Do corporations really care about your security?

“Your security is important to us,” is a common phrase on corporate websites and emails, usually after some data breach that affects customers. To prove that statement, corporations invest billions of dollars in the cybersecurity industry. Most market projections say the industry is worth about $180 billion. About 15 percent of that market goes to data security. But all the indications are that we are losing the war in personal identity security That leaves is with the question: Do corporations really care about customer security?

Probably not

US Department of Health and Human Services reported recently that. in the US, there have been 2,213 breaches since 2020, with 152.1M affected individuals. That is almost half of the American population. But that is just breaches involving medical data.

The FBI reports, in the same period, more than 350 million stolen personal information records, exceeding the known population of the country. Worldwide, the number of personal identity information (PII) records exceeds one billion people.

So how bad is it? “I always tell people assume your social security number has been breached. Just assume that,” said John Meyer, senior director for Cornerstone Advisors, an organization providing security consultation to financial organizations.

So we are spending tens of billions of dollars to protect data from exfiltratation on almost a weekly basis from attacks bypassing current defenses. Is it worth the investment? Does protecting that data even matter?

Well, yes… sort of

Data security professionals say it is and it does. Communications, industry intellectual property, state secrets, and control of crucial systems must still be protected. Most professionals we talked to cite ransomware attacks as the primary reason for investing in security precuts and services.

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Mining data is daunting but crucial

The cybersecurity industry seems addicted to research but isn’t all that good at it. Mining the massive amount of data produced is daunting but crucial to everyone.

Surveys and studies are an important part of marketing form the cybersecurity industry. Cyber Protection magazine receives a lot of them. We read them all. In the two months before the RSA Conference, more than one a day came into our inbox. However, they are not a great source of independent data and insight.

Ignoring the cherry-picked data highlighting a particular company’s product or service, there are a few nuggets that, taken together, produce some interesting insights. Out of 60+ reports, we took a pass on any that were repetitive, were suspect methodologically, or effectively plagiarized from another source. We chose to look at seven with a solid methodology, representation of industry-wide concerns, and originality. The reports came from Dynatrace, Black Kite, SlashNext, Metomic, Originality AI, Logicgate, and Sophos. We found three common themes: The impact of AI on security, government regulation compliance, and understanding of security concerns on the C-suites and board levels.

Understanding security issues.

Almost every study has a common complaint. CISOs say application security is a blind spot at the CEO and board levels. They say increasing the visibility of their CEO and board into application security risk is urgently needed to enable more informed decisions to strengthen defenses.

However, Dynatrace’s study said CISOs fail to provide the C-suite and board members with clear insight into their organization’s application security risk posture. “This leaves executives blind to the potential effect of vulnerabilities and makes it difficult to make informed decisions to protect the organization from operational, financial, and reputational damage.”

Recent news shows the study may have a point. Marriott Hotels admitted that a 2018 breach was the result of inadequate encryption of customer data. In 2018 the company claimed their data was protected by 128-bit AES encryption when customer identity was only protected by an outdated hashing protocol. One can imagine the discussion between the CEO and the IT department:

CEO: is our data encrypted?
IT manager: Yeah, sort of.
CEO: OK, good enough

If the CEO doesn’t understand the difference between a hash and AES encryption, that’s a problem.

And there many be evidence that ignorance is widespread. Apricorn reported that the number of encrypted devices in surveyed companies had dropped from 80 percent to 20 percent between 2022 and 2023. Some of that could be attributed to work-from-home (WFH) growth in companies. It is also likely that companies over-reported what was encrypted simply because they did not understand what “encryption” meant. Once they learned the meaning, adjustments were made.

That lack of a foundational security technology could be a reason for the devastating growth in ransomware in the past two years.

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RSAC Reporter’s Notebook: Change is coming

The cybersecurity industry is just absolute chaos, and rightly so.  This is the industry charged with plugging dikes during the Class-5 hurricane that the internet seems to be today.  Nowhere is that chaos more evident than at RSAC just from a marketing perspective. Everyone has “ground-breaking”, “industry-leading”, and “first ever” product offerings and this year was no different.  But if you can look past the Macho-man impersonations, Formula One cars, and the mesmerizing miasma of the website and show floor, you can see an order forming in the chaos. Change is coming.

Back to step one

RSA CEO Rohit Ghai, said we have missed a step in AI development.  “We’ve seen it first as a co-pilot alongside of a human pilot and then see it taking over flying the plane.”  He said the first step is making it an advanced cockpit making it easier for less trained and experienced people to do the work.  He pointed out that cybersecurity is an industry with negative employment making it difficult to find experienced technicians to do the work.

Last year, any discussion of ethical development was met with confused stares. This year, the need for ethical AI development is taken seriously but few can see a profit in it. Cybersecurity VC Rob Ackerman (DataTribe) and Carmen Marsh, CEO of the United Cybersecurity Alliance, were open to suggestions,

“From the perspective of (companies like OpenAI), I understand the reasons to go as fast as they can to develop a true artificial intelligence, the question is, who are the people in the room guiding the process?” said Ackerman. “Once you get a diverse set of advisors working on the problem, then you do the best you can to create something ethical.  But right now, we aren’t even doing the best we can.”

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IAM in a shifting environment

The fourth annual Identity Management Day (April 9) brought the opportunity to assess and evaluate the shifting environment plaguing Identity and Access Management (IAM).

Identity plays a pivotal role in all facets of business functions. Overseeing identity and access presents challenges in determining who should have access to what.
This process requires a contextual understanding of the roles and duties of numerous individuals within an organization, ranging from system owners and supervisors to IT, security, and compliance personnel. Managing access between all these stakeholders and decision-makers while mitigating human error, minimizing excessive permissions, and preventing inappropriate access configurations presents a formidable task.

As workforces evolve, managing access privileges becomes even more complex, raising the risk of insider threats and unauthorized access. Understanding identity management is crucial across all business activities, especially with the rise of hybrid and remote work setups.

A strong IAM strategy requires enterprises to maintain a centralized and consistent view of all devices, resources, data, and users, along with timely provisioning of access to different users. When any of these elements are insufficiently operated, both the level of cybersecurity and the quality of user experience are jeopardized.


Social media hangs itself in TikTok legislation

The debate over the appropriateness of the Congressional action against TikTok can be debated for a long time and probably will until the Senate takes action—which could be weeks. What is less debatable is TikTok’s, and pretty much all of the social media industry’s contribution to the situation. In essence, social media has hung itself with its own lifeline.

The industry has long embraced Section 230, a section of Title 47 of the United States Code that classifies them as part of the telecommunications industry. That particular law immunizes social media platforms and users from legal liability for online information provided by third parties. The section also protects web hosts from liability for voluntarily and in good faith editing or restricting access to objectionable material, even if the material is constitutionally protected. These protections do not apply to what is traditionally known as “the media.” That is an important distinction.

The FCC also regulates related to the foreign ownership of telecommunications companies, broadcast, and cable companies, in that it is not allowed. If TikTok expects protection under Section 230, it has to abide by all the FCC regulations, including ownership. In that case, the legislation is consistent with US law.

News media or Telecom?

However, the CEO of TikTok has made the case that the legislation infringes on the First Amendment rights of the company, creators, and users because… wait for it … TikTok is a major source of news for users. In other words, it is a news medium. According to TikTok, 43 percent of users rely on the app for daily news. But that sets up an entirely different problem.

Print, broadcast, and cable media are bound by ethics and laws to print truth. If they knowingly publish defamatory and untrue information, they can be sued by the injured party. That was most recently and famously demonstrated in the lawsuits against Fox News and Rudy Guiliani for intentionally spreading lies about election technology related to the 2020 US election.

Those same lies were and still are spread on social media platforms, including TikTok, with impunity under the protection of Section 230. But if they are a news medium, the protections of Section 230 go away and TikTok and creators who spread disinformation can now be held accountable for libel and slander.
Social media companies can adjust algorithms limiting what kind of information can be distributed on their networks and they reluctantly apply those restrictions when they are pushed to. But they can’t be sued for disseminating that information under Section 230. If they

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Scam Bucket: Credit card fraud is inevitable

You can do everything right, but credit card fraud is inevitable.

In recent weeks, Cyber Protection Magazine has fielded calls and emails from people who have followed all the best-known techniques for securing banking, debit, and credit card information. That includes bank notifications every time the card is used, multi-factor authentication (MFA), biometrics, and limiting the use of a card for specific transactions. These readers still experienced unauthorized use of their payment cards

How does that happen?

The market for criminal use of legitimate credit cards is a well-known “secret.” The most common sites are found on the DarkWeb, but occasionally they pop up on Meta sites, where they can reap thousands of dollars before Meta gets around to kicking them off, generally without prosecution.

The criminals collect most of this information through phishing attacks using email, but also on Facebook and Instagram, and falling for a phishing scam may negate victims’ claims they “did everything right.” Criminals, however, are getting more sophisticated. Enterprises selling the card information gather it by sending fraudulent emails or text messages, posing as legitimate entities, and tricking individuals into providing their credit card information. Then there is basic social engineering, manipulating victims into revealing their credit card information through phone calls, and QR codes.

Even more sophisticated, criminals will install skimming devices on ATMs, gas pumps, or point-of-sale terminals to capture credit card information when cards are swiped or inserted. While it may not be obvious that the skimmers have been added to the terminal, it is fairly easy to determine if it is legitimate. Legitimate card readers cannot be easily removed, while skimmers may be held on with a simple adhesive. Some locations, like Costco fueling stations, place tape over the reader and, if broken, can alert users and the vendor that there may have been a breach.

No one is completely safe

But by and large, data breaches are the most common source of stolen credit card information, and that is something most victims cannot do anything about.

By hacking into databases of companies or financial institutions criminals steal terabytes of credit card information. Employees of companies or financial institutions may access and sell credit card information, posting the information of those above, carding forums. Criminals exchange...

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