Saturday Security Spotlight: Cyberwarfare and Cryptocurrency

By Jacob Serpa, Product Marketing Manager, Bitglass

Here are the top cybersecurity stories of recent weeks:

—Cyberattacks deemed a top threat to society
—Hackers target data around the world
—Poor app designs threaten countries’ infrastructure
—Olympic Committee emails leaked by hackers
—Half of UK firms fail to secure cloud
—WiFi can be hacked to mine cryptocurrency

Cyberattacks deemed a top threat to society
The World Economic forum recently released a report detailing the top threats to society. Cybersecurity concerns like cyberwarfare landed within the top three. The fact that these threats were paired with the likes of natural disasters highlights the growing dangers of our cloud-first society and serves as a reminder that organizations everywhere should adopt next-gen security solutions.

Hackers target data around the world
Dark Caracal, a cyberespionage group, has recently been linked to an extensive list of cybercrimes. In over twenty-one countries, the group used Pallas, its custom mobile spyware, to steal data from the mobile devices of healthcare workers, lawyers, reporters, members of the armed forces, and more.

Poor app designs threaten countries’ infrastructure
Mobile applications used for critical infrastructure (water, electricity, etc.) are reported to contain numerous vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious parties. These SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) applications are often designed without adequate consideration for security, leaving nations vulnerable to attack.

Olympic Committee emails leaked by hackers
Self-proclaimed hacktivist group, Fancy Bears, has leaked email correspondences from within the International Olympic Committee (IOC). While the group claims to hold honorable intentions, their leaking of athlete medical records is believed to be a response to Russia’s ban from the 2018 Winter Games.

Half of UK firms fail to secure cloud
A recent research report uncovered that only half of UK companies have security policies around data in the cloud. These statistics are particularly worrying in light of the approaching General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Public WiFi can be hacked to mine cryptocurrency
A new study, CoffeeMiner, details how public WiFi networks can be used to mine cryptocurrency through connected devices. The research demonstrates the dangers of public WiFi for both individuals and their employers.

Cybersecurity threats are constantly spreading and evolving. To learn about cloud access security brokers, solutions that protect data in the cloud, download the Definitive Guide to CASBs.

Download the Definitive Guide to CASBs

Nine Myths of Account Takeover

By Dylan Press, Director of Marketing, Avanan

Account takeover attacks are a nearly invisible tactic for conducting cyber espionage. Because these breaches can take months or years to detect, we are slowly discovering that this attack vector is much more common than we thought. The more we learn about new methodologies, the more we realize just how misunderstood account takeover attacks can be. Many of the common myths about account takeover attacks are making it easier for the attackers to continue undetected, which is why we feel obligated to debunk them.

What Is an Account Takeover Attack?

Account takeover is a strategy used by attackers to silently embed themselves within an organization to slowly gain additional access or infiltrate new organizations. While ransomware and other destructive attacks immediately make the headlines, a compromised account may remain undiscovered for months, years or not at all. (See the Verizon 2017 Data Breach Report graph.)

On average we find at least one compromised account in half of our new installs, oftentimes finding that they have been there for months. We hope this blog can provide a better understanding of how they work and how to defend against them.

Scan your own account for an historical breach.

Myth 1: I’ve installed the latest antivirus software. I’m safe.

Reality: Account takeover attacks seldom use malware or malicious links.

You may have the latest patches. You might have the latest URL filters. You might have installed an MTA mail gateway to scan every message. None of these, however, would have detected the most common attacks of 2017. Few, if any, used an attachment or malicious link. Instead they relied upon convincing a user to authorize an app or share credentials via an otherwise legitimate site. Account takeover attacks do not want to infect a desktop or steal a bank account’s routing number. They seek only to gain access to a legitimate user’s account for as long as possible. Step one in their methodology is to avoid detection by the most common tools.

Myth 2: We’ve all had security training. Attacks are obvious.

Reality: User training is not enough to defend against targeted attacks.

Everyone would like to believe that they are smart enough to notice an attack before they are compromised, but even the most vigilant user would miss the more recent strategies. A CISO once called user training an “attack signature that gets updated once a year.” While you may be able to identify the traits of an older method, new, more sophisticated techniques are developed every day. It is no longer enough to look for misspelled words or bad grammar. They are now highly personalized, well timed and sent in moderation. It is easy to forget that attackers read the same best practice documents you read, and use them as their checklist of things to evade.

Myth 3: An account takeover always starts with an email.

Reality: Attackers are starting to use other collaboration tools.

As organizations are moving away from email to Slack, Teams, and Chatter for internal collaboration, so are the attackers. Your employees are naturally wary of messages that come by email, but they seldom transfer that suspicion to internal messaging tools. While only 12 percent of employees might be likely to click on a malicious email, more than half would click on the same message when it arrives via internal Slack chat from a ‘trusted’ user. While there are dozens of tools to monitor and protect user email, these internal tools typically have no phishing or malware protection at all.

Scan your own account for an historical phishing attack.

Myth 4: Account takeover always starts with a phishing message.

Reality: Hackers can get your credentials without a phishing attack.

Although phishing messages are the most common way for hackers to gain access to an account, they are far from the only method. Large, third-party data leaks like Yahoo and LinkedIn have created a market for hackers to exchange stolen passwords. Even Post-It Notes are not safe from online distributionA breach might include passwords for one service that employees have re-used on corporate accounts. Even a breach that doesn’t include raw credentials might include the personal information (street address, high school, mother’s maiden name) that make it possible for attackers to gain temporary access by requesting a password change. The Equifax breach probably contains more personal information than the average person even knows about themself. Although anti-phishing security is important, it is only one part of the equation when it comes to defending against account takeover.

Myth 5: I would notice right away if my account was compromised.

Reality: Account takeovers are specifically designed to evade detection.

Although it may seem like you would have to be blind to not notice a second user in your email inbox, hackers have become incredibly adept at navigating and using compromised accounts without detection. Tactics like the alternate inbox method, in which the attacker uses hidden and unchecked trash folders as their inbox, can make even the most active attacker invisible to the account’s rightful owner. When your account is compromised, you will likely never notice anything out of the ordinary.

Myth 6: The hacker will log in from a suspicious location.

Reality: Hackers can appear to log in from anywhere.

If a hacker is regularly logging into your account, wouldn’t their location raise a flag? It is reasonable to assume that to detect a compromised account, you just need to keep an eye out for suspicious locations in your account history. Unfortunately, publicly available VPNS are an easy way to avoid this obvious giveaway. A competent hacker based in North Korea can appear to be from an IP address in your own town, looking as benign as a login from your local CoffeeCafe. If they’ve already compromised another victim, they could even stage their attack from a partner’s network.

Myth 7: Changing my password will get rid of them.

Reality: Hackers can continue to access your account without a password.

Many cyber-security best-practices guides will advise you to change your password if your account is compromised. The first step in most attacks, however, includes creating a secondary back door so they can avoid using the primary login. For example, they may install malicious cloud applications that provide full rights to the account. These API-based connections use their own, permanent tokens that must be individually revoked and often never get logged. Or they may create rules to forward and redirect messages through the account without the need to log in again. Even if you change your password or turn on multi-factor authentication within seconds of a breach, they may no longer have need of your password.

Scan your own account for an historical breach.

Myth 8: I’m not “important” enough to be valuable to an attacker.

Reality: Every employee’s account is useful to a hacker.

It can be comforting to think that cyber security is only a concern for executives or employees with high levels of access to sensitive company data. Typically, however, the initial account takeover breach is imprecise and opportunistic. The initial goal of the hacker is to simply get access to any internal account. Once they have access, they take advantage of internal trust relationships to move from employee to employee until they find the sensitive data they need. A user doesn’t need to be high up or have a high level of access to serve as a hub for a hacker to base their operations. In fact, lower level employees are often under less scrutiny and can serve as a better vessel to use and remain undetected.

Myth 9: Our company is not worth targeting.

Reality: Your company can be used to attack your customers and partners.

If your company has customers, their employees will likely trust yours. If your company has providers, it could serve as the attacker’s way in. Although the hacks of major financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies make the headlines, hundreds of small ‘invisible’ companies in niche industries are attacked every day. Because smaller companies typically do not have the security staff of the larger firms, they can be an easy path into a much more lucrative target.

Cloud App Encryption and CASB


By Kyle Watson, Partner/Information Security, Cedrus Digital

man staring at bulletin boardMany organizations are implementing Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) technology to protect critical corporate data stored within cloud apps. Amongst many other preventative and detective controls, a key feature of CASBs is the ability to encrypt data stored within cloud apps. At the highest level, the concept is quite simple – data flowing out of the organization is encrypted, as it is stored in the cloud. However, in practice there are nuances in the configuration options that may have impact on how you implement encryption in the cloud. This article outlines important architectural decisions to be made prior to the implementation of encryption solutions through a CASB.

Gateway Delivered, Bring Your Own Key (BYOK), or Vendor Encryption

There are three generic methods in cloud-based encryption.

Gateway delivered encryption – In this model, the CASB may integrate with your organization’s existing key management solution through Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) or provide a cloud-based key management solution. In either case, the keys used to encrypt your data never leave your CASB.

  • Data is encrypted before it leaves your environment and is stored at the vendor
  • You control the keys
  • The vendor retains no capability to access your data

BYOK encryption – In this model, the keys are generated and managed by your organization, and then are supplied to the vendor. BYOK allows you to manage the lifecycle of the keys, which are then shared with the vendor. This includes revoking and rotating keys. The keys are then provided to and utilized by the vendor to decrypt requested data for use by authorized users. CASB can be involved as a broker of the keys to simplify, centralize, and streamline the process of key management by allowing you to perform this administration directly in the CASB User Interface (UI). This also may be done using KMIP with your existing key management solution. Alternatively, without a CASB you may still enjoy the benefits of encryption with your own keys, but administration would be manual on an app-by-app basis.

  • Data is encrypted at the vendor
  • You can control the keys
  • The vendor retains the capability to access your data

Vendor provided encryption – In this model, the vendor provides keys and key management. The administration may be provided through user interfaces provided by the vendor. The CASB is not involved.

  • Data is encrypted at the vendor
  • The vendor controls the keys
  • The vendor retains the capability to access your data

Important Considerations

There is not a “best” way to manage encryption for cloud apps. One important consideration for you to make the best decisions for your company begins with your motivation. Is your primary concern compliance, mitigating risk of vendor compromise, protecting data from being disclosed in blind subpoenas, all three?

  • Compliance – Encryption for compliance can be met easily by any of the three approaches, and is simplest with vendor provided encryption.
  • Mitigating risk of vendor compromise – Using encryption to mitigate the risk of vendor compromise implies the need to manage your own key, since your data will not be accessible without the key. Gateway delivered encryption is the approach that can provide the highest level of risk mitigation due to vendor compromise, as your keys never leave your environment. Cyber- attackers stealing your data will not be able to decrypt it without using your key or breaking your encryption. Risk may also be mitigated through BYOK, but agreements must be secured from the vendor to communicate breaches in a timely fashion. Then you must take appropriate revocation actions in your key management process.
  • Protecting data from being disclosed in subpoenas / blind subpoenas – Using encryption to protect data from being disclosed in subpoenas also implies the need to manage your own key. Gateway delivered encryption is the approach that can provide the highest level of risk mitigation from blind subpoena through a completely technical means, as third parties retrieving your data will not be able to decrypt it without your key. Risk may also be mitigated through BYOK, but agreements must be secured from the vendor to communicate third-party requests for your data in a timely fashion. Then you must take appropriate revocation actions in your key management process.

Unstructured and Structured Data

To further explain these approaches we must break out two very different types of data prevalent in the cloud: Unstructured and structured data. Unstructured data refers to data generated and stored as unique files and is typically served through end user apps, for example, Microsoft Word documents. Structured data refers to data that conforms to a data model and is typically served through relational databases and User Interfaces (UI), for example, Salesforce UI.

Structured Data

  • Gateway delivered encryption – Since the CASB sits between your end user and the application, structured data can represent a challenge to usability. From a usability perspective, whenever the application vendor changes field structures, the encryption must be addressed in order to maintain usability. From a security perspective, the app must decrypt and reveal some information in order to allow search, sort, and type-ahead fields to work properly in a cloud app UI. This is known as “Format Preserving”, “Order Preserving”, and “Order Revealing” encryption, which can lower the overall standard. A growing body of research is challenging this method and exposing weaknesses that may lead to compromise. For example, if you were to type “JO” in a field and it revealed all of the persons with names beginning with JO, this data has to be retrieved decrypted to support the UI.
  • BYOK encryption – since you supply the keys to the vendor, encryption/decryption occurs within the vendor application architecture. This reduces the risk of usability problems when using encryption, because the decryption happens under vendor control. From a security perspective, BYOK does not suffer from the same risk of compromise in “reveal”, as exists in gateway delivered encryption.
  • Vendor provided encryption – Since the vendor owns the keys, encryption/decryption occurs within the vendor application architecture. This reduces the risk of usability problems when using encryption, because the decryption happens under vendor control. From a security perspective, vendor provided encryption does not suffer from the same risk of compromise in “reveal”, as exists in gateway delivered encryption.

Unstructured Data

  • Gateway delivered encryption – Risk of usability problems is low on unstructured data in cloud storage. However, an important consideration is key rotation. Data encrypted under one set of keys can only be opened with those keys. Keys may need to remain available in archive, for reads, even if they have been retired.
  • BYOK encryption – Since the keys are supplied to the vendor, encryption/decryption occurs within the vendor application architecture as does key rotation and management.
  • Vendor provided encryption – Since the vendor owns the keys, encryption/decryption occurs within the vendor application architecture. This reduces the risk of usability problems when using encryption, because the decryption happens under vendor control. Key management processes will be dependent upon the vendor.

Industry Direction

Most major cloud vendors are moving toward the support of a BYOK model. Some of these include Salesforce, ServiceNow, Box, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure to name a few. As more and more vendors are offering this type of capability, at Cedrus we believe that this is the direction of cloud encryption.


  • Gateway delivered encryption – This is the highest level of security that can be provided when it comes to cloud app encryption, but may have an impact to the business in usability issues, especially when applied to structured data. High-risk apps and data are safest in this configuration and require the most care and feeding.
  • BYOK encryption – This implementation can provide a very high level of security without the impact that comes with gateway encryption. Through integration with a CASB as a broker of keys to centralize this management, this solution provides an excellent balance between protection and usability for high-risk apps and data.
  • Vendor provided encryption – This implementation provides a much higher level of security than not implementing encryption. This solution may be best suited for apps and data of lower criticality or meeting compliance requirements, only.


As with all security decisions, risk and compliance must be the yardstick in any decision. Since we do not know the industry, application, or risk to your business; this is a generic recommendation.

Where possible, always leverage your own keys over vendor-provided keys. Remember, a breach into a lower-risk app may provide clues to breach other apps.

When provided as an option, the best trade-off between security and usability is BYOK. It is very important to gain agreement from vendors for proactive communication. Where BYOK is not offered, the risks must be weighed carefully between vendor provided and gateway delivered encryption, especially for structured data.

When considering a move to gateway encryption, risk analysis of the app and data are critical. The risk of compromise should be clear and present danger. This is because a decision to move to gateway encryption for structured data means a commitment to the management and maintenance at a much higher level than BYOK or vendor provided encryption. This is not a recommendation against taking this course, but advice to consider this path carefully and plan the resources necessary to maintain this type of implementation. In a recent exchange with a customer they articulated the challenge: “We use CASB to provide field level encryption for our Salesforce instance. There are many issues requiring a lot of support and we have plans to move away from it and leverage encryption that is part of the Salesforce platform.”

Saturday Morning Security Spotlight: Breaches and Intel

By Jacob Serpa, Product Marketing Manager, Bitglass

man reading cybersecurity newpaper headlines while eating breakfastHere are the top cybersecurity stories of recent weeks:

—Data on 123 million US households leaked
—Tech giants investing in healthcare technology
—Intel chips contain security vulnerability
—DHS suffers breach of over 247,000 records
—Forever 21 finds malware in PoS systems

Data on 123 million US households leaked
Alteryx, an analytics firm, was found to have an AWS misconfiguration that exposed the personal data of 123 million US households. This was the largest such leak to date. While it is unclear how much the data was actually accessed by malicious parties, it remained publicly available for a number of months.

Tech giants investing in healthcare technology
Large technology companies are beginning to focus their time and energy on healthcare. As the industry is large, growing, and profitable, organizations like Google, Apple, and Microsoft are investing in technologies that will help them to serve healthcare providers (and their customers) in innovative ways.

Intel chips found to contain security vulnerability
Intel’s chip-level technology (spanning the last two decades) was found to contain a vulnerability that exposes sensitive information to hackers. Passwords, encryption keys, and more can be taken from affected computers’ kernels. Obviously, this discovery has massive security ramifications.

DHS suffers breach of over 247,000 records
The Department of Homeland Security experienced an unauthorized data transfer that leaked over 247,000 records. The breach (which was caused internally rather than by an external hacker) exposed the personally identifiable information (PII) of many current and former employees; for example, their Social Security numbers.

Forever 21 finds malware in PoS systems
Point-of-sale devices at retailer Forever 21 were used by hackers to install malware and gain access to the company’s network. While not all PoS systems were infected, the culprits still gained access to the credit card information of many customers. The extent of the malware infection and data theft are not yet known.

Whether it’s breaches, leaks, malware, or anything else, these news stories highlight the importance of cybersecurity. Organizations must adopt complete security solutions in order to protect their data. To learn about cloud access security brokers, download the Definitive Guide to CASBs.

GDPR and the Art of Applying Common Sense

By Daniele Catteddu, Chief Technology Officer , Cloud Security Alliance

On November 21, the CSA released the Code of Conduct for GDPR Compliance. This new document is part of CSA’s continuous effort to support the community with best practices that will help cloud providers and customers alike face the tremendous challenge of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance.

Our code has been officially submitted to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK Data Protection Authority, for its review, as well as to all the other European Data Protection Authorities (DPAs). We are confident that we’ll receive positive feedback that will allow CSA to proceed with the final submission to the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) and European Commission for their endorsement.

GDPR, as many have already commented, represents a substantial change in the privacy and security landscape. It will affect every business sector, and cloud computing won’t be exempt. GDPR imposes on companies doing business in Europe a set of new obligations, but perhaps most importantly it demands a change in attitude vis-a-vis the way organizations handle personal data.

The GDPR requests that companies take a new approach to privacy and security and be good stewards of the data that is entrusted to them. Further, they are being asked to demonstrate accountability and transparency. In theory, this shouldn’t be a big shock to anyone since the principles of accountability, responsibility and transparency are meant to be the basic foundations of any company’s corporate code of ethics. Unfortunately, we have realized that not all of the companies out there have been applying these principles of common sense in a consistent manner.

Perhaps the biggest change that GDPR is imposing is related to the stricter approach to the enforcement of the rules that regulators have taken.

But perhaps the biggest change that GDPR is imposing is related to the stricter approach to the enforcement of the rules that regulators have taken. The fines that will be imposed for non-compliance definitely reflect a punitive logic. Fines will be substantial and are meant to be a deterrent to those organizations looking for short cuts.

In such a context, we are all noticing a crazy rush to GDPR compliance, with countdowns all over the internet reminding us how quickly the May 25 deadline is approaching.

So just in case you weren’t confused enough on how to tackle GDPR compliance, you can be even more stressed about it.

A cultural change doesn’t happen overnight though. The radically new attitude requested by GDPR and the related updates to policies and procedures can’t possibly be defined, tested and implemented in one day. Those familiar with the management of corporate governance are well aware of how lengthy and expensive the process of changing the internal rules and approaches can be. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and likewise this privacy revolution won’t magically happen one minute past midnight on May 25.

Given the magnitude of the effort requested by GDPR compliance, both in terms of cultural change and money, it is unlikely that all of the organizations, especially small- and medium-sized companies and public administrations, will be able to meet the May deadline.

My bet is that given the magnitude of the effort requested by GDPR compliance, both in terms of cultural change and money, it is unlikely that all of the organizations, especially small- and medium-sized companies and public administrations, will be able to meet the May deadline.

This is because beside the objective difficulty of the task there are still some provisions and requirements to be clarified, for instance, the Data Breach Notification (the WP29 is working on it). Moreover, there are some known and some hidden problems. For example, the tension between data back up and data deletion that will manifest itself when the new rules are put into practice.

To complicate matters further, in the period leading up to May 25, companies will still need to do business and sign contracts that in the majority of cases aren’t GDPR-ready, and it is likely that a supplemental effort will be requested for a retrofitting compliance exercise.

It will take time to achieve 100-percent compliance and in some cases, even that won’t be entirely possible.

None of above is an excuse for not working hard to achieve compliance, but rather to say that it will take time to achieve 100-percent compliance and in some cases, even that won’t be entirely possible.

What to do? I’d personally look at the GDPR compliance project as a journey that has already started and won’t finish in May. I’d focus on defining the policies and procedures for GDPR compliance, and I’d start implementing them. I’d base my new approach, as much as possible, on standards and best practices. That typically provides me with a good direction. Perhaps standards won’t be the ideal route for me, but that’s not important since to find the ideal route some correction to the general trajectory is always required.

Standards will assure me that the approach I’m using and the policy I’m defining are likely to be understood by my business partners. Policy interoperability between the cloud service provider and the customer is a fundamental requirement for a sound cloud governance approach, and it will be a key requirement for a successful GDPR compliance journey.

So, adoption of standards, policy interoperability, and what else? Well, transparency of course.

I’d aim for transparency within my organization, and I’d seek out transparency in my business partners. If I want to be a proper steward of data, if I want to make proper risk decisions, if I need to implement accountability, then I need to rely on data, evidence, and facts, which means that I need to work with partners that are willing to collaborate with me and be transparent.

And what if I won’t be 100-percent ready by May? I’d make sure I’m documenting all the actions taken in order to build and implement my GDPR compliance framework. This will help me provide evidence of my strategy, my good faith, my direction, and my final goal for the regulators. After all, the law is not demanding perfect privacy and security, it’s asking for a risk-based approach to privacy.

I recommend that everyone reading this post seriously consider the adoption of the CSA Code of Conduct for GDPR compliance in association with our Cloud Control Matrix (or any equivalent information security best practice). Those are the free standards we offer the community members for supporting their GDPR compliance journey.



Your Top Three Cloud Security Resolutions for 2018 Categories: Blog, Cloud Security

By  Doug Lane, Vice President/Product Marketing, Vaultive

With 2017 behind us, it’s time to prepare your IT strategy and goals for the new year. There is a good chance that, if you aren’t using the cloud already, there’s a cloud services migration in store for your organization this year. No matter where you are on your cloud adoption timeline, here are three steps IT security teams and business leaders can take today to kick-off 2018 with a strong cloud security position:

Take Inventory
It’s critical to understand what data your company is collecting from customers, prospects, and employees and how it’s being processed by your organization. Mapping out how sensitive information flows through your organization today will give you a clear idea of where to focus your security efforts and investments. It also gives you the opportunity to delete data or processes that may be redundant or no longer necessary, which will reduce your overall risk and save resources long-term.

Secure Sensitive Data and Materials
Once you’ve identified potentially sensitive information and the services processing it, there are several measures you can put in place protect data. Some of the most common and effective controls include:

  • Encryption: The first option for protecting sensitive information is to encrypt data before it ever flows out of your environment and into the cloud. While many cloud providers offer encryption using bring your own key (BYOK) features, the provider will still require access to the key in some form, continuing to put your data at risk for insider threats and blind subpoenas. Organizations that choose to encrypt cloud data should seek a solution; even it means approaching a third-party, that allows them sole control and access to the encryption keys.
  • Data Loss Protection (DLP): Another common data protection measure includes implementing DLP in your environment. By inspecting cloud computing activities and detecting the transmission of certain types of information, an organization can prevent them from ever being stored in the cloud. This approach ensures sensitive data, particularly personally identifiable information (PII), never leaves the premises or your IT security team’s control.
  • Privilege & Access Control: While many organizations have used privilege management and access control as a practical on-premises security strategy for years, few have applied them to their cloud environments. In many cloud services, administrator roles can mean unlimited access and functionality. In addition to severely increased risk if an administrator goes rogue, this can lead to downtime and critical configuration errors in a few clicks. IT teams should seek to limit user access and functionality within a cloud service to only what they need to be productive.
    Supplementary to limiting access based on user identity, IT teams should also consider blocking activity or requiring additional approval in certain contexts, such when a user logs in from an odd or new location, an out of date browser is detected, or a highly sensitive transaction is executed (e.g., bulk export of files).
  • Enforce Two-Factor & Step-Up Authentication: Even if user access and privileges are limited in scope, an unauthorized party making use of compromised credentials is still a risk. It’s important to have an additional layer of security in place to ensure the user at the endpoint is genuinely who their credentials claim them to be. Configuring your cloud services to require re-authentication or step-up authentication with your preferred identity and access management (IAM) vendor based on criteria you select is an effective strategy.

Prepare a Breach Notification Plan
Finally, while many companies last year, such has Yahoo and Equifax, opted for an extended period of silence to investigate and strategize how they would communicate a detected breach, the public and regulators are quickly losing patience for this sort of behavior from companies. In fact, new regulations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation are now placing requirements and time limits around data breach notifications with hefty penalties for non-compliance.

Though a strong security strategy can reduce the risk of a significant data breach, businesses should have a plan of action if the worst should happen. Identify who in your organization should be notified and sketch out a general response.

Let’s make 2018 the year we’re accountable and prepared when it comes to data privacy and security in the cloud.

Cloud Access Security Brokers: Past, Present, and Future

By Jacob Serpa, Product Marketing Manager, Bitglass

Leading cloud access security brokers (CASBs) currently provide data protection, threat protection, identity management, and visibility. However, this has not always been the case.  Since the inception of the CASB market, cloud access security brokers have offered a variety of tools and undergone a number of evolutions. For organizations to ensure that they are adopting the correct solutions and adequately protecting their data, they must understand the past, present, and future of CASBs.

Agents and APIs
CASBs were originally used primarily for discovery capabilities. Through agents installed on users’ devices, CASBs would give organizations information about the unsanctioned cloud applications that were being used to store and process corporate data. Additionally, integrations with application programming interfaces (APIs) were used to exert control over data at rest within sanctioned cloud apps. However, these strategies provided little help with securing unmanaged devices and protecting data at access in real time.

To address the shortcomings of agents and APIs, CASBs with proxies were used to, as the name implies, proxy traffic. By standing between devices and cloud applications, proxies control the flow of data in real time and provide controls to govern data access based on factors like job function. Because proxies take a data-centric approach rather than a device-centric approach, they are even able to secure unmanaged and mobile device access – without the use of agents.

Hybrid Architectures
Today, leading CASBs utilize a hybrid or multimode architecture. This means that they offer a combination of proxies and API integrations. In this way, they are able to provide complete protection – APIs secure data at rest in cloud applications, while proxies monitor data at access even for unmanaged and mobile devices. When deployed together, these tools provide advanced capabilities such as malware protection for data at upload, data at download, and data at rest within cloud applications.

Machine Learning
The future of security belongs to artifical intelligence (AI). As such, machine learning is already a core component of advanced CASBs like Bitglass. In general, machine learning allows CASBs to make more automated, effective, rapid security decisions than ever before. For example, with user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA), they can recognize suspicious behaviors (logging in to cloud apps from two places at once or downloading unusual amounts of data) and remediate in real time. They can also evaluate unsanctioned apps as they are accessed by employees to determine if they are safe and impose controls around the uploading of data.

To learn more, watch “The Evolution of CASBs,” or download the Definitive Guide to Cloud Access Security Brokers.

The Stakes for Protecting Personally Identifiable Information Will Be Higher in 2018

By  Doug Lane, Vice President/Product Marketing, Vaultive

While it’s tough to predict what the most significant single threat of 2018 will be, it’s safe to say that 2017 was certainly a wake-up call for both businesses and consumers when it comes to data breaches. From the rampant misconfiguration of Amazon S3 data buckets to stolen email credentials, the number of breaches and amount of personal data leaked to unauthorized parties in 2017 was staggering. However, one case stands above the rest as particularly damaging to all parties involved.

In July of this year Equifax, one of the leading U.S.-based credit bureaus, reported that the personal information of more than 143 million U.S. customers was accessed when an unauthorized party exploited an application vulnerability at their organization. The data exposed in the Equifax incident is more severe than other breaches because of the type of information that was stolen. Once a criminal has your birth date, social security number, etc., and has used it for illicit purposes, it is incredibly difficult to recover your personally identifiable information (PII).

It’s also naïve to assume that the data stolen from Equifax will not be exploited in some way. Not only can that information be abused to commit identity theft under the impacted parties’ names, and we certainly expect to start seeing more of those incidents in 2018, but we also predict it will be abused to access existing user accounts with other services. Much of the ‘permanent data’ that was stolen during the July Equifax incident also happens to be just the sort of information used as secondary authentication for many of our everyday accounts. Think of how many times the ‘last four of your social’ was used to identify you with your card company or at your doctor’s office this year.

Rightfully, the breach was met with a flurry of media and consumer attention and outrage. Equifax’s stock fell by 33 percent in the days following their announcement, and they were a regular headline for several news cycles. In the aftermath, the credit reporting firm found itself the subject of numerous investigations, the resignation of many executive leaders, and more than 240 class action lawsuits.

Evolving Data Regulations
Additionally, new global laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect May 25, 2018, will further raise the stakes and fines of future breaches. The law will enforce data protection and cybersecurity with a new set of stringent regulations and unprecedented penalties. If the Equifax breach occurred under GDPR, Equifax would have faced additional legal claims and penalties.

With recent events and emerging regulations, organizations and IT security teams who don’t prioritize data security on-premises or in the cloud will find themselves writing some very expensive checks, or worse, closing their doors altogether because of steep fines and liability.

In her recent article GDPR: True Cost of Compliance Far Less Than Non-Compliance, Tara Seals from Infosecuritymagazine reported that the cost of non-compliance, with EU GDPR and other data privacy regulations is quickly rising, “…costs widely vary based on the amount of sensitive or confidential information a particular industry handles and is required to secure. That said, the average cost of compliance increased 43% from 2011, and totals around $5.47 million annually.”

Unfortunately, simply sticking your head in the sand and hoping for the best isn’t a good plan either. The EU GDPR requires organizations to notify regulators of a breach promptly. Many industry leaders have speculated that regulators are keen to make examples of both European and overseas businesses for any instance of non-compliance.  So, watch out American companies, you aren’t exempt.

In another InfoSecurity article, Matt Fisher provides a warning and some very sound advice for those subject to the EU GDPR:

“The deadline of May 2018 is only the beginning, not the end. Policy makers are already under monumental pressure to smoke out prosecutable cases in the aftermath of the regulation’s implementation. As an organization, if you cannot complete your GDPR project in time for the deadline, taking firm steps to indicate ‘best efforts’ are vital to make your organization a far less attractive target”

Don’t Forget About the Cloud
In a recent Forbes article summarizing Forrester’s 2018 cloud predictions, it was estimated that “the total global public cloud market will be $178B in 2018, up from $146B in 2017, and will continue to grow at a 22% compound annual growth rate.”

It’s undeniable that this growth will mean more data flowing into IT-sanctioned applications. Because of this, it’s critical for organizations to take the necessary steps to ensure unified data security and governance in their environment, both on-premises and in the cloud.

Increased government involvement and consumer awareness, combined with the potential for financial and reputation damage Equifax and others have suffered, will drive a renewed focus on data protection in the cloud computing space during 2018.