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IT Security

Do you specialise in IP/IT Security? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on Security Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in September we’ll be focussing on IP/IT Security.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help security buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of IP/IT Security solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Ian Jefferies on i.jefferies@forumevents.co.uk.

Here are the areas we’ll be covering in 2019, month by month:

September – IP/IT Security
October – CCTV
November – Loss Prevention Solutions
December – Drones 

For more information on any of the above, contact Ian Jefferies on i.jefferies@forumevents.co.uk.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Petition started for minimum IT security for UK business

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Evaris has called for action to establish a mandatory minimum level of IT security for all businesses.

The Manchester-based business has launched a petition, backed by IT and cyber security professionals, to put pressure on the government to make the currently optional National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC’s) Cyber Essentials Scheme compulsory for businesses to protect them in the event of a cyber attack and reduce the cost of cyber crime to the UK economy, as well as the public.

According to the recent Cyber Security Breaches Survey, less than three in 10 (27%) businesses have a formal cyber security policy in place, while large companies reported an average of 12 attacks per year that they knew about. Six attacks per year were reported by medium-sized companies.

As a result, Evaris is calling for all businesses to take steps to prevent such attacks from occurring.

The petition aims to ensure small organisations with up to 50 employees and medium-sized firms with between 51 and 250 staff should meet at least the criteria for certification for the Cyber Essentials scheme. Large businesses (those with more than 250 employees) should at least meet the criteria for the Cyber Essentials Plus scheme.

Terry Saliba, Solutions Architect at Evaris, said: “Data shows that more than four in ten businesses experienced a cyber security breach in the past 12 months, and these are becoming increasingly sophisticated and costly for businesses across all industries.

“Unfortunately, we still see that many firms are failing to understand the extent of this issue, and so we believe this petition is vital for establishing a compulsory baseline adhered to by all businesses.

“We’re extremely pleased to see our campaign to make Cyber Essentials compulsory for all companies has gained the support of industry bodies. These organisations see the extent of the damage caused by a lack of IT security and training on a daily basis.”

Vince Warrington, CEO of Protective Intelligence, said: “I’m supporting the petition because I’ve had to deal with the consequences of cyber attacks and seen the destruction they can cause.

“At the moment, far too many companies still see cyber security as a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential part of everyday business, or feel they don’t understand what they need to do to protect themselves. But cyber attacks are not going to simply disappear – the criminals behind them will target your business if you haven’t taken even the most basic steps to keep them out.

“By driving all companies to adopt Cyber Essentials the government can not only create a good level of basic cyber hygiene across UK Plc, but also create a regular flow of work small cyber security businesses can themselves bring onboard new staff and train them up, thus reducing the predicted shortfall in qualified cyber security experts that the country will need in the decades to come.”

In order to be certified by the Cyber Essentials Scheme, applicants must, as a minimum:

  • Use a firewall to secure their internet connection
  • Choose the most secure settings for their devices and software
  • Control who has access to data and services
  • Have protection against viruses and other malware
  • Keep devices and software up to date

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Guest Blog, Pascal Geenens: The rise in students hacking school databases…

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You might be surprised at who is behind the most recent cases of cyber-attacks on schools. Would you guess that in many instances, it’s the students themselves? There are many reasons why students would want to launch an attack against their own school, and it’s actually becoming a larger problem across the globe with cases reported in the US, Japan, Australia and India.

Here are some of the top reasons why students have been launching attacks on schools:

It’s fun

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by the idea of trying to hack into their school, with all its records at their disposal? With many schools now electing to have students submit assignments digitally and take exams online, some would find it fun to shut down the system so they and their classmates won’t have to submit their work or take a test. Others may just want to play a joke by defacing the school website.

Revenge

In some cases, the reason for hacking is as simple as wanting to get back at the school for bestowing punishment upon the student. Disrupting normal operations, thinking they won’t get caught, holds an allure.

Changing grades

For those who are struggling with coursework or may have flunked an important exam or submitted a hastily put together dissertation, the temptation to hack lies in the ability to change their grades to more favourable ones. Not wanting to bring home a poor report is a key motivation in younger students. Students of all ages will see a hack as a way to avoid this.

To change attendance

For the truants out there, hacking provides a way for them to change their attendance records and erase the fact they did not attend school.

As a dare

We all like having bragging rights. For students, responding to a dare is often the way to do it. If they don’t, they face bullying and teasing from classmates over not succeeding.

So how do they do it? Most educational facilities have migrated to digital platforms, and these online portals are prime targets for attacks.

Technology is great and streamlines workflow, but presents a larger issue if knocked offline. If these portals go down, they prevent students from being able to perform many actions, like submitting their work. This is a huge issue with schools going digital. Schools are quick to incorporate the newest technology but often do not consider the risks.

One of the biggest security risks that school network face is from their students and the devices they bring with them. Students bring a considerably large amount of devices, ranging from personal computers and tablets to mobile phones and gaming consoles.

These devices often connect to the school’s network and open a huge range of vulnerabilities. The activities that some students engage in, such as online gaming, can also bring a risk of malware or even denial of service attacks.

Part of the issue is the ease in which students can now access the Darknet, and the increasingly low costs to hire someone to hack the system for them. Digital marketplace vendors on the Darknet offer cyber services such as grade changes and distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks for very little money.

This makes it increasingly easy for non-hackers to carry out an attack or cause damage to a school’s resources. In addition to these services, a potential attacker can rent other attacks such as botnets or stresser services for Bitcoin.

It’s scary stuff, but there are steps that schools can take to protect themselves. They key is a hybrid security solution that combines on-premise detection and mitigation with cloud-based protection, so attack traffic can be identified and blocked before it causes downtime. A trusted security specialist will be able to advise further on the best way to ensure service availability.

It may seem extreme, but students have come a long way from slingshots and peashooters, with many choosing cyber attacks as their weapon of choice. It’s up to schools to make sure they are just as innovative with their defences.

 

As a security evangelist for Radware, Pascal helps execute the company’s thought leadership on today’s security threat landscape. Pascal brings over two decades of experience in many aspects of information technology and holds a degree in Civil Engineering from the Free University of Brussels.

Industry Spotlight: “It’s one of a kind and nothing like this has ever been done before”…

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Used in more than 80 countries, Pervade Software‘s solutions are leveraged by a wide audience of private and public sector clients, as well as partners ranging from independent consultants to global managed security service providers. Here, John Davies, managing director, discusses the company’s premium position in the global and UK marketplace, the challenges it faces when approaching potential clients and keeping up with industry trends…

There is a tremendous amount of competition in the sector – how does Pervade Software stand out from its competitors?

Right now, there are dozens of IT monitoring systems on the market, and pretty much all of these systems are built on relational databases – meaning they can only deal with one or two data types each. By definition, log systems only handle logs and configuration systems – as you can probably guess – only deal with configuration files. Both data types are wildly different and it is far too difficult to handle log data and configuration files in the same database. Therefore, you have two separate products: one to look at your logs, and the other to look at your configuration files and this issue is repeated across other data types such as asset management, vulnerability, file integrity, database, application performance, network monitoring etc.

We stand out from our competitors because we have developed a brand new database that can process all data types which has won major industry recognition; it’s the only one of its kind and nothing like this has ever been done before. So, we compete with all other data monitoring systems on the market because we can do the job of multiple systems in one. What’s more, we can correlate data that is normally dealt with in multiple systems providing faster and more in-depth forensics capabilities. This is not limited to IT data types either; we handle industrial control system SCADA data just as easily.

We also stand out because we have a unique compliance tracking capability.  Obviously, because we can handle all data types, we can audit all devices to collect any evidence for every technical control in any standard or policy including logs, config, asset etc.  Furthermore, we have added the ability for contributors to log in and answer non-technical compliance questions such as “Do you have a policy?”, “Do you keep records, if so provide a copy” etc. which means that all evidence of compliance can be tracked in a single configurable system and this is also unique.

 

What challenges does Pervade Software face when approaching new clients and driving new developments?

Our first challenge is that people do not believe that it can be done. The industry has always had a wide array of monitoring systems and people are used to the fact that, if they want full visibility across their whole infrastructure, then they have to have four, five, or even six monitoring systems in place – when we waltz in and say “it doesn’t have to be that way”, people are naturally suspicious, especially because we are a relatively new and unknown player in the market. We almost always have to run proof of concept evaluations, which we are perfectly happy to do.

The second challenge is that, even when people do believe what we can do it, it’s too much of a paradigm shift; too much of a change for them to implement. We’re only really attractive to early adopters at this stage in our growth and even then we tend to deploy our software alongside their existing systems, to plug any gaps in their monitoring capability or automate compliance tracking for a specific certification, and then we work on displacing their other expensive systems over time. 

 

Can you detail the main differences between the OpAudit and the OpView solutions?

OpView is the monitoring system – basically an optimised view of your IT infrastructure and security, viewing everything in one system.

OpAudit is the compliance tracking system – optimizing the way that you work towards becoming compliant, prove your compliance to auditors and maintain your compliance through time, with all evidence available in a single set of screens.

We sell them as two separate products, but actually, they run from the same central server and are part of the same system.

We believe this reflects that fact that it is becoming more and more difficult to separate IT Security from IT Compliance.  The increasing cyber threat means that everyone’s customers are demanding proof that their systems are secure and gaining certifications ranging from Cyber Essentials, IASME, ISO27001, PCI-DSS right up to NIST 800-53 is by far the best of way of demonstrating that you have the right controls on place to be as cyber secure as possible. 

 

As a company, is it challenging to keep up with and introduce new trends?

For us it’s a piece of cake as we have developed a platform that is based on a portal architecture, which makes it incredibly extensible. One of the benefits of our software is that new features or functionality needed in response to new cyber threats or compliance demands can be added as a “widget” rather than needing core code changes.  So we can keep up with the fast-moving security industry much better than our competitors. Also, their solutions can only handle certain data types, which means that they simply cannot deal with new attack vectors that are designed to be invisible to their systems.  For example, the new generation of attacks that leave no logs, which makes them invisible to an SIEM system regardless of how much money it cost.

 

You’re primarily based in Cardiff, so how is Pervade Software performing in other areas of the UK as well as internationally?

Our software is currently being used in over 80 countries and we have to deal with all queries from these countries, which, of course, come with challenges. What we’re trying to do as a business is develop a collection of channel partners located in different countries – such as system integrators, compliance consultancy firms and so forth. We need partnerships to continue our growth and to further integrate our solutions internationally and we are actively looking for these partners right now.  

 

In your opinion, do you believe industry events such as the Security IT Summit are beneficial to generating new business?

Yes – what many big conference style events do is appoint big-name speakers to present, leading to many industry professionals attending but mainly to sit in on these speaking sessions. This doesn’t help companies like us at all – if I were to set up a roll-up banner and sit at a table, people are only going to visit my stand during the coffee breaks or if they’re bored. The major expos are not much better because there are now so many vendor stands that people are completely swamped by the range of solutions they are seeing and it is difficult to differentiate

Comparing these events to the Security IT Summit, where meetings are scheduled beforehand and suppliers are guaranteed to be able to talk to serious buyers. It’s a much more beneficial use of my time. As a small company with an innovative new solution, I’d prefer to have longer more in-depth discussions than five minute sound bytes on a stand.

 

Learn more about Pervade Software here

Open source ‘fuelling innovation and cost savings’ in UK businesses…

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According to research commissioned by Rackspace surveying 300 of the UK’s largest organisations, more than half (54 per cent) of those using open source technologies perceive external security threats as the biggest challenge to adoption.

The ‘Rackspace State of Open Source’ study, carried out by the technology market research firm, Vanson Bourne, found that 49 per cent of companies are not fully supportive of open source, or closed source, technologies being a more secure methodology; with an additional 43 per cent concerned about the vulnerabilities related to open source code.

In addition, 90 per cent deploy open source-based enterprise applications, while the vast majority (89 per cent) believe that open source has become ‘more professional’ over the last three years, becoming attractive for enterprise development and use.
Read Abe Selig’s ‘The Enterprise is Ready for Open Source’ blog here

Centrify boots its MFA Everywhere initiative across hybrid IT infrastructures…

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Centrify, an industry leader in securing enterprise identities against cyber threats, has announced the next evolution of its Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Everywhere initiative, with support for new platforms — including Windows and UNIX servers, as well as Windows laptops — and new authentication factors while extending MFA to ‘privileged account use cases’.

Centrify revealed that MFA has been extended to new platforms in order to better secure all types of users in a hybrid environment. Now, the company is supporting MFA at login into Windows laptops, desktops and servers as well as MFA support for Windows privileged command execution to benefit IT organisations who want to further secure both their end users and IT users from the compromising of credentials by hackers.

Chief product officer at Centrify, Bill Mann said: “Centrify is committed to protecting businesses against cyber attacks that target both end users and privileged IT users.

He continued: “We are extending our MFA capabilities to Windows to better secure end users and their devices. For privileged IT users, we’ve added additional server operating systems, as well as enforcing MFA when remote sessions are initiated, and on privileged password checkout. Our integrated MFA capabilities clearly differentiate our solution from the competition when it comes to securing access across today’s hybrid infrastructure and apps environment.”

 

To start a free trial and learn more about MFA Everywhere, click here