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Cyber Security

New Survey Shows Growing Crisis of Trust with Microsoft and Legacy IT Vendors

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CrowdStrike has announced the release of the 2021 CrowdStrike Global Security Attitude Survey, conducted by independent research firm Vanson Bourne. The report highlights ransomware payout demands and extortion fees are massively increasing, while trust in legacy IT vendors have dipped and organizations are in fact getting slower at detecting cybersecurity incidents.

“The survey presents an alarming picture of the modern threat landscape, demonstrating that adversaries continue to exploit organizations around the world and circumvent outdated technologies. Today’s threat environment is costing businesses around the world millions of dollars and causing additional fallout,” said Michael Sentonas, chief technology officer at CrowdStrike. “The evolving remote workplace is surely accentuating challenges for businesses as legacy software like Microsoft struggles to keep up in today’s accelerated digital world.”

“This presents a clear clarion call that businesses need to change the way they operate and evaluate more stringently the suppliers they work with,” added Sentonas. “The threat landscape continues to evolve at a frightening pace and it’s obvious that modern organizations need a cloud-native, holistic end-to-end platform approach to tackle and remediate threats in a swift manner.”

Recent attacks such as Sunburst and Kaseya have once again brought supply chain attacks to the forefront as evidenced by 63% of respondents admitting their organization is losing trust in legacy vendors, like Microsoft, due to frequent security incidents against these previously trusted technology suppliers.

The issue is so widespread that more than 3 out of every 4 respondents (77%) have suffered a supply chain attack. It’s clear that swift action and newer technologies will be required by businesses looking to increase their cyber resiliency.

  • 45% of respondents had experienced at least one supply chain attack in the past 12 months.
  • 64% of respondents cannot claim that all their software suppliers have been vetted in the last 12 months
  • 84% of respondents are fearful of supply chain attacks becoming one of the biggest cybersecurity threats in the next three years

Survey data indicates that ransomware attacks are continuing to prove effective, with average ransomware payments increasing 62.7% in 2021 (from $1.1 million in 2020 to $1.79 million in 2021). Not only that, organizations are almost universally getting hit with “double extortion,” when threat actors not only demand a ransom to decrypt data, they additionally threaten to leak or sell the data unless the victims pays more money. Survey data shows that 96% of organizations that paid a ransom were forced to pay additional extortion fees, costing businesses on average $792,493. Additional notable findings include the following:

  • 66% of respondents’ organizations suffered at least one ransomware attack in the past 12 months
  • More than half (57%) of businesses did not have a comprehensive ransomware defense strategy in place
  • The average ransomware payment was $1.34 million in EMEA and $2.35 million in APAC and $1.55 million in the US
  • The average ransom payment increased by 63% in 2021 to $1.79 million (USD), compared to $1.10 million (USD) in 2020. CrowdStrike Intelligence has observed the average ransom demand from attackers is $6 million. While attackers aren’t getting quite the amounts they are seeking, they are still earning massive payouts. CrowdStrike attributes this to companies understanding both the threat and their exposure, and their ability to negotiate with attackers.

CrowdStrike encourages organizations to strive to meet the 1-10-60 rule, where security teams demonstrate the ability to detect threats within the first minute of an intrusion, investigate and understand the threat within 10 minutes, and contain and eradicate the threat within 60 minutes. In today’s remote-first digital world, organizations continue to face massive challenges in detecting security incidents, as evidenced by eye-opening survey data.

  • On average, respondents estimated it would take 146 hours to detect a cybersecurity incident, from 117 hours in 2020.
  • Once detected, it takes organizations 11 hours to triage, investigate and understand a security incident and 16 hours to contain and remediate one
  • 69% of respondents said that their organization suffered an incident because of staff working remotely

In the 2021 Threat Hunting Report, CrowdStrike’s Falcon OverWatch reported that eCrime threat actors are able to move laterally across an organization’s network in an average of 92 minutes. This paints a sharp contrast between the capabilities of today’s swift attackers and defenders who are increasingly slowed down by high volumes of alerts and tools that lack integrated workflows. Only CrowdStrike provides customers with the powerful fusion of world-class technology combined with elite threat hunting and human expertise that is mandatory to see and stop today’s most sophisticated threats.

Channel Talk

Entrust Signs Up CyberKnight as New Distributor for the Middle East Region

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Entrust has announced its new distribution partnership with CyberKnight to address compliance and simplify cyber threat management. In line with evolving regional compliance regulations and standards, Entrust’s new partnership with CyberKnight as its newest regional distributor will see the two companies jointly build solutions for the Middle East market that achieve the highest standards of cyber security.

Entrust and CyberKnight are strategically aligned on their security vision with a ‘Zero Trust’ philosophy at its core. With the aim of increasing access to the highest standards of security for Middle East customers, Entrust’s new partnership with CyberKnight will further enable the delivery of digital security solutions to customers, by tapping into CyberKnight’s local network to offer advice, education, expertise, and confidence.

“Digital transformation in the Middle East continues to evolve at a phenomenal pace, especially as the demands of the past two years called for a rapid implementation of cloud-based systems to manage the unprecedented shift to remote workforces,” said Scott Kemish, Global Vice President Channel Sales, Entrust. “In order to support local customers championing cloud adoption while meeting the requirements of local compliance regulations, as well as protecting themselves against an all-time-high of cybercrime, we have entered a stage of channel development that requires our channel distribution partners to stand up and make a difference; CyberKnight has all of the right attributes that we are looking for in the market.”

“Our partnership with CyberKnight further cements our commitment to the region, and we look forward to helping more customers transform their digital security in line with the requirements of this new age,” Scott continued. Over the last two years, the rapid adoption of cloud solutions to enable remote working resulted in an increase in cybercrime globally, as it provided cybercriminals more opportunities to target victims at home. Cybercrime is set to cost the global economy $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. And industry research reveals that, in the UAE, the average cost of remediating a ransomware attack is over $500,000.

“The pandemic has reminded us that cybercriminals are constantly fine-tuning their skills and techniques. If we do not help our customers do the same, then they will be playing catch-up,” said Avinash Advani, Founder & CEO of CyberKnight. “Our partnership with Entrust as our newest vendor will enable us to continue helping customers fill the existing gap between their digital transformation efforts, and their security posture by securing their digital ecosystems as well as supporting them with their zero-trust security journey. We are very excited about working with them to further support our local customers across the region.

Entrust’s certificate solutions, PKI, identity and access management, encryption key management and hardware security modules are available to local customers through the partnership. Later this year, Entrust will join CyberKnight’s annual roadshow, set to take place in November 2022.

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Cyber Security

The Rising Risk of Ransomware Attacks on Organisations and How to Mitigate it

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According to the 2022 SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, “ransomware volume increased 105% year over year and is up 232% since 2019.” With the risk of ransomware attacks continuing to rise, it’s crucial to shield your organization from these attacks to avoid unwanted financial fallout.

Ransomware attacks commonly target an organization’s file servers and databases using malicious code to encrypt files such as documents, images, and videos on the system. Ransomware can also be programmed to find vulnerabilities on the network and use these to spread to other systems in an organization. Ransomware attacks are typically executed through social engineering like widespread phishing attacks, but cybercriminals can also specifically target a certain entity, sometimes a popular one. These attacks have the potential to cripple an entire organization’s database.

Once encrypted by ransomware, files are almost impossible to retrieve without the decryption key. To get this key, the victim is demanded to pay a ransom—often millions of dollars—within a short timeframe, usually 24 to 48 hours. If the victim organization keeps a backup of its files, then it’ll be able to restore those files and avoid paying the ransom. If not, the organization often has no option but to pay the ransom.

However, if you fall victim to a ransomware attack, it’s strongly recommended that you don’t pay the ransom to regain access to your encrypted files. This is because you are relying on the integrity of a cybercriminal. The cybercriminal may not give you the decryption key after the transaction or, even worse, they may continue to target your organization and repeatedly demand higher ransoms now that they know you’re willing to pay.

In recent years, it has become much easier to develop ransomware, resulting in the continued rise in ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals can develop and execute a ransomware attack with readily available open-source code and with easy-to-use drag-and-drop platforms. It is also hard to track these cybercriminals because transactions involving ransomware are commonly made using cryptocurrency.

Ransomware attacks can result in exploitation and loss of your organization’s critical and confidential data. But there are steps you can take to prevent and mitigate these attacks.

Back-Up Your Data
Take regular backups of all your files and data; this way, even if your system is infected, you can erase the infected files and recover them using your backups. This cannot prevent a ransomware attack, but it can mitigate the risk of losing all your data.

Keep Your System and Software Up-to-Date
Maintain a healthy patching routine. This includes updating your software as soon as possible when patches for security vulnerabilities are released by vendors. To keep your device secure from ransomware attacks, use a security solution that can identify these attacks at their earliest stages and mitigate their impact.

Be Careful Where You Click
Beware of social engineering attacks and email scams, and avoid downloading files from untrusted sources as these can result in your system being exploited by malicious software like ransomware. What makes social engineering attacks so dangerous is that they take advantage of human error rather than system vulnerabilities.

Create Awareness Among Employees About Ransomware Attacks
Since human error is a major vector cybercriminal manipulate to carry out ransomware attacks, it is essential to educate and train employees on social engineering and email phishing attacks to effectively secure your organization against them.

ManageEngine’s security information and event management (SIEM) solutions protect your enterprise network from cyberattacks and insider threats. SIEM solutions collect and analyze the security data generated by your devices in real-time, alerting you about vulnerabilities, indicators of compromise, and any suspicious activity to help you mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks.

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Cyber Security

Ransomware Hit 59% of UAE Organizations Surveyed for Sophos’ Annual “State of Ransomware 2022”

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Sophos has released its annual international survey and review of real-world ransomware experiences in the State of Ransomware 2022. The report shows that 59% of UAE organizations surveyed were hit with ransomware in 2021, up from 38% in 2020.

The report summarizes the impact of ransomware on 5,600 mid-sized organizations in 31 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The main findings for the UAE in the State of Ransomware 2022 global survey, which covers ransomware incidents experienced during 2021, as well as related cyber insurance issues, include:

  • Many organizations rely on cyber insurance to help them recover from a ransomware attack – 85% of mid-sized organizations had cyber insurance that covers them in the event of a ransomware attack – and, in 100% of incidents, the insurer paid some or all the costs incurred.
  • Ninety-eight percent of those with cyber insurance said that their experience of getting it has changed over the last 12 months, with higher demands for cybersecurity measures, more complex or expensive policies, and fewer organizations offering insurance protection.

“The findings suggest we may have reached a peak in the evolutionary journey of ransomware, where attackers’ greed for ever higher ransom payments is colliding head-on with a hardening of the cyber insurance market as insurers increasingly seek to reduce their ransomware risk and exposure,” said Wisniewski. “In recent years, it has become increasingly easy for cybercriminals to deploy ransomware, with almost everything available as-a-service. Second, many cyber insurance providers have covered a wide range of ransomware recovery costs, including the ransom, likely contributing to ever higher ransom demands. However, the results indicate that cyber insurance is getting tougher and in the future ransomware victims may become less willing or less able to pay sky-high ransoms. Sadly, this is unlikely to reduce the overall risk of a ransomware attack. Ransomware attacks are not as resource intensive as some other, more hand-crafted cyberattacks, so any return is a return worth grabbing and cybercriminals will continue to go after the low hanging fruit.”

Sophos recommends the following best practices to help defend against ransomware and related cyberattacks:

  1. Install and maintain high-quality defenses across all points in the organization’s environment. Review security controls regularly and make sure they continue to meet the organization’s needs.
  2. Proactively hunt for threats to identify and stop adversaries before they can execute their attack – if the team lacks the time or skills to do this in house, outsource to a Managed Detection and Response (MDR) specialist.
  3. Harden the IT environment by searching for and closing key security gaps: unpatched devices, unprotected machines, open RDP ports, etc. Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions are ideal for this purpose.
  4. Prepare for the worst. Know what to do if a cyber incident occurs and keep the plan updated.
  5. Make backups, and practice restoring from them so that the organization can get back up and running as soon as possible, with minimum disruption.
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