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Research Roundup: Cybersecurity Awareness Month edition

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 10/13/2021
Blog Category: cloud-and-data-centers

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Celebrate with our tech provider’s roundup of the latest cybersecurity research.

Sure, every month requires cybersecurity awareness. But the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency has declared this October to be its 18th Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

CISA, a private-sector/public-sector partnership, says the month’s goal is to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, and to ensure that all Americans have the resources needed to stay safe and secure online.

With that in mind, here’s your roundup of the latest surveys and research on cybersecurity.

Changing face of cybercrime

We’re told that cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated, widespread and dangerous. But is that really true?

To find out, Microsoft investigated more than 24 trillion daily security signals across its cloud, endpoints and intelligent edge. The company also consulted with more than 8,500 security experts worldwide on topics including malware, ransomware and more.

The result of all this work is the new 2021 Microsoft Digital Defense Report. It’s over 130 pages long, so you might like some of the high points:

> Cybercrime is increasingly organized: The cybercrime supply chain (yes, there is one) is consolidating and maturing. In the past, criminals had to develop their own technology. Today, they can instead turn to cybercrime specialists for kits and services.

> Compromised credentials have become a commodity: Would-be attackers can purchase stolen credentials for as little as $1 per. These credentials have been harvested by phishing campaigns, botnet log scraping and other illegal tactics.

> Increasingly sophisticated attack services are now available for purchase. These include cryptocurrency escrow services. A nontechnical criminal can sign up with a ransomware affiliate and, in exchange for 30% of whatever ransom they collect, be supplied with ransomware, recovery services and payment services.

> The market for cybercrime services has gone global. “A buyer in Brazil,” the report explains, “can obtain phishing kits from a seller in Pakistan, domains from the United States, victim lists from Nigeria, and proxies from Romania.”

5 new ransomware trends

Like the Covid virus, ransomware can mutate into increasingly dangerous variants. In a report released today, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, an insurance and risk-consulting company, has identified 5 new ransomware trends:

> Ransomware as a Service: In this scenario, hacker groups sell or rent their attack tools to others, much the way cloud providers rent their servers and storage capacity to others. In the case of RaaS, the hackers also offer support services, lowering the cost of entry into the world of ransomware crime.

> Triple extortion: Ransomware attackers have already doubled up their attacks by combining their initial encryption of a victim’s data with threats to release personal data. Now they’re adding a third element by combining those with DDoS attacks.

> Supply chain attacks: Attackers have set their sights on supply-chain companies. Why? Because they serve hundreds or even thousands of other companies, making them more likely than others to pay a high ransom.

> Ransom dynamics: The amounts being demanded by ransomware attackers are way, way up. In the U.S., the average ransom demand is now $5.3 million, up more than 5 times from the average just a year ago.

> To pay, or not to pay? It’s a complicated question. On the one hand, paying the ransom may encourage criminals to attack again. On the other, even after paying the ransom, a company may have already suffered quite a bit of damage to both its business and reputation. And even with the encryption key, restoring systems is a long, tedious process.

Privacy in the ‘new normal’

With so many people working from home, how is privacy affected by this “new normal”?

Ponemon Institute, with support from 3M, endeavored to find out. They surveyed 564 IT and IT security managers, and 617 business managers — all based in the United States, and all working for organizations that have required employees to work remotely due to the pandemic.

Ponemon recently released the findings to the public, and here are some highlights:

> Organizations believe they’re losing control over the security of confidential data. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) say it’s easier to protect data when workers are in the office.

> Nearly two-thirds of IT and cybersec managers (64%) say they’re very concerned that prying eyes will see sensitive information on the screens of remote workers.

> Only about half of organizations (51%) protect company-issued devices with up-to-date antivirus, encryption and firewalls.

> The technologies most often used to improve an organization’s security and privacy posture are: incidence response (cited by 62% of respondents), anti-virus/anti-malware (59%), big data analytics for cybersecurity (56%), and identity management and authentication (53%).

> Nearly half the respondents (47%) say they’d like to come back to the office. But about the same percentage (49%) expect their organizations will require them to continue working remotely.

Happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Now talk to your customers about their cybersecurity and privacy. If they’re anything like the respondents to these surveys, chances are good their cybersec resources could be a whole lot stronger.


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