen as “the coming storm.” Despite this atmosphere, the main challenge facing GDPR-covered entities remains largely hidden: third-party vendors.
One of the challenges of managing third-party risk is effectively managing large portfolios of vendors. Your business may have hundreds, even thousands of vendors, each used differently and presenting different kinds of information security risks. To help organize and manage your vendors, UpGuard CyberRisk uses a common pattern found in email clients such as Gmail. You can organize your vendors in the way that makes sense to you using labels.
Information technology has changed the way people do business. For better, it has brought speed, scale, and functionality to all aspects of commerce and communication. For worse, it has brought the risks of data exposure, breach, and outage. The damage that can be done to a business through its technology is known as cyber risk, and with the increasing consequences of such incidents, managing cyber risk, especially among third parties, is fast becoming a critical aspect of any organization. The specialized nature of cyber risk requires the translation of technical details into business terms. Security ratings and cyber risk assessments serve this purpose, much like a credit score does for assessing the risk of a loan. But the methodologies employed by solutions in this space vary greatly, as do their results.
Meltdown/Spectre Overview Meltdown and Spectre are critical vulnerabilities affecting a large swathe of processors: “effectively every [Intel] processor since 1995 (except Intel Itanium and Intel Atom before 2013),” as meltdownattack.com puts it. ARM and AMD processors are susceptible to portions of Meltdown, though much less at risk than the affected Intel hardware. Exploiting Meltdown allows attackers to access data from other programs, effectively allowing them to steal whatever data they want.
A Worst Case Scenario This week it was revealed that a severe vulnerability in a majority of processors has existed for nearly ten years, affecting millions of computers around the world, including all the major cloud providers who rely on Intel chips in their data centers. Essentially, this flaw grants complete access to protected memory, including secrets like passwords, from any program on the exploited computer. Even from the web. This flaw is so serious that allegations have already been made that Intel’s CEO sold millions of dollars of stock in the company after the flaw was found, but before it was revealed to the public, the idea being that a vulnerability of this magnitude would be enough to substantially hurt Intel on the market, even though it affects some ARM and AMD processors as well.
Microsoft’s enterprise software powers the majority of large environments. Though often hybridized with open source solutions and third party offerings, the core components of Windows Server, Exchange, and SQL Server form the foundation of many organizations’ data centers. Despite their prevalence in the enterprise, Microsoft systems have also carried a perhaps unfair reputation for insecurity, compared to Linux and other enterprise options. But the insecurities exploited in Microsoft software are overwhelmingly caused by misconfigurations and process errors, not flaws in the technology— patches are not applied on a quick and regular cadence; settings are not hardened according to best practices; dangerous defaults are left in place in production; unused modules and services are not disabled and removed. Microsoft has come a long way to bring its out-of-the-box security up to snuff with its famous usability, not to mention introducing command-line and programmatic methods by which to manage their systems. But even now, the careful control necessary to run a secure and reliable data center on any platform can be difficult to maintain all of the time at scale.
Despite spending billions on cybersecurity solutions, private industry, government and enterprises alike are faced with the continued challenge of preventing data breaches. The reason cybersecurity solutions have not mitigated this problem is that the overwhelming majority of data exposure incidents are due to misconfigurations, typically by way of third-party vendors, not cutting-edge cyber attacks. These misconfigurations are the result of process errors during data handling, and often leave massive datasets completely exposed to the internet for anyone to stumble across.
GitHub is a popular online code repository used by over 26 million people across the world for personal and enterprise uses. GitHub offers a way for people to collaborate on a distributed code base with powerful versioning, merging, and branching features. GitHub has become a common way to outsource the logistics of managing a code base repository so that teams can focus on the coding itself. But as GitHub has become a de facto standard, even among software companies, it has also become a vector for data breaches— the code stored on GitHub ranges from simple student tests to proprietary corporate software worth millions of dollars. Like any server, network device, database, or other digital surface, GitHub suffers from misconfiguration.
Introduction The Internet Footprint There is much more to a company’s internet presence than just a website. Even a single website has multiple facets that operate under the surface to provide the functionality users have become accustomed to. The internet footprint for every company comprises all of their websites, registered domains, servers, IP addresses, APIs, DNS records, certificates, vendors, and other third parties-- anything that is accessible from the internet. The larger the footprint, the more digital surfaces it contains, the more complex are its inner workings, and the more resources it requires to maintain. Because although having an internet presence is basically a given these days, the risk incurred by that presence is not always acknowledged.
The Problem of Digitization The digitization of business has increased the speed of commerce, the scope of customers, the understanding of consumer habits, and the efficiency of operations across the board. It has also increased the risk surface of business, creating new dangers and obstacles for the business itself, not just its technology. This risk is compounded by the interrelations of digital businesses as data handling and technological infrastructure is outsourced, as each third party becomes a vector for breach or exposure for the primary company. The technical nature of this risk makes it inaccessible to those without advanced skills and knowledge, leaving organizations without visibility into an extremely valuable and critical part of the business.
When we think about cyber attacks, we usually think about the malicious actors behind the attacks, the people who profit or gain from exploiting digital vulnerabilities and trafficking sensitive data. In doing so, we can make the mistake of ascribing the same humanity to their methods, thinking of people sitting in front of laptops, typing code into a terminal window. But the reality is both more banal and more dangerous: just like businesses, governments, and other organizations have begun to index data and automate processes, the means of finding and exploiting internet-connected systems are largely performed by computers. There’s no security in obscurity if there’s no obscurity.
Security ratings are like credit ratings, but for the assessment of a company’s web-facing applications. Where a credit rating lets a company determine the risk of lending to a prospective debtor, a security rating lets it decide how risky it will be to deal with another in handling data. The comparison even flattens out when we remember one of the key principles ofcyber resilience: that cyber risk “is actually business risk, and always has been.”
In June of 2017 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce posted the “Principles for Fair and Accurate Security Ratings,” a document supported by a number of organizations interested in the emerging market for measuring cyber risk. The principles provide a starting point for understanding the current state of security ratings and for establishing a shared baseline for assessing vendors in that market.
When we think about cyber attacks, we usually think about the malicious actors behind the attacks, the people who profit or gain from exploiting digital vulnerabilities and trafficking sensitive data. In doing so, we can make the mistake of ascribing the same humanity to their methods, thinking of people sitting in front of laptops, typing code into a terminal window. But the reality is both more banal and more dangerous: just like businesses, governments, and other organizations, hackers have begun to index data and automate hacking processes: the work of finding and exploiting internet-connected systems is largely performed by computers. There’s no security in obscurity if there’s no obscurity.
Guest post by UpGuard engineer Nickolas Littau While running a series of unit tests that make API calls to Amazon Web Services (AWS), I noticed something strange: tests were failing unpredictably. Sometimes all the tests would pass, then on the next run, a few would fail, and the time after that, a different set would fail. The errors I was getting didn’t seem to make any sense:
The way businesses handle the risks posed by their technology is changing. As with anything, adaptability is survivability. When the techniques, methods, and philosophies of the past aren’t working, the time has come to find something better to replace them. Cyber resilience is a set of practices and perspectives that mitigate risk within the processes and workflow of normal operations in order to protect organizations from their own technology and the people who would try to exploit it. This includes all forms of cyber attacks, but also applies to process errors inside the business that put data and assets in danger without outside help.
Technology and Information How much digital technology is required for your business to operate? Unless this document has traveled back in time, the chances are quite a lot. Now consider how much digital technology your vendors require to operate. The scope of technology grows quickly when you consider how vast the interconnected ecosystem of digital business really is. But digital business isn’t just about technology, it’s about information. For many companies, the information they handle is just as critical as the systems that process it, if not more so.
When we examined the differences between breaches, attacks, hacks, and leaks, it wasn’t just an academic exercise. The way we think about this phenomenon affects the way we react to it. Put plainly: cloud leaks are an operational problem, not a security problem. Cloud leaks are not caused by external actors, but by operational gaps in the day-to-day work of the data handler. The processes by which companies create and maintain cloud storage must account for the risk of public exposure.
Making Copies In our first article on cloud leaks, we took a look at what they were and why they should be classified separately from other cyber incidents. To understand how cloud leaks happen and why they are so common, we need to step back and first take a look at the way that leaked information is first generated, manipulated, and used. It’s almost taken as a foregone conclusion that these huge sets of sensitive data exist and that companies are doing something with them, but when you examine the practice of information handling, it becomes clear that organizing a resilient process becomes quite difficult at scale; operational gaps and process errors lead to vulnerable assets, which in turn lead to cloud leaks.
Breaches, Hacks, Leaks, Attacks It seems like every day there’s a new incident of customer data exposure. Credit card and bank account numbers; medical records; personally identifiable information (PII) such as address, phone number, or SSN— just about every aspect of social interaction has an informational counterpart, and the social access this information provides to third parties gives many people the feeling that their privacy has been severely violated when it’s exposed.
Nearly all large enterprises use the cloud to host servers, services, or data. Cloud hosted storage, like Amazon's S3, provides operational advantages over traditional computing that allow resources to be automatically distributed across robust and geographically varied servers. However, the cloud is part of the internet, and without proper care, the line separating the two disappears completely in cloud leaks— a major problem when it comes to sensitive information.
Global in scale, with across the board press coverage, the WannaCry ransomware attack has quickly gained a reputation as one of the worst cyber incidents in recent memory. Despite the scale, this attack relied on the same tried and true methods as other successful malware: find exposed ports on the Internet, and then exploit known software vulnerabilities. When put that way, the attack loses its mystique. But there’s still a lot we can learn from this incident, and we’ve summed up the five most important takeaways to keep in mind going forward.
Why dashboards? Nobody’s perfect. Success is almost always determined through trial and error, learning from mistakes and course-correcting to avoid them in the future. The length of this cycle— from experiment to result, incorporated into future decisions— determines how quickly a trajectory can be altered, which in turn offers more opportunities to succeed. However, capturing and using hard data to make these adjustments is more difficult than it seems. Dashboards visualize real time data and recent trends, giving people insight into whether their efforts are succeeding— assuming they’re using the right metrics.
UpGuard is proud to announce that security expert Chris Vickery is joining our team as a cyber risk analyst, bringing with him a stunning track record of discovering major data breaches and vulnerabilities across the digital landscape. Chris comes to us from his previous role as a digital security researcher, where among other achievements, he discovered a publicly accessible database containing the voter registration records for 93.4 million Mexican citizens, protecting more than seventy percent of the country’s population from the risk of exposure of their personal information.
A funny thing that’s happened as the digitization of business has sped up in the last ten years is that process cadence has not done well in keeping up. Regulatory compliance standards often use quarters, or even years, as audit intervals, and in unregulated industries that interval can be yet longer. But in the data center, changes happen all the time, changing the risk profile of the business along with it. Determining which changes are the root cause of a problem can be the difference between fixing it and having it happen again.
Going from nothing to automation using one of the many tools available can be a daunting task. How can you automate systems when you’re not even 100% sure how they’ve been configured? The documentation is months out of date and the last guy to configure anything on that box has since left the company to ply his trade somewhere that will more fully appreciate his Ops cowboy routine.
Few corporate rivalries are as legendary as these two enterprise contenders; admittedly, there have been more than a fair share of comparisons pitting the pair against each other over the last century. So we're offering a twist to the traditional cola challenge: how do Pepsi and Coke stack up in terms of cyber resilience? Read more to find out.
Leading security researchers have confirmed that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) suffered a massive data breach leading to the exposure of sensitive military data and senior staff information. Here's what you need to know about this latest security failure involving the U.S. government.
On February 18th, 2017, Google security researchers discovered a massive leak in Cloudflare's services that resulted in the exposure of sensitive data belonging to thousands of its customers. Here's what you need to know about the Cloudbleed bug and what can be done to protect your data.
Managing complexity in heterogeneous infrastructures is a challenge faced by all enterprise IT departments, even if their environments are relegated to *NIX or Windows. In the case of the latter, UpGuard's new RSoP/GPO scanning capability streamlines remediation and compliance efforts by enabling Windows operators to easily scan and monitor the disparate security configurations of their Active Directory (AD) instances and Windows endpoints.
As the two leading mobile telecom providers in the U.S., AT&T and Verizon are perpetually at war on almost all fronts—pricing, quality of service, network coverage, and more. But with data breaches at an all time high, security fitness may soon become a critical factor for consumers evaluating wireless service providers. Let's find out how the two compare when it comes to measures of enterprise cyber resilience.
Arby's announced last week that its recently disclosed data breach may impact 355,000 credit card holders that dined at its restaurants between October 2016 and January 2017. Are fast food vendors resilient enough to sustain future cyber attacks and—more importantly—protect consumers against online threats?
Booksellers and electronics retailers aren't the only brick-and-mortar businesses challenged by the rise of highly agile, online-only competitors—traditional retail banking institutions also face stiff competition from Internet-based consumer banking upstarts. But are these born-in-the-cloud banks and financial services offerings safer than their traditional counterparts? Let's take a look at the leading online banks to see if they're equipped to handle today's cyber threats.
With all the conveniences of modern air travel—mobile check-ins, e-gates, in-flight wifi, and more—it's easy to assume that the world's leading airlines have addressed the inherent cyber risks of digitization. But the safety of in-air passengers is just one aspect of airline customer security; are these companies doing their best to protect customers against online security compromises? Let's take a look at the world's leading airlines to find out.
UpGuard's Events systems provides a communication hub to send the data that UpGuard gathers to external systems. Integration between technologies is critical to high performing digital businesses, and UpGuard's Events system provides a simple way to get the information you need the places where you need it.
2016 was arguably the year when cybersecurity events entered into the global stream of consciousness, from the sabotage of national banks to the hacking of elections. And though we're barely into 2017, the breach announcements have already begun: on January 3rd, a data breach was discovered involving the sensitive data of health workers employed by the US military's Special Operations Command (SOCOM). An increase in government-related security incidents is one of our top predictions for 2017—here are 11 other cybersecurity predictions for the new year.
AAA predicts that a record number of Americans will be taking to the skies and roads this holiday season—103 million between Dec. 23-Jan. 2, a 1.5% increase over 2015. 57% of these travel reservations—that's 148 million travellers—booked online. Airfare/hotel/car rental comparison websites are an increasingly popular way to book travel these days, but how good are they at protecting their users' data? Let's take a look at the top 8 online travel aggregators' CSTAR ratings to find out.
At the start of 2015, Gartner predicted that DevOps adoption would evolve from a niche to mainstream enterprise strategy, resulting in 25% of Global 2000 companies drinking its Kool-Aid by 2016. And while the hype—tempered by the realities of implementation—has more or less died down as of late, the methodology's value to enterprises is no longer a debatable matter. Here are some highlights from 2016 detailing how the year panned out for DevOps and its practitioners.
On November 29th, after a high-profile year of published leaks and hacks targeting the Democratic Party, Wikileaks struck once more, albeit against an unexpected target: HBGary Federal, a now-defunct government contracting affiliate of the eponymous cybersecurity firm. It was not a name unfamiliar to online observers; in 2011, HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr had boldly claimed to have identified the leading members of internet hacking collective Anonymous, drawing attention from federal investigators eager to identify and arrest the culprits behind DDoS attacks in support of Wikileaks.
Vulnerability assessment is a necessary component of any complete security toolchain, and the most obvious place to start for anyone looking to improve their security. Ironically, starting with vulnerability assessment can actually degrade an organization's overall defense by shifting focus from the cause of most outages and breaches: misconfigurations.
It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is almost here, and with it, the frenzy of the holiday shopping season fast approaches. Whether you are camping out overnight for “Black Friday” bargains, or waiting for the online deals of “Cyber Monday,” the odds are you are more nervous than ever about the safety and security of your financial information against holiday scammers. At least, so indicate the results of UpGuard’s survey of over 1,200 respondents in November 2016. The survey finds that 95% of consumers are to some degree concerned about the security of their information online, and more than half would break with their favorite brands if they knew their information was at risk; full survey results can be viewed here.
Containers are all the rage these days, and for good reason: technologies such as Docker and CoreOS drastically simplify the packaging and shipping of applications, enabling them to scale without additional hardware or virtual machines. But with these benefits come issues related to management overhead and complexity—namely, how can developers quickly achieve visibility and validate configurations across distributed container clusters? The answer is with UpGuard's new etcd monitoring capabilities.
Several of the world's leading airlines are getting the travel season off to a rocky start: last week, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines resolved a technical glitch causing reservation/check-in and delays across 15 flights. With the holidays approaching, can airlines weather mounting losses caused by their aging computer systems and IT infrastructures?
Recently, New York’s Department of Financial Services and Gov. Andrew Cuomo released their long-awaited proposal for cybersecurity regulations regarding banking and financial services companies. The proposal, if implemented, would be the first mandatory state-level regulations on cybersecurity and promises to deliver sweeping protections to consumers and financial institutions alike. In Gov. Cuomo’s words: "This regulation helps guarantee the financial services industry upholds its obligation to protect consumers and ensure that its systems are sufficiently constructed to prevent cyberattacks to the fullest extent possible."
Government/politics, and cybersecurity—these topics may seem plucked from recent U.S. election headlines, but they're actually themes that have persisted over the last decade, reaching a pinnacle with the massive OPM data breach that resulted in the theft of over 22 million records—fingerprints, social security numbers, personnel information, security-clearance files, and more. Last month, a key government oversight panel issued a scathing 241 page analysis blaming the agency for jeopardizing U.S. national security for generations. The main culprit? Lack of visibility.
This is not an opener for a sex-ed public service announcement, but in fact the million-dollar question for today's enterprise CISOs and CROs: which vendor in the supply chain will prove to be the riskiest bedfellow? With 63% of all data breaches caused directly or indirectly by third party vendors, enterprise measures to bolster cyber resilience must now include the evaluation of partners' security as part of a broader cyber risk management strategy. Easier said than done: most third parties are unlikely to admit to their security shortcomings, and—as it turns out—even if they did, most firms wouldn't believe them anyway.
Last week, leading global ERP vendor SAP was busier than usual in the patch department: it released a record amount of closed issues per month and addressed 48 vulnerabilities—one of them an authentication bypass vulnerability previously left unaddressed for 3 years. Given how mission-critical ERP systems are for centralizing business operations these days, is it safe to assume that ERP vendors are serious about their customers' security? Let's take a look at the leading solution providers in this category to find out.
As enterprises resign themselves to the sobering fact that security compromises are unavoidable, another resulting inevitability is coming into play: ensuing lawsuits and class actions spurred by data breaches and customer data loss. Last week, the Republican presidential nominee's hotel chain and the U.S.' third largest search engine came to terms with this reality. What does the future hold for organizations facing inexorable data breaches coupled with the spectre of resulting litigation?
Does filling out an online survey in exchange for a few bucks sound too good be true? For ClixSense users, this is turning out to be the case: last week, the leading paid-to-click (PTC) survey firm admitted to a massive data breach involving virtually all of its users' accounts—roughly 6.6 million records in total. With so many giving in to the allure of easy money, PTC firms should be on top of securing privileged data of survey takers they're bankrolling. Let's find out how the top 5 compare when it comes to fulfilling this critical responsibility.
For Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, the goal for the rest of 2016 should be simple: don’t rock the boat. The Swedish music streaming service, which is widely expected to go public late next year, is already locked in enough significant conflicts to occupy most of Ek’s waking hours.
Essential to enterprise security, or a waste of time? Security professionals' opinions regarding penetration testing (pen testing) seem to fall squarely on either side of the spectrum, but—as with most IT practices—its efficacy depends on application and scope. And while pen testing alone is never enough to prevent data breaches from occurring, information gleaned from such efforts nonetheless play a critical role in bolstering a firm's continuous security mechanisms.
Leading cloud storage provider Dropbox is arguably having its worst month since launching back in 2007—but with over half a billion users, it's somewhat surprising that serious issues have only begun to surface between the ubiquitous service and the people trusting it with their files. First, in a recent announcement reminiscent of LinkedIn's latest data breach fiasco, Dropbox announced several weeks ago that over 68 million emails and passwords were compromised in a previously disclosed 2012 data breach. And now, security experts are criticizing the company for misleading OS X users into granting admin password access and root privileges to their systems. What recourse do consumers have when cloud services providers "drop the box" on security, or even worse—when their actions directly jeopardize the users they're supposed to protect?
As election year moves into the final stretch, news coverage wouldn't be complete without another mention of a politically motivated data breach or cybersecurity incident. Of course, several months ago the DNC's emails were compromised by hackers, resulting in the theft and exposure of 19,000 hacked emails and related documents. This pales in comparison, however, to the recent FBI announcement of data breaches involving both Illinois and Arizona's voter registration databases. If the controls critical to securing election systems continue to fail, how can participants in the democratic process be sure that their votes won't be hijacked?
When you use the internet, your computer has a conversation with a web server for every site you visit. Everything you submit in a form, any data you enter, becomes part of that conversation. The purpose of encryption is to ensure that nobody except you and the server you’re talking to can understand that conversation, because often sensitive information such as usernames and passwords, credit card data, and social security numbers are part of that conversation. Eavesdropping on these digital conversations and harvesting the personal information contained therein has become a profitable industry. But encryption isn’t an on/off switch. It requires careful configuration. In other words, the padlock isn’t always enough.
Our new digital reputation scan provides a fast and easy way to get a risk assessment for your (or any) business. We look at the same stuff that other external risk assessment tools do– SSL configurations, breach history, SPF records and other domain authenticity markers, blacklists and malware activity. We're happy to offer this service for free, because that information is public and we believe that it's what's inside that really matters. Most of the elements we include in our external assessment are not controversial, but one resulted in arguments lasting several days: the CEO approval rating. In selecting which checks would go into our risk assessment, we here at UpGuard looked at similar site assessment tools and selected only the checks that we thought were relevant to our goal: risk assessment, which overlaps with, but isn't identical to, website best practices. Plus, there are already fine tools for performing those best practices functions, so why duplicate them? We also intentionally omitted checks we thought would not be significant for calculating the risk of data breach and the damage it would cause.
If you regularly use a computer, chances are you spend at least part of your time reading internet news. If you have a subscription, you might even log in and enter your payment info. But how secure are news sites? Here at UpGuard, we took a look at six of the top news media sites on the internet to see how their security stacked up. Many big names had low scores, while a few did very well. What does this mean for the average online news reader?
Whether you’re deploying hundreds of Windows servers into the cloud through code, or handbuilding physical servers for a small business, having a proper method to ensure a secure, reliable environment is crucial to success. Everyone knows that an out-of-the-box Windows server may not have all the necessary security measures in place to go right into production, although Microsoft has been improving the default configuration in every server version. UpGuard presents this ten step checklist to ensure that your Windows servers have been sufficiently hardened against most attacks.
For believers of the old adage love of money is the root of all evil, it comes as no surprise that most data breaches are carried out for financial gain. Verizon's 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) reveals that the 75 percent of cyber attacks appear to have been financially motivated; suffice to say, it's not surprising that ATMs are constantly in the crosshairs of cyber attackers.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Sundar Pichai, Twitter's Jack Dorsey, what do these three high-flying CEOs have in common? Their social media accounts were all hijacked recently due to bad password habits. To be fair, these breaches occurred indirectly as a result of triggering events—for example, a massive Linkedin data breach led to Zuckerberg's Twitter account getting hijacked, but one thing is for certain: the executive leadership of the world's leading tech companies are as prone to password management mishaps as the rest of us. And—as the latest LastPass vulnerability serves to illustrate—password management solutions may no longer be a safe alternative for memorizing passwords.
Tuesday July 12th is online retail giant Amazon’s self-styled “Prime Day,” and the potential deals mean a surge in online shopping. Designing systems and applications to handle the amount of traffic a site like Amazon sees day to day, much less during promotions like Prime Day, can be difficult in and of itself. Throw in the complexity of cybersecurity and it becomes clear why so many online retailers have trouble keeping up. Amazon itself has relatively good security, but what exactly does that mean for customers? We’ll look at what measures Amazon has in place, what they mean, and a few simple steps to tighten security even further.
You've seen enough Hollywood blockbusters about casino heists to know that gambling institutions are constantly in the crosshairs of attackers—online and off. In the digital realm, however, better malware tools and access to deep funding make today's cyber criminals more than a bad movie, especially when lucrative payloads are for the taking.
There are really only a few ways to get funding: an individual such as a venture capitalist or billionaire, a partnership or strategic investment by a corporation or state agency and getting a large number of people to give you a very small amount of money. Crowdfunding websites claim to offer a platform for the latter, giving inventors, artists and small businesses a method by which to propel themselves on the merits (or popularity) of their ideas, without needing inside connections or extensive business acumen as the other methods usually require. But because all of the transactions involved in crowdfunding take place on the internet, cybersecurity should be a number one concern for both users and operators of these websites. We used our external risk grader to analyze 7 crowdfunding industry leaders and see how they compare to each other and other industries.
Glassdoor's 2016 Employees' Choice Awards Highest Rated CEO List includes household names like Marc Beniof, Mark Zuckerberg, and Tim Cook—CEOs of companies that also score high marks for strong security. Is there any correlation between a company's cyber risk profile and its CEO employee approval rating?
The term cyber risk is often used to describe a business’ overall cybersecurity posture, i.e., at how much risk is this business, given the measures it has taken to protect itself. It’s often coupled with the idea of cyber insurance, the necessary coverage between what a company can do security-wise, and the threats it faces day in and day out. Cybersecurity used to belong exclusively in the realm of Information Technology, one of many business silos that while important, was only a small piece of the business and as such, often delegated to a C-level manager who interfaced with other executives as necessary. Today’s businesses have outgrown this model, as what used to be considered information technology has grown to encompass business itself, permeating every aspect of it, governing its speed, its range, its possibilities. As a CEO or CFO, the way your business handles information technology and begins to foster cyber resilience, reflects the way you think about your company and its place in the contemporary market.
It’s 2016 and you have a cell phone. You also probably pay your cell phone bill online or through an app. Telecom companies handle the world’s communication and part of what that entails is securing that communication to guarantee privacy and integrity to their customers. Here at UpGuard, we scanned ten of the major telecom corporations with our external risk grader to see how their web and email security measured up. These are big money companies with many moving parts, but we’re focusing on the primary web presence a person would consider, for example www.att.com. Turns out there’s some good news and some bad news... depending on which carrier you use.
Yesterday you might have read about Facebook founder and user Mark Zuckerberg’s social media accounts getting “hacked.” Hacked is maybe not the right word here, since many people believe Zuck’s password was among the 117 million leaked LinkedIn passwords recently posted online. If this is true, it means that Zuckerberg used the same password for multiple websites, allowing the damage done by the LinkedIn hack to spread into other areas. If you have or want a job, chances are you also have a LinkedIn account, and if you had one back in 2012, it was probably one of the compromised accounts from that incident. Do you still use that password anywhere? Our 9 step password security checklist will help you secure your accounts, whether you’re a billionaire CEO or just someone who likes to post funny cat videos.
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) creates regulations for businesses involved in critical power infrastructure under the guidance and approval of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). A few of these, the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards, protect the most important links in the chain and are enforced under penalty of heavy fines for non-compliance. Many of the CIP standards cover cybersecurity, as much of the nation’s infrastructure is now digital. To prove compliance with CIP standards, companies must have a system of record that can be shown to auditors to prove they have enacted the required security measures to protect their cyber assets.
The NERC CIP v5 standards will be enforced beginning in July of this year, but version 6 is already on the horizon. Previously, we examined the differences between v3 and v5, and we saw how the CIPs related to cybersecurity were evolving. This pattern continues in v6, with changes coming to some of the cyber CIPs and the addition of standards regarding “transient cyber assets and removable media,” but the major changes in v6 have to do with scope-- which facilities are required to comply, and at what level they must comply: low, medium or high impact. We’ll examine some of the differences coming up in CIPv6 and what they will mean for the industry.
While it’s not certain that society would become a zombie apocalypse overnight if the power grids failed, it is hard to imagine how any aspect of everyday life would continue in the event of a vast, extended electrical outage. Part of what makes electrical infrastructure resilient against these types of events are the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) regulatory standards, especially the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards, which provide detailed guidelines for both physical and cyber security. The CIP standards evolve along with the available technology and known threats, so they are versioned to provide structured documentation and protocols for companies to move from one iteration of the standards to the next. But the jump from version 3 to version 5 involves many new requirements, so we'll look at some of the differences between the two and what they mean for businesses in the industry.
Salesforce.com's recent day-long outage—what many tech journalists have been referring to as "Outage #NA14"—may actually end up costing the firm $20 million, according financial services firm D.A. Davidson's estimates. The untimely incident occurred just as the company was gearing up to report its Q1 earnings; luckily, $20 million is a drop in the bucket compared to $1.92 billion, Salesforce.com's best first quarter yet. This may be enough to pacify Wall Street analysts, but can the world's largest business SaaS provider sustain another outage of similar proportions or greater?
Whether you’re running Microsoft’s SQL Server (soon to run on Linux) or the open source MySQL, you need to lockdown your databases to keep your data private and secure. These 11 steps will guide you through some of the basic principles of database security and how to implement them. Combined with a hardened web server configuration, a secure database server will keep an application from becoming an entry point into your network and keep your data from ending up dumped on the internet. When provisioning a new SQL server, remember to factor security in from the get-go; it should be a part of your regular process, not something applied retroactively, as some key security measures require fundamental configuration changes for insecurely installed database servers and applications.
Arguably--in that people literally argue about it--there are two types of web servers: traditional servers like Apache and IIS, often backhandedly described as “full-featured,” and “lightweight” servers like Lighttp and nginx, stripped down for optimum memory footprint and performance. Lightweight web servers tend to integrate better into the modern, containerized environments designed for scale and automation. Of these, nginx is a frontrunner, serving major websites like Netflix, Hulu and Pintrest. But just because nginx slams Apache in performance doesn’t mean it’s immune from the same security problems the old heavyweight endures. By following our 15 step checklist, you can take advantage of nginx’s speed and extensibility while still serving websites secured against the most common attacks.
You’ve hardened your servers, locked down your website and are ready to take on the internet. But all your hard work was in vain, because someone fell for a phishing email and wired money to a scammer, while another user inadvertently downloaded and installed malware from an email link that opened a backdoor into the network. Email is as important as the website when it comes to security. As a channel for social engineering, malware delivery and resource exploitation, a combination of best practices and user education should be enacted to reduce the risk of an email-related compromise. By following this 13 step checklist, you can make your email configuration resilient to the most common attacks and make sure it stays that way.
Putting a website on the internet means exposing that website to hacking attempts, port scans, traffic sniffers and data miners. If you’re lucky, you might get some legitimate traffic as well, but not if someone takes down or defaces your site first. Most of us know to look for the lock icon when we're browsing to make sure a site is secure, but that only scratches the surface of what can be done to protect a web server. Even SSL itself can be done many ways, and some are much better than others. Cookies store sensitive information from websites; securing these can prevent impersonation. Additionally, setting a handful of configuration options can protect both your full website presence against both manual and automated cyber attacks, keeping your customer’s data safe from compromise. Here are 13 steps to harden your website and greatly increase the resiliency of your web server.
That’s a nice new Linux server you got there… it would be a shame if something were to happen to it. It might run okay out of the box, but before you put it in production, there are 10 steps you need to take to make sure it’s configured securely. The details of these steps may vary from distribution to distribution, but conceptually they apply to any flavor of Linux. By checking these steps off on new servers, you can ensure that they have at least basic protection against the most common attacks.
There's no arguing that internet retailers have it tough these days: web server vulnerabilities, expiring SSL certificates, PCI DSS compliance, and a host of other issues keep the most vigilant of etailers on their toes—all this, mind you, against a harsh backdrop of increasing cyber threats. Even still, a handful manage to slip up when it comes to the most basic security measures, putting both their infrastructures and the data security of customers at risk. The following is a list of 11 online retailers who should know better.
Your medical records live in a database or file system on servers somewhere, on someone’s network, with someone’s security protecting them. A recent PBS article about cyber security in the healthcare industry reports that over 113 million medical records were compromised in 2015. Medical records, perhaps even more than financial data, are the epitome of sensitive, private data, yet the healthcare industry has reported breach after breach, with over a dozen separate breaches already logged in March of this year.
When it comes to Flash, the only thing you hear more about than its ubiquity are its problems. Despite denunciations from some of technology’s biggest names, Adobe’s Flash player still seems to be everywhere. For almost ten years now, people have been dealing with the security warnings, critical updates and browser incompatibilities for which Flash is infamous. Yet even now, 0-day exploits of Flash’s seemingly unending vulnerabilities threaten users as third-party Flash ads on otherwise trusted websites are used to breach security.
In the last few years, sports betting websites like DraftKings and FanDuel have exploded in popularity and controversy. Anyone who watched last year’s NFL season shouldn’t be surprised that those two sites alone spent over $200M on national television advertising in 2015, amounting to around 60,000 commercials. At the same time, betting sites have been in the news due to their questionable legality and the lawsuits being brought against them from various parties. With March Madness in full effect, people are turning to online gambling sites to place their bets. Aside from the increasing legal resistance these companies face, should users be concerned about the security of sharing their information with these sites? As it turns out, it depends on the site.
Cyber attackers are, above all else, opportunists—malware and viruses require time and resources to develop and are therefore created with the greatest returns in mind. In terms of operating systems, Windows typically gets a bad rap for security—the price of popularity, as it were. But as other OS platforms have whittled down Windows' market share in recent years, cyber attackers have had an increasingly broad playing field for exploitation.
If you're one of its 140 million cardholders around the globe, American Express wants you to know that your data is safe. The data breach recently announced by the U.S.' second largest credit card network reportedly involved a partner merchant and not Amex itself. However, if you're one of the customers whose credit card and personal information was stolen, the difference is negligible.
First circulated in 2009, the CIS Critical Controls are used by both the U.S. and U.K. governments as the preeminent framework for securing critical infrastructures. Consisting of 20 security controls that cover areas from malware defense to incident response and management, the CIS Critical Controls offers a prioritized set of security measures for assessing and improving a firm's security posture. Though not a cybersecurity panacea, the controls help to address the vast majority of security issues faced by organizations today.
Amazon.com suffered a glitch today leaving its website inaccessible for approximately 13 minutes. Seem like a paltry number? Only if these lost minutes aren't translated to sales revenue losses. And while outages with the company's AWS cloud computing offering are not uncommon, Amazon's online retail division—as well as all retailers that transact online—have much at stake literally every minute their websites stay up—or go down.
Chances are you’ve browsed to an online IT community looking for information about a technology. But taking full advantage of them means understanding how they work and what they can do for you. Interaction with a tech community usually happens for one of three reasons:
Fortune recently published an article listing the airlines with the best in-flight wifi service. Coming in at the top of the list with the most onboard wifi connections globally were 3 American carriers: Delta, United, and American Airlines, respectively. But what defines best? Security is clearly not part of the equation, as one journalist famously discovered last week on a domestic American Airlines flight. But then again, if we're talking about wifi and commercial aircraft, all airlines get a failing grade.
The answer is simple: because it's highly profitable. Credit card numbers are still the best we've got for transacting digitally and health records are 10 times more valuable on the black market. And despite efforts from the infosec community at large, cybercrime continues to increase in frequency and severity. The more important and difficult question is not why, but how—that is, how can companies not just survive, but thrive in a landscape of digital threats?
With the rate of data breaches increasing along with the complexity of modern IT infrastructures, the cyber insurance industry has been experiencing significant growing pains. Cyber risk determination had historically been done with employee surveys or contextual information about industries at larger. Without reliable data on an organization’s actual working state, many insurers came to realize there was no way to formulate a fair and accurate cyber insurance policy, especially for more complex and ever-changing IT environments.
From day one at UpGuard, we have been all about visibility. Before you can automate, validate desired or detect unwanted changes, you must first know what your infrastructure looks like; you must have a starting spot. We take the same approach to assessing cyber risk.
For as much as "cyber risk" sounds like a 1990's board game involving robots, cyber risk is actually serious business—in fact, it is continually becoming more important as organizations old and new find themselves relying on a variety of connected technologies and services. And as we enter 2016, the risk of data breaches in particular threatens to hamper business innovation. So what is cyber risk, and what can be done about it?
In what is being described as a landmark case, Nevada-based casino operator Affinity Gaming is suing cybersecurity firm Trustwave for inadequately investigating and containing a 2014 data breach. The lawsuit not only marks the first time a security firm is sued over post-breach remediation efforts—it also highlights the complexities around managing cyber risk for high risk organizations in today's threat landscape.
Cyber resilience is a fundamental change in understanding and accepting the true relationship between technology and risk. IT risk (or cyber risk, if you prefer) is actually business risk, and always has been. And the cybersecurity industry, for what it's worth, has generally avoided this concept because it goes against the narrative that their respective offerings—whether it's a firewall, IDS, monitoring tool, or otherwise—would be the one-size-fits-all silver bullet that can keep businesses safe. But reality tells a different story.