Tag Archive for: Cybersecurity

Zero Trust: Shift Back to Need to Know

Cyberattacks on government agencies are unrelenting. Attacks on government, military, and contractors rose by more than 47% in 2021 and can continue to climb. Today’s cybercriminals, threat actors, and state-sponsored hackers have become more sophisticated and continue to target government data and resources.

The recent Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity directs federal agencies to take decisive action and work with the private sector to improve cybersecurity. The EO puts it bluntly:

“The United States faces persistent and increasingly sophisticated malicious cyber campaigns that threaten the public sector, the private sector, and ultimately the American people’s security and privacy. The Federal Government must improve its efforts to identify, deter, protect against, detect, and respond to these actions and actors.”

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also issued a memorandum for agencies to improve investigative and remediation capabilities, including:

  • Centralizing access and visibility
  • More defined logging, log retention, and log management
  • Increased information sharing
  • Accelerate incident response efforts
  • More effective defense of information

In light of continued cyber-attacks, the EO requires bold and significant investments to protect and secure systems and data. This represents a cultural shift from a somewhat relaxed security environment created over time as legacy systems continued to grow and migrate legacy systems to cloud resources.

Security concerns only grew with the rapid shift to remote work. Agencies had to scramble to redefine infrastructure to accommodate remote workers, which significantly increased the attack surface.

For governmental agencies, hardening security requires a return to “need to know” using zero trust security protocols.

Zero Trust Security: What Is It?

Zero trust is a security framework that requires authentication and authorization for all users on the network. Traditionally, networks have focused on security at the edge, managing access points. However, once someone penetrated the security framework, threat actors were able to access additional network resources. As a result, many attackers were able to escalate privileges and escalate the damage they caused.

Zero trust requires users to be re-authorized at every connection to prevent unauthorized and lateral movement for users on the network. This prevents access to resources except for those with a need to know and need to access.

Current Cloud Security Measures Can Fall Short

The rising adoption of cloud services has changed the makeup of most agency infrastructures. Currently, lax cloud security measures can expose organizations to risk and harm and incremental improvements are not keeping pace.

Factors that leave openings for threat actors include:

  • Gaps in information technology (IT) expertise and challenges in hiring
  • Problems with cloud migration
  • Unsecured application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • Vulnerabilities in third-party providers
  • The complexity of security in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments

Zero trust is an important weapon in the battle against cyber threats, yet there has not been universal adoption. The recent Cost of a Data Breach report from the Ponemon Institute reports that only 35% of organizations employ a zero-trust framework as part of the cybersecurity protocols. This leaves agencies and businesses open for attacks.

Besides protecting networks and data, there’s also a significant financial benefit for deploying zero trust. While breaches can still occur even when zero trust is in place, the average cost to mitigate breaches for organizations with a secure zero trust framework was $1.76 million less than those without zero trust deployment.

Zero Trust and the Return to Need to Know

Intelligence agencies have employed the practice of “need to know” for years. Sensitive and confidential data is restricted to only those that have a specific need for access. In cybersecurity, zero trust includes the concept of least privilege, which only allows users access to the information and resources they need to do their job.

Contrast the zero trust with the practice of edge security which is in wide use today. Edge security is like putting a security perimeter around the outside of your home or building. Once inside the perimeter, visitors are free to move from room to room. The principle of least privilege only gives them access to the rooms—and things within each room—if they have a need to know.

With zero trust in place, visitors won’t even be able to see the room unless they are authorized for access.

Building a Zero Trust Architecture

Building a zero-trust architecture requires an understanding of your infrastructure, applications, and users. By mapping your network, you can see how devices and applications connect and pathways where security is needed to prevent unauthorized access.

A zero-trust approach requires organizations to:

  • Verify and authenticate every interaction, including user identity, location, device integrity, workload, and data classification
  • Use the principle of least privilege using just-in-time and just-enough-access (JIT/JEA) with adaptive risk policies
  • Remove implicit trust when devices or applications talk to each other along with instituting robust device access control
  • Assume breach and employ micro-segmentation to prevent lateral movement on a need-to-know basis.
  • Implement proactive threat prevention, detection, and mitigation

Mitigating Insider Threats

Zero trust also helps mitigates threats from insiders by restricting access to non-authorized resources and logging activity within the network.

When we think about data breaches, we generally think about threat actors from outside our network, but there’s also a significant threat from insiders. The 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) from Verizon suggests that as many as 22% of all data breaches occur from insiders.

According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO), risks to IT systems are increasing, including insider threats from witting and unwitting employees.

Managing Complex Network Environments

As organizations have grown, network environments have become incredibly complex. You need a deep understanding of all of the appliances, applications, devices, public cloud, private cloud, multi-cloud, and on-premises resources and how they are connected.

RedSeal automatically maps your infrastructure and provides a comprehensive, dynamic visualization. With RedSeal, you can identify any exposed resources in the cloud, visualize access across your network, demonstrate network compliance and configuration standards, and prioritize vulnerability for mitigation.

For more information about implementing zero trust for your organization, download the complimentary RedSeal Guide: Tips for Implementing Zero Trust. Learn about the challenges and get insights from the security professionals at RedSeal.

Keep it Separate, Keep it Safe: How to Implement and Validate Cloud Network Segmentation

The distributed nature of cloud computing makes it a must-have for business, thanks to on-demand resource availability, network connectivity, and compute scalability.

But the cloud also introduces unique security challenges. First is a rapidly-expanding attack surface: As the number of connected third-party services powered by open-source code and APIs increases, so does the risk of compromise. According to the 2021 IBM Security X-Force Cloud Threat Landscape Report, more than 1,200 of the 2,500 known cloud vulnerabilities had been found within the proceeding 18 months. Additionally, 100 percent of penetration testing efforts by IBM X-Force teams found issues with cloud policies or passwords.

Cloud network segmentation offers a way for companies to reduce the risk of cloud threats. By dividing larger networks into smaller subnets — each of which can be managed individually — businesses can boost protection without sacrificing performance. Here’s how it works.

Why Is Cloud Network Segmentation Valuable to Network Security?

Cloud segmentation is part of larger defense-in-depth (DiD) security practices that look to lower total risk by creating multi-layered frameworks which help protect key data from compromise. DiD is built on the concept that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” security solution — since, with enough time and patience, attackers can compromise any protective process. By layering multiple security measures onto network access points or data storage locations, however, the effort required for compromise increases exponentially, in turn reducing total risk.

And by breaking larger cloud networks down into smaller subnets, the scale of necessary defense decreases, making it possible for teams to differentiate lower-risk subnets from those that need greater protection. Segmentation offers practical benefits for businesses.

Reduced Complexity

Segmenting larger cloud frameworks into smaller cloud networks allows teams to reduce the overall complexity that comes with managing cloud solutions at scale. Instead of trying to find one policy or process that works for cloud networks end-to-end — without introducing security risks to protected data or limiting users’ ease of access — teams can create purpose-built security policies for each network segment.

Increased Granular Control

Segmentation also offers more granular control over network defenses. For example, teams could choose to deploy next-generation firewall tools, such as those capable of discovering and analyzing specific user behaviors, or implement runtime application self-protection (RASP) functions on a case-by-case basis.

Improved Responsiveness

Smaller subnets additionally make it possible for IT professionals to identify and respond to security issues quickly. Here’s why: Given the geographically disparate nature of cloud services — one provider might house their servers locally, while another might be states or countries away — tracking down the root cause of detected issues becomes like finding a digital needle in a virtual haystack. While it’s possible using advanced detection tools and techniques, it could take days or weeks. Segmentation, meanwhile, allows teams to identify and respond to issues on a segment-by-segment basis quickly.

Enhanced Operations

Network segmentation also helps companies enhance operations by aligning with cloud security best practices such as zero trust. Under a zero trust model, user identity is never assumed; instead, it must be proven and verified through authentication. Segmentation makes it possible to apply zero trust where necessary — such as gaining access to network segments that store personally identifiable information (PII) or intellectual property (IP) — in turn helping streamline cloud access without introducing security risk.

How to Implement Network Segmentation

Network segmentation isn’t a new concept — companies have been leveraging physical segmentation of networks for years to reduce the impacts of a potential breach. As the name implies, this type of segmentation uses physical controls such as firewalls to create separate subnets and control traffic flows.

Cloud segmentation, meanwhile, comes with a bigger challenge: Creating network segments across digital environments that may be separated by substantial physical distance. As a result, cloud segmentation was often deemed too complex to work since the sheer amount of unique cloud services, solutions, and environments combined with the dynamic nature of cloud resources meant it was impossible to effectively portion out and protect these subnets.

With the right strategy, however, it’s possible for businesses to both segment and secure their cloud networks. Here, logical rather than physical segmentation is vital. Using either virtual local area networks (VLANs) or more in-depth network addressing schemes, IT teams can create logical subnetworks across cloud services that behave as if they’re physically separate, in turn increasing overall defense.

Worth noting? Validation of these virtual networks is critical to ensure protective measures are working as intended. In practice, this means deploying tools and technologies that make it possible to visualize access across all network environments — local or otherwise — to understand network topology and explore traffic paths. Validation also requires the identification and remediation of issues as they arise. Consider a subnet that includes multiple cloud services. If even one of these services contains vulnerabilities to threats such as Log4j, the entire subnetwork could be at risk. Regular vulnerability scanning paired with active threat identification and remediation is critical to ensure segmentation delivers effective security.

Closing the Cloud Security Gap with RedSeal

Cloud solutions offer the benefit of any time, anywhere access coupled with scalable, on-demand resources. But clouds also introduce unique security challenges around user access, data protection, and security threat monitoring.

As a result, protecting data in the cloud requires a defense-in-depth strategy that creates layers of protection rather than relying on a single service or technology to defend against evolving threats. Cloud network segmentation is one key component in this DiD strategy — by logically segmenting cloud services into smaller and more manageable networks, companies can reduce complexity, increase control and improve responsiveness.

But segmentation alone isn’t enough; enterprises also need the ability to visualize multiple micro-networks at scale, identify potential issues and quickly remediate concerns.

Ready to get started? Discover how RedSeal can help visualize, verify and validate your cloud network segmentation. Watch a Demo.

Do You Need a More Intelligent and Secure Network?

By the third quarter of 2021, the number of recorded network breaches already exceeded the total breach volume of 2020 by 17 percent. What’s more, the total cost of breaches continued to rise. Data from IBM and the Ponemon Institute found that the average cost of a data breach topped $4.24 million in 2021, the highest this value has been in nearly two decades.

What does this mean? Businesses need better ways to react and respond to network security vulnerabilities. While this starts with basic security measures to mitigate the impact of issues as they occur, it also requires the creation of more intelligent networks capable of proactively detecting, identifying, and responding to threats.

Why Security Should Be a Top Priority for Every Organization

Effective security tools are now table stakes for organizations to ensure they meet evolving legislative standards around due diligence and data control. But these straightforward security measures aren’t enough to address the evolving nature of information technology (IT) environments — from rapid cloud adoption to mobile-first environments to the update of edge computing. The sheer volume and variety of corporate IT environments create organizations’ ever-changing challenges.

Increasing complexity also plays a role in security. Driven by the rapid shift to remote work and underpinned by the unstable nature of return-to-work plans, security teams now face the challenge of distributed and decentralized security environments which naturally frustrate efforts to create consistent security policies.

Consider some of the biggest data breaches of recent years:

  • Android: 100 million records exposed. In May 2021, the records of more than 100 million Android users were exposed as a result of cloud misconfigurations. Personal information, including names, email addresses, dates of birth, location data, payment information, and passwords, were available to anyone who knew where to look.
  • Facebook, 553 million records exposed. Facebook records of more than 553 million users from 106 countries were leaked online. Leaked data included phone numbers and email addresses, which according to security researcher Alon Gal, “would certainly lead to bad actors taking advantage of the data to perform social-engineering attacks [or] hacking attempts.”
  • LinkedIn, 700 million records exposed. Over 90 percent of LinkedIn members had their data compromised when it appeared for sale online. Information up for grabs included full names, phone numbers, physical addresses, email addresses, and details of linked social media accounts and user names.

Enterprises aren’t the only target for cybercriminals. As noted by Forbes, 43 percent of all cyberattack victims are small and midsize businesses (SMBs). While breaching a large enterprise can be a multimillion-dollar jackpot, SMBs are often easier targets that offer quick gains.

As a result, robust security must be a priority for every organization, regardless of size or industry.

Why Intelligence Matters for Effective Network Defense

While security is a solid starting point, it’s not enough in isolation. To handle evolving threats, companies need intelligent frameworks capable of identifying critical assets, pinpointing key vulnerabilities, and prioritizing security response. This intelligence-led approach is essential to defend IT environments now underpinned by interconnected devices, multiple cloud frameworks, and expanding edge services.

Consider that 92 percent of companies now leverage a multi-cloud approach to maximize efficiency and drive return on investment (ROI). Using multiple clouds offers a way for companies to pinpoint — and pay for — the specific solutions and services they need to achieve business aims. However, ensuring security across multiple cloud touch points rapidly becomes complex, especially as these clouds share and modify data in real-time.

What’s the best-case scenario during an attack? Compromise in one cloud hampers the efficacy of others but poses no substantive risk. And the worst case? Attacks on primary cloud services lead to successive service failures and significant downtime.

To address the challenges of expanding IT environments, companies must take an intelligence-led security approach. In practice, this means deploying tools capable of autonomous action to help detect and report IT threats, combined with robust data collection and analysis to help pinpoint root causes, rather than simply solving for symptoms.

How to Increase Your Network Intelligence and Security

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to increasing network intelligence and security, four functional approaches can help reduce total risk and boost your protective potential.

  1. Comprehensive Cloud Asset Identification: As cloud environments become more complex, the risk of asset blind spots that allow malicious actors to infiltrate networks without detection increases. Robust asset identification across all cloud services — from private clouds to public services such as AWS, Azure, and Google — is critical to limit overall risk.
  2. Complete Network Visualization and Access Management: Sight drives better security. If you can see what’s on your network and how it all connects, you can better identify where potential threats may occur. As a result, companies must deploy tools that offer complete visibility across all network environments and provide robust access control to ensure the right people have access to the right resources.
  3. Consistent Network Compliance: Today’s organizations must follow standards such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and cybersecurity maturity model certification, along with legislation including the General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Adhering to these standards and mandates is essential to demonstrate due diligence and protect your organization against penalties or legal action if security breaches do occur.
  4. Critical Vulnerability Prioritization: The scope and scale of new attack vectors make security triage a priority. End-to-end assessment of potential network risks based on exposure and access can help your teams prioritize vulnerabilities and design effective response frameworks.

Closing the Security Gap

No matter your business size, specialization, or industry, you need a more secure and intelligent network. Informed by increasingly complex IT environments and driven by evolving attack vectors, malicious actors are finding — and exploiting — new ways to compromise critical functions. Intelligent response is now critical to increase user confidence, and you must capture key data and protect your network.

RedSeal can help you close the security gap with an adaptable and intelligent approach to network security. From cloud security frameworks to robust network compliance solutions, access and visibility tools, and critical vulnerability prioritization, we have the technology tools and expertise to help your team build a reliable and responsive security framework.

Increase intelligence, navigate network security challenges and reduce real-life risks with RedSeal. Let’s get started.

On the Internet We’re All in a War Zone: Why it’s Time to Prepare for the Worst

Sadly, once again we find ourselves watching war as it unfolds. More than any previous conflict, this one is being fought in cyberspace as well as on land and in the air. Many commentators raised their eyebrows when NATO officially added cyber to Article 5 of its founding treaty back in 2016. That now seems like a prescient move. But while the fighting, both online and off, has been largely confined to Ukrainian targets thus far, that’s unlikely to last for long.

The truth is that, by accident or design, we’re all in a war zone online, because online conflict does not respect country boundaries or even physical distance. Western targets must prepare accordingly, by understanding their attack surface in granular detail, and probing for weaknesses that could be exploited by adversaries in the days, weeks and months to come. Resilience is the name of the game here, and that will only come about by plugging the highest risk gaps now across cloud and on-premises infrastructure.

Upping the Stakes

We’ve already heard of multiple offensive cyber-campaigns traced back to the Kremlin. They began even before the invasion, when scores of Ukrainian government websites were defaced and wiper malware known as WhisperGate was discovered targeting multiple organizations in the region. More destructive malware variants, HermeticWiper and IsaacWiper were launched in the early days of the campaign, reportedly rendering hundreds of machines unusable. 

By targeting the Master Boot Record (MBR) and strategically important folders of the Windows OS, the malware is eerily reminiscent of NotPetya, another wiper variant disguised as ransomware and aimed at Ukrainian targets in 2017. NotPetya is important because it tells us something very important about destructive cyber-attacks: they can very easily “spill over” and impact organizations that weren’t originally intended as targets. It also happened with Stuxnet—a weapon that was designed with high precision to target Iranian uranium enrichment facilities, but still spilled over and infected other machines.

In short, war is never as clean and precise as Hollywood movies make it seem. In the case of NotPetya, multinationals in Ukraine found their networks impacted, and the worm-like threat eventually travelled down corporate VPNs to spread globally, causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage. One victim, US pharma giant Merck, was only recently awarded a $1.4B payout from its insurer to cover costs incurred during the attack.

That said, Western firms may also need to contend with genuine Russian state-backed cyber-attacks if tensions ratchet up further and economic sanctions begin to hit the Putin regime hard. Just what they’re capable of should be clear following the SolarWinds attacks which compromised nine US government agencies. Russia also has an ace in the hole: an ‘army’ of organized cybercrime groups prepared to turn their nefarious talents to hitting critical infrastructure and other strategically important Western sectors. With big budgets to spend on attack tools and exploits, plenty of know-how, and a sophisticated cybercrime supply chain in place, they could do significant damage.

Building Resilience

If geopolitical tensions remain high for an extended period of time, the chances increase significantly of innocent organizations being drawn into the online conflict. The lesson for defenders is to fix defensive gaps now, before they’re exposed—intentionally or otherwise. Just as First World War gas attacks spread indiscriminately, harming anyone without a well-fitted and sealed gas mask on, cyber-weapons will go anywhere, through whatever gaps are left open.

Finding these vulnerabilities and misconfigurations first requires a detailed understanding of the entire corporate network, which for most organizations will extend from on-premises servers and data centers across multiple public cloud environments. That means knowing and mapping every single network device, application, service and data pathway. From this position of enhanced visibility, it’s then possible to enforce security policy to minimize exposure, and continuously check for and correct any policy compliance drift. The “continuous” qualifier is particularly important given the dynamic and ephemeral nature of cloud assets.

Ultimately, war, in whatever theater it’s fought, is about resilience. So if it wasn’t already before, take some inspiration from the brave men and women protecting their Ukrainian homeland, and make cyber-resilience a priority for your organization today. 

How Security Vulnerabilities Expose Thousands of Cloud Users to Attacks

Cloud computing has revolutionized data storage and access. It’s led the charge for digital transformation and allowed the increased adoption of remote work. At the same time, however, cloud computing has also increased security risks.

As networks have grown and cloud resources have become more entrenched in workflow, cloud computing has created larger potential attack surfaces. To safeguard their mission-critical data and operations, organizations need to know chief cloud cyber risks and have to combat them.

Why Cloud Users Are at Risk

Cloud platforms are multi-tenant environments. They share infrastructure and resources across thousands of customers. While a cloud provider acts to safeguard its infrastructure, that doesn’t address every cloud user’s security needs.

Cybersecurity in the cloud requires a more robust solution to prevent exposure. Instead of assuming that service providers will protect their data, customers must carefully define security controls for workloads and resources. Even if you’re working with the largest cloud service providers, new security vulnerabilities emerge every day.

For example, Microsoft says it invests about $1 billion in cybersecurity annually, but vulnerabilities still surface. Case in point: The technology giant warned thousand of cloud customers that threat actors might be able to read, change, or delete their main databases. Intruders could uncover database access keys and use them to grab administrative privileges. While fixing the problem, Microsoft also admitted it could not change the database access keys, and the fix required customers to create new ones. The burden was on customers to take action, and those that didn’t were vulnerable to cyberattacks.

What Type of Vulnerabilities Affect Cloud Customers?

Despite the security protections cloud providers employ, cloud customers must use best practices to manage their cyberattack protection.

Without a solid security plan, multiple vulnerabilities can exist, including:

1. Misconfigurations

Misconfigurations continue to be one of the biggest threats for cloud users. A few examples:

  • A breach at Prestige Software due to a misconfiguration using Amazon S3 services caused widespread data compromise. This single event exposed a decade’s worth of customer data from popular travel sites, such as Expedia, Hotels.com, and Booking.com.
  • A misconfigured firewall at Capital One put the personal data of 100 million customers at risk.

2. Access Control

Poor access control allows intruders to bypass weak authentication methods. Once inside the network, many organizations do not adequately restrict lateral movement or access to resources. For example, security vulnerabilities in Amazon Web Services (AWS) put up to 90% of S3 buckets at risk for identity compromise and ransomware. The problem? Businesses failed to remove permissions that allowed users to escalate privileges to admin status.

3. Insecure APIs

APIs require access to business data but can also provide vectors for threat actors. Organizations may have hundreds or even thousands of public APIs tied to microservices, leading to a large attack surface. Insecure APIs are cited as the cause of the infamous Equifax breach, which exposed nearly 150 million consumers’ records, along with security lapses at Geico, Facebook, Peloton, and Experian.

4. Lack of Shared Responsibility

Cloud providers manage the security of the cloud, but customers are responsible for handling the security of the data stored in the cloud. Yet, many users fail to keep up their end of this shared responsibility. According to Gartner, 99% of cloud security failures are due to customer errors.

5. Vendors or Third-Party Software

Third-party cloud components mean your networks are only as secure as your vendor’s security protocols. If they are compromised, it may provide a pathway for attackers into your network.

More than half of businesses have seen a data breach caused by a third party. That’s what happened to Audi, Volkswagen, and dozens of others. The infamous REvil ransomware group exploited a vulnerability in Kaseya, a remote monitoring platform, and used it to attack managed service providers (MSPs) to gain access to thousands of customers.

How Can Cloud Users Protect Themselves?

With the acceleration of remote workers and hybrid cloud and multicloud environments, attack surfaces have increased greatly over the past few years. At the same time, hackers have become more sophisticated in their methods.

Since most security tools only work in one environment, it can create a complex web that becomes difficult to manage.

Figuring out how to prevent cyberattacks requires a multi-pronged approach, but it starts with understanding how all of your security tools work together across on-prem, public clouds, and private clouds. You need strategies to monitor all of your networks, including ways to:

  • Interpret access controls across both cloud-native and third-party firewalls (service chaining)
  • Continuously validate and ensure security compliance
  • Manage network segmentation policies and regulations

Security teams must be able to answer these concerns:

  • What resources do we have across our cloud and on-premises environments?
  • What access is possible?
  • Are resources exposed to the public internet?
  • Do our cloud deployments meet best practices for cybersecurity?
  • Do we validate cloud network segmentation policies?

Without a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that evaluates and identifies potential risks, it will be challenging to mitigate vulnerabilities and identify the downstream impacts from security lapses. Even if you believe you have every security measure you need in place across all of your cloud resources, you need a way to visualize resources, identify potential risks, and prioritize threat mitigation.

A Comprehensive Cloud Security Posture Management Solution

Solving a problem starts with identifying it. You need a way to visualize potential vulnerabilities across your networks and cloud resources.

A Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) solution will identify vulnerabilities, such as misconfigurations, unprotected APIs, inadequate access controls, and flag changes to security policies. This helps you better understand exposure risks, create more robust cloud segmentation policies, and evaluate all of your cloud vulnerabilities.

Many CSPM solutions, however, only present their finding in static, tabular forms. It can be challenging to understand relationships and gain full awareness of the interconnectivity between cloud resources. Beyond just monitoring traffic, security teams also need to see how instances get to the cloud, what security points it goes through, and which ports and protocols apply.

RedSeal Classic identifies what’s on your network environments and how it’s all connected. This helps you validate security policies and prioritize potential vulnerabilities. RedSeal Classic can evaluate AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and Oracle Cloud environments along with Layers 2, 3, 4, and 7 in your physical networks for application-based policies and endpoint information from multiple sources.

RedSeal Stratus allows users to visualize their AWS cloud and Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) inventory. We’re currently offering an Early Adopters program for RedSeals Stratus, our SaaS-based CSPM, including concierge onboarding service, so you can see the benefits first-hand.

To learn more about how RedSeal can help you see how your environment is connected and what’s at risk, request a demo today.

Doing More with Less: Consolidating Your Security Toolkit

Cyber threats are fast-evolving, and organizations must stay vigilant at all times to protect their business-critical information from prying eyes. One oversight or outdated control could expose your network to different types of cyberattacks, leading to costly breaches.

Information security has become even more challenging in the past year as organizations had to shift their IT budget to tackle the sudden changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the dust settles, many security teams are left with a smaller cybersecurity budget. The constraints are affecting staffing decisions and technology adoption. Today, many IT departments are stretched thin, making it even harder to be proactive about their security measures. However, organizations can consolidate their security toolkits and conserve funds while weathering the storm.

The Problem: Tight Budgets, Reduced Staffing, Increased Threats

To cope with new business demands, many organizations had to restructure their IT budgets, leaving less funding and fewer team members. Meanwhile, the number of cyberattacks has increased significantly since the pandemic. Many organizations had to respond quickly to support remote working, leaving security gaps and vulnerabilities in their networks. Additionally, the proliferation of devices used by remote workers increases the attack surface dramatically while making it even harder for security teams to gain a holistic view of their environments.

Furthermore, the fast pace of digital transformation has accelerated cloud adoption. Yet, cloud security is complex and distributed. There’s an exponential growth in misconfigurations of cloud security settings, which leave sensitive data and resources unintentionally exposed to the public internet.

To plug security holes quickly, companies cobbled together multiple point solutions. While this approach may seem reasonable in a pinch, security teams soon realized they have to piece together data from various sources to analyze threats and parse through duplicate alerts to get to the bottom of an issue. Using multiple security tools is time-consuming and labor-intensive and drastically increases response time.

This heavy reliance on digital assets and processes, along with the complexity of cybersecurity and the distributed nature of cloud computing, has created the perfect storm where threat actors can exploit various vulnerabilities to attack organizations and steal their data.

How Organizations Can Weather the Cybersecurity Storm

Companies are under constant pressure to do more with less when it comes to cybersecurity. But piling on more point solutions will only add inefficiency to already overwhelmed IT resources.

To improve performance on a tight budget, you must direct resources to focus on the interaction between technologies, systems, and processes. You can achieve this most effectively by consolidating your existing security tools into a single pane of glass solution, which gives you a holistic view of your environment.

The Benefits of Consolidating Your Security Toolkit

From saving money to improving your security, here are the advantages of consolidating your cybersecurity tools:

  • Reduce vulnerability. Each security system that connects to your network is a potential vulnerability. Using different tools can actually increase your attack surface and make your IT infrastructure less secure.
  • Lower total cost of ownership. The cost of point solutions can add up quickly. By using fewer tools, you can spend less on these products while saving on training, management, and maintenance.
  • Increase IT productivity. Point solutions often have overlapping functionalities and generate duplicate alerts. IT teams have to spend extra time sorting through all the information before taking action.
  • Reduce resource needs. A consolidated toolkit requires fewer resources to operate and monitor. The streamlined workflows also help free up IT resources to respond to critical issues.
  • Shorten response time. A single pane of glass view helps minimize duplicate or missed alerts, allowing security teams to identify issues and respond more quickly.
  • Improve cost-efficiency. Consolidation and automation simplify IT management so you can perform system backup, maintenance, monitoring, and other essential functions more efficiently.
  • Eliminate silos. Tool sprawl can create silos between teams. A consolidated toolkit helps you improve visibility, enhance collaboration, and gain a holistic understanding of your entire IT infrastructure.

How to Consolidate Your Security Toolkit

Start by designing a strategy, conducting a risk assessment, and performing a gap analysis to identify what you need in a consolidated security solution. Apply security frameworks (e.g., NIST-800 and ISO 27001) and refer to compliance standards (e.g., HIPAA, PCI-DSS, DFARS) to determine your cybersecurity requirements.

Then, take stock of all the features you’re using in the current point solutions. Your consolidated toolkit should cover these functionalities without compromising the ability to safeguard your networks, systems, applications, data, and devices.

Use a solution provider that understands your strategy and can help you design a solution that integrates with your existing infrastructure to reduce friction during implementation and migration. Your partner should also help you address the human change elements during the adoption process by providing training guides and ongoing support.

Strengthen Your Cybersecurity Posture Through Consolidation

There are many benefits to consolidating your security toolkit, including better security, improved IT productivity, and higher cost-efficiency. But not all security solutions are created equal.

To cover all your bases, choose a consolidated solution that addresses these critical aspects:

  • Cloud security. Your toolkit should allow you to visualize all your environments, including public cloud, private cloud, and on-premise servers, all in one place.
  • Incident response. Your solution should help you detect network incidents, facilitate investigations, and offer containment options to minimize loss.
  • Compliance monitoring and reporting. Your security tool should automate monitoring and document any changes you implement to help streamline security audits and compliance reporting.
  • Remote workforce support. Your vendor should ensure that your networks and cloud platforms have the appropriate security configurations to ensure secure remote access.
  • Vulnerability management. Your tool should visualize all network assets, so you can understand the context and focus resources on mitigating risks that are of the highest priority.

RedSeal offers comprehensive cybersecurity solutions in today’s business environment where cyber complexity and threats are rapidly escalating. Global 2000 corporations and government agencies trust us to help them secure their networks and assets.

Watch our demo to see how we can help you get all your cybersecurity needs covered.

Future-Proofing Your Security Infrastructure

Cybersecurity is getting more complicated every day. Why is this happening? Organizations are seeing their infrastructure becoming more complex, attack surfaces growing dramatically, and threats from cybercriminals evolving. What’s more, the reliance on public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud environments — coupled with more remote workers — has expanded the security perimeter for many organizations.

Even before COVID burst onto the scene, cybercrime was on the rise. Instead of a lone hacker sitting in a dark basement, contemporary cyber threat actors are part of organized crime rings.

All these trends underscore the importance of future-proofing your security infrastructure to combat major security threats and protect your mission-critical data.

Cyberattacks Are on the Rise: Data Tells the Tale

From Solar Winds to the Colonial Pipeline attack, cybercriminals have been making headlines in recent years. In addition, statistics reveal that cyberattacks are an ever-growing problem:

Attacks are more prevalent, and they are getting more expensive. The average cost of a data breach now exceeds $4.2 million per incident and can cause recurring problems for years. On average, more than $2.9 million is lost to cybercrime every minute.

Despite increased spending on cybersecurity and best efforts by chief information security officers (CISOs) and information technology (IT) teams, nearly 80% of senior IT leaders believe their organizations lack sufficient protection against cyber-attacks. With the rising threat, every organization needs a strategy to future-proof its infrastructure.

What is Future-Proofing?

Future-proofing your cyber security creates a robust foundation that can evolve as your organization grows and new cyber threats emerge. This includes continually assessing your infrastructure for security gaps, proactively identifying threats, and remediating potential weaknesses.

Future-proof planning encompasses the totality of your security efforts. Failure to plan puts your entire organization at risk. You simply cannot afford to be left unprotected against current and future threats.

What Can (and Can’t) Be Future-Proofed within Your Technology Infrastructure?

What makes future-proofing technology challenging is that we don’t know exactly what the IT landscape will look like in the future. A few years ago, who knew we would see the explosion in the number of remote employees  — often working on unprotected home networks.

The good news is that the cloud has given us tremendous flexibility and helps us future-proof without overspending right now on capacity we may or may not need. With nearly infinite scalability, cloud applications have allowed organizations to adapt and grow as necessary. However, it’s also put more sensitive and proprietary data online than ever before and made IT infrastructure more complex.

To future-proof your infrastructure, you need an approach for visualizing, monitoring, and managing security risks across every platform and connection. This lets you expand your security perimeter as your network grows and proactively identify new exposure as you evolve.

How Can Organizations Prepare for the Future?

Security needs to be part of every company’s DNA. Before you make any business decisions, you should run through security filters to ensure the right safeguards are in place. It takes a security culture that goes beyond the IT departments to future-proof your organization.

With data in the cloud, there’s a shared security responsibility. For example, public cloud providers take responsibility for their cloud security, but they are not responsible for your apps, servers, or data security. Too many companies are still relying on cloud providers to protect assets and abdicating their part of the shared security model.

Between multi-cloud, hybrid cloud environments, and a mix of cloud and on-prem applications, it’s become increasingly difficult to track and manage security across every platform. Many security tools only work in one of these environments, so piecing together solutions is also challenging.

For example, do you know the answers to these questions:

  • What resources do we have across all our public cloud and on-premises environments?
  • Are any of these resources unintentionally exposed to the internet?
  • What access is possible within and between cloud and on-premises environments?
  • Do our cloud deployments meet security best practices?
  • How do we validate our cloud network segmentation policies?
  • Are we remediating the riskiest vulnerabilities in the cloud first?

An in-depth visualization of the topology and hierarchy of your infrastructure can uncover vulnerabilities, identify exposure, and provide targeted remediation strategies.

You also need a cloud security solution to identify every resource connected to the internet. Whether you’re using AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, or other public cloud resources along with private cloud and on-prem resources, you need a holistic view of security.

Traditional security information and event management (SEIM) systems often produce a large volume of data, making it unwieldy to identify and isolate the highest priority concerns. You need a network model across all resources to accelerate network incident response and quickly locate any compromised device on the network.

Another necessity is continuous penetration tests to measure your state of readiness and re-evaluate your security posture. This helps future-proof your security as you add resources and new threats emerge.

Create a Secure Future for Your Organization

Creating a secure future for your organization is essential. As IT infrastructure and connectivity become more complex, attack surfaces continue to grow, and cybercriminals evolve their tactics, the risks are too great for your company, customers, and career not to build a secure foundation. You need to do more than plan your response to an incident and must know how to prevent cyberattacks with proactive security measures.

Secure all your network environments — public clouds, private clouds, and on-premises — in one comprehensive, dynamic visualization. That’s Red Seal.

RedSeal — through its cloud security solution and professional services — helps government agencies and Global 2000 companies measurably reduce their cyber risk by showing them what’s in all their network environments and where resources are exposed to the internet. RedSeal verifies that networks align with security best practices, validates network segmentation policies, and continuously monitors compliance with policies and regulations.

Contact Red Seal today to take a test drive.

Mitigating Cloud Security’s Greatest Risk: Exposure

Cloud security is complex and distributed. Implementing security controls across on-premise environments traditionally sits with the information security team, but in the cloud, the responsibility could be distributed across developers, DevOps and InfoSec teams. DevOps and developers don’t primarily focus on security, and the impact is often seen as an increase in misconfigurations introducing the risk of breaches.

These security challenges in the cloud have become so prevalent that Gartner has defined cloud security posture management (CSPM) as a new category of security products designed to identify misconfiguration issues and risks in the cloud. CSPM tools today are relied on to provide visibility and compliance into the cloud infrastructure but still haven’t been able to address this issue at scale for InfoSec teams. These teams require solutions that can provide risk-based prioritized remediations in an automated way to handle the cloud scale and complexity. To determine which issues to remediate first, the InfoSec teams need to identify critical resources with unintended and accidental exposure to the internet and other untrusted parts of their cloud.

Calculating Exposure Considering All Security Controls

Whether they are on-prem or in the cloud, security professionals worry about getting breached. One recent report said 69% of organizations admit they had experienced at least one cyber-attack that started by exploiting an unknown or unmanaged internet-facing asset. Bad actors can now simply scan the perimeter of your cloud, look for exposed things and get into your network this way.

Cloud security providers (CSPs) like Amazon Web Service and Microsoft Azure have attempted to solve security by developing their own sets of controls, ranging from implementing security groups and network access control lists (NACLs) to developing their own native network firewalls.

Cloud-first companies often rely on these native tools from the CSPs, but for others who aren’t as far along on their cloud journey, making the transition from traditional on-prem to cloud workloads means pulling along their network security practitioners with them. These teams, who often aren’t cloud experts, are responding by deploying third-party firewalls and load balancers in the cloud due to their longstanding familiarity with them from the on-prem world.

Furthermore, the rise of application containerization with Kubernetes (and its corresponding flavors from AWS, Azure and Google Cloud) allows additional security controls such as pod security policies and ingress controllers.

These security controls are invaluable tools for security teams scrambling to secure their sprawling cloud environments and some under the control of development and DevOps teams. Still, they are largely unaccounted for by current CSPM tools when attempting to assess unintended exposure risk.

Current CSPM Solutions Don’t Accurately Calculate Access

Existing solutions look for misconfigurations at the compute or container level but don’t truly understand end-to-end access from critical resources to an untrusted network. They are essentially calling into the APIs of CSPs, and so if the setting in AWS for a particular subnet equals “public,” the tool believes there is exposure to the internet. That’s not necessarily true because a security team may have other controls in place, like a 3rd party firewall or Kubernetes security policy that successfully prevents access, or the security control is not in the path to the critical resources and not protecting them.

The result is that already short-staffed security teams are spending their days chasing security issues that do not impact the organization the most. The question to ask of today’s CSPM products is whether they are repeating data from CSPs based on their settings or accurately calculating effective reachability to their critical resources (and through which specific controls). Security teams need accurate and complete information to inform their remediation options, which can identify CSP-native security groups to specific ports and protocols controlling the access that may allow exposure to occur.

Increasing cloud complexity is making security as challenging as ever. The ability to quickly identify at-risk resources would go a long way in preventing many potential data breaches. Still, the approach that current tools take is incomplete and disregards much of what security teams are already doing to address the problem. Tools need to account for all security controls in place if security teams are to have truly accurate information on which to act.

For more information on RedSeal Stratus, our new CSPM solution, check out our website or sign up for our Early Adopters program.

Surviving the Worst-Case Scenario: Best Practices for Incident Response

There’s no way around it: Cyberattacks are escalating. According to data from the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), the number of reported data breaches from January to September 2021 exceeded the total volume of breaches in 2020 by 17 percent — and with threat vectors such as ransomware and phishing on the rise, this number isn’t going anywhere but up.

What does this mean? It’s a matter of when, not if, when it comes to network compromise, and companies can no longer assume that security frameworks offer invincibility from evolving cyberattack trends. Instead, they need an approach designed to help them survive the work-case scenario — and come out stronger on the other side.

This is the role of robust cybersecurity incident response (IR) plans. Here’s what you need to know about how these plans work, where they can help, and what steps are necessary for effective implementation.

What is a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan?

A cybersecurity incident response plan provides a framework for teams to follow in the event of a cyber incident or attack. Research firm Gartner defines an IR plan as something “formulated by an enterprise to respond to potentially catastrophic, computer-related incidents such as viruses or hackers.”

While there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to creating a cybersecurity incident response plan, common components include:

  • Creating an overall strategy to mitigate risk
  • Identifying potential threat vectors
  • Assigning specific tasks to team members
  • Testing the plan regularly to ensure effective operation.

It’s also worth noting that cyber incident response plans play a role in regulatory compliance. With companies now handling large volumes of financial, personal, and health information from various sources, alignment with compliance expectations requires companies to adopt the mandate of “due diligence.” That is, they must take every reasonable precaution to protect data at rest, in transit, and in use. While businesses can’t avoid every cyberattack, lacking due diligence can lead to legal and regulatory challenges. Robust incident response frameworks help ensure organizations are meeting current compliance goals.

How can a Strong Cyberattack Incident Response Plan Help Put the House Back Together?

A robust IR plan helps put your digital house back together by providing a pathway from initial incident detection to eventual remediation. This is critical because when incidents occur, panic and fear are common responses: Teams want to do everything they can to get networks back on track but simply throwing everything you have at the problem — all at once — often leads to process overlap and policy confusion.

By creating a cyberattack incident response plan that lays out a specific order of events when threats are detected and assigns key tasks to staff, teams can respond in unison when attacks occur. For example, one employee may be responsible for identifying the source of the threat, while another looks to quarantine the affected area. Other team members may be tasked with informing C-suite members about what’s happening and ensuring that backup data is safe from harm.

The Phases of an Incident Response Plan: Timing is Everything

Cyber incidents happen without warning and in real-time — they don’t wait for companies to ready their defenses and prepare for an attack. As a result, timing is everything. Businesses must be ready to respond at a moment’s notice when attacks occur to mitigate the overall impact and get systems back up and running ASAP.

To help streamline this process. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines four key phases:

  1. Preparation speaks to the actions taken before an attack occurs. These include regular network evaluations such as vulnerability scans and penetration tests, along with the deployment of protective tools such as encryption software, failover backups, and automated incident analysis tools.
  2. Next is detection and analysis. This includes determining primary attack vectors — such as emails, web applications, brute-force efforts such as DDoS or improper network usage by employees — along with identifying and analyzing signs of compromise such as network performance drops, antivirus warnings, or unusual traffic amounts.
  3. Containment, Eradication, and Recovery policies determine where attack data will be stored for analysis and debriefing, while eradication looks to remove malware code or breached user accounts once attacks are under control. Recovery focuses on bringing systems back online using a staged approach to ensure no threats remain.
  4. Finally, post-incident activity asks the question: What did we learn? By using data collected during the attack, companies can assess what information was needed sooner to improve response, what additional steps might speed recovery, and what steps they can take to prevent future incidents.

Top Tips for Managing Collateral Damage After an Attack

After attacks occur and incident response plans activate, it’s critical to manage collateral damage and get back on track. Five best practices include:

#1 Prioritize Visibility

The more you know, the better prepared you are to respond when attacks occur. By prioritizing network visibility, your team can discover what they don’t know and take appropriate action.

#2 Define Recovery Times

Recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) help set goals for getting back on track and provide a finite resolution to the IR process.

#3 Seek Out Answers

While successfully mitigating an attack offers business value, managing long-term collateral damage means looking for answers about what happened, why, and what can be done to prevent similar breaches in the future.

#4 Leverage Active Backups

Multiple local and cloud backups can help get your systems back up and running. By logically segmenting them from operational networks, you can significantly reduce their risk of compromise and streamline the recovery process.

#5 Practice, Practice, Practice

As noted by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), practice is paramount to ensure IR plans work as intended. From regular drills to simulated, unscheduled attacks, the more you practice your cybersecurity incident response plan, the better.

Surviving — and Thriving — After the Worst-Case Scenario

While the goal of cybersecurity planning is to help companies survive the brunt of an attack and come out the other side relatively unscathed, effective IR response offers actionable post-incident threat data to help enterprises reduce the risk of future attacks. Intelligent network modeling from RedSeal, meanwhile, provides the insight and integrations you need to take action and thrive in the wake of cyberattacks quickly.

By creating a comprehensive model of your network across cloud, hybrid and virtual environments, teams can quickly locate compromised devices, determine which assets are accessible, and take steps to stop attackers in their tracks. Integration with IBM QRader, Splunk Adaptive Response Initiative, and ArcSight, meanwhile, provides end-to-end situational awareness for improved response.

Survive the worst-case scenario — and come out better on the other side — with an in-depth cyberattack incident response plan. See how RedSeal can help. 

The Eyes Have It: Six Commonly Overlooked Cybersecurity Threats

It’s been a banner year for cybersecurity threats. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center  (ITRC), the number of breaches reported as of September 30th, 2021, already exceeds the total number of breaches in 2020. And while rapid shifts to remote and hybrid work are partly responsible for this increase, attackers are also taking this opportunity to expand their efforts and find new ways to confuse security tools, confound infosec defenders and compromise critical services.

The result? Even with a focus on security, businesses often overlook cybersecurity threats that could cause substantial harm. Here’s a look at six commonly overlooked concerns and what companies can do to mitigate the risk.

The State of Cybersecurity in 2021

In many respects, 2021 has marked a return to form for attackers — threats such as phishing and ransomware are on the rise, as are the use of advanced persistent threats (APTs) to conduct reconnaissance and collect data. The result is a familiar landscape for information security professionals: Teams need to establish and maintain defensive systems capable of detecting, identifying, and removing common threats.

But there’s also an evolution of attacker efforts. Not only are they broadening their horizons, but they’re also selecting new targets: Small and midsize businesses now account for more than 70 percent of all attacks. With many of these businesses now storing valuable personal and financial data but often lacking specialized IT teams and robust infrastructure, attackers are more likely to get in — and get out — without being noticed.

The result is a changing security landscape that requires both active observation and robust response from IT teams. Unfortunately, continual monitoring for common threats often shifts the focus to the growing forest of technology threats — and leaves companies struggling to see the trees.

Six Overlooked Security Threats

Despite best efforts, it’s easy for teams to overlook cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Six of the most commonly neglected threats include:

1. Ineffective Encryption

Encryption remains a front-line defense against both familiar and overlooked security threats. If attackers can’t use data they steal, its value to them is significantly reduced. The challenge? Many businesses still rely on outdated encryption models that are easily circumvented or fail to consider the continuous movement of data across internal networks and external connections.

2. Open Source Solutions

Open source tools and application programming interfaces (APIs) are great ways for companies to reduce the work required to build new apps and services. But there is a caveat. These open solutions may contain critical vulnerabilities that could be exploited to compromise critical data.

3. Phishing 2.0

While phishing efforts remain popular, attackers now realize the need for innovation as businesses become more security-savvy. As a result, the quality of phishing emails has increased substantially over the past few years. Gone are the obvious grammar and spelling mistakes. Instead, they’ve been replaced with socially-engineered data and details designed to fool even experienced team members.

4. IoT Interconnection

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers a way to connect mobile devices, sensors, and monitoring to help streamline operations. But this same interconnection creates an increased attack surface that provides malicious actors multiple points of compromise.

5. Malvertisements

Malvertising — the process of using online ads to spread malware — is once again on the rise. By injecting malicious ads into legitimate ad networks, attackers can compromise even well-defended networks to capture user behavior and log keystrokes.

6. Invisible Assets

What you don’t see can hurt you. This is especially problematic as companies expand into multiple cloud networks. More devices and apps mean less visibility, which in turn increases the chance of a successful attack.

Potential Harms of Unseen Threats

The potential harms of unseen threats are variable — the nature and depth of these threats speak to their impact at scale. In general, however, businesses face three broad harms if attacks are successful.

Operational Impacts

First up are operational impacts. Consider the SolarWinds attack reported in late 2020. Attackers actually compromised the company’s system much earlier last year, allowing them to conduct significant data collection and eventually exploit SolarWinds’ IT management platform, which more than 33,000 companies use. As a result, more than 18,000 companies were rendered vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks and had to interrupt operations temporarily to get systems back on track.

Compromised Compliance

The next potential harm of unseen threats is compromised compliance. If companies don’t have processes and procedures to detect and mitigate attacks ASAP, they may fail to meet security due diligence obligations as outlined in compliance regulations. Sanctions or fines can result.

Reputation Damage

Finally, unseen threats can lead to severe reputation damage. While customers are now willing to share their personal and financial data if businesses can offer increased personalization and improved service, they also have no patience for companies that lose or misuse this information. If attacks go undetected and consumer data is compromised, your business reputation may be irreparably damaged.

Four Steps to Mitigate Risk

While it’s impossible to predict every potential threat to your network — or account for the evolution of attack vectors — there are four steps companies can take to mitigate cybersecurity risk.

1. Discover your assets. What services and software are on your network? How do these solutions connect and interact with other operations? Locally? At scale? Complete asset analysis helps you discover what you have so you can protect what matters.

2. Conduct a vulnerability assessment. Next, you need to determine where your assets are vulnerable with an in-depth scan of all interconnected resources. This provides both increased visibility of detected assets and can also help uncover “blind spots” that need attention.

3. Triage your findings. Prioritization is the third step in this risk mitigation process. By considering potential severity and asset value along with upstream and downstream access requirements, your teams can prioritize defensive efforts.

4. Remediate your issues. Finally, you need a plan to remediate and mitigate overlooked issues. In practice, this includes the identification of precise access paths and devices that require updating or adjustment to isolate, contain and eliminate potential threats.

Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize

The goal of any infosec effort? To defend networks, services, and people from harm. Unfortunately, traditional tools can’t keep up with the volume and variety of cyberattacks in today’s environment. To maximize protection and stay ahead of potential threats, organizations need to boost visibility with vulnerability best practices that help teams zero in on overlooked cybersecurity threats.

See more to secure more: Learn more about Network Vulnerability Best Practices with RedSeal.

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