Category Archives: technology

Security Predictions for 2016

As 2015 draws to a close, we asked the Advent IM Staff to ponder the challenges for next year. 2015 saw some huge data and security fumbles and millions of people had their personal information exposed as hack after hack revealed not only how much this activity is on the increase, but also how  the security posture of some businesses is clearly unfit for purpose.

Over to the team…

Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Dale Penn – I predict that with the recent introduction of Apple Pay and Google’s Android Pay we will see a large upswing in mobile device targeted attacks trying to get at our bank accounts.

Del Brazil – Attacks will be pushing in from the Siberian peninsular coupled with additional attacks from the orient- this will bring a chill to the spines of organisations.  These attacks are likely to be followed by sweeping phishing scams from the African continent.  There is also the likelihood that attacks towards HMG assets from Middle Eastern warm fronts will further identify/expose weaknesses within organisations. Closer to home is the ever increasing cold chill developing within organisations as the realisation that the threat from insiders is on the rise. In summary it’s going to be a mixed bag of events for a number of wide ranging organisations. However on the whole, as long as organisations grab their security blanket they will be best placed to ward off the majority of attacks.

Chris Cope – If 2015 saw a significant number of high profile information security breaches, then expect 2016 to be more of the same.  Attackers are getting cleverer at exploiting weaknesses; most notably those presented by people.  I confidently predict that a significant number of incidents in 2016 will feature poor security decisions made by employees.  I also predict a significant challenge for many organisation which hold personal data.  The forthcoming EU regulation on data protection will provide significant challenges on the protection of personal information of EU citizens.  With a significant increase in financial sanctions highly likely, the importance of safeguarding personal data has increased dramatically for any organisation, even those who were not challenged by the penalties previously awarded by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).  Could this be the start of a wider regulatory drive to improve information security – probably not, at least not yet. Finally, with continuing uncertainty across key areas of the globe, particularly the Middle East, we will also see more examples of ‘cyber warfare’ as this nascent capability continues to be exploited.  This will lead to a flurry of reports on how cyber war is about to doom us all or is irrelevant (depending on one’s viewpoint); surely an opportunity to educate the wider populace, and key decision makers, on what information security, and its potential consequences, could actually mean?

Mark Jones – I predict…

  • Cloud security becomes even more important as more and more businesses move services there – more demand for ISO27017
  • Related to the above, more Data Centre Security certifications due to contractor (customer) requirements
  • More BYOD-related security incidents with more mobile malware found on all platforms with China the main source – mobile payments being a prime target
  • Cyber Essentials leads to more demand for ISO27001 certifications from SMEs
  • Privileged insider remains the main Threat Source & Actor
  • More incidents relating to online cyber-extortion / ransomware
  • With increasing demand for infosec specialists and/or DPOs organisations will find it more difficult to recruit than ever
  • More incidents relating to the Internet of Things – smart devices such as drones falling out of the sky causing harm; more car computers hacked resulting in more car theft

Ellie Hurst – Media, and Marcomms Manager – I predict the growth of ransomware  in business.  Ransomware, is mainly (though not exclusively) spread by phishing and given the success of phishing as an attack vector and that one in four UK employees don’t even know what it is (OnePoll for PhishMe), I think it will continue to be the most likely form of ransomware proliferation. Of course, it can also be spread by use of inappropriate websites and so businesses that do not have, or enforce a policy or exercise restrictions in this area, will also find themselves victims of this cynical exploit.

A word from our Directors…

Julia McCarron

Julia McCarron – Advent IM Operations Director – I predict a RIOT – Risks from Information Orientated Threats.

 

 

Mike Gillespie_headshot

 

Mike Gillespie – Advent IM Managing Director – I predict an escalation in the number and severity of data breach in the coming year. Recent failures, such as TalkTalk, VTech and Wetherspoons highlight that many businesses still do not appreciate the value of the information assets they hold and manage. Business needs to increase self-awareness and looking at the Wetherspoons breach, ask the difficult question, “Should we still be holding this data?”

I think the buzz phrase for 2016 will be Information Asset Owners and if you want to know more about that, then you will have to keep an eye on what Advent IM is doing in 2016!

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Trident vulnerable to hacking?

By Julia McCarron with contribution from Chris Cope.

There have been a number of press stories in the last few days that could have us searching for our 3 pronged spears to protect these shores because, if the news is to be believed, the missile version of Trident could be rendered useless or obsolete from a cyber-hack.

I don’t know about you but I viewed these articles with some skepticism as I can’t believe that the MOD and Government haven’t thought to test the technical vulnerabilities of such a critical system before now, especially one with such far reaching consequences if it were breached?

As I understand it from those who have knowledge of MOD workings, all military systems, including Trident and its associated communications networks, are assured via the Defence Information Assurance Services (DIAS) Accreditors.  This assurance process takes into account the likely threats and resulting risks that apply to those systems, including hacking and other forms of cyber-attack.  There is a stringent policy of assessment and review for all major systems, and Trident will be one of the most assured systems due to its importance.  Clearly, though details of this assurance are highly unlikely to ever be released into the public domain; information on risks and counter measures taken against them will be very closely guarded. And I would hope so too!

The MOD will employ a number of safeguards to protect its most important systems.  Many of these will be familiar to the wider information security field and it’s no surprise that ISO27001 features heavily.  The greater the risks to the system, and the more critical it is, the more stringent the controls in place. Many high level MOD systems are effectively air-gapped and have no connection to the internet, even via a controlled gateway. That means they are effectively isolated from other communications networks, even the authorised users are heavily constrained in what they can and cannot do; use of mobile media for example is highly regulated.  Given Trident’s role as a potential counter-strike weapon, the communications to the deployed vessels receive very careful attention.  Not only will there be good level of assurance against the normal range of attacks, but there will be significant redundancy in place, just in case one fails.  Trident is carried by the Vanguard class submarine, which is designed to operate virtually undetected.  Commanders of these vessels have clear direction from the Prime Minister on what to do if there is evidence of a nuclear attack and all communication from the political leadership in the UK fails.

The comments made by a former Defence Secretary about potential vulnerabilities around the Trident system make interesting reading in light of recent concerns over cyber-attack, but the timing of these comments is telling. The House of Commons is due to vote on the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent … there I go being skeptical again but as my hero Leroy Jethro Gibbs often says, Rule 39# There’s no such thing as a coincidence…

Shellshock – what you need to know.

A post from Advent IM Consultant, Dale Penn

Shellshock what you need to know!

INTRODUCTION

First of all what is the Shellshock software bug? Shellshock (sometimes known as Bashdoor) is a group of security vulnerabilities which were found in the Unix Bash Shell.

That can be pretty confusing for the average user so here is a small break down.

Unix is a term used to describe any operating system that uses among other things shell scripting and resembles the “Unix Philosophy” the most common of which are Apple’s OS X and Linux operating systems.

BASH - Shellshock

Apple….other fruits are available

Shell is a user interface to an operating systems services.

Bash Shell is the default shell on Linux and Apple’s OS X operating systems.

THE VULNERABILITY

Bash is a shell that allows a user to input on Linux , Unix and Apple’s OS X operating systems. This can be achieved remotely using network protocols such as telnet and SSH which are protocols used to connect to remote servers in order to facilitate some sort of communications. Therefore this vulnerability can be exploited over a network!

Also this vulnerability requires no authorisation to exploit and could impact on the Confidentiality, integrity and availability of your information.

As such the US Department of Homeland Security have given Shellshock a 10 out of 10 in vulnerability severity (CVE-2014-6271 and CVE-2014-7169)

Chet Ramey a senior technology architect at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, has been maintaining the Bash open source project and believes Shellshock has been present in Bash for around 22 years and is due to a new feature introduced in 1992.

SO WHAT?

Shellshock was announced on the 24 Sep 2014 and within hours there were reports of machines being compromised using the Shellshock vulnerability.  These compromised machines were used by hackers to create botnets. Botnets are a network of compromised computers that can be controlled remotely by the hacker. Hackers can then use the botnet to carry out attacks. The most common of which is a Directed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack where the attacker uses the members of his botnet to make a request of a specific target. The aim being to flood the target with so many requests that the target is then unable to function properly.

On 26 Sep 2014 a botnet named “wopbot”, which was created using the Shellshock vulnerabilities, was reported to have been used to carry out a DDOS attack against Akamai Technologies and to scan the United States Department of Defence!

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Home/Office Computers

If you are using Microsoft home or office operating systems then you do not need to do anything as this vulnerability does not affect Microsoft.  However if you are running Unix, Linux or Apple’s OS X you need to download and apply the latest patches without delay! Patches have been made available by several suppliers to remediate this vulnerability.

Mobile Devices

It is not believed that iOS or android is vulnerable to the Shellshock attack however mobile devices can be vulnerable if you have customised your device (Jail broken your Apple device or use customised ROM’s on an android device). If you customised your device than you should consider carrying out the following: 

  • For an Jail broken apple device there is an updated version of Bash available on Cydia
  • If you are using customised ROM’s on your android device the XDA developers site has a link to an updated Bash shell (4.3.30)

Other Devices

Do not forget that many household items also connect to the internet I one form or another. It is important to keep these updated also to ensure your information the best protection. Instructions on how to carry this out will come with your product instruction manual and should be relatively straight forward.