Under Siege: Cybersecurity Failures Sound the Alarm

The public has been aware of cyber incidents for a long time, but recent high-profile cybersecurity breaches have ignited fresh concerns and garnered elevated attention. These incidents underscore the persistent threats that exist to businesses across industries, hospitals, and even the cryptocurrency market. What valuable lessons can we extract or re-emphasize from these events as we close out Cybersecurity Awareness Month?

Money Alone Can’t Buy You Security: MGM Resorts

The most conspicuous incident in recent memory was the substantial cyberattack on MGM Resorts, a global leader in hospitality and entertainment. MGM boasts generous IT and security budgets, essential for maintaining their seamless gambling operation around the clock. However, despite substantial investments in IT resources and attention to cybersecurity, this attack forced the company to take the drastic step of shutting down its highly sophisticated IT systems completely. While the precise nature of the attack’s origins will become clearer over time, the immediate impact was disruption of the company’s operations — and the raising of critical questions about customer data security. Financial implications of the attack are beginning to appear, as well.

The MGM incident highlights the paramount importance of cybersecurity in the hospitality industry, where customer trust and data protection are non-negotiable. An attack can ripple across multiple operational facets, including financial operations, physical security, planning and client services. It serves as a stark reminder that no organization, regardless of its size or reputation, is immune to cyber threats. To safeguard their operations and customer data, companies must make continuous investments in cybersecurity measures and build robust incident response plans.

Target on Crypto Funds: North Korean Hackers

In a daring cyber heist, North Korean hackers reportedly siphoned off $41 million in cryptocurrency to finance their ongoing cyber activities. Their target was a cryptocurrency exchange, where they exploited vulnerabilities in the security infrastructure to pilfer the digital assets. While criminal activity has long plagued crypto operations, financial threats have also become a persistent concern.

This incident involving North Korea underscores the audacious and relentless nature of cybercriminals. Cryptocurrency exchanges are particularly attractive targets due to the potential for substantial financial gains. To shield against such attacks, exchanges must prioritize security, conduct regular audits, and educate users about best practices for securing and accessing their digital assets.

Healthcare Sector Vulnerabilities: Prospect Medical Cyberattack

This year has witnessed a surge in healthcare cyberattacks, an unsettling reality confirmed by emerging reports. These attacks are especially dangerous, as they can jeopardize sensitive patient data and essential medical services. In a recent attack, Prospect Medical, a healthcare management company in California and Pennsylvania, fell victim to a cyberattack that disrupted its operations. Beyond these operational hindrances, Prospect Medical encountered billing issues with Medicaid and is grappling with an extensive recovery process. Reports also suggest the financial toll and implications of the breach could affect a planned sale of various hospitals, extending the impact to future business operations.

This incident underscores the life-threatening consequences of cyberattacks targeted toward healthcare organizations. They can disrupt patient care, compromise sensitive medical records and even impact the organization’s future business plans. The lesson here is clear: robust cybersecurity measures, regular staff training and investments in technology that guard against threats are imperative.

Key Takeaways

These recent cyber incidents offer several vital takeaways that can be applied more broadly:

  • No Entity is Immune: Cyber threats can impact any organization, from global corporations to local hospitals. Acknowledging this reality is the first step in developing a proactive cybersecurity strategy.
  • Invest in Cybersecurity: Investing in cybersecurity infrastructure, regular updates and employee training is not an option; it’s a necessity in today’s digital landscape.
  • Rethink and Reset on Cyber: Major incidents provide an opportunity to reevaluate cybersecurity programs and strategies from top to bottom, and to extract insight from tough lessons learned.
  • Comprehensive Security is a Must: Whether through outsourcing, partnerships or in-house measures, comprehensive security, 24/7 monitoring, early detection, incident response and actionable insights are non-negotiable.
  • Ransomware Preparedness: Robust backup and recovery solutions are essential to minimize disruption and data loss in the face of ongoing ransomware attacks.
  • Investing Wisely in Cybersecurity: While financial resources are essential, effective cybersecurity goes beyond budget size; it requires a holistic approach to protection and readiness.

Cybersecurity: A Continuous Imperative for Safeguarding the Digital Future

The recent cyberattacks on MGM Resorts, cryptocurrency exchanges and healthcare organizations serve as stark reminders that the cybersecurity landscape is continually evolving with high stakes. In the spirit of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, let’s remember that readiness is not a choice. Organizations must take proactive measures to protect their digital assets and customer data. Safeguarding the digital future is a collective responsibility that demands continuous improvement, collective action and the latest tactics and technologies to address evolving risks.

This article was originally published in Forbes, please follow me on LinkedIn.

Awaken From Cyber Slumber: 3 Steps To Stronger Cybersecurity

Everywhere you look, you can see the profound impact of technology on our daily lives. Digital transformations have reshaped industries, empowered businesses, and brought essential services closer to our fingertips. From health information to financial transactions, educational resources, and more, our reliance on technology is undeniable. Yet, amid this technological marvel, it’s alarmingly easy for individuals and organizations alike to find themselves in a state of complacency, or what one might call “cyber slumber.” This month, as we observe Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to wake up – from C-level executives and investors, to employees, suppliers, and customers. It’s time to acknowledge both the dangers and opportunities associated with a robust cybersecurity posture.

Step 1: Understand the Stakes

Every organization, regardless of size or industry, faces a monumental challenge: to safeguard its digital assets in an ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. Failing to manage cybersecurity risks can have devastating consequences, not just for the business but for individual careers. The ever-watchful adversary is omnipresent, poised to exploit the smallest vulnerability whether it be through stealing, damaging, or holding an organization hostage. In this fast-paced world of cybersecurity, complacency is a luxury no one can afford. Failing to act promptly can result in severe financial losses, reputational damage, and legal repercussions. Success, or even just survival, in today’s digital realm requires an unrelenting focus on strong cybersecurity.

Step 2: Break the Preset Mentality

Organizations often fall into a trap where they believe that past investments in security solutions have adequately addressed specific threats. However, this mentality can lead to blind spots, as these solutions might not be updated or adapted to the evolving threat landscape. In cybersecurity nothing is set in stone, and an unwavering position of assurance can lead to an organization’s downfall. Threats evolve, the scope of risks changes, and countless transformations occur over time. Thus, a static approach to security has proven to be the “Achilles’ heel” of even the most prominent technology operations. The modern organization must discard this static mindset and embrace an agile, adaptive approach.

Step 3: Reset the Cybersecurity Landscape

Now, with the shackles of the past released, organizations have the opportunity to bolster their resilience against modern cyber threats. This can be seen as a “reset,” and is where foundational aspects of cybersecurity are reviewed and addressed one by one.

  • Employee Training: The human component remains the weakest link in many cybersecurity scenarios. Continuous awareness training empowers staff to recognize and respond to potential threats effectively.
  • Behavior Analysis: Implementing user behavior analytics helps identify unusual users, data, and application activities that may indicate a breach.
  • Incident Response Plan: A well-documented incident response plan is essential for responding swiftly and effectively to security breaches.
  • Multi-Level Proactive Security Approach: A comprehensive strategy encompasses multiple layers of proactive security measures and addresses various attack vectors.
  • Vendor Evaluation: It’s important to evaluate the cybersecurity practices of third-party vendors, as they can be potential entry points for attackers.
  • Cloud Security: Implementation of cloud-specific security measures such as identity and access management (IAM), intrusion detection, and continuous monitoring of cloud environments.
  • Continuous Assessment: Cybersecurity is an ongoing commitment that involves regular assessments to evaluate security measures, identify vulnerabilities, and adapt to emerging threats.

This recipe, along with the motivation provided by Cybersecurity Awareness Month, serves as a catalyst for resetting cybersecurity resources to address vulnerabilities and protect your organization. By continuously assessing and improving, and educating employees, and remaining vigilant, you can significantly reduce both the risks and consequences associated with cyber threats. For businesses, awakening from a state of cyber sleep is not an option; it’s a strategic imperative.

This article was originally published in Forbes, please follow me on LinkedIn.

Ready For Cyber Readiness – Any Time Now

Cybersecurity Awareness Month (CSAM) takes place each October, and is a dedicated month to raise awareness about cybersecurity’s importance. Cybersecurity Awareness Month typically brings forth a wealth of advice aimed at a wide audience. The public is inundated with fundamental recommendations such as using strong passwords, verifying app authenticity, and enabling multi-factor authentication. However, for businesses seeking practical guidance, this landscape can be challenging to navigate. Among the myriad insights, there is one piece of wisdom that stands above all: the importance of being ready to face the unknown.

Protecting Your Digital Frontier

The significance of cybersecurity readiness cannot be overstated, given the myriad threats that persist in today’s world. In the ever-advancing realm of technology, these threats are continually evolving and evolving in tandem. Regardless of size or industry, organizations must maintain vigilance and adopt a proactive stance. Of all the awareness we seek to cultivate this month, the most critical theme is the enduring pursuit of readiness.

Sweet Entropy: The Changing Landscape of Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity landscape is in a perpetual state of flux. It encompasses new technologies, tactics, threats, services, and events from diverse sources. Fresh attack vectors emerge regularly, while threat actors refine their techniques and intensify their pursuit of sensitive information and system vulnerabilities. In this dynamic environment, everything an organization has built, no matter how impressive, could be vulnerable to the next significant breach. This includes point technologies and Security Operating Centers (SOCs). The only response is to remain poised to build and rebuild as required.

Understanding Cybersecurity Readiness

When concepts materialize into plans, the portrait of cybersecurity readiness emerges. It involves a spectrum of proactive measures and strategies aimed at being prepared to confront potential cyber threats. This readiness encompasses not only the deployment of security tools and technologies, but also the development of a cybersecurity culture that permeates every level of an organization. This multi-level presence epitomizes the comprehensive security principles that underpin the most secure environments in the industry. Awareness and evaluation remain constant factors within systems, expertise, and operational programs that are guided by comprehensive security strategies.

Key Components of Cybersecurity Readiness

Approaches to navigating the transition from concept to application of cybersecurity readiness may vary, but certain elements persist. They include:

  • Risk Assessment: Understanding an organization’s unique vulnerabilities is the first step in cybersecurity readiness. A comprehensive risk assessment identifies potential threats and helps prioritize security measures.
  • Robust Policies and Procedures: Well-defined cybersecurity policies and procedures ensure everyone in the organization knows their responsibilities and how to respond to security incidents.
  • Incident Response Plan: A well-crafted incident response plan minimizes the impact of a cyberattack by outlining the steps to take when an incident occurs, and helping mitigate damage and prevent further breaches.
  • Security Technologies: Implementing a layered security approach with firewalls, intrusion detection systems, antivirus software, and encryption helps protect against a wide range of threats.
  • Regular Updates and Patch Management: Keeping software, operating systems, and applications up to date is crucial for plugging known vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit.
  • Continuous Monitoring: Real-time monitoring of network traffic and systems can help detect and respond to threats as they happen, reducing the time attackers have to wreak havoc.
  • Education and Training: Employees are often the weakest link in cybersecurity. Regular training and awareness programs can help staff recognize phishing attempts, social engineering tactics, and other common attack methods.

The Benefits of Cybersecurity Readiness

Investing in cybersecurity readiness is worthwhile, and offers several advantages:

  • Reduced Risk: By proactively identifying and mitigating threats, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of a successful cyberattack.
  • Protection of Reputation: Cyber incidents can damage an organization’s reputation. Being prepared and responding effectively can minimize the negative impact.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Many industries are subject to cybersecurity regulations and standards. Maintaining readiness helps organizations stay compliant and avoid legal consequences.
  • Cost Savings: Preventing cyber incidents is often more cost-effective than dealing with the aftermath. Readiness helps you to avoid the financial and reputational costs of data breaches.

Path Forward

To forge a path to a secure and resilient future, it’s imperative to embrace the mission of cybersecurity readiness without delay. The cost of inaction is simply too high, and the stakes too great. It’s essential to be prepared for the unforeseeable. By engaging with seasoned cybersecurity experts and professionals, and forming strategic alliances in this dynamic landscape, organizations can reinforce their digital frontier, ensuring a steadfast, secure future for their operations and upholding the trust of their esteemed customers.

This article was originally published in Forbes, please follow me on LinkedIn.

Spooky Stats

Cybersecurity might be the last thing on your mind as you are picking out costumes and candy, but cybercriminals are always lurking in the shadows, no matter what day it is. Here are some important statistics you should be aware of to help you better protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to cyberattacks this October (Cybersecurity Awareness Month)!

Hackers do not always give you an instant jump scare; they often remain hidden in the shadows. According to the Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021, it takes an average of 287 days to identify and contain a data breach.

A prime example of a hacker lurking unnoticed would be the SolarWinds ransomware attack. The IT and software management company that provides services to businesses and government agencies had a bad actor enter their IT infrastructure in September 2019 and went undiscovered until December 2020. Within the next year, more details were released about the situation. In January 2021, SolarWinds stated they would prioritize cybersecurity in the coming year, and they hired former Facebook and CISA security experts as consultants.

Ransomware is a form of malware (software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network) that encrypts a victim’s files, and an attacker demands ransom from the victim in order to regain access to their data. According to The State of Ransomware 2021 report , the average cost of ransomware recovery is $1.85 million.

“[Ransomware has] really changed the face of cybersecurity over the last couple years,” Director of Cyber Security Operations Christopher Houseknecht said. “We see it all the time in the news.”

Research from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) found that hackers will most commonly execute ransomware attacks through email phishing, Remote Desk Protocol (RDP) vulnerabilities, and software vulnerabilities. Email phishing is when an attacker tricks a user into revealing confidential information using false pretenses, often disguised as being from a person or business the receiver is familiar with. But underneath that familiar face is a cybercriminal waiting to steal your precious personal information.

According to the 2021 Business Email Compromise Report, the most common display names are company name (68%), individual’s name (66%), and a boss or manager’s name (53%). According CSO magazine, more than 80% of cyberattacks involve phishing.

“I received an email from ‘Emil Sayegh’, the CEO of Ntirety, asking me to buy him gift cards.”

No one is safe from these attacks. Just a few weeks after being hired, Ntirety Marketing Specialist Kori Ortiz almost fell victim to a phishing scam , but fortunately had the cybersecurity instincts to question the messages.

“I received an email from ‘Emil Sayegh’, the CEO of Ntirety, asking me to buy him gift cards,” Ortiz said. “I was confused as to why he would ask me this; which was the first red flag. Always trust your gut. If something feels like it’s not right, then it probably isn’t.”

In 2020, a record 86% of organizations were hit by a successful cyberattack, as stated in the  2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report. This is an alarmingly high percentage of people who have had their data snatched from them. There’s no trick here – we must all do our part to protect data. Everyday best practices are the first step, including not sharing passwords, creating strong passwords, and using caution when opening unfamiliar emails and links.

Cybercriminals are always disguising themselves to fool users into thinking they are safe to go about their usual business. With better caution and the help of cybersecurity professionals, these cybercriminals will receive more tricks than treats.

Our Cybersecurity Playbook explains the Five Aspects of Compliant Cybersecurity and gives you a chance to test your business’s cybersecurity posture against these five core components. Download it today and schedule an assessment with us today to learn more about ways that you can prevent potential threats.