Written By Dr Al Hartmann And Presented By Charles Leaver
The following heading hit the news last week on September 7, 2017:
Equifax Inc. today revealed a cyber security occurrence potentially impacting around 143 million U.S. consumers. Lawbreakers exploited a U.S. site application vulnerability to gain access to certain files. Based upon the business’s investigation, the unauthorized gain access to occurred from the middle of May through July 2017.
Lessons from Past Data Breaches
If you like your occupation, appreciate your role, and dream to maintain it, then don’t leave the door open up to enemies. A major data breach frequently begins with an unpatched vulnerability that is readily exploitable. Then the inevitable occurs, the hackers are inside your defenses, the crown jewels have actually left the building, the press releases fly, costly consultants and outside legal counsel rack up billable hours, regulators come down, lawsuits are flung, and you have “some serious ‘splainin’ to do”!
We are unsure if the head splainer in the present Equifax breach will endure, as he is still in ‘splainin’ mode, asserting the breach started with the exploitation of an application vulnerability.
In such cases the typical rhumba line of resignations is – CISO first, followed by CIO, followed by CEO, followed by the board of directors shakeup (particularly the audit and corporate duty committees). Do not let this happen to your career!
Steps to Take Now
There are some commonsense steps to take to avert the unavoidable breach disaster arising from unpatched vulnerabilities:
Take stock – Inventory all data and system assets and map your network topology and attached devices and open ports. Know your network, it’s segmentation, what devices are connected, what those devices are running, what vulnerabilities those systems and apps expose, what data assets they gain access to, the level of sensitivity of those assets, what defenses are layered around those assets, and exactly what checks are in place along all prospective access points.
Improve and toughen up – Implement best practices suggestions for identity and access management, network division, firewall software and IDS setups, os and application setups, database access controls, and data file encryption and tokenization, while streamlining and cutting the number and intricacy of subsystems across your business. Anything too complex to manage is too intricate to secure. Choose configuration hardening paradise over breach response hell.
Continuously monitor and scrutinize – Periodic audits are necessary but inadequate. Continuously monitor, track, and evaluate all relevant security occasions and exposed vulnerabilities – create visibility, event capture, analysis, and archiving of every system and session login, every application launch, every active binary and vulnerability exposure, every script execution, every command provided, every networking contact, every database transaction, and every delicate data access. Any holes in your security event visibility produce an attacker free-fire zone. Develop key efficiency metrics, track them ruthlessly, and drive for relentless improvement.
Don’t accept functional excuses for insufficient security – There are always safe and effective operational policies, but they may not be painless. Not suffering a devastating data breach is way down the organizational discomfort scale from the alternative. Functional expedience or running traditional or misaligned priorities are not valid reasons for extenuation of bad cyber practices in an intensifying threat environment. Lay down the law.