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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Third-party security is almost impossible

There are many themes arising for the RSA Conference next week including tools and services to protect against originating with unsecured third parties in the supply chain. That is a crucial issue in every industry especially with almost every company doing business with a supplier in the cloud. But the scope of the problem is almost impossible to resolve. The reasons are myriad.

With every Fortune 1000 business and government agency doing business with tens of thousands of third-party suppliers, the odds of finding one chink in the security protocols are very good for the criminals and state actors looking to do damage.

Social engineering can easily bypass the strongest technical defenses. It only takes a single lapse in digital hygiene to open the door to man-in-the-middle attacks, invite malware injections, and launch credential stuffing. It is also the favorite strategy of ransomware gangs.

Ransomware grabs headlines and remains highly lucrative for ransomware gangs. When compared to other forms of cybercrime, however, ransomware is really a minor issue. There are more than 33 million small businesses (under $100 million in revenue) operating in the United States alone representing 99 percent of all businesses. However, according to a study produced by the Black Kite Research and Intelligence Team, less than 5000 of them experienced a successful ransomware attack in the last 12 months...

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GDPR and the need for Cyber Insurance in Europe

GDPR, with its rigorous data protection standards and hefty fines for non-compliance, has heightened awareness about data privacy and reshaped the demand for cyber insurance.

Cyber insurance offers a financial safety net that can help organisations mitigate the potentially devastating financial impacts of cyber incidents, including data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other forms of cybercrime.

Organisations should consider cyber insurance as an integral component of their risk management strategy, particularly given the escalating landscape of cyber threats and regulatory requirements.

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