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How to maximise productivity by minimising digital risk

by Cybersprint Blog 4 Nov 2019

Downtime, especially when it happens unexpectedly, is the enemy of productivity. Just ask Sony. When their online gaming platform was hacked in 2011, the service had to be taken offline for a month, resulting in unplanned costs of around $171 million, not including the reputational damage caused by 77 million user accounts being compromised. So, what can you do to prevent this kind of disaster?

Ensuring complete security for all your digital assets is actually pretty easy. All you need to do is block access to every device, port and application in your company. Unfortunately, this has a somewhat negative effect on employee productivity…

The need for an effective solution remains. Not being able to pro-actively prevent unplanned downtime exposes your organisation to operational disruptions that can result in lost revenue, reduced productivity and a compromised customer experience. In this light, you would need to ask yourself:

  • If a phishing incident occurs, how can you quickly restore the desired customer experience?
  • How can you proactively reduce the likelihood of unplanned downtime events?
  • How much does each hour of unplanned downtime cost your organisation?

Making invisible vulnerabilities visible

Before you know what to protect, you need to know what you have in the first place. A solid Digital Risk Protection (DRP) platform gives organisations greater visibility over the vulnerabilities within their digital footprint. It helps to eliminate threats before they can be exploited. Such a DRP solution delivers organisation-wide benefits by enhancing the effectiveness of the entire security infrastructure.

Effective digital footprint management

In order to avoid unwanted downtime, the use of DRP solutions needs to be supported with thorough digital footprint management. That’s because knowing what online assets you have is the first step in knowing how to protect them. As with all things, that procedure takes time to do well. However, a good DRP solution will automate most of the processes and provide you with actionable insights. At Cybersprint, we recommend you take the following approach:

1) PLAN

After an initial scan of your digital footprint has been performed, the assets and their detailed analyses need to be scrutinised. What are their risk ratings and proposed mitigation actions? Which assets need to be taken care of first? And who is in control of those? Plan what you want to do about the vulnerabilities. Goals and deadlines for each step should be defined. Digital assets can also be tagged to specific departments or projects, so everyone is aware of their responsi­bilities. Integration of the DRP platform with Service Management software supports this process.

2) DO

This is where the teams involved actively mitigate the assigned vulnerabilities to secure the digital footprint. Depending on the goals set in the Plan phase, this may take the most time as (sub)domains have to be checked, security certificates renewed, software updated, etc. Having a central Configuration Management Database (CMDB) will also help in this process.

3) CHECK

Your DRP platform will continuously scan for new assets, as well as re-analyse the ones already found. This makes it easy to validate the success of the mitigation actions per asset, and see which ones require further action.

4) ACT

Based on the insights and findings during the Do and Check phases, processes and regulations can be optimised to minimise and prevent similar vulnerabili­ties in the future.

This should automatically lead to a new Plan phase in which different assets can be prioritised and mitigated. Every completed cycle improves your organisation’s cyber resilience, putting you back in control of your digital footprint and making structural changes to your online footprint that will help protect it in the future.

Leveraging a DRP solution to build this kind of structured approach into your IT security strategy is an important way of reducing the risk of downtime caused by cyber attacks. It also helps you mitigate issues faster to avoid the kind of operational, financial and reputational damage suffered by Sony and many others.

Can you identify and prioritise the vulnerabilities within your organisation’s digital footprint? Our platform’s free Quickscan will help discover, assess and remediate online risks to your brand. The scan will provide you with valuable and actionable insights, illustrating where improvements can be made.

Do you want to learn how to effectively manage
the online footprint of your organisation?

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Mitre PRE-ATT&CK: What is it and how to use it

One of the best ways to improve your digital security is to let the past help prepare you for the future. Knowing the tactics threat actors have used in other cyber-attacks will help you determine what you should protect your systems from. Luckily, you needn’t figure that out by yourself. Mitre has created frameworks of the many different ways cyber-attacks have been orchestrated in existing use cases. Here’s how you can use this information to strengthen your cyber-resilience. What is the Mitre PRE-ATTACK framework? Mitre is an American organisation conducting federal-funded research into various markets with the aim to create a safer world through their research. Cybersecurity is one of those markets. To help organisations understand where their might need to focus more security resources on, they created two matrices of all techniques cyber-criminals have used to set up and execute attacks in the past. These are called the ATT&CK and the PRE-ATT&CK frameworks. Even though the ATT&CK framework is most well-known, we see a shift occurring, as PRE-ATT&CK is starting to step out of the shadow of ATT&CK with a more specific focus. Whereas the ATT&CK framework concentrates on the steps taken once an attack is launched, the PRE-ATT&CK framework focusses on the preceding preparation phases, allowing organisations to predict and prepare for attacks before they happen. Mitre’s frameworks match with other models, helping to frame the extensive matrices. To illustrate how PRE-ATT&CK differs from ATT&CK, we’ve plotted the frameworks in the ‘7 stages of the cyber kill chain’, as created by Lockheed Martin. All steps needed to execute a cyber-attack can be divided over these seven stages. As shown below, the first two stages are broadly covered by Mitre’s PRE-ATT&CK, and the other five by the ATT&CK framework. How to apply PRE-ATT&CK Preventing an attack is far more cost-effective than having to repair damages to IT systems, let alone the financial or reputational impact it can have. It is hard and expensive to determine the impact of an attack with IT forensics and replacing infected systems can have a negative effect on overall business productivity. Incorporating an automated outside-in perspective of your brand’s online exposure allows you to discover vulnerabilities in the same way an attacker might look for entry points into your IT infrastructure. This approach empowers you to regain control over your digital attack surface and mitigate risks before they can be exploited. This approach is called digital footprint management and can be placed under the concept of Digital Risk Protection. Below is an overview of Mitre’s PRE-ATT&CK framework. The complete matrix is a little too large to be read in detail, so a deep dive into the content is available via this video. The highlighted fields represent the areas covered by Digital Risk Protection and digital footprint monitoring. The light green indicates partial coverage and deep green full coverage. Combining the PRE-ATT&CK framework with your existing security procedures can help you identify potential threats and weak spots in your systems. Still, you first need to have a complete overview of your organisation’s digital assets before you can confidently say where you are more likely to be hit. That’s why the digital footprint approach works so well with PRE-ATT&CK. Having both will help you determine and validate where you might have underspent or overspent on security measures, for example. Besides improving the cyber-resilience of your systems, incorporating the Mitre PRE-ATT&CK framework in the organisation’s digital footprint will bring more business value to the organisation as a whole. This whitepaper explains the PRE-ATT&CK framework in more detail, and describes the specific ROI for your organisation. Looking for a comprehensive clarification of the security tactics described above, explained with actual use cases? Watch our recorded webinar. Sebastiaan Bosman is Content Marketeer at Cybersprint. With a   background in Communications and Linguistics, he is responsible for   the creation and editing processes of most internal and external   communication. He writes content such as blogs, whitepapers and   case studies, primarily based on Cybersprint’s own research data.   Previously, Sebastiaan worked as Content & Communications   Advisor at ING Global.

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From practice to preventing: How criminals adapt their attack methods

Similar to traditional ‘brick-and-mortar criminals’, not all cyber-criminals employ the same method to reach their goal. A burglar wouldn’t enter a house with an alarm or when there are people inside, but go for an easier opportunity. The same goes for internet-thieves. Their risk/reward balance depends on the required investment beforehand to successfully carry out their attack. What are the aspects they take into consideration?

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Use case: footprint mapping at ifm electronics

Interview with Kevin Kampeter, IT Security Specialist at ifm electronic gmbh.

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