Our cyber security products span from our next gen SIEM used in the most secure government and critical infrastructure environments, to automated cyber risk reporting applications for commercial and government organisations of all sizes.
Cyber criminals are making the most of the spread of the Coronavirus. The financial services industry is being hit particularly hard, with attackers creating their own pandemic of phishing emails trying to steal money, personal information and intellectual property.
This is hardly surprising, given the value of their assets, and as their workers shift to remote access models and isolate themselves from their colleagues, the attack surface and opportunities for cyber attackers increases.
Phishing is by far the most prevalent threat during the current pandemic, with dozens of new domains registered to serve as the landing page for fake Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) broadcasts and World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. Scammers claiming to be CDC officers with information on the virus, or information on a cure, are rife. Scam emails pretending to be from the WHO have been seen to contain a malicious attachment that installs a keylogger on the target’s machine and sends the keystrokes back to the attacker’s command and control system. Scams have already been seen relating to charities, financial relief packages, airline refunds, fake cures and vaccines, and the availability of fake testing kits. Clearly no topic is off limits.
We know that users need education, but businesses need to impose stricter controls over remote access working in their security architecture. In the rush to get everyone safely working remotely, many of the usual considerations we’d expect from a large-scale ICT project have been put to one side for the sake of expediency. Of course, that was the right decision, given the severity of the COVID-19 disease. However, all organisations should now re-look at their security model and consider better detection and response solutions for remote access.
We talk a lot about cyber hygiene, using the Essential 8 framework in Australia and the Cyber Essentials framework in the UK as two examples of basic controls all organisations should have. Financial services organisations are also encouraged to build good security governance models, that ensure any controls they use to protect the business are maintained over time. There is a need to automate cyber hygiene checks since many of the controls relate to underlying technology such as the organisation’s access control and authentication solution, their operating systems, backup solution, and the way they permit use of administrator privileges. In a time of much distraction, systematic processes provide focus.
Financial organisations that don’t yet have a security program in place should consider adopting the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s (ACSC) Essential 8 Strategies to Mitigate Cyber Security Incidents. By implementing and maintaining these eight, globally recognised, security controls, ACSC have found that organisations can protect themselves against approximately 85% of targeted cyber attacks, so they are the perfect baseline for financial services organisations to adopt.
ACSC Essential Eight Framework
Implementing the Essential Eight security control framework should be a priority, so that project should take precedence over other security management activities that are in production. However, ACSC acknowledges that organisations need to determine how well they have implemented the controls, hence they released their maturity model aligned with the Essential Eight. This model has three maturity levels, where controls can improve from partly aligned with the intent of the mitigation strategy, through to fully aligned.
Fully aligned means the control is implemented everywhere and is fully protecting the whole organisation using the best configurations and settings. For example, with Application Whitelisting, to be fully aligned, it needs to be on all servers to restrict the execution of executables, software libraries, scripts and installers to an approved set. Microsoft’s built-in Application Whitelisting solution is called AppLocker and works on all versions of Windows as far back as Windows 2000, so there is no excuse for organisations not looking at this as an option if they use Microsoft technology.
Once the implementation project is finished and your eight security controls are rolled out across the business, you’re in a good spot. The issue you now face, though, is that enterprises doesn’t stop changing their ICT systems, security researchers don’t stop finding vulnerabilities, and cybercriminals never give up.
Financial services organisations understand the concept of assurance better than most, and assurance is what needs to be applied to their security posture. Assurance is often provided through audits and reports, with organisations expected to address negative audit findings within a fixed period. Audits are usually conducted on an annual basis, which for businesses processes is fine, however, ICT audits have adopted a similar schedule, and in the case of security this is much too little.
The issue is that the information security environment is dynamic, what is robust one day may not be the next. Businesses need to know as soon as a weakness appears, since the bad guys are almost certainly prowling the Internet looking for susceptible targets.
Patch compliance for example is crucial, so instead of concerning yourself with long patch assessment, integration, testing and roll out phases, where critical security patches can take months to roll out, organisations should be aiming to get these patches into production in a matter of hours. Within a few days of a vulnerability going public, exploits are already being tested by cybercriminals, so waiting until the next monthly patching cycle leaves the business open to attack. These attacks will come in the form of phishing, and circling back to the beginning of this article, phishing attacks have skyrocketed as the COVID-19 crisis worsens across the world.
Having the answer to “what is my organisation’s cyber posture?” is more important than ever for financial services organisations. A mixture of technology, auditing expertise and consulting usually help organisations navigate their way through. However, a solution that could gather and present security metrics automatically, for review and formulation of action, would be hugely advantageous.
Huntsman Security’s Essential 8 Auditor is a tool that enables organisations to quickly assess their security controls’ effectiveness.
The tool does not need to be engineered in, it can be managed by your IT department or risk audit team. Developed to measure an organisation’s compliance to the Australian Government’s Essential Eight framework, the tool supports APRA CPS 234 requirements to:
To find out more about the Essential 8 Auditor, please visit our website page:
A recent KPMG Report suggests that protecting against and dealing with cyber risks will be the major challenge for senior executives in 2024. It is clear that despite high levels of security investment, organisations continue to suffer from cyber attacks.Read more
The Australian Signals Directorate’s (ASD) recent publication of their Cyber Threat Report 2022-2023 unearthed a range of areas for concern for government departments and critical infrastructure entities at local, State and Federal level.Read more
As cyber risks increase, organisations are encountering the longer life cycle of insurance renewals and the need to demonstrate better management of security controls and their effectiveness.Read more
Highlights and insights from the recent Managed Services Summit in London & the ISACA Central Chapter Conference on Digital Trust, in Birmingham, UK. With two recent conferences in the space of three days, some interesting challenges were very evident in the topics discussed. Being very different events, the challenges were quite different, but interestingly they […]Read more
In early August 2023, the latest joint advisory on persistent vulnerabilities was issued by the intelligence and security agencies of the “Five-eyes” community. These joint advisories are becoming more common. Perhaps recognising the growing importance of shared security information and the common nature of many of the threats faced – the weight they carry makes […]Read more
The quality of your risk assessment and the security information it provides is important; if you plan to use it to actively manage your operational and cyber resilience activities. Organisations are constantly exposed to a rapidly changing threat environment, so you really need a similarly rapid evidence-based feedback system that informs you of the ongoing […]Read more
The UK market has its own regulators, security standards and challenges. And while rulings from SEC in the US or the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) in Australia don’t apply to UK companies, for the most part, the observations are undoubtedly relevant and the resulting advice instructive. It would be wrong to think UK financial […]Read more
<<< Part 2a: Australia’s Essential Eight: Beyond Endpoint Control <<< Part 2b: Activating UK NCSC & US NIST Guidelines: Beyond Endpoint Control Part 4: Systematic Measurement of Cyber Controls >>> As much as we invest into cyber security controls, external threats are inevitable. In a recent Notifiable Data Breaches Report from the Office of the […]Read more
Keen campers, scouts and even the Swiss Army know – that a good penknife is indispensable. This simple device has mitigated many a disaster at one point in time or another. Whether it’s to cut through a bit of string, tighten a screw or simply to solve the problem of no bottle opener in the […]Read more
Supply chain risk is an area of cyber security that demands the ongoing attention of every enterprise; because it can make the difference between being resilient or not. It’s no surprise that insurers warn that the vulnerability of supply chains is potentially a systemic risk that can quickly propagate across supply chain dominated industries. Organisations […]Read more
Read by directors, executives, and security professionals globally, operating in the most complex of security environments.