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.
Last week there was a joint advisory issued by multiple National Security Agencies in response to the ongoing rise in cyber-attacks globally. The document:
It’s not the first time a joint announcement like this has been made, and it’s becoming more common. These collaborative advisories are in part as a result of respective governments’ agencies working collectively to combat common adversaries. From a practicality point of view, too, they assist the many organisations that are seeking to protect their operations across the multiple jurisdictions with an enterprise-wide security strategy.
As a result, on April 28th a document agreed between the security agencies of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom was published. Specifically:
Clearly the content provides vital cyber security threat intelligence and extensive advice; see links and highlights below.
But what can we deduce from it more broadly?
There was a similar publication (US-only) in January 2022 (see here) and a more recent one focussed on the increasing cyber security tensions around the conflict in Ukraine and Russian-sponsored and criminal cyber threats against US and other Critical Infrastructure sectors (on 20 April 2022, here).
Government agency security advice, and even guidance to critical infrastructure providers and other specific sectors, has tended to operate within jurisdictional silos. These more recent advisories are certainly much more joined up than in the past and potentially more suited to the organised nature of what are, after all becoming, common adversaries.
For defence supply chain cyber resilience the US has its CMMC programme, the UK has DEFSTAN 05-138 and DISP in Australia; which closely relate to the compliance/assurance schemes like Essential 8 in Australia and Cyber Essentials in the UK.
The unification of these advisories might be a longer term, or even a utopian dream; but as anyone who has come from any other sector will attest: international standards authorities generally resist any other interpretation than their own, when it come to a particular requirement. The fact remains, however, that often these standards, while differing in organisation, structure and origin are indistinguishably similar.
This convergence or overlap is not really surprising. Each agency is working to defeat increasingly common adversaries and so the publication of joint threat announcements and advisories is to be encouraged. Confirmation of this growing level of harmonisation of security standards and assurance is the fact that NCSC Cyber Essentials and ACSC Essential Eight frameworks, are both acknowledged as meeting the good cyber hygiene requirements for Levels 1-3 compliance of the latest CMMC framework.
On ransomware, specifically, there is very little divergence between the recommended mitigations strategies contained in the NIST IR8374 guidance, the NCSC mitigation guidelines and the ACSC Essential 8 framework.
In a world where organisations are seeking to coordinate their cyber resilience efforts across all geographies, the fact that security recommendations across various jurisdictions are aligned is helpful. It makes for standardised processes across the organisation which assist in the overall management of cyber security and the cost effectiveness of the IT governance efforts.
Lastly, it is worth noting that when you look at the content of the current advisory, the vulnerabilities are carefully categorised – they start with the most frequently used in attacks. The message is clear, if they are that common and presumably damaging, it’s a good idea to take pre-emptive measures to mitigate them before they impact your business.
A review of the mitigations and recommendations in the advisory make it clear that they all fall under the heading of “cyber hygiene” – foundational, universally accepted security controls that should be ubiquitous; and are simply, good practice. So, an ability to measure and manage the security hygiene of your enterprise using one framework is likely to reflect very similar cyber posture levels when using a similar framework from another jurisdiction.
Paraphrasing the recommendations slightly, the list is as follows:
It’s no coincidence then, that these recommendations above overlap absolutely with other sources of information on how to mitigate ransomware and malware, for example from NIST, NCSC and ACSC. So, while detailed requirements can vary across security standards and frameworks the effectiveness of security controls can be measured by the adequacy of good cyber hygiene or posture in any language.
This advice, although not new, is particularly important. In the context of the most common attack types it is brought into renewed focus through advice of the various agencies which can be found here: ACSC Essential 8 framework, NCSC ransomware risk mitigation guidance and NISTs advice on ransomware defence in IR 8374
The advisory itself can be found at: https://www.cisa.gov/uscert/ncas/alerts/aa22-117a
Huntsman Security’s Essential Eight Auditor and SmartCheck for Ransomware solutions are assessment tools that enable organisations that are worried about the state of their security controls and ransomware risk, to obtain visibility of their situation. They automatically assess the organisation’s cyber security posture and maturity levels; reporting the state of security control effectiveness for both operational and senior executive oversight.
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
It took a “tripartite cyber assessment” by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to identify that a sample of financial organisations had inadequate cyber security: poor security control management, a lack of business recovery planning and inadequate 3rd party risk assessment. Why were there gaps? Where is the failure? Clearly the common practice of unsubstantiated […]Read more
The discussion over data-driven vs qualitative cyber security assessment has been going for some time. Nowadays, it is at the top of the priority list for many security and senior executive teams. Managing cyber security has always been a noble ambition but without reliable measurement, the lack of actionable information makes evidence-based management decisions almost […]Read more
Attack Surface Management (ASM) characterises a business’s security risks as the monitoring and risk mitigation of a constantly changing and vulnerable “risk-surface”. Importantly, this attack surface extends to both internal and external assets and services. Some ASM solutions deliver clear visibility across both Internet facing and internal assets. Others do not. Instead, they assess external […]Read more
The UK Government has released its annual “Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2023”. It provides some valuable insights into how cyber security is currently being managed in the UK, by a range of organisations. It also speaks to how current competing economic priorities are impacting the effectiveness of some cyber security management efforts. The full report […]Read more
Solving the mismatch between cyber security reporting and directors’ requirements You are undoubtedly familiar with the headlines; you may have even become in part desensitised to them: ‘Cyber-attacks are increasingly damaging’, or ‘large amounts of personal data are most at risk’. The important take-away, however, is that modern day thieves can easily gain access to […]Read more
A system to address the untrustworthy security environment Zero trust approaches to security have been talked about for a while; but in recent times they have certainly gained more currency. As a model for protecting data and services, the simplicity of the concept is its biggest strength – assume, as a default position, there is […]Read more
Read by directors, executives, and security professionals globally, operating in the most complex of security environments.