White Paper Outlines Post-Pandemic Security Steps
By Roy Urrico
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Expect another eventful year full of financial fraud, vulnerability exploits, account takeover attacks, phishing, and ransomware. As news of multiple breaches and ongoing ransomware threats continue across borders and industries — including financial service organizations — the London, United Kingdom-based cybersecurity firm Secon recommends some core security risks businesses need to address this year.
Secon’s white paper, Top 10 Cyber Security Trends For 2022, provides IT departments and chief information security officers with suggested protection measures to combat cybercriminals.
With much of the labor force returning to the office due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, there still remains a substantial number of people choosing to work remotely or splitting their time between the office and home, according to Secon.
This work-life shift means that all organizations need to continue their vigilance and address the multiple susceptibilities that still linger, advised Andrew Gogarty, Secon’s chief security evangelist.
He said, “Over the last two years, organizations have quickly pivoted to remote working and accelerated cloud adoption to support business continuity during the global pandemic. This anywhere access to business-critical data resulted in security gaps and created challenges in maintaining effective cybersecurity.”
The Top 10 Cyber Threats For 2022
The white paper observed the exploitation of multiple critical vulnerabilities in virtual private network (VPN) technology and legacy infrastructure, such as Microsoft Exchange, in 2021. In addition, new attack surfaces created visibility gaps for organizations, highlighted by the pre-Christmas Log4j zero-day, a remote code execution that enables hackers to insert arbitrary code and take control of vulnerable devices.
Gogarty suggested, “2022 should be seen as an opportunity to go back and review the pivot-related changes of the last few years to see how visibility and control can be maintained to reduce business risk from cyberattacks.”
The white paper outlined the top 10 cybertrends for 2022:
1. Ransomware. Continues to impact organizations and remains an ongoing concern. “A result, many organizations have matured their backup and recovery approaches over the last few years with a view of being able to recover their data and environments should ransomware break through defenses,” said Secon in the report. This approach has helped affected organizations avoid paying ransom demands to recover their data.
2. Cloud Breaches. The cloud helps organizations improve agility through expedited application rollouts, leverage automations and integrations to simplify operations, and ultimately reduce costs to increase revenues. As cloud adoption continues to increase, “we expect to see an increase in unauthorized access and data breaches due to avoidable security gaps presented by misconfigurations and human error,” warned the white paper.
3. Vulnerability exploits. The growth in zero-day exploits (a software vulnerability exposed by attackers, but unaware to vendors) is likely to become a bigger problem for security operations teams to manage going forward. As a result, Secon expects to see increased adoption of a zero-trust approach (a more comprehensive IT security model) to help eliminate attack surface, control access data, and prevent lateral threat movements.
4. Increase in exact domain name impersonation phishing. As more organizations move to a domain-based message authentication reporting and conformance (DMARC) policy of “reject,” which instructs email receivers to deny emails that do not pass DMARC checks, Secon expects to see an increase in lookalike domain phishing. By using genuine domain names, threat actors improve their chances of recipients clicking links or interacting with fake emails. In 2021, Secon saw examples of successful credential harvesting, financial fraud, and malware payload delivery using this approach.
5. Cyberskills shortage continues. Effective cyber security requires a mix of people, tools, and processes. Resource constraints can limit an organization’s ability to reduce risk and detect and respond to cyberthreats. The report sees an increase in outsourcing for vulnerability management, detection and response to help improve resilience and enable constrained resources to focus on other priorities.
6. Insider threat. Disgruntled employees and human error can cause data breaches. “In 2021, the battle for insider threats reached a new level of complexity, with reports of ransomware gangs openly seeking insiders to assist them in infecting their company networks in exchange for generous commission,” revealed the white paper. Secon expects to see an increase in organizations leveraging user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) solutions to improve the capability in detecting and preventing insider threat activity.
7. Supply chain attacks. This remains an attractive target for criminal actors. Thus organizations need to extend risk management activities to suppliers. “We expect to see more scrutiny in supplier cyber security questionnaires moving forward. Being able to demonstrate solid cybersecurity maturity will start to become a competitive advantage for many organizations,” Secon noted.
8. State-sponsored activities. Attacks launched to seize sensitive information and snoop at federal and defense infrastructures will continue. In so doing, governmental proposals for cybersecurity policies will continue to educate organizations on improving security strength. “The call for government strategies as well as inter-government cooperation will be key to defending against these highly skilled and well-funded adversaries,” said Secon.
9. Fake news and misinformation. As post-pandemic events start to revive, the white paper warns about stepped up bogus news campaigns, troll and bot accounts, and rogue marketing distributed through social networking sites and emails. Fake news helps lure victims to malicious websites. In addition, Secon expects deep fakes to have a greater impact, with the Web 3.0, and augmented reality and virtual reality technologies.
10. Cyber Insurance. More organizations will invest in coverage beyond a paper-based exercise. Insurers now want to see how companies address cyberthreats including an increase in checks and validations made to combat risk and vulnerabilities, along with their detection and response capabilities to minimize impact.