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Cyber Security

Security Practitioners Should Work Towards Preserving Users’ Privacy As Much As Possible

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Jonathan Fischbein, CISO, Check Point Software Technologies, speaks about how data security and compliance has changed over the past year

How has the need for data security and compliance changed over the past year?
Over the past year, the “new norm” workspace expanded the organization’s perimeter. Going forward into 2021, remote work and distributed workspaces are a new reality. The need for data security and compliance was predominant as organizations had to recalibrate their cybersecurity approach around securing their corporate networks and data centers, cloud environments, and employees wherever they are. With remote work as the new standard and organisations working on multi-cloud environments, we had to make sure that all the developers and teams accessing very confidential assets such as source codes for customer PII (Personally Identifiable Information), ERP systems or financial information, etc. did not go out of the organization.

Technologies such as VDI (virtual desktop Infrastructure) together with several other security solutions are adopted to make sure that the exchange of data and information from home is secured. The use of collaboration tools has also escalated rapidly. Organizations have switched to using collaboration tools such as Zoom, Teams, and Slack more than ever before. These collaboration platforms which are an extension of an organisation on-premise infrastructure, are completely in the public cloud.

To make sure that the confidential information is secured and protected from being exposed in these environments, we had to implement SASE security or extend the CASB solutions to make sure that only the relevant people with Multi-Factor Authentication are logging in and are able to access the information.

What are the best practice standards and frameworks that can help companies achieve and maintain data security and compliance?
There are plenty of best practices, but the question is first of all how can we implement a best practice that is going to scale and be unified across the entire organization. It is not feasible to implement best practice standards and frameworks separately for each different sector within an organisation. It has to be simple. If a security policy or a solution framework is not easy to follow, it will become a major obstacle. Cyber attackers will find ways to elude and bypass it which is a very big problem.

Adopting the Data loss protection (DLP) best practice is extremely important in making sure that all information going out is filtered. Secondly, making sure that all files by default are encrypted in ways such that any member of the organization can access it, but if unwittingly that information is sent to an external 3rd party, they should not be able to access it. There are many different ways by which important data can fall into the wrong hands.

For instance, what about USB keys, are we blocking or encrypting USB keys by default? This is something very necessary that many people are improvident about. All of this together will add compliance and if someone is not compliant, they need to be held responsible. The security policy within an organisation should be respected and followed by everyone. To ensure this, there should be regular monitoring and audits conducted, and if something is not right, a root cause analysis should be conducted to find out the cause and prevent it from happening in the future.

Are there any regional data compliance regulations and frameworks, which companies that handle large amounts of public data need to follow?
Every country has its own legislation and set of regulations which are dynamic and are reformed through continuous efforts to improve it. There are many data protection laws and legislations that are put in place to secure and safeguard the protection of data and privacy within the country. Besides the regional regulations and compliance, there are also several other well-known certifications and frameworks that cybersecurity vendors or organizations operating in the cloud or other security-specific areas have to comply with.

For instance, for delivering SaaS services, we have to comply with SOC 2 framework which is a specific certification for organizations to ensure that such services are as secure as they should be. There are other standards and frameworks such as NIST, ISO 27001 or 27015, etc. which help organisation to increase the reliability of their security systems and make sure that they comply with the best practices. Talking about the public cloud, we use it as an extension of our data center.

We need to have compliance checks on this process of digitalization and adoption of the cloud. As we move the information and important data into the public cloud, we need to also add to the security to ensure that this environment is secured. There is also a necessity to maintain compliance checks and monitor it on a regular basis. This is an important part of our daily operations at Check Point Software Technologies which requires us to focus on compliance checks on GRC and infosec best practices internally as well.

What according to you are the five tips that companies need to follow to comply with data security regulations.
First of all, I would say map the challenge right. If the mapping is done in the right way then you will know exactly what is where and will be able to tackle the problem. This is very significant on the public cloud when it is not sure how dynamic or extending it is, in that case, the battle will be lost before it even starts. The second one is to make sure to understand the security controls that are already in place. As cyber-attacks become increasingly evasive, more controls are added, making security more complicated and tedious.

The next important thing is to implement the security policies that are relevant and can be met. For example, it is not possible to implement security controls of military-grade to a regular organisation, it has to be relevant and there should be a balance. Other than this, there is also a need to make sure that the security policy does not become an obstacle and allows people to work successfully, knowing that security is present on the side but does not cause an obstruction.

And lastly, it is very important to make sure that all of the regulations such as SOC 2 and PCI, etc., and many other such certifications and regulations are updated. We know that in every country legislation and regulations are changing so it is necessary to make sure that the security teams are up to date with this.

Many countries have passed their own version of data protection laws recently. How does your company help its clients with securing the data and staying compliant?
In every country or every region, there are different data protection acts and laws which are evolving and improving with time. For securing the data and staying compliant, we need to go back and see how the platforms are built. Almost every organization has adopted cloud computing to varying degrees within their business. However, with this adoption of the cloud comes the need to ensure that the organization’s cloud security strategy is capable of protecting against the top threats to cloud security.

The most challenging thing that we are dealing with in the public cloud. We have to make sure that all the important information and confidential customer data are secured and protected. The customer also has the right to be forgotten after a certain period of time, for example after a given duration of time the customer data is no longer used and is omitted or deleted. For things like opt-out or opt-in, for instance, a customer does not want anyone on the SaaS service to be able to access their data, they can opt-out. These are things that are the key drivers for making sure that the services are compliant and they also dictate its security.

At Check Point Software, a major part of our focus is around securing this environment and making sure that we comply with all the standards and frameworks and also the regional regulations with respect to the different countries.

Do you believe the line between data security and data privacy has started to blur?
The security teams within an organisation are eligible for accessing certain information and data when there is a need for a necessary investigation to be carried out or if there is something really suspicious, only when such information is accessed after the permission of the legal team. In the last six months or since covid there is a huge awakening of ransomware attacks. Besides backup as mitigation, there are also certain security solutions such as the Check Point Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), which is an endpoint detection and remediation tool and especially an anti-ransomware solution that detects if there is a ransomware attack going on.

Such technology checks everything that is happening on the endpoint and the security teams can see the logs and processes on the endpoint device. So there is a certain area that it’s getting into privacy but on the other hand, we also need to be able to ensure security against ransomware attacks, so there is a huge challenge here. We need to be very gentle and very transparent about what we do and how we do it and keep the trust of our users, customers, partners, and employees, by taking special care about their privacy and communicating with the teams and customers, because trust is something that can be lost very easily in the data privacy and security world. Therefore the answer is yes, the area is very grey and the security practitioners work towards preserving the user’s privacy as much as possible.

Cyber Security

Databases Are the Black Boxes for Most Organisations

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Nik Koutsoukos, the Vice President of SolarWinds, says databases represent the most difficult ecosystems to observe, tune, manage, and scale

Tell us about the SolarWinds database observability platform.
Nearly everything a modern business does from a digital perspective requires data. Thus, databases are among the enterprise’s most valuable IT assets. This makes it critical for organisations to ensure their databases are optimised for performance and cost.

That said, databases represent the most difficult ecosystems to observe, tune, manage, and scale. Not only are there different types of databases that serve different purposes, but they are also populated by different types of data, adding to their complexity. The implications of not having visibility into your databases can be anywhere from a costly annoyance to a significant issue that causes business service disruption. For example, most application performance issues, between 70% and 88%, are rooted in the database.

For this reason, databases have largely been seen as a black box for most organisations. You know what goes into it. And you know what comes out and how long that took. However, the complexities that occur within the black box of the database are harder to discern.

This is where the SolarWinds Database Observability comes in. This offering is built for the needs of the modern enterprise environment and helps ensure optimal performance by providing full, unified visibility and query-level workload monitoring across centralised, distributed, cloud-based, and on-premises databases. Organisations armed with SolarWinds Database Observability enhance their ability to understand database implications as new code is deployed, utilise real-time troubleshooting of database performance issues, and isolate unusual behaviour and potential issues within the database.

How does database observability help IT teams track and manage infrastructure, applications, and possible threats?
Database observability collects data about the performance, stability, and overall health of an organisation’s monitored databases to address and prevent issues, and provides deep database performance monitoring to drive speed, efficiency, and savings. With SolarWinds Observability — which supports MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server database instances — database performance, responsiveness, and error rate are conveniently displayed in dashboards.

Moreover, alerts can be configured to notify admins by email or other methods when user-defined thresholds are crossed. This allows them to identify and remedy issues before they can develop. By gaining insight into the activities taking place inside their database instances, teams can understand user experience as well as ensure systems can scale to meet demand.

What sort of enhancements has your observability platform received recently?
Just this November, we announced major enhancements in the Database Observability capability within our cloud-based SolarWinds Observability platform. SolarWinds Database Observability provides full visibility into open-source, cloud-enabled, and NoSQL databases to identify and address costly and critical threats to their systems and business. It is now possible to navigate across all of the samples collected globally, giving IT teams an empirical distribution of random samples, which resembles the main workload.

What factors according to you will drive the adoption of observability tools in the MEA region?
The Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa (META) are riding a wave of rampant digital transformation as organisations seek to remain competitive. According to IDC, digital transformation spending in the Middle East will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% over the five-year period, topping US$74 billion in 2026 and accounting for 43.2% of all ICT investments made that year. As organisations continue to shift workloads to multi- and hybrid-cloud environments, the complexity of their IT environments still continues to increase. This raises the potential for visibility and monitoring gaps which ultimately translate to underwhelming or outright frustrating experiences for end users.

Tell us about the top three trends you foresee for 2024.
There are clear signs of the continued adoption of cloud technologies to allow enterprises to become more agile, giving engineering teams the ability to focus on their core competencies and expand and contract on demand.

The adoption of Kubernetes is also increasing as the refocusing introduced by the cloud enables the move to microservices-based architectures which require sophisticated orchestration management.

Finally, we are starting to see an uptick in Vector databases, as applications demand better handling of relationships between data points.

What is going to be your top priority in terms of strategies for 2024?
We will continue to deliver on our vision of making observability easy. OpenTelemetry is driving observability, but data collection is nothing if it can’t provide insights. So, we aim to ensure the data is both collected and curated such that users find it easy to consume and extract valuable insight.

Regionally, through 2024, we will continue to focus on our key markets of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the ongoing enhancement of our product portfolio, and the strengthening of our channel ecosystem to create more markets for our business and for our partners.

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Cyber Security

ManageEngine Intros Enhanced SIEM with Dual-Layered System for Better Precision in Threat Detection

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ManageEngine, the enterprise IT management division of Zoho Corporation, today unveiled the industry’s first dual-layered threat detection system in its security information and event management (SIEM) solution, Log360. The new feature, available in Log360’s threat detection, investigation and response (TDIR) component, Vigil IQ, empowers security operations centre (SOC) teams in organizations with improved accuracy and enhanced precision in threat detection.

A quality SOC ensures people, processes, and cutting-edge technology function well. However, enterprise security is made difficult by staffing shortages and solution orchestration complexities. Following recent upgrades to the security analytics module of Log360 designed to facilitate SOC optimization through key performance metric monitoring, the company has focused on addressing pressing challenges in security operations.

“In a recent ManageEngine study, a majority of respondents revealed that their SOCs are understaffed. These resource-constrained SOCs grapple with significant obstacles, such as process silos and manual investigation of alerts, which are often non-threats, low-priority issues or false positives. These lead to extended detection and response times for actual threats. To overcome these challenges, we recognize the imperative adoption of AI & ML for contextual event enrichment and rewiring threat detection logic,” said Manikandan Thangaraj, vice president at ManageEngine.

“We pioneered a dual-layered, ML approach to heighten the precision and consistency of threat detection. First, Vigil IQ ensures genuine threats are discerned from false positives. Second, the system facilitates targeted threat identification and response. This advanced system significantly improves the accuracy of identifying threats, streamlining the detection process and allowing SOC analysts to focus their valuable time on investigating real threats.”

Key Features of the Dual-Layered Threat Detection System of Vigil IQ in Log360:
Smart Alerts: Vigil IQ, the TDIR module of Log360, now combines the power of both accuracy and precision in threat detection. With its dynamic learning capability, Vigil IQ adapts to the changing nature of network behaviour to cover more threat instances accurately. It will spot threats that get overlooked due to manual threshold settings, thereby improving the detection system’s reliability.

Proactive Predictive Analytics: Leveraging predictive analytics based on historical data patterns, Vigil IQ predicts potential security threats, facilitating the implementation of proactive measures before incidents occur. This predictive intelligence drastically reduces the mean time to detect (MTTD) threats.

Contextual Intelligence: Vigil IQ enriches alerts with deep contextual information, providing security analysts with comprehensive threat insights. This enrichment of alerts with non-event context accelerates the mean time to respond (MTTR) by delivering pertinent, precise information.

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Cyber Security

Cybersecurity on a Budget: Affordable Cybersecurity Strategies for Small Businesses

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According to a survey by Statista, typically, global enterprises dedicate a minimum of 12% of their IT expenditure to information security measures. While larger companies can afford to spend a lot on building a robust cybersecurity strategy, smaller businesses cannot. So, let’s explore some affordable cybersecurity strategies for small businesses that may cost less but have a greater impact.

Train your employees
An article from Forbes found that, annually, 34% of businesses worldwide encounter incidents involving insider attacks. Whether intentional or unintentional, employees tend to be the reason for most data breaches. Per the same article, phishing emails account for 67% of accidental insider attacks.

Phishing attacks mostly instil a sense of urgency in the victim, making it harder for them to think clearly before making a decision. For example, employees may click an email announcement about a bonus that actually came from a malicious outsider impersonating your company’s CEO.

To avoid such mistakes, it’s imperative to train employees on the types of phishing attacks and the ways to identify them. Even going as far as sending a mock phishing email occasionally to test their instincts and educate them can go a long way.

Assess your vulnerabilities
One of the most important cybersecurity strategies is to assess all your risk points by periodically reviewing all your business processes. Pay more attention to teams that deal with a lot of customer data. For instance, sales and marketing teams may handle customer data on a day-to-day basis, so they are at high risk of leaking or mishandling data. Assess their daily activities, create a record of all the risk points, and find ways to mitigate them.

Encrypt your data
Encrypting your data can be an effective method to protect it in case of data leaks. Let’s say a hacker gets hold of your company’s data, but it’s encrypted. Unless the hacker gets the encryption key from you, they cannot access your company’s data. This adds another layer of protection in addition to the everyday cybersecurity best practices that you should be following in your company. So make it a point to encrypt all your data, especially sensitive and critical data.

Limit access to critical data
Not everyone requires access to all data. Try to limit access to critical and sensitive data to fewer employees by basing access on work duties or requiring approval for access, making it a multi-step process to access it. Additionally, periodically review who has access to what data to ensure there aren’t any misallocations of access.

Secure your Wi-Fi
A secure network will reduce the chances of a hack or unauthorized access to your sensitive data. So switch your Wi-Fi to WPA2 or later, as it offers more security. Your business might already be using it, but it’s best to be sure. Additionally, change the name of your SSID and have a strong pre-shared key to keep your Wi-Fi safe from hackers.

Prevent physical theft
Through April 2023, there were 3,785 robberies in London, and 1,765 were of mobile phones. This highlights how important it is to secure your physical assets, as they might contain critical and sensitive information about your organization.

Here are some ways to protect your physical assets, such as PCs, laptops, scanners, and printers:

  1. Restrict unauthorized access to assets.
  2. Install a physical tracker on all devices to track down lost items.
  3. Enable remote wiping of data to erase information if a device is lost.

Cybersecurity strategies are seldom drafted with affordability in mind. However, it is crucial to consider them from a financial perspective, as small businesses are also increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks. These tips can help you take the first step toward creating a secure IT environment. Learn more about cybersecurity solutions for your business.

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